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Neoclassicism as seen by the eighteenth century pre-romantic poets of England

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NEOCLASSICISM AS SEEN BY THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY
PRE-ROMANTIC POETS OF ENGLAND
A T h e sis
P re s e n te d to
t h e F a c u l t y o f t h e D ep a rtm e n t o f E n g l i s h
U n i v e r s i t y o f S o u th e r n C a l i f o r n i a
In P a r t i a l F u lfillm e n t
o f t h e R e q u ir e m e n ts f o r t h e D egree
M a s te r o f A r t s
by
K e n n e th E. H a r p e r
A ugust 1941
UMI Number: EP44172
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o
This thesis, w rit ten by
......................... . . K E N m m . E . v . . M R P i R ..........................
under the direction of M .S.. Fa cu lty C o m m it te e ,
a n d a p p r o v e d by a l l its m e m b e r s , has be en
p r es e nt e d to a n d a c ce pt e d by the C oun c il on
G rad u ate S t u d y and Research in par ti al fu lfillн
m ent of the req u irem en ts f o r the d e g re e of
MASTER OF ARTS
1ean
Secretary
D a te
A jig I4 B t._ 1 9 4 1
F aculty C om m ittee
.
C hairm an
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER
PAGE
I . THE STUDY OF EIGHTEENTH CENTURY ROMANTICISM...................
The C o m p a ra tiv e
Two c o n c e p t s
n ew n ess o f t h e s t u d y ...................
o f th e r i s e
1
o f ro m a n tic is m .. . . . .
The c o n c e p t o f c o n f l i c t b e tw e e n n e o c l a s s i c i s m
1
4
.
an d r o m a n t i c i s m ................................
4
The c o n c e p t o f s y n t h e s i s ....................................................
4
P o i n t s o f d i f f e r e n c e r e s u l t i n g from t h e s e c o n c e p t s
5
The r e l a t i v e s t r e n g t h an d im p o r ta n c e o f t h e new
r o m a n t i c i s m .................................................................................
5
The s i g n i f i c a n c e o f " u n o r th o d o x " t e n d e n c i e s i n
t h e age o f P o p e .
..................................
I n t e r e s t i n M i l t o n ? s m in o r
In te re st
poems . . . . . . .
i n S p e n s e r ...................................
N a tu re -p o e try .
.......................
The a p p r o a c h i n t h i s s t u d y . . .
L i m i t a t i o n s ..........................................
6
7
7
8
.................................
. .
S p e c i f i c a im s ............................
I I . CRITICISM OF POETRY IN THE AGE OF P O P E .............................
The f i r s t two d e c a d e s .......................
12
13
13
15
15
U n o rth o d o x t e n d e n c i e s i n p o e t r y . . . ...........................
15
A bsence o f c r i t i c a l s u p p o r t .....................................
15
C r i t i c i s m i n t h e 1 7 2 0 ' s ..............................................................
16
iii
CHAPTER
PAGE
A lla n Ramsay ...........................................
. . . . . . . .
Jam es Thomson. . . ....................................................
16
18
W eaknesses i n t h e n e o c l a s s i c s t r u c t u r e ........................
23
C o -w o rk e rs o f Thomson.............................................................
23
R om antic t e n d e n c i e s o f P o p e ..................................
24
......................................
I I I . THE MIDDLE OF THE CENTURY
D i v i s i o n i n t o two p e r i o d s .
............................
26
26
The p e r i o d o f p o e t r y , b e f o r e 1 7 5 0 . . . . . . . .
27
New i n t e r e s t s ............................
27
C h an ging v e r s e fo rm s . . . . . . . . . . . . .
30
The p e r i o d o f c r i t i c i s m ...........................................
32
The p r e - r o m a n t i c p o e t s * c r i t i c i s m ........................
33
C o l l i n s .................................................................................
33
A k e n s i d e .......................
35
S h e n s to n e .
36
............................................................................
H i s l i f e a n d w r i t i n g s .......................
36
H is c r i t i c i s m o f Pope a n d t h e n e o c l a s s i c
w rite rs.
. . . . .
........................
. . . . . . .
H is l o v e o f " s i m p l i c i t y "
38
...................
Remarks on m e te r . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Young......................................................................................
C o n j e c t u r e s on O r i g i n a l C o m p o s itio n .
41
48
49
. . . . .
50
H is a t t a c k on P o p e 's sup rem acy .............................
50
H is s u p p o r t o f b l a n k v e r s e
51
Thomas War t o n ............................
.
55
iv
CHAPTER
PAGE
D u alism i n W a rto n ? s v e r s e and c r i t i c i s m . . . .
56
O b s e r v a t i o n s on t h e F a i r y Queen...........................
57
J o s e p h W a rto n .................................................................... ..
H is p o e t r y
61
.................................
61
The p r e f a c e t o Odes on V a r io u s S u b j e c t s .. . .
62
E s s a y on Por?e.......................... . ..................................
63
Thomas G ray .
............................................................................
H is c r i t i c a l b a l a n c e
73
....................................................
74
C r i t i c i s m e x p r e s s e d i n h i s l e t t e r s ........................
75
IV . CONCLUSIONS.-..........................................
83
C r itic is m e x p re s se d i n c o n ju n c tio n w ith p o e t ic
co m p o sitio n .
.
83
....................................................
84
The i n c r e a s e d im p o r ta n c e o f S h e n s to n e an d G ray . .
87
T re n d s to w a r d r o m a n ti c is m . . . . .
88
Subsequent c r i t i c i s m
................... .... ................................
. . .
..................................
The f e e l i n g o f p a t r i o t i s m .......................
88
The c o n v e n t i o n a l e le m e n t i n t h e s e t r e n d s . . . .
89
BIBLIOGRAPHY...................................................
91
CHAPTER I
THE STUDY OF EIGHTEENTH CENTURY ROMANTICISM
S t u d e n t s o f E n g l i s h l i t e r a t u r e r e f e r t o t h e ?p r e - r o m a n t l e ? p o e t s a s t h a t g ro u p o f e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y w r i t e r s
w hose work fo rm s t h e t r a n s i t i o n i n p o e t r y b e tw e e n t h e a g e s
o f Pope an d W ordsw orth.
S c h o la rs i n t e r e s t e d in th e p r o g re s s
o f r o m a n tic is m i n t h e e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y h av e g i v e n much
s t u d y t o t h e p r e - r o m a n t i c p o e t r y , f o r t h e ways i n w hich i t
d i f f e r e d from n e o c l a s s i c v e r s e an d r e s e m b le d t h e v e r s e o f
t h e R om antie Age.
T h is s t u d y i s c o n c e r n e d a l s o w i t h t h e
r i s e o f ro m a n tic ism , b u t n o t as i t i s r e f l e c t e d i n th e p r e н
r o m a n ti c p o e t r y j t h e p u r p o s e i s r a t h e r t o d e t e r m i n e t h e
o p i n i o n s w h ich t h e p r e - r o m a n t i c p o e t s $|gld o f t h e men a n d
l i t e r a t u r e th a t a re b e s t r e p r e s e n ta tiv e o f n e o c la ssio ism .
The o p i n i o n s e x p r e s s e d i n t h e l e t t e r s ,
and p r o s e w o rk s o f
t h e m a jo r p r e - r o m a n t i c p o e t s w i l l p r e s e n t a p i c t u r e , a l t h o u g h
n e c e s s a r i l y an in c o m p l e t e o n e , o f t h e a t t i t u d e s o f m ind o u t
o f w hich t h e new s c h o o l o f p o e t r y a r o s e .
The r a i s o n d ? e t r e
o f a s t u d y o f t h i s k i n d c a n b e s e e n fro m a b r i e f a c c o u n t o f
s c h o l a r l y r e s e a r c h on t h e s u b j e c t .
S tu d y a b o u t r o m a n ti c is m i n t h e e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y h a s
been la r g e ly c o n fin e d to th e p re s e n t c e n tu ry .
I t was lo n g
a m a t t e r ?o f common a g re e m e n t t h a t p o e t r y i n t h e n e o c l a s s i c
a g e was a l m o s t w h o lly d e f i c i e n t i n t h o s e q u a l i t i e s and
c h a ra c te ris tic s of l i t e r a tu r e th a t are te n ta tiv e ly c a lle d
"ro m a n tic ":
two s c h o o l s o f p o e t r y w ere e s t a b l i s h e d , e a c h
th e a n t i t h e s i s o f th e o th e r.
T h is c o n c e p t, g r e a t l y f o s t e r e d
by t h e g ro w in g p o p u l a r i t y o f t h e r o m a n t i c p o e t s , who w ere
a c u t e l y aw are o f t h e d i f f e r e n c e b e tw e e n t h e v e r s e o f P ope and
t h e i r own, s e r v e d f o r a t i m e t o d i s c o u r a g e s c h o l a s t i c i n i t i н
a t i v e from l o o k i n g i n t o t h e e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y f d r t h e o r i н
g i n s a n d c a u s e s o f t h e R o m an tic Movement.
B ut b e f o r e 1900
t h e chasm s e p a r a t i n g t h e a g e s o f Pope and W ordsw orth was
g ro w in g l e s s a n d l e s s i n e x t e n t : c e r t a i n " r o m a n t i c ? e le m e n ts
c o u l d b e d i s c e r n e d i n A u g u sta n v e r s e .
A s m a ll g r o u p o f
s c h o l a r s s e t o u t t o p r o v e t h a t t h e R om antic Movement h a d i t s
b e g i n n i n g deep i n t h e Age o f P o p e .
P i o n e e r s i n t h i s work
w e re W illia m I . P h e l p s , The B e g in n in g s o f t h e R om antic
Movement ( 1 8 9 3 ) , and H enry A. B e e r s , who w r o t e i n 1898 a
H i s t o r y o f E n g l i s h R om an tio ism i n t h e E i g h t e e n t h C e n t u r y .
F o llo w in g t h e s e p r e l i m i n a r y s t u d i e s , an i n c r e a s i n g number o f
s c h o l a r s f l o c k e d t o t h e o a u s e , u n t i l i n 1911 o n e o f th em ,
H e r b e r t E. C o ry , p r o t e s t e d t h a t s i n c e t h e work o f P h e l p s and
B eers " . . .
a l l s c h o l a r s h i p on t h e E i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y
l i t e r a t u r e o f E n g la n d h a s become a mad s c ra m b le i n s e a r c h o f
ro m an tic ism .
As e a r l y a s 1 9 1 5 , Edmund G osse f e l t o b l i g e d
t o a p o l o g i z e f o r a s t u d y h e was m aking : "The o r i g i n s o f t h e
^ H. E. G ory, " S p e n s e r , Thomson, and R o m a n tic is m ,"
PMLA, XXVI ( 1 9 1 1 ) , 51.
R om antic Movement i n l i t e r a t u r e h av e b e e n exam ined so c l o s e l y
an d so o f t e n t h a t i t m ig h t b e su p p o se d t h a t t h e s u b j e c t m ust
o
b e by t h i s ti m e e x h a u s t e d . "
B u t t h e . s u b j e c t was f a r from
b e i n g e x h a u s t e d , an d t h e r e s e a r c h c o n t i n u e d u n a b a t e d i n t h e
1 9 2 0 's .
A b i b l i o g r a p h y o f t h e s e s t u d i e s w o u ld i n c l u d e t h e
names o f t h e o u t s t a n d i n g s c h o l a r s o f s e v e r a l n a t i o n s . ' '
By 1925 a m ass o f e v i d e n c e h ad a c c u m u l a te d , e s t a b l i s h н
i n g o n c e an d f o r a l l t h e l i t e r a r y b a c k g ro u n d o f t h e R om antic
Movement.
The o l d e r i m p r e s s i o n t h a t a s h a r p l i n e d i v i d e d
t h e n e o c l a s s i c fro m t h e r o m a n ti c ag e was s h a t t e r e d , and
r e c o g n i t i o n was g i v e n t o a " P re -R o m a n tic A g e " .? a p e r i o d o f
tra n sitio n .
I n s p i t e o f t h e a d v a n c e , h o w e v e r, s c h o l a r s s t i l l
c o u l d n o t a g r e e upon t h e o r i g i n , t h e p r e c i s e n a t u r e , and t h e
d ev e lo p m e n t o f t h e new movement. The s o l u t i o n o f t h e s e p r o b н
le m s was a m a t t e r o f common c o n c e r n f o r s t u d e n t s o f e i g h t e e n t h
c e n tu ry l i t e r a t u r e . ^
I n 1924 H arko De Maar s e t o u t b o l d l y
p
E. G o s s e , Two P i o n e e r s o f R o m a n tic is m ; J o s e p h an d
Thomas W a tto n . Prom t h e P r o c e e d i n g s o f t h e B r i t i s h Academy.
v o l . 7 (London: H. M i l f o r d , 1 9 1 5 ) , p . 1 .
о No s i n g l e c o m p le te b i b l i o g r a p h y i s a v a i l a b l e , b u t
th e an n u a l re v ie w s o f s t u d i e s c o n ta in e d i n P h i l o l o g i c a l
Q u a r t e r l y a r e i n v a l u a b l e f o r t h e y e a r s s i n c e 1 ^ 2 6 , and a
g oo d w o rk in g b i b l i o g r a p h y i s g i v e n i n E r n e s t B e rn b a u m 's G uide
Through t h e R o m an tic Movement (New York: N e ls o n a n d S o ns, 1 9 S 0 ).
^ C f . P a u l K au ffm en, " D e f in in g R o m an ticism : a S u rv ey
a n d a P ro g ra m ," Modern Language N o te s . XL ( 1 9 2 5 ) , 1 9 3 -2 0 4 ;
E d i t h G re e n la w , Modern E n g l i s h R o m a n tic is m ," S t u d i e s i n
P h i l o l o g y . XXII ( 1 9 2 5 ) , 5 8 3 -5 0 ; and 0 . D o ughty, ^R om anticism
i n E i g h t e e n t h - O e n t u r y E n g la n d ," E n g l i s h S t u d i e s . X II ( 1 9 3 0 ) ,
4 1-44.
t o r e s o l v e them and t h e w h o le b o th e rs o m e q u e s t i o n o f Mro m an 5
t i c i s m s ? i n a s i n g l e d e f i n i t i v e w ork.
O nly t h e f i r s t volum e
o f t h i s p r o j e c t e d s t u d y was p u b l i s h e d , and n o n e o f t h e l a r g e r
q u e s t i o n s w ere a n s w e re d .
even been a tte m p te d .
No s u c h a m b i t i o u s work h a s s i n c e
The te r m , ?r o m a n t i c i s m , B e x t r e m e ly
u s e f u l a s an a b s t r a c t i o n , d o e s n o t l e n d i t s e l f to s c i e n t i f i c
a n a ly sis;
i t e v e n a p p e a r s t o l o s e much o f i t s v a l u e when
d e a l t w i t h i n such a m a n n er.
I n g e n e r a l , s c h o l a r s h a v e a p p r o a c h e d t h e p ro b le m o f
r o m a n ti c is m i n t h e e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y w i t h one o f two assum pн
tio n s :
e i t h e r t h a t r o m a n ti c is m was t h e r e s u l t o f a c o n f l i c t
w i t h t h e o r t h o d o x n e o c l a s s i c a l way o f t h i n k i n g , o r t h a t i t
d e v e lo p e d n o t o u t o f any s e n s e o f a n t a g o n is m , b u t th r o u g h a n
a lm o s t i m p e r c e p t i b l e p r o c e s s o f s y n t h e s i s o r m e r g in g .
W hile
m ost s t u d e n t s w ould a g r e e t h a t b o t h c o n c e p t s a r e t r u e , t h e r e
i s n o n e t h e l e s s an i n e v i t a b l e te n d e n c y t o a c c e p t one o r t h e
o th e r as th e b a s is o f stu d y .
and more t r a d i t i o n a l .
The f i r s t o f t h e s e i s t h e o l d e r
I t was p o s t u l a t e d on t h e l o n g a c c e p t e d
b e l i e f i n th e o p p o s itio n o f t h e n e o c la s s ic and ro m a n tic
ages.
I f t h e two s c h o o l s o f l i t e r a t u r e w ere so u n a l t e r a b l y
o p p o s e d , i t was n a t u r a l t o su p p o se t h a t a c o n f l i c t o f some
s o r t was n e c e s s a r y b e f o r e r o m a n ti c is m c o u l d t r i u m p h .
The
p r o b le m o f t h e f i r s t s c h o l a r s was t o f i n d a m id d le p o i n t a t
5
Harko De M aar, A H i s t o r y o f Modern E n g l i s h Romanн
t i c i s m (London: H. M ilfolFd, 1 9 3 4 ;.
w h ich t h i s c o n f l i c t b e g a n .
The end o f t h e f i r s t h a l f o f t h e
e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y was s e t a s t h e a p p r o x im a te d a t e , and r o н
m a n tic e l e m e n ts i n t h e l a s t h a l f o f t h e c e n t u r y w ere a c c o r d н
i n g l y g i v e n g r e a t e m p h a s is .
I n O o u r th o p e ? s H i s t o r y o f E n g l i s h
P o e t r y , i t was s e t down t h a t , a b o u t t h e m id d le o f t h e c e n н
tu ry ,
. . . t h e f o r c e o f t h e C l a s s i c a l R e n a i s s a n c e , w hich
o p e r a t e d w i t h e n e r g y i n o u r p o e t r y th r o u g h o u t t h e c e n t u r y
an d a h a l f t h a t ( r o u g h l y s p e a k in g ) e l a p s e d b e tw e e n t h e
d e a t h o f S p e n s e r a n d t h e d e a t h o f P o p e , h ad e x h a u s te d
i t s e ffe c ts.
Then b e g a n t h e m e d ie v a l r e a c t i o n . . . ?
R o m a n tic ism , h a v in g e s t a b l i s h e d a f o o t h o l d i n p u b l i c
sy m p ath y, b e g a n t o t r e a t t h e s o v e r e i g n C l a s s i c i s m a s a
u s u rp e r.5
A. B o s k e r , w r i t i n g i n 1 9 3 0 , d e c l a r e d t h e r e w e r e " . . .
two
a n t a g o n i s t i c f o r c e s t h a t w ere f i g h t i n g f o r suprem acy i n t h e
l a t t e r h a l f o f t h e e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y . 11 R a t i o n a l i s m s u r v i v e d
i n l i t e r a t u r e up u n t i l t h e l a s t y e a r s o f t h e c e n t u r y , b u t ,
" B n o tio n , w h ic h h a d b e e n l o n g r e p r e s s e d , and h ad grown s t r o n g
b eh in d th e b a r s o f re a s o n , a t l a s t b ro k e th ro u g h th e r e s t r a i n t s ,
an d r e a s s e r t e d i t s p o w e r f u l sway.*1^
Such a p o i n t o f v ie w h a s
b e e n s t r e n u o u s l y c o n t r o v e r t e d by many s c h o l a r s on t h e g ro u n d s
t h a t i t l e a d s t o an u n w a r r a n te d e m p h a sis upon t h e r o m a n tic
ele m e n ts a t t h e expense o f th e n e o c l a s s i c .
H. E. Cory d e c r i e d
о W. J . C o u r th o p e , A H i s t o r y o f E n g l i s h P o e t r y (New
York and Londons M a c m illa n Company, 1 8 9 4 - 1 9 1 0 ) , V o l. 5 , p p .
418-19.
( G r o n in ?
.
C r i t i c i s m i n t h e Age o f J o h n so n
9 3 0 ) , p . 17 47
6
t h e te n d e n c y t o f i n d t h e c e n t u r y i n t e r e s t i n g o n ly a s i t
a n tic ip a te s th e n in e te e n th :
The amount o f n e o c l a s s i c a l s u r v i v a l , ev en i n t h e
p o e ts o f th e f i r s t t h i r d o f th e N in e te e n th c e n tu ry , i s
much m ore s t r i k i n g t h a n t h e amount o f s i g n i f i c a n t r o н
m a n tic m a t e r i a l e v e n i n t h e l a s t h a l f o f t h e E i g h t e e n t h .
. . . The n e o c l a s s i c a l d e s p o t i s m , o n c e f u l l y e s t a b l i s h e d ,
was p r o f o u n d and l a s t i n g . о
A more i m p o r t a n t d i v e r g e n c e o f o p i n i o n among s c h o l a r s
a ro se out o f th e g ra d u a l e x te n sio n o f th e concept o f c o n f lic t
t o t h e e a r l i e r h a l f o f t h e e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y , w h ere m ost o f
t h e r e s e a r c h was d o n e .
The u s u a l p r o c e d u r e i n t h e b u s i n e s s
o f ?r o m a n t i c i s m - h u n t i n g " was t o b e g i n w i t h an i d e a commonly
a c c e p te d about th e age o f Pope, and p ro c e e d to d e m o n stra te
i t s fa lla c y .
T h is m eth o d o f a t t a c k was e s t a b l i s h e d by G o s s e ,
P h e l p s , a n d t h e e a r l i e r s c h o l a r s , who w e re c o n c e r n e d w i t h
c o r r e c t i n g t h e many a r b i t r a r y i d e a s a b o u t t h e A ug u stan a g e .
The h y p o t h e t i c a l n e o c l a s s i c i s t was r e c o n s t r u c t e d a s a comн
p l e t e l y r a t i o n a l b e i n g who l i v e d i n London, who knew o f t h e
c o u n t r y o n l y b y r e p o r t , a n d who w r o t e w i t t y , s a t i r i c , o r
m o ra liz in g v e rs e in h e ro ic c o u p le ts .
He h a d g r e a t r e s p e c t
f o r a n c ie n t c l a s s i c p o e tr y , and g r e a t f a i t h in th e e f f ic a c y
o f r u l e s d e r i v e d from a n c i e n t exam ple o r from r e a s o n .
He
c o n s i d e r e d t h e e p i c poem t h e h i g h e s t form o f l i t e r a r y a r t ,
a n d n e g l e c t e d t h e l y r i c , a l o n g w i t h i m a g i n a t i v e and e m o tio n a l
8 C o ry , op., c i t . . p . 53.
s e n sib ility .
Pope.
g
Such w e re t h e c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s o f t h e a g e o f
The p ro b le m was t o f i n d p o e t s who d i f f e r e d i n some o f
t h e s e r e s p e c t s , upon t h e a s s u m p tio n t h a t t h e s e d i f f e r e n c e s
w e re s i g n i f i c a n t i n t h e r i s e o f r o m a n ti c is m .
A few i l l u s t r a t i o n s w i l l make t h i s c l e a r .
F o r ex am p le,
i t was l o n g a g r e e d t h a t t h e ag e o f P ope h a d l i t t l e
sym pathy
w i t h M i l t o n ' s "m in o r" poem s, an d t h a t t h e s e poems had a lm o s t
d i s a p p e a r e d from v ie w f o r a t i m e .
They h a v e q u a l i t i e s
o r d i n a r i l y c a l l e d r o m a n t i c ? a lo v e o f n a t u r e , a p l e a s i n g
m e la n c h o ly , an d p o e t i c e n t h u s i a s m .
In th e o ry , a re s p e c ta b le
A u g u sta n w ould f i n d n o t h i n g i n them t o s u i t h i s t a s t e s .
R e s e a r c h h a s shown, h o w e v e r, t h a t t h e s e poems w ere a lw a y s
r e a d , and w ere ev en i m i t a t e d by p o e t s i n t h e ag e o f P o p e . 10
The same c a n b e s a i d o f S p e n s e r , whose " i r r e g u l a r " , u n - c l a s s i c
g e n i u s , w e a l t h o f l u x u r i o u s d e s c r i p t i o n , a n d r i c h h a rm o n ie s
w o u ld s u p p o s e d ly n o t i n t e r e s t t h e a g e .
t h a t S p e n s e r was r e g a r d e d i n d i f f e r e n t l y .
Even B e e r s had s a i d
B ut a g a i n , i t was
d e m o n s t r a t e d t h a t deep i n t h e ag e o f Pope t h e r e w ere many
poem s w r i t t e n i n i m i t a t i o n o f t h i s E l i z a b e t h a n .
From t h e
0 O f. S a i n t s b u r y on t h e N e o c l a s s i c C r e e d , A H i s t o r y
o f E n g l i s h C r i t i c i s m (New York: Dodd, Mead, a n d Company;
E d in b u rg h a n d London: Wm. Blackw ood an d S o n s, 1 9 1 1 ) .
10 C f. G eorge S h e r b u r n , " E a r l y P o p u l a r i t y o f M i l t o n ' s
M inor P oem s," Modern P h i l o l o g y . XVII ( 1 9 1 9 - 3 0 ) , p p . 359 f f . ,
p p . 515 f f . , and Amy L. R e e d , The B ackground o f G r a y 's
E le g y : a S tu d y i n t h e T a s t e f o r M e la n c h o ly P o e t r y . 176'0-1?51
(New York: C o lum bia U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1 9 3 4 ).
v ery f i r s t to th e p r e s e n t s c h o la r s have n e v e r t i r e d o f u n н
e a r t h i n g t h e s e unknown S p e n s e r i a n i m i t a t i o n s .
The d e s c r i p t i o n
o f n a t u r e i n e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y v e r s e h a s "been a n o t h e r p o p u l a r
su b je c t o f re s e a rc h .
The man o f l i t e r a t u r e i n t h e Age o f Pope
w as, i n t h e o r y , i g n o r a n t o f , o r i n d i f f e r e n t to w a rd t h e o u td o o r
w o r ld ; h u t a g a i n , many s t u d i e s h a v e shown t h e r e was a much
g r e a t e r i n t e r e s t i n n a t u r e th a n was commonly b e l i e v e d .
11
L ik e w is e , e l a b o r a t e s t u d i e s h a v e b e e n made o f t h e A u g u sta n
l y r i c and o f e x c e p t i o n s t o t h e h e r o i c c o u p l e t .
The t e m p t a t i o n t o t r e a t t h e s e e x c e p t i o n s a s "b e g i n n i n g s "
o f t h e R om antic Movement was i r r e s i s t i b l e , and t h e l i n e s o f
c o n f l i c t b e tw e e n t h e two s c h o o l s o f l i t e r a t u r e w ere drawn
b a c k p a s t t h e m id d le o f t h e c e n t u r y i n t o t h e ag e o f Pope i t н
se lf.
A lth o u g h m ost o f t h e s c h o l a r s a g r e e d w i t h P h e l p s t h a t
t h e b e g i n n i n g s o f t h e movement w e re g r a d u a l an d u n c o n s c i o u s ,
w i t h o u t any d i s t i n c t a n ta g o n is m to w a rd c o n te m p o ra ry l i t e r a н
t u r e , many saw i n them s i g n s o f d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n w i t h n e o c la ssic ism .
I t was s a i d t h a t men t u r n e d t o S p e n s e r , M i l t o n ,
n a t u r e , o r b l a n k v e r s e , b e c a u s e t h e y w ere w eary o f n e o c l a s s i c
w i t t i c i s m and r a t i o n a l i t y .
C o u rth o p e s a i d t h a t t h e " . . ^
l o n g i n g f o r s i m p l i c i t y an d s o l i t u d e ; t h e te n d e n c y t o N a t u r e -
H of. Myra R e y n o ld s , The T r e a tm e n t o f N a tu r e i n
E n g l i s h P o e t r y b e tw e e n Pope and W ordsw orth T O hicag o: U n i v e r н
s i t y o f C h icag o P r e s s , 1 8 9 6 ) , R. D. H a v e n s, "R om antic A s p e c ts
o f t h e Age o f P o p e ," PMLA, XXVII ( 1 9 1 2 ) , p p . 3 9 7 -3 2 4 , a n d C.
A. Momre, "The R e tu r n t o N a tu r e i n E n g l i s h P o e t r y o f t h e
E i g h t e e n t h C e n t u r y ," S t u d i e s i n P h i l o l o g y . XIV (1917jf, p p .
2 43-91.
W o rsh ip , t h e r e v o l t ? > ? a g a i n s t t h e c o n v e n t i o n s o f town
s o c i e t y . . . ? w ere s p i r i t u a l c a u s e s o f t h e R o m an tic Moveн
m e n t* ^
T h e se u n f a s h i o n a b l e i n t e r e s t s w ere c i t e d a s p r o o f
o f a g ro w in g o p p o s i t i o n .
J o s e p h W a rto n ? s poem, The E n t h u s i н
a s t ( 1 7 4 0 ) , w h ich c o n t a i n e d m ost o f t h e new t e n d e n c i e s , was
d e s c r i b e d by G osse a s an " e x p r e s s i o n o f c o m p le te r e v o l t " from
n e o c l a s s i c i s m . 1о
On t h e o t h e r h a n d a r e t h o s e s c h o l a r s who d i s a g r e e w ith
t h i s c o n c e p t i o n o f t h e r i s e o f r o m a n ti c is m , b e l i e v i n g i t a
g r e a t o v e r - s im p li f i c a t io n to d e s c r ib e th e change a s a " r e v o lt"
De Maar s t a t e d t h e i r p o s i t i o n when h e s a i d ,
We draw c o n t r a s t s w h ic h t h e c e n t u r y i t s e l f d i d n o t
f e e l ? " re a o tio n ," " r e v o lt," " r e v iv a l," o r "renascense"
? su c h a r e t h e c o m p la c e n t a b s t r a c t i o n s w i t h w h ich we
su m m arily d i s m i s s t h i s v e r s a t i l e e p o c h .14
I t i s u rg ed t h a t th e a p p a re n t e x c e p tio n s to n e o c la s s ic n o r н
m a l i t y a r e e n t i r e l y to b e e s p e o t e d , a n d t h e r e i s i n them no
in tim a tio n of " r e v o lt."
i n t e r e s t in S p en ser.
The a g e o f P ope h a d a v e r y l e g i t i m a t e
Gory c a l l e d " f a l l a c i o u s " t h e i d e a t h a t
l i t e r a r y men o f t h e tim e r e g a r d e d S p e n s e r w i t h i n d i f f e r e n c e
o r sco rn .
E v ery a g e , i n c l u d i n g o u r own, f i n d s d i f f e r e n t
t h i n g s t o p r a i s e i n t h e F a e r y Queen? e a c h j u s t i f i a b l e ;
Spenser
w as a d m ire d and i m i t a t e d f o r q u a l i t i e s t h a t h a v e n o t h i n g to
12 C o u r th o p e , o p . c i t . . p . 4 0 2.
I*5 G o sse , o p , c i t . . p . 4 .
14 De M aar, o p . c i t . . p . 22 2.
10
do w i t h r o m a n ti c is m .
The t e n a c i t y o f n e o o l a s s i o i s m i s i l н
l u s t r a t e d by t h e many p u r e l y n e o c l a s s i c i m i t a t i o n s o f S p e n s e r
t h a t w ere w r i t t e n l o n g a f t e r t h e R o m antic Movement was i n
f u l l swing.**-5
De Maar d e c l a r e d t h a t " T h e r e was no r e v i v a l o f
S p e n s e r , f o r t h e d e v o t i o n t o him was d eep an d c o n s t a n t , " a n d
th a t " . . .
a n i n t e r e s t i n S p e n s e r d o e s n o t i p s o f a c t o im p ly
t h e d e f i n i t e i n f l u x o f Modern Romanticism."-*-6
The e m p h asis
p l a c e d on t h e s e e a r l y i m i t a t i o n s i s t h e r e f o r e s a i d t o b e u n н
w a rra n te d .
The r e v i v e d i n t e r e s t i n n a t u r e , w h ic h C o u rth o p e
c a l l e d a " r e v o l t , " h as a ls o been d i f f e r e n t l y c o n s tru e d .
F or
e x a m p le , G. 0 . W i l l i a m s , i n an a r t i c l e on "The B e g in n in g s o f
N a tu r e P o e t r y i n t h e E i g h t e e n t h C e n t u r y , " made t h e p o i n t t h a t
t h e n a t u r e movement was an i n e v i t a b l e p a r t o f n e o c l a s s i c i s m ,
and n o t a r e b e l l i o n a g a in s t i t .
The movement, h e s a i d , grew
o u t o f t h e v e r y t u r b u l e n c e o f c i t y l i f e , o u t o f t h e A u gu stan
i d e a l o f t r a n q u i l l i t y , r e s t r a i n t , a v o i d a n c e o f e x c e s s , and
o u t o f t h e r e l i g i o u s an d p h i l o s o p h i c a l c o n c e p t s o f t h e u n i н
verse.
N a tu r e a n d s o l i t u d e w ere g r e a t a i d s t o c o n t e m p l a t i o n
and stu d y .
The l i f e o f s o l i t u d e was c o n s t a n t l y e x t o l l e d by
15 C o ry , o p . c i t . . p p . 5 3 - 7 0 . S a i n t s b u r y may h a v e
b e e n r e f e r r i n g t o C o r y ? s work when he c a l l e d an a t t e m p t by
a n A m erican w r i t e r t o d i s p r o v e t h e i n f l u e n c e o f S p e n s e r an
" . . . i n s t a n c e o f t h e t e m p t a t i o n t o more o r l e s s e r u d i t e
p a r a d o x w h ic h t h e s u ste m o f t h e s e s a n d m onographs o f f e r s . "
A H is to ry o f E n g lish C r itic is m , p . 299.
16 De M aar, o p . c i t . . p p . 2 2 4 - 2 6 .
11
n e o c l a s s i c i s t s s i n c e t h e d a y s o f Cowley, a l t h o u g h n o t f o r
" r o m a n t i c 1* r e a s o n s .
W illia m s c o n c l u d e s : "Had t h e Age b e e n
l e s s an Age o f R e a so n , n a t u r e p o e t r y c o u l d h a v e f o u n d i n i t
b u t a sc a n ty fo o th o ld .
T h e re i s , t h e n , a g ro u p o f s c h o l a r s who d i s p u t e t h e
h y p o t h e s i s t h a t t h e R o m an tic Movement d e v e lo p e d s im p ly o u t
o f a g e n e ra l h o s t i l i t y to n e o c la s sio ism .
I t has been th e
o c c u p a t i o n o f men l i k e W illia m s t o f i n d t h e r e l a t i o n , r a t h e r
t h a n t h e o p p o s i t i o n , o f t h e two s c h o o l s o f l i t e r a t u r e .
T h is
p o i n t o f v ie w h a s r e s u l t e d i n many s t u d i e s show ing t h e com plex
d e v e lo p m e n t o f i d e a s , an d t h e u n p r e d i c t a b l e way i n w hich
c o n t r a d i c t o r y s t r a i n s o f t h o u g h t h a v e so m e tim es become a l ~
lie d .* 'о
R. D. H avens h a s c o n s t a n t l y e m p h a siz e d t h e s i m i l a r н
i t i e s b e tw e e n t h e n e o c l a s s i c an d r o m a n t i c a g e s , a n d h a s s a i d
t h a t a r e a l s t u d y o f t h e two p e r i o d s l e a v e s t h a n an d t h e men
IQ
m ore b a f f l i n g and i n c o n s i s t e n t t h a n e v e r . ░
At t h e c o n c l u н
s i o n o f o n e o f t h e b e s t o f m odern s t u d i e s on r o m a n ti c t h e o r y ,
J . G. R o b e r t s o n d e c l a r e d :
G. C. W i llia m s , 11The B e g in n in g s o f l a t u r e P o e t r y i n
t h e E i g h t e e n t h C e n t u r y ," S t u d i e s i n P h i l o l o g y . XXVII ( 1 9 3 0 ) ,
?1?8 O f* A. 0 .. L o v e jo y ? s "On t h e D i s c r i m i n a t i o n o f
R o m a n tic is m s ," PMLA. XXXIX ( 1 9 2 4 ) , 2 2 9 - 5 3 , and "O ptim ism and
R o m a n tic is m ," PMLA. XLII ( 1 9 2 7 ) , 9 2 1 - 4 5 .
R . D. H av e n s, "C h an g in g T a s t e i n t h e E i g h t e e n t h
C e n tu r y . . . , " PMLA. XLIV ( 1 9 2 9 ) , 5 0 1 -3 6 .
13
The R o m an tic d o c t r i n e i s , i n f a c t , no l e s s a d a u g h t e r
o f th e R e n a is sa n c e th a n th e f a i t h o f B o ile a u h im s e lf , ,
? ? To u n d e r s t a n d , n o t t h e a n t i t h e s i s o f c l a s s i c i s m an d
r o m a n t i c i s m , b u t t h e i r s y n t h e s i s , i s t h e way p r o g r e s s
l i e s , 20
I n summary, i t c a n b e s a i d t h a t s t u d i e s i n e i g h t e e n t h
c e n t u r y r o m a n ti c is m h a v e t a k e n one o f two g e n e r a l c o u r s e s .
The f i r s t e m p h a s iz e d t h e im p o r ta n c e an d t h e r a d i c a l n a t u r e
o f t h e c h a n g e i n l i t e r a r y f a s h i o n s , w h i l e t h e se c o n d m i n i н
m iz e d t h e i m p o r ta n c e o f t h e ch a n g e an d t h e e le m e n t o f r e v o l t .
I t i s p r o b a b l y t r u e t h a t a g r e a t d e a l o f t h e d is a g r e e m e n t i n
t h i s m a t t e r h a s b e e n c a u s e d b y t h e f a c t t h a t s c h o l a r s w ere
a t t e n d i n g a lm o s t e x c l u s i v e l y t o t h e p o e t i c a l w ork s o f t h e
p re -ro m a n tic w r i t e r s .
The f a c t t h a t a g i v e n poem d i f f e r s i n
c e r t a i n r e s p e c t s fro m n e o c l a s s i c v e r s e , o r r e s e m b l e s t h e
l a t e r r o m a n ti c v e r s e , i s o f g e n e r a l h i s t o r i c a l s i g n i f i c a n c e ;
b u t t h i s f a c t c a n n o t a lw a y s e x p l a i n t h e n a t u r e o f t h e ch a n g e
t h a t to o k p l a c e i n l i t e r a t u r e .
To u n d e r s t a n d t h i s we n e e d
a l s o know t h e r o m a n ti c p u r p o s e f u l n e s s o f t h e p o e t ? w h e th e r
h i s d e s i g n was p u r e l y c o n v e n t i o n a l , o r w h e th e r h e was s t r i v н
i n g c o n s c i o u s l y f o r so m e th in g new.
I t i s , th e re fo re , th e
p u rp o se o f t h i s stu d y to d e te rm in e th e ro m a n tic a s p i r a t i o n s
a n d s e n t i m e n t s o f t h e m a jo r p r e - r o m a n t i c p o e t s by a c o n s i d н
e r a tio n , n o t o f t h e i r p o e try , b u t o f t h e i r o p in io n s o f th e
J . Gr. R o b e r t s o n , S t u d i e s i n t h e G e n e s is o f R om antic
T h eo ry i n t h e E i g h t e e n t h C e n tu r y (C am b rid g e: H a r v a r d t i n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1 9 2 3 ) , p p . 3 9 0 -9 1
13
n e o c l a s s i c v e r s e from w h ic h t h e y w e re , i n t h e o r y , r e b e l l i n g .
