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The place of the personal estimate in the critical theories of certain nineteenth-century critics Bilsland, John Winstanley 1951

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THE PLACE OF THE PERSONAL ESTIMATE IN THE CRITICAL THEORIES OF CERTAIN NINETEENTH-CENTURY CRITICS by John ?ifinStanley Bilsland A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in th© Department of ENGLISH We accept this thesis as conforming to the standard required from candidates for the degree of MASTER OF ARTS. Members of the Department of : ; THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA OCTOBER, 1951 The Place of the Personal Estimate in the Critical Theories of Certain Nineteenth-Century Critics The thesis covers the critical theories of eight English critics of the nineteenth century: Wordsworth, Coleridge, Lamb, Hazlitt, De Quineey, Arnold, Pater, and Wilde. I have f i r s t defined the personal estimate as "that estimate of art in which the nature of the critic as an individual man has influenced his judgment.w I recognize that a l l criticism mast have something of the personal estimate in i t , hut the true critic w i l l , as much as possible, cleanse his criticism of i t in order to reveal the nature of the work of art as in itself i t really i s . I have then analyzed the theories of Wordsworth and Coleridge in order to indicate that the basis on which they established Romantic criticism is one of personal emotion - fi r s t in the poet, and then in the reader -and personal pleasure. In the theories of Lamb, Hazlitt, and De Quineey I have traced the development of impres-sionism in Romantic criticism, and the degree to which that impressionism leads these three men to a personal estimate of literature. In Arnold's theories I have analyzed his concept of poetry as a criticism of l i f e , and indicated the way in which that concept leads Arnold to a recognition that although the critic must fi r s t feel the emotional effects of poetry, his ultimate aim must be to see the object as in itself i t really i s . I have then turned to the theories of Pater and suggested that although i i he bases his theories on impressions he recognizes that the experiencing of impressions alone is not the critic's sole aim: the critic must contemplate his impressions in order to arrive at a perception of the essence of a work, and, in the case of a great work of art, a perception of the ideals of l i f e which i t embodies. And I have last considered the theories of Wilde who also builds on im-pressions, but believes the end of criticism to be - like poetry itself - the communication of one man's emotional response, in this case the critic's response to a work of art: whether or not that response represents a balanced appreciation of the work itself does not matter. From the survey of the theories of these eight men I have arrived at the conclusion that a l l follow the right path when they recognize the importance of the personal response in criticism. Some, however, lose sight of their duty as critics when they allow their own experience of l i f e to colour their response and offer a purely per-sonal estimate of a work as criticism. The greatest of the eight - Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Arnold - recognize that in criticism we must see the poet's poem and not our own. Only by doing so can we arrive at a real esti-mate. Tattle of Contents The Personal Estimate The Essentially Personal Basis of Romantic Criticisms Wordsworth and Coleridge The Development of Impressionism in the Critical Theories of Lamb, Hazlitt and De Quineey The Attempt of Matthew Arnold to Restore Objective Standards to Criticism The Analytical Impressionism of Walter Pater The Full Flowering of the Personal Esti-mate? Oscar Wilde Conclusion Bibliography I The Personal Estimate Of all the tasks which man undertakes in life there is pro-bably none more rewarding though more difficult than that of per-ceiving clearly and appreciating fully the true nature of poetry. Poetry at its greatest offers " . , , the echo of a great soul,"1 and he who would hear that echo in all its richness, all its depth, all its power, must exert himself as for no experience other than that of communion with God. In his Fifth Ennead Plotinus des-cribes the state of being which man must achieve before he can know the mystical awareness of God, the Supreme, the One, the Firsts • . . let the soul that is not unworthy of the vision con-template the Great Soul; freed from deceit and every witchery and collected into calm. Calmed be the body for it in that hour and the tumult of the flesh, ay» all that is about it calm; calm be the earth, the sea, the air, and let heaven itself be s t i l l . Then let it feel how into that silent heaven the Great Soul floweth in.^ Although Plotinus speaks here of the union with God, the state of be-ing which he describes is also that which man must achieve before he can know full union with the poet. Poetry has much in common with religious faiths it " . . . is to be thought of as a life-giving power, as a radiance of light illuminating all existence, as an energy stimulating all action, as a spirit of beauty giving greatness 1 Longinus, On the Sublime, IX, 2, transl. 1. Rhys Roberts, Cambridge University Press, 1899, p. 61. 2 The Essence of Plotinuss Extracts from the Six Enneads and Porphyry's Life of Plotinus, transl. Stephen HacKenna, ed., Grace H. Turnbull, Oxford University Press, 1934, p. 155, to all repose.,,x To know the power, radiance, energy, and "beauty of poetry man must prepare himself as he does to know God. He must achieve the same calmness of the flesh and the spirit, and he must free himself from every deceit and every witchery, then he achieves this state of tranquillity and cleanliness of being, this calm receptivity of spirit, then, and then only, can he hope to know the ecstasy of that union in which the soul of the poet be-comes one with his. To experience the full effect of poetry man must rise above anything within him that may shadow the illumination with which the poem can brighten his being, and stand, not as a man in the dark forest of the actual world, but as Man on the high, clear plane of reality. However, it is a regrettable but undeniable fact that the achieving of this plane is an unattainable ideal. All men are limited beings, and their limitations - of the flesh, the heart, the mind, the spirit -must keep them from rising completely out of themselves, and so from perceiving the true nature of poetry; all that men can achieve is, at best, an imperfect perception. Nevertheless, if we are willing to make the great effort necessary to achieve the fullest possible per-ception we can come close to that true nature, that essence, even though we can never know it fully. The task of the critic of literature i s , above all else, to per-ceive and reveal that essence of poetry as clearly as he can. All men who seek the illumination of poetry must try to perceive i t , but the 1 Bailey, John Gann, Poets and Poetry> Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1911, p. 16. - 3 ' critic must make doubly certain that he has come to it as close as possible. He must keep ever in mind that he holds the place of a guide in the world of literature: other men -will listen to him, and some will heed what he says. To the extent that he allows his own limitations as a man to colour his interpretation and estimate of a poem he fails those men who have placed their trust in him. The personal estimate in criticism is nothing more than that estimate of art in which the nature of the critic as an individual man has influenced his judgment. All criticism has something of the personal estimate in i t . The response to art must "be personal: each of us must establish his own relationship with the poet, the painter, the sculptor, the composer. Ihen I hear Mozart's Jupiter I listen as an individual being, not as mankind. All art comes from the heart of a man and goes to the heart of a man. Each of us must make his own response to the artist's communication. However, we must keep in mind that the artist has something to tell us, and if we hope to know what that something is we must be prepared to submit fully to his sug-gestions. He will have made these as clear as he possibly can, but since art deals in the intangible emotions of humanity these suggestions cannot have the hard clarity of scientific fact. They do, however, have sufficient clarity that a man of sensibility and intelligence can follow their lead and eventually know the artist's intention. Edna St. Vincent Millay has left us a little epitaph: Heap not on this mound Roses that she loved so wellj Miy bewilder her with roses, That she cannot smell? She is happy where she lies With the dust upon her eyes. -4-On the surface these words reveal no more than that the poet does not wish roses strewn on the grave of her friend; roses would be-wilder that friend because she cannot smell them; she is happier with the dust of the grave in her eyes. On the surface the words say that much. Beneath the surface, however, the suggest much more, and to kno\¥ fully what Edna St. Vincent Millay wants us to know we must accept their suggestions and contemplate them until we experience the emotions which t,he poet wishes us to experience. With contemplation we come to see that the dead friend was one who loved lifes in life roses were a joy to her; she drank deeply of their beauty, their fragrance. Now that she is dead and can no longer know the riches of a rose we are but merciful if we refrain from disturbing her rest with the shadows of a beauty she can no longer know. Let the kindly dust of the grave blind her; she is happier blind. An awareness of these suggestions in the poem, tnese implications, is absolutely necessary if we are to appreciate the poem fully. Each of us must make his own effort to follow these sug-gestions and so to know the emotional response which the poet intends him to know. We must constantly be alert, however, to the danger of allowing our individual natures to disturb the effect of the poet's suggestions on our beings. The poet speaks to each of us as an in-dividual man, but he conveys something which he wants all men to know, and all men can come close to knowing it if they will rise above their personal limitations and stand as Everyman. They must achieve a state akin to the Plotinian calmness; they must forget their partisan interests; they must recognize that much in their natures does not - 5 -have i t s counterpart i n the p o e t ' s n a t u r e , and must, t h e r e f o r e , be sub-merged f o r the moment. I f they can do these t h i n g s , t h e n , and then o n l y , they can f o l l o w the p o e t ' s suggestions and grasp what the poet has t o o f f e r . I f they cannot do these t h i n g s t h e i r judgment of poetry w i l l remain a personal estimate. The c r i t i c must r i s e above i n t e r e s t s of p a r t y , c l a s s , c o l o u r , and c r e e d . I f he i s a man of t o l e r a n c e and wisdom he can do so. He does not have t o b e l i e v e as M i l t o n b e l i e v e s t o appreciate Paradise L o s t , but he does have t o accept M i l t o n ' s b e l i e f s while r e a d i n g the poem. I f he r e j e c t s i t because h i s b e l i e f s are not M i l t o n ' s he indulges i n a p e r s o n a l estimate. He i s f r e e t o r e j e c t i t i f he f i n d s that i t f a i l s as a poem - i f i t f a i l s t o move him t o an acceptance of what M i l t o n has t o offer - but he i s not f r e e to r e j e c t i t because i t does not agree with h i s own biases or p r e j u d i c e s . He must not base h i s c r i t i c i s m of the poem on t h e s e . He must r i s e , t o o , above h i s own nature as an i n d i v i d u a l man. C r i t i c i s m which conveys no more than the response of an i n d i v i d u a l man without regard f o r the v a l i d i t y of that response represents an estimate f u l l y as personal as that coloured by i n t e r e s t s of p a r t y , c l a s s , c o l o u r , and c r e e d . When the c r i t i c " . . . I s o l a t e s the work with h i m s e l f , considers i t i n i t s form and pressure as p r i n t e d on h i m , " 1 and attempts no judgment of the v a l i d i t y of i t s effect on him he Is again i n d u l g i n g i n a personal estimate. Merely because as Pater looks at the Mona L i s a h i s fancy brings t o him suggestions of the vampire, d i v e r s i n deep seas, L e d a , and Saint Anne, he i s not at 1 Saintsbury, George, A H i s t o r y of C r i t i c i s m and L i t e r a r y Taste i n Europe, New York, Dodd, Mead, & C o . , 1906, v o l . 3, p . 195. - 6 -liberty, as a critic, to offer these as values in da Vinci's painting. They are values only if he is sure that these suggestions lie within the painting itself, and not within his own fancy. The critic must constantly keep in mind that his own response to art is but a means to an end, that of seeing the artist's work as in itself it really is. He must not allow his over-active fancy to read into the vrork matter which does not already lie there. When he does let it do so he merely reveals that he has not achieved the calm receptivity neces-sary to a perception of the artist's intention. There is no limit to the depths of great art, and the critic is free, even obliged, to peer into those depths. He is not free, however, to offer as the artist's riches the riches of his own fancy. When he does so he offers not a real, but a personal estimate, and such an estimate can be most dangerous in criticism if it blinds the eyes of others to what the poet has sought to express. The great problem facing the critic is simply this: poetry ap-peals'to the human heart, and makes its effect through an intense excitement of the human emotions, but the critic must endeavour to a.chieve the balance necessary to determine whether or not his emotional response is in keeping with the poet's suggestions. And balance where the emotions are concerned is very difficult. The question of a just personal response to art is not one which suddenly appears in the nineteenth century in English criticism. It received much attention in the eighteenth century, and even in the seventeenth in the writings of Bacon and Hobbes (although here as part of investigations into the general nature of knowledge). In The Great 7-Instauration, for example, Bacon writes: * . . the mind when it receives impressions of objects through the sense, cannot be trusted to report them truly, but in form-ing its notions mixes up its own nature with the nature of things, 1 He recognizes that each man* s nature responds in a unique way to the new matter acquired through the senses. Our experience of sounds, sights, tastes, and smells is inevitably relative to our state of be-ing; even so is our experience of the sounds and images of poetry. In the Leviathan Hobbes stresses that we have no control over the as-sociations which follow upon our perception of anything: All fancies are motions within us, relics of those made in the sense; and those motions that immediately suc-ceeded one another in the sense, continue also together after sense; insomuch as the former coming again to take place, and be predominant, the latter followeth, by coherence of the matter moved, in such manner as water upon a plane table is drawn which way any one part of it is guided by the finger. But because in sense, to one and the same thing perceived, sometimes one thing, sometimes another succeedeth, it comes to pass in time that in the imagining of anything there is no certainty what we shall imagine next; only this is certain, it shall be something that succeeded the same before, at one time or another.2 Our associations are personal, depending upon our past experience, and they will rise freely about our perceptions. The poet offers all of us the same image, but the response of each of us to that image will be unique because each of us will associate with it different ideas and emotions. . Ihen we turn to literary criticism before 1800 we find three im-portant developments leading to the nineteenth-century emphasis on the 1 Burtt, Edwin A., ed., The English Philosophers from Bacon to Mill, New York, Random House, 1939, p. 18. 2 Ibid., p. 137. -8-personal response. The first of these is the re-discovery of Longinus. Before the nineteenth century English criticism was, for the most part, a matter of testing literature by certain widely accepted laws. Drawing from Aristotle, Horace, and the Italian com-mentators on Aristotle, critics had determined a number of rules of poetry - the dramatic unities, type characterizations, the metres appropriate to the various forms of verse, the "imitation of the ancients" - and their great concern was not so much, did the work please?, as, had it the right to please? Did it accord with the rules? In 1674, however, Boileau published in France a translation of a work on the nature of the sublime in literature, and from this date we can trace the development of a new attitude towards the function of criticism. The work was Longinus* On the Sublime. Although pos-sibly written as early as the first century A. D., it offered what was a new concept of the critical activity for neo-classical France and England. Longinus stresses that the effect of great literature is not persuasion, but transport. By rousing our emotions to a keen intensity poetry elevates us, carries us Irresistibly to " • . . the region of vastness and mystery."^ It achieves its effect through an overwhelming stimulation of the entire human being. At every time and in every way imposing speech, with the spell it throws over us, prevails over that which aims at persuasion and gratification. Our persuasions we can usu-ally control, but the Influences of the sublime bring power and irresistible might to bear, and reign supreme over every hearer.^ 1 Sherman, Stuart Pratt, Matthew Arnold, How to Know Him, Indiana-polls, Bobbs-Herrill, 1917, p. 151. 2 Roberts, ed., Longinus on the Sublime, Introduction, p. 32. 3 Longinus, op. cit., I, 4, p. 43. 9-Now the t r a n s p o r t which the sublime i n l i t e r a t u r e can bring i s an emotional experience, and must, t h e r e f o r e , be p e r s o n a l . Each of us must experience i t i n h i s own way. When we accept the sublime as an effect of p o e t r y , t h e r e f o r e , we expose ourselves to the danger of personal estimates of l i t e r a t u r e . We can never be a b s o l u t e l y c e r t a i n that the intense emotion which we f e e l i n the presence of poetry I s the r e s u l t of the p o e t ' s own work, and not merely the r e s u l t of some unique q u a l i t y w i t h i n ourselves responding to that work. Moreover, when the c r i t i c attempts t o express h i s sense of the sublime he cannot avoid speaking i n a markedly e n t h u s i a s t i c t o n e , speaking almost as a poet as he conveys h i s own response t o s u b l i m i t y , and there i s a great danger than i n h i s expression of d e l i g h t i n that s u b l i m i t y he may l o s e sight of h i s o b l i g a t i o n as a c r i t i c to ensure that what he f e e l s about a poem i s a v a l i d response, a v a i l a b l e i n kind t o a l l men of equal s e n s i b i l i t y and knowledge. I n the years between Boileau* s t r a n s l a t i o n and the coming of Wordsworth and C o l e r i d g e , Longinus' d o c t r i n e of the sublime played l i t t l e part In E n g l i s h c r i t i c i s m . Pope does r e f e r t o i t i n the E s -say on C r i t i c i s m , 1 and r e v e a l s an awareness of the value of L o n g i -nus' t e a c h i n g s , but the concept of the sublime, and the e n t h u s i a s t i c a p p r e c i a t i o n of poetry t o which i t l e d , were not t o become a dominant force i n c r i t i c i s m u n t i l the r i s e of the nineteenth-century Romantics. 1 I I I , 11. 116-121. Thee, bold Longinus i a l l the Nine i n s p i r e , And bless t h e i r C r i t i c with "a P o e t ' s f i r e . An ardent Judge, who zealous In h i s t r u s t , With warmth gives sentence, yet i s always j u s t ; Whose own example strengthens a l l h i s laws; And i s himself that great Sublime he draws. -10-Then, however, they were to play a very considerable part. The second development anticipating the nineteenth-century emphasis on the personal response \ms the rise of the eighteenth-century "School of Taste," a group which included men like David Hume, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Hugh Blair, and Archibald Allison. In general, the members of this school believed that taste in art is the capacity of man " . • . to relish and feel the beauties of the great masters • . . . " It is a capacity grounded in his likes and dislikes. Through an intensive study of the great masters he can achieve "correctness" of taste, cultivating his own sensibility to the point where he naturally likes what he should like. He has then reached that state of development in which he intuitively per-ceives the beautiful in art. His appreciation of art remains per-sonal, but since it is founded on "correct" taste it is also just, and it is the appreciation which all men of correct taste will know. Correct taste is not, therefore, a capricious thing, vary-ing with the Individual, but rather, Its foundation is the same in all human minds. It is built upon sentiments and perceptions which belong to our nature, and which, in general, operate with the same uniformity as over other intellectual principles. Ihen these sentiments are perverted by ignorance and prejudice, they are capable of being rectified by reason. Their sound and natural state is ultimately determined by comparing them with the general taste of mankind. Let men declaim as much as they please concerning the caprice and the un-certainty of taste, it is found, by experience, that there are beauties, which, if they be displayed in a proper light, have power to command lasting and general admiration. In every composition, what interests the imagination, and touches the heart, pleases all ages and nations. There is a certain string to which, when properly struck, the human heart is so 1 Reynolds, Sir Joshua, Fifteen Discourses Delivered in the Royal Academy, Discourse 71 (1774), in Odell Shepard and Paul Spencer Wood, ed., English Prose and Poetry: 1660-1800, Boston, etc., Houghton Mif-fl i n , 1934, p. 684, -11-made as t o answer. x For t h i s s c h o o l , t a s t e i s both a personal and a u n i v e r s a l f a c u l t y . Each man has i t , and he has i t i n common with a l l other men. C o r -r e c t t a s t e , t a s t e developed through a study of great a r t , can en-able us t o a r r i v e at sound judgments, common and acceptable t o a l l men of s i m i l a r l y c o r r e c t t a s t e . However, despite i t s u n i f o r m i t y i n men of c u l t u r e , t a s t e remains a personal matter, and despite i t s " c o r r e c t n e s s , " the response of the man of t a s t e i s a personal response. The t h i r d development i n l i t e r a r y c r i t i c i s m which must be men-t i o n e d i s the r i s e of the Pre-Romantics. I n the work of men l i k e Young, the Wartone, and Hurd, we f i n d the seeds of nineteenth-century Romanticism. We f i n d these c r i t i c s l a y i n g great s t r e s s on the power of poetry t o move the hearts of men, r a t h e r than on the mere adherence t o the r u l e s of composition. In h i s Ode t o Fancy (1746) Joseph Wart on expresses t h e i r general f e e l i n g when he w r i t e s : 0 queen of numbers, once again Animate some chosen swain, Who, f i l l ' d with unexhausted f i r e , May b o l d l y smite the sounding l y r e , Who with some new, unequail*d song, May r i s e above the rhyming t h r o n g , O'er a l l our l i s t e n i n g passions r e i g n , O'erwhelm our souls w i t h j o y and p a i n ; With t e r r o r shake, with p i t y move, Rouse with revenge, or melt with l o v e . Oh, deign t ' attend h i s evening walk, With him i n groves and grottoes t a l k ; Teach him t o scorn with f r i g i d art Feebly t o touch the u n r a p t u r ' d h e a r t ; L i k e l i g h t n i n g , l e t h i s mighty verse The bosom's inmost f o l d i n g s p i e r c e ; 1 B l a i r , Hugh, L e c t u r e s on Rhetoric and B e l l e s L e t t r e s (1783), Lecture I , quoted i n Arthur Beatty, W i l l i a m Wordsworth, H i s Doctrine and A r t , Madison, U n i v e r s i t y of W i s c o n s i n , 1927, pp. 39-40. -12-With native beauties win applause, Beyond cold critics' studied laws.-*-We have here a clear recognition of poetry as a primarily emotive activity, and of the fact that to appreciate the power of poetry we must respond to its emotional stimulation. We have, in other words, a direct anticipation of Wordsworth and Coleridge: they, too, recog-nize that the emotional power of poetry is of far greater importance than "cold critics' studied laws," and that the true poet does "o'er all our listening passions r e i g n , a n d their recognition of this leads them to establish their critical theories upon an es-sentially personal basis. Because the poet speaks to the heart our response must come from the heart, and it must, therefore, be personal. In such a work as Joseph Warton*s Essay on Pope we find the re-sult of this personal attitude towards poetry. Here we find a critic who recognizes Pope's greatness, but who cannot personally accept him as a poet of the very highest rank. Warton finds that his own response to Pope is not sufficiently intense to allow him to place Pope on the top rung, and he allows that response to guide him, even though in doing so he runs against the tide of his age. Now we should note one thing about both the School of Taste and the Pre-Romantics. In the works of the men of these two groups we find clear anticipations of the Romantics' personal criticism. However, it is highly improbable that any of these men - Blair, Reynolds, the War-tons, Young, and the rest - fully appreciated what they were doing when 1 11. 129-146, •13-they began laying stress on the personal response to art. They cer-tainly had no suspicion that their work was to lead eventually to Wilde's purely personal estimate. All that we can say of them is that they felt that the criticism of art must be based on more than rigid rules, and that the critic must have a strong awareness of the emotional effect of a work of art before he can undertake a judgment of i t . None of them, however, consciously advocates a purely personal estimate. With the nineteenth century and the appearance of Wordsworth and Coleridge we come to the great age of the personal response in English literary criticism. In the critical theories of every one of the eight men whom I shall consider In this survey the personal response - personal emotions and personal pleasure - occupies a prominent place. Some of these men - like Arnold - see Its potential dangers; others - like Wilde - accept it whole-heartedly. In the chapters which follow I shall try to indicate what place each of the eight allows i t , and to what degree they permit it to pass into the cloudy regions of the personal estimate. In trying to determine that degree I take as an initial truth that criticism is more than " . . . a description of the critic's private sensibility."1 No mat-ter what else we may ask of a critic, we must surely demand first that he try to see as the poet has seen. A perfect Judge will read each word of Wit With the same spirit that its author writ . . . . 2 1 Read, Herbert E., Wordsworth, London, Jonathan Cape, 1930, p. 15. Italics mine. 2 Pope, An Essay on Criticism, II, 11. 33-34. II The Essentially Personal Basis of Romantic Criticism: Words-worth and Coleridge For any clear understanding of the place of the personal esti-mate in nineteenth-century criticism we must turn first to the poetics of Wordsworth and Coleridge, Here we find the base on which the im-pressionistic critics of the century were to erect the structure of their intensely personal concept of criticism. Despite the fact that neither Wordsworth nor Coleridge advocated anything like " . . . the clouds of unchecked sensibility and unexamined interpretations • • . n ± which were later to pass for criticism, but, rather, re-cognized that the aim of any valid critical theory must be " . . . to enable the spectator to judge in the same spirit in which the Artist produced . . . , "2 they did offer a concept of poetry and a critical approach which underlay the highly personal criticism of later impressionists. The whole of Wordsworth*s and Coleridge's poetics rests firmly on what was for them an essential and obvious truth: poetry springs not from the functioning of a man's deliberative, rational powers, but from his emotional experience, and it directs itself primarily not to the stimulation of another man's deliberative powers, but to 1 Richards, I, A., Coleridge on Imagination; London, K. Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1934, p. 230. 2 Coleridge, S. T., On the Principles of Genial Criticism, (1814), ed., J. Shawcross, included in Shawcross, ed., Biographia Literaria. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1907, vol. 2, p. 222. Coleridge makes no men-tion of i t , but a couplet in Pope's Essay on Criticism (II, 11. 33-34, which I have already quoted on p. 13) makes precisely the same point. -15-the r o u s i n g of a p l e a s u r a b l e state of excitement i n that other man's emotional b e i n g , , , * poetry must awaken some dominant emotion that . . . [willj f l o o d s e n s a t i o n , metaphysical a f f i r m a t i o n , and s p i -r i t u a l a s p i r a t i o n w i t h r a d i a n c e . At the moment when the chosen f e e l i n g thus i l l u m i n a t e s one's e n t i r e b e i n g , then poetry performs i t s e s s e n t i a l f u n c t i o n . 1 For them, emotional excitement i s the essence of p o e t r y . The world of Chaucer, Shakespeare, and M i l t o n i s not a world of the c o o l , l o g i c a l i n t e l l e c t , but a world of s t r o n g , i n t e n s e l y experienced emotions! we do not t u r n t o Othel lo f o r i n t e l l e c t u a l enrichment -although we may f i n d such enrichment t h e r e - but f o r a pleasurable s t i m u l a t i o n of our emotional beings. The moment that we accept such a concept of poetry as an emo-t i o n a l a c t i v i t y we must accept a l s o that c r i t i c i s m of that a c t i v i t y w i l l n e c e s s a r i l y be t o a degree p e r s o n a l . We can c r i t i c i z e and eva-l u a t e works of the hands and the I n t e l l e c t by means of objective standards and t e s t s . We can a l l agree on the flaw i n the f i n i s h of a mahogany c a b i n e t , or the f a l l a c y i n the l o g i c of a p h i l o s o p h e r ' s argument. We can agree because personal emotional responses p l a y l i t t l e or no part i n our c o n s i d e r a t i o n of such workss we have the evidence of our senses or our i n t e l l e c t s . When, however, we come to c r i t i c i z e and evaluate works which not only s p r i n g out of t h e i r c r e a t o r ' s emotional response t o l i f e , but also aim d i r e c t l y at st imu-l a t i n g our emotions to a state of pleasurable excitement, we cannot depend wholly upon any such objective standards. Each of us must 1 Campbell, Oscar James, "Wordsworth's Conception of the E s t h e -t i c E x p e r i e n c e , " i n E a r l L e s l i e Griggs, e d , , Wordsworth and C o l e r i d g e , P r i n c e t o n U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s , 1939, p . 46. t r e a d h i s own path i n C r i t i c i z i n g and e v a l u a t i n g poetry because i n each of us poetry w i l l rouse d i f f e r e n t emotional responses. Wordsworth and Coleridge recognized that poetry was a personal t h i n g , and, they recognized that the c r i t i c i s m of poetry must a l low f o r the c r i t i c ' s personal response; but they recognized also that v a l i d c r i t i c i s m must stand f i r m l y on c e r t a i n a r t i s t i c p r i n c i p l e s . C r i t i c i s m f o r them i s more than a matter of personal impressionism, impressionism which may give a c l e a r e r i n d i c a t i o n of the nature of the c r i t i c ' s prejudices and whims than of the nature of the poem under c o n s i d e r a t i o n . I t i s not enough that the c r i t i c create a new work of art t o express h i s own emotional response to a poem. For Wordsworth and Coleridge the c r i t i c ' s task l i e s not i n the mere com-munication of h i s own impression of a work, but i n the s e n s i t i v e and d i s i n t e r e s t e d a n a l y s i s and evaluat ion of that work i n terms of h i s i m p r e s s i o n . C r i t i c i s m c e r t a i n l y allows f o r the personal i m -p r e s s i o n , but i t demands more. - //The c r i t i c 1 s . , . a b i l i t y t o enter i n t o the s p i r i t of works i n l i t e r a t u r e must depend upon h i s f e e l i n g s , h i s imagination and h i s understanding, that i s upon h i s r e -c i p i e n t , upon h i s c r e a t i v e or a c t i v e and upon h i s j u d g -i n g powers, and upon the accuracy and compass of h i s knowledge, i n f i n e upon all that makes up the moral and i n t e l l e c t u a l m a n . x The c r i t i c must not only f e e l : he must know, he must t h i n k , he must judge. Poetry rxses i n the heart and speaks t o the h e a r t , and much of the c r i t i c ' s worth w i l l depend upon h i s capacity t o f e e l , but , as ?/ordsworth and Coleridge both r e c o g n i z e , the t r u e c r x t i c w i l l be more than a man of s e n s i b i l i t y : he w i l l be a man of s u f f i c i e n t knowledge. 1 Wordsworth, William, "Upon Epitaphs" (2), (1810), in Noweli C. Smith, ed., Wordsworth's Literary Criticism, London, Henry Frowde, 1905, p. 116. •17-understandmg, imagination, o b j e c t i v i t y , and judgment t o analyze and evaluate his own emotional r e a c t i o n s to poetry* Despite the fact, however, that neither Wordsworth nor C o l e r i d g e would agree with Oscar Wilde's concept of the c r i t i c as an a r t i s t c r e a t i n g new works of a r t out of h i s personal impressions of existent works, they did leave a theory of poetry and c r i t i c i s m which allows much room for the p u r e l y personal response. Turning f i r s t t o Words-worth, l e t us analyze t h i s theory t o see i n what ways i t leads t o the p e r s o n a l estimate i n c r i t i c i s m , and i n what ways Wordsworth and Coleridge sought t o prevent anarchy, the great danger to c r i t i c i s m when i t bases i t s d e c i s i o n s on the personal estimate. As we have already noted, the source of poetry f o r Wordsworth i s emotional excitement. No matter how much thought, how much know-ledge may appear i n a poem, the source of that poem i s the p o e t ' s experiencing of some intense emotion: I have said that poetry Is the spontaneous overflow of powerful f e e l i n g s : i t takes i t s o r i g i n from emotion r e -c o l l e c t e d i n t r a n q u i l l i t y : the emotion i s contemplated t i l l , by a species of r e a c t i o n , the t r a n q u i l l i t y gradual ly d i s a p p e a r s , and an emotion, kindred t o that which was be-f o r e the subject of contemplation, i s gradual ly produced, and does I t s e l f a c t u a l l y exist i n the mind. In t h i s mood successful composition g r a d u a l l y begins, and i n a mood s i m i -l a r to t h i s i t i s c a r r i e d on . . . . x When we undertake the a n a l y s i s of any poem, t h e r e f o r e , we are under-t a k i n g the study of a unique object. I t i s an object which owes I t s existence t o a man's f e e l i n g s , and since the poet, l i k e a l l other men, can never f e e l quite the same about any object at more than one moment i n t i m e , he cannot - i f he would - ever d u p l i c a t e the moment of h i s 1 Wordsworth, Preface t o L y r i c a l B a l l a d s , (1800), i n Smith, op_. cit., p . 