Imágenes de páginas


Atreus, of the flesh of his own sons, by The supposed sympathy of general a brother's hand. And at the death creation with the affairs of man, as of Cæsar, the poet's eye, with a vision manifested in prodigies and extraorquickened by patriotism, flattery, or dinary appearances, is obviously a superstition, saw the whole of nature figure which ought to be sparingly convulsed with grief for the virtues employed in poetry, particularly by a which the world had lost, and the ca. Christian poet writing to a Christian lamities which it was about to suffer. and enlightened age. If such ma“ Sol tibi signa dabit. Solem quis dicere chinery, which we are taught to ap

propriate to the most awful and mom falsum Audeat ? ille etiam cæcos instare tumultus

mentous events, be introduced on every Sæpè monet, fraudemque et operta tu.

petty and pitiful occasion of human mescere bella.

distress, it becomes ludicrous from its Ille etiam extincto miseratus Cæsare absurdity or shocking by its proRomam,

faneness. And it is surely a setQuum caput obscurâ nitidum ferrugine tled rule in poetical taste, that no texit,

strong image shall be presented to us, Impiaque æternam timuerunt sæcula noc- for the sake of mere ornament or surtem :

prise, where it cannot command the Tempore quamquam illo tellus quoque et assent of the imagination and the symæquora ponti,

pathy of the heart. Obscenique canes, importunæque volucres, Much room, however, is still left Signa dabant.”

for a natural and less exalted use of ** The sun reveals the secrets of the sky;

those sympathetic affections that may And who dares give the source of light the be supposed to subsist between ourlie?

selves and material objects, in their The change of empires often he declares, ordinary or less marvellous manifesFierce tumults, hidden treasons, open

tations. We are readily inspired with

a love for them, and would willingly He first the fate of Cæsar did foretell, believe that they feel a love for us ; And pitied Rome, when Rome in Cæsar and this, when once imagined, is easily

read in their commonest aspects and In iron clouds conceal'd the public light; operations. And impious mortals fear'd eternal night. Our love for external objects may Nor was the fact foretold by him alone :

be excited by those qualities that adNature herself stood forth, and seconded

dress the feelings of sublimity or the sun.

beauty. Mountains, rocks, and rivers, Earth, air, and seas, with prodigies were

the ocean and the orbs of heaven, sign'd, And birds obscene, and howling dogs di

fields, forests, trees, and flowers, when

beheld with any intensity of admiravined.”

tion, and more especially when viewed Here, indeed, as in other instances, in an individual rather than in a collecpoetry addresses, as fictions, to the tive character, willinvoluntarily borrow imagination, the same conceptions an air of life and an aptitude for affecwhich superstition would force upon tion from the same ideas that invest the reason as facts. In both opera- them with grandeur and loveliness. tions the same natural principle is We shall have abundant opportunity busy; nor can we suppose such a prin- of illustrating this rule, in the course ciple to have been engrafted on our of our further observations on the frame without a design that it should subject; but may here, in connexion bear noble fruit. In superstition it is with it, insert two passages, which, perverted and abused ; in poetry it is although too well known to have the directed to its proper use, and confined charm of novelty, will please the more within its just limits. Nor is there, the oftener they are studied, and which perhaps, in the constitution of man a seem here to be peculiarly appropriate, more singular provision than that by 'as giving an adequate expression to the which imagination is thus allowed to powerful affections and ideal visions wield, innocently and beneficially, the to which we have referred. If to any full moral power of so many illusions, reader there appears a vagueness and which, if adopted by the understanding obscurity in some part of these noble as literal truths, would enslave the verses, let him ask himself if, without reason and debase the soul.

much of mystery and darkness, it is

fell ;

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possible to think or to speak of those of sense, to prepare him for other bonds of moral connexion that unite scenes in which faith shall be lost in man with material nature, and which sight, conjecture in intuition, and seem designed, by the imaginations matter in spirit. thus arising even from the perceptions

“ And Oye fountains, meadows, hills, and groves,

Think not of any severing of our loves !
Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might';
I only have relinquish'd one delight
To live beneath your more habitual sway.
I love the brooks which down their channels fret,
Even more than when I tripp'd lightly as they ;
The innocent brightness of a new-born day

Is lovely yet ;
The clouds that gather round the setting sun,
Do take a sober colouring from an eye
That bath kept watch o'er man's mortality ;
Another race hath been, and other palms are won.
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears."

