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Thou wert bright, I loved thee
True, and I revered ;
Brave, or I had scorned thee;
Kind, or I had feared. Friendship grew to folly, Fancy wandered free, And I placed an idol
Where a God should be.
And my faith sustained me,
And my thoughts were high,
my little Babel
Staggered to the sky. Yes! I would not linger
Longer on the verge, Now I was no drift-wood On an aimless surge! Why creep slowly onward Now that I could run, Two could strike together Better far than one!
Was there not a battle?
Was there not a friend?
Gleaming in the future
Was there not an end?
Fool I was to dream it,
Surely I should know
That the heart's best wishes
Wreak its surest woe!
Fool I was to dream it,
Have I not before! Watched an eye averted,
Waited for the door? Are not lies in this world
Stronger far than truth?
Why then on a friend estranged
So my Babel fell,
And they say idolaters
Gnaw their hearts in hell.
THE TIMES WE LIVE IN.
Continued from our last.
THE last accusation which the graceless sons of the nineteenth century brought against their mother-age, was, that the venerable relative in question was hopelessly prosaic. Paradoxical as the assertion may appear, we consider that no farther evidence is necessary to prove that it is therefore unreal. Poetry is more heavenly than prose: nearer child-hood, nearer God-head: poetry, therefore, rightly understood, is more true than its younger sister. Poetry is intolerant of shams: versifiers may be unreal; they may ape great sentiments, or use them, workman-like, as stock, and yet make soft measures, and unwittingly strike out new vistas, new gleams, which they cannot comprehend: but they will live and stir to life in proportion as they approach truth, in proportion as there is in their works nature, reality, or God. All great times have been poetic times: all true times have produced true men and deeds: the highest poetry, that of religious enthusiasm, grew up with the earnestness that cost Charles I. his throne: ages, that has invested and truth!) the age of
(shame on the false taste of later the deceiver in a dress of poetry
Elizabeth was the age of Shakespear. David used both a harp and a sling. Believe then, true Rugbeians, that poetry is truth; and above all, do not doubt that falsehood lurks in prose. The man of dollars talks and thinks prose, the slave of poverty or vice is highly unpoetical; the German philosopher dreams prose, and very sad prose too. It was in the later days of Rome, when she was tottering to her fall, rotten within, luxurious without, that her bards became silent, and her sensual children became slaves. It was in our own most unpoetical epoch, that the last Stewarts truckled to France, and our highest statesmen could not boast integrity. It is in modern America, the most prosaic country in the world, where truth is least valued, and lying and humbug reign rampant and unabashed. And we too tremble on the verge of the same depravity literary humbug, conventional humbug, ministerial humbug, reform humbug; every man trying to persuade his neighbour that they are in earnest (sure sign of the real want of the times): every man doubting in his heart, fearing that he, too, is a sham. Of all these phases of unreality the literary one is the most pitiable, the most startling, yet in many respects the most excusable; pitiable, for we pity either obtrusive folly or misdirected genius; startling, for it shows the taste of the age, and we feel that our authors are writing ad captandum; and partly excusable for the same reason, and because the sluggish masses, inaccessible by means of harmony, must be waked by the ungentle discord. We all understand a Bright, and we wish him made a peer: we all understand a Barnum, and we wish him kicked off the stage; we all understand a Gladstone, and we wish him safe in Greece; but we only half understand a Carlyle, and what we do understand
(viz., honest earnestness tainted with the humbug of the times, and clothed in a style which savours of the sham he deprecates) we pity and regret. But enough has now been said to prove or not to prove the faults inherent in our age the more pleasant task of recording its merits should be the work of abler pens than ours. To see faults in oneself is a merit, to record those faults for the benefit of our fellows is in its way a duty; to sing one's own praises is reserved for trumpeters alone. To prove in acts and not in words, that at any rate our times are tolerably free and enlightened, and therefore full of hope for the future: that there is yet an undergrowth of earnestness and honest energy in the public schools of England, where life in its first springs is true and brave, and manfully dependent; to prove that while such places as Rugby exist, there will ever be a band of workers, who hand in hand will strive for the religion, the prosperity, and the honour of their country, should be the task of every Rugbeian.
CHORUS OF WISE MEN AGAINST THE PERVERTING INFLUENCES OF BARNUM'S LECTURE.
Surely I ween of all cares
both how to amass in adamantine chest,
how to multiply it an hundredfold.
For e'en as when the husbandman, servant of Ceres, doth cast the seed of corn
into the all-receiving womb of earth:
it falling into the cold and dank couch, worn by the ceaseless fall of raindrops, softly wasteth away;
But from its death springeth a life yet more manifold, and shortly ariseth the fresh green sprout,
which, with Phoebus' rays, hardeneth its many seedlings. E'en so doth the saffron gold though it vanish for a time, yet produce children mightier than itself;
they entering into the coffers of the wealthy man,
whether true Hermes of the winged foot
did carry the swift message from Zeus,
a philosopher that is no philosopher,
and would shortly be arrived on swift steeds,
teaching the accursed soul-devouring wiles of Plutus.
Wherefore, my son, we inspired by sibyl of prophetic art,
well practised with all manliness and virtue,
thou mayest pass a happy life, and useful to mortals.