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w the fear or grief which we receive from any | beautiful than the eye ever saw, and is still 31 other occasion?
sensible of some defect in what it has seen; If we consider, therefore, the nature of on this account it is the part of a poet to 11 this pleasure, we shall find that it does not humour the imagination in our own notions,
arise so properly from the description of by mending and perfecting nature where he
what is terrible, as from the reflection we describes a reality, and by adding greater te make on ourselves at the time of reading it. beauties than are put together in nature, 21 When we look on such hideous objects, we where he describes a fiction. 1 are not a little pleased to think we are in He is not obliged to attend her in the slow I no danger of them. * We consider them at advances which she makes from one season
the same time, as dreadful and harmless; so to another, or to observe her conduct in the it that the more frightful appearance they successive production of plants and flowers. is make, the greater is the pleasure we re- He may draw into his description all the des ceive from the sense of our own safety. In beauties of the spring and autumn, and e short, we look upon the terrors of a descrip- make the whole year contribute something ition with the same curiosity and satisfaction to render it the more agreeable. His rosethat we survey a dead monster.
trees, woodbines, and jasmines, may flower -Informe cadaver
together, and his beds be covered at the Protrabitur: nequeunt expleri corda tuendo
same time with lilies, violets, and amaranths. Terribiles oculos, vultum villosaque selis
His soil is not restrained to any particular Pectora semiferi atque extinctos faucibus ignes.
set of plants, but is proper either for oaks Virg. Æn. viii. 264.
or myrtles, and adapts itself to the products They drag him from his den. The wond'ring neighbourhood, with glad surprise,
of every climate. Oranges may grow wild Behold bis shagged breast, his giant size,
in it; myrrh may be met with in every His mouth that flames no more, and his extinguish deyes. hedge; and if he thinks it proper to have a
grove of spices, he can quickly command It is for the same reason that we are de- sun enough to raise it. If all this will not lighted with the reflecting upon dangers furnish out an agreeable scene, he can make that are past, or in looking on a precipice several new species of flowers, with richer at a distance, which would fill us with a scents and higher colours than any that different kind of horror, if we saw it hang- grow in the gardens of nature. His coning over our heads.
certs of birds may be as full and harmoniÎn the like manner, when we read of tor- ous, and his woods as thick and gloomy as ments, wounds, deaths, and the like dismal he pleases. He is at no more expense in a accidents, our pleasure does not flow so long vista than a short one, and can as easily properly from the grief which such melan- throw his cascades from a precipice of half choly descriptions give us, as from the a mile high, as from one of twenty yards. secret comparison which we make between He has the choice of the winds, and can ourselves and the person who suffers. Such turn the course of his rivers in all the variety representations teach us to set a just value of meanders that are most delightful to the upon our own condition, and make us prize reader's imagination. In a word, he has our good fortune, which exenipts us from the modelling of nature in his own hands, the like calamities. This is, however, such and may give her what charms he pleases, a kind of pleasure as we are not capable
of provided he does not reform her too much, receiving, when we see a person actually and run into absurdities by endeavouring lying under the tortures that we meet with to excel.
O. in a description; because, in this case, the object presses too close upon our senses, and bears so hard upon us, that it does not give No. 419.] Tuesday, July 1, 1712. us time or leisure to reflect on ourselves. Our thoughts are so intent upon the miseries of the sufferer, that we cannot turn them
ON THE PLEASURES OF THE IMAGINATION. upon our own happiness. Whereas, on the
Contents.-Or that kind of poetry which Mr. Dryden contrary, we consider the misfortunes we
calls the fairy way of writing. How a poet should read in history or poetry, either as past or be qualified for it. The pleasures of the imagination as fictitious; so that the reflection upon our
that arise from it. In this respect why the moderns
excel the ancients. Why the English excel the mo. selves rises in us insensibly, and overbears
derns. Who the best among the English. Of emble. the sorrow we conceive for the sufferings matical persons. of the afflicted.
-Mentis gratissimus error. But because the mind of man requires
Hor. 2. Ep. ii. Lib. 2. 140. something more perfect in matter than what
The sweet delusion of a raptur'd mind. it finds there, and can never meet with any sight in nature which sufficiently answers
THERE is a kind of writing wherein the its highest ideas of pleasantness; or, in other poet quite loses sight of nature, and enterwords, because the imagination can fancy tains his reader's imagination with the chato itself things more great, strange, or racters and actions of such persons as have
many of them no existence but what he * ' Suave mare dulci turbantibus æquora ventis, ' &c. bestows on them. Such are fairies, witches,
Luer, magicians, demons, and departed spirits.
This Mr. Dryden calls the fairy way of try among them; for, indeed, almost the writing,' which is indeed more difficult whole substance of it owes its original to than any other that depends on the poet's the darkness and superstition of later ages, fancy, because he has no pattern to follow when pious frauds were made use of to in it, and must work altogether out of his amuse mankind, and frighten them into a own invention.
sense of their duty. Our forefathers looked There is a very odd turn of thought re- upon nature with more reverence and horquired for this sort of writing; and it is ror, before the world was enlightened by impossible for a poet to succeed in it, who learning and philosophy; and loved to astohas not a particular cast of fancy, and an nish themselves with the apprehensions imagination naturally fruitful and super- of witchcraft, prodigies, charms, and enstitious. Besides this, he ought to be very chantments. There was not a village in well versed in legends and fables, antiquated England that had not a ghost in it, the romances, and the traditions of nurses and church-yards were all haunted; every large old women, that he may fall in with our common had a circle of fairies belonging to natural prejudices, and humour those no- it; and there was scarce a shepherd to be tions which we have imbibed in our infancy. met with who had not seen a spirit. For otherwise he will be apt to make his Among all the poets of this kind our fairies talk like people of his own species, English are much the best, by what I have and not like other sets of beings, who con- yet seen; whether it be that we abound verse with different objects, and think in a with more stories of this nature, or that the different manner from that of mankind. genius of our country is fitter for this sort
of poetry. For the English are naturally Sylvis deducti caveant, me judice, fauni, Ne velut innati triviis, ac pene forenses,
fanciful, and very often disposed, by that Aut nimium teneris juvenentur versibus.
gloominess and melancholy of temper Hor. Ars Poet. v. 244.
which is so frequent in our nation, to many Let not the wood-born satyr fondly sport
wild notions and visions, to which others With am'rous verses, as if bred at court.-Francis.
are not so liable. I do not say, with Mr. Bays in the Re Among the English, Shakspeare has inhearsal, that spirits must not be confined to comparably excelled all others. That nospeak sense: but it is certain their sense ble extravagance of fancy, which he had ought to be a little discoloured, that it may in so great perfection, thoroughly qualified seem particular, and proper to the person him to touch this weak superstitious part and condition of the speaker.
of his reader's imagination; and made him These descriptions raise a pleasing kind capable of succeeding, where he had nothing of horror in the mind of the reader, and to support him besides the strength of his amuse his imagination with the strangeness own genius. There is something so wild, and novelty of the persons who are repre- and yet so solemn, in the speeches of his sented to them. They bring up into our ghosts, fairies, witches, and the like imamemory the stories we have heard in our ginary persons, that we cannot forbear childhood, and favour those secret terrors thinking them natural, though we have no and apprehensions to which the mind of rule by which to judge of them, and must man is naturally subject. We are pleased confess if there are such beings in the with surveying the different habits and world, it looks highly probable they should behaviours of foreign countries: how much talk and act as he has represented them. more must we be delighted and surprised There is another sort of imaginary bewhen we are led, as it were, into a new ings, that we sometimes meet with among creation, and see the person and manners the poets, when the author represents any of another species! Men of cold fancies passion, appetite, virtue or vice, under a and philosophical dispositions, object to this visible shape, and makes it a person or an kind of poetry, that it has not probability actor in his poem. Of this nature are the enough to affect the imagination. But to descriptions of Hunger and Envy in Ovid, this it may be answered, that we are sure, of Fame in Virgil, and of Sin and Death in in general, there are many intellectual Milton. We find a whole creation of the beings in the world besides ourselves, and like shadowy persons in Spencer, who had several species of spirits, who are subject an admirable talent in representations of to different laws and economies from those this kind. I have discoursed of these emof mankind: when we see, therefore, any blematical persons in former papers, and of these represented naturally, we cannot shall therefore only mention them in this look upon the representation as altogether place. Thus we see how many ways poeimpossible; nay, many are prepossessed try addresses itself to the imagination, as it with such false opinions, as dispose them to has not only the whole circle of nature for believe these particular delusions; at least its province, but makes new worlds of its we have all heard so many pleasing relations own, shows us persons who are not to be in favour of them, that we do not care for found in being, and represents even the faseeing through the falsehood, and willingly culties of the soul, with the several virtues give ourselves up to so agreeable an im- and vices, in a sensible shape and character. posture.
