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for Pride, Ammon and Osiris for the diviner | conquered by impaited Divinity, the epic principles in man; or whether the greater would be pure. As it now moves, the angods, the powers of nature and the soul, gels, with their beauty and their strength, were clothed by the sages with the forms are unreal phantoms, and the Deity in perand attributes of humanity, -as in Thoth, son is the Conqueror; while Satan and his understanding, in Osiris beneficence, in Phtha peers have the attributes and consequently will and justice, in Ammon innate dignity, the dramatic value of persons. In Milton's
- let the learned dispute. Certain it is, no angels there is no Will. All the freedom true epic of mythology and cosmogony is with Hell. These angels seem passive; could be constructed without a philosophical almost soulless. Abdiel alone has real charknowledge of the gods.
acteristics. By this arrangement, the poem Under the character of the Titans, in this į loses one half the interest of true epic. If poem of Keats, the primeval empire of pas- we believe that the genius of Keats would sion is represented. Cronos, the dethroned at length have proved equal to what he Saturn, is that power of necessity and cir- undertook, his poem would then have been cumstance, the sole deity of the unenlight- more perfect in its frame-work than the ened mind ; venerable indeed, beloved of Paradise Lost; and certainly it was far more the senses and of the passions, but succumb- philosophical in its design. His gods, who ing always to that divine reason in man to were to conquer, would have shown in action which the accidents of life or death are in- the perfections of the higher reason. By different.
wisdom, by strength of will, and by reliance How majestic the subject of this poem ! on the Eternal
, after many reverses, they Hyperion, the God of Light, the pride and would have subdued, and again buried the beauty of the natural world, leads the war rebellious powers. Both literature and phiagainst the new dynastry of Reason, and of losophy suffered an irretrievable loss in a Jove, Assembled in their caverns, at the mind capable of conceiving and executing roots of the volcanoes, the Giants of Nature so majestic a design. hold a gloomy council.
But it is idle to waste conjecture; let us The spirit of Milton presided over the endeavor to appreciate the merits of the conception of this council. But who can fragment. At the conclusion of the second say whether a mythological epic must not book is a description of Hyperion entering of necessity resemble all others of its name? the couucil of the Titans :The elements of all are simple and the same. If the poem is mythologie, to have a human Pervaded all the beetling gloomy steeps,
Suddenly a splendor like the morn interest the right must conquer pride, as all the sad spaces of oblivion, among men. The honor of the superior and every gulph and every chasm old, powers must be vindicated; the right of And every height and every sullen depth, reason over the wild and furious democrats And all the everlasting cataracts,
Voiceless, or hoarse with loud tormented streams; of nature must be established by aristocraty And all the headlong torrents far and near, of Character.* Herein would lie all the Mantled before in darkness and huge shade, dignity of the poem, that Jove and his com- Now saw the light and made it terrible. peers conquer by right of Character, and His bright feet touched, and there he staid to view vindicate that right in themselves. And if The misery his brilliance had betrayed mythology is merely an impersonation of To the most hateful seeing of itseli. the inferior and superior powers, the mytho- Golden his hair, of short Numidian curl; logic epic is but one subject, and must be Regal his shape majestic; a vast shade
In midst of his own brightness, like the bulk ever treated from the same point of view.
Of Memnon's image at the set of sun In Milton's poem, the angels of God con- To one who travels from the dusking East: quer by divine authority; and the weakness Sighs, too, as mournful as that Memnon's harp, of the poem is the introduction of the Deity He uttered, while his hands contemplative in person. Had the divine Source itseif He pressed together
, and in silence stood. been left in darkness, and Heaven set against At sight of the dejected King of Day.”
Despondence seized again the fallen Gods Hell, equal in attributes, but conquering or
It strikes some readers, whether justly we * Character—“mark;" as we say, “a man of know not, on the reading of this fragment, merk."
that there is in it no promise of action.
There is a deficiency of the thews and sin- The appearance of the Miltonic feeling in ews. There is nothing war-like in Hyperion; “ Hyperion” has been alluded to by some his hands are pressed together in contempla- critics as a fault. But is not the earliest evitive silence; and such hands, on such an dence of artistic ability in imitation? Great occasion, pressed together, would not have artists have indeed distinguished themselves grasped the sword of empire. How ener- | by an original nature of their own, but have getic, on the other hand, and impregned they not equally proved their merits by the with restless vigor, is the first appearance of skill and taste with which they have reprothe fallen Archangel in the poem of Mil- duced the originality of others ? Unaided ton:
by the faculty of imitation, and even of ap
propriation, originality decliness into lame“ He with his horrid crew
ness and obscurity. We know that the eduLay vanquished, rolling in the fiery gulph, Confounded though immortal.
