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These instances and observations may give some just idea of true poetical description. We have reason always to distrust an author's descriptive talents, when we find him laborious and turgid, amassing common place epithets and general expressions, to work up a high conception of some object, of which, after all, we can form but an indistinct idea. The best describers are simple and concise. They set before us such features of an object, as, on the first view, strike and warm the fancy; they give us ideas which a statuary or a painter could lay hold of, and work after them; which is one of the strongest and most decisive trials of real merit of description.
HAVING treated of pastoral and lyric/ what beauties of this kind are menpoetry, to what does our author pro- tioned? What other passages are also ceed; and under it, what is included ? mentioned ; and of them, what is obWhat should be the ultimate end of served ? By what remark are these ilcompositions of every kind? In what lustrations followed ? In what, by a manner is this useful impression, in didactic poet, may much art be shown? poetry, most commonly made ? From What instance have we of Virgil's adwhat, therefore, does it, in form only, dress in this point? Of Dr. Akenside's differ? At the same time, by means of Pleasures of the Imagination, what is its form, what advantages has it over remarked; and also of Dr. Armstrong, prose instruction; and hence, what in his Art of Preserving Health ? Into follows? In what different ways may it what style do satires and epistles nabe executed ? All these come under turally run? As the manners and chawhat denomination? What is the high-racters, which occur in ordinary life, est species of it? Of this nature, what are their subject, what follows? Of sapoems have we? In all such works, as tire, in its early state, what is observed ? instruction is the professed object, in Who corrected its grossness; and what what does the fundamental merit con- was done by Horace? What end does sist? While the poet must instruct, it profess to have in view; and in order what must he, at the same time, stu- to this end, what does it assume ? In dy? Where do we find a perfect model how many different ways, and by of this; and what art does he possess ? whom, has it been carried on? In By what passage is this remark illus- what manner does Horace conduct it? trated ? Instead of telling his husband-Of Juvenal's manner, what is obserman, in plain language, that his crops ved ? Which does Perseus resemble; will fail through bad management, and for what is he distinguished ? Of what is his language ? Instead of or-poetical epistles, when employed on dering him to water his grounds, with moral or critical subjects, what is obwhat does he present us? Repeat the served ? In the form of an epistle, howpassage. In all didactic works, whatever, what may be done; and what inare essentially requisite ? Of Horace's stances are given ? For what are such Art of Poetry, what is remarked; and works as these designed; and what of him, what is farther observed ? | follows? But of didactic epistles, what What, however, does that work con- is observed ? In all didactic poetry of tain ?' How should it be considered; this kind, what is an important rule? and of it, what is then observed ? With In what does much of their grace conregard to episodes and embellishments, sist; and what does this give to such what is remarked ; and why? What compositions ? On what, also, does is the great art of rendering a didactic much of their merit depend? How is poem interesting? Of these, what is this illustrated ? Of Mr. Pope's ethical observed ? From Virgil's Georgics, l epistles, what is observed ? Here, what is further observed of him, and also of all the English poems in the descripDryden? Of what would one scarcely tive style, what are the richest and think him capable; but what remark most remarkable? Of these two poems, follows? Of his translation of the Iliad, / what is farther observed ? Repeat the what is observed ? From what does it passage here introduced from the Penappear that he was capable of tender seroso. On this passage, what remarks poetry? But what are the qualities for are made? What says Homer, dewhich he is chiefly distinguished ? How scribing one of his heroes in battle? Of is this remark illustrated ? What is the this passage, what is observed ? Into character of his imitations of Horace? what does it evaporate, when it comes Of his paintings of characters, what is into the hands of Pope ? Repeat Mr. observed? What idea do these parts of Pope's translation. What is to be obhis works give us of the effect of rhyme? served ? What can bear to be more What does he himself tell us ? Among amplified and prolonged; and why? moral and didactic poets, who must But where a sublime or pathetic imnot be passed over in silence? What pression is intended to be made, what, appears in all his works? Of his Uni- above all things, is required ; and for versal Passion, what is observed ? what reason ? Repeat Ossian's descripThough his wit may often be too tion of a ghost. What, also, deserves sparkling, yet, what follows? Of his attention? Why should this be done? Night Thoughts, what is observed ? To whom is this well known; and Among French authors, who has much what remark follows? What illustramerit in didactic poetry? Of his art of tive example is given? Of these five poetry, his satires, and his epistles, what lines, what is remarked ? What is a is observed ?
