« PreviousContinue »
or countenance fill up the chasm? Was the eye silent ? Did you narrowly look ? I looked only at the stop watch, my lord, Excellent observer!
And what of this new book, the whole world makes such a rout about? Oh, 'tis out of all plumb, my lord quite an irregular thing! Not one of the angles at the four corners was a right angle. I had my rule and compasses, my lord, in my pocket. Excellent critic!
And for the epic poem, your lordship bade me look at --upon taking the length, breadth, height and depth of it, and trying them at home upon an exact scale of Bossu's, 'tis out, my lord, in every one of its dimensions.Admirable connoisseur !
And did you step in, to take a look at the grand picture, in your way back? 'Tis a melancholy daub, my Jord; not one pripciple of the pyramid in any one group! And what a price! For there is nothing of the coloring of Titian--the expression of Rubens--the grace of Raphael--the purity of Dominichino--the corregioscity of Corregio-the learning of Poussin the airs, of Guido--the taste of the Carrachis--or the grand contour of Angelo!
Grant me patience ! Of all the cants which are canted, in this canting world--though the cant of bypocrisy may be the worst--the caut of criticism is the most tormenting! I would go fifty miles on foot to kiss the hand of that man, whose generous heart will give up the reins of his imagination into his author's hands, be pleased, he knows not why, and cares net wherefore.
XII.--Parollel between Pope and Dryden.--JOHNSON. TN acquired knowledge, the superiority must be allow
ed to Dryden, whose education was more scholastic, and who, before he became an author, had been allowed more time for study, with better means of information. His mind has a larger range, and he collects his images and illustrations from a more extensive circumference of Science. Dryden knew more of man, in bis nature; and Pape, in his local manners. The notions of Dryden were formed by comprehensive speculation; those of Pope, by minute attention. There is more ignity in the knowledge of Dryden, and more certainty in that of Pope.
Poetry was not the sole praise of either; for both ex. celled likewise in prose: But Pope did not borrow his prose from his predecessor. The style of Dryden is capricious and varied; that of Pope is cautious and upi. form: Dryden obeys the motions of his own mind: Pope constrains his mind to his own rules of composition.Dryden is sometimes vehement and rapid; Pope is always smooth, uniform and gentle. Dryden's page is a Datural field, rising into inequalities, and diversified by the varied exuberance of abundant vegetation ; Pope's is the velvet lawn, shaven by the scythe, and levelled by the roller.
Of genius—that power that constitutes a poet; that quality, without which judgment is cold and knowledge is inert; that energy which collects, combines, amplifies and animates the superiority must, with some hesitation, be allowed to Dryden. It is not to be inferred, that of this poetical vigor, Pope had only a little, because Dry. den had more ; for every other writer, since Milton, must give place to Pope ; and even of Dryden it must be said, that if he has brighter paragraphs, he has not better poems. Dryden's performances were always hasty; either excited by some external occasion, or extort. ed by domestic necessity ; he composed without consideration, and published without correction. What his mind could supply at call, or gather in one excursion, was all that he sought and all that he gave. The dilato. ry caution of Pope enabled him to condense his sentiments, to multiply his images, and to accumulate all that study might produce, or chance might 'supply. If the flights of Dryden therefore are higher, Pope continues longer on the wing. If of Dryden's fire the blaze is brighter; of Pope's the heat is more regular and constant. Dryden often surpasses expectation, and Pope never falls below it. Dryden is read with frequent as. tonishment, and Pope with perpetual delight.
XIII.-Story of Le Fever. -STERNE. T was sometime in the summer of that year in which I Dendermond was taken by the allies, when my uncle Toby was one evening getting his supper, with Trim sit
LESSONS, [Part I. ting behind him, at a small sideboard - I say sitting for in consideration of the corporal'a lame knee (which sometimes gave him exquisite pain)-when my uncle Toby dined or supped alone, he would never suffer the corporal to stand: And the poor fellow's veneration for his master was such, that, with a proper artillery, my uncle Toby could have taken Dendermond itself, with less trouble than he was able to gain this point over him; for many a time when my uncle Toby supposed the corporal's leg was at rest, he would look back, and detect him standing behind him, with the most dutiful respect; this bred more little squabbles betwixt them, than all other causes, for five and twenty years together.
He was one evening sitting thus at his supper, when the landlord of a little inn in the village came into the parlor, with an empty phial in his hand, to beg a glass or two of sack : 'Tis for a poor gentleman-I think of the army, said the landlord, who has been taken ill at my house four days ago, and has neyer held up his head since, or bad a desire to taste any thing till just now, that he has a fancy for a glass of sack, and a thin toast.-66 I think,' says he, taking his hand from his forehead It would comfort me."
