THE following sketch is meant merely to mark some prominent features in the minds of the two Herberts, under a form less elaborate and more reverent than that of criticism.
A mind of penetrating and creative power could not find a better subject for a masterly picture. The two figures stand as representatives of natural religion, and of that of the Son of Man, of the life of the philosophical man of the world, and the secluded, contemplative, though beneficent existence.
The present slight effort is not made with a view to the great and dramatic results as possible to the plan. It is intended chiefly as a setting to the Latin poems of Lord Herbert, which are known to few, a year ago, seemingly, were so to none in this part of the world. The only desire in translating them bas been to do so literally, as any paraphrase, or addition of words impairs their profound meaning. It is hoped that, even in their present repulsive garb, without rhyme or rhythm, stripped, too, of the majestic Roman mantle, the greatness of the thoughts, and the large lines of spiritual experience, will attract readers, who will not find time misspent in reading them many times.
George Herbert’s heavenly strain is better, though far from generally, known, There has been no attempt really to represent these persons speaking their own dialect, or in their own individual manners. The writer loves too well to hope to imitate the sprightly, fresh, and varied style of Lord Herbert, or the quaintness and keen sweets of his brother’s. Neither have accessories been given, such as might easily have been taken from their works. But the thoughts imputed to them they might have spoken, only in better and more concise terms, and the facts are facts. So let this be gently received with the rest of the modern tapestries. We can no longer weave them of the precious materials princes once furnished, but we can give, in our way, some notion of the original design.
It was an afternoon of one of the longest summer days. The sun had showered down his amplest bounties, the earth put on her richest garment to receive them. The clear heavens seemed to open themselves to the desire of mortals; the day had been long enough and bright enough to satisfy an immortal. In a green lane leading from the town of Salisbury, in England, the noble stranger was reclining beneath a tree. His eye was bent in the direction of the town, as if upon some figure approaching or receding; but its inward turned expression showed that he was, in fact, no longer looking, but lost in thought.
“Happiness!” thus said his musing mind,” it would seem at such hours and in such places as if it not merely hovered over the earth, a poetic presence to animate our pulses and give us courage for what must be, but sometimes alighted. Such fulness of expression pervades these fields, these trees, that it excites, not rapture, but a blissful sense of peace, Yet, even when this permanent in the secluded lot, would I accept it in exchange for the bitter sweet of a wider, freer life, I could not if I would; yet, methinks, I would not if I could. But here comes George, I will argue the point with him.”
He rose from his seat and went forward to meet his brother, who at this moment entered the lane.
The two forms were faithful expressions of their several lives. There was a family likeness between them, (or they shared in that beauty of the noble English blood, of which, in these days, few types remain) the Norman tempered by the Saxon, the fire of conquest by integrity, and a self.contained, inflexible habit of mind. In the times of the Sydneys and Russells, the English body was a strong and nobly-proportioned vase, in which shone a steady and powerful, if not brilliant light.
The chains of convention, an external life grown out of proportion with that of the heart and mind, have destroyed, for the most part, this dignified beauty. There is no longer, in fact, an aristocracy in England, because the saplings are too puny to represent the old oak. But that it once existed, and did stand for what is best in that nation, any collection of portraits from the sixteenth century will show.
The two men who now met had character enough to exhibit in their persons not only the stock from which they sprang, but what was special in themselves harmonized with it. There were ten years betwixt them, but the younger verged on middle age; and permanent habits, as well as -tendencies of character, were stamped upon their persons.
Lord Edward Herbert was one of the handsomest men of his day, of a beauty alike stately, chivalric and intellectual. His person and features we.re cultivated by all the disciplines of a Lime when courtly graces were not insignificant, because a monarch mind informed the court, nor warlike customs, rude or mechanical, for individual nature had free play in the field, except as restrained by the laws of courtesy and honor. The steel glove became his hand, and the spur his heel; neither can we fancy him out of his place, for any place he would have made his own. But all this grace and dignity of the man of the world was in him subordinated to that of the man, for in his eye, and in the brooding sense of all his countenance, was felt the life of one who, while he deemed that his present honour lay in playing well the part assigned him by destiny, never forgot that it was but a part, and fed steadily his forces on that within that passes show.
