Obrázky na stránke

freely from the imagination, and not to be squeezed from the droppings of the brain. If we would endeavour to acquire a full idea of what we mean to describe, we should then of course express ourselves with force, elegance, and perspicuity; and this native strength of expression would have more true energy than elaborate phrases, and a quaint and studied combination of words and letters. Fine numbers are undoubtedly one of the chief beauties in poetry; but to make the sound echo to the sense we should make the sense ourchief object. This appears to me to have been the manly practice of the ancients, and of our own Shakspeare, Milton, &c. who breathed the true spirit of poetry, without having recourse to little tricks and mean artifices which only serve to disgrace it. A good writer, who would be above trifling even with a thought, would never pursue words, and play with letters, but leave such a childish employment for the small fry of mers, who amuse themselves with anagrams and rhycrambo. The true poet trusts to his natural ear and strong conception, and knows that the versification is adapted to the sentiment, without culling particular letters, and stringing them on his lines; as he is sure that his verses are just measure, without scanning them on his fingers.

There are almost daily published certain Lilliputian volumes entitled pretty books for children. A friend of mine, who considers the little rhymers of the age as only "children of a larger growth," that amuse themselves with rhymes instead of rattles, proposes to publish a small pocket volume for the use of our poetasters. It will be a Treatise on the Art of Poetry adapted to the meanest capacities, for which subscriptions will be taken, and specimens may be seen, at George's and the Bedford coffee-houses. It will contain full directions how to modulate the numbers on every occasion, and will instruct the young scribbler

in all the modern arts of versification. He will here meet with infallible rules how to soften a line, and lull us to sleep with liquids and diphthongs; to roughen the verse and make it roar again with reiteration of the letter R; to set it hissing with semi-vowels; to make it pant and breathe short with an hundred heavy aspirates; or clog it up with the thickest double consonants and monosyllables: with a particular table of alliteration, containing the choicest epithets, disposed into alphabetical order; so that any substantive may be readily paired with a word beginning with the same letter, which, (though a mere expletive) shall seem to carry more force and sentiment in it, than any other of a more relative meaning, but more distant sound. The whole to be illustrated with examples from the modern poets. This elaborate work will be published about the middle of the winter, under the title of the Rhymer's Play-thing, or Poetaster's Horn-book; since there is nothing necessary to form such a poet, except teaching him his letters.




.Tu, dum tua navis in alto est.

Hoc age.............


Think, sailors, think, though landmen are your hate,
Who likes a mere tarpaulin but his mate!


To Mr. Town.

YOU obliged the world some time ago with a few reflections on the gentlemen of the army: at the present juncture, a word or two on our sea-officers would not be unseasonable. I do not mean, that you should presume to direct them how to behave in their several stations, but rather to remark on their conduct and conversation in private life, as far as they are influenced by their maritime characters. There is a certain unfashionable dye, which their names often take from the salt water, that tinctures their whole behaviour on shore. If you could assist in blotting out these stains, and give a new colour to their conduct, you would add grace and politeness to their ordinary conversation, and would be of as much service to our naval commanders in this point, as he was to navigation in general, who first invented the compass.

As the conversation of those fair-weather foplings, many of whom may be met with in the three regiments of guards, is usually flat and insipid, that of our sea-officers is turbulent and boisterous, and as a trip to Paris has perhaps over-refined the coxcomb in red, a voyage round the globe frequently brutalizes the seaman, who comes home so rough and unpolished, that one would imagine he had not visited any nation in the world, except the savages, or the Hottentots.

The many advantages he has received from having seen the customs and manners of so many different people, it is natural to suppose, would render his conversation very desirable, as being in itself particularly instructive and entertaining; but this roughness, which clings to the seaman's behaviour, like tar to his trowsers, makes him unfit for all civil and polite society. He behaves at an assembly as if he was upon deck and his whole deportment manifestly betrays, that he is according to the common phrase, quite out of his element. Nor can you collect any more from him concerning the several nations he has visited, than if he had been during the whole time confined to his cabin: and he seems to know as little of them as the fine gentleman of his travels after the polite tour, when he has for the sake of improvement, rid post through all Europe.


That our ordinary seamen, who are many of them draughted from the very lowest of the populace, should be thus uncivilized, is no wonder. The common sailor's education in Tottenham Court, or at Hockley in the Hole, has not qualified him to improve by just reflections on what he sees during his voyage; and going on board a man of war is a kind of university education, suitably adapted to the principles imbibed in the polite seminaries which he came from. A common sailor too is full as polite as a common soldier; and behaves as genteelly to a Wapping landlady, as the gentleman soldier at a suttling-house. But surely there ought to be as much difference in the behaviour of the commander and his crew, as there is in their situation: and it is beneath the dignity of the British flag to have an admiral behave as rudely as a swabber, or a commodore as foul-mouthed as a boatswain.

It may perhaps be alledged in excuse, that the be¡ng placed among such a set of boisterous people as

our common sailors, must unavoidably wear off all politeness and good manners: as it is remarkable, that all those, who are employed in the care of horses, grow as mere brutes as the animals they attend; and as we may often observe those justices, whose chief business is the examination of highwaymen, housebreakers, and street-walkers, become as vulgar and foul-mouthed as a pick-pocket. As there may be some truth in this, the commander should therefore be still more on his guard to preserve the gentleman in his behaviour, and like a sea itself, when the storm is over, grow smooth and calm. It is accounted a piece of humour on the Thames to abuse the other passengers on the water: and there are certain set terms of abuse, which fly to and fro' from one boat to another on this occasion. A wag might perhaps amuse himself with this water language in his voyage to Vauxhall, but must be a very silly fellow indeed, to think of carrying the joke on shore with him. In the same manner some roughness may be necessary to keep the crew in order, but is absurd for an officer to retain his harshness in polite company; and is in a manner tying his friends up to the yard-arm, and disciplining his acquaintance with the cat-of-nine-tails.

But the worst part of this maritime character is a certain invincible contempt which they often contract for all mankind, except their fellow-seamen. They look upon the rest of the world as a set of freshwater wretches, who could be of no service in a storm or an engagement; and from an unaccountable obstinacy are particularly deaf to any proposals of new improvements in navigation: though experience dai ly teaches them the great use of the discoveries already made, and how much room there is for more. They have no notion how studious men can sit at home, and devise charts and instruments to direct them in their course; they despise those ingenious persons

« PredošláPokračovať »