1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Walter Savage Landor

William Hazlitt, in Review of Landor, Imaginary Conversations; Edinburgh Review 40 (March 1824) 67-80.



This work is as remarkable an instance as we have lately met with of the strength and weakness of the human intellect. It displays considerable originality, learning, acuteness, terseness of style, and force of invective — but it is spoiled and rendered abortive throughout by an utter want of temper, of self-knowledge, and decorum. Mr. Landor's mind is far from barren in feeling or in resources; but over the natural, and (what might be) the useful growth of these, there every where springs up a luxuriant crop of caprice, dogmatism, extravagance, intolerance, quaintness, and most ludicrous arrogance, — like the red and blue flowers in corn, that, however they may dazzle the passenger's eye, choke up the harvest, and mock the hopes of the husbandman. We are not ignorant of the school to which our author belongs; and could name other writers who, in the course of a laborious life, and in productions numerous and multiform — some recent and suited to the times, some long and luckily forgotten, — in ode, inscriptions, madrigals, epics, — in essays, histories and reviews, — have run into as many absurdities, and as many extremes: But never did we see, bound up in the same volume, close-packed, and pointed with all the significance of style, the same number of contradictions, staring one another in the face, and quarrelling for the precedence. Mr. Landor's book is a perfect "institute and digest" of inconsistency: it is made up of mere antipathies in nature and in reasoning. It is a chef-d'oeuvre of self-opinion and self-will, strangling whatever is otherwise sound and excellent in principle, defacing whatever is beautiful in style and matter.

If it be true (as has been said) that "Great wits to madness nearly are allied," we know few writers that have higher or more unequivocal pretensions in this way than the author of the "Imaginary Conversations." Would it be believed, that, trampling manfully on all history and tradition, he speaks of Tiberius as a man of sentiment, who retired to Capri merely to indulge a tender melancholy on the death of a beloved wife: and will have it that Nero was a most humane, amiable, and deservedly popular character — not arguing the points as doubtful or susceptible of question, but assuming them, "en passant," as most absolute and peremptory conclusions — as if whatever was contrary to common sense and common feeling carried conviction on the face of it? In the same page he assures us, with the same oracular tranquillity, that the conflagration of Rome, and the great fire of London, were both wise and voluntary measures, arising from the necessity of purifying the cities after sickness, and leaving no narrow streets in their centres! and on turning the leaf, it is revealed to us, that "there is nothing in Rome, or in the world, equal to — the circus in Bath!" He spells the words foreign and sovereign, "foren" and "sovran," and would go to the stake, or send others there, to prove the genuineness of these orthographies, which he adopts on the authority of Milton; and yet he abuses Buonaparte for being the ape of Antiquity, and talking about Miltiades. He cries up Mr. Locke as "the most elegant of English prose writers" for no other reason (as we apprehend) than that he has often been considered as the least so; and compares Dr. Johnson's style to "that article of dress which the French have lately made peace with," (a pair of pantaloons), "divided into two parts, equal in length, breadth, and substance, with a protuberance before and behind." He pronounces sentence upon the lost works of two ancient writers, Democritus and Menander, that the former would be worth all the philosophical remains of antiquity, and the latter not be worth having, — precisely because he can know nothing about the matter; the will to decide superseding the necessity of any positive ground of opinion, and the spirit of contradiction standing him in lieu of all other conviction, Boileau, according to our critic, had not a particle of sense, wit, or taste: Pope, to be sure, was of a different opinion — and we take it to be just possible that Boileau would have thought himself indemnified by the homage of the one for the scorn of the other! He speaks of Pitt as a poor creature, who did not see an inch before him, and of Fox as a charlatan; and says modestly in reference to some history he is writing, that he trusts "Posterity will not confound him with the Coxes and the Foxes of the age." It would be rather too much in his own manner perhaps to say, that no one who could write this sentence, will ever write a history — but we hazard the conjecture notwithstanding — and leave it to time to decide. He announces that Alfieri was the greatest man in Europe, though his greatness has not yet been generally acknowledged, This, however, is exactly the reason that Mr. Landor vouches for it, because whether he was so or not, rests solely on his "ipse dixit." It is a fine thing to be one of the oracles of Fame! With equal modesty and candour he declares literary men to be as much superior to lords and kings as these last are to the meanest of their vassals. In a dialogue between Prince Maurocordato and General Colocotroni, he wishes the Greeks to substitute the bow for the use of fire-arms; and to this experimental crotchet, we suspect, he would sacrifice the Greek cause, — or any other. He has a hit at Lord Byron, and another at Mr. Thomas Moore, and a compliment to Lady Morgan. It is hard to say which he hates most — the English Government or the French people — Buonaparte or the Bourbons. He considers Buonaparte as a miracle, only because no man with so little talent ever gained such an ascendancy; and certainly with the qualifications our author allows him, he must have dealt with the Devil to do what he did; and, as if determined to conciliate no party and have all the world against him, he takes care to inform the reader at the same time, that in the most remarkable English victory in the last fifty years, "the prudence and skill of the commander (Wellington) were altogether wanting." He brings it as a proof of Buonaparte's stupidity, that "he knew nothing of judicial astrology, which hath certain laws assigned to it, and fancied he could unite it with atheism, as easily as the iron crown with the lilies." He tells us, that "he did his utmost in pursuing this tyrant to death, recommending and insisting on nothing less: but that now he is dead, he is sorry for it." So hot, indeed, is he on this scent, that he is for bringing Louis XIV. to life, in order to have him "carted to condign punishment in the Place de Greve, or at Tyburn." We cannot understand this coincidence in the proposed fate of two persons so different; nor how Mr. Landor should call "the battle of Waterloo the most glorious to the victors since that of Leuctra," while he recommends a resort to tyrannicide, and points out its objects, to get rid of the legitimate consequences of that battle; nor why be should strike "his marble table with his palm," or call his country names — "degenerate Albion," — "recreant slave," &c. &c. for not aiding "in the cause of freedom in Greece," when she has his thanks and praise for putting down the principle, at one blow, all over the world! Kings and nations, however, do not change like whiffling politicians. The one are governed by their prejudices, the other by their interests; — Mr. Landor and his friends by the opinion of the moment, by a fit of the spleen, by the first object that stirs their vanity or their resentment.

The work before us is an edifying example of the spirit of Literary Jacobinism, — flying at all game, running a-muck at all opinions, and at continual cross-purposes with its own. To avoid misconstruction, however, we should add, that we mean by this term, that despotism of the mind, which only emancipates itself from authority and prejudice, to grow impatient of every thing like an appearance of opposition, and to domineer over and dictate its sudden, crude, violent, and varying opinions, to the rest of the world. This spirit admits neither of equal nor superior, follower nor precursor: "it travels in a road so narrow where but one goes abreast." It claims a monopoly of sense, wit, and wisdom. To agree with it is an impertinence: to differ from it a crime. It tramples on old prejudices: it is jealous of new pretensions. It seizes with avidity on all that is startling or obnoxious in opinions, and when they are countenanced by any one else, discards them as no longer fit for its use. Thus persons of this temper affect atheism by way of distinction; and if they can succeed in bringing it into fashion, become orthodox again, in order not to be with the vulgar. Their creed is at the mercy of every one who assents to, or who contradicts it. All their ambition, all their endeavour is, to seem wiser than the whole world besides. If they are forced to adopt a commonplace, they exaggerate it into a paradox, by their manner of stating it. So, in the "Imaginary Conversations," we learn, that "for every honest Italian, there are," not ten, or a hundred, but "a hundred thousand honest Englishmen." They hate whatever falls short of, whatever goes beyond, their favourite theories. In the one case they hurry on before to get the start of you; in the other, they suddenly turn back, to hinder you, and defeat themselves. It is not the love of truth, or of mankind, that urges them on — but the love of distinction; and they run into every extreme, and every folly, in order to indulge their overweening self-complacency and affected singularity.

