dialogue be still further removed from priety, the offence is comparatively the discourse of ordiuary life, by hav- venial; because we feel that he has no ing its structure changed and its object to gain by this departure from idiom perverted. It is thus, we ima- the common forms of oral syntax; that gine, that they justify to themselves he has not been forced into it by the the licenses they assume in transposing poverty of his resources; and last and words, and in disregarding and viola- most important of all, that there is no ting, in every possible manner, the com- unnatural element in his style requiring monest proprieties of English speech. to be compensated by a more studied “ Here are we, they have no doubt naturalness of composition in other rethought, obliged to make our charac- spects. In prose, therefore, we are of ters converse and soliloquize in rhyme opinion that the usual forms of prose -a most unreal and unnatural prac. may occasionally, and to a certain extice-do what we will. What can it tent, be departed from, without giving matter, then, though we go a step fur- any great offence to the reader. ther than this; and, for the sake of Not so, however, in rhyming poetry hitching in a rhyme, place a verb for --and, above all, not so in that species instance at the end of a line, when in of it we are now writing about, the the natural order of oral language it rhymed drama.

None of the prose ought to stand at the beginning of it proprieties of language can be dis : -or before a noun, when in ordinary pensed with here. Going a step beconversation it would be placed after it?" yond Mr Wordsworth, who has told us Now we can assure our translators that the language of poetry is or ought that it matters a very great deal: and to be the same as that of prose, we if they imagine that because their work venture to maintain that in this kind 3 is in rhyme, therefore the reader will of composition, not only ought there? consent to a still further deviation to be no difference between the lanfrom common speech than rhyme in guage of prose and the language of itself is ; and for the sake of the sym- poetry, but that its character is such phonious endings of their lines, will as to require that it should adopt the reconcile himself to an inverted con. order and idiom of prose, even more struction of sentences, or the introduc- strictly than prose itself is bound to tion of language not used in actual do ; and that it can with much less life between man and man-we con- safety deviate from this standard. We ceive they will find themselves mista. ground our opiņion upon the three ken. On the contrary, we think they following reasons:- - In the first place, will find that the very fact of their a dramatic writer in rhyme, already, composition being in rhyme, naturally, and from the very character of his and as we shall show quite properly, composition, stands in a false and undisposes the reader to make less allow. natural position. He has to describe ance for grammatical inversions, and the thoughts and passions of real men, a other violations of real conversational and to do this successfully he musts language, than he might have done had employ the language of actual life; they been writing in prose.

but at the same time there is an ele. An author composing in prose, or ment in the kind of composition he even in blank verse, stands within the has chosen, which, in the first instance, pale of customary human speech. He necessarily and conspicuously takes is dealing with language very much his dialect out of the pale of nature, as his neighbours deal with it in the or from under the category of ordinary ordinary intercourse of life ; he is af. discourse—we mean the element of fecting no peculiarities, at least no ob. rhyme. Here, then, at the very outtrusive peculiarities of speech,- no set, is a bar placed between him and phraseology which may not be heard his readers or hearers, which, at first any day falling from the lips of those sight, must naturally and powerfully around him; and therefore he need revolt them, inasmuch as it apparent ? not be very solicitous to bear testi- ly deprives the dialogue of its charmony to the truth and reality of his acter of reality and of the colour of language, by adhering to an extreme living speech. He is therefore called integrity of idiom, or a scrupulously upon, the first thing he does, to exert natural succession of words. If he himself to remove this bar, and to reshould occasionally deviate into a con. concile us to the peculiarity of his style. torted period, or other verbal impro- And how is this to be effected; how


are we to be brought to believe and the third place, what we desire to be feel that the unreal language before made to feel to a great extent in every us is the discourse “ really used by work of art, is the power of the artist.

We answer ; only by the We behold nothing worth looking at, most rigid adherence, on the part of unless we behold him exercising a the author, to the common forms and triumphant mastery over untractable dramatic usages of his living spoken and refractory materials. Like Van tongue in every other respect. He Amburgh with his tigers, he must must not sacrifice one jot or one tittle make language lie down at his feet, of the common structure and natural kiss his hands, and follow him whitherconversational flow of language: other- soever he will. But when we find him wise the bar we have spoken of falls permitting his verse to interfere with at once down between him and his the natural idiom and arrangement of readers, and it is vain for him and them his speech, we behold this exhibi. to attempt to shake hands across it. tion reversed; the language has here The illusion is at an end; we feel that got the upper hand of the artist, and we are no longer reading or listening we are made sensible of

nothing but his to the language which men really weakness-an unpleasing object of speak. Now, when composing in contemplation at all times. In prose, prose, an author need not, as we have again, this helplessness never becomes said, be so particular; because there so palpably conspicuous, even though is no such preliminary obstacle cleav- the writer should be unable to direct ing to the character of his style, and his language perfectly straight in the rising up between him and those whom paths of correct conversational idiom. he addresses. In the second place, This conclusion will, no doubt, be the writer in rhyme has an object of his unpalatable to many of our English own to gain by perverting language versifiers; and cannot but be peculiarfrom its natural spoken course ; to wit, ly nauseous to the translators whose he obtains his rhymes more easily by merits we are canvassing. These, doing so. But the reader's object is and many other people besides them, quite different from this. It is no ob. we believe, have got a silly crotchet ject of his that the author should into their heads that rhyme is in itself a obtain his rhymes easily. On the con- beauty or merit in composition-and trary, his object is to derive enjoyment that for the sake of this extra charm from feeling consciously or unconsci- the critic will, and ought in some ously that the rhymes are obtained by degree, to forego the usual stircta fair encounter with all the difficul. ness with which he sits in judgs ties of the case, and by a triumph over ment upon the style of authors whose them; the difficulty of preserving the works are without the “ accomplishcommon construction and all the usual ment of verse. We have already proprieties of oral speech, being here stated how diametrically we dissent the chief or rather the only obstacle from this doctrine; and now we beg to be surmounted. When, therefore, he to add further, for the benefit of all finds the author evading this difficulty versifiers, past, present, and to come, by sacrificing these proprieties; that is, that rhyme in itself, that is, taken inby transposing words out of their natu- dependently of other considerations, ral order, or interpolating unneces- is one of the greatest blemishes with sary ones for the sake of his rhymes, which language be afflicted. he immediately concludes that he is When we repeat what we have already merely anxious about working out said, that it is an unnatural appendage his own ends and not about promoting to speech-that the tongues of men his, (the reader's,) and he is according- in real life are not hung with the bells of ly very properly revolted and repelled rhyme, we have said quite enough to by his work. Now, in prose even,

vindicate and establish the truth of this though an author should wander con- assertion. Therefore any appeal made siderably from ordinary syntax, we feel to our critical clemency in behalf of that he has no personal and private end inverted constructions, or other imperto gain by this—that he is not led to do fections of language, not usually met so by a preference of his own object to with in prose or conversation-made, that of his readers--and therefore his

we say, on the score that they are to a deviations are much less offensive, and certain extent compensated by the ex. much more easily forgiven. And iņ tra pleasure, forsooth, communicated





to us by the rhymes-will be made in tinguishes it from the spontaneous and vain ; rhyme being in our opiuion effortless overflowings of the heart. only an aggravation of the offence- This element, therefore, must find a no compensating source of pleasure, representative in language. Besides but on the contrary the surest method representing feelings and passions to by which bad can be made worse. us, the poetical artist must make us

But if such be the quality of rhyme, it sensible of his own volition; namely, of may here be very naturally asked, why that act of mastery by which he was does any author ever make use of it at enabled to pass these through the all? If at the outset it places him in a alembic of his own heart. When they false and disadvantageous position, re- issue forth, they must come out transmoving him from the sympathy of those figured and tinged with the life-blood whom he addresses, why does he ever of that strong act. We must see, we consent in any case to attach it to his say, not only the passion, but combined language? As an immediate answer with it we must also see the volition of to this question we reply, that though the artist. rhyme can compensate nothing, can Now this volition is an element not atone for nothing, and can reconcile supplied by nature. Nature supplies us to nothing in the shape of vicious the passion and the feeling, but not or unidiomatic diction, yet there are the will which would grasp, contem. ways and means by which it may be plate, and comprehend them, and compensated and atoned for ; and these realize them where they are not sponare, as we have said, a more than usu- taneously given. The human will, ally inflexible observance of the com- upon the wings of which man soars mon flow and proprieties of our ver- out of his own mechanism, and looks nacular tongue in all other respects. down upon his natural self, receives But this only brings the poet up to a countenance or encouragement level with the good prose writer. It from her. In a word, the will and the merely reconciles us to his rhymes. passion are ever at variance with each It therefore does not answer fully the other-nature doing all she can to question just stated, the purportof which bring forward the latter, and to keep is this- how does rhyme, besides being the former aloof. But will is, as we merely tolerated, ever come to capti- have said, an essential element of the vate us as beautiful, and to be looked poet's genius ; and therefore it must be upon as a source of positive pleasure ? manifested in spite and defiance of naAs the answer to this question in- ture. Thus, at his very first step, we volves the consideration of what it is find the poet necessarily thwarting and that renders man an artist in the high- deserting nature. est sense of the word, we must take His next step is to embody his gesome pains with our reply..

