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rose-trees, woodbines, and jessamines, may flower together, and his beds be covered at the same time with lilies, violets, and amaranths. His soil is not restrained to any particular set 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 spices, he can quickly command sun enough to raise it. If all this will not furnish out an agreeable scene, he can make several new species of flowers, with richer scents and higher colors 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 pleases. He is at no more expense in a long vista than a short one, and can as easily throw his cascades 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 modeling of Nature in his own hands, and may give her what charms he pleases, provided he does not reform her too much, and run into absurdities by endea@oring to excel.-O.
No. 419.] TUESDAY, JULY 1, 1712.
ON THE PLEASURES OF THE IMAGINATION.
Of that kind of poetry which Mr. Dryden calls "the fairy way
Sylvis deducti caveant, me judice, fauni,
is certain their sense ought to be a little discolored that it may seem particular, and proper to the person and condition of the speaker.
These descriptions raise a pleasing kind of horror in the mind of the reader, and amuse his imagination with the strangeness and novelty of the persons who are represented in them. They bring up into our memory the stories we have heard in our childhood, and favor those secret terrors and apprehensions to which the mind of man is naturally subject. We are pleased with surveying the different habits and behaviors of foreign countries how much more must we be delighted and surprised when we are led, as it were, into a new creation, and see the persons and manners of another species! Men of cold fancies, and philosophical dispositions, object to this kind of poetry, that it has not probability enough to affect the imagination. But to this it may be answered, that we are sure, in general, there are many intellectual beings in the world beside ourselves, and several species of spirits, who are subject to different laws and economies from those of mankind: when we see, therefore, any of these represented naturally, we cannot look upon the representation as altogether impossible, nay, many are prepossessed with such false opinions, as dispose them to believe these particular delusions; at least we have all heard so many pleasing relations in favor of them, that we do not care for seeing through the falsehood, and willingly give ourselves up to so agreeable an imposture.
-mentis gratissimus error. HOR. 2 Ep. ii. 140. The sweet delusion of a raptur'd mind, THERE is a kind of writing, wherein the poet quite loses sight of nature, and entertains his reader's imagination with the characters and actions of such persons as have many of them no existence but what he bestows on them. Such are fairies, witches, magicians, demons, and departed spirits. 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. There is a very odd turn of thought required for this sort of writing; and it is impossible for a poet to succeed in it, who has not a particular cast of fancy, and an imagination, naturally fruitful and superstitious. Beside this, he ought to be very well versed in legends and fables, antiquated romances, and the traditions of nurses and old women, that he may fall in with our natural prejudices, and humor those notions which we have imbibed in our infancy. For otherwise he will be apt to make his fairies talk like people of species, and not like other sets of beings, who converse with different objects, and think in a different manner from that of mankind.
I do not say, with Mr. Bays, in the Rehearsal, that spirits must not be confined to speak sense: but it
The ancients have not much of this poetry among them; for, indeed, almost the whole substance of it owes its original to the darkness and superstition of later ages, when pious frauds were made use of to amuse mankind, and frighten them into a sense of their duty. Our forefathers looked upon nature with more reverence and horror, before the world was enlightened by learning and philosophy; and loved to astonish themselves with the apprehensions of witchcraft, prodigies, charms, and enchantments. There was not a village in England that had not a ghost in it; the churchyards were all haunted; every large common had a circle of fairies belonging to it; and there was scarce a shepherd to be met with who had not seen a spirit.
Among all the poets of this kind our English are much the best, by what I have yet seen; whether it be that we abound with more stories of this nature, or that the genius of our country is fitter for this sort of poetry. For the English are naturally fanciful, and very often disposed, by that gloominess and melancholy of temper, which is so frequent in our nation, to many wild notions and visions, to which others are not so liable.
Among the English, Shakspeare has incomparably excelled all others. That noble extravagance of fancy, which he had in so great perfection, thoroughly qualified him to touch this weak, superstitious part of his reader's imagination; and made him capable of succeeding, where he had nothing to support him beside the strength of his own genius. There is something so wild, and yet so solemn, in the speeches of his ghosts, fairies, witches, and the like imaginary persons, that we cannot forbear thinking them natural, though we have no rule by which to judge of them, and must confess, if there are such beings in the world, it looks highly probable they should talk and act as he has represented them.
There is another sort of imaginary beings, that we sometimes meet among the poets, when the author represents any passion, appetite, virtue, or vice, under a visible shape, and makes it a person or an actor in his poem. Of this nature are the
descriptions of Hunger and Envy in Ovid, of to our reason, in the treatises of metals, minerals, Fame in Virgil, and of Sin and Death in Milton. plants, and meteors. But when we survey the We find a whole creation of the like shadowy whole earth at once, and the several planets that persons in Spenser, who had an admirable talent lie within its neighborhood, we are filled with a in representations of this kind. I have discoursed pleasing astonishment, to see so many worlds, of these emblematical persons in former papers, hanging one above another, and sliding round and shall therefore only mention them in this their axles in such an amazing pomp and solplace. Thus we see how many ways poetry ad-emnity. If, after this, we contemplate those wild dresses itself to the imagination, as it has not fields of ether, that reach in height as far as from only the whole circle of nature for its province, Saturn to the fixed stars, and run abroad almost but makes new worlds of its own, shows us per- to an infinitude, our imagination finds its capacity sons who are not to be found in being, and repre- filled with so immense a prospect, and puts itsel sents even the faculties of the soul, with the sev- upon the stretch to comprehend it. But if we yet eral virtues and vices, in a sensible shape and rise higher, and consider the fixed stars as so character. many vast oceans of flame, that are each of them attended with a different set of planets, and still discover new.firmaments and new lights that are sunk further into those unfathomless depths of ether, so as not to be seen by the strongest of our telescopes, we are lost in such a labyrinth of suna and worlds, and confounded with the immensity and magnificence of nature.
Nothing is more pleasant to the fancy, than to enlarge itself by degrees, in its contemplation of the various proportions which its several objects bear to each other, when it compares the body of man to the bulk of the whole earth, the earth to the circle it describes round the sun, that circle to the sphere of the fixed stars, the sphere of the fixed stars to the circuit of the whole creation, the whole creation itself to the infinite space that is everywhere diffused about it; or when the ima gination works downward, and considers the bulk of a human body in respect of an animal a hundred times less than a mite, the particular limbs of such an animal, the different springs that actuate the limbs, the spirits which set the springs a-going, and the proportionable minuteness of these several parts, before they have arrived at their full growth and perfection; but if, after all this, we take the least part of these animal spirits, and consider its capacity of being wrought into a world that shall contain within those narrow dimensions a heaven and earth, stars and planets, and every different species of living creatures, in the same analogy and proportion they bear to each other in our own universe; such a speculation, try reason of its nicety, appears ridiculous to those who have not turned their thoughts that way, though at the same time it is founded on no less than the evidence of a demonstration. Nay, we may yet carry it further, and discover in the smallest particle of this little world, a new, inerhausted fund of matter, capable of being spun out into another universe.
I have dwelt the longer on this subject, because I think it may show us the proper limits, as well as the defectiveness of our imagination; how i s confined to a very small quantity of space, and immediately stopped in its operation, when it en deavors to take in anything that is very great_e very little. Let a man try to conceive the differ ent bulk of an animal which is twenty, from other which is a hundred times less than a mile, to compare in his thoughts a length of a thousand diameters of the earth with that of a million and he will quickly find that he has no different mew sures in his mind, adjusted to such extraordinary degrees of grandeur or minuteness. The unde indeed, an infinite space on v side of us; but the imagination, after a few fa efforts, is immediately at a stand, and finds l self swallowed up in the immensity of the rud that surrounds it: our reason can pursue a p
I shall, in my two following papers, consider, in general, how other kinds of writing are qualified to please the imagination; with which I intend to conclude this essay.-0.
No. 420.] WEDNESDAY, JULY 2, 1712.
ON THE PLEASURES OF THE IMAGINATION.
What authors please the imagination. Who have nothing to
do with fiction. How history pleases the imagination. How the authors of the new philosophy please the imagination. The bounds and defects of the imagination. Whether these defects are essential to the imagination.
