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which the lost angels, gathered on the battlements, will not allow Dante to enter--and having effected his object, silently departs, immersed in other thoughts. But one of the finest is the spirit in the Purgatorio, whose approach, yet unseen, Dante, while gazing on the sunset, becomes conscious of, by the weight of light falling on his eyes a very spiritual instance of imagination; and next he whose face had a tremulous lustre as of the morning star. It is a pity the Tuscan poet did not introduce a greater number of pictures of scenery, effects of external nature, into his work, as several of those it contains are exquisite in their union of the objective and subjective. Such is the description of dawn in the first, and of evening with which the 8th canto of the Purgatorio opens. It was the hour which wakens fond desire and melts the heart of those at sea, who have bid sweet friends adieu, when the pilgrim hears from afar the bell which seems to weep for the day that dies. Beautiful also is the gray hour of dawn in the 9th canto:

"Nell' ora che comincia i tristi lai

La rondinella presso alla mattina

Forse a memoria de' suoi primi guai"

one can hear almost the sad cry of the swallow wheeling through the gray twilight. Beautiful, too, the glimpse of the sea from the summit of the mountain :—

"Connobi il tremolar della marina,"

which gives us the distant tremulous line of light along the morning sea, as Æschylus' ἀνεριθμον γελασμα, the multitudinous wave-smile of the noonday ocean. Dante's habit of putting his knowledge into his description of natural scenery frequently interferes with their naturalness; thus even in the beautiful passage about dawn (Purg. 1) the poetry is injured by an astronomic allusion. No fault, however, can be found with his lines in which we hear the lark rising and becoming silent, satiated with the sweetness of its song:

"Qual lodoletta che 'n aere si spazia,
Prima cantando, e poi tace contenta
Dell' ultima dolcezza che la sazia."

Despite the number of its commentators, not a little uncertainty still


exists respecting the composition of the Commedia," a title he is said to have selected from his purposing to write it in the middle style, but into which he introduced all styles. It is now certain that the first seven cantos of the Inferno were composed at a period preceding his banishment from Florence, and in these may be seen pretty clearly that he had he already projected the ideal of the poem, which was to embody in allegoric form his conception of a hell, purgatory, and paradise, to be a satire on his personal enemies and those of his country, and an immortalization of his love for Beatrice. The early cantos of the Inferno indicates her reappearance. As to the controversy whether he intended her as an allegory, &c., the intrinsic evidence of the portions of the poem in which she appears testifies that the object of her introduction was of mixed nature, as at one time he has made her speak as a woman, and further on in the Paradiso as an exponent of his views of theology, a study which he is said to have devoted himself to at Paris shortly before commencing the Paradiso. His and secondly in the person and under first idea was to immortalize his love, the name of Beatrice-one who blesses,-to make her the mouthpiece of divine theologic knowledge. He first represents her as a real being, and subsequently idealizes her into a celestial myth.

Of the three parts of the "Commedia," while there is greater energy and is, with the exception of a couple of its power of invention in the Inferno, there episodes, a more genuine poetic spirit Paradiso; and it is pleasanter to wanpervading the Purgatorio than the der with him from day to day through the ascending regions of this great mountain in the middle of the ocean, whose summit touches heaven, than ed conceptions of a Ptolemaic heaven, to accompany him through the strainwhere there are so many absurdities and where the imagination is wearied with his endless attempts to represent degrees of blessedness by variations of intensity in light, &c. Altogether there are too many signs of labour in the great poem in which Dante's formative intention is so apparent. the Purgatorio he exhausted the subject in the twenty-nine cantos, but


was obliged to write several more to make it nearly the same length as the Inferno. There are many individual peculiarities seen here and there; among them, his ending each of the three parts with the word "stella." Altogether Dante's poem, with its union of greatness and littleness; its sublime and beautiful flashes of imagination; its exhibition of individual passion; its absurdities, charms, and incongruities, is one of the most difficult subjects of criticism in the range of literature. But amid imperfections, the result of a barbarous age, and of the purpose which the writer set before him, it contains passages, both for conception and diction, which for high spiritual imagination are unique in creative literature. No writer ever intensified prosaic reality so wonderfully into poetry.


