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« from particulars to generals, from things to words, “ in such a manner as to answer the purposes of life;

nor is it necessary that we should.”

In farther confirmation of this doctrine, Mr. Burke refers to the poetical works of the late amiable and ingenious Dr. Blacklock. “ Here,” says he, “ is a poet, doubtless as much affected by his own descriptions,

as any that reads them can be ; and yet he is affected “ with this strong enthusiasm, by things of which he “ neither has, nor can possibly have, any idea, far66 ther than that of a bare found; and why may not 66 those who read his works be affected in the same

manner that he was, with as little of any real ideas “ of the things described.”

Before I proceed to make any remarks on these passages, I must observe in general, that I perfectly agree with Mr. Burke, in thinking that a very great proportion of the words which we habitually employ, have no effect to “ raise ideas in the mind ;" or to exercise the powers of conception and imagination. My notions on this subject I have already sufficiently explained in treating of Abstraction.

I agree with himn farther, that a great proportion of the words which are used in poetry and eloquence, produce very powerful effects on the mind, by ex. citing emotions which we have been accustomed to associate with particular sounds ; without leading the imagination to form to itself any pictures or representations, and his account of the manner in which such words operate, appears to me fatisfactory. “ Such words are in reality but mere founds ; but " they are founds, which, being used on particular “ occasions, wherein we receive some good, or suf“ fer some evil; or see others affected with good or “ evil ; or which we hear applied to other interest

ing things or events; and being applied in such

a variety of cases, that we know readily by habit « to what things they belong, they produce in the

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« mind, whenever they are afterwards mentioned, " effects similar to those of their occasions. The “ founds being often used without reference to any “ particular occasion, and carrying still their first im

pressions, they at last utterly lose their connection “ with the particular occasions that gave rise to “ them ; yet the found, without any annexed no“tion, continues to operate as before.”

Notwithftanding, however, these concessions, I cannot admit that it is in this way poetry produces its principal effect. Whence is it that general and abstract expressions are so tame and lifeless, in comparison of those which are particular and figurative? Is it not because the former do not give any exercise to the imagination, like the latter? Whence the diftinction, acknowledged by all critics, ancient and modern, between that charm of words which

evaporates in the process of translation, and those permanent beauties, which presenting to the mind the diftinctness of a picture, may impart pleasure to the most remote regions and ages ? Is it not, that in the one case, the Poet addrefles himself to associations which are local and temporary ; in the other, to those essential principles of human nature, from which Poetry and painting derive their common at. tractions ? Hence, among the varions fources of the sublime, the peculiar stress laid by Longinus on what he calls Vitons, (Φαντασίαι)-όταν ά λέγης, υπ’ ενθουσιασμου και πάθους βλέπειν δοκής, και υπ' όψιν τιθής τους ακούουσιν.*

In treating of abstraction I formerly remarked, that the perfection of philofophical style is to approach as nearly as possible to that species of language we employ in algebra, and to exclude every expreffion which has a tendency to divert the attention by

* Dc Sublim. S xv.-Quas partxoias Græci vocant, nos sanè Visiones appellamus ; per quas imagines rerum absentium ita repræsentantur animo, ut eas cernere oculis ac præsentes habere vi. deamur. QUINCT. Inst. Orat. vi. 2.

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exciting the imagination, or to bias the judgment by casual affociations. For this purpose the Philofopher ought to be sparing in the employment of figurative words, and to convey his notions by gen. eral terms which have been accurately defined. To the Orator, on the other hand, when he wishes to prevent the cool exercise of the understanding, it may, on the fame account, be frequently used to delight or to agitate his hearers, by blending with his reasonings the illusions of poetry, or the magical inAuence of sounds consecrated by popular feelings. A regard to the different ends thus aimed at in Philosophical and in Rhetorical composition, renders the ornaments which are so becoming in the one, inconfiftent with good taste and good fenfe, when adopted in the other,

In Poetry, as truth and facts are introduced, not for the purpose of information, but to convey pleasure to the mind, nothing offends more, than those general exprefsions which form the great inftrument of philofophical reasoning. The original pleasures, which it is the aim of poetry to recal to the mind, are all derived from individual objects, and, of consequence, (with a very few exceptions, which it does not belong to my present subjects to enume. rate, the more particular, and the more appropria. ted its language is, the greater will be the charm it poffefses.

With respect to the description of the course of the Danube already quoted, I shall not dispute the result of the experiment to be as the author reprefents it. That words may often be applied to their proper purposes, without our annexing any particular notions to them, I have formerly fewn at great length; and I admit that the meaning of this description may be so understood. But to be understood, is not the fole object of the poet ; his primary object is to please ; and the pleasure which he conveys will,

in general be found to be proportioned to the beauty and liveliness of the images which he suggests. In the case of a poet born blind, the effect of poetry muft depend on other causes; but whatever opinion we may form on this point, it appears to me imposlible, that such a poet should receive, even from his own descriptions, the fame degree of pleasure which they may convey to a reader, who is capable of conceiving the scenes which are described. Indeed this instance which Mr. Burke produces in support of his theory, is sufficient of itself to lhew, that the theory cannot be true in the extent in which it is Itated.

By way of contrast to the description of the Danube, I shall quote a stanza from Gray, which affords a very beautiful example of the two different effects of poetical expression. The pleasure conveyed by the two last lines resolves almost entirely into Mr. Burke's principles ; but, great as this pleasure is, how inconsiderable is it in comparison of that arising from the continued and varied exercise which the preceding lines give to the imagination?

6 In climes beyond the solar road,
« Where shaggy forms o'er ice-built mountains roam,
6. The muse has broke the twilight.gloom,
“ To cheer the shiv'ring natives' dull abode.
66 And oft, beneath the od'rous shade,
• Of Chili's boundless forests laid,
“ She deigns to hear the savage youth repeat,
• In loose numbers wildly sweet,
« Their feather-cinctur'd chiefs, and dusky loves,
“ Her track where'er the goddess roves,
“ Glory pursue, and generous shame,
“ Th' unconquerable mind, and freedom's holy flame.”

I cannot help remarking further, the effect of the folemn and uniform flow of the verse in this exquis. ite stanza, in retarding the pronunciation of the reader; so as to arreft his attention to every succef


five picture, till it has time to produce its proper impression. More of the charm of poetical rythm arises from this circumstance, than is commonly im. agined

To those who wish to study the theory of poetical expression, no author in our language affords a rich: er variety of illustrations than the poet last quoted. His merits, in many other respects, are great ; but his skill in this particular is more peculiarly conspic

How much he had made the principles of this branch of his art an object of study, appears from his letters published by Mr. Mafon.

I have sometimes thought, that, in the last line of the following passage, he had in view the two diferent effects of words already described; the effect of some, in awakening the powers of Conception and Imagination ; and that of others, in exciting affociated emotions :


“ Hark, his hands the lyre explore !
« Briglit-ey'd Fancy hovering o'er,
66 Scatters from her pictur'd urn,

Thoughts, that breathe, and words, that burn.”


Continuation of the fame Subject.Relation of Imagina.

tion and of Taste to Genius.

FROM the remarks made in the foregoing Sections, it is obvious, in what manner a person accus. tomed to analyse and combine his conceptions, may acquire an idea of beauties superior to any which he has seen realised. It may also be easily inferred, that a habit of forming such intellectual combinations, and of remarking their effects on our own minds, must contribute to refine and to exalt the Tafte, to a degree which it never can attain in those men,

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