« 上一頁繼續 »
they are direct manifestations of mind, and the celestial armour, and the very brazen presuppose poetry in their very conception; greaves of the wellbooted Greeks? Is it and have, moreover, as being such, a some- solely from the legs, and the back, and the thing of actual life, which cannot belong breast, and the human body, which they to any part of inanimate nature, unless we inclose? In that case, it would have been adopt the system of Spinoza, that the world more poetical to have made them fight is the Deity. There can be nothing more naked; and Gulley and Gregson, as being poetical in its aspect than the city of Venice: nearer to a state of nature, are more poetdoes this depend upon the sea, or the ical, boxing in a pair of drawers, than Heccanals?tor and Achilles in radiant armour, and with heroic weapons.
"The dirt and sea-weed whence proud Venice rose?"
Instead of the clash of helmets, and the Is it the canal which runs between the pa- rushing of chariots, and the whizzing of lace and the prison, or the "Bridge of Sighs" spears, and the glancing of swords, and which connects them, that renders it poet- the cleaving of shields, and the piercing of ical? Is it the "Canal' Grande," or the Ri-breast-plates, why not represent the Greeks alto which arches it, the churches which and Trojans like two savage tribes, tugging tower over it, the palaces which line, and and tearing, and kicking, and biting, and the gondolas which glide over the waters, gnashing, foaming, grinning, and gouging, that render this city more poetical than in all the poetry of martial nature, uninRome itself? Mr. Bowles will say, per-cumbered with gross, prosaic artificial arms, haps, that the Rialto is but marble, the an equal superfluity to the natural warrior, palaces and churches only stone, and the gondolas a "coarse" black_cloth, thrown over some planks of carved wood, with a shining bit of fantastically-formed iron at the prow, "without" the water. And I tell him that without these the water would be nothing but a clay-coloured ditch, and whoever says the contrary, deserves to be at the bottom of that were Pope's heroes are embraced by the mud nymphs. There would be nothing to make the canal of Venice more poetical than that of Paddington, were it not for the artificial adjuncts above mentioned, although it is a perfectly natural canal, formed by the sea, and the innumerable islands which constitute the site of this extraordinary city.
and his natural poet? Is there any thing unpoetical in Ulysses striking the horses of Rhesus with his bow (having forgotten his thong), or would Mr. Bowles have had him kick them with his foot, or smack them with his hand, as being more unsophisticated?
In Gray's Elegy, is there an image more striking than his "shapeless sculpture?” Of sculpture in general, it may be observed, that it is more poetical than nature itself, inasmuch as it represents and bodies forth that ideal beauty and sublimity which is never to be found in actual nature. This at least is the general opinion; but, always excepting the Venus di Medicis, I differ from that opinion, at least as far as regards The very Cloaca of Tarquin at Rome female beauty; for the head of Lady Charare as poetical as Richmond - Hill; many lemont (when I first saw her, nine years will think more so. Take away Rome, and ago) seemed to possess all that sculpture leave the Tiber and the seven hills in the could require for its ideal. I recollect seenature of Evander's time: let Mr. Bowles, ing something of the same kind in the head or Mr. Wordsworth, or Mr. Southey, or of an Albanian girl, who was actually emany of the other “naturals,” make a poem ployed in mending a road in the mountains, upon them, and then see which is most and in some Greek, and one or two Italian poetical, their production, or the common- faces. But of sublimity, I have never seen est guide-book which tells you the road any thing in human nature at all to apfrom St. Peter's to the Coliseum, and in-proach the expression of sculpture, either in forms you what you will see by the way. the Apollo, the Moses, or other of the The ground interests in Virgil, because it sterner works of ancient or modern art. will be Rome, and not because it is Evander's rural domain.
Let us examine a little further this "babble of green fields," and of bare nature in Mr. Bowles then proceeds to press Homer general, as superior to artificial imagery, into his service, in answer to a remark of for the poetical purposes of the fine arts. Mr. Campbell's, that "Homer was a great In landscape-painting, the great artist does describer of works of art." Mr. Bowles not give you a literal copy of a country, contends that all his great power, even in but he invents and composes one. Nature, this, depends upon their connexion with in her actual aspect, does not furnish him nature. The "shield of Achilles derives its with such existing scenes as he requires. poetical interest from the subjects described Even where he presents you with some faon it." And from what does the spear of mous city, or celebrated scene from moanAchilles derive its interest? and the hel-tain or other nature, it must be taken from met and the mail worn by Patroclus, and some particular point of view, and with
such light, and shade, and distance, as serve not only to heighten its beauties, but to shadow its deformities. The poetry of Nature alone, exactly as she appears, is not sufficient to bear him out. The very sky of his painting is not the portrait of the sky of Nature; it is a composition of different skies, observed at different times, and not the whole copied from any particular day And why? Because Nature is not lavish of her beauties; they are widely scattered, and occasionally displayed, to be selected with care, and gathered with difficulty.
Of sculpture I have just spoken. It is the great scope of the sculptor to heighten Nature into heroic beauty, i. e. in plain English, to surpass his model. When Canova forms a statue, be takes a limb from
one, a hand from another, a feature from a third, and a shape, it may be, from a fourth. probably at the same time improving upon all, as the Greek of old did in embodying his Venus.
Ask a portrait-painter to describe his agonies in accommodating the faces with which Nature and his sitters have crowded
"tower," it would have been as poetical as if he had compared her to a tree.
"The virtuous Marcia towers above her sex,"
is an instance of an artificial image to exis probable, did not compare his beloved's press a moral superiority. But Solomon, it nose to a "tower" on account of its length, but of its symmetry; and, making allowance for eastern hyperbole and the difficulty of finding a discreet image for a female nose in nature, it is perhaps as good a figure as any other.
Art is not inferior to nature for poetical diers a more noble object of view than the purposes. What makes a regiment of soltheir banners, and the art and artificial same mass of mob? Their arms, their dresses, A Highlander's plaid, a Mussulman's turban, symmetry of their position and movements. and a Roman toga, are more poetical than the tattooed or untattooed buttocks of a NewSandwich savage, although they were delike the "idiot in his glory." scribed by William Wordsworth himself
I have seen as many mountains as most his painting-room to the principles of his of landsmen: and, to my mind, a large men, and more fleets than the generality art: with the exception of perhaps ten faces in as many millions, there is not one which convoy, with a few sail of the line to conduct them, is as noble and as poetical a he can venture to give without shading prospect as all that inanimate nature can much and adding more. Nature, exactly, produce. I prefer the "mast of some great simply, barely Nature, will make no great ammiral," with all its tackle, to the Scotch artist of any kind, and least of all a poetfir or the Alpine tannen; and think that the most artificial, perhaps, of all artists in his very essence. With regard to na- what does the infinite superiority of "Falmore poetry has been made out of it. In tural imagery, the poets are obliged to take coner's Shipwreck, some of their best illustrations from art. wrecks, consist? In his admirable applicaover all other shipYou say that a "fountain is as clear or tion of the terms of his art; in a poet-sailclearer than glass," to express its beauty-or's description of the sailor's fate. These
"O fons Bandusiæ, splendidior vitro!" In the speech of Mark Antony, the body of Cæsar is displayed, but so also is his mantle: "You all do know this mantle,"
"Look! in this place ran Cassius' dagger through." If the poet had said that Cassius had run his fist through the rent of the mantle, it would have had more of Mr. Bowles's "nature" to help it; but the artificial dagger is more poetical than any natural hand without it. In the sublime of sacred poetry, "Who is this that cometh from Edom? with dyed garments from Bozrah?” Would "the comer" be poetical without his "dyed garments?" which strike and startle the spectator, and identify the approaching object.
The mother of Sisera is represented listening for the "wheels of his chariot." Solomon, in his Song, compares the nose of his beloved to "a tower," which to us appears an eastern exaggeration. If he had said, that her stature was like that of a
very terms, by his application, make the
fame rests, the very appearance of Nature
"Thus is Nature's vesture wrought,
To disperse our cares away.'
