Imatges de pàgina
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Cut with thine own dust

must have led to splendid results. It there is a homely formality, more or remains to glance at the revival of less interlarded with that tendency to poetry, as it extended to England, and quaint conceit, which, after Spenser, to point out the similitudes between went on increasing, until the paroxthe progress of the English poetical ysm had its crisis in Cowley. A few style, and that of the Latin classics. instances of quaint metaphor may be, The truth of the critical deductions indeed, selected from the immense which may be drawn from this view, stores of the dramatic productions of must, of course, depend upon the Elizabeth's reign ; but they are few. right appreciation of the facts.

Romeo and Juliet contains more than It was not until about the com- one; and in the pathetic oration of mencement of the reign of Elizabeth, Caratach over the body of the suicide that the English language attained Penius, in the Bonduca of Beaumont such an approximation to perfection, and Fletcher, the Briton is made to as to become comparatively perman- exclaim, ent in its idioms and general tone of " Thou hallow'd relic, thou rich diamond, expression. In tracing the progress of our poetical style, it would, how

The style of the great Epic or raever, be unjust to omit one or two ther allegorical poet of the period, writers of Henry VIII. and Mary. Spenser, is much more simple. Had

The works of the Earl of Surrey, and he written a regular Epic, and been of Wyatt, present many passages of less fond of the antiquated phraseopoetical simplicity, joined to easy logy which he affects, he might have versification, the last of which quali- ranked as the English Virgil

. His ties is as rare in early poetry, as its

verse is melodious, and his language, adjunct is common. In an investiga- in general, simply poetical; for he tion of this nature, the progress of has few of those pointed and antiEnglish poetry in general must be thetical passages which increase with carefully kept distinct from that of the advancement of poetry. The folEnglish dramatic poetry.

The
gene-

lowing stanzas are more pointed than ral style of poetry in the reign of is usual with him : Elizabeth, the true Augustan age of

“Dear dame, quoth he, you sleeping sparkes awake

Which, troubled once, into huge flames will growing Britain, was affected by circumstances Ne ever will their fervent fury slake, from the operation of which the drama

Till living moisture into smoke do flow,

And wasted life do lie in ashes low; was in a great measure free. The

Yet sithens silence lesseneth not my fire drama may be called of indigenous I will revele what you so much desire

But told it flames and hidden it doth glow growth, while the Epic and Lyrical Ah! Love lay down thy bow the whiles" I may shoots were early improved by grafts

respyre."

Book 1, Canto IX. from the ancient classical and modern Italian Parnassus. The drama, too,

Envy is thus finely described,was adopted by a man who had pow

“ And next to him malitious Envy rode

Upon a ravenous wolfe, and still did chaw ers to form it as no other school was ever formed, and to enrich it as no

That all the poison ran about his jaw;

But inwardly he chawed his owna mawe, other poetry was ever enriched. In At neibours welth that made him ever sad; the hands of this almost preternatural

For death it was when any good he saw;

And wept that cause of weeping none he had, genius, it at once attained that perfec- But when he heard of harme he wexed wondrous tion which other departments of the

glad."

Book 1, Canto IV. poetic art have only reached through

In Ben Johnson and in Donne the lapse of ages; and he has thrown a radiance over his dramatic contem

there is an evident deviation from the poraries, with which their own powers,

early simplicity of style. Jonson, aided even by the tuition of his ex

though often hard, sometimes writes ample, would never have invested elegantly, even in the modern accepthem.

tation of elegance. His epitaphs are Throughout the plays of Shak- deservedly celebrated. The two folspeare, and also, in a lesser degrée, lowing are the first and last stanzas of in the other dramatic writers of his

one of his songs :

“Come let us here enjoy the shade, time, is to be found that just mixture

• For love in shadow best is made; of simple originality, bold metaphor, Tho' Envy oft his shadow be,

None brooks the sunlight worse than he." and pointed energy, which approaches the perfection of poetical writing. In

“ Such are his pow'rs whom time hath styled the miscellaneous poetry of the age, Now swift, now slow, now tame, now mild ;

Between his canker'd teeth a venomous tode

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Now hot, now cold, now fierce, now wild,

WEEPING. The eldest god yet still a child."

