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his powers of endurance had no limits, his powers of discriminating were ever active, as his attention was ever awake: and as it required an eminent hardihood to place base coin before so scrutinising an eye, or tender light money to be weighed in such accurate scales as Sir William Grant's, so few men ventured to exercise a patience which yet all knew to be unbounded. It may, indeed, be fairly doubted whether the main force of muscular exertion, so much more clumsily applied by Sir John Leach in the same court to effect the great object of his efforts-the close compression of the debate-ever succeeded so well, or reduced the mass to as small a bulk, as the delicate hydraulic press of his illustrious predecessor did, without giving the least pain to the advocate, or in any one instance obstructing the course of calm, deliberate, and unwearied justice.
The court in those days presented a spectacle which afforded true delight to every person of sound judgment and pure taste. After a long and silent hearing-a hearing of all that could be urged by the counsel of every party-unbroken by a single word, and when the spectator of Sir William Grant (for he was not heard) might suppose that his mind had been absent from a scene in which he took no apparent share, the debate was closed-the advocate's hour was passed-the parties were in silent expectation of the event-the hall no longer resounded with any voice -it seemed as if the affair of the day, for the present, was over, and the court was to adjourn, or to call for another cause. No! The judge's time had now arrived, and another artist was to fill the scene. The great magistrate began to pronounce his judgment, and every eye and every car was at length fixed upon the bench. Forth came a strain of clear unbroken fluency, disposing alike, in most luminous order, of all the facts and of all the arguments in the cause; reducing into clear and simple arrangement the most entangled masses of broken and conflicting statement; weighing each matter, and disposing of each in succession; settling one doubt by a parenthetical remark; passing over another difficulty by a reason only more decisive than it was condensed; and giving out the whole impression of the case, in every material view, upon the judge's mind, with argument enough to show why he so thought, and to prove him right, and without so much reasoning as to make you forget that it was a judgment you were hearing, by overstepping the bounds which distinguish a judgment from a speech. This is the perfection of judicial eloquence; not avoiding argument, but confining it to such reasoning as beseems him who has rather to explain the grounds of his own conviction, than to labour at convincing others; not rejecting reference to authority, but never betokening a disposition to seek shelter behind other men's names, for what he might fear to pronounce in his own person; not disdaining even ornaments, but those of the more chastened graces that accord with the severe standard of a judge's oratory. This perfection of judicial eloquence Sir William Grant attained, and its effect upon all listeners was as certain and as powerful as its merits were incontestable and exalted.
In parliament he is unquestionably to be classed with speakers of the first order. His style was peculiar; it was that of the closest and severest reasoning ever heard in any popular assembly; reasoning which would have been reckoned close in the argumentation of the bar or the dialectics of the schools. It was, from the first to the last, throughout, pure reason, and the triumph of pure reason. All was sterling, all perfectly plain; there was no point in the diction, no illustration in the topics, no ornament of fancy in the accompaniments. The language was choice-perfectly clear, abundantly correct, quite concise, admirably suited to the matter which the words clothed and conveyed. In so far it was felicitous, no farther; nor did it ever leave behind it any impression of the diction, but only of the things said; the words were forgotten, for they had never drawn off the attention for a moment
from the things; those things were alone remembered. No speaker was more easily listened to; none so difficult to answer. Once Mr. Fox, when he was hearing him with a view to making that attempt, was irritated in a way very unwonted to his sweet temper by the conversation of some near him, even to the show of some crossness, and (after an exclamation) sharply said, "Do you think it so very pleasant a thing to have to answer a speech like that? The two memorable occasions on which this great reasoner was observed to be most injured by a reply, were in that of Mr. Wilberforce quoting Clarendon's remarks on the conduct of the judges in the Ship Money Case, when Sir William Grant had undertaken to defend his friend Lord Melville; and in that of Lord Lansdowne (then Lord Henry Petty), three years later, when the legality of the famous Orders in Council was debated. Here, however, the speech was made on one day, and the answer, able and triumphant as it was, followed on the next.
It may safely be said that a long time will elapse before there shall arise such a light to illuminate either the senate or the bench as the eminent person whose rare excellence we have just been pausing to contemplate. That excellence was no doubt limited in its sphere; there was no imagination, no vehemence, no declamation, no wit; but the sphere was the highest, and in that highest sphere its place was lofty. The understanding alone was addressed by the understanding; the faculties that distinguish our nature were those over which the oratory of Sir William Grant asserted its control. His sway over the rational and intellectual portion of mankind was that of a more powerful reason, a more vigorous intellect than theirs; a sway which no man had cause for being ashamed of admitting, because the victory was won by superior force of argument; a sway which the most dignified and exalted genius might hold without stooping from its highest pinnacle, and which some who might not deign to use inferior arts of persuasion could find no objection whatever to exercise.
