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“ It is a
try, without that methodical regu- been much too greatly praised. Many larity which would bave been requi- of the precepts are trite and juvenile; site in a prose writer. Some of them and the diction and versification are, are uncommon, but such as the reader in several places, uncommonly slomust assent to, when he sees them venly and incorrect.” But be allows explained with that elegance and per- that, considering the writer's age, it spicuity in which they are delivered. must be deemed a very remarkable As for those wbich are the most known instance of an early acquisition of and the most received, they are placed knowledge with regard to men and in so beautiful a light, and illustrated books; and that although it cannot with such apt allusions, that they have be estimated as secure critical in them all the graces of novelty, guide, it must be acknowledged to and make the reader, who was be- exhibit frequent examples of just opi. fore acquainted with them, sell more pion and observation, expressed in convinced of their truth and solidity." language of peculiar brilliancy and He concludes by observing, that there precision. (Drake's Biographical are three poems in the English lan- Essays.)-Dr. Aikin's sentiments are guage which are all of the same na- of a similar description. ture, and each distinguished by sape- work," says that author, "abounding rior excellence ;--the Essay on Cri. in valuable literary precepts, ex* ticism, by Pope ; the Essay on the pressed generally with neatness, and Art of Poetry, by Sheffield, Duke of often with brilliancy. In poetical Normavby;* and the Essay on Trang, merit it stands bigb among didactic lated Verse, by the Earl of Roscom- pieces, yet it has many marks of mon. This was a high compliment to juvenility in the thoughts and inPope, whose juvenile performance was correctness in the language ; and thus placed in an equal rank with the cannot, by any means, be proposed later and more finished productions of as a guide in the critical art, with his two elder contemporaries.
that authority, which some have To this Essay Dr. Johnson has also ascribed to it." (Letters on English given his unqualified approbation, Poetry. We may here perceive a which is the more to be valued, as striking opposition in these opinions. it was bestowed by one who was Not a word of censure has escaped at all times cautious of giving praise, from Addison or Johnson ; whilst the “One of Pope's greatest, though of his two later critics have not only men, earliest, works, is the Essay on Cri- tioned tbis poem with disapprobation, tirism; which, if he had written no- but have given to it a totally different thing else, would have placed him character and complexion. among the first critics, as among We now proceed to consider the the first poets; since it exhibits every author's design in writing the Essay species of excellence which can em- on Criticism. This embraced two bellish or dignify didactic composi- distinct objects; namely, to correct tion;-selection of matter, novelty of the many errors into which modern arrangement, justness of precept, critics bave fallen, by neglecting on splendour of illustration, and propri- transgressing those sound rules of ety of digression. It is a work which criticism, which were established by displays such extent of comprehen, the ancients, and by them transmitted sion, such nicety of distinction, such to us as the only true criteria of aoquaintance with mankind, and such judgment, and also to introduce a knowledge both of ancient and modern more certain method of ascertaining learning, as are not often attained the merits and defects of literary by the maturest age, and the longest compositions. He begins, therefore, experience," (Johnson's Life of Pope.) with a lively satire on those vain -İlater writer, however, has been far pretenders to learning, who, without Jess profuse in bis commendation of superior knowledge or judgment, and this poem; and, indeed, bas placed destitute of the qualities indispensably it's merits in a much lower scale than requisite for a true critic, assume the the opinions we have adduced would character of censors, give their opilead us to conclude.“ As a didactic nions on works of taste, and underessay and a poem,” he says, “it has take to decide the merits of every
• Created afterwards Duke of Buckinghamshire, by Qucen Anne.