And here also we have the telescope, the mis-use of which, from Milton, has rendered Mr. Bowles so triumphant over Mr. Camp
"So we mistake the future's face,
"As yon summits, soft and fair,
Which, to those who journey near,
And robes the mountain in its azure hue?"
who has rendered the "game of cards poetical," is by far the greater of the two. But all this "ordering" of poets is purely arbitrary on the part of Mr. Bowles. There may or may not be, in fact, different orders of poetry, but the poet is always ranked according to his execution, and not according to his branch of the art.
Tragedy is one of the highest presumed orders. Hughes has written a tragedy, and a very successful one; Fenton another; and Pope none. Did any man, however,will even Mr. Bowles himself rank Hughes and Fenton as poets above Pope? Was even Addison (the author of Cato), or Rowe (one of the higher order of dramatists, as far as success goes), or Young, or even OtMr. Bowles makes the chief part of a way and Southern, ever raised for a moship's poesy depend on the "wind:" then ment to the same rank with Pope in the why is a ship under sail more poetical than estimation of the reader or the critic, before a hog in a high wind? The hog is all na- his death or since? If Mr. Bowles will ture, the ship is all art, "coarse canvas,' ,"contend for classifications of this kind, let "blue bunting,” and “tall poles ;" both are him recollect that descriptive poetry has violently acted upon by the wind, tossed been ranked as among the lowest branches here and there, to and fro; and yet nothing of the art, and description as a mere ornabut excess of hunger could make me look ment, but which should never form "the upon the pig as the more poetical of the subject" of a poem. The Italians, with the two, and then only in the shape of a griskin. most poetical language, and the most fastiWill Mr. Bowles tell us that the poetry dious taste in Europe, possess now five of an aqueduct consists in the water which great poets, they say, Dante, Petrarch, it conveys? Let him look on that of Just- Ariosto, Tasso, and lastly Alfieri; and whom inian, on those of Rome, Constantinople, do they esteem one of the highest of these, Lisbon, and Elvas, or even at the remains of that in Attica.
We We are asked "what makes the venerable towers of Westminster Abbey more poetical, as objects, than the tower for the manufactory of patent-shot, surrounded by the same scenery?" I will answer-the architecture. Turn Westminster Abbey, or Saint Paul's, into a powder-magazine, their poetry, as objects, remains the same: the Parthenon was actually converted into one by the Turks, during Morosini's Venetian siege, and part of it destroyed in consequence. Cromwell's dragoons stalled their steeds in Worcester cathedral; was it less poetical, as an object, than before? Ask a foreigner on his approach to London, what strikes him as the most poetical of the towers before him: he will point out St. Paul's and Westminster Abbey, without, perhaps, knowing the names or associations of either, and pass over the "tower for patent-shot," not that, for any thing he knows to the contrary, it might not be the mausoleum of a monarch, or a Waterloo-column, or a Trafalgar-monument, but because its architecture is obviously inferior.
To the question, "whether the description of a game of cards be as poetical, supposing the execution of the artists equal, as a description of a walk in a forest?" it may be answered, that the materials are certainly not equal; but that "the artist,"
and some of them the very highest? Petrarch, the sonneteer: it is true that some of his Canzoni are not less esteemed, but not more; who ever dreams of his Latin Africa?
Were Petrarch to be ranked according to the "order" of his compositions, where would the best of sonnets place him? With Dante and the others? No; but, as I have before said, the poet who executes best is the highest, whatever his department, and will ever be so rated in the world's esteem.
Had Gray written nothing but his Elegy, high as he stands, I am not sure that he would not stand higher; it is the cornerstone of his glory: without it, his odes would be insufficient for his fame. The depreciation of Pope is partly founded upon a false idea of the dignity of his order of poetry, to which he has partly contributed by the ingenuous boast,
"That not in Fancy's maze he wander'd long, But stoop'd to Truth, and moralized his song." He should have written "rose to truth." In my mind the highest of all poetry is ethical poetry, as the highest of all earthly objects must be moral truth. Religion does not make a part of my subject; it is something beyond human powers, and has failed in all human hands except Milton's and Dante's, and even Dante's powers are involved in his delineation of human
passions, though in supernatural circum stances. What made Socrates the greatest of men? His moral truth-his ethics. What proved Jesus Christ the Son of God hardly less than his miracles? His moral precepts. And if ethics have made a philosopher the first of men, and have not been disdained as an adjunct to his Gospel by the Deity himself, are we to be told that ethical poetry, or by whatever name you term it, whose object is to make men better and wiser, is not the very first order of poetry; and are we to be told this too by one of the priesthood? It requires more mind, more wisdom, more power, than all the "forests" that ever were "walked" for their "description," ," and all the epics that ever were founded upon fields of battle. The Georgics are indisputably, and, I believe, undisputedly, even a finer poem than the Eneid. Virgil knew this; he did not order them to be burnt.
"The proper study of mankind is man."
It is the fashion of the day to lay great stress upon what they call "imagination" and "invention," the two commonest of qualities: an Irish peasant, with a little whiskey in his head, will imagine and invent more than would furnish forth a modern poem. If Lucretius had not been spoiled by the Epicurean system, we should have had a far superior poem to any now in existence. As mere poetry, it is the first of Latin poems. What then has ruined it? His ethics. Pope has not this defect; his moral is as pure as his poetry is glorious. In speaking of artificial objects, I have omitted to touch upon one which I will now mention. Cannon may be presumed to be as highly poetical as art can make her objects. Mr. Bowles will, perhaps, tell me that this is because they resemble that grand natural article of sound in heaven, and simile upon earth-thunder. I shall be told triumphantly, that Milton made sad work with his artillery, when he armed his devils therewithal. He did so; and this artificial object must have had much of the sublime to attract his attention for such a conflict. He has made an absurd use of it; but the absurdity consists not in using cannon against the angels of God, but any material weapon. The thunder of the clouds would have been as ridiculous and vain in the hands of the devils, as the "villanous saltpetre:" the angels were as impervious to the one as to the other. The thunderbolts became sublime in the hands of the Almighty, not as such but because he deigns to use them as a means of repelling the rebel spirits; but no one can attribute their defeat to this grand piece of natural electricity the Almighty willed, and they fell; his word would have been enough; and
Milton is as absurd (and in fact, blasphemous) in putting material lightnings into the hands of the Godhead as in giving him hands at all.
The artillery of the demons was but the first step of his mistake, the thunder the next, and it is a step lower. It would have been fit for Jove, but not for Jehovah. The subject altogether was essentially unpoetical; he has made more of it than another could, but it is beyond him and all men.
In a portion of his reply, Mr. Bowles asserts that Pope "envied Philips" because he quizzed his pastorals in the Guardian, in that most admirable model of irony, his paper on the subject. If there was any thing enviable about Philips, it could hardly be his pastorals. They were despicable, and Pope expressed his contempt. If Mr. Fitzgerald published a volume of sonnets, or a "Spirit of Discovery," or a "Missionary," and Mr. Bowles wrote in any periodical journal an ironical paper upon them, would this be "envy?" The authors of the "Rejected Addresses" have ridiculed the sixteen or twenty "first living poets" of the day; but do they "envy" them? "Envy" writhes, it don't laugh. The authors of the Rejected Addresses may despise some, but they can hardly "envy" any of the persons whom they have parodied; and Pope could have no more envied Philips than he did Welsted, or Theobalds, or Smedley, or any other given hero of the Dunciad. He could not have envied him, even had he himself not been the greatest poet of his age. Did Mr. Ings "envy" Mr. Philips when he asked him, "how came your Pyrrhus to drive oxen, and say, I am goaded on by love?" This question silenced poor Philips; but it no more proceeded from "envy" than did Pope's ridicule. Did he envy Swift? Did he envy Bolingbroke? Did he envy Gay the unparalleled success of his “Beggar's Opera?" We may be answered that these were his friends true; but does friendship prevent envy? Study the first woman you meet with, or the first scribbler; let Mr. Bowles himself (whom I acquit fully of such an odious quality) study some of his own poetical intimates: the most envious man I ever heard of is a poet, and a high one; besides it is an universal passion. Goldsmith envied not only the puppets for their dancing, and broke his shins in the attempt at rivalry, but was seriously angry because two pretty women received more attention than he did. This is envy; but where does Pope show a sign of the passion? In that case Dryden envied the hero of his Mac Flecknoe. Mr. Bowles compares, when and where he can, Pope with Cowper (the same Cowper whom in his edition of Pope he laughs at for his attachment to an old woman, Mrs. Unwin:
