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superficial German or a dull Frenchman. The Scotch will attribute merit to people of any nation rather than the English; the English have a morbid habit of petting and praising foreigners of any sort, to the unjust disparagement of their own worthies.
You will find this a good gage or criterion of genius,—whether it progresses and evolves, or only spins upon itself. Take Dryden's Achitophel and Zimri, — Shaftesbury and Buckingham; every line adds to or modifies the character, which is, as it were, a-building up to the very last verse; whereas, in Pope's Timon, &c. the first two or three couplets contain all the pith of the character, and the twenty or thirty lines that follow are so much evidence or proof of overt acts of jealousy, or pride, or whatever it may be that is satirized. In like manner compare Charles Lamb's exquisite criticisms on Shakspeare with Hazlitt's round and round imitations of them.
August 7. 1832.
MILTON'S DISREGARD OF PAINTING.
It is very remarkable that in no part of his writings does Milton take any notice of the great painters of Italy, nor, indeed, of painting as an art; whilst every other page breathes his love and taste for music. Yet it is curious that, in one passage in the Paradise Lost, Milton has certainly copied the fresco of the Creation in the Sistine Chapel at Rome. I mean those lines, —
- “ now half appear'd The tawny lion, pawing to get free His hinder parts, then springs as broke from bonds, And rampant shakes his brinded mane;—" &c.*
an image which the necessities of the painter justified, but which was wholly unworthy, in my judgment, of the enlarged powers of the
* Par. Lost, book vii. ver. 463.
poet. Adam bending over the sleeping Eve, in the Paradise Lost *, and Dalilah approaching Samson, in the Agonistes t, are the only two proper pictures I remember in Milton.
-“ so much the more His wonder was to find unwaken’d Eve With tresses discomposed, and glowing cheek, As through unquiet rest: he on his side Leaning, half raised, with looks of cordial love Hung over her enamour'd, and beheld Beauty, which, whether waking or asleep, Shot forth peculiar graces; then, with voice Mild, as when Zephyrus on Flora breathes, Her hand soft touching, whisper'd thus: Awake, My fairest,” &c.
Book v. ver. 8.
+ “ But who is this, what thing of sea or land ?
Female of sex it seems,
August 9. 1832.
BAPTISMAL SERVICE.- JEWS’ DIVISION OF
THE SCRIPTURE. — SANSKRIT.
I THINK the baptismal service almost perfect. What seems erroneous assumption in it to me, is harmless. None of the services of the church affect me so much as this. I never could attend a christening without tears bursting forth at the sight of the helpless innocent in a pious clergyman's arms.
The Jews recognized three degrees of sanctity in their Scriptures : — first, the writings of Moses, who had the autokla; secondly, the Prophets; and, thirdly, the Good Books. Philo, amusingly enough, places his works somewhere between the second and third degrees.
The claims of the Sanskrit for priority to the Hebrew as a language are ridiculous.
August 11. 1832.
HESIOD. – VIRGIL. - GENIUS METAPHY
SICAL.- DON QUIXOTE.
I like reading Hesiod, meaning the Works and Days. If every verse is not poetry, it is, at least, good sense, which is a great deal to say.
There is nothing real in the Georgics, except, to be sure, the verse. * Mere didactics of practice, unless seasoned with the personal interests of the time or author, are inexpressibly dull to me. Such didactic poetry as
* I used to fancy Mr. Coleridge paulo iniquior Virgilio, and told him so: to which he replied, that, like all Eton men, I swore per Maronem. This was far enough from being the case; but I acknowledge that Mr. C.'s apparent indifference to the tenderness and dignity of Virgil excited my surprise. — Ed.