cation of a great artist is begun by a close
acquaintance with the works of his predecesRound he throws his baleful eyes,
sors, as well as of Nature. The most intiThat witnessed huge affliction and dismay, mate friendship with Nature avails nothing Mixed with obdurate pride and steadfast hate. without the power of imitation, and though At once, as far as angel's ken, he views
this representative faculty be given to the The dismal situation waste and wild.
artist in never so great perfection, yet, as it
is of all the most artificial, and the most inThus Satan, talking to his nearest mate,
telligent in its mode of action, so it requires With head uplift above the wave, and eyes That sparkling blazed; his other parts besides, the greatest accumulation, and experience, Prone on the flood extended long and large, and aids to shorten and improve its proLay floating many a rood.”
The advancement, that is to say, the digMilton is easier to read than Keats. The nity of a school of artists appears chiefly in description is rapid and concise. There is their choice of subjects ; for we know that no description without motion ; a quality nature is not all representable, but only cernecessary to the epic, since by dwelling too tain scenes, times, phases : phases of beauty, long upon a part
, the interest is lost, and sublimity; times or seasons of richest develimagination flags. The description must opment; scenes illustrating what is moral move forward, or it falls ; it must soar and
or immortal in humanity. Representative soar, and continually soar, passing mountains art will not allow its powers to be wasted and rivers at a wave of its mighty wings with impunity upon the tame, the sensual, Indeed, it may be ventured, that Keats or the vulgar of common life. The selectiori would have failed in the Hyperion for want of its subjects is therefore a moral occupation, of action. His figures are contemplative. and of a high order, suitable to the leisure The Muse pauses, as she creates them, and of cultivated and heroic ages, and unsuitable, steps backward to meditate their fair pro- because of baseness and incapacity, to those portions. The poems of Milton, on the con- that are barbarous and mechanical. The trary, even his earliest, have a vivacity, a lessons of the artist, in overcoming his greatlively spring and movement, which give est difficulty, the choice of subject, come to promise of the epic.
him at first through his predecessors. He Come, but keep thy wonted state
imitates nature, it is true, but he looks at With even step, and musing gait.” nature through the eyes of those who have
preceded and aroused him. Every artistic He will not suffer even Melancholy herself age refines upon former ages, holding to a to sit contemplative; she must pace forward. certain taste, and improving the “ school." Hardly a line is deficient in the activity The degeneracy of art appears in a mean or either of thought or of motion; the mark novel choice of subject; in eccentricity of of a genius essentially and powerfully epical. manner; in a close and studied imitation of In Keats, on the other hand, there is every insignificances. The two-fold imitation of where flaccidity and weakness ; his heat is previous art and of nature goes on ripening not the heat of motion but of emotion; he to a certain point, the height or perfection of has the melancholy of Hamlet, dreaming of the school; and then follows a gradual dea purpose, but never moving toward it. cline, when imitation predominates over
design, when genius fades into sentimental- every melody which he hears; indifferent ism, and the artist becomes either an eccen- whether it come first through himself or tric or a tame and laborious imitator.
through another. Wherever the greatest Poesy as well as painting has grown by beauty is to be found, he makes his study. accretion as well as by invention. As it re- As in the circle of twenty-four hours there quired a Giotto and a Cimabue to prepare are but two times, the evening and the mornthe ground for a Da Vinci, so it required an ing, which give the highest beauty to scenEnnius to do the same for a Virgil. Imitation ery; as in the circle of the year, reaches out from school to school, over en- of vegetation alone, and in human life, the tire epochs and centuries. Homer precedes point of transition from youth to adult age; Ennius and Virgil; and Virgil's Æneid gives as these alone give the highest instances of form and beauty to the poems of Dante. beauty, and they too at long and rare interThe influence of Phidias is seen again in vals,
,-one among a thousand meeting the Angelo and Raphael, and something of the ideal of the artistic mind,—it becomes imHebrew grandeur and simplicity reappears possible to go through the entire circle of in the liturgy of the Church of England. nature's beauties, and complete it, in the life In a word, the greatest imitators are the of one artist. Each presents his discovery, greatest artists ; for by the same power that his segment. The discovery of a single peris given them to receive and reproduce the feet beauty immortalizes the original imitasublime and beautiful from nature, they seize tor. Out of the succession of many artists and reproduce the sublimity and beauty of and many schools, the great designer finds their predecessors ; so that the greatest and appropriates almost the entire
sphere of works of art, in painting, poetry, and sculp- moral, intellectual and physical perfection. ture, are those which carry in their lines the The more he appropriates from others, the entire history of art itself. The Christ of more alive is he to the beautiful in Nature Raphael and the Moses of Michael Angelo, herself His studies alternate between her the Satan of Milton and the Hamlet of works and those of men,
As the original Shakspeare, are the best traditions of the observer turns variously toward fields
agree progress of genius from the beginning. able to his feelings, he will naturally addict
The greatest imitator absorbs and sur- himself to congenial models. The pastoral, passes all that have gone before him, as did the epic, the dramatic, and the lyric will Shakspeare, even to the reproduction of the draw by turns, or constantly, the attention morality and sentiment of races who flour of the young and unformed poet. And ished centuries before him, under other reli- when conscious judgment has discovered and gions and other systems of society. Shak- marked the proper and congenial field, the speare's appropriation of his predecessors favorite models are still read and re-read. amounts even to the swallowing and diges- The sculptor, blind and superannuated, sotion of entire works.
