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A review of the various contents of this serial will show how closely and carefully the Conductors have adhered to the aim and spirit of their task. The Debates continue, as we have said, to excite spirited contention, yet to evince toleration and sympathy. The Leading Papers deal as usual in a learned and thoughtful manner with subjects of high interest in philosophy, literature, history, and logic. In the Toiling Upward series of articles many hitherto unwritten biographies of men, who have fixed high aims steadily before their minds and laboured sedulously for their accomplishment, have appeared ; while those which have been rewritten have been set in a new light, and been informed with a definite purpose. The Essayist unfolds some of the best efforts of aspiring young men to the view of their compeers—they show achievement, and suggest possibilities of greater usefulness and wider fame. The Reviewer has endeavoured of late to bring before readers those books of worth that have come before him, and to make them masters of the main contents of the volumes noticed. The Topicchiefly through the indifference of our younger readers to the occupying of so small a space as can be granted them in that departmeat-has been less vigorously maintained than usual. We hope this may be rectified. Almost equally unsatisfactory is the Societies' Section, to which few secretaries indeed seem mindful to contribute. We here and again earnestly invite these gentlemen to correspond with us, especially when they can communicate some thing novel and important.
The Poetic Critique fulfils its rôle in about its average manner, but our critic speåks hopefully of the verses he has now on hand. The Eloquence of the Month supplies, in a preservable and readily accessible form, some of the best effusions of our greatest thinkers on topics of much moment. The selections are varied, and not only intrinsically valuable, but also seem capable of an admirable secondary usefulness, as supplying matter for reading and elocutionary practice. Our Collegiate Course has received a new development, and certainly presents, in an original form readily understood, not only rare, but useful knowledge. Of the Literary Notes we have little to say; they form, as far as space allows, a sort of compendious digest of the history of current literature.
The Proprietors and Condaetors, as far as their opportunities permitted, have done their utmost to instiftain the seriáloin ausefalhess, in such attractiveness as is compatible with its main aim; and in progressive interest ; nor will they slack in their efforts to keep pace with the desiras, and aspirations of the intellectual readers of the age. The work of review; .at this season, belongs not to the Conductors of this serial only; bat lo cits• readers as well. Have they improved aright the pages set before ttfem, and have they striven to increase, by a wider circulation, that from which tey have. terpoed instruction ? Above all, have they been diligent and honest, not in the půrsuite only, but in the discrimination of truth? Do they not only eagerly progress themselves but also readily
“ Pass to others what their toil hath won, And, like spent runners in the torch-race, hand Each to fresh athletes, Trath's undying brand."
ITS LAWS AND ITS LICENCES.
"I do not know what poetical is ; is it honest in deed and word ? is it a true thing?”—“As you Like it,” iii., 3.
"All things that are,” the judicious Hooker observes, " have some operation not violent or casual. That which doth assign unto each thing the kind, that which doth moderate the force and power, that which doth appoint the form and measure of working-the same we term a Law." Laws in this sense originate in the essen. tial nature of the things thought of, and imply the necessary relations between the properties and qualities of these things and their results ; they express the constant and regular order of things, and the methods according to which their energies operate. When we know the inner norm of anything we can deduce thence the character of its efficiencies. Laws pre-exist in things, and regulate all the possible forms of causation which they can exert. Everything that exists has inherent in it an efficient force, by the use of which it acts its part among the elements of the universe. These inherent powers of action, as they form the signs of the intents and purposes of the existence of each individual item in creation in its widest sense, including all mental and material nature-are regarded in philosophical language as the enactments of the Creator ; and thus by the extension of a beautiful analogy, from the higher forms of civic life, into the metaphysic of being and knowing, the principle and characteristics of existences are spoken of as giving the laws of their activity-the commands or prohibitions in regard to them to which all must attend and which all must obey. Laws inhere in and operate among
upon all things, and hence their ever-active powers. That which forms the fundamental basis or essence of any existence coerces all that comes into relationship with it to respect it more or less as a causal power, as a potential producer of phenomena; and it does so on pain of non-success, at least in the endeavour made to accomplish our aim in so far as we have been
inattentive to the properties of the existence acted upon, i. e., have neglected the laws of its activities. When we know the characteristics and the laws of things we can become possessed of a prescience of their possible effects. Hence science is essential to prescience. Now prescience is the prime element in art, or productive effectiveness: a foresight of the end aimed at, and a pre-arrangement of the means by which it is to be brought about are preliminaries of art; and these depend upon science.
