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“ Soft is the strain when Zephyr gently blows,
Not so when swift Camilla scours the plain,
There is, then, a constant propensity in the English ear to rest upon consonant sounds, and particularly in poetry, where the ear expects a still stronger rest on the final' word. If a line in English poetry terminates in a vowel, we instantly feel, instead of this strong consonant sound which we expected, a sudden depression of the voice; for, all the other words in the line ending generally in consonant sounds, the weakness of the vowel sound makes itself sensibly felt, when it occurs in a syllable which we expected to be particularly strong. Hence, the word that should be most strongly accented is hardly heard, as it dies away in a vowel sound. In Italian it could not die away, because every other word in the line generally ending in the same dying manner, each retains its full force, and no depression is felt as in the English, all these vowel terminations being in harmony and cadence with each other. If a line in English poetry ends in a vowel sound, this vowel sound can seldom, if ever, harmonize with any other word in the same line, because few words in the line end in a vowel sound. The rhyming word, therefore, dies away and is forgotten, before we come to the next word that rhymes with it, particularly if the rhyming word does not occur in the next fine, which is not the case in Ariosto's stanza.
In the following six lines from Hoole's translation of Ariosto *, the reader cannot but perceive a very sensible and disagreeable falling of the voice in the last two lines, which is entirely owing to their ending in vowel sounds :
“ Now to the stream the panting virgin flies,
Tho' pale with dread, the trembling fair he knew.”
Mr. Rose, however, defends the propriety of translating Ariosto in the original stanza, by saying, " that the poet usually
* Canto I. stanza xv.
closes the idea with it, and that the end of most of them is marked by something epigrammatic either in sense or sound, which would be out of its place except in the concluding couplet.” This epigrammatic point, we must confess, we never perceived in Ariosto's stanzas except by accident. That he never intended or proposed to conclude his stanzas in an epigrammatic point, is evident from Mr. Rose's own translation, where no such points can be discovered ; and if his object was to preserve this point, why has he not preserved it? Another reason assigned by Mr. Rose for translating in the original stanza is, that “ each canto or collection of stanzas may be compared to a gallery of cabinet pictures, all perhaps striking or beautiful, but frequently executed on different principles, each of which is often only in harmony with itself.” Nothing can be more erroneous than this assertion, for it is obvious, from what we stated in our former number, that all the cantos of Ariosto are in perfect harmony with each other. Indeed, we are surprised how Mr. Rose could call each of these cantos striking and beautiful, if they were not in harmony with each other, for without this harmony there can be no beauty. Besides, if the parts be beautiful in themselves, though not harmonizing with each other, how can Mr. Rose assert, that “ the Furioso often pleases as a whole, while it offends in parts.” If the parts be not, as he himself asserts, in harmony with each other, how can the whole be beautiful ?
Our business, however, is not with Mr. Rose, but with Ariosto: in all qualities of style he is the most chaste and correct of all the Italian poets. In pathos and intensity of feeling, Dante was his superior, and Tasso in judgment and original design. In execution, however, in the minuter graces and elegancies of diction, in accuracy of delineation, and felicity of expression, Ariosto ranked above both. He was less indebted, however, to nature than to industry, and that elegance of taste which is acquired from studying the best models. He is seldom sublime, except when he imitates; but he seldom imitates without improving on his original. One of the finest similes in the Orlando is that in which Medoro, endeavouring to save the body of his king, and surrounded by enemies, is compared to a boar surprised by the hunters in his cave, unable to save them, and incapable of abandoning them. This beautiful passage, however, is almost a literal copy of the following passage in Statius :
" Ut Lea quam sævo fætam pressere cubili
Of this, the passage in Ariosto is almost a literal translation:
" Come orsa che l'alpestre cacciatore
But though Ariosto has thus copied his predecessors, it would be far from doing him justice to suppose that he stood in need of copying them. Writers of original genius frequently copy each other without being aware of it; but there is always a character impressed upon their imitations, which shew that they copied, not from necessity, but from pure admiration of their originals. In reading and studying the classics, the passages which are marked with characters of sublimity, beauty, grace, and simplicity, make an impression on the plastic mind of youthful genius, which no length of time can erase. The dunce endeavours to recollect every thing he has read or studied : all is equally important in his eyes, but all happens to be equally useless to him, for, not having been affected by one passage more than another, all equally escape his recollection. Not so with the admirer of what is truly beautiful and sublime: every passage by which he is affected recurs to him whenever kindred associations or circumstances become the object of his contemplation, and they so naturally associate and mingle with his own mode of thinking and feeling, that he frequently imagines they are his own, and gives them as such to the world. Ariosto had very diligently studied the Latin poets, and, therefore, fell insensibly, at times, into their modes of feeling and thinking on subjects of a similar nature. It is a fact unnoticed in the history of literature;—it is a fact neither accredited nor suspected, that writers of genius are of all others the greatest imitators. Virgil is, throughout the Æneid, a constant imitator of Homer; Camoëns, who possessed a genius purely original, is still a more frequent imitator of Virgil; Fontaine has hardly a line of original matter: he is a professed imitator; Montesquieu is indebted to Aristotle for whatever is most excellent in his Spirit of Laws; Horace has plundered all the beauties of Anacreon, Simonides, Sappho, and Pindar; Corneille has imitated Lucan and the Spanish poets ; Racine adapted to the French stage the beauties of the Greek tragic poets ; Terence has embellished his writings with all the graces of Menander; the Greek orators have been the models of Cicero's eloquence; Sallust is a close imitator of Thucydides ;
and Rousseau is greatly indebted to Seneca and Montaigne. Shakspeare is the only original poet which England has produced; and perhaps next to him may be placed Dryden. Spenser is continually borrowing from Ariosto ; and Pope is indebted to all his predecessors. Homer and Shakspeare are perhaps the only two original poets that can be named; and we suspect they would have copied and imitated like all the rest, if they had had any models before them.