35. I -18-c r eat i o n of that poem. At a c e r t a i n time i n h i s l i f e M i l t o n was i n t e n s e l y moved by the h e a r t l e s s p e r s e c u t i o n of a r e l i g i o u s com-munity i n Piedmont. Deep i n the womb of h i s i n d i g n a t i o n was con-ceived a sonnet:: Avenge 0 Lord thy slaughtered s a i n t s , whose bones L i e scattered on the A l p i n e mountains c o l d , . Sven them who kept thy t r u t h so pure of o l d When a l l our f a t h e r s worshiped stocks and stones, Forget not . . • • 1 That sonnet i s unique: no one but M i l t o n could have w r i t t e n i t ; M i l t o n himself could have w r i t t e n i t at only one moment i n h i s l i f e . And the reason that i t must remain unique i s that no one can ever again f e e l as M i l t o n f e l t when he heard of the persecution of the Waldenses, "For our continued i n f l u x e s of f e e l i n g are modified and d i r e c t e d by our thoughts, which are indeed the representat ives of a l l our past f e e l i n g s . . . . "2 Now a l l that we have said thus f a r has had t o do with the source of p o e t r y , but does not much of i t hold as w e l l f o r our r e a d i n g of poetry? Is not the reading of a poem accompanied by an " i n f l u x of f e e l i n g , " and w i l l not that i n f l u x be "modified gjid d i r e c t e d " d i f f e r e n t l y i n the being of each i n d i v i d u a l reader? I f we agree that M i l t o n ' s sonnet sprang out of a p a r t i c u l a r modi-f i c a t i o n of a p a r t i c u l a r i n f l u x of f e e l i n g at a p a r t i c u l a r moment i n t i m e , does i t not f o l l o w that the I n f l u x of f e e l i n g that I know today when I read that sonnet w i l l come under a d i f f e r e n t m o d i f i c a -t i o n when I read the sonnet tomorrow or the next day, or when any-one else reads i t at any time at a l l ? 1 "On the Late Massacre i n Piedmont," 11. 1-5. 2 Wordsworth, Preface to L y r i c a l B a l l a d s , (1300), i n Smith, 0 £ . c i t . , p . 15. -19-. * . every object that meets the mature eye or ear assumes i t s place i n an i n t r i c a t e p a t t e r n of sensa-t i o n s , memories, and ideas . . . . The meanest flower that blows, i f i t but sojourn with memory and contem-p l a t i o n , thus becomes a center which r a d i a t e s passion through a l l the channels of a l i v e l y apprehension of multitudinous r e l a t i o n s h i p s . ! Even as the moment of emotional excitement which sees the con-c e p t i o n of a poem i s unique, so i s the moment of s t i m u l a t i o n which the i n d i v i d u a l reader knows as he r e a d s , and both experiences are unique because they are Intensely p e r s o n a l . E q u a l l y personal Is the end which Wordsworth sees f o r poetrys The Poet w r i t e s under one r e s t r i c t i o n o n l y , namely the n e c e s s i t y of g i v i n g immediate pleasure to a h u -man Being possessed of that information which may be expected from him, not as a lawyer, a p h y s i c i a n , a m a r i n e r , an astronomer, or a n a t u r a l p h i l o s o p h e r , but as a Man.2 I f a poem arouses pleasure i t has achieved i t s end. Now i t i s t r u e that by pleasure Wordsworth means more than unthinking enjoyment. He draws h i s d i s t i n c t i o n i n h i s " L e t t e r t o John Wilsons" It i s p l a i n from your l e t t e r that the pleasure which I have given you has not been b l i n d or u n t h i n k i n g ; you have studied the poems, and prove t h a t you have entered i n t o the s p i r i t of them. They have not given you a cheap or vulgar pleasure . . . . 3 and he elaborates on It i n the "Essay Supplementary t o the Preface" when he hopes f o r h i s poems " . . . t h a t , both i n words and t h i n g s , they w i l l operate i n t h e i r degree, to extend the domain of s e n s i -b i l i t y f o r the d e l i g h t , the honour, and the benefit of human 1 2 3 Campbell, op. c i t . , p . 30. Preface t o L y r i c a l B a l l a d s , (1800), In Smith, op. c i t . , p . 25 (1800), i n Smith, op. c i t . , p . 3. -20-nature • . . . r,J- Nevertheless, the end of the poetic activity re-mains pleasure, an entirely personal feeling, and if Scott's "Proud Maisie" brings me pleasure it has - for me - achieved its end as poetry. Poetry for Wordsworth i s , then, an essentially personal ac-tivity, having its origin in the emotional experience of one man, and its end In the rousing of pleasure, as a result of emotional sti-mulation, in another. Without going any further in our analysis of Wordsworth's poetics we must see that any criticism of poetry will have to work from the critic's own response, his own emotional sti-mulation, and his own pleasure. Wordsworth frankly accepted this personal basis of criticism, and even advocated i t , when he wrote in his Preface to the Lyrical Ballads (1800, One request I must make of my reader, which i s , that in judging these poems he would decide by his own feelings geniunely, and not by reflection upon what will probably be the judgement of others. How common is it to hear a person say, I myself do not object to this style of composition, or this or that expression, but, to such and such classes of people it will appear mean and ludi-crous! This mode of criticism, so destructive of all sound unadulterated judgement, is almost universal: let the Reader then abide, independently, by his own feelings, and, if he finds himself affected, let him not suffer such conjectures to interfere with his pleasure,^ The basis of all criticism must be our own feelings while in the presence of the poem. For criticism to have any value it must be sincere: the man who praises Hamlet merely because he thinks that he should praise i t , and not because he himself has found it an intensely moving work, is not a critic; he is a hypocrite. As we shall see, Wordsworth demands 1 (1815), in Smith, op. cit., p. 202. 2 Smith, op. cit., p. 38. Italics mine. -21 more of the critic than sensibility alone, but the critic must build his interpretation and estimate of a work on a sincere feeling for that work. Here we reach a central point in Wordsworth's critical attitude, the point from which the impressionist can work i f he choose to call Wordsworth as a witness in his defence. In our criticism we are to abide by our own feelings and judge from them, but those feelings will result from what the words of the poem call up in each reader's mind: w . . . his mind is left at liberty, and even summoned, to act upon . . . ifthe^ thoughts and images"1 of the poem. Who is to say where that liberty becomes license? Who is to decree that the reader's mind shall range thus far and no farther? Has the dull-witted reader any right to declare that his imaginative fellow is indulging in unjustifiable raptures when he finds untold riches in a poem which leaves the dull-witted unmoved? Wordsworth himself was a man of keen sensibility and great imagina' tioh. In the third of his essays "Upon Epitaphs" he has left us a singularly fine example of the emotional response which a few un-important details in life can call up in such a man as he. The details here consist of no more than an unknown name, and two in-significant dates, but note what these meant to Wordsworth, the as-sociations they aroused, and the feeling they excited j In an obscure corner of a country church-yard I once es-pied, half overgrown with hemlock and nettles, a very small stone laid upon the ground, bearing nothing more than the name of the deceased with the date of birth and death, imputing that it was an infant which had been born 1 Wordsworth, Preface to Poems, (1815), in Smith, op. cit., p. 155. •22-one day and died the following, I know not how far the reader may he in sympathy with me; "but more awful thoughts of rights conferred| of hopes awakened, of remembrances stealing away or vanishing, were imparted to my mind by that inscription there before my eyes than by any other that it has ever been my lot to meet with upon a tomb-stone.l What would have been to many men no more than another gravestone to be treated with perfunctory respect was for Wordsworth a profoundly moving sight in which was embodied the whole compass of the joy and sorrow, hope and despair of mortality, the inexplicable miracle of birth and the unfathomable tragedy of death. Who will say that his impression of that stone was unjustified? But who will deny that that impression reveals a hypersensitive, highly imaginative reaction to an external object? Once again, here as in our criticism of poetry, where does liberty of interpretation become license? Wordsworth saw the danger inherent in his personal approach to poetry. He saw that although poetry is by its very nature evo-cative, seeking to rouse associations - and thereby emotions - in the reader's mind, it is at the same time an expression of one man's emotional experience. It is , moreover, the expression of a man " • . . endowed with more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be common among man-kind . . . . "2 He saw that although the reader must be prepared to contemplate and savour the matter of poetry if he hopes to know the stimulation and delight which it has to offer, and although in the 1 (1810), in Smith, op. cit., p. 140. 2 Prefact to Lyrical Ballads,(1800), in Smith, op. cit., p. 23. •23-process of contemplation and savouring a mass of associations will inevitably accumulate to enrich the bare matter of the poetry, the reader must always keep in mind that he seeks the stimulation and delight which the poet has to offer, not that which he himself can arouse by letting his mind wander at will over the field of his own personal recollections, dreams, and aspirations. The poet is no ordinary mans He is the rock of defence for human nature; an upholder and preserver, carrying with him relationship and love. In spite of difference of soil and climate, of language and manners, of laws and customss in spite of tilings silently gone out of mind, and things violently destroyed; the Poet binds together by passion and knowledge the vast empire of human society, as it is spread over the whole earth, and over ell time.1 The experience of such a man is worth knowing; the delight which he has to offer is worth seeking. When we allow our own purely per-sonal associations to come between us and the poet we rob ourselves of an invaluable gift. By all means, Wordsworth implies, let as-sociations enrich poetry for us, but let them be associations which have their origins in the poet's work. Let them be associations of the sort Wordsworth himself knew as he gazed on the child's grave-stone, associations rising spontaneously under the stimulation of the object contemplated. To ensure as fully as possible that our associations shall be of this sort we must approach poetry with an open mind. We must cleanse ourselves of preconceptions and prejudices. Wordsworth clearly recognized the need for open-mindedness in the critic, and again and again in his prose writings we encounter warnings against 1 Wordsworth, Preface to Lyrical Ballads, (1800), in Smith, op. cit., pp. 27-28. -24-a t t i t u d e s and b e l i e f s which stand i n the way of a f u l l a p p r e c i a -t i o n of p o e t r y . Of these the most fundamental i s a misconception i n the c r i t i c ' s mind of what c o n s t i t u t e s p o e t r y . Because Wordsworth was very much aware that h i s work represented something r a d i c a l l y d i f -ferent f o r men schooled i n the n e o - c l a s s i c a l t r a d i t i o n of the eighteenth century, he l a i d great s t r e s s on the need f o r a broadly i n c l u s i v e c o n -cept of p o e t r y , and i n the Advertisement t o the L y r i c a l B a l l a d s (1738) he w r i t e s , I t i s d e s i r a b l e that . . . r e a d e r s , f o r t h e i r own sakes, should not suffer the s o l i t a r y word P o e t r y , a word of v e r y disputed meaning, t o stand i n the way of t h e i r g r a t i -f i c a t i o n ; but t h a t , while they are perusing t h i s book, they should ask themselves i f i t contains a n a t u r a l de-l i n e a t i o n of human p a s s i o n s , human c h a r a c t e r s , and human i n c i d e n t s ; and i f the answer be favourable t o the a u t h o r ' s wishes, that they should consent t o be pleased i n s p i t e of that most d r e a d f u l enemy of our p l e a s u r e s , our own p r e -e s t a b l i s h e d codes of d e c i s i o n . ^ The c r i t i c must be w i l l i n g t o a l t e r h i s concept of poetry i f that con-cept has no place f o r those works which r i s e out of the passions of man and b r i n g pleasure to man. I f he i s not w i l l i n g to do so, but, r a t h e r , c l i n g s t o h i s mistaken p r i n c i p l e s , he j o i n s that c l a s s of c r i t i c s whose judgments are . . . the most erroneous and p e r v e r s . For t o be m i s -taught i s worse than to be untaught; and no p e r v e r s e -ness equals that which i s supported by system, no e r -r o r s are so d i f f i c u l t t o root out as those which the understanding has pledged I t s c r e d i t t o uphold. In t h i s Class are contained censors, who, i f they be pleased with what i s good, are pleased with i t only by imperfect glimpses, and upon f a l s e p r i n c i p l e s ; who, should they generalize r i g h t l y , t o a c e r t a i n p o i n t , are sure t o suffer for i t i n the end; who, i f they stumble upon a sound r u l e , are f e t -t e r e d by misapplying i t , or by s t r a i n i n g i t too f a r ; being incapable of p e r c e i v i n g when i t ought t o y i e l d t o one of 1 Smith, op. c i t . , p . 1. -25-higher o r d e r . 1 In t h i s c l a s s are men l i k e Thomas Rymer who f i n d s f a u l t with Shake-speare' s Iago "because although a s o l d i e r he i s " . . . a c l o s e , d i s -sembling, f a l s e , i n s i n u a t i n g r a s c a l instead of an open-hearted, f r a n k , p l a i n - d e a l i n g s o l d i e r , a character constantly worn by them f o r some thousands of years In the w o r l d . B e c a u s e Iago's character does not agree with the "rxxle" of type c h a r a c t e r s , Rymer cannot accept him 'as a successful p o e t i c c r e a t i o n . C l o s e l y r e l a t e d t o the unwil l ingness of many men t o accept as poetry those works which do not agree with t h e i r preconceptions of what con-s t i t u t e s poetry i s the human tendency t o favour the f a m i l i a r over the strange s . . . a l l men f e e l an' h a b i t u a l g r a t i t u d e , and something of an honourable b i g o t r y , f o r the objects which have l o n g con-t inued t o please them: we not only wish t o be p l e a s e d , but to be pleased i n that p a r t i c u l a r way i n which we have been accustomed to be pleased.3 The great effect which t h i s tendency can have on one's approach to poetry was brought home t o me most v i v i d l y d u r i n g the past w i n t e r . As an essay t o p i c I suggested t o my c l a s s i n Freshman E n g l i s h the t i t l e , "Two Poems I L i k e , " and l e f t the students free t o select any two poems from the p r e s c r i b e d text and to t r e a t them i n any way they wished. Among the essays I received was one from a g i r l of considerable i n t e l l i g e n c e and admirable frankness who prefaced her paper with a note 1 Wordsworth, "Essay Supplementary to the P r e f a c e , " (1815), i n Smith, op. c i t . , p . 174. 2 A Short View of Tragedy, (1693), Chapter V I I , i n Odell Shepard and Paul Spencer Wood, e d . , E n g l i s h Prose and Poetry: 1660-1800, Bos-t o n , e t c . , Houghton M i f f l i n , 1934, p . 192. 3 Wordsworth, Preface t o L y r i c a l Ballads., (1800) , i n Smith, o£. c i t . , p . 40. -26-that although, as required of her, she had written on two poems, she could not honestly say that she liked them because she liked no "modern poetry." Her reason was that she believed that poetry should deal only with beauty, and the poetry we had studied - most of which was written in the present century - dealt with ugliness. (She referred specifically to the works of Wilfred Owen and T. S. Eliot.) For her the finest poem she knew was Shelley's Ode to the West Wind because it was a beautiful treatment of a beautiful theme. During her school years this girl had apparently familiarized her-self with nineteenth-century "nature" poetry, poetry extolling the loveliness of earth. She had found such poetry pleasing. Now, confronted with works which dealt with human hatred, frustration, inadequacy, doubt, waste - with all that makes up the tragedy of our century - she was disturbed by what was to her unfamiliar material for poetry. Because it was unfamiliar she could not appreciate poetry dealing with i t . A personal prejudice against the unfamiliar stood betv/een her and much of the finest poetry of her own time. The true critic must rid himself of such prejudice, even as he must rid himself of any other prejudice against the matter of poetry: • • • it is the privilege of poetic genius to catch, under certain restrictions of which perhaps at the time of its being exerted it is but dimly conscious, a spirit of pleasure wherever it can be found, - in the walks of nature, and in the business of men.-5-The world of poetry is a world of "comprehensiveness of thinking and feeling,"2 a world that embraces all that can move the heart of man. False delicacy of any sort must not pervert the critic's judgment. 1 Wordsworth, "Letter to Friend of Burns (James Gray, Esq., Edinburgh)," (1816), in Smith, op. cit., p. 213. 2 Wordsworth, "Letter to John Wilson," in Smith, op. cit., p. 8. -27-Spsailing of Burns' Tarn O'Shanter, Wordsworth points out that although men like Tam may be " . . .to the rigidly virtuous . . . objects almost of loathing . . * , "x Tam O'Shanter is still a great work of poetry because Burns, " . . . penetrating the unsightly and dis-gusting surfaces of things, has unveiled with exquisite skill the finer ties of imagination and feeling • . . . If the poet treats his theme in such a way we should ask no more of him: ugliness or beauty, the strange or the familiar, all can be matter for poetry. An even more serious prejudice, and one more difficult to over-come, is that based on one's religious convictions. Wordsworth re-cognized that many men, as they grow older and more serious in their attitude towards l i f e , turn to poetry for religious purposes, seek-ing in it an expression and an enforcement of their religious beliefs. If they find in a poem disagreement with their own beliefs, or even outright rejection of them, they find it difficult, if not impossible, to accept the work at its true artistic value. If they find in it a confirmation of their convictions they tend to over-estimate i t . "They come prepared to Impart so much passion to the Poet's language, that they remain unconscious how lit t l e , in fact, they receive from it."3 In his consideration of this prejudice Wordsworth reveals a remarkably perceptive understanding of the source of the confusion in the minds of these people. The. commerce between Han and his Maker cannot be carried on but by a process where much is represented in lit t l e , and the Infinite Being accommodates himself to a finite capacity. In'all this may be perceived the affinity 1 Wordsworth, "Letter to Friend of Burns," in Smith, op. cit., p. 214.. 2 Loc. cit. 3 Wordsworth, "Essay Supplementary to Preface," (1815), in Smith, op. cit., p. 172. -28-between religion and poetry; between religion - making up the deficiencies of reason by faith; and poetry - pas-sionate for the instruction of reason; between religion -whose element is infinitude, and whose ultimate trust is the supreme of things, submitting herself to circumscription, and reconciled to substitutions; and poetry - ethereal and transcendent, yet incapable to sustain her existence with-out sensuous incarnation. In this community of nature may be perceived also the lurking incitements of kindred error; -so that we shall find that no poetry has been more subject to distortion, than that species, the argument and scope of which is religious; and no lovers of the art have gone far-ther astray than the pious and the devout.i In their manifestations, poetry and religious faith are very closely linked: both lead to a human search for finite expression of the in-finite and inexpressible, for sensuous representation of a super-sensory experience. But both, too, depend upon Man's willingness to surrender himself wholly to a single power. Both demand submission: as the bride must submit willingly and joyfully to the bridegroom if she is to know the ecstasy of consummation, so must Man submit to God if he is to know the radiance of faith, and to the poet if he is to know the illumination of poetry. However, even as worldly knowledge can 'often inhibit Man from submitting entirely to God, so can firm religious convictions often inhibit him from submitting entirely to poetry. The devout Christian may well have difficulty in accepting SY/inburne's Garden of Proserpine because of the totally un-Christian thought in the stanzas: From too much love of living, From hope and fear set free, We thank with brief thanksgiving Whatever gods may be That no life lives for ever; That dead men rise up never; 1 Wordsworth, "Essay Supplementary to Preface," (1815), in Smith, op. cit., p. 173. 29-That even the weariest river Winds somewhere safe to sea. Then star nor sun shall waken, Nor any change of lights Nor sound of waters shaken, Nor any sound or sights Nor wintry leaves nor vernal, Nor days nor things diurnal; Only the sleep eternal In an eternal night.x Ghrist has promised life everlasting to those who will follow Him; Swinburne gives thanks that we CBXL see an end to li f e . The difficulty of accepting such a work is very real for many men of strong faith. The only way in which they can overcome the difficulty is to recognize that the matter of poetry is secondary: what con-cerns the reader Is that the poet should have "unveiled . . . the finer ties of imagination and feeling."2 As a believer in God, the reader may well quarrel with Swinburne the thinker, but as a reader of poetry he need have no quarrel if he can find in Swin-burne* s poem the emotional stimulation and delight which Wordsworth demands of all poetry. Let the reader of poetry hold fast to his religious convictions, but let him make every effort to ensure that those convictions do not blind him to the light which the poet has to offer. All the prejudices colouring criticism which we have thus far considered have had one rather admirable characteristic in common: each has resulted from some firmly held conviction in the reader's mind. Even when we disagree with a man's beliefs, even 1 11. 81-96. 2 Wordsworth, "Letter to Friend of Burns," in Smith, op. cit., p. 214. -30-when those beliefs anger us, we do have a grudging respect for the man who, in the face of attack, can hold fast to his convictions. There are, however, other prejudices which Wordsworth considers which have a meaner origin, man's love of self. In his "Essay Sup-plementary to the Preface" (1815) Wordsworth writes? There is extant a small Volume of miscellaneous poems, in which Shakespeare expresses his own feelings in his own person. It is not difficult to conceive that the Editor, George Steevens, should have been insensible to the beauties of one portion of that Volume, the Sonnets; though in no part of the writings of this poet is found in an «qual compass, a greater number of exquisite feelings felicitously expressed. But, from regard to the Critic's own credit, he would not have ventured to talk of an act of parliament not being strong enough to compel the perusal of those little pieces, if he had not known that the people of England were ignorant of the treasures contained in thems and if he had not, moreover, shared the too common propensity of human nature to exult over a supposed fall into the mire of a genius whom he had been com-pelled to regard with admiration, as an inmate of the celestial regions - "there sitting where he durst not soar.**! We can conceive of perhaps no baser sort of criticism than this, the revelling of a little man in the supposed momentary weakness of a great. Here is the sort of criticism which Wordsworth himself has suffered at the hands of those who see all too clearly the admittedly ridicu-lous lapses of those works, like The Thorn, in which he held too strictly to his theories of diction, and forget the inspired power of Tintera Abbey and the Ode on the Intimations of Immortality, those who keep reminding us of Annette Vailon and ridicule the purity of the Lucy poems. Poetry is a demanding activity, both in its creation and in its reading. During his moments of highest creation the poet par-takes of divinity, and we must do him reverence. In approaching his work we must rise as close to his level as we can. As he casts off 1 Smith, op. cit., p. 179. Italics mine -31-the meanness of mortality for a moment, so must we. If we can say honestly that his work has failed to more us, then we are justified in finding fault with it as poetry. But we must guard against our weakness as self-loving creatures, seeking merely to exalt ourselves "by felling the reputations of those greater than we. Wordsworth was, then, very much aware of the danger of such pre-conceptions and prejudices as these which we have considered! he saw that the critic who allowed his judgment to he swayed by such purely personal attitudes could not offer dependable verdicts as to the value of literary works. His decisions would be merely personal esti-mates, valuable only as revelations of the nature of the critic himself. For a critic to have any real value he must - at least for the duration of his study of the work he is criticizing - rid himself, as best he can, of personal prejudice, and approach poetry with an open mind. Now although it is very easy to say that we must rid ourselves of prejudice, and keep an open mind, it is quite another matter to do so. Nothing is more difficult than bringing ourselves to admit that a cherished conviction is an undesirable prejudice and tossing it away. Nevertheless, difficult as the task may be, Wordsworth leaves us in no doubt that we must undertake it if we are to appreciate poetry. In the "Letter to John Wilson" he writess You begin what you say upon The Idiot Boy, with this observation, that nothing is a fit subject for poetry which does not please. But here follows a question, Does not please whom? Some have little knowledge of natural imagery of any kind, and, of course, little relish for i t ; some are disgusted with the very mention of the words pastoral poetry, sheep or shepherds; some cannot tolerate a poem with a ghost or any supernatural agency in i t ; others -32-would shrink from an animated d e s c r i p t i o n of the pleasures of l o v e , as from a t h i n g c a r n a l and l i b i d i n o u s ; some can-not bear t o see d e l i c a t e and r e f i n e d f e e l i n g s ascribed to men i n low condit ions i n s o c i e t y , because t h e i r v a n i t y and s e l f - l o v e t e l l them that these belong only to them-s e l v e s , and men l i k e themselves In d r e s s , s t a t i o n , and way of l i f e ; others are disgusted with the naked language of some of the most i n t e r e s t i n g passions of men, because e i t h e r i t i s i n d e l i c a t e , or gross, or v u l g a r ; as many f i n e l a d i e s could not bear c e r t a i n expressions i n The Mother 8 1 1 ( 1 The Thorn, and, as i n the instance of Adam Smith, who, we are t o l d , could not endure the b a l l a d of Clym of the Clough, because the author had not w r i t t e n l i k e a g e n t l e -man. Then there are p r o f e s s i o n a l and n a t i o n a l prejudices f o r evermore. Some take no Interest i n the d e s c r i p t i o n of a p a r t i c u l a r passion or q u a l i t y , as love of s o l i t a r i n e s s , we w i l l say, g e n i a l a c t i v i t y of fancy, love of nature, r e l i g i o n , and so f o r t h , because they have £ l i t t l e or~\ nothing of i t i n themselves; and so on without end, I r e t u r n then t o £the.7 question, please whom? or what? I answer, human nature as It has been £and ever1 w i l l be. But, where are we t o f i n d the best measure of t h i s ? I answer, jTfrom w i t h ] i n ; by s t r i p p i n g our own hearts naked, and by l o o k i n g out of our-selves to (wards men_7 who l e a d the simplest l i v e s , and most according to n a t u r e ; men who have never known f a l s e r e -finements, wayward and a r t i f i c i a l d e s i r e s , f a l s e c r i t i c i s m s , effeminate h a b i t s of t h i n k i n g and f e e l i n g , or who having known these t h i n g s have outgrown t h e m . x To enter wholly i n t o the s p i r i t of poetry we must r i s e above considera-t i o n s of s e l f , c l a s s , n a t i o n , and creed, and stand as men, simple and n a t u r a l . When we have so cleansed ourselves we s h a l l have taken the f i r s t step towards becoming t r u e c r i t i c s . Wordsworth's c r i t i c , however, must have more than s i m p l i c i t y and n a t u r a l n e s s . Although these q u a l i t i e s are fundamentally neces-sary, they alone w i l l not make a c r i t i c . Whither then s h a l l we t u r n f o r that union of q u a l i f i c a t i o n s which must n e c e s s a r i l y exist before the d e c i s i o n s of a c r i t i c can be of absolute value? For a mind at once p o e t i c a l and p h i l o s o p h i c a l ; f o r a c r i t i c whose a f f e c t i o n s are as f r e e and k i n d l y as the s p i r i t of s o c i e t y , and whose understand-i n g i s severe as that of dispassionate government? Where 1 Smith, op. c i t . , pp. 5-6. -33-are we to look for that initiatory composure of mind which no selfishness can disturb? For a natural sensi-bility that has been tutored into correctness without losing anything of its quickness; and for active faculties, capable of answering the demands which an Author of original imagination shall make upon them, associated with a judge-ment that cannot be duped into admiration by aught that is unworthy of it? - among those and those only, who, never having suffered their youthful love of poetry to remit much of its force, have applied to the consideration of the laws of this art the best power of their understandings.x The true critic, he in whose judgment we can with fair security place our trust, will be a man of innate sensibility and of dis-interestedness, but also a man whose native qualifications have been channelled by training. As well as an instinctive feeling for poetry he will have acquired that . . . . accurate taste . . . which can only be produced by severe thought, and a long continued intercourse with the best models of composition. This is mentioned not with so ridiculous a purpose as to prevent the most inexperienced reader from judging for himself; but merely to temper the rashness of decision, and to suggest that if poetry be a subject on which much time has not been bestowed, the judge-ment may be erroneous, and that in many cases it necessarily will be so.2 The true critic, then, is a man of feeling and of taste. For Wordsworth, however, taste was something more than it had been for the eighteenth-century "School of Taste." Like the mem-bers of that group he believed that it was acquired by an intensive study of earlier masters, and that it sought to detect . . . the presence in every poem, or painting, or piece of sculpture, of unity or uniformity, and its contradictory quality, variety; of similitude or resemblance, and dis-similitude. ^  1 Wordsworth, "Essay Supplementary to Preface," (1815), in Smith, op. cit., pp. 173-174. 2 Wordsworth, Advertisement to Lyrical Ballads, (1798), In Smith, op. cit. , p. 2. ' 3 Beatty, Wordsworth, p. 44. 34-Like them, moreover, he believed that it depended upon the associa-tion of ideas; our highly complex concepts of beauty and sublimity develop out of the linking and fusing of simpler elements in the mind which, in turn, come from elements of our experience. This is to say that our aesthetic emotions depend on our ideas of things through association, and so are modified and directed by our ideas in an aesthetic product, the ideas in such cases being "ideas of emotion."x Now all three of these principles, which underlie the eighteenth-century concept of taste, are in a sense passive. To them Words-worth added the principle of an active exertion of a power in the reader's mind, a power which was essential if the reader of poetry was to know the profound, the exquisite, the pathetic, and the sub-lime in poetry. He recognized that the metaphorical use of the passive word taste was not appropriate if the faculty were expanded to embrace such an active exercise, but he recognized too that taste must include thi3 exertion of power. Proportion and congruity, the requisite knowledge being supposed, are subjects upon which taste may be trusted; it is competent to this office - for in its intercourse with these the mind is passive, and is affected pain-fully or pleasurably as by an instinct. But the profound and the exquisite in feeling, the lofty and universal in thought and imagination; or, in ordinary language, the pathetic and the sublime; - are neither of them, ac-curately speaking, objects of a faculty which could ever without a sinking in the spirit of Nations have been desig-nated by the metaphor Taste. Because without the exertion of a co-operating power in the mind of the reader, there can be no adequate sympathy with either of these emotions; without this auxiliary impulse, elevated or profound pas-sion cannot exist.2 The true man of taste is for Wordsworth one who is willing and able to 1 Beatty, op. c i t . , p . 50. 2 Wordsworth, "Essay Supplementary to P r e f a c e , " (1815), i n Smith, op. c i t . , p . 197. -35-exert this power in his reading of poetry. I have said earlier that knowing poetry is similar to knowing God in that both require absolute submission of self. The submis-sion to God is not, however, a passive thing: it requires of us the greatest spiritual effort of which we as men are capable. A voice summons us, "Rise, clasp My hand, and come!"1 We, f r a i l and doubting in the weakness of mortality, must rouse ourselves to the highest pitch to answer that summons. The act for which we prepare ourselves is purest joy; the effort which we must make to bring ourselves to the act i s , because of our weakness, agony. What Wordsworth means by the exertion of power in artistic taste is very similar to the exertion Y/hich we must make to know God. If we axe willing to co-operate with the poet in making this exertion - as with God in preparing for our communion with Him - we find ourselves immeasurably enriched: O f genius, in the fine arts, the only infallible sign is the widening the sphere of human sensibility, for the de-light, honour and benefit of human nature. Genius is the introduction of a new element into the intellectual uni-verse: or, i f that be not allowed, it is the application of powers to objects on which they had not before been exercised, or the employment of them In such a manner as to produce effects hitherto unknown. What is all this but an advance, or a conquest, made by the soul of the poet? Is it to be supposed that the reader can make progress of this kind, like an Indian prince or general - stretched on his palanquin and borne by his slaves? No; he is in-vigorated and inspirited by his leader, In order that he may exert himself; for he cannot proceed in quiescence, he cannot be carried like a dead weight. Therefore to create taste is -to call forth and bestow powey, o f which knowledge is the effect . . . . 2 1 Thompson, Francis, The Hound of Heaven, 1. 176. 2 Wordsworth, "Essay Supplementary to Preface," (1815), in Smith, op. c i t . , p. 198. The poet widens the horizons for mankind, and the critic, as a man of taste, must exert to the utmost his inner power if he hopes to follow the poet, to stand with him " . . . upon a peak in Darien," and, in turn, to guide his fellows to that peak. We can now draw some conclusions from our analysis of the per-sonal basis of Wordsworth's concepts of poetry and criticism. The source of poetry is one man's personal emotional excitement. The end of poetry Is another man's - the reader's - personal pleasure. That pleasure will result from a stimulation of his emotions, the stimulation, in turn, having resulted from the associations which the poet's thoughts and images have roused. On this emotional re-sponse the reader must eventually base his judgment of the poem. He must, however, recognize that certain purely personal prejudices and associations may hinder his appreciation of the poem as it really is , and lead to an unjustified estimate of its value. To avoid such errors in judgment the true critic must be more than a man of sensibility; he must be a man of knowledge, understanding, judgment, and taste. As must be obvious we have here an essentially personal concept of poetry and criticism. The origin, the end, and the judgment of poetry all depend upon the personal natures of individual men. Even the greet check on rash decisions is, in es-sence, a personal faculty, taste, which depends upon our past ex-perience of art and life. When we turn to the poetics of Samuel Taylor Coleridge we find, 1 Keats, John, "On first looking into Chapman's Homer," 1. 14. -37-as we should expect, a number of points of identity with the theories of Wordsworth. For Coleridge, as for Wordsworth, the source of poetry i s Intense emotional excitement, and i t s immediate end i s pleasure. A l l the fine arts are different species of poetry . . . . The common essence of a l l consists i n the excitement of emotion for the immediate purpose of pleasure through the medium of beauty; herein contra-distinguishing poetry from, science, the immediate object and primary purpose of which i s truth and possible u t i l i t y . 1 As for Wordsworth, therefore, the origin and the effect of poetry are essentially personal, and we must recognize that a c r i t i c a l approach to poetry based on such a theory w i l l , i n turn, be fundamentally personal. The concern of poetry i s "the response of passion," 2 and passion i s a personal experience i n both poet and reader. To understand f u l l y the intensely personal nature of Coleridge's poetics, however, we must recognize that his whole doctrine of art -l i k e his concept of the relationship of mexi to man, of man to Cod -i s rooted firmly i n man's awareness of s e l f , i n the power of man to declare with conviction, I AM. I f we are to grasp the f u l l s i g n i f i -cance of t h i s fundamental declaration we must trace i t s place In Coleridge's theory of the imagination, a theory which i s of the ut-most importance i n a l l Coleridge's c r i t i c i s m . In his childhood Coleridge had found i n the wonderful world of f a i r y tales and the Arabian Nights - that world of s p e l l s , and witches, and giants, and genii - a sense of the vast i n l i f e , "a love of the Great and the Whole."3 As he grew older, however, the 1 Coleridge, On the Principles o'f Genial C r i t i c i s m , i n Shaw-cross, op. c i t . , v o l . 2, pp. 220-221. 2 Powell, A. S., The Romantic Theory of Poetry, New York, Long-mans, Green, & Co., 1926, p. 120. 3 Shawcross, op. c i t . , v o l . 1, p. x i i . -38-c h i l d i s h delight i n the mere awareness of some "whole" encompassing him and a l l about him ceased to s a t i s f y : . . . his i n t e l l e c t u a l and s p i r i t u a l need became c l a r i f i e d to his mind, into a need to understand the Vast, the Whole, and to find the universe not a mere conglomeration of par-t i c u l a r s , " a mass of l i t t l e things," but a related whole. He sought for a center i n the universe, a center i n him-s e l f . 1 He sought an understanding of the unity which he f e l t must underlie a l l l i f e i f that l i f e had any significance. In the course of his quest for the unity of l i f e Coleridge reen deeply and widely, and the influence of many men i s apparent i n the Biographia L i t e r a r i a . Above a l l others, however, one, a t h i r d -century philosopher and mystic, helped Coleridge to find some under-standing of the unity he sought. This was Plotinus, whose Neo-Platonic conception of a unity embracing the universe and deriving from the One above a l l became tne basis of both Coleridge's own doctrine of unity, and his theory of the imagination. For Plotinus, Nature and the soul of man were united i n the i r direct relationship with the One, from which each shared i n d i v i n i t y . "Nature and the soul of man are therefore fundamentally divine, and one i n the unity of the i r source; p between them i s the deep relationship of a common origin." They are united, too, In that both the world of matter (Nature) and the souls of men are forever being shaped by the dynamic Ideas which are the thought of God. Unlike the Platonic Ideas, which are but forms exist-ing i n the mind of God, Plotinian Ideas are active, v i t a l , working 1 Sherwood, Margaret P., Coleridge's Imaginative Conception of the Imagination, Wellesley, M a s s . , Hathaway House Bookshop, 1937, p. 9. 2 I b i d . , pp. 10-11. -39-constantly i n Nature and i n Man to bring the component parts of the universe into a greater harmony with each other and with t h e i r divine o r i g i n . A l l being, i n both the material and the immaterial worlds, therefore consists of the outflowing divine, and of the s t r i v i n g upward of a l l that i s - the soul of man more stron g l j , nature more dimly, toward thei r divine source * » » • The divine Ideas are constantly performing t h e i r shaping operation, bringing matter Into form; and t h i s operation i s performed not only i n nature, but also i n the soul of man. In Plotinus Coleridge found what he sought, a closely reasoned interpretation of l i f e based on a doctrine of v i t a l unity. He ac-cepted Plotinus* b e l i e f i n a divine force uniting a l l l i f e and a l l matter, and he accepted Plotinus* belief In change as the manifesta-t i o n of the operation of the divine Ideas i n Man and Nature. The f a i t h which he found i n Plotinus i n " . . . a l i v i n g unity through-out the universe, 'and i n the mind of man,' found f u l l e s t expres-sion i n his theory of imagination; i t was the center of his thought o of imagination, as of his whole metaphysical system.'"1 In Plotinus we find that i n the organization of the divine unity the f i r s t d i v i s i o n takes place i n the mind, where we find established a duality of thought and being, of consciousness and objects. Following Plotinus very closely, Coleridge establishes the duality of the Sum of the Subjective and the Sum of the Objective. 1 Sherwood, op. c i t . , p. 11. 2 Loc. c i t , 3 Coleridge, Biogra.phia L i t e r a r i a , (1817), ed. ,J. Shawcross, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1907, vol. 1, p. 174. (Chapter 12) -40-By the first of these he means the self, or the intelligence; and by the second, Nature, embracing all the phenomena by which we know the world about us. Now before we can have any positive knowledge there must be what Coleridge terms a "reciprocal con-currence"1 of the intelligence and Nature, of the conscious be-ing and that which Is in itself unconscious. There must be a fusion of the two before we can fully know anything, before we can know that " . . . the heavens and the earth . . . declare not only the power of their maker, but the glory and the presence of their God . . . . "2 Before the fruits of this interaction of the two can be sound, however, man must establish some absolute truth from which positive knowledge can develop. He must seek . . . for some absolute truth capable of communicating to other positions a certainty, which it has not itself bor-rowed; a truth self-grounded, unconditional and known by its own light. In short, we have to find a somewhat which is , simply because it is3 And where is he to find this truth of truths? For Coleridge he could find it in only one thing, in the fundamental principle which mani-fests itself in the SUM, or 1 AM, in man's awareness of his own spirit, in his consciousness of his own self as distinguished from the world about him. In this, and in this alone, object and subject, being and knowing axe identicaJ., each involving, and supposing the other . . . . It may be described therefore as a perpe-tual self-duplication of one and the same power into object 1 .Coleridge, Biographia, vol. 1, p. 174. (Chapter 12) 2 Ibid., p. 175. 3 Ibid., p. 181. 41-and subject . . . . 1 And, as Coleridge goes on to demonstrate, this fundamental truth of the I AM, the spirit, the self-consciousness, is nothing more than a repetition in the human mind of the divine creation: Whatever in its origin is objective, is like-wise as such necessarily finite. Therefore, since the spirit is not originally an object, and as the subject exists in anti-thesis to an object, the spirit cannot originally be finite. But neither can it be a subject without becoming an object, and, as it Is originally the identity of both, it can be conceived neither as infinite nor finite ex-clusively, but as the most original union of both. In the existence, In the reconciling, and the recurrence of this contradiction consists the process and mystery of production and life.2 Aware of the truth of this one principle, the I AM, man can safely proceed to erect the structure of his knowledge. With this absolute truth as his measure of all things he can work through the Under-standing to a grasp of the material world, and through the Reason to an apprehension of the reality which is God. "We begin with the I KNOW MYSELF, in order to end with the absolute I AM. We proceed from the SELF, in order to lose and find all self in GOD."3 When we understand that the imagination is for Coleridge the faculty which first enables us to grasp this basic truth of the I AM, we begin to appreciate the importance of the imagination in both his psychology and his metaphysics. Quite apart from its other functions, the imagination is " . . . the living Power and prime Agent of all human Perception, and . . . a repetition in the finite 1 Coleridge, Biographia, vol. 1, p. 183. (Chapter 12) 2 Ibid., p. 185. 3 Ibid., p. 186. -42-mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I AM."1 It i s , in other words, " . . . a faculty enabling man to differentiate his consciousness from the sensible world without| a declaration of individual existence, distinct from all else."2 With the awareness of his own self which the imagination as the "prime agent of human perception" brings him, man has the basic truth on which to build: " . . . the self-consciousness is the fixt point, to which for us all is morticed and annexed . . . . "3 The power of the imagination to enable us to perceive the world about us and to appreciate our existence as individuals apart from that world is what Coleridge means when he speaks of the Primary Imagination. This aspect of the imagination is relatively passive. As a rule, we do not consciously try to perceive the world about us; it impinges upon us. The Primary Imagination is the agency through which we receive our perceptions of the world from the senses. There i s , however, a second aspect of the imagination which is ac-tive. This is what Coleridge terms the Secondary Imagination: The Secondary Imagination I consider as an echo of the . . . [Primary Imagination^, co-existing with the con-scious will, yet still as identical with the primary in the kind of its agency, and differing only in degree, and in the mode of its operation. It dissolves, dif-fuses, dissipates, in order to recreate; or where this process is rendered impossible, yet still at all events it struggles to idealize and to unify. It is essentially vital, even as all objects (as objects) are essentially fixed and dead.^ 1 Coleridge, Biographia, vol. 1, p. 202. (Chapter 13) 2 Sherwood, op. cit. , P. 12. 3 Coleridge, Biographia, vol. 1, p. 186. (Chapter 12) 4 Ibid., p. 202. 43-With this power of the Secondary Imagination to unify a multitude of disordered elements we come to the very core of Coleridge's con-cept of the imagination. It is this power which he has in mind ivhen he speaks of the esemplastic function of the imagination: "Esemplastic. The word is not in Johnson, nor have I met with it elsewhere." . . . I constructed it myself from, the Greek words . . . meaning to shape into one; because, having to convey a new sense, I thought that a new term would both aid the recollection of my meaning, and prevent its being confounded with the usual import of the word, imagination.1 And it is this same power which he has in mind when he exclaims, "How excellently the German Einbildungskr aft expresses this prime and loftiest faculty, the power of co-adunation, the faculty that p forms the many Into one - In-eins-bildungl" All men have the power of the Primary Imagination: through it we proceed to a perception of the world without, and through it we appreciate that we have our individual existences. All men, too, have the power of the Secondary Imagination, but not all have it in equal degree. All of us a.re ce/pable of that unifying function which underlies the fusion of such general feelings as pity, con-cern, hope, desire, and companionship into love for a fellow human-being, but only the poet is capable of the fullest forms of fusion and unification. Only he can take the accumulated matter of the mind, dissolve, diffuse, and dissipate i t , and then bring the ele-ments together into a new harmony, a new form, a new unity. Only he 1 Coleridge, Biographia, vol. 1 , p. 107. (Chapter 1 0 ) 2 Coleridge, Anima Poetae, ed., Ernest Hartley Coleridge, London, William Heinemann, 1 8 9 5 , p. 236. (From Chapter 7, 1810) . . . brings the whole soul of man into activity, with the subordination of the faculties to each other, ac-cording to their relative worth and dignity. He diffuses a tone and spirit of unity, that blends, and (as It were) fuses, each into each, by that synthetic and magical power, to which we have exclusively appropriated the name of imagina-tion. This power, first put into action by the will and understanding, and retained under their irremissive, though gentle and unnoticed, controul . . . reveals itself in the balance or reconciliation of opposite or discordant quali-ties* of sameness, with difference, of the general, with the concrete; the idea,with the image; the individual, with the representative; the sense of novelty and fresh-ness, with old and familiar objects; a more than usual state of emotion, with more than usual order; judgement ever awake and steady self-possession, with enthusiasm and feeling profound or vehement; and while it blends and harmonizes the natural and the artificial, still sub-ordinates art to nature; the manner to the matter; and our admiration of the poet to our sympathy with the poetry.1 Here is the power which distinguishes the Shakespeare, the Milton, the Wordsworth from the rest of mankind, the power that permeates the greatest of their works, and in those works " . . . forms all into one graceful and intelligent whole."2 We have here a concept of the imagination as the very fountain of the poet's power. Through the functioning of the Secondary Imagina-tion the poet "forms the many into one,"3 but to achieve such a fusion, such a perception of the unity of li f e , he must - for Coleridge have built all upon the basic truth of self-awareness, the I AM: Imagination guided by the "sacred power of self-intuition," is to him a power through which, if mind, feeling, will are rightly directed, one may understand the thought of God as expressed in the visible, audible, tangible world; is veri-tably an agency between the world of sense and the world of spirit.4 1 Goleridge, Biographia, vol. 2, p. 12. (Chapter 14) 2 Ibid., p. 13. 3 Coleridge, Anima Foetae, p. 236. (From Chapter 7, 1810) 4 Sherwood, op. cit., 19. - 4 5 -On t h i s i n t e n s e l y subject ive base the poet erects the structure of h i s work, o f f e r i n g an imaginative r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of the source of h i s s t i m u l a t i o n , a r e p r e s e n t a t i o n i n which the p o e t ' s e n t i r e state of being at the moment of i n s p i r a t i o n i s offered to us In communicable form. When the imagination has f u l l y performed I t s f u n c t i o n the r e s u l t i s a t r u e work of a r t , a work of organic u n i t y , of homogeneity. Oedipus Rex, O t h e l l o , Paradise L o s t , C o l e r i d g e ' s own Ancient Mariner - all these are works possessing such u n i t y , eVen as any t r u l y great work possesses i t . I n what way, however, does C o l e r i d g e ' s concept of the imagination and I t s a l l - i m p o r t a n t place i n the c r e a t i o n of poetry affect the c r i t i c ? For Coleridge i t has a very r e a l effect i f the c r i t i c i s to perform h i s task p r o p e r l y . Because poetry i s an imaginative c r e a t i o n , p r e -senting i n a state of f u s i o n the mass of elements entering i n t o the p o e t ' s b e i n g , the c r i t i c must be prepared himself t o approach poetry i m a g i n a t i v e l y . Poetry f o r him i s not something which can be'known from e x t e r n a l s : we cannot read i t as we read a s c i e n t i f i c t e x t ; we cannot judge i t as we judge a machine, by v a r i o u s mechani-c a l t e s t s and measurements. Even as Wordsworth sees that we must submit t o the poet, so does Coleridge see that we must submerge ourselves i n the poetry. The poet has blended the colours of the spectrum of multeity Into the white radiance of u n i t y ; the c r i t i c must endeavour to work from that radiance back to the spectrum In order to r e v e a l to those of us l e s s s e n s i t i v e than he the r i c h -ness, the depth, the s i g n i f i c a n c e of 'che p o e t ' s c r e a t i o n . For - 4 6 -Goleridge the c r i t i c of poetry must be " . . . a poet, at l e a s t , i n posse," 1 and Coleridge himself was a c r i t i c of t h i s sort: . . . his highest achievements are i n his penetrating analyses of Shakespearean characters and i n his pro-foundly imaginative re-creations of the f u l l impres-sion which Shakespeare may make i n a mind more sensi-t i v e , more just and experienced, and more i n t e l l i g e n t than the minds of normal men.2 Thomas Raysor has suggested three great qualities of Coleridge as a c r i t i c : reflectiveness, delicate s e n s i t i v i t y of poetic imagination, and profound insight Into human nature,3 and these qualities are as important i n the poet as i n the c r i t i c . Even as the poet must have them i f he i s to pierce through the s h i f t i n g shadows of ac t u a l i t y to the unchanging l i g h t of r e a l i t y , so must the c r i t i c have them If he i s to. pierce through the matter of poetry to the illumination of the poet's i n s p i r a t i o n . A l l these q u a l i t i e s , however, are personal, and a l l r i s e out of that same power of s e l f - i n t u i t i o n , the I AM, which underlies Coleridge's concept of the imagination. The result i s that as a practising c r i t i c , "Coleridge . . . does not judge by rules, but by a P r i n -c i p l e , a c r i t e r i o n - the c r i t e r i o n of his own identity . . . . For him, as for Wordsworth, c r i t i c i s m i s fundamentally personal. The c r i t i c , then, must aim at an imaginative perception of poetry, a perception i n which he must c a l l upon a l l his own powers 1 Coleridge, Anima Poeta.e, p. 128. (From Chapter 4, 1805) 2 Raysor, Thomas M., ed., Coleridge's Shakespearean C r i t i c i s m , London, Constable & Co., Ltd., 1930, v o l . 1, p. x l v i i i . 3 I b i d . , p. l x i . 4 Potter, Stephen, Coleridge and STC, London, Jonathan Cape, 1938, p. 143. -47-as a man. Each of us is, however, an Individual being; each of us- has powers widely different from those of his fellows J The razor's edge becomes a saw to the armed vision; and the delicious melodies of Purcell or Cimarosa might be disjointed stammerings to a hearer, whose partition of time should be a thousand times subtler than ours.x There are few things in music that I find more intensely moving than Wagner's Tristan, but I have heard a man with a very real appreciation of music declare that it reminded him of the rumbling of his stomach. Our perception of anything must be personal and, therefore, relative. Coleridge himself admits as much when he writes in the Principles of Genial Criticism (1814): I am conscious that I look with a stronger and more pleasureable emotion at Mr. Allston's large land-scape, in the spirit of Swiss scenery, from its hav-ing been the occasion of my first acquaintance with him in Rome.2 Coleridge here is merely revealing the same awareness which we have noted in Wordsworth, that some personal associations are unavoidable in criticism. Also as we have noted in Wordsworth, however, Coleridge recognizes that such associations, preconception and prejudices can hinder the critic in his effort to arrive at a just estimate of a work, and he warns against the " . . . fantastic intrusion of the accidental and the arbitrary • • • • As best he can the critic must endeavour to follow the path of associations down which the poet means to lead him; he must constantly turn to the " . . . thoughts and images which the poet himself has . . . 1 Coleridge, Biographia, vol. 1, p. 81. (Chapter 7) 2 Shawcross, op. cit., vol. 2, p. 237. 3 Coleridge, "Fragment of an Essay on Beauty," (1818), in Shai cro'ss, op. cit. , vol. 2, p. 250. -48-presented."^ He must keep his gaze fixed firmly on the object of criticism, the poem. (Tcoleridge's ovm~J . . . criticism is not like the lovely description by Pater of the Mona Lisa, which may indeed be read for its own sake, like all criticisms of the first rank, but manifestly forgets its subject. How-ever far he may sometimes fall into the Inevitable i l -lusion of criticism and read himself into Shakespeare, Coleridge never substitutes for criticism the lyrical Impressionism which seeks to create a new work of art, only nominally inspired by its subject and essentially Independent.2 As Coleridge was very much aware, many readers - including a number of those who pose as critics - make little effort to see a work as it really i s . In times of old, books were as religious oracles; as literature advanced, they next became venerable precep-tors; they then descended to the rank of instructive friends; and, as their numbers increased, they sunk still lower to that of entertaining companions; and at present they seem degraded into culprits to hold up their hands at the bar of every self-elected, yet not the less peremptory, judge, who chuses to write from humour or interest, from enmity or arrogance, and to abide the decision (in the words of Jeremy Taylor) "of him that reads i n malice, or him that reads after dinner."3 Altogether too much of the criticism of Coleridge's own time -and, for that matter, of any time in the history of literature -was written "from humour or interest, from enmity or arrogance," and Coleridge well appreciated that the man who could not shed his prejudices could not be a just critic. All that he could pos-sibly give would be a totally self-interested estimate. As an extreme illustration of this, Coleridge, in the Principles of 1 Coleridge, Biographia, vol. 2, p. 104. (Chapter 22) 2 Raysor, op. cit., vol. 1, pp. 1-li. 3 Coleridge, Biographia, vol. 1, p. 41. (Chapter 3) Italics mine. -49-Genial Criticism, tells the hypothetical little story of Kilton and "some stern and prejudiced Puritan"1 contemplating the front of York Cathedral. Milton admires the beauty of the front. His Puritan friend, firm in his convictions, objectsj this is not the beauty of holiness; it is not useful; it represents the " . . . -wanton vanity of those cruel shavelings, that wasted the labor and substance of so many thousand poor creatures in the erection of this haughty pile;" the money it represents might better have been spent building more churches and maintaining more clergymen; the magnificence keeps alive "the pride of the prelates" and the popish and carnal spirit"3 of the people. Mil-ton agrees with all that his companion says, but still insists that the Cathedral is beautiful: . . . I did not call It good, nor have I told thee, brother', that If this were levelled with the ground, and existed only in the works of the modeller or en-graver, that I should desire to reconstruct it.-" Goodness or badness is not the question. What matters for Milton here Is the "beauty of the Cathedrals The Beautiful arises from the perceived harmony of an object, whether sight or sound, with the inborn and constitutive rules of the judgement and imagination: and it is always intuitive. As light to the eye, even such is beauty to the mind, which cannot but have com-placency in whatever is perceived as preconfigured to Its living faculties. Hence the Greeks called a beautiful object . . . calling on the soul, which receives instantly, and welcomes it as something connatural.5 1 Shawcross, op. cit., vol. 2, p. 242. 2 Loc. cit* 3 Loc. cit. 4 Ibid., p. 243. 5 Loc. cit. -50-Where the Puritan's prejudices blinded him to the beauty of the front of the Cathedral, Milton's open-mindedness, his ability to rise above personal interests, enabled him to appreciate that bea.uty to the full. Despite his awareness that literary criticism must allow for the personal response, Coleridge had no place for criticism of the sort offered by Milton's Puritan friend. In the Biographia he heartily condemns this same sort of criticism in the Edinburgh Review of his own day. There he finds men, posing as critics, who base their judgments not on the work they pretend to be cri-ticizing, but on considerations of " . . . NATIONAL, PARTY, and even PERSONAL predilection or aversion . . . ;"x men who judge a work on what they know of its author's private life; men who subject to criticism . . . works neither indecent nor immoral, yet of such trifling importance even in point of size and, according to the critic's own verdict, so devoid of all merit, as must excite in the most candid mind the suspicion, either that dislike or vindictive feelings were at work; or that there was a cold prudential pre-determination to increase the sale of the Review by flattering the malig-nant passions of human nature;2 and men who indulge in . . . arbitrary and sometimes petulant verdicts, not sel-dom unsupported even by a single quotation from the work condemned, which might at least have explained the critic's meaning, if it did not prove the justice of his sentence.3 Here is the personal estimate at its very worst, unjustified by the one thing that can so much as begin to justify i t , the critic's real 1 Biographia, vol. 2, p. 89. (Chapter 21) 2 Loc. cit. 3 Ibid., p. 90. -51-f e e l i n g f o r the work i t s e l f . Bxrt how i s the c r i t i c to avoid judgments based on p r e -conception, p r e j u d i c e , or u n j u s t i f i e d associat ion? As does Words-worth, Coleridge recognizes that the d i f f i c u l t y here is very g r e a t , b u t , again as does Wordsworth, he f a l l s back on the development of personal t a s t e , to be acquired - as i t was f o r both Wordsworth and the eighteentn-century School of Taste - by a study of e a r l i e r masterpieces, a very l i m i t e d acquaintance with which " . . . w i l l s u f f i c e t o form a c o r r e c t and even a. s e n s i t i v e t a s t e We have noted that Wordsworth widened the concept of t a s t e from a p u r e l y passive f a c u l t y to i n c l u d e the a c t i v e exert ion of 8. c o - o p e r a t i n g power in the reader. C o l e r i d g e , t o o , considers t a s t e t o be both a passive and an a c t i v e f a c u l t y , and l i n k s i t s f u n c t i o n in the c r i t i c very c l o s e l y t o the f u n c t i o n of the imagina-t i o n i n the p o e t . A s e r i e s of h i s essays on t a s t e i s e n t i t l e d On the P r i n c i p l e s of Genial C r i t i c i s m , and t h i s t i t l e i n d i c a t e s f a i r l y c l e a r l y the connection he sees bet'ween c r i t i c a l t a s t e and c r e a t i v e imaginations T h i s is the German use of the word g e n i a l , " p e r t a i n i n g to genius:" Coleridge i s I d e n t i f y i n g l i t e r a r y t a s t e with the kind of genius that has productive imagination and creates poetry. The few r e a l l y good c r i t i c s are men of t a s t e and t h e r e f o r e , i n a sense, poets themselves; the rea.der with the same kind of u n i v e r s a l experience that i s i n the poet a c t u a l l y re-performs the poetic a c t i v i t y . 2 We have already seen that C o l e r i d g e ' s concept of the poetic imagina-t i o n has a v e r y r e a l inf luence on h i s concept of the c r i t i c a l a c t i v i t y 1 C o l e r i d g e , Biographia, v o l . 2, p . 115. (Chapter 22) 2 Creed, Howard H a l l , "Coleridge o n ' T a s t e , ' " ELH, v o l . 13 (1946), p . 152. -52-and hers we find a manifestation of that influence. The c r i t i c must approach a work of poetry imaginatively i f he i s to experience the f u l l force of the poet's imaginative fusion of multeity into unity. The f i r s t step i n his c r i t i c a l approach must, of course, be one of s e n s i b i l i t y , of emotional response, but after that he must bring his i n t e l l e c t into play, and here lie find one great distinguishing feature of the true c r i t i c , the active exercise of taste: By t a s t e , . . . as applied to the fine arts, we must be supposed to mean an i n t e l l e c t u a l perception of e.ny object blended with a di s t i n c t reference to our own s e n s i b i l i t y of pain or pleasure, or vice versa, a. sense of enjoyment or d i s l i k e co-instantaneously combined with, and appearing to proceed from, some i n t e l l e c t u a l perception of the ob-ject « . . . 1 To apprehend a poem i n t e l l e c t u a l l y requires the exercise of powers of analysis, analysis which w i l l reveal the nature of the work which has caused the reader's original emotional stimulation. TASTE i s the Intermediate faculty which connects the active with the pa.ssi.ve powers of our nature, the i n -t e l l e c t with the senses; and It s appointed function i s to elevate the images of the l a t t e r , while i t realizes the ideas of the former.2 I f a c r i t i c has taste Coleridge believes that he can avoid the errors of judgment into which men l i k e Milton's Puritan friend and the c r i t i c s of the Edinburgh Review have f a l l e n . I t w i l l depend upon the development of the i n t e l l e c t u a l faculties of each c r i t i c , but i t exists, nonetheless, as a potential i n the minds of a l l men, 1 Coleridge, "Fragment of an Essay on Taste," (1810), i n Shawcross, op. c i t . , v o l . 2, p. 248. 2 Coleridge, g n j ^ g Principles of Genial Criticism,, i n Shaw-cross, op. c i t . , v o l . 2, p. 227. - 5 3 -and all men can develop it to appreciate the validity cf the cri-tical judgments of others. Those in whom it is fully cultivated can arrive at critical judgments which their fellows can securely s,ccept: . . . there exists In the constitution of the human soul a sense, and a regulative principle, which may indeed be stifled and latent in some, and be perverted and denaturalized in others, yet is nevertheless uni-versal in a given state of intellectual and moral cul-ture; which is independent of local and temporary circumstances, and dependent only on the degree in which the faculties of the mind are developed; and which, consequently, it is our duty to cultivate and improve, as soon as the sense of its actual existence dawns upon us.l The true critic will have developed this regulative power to Its fullest. We should perhaps pause now to see what sort of pattern we are weaving in this analysis of the personal basis of Coleridge's theories. Coleridge finds the source of poetry in the poet's personal, emotional excitement, and its end In the reader's per-sonal pleasure. He recognizes that the poet gives imaginative representation to the cause of his moment of excitement, and In that representation fuses the whole of his state of being into communicable form; this imaginative representation will reflect all that the poet has ever known, and this, in turn, will have been erected upon the basic truth of self-awareness. If the critic Is to know the full force of the poet's work, he must approach the work imaginatively, seeking to grasp the nature of the poet's fusion; 1 Coleridge, On the Principles of Genial Criticism, in Shaw-cross, op. cit., vol. 2, p. 227. -54--fco do so he must submerge himself in the poem. However, because every man is different from all others, every imaginative per-ception of a poem will differ from all others. The inevitable variation will be aggravated because of innumerable personal prejudices, preconceptions, and associations. Some of these are unavoidable, but the danger which they offer can be met if the critic will develop his innate sense of taste. As with Wordsworth, we are here faced again-with a highly personal theory of poetry and criticism. However, we can see that Coleridge does try to avoid the pitfalls of the purely personal estimate, and in his critical writings we frequently find, him de-claring that the aim of the critic must be an impartial judgment based on sound principles. I shall dismiss all feelings and associations which might lead me from the formation of a right estimate. I shall give talent and genius its due praise, and only bestow censure where, as it seems to me, truth and justice demand i t . I shall, of course, carefully avoid falling into that system of false criticism, which I condemn in others; and, above a l l , whether I speak of those whom I know, or of those whom I do not know, of friends or of enemies, of the dead or of the living, my great aim will be to be strictly impartial. Ho man can truly apply principles who displays the slightest bias in the application of them; and I shall have much greater pleasure in pointing out the good, than in exposing the bad. I fear no accusation of arrogance from the amiable sjid the wise: I shall pity the weak, and despise the male-volent.1 He does not advocate a return to the artificial rules of the neo-Classicists, but he does advocate an acceptance of certain funda-mental principles of criticism which can aid the man of sensibility 1 Coleridge, "Lectures on Shakespeare and Milton," (1811-1812), I , in Raysor, op. cit., vol. 2, p. 63. 55-and taste in his evaluation of poetry* He recognizes that all great works of genius have order and form, but it is the critic's business to determine from a study of each work what this order i s , and not to attempt to apply rules of form to the work; he recognizes that art, being vital and organic, assumes different shapes at different periods in human development, and we must be willing to accept each shape it takes, not try to judge Shake-speare' s plays by the form of Sophocles'5 and he recognizes that the spirit of poetry is the only constant that the critic can demand - if a man's poetry has that, its form can be quite unlike any that has gone before and its value be unaffected.1 If the critic be a man of innate sensibility and cultivated taste, and if he be willing to accept these basic principles, he can, with some confidence, arrive at the sound criticism which Coleridge offers as an ideal to be sought after, that criticism . . . in which the critic announces and endeavours to establish the principles, which he holds for the founda-tion of poetry . . . . Having thus prepared his canons of criticism for praise and condemnation, he would pro-ceed to particularize the most striking passages to which he deems them applicable, faithfully noticing the fre-quent or infrequent recurrences of similar merits or de-fects, and as faithfully distinguishing what is characteris-tic from what is accidental, or a mere flagging of the wing. Then if his premises be rational, his deductions legitimate, and his conclusions justly applied, the reader « « . may adopt his judgement in the light of judgement and in the independence of free-agency. If he has erred, he presents his errors in a definite place and tangible form, and holds the torch and guides the way to their detection.2 We have now seen that neither Wordsworth nor Coleridge advocates 1 Zeitlin, Jacob, Hazlitt on Literature, Oxford University Press, 1913, pp. xxxviii-xxxix. 2 Coleridge, Biographia, vol. 2, p. 85. (Chapter 21) -56-anything like a personal estimate of poetry. Both recognize its dangers, and both suggest preventives. Nevertheless, the poetics which thej' offer in their criticism rests firmly on a personal base, 8. base of personal emotion, personal pleasure, and personal taste. Many of the critics who were to follow their lead were to overlook the preventives and slip into the pitfalls endangering the path of any critic who bases his criticism wholly on personal impressionism. I l l The Development of Impressionism in the Critical Theories of Lamb," Hazlitt and De Quinc ey In the Principles of Genial Criticism Coleridge writes; A moss-rose, with a sprig of myrtle and jasmine, is not more beautiful from having been plucked from the garden, or presented to us by the hand of the woman we love, but isabundantly more delightful.1 To a degree we have here the attitude of Lamb, Hazlitt and De Quincey towards their task as critics of literature. For all of them the world of poetry is a world of intense emotional and spiritual experience, and In their criticism they seek to reveal the riches of that world to their fellows. They pluck the moss-rose from the garden of literature, heigliten its beauty with the myrtle and jasmine of their own impres-sion, and offer it to us for our increased appreciation and delight. De Quinc ey experiences a strong response to the knocking at the gate after Duncan's murder in Macbeth; in his criticism of the scene he conveys that response; and by conveying his response he seeks to enrich that scene for future readers. In the critical theories of Wordsworth and Coleridge we have seen the establishment of a markedly persons! base for literary criticism. How, in the theories of Lamb, Hazlitt and De Quinc ey we are to see the development upon this base of am even more purely personal structure of criticism. Two of these men - Lamb and Hazlitt -are pure impressionists, criticizing literature wholly from their own 1 Shawcross, op. cit., vol. 2, p. 236. impressions of i t ; the t h i r d - De Quineey - works from c e r t a i n p r i n c i p l e s , derived wholly or i n part from Wordsworth and C o l e r i d g e , but i n the c r i t i c i s m which r e s u l t s r e v e a l s himself to be p r i m a r i l y an i m p r e s s i o n i s t . Annie Powell has suggested that one c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the "romantic" i s the d e s i r e " . . . to recreate a moment of h i s own s p i r i t u a l experience . . . , 1 , 1 and c e r t a i n l y t h i s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c i s common t o a l l three of these c r i t i c s . T h e i r c r i t i c i s m i s e s s e n t i a l l y a r e c r e a t i o n of t h e i r response t o , t h e i r impression of , works of l i t e r a t u r e . They experience the power of Shakespeare, of M i l t o n , of Wordsworth, and then attempt t o recreate i t i n t h e i r own words. A l l of them f o l l o w the same path as H a z l i t t i n t h e i r c r i t i c i s m : I say what I t h i n k : I t h i n k what 1 f e e l . I cannot help r e c e i v i n g c e r t a i n impressions from t h i n g s ; and I have s u f f i c i e n t courage to d e c l a r e . . . what they are.2 Wordsworth and Coleridge recognized that the b a s i s of c r i t i c a l j u d g -ment must be the r e a d e r ' s ovai response, but they recognized also that the p u r e l y personal estimate was not enough i n any man vftxo p r e -tended to the status of a c r i t i c . They both stressed that the c r i t i c who intends to sway h i s f e l l o w ' s judgment must - i f he i s to perform h i s task p r o p e r l y - r i s e above the prejudices and associat ions of person, c l a s s , n a t i o n , and creed, and stand i n the l i g h t of poetry as a man, simple and n a t u r a l , but possessed of the knowledge, the s e n s i t i v i t y , the i m p a r t i a l i t y , i n s h o r t , the t a s t e , necessary to accept poetry as i t i s , not as he, as a. rea.der, may wish i t to be. 1 The Romantic Theory of Poetry, p . 5. 2 "A View of the E n g l i s h Stage," Preface, (1818), i n P. P. Howe, e d . , The Complete Works of Wil l iam H a z l i t t , London, J . M. Dent & Sons, 1930-1934, v o l . 5, p . 175. -59-The men to whom we now turn accept the i r personal impressions alone as sure guides, and depend almost wholly upon them. For Charles Lamb, the f i r s t of the three, poetry i s an emotional a c t i v i t y in which " . . . passion i s the a l l i n a l l . . . . ''x Poetry exists to be f e l t and enjoyed, and i n order to fe e l and enjoy it a l l that we need Is a l i v e l y s e n s i b i l i t y . C r i t i c a l theories and di c t a are of no real help. The true appreciation of poetry springs from the same human capacity for feeling which Rosamund Gray revealed as she walked with Elinor Clare during Elinor's f i r s t v i s i t to the cottage. . . . the g i r l ' s remarks were suggested, most of them, by the passing scene - and they betrayed, a l l of them, the l i v e l i n e s s of present impulse: - her conversation did not consist i n a comparison of vapid feel i n g , an interchange of sentiment lip-deep - i t had a l l the freshness of young sensation In I t . 2 To feel, to enjoy poetry to the f u l l we must be w i l l i n g to surrender our natures to I t . If we can accept i t s stimulation as Rosamund ac-cepted the stimulation of the world about her we can know the purest of delight. I f we deaden the freshness of our natural responses with critical demands we lose our opportunity to know that delight. In the p i t (of the theatre]} f i r s t begins that accursed c r i t i c s ! faculty, which, making a man the judge of his own pleasures, too often constitutes-him the executioner of his own and others I You may see the jealousy of being unduly pleased, the suspicion of being taken i n to admire; i n short, -Che v i l e c r i t i c a l s p i r i t , creeping and diffusing i t s e l f , and spreading from the wrinkled brows and cloudy eyes of the front row sages and newspaper reporters ( i t s proper residence) - t i l l i t infects and clouds over the 1 Lamb, Charles, Note to "Byron's Tragedy . . . by George Chap-m a i n , " Specimens of English Dramatic Poets, (1808), i n E. V. Lucas, ed., The works of Charles and Mary Lamb, London, Methuen, 1903, v o l . 4, p. 83. 2 Lamb, Rosamund Gray., (1818), In Lucas, op. c i t . , vo l . 1, p. 14, (Chapter 6). thoughtless, vacant countenance, of John B u l l tradesmen, and clerks of counting-houses, who, but for that approxi-mation, would have been contented to have grinned without ru l e , and to have been pleased without asking why.1 To enjoy one's own impression of a poem, a novel, a play, to be pleased without asking why one i s pleased - these are the a c t i v i t i e s of the man who t r u l y appreciates l i t e r a t u r e , and these form the basis of Lamb's whole approach to l i t e r a t u r e * For him the c r i t i c a l faculty i s "accursed," " v i l e , " an infectious disease that spreads over mankind, clouding the clear visi o n of youthful enjoyment, and leaving i t blinded with suspicion, doubt, unsureness* Enjoy the " l i v e l i n e s s of present impulse," he urges; keep the "freshness of young sensation." Only with these natural responses to the world of poetry can we know the healthy exuberance of Chaucer, the intense power and humanity of Shakespeare, the sublimity of Milton. Lamb once wrote of George Wither, "He seems to have passed his l i f e i n one continued act of an innocent self-pleasing."2 His .words are equally applicable to his own l i f e i n the world of l i t e r a t u r e . Although as a man he revealed a very r e a l courage i n his tender care of his s i s t e r , Mary, and a. remarkable strength i n his adjustment to the tragedy which darkened both t h e i r l i v e s , as a lover of l i t e r a t u r e he too "passed his l i f e i n innocent self -pleasing." He was a maja of strong l i k e s and d i s l i k e s i n l i t e r a t u r e , and his c r i t i c i s m consists almost entirely of attempts to express 1 Lamb, "Play-House Memoranda," (1813), i n "Table-Talk i n The Examiner," i n Lucas, op. c i t . , v o l . 1, p. 159. 2 "On the Poetical Works of George Wither," (1818), i n Lucas, op. c i t . , v o l . 1, P. 131. -51-whaf the works he liked meant to him, and to communicate something of his pleasure in them to others. In Rosamund Gray - which, despite its limitations as a narrative, is a rich mine for one who seeks an indication of Lamb's attitude as a critic - he writes of Allan Clare and Rosamund: He would make her admire the scenes he admired - fancy the wild flowers he fancied - watch the clouds he was watching -and not unfrequently repeat to her poetry, which he loved, and make her love It.I Whether he writes of Ford's Broken Heart or a London fog, Shakespeare's Richard IH or old china, a sonnet of Shelley's or an old actor, Lamb reveals the same attitude as Allan Glare: he too seeks to make us admire what he admires, fancy what he fancies, see what he sees, love what he loves. He stands in the thick vapour of a city fog and reta.ins a certain impression of i t : In a well-raix'd Metropolitan Fog there is something substantial, and satisfying - you can feel what you breathe, and see it too. It Is like breathing water, as we may fancy the fishes do. And then the taste of i t , when dashed with a fine season of sea-coal smoke, is far from insipid. It is also meat and drink at the same time: some-thing between egg-flip and omelette soufflee, but much more digestible than either • . • • And it wraps you all round like a cloak, too - a patent water-proof one, which no rain ever penetrated.2 He reads The Broken Heart and finds the last scene of the play over-poweringly impressive: I do not know where to find in any Play a catastrophe so grand, so solemn, and so surprising as this . . . . The 1 Lucas, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 3. (Chapter 4) 2 "London Fogs," (Date unknown), in Lucas, op. cit., vol. 1, p. 351. -62-fortitude of the Spartan Boy who let a beast gnaw out his bowels t i l l he died without expressing a groan, is a faint bodily image of this dilaceration of the spirit and exentera-tion of the inmost mind, which Galantha with a holy violence against her nature keeps closely covered, t i l l the last duties of a Wife and a Queen are fulfilled. Stories of martyrdom exe but of chains and the stake; a little bodily suffering; these torments On the purest spirits prey As on the entrails, joints, and limbs, With answerable pains, but more intense. What a noble thing is the soul in Its strengths and in its weaknesses! who would be less weak than Galantha? who can be so strong? the expression of this transcendent scene al-most bears me in imagination to Calvary and the Cross; and I seem to perceive some analogy between the scenical suffer-ings which I am here contemplating, and the real agonies of that final completion to which I dare no more than hint a reierence.x He attends a performance of Blchard III and rebels against stage per-formances of the play which leave one with a picture of Richard as no more than "A bloody tyrant and a homicide!"2 . . • is . . . this the impression we have in reading the Richard of Shakespeare? Do we feel anything like disgust, as we do at that butcher-like representation of him that passes for him on the stage? A horror at his crimes blends with the effect which we feel, but how is it qualified, how is it carried off, by the rich Intellect which he displays, his resources, his wit, his buoyant spirits, his vast know-ledge and insight into characters, the poetry of his part, -not an atom of all which is made perceivable in Mr. C.'s way of acting i t . Nothing but his crimes, his actions, is visible; they are prominent and staring; the murderer stands out, but where is the lofty genius, the man of vast capacity, - the profound, the witty, accomplished Richard?3 No matter what he considers - be it fog, china, or men, a poem, or a play - Lamb's criticism is always of the same impressionistic, personal 1 Note to "The Broken Heart . . . by John Ford," Specimens of English Dramatic Poets, (1808), In Lucas, op. cit., vol. 4, p. 218. 2 Richard III, 7, i i i , 1. 247. 3 "On the Tragedies of Shakespeare, Considered with Reference to Their Fitness for Stage Representation," (1812), in Lucas, op. cit., vol. 1, pp. 105-106. "Mr. C." is G. F. Cooke, an actor of Lamb's day. -63-sorti he savours his subject until he has sucked out what for him is Its essence, and he then distils that essence into his own words.1 lhat we have in Lamb's criticism is, then, a very personal estimate of works of literature. It is Lamb, the individual man, Lamb, the near-idolater of John Ford, who turns to Calvary for a parallel to Calantha's catastrophe. What we have in such a passage is not an attempt at balanced judgment of the scene -such an attempt would have required the intervention of the vile, s.ccursed critical faculty - but an attempt to communicate all the associations and emotions which entered into Lamb's own delighted impression of that scene. With Lamb we are in the world of the per-sonal estimate. Because his criticism is intensely personal Lamb does not al-ways avoid the pitfalls which Wordsworth and Coleridge warned against. As we shall see, his praise of works he likes Is sometimes excessive, and his criticism is, as he himself admits, often coloured by personal prejudice. Nevertheless, his work does have a very real value, and before we turn to its limitations we should be aware of its merits. Like any honest impressionist, Lamb recognizes that impressions are variable things. My impression of Calantha's death may not be , Lamb's. Even Lamb's own impression of i t , which was one thing in 1808, might well have been something quite different in 1809. He sees, how-ever, that different though every man's immediate impression of a work 1 Elton, 0., A c „ W A y E n g l i s h Literature, 1780-1830, London, Edward Arnold & Co., 1912, vol. 2, p. 354. -64-may be from all others, each of us must try to achieve as rich an impression of any work of art as is possible, and to achieve this we must carefully prepare ourselves for the experience, and judiciously select its time and place. The finest possible painting of a rose would be lost upon us if displayed before a living rose-bush in full bloom. Among the Last Essays of Blia (1833) is one,"Detached Thoughts on Books and Reading," in which Lamb makes this point with considerable effectivenesss Much depends upon when and where you read a book. In the five or six impatient minutes, before the dinner is -quite ready, who would think of talcing up the Fairy Queen for a stop-gap, or a volume of Bishop Andrewss' sermons? Milton almost requires a. solemn service of music to be played before you enter upon him. But he brings his music, to which, who listens, had need bring docile thoughts and purged ears. Winter evenings - the world shut out - with less of ceremony the gentle Shakespeare enters. At such a season, the Tempest, or his own Winter's Tale is fitting reading.1 I once had the unhappy experience of attending a party where the host, at the peak of the evening's noise and gaiety, chose to play a very fine recording of Handel's Messiah. The effect was extremely dis-turbing. The consolation of the "Comfort ye," the tenderness of the foretelling of the Nativity ("And lo. a Virgin shall conceive"), the triumph of the "Hallelujs-h" - all the riches that make the Mes-siah what it is were lost upon us. We were prepared for the light-hearted and frivolous; we could not cope with the sublime. Our thoughts were not docile, nor our ears purged. We listened, but we did not hear. On the other hand, as a boy I spent several summers with an aunt 1 Lucas, op. cit., vol. 2, p. 175. -65-and uncle on a farm in Saskatchewan. There 1 once found among my aunt's books an old copy of the works of Longfellow. I can still remember the delight with which I read Evangeline. Evening after evening I sat with the old book laid before me on the dining-room table, reading by lamplight the sad, sweet story of Evangeline and her lost love. During the past winter I again turned to the poem and found it feeble and sentimental, but because I first discovered it at the right time and in the right ple.ce I could know and appreciate its appeal* Like Wordsworth, Lamb recognizes that we must come to literature prepared. Part of our preparation must be the selection of a time and place conducive to a full appreciation, a full impression of each poem or play we read. When we have prepared ourselves, then - and then only - can we hope to see what the poet wishes us to see. Pro-bably Lamb's greatest value as a practising critic lies in " . . . his unsurpassed power to penetrate Into the mind of the artist and to reveal what he ha.s seen . . . . "x This power of penetration depends partly upon our willingness to prepare for th© act of submission. Coupled with his innate sensitivity, it made Lamb the critic he was5 "'The spirit of the author descended upon him; and he felt i t . ' What he felt he conveyed with exquisite sensitiveness to the reader*"2 We have already seen that Lamb has little regard for abstract critical theories or dicta. For him - not only in his literary criticism, but In bis essays on people and things as well - the concrete object is what matters, the object of which he has his impression. His concern with the play, not with theories of the drama; with the man, not i s 1 Knox, R. S., "Charles Lamb, 1834-1934," University of Toronto Quarterly, vol. 4 (October, 1934), p. 90. 2 Ibid., p. 89. -66-with e t h i c a l concepts. He works . . . ever close t o the concrete, to the d e t a i l s , great or s m a l l , of a c t u a l t i l i n g s , books, persons, and with no part of them blurred to h i s v i s i o n by the i n t e r v e n t i o n of mere abstract t h e o r i e s . . . . -L The path of personal c r i t i c i s m can lead one i n t o e r r o r , but s o , t o o , can the path of judgment based on abstract theory. (We have already seen the f o l l y of c r i t i c i s m l i k e Thomas Rymer's a n a l y s i s of lago.) When the personal c r i t i c keeps to the concrete, however, r e t u r n i n g ever and ever again to the work he i s c o n s i d e r i n g , he does give us the opportunity to f o l l o w him i f we w i s h , and I f n o t , at l e a s t to grasp clea.rly what the work has meant to him. I cannot agree with Lamb's estimate of the catastrophe i n F o r d ' s Broken H e a r t b u t because he deals with the scene f r a n k l y and c o n c r e t e l y , avoiding the temptation t o f a l l back on vague a b s t r a c t i o n s , speaking always In s p e c i f i c terms of what the scene means t o him, I can accept i t as an honest, i n t e r e s t i n g 1 P a t e r , Walter, A p p r e c i a t i o n s , (1889), London, Hacrai l lan, 1918, p. 109. 2 Nor could H a z l i t t who has a very s e n s i b l e comment on the scene i n h i s Lectures on the Dramatic L i t e r a t u r e of the Age of E l i s a b e t h (Lecture I T , "On Beaumont and F l e t c h e r , Ben Jonson, F o r d , and Massinger," i n Howe, op. c i t . , v o l . 6, pp. 272-273): "This i s the true f a l s e gal lop of sentiment: anything more a r t i f i c i a l and mechanical I cannot con-c e i v e . " . . . that she should dance on with the same heroic p e r s e -verance i n s p i t e of the death of her husband, of her f a t h e r , and of everyone e l s e whom she l o v e s , from regard to common courtesy or appearance, i s not surely n a t u r a l . The passions may s i l e n c e the voice of humanity, but i t i s , I t h i n k , equally against p r o b a b i l i t y and decorum to make both the passions and the voice of humanity give way (as i n the example of Calantha) t o a mere form of outward behaviour. 3uch a suppression of the strongest and most uncontroulable f e e l i n g s can only be j u s t i f i e d from n e c e s s i t y , f o r some great purpose, which Is not the case i n F o r d ' s playj or It must be done f o r the effect and eclat of the t h i n g , which i s not f o r t i t u d e but a f f e c t a t i o n , l l r . Lamb In h i s impressive eulogy on t h i s passage In the Broken Heart has f a i l e d (as f a r as I can judge) i n e s t a b l i s h i n g the p a r a l l e l between t h i s u n c a l l e d - f o r e x h i b i t i o n of s t o i c i s m , and the story of the Spartan Boy." -67-expression of Lamb's response to a given work. Here is how Lamb feels about the play, not how theories tell him he should feel, and when the critic is a man of Lamb's sensitivity and taste, knowledge of how he feels about a work is never valueless. There is, however, a very great danger in personal criticism -one which we have already seen Wordsworth and Coleridge stressing -that of allowing prejudice to sway our judgment. Lamb does not al-ways avoid this danger. He himself saw his limitations as a critic: he knew himself to be incapable of wholly impartial judgment. Whatever i s , is to rne a matter of taste or distaste; or when once it becomes Indifferent, it begins to be disre-lishing. I am . . . a bundle of prejudices - made up of likings and disllkings - the veriest thrall to sympathies, apathies, antipathies.1 When Lamb criticizes a work he d O G S S O £13 Lamb, the individual man. We see the work through Lamb's eyes, eyes sometimes obscured by the man's prejudices and preferences. As an impressionist he builds his criticism wholly on his delight in certain works. If his impression of a work is pleasing to him he praises that work; i f it is dis-pleasing he rejects the work. He finds himself so delighted with Southey's Joan of Arc that he writes enthusiastically to Coleridge, " . . . I expect Southey one day to rival Hilton. I already deem him equal to Cowper, and superior to all living Poets besides."2 He finds himself so displeased with John Martin's Belshazzar's Feast that he writes to Bernard Barton rejecting it outright, deriding Martin's 1 "Imperfect Sympathies," Ili a , (1823), in Lucas, op. cit., vol. 2, p. 58. 2 Lamb to S. T. Coleridge, 8-10 June, 1736, in Lucas, op. cit., vol. 6, p. 15. -68-"foolish little prophet," his "taylor-like remarks on the dresses," and his "Doctor Kitchener-like . . , /examination of] the good things at table."1 He criticizes always from his own feeling for a work, his own enjoyment of i t , and into such criticism, as he himself ad-mits, personal sympathies, apathies, antipathies must inevitably enter* Lamb's weaknesses as a critic are those of the pure impres-sionist : He neither intends to be reliable nor pretends to be impartial* He must be read with a caution which comes from understanding him, and from being both able and willing to enter into the game he can play. Since he is truer to his whims than his subject he is not to be taken literally. He must have foreseen that modern dictionaries would define an opinion as a "judgment based on grounds short of proof." At any rate, he does not bother about being infallible. He writes quite frankly and disarmingly from his prejudices.2 If we can accept his criticism in this spirit we can find much in it that is both perceptive and illuminating} i f , however, we look for calm, balanced judgment we may find ourselves badly misled* In Lamb's approach to literature we have an open acceptance of the three basic tenets - all personal - on which Wordsworth and Coleridge erected their theories of poetry and criticisms poetry has its origin in an emotional excitement in the poet; it has its end in the rousing of pleasure in the reader; and he who would judge it must work from his own emotional response. Where Wordsworth and Coleridge, however, 1 Lamb t© Bernard Barton, 11 June, 1827, in Lucas, op. cit.. vol. 7, p. 731. Doctor William Kitchiner was the author of Apicns Redivivusj or. the Cook's Oracle, 1817. (Lamb's spelling of the surname is incorrect.)~ 2 Brown, John Mason, "Lamb as a Critic," Saturday Review of Litera-ture, vol. 31 (July 31, 1948), p. 26. 69-see "fen© need for certain intellectual abilities and powers in the man who assumes the mantle of critic, Lamb believes that all that is necessary is a capacity for fresh sensation and lively emotional res-ponse* H© believes that abstract theories are a hindrance, and asks only that the critic convey frankly what he has felt in the presence of a work, and what pleasure he has derived from i t : in short, that he honestly answer the question, What has been my own impression of it? Whether or not that impression reveals the influence of purely personal prejudices and associations does not greatly concern Lamb, What does concern him is that the impression rise spontaneously and vigorously in the presence of the poem, novel, or painting which the critic is considering* With William Hazlitt we again find an acceptance of Wordsworth's and Coleridge*^ three basic tenets. For him too, "Poetry is the language of the imagination and the passions. It relates to whatever gives immediate pleasure or pain to the human mind."1 It rises out of the heart of the poet, and speaks to the heart of the reader. It achieves its end if it brings the reader a feeling of pleasure* As we have found with Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Lamb, we again find our-selves dealing with a man whose concept of poetry and its criticism is essentially personal. In his theory of the source of poetry Hazlitt draws directly ©n Wordsworth's definition of poetry as . . . the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity: 1 Hazlitt, William, "Lectures on the English Poets," I, (1818), in Howe, op. cit., vol. 5, p. 1. -70-the emotion i s contemplated t i l l , by a species of reaction, the tranquillity gradually disappears, and an ©motion, kin-dred to that which •was before the subject of contemplation i s gradually produced, and does i t s e l f actually exist i n the mind* In this mood successful composition gradually begins, and i n a mood similar to this i t i s carried on • • • • ^ The two essential features of Wordsworth* s definition are i n i t i a l stimulation (the "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings") and subsequent contemplation, and these are equally essential features of Hazlitt*s concept of poetry. Wherever any object takes such a hold of the mind as to make us dwell upon i t , and brood over i t , melting the heart i n tenderness, or kindling i t to a sentiment of enthusiasm} - wherever a movement of imagination or pas-sion i s impressed on the mind, by which i t seeks to pro-long and repeat the emotion, to bring a l l other objects into accord with i t , and to give the same movement of harmony, sustained and continuous, or gradually varied according to the occasion, to the sounds that express i t - this i s poetry.2 Polio-wing Wordsworth, Hazlitt recognizes that poetry springs out of a strong personal reaction to some aspect of l i f e . It i s not a contrived, mechanical thing, but the expression of intense personal feeling, an expression which finds i t s source i n the poet*s heart. Above a l l else a work of poetry must be t h i s , and to achieve such an expression the poet must take care to hold fast to his i n i t i a l f e e l -ing. I f this be not done, the artist may happen to impose on himself by partial reasoning, by a cold consideration of those animated thoughts which proceed, not perhaps from caprice or rashness (as he may afterwards conceit), but from the fulness of his mind, enriched with the copious 1 Preface to Lyrical Ballads, (1800), i n Smith, O P . c i t . , p. 35. 2 Hazlitt, "Lectures on the English Poets," I, (1818), i n Howe, op_. cit.» v o l . 5, p. 12. 71-st ores of all the various inventions •which he had ever seen, or had ever passed in his mind. These ideas are in-fused into his design, without any conscious effort; hut if he "be not on his guard, he may reconsider and correct them, t i l l the whole matter is reduced to a common-place invention.1 What matters in a poem is the poet's feeling. The expression of that feeling makes the work poetry. When we read Keats* sonnet, "On first looking into Chapman's Homer," we are reading a work which offers us Keats* own ©motional response to Chapman*s translation. Chapman's Homer has taken such a hold on Keats* mind as to make him dwell upon i t . He has brooded over the work, found himself roused to a sentiment of enthusiasm. He has savoured his passionate response to Chapman, and has gradually en-riched that response with all that forms his "being as a man. He has ordered this full response of bis being into a verbal expression communicable to the rest of mankind, an expression harmonious, sus-tained, continuous, and varied, in which we too can feel the passions which Keats felt when he first heard " . . . Chapman speak out loud and bold."2 In our consideration of Wordsworth and Coleridge we have already seen what must follow from a recognition of the source of poetry as a personal emotional response. Even as th© poet's reaction to life is personal, so must be the critic's reaction to poetry. Milton's reaction to the persecution of the Waldenses was personal and, there-fore, unique} my reaction to his sonnet will be personal and unique. 1 Reynolds, Sir Joshua, Thirteenth Discourse» quoted by Hazlitt in "On Genius and Common Sense," Table-Talk, Essay IV, (1821), in Howe, op. cit., vol. 8, p. 33. 2 Keats, John, "On first looking into Chapman's Homer," 1. 8. -72-Hazlitt recognizes that criticism must he fundamentally personal since it has its origin in the critic's emotional response to a work, even as poetry has its origin in the poet's emotional response to lifes In art, in taste, in li f e , in speech, you decide from feeling, and mot from reason; that i s , from the impression of a num-ber of things on the mind, which impression is true and well-founded, though you may not be able to analyse or account for it in the several particulars.! Having recognized that criticism must be personal, Hazlitt frankly admits that what he offers in his criticism is but an honest expres-sion of his own responses to art, responses coloured by all that he has been and known: My opinions have been sometimes called singulars they are merely sincere* I say what I think* I think what I feel. I cannot help receiving certain impressions from things} and I have sufficient courage to declare . . . what they are.^ He recognizes and admits that his critical ©pinions must be personal because they are based upon his own impressions of works of art. For Hazlitt all criticism of art must be essentially personal. The man who undertakes to criticize a work of sculpture, painting, music, or literature must depend to a high degree upon his own feel-ing for that work. This feeling will, in turn, depend upon his nature as a man. In criticizing what we might term the tangible arts, however, the critic is not left so completely dependent upon his own nature as he is in criticizing music or literatures Painting gives the object itself; poetry what it implies. 1 Hazlitt, "On Genius and Common Sense," Table-Talk, Essay 17, (1821), in Howe, op. cit., vol. 8, p. 31. 2 "A View of the English Stage," Preface, (1818), in Howe, oj>. cit., vol. 5, p. 175. -73-Painting embodies what a thing contains in itself; poetry suggests what exists out of i t , in any man-ner connected with i t . But this last is the proper province of the imagination.1 In criticizing a painting we have the work, a representation of an actual object, visible before us; in criticizing a poem we have but a mass of suggestive words and phrases in which the poet has implied what a certain thing, or person, or event has meant to him. , ..In his words the poet has sought to suggest all that he connects with his theme. About his theme he has left his imagination free to weave its web. Now for Hazlitt the imagination is an aggregative faculty, a power by which the human mind can gather a mass of associations about any thing, person, or idea. The richness of a poem depends upon the capacity of the poet's imagination as an aggregative power, and, similarly, the richness of our experience of a poem depends upon the capacity ©f our imaginations as aggregative powers. If, however, poetry merely suggests the poet's associa-tions, what exists outside his object, and i f each of us, as readers, has a different body of intellectual, emotional, and spiritual matter ©n which the poet's suggestions can work, the aggregate of each of our imaginative experiences of a poem will be unique. Th© suggestions of Lycidas will react in my being upon a mass of matter quite different from that they will affect in my neighbour's. The aggregate of associations which I build up about Milton's poem will be my own, unlike that of anyone else. Because my nature is my 1 Hazlitt, "Lectures on the English Poets," I, (1818), in Howe, op. cit., vol. 5, p. 10. - 7 4 -own, my e:q?erience of that poem must te my own. As we have seen, both Wordsworth and Coleridge clearly recog-nize that poetry demands a reciprocal interaction between poet and reader. Not only must the poet give his stimulation, but the reader must also give his submission. Each of us, as readers, must be willing to receive the suggestions of a poem and to allow them full freedom to act as they will upon us. Only when we do so can we hope to achieve that "sympathy with the artist's minduX which is necessary i f we are ever really to know a poem. And even when we djfc achieve that sympathy we must remember that although the poem - one agent in the poetic interaction - remains a constant, the reader - the seeond agent - is ever a variable. Hazlitt him-self had a singular ability to become one with a poem: So intimately did . . . (he) feel the spell of a work of genius, that its life-blood was transfused into his own . . . . He entered into the poet's creation with a sympathy amounting almost to poetic vision • • • • 2 but even he was no more than the variable agent in the poetic inter-action. As fully as he could he entered into the spirit of the poet, but, being an individual man, he could not - even if he had wished to -keep his response to poetry wholly free of personal elements. His responses to the poet's suggestions were his own. When he wrote the following lines on Ossian he truly entered into the strange spirit of the Ossianic poems, but he also gave expression to his own intensely personal impression of those poems: As Homer is the first vigour and lustihed, Ossian is the decay and old age of poetry. He lives only in the recol-lection and regret of the past. There is one impression 1 Zeitlin, Hazlitt on Literature, p. xlix. 2 Ibid., p. xlviii. -75-whieh he conveys more entirely than all other poets, namely, the sense of privation, the loss of all things, of friends, of good name, of country - he is even with-out God in the world. He converses only with the spirits of the departed; with the motionless and silent clouds. The cold moonlight sheds its faint lustre on his head; the fox peeps out of the ruined tower; the thistle waves its beard to th© wandering gale; and the strings of his harp seem, as the hand of age, as the tale of other times, passes over them, to sigh and rustle like the dry reeds in the winter's wind! The feeling of cheerless desolation, of the loss of th© pith and sap of existence, of the annihilation of the substance, and the clinging to1 the shadow of all things as in a mock-embrace, is here, perfect • • • . If it were indeed possible to shew that this writer was nothing, it would only be another instance of mutability, another blank made, another void left in the heart, another confirmation of that feeling which makes him s© often complain, "Roll on, ye dark brown years, ye bring no joy on your wing to Ossian."1 For Hazlitt criticism is impressionism* The true critic seeks to communicate as fully and as clearly as possible the impression which a given work has made upon him} he tries to tell his readers what that work has meant to him as a man. "A geniune criticism should, as I take i t , reflect the colours, th© light and shad©, th© soul and body of a work • • • }"2 the critic must consider himself a medium through which the light and shade are filtered and intensified, and the soul and body made increasingly perceptible. We may here object - and with good reason - that such criticism is dangerous in its tendency to leave the average reader with the critics* impressions of works, and seldom with his own. The danger i s , I believe, a real one, but, nevertheless, the man who will study 1 "Lectures on the English Poets," I, (1818), in Howe, op. cat., vol. 5, p. 18. 2 Hazlitt, "On Criticism," Table-Talk, Essay XXII, (1821), in Howe, op. cit., vol. 8, p. 217. 76-eriticism like Hazlitt*s, and then test it against his own response to the original works will often find his experience of those works greatly enriched. It is altogether too easy to dispose of Chaucer's Clerk's Tale as over-long, unnecessarily repetitive, and quite un-believable in its representation of the cruelty of Walter, the sub-missiveness of Grisilde* But read Hazlitt on the tale: • • • the sentiment remains unimpaired and unalterable. It is of that kind 'that heaves no sigh, that sheds no tear;' but it hangs on the beatings of the heart; it is part of the very being; it is as inseparable from it as the breath we draw* It is s t i l l and calm as the face of death. Nothing can touch it in its ethereal purity: tender as the yielding flower, it is fixed as the marble firmament.1 Read Hazlitt, and then turn back to Chaucer* Open the Clerk's Tale at Qrisilde's farewell to her husband: "My lord, ye woot that in my fadres place Ye dide me streepe out of my povre weede, And richely me cladden, of youre grace. To yow broghte I noght elles, out of drede, But feith, and nakedness©, and raaydenhede; And heere agayn your clothyng I restoore, And eek your weddyng ryng, for everemore, "The remenant of youre jueles redy be Inwith youre chambre, dar I saufly sayn. Naked out of my fadres hous," quod she* "I cam, and naked moot I turne agayn."2 Read these lines. Savour the last two until they have made their effect; and then ask, could any tale be too long, repetitive, or un-believable which affects the human heart as does the Clerk's Tale 1 "Lectures on the English Poets," II, (1818), in Howe, op. cit,, vol. 5, p. 30. 2 17 (S), 11. 