Some o f t h e s e p o e t s h a d some v e r y p e r t i n e n t r e m a r k s t o make
a b o u t A u g u sta n v e r s e a n d t h e c u r r e n t r o m a n t i c t r e n d s i n
l i t e r a t u r e , a n d i t i s t h e s e re m a rk s w h ic h a r e , a f t e r a l l ,
t h e m ost a c c u r a t e p r o o f s o f t h e i r r e a l s e n t i m e n t s .
T h e re a r e , o f c o u r s e , o b v io u s l i m i t a t i o n s t o t h e
v a lu e o f a stu d y o f t h i s k in d .
I t i s n o t to b e e x p e c te d t h a t
an y o f t h e s e p o e t s s h o u l d h av e n e c e s s a r i l y made a c o n s c i o u s
d i s t i n c t i o n b e tw e e n su c h a b s t r a c t i o n s a s n e o c l a s s i c i s m an d
r o m a n t i c i s m , n o r t h a t we s h o u l d to d a y p o s s e s s a r e c o r d o f
su c h a d i s t i n c t i o n .
A g r e a t d e a l o f t h i s m a tte r h as been
lo s t^ - th e c r itic is m expressed in l e t t e r s , in t a b le - ta l k
c o n v e r s a t i o n , and anonymous w r i t i n g s , ?and much o f t h e d i s н
s a t i s f a c t i o n w i t h A u g u sta n l i t e r a t u r e was u n d o u b t e d l y " o f f
t h e r e c o r d . w The a v a i l a b l e m a t e r i a l w i l l r e p r e s e n t a t b e s t
o n l y a p a r t i a l p i c t u r e o f any on e p o e t ' s o u t l o o k on t h e
subj e c t.
The p o e t s t o b e c o n s i d e r e d a r e s e l e c t e d n o t b e o a u s e
o f t h e i r im p o r ta n c e a s c r i t i c s , b u t o n ly b e c a u s e t h e y a r e
t h e men commonly d e s ig h & te d a s t h e l e a d e r s o f t h e new f a i t h .
They h a v e b e e n d i v i d e d i n t o two g r o u p s : t h o s e o f t h e a g e o f
P o p e , an d t h o s e who b e l o n g more e x c l u s i v e l y t o t h e m id d le o f
t h e c e n tu ry fo llo w in g h i s d e a th i n 1744.
I n t h e memarks o f
e a c h p o e t we s h a l l b e i n t e r e s t e d i n t h r e e t h i n g s :
th e c r i t i н
c is m o f n e o c l a s s i c a l l i t e r a t u r e , c o n s t r u c t i v e i d e a s on p o e t r y ,
14
an d t h e r e a c t i o n t o c o n te m p o r a r y r o m a n ti c t r e n d s .
I t w ill
b e i n t e r e s t i n g t o s e e how much r e a l c r i t i c i s m was v e n t u r e d
d u r i n g t h e l i f e t i m e o f P o p e , an d w h e th e r i t was e x p r e s s e d
p u b lic ly o r p riv a te ly .
We. s h a l l w ant t o know how t h e new
i d e a s r e s e m b l e , a n d d i f f e r f ro m , n e o c l a s s i c a l t h e o r y , a n d
w h e th e r t h e r e s p o n s e t o t h e new movements i n l i t e r a t u r e and
a r t was p o s i t i v e o r n e g a t i v e .
The n a t u r e and e x t e n t o f c o n н
f l i c t b e tw e e n t h e o l d and new t r a d i t i o n s o f p o e t r y s h o u ld
t h e n b e more e v i d e n t .
CHAPTER I I
CRITICISM OF NEOCLASSICAL POETRY IN THE AGE OF POPE
T h e r e was l i t t l e
fo rm al c r i t i c i s m o f l i t e r a t u r e d u rin g
t h e f i r s t q u a r t e r o f t h e e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y by members o f t h e
p o e tic a l c r a f t.
A te m p o r a r y r e b e l t o n e o c l a s s i c s t y l e s was
Samuel C r o x a l l , a u t h o r o f some v e r y p r o s a i c S p e n s e r i a n i m i н
t a t i o n s , je. g . , The V i s i o n ( 1 7 1 5 ) .
He b o l d l y d e c l a r e d t h a t
F a i r C i r c a s s i a n (1 7 2 0 ) was i n t e n d e d ?t o s e t o f f t h e d r y
& i n s i p i d s t u f f " o f h i s ag e w i t h " a w h ole p i e c e o f r i c h
g lo w in g s c a r l e t . " ^ -
T h e r e w e r e , o f c o u r s e , o t h e r poems w i t h
u n f a s h i o n a b l e s u b j e c t s o r v e r s e fo rm s ? Jo h n Hughes* The
P i c t u r e ( 1 7 0 4 ) , Jo h n P h i l i p s ' Cyder ( 1 7 0 8 ) , H i n c h c l i f f e ' s
S e a s o n s ( 1 7 1 8 ) , P a r n e l l ' s N i g h t - P i e c e ( 1 7 3 1 ) ? b u t t h e s e w ere
n o t w r i t t e n o u t o f an y deep d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n w i t h c u r r e n t
lite ra tu re .
O nly a few n a t u r e poems o f Anne F i n c h , C o u n te s s
o f W i n c h i l s e a , a r e c l a i m e d t o b e r e a l l y r o m a n ti c i n s p i r i t .
T h ese poem s, p r a i s e d by W ordsw orth f o r t h e i r r o m a n ti c q u a l i t y ,
a r e e x c e p t i o n s t o t h e g r e a t e r p a r t o f h e r w o rk , w h ich r e s e m b l e s
i n m ost r e s p e c t s t h a t o f h e r c o r d i a l f r i e n d , Mr. P o p e .
A lla n Ramsay was one o f t h e f i r s t p o e t s t o c r i t i c i z e
n e o c la s s ic v e rs e u n fa v o ra b ly .
I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g to n o te th a t
Q uoted b y G osse i n h i s H i s t o r y o f E i g h t e e n t h C e n tu r y
L i t e r a t u r e (London a n d New York: The M a c m illa n Company, 1 9 0 7 ;,
p . 139.
16
t h i s c r i t i c i s m came n o t fro m London l i t e r a r y c i r c l e s , h u t
fro m t h e s a f e d i s t a n c e o f S c o t l a n d ,
Ram say? s c o n t r i b u t i o n
t o p r e - r o m a n t i c v e r s e was h i s G e n tl e S h e p h e rd ( 1 7 2 1 ) , w h ic h ,
f o r i t s own k i n d o f p a s t o r a l i s m , h a s b e e n c r e d i t e d w i t h
s t r i k i n g t h e f i r s t n o t e i n t h e R o m an tic Movement.
2
I n 1724
h e - p u b l i s h e d t h e Ever G r e e n . S c o t s poem s w r o te by t h e I n н
g e n i o u s b e f o r e 1 6 0 0 . a c o l l e c t i o n o f o l d poems a n d b a l l a d s ,
an d i n t h e p r e f a c e t o t h i s work d e f e n d e d t h e r u d e v e r s e o f
h i s n a tiv e co u n try a g a in s t th e fa s h io n a b le l i t e r a t u r e o f th e
day.
W ith o u t r e f e r r i n g d i r e c t l y t o an y o f t h e n e o c l a s s i c
w r ite r s , he c r i t i c i z e d th e t r i v i a l i t y o f c u rre n t p o e try .
In
e x p l a i n i n g t h e p u r p o s e o f h i s volum e h e re m a rk e d t h a t many
read ers
. . . f r e q u e n t l y c o m p la in o f o u r m odern W r i t i n g s .
a s f i l l e d w i t h a f f e c t e d D e l i c a c i e s and s t u d i e d R e f i n e н
m e n ts , w h ic h t h e y w o u ld g l a d l y e x c h a n g e f o r t h a t n a t u r a l
S t r e n g t h o f T hought an d S i m p l i c i t y o f S t i l e o u r F o r e н
fa th e rs p ra c tis e d .3
I f Ramsay w as c o r r e c t , we may t a k e t h i s s t a t e m e n t a s a p r o o f
o f t h e g ro w in g d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n w i t h u r b a n i t y an d t r i v i a l i t y
in n e o c la ssic v e rse .
The custo m o f b o r r o w in g d e s c r i p t i o n s o f
n a t u r e fro m f a s h i o n a b l e F r e n c h , G reek a n d L a t i n p o e t r y , a s
2 W. J . C o u r th o p e , A H i s t o r y o f E n g l i s h P o e t r y (New
York an d London: The M a c m illa n Company, 1 8 9 4 - 1 9 1 0 ), V o l. 5 ,
p . 364.
*2
A lla n Ramsay, p r e f a c e t o The E v e r G re e n . Q uoted by
W. H. Durham ( e d i t o r ) , C r i t i c a l E s s a y s o f t h e E i g h t e e n t h
C e n tu r y . 1 7 0 0 -1 7 2 5 (Hew Haven: Y a le U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s ; Lonн
d o n ; O x fo rd U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1 9 1 5 ) , p . 399.
17
p r a c tic e d in th e p a s to r a l, i s a lso censured.
Ramsay c o n н
t r a s t e d t h e m o d em p a s t o r a l w i t h t h e more s i n c e r e poems o f
t h e E v er G re e n t
When t h e s e g o o d o l d B a rd s w r o t e , we h a d n o t y e t made
Use o f i m p o r te d T rim m ings upon o u r C l o a t h s , n o r o f
f o r e i g n U n b r o id e r y i n o u r W r i t i n g s . T h e i r P o e t r y i s
t h e P r o d u c t o f t h e i r own C o u n try , n o t p i l f e r e d and
s p o i l e d i n t h e T r a n s p o r t a t i o n fro m a b r o a d : T h e i r Im ages
a r e n a t i v e , and t h e i r L a n d s k ip s d o m e s tic k : c o p i e d from
t h o s e F i e l d s an d Meadows we e v e r y Day b e h o l d . . . . We
a r e n o t c a r r i e d t o G re e c e o r I t a l y f o r a S h ad e, a S tream
o r a B r e e z e . The G ro v e s r i s e i n o u r own V a l l e y s ; t h e
R i v e r s f lo w from o u r own F o u n t a i n s . . .
He ad d s t h a t t h e r e i s g r e a t p l e a s u r e i n r e a d i n g t h e s e a n c i e n t
n a t iv e b a l l a d s , and p r o t e s t s a g a in s t th e n e g le c t o f th e naн
t i v e to n g u e i n d e f e r e n c e t o t h e more f a s h i o n a b l e F re n c h o r
Ita lia n :
" T h e re i s n o t h i n g c a n b e h e a r d m ore s i l l y th a n
one*s e x p re s sin g h i s Ig n o ran ce o f n a t iv e la n g u a g e .
I n t h e s e c o n c r e t e ways d i d A lla n Ramsay, w r i t i n g i n
t h e e a r l y 1 7 2 0* 8, c r i t i c i z e l i t e r a r y f a s h i o n s o f h i s a g e , and
p a i n t t h e way t o r e f o r m .
H is o b j e c t i o n s t o p o e t i c t r i f l i n g
seem s t o h a v e b e e n a g e n e r a l o n e , i n v ie w o f t h e g r e a t e r
s e rio u s n e s s o f l a t e r p re -ro m a n tic v e rs e .
H is c o n v i c t i o n t h a t
t h e p o e t s h o u ld w r i t e o f n a t u r e a s h e s e e s i t i s a l s o i n н
t e r e s t i n g i n l i g h t o f t h e a c c u r a t e d e s c r i p t i o n fo u n d i n Thomн
so n and h i s s u c c e s s o r s .
The f e e l i n g o f n a t i o n a l i s m i s v e r y
e v i d e n t i n h i s o b j e c t i o n t o t h e dom inance o f t h e m ore " p o l i t e "
^ Ramsay, l o c . c i t .
5 I b i d . . p . 401.
18
l a n g u a g e s and i n h i e l o v e o f n a t i v e l i t e r a t u r e .
Ramsay was
a p i o n e e r c o l l e c t o r o f a n c i e n t v e r s e , t h e g ro w in g p o p u l a r i t y
o f w h ich was an i m p o r t a n t f a c t o r i n t h e r i s e o f r o m a n t i c i s m .
s
Jam es Thomson (1 7 0 0 -1 7 4 8 )
The p l a c e o f T h o m so n 's S e a s o n s i n t h e r o m a n ti c movement
h a s lo n g b e e n a c k n o w le d g e d .
The son o f a S c o tc h m i n i s t e r ,
Thomson h i m s e l f b e g a n s t u d i e s f o r t h e m i n i s t r y i n 1 7 1 5 .
At
t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f E d in b u rg h h e j o i n e d l i t e r a r y c l u b s w h ic h ,
i n t h e d e c l i n e o f L a t i n s c h o l a r s h i p , w e re en g a g ed i n i m i t a t i n g
t h e more f a s h i o n a b l e w r i t e r s o f London.
I n 1785 h e w ent to
London a n d t h e r e com posed h i s f i r s t i m p o r t a n t poem, W in te r .
The poem r a n t h r o u g h f o u r e d i t i o n s i n 1 7 2 6 , an d t o g e t h e r w i t h
t h e s u c c e s s i v e p a r t s o f t h e S e a s o n s e s t a b l i s h e d a vogue i n
n a tu r e p o e tr y and b la n k v e r s e t h a t l a s t e d th ro u g h o u t th e
c e n tu ry .
A lth o u g h s c h o l a r s c a n a g r e e upon t h e h i s t o r i c a l
im p o r ta n c e o f T h o m so n 's poem, t h e y c a n n o t so e a s i l y a g r e e s
upon i t s r o m a n t i c q u a l i t i e s .
H is s in o e r e tr e a tm e n t o f n a t u r e
h a s o f t e n b e e n d e s c r i b e d a s a " r o m a n t ic " te n d e n c y w hich l e d
t h e way i n t h e p r e - r o m a n t i c movement; b u t t h e r e a r e many who
d is a g re e w ith t h i s in t e r p r e t a t i o n .
F o r ex a m p le , w h i l e m ost
w r i t e r s h a v e p r a i s e d t h e a c c u r a c y o f T h o m so n 's n a t u r e - d e s c r i p t i o n s , O o u rth o p e w r o t e a b o u t h i s " . . .
g e n e ra liz e d ,
c l a s s i c a l , q u a s i - s c i e n t i f i c mode o f d e s c r i p t i o n . . .
so
о O f. h i s tw e lv e e d i t i o n s o f T e a - T a b le M i s c e l l a n i e s .
19
u n l i k e t h e p a r t i c u l a r i t y o f d e t a i l i n W ordsw orth. . . . "
7
S i r L e s l i e S te p h e n s a i d t h a t n a t u r e was f o r Thomson l i t t l e
m ore t h a n a s e r i e s o f a r r a n g e m e n t s by w h ic h t h e t h e o l o g i a n
w as e n a b l e d t o com bat s c e p t i c s .
-Q
G. 0 . M a c a u la y , a s t u d e n t
o f Thomson, h a s w r i t t e n :
Some c r i t i c s i n s i s t on r e g a r d i n g Thomson c h i e f l y a s
a h e r a l d o f t h e r o m a n t i c r e v i v a l ; b u t t h i s i s w h o lly t o
m i s c o n c e iv e h i s p o s i t i o n . He was e s s e n t i a l l y a r e p r e н
s e n t a t i v e o f h i s own a g e , an d t h a t age was a l s o t h e a g e
o f P o p e . He w as, i n f a c t , i n a c e r t a i n s e n s e t h e comн
p le m e n t o f P o p e , a p p l y i n g t o t h e c o u n t r y s c e n e s someн
t h i n g o f t h e same po w er o f o b s e r v a t i o n a n d v i v i d p o r н
t r a i t u r e w h ich P ope u s e d upon t h e town.о
M acaulay s a i d t h a t T h o m so n 's t r e a t m e n t o f n a t u r e , b e i n g a l н
m o st w h o lly o b j e c t i v e , r a t h e r t h a n s u b j e c t i v e , was t h e r e f o r e
n o t n e c e s s a r i l y i n c o n f l i c t w i t h n e o c l a s s i c p r i n c i p l e s . 19
Thus do t h e s e e m in e n t s c h o l a r s , f o r d i f f e r e n t , a n d even c o n н
f l i c t i n g r e a s o n s , a c c o r d i n g t o t h e i r own i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f
T h o m so n 's p o e t r y , a s s e r t t h a t t h e a u t h o r o f t h e S e a s o n s was
e s s e n t i a l l y a s much a c l a s s i c i s t a s P o p e .
U n f o r t u n a t e l y , we p o s s e s s v e r y l i t t l e
o f T h o m so n 's o p i n i o n s o f n e o c l a s s i c i s m .
7
c o n c r e te e v id en c e
I n th e o n ly im p o rta n t
C o u r th o p e , o p . c i t . . p . 3 1 2 .
о S i r L e s l i e S te p h e n , H i s t o r y o f E n g l i s h T hought i n
t h e E i g h t e e n t h C e n tu r y (Hew York; G. P . P u tn a m ' s S ons; Lonн
d o n : S m ith , E l d e r , a n d Company, 1 9 0 2 ) , V o l. 2 , p . 362.
te rs)
9 G. C. M a cau lay , Jam es Thomson ( E n g l i s h Men o f L e t н
(London: M a c m illa n and Company, L t d . , 1 9 0 8 ) , p . 9 3 .
10 I b i d - * p . 9 2 .
20
p i e c e o f c r i t i c i s m w h ich h e l e f t ? h i s p r e f a c e t o t h e s e c o n d
e d i t i o n o f W i n t e r ?h e made an o b s e r v a t i o n t h a t Ramsay h ad
made o n l y two y e a r s b e f o r e , n a m e ly , t h a t p o e t r y h a d l a t e l y
become a f a l l e n a r t *
and h ad e a r n e d t h e d i s f a v o r o f d i s н
c rim in a tin g re a d e rs .
Most c u r r e n t v e r s e was c o n c e r n e d w i t h
" lo w , v e n a l , t r i f l i n g ,
s u b j e c t s M w h ich r e s u l t o n l y i n " f o r c e d
u n a f f e o t i n g f a n c i e s , l i t t l e g l i t t e r i n g p r e t i n e s s e s , m ix ed
t u r n s o f w i t a n d e x p r e s s i o n , w h ic h a r e a s w id e l y d i f f e r e n t
from n a t i v e p o e t r y a s b u f f o o n e r y i s fro m t h e p e r f e c t i o n o f
human t h i n k i n g .
T h i s c r i t i c i s m , w h ich m ig h t w e l l h a v e
a p p l i e d t o The Rape o f t h e L ock, i l l u s t r a t e s T h om so n's im н
p a tie n c e w ith th e l i g h t e r sid e o f n e o c la s s ic v e rs e .
E x p resн
s i n g h o p e s f o r a " r e v i v a l o f p o e t r y , " h e a d v o c a te d , i n p l a c e
o f t h e u s u a l s u b j e c t s o f v e r s e , t h e c h o i c e o f " g r e a t an d
se rio u s s u b je c ts ."
T h i s , t o Thomson, m eant w r i t i n g a b o u t
n a tu re :
I know o f no s u b j e c t more e l e v a t i n g , m ore am u sing ;
more r e a d y t o awake t h e p o e t i c a l e n t h u s i a s m , t h e p h i l o н
s o p h i c a l r e f l e c t i o n , a n d t h e m o r a l s e n t i m e n t , th a n t h e
w ork s o f N a t u r e . Where c a n we m eet w i t h su c h v a r i e t y ,
su c h b e a u t y , su c h m a g n if i c e n c e ? A l l t h a t e n l a r g e s a n d
t r a n s p o r t s t h e s o u lJ . . . F o r t h i s r e a s o n t h e b e s t ,
b o t h a n c i e n t a n d m od ern, P o e t s h a v e b e e n p a s s i o n a t e l y
fond o f r e t i r e m e n t , and s o l i t u d e .
And t h e y seem n e v e r
t o h a v e b e e n more h a p p y , t h a n when, l o s t i n u n f r e q u e n t e d
f i e l d s , f a r from t h e l i t t l e b u sy w o r l d , t h e y w e re a t
C o m p lete P o e t i c a l Works o f Jam es Thomson.
E d i t e d b y J . L o g ie R o b e rt son ( London: H enry F row de, O x fo rd
U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1 9 0 8 ) , p . 2 4 0.
21
l e i s u r e , t o m e d i t a t e , a n d s i n g t h e Works o f H a t u r e .
I P
What Thomson m eant b y " g r e a t an d s e r i o u s s u b je c ts о i s d i s н
c l o s e d i n t h i s p a r a g r a p h : n a t u r e h a s t h e po w er t o ? e l e v a t e ,о
t o ? e n l a r g e " a n d " t r a n s p o r t " t h e s o u l , and. t o awaken t h e
" p h i l o s o p h i c a l r e f l e c t i o n , an d t h e m o r a l s e n t i m e n t . "
T h ese
r e m a r k s , and h i s s u b s e q u e n t m e n tio n o f t h e " s u b l i m e s t p a s н
s a g e s " o f t h e B i b l e , a r e e v i d e n c e o f h i s r e l i g i o u s b a c k g ro u n d
an d t r a i n i n g f o r t h e m i n i s t r y .
Thomson t h o u g h t o f p o e t r y , i n
h i s y o u t h , a t l e a s t , n o t i n t e r m s o f t h e w o rk s o f Pope an d
P r i o r , b u t i n te r m s o f t h e g r e a t Hebrew w r i t e r s an d o f
13
P a ra d is e L o st.
H is c o n c e p t i o n o f n a t u r e , w h i l e f a r d i f н
f e r e n t from t h a t d i s p l a y e d i n t h e c o n v e n t i o n a l p a s t o r a l , was
s t i l l a n e o c la s s ic a l one.
The f o n d n e s s f o r " r e t i r e m e n t , and
s o l i t u d e " an d f o r " m e d i t a t i o n " i s t y p i c a l l y A u g u s ta n , s i g н
n i f y i n g an H o r a t i a n a l o o f n e s s from t h e b u sy w o r ld o f man.
I n on e i m p o r t a n t r e s p e c t , h o w e v e r, h i s d i v e r g e n c e from n e o c l a s s i c is m can c l e a r l y be se e n .
T h is i s i n h i s r e f e r e n c e t o
" p o e t i c e n th u s ia s m " an d t o t h e " w ild r o m a n ti c c o u n t r y , " and
i n h i s s t a t e m e n t t h a t p o e t r y s h o u ld " p l e a s e , i n s t r u c t , s u r н
p r i s e , an d a s t o n i s h .
. .. . 1,14
H is l i k i n g f o r p o e t i c e n -
12 I b i d . . p p , 2 4 0 - 4 1 .
13
He p r a i s e d t h e poems o f Moses and o f J o b , t h e l a t н
t e r e s p e c ia lly f o r i t s p o w erfu l d e s c r ip tio n s o f n a tu re .
^ The C om p lete P o e t i c a l W orks. p . 34 0. I t was lo n g
b e l i e v e d t h a t S h a f t e s b u r y w as t h e s o u r c e f o r t h i s s t a t e m e n t
22
th u s i a s m l e d him t o a p p r o v e t h e " t e r r o r - p o e t r y " t h a t b e g a n t o
flo u rish .
He r e v e l e d i n t h e l i n e from M a l l e t ? s E x c u r s i o n .
" S h r i e k i n g w i t c h e s i n t h e d e s e r t ? a t d e a d o f n i g h t , " and s a i d
o f a n o th e r p a s s a g e : "T h is i s P o e tr y , t h i s i s a ro u s in g fa n c y
? e n t h u s ia s m ? r a p t u r o u s t e r r o r . S u c h was n o t t h e n e o н
c l a s s i c c o n c e p tio n o f p o e tr y .
Thomson made no m e n tio n o f h i s somewhat u n o r th o d o x u s e
o f b l a n k v e r s e i n The S e a s o n s .
H is Autumn c o n t a i n s a r e f e r н
e n c e t o J o h n P h i l i p s , w hose poem C yd er f o l l o w e d M i l t o n ' s
exam ple i n t h e m a t t e r o f v e r s e form :
P h i l l i p s , P o m o n a 's b a r d j t h e s e c o n d th o u
Who n o b ly d u r s t i n r h y m e - u n f e t t e r e d v e r s e
W ith B r i t i s h fre e d o m s i n g t h e B r i t i s h so n g .
(1 1 . 645-4?)
I t i s i n t i m a t e d h e r e t h a t t h e r e was d a r i n g i n P h i l i p ' s n o n н
c o n f o r m i t y , b u t s i n c e Thomson made so l i t t l e m e n tio n o f t h e
m a t t e r , we m ust i n f e r t h a t t h e r e was l i t t l e
i n h i s own.
B la n k v e r s e an d M i l t o n a r e sp o k e n o f a s t y p i c a l l y E n g l i s h .
Thomson was n o t so much t h e s o l e f o u n d e r o f t h e new
s c h o o l o f n a t u r e - p o e t r y a s he was t h e l e a d e r o f a g ro u p o f
p o e t s who w ere m oving i n t h e same d i r e c t i o n .
The Welshman,
( c f . A. L. R e ed , The B ack g ro u n d o f G ray *s E le g y : a. S tu d y i n
t h e T a s t e f o r M e la n c h o ly P o e t r y . ?T 70Q -1751 (New York: Columн
b i a U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1 9 2 4 ) ) , b u t c u r r e n t s t u d i e s , c o n d u c te d
a t t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f C h ic a g o , a r e t e n d i n g t o d i s p r o v e t h i s
th e o ry .
15 S. H. Monk, The S u b lim e : a S tu d y o f C r i t i c a l T heн
o r i e s i n X V I I I - C e n tu r y E n g la n d (Hew York: Modern L anguage
A s s o c i a t i o n o f A m erica, 193517 p . 9 0 .
23
J o h n D yer, p u b l i s h e d h i s G ro n g a r H i l l i n 1726; and Thomson
knew h im , an d h a d p e r h a p s c o r r e s p o n d e d w i t h h im , b e f o r e t h a t
d a te .
The poems o f Thomson*s f r i e n d , M a l l e t , ( The E x c u r s io n .
1 7 2 8 ) , o f A rm stro n g , a n d o f W illia m S o m e r v i l l e show t h e same
in te r e s t in n a tu re .
S o m e r v i l l e , o f whom C o u r th o p e s a i d ,
. . . h i s lo v e o f th e c o u n try and h i s a c q u a in ta n c e
w i t h i t s p u r s u i t s a r e u n m is ta k a b ly shown i n h i s poem s,
w h ich b r e a t h a s p i r i t a s d i f f e r e n t a s p o s s i b l e from t h e
l i t e r a r y c o f f e e - h o u s e p a s t o r a l i s m c u l t i v a t e d by Pope
an d Ambrose P h i l i p s , 16
p u b l i c l y w&lcoraed t h e a d v e n t o f T h o m so n 's S e a s o n s i n h i s
O c c a s i o n a l Poems ( 1 7 2 7 ) .
Hone o f t h e s e p o e t s e x p r e s s e d any
im p o rta n t c t i t i c i s m o f n e o c l a s s i c v e r s e , b u t a l l w ere conн
s c i o u s o f t h e i r common i n t e r e s t ? t h e o u t - o f - d o o r s .
Form al
c r i t i c i s m o f t h e P o pean s c h o o l , o r r e c o g n i t i o n o f i t s s h o r t н
c o m in g s, was n o t e s s e n t i a l t o t h e ad van cem en t o f r o m a n ti c is m
a t t h i s tim e .
The r e a l o p p o n e n t o f n e o c l a s s i o i s m , i n some
o f i t s p h a s e s , was n o t a p o e t , b u t a c r i t i c ? Jo h n D e n n is ,
who, w h i l e Thomson was y e t a s t u d e n t i n E d in b u r g h , was p r o н
c l a i m i n g t h e m e r i t s o f b l a n k v e r s e an d t h e d e f e c t s o f t h e
h e ro ic c o u p le t. ^
T h e r e was a more g e n e r a l c r i t i c a l d i s -
16 C o u r th o p e , o p . c i t . , p . 368.
S o m e r v i l l e was a l s o
a c o r r e s p o n d e n t o f Ramsay ( o f . J . H. M i l l a r , The M id - E ig h te e n th
C e n tu r y (Hew York: C h a r l e s S c r i b n e r ' s S o n s, 196'2), p. 1 9 9 .)
17
& is R e f l e c t i o n s upon an E ssa y on C r i t i c i s m , an d
h i s "E s s a y on P ro s o d y " i n Jam es G re e n w o o d 's E ssa y to w a r d s a
P r a c t i c a l Grammar. 1 7 2 2 . He h a s b e e n c a l l e d a p i o n e e r o f
r o m a n ti c is m f o r h i s a d v a n c e d a p p r e c i a t i o n o f S h a k e s p e a r e a n d
M i l t o n , and f o r s t a t i n g t h e d i f f e r e n c e b e tw e e n o r d i n a r y emo~
24
c u s s i o n o f b l a n k v e r s e , 18 b u t t h e g r e a t e s t s i n g l e c a u s e f o r
i t s i n c r e a s i n g p o p u l a r i t y was i t s
s u c c e s s i n The S e a s o n s .
An i l l u s t r a t i o n o f t h e g r a d u a l , n o n - e r i t i c a l c h a n g e s
r
ta k in g p la c e in
l i t e r a t u r e a t t h i s tim e !is t h e " r o m a n t i c ?
p ro c liv itie s of
Pope h i m s e l f .
f|
The i d e a s o f S h a f t e s b u r y w ere
]Q
ec h o e d n o t o n l y by t h e p r e - r o m a n t i c p o e t s , b u t a l s o by P o p e . ░
The n e o c l a s s i c c h i e f t a i n h a d no q u a r r e l w i t h Dyer o r Thomson;
h e h e l p e d t h e l a t t e r w r i t e some o f t h e b l a n k v e r s e i n t h e
Seasons.
L ik e so many o f h i s c o n t e m p o r a r i e s , Pope h a d h i s
g r o t t o ? a r o m a n ti c r e f u g e f i l l e d w i t h c u r i o s i t i e s fro m s t r a n g e
f a r - o f f p la c e s .
I t was h e who s a i d o f S p e n s e r:
T h e r e i s s o m e th in g i n S p e n s e r t h a t p l e a s e s o n e a s
s t r o n g l y i n o n e ? s o l d - a g e , a s i t d i d i n o n e ' s y o u th ;
I r e a d t h e F a i r y Queen when I was a b o u t t w e l v e , w i t h
a v a s t d e a l o f d e l i g h t ; and I t h i n k i t g a v e me a s much,
when I r e a d i t o v e r a y e a r o r two a g o . 2?
And i t was he who o n c e s a i d , " I h ad some i d e a o f w r i t i n g a
P e rsia n fa b le ;
i n w h ich I s h o u ld h a v e g i v e n a f u l l l o o s e t o
d e s c r i p t i o n and im a g in a tio n .
I t w ould h av e b e e n a v e r y w i l d
t i o n an d e m o tio n r e c o l l e c t e d i n t r a n q u i l l i t y an d t h e r e l a t i o n
o f e m o tio n t o v e r s i f i c a t i o n .
O f. H. G. P a u l , Jo h n D e n n is :
h i s L i f e and C r i t i c i s m (Hew York: C o lu m b ia U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s ,
T9Ti 7 7 p - ~ ^ o*
18 O f? Jam es R a lp h , M i s c e l l a n e o u s Poem s. 17 2 9 .
^
20
R e ed , p p . c i t . . p . 139.
Jo se p h Spence, A n e c d o te s. O b s e r v a tio n s , and C h aracн
t e r s o f Books a n d Men . . . (London: W. H. C a r p e n t e r ; E d in н
b u r g h : A. C o n s t a b l e an d Company, 1 8 2 0 ) , p . 29 6.
25
t h i n g . W i t h
t h e l e a d e r o f n e o c l a s s i c i s m h a r b o r i n g su c h
th o u g h ts , i t i s n o t d i f f i c u l t to account f o r th e changes
w ro u g h t i n l i t e r a t u r e i n t h e s u c c e e d in g y e a r s .
C ritic is m o f n e o c la ssic ism , as expressed b y ^ re -ro m a n н
t i c p o e t s i n t h e f i r s t p a r t o f t h e e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y , was
s l i g h t i n volum e an d g e n e r a l i n n a t u r e .
Ramsay a n d Thomson,
b o th S c o t t i s h r a t h e r th a n E n g lis h i n b ackground, p r o t e s t e d
a g a i n s t t h e t r i v i a l i t y o f n e o c l a s s i c v e r s e , a n d Thomson a d н
v o c a te d th e c h o ic e o f n a tu re a s a s u b je c t f o r p o e t r y .
In
n e i th e r in s ta n c e d id t h i s c o n s t i t u t e a c h a lle n g e to th e
c la s s ic is m o f th e ag e.
The t e r m , " p r e - r o m a n t i c , " when u s e d
i n c o n n e c tio n w ith th e s e w r i t e r s , a p p l ie s o n ly to th e i n f l u н
e n c e w h ich t h e i r w o rk s e x e r t e d i n t h e l a t e r r i s e o f r o m a n t i н
c is m , and n o t t o any s p e d i f i c o r p u r p o s e f u l d e v i a t i o n from
t h e p r i n c i p l e s o f t h e n e o c l a s s i c code.
21 I f c id . . p . 140
CHAPTER I I I
THE MIDDLE OF THE CENTURY
We h a v e b e e n c o n c e r n e d eo f a r w i t h p o e t s whose m a in
work was done w i t h i n t h e l i f e - t i m e o f P o p e .
As l o n g a s P o p e
l i v e d , h i s dom inance i n l i t e r a t u r e was c e r t a i n t o r e s t r a i n
an d l i m i t any c r i t i c i s m o f n e o c l a s s i c p o e t r y .
We a r e now
c o n c e r n e d w i t h a g ro u p o f men who b e l o n g t o a l a t e r p e r i o d .
The d e a t h o f P o p e i n 1744 c o u l d n o t o f i t s e l f h av e c r e a t e d
an y g r e a t c h a n g e i n l i t e r a t u r e , b u t t h e f a c t r e m a in s t h a t no
s i n g l e d o m in a n t f i g u r e r o s e i n h i s p l a c e t o assum e t h e m a n tle
of a u th o rity .
The s c a t t e r e d , shadowy t e n d e n c i e s w h ich b e g a n
t o em erge i n t h e 1 7 3 0 's became more a n d more p r o m in e n t a f t e r
1744.
I f th e r e i s j u s t i f i c a t i o n fo r d iv id in g l i t e r a t u r e in to
"m ov em en ts," i t i s t h i s new p e r i o d w h ic h may m ost s a f e l y and
a c c u ra te ly be d e sig n a te d as " t r a n s i t i o n a l ."
N eo c la ssic ism
w as s t i l l p r e d o m i n a n t , b u t t h e r e a r o s e a new s p i r i t i n l i t e r a н
t u r e w h ic h e a r n s f o r t h e new ag e t h e a p p e l l a t i o n , " P r e - r o н
m a n tic ."
The p r e - r o m a n t i c age may b e d i v i d e d i n t o two p a r t s
? t h e p e r i o d o f g r e a t e s t p o e t i c a c t i v i t y i n t h e d e c a d e from
1740 t o 17 5 0 , a n d t h e p e r i o d o f c r i t i c i s m , a f t e r 17 50.
The th e m e s , f o r m s , an d s t a l e s o f p o e t r y w ere u n d e r н
g o in g i m p o r t a n t c h a n g e s e v e n i n t h e l a t t e r y e a r s o f P o p e 's
life .
n o tin g .
I n t h i s c o n n e c t i o n , t h e a g e o f t h e new p o e t s i s w o r t h
W ith t h e e x c e p t i o n o f tfEdward Young, t h e p r e - r o m a n t i c
p o e t s ? A k e a s id e , C o l l i n s , S h e n s to n e , G ra y , an d t h e W arton
b r o t h e r s ?w ere men t w e n t y - f i v e t o f o r t y y e a r s y o u n g e r t h a n
Pope.
The p a s s i n g o f P op e i n 1744 and o f S w i f t i n 1745
b r o u g h t a new g e n e r a t i o n o f p o e t s i n t o t h e f o r e g r o u n d , and
t h e s e y o u n g e r men q u i t e n a t u r a l l y a d o p t e d t h e new i d e a s and
i n t e r e s t s b r o u g h t a b o u t by t h e ch a n g e i n p o e t i c f a s h i o n s .
A lth o u g h c o n s e r v a t i v e s l i k e P o p e and S w if t s t i l l co m b ated
t h e o p t i m i s t i c v ie w o f human p e r f e c t i o n , b e tw e e n 1744 and
1747 su c h men a s A k e n s id e , C o o p e r, t h e W a rto n s, a n d C o l l i n s
gave t h e i r su p p o rt to th e th e o ry .*
The u n f a s h i o n a b l e v ie w s
o f Jo h n D e n n is w e re somewhat v i n d i c a t e d b y t h e new wave o f
s e n t i m e n t a l i s m and e m o tio n a lis m t h a t sw ept t h r o u g h l i t e r a t u r e ,
o
f i r s t i n t h e dram a an d t h e n o v e l .
S p e n s e r a n d M i l t o n came
m ore i n t o f a s h i o n .
H enry A. B e e r s s a i d t h a t "The new g ro u p
o f p o e t s . . . Thomson, S h e n s to n e , D y er, A k e n s id e , G ray,
C o l l i n s , a n d t h e W arton b r o t h e r s ? fo u n d t h e i r p o i n t o f de~
3
p a r t u r e i n t h e l o v i n g s t u d y and r e v i v a l o f o l d a u t h o r s . "
A
* E. Bernbaum , E n g l i s h P o e t s o f t h e E i g h t e e n t h C e n tu r y
(Hew York: C h a r l e s S c r i b n e r ? s S o n s, 1918 c . ) P r i m i t i v e l i f e
w as e x t o l l e d by H enry B ro o k e , U n i v e r s a l B e a u ty ( 1 7 3 5 ) .
^ A n o th e r a d v o c a t e o f e m o tio n a lis m w as Thomas B l a c k w e l l , whose E n q u ir y i n t o t h e L i f e an d W r i t i n g s o f Homer (1 7 3 5 )
w as l a t e r q u o t e d by t h e p r e - r o m a n t i c t r i b e .
3 H. A. B e e r s , A H i s t o r y o f E n g l i s h R o m an ticism i n t h e
E i g h t e e n t h C e n tu r y (Hew Y ork: H enry H o l t an d Company., 19X 6),
p p . 74-75.