laced his genius by passing his hands over Great artists are eclectic, and build upon the antique marble ; the poet, blind and many masters. Like Goethe, in whom the broken in spirit, had read to him the Hebrew eclectic, imitative genius predominated to lyrists and the dramatists of Greece. that degree, his works are a prodigious mass The fashion of this age is greatly for of imitations of every master in letters. Vir- originality, that is to say, for the production gil, Sophocles, Shakspeare, Ovid, Boccaccio, of styles,-new styles in writing, new styles Petrarch, by turns occupy him. From the in thinking, novelty in all things. So much secondary writers of Germany he took away of novelty has appeared within the last centheir proper excellences, by surpassing each tury, men have ceased to be astonished at in his field. Nor was it a blind instinct that things new, and even to be disgusted with prompted him; his imitations, like those of novelty itself. It is perhaps safe to affirm Virgil and Milton, are deliberate and con- that originality cannot be attained by seekscious and profound.
ing for it, but only eccentricity—oddity and The pride of originality can have no place eccentricity, which the great artist avoids as in the spirit of a first-rate artist : he appro- he values his immortality. In art we are priates and assimilates and reproduces in apt to mistake novelty for ingenuity, and new shapes every beauty which he finds, and what is only old, for what is ancient and
enduring. The ocean and the stars of to- | There is no better music, unless it be Shak-
" teeming autumo, big with rich increase,
Bearing the wanton burden of the prime.” original, by virtue of his creative reason. His plasticity adapts itself to new conditions The sensuosity of Keats is the sensuosity of of the universe; his life is the life of a race, Shakspeare and of Milton, and of all great as well as of an individual; his growth not and pure-minded poets who are not rhyming merely from infancy to middle age, and old metaphysicians, but colorists, and masters age, but from barbarism to the highest de- of light and shadow, the great painters of grees of social harmony, and then downward nature. What they deseribe the eye sees, again toward luxury and decay. Literature, the ear hears, the senses feel, the imaginalike the creature of which it is the record of tion embodies. progress, is original only by representing the And yet we cannot rank this admirable age to which it belongs, and not by dis- child of fancy among poets of the first order. covering in its texture the diseases and the The subordinate excellences of a first-rate vanities of an author's mind.
artist, those proper to the early days of When we speak then in future of origin- highest expectation, he seems to have; his ality, we intend only representative, artistic deficiencies are profound. The most aporiginality; true to the time, the persons, proved writers are those who have given and the place which it represents; giving the power of a transcendent representative the very spirit and impress of the age and genius to the embodiment of moral themes. the race, even to the minutest traces of The glory and the punishment of pride ; manners and of speech. To be original, Satan and his fall; the pride of Coriolanus; therefore, it is necessary to live the life, not the rise and ruin of a rebellion in Macbeth; of a recluse, given up to meditation, nor of fastidious jealousy in Othello; the fond and a scholar buried in books, but to unite with foolish tyranny of Lear; these are what we a certain degree of scholarship and specula- intend by “moral themes.” In Keats, a tive thought a large experience of men, and young writer, fancy and imagination took a knowledge of things and their uses. In this the lead, and Character, the great object of age, to be original, it is necessary to be sci- art, fails of its due representation. Had he entific; to be otherwise is to fall behind the lived longer, his full-fed and powerful fancy time. It is necessary also to be political, might perhaps have become the servant and to understand both democracy and mon- instrument of a more elevated purpose. archy.
The victim of a too sensitive and fanciful The strongest characteristic of the poet passion, of which at last he died, he was whose works are before us seems to have equally the slave of an exacting musea been his power of imitation. His admirers muse not married to," but only mistress of will not be offended by the assertion, after “immortal verse.” what has been said in regard to the impor- In Shakspeare's day, when as yet classical tance of the talent of imitation, the left hand criticism was unknown, or at least unused, of genins, of which originality is the right. as we use it, an exuberant and humorous Keats is perhaps the most delicate and suc- fancy might indulge to excess, as in the cessful imitator of modern times. His ap- " Venus and Adonis.” The rough and tenpropriative talent has impressed his critics ; der, the bitter and the sweet, might be but they describe him also as a sensuous poured out together, and let go. The painter because of his rich and soft coloring. stylus was seldom reversed. There was not But is not this quality one of those which then that “lascivious grace in which all ill distinguish the artist from the scene well shows;" there were no Byrons nor painter? Keats writes for the eye and for Moores; the Muse had not yet gone to school the ear: he satisfies the senses indeed ; his to false propriety; but there was a freedom, metres are full, solid, and harmonious; but a rude liberty, and an eager appreciation of he was not a sensualist.
all excellence. “ Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
By the fanciful exuberance of Shakspeare's Close bosom-friend of the all-cheering sun." earlier style, Keats was attracted and over
“One of the three books I have passage of peculiar beauty be read over with with me is Shakspeare's poems," he writes. an appreciative care, from any poet celebrated “I never found so many beauties in the for the beauty of his sentiments. The exsonnets; they seem to be full of fine things, pression of love will be found the great said unintentionally — in the intensity of cause of the pleasure it confers. It may
be working out conceits. Is this to be borne ? the love of country, of home, of kindred, or
of friends ; or it may be the passion which
can exist only between the sexes : whatever • When lofty trees I see barren of leaves, Which erst from heat did canopy the head,
be the form, the soul is love. There are And summer's green all girded up in sheaves,
those who insist that forms and sounds have Borne on the bier with white and bristly head.' a beauty of their own, independent of expres
sion. These argue that the features of the He has left nothing to say about nothing or Grecian sculpture owe their excellence to a any thing.
sensuous beauty devoid of passion. We, on And as the snail, whose tender horns being hit,
the other hand, affirm with Lord Byron, that Shrinks back into his shelly cave with pain, passion is the soul of poetry, and add that And there all smothered up in shade doth sit, there is nothing beautiful in art or nature, Long after, fearing to put forth again;
except as it is a language or a natural symSo at his bloody yiew her eyes are tled,
bol of love. Into the deep dark cabins of her head.'”
Of human beauty, the peculiar attribute It is easy to discover that which attracted is to move love in the beholder; and if, in Keats in the early style of Shakspeare. Of nature, there is any other species of beauty, beauty it has not a trace; the picturing is it charms by resembling or at least by calleven uncouth and repulsive. It is the enor- ing to mind those human traits of sweetness, mous force, the rude strength and power of grace, and harmony, which are proper to the the imagery, the depth of light and shadow, gentle passion, and given to it by the Creathat charm the critical as well as the ingen- tor as its language and expression. How uous reader Keats's observations on the then is it, argue the sensuous critics, that a above lines, written in his twenty-second face in marble, to be beautiful, must be year, in a letter to a friend, are followed by calm ? A face, we answer, may indeed be some lines of his own composition, which calm, and at the same time malignant and imitate the manner he so much admires, and hideous. Calmness is not then the essence show plainly enough under what master he of beauty. Madonnas and Christs are studied.
always calm, but they are full of passionate The early poems of Shakspeare are often love. Nature has certain forms which
repalluded to and quoted by the critics; but it resent, or they would not move, the tender has not yet been distinctly noticed that they passions. The artist discovers and depicts have exerted a more powerful influence than these forms. any others
upon the lyrical poets of the last But there is more in this speculation than century. Coleridge, Keats, Charles Lamb, we shall succeed in expressing. The pasTennyson, Hood, and many others, are sions lie under the governance of certain deeply in their debt. The sonnets of Shak- moral powers: honor, pride, the love of speare, imperfect as they are, have given the praise, modesty, and others; powers either ideal of the English meditative sonnet, as pure or mixed in their character. These distinguished from the Italian. The sonnet wield the sceptre of the heart. The honoraof Shakspeare is our own; the model of a ble man, it is said, regulates his passions, and peculiar style, congenial to a proud and keeps them in check, letting them out freely melancholy race. More than all other verse upon the right occasion, and observing all it expresses that profound love passion, which the rights and equalities of the heart. But has no gallantry in its nature, but is as seri- honor is not the only power which regulates ous as life itself.
the conduct of the passions. Modesty and That it is as essential to the beauty of a pride have also their full exercise. work of art, more especially a poetical one, If the artist has attained a knowledge of to move the passion of love, as it is to its those forms of face or language which exsublimity to excite that of terror, might be press the passions, -as love controlled and shown by a vast array of instances. Let any I dignified by modesty, in the gentler sex,