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What love sincere and reverence in my heart
Between us two let there be peace. The complaint which Eve makes, on hearing that they were to be driven out of Paradise, is not only beautiful, but soft and suitable to the sex.
Muft I then leave thee, Paradise ? thus leave
accuftom'd to immortal fruits ? The speech which Adam makes upon the same occasion, is equally affecting, but is conceived and expreffed in a manner more 'elevated and masculine : the following past of it especially
This most affiets me, that departing hence
Stood visible, among these fines his voice
Of glory, and far off his steps adore. Agreeable and well conceived fictions have also a good effect either in prose or verse, and always please readers of taste and judgement. Pliny the younger, in order to engage Cornelius Tacitus to follow his example, and study even when hunting, tells him, that the exercise of the body exalts the mind; and that if he took his tablets with him, he would find that Minerva delighted as much in the fo. rests and mountains as Diana. A fiction prettily conceived, and in few words. A kin to this is the image (or fiction of a person) which Milton has given us in what he calls his fong of the May morning, which is extremely beautiful, especially that part of it describing May led in by the morning star, and throwing from her green lap the flowers of the season.
Now the bright morning star, day's harbinger,
Hail bounteous May that doit inspire
Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing.
And welcome thee, and wilh thee long. But the agreeable often arises from an opposition, especially in thoughts which have two meanings; or when a person agitated by passion assers and contradicts himself almoft in the same breath, as in the scene of Shakespear's
Romeo and Juliet, where she, to induce her lover to stay, cries,
Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet near day:
Believe me, love, it was the nightingale. But after a moment's reflection, the corrects herself, and replies,
It is, it is, hie hence, begone, away ;
Straining harsh discords, and unpleasing Tharps. That figure which seenis to deny what it advances, and in appearance contradicts itself, is, when properly applied, extremely elegant.
Cowards die many times before their deaths ;
But these thoughts are to be admitted with great caution and judgment; for the partition here between wit and nonsense is so very sender, that many writers have broken through it, and converted what they intended for a beauty into a blot, by presenting their readers not with a seeming contradiction, but a real one. Nor are we to suppose that a thought cannot be agreeable or beautiful, unless it glitters with ingenious conceits, or a play of words; for in some cases, beauty may consist in fimplicity alone, and be, in its place, like a plain pillar in some building, the only proper, and therefore the best ornament. Besides, it is impossible for a writer to be upon the sublime and the beautiful from one end of his piece to the other, nor will any subject admit of it ; some things must occur that require common thoughts and a common stile ; but if they did not, and it was possible for a poet to keep up to the same elevated strain, yet would he miss of his aim, and rather disguft than please ; for the mind would be deprived of the refreshment and recreation it takes in paffing from things that are excellent to those are common,
and of the delight which springs from surprise ; neither of which it can obtain, where all things appear with undistinguished
luftre. The poet therefore should imitate nature, who has diversified the world with vales and mountains, rocks and lawns, trees, fruits, flowers, smiling fields and dreary deserts, purling streams and horrible cascades ; and, like nature too, he should place them in such due opposition, that they may embellish and set off each other.
There is a third species of thoughts, whose agreeableness, beauty, and merit, is owing to their delicacy, and which it is easier to conceive than describe. - A delicate thought is a most excellent production, and as it were the very quintesscence of wit. These thoughts have the property of being comprised in a few words, and the whole meaning is not at first so obvious, but seems partly concealed, that the mind of the reader might be gratified in the discovery. This little mystery, says father Bouhours, is as it were the foul of delicate thoughts ; and those that have nothing mysterious either in their foundation or turn, but discover themselves at first sight, are not of the delicate kind, however ingenious they may be in other respects.
Cicero, in his oration for Ligarius, tells Cæfar, that 'tis usual for him to forget nothing but injuries.
Dr. Garth, in his dedication to Mr. Henley, says, A man of your character can no more prevent a dedication, than be would encourage one ; for merit, like a virgin's blushes, is fill moji discovered, when it labours most to be concealed.
'Tis hard, to think well of you should be but juffice, and to tell you so should be an offence : thus, rather than violate your modesly, I must be wanting to your other virtues; and to gratify one good quality, do wrong to a thousand.
Compliments that are thrown obliguely, and under the disguise of a complaint, are extremely delicate and pleafing.
In Pope I cannot read a line,
Which I was born to introduce,
Let humble Allen, with an aukward shame,
Do good by ftealth, and blush to find it fame. Pope. But besides these delicate thoughts which have an ingenious turn, there are others whose beauty depends solely on the delicacy of sentiment ; as when the poet says, that the evening dews are the tears of the sky for the loss of the sun.
I have attempted (fays a young gentleman in a letter to his mistress) io pursue your advice, and divert myself by the subject you recommend to my thoughts ; but it is imposible, I perceive, to turn off the mind at once from an object, which it has long dwelt upon with pleasure. My heart, like a poor bird which is hunted from her neft, is still returning to the place of its affections, and, after some vain efforts to fly off, settles again where all its cares and all its tendernesses are centered.
But of this sort of delicate thoughts, enough may be seen in the passages we have extracted from Milton, who abounds with every kind of beauty.
One true characteristic of delicate thoughts (especially of those first mentioned) is, that they are not capable of being translated out of one language into another, without losing great part of their true spirit or essential quality. And this is the cafe also with what we call true humour, which is like those delicate flowers that will lose their beauty, if not their being, when transplanted into a foreign climate.
The inimitable character Shakespear has drawn of Falftaf might be understood perhaps in any other language, but would fail of the effect it has in the original ; as would the defcription Butler has given us of Honour, and many other parts of his celebrated poem.