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others can recount his exploits or celebrate his praises, so literature must be created before it can be criticised. There must be brought into being a considerable number of productions, in the forms of poetry, fiction, the drama, history, biography, and eloquence, before the materials are prepared with which the critic can begin. When we assert that the species of criticism which we have in mind is comparatively of recent origin, we do not say that criticism of every kind is recent in its growth, nor indeed that before the present century there were no profound and genial critics, who took historic and philosophical estimates of the great writers who had gone before them, but only that criticism as it now exists has come into organized being, with distinctly recognised functions and fixed principles and laws for its direction. Dryden and Johnson were both penetrating, and to a certain degree large-minded critics, but neither Dryden nor Johnson rose above very narrow traditions, or personal prejudices. We speak of the old and the new generally when we say, that formerly, criticism confined itself almost exclusively to the form of literature, as the choice of words, the rhythm of verse, the proportion of parts, the order of development, the effectiveness of the intro duction, the argument, and the peroration, and these, with the illustration and explanation of the meaning of a work or a writer, constituted its entire aiin. Now, while it does not neglect the form, it thinks more of the matter, i. e. the weighti ness and truth of the thoughts, the energy and nobleness of the sentiments, the splendor and power of the imagery, and the heroic manhood or the refined womanhood of the writer as expressed in his or her works. Formerly it judged of the form by the fashion of the day in respect of style and diction, and pronounced everything barbarous which was not after the newest type, very much as the dress or hat which are most becoming in themselves are declared to be dowdy and frightful, if worn a year or a season too early or too late. Now the form is regarded as that which in some respects must be tran. sient and changeable, according to the shaping power of the matter itself, the temper of the writer, and the temper of the times in which he lived and for which he wrote. Formerly the critic was regarded by others and too often regarded him
self as the natural enemy of the author. Now it is exacted of him that he should be the expounder of the author's thonghts and the sharer of his feelings; that he should almost see with his eyes, hear with his ears, and judge with his mind. But this estimate of the characteristic features of the new criticism is general and superficial. A closer and more careful examination, gives the following results:
First: the new criticism starts with a more enlarged and profound conception of literature itself. The word literature, etymologically considered, is necessarily somewhat loose and general in its import, signifying whatever is committed to a permanent form by writing. When this import is somewl at narrowed, it signifies whatever survives a merely ephemeral existence, and attracts the notice of a second generation. In this sense, any book or tract would come under this designation, which is worth retaining in a library, or which happens to be so preserved. With the older critics, literature included only those works which were eminent and attractive from perfection in style, beauty, and fitness of imagery, or elevation of sentimnent; those being prëeminent which combined all these excellencies in one. By a practice that was almost universal, the word was restricted to those works whose prime object was to address the imagination or to please the taste. Under this lisage literature was confined to poetry, fiction, and the drama, alsoto various lighter effusions, which had the common characteristic of being designed to amuse rather than instruct, to gratify some ästhetic interest rather than to convince or to arouse to action. If a work had any higher end than these, it was by general consent excluded from literature and deemed unworthy of the notice of the critic, as it was exempt from his censure. The poetry of Milton was literature, but his Areopagitica with its magnificent prose,and his Defensio Populi Anglicani, were not, because they were political tracts. The poems of Donne and Cowley were literature, but the sermons of Jeremy Taylor, though luxuriant with the wealth of an oriental imagination, were not literature, because they were composed with an earnest Christian purpose. A work profound in thought, if it was designed to convince of truth; impassioned in eloquence, if it was written to persuade; bright with humor, if it was intended for practical effect; was excluded from the roll of the literature of the period, as too severe and earnest, however finished it might be in style, rich in imagery, or elevated in sentiment. A conception of literature so narrow must, of necessity, be belittling and trivial to author and critic. It could not but make the writer trifting and heartless, and his censor fastidious and flippant.