It has been said, with a deep wisdom, that the figure we most need to see before us now is not that of a saint, martyr, age, poet, artist, preacher, or any other whose vocation leads to a seclusion and partial use of faculty, but “a spiritual man of the world” able to comprehend all things, exclusively dedicate to none. Of this idea we need a new expression, peculiarly adapted to our time; but in the past it will be difficult to find one more adequate than the life and person of Lord Herbert.
George Herbert, like his elder brother, was tall, erect, and with the noble air of one sprung from a race whose spirit has never been broken or bartered; but his thin form contrasted with the full development which generous living, various exercise, and habits of enjoyment had given his brother. Nor had his features that range and depth of expression which tell of many coloured experiences, and passions undergone or vanquished. The depth, for there was depth, was of feeling rather than experience. A penetrating sweetness beamed from him on the observer, who was rather raised and softened in himself than drawn to think of the being who infused this heavenly fire into his veins. Like the violet, the strong and subtle odour of his mind was arrayed at its source with such an air of meekness, that the receiver blessed rather the liberal winds of heaven than any earthborn flower for the gift.
Raphael has lifted the transfigured Saviour only a little way from the ground; but in the forms and expression of the feet, you see that, though they may walk there again, they would tread far more naturally a more delicate element. This buoyant lightness, which, by seeking, seems to tread the air, is indicated by the text: “Beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those who come with glad tidings.”
And such thoughts were suggested by the gait and gesture of George Herbert, especially as he approached you. Through the faces of most men, even of geniuses, the soul shines as through a mask, or, at best, a crystal; we look behind a shield for the heart, But, with those of seraphic nature, or so filled with spirit that translation may be near, it seems to hover before or around, announcing or enfolding them like a luminous atmosphere. Such an one advances like a vision, and the eye must steady itself before a spiritual light, to recognize him as a reality.
Some such emotion was felt by Lord Herbert as he looked on his brother, who, for a moment or two, approached without observing him, but absorbed and radiant in his own happy thoughts. They had not met for long, and it seemed that George had grown from an uncertain boy, often blushing and shrinking either from himself or others, into an angelic clearness, such as the noble seeker had not elsewhere found. But when he was seen, the embrace was eager and affectionate as that of the brother and the child.
“Let us not return at once,” said Lord Herbert. “I had already waited for you long, and have seen all the beauties of the parsonage and church.”
“Not many, I think, in the eyes of such a critic,” said George, as they seated themselves in the spot his brother had before chosen for the extent and loveliness of prospect. ‘‘Enough to make me envious of you, if I had not early seen enough to be envious of none. Indeed, I know not if such a feeling can gain admittance to your little paradise, for I never heard such love and reverence expressed as by your people for you.”
George looked upon his brother with a pleased and open sweetness.
Lord Herbert continued, with a little hesitation- “To tell the truth, I wondered a little at the boundless affection they declared. Our mother has long and often told me of your pure and beneficent life, and I know what you have done for this place and people, but, as I remember, you were of a choleric temper.”
“And am so still!”
“Well, and do you not sometimes, by flashes of that, lose all you may have gained?”
“It does not often now,” he replied, “find open way. My Master has been very good to me in suggestions of restraining prayer, which come into my mind at the hour of temptation.”
Lord H.—Why do you not say, brother, that your own discerning mind and nature will show you more and more the folly and wrong of such outbreaks.
George H.—Because that would not be saying all that I think. At such times I feel a higher power interposed, as much as I see that yonder tree is distinct from myself. Shall I repeat to you some poor verses in which I have told, by means of various likenesses, in an imperfect fashion, how it is with me in this matter?
Lord H.—Do so! I shall hear them gladly; for I, like you, though with less time and learning to perfect it, love the deliberate composition of the closet, and believe we can better understand one another by thoughts expressed so, than in the more glowing but hasty words of the moment.
God’s breath in man returning to his birth;
The soul in paraphrase; heart in pilgrimage;
The Christian plummet, sounding heaven & earth.
Engine against th’ Almighty; sinner’s tower;
Reversed thunder; Christ’s side-piercing spear;
The six-days’ world transposing in an hour;
A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear.
Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss;
Exalted manna; gladness of the best;
Heaven in ordinary; man well drest;
The milky way; the bird of paradise;
Church bell, beyond stars heard;.the soul’s blood;
The land of spices; something understood.
Lord H.—(who has listened attentively, after a moment’s thought.)—There is something in the spirit of your lines which pleases me, and, in general, I know not that I should differ; yet you have expressed yourself nearest to mine own knowledge and feeling, where you have left more room to consider our prayers as aspirations, rather than the gifts of grace; as—
“A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear.”
In your likenesses, you sometimes appear to quibble in a way unworthy the subject.
George H.—It is the nature of some minds, brother, to play with what they love best. Yours is of a grander and severer cast; it can only grasp and survey steadily what interests it. My walk is different, and I have always admired you in yours without expecting to keep pace with you.
Lord H.—I hear your sweet words with the more pleasure, George, that I had supposed you were now too much of the churchman to value the fruits of my thought.
George H.—God forbid that I should ever cease to reverence the mind that was, to my own, so truly that of an elder brother! I do lament that you will not accept the banner of my Master, and drink at what I have found the fountain of pure wisdom. But as I would not blot from the book of life the prophets and priests that came before Him, nor those antique sages who knew all
Or of itself; like a good housewife spun,
In law, and policy: what the stars conspire;
What willing Nature speaks; what, freed by fire;
Both th’ old discoveries, and the new found seas;
The stock and surplus, cause and history,—
As I cannot resign and disparage these, because they have not what I conceive to be the pearl of all knowledge, how could I you?
Lord H.—You speak wisely, George, and, let me add, religiously. Were all churchmen as tolerant, l had never assailed the basis of their belief. Did they not insist and urge upon us their way as the one only way, not for them alone, but for all, none would wish to put stumbling-blocks before their feet.
George H.—Nay, my brother, do not misunderstand me. None, more than I, can think there is but one way to arrive finally at truth.
Lord H.—I do not misunderstand you; but, feeling that you are one who accept what you do from love of the best, and not from fear of the worst, I am as much inclined to tolerate your conclusions as you to tolerate mine.
George H.—I do not consider yours as conclusions, but only as steps to such. The progress of the mind should be from natural to revealed religion, as there must be a sky for the sun to give light through its expanse.
Lord H.—The sky is—nothing!
George H.—Except room for a sun, and such there is in you. Of your own need of such, did you not give convincing proof, when you prayed for a revelation to direct whether you should publish a book against revelation?*
Lord H.—You borrow that objection from the crowd, George; but I wonder you have not looked into the matter more deeply. Is there any thing inconsistent with disbelief in a partial plan of salvation for the nations, which, by its necessarily limited working, excludes the majority of men up to our day, with belief that each individual soul, wherever born, however nurtured, may receive immediate response, in an earnest hour, from the source of truth.
George H.— But you believed the customary order of nature to be deranged in your behalf. What miraculous record does more?
Lord H.—It was at the expense of none other. A spirit asked, a spirit answered, and its voice was thunder; but, in this, there was nothing special, nothing partial wrought in my behalf, more than if I had arrived at the same conclusion by a process of reasoning.
George H.—I cannot but think, that if your mind were allowed by the nature of your life, its free force to search, it would survey the subject in a different way, and draw inferences more legitimate from a comparison of its own experience with the gospel.
Lord H.—My brother does not think the mind is free to act in courts and camps. To me it seems that the mind takes its own course everywhere, and that, if men cannot have outward, they can always mental seclusion. None is so profoundly lonely, none so in need of constant self-support, as he who, living in the crowd, thinks an inch aside from, or in advance of it. The hermitage of such an one is still and cold; its silence unbroken to a degree of which these beautiful and fragrant solitudes give no hint. These sunny sights and sounds, promoting reverie rather than thought, a.re scarce more favourable to a great advance in the intellect, than the distractions of the busy street. Beside, we freed the assaults of other minds to quicken our powers, so easily hushed to sleep, and call it peace. The mind takes a bias too easily, and does not examine whether from tradition or a native growth intended by the heavens.
George H.—But you are no common man. You shine, you charm, you win, and the world presses too eagerly on you to leave many hours for meditation.
Lord H.—It is a common error to believe that the most prosperous men love the world best. It may be hardest for them to leave it, because they have been made effeminate and slothful by want of that exercise which difficulty brings. But this is not the case with me; for, while the common boons of life’s game have been too easily attained, to hold high value in my eyes, the goal which my secret mind, from earliest infancy, prescribed, has been high enough to task all my energies. Every year has helped to make that, and that alone, of value in my eyes; and did I believe that life, in scenes like this, would lead me to it more speedily than in my accustomed broader way, I would seek it tomorrow—nay, today. But is it worthy of a man to make him a cell, in which alone he can worship? Give me rather the always open temple of the universe! To me, it seems that the only course for a man is that pointed out by birth and fortune. Let him take that and pursue it with clear eyes and head erect, secure that it must point at last to those truths which are central to us, wherever we stand; and if my road, leading through the busy crowd of men, amid the clang and bustle of conflicting interests and passions, detain me longer than would the still path through the groves, the chosen haunt of contemplation, yet I incline to think that progress so, though slower, is surer. Owing no safety, no clearness to my position, but so far as it is attained to mine own effort, encountering what temptations, doubts and lures may beset a man, what I do possess is more surely mine, and less a prey to contingencies. It is a well-tempered wine that has been carried over many seas, and escaped many shipwrecks.
George H.—I can the less gainsay you, my lord and brother, that your course would have been mine could I have chosen.
Lord H.—Yes; I remember they verse:—
The way that takes the town;
Thou didst betray me to a lingering book,
And wrap me in a gown.
It was not my fault, George, that it so chanced.
George H.—I have long learnt to feel that it noway chanced; thot thus, and no other, was it well for me. But how I view these matters you are, or may be well aware, through a little book I have writ. Of you I would fain learn more than can be shown me by the display of your skill in controversy in your printed works, or the rumors of your feats at arms, or success with the circles of fair ladies, which reach even this quiet nook. Rather let us, in this hour of intimate converse, such as we have not had for years, and may not have again, draw near in what is nearest; and do you, my dear Lord, vouchsafe your friend and brother some clear tokens as to that goal you say has from childhood been mentally prescribed you, and the way you have taken to gain it.
Lord H.—I will do this willingly, and the rather that I have with me a leaf, in which I have lately recorded what appeared to me in glimpse or flash in my young years, and now shines upon my life with steady ray. I brought it, with some thought that I might impart it to you, which confidence I have not shown to any yet; though if, as I purpose, some memoir of my life and times should fall from my pen, these poems may be interwoven there as cause and comment for all I felt, and knew, and was. The first contains my thought of the beginning and progress or life:—
First, the life stirred within the genial seed,
Seeking its properties, whence plastic power
Was born. Chaos, with lively juice pervading,
External form in its recess restraining,
While the conspiring causes might accede,
And full creation safely be essayed.
Next, movement was in the maternal field;
Fermenting spirit puts on tender limbs,
And, earnest, now prepares, of wondrous fabric,
The power of sense, a dwelling not too mean tor mind contriving
That, sliding from its heaven, it may put on
These faculties, and, prophesying future fate,
Correct the slothful weight (of matter,) nor uselessly be manifested.
A third stage, now, scene truly great contains
The solemn feast of heaven, the theatre of earth,
Kindred and species, varied forms of things
Are here discerned,—and, from its own impulse,
It is permitted to the soul to circle,
Hither and thither rove, that it may see
Laws and eternal covenants of its world,
And stars returning in assiduous course,
The causes and thee bonds of life to learn,
And from afar foresee the highest will.
How he to admirable harmony
Tempeers the various motions of the world,
And Father, Lord, Guardian, and Builder-up,
And Deity on every side is styled.
Next, from this knowledge the fourth stage proceeds:
Cleansing away its stains, mind daily grows more pure,
Enriched with various learning, strong in virtue,
Extends its powers, and breathes sublimer air:
A secret spur is felt within the inmost heart.,
That he who will, may emerge from thill perishable state,
And a happier is sought
By ambitious rites, consecrations, religious worship,
And a new hope succeeds, conscious of a better fate,
Clinging to things above, expanding through all the heavens,
And the Divine descends to meet a holy love,
And unequivocal token is given of celestial life.
