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it these distind's eye, is the Live composition : vho has language n all their combicontroul; and who ect, from the store, which are precisely,
adapted to embody oughts, and to excite, der, vigorous, and vivid, the shadowy peculiarities pourtray. Like the work ait-painter, the resemblance s not confined to a felicitous aster of all the gradations of e mystery of their application, a faculty beyond the reach of
and by many an imperceptible he appropriate tints, he transmits vass the peculiar characteristics of the pject, and makes hi stand before us rent substance, vit, and motion.
is this thorough ly skilful exercise
ry, and consumuncommon faculty,
application in the exhibition of those minute differences, and specific circumstances, which give to every single being, and thing, its appropriate individuality. The claim, indeed, of sagacity to detect, and of observation to mark, these characteristics, must be conceded to him; but, these would not avail for the production of a complete verisimilitude, without that perfect command of descriptive diction, which can exhibit in language what exists in nature in appearances the most minute and evanescent, without any loss of its form, freshness, and effect.
Uniform as human nature is in its great original principles, it is still infinitely diversified in minor particulars: and, modified by place, and age, and education; by habit, pursuits, profession, and countless other external causes; it includes, within a contour of general resemblance, an endless variety of casts or expressions of countenance, (if the metaphor may be allowed,) producing those various specific differences which are observed between creatures of the same kind; and which give to every human being his individual and
peculiar character. To exhibit these distinguishing traits to the mind's eye, is the highest reach of art in descriptive composition : only to be effected by him who has language in all its forms, and words in all their combinations, under his supreme controul; and who can, when he pleases, select, from the store, those forms of expression which are precisely, and, perhaps, exclusively, adapted to embody the conception of his thoughts, and to excite, in the mind of his reader, vigorous, and vivid, and correct ideas of the shadowy peculiarities which he wishes to pourtray. Like the work of a first-rate portrait-painter, the resemblance to his original is not confined to a felicitous outline; but, master of all the gradations of colour, and the mystery of their application, he exercises a faculty beyond the reach of common art, and by many an imperceptible touch of the appropriate tints, he transmits to the canvass the peculiar characteristics of the living subject, and makes him stand before us in apparent substance, vitality, and motion.
It is this thorough mastery, and consummately skilful exercise of this uncommon faculty,
which, in our opinion, accounts for the wonderful effect produced by the writings of our author on the mind of his reader.
templating his portraits, we instantly perceive that they are rigid likenesses of their originals: for his happy forms of diction present, not only every feature as it existed in nature, but, also, all those modifications of feature which stamp the prototype with its distinct and exclusive character. Nay, what is more, in his personages which are merely imaginary, the same effect is operated by the exercise of the same power: non-existences appear with all the attributes of reality; and we are satisfied that if such human beings had actually existed, they must have existed precisely under those forms, and been distinguished by those exact circumstances, by which they are designated in the picture before us. Hence it is that we become intimate with his characters, whether real or fictitious, the moment we are introduced to them: we feel for them a social interest at first sight; and, carried away by the illusion of an actual intercourse, we overlook all distance of time, and difference of country, and