Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the minds and conversation of such persons, are attributable to causes and circumstances not necessarily connected with "their occupations and abode.” The thoughts, feelings, language, and manners of the shepherd-farmers in the vales of Cumberland and Westmoreland, as far as they are actually adopted in those poems, may be accounted for from causes, which will and do produce the same results in every state of life, whether in town or country. As the two principal I rank that independence, which raises a man above servitude, or daily toil for the profit of others, yet not above the necessity of industry and a frugal simplicity of domestic life; and the accompanying unambitious, but solid and religious, education, which has rendered few books familiar, but the Bible, and the Liturgy or Hymn book. To this latter cause, indeed, which is so far accidental, that it is the blessing of particular countries and a particular age, not the product of particular places or employments, the poet owes the shew of probability, that his personages might really feel, think, and talk with any tolerable resemblance to his representation. It is an excellent remark of Dr. Henry More's, that "a man of confined education, but of good parts, by constant reading of the Bible will naturally form a more winning and commanding rhetoric than those that are learned; the intermixture of tongues and of artificial phrases debasing their style."

"3

3 [Enthusiasmus Triumphatus, Sect. xxxv. "For a man illiterate, as he was,* but of good parts, by constant reading of the Bible will naturally contract a more winning and commanding Rhetorick than those that are learned, the intermixture of tongues and of artificial phrases deforming their style, and making it

* [This is spoken of the enthusiast, David George, who was born at Delph; died 1556. S. C.]

It is, moreover, to be considered that to the formation of healthy feelings, and a reflecting mind, negations involve impediments not less formidable than sophistication and vicious intermixture. I am convinced, that for the human soul to prosper in rustic life a certain vantage-ground is pre-requisite. It is not every man that is likely to be improved by a country life or by country labours. Education, or original sensibility, or both, must pre-exist, if the changes, forms, and incidents of nature are to prove a sufficient stimulant. And where these are not sufficient, the mind contracts and hardens by want of stimulants; and the man becomes selfish, sensual, gross, and hardhearted. Let the management of the Poor Laws in Liverpool, Manchester, or Bristol be compared with the ordinary dispensation of the poor rates in agricultural villages, where the farmers are the overseers and

sound more after the manner of men, though ordinarily there may be more of God in it than in that of the enthusiast." p. 34, Ed. London, 1656. Dr. Henry More, the friend and colleague of Cudworth was born in 1614, died 1687. He was educated in Christ College, Cambridge, in which University he spent his life. His theological works,-the chief of which are The Mystery of Godliness and A Modest Inquiry into the Mystery of Iniquity, a detailed argument against the Church of Rome,-fill one large folio volume, and his philosophical writings are numerous. He studied Plotinus and, rejecting the doctrines of Aristotle and the scholastics, sought the principles of divine philosophy in the writings of the Platonists. Their teaching and that of the ancient Cabbalists he traced to the same source, the Hebrew Prophets, whose doctrines he believed to have been transmitted to Pythagoras and from him to Plato. Though an opponent of mystics and enthusiasts, his own mind had a strong tendency to mysticism; he was profoundly learned and of a most contemplative spirit. Cousin says that in combating the errors of Des Cartes and Spinoza he shewed great respect for the genius of these two philosophers. S. C.]

guardians of the poor. If my own experience have not been particularly unfortunate, as well as that of the many respectable country clergymen with whom I have conversed on the subject, the result would engender more than scepticism concerning the desirable influences of low and rustic life in and for itself. Whatever may be concluded on the other side, from the stronger local attachments and enterprising spirit of the Swiss, and other mountaineers, applies to a particular mode of pastoral life, under forms of property that permit and beget manners truly republican, not to rustic life in general, or to the absence of artificial cultivation. On the contrary the mountaineers, whose manners have been so often eulogized, are in general better educated and greater readers than men of equal rank elsewhere. But where this is not the case, as among the peasantry of North Wales, the ancient mountains, with all their terrors and all their glories, are pictures to the blind, and music to the deaf.

I should not have entered so much into detail upon this passage, but here seems to be the point, to which all the lines of difference converge as to their source and centre ;-I mean, as far as, and in whatever respect, my poetic creed does differ from the doctrines promulgated in this preface. I adopt with full faith, the principle of Aristotle, that poetry, as poetry, is essentially1 ideal,5 that it avoids and excludes all accident;

[Mr. Coleridge here quoted, in a foot note, from the first edition of The Friend the passage "Say not that I am recommending abstractions," to the end of the paragraph, which occurs in the Second of the Letters from Germany, placed near the end of this volume.]

