Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

Corrective. The business of this at first in Greek and Latin, of Arrian's Epictetus was painfully to collate all the various (the first of the kind that had any pretencopies of authority, and then, from amidst sions to be called complete) having renthe variety of readings thus collected, to dered themselves, as scholars, lasting orestablish, by good reasons, either the naments of their country. These two true, or the most probable. In this sense valuable men were the friends of my we may call such criticism not only cor- youth ; the companions of my social, as rective but authoritative.

well as my literary hours. I admired
As the number of these corruptions them for their erudition; I loved them
must needs have increased by length of for their virtues; they are now no more
time, hence it has happened that corrective
criticism has become much more neces-

His saltem accumulens donis, et fungar inani
Munere

VIRG. sary in these later ages, than it was in

Harris. others more ancient. Not but ihat even in ancient days various readings have been $ 175. Criticism may have been abused noted. Of this kind there are a multi- yet defended, as of the last Importance tude in the text of Homer; a fact not

to the Cause of Literature. singular, when we consider his great an- But here was the misfortune of this tiquity. In the comments of Ammo- last species of criticism. The best of things nius and Philoponus upon Aristotle, there may pass into abuse.

There were is mention made of several in the text of numerous corruptions in many of the that philosopher, which these his com- finest authors, which neither ancient edimentators compare and examine.

tions, nor manuscripts, could heal. What We find the same in Aulus Gellius, as then was to be done? Were forms so 10 the Roman authors; where it is withal fair to remain disfigured, and be seen for

;; remarkable, that, even in that early period, ever under such apparent blemishes ?much stress is laid upon the authority of “ No (says a critic), Conjecture can cure ancient manuscripts, a reading in Cicero “all--Conjecture, whose performances are being justified from a copy made by his “ for the most part more certain than any learned freed-man, Tiro: and a reading thing that we can exhibit from the auin Virgil's Georgics, from a book which “thority of manuscripts.”_We will not had once belonged to Virgil's family. ask, upon this wonderful assertion, how,

But since the revival of literature, to if so certain, can it be called conjecture ? correct has been a business of much more 'Tis enough to observe (be it called as latitude, having continually employed, for it may) that this spirit of conjecture two centuries and a half, both the pains of hus too often passed into an intemperate the most laborious, and the wits of the excess ; and then, whatever it may most acute. Many of the learned men have boasted, has done more mischief by before enumerated were not orly famous far than good. Authors have been taken as historical critics, but as corrective also. in hand, like anatomical subjects, only to Such were the two Scaligers (of whom display the skill and abilities of the art. one has been already mentioned, $ 170.) ist: so that the end of many an edition the two Casaubons, Salmasius, the Hein- seems often to have been no more than to sii, Grævius, the Gronovii

, Burman, Kus- exhibit the great sagacity and erudition of ter, Wasse, Bentley, Pearce, and Mark- an editor. The joy of the task was the land. In the same class, in a rank highly honour of mending, while corruptions eminent, I place Mr. Toupe, of Cornwall, were sought with a more than common who, in his emendations upon Suidas, and attention, as each of them afforded a teshis edition of Longinus, has shewn a cri. timony to the editor and his art. tical acumen, and a compass of learning, And here I beg leave, by way of dithat may justly arrange him with the most gression, to relate a short story concerning distinguished scholars. Nor must I for

a noted empiric.

Being once in a ballo get Dr. Taylor, residentiary of St. Paul's, "room crowded with company, he was

, nor Mr. Upton, prebendary of Rochester. “ asked by a gentleman, what he thought

The former by his edition of Demosthe- “ of such a lady? was it not pity that she nes, (as far as he lived to carry it) by his “squinted ?”—“ Squint! Sir!" replied )

" Lysias, by his Comment on the Marmor the doctor, “ I wish every lady in the Sandvicense, and other critical pieces; the

room squinted ; there is not a man in latter, by his correct and elegant edition, “

Europe can cure squinting but myself.”

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

But to return to our subject--well in- that should ever happen, we shall speedily deed would it be for the cause of letters, return into those days of darkness, out of were this bold conjectural spirit con- which we happily emerged upon the refined to works of second rate, where, let vival of ancient literature. Harris. it change, expunge, or add, as happens, it may be tolerably sure to leave matters as $ 176. The Epic Writers come first. they were; or if not much better, at least

It appears, that not only in Greece, not much worse: but when the divine but in Olher countries more barbarous, geniuses of higher rank, whom we not the first writings were in metre, and of only applaud, but in a manner revere, an epic cast, recording wars, battles, hewhen these come to be attempted by pe. roes, ghosts; the marvellous always, and tulant correctors, and to be made the sub- often the incredible. Men seemed io have ject of their wanton caprice, how can we thought, that the higher they soared the bur exclaim, with a kind of religious ab. more important they should appear; and horrence

that the common life, which they then procul! O! procul este profani!

