Obrazy na stronie

"date is the shorteft, live long enough to laugh "at one half of it: the boy despises the infant, "the man the boy, the Philofopher both, and "the Christian all †.”

I fhall add to thefe examples a passage from Dr AKENSIDE, of which it may be said,

That ev'ry ftep does higher rife,

Like goodly mountains, till they reach the skies,
Or rather infinitely beyond them.


The high-born foul

Difdains to reft her heav'n-afpiring wing
Beneath its native quarry. Tir'd of earth,
And this diurnal scene, fhe fprings aloft
Thro' fields of air; purfues the flying ftorm ;
Rides on the volley'd lightning thro' the heav'ns:
Or yok'd with whirlwinds, and the northern blast,
Sweeps the long tract of day. Then high she foars
The blue profound; and, hov'ring round the fun,
Beholds him pouring his redundant ftream

Of light; beholds his unrelenting sway
Bend the reluctant planets to abfolve
The fated rounds of time. Thence far effus'd,
She darts her swiftness up the long career
Of devious comets; thro' its burning figns
Exulting measures the perennial wheel
Of nature, and looks back on all the stars,
Whose blended light, as with a milky zone,
Invests the orient. Now amaz'd fhe views
Th' empyreal waste, where happy spirits hold,
Beyond this concave heav'n, their calm abode ;

+ POPE's Letters, vol. ii. page 97. Octavo edition.


[ocr errors]

And fields of radiance, whose unfading light *
Has travell'd the profound fix thousand years,
Nor yet arrives in fight of mortal things.
Ev'n on the barriers of the world untir'd
She meditates th' eternal gulph below;
Till, half recoiling, down the headlong steep
She plunges; foon o'erwhelm'd and fwallow'd up
In that immenfe of being. There her hopes
Reft at the fated goal. For from the birth
Of mortal man, the fov'reign Maker said,
That not in humble nor in brief delight,
Not in the fading echoes of renown,
Pow'r's purple robes, nor pleasure's flow'ry lap,
The foul should find enjoyment; but from thefe,
Turning difdainful to an equal good,
Thro' all th' afcent of things enlarge her view,
Till ev'ry bound at length should disappear,
And infinite perfection close the scene t.

$5. The Climax, as it connects and dwells upon our ideas, may be the more likely to make the stronger imprefsion upon the minds of our hearers. But let it (I mean the strict and regular Climax) be used sparingly; and that for the very good reason which QUINTILIAN assigns, "because the art in forming it is fo open "and obvious ‡.”


* It was a notion of the great Mr HUYGENS, that there might be fixed ftars at such a distance from our solar system, as that their light should not have had time to reach us, even from the creation of the world to this day.

+ Pleafures of Imagination, book i. line 183.

Gradatio, quæ dicitur xλua, apertiorem habet artem-ideoque effe rarior debet. QUINTIL. lib. ix. cap. 3. § 2.

[ocr errors]

It may not be improper to observe, that we should strictly guard against every thing that has the least tendency to an Anti-Climax, or the diminution, instead of the improvement of our ideas, as they are following one another in the orderly fuccefsion which has been defcribed.

I own that in the noble poem of Mr WALLER'S upon the death of the famous CROMWELL, there is fomething like an Anti-Climax, that disgufts me in the words, part of Flanders, as they come in the rear of fome very strong and magnificent ideas.

Our dying hero from the continent
Ravish'd whole towns; and forts from Spaniards reft,
As his laft legacy to Britain left.

The ocean, which fo long our hopes confin'd,
Could give no limits to his vafter mind:
Our bounds enlargement was his latest toil,
Nor hath he left us pris'ners to our isle:
Under the tropic is our language spoke,
And part of Flanders has receiv'd our yoke.

What a want of beauty may be observed in a stanza in Dr WATTS's Imitation of the 84th Pfalm, evidently owing to an Anti-Climax?

LORD, at thy threshold I would wait,

While JESUS is within,

Rather than fill a throne of state,

Or live in tents of fin.

How much better had the stanza run, if the Author had thus formed it?



[ocr errors][ocr errors]

LORD, while my Saviour is within,
I'll at thy threshold wait,
Rather than live in tents of fin,
Or fill a throne of state.

And it is obfervable that the Doctor, in his version of the Pfalm, in a different metre, has preferved the Climax;

Might I enjoy the meaneft place
Within thy house, O GOD of grace;
Not tents of eafe, nor thrones of pow'r
Could tempt my feet to leave thy door.

Let me add a passage of Mr ADDISON'S to our purpose. "I will conclude this head, fays "he, with taking notice of a certain Figure, " which was unknown to the ancients, and in "which this Letter-writer very much excels. "This is called by fome an Anti-Climax; an in"stance of which we have in the 10th page, "where he tells us, That Britain may expect to "have this only glory left her; that he has "proved a farm to the Bank, a province to Holland, and a jeft to the whole world. I never "met with so fudden a downfal in so promis

ing a fentence. A jest to the whole world, gives fuch an unexpected turn to this happy period, that I was heartily troubled and fur"prised to meet with it. I do not remember "in all my reading to have obferved more than "two couplets of verfes that have been written in this Figure: the firft are thus quoted by "Mr DRYDEN,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


Not only London echoes with thy fame,
But alfo Iflington has heard the fame.

The other are in French,

"But we need go no further than the letter be"fore us for examples of this nature, as we may find in page the eleventh: Mankind re"mains convinced that a Queen, poffeffed of all the "virtues requifite to bless a nation, or make a pri"vate family happy, fits on the throne. Is this


Allez vous, luy dit il, fans bruit chez vos parens
Ou vous avez laiffe, votre honneur, & vos gens.



panegyric or burlesque? To fee fo glorious "a Queen celebrated in fuch a manner gives every good fubject a fecret indignation, and "looks like SCARRON's character of the great Queen SEMIRAMIS; who, Jays that Author, was "the founder of Babylon, conqueror of the Eaft, «and an excellent housewife *”

[ocr errors]

* ADDISON'S Whig-Examiner, N° 2. See his Mifcellaneous Works, vol. ii. p. 300. Octavo edition.

[blocks in formation]
« PoprzedniaDalej »