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• Many critics have employed their talents in making comparison between Demothenes and Tully. . All of them agree in attributing to the former concileness, and to the latter diffufion : and according to this judgment, they have not heitated to give the preference to the Athenian. The concile vehenience of Demolinenes carried all before it by violence; the prolixity of Cicero gained ground by the fófs arts of infinuation. The effect of the former was sudden and irrefillible, thai of the latter, weak and dilatory.
• In che denozem.cat of a modern tragedy, vie find the heroes and heroines exprefling their grief in pompous declamation. But notwithilanding the actor mouths out his plaints in all the grandeur of leng hered periods, and with all the vehemence of tudied action, the audience frequently fi. unmored, and are more disposed to smile than weep. In the dous Tyrannus of Sophocles, Jocalla, when he discovers her own and her husband's situation, as deplorable as can well be conceived, immediately reiites from the fage, repeating only these few words---Has! alas! unhappy man-ihis only can I say
- henceforth for ever silence." Corneille would have put, at leait, fifty lines into her mouth, without half the effect!
Si C. far, who handled the pen with as much fkill as the sword, has gained more general applaute from one sentence in the laconic, ftile, than from all his comnicntaries. Çould the length of a polished period, and the tediculness of exact narration, more clearly, more foic bly, and more agreeably have expressed the rapidity of a concueit, than the thort fin:ence-" I came, I saw, I conquered :”. In the original it is flill n:ore emphatical, because the idiom of the Latin language allows the omiffion of the pronoun before the verbs.
Military harangues derive their chief beauty from an expressive brevity. Lly abounds with fhort speeches, confifting of bardly more than half a dozen voids, in which generals animated their fol., diers to rush on tod:rg rand death. But antient history affords no instance so ilriking is ihat of a French officer, who thus addrefed his, men immedizidly locure an attack---" I am your general-you are “ Frenchmen-it.cy .citococmy."
Cincileness of narration, whether in writing or in speaking, is 3 mark of truth. To inueduce a multitude of proofs and asseverations, is tacitly to confeis, thac the affertion stands in great need of corroboration. One of our Englih fects, which professes a singular love of truth and plain dealing, has almost made it a ténet of their religion to use no otler words in denying, or asserting, than the simple particles of negation and afirmacion: and a poet of antiquity remarks, that may promises and profetions, instead of strengthening, weaken our belief. A plain country gentleman in my hearing, the other day, told a man, who had been relating fome extraordinary fiory, that he ihould readily hare believed him, had he not taken so much pains to puifuade bim i: was true..
• They who have trave'led, know that the French, in the profu. fion of their politeness, make many offers on purpose to be refused.
* Iου, ίου, δυσανε. τουτο γαρ σ' έχω
Ac IV. Scene iii.
The Pariban tells you, " he is your servant, your slave, he wijl die. for your fake;" but thould you really stand in need of his audince, it is a doubt whe:her he will give himself the least trouble to alleviate your distress, or disentangle your embarassment:- but an Englitimian will secretly do you a piece of service, and be diitreiled wild the exe: pressions of your gratitude. The former will overwhelm you with. profeffions of friendship, without the least real regard; the latter will: be furly, and at the same time go all lengths in foothing your fore. rows and relieving your wants.
• Bluntness is faid to be one of the characteristics of the English, and is allowed to be a natural consequence of their fincerity. Should a plain honest farmer hear a modern fine gentleman paying his compliments, and fould he be told, that all his fine fpeeches were inItances of politeness; he would probably conclude that policeness was a refined word, fubiicuted in the place of the groffer appellation of lying
. But these effects of brevity and conciseness, are not to be found. only in writing and conversation. There is fomething analogous to them in the arts of painting and sculpture. There is a concealment and shading, which sets off more beautifully, and displays more cléarly, than an open, 'an undisguised, a glasing representation. Timanthes took for the subject of a picture, the facrifice of Iphigenia at Aulis. He gave a degree of grief to the spectators, proportionate: co the nearness, or distance of relation, to the lovely victim. Thus be had exhausted the paflion before he came to the father, and, a: a loss to express a fufficient anguish, he represented the disconsolate parent concealing his face in the folds of his garments.
