Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

198 On the Cockney School of Prose Writers.--No. I. [Oci. 1, English bishop, it would have been his debut in the literary world as a macalled heresy; but in an Irish I sup- nufacturer of essays for a jacobinical pose it will pass for a blunder. It is Sunday, newspaper, in the manner, in three parts; the middle oply is pro- as he himself modestly informs us, of perly his own, The first being little the Spectator and Tatler!!: How far better than an extract from Lock, &c. the chaste simplicity and feryent piety of and the last from Clark. He is of the Addison will bear a comparison with the grosser

sort of Arians. He holds the infidel scoffing and ribbald levity of this Holy Ghost to be GABRIEL, and JB- modern tuft hunter, it is not our pursus to be Michael ; in defiance of the pose here to enquire, and we shall there. apostle, who says, “he took not on fore dismiss the “ Round Table," withhimselfe the nature of angels." I appre- out further comment, as an item not hend that the Bp. (who published it mentioned in the indictment we have against the advise of his friends) thought now to prefer against him. Our present that it would make a noise. But he is conversation with this “ learned Themistaken. The world seems disposed ban” will be found chiefly to refer to to overlook and to forget it, unless some a “ certaine daintie and facetious publianswer calls back their attention. cation,” bearing his hand and seal, deno

The EPIGRAM is a pretty one. I shall minated, “ Lectures on the English always be glad to see any thing that has Poets," and purporting to have been your approbation.

delivered by him at the Surrey InstituOne Harris, a gentleman of fortune tion. We shall prove, in the course of in Wiltshire, has published a kind of this and subsequent papers, how totally Universal or Philosophical Grammar, incapacitated Mr. Hazlitt is, on various under the title of HERMES. It has accounts, to wield the iron mace of critimany good things in it, though not cism. He wants two kinds of independcomparable to the Grani. Generale et ence: that of the head and the heart; Raisonnée, of Port Royal. He is such and though he is an excellent "hater," an idolizer of the ancients, that he is (a qualification which, according to his right or wrong, as it happens, and as ideas, is absolutely necessary to indethey lead the way.

pendence, he unfortunately confines his Byrom, of Manchester, a fine genius, disgust to what the more respectable but fanatical even to madness, has pub- part of society would applaud and eslished a poetical Epistle on Enthusiasm : teem. His insane invectives against a in which he has plentifully abused Mid- late illustrious statesman-his imbecile dleton and me; he is too devout to culti- ravings at Mr, Southey, and the convate poetry, otherwise he would have tempt he every where expresses for any excelled in it. He has hit the true thing in the shape of morality and reliepistolary stile. There are many fine gion, may well 'illustrate the truth of strokes, many obscurities, and many this remark, whilst his idolatrous revernegligencies in it. I am, Dear Sir, ence for the hero of Jaffa, Voltaire, and

Your very faithful and affectionate Mr. Leigh Hunt, is a striking proof how Humble Servant, W. WARBURTON. studious, individuals, desirous of being P. P. Jan. 11, 1751-2.

thought respectable, ought to be of doing any thing that may excite bis admiration..

Before we proceed to analyze Mr. No. I.

Hazlitt's first lecture, we shall take leave HAZLITT'S LECTURES.

to offer a few general observations. He OF all the pretenders to the chair of has doubtless a great command of words, critical supremacy, who have sprung up but then they are “full of sound and among us during these last twenty years, fury signifying nothing," and he posMr. William Hazlitt is decidedly the sesses to perfection what the Edinburgh most contemptible. Disqualified, not Reviewers have attributed to Ariosto, only by the superficiality of his attain- namely, “ Antithesis of style," for what ments, but still more so by the profligacy he sare one moment, he flatly contraof his opinions on subjects of religion dicts the next. A vehemence of sentiand morality, from becuming an “ar- ment totally misplaced, and a ridiculous biter elegantiarum” to society, he made affectation of cxcessive sensibility, are

also his most distinguishing characterit hiinself; and the Bishop with more realistics. He has infused into his writings than honesty or prudence fathered the spu- a good deal of that genuine simplicity so rious bantlivg.

Ep. peculiar to Counsellor Phillips, and some

ON THE COCKNEY SCHOOL OF PROSE

WRITERS.

[ocr errors]

THE CENTRE CROP OF THE EASTERN COMPARTMENT

C ustom House

Designed ? Executed by Geo. Bubb.

