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fancy of Ariosto, which, engrafted on his soft and feeling heart, and tempered by his chaste and moral judgment, produced the Faerie Qucene. Hence that delightful poent is full of those inconsistencies and faults which, from the causes we have attempted to illustrate, still blemished the productions of Italy, while, at the same time, its sweet and natural descriptions, its moral and instructive fables, have eles vated it to a rank far above its originals, and most honourable and gratifying to British taste and vanity.
The most remarkable circumstance attending this first and principal work of our poet's, is the double allegory, which, as he himself informs us, it contains, and it is this circumstance that should principally attract the attention and direct the labours of a commentator. The moral allegory indeed seldoin requires illustration, and we are at no loss to discover the leading features of that which may be called the secondary, or political. But it cannot be doubted that a great deal lies concealed from common observation, which would amply reward a patient investigation.
The taste which had adorned our golden age of poetry had long given way to the cold correctness of the Frencia school, when Mr. Ilughes undertook the task of editing our poet. With his head full of unity and probability, he
weighs him in that false balance,' and, of course, 'finds bim wanting' It is no wonder that such a critic preferred the two Cantos of Mutability, to all the rest of the Faerie Queene. Still more wedded to the incompatible laws of classical propriety, Spence, in his Polymetis, has resumed the 'examination of that poem ; and the application of similar principles produces the same conclusion. The learning and judgment of Jortin has added nothing to our knowledge of Spenser, though he occasionally gives us pleasure by untolding the Greek and Roman origins of some of his sweetest passages. Warton, the Poet Laureate, found it a subject so happily adapted to his own taste and pursuits, that he entered withrenthusiasm on the task, and has certainly succeeded more than any other of Spenser's commentators in discover-' ing the sources of his poetry, in estimatiog the merits and defects of his versification and language, and in displaying the history and effect of the allegorical character which he has adoptéd. But nothing can more exemplify the imperious dowinion which French literature aud criticism had obtained in our country than the fact that one, bimself a poet, and with a mind peculiarly turned for the enjoyment of works of real, taste and fancy, should have so accommodated hinself to the prevailing systein as to wish that Spenser had reduced his
delightful poem to the rules of Bossu, thạt Tasso liad lopped off the enchanted wood, and destroyed the gardens of Arinida, and that Ariosto had cut down his Orlando to a geometrical figure.* Next came Uplon, with less learning than some, but as much bigotry as any of the former commentators. He undertakes, indeed, the defence of the poet, but in a manner in which Spenser never meant to be defended;
Non tali auxilio, nec defensoribus istis Instead of asserting that the rules of his poem are the rules of romance, not those of Aristotle and Bossu, instead of pleading the non-jurisdiction of the court, he actually proceeds to justify him on the very principles by which he had before been tried, condemned, and executed ; and a very poor piece of work he makes of it. But notwithstanding this want of judgment, notwithstanding his pert coscombical manner, Upion has, perhaps, more worthily supplied the place of an editor than any other, in one most essential point; for it is to his ingenuity that we are indebted for inost of the little insight we have into the political allegory of the poem.
From this general censure on Spenser's commentators, we must except one, who, though not professedly a commentator, has done more towards asserting the excellencies, and vindicating the plan and fable of the poet, than any af those who have undertaken regularly to criticise his works. We mean Bishop Hurd in his Letters on Chivalry and Romance, which are adınirably calculated to set the world right as to the principles upon which we ought to judge of many of our earliest writers, and to persuade those whose minds have been confined by the trammels of scholastic pedantry, that the Gothic structures of our ancestors have in thein a beauty and even symmetry peculiar to themselves, though pot reducible to any of the rules which they have been ace. customed to regard with exclusive veneration. Mr. Todd
appears to us to have entered on the task which 80 many former adventurers had failed of rendering unnecessary, with a mind very capable of relishing and display, ing the beauties of his author, and well stored with that species of information which was best calculated for rendering his labours effectual. If he has not succeeded in giving us
* The ingenious Abbé du Bos observes, happily enough, that · Hoper is Geometrician, in golpparison of Ariosto.'
that satisfaction wbich we expected from a gentleman of his abilities and acquirements, we shall probably discover the real cause of our disappointinent in that unliappy spirit of commentating which has so long prevailed, to the utter ex. clusion of sound investigation and useful enquiry, till almost all our ancient poets are involved in one common cloud of undistinguishable black-letter controversy,by piercing throug! wbich we in vain endeavour to find any new light, or to be regaled by the discovery of any fresh beanty. Nay, we must bardly venture to enjoy any of the passages which used to afford us delight, for fear of being damped by the unpleasant and mortifying information that our admiration is founded on wrong principles, or bestowed on a false object. The latter part of this observation is general, and we with pleasare except Mr. Todd from the severest part of the censure. We do not criticise his taste, which, we are sure, merits our commendation ; but we condemn his judgment. Deeply read in romances, he has, by their help, furnished many good illustrations, and pleasing parallels; and with regard to his own labours, he deserves more strongly to be reprehended for sins of omission, than of commission. But he has swelled out his book most unnecessarily with the comments and annotations of others ; and if, instead of republishing the whole heap of rubbish piled up by Hughes, Church, Upton, Jortin, and Wartun, and instead of treading in their foptsteps so much himself, or entering the lists with them so of ten on the most trifling occasions, he had made a judicious selection froin the labours of others, and bad applied his pwn mind to those historical researches by which alone Spenser can be fairly and perfectly illustrated, he would have accomplished a work much more highly creditable to his own talents, and more useful to the public.