28
r o m a n ti c c o l o r i n g b e g a n t o c r e e p i n t o t h e p u r e l y n e o c l a s e i c
S p e n se ria n i m i t a t i o n s .
An i n t e r e s t i n g exam ple o f t h e c a u t i o n
w i t h w h ich t h i s n o t e was a d v a n c e d i s W illia m T ho m p so n's
d e f e n s e o f An Hymn t o May ( c . 1 7 4 0 ) , a poem i n S p e n s e r 's
sty le :
I hope X h a v e no a p o lo g y t o make f o r d e s c r i b i n g t h e
b e a u t i e s o f th e seaso n i n to o te n d e r o r to o f l o r i d a
m a n n er. The n a t u r e o f t h e s u b j e c t r e q u i r e d a l u x u r н
io u s n e s s o f v e r s i f i c a t i o n , and a s o f t n e s s o f s e n tim e n t,
b u t th e y a r e p u r e a n d c h a s t e a t t h e same tim e ; o t h e r н
w is e t h i s c a n t o h ad n e i t h e r e v e r been w r i t t e n n o r o f н
fe re d to th e p u b lic .^
By 1766 i m p o r t a n t c h a n g e s had t a k e n p l a c e , a n d t h e r o m a n ti c
q u a l i t i e s o f Ja m es B e a t t i e ' s S p e n s e r i a n i m i t a t i o n , The Minн
s t r e l . w ere a d v a n c e d w i t h o u t a p o lo g y by t h e a u t h o r a n d w ere
f a v o r a b l y r e c e i v e d by t h e r e a d i n g p u b l i c .
P e r h a p s t h e m o st i m p o r t a n t d e v e lo p m e n t i n t h e d e c a d e
b e f o r e 1750 was t h e g r o w th o f m e la n c h o ly p o e t r y .
The new,
more s e r i o u s t e n o r o f p o e t r y a n d t h e i n f l u e n c e o f t h e S ch o o l
o f S e n s i b i l i t y was r e f l e c t e d i n t h e v i o l e n c e o f R o b e rt B l a i r ' s
G ra v e , an d Y o u n g 's N ig h t T h o u g h ts an d l a t e r i n t h e more
r e s t r a i n e d e l e g i e s o f Hammond, S h e n s to n e , and G ra y .
Volumes
4 H. 1 . C o ry , " S p e n s e r , Thomsoh, and R o m a n tic is m ,$
PMLA. X X V I(1911), 7 7 . Thompson was one o f t h e few t o w r i t e
S p e n s e r i a n s o n n e t s ( p u b l i s h e d i n 1 7 6 3 ) . O th e r poems show ing
t h e more r o m a n t i c s i d e o f S p e n s e r i n c l u d e C o l l i n s ' Ode on t h e
P o e t i c a l C h a r a c t e r . The S e a s o n s (1 7 5 1 ) b y Moses M endez, Ji
F a r e w e l l Hymn t o t h e C o u n try (1 7 4 9 ) by R. P o t t e r , The Concuн
b i n e (1 7 6 7 ) b y W. J . M i c k l e s , a n d M rs. T i g h e ' s P s y c h e , a
f a v o r i t e o f K e a ts.
( L i s t e d by C o ry , p . 7 0 . )
h a v e b e e n w r i t t e n a b o u t t h e b a c k g ro u n d o f t h i s m e la n c h o ly
v e r s e , b u t t h e m ost i m p o r t a n t s i n g l e f a c t o r i n i t s g ro w th
was t h e ren ew e d p o p u l a r i t y o f M i l t o n ? s m in o r p oem s, e s p e c i a l l y
11 P e n s e r o s o .
I t i s a g r e e d t h a t t h e s e poems w e r e g r e a t l y
n e g l e c t e d d u r i n g t h e h ey d a y o f n e o c l a s s i o i s m .
G o sse e x p r e s s e d
t h e common v ie w when h e s a i d t h a t L * A lle g ro and I I , P e n s e r o s o
h a d b e e n e n t i r e l y n e g l e c t e d , an d p r a c t i c a l l y unknown, u n t i l a
d a t e lo n g a f t e r t h e r e h a b i l i t a t i o n o f P a r a d i s e L o s t , and
th a t ?. . .
t h e e f f e c t o f t h e r e d i s c o v e r y o f M i l t o n upon t h e
p o e t s o f t h e m id d le o f t h e e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y . . . ? was v e r y
c o n sid e ra b le .
1740 i s g i v e n a s t h e a p p r o x im a te d a t e o f t h e
?r e v i v e d o r d i s c o v e r e d p o p u l a r i t y . " о
G osse? s sta te m e n t i s
t o o sw e e p in g , s i n c e i t h a s b e e n shown t h a t t h e s e p eem s, f a r
from b e i n g ??e n t i r e l y n e g l e c t e d ? o r f o r g o t t e n , w e re r e a d and
even im i ta t e d in th e f i r s t q u a r te r o f th e c e n tu r y .
But t h e
f a c t r e m a in s t h a t I I P e n s e r o s o r e a c h e d a new h e i g h t o f p o p u l a r i t y a b o u t 1740 an d g r e a t l y i n f l u e n c e d t h e vogue f o r
m e la n c h o ly .
The p r e - r o m a n t i c p o e t s w e re t h e m s e l v e s c o n v in c e d
t h a t th e y h ad fo u n d a t r e a s u r e h id d e n t o t h e c o n t e m p o r a r i e s
o f Pope.
J o s e p h W arton sp o k e o f t h e r e v i v a l o f M i l t o n ? s
m in o r p oem s, w h ich h e p r a i s e d a b o v e P o p e 's work.о
A k en sid e
c
E. G o s s e , Two P i o n e e r s o f R o m a n tic is m : J o s e p h and
Thomas W arton (London: M i l f o r d ( B r i t i s h Academy), 1 9 1 5 ) , p p .
11 -12 .
6
J o s e p h W arto n , An E ssa y on t h e W r i t i n g s an d G e n iu s
o f Pope (London: P r i n t e d ?T o r M. C o o p e r, 1 7 5 6 ) , I , 4 0 . Wqrton
s a i d t h e y became b e t t e r known a f t e r H an d e l h a d w r i t t e n m u sic
f o r th e m .
30
an d S h e n s to n e a l s o h e l d t h e o p i n i o n t h a t t h e y h a d b e e n to o
lo n g o b s c u r e d .
The b e g i n n i n g s o f a r o m a n t i c c o n s c i o u s n e s s
may b e s e e n i n t h e c l a i m o f r e s u r r e c t i o n p u t f o r w a r d by t h e s e
p o e ts.
The c h a n g e i n l i t e r a r y f a s h i o n s i s a l s o r e f l e c t e d i n 4
t h e p o p u l a r i t y o f new v e r s e f o r m s .
The b e s t ex am ple o f t h e
t r a n s i t i o n a l s t a t e o f p o e t r y i s t h e o d e o f t h e m id d le o f t h e
c e n tu ry .
I n fo rm i t was t r a d i t i o n a l l y c l a s s i c , and a s
p r a c t i c e d b y l e a d i n g p r e - r o m a n t i c i s t s , i t was c o n v e n t i o n a l l y
i r r e g u l a r a n d i m a g i n a t i v e ? t h i n g s w h ich w ere a l l o w e d f o r i n
g oo d n e o c l a s s i c t h e o r y .
At t h e same t i m e , t h e r e was an a t н
te m p t t o b e i n d i v i d u a l and s u b j e c t i v e , 8
G ra y , t h e W arton
f a m i l y , and C o l l i n s w e re a l l v o t a r i e s o f t h e G reek o r H o r a t i a n o d e , a n d , w i t h t h e i r l e s s e r c o m p a n io n s, G i l b e r t W est,
R i c h a r d W e st, a n d Mason? fo rm a ?movement" o f more o r l e s s
sim ila r l i t e r a t u r e .
The m i s c e l l a n i e s o f R o b e r t D o d sle y (1 7 4 8 -1 7 5 6 ) a f f o r d
a good i l l u s t r a t i o n o f t h e c h a n g e s i n p o e t i c s t y l e s .
T h is
a s tu te p u b lis h e r , re c o g n iz in g th e s h i f t in p u b lic t a s t e ,
p r i n t e d h i e c o l l e c t i o n o f o l d p l a y s i n 1744 an d made h i s
7 1 M J d ., I I ( 1 7 8 2 ) , 5 3 - 5 4 .
о O f. S. H. Monk, The S u b lim e : a S tu d y o f C r i t i c a l
T h e o r i e s i n X V I I I - C e n tu r y E n g lan d (New Y ork: Modern Language
A s s o c i a t i o n o f A m eric a, 1 9 3 5 ) , p p . 2 3 6 - 3 7 .
Q
O l i v e r E l t o n , A S u rv e y o f E n g l i s h L i t e r a t u r e , 1 73 0 1780 (New York: The M a c m illa n Company, 1 9 2 8 ) , I I , 38.
31
p o e tic m is c e lla n ie s th e g e n e ra l r e p o s it o r ie s o f p re -ro m a n tic
v erse.
B e c a u se th e y w e re p u b l i s h e d f o r p o p u l a r c o n s u m p tio n ,
t h e s e m i s c e l l a n i e s r e p r e s e n t as w e ll a s a n y th in g c o u ld th e
s ta te o f c u rre n t p o e try .
R. D. H avens h a s shown how t h e y
p r o v e t h e p e r c e p t i b l e s h i f t i n v e r s e fo rm t h a t h a d t a k e n p l a c e
s in c e th e days o f Pope.
B la n k v e r s e , S p e n s e r i a n a n d o c t o н
s y l l a b i c s t a n z a s became much more common, t h e s t a n z a r e н
p l a c i n g t h e c o u p l e t a s t h e m o s t - u s e d fo rm .
The f i r s t im н
p o r t a n t s o n n e t s s i n c e M i l t o n w e re h e r e p u b l i s h e d .
More a t н
t e n t i o n was g i v e n t o t h e o u t - o f - d o o r s , a l t h o u g h n a t u r e d e s н
c r i p t i o n w as n o t v e r y a c c u r a t e n o r v e r y deep i n f e e l i n g .
H aven s c o n c l u d e s t h a t t h e r e i s a m arked s i m i l a r i t y t o t h e
a g e o f P o p e , b u t t h a t t h e new poems w e re i n c l i n e d t o b e
k i n d e r , t a m e r , more t r i v i a l , l e s s o r i g i n a l , a n d m ore " f e m i n i n e . tt
10
H is e x p l a n a t i o n i s t h a t t h e d i s c i p l i n e im po sed b y
t h e n e o c l a s s i o a g e was no l o n g e r p o s s i b l e i n a p e r i o d o f
t r a n s i t i o n an d i n d e c i s i o n .
The p u b l i c was no l o n g e r s a t i s н
f i e d w i t h t h e same o l d m e t e r s , th e m e s , l a n g u a g e , e t c . , b u t
no one h a d y e t fo u n d a s a t i s f a c t o r y s u b s t i t u t e .
We s h o u ld
th e n expect th e p o e try to be in d e c is iv e , t r i v i a l , and in a d e н
q u a te .
I n t h i s s t a t e o f p o e t ic an arch y c o n s tr u c tiv e c r i t i c i s m
R. D. H av en s, "C h an g in g T a s t e i n t h e E i g h t e e n t h
C e n tu r y : a S tu d y o f D ry d e n ? s a n d D o d s le y ? s M i s c e l l a n i e s , M
PMLA. XLIV ( 1 9 2 9 ) , 5 0 1 - 3 6 .
found l i t t l e p l a c e .
The c r i t i c a l c o n t r i b u t i o n t o t h e Romanн
t i c Movement f o l l o w e d t h e p e r i o d o f c r e a t i v e w r i t i n g , a n d ,
lik e i t ,
was p l a n l e s s a n d c o n f u s e d i n i n t e n t .
o f f o f p o e t r y a f t e r 1750 i s n o t s u r p r i s i n g ,
The f a l l i n g
s i n c e t h e wave
o f e m o t i o n a l i s m and s e n t i m e n t a l i s m was c e r t a i n t o a b a t e .
S e n tim e n t an d e m o tio n a r e n o t so much i n e v i d e n c e i n p o e t r y
o f th e 1750*s .
I n t h e i r p l a c e came a h o s t o f s t u d i e s i n
t h e o r y o f a r t , d i s c u s s i n g t h e d e v i a t i o n s t h a t h ad b e e n made
fro m n e o c l a s s i c s t a n d a r d s .
T h e se I n c l u d e su c h w o rk s a s
J o s e p h War t o n ' s E s s a y on P o n e ( 1 7 5 6 - 8 2 ) , Young* s C o n j e c t u r e s
o n O r i g i n a l P o m p o s iti o n ( 1 7 5 9 ) , G e r a l d ? s E ssa y on T a s t e
( 1 7 5 9 ) , D u f f ' s E s s a y on O r i g i n a l G e n iu s ( 1 7 ? ) , B u r k e 's
P h i l o s o p h i c a l I n q u i r y i n t o t h e O r i g i n o f o u r I d e a s on t h e
S u b lim e a n d B e a u t i f u l ( 1 7 5 6 ) , D a n i e l W eb b's I n q u i r i e s i n t o
t h e B e a u t i e s o f P a i n t i n g (1 7 6 0 ) an d h i s 1762 e s s a y on p o e t r y ,
a n d H u r d 's L e t t e r s on C h i v a l r y a n d Romance ( 1 7 6 2 ) .
L o n g in u s '
t r e a t i s e Qn t h e S u b lim e was a c e n t r a l p o i n t o f i n t e r e s t i n
many o f t h e s e s t u d i e s , a n d i t h a s b e e n s a i d t h a t t h e c r i t i н
c is m o f t h e W a rto n s , Young, an d H urd i n t h e l a t e 1 7 5 0 's an d
e a r l y 1 7 6 0 ' s w as " . . .
e s s e n tia lly a re v is io n o f th e neo-
c l a s s i c s y s te m i n te r m s o f o r i g i n a l i t y a n d i m a g i n a t i o n , t h e
two q u a l i t i e s t h a t L o n g in u s h ad s p o n s o r e d fro m h i s f i r s t
a p p e a r a n c e on t h e s c e n e . "
11
11 Monk, o p . c i t . , p . 6 3 .
33
Ho p o s i t i v e o r w e l l ? 0 r g a n i z e d c r i t i c a l f a i t h e v o l v e d fro m
th e se s tu d ie s .
The a e s t h e t i c p r o p o u n d e d by t h e s e t h e o r i s t s
i s o f te n c ru d e and t e n t a t i v e .
S a in tsb u ry has s a id th a t:
About t h e m id d le o f t h e E i g h t e e n t h C e n t u r y , t h e t a b l e s
o f c r i t i c i s m tu r n e d , and . . . a conpany o f c r i t i c s , n o t
l a r g e , n o t a s a r u l e v e r y g r e a t men o f l e t t e r s , b eg a n
s l o w l y , t e n t a t i v e l y , w i t h a g r e a t d e a l o f r a w n e s s , and
b l i n d n e s s , a n d ev en b a c k s l i d i n g , t o g r o p e f o r a c a t h o l i c 12
and f r e e t h e o r y o f l i t e r a t u r e , a n d e s p e c i a l l y o f p o e t r y .
I n c o n t r a s t w i t h t h i s v ie w , S. H. Monk s a y s t h a t t h e t h e o r i e s
an d t a s t e s l a t e n t a n d c o n t r o l l e d i n t h e A u g u sta n Age, b e g a n
i n t h e 1 7 5 0 ? s t o f i n d n . . . p o s i t i v e an d w e l l - o r g a n i z e d ex н
p r e s s i o n , a n d d u r i n g t h e f o l l o w i n g d e c a d e s t h e y assum ed a
v i t a l i t y t h a t c o n t r a s t s w i t h t h e m o rib u n d a n d d e c a d e n t c u l t
o f n e o c l a s s i c a l s t a n d a r d s . W e a r e i n t e r e s t e d h e re o n ly in
t r a c i n g t h e c r i t i c a l r e a c t i o n s o f t h e men who a r e a c o o u n te d
t h e p r e - r o m a n t i c p o e t s , and i n l e a r n i n g o f t h e i r a l l i a n c e t o
t h e new movement i n a r t a n d l i t e r a t u r e .
U n fo rtu n a te ly , as
S a i n t s b u r y s a y s , t h e c r i t i c s a r e n o t v e r y g r e a t men o f l e t н
t e r s ; J . W a rto n , t h e m ost i m p o r t a n t c r i t i c , h a d l i t t l e p o e t i c
a b i l i t y , w h i l e C o l l i n s , p e r h a p s t h e m o st g e n u i n e p o e t , h a s
l e f t a lm o s t n o t h i n g i n t h e way o f c r i t i c i s m .
Two o f t h e p o e t s may b e d i s m i s s e d v e r y b r i e f l y .
>
'
?
i v
C o l-
l i n s was t h e o n l y o n e o f t h e y o u t h f u l e n t h u s i a s t s o f t h e
?
12
G. E. S a i n t s b u r y , A H i s t o r y o f E n g l i s h C r i t i c i s m
(New York: Dodd, Mead, and Company; E d in b u r g h a n d London:
Wm. Blackw ood a n d S o n s, 1 9 1 1 ) , p . 2 4 5 .
^
S. H. Monk, o p . c i t . . p . 1 0 1 .
1 7 4 0 's who h ad no o p p o r t u n i t y t o l e a v e p o s t e r i t y h i s m a tu r e
c r itic a l re fle c tio n .
H is p o e t r y shows h i s r e s p o n s e t o t h e
new s p i r i t o f rom ance i n l i t e r a t u r e .
He an d G ray h a v e b e e n
c a l l e d t h e l e a d e r s o f t h e new movement, an d y e t i t i s t r u e
t h a t when h i s Odes w e re p u b l i s h e d , i n 1 7 4 6 , t h e y f a i l e d comн
p l e t e l y to aro u se i n t e r e s t .
The r o m a n tic is m o f b o t h C o l l i n s
an d G ray i s su p p o s e d t o b e more a k i n t o t h e p a s t t h a n t o t h e
n in e te e n th c e n tu ry .
C o u r th o p e s a i d t h e y w ere " . . .
th e l a s t
two p o e t s o f E n g la n d whose a r t i s c o n s c i o u s l y d i r e c t e d by
th e g e n iu s o f th e C la s s ic a l R e n a is s a n c e ." ^
fro m C o l l i n s * p e n b e s i d e s h i s poem s.
We h a v e l i t t l e
H is t h r e e e x t a n t l e t н
t e r s c o n t a i n no l i t e r a r y c r i t i c i s m , b u t i t h a s b e e n c o n j e c н
t u r e d t h a t he w r o t e an e s s a y i n D o d s l e y 's Museum o f J u l y 4 ,
1747.
I n t h i s e s s a y t h e s u b lim e n a t u r e o f t h e g r e a t e s t p o e t r y
i s e m p h a siz e d ( " T h e r e i s s o m e th in g i n P o e t r y s u p e r n a t u r a l o r
d i v i n e " ) , and M i l t o n i s r a n k e d above Homer and V i r g i l .
The
f a i r y w o r l d o f S p e n s e r i s p r a i s e d , an d t r u e p o e t s a r e s a i d t o
15
t r a n s c e n d n a t u r e , w h i l e v e r s i f i e r s m e r e ly c o p y h e r .
T h e se
i d e a s m ig h t h av e b e l o n g e d t o a l m o s t any o f t h e p r e - r o m a n t i c
w rite rs.
T h e re i s no r e a l c r i t i c i s m i n C o l l i n s * poem s, a l н
th o u g h t h e Ode on t h e P o p u l a r S u p e r s t i t i o n s o f t h e H ig h la n d s
14 W. J . C o u r th o p e , A .H i s t o r y o f E n g l i s h P o e t r y (New
York a n d London: M a c m illa n an d Company, L t d . , 1 8 9 4 - 1 9 1 0 ) ,
V, 399.
^ F . P a g e , "An E s s a y b y C o l l i n s , " Times L i t e r a r y
S u p p lem e n t ( J u l y 1 1 , 1 9 3 5 ) , 4 4 8 .
35
( o . 1749) i n d i c a t e s t h a t he was n o t c o n t e n t w i t h c u r r e n t
l i t e r a r y c o n v e n tio n s.
W r i t t e n i n a lo n g s t a n z a m o deled a f t e r
S p e n s e r , t h e poem e x p l o r e s t h e p o s s i b i l i t i e s o f a more im~
a g i n a t i v e p o e t i c th e m e.
The new s p i r i t i n p o e t r y i s l e s s e v i d e n t i n t h e v e r s e
o f Mark A k e n s id e .
He i s c a l l e d p r e - r o m a n t i c l a r g e l y b e c a u s e
o f t h e t i t l e o f h i s l o n g poem i n b l a n k v e r s e . The P l e a s u r e s
o f t h e I m a g i n a t i o n , a n o t h e r o f t h e many d i s c u s s i o n s w h ich
c o n t r i b u t e d t o t h e g r o w th o f r o m a n ti o t h e o r y .
The c o o l ,
p o i s e d s t y l e o f h i s s h o r t e r poems i s d e f i n i t e l y m odeled on
th e a n c ie n t c l a s s i c a l w r ite r s .
S e e in g p e r f e c t i o n i n t h e
G reek l y r i c , h e d e s i r e d o n l y t o b e " c o r r e c t " i n h i s own; he
a d m ire d a n d i m i t a t e d G r e c i a n s i m p l i c i t y , t h e e a s e o f H o ra c e
IS
and th e re fin e m e n t o f V i r g i l * s G e o rg ie s .
I t i s d o u b tfu l
i f h i s i n t e r e s t i n n a t u r e h a s any c l o s e c o n n e c t i o n w i t h t h e
movement begu n i n T h o m so n 's tim e .
He was i n t e r e s t e d i n t h e
c o n te m p o r a r y " r e v i v a l " o f M i l t o n ' s m in o r p oem s, a n d i n t h e
r e b i r t h o f p a t r io t is m i n E n g lish l i t e r a t u r e , p r o t e s t i n g in
The R e m o n stra n c e o f S h a k e s p e a r e (1 7 4 9 ) a g a i n s t s u b m i s s io n o f
n a t i v e t o F re n c h s t y l e s i n dram a, a n d s t r o n g l y c r i t i c i z i n g
t h e v e r s i f i c a t i o n o f F re n c h p o e t r y :
H er b a r r e n , t r i v i a l , u n h a rm o n io u s p h r a s e ,
Amy L. R eed, The B ack gro un d o f G r a y ' s E le g y : a
S tu d y i n t h e T a s t e f o r M e la n c h o ly P o e t r y . 1 7 0 0 -1 7 5 1 (Hew
Y ork: C olum b ia U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1 9 2 4 ) , p . 2 4 2 .
36
Which f e t t e r s e l o q u e n c e t o s c a n t i e s t b o u n d s,
And maims t h e c a d e n c e o f p o e t i c s o u n d s .
( 1 1 . 6 1 -6 4 )
E n g l i s h n e o c l a s s i c p o e t s w ere n o t y e t c e n s u r e d i n t h i s manн
n e r , b u t h i s d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n w i t h t h e l i t e r a t u r e w h ic h t h e a g e
o f Pope so h i g h l y e s t e e m e d . i n d i c a t e s h i s d i v e r g e n c e fro m n e o c la ssic ism .
W illia m S h e n s to n e (1 7 1 4 -1 7 6 3 )
S h e n s to n e i s p e r h a p s t h e b e s t r e p r e s e n t a t i v e o f t h e
age o f t r a n s i t i o n .
F o llo w in g t h e v o g u e i n i t i a t e d b y Thomн
s o n , h e g a v e h i m s e l f up t o a " l i f e o f n a t u r e . "
o f h i s y e a r s on a s m a ll c o u n t r y e s t a t e ,
He s p e n t m ost
"The L e a so w e s,"
l a r g e l y b e c a u s e he f a n c i e d h i m s e l f a d e v o t e e o f t h e s i m p l e ,
q u ie t l i f e .
H is p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n t h e " b a c k t o n a t u r e " moveн
m ent i s an e x c e l l e n t i l l u s t r a t i o n o f t h e b l e n d i n g o f r o m a n t i c
a n d c l a s s i c a l e l e m e n t s : t h e s im p le l i f e was t o him t h e c l a s н
s i c a l l i f e , b e s t e x e m p l i f i e d by a f a v o r i t e a u t h o r , H o ra c e .
He w orked h a r d t o r e s t r a i n t h e w i l d n e s s o f n a t u r e an d t o
im po se on i t h i s c l a s s i c a l t a s t e s .
E v e ry g r o v e on h i s e s н
t a t e was c a r e f u l l y p l a n n e d a n d e v e r y s tr e a m w e l l c o n t r o l l e d
so a s t o s o o t h e t h e e y e .
V i s i t o r s who w an d e re d o v e r t h e
sm ooth p a t h s o f h i s fe rm e o r n d e w e re a g r e e a b l y s u r p r i s e d by
o rn am e n tal L a tin i n s c r i p t i o n s p la c e d a t a p p r o p r i a t e i n t e r н
v a ls.
The p r e c i s e w o rd in g o f t h e s e i n s c r i p t i o n s c o s t Shenн
s to n e lo n g h o u rs o f d e l i b e r a t i o n .
He was no l o v e r o f t h e
37
?w i l d r o m a n t i c c o u n t r y " t h a t Thomson sp o k e o f : h i s was a
c o n s ta n t b a t t l e f o r th e r e f o r m a tio n o f n a t u r e by " t a s t e . "
And y e t h i s c u l t i v a t i o n o f t h e c l a s s i c d i d n o t s h i e l d him
fro m t h e r i d i c u l e o f London c i r c l e s .
To them i t was s t i l l
l u d i c r o u s t h a t a man s h o u ld p o s e a s a p o e t w h i l e l i v i n g o u t н
s id e th e m e tro p o lis.
H is s u c c e s s f u l , i f h e s i t a n t , d e f i a n c e
o f t h e i r s c o r n was o n e o f t h e f i r s t s t e p s to w a r d t h e d e c e n н
t r a l i z a t i o n o f p o e t s t h a t w as l a t e r c o m p le te d b y t h e r o m a n ti c
w rite rs.
S h e n s t o n e ? s p o e t r y shows much t h e same w a v e r in g .
h as been s a id th a t h is " . . .
It
r a th e r uneasy v a c i l l a t i o n beн
tw ee n t h e town a n d c o u n t r y , b e tw e e n t h e r o l e s o f h e r m i t an d
g e n tle m a n o f f a s h i o n , i s r e f l e c t e d i n t h e u n c e r t a i n t i e s o f
h i s m use. . . .
He l a c k e d t h e y o u t h f u l e n t h u s i a s m an d
c o n f i d e n c e o f t h e W arton b r o t h e r s : h i s S c h o o l m i s t r e s s l a y
u n p u b l i s h e d s e v e r a l y e a r s b e f o r e f r i e n d s p r e v a i l e d upon him
to p r i n t i t .
The s e n t i m e n t a l n o t e i n h i s p o e t r y i s h i s o n ly
c l a i m t o i n c l u s i o n among t h e p r e - r o m a n t i c p o e t s .
B e c a u se o f
h i s n a t i v e r e s e r v e a n d m i d d l e - o f - t h e - r o a d p o s i t i o n , m ost o f
^ S h e n s to n e h a s become t h e o b j e c t o f s e v e r a l r e c e n t
s t u d i e s , jb. g . Mona W i ls o n ? s W illia m S h e n s to n e : a C h a p te r i n
E i g h t e e n t h C e n tu r y T a s t e (B irm ingham : C o r n i s h , 1 9 3 5 ) , A.
H u m p h re y 's W illia m S h e n s to n e : an E i g h t e e n t h C e n tu r y P o r t r a i t
(C a m b rid g e : The U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1 9 2 7 ) , and E. M. P u r k i s ?
W illia m S h e n s to n e . P o e t and L a n d sc a p e G a rd e n e r (W olverham pн
t o n ; W h ite h e a d B r o t h e r s , "11931j )'."
Tim es L i t e r a r y S u p p le m e n t. (D ec. 2 4 , 1 9 3 1 ) , 1 0 3 9 .
38
h i s re m a rk s on p o e t r y w e re made p r i v a t e l y .
We a r e t h e r e f o r e
f o r t u n a t e i n h a v i n g much o f h i s p e r s o n a l c o r r e s p o n d e n c e p r e н
serv ed .
S h e n s to n e to o k g r e a t p a i n s i n co m p o sin g t h e s e l e t н
t e r s ? a f a c t w h ic h i n c r e a s e s t h e i r v a l u e .
He h a d c o n s i d e r н
a b le a b i l i t y i n th e a r t o f ex p re ssin g h is th o u g h ts; h is
E s s a y s on Men and M ann ers a r e r a n k e d a s o n e o f t h e b e s t
ex a m p le s o f p e n s ^ e w r i t i n g i n E n g l i s h l i t e r a t u r e .
For a l l
h i s v a c i l l a t i o n , h e was an i n t e r e s t e d s p e c t a t o r an d r a t h e r
k e e n c r i t i c o f c o n te m p o r a r y l i t e r a t u r e .
He r e a d w i d e l y i n
c u r r e n t l i t e r a t u r e a n d i n t h e new w orks on t h e o r y o f a r t ,
p o e t r y , a r c h i t e c t u r e and l a n d s c a p e g a r d e n i n g .
The g e n e r a l
p r o g r e s s o f ro m an ticism i s r e f l e c t e d i n th e l e t t e r s o f t h i s
m ost c o n s e r v a t i v e o f t h e p r e - r o m a n t i c p o e t s .
A lth o u g h h e had g r e a t r e s p e c t a n d e v e n a n a f f e c t i o n a t e
19
r e g a r d f o r Pope,
S h e n s to n e d i d n o t v a l u e h i g h l y h i s p o e t r y ,
o r any o f t h e n e o c l a s s i c v e r s e .
He p r e s e r v e d a c e r t a i n i n н
d e p e n d e n c e o f t a s t e ju d g m e n t, e s p e c i a l l y i n d i s p u t e s o v e r
20
m a tte rs o f t a s t e . w
I t was on t h i s g r o u n d s t h a t h e c r i t i н
c i z e d The D u n e ia d . w h ic h , h e s a i d ,
M. . . i s ,
d o u b t l e s s , Mr.
He p l a n n e d t o p l a n e a b u s t o f Pope o v e r t h e c h im n e y p i e c e o f h i s f a v o r i t e foom . The L e t t e r s o f W illia m S h e n s t o n e .
e d i t e d b y D avid Mallam ( M i n n e a p o l i s : f h e U n i v e r s i t y o f M in n e s o t a P r e s s ; London: M i l f o r d . . . , 1 9 3 9 ) , p . 1 3 3 .
20 O nce, i n a d i s a g r e e m e n t o v e r t h e p r o p r i e t y o f a
m o t t o , S h e n s to n e s a i d : "The m o tto i s e x q u i s i t e . . . i n my
o p i n i o n , n o t w i t h s t a n d i n g a l l t h a t Pope s a y s . " I b i d . , p . 1 2 .
)
P o p e 's d o t a g e . . .
f l a t i n t h e w h o le , an d i n c l u d i n g , w i t h
s e v e r a l t o l e r a b l e l i n e s , a number o f w eak, o b s c u r e , an d ev en
p u n n in g o n e s . " ^
T h a t he c o r d i a l l y d i s l i k e d t h e n e o c l a s s i e
c o t e r i e i n L ondon, i s shown b y h i s r e m a r k s a b o u t t h e p u b l i н
c a t i o n o f The S c h o o l m i s t r e s s .
R e a l i z i n g t h a t h i s poem w o uld
b e s u b j e c t t o r i d i c u l e , he d e f e n d e d i t on t h e g r o u n d s o f
ta ste :
"If i t
s t r i k e s a n y , i t m u st b e m e re ly p e o p l e o f t a s t e :
f o r p e o p l e o f w it w i t h o u t t a s t e ,
(w h ic h com p reh end s t h e
l a r g e r p a r t o f t h e c r i t i c a l t r i b e ) w i l l u n a v o i d a b ly d e s p i s e
i t . "23
H e r e , i t se em s, i s one o f t h e f i r s t ex a m p le s o f a
c o n s c i o u s c o n f l i c t b e tw e e n t h e f o r c e s o f t h e o l d a n d t h e new.
S h e n s to n e knew h i s poem w ou ld b e r i d i c u l e d by t h e London
c r i t i c s , b u t h e was s u r e i t was a l e g i t i m a t e k i n d o f p o e t r y ,
and p e r s i s t e d in p r i n t i n g i t .
a refo rm er.
T h i s i s n o te w o r th y i n so t i m i d
E ls e w h e r e h e made t h e re m a rk :
Let us c o n s id e r P a rn a ssu s s r a t h e r as a r e p u b lic th a n
a s a m o n a rc h y . . . . I n sm o o th n e ss o f v e r s e p e r h a p s he
[P o p e ] h a s b e e n e q u a l l e d ; i n r e g a r d t o i n v e n t i o n , ex н
c e l l e d . . . ? Mr. Pope i s much m ore w i t t y , an d l e s s
s i m p l e , t h a n h i s own H o ra c e a p p e a r s i n any o f h i s w r i t н
in g s.
Had t h i s l a t t e r o b s e r v a t i o n b e e n made b y a n e & c l a s s i c i s t , i t
w o u ld h a v e b e e n m eant a s p r a i s e ; com ing from S h e n s to n e , i t
cen su re.
He c a l l e d P ope t h e m ost c o r r e c t w r i t e r s i n c e V i r -
I b i d . , p . 36.
22 I b i d . . p . 38.
^ E lto n , on. c i t . . p . 16.
is
40
g i l , b u t o n l y s i n c e D ryden t h e g r e a t e s t g e n i u s . 34 j n h i s
E s s a v on Men an d M anners h e d i s t i n g u i s h e d b e tw e e n men o f
u n d e r s t a n d i n g an d men o f g e n i u s ;
By p e r s o n s o f u n d e r s t a n d i n g , I mean p e r s o n s o f sound
ju d g m e n t; fo rm ed f o r m a t h e m a t i c a l d e d u c t i o n s a n d c l e a r
a r g u m e n t a t i o n . By p e r s o n s o f g e n i u s I w o u ld c h a r a c t e r i z e
t h o s e i n whom t r u e and g e n u i n e f a n c y p r e d o m i n a t e ; an d
t h i s w h e th e r a s s i s t e d o r n o t by c u l t i v a t i o n . 35
T h i s d i s t i n c t i o n h a d b e e n made f r e q u e n t l y s i n c e t h e w r i t i n g s
o f H o bb es, who s a i d t h a t b o t h " f a n c y " and "ju d g m e n t" w ere
n e c e ssa ry to p o e try .
I t r e m a in e d f o r S h e n s to n e t o sa y t h a t
" ju d g m e n t" o r r e a s o n h ad b e e n to o much r e g a r d e d i n n e o c l a s s i c
verse.
S h e n s t o n e ? s r e m a r k s a b o u t S p e n s e r b e t r a y t h e lukew arm
q u a l i t y o f h i s ro m a n tic ism .
At f i r s t he d e r i v e d no s p e c i a l
p l e a s u r e from t h e F a e r i e Q u ee n e, b u t P o p e ? s b u r l e s q u e , The
A l l e y , p u t t h e poem i n a l u d i c r o u s and p l e a s i n g l i g h t .
From
t h i s l a u g h i n g and t r i f l i n g h e a d m i t t e d h e h ad come t o l o v e
pg
S p e n s e r . 00
I n c o n t r a s t w i t h m o st A u g u s ta n s , h e d i s l i k e d t h e
m o r a l s u b j e c t o f t h e F a e r i e Q ueene. b u t h i s d i s a p p r o v a l o f
?7
t h e p l a n 0 ' was more c o n v e n t i o n a l .
He s a i d t h a t e m o tio n , so
34 A. B o s k e r , L i t e r a r y C r i t i c i s m i n t h e Age o f J o h n so n ( G r o n in g e n : J . B. W o l f e r s , 1 9 3 0 ) , p p . 1 5 6 -5 7 .
25 The Works i n V e r s e an d P r o s e o f W illia m S h e n s t o n e .
E s q . (L ondon: P r i n t e d by H. W o o d fa ll . . . , 1 7 6 8 ) , T h i r d
e d i t i o n , I I , 267.
pg
The L e t t e r s o f W illia m S h e n s t o n e . p . 4 2 .
Loc. c i t .
d e s i r a b l e i n p o e t r y , i s M. . . b u t s l e n d e r l y a f f e c t e d b y
f a b l e s , a l l e g o r i e s , a n d l i e s . " 29
P re s u m a b le t h i n k i n g o f
S p e n s e r 's l u x u r i o u s n e s s o f d e s c r i p t i o n an d " G o th ic " e x c e s s ,
h e s a i d , " T h e r e axe many f a v o r i t e p a s s a g e s i n t h e F a e r i e
Queene w h ic h w i l l b e i n s t a n c e s o f a g r e a t an d c u l t i v a t e d
29
G e n iu s m i s a p p l i e d . "
H is m ost n o t a b l e re m a rk on S p e n s e r ,
h o w e v e r, i s t h e f r e q u e n t p r a i s e o f " s i m p l i c i t y . "
" s im p lic ity ,"
T h is
so c a r e f u l l y c u l t i v a t e d i n h i s own S c h o o lн
m i s t r e s s an d i n h i s e l e g i e s , was n o t t h e c l a s s i c s i m p l i c i t y
o f d e s i g n , b u t r a t h e r a h u m b le n e ss o f s u b j e c t a n d s t y l e ,
w h ic h a l l o w e d f o r t h e i n c l u s i o n o f s e n t i m e n t .
I t was t h e
q u a l i t y o f s i m p l i c i t y t h a t l a t e r a t t r a c t e d S h e n s to n e t o
b a lla d p o e try .
I t w as he who f i r s t s u g g e s t e d , an d who e n н
c o u r a g e d P e r c y ' s p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h e R e l i a u e s o f A n c ie n t
P o e tr y , f o r he w ro te to P ercy t h a t " . . . t h e r e i s n o th in g
g i v e s me g r e a t e r P l e a s u r e t h a n t h e s i m p l i c i t y o f s t y l e &
s e n t i m e n t t h a t i s o b s e r v a b l e i n o l d E n g l i s h b a l l a d s . " 30
He a d m ire d t h e n a i v e t e o f t h e b a l l a d s , a n d t h e " .
. . su b lim e ,
o r e l e g a n t . o r t e n d e r S e n t i m e n t s e x p r e s s e d i n a s im p le & u n н
a f f e c t e d m a n n e r ," t h a t i s ,
i n " s e n t i m e n t a l l a n g u a g e . " 3^
B o s k e r , o p . p i t . . p . 158.
29 I b i d . . p . 1 5 7 .
?zn
The L e t t e r s o f W illia m S h e n s to n e . p . 345.