"

Engnized bi H.14

[graphic]

Dem
Representing

BRITANNIA vitended by
Firemezih prestasi barer Drivers letova

1818.), On the Cockney School of Prose Writers.--No. I. 199 other gentlemen of the Irish bar. In the is better to suffer this living death than a second page of his paper book he very living martyrdom." The ladies of the gravely informs us, that History treats bed chamber to Louis XV. found no for the most part of the cumbrous and fault with the immoral tendency of Volunwieldly masses of things, the empty taire's writings," and he sees “ no reacases in thich the affairs of the world are son why our modern purists should." packed."

.*He sagaeiously avers, that As for our own Lord Rochester, he a the improbability of the events, the thinks that his contempt for every abruptness and monotony in the Inferno thing that others respect amounts almost of Dante are excessive, but that the in- to sublimity." terest nporr flugs," p. 36. Chaucer's We are sorry we cannot pay Mr. poetry“ resembles a root just springing Hazlitt similar compliment; for in from the ground," p. 45. Spenser's his dereliction of “every thing that Allegory will not bite us, nor meddle others respect,” we see nothing but with us, if we do not meddle with it. It ignorance, impudence, and littleness of is as plain as a pikestaff," p. 70. “Adain mind. He may be assured, there is and Eve toiled pot, neither did they spin, none of “that superiority of characyet Solomon, in all his glory, was not ter"—" that dazzling splendour” about arrayed like one of these," p. 133. Very him which he so much admires in the likely not, for the best of all possible "ruined archangel of Milton.” There reasons, because they were not arrayed is no dignity whatever. no poetry in at all. “The Rape of the Lock is made his iniquities. The green-eyed critic! of nothing. It is made of gauze and of an infidel review, the second hand resilver spangles!" p. 422..

tailer of the blasphemies of Voiney and “ Thomson is affected through care- Voltaire, the libeller of his King, and lessness : pompous from unsuspecting the petty hater of his country, can simplicity of character. He mounts possess no qualifications to screen him upon stilts, not out of vanity but indo- from the “foul scorn" of the world. lence !!" p. 169. “As a comic writer, The poison te would instil is too easily Goldsmith's Tony Lumpkin draws forth neutralized to be of great importance – new powers from Mr. Liston's face," and those who may think proper to

Shakspeare did not trouble chastise his audacious arrogance, and himself about Voltaire's criticisms on his expose his imbecility, will have advanworks !" p. 110. By an equally agree- tages on their side, against which he will able anachronism, mankind is introduced find it very difficult to contend. (p. 132) watching with anxiety the con- In his introductory lecture Mr. H. duct of our first parents in Paradise. sets out with an attempt to define “Poetry is more poetical than paint- poetry ; but, conscious perhaps, that ing," p. 20. “ All is not poetry that his notions on that head are none of the passes for such," p. 27. “ Dryden's plays clearest, he runs into such amplitications are not so good as Shakspeare's," p. 161. of his subject, such a series of illustra“Swift was not a Frenchman," p. 222. tions, that it requires no little ingenuity After the specimens here cited, it will not on the part of his readers to divine, be very difficult to believe that Mr. not, what is poetry, but what is not ! Hazlitt's style is simple enough. That He describes it “ as coming home to the he knows nothing, or next to nothing, bosoms and businesses of men;" and po may be inferred from his ingenuous con

wonder, since he elsewhere tells us that fession, that " Mr. Coleridge was the “it is the stuff of which our life is made;' only person of whom he ever learned any - that “the child is a poet, in fact, when thing;" and the baseness of his prin- he first plays at hide and seek, or reciples is, we think, sufficiently obvious in peats the story of Jack the Giant Killer ; almost every page of his writings. He the countryman when he stops to look does not see « any reason why the phie at the rainbow, and the city apprentice losophical German writer, Schlegel, when he gates at the Lord Mayor's should be so severe on those pleasant show.” Not content with this, he goes persons, Lucius Pompey and Master still further, and pronounces hope, fear, Froth, as to call them wretches. They love, hatred, contempt, jealousy, reappear all mighty comfortable in their morse, admiration, wonder, pity, deoccupations, and determined to pursue spair, and madness to be all poetry: them;" and after praising Voltaire's “It is the highest eloquence of passion,

