Page images
[ocr errors]

mer's advantages, that he wrote before general terms were multiplied: the superior genius of Shakespear displays itself in avoiding them after they were multiplied." Addison describes the family of Sir Roger de Coverley in the following words :

You would take his valet de chambre for his brother, his butler is grey-headed, his groom is one of the gravest men that I have ever seen, and his coachman has the looks of privy councellor.

Spectator, No. 106. The description of the groom is less lively than of the others; plainly because the expression being vague and general, tends not to form any image. “Dives opuin variarum, *" is an expression still more vague ; and so are the following ;


-Mæcenas, mearum
Grande decus, columenque rerum.

Horat. Carm. lib. 2. ode 17.

et fide Teia Dices laborantes in uno Penelopen, vitreamque Circen.

Ibid. lib. 1. ode 17.

Ridiculum acri
Fortius et melius magnas plerumque fecat res.

Horat. Satir. lib. 1. sat. 10.

In the fine arts it is a rule, to put the capital ob. jects in the strongest point of view; and even to prefent them oftener than once, where it can be done. In hiftory-painting, the principal figure is placed in the front, and in the best light: an equestrian statue is placed in a centre of streets, .that it may be seen from many places at once. In no compofition is there greater opportunity for this rule than in writing:


*Georg. 2. 468.

-Sequitur pulcherrimus Aftur, Aftur equo fidens et verlicoloribus armis.

Æneid, x. 180.

Full many a lady
I've ey'd with best regard, and many a time;
Th' harmony of their tongues hath into bondage
Brought my too diligent ear; for several virtues
Have I lik'd several women, never any
With so full soul, but some detect in her
Did quarrel with the noblest grace Mie ow'd,
And put it to the foil.

But you, O you,
So pertect, and fo peerleis, are created
Of every creature's best.

The Tempeft, att 3. fc. s.


Whate’er you are
That in this desart inaccessible,
Under the shade of melancholy boughs,
Lofe and neglect the creeping hours of time;
If ever you have look'd on better days ;
If ever been where bells have knoll'd to church ;
If ever fat at any good man's feast;
If ever from your cye-lids wip'd a tear,
And know what 'tis to pity and be pity'd ;
Let gentleness my strong enforcement be,
In the which hope I bluth and hide niy sword,

Duke fen. True is it that we have seen better days;
And have with holy bell been knollid to church;
And lat at good mens feats; and wip'd our eyes
Of drops that facred pity had engender'd :
And therefore if you down, in gentleness,
And take upon command what help we have,
That to your wenţirig may be ministred.

As you like it.

With thee converfing I forget all time;
All seasons and their change, all please alike.
Sweet is the breath of morn, her rising sweet,

With charm of earliest birds ; pleasant the sun
When first on this delightful land he spreads
His orient beams, on herbs, tree, fruit, and flow's,
Glift'ring with dew ; fragrant the fertile earth
After soft showers ; and sweet the coming on
Of grateful evening mild, the filent night
With this her folemn bird, and this fair moon,
And these the gems of heav'n, her starry train.
But neither breath of morn, when the ascends
With charın of earliest birds, nor rising fun
On this delightful land, nor herb, fruit, flow'r,
Glistering with dew, nor fragrance after thowers,
Nor grateful evening mild, nor filent night,
With this her folemn bird, nor walk by moon
Or glittering Itar light, without thee is sweet.

Paradise Laft, b. 4. I. 634.


