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glories of creation as corroborating evidence her purity; nor have all the scenes of dethat a gracious will has designed the mys- gradation, fraud, or cruelty, which her tery of our being, and that a powerful hand mysterious light has illuminated, been able, continues to uphold the world which we in- even in these clear-sighted and practical habit. I speak of the soothing calm of even- times, to render less solemn and imposing, ing, not with the puerile notion that mere that soul-pervading influence, with which the sentimental musing is conducive to the vi- moon is still capable of inspiring those who tality of the true spirit of Christianity—that have not entirely subdued or sacrificed the spirit which is compelled to engage in active tender, generous, or sublime emotions of
, their nature. maintain its stand amidst all that is repulsive | " In power, and majesty, and glory, the sun to the poetic mind; but I speak of the even- unquestionably claims our regard before all ing hour as a season of repose and whole- other objects of creation. But the sun is some refreshment to this spirit, and of all | less poetical than the moon, because his atother enjoyments derived from the admira- tributes are less exclusively connected with tion of nature as lawful, natural, and highly our mental perceptions. By combining the conducive to the feeling of thankfulness idea of heat with that of light, our associawhich unfailingly pervades the soul of the tions become more sensitive and corporeal, true Christian.
and consequently less refined. The light of the sun is also too clear, and too generally pervading in its nature, to be so poetical as
that of the moon. It leaves too little for the THE POETRY OF THE MOON.
imagination. All is revealed to the eye;
and myriads of different objects being thus To write a chapter on the moon, appears, made distinctly visible, the attention wants at first sight, a task no less presumptuous that focus of concentration which gives inin itself, than inevitably fruitless in its con- tensity and vividness to all our impressions. sequences-fruitless as regards that kind of “ But the stars,” some may ask, “ are they interest which on behalf of the queen of not sufficiently distant and magnificent for night has been called forth and sanctified sublimity-mild enough for purity-beautiful by the highest powers of genius, as well as enough for love ?" Yes; but they are too abused and profaned by the lowest. To distant-100 pure—too cold for human love. apostrophize the moon, even in the most They come not near our troubled world, they ecstatic lays, would, in the present day be smile not upon us like the moon. We feel little less absurd than to attempt
that they are beautiful. We behold and
admire. No wonder that the early dwellers * To gild refined gold, to paint the lily, To throw a perfume o'er the violet,
upon earth should have been tempted to beTo smoothe the ice, or add another hue
hold and worship. But one thing is wanting, Unto the rainbow, or with lantern light
that charm, whether real or ideal, which To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish.”
connects or seems to connect, our mental Yet in order to prove that the moon is of sufferings, wants, and wishes, with some all natural and sensible objects, pre-eminent- high and unattainable source of intelligence ly poetical, no other facts need be adduced the charm of sympathy. Thousands of than these; that all the effusions of disordered | purified and elevated minds have expatiated fancy which have been offered at her shrine, upon the stars as the most sublime of all since first the world began, have not deprived created objects, and so unquestionably they the queen of night of one iota of her regalare ;* but sublimity is not all that constitutes dignity; not all the abortive efforts of deceptive art, (and not a few have presented a
Every one disposed to doubt this truth, may find mockery of her inimitable beauty,) have, in full conviction by reading in Montgomery's Lectures on the slightest degree impaired the charm of Poetry, a few pages devoted to this subject ; perhaps
the most poetical effusion that ever flowed from an elo. her loveliness ; not all the allusions of sickly
quent pen, inspired by a refined imagination, a highly sentiment, or vulgar affectation, have sullied gined mind, and a devout spirit.
