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as a painter of character, true to the life and spirit as Hogarth.” The more he is examined, the more he rises in the estimation of the reader. This is a sertile and healthful field to dig in. Spenser is somewhat better treated; Shakspeare “no one should ever cease reading.” In returning to the smaller bards, a rich cluster of names tempts the reader, who is, however, recommended, if of “limited opportunities,” to read such poems as Johnson and other critics point out. But on consulting Johnson's work as a “handbook to the facts,” and finding there a very unpromising account of Collins and Gray, would a reader of limited opportunities be likely to look out for the opinions of other critics of better taste? Surely not : and Collins and Gray would be lost to him. When Pycroft does venture upon a note of information, by way of supplement to Johnson, we cannot bestow upon it unlimited commendation. Of Dryden he writes, “His Fables, Annus Mirabilis, and translation of Virgil, are the most celebrated.” Is this criticism true ! do these poems afford an outline of the poet's temper of mind and invention ? would any one gather from it that, in the art of arguing in rhyme, he had attained to a consummate mastery, and that in crushing vehemence of sarcasm, he stood alone in English verse 2–
“ Medios violentus in hostes, Fertur, ut excussis elisus nubibus ignis.”
We are not objecting to the works specified. His Fables are for the most part admirable. The Annus Mirabilis was one of his early works, and Hallam commends its continuity of excellencies, placing it above Waller's Panegyric, and Denham's Cooper's Hill. The translation of Virgil is remarkable for its occasional splendor, but it is not happily accomplished. Hear IIallam again. “Dryden was little fitted for a translator of Virgil; his mind was more rapid and vehement than that of his original, but by far less elegant and judicious. This translation seems to have been made in haste; it is more negligent than any of his own poetry, and the style is often almost studiously, and, as it were, spitefully vulgar.” Whoever wishes to understand the peculiar genius of Dryden, should read Mac Flecknoe. He looked upon it with great affection. “If any thing of mine is good,” he said at Will's, “it is my MacFlecknoe.” It was the original of the Dunciad, and Scott reminds us, that if the satire
of Pope has the merit of more copiousness and variety, to Dryden belongs the charm of a closer and compacter fable, and of a single and undisturbed aim. Pope scatters his ridicule like hail among the leaves; Dryden hurls down the condensed fire of his indignation, with a fury that rends the boughs asunder. We learn from Nichols that Gray placed the Absalom and Achitophel in the first rank of poems. With regard to his historical plays, one remark may be made to show how unsafe a hand-book the biographies of Johnson afford, even in slight particulars; he praises the Spanish Friar for what he calls “the happy coincidence and coalition of the two plots.” A criticism proved by Hallam to be utterly without foundation ; the comic scenes in this play, consisting entirely of “an intrigue, which Lorenzo, a young officer, carries on with a rich usurer's wife; but there is not, even by accident, any relation between his adventures and the love and murder which go forward in the palace.” We cannot compliment Mr. Pycroft on his estimate of Pope. The Rape of the Lock may be, and we think it is, the best of all heroi-comical poems; but where do we read or hear that the Epistle from Eloisa to Abelard “is the most immoral and impious poem ever sanctioned 7” Its morality we admit to be questionable—or, rather, quite unquestionable—but is it impious 2 Of course its immorality is essentially irreligious; and, therefore, in a certain sense, impious; but the analogy is forced, and is not that intended by the objector. It is related of Harvey, the discoverer of the circulation, that he would sometimes fling away Virgil, in which he took great delight, declaring that it had a devil. Eloisa's letter seems to have excited the feelings of our critic with equal vigor, though in a different direction. Nor should we say that his anger was entirely misplaced. Hallam, recording the influence exercised by Abelard upon the temper of his age, alludes in a note to the injustice of Pope, in putting into the mouth of Eloisa, in what he calls this unrivalled epistle, the sentiments of a coarse and abandoned woman ; the real cause of her refusal to marry Abelard being an ardent affection, that shrank from interposing any obstacle to his career of ecclesiastical dignity. In truth, all sweeping condemnations are unwise and impolitic. When Burnet denounced Dryden as a monster of immodesty and impurity of all sorts, he awoke the indignant remonstrance of Lord Lansdowne, which obtained a qualifying apology from the bishop's youngest son. Gray believed that Pope had a good heart: we think so too; and we think also with Atterbury that in moral subjects, and in drawing characters, he outdid himself. Even in this very epistle, with what beauty of sentiment, and light of religious fervor, he describes the pure and tranquil delights of a mind surrendered to holy thoughts and contemplations :
“Grace shines around her with serenest beams,
The character of Thomson is not correct. “All admire the sensibility and natural beauty of the Seasons.” All ought, but do not. Horace Walpole was insensible to their charm. “But,” says Pycroft, “he had not the art of giving effect with a few touches.” Stranger still : why this was the very art which he had ' When he described the autumnal gale, brushing with shadowy gust the field of corn, is there one man outside the Ophthalmic Hospital, who does not see the ears rustling, glistening, darkening ! Mr. Wordsworth's Susan never saw the trees wave with a greener coolness in the valley of Lothbury. In truth, no true poet, brought up at the knees of Nature, and taught to read her book in the open air, ever failed to possess and to indicate this faculty. It is the eyesight of his art; what masters in this kind were Virgil and Horace . Thus, when the first writer says in the third Georgic,
“Aut sic ubi nigrum Ilicibus crebris sacra nemus accubet umbra,”
Keble remarks, that it creates the scene before us. “Rem universam ante oculos ponit, quasi quodam jactu pencilli, illud accubet.” So Horace charms the spectator with the magic of a word,
“ Usticae cubantis Levia personuere saxa.”
With regard to Thomson, Pycroft would have been imparting to his pupil a correcter notion, if he had preserved the distinction, so happily suggested by Gray, between the two different styles of the poet. In the art of describing the appearances of nature, he thought that Thomson possessed a talent
beyond all poets, but that out of that walk, and especially in his moral delineations, he always became verbose ; here, truly, he “had not the art of giving effect with a few touches.” It will have been apparent, from the previous observations, that we consider the suggestions offered for a course of reading in English poetry, to be very insufficient. Now if we were drawing up a course of reading, adapted not to any age, but to the young and inexperienced student, we should never begin by telling him that Johnson's Lives would be his hand-book of poetry. We should rather say to him, Your time is short, and your opportunities of study are small; you do not, therefore, wish to criticise but appreciate verses. Begin, then, by reading carefully the little sketch of English poetry which Southey inserted by way of episode in his Memoir of Cowper. It is brief, and necessarily imperfect, and shows one remarkable omission in the case of Goldsmith; but every fragment by such a writer, on such a subject, possesses a distinct value. Having done this, you will be able to glance, with some advantage, at the same author's Specimens of the poets from Chaucer to Jonson. When you have looked over these, buy the Specimens selected by Campbell. Our friend Mr. Nickisson will supply you with a copy for fifteen shillings. The book is well worth the money; the biographical sketches are very elegant, and the preliminary essay gives a popular and instructive view of the progress of our verse. This will be your second step. Now take Warton's History, not as it came from the pen of its author, but rich with the spoils of time. Purchase the edition issued by Tegg in 1840, in three volumes, which, embracing the additions and corrections of Price in 1824, has been improved by the numerous notes and illustrations of living scholars. You will find in these volumes abundant treasures, not only of poetic, but of general literature. First, there is Price's very interesting preface; then come the Dissertations on the Origin of Romantic Fiction; On the Introduction of Learning ; and on the Gesta Romanorum—each and all full of charms to every lover of taste and antiquity. Warton had a fine eye for the gray majesty of our elder literature; and to his patient hand we owe many a sweet flower of thought that bloomed among the ruins of works which their architects expected to have been immortal. He had the enthusiasm of the minstrel,
“Nor shunn'd, at pensive eve, with lonesome
