Page images
PDF
EPUB

to be attacked by one alone, but by a combination of the most violent passions.

All the symptoms of this kind are true effects of jealous love ; but the excellence of this Ode, as I observed before, consists in the judicious choice and connection of the most notable circumstances. And it proceeds from his due application of the most formidable incidents, that the Poet excels so much in describing tempests 2. The author of the poem on the Arimaspians doubts not but these lines are great and full of terror. Ye pow'rs, what madness! How on ships so frail (Tremendous thought!) can thoughtless mortals

sail?

[ocr errors]

fines and plays upon them with fine spun conceits. He flourishes like Ovid on every little incident, and recalls our attention from the poem, to take notice of the poet's wit. This might be writing in the Italian taste, but it is not nature. Homer was above it, in his fine characters of Hector and Andromache, Ulysses and Penelope. The judicious Virgil has rejected it, in his natural picture of Dido. Milton has followed and improved upon his great masters, with dignity and judgment.

Aristaus, the Proconnesian, is said to have wrote a poem, called Agip.co tea, or, of the affairs of the Arimaspians, a Scythian people, situated far from any sea. The lines here quoted seem to be spoken by an Arimaspian, wondering how men dare trust themselves in ships, and endeavouring to describe the seamen in the extremities of a storm.- DR. PEARCE.

For

For stormy seas they quit the pleasing plain,
Plant woods in waves, and dwellamidst the main,
Far o'er the deep (a trackless path) they go,
And wander oceans in pursuit of woe.
No ease their hearts, no rest their eyes can find,
On heav'n their looks, and on the waves their

mind;

Sunk are their spirits, while their arms they rear, And gods are wearied with their fruitless pray'r.

MR. POPE. Every impartial reader will discern that these lines are florid more than terrible. But how does Homer raise a description, to mention only one example amongst a thousand !

3 He bursts upon them all: Bursts as a wave that from the cloud impends, And swell's with tempests on the ship descends;

White

3

* There is a description of a tempest in the cviith Psalm, which runs in a very high vein of sublimity, and has more spirit in it than the applauded descriptions in the authors of antiquity ; because when the storm is in all its rage, and the danger become extreme, almighty power is introduced to calm at once the roaring main, and give preservation to the miserable distressed. It ends in that fervency of devotion, which such grand occurrences are fitted to raise in the minds of the thoughtful.

“ He commandeth and raiseth the stormy wind, 66 which lifteth

up the waves thereof. They mount up '" to heaven, they go down again to the depths ; their “ soul is melted away because of trouble. They reel

6 to

[ocr errors]

White are the decks with foam; the winds aloud
Howl o'er the masts, and sing thro' every shroud:

Pale,

a

to and fro like a drunken man, and are at their wits“ end. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, " and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He 6 maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof " are still. Then are they glad, because they be quiet; “so he bringeth them unto their desired haven. Oh! " that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and 66 for his wonderful works to the children of men!"

Shakespeare has, with inimitable art, made use of a storm in his tragedy of King Lear, and continued it through seven scenes. In reading it, 'one sees the piteous condition of those who are exposed to it in open air; one almost hears the wind and thunder, and beholds the flashes of lightning. The anger, fury, and passionate exclamations of Lear himself, seem to rival the storm, which is as outrageous in his breast, inflamed and ulcerated by the barbarities of his daughters, as in the elements themselves. We view him Contending with the fretful elements, Bids the wind blow the earth into the sea, Or swell the curled waters 'bove the main, That things might change, or cease: tears his white hair, Which the impetuous blasts with eyeless rage Catch in their fury

We afterwards see the distressed old man exposed to all the inclemencies of the weather; nature itself in hurry and disorder, but he as violent and boisterous as the storm.

Rumble thy belly-full, spit fire, spout rain ; • Nor rain, wind, thunder, fire are my daughters; I tax not you, ye elements.

And

Pale, trenibling, tir'd, the sailors freeze with fears,
And instant death on ev'ry wave appears

MR. POPE.

And immediately after,

Let the great gods,
That keep this dreadful thund'ring o'er our heads,
Find out their enemies now. Tremble, thou wretch,
That hast within thee undivulged crimes
Unwhipt of justice. Hide thee, thou bloody hand,
Thou perjur’d, and thou simular man of virtue,
That art incestuous: caitiff, shake to pieces,
That under covert and convenient sceming
Hast practis'd on man's life. Close pent-up guilts,
Rive your concealing continents, and ask
These dreadful summoners grace-
The storm still continues, and the poor old man is
forced along the open heath, to take shelterin a wretched
hovel. There the poet has laid new incidents, to stamp
fresh terror on the imagination, by lodging Edgar in it
before them. The passions of the old king are so tur-
bulent, that he will not be persuaded to take any refuge.
When honest Kent intreats him to go in, he cries,

Prithee go in thyself, seek thy own ease;
This tempest will not give me leave to ponder
On things would hurt me more
Nay, get thee in ; I'll pray, and then I'll sleep-
Poor naked wretches, wheresoe'er you are,
That 'bide the pelting of this pitiless storm!
How shall your houseless heads, and unfed sides,
Your loop'd and window'd raggedness, defend you
From seasons such as these?-Oh! I have ta’en
Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp,
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,

That
* Iliad. o. ver. 624.

[ocr errors]

Aratus has attempted a refinement upon the last thought, and turned it thus,

A slender plank preserves them from their fate*. But instead of increasing the terror, he only lessens and refines it away; and besides, he şets a bound to the impending danger, by saying, “ a plank preserves them,” thus ba

, nishing their despair. But the Poet is so far from confining the danger of his sailors, that he paints them in a most desperate situation, while they are only not swallowed up in every wave, and have death before their eyes as fast as they escape it. "Nay more, the

danger

4

That thou mayst shake the superflux to them, And shew the heav'ns more justThe miseries and disorders of Lear and Edgar are then painted with such judicious horror, that every imagination must be strongly affected by such tempests in reason and nature. I have quoted those passages which have the moral reflexions in them, since they add solemnity to the terror, and alarm at once a variety of passions. * Arati Phænomen. ver. 299.

Nay more, the danger, &c.]. I have given this sentence such a turn as I thought would be most suita-, ble to our language, and have omitted the following words, which occur in the original: “ Besides, he has “ forcibly united some prepositions that are naturally

66 averse

4

« PreviousContinue »