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James Russell Lowell, Among my books, Spenser (search)
of the Wise Virgins The general end of the book, he tells us in his Dedication to Sir Walter Raleigh, is to fashion a gentleman of noble person in virtuous and gentle discipline. But a little further on he evidently has a qualm, as he thinks how generously he had interpreted his promise of cuts: To some I know this method will seem displeasant, which had rather have good discipline delivered plainly in way of precepts or sermoned at large, We can fancy how he would have done this by Jeremy Taylor, who was a kind of Spenser in a cassock. as they use, than thus cloudily enwrapped in allegorical devices. Lord Burleigh was of this way of thinking, undoubtedly, but how could poor Clarion help it? Has he not said, And whatso else, of virtue good or ill, Grew in that garden, fetcht from far away, Of every one he takes and tastes at will, And on their pleasures greedily doth prey’? One sometimes feels in reading him as if he were the pure sense of the beautiful incarnated to the o
James Russell Lowell, Among my books, Keats. (search)
at. Reputation is in itself only a farthing-candle, of wavering and uncertain flame, and easily blown out, but it is the light by which the world looks for and finds merit. Keats longed for fame, but longed above all to deserve it. To his friend Taylor he writes, There is but one way for me. The road lies through study, application, and thought. Thrilling with the electric touch of sacred leaves, he saw in vision, like Dante, that small procession of the elder poets to which only elect centuri which he was struggling looked only the blacker that they were shone upon by the signal-torch that promised safety and love and rest. It is good to know that one of Keats's last pleasures was in hearing Severn read aloud from a volume of Jeremy Taylor. On first coming to Rome, he had bought a copy of Alfieri, but, finding on the second page these lines, Misera me! sollievo a me non resta Altro che il pianto, ed il pianto è delitto, he laid down the book and opened it no more. On the