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them; such are words and writing. Words have no natural resemblance to the ideas or objects which they are employed to signify; but a statue or a picture has a natural likeness to the original. And therefore imitation and description differ considerably in their nature from each other.
As far, indeed, as the poet introduces into his work persons actually speaking ; and, by the words which he puts into their mouths, represents the discourse which they might be supposed to hold ; so far his art may more accurately be called imitative; and this is the case in all dramatic composition. But, in narrative or descriptive works, it can with no propriety be called so. Who, for instance, would call Virgil's description of a tempest, in the first Æneid, an imitation of a storm? If we heard of the imitation of a battle, we might naturally think of some mock fight, or representation of a battle on the stage, but would never apprehend, that it meant one of Homer's descriptions in the Iliad. I admit, at the same time, that imitation and description agree in their principal effect, of recalling, by external signs, the ideas of things which we do not see. But though in this they coincide, yet it should not be forgotten, that the terms themselves are not synonymous; that they import different means of effecting the same end ; and of course make different impressions on the mind. *
Whether we consider poetry in particular, and discourse in general, as imitative or descriptive; it is evident that their whole power, in recalling the impressions of real objects, is derived from the significancy of words. As their excellency flows altogether from this source, we must, in order to make way for further inquiries, begin at this fountain-head. I shall, therefore, in the next lecture, enter upon the consideration of language : of the origin, the progress, and construction of which, I purpose to treat at some length.
* Though in the execution of particular parts, poetry is certainly descriptive rather than imitativc, yet there is a qualified sense in which poetry, in the general, may be termed an imitative art. The subject of the poet (as Dr. Gerard has shown in the appendix to his Essay on Taste) is intended to be an imitation, not of things really existing, but of the course of nature : that is, a feigned representation of such events, or such scenes, as though they never had a being, yet might have existed ; and which, therefore, by their probability, bear a resemblance to nature. It was probably in this sense, that Aristotle termed poetry a mimetic art. How far either the imitation or the description which poetry employs, is superior to the imitative powers of paint ing and music, is well shown by Mr. Harris, in his treatise on music, painting, and poetry. The chief advantage which poetry, or discourse in general, enjoys, is, that whereas, by the nature of his art, the painter is confined to the representation of a single moment, writing and discourse can trace a transaction through its whole progress. That moment, indeed, which the painter pitches upon for the subject of his picture, he may be said to exhibit with more advantage than the poet or orator ; inasmuch as he sets beiöre us, in one view, all the minute concurring circumstances of the event which happens in one individual point of time, as they appear in nature, while discourse is obliged to exhibit them in succession, and by means of a detail which is in danger of becoming tedious, in order to be clear; or, if not tedious, is in danger of being obscure. But to that point of time which he has chosen, the painter being entirely confined, he cannot exhibit various stages of the same action or event; and he is subject to this farther defect, that he can only exhibit objects as they appear to the eye, and can very imperfectly delineate characters and sentiments, which are the noblest subjects of imitation or description. The power of representing these with full advantage, gives a high superiority to discourse and writing, above all other imitative arts.
Why was it necessary to treat of with what have these always a great sublimity at some length? Why will connexion? Of the course pursued by it not be necessary to discuss, so parti- nature, what is clear? Of cabinets, cularly, all the other pleasures that doors, and windows, what is observed; arise from taste? Why are several ob- and why do they please? Of a straight servations made on beauty ? Beauty, canal, of cones and pyramids, and of next to sublimity, affording the highest the apartments of a house, what is pleasure to the imagination, what is said ? What has Mr. Hogarth, in his the nature of the emotion which it Analysis of Beauty, observed ? Upon raises ? To how great a variety of ob- what two lines does he pitch; and jects does it extend ; and hence what what does he call them? In what is the follows? To what is it applied; and of line of beauty found ; aud in what, the what do we currently talk? Hence, line of grace? How does he define the what may we easily perceive ? By art of drawing pleasing forms; and what means do objects, denominated why? What furnishes another source beautiful, please ? Why has the of beauty; and what is said of it ? agreeable emotion which they all What motion only belongs to the beauraise, the common name of beauty tiful; and why? How is this illustragiven to it? For assigning what, have ted? Here, what is it proper to obhypotheses been framed? What has serve? How is this observation illusbeen insisted on, as the fundamental trated from a young tree, and an anquality of beauty? When does this cient oak; and from the morning and principle apply; and when does it not ? evening? In the beauty of motion, Why does not this principle hold in ex- what, in general, will be found to hold ternal figured objects?' Laying sys- true ; What may be instanced as an tems of this kind, therefore, aside, what object singularly agreeable? Of the is proposed ? What affords the simplest common and necessary motions for the instance of beauty? Here, what can-business of life, and of the graceful and not be assigned as the fundamental ornamental movements, what does Mr. quality of beauty? To what only can Hogarth very ingeniously observe ? Of we refer it; and what do we accord- the union of colour, figure, and motion, ingly see? What, is it probable, in in many beautiful objects, what is obsome cases, has some influence; and served; and how is this illustrated ? what examples are given ? Indepen- of the sensation produced by each ot' dent of associations of this kind, what is these, what is said ; and why? In all that can be farther observed con- what, perhaps, is the most complete cerning colours ? What instances are assemblage of beautiful objects presentmentioned? Of these, what is said ? ed? How may this be rendered the From colour, to what do we proceed; highest source of that gay, cheerful, and of its beauty, what is observed ? and placid sensation, that characterizes In it, whət arst occurs to be noticed as beauty? What is a necessary requisite a source of beauty; and by it what is for all who attempt poetical description? nieant? What examples are given? Of the beauty of the human counteWhat must we not, however, conclude ? nance, what is remarked; and what On the contrary, what is a more pow-does it include? But on what does its erful principle of beauty; and where is it chief beauty depend? What belongs studied? Why is our author inclined to not to us now to inquire ; and what is think regularity appears beautiful; and certain ?
