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deeds of antiquity, instructs posterity. But he who, without the madness of the Muses, approaches the gates of poesy under the persuasion that by means of art he can become an efficient poet, both himself fails in his purpose, and his poetry being that of a sane man, is thrown into the shade by the poetry of such as are mad."1 Now if this doctrine were freed from the metaphor by which it is pervaded, and reduced to plain language, I doubt not that we should find a large measure of truth in it; but even when we discount the metaphor, it still leaves us in some state of mystification as to the real nature of poets and poetry, and rather under the impression that Parnassus should be sought within the grounds of Bedlam.

3. The Doctrine of Sidney and Shakespeare.-Sir Philip Sidney gravely tells us that true poets "borrow nothing of what is, hath been, or shall be, but range only rayned with learned discretion into the divine consideration of what may and should be," 2 than which I can scarcely imagine a more hopeless doctrine; whilst Shakespeare, in 'As You Like It,' makes the casual remark: "The truest poesy is the most feigning.' I venture to say that he could not have thrown wider of the mark. I think we shall find, and I hope to prove, that the truest poesy is the least feigning,— that indeed there is no poetry at all if it be not aglow with heart conviction and with heart purpose.


4. Of Fielding.-Trying to lay down a principle in the Novelist's art, Fielding says in his 'Joseph

1 'Phædrus.'


2 Apologie for Poetry,' pp. 28, 52.

3 Parallel with Dorante's doctrine in 'La Critique de l'Ecole des Femmes': Lorsque vous peignez des heros, vous faites ce que vous voulez," &c. (Sc. vii.) a prodigious mistake to do so, and one, probably, which accounts for the presence of so much rodomontade in so many plays.



Andrews': "I describe not men but manners; not an individual, but a species." From this principle, again, I am afraid we shall not derive much enlightenment. Take, for example, Parson Adams in that very novel. It seems to me that he lives and breathes in its pages-how? By virtue of his individual vitality alone. In reading of his exploits our thoughts dwell not on "the species at all; they are wholly absorbed by the individual, Parson Adams. He stands alone in the Universe like Don Quixote, or Sir John Falstaff, or Baron Bradwardine. The problem for the novelist and the dramatist is, I should say, to produce vital and interesting individuals.


5. Of The Spectator.'-But even when we consult the professional critics and writers on esthetics, they often leave us in a state of great perplexity as to the principles of their science. Thus in 'The Spectator,' No. 409, Addison speaks of discovering new beauties and of "receiving stronger impressions from the masterly strokes of the great authors every time he peruses them." All very well; but he completely fails to show wherein this mastership consists, or how it may be analysed and exhibited. He is equally vague and unhelpful throughout Nos. 412 and 417. It should, however, be mentioned that he is quite cognisant of the crude state of criticism as a science, and that he expresses a wish that there were authors besides the mechanical rules which a man of very little taste may discourse upon, would enter into the very spirit and soul of fine writing and show us the several sources of that pleasure which rises in the mind upon the perusal of a noble work."


6. Of Dr Johnson.-With all his scholarship, Dr Johnson also fails to impress one as a critic. He spoke common-sense on many subjects, but

was sometimes apt to relapse into mere jargon when he engaged in literary criticism. Thus, what are we to make of his remarks on Akenside's 'Pleasures of the Imagination'? That work, he gravely informs us, "includes all images that can strike or please, and thus comprises every species of poetical delight." 1 In this appraisement it seems to me that there is no more criticism than in the loud and soulless beating of a drum. In another place the learned author says oracularly that "contemplative piety cannot be poetical." 2 For my part I don't think it would be difficult to show that some of the noblest passages in the whole range of poetry, from the Psalms of David downwards, have been written in the spirit of contemplative piety, and that they mainly give expression to that very spirit. After such deliverances we need scarcely wonder when he speaks of the old ballad of "Chevy Chase "— which certainly contains some vital and stirring stanzas-as a piece of "chill and lifeless imbecility." 4 It may well be granted, however, that many of the Ballads have but little intrinsic worth beyond that which they possess as the literary fare of uncritical and unlettered folk.

