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Here therefore we have the rise and origin of criticism, which in its beginning was “a deep and philosophical search into the primary laws and elements of good writing, as far as they could be collected from the most approved performances."
In this contemplation of authors, the first critics not only attended to the powers and different species of words; the force of numerous composition, whether in prose or verse; the aptitude of its various kinds to different subjects; but they further considered that which is the basis of all, that is to say, in other words, the meaning or the sense. This led them at once into the most curious of subjects; the nature of man in general; the different characters of men, as they differ in rank or age; their reason and their passions; how the one was to be persuaded, the others to be raised or calmed; the places or repositories to which we may recur when we want proper matter for any of these purposes. Besides all this, they studied sentiments and manners ; what constitutes a work, one; what a whole and parts; what the essence of probable, and even of natural fiction, as contributing to constitute a just dramatic fable.
Much of this kind may be found in different parts of Plato. But Aristotle, his disciple, who may be called the systematizer of his master's doctrines, has in his two treatises of Poetry and Rhetoric,” with such wonderful penetration, developed every part of the subject, that he may be justly called the father of criticism, both from the age when he lived, and from his truly transcendent genius. The criticism which this capital writer taught, has so intimate a correspondence and alliance with philosophy, that we can call it by no other name than that of philosophical criticism.
To Aristotle succeeded his disciple Theophrastus, who followed his master's example in the study of criticism, as may be seen in the catalogue of his writings, preserved by Diogenes Laertius. But all the critical works of Theophrastus, as well as of many others, are now lost. The principal authors of the kind now remaining in Greek, are Demetrius of Phalera, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Dionysius Longinus, together with Hermogenes, Aphthonius, and a few others.
Of these the most masterly, seems to be Demetrius, who was the earliest, and who appears to follow the precepts, and even the text of Aristotle, with far greater attention than any of the rest. His examples, it must be confessed, are sometimes obscure; but this we rather impute to the destructive hand of time, which has prevented us from seeing many of the original authors.
Dionysius of Halicarnassus, the next in order, may be said to
To such as read not this author in the that of his Art of Poetry by Dacier ; both of original, we recommend the French trans- them elaborate and laudable performances. lation of his Rhetoric by Cassandre, and c Vid. Diog. Laert. lib. v. s. 46, 47, &c.
have written with judgment upon the force of numerous compo sition, not to mention other tracts on the subject of oratory, and those also critical as well as historical. Longinus, who was in time far later than these, seems principally to have had in view the passions and the imagination; in the treating of which he has acquired a just applause, and expressed himself with a dignity suitable to the subject. The rest of the Greek critics, though they have said many useful things, have yet so minutely multiplied the rules of art, and so much confined themselves to the oratory of the tribunal, that they appear of no great service as to good writing in general.
Among the Romans, the first critic of note was Cicero, who, though far below Aristotle in depth of philosophy, may be said, like him, to have exceeded all his countrymen. As his celebrated treatise concerning the Oratord is written in dialogue, where the speakers introduced are the greatest men of his nation, we have incidentally an elegant sample of those manners, and that politeness, which were peculiar to the leading characters during the Roman commonwealth. There we may see the behaviour of free and accomplished men, before a baser address had set that standard, which has been too often taken for good-breeding ever since.
Next to Cicero came Horace, who often in other parts of his writings acts the critic and scholar, but whose Art of Poetry is a standard of its kind, and too well known to need any encomium. After Horace arose Quinctilian, Cicero's admirer and follower; who appears by his works not only learned and ingenious, but (what is still more) an honest and a worthy man. He likewise dwells too much upon the oratory of the tribunal, a fact no way surprising, when we consider the age in which he lived; an age, when tyrannic government being the fashion of the times, that nobler species of eloquence, I mean the popular and deliberative, was, with all things truly liberal, degenerated and sunk. The latter Latin rhetoricians there is no need to mention, as they little help to illustrate the subject in hand. I would only repeat that the species of criticism here mentioned, as far at least as handled by the more able masters, is that which we have denominated criticism philosophical. We are now to proceed to another species.
d This treatise, being the work of a ca- both for language and sentiment, is perhaps pital orator on the subject of his own art, as pathetic, and in that view as sublime, as may fairly be pronounced a capital per- any thing remaining among the writings of formance. The proem to the third book, the ancients,
CONCERNING THE PROGRESS OF CRITICISM IN ITS SECOND SPECIES, THE
HISTORICAL. GREEK AND ROMAN CRITICS, BY WHOM THIS SPECIES OF CRITICISM WAS CULTIVATED.
As to the criticism already treated, we find it not confined to any one particular author, but containing general rules of art, either for judging or writing, confirmed by the example not of one author, but of many. But we know from experience, that, in process of time, languages, customs, manners, laws, governments, and religions insensibly change. The Macedonian tyranny, after the fatal battle of Chæronea, wrought much of this kind in Greece; and the Roman tyranny, after the fatal battles of Pharsalia and Philippi, carried it throughout the known world. Hence, therefore, of things obsolete, the names became obsolete also; and authors, who in their own age were intelligible and easy, in after-days grew difficult and obscure. Here, then, we behold the rise of a second race of critics, the tribe of scholiasts, commentators, and explainers.
These naturally attached themselves to particular authors. Aristarchus, Didymus, Eustathius, and many others, bestowed their labours upon Homer; Proclus and Tzetzes upon Hesiod; the same Proclus and Olympiodorus upon Plato ; Simplicius, Ammonius, and Philoponus upon Aristotle ; Ulpian upon Demosthenes ; Macrobius and Asconius upon Cicero ; Calliergus upon Theocritus ; Donatus upon Terence; Servius upon Virgil ; Acro and Porphyrio upon Horace; and so with respect to others, as well philosophers as poets and orators. To these scholiasts may be added the several composers of lexicons, such as Hesychius, Philoxenus, Suidas, &c.; also the writers upon grammar, such as Apollonius, Priscian, Sosipater, Charisius, &c. Now all these pains-taking men, considered together, may be said to have completed another species of criticism, a species which, in distinction to the former, we call criticism historical.
And thus things continued, though in a declining way, till, after many a severe and unsuccessful plunge, the Roman empire sunk through the West of Europe. Latin then soon lost its purity; Greek they hardly knew; classics and their scholiasts were no longer studied; and an age succeeded of legends and crusades.
e See Hermes, p. 239, 240.
MODERNS EMINENT IN THE TWO SPECIES OF CRITICISM BEFORE MEN
TIONED, THE PHILOSOPHICAL AND THE HISTORICAL-THE LAST SORT OF CRITICS MORE NUMEROUS THOSE MENTIONED IN THIS CHAPTER CONFINED TO THE GREEK AND LATIN LANGUAGES.
At length, after a long and barbarous period, when the shades of monkery began to retire, and the light of humanity once again to dawn, the arts also of criticism insensibly revived. It is true, indeed, the authors of the philosophical sort (I mean that which respects the causes and principles of good writing in general) were not many in number. However, of this rank among the Italians were Vida and the elder Scaliger; among the French were Rapin, Bouhours, Boileau, together with Bossu, the most methodic and accurate of them all. In our own country, our nobility may be said to have distinguished themselves: lord Roscommon, in his Essay upon translated Verse; the duke of Buckingham, in his Essay on Poetry; and lord Shaftesbury, in his treatise called Advice to an Author: to whom may be added our late admired genius, Pope, in his truly elegant poem, the Essay upon Criticism,
The discourses of sir Joshua Reynolds upon Painting have, after a philosophical manner, investigated the principles of an art, which no one in practice better verified than himself.
We have mentioned these discourses, not only from their merit, but as they incidentally teach us, that to write well upon a liberal art, we must write philosophically; that all the liberal arts in their principles are congenial; and that these principles, when traced to their common source, are found all to terminate in the first philosophy.'
But to pursue our subject. However small among moderns may be the number of these philosophical critics, the writers of historical or explanatory criticism have been in a manner innumerable. To name, out of many, only a few: of Italy were Beroaldus, Ficinus, Victorius, and Robertellus ; of the Higher and Lower Germany were Erasmus, Sylburgius, Le Clerc, and Fabricius; of France were Lambin, Du Vall, Harduin, Capperonerius; of England were Stanley, (editor of Æschylus,) Gataker, Davis, Clarke, (editor of Homer ;) together with multitudes more from every region and quarter,
Thick as autumnal leaves, that strow the brooks
" See Hermes, p. 154, and Philosophical philosophy, in the index to those ArrangeArrangements, p. 356; also the words first ments.
But I fear I have given a strange catalogue, where we seek in vain for such illustrious personages as Sesostris, Cyrus, Alexander, Cæsar, Attila, Tottila, Tamerlane, &c. The heroes of my work (if I may be pardoned for calling them so) have only aimed in retirement to present us with knowledge. Knowledge only was their object, not havoc, nor devastation.
After commentators and editors, we must not forget the compilers of lexicons and dictionaries, such as Charles and Henry Stevens, Favorinus, Constantine, Budæus, Cooper, Faber, Vossius, and others. To these also we may add the authors upon grammar: in which subject the learned Greeks, when they quitted the East, led the way, Moschopulus, Chrysoloras, Lascaris, Theodore Gaza; then in Italy, Laurentius Valla; in England, Grocin and Linacer; in Spain, Sanctius;s in the Low Countries, Vossius ; in France, Cæsar Scaliger, by his residence, though by birth an Italian, together with those able writers Mess. de Port Royal. Nor ought we to omit the writers of philological epistles, such as Emanuel Martin ; nor the writers of literary catalogues, (in French called catalogues raisonnées,) such as the account of the manuscripts in the imperial library at Vienna, by Lambecius ; or of the Arabic manuscripts in the Escurial library, by Michael Casiri.
8 Sanctius, towards the end of the six- Latin with facility and elegance. His teenth century, was professor of rhetoric, works, containing twelve books of epistles, and of the Greek tongue, in the university and a few other pieces, were printed in of Salamanca. He wrote many works, but Spain about the year 1735, at the private his most celebrated is that which bears the expense of that respectable statesman and name of Sanctii Minerva, seu de Causis Lin scholar, sir Benjamin Keene, the British guæ Latinæ.
This invaluable book (to ambassador, to whom they were inscribed which the author of these treatises readily in a classical dedication by the learned owns himself indebted for his first rational dean himself, then living at Alicant. As ideas of grammar and language) was pub- copies of this edition soon became scarce, lished by Sanctius at Salamanca in the year the book was reprinted by Wesselingius, in 1587. Its superior merit soon made it a fair quarto, (the two tomes being usually known through Europe, and caused it to bound together,) at Amsterdam, in the year pass through many editions in different 1738. places. The most common edition is a large i Michael Casiri, the learned librarian of octavo, printed at Amsterdam in the year the Escurial, has been enabled, by the muni1733, and illustrated with notes by the ficence of the last and present kings of learned Perizonius.
Spain, to publish an accurate and erudite h Emanuel Martin was dean of Alicant catalogue of the Arabic manuscripts in that in the beginning of the present century. curious library, a work well becoming its He appears from his writings, as well as royal patrons, as it gives an ample exhifrom his history, to have been a person of bition of Arabic literature in all its various pleasing and amiable manners ; to have branches of poetry, philosophy, divinity, been an able antiquarian, and, as such, a history, &c. But of these manuscripts we friend to the celebrated Montfaucon ; to shall say more in the Appendix, subjoined have cultivated with eagerness the various to the end of these Inquiries, studies of humanity, and to have written