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diffused among the peasantry a nobler spirit, until every hill became vocal, and every stream murmured in verse. To pursue the paths of peaceful industry, to live and to love became the subjects of her panegyrics.

Soon after the curtain of the nineteenth century arose, thoughtful men began to fear that, in the outburst of industrial fertility, the coming generation would consist of men whose various capacities might, in various degrees, range between the multiplication table and the ledger. But it was found that literature and art were not to languish and decline, and the sun of poetry and those stars which are the affections and aspirations of the human soul were not to pale before the gas-lamp and the crucible. It is by the affections of the human heart and by the faculty to love and to revere that nations and families live, and the true poet thrills us with these life pulses.

Thus times change. Intellect, under whatever form it is developed, is now regarded with respect; while bodily strength and commercial enterprise have suffered nothing by the change.

An immense change has taken place in the condition of the literary world within the current century, and more particularly during the last thirty years. Above all, perhaps, has its influence been observable in relation to poetry. Periodical literature is a production of this century, in all its existing phases, from quarterly reviews to penny magazines, and newspapers may even justly be accounted the growth of the same recent era-those previously published having been scarcely more than mere gazettes, recording opinions rather than bare public and business facts. Of late this field has been the outlet for the ebullitions of youthful poetic genius.

The influences of full-grown periodicalism extend

now to all who can read and write. It entices within its vortex those who exhibit an unusually fair share of early literary promise, involves them in its multitudinous and multifarious occupations, and divides and subdivides the operations of talent, until former prominent identity or great literary individuality is destroyed, both in work and workers.

Is it not the case that a literature of this description forms the very best possible evidence of the advancing civilization of recent days, and much valuable matter is through it put forth, to the lasting benefit of society?

Before we can thoroughly understand a piece of poetry we must have gained some knowledge of the ideas which are conveyed by words; we must en

deavour to learn to feel the minute distinctions of feelings conveyed by different words, and arrangements of words. Substitute gradations of light for words, and the same will apply to painting, in gazing at which we must endeavour to set aside the mere story, and give ourselves entirely up to the wonderful effect of colour and form, for only thus can the picture produce on us the effect intended by the poetpainter. Sometimes we are apt to forget, however, that beauty consists quite as much in the absence of disturbing elements as in the presence of attractive ones. The art of leaving out is important, if not everything. You have but to chip away the unnecessary pieces of a marble block and a statue remains.

Without doubt, the sense of beauty is in these days increasing in the human mind, and we are becoming more capable of seeing the beautiful and enjoying it. Indeed, with many it has become a science and a culture, with a language of its own and formulated principles. But still the beautiful for each one depends on an inner vision, or an indefinable taste of

the soul; and the deepest sense of beauty-that which makes it a possession of the spirit-grows out of that sympathy with the unseen life of the universe in which we live and move and have our being, which we call faith. The hidden Creator sustains all, shapes all, and is the reality of all. The fascination of the beauty of nature is its Divine mystery. The atmosphere through which vision sees its most subtle forms and colours is the consciousness of a Divine presence. The fulness of the earth's beauty, as much as the fulness of its produce, is the gift of God.

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Much is said by critics on the subjects of diction and movement, of truth and sensuousness. From these qualifications, no doubt, one has to be guided in seeking to find the substance and matter of the highest type of poetry. Aristotle observes that the superiority of poetry over history consists in its possessing "a higher truth and a higher sensuousness. "There can be no more useful help for discovering what poetry belongs to the class of the truly excellent, and can, therefore, do us most good," said Matthew Arnold in " Essays in Criticism" (2nd series), "than to have always in one's mind lines and expressions of the great masters, and apply them as a touchstone to the other poetry. Of course, we are not to require this other poetry to resemble them; it may be very dissimilar. But if we have any tact we shall find them, when we have lodged them well in our minds, an infallible touchstone for detecting the presence or absence of high poetic quality, and also the degree of this quality, in all other poetry which we may place beside them. If we are thoroughly penetrated by their power, we shall find we have acquired a sense enabling us, whatever poetry may be laid before us, to feel the degree in which a high poetical quality is present or wanting there. Critics give themselves great labour to draw out what, in

the abstract, constitutes the characters of a high quality of poetry. It is much better simply to have recourse to concrete examples-to take specimens of poetry of high quality, and to say :-The characters of a high quality of poetry are what is expressed there. They are far better recognised by being felt in the verse of the master than by being perused in the prose of the critic." On the other hand, it has been pertinently remarked that by the study of popular poetry, or what is written with the true air of genius in dialect form, we are brought nearer to the life of a people than, in these hurried days, we can be by travel.


A true poet must, in addition to harmony, imagination, rhyme, and rhythm, be endowed with sincerity and depth of vision," the common sense and experience of the man of the world, the keen and profound insight of the philosopher, and an intuition bordering on the prophetic. In a word, his must be the breadth of vision of one to whom it has been granted, albeit "it may not always be required of him to dwell upon the heights," at least to breathe there long enough to judge men and things from the highest standpoint of all. As was recently said by a writer in the Quarterly Review, "the poet is no photographer or shorthand writer, to give us mere scenes and speeches as they actually occurred. He sees into the life of things-and then so handles those things as to make them represent the life better than they the materials supplied by Nature-can." In every poet there are, as it were, two beings, the man who sees and thinks and feels, and the artist who provides a beautiful form for the outcome of the man. But though every poet must be both man and artist, there are many who only give just enough form to their thoughts to ensure their immortality, while there are others whose feeling for beauty and har

mony is cultivated at the expense of their humanity. Thus the poet unveils, discovers for us, ordinary mortals, truths which we could not discover for ourselves, and puts these in forms which we can apprehend when so shown to us, and which are so beautiful that we are attracted by their beauty before we appreciate their truth and goodness. For though no poetry deserves the name if it be not true and good, its primary purpose is and ought to be to give pleasure; and in giving pleasure, to awaken in us the germs of truth and goodness.

Hazlitt says "Poetry is the language of the imagination and the passions-that fine particle within us that expands, rarifies, refines, raises our whole being; without it man's life is poor as beasts." We consider such definitions, by great minds, are worthy of much consideration. Victor Hugo declares that "an idea steeped in verse becomes suddenly more incisive and more brilliant-the iron becomes steel.” "The merc study of poetry," says P. W. Darinton in his "Poetry as a Meaus of Mental and Moral Culture," "is an important element in the true education of every man," and this ought to be kept in view, not only in the training of the young, but throughout life. There is no time when the study of poetry is unsuitable or useless, just as education and instruction are actually proceeding side by side from childhood to age. Not a few there are who consider poetry as a mere means of light amusement-its only end being to give a passing gleam of pleasure. We do not deny its use as a recreation, but we hold that it has far higher and more important ends to serve. Bacon says, in his pithy, pregnant way" Poetry may justly be esteemed of a Divine nature, as it raises the mind by accommodating the images of things to our desires, and not, like history and reason, subjecting the mind to things. And by these, its charms and congruity to the mind,

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