Page images
PDF
EPUB

ly domestic, and did not extend to what, in modern times, is denominated society. With all the severity of their character; the Romans aad much more rt-al tenderness than the Greeks,—though they repressed its external indications, as amon;; those marks of weakness which wen- unbecoming men intrusted with the interests and the honour of their country. Madame de Stiel has drawn a pretty picture of the parting of Brutus and Portia; and contrasted it. as a specimen of national character, with the Grecian group of Pericles pleading for Aspasia. The general observation, we are persuaded, is just; but the examples are not quite fairly chosen. Brutus is a little too good for an average of Roman virtue. If she had chosen Mark Antony, or Lepidus, the contrast would have been less brilliant. The self-control which their principles required of them—the law which they had imposed on themselves, to have no indulgence for suffering in thems4ves or in others, excluded tragedy from the range of their literature. Pity was never to be recognized by a Roman, but when it came in the shape of a noble clemency to a vanquished foe ;—and wailingsand complaints were never to disgust the ears of men, who knew how to act and to suffer in tranquillity. The very frequency of suicide in Rome, belonged to this characteristic. There was no other alternative, but to endure firmly, or to die ;—nor were importunate lamentations to Ъе endured from one who was free to quit life whenever he could not bear it without murmuring.

What has been said relates to the literature of republican Rome. The usurpation of Augustus gave a new character to her genius; rnd brought it back to those poetical studies with which most other nations have begun. The cause of this, too, is obvious. While liberty survived, the study of philosophy and oratory and history was but as an instrument in the'hands of a liberal and patriotic ambition, and naturally attracted the attention of aîl whose talents entitled them to aspire to the first dignities of the state. After an absolute government was established, those hish prizes were taken out of the lottery of lité; and the primitive usée of those noble instruments expired. There was no longer any safe or worthy end to be gained; by influencing the conduct, or fixing the principles of men. But it was still permitted to seek their applause by ministering to their delight; and talent and ambition, when excluded from the nobler career of political activity, naturally eonght for a humbler harvest of glory in the cultivation of poetry, and the arts of imagination. The poetry of the Romans, however, derived this advantage from the lateness of its origin, that it was enriched by all that knowledge of the human heart, and those habit« o/refl"Ction, which had been generated by the previous study of philosophy. There is uniformly more thought, therefore, and more development, both of reason and of moral feeling in the poets of the Augustan age, than ¡nan» of their Greek predecessors; and though

repressed in a good degree by the remains of their national austerity, there is also a great deal more tenderness of affection. In spite of the pathos of some scenes in Euripides. and the melancholy passion of some fragments of Simonides and Sappho, there is nothing at all like the fourth book of Virgil, the Alcmene, and Baucis and Philemon of Ovid, and some of the elegies of Tibullns. in the whole range of Greek literature. The memory of their departed freedom, too, conspired to give an air of sadness to much of the Roman poetry, and their feeling of the lateness of the age in which the v were born. The Greeks thought only of the present and the future; but the Romans had begun already, to live in the past, and to make pensive reflections on the laded glory of mankind. The historians of this classic age, though they have more of a moral character than those of Greece, are still but superficial teachers of wisdom. Their narration is more animated, and more pleasingly dramatised, by the orations with which it is interspersed ;—but they have neither the profound reflection of Tacitus, nor the power of explaining great events by general causes, which distinguishes the writers of modem tunes.

The atrocious tyranny that darkened the earlier ages of the empire, gave rise to the third school of Roman literature. The sufferings to which men were subjected, turned their thoughts inward on their own hearts; and that philosophy which had first been courted as the handmaid of a generous ambition, was now sought as a shelter and consolation in misery. The maxims of the Stoics were again revived,—not. indeed, to stimulate to noble exertion, but to harden against misfortune. Their lofty lessons of virtue were a:rain repeated—but with a bitter accent of despair and reproach; and that indulgence, or indifference towards vice, which liad characterised the first philosophers, was now converted, by the terrible experience of its evils, into vehement and gloomy invective. Seneca, Tacitus, Epictctus. all fall under this description; and the same spirit is discernible in Juvenal and Lucan. Much more profound views of human nature^ and a far greater moral sensibility characterise thisage,—and show that even me unspeakable degradation to which the abuse of power had then sunk the mistress of the world, could not arrest altogether that intellectual progress which gathers its treasures from all the varieties of human fortune. Quititilian and the two Plinys afford further evidence of this progress;—for they are, in point of thought and accuracy, and profound sense, conspicuously superior to any writers upon similar subjects in the days of Augustus. Poetry and the fine arts languish1 ed. indeed, under the rigours of this blasting ! despotism :—and it is honourable, on the whole, to the memory of their former great'ness, that so few Roman poets should have ! sullied their pens by any traces of adulation ! towards the monsters who then sat in the I place of power.