Southey said wittily, and perhaps truly, of Warton's rhymes, that they resembled a new medal, spotted with artificial dust; his powers of execution were certainly inferior to the quickness of his perception. But he was an admirable guide to the buildings, which he had neither skill nor vigor to design to erect. The outline of the drama is only slightly and almost parenthetically included in the survey of Warton. The student who has sufficient curiosity and patience of research, will examine the subject in the pages of Mr. John Payne Collier; or, with more ease and pleasure, in his recent biography of Shakspeare. Of the subsidiaries to Warton it is not necessary to speak. Percy, to whom modern poetry owes so large a debt, carries his letter of recommendation in the title-page. Southey's specimens of the later English poets were intended as a supplement to the specimens of the earlier writers by Ellis; the one series concluding with Charles II., the other commencing with his successor James. Southey considered that the two, combined, might be consulted for a view of the rise, progress, and decline of our poetry. Of the specimens produced by Southey it may be observed, that they were selected upon a wrong principle ; they give notices of poetasters, not of poets, and, with a few exceptions, contribute illustrations, not to the history of imagination, but of dulness. Among other defects, Southey, in this work, falls into the error already mentioned in Johnson. He wants the faculty of perceiving and commending the genius of those who differed from his own theory of taste. Thus, he had the courage to say that Pope had nothing in common with Milton and Shakspeare, except verse; but, surely, he had the power of moving the heart and of delighting the eye; and, in the picturesque and the pathetic, he belonged to the same family, though it may be as the youngest brother. The occasional essays of men of eminence, upon various poets and their works, will furnish entertaining opportunities of improving the taste. It is very interesting to look on Ariosto, painted by Titian and illustrated by Sismondi. Perhaps, of modern writers, Schlegel and Coleridge will give the deepest insight into the imagination of Shakspeare; only it
will be necessary to have made some progress in suggestive criticism, before you take up the page of the philosopher of Highgate. For example, the illustration of the union in Shakspeare of the creative power and intellectual energy, seems, at first glance, more difficult than the faculty it is thought to illustrate; he compares them “to two rapid streams that, at their first meeting within narrow and rocky banks, mutually strive to repel each other, and intermix reluctantly in tumult, but, soon finding a wider channel and more yielding shores, blend and dilate, and flow on in one current, and with one voice.” A few moments of reflection, however, will disperse the obscurity; and these should be willingly bestowed. The water is generally clear in proportion to the depth of the spring. Again, no reader should omit Gray's essay on English metres, which Mathias printed in his edition of the poet's works. It was to have formed a chapter in the history of poetry that Gray projected, but subsequently relinquished. The remarks on Lydgate should also be read, as a model of what criticism ought to be—at once calm, generous, sensitive, and refined. Some of the prefaces to the Aldine poets will shed light upon several obscure pages of our poetic annals. Warton's history terminates at the beginning of the Elizabethan age. He died at the moment when, after passing through the outer courts of the temple of imagination, his hand was stretched out to lift the curtain from the shrine. Every scholar may bewail the catastrophe. The richest page of our verse, one on which Fancy had bestowed her most splendid illumination, lay open before him. Spenser, his own Spenser, the theme of his affection, the inspiration of his song, beckoned him to the garden, where, in the words of Warton himself, he stood alone, without a class, and without a rival. There is another kind of books essential to the useful pursuit of poetical knowledge —works on taste. Pycroft offers a very scanty supply. Burke and Alison are the chief authors of reputation whom he mentions. He refers, indeed, to the critical papers in the Quarterly and Edinburgh Reviews, and especially to Wilson's articles on Spenser, so elaborately commended by Hallam. The professor has few admirers more ardent than ourselves; but, while we delight in reading, we should be slow to receive all his critical canons. That eloquence, which Hallam compares to the rush of mighty waters, bears the reader too swiftly along “in the stream of unhesitating eulogy,” for him to examine, with sufficient accuracy and care, the scenery through which he is being hurried. With all his faults of mysticism, we look on Coleridge as a soberer guide. His feeling of the beautiful is equally intense, and his utterance of it is somewhat more restricted. When he seems to be most cloudy, an earnest gaze will commonly pierce the mist. Hallam says, that he does not quite understand the remark of Coleridge, that “Spenser's descriptions are not in the true sense of the word picturesque, but are composed of a wonderful series of images, as in our dreams.” To us, the meaning of the passage is sufficiently obvious. The descriptions of Spenser frequently want that exquisite harmony and adjustment of parts, which we seldom look for in vain in the representations of Virgil or in the pictures of Raffaelle. He could not restrain the ardor of his fancy to that chastity of composition which rejects every word or color not required to give force and tone to the delineation. Hence it happens that his pictures have a glittering haziness, like a landscape viewed in the glimmer of an autumnal sky, when the rising sun is beginning to kindle the vapor over the remote villages. To this indulgence of the fancy, also, is to be attributed the discord between the images introduced, when the relation of parts to each other and to the whole is not preserved. And this is the characteristic of all the scenery of dreams. In this manner, we think that the remark of Coleridge becomes more intelligible. His critical works must be diligently perused. We would also refer to three writers not mentioned by Pycroft, but of rare merit and excellence in their art; Price on the picturesque, Whately on landscape-gardening, and Payne Knight on the beautiful. Gilpin's various publications on woodland scenery will suggest many thoughts of interest. We think, also, that Reynolds' discourses ought to be combined with every course of poetical reading. We like to see the Muse of Painting holding her lamp over the book of Fancy. Especially, we recommend Price and Whately, as being less known, and far less generally read. The lights which they bring the sister arts to shed upon each other, are extremely beautiful. Payne Knight, with less of elegance, has more of learning, and is far beyond Burke in all the acuteness and precision
which familiarity and research are calculated to bestow. Criticism is only of any real value when it works under the light and heat of a presiding and governing taste :
“Turn'd to this sun, she casts a thousand dyes, And, as she turns, the colors fade or rise.”
QUEEN Is ABELLA of SPAIN.—A very interesting anecdote appears in some of the continental journals, respecting the young Queen Isabella of Spain. It seems that her Majesty, meeting the procession of the holy sacrament, descended from her carriage and walked with the priest who carried the viaticum to the lodging of a young girl who was dying of consumption. The young girl was wretchedly poor, and her Majesty, before she left her, emptied the contents of her purse, and on her return to the palace, ordered that a further sum, equal to about 310 francs, should be forwarded to her, with a small'daily allowance in addition. Nor was this all. She desired two of her physicians to attend and report to her whether there was any hope of recovery. Having declared that there was still hope for the invalid if she could get into the country, the queen immediately issued orders that she should be removed to one of her own farm-houses. This admirable proof of her Majesty's active practical benevolence, has greatly increased the popular devotion of which the young queen is the universal object in Madrid. —Court Journal.
MEM of 1 AL to Dr. DAlton.—A meeting has been held among the inhabitants of Manchester, for the purpose of determining on the character to be given to a public memorial in honor of their illustrious townsman, the late Dr. Dalton—a philosopher who, as one of the speakers expressed it, “found chemistry an art, and left it a science;” and we think they have done themselves very great honor by the sentiments expressed on the occasion. The general impression was in favor of a permanent professorship of chemistry, as suited to the wants and interests of the locality, and the most appropriate expression of the claims of the illustrious dead to honor amongst his townsmen and throughout the world. This is in the right spirit; which does the noblest homage to learning when it spreads it—holds up the example of the great in the form which best helps its teaching, and o the peculiar wants of a neighborhood, in the name of the departed genius which served in that same ministration, all its days. A town that can boast a Dalton, would overlook a great means of distinction, wanting a school of chemistry; and, as was observed by another of the speakers, “the step they were now taking might be only the first to some great future university.” There seemed to be a feeling, among some, that a statue should be added to the professorship; and a hint, offered in the way of compromise, was received with favor: — that “of three noble streets about to be opened by the corporation, that which was still unnamed should be called Dalton Street.”—Athenaeum,
From the Edinburgh Review.
