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be made on the measure of the verse. When in its greatest perfection, it does not appear to be the refult of labor, but to be dictated by nature, or prompted by inspiration. In Pope's best verses, the idea is expressed with as little inversion of style, and with as much conciseness, precision, and propriety, as the author could have attained, had he been writing prose : without any apparent exertion on his part, the words seem spontaneously to arrange themselves in the most musical numbers.
“ While still a child, nor yet a fool to fame,
This facility of yersification, it is true, may be, and probably is, in most cases, only apparent : and it is reasonable to think, that in the most perfect poetical productions, not only the choice of words, but the choice of ideas, is influenced by the rhymes. In a prose composition, the author holds on in a dired course, according to the plan he has previously formed; but in a poem, the rhymes which occur to him are perpetually Jiverting him to the right hand or to the left, by fuggefting ideas which do not naturally rise out of his subject. This, I prefume, is Butler's meaning in the following couplet :
“ Rhymes the rudder are of verses
But although this may be the case in fact, the Poet must employ all his art to conceal it: inson uch that, if he finds himself under the neceflity to inti oduce,on account of the rhymes, a superfluous idea, or an awkward expression, he muft place it in the first line of the couplet, and not in the second ; for the reader, naturally presuming that the lines were com. posed in the order in which the author arranges
them, is more apt to fufpect the second line to be accommodated to the first, than the first to the fecond. And this flight artifice is, in general, fufficient to impofe on that degree of attention with which poe. try is read. Who can doubt that, in the following lines, Pope wrote the first for the sake of the second?
“ A wit's a feather, and a chief a rod ;
Were the first of these lines, or a line equally un. meaning, placed last, the couplet would have appeared execrable to a person of the most moderate taste.
It affords a ftrong confirmation of the foregoing observations, that the Poets of fome nations have de. lighted in the practice of alliteration, as well as of rhyme, and have even confidered it as an efsential circumstance in versification. Dr. Beattie observes, that “ some antient English poems are more diftin“ guished by alliteration, than by any other poetical 66 contrivance. In the works of Langland, even “ when no regard is had to rhyme, and but little to “ a rude sort of anapestic measure, it feems to have “ been a rule, that three words, at least, of each line “ fhould begin with the fame letter.” A late author informs us, that, in the Icelandic poetry, alliteration is considered as a circumftance no less effential than rhyme.* He mentions also several other restraints, which must add wonderfully to the difficulty of verfification ; and which appear to us to be perfectly arbitrary and capricious. If that really be the case, the whole pleasure of the reader or hearer arises from his surprise at the facility of the Poet's composition under these complicated restraints ; that is, from his furprise at the command which the Poet has acquired over his thoughts and expressions. In our rhyme, I acknowledge, that the coincidence of found is agreeable in itself; and only affirm, that the pleafure which the ear receives from it, is heightened by the other confideration,
** The Icelandic poetry requires two things ; vit. words with « the same initial letters, and words of the same sound. It was « divided into stanzas, each of which consisted of four couplets ; “ and each of these couplets was again composed of two hemis“ ticks, of which every one contained six syllables ; and it was “not allowed to augment this number, except in cases of the "greatest necessity," See VAN TROLL's Letters en Iceland, p. 208. *I speak here of pure and unmixed wit, and not of wit, blended, As it is most commonly, with some degree of humor.
III. Of Poetical Fancy.
There is another habit of association, which, in fome men, is very remarkable
that which is the foundation of Poetical Fancy : a talent which agrees with Wit in fome circumstances, but which differs from it effentially in others.
The pleasure we receive from Wit, agrees in one particular with the pleasure which arises from poetical allusions ; that in both cases we are pleased with contemplating an analogy between two different subjects. But they differ in this, that the man of Wit has no other aim than to combine analogous ideas ;* whereas no allusion can, with propriety, have a place in serious poetry, unless it either illustrate or adorn the principal subject. If it has both these recommendations, the allusion is perfect. If it has neither, as is often the case with the allusions of Cowley and of Young, the Fancy of the Poet de. generates into Wit.
If the observations be well-founded, they suggest a rule with respect to poetical allusions, which has not always been sufficiently attended to. It frequently happens, that two subjects bear an analogy to each
other in more respects than one; and where fuck can be found, they undoubtedly furnish the most favorable of all occasions for the display of Wit.But in serious poetry, I am inclined to think, that however striking these analogies may be ; and al. though each of them might, with propriety, be made the foundation of a separate allusion; it is im. proper, in the course of the same allusion, to include more than one of them ; as, by doing so, an author discovers an affectation of Wit, or a desire of tracing analogies, instead of illustrating or adorning the subject of his composition.
I formerly defined Fancy to be a power of affociating ideas according to relations of resemblance and analogy. This definition will probably be thought too general; and to approach too near to that given of Wit. In order to discover the neceffary limitations, we shall consider what the circumstances are, which please us in poetical allusions. As these allu. fions are suggested by Fancy, and are the most striking instances in which it displays itself, the received rules of Critics with respect to them, may throw some light on the mental power which gives them birth.
1. An allusion pleases, by illustrating a subject comparatively obscure. Hence, I apprehend, it will be found, that allusions from the intellectual world to the material, are more pleasing, than from the material world to the intellectual. Mafon, in his Ode to Memory, compares the influence of that faculty over our ideas, to the authority of a general over his troops :
6 thou, whose sway
Would the allufion have been equally pleasing, from
a general marshalling his foldiers, to Memory and the succession of ideas?
The effect of a literal and spiritless translation of a work of genius, has been compared to that of the figures which we see, when we look at the wrong side of a beautiful piece of tapestry. The allusion is ingenious and happy ; but the pleasure which we receive from it arises, not merely from the analogy which it presents to us, but from the illustration which it affords of the author's idea. No one, fure. ly, in speaking of a piece of tapestry, would think of comparing the difference between its fides, to that between an original composition and a literal translation !
Cicero, and after him Mr. Locke, in illustrating the difficulty of attending to the subjects of our consciousness, have compared the mind tu the Eye, which sees every object around it, but is invisible to itself. To have compared the Eye, in this respect, to the Mind, would have been abfurd.
Nr. Pope's comparison of the progress of youthful curiosity, in the pursuits of science, to that of a traveller among the Alps, has been much, and justly, admired. How would the beauty of the allusion , have been diminished, if the Alps had furnished the original subject, and not the illustration !
But although this rule holds, in general, I acknowledge, that instances may be produced, from our most celebrated poetical performances, of allufions from material objects, both to the intellectual and the moral worlds. These, however, are comparatively few in number, and are not to be found in descriptive or in didactic works ; but in compofitions written under the influence of some particular paflion, or which are meant to exprefs fome peculiarity in the mind of the author. Thus, a melancholy man, who has met with many misfortunes in life, will be apt to moralize on every phylical event,