« AnteriorContinuar »
importance of this quality, and without making a really practical use of it, we shall find our natural talents to be of little avail. We may be able to learn with ease, to commit to memory with unequalled rapidity, to master without much difficulty sciences the most abstruse; yet, unless this be done with a method, we shall find hereafter our minds, like a vast library without arrangement or catalogue, to contain mines of literary wealth, to all intents and purposes inaccessible. Finally, we must remember that want of Punctuality leads us to that most unmanly fault, Procrastination. Time in its widest sense is but a portion, and that but a very small one, cut off from a boundless eternity—a thing of duration implying a Past, Present, or Future of these the present is all we can safely call our own. Let us not then defer, like cowards, our work of self-amendment till the morrow, but boldly nip all habits of unpunctuality and procrastination in the bud, taking as our motto the Ovidian precept,
"Principiis obsta: sero medicina paratur,
Martiis cælebs quid agam Calendis ?
Winds of March about thee moan,
If thou bloom so sweetly fair
In the wild and troubled air,
What, oh! what will thou do there?
Love will add a deeper hue
Love will add a perfume new
Sweeter then than Summer's rose,
Will be my own true Violet.
THE BEAUTIES OF POPE.
Tale tuum carmen nobis, divine poeta,
Quale sopor fessis in gramine; quale per æstum
Dulcis aquæ saliente sitim restinguere rivo,
Non calamis solum æquiparas, sed voce magistrum.
Few of the great names which adorn our poetical literature have ever attained to so glorious an eminence as Alexander Pope's. The graceful diction, the polished harmony, the pleasing flow of his verses, have justly won the applause of admiring posterity. Though his versification wants the bold conceptions, the masterly ideas, the force and power which mark that of his great predecessor Dryden, yet it is far superior in the soft melody and delightful cadence which has caused it to be so justly praised. But there is
this marked difference between the two: Dryden's verses, though sometimes far above his usual standard, are sometimes also as far below it, while in Pope's finished pieces it would be difficult to find even a single line which could be changed for the better.
The first pieces which Pope wrote were his pastorals, which were published in "Tonson's Miscellany," and immediately attracted notice by the purity and elegance of their style. Still they wanted the simplicity of bucolic poetry, and in fact were anything rather than pastorals: the most choice perhaps is that entitled "Autumn," in which two shepherds lament their absent loves, partly written in imitation of the eighth Eclogue of Virgil: the following lines taken from it will be sufficient to show its character:
"Go, gentle gales, and bear my sighs along!
The next piece which appeared was his "Essay on Criticism," which, though it possesses many passages of great merit and some even of beauty, yet also displays many of the inaccuracies and faults of a juvenile author.
Among the pieces which he published at this time appears the "Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady;" it is a perfect gem in its way; the sad mournful strain which pervades it falls into verses of the most exquisite taste and harmony; we cannot refrain from quoting a few lines:
"Yet shall thy grave with rising flowers be dress'd,
The "Messiah" was another of the pieces he wrote about this time, which he drew partly from the fourth Eclogue of Virgil, and partly from the 65th chapter of Isaiah. He commences by relating the blessings which the birth of the Messiah confer, all nature rejoicing at his coming, and the universal peace which shall overspread the whole world; he then arouses all his poetical genius and concludes the whole with a magnificent burst of poetry descriptive of the glories which shall attend the reign of our Lord upon earth. The "Ode to St. Cecilia," too, was written about this time, on which we cannot bestow greater praise than the words of Dr. Johnson, who said that he considered. it the finest ode in the English language, Dryden's "Alexander's Feast" alone excepted.
It was about this time that he undertook to translate the Iliad of Homer into English verse. He accomplished his arduous task in a manner worthy of himself: but his translation has one grave defect: it is no longer Homer, it is essentially Pope: it wants the rugged majesty and stately poetry of the ancient bard, but this apart, it contains a beauty of versification and diction which is quite unrivalled; the perfection and rhythm of each line too is something astonishing, and has caused it to be justly regarded as the most perfect translation of any kind in the English language.
The next piece which demands our attention is the
"Temple of Fame," which is universally allowed to be one of the happiest our poet ever wrote. He opens the subject with a description of the exterior of the "Temple of Fame" painted in the most glowing colours. He first describes the statues of the great heroes of antiquity which surround the outside. The doors of the Temple then unfold and display to view the noble men of ancient times who have merited a place within its walls. He then goes on in verses of the most exquisite beauty to relate the six columns which surrounded the throne, Homer, Virgil, Pindar, Horace, and last but not least
"With equal rays immortal Tully shone,
But high in the centre towers immortal Fame herself, whom he pictures in language nearly equal to the Mantuan bard's well-known description of "Fama," while seated at her feet are the nine muses awaiting her commands to celebrate the praises of any aspirant who may have obtained her notice. He then describes the different classes who sue for her favour, and lastly himself is demanded what he He deplores the brief and passing glory which most men obtain, and finishes his reply by saying:
"Unblemish'd let me live, or die unknown :
But of all his minor pieces the Epistle of Eloisa to Abelard is by far the most perfect, both in the beauty of the expressions and the finish of the versification: the most touching