If I could neither beg, borrow, nor buy such a thing -added the landlord, I would almost steal it for the poor gentleman, he is so ill.--I hope he will still mend, continued he-we are all of us concerned for him. : . Thou art a good natured soul, I will answer for thee, cried my vincle Toby; and thou shalt drink the poor gentleman's health in a glass of sack thyself— and take a couple of bottles with my service, and tell him he is heartily welcome to them, and to a dozen more, if they will do him good.
Though I am persuaded, said my uncle Toby, as the landlord shut the door, he is a very compassionate fellow, Trim-yet I cannot help entertaining a high opinion of his guest too; there must be something more than com. mon in him, that, in so short a time, should win so much upon the affections of his host.--And of his whole family, added the corporal, for they are all concerned for him. Step after him, said nay uncle Toby-do Trim, and ask if he knows his name.
- I have quite forgot it, truly, said the landlord, coming back into the parlor with the corporal-but I can ask his son again. Has he a son with him, then ? said my uncle Toby. A boy, replied the landlord, of about eleven or twelve years of age ;-but the poor creature has tasted almost as little as his father; he does nothing but mourn and lament for him, night and day. He has not stirred from the bed side these two days.
My uncle Toby laid down his knife and fork, and thrust his plate from before him, as the landlord gave him the account: And Trim, without being ordered, took them away, without saying one word, and in a few min. utes after, brought him his pipe and tobacco.
Trim! 'said my uncle Toby, I have a project in my head, as it is a bad night, of wrapping myself up warm in my roquelaure, and paying a visit to this poor gentleman. Your honor's roquelaure, replied the corporal, has not once been had on since the night before your honor received your wound, when we mounted guard in the trenches before the gate of St. Nicholas ;-and besides, it is so cold and rainy a night, that, what with the roque. laure, and what with the weather, it will be enough to give your honor your death. I fearso, replied my uncle Toby; but I am not at rest in my mind, Trim, since the account the landlord has given me I wish I had not known so much of this affair-added my uncle Toby-or that I had known more of it:-How shall we manage it? Leave it, an't please your, honor, to me, quoth the corporal; I'll take my hat and stick, and go to the house, and reconnoitre, and act accordingly; and I will bring your. honor a full account in an hour. Thou shalt go, Trim, said my uncle Tohy, and here's a shilling for thee to drink with his servant. I shall get it all out of him, said the corporal, shutting the door.
It was not till my unole Toby had knocked the ashes out of his third pipe, that corporal Trim returned from the ion, and gave bim the following account:
I despaired at first, said the corporal, of being able to bring back your honor any kind of intelligence concerning the poor sick lieutenant-Is he of the army, then? said my uncle Toby.--He is, said the corporal - And in what regiment ? said my uncle Toby-I'll tell your hon
or, replied the corporal, every thing straight forward, as I learnt it.--Then, Trim, I'll fill another pipe, said my uncle Toby, and not interrupt thee ;-90 sit down at thy ease, Trim, in the window seat, and begin thy story again. The corporal made his old bow, which generally spoke as plain as a bow could speak it, 6 Your honor is good;" and having done that, he sat down, as he was ordered—and began the story to my uncle Toby orer again, in pretty near the same words.
I despaired at first, said the corporal, of being able to bring back any intelligence to your honor, about the lientenant and his son ; for when I asked where the servant was, from whom I made myself sure of knowing eyery thing that was proper to be asked That's a right distinction, Trim, said my uncle Toby-] was answered, an't please your honor, that he had no servant with him. --That he had come to the inn with hired horses;which, upon finding himself unable to proceed to join, I suppose, the regiment) he had dismissed the morning after he came. If I get better, my dear, said he, as he gave his purse to his son to pay the man-we can hire horses from hence. But alas! The poor gentleman will never get from hence, said the landlady to me, for I heard the death-watch all night long ;--and when he dies, the youth, his son, will certainly die with lim; for he is broken hearted alreally.
I was hearing this account, continued the corporal, when the youth came into the kitchen, to order the thin toast the landlord spoke of; but I will do it for my father myself, said the youth. Pray let me save you the trouble, young gentleman, said I, taking up a fork for the purpose, and offering him my chair to sit down upon by the fire, whilst I did it. I beliere sir, said he very modestly, I can please him best myself.--am sure, said I, bis honor will not like the toast the worse for being 'toasted by an old soldier. The youth took hold of my hand and instantly burst into tears. Poor youth! said my uncle Toby-he has been bred up from an infant in the army, and the name of a soldier, Trim, sounded in his ears, like the name of a friend. I wish I had him here.
-I never, in my longest march, said the corporal, had so great a mind to my dinner, as I had to cry with