We pass over Madame de Staël's view of the middle ages, and of the manner in which '.lie mixture of the northern and southern races ameliorated the intellect and the morality of both. One great cause of their mutual improvement, however, she truly states to have been the general prevalence of Christianity; which, by the abolition of domestic slavery, ri'inoved the chief cause, both of the corruption and the ferocity of ancient manners. Byinvesting the conjugal union, too, with a sacred character of equality, it at once redressed the long injustice to which the female sex had been subjected, and blessed and gladdened private life with a new progeny of joys, and a new fund of knowledge of the most interesting description. Upon a subject of this kind, we naturally expect a woman to express herself with peculiar animation; and Madame de Staël has done it ample justice in the following, and iii other passages.

"C'est donc alors que les femmes commencèrent à être de moiiié dans l'association humaine. C'est alors aussi que l'on connut véritablement le bonheur domestique. Trop de puissance déprave la bonté, altère toutes les jouissances de la di'lii-att-s^e; les vertus et les scniimene ne peuvent résister d'une pari à l'exercice du pouvoir, de l'autre n l'habiiude de la crainte. La felicité de l'homme s'accrut de mute l'indépendance qu'obtint l'objet de sa tendresse; il put se croire aimé; un être libre le choisit; un cire libre obéit à ses désirs. Les арperçus de l'esprit, les nuances senties par le cœur se multiplièrent avec les idées et les impressions de ces âmes nouvelles, qui s'essayoient à l'existence morale, âpres avoir lonç-temps langui dans la vie. Les femmes n'ont point composé d'ouvrnges véritablement supérieurs; mais elles n'en ont pas moins éminemment servi les progrès de la littérature, pur la foule de pensées qu'ont inspirées aux hommes les relations entretenues avec ces êtres mobiles et dflicats. Tous les rapports se sont doubles, pour ainsi dire, depuis que lee objets ont été considérée Bous un point de vue lout-à-lait nouveau. La confiance d'un lienintime en a plus appris sur la nature morale, que tous les trairés et tous les systèmes qui peignoient l'homme tel qu'il se montre à l'homme, et non tel qu'il est réellement."—pp. 197, 198.

"Les femmes ont découvert dans les caractères une foule de nuances, que le besoin de dominer ou la crainte d'êirc asservies leur a fait apperci-voir: elles ont fourni au talent dramatique de nouveaux secrets pour émouvoir. Tous les sentimcns auxquels il leur est permis de se livrer, la crainte de la mort, le regret de la vie, le dévouement Fans bornes, l'indictiiition sans mesure, enrichissent la littérature d'expressions nouvelles. Dé-là vient que les moralistes modernes ont en général beaucoup plus de finesse et de sagacité dans la connoissance des hommes, que les moralistes de l'antiquité. Quiconque, chez les anciens, ne ponvoit atteindreà la renommée, n'avoit aucun motif de développement. Depuis qu'on est deux dans la vie domestique, les communications de l'esprit et l'exercice de la morale existent toujours, au moins dans nn petit cercle; les enfans sont devenus plus chers à leur parens, par ra tendresse réciproque qui forme le lien conjugal; et tontes les affections ont pris l'empreinte de cette divine alliance de l'amour et de l'amitié, de l'estime et de l'attrait, de la confiance méritée et de la séduction involontaire.

"Un âge aride, que la gloire et la vertu pouvoieni honorer, mais qui ne dcvoit plus cire ranimé par les émotions du cœur, la vieillesse f'est enrichie rie toutes les pensées de la mélancolie; il lui a été donné de ее ressouvenir, de regretter, d'aimer encore ce qu'elle avoit aimé. Les affections morales, unies, dès la jeunesse, aux prissions brûlantes, peuvent se prolonger par de nobles traces jusqu'à

la fin de l'existence, et laisser voir encore le même tableau Bous le crepe lunêbre du temps.

