Page images


No. XII.

Non est miserum esse cæcum; miserum est cocitatem non posse

ferre : Et sanè haud ultima Dei cura cæci sumus: Illos memorem,

vetustatis ultimæ priscos vates, ac sapientissimos.


Τυφλός ανήρ οικεί δε Χίω ενί σαιπαλοέσση.


It is not miserable to be blind; he only may be considered as miserable who cannot endure blindness with resignation.

To be blind, indeed, is to be placed more immediately under the providence of God.

I might record as instances, a few of the wisest and most ancient bards of antiquity.

Lo! the blind bard of Chio's rugged isle!

Of all the bodily deprivations to which man is subjected in his passage through this transitory

[blocks in formation]

life, perhaps the one which most renders him an object of commiseration, as placing him most entirely at the mercy of others, is the loss of sight. More especially do we feel the highest degree of interest mingled with our pity, where this misfortune has fallen to the lot of those who have been distinguished for their virtues and their talents, and who, had it not been for the intervention of this disaster, had retained, to the last, the full possession of that influence and independency, to which a high order of intellect, in combination with perfect bodily power, had previously conducted them.

There is, however, almost constantly to be found under every visitation of providence, and as arising directly from the very nature of the infliction, something of a compensatory and alleviating cast; and, in the instances to which I have alluded, if failure of sight lead, as it almost necessarily must do, in numerous particulars, to a helpless subserviency to the will of others, it is, at the same time, generally accompanied by the most decided manifestations, on the part of relatives and friends, of increasing assiduity and regard; while in the estimation


even of the public at large, the sufferer is beheld with a feeling of sanctity and love, which atones, in a great measure, for all that he has lost of personal activity and independence.

It is thus that round the mighty names of HOMER, Ossian, and MILTON, with the admiration due to their superior genius, is thrown, at the same time, in consequence of their deprivation of sight, a pathetic and endearing association, which not only during their existence most assuredly operated as a source of consolation to these immortal bards, but has descended with their fame to all succeeding times.

So greatly, indeed, have these aspiring spirits risen from the force of genius, beyond the common range of human effort, thats were it not for these touches of infirmity, we should be apt to consider them, dazzled by the splendour of their intellectual powers, as beings of an order superior to man, and, consequently, however entitled to our admiration, as little capable of exciting either sympathy or affection. But blindness, and more especially blindness when united, as in these instances, with old age, at once places them in connection with ourselves; and while we stand astonished at the majesty and sublimity of mind which they exhibit, we behold in their misfortunes the common bond which unites us, and we love while we venerate

their memory.

We contemplate them, in fact, with emotions somewhat similar to those with which we trace the course of the magnificent sun. We have been dazzled and overpowered by the effulgence of his meridian glory, and though he be now declining, though the evening of his day has arrived, and though the clouds have gathered round his steps, we feel greater attachment for his milder and more varied light; we watch with keen regret his setting beams, and our tears flow as his orb, more deeply interesting in its close than in its noon-day splendour, seems sinking into darkness and the grave.

As the sun, thus departing in dignity and beauty, majestic though in decay, and though fast fading into night, surrounded by every association which is calculated to affect the heart and excite the imagination, appears the closing scene of our three great epic bards, descending

« PreviousContinue »