Page images


Kingdom's are but cares;
State is devoid of stay;
Riches are ready snares,
And hasten to decay.
Pleasure is a privy (game)
Which vice doth still provoke ;
Pomp, unprompt; and fame, a flame;
Power, a smouldering smoke.
Who meaneth to remove the rocke
Out of his slimy mud,
Shall mire himself, and hardly scape

The swelling of the flood. The pious and contemplative dis- So minutes, hours, days, months, and years, position of this monarch, well be- Past over to the end they were created, trays itself in these verses; they would bring white hairs into a quiet grave. are not inelegant, and were written Ah, what a life were this, how sweet, how probably about 40 years after the lovely! time of Chaucer. The author of

Gives not the hawthorn bush & sweeter

shade such unambitious sentiments might To shepherds, looking on their silly sheep, well be supposed to utter those con- Than doth a rich embroider'd canopy genial lines which the poet has given To kings, that fear their subjects' treachery? him :

Henry VI. Part 3. O God! methinks it were a happy life, To be no better than a homely swain;

It is more than probable, that the To sit upon a hill, as I do now,

poet had never seen his royal bros To carve out dials quaintly, point by point, he hit off the same melancholy and

ther's verses, yet how admirably has Thereby to see the minutes how they run: How many make the hour full complete, philosophic strain, which it appears How many hours bring about a day, Henry himself had indulged. What How many days will finish up a year, a pity this unfortunate monarch was How many years a mortal man may live. not born to a crook instead of a When this is known, then to divide the times :

sceptre !

Lest we should not find, even so So many hours must I tend my flock ; So many hours must I take my rest ;

unfit an opportunity as this is, we So many hours must I contemplate ;

beg leave to subjoin here two senSo many hours must I sport myself ;

tences written by the same Henry, So many days my ewes have been with and preserved by one who had taken young ;

him prisoner in the wars of York and So many weeks ere the poor fools will yean; Lancaster :So many years ere I shall sheer the fleece :

Patience is the armour and conquest of the godly: this meriteth

mercy, when causeless is suffered sorrow.
Nought else is war but fury and madness, wherein is not advice

but rashness; not right but rage, ruleth and reigneth. These breathe the same mild and every thing; so had he a foot (a gouty amiable spirit; they confirm that one we confess) on the hill of Poesy; character which their author has re he was the landlord of so much ceived from history: more of the ground there, as produced one weed saint than the soldier, less of the of a proud carriage, but of little prince than the philosopher.

fragrance, – the Turk's Cap, proKing Bluff, as he had a finger in bably:

The eagle's force subdues each bird that flies ;

What metal can resist the flaming fire ?
Doth not the sun dazzle the clearest eyes,

And melt the ice, and make the frost retire?
The hardest stones are pierced thro' with tools ;
The wisest are, with Princes, made but fools.

[ocr errors]

So much for the Royal Polygamist

He bowed the heavens also and came and his despotic verses. « Fools,” down: and darkness was under his feet. indeed, to allow a son of clay like

And he rode upon a cherub and did fly: themselves, to insult them in poetry, yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind. as if prose were not sublime enough

He made darkness his secret place : his to express the greatness of their in- pavilions round about him were dark waters,

and thick clouds of the skies..... significance !

The Lord also thundered in the hea. The Emperor Adrian had un

vens: and the Highest gave his voice, doubtedly a soul for poetry; the pa- hailstones and coals of fire. thetic lines which he wrote whilst Yea, he sent out his arrows and scattered on his death-bed, have never been them; and he shot out lightnings and disequalled, though frequently imitated comfited them. by those who would blush to be com

Then the channels of waters were seen, pared with him as poets :

and the foundations of the world were dis

covered : at thy rebuke, O Lord, at the Animula, vagula, blandula,

blast of the breath of thy nostrils. Hospes, comesque corporis, Quæ nunc abibis in loca?

Poetry of such tremendous subliPallidula, rigida, nudula,

mity as this, renders all other comNec, ut soles, dabis joca ?

position mean and grovelling. It

transcends, by an infinite measure, The diminutives and titles of en- Virgils description of Jupiter striking dearment which the dying Emperor Mount Athos with a thunderbolt, in applies to his soul, give these verses

his Georgics. Milton, whose temea prettiness, yet of a melancholy rity in the sublime is remarkable, sort, which no translation into Eng- and whose subject often inspires him lish can attain. It is worth while with more than mortal strength of remarking, that the epitaphs-pale, imagination, appears tame and feeble stiff, and naked, cannot be preserved beside the poet of God. except when the national mythology

History informs us, that Alexander allows the spirit to be material, or the Great usually slept with Homer at least, visible, as was the case with and his sword under his pillow. It Paganism. It is so likewise,, per- is probable, however, that the martial haps, with vulgar, but certainly not and adventurous nature of these with true and philosophical Christi- works procured them this honour, anity.

not their poetical merit. But as to But of Royal Poets, David is at Alexander himself, he was certainly once the most ancient and most il- no poet-at least if he was, history lustrious; the Sacred Minstrel can has forgot to mention it. Pisistratus, alone, of all the sceptred race, be tyrant of Athens, is said to have colsaid to have enjoyed in its highest lected the scattered verses of Homer, degree, the gift of poetic inspiration, a better proof of his taste than unless the Song of Solomon be pro- Alexander bas left us of his ; neverperly so entitled. In one of his theless there is a great difference bePsalms there is a description which tween the compiler and composer of far exceeds in point of sublimity the

One or two instances more highest flights of profane imagina- than those we have given, might be tion; the Muse of Homer or of Shak- cited to increase the miserable band speare, in her loftiest hours, would of Poets Royal;* in examining their not have dared to utter such magni- pretensions, however, it is but fair ficent language as this:-

to own that they are very humble, Then the earth shook and trembled; and indeed (except in the sacred exthe foundations also of the hills moved and amples) should be so. were shaken, because He was wroth.


James I. of Scotland, author of King's Quair and Christ's Kirk of the Green, wears his laurel like a true soldier of Calliope.


No. IV.

FALSE DISTINCTIONS. The petty distinctions current in tion than men.--This monstrous asconversation and criticism--are all sertion, which is made in contempt false when they happen to regard in- of all literature, not only comes fortellectual objects: and there is no ward as a capital element in all atmode of error which is so disgust- tempts * to characterize the female ing to a man who has descended sex, as contradistinguished from the an inch below the surface of things: male, but generally forms the theme for their evil is-first, That they be- on which all the rest is but a descome so many fetters to the mind; cant. A friend, to whom I was noand secondly, That they give the ap- ticing this, suggested that by Imapearance of ambitious paradoxes to gination in this place was meant any juster distinctious substituted in simply the Fancy in its lighter and their places. More error is collected more delicate movements. But even in the form of popular distinctions this will not cure the proposition : than in any other shape: and as they so restricted even, it is a proposition are always assumed (from their uni- which sets all experience at defiversal currency), without the mind's ance. For, not to be so hard upon ever being summoned to review them, the female sex as to ask-Where they present incalculable hindrances is their Paradise Lost ? Where to its advance in every direction. is their Lear and Othello ?-I will What a world of delusion, for ex- content myself with asking, where is ample, lies in the hollow distinction the female Hudibras, or the female of Reason and Imagination. I pro- Dunciad? Or, to descend from works test that I feel a sense of shame for of so masculine a build, to others of the human intellect, and sit uneasily more delicate proportions, where is in my chair, when I hear a man the female Rape of the Lock? Or, summing up his critique upon a to adapt the question to the French book, by saying, “ that in short it is literature, Where is the female Veraddressed to the imagination and not Vert? † And the same questions to the reason." Yet upon this may be put, mutatis mutandis, upon meagre and vague opposition are all other literatures past or current. built many other errors as gross as Men are shy of pressing too hard itself. I will notice three :

upon women: however much our 1. That women have more imagina- sisters may be in the wrong (and

* See for instance those which occur in the works of Mrs. Hannah More a woman of great talents, and for whom I feel the greatest respect personally, having long had the pleasure of her acquaintance : her conversation is brilliant and instructive: but this has nothing to do with her philosophy.

