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very of the fourth quarter was universal in its effects"- declare " the event of great and general interest,” founding of a state, the achievement not unworthy even of the Doctor's inuse of a victory, and the overthrow of an in its humbler flights. But it is mani. empire, inadequate to his wishes”fest that he left it, without envy, to be a desirous of a subject more unithe weaker wings of Southey ; for he versally interesting than the discoveadds—" I was, in truth, desirous of a ing of the New World”-envy Milton subject more universally interesting his “ fortunate choice of the Creation than even this”—and he leaves the less and Fall of Man"_and finally fix on illustrious laureate to enjoy the cir- the subject next in exaltation and unicumscribed fame of his M
versality to Milton's—" which space “ I considered," continues the Doc- in all its extent, and time in all its tor, “ that the poet who had made the duration, could afford ?” strongest impression on the world, had Milton having anticipated M'Henry been enabled to do so by his fortunate in the Creation and Fall, the Doctor, choice of the most exalted and uni. though often damped, was never disversal subject which space in all its mayed-andon“the first of April morn extent, and time in all its duration, by the chime"-A.D. 18—, by a descould afford—the History of Creation perate but triumphant effort of invenand the Fall of Man. On that theme tive genius, he bethought himself ofdid the chief of poets not only find The Flood. “ Still in the annals of scope for the whole power of his ge- mankind there remained one subject nius, but his genius found excitement unappropriated by the Epic Muse, for unequalled elevation, and became which, although to sustain it suitably invigorated by the grandeur and vast. required less daring flights than that ness of the topics presented to its con- which was chosen by Milton, was yet templation.”
amply magnificent and universally inHe does not inform us at what era teresting - namely, The FORTUNES of lis search after a subject he first AND CATASTROPHE OF THE ANTEDI. took into his serious consideration LUVIAN World." Milton's fortunate choice of Paradise What a breakfast the Doctor must Lost. Perhaps it was late in life. have devoured that morning! or was From that hour he set himself sedu- he too much agitated to eat? “ Throw lously to look over ace in all its physic to the dogs—now shall I show extent, and time in all its duration," that poetry is no drug-here goes a for the subject next in exaltation and bumper to Apollo !" And so saying, universality to the Creation and the the inspired M. D. turned up his Fall of Man. But that this allusion diamond-ringed little finger-and in to Milton may not be misinterpreted, a cup of the “ fragrant lymph that ho has the humility to add, “if I were cheers but not inebriates," revelled beindeed so vain as to imagine that I neath the beams of the god unshorn, possessed talents like his, where could and looked “rapt, inspired," as if he I find a subject on which to exert would them like Paradise Lost ? There
“ Break Priscian's head, and ravish all never can be another poetic theme con
the Nine !" nected with human affairs of equal grandeur and sublimity. Nor will But after a few hours, the Doctor there probably ever be one so felici- seems to have subdued his exultation tously treated as this has been in that to a pitch of sober and sustained self. wonderful poem.” We acquit Dr complacency that has never since M.Henry of the vanity of imagining deserted him, and on that morning that he possesses the talents” of Mil expressed itself in prayer. ton. But if he does not believe that
" Oh! to sustain it till the strength be he is a poet of the highest order--next to that where Milton sits supreme or
To which so earnestly my soul aspires; sole—then he must be a great ninny. No hope have I but in His mighiy aid For who, short of a great poet or a Who bore the bard of Paradise to hea. great ninny, would “ for many years entertain the design of writing a nur- And ture disclosed to him such scenes rative poem on some great event in the sublime, history of man"-keep searching the And glorious wonders, secrets fit for gods, s annals of mankind” for an event As human thought had ne'er before con. * not only great in its character, but ceived.
Assist me, Thou, whom in his matchless you would wonder to behold how they song,
clear the chimneys, and keep soaring With such acceptance, that great bard and soaring, as if it were not altogeinvoked.
ther inconceivable that they might Fain would I hope that 'tis from thee even settle down halfway up Arthur's proceeds
Seat. The keen desire that animates my soul,
But to return more immediately to A task so high and venturous to attempt, the Doctor. “ This was the subject," My song which to thy glory I devote," &c. hegoes on to say, " that appeared
to me Perhaps all this, and a good deal the best calculated of any yet unsung more of the same sort, had as well be to impart dignity and interest to a naromitted in a second edition. Here rative poem. After due deliberation, are some lines that may be allowed to I had the boldness to adopt it, although remain.
I was fully sensible of the difficulty of "'Tis that fond wish for an enduring doing justice to a theme of such mag
It was certainly one exalted
and sublime enough for the exercise Which urges every warm aspiring mind To works of excellence and deeds of praise. of poetic talents of the highest order, I feel it now o'ercome the lethargy
and poetic ambition of the most fervid
character. In which my slothful muse has long been
It presented a field in bound;
which the most active imagination Now, with unwonted courage, it defies
could freely range, limited only by The terrors of derision's bitter taunt,
the dictates of reason and the laws of And that most dreaded doom, the public possibility.” “Nay, it had," quoth the
Doctor, “one advantage which Milton Which grasps and mangles daring vanity." did not find in his mighty theme : it
The Doctor complains of his « dor- supplied abundant occasion for the dismant fancy,” hiss indolence," his play of human nature in its fallen "lethargy," and his “sloth ;” and, true the Eleventh Book of Paradise Lost ?
Did the Doctor never read it is, that since the publication of some
In studying the annals of mankind, presentation copies of his Pleasures
the Doctor saw one subject unapof Friendship, he has not contributed largely to our national poetry; but now propriated by the Epic Muse;" but he
afterwards tells us, that whether - the “ Bold and determined, now my spirit title epic, according to the scholastic spreads,
meaning of the word, be awarded to Adventurous pinions for an arduous flight, this poem, is a matter of no imporMore arduous than has oft been tried by tance, provided its readers derive enAnd with due strength successfully at- joyment from its perusal. My great tained."
aim having been to produce an inte
resting poem on an interesting subject, The most difficult department in the I feel but little concern as to what art of flying, is that which embraces the class of poetical productions the work action of the wings in the first essays shall be assigned.” This is hardly of the fowl-be he anceps or anser fair--for the author of The Antediluto assoilzie himself from the encum- vians could not have been ignorant of brance of the earth. Once up, he has the existence of James Montgomery's no real ground for uneasiness about World before the Flood. It is not an coming down, especially if he has the epic poem ; but it is an “interesting sense to go large—before the wind- poem," on the subject which the Doc
goose-winged,” and never attempt tor says was unsung-and it is a narto tack. We have seen fowls of the rative poem. Byron's Heaven and earth enabled, by adopting such pre Earth_if we mistake not-is about cautions, to keep company with fowls the Antediluvians -- so is Moore's of the air, and perform more than re- Loves of the Angels so is Reade's spectably
Wanderings of Cain; and Heraud's “An arduous flight,
Judgment of the Flood is an epic. In More arduous than has oft been tried by
no sense of the word, then, could it
be truly said that the subject_was but the difficulty, we repeat, in geta unsung ; it had been sung in the Engting off their feet, webbed or other. lish language-lyrically, narratively, wise, “ lies in the first step towards any dramatically, and epicly-and in many aerialundertaking;' that featachieved, other tongues unknown to the Doc
tor, but nevertheless openly spoken Therefore, when you say, “ the by diverse nations. The Doctor, plan pursued in this work was not on that memorable first of April—to adopted from any desire for singuwhich “our free shepherds give a larity, but simply from an opinion grosser name”-in the pride of his that the best mode of constructing an heart, discovered a mare's nest. edifice of any description is to com
“ In regard to the plan of this work, mence at the foundation," you forget the events are related in their natural that body is not soul - matter not order, as they succeed each other in spirit; that Michael Angelo hung a point of time. I preferred this method stone dome on the air ; that a poemto that of the stale and easy artifice Paradise Lost—is like the starry heaprescribed by the schools, for preser. vens revolving on an axis, to which ving what is technically called the time and space — mere circumstantial • unity of the action,' by beginning accidents — are obedient - and at the in the middle of the story, and causing bidding of the beautiful, which is illisome of the personages to occupy a
mitable, “ hide their diminished heads” large portion of the work, by relating - withdrawing from the mind's emanterior events.” The worthy Doctor pire, that owns them not, and extinknows nothing of the prescriptions of guishes or restores them at the como the schools." In no narrative or mand of its own sovereign will, emaepic poem--spoken of in “ the nating from the Will that generated schools”-do any “personages occupy the universe. a large portion of the work, by relating Over and above all that, you never anterior events.” Heavens! can he can have seen an old woman knitting mean to find fault with
a worsted stocking—for with her
needles she takes the initial stitch far “ Infandum, regina, jubes renovare dolo.
up the ham, and finishes with the toerem?" Homer employs the "stale and easy mode of constructing an edifice of this
“simply from an opinion that the best artifice" of beginning in the middle description is not to commence at the or rather near the end of the Tale
foundation." of Troy divine. Milton - but, oh
“ Scholars"-quoth the Doctordear! Dr M Henry! would you clap
may censure this deviation from padlocks on the mouths of the fallen epic rule; but they must decide that the angels in Hell, or of the unfallen in work is an epic, before they can subHeaven or in Paradise ? – Interdict ject it to the compass and square, by Raphael from holding that “ celestial which they have been taught to colloquy divine” with Adam in the
measure the merit of such a performbower ?_Eve ever and anon going and coming ; but never, when away, trivial for lengthened discussion."
This, however, is a topic too without the image of the first of men The Doctor should tell us plainly on her soul !
whether or no his Antediluvians be As to the order of time—it is good
an epic. He chose the subject, be-no order can be better ; but there
cause it had not been appropriated are two kinds of times_believe us
by the Epic Muse. An epic poem is imperfectly as we now express our
an edifice and an edifice cannot be selves-outward and inward of the succession of happenings or fallings- and but by a master mason.
built without compass and square
The out of events in nature-among sun, topic is trivial ! Not more so than moon, and stars ---and of the sequences the Solar System. of states of our own souls - creative
“ I write not merely to please the in their immortality, and to them- adepts in syntax, and the initiated in even as to their Maker-but that is a
the Pandects of Aristotle. Such I mystery-present, past, and future, have often found to be but poor judges have interchangeable being, and a
of poetry. Give me for readers those, thousand years are but as one day.
who, without regard to artificial rules “ Stale and easy artifice,” indeed! No-fresh as the life-deep as the law by its influence on their feelings and
and systems, will estimate my work of the stars. Vitality and science ! The human maker initates the Divine fancies; and if they approve, I shall - his works, too, are immortal
be safe in spite of philologists !"
Is the Doctor himself no “ adept in " For he is not a child of Time, syntax?” Syntax-according to Dr But offspring of the Eternal Prime." Johnson-is, 1. A number of things
joined together. “They owe no other poems with hardly an exceptiondependence to the poet than what is are in rhyme; and, so far from moving common to the whole syntax of being.” as if in fetters, they flow freely as Glanville.-2. That part of grammar mountain-born rivers through a hilly which teaches the construction of country to the sea. Why should words. “ I can produce a hundred rhyme have more of “an artificial air” instances to convince any reasonable in “ an extended narrative performman, that they do not so much as ance,” than in an ode or hymn ? All understand common grammar and poetry is artificial and therein lies its syntax."-Swift. Surely the reader, power, and the might of its majesty. as well as the writer, of the Ante- The poet fills our souls with love and diluvians, ought to be “ adepts” in admiration of his beautiful and wondera both kinds of syntax-especially the ful mastery over all the world of words latter ; though we can easily believe -if it be his delight to rhyme his inthat Dr M Henry has often found spirations, it is ours-our ears are such “ adepts" but poor judges of tuned by a few stanzas to the music it poetry. If by the Pandects he means is his will to prefer and to prolongthe Poetics of Aristotle, he has been and in that music we are made to feel more fortunate than us in meeting so that there is an inexhaustible variety frequently with the initiated; but combinations innumerable-and ina
1 probably he alludes to some other conceivable by us till we heard them work of the Stagyrite ; for if he do through them they seem to speak not, there is not even the shadow of a to our experiences of sweet or solemn meaning in—"if they approve, I shall sounds to awaken reminiscences of be safe in spite of philologists. delight or awe felt in some other world
The Doctor then enters into some softly do they touch, or explanation of the principles on which strongly do they smite, the chords that he has constructed his versification. in every human heart are ready to “ I have written it in blank verse, be- respond to the breath of genius—" airs cause I conceive that species of verse from heaven.” to be more suitable than rhyme for a “ The composition of the following long and narrative work. The fre- work, it will be easily perceived, is quent recurrence of similar sounds not particularly modelled after that of which constitutes rhyme, however any preceding author.” The Doctor ornamental and agreeable in short says he does not mention that as ens productions, becomes, from its mono- titling him to credit ; for that, in a tony, fatiguing in works of much literary composition, he feels that it length. Rhyme has, besides, an arti- would be more difficult for him to imi. ficial air, which does not suit well tate others, than to follow the direcwith the freedom and ease required in tion of his own views and impulses. an extended narrative performance. It “ As I permitted my thoughts to also causes the work to move more arise spontaneously from my subject, slowly, as if it were in fetters, than so I permitted my language to flow comports well with the usual impa- spontaneously from my thoughts." tience of a reader who is interested in Is is not easy to imagine a happier the events narrated." We have not frame of mind than this-when all Dr Johnson's abhorrence of blank that is necessary to the production of verse - on the contrary, we love it “ an extended narrative poem,” is to dearly-when it is good ; but poor permit it to arise, and go to press. blank verse is even the poorest of all * By this means I was enabled to avoid poorest things—and such, we fear, is the singularity on the one hand, and I blank verse of the Antediluvians, or hope I have avoided all appearance of the World Destroyed, But, before we imitation on the other.” Besides, he come to that, let us be allowed to say is of opinion, that the blank verse of a word or two in season for “ the fre- Milton, or Young, or Thomson, would quent occurrence of similar sounds
one and all have been equally unsuitwhich constitutes rhyme.” The proof able for such a poem as The Antediof the pudding is in the eating of it- luvians. That of Milton is “magniand who in his senses ever wished that ficently epic, but so consecrated by the Ariosto, or Tasso, os Camoens, or halo of veneration which surrounds it, Spenser, or Wieland, had written in that I dared not approach it;" and blank verse ? All great narrative further, “ if I had adopted any of its
peculiarities on account of my subject, sedate, and didactic dogs, while “I] perI should have been accused by thought, mit my thoughts to arise spontaneously less critics of imitating it.”. That of from my subject, and my language to Thomson he considered “too diffuse flow spontaneously from my thoughts," and florid"--of Young, “too antithetical and thus produce "versification, which, and sententious”-of Akenside, “too it will be easily perceived, is not parexcursive and full of complication”. ticularly modelled after that of any of Cowper, "too sedate and didactic” preceding author.” --for his subject, The Antediluvians, And what thinks the Doctor of the or the World Destroyed.
style or blank verse of his contempoWe suspect that the Doctor laboured raries ? “A description of blank verse under a pretty considerable confusion of a more loose character and languid of ideas while inditing the above movement than that of either of those caused by the affliction called in Scot- writers, has been introduced into our land stupefication of the head. His language, by the poets of a well-known intention was to characterise “ the modern school, who, ever since the excellence of the versification of each commencement of the present century, of our great English writers of blank have been labouring to revolutionize verse," but, at the same time, to show our literature, and to infuse into our that the versification of none of them minds a poetical taste different from was suitable for his work--whereas, that which we inherited from our fahe says not a syllable about their blank thers, and to which every poet who has verse, but maunders of their style become the permanent favourite of and of what he conceives to be its mankind, has conformed his produce characteristics. The verse of Milton, tions. If to the slow. moving and he says, is “magnificently epic ;' and spiritless style of this new school, there so far well; but in the next sentence, be any resemblance in the versification without being in the least aware that of the following poem, I am as une he has shifted the subject, he says,- conscious of it, as I am incredulous of " the style of none of our other poets ;' the power of any innovators to infuse and deals out his too this, and his too a new poetical taste into the mind of that, as profusely as if he were the man.” spokesman at a consultation. It must Now, Doctor, chuck yourself under be mighty pleasant to snub in this way a the chin with your left, and with your series of great poets, all the while com- right tickle your organ of self-esteem; placently stroking your own chin. We and then, let us gently tap your dea admire The Seasons, Jemmy, but your velopment with the padded horn of the style, however well suited to them, is too Crutch, now on the peace establishflorid and diffuse for our Antediluvians, ment. Mark! the Pleasures of Imagination You mean Wordsworth, Southey, do you credit--but your style, allow and Coleridge? Well, then, and you us to whisper in your ear, is too ex- think their blank verse distinguished cursive and full of amplification for the by the same characteristics ? Well, World Destroyed. "Ned, you are a then, your ears are leather-not buck nightingale, “ most musical, ost skin breeches-leather-but shoe-leamelancholy," but your style, our ther—but not of the shoe-leather moralizing youth, in the Night which upper-leathers are composed Thoughts, is too antithetical and sen- but of the leather which is dedicat tentious--indeed it is—for “a long to soles-double-soles, with tack narrative poem, on a subject in the (Scottice,sparables,) in which the angler annals of mankind still unappropriated fords the Tweed, waist-deep, yet hy the epic muse." Bill, my boy, you stumbleth not once among the cobles have completed your Task cleverly, and till hegain the opposite bank-abroomy there is one sugar-plum for yourself slope, crowned by an old Keep, dilapiand another for Mary Unwin, but dated, but not seen to be so, in its your style is “ too sedate and didactic" bower of elms. for a theme so “ amply magnificent The worthy Doctor speaks of a and universally interesting” as “ THE “poetical taste which weinherited from FOTUNES AND CATASTROPHE OF THE our forefathers." Who were our foreANTEDILUVIAN World.” So get along, fathers ?-Chaucer, Spenser, Shakye diffuse, florid, antithetical, senten- speare, Milton, Dryden, Pope, Gray, tious, excursive, full-of-amplification, Collins, Thomson, Goldsmith, Aken