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ÆGROTUS. On the red autumn leaves I ride,
This is Earth's bitter cup : While, parting from the half-stripped trees,
Only to seek, not know. The flakes of gold and amber glide
But thou, that strivest up, And float on the November breeze.
Why dost thou carol so ?
A sacred Spirit gifteth me
With song, and wing that lifteth me,
A Spirit for whose sake, The fir-woods stretch their mighty frame.
Striving amain to reach the sky,
Still to the old dark earth I cry Ah, splendour of the fading leaf !
“ Wake! wake!” Ah, kindly glory of decay ! How it would heal both doubt and grief,
ÆGROTUS. Did Age thus brightly fade away.
My hope hath lost its wing.
Thou, that to night dost call,
How hast thou heart to sing
Thy tears made musical ?
- a waste of fire Take wing, or veil themselves in awe
That will not fade nor fail; And bleak regret, and blank amaze,
To me, dim shapes of ancient crime As though then first the spirit saw
Moan through the windy ways of time, The wasted wealth of deeds and days.
“ Wail! wail !"
Ah, yes ! this rich autumnal gold
Is only sunlight in decay, -
Mournful, in sooth, and fit;
THE SICK MAN AND THE BIRDS.
“TWO THAT SLEEP AND ONE THAT
I am too sick for words;
The little bud grown ripe;
“Pipe! pipe !”
Love is an idle thing;
On no man's caves I sit
[SUGGESTED BY THE PICTURE BY S. SOLOMON.] “Could ye not watch one hour?” The hour
is late, And the chill air is drowsy, and they sleep; Two; but one sleeps not; he whose love was
great, And who was greatly loved, his watch will
heaven; Hope sleeps, and Faith may slumber, but the
few Who really love, nor sleep nor slumber
F. W. BOURDILLOX.
From The Cornhill Magazine. descending, we may generally assume POPE AS A MORALIST.
that the rat has still some life in him. The extraordinary vitality of Pope's Pope, moreover, has received testiwritings is a remarkable phenomenon in monies of a less equivocal kind. Byron its way. Few reputations have been ex-called him, with characteristic veheposed to such perils at the hands of open mence, the “great moral poet of all enemies or of imprudent friends. In times, of all climes, of all feelings, and of his lifetime “the wasp of Twickenham ” all stages of existence ;” though it is not could sting through a sevenfold covering less characteristic that Byron was at the of pride or stupidity. Lady Mary and same time helping to dethrone the idol Lord Hervey writhed and retaliated with before which he prostrated himself. Ste.. little more success than the poor deni- Beuve, again, has thrown the shield of zens of Grub Street. But it is more re- his unrivalled critical authority over Pope markable that Pope seems to be stinging when attacked by M. Taine ; and a critic, well into the second century after his who may sometimes be overstrained in death. His writings resemble those fire- his language, but who never speaks as a works which, after they have fallen to critic without showing the keenest inthe ground and been apparently quenched, sight, has more recently spoken of Pope suddenly break out again into sputtering in terms which recall Byron's enthusiexplosions. The waters of a literary asm. “ Pope,” says Mr. Ruskin, in one revolution have passed over him without of his Oxford lectures, “is the most putting him out. Though much of his perfect representative we have, since poetry has ceased to interest us, so many Chaucer, of the true English mind;” and of his brilliant couplets still survive that he adds that his hearers will find, as they probably no dead writer, with the solitary study Pope, that he has expressed for exception of Shakespeare, is more fre- them, “in the strictest language and quently quoted at the present day. It is within the briefest limits, every law of in vain that he is abused, ridiculed, and art, of criticism, of economy, of policy, even declared to be no poet at all. The and finally of a benevolence, humble, raschool of Wordsworth regarded him as tional, and resigned, contented with its the embodiment of the corrupting influ- allotted share of life, and trusting the ence in English poetry; more recently problem of its salvation to Him in whose M. Taine has attacked him, chiefly, as it hand lies that of the universe." These would seem, for daring to run counter to remarks are added by way