-Quocunque volent, animum auditoris agunto. HOR. Ars. Poet. v. 100. And raise men's passions to what height they will. ROSCOMMON.
As the writers in poetry and fiction borrow their several materials from outward objects, and join them together at their own pleasure, there are others who are obliged to follow nature more closely, and to take entire scenes out of her. Such are historians, natural philosophers, travelers, geographers, and in a word, all who describe visible objects of a real existence.
It is the most agreeable talent of a historian to be able to draw up his armies and fight his battles in proper expressions, to set before our eyes the divisions, cabals, and jealousies of great men, to lead us step by step into the several actions and events of his history. We love to see the subject unfolding itself by just degrees, and breaking upon us insensibly, that so we may be kept in a pleasing suspense, and have time given us to raise our expectations, and to side with one of the parties concerned in the relation. I confess this shows more the art than the veracity of the historian; but I am only to speak of him as he is qualified to please the imagination, and in this respect Livy has, perhaps, excelled all who ever went before him or have written since his time. He describes everything in so lively a manner, that his whole history is an admirable picture, and touches on such proper circumstances in every story, that his reader becomes a kind of Spectator, and feels in himself all the variety of passions which are correspondent to the several parts of the relation.
But among this set of writers there are none who more gratify and enlarge the imagination than the authors the new whether we consider their theories of the earth or heavens, the discoveries they have made by glasses, or any other of their contemplations on nature. We are not a little pleased to find every green leaf swarm with millions of animals, that at their largest growth are not visible to the naked eye. There is something very engaging to the fancy, as well as
* Vide ed, in folio.
ticle of matter through an infinite variety of divisions; but the fancy soon loses sight of it, and feels in itself a kind of chasm, that wants to be filled with matter of a more sensible bulk. We can neither widen nor contract the faculty to the dimensions of either extreme. The object is too big for our capacity when we would comprehend the circumference of a world; and dwindles into nothing when we endeavor after the idea of an
It is possible this defect of imagination may not be in the soul itself, but as it acts in conjunction with the body. Perhaps there may not be room in the brain for such a variety of impressions, or the animal spirits may be incapable of figuring them in such a manner as is necessary to excite so very large or very minute ideas. However it be, we may well suppose that beings of a higher nature very much excel us in this respect, as it is probable the soul of man will be infinitely more perfect hereafter in this faculty, as well as in all the rest; insomuch that, perhaps, the imagination will be able to keep pace with the understanding, and to form in itself distinct ideas of all the different modes and quantities of space.-O.
No. 421.] THURSDAY, JULY 3, 1712.
when it is placed to an advantage, casts a kind of glory round it, and darts a luster through a whole sentence. These different kinds of allusion are but so many different manners of similitude; and that they may please the imagination, the likeness ought to be very exact or very agreeable, as we love to see a picture where the resemblance is just, or the posture and air graceful. But we often find eminent writers very faulty in this respect: great scholars are apt to fetch their comparisons and allusions from the sciences in which they are most conversant, so that a man may see the compass of their learning in a treatise on the most indifferent subject. I have read a discourse upon love, which none but a profound chemist could understand, and have heard many a sermon that should only have been preached before a congregation of Cartesians. On the contrary, your men of business usually have recourse to such instances as are too mean and familiar. They are for drawing the reader into a game of chess or tennis, or for leading him from shop to shop, in the cant of particular trades and employments. It is certain there may be found an infinite variety of very agreeable allusions in both these kinds; but for the generality, the most entertaining ones lie in the works of nature, which are obvious to all capacities, and more delightful than what is to be found in arts and sciences.
It is this talent of affecting the imagination that gives an embellishment to good sense, and makes one man's compositions more agreeable than another's. It sets off all writings in general, but is the very life and highest perfection of poetry. Where it shines in an eminent degree, it has preserved several poems for many ages, that have nothing else to recommend them; and where all the other beauties are present, the work appears dry and insipid if this single one be wanting. It has something in it like creation. It bestows a kind of existence, and draws up to the reader's view several objects which are not to be found in being. It makes additions to nature, and gives a OVID, MET. vi. 294. greater variety to God's works. In a word, it is able to beautify and adorn the most illustrious scenes in the universe, or to fill the mind with more glorious shows and apparitions than can be found in any part of it.
We have now discovered the several originals of those pleasures that gratify the fancy; and here, perhaps, it would not be very difficult to cast under their proper heads those contrary objects which are apt to fill it with distaste and terror; for the imagination is as liable to pain as pleasure. When the brain is hurt by any accident, or the mind disordered by dreams or sickness, the fancy is overrun with wild dismal ideas, and terrified with a thousand hideous monsters of its own framing.
ON THE PLEASURES OF THE IMAGINATION.
How those please the imagination who treat of subjects ab-
Ignotis errare locis, ignota videre
He sought fresh fountains in a foreign soil; The pleasure lessen'd the attending toil.-ADDISON. THE pleasures of the imagination are not wholly confined to such particular authors as are conversant in material objects, but are often to be met with among the polite masters of morality, criticism, and other speculations abstracted from matter, who, though they do not directly treat of the visible parts of nature, often draw from them their similitudes, metaphors, and allegories. By these allusions, a truth in the understanding is, as it were, reflected by the imagination; we are able to see something like color and shape in a notion, and to discover a scheme of thoughts traced out upon matter. And here the mind receives a great deal of satisfaction, and has two of its faculties gratified at the same time, while the fancy is busy in copying after the understanding, and transcribing ideas out of the intellectual world into the material.
The great art of a writer shows itself in the choice of pleasing allusions which are generally to be taken from the great or beautiful works of art or nature; for, though whatever is new or uncommon is apt to delight the imagination, the chief design of an allusion being to illustrate and explain the passages of an author, it should be always borrowed from what is more known and common, than the passages which are to be explained.
Allegories, when well chosen, are like so many tracks of light in a discourse, that make everything about them clear and beautiful. A noble metaphor,
Eumenidum veluti demens videt agmina Pentheus,
There is not a sight in nature so mortifying as that of a distracted person, when his imagination is troubled, and his whole soul disordered and confused. Babylon in ruins is not so melancholy a spectacle. But to quit so disagreeable a
subject, I shall only consider, by way of conclu- | in your heart, not unwilling to grant him; to wit, sion, what an infinite advantage this faculty that you are guilty of an excess in something gives an Almighty Being over the soul of man, which is in itself laudable. He very well underand how great a measure of happiness or misery stands what you would be, and needs not fear your we are capable of receiving from the imagination anger for declaring you are a little too much that only. thing. The generous will bear being reproached as lavish, and the valiant as rash, without being provoked to resentment against their monitor. What has been said to be a mark of a good writer will fall in with the character of a good companion. The good writer makes his reader better pleased with himself, and the agreeable man makes his friends enjoy themselves, rather than him, while he is in their company. Calisthenes does this with inimitable pleasantry. He whis pered a friend the other day, so as to be overheard by a young officer who gave symptoms of cocking upon the company, "That gentleman has very much of the air of a general officer." The youth immediately put on a composed behavior, and behaved himself suitably to the conceptions he believed the company had of him. It is to be allowed that Calisthenes will make a man run into impertinent relations to his own advantage, and express the satisfaction he has in his own dear self, till he is very ridiculous; but in this case the man is made a fool by his own consent, and not exposed as such whether he will or no. I take it, therefore, that to make raillery agreeable, a man must either not know he is ral
lied, or think never the worse of himself if he sees he is.
Acetus is of a quite contrary genius, and is more generally admired than Calisthenes, but not with justice. Acetus has no regard to the modesty or weakness of the person he rallies; but if his qual ity or humility gives him any superiority to the ing the onset. He can be pleased to see his best man he would fall upon, he has no mercy in mak friend out of countenance, while the laugh is loud in his own applause. His raillery always puts the company into little divisions and seps rate interests, while that of Calisthenes cements it, and makes every man not only better pleased with himself, but also with all the rest in the con versation.
We have already seen the influence that one man has over the fancy of another, and with what ease he conveys into it a variety of imagery, how great a power then may we suppose lodged in him who knows all the ways of affecting the imagination, who can infuse what ideas he pleases, and fill those ideas with terror and delight to what degree he thinks fit! He can excite images in the mind without the help of words, and make scenes rise up before us, and seem present to the eye, without the assistance of bodies, or exterior objects. He can transport the imagination with such beautiful and glorious visions as cannot possibly enter into our present conceptions, or haunt it with such ghastly specters and apparitions as would make us hope for annihilation, and think existence no better than a curse. In short, he can so exquisitely ravish or torture the soul through this single faculty, as might suffice to make up the whole heaven or hell of any finite being.
[This essay on the Pleasures of the Imagination, having been published in separate papers, I shall conclude it with a table of the principal contents of cach paper.*]
No. 422.] FRIDAY, JULY 4, 1712.
I have written this, not out of the abundance of leisure, but
of my affection toward you.
I Do not know anything which gives greater disturbance to conversation, than the false notion some people have of raillery. It ought, certainly, to be the first point to be aimed at in society, to gain the good-will of those with whom you converse; the way to that is, to show you are well inclined toward them. What then can be more absurd than to set up for being extremely sharp and biting, as the term is, in your expressions to your familiars? A man who has no good quality but courage, is in a very ill way toward making an agreeable figure in the world, because that which he has superior to other people cannot be exerted without raising himself an enemy. Your gentleman of a satirical vein is in the like condition. To say a thing which perplexes the heart of him you speak to, or brings blushes into his face, is a degree of murder; and it is, I think, an unpardonable offense to show a man you do not care whether he is pleased or displeased. But will you not then take a jest ?-Yes: but pray let it be a jest. It is no jest to put me, who am so unhappy as to have an utter aversion to speaking to more than one man at a time, under a necessity to explain myself in much company, and reducing me to shame and derision, except I perform what my infirmity of silence disables me to do.
Calisthenes has great wit, accompanied with that quality without which a man can have no wit at all-a sound judgment. This gentleman rallies the best of any man I know; for he forms his ridicule upon a circumstance which you are,
These contents are printed all together in the original folio, at the end of No.421; but are in this edition arranged in their proper places, and placed at the beginnings of the several papers.
To rally well, it is absolutely necessary that kindness must run through all you say; and you must ever preserve the character of a friend to support your pretensions to be free with a man Acetus ought to be banished human society, be cause he raises his mirth upon giving pain to the person upon whom he is pleasant. Nothing but the malevolence which is too general toward those who excel could make his company toler ated; but they with whom he converses are sure to see some man sacrificed wherever he a admitted; and all the credit he has for wit, is owing to the gratification it gives to other meas ill-nature.
Minutius has a wit that conciliates a man s love, at the same time that it is exerted against his faults. He has an art of keeping the perso he rallies in countenance, by insinuating that he himself is guilty of the same imperfection This he does with so much address, that be seems rather to bewail himself, than fall upo his friend.
It is really monstrous to see how unaccountably it prevails among men to take the liberty of a* pleasing each other. One would think sometimes that the contention is who shall be most disag ble. Allusions to past follies, hints which revive what a man has a mind to forget forever, and de serves that all the rest of the world should, at commonly brought forth even in company of mea of distinction. They do not thrust with the skill
of fencers, but cut up with the barbarity of butchers. It is, methinks, below the character of men of humanity and good-manners to be capable of mirth while there is any of the company in pain and disorder. They who have the true taste of conversation, enjoy themselves in a communication of each other's excellencies, and not in a triumph over their imperfections. Fortius would have been reckoned a wit if there had never been a fool in the world; he wants not foils to be a beauty, but has that natural pleasure in observing perfection in others, that his own faults are overlooked, out of gratitude, by all his acquaintance.
After these several characters of men who succeed or fail in raillery, it may not be amiss to reflect a little further what one takes to be the most agreeable kind of it; and that to me appears when the satire is directed against vice, with an air of contempt of the fault, but no ill-will to the criminal. Mr. Congreve's Doris is a masterpiece in this kind. It is the character of a woman utterly abandoned; but her impudence, by the finest piece of raillery, is made only generosity:
Peculiar therefore is her way, Whether by nature taught I shall not undertake to say, Or by experience bought;
But who o'ernight obtain'd her grace
She can next day disown, And stare upon the strange man's face, As one she ne'er had known.
