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minds, and diversified by time or place. It has the contrary, brevity, speed, and eagerness, are been a term hitherto used to signify that which evidently marked out by the sound of the syllapleases us we know not why, and in our appro- bles. Thus the anguish and slow pace with bation of which we can justify ourselves only by which the blind Polypheme groped out with his the concurrence of numbers, without much power hands the entrance of his cave, are perceived in of enforcing our opinion upon others by any ar- the cadence of the verses which describe it. gument, but example and authority. It is, indeed, so little subject to the examinations of rea Κύκλωψ δε στενάχων τε και ωδίνων οδίνησε, son, that Paschal supposes it to end where de Χερσί ψηλαφόωνmonstration begins, and maintains, that without
Meantime the Cyclop raging with his wound, incongruity and absurdity we cannot speak of Spreads his wide arms, and searches roun, and round. geometrical beauty.
To trace all the sources of that various plea The critic then proceeds to show, that the efsure which we ascribe to the agency of beauty, or forts of Achilles struggling in his armour ayainst to disentangle all the perceptions involved in its the current of a river, sometimes resisting, and idea, would, perhaps, require a very great part sometimes yielding, may be perceived in the eliof the life of Aristotle or Plato. It is, however, sions of the syllables, the slow succession of the in many cases apparent that this quality is mere- feet, and the strength of the consonants. ly relative and comparative; that we pronounce things beautiful because they have something
Δείνον δ' αμφ' 'Αχιλήα κυκώμενον ίστατο κύμα. which we agree, for whatever reason, to call
"Ωθει δ' εν σάκεϊ πίπτων ρόος: ουδέ τόδεσσιν beauty, in a greater degree than we have been
'Εσκε στηρίξασθαι.accustomed to find it in other things of the same So ost the surge, in watery mountains spread, kind; and that we transfer the epithet as our
Beats on his back, or bursts upon his head;
Yet, dauntiess still, the adverse flood he braves, knowledge increases, and appropriate it to higher
And still indignant bounds above the waves, excellence, when higher excellence comes within Tired by the tides, his knees relax with toil; our view.
Wash'd from beneath him, slides the slimy soil. Much of the beauty of writing is of this kind, and therefore Boileau justly remarks, that the When Homer describes the crush of men books which have stood the test of time, and been dashed against a rock, he collects the most unadmired through all the changes
which the mind pleasing and harsh sounds. of man has suffered from the various revolutions of knowledge, and the prevalence of contrary
Συν δε δύω μάρψας, ώστε σκύλακας ποτί γαιη
Κόπτ' εκ δ' εγκέφαλος χαμάδις ρέε, δευε δε γαίαν. customs, have a better claim to our regard than any modern can boast, because the long continu
-His bloody hand ance of their reputation proves that they are ade
Snatch'd two, unhappy! of my martial band,
And dash'd like dogs against the stony floor ; quate to our faculties, and agreeable to nature.
The pavement swims with brains and iningled gore. It is, however, the task of criticism to establish principles; to improve opinion into knowledge ; | And when he would place before the eyes someand to distinguish those means of pleasing which thing dreadful and astonishing, he makes choice depend upon known causes and rational deduc- of the strongest vowels, and the letters of most tion, from the nameless and inexplicable ele
difficult utterance. gancies which appeal only to the fancy, from which we feel delight, but know not how they Τη δ' επι Γοργώ βλοσυρώπις έστεφάνωτο produce it, and which may well be termed the Δεινόν δερκομένη περί δε Δείμος τε φόβος τε. enchantress of the soul. Criticism reduces those
Tremendous Gorgon frown'd upon its field, regions of literature under the dominion of
And circling terrors fill’d th' expressive shield, science, which have hitherto known only the anarchy of ignorance, the caprices of fancy, and the tyranny of prescription.
