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could have furnished a poet with scenes sol of any face where the resemblance is hit : proper to strike the imagination, as no other but the pleasure increases if it be the picture poet could have painted those scenes in more of a face that is beautiful ; and is still greatstrong and lively colours.
0. er, if the beauty be softened with an air of
melancholy or sorrow. The two leading pas
sions which the more serious parts of poeNo. 418.] Monday, June 30, 1712.
try endeavour to stir up in us, are terror and PAPER VIII.
pity. And here, by the way one would
wonder how it comes to pass that such pasON THE PLEASURES OF THE IMAGINATION.
"sions as are very unpleasant at all other tines, Contents.-Why any thing that is unpleasant to behold are very agreeable wben excited by proper de
pleases the imagination when well described. Why scriptions. It is not strange, that we should tho imagination receives a more exquisite pleasure
e preguntake delight in such passages as are apt to profrom the description of what is great, new, or beautitul. The pleasure bull heightened, if what is described rais-duce hope, joy, admiration, love, or the like es passion in the mind. Disagreeable passions pleasing emotions, in us, because they never rise in the when raised by apt descriptions. Why terror and grief mind without an inward pleasure which attends are pleasing to the mind who excited by description. them. But how comes it to PASS, that we A particular advantage the writers in poetry and tiction have to please the imagination. Whai liberties are al- should take delight in being terrified or delowed them.
jected by a description, when we find so much
uneasiness in the fear or grief which we receive forat et rubus asper amomum. Virg. Ecl. iii. 89.
from any other occasion ? The rugged thorn shall bear the fragrant rose. If we consider, therefore, the nature of this
pleasure, we shall find that it does not arise so The pleasures of these secondary views of properly from the description of what is terthe imagination are of a wider and more uni-rible, as from the reflection we make on ourversal outure than those it has when joined selves at the tine of reading it. When we with sight; for not only what is great, strange, look on such hideous objects, we are not or beautiful, but anv thing that is disagreca- a little pleased to think we are in no danger ble when looked upon, pleases us in an apt of them.* We consider them at the same description. Here, therefore, we must inquire time, as dreadful and harmless : so that the after a new principle of pleasure, which is more frightful appearance they make, the nothing else but the action of the mind, which greater is the pleasure we receive from the compares the ideas that arise from words with sense of our own safety. In short, we look the ideas that arise from objects themselves ; upon the terrors of a description with the same and why this operation of the mind is atiend-curiosity and satisfaction that we survey a ed with so much pleasure, we have before con-dead monster. sidered. For this reason, therefore, the description of a dunghill is pleasing to the ima.
Protrahitur: nequeunt expleri corda tuendo gination, if the image be represented to our
" Terribiles oculos, vulturn villosaque setis minds by suitable expressions; though, per- Pectora semiferi atque extinctos faucibus ignes. haps, this may be more properly called the
Virg. Æa, viii. 264. pleasure of the understanding than of the fan
- They drag him from his den. cy, because we are not so much delighted with
The wond'ring neighbourhood, with gind surprise, the image that is contained in the description, Behold his shagged breast, his giant scize, as with the aptness of the description to excite His mouth that dames no more, bis extinguish'd eyes. the image.
Dryden. But if the description of what is little, com
It is for the same reason that we are demon, or deformed, be acceptable to the imagi-|
The mighlighted with the reflecting upon dangers that nation, the description of what is great, sur
are past, or in looking on a precipice at a prising or beautiful, is much more so; because
distance, which would fill us with a different here we are not only delighted with compar
kind of horror, if we saw it hanging over: ing the representation with the original, but
our heads. are highly pleased with the original itself.