search and you will find it; I remember that Mr. Bowles can do in return is to apthe passage, though not the page); in par- prove the “invariable principles of Mr. ticular he requotes Cowper's Dutch deli- Southey." I should have thought that the neation of a wood, drawn up like a seeds- word "invariable" might have stuck in Souman's catalogue, with an affected imitation they's throat, like Macbeth's “Amen!” I of Milton's style, as burlesque as the "Splen- am sure it did in mine, and I am not the did shilling." These two writers (for Cow- least consistent of the two, at least as a per is no poet) come into comparison in voter. Moore (et tu, Brute!) also approves, one great work—the translation of Homer. and a Mr. J. Scott. There is a letter also Now, with all the great, and manifest, of two lines from a gentleman in asterisks, and manifold, and reproved, and acknow-who, it seems, is a poet of "the highest ledged, and uncontroverted faults of Pope's rank" - who can this be? not my friend, translation, and all the scholarship, and Sir Walter, surely. Campbell it can't be; pains, and time, and trouble, and blank Rogers it won't be. verse of the other, who can ever read Cowper? and who will ever lay down Pope, unless for the original? Pope's was "not Homer, it was Spondanus;" bat Cowper's is not Homer, either, it is not even Cowper. As a child I first read Pope's Homer with a rapture which no subsequent work could ever afford, and children are not the worst judges of their own language. As a boy I read Homer in the original, as we have all done, some of us by force, and a few by favour; under which description I come is nothing to the purpose, it is enough that I read him. As a man I have tried to read Cowper's version, and I found it impossible. Has any human reader ever succeeded?
And now that we have heard the Catholic reproached with envy, duplicity, licentiousness, avarice-what was the Calvinist? He attempted the most atrocious of crimes in the Christian code, viz. suicide and why? because he was to be examined whether he was fit for an office which he seems to wish to have made a sinecure. His connexion with Mrs. Unwin was pure enough, for the old lady was devout, and he was deranged; but why then is the infirm and then elderly Pope to be reproved for his connexion with Martha Blount? Cowper was the almoner of Mrs. Throgmorton; but Pope's charities were his own, and they were noble and extensive, far beyond his fortune's warrant. Pope was the tolerant yet steady adherent of the most bigoted of sects; and Cowper the most bigoted and despondent sectary that ever anticipated damnation to himself or others. Is this harsh? I know it is, and I do not assert it as my opinion of Cowper personally, but to show what might be said, with just as great an appearance of truth and candour, as all the odium which has been accumulated upon Pope in similar speculations. Cowper was a good man, and lived at a fortunate time for his works.
Mr. Bowles, apparently not relying entirely upon his own arguments, has, in person or by proxy, brought forward the names of Southey and Moore. Mr. Southey "agrees entirely with Mr. Bowles in his invariable principles of poetry." The least
"You have hit the nail in the head, and [Pope, I presume] on the head also."
I remain yours, affectionately,
And in asterisks let him remain, Whoever
The attempt of the poetical populace of the present day to obtain an ostracism against Pope is as easily accounted for as the Athenian's shell against Aristides; they are tired of hearing him always called "the Just." They are also fighting for life; for if he maintains his station, they will reach their own by falling. They have raised a mosque by the side of a Grecian temple of the purest architecture; and. more barbarous than the barbarians from whose practice I have borrowed the figure, they are not contented with their own grotesque edifice, unless they destroy the prior and purely beautiful fabric which preceded, and which shames them and theirs for ever and ever. I shall be told that amongst those I have been (or it may be, still am) conspicuous- true, and I am ashamed of it. I have been amongst the builders of this Babel, attended by a confusion of tongues, but never amongst the envious destroyers of the classic temple of our predecessor. I have loved and honoured the fame and name of that illustrious and unrivalled man, far more than my own paltry renown, and the trashy jingle of the crowd of "Schools" and upstarts, who pretend to rival, or even surpass him. Sooner than a single leaf should be torn from his laurel, it were better that all which these men, and that I, as one of their set, have ever written, should
Line trunks, clothe spice, or, fluttering in a row,