« ZurückWeiter »
qu'e voc'ation. Stra'ins of pure feeling, tou'ches of tenderness,
mages of i'nnocent happiness, sym'pathies with suffering virtue, bursts of scoʻrn or indignation at the h'ollowness of the wor'ld, pa’ssages/ tru'e to our moral n'ature, often escape in an imm'oral-work, and sho'w us/ how ha'rd it is/ for a gi'fted spirit/* to divorce itself whoʻlly/ from what is good. Poetry has a natural all'iance/ with our bes't-affections. It delights in the bea’uty and sublim'ity of the outward cre’ation and of the sou'l. It indeed portrays (with terrible e'nergy) the exce^sses of the passions ; but they are passions/ which show a mighty n'ature, which are full of power, which command a'we, and excite a de’ep/ though shu`ddering-sympathy. Its great te'ndency and purpose, i's, to carry the mind beyo'nd and abov'e the bea'ten, du'sty/ wea“ry-walks of o‘rdinary-life ; to lift it into a pu'rer element, and to breathe into it more profo'und and ge'nerous emo'tion. It reveals to us the lo'veliness of n’ature, brings back the fres'hness of youthful feeling, revives the reli'sh of simple pl’easures, keeps/ unquenched/ the enth'usiasm/ which warmed the spring-time of our b’eing, refin'es youthful lo've, strengthens our interest in human nature/ by vi' vid delinea'tions of its te’nderest and lo'ftiest fe'elings, spreads our sym'pathies/ over all clas'ses of soc’iety, kni'ts-us (by ne'wties) with universal be'ing, an'd (through the brightness of its prophetic vissions) helps faith/ to lay ho'ld/ on the future-life.
OBJECTIONS TO POETRY COMBATED
DR. CHANNING. We are awar'e, that it is objected to po'etry, that it gives wrong views' and excites faʻlse expectations-of-life, peoples the mind with sha'dows and illuʼsions, and builds up imagin'ations on the ruin's of wi’sdom. That there i's-a-wisdom, against which po'etry w'ars, (the wisdom of the se'nses, which makes physical co'mfort and gratifica'tion the supreme g'ood, and wealth the chief interest of li'fe) we do not den'y; nor do
* It will not be forgotten, that every infinitive mood requires a pause before it, as well as every preposition except " of,” which is almost always pronounced in the same breath with the word that precedes it ;-as * conscious-of," &c.
we deem it the lea'st-service/ which poetry renders to m'ankind, that it rede’ems them from the thra'ldom of this ea‘rthborn pru'dence.* Bu't, pass'ing over this topic, we would observ'e, that the complaint against poetry, (as abounding in illu'sion and decep’tion) is/ in the m’ain/ grou'ndless. In many p'oems/ there is more of truth/ than in many his'tories and philosophic the’ories. The fictions of g'enius/ are often the ve'hicles of the sublimest v'erities, and its fla'shes/ often open new regions of thoʻught, and throw ne'w-light/ on the m'ysteries of our be'ing. In p'oetry/ the let'ter is fa’lsehood, but the spiorit/ is often profoun'dest-wisdom. An'd/ if truth thus dwells in the boldest fic'tions of the p'oet, much more may it be expected in his delinea'tions of li'fe ; for the pr'esent life (which is the fir'st-stage of the immortal m'ind) abounds in the mater'ials of poetry, and it is the high office of the b’ard/ to detect this divine element/ among the grosser la'bours and ple'asures of our earthly be'ing. The present life is not whoʻlly pros'aic, precise, tam'e, and fi'nite. To the gifoted-eye it abounds in the poetic. The affec'tions, which spread beyond oursel'ves and stretch fa'r/ into futu'rity; the workings of mighty pa'ssions, which seem to arm the so‘ul/ with-an-almost-superh'uman en'ergy; the innocent and irrepre'ssible jo'y of in'fancy, the blo'om, and buoyancy, and dazzling-h'opes of you th ; the throbbings of the hear't, when it first wakes to lov'e, and dreams of a ha'ppiness/ too vas't for ear th ; wooman/ with her be’auty, and gra'ce, and gen’tleness, and fu'lness of feel'ing, and dep'th of affe'ction, and her blu'shes of p'urity, and the ton'es and looks/ which only a mother's-heart/ can inspire ;-theose/ are all poe^tical. It is not tru'es that the p'oet/ paints a life/ which does not ex'ist. He only extracts and conc'entrates (as it w'ere) life's ethe'real e'ssence, arr'ests and condenses/its volatile fra'grance, brings together/ its scattered be’auties, and prolongs its more refi'ned/ but evane'scent jo'ys; a'nd/ in th'is/ he does we'll ; fo'r/ it is good to fe'el that life/ is not whoʻlly usurped by cares for subsistence, and physic'al gratific'atiòns, but adm’its (in measures which may be indefinitely enla’rged) senti'ments and deli'ghts/ worthy of a hi’gher bei'ng. This power of poetry/ to refine our views of li'fe and happiness/ is m'ore, and more ne'eded/ as soc'iety/ adva'nces. It is needed to withstand the encroachments of heartless and artificial man'ners/ which make civiliz'ation/ so tam'e and unin'teresting. It is needed to counteract the tendency of physical sci'ence, wh’ich (being now sought, n'ot as for“merly for intellectual gratification, b'ut/ for multiplying bodily c'omforts,) requires a new dev'elopment of imagina'tion, tas'te, and p'oetry, to preserve men from sinking into an ear'thly, mat'erial, epicure'an-life. Our remar'ks/ in vindication of poetry/ have extended beyond our oʻriginal design. They have had a hig'her-aim/ than to assert the di'gnity of Milton as a poșet, and tha't-is
* In this example we perceive the restraining power of the stronglyqualifying word “but.” Though there is a period after“ prudence,” it manifestly requires to be pronounced with the rising voice, agreeably to the principle of the first general Rule. And here it may be observed, that sentences immediately preceding all such strongly modifying words as but, nevertheless, while, whilst, whereas, &c., (whatever punctuation the word may have that precedes them) require, in general, the rising inflection, as in the example now instanced.
, to ende’ar and recommend this divine a'rt/ to all who reve'rence/ and would c'ultivate and refione their na'ture.
MILTON'S CHARACTER AS A POET.
DR. CHANNING. IN delineating Milton's cha'racter/ as a poạet, we are saved the necessity of looking fa'r/ for its disti"nguishing-attributes. His na'mel is almost identified with subl'imity. He is/ in tru'th/ the subli'mest-of/ me'n. He ris’es, not by ef'fort or d'iscipline, b'ut/ by a native tendency and a godlike in'stinct/ to the contemplation of ob'jects of gra’ndeur and aw'fulness. He always m'oves with a conscious-energy. There is no subject so vaʼst or terr'ific, as to repe'l or intim°idate-him. The overpowering grandeur of a th'eme kin'dles and attractshim. He enters on the description of the infer'nal-regions/ with a fearless tr'ead, as if he felt/ within hims elf/ a pow'er/ to erect the prison-house of fallen sp'irits, to encircle them with flam'es and hor'rors/ worthy of their cr’imes, to call forth from them/ sho'uts/ which should " tear hell's coʻncave,” and to emb'ody' in their chi'ef/ an archangel's e'nergies and a demon's pri'de and hat'e. Even the stupendous conception of Saotan/ seems never to oppr'ess his fa'culties. This character of power/ runs through a'll-Milton's-works. His descriptions of na'ture/ show a frese and bo'ld-hand. He' has no need of
the m'inute, grapohic-skill, which we prize in Cow'per or Cr’abbe. With a few stro'ng or de'licate to’uches, he impre'sses (as it w'ere) his own mi'nd/ on the sceʼnes/ whi'ch he would des'cribe, and kindles the imagination of the gi'ftedreader/ to clothe them with the same radiant h’ues/ under wh'ich/ they app'eared to his ow'n.
This attribute of p'ower/ is universally felt to char'acterize Mi'lton. His subli'mity/ is in every man's mo'uth. Is it felt that hi's poetry/ breathes a sen'sibility and tenderness/ hardly surpa'ssed by its sublimity? We apprehend that the gra'ndeur of Milton's mind/ has thrown some shade over his milder-beauties/; and th'is/ it has do'ne/ not only by being more strik'ing and impoʻsing, bu't/ by the tendency of vast mental e'nergy/ to give a certain ca'lmness to the expression of te’nderness and deep-feeling. A groeat-mind/ is the master of its o'wn enth'usiasm, and does not often break out i'nto those tu'mults, which pa'ss/ with ma'ny/ for the sigʻns of profou'ndemotion. Its sensib'ility (though more intense and enduring) is more self-poss'essed, and less pertu'rbed/ than th‘at of other m'en, and is the 'refore less observed and f'elt, except by thos'e/ who underʻstand (through their own con’sciousness) the wor'kings and u'tterance of g'enuine fee'ling. *
“ THE RUIN OF ENGLAND, THE SETTLED PURPOSE OF BUONAPARTE'S HEART.”
DR. CHANNING. Will it be said that the conqueror has too much work at ho'me/ to care for Ameorica ? He has inde'ed work at ho ́me ; bu't (unhappily for this co’untry) that work ever brings u's/ to his vie'w. There is one work, one oʻbject, which is ever present to the mi'nd-of Napoleon.* It mingl’es/ with all his thoug'hts. It is his dre'am by nigʻht, his caore/ by daủy. He did not forget it on the sho'res of the Baltic, or the ba'nks of the Danube.f The ruin of England) is the fir'st, the most settled pu’rpose-of his he'art. Tha't nation/ is the o'nly b'arrier/ to his ambition. In the opulence, the e'nergy, the publicspirit, the liberty-of-England, he sees the only obstacles to univ'ersal do'mination. England once fa’llen, and the civilized wor'ld/ lies at his fe'et. England ere°ct, and there is one asylum for virtue, magnani'mity, freedom; one-spark/ which may set the world on fir'e; on^e-nation/ to encourage the disaffec'ted, to hold-up/ to the oppʻressed the sta’ndard-of revo'lt. England/ therefore, is the great object of the hostile fu’ry-of the French-em peror. En“gland/ is the grea't-end of his plans; and hi’s-plans (of coʻurse) embrace all na'tions, which come in contact with E'ngland; which lo've/ or haîte her, which can give her support, or contʼribute to her do'wnfall. We th’en, (we may be ass'ured) are not overloo'ked by Napoleon.t We are a n'ation/ spru'ng from E'ngland. We have received from her our law's, and ma'ny of our institu'tions. We speak her la’nguage, and/ in her la'nguage/ we dare to expr'ess the indigna'tion, which she feels at oppression. Besides, we have other t’ies/ which conn'ect us with En'gland. We are a commercial people; commercial by L'abit, commercial by our very si'tuation. But/ no'-nation can be comm'ercial without maintaining some connection with E'ngland, without having many common interests wit’h her, without strengthening the founda'tions of her greatness. England is the great emporium of the world ; and the conqueror knows/ that it is only by extin'guishing-the commerce-of the world, by bringing every commercial na'tion/ to bear h`is y'oke, that he can fix a mortal wo'und/ on Eng'land. Moreo'ver, we are the neighbours of some of the most valuable English c'olonies, and can exert an important i'nfluence on those cha'nnels of her coʻmmerce, those soʻurces of her op'ulence.
* “Of Milton's poetry, it would require a tongue like his ow'n/ to speak the pr'aise ; it invigorates the understanding ; it pu'rifies the affe'ctions ; it lifts up the he’art, to Go'd :- 'V'irtue/ goeth o'ut of it.' E'ver will it end'ure to put to sha'me thoʻse/_who pervert the noblest gʻift-of H'eaven/ to lo'w and sen'sual-abu'se! Ever will it remain a triumphant memo'rial/ that the lamp of ge’nius/ shines with the brightest lu'stre, when it is fe'd' with the pu’rest-oil !"—Quarterly Review, No. LXXI., June, 1827.
Can we then suppose that the ambistious, the keen-s^ightedNapoleon/ overlooks us' in his schemes of universal c'on
* This celebrated proper name is become Anglicised, and has, agreeably to rule, the accent on the penultimate.
+ Negative sentences, and negative members of sentences, it will be recollected, generally require the rising inflection.