I have learn'd
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue. And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean, and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man:
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the nieadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye and ear, both what they half create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognise
In nature and the language of the sense,
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul

Of all my moral being." The feelings excited by the grander velled, saying, What manner of man and more awful forms of natural is this, that even the winds and the power—the hurricane, the thunder- sea obey him :"-ÜTar8801V QUTX. Mil. storm, the earthquake, must from their ton has used a similar image in the intensity be favourable to personifica- delineation of a more dreadful storm, tion ; yet we shall have occasion to in like manner appeased—the strife of notice an important distinction obser- elemental confusion reconciled by the vable in such cases. We recognise creative voice:a simple and natural impersonation

«« Silence, ye troubled waves, and thou in that beautiful passage of the Evan

deep, peace,' gelist, where Jesus “ arose, and re- Said then the Omnific Word,' your discord buked the winds and the sea ;”

end!' επιτιμησε τους ανεμους και τη θαλασση ;- Nor stay'd; but on the wings of cherubim censured them, took them to task as Uplifted, in paternal glory rode erring and presumptuous,—"and there Far into chaos and the world unborn ; was a great calm. But the men mar- For chaos heard his voice."


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Personification, subdued by a so- sublimer convulsions of nature, unless lemn tone of feeling such as we here this subordination of fiction to moral meet with, will readily be received as truth be sacredly maintained, personieqnally just and impressive. The fication will appear false and undaelements, thus quickened into life tural, and will tend to diminish rather and character, are yet preserved at an than heighten the poetical effect. Let infinite distance of subordination, as us here examine a passage in a mothe servants of an actual and all-con- dern poet, that has been generally and trolling power. And it appears justly admired : to us, that, in any description of the

“ The sky is changed !--and such a change! Oh, night,

And storm, and darkness, ye are wond'rous strong,
Yet lovely in your strength, as is the light
Of a dark eye in woman! Far along,
From peak to peak, the rattling crags among,
Leaps the live thunder! Not from one lone cloud,
But every mountain now hath found a tongue,
And Jura answers, through her misty shroud,

Back to the joyous Alps, who call to her aloud !
“ And this is in the night:-Most glorious night!

Thou wert not sent for slumber! let me be
A sharer in thy fierce and fair delight,
A portion of the tempest and of thee!
How the lit lake shines, a phosphoric sea,
And the big rain comes dancing to the earth!
And now again 'tis black, and now, the glee
Of the loud hills shakes with its mountain-mirth,
As if they did rejoice o'er a young earthquake's birth."

There is great talent and power in at these material ministers of heaven, this spirited and striking description; and is not led upwards to think of a though, in passing, we suppose we may living power far higher than those say, that critics are now pretty well which are the creatures of its own agreed as to the incongruity of the fancy. A Godless description of a concluding image. It is too fanciful midnight thunder-storm among the for a picture of which sublimity should Alps, seems to us to be at variance, be the predominating tone ; and it is we do not say with piety, but with not very certain that there is any in- poetical truth and with human feeling. telligible sense in it. The birth of a In such a scene, and on such a night, young earthquake naturally leads us the soul cannot rest satisfied with the to wonder what an old earthquake can mere belief of the fancy that the leapbe; and whether the young of earth- ing thunder is alive, and that the quakes need to be nursed and fed till mountains are shouting in fellow-feelthey are able to do mischief, or whe- ing to each other. We know with an ther the slighter shocks are to be con- awful conviction, that, if the represidered as infant earthquakes, giving a sentation is true at all, there is somekick and a squall at the breast, (do thing at work that is less visionary than they belong to the mammalia ?) while these airy dreams; and if not taught those of a more formidable magnitude that we are in the dread presence of are to be held as big and burly adults. Divinity, we either turn from the picThese questions are not easily resol. ture in disappointment, or unavoidved; and, however answered, are not ably view it as exhibiting the revelry favourable to the poet's purpose. But of demons, rather horrible and hideit is not in reference to this part of the ous than solemn or sublime. Comdescription that we have quoted the pare the lively impersonations of Bystanzas. We wish to consider whe- ron with the description of the Pagan ther the personifications here intro- poet, in which all personification is duced, and none can be more vivid, swallowed up in one great image of are truly conducive to a high effect of the supreme deity of his mythology, sublimity, where the mental enthu. and say which of them is the more siasm that produces them stops short true to nature and to poetry.

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Sæpe etiam immensum cælo venit agmen aquarum,
Et fædam glomerant tempestatem imbribus atris
Collectæ ex alto nubes ; ruit arduus æther,
Et pluviâ ingenti sata læta boumque labores
Diluit; implentur fossæ, et cava flumina crescunt
Cum sonitu, fervetque fretis spirantibus æquor.
Ipse pater, mediâ nimborum in nocte, corusca
Fulmina molitur dextrâ ; quo maxima motu
Terra tremit, fugere fero, et mortalia corda

Per gentes humilis stravit pavor."
And oft whole sheets descend of sluicy rain,

Suck'd by the spongy clouds from off the main;
The lofty skies at once come pouring down,
The promised crop and golden labours drown.
The dykes are fill'd, and with a roaring sound
The rising rivers float the nether ground;
And rocks the bellowing voice of boiling seas rebound.
The father of the gods his glory shrouds,
Involved in tempests, and a night of clouds ;
And from the middle darkness flashing out,
By fits he deals his fiery bolts about.
Earth feels the motions of her angry God,
Her entrails tremble, and her mountains nod;
And flying beasts in forests seek abode :
Deep horror seizes every human breast;

Their pride is humbled, and their fear confess’d." We may trust, we think, to Lucretius as an evidence to the laws of the human heart on this subject.

