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are qualified to please the imagination; with | veral planets that lie within its neighbourwhich I intend to conclude this essay.
hood, we are filled with a pleasing astonishment, to see so many worlds hanging one above another, and sliding round their axles in such an amazing pomp and solemnity. If, after this, we contemplate those wild* fields of æther that reach in height as far as from Saturn to the fixed stars, and run abroad almost to an infinitude, our imagination finds its capacity filled with so immense a prospect; and puts itself upon the stretch to comprehend it. But if we yet
rise higher, and consider the fixed stars as so 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 farther in those unfathomable depths of æther, so as not to be seen by the strongest of our telescopes, we are lost in such a labyrinth of suns 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 every where diffused about it; or when the imagination works downward, and considers the bulk of a human body in
It is the most agreeable talent of an historian to be able to draw up his armies and fight his battles in proper expressions, to set before our eyes the divisions, cabals, an 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 break-respect of an animal a hundred times less ing upon us insensibly, so that we may be than a mite, the particular limbs of such an kept in a pleasing suspense, and have time animal, the different springs that actuate given us to raise our expectations, and to the limbs, the spirits which set the springs side with one of the parties concerned in a-going, and the proportionable minuteness the relation. I confess this shows more the of these several parts, before they have art than the veracity of the historian; but arrived at their full growth and perfection; I am only to speak of him as he is qualified but if, after all this, we take the least parto please the imagination; and in this re- ticle of these animal spirits, and consider spect Livy has, perhaps, excelled all who its capacity of being wrought into a world went before him, or have written since his that shall contain within those narrow ditime. He describes every thing in so lively mensions a heaven and earth, stars and a manner that his whole history is an ad- planets, and every different species of livmirable picture, and touches on such pro- ing creatures, in the same analogy and per circumstances in every story, that his proportion they bear to each other in our reader becomes a kind of spectator, and own universe; such a speculation, by reason feels in himself all the variety of passions of its nicety, appears ridiculous to those which are correspondent to the several who have not turned their thoughts that parts of the relations. way, though at the same time it is founded on no less than the evidence of a demonstration. Nay, we may yet carry it farther, and discover in the smallest particle of this little world a new inexhausted 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 it is confined to a very small quantity of space, and immediately stopt in its operation, when it endeavours to take in any thing that is very great or
No. 420.] Wednesday, July 2, 1712.
ON THE PLEASURES OF THE IMAGINATION.
Contents-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 volunt mentem auditoris agunto. Hor. Ars Poct. 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, travellers, geographers, and, in a word, all who describe visible objects of a real existence.
But among this set of writers there are none who more gratify and enlarge the imagination than the authors of the new philosophy, 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 to our reason, in the treatises of metals, minerals, plants, and meteors. But when we survey the whole earth at once, and the se
* Vid. ed. in folio.
very little. Let a man try to conceive the them their similitudes, metaphors, and aldifferent bulk of an animal, which is twenty,legories. By these allusions, a truth in the from another which is an hundred times understanding is, as it were, reflected by less than a mite, or to compare in his the imagination; we are able to see somethoughts a length of a thousand diameters thing like colour and shape in a notion, of the earth, with that of a million, and he and to discover a scheme of thoughts traced will quickly find that he has no different out upon matter. And here the mind remeasures in his mind adjusted to such ex-ceives a great deal of satisfaction, and has traordinary degrees of grandeur or minute- two of its faculties gratified at the same time, ness. The understanding, indeed, opens while the fancy is busy in copying after the an infinite space on every side of us; but understanding, and transcribing ideas out the imagination, after a few faint efforts, is of the intellectual world into the material. immediately at a stand, and finds herself The great art of a writer shows itself in swallowed up in the immensity of the void the choice of pleasing allusions, which are that surrounds it. Our reason can pursue a generally to be taken from the great or particle of matter through an infinite va- beautiful works of art or nature; for, though riety of divisions; but the fancy soon loses whatever is new or uncommon is apt to sight of it, and feels in itself a kind of delight the imagination, the chief design of chasm, that wants to be filled with matter an allusion being to illustrate and explain of a more sensible bulk. We can neither the passages of an author, it should be alwiden nor contract the faculty to the di-ways borrowed from what is more known mension of either extreme. The object is and common than the passages which are too big for our capacity, when we would to be explained. comprehend the circumference of a world; and dwindles into nothing when we endeavour after the idea of an atom.
