« 上一頁繼續 »
the mind receives a great deal of satisfaction, and has two of its faculties gratified at the same time, while the fancy is busied 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 tracts 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 aptto fetch their comparisonsand 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
into a game
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
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 generalily, 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 greater variety to God's works. In á 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 graitfy the fancy; and here, perhaps, it would not be very difficult to cast un
der 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 an 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 Eumenidum veluti demens videt agmina Pentheus, Et solem geminum, et duplices se ostendere Thebas: Aut Agamemnonius scenis agitatus Orestes, Armatam facibus matrem et serpentibus atris Cùm fugit, ultricesque sedent in limine diræ. Virg. En. Like Pentheus, when distracted by his fear, He saw two suns, and double Thebes appear Or mad Orestes, when his mother's ghost Full in his face infernal torches tost. And shook her snaky locks: he shuns the sight, Flies o’er the stage, surprised with mortal fright; The furies guard the door, and intercept his fight.
DRYDEN. 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 conclusion, what an infinite advantage this faculty gives an Almighty Being over the soul of man, and how great a measure of happiness or misery we are capable of receiving from the imagination only.
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 VOL. VIII.
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
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 can not possibly enter into our present conceptions, or haunt it with such ghastly spectres 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 the whole heaven or hell of
No. 422. FRIDAY, JULY 4.
TOLL. EPIST. I have written this, not out of abundance of leisure, but of my affection towards you.
I do not know any thing 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 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 can not 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 to show a man you do not care whether he is pleased or displeased. But won't you 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 l perform what my infirmity of silence disables me to do.
Callisthenes 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 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 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 agreea