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OF LYRIC POETRY.
OF THE HEBREW ODE IN GENERAL; AND FIRST OF THAT CLASS, THE
CHARACTERISTICS OF WHICH ARE SWEETNESS AND ELEGANCE.
Lyric Poetry originated from the most jocund and pleasing affections of
the human mind— The most ancient species of Poetry, and almost coeval with human nature itself— Particularly cultivated by the HebrewsThe manner, introduced by David, of singing their Odes highly magnificent- The general character of this species of Poetry: its principal distinctions—The first character of the Ode, sweetness—What passions and affections it is intended to express : examples from the PsalmsThe 133d Psalm in English verse, wman
THE INTERMEDIATE OR MIXED STYLE OF THE HEBREW ODE.
The Lyric Poetry of the intermediate or mixed style consists of an union
of sweetness and sublimity—The 91st and 81st Psalms explained and critically illustrated-Of the digressions of the Hebrew Poets, also of Pindar; not upon the same principle-A criticism upon the 77th Psalm - The 19th Psalm in English versé, mawowotnoon
OF THE SUBLIME STYLE OF THE HEBREW ODE.
The third species of the Hebrew Ode, the characteristic of which is Sub
limity—This sublimity results from three sources: From the general form and arrangement of the Poem, exemplified in the 50th and 24th Psalms; from the greatness of the sentiments, and the force of the language - The Ode of Moses on passing the Red Sea explained and illustrated — The brevity of the Hebrew style—The 29th Psalm in English verse, wooncora
THE SUBLIME STYLE OF THE HEBREW ODE.
The Sublime Ode, in which all the constituents of sublimity formerly spe
cified are united— The prophetic Ode of Moses, Deut. xxxii. — The triumphal Ode of Deborah; the Prayer of Habakkuk; the Fate of Tyranny, being a poetical imitation of the 14th chapter of Isaiah,...... 309
OF THE IDYLLIUM OR HYMN.
OF THE IDYLLIUM OF THE HEBREWS.
Besides those Poems which may be strictly termed Odes, the general
appellation, which in the Hebrew is equivalent to Canticle or Song, includes another species, called by the Greeks the Idyllium-The reason of this name, and the definition of the poem to which it is appropriated
- The historical Psalms in general belong properly to this class— The intercalary stanza, and the nature of it— The elegant plan and arrangement of the 107th Psalm explained; also the 9th chapter of Isaiah, ver. 8. to chap. x. ver. 4.—This passage a perfect specimen of the Idyllium : other examples of the Idyllium no less perfect as to style and form— The Hymn of Cleanthes the stoic commended— The 139th Psalm in English verse, como
OF DRAMATIC POETRY.
THE SONG OF SOLOMON NOT A REGULAR DRAMA.
The Platonic division of Poetry into the narrative, dramatic, and mixed
kinds, of little use; but deserves to be noticed on this occasion, as leading to an accurate definition of Dramatic Poetry, and clearing up the ambiguity in which the term has been involved by the moderns-- Two species pointed out: the lesser, which possesses only the form of dialogue, without the personal intervention of the Poet; and the greater, which contains a plot or fable-— There are extant some instances of the former in the writings of the Hebrews; but none of their productions seem to have the least title to the latter character, two perhaps excepted; the Song of Solomon, and the Book of Job-Inquiry, whether the Song of Solomon contain a complete plot or fable— It is an Epithalamium: the characters which are represented in it: the Poem founded upon the nuptial rites of the Hebrews—The opinion of Bossuet cited and explained; namely, that this poem is a representation of the seven days of festival which succeeded the marriage, and consequently consists of seven parts or divisions—This opinion the most favourable of all to those who account this Poem a regular Drama: it however does not prove that it contains a complete plot or fable-Definition of the dramatic fable
-Nothing like it in the Song of Solomon: it is therefore not a perfect Drama, but is of the lesser class of Dramatic Poems—The chorus of Virgins bears a great analogy to the chorus of the Greek Tragedies; but could not serve as a model for them,
OF THE SUBJECT AND STYLE OF SOLOMON's song.
literal or allegorical sense; the allegorical sense defended upon the
OF THE POEM OF JOB.
auditors, the critic must explain his own sentiments concerning the work
... Page 352 LECTURE XXXIII.
THE POEM OF JOB NOT A PERFECT DRAMA. The Poem of Job commonly accounted Dramatic; and thought by many to be of the same kind with the Greek Tragedy: this opinion examined --A plot or fable essential to a regular Drama : its definition and essential qualities according to Aristotle-Demonstrated, that the Poem of Job does not contain any plot; its form and design more fully explainedCompared with the Edipus Tyrannus of Sophocles; with the (Edipus Coloneus; and shewn to differ entirely from both in form and manner
-It is nevertheless a most beautiful and perfect performance in its kind: it approaches very near the form of a perfect Drama; and, for regularity in form and arrangement, justly claims the first place among the poetical compositions of the Hebrews, www
OF THE MANNERS, SENTIMENTS, AND STYLE OF THE POEM OF JOB.
Though the Poem of Joh do not contain a plot or fable, it possesses, never
theless, some things in common with the perfect Draina-MANNERS or character-The manners of Job; to be distinguished from the passions or emotions-The opinion of Aristotle, that the character of extreme virtue is not proper for Tragedy, demonstrated to be neither applicable to Job, nor ttue with respect to Tragedy in general—The design of the Poem-The manners of the three Friends; the gradations of passion more strongly marked in them than the diversity of manners-ElihuThe expostulation of God himself-SENTIMENTS; expressive of things and of manners: the latter already noticed; the former consist partly of passion, partly of description : two examples of the softer passions ; examples of description- The STYLE of this Poem uncommonly elegant and sublime ; and the poetic conformation of the sentences extremely correct- Peroration, recommending the study of Hebrew literature, 379
A Brief Confutation of Bishop Hare's System of Hebrew Metre,
OF THE USES AND DESIGN OF POETRY.
The purpose of Poetry is to instruct while it gives pleasure ;
instruction being the end, and pleasure the means—Illustrated by examples from the different species of PoetryThe Didactic— The Epic— Tragic— Lyric—the lighter kinds of Poetry, which are calculated as well for the amusement of our leisure, as for the ornament and improvement of literature-Sacred Poetry; whence a transition to the
immediate object of these Lectures. Though our present meeting be, on some accounts, rather earlier than I could have wished, * yet I cheerfully embrace
* The Prælector of Poetry at Oxford is obliged by the statute to read his inaugural lecture the first Tuesday in the Term subsequent to his election ; and it appears by the University Register, that Mr Lowth was elected to the Professorship on the 21st of May 1741, in the vacation between Easter and Act Term. As this vacation is only thirteen days, commencing the Thursday before Whitsunday, and ending the Wednesday after Trinity Sunday, the longest interval that could possibly happen between his election and his first lecture is somewhat less than three weeks; it might probably be much shorter. Even in his youth Bishop Lowth was distinguished by the cautious accuracy of his judgment; he therefore very properly introduces a plan, upon which he was to work for ten years, (the usual term of the professorship), with much
the opportunity which it affords me of assuring you, Gentlemen, that to this undertaking (whether considered as a duty imposed, or as a favour conferred upon me) I bring, if no other accomplishment, at least industry and inclination. I could, indeed, more patiently bear to be accused of wanting genius, fluency, or elegance, than of wanting diligence in the exercise of that office to which your authority has called me, or gratitude in the acceptance of that favour, which (whatever it be in itself) is undoubtedly great, since conferred on me by you. For to judge rightly of obligations of this kind, regard must be had not only to the favour itself, but to the persons who confer it, and to the person on whom it is conferred. When, therefore, I reflect, that the station to which I am invited, has been adorned by men of the first rank in genius and learning; when I regard you, whose favour can add dignity to the most respectable characters; when, in fine, I consider myself, who could never have expected or hoped from my own merits for any public testimony of your approbation; I receive this appointment as an honour, for which the utmost exertions of labour and assiduity will be but a very inadequate return. This part of my duty, however, though feebly and imperfectly, I would wish you
to believe I most willingly perform : for to an ingenuous mind nothing can be more agreeable than the expression, or even the sense of gratitude; and the remembrance of the obligation will rather stimulate than depress. Other considerations have, I must confess, rendered me not a little solicitous: I am appointed to superintend a particular department of science, which you have constantly distinguished by your presence and attention; and a subject is to be discussed, which not only you have judged worthy of your cultivation, and the public countenance of the University, but which has hitherto received in this place all the embellishments of grace and elegance of which it is naturally susceptible. Should it, therefore, fall into neglect or disrepute hereafter, I fear that I shall be compelled to acmodesty and reserve ; and when he speaks of meeting his constituents rather early (paulo maturius), he must be understood as regretting the little time which by the statute was allowed him to prepare his introductory address. This fact will serve also to explain some passages towards the conclusion of the lecture.
For the substance of this note I am indebted to a very intelligent friend at Oxford, and am happy in this opportunity of returning my best acknowledgments. -T.