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mountains, skipping over the hills. pre-eminence by the late editor of Arise, my love, my dove, my beautiful Pope's works, we must not confound one and come. For the winter is now the sublimity and the poetry of a past, the rain is over and gone. The passage with each other ; for a pasflowers have appeared in our land, the · sage may be poetic without being subtime of pruning is come, the voice of lime, and sublime without being the turtle is heard in our land. The poetic, though it is certain that it may fig-tree bath put forth her green figs, be sublime and poetic at the same the vines in flower yield their sweet time. Dryden, then, seems to be missmell, arise my love, my beautiful one, taken in saying, that the force of and come.
Return; be like my be nature can go no farther than loftiness loved, to a roe, or to a young hart and inajesty, particularly when he upon the mountains of Bether. Till applies his observation to poetry ; for, the day break, and the shadows retire, as I have shewn in the essay above I will go to the mountain of myrrh, referred to,“ the heart-rending pathos .and to the hill of frankincense. Thou of feeling,” is that which not only art all fair, O my love, and there is confers the highest interest on poetry, not a spot in thee. Come from Liba- but it is that which forms it's distincnus, my spouse, come from Libanus, tive character, and draws a line of come. Thou hast wounded my heart, separation between it and every other my sister, my spouse, thou hast species of writing, except prose works wounded my heart with one of thy of fiction. Pleasure, indeed, is the .eyes, and with one hair of thy neck. immediate object of both, but still The voice of my beloved knocking: poetry distinguishes itself from all .open to me, my sister, my love, my other works of fiction, by the superior dove, my undefiled, for my head is pleasure which it imparts, and the more full of dew, and my locks of the drops absolute dominion which it exercises of the nights. My beloved is white over the sympathies and affections of and ruddy, chosen out of thousands. the heart. Mr. Campbell very justly . His eyes as doves upon brooks of observes in his “ Lectures,” that the waters, which are washed with milk, idea of happiness is still the sovereign .and sit beside the plentiful streams feeling of poetry,” for happiness, Here are passages that possess neither pleasure, delight, rapture, bliss, joy, Joftiness nor majesty: on the con- felicity, &c. are only those kindred trary, they decline from the imposing modifications of feeling which poetry grandeur of the one, and the stately seeks to excite in the human breast; dignity of the other, to the softest and and the moment the poet forgets that humblest images on which the mind this is the direct object of his art, the can rest,
And yet, with all their moment he seeks to instruct, rather .want of loftiness and majesty, they than to please, he passes over from :ro, perhaps, the purest specimen of the festive bowers and smiling retreats poetic rapture which was ever dic- of the muse, and however musical and lated by inspiration itself. The very harmonious may be his numbers, he soul seems breathing upon the lips: is no longer a poet. I would not inthe heart bursts forth in the plenitude sinuate, that the poet is not obliged 10 of it's feelings, or is melted in love. address the reasoning faculues, as It is this expression of feeling, this well as the historian or the philosocommunication of kindred emotions, pher, for if he did not do so, he could which constitutes, as I have already impart no pleasure. No image or shewn in my “ Criterion of Poetical poetic representation can please the Pre-eminence,"* the highest excellence heart which is not true to nature, and to which poetry can attain. It would in which the understanding can trace be no argument to quote passages neither consistency nor object, from Homer or Virgil, and to say, that from which it can select nothing 10 nothing can be more sublime, nothing encrease it's former stock of knownjore majestic; for unless we choose ledge. But while the philosopher to aciopt the " invariable principles seeks only to improve the mind, the of poetry” which have been oflered to poet is bound by the nature of his the world, as a criterion of poetical art, to impart no information which is
* European Magazine for December, 1821.
incapable of being so expressed, as to to collect from the distinction made please at the same moment that it between the genius of Homer and instructs. Hence it is, that some Virgil, I am at a loss to discover any subjects are upfit for poetry, because other ; but if this be his meaning, we they are barren of delight; but a are completely bewildered in attemptgreat poet can still render a barren ing to ascertain wherein does the subject fruitful by images and asso- genius of Homer differ from that of ciations, borrowed from other sources Milton. If Milton possessed the loftiof pleasure, and from images of felicity ness of Homer, it is unnecessary to which do not properly belong to the tell as that he possessed the majesty subject of wbich he treats. When of Virgil, simply because he who Dryden, therefore, informs us, that reaches to the highest degree, must Honier excelled in loftiness, and Vir- necessarily be master of all the degil in majesty, we know nothing of the grees which are subordinate to it, and poetic excellence of either, because excel in them all. If, then, Milton loftiness and majesty belong as much excelled in loftiness, he must have exto prose as to poetry. Of this, in- celled still more in majesty; and so stances without number might be must Homer for the same reason; and quoted from the scriptures, so that yet we are told, that Milton alone pre-eminence in poetry, so far from excelled in both. Majesty of thought, being confined to loftiness and ma then, cannot be a degree of loftiness, jesty, is no more allied to them than for if it were, Homer would be as pre-eminence in prose.
majestic as Milton, as be posssessed Dryden's celebrated epigram, there that lostiness of which majesty is supfore, leaves us as much in the dark posed to be only a degree. If, then, respecting the poetic genius of Homer, by the majesty of Virgil, Dryden did Virgil, and Milton, as if we had never not intend to express a portion of read it. All we can collect from it Homer's loftiness, he must have inis, that these writers were men of tended to express two different spebigh intellectual endowments, but cies of poetic excellence, which were whether prose writers or poets, can both united in Milton. If so, majesty not be determined from the endow- of thought forms a particular cast of ments conferred upon them. Besides, genius, which has no alliance with in what does majesty differ from loftiness, which is placed neither loftiness of tbought? I apprehend above nor below it, but stands by Dryden never asked himself the ques- itself, and forms a particular species tion, or he would have never used the of it's own. The question then to be term majesty, to express a distinction, resolved is, what is this majesty of in which, when examined, we find no thought which Milton possessed, and of distinction; or at least one unworthy of which Homer was deficient? For my a critic, because it is ambiguous,uncer- part I know not what it is, and I doubt tain, and undefined. The loftiness of whether the most discriminating mind thought conferred upon Homer, is only can perceive any other distinction an extraordinary elevation of mind, than what I have pointed out. I am which wafted the Meonian bard to also inclined to think, that the term is heights inaccessible to all his succes- improperly applied to mental attrisors. But wherein does majesty differ buies, as it is borrowed from art and from this proud elevation, but in not not froin nature. It was originally rising so high, and in it's incapacity to taken from the dignified manner and grasp at images and conceptions which elevated deportment observable in were sublimely placed above the reach Kings and Princes. But this manner of inferior genius. According to Dry- is artificial, for if it were founded in den, then, the genius of Homer dif- nature, the Peasant would be as mafered from that of Virgil, not in kind, jestic as the Baron, the Baron as the bat ia degrec ; or, in other words, Duke, and the Duke as the King. Virgil and Homer thought and felt Majesty, then, is not born with us: it alike so far as they could travel toge- is the offspring of circumstances, and ther, but Homer travelled farther. He cannot therefore be an original endowentered into regions of intellect, and ment of mind ; for all original endowexplored creations of “untried being," ments must be founded in human to which Virgil was denied admittance. nature. All attributes of excellence, fibis be not the idea which we are however, which are artificial, can
have no alliance with genius, because ton's genias; and consequently we pure genius has it's origin in the same mnst travel farther in pursuit of it. source with all other natural endow- The moment, however, we discover ments. It cannot be the creature of the true character of his genius, we circumstances, for if it were, circum- shall have little difficulty in distinstances would confer genius on a guishing it from that of Homer and dunce. Majesty, therefore, is a term Virgil. We shall then perceive, that taken from art, and alway suggests to the genius of Homer, Virgil, and Milthe mind images of artificial life, of ton differed from each other not so personal or external, but not of nien- much in degrees of elevation, loftiness, tal greatness. We find, accordingly, sublimity, or expansion of intellect, that the terms, majesty and majestic are as in the original stamp or character always applied by correct writers to of their genius. Before I enter into manners or personal accomplishments. this enquiry, I shall make a few obMilton, himself, who in his proper ap- servations on the original causes that plication of terms has, perhaps, never distinguish writers of genius from each been excelled, if we except his Latin- other. These causes will naturally isms, Grecisms and Hebraisms, though, lead me to distinguish them into four he frequently uses these terms, always different classes, but the individuals applies them to sensible appearances, of each plass will be related to each manners, or deportment, but never to other, not in their intellectual powers, passions or intellectual endowments or the celebrity which they have acbut once. The reader who consults quired by their works, but in the orithe verbal