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indignation; and my hands were involuntarily and convulsively clinched.
But when he came to touch on the patience, the forgiving meekness of our Saviour; when he drew to the life his blessed eyes, streaming in tears to heaven; his voice breathing to God, a soft and gentle prayer of pardon on his enemies, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do," the voice of the preacher, which had all along faltered, grew fainter, and fainter, until his utterance being entirely obstructed by the force of his feelings, he raised his handkerchief to his eyes, and burst into a loud and irrepressible flood of grief. The effect is inconceivable. The whole house resounded with the mingled groans, and sobs, and shrieks of the congregation.
It was some time before the tumult had subsided, so far as to permit him to proceed. Indeed, judging by the usual, but fallacious standard of my own weakness, I began to be very uneasy for the situation of the preacher. For I could not conceive how he would be able to let his audience down from the height to which he had wound them, without impairing the solemnity and dignity of his subject, or perhaps shocking them by the abruptness of the fall. But, no! the descent was as beautiful and sublime as the elevation had been rapid and enthusiastic.
The first sentence, with which he broke the awful silence, was a quotation from Rousseau: "Socrates died like a philosopher, but Jesus Christ, like a God."
I despair of giving you any idea of the effect produced by this short sentence, unless you could perfectly conceive the whole manner of the man, as well as the peculiar crisis in the discourse. Never before
did I completely understand what Demosthenes meant by laying such stress on delivery. You are to bring before you the venerable figure of the preacher; his blindness, constantly recalling to your recollection, old Homer, Ossian, and Milton, and associating with his performance, the melancholy grandeur of their geniuses; you are to imagine that you hear his slow, solemn, well-accented enunciation, and his voice of affecting, trembling melody: you are to remember the pitch of passion and enthusiasm to which the congregation were raised; and then, the few minutes of portentous, death-like silence which reigned throughout the house; the preacher, removing his white handkerchief from his aged face (even yet wet from the recent torrent of his tears), and slowly stretching forth the palsied hand which holds it, begins the sentence: "Socrates died like a philosopher," pausing, raising his other hand, pressing them both, clasped together, with warmth and energy to his breast, lifting his "sightless balls" to heaven, and pouring his whole soul into his tremulous voice-"but Jesus Christ-like a God!" If he had been in deed and in truth, an angel of light, the effect could scarcely have been more divine.
Intellectual Qualities of Milton.
IN speaking of the intellectual qualities of Milton, we may begin with observing, that the very splendour of his poetic fame has tended to obscure or conceal the extent of his mind, and the variety of its energies and attainments. To many he seems only a poet; when, in truth, he was a profound scholar, a man of vast compass of thought, imbued thoroughly with all ancient and modern learning, and able to master, to mould, to impregnate with his own intellectual power, his great and various acquisitions.
He had not learned the superficial doctrine of a later day, that poetry flourishes most in an uncultivated soil, and that imagination shapes its brightest visions from the mists of a superstitious age; and he had no dread of accumulating knowledge, lest it should oppress and smother his genius. He was conscious of that within him, which could quicken all knowledge, and wield it with ease and might; which could give freshness to old truths, and harmony to discordant thoughts; which could bind together, by living ties and mysterious affinities, the most remote discoveries, and rear fabrics of glory and beauty from the rude materials which other minds had collected.
Milton had that universality which marks the high
est order of intellect. Though accustomed, almost from infancy, to drink at the fountains of classical literature, he had nothing of the pedantry and fastidiousness which disdain all other draughts. His healthy mind delighted in genius, on whatever soil, or in whatever age it burst forth and poured out its fulness. He understood too well the rights, and dignity, and pride of a creative imagination, to lay on it the laws of the Greek or Roman schools. Parnassus was not to him the only holy ground of genius.
He felt that poetry was a universal presence. Great minds were everywhere his kindred. He felt the enchantment of Oriental fiction, surrendered himself to the strange creations of "Araby the Blest," and delighted still more in the romantic spirit of chivalry, and in the tales of wonder in which it was embodied. Accordingly, his poetry reminds us of the ocean, which adds to its own boundlessness contributions from all regions under heaven. Nor was it only in the department of imagination that his acquisitions were vast. He travelled over the whole field of knowledge, as far as it had then been explored..
His various philological attainments were used to put him in possession of the wisdom stored in all countries where the intellect had been cultivated. The natural philosophy, metaphysics, ethics, history, theology, and political science of his own, and former times, were familiar to him. Never was there a more unconfined mind; and we would cite Milton as a practical example of the benefits of that universal culture of intellect, which forms one distinction of our times, but which some dread, as unfriendly to original thought.
Let such remember, that mind is in its own nature diffusive. Its object is the universe, which is strictly one, or bound together by infinite connexions and correspondences; and accordingly its natural progress is from one to another field of thought: and wherever original power, creative genius exists, the mind, far from being distracted or oppressed by the variety of its acquisitions, will see more and more common bearings and hidden and beautiful analogies in all the objects of knowledge; will see mutual light shed from truth to truth; and will compel, as with a kingly power, whatever it understands, to yield some tribute of proof, or illustration, or splendour, to whatever topic it would unfold.
The Genius of Shakspeare.
In many points, Mr. Hazlitt* has acquitted himself excellently; particularly in the development of the principal characters with which Shakspeare has peopled the fancies of all English readers—but, principally, we think, in the delicate sensibility with which he has traced, and the natural eloquence with which he has pointed out, that familiarity with beautiful forms and images that eternal recurrence to what is sweet or majestic in the simple aspect of nature—that indestructible love of flowers and odours, and dews and
* This piece is from a review of "Hazlitt's Characters of Shakspeare.