Imágenes de páginas

our eyes; and by such a description, a stick / works of these poetic artists there is acknowlof wood, stuck full of copper nails, is made edged by all a want of unity and want of the significant usher of a line of heroic im- action, which ranks them far below the moages, representing dignity and authority in dels of antiquity. every grade.

The purposes of art are simple, and not Again, when Achilles swears by his speculative; its materials derived from nasceptre, the poet traces it from the green ture and tradition, and not from excogitation tree upon its native mountains to the hands and analysis; and perhaps it is impossible of the hero, acquiring attributes of dignity. for any but a people whose actions are free

The delineation of the bow of Pandarus and unrestrained, who have great and nais another wonderful instance of the skill of tional purposes, simple and heroic views, and the poet, who attaches to it a high degree an experience of life, varied upon sea and of interest.

land, in peace and war, and through the viIt has long been a matter of wonder cissitudes of calamity and brilliant fortune, among critics that Dryden, a poet of in- to produce an original and classic school of ferior skill to Pope in the management of poetry,--a people who believe, or incline to verse, should be generally better esteemed believe, that what they think and can do is by the ripest judges. We believe that an the best, saving what their fathers thought inquiry into the peculiarities of these writers and did before them, and who scorn and will establish for the elder of the two a great detest the barbarism and

corruption of neighsuperiority in epic force, in the qualities of boring monarchies. Had Greece been action and vital unity. The imitators of flooded with an Asiatic literature, generated Pope and Dryden, understanding nothing from the vice and luxury of courts, would of the true vitality of art, imitated only their she ever have produced a Homer or an Arversification, their antithetic turn, and their istotle? And will America ever produce epigrammatic point. That the writers of the great writers and artists who will transmit seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were ig- our glory to future generations, while she is norant of the true principles of classic art, dis- cloyed and debilitated with the sweet and covered or revived by Lessing, we have evi- sickly literature of French libertinism and dence enough to fill entire libraries, libraries English servilisin? Great geniuses may be, commenting on, and imitating in a frigid man- indeed, in a measure, self-developed, but the ner, the classic unities. Impressed with the imitative instinct puts them in strong and idea that unity was necessary to a work of intimate sympathy with the age, the men, art, they conceived of it as an artificial band, and the books with whom they converse. holding the parts of the work together, as Let the young poet, and whoever wishes to the tire of a wheel gives unity, and not as excel as a writer and a speaker, beware of the specific or vital principle of an animal his company. If he associates with triflers, gives unity to it. In treating of the episode neglecting the harsh and disciplinary contacts and of episodic description, mechanical critics of duty and business, and if, instead of serious have regarded them as so many ornamental poenis and histories, he steeps his intellect in flourishes nailed or stuck upon the body the muddy floods of sentimental fiction, the of the work, and for which any other might trifling and sensual, his moral power must have been substituted with equal propriety. decline, the pride and freedom of his soul

In the correspondence between Goethe be impaired, his hours of thought expended and Schiller, of which there is a translated in useless reverie or idle criticism; desponAmerican edition, we find an apparent and dency and low despair will take the place of continued effort on the part of those great manly ambition. To the inexperienced it is writers and critics to solve the epic and dra- perhaps necessary to add this caution--not matic problem of unity, independently of to mistake verbal and rhetorical criticism, Lessing, and almost without reference to and classical nibbling, for a study of great him, and with signal ill-success. The criti- models. Sublime and beautiful works should cisms of Goethe and Schiller have no entire- be read as one views a majestic landscape, ness, and show the dimmest appreciation of by a rapid and comprehensive glance. the root principle of epos and drama—an ap- Magnitude is said to be an element of the preciation so dim, the uninitiated reader will sublime. To appreciate the sublimity of perhaps never discover it at all; and in the Milton or Homer, one must take in all at

once an entire member of their work,-a seems to be a creator, or inventor, in the secret of criticism which, unhappily, few of right sense. our classical scholars possess; for these gen America has produced many authors who tlemen judge a man's scholarship by the have excelled in the description of natural neatness and prosody of his quotations from scenery. Every one is familiar with the Horace, and their knowledge of the great exquisite delineations of Bryant and Longwriters of their own and other tongues is fellow, in those beautiful and pathetic little ofttimes more correct than organic; but the poems, “The Water-fowl,” and the “Loss poet and the writer who works from a cen- of the Hesperus." There are touches in tral, living principle, must work from a con- these of natural description unsurpassed in sciousness very different from that of the their kind. Many of equal or superior analyst, or dissector. English treatises of beauty are quoted by the readers of Tennycriticism too often resemble a hand-book son; but these excellent poets do not decalled the Dublin Dissector, which the stu- scribe for the sake of describing; they do dent holds in his left hand open, while, with not encroach upon the province of the landthe scalpel in his right, he separates the in- scape painter; they speak only of what we tegument from the muscle. The treatise of have seen and are familiar with, and then Lessing, on the contrary, deserves to be give us the changes, dramatic motives and called an organic treatise, because it shows pathetic incidents, which the phenomena of us the vital principle in the living work. nature occasion, attend, or suggest. They

