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Brutus, and the hasty choler and repentance of Calius, with their reconciliation, is nobly expressed ; Brutus says,
O Caffius, I am fick of many griefs.
Carus. Of your philosophy you make no use,
Brutus. No man bears forrow better-Portia's dead,
Here the grief in Brutus, and the surprise in Caffius, is better expressed than it could have been in a multitude of fine speeches ; fince indeed both are inexpressible in any other manner.
The paffions of anger, grief and joy, as we have already obferved, are not to be loaded with fțudied metaphors, fimiles and descriptions, as they too frequently are in our English tragedies ; for here they are highly improper, and therefore inelegant and unaffecting. Nature, in a tumultuous state, has not time to look round her for expressions that are delicate and pretty, but thunders out such as the paffion has excited, and those often in broken and interrupted sentences. These passions therefore are, in general, better expressed by fudden starts, fuppreffions, apoftrophes, exclamations, and broken and unconnected fentences, than by a forced and studied dignity. Nor in these need the writer be afraid of expressing himself improperly, if he feels, as he ought to do, the passion he would excite in others ; for, as we have elsewhere observed, the mind is extremely ready in culling such phrases as are immediately for her purpose ; and this is the reason why the common ignorant people, and even children, when under violent emotions of mind, so often express themselves with force, propriety, and elegance.
The rules and cautions we have here laid down, will at all times be found useful ; but none are sufficient to teach this art without daily practice, and a constant perusal of the beit authors: to which let me add, that a fertile imaginanation, a clear conception, and a good ear, are indispenfably neceffary.-- Fancy is the foundation of poctry.Without a good imagination nothing can be new, and therefore not valuable; without a clear conception nothing can be clearly or elegantly expressed ; for where there is confusion in the head, perspicuity can never flow from the
pen ; and with regard to composition and versification, a good ear is beyond all the rules in the world.
We are now to speak of the laws and rules of the fevesal kinds of poetry, as laid down by the best critics, and to give specimens of such as will fall within the compass of our design
HE writers on the art of poetry have asually claffed
the several sorts of poems under the following heads, S'ix. the Epigram, the Elegy, the Paftoral, the Ode, the Satire, Comedy, Tragedy, and the Epic poem. This dif. tribution, however, seems insufficient, and therefore we hope a deviation from the learned in this respect will not appear arrogant or disagreeable ; especially if the alterarions we propose should be found to have their basis in truth and right reafon.
Every thing in nature, that is diftin&t and different from all others, should have a name, whereby it may be diftinguished without a tedious enumeration of its properties and adjuncts ; fince a method of that kind would occasion infinite perplexity and confusion, which is ever to be avoided, and especially in matters of science ; and, if on mature examination it be found, that there are poems of consider able character which are essentially different from those we have already mentioned, and are not to be resolved into any of them, another distribution may be justified.
The Epitaph, on account, perhaps, of the epigrammatic point with which those little pieces are often closed, has been usually classed with the epigram ; but as there are numberless epitaphs whose excellency does not confift in thining thoughts and points of wit, (the characteriftics of our modern epigrams) we fhall take the freedom to aflign them a diftin&t place.
Epistles, descriptive and preceptive poems, tales, fables, and allegorical poetry, deserve the same distinction; for as these methods of writing have obtained much of late, they are of too great consequence to be passed over, and it seems impossible
to treat of them under any other article without manifest incongruity. It may be said, indeed, that many of our epi. itles (especially those of Horace and Mr. Pope) partake of the satire ; but that is no reason why others that are of a quite different nature fhould be placed under that head. The descriptive poems of Milton, I mean his L'Allegro and Il Penferoso, as well as Denham's Cooper's Hill, Pope's Winsor Forefl, and others in our language, cannot be classed under any of the usual divisions of poetry; nor indeed can the preceptive poems with any degree of accuracy or thew of reason. Virgil's Georgics, Horace's Art of Poetry, the duke of Buckinghamshire's EGay, Roscommon on translated Ferse, Pope's Effay on Man, and his Elay on Criticism, ale so effentially different and distine from any of the usual classes, that the critics, with all their art, will never be able to discover any real agreement between them; nor will they deny, I suppose, but tiiat Virgii's Georgics, and Pope's Ejay on Man, deserve as niuch: esieem at least as their paitorals, though they have been thus neglected in their di. vifion of this art. If it be faid, that the other species of poetry often partake of all these different kinds, I answer, that is no objection ; for this they occasionally do of each Other : even the epic poem, with all its dignity, has sometimes the plaintive strain of the elegy, and the farcafm and asperity of fatire.
Tales and fables, indeed, when they are of any value, are in general either didactic or satirical, and may therefore be resolved into the preceptive poem or the satire ; but as there is something peculiar in their compofition, we shall afsign them a distinct chapter, and deliver what we have farther to say on this art under the following heads, viz. the Epigram, the Epitaph, the Elegy, the Pastoral, the Epiftle, the Descriptive Poem, the Preceptive Poem, Tales and Fables, the Allegorical Poem, the Ode, the Satire, Comedy, Tragedy, and the Heroic poem, of which the Epic is the most exalted part, and requires the utmost extent of human genius.
HE Epigram is a little poem, or composition in verse,
treating of one thing only, and whose distinguishing characiers are Brevity, Beauty, and Point.
The word Epigram signifies Inscription ; for epigrams derive their origin from those inscriptions placed by the antients on their ftatues, temples, pillars, triumphal archesy. and the like ; which, at first, were very thort, being some-wmes no more than a single word, but afterwards, increas. ing their length, they made them in verse, to be the better retained by the memory. This short way of writing came at last to be used upon any occasion or subject; and hence. the name of Epigram has been given to any little copy of verses, without regard to the original application of such poems.
Its usual limits are from two to twenty verses, though. Sometimes it extends to fifty; but the shorter the better it. is, and the more perfect, as it partakes more of the nature. and character of this kind of poem : Besides, the epigram, being only a single thought, ought to be expressed in a little compass, or else it loses its force and Itrength.
The Beauty required in an Epigram is an harmony and apt agreement of all its parts, a sweet fimplicity, and fo. lite language.
The Point is a Marp, lively, unexpected turn of wit, with which an epigram ought to be concluded. There are some critics, indeed, who will not admit the Point in an Epi. gram, but require the thought to be equally diffused through the whole poem, which is usually the practice of Catullus, as the former is that of Martial. It is allow'd there is more delicacy in the manner of Catullus, but the point is more agreeable to the general taste, and seems to be the chief characteristic of the Epigrom.
This sort of poem admits of all manner of subjects, provided that Brevity, Beauty, and Point are preserved; but it is generally employed either in Praise or Satire.
Tho' the best Epigrams are said to be such as are comprized in two or four verses, we are not to understand it as if none can be perfect which exceed those limits. Neither the antients nor moderns have been so scrupulous with respect to the length of their Epigrams; but however, Brevity in general is always to be studied in these compofitions.
For examples of good Epigrams in the English language, we shall make choice of several in the different tastes we have mention'd; some remarkable for their delicate turn and fimplicity of expression, and others for their salt and sharpness, their equivocating pun, or pleasant allufion. In the first place, take that of Mr. Pope, said to be written on a glass with the earl of Chesterfield's diamond pencil :
Accept a miracle, instead of wit;
See two dull lines by Stanhope's pencil writ. The Beauty of this Epigram is more easily seen than described. For my part I am at a loss to determine whether je does more honour to the poet who wrote it, or to the nobleman for whom the compliment is designed.-The following Epigram of Mr. Prior is written in the fame taste, being a fine encomium on the performance of an excellent painter.
On a Flower, painted by VARELST.
Behold one work of mine which ne'er Jhall fade.