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and of a closer adaptation to the prevailing taste of the day. Even at that early age I was keenly alive, if not so keenly as at this moment, to the fact, that by far the larger proportion of what is received in every age for poetry, and for a season usurps that consecrated name, is not the spontaneous overflow of real unaffected passion, deep, and at the same time original, and also forced into public manifestation of itself from the necessity which cleaves to all passion alike of seeking external sympathy: this it is not; but a counterfeit assumption of such passion, according to the more or less accurate judgment of the writer, for distinguishing the key of passion suited to the particular case, and an assumption of the language of passion, according to his more or less skill in separating the spurious from the native and legitimate diction of real excitement. Rarely, indeed, are the reputed poets of any age men who groan, like prophets, under the burthen of a message which they have to deliver, and must deliver, of a mission which they must discharge. Generally, nay, with much fewer exceptions, perhaps, than would be readily believed, they are merely simulators of the part they sustain; speaking not out of the abundance of their own hearts, but by skill and artifice assuming or acting emotions at second-hand; and the whole is a business of talent, (sometimes even of great talent,) but not of original power, of genius,* or authentic inspiration.
* The words genius and talent are frequently distinguished from each other by those who evidently misconstrue the true distinction entirely, and sometimes so grossly as to use them by way of expressions for a mere difference in degree. Thus, 'a man of great talent, absolutely a genius,' occurs in a very well written tale at this moment before me; as if being a man of genius implied only a greater than ordinary degree of talent.
Talent and genius are in no one point allied to each other, except
From P― we returned to Eton. Her Majesty about this time gave some splendid fêtes at Frogmore; to one or two of which she had laid her commands upon a great officer of her household that we should be invited. The invitation was, of course, on my friend's account; but her Majesty had condescended to direct that I, as his visiter, should be specially included. Lord W., young as he was, had become tolerably indifferent about such things; but to me such a scene was a novelty; and, on that account, it was settled we should go. We did go and I was not sorry to have made the sacrifice of a few hours, for the gratification of once, at least, witnessing the splendors of a royal party. But a sacrifice it certainly was : and, after the first edge of expectation was taken off — after the vague uncertainties of ignorance had given place to absolute realities, and the eye had become a little familiar with the splendors of the dresses, &c., I began to suffer under the constraints incident to a young person in such a situation. The music, in fact, was all that continued to delight me; and, but for that, I believe, I should have had some difficulty in avoiding so monstrous an
generically; that both express modes of intellectual power. But the kinds of power are not merely different, they are in polar opposition to each other. Talent is intellectual power of every kind, which acts and manifests itself by and through the will, and the active forces. Genius, as the verbal origin implies, is that much rarer species of intellectual power which is derived from the genial nature from the spirit of suffering and enjoying from the spirit of pleasure and pain, as organized more or less perfectly; and this is independent of the will. It is a function of the passive nature. Talent is conversant with the adaptation of means to ends. But genius is conversant only with ends. Talent has no sort of connection, not the most remote or shadowy, with the moral nature or temperament, - genius is steeped and saturated with this moral nature. Talent (to use an old distinction of the schoolmen of our elder English poets, Milton, for example, Paradise Lost, B. V. 1. 488, and also a revived distinction of Immanuel Kant's) is discursive: genius, like the angelic understanding, is intuitive.
indecorum as yawning. The ball-room, a temporary erection, with something of the character of a pavilion about it, wore an elegant and festal air; the part allotted to the dancers being fenced off by a gilded lattice-work, and ornamented beautifully from the upper part with drooping festoons of flowers. The dresses of the ladies were, as usual on such occasions, conspicuously rich and in itself, of all the scenes which this world offers, none is to me so profoundly interesting, none (I say deliberately) so affecting, as the spectacle of men and women floating through the mazes of a dance; under these conditions, however, that the music shall be rich and festal, the execution of the dancers perfect, and the dance itself of a character to admit of free, fluent, and continuous motion. But this last condition will be sought in vain in the disgusting quadrilles, &c. which have for so many years banished the truly beautiful country-dances native to England. Those whose taste and sensibility were so defective as to substitute for the beautiful in dancing the merely difficult, were sure, in the end, to transfer the depravations of this art from the Opera House to the floors of private ball-rooms. The tendencies even then were in that direction; but as yet they had not attained their final stage and the English country-dance* was still in estima
* This word, I am well aware, grew out of the French word contredanse; indicating the regular contraposition of male and female partners in the first arrangement of the dancers. The word country-dance was therefore originally a corruption; but, having once arisen and taken root in the language, it is far better to retain it in its colloquial form: better, I mean, on the general principle concerned in such cases. For it is, in fact, by such corruptions, by offsets upon an old stock, arising through ignorance or mispronunciation originally, that every language is frequently enriched; and new modifications of thought, unfolding themselves in the progress of society, generate for themselves concurrently appropriate expressions. Many words in the Latin can be pointed out as having passed through this process. The English word property,
tion at the courts of princes. Now of all dances, this is the only one, as a class, of which you can truly describe the motion to be continuous, that is, not interrupted, or fitful, but unfolding its fine mazes with the equability of light, in its diffusion through free space. And wherever the music happens to be not of a light, trivial character, but charged with the spirit of festal pleasure, and the performers in the dance so far skilful as to betray no awkwardness verging on the ludicrous, I believe that many people feel as I feel in such circumstances, viz., derive from the spectacle the very grandest form of passionate sadness which can belong to any spectacle whatsoever. Sadness is not the exact word; nor is there any word in
arose (according to a great authority) in this way out of propriety; i. e. the Latin idea of proprietas, split off into a secondary sense, to which it had long tended; whilst by a drawing back of accent from the second syllable to the first, and a melting of the two middle syllables into one, (forming proprety, finally euphonized into property,) this secondary sense, hitherto liable to an ambiguity from the too wide and generic meaning of propriety, thus gained a separate and specific word; and the original stock, on which the corruption had arisen, at the same time became disposable for a more specific limitation of its meaning than before. Without dwelling, however, on this particular illustration, what I am here taking occasion to insist on, is the general principle, that in every language it must not be allowed to weigh against the validity of a word once fairly naturalized by use, that originally it crept in upon an abuse or a corruption. Prescription is as strong a ground of legitimation in a case of this nature as it is in law. And the old axiom is applicable - Fieri non debuit, factum valet. Were it otherwise, languages would be robbed of much of their wealth. And, universally, the class of purists, in matters of language, are liable to grievous suspicion, as almost constantly proceeding on half knowledge, and on insufficient principles. For example, if I have read one, I have read twenty letters, addressed to newspapers, denouncing the name of a great quarter in London, Maryle-bone, as ludicrously ungrammatical. The writers had learned, or were learning French; and they had thus become aware, that neither the article nor the adjective were right. True: but, for want of blackletter French, they did not know that in our Chaucer's time both were right. Le was then the article feminine as well as masculine.
any language [because none in the finest languages] which exactly expresses the state; since it is not a depressing, but a most elevating state to which I allude. And, certainly, people of the dullest minds can understand, that many states of pleasure, and in particular the highest, are the most of all removed from merriment, or from the ludicrous. The day on which a Roman triumphed was the most gladsome day of his existence; it was the crown and consummation of his prosperity; yet assuredly it was also to him the most solemn of his days. Festal music, of a rich and passionate character, is the most remote of any from vulgar hilarity. Its very gladness and pomp is impregnated with sadness; but sadness of a grand and aspiring order. Let, for instance, (since without individual illustrations there is the greatest risk of being misunderstood,) any person of musical sensibility listen to the exquisite music composed by Beethoven, as an opening for Bürger's Lenore, the running idea of which is the triumphal return of a crusading host, decorated with laurels and with palms, within the gates of their native city; and then say whether the presiding feeling, in the midst of this tumultuous festivity, be not, by infinite degrees, transcendent to any thing so vulgar as mere hilarity. In fact, laughter itself is of an equivocal nature; as the organ of the ludicrous, laughter is allied to the trivial and the ignoble as the organ of joy, it is allied to the passionate and the noble. From all which the reader may comprehend, if he should not happen experimentally to have felt, that a spectacle of young men and women, flowing through the mazes of an intricate dance under a full volume of music, taken with all the circumstantial adjuncts of such a scene in rich men's halls; the blaze of lights and jewels, the life, the motion, the sea-like undulation of heads, the interweaving of the figures, the araxv