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Homer calls words winged: and the epithet is peculiarly appropriate to his; which do indeed seem to fly, so rapid and light is their motion; and which have been flying ever since over the whole of the peopled earth, and still hover and brood over many an awakening soul. Latin marches; Italian floats; French hops; English walks; German rumbles along the music of Klopstock's hexameters is not unlike the tune with which a broad-wheel waggon tries to solace itself, when crawling down a hill. But Greek flies, especially in Homer.
His meaning, or rather the meaning of his age, in assigning that attribute to words, was probably to express their power of giving wings to thoughts, whereby they fly from one breast to another. For a like reason may letters be called winged, as speeding the flight of thoughts far beyond the reach of sounds, and prolonging it for ages after the sounds have died away; so that the thoughts entrusted to them are wafted to those who are far off both in space and in time. Above all does the epithet belong to printing for, by means
of its leaden types, that which has been bred in the secret caverns of the mind, no sooner comes forth, than thousands of wings are given to it at once, and it roams abroad in a thousand bodies; each several body moreover being the exact counterpart of all the others, to a degree scarcely attained by any other process of nature or of
Των, ὥστ ̓ ὀρνίθων πετεηνῶν ἔθνεα πολλὰ,
The schoolmen have been accused of syllogizing without facts. Their accusers, those I mean who sophisticate and explain away the dictates of their consciousness, do worse: they syllogize against facts, facts not doubtful and obscure, but manifest and certain; seeing that “to feel a thing in oneself is the surest way of knowing it." South, Vol. ii. p. 236.
They who profess to give the essence of things, in most cases merely give the extract; or rather an extract, or, it may be, several, pickt out at chance or will. They repeat the blunder of the Greek dunce, who brought a brick as a sample of a house and, how many such dunces do we still find, calling on us to judge of books by like samples! At best they just tap the cask, and offer you a cup of its contents, having previously half filled the cup with water, or some other less innocent diluent.
When a man cannot walk without crutches, he would fain make believe they are stilts. Like most impostors too, he gives ear to his own lie; till, lifting up one of them in a fit of passion, to knock down a person who doubts him, he falls to
the ground. And there he has to remain sprawling: the crutch, by help of which he contrived to stand, will not enable him to rise.
What do you mean by the lords spiritual? askt Madame de Stael: are they so called because they are so spirituels? How exactly do esprit and spirituel express what the French deem the highest power and glory of the human mind! A large part of their literature is mousseux: and whatever is so soon grows flat.
Our national word and quality is sense; which may perhaps betray a tendency to materialism; but which at all events comprehends a greater body of thought, thought that has settled down and become substantiated in maxims.
Hardly any period of afterlife is so rich in vivid and rapturous enjoyment, as that when knowledge is first unfolding its magical prospects to a genial and ardent youth; when his eyes open to discern the golden network of thought wherein man has robed the naked limbs of the world, and to see all that he feels teeming and glowing within his breast, embodied in glorified and deathless forms in the living gallery of Poetry. So long as we continue under magisterial discipline and guidance, we are apt to regard our studies as a mechanical and often irksome taskwork. Our growing presumption is loth to acknowledge that we are unable to walk alone, that our minds need
leadingstrings so much longer than our bodies. But when the impatient scholar finds himself set free, with the blooming paradise of imagination and thought spread out before him, his mind, like the butterfly, by which the Greeks so aptly and characteristically typified their spirit, exulting in the beauty which it everywhere perceives, both without itself and within, and delighting to prove and exercise its newly developt faculty of admiring and loving, will hover from flower to flower, from charm to charm; and now, seeming chiefly to rejoice in its motion, and in the glancing of its bright and many-coloured wings, merely snatches a passing kiss from each, now sinks down on some chosen favorite, and loses all consciousness of sense or life in the ecstasy of its devotion.
In more advanced years, the student rather resembles the honey-seeking, honey-gathering, honey-storing bee. He estimates: he balances: he compares. He picks out what seems best to him from the banquet lying before him and even this he has to season to his own palate. But at first everything attracts, everything pleases him. The simple sense, whether of action or of feeling, whatever may be their object, is sufficient. The mind roams from fancy to fancy, from truth to truth, from one world of thought to another world of thought, with an ease, rapidity, and elastic power, like that with which it has been imagined that the soul, when freed from the
body, will wander from star to star. Nay, even after the wild landscape, through which youth strayed at will, has been laid out into fields and gardens, and enclosed with fences and hedges, after the footsteps, which had bounded over the flowerstrewn grass, have been circumscribed within trim gravel walks, the vision of its former happiness will still at times float before the mind in its dreams. Unless it has been bent down and hardened by the opposition it has had to struggle with, it will still retain a dim vivifying hope, although it may not venture to shape that hope into words, that it may again one day behold a similar harmonious universe bursting forth from the jarring and fragmentary chaos of hollow realities,-that in its own place and station it may, as Frederic Schlegel expresses it,
Build for all arts one temple of communion,
Itself a new example of their union ;—
and that it may at least witness the prelude to that final consummation, when, as in the beginning, all things will again be one.
Set a company of beginners in archery shooting at a mark. Their arrows will all fly wide of it, some on one side, some on the opposite and while they are all thus far off, many a dispute will arise as to which of them has come the nearest. But in proportion as they improve in skill, their arrows will fall nearer to the mark, and to each other and when they are fixt in the target, there