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of visible objects, when the objects are not actually before the eye, but are called up into our memories, or formed into agreeable visions of things, that are either absent or fictitious.
It is a great rule in laying down the division of a subject, to study neatness and brevity as much as possible. The divisions are then more distinctly apprehended, and more easily remembered. This sentence is not perfectly happy in that respect. It is somewhat clogged by a tedious phraseology. My design being first of all, to discourse-in the next place to speakof-such objects as are before our eyes-things that are either absent or fictitious. Several words might have been spared here; and the style made more neat and compact.
The pleasures of the imagination, taken in their full extent, are not so gross as those of sense, nor so refined as those of the understanding.'
This sentence is distinct and elegant.
• The last are indeed more preferable, because they are founded on some new knowledge or improvement in the mind of man: yet it must be confessed, that those of the imagination are as great and as transporting as the other.'
In the beginning of this sentence, the phrase more preferable, is such a plain inaccuracy, that one wonders how Mr. Addison should have fallen into it; seeing preferable, of itself, expresses the comparative degree, and is the same with more eligible, or more excellent.
I must observe farther, that the proposition contained in the last member of this sentence, is neither clear nor neatly expressed-it must be con fessed, that those of the imagination are as great and as transporting as the other. In the former sentence, he had compared three things together; the pleasures of the imagination, those of sense, and those of the understanding. In the beginning of this sentence, he had called the pleasures of the understanding the last ; and he ends the sentence, with observing, that those of the imagination are as great and transporting as the other. Now, besides that the other makes not a proper contrast with the last, he leaves it ambiguous, whether, by the other, he meant the pleasures of the understanding, or the pleasures of the sense; for it may refer to either, by the construction; though, undoubtedly, he intended that it should refer to the pleasures of the understanding only. The proposition reduced to perspicuous language, runs thus: - Yet it must be confessed, that the pleasures of the imagination, when compared with those of the understanding, are no less great and transporting.'
A beautiful prospect delights the soul as much as a demonstration; and a description in Homer has charmed more readers than a chapter in Aristotle.'
This is a good illustration of what he had been asserting, and is expressed with that happy and elegant turn, for which our author is very remarkable.
Besides, the pleasures of the imagination have this advantage above those of the understanding, that they are more obvious, and more easy to be acquired.'
This is also an unexceptionable sentence..
It is but opening the eye, and the scene enters.'
This sentence is lively and picturesque. By the gayety and briskness which it gives the style, it shows the advantage of intermixing such a short sentence as this amidst a run of longer ones, which never fails to have a happy effect. I must remark, however, a small inaccuracy. A scene cannot be said to enter : an actor enters; but a scene appears or presents itself.
• The colours paint themselves on the fancy, with very little attention of thought or application of mind in the beholder.
This is still beautiful illustration; carried on with that agreeable floweriness of fancy and style, which is so well suited to those pleasures of the imagination, of which the author is treating.
We are struck, we know not how, with the symmetry of any thing we see, and immediately assent to the beauty of an object, without inquiring into the particular causes and occasions of it.
There is a falling off here from the elegance of the former sentences. We assent to the truth of a proposition; but cannot so well be said to assent to the beauty of an object. Acknowledge would have expressed the sense with more propriety. The close of the sentence too is heavy and ungraceful—the particular causes and occasions of it; both particular and occasions, are words quite superfluous; and the pronoun it, is in some measure ambiguous, whether it refers to beauty or to object. It would have been some amendment to the style to have run thus: "We immediately acknowledge the beauty of an object, without inquiring into the cause of that beauty.
“A man of a polite imagination is let into a great many pleasures that the vulgar are not capable of receiving.'
Polite is a term more commonly applied to manners or behaviour, than to the mind or imagination. There is nothing farther to be observed on this sentence, unless the use of that for a relative pro-. noun, instead of which ;an usage which is too frequent with Mr. Addison. Which is a much more definitive word than that, being never employed in any other way than as a relative; whereas that is a word of many senses; sometimes a demonstrative pronoun, often a conjunction. In some cases we are indeed obliged to use that for a relative, in order to avoid the ungraceful repetition of which in the same sentence. But when we are laid under no necessity of this kind, which is always the preferable word, and certainly was so in this sentence. Pleasures which the vulgar are not capable of receiving, is much better than pleasures that the vulgar,&c.
• He can converse with a picture, and find an agreeable companion in a statue. He neets with a secret refreshment in a description; and often feels a greater satisfaction in the prospect of fields and meadows, than another dues in the possession. It gives him, indeed, a kind of property in every thing he sees; and makes the most rude, uncultivated parts of nature, administer to his pleasures : so that he looks upon the world, as it were, in another light, and discovers in it a multitude of charms that conceal themselves from the generality of mankind.'
All this is very beautiful. The illustration is happy; and the style runs with the greatest ease and harmony. We see no labour, no stiffness or affectation; but an author writing from the native flow of a gay and pleasing imagination. This predominant character of Mr. Addison's manner, far more than compensates all those little negligences which we are now remarking. Two of these occur in this paragraph. The first, in the sentence which begins with, it gives him indeed a kind of property. To this it, there is no proper antecedent in the whole paragraph. In order to gather the meaning, we must look back as far as to the third sentence before, the first of the paragraph, which begins with, a man of a polite imagination. This phrase, polite imagination, is the only antecedent to which this it can refer; and even that is an improper antecedent, as it stands in the genitive case, as the qualification only of a man.
The other instance of negligence, is towards the end of the paragraph, so that he looks upon the world, as it were,in another light. By another light, Mr. Addison means, a light different from that in which other men view the world. But though this expression clearly conveyed this meaning to himself when writing, it conveys it very indistinctly to others; and is an instance of that sort of inaccuracy, into which, in the warmth of composition, every writer of a lively imagination is apt to fall; and which can only be remedied by a cool, subsequent review. As it were, is upon most occasions no more than an ungraceful palliative; and here there was not the least occasion for it, as he was not about to say any thing which required a softening of this kind. To say the truth, this last sentence, so that he looks upon the world, and what follows, had better been wanting altogether. It is no more than an unnecessary recapitulation of what had gone before ; a feeble adjection to the lively picture he had given of the pleasures of the imagination. The paragraph would have ended with more spirit at the words immediately preceding; the uncultivated parts of nature administer to his pleasures.
• There are, indeed, but very few who know how to be idle and innocent, or have a relish of any pleasures that are not criminal; every diversion they take, is at the expense of some one virtue or another, and their very first step out of business is into vice or folly.'
Nothing can be more elegant, or more finely turned, than this sentence. It is neat, clear, and musical. We could hardly alter one word, or disarrange one member, without spoiling it. Few sentences are to be found more finished, or more happy.
"A man should endeavour, therefore, to make the sphere of his innocent pleasures as wide as possible, that he may retire into them with safety, and find in them such a satisfaction as a wise man would not blush to take.'
This also is a good sentence, and gives occasion to no material remark
"Of this nature are those of the imagination, which do not require such a bent of thought as is necessary to our more serious employ ments, nor at the same time, suffer the mind to sink into that indo
ience and remissness, which are apt to accompany our more sensual delights; but like a gentle exercise to the faculties, awaken them from sloth and idleness, without putting them upon any labour or difficulty.'
The beginning of this sentence is not correct, and affords an instance of a period too loosely connected with the preceding one. Of this nature, says he, are those of the imagination. We might ask, of what nature? For it had not been the scope of the preceding sentence to describe the nature of any set of pleasures. He had said, that it was every man's duty to make the sphere of his innocent pleasures as wide as possible, in order that, within that sphere, he might find a safe retreat, and a laudable satisfaction. The transition is loosely made, by beginning the next sentence with saying, of this nature are those of the imagination. It had been better, if, keeping in view the governing object of the preceding sentence, he had said,
This advantage we gain,' or, .This satisfaction we enjoy, by means of the pleasures of imagination. The rest of the sentence is abundantly correct.
We might here add, that the pleasures of the fancy are more con. ducive to health than those of the understanding, which are worked out by dint of thinking, and attended with too violent a labour of the brain.'
On this sentence, nothing occurs deserving of remark, except that worked out by dint of thinking, is a phrase which borders too much on vulgar and colloquial language, to be proper for being employed in'a polished composition
• Delightful scenes, whether in nature, painting, or poetry, have a kindly influence on the body, as well as the mind, and not only serve to clear and brighten the imagination, but are able to disperse grief and melancholy, and to set the animal spirits in pleasing and agreeable motions. Fo: this reason, Sir Francis Bacon, in his Essay upon Health, has not thought it improper to prescribe to his reader a poem, or a prospect, where he particularly dissuades him from knotty and subtile disquisitions, and advises him to pursue studies that fill. the mind with splendid and illustrious objects, as histories, fables, and contemplations of nature.'
In the latter of these two sentences, a member of the period is altogether out of its place; which gives the whole sentence a harsh and disjointed cast, and serves to illustrate the rules I formerly gave concerning arrangement. The wrong-placed member which I point at, is this: where he particularly dissuades him from knotty and subtile disquisitions; these words should undoubtedly have been placed not where they stand, but thus: Sir Francis Bacon, in his Essay upon Health, where he particularly dissuades the reader from knotty and subtile speculations, has not thought it improper to prescribe to him,&c. This arrangement reduces every thing into proper order.
I have in this paper, by way of introduction, settled the notion of those pleasures of the imagination, which are the subject of my present undertaking, and endeavoured, by several considerations, to re
commend to my readers the pursuit of those pleasures; I shall, in my next paper, examine the several sources from whence these pleasures are derived.'
These two concluding sentences afford examples of the proper collocation of circumstances in a period. I formerly showed, that it is often a matter of difficulty to dispose of them in such a manner, as that they shall not embarrass the principal subject of the sentence. In the sentences before us, several of these incidental circumstances necessarily come in-By way of introduction—by several considerations--in this paper in the next paper. All which are with great propriety managed by our author. It will be found, upon trial, that there were no other parts of the sentence, in which they could have been placed to equal advantage. Had he said, for instance,‘I have settled the notion, (rather, the meaning) of those pleasures of the imagination, which are the subject of my present undertaking, by way of introduction, in this paper, and endeavoured to recommend the pursuit of those pleasures to my readers, by several considerations,' we must be sensible, that the sentence, thus clogged with circumstances in the wrong place, would neither have been so neat nor so clear, as it is by the present construction.
CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF THE STYLE IN No. 412
OF THE SPECTATOR.
The observations which have occurred in reviewing that paper of Mr. Addison's which was the subject of the last lecture, sufficiently show, that in the writings of an author, of the most happy genius, and distinguished talents, inaccuracies may sometimes be found. Though such inaccuracies may be overbalanced by so many beauties, as render style highly pleasing and agreeable upon the whole, yet it must be desirable to every writer to avoid, as far as he can, inaccuracy of any kind. As the subject, therefore, is of importance, I have thought it might be useful to carry on this criticism throughout two or three subsequent papers of the Spectator. At the same time, I must intimate, that the lectures on these papers are solely intended for such as are applying themselves to the study of English style. I pretend not to give instruction to those who are already well acquainted with the powers of language. To them my remarks may prove unedifying; to some they may seem tedious and minute: but to such as have not yet made all the proficiency which they desire in elegance of style, strict attention to the composition and structure of sentences cannot fail to prove of considerable benefit; and though my remarks on Mr. Addison should, in any instance, be thought illfounded, they will, at least, serve the purpose of leading them into