« ForrigeFortsæt »
Atreus, of the flesh of his own sons, by The supposed sympathy of general a brother's hand. And at the death creation with the affairs of man, as of Cæsar, the poet's eye, with a vision manifested in prodigies and extraorquickened by patriotism, flattery, or dinary appearances, is obviously a superstition, saw the whole of nature figure which ought to be sparingly convulsed with grief for the virtues employed in poetry, particularly by a which the world had lost, and the ca. Christian poet writing to a Christian lamities which it was about to suffer. and enlightened age. If such ma“ Sol tibi signa dabit. Solem quis dicere chinery, which we are taught to ap
propriate to the most awful and mom falsum Audeat ? ille etiam cæcos instare tumultus
mentous events, be introduced on every Sæpè monet, fraudemque et operta tu.
petty and pitiful occasion of human mescere bella.
distress, it becomes ludicrous from its Ille etiam extincto miseratus Cæsare absurdity or shocking by its proRomam,
faneness. And it is surely a setQuum caput obscurâ nitidum ferrugine tled rule in poetical taste, that no texit,
strong image shall be presented to us, Impiaque æternam timuerunt sæcula noc- for the sake of mere ornament or surtem :
prise, where it cannot command the Tempore quamquam illo tellus quoque et assent of the imagination and the symæquora ponti,
pathy of the heart. Obscenique canes, importunæque volucres, Much room, however, is still left Signa dabant.”
for a natural and less exalted use of ** The sun reveals the secrets of the sky;
those sympathetic affections that may And who dares give the source of light the be supposed to subsist between ourlie?
selves and material objects, in their The change of empires often he declares, ordinary or less marvellous manifesFierce tumults, hidden treasons, open
tations. We are readily inspired with
a love for them, and would willingly He first the fate of Cæsar did foretell, believe that they feel a love for us ; And pitied Rome, when Rome in Cæsar and this, when once imagined, is easily
read in their commonest aspects and In iron clouds conceal'd the public light; operations. And impious mortals fear'd eternal night. Our love for external objects may Nor was the fact foretold by him alone :
be excited by those qualities that adNature herself stood forth, and seconded
dress the feelings of sublimity or the sun.
beauty. Mountains, rocks, and rivers, Earth, air, and seas, with prodigies were
the ocean and the orbs of heaven, sign'd, And birds obscene, and howling dogs di
fields, forests, trees, and flowers, when
beheld with any intensity of admiravined.”
tion, and more especially when viewed Here, indeed, as in other instances, in an individual rather than in a collecpoetry addresses, as fictions, to the tive character, willinvoluntarily borrow imagination, the same conceptions an air of life and an aptitude for affecwhich superstition would force upon tion from the same ideas that invest the reason as facts. In both opera- them with grandeur and loveliness. tions the same natural principle is We shall have abundant opportunity busy; nor can we suppose such a prin- of illustrating this rule, in the course ciple to have been engrafted on our of our further observations on the frame without a design that it should subject; but may here, in connexion bear noble fruit. In superstition it is with it, insert two passages, which, perverted and abused ; in poetry it is although too well known to have the directed to its proper use, and confined charm of novelty, will please the more within its just limits. Nor is there, the oftener they are studied, and which perhaps, in the constitution of man a seem here to be peculiarly appropriate, more singular provision than that by 'as giving an adequate expression to the which imagination is thus allowed to powerful affections and ideal visions wield, innocently and beneficially, the to which we have referred. If to any full moral power of so many illusions, reader there appears a vagueness and which, if adopted by the understanding obscurity in some part of these noble as literal truths, would enslave the verses, let him ask himself if, without reason and debase the soul.
much of mystery and darkness, it is
possible to think or to speak of those of sense, to prepare him for other bonds of moral connexion that unite scenes in which faith shall be lost in man with material nature, and which sight, conjecture in intuition, and seem designed, by the imaginations matter in spirit. thus arising even from the perceptions
“ And Oye fountains, meadows, hills, and groves,
Think not of any severing of our loves !
Is lovely yet ;
I have learn'd
Of all my moral being." The feelings excited by the grander velled, saying, What manner of man and more awful forms of natural is this, that even the winds and the power—the hurricane, the thunder- sea obey him :"-ÜTar8801V QUTX. Mil. storm, the earthquake, must from their ton has used a similar image in the intensity be favourable to personifica- delineation of a more dreadful storm, tion ; yet we shall have occasion to in like manner appeased—the strife of notice an important distinction obser- elemental confusion reconciled by the vable in such cases. We recognise creative voice:a simple and natural impersonation
«« Silence, ye troubled waves, and thou in that beautiful passage of the Evan
deep, peace,' gelist, where Jesus “ arose, and re- Said then the Omnific Word,' your discord buked the winds and the sea ;”
end!' επιτιμησε τους ανεμους και τη θαλασση ;- Nor stay'd; but on the wings of cherubim censured them, took them to task as Uplifted, in paternal glory rode erring and presumptuous,—"and there Far into chaos and the world unborn ; was a great calm. But the men mar- For chaos heard his voice."
