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humanity can lay before the throne of its Creator.
These are but single instances, chosen out from a mass of evidence, clearly proving that religion in its influence upon the affections, in its intimate connection with those important scenes and circumstances of life, from which we derive the greatest pain or pleasure, in short, in its supreme dominion over the human heart, is, above all other subjects, that which possesses the highest claim to the regard of the poet; not only as being most productive of intellectual gratification, but most worthy of him who aspires to the right exercise of the loftiest attributes of mind.
A superficial view of religion may lead to the popular and vulgar notion, that its practical duties are incompatible with true refinement of feeling, and elevation of thought; but is not that the most genuine refinement which penetrates into the distant relations of things, and cements, by mental association, the visible and material—the familiar or the gross, with powerful impressions of moral excellence, and beauty, and happiness? Is not that the most elevated range of thought which combines the practical and temporal affairs of men, with the eternal principles upon which the world is established and governed ?
We know of nothing that can so fully and so beautifully adorn the ordinary path of life, as religion ; because it imparts a spiritual essence to all our customary actions and pursuits, in which the slightest portion of good and evil is involved. We can imagine nothing to exceed in tenderness the merciful dealing of our heavenly Father with his erring and rebellious creatures ; and as there is nothing to equal the perfection of the Divine character, so there is no sublimity comparable to that of his nature. Nor is this all. We have said that poetry must come home to our own bosoms in order to be truly felt, and religion teaches us that we have a portion in everlasting life—an inheritance in eternity—that the hopes and the fears which stimulate our actions, the powers and the energies with which we are endowed, are not merely given us for the brief purposes of temporal existence-to play their little part upon this sublunary stage-- to animate frail creatures that must perish in the tomb, but as links woven in with the great chain of being to be unfolded in a sphere without limitations-in a " world without end."
We would not depreciate the freeness, and the fulness of the benefits of religion, by saying that the poet has a participation in their delights, beyond that enjoyed by others; because we reverently believe the nature of religion to be such as to adapt it to every understanding, render it available in every condition of humanity, and sustaining, and consolatory to every heart. But we have no hesitation in pronouncing it impossible for the poet to reach the same intellectual height, without the aid of religion, as when he soars on angel's wings up to the gates of heaven-to touch the strings of human feeling so powerfully, as when his hand is bathed in the pure fountains of eternal truth.
How for instance would he expatiate upon beauty or excellence, if they had no archetypes in heaven? How would he describe the calamities which tear up the root of domestic peace, and agonize the tortured bosom, if neither prayer nor appeal were wrung out by such wretchedness, and directed to a spiritual power by whom the calamity might be averted ? How would he solemnize the vow, or seal the blessing, or ratify the curse, without the sanction of divine authority? or how
might his soul aspire to the sublime, without expanding its wings in the regions of eternity ?
No; there is nothing which the poet need reject in the religion of the Bible, or the religion of the heart; but rather let him seek its benignant and inspiring influence, as a light to his genius, a stimulus to his imagination, a guide to his taste, a fire to his ardour, an impetus to his power, and a world thrown open to his enjoyment.
HITHERTO we have bestowed our attention upon what essentially belongs to poetry, as a medium for receiving and imparting the highest intellectual enjoyment. We now come to the qualifications for composing poetry--the fundamental characteristics of the poet. All persons of cultivated understanding, endowed with an ordinary share of sensibility, are more or less capable of feeling what is poetical; but that all, even amongst those who attempt it, are not equal to writing poetry, is owing to their deficiency in some or all of the following qualifications:-capacity of receiving deep impressions — imagination — power — and taste. These qualifications we shall now consider separately, beginning with the first, which for