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adopted by the genius of our tongue, the art. When strong sense and and incorporate easily with our native reasoning were to be judged of, these idiom.” But a little reflection will be was able to appreciate justly. show us the vanity of this attempt. When the passions or characters were Since the age of Chaucer, at least, described, he could to a certain ex. that is for more than 400 years, our tent decide whether they were dea' language has been increased by con- scribed truly or no. But as far as tinual transfusions from the French. poetry has relation to the kindred To these have been added, from time arts of music and painting, to both to time, similar accessions from other of which he was confessedly insensi, languages, both ancient and modern. ble, it could not be expected that he Thus a copiousness and a flexibility, should have much perception of its which in the instance of the Greek excellences. Of statuary, he said that seem to have arisen out of that sub- its value was owing to its difficulty; tilty of intellect which gave birth to and that a fellow will hack half a endless subdivision and distinction, year at a block of marble to make have been in some measure com- something in stone that nearly repensated in our own by the influxes sembles a man. What shall be which it has received from the lan- thought of his assertion, that before guages of many other people ; and the time of Dryden there was no have been yet further improved poetical diction, no system of words by that liberty which it is to be at once refined from the grossness of hoped we shall always retain, each domestic use, and free from the man, of speaking his thoughts after harshness of terms appropriated to his own guise, without too much re- particular arts, and “ that words too gard to any set mode or fashion. familiar,or too remote, defeat the pur

He had before said, in this same pose of a poet?” It might with more preface, that “our knowledge of the show of reason be affirmed, that in northern literature is so scanty, that proportion as our writers have adopt of words undoubtedly Teutonic the ed such a system as he speaks of, and original is not always to be found in have rejected words for no other any ancient language ; and I have cause than that they were too fami. therefore,” he adds, inserted Dutch liar or too remote, we have been reor German substitutes, which I consi- ceding from the proper language of der not as radical, but parallel ; not as poetry.

One of the chief ornaments, the parents, but sisters of the Eng- or, more properly speaking, the conJish.' And in his history of the stituents of poetical language, is the English language, speaking of our use of metaphors; and metaphors Saxon ancestors, to whom we must, I never find their way to the mind suppose, go for that Teutonic origi- more readily, or affect it more powernal which he so strongly recommends, fully, than when they are clothed in he observes that, “ their speech have familiar words. Even a naked sentiing been always cursory and extem- ment will lose none of its force from poraneous, must have been artless being conveyed in the most homely and unconnected, without any modes terms which our mother tongue can of transition or involution of clauses, afford. They are the sounds which which abruptness and inconnection we have been used to from our inmay be found even in their later writ- fancy, which have been early con ings.". Of the additions which have nected with our hopes and fears, and since been made to this our original still continue to meet us in our own poverty, who shall say what ought to homes and by our firesides, that will be rejected, and what retained? who most certainly awaken those feelings shall say what deficiencies are real, with which the poet is chiefly conand what imaginary? what the ge- cerned. As for the terms which nius of our tongue may admit of, Johnson calls remote, if I understand and what it must refuse? and in a him rightly, they too may be employword, what that native idiom is, a ed occasionally, either when the atcoalition with which is to be thus tention is to be roused by something studiously consulted ?

unusual, or for the sake of harmony; Throughout his Lives of the Poets, or it may be for no other reason than he constantly betrays a want of re- because the poet chooses thus to dilish for the more abstracted graces of versify his diction, so as to give a


stronger relief to that which is fami- who thinks himself to be attacking liar and common by the juxtaposition the inveterate foe of his master; for of its contrary. Of this there can be Milton's hostility to a kingly governno doubt, that, whoever lays down ment was the crime which he could such arbitrary rules as Johnson has not

forgive. here prescribed, will find himself The mention of Milton, and of his mocked at every tum by the power politics, brings to my mind two say, of genius, which meets with nothing ings of Johnson's that were related to in art or nature that it cannot con- me by Mr. Price, of Lichfield. After vert to its own use, and which de- passing, an evening together at Mr. lights to produce the greatest effects Seward's, the father of the poetess, by means apparently the most in- where, in the course of conversation, adequate.

