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a more moderate degree of elevation; and joins connected thought, and good sense, with the highest beauties of poetry. He does not often aspire beyond that middle region, which I mentioned as belonging to the ode; and those odes, in which he attempts the sublime, are perhaps not always his best.* The peculiar character, in which he excels, is grace and elegance; and in this style of composition, no poet has ever attained to a greater perfection than Horace. No poet supports a moral sentiment with more dignity, touches a gay one more happily, or possesses the art of trifling more agreeably, when he chooses to trifle. His language is so fortunate, that with a single word or epithet, he often conveys a whole description to the fancy. Hence he ever has been, and ever will continue to be, a favourite author with all persons of taste.
Among the Latin poets of later ages, there have been many imitators of Horace. One of the most distinguished is Casimir, a Polish poet of the last century, who wrote four books of odes. In graceful ease of expression, he is far inferior to the Roman. He oftener affects the sublime; and in the attempt, like other lyric writers, frequently becomes harsh and unnatural. But, on several occasions, he discovers a considerable degree of original genius, and poetical fire. Buchanan, in some of his lyric compositions, is very elegant and classical.
Among the French, the odes of Jean Baptiste Rousseau, have been much, and justly celebrated. They possess great beauty, both of sentiment and expression. They are animated, without being rhapsodical; and are not inferior to any poetical productions in the French language.
In our own language, we have several lyric compositions of considerable merit. Dryden's ode on St. Cecilia, is well known. Mr. Gray is distinguished in some of his odes, both for tenderness and sublimity; and in Dodsley's Miscellanies, several very beautiful lyric poems are to be found. As to professed Pindaric odes, they are, with a few exceptions, so incoherent, as seldom to be intelligible. Cowley, at all times harsh, is doubly so in his Pindaric compositions. In his Anacreontic odes, he is much happier. They are smooth and elegant; and indeed the most agreeable and the most perfect in their kind, of all Mr. Cowley's Poems.
* There is no ode whatever of Horace's, without great beauties. But though I may be singular in my opinion, I cannot help thinking that in some of those odes which have been much admired for sublimity, (such as Ode iv. lib. 4. "Qualem ini. nistrum fulminis alitem,' &c.) there appears somewhat of a strained and forced effort to be lofty. The genius of this amiable poet shows itself, according to my judgment, to greater advantage, in themes of a more temperate kind.
QUESTIONS. In the last lecture, of what was an | not sufficient? What ought a good poet account given; and on what were some to give us? How is this remark illusobservations made ? To what does our trated ? What will sometimes characauthor now proceed? What order is terize a whole scene? What illustration followed? What is the subject of this is given? In what, above all things, lecture? With what does our author| must the poet study variety ? How begin; and of the time of which it was must he diversify his face of nature, or, first cultivated, what is observed ? What otherwise, what will be the consefancy have most authors indulged? Of quence? What is also incumbent on what does our author make no doubt; him? Repeat the illustration of this rebut of what is he persuaded ? By mark from Virgil ? With regard to the what, in the first periods of every na- characters, or persons, which are proper tion, was it inspired ? What furnished to be introduced into pastorals, what is the first themes to the bards of every not sufficient? How is this observation country? Why was what was of a illustrated ? What is one of the principastoral kind, in their compositions, inci- pal difficulties which here occurs? Of dental only? When did pastoral poetry the shepherd, what is observed? What assume its present form? How came qualities may he possess ? But then, men to conceive the idea of celebrating what must he not do? Of what pastopastoral life in poetry? Where did rals are some of these conceits the chiet Theocritus, and where did Virgil, write blemishes ? What illustration of this retheir pastorals? Why is pastoral poetry, mark is given from Tasso? What lana natural and very agreeable form of guage are rural personages supposed poetical composition ? From what does to speak? When they describe or reit appear that pastoral life is very fa-| late, how do they do it? What illustravourable to poetry? Hence, what has tion of this remark is given? In anobeen the effect of this species of poetry? ther passage, what does he do; and in But, notwithstanding the advantages what language? What did Mr. Pope it possesses, what follows? In what wish to do; and how does he do it? Of three different views may pastoral life what does this fall short; and how is be considered? Of the first and last of the natural and pleasing simplicity of these three states, what is observed ?|the description destroyed ? Supposing Where must the poet therefore keep ? the poet to have formed correct ideas What must he form to himself? For concerning his characters and personawhat does the great charm of pastoral ges, what is the next inquiry; and poetry arise? What must the poet why? What ought every good poem, therefore do? What must he display to of every kind, to have? In what lies the us; and what hide ? Repeat the fol-chief difficulty of pastoral writing? lowing passage from Virgil. How Hence, what follows? From the first should he paint it? Why may distresses lines, at what can we guess? How is and anxieties be attributed to it; but this remark fully illustrated ? To what of what nature must they be? For is much of that insipidity owing, which what may the shepherd well be afflict-prevails in pastoral writing ? What, ed; and why? In short, in what man- however, is much to be questioned ; and ner only should the pastoral life be pre-what remark follows? What would sented to us? But about what should one choose to remove from this sort of he take care ? If it be not real life that composition? But under this limitation, is presented to us, what must it be? for what will there still be abundant That we may examine this general scope ? How is this remark illustrated? idea of pastoral poetry more particular-| Who are the two great fathers of pasly, what order shall we pursue ? As toral poetry? Who was Theocritus, and to the scene, what is clear, and on what what remark follows? Of his Idylia, does much of the poet's merit depend? what is observed ? For what is he disOf Theocritus's descriptions of natural tinguished ? From what does it appear beauties, what is observed ? Repeat the that he is the original of which Virgil passage illustrative of this remark? In is the imitator ? What, however, must every pastoral, what should be distinct- he be allowed to have done; and why? ly drawn, and set before us? What is What distinction obtains between them? How is this remark illustrated? Of should be the reigning character of the what other Greek writers of pastorals first two kinds ? What should reign in have we remains, and what is said of the latter ? From what does one of the them? With what have the modern chief difficulties in composing the ode writers of pastorals, generally, content-arise? Of a professed ode, what is exed themselves? Who, however, at-pected ? Full of this idea, what does tempted a bold innovation; and what the poet do? In either case, of what is was it? Why has not this innovation he in great hazard? How is this illusgained followers; and what follows? trated? What is not required; but still, Of all the moderns, who has been the in every composition, what ought there most successful in pastoral composi- to be? Of transitions from thought to tions ? What peculiar excellencies do thought, what is observed ? Whatever they possess ? Of Mr. Pope's and Mr. authority may be pleaded for the incoPhilips's pastorals, what is observed ? herence of lyric poetry, what is certain? What may be an apology for Mr. What increases the disorder of this spePope's faults? What is their chief cies of poetry? What do they do? merits; and why? What did Philips Whereas, of lyric composition, what attempt, and how did he succeed? Or remark follows? Of what has Pindar these two writers, what is further re- been the occasion ? Of his genius, his marked? About the same time, what did expressions, and his descriptions, what Mr. Gay publish; and what was their is observed ? But finding it a very bardesign? What is said of them? Of Mr. ren subject to sing the praises of those Shenstone's pastoral ballad, what is who had gained the prize in the public observed ? What has not yet been games, what did he do? Why is our mentioned? Of this improvement, what pleasure in reading him much diminishis remarked ? Of this nature, what two ed? What would one imagine? Where Italian pieces have we, and what is have we the same kind of lyric poetry said of them? Of the latter, what is as in Pindar? Of Horace, as a writer of observed? What other pastoral drama odes, what is observed ? From what has does our author mention? What are he descended? Beyond what does he great disadvantages to this beautiful not often aspire? What is the peculiar poem? But, though subject to those character in which he excels; and what local disadvantages, yet, of it, what re- remark follows? Of him, what is farther mark follows? What is observed of the remarked ? Among the Latin poets of characters; and of what does it afford later ages, as imitators of Horace, who a strong proof? To what does our au- is the most distinguished ? What are thor next proceed ; and what is obser- the characteristics of his odes ? What ved of it? What is its peculiar charac- is said of Buchanan? Among the ter ? By what is this implied; and how French, whose odes are justly celebrais it illustrated ? From what does it ap- ted? What is their character ? In our pear that this distinction was not, at own language, whose odes are the most first, peculiar to any kind of poetry ? distinguished; and of them, what is When were such poems as were de-observed ? signed to be sung, called odes? In the ode, therefore, what form does poetry
ANALYSIS, retain ? From this circumstance, what are we to deduce? By what is it not] 1. Pastoral Poetry.