In the like manner, when we read of torMost readers, I believe, are more charmed
ments, wounds, deaths, and the like dismal acwith Milton's description of Paradise, than of
cidents, our pleasure dees not flow so properly hell; they are both, perhaps, equally perfect
from the grief which such melancholy descripin their kind; but in the one the brimstone and
tions give us, as from the secret comparison sulphur are not so refreshing to the imagina
which we make between ourselves and the pertion, as the beds of flowers and the wilderness
son who suffers. Such representations teach of sweets in the other
us to set a just value upon our own condition, There is yet another circumstance which re
and make us prize our good fortune, which excommeuds a description more than all the
"empts us from the like calamities. This is, rest ; and that is, ifit represents to us such ob
however, such a kind of pleasure as we are not jects as are apt to raise a secret ferment in the
capable of reciving, when we see a person acmind of the reader, and to work with violencel)
tually lying under the tortures that we meet upon his passions. For, in this case, we are at
with in a description ; because, in this case, once warmed and enlightened, so that the pleasure becomes more universal, and is several ways qualified to entertain us. Thus in +Suave mare dulci turhantibus æquora ventis,' &c.
Lurr. painting, it is pleasant to look on the picture
the object presses too close upon our senses, qualified for it. The pleasures of the imagination that and bears so bard upon us, that it does not
arise from it. In this respect why the moderns excel
the ancients. Why the English excel the moderns. give us time or leisure to reflect on ourselves.
Who the best among the English. Of emblematiez Our thoughts are so intent upon the miseries
persons. of the sufferer, that we cannot turn them up
- Mentis gratissimus error. on our own happiness. Whereas, on the
Hor. 2. Ep. ii. Lib. 2. 14e. contrary, we consider the misfortunes we read in history or poetry, either as past, or
The sweet delusion of a raplur'd mind. as fictitious; so that the reflection upon our
TAERE is a kind of writing wherein the poselves rises in us insensibly, and overbears the
et quite loses sight of nature, and entertains sorrow we conceive for the gutterings of the his reader's imagination with the characters aflicted.
and actions of such persons as have many of But because the mind of man requires some
s somethem no existence but what he bestows on thing more perfect in matter than what it finds
ods them. Such are fairies, witches, magicians, there, and ean never meet with any sight in
demons, and departed spirits. This Mr. Drynature which sufficiently answers its highest den calls the fairy way of writing, which ideas of pleasantness; or, in other words, beliai
is indeed more difficult than any other that cause the imagination can fancy to itself things
things depends on the poet's fancy, because he has more great, strange, or beautiful than the
no pattern to follow in it, and must work altoeye ever saw, and is still sensible of some
Igether out of his own invention. defect in what it has seen; on this account There is a very odd turn of thought required it is the part of a poet to humour the imala
: ha for this sort of writing; and it is impossible for gination in our own notions, by mending and
a poet to succeed in it, who has not a particuperfecting nature where he describes a reali
lar cast of fancy, and an imagination naturally ty, and by adding greater beauties than are
fruitful and superstitious. Besides this, he put together in nature, where he describes a
sa ought to be very well versed in legends and fiction.
fables, antiquated romances, and the tradiHe is not obliged to attend her in the slow
tions of nurses and old women, that he may advances which she makes from one season to fall in with our natural prejudices, and huanother, or to observe her conduct in the suc
Imour those notions which we have imbibed cessive production of plants and flowers. He
in our infancy. For otherwise be will be apt may draw into his description all the beauties
to make his fairies talk like people of his of the spring and autumn, and make the whole
own species, and not like other sects of be. year contribute something to render it the
lings, who converse with different objects, inore agreeable. His rose-trees, woodbines, and
and think in a different manner from that of jasmines, may flower together, and his beds
mankind. be covered at the same time with lilies, violets and amaranths. Ilis soil is not restrained to Sylvis deducti caveant, me judice, fauni, any particular set of plants, but is proper Ne velut innati triviis, ac penè forenses, either for oaks or myrtles, and adapts itself to
Aut nimium tencris juvenentur versibus
Hor. Ars Poet. v. 244. the products of every climate. Oranges may grow wild in it: myrrh may be met with in
Let not the wood-horn satyr fondly sport
With am'rous verses, as if bred at court.- Franeis. every hedge; and if he thinks it proper to have a grove of spices, he can quickly com I do not say, with Mr. Bays in the Rehearsal mand sup enough to raise it. If all this will lubat spirits must not be confined to speak not furnish out an agreeable scene, he can sense: but it is certain their sense ought to be znake several new species of flowers, with rich- a little discoloured, that it may seem particuer scents and higher colours than any that lar, and proper to the person and condition of grow in the gardens of nature. His concerts the speaker. of birds may be as full and harmonious, and These descriptions raise a pleasing kind of his woods as thick and gloomy as he pleases. horror in the mind of the reader, and amuse He is at no more expense in a long vista than his imagination with the strangeness and noa short one, and can as easily throw his cas- velty of the persons who are represented to cades from a precipice of half a mile high, as I them. They bring up into our memory the from one of twenty yards. He has his choice stories we have heard in our childhood, and of the winds, and can turn the course of his favour those secret terrors and apprehensions rivers in all the variety of meanders that are to which the niind of man is naturally subject. most delightful to the reader's imagipation. We are pleased with surveying the different In a word, he has the modelling of nature in habits and behaviours of foreign countries : his own hands, and may give her what charms how much more must we be delighted and surhe pleases, provided he does not reform her
prised when we are led, as it were, into a new Too much, and run into absurdities by endea creation, and see the persons and manners of vouring to excel.
