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own that it is impossible for us to assign the neces-able to the imagination? We are every where en sary cause of this pleasure, because we know nei-tertained with pleasing shows and apparitions; we ther the nature of an idea, nor the substance of discover imaginary glories in the heavens, and in a human soul, which might help us to discover the earth, and see some of this visionary beauty the conformity or disagreeableness of the one to poured out upon the whole creation; but what a the other; and therefore, for want of such a light, rough unsightly sketch of nature should we be enall that we can do in speculations of this kind, is tertained with, did all her colouring disappear, and to reflect on those operations of the soul that are the several distinctions of light and shade vanish? most agreeable, and to range, under their proper In short, our souls are at present delightfully lost heads, what is pleasing or displeasing to the mind, and bewildered in a pleasing delusion, and we without being able to trace out the several neces- walk about like the enchanted hero in a romance, sary and efficient causes from whence the pleasure who sees beautiful castles, woods, and meadows; or displeasure arises. and at the same time hears the warbling of birds, Final causes lie more bare and open to our obser- and the purling of streams; but, upon the finish. vation, as there are often a greater variety that be-ing of some secret spell, the fantastic scene breaks long to the same effect; and these, though they up, and the disconsolate knight finds himself on a are not altogether so satisfactory, are generally barren heath, or in a solitary desart. It is not more useful than the other, as they give us greater improbable that something like this may be the occasion of admiring the goodness and wisdom of state of the soul after its first separation, in respect the first Contriver. of the images it will receive from matter, though inOne of the final causes of our delight in any deed the ideas of colours are so pleasing and beau thing that is great, may be this. The Supreme tiful in the imagination, that it is possible the soul Author of our being has so formed the soul of man, will not be deprived of them, but perhaps find that nothing but himself can be its last, adequate, them excited by some other occasional cause, as and proper happiness. Because, therefore, a great they are at present by the different impressions of part of our happiness must arise from the con- the subtle matter on the organ of sight. templation of his being, that he might give our I have here supposed that my reader is ac souls a just relish of such contemplation, he has quainted with that great modern discovery, which made them naturally delight in the apprehension is at present universally acknowledged by all the of what is great or unlimited. Our admiration, inquirers into natural philosophy: namely, that which is a very pleasing motion of the mind, im- light and colours, as apprehended by the imagina mediately rises at the consideration of any object tion, are only ideas in the mind, and not qualities that takes up a great deal of room in the fancy, that have any existence in matter. As this is a and by consequence, will improve into the highest truth which has been proved incontestibly by many pitch of astonishment and devotion when we con- modern philosophers, and is indeed one of the template his nature, that is neither circumscribed finest speculations in that science, if the English by time nor place, nor to be comprehended by the reader would see the notion explained at large, he largest capacity of a created being. may find it in the eighth chapter of the second book of Mr. Locke's Essay on Human Understand. ing.
He has annexed a secret pleasure to the idea of any thing that is new or uncommon, that he might encourage us in the pursuit after knowledge, and engage us to search into the wonders of his creation; for every new idea brings such a pleasure along with it, as rewards any pains we have taken in its acquisition, and consequently serves as a motive to put us upon fresh discoveries.
[The following letter from Steele to Addison is here reprinted from the original edition of The Spectator is folio.
