Hearts of Controversy eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 61 pages of information about Hearts of Controversy.
as the lamentation runs, if their servitude gives us electric light.  For thus the power of the waterfall kindles a lovely lamp.  All this to be done by the simple force of gravitation—­the powerful fall of water.  “Wonderful, all that water coming down!” cried the tourist at Niagara, and the Irishman said, “Why wouldn’t it?” He recognised the simplicity of that power.  It is a second-rate passion—­that for the waterfall, and often exacting in regard to visitors from town.  “I trudged unwillingly,” says Dr. Johnson, “and was not sorry to find it dry.”  It was very, very second-rate of an American admirer of scenery to name a waterfall in the Yosemite Valley (and it bears the name to-day) the “Bridal Veil.”  His Indian predecessor had called it, because it was most audible in menacing weather, “The Voice of the Evil Wind.”  In fact, your cascade is dearer to every sentimentalist than the sky.  Standing near the folding-over place of Niagara, at the top of the fall, I looked across the perpetual rainbow of the foam, and saw the whole further sky deflowered by the formless, edgeless, languid, abhorrent murk of smoke from the nearest town.  Much rather would I see that water put to use than the sky so outraged.  As it is, only by picking one’s way between cities can one walk under, or as it were in, a pure sky.  The horizon in Venice is thick and ochreous, and no one cares; the sky of Milan is defiled all round.  In England I must choose a path alertly; and so does now and then a wary, fortunate, fastidious wind that has so found his exact, uncharted way, between this smoke and that, as to clear me a clean moonrise, and heavenly heavens.

There was an ominous prophecy to Charmian.  “You shall outlive the lady whom you serve.”  She has outlived her in every city in Europe; but only for the time of setting straight her crown—­the last servility.  She could not live but by comparison with the Queen.

THE CENTURY OF MODERATION

After a long literary revolt—­one of the recurrences of imperishable Romance—­against the eighteenth-century authors, a reaction was due, and it has come about roundly.  We are guided back to admiration of the measure and moderation and shapeliness of the Augustan age.  And indeed it is well enough that we should compare—­not necessarily check—­some of our habits of thought and verse by the mediocrity of thought and perfect propriety of diction of Pope’s best contemporaries.  If this were all!  But the eighteenth century was not content with its sure and certain genius.  Suddenly and repeatedly it aspired to a “noble rage.”  It is not to the wild light hearts of the seventeenth century that we must look for extreme conceits and for extravagance, but to the later age, to the faultless, to the frigid, dissatisfied with their own propriety.  There were straws, I confess, in the hair of the older poets; the eighteenth-century men stuck straws in their periwigs.

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Hearts of Controversy from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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