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the Holy Ghost, he most certainly cannot be saved.» These letters are in existence, and have been seen by many besides myself; but would his editor have been «< candid» in even alluding to them? Nothing would have even provoked me, an indifferent spectator, to allude to them, but this further attempt at the depreciation of Pope.
Mr Octavius Gilchrist speaks rather irreverently of a What should we say to an editor of Addison, who << second tumbler of hot white-wine negus.» What cited the following passage from Walpole's letters to does he mean? Is there any harm in negus? or is it George Montagu? << Dr Young has published a new book, the worse for being hot? or does Mr Bowles drink neetc. Mr Addison sent for the young Earl of Warwick, gus? I had a better opinion of him. I hoped that as he was dying, to show him in what peace a Christian whatever wine he drank was neat ; or at least that, like could die; unluckily he died of brandy; nothing makes the ordinary in Jonathan Wild, «he preferred punch, a Christian die in peace like being maudlin! but don't the rather as there was nothing against it in scripture.» say this in Gath, where you are.» Suppose the editor I should be sorry to believe that Mr Bowles was fond introduced it with this preface: « One circumstance is of negus; it is such a « candid» liquor, so like a wishymentioned by Horace Walpole, which, if true, was indeed washy compromise between the passion for wine and flagitious. Walpole informs Montagu that Addison sent the propriety of water. But different writers have for the young Earl of Warwick, when dying, to show divers tastes. Judge Blackstone composed his «Comhim in what peace a Christian could die; but unluckily mentaries» (he was a poet too in his youth), with a he died drunk, etc., etc.» Now, although there might bottle of port before him. Addison's conversation was occur on the subsequent, or on the same page, a faint not good for much till he had taken a similar dose. show of disbelief, seasoned with the expression of « the Perhaps the prescription of these two great men was same candour» (the same exactly as throughout the not inferior to the very different one of a soi-disant book), I should say that this editor was either foolish poet of this day, who, after wandering amongst the hills, or false to his trust; such a story ought not to have been returns, goes to bed, and dictates his verses, being fed admitted, except for one brief mark of crushing in-by a by-stander with bread and butter during the operadignation, unless it were completely proved. Why the tion. words « if true?» that « if» is not a peace-maker. Why talk of «Cibber's testimony» to his licentiousness; to what does this amount? that Pope, when very young, was once decoyed by some nobleman and the player to a house of carnal recreation. Mr Bowles was not always a clergyman; and when he was a very young man, was he never seduced into as much? If I were in the humour for story-telling, and relating little anecdotes, I could tell a much better story of Mr Bowles than Cibber's, upon much better authority, viz. that of Mr Bowles himself. It was not related by him in my presence, but in that of a third person, whom Mr Bowles names oftener than once in the course of his replies. This gentleman related it to me as a humorous and witty anecdote; and so it was, whatever its other characteristics might be. But should I, from a youthful frolic, brand Mr Bowles with a « libertine sort of love,» or with « licentiousness?» is he the less now a pious or a good man for not having always been a priest? No such thing; I am willing to believe him a good man, almost as good a man as Pope, but no better.
The truth is, that in these days the grand «primum mobile» of England is cant; cant political, cant poetical, cant religious, cant moral; but always cant, multiplied through all the varieties of life. It is the fashion, and while it lasts will be too powerful for those who can only exist by taking the tone of the time. I say cant, because it is a thing of words, without the smallest influence upon human actions; the English being no wiser, no better, and much poorer, and more divided amongst themselves, as well as far less moral, than they were before the prevalence of this verbal decorum. This hysterical horror of poor Pope's not very well ascertained, and never fully proved amours (for even Cibber owns that he prevented the somewhat perilous adventure in which Pope was embarking) sounds very virtuous in a controversial pamphlet; but all men of the world who know what life is, or at least what it was
to them in their youth, must laugh at such a ludicrous foundation of the charge of a « libertine sort of love ;» while the more serious will look upon those who bring forward such charges upon an insulated fact, as fanatics or hypocrites, perhaps both. The two are sometimes compounded in a happy mixture.
I now come to Mr Bowles's « invariable principles of poetry.» These Mr Bowles and some of his correspondents pronounce « unanswerable; » and they are « unanswered,» at least by Campbell, who seems to have been astounded by the title. The sultan of the time being, offered to ally himself to a king of France, because << he hated the word league ;» which proves that the Padishan understood French. Mr Campbell has no need of my alliance, nor shall I presume to offer it; but I do hate that word « invariable.» What is there of human, be it poetry, philosophy, wit, wisdom, science, power, glory, mind, matter, life or death, which is «invariable?» Of course I put things divine out of the question. Of all arrogant baptisms of a book, this title to a pamphlet appears the most complacently co ceited. It is Mr Campbell's part to answer the contents of this performance, and especially to vindicate his own << Ship, which Mr Bowles most triumphantly proclaims to have struck to his very first fire.
