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Poets and BeautiES FROM CHARLES II. to Queen ANNE.
LOVES OF THE POETS.
A POET'S LOVE.
Io ti cinsi de gloria, e fatta ho deal-GOIDÍ.
Of all the heaven-bestowed privileges of the poet, the highest, the dearest, the most enviable, is the power of immortalizing the object of his love; of dividing with her his amaranthine wreath of glory, and repaying the inspi. ration caught from her eyes with a crown of everlasting fame. It is not enough that in his imagination he has deified her that he has consecrated his faculties to her honour-that he has burned his heart in incense upon the altar of her perfections; the divinity, thus decked out in richest and loveliest hues, he places on high, and calls upon
all ages and all nations to bow down before her, and all
ages and all nations obey ! worshipping the beauty thus enshrined in imperishable verse, when others, perhaps as fair, and not less worthy, have gone down unsung," to dust and an endless darkness.” How many women, who would otherwise have stolen through the shade of domestic life, their charms, virtues, and affections buried with them, have become objects of eternal interest and admiration, because their memory is linked with the brightest monuments of human genius? While many, a high-born dame, who once moved, goddess-like, upon the earth, and
bestowed kingdoms with her hand, lives a mere name in some musty chronicle. Though her love was sought by princes, though with her dower she might have enriched an emperor,—what a vajled it?
“She had no poet-and she died!" And how have women repaid this gift of immortality ? O believe it, when the garland was such as woman is proud to wear, she amply and deeply rewarded him who placed it on her brow. If in return for being made illustrious, she made her lover happy,-if for glory she gave a heart, was it not a rich equivalent ? and if not,-if the lover was unsuccessful, still the poet had his reward. Whence came the generous feelings, the high imaginations, the glorious fancies, the heavenward aspirations, which raised him above the herd of vulgar men-but from the ennobling influence of her he loved? Through her, the world opened upon him with a diviner beauty, and all nature became in his sight but a transcript of the charms of his mistress. He saw her eyes in the stars of heaven, her lips in the half-blown rose. The perfume of the opening flowers was but her breath, that " wafted sweetness round about the world :" the lily was a sweet thief” that had stolen its purity from her breast. The violet was dipped in the azure of her veins; the aurorean dews, “ dropt from the opening eyelids of the morn,” were not so pure as her tears; the last rose-tint of the dying day was not so bright or so delicate as her cheek. Her's was the freshness and bloom of the Spring; she consumed him to languor as the Summer sun; she was kind as the bounteous Autumn, or she froze him with her wintry disdain. There was nothing in the wonders, the splendours, or the treasures of the created universe, in heaven or in earth,-in the seasons or their change, that did not bor. row from her some charm, some glory beyond its own. Was it not just that the beauty she dispensed should be consecrated to her adornment, and that the inspiration she bestowed should be repaid to her in fame?
For what of thec thy poet doth invent,
But found it in thy cheek; he can afford
Then thank him not for that which he doth say,
The theory, then, which I wish to illustrate, as far as my limited powers permit, is this that where a woman has been exalted above the rest of her sex by the talents of a lover, and consigned to enduring fame and perpetuity of praise, the passion was real, and was merited ; that no deep or lasting interest was ever founded in fancy or in fiction; that truth, in short, is the basis of all excellence in amatory poetry, as in every thing else; for where truth is, there is good of some sort, and where there is truth and good, there must be beauty, there must be durability of fame. Truth is the golden chain which links the terrestrial with the celestial, which sets the seal of heaven on the things of this earth, and stamps them to immortality. Poets have risen up and been the mere fashion of a day, and have set up idols which have been the idols of a day: if the worship be out of date and the idols cast down, it is because these adorers wanted sincerity of purpose and feeling; their raptures were feigned; their incense was bought or adulterate. In the brain or in the fancy, one beauty may eclipse another-one coquette may drive out another, and tricked off in airy verse, they float away unregarded like morning vapours, which the beam of genius has tinged with a transient brightness: but let the heart once be touched, and it is not only wakened but inspired; the lover kindled into the poet, presents to her he loves, bis cup of ambrosial praise: she tastes - and the woman is transmuted into a divinity. When the Grecian sculplor carved out his deities in marble, and left us wondrous and god-like shapes, impersonations of ideal grace unapproachable by modern skill, was it through mere mechanical superiority? No;-it was the spirit of faith within which shadowed to his imagination what he would represent. In the same manner, no woman has ever been truly, lastingly deified in poetry, but in the spirit of truth and of love!