the words « Me miserable !” in PaHe particularly valued himself on radise Lost, had been commended as the Life of Cowley, for the sake of highly pathetic; they had walked those observations which he had some way along the street in silence, introduced into it on the metaphysi- which the good man was not likely cal poets. Here he has mistaken first to break, when Johnson suddenthe character of Marino, whom he ly stopped, and turning round to him, supposes to be at the head of them. exclaimed, “Sir! don't you think Marino abounds in puerile conceits; that Me miserable’ is miserable but they are not far-fetch like those stuff?” On another occasion he thus of Donne and Cowley; they gene- whimsically described the different rally lie on the surface, and often con- manner in which he felt himself dis. sist of nothing more than a mere posed towards a Whig and a Tory. play upon words ; so that, if to * If," said he, “I saw a Whig and a be a punster is to be a metaphysi. Tory drowning, I would first save cian, Mariño is a poetical Heraclitus. the Tory; and when I saw that he But Johnson had caught the cant of was safe, not till then, I would age

in which it was usual to de- go and help the Whig; but the dog signate almost any thing absurd or should duck first; the dog should extravagant by the name of metaphy- duck:” laughing with pleasure at sical.

the thoughts of the Whig's duckIt is difficult to suppose that he ing. had read some of the works on which The principal charm of the Lives he passes a summary sentence. The of the Poets is in the store of inforcomedy of Love's Riddle, which he mation which they contain. He had says, « adds little to the wonders of been, as he says somewhere of his Cowley's minority,” deserved to be own father, “no careless observer commended at least for the style, of the passages of the times.” In the which is a specimen of pure

and un

course of a long life, he had heard, affected English.

English. Of Congreve's and read, and seen much; and this novel, he tells us, that he had rather he communicates with such force and praise it than read it. Judging from vivacity, and illustrates by observathe letters of Congreve, his only tions so pertinent and striking, that writings in prose which it has been we recur again and again to his my good fortune to meet with, and pages as we would to so many pora which, as I remember, contain some traits traced by the hand of a great admirable remarks on the distinction master, in spite of our belief that the between wit and humour, I should originals were often misrepresented, conclude that one part of his charac- that some were flattered, and the deter as a writer has yet to make its fects of others still more overcharged. way to the public notice. I have In his very errors as a critic there is heard it observed by a lady, that often shown more ability than in the Johnson, in his Life of Milton, is like right judgments of most other. a dog incensed and terrified at the When he is most wrong, he gives us presence of some superior creature, at some good reason for his being so. whom he snarls, then runs away, and He is often mistaken, but never trithen returns to snarl again. If the vial and insipid. It is more safe to comparison be a just one, it may be trust to him when he commends than added, in extenuation of Johnson's when he dispraises; when he enmalignity, that he is at least a dog larges the boundaries of criticism which his predecessors had contract- into the mouth of a minute critic, ed, than when he sets up new fences only to ridicule them, though they of his own. The higher station we are indeed founded in truth. John can take, the more those petty limits son was not one of those whom Plato will disappear, which confine excel- calls the pelyjxool kai piloDedpoves, lence to particular forms and system's. “who gladly acknowledge the beauThe critic who condemns that which tiful wherever it is met with, in the generality of mankind, or even sounds, and colours, and figures, and the few of those more refined in their all that is by art compounded from taste, have long agreed in admiring, these ;” much less had he ascended may naturally conclude the fault to « to that abstract notion of beauty." be in himself; that there is in his which the same philosopher considers mind or his organs some want of it so much more difficult to attain.* capacity for the reception of a cer- In his tragedy, the dramatis pertain species of pleasure. When John- sonæ are like so many statues "stept son rejected pastoral comedy, as be- from their pedestal to take the air." ing representative of scenes adapted They come on the stage only to chiefly to please barbarians and utter pompous sentiments of morachildren,” he might have suspected lity, turgid declamation, and frigid that his own eye-sight, rather than similes. Yet there is, throughout, pastoral comedy, was to blame that strength of language, that heavy When he characterized blank verse, mace of words, with which, as with “as verse only to the eye,” he might the flail of Talus, Johnson lays every reasonably have questioned the pow. thing prostrate before him. This ers of his own hearing. But this, style is better suited to his imitations and more than this, we may forgive of the two satires of Juvenal. Of the him, for his successful vindication of first of these, “ the London,” Gray, Shakspeare from the faults objected to in a letter to Horace Walpole, says him by the French critics.

that “to him it is one of those few It is in his biographical works that imitations, that has all the ease and Johnson is most pleasing and most all the spirit of an original.” The instructive. His querulousness takes other is not at all inferior to it. away much both from the agreeable- Johnson was not insensible to such ness and the use of his moral writings. praise; and, could he have known Addison has represented our nature how favourably Gray had spoken of in its most attractive forms; but him, would, I doubt not, have been Swift makes us turn with loathing more just to that poet, whom, bę from its deformities, and Johnson sides the petulant criticism on him causes us to shudder at its misery. in his Life, he presumed in conver

Like most of the writers of that sation to call “ a heavy fellow." time, he made use of his poetry only In his shorter poems, it appears as as the means of introducing himself if nature could now and then thrust to the public. We cannot regret, as herself even into the bosom of Johnin the case of Goldsmith, that he son himself, from whom we could put it to no further service. He scarcely have looked for such images took little delight in those appear- as are to be found in the following ances either of nature or art, for stanzas. which the poet ought to have the eye By gloomy twilight half reveal'd, of a painter. Nor had he much more

With sighs we view the hoary hill, sense of the elegant in numbers and The leafless wood, the naked field, in sound. There were indeed cer- The snow-stopp'd cot, the frozen rill tain rounds of metrical arrangement No music warbles through the grove, which he loved to repeat, but he No vivid colours paint the plain ; could not go beyond them. How No more with devious steps I rove very limited his perceptions of this Through verdant paths, now sought in kind were, we may be convinced by vain. reading his strictures on Dionysius Aloud the driving tempest roars ; the Halicarnassian in the Rambler,

Congeal'd impetuous showers descend; and the opinions on Milton's versifi- Haste, close the window, bar the doors, cation, which in the Idler he has put Fate leaves me Stella and a friend.

• Plato de Republicâ, l. v. 476.

Sappho herself might have owned impress foreigners with a favourable a touch of passionate tendemess, that opinion of the taste which our counhe has introduced into another of trymen have formed for the most perthese little pieces:

fect productions of the Roman muse, The Queen of night

we should send them, not to the pages Round us pours a lambent light,

of Johnson, but rather to those of Light that seems but just to show Milton, Gray, Warton, and some of Breasts that beat, and cheeks that glow. yet more recent date. His Latin poetry is not without a

It was the chance of Johnson to certain barbaric splendour; but it fall upon an age that rated his great

abilities at their full value. His ladiscovers, as might be expected, no skill in the more refined graces of the boriousness had the appearance of Augustan age. The verse he quoted something stupendous, when there to Thomas Warton as his favourite,

were many literary but few very

learned men. from the translation of Pope's Mes

His vigour of intellect siah,

imposed upon the multitude an opi

nion of his wisdom, from the solemn Vallis aromaticas fundit Saronica nubes,

air and oracular tone in which he evinces that he could be pleased uniformly addressed them. He would without elegance in a mode of compo- have been of less consequence in the sition, of which elegance is the chief days of Elizabeth or of Cromwell, recommendation. If we wished to


The author of this work is certain- tidious taste and pride of conscious ly an extraordinary man. We un- talent are conceived to stand in the derstand that when he came to Lon- way of their attendance on public don, about the autumn of last year, worship: Whence is it, we naturalhe was so completely unknown to ly ask, that Mr. Irving has obtained fame, and so little was expected from his influence over multitudes, in gehim, that the Caledonian church, 'neral so much beyond the sphere of where he preaches, mustered for the popular preacher? and what some time not more than fifty per- will be the effect of his preaching, sons; and now, to judge from the on the intellectual and the fashionnumbers who flock to hear him, his able world? congregation would fill St. Paul's. * His manner, his figure, his style of Nor is this the only remarkable cir- preaching, are all so uncommon, that cumstance attending his career,—his these, doubtless, must come in for a popularity is among the highest share of the honour attending on his class: the aristocracy are his mob. unexampled success.

