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wonderful picture of the soul subduing and controlling the body to its own purposes) will, we believe, point to the true solution of the problem, more by the imaginative power with which the work of either is presented, than by any reasoned statement of the exact relations between them.
Lastly, we may say the same of Mr. Browning's treatment of love. Few poets have given greater prominence to the lower element in love, the purely passionate or even sensuous element. Few poets have shown themselves more conscious of the power of physical beauty in determining love, or have described it with greater energy and warmth. In his dramatic poems he seems to have a special insight into the deepest emotions whether of disappointed or of gratified passion. In Pippa Passes,' or in 'In a Gondola,' or in' Too Late,' these are depicted with a vigour and a truth which testifies to the poet's perception of the importance of the lower, or animal element in human love. And yet we will venture to say that no poet has ever risen to greater heights of spirituality in this particular sphere of his art. Love is a prominent subject in very many of his poems, and wherever the character represented will allow of it, he lifts it far above the region of mere passion, in which, nevertheless, the feeling had its rise, into the future life, in which the pure self-sacrificing love which has begun on earth will find its full development. Thus Pompilia, in the splendid burst of emotion which ends her dying monologue, dwells upon these two points, the selfsacrifice of true love, and its continuance hereafter :
* Ever with Caponsacchi ! otherwise
My weak hand in thy strong hand, strong for that!' This it is, then, that raises Mr. Browning's conception of love: he means by it not merely a moment's passion which shall sooner or later pass away, but a life of love, and his belief in the continuity of our life to all eternity gives therefore to love the highest meaning even when the obvious human bliss' which first drew two souls together has passed. So, in the beautiful stanzas, ‘By the Fireside,' the speaker recalls the moment, one and infinite,' whose product, had
he not seized it, might have been failure, as in “Dis aliter visum,' but which he did not suffer to let slip, and therefore
'I am named and known by that moment's feat :
There took my station and degree;
As nature obtained her best of me
One born to love you, sweet !' And the justification for this high estimate of the worth of that one moment is the same as Pompilia's prolongation of the work of love into the next world :
My own, see where the years conduct !
At first, 'twas something our two souls
In each now : on, the new stream rolls,
The great Word which makes all things new,
How will the change strike me and you
Your heart anticipate my heart,
See and make me see, for your part,
New depths of the divine ! Even in the unpleasant Red Cotton Night-cap Country,' we get a glimpse, amidst all the mean and horrible circumstances of the story, of the poet's own ideal of love, which is ready to sacrifice itself for the sake of raising the loved one to a higher level :
1... Friend, I do not praise her love !
That is love's grandeur. We cannot understand Mr. Browning's double treatment of love, so passionate and yet so spiritual, unless we bear in mind his similar treatment of body and soul, to both of which he assigns their due proportion in man's nature, because both are facts which must be accepted. Both elements, in the same way, exist in human love ; and the poet, whose notion of art is that it is
· "The love of loving, rage
The knower, seer, feeler, beside,' must take them as they are : Mr. Browning's superiority over other poets, who make the lower element prominent, is that
which few have been able to reach. The love which he describes would be unworthy were it only the momentary passion : as he holds it to be the eternal union of two souls, marriage as distinct from love in the common sense, he is able, speaking now for once confessedly in his own person, to show how man is dignified and exalted by it :
God be thanked, the meanest of his creatures
This to you-yourself my moon of poets !
Where I hush and bless myself with silence. . In conclusion, then, we should wish our readers to take this as the noblest characteristic of Mr. Browning's genius : this power of exalting men and man's deeds, not by idealising him, or by taking him out of the real conditions of his life, but by giving him his true dignity as an immortal being, whom God's love has placed here to grow and to prepare himself for a wider, more perfect life hereafter. We cannot fail to learn from Mr. Browning's poems a higher and nobler, because a truer, conception of mankind; for he bases his sympathy with men, and his firm belief in their great destiny, on a truth that can never alter, the truth that God is Love.
ART. IV--LECKY'S HISTORY OF ENGLAND. 1. A History of England in the Eighteenth Century. By
WILLIAM EDWARD HARTPOLE LECKY. Two Volumes, The Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland. By JOHN P.
PRENDERGAST, Barrister-at-Law. 3. The English in Ireland in the Eighteenth Century. By
JAMES ANTHONY FROUDE, M.A. Three Volumes. In undertaking to write the History of England during the last century, Mr. Lecky conceives himself to have departed so far from the system generally adopted by historians, that it becomes necessary for him to explain his own plan of composition, and the chief objects at which he has aimed. Of the principal military events, or of the incidents of party strife, 'which form so large a part of political annals,' he has proposed to himself to give a broad general view, rather than a detailed account; thinking it more important 'to disengage from the great mass of facts those which relate to the permanent forces of the nation, or which indicate the more enduring features of national life; the growth or decline of the monarchy, the aristocracy and the democracy; of the Church and Dissent; of the agricultural, the manufacturing, and the commercial interests; the increasing power of Parliament and of the people; the history of political ideas, of arts, of manners, and of beliefs ; the changes that have taken place in the social and economical condition of the people ; the influences that have modified national character,' &c.—(Pref. v.) His plan, in short, bears a strong resemblance to that which Mr. Green also has adopted in his History of the English People, and it certainly has the merit of presenting a philosophical view of history; since, though stubbornly fought battles and brilliant victories are doubtless more picturesque incidents than the passing of a new law, or the introduction of a new mode of conveyance; yet the triumphs of the conqueror do not always permanently affect either the victorious or the defeated people ; while social changes, both in themselves, and as the parents of further changes, in most cases affect future generations, and, in many instances, the subsequent condition of
icate in the perom the ccount, then a bPoliticals of Parlour
more cament percent mass king it moseneraalis, he
the people throughout all time. How little trace of influence have Creçy or Poictiers, or even St. Alban's or Tewkesbury, left on the history of either England or France. But the impeachment of Lord Latimer established a principle which to this day is regarded as one of the strongest bulwarks of the national liberties; and Caxton's printing press is the very foundation of modern civilisation in every land in which our language is spoken.
Such a plan, indeed, as Mr. Lecky's, though, if history could be written in one form alone, perhaps more valuable than one chiefly occupied by battles abroad or party strifes at home, is necessarily imperfect: it takes somewhat too slight account of those who were real heroes in their day, and of that glory, which, though often purchased at excessive cost, and sometimes achieved in a cause of doubtful justice, is still a heritage of real and imperishable value to a high-spirited nation; inculcating by example the duties of courage, loyalty, patriotism, and unselfish devotion. If in the time of Juvenal the fame of Demosthenes and Cicero prompted the school-boy to aim at oratorical excellence, we cannot doubt that many a youthful subject of Victoria is cherishing the hope of emulating the thunder of Chatham, or the close logic of Pitt or Canning; that many an ensign, as he girds on his maiden sword, many a midshipman as with faltering giddy steps he clambers to the masthead, looks forward to the day when he too may beat 40,000 men in forty minutes, like Wellington at Salamanca, or lead on his blue-jackets to do their duty to England like Nelson at Trafalgar. Our greatest historians have, therefore, combined each kind of subject in their narratives. Macaulay, in his celebrated third chapter, was but following the example which Hume had set in those appendices to his different chapters, which, though their title too often causes them to be overlooked, are, in truth, not the least valuable or interesting portions of his immortal work. But Mr. Lecky, we may believe, thought that for his special period he might follow the bent of his inclination, and pass lightly over the triumphs of war and the intrigues of party, with the greater excuse, because such events have been already most copiously dwelt on by Lord Stanhope, whose work, if somewhat dry in arrangement and stilted in style, fully deserves the praise which Mr. Lecky bestows on it of 'range and accuracy of research,' .... 'transparent honesty of purpose, and the fulness and fairness with which he seldom fails to recount the faults of those with whom he agrees, and the merits of those with whom he differs' (Pref. vi.)