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lilies covered the wilderness, and fountains fertilized the desert a
The golden period, in which the Christian Messiah first came upon earth, so finely foretold by Isaiah, and so admirably described in Virgil's “Pollio,” and in Pope's “Messiah,” is strikingly in character with the first coming of Buddha, the great god of the Cingalese. The golden age, however, has not always been rendered attractive by the poets. Juvenal's picture is neither elegant nor imposing; and that of Tasso in the “ Aminta” is too metaphysical by far. The general impression on the imagination, however, is delightful in the fullest extent; and strongly associates the period with that happy age, in which our primeval parents enjoyed the bounties of Paradise.
NATURAL AND MORAL ANALOGIES RESUMED. HORTENSIA, —who, as you are well aware, is endowed with every quality of the heart, and with every accomplishment of the mind ; whose eyes are more beautiful than the eyes of an antelope; and in whom are concentrated the polished breeding of France, the dignity of Spain, the modesty of England, and the grace of Italy,—discerns the likenesses
a In honour of this age, a feast was held among the ancient Latins (Macrob. Saturn. i. c. 7, &c.); and continued for many ages after by the Italians generally. On that day no offender was executed ; children had a holiday; masters waited on their servants; no war was permitted to be declared ; and friends sent presents to each other. All was harmony and happiness. This festival was instituted by Janus. The Hindoos have also their golden age. It is called in Sanscrit Setye Yug. : Burnet supposes that, in the time of the antediluvians, there was a perpetual equinox, and one continued spring, all over the globe ; the position of the earth to the sun being perpendicular, and not oblique, as in the present times. Hence he infers the vigorous constitutions, the strong intellects, and the long lives of that fortunate race.
c Compare Georg. i.--Ecl. iv. 6.- Æn. vii. 202.-Met. i. 15.-A passage in Catullus, in Nupt. Thet. et Pelæi.-Strabo, lib. xv.-With Genesis, and Isaiah, xi. 1.–Vide Grotius de Verit. Relig. Christ. i. sect. xvi._St. Jerom, lib. ii. adv. Jovinian.
of her friends in the features of particular flowers. If, therefore, she wishes to indulge the pleasure of thinking of them, she contemplates with satisfaction the flowers, which bear imaginary resemblances to the objects of her reflections. When she waters them, therefore, she appears to caress them. This idea of Hortensia has often reminded me of a passage in one of the poets, where he inquires the title of that happy land, where the names of its kings, and ladies, are engraven on the flowers. It reminds us, too, of that book of the “ Jerusalem Delivered,” where Tasso represents Erminia, when under the protection of the shepherd, driving her flock into the forest; and amusing her grief, with engraving on every tree the name of Tancred and the history of her misfortunes. In an Afghaun tale, too, Doorkhaunee is described, as deriving her only pleasure, during the long absence of her lover, from cultivating two flowers; to one of which she gave the name of her lover, and to the other that of herself a
The Princess Czartorinska signalised her love of poetry in a curious manner. This princess was one of a small party, who resided in a hamlet, in Poland, and who gave themselves up to every species of innocent amusement. Among these, they devoted a considerable portion of time to erecting a marble pyramid ; on each side of which were inscribed the names of those writers, who had contributed to their pleasure, or instruction. Each side was ornamented with appropriate emblems. On the compartment, which recorded the
- We are also reminded of two passages in Ovid ; where, in reference to the hyacinth, he says
Ipse suos gemitus foliis inscripsit, et ai ai *
Met. lib. x. 215.
Lib. xiii. 397.
* On the flower Delphinium Ajacis are the letters AIAIA.
names of Anacreon, Petrarch, Metastasio, and La Fontaine, was a myrtle: the cypress, the yew, and the weeping willow, encircled Shakspeare, Milton, Racine, Young, and Rousseau: the laurel adorned Tasso : other emblems characterised Virgil, Gessner, and De Lille: while lilies, roses, jessamines, and beds of violets, encircled the names of Madame de Sévigné, Madame Riccobine, Madame de la Fayette, and Madame des Houlières. On this pyramid was placed the following inscription, written by De Lille :
Les Dieux des Champs aux Dieux des Arts. In conformity to the analogy we have alluded to, the poets not only illustrate intellectual subjects, by references and allusions to familiar objects and appearances in Nature, but they draw from the intellectual to embellish the material This faculty, of itself, is almost sufficient to prove the soul to be of etherial origin. These allusions are, however, the more pleasing, when they glance from the former to the latter ; “because,” as Gilpin has remarked, “ material objects, being fixed in their appearances, strike every one in the same manner; whereas ideas, being different in most persons upon the same subjects, will seldom serve by way of illustration.” Some instances, however, may be found in Shakspeare, and not a few in the metaphysic Cowley, where the contrary has been done with the happiest effect. A Welsh poet has an instance, too, in one of his pennillions:
To speak of Snowdon's head sublime,
May bid the sick a smile to wear. But if the poets occasionally borrow from the intellectual to illustrate the material world, they repay with interest, when they borrow of the latter to adorn the former. When is the father of poetry weary of drawing similes from birds, insects, lions, and serpents; from the phenomena of the heavens, and the more evident appearances of the earth ?
