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its towering flight through regions of nizance. During this period, philoso-
change sides altogether, acquainted with objects than with their what was imagination yesterday, beproperties; but imagination is in search coming philosophy after objects themselves. When it tra versa, what was philosophy, becoming verses regions of ideal or possible ex. imagination. Whilever the objects of istence, it seeks only to discover the which the mind is in pursuit remain beings which are most likely to inhabit placed beyond the reach of certainty, those unexplored retreats; while philo- they are properly objects of imaginasophy, less daring, and less presump but the moment we ascertain them tuous in its flights, exerts itself in ascer to be true or false, they become objects taining the qualities and affections of of philosophy. On the other hand, what such beings as are placed immediately appears to be philosophy, is frequently before it.” Imagination, despising its nothing more than imagination, such relation with material existence, and as the various theories and hypotheses the vulgar appearances of nature, at formed by astronomers and natural phitempts a higher flight, and seeks to losophers before the days of Newton. become acquainted with beings of a These passed at the time for so many sublimer and more etherial mould. It systems of philosophy; but the progress is, therefore, only a higher order of of science has detected the illusion, and philosophy; or, in other words, the proved them to be nothing more than highest order to which philosophy can the airy fabrics of imagination. It is aspire. Both orders, however, are con obvious, then, that the philosophic spitinually mingling and communing with rit, and that exercise of mind which is each other. When the philosopher is called imagination, are not only nearly puzzled or confounded in his attempts allied, but that they are in fact only to explain some natural phenomena, he different operations of the same spirit; indulges in imagination;
and conjecture and therefore we cannot be surprized supplies what reason cannot ascertain. that Milton should be at once a philoThis relation between philosophy and sopher and a writer of sublime and eximagination is more apparent in the in- panded imagination. It is generally fancy of science; while the former is allowed, that sublimity is the distinnonplused, and unable to account for guishing characteristic feature of Milthe phenomena of which it takes cog- ton's poetry; and this opinion appears
to me one of the many proofs we have, Oh, write it not my hand, the name appears that the judgment of the public is sel- Already written, wash it out, my tears. dom in error. Sublimity is certainly In vain lost Eloisa weeps and prays, the grand feature that distinguishes not
Her heart still dictates, and her hand obeys. only the “ Paradise Lost,” but all the works of Milton. No writer or poet this sublime writing, with Mr. Payne
It is certain, however, that if we call has equalled him in this character of intellectual greatness ; but then it must Knight, Lord Kames, &c. it was not be remembered, that sublimity is not
that sort of sublimity in which Milton poetry. Besides, if we admit that there
excelled: his soul was not tuned to is a sublimity of passion as well as a
notes of tender feeling, or impassioned sublimity of imagination, it is certain sensibility. The great and the sublime that Milton excelled only in the latter; of external nature, and of external apand
indeed I believe, when properly pearances, and the images which imaexamined, we shall find that there is no
gination “ bodies forth” of sensible real sublimity but what arises from ima- being, was the only sublime with which gination, or the agency of external ob he was acquainted. In my opinion, jects. To call the emotion or sentiment nothing shews the absurdity of applywhich is excited in the breast of an in- ing the term sublime to these two spedividual by circumstances and situa- cies of writing more than the fact, that
" the force of nations, sublime, seems to be an evident he who went perversion of terms. Such a sentiment ture could go” in the latter, was a mere may be pathetic, but if we call it sub
novice in the former. This appears evilime at the same time, what do we gain his want of feeling, and from his own
dent from what I have already said of by doing so, but to confound terms which would have remained clearly dis- acknowledgment, where he informs us tinct if each of them were confined to
that he was its own class of ideas. Yet most writers on subjects of taste and criticism, seem
Not sedulous by nature to indite
Wars bitherto the only argument to have conspired in confounding these Heroic deemed. ideas with each other, by quoting pathetic sentiments as examples of sub- For by wars he did not mean wars lime writing, of which the famous alone, but all the vicissitudes of fortune Qu'il Mourut of Corneille is a noted to which the hero of the poem, and all instance. The pathetic, however, is as the subordinate characters are diversely distinct from the sublime, as feeling is exposed. This is the real argument, from imagination. The following lines or more properly speaking, the real are extremely pathetic; but to call them subject of the poems to which Milton sublime on that account, appears to me alluded, as the Iliad, the Odyssey, the the surest means of perpetuating error, Æneid, the Jerusalem Delivered, &c. by confounding in language, percep- Milton could not succeed in subjects of tions which stand clearly distinct from this kind, simply because he could not each other in the mind.
