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make an abstraction of the intellectual ore from the material dross, of feelings from objects, of results from causes. We must get at the kernel of pleasure through the dry and hard husk of truth. We must wait nature's time. These false births weaken the constitution. It has been observed that men of science live longer than mere men of letters. They exercise their understandings more, their sensibility less. There is with them less wear and tear of the irritable fibre, which is not shattered and worn to a very thread. On the hill. of science, they keep an eye intent on truth and fame :
“Calm pleasures there abide, majestic pains,"
while the man of letters mingles in the crowd below, courting popularity and pleasure. His is a frail and feverish existence accordingly, and he soon exhausts himself in the tormenting pursuit-in the alternate excitement of his imagination and gratification of his vanity.
“ Earth destroys Those raptures duly: Erebus disdains !" Lord Byron appears to me to have fairly run himself out in his debilitating intercourse with the wanton Muse. He had no other idea left but that of himself and the public-he was uneasy unless he was occupied in administering repeated
provocatives to idle curiosity, and receiving strong doses of praise or censure in return : the irritation at last became so violent and importunate, that he could neither keep on with it nor take any repose from it. The glistering orb of heated popularity “ Glared round his soul and mocked his closing eye-lids."
The successive endless Cantos of Don Juan were the quotidian that killed him!-Old Sir Walter will last long enough, stuffing his wallet and his “ wame," as he does, with mouldy fragments and crumbs of comfort. He does not“ spin his brains,” but something much better. The cunning chield, the old canty gaberlunzie has got hold of another clue-that of nature and history-and long may he spin it, “even to the crack of doom,” watching the threads as they are about to break through his fringed eye-lids, catching a tradition in his mouth like a trap, and heaping his forehead with facts, till it shoves up the Baronet's blue bonnet into a Baron's crown, and then will the old boy turn in his chair, rest his chin upon his crutch, give a last look to the Highlands, and with his latest breath, thank God that he leaves the world as he found it! And so he will pretty nearly with one exception, the Scotch Novels. They are a small addition to this round world of ours. We and they shall
jog on merrily together for a century or two, I hope, till some future Lord Byron asks, " Whò reads Sir Walter Scott now?" There is the last and almost worst of them. I would take it with me into a wilderness. Three pages of poor Peter Peebles will at any time redeem three volumes of Red-Gauntlet. And Nanty Ewart is even better with his steady walk upon the deck of the Jumping Jenny and his story of himself, "and her whose foot (whether he came in or went out) was never off the stair." There you came near me, there you touched me, old truepenny! And then again the catch that blind Willie and his wife and the boy sing in the hollow of the heath-there is more mirth and heart's ease in it than in all Lord Byron's Don Juan, or Mr. Moore's Lyrics. And why? Because the author is thinking of beggars and a beggar's brat, and not of himself while he writes it. He looks at nature, sees it, hears it, feels it, and believes that it exists, before it is printed, hotpressed, and labelled on the back, By the Author of Waverley. He does not fancy, nor would he for one moment have it supposed, that his name and fame compose all that is worth a moment's consideration in the universe. This is the great secret of his writings-a perfect indifference to self. Whether it is the same in his
politics, I cannot say. I see no comparison between his prose writing and Lord Byron's poems. The only writer that I should hesitate about is Wordsworth. There are thoughts and lines of his that to me shew as fine a mind, a subtler sense of beauty than any thing of Sir Walter's, such as those above quoted, and that other line in the Laodamia
“Elysian beauty, melancholy grace." I would as soon have written that line as have carved a Greek statue. But in this opinion I shall have three or four with me, and all the rest of the world against me. I do not dislike a House-of-Commons Minority in matters of taste --that is, one that is select, independent, and has a proxy from posterity.-To return to the question with which I set out.
Learning is its own exceeding great reward; and at the period of which we speak, it bore other fruits, not unworthy of it. Genius, when not smothered and kept down by learning, blazed out triumphantly over it; and the Fancy often rose to a height proportioned to the depth to which the Understanding had struck its roots. After the first emancipation of the mind from the trammels of Papal ignorance and superstition, people seemed to be in a state of breathless wonder at the new light that was
suffered to break in upon them. They were startled as " at the birth of nature from the unapparent deep.” They seized on all objects that rose in view with a firm and eager grasp, in order to be sure whether they were imposed upon or not. The mind of man, “pawing to get free” from custom and prejudice, struggled and plunged, and like the fabled Pegasus, opened at each spring a new source of truth. Images were piled on heaps, as well as opinions and facts, the ample materials for poetry or prose, to which the bold hand of enthusiasm applied its torch, and kindled it into a flame. The-accumulation of past records seemed to form the frame-work of their prose, as the observation of external objects did of their poetry
“ Whose body nature was, and man the soul.” Among poets they have to boast such names, for instance, as Shakespear, Spenser, Beaumont and Fletcher, Marlowe, Webster, Deckar, and soon after, Milton ; among prose-writers, Selden, Bacon, Jeremy Taylor, Baxter, and Sir Thomas Brown; for patriots, they have such men as Pym, Hampden, Sydney; and for a witness of their zeal and piety, they have Fox's Book of Martyrs, instead of which we have Mr. Southey's Book of the Church, and a whole host of renegades! Perhaps Jeremy Taylor and also