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of injuring the greatness of his own
Tres imbris torti radios, tres nubis aquose conception, is hurried into excess and
Addiderant, rutili tres ignis et alitis Austri. extravagance.
Three rays of writhen rain, of fire three more, Quintilian allows the use of hyperbole
Of winged southern winds and cloudy store when words are wanting to express any
As many parts, the dreadful mixture frame.
DRYDEN. thing in its just strength or due energy: then, he says, it is better to exceed in ex- affectation, of which we can form no sen
This is altogether à fantastic piece of pression than fall short of the conception; 'sible image, and serves to chill the fancy, but he likewise observes, that there is no figure or form of speech so apt to run into rather than warm the admiration, of a fustian : Nec alia magis via in κακοζη
judging reader. λίαν itur. »
Extravagant hyperbole is a weed that If the chaste Virgil has thus trespassed of our admired Shakespeare. In the fol
grows in great plenty through the works upon poetical probability, what can we expect from Lucan but hyperboles even celebrated, one sees he has had an eye to
lowing description, which hath been much more ridiculously extravagant? He repre- Virgil's thunderbolts :sents the winds in contest, the sea in suspense, doubting to which it shall give Oh, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
She is the fairy's midwife; and she comes, way. He affirms, that its motion would
In shape no bigger than an agate-stone have been so violent as to produce a On the fore-finger of an alderman, second deluge, had not Jupiter kept it
Drawn with a team of little atomies under by the clouds; and as to the ship
Athwart men's noses as they lie asleep:
Her wagon-spokes made of long spinner's legs; during this dreadful uproar, the sails The cover, of the wings of grasshoppers; touch the clouds, while the keel strikes The traces, of the smallest spider's web; the ground:
The collars, of the moonshine's watery beanis,
&c. Nubila tanguntur velis, et terra carina.
Even in describing fantastic beings there This image of dashing water at the is a propriety to be observed; but surely stars Sir Richard Blackmore has pro nothing can be more revolting to common duced in colours truly ridiculous. De- sense, than this numbering of the moonscribing spouting whales in his Prince beams among the other implements of Arthur, he makes the following com- Queen Mab's harness, which, though exparison :
tremely slender and diminutive, are neverLike some prodigious water-engine made theless objects of the touch, and may be To play on heaven, if fire should
heaven invade. conceived capable of use.
The Ode and Satire admit of the boldest The great fault in all these instances is a deviation from propriety, owing to the hyperboles : such exaggerations suit the erroneous judgment of the writer, who, impetuous warmth of the one; and in endeavouring to captivate the admiration the other have a good effect in exposing with novelty, very often shocks the under folly, and exciting horror against vice. standing with extravagance.
Of this They may be likewise successfully used nature is the whole description of the in Comedy, for moving and managing Cyclops, both in the Odyssey of Homer the powers of ridicule. and in the Æneid of Virgil. It must be
ESSAY XVIII. owned, however, that the Latin poet, with all his merit, is more apt than his
Versification. great original to dazzle us with false fire, VERSE is an harmonious arrangement of and practise upon the imagination with long and short syllables, adapted to difgay conceits, that will not bear the critic's ferent kinds of poetry, and owes its origin examination. There is not in any of entirely to the measured cadence, or music, Homer's works now subsisting such an which was used when the first songs and example of the false sublime as Virgil's hymns were recited. This music, divided description of the thunderbolts forging into different parts, required a regular under the hammers of the Cyclops : return of the same measure, and thus
every strophe, antistrophe, stanza, con rhic ; or one short and the other long, as tained the same number of feet. To the iambic; or one long, and the other know what constituted the different kinds short, as the trochee. Those of three sylof rhythmical feet among the ancients, lables are the dactyl, of one long and two with respect to the number and quantity short syllables ; the anapest, of two short of their syllables, we have nothing to do and one long; the tribrachium, of three but to consult those who have written on short; and the molossus, of three long. grammar and prosody: it is the business From the different combinations of these of a schoolmaster, rather than the accom- feet, restricted to certain numbers, the plishment of a man of taste.