An inordinate, restless, incorrigible self-love, is the key to all their actions and opinions, extravagancies and meannesses, servility and arrogance. Whatever sooths and pampers this they applaud; whatever wounds or interferes with it they utterly and vindictively abhor. If an author is read and admired, they decry him; and if he is obscure or forgotten, or unintelligible, they extol him to the skies. But if they should succeed in bringing him into notice, and fixing him in the firmament of fame, they soon find out that there are spots in the sun, and draw the cloud of envy over his merits. A general is with them a hero, if he is unsuccessful or a traitor: if he is a conqueror in the cause of liberty, or a martyr to it, he is a poltroon. Whatever is doubtful, remote, visionary in philosophy, or wild and dangerous in politics, they fasten upon eagerly, "recommending and insisting on nothing less;" — the one to demonstration, the other to practice, and they turn their backs upon their own most darling schemes, and leave them in the lurch immediately. With them every thing is "in posse," nothing "in esse." The reason is, that they would have others take all their opinions implicitly from their infallibility: if a thing has grounds or evidence of its own to rest upon, so that they are no longer called in like prophets, to vouch for its truth, this is a sufficient excuse for them to discard it, and to look out for new "terrae incognitae" to exercise their quackery and second-sight upon. So they cry up a protege of their own, that nobody has ever heard of, as a prodigious genius, while he does nothing to justify the character they give of him, and exists only through the breath of their nostrils; — let him come forward in his own person, encouraged by their applause, and convince the world that he has something in him, and they immediately set to work to prove that he has borrowed all his ideas from them, — and is besides a person of bad moral character! They are of the church-militant; they pull down, but they will not build up, nor let any one else do it. They devote themselves to a cause, to a principle while it is in doubt or struggling for existence; — let it succeed, and they become jealous of it, and revile and hate the man by whom it has risen, or by whom it stands, like a triumphal arch over the ruins of barbaric thrones! For any one to do more for a cause than they have done, to be more talked of than they are, is a piece of presumption not hastily to be forgiven.

We consider the spirit which we have here attempted to analyze, as maintained in a state of higher concentration in this work than in any other we have for some time seen. Some of Mr. Southey's lucubrations contain pretty good samples of it; but in him it is "dashed and brewed" with other elements. He has been to court, is one of a firm, and mixes something of the cant of methodism with his effusions. But Mr. Landor keeps a private still of his own, where the unrectified spirit remains in its original vigour and purity, — cold indeed, and without the frothy effervescence of its first running, but unabated in activity, strength and virulence. We have pointed out what we regard as the "damning sin" of this work; and having thus entered our protest, and guarded the reader against its mischievous tendency, we hold ourselves at liberty to extract what amusement or instruction we can from it. We are far from wishing to represent our author as "to every good word and work reprobate." On the contrary, we think he is naturally prone to what is right, but diverted from it by the infirmity we speak of. He has often much strength of thought, and vigour and variety of style; and we should be mortified, indeed, and deserving of mortification, if the petty provocation he has attempted to give us, could deter us from doing him that justice. He is excellent, whenever excellence is compatible with singularity. It is the fault of the school to which he belongs, not that they are blind to truth, or indifferent to good — but truth to be welcome must be a rare discovery of their own; they only woo her as a youthful bride; and are too soon satiated with the possession of what they desire, out of fickleness, or as the gloss of novelty wears off — or sue out a divorce from jealousy, and a dread of rivals in the favour of their former mistress!

