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and eloquent; stin I ask, is this the the sing-song Muse, when you should language of Drama? If it is, why only worship the Muse of Tragedy; does not Shakspeare always use it? you think of nought but creating and If it is not, why do you? I would seizing upon occasions to be egreyou reflected upon this specifically. giously poetical, instead of speciHere is an author, who manifestly fically dramatical ; you not only imcan be most sweetly poetical when molate, but annihilate


subhe wishes, yet he is so only by limity, action, passion, propriety, and snatches. Had I given you Massin- nature, on the altars of your idol ger, whose language, however ac- Ultra-poesy, commodated to action, is rarely poe- But, as if this was not enough, up tical, as an exemplar, you might have starts the accursed spirit of Proses

put my pen to silence, by saying that poetry. Massinger's genius did not allow This name, aided by the reader's him to luxuriate in poetry, and that own observation, must, I think, suffitherefore he did not. But Shakspeare, ciently explain the system of verif not the greatest poet that ever sification to which I allude. In wrote, is certainly the most poetical reading the poetry of the present writer that ever lived; there is more day, it must strike the most superof the wild soul of romance and ficial observer as being totally diftowering audacity of imagination a- ferent in its structure from that bout him, than the polished Greek or hitherto in use amongst us. the stately Roman have any preten- not, perhaps, have taken the time or eions to: the ~ barbarian" sets his the trouble to investigate the parfoot upon the last visible step of the ticular quality which thus distinladder, whose top reaches up to the guishes our hodiernal poetry ; but footstool of Fame, crying out to the will readily acknowledge it to con“ civilized” sons of Parnassus (as sist in a perpetual tendency to run Byron nicknames them),-Follow me into prose. It is from this quality now, if you dare! Many people, and that I denominate it prose-poetry. 'I do not wish to quarrel with their For illustration's sake: taste, on account of the numberless

What are these letters which faults in his writings, his unpardon

(Approaching the prison wall able negligences, oversights, incon- Are scrawlid along the incxorable wall ? sistencies, and absurdities, his puns Will the gleam let me trace them ? Ah! and his bombast, the deplorable ble- the names mishes which everywhere disgrace of my sad predecessors in this placc, his page, and the strange fits of mor- The dates of their despair, the brief words of tality which perpetually pull him down A grief too great for many. This stone

to earth in the very highest flights Holds like an epitaph their history, of his genius, degrade him as a ge- And the poor captive's tale is graven on neral poet below Homer :-no one

His dungeon barrier, like the lover's record whose opinion is worth a penny-fee Upon the bark of some tall trec, which ever denied that, in particular in

bears stances, he has soar'd to greater His own and his beloved's name. Alas! heights than Homer ever reach'd; &c. and that he is the sole bird of genius

(Two Foscari, Act 3. Sc. 1.) who has struck his wings against the Here it is evident that there is a sun of poetry, whilst the very

next in pinion rose but half-way in the great deal of false printing ; let the beams. Yet he, even he makes his speech be put down upon paper as

we should read it, and it will run poetry always subservient to his dia- thus : logue; sweetness and beauty are merely incidental to his language;

What are these letters which Are scrawl'd his purely-poetical passages come

along the inexorable wall ? rather by way of interpolation, and Will the gleam let me trace them? Ah! the general course of his text is no

the names farther 'poetical than sublimity of

Of my sad predecessors in this place, thought and harmony of verse, every The dates of their despair, the brief words now and then indulged, must neces- of A grief too great for many. This stone sarily make it. You, on the con- page trary, are always sidleing towards Holds like an epitaph their history:

And the poor captive's tale is graven on His perceptible division of time from the dungeon barrier, like the lover's record first word of the succeeding; and Upon the bark of some tall tree, which also, that the verses frequently end bears

with words neither emphatic nor soHis own and his beloved's name. Alas! norous. So that no difference what. Here is a motley piece of work! ever exists between such versificaFirst a patch of prose; then two tion and sweet weak prose, but a streaks of poetry; then another patch certain superfluity of capital letters of prose; followed by a single streak squandered over the page. of

oetry; and so on. Would not This mode of versifying (if it can one think the writer of this had lost be called so) is, however, not of moeither his ears or his senses !