ancients formed their different kinds of Various essays have been made in dif- verses, such as the hexameter, or heroic, ferent countries to compare the characters distinguished by six feet, dactyls and spon. of ancient and modern versification, and to dees, the fifth being always a dactyl, and point out the difference beyond any possi- the last a spondee. Exempli gratiâ : bility of mistake. But they have made
6 distinctions where, in fact, there was no
Principi-is ob-sta, se-ro medi-cina pa-ratur. difference, and left the criterion unobserved. The pentameter of five feet, dactyls and They have transferred the name of rhyme spondees, or of six, reckoning two cæsuras: to a regular repetition of the same sound at the end of the line, and set up this vile Cum mala per lon-gas invalu-ere mo-ras. monotony as the characteristic of modern
They had likewise the iambic of three verse, in contradistinction to the feet of sorts—the dimeter, the trimeter, and the the ancients, which they pretend the tetrameter-and all the different kinds of poetry of modern language will not admit. lyric verse specified in the odes of Sappho,
Rhyme, from the Greek word pu@uós, Alcæus, Anacreon, and Horace. Each of is nothing else but number, which was these was distinguished by the number as essential to the ancient as well as to the well as by the species of their feet; so that modern versification. As to the jingle they were doubly restricted. Now all the of similar sounds, though it was never used feet of the ancient poetry are still found in by the ancients in any regular return in the versification of living languages; for the middle or at the end of the line, and as cadence was regulated by the ear, it was by no means deemed essential to the was impossible for a man to write melo. versification, yet they did not reject it as dious verse without naturally falling into a blemish, where it occurred without the the use of ancient feet, though perhaps he appearance of constraint. We meet with neither knows their measure nor denomi. it often in the epithets of Homer-åpyu- nation. Thus Spenser, Shakespeare, Milpéoro Broîo, "Avag åvopwv 'Ayauéuvwv: ton, Dryden, Pope, and all our poets, almost the whole first ode of Anacreon is abound with dactyls, spondees, trochees, what we call rhyme. The following line anapests, &c. which they use indiscrimiof Virgil has been admired for the simili- nately in all kinds of composition, whether tude of sound in the first two words: tragic, epic, pastoral, or ode, having in this
Ore Arethusa tuo Siculis confunditur undis. particular greatly the advantage of the Rhythmus, or number, is certainly essen- ancients, who were restricted to particular
whether in the dead or living kinds of feet in particular kinds of verse. languages; and the real difference between If we, then, are confined with the fetters the two is this: the number in ancient of what is called rhyme, they were restricted verse relates to the feet, and in modern to particular species of feet; so that the poetry to the syllables; for to assert that advantages and disadvantages are pretty modern poetry has no feet is a ridiculous equally balanced : but indeed the English absurdity. The feet that principally enter are more free in this particular than any into the composition of Greek and Latin other modern nation. They not only use verses are either of two or three syllables. | blank verse in tragedy and the epic, but even Those of two syllables are either both long, in lyric poetry.
Milton's translation of às the spondee; or both short, as the pyr. Horace's ode to Pyrrha is universally
tial to verse,
known and generally admired, in our nothing but the countenance and perseopinion much above its merit. There is verance of the learned could reconcile them an ode extant without rhyme addressed to to the alteration. We have seen several Evening, by the late Mr. Collins, much late specimens of English hexameters and more beautiful; and Mr. Warton, with sapphics so happily composed that, by some others, has happily succeeded in attaching them to the idea of ancient divers occasional pieces, that are free of measure, we found them in all respects as this restraint: but the number in all of melodious and agreeable to the ear as the these depends upon the syllables, and not works of Virgil and Anacreon, or Horace. upon the feet, which are unlimited.
