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lions; and we believe that Böckh rightly describes the saltatory performances of the chorus as a sort of Pyrrhic, or war-dance, blended with gesticulation in such a manner as to suit both the encomiastic tenor of the verse, and the martial tone that frequently pervades its argument. But these erudite descriptions bring nothing within the cognizance of our senses. We must gather our impressions solely from style, dialect, and metre. And those who have small Latin and no Greek,' have hitherto been infinitely removed from even this imperfect method of compassing the spirit of the Theban bard. Imitations and translations, down to the appearance of Mr Cary's version, could do little for them.
Horace, for example, affords slender aid. In the true temper of Roman literature, he was, indeed, an unblushing plagiary. He pilfered from Pindar much that we can trace; far more, of which the sources have perished. But together with detached thoughts, or whole forms of verbal expression, he could not so easily borrow the inspiration of the mighty master, nor catch the mood of Pindaric song. There are portions of the Greek lyric poetry to which the character of the Horatian odes bears a strong similitude. These, however, are not to be found among the triumphal lays of Pindar. Composed under widely-different circumstances, and for widely-different ends, the lyric pieces of Horace sparkle all over with a point, terseness, and vivacity, as unlike as possible to the flow, the fire, the abruptness, and the diffusiveness of the elder poet. The opposite tendencies of their separate languages are nowhere more signally contrasted than in these two writers. The compressive, periodic style of Horace is ever inviting us to pause, ponder, and admire in detail; the magnificent impetuosity of Pindar hurries us on in a breathless transport, that only here and there allows a resting-place for reflection and wonder. We must remember, too, the comparative powers of their minds: curious felicity' on the one side; 'fine frenzy' on the other. It is, in Horace's own terms of proportion, the Matinian bee to the Dircæan swan. It is the cascade of Tivoli to the thunders of Niagara.
Cowley, with all his genius, in some respects akin to that of Pindar, will not help the reader, better than Horace, to a just conception of his professed prototype. His Pindarique odes are not truly Pindarical,' though he calls them so. To his two translations it is an unpromising preface to say, that an attempt to render the Grecian poet, word for word, would present the semblance of one madman interpreting another.' This not only shows a resolution to be paraphrastical, but likewise a grossly inadequate appreciation of his author. Accordingly he has taken, 'left out, and added what he pleased,' certainly so as not to let
the reader know precisely what Pindar spoke,' but certainly also not so as to exhibit his way and manner of speaking.' We need scarcely add, that both in these versions, and in his original Pindariques,' Cowley's capital vice is one and the same : Figures, conceits, raptures, and sentences, In a well-worded dress,'
forced in on every opportunity, and as often against as with the current of the sense. Ever and anon there is a noble burst of lyric ardour; but some piece of quaint frigidity is sure to intervene, that damps and extinguishes the flame. His better nature strives, but strives in vain, against his metaphysical school;—the nature of one who could choose so glorious a theme as 'Destiny,' against the school that could constrain him to represent it under the extravagant emblem of two angels playing at chess!*
Gray, as all the world knows, was fond of Pindar ;—fond of quoting him, of copying him, and of doing him into English. Yet he brings us no nearer than Horace and Cowley to the object of his regards. The cumbrous ornament, the methodical arrangement, the elaborate glitter of his lyrical compositions, are far apart from the high enthusiasm of the Theban minstrel, striking the chords in his iron chair, within the fragrance of Apollo's shrine. Now and then, perhaps, Gray had a true Pindaric fit, under the force of a kindred impulse; as when the sound of Parry's Welsh harp, at a Cambridge concert, inspired him with the conclusion of his Bard.' But,
• If to his share some happier moments fall,
it is impossible that that prim, spruce physiognomy, which appears in the portraits of Gray, should have covered a fountain of living fire. Without going the full length of Dr Johnson's illtempered criticism, we at least esteem it very discreet of Mr Mason to request that the reader will compare the picture of the Eagle, in the Progress of Poesy,' not with the original King of birds, in the first Pythian, but with West's version of that inimitable passage.
West's version will not do for that passage, nor for any other. We say this after a pretty close review of that gentleman's translations. They have considerable elegance, and an agreeable rhythm, and sometimes adhere faithfully to the meaning even of difficult places; but the last-named merit is exhibited rarely.
* Pindaric Odes,' No. VII.
He more commonly either overloads, or quite disguises the sense of his author. He changes epithets and invents interpretations with singular infelicity; he helps out the concise energy, so frequently conspicuous in Pindar, with adjuncts of his own, that destroy the characteristic abruptness; and he too often seems to be writing, not after Pindar, but on the general question.' There is more coincidence with the original in a complete version by the Rev. C. A. Wheelwright, Prebendary of Lincoln, which we find established in the Family Classical Library.' But this translation also abounds with errors. We have marked six blunders in one ode. Mr Wheelwright sometimes appears to have read Pindar backwards, he so utterly changes the meaning; he sometimes proves that you may give the exact words of an author without his sense; and by his interpolations and his dilutions, he wholly loses the Pindaric manner. There was verge enough for Mr Cary.
This is not the place for giving a general history of the lyric poetry of the Greeks, so earnestly called for by Böckh, Müller, and other German scholars, and pronounced by Müller to be a 'subject at once the most attractive and most difficult which ' remains for the industry of the present age;' but, without a few definite notions as to the source and nature of that kind of composition, it will be impossible to comprehend either Pindar's character, or the merits of his new translator. In Greece, then—and we do not scruple to extend the remark to the literature of every other country-lyric composition, all that truly deserved the name, was the poetry of emotion. Its source was in the heart, rather than the head; it was more of an effusion than an effort; and if skill and reason blended with its movements, they were but the handmaids of excitement, swaying and controlling them. Just as we may call Epic song the poetry of intellect, with its deliberate plan, solemn evolution, and affinity to history; or may call the Drama the poetry of passion, with its strong portraiture of intense humanity, its tablet of uncouth deeds, and quick reverse, and crushing woe; so we must call Lyric song the poetry of emotion, with its sudden breaks, its rapid combination of ideas, and the corresponding torrent of its numbers. We would affirm this as a general proposition, rather than seek to trace the lyric art, as is often attempted, to one predominant feeling. We cannot, especially with reference to Greek literature, describe it as the immediate offspring of devotion. The heart, excited by any cause, the imagination heated, the understanding winged and raised, pour out a rapture, which is poetry. All nature is full of this fervid element. There is not a feature of the external world on which the magic of light and distance does not throw some tints
of ideal beauty; there is not a feeling of man's heart which he shows to himself or to others in the nakedness of its original state. The agitations of his bosom break forth in metaphor, and the expression of them moulds itself to harmony. Here, then, is the element of song, coeval with the beginnings of society. As soon as music lent her sisterly aid, the element was fashioned into an art-the art of poetry, such as it was in primitive times, and as the lyric branch of it continued to be, was called into existence. Technically speaking, lyric composition was not the earliest shape of poetry among the Greeks; but their earliest poetical compositions the heroic songs antecedent to Homer-had about them much of the lyric character.
We do not mean to assert that lyric poetry did not find one of its most ancient functions in the service of religion. Beyond the limits of Greece, the lyric composition of highest antiquity, which we possess, is the superb hymn of Moses and the children of Israel, that was echoed back by the chorus and the timbrels of Miriam and her company. And, in the annals of Grecian poetry, nothing is more certain than the very early union of song and music with devotion. The traditionary character of the Orphic minstrelsy; the Dithyrambic and Phallic songs; the choric parts of tragedy and comedy; the whole of the tuneful worship of Bacchus, under his different attributes; display the fine arts in subservience to religious enthusiasm: nay, the surviving odes of Pindar himself, though written in the praise of earthly heroes, are all tinctured with a devout sentiment, and sublimed by the influence of a sacred celebration. It is necessary, however, to bear in mind, that natural emotion, in the widest sense, is the real fountain of lyric poetry, in order to be kept right in the judgments we deliver upon it. Nature and the human heart must form the basis of our criticism. These will account for all its peculiarities;for the seeming looseness of its measures, not unconnected with a certain charm of order-the startling violence of its transitions, not devoid of that principle of association, that effaces or abridges the apparent chasms-the wildness of its imagery, and the audacity of its metaphors. That a man must be mad to write lyric poetry, and nearly as mad to understand it, is false; but unquestionably both the author and the sympathizing reader of a genuine ode must know something of the heart in its tempests and convulsions. Dryden was a true lyric when he ramped about his room, as a common anecdote represents him, pouring out his famous tribute to the powers of music; and we should not expect much admiration of that magnificent ode from one who could not speak except in syllogisms, or whose breast was too shallow or too stern for the tumults of enthusiasm. Hence our neighbours of
France, who have so much vivacity, with so little sincere enthusiasm, are incapable, according to their own best critics,* of producing or comprehending lyric poetry. Hence, too, abundance of bad criticism among ourselves, from those who have not tried this species of composition by the standard of nature, in her moments of excitement, rejecting all conventional fopperies and affectations.
Call Dr Johnson into the court. He says that Dryden's poem on the Death of Mrs Anne Killigrew is undoubtedly the noblest 'ode that our language ever has produced.' He says again, of 'Alexander's Feast,' that compared with the ode on Killigrew, it may be pronounced perhaps superior in the whole, but without any single part equal to the first stanza of the other.' Not heeding the self-contradiction of these sentences, let us cite the first two, and the last seven lines of the specified stanza :—
Johnson's mind, conformed to the taste and images of artificial life, saw nothing incongruous in these allusions to the Horseguards, the London Gazette, the hustings, and the noviciate of a college-fellow !
But the history of many hearts will teach their owners, that technical forms, affected prettinesses, excessive ingenuity in the bodying out of thought every thing that savours of a conceit rather than of picturesque natural expression are contrary to the tendency of strong emotion, and fitted only to abate the lyric transport. The same experience makes it clear that this transport should not be dashed with too much of a meditative vein. But call in Dr Blair. He tells us that sentiments, of one kind ' or other, form, almost always, the subject of the ode.' That is, Dr Blair drew his notions of lyric excellence from Horace, whom he understood and admired; not from Pindar, with whose writings he had a very slender acquaintance. In a similar spirit, he evi
* See, for example, the Marquis de Condorcet, in his Life of Voltaire.
VOL. LIX. NO. CXIX.