the essence of poetic feeling. The spirit of of these lays is proof of a totally different poetry dwells not always in the high and nature, and has nothing to do with the case in distant heavens, but loves to vary its exist- point; the inspiration being in the moon hertence by the enjoyment of tender and home- self-the virtue of that inspiration in the souls felt delights. Thus, we are not satisfied, of her votaries. Here however we find adeven in our hightest intellectual pursuits, ditional, and perhaps stronger proof of the unless we find something to appropriate, and same fact; for not only have poets of every call our own; and thus while we admire the age, and every country, found in the queen of stars as splendid portions of the heavens, we night a never-tiring theme; but she has unboth admire and love the moon, because, questionably the honour of having called forth still retaining her heavenly character, she some of the most memorable, and most brilapproaches nearer to our earth. We can- liant effusions of poetic genius. To quote not look upon the stars without being struck illustrative passages on this subject would with a sense of their distance, their unattain- be to fill volumes, and to make selections able height, the immeasurable extent of would be almost impossible, amongst inspace that lies between the celestial fields stances so numerous and so fraught with inwhich they traverse with a perpetual har- terest; but there is one scene in the Mermony of motion, and the low world of petty chant of Venice which deserves particular nocares where we lie grovelling. But the tice, for the natural and simple manner in moon-the placid moon, is just high enough which the poet has given us the most perfect for sublimity, just near enough for love. So idea of an exquisite moonlight night, apbenign, and bland, and softly beautiful is her parently without effort, and almost without ever-beaming countenance, that when per description. It is where the two lovers, essonifying, as we always do, the moon, she caped from danger and suspicion, first find seems to us rather as purified than as having time and opportunity for the quiet enjoyment been always pure. We feel as if some fel- which is best appreciated after imminent lowship with human frailty and suffering risk. In this picture (for it is nothing less) had brought her near us, and almost wonder we behold most strikingly the master hand whether her seasons of mysterious darkness by which the scene is drawn. Here is no babare accompanied with that character of high bling about silver rays,''soft influence," "smiand unimpeachable dignity which attends ling light;' the passage commences merely her seasons of light. Her very beams, when with— The moon shines bright; and then they steal in upon our meditations, seem so perfect is the enjoyment of the lovers, both fraught with tenderness, with charity, and in each other and in all that surrounds them, love: so that we naturally associate them that they immediately strike off comparisons in our own minds, not so much with super- between that particular night, and others that natural perfection, as with that which has have been vividly impressed upon their imbeen refined and sublimated by a moral aginations, not by observation, but by pasprocess. We call to remembrance the dark- sages from (perhaps their favourite) authors, est imputation ever cast upon the moon, in where the moon has been called in to aid those dark times when to be a goddess was the representation of some of the most strikby no means to be free from every moral ing scenes. Had the happiness of Lorenzo stain; and then, in fanciful return for all her and Jessica been less absorbing, or had the sweet, and cheering, and familiar light, we night been less beautiful, they might have sometimes offer a sigh of pity to the vestal told us how, and upon what objects the Dian, that she should have paid so dearly moon was then shining. But with them all for having loved but once, and that with so was complete. They had no comments to pure a flame, that it disturbed not the dreams make upon the lovely night, which we are of a slumbering shepherd boy.
left to suppose too exquisite for description ; To prove that the moon is of all visible ob- and after amusing themselves and each jects the most poetical, there needs no other other with simple, but most beautiful alluevidence than the number of poetic lays in sions to classic history, they very naturally which she has been celebrated. The merit | fall into that playful humour, which belongs
to perfect happiness, and descending from deep gloom of the surrounding woods, the their poetic flights, turn upon each other the narrow defile, or the hollow cave, within sportive badinage, which is more familiar whose confines the queen of night, with all to those who are but "earthly happy.” her power, and all her splendour, is unable They are then interrupted by the entrance to penetrate. of a messenger; but still the mind of the Another striking attribute of the moon, poet having been filled to overflowing with and one which seems more especially to his own idea, or rather his own intense feel bring her within the sphere of human syming of this ecstatic night, he goes on after the pathy, is her alternate darkness and illumifirst exuberance of fancy has been expended nation; which last is familiarly spoken of as in mere association, to give us some de- a periodical visitation ; for so powerful are scription of the scene; and then follows that the senses of the imagination, that it is with passage so highly imaginative and poetical, some difficulty we realize the truth, that yet withal so simple, that it seems but to em- when the moon is invisible to our eyes, she body in words, the faint dreams that have is in reality as present with us as when her floated through our own minds a thousand soft light salutes us in our nightly wanderumes without finding utterance:
ings. Thus we hear perpetually of the con* How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!
stancy, as well as the inconstancy of the Here will we sit, and let the sounds of music moon; just as a similitude with either qualCreep in our ears; soft stillness, and the night, ity may suit the poet's need. Of her conBecome the touches of sweet harmony.
stancy, because, lost as she is to our outSit, Jessica. Look how the floor of Heaven Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold ;
ward perceptions, we are able to calculate There's not the smallest orb, which thou behold'st, with undeviating certainty the hour of her But in his motion like an angel sings, Still quiring to the young-ey'd cherubims.
return; of her inconstancy, because how Such harmony is in immortal souls ;
profound soever are the devotions offered at But, whilst this muddy vesture of decay
her shrine, that shrine is no sooner invested Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it."
