Obrazy na stronie

publication, were made my acquaintances at their own desire, or through the unsought intervention of others: I never, to the best of my knowledge, sought a personal introduction to any. Some of them to this day I know only by correspondence; and with one of those it was begun by myself, in consequence, however, of a polite verbal communication from a third person.

I have dwelt for an instant on these circumstances, because it has sometimes been made a subject of bitter reproach to me, to have endeavoured to suppress that satire. I never shrunk, as those who know me know, from any personal consequences which could be attached to its publication. Of its subsequent suppression, as I possessed the copyright, I was the best judge and the sole master. The circumstances which occasioned the suppression I have now stated; of the motives, each must judge according to his candour or malignity. Mr Bowles does me the honour to talk of « noble mind,» and << generous magnanimity;» and all this because « the circumstance would have been explained had not the book been suppressed.» I see no « nobility of mind» in an act of simple justice; and I hate the word « magnanimity,» because I have sometimes seen it applied to the grossest of impostors by the greatest of

fools; but I would have « explained the circumstance,»> notwithstanding « the suppression of the book,» if Mr Bowles had expressed any desire that I should. As the << gallant Galbraith» says to « Bailie Jarvie,» « Well, the devil take the mistake and all that occasioned it.»> I have had as great and greater mistakes made about me personally and poetically, once a month for these last ten years, and never cared very much about correcting one or the other, at least after the first eight-and-forty hours had gone over them.

I must now, however, say a word or two about Pope, of whom you have my opinion more at large in the unpublished letter on or to (for I forget which) the editor of « Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine ;» and here I doubt that Mr Bowles will not approve of my sentiments.

Although I regret having published « English Bards and Scotch Reviewers,» the part which I regret the least is that which regards Mr Bowles with reference to Pope. Whilst I was writing that publication, in 1807 and 1808, Mr Hobhouse was desirous that I should express our mutual opinion of Pope, and of Mr Bowles's edition of his works. As I had completed my outline, and felt lazy, I requested that he would do so. He did it. His fourteen lines on Bowles's Pope are in the first edition of << English Bards and Scotch Reviewers ;» and are quite as severe and much more poetical than my own in the second. On reprinting the work, as I put my name to it, I omitted Mr Hobhouse's lines, and replaced them with my own, by which the work gained less than Mr Bowles. I have stated this in the preface to the second edition. It is many years since I have read that poem; but the Quarterly Review, Mr Octavius Gilchrist, and Mr Bowles himself, have been so obliging as to refresh my memory, and that of the public. I am grieved to say, that in reading over those lines, I repent of their having so far fallen short of what I meant to express upon the subject of Bowles's edition of Pope's Works. Mr Bowles says that « Lord Byron knows he does not deserve this character.» I know no such thing. I have met Mr Bowles occasionally, in the best society in London; he appeared to me an amiable, well-informed, and extremely able man. I desire nothing better than to dine in company with such a mannered man every

day in the week: but of «< his character» I know nothing personally; I can only speak to his manners, and these have my warmest approbation. But I never judge from manners, for I once had my pocket picked by the civilest gentleman I ever met with; and one of the mildest persons I ever saw was Ali Pacha. Of Mr Bowles's « character,» I will not do him the injustice to judge from the edition of Pope, if he prepared it heedlessly; nor the justice, should it be otherwise, because I would neither become a literary executioner, nor a personal one. Mr Bowles the individual, and Mr Bowles the editor, appear the two most opposite things imaginable;

And he himself one antithesis.

I won't say « vile,»> because it is harsh; nor «< mistaken,»> because it has two syllables too many; but every one must fill up the blank as he pleases.

What I saw of Mr Bowles increased my surprise and regret that he should ever have lent his talents to such a task. If he had been a fool, there would have been some excuse for him; if he had been a needy or a bad is the opposite of all these; and thinking and feeling as man, his conduct would have been intelligible; but he do of Pope, to me the whole thing is unaccountable. However, I must call things by their right names. cannot call his edition of Pope a « candid» work; and I still think that there is an affectation of that quality, not only in those volumes, but in the pamphlets lately published.

[ocr errors]

Why yet he doth deny his prisoners!


Mr Bowles says, that he « has seen passages in his letters to Martha Blount, which were never published by me, and I hope never will be by others; which are so gross as to imply the grossest licentiousness.» Is this fair play? It may, or it may not be that such passages exist ; and that Pope, who was not a monk, although a catholic, may have occasionally sinned in word and in deed with woman in his youth; but is this a sufficient ground for such a sweeping denunciation? Where is the unmarried Englishman of a certain rank of life, who (provided he has not taken orders) has not to reproach himself between the ages of sixteen and thirty with far more licentiousness than has ever yet been traced to Pope? Pope lived in the public eye from his youth upwards; he had all the dunces of his own time for his enemies, and, I am sorry to say, some, who have not the apology of dulness for detraction, since his death: and yet to what do all their accumulated hints and charges amount?—to an equivocal liaison with Martha Blount, which might arise as much from his infirmities as from his passions; to a hopeless flirtation with Lady Mary W. Montagu; to a story of Cibber's; and to two or three coarse passages in his works. Who could come forth clearer from an invidious inquest, on a life of fiftysix years? Why are we to be officiously reminded of such passages in his letters, provided that they exist. Is Mr Bowies aware to what such rummaging among <«< letters» and «< stories» might lead? I have myself seen a collection of letters of another eminent, nay, preeminent, deceased poet, so abominably gross, and elaborately coarse, that I do not believe that they could be paralleled in our language. What is more strange, is, that some of these are couched as postscripts to his serious and sentimental letters, to which are tacked either a piece of prose, or some verses, of the most hyperbolical indecency. He himself says, that if «obscenity (using a much coarser word) be the sin against

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.

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.

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 words «< if true?» that « if» is not a peace-maker. Why I now come to Mr Bowles's « invariable principles of talk of a Cibber's testimony» to his licentiousness; to poetry. These Mr Bowles and some of his correspondwhat does this amount? that Pope, when very young,ents pronounce «< unanswerable; » and they are « unanwas once decoyed by some nobleman and the player to swered,» at least by Campbell, who seems to have been a house of carnal recreation. Mr Bowles was not always astounded by the title. The sultan of the time being, a clergyman; and when he was a very young man, was offered to ally himself to a king of France, because he never seduced into as much? If I were in the humour « he hated the word league ;» which proves that the for story-telling, and relating little anecdotes, I could Padishan understood French. Mr Campbell has no tell a much better story of Mr Bowles than Cibber's, up-need of my alliance, nor shall I presume to offer it; on 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



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 conceited. 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,
Or my staff shall make thee skip.

I shall

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.»
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

[merged small][ocr errors]

and Turkish craft, which were obliged to «< cut and run>>
before the wind, from their unsafe anchorage, some for
Tenedos, some for other isles, some for the main, and
some it might be for eternity. The sight of these little
scudding vessels, darting over the foam in the twilight,
now appearing and now disappearing between the waves
in the cloud of night, with their peculiarly white sails
(the Levant sails not being of « coarse canvas», but of
white cotton), skimming along as quickly, but less safely
than the sea-mews which hovered over them; their
evident distress, their reduction to fluttering specks in
the distance, their crowded succession, their littleness,
as contending with the giant element, which made our
stout forty-four's teak timbers (she was built in India)
creak again; their aspect and their motion, all struck

its own poetry upon the waters, and heightens theirs. I
do not deny, that the « waves and winds,» and above
all << the sun, »> are highly poetical; we know it to our
cost, by the many descriptions of them in verse: but
if the waves hore only the foam upon their bosoms, if
the winds wafted only the sea-weed to the shore, if the
sun shone neither upon pyramids, nor fleets, nor for-
tresses, would its beams be equally poetical? I think
not: the poetry is at least reciprocal. Take away « the
ship of the line» « swinging round» the « calm water,»
and the calm water becomes a somewhat monotonous
thing to look at, particularly if not transparently clear;
witness the thousands who pass by without looking on
it at all. What was it attracted the thousands to the
launch? they might have seen the poetical «calm water,»>
at Wapping, or in the « London Dock,» or in the Pad-me as something far more «< poetical» than the mere
dington Canal, or in a horse-pond, or in a slop-basin, or broad, brawling, shipless sea, and the sullen winds,
in any other vase. They might have heard the poetical could possibly have been without them.
winds howling through the chinks of a pig-stye, or the
garret-window; they might have seen the sun shining
on a footman's livery, or on a brass warming-pan; but
could the « calm water,» or the « wind,» or the << sun,»>
make all, or any of these « poetical?» I think not.
Mr Bowles admits the ship» to be poetical, but only
from those accessaries: now if they confer poetry so as
to make one thing poetical, they would make other
things poetical; the more so, as Mr Bowles calls a «ship
of the line without them, that is to say, its « masts and
sails and streamers,» « blue bunting,» and « coarse can-
vas,» and «< tall poles.» So they are; and porcelain is
clay, and man is dust, and flesh is grass, and yet the
two latter at least are the subjects of much poesy.
Did Mr Bowles ever gaze upon the sea? I presume
that he has, at least upon a sea-piece. Did any painter
ever paint the sea only, without the addition of a ship,
boat, wreck, or some such adjunct? Is the sea itself a
more attractive, a more moral, a more poetical object
with or without a vessel, breaking its vast but fatiguing
monotony! Is a storm more poetical without a ship?
or, in the poem of the Shipwreck, is it the storm or the
ship which most interests? both much undoubtedly; but
without the vessel, what should we care for the tempest?
It would sink into mere descriptive poetry, which in
itself was never esteemed a high order of that art.

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-
ters, at least to poets-with the exception of Walter
Scott, Moore, and Southey, perhaps (who have been
voyagers), I have swam more miles than all the rest of
them together now living ever sailed, and have lived
for months and months on ship-board; and during the
whole period of my life abroad, have scarcely ever passed
a month out of sight of the ocean: besides being brought |
up from two years till ten on the brink of it. I recol-
lect, when anchored off Cape Sigæum, in 1810, in an
English frigate, a violent squall coming on at sunset, so
violent as to make us imagine that the ship would part
cable, or drive from her anchorage. Mr Hobhouse and
myself, and some officers, had been up the Dardanelles
to Abydos, and were just returned in time. The aspect
of a storm in the Archipelago is as poetical as need be,
the sea being particularly short, dashing, and dangerous,
and the navigation intricate and broken by the isles and
currents. Cape Sigæum, the tumuli of the Troad, Lem-
nos, Tenedos, all added to the associations of the time.
But what seemed the most « poetical» of all at the mo-
ment, were the numbers (about two hundred) of Greek


[ocr errors]

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!

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


[ocr errors]

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.

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

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

pare his beloved's nose to a «tower» on account of its
length, but of its symmetry; and, making allowance for
eastern hyperbole and the difficulty of finding a discreet
image for a female nose in nature, it is perhaps as good
a figure as any other.

arts. In landscape painting, the great artist does not
give you a literal copy of a country, but he invents and
composes one. Nature, in her actual aspect, does not
furnish him with such existing scenes as he requires.
Even where he presents you with some famous city, or
celebrated scene from mountain or other nature, it
must be taken from some particular point of view, and
with such light, and shade, and distance, etc. as serve
not only to heighten its beauties, but to shadow its de-
formities. The poetry of nature alone, exactly as she
appears, is not sufficient to bear him out. The very skyer's plaid, a Mussulman's turban, and a Roman toga,
are more poetical than the tattoed or untattoed but-
tocks of a New Sandwich savage, although they were
described by William Wordsworth himself like the
« idiot in his glory.»>

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;
it is a composition of different skies, observed at diffe-
rent times, and not the whole copied from any particu-
lar day. And why? Because Nature is not lavish of
her beauties; they are widely scattered, and occasionally
displayed, to be selected with care, and gathered with

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,
To instruct our wandering thought;
Thus she dresses green and gay,
To disperse our cares away.

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,
Eyed through Hope's deluding glass.

And here a word, en passant, to Mr Campbell:

As yon summits, soft and fair,
Clad in colours of the air,
Which, to those who journey near,
Barren, brown, and rough appear,
Still we tread the same coarse way-
The present's still a cloudy day.

If the poet had said that Cassius had run his fist through
the rent of the mantle, it would have had more of Mr
Bowles's << nature» to help it; but the artificial dagger is
more poetical than any natural hand without it. In the
sublime of sacred poetry, « Who is this that cometh
from Edom? with dyed garments from Bozrah ?» Would

<< 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
approaching object.

The mother of Sisera is represented listening for the
« wheels of his chariot.» Solomon, in his Soug, com-
pares 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

« PoprzedniaDalej »