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These we must rather strengthen ourselves to resist, or bow
quietly and drily down, in order to let them pass over us, as the
traveller does the wind of the desert. But where we feel that
tears would relieve us, it is false philosophy to deny ourselves
at least that first refreshment ; and it is always false consolation
to tell people that because they cannot help a thing, they are
not to mind it. The true way is, to let them grapple with the
unavoidable sorrow, and try to win it into gentleness by a
reasonable yielding. There are griefs so gentle in their very
nature, that it would be worse than false heroism to refuse them
a tear. Of this kind are the deaths of infants. Particular
circumstances may render it more or less advisable to indulge
in grief for the loss of a little child ; but, in general, parents
should be no more advised to repress their first tears on such
an occasion, than to repress their smiles towards a child surviving,
or to indulge in any other sympathy. It is an appeal to the same
gentle tenderness : and such appeals are never made in vain.
The end of them is an acquittal from the harsher bonds of affliction
— from the tying down of the spirit to one melancholy idea.


It is the nature of tears of this kind, however strongly they
may gush forth, to run into quiet waters at last. We cannot
easily, for the whole course of our lives, think with pain of any
good and kind person whom we have lost. It is the divine
nature of their qualities to conquer pain and death itself: to
turn the memory of them into pleasure ; to survive with a placid
aspect in our imaginations. We are writing at this moment
just opposite a spot which contains the grave of one inexpressi-
bly dear to us. We see from our window the trees about it, and
the church spire. The green fields lie around. The clouds
are travelling over-head, alternately taking away the sunshine
and restoring it. The vernal winds, piping of the flowery sum-
. mer-time, are nevertheless calling to mind the far-distant and
dangerous ocean, which the heart that lies in that grave had
many reasons to think of. And yet the sight of this spot does
not give us pain. So far from it, it is the existence of that grave
which doubles every charm of the spot ; -which links the plea-
sures of our childhood and manhood together ; which puts a
hushing tenderness in the winds, and a patient joy upon the
landscape ; which seems to unite heaven and earth, mortality
and immortality, the grass of the tomb and th6 grassof the green
field : and gives a more maternal aspect to the whole kindness of
nature. It does not hinder gaiety itself. Happiness was what
its tenant, through all her troubles, would have diffused. To
diffuse happiness and to enjoy it, is not only carrying on her
wishes, but realizing her hopes ; and gaiety, freed from its only
pollutions, malignity and want of sympathy, is but a child play,
ing about the knees of its mother.

The remembered innocence and endearments of a child stand
us instead of virtues that have died older. Children have not
exercised the voluntary offices of friendship ; they have not
chosen to be kind and good to us ; nor stood by us, from con-
scious will, in the hour of adversity. But they have shared
their pleasures and pains with us as well as they could ; the
interchange of good offices between us has, of necessity, been
less mingled with the troubles of the world ; the sorrow arisino-
from their death is the only one which we can associate with
their memories. These are happy thoughts that cannot die.

184 ■ THE INDICATOR. [chap, xxxii.

Our loss may always render them pensive ; but they will not
always be painful. It is a- part ef the benignity of Nature that
pain does not survive like pleasure, at any time, much less
where the cause of it is an innocent one. The smile will
remain reflected by memory, as the moon reflects the light upon
us when the sun has gone into heaven.

When writers like ourselves quarrel with earthly pain (we '
mean writers of the same intentions, without implying, of course,
anything about abilities or otherwise), they are misunderstood,
if they are supposed to quarrel with pains of every sort. This
would be idle and efl*eminate. They do not pretend, indeed, that
humanity might not wish, if it could, to be entirely free from
pain : for it endeavors, at all times, to turn pain into pleasure :
or at least to set oflf the one with the other, to make the former
a zest and the latter a refresliment. The most unaffected dig-
nity of suffering does this, and, if wise, acknowledges it. The
greatest benevolence towards others, the most unselfish relish of
their pleasures, even at its own expense, does but look to
increasing the genei-al stock of happiness, though content, if it
could, to have its identity swallowed up in that splendid contem-
plation. We are far from meaning that this is to be called self-
ishness. We are far,, indeed, from thinking so, or of so con-
founding words. But neither is it to be called pain when most
unselfish, if disinterestedness be truly understood. The pain
that is in it softens into pleasure, as the darker hue of the rain-
bow melts into the brighter. Yet even if a harsher line is to be
drawn between the pain and pleasure of the most unselfish mind
(and ill-health, for instance, may draw it), we should not quar-
rel with it if it contributed to the general mass of comfort, and
were of a nature which general kindliness could not avoid.
Made as we are, there are certain pains without which it would
be difficult to conceive certain great and overbalancing plea-
sures. We may conceive it possible for beings to be made
entirely hr.ppy ; but in our composition something of pain seems
to be a necessary ingredient, in order tliat the materials may
turn to as fine account as possible, though our clay, in the
cburse of ages and experience, may be refined more and more.
We may get rid of the worst earth, though not of earth itself.