"Une sensibilité rêveuse et protonde est un des plus grands charmes de quelques ouvrages modernes; et ce sont les femmes qui, ni connoissant de la vie que la faculté d'aimer, ont fait passer 1л douceur de leurs impressions dans le s:yle de quelques écrivains. En lisant les livres composés depuis la renaissance des lettres, l'on pourroit marquer à chaque page, qu'elles sont les idées qu'on n'avoit pas. avant qu'on eut accordé aux temnitr» une sorte d'égalité civile. La générosité, la valeur, l'humanité, oui pris à quelques égards une acception différente. Toutes les vertus des anciens étoient fondées sur l'amour de la patrie; les lemtrea exercent leurs qualités d'une manière indépendante. La pitié pour la foiblcsse. la sympathie pour le malheur, une élévation d'âme, sans autre but que la jouissance même de celte élévation, sont beaucoup plus dans leur nature que les venue politiques. Lea modernes, influencés par les femmes, ont facilement cédé aux liens de la philanthropie; et l*esprit est devenue plus philosophiquement libre, en se livrant moins à l'empire des associations exclusives." —pp. 212—215.

It is principally to this cause that she

ascribes the improved morality of modern times. The improvement of their intellect she refers more generally to the accumulation of knowledge, and the experience of which they have had the benefit. Instead of the eager spirit of emulation, and the unweighed and rash enthusiasm which kindled the genius of antiquity into a sort of youthful or instinctive animation, we have a spirit of deep reflection, and a feeling of mingled melancholy and philanthropy, inspired by a more intimate knowledge of the sufferings, the affections, and the frailties of human nature. There is a certain touching and pathetic tone, therefore, diffused over almost all modern writings of the higher order; and in the art of agitating the soul, and moving the gentler affections of the heart, there i» nothing in all antiquity that can be considered as belotiffing to the same class with the writings of Bossuet or Rousseau—many passages in the English poets—and some few in those of Germany. The sciences, of course, have made prodigious advances; for in these nothing once gained can be lost,—and the mere elapse of aires supposes a vast accumulation. In morals, the progress has been greatest in the private virtues—in the sacred regard for life—in compassion, sympathy, and beneficence. Nothing, indeed, can illustrate the difference of the two systems more strikingly, than the opposite views they take of the relation of parent and child. Filial obedience and submission was enjoined by the ancient code with a rigour from which reason and justice equally revolt. According to onr present notions, parental love is a duty of at least mutual obligation; and as nature has placed the power of showing kindness almost exclusively in the hands of the father, it seems but reasonable that the exercise of it should at last be enjoined as a duty.

Madame de Staël begins her review of modem literature with that of Italy.. It was thoro that the manuscripts—the monuments —the works of art of the imperial nation, were lost;—and it was there, of course, tbat tney were ultimately recovered. The researches necessary for this, required authority and money; anil they were begun, accordingly, under the patronage of princes and academies:—circumstances favourable to the accumulation of knowledge, and the formation of mere scholars—but adverse to the development of original genius. The Italians, ai-cordmgly. have been scholars, and have furnished the rest of Europe with the implements of liberal study; but they have achieved little for themselves in the high philosophy of politics and morals—though they have to boast of Galileo, Cassini, and a loua list of celebrated names in the physical sciences. In treating of subjects of a large and commanding interest, they are almost always bombastic and shallow. Nothing, indeed, can be more just or acute than the following delineation of this part of their character.

"Les Italiens, accoutumes souvent à ne rien croire et à lout professer, se sont bien plus exercés dans la plaisanterie que dans le raisonnement. lisse moquent de leur propre manière d'être. Quand ils veulent renoncer à leur talent naturel, à l'esprit comique, pour essayer de l'éloquence oratoire, ils ont presque toujours de l'afiectalion. Les souvenirs d'une grandeur passée, sans aucun sentiment de grandeur présente, produisent le gigantesque. Les Italiens auroient de la dignité, si la plus sombre tristesse formntt leur caractère; mais quand les successeurs des Romains, privés de tout éclat national, de toute liberté politique, sont encore un des peuples les plus gais de la terre, ils ne peuvent avoir aucun élévation naturelle.

•• Les Italiens se moquent dans leur contes, et souvent même sur le théâtre, des prêtres, auxquels ils sont d'ailleurs entièrement asservis. Mais ce n'est point sous un point de vue philosophique qu'ils attaquent les abus de la religion. Ils n'ont pas, comme quelques-uns de nos écrivains, le but de réformer les défauts dont ils plaisantent; ce qu'ils veulent seulement, c>st s'amuser d'autant plus que le sujet est plus sérieux. Leurs opinions sont, dans le tond, assex opposées à loua les genres d'autorité auxquels ils sont soumis; mais cet esprit d'opposition n'a de force que ce qu'il faut pour pouvoir mépriser ceux qui les commandent. C'est la ruse des enfans envers leurs pédagogues; ils leur obéissent, à condition qu'il leur soit permis de s'en moquer."—p. 2-18.

In poetry, however, the brilliant imagination of the South was sure to re-assert its claims to admiration; and the first great poets of modern Italy had the advantage of opening up a new career for their talents. Poetical fiction, as it is now known in Europe, ."•ems to have liad two distinct sources. Among the fierce and illiterate nations of the North, nothing had any chance of being listened to, that did not relate to the feats of war in which it was their sole ambition to e\"i-l; and poetical invention was forced to display iteelf in those legends of chivalry, which contai» merely an exaggerated picture of scenes that were familiar to all their aui'.i'tore. In Asia, again, the terrors of a eanïainarvdespotism had driven men to express their émotions, and to insinuate their moral admonitions, in the form of apologues and fahlen; and ан these necessarily took a very \rild and improbable course, their fictions a&jumed a. much more extravagant and va

ried form than those of the northern romancers. The two styles however were brought together, partly by the effect of the crusades, and partly by the Moorish settlement in Spain; and Ariosto had the merit of first combining them into one, in that miraculous poem, which contains more painting, more variety, and more imagination, than any other poem in existence. The fictions of Boyardo are more purely in the taste of the Orientáis; and Tasso is imbued far more deeply with the spirit and manner of the Augustan classics.

The false refinements, the cwicetti, the ingenious turns and misplaced subtlety, which have so long been the reproach of the Italian literature, Madame de Staël ascribes to their early study of the Greek Theologians, and later Platonists, who were so much in favour at the first revival of learning. The nice distinctions and sparkling sophistries which these gentlemen applied, with considerable success, in argument, were unluckily transferred, by Petrarch, to subjects of love and gallantry; and the fashion was set of a most unnatural alliance between wit and passion— ingenuity and profound emotion,—which has turned out. as might have been expected, to the discredit of both the contracting parties. We admit the fact, and its consequences: but we do not agree as to the causes which are here supposed to have produced it. We really do not think that the polemics of Constantinople are answerable for this extravagance; and have little doubt that it originated in that desire to impress upon their productions the visible marks of labour and art, which is felt by almost all artists in the infancy of the study. As all men can speak, and set words together in a natural order, it was likely to occur to those who first made an art of composition, and challenged general admiration for an arrangement of words, that it was necessary to make a very strong and conspicuous distinction between their compositions and ordinary and casual discourse; and to proclaim to the most careless reader or hearer, that a great difficulty had been surmounted, and something effected which every one was not in a condition to accomplish. This feeling, we have no doubt, first gave occasion to versification in all languages; and will serve to account, in a good degree, for the priority of metrical to prose compositions: but where versification was remarkably easy, or already familiar, some visible badge of artifice would also be required in the thought; and. accordingly, there seems to have been a certain stage in the progress of almost all literature, in which this excess has been committed. In Italy, it occurred so early as the time of Petrarch. In France, it became conspicuous in the writings of Voiture, Balsac, and all that coterie; and in England, in Cowley, Donne, and the whole tribe of metaphysical poets. Simplicity, in short, is the last attainment of progressive literature; and men are very long afraid of being natural, from the dread of being taken for ordinary. There is a simplicity, indeed, that is antecedent to the existence of acytniiig like literanambition or critical taste in a nation,—the simplicity of the primitive ballads and legends of all rude nations; but adera certain degree of taste has been created, and composition has become an object of pretty general attention, simplicity is sure to be despised for a considerable period; and indeed, to be pretty uniformly violated in practice, even after it is restored to nominal honour and veneration.

We do not, however, agree the less cordially with Madame de Staél in her remarks upon the irreparable injury which affectation does to taste and to character. The following is marked with all her spirit and sagacity.

