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I have feen an obfervation upon this fubject in a French author, which very much pleafed me. It is in Monfieur Freart's parallel of the ancient and modern architecture. I fhall give it the reader with the fame terms of art which he has made ufe of. 'I am obferving,' fays he, thing, which, in my opinion, is very curious, whence it proceeds, that in the fame quantity of fuperficies, the one manner feems great and magnificent, and the other poor and trifling; the reafon is fine and uncommon. I fay then, that to introduce into architecture this grandeur of manner, we ought fo to proceed, that the divifion of the principal members of the ⚫ order may confift but of few parts, that they ⚫ be all great and of a bold and ample relievo, and fwelling; and that the eye beholding nothing little and mean, the imagination may be · more vigorously touched and affected with the work that ftands before it. For example; in · a cornice, if the gola or cymatium of the co· rona, the coping, the modillions or dentelli, make a noble fhow by their graceful projections, if we fee none of that ordinary confufion which is the refult of thofe little cavities, quarter rounds of the aftragal, and I know not how many other intermingled particulars, which produce no effect in great and maffy works, and which very unprofitably take up place to the prejudice of the principal member, it is moft certain that this manner will appear folemn and great; as on the contrary, that it will have but a poor and mean effect, where there is a redundancy of thofe fmaller ornaments, which divide and scatter the angles of the fight into fuch a multitude of rays, fo preffed together that the whole will appear but a confufion.'
cle, and the hands of the moft High have bend'ed it.'
Having thus fpoken of that greatness which affects the mind in architecture, I might next fhew the pleafure that rifes in the imagination from what appears new and beautiful in this art; but as every beholder has naturally a greater tafte of thefe two perfections in every building which offers itself to his view, than of that which I have hitherto confidered, I shall not trouble my reader with any reflexions upon it. It is fufficient for my prefent purpose to obferve, that there is nothing in this whole art which pleafes the imagination, but as it is great, uncommon, or beautiful.
Among all the figures. in architecture, there are none that have a greater air than the concave and the convex, and we find in all the ancient and modern architecture, as well in the remote parts of China, as in countries nearer home, that round pillars and vaulted roofs make a great part of those bulldings which are defigned for pomp and magnificence. The reafon I take to be, because in thefe figures we generally fee more of the body than in thofe of other kinds. There are, indeed, figures of bodies, where the eye may take in two-thirds of the furface: but as in fuch bodies the fight muft split upon several angles, it does not take in one uniform idea, but feveral ideas of the fame kind. Look upon the outfide of a dome, your eye half furrounds it; look up into the infide, and at one glance you have all the profpect of it; the entire concavity falls into your eye at once, the fight being as the center that collects and gathers into it the lines of the whole circumference: in a fquare pillar, the fight often takes in but a fourth part of the furface; and in a fquare concave, muft move up and down to the different fides, before it is master of all the inward furface. For this reafon, the fancy is infinitely more ftruck with the view of the open air, and fkies. that paffes through an arch, than what comes through a fquare, or any other figure. The figure of the rainbow does not contribute lefs to its magnificence, than the colours to its beauty, as it is very poetically defcribed by the fon of Sirach: Look upon the rainbow, and praife him, that made it; very beautiful it is in its brightnefs; it encompaffes the heavens with a glorious cir
No 416. FRIDAY, JUNE 27.
Quatenús boc fimile eft oculis, quod mente videmus.
-Objects ftill appear the fame
To mind and eye, in colour and in frame.
At first divided the pleasures of the imagination into fuch as arife from objects that are actually before our eyes, or that once entered in at our eyes, and are afterwards called up into the mind either barely by its own operations, or on occafion of fomething without us, as ftatues, or defcriptions. We have already confidered the firft divifion, and shall therefore enter on the other, which, for diftinction fake, I have called the fecondary pleasures of the imagination. When I fay the ideas we receive from ftatues, defcriptions, or fuch like occafions, are the fame that were once actually in our view, it must not be underftood that we had once seen the very place, action, or perfon which are carved or defcribed. It is fufficient, that we have feen places, perfons, or actions in general which bear a resemblance, or at least fome remote analogy, with what we find reprefented, fince it is in the power of the imagination, when it is once ftocked with particular ideas, to enlarge, compound, and vary them at her own pleasure.
