Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

What, though still the wicked scoff, this also turneth to his praise ;
Did ye never hear that censure of the bad is buttress to a good man's

glory?
What, if the ignorant still hold out, obstinate in unkind judgment,-

rance and calumny are paired; we affirm by two negations ; Let them stand round about, pushing at the column in a circle, For all their toil and wasted strength, the foolish do but prop it. And note thou this; in the secret of their hearts, they feel the taunt is

false, And cannot help but reverence the courage that walketh amid calumnies

unanswering : He standeth as a gallant chief, unheeding shot or shell ; He trusted in God his Judge ; neither arrows nor the pestilence shall

harm him.

A high heart is a sacrifice to heaven; should it stoop among the creepers

in the dust, To tell them that what God approved is worthy of their praise ! Never shall it heed the thought; but flaming on in triumph to the skies, And quite forgetting fame, shall find it added as a trophy. A great mind is an altar on a hill; should the priest descend from his alti

tude To canvass offerings and worship from dwellers on the plain ? Rather with majestic perseverance, will he minister in solitary grandeur, Confident the time will come when pilgrims shall be flocking to the shrine. For fame is the birthright of genius ; and he recketh not how long it be

delayed : The heir need not hasten to his heritage, when he knoweth that his tenure

is eternal. The careless poet of Avon, was he troubled for his fame Or the deep-mouthed chronicler of Paradise, heeded he the suffrage of his

equals ? Mæonides took no thought, commiting all his honours to the future, And Flaccus, standing on his watch-tower, spied the praise of ages.

Smoking flax will breed a flame, and the flame may illuminate a world;
Where is he who scorned that smoke as foul and murky vapour ?
The village stream swelled to a river, and the river was a kingdom's
wealth;

Where is he who boasted he could step across that stream ?
Such are the beginnings of the famous : little in the judgment of their

peers,
The juster verdict of posterity shall fix them in the orbits of the Great.
Therefore dull Zoilus, clamouring ascendant of the hour,
Will soon be fain to hide his hate, and bury up his bitterness for shame:
Therefore mocking Monus, offended at the steps of Beauty, (12)
Shall win the prize of his presumption, and be hooted from his throne

among the stars. For, as the shadow of a mountain lengtheneth before the setting sun, Until that screening Alp have darkened all the canton,So Fame groweth to its great ones; their images loom larger in departing : But the shadow of mind is light, and earth is filled with its glory.

Ind thou, student of the truth, commended to the praise of God,
Wouldst thou find applause with men ?-seek it not, nor shun it.
Ancient fame is roofed in cedar, and her walls are marble :
Modern fame lodgeth in a hut, a slight and temporary dwelling ;
Lay not up the treasures of thy soul within so damp a chamber,
For the moth of detraction shall fret thy robe, and drop its eggs upon thy

motive;
Or the rust of dishearten.ng reserve shalı spoil the lustre of thy gold,
Until its burnished beauty shall be dim as tarnished brass ;
Or thieves, breaking through to steal, shall claim thy jewelled thoughts,
And turn to charge the theft on thee, a pilferer from them!

There is a magnanimity in recklessness of fame, so fame be well deserv

ing, That rusheth on in fearless might, the conscious sense of merit ; And there is a littleness in jealousy of fame, looking as aware of weak

ness,

That creepeth cautiously along, afraid that its title will be challenged.
The wild boar, full of beech-mast, flingeth him down among the brambles ;
Secure in bristly strength, without a watch he sleepeth:
But the hare, afraid to feed, croucheth in its own soft form;
Wakefully with timid eyes, and quivering ears, he listeneth.
Even so, a giant's might is bound up in the soul of Genius,
His neck is strong with confidence, and he goeth tusked with power :
Sturdily he roameth in the forest, or sunneth him in fen and field,

And scareth from his marshy lair a host of fearful foes.
But there is a mimic talent, whose safety lieth in its quickness,
A timorous thing of doubting guile, that scarce can face a friend :
This one is captious of reproof, provident to snatch occasion,
Greedy of applause, and vexed to lose one tittle of the glory.
He is a poor warder of his fame, who is ever on the watch to keep it spot-

less;

Such care argueth debility, a garrison relying on its sentinel.
Passive strength shall scorn excuses, patiently waiting a reaction,
He wotteth well that truth is great, and must prevail at last :
But fretful weakness hasteth to explain, anxiously dreading prejudice,
And ignorant that perishable falsehood dieth as a branch cut off.

Purity of motive and nobility of mind shall rarely condescend
To prove its rights, and prate of wrongs, or evidence its worth to others;
And it shall be small care to the high and happy conscience
What jealous friends, or envious foes, or common fools may judge.
Should the lion turn and rend every snarling jackal,
Or an eagle be stopped in his career to punish the petulance of sparrows?
Should the palm-tree bend his crown to chide the brier at his feet,
Nor kindly help its climbing, if it hope, and be ambitious ?
Should the nightingale account it worth her pains to vindicate her music,
Before some sorry finches, that affect to judge of song ?
No: many an injustice, many a sneer, and slur,
Is passed aside with noble scorn by lovers of true fame :
For well they wot that glory shall be tinctured good or evil,
By the character of those who give it, as wine is flavoured by the wine-skin:
So that worthy fame floweth only from a worthy fountain,
But from an ill-conditioned troop, the best report is worthless.
And if the sensibility of genius count his injuries in secret,
Wisely will he hide the pains a hardened herd would mock;
For the great mind well may be sad to note such littleness in brethren,
The while he is comforted and happy in the firmest assurance of desert.

Cease awhile, gentle scholar ;-seek other thoughts and themes ;
Or dazzling fame with wildfire light will lure us on for ever.
For look, all subjects of the mind may range beneath its banner,
And time would fail and patience droop, to count that numerous host.
The mine is deep, and branching wide,--and who can work it out ?

Years of thought would leave untold the boundless topic, Fame.
Every matter in the universe is linked in suchwise unto others,
That a deep full treatise upon one thing might reach to the history of all

things:
And before some single thesis had been followed out in all its branches,
The wandering thinker would be lost in the pathless forest of existence.
What were the matter or the spirit, that hath no part in Fame ?
Where were the fact irrelevant, or the fancy out of place ?
For the handling of that mighty theme should stretch from past to future,
Catching up the present on its way, as a traveller burdened with time.
All manner of men, their deeds, hopes, fortunes, and ambitions,
All manner of events and things, climate, circumstance, and custom,
Wealth and war, fear and hope, contentment, jealousy, devotion,
Skill and learning, truth, falsehood, knowledge of things gone and things

to come,

Pride and praise, honour and dishonour, warnings, ensamples, emulations, The excellent in virtues, and the reprobate in vice, with the cloud of in

different spectators,
Wave on wave with flooding force throng the shoals of thought,
Filling that immeasurable theme, the height and depth of Fame.
With soul unsatisfied and mind dismayed, my feet have touched the

threshold,
Fain to pour these flowers and fruits an offering on that altar :
Lo, how vast the temple,—there are clouds within the dome!
Yet might the huge expanse be filled with volumes writ on Fame.

OF FLATTERY.

Music is commended of the deaf;—but is that praise despised ?
I trow not : with flattered soul, the musician heard him gladly.
Beauty is commended of the blind ;—but is that compliment misliking ?
I trow not ; though false and insincere, woman listened greedily.
Vacant Folly talketh high of Learning's deepest reason;
Is she hated for her hollowness ?-learning held her wiser for the nonce.
The worldly and the sensual, to gain some end, did homage to religion :

And the good man gave thanks as for a convert, where others saw the

hypocrite.

Yet none of these were cheated at the heart, nor steadily believed those

flatteries ; They feared the core was rotten, while they hoped the skin was sound : But the fruits have so sweet fragrance, and are verily so pleasant to the eyes, . It were an ungracious disenchantment to find them apples of Sodom. So they laboured to think all honest, winking hard with both their eyes ; And hushed up every whisper that could prove that praise absurd ; They willingly regard not the infirmities that make such worship vain, And palliate to their own fond hearts the faults they will not see. For the idol rejoiceth in his incense, and loveth not to shame his suppliants, Should he seek to find them false, his honours die with theirs : An offering is welcome for its own sake, set aside the giver, And praise is precious to a man, though uttered by the parrot or the mock

ing-bird.

The world is full of fools; and sycophancy liveth on the foolish :
So he groweth great and rich, that fawning supple parasite.
Sometimes he boweth like a reed, cringing to the pompousness of pride,
Sometimes he strutteth as a gallant, pampering the fickleness of vanity :
I have known him listen with the humble, enacting, silent marveller,
To hear some purse-proud dunce expound his poverty of mind;
I have heard him wrangle with the obstinate, vowing that he will not be

convinced,
When some weak youth hath wisely feared the chance of ill success :
Now, he will barely be a winner,--to magnify thy triumphs afterward;
Now, he will hardly be a loser,—but cannot cease to wonder at thy skill:
He laudeth his own worth, that the leader may have glory in his follower;
He meekly confesseth his unworthiness, that the leader may have glory in

himself. Many wiles hath he, and many modes of catching, But every trap is selfishness, and every bait is praise.

Come, I would forewarn thee and forearm thee; for keen are the weapons

of his warfare; And, while my soul hath scorned him, I have watched his skill from far. His thoughts are full of guile, deceitfully combining contrarieties,

« ElőzőTovább »