In the discrimination and delineation of character, Ariosto is unrivalled ; though he is more happy in pourtraying external nature and personal accomplishments, than the characters of mind, disposition, and sympathetic affections. In describing the exploits and achievements of his heroes, he is inimitable. We seem not to be readers, but actual spectators of the scene which he places before us. We have no difficulty in ascertaining the traits of character that distinguish Orlando from Rinaldo, Rinaldo from Rogero, Rogero from Rodomont, Rodomont from Maudricardo, Maudricardo from Ferrau, and so of all the other warriors. Orlando is a giant in strength; Rinaldo, with less strength, dares to attempt the most perilous exploits; Rogero seems to be a peculiar favourite of heaven; victory always awaits him-though, compared to Orlando, he is a pigmy in our eyes; and, what is still more remarkable, Rogero never excites our sympathy, favored, as he seems to be, by a superintending Providence, and exalted as he is by the poet himself; whereas Orlando never appears without calling forth the kindest feelings of our nature. Next to him Rolando is our greatest favorite.-We shall conclude by observing, that in accuracy and minuteness of description, whether the subject be the exploits of heroes, or the wild and diversified scenes of nature, Ariosto excels all poets ancient and modern. Whoever has perused his description of the single combat between Rogero and Rodomont, which concludes the work, will be satisfied of his pre-eminence in descriptive poetry.
Art. V.-Sermons preached upon several occasions by Robert
South, D. D. Third Edition. London, printed by W. S. for Thomas Bennet, at the Half-Moon, in St. Paul's Churchyard. 6 vols. 8vo. 1704.
In reviewing the sermons before us, it may not be amiss, for the benefit of the reader, to prefix some account of their singular author. South lived through a long and eventful
period of our history; and his bold and ardent spirit could not remain inactive amidst a disturbed age. From the pulpit, he fought for what he conceived to be the cause of truth and common sense ; he attached himself firmly to a party, and with undeviating constancy adhered to it to the end of his life. His character has been blackened by his numerous enemies; and those have but little cherished his memory who must have been his friends : he was too witty a man to be much loved.
Robert South was born at Hackney, and in 1647 he was admitted a King's scholar at Westminster ; in 1649, while reading the Latin prayers on the day of Charles's death, he made himself remarkable by praying for the king by name. Being chosen a student of Christ church, he applied himself vigorously to his studies; of the proficiency he made, his sermons are a noble and lasting memorial
. While he was at the University, he wrote a copy of Latin verses congratulating Cromwell on the peace he had made with the Dutch. This appears to have been an exercise for bis bachelor's degree, and probably the subject was not his own choice; certainly, it was the last compliment he paid either to the Protector or his party. In 1658, he was ordained by one of the deprived bishops, and immediately he commenced his ministry by a furious attack on the Independents, to the great joy of the Presbyterians. But the restoration of Charles, in 1660, made it no longer necessary for him to temporize, and from that moment, the Presbyterian, together with his younger brother the Independent, was the constant butt of his inexhaustible wit and satire. He was made, in rapid succession, Public Orator of the University, Chaplain to the Chancellor Clarendon, and Prebendary of Westminster. After Clarendon's banishment in 1667, he was appointed Chaplain to the Duke of York: the doctor's sermons, if James ever heard them, might perbaps confirm that weak prince's political creed; they certainly never taught him Popery.
During the reign of James, he spent most of his time in privacy: he could not tolerate the encroachments that were made on the rights of the national church, and yet his creed taught him “to abide by his allegiance, and use no other weapons
prayers and tears for the recovery of his sovereign from the wicked and unadvised counsels wherewith he was entangled."
Agreeably to these principles, he could not be induced to put his name to the invitation to the Prince of Orange, which was signed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and other bishops. He refused also to subscribe the Oxford Association Paper to stand by that prince. He took, however, the oaths to the new government, declaring," he saw nothing contrary to