« AnteriorContinuar »
Lụtes, laurels, seas of milk, and ships of amber, 17
What! have his daughters brought him to this pass ?18
or from the preceding apostrophe to the elements; the theory of the fine arts, and of poetry in particular, could not but derive some additional and important light. It would in its immediate effects furnish a torch of guidance to the philosophical critic; and ultimately to the poet himself. In energetic minds, truth soon changes by domestication into power; and from directing in the discrimination and appraisal of the product, becomes influencive in the production. To admire on principle, is the only way to imitate without loss of originality.
It has been already hinted, that metaphysics and psychology have long been my hobby-horse. But to have a hobby-horse, and to be vain of it, are so commonly found together, that they pass almost for the same. I trust, therefore, that there will be
tance; as, after the magnificent approach of the Messiah to battle, the poet, by one touch from himself
Far off their coming shone makes the whole one image. And so at the conclusion of the description : of the entranced Angels, in which every sort of image from all the regions of earth and air is introduced to diversify and illustrate, the reader is brought back to the simple image by
He called so loud, that all the hollow deep
Of Helt resounded. The dramatic imagination does not throw back but brings close; it stamps all nature with one, and that its own, meaning, as in Lear throughout.” Table Talk, p. 305, 2d edit.
There is more of imagination in it—that power whi draws all things to one-which makes things animate and inanimate, beings with their attributes, subjects and their accessories, take one color and serve to one effect! Lamb's Essay on the Genius of Hogarth. Prose Works, i., p 189. Ed.]
[See also Mr. Wordsworth's preface, pp. 29-30. S. C.]
more good humor tran contempt, in the smile with which the reader chastises my self-complacency, if I confess myself un. certain, whether the satisfaction from the perception of a truth new to myself may not have been rendered more poignant by the conceit, that it would be equally so to the public. There was a time, certainly, in which I took some little credit to my. self, in the belief that I had been the first of my countrymen, who had pointed out the diverse meaning of which the two terms were capable, and analysed the faculties to which they should be appropriated. Mr. W. Taylor's recent volume of synonymesio I have not yet seen ; but his specification of the terms in ques
19 (“ British Synonyms Discriminated. By W. Taylor.” Ed.]
20 I ought to have added, with the exception of a single sheet which 1 accidentally met with at the printer's. Even from this scanty specimen, I found it impossible to doubt the talent, or not to admire the ingenuity of the author. That his distinctions were for the greater part unsatisfactory to my mind, proves nothing against their accuracy; but it may possibly be serviceable to him, in case of a second edition, if I take this opportunity of suggesting the query: whether he may not have been occasionally misled, by having assumed, as to me he appears to have done, the non-existence of any absolute synonymes in our language? Now' cannot but think, that there are many which remain for our posterity to distinguish and appropriate, and which I regard as so much reversionary 'wealth in our mother tongue. When two distinct meanings are confounded under one or more words—and such must be the case, as sure as our knowledge is progressive and of course imperfect)-erroneous consequences will be drawn, and what is true in one sense of the word will be affirmed as true in toto. Men of research, startled by the consequences, seek in the things themselves—(whether in or out of the mind)—for a knowledge of the fact, and having discovered the difference, remove the equivocation either by the substitution of a new word, or by the appropriation of one of the two or more words, which had before been used pro. miscuously. When this distinction has been so naturalized and of such general currency that the language does as it were think for us- -(like the sliding rule which is the mechanic's safe substitute for arithmetical knowledge)—we then say, that it is evident to common sense.
Common sense, therefore, differs in different ages. What was born and christened in the Schools passes by degrees into the world at large, and becomes the property of the market and the tea-table. At least I can discover no other meaning of the term, common sense, if it is to convey any specific difference from sense and judgment in genere, and where it is not used scholastically for the universal reason. Thus in the reign of Charles II. the philosophic
tion has been clearly shown to be both insuficient and erroneous by Mr. Wordsworth in the Preface added to the late collection of his Poems. The explanation which Mr. Wordsworth has himself given, will be found to differ from mine, chiefly, perhaps, as our objects are different. It could scarcely indeed happen otherwise, from the advantage I have enjoyed of frequent con
world was called to arms by the moral sophisms of Hobbes, and the ablest writers exerted themselves in the detection of an error, which a school. boy would now be able to confute by the mere recollection that compulsion and obligation conveyed two ideas perfectly disparate, and that what appertained to the one had been falsely transferred to the other by a mere confusion of terms.*
* See Hobbes's Treatise on Liberty and Necessity. (Eng. Works, iv., Sir W. Molesworth's edit.) The term obligation is not used by Hobbes. His position is that some actions are not compelled, but that all are necessitated. (Pp. 261-2.) “ Natural efficacy of objects," he says, “does determine voluntary agents, and necessitates the Will, and consequently the Action;" but for moral etficacy I understand not what he means. (P. 247.)-—"When first a man hath an appetite or will to something, to which immediately before he had no appetite nor will, the cause of his will is not the will itself, but something else not in his own disposing. So that whereas it is out of controversy that of voluntary actions the will is the necessary cause, and by this which is said, the will is also caused by other things whereof it disposeth not, it followeth that voluntary actions have all of them necessary causes, and therefore are necessitated.” (P. 274.)
A voluntary action, therefore, with Hobbes, is an action necessarily consequent on or identical with the last opinion, judgment, or dictate of the understanding, --which last opinion, judgment, or dictate of the understanding is necessarily determined by the presentation of certain " external objects to a man of such or such a temperature." (P. 267.) Of course Obligation, or a law of Duty, grounded on conviction of a universal Right and Wrong, True and False, has no place in Hobbes's system; nor can that system be consistently defended against the charge that it destroys the very foundations of all morality properly understood. It is true that Hobbes himself in this Treatis : denies the imputed consequence; but his reasoning in this respect is so wenk, -depending upon a covert use of the terms “will ” and “willingly," in a sense inconsistent with that necessarily attached to them in the previous positions,-that it cannot but be suspected that Hobbes himself felt the legitimacy of the charge, that upon his principles, Morality, in any shape but that of positive Law, was an empty pame. Practically, what other conclusion cap be drawn?
This Treatise is one of the least agreeable of all Hobbes's works. It contains in all its naked terrors that frightful dogma, which, strange to say, has, with scarcely any modif cation but in form, been reproduced and advocated with zealous reiteration in the sermons and other writings of those popular divines who have so largely influenced the public mind for the last seven or eight years. “I say," says Hobbes, “that the power of God alone, without other helps, is sufficient justification of any action he doth." (P. 249.) “Power irresistible justifies all actions, really and properly, in whomsoever it be found." -"This I know ;-God cannot sin, because his doing a thing makes it just, and consequently no sin-and therefore it is blasphemy to say, God can sin; but to say God aan so order the world, as a sin may be necessarily caused thereby in a man, I do not see how It is any dishonor to Him." (Pp. 250-1.) If this is true, God—the Good-differs from Moloch in nothing but power. Ed.]
versation with him on the subject to which a poem of his own first directed my attention, and my conclusions concerning which he had made more lucid to myself by many happy instances drawn from the operation of natural objects on the mind. But it was Mr. Wordsworth's purpose to consider the influences of · fancy and imagination as they are manifested in poetry, and from the different effects to conclude their diversity in kind; while it is my object to investigate the seminal principle, and then from the kind to deduce the degree. My friend has drawn a masterly sketch of the branches with their poetic fruitage. I wish to add the trunk, and even the roots as far as they lift themselves above ground, and are visible to the naked eye of our common consciousness.
Yet even in this attempt I am aware that I shall be obliged to draw more largely on the reader's attention, than so immethodi. cal a miscellany as this can authorize; when in such a work (the Ecclesiastical Policy) of such a mind as Hooker's, the judi. cious author, though no less admirable for the perspicuity than for the port and dignity of his language, and though he wrote for men of learning in a learned age,-saw nevertheless occasion to anticipate and guard against " complaints of obscurity,"
, as often as he was to trace his subject “ to the highest well-spring and fountain.” Which (continues he) “ because men are not accustomed to, the pains we take are more needful a great deal, than acceptable; and the matters we handle, seem by reason of newness (till the mind grow better acquainted with them), dark and intricate." É I would gladly, therefore, spare both myself and others this labor, if I knew how without it to present an intelligible statement of my poetic creed, -not as my opinions, which weigh for nothing, but as deductions from established
premises conveyed in such a form, as is calculated either to effect a fundamental conviction, or to receive a fundamental confutation. If I may dare once more adopt the words of Hooker, “they, unto whom we shall seem tedious, are in no wise injured by us, because it is in their own hands to spare that labor, which they are not willing to endure."** Those at least, let me be
21 [B. I., ch. i., 9 2 Ed.]
permitted to add, who have taken so much pains to render me ridiculous for a perversion of taste, and have supported the charge by attributing strange notions to me on no other authority than their own conjectures, owe it to themselves as well as to me not to refuse their attention to my own sfatement of the theory which I do acknowledge ; or shrink from the trouble of examin. ing the grounds on which I rest it, or the arguments which I offer in its justification.