« ПредишнаНапред »
succedaneum, the deficiency would be amply supplied. This long lugubrious poem is occupied with little else than continued complaints of the miseries of the present life of man; yet such is the talent of the author, that, in spite of its eternal sermonizing, the work continues to be read with pleasure. It cannot be denied that his composition is opposed to every rule of sound criticism: his metaphors are extravagant; his hyperboles are astounding; and his antitheses are never-ending;-but the interest is preserved by the numerous and brilliant corruscations of genius, and the frequent occurrence of passages of the pathetic and the sublime.
Darwin, in his Temple of Nature,' expatiates, like Young, on the evils of human life, and like him, too, he offers his 'Consolation,' although it is of a very different kind. The Botanic Garden,' of the same author, is the finest didactic poem in this, or perhaps any other language. The poet has completely succeeded in his object, which was "to enlist Imagination under the banners of Science."
Thomson's Seasons' can scarcely be termed didactic: they are almost purely descriptive. The descriptions are generally true to nature, and often splendid; but, having no chain of connexion, and every substantive being loaded with
epithets, the mind gets bewildered amidst the multitude of words.
Satires are usually included under the head of didactic poems; but every class of poems may include the Satirical. Hudibras' is a satirical Epic, and The Rehearsal' is a satirical Drama. Johnson's 'London,' and 'The Vanity of Human Wishes,' which, though professing to imitate Juvenal, may be considered as originals, are excellent models of what satire ought to be. It is the class, the crime, or the folly, which is the proper object of attack, and not the individual.
There is a class of didactic and descriptive poems which may be termed the sentimental. Such are The Pleasures of Memory,' 'The Pleasures of Hope,' and 'The Scenes of Infancy:' all three, deservedly, in high estimation.
The Deserted Village' and 'The Traveller' preceded those now mentioned, and stand on too high an eminence to regard either our praise or our censure. Goldsmith was the poet of nature and of the poor. The cold-blooded doctrines of the modern political economists were to him unknown. The word country, in his vocabulary, included others besides the rich and the powerful. That compulsory emigration, which the ignorant and heartless statesmen of modern times would enforce by legal enactments, is feelingly described and deplored.
THE EMPIRE OF POETRY.
This empire is a very large and populous country. It is divided, like some of the countries on the continent, into the higher and lower regions.
The upper region is inhabited by grave, melancholy, and sullen people who, like other mountaineers, speak a language very different from that of the inhabitants of the valleys. The trees in this part of the country are very tall, having their tops among the clouds. Their horses are superior to those of Barbary, being fleeter than the winds. Their women are so beautiful as to eclipse the star of day.
The great city which you see in the maps, beyond the lofty mountains, is the capital of this province, and is called EPIC. It is built on a sandy and ungrateful soil which few take the trouble to cultivate. The length of the city is many days journey, and it is otherwise of a tiresome extent. On leaving its gate we always meet with men who are killing one another; whereas, when we pass through Romance which forms the suburbs of Epic, and which is larger than the city itself, we meet with groups of happy people who are hastening to the shrine of Hymen.
The Mountains of Tragedy are also in the province of Upper Poetry. They are very steep, with dangerous precipices; and, in consequence, many of its people build their habitations at the bottom of the hills, and imagine themselves high enough. There have been found on these mountains some very beautiful ruins of ancient cities; and, from time to time, the materials are carried lower down to build new cities; for they now never
build nearly so high as they seem to have done in former times.
The Lower Poetry is very similar to the swamps of Holland. Burlesque is the capital, which is situated amidst stagnant pools. Princes speak there as if they had sprung from the dunghill, and all the inhabitants are buffoons from their birth.
Comedy is a city which is built on a pleasant spot: but it is too near to Burlesque, and its trade with this place has much degraded the manners of its citizens.
I beg that you will notice in the map, those vast solitudes which lie between High and Low Poetry. They are called the Desarts of Common Sense. There is not a single city in the whole of this extensive country, and only a few cottages scattered at a distance from one another. The interior of the country is beautiful and fertile, but you need not wonder that there are so few who chuse to reside in it; for the entrance is very rugged on all sides; the roads are narrow and difficult; and there are seldom any guides to be found who are capable of conducting strangers :
Besides, this country borders on a province where every person prefers to remain, because it appears to be very agreeable, and saves the trouble of penetrating into the Desarts of Common Sense. It is the province of False Thoughts. Here we always tread on flowers,-every thing seems enchanting. But its greatest inconvenience is, that the ground is not solid: the foot is always sinking in the mire, however careful one may be. Elegy is the capital. Here the people do nothing but complain; but it is said that they find a pleasure in their complaints. The city is surrounded with woods and rocks, where the inhabitant walks alone, making them the confidants of
his secrets; of the discovery of which he is so much afraid, that he often conjures those woods and rocks never to betray them.
The Empire of Poetry is watered by two rivers. One is the River Rhyme, which has its source at the foot of the Mountains of Reverie. The tops of some of these mountains are so elevated that they pierce the clouds. Those are called the Points of sublime Thought. Many climb there by extraordinary efforts; but almost the whole tumble down again, and excite, by their fall, the ridicule of those who admired them at first without knowing why. There are large platforms almost at the bottom of these mountains, which are called the Terraces of low thoughts. There are always a great number of people walking upon them. At the end of these Terraces are the Caverns of deep Reverie. Those who descend into them do so insensibly; being so much enwrapt in their meditations that they enter the caverns before they are aware. These caverns are perfect labyrinths, and the difficulty of getting out again could scarcely be believed by those who have not been there. Above the Terraces we sometimes meet with men walking in easy paths which are termed the Paths of natural thoughts; and these gentlemen ridicule, equally, those who try to scale the Points of sublime thoughts as well as those who grovel on the Terraces below. They would be in the right if they could keep undeviatingly in the Paths of natural thoughts; but they fall almost instantly into a snare, by entering into a splendid palace which is at a very little distance. It is the Palace of Badinage. Scarcely have they entered when, in place of the natural thoughts which they formerly had, they dwell upon such only as are mean and vulgar. Those, however, who never abandon the Paths