That, as a good servant, I shall receive my reward;
Or, if worthy, enter as a son, into the goods of my father,
God himself is my surety. When I shall put off this life,
Confident in a better, free in my own will,
He himself is my surety, that a fifth, yet higher state shall ensue,
And a sixth, and all, in fine, that my heart shall bow how to ask.
Purified in my whole genius, I congratulate myself
Secure of fate, while neither am I downcast by any terrors,
Nor store up secret griefs in my heart,
But pass my days cheerfully in the midst of mishaps,
Despite the evils which engird the earth,
Seeking the way above the stars with ardent virtue.
I have received, beforehand, the first fruits of heavenly life—
I now seek the later, sustained by divine love,
Through which, conquering at once the scoffs of a gloomy destiny,
I leave the barbarous company of a frantic age,
Breathing out for the last time the infernal air—breathing in the supernal,
I enfold myself wholly in these sacred flames,
And, sustained by them, ascend the highest dome,
And far and wide survey the wonders of a new sphere,
And see well-known spirits, now beautiful in their proper light,
And the choirs of the higher powers, and blessed beings
With whom I desire to mingle fired and sacred bonds—
Passing from joy to joy the heaven of all
What has been given to ourselves, or sanctioned by a common vow.
God, in the meantime, accumulating his rewards,
May at once increase our honour and illustrate his own love.
Nor heavens shall be wanting lo heavens, nor numberless ages to life,
Nor new joys to these ages, such as an
Eternity shall not diminish, nor the infinite bring lo an end.
Nor, more than all, shall the fair favour of the Divine be wanting—
Constantly increasing these joys, varied in admirable modes,
And making each state yield only to one yet happier,
And what we never even knew how to hope, is given to us—
Nor is aught kept back except what only the One can conceive,
And what in their own nature are by for most perfect
In us, at least, appear embellished,
Since the sleeping minds which heaven prepares from the beginning—
Only our labor and industry can vivify,
Polishing them with learning and with morals,
That they may return all fair, bearing bank a dowry to heaven,
When, by use of our free will, we put to rout these ills
Which heaven has neither dispelled, nor will hereafter dispel.
Thus through us is magnified the glory of God,
And our glory, too, shall resound throughout the heavens,
And what are the due rewards of virtue, finally
Must render the Father himself more happy than his wont,
Whence still more ample grace shall be showered upon us,
Each and all yielding lo our prayer,
For, if liberty be dear, it is permitted
To roam through the loveliest regions obvious to innumerable heavens,
And gather, as we pass, the delights of each.
If fixed contemplation be chosen rather than mind,
All the mysteries of the high regions shall be laid open to us,
And the joy will be to know the methods of God,—
Then it may be permitted to set upon earth, to have a care
Of the weal of men, and to bestow just laws.
If we are wore delighted with celestial love,
We are dissolved into flames which glide about and excite one another
Mutually, embraced in sacred ardours,
Spring upwards, enfolded together in firmest bonds,
In parts and wholes, mingling by turns,
And the ardour of the Divine kindles (in them) still new ardours,
It will make us happy to praise God, while he commands us,
The angelic choir, singing together with sweet modulation,
Sounds through heaven, publishing our joys,
And beauteous spectacles are put forth, hour by hour,
And, as it were, the whole fabric of heaven becomes a theatre,
Till the divine energy pervades the whole sweep of the world,
And chisels out from it new forms,
Adorned with new faculties, of larger powers.
Our forms, too, may then be renewed—
Assume new forms and senses, till our
Joys again rise up consummate.
If trusting thus, I shall have put off this mortal weed,
Why may not then still greater things be disclosed?
George H.—(who, during his brother’s reading, has listened, with head bowed down, leaned on his arm, looks up after a few moments’ silence)—Pardon, my lord, if I have not fit words to answer you. The flood of your thought has swept over me like music, and like that, for the time, at least, it fills and satisfies I am conscious of many feelings which are not touched upon there,—of the depths of love and sorrow made known to men, through One whom you as yet know not. But of these I will not speak now, except to ask, borne on this strong pinion, have you never faltered till you felt the need of a friend? strong in this clear vision, have you never sighed for a more homefelt assurance to your faith? steady in your demand of what the soul requires, have you never known fear lest you want purity to receive the boon if granted?
