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Art. II.-Introduction to the Literature of is much, on the other hand, in its unity

Europe, &c. By Henry Hallam, Esq. and coherence-in its being woven, as it Vols. ii. iii. iv. London, 1839. were, in one woof, or cast in one mould,

by the finest and most complicated piece Mr. Hallam has completed his work of mechanism which nature, or rather the with the same industry, the same solid God of Nature, has wrought in his omniand masculine good sense, which distin- fic bounty,-a commanding and compreguished his first volume. There is an hensive understanding. obvious objection to the successful exe Mr. Hallam, like Kehama, treads with cution of such an undertaking as a gene- firm step and secure footing at once his ral and comprehensive view of literature, various paths of literature ; and it is one during two or three of its most fertile of the most remarkable characteristics of centuries, by a single writer; that it this work, that the most elaborate, and, would have been better to have left each as are of opinion, most successful department of science and letters to some passages, treat about writers on such individual who has made it his especial various subjects, and of such different study. This, however, is met, we con- character. We would instance the view ceive, and counterbalanced, by some im- of the philosophy of Descartes, of Spinosa, portant advantages. Unless we are pre- and of Hobbes, and in general the propared to encounter the utmost length and gress of metaphysical inquiry ; as conminuteness, to which the ardent and ex- trasted with the unaffected originality clusive votary might be disposed to fol- and acuteness of some of the observations low out his own science or branch of on what might be considered the exhaustliterature, there must at last have been ed merits of Shakspeare and Cervantes. some supreme and dictatorial power to

While we

survey, in Mr. Hallam's compress the whole into a limited space pages, the literary history of a period, —to retrench, to re-cast, to re-model, to so long, so prolific, and so various, we decide summarily on the jealousies and cannot but yield to the temptation of inconflicting claims of each contributor, as quiring whether we can trace any prito the importance of his favourite sub- mary and simple laws of the intellectual ject ; to proscribe the invasion of a neigh- development of man; whether there bouring province; and above all, to trace are any conditions of our religious, pothe mutual relation which the various litical, or social being peculiarly favourbranches of intellectual study bear to able, or strikingly adverse, to letters in each other. On this plan we might have general, or to any particular branch of had several useful works, with some sort letters ; under what circumstances the of mutual connection ; but we should imagination pours forth her richest treahave had no whole, no general and har- sures, or severe reason unfolds the mysmonious summary of the proceedings of teries of the external world, and of the the human intellect during a definite human mind; where poetry is best quickperiod. The example of the Bridge-ened into life, or oratory endowed with water Treatises is not without signifi- the power of agitating the soul ; where cance. Though we might be disinclined history registers, in undying language, to submit the volumes of Whewell or the acts of men and the events of the Buckland to the supremacy of some one world ; where political science sheds its perhaps far less profoundly versed in brightest light on human affairs, or phiastronomy or geology; though the more losophy either stoops to our practical minute and subtle investigations of Roget duties, or soars to the first principles of might lose much, both of interest and things ; or even where religion, or reliusefulness, by compression or retrench- gious literature, exalts and purifies the ment; yet who, on surveying the long heart, while it disdains not the alliance array of volumes on this high and solemn, of man's highest reason. In a word, is yet after all simple, argument, does not there any uniformity or regularity in the wish that some strong and masterly hand progress of mental improvement ?-or had been employed to mould them into do great intellects break out casually, one great Natural Theology,' with a and, if we may so say, accidentally separate chapter, by Mr. Babbage's liberal triumph, by the force of genius and inpermission, for the ninth ? So in the tellectual energy, over all impediments literary history of these centuries, if we and difficulties, and force an unprepared should gain in fulness and in authority and uncongenial age to their acceptance, by this division of literary labour, there and to admiration?

