Puslapio vaizdai

Who of all ages to succeed, but these authors the affectation of feeling

greatness often hurts the perfpiThe evil on him brought by me, cuity of the stile, as in many others will curse

the endevor after perspicuity preMy head, mil fare our ancestor judices its greatness. impure,

Aristole has observed, that the For this we may thank Adam idiomatic stile may be avoided, and

the sublime formed, by the followThe great masters in compositioning methods. First, by the use of know very well that many an ele- metaphors: such are those in Milton. gant phrase becomes improper for

Imparadis'd in one another's arms. a poet or an orator, when it has been debased by common use. For

-And in his hand a reed this reason the works of ancient

Stood waving tipt with fire. authors, which are written in dead

The grassy clods now calv'd. languages, have a great advan Spangled with eyes tage over those which are writ In these and innumerable other ten in languages that are now fpo- instances, the metaphors are very ken. Were there any mean phrases bold but juft; I must however obor idioms in Virgil and Homer, ferve, that the metaphors are not they would not shock the ear of thick sown in Milton, which althe most delicate modern reader, so ways savors too much of wit ; that much as they would have done that they never clash with one another, of an old Greek or Roman, be- which, as Aristotle observes, turns cause we never hear them pro- a sentence into a kind of an enigma nounced in our freets, or in ordi- or riddle; and that he feldom has nary conversation.

recourse to them where the proper It is not therefore suficient, that and natural words will do as well. the language of an epic poem be Another way of raising the lanperspicuous, unless it be also sublime. guage, and giving it a poetical To this end it ought to deviate turn, is to make use of the idioms from the common forms and or- of other tongues. Virgil is full of dinary phrases of speech. The the Greek forms of speech, which judgment of a poet very much the critics call Hellenisms, as Hodiscovers itself in shunning the com- race in his odes abounds with them mon roads of expression, without much more than Virgil. I need not falling into such ways of speech as mention the several dialects which may seem stiff and unnatural; he Homer has made use of for this most not swell into a false sublime, end. Milton in conformity with by endevoring to avoid the other the practice of the ancient poets, extreme. Among the Greeks, Æf- and with Aristotle's rule, has inchylus, and sometimes Sophocles fused a great many Latinisms as were guilty of this fault; among well as Græcisms, and sometimes the Latins, Claudian and Statius; Hebraisms, into the language of and among our own Country- his poem; as towards the beginmen, Shakespear and Lee. In ning of it,


Nor did they not perceive the evil you observe the measure of his plight

verse, he has with great judgment In which they were, or the fierce suppressed a syllable in feveral pains not feel.

words, and shortned those of two Yet to their general's voice they fyllables into one, by which mefoon obey'd.

thod, besides the above-mentioned -Who shall tempt with wand'ring advantage, he has given a greater feet

variety to his nuinbers. But this The dark unbottom'd infinite ac practice is more particularly res byfs,

markable in the names of persons And through the palpable obscure and of countries, as Brëlzebub, Hefa find out

sebon, and in many other particuHis uncouth way, or spread his lars, wherein he has either changed airy flight

the name, or made use of that Upborne with indefatigable wings which is not the most commonly Over the vast abrupt !

known, that he might the better So both ascend

depart from the language of the In the visions of God B. 11.


The same reason recommended Under this head may be reckoned to him several old words, which the placing the adjective after the also makes his poem appear the substantive, the transposition of more venerable, and gives it a words, the turning the adjective greater air of antiquity. into a substantive, with several I must likewise take notice, that other foreign modes of {peech, there are in Milton several words which this poet has naturalized to of his own coining, as Cerberean, give his verse the greater sound, miscreated, Hell-doom'd, embryon aand throw it out of prose, toms, and many others. If the

The third method mentioned by reader is offended at this liberty Aristotle, is what agrees with the in our English poet, I would regenius of the Greek language more commend him to a discourse in than with that of any other tongue, Plutarch, which shows us how freand is therefore more used by Ho- quently Homer has made use of mer than by any other poet. I the same liberty. mean the lengthning of a phrase Milton by the above-mentioned by the addition of words, which helps, and by the choice of the may either be inserted or omitted, noblest words and phrases which as also by the extending or con our tongue would afford him, has tracting of particular words by the carried our language to a greater insertion or omission of certain fyl- highth than any of the English lables. Milton has put in practice poets have ever done before or this method of raising his language, after him, and made the fublimity as far as the nature of our tongue of his stile equal to that of his will permit, as in the paliage above- sentiments. mentioned, eremite, for what is I have been the more particular hermite, in common discourse. If in these observations on Milton's


ftile, because it is that part of him several elifions, that are not cu in which he appears the moft fingu- ftomary among other English poets, lar. The remarks I have here as may be particularly observed in made upon the practice of other his cutting off the letter r, when poets, with my observations out of it precedes a vowel. This, and Ariftotle, will perhaps alleviate the fome other innovations in the meaprejudice which some have taken fure of his verse, has varied his to his poem upon this account; numbers, in such a manner, as tho' after all, I muft confefs, that makes them incapable of satiating I think his stíle, tho' admirable in the ear and cloying the reader, general, is in some places too much which the fame uniform measure ftiffened and obscured by the fre- would certainly have done, and quent use of those methods, which which the perpetual returns of rime Ariftotle has prescribed for the raif- never fail to do in long narrative ing of it.

poems. I fhall close these reThis redundancy of those seve- fections upon the language of Paral ways of speech which Aristotle radise Lost, with observing that calls foreign language, and with Milton has copied after Homer, which Milton has to very much rather than Virgil

, in the length of enriched, and in some places dark- his periods, the copiousness of his ned the language of his poem, was phrases, and the running of his the more proper for his use, be- verses into one another. Cause his poem is written in blank verse. Rime without any other as I HAVE now confider'd Milton's fistance, throws the language off Paradise Loft under those four great from prose, and very often makes heads of the fable, the characters, an indifferent phrase pass unre. the sentiments, and the language : garded; but where the verse is and have shown that he excels, in not built upon rimes, there pomp general, under each of these heads. of sound, and energy of expref. I hope that I have made several lon, are indispensably necessary to discoveries which may appear new, fupport the file, and keep it from even to those who are versed in falling into the flatness of profe. critical learning. Were I indeed

Those who have not a taste for to choose my readers, by whose this elevation of ftile, and are apt judgment I would tand or fall, to ridicule a poet when he goes out they should not be such as are acof the common forms of exprel- quainted only with the French and fion, would do well to see how Italian critics, but also with the anAristotle has treated an ancient au- cient and modern who have written thor, called Euclid, for his infipid in either of the learned languages. mirth upon this occasion. Mr. Dry. Above all, I would have them well den used to call this sort of men his versed in the Greek and Latin poets, prose-critics.

without which a man very often I thould, under this head of the fancies that he understands a critic, language, consider Milton's nuni- when in reality he does not com bers, in which he has made use of prehend his meaning. VÔL. I.


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tion upon it.

It is in criticism, as in all other Greek or Latin critic who has not fciences and speculations; one who shown, even in the stile of his cribrings with him any implicit no- ticisms, that he was a master of all tions and observations which he has the elegance and delicacy of his namade in his reading of the poets, tive tongue. will find his own reflections me The truth of it is, there is nothodized and explained, and per- thing more absurd than for a man haps several little hints that had to set up for a critic, without a passed in his mind, perfected and good insight into all the parts of improved in the works of a good learning; whereas many of those critic; whereas one who has not who have endevored to signalize these previous lights, is very often themfelves by works of this nature an utter stranger to what he reads, among our English writers, are not and apt to put a wrong interpreta- only defective in the abovemen

tioned particulars, but plainly difNor is it fufficient, that a man cover by the phrases which they who sets up for a judge in criti- make use of, and by their confused cism, should have perused the au- way of thinking, that they are not thors above-mentioned, unless he acquainted with the most common has also a clear and logical head. and ordinary systems of arts and Without this talent he is perpetually sciences. A few general rules expuzzled and perplexed amidit his tracted out of the French authors, own blunders, mistakes the sense of with a certain cant of words, has those he would confute, or if he sometimes set up an illiterate heavy chances to think right, does not writer for a most judicious and know how to convey his thoughts formidable critic. to another with clearness and per One great mark, by which you fpicuity. Aristotle, who was the may discover a critic who has best critic, was also one of the best neither taste nor learning, is this, logicians that ever appeared in the that he seldom ventures to praise world.

any passage in an author which Mr. Lock’s Effay on Human Un- has not been before received and derstanding would be thought a very applauded by the public, and that odd book for a man to make him his criticism turns wholly, upon felf master of, who would get a re- little faults and errors. putation by critical writings; tho of a critic is so very easy to fucat the same time it is very certain, ceed in, that we find every ordinary that an author, who has not learn- reader, upon the publishing of a ed the art of distinguishing between new poem, has wit and ill-nature words and things, and of ranging enough to turn Yeveral passages of his thoughts, and setting them in it into ridicule, and very often proper lights, whatever notions he in the right place. This Mr. Drymay have, will lose himself in con- den has very agreeably remarked fusion and obscurity. I might fur- in those two celebrated lines, ther observe, that there is not a


This part

Errors, like straws, upon the fur- but one who fhows it in an improface flow;

per place, is as impertinent and abHe who would search for pearls. surd. Besides, a man who has the muft dive below.

gift of ridicule, is apt to find fault

with any thing that gives him an ; A true critic ought to dwell ra- opportunity of exerting his beloved ther upon excellencies than imper, talent, and very often censures a fections, to discover the concealed passage, not because there is any beauties of a writer, and commu- fault in it, but because he can be nicate to the world such things as merry upon it. Such kinds of pleaare worth their observation. The fantry are very unfair and disingemost exquifite words and fineft nuous in works of criticism, in ftrokes of an author are those which the greatest masters, both which very often appear the moft ancient and modern, have always doubtful and exceptionable to a appeared with a serious and inman who wants a relish for polite structive air. learning; and they are these, which As I intend in my next paper to a four undistinguishing critic gene- show the defects in Milton's Pararally attacks with the greatest vio- dise Loft, I thought fit to premise lence. Tully observes, that it is these few particulars, to the end very easy to brand or fix a mark that the reader may know I enter upon what he calls verbum ardens, upon it, as on a very ungrateful or, as it may be rendered into Eng, work, and that I shall just point at Ith, a glowing bold expression, and the imperfections, without endeto turn it into ridicule by a cold ill. voring to inflame them with ridinatured criticism. A little wit is cule. I muft also observe with equally capable of exposing a beau- Longinus, that the productions of ty, and of aggravating a fault; a great genius, with many lapses and though such a treatment of an and inadvertencies, are infinitely author naturally produces indigna- preferable to the works of an infetion in the mind of an understand- rior kind of author, which are scruing reader, it has however its ef pulously exact and conformable to fect among the generality of those all the rules of correct writing. whose hands it falls into the I shall conclude my paper with a rabble of mankind being very apt ftory out of Boccalini, which fuffito think that every thing which is ciently shows us the opinion that laughed at with any mixture of wit, judicious author entertained of the is ridiculous in itself.

fort of critics I have been here Such a mirth as this, is always mentioning. A famous critic, says unfeasonable in a critic, as it ra- he, having gathered together all ther prejudices the reader than con- the faults of an eminent poet, made vinces him, and is capable of mak- a present of them to Apollo, who ing a beauty, as well as a blemish, received them very graciously, and the fubject of derision. A man, resolved to make the author a fuitwho cannot write with wit on a able return for the trouble he had proper subje&, is dull and stupid, been at in collecting them.



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