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ESSAY ON POPE'S ART OF CRITICISM.
(Continued from page 253.)
Having thus taken a cursory view of The airy Caucasus, the Apeunine, the early state and gradual progress of Pyrene's cliffes where sunne doth neve the art of criticism in England, and
shine, among some of the principal continen When he some heaps of hills hath overtal nations, I proceed to introduce such went, passages from Pope's Essay, as are pe- Beginnes to think on rest, his journey cularly deserving of attention for ori spent, ginality of idea, or elegance of expres
Till, mounting some tall mountaine, he sion; and these are indeed so nume
More hights before him than he left berous, that it is difficult to make a just
hinde*. and concise selection. Amongst the first, however, we cannot but observe
Silius Italicus also, in his poem on the following comparison of a student's progress in the sciences, with the jour- the difficulties and dangers attending
the second Punic war, in describing ney of a traveller over the Alps; a comparison which, in Dr. Johnson's opi; Hannibal, has the following lines :
the crossing of the Alps by the army of nion, is one of the best that English poetry can show. “ It has no useless
-Crescit laber. Ardua supra parts, yet affords a striking picture by Sese aperit fessis, et nascitur altera moles, itself; it makes the foregoing position Nude nec edomitos exsudatosque labores better understood, and enables it to Resexisse libet; tanta formidine plana take a stronger hold on the attention Exterrant repetita oculis, atque una pruinæ it assists the apprehension, and elevates Canentis, quâcumque datur permittere the fancy."
Ingeritur facies t. So pleas'd at first the tow'ring Alps we try, Mount o'er the vales, and seem to tread The following is a most elegant and
accurate description of the Pantheon : Th' eternal snows appear already past, And the first clouds and mountains seem Thus when we view some well-proporthe last !
tion'd dome, But those attain'd, we tremble to survey
(The world's just wonder, and ev'n thine, The growing labours of the lengthen'd way; O Rome!) The increasing prospect tires our wand
No single parts unequally surprise, ring eyes,
All comes united to th' admiring eyes; Hills peep o'er bills, and Alps on Alps
No monstrous height, or breadth, or length, arise!
The whole at once is bold and regular. Dr. Warton, however has given a
247-252 very different character of this celebrated
passage. “ The images,” he says, Dr. Akenside, in his Ode to Lord appear too general and indistinct, and Huntingdon, has attempted a similar the last line conveys no new idea to the description with equal success : mind.” It seems evidently to have been suggested by the following description Hark, how the dread Pantheon stands in the works of Drummond:
Amid the domes of modern hands!
Amid the toys of idle state,
passe, Or Atlas' temples crown'd with winter's And a living poet of great celebrity glasse,
has drawn a picture of this noble edi.
* The works of William Drummond, of Hawthornden, published in 1791-8to. page 39.
+ Lib. III. 529—535. See also Livy's account of this celebrated passage (lib. XXI. ch. 32 et seq.) and Lord Shaftesbury's Moralists, vol. II. part iii, page 253_duod. edit. of 1749.
fice not inferior to either of the preced- ceits and imaginary beauties. All that ing:
can furnish this representation are the
sounds of the words considered singly, Simple, erect, severe, austere, sublime aud the time in which they are proShrine of all saints and temples of all gods nounced. Every language has some From Jove to Jesus spar'd and blest by words framed to convey an image of the time;
ideas which they express; but these are Looking tranquility, while falls'or nods
few,and the poet cannot make them more, Arcb, empire, each thing round thee, and
nor can they be of any use except when man plods
sound is intended. Such words cerHis way thro' thorns to ashes-glorious tainly give to a verse the proper similidome!
tude of sound without much labour of Shalt thou not last? Time's scythe and
the writer; but these happinesses must tyrants rods
be attributed to fortune rather than to Shiver upon thee-sanctuary and home Of art and piety - Pantheon! pride of skill; although when combined with Rome!
propriety, they undoubtedly contribute, Childe Harold, Cant. iv. st. cxlvi. to enforce the expression of the ideas t.
In the dactylick measures of the learned Let us next observe the following languages, the time of pronunciation
was capable of considerable variety;
but that variety could be accommodated, 'Tis not enough no harshness gives offence; only to motion and duration, and diffeThe sound must seem an echo to the sense. rent degrees of motion were perhaps, Soft is the strain when zephyr gently expressed by verses rapid or slow, withblows,
out engaging the attention of the And the smooth stream in smoother num.
writer, when the images had full posbers flows;
session of his fancy; but the English But when loud surges lash the sounding shore,
language being susceptible of very little The hoarse rough verse should like the flexibility or modulation, our verses can torrent roar.
differ very little in their cadence. BeauWhen Ajax strives some rock's vast weight
ties of this kind, therefore, are comto throw,
monly fancied; and when real are techThe line too labours, and the words move nical and nugatory, not to be rejected, slow :
and not to be solicited." Not so when swift Camilla scours the plain, It is worthy of remark, that these Flies o'er th' unbending corn,
verses which we have quoted, are taken along the main.