dern date even with us. It is the The art of composing in this kind great defect of Beaumont and Fletof two-handed language lies wholly cher's dramatic poetry, and is that in one rule of easy observance, viz. quality to which their verse owes all the neglecting final emphases and its distinguishing feebleness. The pauses. If the standard poetry of style of Massinger is also in many onr nation be examined, it will be places prose-poetic; differing chiefly found that, for the most part, there is from that so epidemic at present, by a pause of greater or less duration at the speeches being often wholly inthe end of every line, whether indi- divisible into pentameters by any cated by a stop or not. It will also device of printing or capitals, unless be found that a sounding word gene- lines could be divided in the middle rally closes each verse. And it is the of a word. Indeed I sometimes know due attention to make these pauses not what to make of this last author's of a certain perceptible duration, versification. I am often tempted to and to introduce these sounding think that many of his speeches which closes, which confers dignity, grans are now clipt into cuttings of various deur, and strength on the verse. In lengths, should be printed in prose; .contradistinction to this, if the pre- yet occasionally lines of the regular vailing poetry of the day be inspect- measure intervene, and spoil my ed, we shall find that the lines per. theory. Who, for instance, can tell petually run into one another without whether Philip was at the top or the any pause at all, the final word of toe of Parnassus, when he wrote this this line not being disjoined by any awkward medley of Ferse and prose :

• That the majesty of English verse depends on final pauses as well as final emphatic syllables has never been observed, that I know of, by any writer on our language. Yet it is demonstrable from these two facts : first, that the most insignificant words, such as on, of, which, &c. may properly enough end our most heroic lines, if followed by a pause of perceptible duration, ex. gr.

Like the Pontic sea,
Whose icy current and compulsive course
Ne'er feels retiring ebb, but keeps due on

To the Propontic, and the Hellespont.-(Othello, Act 3. Sc. 2.) Secondly, that the most significant and sounding words may close our lines improperly, i. e. when not followed by a pause in recitation, ex. gr.

Although a Greek, and horn a foe to monarchs—
A slave, and hating fettersman Ionian,
And therefore, when I love a stranger, more
Degraded by that passion than by chains !
Still I have loved you. If that love were strong
Enough to overcome all former nature,
Shall it not claim the privilege to save you ?

(Sardanapalus, Act 1. Sc. 2.) In this passage, the word "strong” is both sounding, and capable (according as we choose to read the line) of a heavy emphasis ; but by reason of its being too closely connected in recitation with “ enough,” the first word of the next verse, i. e. by the want of a final pause, the lines lose their majesty and become mere prose.

The above remark, may possibly, to those who are deeply read in the philosophy of our tongue, appear trite and common-place ; to me, however, it was wholly new, and I rather **e to be laughed at for my ignorance, than to omit making a remark which may,

be new to all.

my son

These were your father's words : “ If e'er The leaf of eglantine, whom not to slander,

Out sweetend not thy breath. Follow the war, tell him it is a school

Cymbeline, Act IV. Sc. 2. In which all the principles tending to honor Are taught, if truly followed; but for such In his great tragedies, or where As repair thither, as a place in which he speaks in the digna cothurno, it They do presume they may with licence would be difficult to find an instance practise

of prose-poetry, or any line, such as Their lawless riots, they shall never merit the fourth and fifth in the above The noble name of soldiers.

quotation, which does not end with To obey their leaders, and shun mutinies;

a pause of perceptible duration. And To dare boldly In a fair cause, and for the country's safety the more familiar parts of Drama,

perhaps it would be injudicious, in To run upon the cannon's mouth undaunted ;

never to swerve from the strict epic To bear with patience the winter's cold

rule of ending each line with a tone ; And summer's scorching heat ;

as the verse might then appear above Are the essentials to inake up a soldier- the subject, as well as too artificial New Way to pay Old Debts, Act I. Sc. 2. and monotonous. But it requires

much greater skill, or much greater The Rhetoric school of Drama, on genius, than I fear even my Lord account of its desperate propensity Byron possesses, safely to indulge the to heroic versification, cannot easily pedestrian method of metre, which I deviate into prose-poetry; yet we have denomipated prose-poetry, find a ludicrous instance of it in

For it is you, my Lord, whom I Congreve. Almeria says:

impeach as the arch-patron and proNot Osmyn, but Alphonso, is my dear pagator of this degenerate system of

Mourning Bride, A. 4. Sc. 7. poetry. You have debased the lanThe words

guage of our native Muse, by the And wedded husband

revival, in a worse shape, of this un

British school of versification.* Refollow; but nothing can take off the markable alike for your genius, your fatally un-tragic effect of Almeria's eccentricities, your nobility of birth, « dear."