Licence signifies liberty within the limits of law; an allowable or apparent departure from the letter or specific requirements of the maxims or precepts which overrule activities, combined with a conformability to the spirit or principle of the fixed rule ; or such permitted violations of the supreme laws of things as exigencies may justify, or at least show to be advisable in the circumstances. Licence is exceptional action for which leave is given, notwithstanding the existence of statute law to a contrary effect. It is a provision made to prevent the too rigid enforcement of established law; a mode of giving a possible elasticity to a system felt and known to be, in general, best, and therefore most imperative. Law operates in every normal case, and claims submission in all ordinary circumstances. Licence is only rightly available when the true intent of the law has been obeyed to the utmost limit, and when the strict observance of the law will not subserve the main and chief purpose for which that law exists, which is, the best possible effecting of right aims by proper agencies. Licence presupposes law, and admits its claim to obedient respect. The idea of licence is only possible as a correlate of law. Law is an originative and directing energy ; licence is a practical expedient for attaining an end similar to that aimed at by the law, though by a means not included in, yet recognized by the law. Hence Pope says,
“ If, where the rules not far enough extend
The heart at once, and all its end attains." It has, however, always the law as a parallel and a reference, and is only justified when the effect is superior, while tending to the same end, to that attainable by obedience to the law. Licence, therefore, in the very act of insubordination glorifies the law, and law generously condones the offence, and takes the well-intentioned scapegrace into favour. By the brilliant audacity of an otherwise reprehensible licence, Nelson gained victory at Copenhagen. Licence brought the New World within the ken of Columbus, and
revealed the secrets of the sky to Copernicus. The vital energy of moral courage led Luther to the law-breaking licence from which the glorious Reformation proceeded. The brief, stern, passionate speeches of Demosthenes are replete with instances of licence; 80 are the writings of Carlyle. Who would prefer the various energy of Sheridan to the vigorous originality of Chatham ? the smooth phrase of Stebbing to the rotund effectiveness of Macaulay ? the precision of Rogers to the lightning flashes of Keats ? or the orthodox metricism of Bowles to the inspiritment of Byron ? Froude uses licences on which Merivale dare not venture, and Grote will dare to utter speculations at which Mansel would stand aghast. Licence has its place in life as well as law, but never unless its aim be to effect the purposes of law more emphatically and completely than it could otherwise be accomplished. In any other case it is licentiousness, not licence—the former of which 18 not an inversion merely, but a perversion of the latter, for licence is the foster-child of law. Licence is only condoned, and it gets a bill of indemnification passed in its favour only, where an end is gained and an effect produced by its exercise which really harmonizes with the spirit of the law, although it violates its written letter. The poet who crowds his verses with quaintnesses and grotesquery, merely for the purpose of employing them as ornaments and attractions, bas not yet learned the true uses of poetic speech. Licence, like treason, 'must justify itself or be self-condemned.
“ Treason never prospers! What's the reason ?
Why, when it prospers, 'tis no longer treason." So licence, when it is properly employed, ceases to be licence by showing itself to have been an inevitable necessity_if the required end was to be attained by available means. He who would aptly people the regions of imagination
“ With the quick creatures of immortal rhyme" must neither wilfully nor aimlessly-unless under sanction of the bighest necessity-mar their beauty, spot their loveliness, or lessen their perfectedness from any makeshift, trouble-saving intent of his own; but should summer to entire ripeness the life he means to bring within the charmed spaces of poetic being. The true poet is never among those of whom it can be said,
“ Licence they mean when they cry ' Liberty!'”
"Like a wild lover who has found his love
Ugly, and black, and bare. Hark, how he moans!
"Life Drama," A. Smith. That is bombasting out a braggart blank verse; and the result is hideously unseemly. But the same writer's higher instincts led him to adopt more appropriate ideas and more expressive terms on other occasions, and enabled him to redeem that furioso passage by the production of this genuine example of poetic diction :
“ I'll cleave the world as a swimmer cleaves the sea,
Life Drama," A. Smith. How splendidly the alliteration in the last line is balanced ! It is delightfully managed, too, in an earlier passage of the same composition, viz., in the early lines in which this simile occurs :
“As Hero gave her trembling sighs to find
Delicious death on wet Leander's lip." The choice of the diction of poetry is in general decided by a delicate process of intellectual chemistry, in which the thoughts assimilate from the poet's vocabulary the most fitting attainable words. For the exercise of this fine exquisiteness of selection no rules can be given, but the fact of its employment may be pointed out; its effectiveness may be illustrated, and some cautions may be given regarding the abuses to which poetic diction is liable. Some knowledge of the principles upon which the choice of words is made may be acquired, and hence there will arise the possibility of guarding the operations of this instinct by the activity of the intellect. As all the instincts of man require to be educated, so also does this : the glory of man is to have all his life governed by his intellect, and all its powers exercised in accordance with the laws which are found by investigation to be best adapted to produce the best results. As a specimen of the refinement of choice to which poets attain, we may instance the two following passages, in which the words crouch and couch might have been interchanged with little loss of intelligibility; but, as will be seen at once, with a very great loss of appropriateness of emotional and imaginative suggestiveness, which are among the finer essences of poetry :Ion. Why do I creep thus stealthily along,
With thief-like steps ? Am I not armed by beaven