Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Howard, Charles E

OLYMPUS.

LONDON:

SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, AND CO.,

STATIONERS' COURT.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

YAZ 94-11-2

“ The European with the Asian shore

Sprinkled with palaces: the ocean stream
Here and there studded with a seventy-four :

Sophia's cupola, with golden gleam :
The cypress groves : Olympus, high and hoar:

The twelve isles, and the more than I can dream,
Far less describe, present the very view
Which charmed the charming Mary Montagu.”

BYRON.

DURING the last three thousand years many excellent rules have been made by various critics, as to the conduct of a work, and the treatment of its various parts. There is much safety in following these precepts, which come and go with each generation, abiding their day, and doing yeoman's service during their season to those who use and study them. They are sure and profitable guides -so sure, that it is better to fail according to the rule than to succeed without it. Professionals

B

Behold any

always stick sedulously to such. new book by a master hand! It may be dullit very often is—prosaic, and used up, so far as the sentiment is concerned; but the verbiage is quite orthodox, and the general arrangement of subject the very pink of the comme il faut regulation-unexceptionable in the eyes of a reviewer, because conformable to a reviewer's ideas of good system, but heavy and unreadable to all the young bloods in authorship or literature. To these such productions serve as models and studies. Like precedents in law, you regard them as matters requisite to be learnt, however repugnant in themselves. For this is a cautious age, and jurymen are not generally the most intelligent of men; therefore it is requisite to make out a case agreeable to precedent and law, however repugnant to justice or common sense. Now, the public and a jury are one, and must be provided for accordingly; and the analogy holds good throughout; for a jury, although avowedly not exactly the most penetrating among men, have, nevertheless, your life or death in their hands—so likewise have the public the life or death of your book in their hands; and, as a crafty advocate cajoles the one, so should an author cajole the other; but with this difference, that the author

must do so secretly; for if an intelligent public suspect any “insincerity” (as they call it in him, but "skill” in the advocate), they at once condemn him as a heretic, and renounce his bookseller. It is for this reason that the art of deception ranks so high with authors, and therefore it is that we glory in such wonderfully moral and correct books, whose authors are anything but moral or correct. Horatio's philosophy is new compared to this.

There is also the esoteric code of criticismma more just and honest standard. It judges of an author not by method or judicious treatment, but by the originality of his brain; and this is very freely acknowledged whenever found. What dramatist more irregular than Shakespeare?Who has written more nonsense than he ? Yet, every now and then he redeems himself by some bright, new fancy, or some deep insight, which men love and acknowledge. Rabelais is full of sad trash, in which you now and then find a diamond. Dear old Montaigne rambles on, without the slightest regard to order, or connection, or propriety. With such men any one could find fault. Small critics can let off volleys of sparkling reviews against misdemeanors like these, and if they had to conduct

« AnteriorContinuar »