So well she can the truth disguise,
Or thinks 'twas all a dream.
Some censure this as lewd or low,
No. 423.] SATURDAY, JULY 5, 1712.
the fair, and am always watchful to observe any; I LOOK upon myself as a kind of guardian to thing which concerns their interest. The present paper shall be employed in the service of a very fine young woman; and the admonitions I give her may not be unuseful to the rest of the sex. Gloriana shall be the name of the heroine in today's entertainment; and when I have told you that she is rich, witty, young, and beautiful, you will believe she does not want admirers. She has had since she came to town about twenty-five of those lovers who make their addresses by way of jointure and settlement: these come and go with great indifference on both sides; and as beauteous as she is, a line in a deed has had ex
ception enough against it, to outweigh the luster of her eyes, the readiness of her understanding,
and the merit of her general character. But among the crowd of such cool adorers, she has two who are very assiduous in their attendance. There is something so extraordinary and artful in their manner of application, that I think it but common justice to alarm her in it. I have done it in the following letter: "MADAM,
"I have for some time taken notice of two gentlemen who attend you in all public places, both of whom have also easy access to you at your own house. But the matter is adjusted between
them; and Damon, who so passionately addresses you, has no design upon you; but Strephon, who seems to be indifferent to you, is the man who is, as they have settled it, to have you. The plot was laid over a bottle of wine; and Strephon, when he first thought of you, proposed to Damon to be his rival. The manner of his breaking it to him, I was so placed at a tavern, that I could not avoid hearing. Damon,' said he, with a deep sigh, I have long languished for that miracle of beauty, Gloriana: and if you will be very steadfastly my rival, I shall certainly obtain her. Do not, continued he, be offended at this overture; for I go upon the knowledge of the temper of the woman, rather than any vanity that I should profit by an opposition of your pretensions to those of your humble servant. Gloriana has very good sense, a quick relish of the satisfactions of life, and will not give herself, as the crowd of women do, to the arms of a man to whom she is indifferent. As she is a sensible woman, expressions of rapture and adoration will not move her neither: but he that has her must be the object of her desire, not her pity. The way to this end I take to be, that a man's general conduct should be agreeable, without addressing in particular to the woman he loves. Now, Sir, if you will be so kind as to sigh and die for Gloriana, I will carry it with great respect toward her, but seem void of any thoughts as a lover. By this means I shall be in the most amiable light of which I am capable; I shall be received with freedom, you with reserve.' Damon, who has himself no designs of marriage at all, easily fell into the scheme; and you may observe, that wherever you are, Damon appears also. You see he carries on an unaffected exactness in his dress and manner, and strives always to be the very contrary of Strephon. They have already succeeded so far. that your eyes are ever in search of Strephon, and turn themselves of course from Damon. They meet and compare notes upon your carriage; and the letter which was brought to you the other day was a contrivance to remark your resentment. When you saw the billet subscribed Damon, and turned away with a scornful air, and cried impertinence! you gave hopes to him that shuns you, the disposal of your heart you should know what without mortifying him that languishes for you. "What I am concerned for, Madam, is, that in you are doing, and examine it before it is lost. Strephon contradicts you in discourse with the civility of one who has a value for you, but gives up nothing like one that loves you. This seemof sincerity, and insensibly obtains your good ing unconcern gives his behavior the advantage opinion by appearing disinterested in the pur hereafter, you will find that Strephon makes his chase of it. If you watch these correspondents visit of civility immediately after Damon has tired you with one of love. Though you are very discreet, you will find it no easy matter to escape the toils so well laid; as, when one studies pleasing without it. All the turns of your temto be disagreeable in passion, the other to be per are carefully watched, and their quick and faithful intelligence gives your lovers irresistible advantage. You will please, Madam, to be upon your guard, and take all the necessary precautions against one who is amiable to you before you know he is enamored.
"I am, Madam, your most obedient Servant."
Strephon makes great progress in this lady's good graces; for most women being actuated by some little spirit of pride and contradiction, he has the good effects of both those motives by