Among the different kinds of reprefentation, ftatuary is the most natural, and fhews us fomething likeft the object that is reprefented. To make use of a common inftance, let one, who is born blind, take an image in his hands, and trace out with his fingers the different furrows and impreffions of the chiffel, and he will eafily conceive how the fhape of a man, or beast, may be repre fented by it; but fhould he draw his hand over a picture, where all is fmooth and uniform, he would never be able to imagine how the several prominencies and depreffions of a human body could be fhewn on a plain piece of canvas, that has in it no unevennefs or irregularity. Defcription runs yet farther from the things it reprefents than painting; for a picture bears a real refemblance to its original, which letters and fyllables are wholly void of. Colours speak all languages, but words are understood only by fuch a people or nation. For this reason, though men's neceffities quickly put them on finding out fpeech, writing is probably of a later invention than painting; particularly we are told that in America, when the Spaniards first arrived there, expreffes were fent to the emperor of Mexico in paint, and the news of his country delineated by the
the ftrokes of a pencil, which was a more natural way than that of writing, though at the fame time much more imperfect, because it is impoffible to draw the little connections of fpeech, or to give the picture of a conjunction or an adverb. It would yet be more strange, to reprefent vifible objects by founds that have no ideas annexed to them, and to make fomething like defcription in mufic. Yet it is certain, there may be confufed, imperfect notions of this nature raised in the imagination by an artificial compofition of notes; and we find that great matters in the art are able, fometimes, to fet their hearers in the heat and hurry of a battle, to overcast their minds with melancholy fcenes and apprehenfions of deaths and funerals, or to lull them into pleafing dreams of groves and ely fiuins.
In all these instances, this fecondary pleasure of the imagination, proceeds from that action of the mind, which compares the ideas arifing from the original objects, with the ideas we receive from the ftatue, picture, defcription, or found that reprefents them. It is impoffible for us to give the neceffary reafon, why this operation of the mind is attended with fo much pleasure, as I have before obferved on the fame occafion; but we find a great variety of entertainments derived from this fingle principle: for it is this that not only gives us a relish of ftatuary, painting and defcription, but makes us delight in all the actions and arts of mimicry. It is this that makes the several kinds of wit pleafant, which confifts, as I have formerly fhewn, in the affinity of ideas: and we may add, it is this alfo that raifes the little fatisfaction we fometimes find in the different forts of falfe wit; whether it confifts in the affinity of letters, as an anagram, acroftic; or of fyllabies, as in doggrel rhymes, echoes; or of words, as in puns, quibbles; or of a whole fentence or poem, as wings and altars. The final caufe, probably, of annexing pleasure to this operation of the mind, was to quicken and encourage us in our fearches after truth, fince the diftinguish
ing one thing from another, and the right difcerning betwixt our ideas, depends wholly upon our comparing them together, and obferving the congruity or difagreement that appears among
the feveral works of nature.
But I fhall here confine myself to thofe pleafures of the imagination, which proceed from ideas raised by words, because most of the obfervations that agree with defcriptions, are equally applicable to painting and statuary.
Words, when well chofen, have fo great a force in them, that a description often gives us more lively ideas than the fight of things themfelves. The reader finds a fcene drawn in ftronger colours, and painted more to the life in his imagination, by the help of words than by an actual furvey of the feene which they defcribe. In this cafe the poet feems to get the better of nature; he takes, indeed, the land'skip after her, but gives it more vigorous touches, heightens its Beauty, and fo enlivens the whole piece, that the images which flow from the objects themselves appear weak and faint, in comparison of thofe that come from the expreffions. The reafon, probably, may be, becaufe in the furvey of any object, we have only fo much of it painted on the imagination, as comes in at the eye; but in its defcription, the poet gives us as free a view of it, as he pleases, and difcovers to us feveral parts,
that either we did not attend to, or that lay out of our fight when we first beheld it. As we look on any object, our idea of it is, perhaps made up of two or three fimple ideas; when the poet represents it, he may either give us a more complex idea of it, or only raise in us fuch ideas as are most apt to affect the imagination.
It may be here worth our while to examine how it comes to pass that several readers, who are all acquainted with the fame language, and know the meaning of the words they read, fhould nevertheless have a different relish of the fame" defcriptions. We find one transported with a paffage, which another runs over with coldness and indifference, or finding the reprefentation extremely natural, where another can perceive nothing of a likeness and conformity. This different tafte muft proceed either from the perfection of imagination in one more than in another, or from the different ideas that feveral readers affix to the fame words. For, to have a true relifh, and form a right judgment of a defcription, a man should be born with a good imagination, and must have well weighed the force and energy that lie in the feveral words of a language, fo as to be able to distinguish which are most fignifi cant and expreffive of their proper ideas, and what additional strength and beauty they are capable of receiving from conjunction with others. The fancy must be warm, to retain the print of thofe images it hath received from outward objects, and the judgment dicerning, to know what expreffions are moft proper to clothe and adorn them to the beft advantage. A man who is deficient in either of these respects, though he may receive the general notion of a defcription, can never fee diftinctly all its particular beauties; as a perfon with a weak fight may have the confused profpect of a place that lies before him, without entering into its several parts, or discerning the variety of its colours in their full glory and perfection. σ
Homer, Virgil, and Ovid. The first strikes the imagination wonderfully with what is great, the fecond with what is beautiful, and the last with what is ftrange. Reading the Iliad, is like travelling through a country uninhabited, where the fancy is entertained with a thousand savage profpects of vaft deferts, wide uncultivated marthes, huge forests, mis-shapen rocks and precipices. On the contrary, the Æneid is like a well ordered garden, where it is impoffible to find out any part unadorned or to caft our eyes upon a fingle spot, that does not produce fome beautiful plant or flower. But when we are in the Metamorphofis we are walking on enchanted ground, and fee nothing but fcenes of magic lying round us.
the imagination; fuch a particular smell or colour is able to fill the mind, on a fudden, with the picture of the fields or gardens where we first met with it, and to bring up into view all the variety of images that once attended it. Our imagination takes the hint, and leads us unexpectedly into cities or theatres, plains or meadows. We may further obferve, when the fancy thus reflects on the fcenes that have paft in it formerly, thofe, which were at first pleasant to behold, appear more fo upon reflection, and that the memory heightens the delightfulness of the original. A Cartefian would account for both thefe inftances in the following manner.
The fet of ideas which we received from fuch a profpect or garden, having entered the mind at the fame time, have a fet of traces belonging to them in the brain, bordering very near one upon another; when, therefore, any one of thefe ideas arifes in the imagination, and confequently difpatches a flow of animal fpirits to its proper trace, thefe fpirits, in the violence of their motion, run not only into the trace, to which they were particularly directed, but into feveral of thofe that lie about it. By this means they awaken other ideas of the fame fet, which immediately determine a new dif
Η, και κυανέησιν ἐπ ̓ ὀφρὺσι νεῦσε Κρονίων,
patch of fpirits, that in the fame manner open ̓Αμβρόσιαι δ ̓ ἄρα χαῖται ἐπεῤῥώσονο ἄνακος,
Κρατὸς ἀπ ̓ ἀθανάτοιο.
μέγαν δ ̓ ἐλέλιξεν
other neighbouring traces, till at last the whole fet of them is blown up, and the whole profpe& or garden flourishes in the imagination. But because the pleasure we received from these places far furmounted, and overcame the little difagreeableness we found in them; for this reason there was at first a wider paffage worn in the pleasure traces, and on the contrary, fo narrow a one in thofe which belonged to the difagreeable ideas, that they were quickly ftopt up, and rendered incapable of receiving any animal fpirits, and confequently of exciting any unpleasant ideas in the memory.
