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Man, are of mean price, and so common as not to be greatly esteemed by the curious. It being certain that any thing, of which we know the true use, cannot be invaluable: Which affords a solution, why common Sense hath either been totally despised, or held in small repute, by the greatest modern Critics and Authors.
CH A P. V.
Of the true Genius for the Profund, and
by what it is constituted.
A ND I will venture to lay it down, as the A first Maxim and Corner-Stone of this our Art; that whoever would excel therein, must studiously avoid, detest, and turn his head from all the ideas, ways, and workings of that pestilent Foe to Wit, and Destroyer of fine Figures, which is known by the Name of Common Sense. His business must be to contract the true Gout de travers ; and to acquire a most happy, uncommon, unaccountable Way of Thinking.
He is to consider hiinself as a Grotesque painter, whose works would be spoiled by an imitation of nature, or uniformity of design. He is to mingle bits of the most various, or discordant kinds, landscape, history, portraits, animals, and connect
them with a great deal of flourishing, by heads or tails, as it shall please his imagination, and contribute to his principal end, which is to glare by
strong oppositions of colours, and surprize by con· trariety of images.
Serpentes avibus geminentur, tigribus agni. Hor.
His design ought to be like a labyrinth, out of which no body can get clear but himself. And since the great Art of all Poetry is to mix Truth with Fiction, in order to join the Credible with the Surprizing ; our author shall produce the Credible, by painting nature in her lowest simplicity; and the Surprizing, by contradicting common opinion. In the very Manners he will affect the Marvellous; he will draw Achilles with the patience of Job; a Prince talking like a Jack-pudding; a Maid of honour felling bargains; a footman speaking like a philofopher; and a fine gentleman like a scholar. Whoever is conversant in modern Plays, may make a most noble collection of this kind, and, at the same time, form a complete body of modern Ethics and Morality.
Nothing seemed more plain to our great authors, than that the world had long been weary of natural things. How much the contrary are formed to please, is evident from the universal applause daily given to the admirable entertainments of Harlequins and Magicians on our stage. When an audience behold a coach turned into a wheel
barrow, a conjurer into an old woman, or a man's head where his heels should be; how are they struck with transport and delight? Which can only be imputed to this cause, that each object is changed into that which hath been suggested to them by their own low ideas before.
He ought therefore to render himself master of this happy and anti-natural way of thinking to such a degree, as to be able, on the appearance of any object, to furnish his imagination with ideas infinitely below it. And his eyes should be like unto the wrong end of a perspective glass, by which all the objects of nature are lessened.
For example; when a true genius looks upon the Sky, he immediately catches the idea of a piece of blue lutestring, or a child's mantle. a The Skies, whose spreading volumes scarce have room, Spun thin, and wove in nature's finest loom, The new-born world in their soft lap embrac’d, And all arcund their starry mantle cast.
If he looks upon a Tempest, he shall have an image of a tumbled bed, and describe a succeeding calm in this manner : • The Ocean, joy'd to see the tempest fled,
New luys his waves, and smooths bis ruffled bed.
- Prince Arthur, p. 41, 42.
P. 14. N. B. In order to do Justice to these great Poets, our Citations are taken from the best, the last, and most correct Editions of their Works. That which we use of Prince Arthur, is in Duodecimi, 1714. The fourth Edition revised. P.
The Triumphs and Acclamations of the Angels, at the Creation of the Universe, present to his imagination “ the Rejoicings of the Lord Mayor's “ Day;" and he beholds those glorious beings celebrating the Creator, by huzzaing, making illuminations, and flinging squibs, crackers and sky-rockets. Glorious Illuminations, made on high By all the stars and planets of the sky, In just degrees, and shining order plac'd, Spectators charm'd, and the blest dwelling grac'd. Thro' all th’ enlighten'd air swift fireworks flew, Which with repeated shouts glad Cherubs threw. Comets ascended with their sweeping train, Then fell in starry show’rs and glittring rain. In air ten thousand meteors blazing hung, Which from th’ eternal battlements were flung.
If a man who is violently fond of Wit, will facrifice to that passion his friend or his God, would it not be a shame, if he who is smit with the love of the Bathos should not sacrifice to it all other tranfitory regards? You shall hear a zealous Protestant Deacon invoke a Saint, and modestly befeech her to do more for us than Providence: * Look down, bless’d saint, with pity then look down, Shed on this land thy kinder influence, And guide us through the mists of providence, In wbich we stray. • P.so. A. Philips on the Death of Queen Mary. VOL. VI.
Neither will he, if a goodly Simile come in his way, scruple to attirm himself an eye-witness of things never yet beheld by man, or never in existence ; as thus,
· Thus have I seen in Araby the bless’d,
A Phænix couch'd upon ker fun’ral nejt. But to convince you that nothing is so great which a marvellous genius, prompted by this laudable zeal, is not able to lessen; hear how the most sublime of all Beings is represented in the following images :
First he is a PAINTER.
Now he is a CHEMIST.
Now he is a WRESTLE R.
o Blackm. opt, elit. duod. 1716. p. 172. !? civ. p. 160
o Page 75.