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in kind, no one better than another.” In regard to the soul's inherent possessions, its microcosmic potentialities, our poet teaches that
“Truth is within ourselves, it takes no rise
May not' truth be lodged alike in all,
Of mind, Browning asserts that “It is not matter, nor from matter, but from above"; it is "supernatural, but linked with, and even enslaved by, the natural.” Spirit may be overweighted with body, or spirit may lack in “ earthly ballast.” Man is many-natured; all faculties of his being have their rights,—the delights of sound, sight, touch, taste, beauty, reverie, imagination, poetic and spiritual ecstacy,—all help each, and each help all to the harmonious development of the complete man; so may the earth-man live the earth-life with due recognition of the spiritual nature ; and the spiritual man live the spiritual life with due recognition of the earthly nature. Browning emphasizes the “ value and significance of flesh.” Body is soul's tool, agent, medium, through which come man's experiences, it is soul's aid or hindrance and soul's shield and pleasure-house. And "pleasant is this flesh.” The joy of physical existence is jubilantly chanted in David's Song before Saul, ending with
“How good is man' life, the mere living!
How fit to employ
Forever in joy!”
assumes that this is an expression of the poet's experience of the glory of the flesh. Browning is an example of the fullest physical life and (past his seventieth year) possesses mind and body in a magnificent vigor.”
“Let us not always say, “spite of this flesh I strove, made head, gained ground upon the whole!! As the bird wings and sings let us cry; "all good things are ours, nor soul helps flesh more, now, than flesh helps soul.'”
This world is interesting to Browning as being man's dwellingplace and school. He mourns that “too much, life here has been walled about with disgrace.” He insists on the “sanctity of things near”; he would have man, a man while here; with all his heart and soul throwing himself on the present." " Wait for some transcendent life reserved by Fate, to follow this? O! never !” Life here and now, gives ample opportunity for all manly, brave and beneficent beginnings. It is “ no mean stage, too narrow for our wide performance”; we are too little to enact the parts we are able to conceive. “Where is the man who has shown himself too great for earth and human life, with its many and complex needs ? ”
A noble conception of life's consummation should save from contempt its beginning. Earthly experiences are not simply to be tolerated, endured,—they are to be dignified; and, as “God joys in the uncouth joy of the incomplete world, so man may take a pleasure in his
“Half-reasons, faint aspiring, dim
Man's concern is with to-day. To live overmuch in the future is to sacrifice the present, and so peril that future;
as unwise as “to wear
furry garments in Italy, in preparation for a residence in Russia.' Man loses the joy that belongs to the physical when he attempts to discount the delights of the spiritual.
Our poet enjoins to be satisfied with earth's knowledge, experience, and insights, leaving for the next life the lessons that can be learned there only. “ It is not for man to snatch fire from heaven. Earthly lamps, and so much fire as sun vouchsafes, he may have to walk by.”
The Grammarian postponed his earthly happiness waiting for full knowledge ; and they buried him, earth's joys untasted. Cleon drained this life's full cup; and they buried him, the wine of the spirit untasted. Lazarus, dazed by premature sight of heavenly glories, walked earth as in a dream, “eternity's concern thrust into time,”“the faultier, that he knew God's secret while he held the thread of life.” Amphibian unites both lives within himself, the physical and the spiritual, in complete concord and mutual subservience. “He lives and likes life's way,” and can also “leave the land and swim in the sphere which overbrims,”—“ where, just unable to fly, one swims, gives flesh such noon-disport, as a finer element affords the spirit sort." And what is this life's
e ? “ To learn earth first, discover Will, Power, and Love below, then seek law's confirmation above." On earth begins man's spiritual evolution. This is not a world of finalities. The perfect life of the spirit is not attainable here, and the absolute religious truth is not attainable here. Man's approximations to absolute truth, his creeds and formulations are as tabernacles-never homes. Every living soul outgrows the spiritual house it has builded,
its successive shelters being but for a nights tarry on the journey of many stops and many starts, and no arrival.
And “what, if life, be just our one chance o' the prize of learning love, how love might be, hath been indeed, and is ";—“how love is the only good in the world; and learning to love through human fellowship" man's greatest joy; and loving service for his brother, man's highest privilege. “With Browning it is ever, love first, all things for love.” Emerson said, “ It is the wail of the nineteenth century, missing the end of life which is love." “Without love, this beamy world were a blank,-a frame-work lacking a picture,-a bower of roses with naught to embower ;-breathe but one breath of love, all is rose beauty above, and all that was death grows life, grows love,
greatens and glorifies, till God's aglow, to the loving eyes, in what was mere earth before."
Though love be the highest aim of life, Browning teaches that it is not the only aim. Aprile's life was all for love. He had the reward of more love, and of being loved. But life's summing up was barren, incomplete, a failure, for, while love abounded, knowledge was lacking. Paracelsus's aim was to know. For this he broke with law, e'en with the law of love." He had the reward of much knowledge, the praise and wonder of men; but life's summing up was incomplete, barren, a failure, for, while knowledge abounded love was lacking, Sordello loved men only less than self, he would rule them, partly for their good, partly for his own glory. He had the reward of mixed aims; striving to grasp too much, he lost all. Success eluded, for his eye was not single.
Hear the sentence passed upon one whose aims centered in sense, earth and time. “Thou art shut out of the heaven of spirit, glut thy sense upon the world; 'tis thine forever take it.” And the selfabsorded life, is pictured as “one vast, red, drear, burnt-up plain," frightful in its loneliness, empty even of shadows and echoing silences, The tragedy of mistaken aims, is musically told in the poem, "Over the sea our galleys went”; “The sad rhyme of the men who proudly clung to their first fault," and in their wilfulness bestowed their precious freight, the sculpture of their lives, on barren isle. And not less tragic, the presumptuous aim. Paracelsus believed himself peculiarly God favored, set apart for the discovery of the hidden. He sets forth on his mission, to "gather the sacred knowledge here and there dispersed about the world, to discover the true laws by which flesh bars in the spirit,” full of magnificient confidence, he goes to prove his soul. “I shall arrive! In His good time! He guides me and the bird !” but “all gorgeous dreams were born to vanish. “Thus was life scorned," by one who “abode not within his warrant, but presumptuous boasted God's labor laid on him." Ascend the tower reared by Protus to self-culture, self-enjoyment, self-aggrandizement; "builded in hope of some eventual rest atop, a calm within the finite.' “The tumult of the building hushed, the first of men looks toward He sees the wider but to sigh the more.
The soul craves all, and still the flesh replies, 'take no jot more than ere you climbed the tower to look abroad.' Alas! most progress is most failure."
And shall action wait until the perfect aim present itself? “To live and learn, not first learn and then live, is our concern; to act
to-day, learning thereby to act tomorrow.” To tarry for fullness of love, or completeness of knowledge, or perfection in aim, is to “see never the time and the place." This is life's business; with to-day's rude tool, and to-day's awkward hand, to do to-day's common task. To-morrow brings the sharper tool, the nimbler hand, and the grander work.
Browning has little patience with the inert, the supine, the procrastinating. He has all patience with crudity in the statue, coarseness in the picture, unripeness in the thought, clumsiness in the deed, so these be the expression of the artificer's highest ideal. " Trusting his feeble, fullest sense,” he would have “man contend to the uttermost for his life's set prize, be it what it will ; for the sin of each frustrate ghost is the unlit lamp and the ungirt lion.” “So shall the soul declare itself by its fruit, by the thing it does ;-be hate that fruit, or love that fruit, it forwards the general deed of man; and each of the many helps to recruit the life of the race by a general plan ; each living his own to boot.” Thus man works his proper nature out and ascertains his rank and final place.,"
“So, all men strive and who succeeds ?
“Yet, the will's somewhat !” “A mans reach should be beyond his grasp ”; and, “if this life gave all, what were there to look forward to?” Earth is the place for attempt—"anon performance.” And this “ stops my despair. 'Tis not what man does that exalts him, but what man would do.” “What I aspire to be, and was not, comforts me; a brute I might have been, but would not sink if the scale.” “And so, “I live, go through the world, try, prove, reject, prefer, still struggling to effect my warfare? happy that I can be crossed and thwarted as a man; not left in God's contempt apart, with ghastly smooth life, dead at heart.”
Who shall say of his fellow, "he has failed ?”