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Whether he desires us to contract it to sprit or to spirt I have no means of knowing, but in any case this seems to convert into a rule that which is only permissible as a licence.

As to England's ungodly prosperity let me quote Mr. Watson against Mr. Watson (Ver Tenebrosum, sonnet vii) :

0, England, should'st thou one day fall,
Shatter'd in ruins by some Titan foe,
Justice were thenceforth weaker throughout all
The world, and Truth less passionately free,
And God the poorer for thy overthrow.

It has been already pointed out that Mr. Watson set out both in religion and art from a Puritan basis. But already in youth we see his religious feelings growing pale with the anæmia of agnosticism, and the poems of his early manhood have sometimes all the deathly colour of that mental ailment. Take these verses from the poem called World-Strangeness (Poems, p. 7).

In this house with starry dome,

Floored with gemlike plains and seas,
Shall I never feel at home,

Never wholly be at ease ?
On from room to room I stray,

Yet my Host can ne'er espy,
And I know not to this day,

Whether guest or captive I.
So, between the starry dome,

And the floor of plains and seas,
I have never felt at home,

Never wholly been at ease.

Or take the following lines referring to a gentleman who had climbed an Alpine summit, and was there found dead, after having written as his last message, “ It is cold, and clouds shut out the view" (Poems, p. 43).

So mounts the child of ages of desire,
Man, up the steeps of Thought; and would behold
Yet purer peaks, touched with unearthlier fire,
In sudden prospect virginally new;
But on the lone last height he sighs, “ 'Tis cold,

And clouds shut out the view."
Ah, doom of mortals' vexed with phantoms old,
Old phantoms that waylay us and pursue,
Weary of dreams-we think to see unfold
The eternal landscape of the Real and True;
And on our Pisgah can but write: “ 'Tis cold,

And clouds shut out the view."

Mr. Watson is no mocking sceptic. The Voltairean spirit is as utterly alien to him as it is to the most orthodox of Christians. On the question of the future life he expresses his feelings in the poem called The Great Misgiving, and asks himself seriously the question, whether there be a future life or no,

And whether, stepping forth, my soul shall see

New prospects, or fall sheer—a blinded thing!
There is, O grave, thy hourly victory,

And there, 0 death, thy sting.

One of his finest sonnets is written To One who had written in Derision of the Belief in Immortality. (Odes, p. 88).

Dismiss not so, with light, hard phrase and cold,

Ev'n if it be but fond imagining,

The hope whereto so passionately cling
The dreaming generations from of old !
Not thus, to luckless men, are tidings told

Of mistress lost, or riches taken wing;

And is Eternity a slighter thing,
To have or lose, than kisses or than gold ?

Say, tenderly, if needs though must, disprove
My loftiest fancy, dash my grand desire

To see this curtain lift, these clouds retire,
And Truth, a boondless dayspring, blaze abore

and round me; and to ask of my dead sire
His pardon for each word that wronged his love.

A like attitude is indicated in the sonnet To Aubrey de Vere (Odes, p. 98), which ends thus :

Sot mine your mystic creed; not mine, in prayer

And worship, at the ensanguined Cross to kneel;
But when I mark your faith how pure and fair,

How based on love, on passion for man's weal,
My mind, half envying what it cannot share,

Reveres the reverence which it cannot feel.

But Mr. Watson has not in later years consistently maintained the agnostic position. So long as that position is consistently maintained it is quite unassailable. The man who says I know nothing at all about God, or about Heaven, or about any revelation, and who consistently refuses to say or think anything about them, either one way or other, is simply outside the pale both of belief and disbelief. It is very noticeable that the Ver Tenebrosum sonnets of 1885 contain no appeal to Divine power. But no real Agnostic could write the sonnet to The Russ at Kara, beginning “O, King of kings,” and asking of Him “Why waits Thy shattering arm ? ” And we have seen already that the Armenian sonnets contain passionate, and not always despairing, appeals to the power and wrath of God. Moreover, the world is never to Mr. Watson, in any mood, a chaos : it is always an order, even if it seem at times to be severe and inscrutable; and it is most often a cosmos, ordered not only with strictness, but also with harmony and beauty. In these moods he can sing (Lachr. Mus., p. 64), that

God on His throne is
Eldest of poets:
Unto His measures
Moveth the Whole.

These extracts taken together will serve to give a much juster idea of Mr. Watson's religious outlook than some parts of his latest poem.

Mr. Watson is still only in his fortieth year. His career up to this point has been one of growth, unchequered by retrogression or failure. There is, therefore, little reason to doubt that some of his best work is yet to come, and that his ultimate place in the roll of future fame will be a high one. I will conclude by expressing the hope that all those in whom this brief sketch may have aroused an interest in William Watson, will be encouraged thereby to keep up their acquaintance with his writings, in the sure expectation that they will therein find a manifold reward.

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