Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

they consist. I have endeavoured to show how some passages are beautiful by being sublime, others by being soft, others by being natural; which of them are recommended by the passion, which by the moral, which by the sentiment, and which by the expression. I have likewise endeavoured to show how the genius of the poet shines by a happy invention, a distant allusion, or a judicious imitation; how he has copied or improved Homer or Virgil, and raises his own imaginations by the use which he has made of several poetical passages in Scripture. I might have inserted also several passages in Tasso which our author has imitated ; but, as I do not look upon Tasso to be a sufficient voucher, I would not perplex my reader with such quotations as might do more honour to the Italian than the English poet. In short, I have endeavoured to particularise those innumerable kinds of beauty which it would be tedious to recapitulate, but which are essential to poetry, and which may be met with in the works of this great author. Had I thought at my first engaging in this design, that it would have led me to so great a length, I believe I should never have entered upon it; but the kind reception which it has met with among those whose judgments I have a value for, as well as the uncommon demands which my bookseller tells me have been made for these particular discourses, give me no reason to repent of the pains I have been at in composing them. ADDISON,

SELECTIONS FROM THE GUARDIAN.

ON DEDICATIONS. (No. 4).

I HAVE sometimes been entertained with considering dedications in no very common light. By observing what qualities our writers think it will be most pleasing to others to compliment them with, one may form some judgment which are most so to themselves; and, in consequence, what sort of people they are. So when the authoress of a famous modern romance begs a young nobleman's permission to pay him her kneeling adorations, I am far from censuring the expression, as some critics would do, as deficient in grammar or sense; but I reflect, that adorations paid in that posture are what a lady might expect herself, and my wonder immediately ceases.

What led me into these thoughts was a dedication I happened upon this morning. The reader must understand that I treat the least instances or remains of ingenuity with respect, in what places soever found, or under whatever circumstances of disadvantage. From this love to letters I have been so happy in my searches after knowledge, that I have found unvalued repositories of learning in the lining of bandboxes. I look upon these pasteboard edifices, adorned with the fragments of the ingenious, with the same veneration as antiquaries upon ruined buildings whose walls preserve divers inscriptions and names, which are no where else to be found in the world. This morning, when one of Lady Lizard's daughters was looking over some hoods and ribands, brought by her tirewoman with great care and diligence, I employed no less in examining the box which contained them; it was lined with certain scenes of a tragedy, written (as appeared by part of the title there extant) by one of the fair sex. What was most legible was the Dedication; which, by reason of the largeness of the characters, was least defaced by those Gothic ornaments of flourishes and foliage, wherewith the compilers of these sorts of structures do often industriously obscure the works of the learned. As much of it as I could read with any ease, I shall communicate to the reader, as follows:— “* * * Though it is a kind of profanation to approach your grace with so poor an offering, yet when I reflect how acceptable a sacrifice of first-fruits was to Heaven in the earliest and purest ages of religion, that they were honoured with solemn feasts, and consecrated to altars by a divine command, * * * upon that consideration, as an argument of particular zeal, I dedicate * * * It is impossible to behold you without adoring; yet dazzled and awed by the glory that surrounds you, men feel a sacred power, that refines their flames, and renders them pure as those we ought to offer to the Deity. * * * The shrine is worthy the divinity that inhabits it. In your grace we see what woman was before she fell, how nearly allied to the purity and perfection of angels. And WE ADORE AND BLESS THE GLORIOUs work!” Undoubtedly these and other periods of this most pious dedication could not but convince the duchess of what the eloquent authoress assures her at the end, that she was her servant with most ardent devotion. I think this a pattern of a new sort of style, not yet taken notice of by the critics, which is above the sublime, and may be called the celestial; that is, when the most sacred phrases appropriated to the honour of the deity are applied to a mortal of good quality. As I am naturally emulous, I cannot but endeavour, in imitation of this lady, to be the inventor, or, at least, the first producer of a new kind of dedication, very different from hers and most others, since it has not a word but what the author religiously thinks in it. It may serve for almost any book, either prose or verse, that has, is, or shall be published, and might run in this manner.

THE AUTHOR TO HIMSELF.

Most HoNourED SIR,
These labours, upon many considerations, so properly

belong to none as to yourself. First, as it was your most earnest desire alone that could prevail upon me to make them public: then, as I am secure (from that constant indulgence you have ever shown to all which is mine) that no man will so readily take them into protection, or so zealously defend them. Moreover, there is none can so soon discover the beauties; and there are some parts which it is possible few besides yourself are capable of understanding. Sir, the honour, affection, and value I have for you are beyond expression; as great, I am sure, or greater than any man else can bear you. As for any defects which others may pretend to discover in you, I do faithfully declare I was never able to perceive them; and doubt not but those persons are actuated purely by a spirit of malice or envy, the inseparable attendants on shining merit and parts, such as I have always esteemed yours to be. It may perhaps be looked upon as a kind of violence to modesty, to say this to you in public; but you may believe me, it is no more than I have a thousand times thought of you in private. Might I follow the impulse of my soul, there is no subject I could launch into with more pleasure than your panegyric. But since something is due to modesty, let me conclude by telling you, that there is nothing so much I desire as to know you more thoroughly than I have yet the happiness of doing. I may then hope to be capable to do you some real service; but till then can only assure you that I shall continue to be, as I am more than any man alive,

Dearest sir, your affectionate friend, and the greatest of your admirers.

Pope.

ON PASTORAL POETRY. Paper I. (No. 22).

PASTORAL poetry not only amuses the fancy the most delightfully, but is likewise more indebted to it than any other sort whatsoever. It transports us into a kind of Fairy Land, where our ears are soothed with the melody of birds, bleating flocks, and purling streams; our eyes enchanted with flowery meadows and springing greens; we are laid under cool shades, and entertained with all the sweets and freshness of nature. It is a dream, it is a vision, which we wish may be real, and we believe that it is true.

Mrs. Cornelia Lizard's head was so far turned with these imaginations when we were last in the country, that she lost her rest by listening to nightingales: she kept a pair of turtles cooing in her chamber, and had a tame lamb running after her up and down the house. I used all gentle methods to bring her to herself; as having had a design heretofore of turning shepherd myself, when I read Virgil or Theocritus, at Oxford. But, as my age and experience have armed me against any temptation to the pastoral life, I can now with the greater safety consider it; and shall lay down such rules as those of my readers who have the aforesaid design ought to observe, if they would follow the steps of the shepherds and shepherdesses of ancient times.

In order to form a right judgment of pastoral poetry, it will be necessary to cast back our eyes on the first ages of the world: for, since that way of life is not now in being, we must inquire into the manner of it when it actually did exist. Before mankind was formed into large societies, or cities were built, and commerce established, the wealth of the world consisted chiefly in flocks and herds. The tending of these we find to have been the employment of the first princes, whose subjects were sheep and oxen, and their dominions the adjoining vales. As they lived in great affluence and ease, we may presume that they enjoyed such pleasures as that condition afforded free and uninterrupted. Their manner of life gave them vigour of body and serenity

« AnteriorContinuar »