+ This little work of Gresset's occupies the same station in the French literature that the Rape of the Lock does in ours. For playful wit, it is the jewel of the French Poésies Légéres. Its inferiority to the Rape of the Lock, however, both in plan and in brilliancy of execution, is very striking, -and well expresses the general ratio of the French literature to ours. If in any department, common prejudice would have led us in this to anticipate a superiority on the part of the French. Yet their inferiority is hardly any where more conspicuous.-By the way, it is very reinarkable, that the late Mr. Scott, who had expressly studied the French literature, should have had so little acquaintance with a writer of Gresset's eminence, as is argued by the fact of his having admitted into the LONDON MAGAZINE a mere prose abstract of the Ver-Vert, without any reference to the French original. This is the more remarkable, because there existed already in the English language, a metrical version of the Ver-Vert (a bad one, I dare say), which is reprinted in so notorious a book as Chalmers's Poets. The prose abstract is not ill executed according to my remembrance : but still an abridgment of a jeu d'esprit, in all parts elaborately burnished, is of itself an absurdity: to strip it of verse is no advantage: and to omit the recommendation of a celebrated name, seems to argue that it was unknown.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors]

they generally are in the wrong), in is the female Æschylus, or Euripides,
their disputes with us, they always or Aristophanes? Where is the fem
take the benefit of sex-which is a male rival of Chaucer, of Cervantes,
stronger privilege than benefit of of Calderon? Where is Mrs. Shak-
clergy. But, supposing them to waive speare? -No, no! good women:
that for a moment, and imagining it is sufficient honour for you that
this case—that the two sexes were to you produce us—the men of this
agree to part and to “pack up their planet—who produce the books (the
alls,” and each sex to hoist on its good ones, I mean). In some sense
backs its valuable contributions to therefore you are grandmothers to all
literature, then I shall be so ungal- the intellectual excellence that does
lant as to affirm, that the burthens or will exist : and let that content
would be pretty well aclapted to the you. As to poetry in its highest
respective shoulders and physical form, I never yet knew a woman-
powers which were to bear them ; nor will believe that any has existed
and for no department of litera- —who could rise to an entire sym-
ture would this hold more certainly pathy with what is most excellent in
true, than for the imaginative and that art. High abstractions, to which
the fanciful part. In mathematics poetry kar' džoxnv is always tending,
there exist works composed by wo- are utterly inapprehensible by the fe-
men-to reprieve which from des- male mind : the concrete and the in-
truction men would be glad to pay dividual, fleshed in action and cir-
something or other (let us not ask cumstance, are all that they can
too curiously how much ): but what reach : the rò kal' óle—the ideal-is
poem is there in any language (al- above them. Saying this, however, I
ways excepting those of our own mean no disrespect to female pre-
day) which any man would give a tensions : even intellectually they
trifle to save? Would he give a have their peculiar and separate ad-
shilling? If he would, I should rantages, though no balance to ours:
suspect the shilling exceedingly; and they have readier wits than men,
would advise a rigorous inquiry into because they are more easily im-
its character. I set aside Sappho and pressed and excited : and for moral
a few other female lyric poets; for greatness and magnanimity, under
we have not sufficient samples of the sharpest trials of danger, pain,
their poetry: and for modern litera- adversity, or temptation,—there is
ture I set aside the writers of short nothing so great that I cannot be-
poems that take no sweep and com- lieve of women. This world has
pass, such as Lady Winchelsea, produced nothing more heroic and
Madame Deshouliéres, &c. &c. But truly noble than Mrs. Hutchinson of
I ask with respect to poems solemnly Nottingham Castle, and Madame
planned, such as keep the poet on Roland : and we may be assured,
the wing and oblige him to sustain that there are many Hutchinsons and
his flight for a reasonable space and many Rolands at all times in posse,
variety of course,—where is there that would show themselves such, if
one of any great excellence which ordinary life supplied occasions : for
owes its existence to a woman? I their sakes I would be happy to tell
ask of any man who suffers his un- or to believe any reasonable lie in
derstanding to slumber so deeply and behalf of their sex: but I cannot and
to benefit so little by his experience, will not lie, or believe a lie, in the
as to allow credit to the doctrine that face of all history and experience.
women have the advantage of men 2. That the savage has more imagi-
in imagination; -1 ask him this nation than the civilized man:
startling question, which must surely 3. That Oriental nations have more
make him leap up from his dream. imagination (and according to some a
What work of imagination owing its more passionate constitution of mind)
birth to a woman can he lay his than those of Europe. As to sa-
hand on (-I am a reasonable man, vages, their poetry and their elo-
and do not ask for a hundred or a quence are always of the most un-
score, but will be content with one,) imaginative order: when they are
which has exerted any memorable figurative, they are so by mere ne-
influence, such as history would no- cessity; language being too poor
tice, upon the mind of man? Who amongst savage nations to express

