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might have left that task to others, who, not being able to put in thought, can only make us grin with the excrescence of a word of two or three syllables in the

close.. :'Tis, indeed, below so great a master to make 5 use of such a little instrument. But his good sense is perpetually shining through all he writes; it affords us not the time of finding faults. We pass through the levity of his rhyme, and are immediately carried into

some admirable useful thought. After all, he has 10 chosen this kind of verse, and has written the best

in it: and had he taken another, he would always have excelled : as we say of a court favourite, that whatsoever his office be, he still makes it uppermost, and most beneficial to himself.

The quickness of your imagination, my Lord, has already prevented me; and you know beforehand, that I would prefer the verse of ten syllables, which we call the English heroic, to that of eight. This is truly my

opinion. For this sort of number is more roomy; the 20 thought can turn itself with greater ease in a larger compass.

When the rhyme comes too thick upon us, it straitens the expression ; we are thinking of the close, when we should be employed in adorning the thought.

It makes a poet giddy with turning in a space too 25 narrow for his imagination; he loses many beauties,

without gaining one advantage. For a burlesque rhyme I have already concluded to be none; or, if it were, 'tis more easily purchased in ten syllables than in eight. In both occasions 'tis as in a tennis-court, when

a 30 the strokes of greater force are given, when we strike

out and play at length. Tassoni and Boileau have left us the best examples of this way, in the Secchia Rapita, and the Lutrin; and next them Merlin Coccaius in his

Baldus. I will speak only of the two former, because 35 the last is written in Latin verse. The Secchia Rapita

is an Italian poem, a satire of the Varronian kind. 'Tis
written in the stanza of eight, which is their measure
for heroic verse. The words are stately, the numbers
smooth, the turn both of thoughts and words is happy.
The first six lines of the stanza seem majestical and 5
severe; but the two last turn them all into a pleasant
ridicule. Boileau, if I am not much deceived, has
modelled from hence his famous Lutrin. He had read
the burlesque poetry of Scarron, with some kind of
indignation, as witty as it was, and found nothing in 19
France that was worthy of his imitation; but he copied
the Italian so well, that his own may pass for an
original. He writes it in the French heroic verse, and
calls it an heroic poem ; his subject is trivial, but his
verse is noble. I doubt not but he had Virgil in his
eye, for we find many admirable imitations of him, and
some parodies; as particularly this passage in the
fourth of the Æneids-

Nec tibi diva parens, generis nec Dardanus auctor,
Perfide ; sed duris genuit te cautibus horrens

Caucasus; Hyrcanæque admorunt ubera tigres : which he thus translates, keeping to the words, but altering the sense

Non, ton Père à Paris, ne fut point boulanger:
Et tu n'es point du sang de Gervais, l'horloger;

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Ta mère ne fut point la maitresse d'un coche :
Caucase dans ses flancs te forma d'une roche :
Une tigresse affreuse, en quelque antre écarté,

Te fit, avec son lait, sucer sa cruauté. And, as Virgil in his fourth Georgic, of the Bees, per. 30 petually raises the lowness of his subject, by the loftiness of his words, and ennobles it by comparisons drawn from empires, and from monarchs

Admiranda tibi levium spectacula rerum,
Magnanimosque duces, totiusque ordine gentis

35 Mores et studia, et populos, et prælia dicam.

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low

And again

At genus immortale manet; multosque per annos

Stat fortuna domus, et avi numerantur avorum ;we see Boileau pursuing him in the same flights, and 5 scarcely yielding to his master. This, I think, my

Lord, to be the most beautiful, and most noble kind of satire. Here is the majesty of the heroic, finely mixed with the venom of the other; and raising the delight

which otherwise would be flat and vulgar, by the 10 sublimity of the expression. I could say somewhat

more of the delicacy of this and some other of his satires; but it might turn to his prejudice, if 'twere carried back to France.

I have given your Lordship but this bare hint, in what 15 verse and in what manner this sort of satire may be best

managed. Had I time, I could enlarge on the beautiful turns of words and thoughts, which are as requisite in this, as in heroic poetry itself, of which the satire is

undoubtedly a species. With these beautiful turns, , 2d I confess myself to have been unacquainted, till about

twenty years ago, in a conversation which I had with that noble wit of Scotland, Sir George Mackenzie, he asked me why I did not imitate in my verses the turns

of Mr. Waller and Sir John Denham, of which he 25 repeated many to me. I had often read with pleasure,

and with some profit, those two fathers of our English poetry, but had not seriously enough considered those beauties which gave the last perfection to their works.

Some sprinklings of this kind I had also formerly in my 30 plays; but they were casual, and not designed. But

this hint, thus seasonably given me, first made me sensible of my own wants, and brought me afterwards to seek for the supply of them in other English authors.

I looked over the darling of my youth, the famous 35 Cowley; there I found, instead of them, the points of

wit, and quirks of epigram, even in the Davideis, an heroic poem, which is of an opposite nature to those puerilities; but no elegant turns either on the word or on the thought. Then I consulted a greater genius, (without offence to the Manes of that noble author,) 5 I mean Milton. But as he endeavours everywhere to express Homer, whose age had not arrived to that fineness, I found in him a true sublimity, lofty thoughts, which were clothed with admirable Grecisms, and ancient words, which he had been digging from the 10 mines of Chaucer and Spenser, and which, with all their rusticity, had somewhat of venerable in them; but I found not there neither that for which I looked.

last I had recourse to his master, Spenser, the author of that immortal poem called the Fairy Queen ; and 15 there I met with that which I had been looking for so long in vain. Spenser had studied Virgil to as much advantage as Milton had done Homer; and amongst the rest of his excellencies had copied that. Looking farther into the Italian, I found Tasso had done the 20 same; nay more, that all the sonnets in that language are on the turn of the first thought; which Mr. Walsh, in his late ingenious preface to his poems, has observed. In short, Virgil and Ovid are the two principal fountains of them in Latin poetry. And the French at this day 25 are so fond of them, that they judge them to be the first beauties: delicat et bien tourné, are the highest commendations which they bestow on somewhat which they think a masterpiece.

An example of the turn on words, amongst a 30 thousand others, is that in the last book of Ovid's Metamorphoses

Heu! quantum scelus est, in viscera, viscera condi!
Congestoque avidum pinguescere corpore corpus;
Alteriusque animantem animantis vivere leto.

35 IO

An example on the turn both of thoughts and words is to be found in Catullus, in the complaint of Ariadne, when she was left by Theseus

Tum jam nulla viro juranti fæmina credat ; 5

Nulla viri speret sermones esse fideles ;
Qui, dum aliquid cupiens animus prægestit apisci,
Nil metuunt jurare, nihil promittere parcunt:
Sed simul ac cupidæ mentis satiata libido est,

Dicta nihil metuere, nihil perjuria curant.
An extraordinary turn upon the words is that in Ovid's
Epistolæ Heroidum, of Sappho to Phaon-

Si, nisi quæ forma poterit te digna videri,

Nulla futura tua est, nulla futura tua est. Lastly, a turn, which I cannot say is absolutely on 15 words, for the thought turns with them, is in the fourth

Georgic of Virgil, where Orpheus is to receive his wife from Hell, on express condition not to look on her till she was come on earth-

Cum subita incautum dementia cepit amantem ;

Ignoscenda quidem, scirent si ignoscere Manes. I will not burthen your Lordship with more of them; for I write to a master who understands them better than myself. But I may safely conclude them to be great beauties. I might descend also to the mechanic beauties of heroic verse; but we have yet no English prosodia, not so much as a tolerable dictionary, or a grammar; so that our language is in a manner barbarous; and what government will encourage any

one, or more, who are capable of refining it, I know 30 not: but nothing under a public expense can go

through with it. And I rather fear a declination of the language, than hope an advancement of it in the present age.

I am still speaking to you, my Lord, though, in all 35 probability, you are already out of hearing. Nothing,

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