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two paragraphs which we have now considered in this paper, the one concerning greatness, and the other concerning novelty, are extremely worthy of Mr. Addison, and exhibit a style, which they who can successfully imitate, may esteem themselves happy.
• But there is nothing that makes its way more directly to the soul than beauty, which immediately diffuses a secret satisfaction and complacency through the imagination, and gives a finishing to any thing that is great or uncommon. The very first discovery of it strikes the mind with an inward joy, and spreads a cheerfulness and delight through all its faculties.
Some degree of yerbosity may be here discovered, as phrases are repeated, which are little more than the echo of one another; such as, diffusing satisfaction and complacency through the imagination= striking the mind with inward joy-spreading cheerfulness and delight through all its faculties. At the same time, I readily admit that this full and flowing style, even though it carry some redundancy, is not unsuitable to the gayety of the subject on which the author is entering, and is more allowable here than it would have been on some other occasions.
• There is not, perhaps, any real beauty or deformity more in one piece of matter than another; because we might have been so made, that whatever now appears loathsome to us, might have shown itself agreeable; but we find, by experience, that there are several modifications of matter, which the mind, without any previous consideration, pronounces at first sight beautiful or deformed.'
In this sentence there is nothing remarkable, in any view, to draw our attention. We may observe only, that the word more, towards the beginning, is not in its proper place, and that the preposition in, is wanting before another. The phrase ought to have stood thus: Beauty or deformity in one piece of matter, more than in another.
• Thus we see, that every different species of sensible creatures, has its different notions of beauty, and that each of them is most affected with the beauties of its own kind. This is nowhere more remarkable, than in birds of the same shape and proportion, when we often see the male determined in his courtship by the single grain or tincture of a feather, and never discovering any charms but in the colour of its species.'
Neither is there here any particular elegance or felicity of language. Different sense of beauty would have been a more proper expression to have been applied to irrational creatures, than as it stands, different notions of beauty. In the close of the second sentence, when the author say3, colour of its species, he is guilty of considerable inaccuracy in changing the gender, as he had said in the same sentence, that the male was determined in his courtship.
"There is a second kind of beauty, that we find in the several products of art and nature, which does not work in the imagination with that warmth and violer.ce, as the beauty that appears in our proper species, but is apt, however, to raise in us a secret delight, and a kind of fondness for the places or objects in which we discover it.' Still, I am sorry to say, we find little to praise. As in his enunciation of the subject, when beginning the former paragraph, he appeared to have been treating of beautyin general, in distinction from greatness or novelty; this second kind of beauty of which he here speaks,comes upon us in a sort of surprise, and it is only by degrees we learn, that formerly he had no more in view than the beauty which the different species of sensible creatures find in one another. This second kind of beauty, he says, we find in the several products of art and nature, He undoubtedly means, not in all, but in several of the products of art and nature, and ought so to have expressed himself; and in the place of products, to have used also the more proper word productions. When he adds, that this kind of beauty does not work in the imagination with that warmth and violence as the beauty that appears in our proper species; the language would certainly have been more pure and elegant, if he had said, that it does not work upon the imagination with such warmth and violence, as the beauty that appears in our own species.
• This consists either in the gayety or variety of colours, in the symmetry and proportion of parts, in the arrangement and disposition of bodies, or in a just mixture and concurrence of all together. Among these several kinds of beauty, the eye takes most delight in colours.'
To the language, here, I see no objection that can be made.
We no where meet with a more glorious or pleasing show in nature, than what appears in the heavens at the rising and setting of the sun, which is wholly made up of those different stains of light, that show themselves in clouds of a different situation.'
Thé chief ground of criticism, on this sentence, is the disjointed situation of the relative which; grammatically, it refers to the rising and setting of the sun. But the author meant, that it should refer to the show which appears in the heavens at that time. It is too common among authors, when they are writing without much care, to make such particles as this, and which, refer not to any particular antecedent word, but to the tenour of some phrase, or perhaps the scope of some whole sentence, which has gone before. This practice saves them trouble in marshalling their words, and arranging a period; but, though it may leave. their meaning intelligible, yet it renders that meaning much less perspicuous, determined, and precise, than it might otherwise have been. The error I have pointed out, might have been avoided by a small alteration in the construction of the sentence, after some such manner as this: We no where meet with a more glorious and pleasing show in nature, than what is formed in the heavens at the rising and setting of the sun, by the different stains of light which show themselves in clouds of different situations. Our author writes, in clouds of a different situation, by which he means, clouds that differ in situation from each other. But, as this is neither the obvious nor grammatical meaning of his words, it was necessary to change the expression, as I have done, into the plural number.
For this reason, we find the poets, who are always addressing themselves to the imagination, borrowing more of their epithets from colours than from any other topic.
On this sentence nothing occurs, except a remark similar to what was made before, of loose connexion with the sentence which precedes. For though he begins with saying, for this reason, the foregoing sentence, which was employed about the clouds and the sun, gives no reason for the general proposition he now lays down. The reason to which he refers, was given two sentences before, when he observed, that the eye takes more delight in colours than in any other beauty; and it was with that sentence that the present one should have stood immediately connected.
"As the fancy delights in every thing that is great, strange, or beautiful, and is still more pleased, the more it finds of these perfections in the same object, so it is capable of receiving a new satisfaction by the assistance of another sense.'
Another sense, here means, grammatically, another sense than fancy. For there is no other thing in the period to which this expression, another sense, can at all be opposed. He had not, for some time, made mention of any sense whatever. He forgot to add, what was undoubtedly in his thoughts, another sense than that of sight.
