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desire for fame does not take the place of higher motives, and so become at length the ruling principle of action. I do not say that the love of fame may not blend in some degree with other motives, for it seems a part of our nature and must not therefore be wholly crushed out; but I do say that the passion requires to be watched and jealously guarded. "What shadows we are, and what shadows we pursue !" exclaimed Burke. One of the most misty of all these shadows is fame. If man himself be but the "dream of a shadow "-man's fame cannot, Jeremy Taylor would say, be "substantial enough to make a cloud."
HARTLEY. This rings like true metal, and one cannot well prove it counterfeit. Yet in healthy moments, when mind and body are in good working order, and mere existence is a joy and luxury, fame, like fortune, seems worthy of a struggle, and not altogether such a vapour as we deem it in gloomy hours.
66 Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet and blossom in their dust."
That is the kind of fragrance we should seek to leave behind us; but it is a fragrance which can be expressed from a great variety of blossoms, and the sweetest, rarest, and most enduring may be bequeathed in the form of poetry.
TALBOT. Apart from fame, and apart even from the great power for good wielded by the poet, poetry is, as Coleridge acknowledged in his own case, "an exceeding great reward." Cowper bears a like testimony. "I call
it," he says, a comfort of life; it is so to others, but to myself it is become even a necessary." It kept him steadily and quietly employed, and was doubtless beneficial to his mental health. "I am the busiest man," he once wrote, "that ever lived sequestered as I do, and am never idle. My days accordingly roll away with a most tremendous rapidity."
To the sorrows of all men, God adds some drops of consolation. Cowper, when all other comfort was withdrawn, found a gentle alleviation of his woe in the pleasure of poetic pains. The law of compensation, the working of which can in some instances be clearly discerned, is not altogether hidden from us in the case of Cowper. I will read you an illustrative passage from Southey's life of the poet, which is as true in the thought it conveys as it is faultless in expression:
Cowper had his own affliction, and that was of the heaviest kind; but from the ordinary cares and sorrows of life no man was ever more completely exempted. All his connections were prosperous. Mr. Unwin was the only friend whose longer life must have appeared desirable, of whom death bereaved him. From the time when in the prime of manhood he was rendered helpless, he was provided for by others; that Providence, which feeds the ravens, raised up one person after another to minister unto him. Mrs. Unwin was to him as a mother; Lady Hesketh as a sister; and when he lost in Unwin one who had been to him as a brother, young men, as has already been seen in the instance of Rose, supplied that loss with almost filial affection. Sad as his story is, it is not altogether mournful: he had never to complain of injustice, nor of injuries, nor even of neglect. Man had no part in bringing on his calamity; and to that very calamity which made him 'leave the herd' like 'a stricken deer,' it was owing that the
genius which has consecrated his name, which has made him the most popular poet of his age, and secures that popularity from fading away, was developed in retirement; it would have been blighted had he continued in the course for which he was trained up. He would not have found the way to fame, unless he had missed the way to fortune. He might have been happier in his generation; but he could never have been so useful; with that generation his memory would have passed away, and he would have slept with his fathers, instead of living with those who are the glory of their country, and the benefactors of their kind."
It is pleasant to read the honest praise awarded by one poet to the genius of another. In some respects Southey could not fully understand the character of Cowper. In later life, and under the softening influence of sorrow, which served to draw out his own religious character, he would have comprehended it more readily. If, however, I sometimes differ from Southey in his remarks on the character of the poet, I am amused by observing how completely these remarks are refuted by the very facts which he brings forward to confirm them. Southey is the most honest of biographers.
HARTLEY. Let poetry and the poets sleep for to-night. It is the hour for supper, the pleasantest of all meals, but one which even in the country is fast becoming obsolete.
STANLEY. Medical men who agree on no other point are, with scarcely an exception, sworn foes to supper; but, to my thinking, a seven o'clock dinner, which is sure to be the heaviest meal of the day, is more hurtful than a light supper, especially if it be enlivened by talk and spiced by wit.
The former we can have at all times, and
if the wit come it shall be welcome. In wise: any
"No simple word,
That shall be utter'd at our mirthful board,
Verse sweetens toil, how rude soe'er the sound-
It seems strange to me, while writing this simple record of our vacation-readings, to think how all that passed besides during the happy hours of that bright, warm summer time is treasured up in my memory, and how peacefully it nestles there among those fair pictures of the past, which serve to link that past to the present and future, and to give harmony and colour to life. For every casual action, enjoyment, or sorrow has, not only its present influence on the mind, but also affects us for good or ill in the years that follow,-partly through the aid of memory, and partly through some hidden power which we
feel but cannot discern.
Again, it sometimes seems strange to me that the fear of digression and a certain sense of critical propriety should forbid my making more than an occasional allusion to the joyous out-of-door life we led for so many weeks at Lynton-to the long rambles on foot or on horseback; to the dreamy boatings, and still more dreamy hours on the hills or by the stream-side; to the excursions by coach or steamer to other parts of that glorious coast-to Ilfracombe, to Clovelly-the most curious and romantic of