To what observation does this lead? we receive from poetry, eloquence, or How are these qualities divided; what fine writing, to be referred? What einis the first, on what do they turn, and gular advantage do writing and diswhat emotion do they excite? Of what course possess ? From what do elovirtues is the other class? Of the sen- quence and poetry derive the high sation which these raise, what is ob- power of supplying the taste and the served? From what does a species of imagination with so wide a field of beauty, distinct from any which has pleasures; and what follows? From been mentioned, arise? In the examina- the assistance of this happy invention, tions of what, is the pleasure which we what advantages are derived, and receive wholly founded on this sense of hence how do critical writers usually beauty; and from what is it altogether speak of discourse? With what do different? How is this illustrated in the they compare it? Where, and by whom examination of a watch? Of what is was this style first introduced ; and this sense of beauty, in fitness and de- what has it since acquired ? In critical sign, the foundation ? Of the ornaments language, what is of consequence; of a building, what is observed ; and and what follows? Between what how is this illustrated ? In the exami- ideas must we distinguish ? How is nation of any work, to what are we na-Jimitation performed ? What is descripturally led? When' does the work tion? From what does it appear that seem to have some beauty; and when imitation and description differ considoes it appear deformed? What obser- derably in their nature from each vation follows; and why is it made ? | other? How far may the poet's art be How is it fully illustrated in an epic called imitative, and in what composipoem, a history, an oration, or any tions is this the case? In what can it work of genius? What species of beau- not, with propriety, be so called ; and ty remains to be noticed? From what how is this illustrated ? In what is it does it appear that this term is used in admitted that imitation and descripa sense altogether loose and undeter-tion agree; yet what should not be mined? Of the word in this sense, what forgotten? From what is the power is observed? When does beauty of wri- of poetry and discourse evidently deting characterize a particular manner?|rived ? Upon what, in the next lecture, In this sense, what does it denote? shall we enter; and why? What writers of this class are mentioned; and what is said of them? Why| has beauty been traced through a variety of forms? Objects deriving their
ANALYSIS. power of giving pleasure to the imagination, from other principles besides 1. Beauty, beauty and sublimity, what is the first A. The nature of beauty. that is mentioned; what is said of it; B. Hypotheses of beauty. and hence what passion arises? Of c. The beauty of colours. objects and ideas that are familiar, and 1 . D. The beauty of figures.' of those that are new and strange, what a. Mr. Hogarth's Analysis of is observed ; and hence what arises ?|
Beauty. Why is the emotion raised by novelty, E. Motion a source of beauty. though of a more lively and pungent L. F. The union of colour, figure, and naturc, yet much shorter in its continu motion. ance, than that which is produced by G. The beauty of the human counbeauty? What is another source of tenance. pleasure to taste; and to what does it H. Moral qualities. give rise ? From what does it appear 1. The beauty of design. that these form a very extensive class? | J. Beauty in writing. Of the influence of melody and harmo-12. Novelty. ny, as sources of pleasure to taste, what|3. Imitation. is observed; and hence what follows? 4. Melody and harmony. Of wit, humour, and ridicule, as sources 5. Wit, humour, and ridicule. of pleasure to taste, what is observed ? 6. Writing and discourse. To what class is the pleasure which a. Imitation and description.
RISE AND PROGRESS OF LANGUAGE.
Having finished my observations on the pleasures of taste, which were meant to be introductory to the principal subject of these lectures, I now begin to treat of language; which is the foundation of the whole power of eloquence. This will lead to a considerable discussion ; and there are few subjects belonging to polite literature, which more merit such a discussion. I shall first give a history of the rise and progress of language in several particulars, from its early to its more advanced periods; which shall be followed by a similar history of the rise and progress of writing. I shall next give some account of the construction of language, on the principles of universal grammar; and shall, lastly, apply these observations more particularly to the English tongue.*
Language, in general, signifies the expression of our ideas by certain articulate sounds, which are used as the signs of those ideas. By articulate sounds, are meant those modulations of simple voice or of sound emitted from the thorax, which are formed by means of the mouth and its several organs, the teeth, the tongue, the lips, and the palate. How far there is any natural connexion between the ideas of the mind and the sounds emitted, will appear from what I am afterwards to offer. But as the natural connexion can, upon any system, affect only a small part of the fabric of language, the connexion between words and ideas may, in general, be considered as arbitrary and conventional, owing to the agreement of men among themselves; the clear proof of which is, that different nations have different languages, or a different set of articulate sounds, which they have chosen for communicating their ideas.
This artificial method of communicating thought, we now behold carried to the highest perfection. Language is become a vehicle by which tne most delicate and refined emotions of one mind can be transmitted, or, if we may so speak, transfused into another. Not
.* See Dr. Adam Smith's Dissertation on the Formation of Languages:-Treatise of the Origin and Progress of Language, in 3 vols. :-Harris's Hermes, or a Philosophical Inquiry concerning Language and Universal Grammar :-Essai sur l'Origine des Connaissances Humaines, par l'Abbe Condillac :-Principes de Grammaire, par Marsais : -Grammaire Generale et Raisonnee :-Trait de la formation Mechanique des Langues, par le President de Brosses :--Discours sur l'Inegalite parmi les Hommes, par Rousseau :-Grammaire Generale, par Beauzee:-Principes de la Traduction, par Batteux:-Warburton's Divine Legation of Moses, vol. iji. :-Sancti Minerva, cum notis Perizonii :-Les Vrais Principes de la Langue Francoise, par l'Abbe Girard.
only are names given to all objects around us, by which means an easy and speedy intercourse is carried on for providing the necessaries of life, but all the relations and differences among these objects are minutely marked, the invisible sentiments of the mind are described, the most abstract notions and conceptions are rendered intelligible; and all the ideas which science can discover, or imagination create, are known by their proper names. Nay, language has been carried so far as to be made an instrument of the most refined luxury. Not resting in mere perspicuity, we require ornament also; not satisfied with having the conceptions of others made known to us, we make a farther demand, to have them so decked and adorned as to entertain our fancy; and this demand, it is found very possible to gratify. In this state, we now find language. In this state, it has been found among many nations for some thousand years. The object is become familiar; and, like the expanse of the firmament, and other great objects, which we are accustomed to behold, we behold it without wonder.
But carry your thoughts back to the first dawn of language among men. Reflect upon the feeble beginnings from which it must have arisen, and upon the many and great obstacles which it must have encountered in its progress; and you will find reason for the highest astonishment, on viewing the height which it has now attained. We admire several of the inventions of art; we plume ourselves on some discoveries which have been made in latter ages, serving to advance knowledge, and to render life comfortable; we speak of them as the boast of human reason. But certainly no invention is entitled to any such degree of admiration as that of language; which too must have been the product of the first and rudest ages, if indeed it can be considered as a human invention at all.
Think of the circumstances of mankind when languages.began to be formed. They were a wandering scattered race; no society among them except families; and the family society, too, very imperfect, as their method of living by hunting or pasturage must have separated them frequently from one another. In this situation, when so much divided, and their intercourse so rare, how could any one set of sounds, or words, be generally agreed on as the signs of their ideas? Supposing that a few, whom chance or necessity threw together, agreed by some means upon certain signs, yet by what authority could these be propagated among other tribes or families, so as to spread and grow up into a language? One would think, that in order to any language fixing and extending itself, men must have been previously gathered together in considerable numbers; society must have been already far advanced; and yet, on the other hand, there seems to have been an absolute necessity for speech, previous to the formation of society. For by what bond could any multitude of men be kept together, or be made to join in the prosecution of any common interest, until once, by the intervention of speech, they could communicate their wants and intentions to one another? So that, either how society could form itself, previously to language, or how words could rise into a language, previously to: