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O heav'nly Fool, thy most kiss-worthy face
But they are not rich in words only, in vague and unlocalised feelings—the failing too much of some poetry of the present day—they are full, material, and circumstantiated. Time and place appropriates every one of them. It is not a fever of passion wasting itself upon a thin diet of dainty words, but a transcendent passion pervading and illuminating action, pursuits, studies, feats of arms, the opinions of contemporaries and his judgment of them. An historical thread runs through them, which almost affixes a date to them; marks the when and where they were written.
I have dwelt the longer upon what I conceive the merit of these poems, because I have been hurt by the wantonness (I wish I could treat it by a gentler name) with which W. H.1 takes every occasion of insulting the memory of Sir Philip Sydney. But the decisions of the Author of Table Talk, &c. (most profound and subtle where they are, as for the most part, just) are more safely to be relied upon, on subjects and authors he has a partiality for, than on such as he has conceived an accidental prejudice against. Milton wrote Sonnets, and was a king-hater ; and it was congenial perhaps to sacrifice a courtier to a patriot. But I was unwilling to lose a fine idea from my mind. The noble images, passions, sentiments, and poetical delicacies of character, scattered all over the Arcadia (spite of some stiffness and encumberment), justify to me the
1 [William Hazlitt. ]
character which his contemporaries have left us of the writer. I cannot think with the Critic, that Sir Philip Sydney was that opprobrious thing which a foolish nobleman in his insolent hostility chose to term him. I call to mind the epitaph made on him, to guide me to juster thoughts of him; and I repose upon the beautiful lines in the “Friend's Passion for his Astrophel,” printed with the Elegies of Spenser and others.
You knew-who knew not Astrophel ?
Within these woods of Arcady
The Muses met him every day,
When he descended down the mount,
To hear him speak, and sweetly smile,
A sweet attractive kind of grace;
I trow that count'nance cannot lye,
Above all others this is he,
That love and honour might agree,
Sweet saints, it is no sin or blame
Did never love so sweetly breathe
He wrote of Love with high conceit,
And Beauty rear'd above her height. Or let any one read the deeper sorrows (grief running into rage) in the Poem,—the last in the collection accompanying the above, which from internal testimony I believe to be Lord Brooke's,—beginning with “ Silence augmenteth grief,”—and then seriously ask himself, whether the subject of such absorbing and confounding regrets could have been that thing which Lord Oxford termed him.
AN STUART once told us that he did not
remember that he ever deliberately walked into
the Exhibition at Somerset House in his life. He might occasionally have escorted a party of ladies across the way that were going in ; but he never went in of his own head. Yet the office of the Morning Post newspaper stood then just where it does now—we are carrying you back, Reader, some thirty years or morewith its gilt-globe-topt front facing that emporium of our artists' grand Annual Exposure. We sometimes wish that we had observed the same abstinence with Daniel.
A word or two of D. S. He ever appeared to us one of the finest tempered of Editors. Perry, of the Morning Chronicle, was equally pleasant, with a dash, no slight one either, of the courtier. S. was frank, plain, and English all over. We have worked for both these gentlemen.
It is soothing to contemplate the head of the Ganges ; to trace the first little bubblings of a mighty river ;
With holy reverence to approach the rocks,
Fired with a perusal of the Abyssinian Pilgrim's exploratory ramblings after the cradle of the infant Nilus, we well remember on one fine summer holyday (a “whole day's leave" we called it at Christ's Hospital) sallying forth at rise of sun, not very well provisioned either for such an undertaking, to trace the current of the New River-Middletonian stream!—to its scaturient source, as we had read, in meadows by fair Amwell. Gallantly did we commence our solitary quest—for it was essential to the dignity of a Discovery, that no eye of schoolboy, save our own, should beam on the detection. By flowery spots, and verdant lanes skirting Hornsey, Hope trained us on in many a balling turn ; endless hopeless meanders, as it seemed ; or as if the jealous waters had dodged us, reluctant to have the humble spot of their nativity revealed; till spent, and nigh famished, before set of the same sun, we sate down somewhere by Bowes Farm, near Tottenham, with a tithe of our proposed labours only yet accomplished; sorely convinced in spirit, that that Brucian enterprise was as yet too arduous for our young shoulders.
Not more refreshing to the thirsty curiosity of the traveller is the tracing of some mighty waters up to their shallow fontlet, than it is to a pleased and candid reader to go back to the inexperienced essays, the first callow flights in authorship, of some established name in literature ; from the Gnat which preluded to the Æneid, to the Duck which Samuel Johnson trod on.
In those days every Morning Paper, as an essential