production which may pass underestimating the merits of a work lý their inspection. After severely cen- parts only, and not by the tendency suring such unqualified arrogance and of the whole; and literary bigotry, presumption, he proceeds to point out or too strong an attachment to some the rules to be observed, and the con- particular principles, or individual duct to be pursued, by those who mode of judging. To these may be desire to excel in this important added, a difficulty of being pleased, branch of literature. With this view, or too great readiness to admire ; an he advises them to ascertain the ex- undue preference for any peculiar tent of their talents, and then enquire style or class of poetry; a habit of how far they are adapted to pursuits forming ideas on works of taste solely of this description. To those who feel from the opinions of others; a love of a natural partiality for such studies, singularity in literary pursuits ; inhe recomiends that they should decision, inconstancy, envy, and partyfirst follow nature, and learn to form spirit;~all which equally prevent the their judgment by thatunerring guide; critic from obtaining a right judgand, next, to apply those celebrated ment, and from acquiring that coolrules of the ancients, which have been ness of temper and clearness of perso long and so universally adopted, ception which are so necessary in purThat for the more effectual attainment suits of this nature.t of this object, the critic should study The poet next proceeds to warn the the classics; and, by a frequent and candidates for critical fame against careful perusal of their works, be- contention and dispute; but more come thoroughly acquainted with the especially against an indulgence of genius, subject, country, language, that invidious desire of taking away religion, and characteristics of each ; or depreciating the well-earned hosince, by these means, he would be nours of a more successful rival, which enabled to discover the various hidden is but too prevalent in those pursuits beauties of style and composition; where emulation is excited. He then and to ascertain many doubtful pas- advises them in what instances to use sages with the utmost certainty and severity, and points out the objects of precision. With respect to poetical their just censure ; commanding them license, of which the ancients so fre- to attack freedom and licentiousness quently availcd thenıselves, he ad- wherever they might appear, and to vises modern poets to be peculiarly brand vice with the stamp of infamy eautious; since, though it may some- and guilt; thus blending their duties times be judiciously introduced, an as conservators of the public morals, improper use of it would expose them with their characters as guardians of to the animadversions of illiberal cri- the privileges of literature. He here tics, and render their works amenable particularly alludes to those scenes to the strict and impartial laws of cri- of profligacy and immorality which ticism.
marked the age of the second Charles, The second part is a continuation when every thing that could tend to of the instructions contained in the corrupt the principles, vitiate the first; and enumerates the various taste, and destroy all feelings of delicauses which conspire to blind the cacy and virtue, was allowed to floujudgment, and to prevent that cool risb in rank luxuriance ; and dispassionate reflection, without which the critic can never do ade
" When love was all an casy monarch quate jnstice to his subject.*
care, these, the principal are,-pride, “ the Jilts ruled the state, and statesmen farces
Seldom at council, never in a war; never-failing vice of fools ;' insuffi
writ; ciency of learning, which prevents Nay, wits had pensions, and young lords' him from perceiving the full scope. had wit; and design of his author ; narrowness The fair sat panting at a courtier's play, of comprehension, or the practice of And not a musk went unimproved away
Baillet, in his “ Jugemens des Savans," has enumerated the many errors which mislead the critic, and raise the passions against the judgment.-See also Dr. Johnson's excellent remarks on the prejudices and caprices of criticism, in No.93 of the Rambler.
+ For the character of a good critic, and an account of the qualities essential to it's formation, see No. 291 of the Spectator, the elegant production of Addison.
The modest fan was lifted up no more, grading customs were adopted; and And sirgios smiled at what they blush'd the most cruel tyranny, the grossest before.”
ignorance, and the blindest superThe dissolute reigo of this monarch stition, reigned without controul. justy deserved the severe proscription Learning was disregarded, the scicontained in these lines.
ences were neglected, and every thing In the third Part of this Essay, bore the marks of rudeness and barvarious excellent rules are laid down barism ; Divination, idolatry, and for the guidance of the critic, and witchcraft, were universally practised, certain qualities are recommended, and the most tlagrant violations of juswithout which he can never exercise tice were committed with impunity. his talents with satisfaction to him- Nay, to so dreadful a height had this self, or with justice to others. It is infatuation reached, that even parrinot suflicient that he possess learn- cide was pardonable by absolution. ing, taste, and judgment; but that In fact, men appeared to have lost not truth and candour, a becoming mo- only the light of learning, but of their desty and politeness, sincerity of ad
This mental darkvice, and diffidence of ceusure, should ness, which overspread the whole of accompany his pursuits. When all Europe for more than eight hundred these are attained, the character of years, first began to be dispelled in the critic is complete; and he may the time of Petrarch, A.D. 1340, by then safely undertake the arduous the study of ancient classic writers; and important duties of a literary and in proportion as an acquaintance censor.