He has made every thing that is beautiful in our own species pleasant, that all creatures might be tempted to multiply their kind, and fill the world with inhabitants; for it is very remarkable, that wherever nature is crossed in the production of a 'I WOULD not divert the course of your discourses, when you monster (the result of any unnatural mixture) the which, rightly attended to, may render the life of every man w seem bent upon obliging the world with a train of thinking, breed is incapable of propagating its likeness, and reads it more easy and happy for the future. The pleasures of of founding a new order of creatures: so that un- the imagination are what bewilder life, when reason and judg less all animals were allured by the beauty of their look carefully into the powers of fancy, that other men, from the ment do not interpose; it is therefore a worthy action in you t own species, generation would be at an end, and knowledge of them, may improve their joys, and allay their griefs the earth unpeopled. by a just use of that faculty. I say, sir, I would not interrupt you In the last place, he has made every thing that of inserting this letter in your next paper, you will do some in the progress of this discourse; but if you will do me the far is beautiful in all other objects pleasant, or rather vice to the public, though not in so noble a way of obliging, as th has made so many objects appear beautiful, that design (of which I am partly author), though it tends to no greater of improving their minds. Allow me, sir, to acquaint you with a he might render the whole creation more gay and good than that of getting money. I should not hope for the delightful. He has given almost every thing about favour of a philosopher in this matter, if it were not attempted us the power of raising an agreeable idea in the sitions. The first purpose which every good man is to propose under all the restrictions which you sages put upon private aeque imagination: so that it is impossible for us to be- himself, is the service of his prince and country; after that hold his works with coldness or indifference, and to done, he cannot add to himself, but he must also be beneficial survey so many beauties without a secret satisfac- but has its very being in subordination to it; for no man ear them. This scheme of gain is not only consistent with that ent tion and complacency. Things would make but aa gainer here but, at the same time he himself, or some other poor appearance to the eye, if we saw them only this fort must succeed in their dealings with the government. It is called in their proper figures and motions: and what rea-diate service of her majesty, that the same person who is fo son can we assign for their exciting in us many of nate in the lottery of the state may receive yet further advantage those ideas which are different from any thing that her gracious temper than to find out additional methother ser in this table. And I am sure nothing can be more pleasing to exists in the such are light good
vice, or laying occasions for others to become capable of serving and colours), were it not to add supernumerary their country who are at present in too low circumstances to es universe, and make more is, by givies
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See the Advertisement at the end of No, 417.
N° 414. WEDNESDAY, JUNE 25, 1712.
ON THE PLEASURES OF THE IMAGINATION.
The works of nature more pleasant to the imagination than those
Altera poscit opem res, et conjurat amice.
HOR. Ars Poet. ver. 411.
But mutually they need each other's help.
If we consider the works of nature and art, as
Unvex'd with quarrels, undisturb'd with noise,
But though there are several of these wild scenes, that are more delightful than any artificial shows; yet we find the works of nature still more pleasant, the more they resemble those of art: for in this case our pleasure rises from a double principle; from the agreeableness of the objects to the eye, and from their similitude to other objects. We are pleased as well with comparing their beauties, as with surveying them, and can represent them to our minds, either as copies or originals. Hence it is that we take delight in a prospect which is well laid out, and diversified with fields and meadows, woods, and rivers; in those accidental landscapes of trees, clouds, and cities, that are sometimes found in the veins of marble, in the curious fret-work of rocks and grottos; and, in a word, in any thing that hath such a variety or regularity as may seem the effect of design in what we call the works of chance.
If the products of nature rise in value according as they more or less resemble those of art, we may be sure that artificial works receive a greater advantage from their resemblance of such as are natural; because here the similitude is not only pleasant, but the pattern more perfect. The prettiest landscape I ever saw, was one drawn on the walls of a dark room, which stood opposite on one side to a navigable river, and on the other to a park. The experiment is very common in optics.* of the water in strong and proper colours, with the Here you might discover the waves and fluctuations picture of a ship entering at one end, and sailing there appeared the green shadows of trees, waving by degrees through the whole piece. On another them in miniature, leaping about upon the wall. to and fro with the wind, and herds of deer among so great an entertainment to the mind of the beholder. The one may be as polite and delicate as I must confess, the novelty of such a sight may be the other, but can never show herself so august and but certainly the chief reason is its near resemone occasion of its pleasantness to the imagination; magnificent in the design. There is something blance to nature, as it does not only, like other more bold and masterly in the rough careless strokes of nature, than in the nice touches and embellish- pictures, give the colour and figure, but the motion, ments of art. The beauties of the most stately of the things it represents. garden or palace lie in a narrow compass, the ima- in nature something more grand and august, than We have before observed, that there is generally gination immediately runs them over, and requires what we meet with in the curiosities of art. When, something else to satisfy her; but in the wide fields of nature, the sight wanders up and down therefore, we see this imitated in any measure, it without confinement, and is fed with an infinite gives us a nobler and more exalted kind of pleavariety of images, without any certain stint or number. For this reason we always find the poet in love with the country life, where nature appears in the greatest perfection, and furnishes out all those scenes that are most apt to delight the ima-large extent of ground covered over with an agreegination.
'Scriptorum chorus omnis amat nemus, et fugit urbes."
To grottos and to groves we run,
To ease and silence, ev'ry muse's son.'
• Hic secura quies, et nescia fallere vila,
'Here easy quiet, a secure retreat,
sure than what we receive from the nicer and
more accurate productions of art. On this account fancy as those in France and Italy, where we see a our English gardens are not so entertaining to the
able mixture of garden and forest, which represent every where an artificial rudeness, much more charming than that neatness and elegancy which we meet with in those of our own country. It might indeed be of ill consequence to the public, as well as unprofitable to private persons, to alienate so much ground from pasturage, and the plough, in many parts of a country that is so well peopled, and cultivated to a far greater advantage. But why may not a whole estate be thrown into a kind of garden by frequent plantations, that may turn as much to the profit as the pleasure of the owner? A marsh overgrown with willows, or a
mountain shaded with oaks, are not only more this paper throw together some reflections on that beautiful but more beneficial, than when they lie particular art, which has a more immediate tenbare and unadorned. Fields of corn make a plea-dency, than any other, to produce those primary sant prospect, and if the walks were a little taken pleasures of the imagination, which have hitherto care of that lie between them, if the natural em-been the subject of this discourse. The art I mean broidery of the meadows were helped and im- is that of architecture, which I shall consider only proved by some small additions of art, and the with regard to the light in which the foregoing several rows of hedges set off by trees and flowers speculations have placed it, without entering into that the soil was capable of receiving, a man those rules and maxims which the great masters of might make a pretty landscape of his own posses-architecture have laid down and explained at large sions. in numberless treatises upon that subject.
Writers who have given us an account of China, Greatness, in the works of architecture, may be tell us the inhabitants of that country laugh at the considered as relating to the bulk and body of the plantations of our Europeans, which are laid out structure, or to the manner in which it is built. As by the rule and line; because they say, any one for the first, we find the ancients, especially among may place trees in equal rows and uniform figures. the eastern nations of the world, infinitely superior They choose rather to show a genius in works of to the moderns.
this nature, and therefore always conceal the art Not to mention the tower of Babel, of which an by which they direct themselves. They have a old author says, there were the foundations to be word, it seems, in their language, by which they seen in his time, which looked like a spacious express the particular beauty of a plantation that mountain; what could be more noble than the thus strikes the imagination at first sight, without walls of Babylon, its hanging gardens, and its temdiscovering what it is that has so agreeable an ple to Jupiter Belus, that rose a mile high by eight effect. Our British gardeners, on the contrary, several stories, each story a furlong in height, and instead of humouring nature, love to deviate from on the top of which was the Babylonian observait as much as possible. Our trees rise in cones, tory? I might here, likewise, take notice of the globes, and pyramids. We see the marks of the huge rock that was cut into the figure of Semiramis, scissors upon every plant and bush. I do not know with the smaller rocks that lay by it in the shape whether I am singular in my opinion, but, for my of tributary kings; the prodigious basin, or arti own part, I would rather look upon a tree in all ficial lake, which took in the whole Euphrates, till its luxuriancy and diffusion of boughs and branches, such time as a new canal was formed for its recep. than when it is thus cut and trimmed into a ma- tion, with the several trenches through which that thematical figure; and cannot but fancy that an river was conveyed. I know there are persons orchard in flower looks infinitely more delightful, who look upon some of these wonders of art as than all the little labyrinths of the most finished parterre. But as our great modellers of gardens have their magazines of plants to dispose of, it is very natural for them to tear up all the beautiful plantations of fruit-trees, and contrive a plan that may most turn to their own profit, in taking off their evergreens, and the like moveable plants, with which their shops are plentifully stocked.
N° 415. THURSDAY, JUNE 26, 1712.
fabulous; but I cannot find any ground for such a suspicion; unless it be that we have no such works among us at present. There were indeed many greater advantages for building in those times, and in that part of the world, than have been met with ever since. The earth was extremely fruitful; men lived generally on pasturage, which requires a much smaller number of hands than agriculture. There were few trades to employ the busy part of mankind, and fewer arts and sciences to give work to men of speculative tempers: and, what is more than all the rest, the prince was absolute; so that, when he went to war, he put himself at the head of a whole people; as we find Semiramis leading her three millions to the field, and yet overpowered by the number of her enemies. It is no wonder, therefore, when she was at peace, and turned her thoughts on building, that she could accomplish so Of architecture, as it affects the imagination. Greatness in ar great works, with such a prodigious multitude of chitecture relates either to the bulk or to the manner. Great labourers: besides that in her climate there was fiess of bulk in the ancient oriental buildings. The ancient small interruption of frosts and winters, which accounts of these buildings confirmed, 1. From the advantages for raising such works, in the first ages of the world, and in the make the northern workmen lie half the year idle. eastern chmates; 2. From several of them which are still ex. I might mention too, among the benefits of the tant. Instances how greatness of manner affects the imagina. tion A French author's observations on this subject. Why climate, what historians say of the earth, that it concave and convex figures give a greatness of manner to sweated out a bitumen or natural kind of mortar, works of architecture. Every thing that pleases the imagination in architecture, is either great, beautiful or new.
ON THE PLEASURES OF THE IMAGINATION.
Ale tot egregias urbes, operumque laborem,
Next add our cities of our illustrious name,
HAVING already shown how the fancy is affected
which is doubtless the same with that mentioned in holy writ, as contributing to the structure of Babel: 'Slime they used instead of mortar.'
In Egypt they still see their pyramids, which answer to the descriptions that have been made of them; and I question not but a traveller might find out some remains of the labyrinth that covered a whole province, and had a hundred temples disposed among its several quarters and divisions.
The wall of China is one of these eastern pieces of magnificence, which makes a figure even in th map of the world, although an account of it would have been thought fabulous, were not the wall itself still extant.
We are obliged to devotion for the noblest build.
some redecessings that have adorned the several countries of the those buildings which are designed for pomp aud a more immedata world. It is this which has set men at work on magnificence. The reason I take to be, because produce these temples and public places of worship, not only in these figures we generally see more of the body, on, which have that they might, by the magnificence of the build- than in those of other kinds. There are, indeed, course. The aling, invite the Deity to reside within it, but that figures of bodies, where the eye may take in twochi stall conste such stupendous works might, at the same time, thirds of the surface; but as in such bodies the open the mind to vast conceptions, and fit it to sight must split upon several angles, it does not converse with the divinity of the place. For every take in one uniform idea, but several ideas of the thing that is majestic imprints an awfulness and same kind. Look upon the outside of a dome, reverence on the mind of the beholder, and strikes your eye half surrounds it; look upon the inside, in with the natural greatness of the soul. and at one glance you have all the prospect of it;
in which the
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In the second place we are to consider great- the entire concavity falls into your eye at once, the ness of manner in architecture, which has such sight being as the centre that collects and gathers force upon the imagination, that a small building, into it the lines of the whole circumference: in a where it appears, shall give the mind nobler ideas square pillar, the sight often takes in but a fourth than one of twenty times the bulk, where the man- part of the surface; and in a square concave, must ner is ordinary or little. Thus, perhaps, a man move up and down to the different sides, before it of Babel, of vir would have been more astonished with the majestic is master of all the inward surface. For this reaair that appeared in one of Lysippus's statues of son, the fancy is infinitely more struck with the Alexander, though no bigger than the life, than he view of the open air, and skies, that passes through might have been with mount Athos, had it been an arch, than what comes through a square, or any cut into the figure of the hero, according to the other figure. The figure of the rainbow does not proposal of Phidias, with a river in one hand, and contribute less to its magnificence, than the coa city in the other. lours to its beauty, as it is very poetically described Let any one reflect on the disposition of mind he by the son of Sirach: "Look upon the rainbow, finds in himself, at his first entrance into the Pan-and praise him that made it; very beautiful it is theon at Rome, and how the imagination is filled in its brightness; it encompasses the heavens with with something great and amazing; and, at the a glorious circle, and the hands of the Most High same time, consider how little, in proportion, he have bended it.'
gardens, a mile high
urlong in bet Babylonand take notes
by it in a
there a wonders da ground fre
ces to a
is affected with the inside of a gothic cathedral, Having thus spoken of that greatness which af-
I have seen an observation upon this subject in these two perfections in every building which
No 416. FRIDAY, JUNE 27, 1712.
ON THE PLEASURES OF THE IMAGINATION.
The secondary pleasures of the imagination. The several sources of these pleasures (statuary, painting, description, and music) compared together. The final cause of our receiving pleasure from these several sources. Of descriptions in particular. The power of words over the imagination. Why one reader more pleased with descriptions than another.
say then, that to introduce into architecture this grandeur of manner, we ought so to proceed, that the division of the principal members of the order may consist but of few parts, that they be all great, and of a bold and ample relievo and swelling; and that the eye beholding nothing little and mean, the imagination may be more vigorously touched and affected with the work that stands before it. For example; in a cornice, if the gola or cymatium of the corona, the coping, the modillions or dentelli, make a noble show by their graceful projections, if we see none of that ordinary confusion which is the result of those little cavities, quarter rounds of the astragal, and I know not how many other intermingled particulars, which produce no effect in great and massy works, and which very unprofitably take up place to the prejudice of the principal member, it is most certain that this manner will appear solemn and great; as, on the con- I AT first divided the pleasures of the imagination trary, that it will have but a poor and mean effect, into such as arise from objects that are actually where there is a redundancy of those smaller orna- before our eyes, or that once entered in at our ments, which divide and scatter the angles of the leyes, and are afterwards called up into the mind sight into such a multitude of rays, so pressed to either barely by its own operations, or on occasion gether that the whole will appear but a confusion.' of something without us, as statues, or descriptions. Among all the figures of architecture, there are We have already considered the first division, and none that have a greater air than the concave and shall therefore enter on the other, which, for disthe convex; and we find in all the ancient and tinction sake, I have called The Secondary Pleamodern architecture, as well in the remote parts of sures of the Imagination.' When I say the ideas China, as in countries nearer home, that round we receive from statues, descriptions, or such like pillars and vaulted roofs make a great part of occasions, are the same that were once actually in
ther, and observing the congruity or disagreement that appears among the several works of nature.
But I shall here confine myself to those pleasures of the imagination, which proceed from ideas raised by words, because most of the observations that agree with descriptions, are equally applicable to painting and statuary.
