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FOR JULY, 1799.
FOR THF, EDINBURGH MAGAZINE.
The GLEANER, N°. IX.
learned friend made me a vie all rules, and soon appreciates the fit, and finding I had been writing, genuine merit of any production. inquired the subject of the compo. We see tragedies and comedies comfition. I told him that I had been posed according to the very formulas throwing together a few desoltory of critical prescription ; the critics reflections on Descriptive Poetry. pronounce that they shall be immor. As my friend had newly perused tal, but the public voice condemns Knight's Essay on the Greek Alpha- them at once to oblivion. Shakespear bet, he informed me, with very little neither wrote by rules, nor is to be ceremony, that he had a very mean judged by rules; and there is the opinion of critical compositions, as new Euripides of Germany, Kotwell as of the sublime art of criti. zebue, who breaks all the unities, cism. Criticism, faid he, affects to sets the poetics of Aristotle at defiinform us when we thould approve ance, and yet preldes over all the and disapprove of literary composi- emotions of the soul with irrefiftible tions, and applies her gauging-rod sway. My friend continued to enuwith equal precision to the feelings merate a multitude of similar inftanof the heart and the flights of fancy. ces, and then victoriously clenched She pretends to direct our judgment his proof with the authority of and modulate our taste, as if our Knight; who, in his Elay on the judgment could not judge for itself, Greek Alphabet, admits no kind of nor tafte decide without the help of critical merit but that which is verrules. Shew any person of common bal. To this fluent harangue I refenfe, proceeded my friend, a ballad, plied, that as this Knight has really an elegy, a heroic, or even a descrip. very great merit as a verbal critic, it tive poem, and he will be at no loss was a great pity that he should infitt to determine whether it be good or upon depreciating those critics who bad from the feelings which it ex. extend their attention to sentences, cites in his mind. He can only give and paragraphs, and chapters, and you his private opinion, you will say; sections, and even to whole books ; and after all, can your critic give but that, with all deference to the you any thing more than his private Ellay on the Greek Alphabet, I ap
prehended, that the reafons of our and poetical powers, joined with conopinions might always be ascertained fiderable faults both of thought and by attending accurately to their ob di&tion. The _author attempts to jects, and the sensations which these convey to the English' reader à corproduce in our minds ; that by at- rect idea of Alpine scenery : an untending to objects in connection with dertaking arduous as it was bold; the emotions which they excite, we for, as he asserts, “ the controuling may discover both the origin and na. influence which diftinguishes the ture of our different ideas of taste, Alps from all other scenery, is derivwhether sublime, beautiful, pathetic, ed from images which disdain the or pi&turesque, whether witty, hu- pencil.” In conveying the general mourous, or ludicrous; and that characters along with the individual upon this process of attention or scenery, he is frequently very success. judgment, the principles of the cri- ful. His descriptions are often gratical art depended, and were, there. phically minute, but always sketched fore, no more fallacious than any o- with energy and strong conception. ther species of scientific reasoning. We enjoy all the pleasures of the peThus criticism arranges in luminous deftrian traveller, and are ready to order our confused ideas, demon- admit with the author, that did hap. strates those subtile but important re- piness refide on earth, her abode lations of our ideas that are apt to would be, escape our notice, unravels the mazes
Where murmuring rivers join the song of perception and thought, and sepa. of Even, rates the effential from the accidental, Where falls the purple morning far and
wide in those impressions which are made upon the mind. In the descriptive
In flakes of light upon the mountain
fidepoets, criticism affifts us in the ttudy Where summer suns in ocean fink to of nature, for in the delineations of
reft.the poet we are not confounded by
We hear the road-elms of Gallia the diversity which nature presents, rufling thin above his head—we at. Different objects are better defined tend him to the lake of Como, emand feparated from the groups by bofomed in chesnut groves, and trace which they are surrounded, and the the twining pathway beneath its different emotions are referred more purple roof of vinesdiftinctly to the objects by which
Whence oft at eve the viewiefs lingerer they are excited.
We learn to ftudy the original by means of a ver. From rock-hewn fteeps the rail between fion, if the expression may be used. With these observations my friend In the description of the lake of was no more satisfied than I had been Como, there are many picturesque with the authority of Knight in the delineations of that kind, which inEffay on the Greek alphabet, and clines to the beautiful ; many which we parted, according to the custom an Englishman can only figure in of difputants, each more convinced imagination-the cots placed under of the truth and propriety of his own the towering rocks, with each its opinion. So I proceeded to make household boat beside the door, the following obfervations on the
The torrents shooting from the clear blue Descriptive Poets, and left my friend
fky, to peruse Knight's Essay on the The towns like swallows nests that cleave Greek Alphabet.
on high, WORKS WORTH'S DESCRIPTIVE : The blazing forefts throwing rich BETCHES display great originality golden verdure on the waves, are all
of this nature, and peculiar to the folitary light glimmers in the vale Alps. Of the same clase are the gi. the death-dog howls, and banditti gantic torrents interrupted by voices talk, the bushes rustle, and the Black drizz ing crags thal, beaten by the
wolf approaches at the cry of her
child. The Lake of Uri is delineatdin, Vibrate, as if a voice complained within. ed in a more chalte and correct file, The crosses reared to death on cvery and almost with the pencil of Goldfide.
smith. The Chamois Chacer, and 'Tis form; and hid in mift from hour the life of the Swiss Mountaineer,
to hour All day the foods a deeper murmur pour,
are striking and original sketches, And mournful founds, as of a spirit loft, as well as the Slavery of Savoy, and Pipe wild along the hollow blustering the lofluence of Liberty on Cottage coaft
Happiness. Every person of real The fun flashes through the milts, taste, that perules these sketches, and we behold the Alpine torrents will immediately recognize the true At once to pillais turn'd, that flame with enthusiastic energy
in the sentiment and in the express Triumphant on the bolom of the form fion; but be will at the same time Glances the fire-clad eagle's wheeling regret the uncorrect colouring which
form.Behind his fail the peasant ftrives to Thun often sheds a false and tawdry lustre The west, that burns like one dilated over the real beauties of description. fun.
The language is strong and vigorous, Where in a mighty crucible expire but defective in respect of fimplicity: The mountains, glowing hot, like coals the phraseology is often original, but of fire.
clogged with exuberance of epithet, It is impoflible to particularize the and allures us from the ferenity of minute touches of description, which observation, and the sweet deceptions are equally spirited and characteris. of sympathy, to attend to its own tic. Some of the sketches possess uncommon structure. Indeed the lapeculiar excellence, as the Grison bour of composition is too apparent gypsey-a very different being from both in the sentiment and the exprefthe gypsey of Goldsmith and of fion The structure becomes gawdy Rogers. Many of the circumstances from redundance of ornament; and which compose this picture are resembles a Grecian temple deformfrightful to the fancy. The roofed ed by the minute fritterings of Go. bridge, where she is driven for shelter, thic architecture.
L. quivers in the storm, and the water
[Observations on Bowles's COOMBE spirits call fearfully from below; a ELLEN in our next Number.]
TO THE EDITOR OF THE EDINBURGH MAGAZINE.
T is a common observation among ginal works are borrowed. So much
admired composicions that are gene- that he compares the instructions we tally reckoned original, there is very derive from books to fire, which we little originality. Not only are the obtain from others, kindle at home, fineft thoughts wbich occur in one and communicate till it become species of writing transplanted from the property of all. Every person another, incidents modified anew, has heard of the German who cursed and the names of characters changed, the ancients for stealing his good but even the plans of the mot ori. thoughts; but it mustbe owned that