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pieces whatever is delivered to him from the loom, that he may afterwards sew it together again. The poet therefore, we may be told, adds nothing to the stock of ideas and conceptions already laid up
in the storehouse of mind. But the man who is employed upon the secrets of nature, is eternally in progress; day after day he delivers in to the
magazine of materials for thinking and acting, what was not there before ; he increases the stock, upon which human ingenuity and the arts of life are destined to operate. He does not, as the poet may be affirmed by his censurers to do, travel for ever in a circle, but continues to hasten towards a goal, while at every interval we may mark how much further he has proceeded from the point at which his race began.
Much may be said in answer to this, and in vindication and honour of the poet and the artist. All that is here alleged to their disadvantage, is in reality little better than a sophism. The consideration of the articles he makes use of, does not in sound estimate detract from the glories of which he is the artificer. Materiem superat opus. He changes the nature of what he handles; all that he touches is turned into gold. The manufacture he delivers to us is so new, that the thing it previously was, is no longer recognisable. The impression that he makes upon the imagination and the heart, the impulses that he communicates to the understanding and the moral feeling, are all his own ; and, “if there is any thing lovely and of good report, if there is any virtue and any praise,” he may well claim our applauses and our thankfulness for what he has effected. • There is a still further advantage that belongs to the poet and the votarist of polite literature, which ought to be mentioned, as strongly calculated to repress the arrogance of the men of science, and the supercilious contempt they are apt to express for those who are engrossed by the pursuits of imagination and taste. They are for ever talking of the reality and progressiveness of their pursuits, and telling us that every step they take is a point gained, and gained for the latest posterity, while the poet merely suits himself to the taste of the men among whom he lives, writes up to the fashion of the day, and, as our manners turn, is sure to be swept away to the gulph of oblivion. But how does the matter really stand ? It is to a great degree the very reverse of this.
The natural and experimental philosopher has nothing sacred and indestructible in the language and form in which he delivers truths. New discoveries and experiments come, and his individual terms and phrases and theories perish. One race of natural philosophers does but prepare the way for another race, which is to succeed. They “blow the trumpet, and give out the play.” And they must be contented to perish before the brighter knowledge, of which their efforts were but the barbingers. The Ptolemaic system gave way to Tycho Brahe, and his to that of Copernicus. The vortices of Descartes perished before the discoveries of Newton; and the philosophy of Newton already begins to grow old, and is found to have weak and decaying parts mixed with those which are immortal and divine. In the science of mind Aristotle and Plato are set aside ; the depth of Malebranche, and the patient investigation of Locke have had their day; more penetrating, and concise, and lynxeyed reasoners of our own country have succeeded; the German metaphysicians seem to have thrust these aside ; and it perhaps needs no great degree of sagacity to foresee, that Kant and Fichté will at last fare no better than those that went before them.
But the poet is immortal. The verses of Homer are of workmanship no less divine, than the armour of his own Achilles. His poems are as fresh and consummate to us now, as they were to the Greeks, when the old man of Chios wandered in person through the different cities, rehearsing his rhapsodies to the accompaniment of his lute. The language and the thoughts of the poet are inextricably woven together; and the first is no more exposed to decay and to perish than the last. Presumptuous innovators have attempted to modernise Chaucer, and Spenser, and other authors, whose style was supposed to have grown obsolete. But true taste cannot endure the impious mockery. The very words that occurred to these men, when the God descended, and a fire from heaven tingled in all their veins, are sacred, are part of themselves ; and you may as well attempt to preserve the man when you have deprived him of all his members, as think to preserve the poet when you have taken away the words that he spoke. No part of his glorious effusions must perish ; and “the hairs of his head are all numbered.”
OF SELF-LOVE AND BENEVOLENCE.
No question has more memorably exercised the ingenuity of men who have speculated upon the structure of the human mind, than that of the motives by which we are actuated in our intercourse with our fellow-creatures. The dictates of a plain and unsophisticated understanding on the subject are manifest; and they have been asserted in the broadest way by the authors of religion, the reformers of mankind, and all persons who have been penetrated with zeal and enthusiasm for the true interests of the race to which they belong.
“The end of the commandment,” say the authors of the New Testament, “is love." - This is the great commandment of the law, Thou shalt love thy maker with all thy heart ; and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” “ Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing.” “For none of us liveth to himself; and no man dieth to himself.”
The sentiments of the ancient Greeks and Romans, for so many centuries as their institutions retained their original purity, were cast in a mould of a similar nature. A Spartan was seldom alone ;