« PreviousContinue »
of knowledge, and secondly, the literature of power. The function of the first is, to teach; the function of the second is, to move: the first is a rudder, the second an oar or a sail. The first speaks to the mere discursive understanding; the second speaks ultimately, it may happen, to the higher understanding or reason, but always through affections of pleasure and sympathy. Remotely, it may travel towards an object seated in what Lord Bacon calls dry light; but proximately it does and must operate, else it ceases to be a literature of power, on and through that humid light which clothes itself in the mists and glittering iris of human passions, desires, and genial emotions. Men have so little reflected on the higher functions of literature, as to find it a paradox if one should describe it as a mean or subordinate purpose of books to give information. But this is a paradox only in the sense which makes it honorable to be paradoxical. Whenever we talk in ordinary language of seeking information or gaining knowledge, we understand the words as connected with something of absolute novelty. But it is the grandeur of all truth that can occupy a very high place in human interests, that it is never absolutely novel to the meanest of minds; it exists eternally by way of germ or latent principle in the lowest as in the highest, needing to be developed but never to be planted. To be capable of transplantation is the immediate criterion of a truth that ranges on a lower scale.” — De Quincey.
“Poetry is essentially truthfulness; and the very incoherences of poetic dreaming are but the gle and the strife to reach the True in the Unknown.”— Mrs. Browning.
“Poetry has been as serious a thing to me as life itself; and life has been a very serious thing: there has been no playing at skittles for me in either. I never mistook pleasure for the final cause of poetry; nor leisure for the hour of the poet. I have done my work, so far, as work; not as mere hand and head work apart from the personal being, but as the completest expression of that being to which I could attain, — and as work, I offer it to the public; feeling its faultiness more deeply than any of my readers, because measured from the height of my aspiration, — but feeling also that the reverence and sincerity with which the work was done, should protect it in the thoughts of the reverent and sincere." - Ibid.
“Man can never come up to his ideal standard; it is the nature of the immortal spirit to raise that standard higher and higher, as it goes from strength to strength, still upward and onward. Accordingly, the wisest and greatest men are ever the most modest.”Margaret Fuller Ossoli.
“Genius cannot be forever on the wing; it craves a home, a holy land; it carries reliquaries in its bosom; it craves cordial draughts from the goblets of other pilgrims. It is always pious, always chivalric,—the artist, like the Preux, throws down his shield to embrace the antagonist who has been able to pierce it; and the greater the genius, the more do we glow with delight at his power of feeling, need of feeling reverence, not only for the creative soul, but for its manifestation through his fellow-man.” — Ibid.
“ All high poetry is infinite; it is as the first acorn which contained all oaks potentially. Veil after veil may be withdrawn, and the inmost beauty of the meaning never exposed. A great poem is a fountain forever overflowing with the waters of wisdom and delight, and after one person, or one age, has exhausted all its divine effluence, which their peculiar relations enable them to share, another and yet another succeeds, and new relations are ever developed, the source of an unforeseen and an unconceived delight.”- Shelley.
6. The best men, doing their best,
Mrs. Browning. “Eternal blessings crown my earliest friend,
And round his dwelling guardian saints attend :
"— There was one through whom I loved her, one
Interpreter between the gods and men,
The semitone expresses complaint, pity, love, grief, plaintive supplication, and other sentiments allied to these
“When the semitone is used with quantity and tremor, the force of the expression is greatly increased. The tremulous semitonic movement may be used on a single word, the more emphatically to mark its plaintiveness of character, or it may be used in continuation through a whole sentence, when the speaker, in the ardor of distressful and tender supplication, would give utterance to the intensity of his feelings.”- Tower.
Whining is the misplaced use of the semitone, which is the language of tenderness, petition, complaint, &c., but never of manly confidence, nor the authoritative self-reliance of truth.
The Semitone generally affects a slow time and long quantity. The interjective exclamations of pain, grief, love, and compassion are prolongations of the tonic elements on this interval. But its effect is distinctly perceptible on the short time of immutable syllables.
Examples. “Here's the smell of the blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh! oh! oh!”- Lady Macbeth.
“O mighty Cæsar! Dost thou lie so low!
Antony over Cæsar's Body. “I might have saved her; now she's gone forever!
Cordelia, Cordelia, stay a little. Ha!
Lear over the Body of Cordelia.
“ Behold her there,
Now the most blessed memory of mine age.” THE GARDENER'S DAUGHTER; OR, THE PICTURES.— Tennyson. “Don't think, in my grief, I'm complaining;
I gave him, God took him; 'tis right;
Shall strengthen his comrades in fight.
Goes my prayer to the Infinite Throne,
The harvest of what he has sown !
“Tell his comrades these words of his mother:
All over the wide land to-day,
Together in agony pray.
By the blood of their children outpoured,
THE COLOR-SERGEANT.— A. D. F. Randolph.
This chaplet cast I on thy unshaped tomb;
Lest kindred woes persuade a kindred doom;
MONODY ON THE DEATH OF CHATTERTON.—Coleridge.
THE SLEEP. — Mrs. Browning.
“The iron of itself, though heat red-hot,
Arthur, in KING JOHN.
“Hubert, the utterance of a brace of tongues
“Come, Anthony, and young Octavius, come,
Cassius, in JULIUS CÆSAR.
According to Dr. Rush, when two or more syllables occur successively on the same place of radical pitch, the phrase may be called “the phrase of the Monotone."