Were the cause of the good effeóts of conciseness to be inveli.. gated, it might perhaps be found no other than the pleasure which a reader, or spectator, takes in having fomcthing left for his own sagacity to diicover. The mind greedily snatches at a hint, and des lights to enlarge upon it; but frigid is the employınent of aicending: to those productions, the authors of which have laboured every thing inso fuch perspicuity, that the observer has no:hing to do bus barely to look on. Things may be too obvious to excire attention. The fun, the moon, and the stars, rol over our heads every day witho'lc attracting our notice; but we survey with cager curiotity, a comety an eclipse, or any other extraordinary phænomenon in nature.'
Although the critical observations interspersed throughout. these effays are in general extremely judicious, we cannot but think that the Author's veneration for the ancients has fome-' times milled him, particularly in the essay on the Fluctuation of taste, in which he cenfures with great afperity some of our modern poets, for departing from the anticnt models.
• Gray and Mason, says our Author, have, at length, profesiedly adopted the clinquant, to the exclusion of the simplicity of clasic elegance. Nor can the general reception their works have met wiih, be matter of surprize; for let it be remembered, that there have been times, when ihe complicated deformity of Gothic building was preferred to the regular symmetry of Grecian architecture.
• The elegy in a couniry church yard, breathes a spirit of melanstiply wh ch Hatters the imagination of an E: glishman, It is folemn,
it is picturesque : but after all, it is thought, by fome, to be no more than a confused heap of splendid ideas, thrown together without order and without proportion; and to resemble the loose jewels in the artist's caket before they are formed into a diadem, The Odes of the same author, said to be more unintelligible than the anigma of a sphinx, are in the same predicament, and prefent to the mind ideas similar to those which arise from a survey of the clouds empurpled by the setting fun. The variegated hues are indeed beauriful; but they quickly vanish, and leave no idea but that of a tranfient assemblage of visionary colours.
• Mason has a so sometimes shewn, that he is capable of true claflical poetry. But the taste of the age, and the example of his friend, have led him into the fields of fancy, where he has soared, on the pinions of poetry, far above the aching light of common sense.
• The common herd of poets have followed the tract of their supesiors. The numerous contributors to our poetical collections, in the same gaudy ityle, have soared in Odes, and wept in Elegies : and the importer Macpherson has completed the work, with the nonfenfical jargon of his Olian.
• This seems to have been the tafte which prevailed immediately before that which now begins to dawn upon us, and to promise a sevival of pure Attic and Auguftan wit. It is true, the glimmerings are yet but faint. We may, however, venture to assure ourselves of approaching day at the first appearance of the crepuscles of twilight. To drop the figure, the favourable reception of the Travel
Ter, and the Deserted Village, poems very different from the produce tions of the Grays and Masons of the age, gives reason to prognofti. cate a return to the long forsakea imitation of Greece and Rome. Even these poems I ain far from deeming faultless in their kind. They are however, in fome meafure, formed on the antient model, and have obtained a popularity, which points are sufficiens for our present argument. The Grays and Malons have still many favou rers, and that these should deny Goldsmith the smallest degree of poetical merit, is not surprizing, tince they who can admire che enflure. of the former poets, are incapacitated from relishing the fimplicity of the latter ; as those who riot in the banquets of princes, and gluttons, have no appetite for the plain, but wholesome viands of the rural cottager.
• Whatever may be the execution of these pooms, the defign is laudable; and the poet might have feliciiated himself, as instrumental to the banishinent of cwo enormous absurdities from the republic of letters; the barbarism of Gothic poetry, and the dramatic monlter of weeping comedy.
i Thar å taste for classical composition may be revived, every ra. tional critic will ardently wish: since every rational critic will dare to assert, in spite of the imputation of pedantic bigo:ry, that to deviate from the ancients is to deviate from excellence.'
Though we would, by no means, be thought deficient in respect for the antients, we cannot allow them to be fo far entiiled to the honours of infallibility, that it ought to be deemed
violation of their sacred rights, to deviate in any instance from their example. To acknowledge their works the standard of perfection, is voluntarily to bind ourselves with chains, and to subject the fine arts to the same kind of restrictions, which have been sometimes attempted in philosophy, and which have so often proved of the most pernicious consequence in religion. But, even if we were to measure the merit of modern poets. by the degree of their conformity to the models of antiquity, it would perhaps be found, upon a fair enquiry, that the poems of Gray and Malon, are not farther removed from simplicity than many of the most admired writings of the antients. If this term (fo frequently used without any determinate idea) were accurately defined, and its station in poetical merit clearly ascertained, it would, we apprehend, appear, that fimplicity is not the characteristic excellence of the Æneid of Virgil, or even of the more poetical parts of Homer's Iliad, and, that in many species of poetry, if the writer had more fimplicity, his work would be lefs perfect. : If the Odes and Elegies of Gray or Mason are in some parts obscure, where is the writer among the ancients in the same walks of poetry, who has equal merit, and less obscurity? Is not obscurity in fome degree a necesary consequence of those unusual combinations of ideas, and bold flights of fancy, which constitute the chief merit of poetry.
But if the censure which gave occasion to these remarks be thought to indicate some degree of prejudice in criticism, the following passage will be deemed a still more reprehensible inItance of prejudice in sentiment. Declaiming on the inconveniences which have arisen from the art of printing, our Author fays, that. It has enabled modern authors wantonly to gratify their avarice, their vanity, and their misanthropy, in dirfeminating novel systems, subversive of the dignity and happi. ness of human nature;' and that the perversion of the art is lamentably remarkable, in those volumes which issue with offenQve profufion, from the vain and hungry book-manufacturers of North-Britain and Switzerland.' Such illiberal reflections, and local partialities, are unworthy of the scholar and the philolopher.
In some instances the Author suffers his command of words to betray him into the pompous and turgid style; of which the following are ludicrous examples. • The English language abounds with Saxon monofyllables, very improper for the liquid lapse of mellifluous cadence."—“A man of now understanding can stop to investigate obscurity step by step."-" The most fao shionable taylor is investigated.'
We observe many seeming imitations of the Johnsonian manner in these pieces; but whatever may be their merit, (and it is, certainly, not inconsiderable) we cannot compliment the Writer
so far as to pronounce them worthy of a place on the same Inelf with The Rambler.
E, Art. XI. Jamaica ; A Poem ; u ritten in the year 1776. To which
is added, a poetical Epistle from the Author, in ihat Iiland, to his friend in England. 4to, 1s. od. Niccil. 1777. HIS
young * Poct' having gone,' as his preface informs us, 'to our principal fettlement in the West Indies, at a very carly period, was no less captivated with the beauty of the inand, and the deliciousness of the fruits, than disgusted with the cruelty of the planters, and the miseries of the Naves: the first he hcre endeavours to celebrate, the last to condemn.'-He adds, 'to do justice to the fair ladies of the sugar islands, to renove the vulgar prejudices of narrow minds, to inspire the inhabitants with more generous feelings toward the sooty race, and to advile the planters (for their own and the inter fts of humanity) to adopt a mediocrity of punishmnet worthy the citizens of a free and independent empire, and the partakers of mild and equitable laws, these are the motives that induced me to attempt this subject.' • We applaud this young gentleman's humanity more than his poetry. He is, sometimes, tolerably descriptive, and there is frequently a degree of melody and animation in his numbers; yet his virgin muse has, upon the whole, rather an ungraceful gait, and her movements often sink into downright hobbling. The rhimes, too, are in some instances, intolerable. What ear can bear such couplets as the following:
• Pregnant with future wealth the canes arise,
And fancy form, when nature leads the way.' p. 14. The elision which clips the muse' bold wing, goes beyond all poetic licence. Equally unacceptable are the Author's
tropic fruits, nurs’d 'neath a torrid ky.' In describing, however, the delicious fruits of Jamaica, we meet with some luscious expressions that would make the jolly. common-council men of Candlewick and Portsoken wards, with deputy Fouch and alderman Guttle at their head, lick their lips with longing approbation :
the vegetable pear!
* The Author p eads the age of eighteen,' in excuse for the dcfects of his maiden performance.