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olent and complacent countenance of the one's inclination, and to give the prefergentleman who figures so prominently ence to the calm unimpassioned judgin the advertising illustrations of a cer- ment of the head over the emotional and tain firm of wine merchants, with which enthusiastic sentence of the heart. Peothe sides of railway-carriages are not un- ple have such a horror of the serpent's seldom embellished, is a very delightful tooth of ingratitude, that the best-intenbeverage ; but even if this benignant tioned critic in the world cannot well help creature of the artist's brain were to re- feeling a twinge of remorse when he sits ceive it under the name and at the cost down to pull to pieces the novel or draof Vino de Pasto, his beaming face would ma of that friend whose hospitality he probably at once be puckered into frowns. was enjoying a few hours ago. There is It would not be a sufficient excuse that a certain indefinable sanctity, according the connoisseur who induced the pur- to English notions, attendant upon the chase had a friend in the trade to whom social institution of dinner. To dine and he wished to do a good turn; he would to converse amicably with one's friend, at once be denounced as an imposter and and then to proceed, should circumstana humbug, upon whose judgment for the ces require it, to do the work that an enefuture no reliance whatever was to be pla- my might do, is popularly supposed to be ced. In the same way, as long as the just as much an act of sacrilege as to murcritic conscientiously adheres to his own der one's host, after having partaken of convictions—it being pre-supposed that his salt, would appear to Oriental ideas of he is capable of possessing these--no decorum. Or if the talented and kindlyfault can be found with him. If his natured author, who does the theatrical taste is not exquisitely refined, that critiques for the Fiddler, happens to be is rather his misfortune; he acts up acquainted with something of the prito the best of his ability, and with that. vate circumstances of that ineffable stage we onght to be content. Directly, how- stick, Pump, and to be aware of the fact ever, he begins to diverge from the plain that he has to support, upon a salary of path of duty, he is guilty of the unpar- five pounds a week, a wife and seven radonable sin. It can be no manner of ex- venous children, can be find it in his cuse that he should, through a private heart to speak as his critical conscience weakness for Jones, puff Jones's wares, would impel him to speak, knowing all laying the flattering unction to his soul the while that an unfavorable notice in that. Jones is an industrious workman, that powerful organ, the Fiddler, will at and that, after all, Jones's productions are once make the manager of the theatre in good enough in their way as times go which Pump is engaged knock one pound What we want is the critic's free unbi- off his weekly stipend, and eventually, assed opinion, and this is what we do not perhaps, send him loose on the world alget.
together. It is to be hoped that such inOpen, honest, independent criticism is, stances as these are not of every-day ocin truth, not only a very rare but neces- currence, but still they can be by no sarily a very difficult article to meet with means unheard-of; and when such pit
. If one knows a person in private life in- falls do lie in the path of the critic, "he timately, entertains towards him feelings must possess a breast girt round by triple not only of friendship but respect, and oak and brass who does not stuinble in knows too that upon the success of any his weakness. one particular venture, or of any series of If these are some of the adverse influventures, his worldly well-doing in great ences under which the cause of eriticism measure depends, it is a hard thing de- suffers, there are others of far greater and liberately to run down his handiwork. more culpable magnitude. Cases such Amicus Plato, magis amicu veritas, is an as have been above alluded to can only adage of which all acknowledge the ex- occasionally happen ; they do not at any cellence, while a few have moral resolu- rate amount to an organized system, while tion enough to carry it out into active the human weakness which they exhibit is every-day practice. It involves, perhaps, not without a certain attractive side as no small struggle against human nature well. Cliques really constitute the great to have to do violence to the dictates of curse of criticism. Litterateurs are a gre
