« 上一頁繼續 »
2. The swallows are authors, that are eternally skimming and futtering up and down, but all their agility is employed to catch fies. L. T. W. P. Lord H.
3. The ostriches are such, whose heaviness rarely perinits them to raise themselves from the ground; their wings are of no use to lift them up, and their motion is between flying and walking; but then they run very fast. D. F. L. E. the hon. E. H,
4. The parrots are they, that repeat another's words in such a hoarse odd voice, as makes them seem their own. W. B. W.S. C. C. the reverend D. D.
5. The didappers are authors, that keep themselves long out of sight, under water, and come up now and then, where you least expected them. L. W. G. D. Esq. The hon. Sir W. Y.
6. The porpoises are unwieldy and big; they put all their numbers into a great turmoil and tempest, but whenever they appear in plain light (which is seldom) they are only shapeless and ugly monsters. I. D. C. G. 1. O.
7. The frogs are such, as can neither walk nor Ay, but can leap and bound to admiration ; they live generally in the bottom of a ditch, and make a great noise, whenever they thrust their heads above wa.er. E. W. I. M. Esq. T. D. gent.
8. The eels are obscure authors, that wrap themselves up in their own mud, but are mighty nimble and pert. L. W. L. T. P. M. general C.
9. The tortoises are slow and chill, and like pastoral writers, delight much in gardens: they have for the most part a fine embroidered shell, and underneath it a heavy lump. A. P. W. B. L. E. The right hon. E. of S.
These are the chief characteristics of the bathos, and in each of these kinds we have the comfort to be blessed with sundry and manifold choice spirits in this our island.
Of the profund, when it consists in the thought.
W E have already laid down the principles, upon which our author is to proceed, and the manner of forming his thought by familiarizing his mind to the lowest objects; to which, it may be added, that vulgar conversation will greatly contribute. There is no question, but the garret or the printer's boy may often be discerned in the compositions made in such scenes and company; and much of Mr. Curl himself has been insensibly infused into the works of his learned writers.
The physician, by the study and inspection of urine and ordure, approves himself in the science; and in like sort, should our author accustom and exercise his imagination upon the dregs of nature.
This will render his thoughts truly and fundamentally low, and carry him many fathoms beyond mediocrity. For, certain it is (though some lukewarm heads imagine they may be safe by temporizing between the extremes) that where there is not a triticalness or mediocrity in the thought, it can never be sunk into the genuine and perfect bathos by the most elaborate low expression : it can, at most, be only carefully
obscured, or metaphorically debased. But, it is the thought alone that strikes, and gives the whole that spirit, which we admire and stare at. For instance, in that ingenious piece on a lady's drinking the Bathwaters: She drinks! she drinks! behold the matchless dame! To her 'tis water, but to us 'tis Aame: Thus fire is water, water fire by turns, And the same stream at once both cools and burns *,
What can be more easy and unaffected, than the diction of these verses; it is the turn of thought alone, and the variety of imagination, that charm and surprise us. And when the same lady goes into the bath, the thought (as in justice it ought) goes still deeper: Venus beheld her, ’midst her crowd of slaves, And thought herself just risen from the waves t.
How much out of the way of common sense is this reflection of Venus, not knowing herself from the lady?
Of the same nature is that noble mistake of a frighted stag in a full chace, who, saith the poetHears his own feet, and thinks they sound like more; And fears the hind-fect will o’ertake the fore.
So astonishing as these are, they yield to the following, which is profundity itself. None but himself can be his parallel 1.
Unless it may seein borrowed from the thought of that master of a show in Smithfield, who writ in large letters over the picture of his elephant,
This is the greatest elephant in the world, except himself.
Theobald, Double Falshood.
However, our next instance is certainly an original. Speaking of a beautiful infant, So fair thou art, that if great Cupid be A child, as poets say, sure thou art he. Fair Venus would mistake thee for her own, Did not thy eyes proclaim thee not her son. There all the lightnings of thy mother's shine, And with a fatal brightness kill in thine.
First he is Cupid, then he is not Cupid; first Venus would mistake him, then she would not mistake him; next his eyes are his mother's, and lastly they are not his mother's, but his own.
Another author describing a poet, that shines forth amid a circle of criticks, Thus Phæbus through the zodiack takes his way, And amid monsters rises into day.
What a peculiarity is here of invention ! the author's pencil, like the wand of Circe, turns all into monsters at a stroke. A great genius takes things in the lump, without stopping at minute considerations: in vain might the ram, the bull, the goat, the lion, the crab, the scorpion, the fishes, all stand in its way, as mere natural animals : much more might it be pleaded, that a pair of scales, an old man, and two innocent children, were no monsters: there were only the centaur and the maid, that could be esteemed out of nature. But what of that? with a boldness peculiar to these daring geniuses, what he found not monsters, he made so.
Of the profund, consisting in the circumstances: and of
amplification and periphrase in general.
W HAT in a great measure distinguishes other writers from ours, is their choosing and separating such circumstances in a description, as ennoble or elevate the subject.
The circumstances, which are most natural, are obvious, therefore not astonishing or peculiar : but those, that are far-fetched or unexpectel!, or hardly compatible, will surprise prodigiously. These therefore we must principally hunt out; but above all preserve a laudable prolixity : pre.enting the whole and every side at once of the image to view. For, choice and distinction are not only a curb to the spirit, and limit the descriptive faculty, but also lessen the book; which is frequently the worst consequence of all to our author.
Job says in short, he washed his feet in butter; a circumstance some poets would have softened, or passed over: now hear how this butter is spread out by the great genius.
With teats distended with their milky store,
* Blackm. Job, p. 133.