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act each other; and at last recommends masick as the
He then concludes the whole with an encomium on the power of poetry and of music united, which is enrich'd with allusions to ancient fables and historical facts; materials that we have often recommended as proper ornaments for these sort of poems.
But he the muse's laurel justly shares,
We have dwelt long enough, perhaps too long, on this subject; but as these poems are of such use, that what is taught in this agreeable manner will remain for ever six'd on the memory, it scem'd the more necessary to be very particular and explicit in the rules, and to give variety of examples. We have only to add to what has been already faid, that the great art in the conduct of these poems is so to adorn and enliven the precepts that they may agreeably strike the imagination; and to deliver them in such an indirect manner, that, the form of instruction being concealed, the reader may grow wiser without perceiving he is taught, and that while the most usesul lesions are inculcated, the whole may appear only as an amusement. For this reason it is necessary often to digress from the subject, and to introduce episodes of such a nature that at the end they may lead you naturally to your subject again, and then seem of a piece with it. Many instances of these kinds of digressions may^be seen in the authors we have mention'd, but especially in Virgil, who, aster he has been wandering, and to all appearance forgot his husbandmen and their concerns, is by some happy rural incident, arising naturally out of his subject, brought back to his business again, and connects and makes every thing he has met with conducive to his main design.
In these digressions and episodes it is also of the utmost consequence to introduce the pathetic, and agitate the afsections; for it is ever to be observed, in works of this nature, that a digression properly introduced, and so as to awaken the passions, and strike the heart, is of more importance than a multitude of ornamental descriptions, and will be read again and again with pleasure; while, to other passages that are merely instructive, the mind can hardly attend a second time, tho' ever so well decorated. The understanding feels no pleasure in being inftruded often in the fame thing ; but the heart is ever open to an affecting tale, and receives a pleasure every time it is repeated.
With regard to the style or dress of these poems, it should be so rich as to hide the nakedness of the subject, and the barrenness of the precepts should be lost in the lustre of the language. ■ It ought (says Mr. Wart on *) to abound in the most bold and forcible metaphors, the most glowing and picturesque epithets; it ought to be elevated and enliven'd by pomp of numbers and majesty of words, and by every sigure that can lift a language above the vulgar and current expressions,' One may add, that in-no kind of poetry (not even in the sublime ode) is beauty of expression so much to be regarded as in this. For the epic writer should be very cautious of ia
* See his Dislertation on DiJtBic Pectiy,
dulging himself in too florid a manner of expression, especially in the dramatic parts of his fable, where he introduces dialogue: And the writer of tragedy cannot fall into so nauseous and unnatural an affectation, as to put laboured descriptions, pompous epithets, studied phrases, and high-flown metaphors, into the mouths of his chaiacters. But as the didactic poet speaks in his own person, it is necessary and proper for him to use a brighter colouring of stile, and to be more studious of ornament. And this is agreeable to an admirable precept of Aristotle, which no writer should ever sorget, —* that diction ought most to belabour'd in the unactive, that is the descriptive parts of a poem, in which the opinions, manners and passions of men are not represented; for too glaring an expression obscures the manners find the sentiments.'
AVe have already observed that any thing in nature may be the subject of this poem. Some things however will appear to more advantage than others, as they give a greater latitude to genius, and admit of more poetic?.! ornaments. Natural-history and philosophy arc copious subjects. Precepts in these might be decorated with all the flowers in poetry; and, as Dr. Trass observes, how can poetry be better employed, or more agreeably to its nature and dignity, than in celebrating the works of the great Creator, and describing the nature and generation of animals, vegetables, and minerals; the revolutions of the heavenly bodies; the motions of the earth; the flux and reflux of the sea; the cause of thunder, lightning, and other meteors; the attraction of the magnet; the gravitation, cohesion, and lepulsion of matter; the impulsive motion of light; the flow progression of sounds; and other amazing phænomena of nature. Most of the arts and sciences are also proper subjects for this poem, and none are more so than its two sister arts, painting and music. In the former, particularly, there is room for the most entertaining precepts concerning the dispofal of colours ; the arrangement of lights and shades; the secret attractives of beauty; the various ideas which make up the one; the distinguishing between the attitudes proper to either sex, and every passion; the representing prospects of buildings, battles, or the country; and lastly, concerning the nature of imitation, and the power of painting. What a boundless sield of invention is here? What roo:n for description, comparison, and poetical fable: How easy the transition, at any time, from the draught to the original, from the shadow to the substance? and from hence, what noble excursions may be made into history, into panegyric upon the greatest beauties or heroes of the past or present age? The talk, I consess is difficult; bur, according to that noted, but true faying, so are all things '.bat are great.''
C H A P. XV.
ATale implies nothing more than a relation of a simple action, and therefore should not be embarasl'ed with a multitude of foriign circumstances, but may admit of such digressions as arise naturally from the subjest, and do not break in upon, or obscure the main dssign. I: should inculcate some usesul lesion, and be b?u\ interfiling and perplexing, in order that it may excite ;inu support the attention of the reader; for great part os the pleasure or entertainment which the mind receives from a well-written Tale, will be sound to arise from the suspense and anxiety we are kept in ; and which, (as in the plot of a Tragedy or Comedy) should not be removed till the end. Were the whole scope and design, or, if I may so speak, the point of the Tale sirst discovered, the reader would grow languid and indisserent, and have nothing to attend to but the diction and versisication.
The reader will sind these rules illustrated in the Hermit, a Tale, by Mr. Parnel ; which wo esteem an excellent example.
the Hermit. ATalc. By Mr. Parnel,
Far in a wild, unknown to publick view,
A lise so facred, such serene repose,
To clear this doubt, to know the world by sights
The morn was wasted in the pathless grass, And long and lonesome was the wild to pass; But when the southern sun had warm'd the day, A youth came posting o'er a crossing way; His rayment decent, his complexion fair, And soft in gracesul ringlets wav'd his hair. Then near approaching, Father, hail! he cry'd; And hail, my son, the rev'rend Sire reply'd: Words follow'd words, from question answer flow'd, And talk of various kind deceiv'd the road; 'Till each with other pleas'dr and loth to part,