of illustrating M. Taine's theories ; and, hardest fate of the relation of art to morals, and enforall, the learned editor who is now bring-cing the great principle that a noble style ing out a conclusive edition of his writ- can only proceed from a sincere heart. ings has had his nerves so hardened by “ You can only learn to speak as these familiarity with poor Pope's many in- men spoke by learning what these men iquities, that his notes are one prolonged were.” When we ask impartially what attack on his author's morality, ortho- Pope was, we may possibly be inclined doxy, and even poetical power. We seem to doubt the complete soundness of the to be listening to a Boswell animated by eulogy upon his teaching. Meanwhile, the soul of a Dennis. And yet Pope sur-however, Byron and Mr. Ruskin agree in vives, as indeed the bitterness of his as- holding up Pope as an instance, almost sailants testifies. When controversial- as the typical instance, of that kind of ists spend volumes in confuting an adver- poetry which is directly intended to ensary who has been for centuries in his force a lofty morality. To possess such grave, their unconscious testimony to his a charm for two great writers, wlio, howvitality is generally of more significance ever different in all other respects, strikthan their demonstration that he ought ingly agree in this, that their opinions to be insignificant. Drowning a dead rat are singularly independent of convenis too dismal an occupation to be long tional judgments, is some proof that Pope pursued ; and whilst we watch the stream possessed great merits as a poetical in
terpreter of morals. Without venturing cate fancy still, even when employed into the wider ocean of poetical criticism, about the paraphernalia of modern lite; I will endeavour in this article to inquire a truth which Byron maintained, though what was the specific element in Pope's not in an unimpeachable form, in his conpoetry which explains, if it does not jus- troversy with Bowles. We sometimes tify, this enthusiastic praise.
talk as if our ancestors were nothing but I shall venture to assume, indeed, that hoops and wigs; and forget that human Pope was a genuine poet. Nor do I un- passions exist even under the most comderstand how any one who has really plex structures of starch and buckram. studied his writings can deny to him that And consequently we are very apt to title, unless by help of a singularly nar- make a false estimate of the precise row definition of its meaning. It is suf nature of that change which fairly entities ficient to name the Rape of the Lock, us to call Pope's age prosaic. In showerwhich is allowed, even by his bitterest ing down our epithets of artificial, scepticritics, to be a masterpiece of delicate cal, and utilitarian, we not seldom forget fancy. Pope's sylphs, as Mr. Elwin says, what kind of figure we are ourselves likeare legitimate descendants from Shake- ly to make in the eyes of our own descendspeare's fairies. True, they have entered ants. into rather humiliating bondage. Shake Whatever be the position rightly to be speare's Ariel has to fetch the midnight assigned to Pope in the British. Walhalla, dew from the still vexed Bermoothes ; his own theory has been unmistakably he delights to fly
expressed. He boasts To swim, to dive into the fire, to ride That not in fancy's maze he wandered long, On the curl'd clouds,
But stooped to truth and moralized his song. whereas the “ humbler province” of His theory is compressed into one of the Pope's Ariel is “to tend the fair" innumerable aphorisms which have to To steal from rainbows, ere they drop in some degree lost their original sharpness showers,
of definition, because they have passed, A brighter wash; to curl their waving hairs,
as current coinage, through so many Assist their blushes, and inspire their airs. hands. Nay, oft in dreams invention we bestow
The proper study of mankind is man. To change a flounce or add a furbelow.
The saying is in form about identical Prospero, threatening Ariel for mur- with Goethe's remark that man is propermuring, says, “ I will
ly the only object which interests man. rend an oak
The two poets, indeed, understood the And peg thee in his knotty entrails, until doctrine in a very different way. Pope's Thou hast howled away twelve winters.
interpretation was narrow and mechan. The fate threatened to a disobedientical. He would place such limitations sprite in his later poem is that he shall upon the sphere of human interest as to Be stuff'd in vials, or transfixed with pins,
exclude, perhaps, the greatest part of Or plunged in lakes of bitter washes lie, what we generally mean by poetry. How
Or wedged whole ages in a bodkin's eye. much, for example, would have to be Scriblerus, were that excellent critic suppressed if we sympathized with Pope's
condemnation of the works in which still alive, might convert the poem into an allegory. Pope's muse - one may use
Pure description holds the place of sense. the old-fashioned word in such a connec- A large proportion of such poets as tion had left the free forest for Will's Thomson and Cowper would disappear, Coffee-house, and haunted ladies' bou- Wordsworth's pages would show fearful doirs instead of the brakes of the en- gaps, and Keats would be in risk of sumchanted island. Her wings were clogged mary suppression. We may doubt with "gums and pomatums," and her whether much would be left of Spenser, “thin essence” had shrunk “like a riveld from whom both Keats and Pope, like so flower.” But a delicate fancy is a deli- many other of our poets, drew inspiration
in their youth. Fairyland would be de-| late the imagination. And, therefore, he serted, and the poet condemned to work- inevitably interests himself chiefly in what ing upon ordinary commonplaces in is certainly a perennial source of interest broad daylight. The principle which - the passions and thoughts of the men Pope proclaimed is susceptible of the and women immediately related to himinverse application. Poetry, it really self; and it may be remarked, in passing, proves, may rightly concern itself with that if this narrows the range of Pope's inanimate nature, with pure description, poetry, the error is not so vital as a modor with the presentation of lovely symbols ern delusion of the opposite kind. Benot definitely identified with any cut and cause poetry should not be brought into dried saws of moral wisdom ; because too close a contact with the prose of daily there is no part of the visible universe to life, we sometimes seem to think that it which we have not some relation, and the must have no relation to daily life at all, most etherial dreams that ever visited a and consequently convert it into a mere youthful poet "on summer eve by haunt- luxurious dreaming, where the beautiful ed stream" are in some sense reflections very speedily degenerates into the pretty of the passions and interests that sur- or the picturesque. Because poetry need round our daily life. Pope, however, as not be always a pointblank fire of moral the man more fitted than any other fully platitudes, we occasionally declare that to interpret the mind of his own age, in- there is no connection at all between evitably gives a different construction to poetry and morality, and that all art is a very sound maxim. He rightly assumes good which is for the moment agreeable. that man is his proper study; but then Such theories must end in reducing all by man he means not the genus, but a poetry and art to be at best more or less narrow species of the human being. elegant trifling for the amusement of the “ Man”
means Bolingbroke, and Wal- indolent: and to those who uphold them, pole, and Swift, and Curll, and Theobald ; Pope's example may be of some use. If it does not mean man as the product of a he went too far in the direction of idenlong series of generations and part of the tifying poetry with preaching, he was not great universe of inextricably involved wrong in assuming that poetry should inforces. He cannot understand the man volve preaching, though by an indirect of distant ages ; Homer is to him not the method. Morality and art are not indespontaneous voice of a ruder age, but a pendent, though not identical ; for both, clever artist, whose gods and heroes are as Mr. Ruskin shows in the passage just consciously-constructed parts of an arti- quoted, are only admirable when the exficial “machinery.” Nature has, for him, pression of healthful and noble natures. ceased to be inhabited by sylphs and Taking Pope's view of his poetical offairies, except to amuse the fancies of fine fice, there remain considerable difficulties ladies and gentleman, and has not yet re- in estimating the value of the lesson which ceived a new interest from the fairy tales he taught with so much energy. The of science. The old ideal of chivalry difficulties result both from that element merely suggests the sneers of Cervantes, which was common to his contemporaor even the buffoonery of Butler's wit, ries and from that which was supplied by and has not undergone restoration at the Pope's own idiosyncrasies. The comhands of modern romanticists. Politics monplaces in which Pope takes such inare not associated in his mind with any finite delight have become very stale for great social upheaval, but with a series us. Assuming their perfect sincerity, we of petty squabbles for places and pen- cannot understand how anybody should sions, in which bribery is the great mov- have thought of enforcing them with ing force.
