« ZurückWeiter »
The complaint which Eve makes, on hearing that they were to be driven out of Paradise, is not only beautiful, but fost and fuitable to the fex.
. The speech which Adam makes upon the fame occasion,
Stood visible, among these pines his voice
Agreeable and well conceived fićtions have also a good effećt either in profe or verse, and always please readers of taste and judgement. Pliny the younger, in order to engage Cornelius Tacitus to follow his example, and study even when hunting, tells him, that the exercife of the body exalts the mind ; and that if he took his tablets with him, he would find that Minerva delighted as much in the forests and mountains as Diana. A fićtion prettily conceived, and in few words. A kin to this is the image (or fiction of a perfon) which Milton has given us in what he calls his fong of the May morning; which is extremely beautiful, especially that part of it describing May led in by the morning star, and throwing from her green lap the flowers of the feafon. -- *
* * *
Now the bright morning star, day's harbinger,
cially in thoughts which have two meanings ; or when perfon agitated by paffion afferis and contradicts himself
almost in the fame breath, as in the scene of Shakestear o
Romeo and Juliet, where she, to induce her lover to stay, cries,
Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet near day :
But after a moment's reflection, she correćts herfelf, and replies,
That figure which seems to deny what it advances, and in appearance contradićts itself, is, when properly applied, extremely elegant.
Cowards die many times before their deaths ; -
But these thoughts are to be admitted with great caution and judgment ; for the partition here between wit and nonfenfe is so very slender, that many writers have broken through it, and converted what they intended for a beauty into a blot, by presenting their readers not with a feeming contradićtion, but a real one. Nor are we to suppose that a thought cannot be agreeable or beautiful, unless it glitters with ingenious conceits, or a play of words; for in fome cases, beauty may confift in simplicity alone, and be, in its place, like a plain pillar in fome building, the only proper, and therefore the best ornament. Besides, it is impossible for a writer to be upon the fablime and the beautiful from one end of his piece to the other, nor will any fubject admit of it ; fome things must occur that require common thoughts and a common stile ; but if they did not, and it was posible for a poet to keep up to the fame elevated strain, yet would he miss of his aim, and rather difgust than please ; for the mind would be deprived of the refreshment and recreation it takes in paffing from things that are excellent to those that are common, and of the delight which springs from surprise ; neither of which it can obtain, where all things appear with undistinguished
lustre. The poet therefore should imitate nature, who has diverfified the world with vales and mountains, rocks and lawns, trees, fruits, flowers, fmiling fields and dreary deferts, purling streams and horrible cascades ; and, like nature too, he should place them in fuch due opposition, that they may embellish and fet off each other. There is a third species of thoughts, whose agreeableness, beauty, and merit, is owing to their delicacy, and which it is eafier to conceive than describe. A delicate thought is a most excellent produćtion, and as it were the very quinteficence of wit. These thoughts have the property of being comprised in a few words, and the whole meaning is not at first fo obvious, but seems partly concealed, that the mind of the reader might be gratified in the discovery. This little mystery, fays father Boubours, is as it were the foul of delicate thoughts ; and those that have mothing mysterious either in their foundation or turn, but discover themselves at first fight, are not of the delicate kind, however ingenious they may be in other respećts. Cicero, in his oration for Ligarius, tells Caesar, that 'tis usual for him to forget nothing but injuries. Dr. Garth, in his dedication to Mr. Henley, fays, A man of your charaćier can no more prevent a dedication, than he swould encourage one ; for merit, like a virgin's blu/bes, is still most discovered, when it labours most to be concealed. 'Tis hard, to think well of you /hould be but justice, and to tell you /o /bould be an offence : thus, rather than violate your modesty, I must be wanting to your other virtues ; and to gratiff one good quality, do wrong to a thousand. Compliments that are thrown obliquely, and under the disguise of a complaint, are extremely delicate and pleafing.
In Pope I cannot read a line,
* More fenfe than I can do in fix,
It gives me fuch a jealous fit,
Who dares to irony pretend, . -->
Let humble Allen, with an aukward shame,
But befides these delicate thoughts which have an ingenious turn, there are others whose beauty depends folely on the delicacy of fentiment ; as when the poet fays, that the evening dews are the tears of the / y for the loss of the /un.
I have attempted (fays a young gentleman in a letter to his mistress) io pursue your advice, and divert myself by the futject you recommend to my thoughts : but it is impoffible, I perceive, to turn of the mind at once from an objeći, which it has long dwelt upon with pleasure. My heart, like a poor | bird which is hunted from her nest, is still returning to the | place of its affećĩions, and, after fome vain efforts to fly off, Jettles again where all its cares and all its tenderneffes are Centerea, F1T zo s Bo RN’s LETT E Rs.
But of this fort of delicate thoughts, enough may be feen in the passages we have extračted from Milton, who abounds with every kind of beauty.
One true characteristic of delicate thoughts (especially of those first mentioned) is, that they are not capable of being translated out of one language into another, without lofing great part of their true spirit or essential quality. And this is the cafe also with what we call true humour, which is like those delicate flowers that will lose their beauty, if not their being, when transplanted into a foreign climate.
The inimitable charaćter Shakespear has drawn of Fal. faff, might be understood perhaps in any other language, but would fail of the effećt it has in the original ; as would the description Butler has given us of Honour, and many
other parts of his celebrated poem, . * * * * - |