with the full splendour of her celestial In contemplating the different attributes brightness, than the ineffable light begins to of the moon, first, and most striking, is that wane, and finally disappears. distinctness of light and shade which charac- From the long established custom of apterise her influence over external nature. pealing to the moon in our descriptions of Here are no lesser lights, no minor shadows mental suffering, we might almost be led to to constitute a medium between the two ex- pronounce that melancholy was one of her tremes. The whole earth is under the do- chief characteristics, were not this poetical minion of two ruling powers; and every ma- propensity easily accounted for, by the enterial object presents on one side a surface joyments of the generality of mankind being distinctly visible, while the other is lost in of such a nature as to confine their attention impenetrable darkness. Not a wreath of to social, stirring, mundane subjects of interivy, a projecting cornice, or a broken turret, est or excitement; and thus to leave little but the moon invests it with a beauty of her time, and less inclination, for making obserown, more attractive to the eye, and more vations upon the moon: while under the inpotent in its influence upon the imagination, fluence of melancholy, which has in all from the depth of mysterious shadow by minds the same tendency to silence, solitude, which it is contrasted. Beautiful as her and contemplation, the eye is naturally dilight unquestionably is, when it falls upon rected to scenes of repose and serenity, and the verdure of the sloping bank, where every more than all, to the solemn aspect of the flower, and leaf and tendril have their shining heavens. It is here that we look for peace; surface contrasted with their shadow, we and we all can remember, when through the should scarcely pause to offer our tribute of long watches of the sleepless night, the admiration, by telling how often the poet's lay moon was our only companion, the only has recorded events which took place "on friend who was near us under the pressure such a night,” but that in glancing from this of our calamity, or who appeared to sympascene of silvery brightness, we behold the thize in our distress.
Surely the sweet influence of the queen the busy world, chasing their different obof night is in its own nature more cheering jects of ambition or desire, in which we hold than melancholy. How many glad occasions no share: even our own hearts, though they of social and festive entertainment are regu- feel the same to us in their capability of suflated by the moon. “We will visit our fering, having learned to beat another tune, friends when the moon is at the full”—“We to burn with different fires, to be vivified will return by the light of the moon ”—“We with a new life, or subject to a fatality wait for the moon before we set sail,” is the which we were far from apprehending then. familiar language of every day; and how Yet the moon—the lovely moon, is still the much more must the mariner on the mighty same, shining on with the same ineffable efdeep rejoice in her welcome visitations, and fulgence-teaching us that constancy is not hail her nightly radiance as she rises over an empty name, though we and ours have the unfathomable abyss. Shines not the failed to find the reality—that there is purity moon through the grated lattice of the pri- and peace beneath the heavens, though we son, from whence all other gentle comforters are still wandering in fruitless quest of both are excluded, smiling upon the criminal in that there is an inexhautible fountain of his feverish sleep, and reminding him when loveliness and delight, though we have he starts into waking consciousness, that wasted ours. while his brother man, perhaps weak, falli- And is not the moon most kind, most charible, and faulty as himself, had he been simi- table, that she reveals no deformities, brings larly circumstanced, is able to pursue, im- to light no defects, but ever shines onpeach, and condemn, according to the strict
" Leaving that beautiful, that still was so, authority of laws, which take no cognizance
And making that which was not." of want of knowledge, of early bias, and more than all, of peculiar and incalculable Oh! it is wearisome in our daily existence temptation; there is still mercy in the ever- to see the critic's eye for ever peering through lasting heavens-an eye that looks down a narrow focus of concentrated and partial upon his earthly sufferings, beholding light, to find out the specks upon the face of through a clear, and steady, and impartial | the sun, the soil of the lily, the footprints of light, all that is hidden from the scrutiny of the butterfly upon the velvet petals of the man; and that an humble, solemn, and rose; listening with his ear sharpened to an heartfelt appeal, even from out his dungeon, acuteness that renders it sensible only of disbeneath his chains, or upon the fatal scaffold, cord, to detect the misapplication of tone and may yet be made to that higher tribunal, emphasis in the eloquence that shakes the whose judgments are as unparalled in mer- world, the wrong cadence in the voice that cy, as unimpeachable in justice.