Lord H.—I do not count those weak moments, George; they are not my true life.
George H.—It suffices that you know them, for, in time, I doubt not that every conviction which a human being needs, to be reconciled to the Parent of all, will be granted to a nature so ample, so open, and so aspiring. Let me answer in a strain which bespeaks my heart as truly, if not as nobly as yours answers to your great mind,—
My heart was meaning all the day
Somewhat it fain would say;
And still it runneth, muttering, up and down
With only this—my joy, my life, my crown.
Yet alight not these few words;
If truly said, they may take part
Among the best in art.
The fineness which a hymn or psalm affords,
Is when the soul unto the lines accords.
He who craves all the mind
And all the soul, and strength and time;
If the words only rhyme,
Justly complains, that somewhat is behind
To make his verse or write a hymn in kind.
Whereas, if the heart be moved,
Although the verse be somewhat scant,
God doth supply the want—
As when the heart says, sighing to be approved,
“Oh, could I love!” and stops; God writeth, loved.
Lord H.—I cannot say to you truly that my mind replies to this, although I discern a beauty in it. You will say I lack humility to understand yours.
George H.—I will say nothing, but leave you to time and the care of a greater than I. We have exchanged our verse, let us now change our subject too, and walk homeward; for I trust you, this night, intend to make my roof happy in your presence, and the sun is sinking.
Lord H.—Yes, you know I am there to be introduced to my new sister, whom I hope to love, and win from her a sisterly regard in turn.
George H.—You, none can fail to regard; and for her, even as you love me, you must her, for we are one.
Lord H.—(smiling)—Indeed; two years wed, and say that.
George H.—Will your lordship doubt it? From your muse I took my first lesson.
With a look, it seem’d denied
All earthly powers but hers, yet so
As if to her breath he did owe
This borrow’d life, he thus replied—
And shall our love, so far beyond
That low and dying appetite,
And which so chaste desires unite,
Not hold in an eternal bond?
O no, belov’d! I am most sure
Those virtuous habits we acquire,
As being with the soul entire,
Must with it evermore endure.
Else should our souls in vain elect;
And vainer yet were heaven’s laws
When to an everlasting cause
They give & perishing effect.
Lord H.—(sighing)—You recall a happy season, when my thoughts were as delicate of hue, and of as heavenly a perfume as the flowers of May.
George, H.—Have those flowers borne no fruit?
Lord H.—My experience of the world and men had made me believe that they did not indeed bloom in vein, but that the fruit would be ripened in me future sphere of our existence. What my own marriage was you know,—a family arrangement made for me in my childhood. Such obligations as such a marriage could imply, I have fulfilled, and it has not failed to bring me some benefits of good will and esteem, and for more, in the happiness of being a parent, But my observation of the ties formed, by those whose choice was left free, has not taught me that a higher happiness than mine was the destined portion of men. They are too immature to form permanent relations; all that they do seems experiment, and mostly foils for the present. Thus I had postponed all hopes except of fleeting joys or ideal pictures. Will you tell me that you are possessed already of so much more?
George H.—I am indeed united in a bond, whose reality I can not doubt, with one whose thoughts, affections, and objects every way correspond with mine, and in whose life I see a purpose so pure that, if we are ever separated, the fault must be mine. I believe God, in his exceeding grace, gave us to one another, for we met almost at a glance, without doubt before, jar or repentance after, the vow which bound our lives together.
Lord H.—Then there is indeed one circumstance of your lot I could wish to share with you. (After some moments’ silence on both sides)—They told me at the house, that, with all your engagements, you go twice a-week to Salisbury. How is that? How can you leave your business and your happy home, so much and often?
George H.—I go to hear the music; the great solemn church music. This is, at once, the luxury and the necessity of my life. I know not how it is with others, but, with me, there is a frequent drooping of the wings, a smouldering of the inward fires, a languor, almost a loathing of corporeal existence. Of this visible diurnal sphere I am, by turns, the master, the interpreter, and the victim; an ever burning lamp, to warm again the embers of the altar; a skill, that cannot be becalmed, to bear me again on the ocean of hope; an elixir, that tills the dullest fibre with ethereal energy; such, music is to me. It stands in relation to speech, even to the speech of poets, as the angelic choir, who, in their subtler being, may inform the space around us, unseen but felt, do lo men, even to prophetic men. It answers to the soul’s presage, and, in its fluent life, embodies all I yet know how to desire. As all the thoughts and hopes of human souls are blended by the organ to a stream of prayer and praise, I tune at it my separate breast, and return to my little home, cheered and ready for my day’s work, as the lark does to her nest after her morning visit to the sun.
Lord H.—The ancients held that the spheres made music to those who had risen into a state which enabled them to hear it. Pythagoras, who prepared different kinds of melody to guide and expelled the differing natures of his pupils, needed himself to hear none on instruments made by human art, fur the universal harmony which comprehends all these was audible to him. Man feels in all his higher moments, the need of traversing a subtler element, of a winged existence. Artists have recognised wings as the symbol of the state next above ours; but they have not been able so to attach them to the forms of gods and angels as to make them agree with the anatomy of the human frame. Perhaps music gives this instruction, and supplies the deficiency. Although I see that I do not feel it as habitually or as profoundly as you do, l have experienced such impressions from it.
George H.—That is truly what I mean. It introduces me into that winged nature, and not as by way of supplement, but of inevitable transition. All that has budded in me, bursts into bloom, under this influence. As I sit in our noble cathedral, in itself as one of the holiest thoughts ever embodied by the power of man, the great tides of song come rushing through its aisles; they pervade all the space, and my soul within it, perfuming me like incense, bearing me on like the wind, and on and on to regions of unutterable joy, and freedom, and certainty. As their triumph rises, I rise with them, and learn to comprehend by living them, till at last a calm rapture seizes me, and holds me poised. The same life you have attained in, your description of the celestial choirs, it is the music of the soul, when centred in the will of God, thrilled by the love, expanded by the energy, with which it is fulfilled through all the ranges of active life. From such hours, I return through these green lanes, to hear the same tones from the slightest flower, to long for a life of purity and praise, such as is manifested by the flowers.
At this moment they reached the door, and there paused to look back. George Herbert bent upon the scene a half-abstracted look, yet which had a celestial tearfulness in it, a pensiveness beyond joy. His brother looked on him, and, beneath that fading twilight, it seemed to him a farewell look. It was so. Soon George Herbert soared into the purer state, for which his soul had long been ready, though not impatient.
The brothers met no more; but they had enjoyed together one hour of true friendship, when mind drew near to mind by the light of faith, and heart mingled with heart in the atmosphere of Divine love. It was a great boon to be granted two mortals.
* The following narration, published by Lord Herbert, in his life, has often been made use of by his opponents. It should be respected as an evidence or his integrity, being, like the rest of his memoir, a specimen of absolute truth and frankness towards himself and all other beings:—
Having many conscientious doubts whether or no to publish his book, De Veritate, (which was against revealed religion, on the ground that it was improbable that Heaven should deal partially with men, revealing its will to one race and nation, not to another,) “Being thus doubtful in my chamber, one fair day in the summer, my casement being opened to the south, the sun shining clear and no wind stirring, I took my book, De Veritate, in my hand, and kneeling on my knees, devoutly said these words:—O, thou eternal God, author of the light which now shines upon me, and giver of all inward illuminations, I do beseech thee, of thy infinite goodness, to pardon a greater request than a sinner ought to make. I am not satisfied enough whether I shall publish this book, De Veritate. If it be for thy glory, I beseech thee give me some sign from heaven; if not, I shall suppress it.—I had no sooner spoken these words but a loud, though yet gentle noise came from the heavens, (for it was like nothing on earth,) which did so comfort and cheer me, that I took my petition as granted, and that I had the sign I demanded, whereupon, also, I resolved to print my book. This, how strange soever it may seem, I protest before the Eternal God, is true; neither am I any way superstitiously deceived herein, since I did not only clearly hear the noise, but in the serenest sky that ever saw, being without all cloud, did, to my thinking, see the place from whence it came.”
Lord Orford observes, with his natural sneer, “How could a man who doubted of partial, believe individual revelation?”
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