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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 have 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 here adducing substantially identical effects. vanced are merely intended to 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 perfines. 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 bate and despise Robinson's new book on thoroughly mended, a different tone and Literary Principles, 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 iven 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 he, 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. What more common than and the duties wbich 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." Fraser's Magazine.
Let us examine this a little. Richly
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- ness. 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, of 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, perhaps, some haziness 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 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 “tone-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 wbich 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 parrawidest 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 bigher 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 higbest 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
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; ducd, reduced to a minimum, kept out 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 its progress. Prose is careful, cautious, share of rhythm and modulation, because judicial ; its business-like eyes fixed upon these are inherent qualities in humau some attainable object, towards which it
moves step by step, whether slowly or the Man of Business, break up the whole swiftly, lifting right foot after left in due into little bits for analysis, for calculation, succession. Vehement, high-colored and for sale ; the Poet reconstructs the slatnotably rhythmic Prose, even when suc- tered world, and shows it still complete cessful, is felt to be on the confines, if not and beautiful. over the boundery, of its proper domin- Poetry proper (the Poetry of which I . ion ; it is only allowable in exceptional speak) is metrical, by the nature of it. cases; if much used, it becomes disa- Metre is sine quâ non ; and though you greeable. In good Prose, as a rule me- may compare this given specimen of trical forms are avoided. Metrical forms Prose with that given specimen of Poeare felt to belong to a mood different from tre and prefer the former, and even that to which Prose, as Prose, addresses rightly prefer it, and prove that it positself; they belong to the poetic mood, in sesses a larger share or poetic qualities short
, wherein imagination rather than than the latter, yet the one remains a intellect is paramount; a mood of de- different quality of thing from the other. light, not of investigation, when the soul And however high the degree of poetic is lifted from the ground and moves on expression that has, in exceptional instanpulsing wings in a new and freer ele- ces (fewer, perhaps, than we vaguely ment.
fancy), been attained in Prose, Metrical Prose Composition, then (we say) is a Poetry remains the best medium of poeform of language growing out of scienti- tic expression. The works of the Poets fic limitations and the spirit of analysis, of the bigh men who wrote in metre, and is only perfectly attained through the are, as matter of fact, the real treasury of culture of ages. In early times, every- poetic language. The Sense of Beauty, thing was chanted. The chief works in seeking expression in words, finds in MeSanskrit 'upon grammar, law, history, trical Poetry its most fitting embodimedicine, mathematics, geograply, met- ment. aphysics, are in verse; verse being more Metre, I repeat (for there is much natural, and more memorable. Science misconception as to this), is the natural in those days was far from being so form of Poetry, and it brings about cerstrict, scholastic, pedantic, as in ours tain important results, for thereby is (but there are changes gathering in the Poetry constituted as one of the arts—an atmosphere of Science), for imagination Art wbich is perhaps the earliest, as it is
came largely into all processes of the most famous of them all: · thought; the feeling of the unity of the Art comes to man before Science; al
world, and of the general mystery of so, it comes after Science, and includes things, showed itself in every department it. of study; the universal was felt in the “But what is your boasted Art, after particular. Mean associations of ideas all, but a toy~a knack of rhymes and and words (always caused by separa- metres ? " tion from the universal) were fewer than Yes!--and what in fact, too, are bits they now are. With the progress of cul- of cobalt and vermillion, when you come ture came necessarily division of studies, to consider them dispassionately? What definitions, exclusions, application to
application to is Raffael's brush? a tag of bristles (you particulars, and the growth of Prose as a may count them, if you like)-what is distinct vehicle of thought.
