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PAPERS ON LITERATURE AND ART.
such as might easily have been taken from their works. But the thoughts imputed to them they might have spoken, only in better and more concise terms, and the facts—are facts. So let this be gently received with the rest of the modern tapestries. We can no longer weave them of the precious materials princes once furnished, but we can give, in our way, some notion of the original design.
It was an afternoon of one of the longest summer days. The sun had showered down his amplest bounties, the earth put on her richest garment to receive them. The clear heavens seemed to open themselves to the desire of mortals; the day had been long enough and bright enough to satisfy an immortal.
In a green lane leading from the town of Salisbury, in England, the noble stranger was reclining beneath a tree. His eye was bent in the direction of the town, as if upon some figure approaching or receding ; but its inward turned expression showed that he was, in fact, no longer looking, but lost in thought.
“ Happiness !” thus said his musing mind, " it would seem at such hours and in such places as if it not merely hovered over the earth, a poetic presence to animate our pulses and give us courage for what must be, but sometimes alighted. Such fulness of expression pervades these fields, these trees, that it excites, not rupture, but a blissful sense of peace. Yet, even were this permanent in the secluded lot, would I accept it in exchange for the bitter sweet of a wider, freer life? I could not if I would; yet, methinks, I would not if I could. But here comes George, I will argue the point with him.”
He rose from his seat and went forward to meet his brother, who at this moment entered the lane.
The two forms were faithful expressions of their several lives. There was a family likeness between them, for they shared in that beauty of the noble English blood, of which, in these days,
few types remain : the Norman tempered by the Saxon, the fire of conquest by integrity, and a self-contained, inflexible habit of mind. In the times of the Sydneys and Russells, the English body was a strong and nobly-proportioned vase, in which shone a steady and powerful, if not brilliant light.
The chains of convention, an external life grown out of proportion with that of the heart and mind, have destroyed, for the most part, this dignified beauty. There is no longer, in fact, an aristocracy in England, because the saplings are too puny to represent the old oak. But that it once existed, and did stand for what is best in that nation, any collection of portraits from the sixteenth century will show.
The two men who now met had character enough to exhibit in their persons not only the stock from which they sprang, but what was special in themselves harmonized with it.
There were ten years betwixt them, but the younger verged on middle age ; and permanent habits, as well as tendencies of character, were stamped upon their persons.
Lord Edward Herbert was one of the handsomest men of his day, of a beauty alike stately, chivalric and intellectual. His person and features were cultivated by all the disciplines of a time when courtly graces were not insignificant, because a mon. arch mind informed the court, nor warlike customs, rude or mechanical, for individual nature had free play in the field, except as restrained by the laws of courtesy and honor. The steel glove became his hand, and the spur his heel ; neither can we fancy him out of his place, for any place he would have made his own.
But all this grace and dignity of the man of the world was in him subordinated to that of the man, for in his eye, and in the brooding sense of all his countenance, was felt the life of one who, while he deemed that his present honour lay in playing well the part assigned him by destiny, never forgot that it was
PAPERS ON LITERATURE AND ART.
but a part, and fed steadily his forces on that within that passes show.
It has been said, with a deep wisdorn, that the figure we most need to see before us now is not that of a saint, martyr, sage, poet, artist, preacher, or any other whose vocation leads to a seclusion and partial use of faculty, but “a spiritual man of the world,” able to comprehend all things, exclusively dedicate to
Of this idea we need a new expression, peculiarly adapted to our time; but in the past it will be difficult to find one more adequate than the life and person of Lord Herbert.
George Herbert, like his elder brother, was tall, erect, and with the noble air of one sprung from a race whose spirit has never been broken or bartered; but his thin form contrasted with the full development which generous living, various exercise, and habits of enjoyment had given his brother. Nor had his features that range and depth of expression which tell of many-coloured experiences, and passions undergone or vanquished. The depth, for there was depth, was of feeling rather than experience. A penetrating sweetness beamed from bim on the observer, who was rather raised and softened in himself than drawn to think of the being who infused this heavenly fire into his veins. Like the violet, the strong and subtle odour of his mind was arrayed at its source with such an air of meekness, that the receiver blessed rather the liberal winds of heaven than any earth-born flower for the gift.
Raphael has lifted the transfigured Saviour only a little way from the ground; but in the forms and expression of the feet, you see that, though they may walk there again, they would tread far more naturally a more delicate element. This buoyant lightness, which, by seeking, seems to tread the air, is indi. cated by the text : “ Beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who come with glad tidings.” And such thoughts were suggested by the gait and gesture of George Herbert, especially
as he approached you. Through the faces of most men, ever of geniuses, the soul shines as through a mask, or, at best, a crystal ; we look behind a shield for the heart. But, with those of seraphic nature, or so filled with spirit that translation may be near, it seems to hover before or around, annou
ouncing or enfolding them like a luminous atmosphere. Such an one advances like a vision, and the eye must steady itself before a spiritual light, to recognize him as a reality.
Some such emotion was felt by Lord Herbert as he looked on his brother, who, for a moment or two, approached without observing him, but absorbed and radiant in his own happy thoughts. They had not met for long, and it seemed that George had grown from an uncertain boy, often blushing and shrinking either from himself or others, into an angelic clearness, such as the noble seeker had not elsewhere found.
But when he was seen, the embrace was eager and affectionate as that of the brother and the child.
“ Let us not return at once,” said Lord Herbert. “ I had al. ready waited for you long, and have seen all the beauties of the parsonage and church.”
“ Not many, I think, in the eyes of such a critic,” said George, as they seated themselves in the spot his brother had before chosen for the extent and loveliness of prospect.
Enough to make me envious of you, if I had not early seen enough to be envious of none. Indeed, I know not if such a feeling can gain admittance to your little paradise, for I never heard such love and reverence expressed as by your people foi
George looked upon his brother with a pleased and open sweet
Lord Herbert continued, with a little hesitation—" To tell the truth, I wondered a little at the boundless affection they declared. Our mother has long and often told me of your pure and beneficent life, and I know what you have done for this place
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and people, but, as I remember, you were of a choleric tem-
Well, and do you not sometimes, by flashes of that, lose all you may have gained ?"
“ It does not often now,” he replied, “find open way. My Master has been very good to me in suggestions of restraining prayer, which come into my mind at the hour of temptation.”
Lord H.-Why do you not say, rather, that your own discern. ing mind and maturer will show you more and more the folly and
wrong of such outbreaks. George H.—Because that would not be saying all that I think. At such times I feel a higher power interposed, as much as I see that yonder tree is distinct from myself. Shall I repeat to you some poor verses in which I have told, by means of various like. nesses, in an imperfect fashion, how it is with me in this matter?
Lord H.—Do so ! I shall hear them gladly ; for I, like you, though with less time and learning to perfect it, love the delibe. rate composition of the closet, and believe we can better under. stand one another by thoughts expressed so, than in the more glowing but hasty words of the moment. George H.
Prayer—the church's banquet; angel's age;
God's breath in man returning to his birth ;
The Christian plummet, sounding heaven and earth.
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Engine against th’ Almighty; sinner's tower ;
Reversed thunder; Christ's side-piercing spear;
A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear.
Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,
Exalted manna; gladness of the best;