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God, not aloof, in whom all things unite,
Swift to diffuse themselves again abroad,
Thyself the high completion of thy will:
Thou, Divine Love, from Father and from Son
Descend in me, and host within my heart,
And bring heaven's grace, and thought and song inspire,
That I may sing this first and highest work
By Thee accomplished, which shines forth in Thee,
Most marvellous, and the fair workmanship
Of this created world, this six days' task.'


After this invocation Tasso touches various theological subjects, refers to Greek mythology and to

the darkness bred
In Egypt which obscured the antique world.'

He then continues :

'Not in such darkness shall this song be heard
(If I be worthy) while I sing of light,
The eldest born of God's prolific mind
Tward which the mind of man vainly aspires.
Not yet were plain and forest; from the ground
Not yet had the first fountains broken forth,
Nor mountains reared their heads, nor rivers flowed,
When of his glory God created light.
With him was light when, of this universe,
He cast in adamant the outward sphere;
With him, when in the heavens he set the stars,
And made the deep of waters flow around;
When, too, he fixed a limit to the sea,
And gave its waves his law. When he convened
The elements that should sustain our earth
Light made his labour joy; and in his mansion
Was ever with him ere he willed this world,

Ere seasons, varying years, and Time began.'
Earth rising out of Chaos is thus described :

'Darkly emergent was the earth, and bare,
Newly created, void and unadorned ;

Tasso (and Milton, with some hesitation) believed the visible universe to consist of a series of concentric spheres encompassing the earth. Hearen and the Empyrean, Chaos and Hell were external to this.

Like some vast theatre with empty seats,
Unfurnished-none to act or to applaud.
Her children yet unborn, their wretched eyes
Saw not the horror of that dreadful waste,
Those mountainous solitudes and untilled plains.
No tree umbrageous tresses had unbound
To make a pleasant shade among the hills,
Nor shrub put forth its leaves; nor in the fields
Had Hyacinth and Narcissus, and their kin,
Mingled soft colours with the herbs and grass,
Or sprung in garlands round the limpid pools.
Like one astounded, Mother Earth, in dread,
Seemed cowering from the dreadful face of things,
Her members all unsightly and unformed
Sunk in black waters, or with darkness veiled.
Not yet the splendour of the sky was shown
In gay attire of gold and azure dressed,
And lucent signs; not yet the sun had lit
His ardent lamp, nor moon in humbler state
Opposed to him her silvery horn, or found
The steep and devious path she nightly treads.
Unheard was that first heavenly harmony,
The carol of the fixed and wandering stars,
Nor wore the Night her crown. In such aspect
The nascent world hid from herself in awe.'

Here follows a discourse on the origin of evil; returning to Light, we have:

. Then was Eternal Light before the world,
And before darkness which involves the world,
Light which illumes the mind serenely blest-
The senses, no; but that which governs sense.
Light seen is but the semblance of this light;
Semblance, that takes some glory from its model;
Model, whereof the sun is but a ray.
Light uncreated was before the world ;
Haply created light, through countless ages,
Through centuries by centuries multiplied,
Was also shining ere this world began.
But, like eternities (to use such phrase),
Preceded still the world, also the time
In which the second splendours were created
From the first splendour-Angels sanctified.
But heavenly Princes, Virtues, Dignities,
Glorious, immortal armies of the Elect,

Dwelt not in what to all but One seemed dark.
Hence, with the birth of first created minds
Was there created light. In joy and song
They dwelt within that light which was their joy
As He who is both light and being dwells;
Singing together in a sacred round,
With sacrifice of reverence and praise.
This is the light which, by the ancient Fathers
Was promised to the just-immortal light,
Which shall be theirs for ever. But the wicked
In pain and outer darkness have their part.

So in the darkness of the black abyss,
And on the waters, moved the Divine Spirit,
Preparing humid nature for her task ;
Breathing down force and virtue on the waves
In manner of a bird that brooding sits,
Who, with her vital warmth, from a frail shell *
Draws forth the callow offspring yet unformed-
And said : Let there be light. The Word of God
Is work accomplished! Of itself, the air,
Scarce waiting for the sound of loosened tongues,
Felt and obeyed the impulse of his thought,
Moved by his Holy Will—the inward Word..

