ページの画像
PDF
ePub

applies to variety, is more commonly applied to extent than to number. It is plain, however, that he employed it to avoid the repetition of the word great, which occurs immediately afterward.

“The sense of feeling can, indeed, give us a notion of extension, shape, and all other ideas that enter at the eye, except colors; but, at the same time, it is very much straitened and confined in its operations, to the number, bulk, and distance of its particular objects.”.

But is not every sense confined as much as the sense of feeling, to the number, bulk, and distance of its own objects? The turn of expression is also very inaccurate, requiring the two words, with regard, to be inserted after the word operations, in order to make the sense clear and intelligible. The epithet particular seems to be used instead of peculiar; but these words, though often confounded, are of very different import. Particular is opposed to general; peculiar stands opposed to what is possessed in com mon with others.

“Our sight seems designed to supply all these defects, and may be con sidered as a more delicate and diffusive kind of touch, that spreads itself · over an infinite multitude of bodies, comprehends the largest figures, anu brings into our reach some of the most remote parts of the universe."

TŘis sentence is perspicuous, graceful, well arranged, and highly musical Its construction is so similar to that of the second sentence, that, had it im mediately succeeded it, the ear would have been sensible of a faulty monot ony. But the interposition of a period prevents this effect.

* It is this sense which furnishes the imagination with its ideas; so that, by the pleasures of the imagination or fancy (which I shall use promiscu ously) I here mean such as arise from visible objects, either when we have them actually in our view, or when we call up their ideas into our minds py paintings, statues, descriptions, or any the like occasion."

The parenthesis in the middle of this sentence is not clear. It should have been, terms which I shall use promiscuously; since the verb use does not relate to the pleasures of the imagination, but to the terms, fancy and imagination, which were meant to be synonymous. To call a painting or a statue an occasion, is not accurate ; nor is it very proper to speak of calling up ideas by occasions. The common phrase, any such means, would have been more natural.

“We cannot indeed have a single image in the fancy, that did not make its first entrance through the sight; but we have the power of retaining, altering, and compounding those images which we have once received, into all the varieties of picture and vision, that are most agreeable to the imagination; for, by this faculty, a man in a dungeon is capable of entertaining aimself with scenes and landscapes more beautiful than any that can be found in the whole compass of nature.”

In one member of this sentence there is an inaccuracy in syntax. It is proper to say, altering and compounding those images which we have once received, into all the varieties of picture and vision. But we cannot with propriety say, retaining them into all the varieties; yet the arrangement requires this construction. This error might have been avoided by arranging the passage in the following manner: We have the power of retaining bose images which we have once received ; and of altering and compounding them into all the varieties of picture and vision.” The latter part of the sentence

clear and elegant. “ There are few words in the English language, which are employed in more loose and uncircumscribed sense than those of the fancy and the imagination."

Except when some assertion of consequence is advanced, these little words, it is and there are, ought to be avoided, as redundant and enfeebling. The two first words of this sentence, therefore, should have been omitted The article prefixed to fancy and imagination ought also to have been

mous.

omitted, since he does not mean the powers of the fancy and the imagina tion, but the words only. The sentence should have run thus : Few words in the English language are employed in a roore loose and uncir cumscribed sense than fancy and imagination.”

“ I therefore thought it necessary to fix and determine the notion of these two words, as I intend to make use of them in the thread of my following speculations, that the reader may conceive rightly what is the subject which I proceed upon, The words fix and determine, though they may appear so, are not synony,

We fix, what is loose; we determine, what is uncircumscribed. They may be viewed, therefore, as applied here with peculiar delicacy.

The notion of these words, is rather harsh, and is not so commonly used as the meaning of these words. As I intend to make use of them in the thread of my speculations, is evidently faulty. A sort of metaphor is im properly mixed with words in their literal sense. The subject which I proceed upon is an ungraceful close of a sentence; it should have been, tho subject upon which I proceed.

“I must therefore desire him to remember, that, by the pleasures of im agination, I mean only such pleasures as arise originally from sight, and that I divide these pleasures into two kinds."

This sentence begins in a manner too similar to the preceding. I mean only such pleasures, the adverb only is not in its proper place. It is not in tended here to qualify the verb mean, but such pleasures; and ought there fore to be placed immediately after the latter.

“My design being, first of all, to discourse of those primary pleasures of the imagination, which entirely proceed from such objects as are before our eyes; and, in the next place, to speak of those secondary pleasures of the imagination, which flow from the ideas of visible objects, when the ob jects are not actually before the eye, but are called up into our memories, or formed into agreeable visions of things, that are either absent or fic titious."

Neatness and brevity are peculiarly requisite in the division of a subject. This sentence is somewhat clogged by a tedious phraseology. My design being, first of all, to discourse

in the next place to speak of-such objects as are before our eyes things that are either absent or fictitious. Several words might have been omitted, and the style made more neat and compact.

