Gambar halaman
PDF
ePub

His Lordship points out the reason of these different effects, In the former instances, the Personification is pasionate; in the latter it is descriptive.

Abstract terms, which of themselves prefent no image to the mind, are frequently personified. Thus Slander is imagined to be a voluntary agent.

No, 'ris Slander;
Whose edge is sharper than the sword; whose tongue
Outvenoms all the worms of Nile; whose breath
Rides on the posting winds, and doth belie
All corners of the world, Kings, Queens, and States,
Maids, Matrons; nay, the secrets of the Grave

This viperous Stander enters. His Lordship next proceeds to ascertain the proper province of Personification. All dispiriting pafsions, he observes, are averse to it. Remorse, in particular, is too serious and severe, to be gratified by a phantom of the mind.

With regard to descriptive Personification, he remarks, that it ought to be cautiously used. In plain narrative, the mind, serious and sedate, rejects Personification altogether. The Personification of mean objects is ridiculous; and his Lordship cenfures several Poets for improprieties of this kind.

How now? What noise! That spirit's possess'd with hafte,

That wounds th' unresisting postern with these strokes. Thomson, he observes, is licentious in this article:

Then fated Hunger bids his brother Thirt

Produce the mighty bowl. The Apostrophe, which bestows a momentary presence upon a fenfible Being who is abfent; and the Hyperbole, which magnifies or diminishes objects, come next under consideration. The first, like all other figures, requires an agitation of mind. The latter is generally more successful in magnifying than in diminishing.

The next figure taken notice of, is that whereby the means or instrument is conceived to be the agent.

For Neleus' fons Alcides' had sain. The ensuing section treats of a figure not dignified by any prop«r name: and which, among related objects, extends the properties of one to another. Giddy Brink, jovial wine, daring wound, are examples of this figure. A brink is termed giddy, from producing that effect on those who stand on it.

rage

In the same manner a wound is said to be daring, not with respect to itself, but with respect to the boldness of the person who inflicts it: and wine is said to be jovial, as inspiring mirth and jollity.

In the next section, which treats of Metaphors and Allegories, it is very accurately remarked, that a Metaphor differs from a Simile in form only, not in substance. In a Simile, the two different subjects are kept distinct in thought only, not in expression. An Allegory, his Lordship obferves, differs from a Metaphor, for it requires no operation of the imagination, nor is one thing figured to be another: it consists in chusing a subject having properties or circumstances resembling those of the principal subject: and the former is described in such a manner as to represent the latter.

With due deference to the learned Writer, we are of opinion, that his sentiments here are too subtle and refined. We cannot agree with him that an Allegory requires no operation of the imagination: the famous Allegory of the Ship in Horace, which is mentioned by Quintilian, is an instance to the contrary: for, unless the imagination operates, we can never conceive, that by the Ship is to be understood the Republic, and that by the Port is meant Peace and Concord.

His Lordship exhibits several instances of strained and incongruous Metaphors from the best Writers; and proceeds in the next section to treat of Figurative Speech, which is defined to be, “ Employing a word in a fense different from what is proper to it. Many words, he acutely remarks, originally figurative, having, by long and constant use, toft their figurative power, are degraded to the inferior rank of terms---, as a soft nature, jarring tempers, &c. Several impropricties in figurative speech are pointed out and censured. As thus,

Strepitumque Exterritus haufit.

Write, my Queen, And with mine eyes I'll drink the words you send. The twenty-firft chapter, concerning Narration and Description, contains many excellent rules for fine Writing and just Criticisin, and is divided into two parts: the first respecting Thought; the next IVords. The thoughts, his Lordship observes, which embellish a narration, ought to be chaste and solid. Poetical images in a grave history are intolerable ; and Strada's Belgic History is especially censured in this re

spect, spect, being stuffed with poetical Aashes, which, even laying aside the impropriety, are mere tinsel.

Again, it is judiciously observed, that a man, who, at his first appearance, endeavours to exhibit all his talents, is never relished: the first periods of a work therefore ought to be short, natural, and simple. Cicero, in his oration pro Archia Poeta, errs against this rule : his Reader is out of breath at the very first period, which seems never to end. Sea veral examples likewise of inconsistencies, in point of thought, are quoted from the best Writers.

He fled, but flying left his life behind. Again,

Full through his neck the weighty faulchion sped:

Along the pavement rolld the mutt'ring head. Improprieties in Language come next under consideration. A Poet of any genius will not readily dress a high subject in low words; as thus,

Not one looks backward, onward ftill he goes,

Yet ne'er looks forward farther than his nose. On the other hand, to raise the expression above the tone of the subject, is a very common fault:

In the inner room
I spy a winking lamp, that weakly strikes

The ambient air, scarce kindling into light.
In the following chapter, concerning Epic and Dramatic
Compositions, it is remarked, that Tragedy differs from the
Epic more in form than in substance. The ends proposed by
each, are instruction and amusement; and each of them

copy human actions as means to bring about these ends: they differ in the manner only of copying. Epic poetry deals in narration : Tragedy represents its facts as transacted in our sight. The effects of this difference, however, are very material : what we see, makes a stronger impression than what we learn from others. A narrative poem is a story told by another : facts and incidents palling upon the stage, come under our own observation; and are beside, much enlivened by action and gesture, expressive of many sentiments, beyond the reach of language.

A poem, the learned Writer observes, whether dramatic or epic, that hath no tendency beyond moving the paslions,

and

and exhibiting pictures of virtue and vice, may be distinguithed by the name of pathetic. But where a story is purposely contrived, to illustrate some important lesson of morality, by fhewing the natural connection betwixt disorderly pafsions and external misfortunes, such compofitions may be denominated moral. The good effects of such compositions are admirably described; and it is shewn, that they tend to a habit of virtue, by exciting emotions that produce good actions, and avert us from those that are vicious and irregular.

In the close of this chapter, his Lordship treats of the circumstances peculiar to each kind of composition. In a theatrical entertainment, he observes, which employs both the eye and the ear, it would be a monstrous abfurdity to introduce upon the stage invisible Beings in a visible shape. But it has been much disputed, whether such Beings may not be properly introduced in an epic poem. His Lordship declares on the negative side. Because machinery gives an air of fiction to the whole, and prevents that impression of reality which is requisite to interest our affections, and to move our passions. Were it possible to disguise the fiction, an insuperable objection would remain, which is, that the aim or end of an epic poem can never be accomplished in any perfection, where machinery is introduced. "Virtuous emotions cannot be raised successfully, but by the actions of those who are endued with passions and affections like our own, that is, by human actions.

With respect to a dramatic poem, his Lordship censures double plots. An under.plot in a tragedy has feldom a good effect; because a passionate piece cannot be too simple. Violent actions likewise, such as murder, ought to be excluded from the stage ; because it roules the fpectator from a pleafing dream, and, gathering his fenfes about him, he finds all to be a fiction. His reficctions on this subject are ingenious, and unquestionably founded in nature.

The three uniiies, form the subject of the next chapter. His Lordihip admits that unity of allion is equally essential to epic and dramatic compofitions; and proceeds to inquire how far the unities of time and place are essential. He declares himself sensible that the drama differs so far from the epic, as to admit different rules: and on this head he facctiously rallies Bossu, who, “after observing, that winter is an improper season for an epic poem, and night not less improper for tragedy, admits, however, that an epic poem may be spread

through through the whole summer months, and a tragedy through the whole fun-fhine hours of the longest summer day." At this rate, Lord Kaims humouroully observes, an English tragedy may be longer than a French tragedy; and in Nova, Žembla, the time of a tragedy and of an epic poem may be the same.

His Lordship, in a comparison between the Grecian drama and our own, very juftly takes notice, that the former is a continued representation, without any interruption. The unities of time and place, were, in Greece, a matter of neceflity, not of choice. In our drama, by dropping the chorus, an opportunity is afforded to 1plit it into parts of acts, which in the representation are distinguished by intervals of time; and during these intervals, the stage is totally evacuated, and the business suspended.-To admit an interruption, without relaxing from the strict unities of place and time, is in effect to lead us with all the inconveniencies of the ancient drama, and at the same time to withold from us its advantages. Therefore, he continues, the only proper question is, Whether our model be or be not a real improvement? In the discussion of this query, he makes many acute and judicious criticisins on the Grecian and modern dramatists; and upon the whole concludes in favour of the modern drama.

The ensuing chapter, which comes in as it were by surprize, treats of Gaidening and Architecture. Gardening, he very properly obferves, was at first an useful art. The garden of Alcinous, as described by Homer, was, in modern language, but a kitchen garden. Architecture has run the same course. It continued, many ages, merely an useful art, before it aspired to be classed with the fine arts. Architecture and gardening therefore must be considered, as being useful arts as well as fine arts: and hence arises that difference and wavering of tafte, which is more remarkable here than in any art that has but a single destination.

In the concluding chapter, his Lordship enters into a curious disquisition concerning the Standard of Taste. The proverb,, he observes, “ That there is no disputing about taste," may be admitted so far as it regards individuals. Nature, he remarks, in her scale of pleasures, has been sparing of divisions: the hath wisely and benevolently filled every division with many pleasures, in order that individuals may be contented with their own lot, without envying the happiness of others. In our present condition, happy it is that the pluRev. Aug. 1762.

H

rality

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »