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sometimes smooth and flowing, sometimes rough ; varied in its cadence, and intermixed with discords, so as to suit the strength and freedom of epic composition. Neglected and prosaic lines, indeed, we sometimes meet with ; but, in a work so long, and in the main so harmonious, these may be forgiven.
On the whole, Paradise Lost is a poem that abounds with beauties of every kind, and that justly entitles its author to a degree of fame not inferior to any poet ; though it must be also admitted to have many inequalities. It is the lot of almost every high and daring genius, not to be uniform and correct. Milton is too frequently theological and metaphysical ; sometimes harsh in his language ; often too technical in his words, and affectedly ostentatious of his learning. Many of his faults must be attributed to the pedantry of the age in which he lived. He discovers a vigour, a grasp of genius, equal to every thing that is great; if, at some times, he falls much below himself, at other times he rises above every poet of the ancient or modern world.
QUESTIONS. AFTER Homer and Virgil, who is what is remarked ? But what is the the next great epic poet of ancient fate of this poet? How is this illustratimes? Why does he deserve atten- ted? In what age did Lucan live, and tion? Of his Pharsalia, what is obser- what was the consequence ? On the ved? What was formerly remarked ? whole, he is an author possessing what? What does the subject of the Pharsalia What atone for many of his defects; carry? What does it not want? As it and from him, what may be produced ? stands at present, what is said of it; What instances are given, illustrative but what follows? Of Lucan's subject, of this remark? Repeat the passage in what is remarked ? Of its two defects, which Pompey is compared to the anwhat is the first ? What furnish a more cient decaying oak. But when we conproper theme for the epic muse? But sider the whole execution of his poem, of Lucan's genius, what must be con- what are we obliged to pronounce ? fessed ? What is the other defect of| What had his genius; but of what was the subject? Why is this always un- it destitute? Of his style, what is obfortunate for a poet? What remark served? How does he compare with follows? How are Lucan's characters Virgil ? To whom does our author next drawn? Of Pompey, what is observed; I proceed; why; and what is said of and by whom is he always eclipsed ?him? When was his Jerusalem DeliWhat is said of Cato; and of his speech vered published ; and what is said of to Labienus, what is observed? In the it? What is the subject of it; and of conduct of the story, to what has our this enterprise, what is remarked ? author too much attached himself; and What forms an interesting contrast? what is the effect of this? From what What does the subject not produce; does it appear that he is too digressive but what does it exhibit ? What is obalso? What are there in the Pharsa- served of the share which religion poslia; but in what does our author's chief sesses in the enterprise ; and of the acstrength lie? Of his narration, and of tion, also, what is remarked ? In the his descriptions, what is observed ? In conduct of the story, what has Tasso what does his principal merit consist ; shown ? How is this illustrated ? At and what is said of them? In what does the same time, of the whole work, Lucan surpass all the poets of antiqui- what is observed ? What remark folty; and of him, what is farther obser-lows? What is remarked of the epived ? What must we, also, observe ? sodes? With what is the poem enlivenHow is this remark illustrated ? Hence, ed; and of them, what is remarked? in what does he abound, and of them, | How is this remark illustrated? Of Tasso, in the characteristical part,, of the work, for his whole mythology? what is observed? What is said of his What fine machinery, however, of a machinery? When is it noble; and different kind, is there in the Lusiad ? what instances are given ? But what But what is the noblest conceptions of act too great a part throughout the this sort ? What does he tell him ? Of poem ; and form what ? What scenes, this piece of machinery, what is remust it be confessed, carry the mar- marked ? In reviewing the epic poets, vellous to a degree of extravagance ? to make no mention of whom, were unIn general, to what is Tasso most lia-l just ? Why is his work entitled to be ble to censure? What illustration of held a poem? What is said of the plan this remark follows? What apology, of it? Into what has the author however, may be offered for him ? Be-lentered with much felicity; and in tween them, what difference is there? this, how does he compare with other With what beauties does Tasso re- modern poets? Of his descriptions, markably abound? Of both his de- what is observed? Which is the best scriptions and his style, what is obser-executed part of the work; and why ? ved? How is this remark illustrated ? Of the last twelve books, and of the What is said of both of the descriptions warlike adventures, what is remarkwhich have been mentioned? Of his ed ? From what does the chief objecbattles, what is remarked ? In what is tion against this work being classed Tasso not so happy as in his descrip- with epic poems, arise; and of these, tions; and by what is it that he inte-what is observed? What have several rests us? In what is he far inferior to of the epic poets described ; and in the Virgil; and when is he apt to become prospects they have given us of the artificial and strained ? What censure invisible world, what may we observe ? has been carried too far? What re- Illustrate this remark from Homer; marks follow; and what would fully from Virgil; and from Fenelon ? What clear it of all such exceptionable passa- has Voltaire, in his Henriade, given ges? What critics have decried Tas- us? As in every performance of that so? But what would one be apt to ima- celebrated writer, we may expect to gine; and why? In what may Tasso find marks of genius, what follows? be held inferior to Homer, in what to Several of what, particularly, are both Virgil, and in what to Milton? In what new and happy? What remarks folis he inferior to no poet, the three just low? Why is French versification illy mentioned excepted ? Why cannot adapted to epic poetry ? Hence, what Ariosto, with propriety, be classed follows? What does it not do? What among epic writers? What does Arios- is the subject of the poem? What does to appear to have despised; and to the action properly include; and of it, have chosen what? At ihe same time, what is observed ? But to what defects what does his poem contain? Of Ari- is it liable; and how is this illustrated ? osto, and of his Orlando Furioso, what To remedy this last defect, what has is farther observed ?
Voltaire done, and what instance is As the Italians make their boast of given ? What remark follows; and Tasso, of whom do the Portuguese why was this episode contrived? But boast, and of him, what is observed ? / why was the imitation injudicious ? What is the subject of it? Of the enter- What are the general rernarks on the prise, what is remarked; and why wasmachinery employed by Voltaire ? In it interesting to Camoēn's countrymen? justice, however, to our author, what How does the poem open; and what must be observed ? Illustrate this refollows? Of this recital, what is obser- mark. What is one reason why this ved; and what fill up the rest of the poem makes a faint impression? Of poem? From what does it appear that the strain of sentiment which runs the whole work is conducted according through it, what is observed ? How to the epic plan? Towards what is does religion appear, and what spirit there no attempt; and who is the hero? does the author breathe? What has What is observed of the machinery of Milton done? How it this illustrated ? the Lusiad; and how does this appear? Or his subject, what is remarked; but What was one great scope of the expe- what follows? What may be ques. dition ; and what foliows? What salvotioned ; and why? But the subject does the author give towards the end, which he has chosen suited what; and
in the conduct of it, what has he cluding books? Of the last episode, shown? What is a matter of astonish- what is observed? What is the characment; and what remarks follow? ter of his style; and of his blank verse, What did not the nature of the subject what is remarked ? Repeat the closing adınit? Repeat the description of Sa- paragraph. tan. Of Belzebub, Moloch, and Belial, what is remarked; and, what is also
ANALYSIS said of the good angels? In what,
71. Lucan's Pharsalia. however, has he been unsuccessful ?|"
I A. The subject defective. With regard to his human characters, B. The characters spiritedly drawn. what is observed? Where is Adam too c. The narration considered. knowing, and too refined for his situa-| 2. Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered. tion : but what is said of Eve? Of Mil- A. The subject--the narration
B. The characters. ton's sublimity, what is remarked ? Al
a. The machinery. most the whole of what books are con-3. Ariosto's Orlando Furioso. tinued instances of the sublime; and 4. Camoen’s Lusiad. what examples are given ? What is A. The subject—the narration. said of the sixth book? How does Mil
Mil B. The machinery considered.
"25. Fenelon's Telemachus. ton's sublimity compare with that of A. The character of the work. Homer? What other excellences does 6. Voltaire's Henriade. Milton possess ? How is this remark il- A. The subject--the narration. Justrated ? Where is there a falling off: B. The machinery. and with what does Milton's genius
7. Milton's Paradise Lost.
A. The subject--the characters. seem to decline ? But what beauties of | B. The sublimity-the tenderness. the tragic kind are there in the con-1 C. The style and versification.
DRAMATIC POETRY.—TRAGEDY. DRAMATIC poetry has, among all civilized nations, been considered as a rational and useful entertainment, and judged worthy of careful and serious discussion. According as it is employed upon the light and the gay, or upon the grave and affecting incidents of human life, it divides itself into the two forms, of comedy or tragedy. But as great and serious objects command more attention than little and ludicrous ones ; as the fall of a hero interests the public more than the marriage of a private person; tragedy has always been held a more dignified entertainment than comedy. The one rests upon the high passions, the virtues, crimes, and sufferings of mankind. The other on their humours, follies, and pleasures. Terror and pity are the great instruments of the former; ridicule is the sole instrument of the latter. Tragedy shall, therefore, be the object of our fullest discussion. This and the following lecture shall be employed on it; after which, I shall treat of what is peculiar to comedy.
Tragedy, considered as an exhibition of the characters and behaviour of men, in some of the most trying and critical situations of life, is a noble idea of poetry. It is a direct imitation of human manners and actions. For it does not, like the epic poem, exhibit characters by the narration and description of the poet; but the poet disappears; and the personages themselves are set before us, acting and speaking what is suitable to their characters. Hence, no kind of writing is so great a trial of the author's profound knowledge of the human heart. No kind of writing has so much power, when happily executed, to raise the strongest emotions. It is, or ought to be, a mirror in which we behold ourselves, and the evils to which we are exposed; a faithful copy of the human passions, with all their direful effects, when they are suffered to become extravagant.
As tragedy is a high and distinguished species of composition, so also, in its general strain and spirit, it is favourable to virtue. Such power hath virtue happily over the human mind, by the wise and gracious constitution of our nature, that as admiration cannot be raised in epic poetry, so neither in tragic poetry can our passions be strongly moved, unless virtuous emotions be awakened within us. Every poet finds, that it is impossible to interest us in any character, without representing that character as worthy and honourable, though it may not be perfect; and that the great secret for raising indignation, is to paint the person who is to be the object of it, in the colours of vice and depravity. He may, indeed, nay, he must, represent the virtuous as sometimes unfortunate, because this is often the case in real life; but he will always study to engage our hearts in their behalf; and though they may be described as unprosperous, yet there is no instance of a tragic poet representing vice as fully triumphant, and happy, in the catastrophe of the piece. Even when bad men succeed in their designs, punishment is made always to attend them; and misery of one kind or other is shown to be unavoidably connected with guilt. Love and admiration of virtuous characters, compassion for the injured and the distressed, and indignation against the authors of their sufferings, are the sentiments most generally excited by tragedy. And, therefore, though dramatic writers may sometimes, like other writers, be guilty of improprieties, though they may fail of placing virtue precisely in the due point of light, yet no reasonable person can deny tragedy to be a moral species of composition. Taking tragedies complexly, I am fully persuaded, that the impressions left by them upon the mind are, on the whole, favourable to virtue and good dispositions. And, therefore, the zeal which some pious men have shown against the entertainments of the theatre, must rest only upon the abuse of comedy; which, indeed, has frequently been so great as to justify very severe censures against it.
I'he account which Aristotle gives of the design of tragedy is, that it is intended to purge our passions by means of pity and terror. This is somewhat obscure. Various senses have been put upon his words, and much altercation has followed among his commentators. Without entering into any controversy upon this head, the intention of tragedy may, I think, be more shortly and clearly defined, to improve our virtuous sensibility. If an author interests us in behalf of virtue, forms us to compassion for the distressed, inspires us with proper sentiments on beholding the vicissitudes of life, and, by means of the concern which he raises for the misfortunes of others, leads us to guard against errors in our own conduct, he accomplishes all the moral purposes of tragedy.
In order to this end, the first requisite is, that he choose some moving and interesting story, and that he conduct it in a natural and probable manner. For we must observe, that the natural and the probable must always be the basis of tragedy; and are infinitely more important there, than in epic poetry. The object of the epic poet, is to excite our admiration by the recital of heroic adventures; and a much slighter degree of probability is required when admiration is concerned, than when the tender passions are intended to be moved. The imagination, in the former case, is exalted, accommodates itself to the poet's idea, and can admit the marvellous without being shocked. But tragedy demands a stricter imitation of the life and actions of men. For the end which it pursues is not so much to elevate the imagination, as to affect the heart; and the heart always judges more nicely than the imagination, of what is probable. Passion can be raised, only by making the impressions of nature and of truth upon the mind. By introducing, therefore, any wild or romantic circumstances into his story, the poet never fails to check passion in its growth, and, of course, disappoints the main effect of tragedy.
This principle, which is founded on the clearest reason, excludes from tragedy all machinery, or fabulous intervention of the gods. Ghosts have, indeed, maintained their place; as being strongly founded on popular belief, and peculiarly suited to heighten the terror of tragic scenes. But all unravellings of the plot which turn upon the interposition of deities, such as Euripides employs in several of his plays, are much to be condemned; both as clumsy and inartificial, and as destroying the probability of the story. This mixture of machinery with the tragic action is, undoubtedly, a blemish in the ancient theatre.
In order to promote that impression of probability which is so necessary to the success of tragedy, some critics have required, that the subject should never be a pure fiction invented by the poet, but built on real history or known facts. Such, indeed, were generally, if not always, the subjects of the Greek tragedians. But I cannot hold this to be a matter of any great consequence. It is proved by experience, that a fictitious tale, if properly conducted, will melt the heart as much as any real history. In order to our being moved, it is not necessary, that the events related did actually happen, provided they be such as might easily have happened in the ordinary course of nature. Even when tragedy borrows its materials from history, it mixes many a fictitious circumstance. The greatest part of readers neither know, nor inquire, what is fabulous or what is historical, in the subject. They attend only to what is probable, and are touched by events which resemble nature. Accordingly, some of the most pathetic tragedies are entirely fictitious in the subject; such as Voltaire's Zaire and Alzire, the Orphan, Douglas, the Fair Penitent, and several others.
Whether the subject be of the real or feigned kind, that on which most depends for rendering the incidents in a tragedy probable, and by means of their probability affecting, is the conduct or management of the story, and the connexion of its several parts. To regulate this 'conduct, critics have laid down the famous rule of the