Imágenes de páginas

in a lofty comparison of the planet Mars looking through morning vapours; the reader will see with what (Pur., Canto II. v. 10). Dante and his guide Virgil have just left the infernal regions, and are lingering on a solitary sea-shore in Purgatory; which reminds us of that still and far-thoughted verse

“Lone sitting by the shores of old romance.”

But to our

English-like Italian :

“Noi eravam lungh'esso 'l mare ancora," &c.

That solitary shore we still kept on,

Like men who, musing on their journey, stay,

At rest in body, yet in heart are gone :
When lo! as, at the early dawn of day,

Red Mars looks deepening through the foggy heat,

Down in the west, far o'er the watery way ;
So did mine eyes behold (so may they yet)

A light, which came so swiftly o'er the sea

That never wing with such a fervour beat.
I did but turn to ask what it might be

Of my sage leader, when its orb had got

More large meanwhile, and came more gloriously:
And by degrees I saw, I knew not what

Of white about it ; and beneath the white

Another. My great master utter'd not
One word till those first-issuing candours bright

Fann'd into wings; but soon as he had found

Who was the mighty voyager now in sight,
He cried aloud, “Down, down, upon the ground !

It is God's Angel." *

* These are the famous terzetti cr triplets of the Italians, which are linked together like a chain; the fresh rhyme in the middle of every stanza being connected with the first and last lines of the next. We think we recollect that Mr Hayley has given a specimen of a translation of Dante in the original measure. If not, the present one is perhaps the first that has appeared in the language ; which we mention, of course, as a mere curiosity.



MAGINATION, though no mean thing, is not a proud one.

If it looks down from its wings upon common places, it

only the more perceives the vastness of the region about it. The infinity into which its flight carries it, inight indeed throw back upon it a too great sense of insignificance, did not Beauty or Moral Justice, with its equal eye, look through that blank aspect of power, and reassure it ; showing it that there is a power as much above power itself, as the thought that reaches to all is to the hand that can touch only thus far.

But we do not wish to get into this tempting region of speculation just now. We only intend to show a particular instance, in which imagination instinctively displays its natural humility: we mean, in the fondness which imaginative times and people have shown for what is personally remote from them ; for what is opposed to their own individual consciousness, even in range of space,

in farness of situation. There is no surer mark of a vain people than their treating other nations with contempt, especially those of whom they know least. It is better to verify the proverb, and take everything unknown for magnificent, rather than predetermine it to be worthless. The gain is greater. The instinct is more judicious. When we mention the French as an instance, we do not mean to be invidious. Most nations have their good as well as bad features; and in “ Vanity Fair” there are many booths.

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The French, not iong ago, praised one of their neighbours so highly, that the latter is suspected to have lost as much modesty as the former gained by it. But they did this as a set-off against their own despots and bigots. When they again became the greatest power in Europe, they had a relapse of their old egotism. The French, though an amiable and intelligent people, are not an imaginative one. The greatest height they go is in a balloon. They get no farther than France, let them go where they will. They run the great circle and are still at home,” like the squirrel in his rolling cage. Instead of going to Nature in their poetry, they would make her come to them, and dress herself at their last new toilet. In practical philosophy and metaphysics, they divest themselves of gross prejudices, and then think they are in as graceful a state of nakedness as Adam and Eve.

At the time when the French had this fit upon them of praising the English (which was nevertheless the honester one of the two), they took to praising the Chinese for numberless unknown qualities. This seems a contradiction to the near-sightedness we speak of: but the reason they praised them was, that the Chinese had the merit of unbounded religious toleration ; a great and extraordinary one, certainly, and not the less so for having been, to all appearance, the work of one man. All the romance of China, such as it was,-anything in which they differed from the French,—their dress, their porcelain towers, their Great Wall, -was nothing. It was the particular agreement with the philosophers.

It happened, curiously enough, that they could not have selected for their panegyric a nation apparently more contemptuous of others; or at least more self-satisfied and unimaginative. The Chinese are cunning and ingenious, and have a great talent at bowing out ambassadors who come to visit them. But it is somewhat inconsistent with what appears to be their general character that they should pay strangers even this equivocal compliment ; for, under a prodigious mask of polite

ness, they are not slow to evince their contempt of other nations whenever any comparison is insinuated with the subjects of the Brother of the Sun and Moon. The knowledge they respect in us most is that of gun-making, and of the East Indian passage. When our countrymen showed them a map of the earth, they inquired for China ; and, on finding that it only made a little piece in a corner, could not contain their derision. They thought that it was the main territory in the middle,-the apple of the world's eye.

On the other hand, the most imaginative nations, in their highest times, have had a respect for remote countries. It is a mistake to suppose that the ancient term “barbarian,” applied to foreigners, suggested the meaning we are apt to give it. It may have gathered some such insolence with it among the Romans, as they spread their own barbarous power; but the more intellectual Greeks venerated the countries from which they brought the elements of their mythology and philosophy. The philosopher travelled into Egypt, like a son to see his father. The merchant heard in Phænicia the far-brought stories of other realms, which he told to his delighted countrymen. It is supposed that the mortal part of Mentor, in the " Odyssey," was drawn from one of these voyagers. When Anacharsis, the Scythian, was reproached with his native place by an unworthy Greek, he said, “My country may be a shame to me, but you are a shame to your country.” Greece had a lofty notion of the Persians and the Great King, till Xerxes came over to teach it better, and betrayed the softness of their skulls.

It was the same with the Arabians, at the time when they had the chief accomplishments of the world to themselves; as we see by their delightful tales. Everything shines with them in the distance, like a sunset. What an amiable people are their Persians ! What a wonderful place is the island of Serendib! You would think nothing could be finer than the Caliph's city of Bagdad, till you hear of Grand Cairo; and how has that epithet and that name towered in the imagination of

all those who have not had the misfortune to see the modern city! Sindbad was respected, like Ulysses, because he had seen so many adventures and nations. So was Aboulfaouris, the great voyager in the “ Persian Tales.” His very name sounds like a wonder.

With many a tempest had his bcard been shaken." It was one of the workings of the great Alfred's mind, to know about far distant countries. There is a translation by him of a book of geography; and he even employed people to travel,a great stretch of intellectual munificence for those times. About the same period, Haroun al Raschid (whom our manhood is startled to find almost a less real person than we thought him, for his very reality) wrote a letter to the Emperor of the West, Charlemagne. Here is Arabian and Italian romance shaking hands in person ! The Crusades pierced into a new world of remoteness.

We do not know whether those were much benefited who took part in them; but for the imaginative persons remaining at home, the idea of going to Palestine must have been like travelling into a supernatural world. When the campaign itself had a good effect, it must have been of a very fine and highly-tempered description. Chaucer's Knight had been

“ Sometime with the lord of Palatie

Agen another hethen in Turkie:
And evermore he had a sovereign price ;
And though that he was worthy, he was wise,
And of his port as meek as is a mayde."

How like a return from the moon must have been the reappearance of such travellers as Sir John Mandeville, Marco Polo, and William de Rubruquis, with their news of Prester John, the Great Mogul, and the Great Cham of Tartary! The longlost voyager must have been like a person consecrated in all the quarters of heaven. His staff and his beard must have looked like relics of his former self. The Venetians, who were some of the earliest European travellers, have been remarked, among

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