« PreviousContinue »
so far into the mysteries of God, and the plan of his creation,-call to mind that glorious moment when the first bold conception arose within thee, and summoned together all the faculties of thy soul to comprehend, to fashion, and to arrange it; but when all the noble harmony was completed, with what intoxicating feelings of love didst thou not review the labour of thy soul, and feel thy resemblance to that eternal Being whose sublimest conceptions had been copied by thee. Yes, my guide, even here below wisdom is rich in celestial joys; had she not been so, could we, from her bosom, have looked with such indifference on all the vanities of the world?
“ The cloud which supported us had sunk again to earth, and now it rested, as I thought, upon one of the hills in the neighbourhood of Rome. The great metropolis of the world lay before us; but, full of the deepest contempt for its glories, I stretched out my hand from my elevation and said, Let the proud inhabitants of these palaces think as they will of their own importance, because their limbs, are robed in purple, and their table loaded with gold and silver, and heaped with the luxuries of
Europe and the Indies; but the sage looks down upon these wretches as the eagle upon the silkworm enclosed within its web; for in their souls they are only prisoners who cannot abandon the leaf to which they cling; while the sage wanders on the mountains of liberty, and sees the world under his feet, or soars aloft upon the wings of contemplation, converses with the Deity, and walks amongst the stars.
“ While I was thus speaking, a serious solemnity over-clouded the countenance of my guide; his fraternal arm dropped from my shoulder, and his eye darted a threatening glance, even to the inmost recesses of my soul. “Wretch ! cried he, is it then for this end that you have tasted upon earth of these pleasures of heaven? That your name has been rendered great among the nations ? That every faculty of your soul has been exalted, in order to be exercised with more freedom and perseverance in the knowledge of truth through the ages of eternity? And now that you are thought worthy to suffer persecution ;-now that your wisdom should turn to your advantage, and your heart be as richly
adorned with virtue as your spirit has hitherto been
with knowledge,—now is every spark of gratitude extinguished, and your soul murmurs against your God ?'
“ Here I awakened from my delightful dream, saw myself cast, from all the glories of Heaven, down to my dark and solitary dungeon, and watered my couch with a flood of tears. Then through all the darkness: which surrounded me, I 'raised my eye, and spoke thus: Oh God full of love! has the Nothing which owes its existence to thee presumed to censure thy holy ways? Has the dust which received a soul from thee ascribed to the account of its own deservings what was only the gift of thy mercy ? Has the wretch whom thou hast nourished in thy bosom, and to whom thou hast given from thy own cup so many cordial drops of happiness, has he forgotten his obligations to thee? Strike immediately his eyes with blindness ; let him never again hear the voice of friendship; let him grow gray in this dismal dungeon. With a willing spirit will he submit to it, thankful for the remembrance of the pleasures that are past, and happy in the expectation of futurity.
“It was my whole soul, Viviani, which I poured forth in this prayer ; but it was not the murmur of
discontent, but the voluntary resignation of gratitude, which was heard and attended to by that God who still reserved me for so much happiness ; for do I not live here in freedom ? And has not my friend, this very day, carried me forth among the flowers of the spring ?
“ Here he felt for the hand of his scholar, in order to give it a grateful pressure ; but Viviani seized upon his, and carried it with veneration to his lips *.”
After this well imagined scene, which paints in such affecting colours the genius and character of the great Tuscan astronomer, I must beg once more to call the attention of my readers to the interview which I have described in the prior part of this paper, as having taken place between the sage of Arcetri and our immortal Milton, and to request their indulgence for the following slight attempt to commemorate it under another, and, perhaps, a more acceptable form.
* The Bee, or Literary Weekly Intelligencer, conducted by James Anderson, LL.D. vol. ix. p. 179, et seq.
The west'ring sun had shed his farewell ray
I shall close this paper, and with it the Mornings in Spring, by an attempt to complete a poem from the pen of Collins, of which only a small fragment has descended to us. The task is undoubtedly an arduous one, and in some degree a presumptuous
but I have been so much struck with the only four lines of this poem which time hath spared, as to disregard the hazard which must necessarily accompany the effort to finish a design from so great a master.
In a letter from the late laureat, Thomas War