another species! Men of cold fancies, and phi
losophical dispositions, object to this kind of No. 419.] Tuesday, July 1, 1712
poetry, that it has not probability enough to
affect the imagination. But to this it may be PAPER IX.
answered, that we are sure, in general, there ON THE PLEASURES OF THE IMAGINATION.
are many intellectual beings in the world beContente..Of that kind of poetry which Mr. Dryden
sides ourselves, and several species of spirits, calls 'the fairy way of writing.' How a poet should bo who are subject to different lays and econo
mies from those of mankind; when we see, of nature for its province, but makes new therefore, any of these represented naturally, worlds of its own, shows us persons who are we cannot look upon the representation as not to be found in being, and represents even altogether impossible ; nay, many are pre- the faculties of the soul, with the several virpossest with such false opinions, as dispose tues and vices, in a sensible shape and chathem to believe these particular delusions ; racter. at least we have all heard so many pleasing I shall, in my two following papers, conrelations in favour of them, that we do not sider, in general, how other kinds of writing care for seeing through the falsehood, and wil- are qualified to please the imagination, with lingly give ourselves up to so agreeable an which I intend to concinde this essay. 0. imposture.
The ancients have not much of this poetry | No. 420.1 Wednesday, July 2, 1712. among them ; for, indeed, almost the whole substance of it owes its original to the dark
PAPER X. ness and superstition of later ages, when pious frauds were made use of to amuse mankind,
ouS ON THE PLEASURES OF THE IMAGINATION. and frighten them into a sense of their duty. Contents.-What authors please the imagination. Who Our forefathers looked upon nature with more have nothing to do with fiction. How history pleasca reverence and horror, before the world was
the imagination. How the authors of the new philoso
phy please the imagination. The bounds and defects enlightened by learning and philosophy; and of the imagination. Whether these defects are essenloved to astonish themselves with the appre tial to the imagination. hensions of witchcraft, prodigies, charms, and
Quocunque volunt mentem auditoris agunto. enchantments. There was not a village in
Hor. Ars Poet. v. 100. England that had not a ghost in it; the
And raise men's passions to what height they will. church-yards were all haunted; every large
Roscommon. common had a circle of fairies belonging to it; and there was scarce a shepherd to be met As the writers in poetry and fiction borrow with who had not seen a spirit.
their several materials from the outward obAmong all the poets of this kind our English jects, and join them togther at their own are much the best, by what I have yet seen; pleasure, there are others who are obliged to whether it be that we abound with more stories follow nature more closely, and to take entire of this nature, or that the genius of our coun- scenes out of her. Such are historians, natutry is fitter for this sort of poetry. For the ral philosophers, travellers, geographers, and. English are naturally fanciful, and very often in a word, all who describe visible objects of a disposed, by that gloominess and melancholy real existence. of temper which is so frequent in our nation, l It is the most agreeable talent of an historian to many wild notions and visions, to which to be able to draw up his armies and fight his others are not so liable.
