Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

liberty tò pursue that course of life to which he was most powerfully prompted by inclination.

The poetic vein in these Writers takes that turn, which a stranger must have expected upon hearing their characters. Their pieces are gay, entertaining, loose, elegant, and ornamented with a rich profusion of the graces of description. The reader of sensibility will receive the highest pleasure from perusing their works, in which the internal movements of the mind, warmed by imagination, or agitated by passion, are exposed in the happiest and most agreeable attitudes. This perhaps is. the principal excellence of the looser branches of poetic composition. The mind of the Poet in these pieces is supposed to be intensely kindled by his subject. His Fancy assumes the rein, and the operation of reason is for a moment suspended. He follows the impulse of Enthusiasm ; and throws off those simple, but lively. strokes of Nature and Passion, which can only be felt, and are beyond imitation.

- - -“ Ut fibi quivis
" Speret idem, fudet multum, frustraque laboret
“ Ausus idem "!" -- -
All may hope to imitate with ease :
Yet while they strive the same success to gain,
Shall find their labour and their hopes are vain,

FRANCIS.
m Hor. de Art. Poet,
04

THE

· The unequal measures which are used in these shorter Odes, are likewise adapted with great propriety to the subjects of which they treat. Horace says, that this inequality of numbers was originally fixed upon as ex- : pressive of the complaints of a lover ; but he adds, that they became quickly expressive likewise of his exultation :

Verlibus impariter junctis querimonia primum,
“ Post etiam inclusa est voti sententia compos "."

Unequal measures first were taught to flow,

Sadly expressive of the Lover's woe. These looser and shorter measures distinguish this branch of the Ode from the Hymn, which was composed in heroic measure °; and from the Pindaric Ode (as it is commonly called) to which the dithyrambique or more diversified stanza was particularly appropriated, Of the shorter Ode therefore priety,

“ Son stile impetueux souvent marche au hazarde
« Chez un beau disordre est un effect de l'art ?."

» Hor. de Art. Poet.

σιν οι μεν αντι των Ιαμβων, Κωμω: • Ariftotle expressly mentions COTO101 ESVoVTO' 01 de arte to. this circumftance, when he explains Επων τραγωδιδασκαλοι, δια τω the Origin of the Drama: IIapa fiera vai grifiorspel Ta o Xhilla telo paveldas de 7915 Tparadies xeloidl elas Taula Exelrwy. Kwadras, O! CP EXC TEPOV 711 torn

A8107. Toint. x96. do oey aqjWDTES XaTa Thy Orxe remun P Boil. Art. Poet.

Thus

Thus, my Lord, we have taken a view of the Lyric Poetry of the Ancients, as it appeared originally in the works of the earliest Poets, and as it was afterwards em· ployed to enliven a train of more elegant and delicate sentiment. I have attempted, in the course of this enquiry, to follow the lights which Antiquity throws on this subject as closely as possible, to explain facts by placing them in connection, and to illustrate reasoning by example.

Your Lordship's acquaintance with the principles of civil Government, and your experience of the effects of education, have enabled you to observe the Character, which the Manners of an Age stamp upon the productions of the Authors who live in it. Experience will convince us, that these general revolutions resemble more nearly, than we are apt to imagine at first view, the circumstances of an Individual at the different periods of life. In one age he is captivated by the beauties of description, at another he is fond of the deductions of Philosophy; his opinions vary with his years; and his actions, as directed by these, are proportionably diversified. In all these circumstances however, the original bias which he received from Nature remains unalterable ; and the peculiarity of his character appears conspicuous, notwithstanding the accidental diversity of Aluctuating

sentiments.

I

[ocr errors]

sentiments. It is to be expected in such a situation, that changes similar to these will usually take place in arts, which are susceptible of perpetual mutation ; and of this a particular instance is exhibited in the preceding detail. Another branch of this subject remains to be considered, and on this I shall give your Lordship the trouble of perusing a few remarks in a subsequent letter. Permit me only to observe, from what hath already been advanced, that the ingredients of Genius are often bestowed by Nature, when the polish of Art is wanted to mould the original materials into elegant proportion. He who poflefseth the former in the highest degree, may be a Shakespear or an Æschylus; but both were united in forming the more perfe& characters of Demosthenes and Homer.

LETTER

LET TER II.

T HE view, my Lord, of the Lyric Poetry of the

1 Ancients, which has been taken in the preceding part of this Essay, may probably have suggested a Quertion to your Lordship, to which it is necessary that an answer should be given, before I enter upon that part of the subject which remains to be considered. From the observations formerly made, I am afraid that your Lordship has been looking upon my procedure, as you would have viewed that of the honest Irishman, who pulled an old house about his ears, before he had reflected that it was necessary to substitute a better in its room. In the same manner you will perhaps think, that I have taken a good deal of pains to point out the Defects of Lyric Poetry, and to aflign the Causes which originally produced them; without however establishing the rules of this branch of the Art, and without enquiring what proportion of poetic embellishment naturally belongs to it, consýdered as distinguished from every other species.

Permit me therefore to obferve, that my intention in the preceding remarks will be greatly mistaken, if,

whe

« ZurückWeiter »