nius in language. But here he finds The man who expresses his own . that, as nature did not provide him feelings and passions strongly is not a with his volition, so now the language poet; but only the man who can por- of nature will not supply it with a tray vividly and forcibly the passions representative. Nature gives a voice of other men. Now there is this great merely to the spontaneous feelings, difference between being able to de- passions, and other instincts of her pict one's own passions, and being able creatures. But the poet's passions, &c., to depict the passions of others, that though real, are not spontaneous, but in the former case nature does the are got up through the mediation of whole business for us, but not so in the will. If, therefore, he were to the latter. The expression of our own employ merely natural language, he passions is involuntary and spontane would leave unexpressed an authentic ous; whereas, in delineating the feelings ingredient of his genius. Therefore or passions of others, we must pass them he must find, in some way or other, through our own minds by a strong a voice for this mediation of his will. effort of the will. Pure natural pas- Since, however, it cannot be represion, then, is not poetry, but only pas- sented by natural language, he must sion combined with volition ; and the invent an exponent of it for himself. latter element it is—and not the Accordingly, he breaks up the lanformer as us ually supposed—which guage of nature, and when he comes constitutes the differential quality of before us in his complete panoply, poetry, being the feature which dis- and in every respect true to his call

[ocr errors]

ing, we find that he brings with him did this, it would omit one of its own a new element which he has worked proper elements—it would give voice out for himself proprio Marte, and in- merely to our own passions as nature troduced into language as the proper supplies them, (an utterance never representative of his peculiar power— held to be poetry,) but it would leave an element which in all ages has been unexpressed the volition which always that in which poets have lived, and is and must be present when the pasbreathed, and had their being; we sions of others are to be depicted. The mean the element of metre, an element reader, therefore, is brought to admit which, in a language like ours, as- that the poet has a real authentic elesumes, as its truest and most expres- ment which he is called upon to represive shape, the form of rhyme.

sent, besides the more obvious mateMetre, therefore, and more parti. rials of his art—the passions and feelcularly and properly rhyme, is intro- ings of human nature—he has, namely, duced into language for the purpose his own will. The reader is further of representing that which ought to brought, by a very moderate share of pervade and be made visible in all reflection, to admit that the language good poetry – the will of the artist. of nature merely enables us to express It is used, not because the natural our instincts, passions, &c., exactly as passions and feelings of the human they are, and that for any thing over heart are best and most truly depicted and above this, she is dumb: and therein this form of style, (for this is by no upon he is carried a step still further, means the case,) but because it brings namely, to the admission that the artist palpably before us the active power is not only entitled, but is under a which the artist exercises over these positive obligation, to do violence to materials. It affords the most striking the language of nature, in order that and definite form in which that active he may be enabled to introduce into power can be exhibited. But here it a certain kind of voice or utterance we must pause, to consider the situa- by which that real and peculiar eletion of the reader or hearer. No ment of his power-viz. his will doubt, at first sight the great and only may be expressed; and thus the reader end of poetry appears to be, to deli- is brought to admit that, upon second neate man's passions, feelings, &c., thoughts, rhyme may be at least tolerexactly as they exist in nature. At ated. first sight, therefore, the reader, ex- But the bargain between the reader pecting these to be represented iden- and the poet is not yet fairly ratified tically as they are, and in the very and brought to a conclusion. The language in which nature would utter reader has been brought to bear with them, is naturally revolted by rhyme, what originally and naturally repelled regarding it as an element which re- him—the rhymes of the artist. But presents no authentic or even existing whether he will continue to practise constituent in man-an uncalled-for this toleration, and moreover to derive impertinence—an unnecessary irrele- positive gratification from their prevancy-a gratuitous appendage graft- sence, yet remains to be seen, and ed by the artist upon the proper mae depends upon circumstances—which terials of poetry, and having no busi- circumstances are, that the rhymes ness there. But this is the case with shall be found to represent fairly, faiththe reader only at first sight, and fully, and completely, that which they when he judges without any degree were brought forward to representof reflection. By-and-by he comes to namely, the will of the poet. Now, see, that grounded in our very consti- will, unless it exhibit itself in triumph, tution as human beings, there is and is not will at all. Will defeated is ought necessarily to be a great dif- will non-existent, and this certainly is ference between our expression of our not entitled to any representative in own passions, &c., as nature provides language. But we can only deterus with them, and our expression of mine whether the artist's will has been the passions, &c., of other men, inas. triumphant or defeated, by looking to much as in the latter case volition its visible exponent-rhyme-and seemust be present, though not in the ing whether this is victorious over the former ; and then he discovers that it difficulties of its position, or the reis not the end of poetry to represent verse.

