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Thomas Love Peacock - from Melincourt 1817

Identifier

013239

Type of spiritual experience

Background

 

Thomas Love Peacock (18 October 1785 – 23 January 1866) was an English novelist, poet, and official of the East India Company. He was a close friend of Percy Bysshe Shelley and they influenced each other's work.  His granddaughter remembered him in these words:

In society my grandfather was ever a welcome guest, his genial manner, hearty appreciation of wit and humour in others, and the amusing way in which he told stories made him a very delightful acquaintance; he was always so agreeable and so very witty that he was called by his most intimate friends the "Laughing Philosopher", and it seems to me that the term "Epicurean Philosopher", which I have often heard applied to him, describes him accurately and briefly. In public business my grandfather was upright and honourable; but as he advanced in years his detestation of anything disagreeable made him simply avoid whatever fretted him, laughing off all sorts of ordinary calls upon his leisure time.

Sir Edward Strachey wrote of him

A kind-hearted, genial, friendly man, who loved to share his enjoyment of life with all around him, and self-indulgent without being selfish.

Richard Garnett in the Dictionary of National Biography described Peacock as

a rare instance of a man improved by prosperity; an element of pedantry and illiberality in his earlier writings gradually disappears in genial sunshine, although, with the advance of age, obstinate prejudice takes its place, good humoured, but unamenable to argument. The vigour of his mind is abundantly proved by his successful transaction of the uncongenial commercial and financial business of the East India Company; and his novels, their quaint prejudices apart, are almost as remarkable for their good sense as for their wit. But for this penetrating sagacity, constantly brought to bear upon the affairs of life, they would seem mere humorous extravaganzas, being farcical rather than comic, and almost entirely devoid of plot and character. They overflow with merriment from end to end, though the humour is frequently too recondite to be generally appreciated, and their style is perfect. They owe much of their charm to the simple and melodious lyrics with which they are interspersed, a striking contrast to the frigid artificiality of Peacock's more ambitious attempts in poetry. As a critic, he was sensible and sound, but neither possessed nor appreciated the power of his contemporaries, Shelley and Keats, to reanimate classical myths by infusion of the modern spirit.

 

A description of the experience

Thomas Love Peacock - from Melincourt 1817

Fresh air and liberty are all that is necessary to the happiness of children.

In that blissful age 'when nature's self is new' the bloom of interest and beauty is found alike in every object of perception - in the grass of the meadow, the moss on the rock and sea weed on the sand. 

They find gems and treasures in shells and pebbles and the gardens of fairyland in the simplest flowers .... the falling leaves are their playthings and the settig sun only tells them that they must go to rest as he does.............

It is the bloom of novelty and the pure unclouded uninitiated feelings with which it is contemplated that throw such a unearthly radiance on [things] ........... the force of first impressions.

 

 

 

The source of the experience

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