Personification, subdued by a so- sublimer convulsions of nature, unless lemn tone of feeling such as we here this subordination of fiction to moral meet with, will readily be received as truth be sacredly maintained, personieqnally just and impressive. The fication will appear false and undaelements, thus quickened into life tural, and will tend to diminish rather and character, are yet preserved at an than heighten the poetical effect. Let infinite distance of subordination, as us here examine a passage in a mothe servants of an actual and all-con- dern poet, that has been generally and trolling power. And it appears justly admired : to us, that, in any description of the
“ The sky is changed !--and such a change! Oh, night,
And storm, and darkness, ye are wond'rous strong,
Back to the joyous Alps, who call to her aloud !
Thou wert not sent for slumber! let me be
There is great talent and power in at these material ministers of heaven, this spirited and striking description; and is not led upwards to think of a though, in passing, we suppose we may living power far higher than those say, that critics are now pretty well which are the creatures of its own agreed as to the incongruity of the fancy. A Godless description of a concluding image. It is too fanciful midnight thunder-storm among the for a picture of which sublimity should Alps, seems to us to be at variance, be the predominating tone ; and it is we do not say with piety, but with not very certain that there is any in- poetical truth and with human feeling. telligible sense in it. The birth of a In such a scene, and on such a night, young earthquake naturally leads us the soul cannot rest satisfied with the to wonder what an old earthquake can mere belief of the fancy that the leapbe; and whether the young of earth- ing thunder is alive, and that the quakes need to be nursed and fed till mountains are shouting in fellow-feelthey are able to do mischief, or whe- ing to each other. We know with an ther the slighter shocks are to be con- awful conviction, that, if the represidered as infant earthquakes, giving a sentation is true at all, there is somekick and a squall at the breast, (do thing at work that is less visionary than they belong to the mammalia ?) while these airy dreams; and if not taught those of a more formidable magnitude that we are in the dread presence of are to be held as big and burly adults. Divinity, we either turn from the picThese questions are not easily resol. ture in disappointment, or unavoidved; and, however answered, are not ably view it as exhibiting the revelry favourable to the poet's purpose. But of demons, rather horrible and hideit is not in reference to this part of the ous than solemn or sublime. Comdescription that we have quoted the pare the lively impersonations of Bystanzas. We wish to consider whe- ron with the description of the Pagan ther the personifications here intro- poet, in which all personification is duced, and none can be more vivid, swallowed up in one great image of are truly conducive to a high effect of the supreme deity of his mythology, sublimity, where the mental enthu. and say which of them is the more siasm that produces them stops short true to nature and to poetry.
Sæpe etiam immensum cælo venit agmen aquarum,
Per gentes humilis stravit pavor."
Suck'd by the spongy clouds from off the main;
Their pride is humbled, and their fear confess’d." We may trust, we think, to Lucretius as an evidence to the laws of the human heart on this subject.
Præterea, cui non animus formidine divům
Pænarum grave sit solvendi tempus adactum.”
And, crouch'd before the gods, a suppliant sink,
Be doom'd its day of reckoning to abide.' Turn also to Shakspeare. The un- dering delusions return by degrees to happy Lear had excitements stronger the divine and human truths, which than the manifestations of the con- no mind, possessing its faculties and tentious storm to drive him into the feelings in any harmony of adjustwildest extravagances of imagina- ment, can fail to be taught by such tion when exposed to the tyrannous fearful occasions. night; yet hear how even his wan
“ Enter LEAR and Fool.
Rumble thy bellyfull! Spit, fire ! spout, rain!
Kent. Alas, sir, are you here? things that love night,
Let the great gods,
Pr’ythee, go in thyself; seek thine own ease;
And show the heavens more just.” It requires nothing, we think, but things with which they are comparison, to see that moral power nected. is the source and standard of genuine The love of home and of country, poetry in such descriptions; and that or of other scenes of fond recollection, à predominance given to material is, from its origin, peculiarly calcuimages, where so much higher thoughts lated to confer personality on its obshould be inspired, implies either a jects. It is a congeries of simple defect of mental balance, or a corrup feelings, which are almost entirely of tion of poetical judgment.
a moral and spiritual character. The We have now noticed the operation spot of our birth, the seat of our do. and limits of personification arising mestic hopes and happiness, are dear from the contemplation of natural ob- to us, because they represent and emjects, whether lovely or magnificent. brace the thousand charities and deWe proceed to follow out the subject lights of kindred and companionship, in those cases where external objects of family affection or social sympathy. are chiefly recommended to us by our - Cari sunt parentes, cari liberi, proindividual interest in the persons or pinqui, familiares ; sed omnes omnium