lived, was a thing too contemptible to

merit imitation. These sentiments may be applied even Hence it followed, that it was not till to the celebrated Bentley. It would this common life was rendered respectable have become that able writer, though in by more refined and polished manners, literature and natural abilities among the that men thought it might be copied, so first of his age, had he been more tempe

as to gain them applause. rate in his criticism upon the Paradise Even in Greece itself, tragedy had atLost; had he not so repeatedly and inju- tained its maturity many years before coriously offered violence to its author, from medy, as may be seen by comparing the an affected superiority, to which he had age of Sophocles and Euripides with that no pretence. But the rage of conjecture of Philemon and Menander. seems to have seized him, as that of jea

For ourselves, we shall find most of our lousy did Medea : a rage which she con- first poets prone to a turgid bombast, and fessed herself unable to resist, although most of our first prosaic writers to a peshe knew the mischiefs it would prompt dantic stiffness; which rude styles graher to perpetrate:

dually improved, but reached not a clasAnd now to obviate an unmerited cen

sical purity sooner than Tillotson, Dryden, sure, (as if I were an enemy to the thing, Addison, Shaltsbury, Prior, Pope, Atterfrom being an enemy to its abuse) I

bury, &c. &c.

Ibid. would have it remembered, it is not either with criticism or critics that I presume to find fault

. 'The art, and its professors, 177. Nothing excellent in literary Perwhile they practise it with temper, I truly

formances happens from Chance. honour; and think, that were it not for As to what is asserted soon after

upon their acute and learned labours, we should the efficacy of causes in works of ingebe in danger of degenerating into an age nuity and art, we think, in general, that of dunces.

the effect must always be proportioned to Indeed critics (if I may be allowed its cause. It is hard for him, who reasons the metaphor) are a sort of masters of attentively, to refer to chance any superthe ceremony in the court of letters, lative production. through whose assistance we are intro- Effects indeed strike us, when we are duced into some of the first and best not thinking about the cause; yet may we company. Should we ever, therefore, by be assured, if we reflect, that a cause there idle prejudices against pedantry, verbal is, and that too a cause intelligent, and raaccuracies, and we know not what, come tional. Nothing would perhaps more conto slight their art, and reject them from tribute to give us a taste truly critical, our favour, it is well if we do not slight than on every occasion to investigate this also those classics with whom criticism cause, and to ask ourselves, upon feeling converses, becoming content to read them any uncommon effect, why we are thus in translations, or (what is still worse) in delighted; why thus affected; why translations of translations, or (wbat is melted into pity; why made to shudder worse even than that) not to read them with horror ? at all. And I will be bold to assert, if

Till this why is well answered, all is

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

a

a

darkness; and our admiration, like that tion of them more vivid, and our impresa of the vulgar, founded upon ignorance.

sions more permanent. Harris. This effect of contraries is evident even

in objects of sense, where imagination and $ 178. The Causes or Reasons of such intellect are not in the least concerned. Excellence.

When we pass (for example) from a hotTo explain, by a few examples, that

house, we feel the common air more inare known to all, and for that reason here tensely cool ; when we pass from a dark alleged, because they are known. cavern, we feel the common light of the

I am struck with the night scene in day more intensely glaring. Virgil's fourth Eneid -“ The universal But to proceed to instances of another “silence throughout the globe-the sweet and a very different kind. “ rest of its various inhabitants, soothing

Few scenes are more affecting than the “their cares and forgetting their labours taking of Troy, as described in the second “ the unhappy Dido alone restless ; rest- Eneid-—" The apparition of Hector to “ less, agitated with impetuous passions."

“ Eneas, when asleep, announcing to him -En. iv. 522.

“ the commencement of that direful event I am affected with the story of Regulus,

" -- the distant lamentations, heard by as painted by West—“ The crowd of

“ Eneas as he awakes—his ascending the “ anxious friends, persuading him not to

“ house-top, and viewing the city in “ return-his wife fainting through sensi

“ flames-his friend Pentheus, escaped “ bility and fear-persons the least con

“ from destruction, and relating to him “ nected appearing to feel for him, yet

“ their wretched and deplorable condi“ himself unmoved, inexorable, and

“ tion-Eneas, with a few friends, rushstern." Horat. Carm. L. ii. Od. 5. “ing into the thickest danger-their vaWithout referring to these deeply tragic

“ rious success till they all perish, but scenes, what charms has music, when a

“ himself and two more—the affecting masterly band pass unexpectedly from

scenes of horror and pity, and Priam's loud to soft, or froin soft to loud !- When palace-a son slain at his father's feet; the system changes from the greater third

“ and the immediate massacre of the old to the less; or reciprocally, when it

“ monarch himself-Eneas, on seeing this, changes from this last to the former. inspired with the memory of his own All these effects have a similar and well

“ father—his resolving to return home, known cause, the amazing force which having now lost all his companionscontraries acquire, either by juxta posi

“ his seeing Helen in the way, and his tion, or by quick succession. Ibid.

design to dispatch so wicked a woman

“ - Venus interposing, and shewing bim $179. Why Contraries have this Effect. « the most sublime, though most direful

“ (by removing the film from his eyes)

“ But we ask still farther, why have con- “ of all sights : the Gods themselves traries this force?-We answer, because, “busied in Troy's destruction ; Neptune of all things which differ, none differ so

“ at one employ, Juno at another, Pallas widely. Sound differs from darkness, but "at a third-It is not Helen (says Venot so much as from silence; darkness

“ nus) but the gods, that are the authors differs from sound, but not so much as

" of your country's ruin-it is their infrom light. In the same intense manner “ clemency," &c. differ repose and restlessness; felicity and Not less solemn and awful, though less misery; dubious solicitude and firm re- leading to pity, is the commencement of solution; the epic and the comic; the the sixth Eneid " The Sibyl's cavernsublime and the ludicrous.

“ her frantic gestures and prophecy-the And why differ contraries thus widely? “ request of Eneas to descend to the shades -Because while attributes, simply differ

“ —her answer, and information about ent, may co-exist in the same subject, con. " the loss of one of his friends - the fate of traries cannot co-exist, but always destroy poor Misenus- his funeral—the golden one another. Thus the same marble may bough discovered, a preparatory cirbe both white and hard: but the same cumstance for the descent--the sacrifice marble cannot be both white and black.

-the ground bellowing under their feet And hence it follows, that as their diffe- “ —the woods in motion-the dogs of rence is more intense, so is our recogni- “ Hecate howling—the actual descent, in

a

a

a all its particulars of the marvellous, and memory and imagination, even these also “ the terrible.”

derive an accumulative force, being preIf we pass from an ancient author to a served from passing away by those admimodern, what scene more striking than the rable faculties, till, like many pieces of mefirst scene in Hamlet? _“The solemnity tal melted together, they collectively form “ of the time, a severe and pinching night one common magnitude. “--the solemnity of the place, a platform It must be farther remembered, there is “ for a guard--the guards themselves; and an accumulation of things analogous, even “ their opposite discourse-yonder star in when those things are the objects of diffe“ such a position; the bell then beating one rent faculties. For example --As are pas“—when description is exhausted, the sionategestures to the eye, so are passionate “thing itself appears, the Ghost enters.” tones to the ear; so are passionate ideas to

From Shakspeare the transition to Mil- the imagination. To feel the amazing force ton is natural. What pieces have ever of an accumulation like this, we must see met a more just, as well as universal ap- some capital actor, acting the drama of plause, than his L'Allegro and Il Pense- some capital poet, where all the powers roso?—The first, a combination of every of both are assembled at the same instant. incident that is lively and cheerful; the And thus have we endeavoured, by a few second, of every incident that is melancholy obvious and easy examples,to explain what and serious: the materials of each collect- we mean by the words, “ seeking the cause ed, according to their character, from rural or reason, as often as we feel works of life, from city life, from music, from “ art and ingenuity to affect us.”_See poetry; in a word, from every part of na- ņ 165. 177.

Harris. ture, and every part of art. To pass from poetry to painting-the

§ 180. Advice to a Beginner in the Art Crucifixion of Polycrates by Salvator Rosa,

of Criticism. is “ a most affecting representation of va

If I might advise a beginner in this ele“ rious human figures, seen under different gant pursuit, it should be, as far as pos“ modes of horror and pity, as they con- sible, to recur for principles to the inost

template a dreadful spectacle, the cruci. plain and simple truths, and to extend “ fixion above mentioned.The Aurora every theorem, as he advances, to its utof Guido, on the other side, is “ one of most latitude, so as to make it suit, and “tbose joyous exhibitions, where nothing include, the greatest number of possible " is seen but youth and beauty, in every attitude of elegance and grace." The I would advise him farther, to avoid former picture in poetry would have been subtle and far-fetched refinement, which as a deep Penseroso; the latter a most pleas- it is for the most part adverse to perspiing and animated Allegro.

cuity and truth, may serve to make an able And to what cause are we to refer these Sophist, but never an able Critic. last enumerations of striking effects ?

