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at least a remnant of the former leaven, and among the many who have done me the honor of putting my poems in the same class with those of my betters, the one or two, who have pretended to bring examples of affected simplicity from my volume, have been able to adduce but one instance, and that out of a copy of verses half ludicrous, half splenetic, which I intended, and had myself characterized, as sermoni propriora.
Every reform, however necessary, will by weak minds be carried to an excess, that itself will need reforming. The reader will excuse me for noticing, that I myself was the first to expose risu honesto the three sins of poetry, one or the other of which is the most likely to beset a young writer. So long ago as the publication of the second number of the monthly magazine, under the name of Nehemiah HiggenBOTTOM I contributed three sonnets, the first of which had for its object to excite a good-natured laugh at the spirit of doleful egotism, and at the recurrence of favorite phrases, with the double defect of being at once trite, and licentious. The second, on low, creeping language and thoughts, under the pretence of simplicity. And the third, the phrases of which were borrowed entirely from my own poems, on the indiscriminate use of elaborate and swelling
language and imagery. The reader will find them in the note* below, and will I trust regard them as reprinted for biographical purposes, and not for their poetic merits. So general at
And my poor heart was sad ; so at the MOON
that time, and so decided was the opinion concerning the characteristic vices of my style, that a celebrated physician (now, alas ! no more) speaking of me in other respects with his usual kindness to a gentleman, who was about to meet me at a dinner party, could not however resist giving him a hint not to mention the “ House that Jack built" in my presence, for " that I was as sore as a boil about that sonnet;" he not knowing, that I was myself the author of it.
And beside her stalks her amarous knight! Still on his thighs their wonted brogues are worn, And thro' those brogues, still tatter'd and betorn, His hindward charms glean an unearthly white. Ah! thus thro' broken clouds at night's high Noon · Peeps in fair fragments forth the full-orb'd harvest-moon! The following anecdote will not be wholly out of place here, and may perhaps amuse the reader.
An amateur performer in verse expressed to a common friend, a strong desire to be introduced to me, but hesitated in accepting my friend's immediate offer, on the score that “ he was, he must acknowledge the author of a confounded severe epigram on my ancient mariner, which had given me great pain. I assured my friend that if the epigram was a good one, it would only increase my desire to become acquainted with the author, and begg'd to hear it recited : when, to my no less surprise than amusement, it proved to be one which I had myself some time before written and inserted in the Morning Post. To the author of the Ancient Mariner.
Your poem must eternal be,
Supposed irritability of men of Genius-Brought
to the test of Facts—Causes and Occasions of the charge-Its Injustice.
I have often thought, that it would be neither uninstructive nor unamusing to analyze, and bring forward into distinct consciousness, that complex feeling, with which readers in general take part against the author, in favor of the critic; and the readiness with which they apply to all poets the old sarcasm of Horace upon the scriblers of his time: “ Genus irritabile vatum." A debility and dimness of the imagi-, native power, and a consequent necessity of reliance on the immediate impressions of the senses, do, we well know, render the mind liable to superstition and fanaticism. Having a deficient portion of internal and proper warmth, minds of this class seek in the crowd circum fana for a warmth in common, which they do not possess singly. Cold and phlegmatic in their own nature, like damp hay, they heat and inflame by co-acervation; or like bees they become restless and irritable through the increased temperature of collected multitudes. Hence
the German word for fanaticism (such at least was its original import) is derived from the swarming of bees, namely, Schwärmen, Schwärmerey. The passion being in an inverse proportion to the insight, that the more vivid, as this the less distinct; anger is the inevitable consequence. The absence of all foundation within their own minds for that, which they yet believe both true and indispensible for their safety and happiness, cannot but produce an uneasy state of feeling, an involuntary sense of fear from which nature has no means of rescuing herself but by anger. Experience informs us that the first defence of weak minds. is to recriminate.
“ There's no Philosopher but sees,
MAD Ox. But where the ideas are vivid, and there exists an endless power of combining and modifying them, the feelings and affections blend more easily and intimately with these ideal creations, than with the objects of the senses, the mind is affected by thoughts, rather than by things ; and only then feels the requisite interest even for the most important events, and accidents, when by means of meditation they have passed into thoughts. The sanity of the mind is between superstition with fanaticism on the one