Allegories, when well chosen, are like so many tracks of light in a discourse, that make every thing about them clear and beautiful. A noble metaphor, when it is placed to an advantage, casts a kind of glory round it, and darts a lustre 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 com
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; inso-parisons and allusions from the sciences in much that, perhaps, the imagination will which they are most conversant, so that a be able to keep pace with the understand- man may see the compass of their learning ing, and to form in itself distinct ideas of all in a treatise on the most indifferent subject. the different modes and quantities of space. I have read a discourse upon love, which O. none but a profound chymist 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.
No. 421.] Thursday, July 3, 1712.
ON THE PLEASURES OF THE IMAGINATION.
Contents.-How those please the imagination who treat of subjects abstract from matter, by allusions taken from it. What allusions are most pleasing to the spect. Of the art of imagining in general. The imagination capable of pain as well as pleasure. In what degree the imagination is capable either of pain or
imagination. Great writers, how faulty in this re
Ignotis errare locis, ignota videre,
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
It is this talent of affecting the imagination that gives an embellishment to good sense, and makes one man's composition 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 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.
ture the soul through this single faculty, as might suffice to make the whole heaven or hell of any finite being.
[This essay on the Pleasures of the Iinagination having been published in separate papers, I shall conclude it with a table of the principal contents of each paper.*] 0.
We have now discovered the several
originals of those pleasures that gratify the
No. 422.] Friday, July 4, 1712.
Hæc scripsi non otii abundantia, sed amoris ergate.
sure, but of my affection towards you.
Eumenidum veluti demens videt agmina Pentheus,
And shook her snaky locks: he shuns the sight,
I Do not know any thing which gives greater disturbance to conversation, than the false notion which people have of railIt ought certainly to be the first point to be aimed at in society, to gain the goodwill of those with whom you converse; the way to that is, to show you are well inclined towards 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 towards 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 offence
Dryden. There is not a sight in nature so mortify-to show a man you do not care whether he ing as that of a distracted person, when his is pleased or displeased. But won't you imagination is troubled, and his whole soul then take a jest? Yes: but pray let it be a disordered and confused. Babylon in ruins jest. It is no jest to put me, who am so is not so melancholy a spectacle. But to unhappy as to have an utter aversion to quit so disagreeable a subject, I shall only speaking to more than one man at a time, consider, by way of conclusion, what an under a necessity to explain myself in much infinite advantage this faculty gives an al- company, and reducing me to shame and mighty Being over the soul of man, and derision, except I perform what my inwe are capable of receiving from the imagihow great a measure of happiness or misery firmity of silence disables me to do.
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 rash, without being provoked to resentof bodies or exterior objects. He can trans-ment against their monitor. What has been port the imagination with such beautiful said to be a mark of a good writer will fall and glorious visions as cannot possibly enter in with the character of a good companion. into our present conceptions, or haunt it The good writer makes his reader better with such ghastly spectres and apparitions
with that quality without which a man can Callisthenes had great wit accompanied 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 in your heart not unwilling to grant him; to wit, that you are guilty of an excess in something which is in itself laudable. He very well understands what you would be, and needs not fear your anger for declaring you are a little too much that thing. The generous will bear being reproached as lavish, and the valiant as
as would make us hope for annihilation, and *These contents are printed all together in the origithink existence no better than a curse. In nal folio, at the end of No. 421; but are in this edition short, he can so exquisitely ravish or tor-ginnings of the several papers. arranged in their proper places, and placed at the be VOL. II.
pleased with himself, and the agreeable | Allusions to past follies, hints which revive man makes his friends enjoy themselves, what a man has a mind to forget for ever, rather than him, while he is in their com- and desires that all the rest of the world pany. Callisthenes does this with inimita- should, are commonly brought forth even ble pleasantry. He whispered a friend the in company of men of distinction. They do other day, so as to be overheard by a young not thrust with the skill of fencers, but cut officer, who gave symptoms of cocking upon up with the barbarity of butchers. It is, the company, That gentleman has very methinks, below the character of men of much the air of a general officer.', The humanity and good manners to be capable youth immediately put on a composed be- of mirth while there is any of the company haviour, and behaved himself suitably to in pain and disorder. They who have the the conceptions he believed the company true taste of conversation, enjoy themselves had of him. It is to be allowed that Cal-in communication of each other's excellisthenes will make a man run into imper-lencies, and not in a triumph over their tinent relations to his own advantage, and imperfections. Fortius would have been express the satisfaction he has in his own reckoned a wit, if there had never been a dear self, till he is very ridiculous: but in fool in the world: he wants not foils to be a this case the man is made a fool by his own beauty, but has that natural pleasure in consent, and not exposed as such whether observing perfection in others, that his own he will or no. I take it, therefore, that to faults are overlooked out of gratitude by all make raillery agreeable, a man must either his acquaintance. not know he is rallied, or think never the worse of himself if he sees he is.