garious race. They like to meet togeth- very fine, noble, clever fellows in their er, and to talk over the events of the own estimation they are. There is a day. The same kind of coteries exist certain monotony, perhaps, in their connow as in the days when the wit of versation, and a stranger will not unlikeShakespeare and Jonson reigned su- ly get heavily bored with the fulsome preme at the Mermaid, or when the bur- compliments mutually bestowed, with so ly lexicographer used to be voted the lavish a hand. But what of that? If it dictator and arbiter bibendi at the little pleases them it can certainly.injure no one coffee-room in Fleet Street. Such réun- outside the four walls of the tavern room ions as these, viewed in the abstract, are in which they meet together for their anything but culpable. Conversation is grog and pipes. This is perfectly true, just as sure a means of eliciting truth and and not the least harm would be done to of improving intellectual acumen now, any one or in any way if they would but as it was in the days of Socrates. The confine themselves to these humble oronly objection is that this private literary gies. The worst of the matter is that a clanship is unpleasantly perceptible in considerable number of the Yahoos are public life as well, and that these select in the habit of writing criticisms of varimeetings of literary confrères not unfre- ous kinds for the press, and that in the quently resolve themselves into societies discharge of these duties they cannot with the direct purpose of securing a make up their minds to forget their posimataal admiration for each other, a pro- tion as Yahoos, and to adopt the tone found dissatisfaction with all those other of men of gentlemanly taste and critical laborers in the broad field of letters, honor. The spirit and influence of the who do not care about making their way dingy tavern room will perpetually keep into that charmed circle which embraces cropping out. By a certain system of so many self-conceited celebrities, and dichotomny they divide mankind into two which rapidly develops itself into a posi- classes-Yahoos and not-Yahoos, each to tion of antagonism towards all who are be handled in a respectively different not of the enviable number. The Ya- manner. They admit, of course, of vahoos, for instance, compose a brother- rious gradations of censure just as they hood of this description. Amongst do of praise ; but the latter is monopothemselves the Yahoos are united by an lised by the Yahoos. The former is exoath of eternal friendship and goodwill, clusively devoted to the benefit of the by a moral obligation to sing each oth- not-Yahoog. It might be thought perer's praises at every conceivable oppor- haps that these literary small fry cannot tanity, in season and out of season. As do much harm, either by their blame or for what the feeling of their secret hearts by their panegyric ; but at the present may be, it is impossible to say. They day, with the amount of influence that may perhaps be consumed often by mu- attaches to each separate member of the taal jealousy, and heartily wish each oth- London press, it can hardly be said that er at the bottom of the Dead Sea. But, such is the case. Besides, the clique at any rate, they manage to preserve an of the Yahoos is not without its moexterior of persistent and boisterous dicum of talent, position, and celebrity: good-fellowship. It is mere matter of There have been, it is currently reported bistory how impossible it is to infer from to the eternal shame of recalcitrant memthe angelic suavity of the feminine ex- bers of the brotherhood, cases in which pression what may be precisely the state certain Yahoos have been troubled by of feeling of one lady towards her bosom conscientious qualms as to the legitimacy friend; and in the same way when the of such an indiscriminate practice of muYaboos ase the easy-going, good-natur- tual puffing, and have positively ventured salutation of old boy," " dear boy,” ed to issue a personal and practical reand other such forms of convivial affec- monstrance by presuming to speak their tion, one is quite unable to make any mind, frankly and openly, when some certain conjecture as to the genuine na- one of their number has written a book ture of their internal disposition. They or produced a play that is egregiously laugh and talk with each other, praise bad. But the esprit de corps of the cotethemselves, abuse every person else, and rie must at any expense be kept up. The
Yahoos possess unusual opportunities for ner in which he helped him on with that worming out the secrets of the internal spirited notice two months ago. And management of certain journals; the so it is through all the various sets and traitor is discovered, and visited with a factions of popular critics of the day. becoming amount of vengeance. On the It is through no wish to bring the charge other hand, supposing a Yahoo so far of intentional literary immorality against forgets himself as to be enthusiastic in these gentleman that the above remarks his praise of some clever production by bave been made. The evil is merely the member of an adverse faction, the consequent upon the phenomena of the authorship of this article is at once equal- times. It is difficult, next door to imposly readily traced back to him, and he is sible, to prevent following the multitude visited with a sharp reprimand.
to do evil. It is important, however, to • But as there are other cliques of the lay stress upon the expression popular same order as the Yahoog, more or less critics. That there are many, very many, respectable, so too there are coteries of critics whose views could never receive a distinctly opposite nature based upon such a bias as this, cannot for a moment essentially different principles, yet pro- be doubted. The comments bere adducing substantially identical effects. vanced are merely intended be appliThompson and Robinson are both of cable to a numerous section of those writhem members of that highly intellectual ters who conduct the popular criticism of and aristocratic set calling itself the Su- the day, and after all it is the popular pertines. Both write for nearly the same criticism which is likely to have most injournals, and Robinson always knows, as fluence in the long run. do the remainder of the community, what Unfortunately, it is far easier to point articles Thompson writes, and vice versa. out errors than to suggest a practicable reThompson may in the recesses of his heart medy. Before these matters can be hate and despise Robinson's new book on thoroughly mended, a different tone and Literary Priuciples, or Theories of Fic- spirit must be imported into the province, tion, or the Province of Criticism, or any both of criticism and authorship. Perother such theme. But he is kept from haps the most obvious method of improvepronouncing his real judgment upon it, ment would consist in the more rigid prethrough a horrible fear lest Robinson in servation of anonymity; as long as litterhis turn should pitch severely into his ateurs are in the habit of making known new novel, which is now on the eve of to each other the different journals to publication. Between the Superfines and which they contribute, and the particular the Yahoos it is needless to say there is articles which they write, it will never be a wide gulf fixed. It is a certain immu- quite as easy to speak the whole truth, table principle in the moral code of both and nothing but the truth, however unheartily to hate, and to attack every- palatable that truth may be, with referthing done by, and to do with, the other; ence to one's friends. Possibly it might and just as the Yahoo would shrink from be unavoidable to prevent the secret of even the most guarded commendation of the authorship of articles eking out in the Superfine, so, too, the Superfine can- the literary world, but, at any rate, the not find in his heart to say anything in experiment might be tried. There are, praise of the Yahoo.
of course, some reviews now in which These imaginary instances which have much mystery is kept up as to the sourbeen given are really no exaggerated ces from which certain articles have emarepresentation of actual facts. Cliques, nated, even amongst those who are adsets, and coteries innumerable,-such as mitted to view the “very pulse of the
“ these are the constant bane of the world machine," and to regulate with their own of popular criticism. There existence is hands the pistons and wheels. But gena perpetual check upon everything like erally, if any one particular piece of wrifree outspoken opinion. A is afraid to ting attracts an unusual amount of attensay what he thinks about B, because B tion, it is pretty well known, by all those would recognize the authorship of the whom it can effect to know, whose piece article, and be, A, is in a certain way of writing that is. Cliques and coteries bound to do B a good turn for the man- are quite inseparable from literature ; but
there does not seem any sufficient reason ment of the Spirit of poetry which exists for refusing to believe that the weakening in metrical language; we may be using influence which cliques have upon criti- the words Poet and Poetry in a direct cism, may not, by some precautions, at sense, or an indirect, or partly in the one some time or other, be made considera- and partly the other. Hence, some inbly less than is at present unfortunately distinctness and confusion of thought; the case. The misfortune has now at greatest, when we come to compare one tained the dimensions of a nuisance, and form of words with another form of it would be really well if popular critics words, and to call Prose“ poetical," or would bethink them a little more of the even to call Prose “Poetry,” as is done parts which in public estimation they fill, every day. Wbat more common than and the duties which they are supposed to praise some rich and sonorous bit of to discharge.
prose writing, or some flight of oratory, as “highly poetical ?” and now and again we go farther and declare it to be “true poetry.”
Let us examine this a little. Richly Fraser's Magazine.
colored and melodious sentences there ON POETRY.
are in the writings of several of our high
prose-writers. Many parts of our English The spirit of poetry in man is that Bible have a powerful poetic impressiveforce which everywhere and through var- If you call these “poetry," do I ious means is urging him to the produc- dissent ? No. Substantially we agree. tion of something beautiful-to the pro- The question that remains is one of duction of beauty. Through Metrical words, or definition of words. Speech it finds one channel to express it- Here is a passage you say, which emself
. Through this, it expresses itself on bodies the spirit of poetry in a powerthe whole more completely than in any fully impressive form. As to this, we
And, therefore, Metrical are of one mind. Also it has a very disSpeech, in its best examples, is called cernible rhythm and modulation of "Poetry;" this manifestation of the Poe- sound—a greater degree of this than ortic Spirit is called “Poetry”-par excele dinary prose. Thus it has not only the lence.
high spiritual qualities of Metrical PoeBut the word “Poetry” is used some- try, but a noticable degree also of the times in this sense, sometimes in the wi- peculiar quality of metre. This does der and more general sense; and thus not amount to a regular metre, or the is produced, perbaps, some baziness in composition would be Metrical Poetry. our minds. The words Poetry, Poet, It approaches, but is not, Metrical PoePoetical, are often applied in a loose, in- try; it is something else. Might we not definite manner. A beautiful place or
A beautiful place or call it Rhythmic Prose? Then “Rhythprospect is called poetical; a starry mic Prose” (you remark) may be, and is night perhaps; a romantic incident; a as high, perhaps a higher thing than regnoble action; a fair face or form. A pic- ular Poetry. Not so either. ture, a piece of music, is said to be poet- In certain grand and rare examples of ical, or®“ full of poetry.” Dancing has Rhythmic Prose, the matter, the subbeen called the “ Poetry of Motion;" stance, is transcendently impressive, and Sculpture, “silent Poetry;” Beethoven is the total effect upon the mind more powsometimes styled a “one-poet;” Turner, erfully poetic than the effect of any lowa " poet in colors.”