Many other examples Dionysius produces; There is nothing in the art of versifying so but these will sufficiently show, that either hé much exposed to the power of imagination as the was fanciful, or we have lost the genuine proaccommodation of the sound to the sense, or the nunciation; for I know not whether, in any one representation of particular images, by the flow of these instances, such similitude can be disof the verse in which they are expressed. Every covered. It seems, indeed, probable, that the student has innumerable passages, in which he, veneration with which Homet was read, proand perhaps he alone, discovers such resem- duced many supposititious beauties; for though blances; and since the attention of the present it is certain, that the sound of many of his verses race of poetical readers seems particularly turned very justly corresponds with the things expressupon this species of elegance, I shall endeavoured, yet, when the force of his imagination, which to examine how much these conformities have gave him full possession of every object, is conbeen observed by the poets, or directed by the cri- sidered, together with the flexibility of his lantics, how far they can be established upon na- guage, of which the syllables might be often còn. ture and reason, and on what occasions they tracted or dilated at pleasure, it will seem unhave been practised by Milton.
likely that such conformity should happen less Homer, the father of all poetical beauty, has frequently even without design. been particularly celebrated by Dionysius of It is not however to be doubted, that Virgil, Halicarnassus, as he that, of all the poets, exhi- who wrote amidst the light of criticism, and who bited the greatest variety of sound ;*" for there owed so much of his success to art and labour, are, (says he,) innumerable passages, in which endeavoured among other excellences, to exhibit length of time, bulk of body, extremity of pas- this similitude; nor has he been less happy in sion, and stillness of repose ; or, in which, on this than in the other graces of versification.
This felicity of his numbers was, at the revival When things are small, the terms should still be so ;
But when some giant, horrible and grim,
Enormous in his gait, and vast in every limb,
Stalks towering on; the swelling words must rise
In just proportion to the monster's size.
If some large weight his huge arms strive to shove,
The verse too labours; the throng'd words scarce movo,
When each stiff clod beneath the ponderous plough
Crumbles and breaks, th' encumber'd lines march slow
Nor less, when pilots catch the friendly gales,
Unfurl their shrouds, and hoist the wide-stretch'd sails
But if the poem suffers from delay,
Let the lines fly precipitate away,
And when the viper issues from the brake,
Be quick; with stones, and brands, and fire, attack
His rising crest, and drive the serpent back.
When night descends, or stunn'd by numerous strokes, Ingratus visu, sonitu illætabilis ipso.
And groauing, to the earth drops the vast ox;
The line too sinks with correspondent sound,
Flat with the steer, and headlong to the ground.
When the wild waves subside, and tempests cease,
And hush the roarings of the sea to peace;
So oft we see the interrupted strain
Stopp'd in the midst—and with the silent main
Paused for a space--at last it glides again.
When Priam strains his aged arm, to throw
His unavailing javelin at the foe;
(His blood congeal'd, and every nerve unstrung)
Then with the theme complies the artful song ;
Like him, the solitary numbers flow,
Weak, trembling, melancholy, stiff, and slow
Not so young Pyrrhus, who with rapid force
Beats down embattled armies in his course.
The raging youth in trembling Ilion falls,
Bursts her strong gates, and shakes her lofty walls ;
Provokes his flying courser to his speed,
In full career to charge the warlike steed:
He piles the field with mountains of the slain ;
He pours, he storms, he thunders thro' the plain.
From the Italian gardens Pope seems to have
transplanted this flower, the growth of happier Aut cum perculsus graviter procumbit humi bos. Cumque etiam requies rebus datur, ipsa quoque ultro
climates, into a soilless adapted to its nature, and Carmina paulisper cursu cessare videbis
less favourable to its increase.
Soft is the strain, when Zephyr gently blows,
Aud the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows,
But when loud billows lash the sounding shore,
The hoarse, rough verse should like the torrent roar.
When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,
The line too labours, and the words move slow;
Not so when swift Camilla scours the plain,
Flies o'er the unbending corn and skims along the main.
From these lines, laboured with great atten
tion, and celebrated by a rival wit, may be judg"Tis not enough his verses to complete, In measure, numbers, or determined feet.
ed what can be expected from the most diligent To all, proportion'd terms he must dispense,
endeavours after this imagery of sound. The And make the sound a picare of the sense ;
verse intended to represent the whisper of the The correspondent words exactly frame, The look, the features, and the mien the same.
vernal breeze, must be confessed not much to With rapid feet and wings, without delay,
excel in softness or volubility ; and the smooth This swiftly flies, and smoothly skims away :
stream runs with a perpetual clash of jarring This blooins with youth and beauty in his face, And Venus breathes on every limb a grace;
consonants. The noise and turbulence of the That, of rude form, his uncouth members shows,
torrent is, indeed distinctly imaged, for it requires Looks horrible, and frowns with his rough brows; very little skill to make our language rough; but His monstrous tail, in many a fold and wind,
in these lines, which mention the effort of Ajax, Voluminous and vast, curls up behind;
there is no particular heaviness, obstruction, or At once the image and the lines appear Rude to the eye, and frightful to the ear.
delay. The swiftness of Camilla is rather conLo! when the sailors steer the ponderous ships,
trasted than exemplified ; why the verse should And plough, with brazen beaks, the foamy deeps
be lengthened to express speed, will not easily Incumbent on the main that roars around, Beneath their labouring oars the waves resound;
be discovered. In the dactyls used for, that purThe prows wide echoing through the dark profound pose by the ancients, two short syllables were To the loud call each distant rock replies;
pronounced with such rapidity, as to be equal Toss'd by the storm the towering surges rise ; While the hoarse ocean beats the sounding shore,
only to one long; they, therefore, naturally exDash'd from the strand, the flying waters roar.
hibit the act of passing through a long space in a Flash at the shock, and gathering in a heap,
short time. But the Alexandrine, by its pause The liquid mountains rise, and overhang the deep. in the midst, is a tardy and stately measure; and But when blue Neptune from his car surveys,
the word unbending one of the most sluggish and And calms at one regard the raging seas, Stretch'd like a peaceful lake the vleep subsides,
slow which our language affords, cannot much And the pitch'd vessel o'er tile surface glides.
accelerate its motion.
These rules and these examples have taught, ticisin. Such performances, however, are rrot our present critics to inquire very studiously and wholly without their use; for they are commonly minutely into sounds and cadences. It is there- just echoes to the voice of fame, and transmit the fore useful to examine with what skill they have general suffrage of mankind when they have no proceeded; what discoveries they have made; particular motives to suppress it. and whether any rules can be established which Critics, like the rest of mankind, are very fremay guide us hereafter in such researches.
quently misled by interest. The bigotry with which editors regard the authors whom they
illustrate or correct, has been generally remarked. TUESDAY, FEB, 5, 1751.
Dryden was known to have written most of his
critical dissertations only to recommend the work -Experiar quid concedatur in illos
upon which he then happened to be employed: Quorum Flaminia tegitur cinis atque Latina.
and Addison is suspected to have denied the exMore safely truth to urge her claim presumes,
pediency of poetical justice, because his own On names now found alone on books and tombs.
Cato was condemned to perish in a good cause.
There are prejudices which authors, not otherThere are few books on which more time is wise weak or corrupt, have indulged without spent by young students, than on treatises which scruple; and perhaps some of them are so comdeliver the characters of authors; nor any which plicated with our natural affections, that they oftener deceive the expectation of the reader, or cannot easily be disentangled from the heart. fill his mind with more opinions which the pro- Scarce any can hear with impartiality a comparigress of his studies and the increase of his know- son between the writers of his own and another ledge oblige him to resign.
