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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 particularly 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.
I have in this paper, by way of introduction, settled the notion of those pleasures of the imagination which are the subject of my present undertaking, and endeavoured, by several considerations, to recommend to my Reader the pursuit of those pleasures. I shall, in my next paper, examine the several sources from whence these pleasures are derived.
Saturday, September 20. [1712.]
Βαθυρρείταο μέγα σθένος 'Ωκεανοίο. Ηom. SIR,
Upon reading your Essay, concerning the pleasures of the imagination, I find among the three sources of those pleasures 15 which you have discovered, that Greatness is one. This has suggested to me the reason why, of all objects that I have ever seen, there is none which affects my imagination so much as the sea or ocean. I cannot see the heavings of this prodigious bulk of waters, even in a calm, without a very pleasing. astonishment; but when it is worked up in a tempest, so that the Horizon on every side is nothing but foaming billows and floating mountains, it is impossible to describe the agreeable horrour that rises from such a prospect. A troubled ocean, to a man who sails upon it, is, I think, the biggest object that he 25 can see in motion, and consequently gives his imagination one of the highest kinds of pleasure that can arise from greatness. I must confess, it is impossible for me to survey this world of
fluid matter, without thinking on the hand that first poured it out, and made a proper channel for its reception. Such an object naturally raises in my thoughts the idea of an almighty
Being, and convinces me of his existence as much as a meta5 physical demonstration. The imagination prompts the under
standing, and by the greatness of the sensible object, produces in it the idea of a Being who is neither circumscribed by time nor space.
As I have made several voyages upon the sea, I have often been tossed in storms, and on that occasion have frequently reflected on the descriptions of them in antient Poets. I remember Longinus highly recommends one in Homer, because the Poet has not amused himself with little fancies upon the
occasion, as Authors of an inferior genius, whom he mentions, 15 had done, but because he has gathered together those circum
stances which are the most apt to terrify the imagination, and which really happen in the raging of a tempest. It is for the same reason, that I prefer the following description of a ship in a storm, which the Psalmist has made, before any other I have ever met with. They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters: these men see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waters thereof.
They mount up to Heaven, they go down again to the depths, 25 their Soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro,
and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits-end. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so
that the waves thereof are still. Then they are glad because 30 they be quiet, so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.
By the way, how much more comfortable, as well as rational, is this system of the Psalmist, than the pagan scheme in Virgil, and other Poets, where one Deity is represented as raising a storm, and another as laying it? Were we only to consider
the Sublime in this piece of poetry, what can be nobler than the idea it gives us of the supreme Being thus raising a tumult among the elements, and recovering them out of their confusion, thus troubling and becalming nature?
Great Painters do not only give us Landskips of gardens, groves, and meadows, but very often employ their pencils upon sea-pieces : I could wish you would follow their example. If this small sketch may deserve a place among your works, I shall accompany it with a divine Ode, made by a Gentleman upon the conclusion of his travels.
Confusion dwelt in ev'ry face,
And fear in ev'ry heart;
O’ercame the pilot's art.
Thursday, October 23. [1712.]
Heu pietas! heu prisca fides !
We last night received a piece of ill news at our Club, which very sensibly afflicted every one of us. I question not but my Readers themselves will be troubled at the hearing of it. To keep them no longer in suspence, Sir ROGER DE COVERLY is dead. He departed this life at his house in the country, after a few weeks sickness. Sir ANDREW FREEPORT has a Letter from one of his correspondents in those parts, that informs him the old man caught a cold at the county-sessions, as he was very warmly promoting an Address of his own penning, in which he succeeded according to his wishes. But this particular comes from a Whig Justice of Peace, who was always Sir Roger's enemy and antagonist. I have Letters both from the Chaplain and Captain SENTRY which mention nothing of it, but are filled with many particulars to the honour of the good old man.
I have likewise a Letter from the Butler, who took so much care of me last summer when I was at the Knight's house. As my friend the Butler mentions, in the simplicity of his heart, several circumstances the others have passed over in silence, I shall give my Reader a copy of his Letter, without any alteration or diminution.
“Knowing that you was my old Master's good friend, I “could not forbear sending you the melancholy news of his “death, which has afflicted the whole country, as well as his poor servants, who loved him, I may say, better than we did our lives. I am afraid he caught his death the last county
sessions, where he would go to see justice done to a poor “ widow woman, and her fatherless children, that had been "wronged by a neighbouring Gentleman; for you know, my