This was the reason, whatever might be the pretext, why the same set of persons raised such an outcry against Buonaparte, and alone insisted on his assassination. They had no great objection to what he was doing — but they could not bear to think that he had done more than they had ever dreamt of. While they were building castles in the air, he gave law to Europe. He carved out with the sword, what they had only traced with the pen. "Never," says Mr. Landor, "had been such good laws so well administered over a considerable portion of Europe. The services he rendered to society were great, manifold, and extensive." But these services were hateful in their eyes — because he aggrandized himself in performing them. The power he wielded, the situation he occupied, excited their envy, much more than the stand he made against the common enemy, their gratitude. They were ready enough at all times to pull down kings, but they hated him worse who trampled, by his own might, on their necks — as more rivals to themselves, as running in the same race, and going farther in it. Any service, in short, any triumph is odious in their eyes, be it over whom, or in favour of what it will. Their great idol now is Washington: but this is because he acted upon comparatively a narrow theatre, and belongs to a people whose greatness is rather prospective than present; and also, because there is something in his mechanical habits and cold formality, that appeases their irritable spleen.

The Dialogues are thirty-six in number, and on a great variety of curious and interesting topics. The style of the period is sometimes well imitated, without being mimicked; and a good deal of character, and sometimes of humour, is thrown into the tone of the different speakers. We give the following, between Roger Ascham and Lady Jane Gray, as one of the most pleasing, and as a relief to the severity and harshness of our introductory speculation.

"ASCHAM. Thou art going, my dear young lady, into a most awful state: thou art passing into matrimony and great wealth. God hath willed it so: submitt in thankfulness. Thy affections are rightly placed and well distributed. Love is a secondary passion in those who love most, a primary in those who love least. He who is inspired by it in a great degree, is inspired by honour in a greater: it never reaches its plenitude of growth and perfection, but in the most exalted minds ... Alas! alas!

"JANE. What aileth my virtuous Ascham? what is amiss? why do I tremble?

"ASCHAM. I see perils on perils which thou dost not see, although thou art wiser than thy poor old master. And it is not because Love hath blinded thee, for that surpasseth his supposed omnipotence, but it is because thy tender heart having always leaned affectionately upon good, hath felt and known nothing of evil. I once persuaded thee to reflect much; let me now persuade thee to avoid the habitude of reflection, to lay aside books, and to gaze carefully and steadfastly on what is under and before thee.

"JANE. I have well bethought me of all my duties: O how extensive they are! what a goodly and fair inheritance! But tell me, wouldst thou command me never more to read Cicero and Epictetus and Polybius? the others I do resign unto thee: they are good for the arbour and for the gravel walk; but leave unto me, I beseech thee, my friend and father, leave unto me, for my fire-side and for my pillow, truth, eloquence, courage, constancy.

"ASCHAM. Read them on thy marriage-bed, on thy child-bed, on thy death-bed! Thou spotless, undrooping lily, they have fenced thee right well! These are the men for men: these are to fashion the bright and blessed creatures, O Jane, whom God one day shall smile upon in thy chaste bosom.... Mind thou thy husband.

"JANE. I sincerely love the youth who hath espoused me I love him with the fondest, the most solicitous affection. I pray to the Almighty for his goodness and happiness, and do forget, at times, unworthy supplicant! the prayers I should have offered for myself. O never fear that I will disparage my kind religious teacher, by disobedience to my husband in the most trying duties.

"ASCHAM. Gentle is he, gentle and virtuous; but time will harden him: time must harden even thee, sweet Jane! Do thou, complacently and indirectly, lead him from ambition.

"JANE. He is contented with me and with home.

"ASCHAM. Ah, Jane, Jane men of high estate grow tired of contentedness.

"JANE. He told me he never liked books unless I read them to hire. I will read them to him every evening I will open new worlds to him, richer than those discovered by the Spaniard: I will conduct him to treasures.... O what treasures!... On which he may sleep in innocence and peace.

"ASCHAM. Rather do thou walk with him, ride with him, play with him, be his faery, his page, his every thing that love and poetry have invented; but watch him well, sport with his fancies; turn them about like the ringlets round his cheeks; and if ever he meditate on power, go, toss up thy baby to his brow, and bring back his thoughts into his heart by the music of thy discourse. Teach him to live unto God and unto thee: and he will discover that women, like the plants in woods, derive their softness and tenderness from the shade." II. 54.