country: and though it cannot, I think, be charged Baillet has introduced his collection of the de- equally on all nations, that they are blinded with cisions of the learned, by an enumeration of the this literary patriotism, yet there are none that do prejudices which mislead the critic, and raise the not look upon their authors with the fondness of passions in rebellion against the judgment. His affinity, and esteem them as well for the place catalogue, though large, is imperfect; and who of their birth, as for their knowledge or their wit. can hope to complete it? The beauties of writing There is, therefore, seldom much respect due to have been observed to be often such as cannot comparative criticism, when the competitors are in the present state of human knowledge be of different countries, unless the judge is of a naevinced by evidence, or drawn out into demon- tion equally indifferent to both. The Italians strations; they are therefore wholly subject to could not for a long time believe, that there was the imagination, and do not force their effects any learning beyond the mountains; and the upon a mind pre-occupied by unfavourable sen French seem generally persuaded, that there are timents, nor overcome the counter-action of a no wits or reasoners equal to their own. I can Calse principle or of stubborn partiality. scarcely conceive that if Scaliger had not consi
To convince any man against his will is hard, dered himself as allied to Virgil, by being born but to please him against his will is justly pro- in the same country, he would have found his nounced by Dryden to be above the reach of hu- works so much superior to those of Homer, or man abilities. Interest and passion will hold out have thought the controversy worthy of so much long against the closest siege of diagrams and zeal, vehemence and acrimony. syllogisms, but they are absolutely impregnable
There is, indeed, one prejudice, and only one, to imagery and sentiment; and will for ever bid by which it may be doubted whether it is any disdefiance to the most powerful strains of Virgil or honour to be sometimes misguided. Criticism Homer, though they may give way in time to the has so often given occasion to the envious and batteries of Euclid or Archimedes.
ill-natured, of gratifying their malignity, that In trusting therefore to the sentence of a critic, some have thought it necessary to recommend we are in danger not only from that vanity which the virtue of candour without restriction, and to exalts writers too often to the dignity of teach- preclude all future liberty of censure. Writers ing what they are yet to learn, from that negli- possessed with this opinion are continually engence which sometimes steals upon the most vi- forcing civility and decency, recommending to gilant caution, and that fallibility to which the critics the proper diffidence of themselves, and condition of nature has subjected every human inculcating the veneration due to celebrated understanding; but from a thousand extrinsic names. and accidental causes, from every thing which
I am not of opinion that these professed enocan excite kindness or malevolence, veneration mies of arrogance and severity have much more or contempt:
benevolence or modesty than the rest of manMany of those who have determined with great kind; or that they feel in their own hearts, any boldness upon the various degrees of literary me other intention than to distinguish themselves tj rit, may be justly suspected of having passed their softness and delicacy. Some are modest sentence, as Seneca remarks of Claudius, because they are timorous, and some are lavista Una tantum parte audita,
of praise because they hope to be repaid. Sæpe et nulla,
There is, indeed, some tenderness due to li
ing writers, when they attack none of those truths without much knowledge of the cause before which are of importance to the happiness of manthem: for it will not easily be imagined of Lang- kind, and have committed no other offence than bane, Borrichitus, or Rapin, that they had very that of betraying their own ignorance or dulness. accurately perused all the books which they praise I should think it cruelty to crush an insect who or censure; or that, even if nature and learning had provoked me only by buzzing in my ear; and had qualified them for judges, they could read would not willingly interrupt the dream of harm for ever with the attention necessary to just cri- | less stupidity, or destroy the jest which makes
its author laugh. Yet I am far from thinking his measure with his subject, even without any this tenderness universally necessary, for he that effort of the understanding, or intervention of the writes may be considered as a kind of general judgment. To revolve jollity and mirth necessachallenger, whom every one has a right to at-rily tunes the voice of a poet to gay and sprightly tack; since he quits the common rank of life, notes, as it fires his eye with vivacity; and resteps forward beyond the lists, and offers his flection on gloomy situations and disastrous merit to the public judgment. To commence events, will sadden his numbers, as it will cloud author is to claim praise, and no man can justly his countenance. But in such passages there is aspire to honour, but at the hazard of disgrace. only the similitude of pleasure to pleasure, and
But, whatever be decided concerning contem- of grief to grief, without any immediate applicaporaries, whom he that knows the treachery of|tion to particular images. The same flow of the human heart, and considers how often we joyous versification will celebrate the jollity of gratify our own pride or envy, under the appear-marriage, and the exultation of triumph; and the ance of contending for elegance and propriety, same languor of melody will suit the complaints will find hirnself not much inclined to disturb; of an absent lover, as of a conquered king. there can surely be no exemptions pleaded to se It is scarcely to be doubted, that on many occure them from criticism, who can no longer suf- casions we make the music which we imagine fer by reproach, and of whom nothing now re ourselves to hear, that we modulate the poem by mains but their writings and their names. Upon our own disposition, and ascribe to the numbers these authors the critic is undoubtedly at full the effects of the sense. We may observe in life, liberty to exercise the strictest severity, since he that it is not easy to deliver a pleasant message endangers only his own fame; and like Æneas, in an unpleasing manner, and that we readily aswhen he drew his sword in the infernal regions, sociate beauty and deformity with those whom encounters phantoms which cannot be wounded for any reason we love or hate. Yet it would be He may, indeed, pay some regard to established too daring to declare that all the celebrated reputation; but he can by that show of reverence adaptations of harmony are chimerical, that Hoconsult only his own security, for all other mo mer had no extraordinary attention to the me. tives are now at an end.
lody of his verse when he described a nuptial The faults of a writer of acknowledged excel festivity; lence are more dangerous, because the influence of his example is more extensive; and the inte
Νυμφας δ' εκ θαλαμων, δαίδων, υπολαμπομεναων,
πολυς δ' υμεναιος όρωρει .
And solemn dance, and hymeneal rite ;
Along the street the new-made brides are led, precedents of indisputable authority.
With torches flaming to the nuptial bed ; It has, indeed, been advanced by Addison, as The youthful dancers in a circle bound one of the characteristics of a true critic, that he To the soft flute, and cittern's silver sound. points out beauties rather than faults. But it is that Vida was merely fanciful, when he supposed apply himself chiefly to the study of writers who Virgil endeavouring to represent by uncommon have more beauties than faults to be displayed:
sweetness of numbers the adventitious beauty of
Æneas : for the duty of criticism is neither to depreciate, nor dignify by partial representations, but to hold Os, humerosque Deo similis : namque ipse vecoram out the light of reason, whatever it may discover;
Cesariem nato genitrir, lumenque juventa and to promulgate the determinations of truth,
Purpureum, et latos oculis afflarat honores. whatever she shall dictate.
The Trojan chief appear'd in open sight;
And given his rolling eyes a sparkling grace,
And breath'd a youthful vigour on his face.
or that Milton did not intend to exemplify the Suder-per obstantes catervas
harmony which he mentions : Explicuit sua victor arma.
Fountains! and ye that warble as ye flow,
Melodious murmurs' warbling tune bis pruise.
That Milton understood the force of sounds And virtue's arms victoriously displays.
well adjusted, and knew the compass and variety The resemblance of poetic numbers to the sub- of the ancient measures, cannot be doubted"; ject which they mention or describe, may be con- since he was both a musician and a critic; but sidered as general or particular; as consisting in he seems to have considered these conformities the flow and structure of a whole passage taken of cadence as either not often attainable in our together, or as comprised in the sound of sorne language, or as petty excellences unworthy of his emphatical and descriptive words, or in the ca- ambition: for it will not be found that he has aldence and harmony of single verses.
ways assigned the same cast of numbers to the The general resemblance of the sound to the same objects. He has given in two passages sense is to be found in every language which ad- very minute descriptions of angelic beauty; but mits of poetry, in every author whose force of though the images are nearly the same, the numfancy enables him to impress images strongly on bers will be found upon comparison very difhis own mind, and whose choice and variety of ferent: language readily supplies him with just represent And now a strippling cherub he appears, ations. To such a writer it is natural to change Not of the prime, yet such as in his fac
Youth smiled celestial, and to every limb
Vertitur interea cælum, et ruit oceano nuz.-
Meantime the rapid heavens rollid down the light,
And on the shaded ocean rush'd the night. DRYDEN. Of many a coluur'd plume, sprinkled with gold.
