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ment against the existence or value of some peculiar and subtle beauty in the pictorial art. It is not every spectator who understands the expression of Raphael's faces. When a pedantic coxcomb was lauding that great artist to the skies, in the presence of Northcote, the latter could not help saying, “ If there was nothing in Raphael but what you can see, we should not now be talking of him.”

The effect of Imitative Harmony in verse is generally best appreciated by a learned ear and a cultivated taste ; but it is in some instances of so palpable a character as to be perceptible to the dullest reader, though he is not perhaps able to explain the

Imitative harmony in verse is not a modern discovery or invention. Homer has been celebrated as the poet, who of all others exhibited the happiest adaptation of sense to sound. Vida, in his Art of Poetry, has illustrated Virgil's great excellence in this respect. In point of fact, the art of selecting sounds expressive of things is resorted to even in common conversation. All good Poets, and even Orators, attend more or less closely to the rule in question, though often quite unconsciously. The passions naturally suggest fit and faithful sounds. Love and sorrow prompt smooth and melodious expressions, and violent emotions obtain utterance in words harsh, hurried, and abrupt. We see therefore that this critical canon is founded in nature. It is not, however, to be denied, that like many other good rules we may make a great deal too much of it ; for a too eager and ambitious attempt to copy nature in this respect may lead to a total want of it; as those writers who are pathetic or passionate on system become mawkish and ridiculous. The poet should trust wholly to his genuine impulses, unless he have art enough to hide his art, which comes after all to the same thing, for the perfection of art is nature.

Those readers who are not already familiar with Christopher Pitt's translation of Vida would do well to turn to it, if they feel


any interest in the subject of this paper*. Pitt was not a poet. He wanted fancy and passion ; but he was a classical scholar and a correct and skilful versifier. His translation of the Æneid, though greatly inferior to Dryden's, has been praised by Johnson, and his Vida's Art of Poetry was once popular. It is curious to compare his translation of Vida with those passages which Pope has imitated in his Essay on Criticism. The following is one of the most celebrated examples of imitative harmony in the English language :

Soft is the strain when Zephyr gently blows,
And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows;
But when loud surges lash the sounding shore,
The hoarse, rough verse should like the torrent roar.
When Ajax strives some rock's vast weight to throw,
The line too labours, and the words move slow;
Not so when swift Camilla scours the plain,
Flies o'er the unbending corn and skims along the main.

Pope's Essay on Criticism.

Let us compare these lines with the translation of the correspondent passage in Vida :

every limb,

When things are small, the terms should still be so,
For low words please us when the theme is low.
But when some giant, horrible and grim,
Enormous in his gait, and vast in
Comes towering on ; the swelling words must rise
In just proportion to the monster's size.
If some large weight his huge arms strive to shove
The verse too labours; the thronged words scarce move.
When each stiff clod beneath the ponderous plough
Crumbles and breaks, th’ encumbered lines march slow.

* Or they may go to the Latin original, which Pope seems to have read with great delight. He has paid the author a handsome tribute of admiration.

Immortal Vida ! on whose honored brow
The poet's bays and critic's ivy grow!
Cremona now shall ever boast thy name,
As next in place to Mantua, next in fame!


Not less, when pilots catch the friendly gales,
Unfurl their shrouds and hoist the wide-stretched sails.
But if the poem suffer from delay
Let the lines fly precipitate away;
And when the viper issues from the brake,
Be quick : with stones, and brands, and fire attack
His rising crest, and drive the serpent back.

Pitt's Vida.

Some of the lines in italics are so admirable, that I cannot help preferring them to those of Pope. The overflowing of the second italic line, as if the object were too vast for the usual limit of the verse, and the abrupt yet sonorous termination in the middle of the third line, are contrived with exquisite skill and judgment. The rapidity of the last four lines is also a highly successful exertion of poetical art, and is greatly superior to Pope's illustration of quick motion. His last long lumbering line is any thing but expressive of extreme swiftness, and as Johnson has rightly observed, the word unbending is one of the most sluggish in the language. The line gives an idea of space, but not of celerity. How superior, as an example of quickness, is the following:

Let the lines fly precipitate away.

And how exceedingly felicitous is the pause at “Be quick”and the eager enumeration of the means of destruction !

But in the illustration of smoothness and of toil, Pope is very superior to Pitt, and he also exhibits a great advantage over him in the general elegance and finish of his performance. Pitt has been obliged to borrow several of Pope's expressions, and some of his own are wretchedly prosaic. Strive to shove," for instance, is detestable. The ensuing couplets are not to be compared to the first four lines in the extract from Pope :

To the loud call each distant rock replies ;
Tossed by the storm the towering surges rise ;

While the hoarse ocean beats the sounding shore,
Dashed from the strand the flying waters roar,
Flash at the shock, and gathering in a heap,
The liquid mountains rise, and overhang the deep.
But when blue Neptune from his car surveys,
And calms at one regard the raging seas,
Stretched like a peaceful lake the deep subsides,
And the pitched vessel o’er the surface glides.

Pitt's Vida

This is tame and prosaic, with the exception of the Alexandrine in italics, which is highly expressive and picturesque. I must here quote a couplet from Wordsworth.

And see the children sporting on the shore,
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.

The second is a magnificent line, and has an immortal air. The sound and the sense are equally impressive. It is even superior to a similar passage in Shelley.

-And hear the sea
Breathe o'er my dying brain its last monotony.

While on the subject of the sea, I may as well also refer to Lord Byron, whose oceanic poetry has many fine illustrations of Pope's favorite rule. What a free, wave-like, sweeping harmony pervades the following exquisite stanza :

Once more upon the waters ! yet once more !
And the waves bound beneath me like a steed
That knows its rider. Welcome to their roar!
Swift be their guidance wheresoe'er it lead !
Though the strained mast should quiver as a reed,
And the rent canvas fluttering strew the gale,
Still must I on; for I am as a weed
Flung from the rock on ocean's foam to sail
Where'er the surge may sweep, the tempest's breath prevail !

The harmony of this splendid Spenserean stanza, (a form of verse which Shelley considered inexpressibly delightful) is quite perfect, and the ideas are in unison with the music. For some portion of its excellence the noble poet was perhaps indebted to James Montgomery, of Sheffield, who had previously written :

He only, like the ocean-weed uptorn
And loose along the world of waters borne,
Was cast, companionless, from wave to wave.

In Lord Byron's grand and vivid description of a storm amongst the mountains, there is a specimen of imitative harmony.

Far along
From peak to peak, the rattling crags among,
Leaps the live thunder!

But let me return to Pope, who after all has given us more specimens of this peculiar beauty than almost any other poet. What an admirable illustration of a lame Alexandrine is the following:

A needless Alexandrine ends the song,
And, like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along,

The hitch in the verse at the word drags has an excellent effect and completes the image. But Alexandrines are not always "needless,” though in the heroic couplet they can very rarely be introduced without an awkward effect. In winding up the volume of sweet sounds in the Spenserean stanza, their grace and fitness are unquestionable. It is absolutely necessary, however, that the cæsural pause should be after the sixth syllable, or the line halts, and “drags, like a wounded snake.” It has always excited my surprise that Shelley, who was deeply learned in the mysteries of versification, should have so frequently transgressed this rule. Byron, Campbell and others have been guilty

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