We must say we think this Dialogue is written con amore. It is imbued with the very spirit of some of those old writers, where "all is conscience and tender heart." Mr. Landor's over-anxious mind reposes on the innocence of youth and beauty, on the simplicity of his subject, on the reverence due and willingly paid, because silently exacted, to age and antiquity! Even the quaintness, the abruptness, the wanderings and the puerility, are delightful, and happily characteristic. While we are in good humour with our author, we will extract another conversation of the same period, and distinguished by the same vein of felicitous imitation, in the sentiment of which we also go along with him heart and hand, — that between Elizabeth and Burleigh, on the trite subject of Spenser's pension.

"ELIZABETH. I advise thee again, Churlish Cecil, how that our Edmund Spenser, whom thou calledst most uncourteously a whining whelp, hath good and solid reason for his complaint. God's blood! shall the lady that tieth my garter and shuffleth the smock over my head, or the lord that steddieth my chair's back while I eat, or the other that looketh to my buck-hounds lest they be mangy, be holden by me in higher esteem and estate than he who hath placed me among the bravest of past times, and will as safely and surely set me down among the loveliest in the future?

"CECIL. Your highness must remember he carouseth fully for such deserts.... A hundred pounds a year of unclipt monies, and a butt of canary wine.

"ELIZABETH. The monies are not enow to sustain a pair of grooms and a pair of palfreys, and more wine hath been drunken in my presence at a feast. The monies are given to such men, that they may not incline nor be obligated to any vile or lowly occupation; and the canary, that they may entertain such promising Wits as court their company and converse; and that in such manner there may be alway in our land a succession of these heirs of Fame. He hath written, not indeed with his wonted fancifulness, nor in learned and majestical language, but in homely and rustic wise, some verses which have moved me; and haply the more so, inasmuch as they demonstrate to me that his genius hath been dampened by his adversities. Read them.

"CECIL.

How much is lost when neither heart nor eye
Rose-winged Desire or fabling Hope deceives;
When boyhood with quick throb hath ceased to spy
The dubious apple in the yellow leaves;

When, springing from the turf where youth reposed,
We find but deserts in the far-sought shore
When the huge book of Faery-land lies closed,
And those strong brazen clasps will yield no more.

"ELIZABETH. The said Edmund hath also furnished unto the weaver at Arras, John Blaquieres, on my account, a description for some of his cunningest wenches to work at, supplied by mine own self, indeed as far as the subject-matter goes, but set forth by him with figures and fancies, and daintily enough bedecked. I could have wished he had thereunto joined a fair comparison between Dian ... no matter he might perhaps have fared the better for it ... but poet's wits, God help them! when did they ever sit close about them? Read the poesy, not over-rich, and concluding very awkwardly and meanly.

"CECIL.

Where forms the lotus, with its level leaves
And solid blossoms, many floating isles,
What heavenly radiance swift-descending cleaves
The darksome wave! unwonted beauty smiles

On its pure bosom, on each bright-eyed flower,
On every nymph, and twenty sate around....
Lo! 'twas Diana ... from the sultry hour
Hither she fled, nor fear'd she sight nor sound.

Unhappy youth, whom thirst and quiver-reeds
Drew to these haunts, whom awe fotbade to fly,
Three faithful dogs before him rais'd their heads,
And watched and wonder'd at that fixed eye.

Forth sprang his favorite with her arrow-hand
Too late the Goddess hid what hand may hide,
Of every nymph and every reed complain'd,
And dashed upon the bank the waters wide.

On the prone head and sandal'd feet they flew—
Lo! slender hoofs and branching horns appear!
The last marred voice not even the favorite knew,
But bayed and fastened on the upbraiding deer.

Far be, chaste Goddess, far from me and mine,
The stream that tempts thee in the summer noon!
Alas, that vengeance dwells with charms divine....

"ELIZABETH. Psha! give me the paper; I forwarned thee how it ended ... pitifully, pitifully.