THE critical idea of the epic, as illustrated by the chief works of that order of poetry, is an elevated discourse of a great and important action which terminates happily. The "Iliad" is the epic of pagan heroism; it ends with the death of Hector, the Trojan hero and safeguard of Troy, the victory of the Greeks, and prospective consummation of the struggle involved in the above event. The purpose and end of the Eneid" are the adventures of "Eneas" and foundation of Rome. Tasso's "Gerusalemme," is the epic of Christian chivalry, its object, the rescuing of the Holy Sepulchre from the hands of the Mahometans. The "Lusiad" of Camoens the Odyssea of modern European literature, and still more modern in its spirit than the foregoing poems, is the epic of commerce the discovery of the passage round the Cape to the East by Gama. Milton's "Paradise Lost" is the epic poem of Biblical writ and Christian theology. The latter, indeed, does not fulfil the purpose of an epic in ending happily, but such conditions are realized in "Paradise Regained.'

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Almost all those poets have framed their works on Homer. The introduction of the machinery of pagan deities, which, in the imitator, Virgil, is so far consistent with the religious ideas of his age, becomes, to the last

degree absurd in the poem of Camoens, which describes one of the chief events of Christian Portugal in the fifteenth century. Even Tasso, also, would have been much more consistently poetic, if he had confined his machinery to the spirits and enchanters of Romanic poetry, without the outré introduction of the Tartarus of the Pagans,--an anomaly in which he followed the barbarism of Dante, and an anomaly which the really sublime imagination and poetic judgment with which Milton was endowed, enabled him to avoid.

Homer, indeed, possesses an eye for natural truth and a vigour of imagination, equal to any poet, excepting in the highest conceptions of sublimity, which were not possible in the pagan age in which he lived. But we cannot think that the entire of the "Iliad" and "Odyssea" were the works of his individual mind; it is much more rational to believe that, with his largely receptive soul, he appeared at a period when a large accumulation of traditional and written ballad literature, having for their subject the ten years struggle between the Greeks and Trojans, existed, that he collected and re-shaped them into a continuous narrative, and that it is only now and then, when some incident struck his imagination, that he has remoulded it with the individual originality and power of his genius, just as Shakespeare worked with the early essays of the English drama. Appearing in a cultivated age, Virgil drew largely from his models, the "Odyssea" and "Iliad;" but it is absurd to speak of him as a mere imitator. It is chiefly in his battles that he appears so, it being, indeed, difficult to rival Homer in the treatment of such subjects; but that his imagination was capable of producing original conceptions and descriptions, equal to any in the poems of the Greek, the death of Dido, the games in the fifth book, and a couple of the episodes testify. Tasso's "Gerusalemme," the chief excellence of which attaches to the choice of the subject and its symmetrical structure, is an aggregation of imitations. The conceptions of Homer and Virgil are constantly apparent in his battles, and its finest portion (the 16th canto), the description of the garden of Armida, is taken from the island of Venus, in the 9th canto

of Camoen's "Lusiad." Like Virgil, his originality is chiefly seen in his episodes, and like the Mantuan, his determination to produce a poem, shaped on a classic model, interfered with his inventive powers. It is in the earlier Italian poets, Pulci, Boiardo, and Ariosto, rather than Tasso, that the characteristic genius of modern Italy is seen in all its natural, spontaneous wildness, beauty, and variety. The epist, Tasso, though gifted with a fine intellect, and exquisite sensibility, cannot compare with his forerunners in spontaneous imagination. It is in the regions of pure romance, untrammelled by classic forms, that the Italian genius has produced its most national and delightful poetry.