great beauty in Milton's Allegro? From didactic, to what does our au- Why should every thing in descripthor next proceed ? By descriptive poe- tion be as marked and as particular as try, what is not meant; and why ? | possible ? What illustration of this reFor what purpose is description gene- mark is given ? What writers were rally introduced ? But why does it de- sensible of this; and of this, what inmand no small attention? Of what is stance is given ? What passage is also description the great test; and what introduced from Horace, illustrative of does it always distinguish ? How is the same remark? What evidence this remark fully illustrated ? To what have we that both Homer and Virgil is this happy talent chiefly owing? In are remarkable for the talent of poetiwhat lies the great art of picturesque cal description? What furnish many description? That these may be right- beautiful instances of poetical descriply selected, what general directions are tion? Of Ossian, what is observed ? given? How will these general rules What passage is introduced as one of be best understood ? Which is the lar- his fullest descriptions ? Of Shakspeare gest and fullest professed descriptive as a descriptive poet, what is observed; composition in any language; and of it, and what instance is given? Upon what is observed? What is its style ? what does much of the beauty of deNotwithstanding this äefect, of him, scriptive poetry depend ? On this partiwhat is observed? What had he stu- cular, what remarks are made ? What died and copied ; and being enamour-poems of Virgil, and of Horace, must ed of her beauties, what was the con- be assigned to this class; and why? sequence ? Transmitting the inpres- What should every epithet do? To ilsion which he felt to his readers, what lustrate this, what example is given follows? What instances of beautiful from Milton? Of the epithets here emdescription might be given ; but what ployed, what is observed ? How is this one only is produced ? Repeat it. Or illustrated ? But, of what kind are this passage, what is remarked ? Re- there many epithets? Of this kind, peat the eulogium which Dr. Johnson what instances are given ? What do gives of Thompson. What is said of they give to the language; but what Mr. Parnell's tale of the Hermit? In it, is their effect? What is, sometimes, in what are pieces of very fine painting; the power of a poet of genius? In what and of them, what is observed? But of lines may we remark this effect? Among these wild scenes, what is ad-1
ANALYSIS. mirably imagined ; and by this one 1. Didactic poetry. word, presenting what ? Akin to this, I A. The manner of its execution. is what epithet? What does he say? | B. Method and order essential. Repeat the passage. What comment
L c. Episodes and embellishments.
D. Satirical poems. has been made on this passage? In ac-1 E. Poetical epistles. counting for what, has Virgil employ- F. Didactic writers of eminence. ed an epithet with great beauty and/2. Descriptive poetry. propriety? Repeat the passage. orl A. Description the test of a poet's imawhat may these instances and obser
a. The selection of circumstances. vations give some just idea ? When
B. The character of Thompson's Seahave we reason to distrust an authur's sons. descriptive talents? Of the best de c. Parnell, Milton, &c. descriptive scriptions, what is observed? What poets. features of an object do they set before
D. Homer, Virgil, &c. descriptive poets.
a. A proper choice of epithets of us, and what do they give us ?
THE POETRY OF THE HEBREWS. Among the various kinds of poetry which we are, at present, employed in examining, the ancient Hebrew poetry, or that of the Scriptures, justly deserves a place. Viewing these sacred books in no higher light, than as they present to us the most ancient monuments of poetry extant, at this day, in the world, they afford a curious object of criticism. They display the taste of a remote age and country. They exhibit a species of composition, very different from any other with which we are acquainted, and, at the same time, beautiful. Considered as inspired writings, they give rise to discussions of another kind. But it is our business, at present, to consider them not in a theological, but in a critical view : and it must needs give pleasure, if we shall find the beauty and dignity of the composition, adequate to the weight and importance of the matter. Dr. Lowth's learned treatise, ‘De Sacra Poesi Hebræorum,' ought to be perused by all who desire to become thoroughly acquainted with this subject. It is a work exceedingly valuable, both for the elegance of its composition, and for the justness of the criticism which it contains. In this lecture, as I cannot illustrate the subject with more benefit to the reader, than by following the track of that ingenious author, I shall make much use of his observations.
I need not spend many words in showing, that among the books of the Old Testament, there is such an apparent diversity in style, as sufficiently discovers, which of them are to be considered as poetical, and which as prose compositions. While the historical books, and legislative writings of Moses, are evidently prosaic in the composition, the book of Job, the Psalms of David, the Song of Solomon, the Lamentations of Jeremiah, a great part of the prophetical writings, and several passages scattered occasionally through the historical books, carry the most plain and distinguishing marks of poetical writing.
There is not the least reason for doubting, that originally these
were written in verse, or some kind of measured numbers; though, as the ancient pronunciation of the Hebrew language is now lost, we are not able to ascertain the nature of the Hebrew verse, or at most can ascertain it but imperfectly. Concerning this point there have been great controversies among learned men, which it is unnecessary to our present purpose to discuss. Taking the Old Testament in our own translation, which is extremely literal, we find plain marks of many parts of the original being written in a measured style; and the
disjecti membra poëtæ,' often show themselves. Let any person read the historical introduction to the book of Job, contained in the first and second chapters, and then go on to Job's speech in the beginning of the third chapter, and he cannot avoid being sensible, that he passes all at once from the region of prose to that of poetry. Not only the poetical sentiments and the figured style, warn him of the change; but the cadence of the sentence, and the arrangement of the words, are sensibly altered; the change is as great as when he passes from reading Cæsar's Commentaries, to read Virgil's Æneid. This is sufficient to show that the sacred Scriptures contain what must be called poetry in the strictest sense of that word; and I shall afterwards show, that they contain instances of most of the different forms of poetical writing. It may be proper to remark in passing, that hence arises a most invincible argument in honour of poetry. No person can imagine that to be a frivolous and contemptible art, which has been employed by writers under divine inspiration, and has been chosen as a proper channel for conveying to the world the knowledge of divine truth.
From the earliest times, music and poetry were cultivated among the Hebrews. In the days of the judges, mention is made of the schools or colleges of the prophets; where one part of the employment of the persons trained in such schools was, to sing the praises of God, accompanied with various instruments. In the first book of Samuel, (chap. x. 7.) we find, on a public occasion, a company of these prophets coming down from the hill where their school was,
prophesying,' it is said, with the psaltery, tabret, and harp, before them.' But in the days of king David, music and poetry were carried to their greatest height. For the service of the tabernacle, he appointed four thousand Levites, divided into twenty-four courses, and marshalled under several leaders, whose sole business it was to sing hymns, and to perform the instrumental music in the public worship. Asaph, Heman, and Jeduthun, were the chief directors of the music; and from the titles of some psalms, it would appear that they were also eminent composers of hymns or sacred poems. In chapter xxv. of the first book of Chronicles, an account is given or David's institutions, relating to the sacred music and poetry; which were certainly more costly, more splendid and magnificent, than ever obtained in the public service of any other nation.
The general construction of the Hebrew poetry is of a singular nature, and peculiar to itself. It consists in dividing every period into correspondent, for the most part into equal members, which answer to one another, both in sense and sound. In the first member of the period a sentiment is expressed; and in the second member, the same sentiment is amplified, or is repeated in different terms, or sometimes contrasted with its opposite; but in such a manner that the same structure, and nearly the same number of words, is preserved. This is the general strain of all the Hebrew poetry Instances of it occur every where on opening the Old Testament. Thus, in Psalm xcvi. • Sing unto the Lord a new song —sing unto the Lord all the earth. Sing unto the Lord, and bless his name—show forth his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the heathen-his wonders among all the people. For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised-he is to be feared above all the gods. Honour and majesty are before him-strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. It is owing, in a great measure, to this form of composition, that our version, though in prose, retains so much of a poetical cast. For the version being strictly word for word after the original, the form and order of the original sentence are preserved; which, by this artificial structure, this regular alternation and correspondence of parts, makes the ear sensible of a departure from the common style and tone of prose.
The origin of this form of poetical composition among the Hebrews, is clearly to be deduced from the manner in which their sacred hymns were wont to be sung. They were accompanied with music, and they were performed by choirs or bands of singers and musicians, who answered alternately to each other. When, for instance, one band began the hymn thus: “The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice;' the chorus, or semi-chorus, took up the corresponding versicle; · Let the multitude of the isles be glad thereof.' — Clouds and darkness are around about him,' sung the one; the other replied, Judgment and righteousness are the habitation of his throne.' And in this manner their poetry, when set to music, naturally divided itself into a succession of strophes and antistrophes correspondent to each other; whence, it is probable, the antiphon, or responsory, in the pı:blic religious service of so many christian churches, derived its origin.
We are expressly told, in the book of Ezra, that the Levites sung in this manner; . Alternatim,' or by course; (Ezra iii. 11.) and some of David's Psalms bear plain marks of their being composed in order to be thus performed. The 24th Psalm, in particular, which is thought to have been composed on the great and solemn occasion of the ark of the covenant being brought back to Mount Zion, must have had a noble effect when performed after this manner, as Dr. Lowth has illustrated it. The whole people are supposed to be attending the procession. The Levites and singers, divided into their several courses, and accompanied with all their musical instruments, led the way. After the introduction to the Psalm, in the two first verses, when the procession begins to ascend the sacred mount, the question is put, as by a semi-chorus : Who shall ascend unto the hill of the Lord, and who shall stand in his holy place ?' The response is made by the full chorus with the greatest dignity: • He that hath clean hands and a pure heart; who hath not listed