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mly, or as a restricted trade. Few have my faith in philosophy as the original and ightful mistress of life. Few have any inn, solid belief in the reality of ideas, as mything more than the generalizations of lease, or the wisely calculated results of ommon utilitarian experience. He is
•tinted too generally to be the best phiosopher, whose thinking is found to move nost fully in the orbit of the common unlerstandlng, while it shows itself at the ame time most skillful in discerning the elation between means and end, and is :rowned at last with the largest percent»ge, in the way of practical benefit and profit. The bearing of all this on our national life, is sufficiently plain in every direction. Our literature and science, our economics and politics, nay, our very eth►s and divinity, are all made to suffer in the same way. They are not properly scientific.
The defect is particularly obvious and worthy of notice, in our general system of education. Whatever advantages this may possess in other respects, it is charactertied almost universally by a sad want of true philosophical spirit. The idea of a -fparate department or faculty of philosophy, as necessary to complete the conception of a university education, is almost gwe from our minds. The prejudice of tradition is indeed too strong, to allow its total banishment from our colleges, in an open and formal way. Every institution l«ti itself bound to include in its course
of studies something which it is pleased to dignify with the title of philosophy, in the shape particularly of metaphysics and ethics, as a sort of crowning distinction in honor of the Senior year. But the crown, alas! is not what it "ought to be, the keystone of the academic arch, that binds and supports the whole; it is at best an outside ornament simply, of most light and airy structure, set loosely on its summit, of which, in a short time, no trace whatever is to be fonnd. We may safely say, that the way in which philosophy is taught and studied in our colleges generally, is suited only to bring it into discredit. It stands in no organic connection with the course as a whole; it is handled in the most mechanical and external way, as a thing of simple memory and report; and to complete the misery, it is acknowledged only in a form which subverts its whole sense, by substituting for it a poor parody that is wholly unworthy of its name. In its own nature the most earnest of interests, it is thus metamorphosed into the most frivolous and trivial. We need not wonder, that in such circumstances, it should appear shorn of all strength. We need not wonder, that the interest of liberal study generally, deprived in this way of its proper tout, should be made to suffer at every point. An earnest philosophy is indispensable to an earnest education, as through this again it is indispensable to all real earnestness in life. J. W. N.
Laining to most traits of character in our celestial antipodes, what they consider elegant poetic writing, we should class with the maxims of poor Richard. "Keaou Seen Sang," says the Rev. Mr. Smith, a late traveller, "seemed to revel in a paradisc of self-complacency, as we sat to listen to his magniloquent intonations of the classics. The impassioned gesture and literary enthusiasm of Keaou, would have led us to believe that his mental enjoyment was very great, and the ideas conveyed by the composition very sublime. But, on translating the immortal fragment, it was frequently found to consist of some such sentiment as these: 'He who makes just agreements, can fulfill his promises; he who behaves with reverence and propriety, puts shame and disgrace to a distance; he who loses not the friendship of those whom he ought to treat with kindness and respect, may be a master.'" These are very sensible worldly maxims, but they are certainly not much more poetic to us than "Time is money," " An honest man's the noblest work of God," or uny of the points and antitheses which may occur in poetry, and belong to it, but can exist without it—the pure products of the raised intellect. So, if we are content to seek nearer than China for an illustration, we may discern that what is poetry to one is not so to another; for who has not seen eyes suffused by the recitation of ballads of the most silly character possible? Political elections often engender serious poems of this sort. The Miller doctrine was a myth that gave birth to hymns at once lofty and laughable. The temple of the Mormons, no doubt, echoed to the songs of bards.
In the multitude of tastes between these extreme productions and those of Shakspeare and Milton, there can never be a consensus omnium as to the true definition of Poetry, any more than there can be among artists as to what are the requisites of High Art. There is, however, a constant tendency towards such an unanimous agreement, as generations rise up from youth to age, through the experience of passion and the growth of reason. It is very well settled that the names we have just mentioned stand at the head of our poetic literature. Some college students prefer Byron—others Tennyson; Milton
they almost universally consider very pedantic and dry; and although they cannot but admit there are some humorous characters in Shakspeare, they would rather see him on the stage than read him. As they grow up into life, however, if they continue (as, alas! but few of them in in our spreading country,) to love literary studies, they see more and more of the greatness of these wonderful men, and acquiesce more and more in the general verdict of the world. Thus the proces forever goes on, the pure art of poetry standing before the race like a pillar cf fire, seen by all, but seen best by those who are in the van, or now and then seen best of all by the far-reaching eye of genius.