862-872. -77-here? For utter purity of feeling and expression I know of only two comparable passages in English poetry: Lear's words to Cordelia, Pray, do not mock met I am a very foolish, fond old man, Fourscore and upward, not an hour more or less; And, to deal plainly, I fear I am not in my perfect mind. Methinks I should know you and know this man5 Yet I a® doubtful* for I am mainly ignorant What place this i s , and all the skill I have Remembers not these garments} nor I know not Where I did lodge last night. Do not laugh at me} For, as I am a man, I think this lady to be ray child Cordelia.1 and the departure of Adam and Ive from the Garden of Eden, The world was all before them, where t© choose Their place of rest, and providence their guide. They hand in hand with wandering steps and slow Through Iden took their solitary way.2 In the lines from the Clerk's Tale, as in these from King Lear and Para-dise Lost, we do have "sentiment . . • 'that heaves no sigh, that sheds no tear,"* sentiment "as st i l l and calm as the face of death," senti-ment untouchable "in its ethereal purity: tender as the yielding flower, • • • fixed as the firmament*" Th© critic who can reveal the light and shade, the soul and body of a work as Hazlitt has done with the Clerk's Tale does a real service to literature, and demonstrates that there is a place for impressionism in criticism. Impressionism is , then, th© flesh and spirit of Hazlitt's cri-ticism. However, sensibility to impressions does not form the total equipment of his critic. Hazlitt follows Wordsworth and Coleridge in recognizing the need for taste in the man who assumes the task of 1 Shakespeare, William, King Lear, IV, v i i , 11. 59-70. 2 Milton, John, Paradise Lost, XII, 11. 646-649. -78 judging for the guidance of others, and for Hazlitt, as for Coleridge, taste is a form of intellectual perception. Where there is no conscious apprehension, there can be no conscious pleasure. Wonder at the first sight of works of art may be the effect of ignorance and novelty; but real admiration and permanent delight in them are the growth of taste and knowledge. 'I would not wish to have your eyes,* said a good-natured man to a critic, who was finding fault with a picture, in which the ©ther saw ho blemish. Why so? The idea which prevented him from admiring this inferior production was a higher idea of truth and beauty which was ever present with him, and a continual source of pleasing and lofty contemplations.! Our natural sensitivity as emotional beings will enable us to experience part of the effect of a work of art, but to experience it fully we must call into play our intellectual powers. Sensuous appreciation of art is not enough; we must understand as well. To be dazzled by admiration of the greatest excellence, and of the highest works of genius, is natural to the best capacities, and to the best natures; envy and dul-ness are most apt to detect minute blemishes and unavoidable inequalities, as we see the spots in the sun by having its rays blunted by mist or smoke. It may be asked, then, whether mere extravagance and enthusiasm are proofs of taste? And I answer, no, where they are without reason and knowledge. Mere sensibility is not true taste, but sensibility to real excellence is.2 Hazlitt*s recognition of th© need for taste in the critic is no more than an acceptance of the fact that poetry demands the play of all Man*s faculties i f it is to be fully appreciated. It is rather interesting to conjecture to what extent Coleridge's influence led Hazlitt to make this sensible modification of his concept of criticism as impressionistic. As early as 1803 Coleridge had pointed out -1 Hazlitt, "On the Pleasures of Painting," Table-Talk, Essay H, (1821), in Howe, op. cit., vol. 8, p. 19. 2 Hazlitt, "Thoughts on Taste," (1818-1819), Uncollected Essays, VI, in Howe, op. cit., vol. 17, p. 63. 79-after a heatad argument with Wordsworth and Hazlitt - a great weak-ness in the whole impressionistic attitude towards arts • • • surely, always to look at the superficies of ob-jects for the purpose of taking delight in their beauty, and sympathy with their real or imagined l i f e , is as dele-terious to the health and manhood of intellect as, always to be peering and unravelling contrivance may be to the simplicity of the affection and the grandeur and unity of the imagination.^ When we find Hazlitt, fifteen years later, accepting and stressing the need for reason and knowledge in criticism we can almost hear the echo of Coleridge's words sounding along the dark caverns of the years. Whether or not his recognition of taste as a requirement of the true critic resulted from Coleridge's arguments need not, however, concern us here. What does concern us is that we find Hazlitt, like Wordsworth and Coleridge, suggesting as a check on unlicensed impres-sionism the faculty of taste. The true critic will be " • , , a man of disinterested taste and liberal feeling • . . , n prepared to " • , • see and acknowledge truth and beauty . . . " wherever he finds it,** Given such taste and such feeling, this critic will be able to arrive at a just and sensitive appreciation of a work of art. Many persons see nothing but beauties in a work, others nothing but defects* Those cloy you with sweets, and are 'the very milk of human kindness,' flowing on in a stream of luscious panegyrics} these take delight in poisoning the sources of your satisfaction, and putting you out of conceit with nearly every author that comes in 1 Coleridge, Anizaa Poetae, October 26, 1803, pp. 35-36. 2 Hazlitt, "On Criticism," Table-Talk, Essay XXII, (1821), in Howe, op. cit,, vol. 8, p. 225. -80-their way. Th© first ar© frequently actuated hy personal friendship, the last by all the virulence of party-spirit.! Hazlitt's critic mil reveal the real beauties and communicate his own delight in them, and he will indicate the real defects and communicate his displeasure with them. He will have known the initial stimulation of the work and have savoured i t ; he will have contemplated the work, using all his powers as a feeling and thinking being to enter into the spirit of itj and he will then have conveyed his full impression of i t . . . . the critic reacts on the art he enjoys - reacts mas-culinely, ardently, even wilfully - i f he is Hazlitt j and so produces - if he be Hazlitt. - another work of art, of which the work he reviews is the subject-matter. He is inspired by it as one poet is inspired by another.2 All that we have seen in Hazlitt's theory of poetry and criticism i s , in essence, personal. Poetry rises out of the poet's emotional being; it appeals to the reader's passions; it aims to bring the reader pleasure; its criticism depends upon the reader's impression; and that impression i s , to some degree, controlled by the reader's taste. Hazlitt does recognize, however, one purely objective standard of judgment in his critical theories, that of long-established public opinions . . . we may be sure of this, that when we see nothing but grossness and barbarism, or insipidity and verbiage in a writer that is the God of a nation's idolatry, it is we and not they who want true taste and feeling.3 Homer, Virgil, Dante, Cervantes, Racine, Shakespeare - these are gods 1 Hazlitt, "On Criticism," Table-Talk, Essay XXII, (1821), in Howe, op. cit., vol. 8, p. 220. 2 Elton, op. cit., vol. 2, p. 373. 3 Hazlitt, "On Criticism," Table-Talk, Essay XXII, (1821), in Howe, op. cit., vol. 8, p. 223. •81-of their nations' idolatry, and i f we cannot recognize their worth, we, not they, are at fault. We might accuse Hazlitt here of going contrary to his own teachings: he has constantly stressed the need for a frank acceptance of our own impressions. Nevertheless, his words are sensible. The man who today cannot appreciate Shakespeare will do well to remain silent, for t© declare that for him Othello is not poetry will mark him an insensitive fool, an honest fool per-haps, but a fool nonetheless. We must note one thing, however, about Hazlitt*s recognition of long-established public opinion as a guide to critical judgment. It holds only with men who are the gods of their nations* idolatry, with men like those whom I have suggested. H© does not mean us to accept public recognition as a general standard of judgment. There are today altogether too many writers who have achieved wide recognition which men of discrimination deplore. The "best-seller" achieves great fame, and is widely read and praised, but it very seldom deserves its recog-nition. It too often directs its appeal to the lowest human interests, and the recognition it gains comes from men of little taste, of few standards. Hazlitt is aware of th© fallacy of considering the number of those who like a work a just indication of its value. Apart from his acceptance of general recognition as a guide when we consider the "god of a nation's idolatry," he insists upon sensibility and tast© in those men whose judgment he is willing to consider: To agree with the greatest number of good judges is to be in the rightj and good judges are persons of natural -82-sensibility and acquired knowledge.1 With Thomas De Quinc ey we come to the last of our group of Roman-tic critics. In one very obvious respect he is an admirable figure to consider before we turn to Matthew Arnold: in De Quincey*s critical theories we find both an acceptance of the personal response of the critic as the basis of criticism, and an attempt to determine and state the principles underlying that response. In his work we find criticism fully as impressionistic as that of Lamb, and Hazlitt, combined with a statement of principles - derived primarily from his study of Wordsworth and Coleridge - accounting for the impressions he has derived from works of literature. Like Lamb and Hazlitt in his acceptance of criticism as a communication of the critic's per-sonal impression, like Wordsworth and Coleridge in his attempt to establish the principles of the artistic effects leading to that im-pression, De Quincey stands as a fusion of two major forces in Romantic criticism. We have now seen that Wordsworth, Coleridge, Lamb, and Hazlitt all accept the concept of poetry as "the language of • . . the passions." For all of them poetry is an emotional activity, one in which the heart is dominant over the mind, the capacity to feel over the capacity to reason. For De Quincey, too, poetry finds its source in the heart of man: it is . . . the science of human passion in all its fluxes and refluxes - in its wondrous depths below depths, and its 1 Hazlitt, "Thoughts on Taste," (1818-1819), Uncollected Essays, VI in Howe, op. cit., vol. 17, p. 65. 2 Hazlitt, "Lectures on the English Poets," I , (1818), in Howe, op. cit., vol. 5, p. 1. •83-starry altitudes that ascenied to the heavens.x In the very greatest works of literature the passions -will he those of mighty men engaged in mighty conflicts, Man and the elements, Man and Man, Man and God5 in lesser works the passions will be those of lesser men in the lesser conflicts of Man and society; but in all poetry the passions of mankind are dominant. . . . in the earliest stages of literature, men deal with the great elementary grandeurs of passion, of conscience, of the will in self-conflict; they deal with the capital struggle of the human race in raising empires, or in over-throwing them - in vindicating their religion (as by cru-sades) , or with the more mysterious struggles against spi-ritual races allied to ©ur own, that have been dimly re-vealed to us. We then have an Iliad, a Jerusalem Delivered, a Paradise Lost. These great subjects exhausted, or ex-hausted in their more inviting manifestations, inevitably by the mere endless motion of society, there succeeds a lower key of passion. Expanding social intercourse in towns, multiplied and crowded more and more, banishes those gloomier end grander phases of human history from litera-ture. The understanding is quickened; the lower faculties of the mind - fancy, and the habit of minute distinction, are applied to the contemplation of society and manners. Passion begins to wheel in lower flights, and to combine itself with interests that in part are addressed to the in-sulated understanding - observing, refining, reflecting. This may be called the minor key of literature in opposition to the major, as cultivated by Shakespeare, Spenser, Milton.2 whether we stand with Hector and Andromache at the Scaian Gates of Troy, with Lear and his Fool on the heaths of England, with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, with Belinda and the Baron at Hampton Court, or with Tarn and Souter Johnny in the tavern at Ayr - wherever we find ourselves in the world of poetry there we find the passions, the heart of man. In 1 "Recollections of Hannah More," in David Mas son, ed., The Col-lected Writings of Thomas De Quineey, Edinburgh, Adam and Charles Black, 1890, vol. 14, p. 117. 2 De Quineey, "The Poetry of Pope," (1848), in Masson, op. cit., vol. 11, pp. 60-61. -84-elevation and intensity these passions -will vary from poem to poem, hut they are the essence of all poetry. In his recognition of the emotional nature oi" poetry De Quincey stands in direct line with Wordsworth, Coleridge, Lamb, and Hazlitt, and all that we have said of the inevitable effect of such recognition on one's critical approach holds for De Quincey as it did for the others. Poetry springs out of the poet's emotional being and addresses the reader's. To the extent that each of us is a unique emotional being, each of us will experience a unique response to a poem. When he comes to consider the end of poetry, however, De Quincey differs somewhat from the others, although, as we shall see, the dif-ference is probably not so great as De Quincey himself believes. In his Preface to the Lyrical Ballads (1800) Wordsworth had stated his belief that the end of poetry was not knowledge, but pleasure. This belief, as we have seen, was accepted by Coleridge, Lamb, and Hazlitts for all of them the end of poetry was pleasure, pleasure of the most intense, elevated, satisfying sort. As a necessary preliminary to the experiencing of this pleasure Wordsworth saw that the reader of taste will actively participate in the poetic activity. He will exert a co-operating power within himself in order to unite with and share in the greater power of the poet. Sven as the poet will have exerted his every faculty as a man in the creation of his poem, so must the reader exert his every faculty to appreciate the poem. Neither can perform his function in the poetic activity while reclining on the bed of slothful ease. From the interaction of the two actively exerted powers will result the reader's feeling of pure delight which Wordsworth •85' held to he the end of poetry. For Wordsworth the power of the poet and the power of the reader are complementary, reciprocal aids to the achieving of that delight. In De Quincey we find an unwillingness to accept pleasure as the end of poetry. As we shall see when we come to consider his law of the idem in alio, he does recognize that part of the effect of poetry lies in the pleasure which it brings, but he rejects as degrading the belief that pleasure is the true end of poetry. In its place he offers power. Now where Wordsworth sees power as a means to an end, De Quincey sees it as the end itself. Accepting knowledge aB the end of all writing which does not seek to move, he offers power as the end of poetry: The true antithesis t© knowledge . . . is not pleasure« but power. All that is literature seeks to communicate powerj all that is not literature, to communicate knowledge. Now, if it be asked what is meant by comaunicating power, I, in my turn, would ask by ufoat name a man would designate the case in which I should be made to feel vividly, and with a vital consciousness, emotions which ordinary life rarely or never supplies occasions for exciting, and which had previously lain unawakened, and hardly within the dawn of consciousness as myriads of modes of feeling are at this moment in every human mind for want of a poet to organize them? I say, when these inert and sleeping forms are organized, when these pos-sibilities are actualized, is this consciousness and living possession of mine power, or what is it?l And to illustrate his point he asks, When, in King Lear, the height, and depth, and breadth, of human passion is revealed to us, and, for the purposes of a sublime antagonism, is revealed in the weakness of an old man's nature, and in one night two worlds of storm are brought face to face - the human world, and the world of physical nature - mirrors of each other, semi-choral antiphonios, strophe and antistrophe heaving with rival convulsions, and 1 "Letters to a Young Han Whose Education Has Been Neglected," Letter III, (1823), in Masson, OP. cit., vol. 10, p. 48. -86-with the double darkness of night and madness, - when I am thus suddenly startled into a feeling of the infinity of the world within me, is this power, or what may I call i t ?1 Now what De Quineey says of King Lear is certainly true. Any-one who has experienced the effect of that play will grasp the very Tightness of De Quineey's impression, will know that the mighty tragedy of the work does leave one's being in a state in which "inert and sleeping forms are organized, . . . possibilities are actualized," and the entire man is left with a "consciousness and living possession of • . • power." However, when De Quineey rebels against accepting pleasure as the end of poetry is he doing any more than halting the poetic process one step earlier than Wordsworth? Wordsworth recog-nizes that the experience of power is a considerable element in the poetic action, but he goes one step beyond power and sees the end of poetry as the elevated pleasure which spreads through the human being with the acquisition of this power; De Quineey stops with power. Whether or not we agree with De Quineey depends to a great degree upon whether or not we hold pleasure to be a degrading end for poetry. 1 "Letters to a Young Man Whose Education Has Been Neglected," Letter 111,(1823), in Masson, op. cit., vol. 10, p. 49. De Quineey appears to have fluctuated between two levels in his concept of power. At times he has no more in mind than the capacity of poetry to move us as all true poetry does, be it lyric, satire, epic, or tragedy. At other times, however, he conceives of power as something higher than the mere rousing of emotions, and offers us - as he does here - a con-cept identical with Longinus1 sublime. When he speaks here of the " . . . feeling of the infinity of the world within me, . . . this power," he is speaking in almost the very words which Longinus uses to describe the effect of transport which the sublime in literature can have upon uss " . . . the influences of the sublime bring power and irresistible might to bear, and reign supreme over every hearer." (On the Sublime, I, 4, p. 43) He is not at all clear whether he means by literature of power works of sublimity, or merely all works which move. •87-From our analysis of the critical theories of Wordsworth and Coleridge we have seen that they conceive of poetry as the most exalted activity of man. The poet is . . . the rock of defence for human naturej an upholder and preserver, carrying with him relationship and love. In spite of difference of soil and climate, of language and manners, of laws and customs, in spite of things silently gone out of mind, and things violently destroyed} the Poet binds together by passion and knowledge the vast empire of human society, as it is spread over the whole earth, and over all time.1 It is a common characteristic of Romantic critics to hold the poet in high esteem as a great man enriching the lives of his fellows. It is evident that the theory of literature as power is one variant of a basic conception which informs the ideas of all the romantic critics and philosophers, and which may be named the romantic theory of art or of poetry. This conception is one of the high role of the poet as philosopher, priest, or prophet, and of poetry itself as having the practical power of enlarging and ennobling the being of man and the power of conmunicating knowledge of spiritual reality.2 Here is a noble conception, one well grounded in actual fact. like De Quineey,we find it repugnant to accept the end of such man* s work as pleasure we can do as he does and accept it as power, an apparently more elevated end. If, however, like Wordsworth, Coleridge, Lamb, and Hazlitt, we can accept its end as pleasure we shall, I believe, be merely recognizing that following upon the acquisition of the sense of power comes the keen, elevated pleasure which great poetry can bring to the receptive being, a pleasure not 1 Wordsworth, Preface to Lyrical Ballads, (1800), in Smith, op_. cit., pp. 27-28. 2 Proctor, Sigmund Kluss, Thomas De Quineey's Theory of Litera-ture, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press, 1943, p. 139. -88-blind or unthinking, not cheap or vulgar,1 but pure, ennobling, enriching. In any case, the end which De Quincey sees for poetry is fully as personal as that which the other four men see. The sense of power which poetry brings us is the result of a stimulation and co-ordination of our latent passions. The function of poetry - or literature of power -is simply to move, and it appeals primarily not to the dry, cold in-tellect, but to the warm hearts of living mens . . . it does and must operate, else it ceases to be a literature of power,on and through that humid light which clothes itself in the mists and guttering iris of human passions, desires, and genial emotions.2 Since the passions, desires, and genial emotions will be those of in-dividual men, so will the sense of power vary with each recipient. The effect of a poem will differ with each reader. In every man who reads Paradise Lost there will be a common resultant sense of power, but that sense of power will vary in nature as each man varies from all otherss . . . what you owe [to the poemj, is power, that is, exercise and expansion to your own latent capacity of sympathy with the infinite, where every pulse and each separate influx is a step upwards - a step ascending as upon a Jacob's ladder from earth to mysterious altitudes above the ladder. All the steps of knowledge, from first to last, carry you further on the same plane, but could never raise you one foot above your ancient level of earths whereas the very first step in power is a flight -is an ascending movement into another element where earth is forgotten.3 1 Wordsworth, "Letter to John Wilson (Christopher North)," (1800), in Smith, op. cit., p. 3. 2 De Quincey, "The Poetry of Pope," (1848), in Masson, op. cit., vol. 11, p. 55. -89-Like Wordsworth's pleasure, De Quincey's power is a personal response, depending for its nature upon the reader's own "latent capacity of sympathy with what the poet has to offer. Those emotions or feelingsthe conscious possession of which is power • . • are revelations or intuitions of "the infinity of the world within me" - the full range of human passions and values . . . . In short, they are in-tuitions of the sublime. The feelings are latent in the minds of al l ; literature's function is to actualize them.1 For De Quincey, then, the end of poetry is power, a revelation or intuition of the sublimity of the soul of man. This revelation is accomplished by means of an intense stimulation of man's emotional being. In the last scene of Marlowe's Faustus we see Faustus in the ultimate agony of Man. Damned to perpetual torment because of his unholy pact with evil, he stands on the very brink of Hell. One hour remains to him. All in the soul of man that craves peace after the tumult of l i f e , absolution from the binding cerements of sin, the light of Heaven after the darkness of mortality, cries out in the being of this unhappy man. Sinful and knowing that he is sinful, weak and knowing his weakness, he tries desperately to find the re-fuge of the Cross* The stars move s t i l l , time runs, the clock will strike, The Devil will come, and Faustus must be damned. OJ I'll leap up to my God! Who pulls me down? See, see where Christ's blood streams in the firma-ment! One drop would save my soul - half a drops ah, my Christ 12 But with the naming of Christ the torments of Lucifer seize upon him. 1 Proctor, op. cit., p. 127 2 Scene XIV, 11. 67-70. -90' He prays Lucifer to spare him* The torments cease, but now comes a terrifying vision of the wrathful Gods . . . see where God Stretcheth out his arm, and bends his ireful brows. Mountain and hills come, come and fall on me, And hide me from the heavy wrath of God.l In utter fear he searches for the hiding place that is not, the hiding place from God. Desperately he suggests a terrible bargains Let Faustus live in hell a thousand years -A hundred thousand, and at last be saved!2 - But even as he suggests it he realizes that " . . . no end is limited to damned souls."3 The clock strikes. The hour is ended. The f u l l , inconceivable agony of damnation rises in him, and with the cry of the soul in ultimate terror before the God it has defied - "My God! my God! look not so fierce on me!"4, - Faustus descends into the world of the lost. In such a scene as this we find an intense stimulation of our emotions. Through this stimulation the poet reveals for us the in-finity, the sublimity which lies within us. This,for De Quineey, this sense of revealed power, is the end of poetry. Before we can fully experience the power of poetry, however, we must be prepared to participate actively in i t . We have seen that Wordsworth and Coleridge stress the need for submission to the poet, and submersion in the poem. De. Quineey fully agrees. To know the 1 Doctor Faustus, 11. 74-77. 2 Ibid., 11. 93-94. 3 Ibid., 1. 95. 4 Ibid., 1. 111. -91' power of Marlowe's Faustus the reader must seek to see " . . . every-thing from the inner point of view of the artist."1 What we take from that play will depend to a high degree upon what we bring to i t . All that we have been will enter into our response. Speaking of a work of music De Quincey writes in his Confessions; . . . it is sufficient to say that a chorus . . . of elaborate harmony displayed before me, as in a piece of arras-work, the whole of my past life - not as if recalled by an act of memory, but as if present and incarnated in the music; no longer painful to dwell upon, but the de-tail of its incidents removed, or blended in some hazy abstraction, and its passions exalted, spiritualised, and sublimed.2 De Quincey here reveals fully the Intensely personal nature of his approach to art. In the work which we experience we find our beings as men "present and incarnated." Because De Quincey's being is a different entity from mine his experience of Marlowe's Faustus will be a different experience from mine. His criticism of it will, there-fore, also be different from mine. Each will reflect a personal res-ponse. If we accept De Quincey's view of the function of the critic, each criticism will be " . . . a vessel for the power called forth and communicated."^  Each will be an expression of the critic's own impres-sion. We have already observed that such a concept of criticism has the value of sincerity, and - in the case of such critics as Lamb, Hazlitt, and De Quincey - the value of being an expression of the feelings 1 Elton, op. cit., vol. 2, p. 313. 2 Confessions of an English Opium-Bater, (1856), in Hasson, op. cit., vol. 3, p. 391. 3 Darbishire, H., ed., De Quincey's Literary Criticism, Introduction, London, H. Frowde, 1909, p. 26. -92 of men of sensibility and taste. It has in it also, however, the seeds of anarchy. Writing of De Quineey*s pride in his early re-cognition of Wordsworth's genius, John Fowler makes a very sensible comment on criticism which builds wholly upon the critic's personal impression. "Was I then, in July, 1802, really quoting from Wordsworth? Yes, readerj and I only in all Europe." I confess that I have long suspected De Quineey of some exaggeration, though probably unintentional exaggeration, in this matter. He has the not altogether singular tendency to view himself as the centre ©f any subject he has under contemplation. In The Vision of Sudden Death, for example, the central point of the tragedy is De Quineey's personal inability to rouse him-self to avert the catastrophe. So he cannot view the question of Wordsworth's recognition by the world objectively; he must place himself at the central point in the situation. In this manner of approaching literary criticism De Quineey has many descendants at the present day. The manner has indeed become conscious of itself and pleased with itself: we have critics who seriously maintain that the sole business of criticism is to put before us a personal impression, a personal point of view.l As we have earlier observed, the danger is that such personal impressions as these, springing as they do from a personal point of view, may re-flect more of the nature of the critic than of the nature of the work. In his essay "On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth," for example, De Quineey . . . recreates the expression of the passage by identify-ing it with living feelings of his own. But because he con-siders a poem for the feelings to which it gives rise and not for the expression, he is apt to foist upon the poetic pas-sage feelings which it suggests in him through peculiarities of his own character and circumstance.2 As we shall see, we have in "On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth" 1 De quineey as Literary Critic, Oxford University Press, 1922, 2 Powell, op. cit., p. 180. the very sort of criticism against which Matthew Arnold was to rebel, and which was to lead to Oscar Wilde's frank declaration that the critic was but another artist creating new works of art out of his experience of old works. In his criticism, however, De Quincey does attempt more than the mere communication of impressions. He was a man of deep feeling, but he was also a man of keen intellect, and, like Coleridge, he was not satisfied with a mere acceptance of the impressions of poetry. Working from those impressions he sought to determine the principles underlying them. He recognized that the effects of all great poetry have some common characteristics, and he attempted to abstract from those common characteristics,the principles of artistic effect. Throughout his work we find two forces in operation, a " . . . constancy in believing in an impression for which he cannot account, combined with the restless desire to find a reason for the faith that is in him . , , . ,,A Only three of De Quincey's principles - or "laws" - need concern us here. These are the law of the idem in alio, the law of antagonism, and the law of ebb and flow. The first of these, the law of the idem in alio, i s , for De Quincey, the basic principle of all the fine arts: In all alike, more or less directly, the object is to re-produce in the mind some great effect, through the agency of the idem in alio. The idem, the same impression, is to be restored; but in alio, in a different material, - by means of some different instrument,2 The effect of any work of art springs from the fact that it offers what 1 Darbishire, op. cit., p, 11, 2 De Quincey, "The Antigone of Sophocles," (1846), in Masson, op. cit., vol. 10, p. 368. -94-Coleridge terms "sameness, -with difference."-1 Waxwork is not art because it offers but a " . . . mechanic imitation, some imitation founded in the very fact;"2 w© do not find ourselves under the spell of artistic illusion, but merely disturbed by the delusion that we are looking upon life where life should not be. Art extracts the essence from life and offers us that essence in a purified form through a medium far removed from the actual world. The stage, the canvas, the orchestra, the sculptor's marble - these are not life; these are not the idem, the actual objects of the natural world; they are the alio, the different material through which we perceive the essence of life. They are not the actual fact; they are an instrument to reveal the reality behind the fact. Through them we can perceive the reality because they are far removed from the accidentals which in life enshroud and conceal that reality. . . . a sculptor will draw tears from you, by exhibit-ing, in pure statuary marble, on a sepulchral monument, two young children with their little heads on a pillow, sleeping in each other's arms; whereas, if he had pre-sented them in waxwork, which yet is far more like to flesh, you would have felt little more pathos in the scene than if they had been shown baked in gilt ginger-bread. He has expressed the idem, the identical thing expressed in the real children; the sleep that masks death, the rest, the peace, the purity, the innocence; but in alio, in a substance the most different; rigid, non-elastic, and as unlike to flesh, if tried by touch, or eye, or by experience of l i f e , as can well be imagined.3 From the operation of the principle of the idem in alio in art we 1 Biographia, vol. 2, p. 12. (Chapter 14) 2 De Quineey, "The Antigone of Sophocles," (1846), in Masson, op. cit., vol. 10, p. 369. 3 Loc. cit. -95-experience at least three distinguishable effects which enter into our impression of any successful work. The first of these is a " • . . sense of pleasure in the mere perception of idem in alio, or similitude in dissimilitude * • . $wX the second, " • . . the pleasure of admiring the beauty of workmanship involved in re-producing a given effect in a different material - the beauty of resistance overcome • . . :"2 and the third, for De Quincey far the most important, " . . . s great effect£power_/, • . • achieved by - means of idealizing the subject through the selection of a suitable material or method."3 The second of De Quincey's great laws, that of antagonism, is very close in nature to his idem in alio. In the idem in alio we find a reconciliation of the matter of life with the medium of art, and in the law of antagonism we find a reconciliation of conflicting matters in the one entity. We have already seen that for De Quincey much of the effect of King Lear comes from that "sublime antagonism" in which " . . . the height, and depth, and breadth, of human passion is revealed to us . . . i n the weakness of an old man's nature . . . "* Mighty passions in a feeble vessel - here is the anta-gonism of art. Again, in Wordsworth's "We are seven," he finds the blackness of Death heightened by its essential antagonism to the light 1 Proctor, op. cit., p. 100. 2 Loc. cit. 3 Ibid., pp. 100-101. 4- De Quincey, "Letters to a Young Man Whose Education Has Been Neglected," Letter III, (1823), in Masson, op, cit., vol. 10, p. 49. -96-of a little child's innocences In the poem of We are Seven* which brings into day for the first time a profound fact in the abysses of human nature -viz* that the mind of an infant cannot comprehend the ab-original darkness' . . . - the little mountaineer who fur-nishes the text for this lovely strain, she whose fulness of life could not brook the gloomy faith in a grave, is yet (for the effect upon the reader), brought into connexion with the reflex shadows of the graves and if she herself has not, the reader has, and through this very child, the gloom of that contemplation obliquely irradiated, as raised in relief upon his imagination, even by her. That same in-fant, which subjectively could not tolerate death, being by the reader contemplated objectively, flashes upon us the tenderest images of death. Death and its sunny antipole are forced into connexion.1 Through this meeting of one force with its antithesis the poet in-tensifies our awareness of both. He achieves a more vivid effect upon his audience* The third of De Quineey* s laws is that of ebb and flows In all poetic enthusiasm, however grand and sweeping may be its compass, so long as it is healthy and natural, there is a principle of self-restoration in the opposite directionj there is a counter-state of repose, a com-pensatory state, as in the tides of the sea, which tends continually to re-establish the equipoise* The lull is no less intense than the fury of commotion.2 Ho matter how powerful the passions of a poem may be, no matter how intense their effect upon a reader, there is inevitably - in great poetry - a final impression of tranquillity. The Iliad builds up from Achilles* initial wrath to the mighty drama of his battle with Hector, but comes to a quiet close with Hector's funeral rites; 1 "On Wordsworth's Poetry," (1845), in Masson, op. cit., vol. 11, pp. 301-302. Italics in 1. 7 mine. 2 De Quineey, "Notes on Oilfillan's Literary Portraitss Keats," (1846), in Masson, op. cit., vol. 11, p. 379. 97-Paradise Lost traces the fall of the angels, and Man*s temptation by Satan, but ends with the tranquil though poignantly moving departure of Adam and Eve from Eden; Doctor Faustus reveals the agony of the damned soul, but ends with the calm wisdom of the Chorusj all great works of art leave us in a state of repose in which mighty conflicts are resolved, and the spirit is left with " • • . calm of mind all passion spent."1 Now all three of these laws - sound as, I believe, they are -have one feature in common, one which again reveals the very per-sonal nature of De Quincey*s criticism. They are not laws which can be applied from without. All are derived from De Quincey's own impressions of poetry. All seek to explain the personal ef-fects of poetry* pleasure and power in the case of the idem in alio, intensification of awareness in th© law of antagonism, excitement and repose in the law of ebb and flow. In De Quincey's laws we do not find objective standards of criticism, but an analysis of the personal effects of poetry. De Quincey's criticism, then, offers the highly personal im-pressionism of Lamb and Hazlitt, coupled with an attempt to determine th© basis of his impressions. His " . . . main interest, like Coleridge's, lay In the analysis and the passionate experience of "states of mind.'"2 Throughout his work we find him trying to tell us what poetry means to him, trying " . . . to gauge the 1 Milton, John, Samson Agonistes, 1. 