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seen. Hence it is evident that, according to the different habits and education of individuals ; according to the liveliness of their conceptions, and according to the creative power of their imaginations, the fame words will produce very different effects on different minds. When a person who has received his education in the country, reads a description of a rural retirement; the house, the river, the woods, to which he was first accustomed, present themselves spontaneously to his conception, accompanied, perhaps, with the recollection of his early friendihips, and all those pleasing ideas which are commonly associated with the scenes of childhood and of youth. How different is the effect of the de. feription upon his mind, from what it would pro, duce on one who has passed his tender years at a distance from the beauties of nature, and whose infant fports are connected in his memory with the gloomy alleys of a commercial city!

But it is not only in interpreting the particular words of a description, that the powers of Imagination and Conception are employed. They are farther neceffary for filling up the different parts of that picture, of which the most minute describer can only trace the outline. In the best description, there is much left to the reader to supply ; and the effect which it produces on his mind will depend, in a considerable degree, on the invention and tafte with which the picture is finished. It is therefore possible, on the one hand, that the happiest efforts of poetical genius may be perused with perfect indifference by a man of found judgment, and not des. titute of natural sensibility; and on the other hand, that a cold and common place description may be the means of awakening, in a rich and glowing imagination, a degree of enthusiasm unknown to the author.


All the different arts which I have hitherto meritioned as taking their rise from the imagination, have this in common, that their primary object is to please. This observation applies to the art of Poetry, no lefs than to the others; nay, it is this circum. stance which characterises Poetry, and distinguishes it from all the other claffes of literary composition. The object of the Philosopher is to inform and enlighten mankind; that of the Orator, to acquire an ascendant over the will of others, by bending to his own purpofes their judgments, their imaginations, and

their pafsions : but the primary and the diftin. guishing aim of the Poet is to please ; and the princi. pal resource which he poffeffes for this purpose, is by addressing the imagination. Sometimes, indeed, he may seem to encroach on the province of the Philosopher or of the Orator; but, in these instances, he only borrows from them the means by which he accomplishes his end. If he attempts to enlighten and to inform, he addrefses the understanding only as a vehicle of pleasure : if he makes an appeal to the passions, it is only to passions which it is pleafing to indulge. The Philosopher, in like manner, in order to accomplish his end of instruction, may find it expedient, occasionally, to amuse the imagination, or to make an appeal to the passions : the Orator may, at one time, itate to his hearers a process of reasoning; at another, a calm narrative of facts; and, at a third, he may give the reins to poetical fancy. But still the ultimate end of the Philosopher is to instruct, and of the Orator to persuade ; and

whatever means they make use of, which are not subfervient to this purpose, are out of place, and obstruct the effect of their labors.

The measured composition in which the Poet expresses himself, is only one of the means which he employs to please. As the delight which he conveys to the imagination, is heightened by the other

agreeable impressions which he can unite in the mind at the same time ; he studies to bestow, upon the medium of communication which he employs, all the various beauties of which it is susceptible. Among these beauties, the harmony of numbers is not the least powerful; for its effect is constant, and does not interfere with any of the other pleafures which language produces. A succession of agreeable perceptions is kept up by the organical effect of words upon the ear ; while they inform the understanding by their perspicuity and precision, or please the imagination by the pictures they suggest, or touch the heart by the associations they awaken. Of all these charms of language, the Poet may avail himself; and they are all so many instruments of his art. To the Philosopher and the Orator they may occasionally be of use; and to both they must be conftantly fo far an object of attention, that nothing may occur in their compositions, which may distract the thoughts, by offending either the ear or the taste

; but the Poet must not reft satisfied with this negative praise. Pleasure is the end of his art; and the more numerous the fources of it which he can open, the greater will be the effect produced by the efforts of his genius.

The province of the poet is limited only by the variety of human enjoyments. Whatever is in the reality subservient to our happiness, is a source of pleasure, when presented to our conceptions, and may fometimes derive from the heightenings of imagination, a momentary charm, which we exchange with reluctance for the fubftantial gratifications of the senses. The province of the painter, and of the ftatuary, is confined to the imitation of visible objects and to the exhibition of such intellectual and moral qualities, as the human body is fitted to express. In ornamental architecture, and in ornamental gardening, the sole aim of the artist is to give pleasure to

the eye, by the beauty or fublimity of material forms. But to the poet all the glories of external nature ; all that is amiable or interefting, or respectable in human character ; all that excites and engages our benevolent affections : all those truths' which make the heart feel itself better and more happy all these supply materials, out of which he forms and peoples a world of his own, where no inconvenien ces damp our enjoyments, and where no clouds dar. ken our profpects.

That the pleasures of poetry arise chiefly from the agreeable feelings which it conveys to the mind, by awakening the imagination, is a propofition which may seem too obvious to stand in need of proof. As tke ingenious Inquirer, however, into “ The Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful,” has dif. puted the common notions upon this fubject, I shall consider fome of the principal arguments by which he has supported his opinion.

The leading principle of the theory which I am now to examine is, “That the common effect of po

etry is not to raise ideas of things ;" or, as I would rather chuse to express it, its common effect is not to give exercise to the powers of conception and im. agination. That I may not be accused of misrepre. fentation, I fhall state the doctrine at length in the words of the author. “ If words have all their pos“ fible extent of power, three effects arise in the 15 mind of the hearer. The first is the found; the “ second, the picture, or representation of the thing

fignified by the found; the third is, the affection “ of the foul produced by one or by both of the fore.

going. Compounded abstract words, (honor, juf“ tice, liberty, and the like,) produce the first and " the laft of these effects, but not the second. Sim

ple abstracts are used to signify some one fimple “idea, without much adverting to others which

may chance to attend it; as blue, green, hot, cold,

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« and the like : these are capable of effecting all " three of the purpofes of words; as the aggregate “ words, man, castle, horfe, &c. are in a yet higher

degree. But I am of opinion, that the most “ general effect even of these words, does not arife “ from their forming pictures of the feveral things

they would reprefent in the imagination ; be“ cause, on a very diligent examination of my “ own mind, and getting others to contider theirs, 66 I do not find that once in twenty times any “ such picture is formed ; and when it is, there is “ most commonly a particular effort of the imagirac tion for that purpose. But the aggregate words

operate, as I said of the compound abstracts, not " by presenting any image to the mind, but by hav. « ing from use the same effect on being mentioned, " that their original has when it is seen. Suppofe “ we were to treat a paffage to this effect : « The 66 river Danube rises in a moist and mountainous « foil in the heart of Germany, where, winding to « and fro, it waters feveral principalities, until turn“ing into Austria, and leaving the walls of Vienna, « it passes into Hungary; there with a vast flood,

augmented by the Saave and the Drave, it quits “ Christendom, and rolling through the barbarous o countries which border on Tartary, it enters by « many mouths into the Black Sea.” In this descrip« tion many things are mentioned ; as mountains, « rivers, cities, the sea, &c. But let any body exam“ ine himfelf, and see whether he has had imprefsed s on his imagination any pictures of a river, moun. “ tain, watery foil, Germany, &c. Indeed, it is impol“.sible, in the rapidity and quick succession of words " in conversation, to have ideas both of the found of 6. the word, and of the thing represented ; besides, “ fome words expressing real effences, are fô mixed “ with others of a general and nominal import that “ it is impracticable to jump from fenfe to ihought,

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