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of nature, which are obvious to all capacities, and more delightful than what is to be found in arts and sciences.
It is this talent of affecting the imagination that gives an embellishment to good sense, and makes one maan's compositions more agreeable than another's. It sets off all writings in general, but is the very life and highest perfection of poetry: where it shines in an eminent degree, it has preserved several poems for many ages, that have nothing else to recomiend thein; and where all the other beauties are present, the work appears dry and insipid, if this single one be wanting. It has something in it like creation. It bestows a kind of existence, and draws up to the reader's view several objects which are not to be found in being. It makes additions to nature, and gives greater variety to God's works. In a word, it is able to beautify and adorn the most illustrious scenes in the universe, or to fill the mind with more glorious shows and apparitions than can be found in any part of it.
We have now discovered the several originals of those pleasures that gratify the fancy; and here, perhaps, it would not be very difficult to cast under their proper heads those contrary objects, which are apt to fill it with distaste and terror; for the imagination is as liable to pain as pleasure. When the brain is hurt by any accident, or the mind disordered by dreams or sickness, the fancy is overrun with wild dismal ideas, and terrified with a thousand hideous monsters of its own framing
Eumenidum veluti demens videt agmina Pentheus,
Virg. din. iv. 469.
Like Pentheus, when distracted with his fear,
There is not a sight in nature so mortifying as that of a distracted person, when his imagination is troubled, and his whole soul disordered and confused, Babylon in ruins is not so melancholy a spectacle. But, to quit so disagreeable a subject, I shall only consider, by way of conclusion, what an infinite advantage this faculty gives an almighty Being over the soul of man, and how great a measure of happiness or misery we are capable of receiving from the imagination only.
We have already seen the influence that one has over the fancy of another, and with what ease he conveys into it a variety of imagery; how great a power then may we suppose lodged in him, who knows all the ways of affeeting the imagination, who can infuse what ideas he pleases, and fill those ideas with terror and delight to what degree he thinks fit? He can excite images in the mind without the help of words, and make scenes rise up before us and seem present to the eye without the assistance of bodies or exterior objects. He can transport the imagination with such beautiful and glorious visions as cannot possibly enter into our present conceptions, or haunt it with such ghastly spectres and apparitions as would make us hope for annihilation, and think existence no better than a curse. In short, he can so exquisitely ravish or torture
the soul through this single faculty, as might suffice to make the whole heaven or hell of any finite being.
A VISION. No. 425.
There is hardly any thing gives me a more sensible delight than the enjoyment of a cool still evening after the uneasiness of a hot sultry day. Such a one I passed not long ago, which made me rejoice when the hour was come for the sun to set, that I might enjoy the freshness of the evening in my garden, which then affords me the pleasantest hours I pass in the whole four-and-twenty. I immediately rose from my couch, and went down into it. You descend at first by twelve stone steps into a large square divided into four grass-plots, in each of which is a statue of white marble. This is separated from a large parterre by a low wall, and from thence, through a pair of iron gates, you are led into a long broad walk of the finest turf, set on each side with tall yews, and on either hand bordered by a canal, which on the right divides the walk from a wilderness parted into variety of alleys and arbours, and on the left from a kind of amphitheatre, which is the receptacle of a great number of
oranges and myrtles. The moon shone bright, and seemed then most agreeably to supply the place of the sun, obliging me with as much light as was necessary to discover a thousand pleasing objects, and at the same time divested of all power of heat. The reflection of it in the water, the fanning of the wind rustling on the leaves, the singing of the thrush and nightingale, and the coolness of the walks, all conspired to make me lay aside all displeasing thoughts, and brought ine into such a tranquillity of mind, as is, I believe, the next happiness to that of hereafter.
“I reflected then upon the sweet vicissitudes of night and day, on the charming disposition of the seasons, and their return again in a perpetual circle : and oh! said I, that I could from these my declining years return again to my first spring of youth and vigour; but that, alas ! is impossible; all that remains within my power is to soften the inconveniences I feel, with an easy contented mind, and the enjoyment of such delights as this solitude affords me., In this thought. I sat me down on a bank of Aowers and dropped into a slumber, when methought the genius of the garden stood before me, and introduced into the walk where I lay this drama and different scenes of the revolution of the year, which whilst I then saw, even in my dream, I resolved to write downg, and send to the Spectator.
The first person whom I saw advancing towards me, was a youth of a most beautiful air and shape, though he secmed not yet arrived at that exact proportion and symmetry of parts which a little more time would have given him ; but, however, there was such a bloom in his countenance, such satisfaction and joy, that I thought it the most desirable form that I had ever seen. He was clothed in a flowing mantle of green silk, interwoven with flowers: he had a chaplet of roses on his head, and a Narcissus in his hand; primroses and violets sprang up under his feet, and all nature was cheered at his approach. Flora was on one hand, and Vertumnus on the other in a robe of changeable silk. After this I was surprised to see the moon-beams reflected with a sudden glare from armour, and too see a
man completely armed advancing with his sword drawn. I was soon informed by the genius it was Mars, who had long usurped a place among the attendants of the spring. He made way for a softer appearance: It was Venus, without any ornament but her own beauties, not so much as her own cestus, with which she had encompassed a globe which she held in her right hand, and in her left she had a sceptre of gold. After her followed the Graces, with arms entwined within one another : their girdles were loosed and they moved to the sound of soft music, striking the ground alternately with their feet. Then came up the three months which belong to this season. As March advanced towards me, there was methought in his look a louring roughness, which ill befitted a month which was ranked in so soft a season ; but as he came forwards his features became insensibly more mild and gentle : he smoothed his brow, and looked with so sweet a countenance that I could not but lament his departure, though he made way for April. He appeared in the greatest gaiety imaginable, and had a thousand pleasures to attend him: his look was frequently clouded, but immediately returned to its first composure, and remained fixed in a smile. Then came May, attended by Cupid, with his bow strung, and in a posture to let fly an arrow : as he passed by, methought I heard a confused noise of soft complaints, gentle ecstasies, and tender sighs of lovers ; vows of constancy, and as many complainings of perfidiousness; all which the winds wafted away as soon as they had reached my hearing. After these I saw a man advance in the full prime and vigour of his age : his complexion was sanguine and ruddy ; his hair black, and fell down in beautiful ringlets beneath his shoulders; a mantle of