A. Its origin and nature. distinguished from other kinds of poetry;
B. Different views of pastoral life. and why? What is the only distinc
4. The middle station to be observed. tion which belongs to it? What chiefly c. The scene. characterizes it? What effect do music D. The characters. and song have on poetry? As on this is
a. Their employments. formed the peculiar character of the
E. The fathers of pastoral poetry.
a. Their respective characteristics. ode, what follows? What two effects
F. Modern pastoral writers. has music on the mind? Hence, the ode Q. Their relative merits. may either aspire to what, or to what|2. Lyric Poetry.. may it descend? And between these,
a. The definition and nature of the ode.
a. Different kinds of odes. what is found ? Under what four deno
b. Enthusiasm its chief characteristic. minations, may all odes be comprised ? c. Pindar-Horace. What are examples of each ? What! d. French and English writers of odes. LECTURE XL.
DIDACTIC POETRY.....DESCRIPTIVE POETRY.
Having treated of pastoral and lyric poetry, I proceed next to didactic poetry; under which is included a numerous class of writings. The ultimate end of all poetry, indeed of every composition, should be to make some useful impression on the mind. This useful impression is most commonly made in poetry, by indirect methods; as by fable, by narration, by representation of characters; but didactic poetry openly professes its intention of conveying knowledge and instruction. It differs, therefore, in the form only, not in the scope and substance, from a philosophical, a moral, or a critical treatise in prose. At the same time, by means of its form, it has several advantages over prose instruction. By the charm of versification and numbers, it renders instruction more agreeable; by the descriptions, episodes, and other embellishments, which it may interweave, it detains, and engages the fancy; it fixes also useful circumstances more deeply in the memory. Hence, it is a field wherein a poet may gain great hoaour, may display both much genius, and much knowledge and judgment.
It may be executed in different manners. The poet may choose some instructive subject, and he may treat it regularly, and in form; or, without intending a great or regular work, he may only inveigh against particular vices, or make some moral observations on human life and characters, as is commonly done in satires and epistles. All these come under the denomination of didactic poetry.
The highest species of it, is a regular treatise on some philosophical, grave, or useful subject. Of this nature we have several, both ancient and modern, of great merit and character: such as Lucretius's six books De Rerum Natura, Virgil's Georgics, Pope's Essay on Criticism, Akenside's Pleasures of the Imagination, Armstrong on Health, Horace's, Vida's, and Boileau's Art of Poetry.
In all such works, as instruction is the professed object, the fundamental merit consists in sound thought, just principles, clear and apt illustrations. The poet must instruct; but he must study, at the same time, to enliven his instructions, by the introduction of such figures, and such circumstances, as may amuse the imagination, may conceal the dryness of his subject, and embellish it with poetical painting. Virgil, in his Georgics, presents us here with a perfect model. He has the art of raising and beautifying the most trivial circumstances in rural life. When he is going to say that the labour of the country must begin in spring, he expresses himself thus :
Vere novo, gelidus canis cum montibus humor
Depresso incipiat jam tum mihi Taurus aratro
1. 43. Instead of telling his husbandman in plain language, that his crops will fail through bad management, his language is,
Heu, magnum alterias frustra spectabis acervum,
I. 158. Instead of ordering him to water his grounds, he presents us with a beautiful landscape. ,
Ecce supercilio clivosi tramitis undam
1. 108. In all didactic works, method and order are essentially requisite; not so strict and formal as in a prose treatise; yet such as may exhibit clearly to the reader a connected train of instruction.Of the didactic poets, whom I before mentioned, Horace, in his Art of Poetry, is the one most censured for want of method. Indeed, if Horace be deficient in any thing throughout many of his writings, it is in this, of not being sufficiently attentive to juncture and connexion of parts. He writes always with ease and gracefulness; but often in a manner somewhat loose and rambling. There is, however, in that work much good sense, and excellent criticism; and, if it be considered as intended for the regulation of the Roman drama, which seems to have been the author's chief purpose, it will be found to be a more complete and regular treatise, than under the common notion of its being a system of the whole poetical art.
With regard to episodes and embellishments, great liberty is allowed to writers of didactic poetry. We soon tire of a continued series of instructions, especially in a poetical work, where we look for entertainment. The great art of rendering a didactic poem interesting, is to relieve and amuse the reader, by connecting some agreeable episodes with the principal subject. These are always the parts of the work which are best known, and which contribute most to support the reputation of the poet. The principal beauties of Virgil's Georgics lie in digressions of this kind, in which the au
* While yet the Spring is young, while earth unbinds
Her frozen bosom to the western winds;
Till the bright share is buried in the soil.
And shake for food the long abandon'd oak.