5 [See Poetic. s. 18. Φανερὸν δὲ ἐκ τῶν εἰρημένων, καὶ ὅτι οὐ τὸ τὰ γενόμενα λέγειν, τοῦτο ποιητοῦ ἔργον ἐστὶν, ἀλλ ̓ οἷα ἂν γένοιτο, καὶ τὰ δυνατὰ κατὰ τὸ εἰκὸς, ἢ τὸ ἀναγ

'that its apparent individualities of rank, character, or occupation must be representative of a class; and that the persons of poetry must be clothed with generic attributes, with the common attributes of the class; not with such as one gifted individual might possibly possess, but such as from his situation it is most probable before-hand that he would possess." If my

καῖον.

Διὸ καὶ φιλοσοφώτερον καὶ σπουδαιότερον ποίησις ἱστορίας ἐστίν. Ἡ μὲν γὰρ ποίησις μᾶλλον τὰ καθόλου, ἡ δ ̓ ἱστορία τὰ καθ ̓ ἕκαστον λέγει. Εστι δὲ καθόλου μὲν, τῷ ποίῳ τὰ ποῖ ̓ ἅττα συμβαίνει λέγειν, ἢ πράττειν, κατὰ τὸ εἰκὸς, ἢ τὸ ἀναγκαῖον, οὗ στοχάζεται ἡ ποίησις, ονόματα ἐπιτιθεμένη· τὰ δὲ καθ ̓ ἕκαστον, τί ̓Αλκιβιάδης ἔπραξεν, ἢ τί ἔπαθεν. Ed.

It appears from what has been said, that the object of the poet is not to relate what has actually happened, but what may possibly happen, either with probability or from necessity. The difference between the poet and the historian does not arise from one writing in verse and the other in prose; for if the work of Herodotus were put into verse, it would be no less a history than it is in prose. But they differ in this, that one relates what has actually been done, the other what may be done. Poetry, therefore, is more philosophical and instructive than history. Poetry speaks more of general things, and history of particular. By general things I mean what any person of such a character would probably and naturally say or do in such a situation; and this is what poetry aims at even in giving names to the characters. By particular things I mean what any individual, as Alcibiades, for instance, either acted or suffered in reality. Pye's Translation. S. C.]

6 ["It is Shakespeare's peculiar excellence, that throughout the whole of his splendid picture gallery-(the reader will excuse the acknowledged inadequacy of this metaphor)--we find individuality everywhere, mere portrait nowhere. In all his various characters we still feel ourselves communing with the same nature, which is everywhere present as the vegetable sap in the branches, sprays, leaves, buds, blossoms, and fruits, their shapes, tastes, and odours. Speaking of the effect, that is, his works themselves, we may define the excellence of their

premises are right and my deductions legitimate, it follows that there can be no poetic medium between the swains of Theocritus and those of an imaginary golden age.

8

The characters of the vicar and the shepherd-mariner in the poem of THE BROTHERS," and that of the shepherd of Green-head Ghyll in the MICHAEL, have all the verisimilitude and representative quality, that the purposes of poetry can require. They are persons of a known and abiding class, and their manners and sentiments the natural product of circumstances com mon to the class. Take Michael for instance:

[ocr errors]

An old man stout of heart, and strong of limb.
His bodily frame had been from youth to age
Of an unusual strength: his mind was keen,
Intense, and frugal, apt for all affairs,

And in his shepherd's calling he was prompt
And watchful more than ordinary men.
Hence he had learned the meaning of all winds,
Of blasts of every tone; and oftentimes
When others heeded not, He heard the South
Make subterraneous music, like the noise
Of bagpipers on distant Highland hills.

The Shepherd, at such warning, of his flock
Bethought him, and he to himself would say,
The winds are now devising work for me!'
And, truly, at all times, the storm, that drives
The traveller to a shelter, summoned him
Up to the mountains: he had been alone
Amid the heart of many thousand mists,

That came to him and left him on the heights.

method as consisting in that just proportion, that union and interpenetration of the universal and the particular, which must ever pervade all works of decided and true science." The Friend, III. pp. 121-2. Ed.]

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »