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Hark! how the sacred calm that breathes around, I destined to perish at sea, published The
Shipwreck, and Grainger The Sugar-Cane, and Armstrong, according to Churchill's verdict, “taking leave of sense,” read in
Bids every fierce tumultuous passion cease; In still small accents whisp'ring from the ground, A grateful earnest of eternal peace.
Musty lectures on Benevolence,
In Gray's Odes, by the way, noble though they be, there is not a little of what may fairly be called the jargon of poetry,jargon that was not only admissible but and Kit Smart the mad poet, whose diseven appreciated when Gray wrote. In like of clean linen was shared by Dr. these Odes, for instance, a cat is called a Johnson, and who, before his confinement "hapless nymph," and a boy trundling a in a mad-house used to walk for exercise hoop is said "to chase the rolling circle's to the ale-house, but was carried back speed;" and these are but ordinary exam- again, published very indifferent odes, ples of the artificial style of composition which his biographer mistook for fine poin which Gray sometimes indulged. There ems. Smart also produced a Georgic is, perhaps, less of it in Collins, who, in called The Hop Garden, composed in an two of the loveliest of his lyrics, the artificial pretentious style, which may, Ode to the Brave, and the Ode to Evening - however, have done some service as showis wholly free from this vice. Poor Collins ing how rural poetry ought not to be writdied in a madhouse in 1756, just a year ten. Imagine a man deliberately writing before his contemporary, John Dyer. pub- a long poem in blank verse, the average lished The Fleece, a poem which, as the ti- quality of which may be judged from the tle implies, is specifically rural in charac- following passage:· ter. It is a queer medley, for the writer not only aims at poetical description, but endeavours also in heavy blank verse to give a minute account of agricultural and manufacturing operations, which no man, however highly endowed, could treat poetically. The poem exhibits more of knowledge than of fancy, more of invention than imagination, but Dyer's Grongar Hill and his Country Walk are marked by an airiness of versification and a vividness of description which remind us of Thomas Warton. Both Warton and Dyer caught their best notes from L'Allegro and Il Penseroso; and Dyer, although he cannot flood his landscape with poetic light, has at least the power of bringing its separate features clearly before the eye.
With two signal exceptions, the poetry of the latter half of the last century bears few marks of high inspiration or of any special intercourse with nature. Then Dr. Johnson produced his London, and Vanity of Human Wishes, weighty poems, both of them, but more remarkable for manly thought than for poetical imagination. Then Hayley sung his platitudes, and Darwin his Botanic Garden, and Bloomfield, a small rural poet, chirped feebly of the country, and Churchill ("the great Churchill," Cowper called him) wrote his scurrilous satires, and Goldsmith (of whom we shall have a word or two to say presently), whose exquisite felicity of style has secured to him a permanent place in literature, produced two beautiful poems, one of which deserves notice for its sweet pastoral passages. Then Falconer, who was
Select the choicest hop t' insert
Indefinitely vigorous. The next
No one who has not made it his painful task to turn over such lumber can imagine what a mass of similar rubbish is to be found in the closely-printed volumes which are said upon their title-pages to contain the works of the British poets. Of rural poetry, which, if the bull may be excused, is not poetry the last century produced a load large enough, if a man were doomed to read it all, to make him loathe the very thought of verse. Pastorals, Bucolics, Georgics, follow one another in dreary succession and in the futile effort of bad rhymesters to imitate good poets. Nature, which is supposed to form the subject of the verse, is left out of it altogether. The latter half of the century displayed on a wider scale than the preceding half the vices of these arid versifiers, but it produced, also, a Cowper and a Burns, two poets who, in conjunction with, but in a
larger degree than Thomson, may be said greatest satirist in verse ; but on the other to have commenced a new era in English hand, he had rare gifts scarcely known to poetry.
his predecessor, a pathos surpassingly ten“What true and pretty pastoral images der, a humour of which Pope had no trace, has Goldsmith in his Deserted Village !" and, above all, the poet's gift, yet a gift said Burke. “They beat all; Pope, and denied to Pope, of describing and interPhilips, and Spenser too, in my opinion.” preting nature. Goldsmith's pastoral images are pretty, Of Crabbe, who followed Cowper, and and they are true, - indeed, fitter epithets who holds a distinct position among our could not have been applied to them. We descriptive poets, it has been well said may also readily admit that they beat that he handles life so as to take the Pope, who was the poet of society, and bloom off it. His descriptions of scenery, knew little of nature. Neither is it much like his descriptions of character, are wonto say that they beat Philips, too, derfully truthful, but, having no sense of “ namby-pamby” Philips, whose pastorals beauty, he sees little that is not repulsive in were ridiculed so cleverly by Pope in the either. Like Cowper, he is a matter-ofGuardian; but to compare Goldsmith's ru- fact poet, but Cowper's humour saved him ral pictures with the broad and splendid from the pitfalls into which Crabbe somelandscape of Spenser is to confound things times stumbled. Moreover, Cowper loved that essentially differ, unless, indeed, the scenery he described so accurately; Burke had the Shepherd's Calendar in mind, Crabbe, with equal accuracy is wanting in and not the Faerie Queene.
the love and enthusiasm which warmed Goldsmith's Deserted Village was pub- the poet of The Task. Crabbe did not die lished in 1770, the year in which Words- until 1832, but he must be numbered with worth was born ; Cowper's Task appeared Cowper among the poets of the last cenin 1785, and the influence of that poem on tury; for, although his. Borough appeared our poetical literature can scarcely be in 1810, twenty-seven years after the pubover-estimated. Mr. Lowell, whose criti- lication of The Village, he had no share in cal judgment is almost always sound, has the great poetical revolution which dissaid that, in his opinion, “ Cowper is still tinguished the earlier years of this centhe best of our descriptive poets for every- tury. day wear,” and in these words he does It was a wonderful period in our literajustice to his homely and sterling qualities. ture, and if it lacked some qualities of Cowper frequently takes false views of sterling value, it gave us much of which politics and society: lie has strong preju- the eighteenth century was comparatively dices, great weaknesses, and for some of barren — splendour of imagination, a pashis mistakes we can only find an excuse in sionate force which imparted new life to the malady that consumed him; but in his language, an ardent love of nature that love and knowledge of nature he is always produced as profound an influence in poesympathetic, always veracious, and it is try as Turner exercised in plastic art, a not difficult to credit his assertion that width and freedom of range that would he took nothing at second-hand. A critic have dismayed the correct poetasters has said recently: “ It is utterly idle to who followed in the wake of Pope. contend that Cowper came within leagues The great poets of the age lived in the of Pope as a poet;” but, in spite of this eye of nature. Wordsworth, the greatest decision, it is a question that from one of them all, studied his art out-of-doors. point of view may be not unreasonably “Nine-tenths of my verses,” he said, “ have discussed. The influence of poets upon been murmured in the open air.” Scott's poets is, perhaps, the most striking proof poetry, like his prose, carries with it the of their genius. Spenser's power over his scent of the heather. No one ever ensuccessors has been well-nigh limitless, joyed scenery more, and few have deand it may be safely said that the poetical scribed it with more accuracy and brightsway of Cowper has not only been more ness of colour. Coleridge, when he wrote beneficial, but also more extended than his loveliest verse, was a country-liver. that of Pope, whose school, as Southey re- Shelley, who caught with unerring premarked, has produced no poet. More- cision every aspect of nature, was a wanover, the genius of these poets lies in such derer through the best portion of his brief different directions that they cannot fairly life, and found his grave at last in be compared. Cowper had not the deli- the ocean that he loved so well. Keats, cate fancy displayed by Pope in the Rape London born and bred, adored nature of the Lock, nor had he the trenchant wit as a lover worships his mistress, and which entitles Pope to be ranked as our sings of her as though he had been cradled
The steer forgot to graze,
And where the hedge-row cuts the path-way,
on her bosom; and Byron found his chief is, as a simple description, its beauty is enjoy and his noblest inspiration from inter- hanced a thousandfold when we rememcourse with the mighty mother. The ber how this outward joy and serenity is spirit awakened by these illustrious men in harmony with the exultant bliss of the has been at work ever since, and the poets lover on that bright May morning :of our own day are remarkable beyond all save the greatest poets that have preceded them for a profound study of nature. It is not to men who are essentially rural poets that we must look for the best rural poetry, not to a Clare, truthful as his descriptions are, so much as to a Wordsworth; not to a Barnes though his Poems of Rural Life display a freshness of thought and a fidelity of description worthy of high praise, so much as to a Mrs. Browning or a Mr. Tennyson. A great master of the greatest of all arts deals in the first place with human emotion, and to this his affection for nature must ever be subordi- Both Wordsworth and Tennyson are able nate. The beauty he sees around him by a line, almost by a word, to transport suggests thoughts and gives a rich colour- the city-dweller into the open country, so ing to language, but to describe it can that he hears the lowing of cattle, the munever be his highest object any more than sic of birds and streams, scents the frait is the single aim of the artist to be a superb colourist. Wordsworth never for-grance of flowers, and sees with the "ingets man in his intercourse with nature, and, indeed, the exquisite charm of his most exquisite descriptions consists in the way in which he blends the deepest feelings of the heart with the sights and sounds and hues of nature. Always with him there is, to use his own words
Some happy tone
Of meditation, slipping in between
And even when in the a'our of his love
One impulse from a vernal wood
It is scarcely needful to point out how the
ward eye" the forest glade and mountain valley. Indeed, so thoroughly have these poets, if the phrase may be allowed, taken possession of nature, that a lover of her and of them finds himself continually haunted by their music, or using their words, as he loiters leisurely through the
If he sees a row of pigeons deep in contemplation upon a cottage roof, he remembers how these birds have been described as "sunning their milky bosoms on the thatch; "in the solitude of forests he recalls Wordsworth's injunction to touch with gentle hand, "for there is a spirit in the woods;" the shrill crowing of the cock, returned as it so often is from adjoining farmsteads, suggests the couplet:
On tiptoe rear'd he strains his clarion throat,
Soar, but never roam,
If Keats had lived out a full life, instead, have been observed by Mr. Matthew Arof gaining in early manhood "a grave nold (note particularly his Scholar Gipsy, among the eternal," it is probable that so with its lovely glimpses of Oxford dear a lover of nature would have enriched scenery); by Mr. Buchanan, whose special our poetical literature with rural imagery gift it is to depict, as in Willie Baird and to as large an extent as Wordsworth or Poet Andrew, the scenes and passions of Tennyson. As it is, the small volume he rural life; by Miss Jean Ingelow, whose has left behind him is brimful to overflow- charm as a versifier lies wholly, as it seems ing of glorious poetry, and the fidelity of to us, in her idyllic pieces; and by other his descriptions is as remarkable as the poets, who maintain more or less worthily richness of his imagination. Mrs. Brown- the honour of English poetry. "The Enging had more leisure to complete her life's glish Muse," says Mr. Emerson, "loves work, and in some respects the result is the farm-yard, the lane, and market. She more satisfactory. She, like Keats, was a says with De Stäel, "I tramp in the mire poet to the heart's core, and read love and with wooden shoes whenever they would politics and all great social questions in force me into the clouds." The assertion the light of a noble imagination. Like is curiously one-sided: for the poets of Keats, too, she knew much of Nature, and this country-witness Shakspeare, Spenher rural pictures are as faithful and accu- ser, Milton, Shelley, and Wordsworth rate as if, like poor Clare, it had formed are distinguished beyond all others of the the one aim of her genius to "babble of modern world for splendour of imaginagreen fields." It is impossible, in treating, tion; but it may be said of them with of necessity very briefly, and imperfectly, truth that, while exercising the poet's a large topic like English Rural Poetry, highest faculty, they do not lose sight of to do more than hint at subjects which the common ways of men and of what might fairly demand a volume for their we in our ignorance are accustomed to call consideration. This much, perhaps, we the common objects of nature. They have made clear, that the love of rural beauty and the knowledge of rural life have been most largely displayed by our True to the kindred points of heaven and home. poets within the present century, that it is not to the poets who have confined their attention to rural objects we must necessarily look for the finest examples of rural poetry, and that the artificial verse known under the name of pastoral was the result of a false conception, which the poets of this century have replaced by a true one. Goethe in his Hermann and Dorothea had shown how possible it was for a great poet to write a great pastoral poem. Wordsworth, in The Brothers, already mentioned, in Michael, in the Waggoner, in the Old Cumberland Beggar, and other poems of similar character, has shown also that pastorals may be written which shall be wholly free from "the childish prattlement," as Cowper termed it, of these compositions, as produced by Shenstone, Cunningham, and other rhymesters. Mr. Tennyson, while maintaining an entirely original treatment, has followed in the same track, and so successfully, that it is probable he is better known to some readers as the author of the poems we have already mentioned than as the poet of In Memoriam, of Morte d'Arthur and of Enone. We refrain from dwelling upon the rural poetry of other living poets; an erroneous calculation? The trumpet but did space permit, it would be interest- sounds, the study doors of the military esing to point out how accurately and affec-tablishments open, and there come forth, tionately the simpler aspects of nature' not book worms or theoretical soldiers,
From Fraser's Magazine. THE KRIEGSSPIEL.