Quoth he, there was a Ship;
Now let me go, thou grey-hair'd loon,
It is no affair of mine, but having once begun (certainly not by my own wish, but called upon by the frequent recurrence to my name in the pamphlets), I am like an Irishman in a «< row,» « any body's customer.» I shall therefore say a word or two on the <«< Ship.»
Mr Bowles asserts that Campbell's « Ship of the Line,» derives all its poetry, not from «art,» but from «nature.» << Take away the waves, the winds, the sun, etc., etc. one will become a stripe of blue bunting; and the other a piece of coarse canvas on three tall poles.» Very true; take away the waves,» « the winds,» and there will be no ship at all, not only for poetical, but for any other purpose; and take away « the sun,» and we must read Mr Bowles's pamphlet by candle-light. But the «poetry» of the «Ship» does not depend on «the waves, » etc.; on the contrary, the « Ship of the Line» confers
and Turkish craft, which were obliged to «< cut and run>>
its own poetry upon the waters, and heightens theirs. I
The Euxine is a noble sea to look upon, and the port of Constantinople the most beautiful of harbours, and yet I cannot but think that the twenty sail of the line, some of one hundred and forty guns, rendered it more poetical» by day in the sun, and by night perhaps still more, for the Turks illuminate their vessels of war in a manner the most picturesque, and yet all this is artificial. As for the Euxine, I stood upon the Symplegades-I stood by the broken altar still exposed to the winds upon one of them-I felt all the «poetry» of the situation, as I repeated the first lines of Medea; but would not that «< poetry» have been heightened by the Argo? It was so even by the appearance of any merchant vessel arriving from Odessa. But Mr Bowles says,
why bring your ship off the stocks?» for no reason that I know, except that ships are built to be launched. The water,etc., undoubtedly HEIGHTENS the poetical asso ciations, but it does not make them; and the ship amply repays the obligation: they aid each other; the water is more poetical with the ship—the ship less so without the water. But even a ship, laid up in dock, is a graud and poetical sight. Even an old boat, keel up wards, wrecked upon the barren sand, is a « poetical» object (and Wordsworth, who made a poem about a washing-tub and a blind boy, may tell you so as well as I; whilst a long extent of sand and unbroken water, without the boat, would be as like dull prose as any pamphlet lately published.
What makes the poetry in the image of the « marble waste of Tadmor,»> or Grainger's « Ode to Solitude,» so much admired by Johnson? Is it the «marble,» or the waste,» the artificial or the natural object. The « waste» is like all other wastes; but the « marble» of Palmyra makes the poetry of the passage as of the place.
The beautiful but barren Hymettus, the whole coast of Attica, her hills and mountains, Pentelicus, Anchesmus, Philopappus, etc., etc., are in themselves poetical, and would be so if the name of Athens, of Athenians, and her very ruins, were swept from the earth. But am I to be told that the «< nature» of Attica would be more poetical without the «art» of the Acropolis? of the Temple of Theseus? and of the still all Greek and glorious monuments of her exquisitely artificial genius ? Ask the traveller what strikes him as most poetical, the Parthenon, or the rock on which it stands? The COLUMNS of Cape Colonna, or the Cape itself? The rocks, at the foot of it, or the recollection that Falconer's
I look upon myself as entitled to talk of naval mat-
The very Cloace of Tarquin at Rome are as poetical as Richmond Hill; many will think more so.
ship was bulged upon them. There are a thousand rocks and capes, far more picturesque than those of the Acropolis and Cape Sunium in themselves; what are they to a thousand scenes in the wilder parts of Greece, of Asia Minor, Switzerland, or even of Cintra | away Rome, and leave the Tiber and the seven hills, in in Portugal, or to many scenes of Italy, and the Sierras the nature of Evander's time; let Mr Bowles, or Mr of Spain? But it is the « art,» the columns, the tem- Wordsworth, or Mr Southey, or any of the other « natuples, the wrecked vessel, which give them their antique rals,» make a poem upon them, and then see which is and their modern poetry, and not the spots themselves. most poetical, their production, or the commonest Without them, the spots of earth would be unnoticed guide-book which tells you the road from St Peter's and unknown; buried, like Babylon and Nineveh, in to the Coliseum, and informs you what you will see indistinct confusion, without poetry, as without exist- by the way. The ground interests in Virgil, because it ence but to whatever spot of earth these ruins were will be Rome, and not because it is Evander's rural transported, if they were capable of transportation, domain. like the obelisk, and the sphinx, and the Memnon's head, there they would still exist in the perfection of their beauty and in the pride of their poetry. I opposed, and will ever oppose, the robbery of ruins from Athens, to instruct the English in sculpture; but why did I so? The ruins are as poetical in Piccadilly as they were in the Parthenon; but the Parthenon and its rock are less so without them. Such is the poetry of art.
Mr Bowles contends, again, that the pyramids of Egypt are poetical, because of the association with boundless deserts,» and that a « pyramid of the same dimensions» would not be sublime in « Lincoln's Inn Fields; not so poetical certainly; but take away the pyramids, and what is the « desert?» Take away Stone-henge from Salisbury plain, and it is nothing more than Hounslow Heath, or any other uninclosed down. It appears to me that St Peter's, the Coliseum, the Pantheon, the Palatine, the Apollo, the Laocoon, the Venus di Medicis, the Hercules, the dying Gladiator, the Moses of Michel Angelo, and all the higher works of Canova (I have already spoken of those of ancient Greece, still extant in that country, or transported to England), are as poetical as Mont Blanc or Mount Etna, perhaps still more so, as they are direct manifestations of mind, and presuppose poetry in their very conception; and have, moreover, as being such, a something of actual life, which cannot belong to any part of inanimate nature, unless we adopt the system of Spinosa, that the world is the deity. There can be nothing more poetical in its aspect than the city of Venice: does this depend upon the sea, or the canals?—
The dirt and sea-weed whence proud Venice rose!
sea, and the innumerable islands which constitute the site of this extraordinary city.
Mr Bowles then proceeds to press Homer into his service, in answer to a remark of Mr Campbell's, that « Homer was a great describer of works of art.» Mr Bowles contends that all his great power, even in this, depends upon their connexion with nature. The « shield of Achilles derives its poetical interest from the subjects described on it.»> And from what does the spear of Achilles derive its interest? and the helmet and the mail worn by Patroclus, and the celestial armour, and the very brazen greaves of the well-booted Greeks? Is it solely from the legs, and the back, and the breast, and the human body, which they inclose? In that case, it would have been more poetical to have made them fight naked; and Gulley and Gregson, as being nearer to a state of nature, are more poetical, boxing in a pair of drawers, than Hector and Achilles in radiant armour, and with heroic weapons.
Instead of the clash of helmets, and the rushing of chariots, and the whizzing of spears, and the glancing of swords, and the cleaving of shields, and the piercing of breast-plates, why not represent the Greeks and Trojans like two savage tribes, tugging and tearing, and kicking, and biting, and gnashing, foaming, grinuing, and gouging, in all the poetry of martial nature, unincumbered with gross, prosaic, artificial arms, an equal superfluity to the natural warrior, and his natural poet? Is there any thing unpoetical in Ulysses striking the horses of Rhesus with his bow (having forgotten his thong), or would Mr Bowles have had him kick them with his foot, or smack them with his hand, as being more unsophisticated?
In Gray's Elegy, is there an image more striking than his shapeless sculpture?» Of sculpture in general, it may be observed, that it is more poetical than nature itself, inasmuch as it represents and bodies forth that ideal beauty and sublimity which is never to be found in actual nature. This at least is the general opinion; but, always excepting the Venus di Medicis, I differ from that opinion, at least as far as regards female beauty, for the head of Lady Charlemont (when I first saw her, nine years ago) seemed to possess all that sculpture could require for its ideal. I recollect seeing something of the same kind in the head of an Albanian girl, who was actually employed in mending a road in the mountains, and in some Greek, and one or two Italian faces. But of sublimity, I have never seen any thing in human nature at all to approach the expression of sculpture, either in the Apollo, the Moses, or other of the sterner works of ancient or modern art.