It would be in vain to inquire, whether the power of imagining things ftrongly proceeds from any greater perfection in the foul, or from any nicer texture in the brain of one man than of another: but this is certain, that a noble writer fhould be born with this faculty in its full ftrength and vigour, fo as to be able to receive lively ideas from outward objects, to retain them long, and to range them together, upon occafion, in fuch figures and reprefentatlons as are most likely to hit the fancy of the reader. A poet should take as much pains in forming his imagination, as a philofopher in cultivating his underftanding. He must gain a due relifh of the works of nature, and be thoroughly converfant in the various fcenery of a country life.
When he is stored with country images, if he would go beyond pastoral, and the lower kinds of poetry, he ought to acquaint himfelf with the pomp and magnificence of courts. He fhould be very well verfed in every thing that is noble and stately in the productions of art, whether it appear in painting or statuary, in the great works of architecture which are in their prefent glory, or in the ruins of those which flourished in former ages.
Such advantages as thefe help to open a man's thoughts, and to enlarge his imagination, and will therefore have their influence on all kinds of writing, if the author knows how to make right ufe of them. And among thofe of the learned languages who excel in this talent, the moit perfect in their several kinds arc perhaps
Homer is in his province, when he is defcribing a battle or a multitude, a hero or a god. Virgil is never better pleased, than when he is in his Elyfium, or copying out an entertaining picture. Homer's epithets generally mark out what is great. Virgil's what is agreeable. Nothing can be more magnificent than the figure Jupiter makes in the firft Iliad, nor more charming than that of Venus in the first Æneid.
IL. lib. 1. v. 528.
He spoke and awful bends his fable brows; Shakes his ambrofial curls, and gives the nod, The ftamp of fate, and fanction of the God: High heav'n with trembling the dread fignal
And all Olympus to the center fhook.
Dixit & avertens rofeâ cervice refulfit:
EN. I. V. 406.
Homer's perfons are most of them godlike and
ÆN. I. V. 594.
And gave his rolling eyes a sparkling grace,
In a word, Homer fills his readers with fublime ideas, and, I believe, has raifed the imagination of all the good poets that have come after him. I fhall only inftance Horace, who immediately takes fire at the first hint of any paffage in the Iliad or Odyffey, and always rifes above himself, when he has Homer in his view, Virgil has drawn together, into his Æneid, all the pleafing scenes his fubject is capable of admitting, and in his Georgics has given us a collection of the mol
most delightful landskips that can be made out of fields and woods, herds of cattle, and fwarms
Ovid, in his Metamorphofis, has fhewn us how the imagination may be affected by what is ftrange. He defcribes a miracle in every ftory, and always gives us the fight of fome new creature at the end of it. His art confifts chiefly in well-timing his defcription, before the firft fhape is quite worn off, and the new one perfectly finished; fo that he every where entertains us with fomething we never faw before, and fhews monster after monster to the end of the Metamorphofis.
If I were to name a poet that is a perfect mafter in all these arts of working on the imagination, I think Milton may pafs for one; and if his Paradife Loft falls fhort of the Eneid or Iliad in this respect, it proceeds rather from the fault of the language in which it is written, than from any defect of genius in the author. So divine a poem in English, is like a ftately palace built of brick, where one may fee architecture in as great a perfection as in one of marble, though the materials are of a coarfer nature. But to confider it only as it regards our prefent fubject; what can be conceived greater than the battle of angels, the majefty of Meffiah, the ftature and behaviour of Satan and his peers? What more beautiful than Pandemonium, Paradife, Heaven, Angels, Adam and Eve? What more strange, than the creation of the world, the feveral metamorphofes of the fallen angels, and the furprifing adventures their leader meets with in his fearch after Paradife? No other fubject could have furnished a poet with fcenes fo proper to ftrike the imagination, as no other poet could have painted thofe fcenes in more strong and lively colours. O
N° 418. MONDAY, JUNE 30.
-feret & rubus afper amomum. VIRG. Ecl, 3. v. 89 The rugged thorn shall bear the fragrant rose. HE pleasures of these fecondary views of T the imagination, are of a wider and more univerfal nature than thofe it has when joined with fight; for not only what is great, ftrange or beautiful, but any thing that is difagreeable when looked upon, pleases us in an apt defcrip+ tion. Here, therefore, we must enquire after a new principle of pleasure, which is nothing elfe but the action of the mind, which compares the ideas that arise from words, with the ideas that arife from the objects themselves; and why this operation of the mind is attended with fo much
pleasure, we have before confidered. For this reafon therefore, the defcription of a dunghill is pleafing to the imagination, if the image be reprefented to our minds by fuitable expreffions; though perhaps, this may be more properly called the pleafure of the understanding than of the fancy, because we are not fo much delighted with the image that is contained in the description, as with the aptnefs of the defcription to excite the image.
here we are not only delighted with comparing the reprefentation with the original, but are highly pleafed with the original itself. Most readers, I believe, are more charmed with Milton's description of paradife, than of hell; they are both, perhaps, equally perfect in their kind, but in the one the brimstone and fulphur are not fo refreshing to the imagination, as the beds of flowers and the wilderness of fweets in the other.
But if the defcription of what is little, common, or deformed, be acceptable to the imagination, the defcription of what is great, furprifng, of beautiful, is much more fo; becaufe
There is yet another circumstance which recommends a defcription more than all the reft, and that is if it reprefents to us fuch objects as are apt to raise a fecret ferment in the mind of the reader, and to work, with violence, upon his paffions. For, in this cafe, we are at once warmed and enlightened, fo that the pleasure becomes more univerfal, and is several ways qualified to entertain us. Thus in painting, it is pleafant to look on the picture of any face, where the resemblance is hit, but the pleasure increafes, if it be the picture of a face that is beautiful, and is ftill greater, if the beauty be foftened with an air of melancholy or forrow. The two leading paffions which the more serious parts of poetry endeavour to stir up in us,are terror and pity. And here, by the way, one would wonder how it comes to pafs that fuch paffions as are very unpleasant at all other times, are very agreeable when excited by proper defcriptions. It is not strange, that we should take delight in fuch paffages as are apt to produce hope, joy, admiration, love, or the like emotions in us, because they never rife in the mind without an inward pleasure which attends them. But how comes it to pafs, that we should take delight in being terrified or dejected by a defcription, when we find fo much uneafinefs in the fear or grief which we receive from any other occafion?
If we confider, therefore, the nature of this pleasure, we fhall find that it does not arise so properly from the description of what is terrible, as from the reflection we make on ourselves at the time of reading it. When we look on fuch hideous objects, we are not a little pleased to think we are in no danger of them. We confider them, at the fame time, as dreadful and they make, the greater is the pleasure we receive harmless; so that the more frightful appearance look upon the terrors of a defcription, with the from the fenfe of our own fafety. In short, we fame curiofity and fatisfaction that we furvey a
-They drag him from his den.
The wond'ring neighbourhood, with glad fur
our pleasure does not flow fo properly from the grief which fuch melancholy defcriptions give us, as from the fecret comparison which we make between ourselves and the perfon who fuffers. Such reprefentations teach us to fet a juft value
upon our own condition, and make us prize our In pleafing error loft, and charmingly deceiv'd. good, fortune, which exempts us from the like calamities. This is, however, fuch a kind of pleasure as we are not capable of receiving, when we fee a perfon actually lying under the tortures that we meet with in a description; because in this cafe the object preffes too clofe upon our fenfes, and bears fo hard upon us, that it does not give us time or leifure to reflect on ourselves. Our thoughts are fo intent upon the miferies of the fufferer, that we cannot turn them upon our own happiness. Whereas, on the contrary, we confider the misfortunes we read in history or poetry, either as paft, or as fictitious, fo that the reflection upon ourselves rifes in us infenfibly,
and overbears the forrow we conceive for the fufferings of the afflicted.