battles in proper expressions, to set before Among the English, Shakespeare has incom our eyes the divisions, cabals, and jealousies parably excelled all others. That noble ex of great men, to lead us step by step into the travagance of fancy, which he had in so great several actions and events of his history. We perfection, thoroughly qualified him to touch love to see the subject unfolding itself by just this weak superstitious part of the reader's degrees, and breaking upon us insensibly, that imagination; and made him capable of suc- so we may be kept in a pleasing suspense, and ceeding, where he had nothing to support have time given us to raise our expectations, him besides the strength of his own genius. and to side with one of the parties concerned There is something so wild, and yet so so- in the relation. I confess this shows more the lemn, in the speeches of his ghosts, fairies, art than the veracity of the historian ; but I witches, and the like imaginary persons, am only to speak of him as he is qualified to that we cannot forbear thinking them natu- please the imagination ; and in this respect ral, though we have no rule by which to Livy has, perhaps, excelled all who went bejudge of them, and must confess, if there are fore him, or have written since his time. He such beings in the world, it looks highly pro- describes everything in so lively a manner, bable they should talk and act as he has re- that his whole history is an admirable picpresented them.
|ture, and touches on such proper circumstanThere is another sort of imaginary beings, ces in every story, that his reader becomes a that we sometimes meet with among the poets, kind of spectator, and feels in himself all the when the author represents any passion, appe-variety of passions which are correspondent tite, virtue or vice, under a visible shape, and to the several parts of the relations. makes it a person or an actor in his poem. Of But among this set of writers there are this nature are the descriptions of Hunger and none who more gratify and enlarge the imaEnvy in Ovid, of Fame in Virgil, and of Sin and gination than the authors of the new philoDeath in Milton. We find a whole creation of sophy, whether we consider their theories of the like shadowy persons in Spenser, who had the earth or heavens, the discoveries they have an admirable talent in representations of this made by glasses, or any other of their conkind. I have discoursed of these emblematical templations on nature. We are not a little persons in former papers, and shall therefore pleased to find every green leaf swarm with only mention them in this place. Thus we see millions of animals, that at their largest how many ways poetry addresses itself to the growth are not visible to the naked eye. imagination, as it has not only the whole circle There is something very engaging to the fans cy, as well as to our reason, in these treatises hundred times less than a mite, or to compare of metals, minerals, plants, and meteors. But in his thoughts a length of a thousand diamewhen we survey the whole earth at once, and ters of the earth, with that of a million, and the several planets that lie within its neigh- he will quickly find that he has no different bourhood, we are filled with a pleasing asto-measures in his mind adjusted to such extranishment, to see so many worlds, banging one ordinary degrees of grandeur or minuteness, above another, and sliding round their axles The understanding, indeed, opens an infinite in such an amazing pomp and solemnity. Ii, space on every side of us; but the imaginaafter this, we contemplate those wild* fields tion, after a few faint efforts, is immediately at of æther, that reach in height as far as from a stand, and finds herself swallowed up in the Saturn to the fixed stars, and run abroad al-limmensity of the void that surrounds it. Our most to an infinitude, our imagination finds reason can pursue a particle of matter through its capacity filled with so immense a prospect, an infinite variety of divisions; but the fancy and puts itself upon the stretch to comprehend soon loses sight of it, and feels in itself a kind it. But if we yet rise higher, and consider of chasm, that wants to be filled with matter the fixed stars as so many vast oceans of flame, of a inore sensible bulk. We can neither withat are each of them attended with a differ- den nor contract the faculty to the dimension ent set of planets, and still discover new fir- of either extreme. The object is too big for maments and new lights that are sunk farther our capacity, when we would comprehend the in those unfathonable depths of ather, so as not circumference of a world; and dwindles into to be seen by the strongest of our telescopes, nothing, when we endeavour after the idea we are lost in such a labyrinth of suns and of an atom. worlds, and confounded with the immensity. It is possible this defect of imagination may and magnificence of nature.
not be in the soul itself, but as it acts in conNothing is more pleasant to the fancy, than junction with the body. Perhaps there may to enlarge itself by degrees, in its contempla. not be room in the brain for such a variety of tion of the various proportions which its seve- impressions, or the animal spirits may be inral objects bears to each other, when it com- capable of figuring them in such a manner as pares the body of man to the bulk of the whole is necessary to excite so very large or very earth, the earth to the circle it describes round minute ideas. However it be, we may well the sun, that circle to the sphere of the fixed suppose that beings of a higher nature very stars, the sphere of the fixed stars to the cir- much excel us in this respect, as it is probable cuit of the whole creation, the whole creation the soul of man will be infinitely more peritself to the iofiuite space that is every where fect hereafter in this faculty, as well as in all diffused about it; or when the imagination the rest; insomuch that, perhaps, the imagiworks downward, and considers the bulk of a nation will be able to keep pace with the human body in respect of an animal a hun understanding, and to form in itself distinct dred times less than a mite, the particular ideas of all the different modes and quantilimbs of such an animal, the different springs (ties of space.
0. that actuate the limbs, the spirits which set the springs a-going, and the proportionable minuteness of these several parts, before they have
No. 421.] Thursday, July 8, 1712. arrived at their full growth and perfection ;
PAPER XI. but if, after all this, we take the least parti. cle of these animal spirits, and consider its ON THE PLEASURES OF THE IMAGINATION. capacity of being wrought into a world that
Contents.--How those please the imagination who treat shall contain within those narrow dimensions of subjects abstract from matter, by allusions taken from a heaven and earth, stars and planets, and it. What allusions most pleasing to the imagination. every different species of living creatures, in
Great writers, how faulty in this respect. Of the art of
imagining in general. The imagination capable of pain the same analogy and proportion they bear to
as well as pleasure. In what degree the imagination each other in our own universe; such a specu is capable either of pain or pleasure. lation, by reason of its nicety, appears ridicu
Ignotis errare locis, ignota videre, lous to those who have not turned their thoughts Flumina gaudebat; studio ininuente laborom, that way, though at the same time it is founded
Ovid. Met. vi. 294. on no less than the evidence of a demonstration.
He sought frosh fountains in a foreign soil; Nay, we may yet carry it farther, and disco
The pleasure lessen'd the attending toil.--Addison. ver in the smallest particle of this little world a new inexbausted fund o matter, capable of THE pleasures of the imagination are not being spun out into another universe.
wholly confined to such particular authors as I have dwelt the longer on this subject, be- are conversant in material objects, but are cause I think it may show us the proper limits, often to be met with among the polite masters as well as the defectiveness of our imagination; of morality, criticism, and other speculations how it is confined to a very sinall quantity of abstracted from matter, who, though they do space, and immediately stopt in its operation, not directly treat of the visible parts of nawhen it endeavours to take in any thing that tore, often draw from them their similitudes, is very great or very little. Let a man try to metaphors, and allegories. By these allusions, conceive the different bulk of an animal, a truth in the understanding is, as it were, rewhich is twenty, from another which is an fiected by the imagination; we are able to see
something like colour and shape in a notion, Vid ed, in folio,
and to discover a scheme of thoughts traced
out upon matter. And here the mind receives more glorious shews and apparitions than can a great deal of satisfaction, and has two of its be found in any part of it. faculties gratified at the same time, while the We have now discovered the several origithe fancy is busy in copying after the under-nals of those pleasures that gratify the fancy : standing, and transcribing ideas out of the in- and here, perhaps, it would not be very diffi tellectual world into the material.
cult to cast under their proper heads those The great art of a writer shows itself in the contrary objects, which are apt to fill it with choice of pleasing allusions, which are gene- distaste and terror; for the imagination is as rally to be taken from the great or beautiful liable to pain as pleasure. When the brain works of art or nature; for, though whatever is hurt by any accident, or the mind disoris new or uncommon is apt to delight the ima- dered by dreams or sickness, the fancy is over. gination, the chief design of an allusion being run with wild dismal ideas, and terrified with to illustrate and explain the passages of an a thousand hideous monsters of its own framauthor, it should be always borrowed from ing. what is more known and common than the passages which are to be explained.
