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fix itself upon his “ hideous form ?”* In the sequel of the same ode we meet with
-“ the ravening brood of Fate, That lap the blood of Sorrow.”
The artist might fearfully represent wolves or wild dogs 'lapping the blood of a slain victim; but it would require the commentary of the passage itself to make the spectator understand, that by the former were meant “ the ravening brood of Fate,” that follow in the rear of “Vengeance,” — “the fiends,” that, near allied to “Danger” afore-mentioned, “ o'er Nature's wounds and wrecks preside;" and that their prey was the personification of “ Sorrow.” Yet the poet, in the context, does all this as tri
* Chaucer's description of “ Danger" in the Romaunt of the Rose, is exceedingly spirited, and equally characteristic with that of Collins, though very different, because the fiend is differently exercising himself :: Collins presents natural dangers from lightning, tempest, and earthquake, —Chaucer, the perils of war, battle, human violence, or ambush ; the last of which is finely conceived in the first couplet :
“ With that anon upstart Dangere
Out of the place where he was hidde;
He come criande as he were woode." (c) (a) Was seen in his look. (6) Crooked and upturred stood.
umphantly as though he could give bodily sight to the mental eye, by which they are discerned through the magic medium of his verse.
Let us bring – not into gladiatorial conflict, but into honourable competition, where neither can suffer disparagement — one of the masterpieces of ancient sculpture, and two stanzas from “ Childe Harold,” in which that very statue is turned into verse, which seems almost to make it visible :
THE DYING GLADIATOR.
« I see before me the Gladiator lie;
He leans upon his hand ; his manly brow
and now The arena swims around him, — he is gone, Ere ceased the inhuman shout that hail'd the wretch
Now, all this, sculpture has embodied in perpetual marble, and every association touched upon in the description might spring up in a well instructed mind, while contemplating the insulated figure which personifies the expiring champion. Painting might take up the same subject, and represent the amphitheatre thronged to the height with ferocious faces, all bent upon the exulting conqueror and his prostrate antagonist — a thousand for one of them sympathising rather with the transport of the former than the agony of the latter. Here, then, sculpture and painting have reached their climax; neither of
them can give the actual thoughts of the personages whom they exhibit so palpably to the outward sense, that the character of those thoughts cannot be mistaken. Poetry goes farther than both; and when one of the sisters had laid down her chisel, the other her pencil, she continues her strain ; wherein, having already sung what each have pictured, she thus reveals that secret of the sufferer's breaking heart, which neither of them could intimate by any visible sign. But we must return to the swoon of the dying
66 The arena swims around him, - he is
gone, Ere ceased the inhuman shout that hail'd the wretch
66 He heard it, and he heeded not,
But, where his rude hut by the Danube lay,
Myriads of eyes had gazed upon that statue ; through myriads of minds all the images and ideas connected with the combat and the fall, the spectators and the scene, had passed in the presence of that unconscious marble which has given immortality to the pangs of death ; but not a soul among all the beholders through eighteen centuries, — not one had ever before thought of “the rude hut,” the “ Dacian mother," the “
young barbarians.” came the poet of passion; and looking down upon
66 The dying Gladiator" (less as what it was than what it represented), turned the marble into man, and endowed it with human affections; then, away over the Apennines and over the Alps, away, on the wings of irrepressible sympathy, flew his spirit to the banks of the Danube, where, “with his heart," were the “ eyes” of the victim, under the night-fall of death; for “ there were his young barbarians all at play, and there their Dacian mother.” This is nature ; this is truth. While the conflict continued, the combatant thought of himself only; he aimed at nothing but victory; - when life and this were lost, his last thoughts, his sole thoughts, would turn to his wife and his little children.
In none of the foregoing remarks has the smallest slight been aimed at Music, Painting, or Sculpture, by giving the palm to Poetry; in fact it has been intended to exalt them, that, by showing the elder of the four sisters to be the intellectual superior of the younger three (illustrious and unsurpassed as each is in her own department), she herself might be crowned with the greater glory. On the subject of their generous rivalry let it be observed, that it is intellectual pre-eminence alone which is here claimed for poetry. The measure of original genius required for excelling in the one or the other, I leave undetermined.
The Comparative Rewards of Professors of the
Having thus endeavoured to prove, by no invidious comparisons, that poetry is the eldest, the rarest, and the most excellent of the fine arts, I may here touch upon another peculiarity not yet alluded to, being an extrinsic one, – in which each of the others bears away from her a prize “ for which they all contend,” though only of secondary, not to say sordid, value. Though the gift of poetry be the most beneficial to the world, it is the least profitable to the possessor. There has scarcely been a period, or a country, in which a poet could live by the fruits of his labours. This circumstance (in no respect dishonourable to the art) has been a snare by which multitudes of its professors have been tempted to dishonour both it and themselves, by courtly servility to royal and noble patrons ; — by yet viler degradation in ministering to vulgar prejudices, and pandering to gross passions; - or, with the garbage of low satire, feasting envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness, monsters of malignity, whose daily food, like that of the king of Cambay, in Hudibras, is 6 basilisk, and toad." But this is not the place to dwell upon the miseries and the sins of unfortunate poets; with nothing but their proverbial poverty have we to deal at present.
It is acknowledged, that great honours and emoluments have been bestowed on some of the tribe. Pindar knew the value of his talents in gold, and he exacted it. Virgil and Horace flourished within the