with their works was disseminated, The poet nest gives a brief history of the human intellect was expanded, the early state of criticism, and of it's and knowledge became more general. gradual improvement during the most Considerable advances were made at Bourishing periods of Athens and of the commencement of the fifteenth cenRome; at the same time delineating tury; till, at length, under the happy the characters of those celebrated cri- auspices of Lorenzo de Medici,t and ties, who so greatly contributed to it's of his son Pope Leo the Tenth, A.D. advancement, by ordaining laws and 1500, classical learning was fully rerepressing licentiousness. He then cstablished; the fine arts were redescribes the invasion of Italy by the stored; and every thing resumed the Northern nations,-the fall of the great appearance of refinement and cultiWestern Einpire,—the sudden decay vation. The age.io which these illusot learning and the arts in consequence trious patrons of literature lived, was of that event,-their gradual revival one continued blaze of glory; and gave during the fourteenth and fifteenth birth to some of the brightest names centuries, and their subsequently ra- that ever shone upon the page of hispid progress throughout all the ci- tory ;- Ariosto, Tasso, Sannazarius, vilized nations of Europe;-concluding Vida, Erasmus, Guarini, Fracastowith an account of the best critics who rius, Cardinal Bembo, Sadolet, Mahave flourished since that period. chiavel, Guiccardini, Michael Angelo,
Criticism, in common with the Raphael, Titian, Leonardo da Vinci, other branches of literature, fell into and Bramante. Under these and other decay at the time when every thing celebrated masters, poetry, painting, connected with learning and the polite music, sculpture, and architecture, arts was overwhelmed by the bar- attained the very higbest perfection. barous nations which over-ran the During the pontificate of Leo X. Roman Empire (A.D. 476). Bigotry the greatest encouragement was given and fanaticism lent their aid to en- to the promotion of science; and the crease the gloomy darkness which most liberal patronage was extended prevailed. Then, indeed, “ the Monks to men of learning and abilities. finish'd what the Goths began;" for a Many important discoveries were period ensued in which the most de- made; and many remarkable events
Fide Hallam's History of Europe in the Middle Ages ;—Berington's History of , the Middle Ages ;-Gibbon's Decline aud Fall of the Roman Empire ;--Sheppard's Life of Poggio Bracciolini; --and Tiraboschi's History of Italian Literature.
Vide koscoe's elegant Life of Lorenzo de Medici; and History of the Age of Leo the Tepih.
took place, which have since produced restoration of classical learning, Pethe most advantageous changes in the tratch is the first to whom it is instate of human affairs. It was then debted for it's revival in Europe, after that the arts and sciences began to a long night of darkness and barflourish; “ philosophy to be freed barism. He was the first among the from the dust of barbarism, and cri- moderns in whom the spirit of anticism to assume a manly and rational cient literature began to revive; and appearance. The more immediate he has, therefore, been justly called causes which brought about these the “ Father of modern poetry.” It desirable events were, the arrival of was he who, in an age of gross and the illustrious Grecian exiles in Italy; general ignorance, when not only the the discovery of ancient manuscripts; scarcity of books, but the prejudice the establishment of public libraries of his contemporaries, opposed the and seminaries of education ; and, cultivation of letters, surmounted above all, the invention of the noble those obstacles by the force of his art of printing. No branch of science native genius, and roused a passion was cultivated with greater assiduity for literary acquirements, which has than classical literature. Under the had the happiest intluence on patronage of Leo, and of some of the ceeding times. To his efforts, united chiefs of other states in Italy, who with those of Boccace, is to be imitated bis liberality, eminent scho- ascribed the completion of the great lars engaged with incredible ardour work of polishing, and fixing the and diligence in collating manu- standard of, the Italian language. scripts, and ascertaining the genuine To Petrarch, also, bas been attibuied text of Greek and Latin authors; the merit of restoring the purity and explaining their obscurities, illus- elegance of the Latin tongue, espetrating them with commentaries, cially in metrical composition. Scitranslating them into various lan- pio Mallei, however, in his Italian guages, and imitating their beauties.” Theatre,t informs us, that this was
The age of Leo the Tenth may, not so much owing to Petrarch, as then, unquestionably be considered to Albertino Mussato, a native of as one of the æras in the history Padua, who flourished nearly thirty of the world, in which literature, the years before Petrarch ; - a man of fine arts, and, in fact, everything learning and genius, whose merits, that tends to cxalt the character and though amply rewarded by the hoencrease the power and dignity of nours which he received from his namankind, were brought to a degree tive city, I do not appear to have been of perfection unequalled at other sufficiently appreciated by later times. periods ;
He was at once an historian, a poet, “ See! each muse, in Leo's golden of the reign of Henry VII. Emperor
and a tragedian. His Latin bistory days, Starts from her trance, and trims her of Germany, to whom he was miniswither'd bays ;
ter, is written with much judgment and Rome's ancient Genius, o'er it's ruins regard to truth ; and had the style spread,
been equal to the subject, he would Shakes off the dust, and rears his rev'rend bave deserved the appellation which head.
some have bestowed upon him, of Then Scnlpture and her sister arts re- the “ second Livy of Padua.” Oftbis vive ;
bistory there are three books, in heStones leap'd to form, and rocks began roic verse, on the siege of that city
to live : With sweeter notes each rising temple under the command of their prince,
by the Veronese in the year 1314, rung ; A Raphael painted, and a Vida sung."
the great Can Grande de la Scala.
