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prove them to be drawn from the vivid nature before the poet's eye, and not from the dimmer result of the reflection of his mind. The landscape, indeed, with all its shades, is of his own country, and when he speaks of “ towers and battlements”
Bosom'd high in tufted trees,
The Cynosure of neighb'ring eyes, we may suppose that his sight was directed immediately to the woods and the mansion of Harefield.
These poems, then, must be received as the indisputable natives of our island; and they cannot be considered as born after their parent's return from the continent, when his talents were withdrawn from the Muses; and when, immersed in the capital and in polemics, his thought could not easily escape to play and to cull flowers among the scenery of the country. L'Allegro and Il Penseroso, therefore, were certainly written at Horton, and, probably, at no long period before the Lycidas, which was the last of our author's works while he resided with his father. They were unquestionably composed in the happiest humour of the poet's inind, when his fancy was all sunshine, and
..... no cloud, or, to obstruct her view,
We may contemplate them not as the effects, or qualities (if the allusion may be pardoned) but as the very substance of poetry, as its “ hidden soul untied,” as it were, and brought forward to our sight.
It is not easy to adjust the precedency between these victorious efforts of the descriptive Muse. No passage in Il Penseroso is, perhaps, equally happy with the following in L'Allegro:
And ever against eating cares
But, were my judgment to decide, I should award the palm, though with some hesitation, to Il Penseroso. The portrait of contemplation; the address to Philomel; the image of the moon, wandering through heaven's pathless way; the slow swinging of the curfeu over some wide-water'd shore; the faming of the night-lamp in some lonely tower; the unsphering of the spirit of Plato to disclose the residence of the unbodied soul; the arched walks of twilight groves; the mysterious dream by the murmuring waters; the sweet music of the friendly spirit of the wood; the "pale and studious cloister; the religious light thrown through the storied windows; the pealing organ, and finally the peaceful hermitage-form together such a inass of poetic imagery as was never before crowded into an equal space: the impression made by it on the imagination is to be felt, and not explained.
Although these poems obtained some early notice, the number of their admirers
y “ Perhaps," says Mr.Warton on this line, “ To walk the studious cloisters pale,
The studious cloister's pale."
If this unlucky "perhaps” were to be regarded, the beauty of the line would be injured, and its propriety annihilated. Pale, as an epithet to cloister, is most happily poetic, and holds a large and animated picture to the imagination. It shows to us the ghostly light of the place, and it shows to us also the sickly cheek of timorous superstition, the wan and sombre countenance of studious and contemplative melancholy. The cloister's pale, or fence, is tautological and weak; and to walk a pale, which, if it mean any thing, must mean to walk upon a pale, is a feat of rather difficult accomplishment. To walk, when associated with place, and not determined by any preposition, will be always found, I believe, to imply upon or on. I walk the cloisters, I walk the road i.e. I walk upon the road, or on the ground of the cloisters. I walk the pale, or I walk the inclosure, would be strange english, without the qualification of without or within, or round, or by, &c. &c.
was for a long time small. Even from the wits of our Augustan age, as the age of Addison and Pope has sometimes been called, their share of notice was inconsiderable : and it is only in what may be considered as the present generation, that they have acquired any large proportion of their just praise. Their reputation seems to be still increasing; and we may venture to predict that it will yet increase, till some of those great vicissitudes, to which all that is human is perpetually exposed, and which all must eventually experience, shall blot out our name and our language, and bury us in barbarism. But even amid the ruins of Britain, Milton will survive: Europe will preserve one portion of him; and his native strains will be cherished in the expanding bosom of the great queen of the Atlantic, when his own London may present the spectacle of Thebes, and his Thames roll a silent and solitary stream through heaps of blended desolation.
? I am reminded on this occasion of a beautiful passage in the “ Essay on the dramatic character of Sir John Falstaff," written by the late Maurice Morgann, Esq. " Yet whatever may be the neglect of some, or the censure of others, there are those who firmly believe that this wild and uncultivated * Bar
* Shakspeare, so called by Voltaire.
A few months before the composition of
. Tarian has not obtained one half of his fame." —When the
hand of time shall have brushed off his present editors and commentators, and when the very name of Voltaire, and even the memory of the language, in which he has written, shall be no more, the Apalachian mountains, the banks of the Ohio, and the plains of Sciola shall resound with the accents of this barbarian. In his native tongue he shall roll the genuine pas. sions of nature: nor shall the griefs of Lear be alleviated, or the charms and wit of Rosalind be abated by time," p. 64.,
This Essay forms a more honourable monument to the me. mory of Shakspeare than any which has been reared to him by the united labours of his commentators. The portrait, of which I have exbibited only a part, is drawn with so just, so discriminating, and so vivid a pencil, as to be unequalled, un. less it be by the celebrated delineation of the same great dramatist by the hand of Dryden.
With the name of Maurice Morgann, who has fondled my infancy in his arms; who was the friend of my youth, who ex. panded the liberality of my opening heart, and first taught me to think, and to judge,---with this interesting name so many sadly pleasing recollections are associated that I cannot dismiss it without reluctance. He was my friend: but he was the friend also of his species. The embrace of his mind was ample; that of his benevolence was unbounded. With great rectitude of understanding, he possessed a fancy that was always creative and playful. On every subject, for on every subject he thought acutely and deeply, his ideas were original and striking. Even when he was in error he continued to be specious and to please: and he never failed of your applause, though he might sometimes of your assent. When your judgment coyly held back, your imagination yielded to his seductive addresses ; and you wished him to be right, when you were forced to pronounce that he was wrong. This is spoken only of those webs, which his fancy perpetually spun, and dipped in the rain-bow: his heart was always in the right. With a mind of too fine a texture for business; too theoretical and abstract to be executive,