Yet in this purely intellectual picture there remains to be noted a discrepancy, a want of keeping, something more than a shade. The commanding intellect, the close reasoner, who could overpower other men's understanding by the superior force of his own, was the slave of his own prejudices to such an extent, that he could see only the perils of revolution in any reformation of our institutions, and never conceived it possible that the monarchy could be safe, or that anarchy could be warded off, unless all things were maintained upon the same footing on which they stood in early, unenlightened, and inexperienced ages of the world. The signal blunder, which Bacon long ago exposed, of confounding the youth with the age of the species, was never committed by any one more glaringly than by this great reasoner. He it was who first employed the well-known phrase of "the wisdom of our ancestors;" and the menaced innovation, to stop which he applied it, was the proposal of Sir Samuel Romilly to take the step of reform, almost imperceptibly small, of subjecting men's real property to the payment of all their debts. Strange force of early prejudice of prejudice suffered to warp the intellect while yet feeble and uninformed, and which owed its origin to the very error that it embodied in its conclusions, the making the errors of mankind in their ignorant and inexperienced state the guide of their conduct at their mature age, and appealing to those errors as the wisdom of past times, when they were the unripe fruit of imperfect intellectual culture!
180.-WHAT IS A POET?
KING up the subject upon general grounds, I ask what is
WORDSWORTH. meant by the word And what language
› expected from him? He is a man speaking to men: a man, it is true,
endued with more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be common among mankind; a man pleased with his own passions and volitions, and who rejoices more than other men in the spirit of life that is in him; delighting to contemplate similar volitions and passions as manifested in the goings on of the universe, and habitually impelled to create them where he does not find them. To these qualities he has added a disposition to be affected more than other men by absent things as if they were present; an ability of conjuring up in himself passions, which are indeed far from being the same as those produced by real events, yet (especially in those parts of the general sympathy which are pleasing and delightful) do more nearly resemble the passions produced by real events, than any thing which, from the motions of their own minds merely, other men are accustomed to feel in themselves; whence, and from practice, he has acquired a greater readiness and power in expressing what he thinks and feels, and especially those thoughts and feelings which, by his own choice, or from the structure of his own mind, arise in him without immediate external excitement.
But, whatever portion of this faculty we may suppose even the greatest poet to possess, there cannot be a doubt but that the language which it will suggest to him must, in liveliness and truth, fall far short of that which is uttered by men in real life, under the actual pressure of those passions, certain shadows of which the poet thus produces, or feels to be produced, in himself.
However exalted a notion we would wish to cherish of the character of a poet, it is obvious that, while he describes and imitates passions, his situation is altogether slavish and mechanical, compared with the freedom and power of real and substantial action and suffering. So that it will be the wish of the poet to bring his feelings near to those of the persons whose feelings he describes, nay, for short spaces of time, perhaps, to let himself slip into an eutire delusion, and even confound and identify his own feelings with theirs; modifying only the language which is thus suggested to him by a consideration that he describes for a particular purpose, that of giving pleasure. Here, then, he will apply the principle on which I have so much insisted, namely, that of selection; on this he will depend for removing what would otherwise be painful or disgusting in the passion; he will feel that there is no necessity to trick out or elevate nature; and, the more industriously he applies this principle, the deeper will be his faith that no words, which his fancy or imagination can suggest, will bear to be compared with those which are the emanations of reality and truth.
But it may be said by those who do not object to the general spirit of these remarks, that, as it is impossible for the poet to produce upon all occasions language as exquisitely fitted for the passion as that which the real passion itself suggests, it is proper that he should consider himself as in the situation of a translator, who deems himself justified when he substitutes excellences of another kind for those which are unattainable by him; and endeavours occasionally to surpass his original, in order to make some amends for the general inferiority to which he feels that he must submit. But this would be to encourage idleness and unmanly despair. Further, it is the language of men who speak of what they do not understand; who talk of poetry as of a matter of amusement and idle pleasure; who will converse with us as gravely about a taste for poetry, as they express it, as if it were a thing as indifferent as a taste for rope-dancing, or Frontignac, or Sherry. Aristotle, I have been told, hath said, that poetry is the most philosophic of all writing: it is so its object is truth, not individual and local, but general, and operative; not standing upon external testimony, but carried alive into the heart by passion; truth which is its own testimony, which gives strength and divinity to the tribunal
which it appeals, and receives them from the same tribunal. Poetry is the image of man and nature. The obstacles which stand in the way of the fidelity of the biographer and historian, and of their consequent utility, are incalculably greater than those which are to be encountered by the poet who has an adequate notion of the dignity of his art. The poet writes under one restriction only, namely, that of the necessity of giving immediate pleasure to a human being possessed of that information which may be expected from him, not as a lawyer, a physician, a mariner, an astronomer, or a natural philosopher, but as a man. Except this one restriction, there is no object standing between the poet and the image of things; between this and the biographer and historian there are a thousand.