Thus the first voice and first command made light;
Clear, pure, and splendid light, God's instant gift,
And image of serene Divinity,
Upgathered the first day, but, with the fourth,
Divided and to separate seats assigned ;
Hid Horror her gaunt face; darkness dispersed,
Left visible the sombre earth; the sky
Wore a first smile of welcome to the dawn
And radiantly his changeful tints disclosed ;
On every side North, South, and East, and West,
All quarters of the world were steeped in light;
In light, most beautiful, which to our eyes
And hearts brings swift intelligence of heaven;
Light that consoles, and heals; our friend, our guide,

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... darkness profound
Covered the abyss; but on the watery calm
His brooding wings the Spirit of God outspread,
And vital virtue infused, and vital warmth,
Throughout the fluid mass.'

(*Paradise Lost,' B. VII, i, 233–37.)

The joy of Nature, of Earth, Sea, and Air,
Of Mind and Sense, and, almost emulous,
Of things that perish and of things eterne.'


We have no space for further quotation from the first book; and those that follow seem generally only the rough draft of a poem—their composition a race with Death-yet seldom does the verse sink below the average of the • Excursion' or the Task' (which in manner it occasionally resembles), and the reader never long forgets that Tasso holds the pen. Judged by its output, Tasso's mind, to the last, burned bright and clear, as may be gathered from his farewell to Mother Earth ("Mondo Creato,' Fifth Day), a passage written when life was fast ebbing away, and with which these observations may appropriately conclude.

Soon thinking to regain his own dear land,
After long sojourn in a foreign clime
Where Fortune rarely smiles, and joys are few;
The weary exile yet feels some regret,
Cons o'er the toils and dangers of past years,
Remembers help and courtesy received,
And cheer and comfort, and, ere he depart,
Takes friendly leave of trusted host and hostel.
So we, desiring Heaven, our long-delayed
Immortal heritage, for this less loved
Dim, careful, and confined abode of earth,
And of the sea that round about her flows,
Where we have fed and rested, often found
Shelter, and pleasant welcome through long years,
May feel a gentle and allowed regret.
Likewise some thanks we owe, tokens and gifts,
Last offices of love and piety,
Due to this earth, our old kind constant nurse,
Who gathers us when children in her lap,
And still supports us in old age; to this
Wide sea that bears us and so amply feeds;
To this, wherein we breathe, clear deep of air.'

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1. Petitions, Cases, Minutes of Evidence and Proceedings

on claims to Peerage Dignities, 1911–1914. 2. The Law Reports. Appeal Cases, 1915 : Part I.

London : Council of Law Reporting, 1915. THERE can be few fields of study more recondite or unfamiliar than that of peerage law. For, despite its intrinsic interest, there must always be but few to whom it can ever prove of any practical advantage. Claims to peerage dignities are by no means of frequent occurrence; and only those who are professionally engaged in the prosecution of such claims can find it to their interest to acquire a knowledge of what is in many ways a peculiar branch of the law. An obvious disadvantage of this state of things is that no one can be fairly expected to produce a text-book on the subject, when the limited demand for that work would involve him in certain loss. He would have, in the main, to be content with the thought of the service he was rendering to others. But he would also have the consolation of reflecting that, after his death, lawyers, who, unlike historians, have not yet grasped what an authority'means, would be allowed to cite him as a great authority on these points.' He might, of course, be wrong in his facts, but that is of small account to the lawyer, who believes that a thing is true because an "authority' has said so. It is only the bistorian who troubles to go behind the book and to ask what actual authority' the writer had for his statement.

Till recent years, indeed, the only text-book available was that of Cruise on The Origin and Nature of Dignities or Titles of Honour,' of which a revised edition appeared in 1823; and Cruise confessed that the work he had planned on a more ambitious scale would involve a loss

a 'greater than any private individual could be expected to incur.' The need for a more modern text-book was supplied, with much public spirit, by a well-known legal writer, Sir Francis Palmer, whose Peerage Law in England, a practical treatise for lawyers and laymen,' appeared in 1907. This is a most valuable and comprehensive manual, although one may venture, on certain points, to differ from its learned author. Since the appearance of Sir F. Palmer's work I have dealt with a number of cases, Vol. 224.–No. 444.




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