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could carry on the melody of verse without its aid. But it does not follow, that therefore it must be barbarous in the English language, which is destitute of these advantages. Every language has powers and graces, and music peculiar to itself; and what is becoming in one, would be ridiculous in another. Rhyme was barbarous in Latin; and an attempt to construct English verses after the form of hexameters, and pentameters, and sapphics, is as barbarous among us. It is not true that rhyme is merely a monkish invention. On the contrary, it has obtained under different forms in the versification of most known nations. It is found in the ancient poetry of the northern nations of Europe: it is said to be found among the Arabs, the Persians, the Indians, and the Americans. This shews that there is something in the return of similar sounds, which is grateful to the ears of most part of mankind. And if any one, after reading Mr Pope's Rape of the Lock, or Eloisa to Abelard, shall not admit our rhyme, with all its varieties of pauses, to carry both elegance and sweetness of sound, his ear must be pronounced to be of a very peculiar kind.
The present form of our English heroic rhyme in couplets, is a modern species of versification. The measure generally used in the days of Queen Elizabeth, King James, and King Charles I. was the stanza of eight lines, such as Spenser employs, borrowed from the Italian; a measure very con
strained and artificial. Waller was the first who brought couplets into vogue; and Dryden afterwards established the usage. Waller first smoothed our verse; Dryden perfected it. versification has a peculiar character. It is flowing and smooth in the highest degree; far more laboured and correct than that of any who went before him. He introduced one considerable change into heroic verse, by totally throwing aside the triplets, or three lines rhyming together, in which Mr Dryden abounded. Dryden's versification, however, has very great merit; and, like all his productions, has much spirit mixed with carelessness. If not so smooth and correct as Pope's, it is however more varied and easy. He subjects himself less to the rule of closing the sense with the couplet; and frequently takes the liberty of making his couplets run into one another, with somewhat of the freedom of blank
PASTORAL POETRY-LYRIC POETRY.
In the last Lecture, I gave an account of the rise and progress of poetry, and made some observations on the nature of English versification. I now proceed to treat of the chief kinds of tical composition; and of the critical rules that relate to them. I shall follow that order which is most simple and natural, beginning with the lesser forms of poetry, and ascending from them to the epic and dramatic, as the most dignified. This Lecture shall be employed on pastoral and lyric poetry.
Though I begin with the consideration of pastoral poetry, it is not because I consider it as one of the earliest forms of poetical composition. On the contrary, I am of opinion that it was not cultivated as a distinct species or subject of writing, until society had advanced in refinement. Most authors have indeed indulged the fancy, that because the life which mankind at first led was rural,
therefore their first poetry was pastoral, or employed in the celebration of rural scenes and objects. I make no doubt, that it would borrow many of its images and allusions from those natural objects with which men were best acquainted; but I am persuaded, that the calm and tranquil scenes of rural felicity were not, by any means, the first objects which inspired that strain of composition which we now call poetry. It was inspired, in the first periods of every nation, by events and objects which roused men's passions; or, at least, awakened their wonder and admiration. The actions of their gods and heroes, their own exploits in war, the successes or misfortunes of their countrymen and friends, furnished the first themes to the bards of every country. What was of a pastoral kind in their compositions, was incidental only. They did not think of choosing for their theme, the tranquillity and the pleasures of the country, as long as these were daily and familiar objects to them. It was not till men had begun to be assembled in great cities, after the distinctions of rank and station were formed, and the bustle of courts and large societies was known, that pastoral poetry assumed its present form. Men then began to look back upon the more simple and innocent life which their forefathers led, or which, at least, they fancied them to have led: they looked back upon it with pleasure; and in those rural scenes, and pastoral occupations, imagining a degree of felicity to take place, su
perior to what they now enjoyed, conceived the idea of celebrating it in poetry. It was in the court of King Ptolemy, that Theocritus wrote the first pastorals with which we are acquainted; and in the court of Augustus, he was imitated by Virgil.
But whatever may have been the origin of pastoral poetry, it is, undoubtedly, a natural, and very agreeable form of poetical composition. It recalls to our imagination, those gay scenes, and pleasing views of nature, which commonly are the delight of our childhood and youth; and to which, in more advanced years, the greatest part of men recur with pleasure. It exhibits to us a life, with which we are accustomed to associate the ideas of peace, of leisure, and of innocence; and therefore, we readily set open our heart to such representations as promise to banish from our thoughts the cares of the world, and to transport us into calm Elysian regions. At the same time, no subject seems to be more favourable to poetry. Amidst rural objects, nature presents, on all hands, the finest field for description; and nothing appears to flow more, of its own accord, into poetical numbers, than rivers and mountains, meadows and hills, flocks and trees, and shepherds void of care. Hence, this species of poetry has, at all times, allured many readers, and excited many writers. But notwithstanding the advantages it possesses, it will appear, from what I have farther