Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

a man, some of whose writings were and Scaliger. The Platonists, whose more admired and more influential than works he next studied, coincided more any appearing at the same period; with the peculiar turn of his mind; the correspondent of Descartes--the and he read with delight Ficinus, Ploopponent of Hobbes—the friend of tinus, Trismegistus, and the rest of Milton-one whom Burnett describes them. A volume of mystical divinity as “anopen-hearted and sincere Chris

-—the famous “ Theologia Germanica" tian philosopher,"—of whom Hobbes about this time fell into his hands and said that if his own philosophy was gave him great delight. The authornot true he knew none that he should ship of this work is doubtful; but it sooner like than More's of Cam- has been ascribed with great probabibridge."

lity to Lauterus, a Dominican monk, He was born at Grantham in Lin- who was styled the illuminated divine; colnshire, in the year 1614. His and in whose writings Luther was father, Alexander More, a zealous fond of acknowlerlging that he had Calvinist, took anxious care to educate found more "solid and sincere theology his son in his own sentiments ; and than in all the scholastic doctors of all the after-life of the young student the universities put together." being passed in combating these opinions, has made him anxious to record account of this period of his life, “ which

“ That precept,” says More, giving an that a master was selected for him of this author so mightily inculcates, namely, rigid Calvinistic opinions. At this that we should thoroughly put off and period, an uncle of his prevailed upon extinguish our own proper will; that his father to send him to Eton. He being thus dead to ourselves we may live relates his departure for Eton, and his alone to God and do all things whatsofather's parting injunction not to de ever by his instinct or plenary permission, sert those religious principles in which was so connatural as it were, and agreehe had been carefully instructed. But able to my most intimate reason and the young enquirer had already taught conscience that I could not of anything himself to regard the doctrine of pre- whatsoever be more clearly or certainly destination as taught by his father and convinced.” his tutor to be inconsistent with any

More speaks of his habitual indoadequate notions of the justice and lence at this period, by which, howgoodness of God. At Eton he had

ever, he seeins to mean little more the opportunity of expressing his opi- than his unwillingness to commit to nions aloud; and the theologian tells writing the result of his studies ; for of a dispute between him and his his mind seems to have been engaged uncle, in which at the age of fourteen with the fullest strife of all its powers, he stoutly maintained his own opinions

on the highest subjects that can be though chidden by his uncle and me- posed to human investigation.

pro

The naced with correction for his “ “imma

writing his contemplations, he repreture forwardness in philosophising.”

sents as in a manner a necessary In spite of this controversial divinity result of his natural constitution, the boy was religious, and contempla which," to use his own words, tive; he tells us, that from his earliest childhood an inward sense of the di freeing me from all the servitude of vine presence was so strong upon him those petty designs of ambition, covetand so habitual, that he did then be- ousness, and pleasing entanglements of lieve and feel there could be no thought the body, I might either lie first for ever or word hidden from God. At Eton in an inactive idleness, or else be moved his progress in Greek is described as by none but very great objects, amongst unusual. In due time he was removed which the least was the contemplation of to Cambridge and placed under a tutor, this outward world, whose several powers not a Calvinist.

and properties, touching variously on my

tender senses, made to me such enravish" And now,” says he, "a mighty and ing music, and snatched away my soul almost immoderate thirst after knowledge into so great admiration, love and desire possessed me throughout, especially for that which was Natural, and above all

of a nearer acquaintance with that prinothers, that which is said to dive into ciple from which all these things did How, the deepest causes of things, and Aris- that the pleasure and joy that frequently

accrued to me from hence, is plainly untotle calls the first and the highest phi- utterable, though I have attempted to losophy or wisdom."

leave some marks and traces thereof iu In this temper he read, before he my philosophical poems. But being well took his first degree, Aristotle, Cardan, advised by the dictates of my own con

[ocr errors]

science and clear information of those rable piece of his · The Fairy Queen,' a boly oracles which we all deservedly re poem as richly fraught with divine moverence that God reserves bis choicest rality as phansie." secrets for the purest minds, and that it is uncleanness or spirit, not distance of The first of these poems, Psychozoia, place, that dissevers us from the Deity. is a bold effort to present to the reaI was fully convinced that true boliness der's conceptious ihe Platonic Triad. was the only sate entrance into divine He expresses great anxiety that bis knowledge, and having an unshaken be- reader should not regard hiin as doing lief of the existence of God and of his more than explaining the theology of will, that we should be holy even as he is Plotinis, and the later Platonists, holy; there was nothing that is truly Like Coleridge in our own day, be resintul that could appear to me, assisted by gards the doctrine of the Trinity as a such a power to be unconquerable which iruth deducible from the idea of God, therefore uryed me seriously to set my

even without revelation. But while self to the task. Of the experience and he thinks it aids the argument for the events of which enterprize my second and doctrine that “the Platonists, the best third canto of the life of the soul is a real and faithful record. My enjoyments Christians, the best of all that do pro

and divinest of philosophers, and the then encreasing with my victories, and innocency, and simplicity, filling my mind

fess religion, do both concur that there with ineffable delight in God and his cre

is a Trinity;" he yet adds, “in what ation, I found myself as loath to die, that they differ I leave to be found out acis, to think my soul mortal, as I was when cording to the safe direction of that I was a child to be called to go to bed in infallible rule of faith, the Holy Word." summer evenings, there being still light The Platonic Triad, then and not enough as I thought to enjoy ny play, any mystery of revelation—is the subwhich solitude put me upon my first ject of the poem. But our Platonist search into the nature of the soul which does not seek to conceal that he is a I pursued chiefly by the guidauce of the Christian, and in this way the lanschool of Plato, whose philosophy to this guage of two systems becomes insenvery day I look upon to be more than sibly bleuded,-we thiuk unwisely, human in the chiel strokes thereof." though assuredly not irreverently.

Platonism becomes with More an alleMore pursued his studies so intently gory, under which he veils some points that he soon reduced bimself to “great of Christianity, as Spenser, under the thinness of body." His language was name of Pan, sings of our Lord,-as coloured with the expressions of the Paul—the illustration is More's mystical divines. He spoke of his ex- transfers what Aratus says of Jupiter periences and his conmunications with

to God binuself: the divine spirit with such fervont that his enthusiasm was made a ground of Πανση δε Διος κεχρημεθα πανσες objection to him when he was candi- Tow yàę xàs gevos sousvo date for a fellowship ; and he was nearly rejected till they, in whose hand

More—though he disclaims conthe election was, were satisfied by tending for the identity of the thought, those who knew him intimately, that yet is anxious to show that the corresthat the same student was a pleasant pondence of names and attributes, in companion and in his way, one of the Platonic scheme, with those in the the merriest Greeks they were books of the New Testament, imply quainted with.”. His earliest publica- some agreement of nature,—that there tion was “ Psychozoia, or the first part is such similitude that one may conveof the song of the soul; containing a niently be regarded as the symbol of Christiano-Platonical display of life.” the other, and that it is no unnatural In a few years after, he reprinted it digression in the poet, if the lower with the other poems of which we pur- forms of the Platonic schools suggest pose to give an account. The volume

to biin analogies, more or less obscure, was inscribed to his father.

by which he may recall to the minds “ You deserve,” says the young poet, of his hearers spiritual truths, and per“ you deserve the patronage of better haps persuade some spirits that even poems than these; though you may lay a with respect to the highest truths, God more proper claim to them than any, you was not left without a witness among having from my childhood tuned mine the Gentiles. ears to Spenser's rhymes; entertaining In a preface to his first poem, More us on winter nights with that incompara- exhibits the parallelism of titles be

ac

longing to the second Unity of each is not to know the essence, but to feel Triad.

the influence of the Divinity, and to The verbal resemblances, at least, be baptized in the name of the Father, are very remarkable. In the Platonic Son, and Holy Ghost, is of more conscheme God is spoken of as making sequence than to understand all curithe world by his Word. The visible ous and acute school-tracts. and outward creation is formed ac Before we transcribe any part of the cording to the Wisdom of God, or the Psychozoin we find it necessary to say Intellectual World. In their language, that Psyche is the soul of the world this Intellectual World is the idea of the that then she is described as the soul outward creation. In their language, of all Alterity. The meaning may be too, the Logos is the Redeemer of the thus explained : as the seed of a plant lapsed world, viz. mankind,—whom hath the whole tree, branches, leaves, be restores again into man ; i. e. into and fruits at once, in one point, after a wisdom and righteousness.

