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support of his opinion; but I must whether intuitively or by a series of own, that in his conclusion I am in- acts of the understanding, filled and saclined for the most part to agree. Not turated with the delight which springs that I can bring myself to think, as he from some favourite poetical style. does, the style of the speech a good This style must be his own; and it is style, nor that his reasoning, as to only by the perfect comprehension, what Hamlet says of it, however sub- and intense admiration of its peculiatle, appears to ine at all convincing; rities and its beauties, that he can have but because it is very possible that become an original poet. This feeling Shakespeare may have been fond of of delight, in a particular style of poetthe lines, although they are not good ry, may have arisen, as it no doubt in any point of view. Nor is it impro- often arises, unconsciously. The numbable that he was so. That he him- berless steps, of perception after perxelf wrote them, there cannot, I think, ception, and of association after assobe much doubt. The Shakespearian ciation, may have been originally so Fein shews itself here and there. The imperceptible, or so completely forstyle, indeed, exhibits much more of gotten ultimately, as to give the whole his nerve and manner.than that of some process the appearance of instinct, -or of the plays which are attributed to it may have been a decided creation him. Titus Andronicus, for instance, of the understanding. It may have which it is a wonder, by the bye, that originated in the nicest discrimination the critics have neverattributed to Mar- and the most profound analysis. It low, for the turn of the versification, may have been artificial in its concepand the atrocity of the characters, are tion, in its birth, and in its essence. in exact keeping with the “ Jew of Still the style so doated on, must be Malta.”—But that the players' speech truly the “ chosen one” the “ only beis not turgid, and in bad taste, and as loved ;" and the modes of choice can unlike the style of the ancients as only differ as the romantic “ love at “ Hyperion to a satyr,” Warburton first sight" of the stripling differs from will succeed in persuading few readers. the gradual and intelligent affection of His parallel quotations, as he would the man. have them thought, from Troilus and Under the first supposition it is nearCressida, and from Anthony and Cleo- ly impossible to imagine that a mind, patra, are utterly worthless; the piece, influenced by such exclusive and deepin which the first occurs, is only half ly-seated feelings, should not be disin earnest throughout; and the last qualified impartially to compare the efnobody but Warburton would have fusionswhich produce them with others produced as a similar passage. Still which do not. In the second instance, Shakespeare may have liked the players' it is difficult to imagine this. When we speech, though he never wrote it, as the have long and steadily preferred any learned doctor supposes, in imitation of thing, especially in poetry, that prethe ancients; as a player, it is the very ference, almost necessarily declines, (or thing that he would be likely to deem if the term displease,) improves into a attractive ; and poets are, in truth, sort of amiable but unreasonable doseldom good critics, that is to say great tage. The lover may be brought to own poets are seldom judicious critics of that his mistress is, in the abstract, less poetry. Nor is it natural that they handsome than some other woman; should be, for which the reasons are but he cannot practically think that she tolerably obvious.
is so, because he cannot feel that she is . Whether poets are inspired beings so. Her name must ever be to his ears u pot, does not much alter the bear- “ more musical than is Apollo's lute,” ings of this question. We have, to be let him play what tune he pleases. As sure, their own word for it that they it is in love, so is it in poetry. We are ate, and they should know best, as infatuated with a word, a very sound. Count Caylus argued when he assured The poet may exclaim, “ What's in a his officious ghostly advisers, to their name!" as long as he will
, but it is a great perplexity, that he had no soul. mistake to say that, to the poet, Böt then the word of a poet is none of the most credible, especially upon sub- By any other name would smell assweet"— jects like these. Be this as it may, however, still it is impossible to con- It would not do so. ceive of a great poet but as being, How a mind impregnated with such
feelings should judge truly of the poet- possession of him as it has since done. ical, is incomprehensible. A jaundiced nor had he then attained to that nereye might as well distinguish colours. vous strength, either of thought or In order to judge of poetry, according language, which imparts a double forc to Burns's indignant expression, “ by to his misanthropical reflections. He the square and rule," a poet must dis- accordingly wrote less from his own miss for the occasion that “ in which ideas of style and subject than from he lives,” which, “is his life.” He those of others; and whenever Lord must go out of the very element in Byron has been an imitator, he has, which he breathes to inhale some new one or other sense of the word, failed. : ly discovered gas. He must shuffle off with a predisposition, thus early, tonature, and commithigh treason against wards a certain style and colouring or the very bent and constitution of his thought, his judgment has been consoul and intellect. “ He must divide stantly overpowered by the peculiarities and go to buffets with himself of his poetical temperament.