The novelty The most distinguished members of too of the doctrines which he deliParliament, cabinet ministers, peers, vers adds not a little to the attracpeeresses, and princes of the blood, tion, for that they are new to many crowd to his little church with as much of his congregation we have no doubt. eageniess, as if they thought him in Whether they will take fast hold of possession of the “Deflagrator” for the hearts of the neophytes, as freshmaking diamonds ; or, shall we be ly imbibed knowledge generally does, more charitable, and suppose that we confess we have our doubts; but they come to him for the pearl of it is something to have gained so fair great price? We have noticed also an opportunity of making an impresamongst his auditors another class, sion. whose appearance there equally sur- It has been gravely lamented by prised us, we mean the professed li- some peculiar people zealous of good terati of this age,-men, whose fas- deeds, that, among all the societies so

For the Oracles of God, four Orations. For Judgment to come, an Argument in nine Parts. By the Rev. Edward Irving, MA. Minister of the Caledonian Church, Hatton Garden. London, 1823.

excellently designed to benefit the if possible introduce them without age by the diffusion of religious in- suspicion of their beneficial tenstruction, no one has yet been esta- dency. But all would not do, and the blished to convey to the rich, and great world were beginning to see the highly cultivated, the knowledge through the trick, and to relapse into of the truths of the gospel. “We have indifference, when suddenly Mr. Irthe warrant of Scripture," it was said, ving came like a missionary into these “ for the lost condition they are in, dark regions, and astonished all ears and for the difficulty they will have with the nature of his communicato enter the kingdom of heaven; and tions. yet no steps are taken for their rescue. Mr. Irving evidently takes this We see with our own eyes their me- view of his own character and situalancholy situation, too plainly evi- tion. He considers himself, in some denced by Sunday parties, and other degree, like John the Baptist, sent external signs of Sabbath breaking; to call the great people of a great . but there is no man to be found so city to repentance. Many of his disbold as to arrest their attention, and courses, when delivered from the attempt to bring them under Chris- pulpit, so much favour this idea as tian discipline. The inferior orders to make the thought enter irresistibly saw and lamented this, and shook into the mind of his audience. His their heads. Some proposed apply- lofty look and stern voice encourage ing to Mrs. Hannah More, for a series such an impression: severity appears of moral and religious tracts adapted to suit his character, and his strong to the refined capacity of the great language loses nothing of its force by * others recommended the printing of his deep and passionate earnestness. the Homilies, with beautiful wood- In his delivery, he times his uttercuts, at the Lee Priory Press, for one ance to the ear better, we think, than guinea each-limiting the number any orator we have before heard ; of copies, and destroying the cuts,- his words come out just as fast as but both these designs fell to the they can be agreeably collected and ground, upon an old Quaker observ- understood; he neither overruns our ing, that one man might lead a horse attention nor fails to keep it occupied; to the water, but all the men in the in this illustrating the well-expressed parish could not make him drink: conceit of Ben Jonson :he said, the books might be sold, but he was sure they would not be read.

If you pour a glut of water upon a bot. It was then thought advisable to tle, it receives little of it; but with a funbeguile the rich souls into better them, and spill little of your own; to their

nel, and by degrees, you shall fill many of thoughts by a translation of some capacity they will receive and be full. parts of Scripture into fashionable phrase and elegant poetry,

In person, Mr. Irving is very much

above the common size. He has a Ut pueris olim dant crustula blandi Doctores,

manly countenance, and abundance

of long black hair; if he were to and accordingly Lord Byron wrote allow his beard to grow, the painters his Hebrew Melodies, Mr. Moore would ask no better model for the his Loves of the Angels, Mr. Milman head of an apostle. His action is the Fall of Jerusalem, &c. The free, and generally good; but of late, lyric measure was tried, because it we thought, less natural than at had succeeded so well in Sir Walter first; and we miss an emphatic raisScott's poems, and the refined ear ing of the right arm, which was before was accustomed to it :—the form of very frequent with him ; it reminded a drama was adopted, and thought us of a line in Burns --for the sake admirable, as it would seem so like of which we must quote the whole reading a play. Religious novels verse: were produced in abundance-and even the Great Unknown came flying The brawnie, banie, ploughman chiel

Nae mercy then for airn or steel; abroad, scattering texts of Scripture Brings hard o'er hip, with sturdy wheel everywhere, and mixing them up

The strong fore-hammer, with all kinds of relishing confec- Till block and stiddy ring and reel, tionery to make them palatable, and Wi' dinsome chamour.

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