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Boy! Lucius! Varro! Claudius! sirs awake! -
Luc. The strings, my lord, are false.
Bru. He thinks, he is still at his instrument. —
Luc. My lord?
Bru. Sleep again, Lucius. - Sirrah, Claudius !
Var. My lord.
Ay: saw you any thing?
Nor I, my lord.
Var. and Clau. It shall be done, my lord.
The Roman genius appears to have been a very material sort of personage compared with the Greek demon, and altogether addicted to earth. We know not where it is found that he was first called gerulus, or a carrier on of affairs : perhaps in Varro; but whether as gerulus, or as genius (the spirit of things generated), the Romans made him after their own likeness, and gave him as little to do with the stars as possible. The Romans had not the fancy of the Greeks, and cared little for their ethereal pleasures. Accordingly, their attendant spirit was either fighting and conquering (on which occasion he took the wings of victory, as you may see in the imperial sculptures), or he was dining and enjoying himself: sitting under his plane-tree and drinking with his mistress. To gratify their appetites, was called “indulging the genius," not to gratify them, was “ defrauding” him. They seem to have forgotten that he had any thing to do with restraint. Ovid, the most poetical of their poets, in all his uses of the words genius or genii, never hints at the possibility of their having any meaning beyond something local and comfortable. There is the genius of the city, and the genius of one's father. The Sabine women were “a genial prey.” Crowns of flowers are genial ; a certain kind of musical instrument is particularly genial, and agrees with dulcibus jocis, that is to say, with double meanings; Bacchus is the planter of the genial vine (genial indeed was a name of Bacchus); a popular holiday, pleasantly described in the Fasti, where every one is eating and drinking by the side of his lass, is a genial feast.*
Hence the acceptation of the word among ourselves, though we are fain to give it more grace and sentiment. The "genial bed” of Milton is not exactly Ovidian; though, by the way, the good-natured libertine was the favorite Latin poet of our great puritan.
We hear little of the bad genius among the Romans. They seem to have agreed to treat him as bad geniuses ought to be, and drop his acquaintance. But he was black, like his brother in Greece. Voltaire has a pleasant story of the black and white genius. Valerius Maximus, a servile writer, who had the luck to survive his betters and become a classic, tells a story (probably to please the men in power whom he deified) which appears to have been confounded with that of Brutus. “We are told by Valerius Maximus,” says Mr. Tooke,“ that when Cassius fled to Athens, after Anthony was beaten at Actium, there appeared to him a man of long stature, of a black swarthy complexion, with large hair, and a nasty beard. Cassius asked him who he was ; and the apparition answered, “I am your evil genius.'
*"Fastorum,” lib. i. v. 523. It is the description of a modern Florentine holiday.
Spenser has placed an evil genius at the gate of his false bower of bliss, and old genius, or the fatherly principle of life and care, at the door of the great nursery-gardens of the universe.
Old genius the porter of them was ;
He letteth in, he letteth out to wend,
What follows and precedes this passage is a true piece of Platonical coloring, founded upon the old Greek allegories. These nursery grounds, sprouting with infants and with the germs of all things, would make a very happy place if it were not for Time, who with his “flaggy wings,” goes playing the devil among the beds, to the great regret of Venus. It is an old story, and a true ; and the worst of it is, that Venus herself (though the poet does not here say so) joins with her enemies to assist him.
Were it not that Time their troubler is,
* Tooke's “ Pantheon," part 4, chap. iii. sect. 4. The genius speaks Greek, which was better bred of him than having a beard.
Franckly each paramour his leman knowes ;
Each bird his mate; ne any does envy
There is continual spring, and harvest there
Continuall, both meeting at one tyme:
Emongst the shady leaves, their sweet abode,
We are then presented with one of his arbors, of which he was the cunningest builder in all fairy-land. ent one belongs to Venus and Adonis.
Right in the middest of that Paradise
There stood a stately mount, on whose round top
That all the ground, with pretious deaw bedight,
And in the thickest covert of that shade
There was a pleasant arber, not by art
That neither Phæbus beams could through them throng,
FAIRY QUEENE, Book III. Canto vi.
Here Venus was wont to enjoy the company of Adonis; “ Adonis,” says Upton, “ being matter, and Venus, form.” Ovid would have said, “ he did not know how that might be, but that the allegory ‘was genial.””
The poets are a kind of eclectic philosophers, who pick out of theories whatever is suitable to the truth of natural feeling and the candor of experience ; and thus, with due allowances for what is taught them, may be looked upon as among the truest as well as most universal of philosophers. The most opinionate of them, Milton for one, are continually surrendering the notions induced upon them by their age or country, to the cause of their greater mothercountry, the universe; like beings deeply sympathizing with man, but impatient of wearing the clothes and customs of a particular generation. It is doubtful, considering the whole context of Milton's life, and taking away the excitements of personal feelings, whether he was a jot more in earnest when playing the polemic, than in giving himself up to the dreams of Plato ; whether he felt more, or so much, in common with Raphael and Michael, as with the genius of the groves of Harefield, listening at night-time to the music of the spheres. In one of his prose works (we quote from memory) he complains of being forced into public brawls and “hoarse seas of dispute ;” and asks, what but a sense of duty could have enabled him thus to have been “put off from beholding the bright countenance of Truth in the quiet and still air of delightful studies.” This truth was truth universal ; this air, the same that haunted the room of Plato, and came breathing from Elysium. No man had a greater taste than he for the “religio loci,” — the genius of a particular spot. The genius of a wood in particular, was a special friend of his, as indeed he has been of all poets. The following passage has been often quoted; but we must not on that account pass it by. New beauties may be found in it every