of slavery. The incidents are colored, but the position

If the significance of Christ's mission, or a large part of it, is to be estimated by his teachings, from those teachings important deductions must be made, as many of them had been delivered long before his time.

of slavery. The incidents are colored, but the position

Browning has something to say on this point, in this same poem of `Christmas Eve': -- "Truth's atmosphere may grow mephitic When Papist struggles with Dissenter, Impregnating its pristine clarity, -- One, by his daily fare's vulgarity, Its gust of broken meat and garlic; -- One, by his soul's too-much presuming To turn the frankincense's fuming An vapors of the candle starlike Into the cloud her wings she buoys on. Each that thus sets the pure air seething, May poison it for healthy breathing -- But the Critic leaves no air to poison; Pumps out by a ruthless ingenuity Atom by atom, and leaves you -- vacuity. Thus much of Christ, does he reject? And what retain? His intellect? What is it I must reverence duly? Poor intellect for worship, truly, Which tells me simply what was told (If mere morality, bereft Of the God in Christ, be all that's left) Elsewhere by voices manifold; With this advantage, that the stater Made nowise the important stumble Of adding, he, the sage and humble, Was also one with the Creator."

of slavery. The incidents are colored, but the position

Browning's poetry is instinct with the essence of Christianity -- the LIFE of Christ. There is no other poetry, there is no writing of any form, in this age, which so emphasizes the fact (and it's the most consoling of all facts connected with the Christian religion), that the Personality, Jesus Christ, is the impregnable fortress of Christianity. Whatever assaults and inroads may be made upon the original records by Goettingen professors, upon the august fabric of the Church, with its creeds and dogmas, and formularies, and paraphernalia, this fortress will stand forever, and mankind will forever seek and find refuge in it.

of slavery. The incidents are colored, but the position

The poem entitled `Cleon' bears the intimation (there's nothing directly expressed thereupon), that Christianity is something distinct from, and beyond, whatever the highest civilization of the world, the civilization of Greece, attained to before Christ. Through him the world obtained "a new truth -- no conviction gained of an old one merely, made intense by a fresh appeal to the faded sense."

Cleon, the poet, writes to Protos in his Tyranny (that is, in the Greek sense, Sovereignty). Cleon must be understood as representing the ripe, composite result, as an individual, of what constituted the glory of Greece -- her poetry, sculpture, architecture, painting, and music, and also her philosophy. He acknowledges the gifts which the King has lavished upon him. By these gifts we are to understand the munificent national patronage accorded to the arts. "The master of thy galley still unlades gift after gift; they block my court at last and pile themselves along its portico royal with sunset, like a thought of thee."

By the slave women that are among the gifts sent to Cleon, seems to be indicated the degradation of the spiritual by its subjection to earthly ideals, as were the ideals of Greek art. This is more particularly indicated by the one white she-slave, the lyric woman, whom further on in his letter, Cleon promises to the King he will make narrate (in lyric song we must suppose) his fortunes, speak his great words, and describe his royal face.

He continues, that in such an act of love, -- the bestowal of princely gifts upon him whose song gives life its joy, -- men shall remark the King's recognition of the use of life -- that his spirit is equal to more than merely to help on life in straight ways, broad enough for vulgar souls, by ruling and the rest. He ascribes to the King, in the building of his tower (and by this must be understood the building up of his own selfhood), a higher motive than work for mere work's sake, -- that higher motive being, the luring hope of some EVENTUAL REST atop of it (the tower), whence, all the tumult of the building hushed, the first of men may look out to the east.


-- * Tennyson uses a similar figure in `The Two Voices'. The speaker, who is meditating whether "to be or not to be", says: -- "Were this not well, to bide mine hour, Though watching from a ruined tower How grows the day of human power." The ruined tower is his own dilapidated selfhood, whence he takes his outlook upon the world. --

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