To exalt the glory of Christendom was Tasso's object; to immortalize the national glory of Portugal, that of Camoens. A poem based on a voyage of discovery undertaken to connect Europe and the East by commerce, is in its ideal in advance of those of which mere war constituted the interest. That of the Portugese somewhat resembled the "Pharsalia" of Lucan, inasmuch as it derives its chief literary interest from its pictures, geographical and local; but though it is interspersed with vigorous descriptions in strong and rich language, it does not display much imagination. In its most famous passage, the apparition of the storm phantom of the Cape, the poet destroys the effect by entering into details respecting its appearance, which, though intended to be sublime, are merely horrible and ludicrous. It is a Dantesque conception in its literalness, but without a touch of the genius by which, if he did not always render sublime, he made his conceptions intensely impressive. Again, his description of the Isle of Venus, instead of painting the beauty of such a place in an imaginative manner, he has thought it necessary to display his observations as traveller, by describing almost every tree of the tropics. The bathing nymphs and other accessories, however, of this picture have left Tasso little to do but translate it into Italian, condensed and pruned of its prosaic superfluities of detail. Calypso's Island is, of course, the nucleus of all such poetic paradises of the ocean; and in its narrow but natural simplicity, the picture of Ho

mer has a charm more truly imaginative than those of the succeeding epic poets. To Milton's "Paradise Lost" we need not allude; the first, second, and sixth books, are the sublimest creations of epic poetry, nor is it necessary to add how much more poetically noble are his Garden of Eden, his Eve and Adam, than Tasso's garden of voluptuous enchantment, and his Armida.

Epics have thus been grounded on heroic life, battle, and voyage, on Christian chivalry, on conquest, and commercial discovery, and on the theologic history of Christianized humanity. The question arises are any of the nations of Europe likely to produce an epic embodying the spirit of the more modern epoch than which reflect the historic phases of the past? To great genius nothing is impossible. It is a current opinion that in the present age of prose romance, in which the chief object is to attract the reader by the highest stimuli of invention, a poem of the same length as the "Iliad" or "Paradise Lost" would obtain but a limited constituency of readers; but we believe that any well selected national subject, treated by great imagination and art, could hardly fail of success. A poem of this order, referring to modern times, would present many difficulties, but though devoid of the charm which remoteness ever gives, its want in that respect should be obviated by the peculiarity and novelty of its treatment. That there are abundant themes for epic poetry in antique and MiddleAge fable, affording unbounded scope for the imagination, we need not say; as regards England there is the period of Arthurian romance, from which the great Italians derived so much of their inspiration and materials, and which is now being worked up by Tennyson. On such fabulous periods epics are still possible, and very delightful ones, but they should be of a purely imaginary character, based on pure nature, moulded by pure art, and divested of the now absurd classical machinery which has interfered so much with the poetic effect of several above alluded to.

An epic poem, however, reflecting the modern age and impregnate with the modern spirit, should be based either on some historic circumstance or fable suitably invented with this

object, and should be designed to illustrate civilized humanity in the current epoch, in which man has progressed to a position independent of external circumstances, in which he stands at the head of the economy of nature, utilizing science as an instrument to control nature, and while developing her powers, elevating himself above them; in a word, he now represents the conquest of spirit over matter. A purely scientific poetry, indeed, or one merely intended to expound the discoveries of science would be merely didactic; but the introduction of its spirit into a poem referring to the condition of progressive man, would if treated with high imagination and art realize a degree of grandeur to which poetry has not hitherto attained. Poetry should divest the utilized facts, of science of the commonplace aspect in which they have come to be received, from familiarity, and, illuminating them by descriptive eloquence, display them as instruments of the power of progressive man and of the glories of civilization.

The machinery of the modern epic would thus be found in the spiritual triumphs of the greatest minds-this conquest of nature through the discovery of its laws and the inventions which have arisen therefrom. A good fable once founded in historic fact or invented, all such elements could be made instrumental to its progress. Every epic subject should be wrought out of elements-national, social, human-founded upon actions, thoughts, emotions, so universal as to render all human souls contemporary; it should contain the most vigorous delineations of incident and character, the grandest and most pathetic paintings of passion, all that the imagination can create in the realm between the real and possible; everywhere manifesting the noblest real and conceptive truth embodied by the most comprehensive art; and, uniting the Gothic with the scientific spirit, reflect at once the characteristics of the modern European imagination and the intellectual progress and glory of a civilized age.