Sternitur, ezanimisque tremens, procumbit humi bos. Some of the lines of this description are remark- Down drops the beast, nor needs a second wound; ably detective in harmony, and therefore by no But sprawls in pangs of death, and spurns the ground, means correspondent with that symmetrical elegance and easy grace which they are intended to Parturiunt montes, nascitur ridiculus mus. exhibit. The failure, however, is fully compen- The mountains labour, and a mouse is born. sated by the representation of Raphael, which equally delights the car and imagination:
If all these observations are just, there must be
some remarkable conformity between the sud A seraph wing'd; six wings he wore to shade
den succession of night to day, the fall of an ox His lineaments Divine; the pair that clad Each shoulder broad, came mantling o'er his breast
under a blow, and the birth of a mouse from a With regal oruainent: the middle pair
mountain ; since we are told of all these images, Giri like a starry zone his waist, and round
that they are very strongly impressed by the Skirt d his loins and thighs, with downy gold,
same form and termination of the verse. And colours dipp'd in heaven: the third his feet Sh dow'd from either heel with feather'd mail,
We may, however, without giving way to enSky-tinctur'd grain! like Maia's son be stood, thusiasm, admit that some beauties of this kind And shook his plumes, that heavenly fragrance fill'd
may be produced. A sudden stop at an unusual The circuit wide.
syllable may image the cessation of action, or the The adumbration of particular and distinct pause of discourse; and Milton has very hap mages by an exact and perceptible resemblance pily imitated the repetitions of an echo: of sound, is sometimes studied, and sometimes
I fled, and cried out death: casual. Every language has many words form Hell trembled at the hideous name, and sigh'd ed in imitation of the noises which they signify. From all her caves, and back resounded death. Such are Strider, Balo, and Beatus, in Latin ; and in English to growl, to buzz, to hiss, and to
The measure of time in pronouncing may be jar. Words of this kind give to a verse the pro- varied so as very strongly to represent, not only per similitude of sound, without much labour of modes of external motion, but the quick or slow the writer, and such happiness is therefore rather succession of ideas, and consequently the pasto be attributed to fortune than skill; yet they sions of the mind. This at least was the power are sometimes combined with great propriety, of the spondaic and dactylic harmony, but our and undeniably contribute to enforce the im- | language can reach no eminent diversities of pression of the idea. We hear the passing ar- sound. We can indeed sometimes, by encumrow in this line of Virgil;
bering and retarding the line, show the difficulty
of a progress made by strong efforts and with Et fugit horrendum stridens elapsa sagitta, frequent interruptions, or mark a slow and Th’impetuous arrow whizzes on the wing--POPE.
heavy motion. Thus Milton has imaged the
toil of Satan struggling through chaos; and the creaking of hell-gates, in the description by Milton;
So he with difficulty and labour hard
Moy'd on: with difficulty and labour hem
thus he has described the leviathans or whales!
Wallowing unwieldy, enormous in their gait But many beauties of this kind, which the mo- But he has at other times neglected such reprederns, and perhaps the ancients, have observed, sentations, as may be observed in the volubility seem to be the product of blind reverence acting and levity of these lines, which express an action upon fancy. Dionysius himself tells us that the tardy and reluctant. sound of Homer's verses sometimes exhibits the idea of corporeal bulk: is not this a discovery
-Descent and fall
To us is adverse. Who but felt of late, nearly approaching to that of the blind man, who
When the fierce foe hung on our broken rear after long inquiry into the nature of the scarlet
Insulting, and pursued us through the des colour, found that it represented nothing so With what confusion and laborious flight much as the clangour of a trumpet ? The repre
We sunk thus !ow? Th’ascent is easy then. sentative power of poetic harmony consists of sound and measure; of the force of the syllables
In another place, he describes the gentle glide singly considered, and of the time in which they of ebbing waters in a line remarkably rough and are pronounced. Sound can resemble nothing halting. but sound, and time can measure nothing but motion and duration.
Tripping ebb; that stole
With soft foot tow'rds the deep who now had stopp'd The critics, however, have struck out other si His sluices. militudes; nor is there any irregularity of numbers which credulous admiration cannot discover It is not, indeed, to be expected, that the sound to be eminently beautiful. Thus the propriety should always assist the meaning, but it ought of each of these lines has been celebrated by never to counteract it; and therefore Milton has writers whose opinion the world has reason to here certainly committed a fault like that of the regard ;
player, who looked on the earth when he im