Is it the canal which runs between the palace and the prison, or the « Bridge of Sighs» which connects them, that render it poetical? Is it the « Canal Grande,» or the Rialto which arches it, the churches which tower over it, the palaces which line, and the gondolas which glide over the waters, that render this city more poetical than Rome itself? Mr Bowles will say, perhaps, that the Rialto is but marble, the palaces and churches only stone, and the gondolas a «coarse» black cloth, thrown over some planks of carved wood, with a shining bit of fantastically-formed iron at the prow, « without the And I tell him that without these the water would be nothing but a clay-coloured ditch; and whoever says the contrary, deserves to be at the bottom of that where Pope's heroes are embraced by the mudnymphs. There would be nothing to make the canal of Venice more poetical than that of Paddington, were it not for the artificial adjuncts above mentioned, although it is a perfectly natural canal, formed by the
Let us examine a little further this «< babble of green fields,» and of bare nature in general, as superior to artificial imagery, for the poetical purposes of the fine
pare his beloved's nose to a «tower» on account of its
arts. In landscape painting, the great artist does not
Art is not inferior to nature for poetical purposes. What makes a regiment of soldiers a more noble object of view than the same mass of mob? Their arms, their dresses, their banners, and the art and artificial symmetry of their position and movements. A Highland
I have seen as many mountains as most men, and more fleets than the generality of landsmen: and to my mind, a large convoy, with a few sail of the line to conduct them, is as noble and as poetical a prospect as all that inauimate nature can produce. I prefer the « mast of some great ammiral,» with all its tackle, to the Scotch fir or the Alpine tannen: and think that more poetry has been made out of it. In what does the infinite superiority of «Falconer's Shipwreck,» over all other shipwrecks, consist? In his admirable application of the terms of his art; in a poet-sailor's description of the sailor's fate. These very terms, by his application, make the strength and reality of his poem. Why? because he was a poet, and in the hands of a poet art will not be found less ornamental than nature. It is precisely in general nature, and in stepping out of his element, that Falconer fails; where he digresses to speak of ancient Greece, and << such branches of learning.»>
of his painting is not the portrait of the sky of nature;
Of sculpture I have just spoken. It is the great scope of the sculptor to heighten nature into heroic beauty, i. e. in plain English, to surpass his model. When Canova forms a statue, he takes a limb from one, a hand from another, a feature from a third, and a shape, it may be, from a fourth, probably at the same time improving upon all, as the Greek of old did in embodying his Venus.
Ask a portrait painter to describe his agonies in accommodating the faces with which Nature and his sitters have crowded his painting-room to the principles of his art; with the exception of perhaps ten faces in as many millions, there is not one which he can venture to give without shading much and adding more. Nature, exactly, simply, barely nature, will make no great artist of any kind, and least of all a poet-the most artificial, perhaps, of all artists in his very essence. With regard to natural imagery, the poets are obliged to take some of their best illustrations from art. You say that « a fountain is as clear or clearer than glass,» to express its beauty
Thus is Nature's vesture wrought,
O fons Bandusiæ, splendidior vitro!
And here also we have the telescope, the mis-use of In the speech of Mark Antony, the body of Cæsar is which, from Milton, has rendered Mr Bowles so triumphdisplayed, but so also is his mantle:
ant over Mr Campbell:
You all do know this mantle, etc.
In Dyer's Grongar Hill, upon which his fame rests, the very appearance of Nature herself is moralised into an artificial image:
Look! in this place ran Cassius' dagger through.
So we mistake the future's face,
And here a word, en passant, to Mr Campbell:
As yon summits, soft and fair,
If the poet had said that Cassius had run his fist through
<< the comer» be poetical without his « dyed garments?» Is not this the original of the far-famed
which strike and startle the spectator, and identify the
The mother of Sisera is represented listening for the « wheels of his chariot.» Solomon, in his Soug, compares the nose of his beloved to a « tower,» which to us appears an eastern exaggeration. If he had said, that her statue was like that of a tower,» it would have been as poetical as if he had compared her to a tree.
The virtuous Marcia towers above her sex,
is an instance of an artificial image to express a moral superiority. But Solomon, it is probable, did not com
'Tis distance lends enchantment to the view,
And robes the mountain in its azure bue!
To return once more to the sea. Let any one look on the long wall of Malamocco, which curbs the Adriatic, and pronounce between the sea and its master. Surely that Roman work (I mean Roman in conception and performance), which says to the ocean, «thus far shalt thou come, and no further,» and is obeyed, is not less sublime and poetical than the angry waves which vainly break beneath it.
Mr Bowles makes the chief part of a ship's poesy depend on the « wind:» then why is a ship under sail more
poetical than a hog in a high wind? The hog is all
We are asked, « what makes the venerable towers of Westminster Abbey more poetical, as objects, than the tower for the manufactory of patent shot, surrounded by the same scenery?» I will answer-the architecture. Turn Westminster Abbey, or Saint Paul's, into a powder magazine, their poetry, as objects, remains the same; the Parthenon was actually converted into one by the Turks, during Morosini's Venetian siege, and part of it destroyed in consequence. Cromwell's dragoons stalled their steeds in Worcester cathedral; was it less poetical, as an object, than before? Ask a foreigner on his approach to London, what strikes him as the most poetical of the towers before him; he will point out St Paul's and Westminster Abbey, without, perhaps, knowing the names or associations of either, and pass over the « tower for patent shot,» not that, for any thing he knows to the contrary, it might not be the mausoleum of a monarch, or a Waterloo column, or a Trafalgar monument, but because its architecture is obviously inferior.
To the question, « whether the description of a game of cards be as poetical, supposing the execution of the artists equal, as a description of a walk in a forest?»> it may be answered, that the materials are certainly not equal; but that the artist, who has rendered the game of cards poetical,» is by far the greater of the two. But all this << ordering» of poets is purely arbitrary on the part of Mr Bowles. There may or may not be, in fact, different «orders» of poetry, but the poet is always ranked according to his execution, and not according to his branch of the art.
place him? with Dante and the others? No: but, as I have before said, the poet who executes best is the highest, whatever his department, and will ever be so rated in the world's esteem.
Were Petrarch to be ranked according to the «< order» of his compositions, where would the best of sonnets
Had Gray written nothing but his Elegy, high as he stands, I am not sure that he would not stand higher; it is the corner-stone of his glory; without it, his odes would be insufficient for his fame. The depreciation of Pope is partly founded upon a false idea of the dignity of his order of poetry, to which he has partly contributed by the ingenuous boast,
That not in fancy's maze he wander'd long,
He should have written « rose to truth.» In my mind the highest of all poetry is ethical poetry, as the highest of all earthly objects must be moral truth. Religion does not make a part of my subject; it is something beyond human powers, and has failed in all human hands except Milton's and Dante's, and even Dante's powers are involved in his delineation of human passions, though in supernatural circumstances. What made Socrates the greatest of men? His moral truthhis ethics. What proved Jesus Christ the Son of God hardly less than his miracles? His moral precepts. And if ethics have made a philosopher the first of men and have not been disdained as an adjunct to his gospel by the Deity himself, are we to be told that ethical poetry, or didactic poetry, or by whatever name you term it, whose object is to make men better and wiser, is not the very first order of poetry; and are we to be told this too by one of the priesthood? It requires more mind, more wisdom, more power, than all the <<< forests» that ever were « walked» for their a description,» and all the epics that ever were founded upon fields of battle. The Georgics are indisputably, and, 1 believe, undisputedly, even a finer poem than the Eneid. Virgil knew this; he did not order them to be burnt.
The proper study of mankind is man.
It is the fashion of the day to lay great stress upon what they call «imagination» and «< invention,» the two commonest of qualities: an Irish peasant, with a little
Tragedy is one of the highest presumed orders. Hughes has written a tragedy, and a very successful one; Fenton another; and Pope none. Did any man, how-whiskey in his head, will imagine and invent more ever, will even Mr Bowles, himself rank Hughes and than would furnish forth a modern poem. If Lucretius Fenton as poets above Pope? Was even Addison (the had not been spoiled by the Epicurean system, we author of Cato), or Rowe (one of the higher order of should have had a far superior poem to any now in dramatists, as far as success goes), or Young, or even existence. As mere poetry, it is the first of Latin Otway and Southerne, ever raised for a moment to the poems. What then has ruined it? His ethics. Pope same rank with Pope in the estimation of the reader has not this defect; his moral is as pure as his poetry or the critic, before his death or since? If Mr Bowles will is glorious. In speaking of artificial objects, I have contend for classifications of this kind, let him recollect omitted to touch upon one which I will now mention. that descriptive poetry has been ranked as among the Cannon may be presumed to be as highly poetical as lowest branches of the art, and description as a mere or- art can make her objects. Mr Bowles will, perhaps, nament, but which should never form «< the subject» of tell me that this is because they resemble that grand a poem. The Italians, with the most poetical language, natural article of sound in heaven, and simile upon and the most fastidious taste in Europe, possess now five carth-thunder. I shall be told triumphantly, that great poets, they say, Dante, Petrarch, Ariosto, Tasso, Milton made sad work with his artillery, when he armed and lastly Alfieri; and whom do they esteem one of the his devils therewithal. He did so; and this artificial highest of these, and some of them the very highest? object must have had much of the sublime to attract Petrarch, the sonneteer it is true that some of his his attention for such a conflict. He has made an Canzoni are not less esteemed, but not more; who ever absurd use of it; but the absurdity consists not in dreams of his Latin Africa! using cannon against the angels of God, but any material weapon. The thunder of the clouds would have been as ridiculous and vain in the hands of the