At first sight, on these points, all is it is heaven's lightning, which shines perplexity, confusion and contradiction. from the east to the west, yet no one Dante is born amid the fierce conflicts and knoweth whence it cometh or whither it the civilanimosities of the free Italian re- goeth. In Tasso it may be considered publics; Ariosto and Tasso flourish at the (but how rare is this,) in some degree an courts of petty princes, or under the mag. hereditary appanage. Torquato may be nificent despotism of the Papacy during considered as cradled in poetry, by the that glorious age of art and letters. The example of his father Bernardo, who, Reformation appears either to exhaust or however, did not much encourage the to blast the intellect of Germany to bar- child that was so completely to eclipse renness, or at least to extinguish her his own name. It suddenly breaks out vernacular literature-(from Luther's in one of a parcel of deer-stealing youths, Bible to Lessing and Herder there is of undistinguished name and parentage, little more than a dull blank),--while it in a rural county in England : it seizes seems to summon into life our Elizabeth- on Burns at his plough. Philosophy an poets and philosophers--our Spensers, emerges from the cell of a monk-deShakspeares, Hookers, Bacons. The re- scends from the woolsack of Great Bri. vival of Roman Catholicism is almost con- tain-visits with its subtlest, if not its temporaneous, and no doubt part of the soundest, spirit of inquiry, the humble inspiration of the splendid, though brief dwelling of a Jew of Amsterdam-or period of Spanish literature, the age of works itself into fame and usefulness, Lope, Cervantes, and Calderon : it pro- from the cottage of a poor artisan. Yet duced its vivifying effects on Italy; but it is remarkable how admirably timed southern Germany remained lifeless and almost every great writer appears to be ; unawakened. Free institutions have in the man is born who is wanted for his general fostered the noblest products of age ; in general, exactly the circumstanthe mind : but for her more perfect prose ces congenial to his peculiar genius conand her best poetry, France must yet spire to develope his powers. Had Shaklook back to the gorgeous days of the speare been born before the stage had court of Louis XIV., to Bossuet, Pascal, taken its form under Elizabeth, what Corneille, and Racine. While the liter- would he have been ? If Roger Bacon, ature of some countries springs up at or even the Marquess of Worcester, had once to full height and stature-a Miner- been reserved for a later period, might va from the head of Jove--in others it is they not have contributed most effecslowly and progressively matured ; while tively and usefully to the advancement in some lands it seems to exhaust all its of science-have vied with the Newtons, creative energies in one brilliant summer, Cuviers, or Watts ? in others it has a succession of produc There can be no doubt that there are tive seasons, and its prolific power seems many premature births in the mental to increase with the richness of its pro- world; and Gray is not far wrong when duce. One language seems destined to he thinks that many mute inglorious Milsucceed in one branch of intellectual tons may have been buried in village obstudy : its poetical style, for instance, is scurity. Nature, no doubt, in her boundperfect—while it never, or rarely, attains less and untraceable prodigality, allows to eloquent or harmonious prose : in much of her noblest creation—the invenanother, the higher poetry seems to tive and intelligent mind of man-to run want congenial words to express its to waste. The whole analogy of created thoughts. Here letters, arts, and philo- things indicates this. The most powersophy seem to prosper from the concen- ful intellect, just as it arrives at maturity, tration, as it were, of the nation in one sinks into the grave; and the baffled large capital; there by its diffusion hopes of those who have watched the preamong a number of smaller and rival cocious promise of genius and wisdom cities.

are surely not always fond illusions. But All this is unquestionable ; and it may it should seem, on the other hand, that, be safely assumed, that no age, no com- if we may so speak, there is always a vast bination of political or social circumstan- floating capital of invention and intellect, ces, no particular state of the human which only requires to be directed into mind, will, of itself, call forth a great the proper channels to multiply a hundred poet or a great philosopher. True geni- fold. Great occasions seem always to us springs up we know not from what call forth great minds; and that great quarter, what station, what parentage ; mind which is best adapted to the neces.

with it;

sities and to the character of the age the clouds, a stirring of the stagnant wasprings at once to the first rank. Wher-ters, a manifest yearning after something ever any important question has arisen, undefined; many unsuccessful efforts to some bold intellect has arisen to grapple satisfy the cravings of the human mind;

and it is this happy coincidence failures which show the way to success, between the character and powers of the imperfect outlines and rude designs, the commanding mind, and the intellectual or pangs and throes of a great but yet imsocial necessities of the time, which mature birth. At length, the individual brings to maturity all the noblest and the appears who comprehends at once his own sempiternal works of human genius. Here power and the character of his times, or and there some solitary individual may at least intuitively feels himself in harbe discovered,

mony with the demands of the stirring

and yet dissatisfied age; and in one great · Whose soul is like a star, and dwells apart,' work, or series of works, concentrates the

invention, the knowledge, the poetry, who is far in advance-an unintelligible sometimes not of one nation alone, but of mystery to his own times, but whose pro- the republic of letters. He feels his diphetic oracles are read with wonder and vine mission, and his mission is acknowreverence by late posterity. But these ledged. exceptions prove rather than call in ques- At the period at which Mr. Hallam's tion the general law; and the fact, that second volume commences, the latter half they were perfectly obscure to their own of the sixteenth century, the strong and generation, and are read not without dif- governing impulses of the European inficulty, as is almost always the case, by tellect were the yet imperfect, or at least later ages, shows that there has been far from general, revival of classical learnstill something wanting to their full and ing, the Reformation, and the vigorous perfect development.

reaction of Roman Catholicism in southNothing, perhaps (excepting of course ern Europe. Italy was the acknowledged the invention of printing), has so power- parent both of the poetry and the general fully contributed to the richness of mo- literature of Christendom; Dante, Pedern literature as the infinite variety, the trarch, and Ariosto, stood almost alone constant vicissitudes in the political and as the vernacular poets of Europe—(the social state of the different nations of Eu- Nibelungen of the Germans, and the Cid rope. In the literature of each land, as of Spain, belonged to a passed age, and in a mirror, we behold these perpetual our own Chaucer, with all his inimitable changes-the intervals of excitement and humour, invention, and sweetness, was repose-of restless activity, and torpid fettered in his influence by the yet rude stagnation of vigorous exertion, and the and imperfect state of the English lanlassitude of exhaustion-the succession guage). In the revival of letters, Italy of more imaginative or more severely- had asserted the same priority, if not prereasoning periods. As one nation, or one eminence, with her Ficinus, Politian, and language, after maintaining the lead for a other well-known names. But in this short time, drops behind in the glorious latter department, the more polished, and race, another starts to the front, some gradually servilizing Italy began to shrink times springs far a-head of its wondering from her bold Platonic reveries, and that contemporaries, or, severely pressed by ardent homage to classical literature, the emulation of others, hardly keeps its which for a short period was her religion, ground.

and, in fact, set itself above her ChristiIn general, we think it may be assumed, anity; she began to stoop to the cultivanot indeed as an universal law, but as the tion of mere style, to limit her timid amusual course of things, that it is after the bition to purity of diction, and harmony first violent impulse produced by the in- of Latin period. In the mean time, the troduction of a new tone of opinion and more masculine and independent transalsentiment ; after a period of agitation and pine mind followed up the study of the excitement, from a sudden or gradual classics with unwearied industry. Even change in the political or social state of in Latin style, perhaps, after all, Muretus, the country, that the individual arises and the other finished scholars of this pewho, in poetry or prose, in imaginative riod in Italy, never reached the ease and excellence or in philosophy, becomes the idiomatic, if perhaps less rigidly correct, organ and the representative of the new flow of Erasmus; while, in the more solid state of things. There is a scattering of attainments of scholarship, they fall far

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below the Casaubons and Scaligers of ed diction, accomplished that which in northern Europe.

many other countries has not yet come It is remarkable that, while thus in the to maturity, in our own has been formed vain cultivation of a pure Latin style, Italy no doubt by the concurrent influences of was retiring from the foremost rank of parliamentary speaking, the bar, and the European scholars, from the loss of her periodical press. independence, the enforced submission to But Italy had not completed her triumpetty domestic or to mightier foreign ty- virate, if we include Petrarch, her great rannies, the growth of her vernacular quaternion of poets. Tasso was yet to prose seemed stifled in its birth. Has it fulfil his mission, and take his place in ever, even in later times, equalled the the highest constellation of modern poetic nerve, the preciseness, the perspicuity of literature. We have just received a very Machiavelli? Excellent as are some of pleasing and judicious essay by Ranke, her historians in many of the highest the historian of the Popes, on the history qualifications of their calling--although of Italian poetry (• Zur Geschichte der we cannot read Davila, Guicciardini, or Italienischen Poesie '), in which we reeven, perhaps the best in style, Sarpi ; in joice to find a close coincidence with our later days Giannone, and we are disposed own views of the influence which gave to add Galluzzi, without the highest ad. its peculiar form and character to the miration of their powers--yet more or Jerusalem Delivered.' Though Mr. less the same interminable and intricate Hallam has not looked upon it quite from prolixity of sentence, the same want of the same point of view, his general sentivivid perspicuity, of ease, of natural pause ment is to a great degree in accordance and emphasis, the same elaborately un- with our own and with that of Ranke. finished and inharmonious periods, chill our delight in reading them into a duty and • The Jerusalem,' observes Mr. Hallam, 'is the a task. Many of their admirable political | times. It was justly observed by Voltaire, that in

great epic poem, in the strict sense, of modern and philosophical treatises labour under the choice of his subject Tasso is superior to Hothe same defect. Galileo stands almost mer. Whatever interest tradition might have at. alone, not merely in the matter, but in the tached among the Greeks to the wrath of Achilles manner of his composition. We should and the death of Hector, was slight to those genu

ine recollections which were associated with the at once decide that political independ- first crusade. It was not the theme of a single ence, with its constant practical inter- people, but of Europe ; not a fluctuating tradition, course of man and man, its collisions of but certain history ; yet history so far remote from intellect, and its absolute necessity of the poet's time, as to adapt itself to his purpose commanding the popular mind by clear, subject have been chosen so well in another age or and intelligible, and striking language, country; it was still the holy war, and the sym. was absolutely indispensable to the for: pathies of his readers were easily excited for relimation of a good prose style, if we were gious chivalry ; but, in Italy, this was no longer not suddenly arrested in our sentence by gotry, which perhaps might still have been required

an absorbing sentiment; and the stern tone of bi. the thought of the great writers of France from a Castilian poet, would have been dissonant under Louis XIV. But, notwithstanding amidst the soft notes that charmed the court of the enormous pedantry of her lawyers,

Ferrara.'—vol. ii. pp. 268, 269. and the utter want of taste in the more This great poem arose from the union formal and elaborate writings of the of the dominant classical taste with the period, we are inclined to thing that the lingering love of romance or chivalry, more terse and animated and perspicuous blended, as it were, and harmonised by the form of French prose was at least com- strong religious feeling which had arisen menced in the previous time of political out of the reviving Roman Catholicism. faction and tumult. Many of the pam- Tasso himself is the irrefragable authorphlets addressed to the people speak a ity for his own design of harmonising in rude perhaps, but popular, and therefore one poem the nobler characteristics of direct and intelligible style. Montaigne, the modern romance and the ancient no doubt, with his unwrought, yet lucid epic ; the richness and variety of the one, language, contributed greatly to this re- with the symmetry and unity of the sult. And, as we shall hereafter attempt other. to show, the concentration of France in Mr. Hallam has not noticed (we think the capital ; the manners of the court, they deserve a place in the history of profound in nothing, but aspiring to be literature) either the prose works, or the brilliant in everything; the pulpit, which very sweet and graceful minor poems of to its kingly or aristocratical audience Tasso. In his prose writings, the author could not speak but in a pure and polish of the Jerusalem has himself explained the philosophy of his poem. The tender charm—while the total failure of the and sensitive temperament of Tasso, other is attributable to the ill-chosen subwhich turned away in unconquerable reject, the servile imitation of Homer, the pugnance from the study of the law, ap- want of life, originality, and truth, not to plied itself with the severest study to the the more simple and classical construcprinciples of poetical criticism. An epic tion of the fable. poet at the age of eighteen, his Rinaldo The subject chosen by Tasso for his had already something of the union of great poem, combined with singular felichivalrous interest and adventure with a city the truth of history with the richest simpler fable. But in his discourse on fiction. It lay in a period in which histoheroic poetry, which M. Ranke assigns to ry itself was romance; in which the the twenty-first year of his age (A.D. wildest adventures of chivalry mingled 1564), * Tasso developed the whole the- with the vivid realities of life; its scene ory of his poetical design. After an elo- was placed in that marvellous East, indequent description of the variety and unity pendent of its sacred associations, so ferof the world, he proceeds, .So do I con- tile in wonder-in which the imagination ceive that by an excellent poet, who is of Europe had long wandered-among called divine for no reason but because the courts of gorgeous satraps and sul. he resembles in his work the Supreme tans-in battle-fields where the turbaned Artificer, a poem might be formed, in and misbelieving hosts swarmed in mywhich, as in a little world, might be read, riads——the realms of boundless wealth, of here the array of armies; here battles by pride, of magic, of seductive beauty, and land and sea, sieges, skirmishes, single of valour which made its chieftains worcombats, joustings; here descriptions of thy antagonists of the noblest chivalry: famine and of drought, tempests, confla- above all, it was a war of religion, it was grations, prodigies; there might be found Christendom arrayed against Mohammethe councils of celestial and infernal be- danism, the cross against the crescent, ings, seditions, wanderings, chances, en- the worshipper of Christ against, as he was chantments; there deeds of cruelty, of strangely called, the heathen and idoladaring, of courtesy, of generosity; there trous Saracen. "It was in this severe and love-adventures, happy or unhappy, joy- solemn spirit, which the revival of Roman ous or melancholy; yet, nevertheless, Catholicism had spread almost throughthe poem which comprehends this variety out Italy, that Tasso conceived and acmight be one, one in form and spirit; and complished his poem. The age would that all these things should be arranged no longer have endured, the strengthenin such a manner as to have a mutual re-ed Church would have sternly proscribed, lation and correspondence, a dependence had it not already been in possession of either of necessity or of verisimilitude the popular mind, the free and mocking upon each other, so that one part either irony of Pulci-or even that from which taken away, or changed in its position, it was too late to disenchant the enamourwould destroy the unity of the whole.' ed ear, the gayer, more voluptuous Arios. Throughout this discourse and the next, to. It was, in fact, this earnest religious on the art of poetry, the two standing ex- feeling which was the inspiration of Tasamples, to which Tasso appeals, are the so, and working to excess upon Orlando of Ariosto and the Italia Liberata bid and distempered spirit, darkened the of Trissino ; and he constantly argues that noonday of his life with the deepest it is not the irregularity of the former, misery. Tasso had been educated in a but its inexhaustible interest, its vivid deli- school of the Jesuits, that order which neation of character, its unfailing poetry, was now in the first outbreak of its fer that forms its lasting and irresistible vent piety and zealous intolerance. He

had received the sacrament at nine years * There appears to us some difficulty as to the date of the Discorso. M. Ranke observes, that old, and though co

comprehending little Tasso was the first productive genius who set out of the mystic significance of that holy from a mature and perfect theory to its accomplish. rite, his heart had been profoundly imment in a great poem. Yet there are some ex: pressed by the majesty of the scene and pressions at the beginning of the Discorso' which of the place, the preparation, the visible appear to intimate that it was written after the poem had been begun. It was published much emotion of the communicants, who stood later, but Tasso asserts that he had made few ad. around with deep suppressed murmurs, ditions to his original treatise :

-Laquale io com. posi in pochi giorni-e molti anni prima che io The hatred of unbelief and heresy, min.

or beating their breasts with their hands. ripigliassi il poema tralasciato nel terzo o nel quar. to canto' (Opere di Tasso, t. xii. p. 8, edit. 1823).

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