I shall in my two following papers, consiThe ancients have not much of this pre- der, in general, how cther kinds of writing
are qualified to please the imagination; with | veral planets that lie within its neighbourwhich I intend to conclude this essay. hood, we are filled with a pleasing astonish
O. ment, to see so many worlds hanging one
above another, and sliding round their axles
in such an amazing pomp and solemnity. No. 420.) Wednesday, July 2, 1712. If, after this, we contemplate those wild*
fields of æther that reach in height as far PAPER X
as from Saturn to the fixed stars, and run ON THE PLEASURES OF THE IMAGINATION.
abroad almost to an infinitude, our imagiContents. --What authors please the imagination. Who nation finds its capacity filled with so imhave nothing to do with fiction. How history pleases mense a prospect; and puts itself upon the the imagination. How the authors of the new philo stretch to comprehend it. But if we yet fects of the imagination. Whether these defects are rise higher, and consider the fixed stars essential to the imagination.
as so many vast oceans of flame, that Quocunque volunt mentem auditoris agunto. are each of them attended with a different
Hor. Ars Poet. v. 100. set of planets, and still discover new firmaAnd raise men's passions to what height they will. ments and new lights that are sunk farther
Roscommon. in those unfathomable depths of æther, so As the writers in poetry and fiction as not to be seen by the strongest of our borrow their several materials from out- telescopes, we are lost in such a labyrinth ward objects, and join them together at of suns and worlds, and confounded with their own pleasure, there are others who the immensity and magnificence of nature. are obliged to follow nature more closely, Nothing is more pleasant to the fancy, and to take entire scenes out of her. Such than to enlarge itself by degrees, in its conare historians, natural philosophers, tra- templation of the various proportions which vellers, geographers, and, in a word, all its several objects bear to each other, who describe visible objects of a real ex- when it compares the body of man to the istence.
bulk of the whole earth, the earth to the It is the most agreeable talent of an his- circle it describes round the sun, that circle torian to be able to draw up his armies to the sphere of the fixed stars, the sphere and fight his battles in proper expressions, of the fixed stars to the circuit of the whole to set before our eyes the divisions, cabals, creation, the whole creation itself to the infian jealousies of great men, to lead us step nite space that is every where diffused about by step into the several actions and events it
; or when the imagination works downward, of his history. We love to see the subject and considers the bulk of a human body in unfolding itself by just degrees, and break- respect of an animal a hundred times sess ing upon us insensibly, so that we may be than a mite, the particular limbs of such an kept in a pleasing suspense, and have time animal, the different springs that actuate given us to raise our expectations, and to the limbs, the spirits which set the springs side with one of the parties concerned in a-going, and the proportionable minuteness the relation. I confess this shows more the of these several parts, before they have art than the veracity of the historian; but arrived at their full growth and perfection; I am only to speak of him as he is qualified but if, after all this, we take the least parto please the imagination; and in this re- ticle of these animal spirits, and consider spect Livy has, perhaps, excelled all who its capacity of being wrought into a world went before him, or have written since his that shall contain within those narrow ditime. He describes every thing in so lively mensions a heaven and earth, stars and a manner that his whole history is an ad- planets, and every different species of livmirable picture, and touches on such pro- ing creatures, in the same analogy and per circumstances in every story, that his proportion they bear to each other in our reader becomes a kind of spectator, and own universe; such a speculation, by reason feels in himself all the variety of passions of its nicety, appears ridiculous to those which are correspondent to the several who have not turned their thoughts that parts of the relations.
way, though at the same time it is founded But among this set of writers there are on no less than the evidence of a demonnone who more gratify and enlarge the stration. Nay, we may yet carry it farther, imagination than the authors of the new and discover in the smallest particle of philosophy, whether we consider their this little world a new inexhausted fund of theories of the earth or heavens, the disco-matter, capable of being spun out into anveries they have made by glasses, or any other universe. other of their contemplations on nature. I have dwelt the longer on this subject, We are not a little pleased to find every because I think it may show us the proper green leaf swarm with millions of animals, limits, as well as the defectiveness of our that at their largest growth are not visible imagination; how it is confined to a very to the naked eye. There is something small quantity of space, and immediately very engaging to the fancy, as well as to stopt in its operation, when it endeavours our reason, in the treatises of metals, mi- to take in any thing that is very great or nerals, plants, and meteors. But when we survey the whole earth at once, and the se
* Vid. ed. in folio.
