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Brutus, and the hasty choler and repentance of Caffius, with their reconciliation, is nobly expressed ; Brutus fays, - O Caffius, I am fick of many griefs. Caffius. Of your philosophy you make no ufe, If you give place to accidental evils. Brutus. No man bears forrow better–Portia's dead. Caffius. Ha ! Portia ! Brutus. She is dead. Caffius. How 'scap'd I killing when I croft you fo ? Here the grief in Brutus, and the furprife in Caffius, is better exprefied than it could have been in a multitude of fine speeches ; fince indeed both are inexpressible in any other manner. , , The pastions of anger, grief and joy, as we have already observed, are not to be loaded with studied metaphors, fimiles and descriptions, as they too frequently are in our English tragedies ; for here they are highly improper, and therefore inelegant and unaffećting. Nature, in a tumultuous state, has not time to look round her for expressions that are delicate and pretty, but thunders out fuch as the paffion has excited, and those often in broken and interrupted fentences. Thefe pastions therefore are, in general, better expressed by fudden starts, suppressions, apostrophes, exclamations, and broken and unconnećted fentences, than by a forced and studied dignity. Nor in these need the writer be afraid of expresfing himself improperly, if he feels, as he ought to do, the pastion he would excite in others ; for, as we have elsewhere observed, the mind is extremely ready in culling fuch 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 praćtice, and a constant perusal of the best authors: to which let me add, that a fertile imaginanation, a clear conception, and a good ear, are indifpenfably necessary.– 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 confufion in the head, perspicuity can never flow from the
pen ; and with regard to compofition 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 feveral kinds of poetry, as laid down by the best critics, and to give specimens of fuch as will fall within the compass of our defign. .
C H A P. VII.
the feveral forts of poems under the following heads,
vix. the Epigram, the Elegy, the Pastoral, the Ode, the
Every thing in nature, that is distinét and different from
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 confist in fhining thoughts and points of wit, (the charaćteristics of our modern epigrams) we shall take the freedom to affign them a distinćt place.
Epistles, descriptive and preceptive poems, tales, fables, and allegorical poetry, deserve the fame distinétion; for as these methods of writing have obtained much of late, they are of too great consequence to be pasted over, and it seems impossible
to treat of them under any other article without manifest incongruity. It may be faid, indeed, that many of our epifiles (especially thofe of Horace and Mr. Pope) partake of the fatire ; but that is no reason why others that are of a quite different nature fhould be placed under that head. The destriptive poems of Milton, I mean his L'Allegro and Il Penferoso, as well as Denham's Cooper's Hill, Pope's Wingfor Forest, 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 fhew of reason. Virgil's Georgics, Horace's Art of Poetry, the duke of Buckinghamshire's Effay, Roscommon on tran/lated Ferse, Pope's Effay on Man, and his Effay on Criticism, are fo eslentially different and distinćt 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 that Virgil's Georgics, and Pope's Effay on Man, deferve as much esteem at least as their paitorals, though they have been thus neglected in their divifion of this art. If it be faid, that the other species of poetry often partake of all thefe different kinds, I answer, that is no objection ; for this they occasionally do of eaclr other : even the epic poem, with all its dignity, has fometimes the plaintive strain of the elegy, and the farcafm and afperity of fatire.
Tales and fables, indeed, when they are of any value, are in general either didaćtic or fatirical, and may therefore be resolved into the preceptive poem or the fatire ; but as there is fomething peculiar in their composition, we shall assign them a distinét chapter, and deliver what we have farther to fay on this art under the following heads, viz. the Epigram, the Epitaph, the Elegy, the Pastoral, the Epistle, the Descriptive Poem, the Preceptive Poem, Tales and Fables, the Ållegorical 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.
C H A P. VIII,
treating of one thing only, and whose distinguishing characiers are Brevity, Beauty, and Point. The word Epigram fignifies Inscription ; for epigrams derive their origin from those inscriptions placed by the an- | tients on their statues, temples, pillars, triumphal arches,.
and the like ; which, at first, were very short, being some-times no more than a fingle word, but afterwards, increafing their length, they made them in verse, to be the better retained by the memory. This short way of writing came T at last to be used upon any occafion or subjećt ; and hence | | the name of Epigram has been given to any little copy of verses, without regard to the original application of fuch. Poems. | Its usual límits are from two to twenty verses, though. fometimes it extends to fifty ; but the shorter the better it. | is, and the more perfećt, as it partakes more of the nature. (i. and charaćter of this kind of poem : Besides, the epigram, being only a fingle thought, ought to be expressed in a little compafs, or elfe it loses its force and strength. The Beauty required in an Epigram is an harmony and apt agreement of all its parts, a sweet simplicity, and po- | lite language. , The Point is a fharp, lively, unexpećted turn of wit, with which an epigram ought to be concluded. There are fome 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 praćtice 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 charaćteristic of the Epigram. - } This fort of poem admits all manner of subjećts, provided that Brevity, Beauty, and Point are preferved ; but it is generally employed either in Praise or Satire.
a - -- –
Tho' the best Epigrams are faid to be fuch as are comprized in two or four verfes, we are not to understand it as if none can be perfect which exceed those limits. Neither the antients nor moderns have been fo 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 Engli/% language, we shall make choice of feveral in the different taftes we have mention'd ; some remarkable for their delicate turn and fimplicity of expression, and others for their falt and sharpnefs, their equivocating pun, or pleafant allufion. In the first place, take that of Mr. Pope, faid to be written on a glass with the earl of Chesterfeld's diamond pencil :
Accept a miracle, instead of wit;
The Beauty of this Epigram is more easily feen than defcribed. For my part I am at a lofs to determine whether it does more honour to the poet who wrote it, or to the nobleman for whom the compliment is defigned.–The following Epigram of Mr. Prior is written in the fame taste, being a fine encomium on the performance of an excellent painter.
Another compliment of this delicate kind he has made
V E N U s mistaken.
When Ch Loe's pićture was to V EN Us shown ;
Surpriz’d, tne Goddefs took it for her own.
And what, faid fhe, does this bold painter mean ? "
When was I bathing thus, and naked feen ?
Pleas'd CUP I D heard, and check'd his mother's pride:
And who's blind now, mamma ? the urchin cry'd,