" See where she sits, and in what comely wise In his Elegy on Shakespeare, the Drops

tears more fair than others eyes !

Ah! charming maid, let not ill fortune see strong thoughts are clothed in rough Th' attire thy sorrow wears,

Nor know the beauty of thy tears, versification :

For she'll still come to dress herself in thee.
“ Triumph, my Britain, thou hast one to shew As stars reflect on waters, so I spy
To whom all scenes of Europe homage owe; In ev'ry drop, methinks, her eye;,
He was not of an age but for all time;

The baby which lives there, and always plays And all the muses still were in their prime

In that illustrious sphere, When like Apollo he came forth to warm

Like a Narcissus does appear,
Our ears, or like a Mercury to charm.

Whilst in his flood the lovely boy did gaze.
Nature herself was proud of his designs,
And joyed to wear the dressing of his lines,

Ne'er yet did I behold so glorious weather,
Which were so richly spun and wov'n so fit,

As this sunshine and rain together ; As since she will vouchsafe no other wit."

Pray heav'n her forehead, that pure hill of snow,

For some such fountain we must find, The reputation of Donne is a little To waters of so fair a kind,

Melt not to feed that beauteous stream below. unaccountable.

His lumbering conceits and lumbering phraseology seern

Ah! mighty love, that it were inward heat

Which made this precious limbeck sweat! to have acted as a sort of pioneers to the But what, alas! ah! what does it avail less awkward forces of Cowley; but

That she weeps tears so wondrous cold,

As scarce the asses' hoof can hold, he is best known by the translation So cold that I admire they fall not hail !" which Pope has made of some of his To this song, a double mark of adsatires. if Donne was the precursor miration is requisite. The tribe, of of Cowley, Drummond may, perhaps, which this author is one, have been as properly be called that of Waller. called the “ ' metaphysical poets ;" In this poet some of the most musical and he is the prince of them. The versification and most elegantly point- term “ metaphysical” is, however, by

“ ed lines of the time are to be found.

no means happy in this application of Indeed some of his sonnets have never it. It is used in contra-distincbeen surpassed.

tion to “natural ;" the style of CowWaller has carried the union of ley is the unnatural style. To define pointed thought with correct versifi- precisely what is meant by this is yet cation to a height which after times

a matter of nice distinction; the faults have seldom exceeded. He is not, of this style have been much exaggerhowever, always equally happy, nor ated, and sometimes misconceived. The is the polish of his language always difference between Cowley and those sufficient to disguise the far-fetched who are called the natural poets seems thoughts which are embodied in his to be merely this ; that he pushes his stanzas. His exquisite song, “ Go thoughts, whether metaphors, antiLovely Rose,” has been the favourite theses, or similes, frequently too far, of most readers of poetry. But a fair and, what is worse, for the most part er sample of his beauties and his

uses them indiscriminately and withfaults must be given.

out any apparent consideration, whethSONG VU.

er or not their general tone is adapted While I listen to thy voice “ Chloris, I feel my life decay;

to that of the subject he is treating. That pow'rful noise

His quaintest thoughts may be paralCalls my fleeting soul away.

leled from different passages, in the Oh! suppress that magic sound, Which destroys without a wound.

works of other poets, but he is so Peace, Chloris, peace, or singing die,

blindly attached to them, that he That together you and I To heav'u may go;

crowds into his verse every point of For all we know Of what the blessed do above

every kind which his subject affords, Is that they sing and that they love." as if all of equal propriety and value. One of the happiest stanzas in his Thus, in the example given, the last panegyric on Cromwell runs thus : It line is absolutely ludicrous, because alludes to the insular advantages of utterly uncongenial with the graver England.

tone of the subject and the preceding Angels and we have this prerogative,

matter, whilst in an epigram or a saThat none can at our happy seats arrive, While we descend, at pleasure, to invade

tire it might have been applauded. The bad with vengeance, and the good to aid." His love of point is so intense, that

Cowley made his age of English he heeds not how far he goes for one, poetry what that of Seneca was in or how laboriously he hammers it inRoman poetry; and had Seneca been to the shape he wants. Although a more of a poet, he would have been thought have the coldness of frostthe Roman Cowley. One song will work itself, he cares not, so it possessufficiently exemplify the peculiarities es also the crystalline sparkle; and

though in the banquet he sets before

of this poet.

Medal.

us we meet with much real fruit, we nerally, and the word style understood fully as often have our teeth set' on in its most general sense, and not, by edge by a cheat in stone, or an imita- any means, as including those peculi. tion in ice.

arities of rythm or versification which Dryden, to a facility equal to that of are more properly classed under the Cowley, in the exhibition of original denomination of mannerism. That and unexpected turns, has added the criticism, which turns back for models most exquisite judgment in using to the works of the early poets, is certhem. He was the first, and is per- tainly most mistaken. The regions of haps the greatest master of that style poetical simplicity are quickly exhaustof writing poetry which, in reality, is ed, and to expect further discoveries almost as far removed from simplicity there, is to expect them in a country as that of Cowley, but in which, by which has been surveyed and mapped the better adaptation of the materials over and over. Another reason for to the subject, the art of the poet is the gradual dereliction of simplicity in either altogether concealed, or else ren- poetry is that general tendency to abdered pleasing by the very way in stract ideas, which civilization and which it is exerted. The world, to be knowledge are always inducing. sure, had seen the two early pieces of The mind, less and less accustomed Milton, L'Allegro, and Il Penseroso; to details, with difficulty condescends but, before the publication of “ Para- to the consideration of simple impresdise Lost,” Dryden had written much, sions, however beautiful and however and well. It remains to select a few new, and finds more excitement in the passages, and first, as an instance of bringing together of ideas which are daring simile admirably adapted to the usually apart, and the generalizing of subject, take these couplets.

sensations which are at first naturally “ I call'd thee, Nile; the parallel will stand ;

distinct. This evidently leads to what Thy tides of wealth o'erflow the fattend land, is called a metaphysical or artificial Yet monsters from thy large increase we find Engender'd on the slime thou leav'st behind.” style of writing. To use the term,

“ artificial," however, as descriptive of The next would be out of taste in a deviation from some fixed standard any thing but a satire.

of style, is to give it a strictness which “In fireworks give him leave to vent his spite,

it has really never borne. There can Those are the only serpents he can write." Absalom & Achitophel.

hardly be a general or national artifi

cial style, in any reasonable meaning The passages that follow are not a

of the word; nor is there

any

fixed little Cowleian, excepting in the occa- standard of the natural and familiar. sions of their introduction.

Those thoughts which are now far“ The souls of friends, like kings, in progress are fetched must, as the minds of men beStil in their own, though from the palace far: Thus her friend's heart her country dwelling was,

come more accustomed to poetical im- A sweet retirement in a coarser place,

ages and expressions, grow gradually Where pomp and ceremonies entered not, Where greatness was shut out, and business well common. Some of our most familiar forgot."

phrases, which are now trite and vul“ One I beheld, the fairest of her kind, And still the sweet idea charms my mind;

gar, are, in fact, in their elements, True, she was dumb; for Nature gazed so long, highly figurative and poetical, and Pleas'd with her work, that she forgot her tongue; But smiling said, she still shall gain the prize, probably were at first popular for that I only have transferred it to her eyes.".

Epistie to Kneller.

very reason.