If, then, we find any of the man's passions and feelings exactly as

other proprieties of language sacrificed they are. Because, if poetry merely

on its account, or any unnatural arrangement of words laid before us, fully represented that which, as we we immediately hold that the rhyme have already said, is the differential is miserably beaten ; consequently or peculiar ingredient of poetical that the artist's will is a baffled non. genius. Having deserted nature for entity—that the rhyme, instead of the purpose of finding an articulate standing forth as the representative of voice for an element not supplied by his will, victorious in the midst of all nature, and for which her language obstacles, does, in fact, represent afforded no utterance-to wit, his own nothing whatsoever ; but hangs' as a will-he has again returnell into the clog upon his composition, lending to bosom of nature with his found treait additional disfigurement. In this sure, (rhyme, namely,) and he will case the reader is at once off from the violate her prerogatives no more. On bargain. The artist's work is hateful the contrary, glorying and proud in to him, and his rhymes make it only the freedom of his self-imposed fetters, still more detestable.

he will prove bis mastery over her Woe, therefore, to the poet who, in language by walking in all its usual the exercise of his vocation, invades ordinances more strictly and blamethe sequence in which words naturally lessly than before. He, and he alone, arrange themselves in his vernacular who conceives his vocation in this tongue, or violates in any other way spirit, is the true poetical artist. And the correct conversational usages of now we have answered, as far as our speech. When we consented to to present limits permit, the question we lerate his rhymes, we understood him have been engaged upon, and have to come under a contract to exhibit to shown how and why rhyme ever us the element for the sake of which comes to give us pleasure. we agreed to put up with them, and We must now turn to the translamoreover to exhibit it to us faith- tions before us. If tried by the prinfully. But will can only be exhibited ciples we have been contending for, to us faithfully, or as a real existence, we think that there is hardly a page when we see it exercising a consum- in any one of them that could for a mate mastery over all its materials, the moment stand-so barbarous and often feelings, the passions, and above all the so ludicrous are the stratagems they language of humanity-voluntarily, play off upon language, and also upon and for the sake of declaringits own real- thought, for the sake of hitching in ity, multiplying the difficulties of thelat. their rhymes. Perhaps we have been ter, and at the same time preserving all uttering hard sayings-perhaps it may its

proper usages entire. But now, in be thought that a poetical translaperverting the idiom of speech, the tion of any work upon the terms we artist has broken through this con- propose, is altogether an impossible tract. Woe, therefore, to him ; for achievement. Perhaps it may be ; from henceforth he is a literary out- but if it is, then we think it better that cast. Poetry casts him off, and plain there should be no poetical translaprose turns her back upon the rhym- tions, than that they should be ob. ing drudge.

tained at the sacrifice of the condi. On the other hand, whenever we tions we have stated; for, if purchased find any real ingredient of humanity at this price, they can never be any fairly and fully represented in lan. thing but burdens and encumbrances guage, our gratification is extreme. upon the literature of the country When, therefore, the artist proves the which importsthem. To makeamends, reality and supremacy of his will, and · however, for our strictness on this represents this in true and bright point, and by way of encouraging colours, by introducing rhyme into future translators of “ Faust,” or any language without violating any cor- similar work, we may add, that we rect customary norma loquendi, any are inclined to accord to them much rule of pure idiomatic discourse-run- greater latitude in translating than ning along the whole compass of they are generaliy supposed entitled speech_in no respect altering its na- to exercise. There are occasions upon tural tenor, but tipping its points with which they cannot adhere too closely emphasis and fire; then, but only to the text of their author; but in then, do we hail his performances general we should allow them to take with delight. He has now put for what liberties they pleased with his ward his volition as a real permanent mere words, and to deviate from him and victorious existence-he has faith- as widely as they chose, provided they


« ElőzőTovább »