31 I b i d . . p . 436.
The
42
i n c l u s i o n o f t h e w ord ? e l e g a n t ? "b e tra y s S h e n s t o n e 1s c o n c e r n
w i t h ? t a s t e ? ; h i s ? s i m p l i c i t y ? was n o t y e t t h e W o rd sw o rth ia n
k in d .
S h e n s to n e was w e l l aw a re t h a t f a s h i o n a b l e London c i r н
c l e s w o u ld r i d i c u l e h i s b e l o v e d s i m p l i c i t y .
In w ritin g to a
f r i e n d a b o u t a dram a t o b e b a s e d on t h e s t o r y o f an o l d
b a l l a d , h e e x p r e s s e d t h e b e l i e f t h a t i t w ould b e t o o s im p le
f o r t h e London a u d i e n c e s , a d d i n g , h o w e v e r, t h a t ? . . .
as fa r
a s r e l a t e s t o my own t a s t e , I t h i n k . . . i t c o u l d n o t b e
32
p r e s e r v e d to o s i m p l e . ?
He th o u g h t P e r c y ' s c o l l e c t i o n w ou ld
m eet w i t h g e n e r a l a p p r o v a l :
T h e re i s no room t h a t I c a n s e e , t o q u e s t i o n ye
r e c e p t i o n y t y o u r Work i s l i k e t o m eet w i t h
I f I have
any t a l e n t a t C o n j e c t u r e , A ll P e o p l e o f T a s t e , t h r o ?o u t
t h e Kingdom, w i l l r e j o i c e t o s e e a j u d i c i o u s , a c o r r e c t
& e l e g a n t c o l l e c t i o n o f su c h P i e c e s ?F o r a f t e r a l l , ? t i s
su c h P i e c e s , t h a t c o n t a i n y e t r u e C h e m ic al S p i r i t o r
E s s e n c e o f P o e t r y : a L i t t l e o f w h ic h p r o p e r l y m in g le d i s
s u f f i c i e n t t o s t r e n g t h e n & keep a l i v e v e r y c o n s i d e r a b l e
Q u a n t i t i e s o f th e k in d ?T is ye v o ic e o f S e n tim e n t, r a t h e r
yn t h e L anguage o f R e f l e x i o n ; a d a p t e d p e c u l i a r l y t o
s t r i k e ye P a s s i o n s , w h ic h i s t h e o n l y M e r i t o f P o e t r y
t h a t h a s o b t a i n e d my r e g a r d o f l a t e . 33
T h i s i s t h e e x tre m e d e v e lo p m e n t o f h i s e a r l y l i k i n g f o r
s e n tim e n t: he r e q u ir e d o f p o e tr y o n ly t h a t i t a f f e c t th e
e m o tio n s .
H ere i s s u r e l y a n i m p o r t a n t d i v e r g e n c e fro m n e o -
c l a s s i c s t a n d a r d s , and a c o n s c i o u s n e s s o f c h o i c e n o t o f t e n
32 I b i d . . p p . 4 0 2 - 3 .
33 I b i d . . p p . 4 0 1 - 2 .
43
fo u n d i n t h e p r e - r o m a n t i c p o e t s .
T h e s e c o n v i c t i o n s w e re s t r e n g t h e n e d b y t h e a p p e a r a n c e
o f M a c p h e r s o n 's poem s.
I n 1760 when t h e F ra g m e n ts o f A n c ie n t
P o e t r y f i r s t w ere p u b l i s h e d , S h e n s to n e m e n tio n e d a " n o b le
s p e c im e n o f S c o tc h p o e t r y t r a n s l a t e d from t h e E r s e l a n g u a g e , 11
and t o l d a f r i e n d t h a t " . . .
you m ust i n s t a n t l y p r o c u r e ye
a n c i e n t F ra g m e n ts o f S c o tc h P o e t r y . A g a i n
he w r o t e :
"as
t o t h e E r s e f r a g m e n t s , you ju d g e d v e r y r i g h t l y , t h a t a m id s t
t h e a p p l a u s e t h e y w e r e s u r e o f r e c e i v i n g from t h e w o r l d , t h e y
w o uld n o t f a i l t o a f f o r d me a v e r y p e c u l i a r s a t i s f a c t i o n . " ░
He a s k e d t o h a v e h i s name s u b s c r i b e d f o r F i n g a l i n 1761 an d
d e s c r i b e d t h e work e n t h u s i a s t i c a l l y .
The t e r m s i n w h ich
M a cp h erso n i s p r a i s e d show a c r i t i c a l r e d o g n i t i o n o f t h e
change in l i t e r a t u r e :
The t a s t e o f t h e a g e , so f a r a s r e g a r d s p l a n and
s t y l e , seem s t o h a v e b e e n c a r r i e d t o i t s u tm o s t h e i g h t ,
a s may a p p e a r i n t h e w o rk s o f A k e n s id e , G r a y 's Odes an d
C h u r c h - y a r d V e r s e s , an d M a s o n 's Monody a n d E l f r i d a .
The
p u b l i c h a s s e e n a l l t h a t a r t c a n d o , a n d t h e y w ant t h e
more s t r i k i n g e f f e c t s o f w i l d , o r i g i n a l , e n t h u s i a s t i c
g e n i u s . I t seem s t o e x c la i m a l o u d w i t h t h e c h o r u s i n
J u l i u s O aesar,
0 r a t h e r t h a n b e s l a v e s t o t h e s e d eep l e a r n e d men,
G ive u s o u r w i l d n e s s a n d o u r woods,* o u r h u t s and
caves ag a in i
I know n o t how. f a r you w i l l a l l o w t h e d e s t i n c t i o n . o r t h e
p r i n c i p l e on w h ic h I b u i l d my r e m a r k , n a m e ly , t h a t t h e
34 I b i d . . p p . 3 9 6 -9 8
35 I b i d . . p . 4 2 3 .
44
t a s t e o f t h e p r e s e n t a g e i s somewhat h i g h e r t h a n i t s
g e n iu s * T h i s t u r n , you s e e , f a v o u r s t h e work t h e
t r a n s l a t o r s h a s t o p u b l i s h * . . . H ere i s i n d e e d p u r e
o r i g i n a l g e n i u s .? The v e r y q u i n t e s s e n c e o f p o e t r y ; a
few d r o p s o f w h ich p r o p e r l y m anaged, a r e enough t o g i v e
a fla v o u r to q u a r t- b o ttl e s .
And y e t one o r two p i e c e s
? . . a r e u n d o u b te d ly a s w e l l p l a n n e d a s any o d e we f i n d
i n H o r a c e . 36
H ere i s r e c o g n i t i o n o f t h e c l a s s i c i s m i n A k e n s id e , G ra y , an d
Mason?p o e t s who a r e o r d i n a r i l y c a l l e d " p r e - r o m a n t i c . "
He
saw t h e i r e s s e n t i a l c o n s e r v a t i s m , and j o i n e d i n t h e p u b l i c
cry fo r " o rig in a lity ."
T h i s was i n t h e f i n a l y e a r s o f h i s
l i f e , when t h e O s s i a n i c poem s h a d f u r n i s h e d an ex am ple o f
"w ild , o r i g i n a l , e n t h u s ia s tic g e n iu s ."
S h e n s to n e was among t h o s e who w ere a f f e o t e d by t h e
f a s h i o n f o r m e la n c h o ly i n t h e 1 7 4 0 ? s .
He r e s p o n d e d , c h a r a c н
t e r i s t i c a l l y en o u g h , by w r i t i n g e l e g i e s ? a form w h e r e in h i s
t a s t e f o r s e n t i m e n t c o u l d b e f u l l y d e v e lo p e d .
H is e l e g i e s
a r e o f t h e " f e m i n in e " o r d e r , n o t so m e d i t a t i v e a s G r a y ? s ,
b u t more a f t e r t h e s t y l e o f W illia m Hammond? s e l e g a n t examн
p le s.
S h e n s to n e was i n c l i n e d t o d i s t r u s t h i s own d i s p o s i t i o n
f o r m e la n c h o ly , s l i g h t th o u g h i t w a s .
At f i r s t h e h e l d a low
o p i n i o n o f e l e g i a c v e r s e , 3,7 an d was w ary o f t h e c h a rm s o f
t h a t t r a d i t i o n a l r o m a n t i c s e a s o n , Autumn, b e c a u s e o f t h e
. . . p l e a s i n g m e la n c h o ly w c h ? s u i t s my Temper to o w e l l
. . . an d a s i t r e m in d s o ne o f p a s t - P l e a s u r e f o r y t
36 I b i d . . p . 423
37 I b i d . . p . 106
45
r e a s o n , & a l s o o f a p p r o a c h in g P a i n , I t seems t o c e n t r e
i n i t s e l f r a t h e r t o o much i n y e d o u c e M e l a n c h o l i e ; a
l i t t l e w h e r o f i s y e m o st r e f i n ' d P l e a s u r e we know. . . .
He r e m a rk e d t h a t h e l i k e d G r a y ? s E le g y ? to o w e l l . " 39
The
?r e f i n ?d P l e a s u r e " i n s a d n e s s was s o m e th in g o f a com pensaн
t i o n h o w ev e r, f o r ,
?c e r t a i n i t i s , t h a t M e la n c h o ly h a s &
e v e r h ad i t s Charm f o r P e r s o n s o f ye f i n e s t t a s t e .
p e a re o b serv es i t . " ^ 9
S h a k e sн
Thus oame r e a s s u r a n c e t h a t " t a s t e "
a n d m e la n c h o ly c o u l d b e r e c o n c i l e d .
A n o th e r s a n c t i o n o f e l e g y i s i t s e n c o u ra g e m e n t o f
v irtu e :
The m ost i n p o r t a n t end o f a l l p o e t r y i s t o e n c o u r a g e
v i r t u e . . . . T here i s a t r u l y v i r t u o u s p l e a s u r e conн
n e c t e d w i t h many p e n s i v e c o n t e m p l a t i o n s , w h ic h i t i s
t h e p r o v i n c e and e x c e l l e n c y o f e l e g y t o e n f o r c e . T h i s ,
b y p r e s e n t i n g s u i t a b l e i d e a s , h a s d i s c o v e r e d s w e e ts i n
m e la n c h o ly w h ic h we c o u l d n o t f i n d i n m i r t h . *1
He s a i d t h a t e l e g y a l s o shows t h e in n o c e n c e a n d s i m p l i c i t y
o f r u r a l l i f e to a d v a n ta g e .
S h e n s to n e r e c o g n i z e d t h e p a r t
o f M i l t o n i n t h e e s t a b l i s h m e n t o f t h e f a s h i o n i n m e la n c h o ly
p o e try :
. . . I c a n n o t h e l p r e m a r k in g t h a t M i l t o n ' s I I P e n s e r o s o
h a s d r o v e h a l f o u r P o e t s c r a z y . I t h a s ho w ev er p r o d u c ?d
38 I b i d . . p . 1 2 9 .
39 I b i d . , p . 2 7 5 .
40 I b i d . . p . 1 66 .
? A P r e f a t o r y E s s a y on ELEGY," The Works o f W illia m
S h e n s to n e . I , 1 8 - 1 9 .
46
some a d m i r a b l e o d e s t o F a n c y , am ongst which, t h a t o f
W arton . . . X t h i n k d e s e r v e s t h e p r e f e r e n c e . 42
He was f u l l y aw are o f t h e c o n te m p o r a r y f a s h i o n f o r m e la n c h o ly ,
b u t n e i t h e r w h o lly condemns n o r p r a i s e s t h e c o n s e q u e n c e s i n
v erse.
S h e n s to n e a l s o to o k an a c t i v e i n t e r e s t i n t h e r e v i v a l
o f G o th ic a r t .
He p r o f e s s e d s e e i n g ?g r e a t r o m a n t i c b e a u t y ?
43
i n o l d D u dley c a s t l e ,
an d i n . 1749 r e a d a book t r y i n g t o
e s t a b l i s h t h e p l a c e o f G o th ic a r c h i t e c t u r e .
H is r e a c t i o n
w as: " I s h a l l n e v e r , I b e l i e v e , b e e n t i r e l y p a r t i a l t o G o th s
44
o r V a n d a ls e i t h e r . "
He d i d , h o w e v e r, b u i l d a s m a ll G o th ic
s t r u c t u r e on h i s e s t a t e . . I t was a g a i n t h e q u a l i t y o f " s im н
p l i c i t y " w h ic h h e fo u n d i n t e r e s t i n g i n G o th ic a r t ? t h e same
q u a l i t y t h a t h e a d m ire d i n S p e n s e r an d o l d b a l l a d s .
A. 0 .
L o v e jo y h a s sp o k en o f t h e c u r i o u s a l l i a n c e o f G o th ic is m a n d
s im p lic ity or " n a tu ra lis m ."
T h e re w ere two k i n d s o f " n a t u н
r a l i s m " ? t h e w i l d , s p o n t a n e o u s , and i r r e g u l a r ( J o s e p h W a rto n 1s
k i n d ) , and t h e n a i v e , s i m p l e , an d u n s o p h i s t i c a t e d ( S h e n s t o n e ? s
k in d ).
th e o ry .
The l a t t e r c o n c e p t i o n w as p a ra m o u n t i n r e a l c l a s s i c a l
To p r a i s e G o th ic o r m e d ie v a l a r t f o r q u a l i t i e s o f
c l a s s i c s i m p l i c i t y was an u n u s u a l p r o c e d u r e , an d d i d n o t t a k e
4 ^ The L e t t e r s o f W illia m S h e n s to n e . p . 318.
43 i b i d . , p . 5 6 ,
44 I b i d . . p . 153.
47
p l a c e i n F ra n c e *
4л5
S h e n s t o n e 's i n t e r e s t i n G o th ic a r t w ent
h a n d i n h a n d w i t h t h e i n c r e a s e d r e s p e c t f o r E n g l i s h la n g u a g e
an d l i t e r a t u r e .
I n y o u th h e h ad b e e n a c c u s to m e d t o w r i t e
h i s i n s c r i p t i o n s i n L a t i n , b u t i n 1750 h e s o u g h t a s a m o tto
f o r h i s G o th ic b u i l d i n g " .
V erse;
. . a S t a n z a o r two o f o l d E n g l i s h
. . . w h ic h I w o u 'd c a u s e t o b e i n s c r i b ' d i n o l d
E n g lish L e t t e r s ."
He a d d e d , " I b e g i n t o p r e f e r E n g l i s h
46
M o tto e s i n g e n e r a l . "
S h e n s to n e seem s n o t t o h a v e f e l t an y g r e a t sym pathy
w ith c u r r e n t p re -ro m a n tic v e r s e .
A l l a n Ramsay h e r a n k e d
w i t h t h o s e p o e t s whose t a s t e e x c e e d s t h e i r g e n i u s :
"Good
s e n s e e x p r e s s e d n a t u r a l l y . . . seems t h e t a l e n t o f Ramsay,
w hose t a s t e i n c o m p o s i t i o n was p e r h a p s m ore r e m a r k a b le t h a n
47
h is g e n iu s ."
I n 1 7 4 2 , when Y o u n g 's C o m p la in t came o u t , h e
c a lle d i t th e " . . .
b e s t t h i n g t h a t h a s come o u t t h i s s e a s o n
( t h e s e tw e n t y y e a r s . Pope s a y s ) e x c e p t m in e . * . . " 48
" lo n g - w in d e d n e s s " so o n w e a r i e d him , h o w e v e r .49
Y o u n g 's
He p r a i s e d
T h o m so n 's C a s t l e o f I n d o l e n c e , a l t h o u g h n o t s p e c i f i c a l l y f o r
AC
A, 0 . L o v e io y , "On t h e D i s c r i m i n a t i o n o f R o m an tiн
c i s m s , " PMLA, XXXIX ( 1 9 2 4 ) , 2 4 1 - 4 2 .
46
The L e t t e r s o f W illia m S h e n s to n e . p . 159.
47 I b i d . . p p . 4 2 3 - 2 4 .
48 I b i d . . p . 4 4 .
49 I b i d . . p . 6 6 .
48
ro m a n tic q u a l i t i e s ,
and s a i d a lm o s t n o t h i n g a b o u t t h e S e a s o n s
or o th e r n a tu re -p o e try .
T h e r e w as l i t t l e o r no n o t i c e o f t h e
W a rto n s o r o f C o l l i n s , a n d h e saw i n A k e n s id e , t r u l y e n o u g h ,
th e p e rfe c tio n o f c la s s ic ta s te .
S h e n s to n e was one o f t h e few r e a l l y p u r p o s e f u l r e f o r m CQ
ers of v e rsific a tio n .
H is u s e o f t h e S p e n s e r i a n s t a n z a
w as o n l y c o n v e n t i o n a l , b u t h i s P r e f a t o r y E ssa y on E le g y was a
c l e a r arg u m e n t f o r t h e e s t a b l i s h m e n t o f t h e q u a t r a i n a s
e le g ia c m e te r.
I n h i s o a u t i o u s arg u m e n t f o r ia m b ic m e te r
w i t h a l t e r n a t e r i m e , he s a y s , a m u s in g ly enough t o u s , " I t i s
n o t i m p o s s i b l e t h a t some may t h i n k t h i s m e tr e t o o l a x a n d
p r o s a i c . " 5-*-
H i s r e a s o n s f o r b r e a k i n g w i t h t h e P o p ean c o u p l e t
a re th e se :
T h e r e i s no o n e k i n d o f m e t r e t h a t i s d i s t i n g u i s h e d
b y r h i m e s , b u t i s l i a b l e t o some o b j e c t i o n o r o t h e r .
H e r o ic v e r s e , w h ere e v e r y se c o n d l i n e i s t e r m i n a t e d by
a r h im e , ( w i t h w h ich t h e ju d g m e n t r e q u i r e s t h a t t h e
s e n s e s h o u l d i n some m e a s u r e a l s o t e r m i n a t e ) i s a p t t o
re n d e r th e e x p re ssio n e i t h e r sc a n ty o r c o n s tra in e d .
And t h i s i s so m e tim es o b s e r v a b l e i n t h e w r i t i n g s o f a
p o e t l a t e l y d e o e a s e d ; th o u g h I b e l i e v e no on e e v e r th r e w
so much s e n s e t o g e t h e r w i t h so much e a s e i n t o a c o u p l e t
a s Mr. POPE. B ut a s an a i r o f c o n s t r a i n t t o o o f t e n
a c c o m p a n ie s t h i s m e t r e , i t seem s b y no means p r o p e r f o r
a w r i t e r o f e l e g y . 52
I n o t h e r w o r d s , S h e n s to n e h a s fo u n d i t n e c e s s a r y t o s e e k a
50
S a i n t s b u r y s a i d h e showed t h e new s p i r i t i n h i s
p rosody.
( H i s t o r y o f E n g l i s h C r i t i c i s m , p . 2 5 7 .)
51
The Works o f W illia m S h e n s t o n e . I , 2 1 .
52 I b i d . , p p . 2 1 - 2 2 .
49
d i f f e r e n t m e t e r b e c a u s e he h a s fo u n d a d i f f e r e n t k i n d o f
p o e try .
The " c o n s t r a i n t " o f t h e h e r o i c c o u p l e t i s n o t s u i t н
a b l e i n a poem w h ere s e n t i m e n t p r e d o m i n a t e s .
O n e 's r e s p e c t f o r S h e n s to n e i s i n c r e a s e d b y a r e a d i n g
o f h i s l e t t e r s and p r o s e .
I n l a b e l i n g him a " t r a n s i t i o n
f i g u r e " i t i s c u s to m a r y t o e m p h a siz e t h e i n c o n s i s t e n c i e s o f
h i s l i k e s and d i s l i k e s ; he i s r e p r e s e n te d a s a b e w ild e re d
p u p p e t m o t i v a t e d by t h e o p p o s in g s t r i n g s o f n e o c l a s s i c i s m
and ro m a n tic is m .
T h i s i s t o i g n o r e h i s own p e r s o n a l i t y ,
in d e p e n d e n t o f l i t e r a r y "m ov em en ts," h i s k ee n ju d g m en t o f
c o n te m p o r a r y l i t e r a t u r e , a n d h i s p e r s i s t e n c e i n p e r s o n a l
l ik in g s , r e g a r d le s s o f c o n s id e ra tio n s o f n e o c la ssic ism o r
ro m a n tic ism .
H i s in d e p e n d e n c e i n t h i s r e s p e c t was n o t o f t e n
e q u a l l e d by o t h e r p r e - r o m a n t i c p o e t s w hose w r i t i n g s w ere
much more i m p o r t a n t i n t h e r i s e o f r o m a n t i c i s m .
Edward Young
Young d i d n o t b e l o n g t o t h e y o u n g e r g e n e r a t i o n o f
p re -ro m a n tic p o e ts .
Born i n 1 6 8 3 , f i v e y e a r s b e f o r e P o p e ,
h e l i v e d on u n t i l 17 6 5 , when t h e new movement i n l i t e r a t u r e
was w e l l u n d e r way.
o v e r two e r a s .
H is l i f e a n d w r i t i n g s w ere t h u s s p r e a d
N o th in g h e w r o te i n h i s e a r l y y e a r s h a s b e e n
c a l l e d " r o m a n t i c , " and h e i s i n c l u d e d among t h e p r e - r o m a n t i c
p o e t s o n ly f o r h i s C o m p l a i n t , o r N ig h t T h o u g h ts on L i f e ,
D e a th . a n d I m m o r t a l i t y ( 1 7 4 2 - 4 4 ) ? a c o n t r i b u t i o n t o t h e
50
"g rav ey ard " p o e try o f th e day.
T h i s e x h a u s t i n g w ork co m b in e s
g o o d o r th o d o x m o r a l i t y w i t h t h e r o m a n t i c n o t e s o f m e la n c h o ly
a n d e m o tio n a l s e n s i b i l i t y .
I t becam e p o p u l a r im m e d ia te ly *
a n d h ad w hat E l t o n c a l l s a c o n s i d e r a b l e " d i s p l a c e m e n t ? i n
lite ra tu re .
Young f o l l o w e d a c u r r e n t f a s h i o n i n u s i n g b l a n k
v e r s e i n h i s poem, a n d i f h e h a d d i e d i n 1745 h i s name w o u ld
m e r e ly b e a d d e d t o t h e l i s t o f t h o s e i n f l u e n c e d b y Thomson? s
Seasons.
B ut a b o u t f i f t e e n y e a r s l a t e r h e w r o t e a p a m p h l e t ,
C o n j e c t u r e s on O r i g i n a l C o m p o s itio n ( 1 7 5 9 ) , w h ich h a s b e e n
c i t e d a s m a rk in g an e p o c h i n t h e e v o l u t i o n o f E n g l i s h rom anн
t i c th e o ry .
T h i s p a m p h le t c o n t a i n s Y oung? s f i n a l v ie w s a b o u t
p o e try .
The e s s a y i s n o m i n a l l y j u s t a n o t h e r o f t h e many d i s н
c u s s i o n s i n t h e q u a r r e l o f t h e a n c i e n t s and m o d e rn s.
T here
w as n o t h i n g new i n Young' s c h a m p io n s h ip o f o r i g i n a l g e n i u s
a s o p p o s e d t o t h e c l a s s i c t h e o r y o f i m i t a t i o n , f o r h e m e r e ly
g i v e s a c l e a r an d f o r c e f u l s t a t e m e n t o f i d e a s w hioh t h e 1750
c r i t i c s h a d d e v e lo p e d .
Most s i g n i f i c a n t i s t h e d e f i n i t e ,
a lm o s t h o s t i l e s t a n d t h a t i s t a k e n a g a i n s t p r i z e d n e o c l a s s i c
t e n e t s a n d e s p e c i a l l y a g a i n s t P o p e ? s own w r i t i n g s .
The
c r i t i c i s m o f P o p e , o b v i o u s l y a f t e r t h e exam ple o f J o s e p h
W a r t o n 's E s s a y on P o pe (1 7 5 6 ) i s more p o s i t i v e t h a n W a rto n ? s .
Young s t a t e d t h a t i n h i s s l a v i s h i m i t a t i o n o f t h e
a n c i e n t s P ope h ad m is s e d h i s c h a n c e t o become a g r e a t p o e t .
He c h o s e t o tr iu m p h i n t h e o l d w o r l d r a t h e r t h a n lo o k f o r a
51
new, a n d , s a i d Young, "T ru e p o e s y , l i k e t r u e r e l i g i o n , a b h o r s
id o la try ."
"Though P o p e 's Muse may b o a s t h e r i l l u s t r i o u s
d e s c e n t from Homer, V i r g i l , H o ra c e , y e t i s an o r i g i n a l a u t h o r
54
m ore n o b ly b o r n . "
T h is c r i t i c i s m i s a l s o a p p l i e d t o J o n s o n , who was c o n t r a s t e d w i t h S h a k e s p e a r e i n t h e m a t t e r o f
o r i g i n a l g e n i u s b y Young and a l l n e o c l a s s i c c r i t i c s .
o b s e rv a tio n s t h a t Jonson " . . .
Y o u n g 's
was v e r y l e a r n e d , a s Samson
w as v e r y s t r o n g , t o h i s own h u r t , "
EC
an d t h a t D ryden h a d n o t
s u f f i c i e n t w arm th f o r d r a m a t i c w r i t i n g , 56 w o u ld n o t have
b e e n so r e a d i l y g r a n t e d i n t h e age o f P o p e .
H is m ost i m p o r t a n t a t t a c k on n e o c l a s s i c i s m was d i r e c t e d
a g a in s t th e h e ro ic c o u p le t.
Young e s p e c i a l l y d e p l o r e d P o p e 's
t r a n s l a t i o n o f Homer, w h ic h , h e s a y s ,
" . . .
from t h e o r i g i n a l , a s t h e moon from t h e s u n . "
d i f f e r s a s much
" Whit a f a l l
i t i s from H o m e r's n u m b e rs, f r e e a s a i r , l o f t y an d h a rm o n io u s
a s t h e s p h e r e s , i n t o c h i l d i s h s h a c k l e s , and t i n k l i n g s o u n d s .
. . . Had M i l t o n n e v e r w r o t e , Pope h a d b e e n l e s s t o b la m e ,"
b u t w i t h t h i s n o b l e e x a m p le , " .
. ? it
i s l e s s p a rd o n a b le ,
^ " C o n j e c t u r e s on O r i g i n a l C o m p o s itio n . .
re p rin te d
b y E. D.. J o n e s ( e d i t o r ) , E n g l i s h C r i t i c a l E s s a y s . ( S i x t e e n t h ,
S e v e n t e e n t h , a n d E i g h t e e n t h C e n t u r i e s ) (Cacford: H. M i l f o r d ,
1 9 2 0 ) , p . 343.
54 I b i d . , p . 3 44 .
55 I b i d . . p . 349.
56 ib id L ., p . 3 51 .
52
by th a t e ffe m in a te d e c o ra tio n [rim e ], to p u t A c h ille s in
p e t t i c o a t s a se c o n d t i m e . ? 57
Young p r a i s e d b l a n k v e r s e f o r
i t s ?v a r i o u s m o d u l a t i o n s o f m a s c u l i n e m elody,*? an d s a i d ,
Harmony a s w e l l a s e l o q u e n c e i s e s s e n t i a l t o p o e s y ;
an d a m u rd e r o f h i s m u sic i s p u t t i n g h a l f Homer t o d e a t h
? ? ? w hat we mean by b l a n k b e r s e , i s , v e r s e u n f a l i e n ,
u n e u rs t; v e rse re c la im e d , r e in th ro n e d in th e t r u e la n н
g u a g e o f t h e g o d s ; who n e v e r t h u n d e r e d n o r s u f f e r e d t h e i r
Homer t o t h u n d e r , i n rh y m e .5 о
T h is f o r t h r i g h t , e lo q u e n t d e fe n se o f b la n k v e r s e s e rv e s to
i l l u s t r a t e t h e s h i f t o f l i t e r a r y f a s h i o n s t h a t G o ld s m ith
r e f e r r e d t o i n 1 7 6 5 , when h e i r o n i c a l l y r e m a rk e d , "What
r e c e p t i o n a poem may f i n d w h ich h a s n e i t h e r a b u s e , p a r t y ,
59
n o r b l a n k v e r s e t o s u p p o r t i t , I c a n n o t t e l l . . *"
The
c h a r g e o f p e t t i n e s s h a d n o t b e e n p r e s s e d n e a r l y so v i g o r o u s н
l y b y o t h e r c r i t i c s o f t h e c o u p l e t f o rm , an d i t r e f l e c t s
Young*s i m p a t i e n c e w i t h l y r i c p o e t r y .
He w is h e d t h a t a l l
r im e c o u l d b e a b o l i s h e d , e x c e p t t h a t " l e s s e r p o e t r y " s t a n d s
60
in need o f i t .
H ere we c a n s e e Young t h e A u g u s ta n ? t h e
57 I b i d . . p p . 3 3 9 - 4 0 .
^ I b i d . . p . 3 40 . Of D r y d e n 's t r a g e d i e s h e s a i d :
"B u t t h e s t r o n g e s t d e m o n s t r a t i o n o f h i s n o ~ t a s t e f o r t h e
b u s k i n a r e h i s t r a g e d i e s f r i n g e d w i t h rhyme; w h ic h , i n e p i c
p o e tr y , i s a so re d is e a s e , in th e t r a g i c , a b s o lu te d e a th .
To D ry d e n ? s e n o r m i t y , P o p e ? s was a l i g h t o f f e n s e . " p . 3 5 1 .
I t i s l i k e l y t h a t Young d i d n o t a d m ire F re n c h c l a s s i c a l dram a.
CQ
Q uo ted b y G. 0 . M a c a u la y , Jam es Thomson (London:
M a c m illa n a n d Company, L t d . , 1 9 0 8 ) , p . 2 3 4 .
fin
" C o n j e c t u r e s on O r i g i n a l C o m p o s iti o n ," p . 351
53
lo v e r o f th e l o f t y "m a sc u lin e ? s t y l e , and of th e le n g th y
ep ic .
Y o u n g 's o b s e r v a t i o n s on t h e q u e s t i o n o f i m i t a t i o n and
o r i g i n a l g e n iu s , w h ile a p p a re n tly advanced f o r th e tim e , a re
b y no means w i t h o u t p r e c e d e n t .
I m i t a t i o n , o r e m u l a t i o n , was
a p rim a ry t e n e t o f t h e n e o o l a s s i c c r e e d .
I t was a r g u e d t h a t
t h e a n c i e n t s h a d r e a c h e d t h e u l t i m a t e o f p e r f e c t i o n , and to
f o l l o w them was t h e s u r e s t way t o s u c c e s s .
Young a d m i t t e d
t h a t t h e w o rks o f t h e a n c i e n t s w ere s u p e r i o r t o t h o s e o f
m odern t i m e s , b u t s a i d t h e y n e e d n o t b e : " . . .
th r o u g h a l l p e r i o d s , a r e e q u a l . "
human s o u l s ,
T h e re fo re , he d e c la r e d ,
m odern w r i t e r s s h o u ld c l o s e t h e i r m in d s t o Homer a n d V i r g i l ,
l e s t t h e y " . . . sh h d e o u r c o m p o s iti o n from t h e beams o f o u r
61
own g e n i u s . "
The f o r c e o f o r i g i n a l , n a t i v e g e n i u s had b e e n
a c k n o w le d g e d i n t h e b e s t n e o c l a s s i c t h e o r y , t o a c c o u n t f o r
s u c h phenom ena a s S h a k e s p e a r e .
I n su c h c a s e s i t w as u r g e d
t h a t th e b e a u tie s , r a t h e r th a n th e d e f e c ts o f th e i r r e g u l a r ,
e r r in g g e n iu s be re g a rd e d .
T h i s k in d o f e x c e l l e n c e was c o n н
t r a s t e d f a v o r a b l y w i t h t h e m e d i o c r i t y w h ich o b s e r v a n c e t o t h e
r u l e s m ig h t b r i n g , i n t h e Are P o e t i o a o f H o r a c e , i n A d d i s o n 's
S p e c t a t o r p a p e r s , an d even i n P o p e ' s E ssa y on C r i t i c i s m .
The
i d e a t h a t " s u b l i m i t y " was n o t a t t a i n a b l e by o b s e r v a n c e o f
si
I b i d . . p p . 3 2 3 - 2 3 . J o s e p h W arton l a t e r s a i d t h a t
Y o u n g 's v ie w s o n o r i g i n a l i t y w ere to o e x tr e m e .
54
r u l e s was " . . .
s a n c t i o n e d by. e v e r y n e o c l a s s i c a l c r i t i c , ?
62
a c c o rd in g to a r e c e n t s c h o l a r ,
and t h e r e was p l e n t y o f
p r e c e d e n t f o r Y o u n g 's s t a t e m e n t t h a t " . . .
ru le s , lik e
c r u t c h e s , a r e a n e e d f u l a i d t o t h e l a n e , th o u g h an im p ed im en t
63
to th e s tr o n g ."
The d i s t i n c t i o n b e tw e e n " ju d g m e n t" an d
t r u e g e n i u s , made b e f o r e by J o s e p h W arton a n d S h e n s to n e , i s
a l s o g i v e n b y Young:
A g e n i u s d i f f e r s from a g o o d u n d e r s t a n d i n g , a s a
m a g ic i a n from a good a r c h i t e c t . . . . T h e re i s s o m e th in g
i n p o e t r y b ey o n d p r o s e - r e a s o n ; "there a r e m y s t e r i e s i n i t
n o t t o b e e x p l a i n e d , b u t a d m i r e d . 64
Young d i f f e r s from t h e o t h e r p r e - r o m a n t i c p o e t s i n
o ne i m p o r t a n t r e s p e c t : h i s work a s a c r i t i c i s s e p a r a t e from
h i s work a s a p o e t .
I f h is c r iti c is m s of th e h e ro ic c o u p le t
h a d a c c o m p a n ie d t h e w r i t i n g o f h i s N ig h t T h o u g h ts i n b l a n k
v e r s e , we s h o u l d b e more c o n v i n c e d o f h i s d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n w i t h
A u g u sta n l i t e r a r y c o n v e n t i o n s .
S in c e he w a i t e d o v e r f i f t e e n
y e a r s t o la u n c h h i s a t t a c k , i t i s o n l y n a t u r a l t o assum e
t h a t t h e r e was l i t t l e c r i t i c a l a w a r e n e s s i n h i s e a r l i e r a c н
tio n .
S h e n s t o n e 's p u r p o s e f u l s u p p o r t o f t h e q u a t r a i n f o r
e l e g i a c m e t e r , m i l d th o u g h i t w as, m eans f a r more com ing i n
1748 t h a n Y o u n g 's more e x tre m e p o s i t i o n i n 1759: S h e n s t o n e 's
Monk, o n . c i t . . p . 2 6 .
f t rZ
" C o n j e c t u r e s on O r i g i n a l C o m p o s iti o n ," p . 326.
64
h o c , c i t . Y o u n g 's b o r r o w i n g s a r e shown by M. W.
S t e i n k e , Edward Young' s C o n .ie c tu r e s on O r i g i n a l C o m p o s itio n
i n E n g la n d and Germany ( A m eric an a G e r m a n ic a . No. 2 8 , New
Y o rk , 1 9 l 7 ) .
55
v ie w s w ere e x p r e s s e d i n c o n n e c t i o n w i t h h i s p o e t r y , w h i l e
Y o u n g 's seem m ore t h e s u m m a r iz a tio n o f a d e c a d e o f g e n e r a l
th e o riz in g .
Thomas W arton (1 7 8 8 -1 7 9 0 )
Among t h e men who w e r e c o n s i s t e n t ch a m p io n s o f t h e
c a u se o f ro m a n tic l i t e r a t u r e th ro u g h o u t th e e ig h te e n th cen н
t u r y t h e name o f t h e W arton f a m i l y s t a n d s h i g h .
The f a t h e r ,
Thomas W arto n , i n c u l c a t e d i n h i s s o n s , J o s e p h an d Thomas
W arto n , a l i k i n g f o r o l d , u n f a s h i o n a b l e v e r s e .
When t h e two
y o u t h s b e g a n w r i t i n g v e r s e i n t h e e a r l y 1 7 4 0 ' s , t h e y w e re
g r e a t l y a t t r a c t e d t o t h e new S c h o o l o f S e n s i b i l i t y an d t h e
c h a n g in g l i t e r a r y s t y l e s .
as a p o e t.
N e i t h e r was t o a t t a i n p r o m in e n c e
J o s e p h W arton i s i m p o r t a n t i n t h e p r e - r o m a n t i c
movement b e c a u s e o f h i s c r i t i c a l w r i t i n g s , a n d Thomas, t h e
y o u n g e r , f o r h i s s t u d i e s on m e d ie v a l l i f e , a n d f o r e n c o u r a g н
in g n a tu r e - p o e tr y and th e so n n et re v iv a l.о ^
B o th h a v e b e e n
c a l l e d p i o n e e r s o f t h e R o m an tic Movement,о6 a n d t h e r o m a n t i н
c i s t S o u th e y sp o k e o f Thomas W arton a s " t h e f a t h e r o f t h e
66 0 . R i n a k e r , "Thomas W a r t o n 's P o e t r y a n d i t s R e l a н
t i o n t o t h e R o m antic M ovem ent." Sewanee R ev iew . X X III ( 1 9 1 5 ) .
140.
66 ?
O f. E. Q o s s e , Two P i o n e e r s o f R o m a n tic is m : J o s e p h
a n d Thomas W a rto n . C o u r th o p e c a l l e d them t h e " c o n s c i o u s and
c r i t i c a l p i o n e e r s o f t h e R o m an tic M ovement."
(A H i s t o r y o f
E n g l i s h P o e t r y , p . 3 8 4 .)
56
p re se n t ra c e ."
67
I t i s e v i d e n t , h o w e v e r, t h a t Thomas was a
much l e s s a c t i v e cham pion o f r o m a n t i c i s m t h a n h i s b r o t h e r ;
h e seldom to o k tim e t o e x p l a i n o r t o j u s t i f y h i s u n o r th o d o x
t a s t e s , an d n e v e r f e l t d i s p o s e d t o c r i t i c i z e t h e s t a n d a r d s
o f n e o c la ssic ism .
I n h i s r e t i c e n c e and c o n s e r v a tiv e a t t i н
t u d e , h e g r e a t l y r e s e m b l e s S h e n s to n e .
R o m an tic an d c o n v e n t i o n a l e l e m e n t s a r e i n e x t r i c a b l y
m in g le d i n Thomas W a rto n ? s p o e t r y .
I n h i s f i r s t poem, The
P l e a s u r e s o f M e la n c h o ly ( 1 7 4 4 ) , he d i s p l a y e d a n e x a g g e r a t e d
e m o tio n a lis m a n d an e v i d e n t en jo y m e n t i n s c e n e s o f gloom and
h o rro r.
L a r g e l y i m i t a t i v e o f M i l t o n ' s I I P e n s e r o s o an d c o n н
tem p o rary "g rav ey ard " v e r s e ,
t h e poem l a c k s t h e s i n c e r i t y an d
n a t u r a l n e s s o f h i s l a t e r w o rk .
Some o f h i s b e s t p o e t r y was
w r i t t e n a b o u t n a t u r e a n d E n g l i s h v i l l a g e l i f e , w h ic h , he
s a i d , was b e s t s u i t e d t o h i s muse.оо
Among h i s n a t u r e - p o e m s
w as a c o n v e n t i o n a l , e i g h t e e n t h - c e n t u r y p a s t o r a l i n S p e n s e r ? s
69
m a n n e r,
b u t i t was more common f o r him t o w r i t e a b o u t t h e
r e a l E n g lish c o u n try s id e .
H is an d W o r d s w o r th 's poem on t h e
r i v e r Lodon a r e o f t e n a s s o c i a t e d .
But e v e n i n poems w h ic h
have a s tr o n g to u c h o f ro m a n tic is m ,
su c h a s S u i c i d e an d
W r i t t e n a t V a le - R o y a l V a l i e v . W arton a d d e d c o n v e n t i o n a l mo?
R i n a k e r , o p . c i t . , p . 16 2.
68 I b i d . . p . 1 4 9.
69 I b i d . , p . 1 4 7 .
57
ra lity .
70
The c u r r e n t r e v i v a l o f o l d n a t i v e p o e t r y a t t r a c t e d
W a rto n , a n d he i s c r e d i t e d w i t h h e l p i n g e d i t a c o l l e c t i o n o f
o l d S c o t t i s h poem s, The U n io n ( 1 7 5 3 ) .
The p r e f a c e t o t h i s
w ork makes a r a t h e r m i l d d e f e n s e o f t h e o l d p o e t r y :
I t i s ho ped t h a t t h e a n c i e n t S c o t t i s h poems w i l l
make no d i s a g r e e a b l e f i g u r e among t h o s e o f m odern d a t e ;
an d t h a t t h e y w i l l p r o d u c e t h e same e f f e c t h e r e , a s Mr.
P ope o b s e r v e s a m o d e r a te u s e o f o l d w o rd s may h a v e i n a
poem; w h ic h ( a d d s h e ) i s l i k e w o rk in g o l d a b b e y - s t o n e s
i n t o a m odern b u i l d i n g , and w h ich I h a v e so m e tim e s s e e n
p r a c t i c e d w ith good s u c c e s s ." 1
T h i s a p o l o g e t i c a t t i t u d e i s i n c o n t r a s t w i t h R am say? s p r a i s e
of n a tiv e v e rse .
W arton d i d n o t a s s o c i a t e h i s name w i t h t h e
p u b l i c a t i o n , a n d upon a p r i n c i p l e o f P o p e ? s , v e n t u r e d t o
reoommend t h e poems o n l y f o r t h e i r q u a i n t n e s s .
W a r t o n 's o n l y i m p o r t a n t c r i t i c a l w ork was h i s O b s e r v a t i o n s
on t h e F a i r y Q.ueen ( 1 7 5 4 ) .
I n t h i s e s s a y he d e f e n d e d S penн
s e r ? s w arm th o f s t y l e a g a i n s t n e o c l a s s i c c e n s u r e , p o i n t i n g
o u t t h a t t h e E l i z a b e t h a n a g e d i f f e r e d i n many r e s p e c t s from
t h e m od ern, a n d t h a t t h e r e f o r e t h e w r i t e r s w ere d i f f e r e n t .
S p e n s e r , h e s a i d , was u s i n g A r i o s t o ' s O rla n d o F u r i o s o a s a
m o d e l, a n d
. . .
it
i s a b su rd to t h i n k o f ju d g in g e i t h e r A rio sto
70
R. D. H av e n s, "Thomas W arton and t h e E i g h t e e n t h
C e n tu r y D ilem m a,? S t u d i e s i n P h i l o l o g y . XXV ( 1 9 3 8 ) , 3 1.
71
The U n io n : o r S e l e c t S c o ts a n d - E n g l i s h Poems
( E d in b u r g h : P r i n t e d f o r A r c h i b a l d Monroe a n d D av id M u rra y ,
1753).
58
o r S p e n s e r b y p r e c e p t s w h ich t h e y d i d n o t a t t e n d t o .
We
who l i v e i n t h e d a y s o f w r i t i n g b y r u l e , a r e a p t t o t r y
e v e r y c o m p o s i t i o n by t h o s e la w s w h ic h we h a v e b e e n
ta u g h t to th in k th e so le c r i t e r i o n o f e x c e lle n c e . C r i t н
i c a l t a s t e i s u n i v e r s a l l y d i f f u s e d , an d we r e q u i r e t h e
same o r d e r a n d d e s i g n w h ic h e v e r y m odern p e r f o r m a n c e i s
e x p e c t e d t o h a v e , i n poems w h e re t h e y n e v e r w ere r e g a r d e d
o r in te n d e d .
S p e n s e r , an d t h e same may b e s a i d o f A r io н
s t o , d i d n o t l i v e i n an ag e o f p l a n n i n g . H is p o e t r y i s
t h e c a r e l e s s e x h u b e r a n c e o f a warm i m a g i n a t i o n and a
s t r o n g s e n s i b i l i t y . , I t was h i s b u s i n e s s t o en g a g e t h e
f a n c y , an d t o i n t e r e s t t h e a t t e n t i o n by b o l d a n d s t r i k i n g
im a g e s , i n t h e f o r m a t i o n , a n d t h e d i s p o s i t i o n o f w h ic h ,
l i t t l e l a b o u r o r a r t was a p p l i e d .
The v a r i o u s a n d m a rн
v e l o u s w ere t h e c h i e f s o u r c e s o f d e l i g h t . Hence we f i n d
o u r a u t h o r r a n s a c k i n g a l i k e t h e r e g i o n s o f r e a l i t y an d
ro m an c e, o f t r u t h and f i c t i o n . . . . B orn i n s u c h a n a g e ,
S p e n s e r w r o t e r a p i d l y from h i s own f e e l i n g s . . . ? 2
The d i f f e r e n c e b e tw e e n c l a s s i c an d G o th ic a r t i n r e l a t i o n t o
F a e r i e Queene h a d b e e n more c l e a r l y d e m o n s t r a t e d b e f o r e ,
f o r e x a m p le , i n 1715 by J o h n H ug hes, S p e n s e r ' s e d i t o r . 73
7 " O b s e r v a t i o n s on t h e F a i r y Q u een ," q u o te d i n The
Works o f Edmund S p e n s e r , a v a r io r u m e d i t i o n .
E d i t e d by E l
G re e n la w , 0 . G. Osgood, an d F. M. P a d e l f o r d ( B a l t i m o r e : The
J o h n s H o p k in s P r e s s , [ 1 9 3 2 ] ) , I > 319-20.
73 O f . H u g h e s ? "Remarks o f t h e F a i r y Queen";
The w an t o f U n ity i n t h e S t o r y makes i t d i f f i c u l t f o r
t h e R e a d e r t o c a r r y i t i n h i s M ind, and d i s t r a c t s to o
much o f h i s A t t e n t i o n t o t h e s e v e r a l p a r t s o f i t ; and
in d e e d t h e w h o le Frame o f i t w o u?d a p p e a r M o n s tr o u s , i f
i t w e re t o b e e x a m in ?d b y t h e R u l e s o f E p ic P o e t r y , a s
t h e y h a v e b e e n draw n from t h e P r a c t i c e o f Homer an d V i r н
g il.
B ut a s i t i s p l a i n t h e A u th o r n e v e r d e s i g n ?d i t by
th o s e R u le s , I th in k i t ought r a t h e r to be c o n s id e r ?d a s
a Poem o f a p a r t i c u l a r k i n d , d e s c r i b i n g i n a S e r i e s o f
A l l e g o r i c a l A d v e n tu r e s o r E p is o d e s t h e m ost n o t e d V i r t u e s
an d V ic e s : t o com pare i t t h e r e f o r e w i t h t h e M odels o f
A n t i q u i t y , w ou?d b e l i k e d ra w in g a P a r a l l e l b e tw e e n t h e
Roman a n d t h e G o th ic k A r c h i t e c t u r e .
In th e f i r s t th e re
i s d o u b t l e s s a more n a t u r a l G ra n d e u r an d S i m p l i c i t y : i n
t h e l a t t e r , we f i n d g r e a t M i x t u r e s o f B e a u ty a n d B a r b a r -
59
F u r t h e r m o r e , W arton n e v e r a c t u a l l y s a i d t h a t l i t e r a t u r e o f
t h e '?d a y s o f w r i t i n g by r u l e " was i n f e r i o r t o t h e more sp o n н
ta n e o u s v e r s e o f th e E liz a b e th a n age.
He m e r e ly s t a t e d t h e
d i f f e r e n c e b e tw e e n t h e two; no a t t e m p t i s made t o d i s c o v e r
w h at r u l e s S p e n s e r may b e ju d g e d by i f h e c a n n o t b e ju d g e d by
c la s s ic ones.
R. D. H avens h a s p o i n t e d o u t t h a t h i s o p p o s i н
t i o n t o n e o c l a s s i c i s m was n e v e r w e l l d e f i n e d .
He s h i f t s h i s
p o s i t i o n o f t e n w i t h o u t any a p p a r e n t c o n s c i o u s n e s s o f i n c o n н
siste n c y .
He l i s t s t h e c l a s s i c a l p r i n c i p l e s w h ic h t h e F a e r i e
Queene v i o l a t e s , an d c r i t i c i z e s t h e s t a n z a fo rm l a r g e l y i n
im ita tio n o f o th e r c r i t i c s .
H avens b e l i e v e s t h a t W arton
p r o b a b l y r e g a r d e d h i s l o v e o f m e d ie v a l o r G o th ic a r t a s a
w e a k n e s s , j u s t a s P e r c y assum ed an a p o l o g e t i c a t t i t u d e o v e r
h i s R e l i a u e s o f A n c ie n t P o e t r y .
".
I n H a v e n s ' w o rd s , W arton
. . n e v e r a s s e r t e d a n d p r o b a b l y w o u ld h a v e d e n i e d t h e
s u p e r i o r i t y o f t h e m id d l e a g e s t o t h e m o d e r n ." 7^
The d u a l i s m w h ic h r u n s th r o u g h a l l o f W a r t o n 's work
i s b e s t i l l u s t r a t e d i n h i s " V e r s e s on S i r J o s h u a R e y n o ld s '
P a i n t e d Windows a t New C o l l e g e O xford" ( 1 7 8 2 ) .
The m e d ie v a l
ism . . . . "
(Q u o ted i n The Works o f Edmund S p e n s e r , p . 3 1 5 . )
7 ^ R. D. H av ens, "Thomas W arton a n d t h e E i g h t e e n t h
C e n tu r y D ilem m a," 4 4 . H avens s a i d i f P e r c y h a d r e s p e c t e d
t h e b a l l a d s a s much a s h e l o v e d them , h e w o u l d n 't h a v e
g a r b l e d them a s he d i d .
60
w indows o f t h e o l d G o th ic b u i l d i n g h ad b e e n r e p l a c e d by
m odern o n e s b e a r i n g R e y n o l d s ? p a i n t i n g s .
W arton h a d l o v e d
t h e o l d w indow s f o r t h e i r a s s o c i a t i o n w i t h t h e r o m a n tic
m id d l e a g e s .
He was
F o r l o n g , e n a m o u r?d o f a b a r b a r o u s a g e ,
A f a i t h l e s s tr u a n t to th e c l a s s i c page;
I n t h e poem , h e p r o t e s t e d a g a i n s t t h e i n t r u s i o n o f R e y n o l d s ?
c le a r c la s s ic lin e :
Ah, s t a y t h y t r e a c h e r o u s b a n d , f o r b e a r t o t r a c e
T hose f a u l t l e s s fo rm s o f e l e g a n c e a n d g r a c e J
Nor s t e a l , b y s t r o k e s o f a r t w i t h t r u t h c o m b in 'd ,
The f o n d i l l u s i o n s o f my wayward mind.?
Ah, s p a r e t h e w e a k n e ss o f a l o v e r ' s h e a r t . ?
C h a se n o t t h e p h a n to m s o f my f a i r y dream ,
P h antom s t h a t s h r i n k a t R e a s o n 's p a i n f u l g le a m i
Then s u d d e n ly he s e e s h i s " e r r o r ? a n d t h a n k s R e y n o ld s t h a t
h is
. . . p o w e r f u l h an d h a s b r o k e t h e G o th ic c h a i n ,
And b r o u g h t my bosom b a c k t o t r u t h a g a i n .
He e x p r e s s e d a f i n a l w is h t h a t t h e two s t y l e s o f a r t c a n b e
re c o n c ile d .
By c a l l i n g h i s l o v e o f G o th ic is m a " f o n d i l l u н
s i o n ? a n d a " w e a k n e s s ," he a d m i t t e d h i s i n a b i l i t y t o g i v e
i n t e l l e c t u a l su p p o rt to h i s n a t u r a l p r e f e r e n c e s .
In th e
f i n a l a n a l y s i s i t was t h e c l a s s i c a l r a t h e r t h a n t h e r o m a n t i c
t h a t seemed t o him m ost t r u e .
F o r t h i s r e a s o n h e g a v e no
c l e a r - c u t , c r i t i c a l d e f e n s e o f t h e v a r i o u s r o m a n t i c e l e m e n ts
w hose d e v e lo p m e n t h e f o s t e r e d i n o t h e r w ays.
61
J o s e p h W arton
I n c o n t r a s t t o h i s b r o t h e r , J o s e p h W arton i s an e x н
c e l l e n t ex am ple o f a p o e t who was l i k e w i s e a c r i t i c .
H is
p o e tr y i s im p o rta n t alm o st s o le ly a s a r e f l e c t i o n o f conн
te m p o r a r y l i t e r a r y t r e n d s .
The E n t h u s i a s t ( 1 7 4 0 ) , w h ich
W arton w r o t e a t t h e ag e o f s e v e n t e e n , i s an e a r l y e x p r e s s i o n
i n p o e t r y o f t h e p r e v a i l i n g r o m a n tic moods an d s e n t i m e n t s .
The t i t l e
i n d i c a t e s an im p a tie n c e w ith n e o c la s s ic r a t i o n a l н
ism ; t h e p o e t l o n g s f o r t h e s o l i t a r y ,
sim p le , and p r i m i t i v e
l i f e , away from t h e r e s t r a i n t s o f a r t an d c i v i l i z a t i o n .
H is
z e a l for- t h e " n a t u r a l " l e d him t o p r a i s e S h a k e s p e a r e a t t h e
e x p e n s e o f t h e p r o m in e n t n e o c l a s s i c i s t , A d d iso n :
What a r e t h e l a y s o f a r t f u l A d d iso n ,
C o l d ly c o r r e c t , t o S h a k e s p e a r e 's w a r b l i n g s w i l d ?
75
For h is o p p o sitio n to " c o rre c tn e ss"
an d f o r h i s s u p p o r t o f
o t h e r r o m a n t i c i d e a s , W a r t o n 's E n t h u s i a s t h a s b e e n c a l l e d
^ The c a m p aig n a g a i n s t " c o r r e c t n e s s " was o f g r e a t
i m p o r ta n c e i n t h e d e v e lo p m e n t o f r o m a n ti c t h e o r y .
S eed s f o r
t h e arg u m e n t w e re c o n t a i n e d i n t h e n e o c l a s s i c a d m is s io n t h a t
g r e a t n e s s was n o t o b t a i n a b l e b y o b s e r v a n c e o f t h e r u l e s .
The a rg u m e n t was r e i n f o r c e d b y p a t r i o t i c o p p o s i t i o n t o t h e
t y r a n n y o f F re n c h c r i t i c i s m , f o r ex a m p le , a s d i r e c t e d a g a i n s t
B o i l e a u . The f i r s t a n t i - B o i l e a u s h o t w as f i r e d i n an e s s a y ,
C o r r e c t n e s s , i n D o d s l e y 's Museum f o r A p r i l , 1746: " I t was
to o g r e a t a t t e n t i o n to F rench c r i t i c i s m t h a t h in d e re d o u r
p o e t s i n C h a r l e s I I ' s tim e from c o m p re h e n d in g t h e g e n i u s and
a c k n o w le d g in g t h e a u t h o r i t y o f M i l t o n . "
(Q u o te d b y A. F.
B. C l a r k , B o i l e a u a n d t h e F r e n c h C l a s s i c a l C r i t i c s i n E n g la n d
(1 6 6 0 -1 8 3 0 ) ( P a r i s : Cham pion, 1 9 2 5 ) , p . 4 3 .
62
" t h e e a r l i e s t e g r e s s i o n o f c o m p le te r e v o l t " from n e o c l a s s i c
d o m in a tio n .
G osse h a s re m a rk e d t h a t W arton w as t h e f i r s t t o
d is c o v e r " th e v a in s a c r i f i c e s o f th e ' c l a s s i c i s t s , "
and t h a t
a s a b o y h e "fo rm e d a d e t e r m i n a t i o n t o r e c o n q u e r t h e r e a l m s
76
o f l o s t b e a u ty ."
The im p o r t a n c e o f t h e poem c a n n o t b e
d e n i e d , b u t t h e a c c u r a c y o f G o s s e 1s s t a t e m e n t h a s b e e n c h a l н
le n g e d .
A. 0 . L o v e jo y h a s a r g u e d a g a i n s t t h e t e n d e n c y t o
r e g a r d W arton a s a r e b e l t o n e o c l a s s i c i s m , p o i n t i n g o u t t h a t
m o st o f h i s i d e a s h a d b e e n p r e v i o u s l y s t a t e d by t h e n e o c l a s 77
s i c i s t s th e m se lv e s.
I t i s a lso tr u e th a t, w ith th e p o s н
s i b l e e x c e p t i o n o f one poem , An Ode t o F an cy , t h e r e s t o f
W a rto n ^ p o e try i s c o n v e n tio n a l in ev ery r e s p e c t; h i s q u e s t
f o r l o s t b e a u t y was n o t v e r y e n t h u s i a s t i c a l l y p u r s u e d .
To
j u d g e from h i s poems h e was o n ly a m in o r a d h e r e n t t o t h e
School o f S e n s i b i l i t y , w ith o n ly m ild o b je c ti o n s to n e o c la s s ic
v erse.
I n th e ab sen ce o f any s u s t a in e d n o te o f ro m a n tic is m ,
one m u st t u r n t o h i s c r i f i c a l w r i t i n g s f o r h i s r e a l c o n t r i b u н
t i o n t o t h e R om an tic Movement.
The f i r s t r e a l e v i d e n c e t h a t W arto n was c r i t i c a l l y
aw a re o f n e o c l a s s i c s h o r tc o m in g s i s t h e s h o r t p r e f a c e t o h i s
Odes on V a r i o u s S u b j e c t s ( 1 7 4 6 ) .
In t h i s p r e f a c e he p o in te d
o u t t h e d i f f e r e n c e b e tw e e n c o n te m p o r a r y r a t i o n a l i s t i c v e r s e
76
77
G o s s e , Two p i o n e e r s o f R o m a n tic is m , p p . 2 - 3 .
A. 0 . L o v e jo y , "On t h e D i s c r i m i n a t i o n o f R o m a n tiн
c is m s ," 238-39.
63
a n d h i e own k i n d o f p o e t r y :
The P u b l i c h a s b e e n so much a c c u s t o m 'd o f l a t e t o
d i d a c t i c P o e t r y a l o n e , an d E s s a y s on m o ra l S u b j e c t s ,
t h a t any work w h e re t h e i m a g i n a t i o n i s much i n d u l g e d , ,
w ill perh ap s not be r e lis h e d or reg ard ed .
The a u t h o r .
t h e r e f o r e o f t h e s e p i e c e s i s i n some p a i n l e a s t c e r t a i n
a u s t e r e c r i t i c s s h o u l d t h i n k them to o f a n c i f u l and d e s н
c r i p t i v e . B ut a s h e i s c o n v i n c e d t h a t t h e f a s h i o n o f
m o r a l i z i n g i s b e i n g c a r r i e d to o f a r , an d a s h e lo o k s
upon I n v e n t i o n an d I m a g i n a t i o n t o b e t h e c h i e f f a c u l t i e s
o f a P o e t , so h e w i l l b e happy i f t h e f o l l o w i n g Odes may
b e l o o k ' d upon a s an a t t e m p t t o b r i n g b a c k P o e t r y i n t o
i t s r i g h t c h a n n e l . 78
H e re i s t h e a c c u s a t i o n t h a t t h e d i d a c t i c e le m e n t i n n e o н
c l a s s i c p o e tr y h as d e s tro y e d in v e n tio n and im a g in a tio n , th e
" c h ie f f a c u l t i e s o f a P o e t."
The a u t h o r ev e n d a r e s ho p e t h a t
h i s poems may b r i n g p o e t r y b a c k i n t o " i t s r i g h t c h a n n e l . "
T h i s p u b l i c l y a n n o u n c e d a t t e m p t a t r e f o r m i s u n iq u e among t h e
p r e - r o m a n t i c p o e t s , who n e v e r s e r i o u s l y d o u b te d t h a t p o e t r y
w as n o t i n t h e r i g h t c h a n n e l a l l a l o n g .
W a rto n * s a p p e a l met
w i t h l i t t l e r e s p o n s e , h o w e v e r, f o r h i s volum e o f poems b e l i e d
th e re v o lu tio n a r y to n e o f h i s p r e f a c e .
D is c o u r a g e d , p e r h a p s , by t h e i n d i f f e r e n c e o f t h e
M u se s, W arton t u r n e d t o l i t e r a r y c r i t i c i s m , w r i t i n g e s s a y s
f o r The A d v e n tu r e r fro m 1752 t o 1 75 4 , a n d p u b l i s h i n g i n 1756
t h e f i r s t volum e o f h i s , f a m e d E ssa y on P o p e .
T h is l a t t e r
w ork n o t o n l y q u e s t i o n e d t h e g r e a t n e s s o f n e o c l a s s i c p o e t r y
i n g e n e r a l , b u t d a r e d d i s p u t e t h e p r e - e m i n e n c e o f Pope him н
r╗Q
A d v e r tis e m e n t t o Odes on V a r io u s S u b .ie c ts (London:
P r i n t e d f o r R. D o d s le y . , . , 1733T).
64
se lf.
The a p p e a r a n c e o f t h e s e c o n d volum e o f t h e e s s a y was
d elay ed f o r tw e n ty -s ix y e a r s , p o s s ib ly b ecau se o f th e unн
f a v o r a b l e r e c e p t i o n w h ic h h i s a t t a c k o n P ope met w i t h .
T h e re
w e r e , d o u b t l e s s , o t h e r s who s h a r e d W a r t o n 's o p i n i o n s i n 1756;
t h e f a c t t h a t t h e d e d i c a t o r y e p i s t l e w as a d d r e s s e d t o Young
i n d i c a t e s t h i s ; b u t u n t i l t h i s e s s a y t h e r e h a d b e e n no s y s н
t e m a t i c a t t a c k on f u n d a m e n ta l n e o c l & s s i c p r i n c i p l e s .
W arton
was v e r y much aw are t h a t h i s e s s a y w o u ld b e c r i t i c i z e d ,
for
he d e c la re d :
Ho l o v e o f s i n g u l a r i t y , no a f f e c t a t i o n o f p a r a d o x i c a l
o p i n i o n , g a v e r i s e t o t h e f o l l o w i n g w ork . I r e v e r e t h e
memory o f P o p e , I r e s p e c t a n d h o n o r h i s a b i l i t y : b u t I
do n o t t h i n k him a t t h e h e a d o f h i s p r o f e s s i o n . 79
A gain h e s a i d ,
As I s h a l l n e i t h e r c e n s u r e n o r commend, w i t h o u t a l l e d g i n g
t h e r e a s o n on w h ic h my o p i n i o n i s fo u n d e d , I s h a l l b e
e n t i r e l y unmoved a t t h e i m p u t a t i o n o f m a l i g n i t y , o r t h e
c la m o u r s o f p o p u l a r p r e j u d i c e . "
B e c a u se h e t o o k a p o s i t i o n w h ic h seem s a d v a n c e d f o r
h i s a g e , i t i s v e r y e a s y t o o v e r l o o k W a r t o n 's e s s e n t i a l
c la ssic ism .
H i s f i r s t d e v i a t i o n s fro m c o n v e n t i o n a l t h e o r y
w e re v e r y t e n t a t i v e i n d e e d .
Sa i n t s b u r y h a s r e m a rk e d t h a t
t h e e s s a y s i n t h e A d v e n tu r e r show " a know?n o t ?w h a t - t a ? t h i n k o f - i t " a t t i t u d e , and t h a t i n h i s E ssa y on Pone h e was o n l y
79
An E s s a y on t h e W r i t i n g s an d G e n iu s o f P o n e . I ,
iii.
80 I b i d . . X, 2 .
65
h a l f aw are o f t h e r e a l c h a n g e s t a k i n g p l a c e i n l i t e r a t u r e . 8 "*"
W arton h a d no d e s i r e t o h e c o n s i d e r e d a r a d i c a l , an d whenн
e v e r p o s s i b l e , h e b a s e d h i s c o n t e n t i o n s on t h e p r e c e p t s o f
L o n g in u s , Q u i n t i l l i a n o r H o r a c e .
fro m V o l t a i r e b e c a u s e h e was " .
He o n c e a d o p t e d a p a s s a g e
. . p e r h a p s asham ed o r a f r a i d
DO
t o sp e a k o u t i n p l a i n E n g l i s h . "
T h a t h e was s t i l l an a d н
m i r e r o f much A u g u sta n v e r s e may b e g a t h e r e d from t h e f o l l o w н
i n g re m a rk : " I t i s o n e o f t h e g r e a t e s t an d m ost p l e a s i n g a r t s
o f d e s c r i p t i v e p o e t r y , to in tr o d u c e m oral s e n te n c e s and i n 83
s t r u c t i o n i n an o b l i q u e a n d i n d i r e c t m a n n e r ."
I t was t h i s
s k i l l i n in tr o d u c in g m oral s e n te n c e s t h a t he p r a i s e d i n
P4.
D y e r ? s G ro n g a r H i l l , r a t h e r t h a n any p o w er o f d e s c r i p t i o n . о
A r e c e n t w r i t e r 8 о h a s ev en q u e s t i o n e d t h a t W a r to n ? s c r i t i c i s m
o f Pope i m p l i e d any s e r i o u s d i v e r g e n c e from n e o c l a s s i c a l
th e o ry .
S t r e s s i n g . t h e t r a d i t i o n a l d o c t r i n e i n W a rto n ? s
t h o u g h t , t h i s w r i t e r s t a t e s t h a t he u s e d t h e t e r m " im a g in a н
t i o n " i n t h r e e d i f f e r e n t s e n s e s w i t h o u t d i s c r i m i n a t i o n , and
b o r ro w e d h i s t h e o r y o f i m i t a t i o n s t r a i g h t fro m t h e n e o c l a s s i н
81" S a i n t s b u r y , ox>. c i t . . p p . 2 6 0 - 6 1 .
82 E ssa y on P o n e . I , x .
83 I b i d . . I , 30.
84 I b i d . . I ,
35.
H. T r o w b r id g e . " J o s e p h W arton on t h e I m a g i n a t i o n , "
Modern P h i l o l o g y . XXXV ( 1 9 3 7 ) , 7 3 - 8 7 .
66
cal c ritic s .
At t h e b e g i n n i n g o f t h e e s s a y W arton s t a t e d v e r y c l e a r н
l y why t h e p o e t r y o f P ope a n d h i s s c h o o l was n o t t h e g r e a t e s t
k in d :
. . . i n t h a t s p e c i e s o f p o e t r y w h e r e i n P op e e x c e l l e d ,
h e i s s u p e r i o r t o a l l m an kind : a n d I o n l y s a y , t h a t t h i s
s p e c i e s o f P o e t r y i s n o t t h e m ost e x c e l l e n t one o f t h e
a rt.
We do n o t , i t w o u ld seem , s u f f i c i e n t l y a t t e n d t o
t h e d i f f e r e n c e t h e r e i s , b e t w i x t a MAN o f WIT, a MAN o f
SENSE, a n d a TRUE POET. . . . a l l I p l e a d f o r , i s . . .
t o im p r e s s on t h e r e a d e r , t h a t a c l e a r h e a d , an a c u t e
u n d e r s t a n d i n g a r e n o t s u f f i c i e n t , a l o n e , t o make a POET;
t h a t t h e m o st s o l i d o b s e r v a t i o n s on human l i f e ; e x p r e s s e d
w i t h u tm o s t e l e g a n c e and b r e v i t y , a r e MORALITY, an d n o t
POETRY; t h a t t h e EPISTLES o f B o i l e a u i n RHYME, a r e no
more p o e t i c a l t h a n t h e CHARACTERS o f B r u y e r e i n PROSE;
an d t h a t i t i s , a c r e a t i v e a n d g lo w in g IMAGINATION, an d
t h a t a l o n e , t h a t c a n stamp a w r i t e r w i t h t h e e x a l t e d
an d v e r y uncommon c h a r a c t e r , w hich so few p e r s o n s p o s s e s s ,
an d o f w h ic h so fe w c a n p r o p e r l y j u d g e . 8 '
To h i s p r o t e s t a g a i n s t d i d a c t i c i s m an d m o r a l i z i n g , made i n
1 7 4 6 , W arton now a d d e d a p r o t e s t a g a i n s t s a t i r e :
HWIT and
SATIRE a r e p e r i s h a b l e , b u t NATURE an d PASSION a r e e t e r n a l . ?88
I n t h e 1782 volum e h e s a i d t h a t m ost o f P o p e ? s w o rk s w ere o f
I M d . , 7 3 - 7 8 . The p o s i t i o n t a k e n by T ro w b rid g e
i s c e r t a i n l y j u s t i f i e d in l i g h t o f th e ex a g g e ra te d c la im s
w h ich ' e a r l i e r s c h o l a r s h a v e made f o r W a rto n . He p e r h a p s
l a b o r s h i s m a t e r i a l i n t r y i n g t o p r o v e W a rto n ? s o p p o s i t i o n
t o t h e d o c t r i n e o f o r i g i n a l i t y . W a r to n ' e a s s e r t i o n s on t h e
s u b j e c t a r e f u l l o f good s e n s e , b u t b e c a u s e t h e y w e re made
b y a m i d - e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y c r i t i c , a r e r e g a r d e d w i t h deep
su sp ic io n .
87 E s s a y on P o n e . I ,
88 I b i d . . I ,
334
iv -v .
67
t h e 11d i d a c t i c , m o r a l . an d s a t y r l c k in d ; an d c o n s e q u e n t l y , n o t
89
o f t h e m o st p o e t i c s p e c i e s o f p o e t r y *11
He la m e n t e d t h e
f a c t t h a t c e r t a i n s a t i r i c a l w o rk s w ere more h i g h l y e s te e m e d
QA
t h a n M i l t o n ' s m in o r poem s.
A c c o rd in g t o W arto n , S p e n s e r , S h a k e s p e a r e , a n d M i l t o n
w e r e p o e t s o f t h e f i r s t r a n k , w h i l e P ope b e l o n g e d t o a lo w e r
r a n k : "The S u blim e an d t h e P a t h e t i c a r e t h e two c h i e f n e r v e s
o f a l l g e n u in e p o e try *
What i s t h e r e v e r y s u b lim e o r v e r y
P a t h e t i c i n P o p e ? " 9** I n s p e a k i n g o f t h e " s u b l i m e ? an d t h e
" p a t h e t i c " W arton was p r e s u m a b ly t h i n k i n g i n t e r m s o f t h e
c l a s s i c a l " e p i c , " w h ich t h e A u g u sta n s c o n s i d e r e d t h e g r e a t e s t
k in d o f p o e tr y .
T h i s i s f u r t h e r a t t e s t e d by h i s o p i n i o n t h a t
Pope w ould n o t h a v e made a g oo d e p i c p o e t , f o r h e s a i d , " . . .
so DIDACTIC a g e n i u s w ould h a v e b e e n d i f i c i e n t i n t h a t SUBLIME
a n d PATHETIC."92*
S u b l i m i t y and p a t h o s w ere u s e d a l m o s t e x н
c l u s i v e l y bo r e f e r t o e p i c a l p o e t r y ? t h e k i n d t h a t Young was
fo re v e r th in k in g o f.
I t w o uld seem t h a t W arton i s h e r e d e н
s e r t i n g t h e c a u s e o f l y r i c p o e t r y w h ich h i s f o r m e r p l e a f o r
i m a g i n a t i o n an d f a n c y h a d seem ed t o s u p p o r t .
W a r t o n 's m ost f r e q u e n t s t r i c t u r e on n e o c l a s s i c v e r s e
89 I b i d . , I I , 4 4 7 .
9░ I b i d . , I , v - v i .
91 I b i d . . I , x .
92 I b i d . . I , 2 8 0 .
i s upon t h e m e th o d o f d e s c r i b i n g n a t u r e i n g e n e r a l i t i e s .
He
e m p h a s iz e d r e p e a t e d l y t h e f a c t t h a t g e n e r a l i t i e s a p p e a l to
t h e i n t e l l e c t , w h e r e a s p o e t r y dem ands s t i m u l a t i o n o f t h e
i m a g i n a t i o n , t h r o u g h t h e u s e o f c o n c r e t e im a g e s .
T ru e p o e t r y ,
he s a id , c o n s i s t s o f a s e l e c t i o n o f c irc u m s ta n c e s " . . .
best
a d a p t e d t o s t r i k e t h e i m a g i n a t i o n by l i v e l y p i c t u r e s . " 0
He
p r a i s e d M ilto n , S p en ser, S h ak esp eare, and I s a i a h f o r t h e i r
p a r t i c u l a r i t y i n d e s c r i p t i o n , i n c o n t r a s t t o P o p e ? s m e th o d .
94
V o l t a i r e ' s H e n r ia d e (1 7 2 8 ) i s c e n s u r e d a s " . . , a work t h a t
ab o u n d s m ore i n d e c l a m a t i o n , i n m o r a l a n d p o l i t i c a l r e f l e c t i o n s
t h a n i n p o e t i c i m a g e s . " 9^5 T h i s p o i n t had n o t b e e n made by t h e
o t h e r p r e - ro m a n tic p o e t s , and i t lo o k s fo rw ard to B l a k e 's
I o p i n i o n : " T o g e n e r a l i z e i s t o b e an i d i o t .
i s th e g r e a t e s t d i s t i n c t i o n o f m e rit."
To p a r t i c u l a r i z e
W arton o f c o u r s e
r e a l i z e d t h a t P ope d i s l i k e d d e s c r i p t i v e p o e t r y , a n d o n ly
m e e k ly a d v a n c e d a n arg u m e n t i n i t s f a v o r :
" I w i l l n o t p re s u m e
to say i t i s e q u a l, e i t h e r i n d i g n i t y o r u t i l i t y ,
to th o se
c o m p o s i t i o n s t h a t l a y o pen t h e i n t e r n a l c o n s t i t u t i o n o f man,
a n d t h a t IMITATE c h a r a c t e r s , m a n n e r s , a n d s e n t i m e n t s . "
He
added t h a t T i t i a n o f te n sto o p e d to p a i n t i n g la n d s c a p e s , an d
93 I b i d . . I , 2 8 , 4 8 .
^ I b i d . M i l t o n i s d i s c u s s e d i n I , 7 , 3 7, S p e n s e r i n
I I , 9 3 , S h a k e s p e a r e i n I , 321, a n d I s a i a h i n I , 1 2 - 1 3 .
95 I b i d . , I I ,
230.
69
t h a t i f Thomson i s t o b e c g n s u r e d f o r d e s c r i b i n g n a t u r e , so
96
m u st b e V i r g i l an d L u c r e t i u s .
The a r t i f i c i a l p a s t o r a l i s m o f t h e P o p ean s c h o o l was
a l s o c r i t i c i z e d on t h e s c o r e o f g e n e r a l i t y .
W arton s a i d t h e
d e s c r i p t i o n o f n a t u r e i n W indsor F o r e s t m ig h t b e a p p l i e d t o
97
"any p la c e w h a ts o e v e r,"
and u rg e d t h a t , " . . . o u r p o e t s
w o u ld a c c u sto m t h e m s e l v e s t o c o n t e m p l a t e f u l l y e v e r y o b j e c t ,
b e fo re th e y atte m p te d to d e s c r ib e i t .
. . . л88
The p r a c t i c e
o f a p p l y i n g c l a s s i c a l nam es t o E n g l i s h f l o r a an d f a u n a i s
c a lle d " . . .
t h a t d i s g u s t i n g i m p r o p r i e t y o f i n t r o d u c i n g w hat
99
may b e c a l l e d a s e t o f h e r e d i t a r y im a g e s . . . . "
Ramsay
h a d e x p r e s s e d t h e same i d e a i n 1 7 2 4 , a l t h o u g h w i t h o u t b r i n g н
i n g t h e c h a r g e a g a i n s t any p a r t i c u l a r w r i t e r .
I n t h e 1756 volum e o f h i s e s s a y W arton made no g r e a t
p l e a f o r p o e t i c e n th u sia sm .
He s a i d , r e s e r v e d l y , t h a t . " .
tr u e p o e try a f t e r a l l , cannot w e ll s u b s is t, a t l e a s t i s never
so s t r i k i n g w i t h o u t a t i n c t u r e o f
e n
t h
u
s i a s m
. "
^
)
I n 1782
h e was more o u t s p o k e n , e x p r e s s i n g r e g r e t t h a t p o e t r y h ad
su ffered
? . b y d e s e r t i n g t h o s e f i e l d s o f f a n c y ,, an d by
96 I b i d . . I , 4 4 - 4 5 .
97 I b i d . . I , 2 0 .
98 I f c id . . I , 4 8 - 4 9 .
99 I b i d . . I , 4 2 .
100 I b i d . . I ,
320.
70
t o t a l l y l a y i n g a s i d e t h e d i s c r i p t i o n o f m ag ic an d e n c h a n t н
m e n t,
T h o se p a s s a g e s i n Thomsofc? s C a s t l e o f I n d o l e n c e
w h ic h h a v e b e e n c a l l e d m ost r o m a n ti c a r e h i g h l y p r a i s e d i n
t h e s e c o n d v o lu m e.