Now the liability to the loss of children — or rather what ren-
ders us sensible of it, the occasional loss itself — seems to be one
of these necessary bitters thrown into the cup of humanity. We
do not mean that every one must lose one of his children in order
to enjoy the rest ; or that every individual loss afflicts us in the
same proportion. We allude to the deaths of infants in general.
These might be as few .as we could render them. But if none
at all ever took place, we should regard every little child as a
man or woman secured ; and it will easily be conceived what a
world of endearing cares and hopes this security would endan-
ger. The very idea of infancy would lose its continuity with
us. Girls and boys would be future men and women, not pre-
sent children. They would have attained their full growth in
our imaginations, and might as well have been men and women
at once. On the other hand, those who have lost an infant, are
never, as it were, without an infant child. They are the only
persons who, in one sense, retain it always, and they furnish their
neighbors with the same idea.* The other children grow up to
manhood and womanhood, and suffer all the changes of mortal-
ity. This one alone is rendered an immortal child. Death has
arrested it with his kindly harshness, and blessed it into an eter-
nal image of youth and innocence.

Of such as these are the pleasantest shapes that visit our fan-
cy and hopes. They are the ever-smiling emblems of joy ; the
prettiest pages that wait upon imaging,tion. Lastly, " Of tliese
are the kingdom of heaven." Wherever there is a province of
that benevolent and all-accessible empire, whether on earth or
elsewhere, such are the gentle spirits that must inhabit it. To
such simplicity, or the resemblance of it, must they come. Such
must be the ready confidence of their hearts, and creativcness of
their fancy. And so ignorant must they be of the " knowledge
of good and evil," losing their discernment of that self-created
trouble, by enjoying the garden before them, and not being
ashamed of what is kindly and innocent.

" I sighed," says old Captnin Dalton, " when I envied you the two bonnie
children ; but I sigh not now to call eithei\the monk or the soldier mine
own. — Monastery, vol. iii. p. 341.

186 . THE INDICATOR. [chap, xxxin


Poetical Anomalies of Shape.

It is not one of the least instances of the force of habit to see
how poetry and mythology can reconcile us to shapes, or rather
combinations of shape, unlike anything in nature. The dog-
headed deities of the Egyptians Avere doubtless not so monstrous
in their eyes as in ours. The Centaurs of the Greeks, as Ovid
has shown us, could be imagined possessing beauty enough for a
human love story ; and our imaginations find nothing at all
monstrous in the idea of an angel, though it partakes of the na-
ture of the bird. The angel, it is true, is the least departure
from humanity. Its wings are not an alteration of the human
shape, but an addition to it. Yet, leaving a more awful wonder
out of the question, we should be startled to find pinions growing
out of the shoulder-blades of a child ; and we should wait with
anxiety to see of what nature the pinions were, till we became
reconciled to them. If they turned out to be ribbed and webbed,
like those of the imaginary dragon, conceive the horror ! If, on
the other hand, they became feathers, and tapered oft', like those
of a gigantic bird, combining also grace and splendor, as well
as the power of flight, we can hardly fancy ourselves reconcilec
to them. And yet again, on the other hand, the flying women,
described in the Adventures of Peter Wilkins, do not shock us,
though their wings partake of the ribbed and webbed nature,
and not at all of the feathered. We admire. Peter's gentle and
beautiful bride, notwithstanding the phenomenon of the graundee,
its liglit whalebone-like intersections, and its power of dropping
about her like drapery. It even becomes a matter of pleasant
curiosity. We find it not at all in the way. We can readily
appreliend the delight he felt at possessing a ci'eature so kind


and sensitive ; and can sympathize with him in the happiness of
that bridal evening, equally removed from prudery and gross-
ness, which he describes with a mixture of sentiment and volup-
tuousness beyond all the bridals we ever read.

To imagine anything like a sympathy of this kind, it is of
course necessary that the difference of form should consist in
addition, and not in alteration. But the un-angel-like texture
of the flying apparatus of fair Youwarkee (such, if we remem-
ber, is her name) helps to show us the main reason why we are
able to receive pleasure from the histories of creatures only half-
Imman. The habit of reading prevents the first shock ; but we
are reconciled in proportion to their possession of what we are
pleased to call human qualities. Kindness is the great elevator.
The Centaurs may have killed all the Lapithse, and shown con-
siderable generalship to boot, without reconciling us to the brute
part of them ; but the brutality melts away before the story of
their two lovers in Ovid. Drunkenness and rapine made beasts
of them ; — sentiment makes human beings. Polyphemus in
-Homer is a shocking monster, not because he has only one eye,
but because he murders and eats our fellow-creatures. But in
Theocritus, where he is Galatea's lover, and sits hopelessly la-
menting his passion, we only pity him. His deformity even in-
creases our pity. We blink the question of beauty, and become
one-eyed for his sake. Nature seems to do him an injustice in
gifting him with sympathies so human, and at the same time
prevent them from being answered ; and we feel impatient with
the all-beautiful Galatea, if we think she ever showed him scorn
as well as unwillingness. We insist upon her avoiding him with
the greatest possible respect.

These fictions of the poets, therefore, besides the mere excite-
ment which they give the imagination, assist remotely to break
the averseness and uncharitableness of human pride. And they
may blunt the point of some fancies that are' apt to come upon
melancholy minds. When S^r Thomas Brown, in the infinite
range of his metaphysical optics, turned his glass, as he no
doubt often did, towards the inhabitants of other worlds, the sto-
ries of angels and Centaurs would help his imaginative good-


188 THE INDICATOR. [chap, xxxiii.

nature to a more willing conception of creatures in other planets
unlike those on earth : to other " lords of creation ;" and other,
and perhaps nobler humanities, noble in spirit, though different
in form. If indeed there can be anything in the starry end-
lessness of existence, nobler than what we can conceive of love
and generosity.



Spring and Daisies.

Spring, while we are writing, is complete. The winds have done
their work. The shaken air, well tempered and equalised, has
subsided ; the genial rains, however thickly they may come, do
not saturate the ground, beyond the power of the sun to dry it
up again. There are clear crystal mornings ; noons of blue
sky and white cloud ; nights, in which the growing moon seems
to lie looking at the stars, like a young shepherdess at her flock.
A few days ago she lay gazing in this manner at the solitary
evening star, like Diana, on the slope of a valley, looking up at
Endymion. His young eye seemed to sparkle out upon the
world ; while she, bending inwards, her hands behind her head,
watched him with an enamored dumbness.

But this is the quiet of Spring. Its voices and swift move-
ments have come back also. The swallow shoots by us, like an
embodied ardor of the season. The glowing bee has his will of
the honied flowers, grappling with them as they tremble. We
have not yet heard the nightingale or the cuckoo ; but we can
hear them with our imagination, and enjoy them through the
content of those who have.

Then the young green. This is the most apt and perfect
mark of the season, — the true issuing forth of the Spring. The
trees and bushes are putting forth their crisp fans ; the lilac is
loaded with bud ; the meadows are thick with the bright young
grass, running into sweeps of white and gold with the daisies and
buttercups. The orchards announce their riches, in a shower
of silver blossoms. The earth in fertile woods is spread with
yellow and blue carpets of primroses, violets, and hyacinths,
over which the birch-trees, like stooping nymphs, hang with their
thickening hair. Lilies-of-the-valley, stocks, columbines, lady-

190 THE INDICATaR. [chap, xxxiv.

smocks, and the intensely rail piony which seems to anticipate
the full glow of summer-time, all come out to wait upon the sea-
son, like fairies from their subterraneous palaces.