Mussato's two best Latin tragedies Of those illustrious men whose ta- “ Eccerinis” and “ Achilles," Jents and exertions contributed to the composed in the style and manner
For more minute particulars respecting the life and writings of this extraordinary man, see the Abbé Sade's “ Memoires sur la vie de François Petrarque;" and Lord Woodhoi selee's excellent “ Historical and Critical Essay on the Life and Character of Petrarch,” published in the year 1810. + in Verona, 1723, Vol. I. page 4.
Scardonius' Antiquities of Padua, page 130.
of Seneca ; and, in the opinion of
scure ages. Besides these, he wrote some Eclogues, Elegies, Epistles in verse, and an Ovidian Cento. DF,
(To be continued.)
A DECEMBER TALE. AT the latter end of the year 1819, I have before sajd, not remarkable for accepted an invitation to pass a week it's elegance, or the harmonious proat the habitation of a friend in Scot. portion of it's parts. The body of land, and accordingly made all due ihe building had been originally of a preparations for the journey, and took square shape, but it abounded with my place in the vehicle, which com- wings which had been appended to mences it's periodical excursions from it by succeeding occupiers: and was the small town containing the resi- accommodated with numerous high dence of your Correspondent. It is and narrow apertures, filled with minot needful to describe the busy pre- nute panes of glass, which served as paration for the event, the fidgetting of an apology for windows: though the my aunts, for I am blessed with three! Architect seemed to have been perthe rising at four o'clock to set off at fectly ignorant of any such thing as seven, and the endless train of et- regularity in their disposition. The ceteras which every traveller is well roof was adorned with towers of all acquainted with. I departed in the descriptions, some round, some square, Velocity, for so the vehicle was named, and some of a shape which would have lacus a non lucendo I presume, in com- baffled the skill of the most expepany with a French dancing-master, a rienced professor of octahedrons and Scotch merchant, and the wife of a polygons to give a name to, and which Welsh curate. Nothing remarkable sprouted out in beautiful confusion, happened during the journey, which like the horns of the beast in the was performed in mute silence, ex- Revelations. cept when an extraordinary jolt of The day passed pleasantly in conthe carriage drew forth an occasional versation and various amusements, ejaculation from my fellow-travellers; for the weather prohibited all excurand I at last arrived at the place of sion beyond the walls, and in the my destination. My friend's house, a evening we told stories ; tbe first marvellous ill-fashioned edifice, stood of which, related by Henry Somerset, upon the top of an eminence, at the the young Englishman, I bere enclose. foot of which a muddy pool, passing “ It was on the close of a fine day in by the name of a pond, served as a July, that I walked out to enjoy an school to initiate some young of the evening ramble. The day had been duck tribe in the art and mystery of warm, and the breeze that rustled swimming. The house itself, though amongst the leaves with “cooling completely void of all shape, was melody" was inexpressibly grateful. large, and the hospitable reception The sun was just sinking behind the within made ample recompense for mountains, whose dark masses boundthe uncouthness of the exterior. Ied the view on the west, and lighted was ushered by a servant in ancient up the clouds that gathered round livery into a parlour; where, seated him with a blaze of glory, which glitaround the fire, I found the Laird, tered through the trees with the most Mr. M'Tarragon, his wife, and only delightful splendour. The inhabitants daughter ; two neighbouring gentle- of the neighbouring villages had remen, Mr. Whappledoun and Mr. Bal- tired to rest, and no sound interruptdermere ; a young English lady, Missed the silence which brooded over the Somerset, with her brother; and an scene, save the gentle murmurs of the elderly dame, Mrs. Tiverton; all of wind, and the occasional bark of the whom were, like myself, visitors. distant watch-dog. Being somewhat tired with my jour- " It is sweet to walk in places ney, and the evening fas advanced, and at times like these; when the I retired early to rest, to sleep off the mind, loosened from the weight of fatigues of the day.
subjects which have oppressed it The next morning I took a survey during the busy day, springs with of my friend's castle. It was, as í renovated buoyancy to commune with Eur, Mag. Vol. 81, Jan. 1822.