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fame begun. I come with him to battle, to dired his arm. His renown will be a sun to my soul, in the dark hour of my departure. Othat the name of Morni were forgot among the people ! that the heroes would only say, “ Behold the father of Gaul."
Some writers, through heat of imagination, fall into contradi&ion; some are guilty of downright absurdities; and some even rave like madmed. Against such capital errors one cannot be more effectually warned than by collecting instances; and the first shall be of a contradiction, the most venial of all. Virgil speaking of Neptune,
Interea magno misceri murmure pontuen,
Æneid, i. 128. Again :
When first young Maro, in his boundless mind,
Elay on Criticism, l. 130. The following examples are of abfurdities.
Alii pulsis e tormento catenis discerpti sectique, dimidiato corpore pugnabant fibi fuperflites, ac peremptæ partis ultores.
Strada, Dec. 2. 1. 2.
Il pover huomo, che non sen' era accorto,
He fed ; but flying, left his life behind.
Iliad, xi. 433.
Full through his neck the weighty falchion sped.
Odvley, xxii. 365.
The last article is of raving like one mad. Cleopatra speaking to the aspic,
Welcome thou kind deceiver,
Dryden, All for Love, ait 5. Reasons that are common and known to every one, ought to be taken for granted : to express them is childish, and interrupts the narration. Quintus Curtius, relating the battle of Iffus,
Jam in confpectu, fed extra teli jadum, utraque acies erat ; quum priores Persæ inconditum et trucein luftulere clamorem. Redditur et a Macedonibus major, exercitus impar numcro, sed jugis montium vaftifque faltibus repercullus : quippe femper circumjetla nemora potrceque, quantumcunque accepere vocem, multiplicato sono referunt.
Having discussed what observations occurred upon the thoughts or things expreflcu, I proceed to what more peculiarly concern the language or verbal dress. The language proper for exprefling pafîion being handled in a former chapter, several observations there made are applicable to the present fubject; particularly, That as words are intimately connected with the idcas they represent, the emotions raised by the found and by the sense ought to be concordant. An elevated subject requires an elevated style ; what is familiar, ought to be familiarly expressed: a subject that is serious and important, ought to be clothed in plain nervous language : a description on the other hand, addressed to the imagination, is susceptible of
the highest ornaments that founding words and figurative expression can bestow upon it.
I shall give a few examples of the foregoing rules. A poet of any genius is not apt to dress a high subject in low words; and yet blemishes of that kind are found even in classical works. Horace, observing that men are satisfied with themselves, but seldom with their condition, introduces Jupiter indulging to each his own choice :
sam faciam quod vultis : eris tu, qui modo miles,
Sat. lib. 1. sat. 1. l. 16.
Jupiter in wrath puffing up both cheeks, is a low and even ludicrous expression, far from suitable to the gravity and importance of the subject : every one must feel the discordance.
The following couplet, finking far below the subject, is no less ludicrous.
Not one looks backward, onward still he goes,
Ellay on Man, ep. iv. 223,
Le Rhin tremble et fremit à ces tristes nouvelles ;
Son front cicatricé rend son air furieux,
Boileau, epitre 4. 1. 61.
A god wiping his dirty beard is proper for burlesque poetry only; and altogether unsuitable to the strained elevation of this poem.
On the other hand, ro raise the expression above the tone of the subject, is a fault than which none is more common. Take the following instances :
Orcan le plus fi éle à server ses deffeins,
Bajazet, aft 3. sc. 8.
Phedra, act 1. se. 3. Afficerus. Ce mortel, qui montra tant de zéle pour moi, Vit-il encore ? Ajaph. Il voit l'astre qui vous écalire.
Efber, aft 2. fc. 3. Oui, c'est Agamemnon, c'est ton roi qui t'eveille ; Viens, reconnois la voix qui frappe ton oreille.
Iphigenie. No jocund health that Denmark drinks fo-day, But the great cannon to the clouds shall tell ; And the King's rowse the heav'ns shall bruit again, Respeaking earthly thunder. ·
Hamlet, aci 1. Jc. 2.
In the inner room
Southern, Fate of Capua, ali 3.
In the funeral orations of the Bishop of Meaux, the following passages are raised far above the tone of the subject :
L'Ocean etonné de se voir traversé tant de fois, en des appareils si divers, et pour des causes si differentes, &c.
Grande Reine, je satisfais à vos plus tendres defirs, quand je célébre ce monarque ; et son cæeur qui n'a jamais vecu que pour lui, le eveille, tout poudre qu'il est, et devient sensible, mê mesous ce drap mortuaire, au nom d'un epoux fi cher.
Montesquieu, in a didactic work, L'esprit des Loix, gives too great indulgence to imagination : the tone of his language swells frequently above his subject. I give an example:
Mr. le Comte de Boulainvilliers et Mrl' Ablé Dubos ont fait chacun un fysteme, dont l'um femble être une conjuration contre le tiers-etat, et l'autre une conjuration contre la noblesse. Lorsque le Soleil donna à Phaéton fon char à conduire, il lui dit, Si vous montez trop haut, vous brulerez la demeure céleste ; si vous descendez trop-bas, vous réduirez en cendres la terre : n'allez point trop à droite, vous tomberiez dans la constellation du serpent ; n'allez point trop à gauche, vous iriez dans celle de l'autel : tenez-vous entre les deux.
The following passage, intended, one would imagine, as a receipt to boil water, is altogether burlesque by the laboured elevation of the diction :
A massy caldron of stupendous frame
Iliad, xviii. 405.