7. Aristotle on Art.-We are no less perplexed with the doctrines and criticisms of some of the art critics. "Art," says Aristotle, "imitates the

1 'Lives of the Poets,' Works, Vol. iv. p. 389. But otherwise in Boswell: Boswell. "For my part I never could admire it [Akenside's famous work] as most people do." Johnson. "Sir, I could not read it through."—"Life of Johnson,' Vol. iii. p. 8.

2 With further balderdash on the same subject. 'Works,' Vol. iii. p. 350. A good many of the Doctor's own poems are but rather dreary exercises in verse.

3 E.g., Psalms lxiv. 5-13, c., ci., cii., ciii., civ., all of them poems of high splendour both of thought and diction. See also, for instance, Nahum i. 3-6. "Many of the Psalms touch perfection as lyrical strains."-Quiller-Couch, Art of Reading,' p. 172. ♦ 'Works,' Vol. iii. p. 592.


universal element in things, their paradeigma, their idealic essence." "" 1 I am bound to confess that I do not carry away much instruction from this pronouncement. "The Vacuum," said a student in answer to an examination question, "is a large empty space in which the Pope resides."

8. Doctrine of Sir Joshua Reynolds.-Sir Joshua Reynolds, remarking quite truly, probably, that the practice of caricaturing will almost certainly corrupt the taste of a portrait painter, adds that it is the duty of the artist "to aim at discovering the perfections of those whom he is to represent." 2 Thus broadly stated, this doctrine, I suppose, would fall in with the views of most sitters; but, critically, I fear it is very vague, if not positively false. In the same spirit he says that whoever wishes to make his picture what pictures should be, must show as "nature elevated and improved." 3 Such a doctrine must needs call for great qualification and modification, to say the least of it. Literally interpreted, it would mean that whoever would paint mountains must, in order to produce a fine picture, "elevate and improve" the mountains; that whoever would paint a grand Sea-piece must elevate and improve the Ocean; that whoever would paint a great Sunset must elevate and improve the Setting Sun! It puts us in mind of the anecdote of the critic and the artist. Quoth the critic, gazing at the picture: "I never saw a sunset like that." "Perhaps not," replied the modest artist, "but if ever you see a perfect Sunset, it will be like that.'

1 Quoted by Erdmann, 'History of Philosophy,' Vol. i. p. 175. Had Oscar Wilde this Aristotelian pronouncement in mind when he wrote, Truth in Art is the unity of a thing with itself; the outward rendered expressive of the inward; the Soul made incarnate; the body instinct with spirit " ?- De Profundis,' p. 55.

2 Queechy, 'Memoir of Sir Joshua Reynolds,' p. 100. * Ib., p. 215.

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And, indeed, in all soberness, this story seems to enshrine Sir Joshua's real meaning, for he deliberately says in his Third Discourse: A mere copier of nature nature can never produce anything great; can never raise and enlarge the conceptions or warm the heart of the Spectator. The wish of the genuine Painter must be more extensive. Instead of endeavouring to amuse mankind with the minute neatness of his imitations, he must endeavour to improve them by the grandeur of his ideas; instead of seeking praise by deceiving the superficial sense of the Spectator, he must strive for fame by capturing his imagination." I do not at present attempt to criticise these doctrines further than to remark that they still leave us in the densest of fogs as to what may really be the principles and objects of the Painters' Art; but we shall see by-and-by that in the Drama and the Novel it is constantly advisable, and, indeed, necessary, to "elevate and improve" the utterance of the dramatis persona.1

9. The Art of "the Abstract."-Sir Joshua's biographer, Queechy, is apparently in agreement with the Aristotelian doctrine just quoted. Thus he emphatically declares: "In poetic and historic compositions, we repeat, nature must be represented in the abstract, and all that tends to give identity to minutiæ detracts from the grandeur of the whole." 2 If this be the case, what on earth

1 See infra, chap. vi. sect. 3, but be very careful in handling character. If, for instance, you try to improve and adorn the heroic, it is not unlikely that you will only distort and disfigure it. We have a case in point, I should say, in 'The Lord of the Isles,' where Sir Walter represents King Robert making excuses for and praising Edward I. (canto iv. st. 4). On the other hand, Edward Bruce sounds the natural and right note of scorn and hatred.

2 Memoir,' p. 9. I should be delighted to have a palaver, say, with Baron Bradwardine or Parson Adams; but with an abstract gentleman!

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