We shall not enter more minutely into the exainination of the work before us. The title-page informs the reader that it is a new edition of an English poet, in which the il. lustrations of former commentators are preserved, and some new ones are added; and, unhappily, the 'Ex uno disce omnes applies with more force to this species of compilation than to any other that we are acquainted with. The account of our poet's life, which is prefixed, deserves some notice. On the early part of this history, Mr. Todd has been enabled, by his commendable diligence and the kind assistance of his friends, to bestow a good deal of additional and agreeable information; and we have derived great plea, sure from the perosal of so much of the correspondence of Spenser and his friend Gabriel Harvey, as Mr.T. has thought
worth transnitting to us. The strange and sophisticated taste of an age which invented English hexameters and trimeter jambics, becomes a highly entertaining subject of reflection, and increases our admiration of the poet, who after imbibing so largely of University pedantry, wis able to shake off the trammels of education and habit, and leaving his' peaceful province in Acrostic Land,'fly on the wings of genuine poetry and fancy to the delightful coast of Faerie: A good deal of information is also to be collected from vasious other parts of these loose memoirs, towards the conclusion of which Mr. T. corrects with great truth and accuracy a gross and almost wiltul error of the Laureate commentator, and exposes the absurd and idle fables which have so long beenhanded down with improvements and exaggerations,
froin failier to son, of Spenser's extreme poverty, and of his · absolutely dying of want and hunger. His life, or the greater
part of it, was certainly a scene of unmerited disappointment; and a little before his leaving Ireland for the last time, be experienced a calamity which was more than sufficient to discompose the philosophy of a pinetical mind, and which appears to have hastened his death. The traditional story of his servant losing the last six books of his poem, is also investigated, and controverted with great judgment; and it is, in our opinion, very satisfactorily proved that the poem was never carried much beyond the state in which we now have it, and that any little fragments or hints for succeeding books, if there were any, perished in the couflagration of his house at Kilcolinan.
As this is by far the longest specimen of original coin position with which Mr. T. has favoured us, it may be expected of us to pronounce a general opinion on the merits of the performance, and we will therefore, before we conclude this article, observe that his style is easy, and that of a gentleman of taste and learning; but it is too diffuse, too une connected, too comnon-place, and by scattering bis faets and his remarks in a desultory and negligent manner, he has made a languid compilation of what, with a very little labour and attention, might have been a highly interesting and elegant piece of critical biography.
We have not particularly noticed any of the works of ont poet but bis Faerie Queene; but our observations on bis commentators, and on Mr. Todd in particular, will apply in a sufficient degree to all. It is much to be regretted ibat the excellent and profound observations of Spenser in bris account of the state of Ireland, should bitherto bave met with no further attention than what Sir James are bestowed upon them so long ago. We find hardly a single observas tion, except as to points of mere verbal criticism, throughout that very useful and interesting work,
Art. XI:-Good's Translation of Lucretius,
(Continued from p. 183.)
THE second book of Lucretius, in proportion as it approaches nearer the more cramped doctrines of Epicurus, would naturally induce a belief that it recedes in the same proportion froń poetical merit. This, however, is not the case; for there are passages of interest and spirit not unfrequently interspersed with the wore unpromising mass of absurdities. In the examination of Mr. Good's translation, we shall turn the reader's attention towards them; and afford the English author the fairest opportunity of displaying his abilities on beautiful subjects.
The opening of this book immediately presents us with an illustration : and we are fully inclined to allow that Mr. Good has done justice to his original :
Suave, mari magno, turbantibus æquora ventis,
• How sweet to stand, when tempests tear the main,
Contending hosts! and hear the clash of war.' The above translation is sufficiently faithful, and we are happy in being able to produce so favourable a specimen. In the vote we felt our usual disappointment, wherein three passages are quoted as parallel, from Akenside, Beattie, and B. Jonson, which have no resein blance whatever to the sapposed prototype of Lucretius. Mr. G. appears to be sensible of the difficulty attending the comparison, as he has kindly condescended to print in italics what he presumes enforces it. For instance ; in Akenside, 'To climb the neighbouring cliffs,' is considered a resemblance. In Beat. tie, it is true, it person is figured looking at the sea, but no suchi conclusions are formed, as in Lucretius : and the se:lCrir. Rev. Vol. 7. April, 1806,