Page:Shelley, a poem, with other writings (Thomson, Debell).djvu/39

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SHELLEY.

abstract with destiny, the spirit refuses to be analysed into thought and passion, being the identity of the two. Morally, he is indeed sainted. Never yet did man thrill and glow with more love of his fellows, more self-sacrificing sympathy with all life, more hatred of fraud and cruelty—yet hatred interfused with the tenderest pity, more noble independence, candour, and intrepidity, more devoted reverence for goodness and truth. In what is understood by the present age as a truly Christian spirit, he bears comparison with the holiest of Christians. The creeds, the rituals, the ceremonies—those media which common men require to temper the else intolerable splendour of divine truth,—he did not need: his eagle eye could gaze unblenching upon the cloudless sun. And his life incarnated his poetry. He was his own Prometheus. That fatal per contra with which Emerson is obliged to conclude his magnificent summary of Shakespeare, cannot be urged against Shelley. He perceived—who better?—the symbolism of the visible world; he appreciated—who more rapturously?—its divine beauty; but he did not rest here: he lived higher to the beauty of that which is symbolised, to the beauty of that which is called "of holiness," to the laws of that realm which is eternal. He was not "master of the revels to mankind," but prophet and preacher. His music was as the harping of David to charm away the evil spirit from Saul.

And thus we have crossed the threshold of our last inquiry, is he entitled, in a high sense, to be called inspired? That he was a singer who sang songs beautiful, wise, and pure, may be affirmed of many a poet, though of no two with the same emphasis. What is it then which differentiates him from the second-class