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of Pythagoras, that he let fall a heavy blow upon his beast's crupper, and disappeared. If the Ass be not entitled to rank as an esquire, Cervantes makes him at least a squire-bearer, whereas the squire himself is only a shield-bearer; and our long-eared hero was formally dubbed a gentleman by King Charles. A Mayor of Rochester, just at the commencement of an elaborate address to that Monarch, was accompanied by the loud braying of an Ass, when his Majesty exclaimed, “One at a time, Gentlemen, one at a time.” A common tradition attributes the black line, or cross, upon the shoulders of this animal to the blow inflicted by Balaam; in allusion to which a witling, who had been irreverently sneering at the miracles in the presence of Dr. Parr, said triumphantly, “ Well, Doctor, what say you to the story of Balaam's Ass, and the cross upon its shoulders ?"_" Why, Sir," replied the Doctor, “I
had a little more of the Cross, and a great deal less of the Ass, it would be much better for you." A singer once complaining to Sheridan that himself and his brother (both of whom were deemed simpletons) had been ordered to take Ass's milk, but that on account of its expensiveness, he hardly knew what they should do.“ Do?" cried Sheridan, " why suck one another to be sure."
Gentle reader, whether of that sex whose limbs bang together against the ribs of this forlorn animal, from a side-saddle, or of that more ponderous gender that doth bestride his narrow back like a Colossus, if in thy summer jaunts to Margate or Brighton, thou dost make him minister to thy pleasures, toiling through the sun and dust to bear thee to cake-smelling bowers, and tea-dispensing shades, O, bethink thee of his regal stalls in Palestine, and grudge him not the thistle by the way. side: recall his silken housings, and have pity on his gored and ragged sides: remember his glorious burden in the valley of Cedron, and respect his present wretchedness : muse upon the fate of Balaam, and cast away thy staff.
Of souls rejoicing on their Maker's day,
And my dark spirit, on her mortal way,
Her shews of transient date, and gauds, and play,
Beating her prison-house and bonds of clay,
Pour your rich beams with more celestial fire,
And lead me, pure in heart, the path to God-
THE POETRY OF LIFE.
LIFE, like literature, has its poetry, the illusions of which are equally enchanting with the spells worked around the mind by the Muses of Parnassus. They “steep the senses in forgetfulness" of what is base and unworthy, and lead us into fairy retreats and charmed bowers. The poetry of life comprises our agreeable sensations, our tendernesses, our magical associations of thought, our spirit-stirring emotions, and our noblest enthusiasms. With the fatiguing 'realities of our being it has little connexion, but all that is just and generous belongs to it. The indefinable feelings of the soul, the overflowings of the heart, the “ thoughts that lie too deep for tears," the hallowed recollections of by-gone events, the impressions made by the beautiful and the sublime, the nameless objects that embody themselves in dim outlines on the mind, but of which we can scarcely discern the forms—these compose the poetry of our existence. Its character is strictly ideal : it has little connexion with business, or trade, or traffic, with eating or drinking, or with any of the common occupations which we pursue. It is essence, not gross matter-spirit, not substance.
Its character is varied, and some temperaments partake more largely of its impressions than others. The feelings experienced while gazing upon a calm summer ocean at eve, on a leafless tree, or on the “ brown horrors” of an autumnal landscape, the odour of a flower sometimes, the thrilling felt at a tale of heroic deeds, the delight experienced on treading upon a spot consecrated in history, or visiting
“ Lands renown'd in monuments of Eld," the melancholy remembrance of the dead, the ardour of genius, the zeal of devotion, and similar sensations, belong to it. The young love of the innocent heart, its timid advances, its golden hopes, and its dreams of happiness, even the aims of ambition and the thirst of glory, are equally its property. “ The sky-tinctured” desires and hopes with which we build edifices of unsubstantial bliss that melt away as soon as erected, and the schemes which we project for the future without a probability of their completion, are among its cherished illusions. Though but the mentis gratissimus error of our lives, it is, perhaps, the attribute of our existence to which we are most attached. The mere business and habits that every revolving day repeats are dull prose which we read as a task-like the Statutes at Large full of endless tautology and sickening repetition. The varied sensations that constitute the poetry of life never tire: they were framed to counterbalance the irksomeness of necessary duties. The pictures of imagination, tinged with “colours dipped in Heaven," prevent our being chilled to death by the cold ceremonious routine of matter-of-fact existence. Thus, whatever embellishes, sweetens, or refines life, from the vivid impressions of youth to the mournful but pleasing reminiscences of age, is a part of life's poetry.
I threw up my window yesterday to listen to the resounding or rimbombo of the successive peals of thunder during a storm : they followed one another like the echo of cannon discharged among mountains, with a deep cavernous protraction of sound. The pleasure I experienced at the moment belonged to the class which I have been
VOL. V. NO, XX.
describing. How different from such enjoyments, as are merely sensual! The latter may be designated as the prose of our existence; and some of it is, no doubt, pleasant reading, but it wants the spirit, the stamp of immateriality, which the offspring of the mind, those “ fairy creatures of the element," always bear with them. They seem not to belong to this world; we get them so by snatches and glimpses ; they are like the nebulu seen in the Heavens by astronomers, which appear to be little openings into regions of infinite light and splendour. The sensations which, viewing the subject in this way, we may properly denominate poetical, give to existence uncloying delight. Unembodied as they are, they cannot one of them be spared from our scanty stock of pleasures. They give us a fore-taste of what is perhaps the nature of the enjoyments of spiritual beings; for they seem under the direction of agents of a superior nature.
What a reaching out of the soul, an ardent longing of the mind after something that is above mortality, we sometimes experience! Who has not felt emotions beyond the power of language to describe at a glorious sunset, when the sky is decked in the richest colours, and cloud is piled upon cloud in gorgeous magnificence, among which imagination pictures
Purple castles where red turrets frown,
And ever changing ? Who does not aspire to mingle in the scene, ramble in fairy vales, or climb mountains of ruby and chrysolite? Who, when walking out at night and viewing
The eternal lights that live along the sky, does not feel a wish to fling himself from earth into the abyss of space that intervenes, and attempt to reach those unknown orbs and bathe in their fountains of living brightness? The remembrance of a beloved friend or relative, long
deceased, brings him often, without warning, to the mind's eye, perfect in every feature, affecting us with a pleasing melancholy : this is particularly the case when we dream--for dreams belong to the poetry of life. The rush of recollection that comes suddenly upon the mind, bringing up even the feelings of boyish days with astonishing freshness-a forgotten song, re-heard by accident, certain strains of music, the first coming of spring, the solitude of wild and sublime scenery, dark with woods and precipices, where
a thousand phantasies
And airy tongues that syllable men's namesthe riding over a wild heath where no human habitation appears and the silence of desolation seems to govern every thing--all raise unutterable feelings, which, with many others differing in character and intensity according to the different degrees of our constitutional susceptibility of such impressions, may be styled the romantic of life's poetry, being the most lofty and spiritual part of it. The impressions of love and friendship, of the beautiful and sublime, the relish for the higher classes of art, such as sculpture and painting, form another kind of sensations under the same head; among which may be ranked almost all the virtues that do honour to human nature, and are distinguished from mechanical and coarse passions and worldly pursuits. Business, money-getting, calculation, politics, nothing in short that is mathematical and corporeal, that is, “ of the earth earthy," can be designated as the “ Poetry of Life." The world of life's poetry is golden, as well as that of the poet
of literature; to whom it furnishes the magic by which, like Timotheus, he
Swells the soul to rage, or kindles soft desire ; But language is too limited to describe it. The Poetry of Life is felt, not syllabled-it is wild, solemn, and unearthly, or
~ Musical as is Apollo's lute,” or sublime from its vastness and obscurity-it far
“ Beyond dim earth exalts the swelling thought.” Touches which recall its vivid impressions are frequently shewn in the productions of gifted men ; but these are so minute a portion of the whole, and language is so inadequate a medium to convey even a fractional outline of their character, that the filling up of the parts must be left to the mind. The most artful and sweetest combinations of language are too material for painting the subtle shadows and colourings: they only serve as remembrancers to bring back sensations that are past, in order to delight us by their revivification.
But the highest Poetry of Life, or, what is the same thing, the finer impulses of our nature, the glowing fancies, the ardent emotions, the sweet imaginings of the soul, are every day becoming closer and more retired inmates of our bosoms. They are less frequently imparted—for the mass of mankind are getting less poetical in feeling. This is because of their intangible nature : the world is busy in hunting after substances, no matter how base may be their composition. The "airy nothings" of the mind, that reason cannot comprehend, mathematics prove real, or arithmetic gauge, are held as of little value. But the Poetry of Life can never be extinct; it is a part of our natures; and if there be cold ascetics in the world who scout every thing that a line cannot measure and a diagram demonstrate, still there are others left who will continue to revel in “ fairy fictions,” and forget at times the painful realities of existence in the mighty visions of the imagination for these can be enjoyed where the showy appliances of life are wanting. We are told, indeed, that, as the march of reason advances, that of imagination will retrograde: as if mankind can ever become wholly subject to reason's influence, and passion and feeling hold a subordinate station in the human breast. Reason may, perhaps, temper what it cannot subdue. But where is the individual who can resist grief by reasoning upon its inutility, or conquer love by reflecting on its transitory nature
Who can hold a fire in his hand
By bare imagination of a feast?
banish the Muses from his republic; but the wretch that would wish the Poetry of life and feeling to be extinct, let him for ever dwell “ In caldo, e 'n gielo,” as Dante has it
In flame, in frost, in ever-during night. What else is there that is worth the “ whips and scorns” of life? It is painful to reflect that, in large congregations of men, who mingle together for objects of business or politics, every year seems to wear away more and more of the finer feelings, and renders the mind more unsusceptible of the pleasures of imagination ; but much of this is the result of long habit and of locality. The Poetry of Life can never die while we are conscious breathing animals. To those who smile at it, and are still daily experiencing more or less of its influence—who feel only indifferent towards it because they will not acknowledge it to be the great charm of our being, I shall only address the words of an old writer respecting persons insensible to poetry in general. “ But if (fie on such a But!) you be borne so neare the dul-making cataract of Nilus, that you cannot heare the planet-like musike of poetry—if you haue so earth-creeping a mind that it cannot lift itself vp to looke to the skie of poetry, or rather, by a certain rusticall disdaine will become such a mome as to be a Momus of poetrie—then, though I wil not wish unto you the asses' eares of Midas, nor to be driven by a poet's verses as Bubonax was, to hang himself, nor to be rimed to death, as is said to be done in Ireland, yet this much curse I must send you in the behalfe of all poets-that, while you liue, you liue in loue and never get fauour, for lacking skill of a Sonet, and when you die, your memorie die from the earth for want of an epitaph."
GIOVANNI PIETRO ZANOTTI.
Jerusalem destroyed by Titus.
O’er tower and temple crumbling in decay,
And saw the deadly paleness of dismay
The faces of thy trembling priests array,
And helpless infants sadly led away
Devoted City! from thy woes in vain
Say didst thou then bethink thee of the stain
On him thy hand had crucified and slain?