BY EDGAR A. POE.
(Concluded from page
The taste manifested by our
is to be treated "reverentially," beyond doubt, as one of Mr. Emerson's
friends suggests — for the fact is, it is Taste on her death-bed —
kicking in articulo mortis.
I should not say, of Taglioni,
exactly that she dances,
but that she laughs with her arms and legs, and that if she takes
on her present oppressors, she will be amply justified by the lex
The world is infested, just now, by a
new sect of
philosophers, who have not yet suspected themselves of forming a sect,
and who, consequently, have adopted no name. They are the Believers
in everything Old. Their High Priest in the East, is Charles
— in the West, Horace Greeley; and high priests they are to some
The only common bond among the sect, is Credulity: — let us call it
at once, and be done with it. Ask any one of them why he
this or that, and, if he be conscientious, (ignorant people usually
) he will make you very much such a reply as Talleyrand made when asked
why he believed in the Bible. "I believe in it first," said he,
I am Bishop of Autun; and, secondly, because I know nothing about
at all." What these philosophers call "argument," is a way they
"de nier ce qui est et d'expliquer ce qui n'est pas." *
K ——— , the publisher, trying to be
about books pretty much as a washerwoman would about Niagara falls or a
poulterer about a phoenix.
The ingenuity of critical malice
would often be laughable
but for the disgust which, even in the most perverted spirits,
never fails to excite. A common trick is that of decrying,
the higher, by insisting upon the lower, merits of an author. Macaulay,
for example, deeply feeling how much critical acumen is enforced by
attention to the mere " rhetoric " which is its vehicle, has at length
become the best of modern rhetoricians. His brother reviewers
anonymous, of course, and likely to remain so forever — extol " the
of Carlyle, the analysis of Schlegel, and the style of
Bancroft is a philosophical historian; but no amount of philosophy has
yet taught him to despise a minute accuracy in point of fact. His brother
historians talk of " the grace of Prescott, the
erudition of Gibbon,
and the painstaking precision of Bancroft."
how vividly an imaginative effect is aided, now and then, by a certain
quaintness judiciously introduced, brings this latter, at times, in
of his most glorious and most delicate imagination: — whereupon his brother
poets hasten to laud the imagination of Mr. Somebody
whom nobody imagined
to have any, " and the somewhat affected quaintness of
— Let the noblest poet add to his other excellences — if he dares —
of faultless versification and scrupulous attention to grammar, he is
at once. His rivals have it in their power to discourse of " A. the
poet, and B. the versifier and disciple of Lindley Murray."
The goddess Laverna, who is a head
without a body,
could not do better, perhaps, than make advances to "La Jeune France,"
which, for some years to come at least, must otherwise remain a body
H ——— calls his verse a "poem," very
much as Francis
the First bestowed the title, mes deserts, upon his snug
deer-park at Fontainebleau.
Mr. A ——— is frequently spoken of as
"one of our
most industrious writers; " and, in fact, when we consider how much he
has written, we perceive, at once, that he must have been
or he could never (like an honest woman as he is) have so thoroughly
in keeping himself from being " talked about. "
That a cause leads to an effect, is
certain than that, so far as Morals are concerned, a repetition of
tends to the generation of cause. Herein lies the principle of what we
so vaguely term "Habit."
With the exception of Tennyson's
I have never read a poem combining so much of the fiercest passion with
so much of, the most delicate imagination, as the "Lady Geraldine's
of Miss Barrett. I am forced to admit, however, that the latter work is
a palpable imitation of the former, which it surpasses in thesis as
as it falls below it in a certain calm energy, lustrous and indomitable
— such as we might imagine in a broad river of molten gold.
What has become of the inferior
planet which Decuppis,
about nine years ago, declared he saw traversing the disc of the sun ?
"Ignorance is bliss " — but, that the
bliss be real,
the ignorance must be so profound as not to suspect itself ignorant.
this understanding, Boileau's line may be read thus:
Le plus fou toujours est le plus
— "toujours" in place of "souvent."
Bryant and Street are both,
poets; and descriptive poetry, even in its happiest manifestation, is not
of the highest order. But the distinction between
Bryant and Street
is very broad. While the former, in reproducing the sensible images of
Nature, reproduces the sentiments with which he regards them, the
gives us the images and nothing beyond. He never forces us to feel what
we feel he must have felt.
In lauding Beauty, Genius merely
evinces a filial
affection. To Genius Beauty gives life — reaping often a reward in
And this is the "American Drama " of
Well ! — that
"Conscience which makes cowards of us all" will permit me to say, in
of the performance, only that it is not quite so bad as I expected it
be. But then I always expect too much.
What we feel to be Fancy will be
found fanciful still,
whatever be the theme which engages it. No subject exalts it
Imagination. When Moore is termed " a fanciful poet," the epithet is
with precision. He is. He is fanciful in " Lalla Rookh," and had he
the `'Inferno," in the " Inferno " he would have contrived to be still
fanciful and nothing beyond.
When we speak of "a suspicious man,"
we may mean
either one who suspects, or one to be suspected. Our language needs
the adjective "suspectful," or the adjective "suspectable."
"To love," says Spenser, " is
To fawn, to crouch, to wait, to ride, to run,
To speed, to give, to want, to be undone."
The philosophy, here, might be rendered more profound, by the mere
omission of a comma. We all know the willing blindness — the voluntary
madness of Love. We express this in thus punctuating
the last line:
To speed, to give — to want to be undone.
It is a case, in short, where we gain a point by omitting it.
Miss Edgeworth seems to have had only
comprehension of "Fashion," for she says: "If it was the fashion to
me, and I at the stake, I hardly know ten persons of my acquaintance
would refuse to throw on a fagot."
There are many who, in such a case, would "refuse to throw on
a fagot " — for fear of smothering out the fire.
I am beginning to think with Horsely
— that "the
People have nothing to do with the laws but to obey them."
"It is not fair to review my book
it," says Mr. Mathews, talking at the critics, and, as usual, expecting
impossibilities. The man who is clever enough to write such a work, is
clever enough to read it, no doubt; but we should not look for so much
talent in the world at large. Mr. Mathews will not Imagine that I mean
to blame him. The book alone is in fault, after all. The fact
that, "es lasst sick nicht lesen " — it will not permit itself
to be read. Being a hobby of Mr. Mathews', and brimful of spirit, it
let nobody mount it but Mr. Mathews.
It is only to teach his children
G— wears a boot the picture of Italy upon the map.
In his great Dictionary, Webster
seems to have had
an idea of being more English than the English — "plus Arabe qu'en
* Count Anthony
That there were once "seven wise men
" is by no means,
strictly speaking, an historical fact; and I am rather inclined to rank
the idea among the Kabbala.
Painting their faces to look like
of our critics manage to resemble him, at length, as a Massaccian does
a Raffaellian Virgin; and, except that the former is feebler and
than the other — suggesting the idea of its being the ghost of the
— not one connoisseur in ten can perceive any difference. But then,
even the street lazzaroni can feel the distinction.