When Longinus would give dignity to Homer, speaking of his “ Odyssey," he compares him to the mild lustre of the setting sun: and when Homer would give force and velocity to the descent of Hector, he compares it to the fall of a rock from the top of a mountain. Nothing can be more admirable than this fine simile; which is not only perfect, when applied to the subject, it would illustrate ; but is also a true and finished picture from Nature. This simile has been imitated by most of the epic poets; particularly by Tasso and Milton :—that of Virgil is little less than a translation.
An Eastern poet says of the date-tree, that its head “reclines languidly, like a beautiful woman, overcome with sleep.” In Milton, what can be more pathetic, than where he compares blind Thamyris, Tiresias, and Mæonides to the nightingale? And is there a finer instance of the application of the works of Nature to illustrate moral reflection, than where he likens the progress of crime to the lengthening shadows of a setting sun? What can be more grand, than where he compares Satan to Mount Teneriffe, and to the sun in eclipse? When Blair says, that men see their friends drop off like “leaves in autumn ;"—when Shakspeare compares the unfortunate Richard to “the evening sun ;" and a man of high reputation “to a tree, blushing with fruit;”— when he likens glory to “a circle in the water;" and the fall of Wolsey to a “falling meteor;"-how affecting, how instructive do the subjects become !
The Epicureans illustrated their idea of happiness, by asserting, that a happy life was neither like a pool, nor a torrent; but like a gentle stream, that “glides smoothly and silently along." Rollin compares the temperate order of eloquence to a beautiful ruin, embosomed in wood; and the sublime order to an impetuous river, rolling with such violence, as to break down all that is opposed to it. One of the odes, written by Neyahualcojolt, king of Mexico,—the Howel Dha of that empire,-compares the tyrant Fezzomoe to a stately
tree, which had extended itself into many countries, and spread the shade of its branches over them; but at last, being worm-eaten, wasted, fell to the earth, and never recovered its verdure.
Sometimes the poets draw similitudes from the phenomena of the heavensa. Sophocles compares the changeableness of Menelaus' fortune to the frequent waning of the moon b: and Heliodorus likens Chariclea, clad in a dress of poverty, to the same luminary, rising among the clouds. Dryden has a fine metaphor in his play of “All for Love;" where Antony compares himself to a meteor ;-an idea more than once adopted by Rowe and Congreve. Haller compares reason to the moon, and revelation to the sun. Horace affords innumerable instances.
No poets draw more frequently from Nature than the sacred writers. The fact is, there is scarcely a simile in the Scriptures, that has not an immediate reference to natural objects. How beautiful is that passage in St. John, where Christ says
:“In ancient hieroglyphic writing,” says the right reverend author of that stupendous monument of misapplied learning, -the Divine Legation of Moses, -“the sun and moon were used to represent states and empires, &c. &c. : insomuch, that in reality the prophetic style seems to be a speaking hieroglyphic.”_Vol. ii. b. iv. s. 4. “ The Etau rises upon a bad man,” said a New Zealand savage to Nicholas, “ like a full moon; rushes upon him like a falling star; and passes him like a shot from a cannon's mouth.”_Voy. to New Zealand, vol. i. 65.
What a beautiful passage is that in the Winter's Tale, where Polyxenes, questioning the shepherd respecting the love which Florizel bears to Perdita, the shepherd replies
- Never did the moon
And read my daughter's eyes. Plutarch also compares the accessions of glory, and the eclipses of the for. tune of Demetrius, his rises and his falls, to the frequent changes of the moon.
. See the parable of the wasted vine in Ezekiel *, and of the two eagles and a vine t. An admirable instance, too, occurs in Isaiah I. The parable of the
* Ch. xix. v. 10.
of Ch. xvi. v. 1.
I Ch. xv.