In short, it would ap

pear, that future adventurers in me• Dim as the borrowed beams of moon and stars To lonely, weary, wand'ring travellers

taphor will be less and less able than Is reason to the soul; and as on high

their predecessors have been, to leave Those rolling fires discover but the sky, Not light us here; so Reason's glimm'ring ray

behind the idioms of common use, and Was lent not to assure our doubtful way,

that the common place has a perpetual But guide us upward to a better day. And as these nightly tapers disappear

tendency to outstrip the artificial. If When day's bright Lord ascends our hemisphere, So pale grow's reason at religion's sight,

the principles of criticism, deducible So dies, and so dissolves in supernatural light.”. from the foregoing, were applied to

Religio Laici.

living poets, Mr Moore would perhaps Such is the style of Dryden, the be found too much, and Mr Wordsgreat principle of which has, since his worth too little, addicted to the search time, continued, and probably will of originality of point and metaphor. continue, to be that of all successful This, however, is dangerous ground, English poets. This assertion, how. nor are such comparisons within the ever, must of course be taken quite ge- intention of the present remarks.

a

Eleanora.

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PUBLIC BUILDINGS OF EDINBURGH. EDINBURGH is a city of palaces.- architects I cannot comprehend.-- All The imposing natural grandeur of her people, whose taste and genius influsituation has excited a kindred spirit ence and lead public opinion, are as in her architects; the dark huge masses well acquainted with the noble edifices of the old town, and the open and airy of Europe, as they are with the works splendour of the new, associate with of Homer and Virgil--and the tables the surrounding magnificence of na- and shelves of architects are loaded ture, and make “mine own romantic and encumbered with drawings of all town” the wonder of Europe. The the buildings Greece or Italy possess.spirit of public improvement is visibly They accumulate there, till native taste abroad, and national taste seeks to as- is terrified at the contemplation-resociate with its pure and impressive buked as the spirit of the Roman Triumliterature the sister productions of vir was under the eye of Cæsar-till ori. architecture, painting, and sculpture. ginal talent is frightened into servile To accomplish this, we must be pru- imitation--and then the nation is desirdently patient-we cannot create are ed to build the columns of Trajan and chitects like soldiers, by a conscrip- Antonine, as beacons to light the way tion--nor rear splendid edifices by for public taste an expensive mode & spell-nor rob Athens to decorate of instruction, sacrificing ready money, Edinburgh, as Constantine did Rome and originality together for the sake to ornament Byzantium; we must of erecting something that means nomaintain the same air of originality in thing, unless accompanied with a our buildings which reigns in our lite- spiral supplemental bas-relief, to rerature, and make the one worthy of the present the deeds it is designed to other.--I confess, Mr North, I perused, celebrate.—A Trajan's column will apwith some pain, an article in your last pear in Edinburgh, without its sculpNumber, recommending the restoration tural explanations, with as much proof the Parthenon in the national monu- priety as the female quaker appeared ment, and pressing, its reception at naked in the streets of London as a sign great length and with great learning. to the people !-- You will observe the But there is no occasion to array a ancients had always an obvious meanline of eminent names

of ancient na- ing in their works.-What is the diftions, and famous edifices--the ques- ference, for it seems your correspondent tion lies at the very surface, and is has discovered there is one, between decided by the natural good taste which building an exact Parthenon, and caris more or less in the bosom of every ving an exact Apollo,—they are both individual.- I love the warm heartede servile plagiarisms-proofs, perhaps, of ness with which your correspondent delicate hands and degenerate heads; presses the matter; I perfectly agree and the carver is as original as the with him concerning the object; but mason, and the mason as the carver. we differ widely about the means- I should also think a Parthenon in he reasons wisely-but he reasons Scotch freestone, will still be more from wrong principles.

like the original than the English It is asserted, there is a wide-an Homer of Pope or Cowper is like unapproachable difference betwixt li- the illustrious Greek, and millions terature and art; and Homer and Vire claim their acquaintance with the di-, gil are pointed out as the well-springs vine poet through that medium of poetical genius, at which the muse alone - I for onea much more queshas refreshed herself through all suc- tionable mode of acquaintance than ceeding generations. --But while we contemplating the Parthenon in draware called upon to imitate those im- ings or models, to which I hope the mortal men--to do for Scotland what taste of the country will always keep they did for Greece and Rome-hallow it confined. That Michael Angelo, her deeds and her heroes, we are not who proudly wrote