"L'affectation est de tous les défauts des caractères ei des écrits, celui qui toril de la manière la plus irréparable la source de tout bien; car elle blase sur la vérité même, dont elle imite l'accent. Dans quelque genre que ce soit, tous les mots qui ont servi à des idées fausses, à de froides exagérations, sont pendant long-temps frappée d'aridité; et telle langue même peut perdre entièrement la puissance d'émouvoir sur lel sujet, si elle a été trop souvent prodiguée à ce sujet même. Ainsi peut-être l'Italien est-il de toutes les langues de l'h'.urope la moins propre à l'éloquence passionnée de l'amour, comme la nôtre est maintenant usée pour l'éloquence de la liberté."—pp. 241, 242.

Their superstition and tyranny—their inquisition and arbitrary governments have arrested the progress of the Italians—as they have in a great degree prevented that of the Spaniards in the career of letters and philosophy. But for this, the Spanish genius would probably have gone far. Their early romances show a grandeur of conception, and a genuine enthusiasm; and their dramas, though irregular, are full of spirit and invention. Though bombastic and unnatural in most of their serious compositions, their extravagance is not so cold and artificial as that of the Italians; but seems rather to proceed from a natural exaggeration of the fancy, and an inconsiderate straining after a magnificence which they had not skill or patience to attain.

We come now to the literature of the North, —by which name Madame de Staël designates the literature of England and Germany, and on which she passes an encomium which wo scarcely expected from a native of the South. She startles us a little, indeed, when she sets oif with a dashing parallel between Homer and Ossian; and proceeds to say, that the peculiar character of the northern literature has all been derived from that Patriarch of the Celts, in the same way as that of the south of Europe may be ultimately traced back to the genius of Homer. It is certainly rather against this hypothesis, that the said Ossian has only been known to the readers and writers ol the \orth for about forty years from the present day, and has not been held in especial reverence by those who have most distinguished themselves in that short period. However, we shall suppose that Madame de Staél means only, that the style of Ossian reunites the peculiarities that distinguish the northern school of letters, and may be supposed to exhibit them such as they were before the introduction of the classical and Boulheru models. We rather think she is

right in saying, that there is a radical difference in the taste and genius of the two regions; and that there is more melancholy, more tenderness, more deep feeling and tixed and lofty passion, engendered among the clouds and mountains of the North, than upon the summer seas or beneath the perfumed groves of the South. The causes of the difference arc not perhaps so satisfactorily suited. Madame de Staël gives the first place to the climate.

Another characteristic is the hereditary independence of the northern tribes—arising partly from their scattered population and inaccessible retreats, and partly from the physical force and hardihood which their way of life, and the exertions requisite to procure subsistence in those regions, necessarily produced. Their religious creed, too, even before their conversion to Christianity, was less fantastic, and more capable of leading to heroic emotions than that of the southern nations. The respect and tenderness with which they always regarded their women, is another cause (or effect) of the peculiarity of their national character; and, in later times, their general adoption of the Protestant faith has tended to confirm that character. For our own part, we are inclined to ascribe more weight to the last circumstance, than to ail the others that have been mentioned; and that not merely from the better education which it is the genius of Protestantism to bestow on the lower orders, but from the necessary effect of the universal study of the Scriptures which it enjoins. A very great proportion of the Protestant population of Europe is familiarly acquainted with the Bible; and there are many who are acquainted with scarcely any other book. Now, the Bible is not only full of lessons of patience and humility and compassion, but abounds with a gloomy and awful poetry, which cannot fail to make a powerful impression on minds that are not exposed to any other, and receive this under the persuasion of its divine origin. The peculiar character, therefore, which Madame de Staël has ascribed to the people of the North in general, will now be found, we believe, to belong only to such of them as profess the reformed religion; and to be discernible in all the communities that maintain that profession, without much regard to the degree of latitude which they inhabit—though at the same time it is unde

Í niable, that its general adoption in the North must be explained by some of the more general causes which we have shortly indicated above.

The ¡rreat fault which the French impute to the writers of the North, is want of taMe and politeness. They generally admit that they have genius; but contend that they do not know how to use it; while their partisans maintain, that what is called want of taste is merely excess of genius, and independence of pedantic rules and authorities. Madame de Staël, though admitting the transcendent merits of some of the English writers, takes

i part, upon the whole, against them in Util controversy; and. after professing her unqualilied preference of a piece compounded of great blemishes and great beauties, compared with one free of faults, but distinguished by little "xeellence, proceeds very wisely to remark, fiat it would be still better if the great faults were corrected—and that it is but a bad species of independence which manifests itself by Dp ing occasionally offensive: and then she attacks Shakespeare, as usual, for ¡nterspers^ ing so many puerilities and absurdities and grossièretés with his sublime and pathetic passages.

