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For any living thing, hath faculties
Which he has never used; that thought with him
Is in its infancy. The man whose eye
Is ever on himself doth look on one,
The least of Nature's works-one who might move
The wise man to that scorn which wisdom holds
Unlawful ever. Oh be wiser, thou;
Instructed that true knowledge leads to love,
True dignity abides with him alone
Who, in the silent hour of inward thought,
Can still suspect, and still revere himself,

In lowliness of heart.” I have also had occasion to show how morbid and dangerous the love of innocent, inanimate nature may become when it is linked with infidelity-how it will sink down into a vile and weak materialism. By no poet that ever lived has the face of nature, the world of sight and sound, from the planetary motions in the heavens down to the restless shadow of the smallest flower, been so sedulously studied during a long life, and all the utterance his poetry gives of that study is meant to inspire

“The glorious habit by which sense is made

Subservient still to moral purposes,

Auxiliar to divine."* Never, as in the sensuous and irreligious poets, is the material world suffered to encroach upon the spiritual, still less to get dominion over it. So far from any such delusion, observe how, in that well-known passage in The Exvursion, the sublimity of which is sometimes overlooked in the beauty of the illustration, he proclaims this truth-that the universe, this material universe, is a shell, from which the ear of Faith can hear mysterious murmurings of the Deity.

* Excursion, book iv. p. 432.

“I have seen
A curious child, who dwelt upon a tract
Of inland ground, applying to his ear
The convolutions of a smooth-lipped shell:
To which, in silence hushed, his very soul
Li: intensely ;-and his countenance soon
Brightened with joy; for murmurings from within
Were heard, sonorous cadences ! whereby,
To his belief, the monitor expressed
Mysterious union with its native sea.
Even such a shell the universe itself

Is to the ear of Faith."* The love of nature thus taught, associated with holy thoughts and reverent emotions, is made perpetual enjoyment, open, too, to every human being: and he who receives the poet's teaching may make the poet's words his own:

“Beauty—a living presence of the earth,
Surpassing the most fair ideal forms
Which craft of delicate spirits hath composed
From earth's materials—waits upon my steps;
Pitches her tents before me as I move,
An hourly neighbour Paradise, and groves
Elysian, Fortunate Fields—like those of old
Sought in the Atlantic main-why should they be
A history only of departed things,
Or a mere fiction of what never was?
For the discerning intellect of man,
When wedded to this goodly universe
In love and holy passion, should find these

A simple produce of the common day.”+ I had reserved for the conclusion of this lecture some notice of the female authors of this century. Ungracious as it will be for such a subject, I feel that I must give it a brevity considerate of your patience. It is a fine cha

* Excursion, book iv. p. 432. † Preface to the Excursion, p. 394.

a

racteristic of the literature of our times, that the genius of woman has shared largely and honourably in it. It has been

SO,

from the share which Joanna Baillie had in the restoration of a more truthful tone of poetic feeling, and the delightful fictions with which Maria Edgeworth used to charm our childhood, down to the later company

of women who still adorn both prose and poetic literature. There have been instances of female authorship in such modest retirement that the world has not known them well enough. There is much that illustrates the gracefulness and delicacy of the womanly mind, but over and above all this, and combined with it, the literature of our times has developed an energy which womanly authorship had not shown before: I do not mean a masculine energy,

but genuine womanly power. Those writers who are, I think, chiefly distinguished for such power, as well as beauty of genius, are Mrs. Jameson, as a prose-writer, and especially in her admirable criticisms both on art and literature; Mrs. Kemble, Mrs. Norton, and Mrs. Browning, formerly Miss Barrett. Indulge me with a few minutes more for an illustration or two of the poetic power I speak of. Every person, probably, after youth is passed, is conscious at some time of a deep craving for repose, for a tranquillity inward and outward : this universal feeling is thus expressed in these lines :

“But to be still! oh, but to cease a while
The panting breath and hurrying steps of life,
The sights, the sounds, the struggle, and the strife,
Of hourly being; the sharp biting file
Of action fretting on the tightened chain
Of rough existence; all that is not pain,
But utter weariness! oh! to be free,
But for a while, from conscious entity!

To shut the banging doors and windows wide
Of restless sense, and let the soul abide,
Darkly and stilly, for a little space,
Gathering its strength up to pursue the race;
Ob, heavens! to rest a moment, but to rest,
From this quick, gasping life, were to be blest!"*

It is an honourable and characteristic distinction of the female authorship of the day that it has devoted itself, in several forms, to the cause of suffering humanity.

“Some there are whose names will live
Not in the memories, but the hearts of men,
Because those hearts they comforted and raised;
And where they saw God's images cast down,
Lifted them up again, and blew the dust
From the worn features and disfigured limb.”+

you know what might there is in the voice that speaks from a woman-poet's full heart, what power of imagination no less than of sympathy and pity, find that earnest plea which Elizabeth Barrett uttered against the horrid sacrifice to Mammon, which was once the shame of Britain's factories. It is entitled The Cry of the Children." I quote only the opening and closing stanzas:

Would

“Do ye hear the children weeping, O my brothers,

Ere the sorrow comes with years ?
They are leaning their young heads against their mothers,

And that cannot stop their tears.
The young lambs are bleating in the meadows,

The young birds are chirping in the nest,
The young fawns are playing with the shadows,

The young flowers are blowing toward the West;

* Poems by Frances Anne Kemble, p. 151.

† Landor's Lines to “ The Author of Mary Barton," in the Examiner; March 17, 1849.

But the young, young children, O my brothers,

They are weeping bitterly;
They are weeping in the playtime of the others,

In the country of the free.

*

They look up with their pale and sunken faces,

And their look is dread to see,
For you

think you see their angels in their places,
With eyes meant for Deity;
“How long,' they say, 'how long, O cruel nation,

Will you stand, to move the world, on a child's heart,
Stifle down with a mailed heel its palpitation,

And tread onward to your throne amid the mart?
Our blood splashes upwards, 0 our tyrants,

And your purple shows your path :
But the child's sob curseth deeper in the silence

Than the strong man in his wrath !"" I am loth to leave so stern a strain of impassioned verse the last in your minds: she speaks with as genuine, but a gentler, voice of poetic power in the lines entitled “ Patience Taught by Nature:”

“O dreary life ! we cry, 'O dreary life!'
And still the generations of the birds
Sing through our sighing, and the flocks and herds
Serenely live, while we are keeping strife,
With heaven's true purpose on us, as a knife
Against which we may struggle. Ocean girds,
Unslackened, the dry land: savannah swards
Unweary sweep: hills watch unworn; and rife,
Meek leaves drop yearly from the forest trees,
To show, above, the unwasted stars that pass
In their old glory. O thou God of old !
Grant me sume smaller grace than comes to these;
But so much patience, as a blade of grass
Grows by, contented through the heat and cold."*

* Mrs. E. Barrett Browning's Poems, vol. i. p. 342.

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