Now-a-days literature is restricted within no such narrow limits, and, as the result, both literature and criticism have been elevated. While it is required that every work which aspires to be called a work of literature should have a certain perfection of finish and of form, none are excluded by reason of their solidity of matter, or earnestness of aim. A history or a sermon, an oration or a political tract, even a scientific essay, if excellent in method and style, in eloquence and imagery, takes the place as a contribution to the literature of a period or of a nation, to which its merits entitle it. As a consequence, the conception of literature itself is greatly elevated and ennobled. Instead of being regarded as one of the accessories of culture and luxury, it is viewed as the best and noblest expression of the best powers of the ablest men of an age. Instead of being judged by the mere accidents of form, and according to the capriciousness of a changing taste, it is both studied and tested according to its perfect ideal. It follows,
Second : that while the older was narrow and conventional in its standards, the new criticism is catholic and liberal in its spirit. The tendency of the earlier criticism was to set up a single author who was snpposed to be nearest the ideal perfection, as the standard by which to try every other. Every other author, and the literature of every other period, were measured by him and the literature of which he set the fashion. Thus, in the days of Queen Aune, Dryden, Addison, and Swift were the ne plus ultra of actual and almost possible perfection. A generation later, Johnson and his imitators imposed, if they did not constitute, the rule of measurement. The earlier and nobler writers of the days of Elizabeth and James were either depreciated for their latinised and lumbering sentences, or counted half barbarians for that individual freedom which constituted their real strength and glory.
In a generation still later, literature was still more or less conventional, because criticism kept it in bonds to the factitious standards which were derived from Addison, Pope, and Johnson; inconsistent with one another, as were the examples and the teachings of the masters from which she received her laws. In vain did Thomson give range to the impulses of his creative imagination, and Cowper plead the exemption from rule of one who claimed to be a rhymester and did not aspire to be called a poet. In vain did Burke give vent to the elognence and imagery which his fiery imagination could not restrain, and Scott follow the bent of a romantic spirit which was imbreathed from his infancy. Criticism was still inexorable, till the more catholic spirit of Coleridge, Wordsworth, and others whom they incited and inspired, awakened the English mind to the personal and admiring study of the older writers, and encouraged the young litérateurs to dare to use all the resources of their own language with the freedoin of the elder days, and to give utterance to their thoughts in a more copious and nutrammeled diction. The cumbrous phraseology of the old writers, their involved sentences, their learned pedantry, their disregard of neatness, directness, simplicity, and taste, had previously made them outcasts from polite society, or if they were admitted it was to be wondered at rather than to be admired on account of “the barbaric pearl and gold” with which they were so richly clad, albeit the ornaments were inconth and the garments were misshapen. But now these defects are little thought of in comparison with the greater copiousness and variety of their diction, the individuality impressed upon their style, and the shaping of the diction to the thought and feeling of the writer. To the victory, thus achieved by this more catholic criticism, do we owe it, that, in the last two generations, the range of thought in our leading writers has been so greatly enlarged, the depth of their researches has been proportionately increased, their philosophy has been more profound, their strength and intensity of emotion have been augmented, their imaginative power has been more unrestrained and more cre ative, and their diction has been more varied and powerful.
The modern criticism has not only been more catholic in its tastes and judgments of native literature, but also in its capacity to judge fairly and to appreciate adequately the literature of other countries and of remote ages. In this respect the earlier criticisin was eminently bigoted and narrow. Looking upon its own narrow domain as the celestial empire and the flowery land, it regarded all foreign writers as in a certain sense outside barbarians, who might indeed be worthy of consideration for certain excellencies of style or imagery, or for the purposes of grammar and philology, but were thought to have no special claim to attention as varied expressions of that common human life which makes the whole world kin. The new criticism, in rising above such narrow prejudices, has not only done justice to its neighbor, but it has gained more than an equivalent for itself-reaping the double benison of charity, which always blesses him that gives as well as him that takes. In this, it has sympathized with the general movement of our times. While many of the sciences, both physical and humanistic, have become liberal by becoming comparative, as anatomy, physiology, and theology; criticism has also learned to compare the literatures of different ages and different nations, and to estimate them by certain fundamental principles. Critics now bring to the same bar of judgment Goethe, Shakespeare and Molière, and try them all in respect of their common adaptation to express and please the same human nature. Criticism concludes its examination and allots its sentences without respect of persons. What is different in each writer, in language or nationality, serves to set in bolder relief what is common; and the various methods by which writers of different countries accomplish the same effect, impress the reader with the varied resources of human genius. National peculiarities, whether of matter or form, are relished with a special zest, and the reader's attention is quickened as he turns from one to the other with a freshened interest.
This leads us to observe,
Third : The new criticism is more philosophical than the old in its methods, and is therefore more just in its conclusions. Indeed it calls itself, by eminence, philosophical criticism. This claim is not extravagant, if the criticism be at once really elevated and catholic, inasmuch as these terms are almost in. terchangable with profound and comprehensive. In aspiring