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"O'er the savage sea,
The glassy ocean of the mountain ice,
"Like blasted pines,
Wrecks of a single winter, barkless, branchless."
Dr. Johnson, a poet very different indeed from Byron, occasionally made use of prose notes in the preparation of his verses. The following rough hint or memorandum was used in his Irene.
"MAHOMET (to IRENE). I have tried thee, and joy to find that thou deservest to be loved by Mahomet,-with a mind great as his own. Sure thou art an error of nature, and an exception to the rest of thy sex, and art immortal; for sentiments like thine were never to sink into nothing. I thought all the thoughts of the fair had been to select the graces of the day, disclose the colours of the flaunting (flowing) robe, tune the voice and roll the eye, place the gem, choose the dress, and add new roses to the fading cheek, but-sparkling."
passage is thus transformed into metre in the tragedy:
"Illustrious maid, new wonders fix me thine;
It is said that Pope's Essay on Criticism was first written out in prose by his own hand, and that the Essay on Man was versified after the original prose sketch, furnished to the poet by his "guide, philosopher, and friend," Lord Bolingbroke. A similar practice is recommended by Vida in his Art of Poetry; and Warton tells us, that when Racine had fixed on a subject for a play, he wrote down in plain prose, not only the subject of each of the five acts, but of every speech. When he had done this to his satisfaction,
he used to say, My tragedy is finished." Moore observes that it was much the same case with Sheridan, who, whenever he undertook any subject in verse, used to write down his thoughts first in a sort of poetical prose, with here and there a rhyme or metrical line as they might occur, and afterwards reduce, with much labour," this anomalous compound" to regular poetry. A practice of this nature, however, should not be too generally adopted in poctical composition. It may be very advisable in some particular kinds of poetry, such as the didactic, and the descriptive; but in those compositions which require quick bursts of passion, or "thoughts that breathe, and words that burn," there is something. uncongenial and chilling in so mechanical an operation, and in the very nature of mere prose itself. The music of verse, the beauty of those expressions usually connected with poetical associations, and the elevation or abstraction of mind which is required in the production of poetry with all its proper adjuncts, excite the imagination and preserve it in the requisite state of activity and fervour. The mere difficulties of versification, are by no means so great as is generally supposed, when the poet is in a favorable mood. Pope has confessed that he often found one couplet suggest another. We have also the authority of Milton, for saying, that there are certain " thoughts that voluntarily move harmonious numbers." In descriptive poetry, however, especially, where minute and quickly changing appearances are to be preserved, and the memory is apt to be unfaithful, the practice of taking prose notes from the book of nature is, perhaps, both justifiable and judicious. It is analogous to the practice of a sister art. Studies from Nature are thought no deduction from a painter's supposed power of imagination or facility of execution.
On! deem not that my heart is cold,
By some deep sense of wrong; It is not that the voice of mirth
Sounds harshly in mine ear,
But oft upon my sunniest hour
And shades prophetic round me lour,
I could not tell thee whence or why
That makes what else might charm mine eye Seem desolate and strange.
"Of all the heavenly gifts, that mortal men commend, What trusty treasure in the world can countervail a friend?" Nicholas Grimoald". "In the morning, after the priest had given him the last sacraments, he saidthere is nothing that is meritorious but virtue and friendship; and indeed friendship itself is only a part of virtue.'"
Spence's Anecdotes of Pope. "Oh! what a rare thing is a friend! How true is that old saying; that the use of a friend is more pleasing and necessary than the elements of fire and water."
"The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Most men flatter themselves that they are not only capable of friendship, but that they have many friends. To a superficial observer, human life appears to abound in friendships; but it presents a very different aspect to those who can penetrate beneath the surface. "Friendship is so rare," observes Sir Philip Sidney, "that it is almost doubtful, whether it is a thing indeed, or a mere word." Poets and moralists have concurred in eulogising its advantages, and lamenting its uncertainty. A familiar anecdote on the subject has been versified by Cowper:
"Horatio's servant once, with bow and cringe
Lest he should trespass, begged to go abroad.
An old English Poet-the second writer of blank-verse after Surrey. He flourished in the early part of the 16th century.
"Tis but a step, sir, just at the street's end.
"It is with friends as with ghosts," says Rochefoucault; "things that every body talks of, and scarcely any hath seen."
But, however rare may be real friendship, men are so little formed to live alone, that when they cannot grasp its substance, they love to cheat themselves with its shadow. They who have the fewest friends have often the most acquaintances. The latter are a kind of proxies for the former, and usually bear the same name, though they are really of a very different character. Perhaps faith in some matters is less involuntary than philosophers have supposed; as nothing seems more common than for men to believe according to their wishes, and to reject what is opposed to their vanity or their interest. Thus we frequently find a person of shrewdness and good sense congratulating himself on a long list of supposed friends, who in reality, are heartless and selfish beings, whose characters are as clear as daylight to all the rest of the world. Men protect themselves from the fear of infidelity in friendship, and the horror of discovering that they are alone in the world, by a voluntary blindness. The greatest optimist in friendship is indisposed to put the truth and constancy of his friends to a very severe trial. He dreads to be undeceived. It is generally considered a very dangerous thing to borrow money from a friend, or to rival him in love or fame. That which is commonly called friendship would not stand the test. Goldsmith's story of Alcander and Septimius, in which one friend resigns the hand of his mistress to the other, with such a magnanimous self-sacrifice, is a pretty romance, but has no counterpart in common life.
Mr. Landor in his "Imaginary Conversations" makes Cicero thus express himself "Could I begin my existence again, and