manner closed up, but potentially, so “ Take in the whole Trinity,” says eternity is said by the Platonist to have More, " and you shall find a strange con

all the world indivisible present at cordance and harmony betwixt the na

once, and that actually. As the semiture of each hypostatis (person) in either pal·form spreads out itself, and the in their order. Atove, or Ahad, [Arove body it animates into distant branches, is the Good— AHAD, One,] is simply the from the quiet and silent seed, (sotis first principle of all beings, the father of s* origueros houxov) so doth Psyche, all existences, and the universal crea the soul of the world, make that actual tion is but his family, and therefore, he iu time and succession which could not has a right of imposing laws on the be here below in bodies at once. This whole creation, The natural creation the Platonists called alterity. When keepeth this law, but man breaks it; our readers have reconciled ihemselves however, it is still propounded to him, to the names which More gives his alleand wben it takes hold of him strikes gorical persons and places,—names sup, him with dread and horror,—hence his plied to him either from the rabbinical external compliance with the law through Hebrew, and the dialect of the Cabfear and force as it were. And this,” balists, from the Greek of Plotinus, says More, “I conceive is to be under and from the Latin of his interpreters the law that makes nothing perfect. This

we think they will admire the extreme God vouchsafes, sometimes, to second freedom of his style. His vocabulary with the gift of his Son.ogg@os osou aogos is neither abundant nor very poetical, apetoyouss usos, as Philo, the Platonist, but is distinguished for great clearness, calls him. He cleanseth us of our sins, he healeth us of our infirmities, shapes reader giving fair attention, can be at

so that on a very difficult subject no us from an inward vital principle (even as the ratio seminalis figures out a tree) any loss for his meaning. into a new life and shape, even into the that Spenser is most interesting to

It has been said-untruly we thinkimage of God."

those readers who forget, or who have More now quotes from Aristotle his never attended to the allegory. Howjudgment of those who are eminently ever this be, the contrary is cergood in themselves, living from a vital tainly the case with More. The poet principle of morality within. Katutan is lost in the philosopher-he in fact τουτων ουκ εστι νομος, αυτοι γαρ εισι νομος: deals with subjects which are beyond Against such there is no law, for they the range of fancy-which refuse the are themselves a law; the very words aid of ordinary illustration—and his of the Apostle. And in the same pas- best praise is, that he succeeds in fassage Aristotle says, they are no more tening his reader's watchful attention under the law than a deity can be un upon the operations of his own mind. der the law,- for 'tis as if they should The opening of the poem gives no take upon them to rule Jupiter himself, unfavourable specimen of bis manner. and share his kindgdom.

Let not the reader be deterred by the The last hypostasis in the Platonic half-dozen scholastic words which, with Triad is Uranore, or Psyche, whom a moment's attention, will cease to inPlotinus calls the celestial Venus, from terrupt his progress, but give More the whom is born the heavenly Cupid - benefit of the same attention which he Divine Love. In this More again would to any other writer, either of sees a correspondence with Christian our own or any other country, whose truth ; but he entreats his reader to style is not yet quite familiar : remember that the happiness of man

Nor ladies loves, nor knights brave martiall deeds,
Ywrapt in rolls of hid antiquitie;
But th' inward fountain, and the unseen seeds,
From whence are these, and what so under eye
Doth fall, or is record in memorie,
Psyche, I'll sing. Psyche ! from thee they sprong.
o life of time, and all alterity!

The life of lives instill his nectar strong, My soul t’inebriate, while I sing Psyche's song. “ But thou, whoe're thou art that hear'st this strain,

Or read'st these rhymes which from Platonick rage
Do powerfully flow forth, dare not to blame
My forward pen of foul miscarriage,
If all that's spoke, with thoughts more sadly sage
Doth not agree. My task is not to try
What's simply true, I onely do engage

My self to make a fit discovery,
Give some fair glimpse of Plato's hid philosophy.
6 What man alive that hath but common wit

(When skilfull limmer 'suing his intent,
Shall fairly well pourtray and wisely hit
The true proportion of each lineament,
And in right colours to the life depaint
The fulvid eagle with her sun-bright eye)
Would waxen wroth with inward choler brent

'Cause 'tis no buzard or discolour'd Pie? Why man? I meant it not. Cease thy fond obliquie. “ So if what's consonant to Plato's school, (Which well agrees with learned Pythagore, Egyptian Trismegist, and th’antique roll Of Chaldee wisdome, all which time hath tore, But Plato and deep Plotiu do restore,) Which is my scope, I sing out lustily : If any twitten me for such strange lore,

And me all blamelesse brand with infamy, God purge that mun from fault of foul malignity. “ The Ancient of dayes, Sire of Eternitie,

Sprung of himself, or rather no wise sprong:

Father of lights and everlasting glee, - This Ahad of himself the Aon fair

Begot the brightnesse of his father's grace :
No living wight in heav'n to bim compare,
No work his goodly honour such disgrace,
Nor lose thy time in telling of his race.
His beauty and his race no man can tell :
His glory darkeneth the sunne's bright face;

Or if ought else the sunne's bright face excell,
His splendour would it dim, and all that glory quel).
“ This is that ancient Eidos omniform,

Fount of all beauty, root of flow'ring glee. « Farre otherwise it fares in this same Lond

Of truth and beauty, then in mortall brood
Of earthly lovers, who impassion'd
With outward forms (nut rightly understood
From whence proceeds this amorous sweet flood,
And choice delight which in their spright they feel :

Can outward idole yield so heavenly mood ?) “ Like to Narcissus, on the grassie shore,

Viewing his outward face in watery glasse ;
Still as he looks, bis looks adde evermore
New tire, new light, new love, vew comely grace

To's inward form; and it displayes apace
Its hidden raves, and so new lustre sends
To that vain shadow; but the boy, alas!

Unhappy boy! the inward nought attends,
But in foul filthy mire, love, life, and form he blends.
“ And this I wot is the soul's excellence,

That from the hint of every painted glance
Of shadows sensible, she doth from hence
Her radiant life, and lovely hue advance
To higher pitch, and by good governance
May wained be from love of fading light
In outward forms, having true cognizance,

That those vain shows are not the beauty bright
That takes men so, but what they cause in humane spright.
“ Farre otherwise it fares in Æon's realm.
O happy close of sight and that there's seen!
That there is seen is good Abinoam,
Who Atove hight: and Atuvus I ween,
Cannot be lesse then he that sets his eyen
On that abysse of good eternally,
The youthfull Æon, whose fair face doth shine

While he his father's glory doth espy,
Which waters his fine flowering forms with light from high.
“ Not that bis forms increase, or that they die :

For on-land, which men Idea call,
Is nought but life in full serenity,
Vigour of life is root, stock, branch, and all ;
Nought here increaseth, nought here hath its fall :

But th' eldest daughter of this aged sire,

She Uranora hight
“ Whilome me chanced (o my happy chance !)

To spie this spotlesse, pure, fair Uranore :
I spi'd her, but, alas ! with slighter glance
Beheld her on the Atuvæan shore.
She stood the last ; for her did stand before
The lovely Autocal. But first of all
Was mighty Atove, deeply covered o'er
With unseen light. No might imaginall
May reach that vast profunditie,

The rest of the canto is occupied this outward visible world-no new with a description of the dress and the fancy, for in the Sybilline Oracles this marriage of Psyche. The garment is made the apparel of the deity. We of Psyche, the Soul of the Universe, is quote More's own translation

“ I am Jehovah, well my words perpend,

Clad with the frory sea, all mantled o'er
With the blue heavens, shod with the earth I wend,
The stars around me dance, th' air doth me cover."

In our own days, the philosophic the same language to his Macrocospoet of Germany gives something of

mus

“ In the tempests of life, in the currents of motion,

Hither and thither,
Over and under,
Wend I and wander ;
Birth and the grave
A limitless ocean-
Where the restless wave
Undulates ever-

« PoprzedniaDalej »