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and verse are intermixed (not as in the Consolation of Boethius,* or the ARGENIS of Barclay,' by the insertion of poems supposed to have been spoken or composed on occasions previously related in prose, but), the poet passing from one to the other, as the nature of the thoughts or his own feelings dictated. Yet this mode of composition does not satisfy a cultivated taste. There is something unpleasant in the being thus obliged to alternate states of feeling so dissimilar, and this too in a species of writing, the pleasure from which is in part derived from the preparation and previous expectation of the reader. A portion of that awkwardness is felt which hangs upon the introduction of songs in our modern comic operas; and to prevent which the judicious Metastasio (as to whose exquisite taste there can be no hesitation, whatever doubts may be entertained as to his poetic genius) uniformly placed the aria at the end of the scene, at the same time that he almost always raises and impassions the style of the
Rebellion, was on account of "a little ship-money," or to revenge the loss" of three or four ears,"-not to decide whether the country was to be governed by an absolute or a limited monarchy; whether the Church of England should be approximated to Rome or maintained in the spirit of the Reformation; whether ecclesiastical rulers were to fine, scourge, mutilate, and immure for life in wretched prisons any who opposed their views and proceedings, or whether they must learn to uphold the Church in a manner more conformable to Christianity. Yet Cowley, while he thus could represent the cause of Hampden, exalts that of Brutus !-whom Dante places for his rebellion in the lowest deep of punishment; such is poetical injustice! Methinks this whole discourse against old Noll is like "the shadow of a giant in the evening"-big and black, but of no force or substance.
Cowley wrote eleven other discourses by way of essays in verse and prose, ib., p. 79–148. This remarkable writer and worthy man died July 25, 1667, aged forty-nine. S. C.]
4 [An. Manl. Sever. Boëtii Consolationis Philosophiæ, Lib. v. Boëtius or Boëthius was born about A.D. 470. S. C.]
[The Argenis, quoted at p. 275, towards the end of chap. ix., is a sort of didactic romance, in imitation of the Satyricon of Petronius. The author, John Barclay, was born 1592, died 1621. He flourished at the Court of James I. (who was delighted with his Satyricon Euphormionis) -and published, besides several prose works, a collection of poems in two vols. 4to. It is said that his prose is superior to his verse, but that all his works discover wit and genius. S. C.]
recitative immediately preceding. Even in real life, the differ. ence is great and evident between words used as the arbitrary marks of thought, our smooth market-coin of intercourse, with the image and superscription worn out by currency; and those which convey pictures either borrowed from one outward object to enliven and particularize some other; or used allegorically to body forth the inward state of the person speaking; or such as are at least the exponents of his peculiar turn and unusual extent of faculty. So much so indeed, that in the social circles of private life we often find a striking use of the latter put a stop to the general flow of conversation, and by the excitement arising from concentred attention produce a sort of damp and interruption for some minutes after. But in the perusal of works of literary art, we prepare ourselves for such language; and the business of the writer, like that of a painter whose subject requires unusual splendor and prominence, is so to raise the lower and neutral tints, that what in a different style would be the commanding colors, are here used as the means of that gentle degra dation requisite in order to produce the effect of a whole. Where this is not achieved in a poem, the metre merely reminds the reader of his claims in order to disappoint them; and where this defect occurs frequently, his feelings are alternately startled by anticlimax and hyperclimax.
I refer the reader to the exquisite stanzas cited for another purpose from THE BLIND HIGHLAND Boy; and then annex, as being in my opinion instances of this disharmony in style, the two following:
[The popular Italian dramatic poet, Pietro Metastasio, whose original name was Trapassi, was born at Rome on the 3d of January, 1698, died April 12th, 1782.
Metastasio, though not born to affluence or gentility, was pursued through life by the favors of the rich and powerful, as well as the admiration of the crowd. He was a favorite of Nature in such a way as made him also a favorite of Fortune, and possessed all admirable qualities of mind and person that are understood at first sight. He took the ecclesiastical habit and the title of Abate, though his life and writings, so closely connected with the stage, were not much in accordance with the exterior of a grave spiritual calling. But the Church of Rome has never disdained attractive worldly alliances. S. C.]
'And one, the rarest, was a shell,
Which he, poor child, had studied well;
And hollow;-you might sit therein,
"Our Highland Boy oft visited
The house which held this prize: and, led
By choice or chance, did thither come
And found the door unbarred."7
[Mr Wordsworth has interposed three new stanzas between the firs and second of the quotations, and has altered the first thus:
"The rarest was a turtle-shell
Which he, poor child, had studied well;
A shell of ample size and light
As the pearly car of Amphitrite,
That sportive dolphins drew."
The history of the Blind Boy's choice of a vessel is now told in nine stanzas (besides a tenth at the end of the whole poem)-originally in these three:
Strong is the current: but be mild,
A bee-hive would be ship as safe
But say what was it? Thought of fear!
A Household Tub, like one of those
Close to the water he had found
He paddled up and down.
Vol. ii., p. 72-3, edit., 1807.
There are some lovers of poetry, and Mr. Wordsworth's especially, who cannot help preferring these three stanzas to the nine of later date; if the words in italics could be replaced by others less anti-poetic. The ad
Or page 172, vol. I.
""Tis gone forgotten, let me do
My best. There was a smile or two-
The smiles worth all the world to me.
Dear Baby! I must lay thee down:
I cannot keep thee in my arms;
For they confound me: as it is,
I have forgot those smiles of his !"
Or page 269, vol. I.'
vantage of the real incident they think, is that, as being more simple and seeming natural, and capable of being quickly told, it detains the mind but a little while from the main subject of interest: while the other is so peculiar that it claims a good deal of separate attention. The new stanzas are beautiful, but being more ornate than the rest of the poems, they look rather like a piece of decorated architecture introduced into a building in an earlier and simplier style. Such are the whims of certain crazy lovers of the Wordsworthian Muse, who are so loyal to her former self that they sometimes forget the deference due to her at present. S. C.]
8 [P. W., i., p. 186. Mr. Wordsworth has altered some lines in the fifth stanza of this deeply affecting poem, thus:
'Tis gone-like dreams that we forget:
Through prickly moors or dusty ways must wind;
But hearing thee, or others of thy kind,
As full of gladness and as free of heaven,
I, with my fate contented, will plod on,
And hope for higher raptures, when Life's day is done. S. C]
"Thou hast a nest, for thy love and thy rest,
Happy, happy liver!
With a soul as strong as a mountain river
I on the earth will go plodding on
By myself cheerfully till the day is done."
The incongruity, which I appear to find in this passage, is that of the two noble lines in italics with the preceding and following. So vol. ii., page 30.10
"Close by a Pond, upon the further side,
He being all the while before me full in view."11
10 [P. W., i, p. 117. The poem is entitled Resolution and Independence, and is sometimes spoken of as The Leechgatherer.
11 [Mr. Wordsworth has now done away the original ix th stanza to which these five lines belonged, and concludes the viii th thus:
Beside a pool bare to the eye of heaven
I saw a Man before me unawares :
The oldest man he seemed that ever wore grey hairs.
And I with these untoward thoughts had striven,
Some regret the old conclusion of stanza xiv.
"He answered me with pleasure and surprise;
which now ends thus:
"Ere he replied, a flash of mild surprise
Broke from the sable orbs of his yet vivid eyes." S. C.)