« السابقةمتابعة »
versification, style, fine art. Frequent divagations along these by-paths account for the length to which in this edition the commentary has run as compared with the small number of pages occupied by Pope's text.
I have supplied no biography of the author. Johnson's Life of Pope is a classic of our Literature and can be bought for threepence. Mr Leslie Stephen's Pope, (in the 'English Men of Letters Series') costs a shilling. To tell again what Johnson and Mr Stephen have told so admirably would be an impertinence, or worse. The general reader, whose knowledge of Pope is limited to the two facts that he built a grotto and translated Homer, will gain a useful notion of the man and his works from Mr Birrell's short paper in the Second Series of Obiter Dicta.
The references in the Introduction and Notes are to the following editions:
Johnson's Lives of the English Poets, Chandos Classics, 1 vol.
Courthope's Life of Pope is contained in Vol. v.
Essay on Dramatic Poesy (Clive).
Discourses on Satire and On Epic Poetry, Cassell's National
Spence's Anecdotes, Scott Library.
Boswell's Life of Johnson, Globe edit.
Warton's Essay on the Genius and Writings of Pope, 5th edit. 1806. 2 vols.
Macaulay's Essays, People's edit. 2 vols.
Lowell's My Study Windows, Scott Library.
Birrell's Obiter Dicta, Second Series, 1st edit.
Taine's History of English Literature, Van Laun's Translation,
Hallam's Introduction to the Literature of Europe, 4 vols.
Moore's Life of Byron, 1 vol. (Chatto).
THE METAPHYSICAL AND CLASSICAL SCHOOLS OF ENGLISH POETRY.
THE fervour which found expression in the poetry of the great Elizabethan writers passed away. 'The national life grew chill, and the feelings of the poets also chill. Then the want of art in the style made itself felt. The far-fetched images, the hazarded meanings, the over-fanciful way of putting thoughts, the sensational expression of feeling, in which the Elizabethan poets indulged, not only appeared in all their ugliness when they were inspired by no warm feeling, but were indulged in far more than before. Men tried to produce by extravagant use of words the same results that ardent feeling had produced, and the more they failed the more extravagant and fantastic they became, till at last their poetry ceased to have clear meaning. This is the history of the style of the poets from the later days of Elizabeth till the Civil War1'
The characteristics of this style of poetry are described and illustrated by Johnson in his Life of Cowley2:
'Abo beginning of the seventeenth century, appeared a race of writers that may be termed the Metaphysical poets3... The Metaphysical poets were men of learning, and to show
1 Brooke, Primer of English Literature, p. 126. 2 Lives of the Poets, 'Cowley,' pp. 8-10.
3 Mr Courthope (Pope's Works, 'Life,' Vol. v. p. 51) claims for Pope the invention of the name. In Spence's Anecdotes, Pope is reported to have said, 'Cowley, as well as Davenant, borrowed his metaphysical style from Donne.'
W. P. E.
their learning was their whole endeavour; but, unluckily resolving to show it in rhyme, instead of writing poetry they wrote only verses, and very often such verses as stood the trial of the finger better than of the ear; for the modulation was so imperfect, that they were only found to be verses by counting the syllables.
'If the father of criticism [Aristotle] has rightly denominated poetry réxin μμŋtɩký, “an imitative art,” these writers will, without great wrong, lose their right to the name of poets; for they cannot be said to have imitated anything: they copied neither nature nor life; neither painted the forms of matter, nor represented the operations of intellect....
'This kind of writing, which was, I believe, borrowed from Marino1 and his followers, had been recommended by the example of Donne, a man of very extensive and various knowledge, and by Jonson, whose manner resembled that of Donne more in the ruggedness of his lines than in the cast of his senti
'When their reputation was high, they had undoubtedly more imitators than time has left behind. Their immediate successors, of whom any remembrance can be said to remain, were Suckling, Waller, Denham, Cowley, Cleveland, and Milton. Denham and Waller sought another way to fame, by improving the harmony of our numbers...Cowley adopted the metaphysic style, and excelled his predecessors, having as much sentiment and more music. Suckling neither improved versification nor abounded in conceits. The fashionable style remained chiefly with Cowley; Suckling could not reach it, and Milton disdained it2.'
1 Mr Courthope remarks that 'Donne wrote before Marino had acquired his great reputation,' and that 'writing precisely similar in character prevailed at the same period in every country of Europe that could boast of a literature.' (Pope's Works, Vol. v. p. 53.) No doubt the taste for a style abounding in conceits was in that age widely spread. But at any rate it was Donne 'who in England first gave it full expression-who was its first rigorous and effective and devoted spokes(Ward's English Poets, Introduction to Donne by J. W. Hales, Vol. 1. pp. 558—9.)
2 A chronological note may be found useful at this point:—