starting small crystalline showers of ice that sparkled
MR. CHAINMAIL. That depends on who or what C. is.
REV. DR. FOLLIOTT. Gentlemen, you will never settle this controversy till you have first settled what is good for man in this world; the great question, de finibus, which has puzzled all philosophers. If the enchanter has represented the twelfth century too brightly for one, and too darkly for the other of you, I should say, as an impartial man, he has represented it fairly. My quarrel with him is, that his works contain nothing worth quoting; and a book that furnishes no quotations, is me judice, no book--it is a plaything. There is no question about the amusement,--amusement of multitudes; but if he who amuses us most is to be our enchanter [Greek text], then my enchanter is the enchanter of Covent Garden.
CHAPTER X: THE VOYAGE, CONTINUED
Continuant nostre routte, navigasmes par trois jours sans rien descouvrir.--RABELAIS.
"There is a beautiful structure," said Mr. Chainmail, as they glided by Lechlade church; "a subject for the pencil, Captain. It is a question worth asking, Mr. Mac Quedy, whether the religious spirit which reared these edifices, and connected with them everywhere an asylum for misfortune, and a provision for poverty, was not better than the commercial spirit, which has turned all the business of modern life into schemes of profit and processes of fraud and extortion. I do not see, in all your boasted improvements, any compensation for the religious charity of the twelfth century. I do not see any compensation for that kindly feeling which, within their own little communities, bound the several classes of society together, while full scope was left for the development of natural character, wherein individuals differed as conspicuously as in costume. Now, we all wear one conventional dress, one conventional face; we have no bond of union but pecuniary interest; we talk anything that comes uppermost for talking's sake, and without expecting to be believed; we have no nature, no simplicity, no picturesqueness: everything about us is as artificial and as complicated as our steam-machinery: our poetry is a kaleidoscope of false imagery, expressing no real feeling, portraying no real existence. I do not see any compensation for the poetry of the twelfth century."
MR. MAC QUEDY. I wonder to hear you, Mr. Chainmail, talking of the religious charity of a set of lazy monks and beggarly friars, who were much more occupied with taking than giving; of whom those who were in earnest did nothing but make themselves and everybody about them miserable with fastings and penances, and other such trash; and those who were not, did nothing but guzzle and royster, and, having no wives of their own, took very unbecoming liberties with those of honester men. And as to your poetry of the twelfth century, it is not good for much.
MR. CHAINMAIL. It has, at any rate, what ours wants, truth to nature and simplicity of diction.
The poetry, which was addressed to the people of the dark ages, pleased in proportion to the truth with which it depicted familiar images, and to their natural connection with the time and place to which they were assigned. In the poetry of our enlightened times, the characteristics of all seasons, soils, and climates may be blended together with much benefit to the author's fame as an original genius. The cowslip of a civic poet is always in blossom, his fern is always in full feather; he gathers the celandine, the primrose, the heath-flower, the jasmine, and the chrysanthemum all on the same day and from the same spot; his nightingale sings all the year round, his moon is always full, his cygnet is as white as his swan, his cedar is as tremulous as his aspen, and his poplar as embowering as his beech. Thus all nature marches with the march of mind; but among barbarians, instead of mead and wine, and the best seat by the fire, the reward of such a genius would have been to be summarily turned out of doors in the snow, to meditate on the difference between day and night and between December and July. It is an age of liberality, indeed, when not to know an oak from a burdock is no disqualification for sylvan minstrelsy. I am for truth and simplicity.
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