describe the feelings which would na
turally be excited by every new situaPity the sorrows of a poor old man,
tion in which he should happen to place Whose trembling limbs bave borne bim to his characters; and the reason he could your door;
not describe them was, because he was Whose days are dwindled to the shortest little acquainted with the human heart, span :
and consequently with the modes of Oh! give relief, and heaven will bless feeling which it experiences under the your store.
different influences of times and circum
stances. No wonder, then, that of these Or the following lines still more affect
he was ing and pathetic.
Nor skilled nor studious, Dear fatal name, rest ever unrevealed,
because no man is studious of that Nor pass these lips in holy silence sealed;
for which he has no talent or genius. Hide it my heart within that close dis Milton's genius consisted in taking an guise,
enlarged view of the works of creation: Where, mixed with God's, his loved idea he travelled as far as he could, with lies:
certainty for his guide; but where cer
tainty forsook him, he pursued his ply the want of original feeling ;-the course under the guidance of imagina- want of that quick sensibility of nerve tion, and consequently enlarged the which instantly responds to every imsphere from which he selected his pulse; for how describe a feeling which images to an almost unlimited extent. is not felt, and of which, until felt, we. This is the true source of Milton's sub can form no idea. If it should be limity; and if it could be shewn that thought that this doctrine leads to matea writer is always poetic in proportion rialism, as this quick sensibility results as he is sublime, Milton would certainly from our physical organization, I reply, stand at the head of poets, and deprive that it must first be shewn that our phyHomer of that poetic sovereignty which sical organization itself is not the rehe is likely ever to retain. Homer, how- sult of that elemental spark that awakes ever, approaches nearer to the sublimity us into existence. Who can tell but it of Milton, than Milton does to the po- is the different degrees of energy which etic enthusiasm of Homer. This enthu- our spiritual part originally possesses, siasm gave him a greater versatility of that communicates to us those different talent than Milton possessed: his feel- degrees of sensibility which distinguish ings were so plastic, that they always us from each other, and which produce took“ their form and pressure" from every thing that we call the result the subject before them, instead of of physical organization, as strength, obliging the subject to take their dress weakness, rapidity, sluggishness, paand character from them. Homer's feel- tience, impatience, &c. As the subject, ings were of that fine and ductile mould, however, does not belong to our present that they yielded to the slightest im- inquiry, I make use of this one argupulse: he therefore painted all his scenes ment to guard myself against the im. and characters as different as the origi- putation of materialism. Whatever be nals were in nature, because every scene, the cause of that quickness of feeling character, and situation, made its own which is the soul of poetry, certain it appropriate impression upon him; and is, that no man can be a poet without it. this impression he described exactly as Poets are justly called the genus irritahe felt it, and therefore the description bile vatum ; for wherever the feelings was always a faithful portrait of the are easily affected, they are, conseoriginal. Milton's feelings were not so quently, more easily irritated, simply accommodating : they could not so ea because they are more subject to all sily become whatever their subject re modes of feeling and passion. If, then, quired of them. Too proud to bend to irritability has rendered itself a more every impulse, they retained their lordly prominent feature in their character superiority; and instead of describing than any other passion, it is only bescenes, characters, and situations ac cause it exposes their weakness more cording to the impressions which they than any other; and we cannot help inmade on him, he described them as dulging in reflection, and admiring that his own understanding or imagination incomprehensible government of nature painted them to his mind: he did not or of providence, which has ordained consult his feelings, merely because he that weakness and wisdom should be found they had no information to give so closely allied. him: they could not tell him how they The observations which I have hiwere affected by the subjects he was at therto made on the genius of Milton tempting to describe, because they were are chiefly founded upon the“ Paradise not affected at all; or at least in so Lost,” as being the poem which alone slight a degree, that the impressions has served to immortalize his name. I were too vague and indistinct to be de- know that if novelty and originality of ciphered with certainty. Instead, there opinion possess any merit, I must be fore, of attempting to describe confused allowed some portion; for I believe I and uncertain feelings, which were all am the first who has ventured to call in too much alike to be distinguished from question, Milton's poetical pre-eminence. each other, he described every thing as Doctor Johnson, and Mr. Payne Knight, imagination directed him.