Michael, poet, permitted to adapt their verse to our sculptor, and architect;" studied the achievements, and by a mere alter- Grecian buildings I have no doubt ation of names, transter at once the but he was no servile borrower-in eminent poems of the Heathen into his borrowing he shewed the exuberChristian service.-How this privilege ance of his native riches-he did not is denied to poets and conceded to borrow because of abject poverty-he

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did not advise a resurrection of the blance between the Acropolis and the Parthenon--nor accurate copies of tri. Calton-hill--they are both rocky eleumphant columns-he had a prouder, vations-overlook two ancient cities a nobler aim-and he attained it.- “they are both rivers, look you," says Your correspondent calls the poverty Fluellen, “and there be salmons in of England in superb structures an both.” And this unfortunate resem“ extraordinary problem," and seeks blance must be punished by the into solve it, by saying it is from the diction of a corresponding edifice; and absence of works of art and so it is. something of the same kind of threat How does he suppose Greece obtained is held darkly forth against the rock of her buildings? There was a time, I Stirling. Can you tell me where Phidare say, when she was poor in these dias sought for a precedent in choosing ornaments--but Greece created them his site and what temple he plunfor herself-she was no importer of dered to ornament it? But it seems the architecture of other nations ; her we have quarries capable of being lan footsteps can only be traced in Egypt, boured into any forms which archiand that faintly." In Greece and Italy tects may be driven to borrow, and be the public money was lavished on pub- cause our native rocks have submitted lic edifices—the noblest modern works to every species of imitation which the in Britain are the result of private carver's chisel can accomplish--because subscription--a demand for grandeur Waterloo-place possesses capitals deliwould soon command the attention of cately carved, exactly resembling some genius-but no demand is made the Athenian antiques, we must have an public offices of the most powerful imitation on a grander scale; we have nation on earth are like brick-stacks, been but puny thieves of porticos and and our proudest palaces are like barns capitals hitherto-despise these petty and barracks.

larcenies-make a bold grasp, and be But it seems this is the golden mo- come the greatest and most unlimited ment to introduce this piece of bor- architectural thieves of the age. But rowed dignity--the only period when then, this will enable Edinburgh to an edifice of precisely the same de have a school of architecture-to be scription, and destined to exactly the come the centre of taste, and the missame purpose, as the Parthenon of tress of chaste design--and you canAthens," can be obtained ; public en- not imagine what wonderful things couragement calls loudly for some- Scottish genius may accomplish, by thing, and must, it seems, be gratified placing a Parthenon before it. It -must have a stolen morsel put into may teach us to be honest, but we beits mouth till something better can gin basely-it may instruct architects be made ready. Your correspondent in the honourable feeling of the genius calls out, like the cook at Camacho's of one land to another to abandon wedding, to the impatient Sancho- their predatory inroads on broken down “ Here friend, comfort thyself with nations—but it sets a bad example; and this scum till the pot boils ;" but a instead of holding up a wise and salutemple in honour of Minerva is one tary lesson, it will be hailed as a prething, and a monument in honour of cedent, not as a warning; and there Christian glory another. Why not ad- will be no end to the importation of vise at once a triumphal arch? a struc- ancient temples, while folly has a ture quite in point-ready madeno pound in her pocket, or Scotland an cost for invention-can, like the Par- acre of rock for a foundation. thenon, be taken, “cut and dry,” from Your correspondent, however, eonthe architect's portfolio, and will form fesses a kind of lurking suspicion, a grand entrance through which the that, inasmuch as a poem equal in titled men of the south can approach beauty to the Æneid, a statue as peer“old Lady Edinburgh on her throne less as the Apollo, and a work as sub of rock." These were erections which lime as the Principia, might be proages and great names have consecrated; duced in a few years, so might an edibut their time has passed away—they fice be imagined, rivalling the wonders stand memorials of ancient usage—and of the Parthenon; but he has far less a Christian people have found out a faith in the genius of architects than better way of acknowledging the pron in the imagination of poets and sculptection of providence. But a traveller, tors and lest some lucky creation of it seems, has discovered some resem- the kind should occur-some gifted VOL. VI.

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