Candide, he asserts, that " there is some- yet " oaths and nicknames are poetry," hing sublime in Martin's sceptical in- and the miser, the courtier, the savage, difference to moral good and evil, as it the slave, the tyrant, the rain, the 27

P. 238.

200 On the Cockney School of Prose Writers.-- No. I.

(Oct, 1, bitious, the proud, the choleric man, tion," p. 156. “ Thompson is the best the hero, the coward, the beggar, the of our descriptive poets; for he gives king, the rich, and the poor, the young most of the poetry of natural description, and the old, possess, all of them, the re p. 171. Others have been quite equal quisites for poetry, for “ what the poet to him, or have surpassed him; as describes is only second hand folly and Cowper, for instance, in the picturesque madness."

part of his art," p. 171. Cowper selTruly the critic himself would bave domn launches out into general descripsome pretty strong claims to the cha- tions of nature," p. 181, “ He had ncsracter of a poet were there any truth their Thompson's love of the unadorned in these observations.

beauties of nature, nor Pope's exquisite It would be a terrible cncroachment sense of the elegance of art," p. 182. on the time and attention of our readers, “ Dr. Johnson was a learned lazy man, were we to quote half Mr. Hazlitt's who liked to think and talk better than definitions ; for, like a tinker, who in to read or write, who however wrote mending a kettle makes two holes in his much and well, but too often by rote; he endeavours to patch up one, Mr. H's invented a sort of jargon half way out of arguments are never finished; the last

one language into another, which raised of his illustrations always requires fur- the Dr.'s reputation, and confounded all ther explanation to make it intelligible, ranks of literature," p. 209 and 10. The and when by dint of extreme persever- absurd contradictions which these pasance we at length discover what he is sages display need no comment. Mr. driving at, it seldom carries any thing Hazlitt becomes his own critic; but conclusive with it, on the subject of the could any thing encrease the contempt original question; and not unfre we already entertain for him, it would quently in the warmth of his zeal to make be the impudent familiarity with which his hearers or readers understand what he treats the venerable Johnson. His he is prating about, he concludes with a audacity in pretending to criticize the direct contradiction of all he had before latinity of this great Lexicographer can affirmed. Thus at page 2, he observes only be equalled by his acknowledgment that "nothing but what comes home to of the happy state of ignorance he enmen in the most general and intelligible joys, as to all that was ever said or done shape can be a subject for poetry;"- yet in the ancient languages. His idiot at page 5, he expresses it as his opinion raving against the Dr. may very readily that “neither a mere description of be accounted for; he hates, most inrenatural feelings, however distinct or terately, learning of all descriptions ; as forcible, constitutes the ultimate end of well as its professors, and in one of his poetry." “ Chaucer exhibits for the essays on the “ Ignorance of the learned," most part the naked object with little congratulates himself and the Cockney drapery thrown over it. There is no crew of which he is a member, on their artificiál pompous display, but a strict total independence of the trammels of parsimony of the poet's materials, like education. Neither does he omit a fing at the rude simplicity of the age in which the learned acquirements in the book we he lived" p. 45. “Chaucer's poetry is have now before us ; for be very sedately more picturesque and historical than informs us “ that the progress of knowalmost any other," p. 64. “Milton has ledge and refinement has a tendency to borrowed more than any other writer, circumscribe the limits of the imaginaand exhausted every source of imitation tion, and to clip the wings of poetry," p. sacred or profane," p. 115. “ Dryden 18. Of this he may make himself and Pope are the great masters of the pretty certain that “the limits of his artificial style of poetry; Chaucer, Spen- imagination will never be circumscribed, ser, Shakespear, Milion, were of the either by the refinement of his manners, natural," p. 135. “ The question whe or the depth of his acquirements; for he ther Pope was a poet, has hardly yet is as miserably deficient in one as the been settled, and is hardly worth settling; other. for if he was not, he must have been a Like his brother charlatan, Leigh great prose writer ; that is, he was a great Hunt, Mr. Hazlitt is always on the writer of some sort," p. 130. “ He (Pope) stretch to be pleasant, amiable, and withad none of the enthusiasm of poetry ty; and, to use his own favourite metaabout him; his mind was the antithesis phor, “mounts upon stilts" to talk on of strength and graudeur," p. 140. the merest trifles. He is not contcut to “ Pope's letters and ; Tose writings neither use the common language of life as the take away fronı nor add to his reputa vehicle for his thoughts and sentiments,

« AnteriorContinuar »