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never learned the art of doing little things with grace; he overlooked the milder excellence of suavity and softness ; he was a lion that had no skill in dangling a kid.” Most of his shorter poems are eminently graceful; and the two to which we are now making reference excel in this attribute. The object of the poem is to show how the mind colours all things, how prompt it is to select those objects which most flatter its particular state—to both the melancholy or contemplative man Il Penseroso, and to the mirthful or active man L'Allegro. The same fields, the same world spreads itself,—but the different minds seize on different times, different spots, and associate with even the same places widely different ideas ; —they are a sort of commentary on the well-known lines of Shakspeare.
“On how this spring of love resembleth
Th' uncertain glory of an April day,
And by-and-bye a cloud takes all away."
The cheerful man rises with the lark in the morning, and steps forth into the fields. The sun is just beginning his stately march ; the cocks are crowing, as if to scatter the remaining mists of darkness; human employments and
labours are now beginning; the shepherd counts his sheep, under the old hawthorn in the dell, to see if any have strayed during the night; the milkmaid comes abroad with her pails, and the mower whets his scythe in the hayfield; while over the hills is heard the cheerful echo of the huntsmen's horns and hounds,—these are the delights of the cheerful man
“ To hear the lark begin his flight
And singing, startle the dull night,
Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures,
Where perhaps some beauty lies,
What a picture is presented in the following stanzas :
“ Hard by, a cottage chimney smokes,
From betwixt two aged oaks,
The cheerful man continues his walk through the day; he delights to hear the peal of the merry bells, of the jocund rebeck on the village green; he delights to watch the village youth dancing beneath the shade, when the young and the old come forth to make the blithe holiday; he delights to see the spicy nutbrown ale circling round the board, to hear the stories told of the strange feats of fairies, and the wonderful doings, especially of that ancient frolicsome elf, Robin Goodfellow; he listens to these tales, till frighted all creep to their beds, and are lulled to sleep by the whistling winds.
The cheerful man delights in the life of cities, in the busy hum of men, in the throng of courts, where knights and barons mingle in the gentle contentions of peace ; the gay scenery of the masque pleases him ; the pomp, and feast, and ancient pageantry; he does not altogether scorn the theatre, if “ Jonson's learned sock be on," or "sweetest Shakspeare”
“ Warble his native wood-notes wild.”
The cheerful man delights in music, in “soft Lydian airs”—
“In notes, with many a winding bout
Of linked sweetness long drawn out,
All the elements of this exquisite cheerfulness, it should be noticed, are derived from virtuous enjoyments. Cowley, or any of the other poets of that age, would have given very different colours to the merry men of their fancy; but there is a dignity and propriety in every source of enjoyment, in the
“Sport that wrinkled Care derides,
And Laughter holding both his sides;"