"The pleasures of the imagination, taken in their full extent, not so gross as those of sense, nor so refined as those of the understanding."

This sentence is clear and elegant.

“ The last are indeed more preferable, because they are founded on some new knowledge or improvement in the mind of man; yet it must be col. fessed, that those of the imagination are as great and as transporting as th other.

The phrase, more preferable, is so palpable an inaccuracy, that we wonde. how it could escape the observation of Mr. Addison. The proposition, con tained in the last member of this sentence, is neither clearly nor elegantly expressed. It must be confessed, that those of the imagination are as grean and as transporting as the other. In the beginning of this sentence he had called the pleasures of the understanding the last; and he concludes with observing, that those of the imagination are as great and transporting as the other. Beside that the other makes not a proper contrast with the last it is left doubtful whether by the other are meant the pleasures of the un derstanding, or the pleasures of sense ; though without doubt it was intend ed to refer to the pleasures of the understanding only.

"A beautiful prospect delights the soul as much as a demonstration, and a description in Homer has charmed more readers than a chapter in Aristotle."

This is a good illustration of what he had been asserting, and is expressed with that elegance, by which Mr. Addison is distinguished.

Besides, the pleasur

sures of the imagination have this advantage above those of the understanding, that they are more obvious and more easv to be acquired.”

This sentence is unexceptionable:
“ It is but opening the eye, and the scene enters.”

Though this is lively and picturesque, yet we must remark a small inac curacy. A scene cannot be said to enter; an actor enters; but a scene appears or presents itself.

“ The colors paint themselves on the fancy, with very little attention of thought or application of mind in the beholder."

This is beautiful and elegant, and well suited to those pleasures of the imagination of which the author is treating.

“We are struck, we know not how, with the symmetry of any thing wo see ; and immediately assent to the beauty of an object, without inquiring into the particular causes and occasions of it."

We assent to the truth of a proposition; but cannot with propriety be said to assent to the beauty of an object. In the conclusion, particular and occasions are superfluous words; and the pronoun it is in some measure ambiguous.

“A man of a polite imagination is let into a great many pleasures that the vulgar are not capable of receiving.”

The term polite is oftener applied to manners, than to the imagination. The use of that instead of which, is too common with Mr. Addison. Ex cept in cases where it is necessary to avoid repetition, which is preferable to that, and is undoubtedly so in the present instance.

“He can converse with a picture, and find an agreeable companion in a statue. He meets with a secret refreshment in a description; and often feels a greater satisfaction in the prospect of fields and meadows, than another does in the possession. It gives him indeed a kind of property in every thing he sees; and makes the most rude uncultivated parts of nature administer to his pleasures : so that he looks upon the world, as it were, in another light, and discovers in it a multitude of charms that conceal them selves from the generality of mankind."

This sentence is easy, flowing, and harmonious. We must, however, ob serve a slight inaccuracy. It gives him a kind of property-to this it there is no antecedent in the whole paragraph. To discover its connexion, we must look back to the third sentence preceding, which begins with a man of a polite imagination. This phrase, polite imagination, is the only antecedent to which it can refer; and even this is not a proper antecedent, since it stands in the genitive case as the qualification only of a man.

“ There are, indeed, but very few who know how to be idle and innocent, or have a relish of any pleasures that are not criminal: every diversion they take is at the expense of some one virtue or another, and their very first step out of business is into vice or folly.”

This sentence is truly elegant, musical, and correct. “A man should endeavor, therefore, to make the sphere of his innocent pleasure is wide as possible, that he may retire into them with safety, and find in them such a satisfaction as a wise man would not blush to take.”

This also is a good sentence and exposed to no objection. “Of this nature are those of the imagination, which do not require such a bent of thought as is necessary to our more serious employments; nor, at the same time, suffer the mind to sink into that indolence and remissness. which are apt to accompany our more sensual delights ; but like a gentle exercise to the faculties, awaken from sloth and idleness, without putting them upon any labor or difficulty.”

The beginning of this sentence is incorrect. Of this nature, says he, are those of the imagination. It might be asked, of what nature ? For the preceding sentence had not described the nature of any class of "leasures.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

He had said that it was every man's duty to make the spnere of his innocent pleasures as extensive as possible, that within this sphere he might find a safe retreat and laudable satisfaction. The transition, therefore, is loosely made. It would have been better, if he had said, “ this advantage we gain,” or “this satisfaction we enjoy,” by means of the pleasures of the imagination. The rest of the sentence is correct.

* We might here add, that the pleasures of the fancy are more conducive to health than those of the understanding, which are worked out by dint of thinking, and attended with too violent a labor of the brain.

Worked out by dint of thinking, is a phrase which borders too nearly on the style of common conversation, to be admitted into polished composition.