1758. 2 Powell, op. cit., p. 164. -98-significance . . . 1,1 for him of individual poems J . . . the value of this criticism was . . . that it sug-gested unfathomable depths in a wide ocean of genius -a sea on which we could set sail in our own tiny barques of criticism and plunge in the net, confident that we should draw up some spoil worth the having though we should never exhaust the riches of the unharvested deep.2 In his criticism, however, we see poetry as De Quineey sees its we sail his ocean in his barque, we plunge in his net, and draw up his riches. We have now analyzed the personal basis of Romantic criticism as established by Wordsworth and Coleridge. We have hurriedly sur-veyed the highly personal critical theories developed by the three impressionists, Lamb, Hazlitt, and De Quineey, and seen the develop-ment of a critical attitude which stresses above all else the per-sonal response of the individual critic. We have seen the rise of a school of criticism which denies the value of tests of judgment drawn from outside the nature of him who experiences the effects of art. Now, with Matthew Arnold, we are to see a reaction against much of this attitude and an attempt to restore some sort of objective stan-dard to criticism. 1 Fowler, op. cit., p. 8. 2 Loc. cit. IV Th© Attempt of Matthew Arnold to Restore Objective Standards to Criticism In the introduction to his selection of Hazlitt'a essays, Hazlitt on Literature? Jacdb Zeitlin - who has a real appreciation of the value of Hazlitt*s criticism - makes a very sensible observation on the Inherent weakness of impressionistic criticism as a wholes The impressionist's aim is to record whatever impinges on his brain, and though with a writer of fin© discernment it is sure to be productive of exquisite results, as criticism it is undermined by the impressionist's assumption that every appreciation is mad© valid by the very fact of its existence.1 We have now seen enough of the critical work of Lamb, Hazlitt, and De Quincey to appreciate the justice of Zeitlin's comment* We have seen all these men offering as criticism their own impressions of works of literature, impressions rich and often illuminating, but nonetheless intensely personal. We have seen, too, that the only justification for our accepting these impressions as criticism is that they reveal to us the effect which great art can have on a sensitive spirit. Accepting art - as these men do - as an emotional activity, we can test our own emotional responses to it against those of men like Lamb, Hazlitt, and De Quincey* If we find in The Broken Heart the spiritual nobility which Lamb feels, or in The Clerk's Tale the purity of sentiment which Hazlitt experiences, or in King Lear the 1 p* xli* -100' "sublime antagonism" which De Quineey detects, we can claim a certain justification for our response to the work: we feel about that work as a man of great sensitivity and taste has felt. Every student has, at one time or another, known the private satisfaction of finding his response to a work of art sanctioned by a chance remark revealing that a teacher he respects has responded in a similar way. Every student, too, has known the illumination which a perceptive teacher can bring to a work which has hitherto had little effect upon him. That such sanction and such illumination can be very valuable is obvious, but we must be aware that all that the student does In the one case is find a similarity in two personal responses, and in the other (fre-quently, although not always) accept one man's response as his own. Much impressionistic criticism is valuable only in the same way. It sanctions our own emotional responses to art, or it offers us another man's highly emotional response which appeals to our own hearts much as poetry itself appeals. Its function is to move, not to teach: its object to sug-gest and not define . . . . It substitutes heightened colouring for clean outline; and its emotional appeal tends to count for more than its intellectual content.1 At its best, impressionistic criticism can have a real value. He who reads De Quineey's "On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth" may well find - as I have myself - that the original scene in the play takes on a new power and significance. The impressionistic critic often has an admirable ability to reveal hidden depths in literature: 1 Darbishire, De Quineey's Literary Criticism, Introduction, p. 28. -101-H© concentrates upon his feeling, "passes it through a prism and radiates it into distinct elements." By bring-ing the dim impression into the full light of conscious-ness he makes his reader experience more fully and dis-tinctly the effect of a poem, gives to him something of his own power of imaginative reconstruction.1 We must not under-rate such criticism. It is valuable. We must, however, recognize that it has serious limitations. The impressionist concentrates upon his feeling. His criticism is bound up within his own emotional self. The world in general and the human intellect are subordinated to self and feeling. If criticism be no more than an expression of one man's feelings while journeying through the world of art, such subordination is essential. If, however, it is more than this, i f we can rightly expect of it a calm, balanced estimate of the value of works of art for all mankind, this subordination is an ever-present danger; To reason from (one's Jfeelings does not conduce to , , , hard clarity of thought • • » 3 it is a process that en-courages, rather, a warm clamminess of the mental integu-ment inimical to straight thinking.2 Wordsworth and Coleridge saw the danger inherent in their concept of poetry and criticism, and they sought to guard against i t . They stressed that the critic must be a man of taste, a man of knowledge, judgment, and impartiality, a man capable of rising above the level of self to the level of man. The impressionists who followed them, however, took as their credo Hazlitt's "I say wha.t I think: I think what I feel,"3 The result was that criticism became a form of art, 1 Powell, The Romantic Theory of Poetry, p. 177. 2 Ward, A. C, The Frolic and the Gentle, London, Methuen & Co., Ltd., 1934, p. 213. 3 "A Yiew of the English Stage," Preface, (1818), in Howe, o£. cit., vol. 5, p. 175. -102-an expression of one man's emotional response to an aspect of life. When Lamb eulogizes the catastrophe in The Broken Heart he is writing as a poet, and he " • . . not only limits himself to the creation of •what is at best minor poetry: he expressly negates the existence of the very field in which he is xirorking.1,1 Instead of bringing us closer to a clear perception of The Broken Heart as it really i s , he introduces the colouring of his own vision into our perception. We are now kept from a true perception of Ford's play, not only by our own limitations, but also by Lamb's persuasive poem on the play. If criticism were nothing but poetry based on poetry, we should find ourselves moving ever further and further from a just appreciation of the great works of poetry. But the task of criticism is surely, above all else, to bring us closer to such an appreciation, and to the degree that the impressionist fails in this task he does "negate the existence of the very field in which he is working." For Matthew Arnold the Romantic concept of criticism as impres-sionism was inadequate. He saw that the end of criticism must be " . . . to see the object as in itself it really is,"2 and he saw, too, that the impressionistic critic substituted for this an end which could be quite different: to communicate what he saw - or thought he saw - in the object. For Arnold such an attitude towards criticism was but one more manifestation of the weakness which he believed pervaded the whole of English life in the first quarter of 1 McKenzie, Gordon, Organic Unity in Coleridge, University of California Press, 1939, p. 2. 2 Arnold, Matthew, "On Translating Homer," Lecture II, (1861), in Essays by Matthew Arnold, Oxford University Press, 1914, p. 285. -103' the nineteenth century, a weakness resulting from the French Revolu-tion. That revolution had derived its power from " . . . the force, truth, and universality of the ideas which it took for its law • • . • "x It had within it the seeds of an "epoch of expansion,"2 a period of "fresh thought, intelligent and alive."3 Had it remained a movement in the world of ideas it might well have borne fruit in the form of " . . . a current of ideas in the highest degree animating and nourishing to the creative power England - and all Europe -might have known a period comparable to that of Sophocles' Athens, and Shakespeare's England. As it happened, however, the Revolution turned to practical political ends, and sought to impose its ideas forcibly upon all men. The result was that an opposition developed to the Re-volution. Because men could not assent to the imposition of its ideas from without they barricaded themselves against i t . They fought it not only on the battlefields of Europe., but also in their own minds. They refused to admit its ideas into their thinking. About their minds they established a cordon sanitaire. They turned into themselves for the mat-ter of their thought, and in place of a " . • . free play of the mind upon all subjects . . . "5 they settled on an intensely introspective study of self. Nowhere did this study reveal itself more clearly than 1 Arnold, Matthew, "The Function of Criticism at the Present Time," Essays in Criticism, First Series, (1865), London, Macraillan & Co., 1902, p. 11. 2 Ibid., p. 17. 3 Ibid., p. 8. 4 Loc. cit. 5 Ibid., p. 16. -104-in th© literature of the period, much of which was devoted to self-revelation. In poetry Byron and Shelley laid their hearts hare to the gaze of a l l , and In prose Hazlitt and De Quincey indulged them-selves in the luxury of confession in the Liber Amoris and The Con-fessions of an English Opium-Eater. In literary criticism the men whom we have considered in the last chapter offered their hearts as sounding-boards on which to test poetry, and in doing so they reduced criticism to self-revelation. For them criticism was a far more limited activity than for Matthew Arnold who saw it as an exercise of curiosity; It obeys an instinct prompting it to try to know the best that is known and thought in the world, Irrespectively of practice, politics, and everything of the kindj and t© value knowledge and thought as they approach this best, without the intrusion of any other considerations what-ever.1 For Arnold criticism was much more than a mere communication of a personal response* it represented an attempt to "know the best that is known and thought in the world." Through the critical activity the life of a nation could know the benefits of " . . . a current of ideas in the highest degree animating and nourishing to the creative power . . . . "^ in place of the inbreeding which the criticism of th© impressionists offered, Arnold's criticism offered new blood, new vitality to both th© world of literature and th© world of men. Before turning to a detailed analysis of Arnold's theory of criticism, however, we should recognize that his concept of poetry 1 Arnold, "The Function of Criticism at the Present Time," Essays in Criticism. First Series, (1865), pp. 16-17. 2 Ibid., p. 8. -105-has certain affinities with that of the Romantics. Like the men whom we have considered, Arnold recognizes the essentially emotional nature of poetry. He believes that when we read a true poet " . . . the great thing for us is to feel and enjoy his work as deeply as ever we can . . . . 1,1 Like Coleridge, he recognizes that " . . . what comes irom the heart, that alone goes to the heart . . . . "2 Poetry rises in the heart of the poet, and addresses the heart of the reader* "Poeti-cal works belong to the domain of our permanent passions: let them interest these, and the voice of all subordinate claims upon them is at once silenced."3 Like the Romantics, Arnold recognizes that poetry is an emotional activity, and that it seeks to bring pleasure to the reader: "A poetical work . . . is a representation from which men can derive enjoyment."4 To a considerable degree, therefore, Arnold's concept of poetry is in line with that of the Romantic critics, and had he demanded no more of poetry than a representation of intense emotion bringing pleasure to the reader, he might well have become another impres-sionistic critic in the line stretching from Lamb to Wilde. However, Arnold requires much more of poetry than emotion and pleasure alone. He recognizes that these have a place In the poetic activity, and he recognizes that they give poetry its appeal, but for him poetry is not merely a delightful world of emotional stimulation: it is . . . at bottom a criticism of lifej . . . the greatness 1 Arnold, "The Study of Poetry," (1880), Essays in Criticism, Se-cond Series, (1888), London, Macmillan & C©±, Ltd., 1905, p. 10. 2 Coleridge, The Friend (Section 2, Essay 11, 1818), p. 345. 3 Arnold, Preface to Poems, (1853), in Sir A. T. Quiller-Couch, ed. The Poetical Works of Matthew Arnold, Oxford University Press, 1909, p. 4 4 Ibid.» P« 2. -106 of a poet lies in his powerful and beautiful application of ideas to l i f e , - to the questions How to live.1 Now at first sight these lines from the essay on Wordsworth seem to indicate that Arnold advocates mere didacticism in poetry, metrical moralizing. However, although the ideas which the poet applies to life are moral in nature, A large sense is . . . to be given to the term moral. What-ever bears upon the question, 'how to live,' comes under i t . *Hor love thy l i f e , nor hate? but, what thou liv'st, Live well; how long or short, permit to heaven.' In those fine lines Milton utters, as every one at once per-ceives, a moral idea. Yes, but so too, when Keats consoles the forward-bending lover on the Grecian Urn, the lover ar-rested and presented in immortal relief by the sculptor's hand before he can kiss, with the line, 'For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair' -he utters a moral idea. When Shakespeare says, that 'We are such stuff As dreams are made of, and our little life Is rounded with a sleep.' he utters a moral idea.2 The criticism of life which Arnold believes poetry offers is something much more than what we customarily think of as didacticism. If we were called upon to offer an example of didactic verse - using the term in its usual sense - we should hardly suggest the line from the Ode on a Grecian Urn, or, for that matter, the passage from The Tempest. However, for Arnold these are examples of the moral ideas which poetry applies to life, and they are moral in the sense that anything is moral 1 Arnold, "Wordsworth," (1879), Essay's in Criticism, Second Series, pp. 143-144. 2 Ibid., pp. 142-143. 107-that offers us a perception of some truth of life. In Keats' line the truth is that of the permanence of the ideas of love and beauty: though the objects, the men and -women, in which these ideas are manifested may perish, love and beauty themselves remain - they always have been; they always will be. In Shakespeare's lines the truth is that of the insignificance of man's life: we think that our sorrows and our joys are important, but they are no more than the stuff of dreams, soon to be dissipated when we sink into the nothingness of the deep, eternal 'slumber of death. These ideas are moral because they are true, and they offer a partial answer to the question "How to live" in the sense that awareness of any truth is a help to man in his adjustment to l i f e . In the Preface to Poems (1853), Arnold gives a fairly clear in-dication of what he means by poetry as a criticism of life. Dealing with the effect of the truly great classics of the past upon a reader, he writes, As he penetrates into the spirit of the great classical works, as he becomes gradually aware of their intense significance, their noble simplicity, and their calm pathos, he will be con-vinced that it is this effect, unity and profoundness of moral, impression, at which the ancient Poets aimed; that it is this which constitutes the grandeur of their works, and which makes them immortal.1 And again, in the essay on Wordsworth, he writes, . . . a great poet receives his distinctive character of su-periority from his application, under the conditions immutably fixed by the laws of poetic beauty and poetic truth, from his application, I say, to his subject, whatever it may be, of the ideas •On man, on nature, and on human life,' 1 Arnold, Preface to Poems, (1853), in Quiller-Couch, op. cit., p. 13. -108-which he has acquired for himself. The line quoted is Words-worth's own; and his superiority arises from his powerful use, in his best pieces, his powerful application to his sub-ject, of ideas'on man, on nature, and on human li f e . *1 Now it is obvious that Arnold here conceives of the ideas of poetry as something far more vital than mere moral maxims. The ideas of the ancients are ideas of "intense significance," "noble simplicity," "calm pathos." If we turn back to the matter with which those writers dealt we find that it is man and the tragedy of man on earth. The grief of Priam, the pride of Agamemnon, the jealousy of Medea, the horror of Oedipus: these are the themes of Homer, Aeschylus, Euri-pides, and Sophocles. These are the themes in which the significance, nobility, and pathos of man and his life are revealed. These are the themes in which the universal truths of life are made manifest. These are the concrete representations of Plato's Ideas. What the great poet reveals in his poetry is the reality of life, the Idea which lies back of the actual world. As Aristotle suggests in his theory of art as mimetic representation, the poet perceives in his theme some universal truth, a truth which lies hidden to the limited gaze of most men. In his poem the poet reveals that truth in a purified form which all men can grasp if they will follow his lead. Now although Aristotle's universal is a truth which lies as a potential within the actual object, and Plato's Idea is a reality existing only in the mind of God, the truth which both represent is one, and what the poet offers is a concrete 1 n ^ v a in Criticism. Second Series., pp. 140-: -109-manifestation of this truth, this universal, this Idea* The ancient Greeks perceive the reality, the Idea of man's life, its meaning, its nobility, its tragedy. They perceive i t , and even though it may sadden them, they accept it as a truth. There, on the mountain and the sky, On all the tragic scene they stare.1 In their poetry they reveal this truth, and in so doing they apply ideas to life; they offer a criticism of life. When we conceive of poetry as a criticism of li f e , then, we con-ceive of it as an activity which, although it makes its appeal by its delightful stimulation of the emotions, has yet a higher missions " . . . it has to bring man Into harmony with life, to explain life to him, to tell him how to live."2 it does not teach explicitly, through moral maximss it detects and reveals the idea, the ideal of life , and offers that Idea in concrete form. The great poet does not offer us a "working" morality, but he does take us into the very presence of the truth which underlies all morality, and in so doing he joins the company of the greatest teachers, those of whom Kahlil Gibran speaks in The Prophets The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness. If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind.3 1 Yeats, ¥. B., Lapis Lazuli, 11. 51-52. 2 Worsfold, W. B., The Principles of Criticism. London, George Allen, 1897, p. 175. ; ~ ' S 3 New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1946, p. 62. -no-li* we experience Oedipus Rex to the full we do have a richer ap-preciation of life because - through Sophocles - we have seen what life truly is. "In this sense poetry can hardly be denied to be a criticism of life; it Is the winning portrayal of the ideal of human life as this ideal shapes itself in the mind of the poet.*'1 Or, in Arnold's words, The grand power of poetry is its interpretative power: by which I mean . . . the power of so dealing with things as to awaken in us a wonderfully ful l , new, and intimate sense of them, and of our relations with them. US/hen this sense is awakened in us, as to objects without us, we feel ourselves to be in contact with the essential nature of those objects, to be no longer bewildered and oppressed by them, but to have their secret, and to be in harmony with them; and this feel-ing calms and satisfies us as no other can.2 For Arnold, then, poetry is more than a revelation of the poet's heart. It is a criticism of li f e . The poet does give expression to his own feelings, but in so doing he offers to. mankind a concrete representation of the reality, the ideas of li f e . Those men who say that "A true allegory of the state of one's own mind in a representa-tive history . . . is perhaps the highest thing that one can attempt in the way of poetry"3 f a i i to grasp the full intent of the great poet. In the poetry of Homer, Sophocles, Shakespeare, and Milton - poetry which does reveal the highest thing that one can attempt in the way of poetry - we find no such limited concept. Their poetry offers not only the strong emotions of living men, but also a criticism of life through the concrete manifest ation of ideas, ideas which are moral 1 Worsfold, pp. cit., p. 150. 2 "Maurice de Guerin," Essays in Criticism, First Series, p. 81. 3 Arnold, Preface to Poems, (1853), in Quiller-Couch, op. cit., p. 8. -111-beeause they are truths. We have seen that because the impressionists accept poetry as a purely emotional activity their emotional activity their emo-tional response to it serves as their criticism of i t . If a work moves them deeply they acclaim it as great poetry. Strong feeling is all they require of poetry, and if they find it in a poem they are satisfied. Their criticism of the poem is an expression of their response to i t . Whatever associations may have entered into their - response are accepted without question; such associations have merely been agents in the full enriching of that response. Arnold, however, sees poetry as the embodiment of truth. The poet has looked on life and perceived its essential nature. His poem offers a con-crete presentation of the essential truth of being. If we are to see what the poet has seen we must do all in our power as men to cleanse ourselves of personal associations and see the poet's work as in itself it really is .x To do this we must do what we have already seen Wordsworth advocates we must rise above considerations of self, class, nation, and creed, and stand as men, simple and natural. The moment that we let our own associations as individual men enter into our appreciation of a poem we cease to see that poem as It really i s , and deny ourselves its vision of truth. We may still experience an emotional response to the poem, but we lose its value as a criticism of l i f e . Arnold's concept of criticism, therefore, is quite different from 1 Arnold, "On Translating Homer," Lecture II, (1861), in assays by Matthew Arnold, p. 285. -112-that of the impressionists. He recognizes that the task which he offers the critic is one of almost insurmountable difficulty. Where the impressionist, by confessing that he writes merely what he feels, can often speak " . . . out of a whim or a crochet or a mere personal inclination,"1 Arnold requires that the true critic convey a perception of the essential nature of the poem. Now poetry is nothing less than the most perfect speech of man, that in which he comes nearest to being able to utter the truth. It is no small thing, therefore, to succeed eminently in poetry. And so much is required for duly estimating success here, that about poetry it is per-haps hardest to arrive at a sure general verdict, and takes longest.2 The very greatest poetry has " . . . a power of forming, sustaining, and delighting us, as nothing else can."3 If w© are to know the full benefit of such poetry we must stand with the poet and see his poem as he meant us to see i t . Only by doing so can we perceive the truth which he has perceived, benefit from the criticism of life which his poem offers, and arrive at a real estimate of the value of the poem as a work of literature. For Arnold . . . there are, quite definitely, both a true reading and also a false; for him one must not put into the work of art "whatever one wishes" or "see in it whatever one chooses to see." To be a critic, one should "see the object as in itself it really is." And that is the tenor and spirit of Arnold's whole critical effort.^ Arnold suggests one great guide in arriving at a real estimate of a poem: 1 Sherman, Stuart Pratt, Matthew Arnold. How to Know Him, Indiana-polis, Bobbs-Merrill, 1917, p. 154. 2 Arnold,"Wordsworth," (1879), Essays in Criticism, Second Series, p. 128. 3 Arnold, "The Study of Poetry," (1880), Essays in Criticism, Se-cond Series, p. 5. 4 Stoil, E. E. , "Critics at Cross-Purposes," ELH, vol. 14 (1947), p. 323. -113-• . • constantly in reading poetry, a sense for the best, the really excellent, and of the strength and joy to be drawn from i t , should be present in our minds and should govern our estimate of what we read.1 The true critic will be a man who knows what great poetry can offer. He will know the great works of the past - the epics of Homer and Milton, the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Shakespeare, the Divine Comedy of Dante - and his knowledge of them will guide him in his judgment. He will not, however, allow that judgment to be swayed by two fallacious estimates, the historical and the personal, both of which can hinder him from a true reading of the poem. "A poet or a poem may count to us historically, they may count to us on grounds personal to ourselves, and they may count to us really."2 These two fallacious estimates - the historical and the personal - are but two results of the same error in critics, that of bringing to " . . . the consideration of their object some individual fancy • • • • "^ The critic who allows his concern from the historical place of a work of literature to affect his judgment . . . often is distracted from the enjoyment of the best, and with the less good he oyerbusies himself, and is prone to over-rate it in proportion to the trouble which it has cost him.4 The criticism which he offers frequently results in such unbalanced esti-mates as the comparison of Caedmon to Milton, the praise of the Chanson de 1 "The Study of Poetry," (1880), Essays in Criticism, Second Series. p. 6. 2 Loc. cit. 3 Arnold, "On Translating Homer," Lecture II, (1861), in Essays by-Matthew Arnold, p. 285. 4 Arnold, "The Study of Poetry," (1880), Essays in Criticism, Second Series, p. 12. -114-Roland in terms befitting only the Iliad and Odyssey. The critic who offers a personal estimate of poetry - as we have seen Lamb, Hazlitt, and De Quineey do - falls into the trap of offering his own emotional response to a poem as a just estimate of i t , forgetting that Our personal affinities, likings, and circumstances, have great power to sway our estimate of this or that poet's work, and to make us attach more importance to it as poetry than in itself it really possesses, because to us it i s , or has been, of high importance. Here also we over-rate the object of our interest, and apply to it a language of praise which is quite exaggerated.1 -The true critic does make us© of both historical matter and his personal response in his consideration of a poet's work, but his great aim is to see that work as it really i s , and to estimate how nearly it approaches the level of the truly great. Only by so doing can he arrive at a real estimate. Everything depends on the reality of a poet's classic character. If he is a dubious classic, let us sift him; if he is a false classic, let us explode him. But if he is a real classic, if his work belongs to th© class of the very best (for this is the true and right meaning of the word classic, classical), then the great thing for us is to. feel and enjoy his work as deeply as ever we can, and to appreciate the wide difference between It and all work which has not the same high character. This is what is salutary, this is what is formative; this is the great benefit to be got from the study of poetry. Everything which interferes with i t , which hinders i t , is injurious. True, we must read our classic with open eyes, and not with eyes blinded with superstition; we must perceive when his work comes short, when it drops out of the class of the very best, and we must rate i t , in such cases, at its proper value. But the use of this negative criticism is not in itself, it is entirely in its enabling us to have a clearer sense and a deeper enjoyment of what is truly ex-cellent. To trace the labour, the attempts, the weaknesses, 1 Arnold, "The Study of Poetry," ( 1 8 8 0 ) , Essays in Criticism, Second Series, p. 7. -115-th© failures of a geniune classic, to acquaint oneself with his time and his life and Ms historical relation-ships, is mere literary dilettantism unless it has that clear sense and deeper enjoyment for its end.l We should note one thing, however, about Arnold's doctrine of the importance of seeing the object as in itself it really is. Arnold was a sensible man. He appreciated as well as anyone else that no matter how disinterested, how objective the approach, no critic can ever see a poem precisely as it really is. He appreciated that some personal associations or prejudices must inevitably enter into every response to a poem, nevertheless, if every man who pretends to the title of critic will make every possible effort to stand with the poet, to see the poem as in itself it really i s , every criticism of a poem will bring mankind a little closer to a true reading, a real estimate of that poems To try and approach truth on one side after another, not to strive or cry, nor to persist in pressing forward, on any one side, with violence and self-will, - it is only thus, it seems to me, that mortals may hope to gain any vision of the mysterious Goddess, whom we shall never see except in outline, but only thus even in outline.2 We have already mentioned that Arnold follows Wordsworth in his insistence on the need for the critic's rising above personal con-siderations of self, class, nation, and creed, and standing as a man, simple and natural, untouched by any concern other than the perception of truth. For Arnold disinterestedness Is the great essential of all true criticisms 1 Arnold, "The Study of Poetry," (1880), Essays in Criticism, Second Series, pp. 10-11. 2 p. v. Arnold, Preface to A s s a y s in Criticism, First Series, (1865), -116-It is of the last importance that . . . criticism should clearly discern what rule for its course, in or-der to avail itself of the field now opening to i t , and to produce fruit for the future, it ought to take. The rule may be summed up in one word, - disinterestedness. And how is criticism to show disinterestedness? By keep-ing aloof from what is called "the practical view of thingsj" by resolutely following the law of its own nature, which is to be a free play of the mind on all subjects which it touches. By steadily refusing to lend itself to any of those ulterior, political, practical considerations about ideas, which plenty of people will be sure to at-tach to them, which in this country at any rate are certain to be attached to them quite sufficiently, but which cri-ticism has really nothing to do with. Its business i s , as 1 have said, simply to know the best that is known and thought in the world, and by in its turn making this known, to create a current of true and fresh ideas. Its business is to do this with inflexible honesty, with due ability; but its business is to do no more, and to leave alone all questions of practical consequences and applications, ques-tions which will never fail to have due prominence given to them.1 Criticism must be above sect and party: it must be " . • . not the minister of these interests, not their enemy, but absolutely and entirely independent of them."2 If criticism deserts the ideal of disinterestedness and allows itself to be infected with personal, or political, or sectarian interests, it can no longer perform its function of knowing the best that is known and thought in the world. It must be disinterested, for " . . . without . . . fa}free dis-interested treatment of things, truth and the highest culture are out of the question."4' And the critic of literature must have not 1 Arnold, "The Function of Criticism at the Present Time," Es-savs in Criticism, First Series, (1865), pp. 18-19. 2 Ibid., p. 20. 3 Ibid., p. 16. 4 Ibid., p. 27. -117-only disinterestedness in matters concerning his relationship with the rest of mankind, but also disinterestedness in matters concern-ing his relationship with the literature which he criticizes. To handle these matters properly there Is needed a poise so perfect, that the least overweight in any direction tends to destroy the balance. Temper destroys i t , a crotchet destroys i t , even erudition may destroy i t . To press to the sense of the thing itself with x'shich one is dealing, not to go off on some collateral issue about the thing, is the hardest matter in the world. The 'thing itself with which one is here dealing, - the critical perception of poetic truth, - is of all things the most volatile, elusive, and evanescent: by even pressing too impetuously after i t , one runs the risk of losing i t . The critic of poetry should have the finest tact, the nicest moderation, the most free, flexible, and elastic spirit imaginable; he.should be indeed the 'ondoyant et divers,' the undulat-ing and diverse being of Montaigne. The less he can deal with his object simply and freely, the more things he has to take into account in dealing with i t , - the more, in short, he has to encumber himself, - so much the greater force of spirit he needs to retain his elasticity. But one cannot exactly have this greater force by wishing for i t ; so, for the force of spirit one has, the load put upon it is often heavier than it will well bear.1 We have now seen that Arnold accepts poetry as an emotional ac-tivity, but requires of it that it be a criticism of li f e . It offers such a criticism through the concrete manifestation of moral ideas, of truths of li f e . To enjoy the benefit of this criticism the reader must see the poem (the object) as in itself it really is; whatever of himself enters into his reading of the poem may hinder him from so seeing i t . To ensure that he does see it as it really is the reader must try to keep individual whims and fancies out of his response to the poem: he must beware of both the historical and the personal estimates. He must try, above all else, to maintain a disinterested 1 Arnold, "On Translating Homer, Last Words," (1862), in Essays bv Matthew Arnold, pp. 384-385. -118-approach to the literature he reads: he must let the poem be what it i s , not what he wishes it to be. All that we have thus far considered in Arnold's critical theories has had to do with the critic as an individual man, and the essence of most of it is to be found in the one word di sint ere st edne ss. We have been dealing with the question of the critic's own response to literature. We come now to one of Arnold's critical standards which does not depend upon the critic as a man, but upon critics as a group. For an anticipation of this standard we can turn back, strangely enough, to the impressionist, Hazlitt. We noted in our survey of his critical theories that despite his constant emphasis upon the per-sonal response as the basis of criticism he does recognize one non-personal standard of judgment, that of long-established public opinion.1 Now, in Arnold, we find a similar recognition of the value of a body of enlightened opinion, although Arnold favours a more or-ganized body than does Hazlitt. Arnold recognizes that the great force leading to the creation of true poetry is energy in the poet. The work of Shakespeare springs from power in the man himself. And what that energy, which is the life of genius, above everything demands and insists upon, is freedom: entire independence of all authority, presecription, and routine, -the fullest room to expand as it will.2 For the man of creative genius a body such as the French Academy, a body of fixed intellectual authority, can be a hindrance. However, 1 See pp. 80-82 above. 2 "The Literary Influence of Academies," Essays In Criticism, First Series, (1865), p. 51. - U S -such a body can also have a very real value in the establishment of standards in those matters of literary composition which are the con-cern of the intellect, matters of form, evolution, precision, and proportion. So far as routine and authority tend to embarrass energy and inventive genius, academies may be said to be obstruc-tive to energy and inventive genius, and, to this extent, to the human spirit's general advance. But then this evil is so much compensated by the propagation, on a large scale, of the mental aptitudes and demands which an open mind and a flexible intelligence naturally engender, genius itself, in the long run, so greatly finds its account in this propa-gation, and bodies like the French Academy have such power for promoting It, that the general advance of the human spirit is perhaps, on the whole, rather furthered than impeded by their existence.1 Bodies like the Academy serve the valuable function of setting stan-dards, and creating a force of educated taste and opinion capable of detecting and chastening those writers who fail to meet those standards. Because England lacks such a body both the creation and the criticism of its literature are purely personal. In the creation ©f literature, as Arnold admits, the lack of an Academy may often prove a value, but in the criticism of literature this lack presents a real danger: It is not that there do not exist in England, as in France, a number of people perfectly well able to discern what is good . . . from what is bad, and preferring what is good: but they are isolated, they form no powerful body of opinion, they are not strong enough to set a standard, up to which even the journeyman-work of literature must be brought, i f it is to be vendible. Ignorance and charlatanism in work of this kind are always trying to pass off their wares as 1 "The Literary Influence of Academies," Essays in Criticism, First Series, (1865), p. 52. -120-excellent, and to ery down criticism as the voice of an insignificant, over-fastidious minority? they easily per-suade the multitude that this is so when the minority is scattered about as it is here; not so easily when it is banded together as in the French Academy.1 Because England lacks a controlling body to set standards in litera-ture many Englishmen believe " . . . that there is no such thing as a high correct standard in intellectual matters; that every one may as well take his own way . . . ;"2 and English poets and critics fall into " . . . habits of wilfulness and eccentricity, which hurt ' our minds, and damage our credit with serious people."3 In Arnold's view the country as a whole would be better for an organized " . . . force of critical opinion controlling a learned man's vagaries, end keeping him straight .<..."* Mow there is considerable good sense in all that Arnold says, and were an Academy possible in which all the members were men of Arnold's own taste and discrimination, the effect of such a body on the cultural life of the nation would doubtless be most beneficial. However, the great danger in such a body is that instead of a force of enlightenment it become a force of suppression. There are far more Francis Jeffreys in the world of criticism than there are Matthew Arnolds. We need but turn to some of the greatest names in our own literature to appreciate the reality of this danger. What would have been the fate of William Blake at the hands of a rigidly orthodox 1 "The Literary Influence of Academies," Essays in Criticism, First Series, (1865), p. 57. 2 Ibid., p. 58. 3 Loc. cit. 4 Loc. cit. -121-academy? How would the Bronte sisters have fared before a strictly-Victorian court of literature? What verdict would have been passed on John Donne before the present century? Despite Arnold's argu-ments - and they have much truth in them - I cannot but feel that it is a sound instinct in the English people that has kept them from the establishment of an English counterpart of the French Academy, True, their failure to found such a group has led to idiosyncracies in both the creation and the criticism of literature, but it has also left men free to speak honestly and freely from their hearts. Where the French Academy helped France to the brilliance of Racine, our freedom gave England the glory of Shakespeare, We may have lost something in form and standards, but we have kept the inestimably valuable freedom to speak as inspiration tells us to speak. Arnold may, however, be right in the case of literary criticism. An academy would offer a standard by which men could test the sound-ness of their own criticisms of literature. Readers could find in it " . • . a standard higher than one's own habitual standard in in-tellectual matters, . . . a superior ideal,"1 Given an academy, we might be spared such criticisms as one by an American reviewer which I recently read which damned a currently popular novel (by an English author) for no apparently better reason than that a sexually perverted character in it happened to be an American consular official. Whether the.novel is good or bad I do not know - I have not read it - but the "criticism" of it is not criticism at a l l . Had we an academy to give 1 "The Literary Influence of Academies," Essays in Criticism, First Series, (1865), p. 49. -122' us a grasp of literary standards, writers might pause "before foist-ing sueh reviews upon us, reviews which demonstrate only too well the truth of Arnold's words: • • . there exists too little of what I may call a public force of correct literary opinion, possessing within cer-tain limits a clear sense of what is right and wrong, sound and unsound, and sharply recalling men of ability and learning from any flagrant misdirection of these their advantages.! In his consideration of the value of literary academies we find Arnold suggesting the establishment of standards outside, and above, the Individual critic, standards to which the critic can turn for " a superior ideal" by which he can weigh the validity of his own judgments. Arnold also suggests the establishment of standards within the critic, standards by which he can test works of poetry "before arriving at a judgment. These personal standards are his famous touchstones. He believes that . . . there can be no more useful help for discovering what poetry belongs to the class of the truly excellent, and can therefore do us most good, than to have always in one's mind lines and expressions of the great masters, and to apply them as a touchstone to other poetry. Of course we are not to require this other poetry to resemble them; it may.be very dissimilar. But if we have any tact we shall find them, when we have lodged them well in our minds, an infallible touchstone for detecting the presence or absence of high poetic quality, and also the degree of this quality, in all other poetry which we may place beside them.2 As examples of what he means he suggests passages from Homer, Dante, 1 "On Translating Homer, Last Words," (1862), in Essays by Matthew Arnold, p. 382. 2 "The Study of Poetry," (1880), Essays in Criticism, Second Series, pp. 16-17. -123-Shakespeare, and Milton, and declarest These few lines, i f we have tact and can use them, are enough even of themselves to keep clear and sound our judgments about poetry, to save us from fallacious estimates of i t , to conduct us to a real estimate.1 Now among his touchstones he suggests Dante's "In la sua volon-tade e nostra pace;"2 Hamlet's dying words to Horatio: If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart, Absent thee from felicity awhile, And in this harsh world draw they breath in pain To tell my story ; 3 and Milton's description of Satan: Darken'd so, yet shone Above them all the archangel; but his face Deep scars of thunder had intrench'd, and care Sat on his faded cheek . . . . 4 These passages - along with all the others he offers as touchstones -have in common " . . . the possession of the very highest poetical quality,"^ that quality which we find in poetry in which both the mat-ter and substance and the manner and style have tt • . . a mark, an accent of high beauty, worth and power."6 In such poetry we find both matter which demonstrates the truth of Aristotle's " . . . profound observation that the superiority of poetry over history consists in 1 "The Study of Poetry" (1880), Essays in Criticism, Second Series, p? .1ft*-". 2 Paradiso, i l l , 85. "In His will is our peace." 3 Hamlet, V, 2, 11. 357-360. 4 Paradise Lost, I, 11. 599-602. 5 "The Study of Poetry," (1880), Essays in Criticism, Second Series, p. 20. 6 Ibid., p. 21. -124-its possessing a higher truth and a higher seriousness . . . , w l and style which possesses that grandeur which " . . . arises in poetry, when_a noble nature, Poetically gifted, treats with sim-plicity or with severity a serious subject."2 At first sight Arnold seems to advocate in his touchstone theory that we merely stock our minds with great lines of poetry, and when we wish to determine the value of a new work we test a few of its lines against a few of our touchstones to see whether or not they are in any way comparable. If the new work rises to the level of the touchstones we accept it as great poetry? if not, we relegate it to its relative position. Now if Arnold means no more than this in his touchstone theory the theory well deserves the harsh judgment of Sir Walter Raleigh* Nothing so bizarre has ever been done in so serious a spirit since the foolish fellow of the classical story brought a sample brick to market in the attempt to sell his house. He too was a pedant, but he must yield the prize to the English professor, who taught poetic archi-tecture all his life, and when he was asked to pass judg-ment on the merits of a church and a town-hall, was con-tent to handle a brick from each.3 However, I cannot but think that Arnold - who was, as we have had rea-son to observe before now, a sensible man - means something far more intelligent than what Raleigh suggests. Arnold explicitly says of his touchstones that " . . . we are not to require . . . other poetry to resemble them; it may be very dissimilar."4 Surely he means here to 1 "The Study of Poetry," (1380), Essays in Criticism, Second Series, p. 21. 2 "On Translating Homer, Last Words," (1862), in Essays by Matthew Arnold, p. 399. 3 Some Authors, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1923. 4 "The Study of Poetry," (1880), Essays In Criticism, Second Series, p. 17. -125-guard his theory against the very idiocy of application which Raleigh believes he advocates. The use of Arnold's touchstones does not re-quire the comparison of two bricks to determine the relative value of two cathedrals! it merely requires that the critic be a man who has read sufficiently widely and sufficiently carefully to have stocked his mind with a thorough knowledge of the great literature of the world. Out of his reading he will have garnered a small treasure-house of passages which, for him, are of the essence of poetry, passages which, in the sweat of labour, the pain of grief, the lone silence of night, he has contemplated and come to know as he knows himself. These passages have become a part of him, spirit of his spirit. As they have permeated his being, as he has known the con-summate joy which they offer, he has unconsciously, involuntarily, devloped a taste for poetry which rises to the level of these pas-sages. When he comes to criticize new poetry the critic - often quite unaware of what he is doing - will have this treasure-house of touch-stones, and the literary taste which they have brought him, as guides in arriving at his judgment. Arnold may have meant in his touchstone theory the ridiculous ac-tivity which Raleigh suggests, but I doubt i t . He was too wise a man, too intelligent a critic to have thought that the comparison of one brick - one line - from Paradise Lost with one from the Ode on a Grecian Urn would be sufficient to justify an estimate of the relative value of the two poems. Surely the touchstone theory is no more than a suggestion of a base on which we can develop a true, a sound, literary taste. -126-I have devoted considerable space to Arnold's touchstone theory because of its importance for our present purposes. We have now seen enough of Arnold's critical attitude to appreciate that he strongly opposes the purely personal critical approach of the impressionists. We have seen him demanding of the critic that he see a poem as in itself it really is? we have seen him seeking to establish external standards by which the critic can test the validity of his estimates5 now in the touchstone theory we see him seeking to establish a set of standards within the critic. However, we must note one great paradox in the touchstone theory, the standards, the touchstones, at which each critic will arrive must depend, to a high degree, upon himself as a man. The lines which will linger in my memory will not necessarily be those which will linger in my neighbour's. What we have in the touchstone theory is then an attempt to erect universal standards on the base of personal response. However, if every critic will make Arnold's initial effort to see the object as in itself it really Is, the touch-stones at which men of sensitivity and intelligence will arrive will probably have a fair degree of uniformity. The fact that most men of sensitivity and intelligence today agree on the value of Homer, Sophocles, Dante, Shakespeare, and Milton suggests that they will. From all that I have said of Arnold's critical theories, one great fact emergest the critic is a man who seeks to determine what is goods . . . it is the critic's first duty, prior even to his duty of stigmatising what is bad - to welcome everything -127-that is good. In welcoming this, he must at all times be ready, like the Christian convert, even to burn what he used to worship, and to worship what he used to burn. Nay, but he need not be thus inconsistent in welcoming it j he may retain all his principles: principles endure, cir-cumstances change; absolute success is one thing, relative success another. Relative success may take place under the most diverse conditions; and it is ingppreciating the good in even relative success, it is in taking into account the change of circumstances, that the critic's judgment is tested, that his versatility must display itself. He is to keep his idea of the best, of perfection, and at the same time to be willingly accessible to every second best which offers itself.1 The critic is not merely a minor poet communicating his own delight in works of literature: he is a man who has the ability to stand as man, sensitive and enlightened, able to " . . . discover and define . . . the dominant tendency of his age, to analyze the good from the bad, foster the good, diminish the bad . . . • "2 He will perceive the truth of the great poet's ideas and seek to reveal that truth to those less perceptive than he; he will perceive the falsity of the bad poet's work and reveal that. He not only per-ceives the good, but also propagates it: he recognizes that he has " . . . two obligations - to strive to possess the best ideas, and to strive to make his ideas prevail."3 He achieves the great end of criticism when he leads man." . . . towards perfection, by making his mind dwell upon what is excellent in itself, and the absolute beauty 1 "On Translating Homer, Last Words," (1862), in Essays by Matthew Arnold, p. 409. 2 Trilling, Lionel, Matthew Arnold, New York, Columbia University Press, 1949, pp. 159-160. 3 Brown, E. K., Matthew Arnold, a St-udy in Conflict, Toronto, Ryerson Press, 1948, p. 209. -128-and fitness of tloings."1 Abore all else, Arnold requires of the critic that he be a man who is well-rounded, a man who feels deeply and who knows much, a man of sympathy and wisdom. He must be one with a " . . . true sense for his subject," and "a disinterested love of i t . "2 He must be a man who has felt the passions of poetry, but has kept a balanced sense of judgment to enable him to determine its truth, its value for mankind. He is a man • • • of nicest discernment in matters intellectual, moral, aesthetic, social; of perfect equipoise of powers; of delicately pervasive sympathy; of imaginative insight; who grasps comprehensively the whole life of his time; who feels its vital tendencies and is intimately aware of Its most insistent preoccupations; who also keeps his orienta-tion towards the unchanging norms of human endeavour; and who is thus able to note and set forth the imperfections in existing types of human nature and to urge persuasively a return in essential particulars to the normal type. The function of criticism, then, Is the vindication of the ideal human type against perverting influences. . . . 3 In our study of Arnold's critical theories we have seen a strong reaction against the concept of criticism as purely personal response. We have seen Arnold point out the danger of such criticism: it can blind us to the highly beneficial truth of poetry. We have seen him advocate the establishment of standards - both external and internal -by which the critic can determine the best from the inferior. We have seen him recognize that the critic must feel the emotional power of poetry, but that that feeling alone does not lead to balanced criticism. 1 "The Function of Criticism at the Present Time," Essays in Cri-ticism, First Series, (1865), p. 21. 2 "On Translating Homer, Last Words," (1862), in Essays by Matthew Arnold, p. 423. 3 Gates, Lewis E., Three Studies in Literature, London, Macmillan, 1899, pp. 139-140. •129-The virtue of his attitude is balance, a balance which depends on universality of Interest, unity of spirit and sobriety of temperament - in a word, it is the excellence of culture.1 1 Brown, E. K., ed., Repre.^ritative Essays of Matthew Arnold, Toronto, Macmillan, 1936, p. xi. 7 The Analytical Impressionism of Walter Fater We nave now traced the development of the personal estimate through the critical theories of six men. We have seen Wordsworth and Coleridge establish Romantic criticism on an essential personal base, but we have also seen them warn of the errors into which such criticism, can f a l l . We have seen Lamb, Hazlitt, and De Quineey - disregarding the warning -develop on that base a frankly impressionistic criticism, depending almost entirely upon the critic's emotional response, and conmtunicating that response to the reader. We have seen Arnold rebel against criticism of this sort: we have seen him deny that the communication of an emo-tional response is the function of criticism; we have seen him summon the critic to return to his fundamental task of seeing the object as in itself it really is, the task of perceiving the poet's truth and propagating i t . Now, in Walter Pater and Oscar Wilde, we are to see the culmination of the development. We are to see a return to the impressionism of Lamb, Hazlitt, and De Quineey, and ultimately - in the theories of Wilde - a frank declaration that " . . . the highest criticism really is the record of one's own soul."1 Coleridge saw that the true critic must be " . . . a poet, at least in posse,"2 1 The Critic as Artist, I, Intentions (1891), London, Methuen & Co., Ltd., 1919, p. 139. 2 Anima Poetae, p. 128. (From Chapter 4, 1805) -131-but for Coleridge the critic's powers as a poet were but a means to a true perception of the work of art as in itself it really is, a means to the end of detecting the value, the depth, the significance of the work as it is for all men. Wilde, too, sees the critic as a •poet, but for him the critic no longer uses his powers as a means to a perception of the work as it really is, but as a means to the creation of a new poem which finds no more than its suggestion in the original work. With him criticism loses its identity to become one with poetry, a communication of emotional response. In Walter Pater we find a man who builds the structure of his critical theory - and of his life - about one central beliefs . . . what is secure in our existence is but the sharp apex of the present moment between two hypothetical eternities, and all that is real in our experience but a series of fleeting impressions • . . What is past is gone; what is to come is unknown; all that we have is the immediate moment, and to know the fullest richness of life we must endeavour to make that moment yield its utmost. Like all Epicureans, all Gyrenaics, Pater believes that we must experience each moment of life to the full, for the moment is all that we can be sure we have. . . . we are all under sentence of death but with assort of indefinite reprieve - les hommes sont to.us. condamnes a mort avec des sursis indefiniss we have an interval, and then our place knows us no mors.2 Therefore, since we cannot be sure that anything will follow this im-mediate moment of living, 1 Pater, Walter, Marina the Epicurean, (1885), London, Macmillan 1910, vol. 1, p. 146. 2 Pater, Walter, The Renaissance, Conclusion (1868), London, Mac-millan, 1910, p. 238. •132-Not the fruit of experience, hut experience itself, is the end. A counted number of pulses only is given to us of a variegated, dramatic life. How may we see in them all that is to be seen in them by the finest senses? How shall we pass most swiftly from point to point, and be present always at the focus where the greatest number of vital forces unite in their purest energy? To burn always with this hard gemlike flame, to main-tain this ecstasy, is success in lif e .1 For Pater there is but one way in which man can maintain this ec-stasy of the moment, and that is by living in the world of the beauti-ful, the world of art. Pater is not a sensualist. When he speaks of burning with a hard gem-like flame he has no thought of the delights of the flesh. He was greatly disturbed to discover that some young men -notably Oscar Wilde - believed that he advocated complete license in the indulgence of bodily desires. Physically, his own life was one of strict asceticism; he was himself a most moral, abstemious, continent man. What he does have in mind when he speaks of burning with a hard, gem-like flame is the pure, aesthetic joy of art, art which, for Pater, is beauty. We are given an interval of living; "Some spend this interval in listlessness, some in high passions, the wisest, at least among 'the children of this world,1 in art and song."2 There, in art and song, lies our opportunity of " . . . getting as many pulsa-tions as possible into the given time"3 of life. Pater believes that we must turn to the world of art if we are to know the highest joy of living because of all man's activities art 1 Pater, The Renaissance, Conclusion, (1868), p. 236. 2 Ibid., p. 238. 3 Loc. ext. -133-alone exists for the sake of beauty, and beauty is the source of the highest joy. Art is beauty made manifest, and therein lies its claim to a place in man's life. In Pater's view, The artist was to reject with determination every competing claim. He was not to write in the interests of morality, religion, humanitarian progress, popular favour, commercial gain, or even the revelation of his own personality. He was to work only in the service of beauty, obedient to no laws save the laws of art, devoted to art for its own sake.1 Art exists for its own sake, for the sake of its beauty, and the true critic of art will be n . . . an 'aesthetic' critic, or a critic of all things beautiful."2 At the base of Pater's critical theories, then,we find the Epicurean desire to live each moment of life as intensely as possible, and to satisfy this desire fully Pater believes that we must turn to the world of art because there we find beauty - the source of the highest joy - made manifest. Now, obviously, a criticism which builds on such a concept of the place of art in life must inevitably be highly personal. What is to me beautiful, what brings me the highest joy, need not be beautiful, need not bring the highest joy, to my neigh-bour. Pater himself recognizes that the beauty which he seeks, " . . . like all other qualities presented to human experience, is relative . . . . "3 Each of us perceives beauty through his impressions of the objects in which it is embodied, and those impressions are ever 1 Child, Ruth C , The Aesthetic of Walter Pater, New York, Mac-millan, 1940, p. 13. 2 Ibid., p. 9. 3 Pater, The Renaissance, Preface, (1873), p. v i i . -134-changing. Man is not a static being; he is constantly in a state of flux; he is • » . so receptive, all the influences of nature and of society ceaselessly playing upon him, . . . that ©very-hour in his life is unique, changed altogether by a stray word, or glance, or touch.! At best his impressions of beauty are but relative, and depend to a very high degree upon his own nature, upon what sounds, colours, thoughts, and emotions have previously entered into th© sum of his own li f e . Despite the relativity of our impressions, however, they provide our only means of knowing the beauty of art, and they are the foundation of our appreciation of that beauty. For Pater, there-fore, the criticism of art Is fundamentally impressionistic. A work of art, a picture - let us say da Vinci's Mona Lisa - impinges on a certain mind - let us say Walter Pater's - and from the impact arises a certain vision in the beholder. Pater's description of that vision . . . is his ,*criticism"of the picture. It is an ac-count of • . . his "reactions" to the picture, or rather his reactions to it at a particular moment of his life.2 7, as we shall see, Pater conceives of the function of criticism as more than mere meditation on impressions. However, such meditation does play a considerable part in his critical theories. In his Pre-face (1873) to The Renaissance he reveals the approach of the impres-sionistic critic. Such a critic first asks himself certain questions, all bearing upon Ms personal response to th© work wMch he is criticizing: What Is this song or picture, this engaging personality 1 Pater, "Coleridge," (1866), Appreciations, London, MaeMillan, 1918, p. 67. 2 May, James L., Charl^mb, a Study, London, Geoffrey Bles, 1934, pp. 166-167. -135-presented in life or in a book, to me? lhat effect does it really produce on me? Does it give me pleasure? and if so, what sort or degree of pleasure? How is my nature modified by its presence, and under its influence?1 Having arrived at answers to these most personal questions, the impressionist seeks to convey the essence of his answers to his fellows. With criticism-metaphors, with cycles of thought re-leased by the strong spring of the impression, he en-velops the latter with concentric intellectual lines, he elucidates i t , erects and orders it on the plane of consciousness.2 We have already seen De Quineey gauging the significance (as he sees it) of works of art, and Pater's impressionist attempts much the same task. Both experience the effect of a work upon their own beings, and then endeavour to elucidate and order that effect on the plane of consciousness. And the result of the activity is in both cases a personal response, a personal estimate. So far all that we have seen of Pater's critical theories has indicated that those theories are wholly personal In nature, and in a limited sense they ares Pater believes that " . . . in aesthetic criticism the first step . . . is to know one's own impression as it really is . . . , 1,3 and he erects the entire structure of his criticism upon this initial impression. However, Pater was too much influenced by Matthew Arnold to accept knowledge of one's own 1 p. v i i i . 2 Fernandez, Ramon, Messages, transl. Montgomery Belgion, New York, Harcourt, Brace, 1927, p. 291. 3 T h * Renaissance, Preface, (1873), p. v i i i . -136-a he can impression as the critic's ultimate aim. He accepts it merely as the first step in criticism, a step towards a higher knowledge. Like Arnold, Pater believes that the critic must have " . . . curiosity about everything as it really is . . . . u l Only if endeavours to see art in this way - as in itself it really is -he hope to arrive at a true estimate of the value of any work. When we begin to speak of seeing a work as in itself it really is , and of a true estimate, we find ourselves In a different world from that we usually associate with impressionistic criticism. Im-pressionism almost Inevitably carries with it a suggestion of the fanciful: when we hear the term we think of De Quineey probing his hyper-sensitive soul, Oscar Wilde creating poems as criticism, and Pater himself meditating imaginatively upon the Mona Lisa, seeing in it " . . • what in the ways of a thousand years men had come to desire."*' Now Pater is an impressionist, but for him impressions are but a means to an end, and that end is the same as Arnold's: to see the object as in itself it really is. The meditation on the Mona Lisa is fanciful; it is a poem, a new work of art which draws its inspiration from the work which Pater is criticizing, but it is . . . an Indulgence of fancy, by one who Is everywhere else resolute in guarding against the seductions of fancy. It was no habit of Pater's to use a book or a picture or an example of fine architecture as the starting-point for some dream or speculation in which the thing itself would be left behind.3 1 "Style," (1888), Appreciations, p. 11. Italics mine. 2 "Leonardo da Vinci," (1869), The Renaissance, p. 124. 3 Welby, T. Earle, "Walter Pater," in Lascelles Abercrombie and others, Revaluations, London, Oxford University Press, 1931, p. 203. Italics mine. -137-That meditation is not at all typical of Pater's criticism. Like Wordsworth, Pater sees that a great poem is the work of a man . . . endowed with more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be com-mon among mankind . . . . 1 He recognizes that the work which such a man offers is far more beauti-ful - and, therefore, far more valuable - than what a critic can create from his impression of that work. The critic must contemplate his own impression, but his contemplation will be but a means to an end, that of seeing the poet's poem. "To see the object as in itself it really is," has been justly said to be the aim of all true cri-ticism whatever; and in aesthetic criticism the first step towards seeing one's object as it really is, is to know one's own impression as it really i s , to discri-minate i t , to realise it distinctly.2 Although he can never, perhaps, reach a positive perception of the work as in itself it really is, the critic can approach such a perception and thereby arrive at " . . . a kind of just criticism and true esti-mate • . . . "3 Pater recognizes that the poet " . . . says to the reader, - I want you to see precisely what I see."4 The poet will strip his work of " . . . any diversion,. . • any vagrant intruder, because one can go wandering away with it from the immediate subject."5 As fully as he is capable he will offer the reader a work in which he has expressed what he wishes to convey, no more and no less. He will have exerted 1 Wordsworth, Preface to Lyrical Ballads, (1800), in Smith, op. cit. p. 23. 2 Pater, The Renaissance, Preface, (1873), p. v i i i . 3 Pater, "Wordsworth," (1874), Appreciations, p. 42. 4 Pater, "Style," (1888), Appreciations, p. 31. 5 Ibid., p. 19. -138-his every power to ensure that his expression is clean of the un-essential. "Surplusage!, he will dread that, as the runner on his muscles."^ His poem will he hard, clear, and concise, free of the soft, the vague, the diffuse. When the critic approaches the poem he will recognize that he is about to consider a work which expresses something as best the poet could express i t . And he will recognize that for him, as for all readers of poetry, The appropriate principle is that of the late Lascelles Abercrombie, which is in keeping with Plato, Aristotle, and more recent notables: 'literature exists not only in expressing a thing; it equally exists in the receiv-ing of the thing expressed.' Received, communicated it must be. 2 The poet has expressed something, and the reader must receive i t . Only when the.critic recognizes this - and, like Arnold, Pater does recognize it - can he hope to see the poem as in itself it really Is. The critic must, therefore, make every effort to rise above his limitations as an individual man and stand with the poet. Even as the finished poem is the . . . effect of an intuitive condition of mind {jln the poet), it must be recognised by like Intuition on the part of the reader, and a sort of immediate sense.3 The critic must endeavour to ensure that the impressions which will lead to that intuition will be a s close a s possible to those intended by the poet. He will follow the poet's lead. He will allow the poem full liberty to play upon his emotions, but he will be constantly 1 Pater, "Style," (1888), Appreciations, p. 19. 2 Stoil, Elmer Edgar, "Critics at Gross-Purposes," ELH, vol. 14 (1947), p. 325. 3 Pater, "Style," (1888), Appreciations, p. 33. -139-aware that " . . . art addresses not pure sense, s t i l l less the pure intellect, but the 'imaginative reason' through the senses . . . . 1,1 Through the proper functioning of that fusion of sense, intellect, and intuition in the imaginative reason the critic can approach a perception of the object as in itself it really i s . We can now appreciate that Pater is not of that school which sees criticism merely as original creation. He is in the line of Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Arnold when he recognizes that the critic must know the poet's poem, the composer's music, the artist's paint-ing. He believes that we can know nothing of a work beyond our im-pressions of i t , but that a clo3e, sensitive analysis of those impressions can lead us to a. perception of the essential nature, the unique virtue of the work. The critic . . . regards all the objects with which he ha3 to do, all works of art, and the fairer forms of nature and human l i f e , as powers or forces producing pleasurable sensations, each of a more or less peculiar or unique kind. This Influence he feels, and wishes to explain, by analysing and reducing i t to its elements.2 Out of his analysis will come an awareness of " • . . the virtue by which a picture, a landscape, a fair personality in life or in a book, produces this special impression of beauty or pleasure . . . . We have already seen that for Pater the beauty of art Is rela-tive. It must be so because our only awareness of it is that de-rived from our personal impressions, and these differ in all men and at all times. We now find Pater, however, seeking the unique quality, the formula, the virtue, of works and artists. But how can 1 Pater, "The School of GiorgionQ," (1877), The Renaissance, p. 2 Pater, The Renaissance, Preface, (1873), p.ix. 3 Loc. c i t . -140-we ever arrive at agreement on this virtue if each of our impressions of a work or artist differs from all others? To this apparently unanswerable question there is a reasonable reply, men Pater seeks in his own impressions a grasp of a virtue apparent to all men, he is doing no more than fuse two facts of human experiences Modern man is quite convinced that he can never know anything at all as it actually is . . . j and that no two people ever see things exactly alike. But , experience has also shown us that human faculties are sufficiently similar so that a fairly general agreement is arrived at by minds of a similar acuteness and degree of experience. Human likeness is a fact which goes along with human difference. In his critical writings Pater is taking into account both elements. His search for the unique quality, the * active principle,' indicates Ms be-lief that each man is essentially different from all others. His belief that qualified observers will recognize and agree on the 'active principle' is a recognition of the fundamental similarity of human minds.1 There will, of course, be some differences of opinion as to the vir-tues of different artists and their works. However, when Pater sees Plato's virtue as a philosopher as a love of the unseen, or Coleridge's as a thinker as a quest for the absolute, or Wordsworth's as a poet as a perception of Man's companionship with Nature, or Michelangelo's as a sculptor as a fusion of sweetness and strength, he does offer virtues on which most men could agree. The discovery and revelation of the virtue, the characteristic quality of the artist's work is a consistent aim of Pater as a critic, and one which distinguishes Mm from the purely personal impressionist. Despite the fact that the critic must depend upon Ms personal impressions for the material from wMch he will draw the essence, the quest wMch 1 Child, Ruth C, "Is Walter Pater an Impressionistic Critic?," PMLA, vol. 53*(December, 1938), PP. 1180-1181. -141-he undertakes is for something not limited to one man's experience, for that quality which is coamon to all sensitive men's impressions of a given work* Such an aim Is certainly objective, requiring careful, analytical thinking* And Pater, in Ms own criticism, adheres to it with remarkable fidelity. In almost all of his major essays, he attempts to analyze and convey the essence, the unique quality, of the artist's work.1 To find that quality the critic must pierce through all that is ac-cidental and individual in his impressions, and find in them their universal, their essence. When Pater seeks the virtue of an artist's work he not only seeks in art something outside himself, but also, in a sense, he seeks truth. The quest for the virtue is a means to an end, that of arriving at a " . . . kind of just criticism and true estimate . . . . "2 To arrive at such a criticism and estimate the critic must first grasp the essential nature of the artist's work. Only with an awareness of that nature can he hope to determine the value of the work itself. A prerequisite for any true critical estimate is , therefore, a perception of the essence of the work of art. Here is one sense in which the critic seeks the truth of art: he seeks its essential nature. Pater's critic, however, also seeks truth in art in quite another sense. The truth which we have seen the critic pursuing in his quest for the virtue of an artist's work has been the truth of the critic's own perception. For Pater, however, there Is also a truth 1 Child, Aesthetic, p* HO. 2 Pater, "Wordsworth," (1874), Appreciations, p. 42. -142-in art itself, a truth which depends not upon the critic hut upon the artist. Pater holds that truth is relative. We can never know absolute truth. All that we can know is the truth of . . . relations that experience gives us, not the truth of eternal outlines ascertained once for a l l , hut a world of fine gradations and subtly linked conditions, shifting intricately as we ourselves change . . . . 1 The truth which we know in our lives is not eternal, fixed and unchanging, but transient, ever-changing, and our grasp of it is the diraci result of our grasp of the fleeting facts - the sights, sounds, tastes, thoughts, and emotions - which impinge upon us in life. "The faculty for truth is recognised as a power of distinguishing and fixing delicate and fugitive detail."2 The world offers us a mass of facts, and " . . . bids us, by a constant clearing of the organs of observation and perfecting of analysis, to make what we can of these."3 The artist is one who observes and analyzes the facts of this world, and then gives us " . . . not fact, but his peculiar sense of fact, whether past or present."4 He offers us not the fact as it exists in the actual world, but a " . . . representation of such' fact as connected with soul, of a specific personality, in its pre-ferences, its volition, and power."5 In his poem the poet gives us 1 Pater, "Coleridge," (1866), Appreciations, p. 68. 2 Ibid., p. 67. 3 Ibid., p. 68. 4 Pater, "Style," (1888), Appreciations, p. 8. 5 Ibid., p. 10. -143-. . . an expression no longer of fact but of his sense of i t , his peculiar intuition of a world, prospective, or discerned below the faulty conditions of the present, in either case ' changed somewhat from the actual wo rid.x Above all else, the artist must endeavour to represent this fusion of fact and soul as It really is: his " . . .will be good . . . art . . . in proportion as its representation of that sense, that soul-fact, is true. "2 The truth of art, therefore, is the truth of the artist's expression to his experience. Truthl there can be no merit, no craft at a l l , without that. And further, all beauty is in the long run only fineness of truth, or what we call expression, the finer accommodation of speech to that vision within.3 In the greatest poets the faculty for truth, the power of fixing and expressing soul-facts in words Is elevated to such a height that his words . . . are themselves thought and feeling; not eloquent, or musical words merely, but that sort of creative language which carries the reality of what it depicts, directly, to the consciousness.4 The truth of a poem, then, is the truth of the expression to the soul-fact. For Pater, truth of style Is truth of art. Because it is so Pater believes that the critic can eventually arrive elose to a true perception of the poet's experience. . . . there is , under the conditions supposed, for those elements of the man, for every lineament of the vision within, the one word, the one acceptable word, recognisable by the sensitive, by others "who have intelligence" in the matter, as absolutely as ever anything can be in the 1 Pater, "Style," (1888), Appreciations, pp. 8-9. 2 Ibid., p. 11. 3 Ibid., p. 10. 4 Pater, "Wordsworth," (1874), Appreciations, p. 58. -144-evanescent and delicate region of human language. The style, the manner, would be the man, not in his un-reasoned and really uncharacteristic caprices, in-voluntary or affected, but in absolutely sincere appre-hension of what is most real to him . . . . If the style be the man, In all the colour and In-tensity of a veritable apprehension, it will be in a real sense "impersonal.'*! In the poet's expression the critic finds an " . . . absolute cor-respondence of the term to its import . . . , "2 and because of this correspondence he i3 justified in seeking to know the poem as in itself it really i s . We have now seen that although Pater builds his critical theories on a belief that man must live every moment of life as intensely as possible, and that to do so he must experience the exquisite impres-sions of art as widely and as fully as possible, Pater does see more in criticism than the mere contemplation and communication of impres-sions. He se es that the critic must use his impressions merely as a means to an end, that of seeing the object as in itself it really is; he sees that the critic must pierce through the personal acciden-tals of his impression of a work to the essence of that impression, and in that essence he will find the virtue, the characteristic quality, of the work as all men of sensitivity can expect to perceive i t ; he sees that the critic must recognize that the poet offers a representation of the soul-fact which is the source of his poem, and if the poet has fulfilled the basic requirement of all poetry -that the term correspond to its import - the critic at least hope to see the poem as in itself it really i s . Above all else, the critic 1 Pater, "Style," (1888), appreciations, pp. 36637. 2 Ibid., p. 38. -145' must heed the poet's caution, "I want you to see precisely what I see."1 Now there is much here that is quite unlike what we should ex-pect in the critical thought of a man who has been termed - by the unthinking - a pure impressionist. And there is even more to come. We are going to see Oscar Wilde declare that the substance of art is of no concern to the critic. Since the work of art is but an in-spiration for the critic's poetic meditation on i t , the substance is of no importance. It can be utterly sordid, utterly insignificant. What matters is the critic's response to i t . As Flaubert could create in Madame Bovary a great work out of the infidelity of a weak woman, so can the critic, Wilde believes, create a great poem out of an inadequate work. Pater would not agree at a l l . He holds that the es-sential of good art is merely " . . . the absolute correspondence of the term to its import . . . ,"^ but this is merely the essential of good art. Good art, but not necessarily great art: the dis-tinction between great art and good art depending im-mediately, as regards literature at all events, not on its form, but on the matter. Thackeray's Esmond, surely, is greater art than Vanity Fair, by the greater dignity of its interest. It is on the quality of the matter it informs or controls, its compass, its variety, its al-liance to great ends, or the depth of the note of re-Volt, or the largeness of hope in i t , that the greatest of literary art depends, as The Divine Comedy, Paradise Lost, Les Miserables. The English Bible, are great art. Given the conditions I have tried to explain as con-stituting good art: - then, if It be devoted further to the increase of men's happiness, to the redemption of the oppressed, or the enlargement of our sympathies with each other, or to such presentment of new or old truth about 1 Pater, "Style," (1888), Appreciations, p. 31. 2 Ibid., p. 38. -146-ourselves and our relation to the world as may ennoble and fortify us in our sojourn here, or immediately, as with Dante, to the glory of God, it will be also great art; i f , over and above those qualities I summed up as mind and soul - that colour end mystic perfume, and that reasonable structure, it has something of the soul of humanity in i t , and finds its logical, its architectural place, in the great structure of human lif e .1 Great art has more than forms it has great substance. It Is, in Arnold's words, a true criticism of life; it offers great ideas profoundly applied to life. Unlike Wilde, Pater sees much more In art than momentary ecstasy. Although an Epicurean, Pater recognizes that * * * Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we diel - is a proposal, the real import of which differs immensely, according to the natural taste, and the acquired judg-ment, of the guests who sit at the table. It may express nothing better than the instinct of Dante's Giacco, the accomplished glutton, in the mud of the Inferno; or, since on no hypothesis does man "live by bread alone," may come to be identical with - "My meat Is to do what is just and kind;" while the soul, which can make no sincere claim to have apprehended anything beyond the veil of immediate experience, yet never loses a sense of happiness in conforming to the highest moral ideal it can clearly define for itself; and actually, though but with so faint hope, does the "Father's business."" For Pater, great art canhelp us to conform to this "highest moral ideal." It offers us, as well as intense stimulation, a guide to liv-ing in such a way that we do the "Father's business." For Pater's critic, "Appreciation of beauty is to be the direct aim, enhancement of life the indirect result"3 of the study of art, and to the degree 1 "Style," (1888), Appreciations, p. 38. 2 Pater, Marius the Epicurean, vol. 1, p. 145. 3 Child, Aesthetic, p. 23. - 1 4 7 -that the critic guides man to an awareness of the truth of the moral ideals of art he achieves this indirect result. We have seen that Pater establishes his criticism on a belief that art exists, and should be studied, for its own sake. However, although this belief is the basis of his critical theories it is but part of a whole. He recognizes that although art does not consciously seek to teach, and althoughwe should not look to it for specific moral lessons, art does, at the same time that it conveys its beauty, vitalize and enrich the ethical spirit of man. As we read King Lear we know the beauty of the play as a work of art, and at the same time we achieve a heightened appreciation of humility as a virtue. The play gives us " . , . sheer intensity, intellectual and eiootional excitement,"^ but at the same time it " . . . actually enlarges and purifies the soul, by developing the emotions and intellect and by holding up a vision of the ideal."2 For Pater the ultimate end of art is, therefore, much more than emotional stimulation. Art offers us an ideal.- ethical and aesthetic • by which to live, an axis about which to centre our lives. . . . for us of the modern world, with its conflicting claims, its entangled interests, distracted D y so many sorrows, with many preoccupations, so bewildering an experience, the pro-blem of unity with ourselves, in blltheness and repose, is far harder than it was for the Greek within the simple terms of antique life. Yet, not less than ever, the intellect de-mands completeness, centrality.3 1 Child, Aesthetic, p. 10. 2 Loc. cit. 3 Pater, "Winckelmann," (1867), Renaissance, p. 227. -148-In art we can find a solution to " . . . the eternal problem of cul-ture - balance, unity with one's self • . . . 1,1 We can derive a perception of "completeness, . . . perfectly rounded wholeness and unity . • . , " and try to give our own lives a similar wholeness and unity. In art, Pater suggests, we may find the oneness which our mortal lives so desperately lack. It must be obvious that if we are to know these higher benefits of art - ethical guidance, unity of life - we must try to see the work of art as clearly as possible as it really is. Pater recog-nizes that we must make every effort to stand with the artist. The further we move from the artist, the more VJQ allow our own personali-ties to enter into our response to his work, the less likely we are to perceive the true nature of the ideals which that work embodies and which could lead us along the path to spiritual peace. Pater is an impressionist, but he recognizes that personal impressions are but the means to a true perception. 1 Pater,"Winckelmann," (1867), The Renaissance, p. 228. 2 Pater, "Coleridge," (1866), Appreciations, p. 99. VI Th© Full Flowering of the Personal Estimate; Oscar Wilde With Oscar Wilde we come to the last of our group of eight critics and the culmination of the whole development of the personal estimate in nineteenth-century English criticism* For Wilde, as we have already indicated, criticism Is creation, the creation of poems which draw their inspiration from existing works of art* Objectivity is no longer desirable or necessary In criticism; all that matters is that the critic convey the emotions which a work arouses within him. For a clear understanding of Wilde's attitude to life and to art we must recognize the importance of Pater as an influence upon him. When still a young man Wilde discovered Pater's Renaissance, and there, in the Conclusion, read that the aim of men who want to live life to the full must be " . . . to be for ever curiously testing new opinions and courting new impressions • . . . "x We must live intensely. "To burn always with this hard, gemlike flame, to maintain this ecstasy, Is success In life."2 We have now seen enough of Pater to appreciate that when he wrote his Conclusion he did not intend to lead men into a life of licence. All that he did intend was to establish his own position as an Epicurean, and to in-dicate the value of art to the Epicurean mans 1 (1868), p. 237. 2 Ibid., p. 236. -150-. . . art comes to you proposing frankly to give nothing but the highest quality to your moments as they pass, and simply for those moments* sake.l Wilde, however, gave Pater's words the broadest possible application, and built his life about his own interpretation of the advice, "What we have to do is to be for ever curiously testing new opinions and couring new impressions."2 JJow i t i g 0 b v £ o u s that whatever value Pater's advice here may have in our journey through the world of art, it can be highly dangerous when applied to life. It can lead us to ~ justify every indulgence of our beings as a new sensation, a new im-pression. Carried to an extreme, it can lead us to Wilde's own position, that sin is to be courted as a source of new sensations "By its curiosity Sin Increases the experience of the race. Through its intesnified assertion of individualist it saves us from monotony of type."3 Every possible crime, every conceivable perversion of the human being becomes acceptable when such a view is carried to its logical end. Wilde's attitude towards life is the same as his attitude towards Beaudelaire*s poetrys " . . . suffer it to tell even one of Its secrets to your soul, and your soul will grow eager to know more, and will feed upon poisonous honey . . . . "4 He hungers for sensation, and in both Salome' and The Picture of Dorian Gray we find a disturbingly real indication 1 Pater, The Renaissance, Conclusion, (1868), p. 239. 2 Ibid., p. 237. 3 The Critic as Artist, I, Intentions, p. 130. 4 Ibid., II, p. 166. -151-b'f the intensity of his hunger. Live! live the wonderful life that is in you. Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for"new sensations. Be afraid of nothing . . . . A new Hedonism - that is what our century wants.l In his search for the most intense life possible, however, Wilde found that the impressions, the sensations, of art were keener, more satisfying than those of li f e , and to art he turned as a cat turns to a dish of rich cream, eager for the sensuous delight awaiting i t . Art could give him the perfection of experience which life could only approximate. Life. Life. Don't let us go to life for our fulfilment or our experience. It Is a thing narrowed by circumstances, incoherent in its utterance, and without that fine correspondence of form and spirit which is the only thing that can satisfy the artistic and critical temperament.2 He turned to art in search of an almost physical sort of pleasure, and because his concern was constantly the sensations to be found in art, his critical theories are, as we should expect based firmly on an acceptance of personal impressions. For Wilde the aim of art is " . . . simply to create a mood."3 He reads Coleridge's Ancient Mariner and is left with certain impres-sions of i t . These blend into a mood, and that mood is the end of art. Now that mood will be a purely personal experience, and when we do not undertake Pater's calm analysis of i t , it must remain a personal experience. We do not seek to ensure that it will be the 1 Wilde, Oscar, The Picture of Dorian Gray, (1891$, in Plays, Prose Writings, and Poems, London, J. M. Dent & Sons, 1945. 2 Wilde, The Critic as Artist, II, Intentions, p.167. 3 Ibid., p. 177. -153-Now it is all very well to say that criticism which conveys the mood of a critic while under the spell of a work is justified because . . . the critic, since he is usually, unlike the socialist artist, a man of wide and varied culture, can relate the work he discusses to realms of thought and imagination beyond its immediate reference j1 and to declare that Pater's meditation on the Mona Lisa makes the paint-ing " . • . more wonderful to us than it really is, and reveals to us a. secret of which In truth it knows nothing . . . . "2 Perhaps Pater's communication of his mood is justified. But are we to recognize any man's mood as a criticism of art? We may easily pardon Walter Pater for looking at Leonardo's famous picture and reading into it a meaning which Leonardo himself did not intend to be read there. But what was likely to happen had any one of those middle-class philistines, against whom Wilde himself railed so heartily, looked at "La Gioconda"?3 If the aim of art is simply to create a mood, and if criticism itself is merely a mood, surely the mood created in any man Is criticism as sound as that created xn anyone else. Wilde himself has said that we are not to try to see the work as in itself it really i s . Wilde, however, does not go quite so far as this seemingly logical end of his theory. He does make one requirement of the critic. He does not demand that the critic be rational (for art appeals not to the reason, but to the irrational sense of beauty) 54 nor does he demand 1 Woodcock, George, The Paradox of Oscar Wilde, London, T. V. Board-man, 1950, p. 128. 2 Wilde, The Critic as Artist, I, Intentions, p. 143. 3 Kennedy, J., English Literature, 1880-1905, London, Stephen Swift & Co., 1912, p. 82. 4 Wilde, pp. cit., II, p. 190. -154-that he be sincere or fair (for sincerity and fairness are of the •world of ethics and morality, and art is not directed to this world);1 but he does demand that he be possessed of " . . . a temperament exquisitely susceptible to beauty, and to the various impressions that beauty gives us."2 The critic will be a man who has developed this temperament through a long sojourn in the world of art. That sojourn will have developed his sensitivity to beauty, his taste, and with this cultivated sensitivity he will be able to discern the true beauty of art. The impressions of a man with this cultivated sensi-tivity, and the mood into which those impressions blend, will provide the only true criticism of art. For Wilde " . . . the primary aim of the critic is to see the object as in itself it really is not . . . . 1,3 Even as the poet can find in his experiencing of the meanest flower that grows a depth and power which do not lie in the actual flower, so must the critic find in his experiencing of a work of art a depth aid power which may not really lie in the actual work. As the flower is less important than the poet's experience, so Is the work of art less Important than the critic's mood: "It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors."4 What the critic offers us is, therefore, in a very literal sense, a poem. Like the poet, the critic experiences the emotional power of something in life - a work of art - and he conveys his experience 1 Wilde, The Critic as Artist, II, Intentions, p. 191. 2 Ibid., p. 194. 3 Ibid., I, p. 146. 4 Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Preface, p. 70. -155-to the reader. "The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things."1 Rather than try-to rise above the personal, the individual, in his response to art, the critic consciously seeks to communicate i t : . . . it is only by intensifying his own personality that the critic can interpret the personality and work of others, and the more strongly this personality enters into the in-terpretation the more real the interpretation becomes, the more satisfying, the more convincing, and the more true.2 The critic acknowledges no responsibility to either the artist or the reader: . . . Criticism, being the purest form of personal impres-sion, is in its way more creative than creation, as it has least reference to any standard external to itself, and i s , in fact, its own reason for existing, and, as the Greeks would put i t , in itself, and to itself an end.3 As well as allowing the poet almost full freedom in his representation of what life has meant to him - a representation limited only by the requirements of intelligibility - we must also allow the critic free-dom. In short, for Wilde the critic is a poet, and his criticism of-fers as intensely personal a response as does the poet's poem. Cri-ticism . . . treats the work of art simply as a starting-point for a new creation. It does not confine itself . . . to dis-covering the real intention of the artist and accepting that as final. And in this it is right, for the meaning of any beautiful created thing i s , at least, as much in the soul of him who looks at i t , as it was in his soul who wrought i t .4 1 Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Preface, p. 69. 2 Wilde, The Critic as Artist, II, Intentions, p. 156. 3 Ibid., I, p. 139. 4 Ibid., I, pp. 143-144. -156-What we have In Hide's theory of criticism i s , therefore, the reduotio ad absurdum of the personal estimate. Wordsworth and Cole-ridge would have rejected i t ; Lamb, Hazlitt, and De Quincey might have smiled sympathetically, but would have recognized its extreme position; Arnold would have denounced i t ; and Pater would have denied that he intended anything of the sort in his impressionism. When we accept the function of criticism as the communication of a purely personal mood which has no more relation to the work of art - in fact, less - than a poem has to the actual object which inspired i t , we lose sight of the fundamental requirement of cri-ticism, the requirement that all critics, from Aristotle on, have recognizeds that it help the reader to a clearer grasp of the artist's intention. Wilde's criticism offers no such help, but, rather, leads the reader ever further from the poem. The poet's truth remains unseen on the peak in Darien while the critic leads us through the shadowy valleys of his own soul. In The Critic as Artist Gilbert (who is Wilde himself) declares, "I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world."! I cannot but think of Wilde's critic as a dreamer who tries to lead us to beauty by moonlight, but who never sees the dawn. He remains always in the moonlight of his own being, and never finds the clear sunlight of the poet's inspiration. 1 II, Twtentions, p. -157-We have seen that when Pater recognizes that great art offers an ideal for l i f e , he stresses that i f we are to know the higher bene-fit of art we must stand with the poet and see what he sees. Wilde, however, does not require greatness of substance in art. The critic . . . does not even require for the perfection of his art the finest materials. Anything will serve his purpose . . . . To an artist so creative as the critic, what does subject-matter signify? Mo more and no less than it does to the novelist and the painter. Like them, he can find his motives everywhere. Treatment is the test. There is nothing that has not in it suggestion or challenge.1 For Wilde, all that matters in criticism is the communication of deli cious impressions, and for the critic truth of art is no more than "one's last mood."2 Criticism and the personal estimate have here become one and the same. Since we are not to expect ultimate truths from art, there Is no need - in fact there is a danger in attempting to see the work as in itself it really is. Before leaving Wilde, however, we should note one amazing pas-sage in The Critic as Artist. In the midst of all the witty, para-doxical play of the dialogues, Wilde suddenly speaks (through Gil-bert) in a tone of utter seriousness, and what he says hits one with its striking contrast to what lies before and afters Ordinary people are 'terribly at ease in Zion.' They pro-pose to walk arm in arm with the Poets, and have a glib ig-norant my of saying, 'Why should we read what is written about Shakespeare and Milton? We can read the plays and the poems. That is enough.' But an appreciation of Milton is « . . the reward of consummate scholarship. And he who desires to understand Shakespeare truly must understand the 1 Wilde, The Critic as Artist, I, Intentions, p. 138. 2 Ibid., II, p. 188. -158-relatlons in which Shakespeare stood to the Renaissance and the Reformation, to the age of Elizabeth and the age of James; he must be familiar with the history of the struggle for supremacy between the old classical forms and the new spirit of romance, between the school of Sidney, and Daniel, and Johnson [sicj> and the school of Marlowe and Marlowe's greater son; he must know the materials that were at Shakespeare's disposal., and the method in which he used them, and the conditions of theatric presentation in the sixteenth and seventeenth century, their limitations and their opportunities for freedom, and the literary criticism of Shakespeare's day, its aims and modes and canons; he must study the English language in its progress, and blank or rhymed verse in Its various developments; he must study the Greek drama, and the connection between the art of the creator of the Agamemnon and the art of the creator of Macbeth; in a word, he must be able to bind Eliza-bethan London to the Athens of Pericles, and to learn Shakespeare's true position in the history of European drama and the drama of the world. The critic will cer-tainly be an interpreter, but he will not treat Art as a riddling Sphinx, whose shallow secret may be guessed and revealed by one whose feet are wounded and who knows not his name. Rather, he will look upon Art as a goddess whose mystery it is his province to intensify, and whose majesty his privilege to make more marvellous in the eyes of men.1 Wilde here speaks as Coleridge or Arnold might have spoken. He re-cognizes that the critic must make every effort to see s.s the poet sees. However, the passa.ge is unique in the dialogues, and must, I fear, be taken as an aberration in Wilde's theories. It is not compatible with the rest of his writings. With Pater and Wilde we come to the end of our survey of the de-velopment of the personal estimate in our group of nineteenth-century critics. We have seen Pater stress the importance of the initial 1 II, Intentions, pp. 154-155. -159-irapression in criticism, but we have seen him recognize that that impression is but a means to the critic's clear appreciation of the work as in itself it really is? and we have seen Wilde accept the impression, the mood, as the end of art, and the communication of that mood as the end of criticism. On Wordsworth's and Coleridge's original base of emotional stimulation and personal pleasure as the essence of art we have seen Wilde, the pure impressionist, erect the structure of the entirely personal estimate and offer that as a theory of criticism. vn Conclusion The time has now come to draw together the various threads of this survey? to see what sort of pattern they offer, and to see what lesson we can draw from them. I believe that they reveal a very clear development in the attitude towards the whole question of the personal response in criticism. From Wordsworth to Wilde there is a constant, sustained interest In the problem. Some of the eight critics whom I have considered build their entire theory of criticism on an unquestioning acceptance of the personal response; others accept that response as the basis of their theory, but demand more of the critic than a mere revelation of his own sensibility. A l l , however, recognize that the critic of poetry must speak from the heart, and, no matter what else he may do, be must lay the cornerstone of his criticism on the firm bedrock of a sincere personal appreciation. Whether he seeks with Coleridge to analyze the riches of the poet's imaginative expression, with De Quincey to gauge the significance of literature, with Arnold to reveal the criticism of life implicit in poetry, with Wilde to express his feelings while in the presence of art -the critic, as conceived of by all eight of these men, begins his cri-ticism with an appreciation of the emotional power of poetry, its appeal to the heart of man. For all of them criticism begins in a personal response. Although they agree that the personal response must be the cornerstone of criticism, however, they do not agree on the extent to which the critic -161-should depend upon that response as a sure guide t o a true e s t i -mate. Wordsworth and Coleridge both accept personal emotion and personal pleasure s.s the source and end of poetry, but both are very much aware of the ds,nger that t h e i r concept of poetry can lead to quite groundless c r i t i c i s m . Both see that personal prejudices and a s s o c i a t i o n s can in f l u e n ce our emotional response and lead us i o over-value works which agree with our prejudices or arouse pleasant personal a s s o c i a t i o n s , and t o under-value those which c l a s h with our prejudices or arouse disagreeable personal a s s o c i a t i o n s . In other words, Wordsworth and Coleridge see the danger of the personal e s t i -mate. Lamb, H a z l i t t , and De Quineey b u i l d t h e i r c r i t i c a l t h e o r i e s on a frank acceptance of t h e i r own response, t h e i r own impressions, as the great value of a r t . Lamb admits that prejudices affect h i s pleasure in art, and i n f l u e n c e h i s judgment, but he sees no harm i n t h i s s for Lamb, i f the c r i t i c f r a n k l y r e v e a l s a s incere f e e l i n g f o r a work of a r t he has done h i s duty. H a z l i t t places a s i m i l a r stress on the pleasure r e s u l t i n g from the impressions of a r t . He says what he t h i n k s about a r t ; he t h i n k s what he f e e l s . For him there i s but one other guide i n c r i t i c i s m , and that i s the consensus of opinion amongst men of t a s t e , men of s e n s i b i l i t y and knowledge, De Quineey, t o o , accepts h i s impressions as the b a s i s of c r i t i c a l judgment. For him the great value of l i t e r a t u r e i s the sense of power, of s u b l i m i t y , which those impressions can b r i n g to the human being. T h i s power r i s e s i n us with the st imulat ion of our emotions, and i s , t h e r e f o r e , a personal -162-experience. Arnold rejects criticism based entirely upon the personal response. He recognizes that emotional stimulation and personal pleasure play a great part in the poetic activity, but he recognizes, too, that poetry offers a revelation of the Ideas of l i f e . To the extent that we allow personal associations to affect our response to the poet's suggestions we blind ourselves to these Ideasi we deprive ourselves of a perception of truth by letting our own individual natures cast their mists about the poet's illumination. For Arnold the personal response Is essential to criticism, but i t i s merely a means to a higher end, that of seeing the object - the real nature of the poem -as i n i t s e l f i t really i s , and so perceiving truth. Pater lays renewed stress upon impressions as the basis of criticism, but recognizes that our impressions of a work of art -necessary though they are to our experiencing of the work - are but the matter which we must contemplate until we arrive at a perception of the essence, the unique quality of that work. Like Arnold, he recognizes, too, that great art offers us the ideals of l i f e embodied in great matter. If we are to know the essence of a work and the ideals which i t embodies, we must know more than purely personal impressions. Impressions alone can give us but a personal estimate; the contemplation of those impressions can lead us to a real estimate based on...a perception of the essence, and the ideals, of the work. Wilde follows Pater In the stress on impressions, but makes his impressions of a work the starting-point for a new work of art, his ex-jssion of his feelings while contemplating the original work. Anything pres -163-within him that associates itself with that work is a justifiable part of his criticism. As the poet creates a new work of art out of his experience of something in li f e , so does the critic create a new work of art out of his experience of something In art. And as a. poem is a purely personal expression of one man's feelings about something, so is a criticism. In other vrords, for Wilde criticism is, in the strictest sense, a personal estimate. In these eight critics we find, therefore, a sort of extended sine curve of development: At the initial point of the curve (1) we find Wordsworth's and Cole-ridge's balanced recognition of the rightful place of the personal response in criticism, but the latent danger of the personal estimate. In the first decline of the curve (2) we find Lamb's, Hazlitt's, and De Quineey's great stress on impressions in their response to art, and their acceptance of personal a.ssocla.tions - and the resultant pos-sibly personal estimate - as a justifiable part of that response. With Arnold's and Pater's desire to see the object as In itself it really is the curve inclines to a peak (3). Then, with Wilde's belief that cri-ticism is but a matter of expressing all that poetry rouses in us -whether what we feel has its source in the poem or in ourselves - we decline again to the very depths of the personal estimate.(4). What, then, cs.n I offer as a conclusion from this study of the place of the personal estimate i n the theories of these eight c r i t i c s ? A l l of them do, I believe, follow the right path i n recognizing that poetry must be personally appreciated. Ke who seeks to e s t i -mate poetry by standing outside I t , and applying merely tests of form and substance, can never know the true effect of a poem; each of us must enter into a personal union with the poet. However, some of them, notably Wilde, so, I believe, lose sight of thei r duty as c r i t i c s when they read Into a poem th e i r own experience of l i f e . A poem exists to be known. We can never t r u l y know It i f we allow the colouring of our own natures to distort our perception of i t . We must constantly keep In mind that It Is a whole, an entity. I t does not exist to be enlarged by the addition of our natures. We must accept i t as i t i s , avoiding a l l temptation to add ourselves to i t . High a r t , indeed, though not indifferent, may r i s e above i t s object; c r i t i c i s m cannot - obviously cannot - above what i t i s reading, viewing or hearing, to be interpreted or appreciated and judged.1 If we can hold fast to t h i s t r u t h , a tr u t h which the greatest of these eight c r i t i c s - Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Arnold - recognize, we can avoid the p i t f a l l of the personal estimate, and eventually hope to come close to a just interpretation, a sound appreciation, a rea l estimate of poetry. 1 S t o i l , SLH, p. 328. Bibliography Arnold, Matthew, Essays by Matthew Arnold. Oxford University Press, 1914, , Essays in Criticism, First Series (1865), London, Macmillan, 1902. , Essays in Criticism. Second Series (1888), London, Macmillan, 1905. , The Poetical Works of Matthew Arnold, ed., Sir A.T. Qwiller-Couch, Oxford University Press, 1909. , Representative Essays of Matthew Arnold, ed., E.K. Brown, Toronto, Macmillan, 1936. 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