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THE THREE MIGHTY.” WATCH-fires are blazing on hill and plain Till noon-day light is restored again, There are shining arms in Raphaim's vale, And bright is the glitter of clanging mail. The Philistine hath fix'd his encampment hereAfar stretch his lines of banner and spearAnd his chariots of brass are ranged side by side, And his war-steeds neigh loud in their trappings of pride. His tents are placed where the waters flow, The sun hath dried up the springs below, And Israel hath neither well nor pool, The rage of her soldiers' thirst to cool. In the cave of Adullam king David lies, Overcome with the glare of the burning skies ; And his lip is parch'd, and his tongue is dry, But none can the grateful draft supply. Though a crowned king, in that painful hour One flowing cup might have bought his power What worth in the fire of thirst could be The purple pomp of his sovereignty! But no cooling cup from river or spring To relieve his want can his servants bring, And he cries, “Are there none in my train or state, Will fetch me the water of Bethlehem gate?” Then three of his warriors, the “mighty three," The boast of the monarch's chivalry, Uprose in their strength, and their bucklers rung, As with eyes of flame on their steeds they sprung. On their steeds they sprung, and with spurs of speed Rush'd forth in the strength of a noble deed, And dash'd on the foe like a torrent-flood, Till he floated away in a tide of blood. To the right—to the left—where their blue swords shine Like autumn-corn falls the Philistine; And sweeping along with the vengeance of fate, The "mighty" rush onward to Bethlehem gate. Through a bloody gap in his shatter'd array, To Bethlehem's well they have hewn their way, Then backward they turn on the corse-cover'd plain, And charge through the foe to their monarch again. The king looks at the cup, but the crystal draught At a price too high for his want hath heen bought; They urge him to drink, but he wets not his lip, Though great is his need, he refuses to sip. But he pours it forth to Heaven's Majesty, He pours it forth to the Lord of the sky; "Tis a draught of death'tis a cup blood-stain'd'Tis a prize from man's suffering and agony gain'd. Should he taste of a cup that his “mighty three" Had obtain'd by their peril and jeopardy? Should he drink of their life ?-'Twas the thought of a king! And again he return'd to his suffering.
WRITERS OF IMAGINATION. Do we not owe much more to writers of imagination than is generally acknowledged ? This is a query which I think must be answered af. firmatively. Literature has mainly contributed to the present advanced state of civilization; and in enquiring what branches of it have more particularly tended to those refinements which spring from generous and noble feelings, it must be conceded to our poets and romancewriters. Much was gained from the ancients that produced an influence upon the character of modern nations ; but perhaps their writings operated most beneficially by exciting a love of research, and arousing genius to exertion. This idea gathers strength from the fact that the study of the ancients did little in awaking the flame of civil liberty.* They were long the inmates of cloisters and of courts, but they effccted no direct change in favour of liberal feelings. Inquisitors tortured, Popes duped, Monks cheated, and Princes trampled on mankind, but no spontaneous spirit of resistance was aroused among the people by the free circulation of the classics. They were, no doubt, an indirect cause of original thinking and the uncontroeled operations of genius, by propagating a taste for study and feeding the flame of emulation ; but, directly, they were harmless enough to be tolerated by the present Czar of Muscovy, or the feudal sovereign of Hungary himself. It will be found that their present state of literature, or at least that state in which there is the most extensively diffused taste for letters, is a pretty good criterion of the grades of the different nations of Europe in refinement. Whatever each separate class of authors may have contributed to this end, the diffusion of high and generous feelings is principally owing to writers of imagination. To them we are largely indebted for the better sentiments of the age, and
for all that by exciting the passions leads to eminence and renown. This is mainly owing to their prominent principle of keeping the mind dissatisfied with common-place things, their power of creating images superior in every respect to reality, which we admire and would fain imitate ; and the admiration they infuse for what is good and excellent, or sublime and daring. Writers on science have ameliorated the physical condition of man, enlarged his stock of information, and increased his luxuries. In devoting themselves to their own peculiar studies, they were urged on by the desire of improvement, which very desire, the moving spring of all, is increased by the dislike of standing still ; and the spirit of ambition which imaginative writers greatly assist nature in sustaining. Like the trophies of Miltiades that would not let Themistocles rest, the visions and day-dreams that haunt the mind and fill the soul with things better than the world and society afford it, by making us discontented spur us to pursue those beyond our reach, and keep us in progression.
What can some branches of literature effect towards the refinements of social life-writers on law, for example? They may enable the lawyer to improve his practice, and arrive at the cnd for which he
• The Editor begs leave to say, that he thinks his correspondent utterly at fault in his opinion respecting the influence of classical learning on the progress of liberty in the modern world.
labours—his private profit; for in spite of cant this is the sole object of the profession. For this the members drudge and dispute on both sides of a question, or on either side, just as they are hired, and their efforts, in plain fact, are alone directed to their individual advantage. There is no enthusiasm in the pursuit beyond what springs from the love of gain; and inasmuch as it is for the public good that intricate and contradictory laws should be made clear when they can be made so at all, writers on law may be merely styled useful, and nothing more. A pure legislation must depend on civilization; but this is not the lawyer's, but the statesman's calling, and emanates from public opinion expressed by its representatives, and its spirit must be governed by the variations of time and circumstances. Writers on grammar, medicine, and technical, and limited arts, contribute indirectly and remotely to refinement. The Bentleys of their age, who devote volumes to the correction of a comma, or the supposed use of an obsolete letter, are but abstractedly beneficial, inasmuch as they smooth the way to learning for the great spirits that are destined to operate good through the medium of the passions. Those writers who appeal to reason make very slow progress in imposing conviction, compared with those who operate the other way. By the alchemy of association and the power of appeal to the heart through its vivid pictures, more impression is made on mankind by one writer of imagination, than by twenty reasoners. Reason will never be any other than a regulator. The writer of imagination leads us to better objects and desires than the world exhibits to our senses, and thereby keeps alive a perpetual wish of improvement by the contemplation of what ought to exist, and the dissatisfying us with what really does.
Let us examine facts. Writers of imagination, far above all others, have been in advance of the time in which they lived. Gifted with a species of intellectual foresight, they have appeared to pour forth their effusions as if in the midst of times they were never destined to see, but in the more refined spirit of which they were fully qualified to partake. They breathed a different intellectual atmosphere from contemporaries, and were acknowledged by those of the highest refinement in their day with a respect that could only have arisen from a sense of discriminating admiration. Monarchs and courts, till late times, associated with poets and romance-writers: the court formerly being the most enlightened and refined circle in the state, the centre of knowledge and fine feeling, there was a natural affinity between them. As a portion of the people attained a higher state of mental culture, they approached the court itself, and at last equalled, and a numerous body of them surpassed, most of the individuals composing it, in cultivated intellect. Writers then naturally felt the tone of a considerable portion of the popular feeling to be most in unison with their own, and the latter became to writers of imagination what courts had been in earlier times. Part of the people having become as discerning as the individuals whom chance, interest, or caprice, may have elevated to carry on affairs of state for the monarch, where talent and intellect should have constituted the qualification—talent that, discarding prejudice, would have assimilated things to the light of the age—is one great cause of the present feverish feeling of some European nations. In Russia, for instance, where the court is among a dark people, it is still the centre of the intellectual refinement of the empire. Writers of imagination,
born with more vivid conceptions than other men, have lived in an ideal world, which the nature of human desires led them to pourtray more perfect and noble than the world of reality. This gave them more independent spirits, more lofty and romantic ideas, and also enabled them to reason; for Locke allows that it is not necessary for men to devote their lives to the study of logic to reason well. Pure thoughts and lofty principles influenced by genius, that do not suffer common prejudices to affect them, will weigh things with the greatest impartiality, and come to the most rational conclusions. In past and even in present days, how much that the world sanctions appears absurd and barbarous in the eye of genius. The judges would have burnt all the old women in England without compunction, if evidence had been tendered that they were witches, in the days of John Milton, and even for fifty years afterwards ; the poet, we may answer for it, would not have condemned one. Dante would never have made a hell for many great men of his time deemed by the multitude among the mighty and noble, had he looked upon them with the eyes of his own age. He contemplated them as not of his own time, and with the impartiality of a future and wiser generation. Vulgar minds cannot comprehend the ideas of men of genius ; they think them audacities or chimerical innovations; but they who contribute to the improvement of mankind belong but a small part of them to present time-they are the heritage of unborn ages. Honest and good men may labour in their world of realities in a circle of minute duration, be useful, industrious, and virtuous followers in a beaten track, content with what they see, and thinking the world precisely as it should be in every respect. They, however, are but the wheels of society, not the moving causes. Sir Thomas More is a remarkable instance among imaginative writers, and seems at first to constitute an exception to the foresight, if it may be so denominated, of that class. But he was bred a lawyer, and suffered the pernicious leaven of the profession to neutralize the effect of the divine spirit with which he wrote. More condemned persecution in his works as not fit for his Utopian state of society; but he practised it, from his inveterate obedience to custom, when he should have nobly resisted it from principle. - Writers of imagination, by what is wrongly called deception, more properly fiction, send us in search of better things than we already possess. · Present and limited use is not so 'much their object as to delight and allure. From the spirit of correction and improvement, which originates in the desire of possessing better things than we see around us, old and bad laws are repealed; the legislative body bows to public opinion, and changes old and absurd usages for those that are more rational and useful; the commercial restrictions of past times are removed ; a more liberal toleration is sanctioned, and a system consistent with the state of mental culture is introduced. Fixed things are injurious to that eternal desire of perfection, with which the better order of minds is imbued. We must not stand still, but we shall infallibly do so if we have no longing after idealities. Our line of action may be uniform, but, notwithstanding, we must pursue it from the expectation of overtaking what is better than we have yet come up with. "Genius is, most of it, that eternal hope ever alive in the mind, of something better than present good-the quenchless vestal fire, the soul of every thing great and noble in the world. Imaginative writers
dwell in a world of spirit, glorious in beauty and boundless in extent. Let the tale be a deception-let the poem be a fiction-let the metaphysician show his teeth at it, and the mathematician snarl and sneer, because he cannot lay down its length and breadth ; it is from this very cause its beneficial effects arise, and that it is so useful to mankind. It is because it keeps alive better things than their philosophy can teach, that its elements are so valuable. A touching ballad shall make a million friends to a virtuous object; a hundred sermons shall not pro
A“ lilibullero” shall uncrown a tyrant before a mathematician can construct a fort in which to shelter himself from his fury. The direct effects of works of the imagination sometimes seem irresistible ; and if any chance to be impugnable on the score of princi. ples-for all writers will have their imperfections, more or less--there is a property mysteriously attached to the mass of public opinion, that makes it reject what is erroneous, as it were, by the subtlest intuition, and profit by the purer portion.
Let us examine the earliest writers of imagination, and compare them with mere schoolmen,-how liberal are their views—how refined their sentiments ! Matter-of-fact men, who deal only in the tangible, are of the earth earthy: the natural is their sphere-they deal in cubes and blocks—they must see and touch, to believe. They ever gravitate to the centre: their looks are always “ downward bent,” and they enjoy no " visions beatific.” Their grovelling and heavy imaginations are unequal to mounting with the "sightless couriers of the air." They see only with “ leaden eyes that love the ground;" and if they dream, they dream by rule and compass. The eye that “ doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven," is to them the organ of a distempered brain. Where should we arrive if we considered human nature only in the mere matter-of-fact way it exhibits itself in the world -a thing of petty interests, selfish, overreaching, deceitful, infirm, and perishable?-if we always kept to the reality of the picture, and contemplated it in its naked truth?—if we could not mark out nobler destinies for it than its realities show, and fill up the defects of what is, with the images and desires of what would render existence more delightful? What a glorious light flashes on the offspring of imagination, the herald of a more perfect state of things existing somewhere! How they seem imbued with qualities of the most redeeming character! Even in the darker times, how they sparkled with native radiance ! what a contrast they formed to the bigotry, prejudice, and ignorance of ecclesiastical writers, and the plodders after the dogmas of blind scholastics ! Before philosophy glimmered, and Galileo was incarcerated by churchmen for promulgating sublime truths, too vast for the understandings of monks and cardinals, writers of imagination had forced their way for ages and satirised the crimes of consistories and the knavery of the Apostolic Churchấthus insensibly undermining the Vatican. Fiction triumphed in the cause of truth, and, opening the eyes of mankind, innovated on established order, preparing Europe for the Reformation. Boccaccio, by exposing the licentiousness of the clergy in his Decameron, contributed to this good end nearly two hundred years before Luther appeared. There seemed to be such an innate love in remote times for writers of imagination, that they fourished in spite of secular and ecclesiastical opposition, secretly applauded by the enlightened among the great, at a time when works of science