have, indeed, boldly acknowledged that From these observations we may Milton is not one of those poets to whom draw an important inference; which is, we return with pleasure; but they have that no intellectual powers, no clearness not ventured to attribute this to any deor comprehensiveness of idea, can sup- ficiency of poetical genius. Mr. Knight
ascribes it almost entirely, and, if I re- right: they only erred in not distinmember right, exclusively, to the sole guishịng whereið his pre-eminence concircumstance of his having written in sisted; or in not ascertaining precisely in blank verse ; and he ascribes the same what powers of mind he particularly exreason for the want of interest in Thomp- celled. That common feeling which in son's Seasons. I have not aimed, how- stinctively discerns every species of ex. ever, at being novel, in order to distin- cellence, does not however, possess that guish myself from other writers; for I still finer tact which separates all the spe. prize not that novelty and originality cies from each other, and perceives the which is not founded in truth. Perhaps, impassable lines that eternally prevent indeed, I may have some reason to trem them from mingling with each other, ble for opinions which are advanced in Milton's pre-eminence was supposed to opposition to Addison, Johnson, and consist in his poetical genius, but this the voice of public opinion; but with arose from the confusion which has reregard to Addison and Johnson, I am sulted from confounding the poetic with perfectly easy: they claimed no exemp the sublime. With the public opinion tion from fallibility; and it belongs to then I agree so far as admitting that the public to decide which of us has es Milton was the first in his class, but his caped most successfully from the snares comparative excellence can only be ap: which encompass our judgment, in all preciated by comparing him with wriits decisions. Addison, indeed, was ters whose characteristic excellence iş well
. qualified to judge of Milton's real sublimity and not poetry. If we expoetical merits, but like other critics, cept some of the inspired penmen, Milhe was imposed upon by mistaking sub ton is the most sublime of all writers ; limity for poetry. He had, like all wri- but I cannot agree that he was the first ters of refined taste, a high respect for of poets ; and if public opinion were public opinion, and as he conceived that properly known, I have no hesitation the public looked upon Milton as the to say, that the public admire Milton first, or at least the second of poets, he not as a poet, but as a sublime writer, distrusted his own judgment wherever Those who admire him as a poet, do so it perceived any want of interest in the merely because they have paid no atten" Paradise Lost.” He chose therefore tion to the difference between sublimity rather to bestow unqualified praise than and poetry. venture to call in question the judgment With regard to Dr. Johnson's high of that tribunal to which not only poe- opinion of Milton's poetical genius, he tic but literary merit of every descrip- was evidently deceived like Addison tion must ultimately appeal. If the and all the rest, by confounding the public judgment was, what Addison sublime with the poetic. Had he only conceived it to be, I would acknowledge thought of separating them from each his propriety in submitting to its de- other, I believe he would have viewed cree; but nothing is more certain than the genius of Milton in the same light that we are frequently, ignorant of pub- that I have viewed it ; for it is obvious, lic opinion, even when this opinion seems from his critiques, that he considered openly and unequivocally to declare Milton devoid of feeling, passion, and itself to the world. Whenever the pub- poetic enthusiasm. He differed from lic extol any individual, that individual me only in supposing, that there must certainly possess extraordinary can be poetry without either feeling talents or endowments of some kind or or passion. I have, therefore, little to other; but the public may be still igno- fear from standing opposed to Johnson : rant of the distinctive character, or pe I admire Milton as much as any of his culiar nature of these endowments; for admirers; but I admire him as a subit belongs to philosophy alone to find lime writer, not as a poet; and I feel out what that faculty is which renders confident, that however the public may its possessor so noted and distinguished. be deceived by terms, it is his sublimity, This is the case with Milton: the pub- not bis poetry, that has procured him so lic have long, acknowledged his pre- high a place in their esteem, eminence; and in doing so, they were
APHORISMS, OPINIONS, AND THOUGHTS ON MORALS.
