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adds something to the sense, by its sublimity or novelty.
9th. After all, the distinguishing character of poetry, as far as regards the style, lies more in the rejection than in the adoption of particular phrases or forms of speech. Whatever is technical, common, or colloquial, is inconsistent with the "os magna soniturum." I must except the ludicrous, where the phraseology can scarcely be too common or vulgar, if happily introduced, as the readers of Hudibras and Peter Pindar must continually experience. But where dignity is expected, a phrase, though not low, or vulgar in itself, yet being common in prose writing or conversation, will commonly degrade. Two instances from a good writer will serve to convince you
"A tribe who singular religion love,
"And haunt the lonely coverts of the grove."
"It look'd as fortune did in odds delight,
"And had in cruel sport ordain'd the fight."
I must add another example where the word is not exceptionable in itself, for it is a word
that must be used; but it is here introduced in
a common colloquial way—
"He copies from his master Sylla well,
Mark with what different effect the same little, and really mean word, is introduced by the taste of Pope, even at the end of a line→→→
"If such there be, who lov'd so long, so well, “Let him our sad, our tender story tell. "The well-sung woes will sooth my pensive ghost; "He best can paint them who shall feel them most.” ELOISA.
I cannot conclude this branch of my subject better than with a quotation from Dr. Johnson's Life of Dryden, which says almost every thing that can be said upon it.
"There was, before the time of Dryden, no poetical diction, no system of words at once refined from the grossness of domestic use, and free from the harshness of terms appropriated to particular arts. Words too familiar or too remote, defeat the purpose of a poet. From those sounds which we hear on small or coarse eccasions, we do not easily receivé strong im
pressions or delightful images; and words to which we are nearly strangers, whenever they occur, draw that attention to themselves which they should convey to things.
"These happy combinations of words, which distinguish poetry from prose, had been rarely attempted; we had few elegancies or flowers of speech; the roses had not yet been plucked from the bramble, or different colours joined to enliven one another."-JOHNSON'S DRYDEN.
I do not conceive that much advantage can arise from an endeavour to class or to describe the different styles appropriate to each peculiar kind of poetry. Almost every subject, and every good author, will have a peculiar style; and no man of any taste would compose a pas toral in the style of Paradise Lost, or an heroic poem in that of Horace's epistles, or Swift's verses to Stella. Critics, however, have agreed to distinguish the gradations of poetical language into the sublime, the middle, and the plain or simple styles. Milton and Gray may be cited as examples of the first. Mr. Pope's Rape of the Lock, and his satires, for the Eloisa is of a sublimer character, may be referred to the second. The plain or simple style is almost
wholly confined to songs and pastorals; but we have in English, though the Greeks and Romans had not, a low and familiar style, which is applicable to subjects of humour and burlesque, where cant phrases, proverbs and expressions peculiar to certain trades are introduced; such is the poem of Hudibras, many of Swift's satirical pieces, the burletta of Midas, and many similar dramatic productions.
The Epigram and Epitaph.-The Sonnet.
MY DEAR JOHN,
In treating of the different forms of poetical productions, I might have adopted a general division, similar to that in which I arranged compositions in prose. They might in general be classed under the didactic, and the narrative and descriptive; and I might shew that each of these requires a distinct style, as well as a different arrangement from the other. But as the different kinds of poetry have been, almost from the first cultivation of the art, distinguished by peculiar names, I shall be more generally understood if I adopt no new arrangement, and describe them under those characters by which they have been known for ages.
The antient critics enumerated seven distinct classes or kinds of poetry: the epigram, the