There was one not many years ago that saw it, as it would seem, in its very purity; who had approached, with his self-consciousness all awake, into its empyreal circle, and could define its form and fiiiu qualities and limits—Coleridge, the most poetic of philosophers, and the most profound and candid of critics. His mind seemed peculiarly formed to be at once the exhibiterand expounder of the highest forms of poetry; he could assume the lyric frenzy, and could analyze it also; he not only wooed the pure muse successfully, but without losing his own heart; be united, in short, in one person, the rarest qualities of artist and critic, actor and reflector, doer and observer. The definition of poetry he has given in his Biographia Literaria, and especially in the volume containing the immortal criticism of Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads, is one whose excellence appeals to a man's individual growth in the same manner with that of all the great models of art, T«.' >! grows better by time, and is more understood the more it is studied. Few person; in active life have leisure to read Coleridge; indeed, it is questionable whether his peculiar, minutely guarded, yet eloquent, philosophical style should be recommended to young persons engaged in active literary or professional pursuits; be is a writer who were perhaps better left to those who cannot avoid him. Any sw1 one who may have fancied that he to"? comprehended the distinctions in the defin1' tion we are speaking of several years af1will probably find on re-reading the p**sage, ample argument for modesty in the retrospection. And this will arise, not from a certain theory's wedding itself to his mind and confining it to a particular track, but simply from his own personal experience of life ; he will understand them better, as he does his Milton and Shakspeare, not from their having educated him, but from his having grown older and thought and suffered more. It is our purpose to recur briefly to these distinctions and principles, culling out and explaining some of the most important of them, and then to apply them to the work under review.
In the first chapter of the second volume of the Biographia, a new edition of which has just been issued by the Messrs. Wiley k Putnam, after a short account of the origin of the Lyrical Ballads, the author proceeds to explain his ideas, first, of a Pom, secondly, of Poetry itself, in kind and in essence. Of a poem he observes: First. That it must be in metre or rhyme, or both; it must have the superficial form. Secondly. Its immediate purpose must be the communication of pleasure. But, thirdly. " The communication of pleasure may be the object of a work not metrically composed, as in novels and romances. Would, then, the mere superaddition of metre, with or without rhyme, entitle these to the name of poems? The answer is, (and this distinction we italicize, that the reader may observe it carefully,) that nothing can permanently please which ilcet not contain in itself the reason why it is to, and not otherwise. If metre be super•dded, all other parts must be made consonant with it. They must be such as to justify the perpetual and distinct attention to each part, which an exact correspondent recurrence of accent and sound are calculated to excite. The final definition, then. » deduced, may be thus worded: A po«m is that species of composition, which is opposed to works of science, by proposing for its immediate object pleasure, not truth; and from all other species (having 'Ail object in common with it) it is discriminated by proposing to itself such delight from the whole, as is compatible with a distinct gratification from each component pari."
The discrimination here made seems to cover too much; for the gratification re
ceived from each part in a true poem must be such as is also compatible with the delight to be inspired by the whole; each must help each and all. But the philosopher does not overlook this in his next paragraph: "If a man chooses to call every composition a poem, which is rhyme, or measure, or both, I must leave his opinion uncontroverted. The distinction is at least competent to characterize the writer's intention. If it were subjoined, that the whole is likewise entertaining or affecting, as a tale, or a series of interestiug reflections, I of course admit that this is another fit ingredient of a poem, and an additional merit. But if the definition sought for be that of a legitimate poem, I answer, it must be one, the parts of which mutually support and explain each other; all in their proportion harmonizing with, and supporting, the purpose and known influences of metrical arrangement. The philosophic critics of all ages coincide with the ultimate judgment of all countries, in equally denying the praises of a just poem, on the one hand, to a series of striking lines or distichs, each of which, absorbing the whole attention of the reader to itself, disjoins it from its context, and makes it a separate whole, instead of an harmonizing part; and on the other hand, to an unsustained composition, from which the reader collects rapidly the general result, unattracted by the component parts. The reader should be carried forward, not merely, or chiefly, by the mechanical impulse of curiosity, or by a restless desire to arrive at the final solution; but 'by the pleasurable activity of mind, excited by the attractions of the journey itself. Like the motion of a serpent, which the Egyptians made the emblem of intellectual power; or like the path of sound through the air ; at every step he pauses, and half recedes, and, from the retrogressive movement, collects the force which again carries him onward. Precipitandus est liber spiritus, says Petronius Arbiter, most happily. The epithet liber, here balances the preceding verb; and it is not easy to conceive more meaning, condensed in fewer words."
We have quoted largely this characteristic passage for its beautiful clearness and breadth and condensation of thought. But the definition, it must be remembered, is after all only of a poem, and is intended to distinguish that species of ■writing from prose. Evangeline, and many works far inferior to it, come indisputably within the definition. If we wish to examine what are the elements of a great poem, we shall find them in the succeeding and concluding paragraphs of the chapter, under the definition of poetry. Of course the excellence of a poem as a work of art must be determined by the manner in which it develops those elements. After the form, the question is, how far is the piece poetic? Or the examination might be reversely thus: after considering how far the piece is poetic, the only other question must be, how far is the form born of and consonant with the quality of the piece as poetry? For in poetry the form and the spirit are in reality inseparable, and the task of considering them apart, to which our minds are compelled by the infirmity of their constitution, while it is the only way by which we arrive at a clear understanding of the whole subject, leads necessarily through a labyrinth of distinctions in which it is hardly possible to thread one's way without errors.
We might now consider the form of Evangeline, and its general keeping, and its intellectual ability and merit as a work of taste; the definitions already given being, as we consider, for such an examination, the best standard. But as all these qualities should be subordinate to, and created by, Poetry, we must go still further into the matter abstractly before descending into particulars. Poetry is to all the other qualities what charity is to human abilities; without it all is "sounding brass." It is the fatherof all metres ; all varieties of rhyme are but its outward limbs and flourishes. Let us abandon ourselves once more to the guidance of the adventurous explorer, whose soul lived in the tropics of passion, while at the same time his mind wandered clear and unchilled in the darkest and coldest zones of thought.
"What is poetry? is so nearly the same question with, what is a poet? that the answer to the one is involved in the Bolution of the other. For it is a distinction resulting from the poetic genius itself, which sustains and modifies the images, thoughts and emotions of the Bop*'- -^mmind. The poet, described in ideal brings the whole soul of man into
activity, with the subordination of its faculties to each other, according to their relative worth and dignity. He diffuses a tone and spirit of unity, that blends, and (as it were) fuses, each into each, by that synthetic and magical power, to which we have exclusively appropriated the name of imagination. This power, first put in action by the will and understanding, and retained under their irremissive, though gentle and unnoticed, control, (laxis effertur habenis,) reveals itself in the balance or reconciliation of opposite or discordant qualities; of sameness, with difference ; of the general, with the concrete; the idea, with the image ; the individual, with the representative; the sense of novelty and freshness, with old and familiar objects; a more than usual state of emotion, with more than usual order; judgment ever awake, and steady self-possession, with enthusiasm and feeling profound-or vehement; and while it blends and harmonizes the natural and the artificial, still subordinates art to nature -, the manner to the matter ; and our admiration of the poet to our sympathy with the poetry."
"Finally, Good Sense is the Body of poetic genius, Fancy its Drateby, Motion its Life, and Imagination the Soul, that is everywhere, and in each; and forms all into one graceful and intelligent whole."