our view, it must not be understood that we had pleasure to this operation of the mind, was to once seen the very place, action, or person, which quicken and encourage us in our searches after are carved or described. It is sufficient that we truth, since the distinguishing one thing from an have seen places, persons, or actions in general, other, and the right discerning betwixt our ideas, which bear a resemblance, or at least some remote depends wholly upon our comparing them toge analogy, with what we find represented; since it is in the power of the imagination, when it is once stocked with particular ideas, to enlarge, compound, and vary them at her own pleasure. Among the different kinds of representation, statuary is the most natural, and shows us something likest the object that is represented. To make use of a common instance, let one who is born blind, Words, when well chosen, have so great a force take an image in his hands, and trace out with his in them, that a description often gives us more fingers the different furrows and impressions of the lively ideas than the sight of things themselves. chisel, and he will easily conceive how the shape The reader finds a scene drawn in stronger colours, of a man, or beast, may be represented by it; but and painted more to the life in his imagination, by should he draw his hand over a picture, where all the help of words than by an actual survey of the is smooth and uniform, he would never be able to scene which they describe. In this case the poet imagine how the several prominences and depres- seems to get the better of nature: he takes, insions of a human body could be shown on a plain deed, the landscape after her, but gives it more piece of canvass, that has in it no unevenness or vigorous touches, heightens its beauty, and so enirregularity. Description runs yet further from the livens the whole piece, that the images which flow thing it represents than painting: for a picture from the objects themselves appear weak and faint, bears a real resemblance to its original, which in comparison of those that come from the expres letters and syllables are wholly void of. Colours sions. The reason, probably, may be, because, in speak all languages, but words are understood the survey of any object, we have only so much of only by such a people or nation. For this reason, it painted on the imagination as comes in at the though men's necessities quickly put them on find- eye; but in its description, the poet gives us as ing out speech, writing is probably of a later in. free a view of it as he pleases, and discovers to us vention than painting; particularly we are told several parts, that either we did not attend to, or that in America, when the Spaniards first arrived that lay out of our sight when we first beheld it. there, expresses were sent to the emperor of As we look on any object, our idea of it is, per Mexico in paint, and the news of his country deli-haps, made up of two or three simple ideas; but neated by the strokes of a pencil, which was a when the poet represents it, he may either give us more natural way than that of writing, though at a the same time much more imperfect, because it is impossible to draw the little connections of speech, It may be here worth our while to examine how or to give the picture of a conjunction or an ad it comes to pass that several readers, who are all verb. It would be yet more strange to represent acquainted with the same language, and know the visible objects by sounds that have no ideas an- meaning of the words they read, should neverthe nexed to them, and to make something like de- less have a different relish of the same descriptions. scription in music. Yet it is certain, there may We find one transported with a passage, which anbe confused imperfect notions of this nature raised other runs over with coldness and indifference; of in the imagination by an artificial composition of finding the representation extremely natural, where notes; and we find that great masters in the art are another can perceive nothing of likeness and con able, sometimes, to set their hearers in the heat formity. This different taste must proceed either and hurry of a battle, to overcast their minds with from the perfection of imagination in one more melancholy scenes and apprehensions of deaths than in another, or from the different ideas that and funerals, or to lull them into pleasing dreams several readers affix to the same words. For, to of groves and elysiums. have a true relish, and form a right judgment of a
more complex idea of it, or only raise in us such ideas as are most apt to affect the imagination.
In all these instances, this secondary pleasure of description, a man should be born with a good the imagination proceeds from that action of the imagination, and must have well weighed the force mind, which compares the ideas arising from the and energy that lie in the several words of a lanoriginal objects with the ideas we receive from guage, so as to be able to distinguish which are the statue, picture, description, or sound, that re- most significant and expressive of their proper presents them. It is impossible for us to give the ideas, and what additional strength and beauty necessary reason why this operation of the mind is they are capable of receiving from conjunction attended with so much pleasure, as I have before with others. The fancy must be warm, to retain observed on the same occasion; but we find a great the print of those images it hath received from outvariety of entertainments derived from this single ward objects; and the judgment discerning, to principle: for it is this that not only gives us a know what expressions are most proper to clothe relish of statuary, painting, and description, but and adorn them to the best advantage. A man makes us delight in all the actions and arts of mi- who is deficient in either of these respects, though micry. It is this that makes the several kinds of he may receive the general notion of a description, wit pleasant, which consists, as I have formerly can never see distinctly all its particular beauties; shown, in the affinity of ideas; and we may add, as a person with a weak sight may have the coit is this also that raises the little satisfaction we fused prospect of a place that lies before him, sometimes find in the different sorts of false wit; without entering into its several parts, or discern whether it consists in the affinity of letters, as an ing the variety of its colours in their full glory and anagram, acrostic: or of syllables, as in doggrel perfection. rhymes, echoes; or of words, as in puns, quibbles; or of a whole sentence or poem, as wings and The final cause, probably, of annexing