W arton a l s o sp o k e o f u s i n g a s t h e s u b j e c t
o f p o e t r y " d r u i d i c a l t i m e s an d t h e t r a d i t i o n s o f t h e o l d
b a r d s ? 1 0 2 ? a h i n t t h a t he was a l i v e t o t h e i n t e r e s t i n
m e d ie v a lis m ; a n d , r e f l e c t i n g t h e g ro w in g p a t r i o t i c s p i r i t , he
d e c l a r e d t h a t t h e F r e n c h c l a i m o f c o r r e c t n e s s by no means
d e n o t e d s u p e r i o r i t y i n p o e t i c a b i l i t y , a n d named s e v e r a l
E n g l i s h w r i t e r s who w e re e q u a l t o M o n ta ig n e a n d R o c h e f o u c a u lt
i n th e l e s s p o e t ic s p e c ie s o f co m p o sitio n .
^
3
W a rto n * s p r a i s e o f c o n te m p o r a r y p r e - r o m a n t i c v e r s e i s
n o ta b le .
He r e s e n t e d W a r b u r to n ? s i m p l i c a t i o n t h a t t h e g o ld e n
a g e o f E n g l i s h l i t e r a t u r e h a d come t o a n en d w i t h t h e d e a t h
o f P ope:
I am n o t p e r s u a d e d t h a t a l l t r u e g e n i u s d i e d w i t h
P o pe; and p re su m e t h a t t h e S e a s o n s o f Thomson, t h e
P l e a s u r e s o f I m a g i n a t i o n , an d Odes o f A k e n s id e , t h e
H ig h t- T h o u g h ts o f Young, t h e L e o n id a s o f G l o v e r , t h e
E le g y o f G ra y , t o g e t h e r w i t h many p i e c e s o f D o d s le y ? s
101
I b i d . . I I , 17.
^ 2 I b i d . л I I , 18-24.
He a l s o r e f e r r e d t o t h e h e r o i c
s p i r i t t h a t a S c a n d i n a v i a n poem e x h i b i t e d .
( I I , 2 6 -2 8 .)
H. D. M a c C lin to c k h a s shown how W arton *s i d e a s becam e more
p o s i t i v e l y r o m a n t i c and m ore c e r t a i n l y e x p r e s s e d i n t h e s u c d e s s i v e e d i t i o n s o f t h e E ssa y on P o p e .
( J o s e p h W a rto n 1s
E ssa v on P o p e . Jt H i s t o r y o f t h e F iv e E d i t i o n s . The U n i v e r н
s i t y o f H o r th C a r o l i n a f?r e s s , 1 9 3 3 .)
103 E ssay on P o p e. I I , 1 8 2 .
71
M i s c e l l a n i e s may p r o v e t h i s p o i n t .
T h i s l i s t i n c l u d e s some o f t h e m o st i m p o r t a n t p r e - r o m a n t i c
w o rk s .
A gain h e s a i d ,
T h e re a r e p a r t s an d p a s s a g e s i n o t h e r m odern a u t h o r s ,
*n Young a n d i n Thomson, f o r i n s t a n c e , e q u a l t o any o f
POPE; an d h e h a s w r i t t e n n o t h i n g i n a s t r a i n so t r u l y
s u b li m e , a s t h e B a rd o f G ra y . 3-05
A k e n sid e i s c a l l e d " . . .
d i d a c t i c p o e t who h a s h a p p i l y i n н
d u lg e d h i m s e l f i n b o l d e r f l i g h t s o f e n t h u s i a s m , s u p p o r t e d b y
a more f i g u r a t i v e s t y l e .
11
C o l l i n s a n d S h e n s to n e r e c e i v e v e r y
s c a n t y n o t i c e i n W arto n* s e s s a y .
He show ed a c o n s t a n t i n t e r н
e s t i n a tte m p ts to f u r t h e r ro m a n tic th e o r y , c i t i n g th e p r i n н
c i p l e o f G o th ic a r t a s g i v e n b y Thomas W arton and H urd, an d
c a l l i n g L o w th ? s i m p o r t a n t s tu d y o f Hebrew p o e t r y " t h e r i c h e s t
106
a u g m e n t a t i o n l i t e r a t u r e h a s l a t e l y r e c e i v e d . **
Of a l l
c o n te m p o r a r y p o e t s , i t was W arton who m ost o s t e n s i b l y t r i e d
to e s ta b lis h a p la c e fo r th e p re -ro m a n tic l i t e r a t u r e .
He was
p le a s e d w ith th e change t h a t had ta k e n p la c e s in c e th e days
when s a t i r e was p r e - e m i n e n t , r e m a r k in g t h a t nWe a l l remember
107
when even a C h u r c h i l l was more i n v og ue t h a n a G r a y . ?
On t h e q u e s t i o n o f m e t e r , W arton was a t f i r s t s u r p r i s -
104
I b i d . , I , 141.
105
I b i d . . I I , 481.
106
I b i d . . I , 14-15.
107
I b i d . . I I , 479.
72
i n g l y e l o q u e n t i n p r a i s e o f P o p e:
Upon t h e w h o le , t h e p r i n c i p l e m e r i t o f t h e PASTORALS
o f POPE c o n s i s t s , i n t h e i r c o r r e c t an d m u s i c a l v e r s i f i н
c a t i o n ; m u s i c a l , t o a d e g r e e o f w h ic h rhyme c o u l d h a r d l y
b e t h o u g h t c a p a b l e : a n d i n g i v i n g t h e f i r s t sp e c im e n o f
t h a t harmony i n E n g l i s h v e r s e , w h ich . . i n &a s ? * *
r e n d e r e d e v e r y m o d e r a te rh y m er m e l o d i o u s * 1 0 8
T h ro u g h c o n s t a n t s t u d y o f Dxyden, Pope "was e n a b l e d t o g i v e
t o rhyme a l l t h e harmony o f w h ich i t i s c a p a b l e . . . .
"1 0 9
T h i s u n q u a l i f i e d p r a i s e a r o s e , p r o b a b l y , o u t o f W a r t o n 's c o n н
s e r v a t i s m an d h i s f e e l i n g t h a t Pope m ust b e commended o n a t
l e a s t one s c o r e .
He d i d n o t , h o w e v e r, a g r e e t h a t t h e h e r o i c
c o u p l e t was a d v i s a b l e i n l o n g p o em s.
L ik e Young, h e acknowн
l e d g e d t h e p l a c e o f rim e i n s h o r t e r p oem s, b u t b e l i e v e d t h a t
b l a n k v e r s e was p r e f e r a b l e " f o r s u b j e c t s o f a h i g h e r o r d e r ,
o r f o r poem s o f a g r e a t e r l e n g t h . " ^ 3-о
He l a t e r d i s a g r e e d
w i t h P o p e ' s v ie w t h a t r im e was a n e c e s s a r y " s u p p o r t " t o g r e a t
p o e try ,
sa y in g t h a t ,
. . . m ore o f t h a t t r u e harmony w h ich w i l l b e s t
s u p p o r t a poem, w i l l r e s u l t from a v a r i e t y o f p a u s e s ,
and fro m an i n t e r m i x t u r e o f t h o s e d i f f e r e n t f e e t . . .
i n t o w hich o u r l a n g u a g e n a t u r a l l y f a l l s , t h a n fro m t h e
u n ifo rm ity o f s im ila r te rm in a tio n s . 1 1 1
TOfi
X b id . . I , 1 0 . I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g t o com pare P o p e ' s
re m a rk t h a t , '*T h e re i s s c a r c e a n y work o f m ine i n w h ic h t h e
v e r s i f i c a t i o n was more l a b o u r e d t h a n i n my p a s t o r a l s . "
J o s e p h S p e n c e , A n e c d o te s , p . 3 1 2 .
109
I b i d . , I , 82.
110
I b i d . . I I , 210-11.
111 I b i d . , I I , 213
73
T h i s v ie w i s s t a t e d much m ore b o l d l y i n Y o u n g 's C o n j e c t u r e s
o f 1759.
No a t t e m p t h a s b e e n made t o p r e s e n t t h e w h o le o f Wart o n ' s c r i t i c i s m , b u t h i s p l a c e i n t h e r i s e o f r o m a n ti c is m
s h o u ld b e e v i d e n t*
H is f i r s t p u b l i c c r i t i c i s m o f n e o c l a s s i c
p o e t r y was made o n ly two y e a r s a f t e r t h e d e a t h o f P o p e .
Ten
y e a r s l a t e r he s e t o u t t o p r o v e t h a t , a l t h o u g h Pope was
. . t h e g r e a t P o e t o f R e a so n , t h e F i r s t o f E t h i c a l a u t h o r s
i n v e r s e , " he was n o t sup rem e i n t h e " . . .
o f more g e n u i n e p o e t r y . "
lip
h ig h e r f l i g h t s
I n d o in g t h i s , W arton s t a t e d
c l e a r ly th e p r i n c ip l e o f p a r t i c u l a r i t y in d e s c r ip tio n , and
r e a s s e r t e d t h e p l a c e o f p o e t i c i m a g i n a t i o n a n d e n t h u s ia s m .
I n o t h e r ways he f o l l o w e d c u r r e n t t r e n d s ? t h e d e f e n s e o f
E n g l i s h a g a i n s t F re n c h s t y l e s , t h e " r e v i v a l " o f S p e n s e r and
M i l t o n , t h e L o n g in u s t r a i n o f t h o u g h t , a n d , t o a l e s s e r e x н
t e n t , t h e S c h o o l o f S e n s i b i l i t y an d t h e i n t e r e s t i n m e d ie v a l
life .
Thomas Gray
The e x t e n t o f J o s e p h W a r t o n 's r o m a n t i c i n t e r e s t s c a n
b e ju d g e d w i t h f a i r a c c u r a c y from h i s p r o s e a n d p o e t i c a l
w o rk s ; i n t h e c a s e o f Thomas G ra y , we r e q u i r e t h e p r i v a t e
112 I b i d . . I I , 279
74
e x p r e s s i o n o f o p i n i o n s and f e e l i n g s .
Bfray s p e n t h i s l i f e i n
r e t i r e m e n t and s t u d y , p u b l i s h i n g v e r y l i t t l e b e s i d e s h i s
p o e try .
R. D. H avens h a s r e m a rk e d t h a t G r a y 's poem s g i v e no
ev id en ce o f a c l o s e a c q u a in ta n c e w ith n a tu r e :
I f i t w e re n o t f o r G r a y ' s p r o s e , someone w o uld b e
w r i t i n g o f him , "The sh y r e c l u s e h a d no i n t e r e s t i n
n a t u r e e x c e p t i n h e r b r o a d , g e n e r a l a s p e c t s ; when he
speaks o f h er i t i s in th e s te re o ty p e d , c o n v e n tio n a l
p h r a s e o l o g y o f t h e d a y ; h e e v i d e n t l y knew h e r o n ly
t h r o u g h h i s b o o k s a n d f e l t l i t t l e o f t h e j o y o f wanн
d e rin g in th e f i e l d s . " H 3
We know t h a t t h i s i s a b s u r d , b u t we know i t o n l y b e c a u s e o f
r e m a r k s i n G r a y ' s l e t t e r s , w h ic h h a p p e n t o h a v e b e e n p r e н
serv ed .
T h is in s ta n c e i l l u s t r a t e s th e i m p o s s i b i l i t y o f
ju d g in g ro m a n tic f e e l i n g th ro u g h t h e p o e t r y a lo n e o f th e s e
w rite rs.
As G ray grew o l d e r , h i s p o e t r y became p r o g r e s s i v e l y
m ore r o m a n t i c i n s p i r i t .
From h i s c l a s s i c a l t r a i n i n g a t th e .
u n i v e r s i t y , h e a c q u i r e d c o n s i d e r a b l e s k i l l i n c o m p o sin g
L a t i n p o em s.
T h e re i s a m ore r o m a n ti c n o t e i n t h e E l e g y ,
o n e o f t h e m ost d i s t i n g u i s h e d o f t h e poems o f m e la n c h o ly .
An i n t e r e s t i n c l a s s i c a l v e r s e fo rm s i s com bined w i t h c e r t a i n
r o m a n t i c t e n d e n c i e s i n h i s o d e s , w h i l e h i s l a t e r poems a r e
among t h e m o st t r u l y r o m a n t i c o f t h e a g e , r e f l e c t i n g t h e
g r o w in g c o n c e r n w i t h N o r t h e r n , r a t h e r t h a n w i t h c l a s s i c a l ,
lite ra tu re .
113
p . 3 08 .
H is r o m a n t i c i s m was n o t t h e p r o d u c t o f a y o u t h -
R. D. H a v e n s, "R o m an tic A s p e c ts o f t h e Age o f P o p e ,"
75
f u l , u n c r i t i c a l e n t h u s i a s m , b u t came r a t h e r from h i s im m e d ia te
r e s p o n s e t o t h e new, f r e s h th e m e s t h a t w ere aw ak en in g l i t e r a н
t u r e o f t h e 1 7 6 0 's .
He was n o t an a p o s t l e o f t h e pseudd>-
r o m a n t i c i d e a s t h a t b e g a n t o b lo ss o m f o r t h i n t h e e a r l y 1 7 4 0 's ,
n o r d i d h e t a k e p a r t i n t h e d i s p u t e b e tw e e n n e o c l a s s i c an d
r o m a n ti c p o e t r y , a s J o s e p h W arton a n d Young h a d d o n e .
Wide
r e a d i n g and d eep l e a r n i n g g a v e G ray an e q u i l i b r i u m unm atch ed
b y an y o t h e r p o e t o f h i s t i m e ; h e p o s s e s s e d a c r i t i c a l acumen
t h a t l e f t him f r e e t o a c c e p t t h e go od i n e a c h k i n d o f p o e t r y .
T h i s f a c t becom es c l e a r o n l y t h r o u g h a r e a d i n g o f h i s l e t t e r s .
G r a y 's r e m a r k s on n e o c l a s s i c p o e t r y a r e n o t a b l e f o r
th e ir fa irn e ss .
I n h i s y o u th h e r e a d P o p e ' s v e r s e w i t h a
good d e a l o f p l e a s u r e .
The E p i s t l e t o D r. A r b u th n o t "charm ed"
114
him i n 1 7 3 5 .
I n 1742 h e re m a rk e d t h a t The D u n e ia d " . . .
i s g r e a t l y a d m ire d ," and c i t e d p a r t s a s b e in g
a s a n y t h i n g he h a s w r i t t e n . " ^ о
. . as fin e
He h a d a h i g h o p i n i o n o f
P o p e ' s t r a n s l a t i o n o f t h e I H i a d . an d c a l l e d him " . . .
f i n e s t W r i t e r , o n e o f th em , we e v e r h a d . "
th e
He r e a l i z e d h i s
human f r a i l t i e s :
. . . i t i s n o t from w hat h e t o l d me a b o u t h i m s e l f
t h a t I th o u g h t w e l l o f him , b u t from a H um anity & G oodness
o f H e a r t , a y , & G r e a t n e s s . . . o f Mind . . . , n o t l e s s
1 1 4 The C o r r e s p o n d e n c e o f Thomas G r a y .
E d i t e d by
P . Tonybee and L. W h i b l e y ( O x f o r d : C la r e n d o n P r e s s , 1 9 3 5 ) ,
p . 18.
115 ,
I b i d . , p . 189.
76
a p p a re n t t h a t a th o u sa n d l i t t l e V a n itie s & w eaknesses
m ixed w i t h t h o s e g oo d Q u a l i t i e s , f o r no bo dy e v e r to o k
him f o r a P h i l o s o p h e r . U S
T h i s s a n e o u t l o o k e n a b l e d him t o e n j o y P o p e 's s a t i r e w i t h o u t
t a k i n g him t o o s e r i o u s l y .
He h a d a l s o a h i g h o p i n i o n o f
D ry d en , who, h e s a i d , was r e s p o n s i b l e f o r any e x c e l l e n c e i n
h i s own p o e t r y , e s p e c i a l l y i n r e g a r d t o c h o i c e o f w o rd s and
v e rsific a tio n .
1 *1'7
We h a v e i t from N o rto n N i c h o l l s t h a t
He a d m ire d D ry d en , & c o u l d n o t p a t i e n t l y h e a r him
c ritic iz e d .
Absolom & A c h i t o p h e l & T h e o d o re & H o n o r ia
s t o o d i n t h e f i r s t r a n k o f poem s i n h i s e s t i m a t i o n , &
D r y d e n 's p l a y s n o t a s d r a m a t i c k c o m p o s i t i o n s b u t a s
p o e try . HB
H is h ig h e s tim a tio n o f t h i s k in d o f p o e tr y c o n t r a s t s w ith
J o s e p h W a rto n * s te n d e n c y t o d i s c r e d i t s a t i r e .
At t h e same
t i m e , G ray r e c o g n i z e d D r y d e n 's l i m i t a t i o n s i n t h e m ore p o e t i c a l v e in .
T h i s i s a p p a r e n t from a re m a rk on t h e t r a n s l a н
t i o n o f a b i t o f G reek v e r s e : " I do n o t s e e . . . why i t w i l l
n o t pro v e i t s p o in t as w e ll in a p la in p ro se t r a n s l a t i o n , as
i n t h e b e s t n um bers o f D ry d e n . "
119
A d d iso n , h e s a i d , h a d
" n o t above t h r e e o r f o u r n o t e s i n p o e t r y . "
129
I t w ou ld b e
i n c o r r e c t t o s a y t h a t G ray w as t o r n b e tw e e n a l o v e f o r c l a s -
116
I b i d . . p . 230.
117
I b i d . . p . 896.
118
I b i d . . p p . 1 2 9 0 -9 1 ( N o r to n N i c h o l l s ' R e m in is н
c e n c e s) .
119
120
I b i d . . p . 463.
I b i d . . p . 295.
77
s i c a l an d r o m a n t i c p o e t r y .
Of V o l t a i r e h e w r o t e :
b o d y l o v e s him b e t t e r t h a n I i n h i s g r a n d e r S t y l e .
". . . no121
He
11
was a n a r d e n t a d m i r e r o f R a c i n e ' s c l a s s i c a l t r a g e d y , a n d
m o d e le d h i s own d ram a, A g r i p p i n a , a f t e r B r i t a n n i c u s g
Nor was
h e above w r i t i n g a lo n g p h i l o s o p h i c a l t r e a t i s e i n v e r s e .
But
a l t h o u g h h e l o v e d t h e c l a s s i c a l s t y l e , h e knew an d a p p r e c i i
a te d a n o th e r k in d o f p o e tr y .
I n w r i t i n g a b o u t t h e good
c h a n c e s f o r s u c c e s s o f on e o f W a l p o l e 's p i e c e s o f s a t i r e
p u b l i s h e d i n D o d s l e y 's m i s c e l l a n y o f 1 7 4 8 , he made t h i s r e н
m ark : " . . .
f o r th o u g h . . . t h e s t i l l
s m a ll v o i c e o f P o e t r y
was n o t made t o b e h e a r d i n a crow d; y e t S a t i r e w i l l b e
h e a r d , f o r a l l th e a u d ie n c e a r e by n a t u r e h e r f r i e n d s . "
122
And y e t e v e n h e r e t h e r e i s no r e s e n t m e n t a g a i n s t s a t i r e a s a
s p e c ie s o f p o e try .
I f t h e n e o c l a s s i c a l w r i t e r s w ere bound t o a s t r i c t
o b s e r v a t i o n o f t h e " r u l e s " a s e s t a b l i s h e d by t h e a n c i e n t s , i t
i s c l e a r t h a t G ray s h a r e d n o n e o f t h e i r s e r v i l i t y .
One r e a н
so n was ja e rh a p s t h a t h e h a d r e a d them f i r s t h a n d .
I n 1746 he
r e a d A r i s t o t l e ' s P o e t i c s i n t h e G re e k , an d fo u n d an "a b u n d a n c e
o f f i n e uncommon T h i n g s , " and t h a t t h e work h a d s u f f e r e d
g r e a t l y from " t r a n s c r i b b l e r s . "
121
Ifrid . . p . 282.
132
I b i d . , p . 296.
123
I f r i d . . p . 241.
?I 0 * 2
A re m a rk on a b a l l a d he
h a d b e e n r e a d i n g shows h i s c r i t i c a l common s e n s e :
I h a v e g o t t h e o l d S c o tc h b a l l a d , on w ch D o u g la s
was f o u n d e d , i t i s d i v i n e . . . . A r i s t o t l e ?s b e s t
r u l e s a r e o b s e r v e d i n a m a n n e r, t h a t shew s t h e A u th o r
n e v e r had h e a rd o f A r i s t o t l e . 1 2 4
T h is i s b o th a r e c o g n i tio n o f t h e j u s t i c e o f a r i s t o t l e ' s
p r i n c i p l e s an d a r e b u k e t o t h e m e th o d o f w r i t i n g by r u l e .
A n o th e r t i m e , when Jam es B e a t t i e i n c o r p o r a t e d a l y r i c a l p a s н
s a g e i n h i s l e n g t h y poem, The M i n s t r e l . Gray f o r g a v e t h e
i m p r o p r i e t y i n t h e s e w o rd s : ??R u l e s a r e b u t c h a i n s , good f o r
little ,
e x c e p t when o n e c a n b r e a k t h r o u g h them ; an d w hat i s
f i n e g i v e s me so much p l e a s u r e , t h a t I n e v e r r e g a r d w hat
p l a c e i t i s i n . ? "1-2о No o t h e r p o e t o f h i s tim e e x h i b i t e d t h e
keen c r i t i c a l
se n se t h a t th e s e rem ark s r e v e a l .
Some w ere to o
o b s e r v a n t, o t h e r s to o o b l i v i o u s , o f t h e R u les o f l i t e r a t u r e .
G r a y ' s a d m i r a t i o n o f S p e n s e r a n d M i l t o n was common f o r
h i s tim e .
He l i k e d t h e rh y th m and e x p r e s s i o n o f M i l t o n ? s
m in o r p o em s, a n d i t
i s s a i d h e ? . . . n e v e r s a t down t o comн
p o se p o e t r y w ith o u t r e a d in g S p en ser f o r a c o n s id e r a b le tim e
p r e v i o u s l y . w12^
He f e l t v e r y l i t t l e
p r e - r o m a n t i c s , h o w e v e r.
k in s h ip w ith h i s f e llo w
He showed no p a r t i a l i t y to w a r d t h e
new p o e t r y o f t h e 1 7 4 0 ? s , an d o f t h e a v e r a g e l o t , a s c o n н
t a i n e d i n D o d s l e y 's c o l l e c t i o n s , h e w r o t e :
" I say , M e ssie u rs
124
I b i d . , p p . 5 0 4 -0 5 .
125
I*>ld. . p . 1 1 6 9 .
126
I b i d . . p . 1 1 7 1 , an d p . 1290 ( N i c h o l l s ? R e m in is -
t h i s i s n o t t h e t h i n g ; w r i t e p r o s e , w r i t e s e rm o n s , w r i t e
n o th in g a t a l l .
. . ." 1 2 7
jje d i s l i k e d A k e n s i d e 's p o e t r y i n
g e n e r a l , a n d o n c e e x c l a i m e d , "D r. A k e n sid e i s i n a d e p l o r a b l e
128
w a y ."
He c o n s i d e r e d r e d u n d a n c y o f t h o u g h t a g r e a t f a u l t
i n Y o u n g 's U ig h t T h o u g h ts . ^
28
U n lik e t h e " c r i t i c a l t r i b e " o f
L ondon, h e a d m ire d S h e n s t o n e 's " S c h o o l m i s t r e s s , " a n d c a l l e d
it
" m a s te rly " o f i t s k in d .-^ O
sto n e " . . .
He l a t e r c o m p la in e d t h a t S h e n -
t r u s t s t o n a t u r e a n d s i m p l e s e n t i m e n t , why d o e s
h e do no b e t t e r ?
he g o e s h o p p in g a l o n g h i s own g r a v e l - w a l k s ,
a n d n e v e r d e v i a t e s fro m t h e b e a t e n p a t h s f o r f e a r o f b e i n g
l o s t . " - * '3^
J . W a r t o n 's e a r l y e f f u s i o n , The E n t h u s i a s t , s u p н
p o s e d t o b e a b u g l e c r y t o f e l l o w r o m a n t i c i s t s , i s m e r e ly
182
m e n tio n e d b y G ray a s a p i e c e o f " p u r e d e s c r i p t i o n . " x
. H is
d r i t i c i s m o f C o l l i n 's odes i s r a t h e r u n a p p re c ia tiv e .
He s a i d
t h e y show " . . . a
f i n e f a n c y , m o d e l 'd upon t h e A n tiq u e , a
b a d E a r , g r e a t V a r i e t y o f W ords, & Im ag e s w i t h no C h o ic e a t
a ll."
He t h o u g h t C o l l i n s a n d J . W arton " . . .
l a s t some y e a r s , b u t w i l l n o t . "
127
I b i d . . p p . 297-98.
128
I b i d . . p . 5 66 .
I t>id. . p . 12 9 2 .
130
.
I b i d . . p . 2 95 .
129
151
I b i d . . p . 566.
132
. P . 224.
133
I b i d . . p . 2 61 .
133
d eserv e to
Thomson e x c e l l s a t d e s -
80
c r i b i n g n a t u r e , b u t , G ray a d d s , " .
. . when h e v e n t u r e d t o
s t e p o u t o f t h i s p a t h ; & p a r t i c u l a r l y when h e a t t e m p t e d t o
b e m o r a l , h e a lw a y s becam e v e r b o s e . ?
*
T here i s no c e n s u r e
h e re o f m o r a liz in g , b u t o n ly o f v e r b o s it y .
D y e r?s ro m a n tic q u a l i t i e s i s u n u su a l:
H is p r a i s e o f
"Mr* D yer ( h e r e you
w i l l d e s p i s e me h i g h l y ) h a s more o f p o e t r y i n h i s i m a g i n a t i o n ,
t h a n a lm o s t an y o f o u r num ber; b u t ro u g h an d i n j u d i c i o u s . "
?1'3 5
G ra y , l i k e P o p e , d i f f e r e d from m ost o f t h e p r e - r o m a n t i c p o e t s
in h is d is l ik e o f d e s c r ip tiv e p o e try :
"As t o d e s c r i p t i o n , I
h a v e a lw a y s t h o u g h t t h a t i t made t h e m o st g r a c e f u l o rn am en t
o f p o e t r y , b u t n e v e r o u g h t t o make t h e s u b j e c t .
35
A ll h i s
l i f e G ray p o s s e s s e d a g r e a t l o v e o f w i l d n a t u r a l b e a u t y .
In
h i s y o u th i t was t h e g r a n d e u r o f t h e A lp s t h a t a r o u s e d h i s
e n t h u s i a s m , a n d i n l a t e r l i f e t h e S c o tc h H ig h la n d s and t h e
L ake C o u n tr y .
He r e b u k e d h i s f r i e n d Mason f o r n o t com ing t o
t h e H ig h la n d s f o r i n s p i r a t i o n :
. . . a f i g f o r your P o e ts, P a in te r s , G a rd in e rs, &
C lerg y m en , t h a t h a v e n o t b e e n among them : t h e i r im a g in н
a t i o n c a n b e made up o f n o t h i n g b u t b o w l i n g - g r e e n s ,
flo w e rin g sh ru b s, h o rse -p o n d s, F l e e t - d i t c h e s , s h e l l g r o tto e s , & C h in e e -ra ils .1 3 7
H e re i s a l i s t o f some o f t h e f a v o r i t e
1 34 i b i d , t p .
1291
(H ic h o lls* R e m in isc e n c e s) .
135
I b i d . ? PP. 255-56.
136
Ib id ..
137
I b i d . . p . 899.
p . 1140.
"ro m an tic" r e t r e a t s
81
o f t h e A u g u s ta n s , i n c l u d i n g t h o s e o f Mr. Pope h i m s e l f .
H i s e n t h u s i a s m otoer M a c p h e r s o n f s poems i s a l s o fam н
ilia r.
I n M arch, 1 7 6 0 , h e was ?ch arm ed" w i t h t h e f i r s t
s p e c im e n s , a n d t h e n o f t h e F ra g m e n ts o f A n c ie n t P o e t r y h e
e x c l a i m e d , " I am g o ne mad a b o u t th em .
. . .
I was so s t r u c k ,
so e x t a s i ^ w i t h t h e i r i n f i n i t e b e a u t y , t h a t I w r i t i n t o
S c o t l a n d t o make a t h o u s a n d e n q u i r i e s . "
was " . . .
He s a i d M acp h erso n
t h e v e r y Demon o f P o e t r y , o r h e h a s l i g h t e d o n a
t r e a s u r e h i d f o r a g e s . " 13о H is s c h o l a r s h i p t o l d him t h e
poem s w e re c o u n t e r f e i t , o r c e r t a i n l y n o t a n c i e n t , b u t t h e i r
b e a u t y was so g r e a t t h a t h e c o u l d n o t h e l p t h i n k i n g them
g en u in e.
A r e v i s i o n made i n h i s E le g y f u r n i s h e s o n e o f t h e
c l e a r e s t e x a m p le s o f t h e g ro w in g n a t i o n a l i s m i n E n g l i s h
p o e t r y : G ray s u b s t i t u t e d t h e nam es o f Hampden, Crom w ell and
M ilto n f o r t h e i r L a tin p r e d e c e s s o r s .
He d i d n o t , h o w e v e r,
show t h e a n t i p a t h y t o F r e n c h p o e t r y t h a t was common, a l t h o u g h
h e o n c e a d m i t t e d , "The la n g u a g e o f t h e a g e i s n e v e r t h e l a n н
g u a g e o f p o e t r y ; e x c e p t among t h e F r e n c h . . . . л 1 3 9
From h i s
few r e m a rk s on m e t e r , i t i s c l e a r t h a t h e d i d n o t s y m p a th iz e
w i t h t h e g ro w in g p o p u l a r i t y o f b l a n k v e r s e .
T h is i s n o t t o
b e t a k e n a s a s i g n o f c o n s e r v a t i s m , f o r G ray was a f a r b e t t e r
138
I b i d . . p p . 679-80.
139
Ifrid- .
P.
132.
82
s t u d e n t o f m e t e r t h a n t h e s c o r e s o f p o e t s who u s e d t h e new
f o rm .
H is r e m a r k s on M i l t o n ' s o c t o s y l l a b i c s show how f a r he
w as a h e a d o f t h e c a u t i o u s a d v a n c e s o f J . W a rto n , S h e n s to n e ,
o r Young:
The more we a t t e n d t o t h e c o m p o s i t i o n o f M i l t o n ' s
harm ony, t h e m ore we s h a l l b e s e n s i b l e how h e l o v e d t o
v a r y h i s p a u s e s , h i s m e a s u r e s , and h i s f e e t , w h ic h g i v e s
t h a t e n c h a n t i n g a i r o f fre e d o m and w i l d n e s s t o h i s v e r н
s i f i c a t i o n , u n c o n f i n e d b y an y r u l e s b u t t h o s e w h ic h h i s
own f e e l i n g and t h e n a t u r e o f h i s s u b j e c t dem anded. Thus
h e m ix e s t h e l i n e o f e i g h t s y l l a b l e s w i t h t h a t o f s e v e n ,
t h e S pondee w i t h t h e I a m b ic f o o t , a n d t h e s i n g l e rhyme
w ith th e d o u b le .1 ^ 0
I n summary, i t may be s a i d t h a t G r a y 's r e m a r k s a b o u t
p o e t r y , ev e n m ore t h a n h i s p o e t i c a l w o rk s , show him t o b e a
man a h e a d o f h i s t i m e .
H is c o n t e m p o r a r i e s seem t o b e l o n g
m ore n a t u r a l l y t o a p e r i o d when l i t e r a t u r e was i n a s t a t e o f
f lu x ; t h e i r c r i t i c a l aw aren ess o f th e changes ta k in g p l a c e i s
o f t e n c o n f u s e d , and t h e y t u r n from one t r a d i t i o n o f l i t e r a н
t u r e t o a n o t h e r w i t h o u t an y s u r e s e n s e o f d i r e c t i o n .
G ray
seem s f a r more d e t a c h e d from t h e t u r m o i l ; fro m h i s s c h o l a r ' s
c h a i r h e w as f r e e t o a c c e p t w i t h d u e r e g a r d a l l k i n d s o f
l i t e r a t u r e w i t h o u t a n a p p e a r a n c e o f c o n s c i o u s n e s s o f awkwardн
ness.
140 " o b s e r v a t i o n s on E n g l i s h M e t r e , " The Works o f
Thomas G ra y , e d i t e d by Edmund G o sse (London: M a c m illa n an d
Company, 1 8 8 4 ) .
CHAPTER IV
CONCLUSIONS
The g e n e r a l d i r e c t i o n o f t h i s s t u d y h a s b e e n t o c o n f ir m
t h e o p i n i o n t h a t r o m a n t i c i s m d i d n o t d e v e lo p o u t o f a c o n f l i c t
w ith n e o c la s s ic is m .
F o r p u r p o s e s o f summary* t h e m a jo r p r e -
r o m a n t i c p o e t s may b e d i v i d e d i n t o two g r o u p s ? t h o s e who
f o r m a l l y c r i t i c i z e d n e o c l a s s i c v e r s e , a n d t h o s e who d i d n o t .
The f o r m e r g r o u p i n c l u d e s f i v e nam es: A lla n Ramsay, Thomson,
S h e n s t o n e , J o s e p h W a rto n , an d Young.
Of t h e s e , o n l y Ramsay
a n d Thomson, men o f t h e o l d e r g e n e r a t i o n , w r o t e t h e i r c r i t i ?
cism d u r i n g t h e l i f e t i m e o f P o p e .
R am say ? s p r e f a c e t o t h e
E v er G re en (1 7 3 4 ) came so o n a f t e r h i s poem , t h e G e n t l e Shepн
h e r d ; T h o m so n 's p r e f a c e t o W in te r (1 7 3 6 ) c e n s u r e d t h e p e t t i н
n e s s o f c o n te m p o r a r y v e r s e , p r o c l a i m e d t h e g l o r i e s o f n a t u r e ,
a n d i s s u e d a c a l l f o r e n t h u s ia s m and g r e a t e r s e r i o u s n e s s .
In
t h e c a s e o f Thomson a n d o f two o t h e r s , J o s e p h W arton an d
S h e n s to n e , c e n s u r e o f c u r r e n t v e r s e a c c o m p a n ie d p u b l i c a t i o n
of p o e try .
I n t h e p r e f a c e t o h i s Odes o f 1 7 4 6 , W arton o b н
j e c t e d t o t h e d i d a c t i c a n d m o r a l i z i n g e le m e n t i n p o e t r y , an d
c a l l e d f o r g r e a t e r e x e r c i s e o f th e im a g in a tio n and fa n c y .
S h e n sto n e , i n o r about 1748, d efen d ed h i s c h o ic e o f th e
q u a tra in r a t h e r th a n th e h e ro ic c o u p le t in h is e l e g ie s .
i s n o t n e c e s s a r i l y s i g n i f i c a n t t h a t s u c h c r i t i c a l r e m a rk s
o n l y r a r e l y a c c o m p a n ie d p o e t i c c o m p o s i t i o n .
The y o u n g e r
It
.
84
g e n e r a t i o n o f p o e t s , w i t h t h e e x c e p t i o n o f G ra y , w r o t e t h e i r
p o e t r y when t h e y w ere y o u n g , and t h e r e f o r e d u r i n g t h e p e r i o d
o f P o p e 's g r e a t e s t i n f l u e n c e .
L a t e r , when t h e y f o r m u l a t e d
m ore d e f i n i t e i d e a s on p o e t r y , t h e y w e re no l o n g e r w r i t i n g
v e r s e i n w h ich t o i n c o r p o r a t e t h e s e new i d e a s .
T h e se few e a r l y ex a m p le s o f c r i t i c i s m w r i t t e n i n c o n -*
j u n c t i o n w i t h p o e t r y w e re n o t b e l l i g e r e n t i n t o n e .
Except
i n S h e n s t o n e 's m i l d p r o p o s a l , t h e y c o n t a i n no r e f e r e n c e t o
in d iv id u a l n e o c la ssic w r ite r s .
To b e s u r e , t h e r e i s i n e a c h
o f them a c o n s c i o u s n e s s o f some d e f i c i e n c y i n A u g u sta n v e r s e .
Ramsay a n d Thomson w ere d e f i n i t e l y d i s s a t i s f i e d w i t h c e r t a i n
p h a s e s o f c o n te m p o r a r y p o e t r y , a n d S h e n s t o n e 's arg u m e n t f o r
a d i f f e r e n t v e r s e form a r o s e o u t o f t h e f a c t t h a t h e was
w r itin g not th e p o e try o f re a so n , b u t th e p o e try o f se n tim e n t,
J o s e p h W a r t o n 's a t t a c k on n e o c l a s s i c v e r s e was t h e m ost s e н
r i o u s , a n d h e w r o t e h i s poems avow edly i n t h e s p i r i t o f r e н
fo rm .
H is p r e f a c e t o t h e Odes on V a r io u s S u b j e c t s i s t h e
o n ly c l o s e ap p ro ach to t h e co m b in atio n o f c r i t i c a l f a i t h and
p o e t r y t h a t made L y r i c a l B a l l a d s su c h a monument i n l i t e r a r y
h isto ry .
B ut t h e amount o f p u r e l y t r a d i t i o n a l d o c t r i n e
f o u n d i n a l l t h e s e e x a m p le s i s f a r m ore s i g n i f i c a n t t h a n any
" re v o lu tio n a ry " te n d e n c ie s.
T h e re a r e two p i e c e s o f f o r m a l c r i t i c i s m w r i t t e n su b н
s e q u e n t t o t h e m ain p o e t i c c o n t r i b u t i o n ? J o s e p h W a r t o n 's
E s s a y on Pope (1 7 5 6 ) an d Y o u n g 's C o n j e c t u r e s on O r i g i n a l
C o m p o s itio n (1 7 5 9 )?
T h ese w o rk s , t h e m o st h o s t i l e t o n e o н
c l a s s i c v e r s e , w e re w r i t t e n more t h a n a d e c a d e a f t e r P o p e 's
d e a t h , by men who h a d a b a n d o n e d t h e i r p r o f e s s i o n s a s p o e t s .
Y o u n g 's e s s a y i s o f m in o r im p o r t a n c e i n t h i s s t u d y b e c a u s e
i t i s p r i m a r i l y t h e work o f a c r i t i c ,
tiv e p o e t.
r a t h e r th a n o f a c r e a н
T h e r e i s no e v i d e n c e t h a t h e h e l d t h e o p i n i o n s
e x p r e s s e d in . h i s C o n j e c t u r e s when h e w r o t e t h e N ig h t T h o u g h ts
i n 1742; t h e s e o p i n i o n s seem r a t h e r t o b e a d o p t e d from t h e
c r i t i c s o f th e 1 7 5 0 's .
W a r t o n 's e s s a y i s f a r more i m p o r t a n t ,
b e c a u s e o f p r i o r i t y an d b e c a u s e i t i s a r e s t a t e m e n t and e x н
t e n s i o n o f p r i n c i p l e s by w h ic h he h a d w r i t t e n h i s p o e t r y .