1. Coningsby; or, the New Generation. By B. D'Israeli, M. P. 3 vols. Svo. London: 1844.
2. Historic Fancies. By the Hon. George Sydney Smythe, M. P. 8vo. London: 1844.
3. England's Trust, and other Poems.
By Lord John Manners, M. P. London: 1844.
HAVING been sometimes asked, What do the terms ‘Young England' import 1 we have been induced to gratify the less informed of our readers with a notice of the very small party who rejoice in that name —a notice brief and slight, but which may suffice, for the present, to give some idea of its composition and pretensions. Should any circumstances occur to invest it with further importance, we may hereafter be induced to resume the subject in a more detailed and elaborate manner.
We must, however, say that this party, though small, and in some of its aspects rather laughable, is yet entitled to more attention than it seems to have received. But this claim arises more perhaps from the causes from which it has sprung, and the feelings of which it is the exponent, than from any immediate practical results to which it can lead. Though, as just stated, it is nowhere numerous, it has nevertheless had some influence on the proceedings of the House of Commons, owing to the ability of its members in that house. In the House of Lords it is not avowedly represented by more than one lay peer and a bishop. But its influence is greater than its numbers, and its organization is on the whole complete. After a curious inspection and enumeration of the limbs and features of a new-born infant, we recollect once upon a time to have heard that the first observation of a wondering but intelligent child was—‘Dear baby has got a little of every thing.’ So it is with ‘Young England.’ It has got a little of every thing;-a little of history, somewhat more of metaphysics, a small portion of unintelligible theology, expanded and inflated into an enormous bubble, bright in prismatic colors, but bursting at the first touch of a feather; and a very little political economy, almost as bubble-like and inflated—not to mention other smaller accomplishments. As Swift
said of the garden of his friend Dr. Delany :—
‘You scarce upon the borders enter, Before you're in the very centre; Yet in this narrow compass we Observe a vast variety.’
But we are far from intending or wishing to depreciate the attainments of the party. There never was one which, for its numbers, has produced so many parliamentary speakers and so many authors. Their inditers of verse are particularly numerous : ‘Tam multa genera linguarum sunt in hoc mundo 1 et nihil sine voce est!' Among the chief ornaments of the fraternity are those named at the head of this article. Their works may be said to contain a pretty full exposition of their political creed, and exemplification of their intellectual powers. Both the one and the other appear to us to have been misapprehended in some respects. By themselves and their immediate followers, they have been made the victims of exaggerated encomium. They are possessed by the evil spirit of a coterie. When Mr. Smythe dedicates his “Historic Fancies' to Lord John Manners, he takes occasion to designate that very amiable young nobleman as ‘the Philip Sydney of our generation;' and, in return, the Poems of this modern Sydney are ‘admiringly as well as affectionately inscribed to his friend.” In “Coningsby,' the individuals who compose the party are so clearly designated, and some of the likenesses are so striking, that the addition of their names would only be a needless formality; and they are held up to public veneration as the future regenerators of England and of mankind. Being for the most part young men, their historian, Mr. D'Israeli, declares war against age, and proclaims that England is alone to be saved by its youth; and he decides with equal confidence, that the very restricted circle of which he is the eulogist, contains all the patriots and apostles who are to produce a new order of things. “Thou art the man!' he says to his hero, with all the emphasis of a self-inspired and self-accredited prophet. On the other hand, those who depreciate ‘Young England,” represent them as vain, disappointed, and selfish adventurers, with whom the spreta injuria forma is the only moving power ; and who, if they had been admitted to a share in the distribution of political honors, would have been the panegyrists of much that they are now the loud