364—373 from the third book of Vida's Art of
Poetry, the whole of which work, Pope These lines are usually quoted as fine appears to have consulted in the course examples of a successful adaptation of of his poem. The entire passage in the sound to the sense. But that Pope Vida (from verse 389 to verse 441), of has failed in this endeavour has been
which a part only is here selected, declearly demonstrated in the Rambler, seves minute attention for the elegance (No. 92). Nor was this the first time that
of its style, and the harmony of its it had been made the subject of critical numbers; affording throughout, adremark; for Aaron Hill had long before, mirable examples of an exact accom, in his “ Letter to Pope," pointed out modation of the sound to the sense, and its various inaccuracies and imperfec- displaying all the graces of versifications. Dr. Johnson, in his “Life of tion by the contrast of objects. Pope,” has made some further obser- Haud satis est illis utcunque claudere ver. vations on this celebrated passage,
may with propriety be introduced Omnia sed numeris vocum concordibus aphere. “ The notion of representative tant, metre, and the desire of discovering Atque sono quæcunque canunt imitantur, frequent adaptations of the sound to the sense, have produced many wild con Verborum facie, et quæsito carminis ore.
* See also Dyer's “ Ruins of Rome," -180-194.
+ See Dr. Johnson's other excellent remarks on this subject in Nos. 92 and 94 of the Rambler; and observations on the language and versification of Milton, in Nos. 96, 88, and so.
Tunc longo sale saxa sonant, tunc et freta ment to his great poetical master, with ventis
reference to that performance, at the Incipiunt agitata tumescere : littore fluctus
conclusion of this passage, is introduced Illidunt rauco, atque refracta remurmurat with singular dexterity and elegance :
unda. Atque adeo siquid geritur molimina magno
The pow'r of music all our hearts allow, Adde moram, et pariter tecum quoque vera
And what Timotheus was is Dryden now. ba laborem Segnia Hæc melior motuque pedum et pernicibus
Pope was peculiarly happy in giving alis
this unexpected turn to many of his Molle viam tacito lapsu per levia vadit.” sentences, whether panegyrical or sati
rical; for instance, to Sir William These lines have been thus excel. Trumball in his “Windsor Forest;" lently translated by Pitt :
(v. 258.) and to Lord Cobham in his
• Moral Essays,” (Epist. I. 262.) “ a 'Tis not enough his verses to complete most delicate compliment concealed unIn measure, number, or determin'd feet; der the appearance of satire.” Many To all proportion's terms be must dispense, more are to be found throughout his And make the sound a picture of the sense. works; but especially in the Prologue When the hoarse ocean beats the sounding to the Satires,” and “ Imitations of shore,
Horace." Dash'd from the strand, the flying waters roar,
So when the faithful pencil has design'd Flash at the shock, and gath'ring in a heap,
Soine bright idea of the master's mind; The liquid mountains o'erbang the decp.- When a new world leaps out at his comIf some large weight his huge arm strive
mand, to shove,
And ready nature waits upon bis hand; The verse too labours, the throng'd words When the ripe colours soften and unite,
And sweetly melt into just shade and light, With rapid wings and feet without delay When mellowing years their full perfection She swiftly flies, and smoothly skims away. give,
And each bold figure just begins to live, Pitt's version of Vida was not com The treach'rous colours the fair art betray, pleted until 1724, which was thirteen And all the bright creation fades away. years after the publication of Pope's
484-493 Essay. It is evident, therefore, from the above quotation, that the translator
Nothing can be more happily expreshad Pope's celebrated lines in view.
sed than these beautiful lines on the art
of painting. This was a subject which, The following verses are beautifully of all others, was most pleasing to Pope, descriptive of the power of music: and which he therefore touched with
the hand of a master. We may compare Hear bow Timotheus' vary'd lays sur
with them to advantage the following prise, And.bid alternate passions fall and rise ;
passage from the conclusion of Dryden's While, at each change, the son of Lybian Epistle to Sir Godfrey Kneller:
Jove Now burns with glory, and then melts with More cannot be by mortal art express'd, love :
But venerable age shall add the rest : Now his fierce eyes with sparkling fury For time shall with his ready pencil stand, glow,
Retouch your figures with his rip'ning Now sighs steal out, and tears begin to hand; flow:
Mellow your colours, and imbrown the Persians and Greeks like turns of nature tint, found,
Add every grace which time alone can And the world's victor stood subdued by grant; sound!
374-381. To future ages shall your fame convey,
And give more beauties than he takes In this attempt to imitate Dryden's
away*. divine ode to music, Pope has been eminently successful. It is indeed one The following passages display, great of his happiest efforts. The compli- depth of thought and vigour of imagi
* Dryden's Works. Epist. XV, 159-166.
nation, and are distinguished by singu On the proper use of wit: lar ease and felicity of expression: On the effects of the warmth of fancy: Some to whom Heav'n in wit has been pro
fuse, Nature to all things fix'd the limits fit, Want as much more to turn it to its use; And wisely curb'd proud man's pretending 'Tis more to guide than spur the muse's wit
steed, As on the land while here the ocean gains, Restrain his fury than provoke his speed: In other parts it leaves wide sandy plains; The winged courser, like a gen'rous horse, Thus in the soul while MEMORY prevails, Shows most true mettle when you check bis The solid power of UNDERSTANDING
80–87. fails: Where beams of warm IMAGINATION play, On poetical licence : The mem'ry's soft figures melt away.