index to his works, which ginal character of their minds, and the points out the different passages in congenial impulses by which they were which they occur, will be able to sa- directed and governed in their literary tisfy himself of the truth of this obser- pursuits. The relative merits of Milvation. In one passage, indeed, he ton cannot therefore be determined by does not apply it to sensible objects, the class in which he may be placed, but even here it is not used to express but by the rank which he holds in that passions, or mental faculties, but sim- class. ply to characterize style. The passage There are two sorts of knowledge; occurs in the fourth book of his “ Pa one which is acquired through the radise Regained,” line 359. And even medium of the understanding, the in these lines, I have no hesitation to other through the feelings; or, as some say, that, critically and philosophically philosophers call them, the internal speaking, (and the epigram on which senses. The kpowledge communicated I now comment can only be considered through the latter source begins to in this point of view) the term is impro- dawn much earlier on the infant mind perly applied, for a majestic style is, in than that which is obtained from the The strictest sense of the expression, an reasoning faculties. We know that artificial style. It is a style propped a rose is more beautiful than a thistle up by studied expressions, by an affec- long before we know that the whole is tation of loftiness, without those inter- greater than any of it's parts; not but nal resources of mind which, alone, can the latter truth is as obvious as enable us to acquire it. It is a style the former, the moment we come of words and not of thoughts; or if a to reflect upon it, but some people style of thoughts be not a licensed grow up to maturity before such a reexpression, it is a style which substi- flection enters their minds ; tutes lofty terms for lofty ideas. It whereas the appearances of nature is a style of pomp, shew, ornament, are always before our eyes, and force grandeur, splendourand magnificence, themselves upon our attention whether all of which are terms that denote no we will or will not. We have therething originally great,and merely desig- fore ideas of beauty and deformity, nate what is rendered great in appear- long before we begin to attend to the ance; or, in other words, it is the great- agreement or disagreement of our own nes of art, and not of nature. We must ideas. All our other feelings are exnot, therefore, unless we wish to be ercised in the same manner, before the amused with words, flatter ourselves understanding thinks of taking cogniwith an opinion, that Dryden's cele- zance of it's own operations. We read brated epigram enables us to form a in the countenances of our parents, clear and disticct perception of Mil- brothers, sisters, and all those with
whom we associate, the passions of notwithstanding his want of feeling, love and hatred, of mildness and anger, and his consequent ignorance of works of commiseration and cruelty, of pa- of taste, his intellectual faculties may tience, impatience, and all the other be of Herculean structure, and, in passions incident to human nature, in matters of pure science, he may trace our earliest years. Hence it is, that relations and differences which Hothe experience which we acquire in mer and Milton would seek after in matters of feeling, before the reasoning vain. Hence, then, the question is faculties begin to unfold themselves, easily decided, whether one science renders us always, more or less, the only will one genuis fit,” for it is obcreatures of instinct, for all knowledge vious that he who unites apathy of acquired through the senses must ne- feeling with strong intellectual faculcessarily be instinctive; and hence ties, can neither be a judge nor a writer also it is, that even philosophers and of works of taste, and can therefore metaphysicians, though they devote never produce an “ Iliad” or a “ Patheinselves to abstract contemplations, radise Lost,” because no intellectual cannot always divest themselves of power will enable him to discriminate that domination which sensible im- beauty unless he can feel it. Dr. Johnpressions exercised over them in their son then is evidently mistaken in supearly years; and they are now, as in posing, that whoever possesses strong their youth, often hurried away; if not intellectual faculties, is qualified to in their writings, at least in their ac excel in any literary pursuit to which tions, by the influence of the first im- he directs his attention. If the Doctor, pulse.
