« AnteriorContinuar »
thus powerful the expression communicated to them by a judicious application of the different poetical feet. The nature of the poetical pauses, the caesural, demicaesural, and final having been already explained in lecture 6th, it cannot be necessary here to repeat them; suffice it to say, that to form lines of the first melody, the caesura must be at the end of the second, or of the third foot, or in the middle of the third; that the final and caesural pauses constitute in a great measure not only the melody but the harmony of verses, because the beauty of proportion in the members, according to these divisions, is founded in nature.
When men express their sentiments by words they naturally fall into that sort of movement of the voice which is consonant to that produced by the emotion in the mind; and the dactylic or anapaestic, the trochaic, iambic or spondaic prevails, even in common discourse, according to the different nature of the sentiments expressed. To imitate nature therefore the poet in arranging his words, in the artificial composition of verse, must take care to make the movement correspond to the sentiment, by the proper use of the several kinds of feet: and this is the first and most general source of expression in numbers. This is abundantly exemplified in the preceding ode of Dryden, in which the stanzas are composed in iambic, trochaic, or anapaestic verse, according to the subject expressed. As also in this line of Milton, in which the vast dimensions of Satan are shown by an uncommon succession of long syllables, which seem to detain us to survey the huge arch fiend, in his fixed posture.
"S5 stretch'd out huge In length the arch fiend lay."
The three great objects of poetical numbers, or the advantages to be obtained by restricting composition to the laws of versification, are melody, harmony, and expression. By the first is meant a pleasing effect produced on the ear by an apt arrangement of the constituent parts of verse according to the laws of measure and movement. Melody with respect to music is produced by a single instrument, and is always pleasing, if the notes sounded arc so judiciously arranged as to be expressive of the sentiment intended tobe conveyed. Thus notes judiciously arranged in aflat key are expressive of sorrowful and plaintive emotions. Those in a sharp, of gay and lively. By harmony is meant an effect produced by an action of the mind in comparing the different members of a verse with each other and perceiving a due and beautiful proportion between them. Melody may be produced by one instrument; but harmony implies a combination of agreeable sounds: and as this is the case in music, so it is in the construction and reading of verse, where the lines; whether in blank verse or rhyme, are discovered by the hearer to possess the same length or number of feet. By expression is meant such a choice and arrangement of the constituent parts of verse as serve to illustrate and enforce the thought or the sentiment of the writer. This is exemplified by Milton in the beginning of his Allegro.
Hence loathed Melancholy,
'Mongst horrid shapes, and shrieks, and sights unholy,
In dark Cimmerian desert ever dwell.
But come, thou goddess fair and free,
In heaven y'clept Euphrosyne,
And by men, heart-easing Mirth,
Whom lovely Venus at a birth ■
With two sister Graces more ^
To ivy-crowned Bacchus bore.
Haste thee, nymph! and bring with thee
Jest and youthful Jollity,
Quips, and Cranks, and wanton Wiles,
Nods, and Becks, and wreathed Smiles,
Such as hang on Hebe's cheek
And love to live in dimple sleek;
Sport, that wrinkled Care derides,
And Laughter holding both his sides."
Where these poetical pauses, and these essential principles of verse, viz. melody, harmony, and expression are attended to and produced, there the influence of poetic numbers must be irresistibly pleasing and powerful.
NATURALHISTORY—FOR THE PORT FOLIO.
.1 short account of the cataract of Tequendama, three degrees north of the line, near to the city of Santa Ft de Bogota, kingdom of . Yew Grenada.
Having conversed a considerable time with a Mexicaii(gcn-tleman relative to the Cataract of Niagara, which he visited in August of last year; he entirely agreed with me that it is an object truly worthy of being seen. That the fatigues of the journey were amply recompensed by a view of the romantic beauties of the shores of the Mohawk river; by the lively and cheering sight of numerous new towns, and villages, that have arisen, as if by magic, on grounds, that but a few years ago were scarcely pressed, but by the feet of the wandering aborigine; by the expanded lakesthat frequently meet the eye like mirrors beaming in the midday sun; bythe unexampled torrentofthe river Niagara itself, which rushes, whirls, and tumbles over the rocks for the space of half a mile, before it precipitates itself into the unfathomable gulf below; and, lastly, by the stupendous prospect of such an immense body of water rushing through the air the distance of one hundred and fifty feet; whose inexpressibly rapid motion carries the eye along in spite of every effort of resistance, and forms the most lively contrast with the immovable, and deeply rooted beds of stone that compose, on each side, the boundaries of the tremendous yawning chasm.
T a«ked him if the southern world contained any thing equal to those falls? He said it did; and that he would bring me written proofs of his assertion. He complied with his promise, and put into my hands the 6th and 8th vol. of a work entitled " Mercuric) Peruano," written in Spanish, and published in Lima. From No. 207 of the 6th vol. 27th December 1792,1 have translated the following account of the cataract of Tequendama, by a person who frequently visited it in his youth. I consider this wonderful work of nature in some manner unknown, although an account of it was published in the year 1771, the knowledge of it has not reached many. I attribute this circumstance to the nature of the work in which the description was written being more peculiarly adapted to the perusal of monks, than to any other profes
VOL. III. 3 D
sion, though even not to all of these. Such subjects belong to natural history, and I have no doubt that it will hold an honourable place in that of the kingdom of New Grenada about to be published in Madrid, written by the eminent scholar doctor Joseph Cclestino deMutis. "It ismost commonly known by the name of the Leap of Tequcndania, derived from the farm, or seat where it is found, which has become famous on account of this wonder, as scarcely any of the viceroys whom the sovereign has destined to the government of that kingdom, have failed to visit it. It may easily be supposed what numbers join in those excursions. Nature appears to have contributed to facilitate the examination of this her wonderful work; it being but a short distance from the capital, and the ground so favourable, that with all ease, and without risk, you may ride to the Farm in a carriage. There you find a spacious and handsome country house, capable of containing a great many people. Thence you go on horseback to the falls. After you have passed the river on a balsa,* and your horses by swimming, you enter on a mountain as umbrageous, as it is delightful. The whole road offers the most agreeable prospects. The exquisite perfume of plants, the harmonious and varied songs of numerous birds, the delightful temperature of the air; and finally, every thing unites to render the jaunt most agreeably amusing.
"The cataract is about six miles from the house. Before you arrive at the distance of one hundred steps from it, there is a plain, where the declivity of the road, which is of easy descent, terminates. It is less than a half a quarter of a league in circumference; of a circular from, and skirted with trees, whose elevated tops form natural umbrellas, that shelter you from the sun, and even from the rain. In this rural spot, itiscustomary to gratify the appetite by partaking of a repast; to which, every thing around seems to invite you. Hence you go down to the falls on foot, amidst trees as heretofore; when after a few steps you
* Balsa is a raft or float made of large rushes and gourds, which the Indians propel by paddling with their hands; their bodies being partly in the water.
arc suddenly struck with a dazzlinglightoccasioned by the small particles of water reduced to vapour by their concussion on the rocks. The father Alonzo de Zamora speaking of the river of Bogota, which forms the cataract, says, " With the impetus that the compressed waters of the river descend, they come dashing by innumerable cliffs covered with beautiful trees, and sweeping over rocks, flow rapidly on, until they are precipitated down the famous Leap of Tequendama, celebrated as one of the wonders of nature. Confined to a single channel, it is propelled as water poured out of a pitcher, forming a portion of a circle, which is said to be two hundred and twenty fathoms in height, with as frightful a noise as those of the Nile are said to make. It falls into a beautiful basin, that is more than a league in circumference. Generally it cannot be seen very late in the day, because the fall of such a vast body of water forms mists that embarrass the sight. But in the morning it is delightfully entertaining, for the fluid in passing through the air is divided into minute particles, on which the rays of the sun produce many rainbows. These, in the basin, add further to its beauty. Our admiration is augmented by the prodigious walls of stone, that art could not have rivalled in regularity. Their heights are every where covered by towering, and leafy trees, filled with beautiful flowers of various kinds. A natural Paradise inhabited by different species of birds, who mingle their songs to celebrate this wonderful work of nature."
The following more accurate account, and measurement of Tequendama, was made by the colonel-commandant of the royal corps of artillery, Don Domingo Esquiaqui, and sent with the plan of the falls, to the king of Spain, in 1790, from the same work No. 272, 11th August 1793, vol. 8th.
"From the surface of the river above, to the first shelf, five fathoms.* From the first, to the second shelf, thirty-nine fathoms. From the second, to the bottom of the basin, eighty-nine and a half fathoms. Total, 133 and a half fathoms. From which
• This must have been measured by the French foot, as it then agrees with the corollary.