À word more-I would advise a young To a very different one from the for- Critic, in his contemplation, to turn his mer—not to an opposition of contrary in- eye rather to the praise-worthy than the cidents, but to a concatenation or accumu- blameable; that is, to investigate the lation of many that are similar and conge- cause of praise, rather than the cause of nial.

blame. For though an uninformed beAnd why have concatenation and accu- ginner may, in a single instance, happen mulation such a force ? - From these most to blame properly, it is more than prosimple and obvious truths, that many bable, that in the next he may fail, and things similar, when added together, will incur the censure passed upon the critibe more in quantity than any of them taken cising cobler, Ne sulor ultra crepidam. singly;-consequently, that the more

Harris. things are thus added, the greater will be their effect.

§ 181. On numerous Composition. We have mentioned, at the same time, As numerous Composition arises from both accumulation and concatenation ; be- a just arrangement of words, so is that arcause in painting, the objects, by existing rangement just, when formed upon their at once, are accumulated; in poetry, as verbal quantity. they exist by succession, they are not accu

Now, if we seek for this verbal quantimulated but concatenated. Yet, through ty in Greek and Latin, we shall find that,

cases.

а

bis

We compare

a

while those two languages were in purity, tial cares, ever lived in the fruition of ditheir verbal quantity was in purity also. vine serenity : Every syllable had a measure of time, Apparet divum numen, sedesque quietæ, either long or short, defined with preci- Quas neque concutiuot venti, neque nuvila nimsion either by its constituent vowel, or by the relation of that vowel to other letters Aspergunt, neque nix acri concreta pruinâ adjoining. Syllables thus characterised, Cana cadens violat, seniperque innubilus æther when combined, made a foot ; and feet Integit, et large diffuso lamine ridet.

Lucret. III. 18. thus characterised, when combined, made a verse: so that while a particular has

The sublime and accurate Virgil did mony existed in every part, a general not contemn this decoration, though he harmony was diffused through the wbole. used it with such pure, unaffected sim

Pronunciation at this period being, plicity, that we often feel its force without like other things, persect, accent and quan- contemplating the cause. Take one in- . tity were accurately distinguished; of stance out of infinite, with which his which distinction, familiar then, though works abound : now obscure, we venture to suggest the Aurora interea miseris mortalibus almam following explanation.

Extulerat lucem, referens opera atque labores. quantity to musical tones differing in long

Æn. XI. v. 183. and short, as upon whatever line they To Virgil we may add the superior stand, a semibrief differs from a minim. authority of Homer : We compare accent to musical tones dif

Πτοι ο καππεδί ον το “Αληιον οιος 'Αλατο, fering in high and low, as D upon

the

"Ον θυμον κατεδων πάτον Aθρωπων 'Αλεείνων. third line differs from G upon the first,

In. Š. 201. be its length the same, or be it longer or

Hermogenes, the rhetorician, when he shorter.

quotes these lines, quotes them as an exAnd thus things continued for a succes, ample of the figure here mentioned, but sion of centuries, from Homer and Hesiod calls it by a Greek name, IIAPHXHEIE. to Virgil and Horace, during which in

Cicero has translated the above verses terval, if we add a trifle to its end, all the elegantly, and given us too Alliteration, truly classical poets, both Greek and La

though not under the same letters. tin, flourished.

Nor was prose at the same time neg. Qui miser in campis errabat solus Alæis, lected. Penetrating wits discovered this Ipse suum coredens, huminum vestigia vitans.

Cic. also to be capable of numerous composition, and founded their ideas upon the Aristotle knew this figure, and called it following reasonings :

IIAPOMOINEIX, a name perhaps not so Though they allowed that prose should precise as the other, because it rather exnot be strictly metrical (for then it would presses resemblance in general, than that be no longer prose, but poetry); yet at which arises from sound in particular. the same time they asserted, if it had no His example is-ΑΓΡΟΝ γάρ έλαβεν, Rhythm at all, such a vague effusion APTON nap' avrő.

παρ' αυτά. would of course fatigue, and the reader The Latin rhetoricians styled it Annowould seek in vain for those returning minatio, and give us examples of similar pauses, so helpful to his reading, and so character. grateful to his ear.

Harris. But the most singular fact is, that so

early in our own history, as the reign of $ 182. On other Decorations of Prose

Henry the Second, this decoration was besides Prosaic Feet; as Alliteration.

esteemed and cultivated both by the EngBesides the decoration of Prosaic Feet, lish and the Welsh. So we are informed there are other decorations, admissible in- by Giraldus Cambrensis, a contemporary to English composition, such as Allitera- writer, who, having first given the Welsh tion, and Sentences, especially the period. instance, subjoins the English in the fol

First therefore for the first: I mean lowing verse — Alliteration.

God is together Gammen and Wisedome, Among the classics of old, there is no finer illustration of this figure, than Lu- -that is, God is at once both joy and cretius's description of those blest abodes, wisdom. where his gods, detached from providen- He calls the figure by the Latin name

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »