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Vaughan’s Poems
by [?]

“Aut sicuti nigrum
Ilicibus crebris sacra nemus accubat umbra,”

as an instance of the poetical transformation. All that was merely actual or informative might have been given in the words sicuti nemus, but fantasy sets to work, and videte, per quas pulchritudines, nemus depinxit; addens ACCUBAT, ET NIGRUM crebris ilicibus et SACRA UMBRA! quam ob rem, recte Pontanus dicebat, finem esse poetae, apposite dicere ad admirationem, simpliciter, et per universalem bene dicendi ideam. This is what we call the beau ideal, or {kat’ exochen} the ideal–what Bacon describes as “a more ample greatness, a more exact goodness, and a more absolute variety than can be found in the nature of things, the world being in proportion inferior to the soul, and the exhibition of which doth raise and erect the mind by submitting the shows of things to the desires of the mind.” It is “the wondrous and goodly paterne” of which Spenser sings in his “Hymne in honour of Beautie:”–

“What time this world’s great Workmaister did cast
To make al things such as we now behold,
It seems that he before his eyes had plast
A goodly Paterne, to whose perfect mould
He fashioned them, as comely as he could,
That now so faire and seemly they appeare,
As nought may be amended any wheare.

“That wondrous Paterne wheresoere it bee,
Whether in earth layd up in secret store,
Or else in heaven, that no man may it see
With sinfull eyes, for feare it to deflore,
Is perfect Beautie, which all men adore–
That is the thing that giveth pleasant grace
To all things fair.

“For through infusion of celestial powre
The duller earth it quickneth with delight,
And life-full spirits privily doth powre
Through all the parts, that to the looker’s sight
They seeme to please.”

It is that “loveliness” which Mr. Ruskin calls “the signature of God on his works,” the dazzling printings of His fingers, and to the unfolding of which he has devoted, with so much of the highest philosophy and eloquence, a great part of the second volume of “Modern Painters.”

But we are as bad as Mr. Coleridge, and are defrauding our readers of their fruits and flowers, their peaches and lilies.

Henry Vaughan, “Silurist,” as he was called, from his being born in South Wales, the country of the Silures, was sprung from one of the most ancient and noble families of the Principality. Two of his ancestors, Sir Roger Vaughan and Sir David Gam, fell at Agincourt. It is said that Shakspeare visited Scethrog, the family castle in Brecknockshire; and Malone guesses that it was when there that he fell in with the word “Puck.” Near Scethrog, there is Cwn-Pooky, or Pwcca, the Goblin’s valley, which belonged to the Vaughans; and Crofton Croker gives, in his Fairy Legends, a fac-simile of a portrait, drawn by a Welsh peasant, of a Pwcca, which (whom?) he himself had seen sitting on a milestone,[2] by the roadside, in the early morning, a very unlikely personage, one would think, to say,–

“I go, I go; look how I go;
Swifter than arrow from the Tartar’s bow.”

Footnote [2]:

We confess to being considerably affected when we look at this odd little fellow, as he sits there with his innocent upturned toes, and a certain forlorn dignity and meek sadness, as of “one who once had wings.” What is he? and whence? Is he a surface or a substance? is he smooth and warm? is he glossy, like a blackberry? or has he on him “the raven down of darkness,” like an unfledged chick of night? and if we smoothed him, would he smile? Does that large eye wink? and is it a hole through to the other side? (whatever that may be;) and is that a small crescent moon of darkness swimming in its disc? or does the eye disclose a bright light from within, where his soul sits and enjoys bright day? Is he a point of admiration whose head is too heavy, or a quaver or crotchet that has lost his neighbors, and fallen out of the scale? Is he an aspiring Tadpole in search of an idea? What have been and what will be the fortunes of this our small Nigel (
Nigellus)? Think of “Elia” having him sent up from the Goblin Valley, packed in wool, and finding him lively! how he and “Mary” would doat upon him, feeding him upon some celestial, unspeakable pap, “sweeter than the lids of Juno’s eyes, or Cytherea’s breath.” How the brother and sister would croon over him “with murmurs made to bless,” calling him their “tender novice” “in the first bloom of his nigritude,” their belated straggler from the “rear of darkness thin,” their little night-shade, not deadly, their infantile Will-o’-the-wisp caught before his sins, their “poor Blot,” “their innocent Blackness,” their “dim Speck.”