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that, feeble in sentiment, he is studying to support himself by mere expression.
The fame unfavourable judgment we must pass, on all that laboured apparatus with which fome writers introduce a passage, or description, which they intend shall be sublime ; calling on their readers to attend, invoking their muse, or breaking forth into general unmeaning exclamations, concerning the greatness, terribleness, or majesty of the object, which they are to describe. Mr. Addifon, in his Campaign, has fallen into an error of this kind, when about to describe the battle of Blenheim.
But O! my muse ! what numbers wilt thou find
Introductions of this kind, are a forced attempt in a writer, to fpur up himself, and his reader, when he finds his imagination begin to flag. It is like taking artificial spirits, in order to supply the want of such as are natural. By this observation, however, I do not mean to pass a general censure on mr. Addifon's Campaign, which, in several places, is far from wanting merit ; and, in particular, the noted comparison of his hero to the angel who rides in the whirlwind and directs the storm, is a truly sub
The faults opposite to the sublime are chiefy two; the frigid, and the bombast. The frigid conlifts, in degrading an object, or sentiment, which is sublime in itself, by our mean conception of it; or by our weak, low, and childish defcription of it. This betrays entire absence, or at least great poverty of genius. Of this, there are abundance of examples, and these commented upon with much humour, in the treatise on the art of sinking, in dean Swift's works; the instances taken chiefly from fir Richard Blackmore. One of these, I had occasion already to give, in relation to mount Ætna, and it were needless to produce any more. The bombast lies, in forcing an ordinary or trivial object out of its rank, and endeavouring to raise it into the sublime; or, in attempting to exalt a sublime object beyond all natural and reasonable bounds. Into this error, which is but too common, writers of genius may sometimes fall, by unluckily losing fight of the true point of the sublime. This is also called fustian, or rant. Shakespeare, a great, but incorrect genius, is not unexceptionable here. Dryden and Lee, in their tragedies, abound with it.
Thus far of the sublime ; of which I have treated fully, because it is fo capital an excellency in fine writing, and because clear and precise ideas on this head are, as far as I know, not to be met with in critical writers.
Before I conclude this lecture, there is one obseryation which I choose to make at this time ; I shall make it once for all, and hope it will be afterwards remembered. It is with respect to the instances of faults, or rather blemishes and imperfections, which, as I have done in this lecture, I shall hereafter continue tò take, when I can, from writers of reputation. I have not the least intention thereby to disparage their character in the general. I Mall have other occasions of doing equal justice to their beauties. But it is no reflexion on any human performance, that it is not absolutely perfect. The task would be much easier for me, to collect instances of faults from bad writers. But they would draw no attention, when quoted from books which nobody reads. And I conceive, that the method which I follow, will contribute more to make the bct authors be read with pleasure, when one properly diftinguishes their beauties from their faults; and is led to imitate and adnire only what is worthy of imitation and admiration.
BEAUTY AND OTHER PLEASURIS
S sublimity constitutes a particular character
of composition, and forms one of the highest excellencies of eloquence and of poetry, it was proper to treat of it at some length. It will not be necessary to discuss so particularly all the other pleasures that arise from taste, as fome of them have less relation to our main subject. On beauty only. I shall make several observations, both as the subject is curious, and as it tends to improve taste, and to discover the foundation of several of the graces of description and of poetry*.
Beauty, next to sublimity, affords, beyond doubt, the highest pleasure to the imagination. The emotion which it raises, is very distinguishable from that of sublimity. It is of a calmer kind ; more gentle and soothing ; does not elevate the mind so much, but produces an agreeable serenity: Sublimity raises a feeling, too violent, as I showed,
* See Hutchinson's enquiry concerning beauty and virtueGerard on taste, chap. iii.-Enquiry into the origin of our ideas of the fublime and beautiful-Elements of criticisin, shap. iii.-Spectator, vol. vi.-Elay on the pleafores of raste.
to be lasting ; the pleasure arising from beauty admits of longer continuance. It extends allo to a much greater variety of objects than fublimity; to a variety indeed fo great, that the feelings which beautiful objects produce, differ considerably, not in degree only, but also in kind, from one another. Hence, no word in the language is used in a more vague signification than beauty. It is applied to almost every external object that pleases the eye, or the ear ; to a great number of the graces of writing ; to many dispositions of the mind; nay, to several objects of mere abstract science. We talk currently of a beautiful tree or flower ; a beautiful poem ; a beautiful character; and a beautiful theorem in mathematics.
Hence we may ealily perceive, that, among so great a variety of objects, to find out some one quality in which they all agree, and which is the foundation of that agreeable sensation they all raise, must be a very difficult, if not, more probably, a vain attempt. Objects, denominated beautiful, are so different, as to please, not in virtue of any one quality common to them all, but by means of several different principles in human nature. The agreeable emotion which they all raise, is somewhat of the fame nature ; and, therefore, has the common name of beauty given to it; but it is raised by different causes.
Hypotheses, however, have been framed by ingenious men, for assigning the fundamental quality of beauty in all objects. In particular, unifor-, mity amidst variety, has been insisted on as this fundamental quality. For the beauty of many figures, I admit that this accounts in a satisfactory manner. But when we endeavour to apply this principle to beautiful objects of some other kind, as to colour, for instance, or motion, we shall foon find that it has no place. And even in exter
nal figured objects, it does not hold, that their beauty is in proportion to their mixture of variety ! with uniformity ; seeing many please us, as highly beautiful, which have almost no variety at all; and others, which are varicus to a degree of intricacy. Laying lystems of this kind, therefore, afide, what I now propose is, to give an enumeration of several of those classes of objects in which beauty most remarkably appears; and to point out, as far as I can, the separate principles of beauty in each of them.
Colour affords, perhaps, the simplest instance of beauty, and therefore the fittest to begin with. Here, neither variety, nor un formity, nor any other principle, that I know, can be afligned, as the foundation of beauty. We can refer it to no other cause but the structure of the eye, which determines us to receive certain modifications of the rays of light with more pleasure than others. And we fee, accordingly, that, as the organ of sensation varies in different persons, they have their different favourite colours. It is probable, that afsociation of ideas has influence, in some cases, on the pleasure which we receive from colours. Green, for instance, may appear more beautiful, by being connected in our ideas with rural prospects and scenes; white, with innocence; blue, with the ferenity of the sky. Independent of associations of this kind, all that we can farther observe, concerning colours, is, that those chosen for beauty are, generaily, delicate, rather than glaring. Such are those paintings with which mature hath ornamented fome of her works, and which art strives in vain to imitate ; as the feathers of several kinds of birds, the leaves of flowers, and the fine variation of colours exhibited by the sky at the rising and setting of the sun. These present to us the higheit instances of the beauty of colouring; and have