Who is to wonder that the idea of love mingles itself with that
of this cheerful and kind time of the year, setting aside even
common associations ? It is not only its youth, and beauty, and
budding life, and the " passion of the groves," that exclaim with
the poet,

Let those love now, who never loved before ;
And those who always loved, now love the more.*

All our kindly impulses are apt to have more sentiment in them,
than the world suspect ; and it is by fetching out this sentiment,
and making it the ruling association, that we exalt the impulse
into generosity and refinement, instead of degrading it, as is too
much the case, into what is selfish, and coarse, and pollutes all
our systems. One of the greatest inspirers of love is gratitude, —
not merely on its common grounds, but gratitude for pleasures,
whether consciously or unconsciously conferred. Thus we are
thankful for the delight given us by a kind and sincere face ;
and if we fall in love with it, one great reason is, that we long
to return what we have received The same feeling has a con-
siderable influence in the love that has been felt for men of
talents, whose person or address have not been much calculated
to inspire it. In spring-time joy awakens the heart ; with joy,
awakes gratitude and nature ; and in our gratitude, we return,
on its own principle of participation, the love that has been shown

This association of ideas renders solitude in spring, and soli-
tude in winter, two very different things. In the latter, we are
better content to bear the feelings of the season by ourselves : in
the former they are so sweet as well as so overflowing, that we
long to share them. Shakspeare, in one of his sonnets, describes
himself as so identifying the beauties of the Spring with the
thought of his absent mistress, that he says he forgot them in
their own character, and played with them only as with her

• Pervigilium Veneris— T ArnelVs translation.


shadow. See how exquisitely he turns a common-place into this
fancy ; and what a noble brief portrait of April he gives us at
the beginning. There is indeed a wonderful mixture of softness
and strength in almost every one of the lines.

From you have I been absent in the spring

When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim,

Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing ;

That heavy Saturn laughed and leaped with him.

Yet not the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell

Of different flowers in odor and in hue.

Could make me any summer's story tell,

Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew,

Nor did I wonder at the lilies white.

Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose :

They were but sweet, but patterns of delight,

Drawn after you, you pattern of all those.

Yet seemed it winter still ; and, you away.

As with your shadow, I with these did play.

Shakspeare was fond of alluding to April. He did not allow
May to have all his regard, because she was richer. Perdita,
crowned with flowers, in the Winter's Tale, is beautifully com-
pared to

Peering in April's front.

There is a line in one of his sonnets, which, agreeably to the
image he had in his mind, seems to strike up in one's face, hot
and odorous, like perfume in a censer.

In process of the seasons have I seen

Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burned.

His allusions to Spring are numerous in proportion. We all
know the song, containing that fine line, fresh from the most
brilliant of palettes :

When daisies pied, and violets blue.
And lady-smocks all silver white.
And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue.
Do paint the meadtws with delight.

192 THE INDICATOR. [chap, xxxiv.

We owe a long debt of gratitude to the daisy ; and we take
this opportunity of discharging a millionth part of it. If we
undertook to pay it all, we should have had to write such a book,
as is never very likely to be written, — a journal of numberless
happy hours in childhood, kept with the feelings of an infant and
the pen of a man. For it would take, we suspect, a depth of
delight and a subtlety of words, to express even the vague joy
of infancy, such as our learned departures from natural wisdom
would find it more difficult to put together, than criticism and
comfort, or an old palate and a young relish. — But knowledge
is the widening and the brightening road that must conduct us
back to the joys from which it led us ; and which it is destined
perhaps to secure and extend. We must not quarrel with its
asperities, when we can help. ^S

We do not know the Greek name of the daisy, nor do the dic-
tionaries inform us ; and we are not at present in the way of con-
sulting books that might. We always like to see what the
Greeks say to these things, because they had a sentiment in their
enjoyments. The Latins called the daisy Bellis or Bellus, as
much as to say Nice One. With the French and Italians it has
the same name as a Pearl, — Marguerite, Margarita, or, by way
of endearment, Margheretina.* The same word was the name
of a woman, and occasioned infinite intermixtures of compliment
about pearls, daisies, and fair mistresses. Chaucer, in his
beautiful poem of the Flower and the Leaf, which is evidently
imitated from some French poetess, says.

And at the laste there began anon

A lady for to sing right womanly

A bargaretf in praising the daisie.

For as me thought among her notes sweet,

She said " Si douset est la Margarete."

''Ihe Margaret is so sweet." Our Margaret, however, in this
allegorical poem, is undervalued in comparison with the laurel ;

* This word is originally Greek, — Margarites ; and as the Franks proba
bly brought it from Constantinople, perhaps they brought its association
with the daisy also.

t Bargaret, Bergerette, a little pastoral


yet Chaucer perhaps was partly induced to translate it on ac-
count of its making the figure that it does ; for he has informed
us more than once, in a very particular manner, that it was his
favorite flower. There is an interesting passage to this effect in
his Legend of the Good Women ; where he says, that nothing
but the daisied fields in spring could take him from his books.

And as for me, though that I can but lite*

On bookes for to read "I me delight,

And to hem give I faith and full credence.

And in my heart have hem in reverence,

So heartily, that there is game none.

That from my bookes maketh me to gone.

But it be seldom, on the holy day;

Save certainly, when that the month of May

Is comen, and that I hear the foules sing.

And that the flowers ginnen for to spring.

Farewell my booke, and my devotion.

Now have I then eke this condition.

That of all the flowers in the mead.

Then love I most those flowers white and red.

Such that men callen daisies in our town.

To hem I have so great affection,

As I said erst, when comen is the May,

That in the bed there dawethf me no day.

That I nam up and walking in the mead.

To seen this flower agenst the sunne spread,

When it upriseth early by the morrow.

That blissful sight softeneth all my sorrow

So glad am I, when that I have presence

Of it, to done it all reverence.

As she that is of all flowers the flower.

He says that he finds it ever new, and that he shall love it till
his " heart dies :" and afterwards, with a natural picture of hia
resting on the grass,

Adown full soft^ley I gan to sink.
And leaning on my elbow and my side.
The long day I shopef me for to abide
For nothing else, and I shall not lie,
But for to look upon the daisie ;
That well by reason men it call may
The daisie, or else the eye of day.

• Know but little t Dawneth. % Shaped.

194 THE INDICATOR, [chap, xxxiv

This etymology, which we have no doubt is the real one, is
repeated by Ben Jonson, who takes occasion to spell the word
"days-eyes;" adding, with his usual tendency to overdo a
matter of learning,

Days-eyes, and the lippes of cows;

videlicet, cowslips : which is a disentanglement of compounds,
in the style of our pleasant parodists :

Puddings of the plum.

And fingers of the lady.

Mr. Wordsworth introduces his homage to the daisy with a
passage from George Wither ; which, as it is an old favorite of
ours, and extremely applicable both to this article and our whole
work, we cannot deny ourselves the pleasure of repeating. It
is the more interesting, inasmuch as it was written in prison,
where the freedom of the author's opinions had thrown him.*
He is speaking of his Muse, or Imagination.

Her divine skill taught me this ;
That from every thing I saw
I could some instruction draw,
And raise pleasure to the height
From the meanest object's sight.
By the murmur of a spring.
Or the least bough's rustelling ;
By a daisy, whose leaves spread
Shut, when Titan goes to bed ;
Or a shady bush or tree ;
She could more infuse in me.
Than all Nature's beauties can
Jn some other wiser man.

Mr. Wordsworth undertakes to patronise the Celandine, because
nobody else will notice it ; which is a good reason. But though
he tells us, in a startling piece of information, that

* It is not generally known that Chaucer was four years in prison, in his
old age, on the same account. He was a Wickliffite — one of the precursors
of the Reformation. His prison, doubtless, was no diminisher of his love
of the daisy.


Poets, vain men in their mood.
Travel with the multitude,

yet lie falls in with his old brethren of England and Normandy,
and becomes loyal to the daisy.

Be violets in their secret mews

The flowers the wanton Zephyrs chuse ;

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