CAST on this globe by cold mechanic Fate,
To breathe and suffer 'till I perish thence,
Choose thou, my soul, instead of love or hate,
The temperate sphere of calm indifference;
Matching against the infinite pitiless power,
That makes and breaks an universe at will,
A mind as feelingless and firm, until

The hurrying darkness of the final hour
Blots thee to nothing. Let the human race,
Weak, wanton, treacherous, cruel, pass thine eye
As pictures, to be viewed a little space

From out thy stoical security

Then yielded to oblivion. Come what may

Matter and soul to change or ruin tend;

Life's only pleasure is, that every day

But brings our natures nearer to their end.



MANY persons who live in London may have seen, and a far greater number who vegetate beyond that busy, boiling focus of excitement, energy, ambition, vice, and virtue, have undoubtedly heard or read how, on the 1st of every August, as surely as the day comes round, six "jolly young watermen," arrayed in uniform, each with a faultless wherry, whose build causes the eyes of professionals and amateurs to water, form in a line, at London Bridge, on the Westminster side, facing up the river, opposite to what was, and may perchance be still, for aught we know to the contrary, that well-known house of call, "The Old Swan." On a signal, given at the exact time of ebbing tide, when the current is strongest against them, they start together, and pull with might and main, as fiercely as John Gilpin tugged at his horse's neck in his compulsory ride, until they reach "The White Swan," or its site, at Chelsea. The removal of ancient landmarks by the hand of ruthless improvement makes sad havoc with historic reminiscences, and saddens the heart of the despairing antiquary ; but, happily, this barbarism cannot alter appointed scenes of action, or confuse their limits. When the goal in this aquatic Olympic race is reached the proclaimed victor receives his prize--a professional upper garment, spic and span new, with a real silver badge on one of the arms. This is called "Dogget's Coat and Badge," from the name of the original donor who founded this annual display of skill, and bequeathed at his death a sum of money, secured in the Fishmongers' Company, the interest of which was to be appropriated each year, and for ever, to the same purpose, in loyal commemoration of the advent of the House of Hanover to the throne of these realms. The first match took place on the 1st of August, 1715, and has continued on the appointed anniversary, without intermission, to the present date.

But who or what was this publicspirited, patriotic Dogget, who has


thus perpetuated his name, although he was a bachelor without offspring? Was he a lord mayor, or an alderman, or a loriner, anglice a saddler, or a fishmonger, or a cordwainer, or a tailor, or a "linen-draper bold," or a peer, or a baronet, or a simple knight, or a squire? No; he was none of these. The name would scarcely dignify the peerage, albeit there be some Wallops, and Smiths, and Browns, and Joneses there, even less aristocratically euphonious. People,in general neither ask nor care what he was. The successful Tom Tug who figures in the prize may perhaps top off a gill to the memory of the founder, but there his interest in the matter ends. Go amongst the countless. thousands who jostie pell-mell to the Derby, the Oaks, or the St. Leger, as if they scarcely expect to live till they get there, who consider these worldrenowned reunions as part and parcel of their existence, events in which they have a vested interest, and ask how, why, or where each got its distinguishing name. Not one in one thousand can tell you. The answer will be as satisfactory as the usual English response, if in any given city, town, or village, you venture to inquire the way to such a shop or house, "really I dont know: I am a stranger here."

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Well, then, this Dogget was an actor, a manager, an author, too--for he wrote a comedy-and, withal, an Irishman. This last accidental item was no particular recommendation in those days to gentlemen in search of a living on the Saxon side of the channel. But he was not only a very humorous son of Erin, but a prudent one, to boot, for he made money and kept it; was known on 'Change as a successful dabbler in the stocks; had savings in the funds, a good floating balance at his bankers; led a highly respectable life, and died in ripe old age, as honest Partridge so fervently expressed his wish to pass away, comfortably in a bed, with sorrowing friends around him.

Dogget's intended gift was adver


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