This is “ His understanding's self, must maul his evident even in what he has said reass-self !”
specting the Elgin marbles ; difference
of opinion is common, but there has He is to sit down and coolly examine been no measure in his wrath. He will that which naturally arouses his finest find very few to join him in his exagpassions, and açt the unbiassed judge in gerated vituperations of the noble coà cause as to which he has been full of noisseur, for rescuing these exquisite prejudices from the very hour of his remains from the hands of Time and i birth; that the struggle to go through so the Turk. The only pity is that it had unnaturala task as this, should occasion not been done five hundred years all sorts of extremes and absurdities is sooner. But the eye of Byron had seen notextraordinary. Poetical criticism de- these unmatched sculptures in their mands other than poetical nerves. It is original situation ; and he loved them one man's calling to create a beautiful with the enthusiasm of a poet.* With metaphor, and another's to dissectit. It such feelings it were in vain to reason. is for your cold-blooded experimental- Talk of utility or expediency! we ist to stare a simile out of countenance, might as well expect the lover to cut on pretence of criticising the regularity off his mistress's beautiful hair to preof its features, or to make mouths at vent it coming out, or draw her frontthe pathetic, under a pretext of subject- teeth to preserve the rest from caries. ing it to the test of ridicule, as an urchin His opinions on poetry, even when grins in your face in the hope of ma- he has endeavoured to rest them on king you as ridiculous as himself. first principles, or logical deductions,
Of the fact of good poets being, in seem to have veered and varied all his general, bad critics, the instances are life ; and with his opinions, variable
as plenty as blackberries." His lord as they have been, his practice has ship of Byron is one of the most modern generally contrived to be inconsistent
. and eminent examples. This is appa- In his criticisms in the satire of “Engrent, not only in the recent Bowles lish Bards and Scotch Reviewers," Controversy—to which one wonders at even when they are not warped by those who are sorry that he “ conde- irritated passions, it would be difficult scends," for it is highly witty and amu- to shew any one rule to which he has sing, and cannot hurt his reputation as adhered throughout; if there be any, a poet with any one who has common it is the rule of contrariety: His imitasense,-but may be, more or less, de- tions have not been less inconsistent, tected in many other transactions of nor less unfortunate. They are, howhis life. Byron is truly a poet by in- ever, often fortunately unfortunate. tuition. In his juvenile poems, that Unfortunate in not being like the style tendency to melancholy, and to the imitated, and fortunate in being betdepicting the darker passions, which ter. The versification, for instance, has all along characterized him, is de- of the “ Bride of Abydos” is clearly cidedly developed. He was then too intended to resemble that of Sir Walyoung to suffer it to take such complete ter Scott,--whose poems, by the bye,
* This is not correct. The marbles were removed from the Parthenon before his Lordship visited Athens.-C. N.
he had ridiculed, but it is more con Glasgow, but which the worthy prodensed and more correct than that of fessors are so strangely shy of shewing, Sir Walter. Again, he has nearly must be, to all Christian readers, the spoiled the third canto of “ Childe paragon of all earthly poetry,—that is, Harold,” by mixing some unintelli- has been, or shall be. That a mind
gible mysticism, about mountains and gifted like that of the author of Childe storms, with his own vigorous and Harold, should prefer Pope, sensible, well defined conceptions, under an witty, and elegant as he is, to Shakeidea that he was rivalling Wordsworth. speare, to Milton, or to himself, and
for such a reason as this, is next to " When Southey's read, and Wordswortì impossible.—Yet we must believe this understood,
before we can put faith in Lord ByI can't help putting in my claim to
ron's criticism. Don Juan. Lord Byron has been mentioned first
as being perhaps the most notorious The controversy with Bowles is an- instance of the principle which these other instance of the work which po- remarks are intended to enforce. Coretical prepossessions make with the roborative examples, however, are sufcritical judgment of a poet. Lord By- ficiently abundant. Milton, like Byron, ron may persuade himself, if he can, seems to have been born a poet, though, that Pope is, after all, the greatest of to his native loftiness and fire, he has poets—and that he thinks him so; but superadded all the majestic and fancihe shall not persuade the public to ful graces which a profound knowledge believe either of these propositions, for of classical poetry could afford him. His all the syllogisms that he has yet put genius tended evidently to the higher forth. in truth, it is ten to one but beauties of poetry,-to the sublime and he hates Pope and his poetry from the the pathetic, rather than to the witty, very bottom of his soul, and if he were the ingenious, or the elegant. Like to make an affidavit of the contrary Byron, however, Milton is known to to-morrow, the question would still have preferred the works of one, the remain where it was. He is, in fact, tendencies of whose genius were as opthe dupe of his own feelings. Aware of posite to those of his own, as can well the occasional hollowness--the some- be conceived. Cowley, the quaint, time extravagance, of those bursts of the metaphysical, the artificial Cowley, exalted poetry, which are congenial was the favourite of Milton, who preand natural to his own mind, he dis- ferred him to Dryden. Dryden, Rotrusts himself. Such poetry is an every- chester, and the rest of King Charles day feeling with him, and he tires of the Second's pet poets, however, rehirnself. Like the bank, he can com- turned the compliment, and were inmand an unlimited issue of his own judicious enough to express their concoin, and he depreciates himself. With tempt of Milton, whose Paradise Lost these feelings, he endeavours to erect was characterized amongst the courtiers an artificial standard of merit, in di- as a “ dull poem,” by one Milton, a rect opposition to that which he feels blind old rebel, who had been Latin to be the true standard, and, in doing secretary to Cromwell, and narrowly
so, he has, for lack of better, flounder- escaped hanging at the Restoration, na die ed upon the precious piece of logic, which, if he had not, they seem to
that-because morals are the best of have thought would have been no great
nal. It was hardly possible that he Mrs Behn, were essentially commoncould really enjoy the works of men place, and he, like them, only remarklike these; nor did he enjoy them. able for the art of unravelling plots, i Spence has put it upon record ibat he contrasting characters. After sayir esteemed the writings of Ben Jonson, that Fleet-street was his favourite pri upon the whole, as “ trash." His sen- spect, it was natural to expect that he tence on Young was, that he was a should run down Pastorals. The poor genius without common-sense”-but of “ London" was not likely to me what tells against him most strongly lish Tasso, Guarini, or Allan Ramsas
. is, that his edition of Shakespeare is Nor was he a very fair judge of Os probably the worst ever published. sian, or even Dr Percy's ballads. Of the conjectural emendations, John Amongst the living poets the sain son's are very middling, Warburton's intemperate judgments are daily maworse than middling, and Pope's worst nifested. Byron,“ in his own despite
, of all. They are universally and woe sets up Pope for a model ; deprecates : fully flat. A fashionable canzonet oc- cant in one breath, and cants about curring in the midst of Moore's Irish, morals in the next. Percy Shelley, and or Burns' Scottish melodies, could not the rest of the school of “ naturals, sound more deplorably. Theobald, gibe at the “ artifice” and “sing song the ci-devant hero of the Dunciad of Pope, and are in love with the un
poor Tib," as Johnson called him, intelligible beauties of Chaucer, mahas experimentally and practically fal- king out in the excesses of their creed, sified the celebrated couplet of his « Au discord, harmony—not understood." enemy, and proved that it is one thing to write a poetical “ Essay on Criti- Nay, there was Leigh Hunt, the other cism,” and another to practise it.
day, doating upon the exquisite pro
nunciation of tobacco," as a rhyme “ Let those judge others who, themselves, to “ acre,"—tobaccre ! and impru
excel, And censure freely who have written well.” mortification of all those who feel sore
dently avowing his fondness, to the The comparison between Pope's and at the jokes lately played off on the Theobald's edition of Shakespeare, is peculiarities of what is termed the in the very teeth of the maxim. # Cockney School of Poetry.”* The
If we come a little nearer our own Lake poets sneer at every body, and if time, and examine the literary opinions Dr Southey be not careful with his of Gray, Johnson, and Horace Walpole, hexameters, they run some risk of a we shall find the same narrowness in return. Indeed, the Laureat’s “Spetheir critical decisions. Gray predict- cimens” of English Poetry are in themed ill of Collins, and especially, disco- selves no bad specimen of that perverse vered in the writings of the young singularity of judgment which haunts bard of the Passions, a paucity of the tribe of poets ; nor is Mr Campimages! Mason and himself were bell's selections without some tendenmore a kin—and Mason he preferred. cies of this sort, though more judicious Dr Johnson makes out a passage in than Southey's. Sir Walter Scott's Congreve's Mourning Bride, to be confirmed predilection for antiquarian more poetically descriptive than any description, and heroes who “ cannot thing in Shakespeare; and Horace spell,” is well known ; and to complete Walpole, reluctantly allowing him ge- the list, this infirmity of judgınent, so nius, despises all the other dramatists fatal to great poets, is apparent even in his contemporaries. Nay, the Doctor the venerable father of “The Leg of would discourage quotations from the Mutton School,” who, it is plain, must works of a man, of whose admirable have taken the hint of praising all his expressions, numbers have become great dining acquaintance from Pope's idiomatic in the language, by saying idea of writing panegyrics on all the that he who brings a passage from kings in Europe," unmindful that the Shakespeare as a specimen of his plan was, upon second thoughts, abanpowers, is like the pedant, who doned by its original and equally ilbrought a brick as a sample of the lustrious author. building. As if Shakespeare's mate In this principle may be found the rials, like those of Mrs Centlivre, or origin of that illiberal habit more or
* See Notice of the Works of Charles Lamb.--Examiner.
less common to all nations, of depre- cendantly unjust, and divertingly im-,
ciating each other's literature, and pudent, that it is impossible to help giespecially poetical literature.
vingit, once for all, especially as it comes A nation, like a poet, necessarily from a quarter in which good sense, if has a favourite style; the national not great genius, might have been ex-style is only more extended than that pected. It is the prefatory address preof the individual. Any national stand- fixed to Shadwell's “ Miser,” which ard of taste must, of course, be to the commences thus : nation that owns it, as near perfectiɔn “ Reader, the foundation of this as possible ; and because one people is play I took from one of Moliere's, callincapable of entering into some of the ed L'Avare; but that having too few peculiar feelings of another, these persons, and too little action for an feelings are ridiculed, or even denied English theatre, I added to both so to exist. Thus the French, bigotted much that I may call more than half to the dramatic unities, and believing of this play my own, and I think I may that nature and Aristotle are the same, say, without vanity, that Moliere's part designate the works of Shakespeare, has not suffered in my hand; nor did
monstrous farces.” And when Lord lever know a French comedy made use Byron, in his Don Juan, first fairly of by the worst of our poets, that was not introduced into English literature that bettered by'em. 'Tis not barrenness of fantastic mixture of the serious and co- wit or invention that makes us borrow mic, in which Pulci, and some of the from the French, but laziness-; and other precursors of Ariosto, and Ari- this was the occasion of my making use osto himself delighted, many of our of L'Avare!”-Poor Moliere ! It is difhorror-stricken critics imagined, that ficult to read such things as this with
the noble poet sat deliberately down to out thinking of Prior's well-known epiinsult and confound the best feelings gram.—“ Ned” had probably hit upof our nature. Their very hair stood on this sally of Shadwell's, amongst on end at such couplets as,
his other proofs of the absurdities of “ They grieved for those that perish'd poets; and could his “inverted rule," with the cutter,
as Prior wishes, And likewise for the bisquit-casks and “ Prove every fool to be a poet,” butter.”
I am not inclined to think he would So difficult is it to reconcile one's self have turned out half so great a one as at first to any thing that is in opposi- the elegant and witty epigrammatist. tion to a preconceived standard of taste. It may be observed, in conclusion, that The Edinburgh Review has lately let Prior himself was one of the many itself down, by shewing some feelings poets who have preferred their worst of this sort with respect to French li- work. As Milton doated upon terature;
but it is most apparent in radise Regained,” so Prior was enrapour dramatic criticisms, which go be- tured with his prosing poem of “ Soyondall bounds in expressing contempt lomon," and is said to have been highly for the very opposite styles of our neigh vexed on hearing that some one had bours. It is hardly necessary to instance put it below the humorous and exquiany particular passage; but a specimen site “ Alma." occurred to me the other day, so trans
T. D. [We have inserted this ingenious paper, on account of its literary merits ; but we must take leave to enter our protest against the doctrine which the author attempts to inculcate.-We think it indisputable, in so much as poetry is an art, that poets, like other artists, must be the best judges of each other's
skill. In what, therefore, relates to the rhythm, the construction of the verse, - and to the melody of the numbers, a poet, we conceive, must necessarily be a
better judge than any ordinary critic, precisely as a painter is a better judge of pictures, that is, of the style, the drawing, and the colouring, than any ordinary spectator. We think it is paradoxical, therefore, to deny the superiority J. of a poet's critical judgment; and we think so too with respect even to the