any but the rudest thoughts; so that But this Arabian image has on the such feelings as are not of hourly re- contrary translated the infinite into currence can be expressed only by the finite. And so it is generally figures. Moreover it is a mistake to with Oriental imagery. suppose that merely to deal in figu- In all this there is something more rative language implies any imagi- than mere error of fact; something native power: it is one of the com- worse than mere error of theory; forit monest expressions of the over-ex- is thus implied that the understanding citement of weakness; for there are and the imaginativefaculty exist in inspasms of weakness no less than sulation-neither borrowing nor lendspasms of strength. In all the spe- ing; that they are strong at the excimens of savage eloquence which pense of each other ; &c. &c. And have been reported to us (as that of from these errors of theory arise Logan, &c.), there is every mark practical errors of the worst conseof an infantine understanding the quence. One of the profoundest is thoughts are of the poorest order; that which concerns the discipline of and, what is particularly observable, the reasoning faculties. All men are are mere fixtures in the brain- anxious, if it were only for display having no vital principle by which in conversation, to “ reason (as they become generative or attractive they call it) well. But how mighty of other thoughts. A Demosthenical is the error which many make about fervor of manner they sometimes the constituents of that power! have ; which arises from the predo- That the fancy has any thing to do minance of interrogation-the sup- with it—is the last thought that pression of the logical connexions would occur to them. Logic, say the nakedness of their mode of sche- they, delivers the art of reasoning ; matising the thoughts—and the con- and logic has surely no commerce sequent rapidity with which the dif- with the fancy. Be it so: but logic, ferent parts of the harangue succeed though indispensable, concerns only to each other. But these characte- the formal part of reasoning; and is ristics of manner, which in the Athen therefore only its negative condition: nian were the result of exquisite your reasoning will be bad, if it artifice, in them are the mere negu- offends against the rules of logic; tive product of their intellectual bar- but it will not be good simply by

The Athenian forewent the conforming to them. To use a word full developement of the logical con- equivocally for instance, i.e. in two nexion: the savage misses it from senses, will be in effect to introduce the unpractised state of his reason- four terms into your syllogism; and ing faculties: the Athenian was that will be enough to vitiate it. naked from choice and for effect; But will it of necessity heal your the savage from poverty. And, be argument to exterminate this diathe manner what it may, the matter lectic error? Surely not: the matter of a savage oration is always despi- of your reasoning is the grand point ; cable. But, if savages betray the and this can no more be derived from negation of all imaginative power logic, than a golden globe from the (= o), the oriental nations betray geometry of the sphere. It is the negative of that power (=-imaa through the fancy, and by means of gination). In the Koran I read that the schemata which that faculty furthe pen, with which God writes, is nishes to the understanding, that made of mother-of-pearl, and is so reasoning (good or bad) proceeds, long, that an Arabian courser of the as to its positive or material part, on finest breed would not be able to most of the topics which interest gallop from one end to the other in a mankind: the vis imaginatrix of the space of 500 years. Upon this it mind is the true fundus from which would be said in the usual style of the understanding draws: and it English criticism“ Yes: no doubt, may be justly said in an axiomatic it is very extravagant: the writer's form that « Tantum habet homo imagination runs away with his discursùs, quantum habet phanjudgment." Imagination ! How tasiæ." 80? The imagination seeks the il- On this doctrine however at anlimitable; dissolves the definite; other time: meantime I would ask of translates the finite into the infinite. any reader, to whom it appears



« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »