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At the close he reviews his argu- | sensible citizen and landed proprieto ments, and the vibrating martial accent in his small county? The muscles of his poetical period is like a trump of victory: "So that since the excellencies of it (poetry) may bee so easily and so justly confirmed, and the lowcreeping objections so soone trodden downe, it not being an Art of lyes, but of true doctrine; not of effeminateesse, but cf notable stirring of courage; not of abusing man's wit, but of strengthning man's wit; not banished, but honored by Plato let us rather plant more Laurels for to ingarland the Poets heads than suffer the illsavored breath of such wrong speakers, once to blow upon the cleare springs of Poesie."*
From such vehemence and gravity you may anticipate what his verses will be.
Often, after reading the poets of this age, I have looked for some time at the contemporary prints, telling myself that man, in mind and body, was not then such as we see him to-day. We also have our passions, but we are no longer strong enough to bear them. They unsettle us; we are no longer poets without suffering for it. Alfred de Musset, Heine, Edgar Poe, Burns, Byron, Shelley, Cowper, how many shall I instance? Disgust, mental and bodily degradation, disease, impotence, madness, suicide, at best a permanent hallucination or feverish raving, these are nowadays the ordinary issues of the poetic temperament. The passion of the brain gnaws our vitals, dries up the blood, eats into the marrow, shakes us like a tempest, and the human frame, such as civilization has made us, is not substantial enough long to resist it. They, who have been more roughly trained, who are more inured to the inclemencies of climate, more hardened by bodily exercise, more firm against danger, endire and live. Is there a man living who could witl stand the storm of pasions and visions which swept over Shakspeare, and end, like him, as a
The Defence of Poesie, p. 560. Here and there we find also verse as spirited as this: • Or Pindar's Apes, flaunt they in phrases Er am'ling with pied flowers their thoughts of gold." -P. 568.
were firmer, despair less prompt. The rage of concentrated attention, the half hallucinations, the anguish and heaving of the breast, the quivering of the limbs bracing themselves involu tarily and blindly for action, all the painful yearnings which accompany grand desires, exhausted them less; this is why they desired longer, and dared more. D'Aubigné, wounded with many sword-thrusts, conceiving death at hand, had himself bound on his horse that he might see his mistress once more, and rode thus sev eral leagues, losing blood all the way, and arriving in a swoon. Such feel. ings we glean still from their portraits, in the straight looks which pierce like a sword; in that strength of back, bent or twisted; in the sensuality, energy, enthusiasm, which breathe from their attitude or look. Such feelings we still discover in their poetry, i in Greene, Lodge, Jonson, Spenser, Shakspeare, in Sidney, as in all the rest. We quickly forget the faults of taste which accompany them, the affectation, the uncouth jargon. Is it really so uncouth? Imagine a man who with closed eyes distinctly sees the adored countenance of his mistress, who keeps it before him all the day; who is troubled and shaken as he imagines ever and anon her brow, her lips, her eyes; who cannot and will not be separated from his vision; who sinks daily deeper in this passionate contemplation; who is every instant crushed by mortal anxieties, or transported by the raptures of bliss. he will lose the exact conception of objects. A fixed idea becomes a false idea. By dint of regarding an object under all its forms, turning it over, piercing through it, we at last deform it. When we cannot think of a thing without being dazed and without tears, we magnify it, and give it a character which it has not. Hence strange comparisons, over-refined ideas, excessive images, become natural. However far Sidney goes, whatever object he touches, he sees throughout the un verse only the name and features of Stella. All ideas bring him back to her. He is drawn ever and invincibl
by the same thought: and comparisons | pressed, it seems to him that nis mis which seem far-fetched, only express tress becomes transformed;
"Stella, soveraigne of my joy,.
Stella, whose voice when it singeth,
the unfailing presence and sovereign power of the besetting image. Stella is ill; it seems to Sidney that "Joy, which is inseparate from those eyes, Stella, now learnes (strange case) to weepe in thee."* To us, the expression is absurd. It is so for Sidney, who for hours together had dwelt on the expression of those eyes, seeing in them at last all the beauties of heaven These cries of adoration are like I and earth, who, compared to them, hymn. Every day he writes thought finds all light dull and all happiness of love which agitate him, and in stale? Consider that in every extreme this long journal of a hundred pages passion ordinary laws are reversed, we feel the heated breath swell each moment. A smile from his mis.ress, that our logic cannot pass judgment on it, that we find in it affectation, a curl lifted by the wind, a gesture,all are events. cniidishness, witticisms, crudity, folly, and that to us violent conditions of the nervous machine are like an unknown and marvellous land, where common sense and good language cannot penetrate. On the return of spring, when May spreads over the fields her dappled dress of new flowers, Astrophe! and Stella sit in the shade of a retired grove, in the warm air, full of birds' voices and pleasant exhalations. Heaven smiles, the wind kisses the trembling leaves, the inclining trees interlace their sappy branches, amorous earth swallows greedily the rippling
"In a grove most rich of shade,
Where birds wanton musicke made,
'Astrophel with Stella sweet,
Did for mutuall comfort meet,
Their eares hungry of each word,
But when their tongues could not speake.
Thus to speake in love and wonder. . . .
On his knees, with beating heart, op
He paints her in every
"Thinke of that most gratefull time
There those roses for to kisse,
Come, come, and let me powre my selfe
Gone is the winter of my miserie,
My spring appeares, O see what here doth
Of her high heart giv'n me the monarchie I, I, O I may say that she is mine." +
There are Oriental splendors in the dazzling sonnet in which he asks why Stella's cheeks have grown pale:
"Where be those Roses gone, which sweetne so our eyes?
Where those red cheekes, which oft winds faire encrease doth frame
The height of honour in the kindly badge si shame?
Who hath the crimson weeds stolne frem my morning skies?§
much thinking." Exhaust by ecstasy
* Ibid. p. 604.
he pauses; then he flies from thought | like the piety of the mystics, finds to thought, seeking relief for his wound, itself always too insignificant when it like the Satyre whom he describes :
'Prometheus, when first from heaven hie He brought downe fire, ere then on earth rot seene,
of delight, a Satyr standing by Gare it a kisse, as it like sweet had beene.
Feeling forthwith the other burning power, Wood with the smart with showts and shryking shrill,
He sought his ease in river, field, and bower, But for the time his griefe went with him still." *
At last calm returned; and whilst this calm lasts, the lively, glowing spirit plays like a flickering flame on the surface of the deep brooding fire. His love-songs and word-portraits, delightful pagan and chivalric fancies, seem to be inspired by Petrarch or Plato. We feel the charm and sportiveness under the seeming affectation :
"Faire eyes, sweete lips, deare heart, that Could hope by Cupids helpe on you to pray; Since to himselfe he doth your gifts apply, As his maine force, choise sport, and easefull stray.
For when he will see who dare him gair..ay, Then with those eyes he lookes, lo by and by Each soule dot at Loves feet his weapon: lay,
Glad if for her he give them leave to die.
'When he will play, then in her lips he is, Where blushing red, that Loves selfe them doth love,
With either lip he aotn the other kisse:
Where well he knowes, no man to him can come." t
Both heart and sense are captive here. If he finds the eyes of Stella more beautiful than any thing in the world, he finds her soul more lovely than her body He is a Platonist when he reounts how Virtue, wishing to be loved of men, took Stella's form to enchant beir eyes, and make them see the heaven which the inner sense reveals o heroic souls. We recognize in him that entire submission of heart, love turned into a religion, perfect passion which asks only to grow, and which,
*Astrophel and Stella, p. 525: this sonnet is headed E. D. Wood, in his Athen. Oxon. i., says it was written by Sir Edward Dyer, Chancellor of the Most noble Order of the Garter.-TR. ↑ Ibid. sonnet 43, P. 545.
compares itself with the coject loved:
"My youth doth waste, my knowledge brings forth toyes,
My wit doth strive those passions to defend, Which for reward spoyle it with vaine ar
I see my course to lose my selfe doth bend.
At last, like Socrates in the banquet, he turns his eyes to deathless beauty heavenly brightness :
"Leave me, O Love, which reachest but to dust,
And thou my minde aspire to higher things: Grow rich in that which never taketh rust: Whatever fades, but fading pleasure brings... O take fast hold, let that light be thy guide, In this small course which birth drawes out to death." t Divine love continues the earthly love; he was imprisoned in this, and frees himself. By this nobility, these lofty aspirations, recognize one of those serious souls of which there are so many in the same climate and race Spiritual instincts pierce through the dominant paganism, and ere they make Christians, make Platonists.
Sidney was only a soldier in an army, there is a multitude about him, a multitude of poets. In fifty-two years, without counting the drama, two hun dred and thirty-three ated, of whom forty have genius or talent: Breton, Donne, Drayton, Lodge, Greene, the two Fletchers, Beaumont Spenser, Shakspeare, Ben Jonson, Mar lowe, Wither, Warner, Davison, Carew, Suckling, Herrick ;-we should grow tired in counting them. There is a crop of them, and so there is at the same time in Catholic and heroic Spain; and as in Spain it was a sign o the times, the mark of a public want, the index to an extraordinary and transient condition of the mind. What is this condition which gives rise to so universal to taste for poetry? What
Bespangled had with pearl
On which the mirthfull Quires, with their cleere open throats,
Unto the joyfull Morne so str. ne their war bling; notes,
That Hills and Valleys ring, and even the ecoing Ayre
Seemes all compos'd of sounds, about them everywhere.
Is it breathes life into their books?
Thus sing away the Morne, untill the mount
Through thick exhaled fogs, his golden hend
And through the twisted tops of our ov
To kiss the gentle Shade, this while that
A step further, and you will find the
"Ceres, most bounteous lady thy rich eas
Of wheat, rye, barley, vetches, oats, and pease;
Thy turfy mountains, where live nibbling sheep,
And flat reads thatch'd with stover, them to keep;
Then from her burnisht gate the go dly glittring East
Guilds every lofty top, which la e the humorous Nigh
Thy banks with peonèd and lilied brims,
Diffusest honey-drops, reireshing showers,
My bosky acres and my unshrubb'd down."
They are as gentle as zephyrs, blowing be-
Not wagging his sweet head."
"When Flora, proud in pomp of all aer
Sat bright and gay,
mantle chequered all with gay green." §
The same author also says:
And beauteous Thetis his red body wra
* M. Drayton's Polyolbion, ed. 622, 3th
Ibid. Melicertus' description of his Mir tress, p. 38.
So Spenser in his Faërie Queene, and his heart-of giving rise to smiles
About her eares, when Una her did marke
With mery note her lowd salutes the mounting larke."✶
ll the splendor and sweetness of this moist and well-watered land; all the specialties, the opulence of its dissolving tints, of its variable sky, its luxuriant vegetation, assemble thus about the gods, who gave them their beautiful form.
In the life of every man there are moments when, in presence of objects, he experiences a shock. This mass of ideas, of mangled recollections, of mutilated images, which lie hidden in all corners of his mind, are set in motion, organized, suddenly developed like a flower. He is enraptured; he cannot help looking at and admiring the charming creature which has just appeared; he wishes to see it again, and others like it, and dreams of nothing else. There are such moments in the life of nations, and this is one of them. They are happy in contemplating beautiful things, and wish only that they should be the most beautiful possible. They are not preoccupied, as we are, with theories. They do not excite themselves to express moral or philosophical ideas. They wish to enjoy through the imagination, through the eyes, like those Italian nobles, who, at the same time, were so captivated by fine colors and forms, that they covered with paintings not only their rooms and their churches, but the lids
their chests and the saddles of their horses. The rich and green sunny country; young, gayly-attired ladies, blooming with health and love; half-draped gods and goddesses, masterpieces and models of strength and grace, these are the most lovely objects which man can contemplate, the most capable of satisfying his senses
Spenser's Works, ed. Todd, 1863, The Faerie Queene, i. c. 11, st. 51.
and joy; and these are the objects
"See the chariot at hand here of Love,
Each that draws is a swan or a dove,
And, enamoured, do wish, so they might
That they still were to run by her side,
Do but look on her eyes, they do light
Or have smelt o' the bud o' the brier?
Or have tasted the bag of the bee?
What can be more lively, more unlike
*Ben Jonson's Poems, ed. R. Bell. Cela bration of Charis; her Triumph, p. 125.