Delightful scenes, whether in nature, painting, or poetry, have a kindly influence on the body, as well as the mind, and not only serve to clear and "brighten the imagination, but are able to disperse grief and melancholy, and to set the animal spirits in pleasing and agreeable motions. For this reason Sir Francis Bacon, in his Essay upon Health, has not thought it improper to prescribe to his reader a poem or a prospect, where he particu larly dissuades him from knotty and subtile disquisitions, and advises him to pursue studies that fill the mind with splendid and illustrious objects, as histories, fables, and contemplations of nature."

In the latter of these two periods a member is out of its place. Where he particularly dissuades him from knotty and subtile disquisitions, ought to precede has not thought it improper to prescribe, fc.

I have in this paper, by way to introduction, settled the notion of those pleasures of the imagination, which are the subject of my present under taking, and endeavored by several considerations to recommend to my readers the pursuit of those pleasures: I shall in my next paper examine the several sources from whence these pleasures are derived."

These two concluding sentences furnish examples of proper collocation of circumstances. We formerly showed that it is difficult so to dispose them, as not to embarrass the principal subject. Had the following inci dental circumstances, by way of introduction by several considerations-in this paper-in the next paper, been placed in any other situation, the sen tence would have been neither so neat, nor so clear, as it is on the present construction.

LXXXVII.

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.

Example.

BIANCA CAPELLO.

Bianca, descended from the noble house of the Capelli, at Venice, and zaghter of Bartolomeo Capello, was born in 1545. Her childhood and urly youth passed in the retirement of her father's palace, where, accord g to the custom of the country, she conversed only with her family and Olations.

Opposite to the palace of the Capelli was the house of the Salviati where, in 1565, Bianca, having entered her twentieth year, attracted, by toe charms of her person, the attention of a young Florentine, by the Dame of Pietro Buonaventuri, whose birth was obscure, and who served in the family of the Salviati in the capacity of a clerk. Indebted more to nature than to fortune, possessing a fine person, insinuating manners, and an aspiring temper, Pietro secured the affections of Bianca, and they were privately married. It is not our present purpose to pursue the parrative of her adventures, which finally led to a separation from her husband, nor the story of her connexion with the house of Medici. Leaving these details to the historian, we propose to present merely those traits of her character by which she was peculiarly distinguished.

On a survey of the life of Bianca Capello, whatever may be thought of the qualities of her heart, which, it must be confessed, are doubtful, it is impossible not to be struck with the powers of her mind, by which, amidst innumerable obstacles, she maintained, undiminished, through life, that ascendancy which her personal charms had first. given her over the affections of a capricious prince. The determination and perseverance with which she prosecuted her plans, sufficiently testify her energy and talents : if, in effecting the end proposed, she was little scrupulous respecting the means, the Italian character, the circumstances of the times, the disadvantages attending her entrance into the world, subjected tc artifice, and entangled in fraud, must not be forgotten. Brought up in retirement and obscurity, thrown at once into the most trying situations, her prudence, her policy, her self-government, her knowledge of the human mind, and the means of subjecting it, are not less rare than admirable. She possessed singular penetration in discerning characters, and the weaknesses of those with whom she conversed, which she skilfully adapted to her purposes. By an eloquence, soft, insinuating, and powerful, she prevailed over her friends; while, by ensnaring them in their own devices, she made her enemies subservient to her views. Such was the fascination of her manners, that the prejudices of those by whom she was hated, yielded, in her presence, to admiration and delight: nothing seemed too arduous for her talents; inexhaustible in resource, whatever she undertook she found means to accomplish. If she was an impassioned character, she was uniformly animated by ambition. In her first engagement with Buonaventuri, she seems to have been influenced by a restless enterpris ing temper, disgusted with inactivity, rather than by love: through every scene of her connexion with the duke, her motives are sufficiently

obvious With a disposition like that of Bianca, sensibility and tenderness, tho appropriate virtues of the sex, are not to be expected. Real greatness has in it a character of simplicity, with which subtlety and craft are wholly incompatible: the genius of Bianca was such as fitted her to take a part in political intrigues, to succeed in courts, and rise to the pinnacle of power; but, stained with cruelty, and debased by falsehood, if her tal ents excite admiration, they produce no esteem; and while her accom. plishments dazzle the mind, they fail to interest the heart.

Majestic in stature, beautiful in her person, animated, eloquent, and in sinuating, she commanded all hearts; a power of which the tranquillity and silence of her own enabled her to avail herself to the utmost. ril health impaired her beauty at an early period; many portraits of her re main, in all of which she is represented as grand-duchess, when the first bloom of her charms had faded. A beautiful portrait of her, in the ducal robes, is preserved in the palace of the Capelli

, at Padua ; several are Mkowise to be found in the Palazzo Pelti, at Florence; and one, also, said to be still superior, in Palazzo Caprara, at Bologna.

« 前へ次へ »