Thus any continued sound, as the music of birds, or a fall of water, awakens every moment the mind of the beholder, and makes him more attentive to the several beauties of the place which lie before him. Thus, if there arises a fragrancy of smells or perfumes, they heighten the pleasures of the imagination, and make even the colours and verdure of the landscape appear more agreeable; for the ideas of both senses recommend each other, and are pleasanter together than when they enter the mind separately; as the different colours of a picture, when they are well disposed, set off one another, and receive an additional beauty from the advantage of their situation.'
Whether Mr. Addison's theory here be just or not, may be questioned. A continued sound, such as that of a fall of water, is so far from awakening every moment the mind of the beholder, that nothing is more likely to lull him asleep. It may, indeed, please the imagination, and heighten the beauties of the scene; but it produces this effect, by a soothing, not by an awakening influence. With regard to the style, nothing appears exceptionable. The flow, both of language and of ideas, is very agreeable. The author continues, to the end, the same pleasing train of thought, which had run through the rest of the paper; and leaves us agreeably employed in comparing together different degrees of beauty.
CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF THE STYLE IN No. 413
OF THE SPECTATOR.
« Though in yesterday's paper we considered how every thing that is great, new, or beautiful, is apt to affect the imagination with pleasure, we must own, that it is impossible for us to assign the necessary cause of this pleasure, because we know neither the nature of an idea, nor the substance of a human soul, which might help us to discover the conformity or disagreeableness of the one to the other; and therefore, for want of such a light, all that we can do in speculations of this kind, is, to reflect on those operations of the soul that are most agreeable, and to range, under their proper heads, what is pleasing or displeasing to the mind, without being able to trace out the several necessary and efficient causes from whence the pleasure or displeasure arises.'
This sentence, considered as an introductory one, must be acknowledged to be very faulty. An introductory sentence should never contain any thing that can in any degree fatigue or puzzl: the reader. When an author is entering on a new. branch of his subject, informing us of what he has done, and what he proposes further to do, we naturally expect, that he should express himself in the simplest and most perspicuous manner possible. But the sentence now before us is crowded and indistinct; containing three separate propositions, which, as I shall afterwards show, required separate sentences to have unfolded them. Mr. Addison's chief excellence as a writer, lay in describing and painting. There he is great; but in methodising and reasoning, he is not so eminent. As, besides the general fault of prolixity and indistinctness, this sentence contains several inaccuracies, I shall be obliged to enter into a minute discussion of its structure and parts; a discussion which to many readers will appear tedious, and which therefore they will naturally pass over; but which, to those who are studying composition, I hope may prove of some benefit. .
Though in yesterday's paper we considered. The import of though is, notwithstanding that. When it appears.in the beginning of a sentence, its relative, generally, is yet; and it is employed to warn us, after we have been informed of some truth, that we are not to infer from it.some other thing which we might perhaps have expected to follow: as, Though virtue be the only road to happiness, yet it does not permit the unlimited gratification of our desires.' Now it is plain, that there was no such opposition between the subject of yesterday's paper, and what the author is now going to say, between his assertiny a fact, and his not being able to assign the cause of that fact, as rendered the use of this adversative particle, though, either necessary or proper in the introduction. We considered how every thing that is great, new.or beautiful, is apt to affect the imagination with pleasure. The adverb how signifies, either the means by which, or the manner in which, something is done. But in truth, neither one nor the other of these had been considered by our author. He had illustrated the fact alone, that they do affect the imagination with pleasure; and, with respect to the quomodo or the how, he is so far from having considered it, that he is just now going to show that it cannot be explained, and that we must rest contented with the knowledge of the fact alone, and of its purpose or final cause. We must own, that it is impossible for us to assign the necessary cause (he means, what is more commonly called the efficient cause) of this pleasure, because we know neither the nature of an idea, nor the substance of a human soul. The substance of a human soul is certainly a very uncouth expression, and there appears no reason why he should have varied from the word nature, which would have been applicable equally to idea and to soul.
Which might help us, our author proceeds, to discover the conformity or disagreeableness of the one to the other. The which, at the beginning of this member of the period, is surely ungrammatical, as it is a relative, without any antecedent in all the sentence. It refers, by the construction, to the nature of an idea,or the substance of a human soul; but this is by no means the reference which the author intended. His meaning is, that our knowing the nature of an idea, and the substance of a human soul, might help us to discover the conformity or disagreeableness of the one to the other; and therefore the syntax absolutely required the word knowledge to have been inserted as the antecedent to which. I have before remarked, and the remark deserves to be repeated, that nothing is a more certain sign of careless composition, than to make such relatives as which, not refer to any precise expression, but carry a loose and vague relation to the general strain of what had gone before. When our sentences run into this form, we may be assured there is something in the construction of them that requires alteration. The phrase of discovering the conformity or disagreeableness of the one to the other is likewise exceptionable; for disagreeableness. neither forms a proper contrast to the other word, conformity, nor expresses what the author meant here, (as far as any meaning can be gathered from his words) that is, a certain unsuitableness or want of conformity to the nature of the soul. To say the truth, this member of the sentence had much better have been omitted altogether, The conformity or disagreeableness of an idea to the substance of a human soul, is a phrase which conveys to the mind no distinct nor intelligible conception whatever. The author had before given a sufficient reason for his not assigning the efficient cause of those pleasures of the imagination, because we neither know the nature of our own ideas nor of the soul; and this farther discussion about the conformity or disagreeableness of the nature of the one, to the substance of the other, affords no clear nor useful illustration.
And therefore, the sentence goes on, for want of such a light, all that we can do in speculations of this kind, is, to reflect on those opera.