It
made him t h e c r i t i c a l l e a d e r o f t h e p r e - r o m a n t i c movement.
The r e l a t i o n o f h i s e s s a y t o h i s p o e t r y a n d t o t h e w h o le body
o f p r e - r o m a n t i c v e r s e w as v e r y c l o s e .
t h e spokesm an o f t h e a g e , s h a r i n g i t s
c a u tio n s.
He w a s, i n a s e n s e ,
e n t h u s i a s m s an d i t s
I t was he who t r i e d t o e s t a b l i s h a p l a c e f o r t h e
l e s s d i d a c t i c and s a t i r i c a l m id d l e - o f - th e - c e n tu r y v e r s e ,
w h ich h e c o n s i d e r e d e q u a l o r s u p e r i o r t o P o p e ' s .
Young was
n o t so e n t h u s i a s t i c a d e f e n d a n t o f c o n te m p o r a r y v e r s e , w h ich
n e v e r r e a c h e d t h e e p i c a l p r o p o r t i o n s t h a t he a d m ir e d , b u t
t o g e t h e r t h e s e two men s t a n d a s f o r e m o s t c r i t i c s o f t h e S c h o o l
o f Pope.
From t h e c r i t i c i s m o f n e o c l a s s i c p o e t r y t h a t was ex н
p r e s s e d th r o u g h p r i v a t e c h a n n e l s , one i m p o r t a n t c o n c l u s i o n
c a n b e draw n: t h e r o m a n t i c i s m o f t h e m i d - e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y
86
p o e t c a n n o t b e m e a su re d i n t e r m s o f h i s o p p o s i t i o n to n e o c l a s s i c i s m how ever e x p r e s s e d .
Nor i s i t p e r h a p s t o o much t o
s a y t h a t t h o s e men who c o n t r i b u t e d m o st t o t h e c a u s e o f t h e
R o m antic Movement w ere t h e l e a s t c r i t i c a l o f t h e Age o f Pope
? a f a c t w h ic h , i f t r u e , c e r t a i n l y c o n t r o v e r t s t h e c o n c e p t
o f c o n f l i c t b e tw e e n t h e two s c h o o l s o f l i t e r a t u r e .
I t has
b e e n m e n tio n e d t h a t J o s e p h W arton a n d Young w e re t h e f o r e m o s t
c r i t i c s o f n e o c l a s s i c i s m ; i n c o n t r a s t t o them s t a n d G ra y ,
S h e n s to n e and Thomas W arto n .
The l a t t e r two w ere l e a s t c e n н
s o r i o u s o f A u g u sta n v e r s e , an d G ray was even s y m p a t h e t i c
to w a rd s i t .
C u r i o u s l y en o u g h , i t was t h e y who w e re m ost
a t t r a c t e d t o r o m a n t i c i s m , an d who m o st a c t i v e l y c o n t r i b u t e d
t o i t s g r o w th ? G ray i n h i s l a t e r p o em s, Thomas W arton i n h i s
u n f a i l i n g i n t e r e s t i n t h e m id d le a g e s &nd i n u n f a s h i o n a b l e
v e r s e , a n d b o t h G ray an d S h e n s to n e i n t h e i r e n t h u s i a s t i c s u p н
p o r t o f o l d b a l l a d p o e t r y a n d t h e w o rk s o f M a cp h erso n .
They
w e re l e s s c o n c e r n e d w i t h f i n d i n g f a u l t w i t h t h e o l d t h a n i n
lo o M n g f o r new s o u r c e s o f p l e a s u r e .
J o s e p h W a r t o n 's c o n н
t r i b u t i o n w a s, o f c o u r s e , a n e s s e n t i a l o n e , b u t r o m a n t i c i s m
c o u ld h a rd ly have p ro g re s s e d w ith o u t t h a t d eep er f e e l in g
s h a r e d b y t h e s e t h r e e men.
I t i s in s tr u c tiv e in t h i s re sp e c t
t o com pare J o s e p h W a rto n * s and G r a y 's t r e a t m e n t o f D y e r 's
p o e try .
W arton p r a i s e d D yer f o r h i s a b i l i t y i n i n t r o d u c i n g
m o r a l s e n t i m e n t s i n t o d e s c r i p t i v e v e r s e , w h i l e G ra y , a t t h e
r i s k o f b e in g r i d i c u l e d , d e c la re d he had " . . .
m ore o f p o e t r y
87
i n h i s i m a g i n a t i o n , t h a n a lm o s t any o f o u r n u m b er. . . . "
F u r t h e r m o r e , i t was G ra y and S h e n s to n e who w e re m o st c r i t i c a l ,
o f tfee s e m i - c o n v e n t i o n a l p r e - r o m a n t i c v e r s e t h a t J o s e p h Warн
t o n so e n e r g e t i c a l l y e x t o l l e d a t t h e e x p e n s e o f A u g u sta n
p o e try .
W arton d e s c r i b e d A k e n s id e , one o f t h e m ost c o n s e r v a н
t i v e o f t h e new w r i t e r s , a s a p o e t H. . . who h a s h a p p i l y
in d u lg e d h im s e lf i n b o ld e r f l i g h t s o f e n th u sia sm , s u p p o rte d
b y a m ore f i g u r a t i v e s t y l e .
11
To S h e n s to n e , A k e n s i d e 1 s w ork
r e p r e s e n t e d t h e acme o f " a r t 11 and " t a s t e , " w h i l e h e an d t h e
p u b l i c w e re dem anding t h e " . . .
s t r i k i n g e f f e c t s o f w ild ,
o r i g i n a l , e n t h u s i a s t i c g e n i u s " w h ic h t h e poems o f M acp h erson
su p p lie d .
S r a y a l s o fo u n d t h e m i d d l e - o f - t h e - c e n t u r y v e r s e
u n i n t e r e s t i n g , b u t t h e O s s i a n i c poem s, w h ic h W arton s c a r c e l y
m e n tio n e d , i n t e r e s t e d him g r e a t l y .
I n r e g a r d to i n d i v i d u a l w r i t e r s , t h i s s t u d y t e n d s to
m a g n ify t h e i m p o r ta n c e o f two p o e t s , S h e n s to n e and G ray , i n
th e r i s e of ro m a n tic ism .
It
show s, a t l e a s t , t h a t t h e i r
p o e t r y i s n o t an a c c u r a t e s t a n d a r d b y w h ich t o j u d g e t h e i r
re s p o n s e to ro m a n tic i n t e r e s t s .
A p e r u s a l o f S h e n s to n e * s
poem s w ould n e v e r r e v e a l h i s i m p a t i e n c e w i t h t h e c o n s e r v a t i v e
a d v a n c e s made by t h e p r e - r o m a n t i c p o e t s , n o r t h a t h e s h a r p l y
d i s a g r e e d w i t h c e r t a i n n e o c l a s s i c p r i n c i p l e s when h e p u b l i s h e d
h i s S c h o o lm is tre s s i n 1742.
T h e se f a c t s , , t o g e t h e r w i t h h i s
s u p p o r t o f t h e q u a t r a i n i n 1 7 4 8 , e n t i t l e S h e n s to n e t o a someн
w h at h i g h e r p o s i t i o n t h a n i s u s u a l l y a c c o r d e d him .
The l e t н
t e r s o f G ray p l a c e him a p a r t from t h e o t h e r p r e - r o m a n t i c
w r i t e r s , and show t h a t r o m a n ti c is m a n d n e o c l a s s i c i s m w ere n o t
i n c o m p a t i b l e i n h i s m in d .
He a d m ire d much o f t h e v e r s e t h a t
J o s e p h W arton w o rk ed h a r d t o d i s c r e d i t ,
and y e t he. r e s p o n d e d
w i t h f a r g r e a t e r e n t h u s i a s m t o t h e r o m a n t i c im p u ls e t h a t
M a cp h erso n p r o v i d e d i n 1 7 6 0 .
The r o m a n t i c p u r p o s e f u l n e s s o f
t h o s e p o e t s who a r e n o t r e p r e s e n t e d by p e r s o n a l c o r r e s p o n н
d e n c e i s s t i l l t o a l a r g e e x t e n t unknown.
G ray a n d J o s e p h
W arton we know f a i r l y w e l l ; b u t t h e i n n e r f e e l i n g s o f su c h
men a s C o l l i n s , A k e n s id e , Thomas W a rto n , and p o s s i b l y Young
s t i l l r e m a in a m y s t e r y .
A ll o f t h e p r e - r o m a n t i c p o e t s w e re i n t e r e s t e d i n t h e
new t r e n d s t h a t l e d t h e way t o t h e R o m an tic Movement? t h e
in c r e a s e d i n t e r e s t i n n a t u r e , i n b a l l a d p o e t r y , i n m e d ie v a lн
ism an d G o th ic is m , i n t h e work o f M a c p h e rso n , i n t h e S ch o o l
o f S e n tim e n t a n d o f M e la n c h o ly , a n d i n new v e r s e f o rm s .
The
p a t r i o t i c f e e l i n g a f f e c t e d i n some way t h e g r o w th o f a l m o s t
a l l th e se tre n d s .
I t i n f l u e n c e d t h e r e v o l t a g a i n s t dom inaн
t i o n o f F re n c h l i t e r a r y s t y l e s a n d c r i t i c i s m .
A k e n sid e u r g e d
t h a t E n g l i s h d ra m a t u r n t o S h a k e s p e a r e r a t h e r t h a n t o t h e
e sample o f t h e F r e n c h .
J o s e p h W arton d e c l a r e d t h a t t h e
? c o r r e c t n e s s ? c l a i m e d b y F r e n c h w r i t e r s was n o t a t o k e n o f
s u p e r i o r i t y , a n d c e n s u r e d V o l t a i r e a l o n g w i t h Pope f o r w r i t н
in g in g e n e r a l i t i e s .
Thomson l i n k e d b l a n k v e r s e a n d t h e
M i l t o n i c s t y l e w i t h ?B r i t i s h f re e d o m ? i n c o n t r a s t t o s u b m is -
s i o n t o F r e n c h f o r m s , a n d Young, t a k i n g h i s c u e from Thomson,
l a t e r l a u n c h e d an a t t a c k on t h e E n g l i s h h e r o i c c o u p l e t a s
p r a c t i c e d by Pope.
I t was t h e p a t r i o t i c f e e l i n g t h a t p r o m p tн
ed R am say? s p l e a f o r o l d n a t i v e p o e t r y , and t h e r e s p o n s e t o
h i s p l e a l e d t h e way, t o t h e s u c c e s s o f P e r c y ? s R e l i q u e s and
t o t h e i n c r e a s e d i n t e r e s t i n m e d ie v a l l i f e and G o th ic a r t .
I t was a l s o p a t r i o t i s m
t h a t l e d Ramsay t o p r o t e s t a g a i n s t t h e
s t y l e , common i n n e o c l a s s i c p a s t o r a l p o e t r y , o f d e s c r i b i n g
t h e E n g l i s h c o u n t r y s i d e w i t h G reek an d L a t i n nam es.
Joseph
W arton l a t e r e x p a n d e d t h i s p o i n t , u r g i n g t h a t t h o s e who w r i t e
o f n a t u r e do so o n ly from f i r s t h an d e x p e r i e n c e .
I n S henн
s t o n e , t h e i n t e r e s t i n G o th ic is m was a l l i e d w i t h t h e n a t i o n a l
f e e l i n g : h e c h o s e E n g l i s h m o t t o e s f o r h i s G o th ic b u i l d i n g .
The v a r i o u s r o m a n t i c t r e n d s w e r e , q u i t e n a t u r a l l y , n o t
o f eq u a l i n t e r e s t to a l l th e p o e t s , n o r d id th e y n e c e s s a r i l y
im p ly an im m e d ia te a d v a n c e f o r r o m a n t i c i s m .
A k e n sid e was
a p p a r e n t l y n o t a t t r a c t e d b y Thomson? s c o n c e p t i o n o f n a t u r e
o r by t h e b a l l a d s a n d O s s i a n i c p o e t r y ;
S h e n s to n e h a d no deep
f e e l i n g f o r n a t u r e o r n a t u r e - p o e t r y ; Young was n o t a l l i e d
w i t h t h e S c h o o l o f S e n s i b i l i t y , a n d J o s e p h W arton showed no
g r e a t i n t e r e s t i n b a l l a d s o r i n M a c p h e rso n .
Thomas W arton
an d Gray w e re t h e m ost c a t h o l i c i n t h e i r t a s t e s f o r t h e r o н
m a n tic .
E o r i s i t c o r r e c t t o assu m e t h a t an i n t e r e s t i n
t h e s e t r e n d s n e c e s s a r i l y m eant an im m e d ia te a d v a n c e f o r r o н
m a n tic is m .
S h e n s t o n e ? s l o v e o f P e r c y ' s b a l l a d s was acco m -
90
p a n i e d b y a d e s i r e t o make them a s " e l e g a n t " a s p o s s i b l e .
Thomas W a rto n , i n e d i t i n g a c o l l e c t i o n o f o l d S c o tc h poem s,
r a n k e d t h e o l d p o e t r y much lo w e r i n v a l u e a n d d i g n i t y t h a n
Ramsay h a d .d o n e some t h i r t y y e a r s b e f o r e .
I n h i s O bservaн
t i o n s on t h e F a i r y Queen h e f a i l e d t o d e f e n d S p e n s e r i n a
way t h a t m ig h t h a v e e n c o u r a g e d r o m a n t i c p o e t r y , a n d a d o p t e d
a c o n v e n t i o n a l a t t i t u d e to w a r d much o f S p e n s e r * s w o rk .
J o s e p h W arton was i n t e r e s t e d i n G o th ic is m a n d G o th ic a r t ,
b u t a p p a r e n t l y o n ly b e c a u s e o f h i s i n t e r e s t i n l a n d s c a p e
g a r d e n i n g , w h e re t h e p r i n c i p l e o f d e v i a t i o n fro m c l a s s i c
u n i f o r m i t y was b e i n g c o n v e n t i o n a l l y t r e a t e d .
He p r a i s e d
Thom son? s d e s c r i p t i o n s o f n a t u r e a s i n s t a n c e s o f t h e c u r r e n t
v og ue f o r " i r r e g u l a r i t y , " a n d a d d e d t h a t M i l t o n a n d Pope
c o n t r i b u t e d g r e a t l y t o t h i s d ev e lo p m e n t i n m odern t a s t e .
S h e n s to n e was a n o t h e r c u l t i v a t o r o f i r r e g u l a r i t y ;
a ls o he
a s s o c i a t e d G o th ic a r t w i t h a " s i m p l i c i t y " t h a t was more a c н
c u ra te ly c la s s ic a l.
c rib e d as c l a s s i c a l .
H is i n t e r e s t i n n a t u r e c a n b e s t b e d e s н
A ll t h i s i n d i c a t e s t h a t th e o p p o s it io n
t o n e o c l a s s i c i s m and t h e e n t h u s i a s m f o r t h e r o m a n t i c c a u s e
w e re s t i l l i n t h e p r e l i m i n a r y s t a g e ; b u t i t was from t h i s
k in d o f a b eg in n in g t h a t th e p o s i t i v e a s s e r t i o n s o f th e
R o m an tic Movement w e re d e r i v e d .
BIBLIOGRAPHY
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64
se lf.
The a p p e a r a n c e o f t h e s e c o n d volum e o f t h e e s s a y was
d elay ed f o r tw e n ty -s ix y e a r s , p o s s ib ly b ecau se o f th e unн
f a v o r a b l e r e c e p t i o n w h ic h h i s a t t a c k o n P ope met w i t h .
T h e re
w e r e , d o u b t l e s s , o t h e r s who s h a r e d W a r t o n 's o p i n i o n s i n 1756;
t h e f a c t t h a t t h e d e d i c a t o r y e p i s t l e w as a d d r e s s e d t o Young
i n d i c a t e s t h i s ; b u t u n t i l t h i s e s s a y t h e r e h a d b e e n no s y s н
t e m a t i c a t t a c k on f u n d a m e n ta l n e o c l & s s i c p r i n c i p l e s .
W arton
was v e r y much aw are t h a t h i s e s s a y w o u ld b e c r i t i c i z e d ,
for
he d e c la re d :
Ho l o v e o f s i n g u l a r i t y , no a f f e c t a t i o n o f p a r a d o x i c a l
o p i n i o n , g a v e r i s e t o t h e f o l l o w i n g w ork . I r e v e r e t h e
memory o f P o p e , I r e s p e c t a n d h o n o r h i s a b i l i t y : b u t I
do n o t t h i n k him a t t h e h e a d o f h i s p r o f e s s i o n . 79
A gain h e s a i d ,
As I s h a l l n e i t h e r c e n s u r e n o r commend, w i t h o u t a l l e d g i n g
t h e r e a s o n on w h ic h my o p i n i o n i s fo u n d e d , I s h a l l b e
e n t i r e l y unmoved a t t h e i m p u t a t i o n o f m a l i g n i t y , o r t h e
c la m o u r s o f p o p u l a r p r e j u d i c e . "
B e c a u se h e t o o k a p o s i t i o n w h ic h seem s a d v a n c e d f o r
h i s a g e , i t i s v e r y e a s y t o o v e r l o o k W a r t o n 's e s s e n t i a l
c la ssic ism .
H i s f i r s t d e v i a t i o n s fro m c o n v e n t i o n a l t h e o r y
w e re v e r y t e n t a t i v e i n d e e d .
Sa i n t s b u r y h a s r e m a rk e d t h a t
t h e e s s a y s i n t h e A d v e n tu r e r show " a know?n o t ?w h a t - t a ? t h i n k o f - i t " a t t i t u d e , and t h a t i n h i s E ssa y on Pone h e was o n l y
79
An E s s a y on t h e W r i t i n g s an d G e n iu s o f P o n e . I ,
iii.
80 I b i d . . X, 2 .
65
h a l f aw are o f t h e r e a l c h a n g e s t a k i n g p l a c e i n l i t e r a t u r e . 8 "*"
W arton h a d no d e s i r e t o h e c o n s i d e r e d a r a d i c a l , an d whenн
e v e r p o s s i b l e , h e b a s e d h i s c o n t e n t i o n s on t h e p r e c e p t s o f
L o n g in u s , Q u i n t i l l i a n o r H o r a c e .
fro m V o l t a i r e b e c a u s e h e was " .
He o n c e a d o p t e d a p a s s a g e
. . p e r h a p s asham ed o r a f r a i d
DO
t o sp e a k o u t i n p l a i n E n g l i s h . "
T h a t h e was s t i l l an a d н
m i r e r o f much A u g u sta n v e r s e may b e g a t h e r e d from t h e f o l l o w н
i n g re m a rk : " I t i s o n e o f t h e g r e a t e s t an d m ost p l e a s i n g a r t s
o f d e s c r i p t i v e p o e t r y , to in tr o d u c e m oral s e n te n c e s and i n 83
s t r u c t i o n i n an o b l i q u e a n d i n d i r e c t m a n n e r ."
I t was t h i s
s k i l l i n in tr o d u c in g m oral s e n te n c e s t h a t he p r a i s e d i n
P4.
D y e r ? s G ro n g a r H i l l , r a t h e r t h a n any p o w er o f d e s c r i p t i o n . о
A r e c e n t w r i t e r 8 о h a s ev en q u e s t i o n e d t h a t W a r to n ? s c r i t i c i s m
o f Pope i m p l i e d any s e r i o u s d i v e r g e n c e from n e o c l a s s i c a l
th e o ry .
S t r e s s i n g . t h e t r a d i t i o n a l d o c t r i n e i n W a rto n ? s
t h o u g h t , t h i s w r i t e r s t a t e s t h a t he u s e d t h e t e r m " im a g in a н
t i o n " i n t h r e e d i f f e r e n t s e n s e s w i t h o u t d i s c r i m i n a t i o n , and
b o r ro w e d h i s t h e o r y o f i m i t a t i o n s t r a i g h t fro m t h e n e o c l a s s i н
81" S a i n t s b u r y , ox>. c i t . . p p . 2 6 0 - 6 1 .
82 E ssa y on P o n e . I , x .
83 I b i d . . I , 30.
84 I b i d . . I ,
35.
H. T r o w b r id g e . " J o s e p h W arton on t h e I m a g i n a t i o n , "
Modern P h i l o l o g y . XXXV ( 1 9 3 7 ) , 7 3 - 8 7 .
66
cal c ritic s .
At t h e b e g i n n i n g o f t h e e s s a y W arton s t a t e d v e r y c l e a r н
l y why t h e p o e t r y o f P ope a n d h i s s c h o o l was n o t t h e g r e a t e s t
k in d :
. . . i n t h a t s p e c i e s o f p o e t r y w h e r e i n P op e e x c e l l e d ,
h e i s s u p e r i o r t o a l l m an kind : a n d I o n l y s a y , t h a t t h i s
s p e c i e s o f P o e t r y i s n o t t h e m ost e x c e l l e n t one o f t h e
a rt.
We do n o t , i t w o u ld seem , s u f f i c i e n t l y a t t e n d t o
t h e d i f f e r e n c e t h e r e i s , b e t w i x t a MAN o f WIT, a MAN o f
SENSE, a n d a TRUE POET. . . . a l l I p l e a d f o r , i s . . .
t o im p r e s s on t h e r e a d e r , t h a t a c l e a r h e a d , an a c u t e
u n d e r s t a n d i n g a r e n o t s u f f i c i e n t , a l o n e , t o make a POET;
t h a t t h e m o st s o l i d o b s e r v a t i o n s on human l i f e ; e x p r e s s e d
w i t h u tm o s t e l e g a n c e and b r e v i t y , a r e MORALITY, an d n o t
POETRY; t h a t t h e EPISTLES o f B o i l e a u i n RHYME, a r e no
more p o e t i c a l t h a n t h e CHARACTERS o f B r u y e r e i n PROSE;
an d t h a t i t i s , a c r e a t i v e a n d g lo w in g IMAGINATION, an d
t h a t a l o n e , t h a t c a n stamp a w r i t e r w i t h t h e e x a l t e d
an d v e r y uncommon c h a r a c t e r , w hich so few p e r s o n s p o s s e s s ,
an d o f w h ic h so fe w c a n p r o p e r l y j u d g e . 8 '
To h i s p r o t e s t a g a i n s t d i d a c t i c i s m an d m o r a l i z i n g , made i n
1 7 4 6 , W arton now a d d e d a p r o t e s t a g a i n s t s a t i r e :
HWIT and
SATIRE a r e p e r i s h a b l e , b u t NATURE an d PASSION a r e e t e r n a l . ?88
I n t h e 1782 volum e h e s a i d t h a t m ost o f P o p e ? s w o rk s w ere o f
I M d . , 7 3 - 7 8 . The p o s i t i o n t a k e n by T ro w b rid g e
i s c e r t a i n l y j u s t i f i e d in l i g h t o f th e ex a g g e ra te d c la im s
w h ich ' e a r l i e r s c h o l a r s h a v e made f o r W a rto n . He p e r h a p s
l a b o r s h i s m a t e r i a l i n t r y i n g t o p r o v e W a rto n ? s o p p o s i t i o n
t o t h e d o c t r i n e o f o r i g i n a l i t y . W a r to n ' e a s s e r t i o n s on t h e
s u b j e c t a r e f u l l o f good s e n s e , b u t b e c a u s e t h e y w e re made
b y a m i d - e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y c r i t i c , a r e r e g a r d e d w i t h deep
su sp ic io n .
87 E s s a y on P o n e . I ,
88 I b i d . . I ,
334
iv -v .
67
t h e 11d i d a c t i c , m o r a l . an d s a t y r l c k in d ; an d c o n s e q u e n t l y , n o t
89
o f t h e m o st p o e t i c s p e c i e s o f p o e t r y *11
He la m e n t e d t h e
f a c t t h a t c e r t a i n s a t i r i c a l w o rk s w ere more h i g h l y e s te e m e d
QA
t h a n M i l t o n ' s m in o r poem s.
A c c o rd in g t o W arto n , S p e n s e r , S h a k e s p e a r e , a n d M i l t o n
w e r e p o e t s o f t h e f i r s t r a n k , w h i l e P ope b e l o n g e d t o a lo w e r
r a n k : "The S u blim e an d t h e P a t h e t i c a r e t h e two c h i e f n e r v e s
o f a l l g e n u in e p o e try *
What i s t h e r e v e r y s u b lim e o r v e r y
P a t h e t i c i n P o p e ? " 9** I n s p e a k i n g o f t h e " s u b l i m e ? an d t h e
" p a t h e t i c " W arton was p r e s u m a b ly t h i n k i n g i n t e r m s o f t h e
c l a s s i c a l " e p i c , " w h ich t h e A u g u sta n s c o n s i d e r e d t h e g r e a t e s t
k in d o f p o e tr y .
T h i s i s f u r t h e r a t t e s t e d by h i s o p i n i o n t h a t
Pope w ould n o t h a v e made a g oo d e p i c p o e t , f o r h e s a i d , " . . .
so DIDACTIC a g e n i u s w ould h a v e b e e n d i f i c i e n t i n t h a t SUBLIME
a n d PATHETIC."92*
S u b l i m i t y and p a t h o s w ere u s e d a l m o s t e x н
c l u s i v e l y bo r e f e r t o e p i c a l p o e t r y ? t h e k i n d t h a t Young was
fo re v e r th in k in g o f.
I t w o uld seem t h a t W arton i s h e r e d e н
s e r t i n g t h e c a u s e o f l y r i c p o e t r y w h ich h i s f o r m e r p l e a f o r
i m a g i n a t i o n an d f a n c y h a d seem ed t o s u p p o r t .
W a r t o n 's m ost f r e q u e n t s t r i c t u r e on n e o c l a s s i c v e r s e
89 I b i d . , I I , 4 4 7 .
9░ I b i d . , I , v - v i .
91 I b i d . . I , x .
92 I b i d . . I , 2 8 0 .
i s upon t h e m e th o d o f d e s c r i b i n g n a t u r e i n g e n e r a l i t i e s .
He
e m p h a s iz e d r e p e a t e d l y t h e f a c t t h a t g e n e r a l i t i e s a p p e a l to
t h e i n t e l l e c t , w h e r e a s p o e t r y dem ands s t i m u l a t i o n o f t h e
i m a g i n a t i o n , t h r o u g h t h e u s e o f c o n c r e t e im a g e s .
T ru e p o e t r y ,
he s a id , c o n s i s t s o f a s e l e c t i o n o f c irc u m s ta n c e s " . . .
best
a d a p t e d t o s t r i k e t h e i m a g i n a t i o n by l i v e l y p i c t u r e s . " 0
He
p r a i s e d M ilto n , S p en ser, S h ak esp eare, and I s a i a h f o r t h e i r
p a r t i c u l a r i t y i n d e s c r i p t i o n , i n c o n t r a s t t o P o p e ? s m e th o d .
94
V o l t a i r e ' s H e n r ia d e (1 7 2 8 ) i s c e n s u r e d a s " . . , a work t h a t
ab o u n d s m ore i n d e c l a m a t i o n , i n m o r a l a n d p o l i t i c a l r e f l e c t i o n s
t h a n i n p o e t i c i m a g e s . " 9^5 T h i s p o i n t had n o t b e e n made by t h e
o t h e r p r e - ro m a n tic p o e t s , and i t lo o k s fo rw ard to B l a k e 's
I o p i n i o n : " T o g e n e r a l i z e i s t o b e an i d i o t .
i s th e g r e a t e s t d i s t i n c t i o n o f m e rit."
To p a r t i c u l a r i z e
W arton o f c o u r s e
r e a l i z e d t h a t P ope d i s l i k e d d e s c r i p t i v e p o e t r y , a n d o n ly
m e e k ly a d v a n c e d a n arg u m e n t i n i t s f a v o r :
" I w i l l n o t p re s u m e
to say i t i s e q u a l, e i t h e r i n d i g n i t y o r u t i l i t y ,
to th o se
c o m p o s i t i o n s t h a t l a y o pen t h e i n t e r n a l c o n s t i t u t i o n o f man,
a n d t h a t IMITATE c h a r a c t e r s , m a n n e r s , a n d s e n t i m e n t s . "
He
added t h a t T i t i a n o f te n sto o p e d to p a i n t i n g la n d s c a p e s , an d
93 I b i d . . I , 2 8 , 4 8 .
^ I b i d . M i l t o n i s d i s c u s s e d i n I , 7 , 3 7, S p e n s e r i n
I I , 9 3 , S h a k e s p e a r e i n I , 321, a n d I s a i a h i n I , 1 2 - 1 3 .
95 I b i d . , I I ,
230.
69
t h a t i f Thomson i s t o b e c g n s u r e d f o r d e s c r i b i n g n a t u r e , so
96
m u st b e V i r g i l an d L u c r e t i u s .
The a r t i f i c i a l p a s t o r a l i s m o f t h e P o p ean s c h o o l was
a l s o c r i t i c i z e d on t h e s c o r e o f g e n e r a l i t y .
W arton s a i d t h e
d e s c r i p t i o n o f n a t u r e i n W indsor F o r e s t m ig h t b e a p p l i e d t o
97
"any p la c e w h a ts o e v e r,"
and u rg e d t h a t , " . . . o u r p o e t s
w o u ld a c c u sto m t h e m s e l v e s t o c o n t e m p l a t e f u l l y e v e r y o b j e c t ,
b e fo re th e y atte m p te d to d e s c r ib e i t .
. . . л88
The p r a c t i c e
o f a p p l y i n g c l a s s i c a l nam es t o E n g l i s h f l o r a an d f a u n a i s
c a lle d " . . .
t h a t d i s g u s t i n g i m p r o p r i e t y o f i n t r o d u c i n g w hat
99
may b e c a l l e d a s e t o f h e r e d i t a r y im a g e s . . . . "
Ramsay
h a d e x p r e s s e d t h e same i d e a i n 1 7 2 4 , a l t h o u g h w i t h o u t b r i n g н
i n g t h e c h a r g e a g a i n s t any p a r t i c u l a r w r i t e r .
I n t h e 1756 volum e o f h i s e s s a y W arton made no g r e a t
p l e a f o r p o e t i c e n th u sia sm .
He s a i d , r e s e r v e d l y , t h a t . " .
tr u e p o e try a f t e r a l l , cannot w e ll s u b s is t, a t l e a s t i s never
so s t r i k i n g w i t h o u t a t i n c t u r e o f
e n
t h
u
s i a s m
. "
^
)
I n 1782
h e was more o u t s p o k e n , e x p r e s s i n g r e g r e t t h a t p o e t r y h ad
su ffered
? . b y d e s e r t i n g t h o s e f i e l d s o f f a n c y ,, an d by
96 I b i d . . I , 4 4 - 4 5 .
97 I b i d . . I , 2 0 .
98 I f c id . . I , 4 8 - 4 9 .
99 I b i d . . I , 4 2 .
100 I b i d . . I ,
320.
70
t o t a l l y l a y i n g a s i d e t h e d i s c r i p t i o n o f m ag ic an d e n c h a n t н
m e n t,
T h o se p a s s a g e s i n Thomsofc? s C a s t l e o f I n d o l e n c e
w h ic h h a v e b e e n c a l l e d m ost r o m a n ti c a r e h i g h l y p r a i s e d i n
t h e s e c o n d v o lu m e.
W arton a l s o sp o k e o f u s i n g a s t h e s u b j e c t
o f p o e t r y " d r u i d i c a l t i m e s an d t h e t r a d i t i o n s o f t h e o l d
b a r d s ? 1 0 2 ? a h i n t t h a t he was a l i v e t o t h e i n t e r e s t i n
m e d ie v a lis m ; a n d , r e f l e c t i n g t h e g ro w in g p a t r i o t i c s p i r i t , he
d e c l a r e d t h a t t h e F r e n c h c l a i m o f c o r r e c t n e s s by no means
d e n o t e d s u p e r i o r i t y i n p o e t i c a b i l i t y , a n d named s e v e r a l
E n g l i s h w r i t e r s who w e re e q u a l t o M o n ta ig n e a n d R o c h e f o u c a u lt
i n th e l e s s p o e t ic s p e c ie s o f co m p o sitio n .
^
3
W a rto n * s p r a i s e o f c o n te m p o r a r y p r e - r o m a n t i c v e r s e i s
n o ta b le .
He r e s e n t e d W a r b u r to n ? s i m p l i c a t i o n t h a t t h e g o ld e n
a g e o f E n g l i s h l i t e r a t u r e h a d come t o a n en d w i t h t h e d e a t h
o f P ope:
I am n o t p e r s u a d e d t h a t a l l t r u e g e n i u s d i e d w i t h
P o pe; and p re su m e t h a t t h e S e a s o n s o f Thomson, t h e
P l e a s u r e s o f I m a g i n a t i o n , an d Odes o f A k e n s id e , t h e
H ig h t- T h o u g h ts o f Young, t h e L e o n id a s o f G l o v e r , t h e
E le g y o f G ra y , t o g e t h e r w i t h many p i e c e s o f D o d s le y ? s
101
I b i d . . I I , 17.
^ 2 I b i d . л I I , 18-24.
He a l s o r e f e r r e d t o t h e h e r o i c
s p i r i t t h a t a S c a n d i n a v i a n poem e x h i b i t e d .
( I I , 2 6 -2 8 .)
H. D. M a c C lin to c k h a s shown how W arton *s i d e a s becam e more
p o s i t i v e l y r o m a n t i c and m ore c e r t a i n l y e x p r e s s e d i n t h e s u c d e s s i v e e d i t i o n s o f t h e E ssa y on P o p e .
( J o s e p h W a rto n 1s
E ssa v on P o p e . Jt H i s t o r y o f t h e F iv e E d i t i o n s . The U n i v e r н
s i t y o f H o r th C a r o l i n a f?r e s s , 1 9 3 3 .)
103 E ssay on P o p e. I I , 1 8 2 .
71
M i s c e l l a n i e s may p r o v e t h i s p o i n t .
T h i s l i s t i n c l u d e s some o f t h e m o st i m p o r t a n t p r e - r o m a n t i c
w o rk s .
A gain h e s a i d ,
T h e re a r e p a r t s an d p a s s a g e s i n o t h e r m odern a u t h o r s ,
*n Young a n d i n Thomson, f o r i n s t a n c e , e q u a l t o any o f
POPE; an d h e h a s w r i t t e n n o t h i n g i n a s t r a i n so t r u l y
s u b li m e , a s t h e B a rd o f G ra y . 3-05
A k e n sid e i s c a l l e d " . . .
d i d a c t i c p o e t who h a s h a p p i l y i n н
d u lg e d h i m s e l f i n b o l d e r f l i g h t s o f e n t h u s i a s m , s u p p o r t e d b y
a more f i g u r a t i v e s t y l e .
11
C o l l i n s a n d S h e n s to n e r e c e i v e v e r y
s c a n t y n o t i c e i n W arto n* s e s s a y .
He show ed a c o n s t a n t i n t e r н
e s t i n a tte m p ts to f u r t h e r ro m a n tic th e o r y , c i t i n g th e p r i n н
c i p l e o f G o th ic a r t a s g i v e n b y Thomas W arton and H urd, an d
c a l l i n g L o w th ? s i m p o r t a n t s tu d y o f Hebrew p o e t r y " t h e r i c h e s t
106
a u g m e n t a t i o n l i t e r a t u r e h a s l a t e l y r e c e i v e d . **
Of a l l
c o n te m p o r a r y p o e t s , i t was W arton who m ost o s t e n s i b l y t r i e d
to e s ta b lis h a p la c e fo r th e p re -ro m a n tic l i t e r a t u r e .
He was
p le a s e d w ith th e change t h a t had ta k e n p la c e s in c e th e days
when s a t i r e was p r e - e m i n e n t , r e m a r k in g t h a t nWe a l l remember
107
when even a C h u r c h i l l was more i n v og ue t h a n a G r a y . ?
On t h e q u e s t i o n o f m e t e r , W arton was a t f i r s t s u r p r i s -
104
I b i d . , I , 141.
105
I b i d . . I I , 481.
106
I b i d . . I , 14-15.
107
I b i d . . I I , 479.
72
i n g l y e l o q u e n t i n p r a i s e o f P o p e:
Upon t h e w h o le , t h e p r i n c i p l e m e r i t o f t h e PASTORALS
o f POPE c o n s i s t s , i n t h e i r c o r r e c t an d m u s i c a l v e r s i f i н
c a t i o n ; m u s i c a l , t o a d e g r e e o f w h ic h rhyme c o u l d h a r d l y
b e t h o u g h t c a p a b l e : a n d i n g i v i n g t h e f i r s t sp e c im e n o f
t h a t harmony i n E n g l i s h v e r s e , w h ich . . i n &a s ? * *
r e n d e r e d e v e r y m o d e r a te rh y m er m e l o d i o u s * 1 0 8
T h ro u g h c o n s t a n t s t u d y o f Dxyden, Pope "was e n a b l e d t o g i v e
t o rhyme a l l t h e harmony o f w h ich i t i s c a p a b l e . . . .
"1 0 9
T h i s u n q u a l i f i e d p r a i s e a r o s e , p r o b a b l y , o u t o f W a r t o n 's c o n н
s e r v a t i s m an d h i s f e e l i n g t h a t Pope m ust b e commended o n a t
l e a s t one s c o r e .
He d i d n o t , h o w e v e r, a g r e e t h a t t h e h e r o i c
c o u p l e t was a d v i s a b l e i n l o n g p o em s.
L ik e Young, h e acknowн
l e d g e d t h e p l a c e o f rim e i n s h o r t e r p oem s, b u t b e l i e v e d t h a t
b l a n k v e r s e was p r e f e r a b l e " f o r s u b j e c t s o f a h i g h e r o r d e r ,
o r f o r poem s o f a g r e a t e r l e n g t h . " ^ 3-о
He l a t e r d i s a g r e e d
w i t h P o p e ' s v ie w t h a t r im e was a n e c e s s a r y " s u p p o r t " t o g r e a t
p o e try ,
sa y in g t h a t ,
. . . m ore o f t h a t t r u e harmony w h ich w i l l b e s t
s u p p o r t a poem, w i l l r e s u l t from a v a r i e t y o f p a u s e s ,
and fro m an i n t e r m i x t u r e o f t h o s e d i f f e r e n t f e e t . . .
i n t o w hich o u r l a n g u a g e n a t u r a l l y f a l l s , t h a n fro m t h e
u n ifo rm ity o f s im ila r te rm in a tio n s . 1 1 1
TOfi
X b id . . I , 1 0 . I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g t o com pare P o p e ' s
re m a rk t h a t , '*T h e re i s s c a r c e a n y work o f m ine i n w h ic h t h e
v e r s i f i c a t i o n was more l a b o u r e d t h a n i n my p a s t o r a l s . "
J o s e p h S p e n c e , A n e c d o te s , p . 3 1 2 .