Now, there is no denying, that a poem would be better without faults; and that judicious painters use shades only to set off their pictures, and not blots. But there are two little remarks to be made. In the first place, if it be true that an extreme horror at faults is usually found to exclude a variety of beauties, and that a poet can scarcely ever attain the higher excellencies of his art, without some degree of that rash and headlong confidence which naturally gives rise to blemishes and excesses, it may not be quite so absurd to hold, that this temperament and disposition, with all its hazards, deserves encouragement, and to speak with indulgence of faults that are symptomatic of great beauties. There is a primitive fertility of soil that naturally throws out weeds along with the matchless crops which it alone can bear; and «~e might reasonably grudge to reduce its ••¡sour lor the sake of purifying its produce. There are certain savage virtues that can "cárcely exist in perfection in a state of complete civilization; and, as specimens at least, we may wish to preserve, and be allowed to admire them, with all their exceptionable accompaniments. It is easy to say, that there is no necessary connection between the faults and the beauties of our great dramatist; but the fact is. that since men have become afraid of falling into his faults, no one !: is approached to his beauties; and we have already endeavoured, on more than one occasion, to explain the grounds of this connection.

But our second remark is, hat it is not quite iair to represent the controversy as arising altogether from the excessive and undue indulgence of the English for the admitted faults of their favourite authors, and their perfistinc to idolize Shakespeare in spite of his buffooneries, extravagancies, and bombast. We admit that he has those faults: and. as they are faults, that he would be better without them: but there are many more things which the French call faults, but which we deliberately consider as beauties. And here, we suspect, the dispute does not admit of any »ettlement: Because both parties, if they are really sincere in their opinion, and understand the subject of discussion, may very well be riifht. and for that very reason incapable of coming to any agreement. We consider taste !o mean merely the faculty of receiving pleasure from beauty; and, so far as relates to the ]*-;*fm receiving that pleasure, we apprehend it to admit of little doubt, that the best taste

is that which enables him to receive the greatest quantity of pleasure from the greatest number of things. With regard to the author again, or artist of any other description, who pretends to bestow the pleasure, his object of course should be, to give as much, and to as many persons as possible; and especially to those who, from their rank and education, are likely to regulate the judgment of the remainder. It is his business therefore to ascertain what does please the greater part of such persons; and to fashion his productions according to the rules of taste which may be deduced from that discovery. Now. we humbly conceive it to be a complete ano. final justification for the whole body of the English nation, who understand French as \vell as English and yet prefer Shakespeare to Racine, just to state, modestly and firmly, the fact of that preference; and to declare, that their habits and tempers, and studies and occupations, have been such as to make them receive far greater pleasure from the more varied imagery—the more flexible tone—the closer imitation of nature—the more rapid succession of incident, and vehement bursts of passion of the English author, than from the unvarying majesty—the elaborate argument —and epigrammatic poetry of the French dramatist. For the taste of the nation at large, we really cannot conceive that any other apology can be necessary: and though it might be very desirable that they should agree with their neighbours upon this point, as well as upon many others, we can scarcely imagine any upon which their disagreement could be attended with less inconvenience. For the authors, again, that have the misfortune not to be so much admired by the adjoining nations as by their own countrymen, we can only suggest, that this is a very common misfortune; and that, as they wrote in the language of their country, and will probably be always most read within its limits, it wns not perhaps altogether unwise or unpardonable in them to accommodate themselves to the taste which was there established.

Madame de Staël has a separate chapter upon Shakespeare; in which she gives him full credit for originality, and for havirg been the first, and perhaps the only considerable author, who did not copy from preceding models, but drew all his greater conceptions directly from his own feelings and observations. His representations of human passions, therefore, are incomparably more true and touching, than those of any other writer; and are presented, moreover, in a far more elementary and simple state, and without any of those circumstances of dignity or contrast with which feebler artists seem to have held it indispensable that they should be set off. She considers him as the first writer who has ventured upon the picture of overwhelming sorrow and hopeless wretchedness ;—that de eolation of the heart, which arises from the long contemplation of ruined hope« and irre parable privation ;—that inward anguish and bitterness of soul which the public life of the ancients prevented them from feeling, and

« PreviousContinue »