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minds are poetic–in the sense of being recipient of poetry. If there were no poetic apprehension in the souls of men, where would the forgetive poet find an audience ? Am I to be told that beautiful scenery put into words will affect men whom the scenery itself would not affect ? Doubtless the poet has a power over nature and the lovers of nature, and can by a single lyric make the scene more magical ; but he would have no universal influence were there not a universal love of beauty-a love which it is his function to encourage and guide. A man entirely without poetic faculty may have poetic vision
-may obtain from lovely scenes ideas which he can by no means communicate. Such men are numerous, and are the poet's best auditory. Coleridge's famous cloud-sonnet is a case in point. You look at a sunset, and think it beautiful: let an imaginative friend indicate great cities around an ocean-bay, or village-dwellings with green lanes between, or vast forms of lions and rhinoceroses, and you follow him at once. His cloudy lions roar. There is odour of honeysuckle and murmur of rustic sweethearts in the villagelane There are crowds around an orator in the civic agora, while the great ships slowly furl their sails in the bay. Once you have found out the significance of a sunset, every sunset becomes a poem.
Now, while most emphatically asserting that in the soil and air of Lakeland there is something which tends to longevity, I maintain that the marvellous beauty of the country—so varied that Christopher North declared it a cabinet gallery of all conceivable natural pictures has a great deal to do with it. To the critic who gets his notions of nature from Royal Academy canvas, it may very well seem that the old Westmorland statesman derives no special pleasure from the silver light on
Winding Windermere, the river-lake,
or from the play of cloud on innumerable peaks and fells. But this is an error. They do not try to put their impressions into words. Why should they, not having to write for the papers ? But they enjoy all the same; they appreciate the changeful beauty which is so wondrous that during their eighty or ninety years of life the Omnipotent Artist has never given them a duplicate sunrise or sunset to look at. And in this, I say, they obtain lengthened lives.
Let me remark, in passing, that though supreme sunrises and sunsets are about equal in beauty, a supreme sunrise is more frequent than a supreme sunset. I often enjoy a sunrise just before going to bed.
THE INFLUENCE OF LAZINESS ON LONGEVITY.
O Idleness, enchanting Idleness !
I Am inclined to think that the laziest men live longest. By a lazy man I by no means mean a man who does no work, for the laziest men often do the most. And about such work as they manage to do in literature there is this to be remarked; it is usually terse and pregnant ; they are too lazy to dilute their ideas with a myriad words, in the style of the fashionable leader-writer.
Very few men know how to laze. The ordinary human being wants a friend to chaff or a girl to flirt with. Put him alone ... by which I mean far from people of his own class, in a fishing village on the coast or an agricultural bucolic village in shore ... and he will not have the remotest idea what to do with himself. He has neither innate resources nor external apprehension. But set a man who knows how to laze in either position. Take the fishing village. He will stroll down to the beach, and watch the sea, and by and by talk to some of the fishermen. He will listen to their talk, with its mixed flavour of brine and tar, and find out all about their wives and children, their histories and expectations. He will suffer himself to be carried to sea in their trawlers, and will watch the process of catching lobsters, and will eat the finest lobster caught for breakfast. And all the while an endless throng, an interminable procession of ideas will pass through his head ... ideas forgotten so soon as they arrive, but which have in their passage through the brain refreshed the spirit.