What he means by religion such amazing emphasis. We constantly often seems to be less the recognition of a feel a shock like that which surprises the divine element in the world than a series of reader of Young's Night Thoughts when bare metaphysical demonstrations too he finds it asserted, in all the pomp of frigid to produce enthusiasm or to stimu-l blank verse, that
Procrastination is the thief of time. mere elements to plunge at once into The maxim has rightly been consigned essayist starts where Addison or John
more refined speculations. A modern to copybooks. And a great deal of
left off. He assumes that his readPope's moralizing is of the same order. We do not want denunciation of misers. and tries to gain a little piquancy by
ers know procrastination to be an evil, Nobody of the present day keeps gold in paradoxically pointing out the objections an
old stocking. When we read the ob- to punctuality. Character, of course, servation,
becomes more complex, and requires 'Tis strange the miser should his cares employ more delicate modes of analysis. ComTo gain the riches he can ne'er enjoy,
pare, for example, the most delicate of we can only reply in the familiar French, Pope's delineations with one of Mr. connu! We knew that when we were in Browning's elaborate psychological studpetticoats. In fact, we cannot place our
ies. Remember how many pages of selves in the position of men at the time acute observation are required to set when modern society was definitely forth Bishop Blougram's peculiar phase emerging from the feudal state, and every
of worldliness, and then turn to Pope's body was sufficiently employed in gossip- descriptions of Addison, or Wharton. ing about his neighbours. We are per- Each of these descriptions is, indeed, a plexed by the extreme interest with masterpiece in its way; the language is which they dwell upon the little series inimitably clear and pointed: but the of obvious remarks which have been leading thought is obvious, and leads to
Addison - asworked to death by later writers. Pope, no intricate problems. for example, is still wondering over the suming Pope's Addison to be the real first appearance of one of the most fa- Addison - might be cold blooded and miliar of modern inventions. He ex- jealous; but he had not worked out that claims,
elaborate machinery for imposing upon
himself and others which is required in Blest paper credit ! last and best supply ! a more critical age. He wore a mask, That lends corruption lighter wings to fly!
but a mask of simple construction ; not He points out with an odd superfluity modern invention which are so like the
one of those complex contrivances of of illustration, that bank-notes enable a man to be bribed much more easily than real skin that it requires the acuteness of old. There is no danger, he says, that and patience of a scientific observer to a patriot will be exposed by a guinea detect the difference and point out the dropping out of his pocket at the end of nature of the deception. The moral difan interview with the minister ; and he ference between such an Addison and a shows how awkward it would be if a
Blougram is as great as the difference statesman had to take his bribes in coin, between an old stage-coach and a steamand his servants should proclaim,
engine, or between the bulls and bears
which first received the name in Lis's Sir, Spain has sent a thousand jars of oil ;
time and their descendants on the New Huge bales of British cloth blockade the door; York Stock Exchange. A hundred oxen at your levees roar.
If, therefore, Pope gains something in This, however, was natural enough when clearness and brilliancy by the comparathe South Sea scheme was for the first tive simplicity of his art, he loses by the time illustrating the powers and the dan- extreme obviousness of its results. We gers of extended credit. To us, who are cannot give him credit for being really beginning to fit our experience of com- moved by such platitudes. We have the mercial panics into a scientific theory, same feeling as when a modern preacher the wonder expressed by Pope sounds employs twenty minutes in proving that like the exclamations of a savage over a it is wrong to worship idols of wood and Tower musket. And in the sphere of stone. But, unfortunately, there is a morals it is pretty much the saine. All reason more peculiar to Pope which those reflections about the little obvious damps our sympathy still more decidediy. vanities and frivolities of social science It cannot be fairly denied that all recent which supplied two generations of British inquiries have gone to strengthen those essayists, from the Tatler to the Lounger, suspicions of his honesty which were with an inexhaustible fund of mild satire, common even amongst his contemporihave lost their freshness. Our own ries. Mr. Elwin has been disgusted by modes of life have become so complex the revelations of his hero's baseness, till by comparison, that we pass over these his indignation has become a painful