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Then should our love be glowing as yon sky,
Pure as the crescent in the dim twilight,
Eternal as the ocean in his might,
And Time has spared no more! Those ruins gray
Left the sole vouchers for the house of prayer,
That voice of rapture once was breathing thero!
The river murmurs in its course as clear ;
E’en yet methinks a spirit lingers here;
To those who know how frail all earthly power,
to be as we have fought
Calls us away
ON THE PRACTICAL BATHOS.
“ To sink the deeper-rose the higher.”—Pope,
ALTHOUGH many learned scholars have laboured with much diligence in the illustration of the Bathos in poetry, we do not remember to have seen any essay calculated to point out the beauties and advantages of this figure when applied to actual life. Surely there is no one who will not allow that the want of such an essay is a desideratum which ought, as soon as possible, to be supplied. Conscious as we are that feeble
powers are not properly qualified to fill up this vacuum in scholastic literature;
yet, since the learned commentators of the present day have their hands full either of Greek or politics, we, an unlearned, but we trust a harmless body of quacks, will endeavour to supply the place of those who kill by rule, and will accordingly offer, for the advantage of our fellow-citizens, a few brief remarks on the Practical Bathos.
We will first lay it down as a principle, that the daporióxytov, as well in life as in poetry, is a figure, the beauties of which are innumerable and incontrovertible. For the benefit of my fair readers (for Phæbus and Bentley forbid that an Étonian should here need a Lexicon) I will state that the figure ampoo cóxntov is “ that which produceth things unexpected.” Take a few examples. In poetry there is a notable instance of this figure in the Edipus Tyrannus of Sophocles, where the messenger who discloses to Edipus his mistake in supposing Polybus to be his father, believing that the intelligence he brings is of the most agreeable nature, plants a dagger in the heart of his hearer by every word he utters. But Sophocles, although he must be acknowledged a great master of the dramatic art, is infinitely surpassed in the use of this figure by our good friend Mr. Farley of Covent-Garden. When we sit in mute astonishment to survey the various pictures which he conjures up, as it were by the wand of a sorcerer, moment ;—when columns and coal-holes, palaces and pigsties, summer and winter, succeed each other with such perpetually diversified images; we are continually exclaiming “Mr. Farley, what next ?” Every minute presents us with a new and more perfect specimen of this figure. Far be it from us to speak disrespectfully of Sophocles, for whom, as in duty bound, we entertain a most sincere veneration; but he certainly must rank beneath Mr. Farley as a manager of the oppoodoxntov. One of the most striking examples in the present day which'we can recommend to those who wish to apply this figure to the purposes of actual life, is, (may we say it
without being accused of a political allusion ?) her Majesty Queen Caroline.
That illustrious personage in one beautiful
from Calais to Dover) has certainly proved herself a perfect mistress of the απροσδόκητον.
Of this figure the Bathos must be considered a most elegant species. Again, for the benefit of our fair readers, we will observe, that the usual signification of the Bathos is—the Art of Sinking in Poetry; but what we here propose to discuss is "the Art of Sinking in Life;" -an art of which it may be truly said, that those who practise it skilfully only stoop to conquer.
It must be evident to every person who is at all conversant with the motives and origin of human opinions, that man is accustomed to regard with a feeling of animosity those who are pre-eminent in any science or virtue,
“ Urit enim fulgore suo qui prægravat artes
Infra se positas.” But this invidious and hostile feeling vanishes at once, when we behold the object of it sinking suddenly from the dazzling sphere he originally occupied, and reducing himself to a level with ordinary mortals. The divine and incomparable Clarissa would never have been considered divine and incomparable, had she never been betrayed into a faux pas; and I question whether Bonaparte was ever looked upon with so favourable an eye as when he afforded a specimen of the Bathos, in his descent from “ the Emperor of France” to “ the Captive of St. Helena.”
But the strongest argument that can be used in recommendation of this science is, that we are by nature herself compelled to make use of it. Whatever riches we may amass, whatever age we may attain, whatever honours we may enjoy, we are continually looking forward to one certain and universal Bathos, “Death. From learning, from wealth, from power, our descent
swift and inevitable. We look upon the graves of our kindred, and say with Hamlet," to this must we come at last."
This doctrine is so beautifully illustrated by a passage in Holy Writ, that we cannot refrain from laying it before our readers :
“ Alexander, son of Philip the Macedonian, made many wars, and won many strong holds, and slew the kings of the earth. And he gathered a mighty strong host, and ruled over countries and nations and kings, who became tributaries to him. And after these things he fell sick, -and perceived that he should-die." *
A more beautiful instance of this figure cannot be imagined. It needs no comment. But we fear we are growing too serious, and shall therefore pursue this branch of our dissertation no further.
We hope our readers are by this time thoroughly convinced of the beauty and utility of this figure; we will proceed to exhort them most earnestly to apply themselves immediately to the study of “the Art of Sinking in Life.”
The art may be divided into a great number of species; but all, we believe, may be comprehended under two heads,—the Bathos Gradual, and the Bathos Precipitate. We will offer a few concise remarks upon both, without pretending to decide between the various merits of each. Indeed, the opinion of the world appears pretty much divided between them; as there are some bathers, who stand for a time shivering on the brink, and at last totter into the stream with a tardy and reluctant step,while there are others who boldly plunge into the tide with a hasty and impetuous leap.
The Bathos Gradual is principally practised by poets and by coquettes. Of its use by the former we have frequent examples in our own day. A gentleman pub
* Maccabees, chapter 1.
lishes a book : it is bought, read, and admired. He publishes another, and his career of sinking immediately commences.
First he sinks into a book-maker; next he sinks into absurdity; next he sinks into mediocrity; next he sinks into oblivion; and, as it is impossible for him to sink much lower, he may then begin to think of rising to a garret.
The life of Chloe affords an admirable instance of the effect with which this species of the art may be exercised by coquettes. At twenty-four, Chloe was a fashionable beauty; at twenty-six she began to paint ; at twentyeight she was not what she had been; and at thirty she was voted a maiden-lady! Or, to use the slang of the loungers of the day: at twenty-four she was bang-up; at twenty-six she was a made-up thing; at twenty-eight was done up; and at thirty it was all up with her.
The Bathos Precipitate is adapted to the capacities of great generals, substantial merchants, dashing bloods, and young ladies who are in haste to be married.* For examples of it in the first we must refer you to Juvenal's Tenth Satire, as this part of our subject is hackneyed, and we despair of saying any thing
it. For examples of the Bathos Precipitate in trade, you must make inquiries among the Bulls and Bears on the Stock Exchange; they can instruct you much better than ourselves by what method you may be a good man at twelve o'clock, and a bankrupt at one.
* We might have added Stage Managers. Their genius for the Bathos Precipitate is frequently displayed in Notices of the following kind :
“ Monday, January 7. “ The New Drama, entitled
has been received with uninterrupted bursts of applause, and will be repeated every evening till farther notice.”
“ Tuesday, January 8. " In obedience to the wishes of the Public, the New Drama, entitled —,