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which it has been regarded by the comprehensive views of Aristotle. With this object, it is my intention to prosecute my inquiries into its licences through the various parts of quantity into which that great critick has divided the art; and to examine them with respect to the Fable, the Manners, the Sentiments, and the Diction.

Of these constituent parts of the higher poetry, the most considerable is the Fable, as Aristotle has justly decided: this part shall consequently be made the subject of primary discussion. As it has been defined by the critick, it is capable of a twofold consideration; with respect to its incidents, and to their structure in composition. The incidents offer likewise a separate division to our notice; being distinguished into those which are natural and true, and those which are fictitious and marvellous. On these considerations, it seems expedient to ground the following distribution of these inquiries.

Sect. I. Of Incidents, real and probable. Sect. II. Of Incidents, marvellous and fanciful.

Sect. III. Of Arrangement, or Oeconomy.
Sect. IV. Of Manners, and Sentiments.
Sect. V. Of Language, and Versification.


Besides this general distribution of the subject, it is susceptible of a still more minute consideration; as each of these general heads is referable to the separate divisions under which the higher productions of the art are arranged. According to the forementioned division of the incidents of poetry, as real or fictitious, the compositions of the Epopee and Drama are distinguished into the Historick Epopee, and Historick Drama, in the first place; and the Romantick Epos, and Romantick Drama, in the second: the "Pharsalia" of Lucan, and "Richard III.” of Shakespeare, forming an example of the former; the "Orlando" of Ariosto, and Tempest" of Shakespeare, an example of the latter. As occupying a middle rank between both, and partaking of their respective characteristicks, we may distinguish the poetical Epos, and the poetical Drama; including under the former, such works as the "Iliad" of Homer, and " Paradise Lost" of Milton; and under the latter, such works as the "dipus" of Sophocles, and "Othello" of Shakespeare.


Although poetry is susceptible of a still further division, besides that in which it is regarded as epick and dramatick, there seems

to be no necessity for giving it in any other form a distinct consideration in the subjoined essay. With regard to the Sentiments and Diction, as they form equally a part of poetry in every shape, compositions of whatever form, as amenable to the same rules, require no separate examination. The tendency of the subject of any work, or the greater part of its matter, as it happens to be marvellous or true, necessarily determines the character of the production as romantick, historical, or mixed. In this view, it may be considered as forming an episodical part of the higher compositions, and consequently, as being subject, with little exception, to the same rules with respect to its Manners, Incidents, and Arrangement. By this process, the necessity of considering Lyrical and Pastoral compositions, which occupy the next rank to those now specified, appears at once to be precluded. And with regard to the Didactick and Descriptive departments of poetry, there appears to be no reason for instituting a separate class for them, as they seem to admit but of few, if any, licences, independent of those of Sentiment and Language.




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