"CECIL. I cannot think otherwise than that the undertaker of he aforecited poesy bath choused your Highness; for I have seen painted, I know not where, the identically same Dian, with full as many nymphs, as he calls them, and more dogs. So small a matter is a page of poesy shall never stir my choler, nor twitch my purse-string.

"ELIZABETH. I have read in Plinius and MeIa of a runlet near Dodona, which kindled by approximation an unlighted torch, and extinguished a lighted one. Now, Cecil, I desire no such a jetty to be celebrated as the decoration of my court: in simpler words, which your gravity may more easily understand, I would not, from the fountain of Honour, give lustre to the dull and ignorant, deadening and leaving in 'cold obstruction' the lamp of literature and genius. I ardently wish my reign to be remembered: if my actions were different from what they are, I should as ardently wish it to be forgotten. Those are the worst of suicides, who voluntarily and prepensely stab or suffocate their fame, when God has commanded them to stand up on high for an ensample. We call him parricide who destroys the author of his existence: tell me, what shall we call him who casts forth to the dogs and birds of prey, its most faithful propagator and most firm support? The parent gives us few days and sorrowful; the poet many and glorious: the one (supposing him discreet and kindly) best reproves our faults; the other best remunerates our virtues. A page of poesy is a little matter — be it so — but of a truth I do tell thee, Cecil, it shall master full many a bold heart that the Spaniard cannot trouble — it shall win to it full many a proud and flighty one, that even chivalry and manly comeliness cannot touch. I may shake titles and dignities by the dozen from my breakfast-board — but I may not save those upon whose heads I shake them from rottenness and oblivion. This year they and their sovran dwell together, next year they and their beagle. Both have names, but names perishable. The keeper of my privy seal is an earl — what then? The keeper of my poultry-yard is a Caesar. In honest truth, a name given to a man is no better than a skin given to him: what is not natively his own, falls off and comes to nothing. I desire in future to hear no contempt of penmen, unless a depraved use of the pen shall have so cramped them, as to incapacitate them for the sword and for the council-chamber. If Alexander was the Great, what was Aristoteles who made him so? who taught him every art and science he knew, except three, those of drinking, of blaspheming, and of murdering his bosom-friends. Come along: I will bring thee bad: again nearer home. Thou mightest toss and tumble in thy bed many nights, and never eke out the substance of a stanza: but Edmund, if per chance I should call upon him for his counsel, would give me as wholesome and prudent as any of you. We should indemnify such men for the injustice we do unto them in not calling them about us, and for the mortification they must suffer at seeing their inferiors set before them. Edmund is grave and gentle, — he complains of Fortune, not of Elizabeth, — of courts, not of Cecil. I am resolved, so help me God, he shall have no further cause for his repining. Go, convey unto him these twelve silver spoons, with the apostols on them, gloriously gilded; and deliver into his hand these twelve large golden pieces, sufficing for the yearly maintenance of another horse and groom; — besides which, set open before him with due reverence this bible, wherein he may read the mercies of God towards those who waited in patience for his blessing; and this pair of cremisin silken hosen, which thou knowest I have worne only thirteen months, taking heed that the heelpiece be put into good and sufficient restauration, at my sole charges, by the Italian woman at Charing-Cross." I. 91.

We think that this is very pleasant and brave "fooling," and that our author has hit off the familiar pedantic tone of the Maiden Queen well. The sentiment with which Elizabeth seems in the foregoing Dialogue, to regard the Muses as among her Maids of Honour, and the patronage she is ready to extend to poets as the most agreeable and permanent class of court-chroniclers, must be considered as characteristic of the person and the age, and not attributed to the author. His literary "fiert" is quite in the tone of the present age, nor can he be suspected of representing poets as destined to nothing higher than to be danglers upon the great. He has put his opinion on this subject beyond a doubt. In a very different style, he makes Salomon, the Florentine Jew, thus address Alfieri, the tragic poet.