In the seventeenth section our author combine in their poenis the two-fold genius dwells at length upon the impropriety of of ode and elegy; the elegy describing detailed delineations of bodily objects in po- and lamenting past scenes, the ode, interior etry. The signs of speech are arbitrary. passions of an instant. In all that they When a word is uttered, or written, it signi- write there is motion and life, and therefore, fies nothing to the hearer or reader except we dare say, they are popular and adınired. by reference to his own experience. The poet cannot describe a thing which no one general, the power of delineating a bodily


“ I do not deny," says Lessing, “ to speech in has ever seen, so that the imagination shall by means of its separate parts ; this it possesses, receive it. He can describe only the changes, because its signs, although consecutive, are yet ar, combinations, and actions of things that bitrary. But I deny that this power is possessed have been seen and are already known, or by speech, considered as the mechanical means of which the imagination shapes from experi- would be deficient in that illusion on which poe

poetry, because such verbal delineations of bodies ence, or from pictorial representations. Mil. try mainly rests; and for this plain reason, that ton's angels have a human form, speak the the entireness of the body being destroyed by the English language, and their music was the consecutive nature of the discourse, and an analmusic known to Milton; their armor is that ysis of the whole into its parts being thus effected, of English knights, their artillery the mod- ination, must always be a work of very great difti.

the ultimate reunion of those parts, in the imagThus, in the detail of his work, culty, and in many cases would even be impossithe greatest of all inventors invented noth- ble. Where, therefore, no illusive effect is required, ing

He could change, he could magnify; where the understanding of the reader alone is ad. he could darken and illuminate, combine dressed, and where the only aim of the author is and put in action; he could inspire his an- ideas, those delineations of bodies which are ex

to convey distinct, and, as far as possible, complete gels with the great passion familiar to his cluded from poetry, properly so called, may with own spirit; he could give them the theol- perfect propriety be introduced, and may be emogy and the skepticisin which agitated his ployed with much advantage not only by the own intellect, and there invention ceased. prose writer, but by the didactic poet, who is, in

fact, no poet at all.” His learning tills out the work coldly and heavily, the pedant and poet contending for Lessing quotes instances from Virgil of mastery; his detailed descriptions of things purely didactic and descriptive poetry, which without action, leave the imagination duu are only a more agreeable paraphrase of and stagnant; but when he puts in motion prose, and exhibit skill in language, and a the angelic hosts, we hear the clash of ar- knowledge of husbandry, and nothing more. mor, the sound of chariot-wheels, and the thunder of artillery-your bosoms burn with lineation of bodily objects – without the Homeric

“ Except in such cases as these, the detailed dethe ardor of the fight—and then the poet artifice of rendering co-existent parts actually con

ern cannon.

secutive, to which I have already alluded-—has portant figures are at rest. A forest scene always been regarded by the best critics as an may indicate the movement of a tempest so little or no genius is required. When the poetaster as to produce a perfect illusion, without viofeels himself at a loss, he sets to work, as Horace lating the unity and fixed lights and shadows tells us, to delineate a grove, an altar, a rivulet of the whole. There is a broad margin almeandering through pleasant meadows, a rapid lowed in all arts for an apparent departure stream, or perhaps a rainbow."

from their peculiar principles. “When the judgment of Pope had become matured by years and experience, he looked back,

One of the most brilliant chapters in this we are told, with great contempt on the pictorial work is the critique on the two descriptions essays of his youthful muse. He insisted that it of a shield-the shield of Achilles, by Howas indispensable for any one who desired to ren- mer, and the shield of Æneas, by Virgil

. der himself really worthy of the name of a poet, to renounce as early as possible the taste for dry delineation; and compared a merely descriptive

"Homer," says Lessing,“ has composed upwards poem to a feast composed of nothing but sauces.”

of a hundred magnificent verses in describing every circumstance connected with the shield of Achilles

-its form, the material of which it was composed, Lessing recommends that the poet who and the

figures with which its immense surface was has conceived a work in which a series of covered, so minutely, and so exactly, that modern images are brought forward, with sentiments sculptors have found no difficulty in executing imisparingly interwoven, should change his plan, This wonderful example of poetic painting is

tations of it, corresponding in every particular. and make his poem a series of sentiments cuted by Homer without the least departure from with but a slight admixture of images, But, the principle adhered to by him throughout his after all, the most perfect descriptive poem work. The shield is epically described that is to must consist of an indistinguishable mixture, say, created out of the rude

iron and brass, by the a perfect blending of imagery and senti- and successively into view; the orb rises from an ment.

edge to its full splendor. Homer brings before our The eighteenth section of our author's eyes not so much the shield itself

, however, as the work continues the subject. The practice divine artist who is employed in making it. We of certain painters who have represented in cannot forbear noticing, at this opportunity, that of one picture an entire story--as when Titian mechanical and agricultural labor are the most gives in one piece the entire story of the interesting and exquisitely wrought. The idea Prodigal Son; or as if Cole's four pictures of indignity or disgrace did not attach itself

, in the of the Course of Life had been blended into sublime age of the epos, to mechanical labor. The one piece—is condemned as an encroach- stigma seems to be feudal, and is certainly the

disgrace of our time. Thank God, we are ap ment of the painter upon the territory of the proaching a new age, when labor shall no longer poet, and serves to show that successions, not be a disgrace, but shall be dignified, as in heroic in time, but in space, are the proper sphere ages, by sages and poets, with the highest honors of the painter. "Lessing argues an equal and men are' free, when they have ceased to · love absurdity in those poetical descriptions which a lord; perhaps we shall have other heroes and give scenes without motion from object to poets, it may be, even greater than those of antiobject.

quity--but not while we are cursed with a servile And yet there is a certain liberty allowed, literature, and a more servile art. both to the painter and the poet. The with his hammer and pincers, and when he has

“ We see the divine artist approach the anvil painter may unite two distinct moments in finished forging the plate out of the rough ore, we the posture of a figure. The artist may have perceive the figures destined for their embellishthe sense and the courage to force a rule of ment, rising one after another from the surface art, in order to attain a greater perfection of beneath

the judicious strokes of his hammer. We expression. The poet may dwell momenta- labor is completed, and then the amazement with rily upon an object

, suspending, for a certain which we regard his work is mingled with the time, the entire movement of his piece. The confident faith of eye-witnesses to its execution.” painter may sometimes represent a falling body with effect, as has been done by Ho- Is not the above the finest piece of critigarth ; but these are accidental to the main cism that ever escaped a modern pen—the design, and rather heighten than impair the richest in suggestion, the most refined and harmony of the whole. Thus, the figures discriminating, and with the greatest possion the right and left of a picture, may seem ble breadth of appreciation Certainly to be in rapid action, while the more im- | nothing in Longinus approaches it, in com

prehensiveness; and to have surpassed Lon The twentieth section of the Laocoon, ginus is to have surpassed all critics, not following out the principle already laid down even excepting the favorite Goethe, whose by our author, prohibits the description of subtleties, entitled criticisms, show, indeed, personal beauty by the poet, except in the wonderful observation, but fall short in com- most general terms. Homer tells us that prehensiveness, in the place of which they Nireus was beautiful—that Achilles was have often only mysteriousness. In the still more so, and that the beauty of Helen criticism of Lessing, the artist finds laid open was divine. “Nowhere do we find him enfor him, and clearly expressed, the rules by tering into a circumstantial delineation of which he must work, if ever he succeed; these examples of beauty; yet the beauty rules derived not from speculation, but from of Helen was the very pivot on which turns a truly Baconian analysis (with an æsthetic the entire fabric of the poem. How luxuguidance) of the greatest works that have riantly would one of our modern poets have been produced.

dwelt on its details." These elaborate enVirgil's description of the shield of Æneas croachments upon the province of the painter is treated by Lessing with great severity, and create confusion, and confusion only, in the apparently with great justice. Moral sim- imagination. The painter or the statuary plicity of intention is wanting in the work. can alone give us the picture or the statue It is made a vehicle of flattery. Virgil in- of a Helen. After quoting an example troduces us to a view of the god Vulcan from the Italians of this kind of description, busied with the Cyclops, and produces a few Lessing draws a distinction between admiracelebrated lines. He then leads us off into tion for an artist and admiration for his a different scene; Venus and Æneas appear work. We may admire the artist for the together in conversation ; the shield is lean- knowledge he displays, and the beautiful ing against the trunk of an oak—it might materials he brings together; we may conhave been any other tree, or a rock. The demn the work from its failure to produce a hero Æneas has already inspected, and ad- powerful and simple effect upon the imaginmired, and handled the arms in a very com- ation. mon-place manner, which only excites the Beauty should be described in poetry by restless desire of the reader to get him out its effects alone, by the grace of its actions, of the way, and handle them for one's self. and by the admiration and the ardor which And then follows what Lessing pronounces it excites. to be a tame and tedious description, made The only remaining topic of general inby the poet, of the figures wrought upon terest touched upon in the Laocoon, is the the shield, while Venus and Æneas stand by, use of deformity as a subject in art. It is either whispering in a side scene, or with argued that deformity is not a fit subject for signs of great impatience, we may suppose, the painter or the statuary, but is very for the poet to have done with his tedious proper for the uses of poetry; to this, howciceronism and cease from making them ever, there must be certain liberties permitridiculous. “ Homer," says Lessing, “ makes ted, since deformity may be used to set off the god elaborate the decorations of the beauty, even in painting ; and we know that shield because he, the divine artist, with in the department of humorous painting, that high moral simplicity which character- deformity is employed with great effect. izes true art, desires to produce a piece of The examination of this part of the Laoworkmanship worthy of his skill.Virgil

, coön requires a separate treatment; and on the contrary, would lead us to imagine with every acknowledgment of his great that the shield was executed for the of genius, we here take our leave of the author the ornaments." A degradation of the ar- with a protest and reservation against these mor itself, of the poet, and of the divine artist, conclusions of his twenty-fourth and twentyHephistos.

fifth chapters.

J, D. W.



SINCE the conquest of Algiers by the civilization have made imperative, and which French, the Barbary Powers have become may be regarded as comparatively humane. wholly' insignificant among the nations of Both conducted like savages, and both disthe earth. They are virtually blotted from honored the religion they professed. No the roll of nations, and are hardly known cruelties were too severe to inflict on the except through history. A half century ago prisoners of either party. Christians were they held an important position, and if they reduced to the most abject and cruel slavery, did not command the respect of all Europe, while on the other hand Mohammedans they certainly made claims and enforced were compelled to suffer the severest torthem as no other civilized or half-civilized tures, and even death. But in this merciless nation would have dared to do. In their warfare the Barbary States always had the diplomatic relations they were peculiar- advantage. They were well fitted for a presetting at defiance the law of nations recog- datory warfare. They found ample protecnized by the civilized world, and adopting tion both in their mode of life and the natas their rule of action the piratical code. ural position of their country. War was the They were generally known by the name of means by which they lived, and though they Corsair States,-a name which they well were repulsed and their towns destroyed, yet earned by their piracies, cruelty and treach- they were never conquered. As soon as ery.

their enemies disappeared, they came forth It is not our purpose to give a particular from their hiding places, and were ready to description of these States. At the begin- plunder anew, and reduce their enemies to ning of the present century, the popu- captivity. lation consisted of several distinct races of By this warfare a system of Christian men, believers in the Mohammedan reli- slavery had grown up in the Barbary States, gion, and acknowledging a partial connec- which to

almost incredible. tion with the Turkish empire, though acting Europeans were slaves to Africans, and in a good degree independent of that gov- drank to the dregs the bitter cup which ernment. They had been Mohammedan such bondage imposed. What number of for more than ten centuries, and for a Christian slaves there were at any one time long period were the terror of all Europe. in those States we have now no information. They pushed their conquests into Spain, and In the beginning of the sixteenth century remained the possessors and masters of a there were 30,000 employed in building the portion of that country for several hundred mole which connects Algiers with an island years, contending with the Christian, and in its harbor; and at the destruction of Tunis attempting to supplant his religion. It was in 1635, ten thousand were liberated by the not till the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella army of Charles V. They were engaged in that the Moors were expelled from Spain the construction of all the public works, and for ever, and that Europe began to feel that performed the most severe as well as servile Mohammedan power had extended to its tasks. So grievous had it become that all utmost limits.

Europe suffered. The Pope offered pardon It is not at all surprising that the constant to all who should undertake a deliverance to warfare between the Christians and Moham- the captives, and immediate entrance into medans had created a feeling of hostility be- paradise to all who fell in so laudable an tween them, which neither a sense of justice undertaking. The army of Charles V. or humanity could control. At first it is sisted of 30,000 selected troops from Gerprobable that both parties were alike regard- many, Italy, and Spain, and in the destrucless of those rules of war which modern tion of Tunis it apparently gained a most




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