tells of anguish, the false note in the harIs not the moon, amidst all the chances mony of the spheres. Yet this is what men and changes that occur to us in this sublu- call wisdom-a wisdom which if it fails to nary scene, still, still the same? We recall subdue the ignorance and prejudice of manthe sweet and social evenings, when the kind, at least destroys the capacity for apmoon looked in upon our childish play, preciating the beauty and perfection of the through the trellice-work of vine and jessa- creation, and the desire to bow with mute mine that grew around our ancestral dwell- reverence and awe before its Creator. It is ing. How looks that dwelling now? The this wisdom which intrudes its unwelcome vine and the jessamine are rooted from the presence upon our daily walk, rendering that earth, the walls are broken down, and scarce- walk most wearisome, and the society we ly is one stone left upon another. Where meet there, infinitely worse than solitude. are the companions of those happy hours ? But the night returns—the calm and silent Some have paid the debt of nature, and are night, and the sweet moon rising over the gone we ask not where; some are so altered eastern hills, goes forth upon her pathway in their loves and friendships, that we know through the heavens. Perchance an envious them not, or perhaps, they know not us; cloud advances, and her form is obscured by and others are scattered abroad throughout misty vapours; but they pass away, and her smile looks sweeter than before. Upon Lost in a world of vague and unsatisfying the rugged precipice, the dark impenetrable thoughts, the moon steals in upon his mediforest, the restless waves of the ocean, “her tations. It is not with him as with more soft and solemn light” is falling, beautifying feeling minds, that memory rushes back whatever it shines upon, marking out as with with one tremendous bound; but with his a silver pencil the majestic outline of the wonted caution and reserve, he begins to recrag or promontory, but leaving the deep trace the pilgrimage of past years, the silent and frightful cavern at its base still unre- moonbeams lighting him unconsciously on vealed; tinging with radiant lustre the light his way, and leading him by the chain of boughs that wave and dance as if with very association back to his paternal home. He gladness in her welcome beams, the sprays enters again the once familiar habitation. of glittering ivy, or the lofty turrets of the He takes possession of the chair appropriated ancient tower, while passing in her peaceful to the darling boy, and along with it the progress over every scene of gloom and ter- many pure and lively feelings, which the ror, she seems to cast the dark places of the world had chased away. He listens to his earth into yet deeper shade; or, turning the father's gentle admonitions, and feels the affoam of the angry billows into crests of spark- fectionate pressure of his hand, upon his then ling light, the troubled track of the heaving unruffled brow. He hears his mother's voice bark into a silvery pathway, and the sails as she sings their evening hymn, and “Oh!" that flutter in the adverse gale, into the white the man of wealth exclaims, “ that I might pinions of some angelic messenger, she be again that innocent and happy boy!" kindly offers to the imaginative beholder, a If he who embarks his whole heart in the picture of sublimity for that of danger—of sordid avocations of life, is necessarily driven trust for anxious fear-of hope for murmur- on to resign the noblest aspirations, and tening and despair.
derest affections of his youth, the votaress Is not the moon also a faithful treasurer of fashion becomes if possible more heartof sweet and pleasant memories? We less, and more hardened in her servile and might forget (in this world there is much to despicable career: it is possible from this make us forget) what we learned before our cause that in order to act to the life the artifiminds were tainted by the envious struggle cial character she has assumed, it is necesfor pre-eminence, and the necessity of sordid sary that she should sometimes wear the gain, or soured by the disappointments in- semblance of feeling, just in that proportion, evitably attending both. The worldly man, and according to that peculiar mode, which the sharp keen bustler of the city, sees little may best suit the selfish purpose of the moto call back his thoughts to the days of un-ment; and this empty mockery of the best sophisticated innocence, and still less to re- and loveliest attributes of human naturecommend to his now mature judgment, what of its affections, sympathies, and high capahe would call nothing better than his boyish bilities, has a more debasing and injurious blindness, to his own best interests. But the effect upon the mind, than the total forgetbodily frame in time wears out, the city feast fulness even of their outward character. becomes unpalatable to the sickly appetite, But the woman of fashion cannot always and civic honours are unable to support the keep her thoughts directed to the same brilhead they crown. Sleepless nights succeed | liant point. There will be moments when to wearisome days. Perhaps his attendant she suspects the potency of the idol to whom enjoys that repose, which he is unable to her only devotions have been offered. With purchase with all his wealth. To sum up her also the exhaustion of the bodily frame, the amount of his gold, no longer relieves will produce a pining after that which has the aching void of his heart. There is a been sacrificed at the altar of the world-a gnawing want still pressing upon him, even longing to lie down and rest, beneath the at this late hour of the day, which all his sheltering wings of the angel of peace. Perpossessions are unequal to supply; and he chance she has stolen unnoticed from the begins at last to question, whether they may busy throng, to breathe for one moment with not have cost him more than their real value. greater freedom at the open casement. She