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compassion of all but a practised whale-fisher. The repeated showers which he spouted into the air began now to be mingled with blood, and the waves which surrounded him assumed the same crimson appearance. Meantime the attempts of the assailants were redoubled; but Mordaunt Mertoun and Cleveland, in particular, exerted themselves to the uttermost, contending who should display most courage in approaching the monster, so tremendous in its agonies, and should inflict the most deep and deadly wound upon its huge bulk.
“The contest seemed at last pretty well over: for although the animal continued from time to time to make frantic exertions for liberty, yet its strength appeared so much exhausted, that, even with assistance of the tide, which had now risen considerably, it was thought it could scarce extricate itself.
“Magnus gave the signal to venture upon the whale more nearly, calling out at the same time, Close in, lads, she is not half so mad now--Now, Mr. Factor, look for a winter's oil for the two lamps at Harfra-Pull close in, lads.'
“ Ere his orders could be obeyed, the other two boats had anticipated his purpose; and Mordaunt Mertoun, eager to distinguish himself above Cleveland, had, with the whole strength he possessed, plunged a half-pike into the body of the animal. But the leviathan, like a nation whose resources appear totally exhausted by previous losses and calamities, collected his whole remaining force for an effort, which proved at once desperate and successful. The wound last received, had probably reached through his external defences of blubber, and attained some very sensitive part of the system, for he roared aloud, as he sent to the sky a mingled sheet of brine and blood, and snapping the strong cable like a twig, overset Mertoun's boat with a blow of his tail, shot himself by a mighty effort, over the bar, upon which the tide had now risen considerably, and made out to sea, carrying with him a whole grove of the implements which had been planted in his body, and leaving behind him, on the waters, a dark red trace of his course."
After all, “The Pirate” contains much matter, for which we are thankful. It is good enough to please us if not to reflect honour on its author. Let him then write on; he will never equal his first works; but these have rendered it impossible that he should ever be written down-even by his
Her feet up-gather'd, and her turban'd brow
Bent o'er her head, her robe in ample flow
And music is around her, and the glow
Of young fair faces, and sweet voices go
But no Sultana she! as in a book
Divinest purity, and the bright look
Like the fair blossom of some woodland nook,
LECTURES ON POETRY.
BY T. CAMPBELL.
The subject of Greek poetry may be treated either by describing its most interesting authors in chronological succession, or by grouping them without regard to time according to their respective classes of composition. There would be several disadvantages in minutely pursuing the latter method. It would call the attention suddenly backwards and forwards to periods of literature far divided from each other; it would require the same names, that have shone in different de. partinents of literature, to be often repeated; and it would demand an accuracy in subdividing the classes of poetry, which, if attainable, would be formal and fatiguing. _In reality, such accuracy is far from being perfectly attainable. For though there are certain great walks in Greek literature, the separate tracks and bearings of which can never be confounded; yet the subordinate branchings of those walks have their crossings and contiguities often so much obscured by antiquity, as to be (if we may use the expression) undistinguishable beneath the moss of time. There is one dry duty, indeed, which it is not easy to avoid in attempting to give any satisfactory view of Greek poetry, whatever method may be pursued-namely, that of speaking of many writers whose works have either nearly, or wholly perished, but whose names and characters still survive in the
of ancient criticism. Even in adopting the method of considering the eminent poets in chronological succession, it will be necessary sometimes to advert to those remote and shadowy reputations. But if one were entirely to pursue the opposite method, and to attempt dividing and subdividing the whole national poetry by its kinds and varieties, it would in that case be necessary to show how every department of it was filled up,
and therefore to enter still more minutely and frequently, than upon the other system, into the conjectural character of authors, of whom there are few or no remains. I have preferred therefore the plan of considering the principal poets of Greece individually, and in chronological succession, to that of taking an abstracted and classified view of Greek poetical art.
At the same time there is a certain advantage in classification, which one is unwilling altogether to forego. In travelling for pleasure over the scenes of a fine kingdom, it would be absurd to investigate the boundaries of all its petty divisions; yet it might assist our recollection of its finest scenery to note the outline and comparative aspect of its provinces. I shall therefore offer a short sketch of the classes into which Greek poetry may be generally divided, before I proceed on the simple plan of detail which I have adopted. In this prefatory and bird's-eye view of the subject, I shall avoid, as far as I can, all unnecessary dryness or minuteness. But still let method be ever so useful, it is dry in immediate application; and I am far from feeling myself independent of the reader's patience in this synopsis.
Epic Poetry. The works of Homer bound our prospect in the ancient history of Greek literature, and may be compared to a mighty eminence, the farther side of which cannot be seen. It is impossible to estimate by what steps, and in how long or short a period, the epic muse had ascended to that summit of excellence. All that appears is, that her subsequent progress was descent. And in a relative sense we VOL. III. No. 15,-1822.
may call the excellence of Homer perfection, not, perhaps, according to abstracted ideas of poetry, for under these might be included a symmetry of design more strict than his, and that Virgilian picturesqueness of expression to which nothing can be added, and from which nothing can be taken away. But still it is doubtful whether the genius of the Iliad be practically compatible with those minuter graces; and therefore the poem is perfect in its kind without them, considering the impulse and instruction which it affords to the imagination.
Nor does it matter much for our enjoyment of the Iliad what we may think about the history of its composition. Was it improved by the Diascevasts or compilers? They could have only polished its outward form, and could not have infused its internal spirit. Was it the work of many? it must have been that of a consentaneous many—of an age deeply fraught with the power of giving a sweeping interest to poetry, since its separate songs were capable of being adjusted into so harmonious a whole. If it was the work of a school, we must surely suppose some great master of that school. If other hands took up the harp of Homer, they had at least learnt his tune; and if his mantle descended, it appears to have retained its warmth of inspiration.
After and excepting the Iliad and Odyssey, we have no great Greek epic poetry. No relic of the Alexandrian school approaches to the Homeric spirit, and the intermediate epos is of doubtful character. Hesiod's name, whatever he actually wrote, may be collectively taken to designate a mixture of poetry, which had a strong influence, perhaps on the whole unfavourable, on the literature of his country: He was the earliest didactic and sententious poet of Greece, and gave an example of familiar parable even before Æsop.* Whilst he stooped to deliver the humblest instruction in song, he also touched as an epic poet on the wildest subjects of human credulity-on the origin of the universe, and on those combats of heaven with the malevolent invisible powers which have found a place, more or less, in all poetical religious creeds, from the giants of the Hebrew Hellt down to Milton's Pandæmonium. The misfortune of Hesiod's works is, that the execution is not equal to the subjects. The supernatural and the natural are melted down into one by the fire of Homer's imagination ; but they have no such deceptive blending in Hesiod's representation. His prodigies excite astonishment without sympathy, and altogether he stands at the head of a new epic school of cosmogony and matterof-fact mythology. Homer is the king of poetry, whilst Hesiod is only its king at arms—the epic herald of the genealogy of gods and goddesses, of heroes and heroines.
Still Hesiod has his bright spots, and was a favourite with antiquity. A tripod which he was said to have obtained in a poetical contest with Homer, was shown on Mount Helicon, in the second century after the Christian era, to the traveller Pausanias. That there was ever a personal competition in song between Homer and Hesiod is certainly not very credible. But some modern theorists have alleged the tradition to testify a rivalship to have subsisted between the Ascræan and Ionian schools of poetry, and some memorable victory to have been obtained by the former over the latter. I cannot see how the tradition proves any such thing. There was always a rivalship undoubtedly
* In the fable of the Hawk and the Nightingale, in his “Works and Days.” † Proverbs xxi. 16.
# Messrs. Bôttiger and F. Schlegel.
among the public deliverers of song at the Grecian festivals; but that they were ever pitted against each other in party spirit as Homerists and Hesiodists, there is not a tittle of historical evidence to render probable. It is one thing to suppose that Hesiod may have had his peculiar admirers, reciters, and imitators, and another thing to imagine his school at Delphi sitting up in opposition to the Homeridæ, and disputing with them for the palm of popularity. Wolffe* has shown that the Homeric rhapsodists themselves repeated and imitated Hesiod, which looks like any thing in the world but the Homeric and Hesiodic rhapsodists having split into contending sectaries.
True it is that Hesiod's epic taste degenerates from Homer's, and that the latter rhapsodists who imitated Hesiod, although they might recite Homer also and call themselves Homeridæ, are to be widely distinguished from the old and patriarchal Homeridæ of Chios. These, namely, the elder rhapsodists, were either the composers or preservers of the Iliad and Odyssey. They gave the world materials which were capable of being moulded by future diascevasts into grand and interesting poems. Hesiod had also his diascevasts, but he has evidently a dry and inharmonious epic character, that would have baffled their efforts to all eternity if they had laboured to compile his works into an animated whole. That 'the degeneracy of the Hesiodic period, kowever, was produced by any sytematic competition of an anti-Homeric school, is a theory which rests rather infirmly on the basis of the Helliconian tripod.
After Hesiod, and certainly long after Homer, commenced a suite of poets who have been collectively denominated the Cyclic, who inundated Greece with epic, or at least with historic hexameter verse. Every event alluded to by Homer and Hesiod, and every fable of mythology, became the subject of a poein, till a tissue of versified narrative was at length accomplished by successive hands, which extended from the creation of things to the return of the heroes from Troy and from Chaos to Penelope's bed-chamber. However instructive this Cyclic register of Centaur campaigns, Titian insurrections, and heroic sieges, older than even the Trojan, might have been to an ancient Greek, a recital of the title of the lost poems which composed it would scarcely be amusing to a modern reader. If he should, however, feel any curiosity on the subject of the Cyclic poets, his longings may be satisfied in Heyne's First Excursus to the second book of the Æneid.
Of the middle epos of Greece, that is of the epic poetry written after Hesiod and before the age of Alexander, we have certainly no data for forming either an universal or perfectly confident judgment. But the silence of Aristotle as to its merits is an unpropitious symptom. Pausanias, it is true, speaks of verses of that period that had been mistaken for Homer's. But of the three most distinguished and later classical epic poets, Pisander, who rehearsed the toils of Hercules, is ac
Wolffii Prolegg. ad Hom. p. xcviii. † The term Cyclic has been variously and vaguely applied by the ancients and by classical antiquarians. It is sometimes taken to designate a selection of the best epic poets, made by the Alexandrian critics, which included Homer, Hesiod, Pi. sander, Panyasis, and Antimachus,
Or, more strictly speaking, to the death of Ulysses. $ Pisander, of Camírus, in Rhodes, the very old Greek epic poet mentioned by Aristotle, who sang the labours of Hercules, and who first took the liberty of investing the hero with the club and costume of a lion's skin: this Pisander is to be
cused of having been totally without the beauty of epic design; and if a fragment supposed to be his, be rightly ascribed to him, it will prove him to have possessed no great excellence as a writer. Panyasis, the second of the post-Hesiodic classics, was ranked by some old critics next in merit to Homer; but the word next admits of an indefinitely imaginable interval. Handel's bellows-blower thought his services the next to Handel's in musical utility to the church. "The works of Antimachus,t the last of the classic epics, a younger contemporary of Plato, were extant in the time of Hadrian, who preferred him to Homer himself. But his imperial majesty was fond of the tumid and obscure. Antimachus's audience, all but Plato, once left hiin whilst he was reading his verses; and the poet declared that Plato was a sufficient audience. The philosopher's remaining, however, might be the result of politeness or patience as much as of taste, and may almost be suspected to indicate that Antimachus's poetry required a considerable stock of philosophy to be heard to an end.
If even Pisander and Antimachus, who by all accounts soared like eagles above a rookery, beyond the common-place of Greek Cyclic poetry,I were defective in epic harmony, i. e. in interesting arrangement of parts, it is but fair to suppose that the bulk of those Cyclics were mere chroniclers in verse. Hesiod himself betrays the commencement of an historical, and even a chronicling spirit'in Greek poetry, like that which pervaded our own for ages both before and after Chaucer. Hesiod's inquisitiveness into remote events, and his love of accumulating legends, gave rise to this bad taste; and his beauties seem to have beguiled the Greeks to endure and adopt it. For dry as he is in detail, he still throws some poetical light and colouring on subjects of awful and mysterious attraction to untutòred minds. He traced the secrets of nature back to their imagined source. He epitomized the history of man.
distinguished from another poet of the same name, who lived centuries later in the reign of the Roman Emperor Alexander. The latter Pisander is also ranked under the vague denomination of a Cyclic poet. He was in all probability an imitator of Virgil. Macrobius, chamberlain to the Emperor Theodosius, when he wrote his Saturnalia, appears to have confounded the new and the old Pisander, for he accuses Virgil of copying the latter. Now this could not be the case, for Aulus Gellius has carefully enumerated the writers imitated by Virgil, and never mentions the name of the old Pisander. Indeed there is a great deal of matter in the second Æneid which Macrobius alleges Virgil to have taken from the old Greek epic, which the elder Pisander could not have known. Any one who peruses Merrick's introduction to his edition and translation of Tryphiodorus's Destruction of Troy, will see it clearly made out, from the collated opinions of the learned, that Macrobius must have been mistaken on this point, however respectable his general authority may be.
Viz. a fragment of a poem on the Exploits of Hercules, published among the works of Theocritus, but evidently no production of the Sicilian school.
+ The fragments that remain of Antimachus of Colophon amount to about one hundred; but, alas, about three-fourths of these fragments are but single verses, and the remainder not much longer. He flourished about the 92d Olympiad. The Alexandrian critics seem to have thought very well of him. Quinctilian, though he censures him, speaks of him as a strong writer. The works which it seems most certain that he wrote, were an epic poem on the Siege of Thebes, and a poem in elegiac verse on the Fate of distinguished Heroes who had experienced adversities in Love. It was called Lyde, in honour of a beauty to whom he was attached. The honourable mention of him made by Callimachus, is the most favourable symptom of Antimachus's genius, which, according to his censurers, was prone to obscurity. On the whole, his learning and power give us an idea of a poet not unlike our own Ben Jonson.
Callini Epigr. Brunck. Anal. 461.