Though the number of syllables distinIt is generally supposed that the genius guishes the nature of the English verse of the English language will not admit of from that of the Greek and Latin, it conGreek or Latin measure; but this, we stitutes neither harmony, grace, nor exapprehend, is a mistake, owing to the pre- pression. These must depend upon the judice of education. It is impossible that choice of words, the seat of the accent, the same measure, composed of the same the pause, and the cadence. The accent times, should have a good effect upon the or tone is understood to be an elevation ear in one language and a bad effect in or sinking of the voice in reciting : the another. The truth is, we have been pause is a rest that divides the verse into accustomed from our infancy to the num- two parts, each of them called an hemistich. bers of English poetry, and the very sound The pause and accent in English poetry and signification of the words dispose the ear vary occasionally, according to the meaning to receive them in a certain manner; so that of the words ; so that the hemistich does its disappointment must be attended with not always consist of an equal number of a disagreeable sensation. In imbibing the syllables ; and this variety is agreeable, as first rudiments of education, we acquire, it prevents a dull repetition of regular stops, as it were, another ear for the numbers of like those in the French versification, every Greek and Latin poetry; and this being line of which is divided by a pause exactly reserved entirely for the sounds and signi- in the middle. The cadence comprehends fications of the words that constitute those that poetical style which animates every dead languages, will not easily accommo- line, that propriety which gives strength date itself to the sounds of our vernacular and expression, that numerosity which tongue, though conveyed in the same time renders the verse smooth, flowing, and and measure. In a word, Latin and harmonious, that significancy which marks Greek have annexed to them the ideas of the passions, and in many cases makes the the ancient measure, from which they are sound an echo of the sense. The Greek not easily disjoined. But we will venture and Latin languages, in being copious and to say this difficulty might be surmounted ductile, are susceptible of a vast variety of by an effort of attention and a little prac- cadences which the living languages will tice; and in that case we should in time not admit; and of these a reader of any be as well pleased with English as with ear will judge for himself. Latin hexameters. Sir Philip Sydney is said to have mis
ESSAY XIX. carried in his essays; but his miscarriage
Schools of Music. was no more than that of failing in an A school, in the polite arts, properly attempt to introduce a new fashion. The signifies that succession of artists which failure was not owing to any defect or has learned the principles of the art from imperfection in the scheme, but to the some eminent master, either by hearing want of taste, to the irresolution and igno- his lessons or studying his works, and rance of the public. Without all doubt consequently who imitate his mannereither the ancient measure, so different from that through design or from habit. Musicians of modern poetry, must have appeared seem agreed in making only three prin. remarkably uncouth to people in general, cipal schools in music ; namely, the school who were ignorant of the classics; and I of Pergolese in Italy, of Lully in France,
and of Handel in England; though some general resembled that of our old solemn are for making Rameau the founder of a chants in churches. It is worthy of renew school, different from those of the mark, in general, that the music in every former, as he is the inventor of beauties country solemn in proportion as the peculiarly his own.
inhabitants are merry; or, in other words, Without all doubt Pergolese's music the merriest and sprightliest nations are deserves the first rank; though excelling remarked for having the slowest music; neither in variety of movements, number and those whose character it is to be of parts, nor unexpected flights, yet he is melancholy are pleased with the most universally allowed to be the musical brisk and airy movements. Thus, in Raphael of Italy. This great master's France, Poland, Ireland, and Switzerland, principal art consisted in knowing how to the national music is slow, melancholy, excite our passions by sounds which seem and solemn; in Italy, England, Spain, frequently opposite to the passion they and Germany, it is faster, proportionably would express : by slow solemn sounds as the people are grave. Lully only he is sometimes known to throw us into changed bad manner, which he found, all the rage of battle ; and even by faster for a bad one of his own.
His drowsy movements he excites melancholy in pieces are played still to the most sprightly every heart that sounds are capable of audience that can be conceived; and even affecting. This is a talent which seems though Rameau, who is at once a musician born with the artist. We are unable to and a philosopher, has shown, both by tell why such sounds affect us: they seem precept and example, what improvements no way imitative of the passion they would French music may still admit of, yet his express, but operate upon us by an inex- countrymen seem little convinced by his pressible sympathy; the original of which reasonings; and the Pont-Neuf taste, as is as inscrutable as the secret springs of it is called, still prevails in their best life itself. To this excellence he adds performances. another, in which he is superior to every The English school was first planned other artist of the profession, —the happy by Purcell : he attempted to unite the transition from one passion to another. Italian manner that prevailed in his time No dramatic poet better knows to prepare with the ancient Celtic carol and the his incidents than he; the audience are Scottish ballad, which probably had also pleased in those intervals of passion with its origin in Italy; for some of the best the delicate, the simple harmony, if I may Scottish ballads, The Broom of Cowso express it, in which the parts are all denknows,” for instance,-are still asthrown into fugues, or often are barely cribe to David Rizzio. But be that as unison. His melodies also, where no it will, his manner was something peculiar passion is expressed, give equal pleasure to the English; and he might have confrom this delicate simplicity; and I need tinued as head of the English school, had only instance that song in the Serva Pa- not his merits been entirely eclipsed by drona which begins “ Lo conosco a quegl Handel. Handel, though originally a occelli,” as one of the finest instances of German, yet adopted the English manner: excellence in the duo.
he had long laboured to please by Italian The Italian artists in general have fol- composition, but without success; and lowed his manner, yet seem fond of though his English oratorios are accounted embellishing the delicate simplicity of inimitable, yet his Italian operas are fallen the original. Their style in music seems into oblivion. Pergolese excelled in passomewhat to resemble that of Seneca sionate simplicity: Lully was remarkable in writing, where there are some beau- for creating a new species of music, where tiful starts of thought; but the whole all is elegant, but nothing passionate or is filled with studied elegance and un- sublime. Handel's true characteristic is affecting affectation.
sublimity; he has employed all the variety Lully in France first attempted the of sounds and parts in all his pieces : the improvement of their music, which in performances of the rest may be pleasing,
though executed by few performers; his CAROLAN THE BLIND. He was at once require the full band. The attention is a poet, a musician, a composer, and sung awakened, the soul is roused up at his his own verses to his harp. The original pieces; but distinct passion is seldom ex natives never mention his name without pressed. In this particular he has seldom rapture; both his poetry and music they found success; he has been obliged, in have by heart; and even some of the order to express passion, to imitate words English themselves, who have been transby sounds, which, though it gives the planted there, find his music extremely pleasure which imitation always produces, pleasing. A song beginning, yet it fails of exciting those lasting affec- O'Rourke's noble fare will ne'er be forgot, tions which it is in the power of sounds translated by Dean Swift, is of his comto produce. In a word, no man ever position; which, though perhaps by this understood harmony so well as he; but in means the best known of his pieces, iş melody he has been exceeded by several. yet by no means the most deserving. His
songs in general may be compared to ESSAY XX.
those of Pindar, as they have frequently Carolan, the Irish Bard.
the same flights of imagination; and are THERE can be perhaps no greater enter. composed (I do not say written, for he tainment than to compare the rude could not write) merely to flatter some Celtic simplicity with modern refinement. man of fortune upon some excellence of Books, however, seem incapable of fur- the same kind. In these one man is nishing the parallel ; and to be acquainted praised for the excellence of his stable, as with the ancient manners of our own in Pindar, another for his hospitality, a ancestors, we should endeavour to look third for the beauty of his wife and for their remains in those countries which, children, and a fourth for the antiquity of being in some measure retired from an his family. Whenever any of the original intercourse with other nations, are still natives of distinction were assembled at untinctured with foreign refinement, lan- feasting or revelling, Carolan was geneguage, or breeding.
rally there, where he was always ready The Irish will satisfy curiosity in this with his harp to celebrate their praises. respect preferably to all other nations I He seemed by nature formed for his prohave seen. They, in several parts of fession; for as he was born blind, so also that country, still adhere to their ancient he was possessed of a most astonishing language, dress, furniture, and super- memory, and a facetious turn of thinkstitions ; several customs exist among ing, which gave his entertainers infinite them that still speak their original; and, satisfaction. Being once at the house in some respects, Cæsar's description of of an Irish nobleman, where there was the ancient Britons is applicable to these. a musician present who was eminent in
Their bards, in particular, are still the profession, Carolan immediately chalheld in great veneration among them; lenged him to a trial of skill. To carry those traditional heralds are invited to the jest forward, his lordship persuaded every funeral, in order to fill up the in the musician to accept the challenge, and tervals of the howl with their songs and he accordingly played over on his fiddle harps. In these they rehearse the actions the fifth concerto of Vivaldi. Carolan, of the ancestors of the deceased, bewail immediately taking his harp, played over the bondage of their country under the the whole piece after him, without missing English government, and generally con- a note, though he had never heard it clude with advising the young men and before, which produced some surprise; maidens to make the best use of their but their astonishment increased, when he time; for they will soon, for all their assured them he could make a concerto present bloom, be stretched under the in the same taste himself, which he instantly table, like the dead body before them. composed; and that with such spirit and
Of all the bards this country ever elegance, that it may compare (for we have produced, the last and the greatest was it still) with the finest compositions of Italy.