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Dr. Donne. From the diligent study of these few originals, we have no doubt that an entire art of poetry may be collected, by the assistance of which the very gentlest of our readers may soon be qualified to compose a poem as correAly versified as Thalaba, and deal out sentiment and description, with all the sweetness of Lambe, and all the magnificence of Coleridge.
The most distinguished symbol of the authors of whom we are now speaking, is undoubtedly an affectation of great simplicity and familiarity of language. They disdain to make use of the common poetical phraseology, or to ennoble their diction hy a selection of fine or dignified expressions. There would be too much art in this, for that great love of nature with which they are all of them inspired ; and their sentiments they are de termined shall be indebted, for their effect, to nothing but their intrinsick tenderness or elevation. There is something very noble and conscientious, we will confess, in this plan of composition, but the misfortune is, that there are passages in all poems that can neither be pathetick nor sublime ; and that, on these occasions, a neglect of the establishments of the language is very apt to produce absolute meanness and insipidity. The language of passion, indeed, can scarcely be deficient in elevation ; and when an author is wanting in that particular, he may commonly be presumed to have failed in the truth, as well as in the digni. ty of his expression. The case, however, is extremely different from the subordinate parts of a composition ; with the narrative and description, that are necessary to preserve its connexion ; and the explanation that must frequently prepare us for the great scenes and splendid passages. In these all the requisite ideas may be conveyed, with sufficient clearness, by the meanest and most negligent expressions; and if magnificence or beauty is ev. er to be observed in them, it must have been introduced from some other motive than that of adapting the style to the subject. It is in such passages accordingly, that we are most frequently offended with low and inelegant expressions ; and that the language, which was intended to be simple and natural, is found oftenest to degenerate into mere slovenliness and vulgarity. It is in vain, too, to expect that the meanness of those parts may be redeemed by the excellence of others. A poet, who aims at all at sublimity or pathos, is like an actor in a high tragick character, and must sustain his dignity throughout, or become altogether ridiculous. We are apt enough to laugh at the mock. majesty of those whom we know to be bat common mortals in private şi and cannot permit Hamlet to make use of a single provincial intonation, although it should only be in his conversation with the grave-diggers.
• The followers of simplicity are, at all times, in danger of 06. casional degradation ; but the simplicity of this new school seems to be intended to ensure it. Their simplicity does not con sist, by any means, in the rejection of glaring or superfluous ornament or in that refinement of art which seeks concealment in its own perfection. It consists, on the contrary, in a very great degree, in the positive and bona fide rejection of art altogether, and in the bold use of those rude and negligent expres. sions, which would be banished by a little discrimination. One of their own authors, indeed, has very ingeniously set forth, (in a kind of manifesto, that preceded one of their most flagrant acts of hostility), that it was their capital object to adapt to the uses of poetry, the ordinary language of conversation among the middling and lower orders of the people. What advantages are to be gained by the success of this project, we confess ourselves unable to conje&ure. The language of the higher and more cultivated orders may fairly be presumed to be better than that of their inferiours; at any rate, it has all those associations in its favour, by means of which a style can ever appear beau. tiful or exalted, and is adapted to the purposes of poetry, by having been long consecrated to its use. The language of the vulgar, on the other hand, has all the opposite associations to contend with, and must seem unfit for poetry, (if there were no other reason), merely because it has scarcely ever been employed in it. A great genius may indeed overcome these disadvantages; but we scarcely conceive that he should court them. We may excuse a certain homeliness of language in the productions of a ploughman, or a milkwoman ; but we cannot bring our. selves to admire it in an author, who has had occasion to indite odes to his college-bell, and inscribe hymns to the Penates.
THE PORT FOLIO.
THIS miscellany has at length made its appearance, and we believe, not in its typographical elegance, but in the talents which are displayed in it, has generally gratified the desires of impatience, and fulfilled the expectations of criticism. How far the entire exclusion of all political and religious topicks may be popular, the conductors, having probably reflected much upon the plan, are undoubtedly the most experienced judges. For our part, we consider them topicks of the most general interest, and we believe there has never long existed any publication of great celebrity or circulation, which has not been obliged to take some decided part in the political and religious controversies of the times. The Gentleman's Magazine, certainly, soon after it was established, resorted to political discussion to increase its circulation ; the Monthly and Edinburgh Reviews, Aikin's Athenæum, the Literary Panorama, and the Monthly Magazine, all maintain a certain set of political opinions, and adhere to them with the most scrupulous pertinacity. Whilst, therefore, we should naturally be led to doubt, whether a publication conducted on the present plan of the Port Folio would probably excite a very extended interest in the publick mind, yet we are ardent admirers of the abilities with which the work appears to be conducted, and we want no further poof to convince us how effe&ually it will. vindicate the literary reputation of America.'
As the basis on which the conductors of this publication intend to erect their reputation is literature exclusively, so to give variety to the parts and beauty to the whole fabrick, they expect to derive assistance from many workmen. The Biographer, the Satirist, the Dramatick Critick, the Antiquary, the Philosopher, the Essayist, the Historian, the Poet, the Traveller, the Humourist, the Novelist, and Man of Science will lend their aid to diversify and adorn with their united powers the pages of the Port Folio. We cannot question the ability of the whole confedcracy, when the pleasures we have derived from the labours of only one of them for a long course of years, have been so exquisite and powerful. This solid column of(literature,' has indeed a broad base ; and if a purely literary establishment can succeed
in this country, such conductors as those apparently concerned in this work, and such only will be able to attain an object at the same time so desirable and uncertain. We shalt delight to mark the luminous progress of this orb through the literary hemisphere ; but we fear it will rather resemble a comet, calculated to excite our wonder and amazement for a transient period, than a luminary of steadier light, which we can permanently enjoy. We think that the scholar and philosopher
will delight to encourage so praiseworthy an establishment but they are few, and widely scattered in our country; as to the • merchant, manufacturer and man of the world, we believe few of them would peruse, and still fewer applaud a publication, the object of which is to extend the boundaries of science, add new accuracy to taste, and cultivate the growth of literary en• terprize.
THE NEW CHURCH.
THE NEW MEETING-HOUSE, which is to be erected at the head of the Mall, should, in order to be made a profitable speculation, contain a cellar of sufficient convenience to admit grog-shops and confectioners' stalls, like that under the Old South. It will be found a place of extremely convenient resort for the coach-men and other idle gentlemen, who frequent that part of the town ; and will not be in any respect inconsistent with the principles of Calvinism, which the church itself will espouse. The leaders may then have abundant proofs of the natural depravity of man, and of the influence of the spirit in counteracting human reason. They may expect a hopeful stock of recruits, with all the important qualifications requisite to be admitted in. to the ranks of Hopkinsianism, viz. first, a loss of reason ; next, an abundance of ardent spirit ; and lastly, an ample stock of natural depravity. The great increase of such incomprehensible tenets of late years may perhaps be accounted for, from the combination of grog-shops with meeting-houses, so frequently observable in New England.
WE are obliged to a correspondent for the following ODE, which we think will vindicate the reputation of the writer from the charge of being addicted to a simplicity bordering on folly in his compositions. There are expressions in this composition, of a most elevating and surprising effect ; and it will certainly trope, simile and metaphor it, as Mr. Bayes says, with any ode in Christendom.
SOAP, RAZORS, & HOT WATER;
A TONSORIAL ODE.
And Smallpeace will shave 'em if he can come at 'em :-
From the place where he lay,
He springs in array,
From the old race of BARBERS a young generation,
Whose RAZORS so keen
Will shave you so clean,
ITS fumes warm the face, and run swift up our noses.