« 上一頁繼續 »
appointed in his countenance, and recognised in it no likeness to the bust. There was no comprehension in the forehead, no weight over the eye-brows, no expression of peculiarity, moral or intellectual, on the eyes, no massiveness in the general countenance. He is, if anything, rather below the middle size. He wore very large half-boots, which his legs filled, so fearfully were they swollen. However, though neither W - nor myself could discover any indications of sublimity or enthusiasm in his physiognomy, we were both equally impressed with his liveliness, and his kind and ready courtesy. He talked in French with my friend, and with difficulty spoke a few sentences to me in English. His enunciation was not in the least affected by the entire want of his upper teeth. The conversation began on his part by the expression of his rapture at the surrender of the detachment of French troops under General Humbert. Their proceedings in Ireland with regard to the committee which they had appointed, with the rest of their organizing system, seemed to have given the poet great entertainment. He then declared his sanguine belief in Nelson's victory, and anticipated its confirmation with a keen and triumphant pleasure. His words, tones, looks, implied the most vehement Anti-Gallicanism.
The subject changed to literature, and I inquired in Latin concerning the history of German poetry and the elder German poets.
To my great astonishment he confessed, that he knew very little on the subject. He had indeed occasionally read one or two of their elder writers, but not so as to enable him to speak of their merits. Professor Ebeling, he said, would probably give me every information of this kind : the subject had not particularly excited his curiosity. He then talked of Milton and Glover, and thought Glover's blank verse superior to Milton's. W
represents the Muse of Britain and the Muse of Germany running a race. The piece seems to me more rhetorical than strictly poetical ; and if the younger Muse's power of keeping up the race depends on productions of this sort, I would not give a penny for a chance, at least if the contest relates to pure poetry. Klopstock's Herman (mentioned afterwards) consists of three chorus dramas, as Mr. Taylor calls them: The Battle of Herman, Herman and the Princes, and The Death of Herman. Herman is the Arminius of the Roman historians. S. C.]
? [Leonidas, an epic poem, by R. Glover, first appeared in May, 1737: in
expressed our surprise : and my friend gave his definition and notion of harmonious verse, that it consisted (the English iambic blank verse above all) in the apt arrangement of pauses and cadences, and the sweep of whole paragraphs,
the fifth edition, published in 1770, it was corrected and extended from nine books to twelve. Glover was the author of Boadicea and Medea, tragedies, which had some success on the stage. I believe that Leonidas has more merit in the conduct of the design, and in the delineation of character, than as poetry.
“He write an epic poem,” said Thomson,“ who never saw a mountain !" Glover had seen the sun and moon, yet he seems to have looked for their poetical aspects in Homer and Milton, rather than in the sky. “There is not a single simile in Leonidas,” says Lyttleton, “ that is borrowed from any of the ancients, and yet there is hardly any poem that has such a variety of beautiful comparisons.” The similes of Milton come so flat and dry out of Glover's mangle, that they are indeed quite another thing from what they appear in the poems of that Immortal : ex. gr.
Like wintry clouds, which, opening for a time,
Is not this Milton's “ silver lining” stretched and mangled ?
The Queen of Night
This is flattened from the well-known passage in Comus.
Soon will savage Mars
A genteel improvement upon Milton's “bush with frizzled hair implicit.” Then we have
delicious to the sight
Among rude piles of nature, spoiled from
the flowery lap
Thus does this poet shatter and dissolve the blooming sprays of another
-“ with many a winding bout Of linked sweetness long drawn out,"
and not even in the flow, much less in the prominence or antithetic vigor, of single lines, which were indeed injurious to the total effect, except where they were introduced for some specific purpose. Klopstock assented, and said that he meant to confine Glover's superiority to single lines. He told us that he had
man's plantation, instead of pushing through them some new shoots of his own to crown them with fresh blossoms.
Milton himself borrowed as much as Glover. Aye, ten times more; yet every passage his poetry is Miltonic-inore that than anything else. On the other hand, his imitators Miltonize, yet produce nothing worthy of Milton, the important characteristic of whose writings my father well expressed, when he said, “ The reader of Milton must be always on his duty: he is surrounded with sense." A man must have his sense to imitate him worthily. How we look through his words at the Deluge, as he floods it upon us in Book xi., 1. 733-53!—The Attic bees produce honey so flavored with the thyme of Hyınettus that it is scarcely eatable, though to smell the herb itself in a breezy walk upon that celebrated Mount would be an exceeding pleasure; thus certain epic poems are overpoweringly flavored with herbs of Milton, while yet the fragrant balm and fresh breeze of his poetry is not to be found in them. S. C.]
3 [The “ abrupt and laconic structure” of Glover's periods appears at the very commencement of Leonidas, which has something military in its movement, but rather the stiff gait of the drilled soldier than the proud march of the martial hero.
The virtuous Spartan who resign’d his life
To Lacedæmon. In assembly full, &c. Glover's best passages are of a soft character. This is a pleasing Homerism:
read Milton, in a prose translation, when he was fourteen. I understood him thus myself, and W interpreted Klopstock’s French as I had already construed it. He appeared to know very little of Milton or indeed of our poets in general. He spoke with great indignation of the English prose translation of his Messiah. All the translations had been bad, very bad—but the English was no translation—there were pages on pages, not in the original :—and half the original was not to be found in the translation.
told him that I intended to translate a few of his odes as specimens of German lyrics—he then said to me in English, “ I wish you would render into English some select passages of The Messiah, and revenge me of your countryman!” It was the liveliest thing which he produced in the whole conver. sation. He told us, that his first ode was fifty years older than
Or with his pipe's awak’ning strains allure
And here is a pleasing expansion of Pindar, Olymp. ii., 109:
Placid were his days,
S. C.] 4 This was accidentally confirmed to me by an old German gentleman at Helmstadt, who had been Klopstock's school and bed-fellow. Among other boyish anecdotes, he related that the young poet set a particular value on a translation of the PARADISE Lost, and always slept with it under his pillow.
his last. I looked at him with much emotion-I considered him as the venerable father of German poetry; as a good man; as a Christian; seventy-four years old; with legs enormously swollen ; yet active, lively, cheerful, and kind, and communicative. My eyes felt as if a tear were swelling into them. In the portrait of Lessing there was a toupee periwig, which enormously injured the effect of his physiognomy—Klopstock wore the same, powdered and frizzled. By the by, old men ought never to wear powder—the contrast between a large snow-white wig and the color of an old man's skin is disgusting, and wrinkles in such a neighborhood appear only channels for dirt. It is an honor to poets and great men, that you think of them as parts of nature; and anything of trick and fashion wounds you in them, as much as when you see venerable yews clipped into miserable peacocks.—The author of The Messiah should have worn his own grey hair.—His powder and periwig were to the eye
what Mr. Virgil would be to the ear.
Klopstock dwelt much on the superior power which the German language' possessed of concentrating meaning. He said, he had often translated parts of Homer and Virgil, line by line, and a German line proved always sufficient for a Greek or Latin
In English you cannot do this. I answered, that in English we could commonly render one Greek heroic line in a line and a half of our common heroic metre, and I conjectured that this line and a half would be found to contain no more syllables than one German or Greek hexameter. He did not understand me : 5 and I, who wished to hear his opinions, not to correct them, was glad that he did not.
5 Klopstock's observation was partly true and partly erroneous. In the literal sense of his words, and, if we confine the comparison to the average of space required for the expression of the same thought in the two languages, it is erroneous. I have translated some German hexameters into English hexameters, and find that on the average three English lines will express four lines German. The reason is evident: our language abounds in monosyllables and dissyllables. The German, not less than the Greek, is a polysyllable language. But in another point of view the remark was not without foundation. For the German, possessing the same unlimited privilege of forming compounds, both with prepositions and with epithets, as the Greek, it can express the richest single Greek word in a single German