cond, it may
Without command of temper, no one the first instance: in the seco can be sure of always speaking the be vice. truth; for
many persons of both sexes To stigmatize the whole of our noutter, while under the dominion of pas- bility as profligate, because some of sion, what they are glad to disown and them stand forth conspicuous for their explain away when their passion is over. profligacy, would be as unjust as it would
Occasional irritability of nerves, and he to pronounce a country wholly desecret anxiety, may sometimes overset ficient in entire, habitable, and respecteven the finest temper. We must, there able mansions, because a few ruined fore, denominate as fine tempered, not edifices force themselves on the eye, those who are never out of humour, for rendered prominent and remarkable by where are they found ? but those who being on an elevated situation. are most rarely thrown off their guard. A family friend, or l'ami de la maison,
If happiness be the goal in view, vir- (as the French call him) may be dantue and talent may be called two Ara
gerous to the peace of a married coubian coursers, which, however fleet and ple, unless he be honourable, and the powerful, would never reach the desired
wife well-principled : for he who is a and destined point, unless managed and guest at all times, and welcome at all guided by the hand of Temper.
hours, must sometimes come when a The talent exhibited in caricatures is cloud has gathered on the brow of the very
low order of humour, and is husband, or the wife, and the latter of the highest order of malignity, and contrasts, perhaps, with the frowns of there is a little warp in the mind that her husband, the unruffled brow, the takes delight in them.
complacent smile, and constant attenLampoons of the pen, as well as lam- tion of the visitor and friend.-At such poons of the pencil, are offensive to
moments, how easily, if left alone with good taste and to good feeling, though her, may an artful man win from a not equally so with the latter, as the weak woman a detail of the causes of former are chiefly directed against men her husband's ill-humour and comtal, and, therefore, perhaps, corrigible plaints of his unkindness, while he, in imperfections; whereas, the latter are
reply, wonders how any man can have usually levelled at those of the body, the heart to afflict such excellence. which are, surely, more objects of pity In what misery does not one frail than ridicule. But though less the de woman involve all who are connected gree of malice, the lampoon is of the with her!-But let those women, who same quality as the caricature; and the are apt to consider thoughtlessness as mind that can write the one, would
an error of no consequence, either in probably, if it could, draw the other. themselves or others, remember that
There exists not any man, or woman, she violates her duty both to society of an affectionate and generous nature, and herself, who gives any one reason who would not much rather blame them
to say, or even to insinuate, that apselves than blame the object of their
pearance is against her. esteem and tenderness; and no feeling A child of four years old knows ismore difficult to be borne, than the right from wrong, as well as a person conscious degradation of the being, one of forty; and the boy, who lies at four has fondly adored.
years old, will lie when he is grown up; The egotism of the sick, and of the and it is to prevent this, that he ought dying, is as interesting, as that of other to be reasoned or punished out of this persons is wearisome and disgusting. fault when a child. Who can calculate on the mischiefs
Those, accustomed in childhood to resulting from the weak boastings of curb and deny their little appetites and vanity, uttered by impudence, and sup- passions, will be best able to struggle ported by falsehood ?
with and surmount the passions and Who can can say to what degrada- appetites of their riper years. tion to one's self, or destruction to It is the observation of every unanother, the indulgence of vanity may prejudiced person, that those parents not lead? It may only be weakness in are treated by their children, through