Mozart's harpsichord? a frame of chips Poetry, by this (you may say), would and wire. And what are you yourself, appear to belong to a barbarous condi- my friend ?—what am I ?-but å bundle tion of humanity. Say, rather, to a of rods, and strings, and pipes ? Only, simple and primeval condition. After somehow, there is a something slipt in, science and analysis have done their best, which we call Life-nay, Soul, and there is still need for us nineteenth-cen- which makes a difference. We don't tory people to make a synthesis, and a know wbat it is: we see it in its effects. larger synthesis than ever : to rise from Poetry has a good deal of life in it. anatomic studies to the contemplation What is old Homer himself, this very and enjoyment of Life-from particulars long time, but a name, a dream, a questo the universal. The Man of Science, tion? But the Homeric Poeuis are alive
at this day over the face of the earth, brick wall ; good Prose rising and rising, springing up fresh and fresh like grass, till it meets, competes, almost blends new to every new generation. They with Poetry. But it seems better to rehave outlived dynasties, and nations, and frain for the present than to deal with creeds. Two hundred and fifty years these matters too cursorily: and I leave ago, William Shakespeare's body (eyes untouched the question as to Landscapeand bands, tongue and brain) was hidden Gardening's place among the arts. in the ground beside a little river in War- Metre is the bodily form of Poetry: wickshire; but his Book is not buried and now on metre let us say a few words. in this world yet,-it is running about, Metre, a stimulant and a delight, acts lively enough. He put himself, partly, through the ear. A man deaf from his into words-into words of poetry. birth, could not taste the true enjoyment
Why do we love and reverence Art of Poetry : though he might have some Because it gives a natural scope, and pleasure, through the eye, from those lasting expression, to Genius.
verses arranged in the visible forms of Why is “ Painting” a grand word? eggs, altars, turbots, lozenges, which you Because the Art of Painting has embo- see in old-fashioned books. died for us the genius of such men as Metrical movement in words,-swing, Van Eyck and John Bellini, Raffael and emphasis and cadence, melodious and Titian, Holbein and Hogarth and Turner. varied tones, rhythm and rhyme, have
What is glorious in music? That it (as matter of fact) certain peculiar effects keeps for us, safer than wine in its flask, upon us. Some people are more moved the fine inspirations that come (we know than others, more vibrant, but all (unless not how, they knew not how) to a Bach, notably defective) are thus moved in a Glück, a Handel, a Mozart, a Purcell, some degree. a Beethoven, a Rossini ; and to those We do not examine or estimate the nameless men who made the delicious Art of Painting or the Art of Music, acold melodies of Ireland, and Scotland and cording to the impressions of those who Wales.
have the least natural sensibility to those And even so, by the Art of Poetry arts ; nor need we stop to consider debas embodied itself the power and beau- grees of sensibility to Poetry, or to arty and wisdom and versatility of the gue with those who care littile or nothing minds of the Greek, Latin, Oriental, Ital- for Poetry, or complain of them, or lian, Spanish, German English, Poets,- lament over them.
lament over them. Innumerable people a poble crowd. The work of these men know froin experience, that metrical cannot be held as toyish and trifling. movement tends to draw the mind into, Their place in human history is honora- and keep it in a particular mood—a mood ble. The Art through which they reach peculiarly favorable to certain impresus, through which they belong to us, sions. Partly the mind is drawn, partly certainly is wonderful, and to be rev- it yields. Its own feeling coincides with erenced.
the known intention of the writer, or I had intended to submit in this place speaker. It receives, and it prepares itsome thoughts on Painting, Sculpture and self for delight. It desires and expects Musical Composition, distinguishing these warmth of feeling, beauty of imagery, along with Poetry, as Creative Arts,-of subtlety and rapidity of thought, refined, course using the word “creative” in no rich, and expressive forms of words, in absolute sense; and also on Acting, on the best possible order. Musical Performance, and on Oratory, And all these are given to it by good describing these as Arts of Personal Com- Poetry. In its melodivus movement munication ; as well as on the semi-fine- it raises a succession of pleasurable exart (is there no good phrase for them ?) pectations, and in due succession fulfils which ally beauty with usefulness. Ar- them ; shows at once a constant obedience chitecture I reckon one of these : also to law, and a joyful boldness and mastery; Prose-Writing, which is perhaps to Poe- with free yet symmetrical swing and catry what Architecture is to Sculpture and dence, with regulated exuberance (like Painting; mere Prose being mere build- that of nature in all her best forms) a ing, like Baker Street, or Pimlico, or a beautiful proportionality develops itself as