To make this perfectly clear, it would be necessary to read, or rather study, the chapters in the preceding volume of the Biographia, leading to the discussion of the esemplastic power, up to the point where the author wisely writes himself a letter, advising him to proceed no further— a task we would recommend to none who are not already somewhat versed in metaphysical reading, and have not smattered away the original confidence in their ignorance, which is the surest guide to knowledge. Let us reverently endeavor to explain what he means by the Imagination which is the soul of poetic genius, and the Fancy which is its drapery. In common parlance these words are used interchangeably: here their meanings are widely different. If the important words in this final sentence are fully understood, we are under no apprehension of being unintelligible, when we speak of the genius of Mr. Longfellow.
What is meant by " good sense" is clear; we understand a vigilant presiding reason, having the common knowledge of the world in greater or less degree under its control: in some of our modern small poets animal feeling seems to take its place, and we then have poems very well sustained, rery well clothed, moving very gracefully, but for all that extremely weak and nonsensical. What is meant by motion is also perfectly plain; but the other two words are less easily distinguished, and no man can understand them fully, unless he possesses them in a conscious degree himself, which very many do not Let us go back to the concluding definitions in the first volume, already referred to :—" The Imam NaTion, then, I consider either as primary or secondary. The primary Imagination, 1 hold to be the living power and prime Agent of all human Perception, and as a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I Am." That is to say, as we understand it, it is that first principle in the mind of man, which enables him to say, "I exist;" over this the will has no control. "The secondary 1 consider as an echo of the former, co-existing with conscious will, yet still as identical with tae primary in the kind of its agency, and differing only in degree, and in the mode of its operation. It dissolves, diffuses, dissipates, in order to re-create; or, where this process is rendered impossible, yet still, at all events, it struggles to ideolue and to unify. It is essentially nlal," etc. "Fancy, on the contrary, has no other counters to play with, but fixities find definities. The fancy is, indeed, no other than a mode of memory emancipated from the order of time and space, and blended with, and modified by, that empirical phenomenon of the will, which we express by the word Choice. But, equally with the ordinary memory, it must receive nil its materials ready-made from the law of association."
In brief, it is to the imagination that we owe the attaining power in poetry, and to tie fancy its imagery. The imagination » the wing—the fancy, the plumage; that is, considering them as distinct qualities, like the "organs" of the phrenologis*. Bat they unite in all proportions, and in all degrees of submission to the primary consciousness. Where the poet, in the '•pen day, with the disappointments of the past, the distraction of the present, and the hopelessness of the future around him; with his judgment all awake, his memory tlored with learning and his fancy teeming
with images; can resolutely cast himself loose and abandon himself to a rapture that is feigned and yet real—that despises reason, yet never goes beyond it—that in short sets the whole of the faculties of his nature into intense activity—it is by the strength of his imagination that he is enabled to do it; and it is according as this faculty of his mind is put forth, that we feel his power. In some, it is exerted with less of the will than in others. Shakspeare's imagination carried him quite beyond consciousness, so that he utters the divinest songs without knowing it; Milton's had more of the dull clay to contend with, but then, with an Atlas-like strength, he bears the burden to-the very sky. Coleridge himself is another splendid example of the power of the faculty he has analyzed. He must have had an almost infinitely greater tenacity of conscious reason to overcome than ordinary men, yet when he does rise, how strong is his flight! He reminds one, though the reader will smile at the application, of what the French Lord says of Parolles, in All's Well that Ends Well: "Is it possible he should know what he is, and be that he is?" Like his own Albatross, he is an unwieldy bird; but when he is once on the wing, " thorough the fog," or on the good south wind, he wins his way with an unconquerable vigor.
Wherever this strength is put forth, and under whatever variety of obstacles, it never fails to be felt. It is indeed " the faculty divine." Whether exerted with more or less of learning, in poetry or prose, in writing or in any other art, or in actual life, it is at once perceived and its force measured according to its degree. It is the contact of soul with soul. In life, it is the essence of character. Men do not affect each other through dry intellect; it is not by argument alone that they sway each other; it is by the strength of the imagination. Some men have weak intellects combined with great force of character: it is almost miraculous what a power they will exert over those around them. In some this power develops itself, through a rough nature, in violence and impetuosity; in others it works smoothly. It makes the tunes, with which, in this jangled and discordant world, the spirits of men play upon each