very little. Let a man try to conceive the them their similitudes, metaphors, and al. different bulk of an animal, which is twenty, legories. By these allusions, a truth in the from another which is an hundred times understanding is, as it were, reflected by less than a mite, or to compare in his the imagination; we are able to see somethoughts a length of a thousand diameters thing like colour and shape in a notion, of the earth, with that of a million, and he and to discover a scheme of thoughts traced will quickly find that he has no different out upon matter. And here the mind remeasures in his mind adjusted to such ex-ceives a great deal of satisfaction, and has traordinary degrees of grandeur or minute- two of its faculties gratified at the same time, ness. The understanding, indeed, opens while the fancy is busy in copying after the an infinite space on every side of us; but understanding, and transcribing ideas out the imagination, after a few faint efforts, is of the intellectual world into the material. immediately at a stand, and finds herself The great art of a writer shows itself in swallowed up in the immensity of the void the choice of pleasing allusions, which are that surrounds it. Our reason can pursue a generally to be taken from the great or particle of matter through an infinite va- beautiful works of art or nature; for, though riety of divisions; but the fancy soon loses whatever is new or uncommon is apt to sight of it, and feels in itself a kind of delight the imagination, the chief design of chasm, that wants to be filled with matter an allusion being to illustrate and explain of a more sensible bulk. We can neither the passages of an author, it should be alwiden nor contract the faculty to the di- ways borrowed from what is more known mension of either extreme. The object is and common than the passages which are too big for our capacity, when we would to be explained. comprehend the circumference of a world; Allegories, when well chosen, are like so and dwindles into nothing when we endea- many tracks of light in a discourse, that vour after the idea of an atom.
make every thing about them clear and It is possible this defect of imagination beautiful. "A noble metaphor, when it is may not be in the soul itself, but as it acts placed to an advantage, casts a kind of glory in conjunction with the body. Perhaps round it, and darts a lustre through a whole there may not be room in the brain for such sentence. These different kinds of allusion a variety of impressions, or the animal are but so many different manners of similispirits may be incapable of figuring them tude; and that they may please the imagiin such a manner as is necessary to excite so nation, the likeness ought to be very exact very large or very minute ideas. However or very agreeable, as we love to see a picit be, we may well suppose that beings of a ture where the resemblance is just, or the higher nature very much excel us in this posture and air graceful. But we often find respect, as it is probable the soul of man eminent writers very faulty in this respect; will be infinitely more perfect hereafter in great scholars are apt to fetch their comthis faculty, as well as in all the rest; inso- parisons and allusions from the sciences in much that, perhaps, the imagination will which they are most conversant, so that a be able to keep pace with the understand- man may see the compass of their learning ing, and to form in itself distinct ideas of all in a treatise on the most indifferent subject. the different modes and quantities of space. I have read a discourse upon love, which
0. none but a profound chymist could under
stand, and have heard many a sermon that
should only have been preached before a No. 421.] Thursday, July 3, 1712. congregation of Cartesians. On the con
trary, your men of business usually have
recourse to such instances as are too mean ON THE PLEASURES OF THE IMAGINATION. and familiar. They are for drawing the Contents.—How those please the imagination who treat reader into a game of chess or tennis, or for of subjects abstract from matter, by allusions taken leading him from shop to shop, in the cant
What allusions are most pleasing to the of particular trades and employments. It spect. Of the art of imagining in general. The ima is certain, there may be found an infinite gination capable of pain as well as pleasure. In what variety of very agreeable allusions in both degree the imagination is capable either of pain or these kinds; but, for the generality, the most pleasure. Ignotis errare locis, ignota videre,
entertaining ones lie in the works of nature, Flumina gaudebat; studio minuente laborem. which are obvious to all capacities, and
more delightful than what is to be found in He sought fresh fountains in a foreign soil: arts and sciences. The pleasure lessen'd the attending toil.-Addison. It is this talent of affecting the imaginaThe pleasures of the imagination are not tion that gives an embellishment to good wholly confined to such particular authors sense, and makes one man's composition as are conversant in material objects, but more agreeable than another's. It sets off are often to be met with among the polite all writings in general, but is the very life masters of morality, criticism, and other and highest perfection of poetry, where it speculations abstracted from matter, who, shines in an eminent degree: it has prethough they do not directly treat of the served several poems for many ages, that visible parts of nature, often draw from have nothing else to recommend them; and
Orid. Met. vi. 294.
think existence no better than a curse. Innal folio, at the end of No. 421; but are in this edition
part of it.
where all the other beauties are present, ture the soul through this single faculty, as the work appears dry and insipid, if this might suffice to make the whole heaven or single one be wanting. It has something in hell of any finite being. it like creation. It bestows a kind of ex [This essay on the Pleasures of the Iinaistence, and draws up to the reader's view gination having been published in separate several objects which are not to be found in papers, I shall conclude it with a table of being. It makes additions to nature, and the principal contents of each paper.*] gives greater variety to God's works. In a 0. word, it is able to beautify and adorn the most illustrious scenes in the universe, or to fill the mind with more glorious shows No. 422.] Friday, July 4, 1712. and apparitions than can be found in any
Hæc scripsi non otii abundantia, sed amoris ergate. We have now discovered the several
I have written this not out of the abundance of lei. originals of those pleasures that gratify the
sure, but of my affection towards you. fancy; and here, perhaps, it would not be very difficult to cast under their proper
I do not know any thing which gives heads those contrary objects, which are apt greater disturbance to conversation, than to fill it with distaste and terror; for the the false notion which people have of railimagination is as liable to pain as pleasure. lery. It ought certainly to be the first point When the brain is hurt by any accident, or to be aimed at in society, to gain the good
the mind disordered by dreams or sickness, will of those with whom you converse; the Si the fancy is overrun with wild dismal ideas, way to that is, to show you are well inclined
and terrified with a thousand hideous mon- towards them. What then can be more sters of its own framing.
absurd, than to set up for being extremely
sharp and biting, as the term is, in your Eumenidum veluti demens videt agmina Pentheus, expressions to your familiars? A man who Et solem geminum, et duplices se ostendere Thebas:
has no good quality but courage, is in a very Aut Agamemnonius scenis agitatus Orestes, Armatam facibus matrem et serpentibus atris
ill way towards making an agreeable figure Cum fugit, ultricesque sedent in limine dire. in the world, because that which he has
Virg. Æn. 469.
superior to other people cannot be exerted Like Pentheus, when distracted with his fear, He saw two suns, and double Thebes appear;
without raising himself an enemy. Your Or mad Orestes, when his mother's ghost
gentleman of a satirical vein is in the like Full in his face infernal torches tost,
condition. To say a thing which perplexes And shook her snaky locks: he shuns the sight, Flies o'er the stage, surpris'd with mortal fright;
the heart of him you speak to, or brings The furies guard the door, and intercept his flight,
blushes into his face, is a degree of murder;
Dryden. and it is, I think, an unpardonable offence the
There is not a sight in nature so mortify- to show a man you do not care whether he ing as that of a distracted person, when his is pleased or displeased. But won't you imagination is troubled, and his whole soul then take a jest? --Yes: but pray let it be a disordered and confused. Babylon in ruins jest. It is no jest to put me, who am so is not so melancholy a spectacle. But to
unhappy as to have an utter aversion to quit so disagreeable a subject, I shall only speaking to more than one man at a time, consider, by way of conclusion, what an
under a necessity to explain myself in much infinite advantage this faculty gives an al- company, and reducing me to shame and mighty Being over the soul of man, and derision, except I perform what my inhow great a measure of happiness or misery firmity of silence disables me to do. we are capable of receiving from the imagi- with that quality without which a man can
Callisthenes had great wit accompanied We have already seen the influence that have no wit at all—a sound judgment. This · with
what ease he conveys into it a variety know: for he forms his ridicule upon a cirof imagery: how great a power then may cumstance which you are in your heart not the ways of affecting the imagination, who guilty of an excess in something
which is can infuse what ideas he pleases, and fill in itself laudable. He very well understands degree he thinks fit! He can excite images anger for declaring you are a little too much make scenes rise up before us, and seem reproached as lavish, and the valiant as present to the eye, without the assistance rash, without being provoked to resentof bodies or exterior objects
. He can trans- ment against their monitor. What has been ind glorious visions as cannot
possibly enter in with the character of a good companion. es with such ghastly spectres and apparitions
indien our present conceptionszoosi haunt in The good writer makes his reader weiter as would make us hope for annihilation, and
* These contents are printed all together in the origi. short, he can so exquisitely ravish or tor-Iginnings of the several
arranged in their proper , and placed at the be. 20