But because the mind of man requires fomething more perfect in matter, than what it finds there, and can never meet with any fight in nature which fufficiently answers its highest idea of pleasantnefs; or, in other words, because the imagination can fancy to itself things more great, ftrange, or beautiful, than the eye ever faw, and is still sensible of fome defect in what it has feen; on this account it is the part of a poet to humour the imagination in its own notions, by mending and perfecting nature where he describes a reality, and by adding greater beauties than are put together in nature, where he defcribes a fiction.
He is not obliged to attend her in the flow advances which the makes from one season to another, or to obferve her conduct in the fucceffive production of plants and flowers. He may draw into his description all the beauties of the fpring and autumn, and make the whole year contribute fomething to render it the more agreeable. His rofe trees, wood-bines, and jeffamines may flower together, and his beds be covered at the fame time with lillies, violets, and amaranths. His foil is not reftrained to any particular fet of plants, but is proper either for oaks or myrtles, and adapts itself to the products of every climate. Oranges may grow wild in it; myrrh may be met with in every hedge, and if he thinks it proper to have a grove of fpices, he can quickly command fun enough to raise it. If all this will not furnish out an agreeable scene, he can make several new fpecies of flowers, with richer fcents and higher colours than any that grow in the gardens of nature. His concerts of birds may be as full and harmonious, and his woods as thick and gloomy as he pleafes. He is at no more expence of a long vifta, than a fhort one, and can as eafily throw his cafcades from a precipice of half a mile high, as from one of twenty yards. He has his choice of the winds, and can turn the course of his rivers in all the variety of meanders, that are most delightful to the reader's imagination. In a word, he has the modelling of nature in his own hands, and may give her what charms he pleafes, provided he does not reform her too much, and run into abfurdities, by endeavouring to excel.
N° 419. TUESDAY, JULY 1,
HOR. Ep. 2. 1. 2. v. 140.
HERE is a kind of wherein the
Tpoet quite lofes fight of nature, and en
racters and actions of fuch perfons as have many tertains his reader's imagination with the chaof them no exiftence but what he bestows on them. Such are fairies, witches, magicians, dæmons, and departed fpirits. This Mr. Dryden calls the fairy way of writing,' which is, indeed, more difficult than any other that depends on the poet's fancy, because he has no pattern to follow in it, and must work altogether out of his own invention.
for this fort of writing, and it is impoffible for There is a very odd turn of thought required a poet to fucceed in it, who has not a particular caft of fancy, and an imagination naturally fruitful and fuperftitious. Befides this he ought to be very well verfed in legends and fables, antiquated romances, and the traditions of nurfes and old women, that he may fall in with our natural prejudices, and humour those notions which we have imbibed in our infancy. For otherwise ple of his own fpecies, and not like other fets he will be apt to make his fairies talk like peo.. of beings, who converfe with different objects, and think in a different manner from that of mankind.
Sylvis deducti caveant, me judice, Fauni,
I do not fay with Mr. Bays in the Rehearsal, that fpirits must not be confined to speak sense, but it is certain their fenfe ought to be a little difcoloured, that it may feem particular, and proper to the perfon and condition of the fpeaker.
Thefe defcriptions raise a pleasing kind of horror in the mind of the reader, and amufe his imagination with the ftrangeness and novelty of the perfons who are reprefented in them. They bring up into our memory the stories we have heard in our childhood, and favour thofe fecret terrors and apprehenfions to which the mind of man is naturally fubject. We are pleafed with furveying the different habits and behaviours of foreign countries; how much more must we be delighted and furprifed when we are led, as it were, into a new creation, and fee the perfons and manners of another fpecies? Men of cold fancies and philofophical difpofitions, object to this kind of poetry, that it has not probability enough to affect the imagination. But to this it may be anfwered, that we are fure in general, there are many intellectual beings in the world bende ourfelves, and feveral fpecies of fpirits, who are fubject to different laws and economies from thofe of mankind; when we fee, therefore, any of thefe reprefented naturally, we cannot look upon the representation as altogether impoffible; nay, many are prepoffeft with fuch alfe opinions, as difpofe them to believe this particu