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“ Virtue could see to do what virtue would .
By her own radiant light, though sun and moon Were in the flat sea sunk. And Wisdom's self Oft seeks to sweet retired solitude, Where with her best nurse, Contemplation, She plumes her feathers, and lets grow her wings, That in the various bustle of resort Were all too ruffled, and sometimes impair'd." Cowper has personified Winter, as the
- "King of intimate delights,
Fire-side enjoyments, homeborn happiness”and has introduced him in a very picturesque description: thus :
« O Winter, ruler of the inverted year,
Allegory is a prolonged use of figures, so connected in sense as to form a parable or fable. Gray's Ode to Adversity is an allegory.
“ODE TO ADVERSITY.
Thou tamer of the human breast,
The bad affright, afflict the best!
And purple tyrants vainly groan
Virtue, his darling child, design’d,
To thee he gave the heav'nly birth,
And bade to form her infant mind.
What sorrow was, thou bad'st her know,
Self-pleasing Folly's idle brood,
And leave us leisure to be good.
Immers’d in rapturous thought profound,
With leaden eye that loves the ground,
With Justice, to herself severe,
Dread Goddess, lay thy chastning hand!
Not circled with the vengeful band
With screaming horror's funeral cry,
Thy milder influence impart,
To soften, not to wound my heart.
Exact my own defects to scan,
Mr. Gray has thus personified Misfortune or Adversity. He has represented her as the daughter of the supreme deity ; but employed to “affright the bad, and afflict the best men”-“Whom he loveth, he chasteneth,” or purifieth, say the Hebrew Scriptures. Perhaps this excelent poet had this passage in his mind when he wrote this stanza. “Sweet are the uses of Adversity," says Shakspeare, and so has Gray represented them.-6By the sadness of the countenance, the heart is made better,” says Solomon. Taught by our sufferings, we learn to pity others; we abandon our follies, and gain leisure to be good. When we are in affliction, the sordid, and the frivolous, who shared the pleasures of our prosperity, forsake us ; but our virtues—wisdom, meditation, charity, justice, and pity, remain with us, and console us. The poet, having asserted this, changes the form of his verses to apostrophe, and entreats the goddess, as he terms Adversity, to spare him from the severest inflictions of her hand, and to purify and exalt his heart. Young persons should commit these fine verses to memory.
Antithesis is a figure by which words and ideas very different or contrary are contrasted or placed together, that they may mutually set off and illustrate each other.
In Blair's Sermon on Gentleness the annexed example of Antithesis may be found:
"As there is a worldly happiness which God perceives to be no more than disguised misery; as there are worldly honours which in his estimation are reproach: so there is a worldly wisdom which in his sight is foolishness. Of this worldly wisdom the characters are given in the Scriptures, and placed in contrast with those of the wisdom which is from above. The one is the wisdom of the crafty; the other that of the upright : the one terminates in selfishness; the other in charity: the one is full of strife and bitter envyings; the other of mercy and of good fruits.”
The antithetical words of this passage are printed in italics— Happiness and misery, honour and reproach, wis. dom and foolishness, are ideas in direct opposition-and
the remaining antitheses of the period are, it is presumed, quite as clear.
The preceding definitions are not as full as might be, but they are simple, and necessary to be understood in order to read poetry with good taste and satisfaction. There must be elementary books in common use, which give more critical and elaborate instances of the artificial structure of poetic diction.
HISTORY OF ENGLISH POETRY. . Young persons at all instructed in modern history know, that the English language is formed from several more ancient languages. The Romans carried the Latin into Britain half a century before the birth of Christ. About four hundred years after, the Saxons, a warlike people from Germany, succeeded the Romans as masters of England, and introduced and established their speech with their dominion. The language of England for several centuries was what is called the Anglo-Saxon, but this was superseded, in great measure, by the Norman French. In 1066, William, Duke of Normandy, in - France, conquered England, and established his power over the country. He brought with him a multitude of followers whom he distributed over the kingdom, and caused the ministration of religion and the laws to be announced in the Norman French. This language gradually combined itself with the previous dialect of England, and our English language, by slow degrees, has been drawn from these sources.
The Anglo-Saxons were not wholly without literature; they had wandering minstrels who sung verses, and in their convents some of the priests composed in rhyme. The Normans brought to England their own poetry, which consisted chiefly of songs, satires, morality, and rhyming chronicles. But in the twelfth century, the crusades, or religious war, carried on by the Europeans in Palestine, furnished romantic adventures which the poets rehearsed in verse; and at the same time, narrative poems from scripture and classical subjects began to appear in England. In the thirteenth century it became customary for the minstrels to “sing devotional strains to the harp on Sundays, for the edification of the people, instead of the verses on gayer subjects which were sung at public entertainments."
The first original poem of any extent in the English language is ascribed to Robert Langlande, a priest. It