and external gifts of fortune, you Shakspeare seldom indulges in this are for nothing so distinguished as piebald species of poetry; and when for the incalculable mischief you have he does, the fulness and weight of brought upon the literature of your his phraseology still preserves the country, by the loan of your name dignity of his verses:

and abilities to the purpose which I With fairest flowers,

speak of,—the undermining of our While summer lasts, and I live here, Fi- energetic laws of verse, the over

dele, I'll sweeten thy sad grave: Thou shalt not the degradation, 'depravation, and

throw of our lofty system of metre, lack The flower, that 's like thy face, pale annihilation of our national spirit of primrose; nor

poetry. You, my Lord Byron, are The azured hare-bell, like thy veins ; no, the man whom I arraign before your

country and the tribunal of the • Revival, do I say ? No: neither Massinger, nor Shakspeare,—no man of genius, whose blood was unpolluted by the mal aria of that pestilent clime, the Land of slaves and opera-singers, ever sullied his paper with such drivelling imbecility as this by way of verse:

'Tis he! I am taken in the toils. Before
I quitted Hamburgh, Giulio, his steward,
Informed me, that he had obtain'd an order
From Brandenburgh's elector for the arrest
Of Kruitzner (such the name I then bore), when
I came upon the frontier ; the free city
Alone preserved my freedom—till I left
Its walls--fool that I was to quit them! But

I deem'd this humble garb, &c.-Werner, Act I. Sc. I.
*** Before I quitted Hamburgh !-an order From Brandenburgh !--the arrest Of
Kruitzner !-&c! &c!”_0 the Roman majesty of prose-poetry! the os magna of the
Byronian school of verse! the “ energy divine" of pauseless pentameters, endless
Jambics !



Muses, of high treason against the it is no wonder if the British Muse majesty of our language.

appears stern, and forbidding, and --- You are a man of genius, my Lord, severe. But, my Lord, there is a and as such an honour to your coun- rude melody in our numbers, which try:—but, Sir, it were better for our cannot be equalled by the effeminate fame that you never had been born modulation of any living language; amongst us. You have fulfilled one, there is a harmonious simplicity in at least, of a poet's duties; your the structure of our verse, which we works are inexhaustible, fatal sources can enjoy, though you cannot appreof delight:- but you are the greatest ciate, else you would practise it in enemy of its poetry your country your works; there is a sweetness ever had; you have given that a and beauty of language in our own blow, which I fear it will never re- Shakspeare, which you are not ca

To your genius I ascribe the · pable of imitating, and which we manifest debasement of mind which defy you to parallel in all Italy. But now pervades this department of our supposing your theory true ; grantliterature; from the rise of your ing that our island poetry were depoetic birth-star I date the decline ficient in softness and enphony,—Is of English poetry. This is a serious it for a Briton to sacrifice energy, charge, my Lord ; perhaps more se- manliness, and vigour, to languid rious than is compatible with the blandiloquence and voluptuous sualight tone of these letters; but it is vity of diction? Nor will it avail to easily substantiated. It is a most reply, that England is a ' “ fallen important subject too.; involving no clime;” that she is no more a land less than our future national rank in of liberty; no more the hardy nurse the poetic world; and I could wish of rude but noble spirits. Is she to some abler hand were employed in be restored to primeval grandeur by developing its circumstances, so that, deserting her in her adversity? Is if possible, your imitators and ad- she to be freed by forgetting her ? Is mirers, nay you yourself, might be her spirit' to be re-ennobled by madeterred from the prosecution of a triculating the lascivious tales of the system at once disgraceful and in- south, by pandering to the sensual jurious. In word, my Lord, you appetite of the age, and by debasing are the champion and professor-prin- her poetry, the moral philosophy of cipal of Prose-poetry: That vile and the people, to a mere soft sliding abominable system of versification, vehicle of dissolute principles ? No, which has utterly broken down the you answer ; but her case is hope strength of our language, was made less; her decline has set in, and it current, if not coined, by you. The is impossible to stay it. True, my influence of your name and the power Lord; and because you cannot reof your practice have spread this medy the disease that consumes her, accursed infection throughout the you inflame it; because you cannot whole body literate; and from your save her from ultimate destruction, own eloquent volumes down to the you stab her through the heart? This glib, maudlin inanities of our ephe- is nobly done, and will make a noble méral poetry, all our once-noble epitaph for your memory. strain of verse is contaminated by A renegade from your country, the presence of this pernicious leaven. you cultivate a continental distaste The Apollo of the British Lyre is for the simple energy of her lanItalianated.

guage. A denizen of another clime; You come forth, my Lord, an you endeavour to corrupt our poetry opponent of the English school of with the effeminate manner of a voversification. You reject our metre luptuous latitude. Alas! my Lord, as harsh, rugged, and unpolished. our language was but too much in--Why, to the voluptuary, to the clined to degeneracy already; our proselyte of southern luxury, to the poetry was fast verging to that conman of a vitiated taste and a de- dition of smooth imbecility, which praved morality, to him who has characterises the last ages of the emforgotten his country, who loves a pire of the Muses. It is, perhaps, foreign and a fallen clime, better than the tendency of a luxurious nation to his native, and with all its faults, a decline into effeminacy; of a highlypoble land, to such a man as this, cultivated language to refine itself to insipidity. But it was your part, sert, that the system of prose-poetry my Lord, to have resisted this deca dissolves and relaxes the public mind; dence, both of morals and language, that it softens, enervates, and brings instead of accelerating it. Our other down the bold spirit of the north to writers, either through indolence, im- the level of southern effeminacy. potence, or a shameful connivance Speaking more to the purpose of this with the depraved temper of the times, letter, however,--I say that you, my were prone enough to exhibit the Lord Lucifer, have not only gone gaudy finery they had personally or by astray yourself, but have led the proxy gathered from Ind; to substi- whole train of poetical seraphim tute the dazzling gewgaws, and splen, after you. Seraphim! ay, and mere did phantasmagoria of the tinseld mortals too. Look at the daily issue -East, for our native truth of thought; of the press, and behold your handyto exchange our natural simplicity of work : the scribbling rhymester, the phrase, for the gorgeous, eye-striking, newspaper poet, the maudlin Sappho, Asiatic glitter of diction. But you, the namby-pamby versifier, the lanmy Lord, are doubly delinquent; you guid fine gentleman, and the smug not only adopt this orientalism of Lordling, every fool and every fribble, imagery, but you reduce the manly contributes his or her little mawkish flow of our national verse to the stream to the overflowing ocean of lazy current of prose-poetry; instead prose-poetry. Such a consummation of the firm and stately tread of num- was naturally to have been expected : bers, in which we alone, of all the mo- the predominance of fools in every derns, emulated the ancients, you nation is always so great, human nahave introduced the feeble, volu- ture is so prone to descend, and you minous, spent eloquence, whose taint Juble nonsense is so pat to the popuyou imbibed from the air of dege- lar ear, whilst thought-full poetry is nerate Italy. And it would have so oppressive to the general brain, been matter enough for regret, to see that we wanted but a tilt from the your own vigorous mind thus effe professor of prose-poetry, and down ! minated; your inborn sense of what-down we went the slope of degeis sweet and beautiful and gracious, neracy, till we came to the very botrebated; your natural relish for true tom of Parnassus. The nation folmelody of verse corrupted and de- lowed its poets, as complacently as praved. We should have had in this wild-geese follow their leaders. This alone sufficient to deplore ; but when is wherefore I arraign you, my Lord; we behold the universal host of our this is what I mean by calling you poets plunge headlong into the same the enemy of our poetic literature. abyss, anger and indignation against You have had talent enough to conthe Lucifer who misled them are secrate a false system of versificamingled with our shame and our sor- tion, to deprave our ear, and to derow. It is true, that by luxury, and base our numbers. You have had overgrown wealth, the public mind skill sufficient to dilute our native was unnerved, the national soul was poetry into a kind of melting mellienfeebled; I therefore cannot with fluence; too sweet not to be agreejustice attribute the total effeminacy able; too apt for the age, not to be of our common poetry to your influ- come prevalent; too corruptive in its ence alone; the genius of the times nature, not to destroy what it pershould relieve you of one half the vades. Thus does your genius work disgraceful burthen. But if we are our disgrace; by its influence, you on the brink of our national decline, have debauched our poetry. Had is this any reason that you, my Lord, you not written with such unlucky should, just at this critical moment; felicity in this degenerate style of like a satellite of the demon of Coré verse, you would have had neither ruption, set your shoulders to the imitators nor admirers; and though back of the tottering crowd, and push our annals had wanted the glory of us down the hill of perdition? What! your present name, we should still you say, is prose-poetry (as you call have lived in the hope of seeing other it) so potent a stream as to sweep and more British poets arise. down a nation in that way? Perhaps For my own part, my Lord, I should not; that last clause of mine alludes, I perhaps never have troubled my confess, rather to the matter than the readers or myself with this matter, manner of your works: but I do as- had you not most impiously and

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