WE have long been told that "what is called inspiration in war, is nothing but the result of calculation quickly made," and this "the result of cabinet study or experience;" but probably few of us guessed to what an extent cabinet study might be made to imitate real experience, until we became acquainted with the now celebrated Kriegsspiel, on which the Prussian military attaché, Major Roerdansz, has recently lectured at our military institutions. We have sometimes solaced ourselves with the thought, that we had frequent opportunities of testing officers' ability in some colonial war, insignificant perhaps in extent, but valuable in the lessons it taught and the experience it bequeathed. But what shall we say of a nation who, during a long period of profound peace, learn to play the terrible game of war so excellently that the results of three campaigns hardly display a false move or
but masters of grim war, carrying out mits to the umpire-in-chief, who is then in their plans and pouring forth their hosts, a position to judge whether the opposing not perhaps with the rapidity of a Buona- forces, following ont their own “special parte, but with a precision and power that ideas,” will come into such collision as will resemble some vast irresistible engine of lead to an instructive game, or whether, as battle. Much of the necessary knowledge in some cases may happen, they will avoid has, no doubt, been acquired in their au- each other, so that there would be little tumn campaigns, but we believe that the use in playing their game out. most distinguished Prussian generals lay On the approval of the chief umpire, still greater stress on the lessons learned the two generals take the field, each one indoors at the fortnightly exercise of the disposing his troops, as nearly as possible, Kriegsspiel. It is high time, then, to ex- as if on actual service, Thus, a general amine the game to which Prince Frederick would not be able to see the formation of Charles, the Crown Prince, nay even Von his enemy until he arrived within a certain Moltke himself, profess to owe 80 much. distance; therefore each commander is The Kriegsspiel may be described as the called into the room in turn, and directed Prussian method of playing out the tactics to carry out his design, move by move, of war, by means of maps very carefully while a covering is laid over the forces of made and contoured, and small lead blocks, his adversary until such time as they would representing every formation of troops, actually come in sight. A "move conmade to the exact scale of the map, and sists in the advance of all the troops for coloured so as to indicate the cavalry, artil- such a distance on the map, as might be lery, and infantry of two hostile armies. accomplished in reality in two minutes; The peculiarity is, that all the conditions the allowance made, for infantry, being 175 of service are copied sufficiently closely to yards ordinarily, at times of special exkeep the players constantly reminded of citement and interest 200 yards, or, at the the contingencies arising in actual war. “ double" 300 yards in two minutes. For
The game is played in the following way. cavalry, at a walk 200 yards, at a trot Two officers, who must have some experi- | 350 to 500 yards, at a gallop 600 yards, ence in the handling of troops, act as the and at full charge 750 yards per move, is generals of the miniature contending allowed. While the armies are far apart, forces, each being pre tided with a certain and all is covered over, each general may staff to assist him in placing his men, advance his troops by as much as ten which means fixing the position of, not moves together, but as the plot thickens, only each company, but each individual and more and more depends on their relavedette. A “chief umpire" must be ap- tive positions at each moment, the armies pointed of undeniable skill and judgment, are brought down to two moves, to single whose decisions in all matters are final, moves, or at any crisis, to half moves, in and under him one umpire must act for succession. each side.
The spectators and umpires, thus, see all The chief umpire draws up what is that goes on, while each commander only termed the “general idea" of the pro- sees what would be visible in actual war; posed game; that is to say, he appoints the and it must be understood that he is bound definite end to be aimed at by each army, to fix his own personal position and only and he fixes their bases of operations and change it by feasible galloping moves, not the number of their respective troops, by flying about at will to any part of his naming a fictitious day and month for the army. The uncovering of his enemy's supposed commencement of operations. forces will appear to him in the following The map of the country is, with this “gen- way. On the enemy arriving within 2,500 eral idea,” submitted to each commander yards of his vedettes or advanced troops, in turn, who keeps it for two or three days his umpire will claim for him to be inand studies every road and every feature formed, and a vedette will be, as it were, of ground presented by the map; on which sent galloping in to him, the distance bethe most minute details are given, even to ing measured and the information of what whether the trees in the plantations are was visible to the vedette being commuevergreens or such as become bare in nicated to him at the moment at which winter. On the time of year named will the message would arrive. The greatest depend the state of roads or fords. Each nicety is here insisted on. Should the commander next draws up his own “special ground be steep or heavy, the “move" of idea,” which expresses the general line of the vedette is curtailed, just as his horse's action by which he proposes to carry out stride would be shortened in reality. As the object set before him. This he sub-the general himself arrives within 2,500