"Be contented, Signor Conte, with the glory of our first great dramatist, and neglect altogether any inferior one. Why vex and torment yourself about the French? They buzz and are troublesome while they are swarming; but the master will soon hive them. Is the whole nation worth the worst of your tragedies? All the present race of them, all the creatures in the world which excite your indignation, will lie in the grave, while young and old are clapping their hands or beating their bosoms at your Bruto Primo. Consider, to make one step further, that kings and emperours should, in your estimation, be but as grasshoppers and beetles, — let them consume a few blades of your clover, without molesting them, without bringing them to crawl on you and claw you. The difference between them and men of genius is almost as great, as between men of genius and those higher Intelligences who act in immediate subordination to the Almighty. Yes, I assert it, without flattery and without fear, the Angels are not higher above mortals, than you are above the proudest that trample on them."

We think Mr. Landor's friend, the poet-laureate, cannot do better than turn this passage into hexameter verse, and present it as his next Birth-day Ode. The author's dislike of the French has here inspired him with a contempt for emperors and kings, and with an admiration for men of genius. He sets out with a fit of the spleen, rises to the sublime, and ends in the mock-heroic. We do not soar so high. Without pretending to settle the precedence between poets and any higher order of Intelligences, we certainly think they have something better to do than to varnish over state-puppets, and hold them up to the gaze of posterity. Yet this menial use of their talents seems to have been the highest which even persons like Elizabeth formerly contemplated in their patronage of them.

If Spenser had merely distinguished himself by his flattering and fanciful portraits of his royal mistress, we should think no more of him now than of "the lady that tied on her garter." He has entitled himself to our gratitude, by introducing us into the presence of his mistress, Fancy, the true Faery Queen, "the fairest princess under sky;" and showing us the purple lights of Love and Beauty reflected in his tremulous page, like evening skies in pure and still waters. What is it that the poets of elder times have indeed done for us, besides paying awkward compliments and writing fulsome dedications to their patrons? They spread out a brighter heaven above our heads, a softer and a greener earth beneath our feet. They do in truth "paint the lily," they "throw a perfume on the violet, and add another hue unto the rainbow." From them the murmuring stream borrows its thoughtful music; they steep the mountain's head in azure, and the nodding grove waves in visionary grandeur in their page. Solitude becomes more solitary, silence eloquent, joy extatic; they lend wings to Hope, and put a heart into all things. Poetry hangs its lamp on high, shedding sweet influence; and not an object in nature is seen, unaccompanied by the sound of "famous poets' verse." They add another spring to man's life, breathe the balm of immortality into the soul, and by their aid, a dream and a glory is ever around us. Queen Elizabeth ordered Shakespeare to continue Falstaff. He has indeed been continued; for he has come down to us, and is living to this day! Otway would have thought it a great thing to have had Venice Preserved patronised, and a box taken by a dutchess on the night of its first appearance. But is this "the spur that the clear spirit doth raise?" Is it for this that we envy him, or that so many would have wished like him to live, even though doomed as the consequence, like him to die? No, but for the sake of those thousand hearts that have melted with Belvidera's sorrows, for those tears that have streamed from bright eyes, and that young and old have shed so many thousand times over her fate! This is the spur to Fame, this is the boast of letters, that they are the medium through which whatever we feel and think (that we take most pride and interest in) is imparted and lives in the brain, and throbs in the bosoms of a countless multitude. We breathe the thoughts of others as they breathe ours, like common air, in spite of the distance of place, and the lapse of time. Mind converses everywhere with mind, and we drink of knowledge as of a river. We ourselves (Mr. Landor will excuse the egotism of the transition) once took shelter from a shower of rain in a ruined hovel in the Highlands, where we found an old shepherd apparently regardless of the storm and of his flock, reading a number of the Edinburgh Review! Need we own that this little incident inspired us with a feeling of almost poetical vanity? From that time the blue and yellow covers seemed to take a tinge from the humid arch, that spanned the solitude before us, and our thoughts were commingled with the elements!