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deep and silent in the dark chambers of Memory, until the active power of the Imagination seizes fit image wherewith to clothe her creatures. It has been well and aptly said, that Memory keeps the colours which Imagination takes and mixes and then transforms into a fair and lovely picture.
And now that we have dispelled the idea of the disconnection between Imagination and Memory, it may fairly be asked, where is this power of the human mind to be found in its full and uncurbed vigour ? In the brain of infancy and childhood does Imagination keep its stronghold-in the childhood of nations no less than of individuals did man develop his ideas in the imagery of poetry, and by collecting natural images form the ideal of his imagination.
Take a piece of coloured glass, and look at the landscape before you: the trees are not really changed, nor has the grass lost the beauty of its verdure; but to your eye all seems changed and the glass seems to have lent its colour to each flower and each blade of grass. And so it is with imagination-she takes old fragments and, kaleidoscope-like, forms new and varied images out of them.
To turn then to the history of Imagination, and its effects on the character or religion of a nation. We need not look to find it in its native purity under the soft blue skies of sunny Italy, among her gallant knights or amorous poets in times long gone by; nor on the Mediterranean waters, where the pirate urges his swift caique over the dark blue southern wave; nor on the banks of the Gaudiana, where the Spanish lover, in impassioned song, celebrates the beauties of his Zayda; but travel towards the pole, and see where Imagination once held her sway, — there she dwelt among the hardy Northmen, whose blue blood still runs in our veins; among the rocky fiords and black pine forests of Scandinavia; among the wave-lashed rocks and boiling eddies, where the Vikings of old chased the walrus or pierced with their unerring darts the wild sea-mew,—there, where eight hundred years ago, as nightly the wassail bowl went round and heroes drank - Skoal to the Northland,” the northern sagamen chaunted forth their songs of Odin Allfather and Thor, or told how the Norsemen speared the otter, how the Vikings scoured the sea.
What a land of savage grandeur this old country of our forefathers, giving birth to sons after her own kind! From Iceland to Archangel, from the pole to the shores of Denmark, did these hardy sons of Odin roam, scaring the wolf-cub, chasing the wild deer, singing of gods and of heroes. From earliest infancy could the Norseman remember how yearly he saw the black tempests roll their vast armies of sleet and snow over land and sea, how as a little child he looked with feelings of almost religious awe at the snow-jokuls and the roaring torrents, at the dark pine forests, and the still darker rocks rising like giants out of the sea; and how when the summer came, and the sun shone brightly in the sky, his infant thought opened itself with joy and wonder on this orb of beauteous light. It is curious to mark how man from the earliest ages
of the world has ever had an inward craving after some object of veneration, something which he can worship and adore, something which he may call his god. The simple Norseman shared this feeling with the rest of mankind; he craved for something, he knew not what, and then the undying powers of his imagination came to his aid and gave him what he wished. The visible workings of nature
which from a child he could remember, the wild landscape which nature had clothed in her grandest and most savage garb, supplied materials out of which Imagination formed his gods; he looked up in the summer time and saw the sun standing radiant in the heavens—it was the fairest thing his eye had ever seen, and then came the long and dreary winter, when the north east wind
Through the black fir-forest
Thundered harsh and dry,
Of the curdled sky.
But the sun shone only on the tablet of the Norseman's memory, and all through that long winter his spirit longed earnestly for some beautiful form to praise and worship:
were his wishes vain. To the treasure-house of Memory Imagination bent her steps, and there she found a sun white and glistening and giving life to all nature; she took it and from it she raised an image, the Norseman's ideal of all that was benignant and beautiful. The Vikings loved and worshipped him, and called him Balder the White God, the Beautiful, and their Sagamen sang thus :
But man is not master of his thoughts. Themistocles, historians tell us, wished much for the art of forgetfulness, since it was in vain that he struggled to suppress the wild
phantoms of misery that kept rising in his imagination: so, too, the Norseman could not help remembering that he had seen the dark and hostile powers of nature, as well as her fairer forms: he had endured the perils of the seatempest, he had seen the thunder cloud burst, and with its fiery offspring lay low perhaps some friend he loved; he had seen death coming in a thousand different shapes, and he would try in vain to banish these from his memory. Monstrous forms of demons would struggle up to his thoughts; the imagination described them clearly to his inind's eye; he heard the thunder, and saw the lightning ; the angry gathering of the clouds was the drawing down of the god's angry brows; the lightning was a dart hurled from his mighty hand, the thunder-peal was the utterance of his wrath: and this mighty power the Norseman formed into a god, and called him Thor. And then the Norseman thought of the sea-tempest, and Imagination framed an angry giant breathing out the winds in his fury, and him he called “ Aegir:” and last of these hideous creatures of the Imagination came Hela, the god of death. To trace the history of Imagination through all its different stages, would be a long and needless task, and one to which such a pen as mine could do no justice; it would be to narrate the history of every nation in its infancy, to spin out volumes on the songs of troubadours, or the ballads of Scotland, -in a word, to tell of all that every poet ever wrote. In conclusion, I cannot but hope that that mighty faculty which, in the minds of our simple Northern forefathers, called up forms which they worshipped as their gods, may find a place in the choicest sons of England in this nineteenth century; that the art which Homer, Dante, and Shakespeare have shown to the world in its fairest attire, may never die so long as England remains free, and so long as her children retain that undegenerate spirit, which has won the respect, and claimed the admiration of the world.
Is there so small a range
E. G. G.
Would that I could utter
Burning words and strong,
Find relief in song!
Back where thou should'st be !
All in all to me!