Eumenidum veluti demens videt agmina Penthens, Allegories, when well chosen, are like so
Et solem geminum, et duplices se ostendere Thebas:
Aut Agamemnonius scenis agitatus Orestes, many tracks of light in a discourse, that make
Armatam facibus matrem et serpentibus atris every thing about them clear and beautiful.
Cum fugit, ultricesque sedent in limine dire. A poble metaphor, when it is placed to an ad
Virg. En. 469. gantage, casts a kind of glory round it, and
Like Pentheus, when distracted with his fear, darts a lasire through a whole sentence.
He saw two suns, and double Thebes appear: These different kinds of allusion are but so
Or mad Orestes, when his mother's ghost many different manners of similitude; and Full in his face infernal torches tost, that they may please the imagination, the
And shook her snaky locks: he shuns the sight:.
Flies o'er the stage, surpris'd with mortal fright; likeness ought to be very exact or very agree
The furies guard the door, and intercept his flight. S able, as we love to set a picture where the re
Dryt n. semblance is just, or the posture and air graceful. But we often find eminent writers
There is not a sight in nature so mortifying very faulty in this respect: great scholars are as that of a distracted person, when his imagi. apt to fetch their comparisons and allusions pation is troubled, and is whole soul disordered from the sciences in which they are most and confused. Babylon in ruins is not so meconversant, so that a man may see the com- lancholy a spectacle. But to quit so disagreepass of their. Icarning in a treatise on the able a subject, I shall only consider, by way most indifferent subject. I have read a dis- of conclusion, what an infinate advantage this course upon love, which none but a profound faculty gives an almighty Being over the soul chymist could understand, and have heard of man, and how great a measure of happiness many a sermon that should only have been or misery we are capable of receiving from preached before a congregation of Cartesians. the imagination only. On the contrary, your men of business usu. We have already seen the influence that ally have recourse to such instances as are one man has over the fancy of another, and too mean and familiar. They are for drawing with what ease he conveys into it a variety of the reader into a game of chess or tennis, or imagery: how great a power then may we for leading him from shop to shop, in the suppose lodged in Him who knows all the ways cant of particular trades and employments. of affecting the imagination, who can infuse It is certain, there may be found an infinite what ideas he pleases, and fill those ideas with variety of very agreeable allusions in both terror and delight to what degree he thinks fit! these kinds; but, for the generality, the most He can excite images in the miod without the entertaining ones lie in the works of nature, help of words and, make scenes rise up before which are obvious to all capacities, and more us, and secm present to the eye, without the delightful than what is to be found in arts and assistance of bodies or exterior objects. He sciences.
can transport the imagination with such beauIt is this talent of affecting the imagination tiful and glorious visions as cannot possibly that gives an embellishment to good sense, and enter into our present conceptions, or haunt makes one man's composition more agreeable it with such ghastly spectres and apparitions,
It sets off all writings in gen-las would make us hope for annihilation, and eral, but is the very life and highest perfection think existence no better than a curse. In of poetry, where it shines in an eminent de- short, he can so exquisitely ravish or torture gree: it has preserved several poems for ma- the soul through this single faculty, as might ny ages, that have nothing else to recommend suffice to make the whole heaven or hell of them; and where all the other beauties are any finite being. present, the work appears dry and insipid, if (This essay on the Pleasures of the Imaginathis single one be wanting. It has something tion having been published in separate pain it like creation. It bestows a kind of exist-pers, I shall conclude it with a table of the ence, and draws up to the reader's view seve-principal contents of each paper.*] 0. ral objects which are not to be found in being. It makes additions to nature, and gives great. er variety to God's works. In a word, it is. * These contents are printed all together in the original
folio, at the end of No. 421 ; but are in this edition arranable to beautify and adorn the most illustrious
ged in their proper places, and placed at the beginnings scenes in the universe, or to fill the mind with of the screral papers