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account for the delusion of the gentleman and lady I told you about in the first part of this letter. I began to feel myself mightily at home; and, as the Virginians say, felt a heap of regret at bidding the excellent lady and her family good bye. She had two little daughters not grown up; who are receiving that sort of domestic education at home, which is very common in Virginia. They perhaps will not dance better than becomes a modest woman, as some ladies donnor run their fingers so fast over a piano nor wear such short petticoats as our town bred misses; but they will probably make amends for these deficiencies, by the chaste simplicity of their mannersthe superior cultivation of their minds, and the unadulterated purity of their hearts. They will, to sum up all in one word, make better wives for it, Frank, -the only character in which a really valuable woman can ever shine. The oldest was a fair blue-eyed lassie, who, I prophecy, will one day be the belle of Virginia.
The turn which my letter has upaccountably taken, brings to my mind, what I had like to have forgot,--a manuscript work, which afforded me infinite satisfaction, and tickled me in some of my susceptible parts. L'used to lay on the sopha in the stately hall, during the sultry part of the day, and read it with wonderful gusto. It is written by an ancestor of the lady with whom I was a guest_a high man in his day. Strangers as they pass up James's river, are still shown the house, where he once lived in princely splendour; giving welcome and shelter to high and low that passed that way. Judging by the work the author was a deep scholar; a man of great observation, and a sly joker on womankind. He never misses an opportunity of giving a shrewd cut at them; and as I especially recollect, records with great satisfaction, the theological opinions of one Bearskin, an Indian philosopher, who accompanied him in running the line between Virginia and North Carolina.
Bearskin's paradise was an improvement on that of Mahomet. It was peopled with beautiful maids, gifted with every personal charm, and endowed with every intellectual gift; of which last they made the most excellent use-by never speaking a word. In addition to this, they were extremely docile and good natured; obeying every wish or command, of course, without the least grumbling. The sage Bearskin's place of punishment, was a terrible place; containing nothing but ugly old women who—but let us not insult the memory of our mothers and grandmothers, who some of them doubtless were not beauties, if I may judge by the family pictures. The style of this work is, I think, the finest specimen of that grave, stately, and quaint mode of writing, fashionable about a century ago, that I have met with any where.
Remember me to the lads of the club, which by my calendar meats to night,--and good bye.
ART. VI.-1. Sacred Songs. By T. Moore, Esq.
2. Airs of Palestine. By J. Pierpont, Esq. IF F we may judge from the pointing of these straws, a new
school of poetry-intermediate between the common and the metaphysical, -is about to be established. It was the fundamental principle of metaphysical poetry,—that the material and the intellectual worlds are, in every particular, analogous to each other; and the great object of those who were the founders or the followers of the school, was to develop and illustrate this analogy to its utmost possible extent. They were the most laborious of all writers. They dug most elaborately after profound and unheard of conceits: they would use no idea unless it was fetched a great way; nor, when they did use it, would they give it up till they had carried it as much farther. They were perpetually engaged in bringing remote thoughts together,-in demonstrating resemblances between objects and events, which, to more superficial investigators, had always appeared either as having to each other the relation of contrariety, or as having no relation at all. Common poets generally propose as the subject of their story some interesting fact or transaction, and are content to illustrate and adorn it by means of similies and metaphors:—whereas the metaphysical writers made the similies and metaphors their subjects, and employed the facts and transactions to illustrate and adorn them. To the one a metaphor was only subordinate and auxiliary:—to the other it was principal and all in all. A common poet would hardly think of writing an epic upon any subject short of the siege of Troy;—the metaphysical poet would contrive to produce one upon a mere figure of speech.
We have been thus specific, because an account of the singular rạce of poets who arose about the middle of the 17th century, will enable our readers to comprehend more easily what we shall have occasion to say of a somewhat similar race which is about to spring up not far from the beginning of the 19th The school of which Mr. Moore is to be the leader (for never did any celebrated writer, either of prose or of poetry, strike into a new path of composition, without very soon finding an adequate number of followers at his back),-propose for themselves an object somewhat similar to that which was in the view of the metaphysicians:--the only very great difference between the two schools being, that the object of the former is not so far off as that of the latter. Both treat a subject in pretty much the same way; but both do not, in a majority of cases, make choice of precisely the same sort of subjects. The thorough-going metaphysicians generally contrive to produce some conceit of their own, which it is their serious occupation to feel out and develop in all its possible ramifications and bearings:-whereas the half-way writers of the same order are content to borrow their conceits from the scriptures and the fathers, and generally undergo no more labour than serves to amplify and illustrate them. Both schools occasionally take some simile from profane authors; but both do not analyze and sublimate it to the same extent. The metaphysician works it up and tinkers with it so much, that when it comes from his hands there is hardly a single quality of the original subject:the semi-metaphysician, on the contrary, never carries his investigation so far as materially to alter either the substance or the configuration of what he is working upon: though he seldom leaves it without having drawn out and exposed its several parts in a pretty violent and thorough way. The former are enabled, by their own alchemical perseverance, to evolve now and then an idea which is striking and valuable;—the latter depend for their thoughts upon the labours of others, and only aspire themselves to an originality of treatment. As the merit therefore of this sort of writing must, in a great degree, be proportionate to the labour it costs, the new school can liv claim to only about half the applause which critics have given to the old.—But, to compensate, in some measure, for the little expense of thinking, the semi-metaphysical poets have bestowed a very commendable degree of labour upon composition. Cowley, Donne, and the others of the old school, were very negligent about the harmony of their versification; and generally, indeed, succeeded very poorly in writing full resounding lines and chiming terminations. It would be impertinent, on the contrary, to tell our readers how smoothly Mr. Moore is accustomed to make his composition;-and as to Mr. Pierpont, we have only to say, that with our eyes, our ears, and our fingers perpetually employed, we were not able, during the perusal of his poem, to detect but one single line that was at all unharmonious and prosaic.
But we shall never make ourselves understood, till we have adduced some examples of what we mean. Thus Mr. Moore borrows a pretty little thought from St. Augustine, which he amplifies into the following stanzas.
Oh fair! oh purest! be thou the dove,
And lives unseen, and bathes her wing,
Between Heaven and thee, and trembling fly!'-p. 176. To illustrate still farther the foregoing observations,--and to exhibit at the same time a fair specimen of what each of the authors before us have done,—we shall extract from their respective works, the lines in which both have attempted to improve a passage of St. Luke:
Arrayed in clouds of golden light,
More bright than Heaven's resplendent bow,
To bless the sleeping world below!
The light of glory beams on earth;
And saints below rejoice with mirth:
Sacred Songs.-p. 151.
Glory to God;-benevolence to man;
All?-all, but one, that hung and burn'd alone,
Airs of Palestine.-p. 17. These extracts are sufficient, we suppose, to give our readers an idea of what we mean by semi-metaphysical poetry. Mr. Moore is incontestably the founder of the school; but it may not be quite so indubitable that Mr. Pierpont is a follower. He might be too modest, perhaps, to have the honour thrust on him of being the second person to join in the institution of a new sect;—but we think, nevertheless, we can adduce a string of passages from his poem, which will establish his claims to the juniority beyond all possibility of doubt. The Airs of Palestine differ from the Sacred Songs only as here and there a straggling simile on all fours differs from an organized body of similes in the same predicament. The object of Mr. Pierpont seems to have been, to collect and versify all the
passages, -particularly of the religious writers,—in which the powers of music are recorded or described. He sends his book into the world as a religious poem'; and, accordingly, his example are taken, for the most part, from the sacred scriptures. Occasionally, indeed, he versifies a passage out of a profane author:—but from whatever source his thoughts are derived he is almost sure of carrying them too far. This is the predominant fault of his poetry; and it occurs not only in those passages where he is professedly attempting to amplify a borrowed idea, but in those, also, which are more unquestionably his own, and in which he is professing to do no more than is done by versifiers in general. We shall have occasion to exhibit specimens of both sorts. In p. 3, the author attempts to show how music aids religion, by making it the breath which blows up the flame enkindled by religion around the frozen heart; which flame liquifies the said heart and evaporates it to heaven. Our chemical readers will fully understand the process.--Merely melting the heart—which satisfies common poets—would not do for Mr. Pierpont.
When Religion's mild and genial ray,
Again, while Horace says very forcibly,—but very briefly, that the top of a tree keeps off the fervid blows of the sun