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vagabond exile," &c. Here even the remains untouched by them. We feel
very use of the common word further that this is not poetry; we see that
is poetical, as closing up the sense to every word is chosen with scientific
the mind more perfectly than the word precision, that each has its natural and
more, and substituting an adverb for downright signification, that nothing
an accusative noun, in the vehemence more is suggested than what is actual.
with which passion wrests language to ly expressed ; we know that the writer
her own purposes. “Let them pro. very calmly elaborated both the idea
nounce the steep Tarpeian death,” is and the language in his own warm
an instance of the mode in which pase study, and at his own comfortable desk
sion, acting upon imagination, con- and we feel that this is not poetry.
denses many ideas, and conveys them Yet who can doubt but that the same
all to the hearer's mind at once. To thought, under Shakspeare's touch,
give every word in this line its proper would have started into Promethean
meaning in prose, we must say, “ Let life and energy? Thus it appears that
them condemn me to die, by being Poetry has a language of her own. To
cast down the steep Tarpeian rock;" identify her with Prose, is a degrada-
but in the rapidity of passion, not on. tion of her lofty lineage. Hers is a
ly judgment is pronounced, but death higher mode of speech, and for higher
that death is not slowly produced by purposes. Poetry can speak what Prose
the fall from the steep Tarpeian rock, hath no voice to utier. She is (as
but is itself steep; and although a steep Wordsworth himself elsewhere most
death is an unintelligible expression, beautifully says) “ the breath and
yet by the divine clearness with which finer spirit of all knowledge-the im-
imagination, in her lofty moods, sees passioned expression, which is in the
every thing at a glance, she succeeds countenance of all science.” Is it not
in stamping her whole meaning upon a contradiction thus to describe her,
the mind of another, by the general yet deny that she speaks a language
structure of the sentence.-We will accordant with her more subtle essence,
now proceed to the passage from Gib. and more impassioned energy? By
bon's Decline of the Roman Empire: stripping her of all essential character-
The apparent magnitude of an ob istics, Wordsworth would leave her
ject is enlarged by an unequal comparis nothing but the jingling of her bells,
son, as the ruins of Palmyra derive a whereby she might be distinguished
casual splendour from the nakedness of from Prose.
the surrounding desert." Here the And this, so far from being the least
thought is poetical, and the words in distinction, is no distinction at all.
which it is dressed are far longer, and If neither the cast of the thoughts
more sounding, than the words of the nor the structure of the language be
passage just quoted from Shakspeare, poetical, in a composition, it is not me-
(which indeed almost consists of mo. trical arrangement which will consti-
nosyllables,) yet, from not being used tute poetry. Are the following lines,
in an imaginative manner, they pro- written by Wordsworth, (for instance)
duce but a cold effect upon the mind: to be called poetry because they are
the reason is gratified, but the heart printed in ten syllables ?

"'Tis nothing more
Than the rude embryo of a little dome,
Or pleasure-house, once destined to be built
Among the birch-trees of this rocky isle.
But, as it chanced, Sir William having learn'd
That from the shore a full-grown man might wade,
And make himself a freeman of this spot
At any hour he chose; the knight forth with
Desisted, and the quarry and the mound

Are monuments of his unfinish'd task.” Of this we mayindeed say, with rather judgment to decide. The only poetimore truth than of Gray's sonnet, that cal mode of expression to be found in “it will easily be perceived” “ the them is, “made himself a freeman of language of these lines does in no res- the spot,” which again exemplifies pect differ from that of prose," whether what I said above respecting the of good prose I leave it to the reader's imaginative use of language. I would

conclude this part of my subject, by phatically, the finer spirit of all pasasking Mr Wordsworth how it is (ifsion ; for, while knowledge is only the the language of prose and poetry be light of poetry, passion is her life and the same) that the language of his own vital air. A true poet can, by his verses, prose and of his own poetry are so convey to the mind the general effect very different ? how it happens that of a battle with greater force and fideprofessing to speak the real language lity than an actual agent in the com. 1 of men in the latter, he speaks the bat by a prose narration. The latter language (it may be) of Gods in the can only place certain facts before us: former? For example, “ Religion the former can hurry us into the midst whose element is infinitude, and whose of the smoke and carnage-make us ultimate trust is the supreme of things, see the bayonets gleaming through the submitting herself to circumscription, dust of trampling thousands--and and reconciled to substitutions; and make us hear the dying groan-the Poetry, ethereal and transcendent, yet shout of victory! The one convinces incapable to sustain her existence with us that he himself was present at the out sensuous incarnation !" To sum scene; the other persuades us into a up all; it appears to me that Words, conviction that we ourselves are preworth has confounded poetic diction sent there. The poet's description is as it is called, with poetic diction as actually more true than that of the it really is. He has attacked a poetic soldier, because it is more graphical, diction founded on a mechanical abuse and produces on the mind a greater of language. I wish to uphold a sense of reality ; besides that the eyepoetic diction founded on the imagina witness mixes up too much of his own tive use of language-a poetic diction personal feeling-too much of the conthat depends not on the shifting taste fusion of a mind in action to convey of different eras, or on triAing varieties truth in the abstract to the mind of of costume, but which is immovably another. But poetry is the very abfixed on the one grand and unalterable stract of truth. Many travellers bave basis--a poetic diction, which is the described, as eye-witnesses, the burncountry's language of all true poets, ing of Hindoo widows; yet, in some (including Wordsworth himself, when book of Eastern travels, I have seen he forgets his theory,) however their Southey's poetical account of that re. different provinces may produce va volting ceremony extracted from the rieties of dialect. Thus, in spite of Curse of Kehama, as conveying the Wordsworth's declaration to the con best idea of its horrors. In ihe saine trary, I assert (and are not my asser. manner, the language which a true tions as good as those of any other poet gives to any human passion, is man?) that Poetry is a good and sound actually a more faithful transcript of antithesis to Prose.

that passion than the language of hiin By maintaining that poetry should who is under its actual pressure. In speak the same language with prose, the first place, the great passions Wordsworth is driven to assert ano. ther paradox, very lowering to the di- " are liken'd best to floods and vine powers of the former. He says:

streams : “ Whatever portion of the faculty The shallow murmur, but the deep are (namely, of embodying the passions

dumb". of man, and of expressing what he thinks and feels) we may suppose They have no language but looks and I even the greatest poet to possess, there tears. Therefore the poet's language is cannot be a doubt but that the lan, not a transcription of what men say guage which it will suggest to him, when they are strongly moved, but an must, in liveliness and truth, fall far interpretation of what they feel. And short of that which is uttered by men the poet has this advantage over nature in real life, under the actual pressure herself; namely, that he can at once of those passions, certain shadows of depict her internal promptings, and her which the poet thus produces, or feels external indications of passion. He can to be produced, in himself.” To this bring looks and tears before the eye.

I answer, that, if poetry be “ the finer In his verses, men both weep and speak. 1 spirit of all knowledge," it is, more em. In the next place, if great passions VOL. XXVI. NO. CLVII,

2 G

speak at all, they usually belie them is uttered by a man in the prime of life, selves by an inadequacy of utterance. and under a similar pressure? But

The language of the poet is actually there is not a greater distance between more genuine nature than that of the the passions of the nonagenarian and sufferer himself, because the former is those of the youth of fifteen, than there the language of the heart, which the is between the poet's capacity of feeling /latter is not. How frequently, when and expression, and that of men, on

a man has lost his wife or daughter, whose hearts a natural want of suscep. his condoling friends hear him repeat, tibility has anticipated the slow work “ She was a good creature ! No one of time. I would recommend to my knows what a loss I have had ! No readers the perusal of a poem but litone can tell what I suffer!" And this tle known, written by John Scott on is all he can say, for the anarchy of the death of his son, as an illustration his thoughts is like a guard upon his of what I have advanced. He will see lips. But the poet does know, and can in it an instance of the poetical temtell what he suffers, and not only pro. perament acted upon by suffering, and duces " certain shadows" of his feel- speaking with more force and truth ings, but the reality itself. And why? than the language of suffering alone Because the poet is himself a man, and could exhibit. Again, if the language because, like other men, the poet has of the poet fall short of that which is relations and friends who are subject uttered by men in real life under the to death, and he also has his causes of pressure of passion, the short-hand joy and sorrow; and if (as Words, writer, who takes down trials, and gives worth grants) a poet “is a man en- us verbatim the prison dialogues and dued with more lively sensibility, more last dying speeches of convicts, must enthusiasm and tenderness,” than bid fair to be a greater dramatist than others; if he also possess “a greater Shakspeare or Ford. Away, then, with knowledge of human nature," why such timid restrictions of the poet's (even painting from himself ) may he power! What boundary shall we place not give a more tender and enthusias- to it? It may be answered-Nature: tic language to joy or sorrow, a deeper But nature is boundless; and though, insight into the core of the human indeed, the poet feels that “ there is heart, than other men who are mere no necessity to trick out or elevate", sufferers ? The poet is a man in real her infinite wonders; yet, with a soul

life, and a poet beside ; and therefore as boundless as herself, he does not "he can feel not only as a man, but can, despair to depict them faithfully-aye, as a poet, give a more faithful utter- or even to transcend what he beholds ance to what he feels. Who knows but by the divine faculty with which he that Shakspeare, in painting the jea- pierces things invisible. His muse, lousy of Othello, or the paternal an. indeed, sheds “ natural and human guish of Lear, was but giving a keener tears ;” but what forbids that she and more imaginative colouring to should not also drop tears “such as some passages of his own life? Who angels weep?” can tell but that Eve was only a suba Holding such opinions as these, limated Mrs Milton ? For herein, als which I have endeavoured to contro. so, the poet's more lively sensibility vert, Wordsworth seems to surmise, aids his delineation of strong passion, that persons may think it a little in that he feels small things more strange that he should take the trou. acutely than men of dull and sluggish ble to write in verse; and he proceeds imagination feel great ones, and that to give a most extraordinary reason 1 the very shadows of his mind are for so doing. His meaning when exstronger than the realities of others. tracted from a heap of words is, that It is granted, that men, as they grow metre, being “ something to which older, are less and less moved by any the mind has been accustomed in va. , event or accident, and even the loss of rious moods,” has a great eficacy" in a favourite grandson may less move mitigating any excitement of too strong the blunted sensibilities of a nonagens a kind, which an affecting subject might arian, than the loss of a pointer would produce. One should have thought, have excited them when he was fifteen that with all the precautions which Shall we say, then, that the language of Wordsworth has taken to keep his such a man, under the pressure of any writings clear of all “ gross and viopassion, is equalin energy to that which lent stimulus," with his choice of

“ low and rustic" subjects, and ad. kettle (except on the hob ready for herence to “the real language of men,” tea) imparts no pleasure; to see a there could be no “ danger that the ghost would give us any thing but de excitement should be carried beyond light; yet when we behold a kettle its proper bounds." However, he is so well painted as to mock reality, determined to make all sure, and to or when we look at one of Fuseli's lull his reader's mind by sweet metri. spectres, we are pleased, in the one cal sounds as well as by the gentle case, to see the perfection of imitative flow of his ideas. If Wordsworth art, in the other, the triumph of imabounded himself to the assertion, that gination. Wordsworth appeals to his a tinkling ballad rhyme deducts from “ reader's own experience as to whethe horror of a tragical tale, and that ther“ the distressful parts of Clarissa a murder sung about the streets, Harlowe” do not give more pain than as how a young woman poisoned her the most pathetic scenes of Shake father and mother all for love of a speare. The reader's experience may young man-is a very different thing not always tally with Mr Words to a real substantial newspaper detail worth's. I for one confess, that the of the same, he might be pronounced self-murder of Othello, uncheered by in the right; but when he asserts tbat one ray of comfort here, or hope here. “Shakspeare's writings never act up after, (notwithstanding the metre,) on us, as pathetic, beyond the bounds is more painful to my feelings than of pleasure," and attributes this main the deathbed of the injured Clarissa, ly to “impulses of pleasurable sur- sinned against but not sinning, and prise from the metrical arrangement,” half in Heaven before she has quitted he appears to go rather beyond the earth ; and to the “ re-perusal" of mark. Is it true, that Shakspeare's this, I can safely say, that I never writings never act upon us, as pathetic, came“ with reluctance.” But so beyond the bounds of pleasure? The far from metre having a general hysterical shrieks of women, and the tendency to “ temper and restrain" wry faces of men trying to swallow our feelings—so far from the mind their tears at a theatrical representa- having been accustomed to it “ in a tion of one of Shakspeare's tragedies, less excited state," I conceive that the will prove the contrary. Does the very sound of verse is connected in circumstance of the performance be- most minds with the idea of someing spoken in blank verse at all miti- thing moving or elevating. I rememgate iis exciting effect upon the mind ? ber once, when I had taken shelter in Is any auditor conscious that it is in a poor woman's cottage from a pelting blank verse at all ? But perhaps and persevering storm, I began to read Wordsworth will say that he is only aloud to a companion who was with speaking of a perusal of Shakspeare. me, from a pocket volume of Hudia If so, I allow that Shakspeare's wri. bras. To my surprise, I was shortly ! tings when read seldom act upon us, interrupted by the sobs of the old as pathetic, beyond the bounds of plea- lady, who had buried her face in her sure ; but this over balance of plea- apron. I asked her what was the matsure, I conceive, is common to all ter? « Oh, sir," she replied, “ them good works of fiction, whether in prose verses do sound so affecting !” Moreor verse — simply because they are over, are not poets allowed to possess works of fiction, and because the mind a greater necromancy in raising hudelights in seeing nature skilfully imi. man passions than authors in any tated or ennobled, whether by the other kind; and do not pocts usually poetic art of Shakspeare, or the ima- write in metre of some sort ? ginative pencil of Raphael. To see a


In no period within our recollec- pect of our condition, which, if not tion, has the political state of the coun- altered by a timely exertion of the in. try been fraught with more absorbing tellectual energy, and good English interest, and worthy of more deep ate spirit, which yet linger among us, tention, than at the present moment. will grow worse, until at length, in It is true, that when threatened with the weakness and discontent of our invasion froin abroad, or alarmed by old age, some younger and more vi. the menacing attitude of hungry and gorous power will bear down upon us, discontented crowds in the manuface and the greatness of England be no turing districts at home, the present more. and imminent danger has more visi. In the present time, let us go where bly affected the senses, and the king- we will, in any place from Caithness dom has been struck with a more live to Cornwall, wherever men speak sely emotion of immediate peril; but riously respecting their own condition, even then, considerate men knew that and that of those around them, there the evil was but temporary, that the seems to be an unanimous consent to phrase of the “ existence of the na. ' this proposition," that there is a necestion” being in danger, was no more sity for some great change." Amongst than a figure of speech, and that, how the varieties of men, there are, of ever the tempest might rage for a time, course, various opinions as to the albeit with some immediate loss and means by which the change is to be harm, yet calm weather would at no effected : One would have the greater distant period come again, when we circulation of the Bible, another that might repair that which was shat- of foreign corn; this man would pro. tered, and rebuild that which was hibit the importation of foreign goods, thrown down.

that the exportation of British maBut now, reflecting men feel that, chinery—but one and all say, that with less outward sign, there is much “ something must be done,” not, as more inward danger. The vessel of in former times, that things may go the state floats, indeed, upon a calmer on better, but that things may “ go sea, but seems, as it were, to rot by on" at all. At former periods, disreason of the very stillness; and the tress was either local, or it affected strength, the energy, the stout heart, only some particular class of the peoand ihe lively activity of Great Bri- ple; but now, almost all the common tain, are dying away. There is no people, those who used to live, and great interest of the country flourish- eat and drink “ till they were satising, except that of the people whose fied,” through the labour of their own revenues are provided out of what is hands, are not only straitened in their wrung from the unwilling hands of means, but actually pinched for the all the rest; the fundholders aloue en- commonest support, and existing in joy a present prosperity, and that only the gloomy and dangerous tranquilbecause they “ must have their bond" lity of despair. At other times, if the as long as there is any thing to pay manufacturers were distressed, the them with.

more flourishing condition of the agriLet us not, however, be misundere cultural districts afforded them a restood : We do not mean to say any fuge; or, if unfruitful seasons and thing so extravagant, as that the power high rents pressed hard upon the culand glory of this great country is about tivators of the soil, there was some to perish suddenly, and for ever; for temptation to join the busy crowds we know, that to destroy so mighty a who lived by manufactures and comstructure as the British empire pre- merce; but now, both agricultural sents, is no work of a day or year, and manufacturing districts are dehowever violent the decay that eats pressed, not yet to utter starvation, into its walls and pillars; but, after but to gloomy and universal penury. seriously and attentively considering The cheerful, comfortable cottage of the state of things around us, we own the labourer is now become a thing that we are “ oppressed with no dis- of memory, or of imagination; the honourable melancholy" at the pros crowded dwelling places of the ma

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