What mean ye, that ye use this proverb, The fathers have eaten four grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge ?" As I live, faith the Lord God, ye shall not have occafion to use this proverb in Ifrael. If a man keep my judgments to deal truly, he is just, he thall surely live. But if he be a robber, a shedder of blood ; if he have eaten upon the mountains, and defiled his neighbour's wife; if he have oppressed the poor and needy, have spoiled by violence, have not restored the pledge, have lift up eyes to idols, have given forth upon usury, and have iaken in, crease : thall he live ? he shall not live : he thall surely die : and his blood shall be upon him. Now, lo, if he beget a son, that seeth all his father's fins, and confidereth, and doeth not such like ; that hath not eaten upon the mountains, hath not lift up his eyes to idols, nor defiled his neighbour's wife, hath not oppressed any, nor withheld the pledge, neither hath spoiled by violence, but haih given his bread to the hungry; and covered the naked with a garment ; that hath not receivedusury nor increase, that hath executed my judgments, and walked in my itatutes ; he ihall not die for the iniquity of his father ; he ihall surely live. The soul that sinneth, it shall die; the fon shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither thall thic father bear the iniquity of the son ; the righteousnets of the righteous Thall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wickid thall


be upon him. Have I any pleasure that the wicked should die, faith the Lord God; and not that he should return from his ways and lives

Ezekiel, xvii.

The repetitions in Homer, which are frequent, have been the occasion of much criticism. Suppose we were at a loss about the reason, might not tastę be sufficient to justify them ? At the same time, we are at no loss about the reason : they evidently make the narration dramatic, and have an air of truth, by making things appear as palling in our sight. But such repetitions are unpardonable in a didactic poem. In one of Hefiod's poems of that kind, a long pallage occurs twice in the same chapter.

A concise comprehensive style is a great ornament in narration; and a superfluity of unnecessary words, no less than of .circumstances, a great nuisance: A judicious selection of the striking circumstances clothed in a nervous style, is delightful. In this style, Tacitus excels all writers, ancient and mod.

Instances are numberless : take the following specimen.

Crebra hinc prælia, et fæpius in modum latrocinii: per faltus, per paludes ; lit cuique fors aut virtus : temere, proviso, ob iram, ob prædam, julla, et aliquando ignaris ducibus.

Annal. lib. 12. & 39. After Tacitusg olyan in that respect justly merits the place of distinction. One cannot go wrong for examples in any part of the book ; and at the first opening the following instance meets the eye :

Nathos clothed his limbs in fhining steel. The stride of the chiei is lovely : the joy of his eye terrible. The wind ruftles in his hair. Darthnla is filent at his fide : her look is fixed on the chict. Striving to hide the riling figh, two tears fweil in her eyes.

I add one other instance, which, beside the property under consideration, raises delicately our most tender sympathy.

Son of Fingal ! doft thou not behold the darkness of Crothar's hail of shells? My soul was not dark at the teast, when my people lived. I rejoiced in the presence of ftrangers, when my son fhone in the hall. But, Ollian, he is a beam that is departed, and left no streak of light behind. He is fallen, son of Fingal, in the battles of his father.--- ---Rothmar, the chief of grally Tromlo, heard that my eyes had failed; he heard that my arms were fixed in the hall, and the pride of his foul arose. He came towards Croma : my people tell before him. I took my arms in the hall, but what could fightless Crothar do? My steps were unequal; my grief was great. I wished for the days that were paft: days ! wherein I fought, and won in the field of blood. My son returned from the chace; the fair-haired Fovar-gormo. He had not lifted his sword in battle, for his arm was young. But the soul of the youth was great ; the fire of valour burnt in his eye. He saw the disordered steps of his father, and his tigh arose. King of Croma, he said, is it because thou hast no son ? is it for the weakness of Fovar-gormo's arm that thy fighs arife : I begin, my father, to feel the strength of my arm; I have drawn the sword of my youth, and I have bent the bow. Let me meet this Rothmar, with the youths of Croma : let me meet him, O my father, for I feel my burning foul.

And thou shalt meet him, I said, son of the lightless Crothar! but let others advance before thee, that I

may hear the uead of thy feet at thy return; for my eyes behold thee iron, fair-haired Fovar-gormo-Ile went ; he met the foc ; he tell. The the advaoces towards Cro

He who few my son is ntar, viti all his pointed spears.

If a concise or nervous style be a beauty, tautology must be a blemilh ; and yet writers, fettered by verte, are not sufficiently careful to avoid this flovenly practice : they may be pitied, but they cannot be juftified. Také for a specimen the following initances,



« PreviousContinue »