52–59. Some beauties yet no precepts can declare, “ I hardly believe,” says Warton, in For there's a happiness as well as care. speaking of this passage,
“ that there Music resembles poetry; in each is in any language a metaphor more Are nameless graces, which no methods appositely applied, or more elegantly teach,
And which a master-band alone can expressed, than this of the effects of the
reach. warmth of fancy. Locke, who has embellished his dry subject with a variety And rise to faults true critics dare not
Great wits sometimes may gloriously offend, of pleasing_similitudes and allusions,
mend; has, in his Essay on the Human Under- From vulgar bounds with brave disorder standing, a passage relating to the re
part, tentiveness of the memory, exactly si And snatch a grace beyond the reach of milar to the one before us. For this we must refer the reader to the Essay In prospects thus some objects please our itself.
eyes, On the adaptation of the human mind Which out of nature's common order to one particular branch of science : rise, One science only will one genius fit;
The shapeless rock, or hanging precipice.
141-160. So vast is art, so narrow human wit : Not only bounded to peculiar arts, But oft’ in those confin'd to single parts.
On true wit: Like kings, we lose the conquests gain'd before,
True wit is nature to advantage dress'd, By vain ambition still to niake them more: What oft was thought, but ne'er so well Each might his sev'ral province well com express'd; mand,
Something whose truth convinc'd at sight Would all but stoop to what they under
we find, stand.
297-300. On the universality of the operations of nature :
On real eloquence of style and exUnerring Datare! still divinely bright, pression : One clear, unchang'd, and universal light, Life, force, and beauty must to all impart, Words are like leaves, and where they At once the source, and end, and test, of most abound, art.
Much fruit of sense beneath is rarely Art from that fund each just supply pro found. vides,
False eloquence, like the prismatic glass, Works without shew, and without pomp Its gaudy colours spreads on ev'ry place ; presides :
The face of nature we no more survey, In some fair body thus th' imforming soul All glares alike, without distinction gay; With spirits feeds, with vigour fills, the But true expression, like th' unchanging whole;
sun, Each motion guides, and ev'ry nerve sus Clears and improves whate'er it shines tains
upon Itself unseen, but in th' effect remains. It gilds all objects, but it alters none. 70–79.
Chap. x. sect. 5.
On the superiority of genius to the While expletives their feeble aid do join, temporary attacks of envy, rancour and And ten low words oft' deep in one dull hostility:
While they ring round the same unvary'd Envy will merit as its shade pursue,
chimes, But, like a shadow, prove the substance With sure returns of still expected rhymes; true;
Where'er you find the cooling western For envy'd wit, like Sol eclips'd, makes breeze, known
In the next line, it whispers thro' the trees : Th' opposing body's grossness, not its own. If chrystal streams with pleasing murmurs When first that sun too pow'rful beams creep, displays,
The reader's threaten’d (not in vain) with It draws up vapours which obscure its sleep.
In these and the preceding lines, beBut e'en those clouds at last adorn its way, ginning at verse 289, the poet enumeReflect new glories, and augment the day.
rates the faults which were, in his time, 466-472.
too common in poetical composition ; Many more such passages, distin- such as a fondness for conceits (an er? guished by equal penetration and good ror, by the way, into which he himself sense, could be selected, were it not that
has not unfrequently fallen in the course they would encroach too largely upon ing thoughts--for florid and bombastic
of this poem,) for showy and glittermust refer the reader to the work
itself. language, and for formal and antique The quotations we have introduced are
phraseology. He also alludes to the sufficient to shew the extraordinary ma
harsh and inharmonious style of some turity and fertility of Pope's genius at
authors, and the unvaried monotonous
versification of others—to the disagreethe early period of life, at which this
able hiatus of the vowels—the too frepoem was written. We now, therefore, proceed to comment on a few passages bles, and to the general want of ele
quent use of expletives and monosyllarelating to some of his contemporaries, and to offer such remarks as may tend
gance and dignity in modern poetry.-
The first few verses of the preceding to throw a new light on the men and manners of that day.
quotation were probably suggested by
some lines on the same subject in the But most by numbers judge a poet's song,
first Satire of Persius, and the rest by And smooth or rough with them is right different passages in Cicero's Epistle to or wrong
Herennius, the ninth book of Quintilian, These equal syllables alone require, and Dryden's Essay on Dramatic Poetry. Tho' oft' the ear the open vowels tire ; (to be concluded in the next.)
THE METAMORPHOSES OF LIFE.
COUSIN SARAH TO COUSIN SUSAN.
On Sue, you could never guess half what has past,
See verses 31, 83, 109, 208, 271, 321, 332, 389,432,434, 501, 533, 601, 603, and 628.