784 THE MUSE OF THE NEW CENTURY
viaducts, or over the soft strong sea on the snorting dolphin, or through the air on the great bird Roc, and will descend in the land from which her divine voice will first hail the human race. Where ? Is it from the land of Columbus, the land of freedom, where the natives became hunted game and the Africans beasts of burden,—the land from which we heard the song of Hiawatha ? Is it from the Antipodes, the gold nugget in the South Seas—the land of contraries, where our night is day, and black swans sing in the mimosa forests ? Or from the land where Memnon's pillar rang and still rings, though we understood not the song of the sphinx in the desert ? Is it from the coal-island, where Shakespeare is the ruler from the times of Elizabeth? Is it from the land of Tycho Brahe, where he was not allowed to remain, or from the fairy-land of California, where the Wellingtonia rears its head as king of the forests of the world.
When will the star shine, the star on the forehead of the Muse—the flower on whose leaves are inscribed the century's expression of the beautiful in form, in colour, and in fragrance ?
' What is the programme of the new Muse ?' say the skilled parliamentarians of our time. ' What does she want to do ?'
Rather ask what she does not want to do !
She will not come forward as the ghost of the age that is past. She will not construct dramas out of the cast-off glories of the stage, nor will she conceal defects in dramatic architecture by means of specious draperies of lyric verse. Her flight before our eyes will be like passing from the car of Thespis to the amphitheatre of marble. She will not break honest human talk in pieces, and patch it together again like an artificial chime of bells with ingratiating tinkles borrowed from the contests of the troubadours. She will not set up verse as a nobleman and prose as a plebeian ; they stand equal in melody, in fullness, and in strength. She will not sculpture the old gods out of Iceland's saga-blocks ; they are dead, there is no feeling for them in the new age, no kinship with them. She will not invite the men of her time to lodge their thoughts in the taverns of French novels ; she will not deaden them with the chloroform of commonplace tales. She will