After these several characters of men who succeed or fail in raillery, it may not be amiss to reflect a little farther 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 master
Acetus is of a quite contrary genius, and is more generally admired than Callisthenes, but not with justice. Acetus has no regard to the modesty or weakness of the person he rallies; but if his quality or humility gives him any superiority to the man he would fall upon, he has no mercy in mak-piece of this kind. It is the character of a ing the onset. He can be pleased to see his woman utterly abandoned; but her impubest friends out of countenance, while the dence, by the finest piece of raillery, is laugh is loud in his own applause. His made only generosity. raillery always puts the company into little divisions and separate interests, while that of Callisthenes cements it, and makes every man not only better pleased with himself, but also with all the rest in the conversation.
'Peculiar therefore is her way,
For who o'ernight obtain'd her grace,
And stare upon the strange man's face,
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, because he raises his mirth upon giving pain to the person upon whom he is pleasant. Nothing but the malevolence which is too general towards those who excel could make his company tolerated; but they with whom he converses are sure to see some man sa
crificed wherever he is admitted; and all No. 423.] Saturday, July 5, 1712
So well she can the truth disguise,
Or thinks 'twas all a dream.
'Some censure this as lewd or low,
Hor. Od. xxvi. Lib. 3 1.
Once fit myself.
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 person he rallies in countenance, by insinuating that he himself is guilty of the same imperfection. This he does with so much address, that he seems rather to bewail himself, than fall upon his friend. It is really monstrous to see how unac-entertainment; and when I have told you countably it prevails among men, to take that she is rich, witty, young, and beautithe liberty of displeasing each other. One ful, you will believe she does not want adwould think sometimes that the conten-mirers. She has had, since she came to tion is, who shall be most disagreeable. town, about twenty-five of those lovers who
I LOOK upon myself as a kind of guardian to the fair, and am always watchful to observe any 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 her sex. Gloriana shall be the name of the heroine in to-day's
made their addresses by way of jointure | to you the other day was a contrivance to and settlement: these come and go with remark your resentment. When you saw great indifference on both sides; and as the billet subscribed Damon, and turned beautiful as she is, a line in a deed has had away with a scornful air, and cried "imexception enough against it to outweigh the pertinence!" you gave hopes to him that lustre of her eyes, the readiness of her un- shuns you, without mortifying him that derstanding, and the merit of her general languishes for you. 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. have done it in the following letter:
What I am concerned for, madam, is, that in the disposal of your heart, you should know what you are doing, and ex amine 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 seem ing unconcern gives his behaviour the advantage of sincerity, and insensibly obtains your good opinion by appearing disinterested in the purchase of it. If you watch these correspondents hereafter, you will find that Strephon makes his 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 to be disagreeable in passion, the other to be pleasing without it. All the turns of your temper 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 enamoured. I am, madam, your most obedient servant,'
'MADAM,-I have for some time taken notice of two young gentlemen who attend you in all public places, both of whom have also easy access to you at your own house. 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 of 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 any 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 towards 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
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 this covert way of courtship. He received a message yesterday from Damon in the following words, superscribed With speed.'
'All goes well; she is very angry at me, and I dare say hates me in earnest. It is a good time to visit. Yours.'
The comparison of Strephon's gaiety to Damon's languishment strikes her imagination with a prospect of very agreeable hours with such a man as the former, and abhorrence of the insipid prospect with one like the latter. To know when a lady is displeased with another, is to know the best time of advancing yourself. This method of two persons playing into each other's hand is so dangerous, that I cannot tell how a woman could be able to withstand such a siege. The condition of Gloriana I am afraid is irretrievable; for Strephon has had so many opportunities of pleasing without suspicion, that all which is left for her to do is to bring him, now she is advised, to an explanation of his passion, and beginning again, if she can conquer the kind sentiments she has conceived for him. When one shows himself a creature to be avoided, the other proper to be fled to for succour, they have the whole woman be