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"There's brass on the target of barken'd bull-hide;
Come, fill up my cup, &c.
Come, fill up my cup; come, fill up my can;
It is curious to observe how, when beneath their enormous load Scott's mind began to fail, his memory clung to the ancient minstrelsy, although it lost its hold of some of his own compositions. On hearing the verses from "The Pirate," set to music,
"Farewell! farewell! The voice you hear
Its next must join the seaward cheer,
And shout among the shouting crew! "—
he said, "Capital words! Whose are they? Byron's, I suppose." But, on visiting the ruined castle of Douglas, he repeated his favourite of the old ballads,—“ The Battle of Otterburne;" and the closing stanza left him in tears :
"My wound is deep; I fain would sleep;
That grows on yonder lily lee.'
About the dawning of the day:
Earl Douglas was buried by the bracken-bush,
And the Percy led captive away."
A more striking proof of the tenacity to the strains which had been familiarized to his ear in childhood occurred on his hopeless pilgrimage to Italy. There were pointed out to him the Lake of Avernus, the Temple of Apollo, the Lucrine Lake, Baiæ, Misenum, and the surrounding monuments: and what was the reply? The fragment of a Jacobite ditty. "I found," says his companion, "that something in the place
PILGRIMAGE TO ITALY.
had inspired recollections of his own beloved country and the Stuarts; for he immediately repeated, with a grave tone and with great emphasis,―
'Up the craggy mountain and down the mossy glen,
I could not help smiling at this strange commentary on my dissertation on the Lake of Avernus."
There are many traits of Scott's character as a man,—especially in his calamitous years, many as a writer, the notice of which does not belong to this course of lectures. It is, however, not inappropriate that the existence of the last and the greatest of the Border Minstrels closed in the centre of that region which his genius has peopled with spiritual creations, and not far away from that spot where his young imagination was early fed with the traditions of Scottish song.
ADVANTAGE OF CONNECTING CRITICAL WITH HISTORICAL CONSIDERATIONS-SPEN-
N tracing the progress of English poetry from its early eras, I have
considerations as to give, I trust, some assistance in forming an idea of the intellectual and moral altitude of each of the illustrious poets whose characters we have been contemplating. This has been attempted under a conviction that it was part of the duty which is resting upon me; for I regarded the process as well nigh essential to a true appreciation of the genius of the poets. How, for instance, could there be a just, or at least an adequate, sense of the glory of that matchless allegory, "The Fairy Queen,” if the student were not drawn to some knowledge of the age in which Spenser flourished ?-if I may apply such a word to Extraneous as history a life closing early and in neglect and sorrow. is to literature, it is the framework which is important to give due effect to the portraiture of men who have earned distinction in the annals of letters. It is thus that the proportions and colours are better realized Fancy, for one moment, some one perusing the wonderful poem just alluded to,that majestic fragment of Spenser's imagination; fancy it read with some confused and false notion that it was a production of the times of Charles II.,-that detested and opprobrious period of English history, which all the language of loathing I could heap upon it was not strong enough to stigmatize: and what a feeling of incongruity would come over the reader as he found himself following the spotless moral poet through the limitless land of Fairy! The poet, thus ignorantly misplaced, would seem as if he had alighted upon the wrong planet.
SPIRIT OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION.
But when you appropriate Spenser to his own age,-that thoughtful and adventurous age, philosophical and chivalrous, of whose representative men it might be said, as it was said of one of them, that they were so contemplative you could not believe them active, and so active you could not believe them contemplative :-place the poet, I say, in that age, and how true, how natural, is his position, and what a light is reflected on the character of his inspirations! Or, again, how almost inexplicable would be the production of the "Paradise Lost" in a generation unworthy of it, did we not consider the mighty ordeal through which Milton's mind had been passing in the times of the Commonwealth and the Protectorate! and how inadequately would the reader judge of the poetry of Pope, did he not remember the characteristics of those times, an age peculiarly of wits and freethinkers! Poetic inspiration is, indeed, one light, for it is light derived from heaven; but, like the starlight, it has its many magnitudes, its various phases in the cloudless ether or in the haze of the horizon.
"The stars preeminent in magnitude,
And they that from the zenith dart their beams,
Visible though they be to half the earth,
Though half a sphere be conscious of their brightness,
No purer essence, than the one that burns
Of some dark mountain, or than those which seem
All are the undying offspring of one Sire."
It has been my aim to show the poetry of each age shining in its own region of time and its own atmosphere; but, on bringing the course down to what may be considered contemporary literature, there is less occasion for historical illustration. One influence, however, requires to be noticed. I refer to the general agitation of Europe consequent to the French Revolution. The closing years of the last century were years of change. Things which had endured for ages were perishing, not by slow gradations of decay, but by quick and unlooked-for violence. Timehonoured institutions were not suffered to attain the limit of their natural existence and then to sink under the gradual accumulation of years, but were swiftly swept away by a new force. The clenched hand of prescriptive tyranny was forced to quit its grasp; and, more than that, if it had been the fond traditional belief of other generations that "Not all the water in the rough rude sea
Can wash the balm from an anointed king,"
it was found that the outpoured blood from the severed neck of an anointed king could wash the balm from off his brow. The people in one of the central monarchies of Europe had suddenly started up, and, casting away respect to grey-haired prerogative, boldly questioned the authority of the power which so long had trampled on them. Men began to ask why the bounties of heaven should be accumulated, reserved, and wasted for the bloated and ingrate luxury of the few, while the many were pining, hungry and heart-stricken. The sympathies of Christendom were enlisted the pulse of other nations began to beat quicker. The French Revolution assumed the aspect of a general European revolution. Ancient opinions and rules of life were abandoned, and new modes of thought and feeling began to predominate. The political revolution became an intellectual and moral one; for so entire was the subversion of old institutions, that in reconstructing society men were of necessity led to speculate on its very elements and on the principles and destiny of human nature, speculations which, from a revolutionary forsaking of the old paths, unhappily fostered a self-sufficient and faithless philosophy. And here let me notice where seems to me to lie the important difference between the French Revolution and the great British and American Revolutions, besides the difference in the genius and temperament of the two nations. In the latter the struggle was to vindicate and secure old principles; to guard the Constitution; not to manufacture new schemes of government; to save the good old cause, as it was styled. In the American Revolution, for instance, the war was in truth a mighty constitutional dispute. It was a question of law; and the claim of our fathers was simply for old British rights, rights as ancient as the Great Charter; and it was this that made them so strong, so consistent, so indomitable. They were seeking nothing new-at first, not even independence, which was not aspired to till it became an indispensable means for the security of their end,-civic freedom. Indeed, the mothercountry had thrust her children away from her, and, ridding herself of a parent's responsibility, had given them many of the privileges of manhood. When afterwards she wished to call them back again to her lap, they were too stout to come there, and they claimed to be British men, entitled to ancient British rights. The Revolution was characterized by the composure of men acting with a consciousness of having the right with them. How free from all excess and licentiousness! how pure, in the memory of after-times, alike from reproach and regret! It was a strife actuated and impregnated with a spirit of magnanimity,—a sense of duty and law—of religious responsibility. I speak of the American Revolution only for the sake of the contrast with that of France, which