Images de page

the matter." Gibbon's legions are heavily armed, and march with precision and dignity to the music of their own tramp. They are splendidly equipped, but a nice eye can discern a little rust beneath their fine apparel, and there are suttlers in his camp who lie, cog, and talk gross obscenity. Macaulay, brisk, lively, keen, and energetic, runs his thoughts rapidly through his sentence, and kicks out of the way every word which obstructs his passage. He reins in his steed only when he has reached his goal, and then does it with such celerity that he is nearly thrown backward by the suddennèss of his stoppage.


4. Gifford's words are moss-troopers, that waylay innocent travelers and murder them for hire. Jeffrey is a fine "lance," with a sort of Ar'ab swiftnèss in his movement, and runs an iron-clad horseman through the eye before he has had time to close his helmet. John Wilson's' camp is a disorganized mass, who might do effectual service under better discipline, but who under his lead are suffered to carry on a rambling and predatory warfare, and disgrace their general by flagitious excesses. Sometimes they steal, sometimes swear, sometimes drink, and sometimes pray.

5. Swift's words are porcupine's quills, which he throws with unerring aim at whoever approaches his lair. All of Ebenezer Elliot's' words are gifted with huge fists, to pummel and bruise. Chatham and Mirabeau' throw hot shot into their opponents' magazines. Talfourd's forces are orderly and disciplined, and march to the music of the Dorian flute; those of Keats' keep time to the tones of the pipe of Phoebus; and the hard, harsh

1 William Gifford, a celebrated English writer, was born in 1756, and died in 1826.

2 John Wilson, a well-known and very eminent Scottish writer, was born in 1785, and died in 1854.

' Ebenezer Elliot, a genuine poet, the celebrated "Corn Law Rhymer," was born in 1781, and died in 1849. 'Chatham, William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, one of the most celebrated of British statesmen and orators, born November 15th, 1708, and died May 11th, 1778.


greatest orators and writers of France, and a leader of the revolution, was born in 1749, and died in 1791.

"Thomas Noon Talfourd, an able English poet and prose writer, an advocate, judge, and member of Parliament, beloved for his social virtues, was born in 1795, and died in 1854.

1 John Keats, a true poet, born in London, in 1796, and died at Rome, in 1820.

"Phoebus, the Bright or Pure, an epithet of Apollo, used to signify the brightness and purity of youth, also Mirabeau, (mè`rå bỏ), one of the applied to him as the Sun-god.

featured battalions of Maginn,' are always preceded by a brass band. Hallam's' word-infantry can do much execution, when they are not in each other's way. Pope's phrases are either daggers or rapiërs.

6. Willis's words are often tipsy with the champagne of the fancy, but even when they reel and stagger they keep the line of grace and beauty, and though scattered at first by a fierce onset from graver cohorts, soon reünite without wound or loss. John Neal's forces are multitudinous, and fire briskly at every thing. They occupy all the provinces of letters, and are nearly useless from being spread over too much ground. Everett's weapons are ever kept in good order, and shine well in the sun, but they are little calculated for warfare, and rarely kill when they strike. Webster's words are thunder-bolts, which sometimes miss the Titans at whom they are hurled, but always leave enduring marks when they strike.

7. Hazlitt's' verbal army is sometimes drunk and surly, sometimes foaming with passion, sometimes cool and malignant ; but drunk or sober, are ever dangerous to cope with. Some of Tom Moore's words are shining dirt, which he flings with excellent aim. This list might be indefinitely extended, and arranged with more regard to merit and chronology. My own words, in this connection, might be compared to ragged, undisciplined militia, which could be easily routed by a charge of horse, and which are apt to fire into each other's faces. WHIPPLE.

E. P. WHIPPLE, one of the youngest and most brilliant of American writers, was born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, on the 8th of March, 1819. When four years of age, his family removed to Salem, where he attended various schools until he was fifteen, when he entered the Bank of General Interest in that city as a clerk. In his eighteenth year, he went to Boston, where he has ever since been occupied mainly with commercial pursuits. Although, from the age of fourteen, Mr. Whipple has been a writer for the press, occasionally writing remarkably well, he was only known as a writer to his few associates and confidants until 1843, when he published in the Boston Miscellany a paper on Macaulay, rivaling in analysis, and reflection, and richness of diction, the best productions

1 William Maginn, L.L. D., an able British writer of prose and poetry, a frequent contributor to "Blackwood's Magazine," the founder of "Frazer's Magazine," was born at Cork, in 1794, and died at Walton-on-the Thames, in 1842.

ar, one of the greatest British historians, author of "View of the State of Europe during the Middle Ages," born in 1777, and died Jan. 21st, 1859.

3 William Hazlitt, a well-known and very able British essayist and critic of art and poetry, born in 1778,

? Henry Hallam, a profound schol- and died in 1830.

of that brilliant essayist. He has since published, in the North American Review, articles on the Puritans, American Poets, Daniel Webster as an Author, Old English Dramatists, British Critics, South's Sermons, Byron, Wordsworth, Talfourd, Sydney Smith, and other subjects; in the American Review, on Beaumont and Fletcher, English Poets of the Nineteenth Century, etc.; and in other periodicals, essays and reviewals enough to form several volumes. As a critic, he writes with keen discrimination, cheerful confidence, and unhesitating freedom; illustrating truth with almost unerring precision, and producing a fair and distinct impression of an author. His style is sensuous, flowing, and idiomatic, abounding in unforced antitheses, apt illustrations, and natural grace.



HOEVER thinks a faultlèss piece to see



Thinks what ne'er was, nor is, nor e'er shall be.

In every work regard the writer's end,

Since none can compass more than they intend;
And, if the means be just, the conduct true,
Applause, in spite of trivial faults, is due.
As men of breeding, sometimes men of wit,
To avoid great errors must the less commit;
Neglect the rules each verbal critic lays;
For not to know some trifles, is a praise.
Most critics, fond of some subservient art,
Still make the whole depend upon a part:
They talk of principles, but notions prize,
And all to one loved folly sacrifice.

2. Some to conceit ălōne their taste confine,

And glittering thoughts struck out at every line;
Pleased with a work where nothing's just or fit;
One glaring chaös and wild heap of wit.
Poets, like painters, thus unskilled to trace
The naked nature, and the living grace,
With gold and jewels cover every part,
And hide with ornaments their want of art.
True wit is Nature to advantage dressed,

What oft was thought, but ne'er so well expressed;
Something, whose truth convinced at sight we find,
That gives us back the image of our mind.
As shades more sweetly recommend the light,
Co modèst plainnèss sets off sprightly wit;

For works may have more wit than does them good,
As bodies perish through excess of blood.
3. Others for language all their care express,

And value books, as women men-for dress:
Their praise is still-the style is excellent:
The sense, they humbly take upon content.
Words are like leaves; and where they most abound,
Much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found.
False eloquence, like the prismatic glass,
Its gaudy colors spreads on every place;
The face of Nature we no more survey,
All glares alike, without distinction gay:
But true expression, like the unchanging sun,
Clears and improves whate'er it shines upon;
It gilds all objects, but it alters none.
4. Expression is the dress of thought, and still
Appears more decent, as more suitable :
A vile conceit in pompous words expressed,
Is like a clown in regal purple dressed;
For different styles with different subjects sort,
As several garbs, with country, town, and court.
In words, as fashions, the same rule will hold ;
Alike fantastic, if too new or old :

Be not the first by whom the new are tried,
Nor yet the last to lay the old aside.

5. But most by numbers judge a poet's song;

And smooth or rough, with them, is right or wrong.
In the bright Muse though thousand charms conspire,
Her voice is all these tuneful fools admire ;

Who haunt Parnassus' but to please their ear,

Not mend their minds; as some to church repair,
Not for the doctrine, but the music there.

These, equal syllables alone require,

Though oft the ear the open vowels tire;

While expletives their feeble aid do join,

And ten slow words oft creep in one dull line :
While they ring round the same unvaried chimes,
With sure returns of still expected rhymes;

1 Par năs' sus, a celebrated mountain in Greece, considered in mythology as sacred to Apollo and the Muses.


Where'er you find the "cooling western breeze,"
In the next line it "whispers through the trees :"
If crystal streams "with pleasing murmurs creep,"
The reader's threatened (not in vain) with "sleep :"
Then at the last and only couplet, fraught

With some unmeaning thing they call a thought,
A needless Alexandrine' ends the song,

That, like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along.
6. Leave such to tune their own dull rhymes, and know
What's roundly smooth or languishingly slow;
And praise the easy vigor of a line,


Where Denham's' strength and Waller's sweetness join. True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, As those move easiest who have learned to dance. 'Tis not enough no harshness gives offence; The sound must seem an echo to the sense: Soft is the strain when Zephyr gently blows, And the cool stream in smoother numbers flows; But when loud surges lash the sounding shore, The hoarse, rough verse should like the torrent roar. 7. When Ajax' strives some rock's vast weight to throw; The line too labors, and the words move slow:

Not so when swift Camilla scours the plain,

Flies o'er the unbending corn, and skims along the main :
Hear how Timotheüs' varied lays surprise,

And bids altern'ate passions fall and rise!
While, at each change, the son of Libyan Jove'

■ Al ex ăn' drine, a verse or line of twelve syllables, so called from a poem written in French, on the life of Alexander.

* Sir J. Denham, an English writer of verse, born in 1615, and died in 1668.

'Edmund Waller, one of the most famous of the early English poets, born in 1605, and died in 1687.

4 Ajax, one of the Grecian princes in the Trojan war, and, next to Achilles, the bravest.

"Camilla, daughter of King Metabus, of the Volscian town of Triver

num, was one of the swift-footed ser vants of Diana, accustomed to the chase and to war. Virgil represents her as so swift and light of foot, that she could run over a field of corn without bending the stalks, or over the sea without wetting her feet.

Ti mō' the us, a famous musician and poet, born at Miletus, B. C. 446, and died in 357, in the ninetieth year of his age. Also the name of a distinguished flute-player, the favorite of Alexander the Great.

Son of Libyan Jove, a name which Alexander the Great arrogated.

« PrécédentContinuer »