109
I b i d . , I , 82.
110
I b i d . . I I , 210-11.
111 I b i d . , I I , 213
73
T h i s v ie w i s s t a t e d much m ore b o l d l y i n Y o u n g 's C o n j e c t u r e s
o f 1759.
No a t t e m p t h a s b e e n made t o p r e s e n t t h e w h o le o f Wart o n ' s c r i t i c i s m , b u t h i s p l a c e i n t h e r i s e o f r o m a n ti c is m
s h o u ld b e e v i d e n t*
H is f i r s t p u b l i c c r i t i c i s m o f n e o c l a s s i c
p o e t r y was made o n ly two y e a r s a f t e r t h e d e a t h o f P o p e .
Ten
y e a r s l a t e r he s e t o u t t o p r o v e t h a t , a l t h o u g h Pope was
. . t h e g r e a t P o e t o f R e a so n , t h e F i r s t o f E t h i c a l a u t h o r s
i n v e r s e , " he was n o t sup rem e i n t h e " . . .
o f more g e n u i n e p o e t r y . "
lip
h ig h e r f l i g h t s
I n d o in g t h i s , W arton s t a t e d
c l e a r ly th e p r i n c ip l e o f p a r t i c u l a r i t y in d e s c r ip tio n , and
r e a s s e r t e d t h e p l a c e o f p o e t i c i m a g i n a t i o n a n d e n t h u s ia s m .
I n o t h e r ways he f o l l o w e d c u r r e n t t r e n d s ? t h e d e f e n s e o f
E n g l i s h a g a i n s t F re n c h s t y l e s , t h e " r e v i v a l " o f S p e n s e r and
M i l t o n , t h e L o n g in u s t r a i n o f t h o u g h t , a n d , t o a l e s s e r e x н
t e n t , t h e S c h o o l o f S e n s i b i l i t y an d t h e i n t e r e s t i n m e d ie v a l
life .
Thomas Gray
The e x t e n t o f J o s e p h W a r t o n 's r o m a n t i c i n t e r e s t s c a n
b e ju d g e d w i t h f a i r a c c u r a c y from h i s p r o s e a n d p o e t i c a l
w o rk s ; i n t h e c a s e o f Thomas G ra y , we r e q u i r e t h e p r i v a t e
112 I b i d . . I I , 279
74
e x p r e s s i o n o f o p i n i o n s and f e e l i n g s .
Bfray s p e n t h i s l i f e i n
r e t i r e m e n t and s t u d y , p u b l i s h i n g v e r y l i t t l e b e s i d e s h i s
p o e try .
R. D. H avens h a s r e m a rk e d t h a t G r a y 's poem s g i v e no
ev id en ce o f a c l o s e a c q u a in ta n c e w ith n a tu r e :
I f i t w e re n o t f o r G r a y ' s p r o s e , someone w o uld b e
w r i t i n g o f him , "The sh y r e c l u s e h a d no i n t e r e s t i n
n a t u r e e x c e p t i n h e r b r o a d , g e n e r a l a s p e c t s ; when he
speaks o f h er i t i s in th e s te re o ty p e d , c o n v e n tio n a l
p h r a s e o l o g y o f t h e d a y ; h e e v i d e n t l y knew h e r o n ly
t h r o u g h h i s b o o k s a n d f e l t l i t t l e o f t h e j o y o f wanн
d e rin g in th e f i e l d s . " H 3
We know t h a t t h i s i s a b s u r d , b u t we know i t o n l y b e c a u s e o f
r e m a r k s i n G r a y ' s l e t t e r s , w h ic h h a p p e n t o h a v e b e e n p r e н
serv ed .
T h is in s ta n c e i l l u s t r a t e s th e i m p o s s i b i l i t y o f
ju d g in g ro m a n tic f e e l i n g th ro u g h t h e p o e t r y a lo n e o f th e s e
w rite rs.
As G ray grew o l d e r , h i s p o e t r y became p r o g r e s s i v e l y
m ore r o m a n t i c i n s p i r i t .
From h i s c l a s s i c a l t r a i n i n g a t th e .
u n i v e r s i t y , h e a c q u i r e d c o n s i d e r a b l e s k i l l i n c o m p o sin g
L a t i n p o em s.
T h e re i s a m ore r o m a n ti c n o t e i n t h e E l e g y ,
o n e o f t h e m ost d i s t i n g u i s h e d o f t h e poems o f m e la n c h o ly .
An i n t e r e s t i n c l a s s i c a l v e r s e fo rm s i s com bined w i t h c e r t a i n
r o m a n t i c t e n d e n c i e s i n h i s o d e s , w h i l e h i s l a t e r poems a r e
among t h e m o st t r u l y r o m a n t i c o f t h e a g e , r e f l e c t i n g t h e
g r o w in g c o n c e r n w i t h N o r t h e r n , r a t h e r t h a n w i t h c l a s s i c a l ,
lite ra tu re .
113
p . 3 08 .
H is r o m a n t i c i s m was n o t t h e p r o d u c t o f a y o u t h -
R. D. H a v e n s, "R o m an tic A s p e c ts o f t h e Age o f P o p e ,"
75
f u l , u n c r i t i c a l e n t h u s i a s m , b u t came r a t h e r from h i s im m e d ia te
r e s p o n s e t o t h e new, f r e s h th e m e s t h a t w ere aw ak en in g l i t e r a н
t u r e o f t h e 1 7 6 0 's .
He was n o t an a p o s t l e o f t h e pseudd>-
r o m a n t i c i d e a s t h a t b e g a n t o b lo ss o m f o r t h i n t h e e a r l y 1 7 4 0 's ,
n o r d i d h e t a k e p a r t i n t h e d i s p u t e b e tw e e n n e o c l a s s i c an d
r o m a n ti c p o e t r y , a s J o s e p h W arton a n d Young h a d d o n e .
Wide
r e a d i n g and d eep l e a r n i n g g a v e G ray an e q u i l i b r i u m unm atch ed
b y an y o t h e r p o e t o f h i s t i m e ; h e p o s s e s s e d a c r i t i c a l acumen
t h a t l e f t him f r e e t o a c c e p t t h e go od i n e a c h k i n d o f p o e t r y .
T h i s f a c t becom es c l e a r o n l y t h r o u g h a r e a d i n g o f h i s l e t t e r s .
G r a y 's r e m a r k s on n e o c l a s s i c p o e t r y a r e n o t a b l e f o r
th e ir fa irn e ss .
I n h i s y o u th h e r e a d P o p e ' s v e r s e w i t h a
good d e a l o f p l e a s u r e .
The E p i s t l e t o D r. A r b u th n o t "charm ed"
114
him i n 1 7 3 5 .
I n 1742 h e re m a rk e d t h a t The D u n e ia d " . . .
i s g r e a t l y a d m ire d ," and c i t e d p a r t s a s b e in g
a s a n y t h i n g he h a s w r i t t e n . " ^ о
. . as fin e
He h a d a h i g h o p i n i o n o f
P o p e ' s t r a n s l a t i o n o f t h e I H i a d . an d c a l l e d him " . . .
f i n e s t W r i t e r , o n e o f th em , we e v e r h a d . "
th e
He r e a l i z e d h i s
human f r a i l t i e s :
. . . i t i s n o t from w hat h e t o l d me a b o u t h i m s e l f
t h a t I th o u g h t w e l l o f him , b u t from a H um anity & G oodness
o f H e a r t , a y , & G r e a t n e s s . . . o f Mind . . . , n o t l e s s
1 1 4 The C o r r e s p o n d e n c e o f Thomas G r a y .
E d i t e d by
P . Tonybee and L. W h i b l e y ( O x f o r d : C la r e n d o n P r e s s , 1 9 3 5 ) ,
p . 18.
115 ,
I b i d . , p . 189.
76
a p p a re n t t h a t a th o u sa n d l i t t l e V a n itie s & w eaknesses
m ixed w i t h t h o s e g oo d Q u a l i t i e s , f o r no bo dy e v e r to o k
him f o r a P h i l o s o p h e r . U S
T h i s s a n e o u t l o o k e n a b l e d him t o e n j o y P o p e 's s a t i r e w i t h o u t
t a k i n g him t o o s e r i o u s l y .
He h a d a l s o a h i g h o p i n i o n o f
D ry d en , who, h e s a i d , was r e s p o n s i b l e f o r any e x c e l l e n c e i n
h i s own p o e t r y , e s p e c i a l l y i n r e g a r d t o c h o i c e o f w o rd s and
v e rsific a tio n .
1 *1'7
We h a v e i t from N o rto n N i c h o l l s t h a t
He a d m ire d D ry d en , & c o u l d n o t p a t i e n t l y h e a r him
c ritic iz e d .
Absolom & A c h i t o p h e l & T h e o d o re & H o n o r ia
s t o o d i n t h e f i r s t r a n k o f poem s i n h i s e s t i m a t i o n , &
D r y d e n 's p l a y s n o t a s d r a m a t i c k c o m p o s i t i o n s b u t a s
p o e try . HB
H is h ig h e s tim a tio n o f t h i s k in d o f p o e tr y c o n t r a s t s w ith
J o s e p h W a rto n * s te n d e n c y t o d i s c r e d i t s a t i r e .
At t h e same
t i m e , G ray r e c o g n i z e d D r y d e n 's l i m i t a t i o n s i n t h e m ore p o e t i c a l v e in .
T h i s i s a p p a r e n t from a re m a rk on t h e t r a n s l a н
t i o n o f a b i t o f G reek v e r s e : " I do n o t s e e . . . why i t w i l l
n o t pro v e i t s p o in t as w e ll in a p la in p ro se t r a n s l a t i o n , as
i n t h e b e s t n um bers o f D ry d e n . "
119
A d d iso n , h e s a i d , h a d
" n o t above t h r e e o r f o u r n o t e s i n p o e t r y . "
129
I t w ou ld b e
i n c o r r e c t t o s a y t h a t G ray w as t o r n b e tw e e n a l o v e f o r c l a s -
116
I b i d . . p . 230.
117
I b i d . . p . 896.
118
I b i d . . p p . 1 2 9 0 -9 1 ( N o r to n N i c h o l l s ' R e m in is н
c e n c e s) .
119
120
I b i d . . p . 463.
I b i d . . p . 295.
77
s i c a l an d r o m a n t i c p o e t r y .
Of V o l t a i r e h e w r o t e :
b o d y l o v e s him b e t t e r t h a n I i n h i s g r a n d e r S t y l e .
". . . no121
He
11
was a n a r d e n t a d m i r e r o f R a c i n e ' s c l a s s i c a l t r a g e d y , a n d
m o d e le d h i s own d ram a, A g r i p p i n a , a f t e r B r i t a n n i c u s g
Nor was
h e above w r i t i n g a lo n g p h i l o s o p h i c a l t r e a t i s e i n v e r s e .
But
a l t h o u g h h e l o v e d t h e c l a s s i c a l s t y l e , h e knew an d a p p r e c i i
a te d a n o th e r k in d o f p o e tr y .
I n w r i t i n g a b o u t t h e good
c h a n c e s f o r s u c c e s s o f on e o f W a l p o l e 's p i e c e s o f s a t i r e
p u b l i s h e d i n D o d s l e y 's m i s c e l l a n y o f 1 7 4 8 , he made t h i s r e н
m ark : " . . .
f o r th o u g h . . . t h e s t i l l
s m a ll v o i c e o f P o e t r y
was n o t made t o b e h e a r d i n a crow d; y e t S a t i r e w i l l b e
h e a r d , f o r a l l th e a u d ie n c e a r e by n a t u r e h e r f r i e n d s . "
122
And y e t e v e n h e r e t h e r e i s no r e s e n t m e n t a g a i n s t s a t i r e a s a
s p e c ie s o f p o e try .
I f t h e n e o c l a s s i c a l w r i t e r s w ere bound t o a s t r i c t
o b s e r v a t i o n o f t h e " r u l e s " a s e s t a b l i s h e d by t h e a n c i e n t s , i t
i s c l e a r t h a t G ray s h a r e d n o n e o f t h e i r s e r v i l i t y .
One r e a н
so n was ja e rh a p s t h a t h e h a d r e a d them f i r s t h a n d .
I n 1746 he
r e a d A r i s t o t l e ' s P o e t i c s i n t h e G re e k , an d fo u n d an "a b u n d a n c e
o f f i n e uncommon T h i n g s , " and t h a t t h e work h a d s u f f e r e d
g r e a t l y from " t r a n s c r i b b l e r s . "
121
Ifrid . . p . 282.
132
I b i d . , p . 296.
123
I f r i d . . p . 241.
?I 0 * 2
A re m a rk on a b a l l a d he
h a d b e e n r e a d i n g shows h i s c r i t i c a l common s e n s e :
I h a v e g o t t h e o l d S c o tc h b a l l a d , on w ch D o u g la s
was f o u n d e d , i t i s d i v i n e . . . . A r i s t o t l e ?s b e s t
r u l e s a r e o b s e r v e d i n a m a n n e r, t h a t shew s t h e A u th o r
n e v e r had h e a rd o f A r i s t o t l e . 1 2 4
T h is i s b o th a r e c o g n i tio n o f t h e j u s t i c e o f a r i s t o t l e ' s
p r i n c i p l e s an d a r e b u k e t o t h e m e th o d o f w r i t i n g by r u l e .
A n o th e r t i m e , when Jam es B e a t t i e i n c o r p o r a t e d a l y r i c a l p a s н
s a g e i n h i s l e n g t h y poem, The M i n s t r e l . Gray f o r g a v e t h e
i m p r o p r i e t y i n t h e s e w o rd s : ??R u l e s a r e b u t c h a i n s , good f o r
little ,
e x c e p t when o n e c a n b r e a k t h r o u g h them ; an d w hat i s
f i n e g i v e s me so much p l e a s u r e , t h a t I n e v e r r e g a r d w hat
p l a c e i t i s i n . ? "1-2о No o t h e r p o e t o f h i s tim e e x h i b i t e d t h e
keen c r i t i c a l
se n se t h a t th e s e rem ark s r e v e a l .
Some w ere to o
o b s e r v a n t, o t h e r s to o o b l i v i o u s , o f t h e R u les o f l i t e r a t u r e .
G r a y ' s a d m i r a t i o n o f S p e n s e r a n d M i l t o n was common f o r
h i s tim e .
He l i k e d t h e rh y th m and e x p r e s s i o n o f M i l t o n ? s
m in o r p o em s, a n d i t
i s s a i d h e ? . . . n e v e r s a t down t o comн
p o se p o e t r y w ith o u t r e a d in g S p en ser f o r a c o n s id e r a b le tim e
p r e v i o u s l y . w12^
He f e l t v e r y l i t t l e
p r e - r o m a n t i c s , h o w e v e r.
k in s h ip w ith h i s f e llo w
He showed no p a r t i a l i t y to w a r d t h e
new p o e t r y o f t h e 1 7 4 0 ? s , an d o f t h e a v e r a g e l o t , a s c o n н
t a i n e d i n D o d s l e y 's c o l l e c t i o n s , h e w r o t e :
" I say , M e ssie u rs
124
I b i d . , p p . 5 0 4 -0 5 .
125
I*>ld. . p . 1 1 6 9 .
126
I b i d . . p . 1 1 7 1 , an d p . 1290 ( N i c h o l l s ? R e m in is -
t h i s i s n o t t h e t h i n g ; w r i t e p r o s e , w r i t e s e rm o n s , w r i t e
n o th in g a t a l l .
. . ." 1 2 7
jje d i s l i k e d A k e n s i d e 's p o e t r y i n
g e n e r a l , a n d o n c e e x c l a i m e d , "D r. A k e n sid e i s i n a d e p l o r a b l e
128
w a y ."
He c o n s i d e r e d r e d u n d a n c y o f t h o u g h t a g r e a t f a u l t
i n Y o u n g 's U ig h t T h o u g h ts . ^
28
U n lik e t h e " c r i t i c a l t r i b e " o f
L ondon, h e a d m ire d S h e n s t o n e 's " S c h o o l m i s t r e s s , " a n d c a l l e d
it
" m a s te rly " o f i t s k in d .-^ O
sto n e " . . .
He l a t e r c o m p la in e d t h a t S h e n -
t r u s t s t o n a t u r e a n d s i m p l e s e n t i m e n t , why d o e s
h e do no b e t t e r ?
he g o e s h o p p in g a l o n g h i s own g r a v e l - w a l k s ,
a n d n e v e r d e v i a t e s fro m t h e b e a t e n p a t h s f o r f e a r o f b e i n g
l o s t . " - * '3^
J . W a r t o n 's e a r l y e f f u s i o n , The E n t h u s i a s t , s u p н
p o s e d t o b e a b u g l e c r y t o f e l l o w r o m a n t i c i s t s , i s m e r e ly
182
m e n tio n e d b y G ray a s a p i e c e o f " p u r e d e s c r i p t i o n . " x
. H is
d r i t i c i s m o f C o l l i n 's odes i s r a t h e r u n a p p re c ia tiv e .
He s a i d
t h e y show " . . . a
f i n e f a n c y , m o d e l 'd upon t h e A n tiq u e , a
b a d E a r , g r e a t V a r i e t y o f W ords, & Im ag e s w i t h no C h o ic e a t
a ll."
He t h o u g h t C o l l i n s a n d J . W arton " . . .
l a s t some y e a r s , b u t w i l l n o t . "
127
I b i d . . p p . 297-98.
128
I b i d . . p . 5 66 .
I t>id. . p . 12 9 2 .
130
.
I b i d . . p . 2 95 .
129
151
I b i d . . p . 566.
132
. P . 224.
133
I b i d . . p . 2 61 .
133
d eserv e to
Thomson e x c e l l s a t d e s -
80
c r i b i n g n a t u r e , b u t , G ray a d d s , " .
. . when h e v e n t u r e d t o
s t e p o u t o f t h i s p a t h ; & p a r t i c u l a r l y when h e a t t e m p t e d t o
b e m o r a l , h e a lw a y s becam e v e r b o s e . ?
*
T here i s no c e n s u r e
h e re o f m o r a liz in g , b u t o n ly o f v e r b o s it y .
D y e r?s ro m a n tic q u a l i t i e s i s u n u su a l:
H is p r a i s e o f
"Mr* D yer ( h e r e you
w i l l d e s p i s e me h i g h l y ) h a s more o f p o e t r y i n h i s i m a g i n a t i o n ,
t h a n a lm o s t an y o f o u r num ber; b u t ro u g h an d i n j u d i c i o u s . "
?1'3 5
G ra y , l i k e P o p e , d i f f e r e d from m ost o f t h e p r e - r o m a n t i c p o e t s
in h is d is l ik e o f d e s c r ip tiv e p o e try :
"As t o d e s c r i p t i o n , I
h a v e a lw a y s t h o u g h t t h a t i t made t h e m o st g r a c e f u l o rn am en t
o f p o e t r y , b u t n e v e r o u g h t t o make t h e s u b j e c t .
35
A ll h i s
l i f e G ray p o s s e s s e d a g r e a t l o v e o f w i l d n a t u r a l b e a u t y .
In
h i s y o u th i t was t h e g r a n d e u r o f t h e A lp s t h a t a r o u s e d h i s
e n t h u s i a s m , a n d i n l a t e r l i f e t h e S c o tc h H ig h la n d s and t h e
L ake C o u n tr y .
He r e b u k e d h i s f r i e n d Mason f o r n o t com ing t o
t h e H ig h la n d s f o r i n s p i r a t i o n :
. . . a f i g f o r your P o e ts, P a in te r s , G a rd in e rs, &
C lerg y m en , t h a t h a v e n o t b e e n among them : t h e i r im a g in н
a t i o n c a n b e made up o f n o t h i n g b u t b o w l i n g - g r e e n s ,
flo w e rin g sh ru b s, h o rse -p o n d s, F l e e t - d i t c h e s , s h e l l g r o tto e s , & C h in e e -ra ils .1 3 7
H e re i s a l i s t o f some o f t h e f a v o r i t e
1 34 i b i d , t p .
1291
(H ic h o lls* R e m in isc e n c e s) .
135
I b i d . ? PP. 255-56.
136
Ib id ..
137
I b i d . . p . 899.
p . 1140.
"ro m an tic" r e t r e a t s
81
o f t h e A u g u s ta n s , i n c l u d i n g t h o s e o f Mr. Pope h i m s e l f .
H i s e n t h u s i a s m otoer M a c p h e r s o n f s poems i s a l s o fam н
ilia r.
I n M arch, 1 7 6 0 , h e was ?ch arm ed" w i t h t h e f i r s t
s p e c im e n s , a n d t h e n o f t h e F ra g m e n ts o f A n c ie n t P o e t r y h e
e x c l a i m e d , " I am g o ne mad a b o u t th em .
. . .
I was so s t r u c k ,
so e x t a s i ^ w i t h t h e i r i n f i n i t e b e a u t y , t h a t I w r i t i n t o
S c o t l a n d t o make a t h o u s a n d e n q u i r i e s . "
was " . . .
He s a i d M acp h erso n
t h e v e r y Demon o f P o e t r y , o r h e h a s l i g h t e d o n a
t r e a s u r e h i d f o r a g e s . " 13о H is s c h o l a r s h i p t o l d him t h e
poem s w e re c o u n t e r f e i t , o r c e r t a i n l y n o t a n c i e n t , b u t t h e i r
b e a u t y was so g r e a t t h a t h e c o u l d n o t h e l p t h i n k i n g them
g en u in e.
A r e v i s i o n made i n h i s E le g y f u r n i s h e s o n e o f t h e
c l e a r e s t e x a m p le s o f t h e g ro w in g n a t i o n a l i s m i n E n g l i s h
p o e t r y : G ray s u b s t i t u t e d t h e nam es o f Hampden, Crom w ell and
M ilto n f o r t h e i r L a tin p r e d e c e s s o r s .
He d i d n o t , h o w e v e r,
show t h e a n t i p a t h y t o F r e n c h p o e t r y t h a t was common, a l t h o u g h
h e o n c e a d m i t t e d , "The la n g u a g e o f t h e a g e i s n e v e r t h e l a n н
g u a g e o f p o e t r y ; e x c e p t among t h e F r e n c h . . . . л 1 3 9
From h i s
few r e m a rk s on m e t e r , i t i s c l e a r t h a t h e d i d n o t s y m p a th iz e
w i t h t h e g ro w in g p o p u l a r i t y o f b l a n k v e r s e .
T h is i s n o t t o
b e t a k e n a s a s i g n o f c o n s e r v a t i s m , f o r G ray was a f a r b e t t e r
138
I b i d . . p p . 679-80.
139
Ifrid- .
P.
132.
82
s t u d e n t o f m e t e r t h a n t h e s c o r e s o f p o e t s who u s e d t h e new
f o rm .
H is r e m a r k s on M i l t o n ' s o c t o s y l l a b i c s show how f a r he
w as a h e a d o f t h e c a u t i o u s a d v a n c e s o f J . W a rto n , S h e n s to n e ,
o r Young:
The more we a t t e n d t o t h e c o m p o s i t i o n o f M i l t o n ' s
harm ony, t h e m ore we s h a l l b e s e n s i b l e how h e l o v e d t o
v a r y h i s p a u s e s , h i s m e a s u r e s , and h i s f e e t , w h ic h g i v e s
t h a t e n c h a n t i n g a i r o f fre e d o m and w i l d n e s s t o h i s v e r н
s i f i c a t i o n , u n c o n f i n e d b y an y r u l e s b u t t h o s e w h ic h h i s
own f e e l i n g and t h e n a t u r e o f h i s s u b j e c t dem anded. Thus
h e m ix e s t h e l i n e o f e i g h t s y l l a b l e s w i t h t h a t o f s e v e n ,
t h e S pondee w i t h t h e I a m b ic f o o t , a n d t h e s i n g l e rhyme
w ith th e d o u b le .1 ^ 0
I n summary, i t may be s a i d t h a t G r a y 's r e m a r k s a b o u t
p o e t r y , ev e n m ore t h a n h i s p o e t i c a l w o rk s , show him t o b e a
man a h e a d o f h i s t i m e .
H is c o n t e m p o r a r i e s seem t o b e l o n g
m ore n a t u r a l l y t o a p e r i o d when l i t e r a t u r e was i n a s t a t e o f
f lu x ; t h e i r c r i t i c a l aw aren ess o f th e changes ta k in g p l a c e i s
o f t e n c o n f u s e d , and t h e y t u r n from one t r a d i t i o n o f l i t e r a н
t u r e t o a n o t h e r w i t h o u t an y s u r e s e n s e o f d i r e c t i o n .
G ray
seem s f a r more d e t a c h e d from t h e t u r m o i l ; fro m h i s s c h o l a r ' s
c h a i r h e w as f r e e t o a c c e p t w i t h d u e r e g a r d a l l k i n d s o f
l i t e r a t u r e w i t h o u t a n a p p e a r a n c e o f c o n s c i o u s n e s s o f awkwardн
ness.
140 " o b s e r v a t i o n s on E n g l i s h M e t r e , " The Works o f
Thomas G ra y , e d i t e d by Edmund G o sse (London: M a c m illa n an d
Company, 1 8 8 4 ) .
CHAPTER IV
CONCLUSIONS
The g e n e r a l d i r e c t i o n o f t h i s s t u d y h a s b e e n t o c o n f ir m
t h e o p i n i o n t h a t r o m a n t i c i s m d i d n o t d e v e lo p o u t o f a c o n f l i c t
w ith n e o c la s s ic is m .
F o r p u r p o s e s o f summary* t h e m a jo r p r e -
r o m a n t i c p o e t s may b e d i v i d e d i n t o two g r o u p s ? t h o s e who
f o r m a l l y c r i t i c i z e d n e o c l a s s i c v e r s e , a n d t h o s e who d i d n o t .
The f o r m e r g r o u p i n c l u d e s f i v e nam es: A lla n Ramsay, Thomson,
S h e n s t o n e , J o s e p h W a rto n , an d Young.
Of t h e s e , o n l y Ramsay
a n d Thomson, men o f t h e o l d e r g e n e r a t i o n , w r o t e t h e i r c r i t i ?
cism d u r i n g t h e l i f e t i m e o f P o p e .
R am say ? s p r e f a c e t o t h e
E v er G re en (1 7 3 4 ) came so o n a f t e r h i s poem , t h e G e n t l e Shepн
h e r d ; T h o m so n 's p r e f a c e t o W in te r (1 7 3 6 ) c e n s u r e d t h e p e t t i н
n e s s o f c o n te m p o r a r y v e r s e , p r o c l a i m e d t h e g l o r i e s o f n a t u r e ,
a n d i s s u e d a c a l l f o r e n t h u s ia s m and g r e a t e r s e r i o u s n e s s .
In
t h e c a s e o f Thomson a n d o f two o t h e r s , J o s e p h W arton an d
S h e n s to n e , c e n s u r e o f c u r r e n t v e r s e a c c o m p a n ie d p u b l i c a t i o n
of p o e try .
I n t h e p r e f a c e t o h i s Odes o f 1 7 4 6 , W arton o b н
j e c t e d t o t h e d i d a c t i c a n d m o r a l i z i n g e le m e n t i n p o e t r y , an d
c a l l e d f o r g r e a t e r e x e r c i s e o f th e im a g in a tio n and fa n c y .
S h e n sto n e , i n o r about 1748, d efen d ed h i s c h o ic e o f th e
q u a tra in r a t h e r th a n th e h e ro ic c o u p le t in h is e l e g ie s .
i s n o t n e c e s s a r i l y s i g n i f i c a n t t h a t s u c h c r i t i c a l r e m a rk s
o n l y r a r e l y a c c o m p a n ie d p o e t i c c o m p o s i t i o n .
The y o u n g e r
It
.
84
g e n e r a t i o n o f p o e t s , w i t h t h e e x c e p t i o n o f G ra y , w r o t e t h e i r
p o e t r y when t h e y w ere y o u n g , and t h e r e f o r e d u r i n g t h e p e r i o d
o f P o p e 's g r e a t e s t i n f l u e n c e .
L a t e r , when t h e y f o r m u l a t e d
m ore d e f i n i t e i d e a s on p o e t r y , t h e y w e re no l o n g e r w r i t i n g
v e r s e i n w h ich t o i n c o r p o r a t e t h e s e new i d e a s .
T h e se few e a r l y ex a m p le s o f c r i t i c i s m w r i t t e n i n c o n -*
j u n c t i o n w i t h p o e t r y w e re n o t b e l l i g e r e n t i n t o n e .
Except
i n S h e n s t o n e 's m i l d p r o p o s a l , t h e y c o n t a i n no r e f e r e n c e t o
in d iv id u a l n e o c la ssic w r ite r s .
To b e s u r e , t h e r e i s i n e a c h
o f them a c o n s c i o u s n e s s o f some d e f i c i e n c y i n A u g u sta n v e r s e .
Ramsay a n d Thomson w ere d e f i n i t e l y d i s s a t i s f i e d w i t h c e r t a i n
p h a s e s o f c o n te m p o r a r y p o e t r y , a n d S h e n s t o n e 's arg u m e n t f o r
a d i f f e r e n t v e r s e form a r o s e o u t o f t h e f a c t t h a t h e was
w r itin g not th e p o e try o f re a so n , b u t th e p o e try o f se n tim e n t,
J o s e p h W a r t o n 's a t t a c k on n e o c l a s s i c v e r s e was t h e m ost s e н
r i o u s , a n d h e w r o t e h i s poems avow edly i n t h e s p i r i t o f r e н
fo rm .
H is p r e f a c e t o t h e Odes on V a r io u s S u b j e c t s i s t h e
o n ly c l o s e ap p ro ach to t h e co m b in atio n o f c r i t i c a l f a i t h and
p o e t r y t h a t made L y r i c a l B a l l a d s su c h a monument i n l i t e r a r y
h isto ry .
B ut t h e amount o f p u r e l y t r a d i t i o n a l d o c t r i n e
f o u n d i n a l l t h e s e e x a m p le s i s f a r m ore s i g n i f i c a n t t h a n any
" re v o lu tio n a ry " te n d e n c ie s.
T h e re a r e two p i e c e s o f f o r m a l c r i t i c i s m w r i t t e n su b н
s e q u e n t t o t h e m ain p o e t i c c o n t r i b u t i o n ? J o s e p h W a r t o n 's
E s s a y on Pope (1 7 5 6 ) an d Y o u n g 's C o n j e c t u r e s on O r i g i n a l
C o m p o s itio n (1 7 5 9 )?
T h ese w o rk s , t h e m o st h o s t i l e t o n e o н
c l a s s i c v e r s e , w e re w r i t t e n more t h a n a d e c a d e a f t e r P o p e 's
d e a t h , by men who h a d a b a n d o n e d t h e i r p r o f e s s i o n s a s p o e t s .
Y o u n g 's e s s a y i s o f m in o r im p o r t a n c e i n t h i s s t u d y b e c a u s e
i t i s p r i m a r i l y t h e work o f a c r i t i c ,
tiv e p o e t.
r a t h e r th a n o f a c r e a н
T h e r e i s no e v i d e n c e t h a t h e h e l d t h e o p i n i o n s
e x p r e s s e d in . h i s C o n j e c t u r e s when h e w r o t e t h e N ig h t T h o u g h ts
i n 1742; t h e s e o p i n i o n s seem r a t h e r t o b e a d o p t e d from t h e
c r i t i c s o f th e 1 7 5 0 's .
W a r t o n 's e s s a y i s f a r more i m p o r t a n t ,
b e c a u s e o f p r i o r i t y an d b e c a u s e i t i s a r e s t a t e m e n t and e x н
t e n s i o n o f p r i n c i p l e s by w h ic h he h a d w r i t t e n h i s p o e t r y .
It
made him t h e c r i t i c a l l e a d e r o f t h e p r e - r o m a n t i c movement.
The r e l a t i o n o f h i s e s s a y t o h i s p o e t r y a n d t o t h e w h o le body
o f p r e - r o m a n t i c v e r s e w as v e r y c l o s e .
t h e spokesm an o f t h e a g e , s h a r i n g i t s
c a u tio n s.
He w a s, i n a s e n s e ,
e n t h u s i a s m s an d i t s
I t was he who t r i e d t o e s t a b l i s h a p l a c e f o r t h e
l e s s d i d a c t i c and s a t i r i c a l m id d l e - o f - th e - c e n tu r y v e r s e ,
w h ich h e c o n s i d e r e d e q u a l o r s u p e r i o r t o P o p e ' s .
Young was
n o t so e n t h u s i a s t i c a d e f e n d a n t o f c o n te m p o r a r y v e r s e , w h ich
n e v e r r e a c h e d t h e e p i c a l p r o p o r t i o n s t h a t he a d m ir e d , b u t
t o g e t h e r t h e s e two men s t a n d a s f o r e m o s t c r i t i c s o f t h e S c h o o l
o f Pope.
From t h e c r i t i c i s m o f n e o c l a s s i c p o e t r y t h a t was ex н
p r e s s e d th r o u g h p r i v a t e c h a n n e l s , one i m p o r t a n t c o n c l u s i o n
c a n b e draw n: t h e r o m a n t i c i s m o f t h e m i d - e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y
86
p o e t c a n n o t b e m e a su re d i n t e r m s o f h i s o p p o s i t i o n to n e o c l a s s i c i s m how ever e x p r e s s e d .
Nor i s i t p e r h a p s t o o much t o
s a y t h a t t h o s e men who c o n t r i b u t e d m o st t o t h e c a u s e o f t h e
R o m antic Movement w ere t h e l e a s t c r i t i c a l o f t h e Age o f Pope
? a f a c t w h ic h , i f t r u e , c e r t a i n l y c o n t r o v e r t s t h e c o n c e p t
o f c o n f l i c t b e tw e e n t h e two s c h o o l s o f l i t e r a t u r e .
I t has
b e e n m e n tio n e d t h a t J o s e p h W arton a n d Young w e re t h e f o r e m o s t
c r i t i c s o f n e o c l a s s i c i s m ; i n c o n t r a s t t o them s t a n d G ra y ,
S h e n s to n e and Thomas W arto n .
The l a t t e r two w ere l e a s t c e n н
s o r i o u s o f A u g u sta n v e r s e , an d G ray was even s y m p a t h e t i c
to w a rd s i t .
C u r i o u s l y en o u g h , i t was t h e y who w e re m ost
a t t r a c t e d t o r o m a n t i c i s m , an d who m o st a c t i v e l y c o n t r i b u t e d
t o i t s g r o w th ? G ray i n h i s l a t e r p o em s, Thomas W arton i n h i s
u n f a i l i n g i n t e r e s t i n t h e m id d le a g e s &nd i n u n f a s h i o n a b l e
v e r s e , a n d b o t h G ray an d S h e n s to n e i n t h e i r e n t h u s i a s t i c s u p н
p o r t o f o l d b a l l a d p o e t r y a n d t h e w o rk s o f M a cp h erso n .
They
w e re l e s s c o n c e r n e d w i t h f i n d i n g f a u l t w i t h t h e o l d t h a n i n
lo o M n g f o r new s o u r c e s o f p l e a s u r e .
J o s e p h W a r t o n 's c o n н
t r i b u t i o n w a s, o f c o u r s e , a n e s s e n t i a l o n e , b u t r o m a n t i c i s m
c o u ld h a rd ly have p ro g re s s e d w ith o u t t h a t d eep er f e e l in g
s h a r e d b y t h e s e t h r e e men.
I t i s in s tr u c tiv e in t h i s re sp e c t
t o com pare J o s e p h W a rto n * s and G r a y 's t r e a t m e n t o f D y e r 's
p o e try .
W arton p r a i s e d D yer f o r h i s a b i l i t y i n i n t r o d u c i n g
m o r a l s e n t i m e n t s i n t o d e s c r i p t i v e v e r s e , w h i l e G ra y , a t t h e
r i s k o f b e in g r i d i c u l e d , d e c la re d he had " . . .
m ore o f p o e t r y
87
i n h i s i m a g i n a t i o n , t h a n a lm o s t any o f o u r n u m b er. . . . "
F u r t h e r m o r e , i t was G ra y and S h e n s to n e who w e re m o st c r i t i c a l ,
o f tfee s e m i - c o n v e n t i o n a l p r e - r o m a n t i c v e r s e t h a t J o s e p h Warн
t o n so e n e r g e t i c a l l y e x t o l l e d a t t h e e x p e n s e o f A u g u sta n
p o e try .
W arton d e s c r i b e d A k e n s id e , one o f t h e m ost c o n s e r v a н
t i v e o f t h e new w r i t e r s , a s a p o e t H. . . who h a s h a p p i l y
in d u lg e d h im s e lf i n b o ld e r f l i g h t s o f e n th u sia sm , s u p p o rte d
b y a m ore f i g u r a t i v e s t y l e .
11
To S h e n s to n e , A k e n s i d e 1 s w ork
r e p r e s e n t e d t h e acme o f " a r t 11 and " t a s t e , " w h i l e h e an d t h e
p u b l i c w e re dem anding t h e " . . .
s t r i k i n g e f f e c t s o f w ild ,
o r i g i n a l , e n t h u s i a s t i c g e n i u s " w h ic h t h e poems o f M acp h erson
su p p lie d .
S r a y a l s o fo u n d t h e m i d d l e - o f - t h e - c e n t u r y v e r s e
u n i n t e r e s t i n g , b u t t h e O s s i a n i c poem s, w h ic h W arton s c a r c e l y
m e n tio n e d , i n t e r e s t e d him g r e a t l y .
I n r e g a r d to i n d i v i d u a l w r i t e r s , t h i s s t u d y t e n d s to
m a g n ify t h e i m p o r ta n c e o f two p o e t s , S h e n s to n e and G ray , i n
th e r i s e of ro m a n tic ism .
It
show s, a t l e a s t , t h a t t h e i r
p o e t r y i s n o t an a c c u r a t e s t a n d a r d b y w h ich t o j u d g e t h e i r
re s p o n s e to ro m a n tic i n t e r e s t s .
A p e r u s a l o f S h e n s to n e * s
poem s w ould n e v e r r e v e a l h i s i m p a t i e n c e w i t h t h e c o n s e r v a t i v e
a d v a n c e s made by t h e p r e - r o m a n t i c p o e t s , n o r t h a t h e s h a r p l y
d i s a g r e e d w i t h c e r t a i n n e o c l a s s i c p r i n c i p l e s when h e p u b l i s h e d
h i s S c h o o lm is tre s s i n 1742.
T h e se f a c t s , , t o g e t h e r w i t h h i s
s u p p o r t o f t h e q u a t r a i n i n 1 7 4 8 , e n t i t l e S h e n s to n e t o a someн
w h at h i g h e r p o s i t i o n t h a n i s u s u a l l y a c c o r d e d him .
The l e t н
t e r s o f G ray p l a
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