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A NEW SELECTION FROM THE ENGLISH POETS
FROM SPENSER TO SHELLEY.
WITH SHORT LITERARY NOTICES.
HOWARD WILLIAMS, M.A.
How charming is Divine philosophy!
Not harsh and crabbed, as dull fools suppose,
But musical as is Apollo's lute,
And a perpetual feast of nectar'd sweets.'
Ir to please is the peculiar and primary object of poetry, to instruct ought to be scarcely less the office of the divine art. The specious but imaginary idea of Plato of the intimate connection between corporeal beauty and mental excellence, so charmingly expressed by Spenser
So every spirit as it is most pure,
And hath in it the more of heavenly light,
To habit in, and it more fairly dight
For of the soul the body form doth take,
is applicable to the intimate union that ought to exist between the beautiful and the true in poetry. Yet the world in general seems to hold that mere sentimental pleasure is, and ought to be, the sole end and purpose of the poetic art; that truth and instruction are quite beyond its legitimate province. That it is not the proper purpose of poetry to be didactic in the sense of teaching theological dogma, or the facts of natural science, or, even of displaying the interesting enquiries of metaphysical speculation, may be readily admitted. But if it is meant, as it seems to be by most people,