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No. The habits of the present race of men are distinguished by indefatigable industry, and general application, and regulated by those laws of strict and unremitting discipline, which are universally acknowledged to strengthen the understanding, and invigorate the mental faculties. Is there anything to warp the public taste, and establish a false standard of merit ? Never, since the world began, were mankind more penetrating, and at the same time more extensive in their observations, more universally free from the shackles of tyranny and superstition, as well as from all uniformly prevailing prejudice, than now. It is clear then, that the deficiency in our poetical enjoyments arises from a want of the due proportion of clear and deep impressions. We have not stored up the necessary materials for imagination, power, and taste to work with, and therefore the machinery of the mind, so far as relates to poetry, remains inactive. We possess not the key to its secret harmonies, and therefore the language of poetry is unintelligible to
The silence of our ablest poets, and the want of any leading or distinguished poem to fill up the present vacuum in our literature, sufficiently
prove the fact to which we allude. The last popular work of this kind that issued from our press, was "The Course of Time;" but its popularity rather resembled an instantaneous flash, than a steady and lasting light. It forced its way in the flush of the moment to every respectable library in the kingdom-was read with wonder-closed with satisfaction-and, what is very remarkable, affords no quotations. Since this time we have had none to awaken a general interest. We see many noticed by the reviewers-kindly and encouragingly noticed, and we doubt not their title to such approbation ; but we do not deny ourselves one ordinary indulgence that we may buy them, or when they are bought, look upon them as a solid mass of substantial happiness set apart for our private and insatiable enjoyment. We do not reverence the authors of our felicity, as if they were beings of a gifted order, endowed with a superhuman capacity of penetrating into the souls of men. We do not listen when they tell us of our own secret passions, as if we heard the music of an inspired minstrel, nor when they sing of the revolutions of time, as if a po tent and oracular voice dealt out the destiny of mankind. Either we have grown indifferent,
heedless, and almost deaf to the language of poetry, or the spirit of the art has ceased to operate in producing those harmonious numbers that were wont to charm the world.
Yet when the facilities for acquiring knowledge are multiplying every day, when it has become almost as difficult to remain unlearned, as to learn, when the infant mind is trained up to the continual application of its faculties in all the different branches of art and science, when the memory is stored with a fund of information which at one time would have been deemed incredible, when not only the ordinary and beaten track of learning is thrown open to the multitude, but flowery and meandering paths are devised to entice, and woo, and charm into the bowers of academic lore, is it possible there can be any defect or disadvantage in the general system upon which youth is trained?
If it be the ultimate aim of mankind to ascertain of what materials the world is made, and out of these materials to construct new facilities for bodily enjoyment, that we may eat more luxuriously, move more rapidly, repose more softly, clothe more sumptuously, and in short, live more exempt from mental, as well as bodily exertion, I should answer,
that the present system of education, and the general tone of thought and conversation, was the best that could possibly be devised. But in looking at the means, we are too apt to disregard the end. In devoting our endeavours to the attainment of knowledge, to forget the attainment of wisdom; and take credit to ourselves for having spent an active life, when it has been wholly unproductive of any increase in the means of happiness, except what mere activity affords.
We know that nature is no less capable of producing poetical ideas, than it was when gifted men were inspired by the cool shade, the glowing sunshine, or the radiance of the moon. We have attempted to prove, that the same beauty, and the same connection with refined and elevated thought may still be found in the external world, and that the soul of man is still animated by the same passions and affections, as when genius kindled the fire of poetry, and, lighting up the charms and the wonders of creation, stimulated the enthusiasm of him who deems himself "creation's heir." It follows then as a necessary consequence, that the connection between man and nature is not the same; that he holds no
longer the spiritual converse with all things sweet and lovely, solemn and sublime, in the external world, that was wont to fill his soul with admiration and love, and to instruct his heart in the feeling of the presence of an invisible intelligence, connected with his own being by the indissoluble bond of sympathy, real or imaginary. Man now studies nature as a map, rather than a picture-with reference to locality, rather than beauty. He sees the whole, but he studies only the separate parts, and to his systematic mind, the vegetable, animal, and mineral kingdoms, are distinct subjects of consideration, scarcely to be thought of in the same day. He looks around him with microscopic eye, and if his attention fixes upon the rich and varied foliage of the ancient forest, it is to single out particular specimens of trees and plants, and to class them according to Linnæus; while from the musical inhabitants of these woods, he selects his victims, and applies the same minute examination to the organs from whence the sweetest melody of nature flows. The idle butterfly, fluttering above his woodland path, or resting upon the unsullied petals of the delicate wild rose, has neither charm nor beauty in his eye,