er matter in a regular metrical form. In these cases, perhaps we mean, Still, as a general rule, and other quali" Here is a manifestation of the Spirit of ties being equal, and the matter expressPoetry;" or, perhaps, "Here is something ed being suitable for rhythmic treatment, that impresses us like Metrical Poetry— a composition in regular metrical form is pats us into a similar mood.” We may, more impressive than one which is not consciously or unconsciously, refer either in regular metrical form. Nay, must not to the ideal source of all kinds of Poetry, the Psalms be finer still in there original or else to the flower and finest embodi- form than in any translation ? and that
original form is metrical, and after the speech ; and in the best rhythmical prose Hebrew manner. Isaiah and Ezekiel, this rises into a near approximation too, and the author of "Job,” recognized to the effect of metre. There are Metrical Poetry as a thing different from many gradations of rhythm from Prose, and rose into it when they felt the merest Prose--say of an Act of need of their highest means of expres- Parliament, rising through that of a sion.
statement in the Nisi Prius Court, of a “Poetry" - Poiesis- Making-in the familiar letter, of a conversational narrawidest sense (as applied to man) I take to tive, of a newspaper leading-article, of mean the mental Creative Energy, and an eloquent novel, of an impassioned its products—the whole group of the in- oration, up to the rich, emphatic and alventing, systematizing, and ordering most lyrical modulation of our intensest faculties ; that energy which is the earth- prose-writers. ly well-head (but drawn from a higher in- So, in the Pictorial Art, you may pass visible source) of morals, laws, arts, so- from a design in simple outline, to one in ciety.
outline shaded to a woodcut, an etching, Long usage has applied the word more an engraving, a tinted sketch, a sketch distinctively to the Fine Arts—those arts in colors; and upwards, by gradations, which spring from, and appeal to, our till you arrive at the finished water-color sense of Beauty; and, in its strictest ap- or oil picture. plication, we confine the word Poetry Now an etching, or even a design in to one particular Fine Art—that which outline, may exhibit the highest qualiexpresses beauty through metrical speech. ties of the Pictorial Art in larger meaWhen any one speaks simply and with- sure than many a painting. You might out qualification of Poetry, he is under- properly prefer one of Rembrandt's etchstood to mean Metrical Poetry, and noth- ings, or one of Dürer's woodcuts, to ing else. And it is in this sense that I a large and careful picture by Benjamin desire to use the word.
West, although President of the Royal Now, Poetry is a different thing from Academy, and admired by George Prose. Prose is sometimes very like the Third. Yet, in the finished picture Poetry; but speaking broadly, Prose and only, the Pictorial Power uses all. its Poetry are two distinct things, and means. And it is in organized metrical ought, I submit, to have two distinct poetry that human speech attains its names. You might ask me to call the most perfect and impressive form. latter Verse ; but I don't see that we need But let us rather consider Prose in its give up the old and honored name, by usual and average condition, when it is which metrical Poetry is marked as par most in its own character, and less emuexcellence.
lous of those qualities which are the esPoetry includes every highest quality pecial property of Poetry. Taking the of Prose, and includes them in a definite- simple and usual point of view, Prose is ly metrical and musical form, peculiar to obviously one thing, and Poetry another. itself: but observe, this form is not a It is the very nature of Prose to be mere grace and decoration; it is found non-metrical ; and it is artificially put toby experience to give to words their gether with that very intention. Prose greatest attainable force and beauty, and is a later, less natural, more conventionas a rule to convey the highest thoughts alised and artificial form of composition incomparably better than Prose. Poe- than Poetry. The metri al qualities of try is metrical, Prose is non-metrical; they language are by effort and practice subare thus at first definable by their forms; dued, reduced to a minimum, kept ont but the distinction is found to permeate of observation. Prose is the expression their substance and spirit.
of the scientific and analytical intellect, No doubt (though each has its proper striving to take things separately, to exrealm, its own authority and laws) there amine them narrowly, little by little, conis a kind of borderland where they some- tinually guarding and limiting itself in times mix. Prose is never without some
Prose is careful, cautious, share of rhythm and modulation, because judicial ; its business-like eyes fixed прon these are inherent qualities in human some attainable object, towards which it