or any of the writers who have treated This influence, however, varies al- on this subject, had attended to the most in every individual; but it varies distinction which is rightly made benot in kind but in degree. What tween pure science and that knowledge pleases or displeases one man will ge- which is acquired through feeling, they nerally be found to please or displease could not hesitate a moment in agreeanother, but then the degree of plea- ing with Pope. The mind or intellecsure or displeasure which it imparts tual faculties can form no judgment varies in cacb. The same observation whatever of sensible beauties, as they is applicable to all our feelings. Wbat come entirely under the province of renders one man angry will have the feeling. How then can he who has no same effect upon another, though one feeling describe what he has no conmay be in a rage when the other ception of, because he cannot conceive is only somewhat ruffled in his tem- it except through feeling. It is imposper. One man is transported with the sible to describe the beauties of nabeauties of nature, and revels in the ture, or the pleasures resnlting from intoxication of sensible delight, while them, unless they are felt; and the another is simply pleased with the history of literature makes us acscenes or objects by which this plea- quainted with men whose mental sure is produced. The former, conse powers ware of “ giant mould,” but quently, perceives with a more discri- who were notwithstanding incapable minating eye what qualities in ob- of relishing the beauties of nature. A jects are most pleasing and agreeable, man of this stamp might possess as and continues longer to feel their in- much knowledge in his little finger, to fluence, while the latter forgets the in- use a common but very significant exfluence of impressions that were never pression, as Akenside possessed in his captivating or delightful, after his head; but a host of such men could mind has been for some time directed not write the following passage in his to abstract contemplations, and his “ Pleasures of Imagination," where reasoning faculties sufficiently deve- he describes the happiness which men loped. He begins now to repel the of feeling can alone enjoy. little of influence which he felt before,
-For him, the spring to repress his own feelings, and to
Distils her dews, and from the silken gem obey no law but that of the under. It's Incid leaves unfolds; for him the hand standing. Such a man is always a
Of autumn tinges every fertile branch novice in the science of feeling, and with blooming gold, and blushes like the consequently no judge of works of
morn. taste, as the understanding alone can Each passing hour shieds tribute from her dever determine their merits.
And still new beauties meet his lonely of feeling whichi nature bas portioned
out to the individuals of which it is And loves nnfelt attract him. Not a
composed, partly from the different breeze
objects of feeling which engage their Flies o'er the meadow; not a cloud im- attention, and partly from the different
bibes The setting sun's effulgence; not a strain degrees in which they exercise their From all the tenants of the warbling
intellectual faculties. shade
The, principal writers belonging to Ascends ; but whence his busom can par
these two classes, which I shall call the take
first and fourth classes of writers, for Fresh pleasures, unreproved."
reasons which willimmediately appear,
are, If this passage could only be written by him who felt what he described, 1st Class.
4th Class. and if, at the same time, there have been Homer
Euclid writers, who, though they could not Eschylus
Archimides describe it, possessed more enlarged Euripides Aristotle intellectual faculties than Akenside Sophocles Descartes could pretend to, it is obvious that Anacreon
Ramus men of genius divide themselves into Pindar
Bayle two classes ; namely, men whose know Sappho
Leibnitz ledge is chiefly acquired through the Demosthenes Malbranche medium of fceling, and men who ac Ovid
Bacon quire it chiefly through the medium of Metastasio Newton the understanding, and that conse Ariosto
Locke quently the latter can excel only in Dante
Berkley matters of pure science, the former Camoens
Hume only in works of taste and imagina Cervantes
Kant. tion. The latter cannot excel in works Fontaine of taste, because they do not feel. At Rousseau every step they advance, they require Massilon to be propped up by principles, dog Brugere mas, data, axioms, postulates, pre Ossian mises, conclusions, corollaries, ma Shakspeare jors, minors, predicates, and all the Spenser other original elements of reasoning
Goldsmith on which demonstration is founded. Sterne The former cannot excel in abstract Calderon subjects, because the ardur of their feel Goethe. ings will not suller them to linger amid the desert abodes of an uninhabited These two classes of writers, though world, to trace distinctions where there each of them contains some of the are no visible objects to ho distin wost celebrated names of which literaguished, and to discover relations, not ture can boast, stand in the opposite between the sensible appearances but extremes of intellect. They possess, the invisible attributes of the physical indeed, very little in common, and and intellectual world. They love differ as much as is possible for one to give an unlimited career to the pre- mode of intelligence (reasoning “ from dominating influence of their own feel what we know,”) to differ from another. ings, from which they derive that The writers of the first class view every energy, vigour,'enthusiasm, invention, object through the medium of feeling, and genius, which have immortalized or if they cxercise their understanding, their names, and stamped a character. they either do sounconsciously or seem of originality upon their works, which to do so, so that their works never smell distinguish them from every other class of the midnight oil. They differ from of writers. These are the only two each other, therefore, in degrees of classes of minds into which pature has feeling, not in degrees of intellect; for distinguished the human race: but the lowest in the scale, as Massilon, these again divide themselves into an Goldsmith, Sterne, &c. could deduce endless diversity of orders, particu- conclusions from premises with as larly the former class. This diversity great accuracy, and distinguish the partly arises from the different degrees objects which engaged their attention