Præterea, cui non animus formidine divům
Contrahitur ? cui non conrepunt membra pavore,
Fulminis horribili cum plagâ torrida tellus
Contremit, et magnum percurrunt murmura cælum ?
Non populi, gentesque tremunt? Regesque superbi
Conripiunt divům perculsi membra timore,
Ne quod ob admissum fode, dictumve superbe

Pænarum grave sit solvendi tempus adactum.”
" Who does not feel bis soul within him shrink,

And, crouch'd before the gods, a suppliant sink,
When, as the dreadful bolt descends from high,
The parch'd earth quakes, and murmurs fill the sky ?
Kindreds and tribes in trembling terror hear,
And haughty tyrants own a sacred fear,
Lest now each deed of guilt, each word of pride,

Be doom'd its day of reckoning to abide.' Turn also to Shakspeare. The un- dering delusions return by degrees to happy Lear had excitements stronger the divine and human truths, which than the manifestations of the con- no mind, possessing its faculties and tentious storm to drive him into the feelings in any harmony of adjustwildest extravagances of imagina- ment, can fail to be taught by such tion when exposed to the tyrannous fearful occasions. night; yet hear how even his wan

Enter LEAR and Fool.
Lear. Blow wind, and crack your cheeks ! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drench'd our steeples, drown'd the cocks !
You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,
Strike flat the thick rotundity o' the world!
Crack nature's moulds, all germens spill at once,
That make ingrateful man!

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Rumble thy bellyfull! Spit, fire ! spout, rain!
Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire, are my daughters :
I tax not you, you elements, with unkindness,
I never gave you kingdoms, call'd you children;
You owe me no subscription ; why, then, let fall
Your horrible pleasure ; here I stand your slave,
A poor, infirm, weak, and despised old man :-
But yet I call you servile ministers,
That have with two pernicious daughters join'd
Your high-engender'd battles, 'gainst a head
So old and white as this.

Kent. Alas, sir, are you here? things that love night,
Love not such nights as these ; the wrathful skies
Gallow the very wanderers of the dark,
And make them keep their caves : since I was man,
Such sheets of fire, such bursts of horrid thunder,
Such groans of roaring wind and rain I never
Remember to have heard : man's nature cannot carry
The affliction nor the fear,

Let the great gods,
That keep this dreadful pother o'er our heads,
Find out their enemies now. Tremble, thou wretch,
That hast within thee undivulged crimes,
Unwhipp'd of justice: Hide thee, thou bloody hand;
Thou perjured, and thou simular man of virtue
That art incestuous : Caitiff, to pieces slake,
That under covert and convenient seeming,
Hast practised on man's life !--Close pent-up guilts,
Rive your concealing continents, and cry
These dreadful summoners grace.--I am a man
More sinn'd against, than sinning.

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Pr’ythee, go in thyself; seek thine own ease;
This tempest will not give me leave to ponder
On things would hurt me more. But I'll go in.
In, boy ; go first.--[to the Fool.] You houseless, poverty,–
Nay, get thee in. I'll pray, and then I'll sleep.-

[Fool goes
Poor naked wretches, wheresoe'er you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
How shall your houseless heads, and unfed sides,
Your loop'd and window'd raggedness, defend you
From seasons such as these? O, I have ta'en
Too little care of this ! Take physic, pomp ;
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel;
That thou may’st shake the superflux to them,

And show the heavens more just.” It requires nothing, we think, but things with which they are comparison, to see that moral power nected. is the source and standard of genuine The love of home and of country, poetry in such descriptions; and that or of other scenes of fond recollection, à predominance given to material is, from its origin, peculiarly calcuimages, where so much higher thoughts lated to confer personality on its obshould be inspired, implies either a jects. It is a congeries of simple defect of mental balance, or a corrup feelings, which are almost entirely of tion of poetical judgment.

a moral and spiritual character. The We have now noticed the operation spot of our birth, the seat of our do. and limits of personification arising mestic hopes and happiness, are dear from the contemplation of natural ob- to us, because they represent and emjects, whether lovely or magnificent. brace the thousand charities and deWe proceed to follow out the subject lights of kindred and companionship, in those cases where external objects of family affection or social sympathy. are chiefly recommended to us by our - Cari sunt parentes, cari liberi, proindividual interest in the persons or pinqui, familiares ; sed omnes omnium

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