Nor let this necessity of producing immediate pleasure be considered as a degradation of the poet's art. It is far otherwise. It is an acknowledgment of the beauty of the universe, an acknowledgment the more sincere, because it is not formal, but indirect; it is a task light and easy to him who looks at the world in the spirit of love further, it is an homage paid to the native and naked dignity of man, to the grand elementary principle of pleasure, by which he knows, and feels, and lives, and moves. We have no sympathy but what is propagated by pleasure. I would not be misunderstood, but wherever we sympathise with pain it will be found that the sympathy is produced and carried on by subtle combinations with pleasure. We have no knowledge, that is, no general principles drawn from the contemplation of particular facts, but what has been built up by pleasure, and exists in us by pleasure alone. The man of science, the chemist and mathematician, whatever difficulties and disgusts they may have had to struggle with, know and feel this. However painful may be the objects with which the anatomist's knowledge is connected, he feels that his knowledge is pleasure; and where he has no pleasure he has no knowledge. What then does the poet? He considers man and the objects that surround him as acting and re-acting upon each other, so as to produce an infinite complexity of pain and pleasure; he considers man in his own nature and in his ordinary life as contemplating this with a certain quantity of immediate knowledge, with certain convictions, intuitions, and deductions, which by habit become of the nature of intuitions; he considers him as looking upon this complex scene of ideas and sensations, and finding every where objects that immediately excite in him sympathies which, from the necessities of his nature, are accompanied by an overbalance of enjoyment.
To this knowledge which all men carry about with them, and to these sympathies in which, without any other discipline than that of our daily life, we are fitted to take delight, the poet principally directs his attention. He considers man and
nature as essentially adapted to each other, and the mind of man as naturally the mirror of the fairest and most interesting qualities of nature. And thus the poet, prompted by this feeling of pleasure which accompanies him through the whole course of his studies, converses with general nature with affections akin to those which, through labour and length of time, the man of science has raised up in himself, by conversing with those parts of nature which are the objects of his studies. The knowledge both of the poet and the man of science is pleasure; but the knowledge of the one cleaves to us as a necessary part of our existence, our natural
unalienable inheritance; the other is a personal and individual acquisition, slow me to us, and by no habitual and direct sympathy connecting us with our beings. The man of science secks truth as a remote and unknown benehe cherishes and loves it in his solitude: the poet, singing a song in which nan beings join with him, rejoices in the presence of truth as our visible i and hourly companion. Poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge; the tropassioned expression which is in the countenance of all science. Empha
tically may it be said of the poet, as Shakspere hath said of man, "that he looks before and after." He is the rock of defence of human nature; an upholder and preserver, carrying every where with him relationship aud love. In spite of difference of soil and climate, of language and manners, of laws and customs, in spite of things silently gone out of mind, and things violently destroyed, the poet binds together by passion and knowledge the vast empire of human society, as it is spread over the whole earth, and over all time. The objects of the poet's thoughts are every where; though the eyes and senses of man are, it is true, his favourite guides, yet he will follow wheresoever he can find an atmosphere of sensation in which to move his wings. Poetry is the first and last of all knowledge-it is as immortal as the heart of man. If the labours of men of science should ever create any material revolution, direct or indirect, in our condition, and in the impressions which we habitually receive, the poet will sleep then no more than at present, but he will be ready to follow the steps of the man of science, not only in those general indirect effects, but he will be at his side, carrying sensation into the midst of the objects of the science itself. The remotest discoveries of the chemist, the botanist, or mineralogist, will be as proper objects of the poet's art as any upon which it can be employed, if the time should ever come when these things shall be familiar to us, and the relations under which they are contemplated by the followers of these respective sciences shall be manifestly and palpably material to us as enjoying and suffering beings. If the time should ever come when what is now called science, thus familiarised to men, shall be ready to put on, as it were, a form of flesh and blood, the poet will lend his divine spirit to aid the transfiguration, and will welcome the being thus produced as a dear and genuine inmate of the household of man. It is not, then, to be supposed that any one, who holds that sublime notion of poetry which I have attempted to convey, will break in upon the sanctity and truth of his pictures by transitory and accidental ornaments, and endeavour to excite admiration of himself by arts, the necessity of which must manifestly depend upon the assumed meanness of his subject.
Dr. J. KITTO. [ONE of the most interesting auto-biographical books, perhaps, that ever was published, whether considered in a physiological or moral point of view, appeared in the series of Knight's Weekly Volumes. It is entitled 'The Lost Senses-Deafness," and is written by Dr. Kitto, the editor of the Pictorial Bible.' The introductory chapter of this little book, part of which we subjoin, is most curious in itself, and renders any further explanation unnecessary.]
Any one who has spent a considerable time under peculiar, or at least undescribed, circumstances, must have been very unobservant if he has nothing to relate in which the public would be interested. It may be, indeed, that such person lies
under the same obligation to the public of describing his own condition, as a traveller is under to render his report respecting the unexplored countries which he has traversed in his pilgrimage. It is under this impression that I now write. I am unwilling to quit this world without leaving behind me some record of a condition of which no sufferer has yet rendered an account.
I became deaf on my father's birthday, early in the year 1817, when I had lately completed the twelfth year of my age. The commencement of this condition is too clearly connected with my circumstances in life to allow me to abstain from troubling the reader with some particulars which I should have been otherwise willing to withhold.
My father, at the expiration of his apprenticeship, was enabled, by the support