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Title: Elements of Criticism, Volume III.
Author: Home, Henry
Language: English
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                              VOLUME III.


                    Printed for A. MILLAR, London;
                   A. KINCAID & J. BELL, Edinburgh.






Comparisons, as observed above[1]; serve two different purposes: When
addressed to the understanding, their purpose is to instruct; when to
the heart, their purpose is to give pleasure. With respect to the
latter, a comparison may be employ’d to produce various pleasures by
different means. First, by suggesting some unusual resemblance or
contrast: second, by setting an object in the strongest light: third, by
associating an object with others that are agreeable: fourth, by
elevating an object: and, fifth, by depressing it. And that comparisons
may produce various pleasures by these different means, appears from
what is said in the chapter above cited; and will be made still more
evident by examples, which shall be given after premising some general

An object of one sense cannot be compared to an object of another; for
such objects are totally separated from each other, and have no
circumstance in common to admit either resemblance or contrast. Objects
of hearing may be compared, as also of taste, and of touch. But the
chief fund of comparison are objects of sight; because, in writing or
speaking, things can only be compared in idea, and the ideas of visible
objects are by far more lively than those of any other sense.

It has no good effect to compare things by way of simile that are of the
same kind, nor to contrast things of different kinds. The reason is
given in the chapter cited above; and the reason shall be illustrated by
examples. The first is a resemblance instituted betwixt two objects so
nearly related as to make little or no impression.

    This just rebuke inflam’d the Lycian crew,
    They join, they thicken, and th’ assault renew;
    Unmov’d th’ embody’d Greeks their fury dare,
    And fix’d support the weight of all the war;
    Nor could the Greeks repel the Lycian pow’rs,
    Nor the bold Lycians force the Grecian tow’rs.
    As on the confines of adjoining grounds,
    Two stubborn swains with blows dispute their bounds;
    They tugg, they sweat; but neither gain, nor yield,
    One foot, one inch, of the contended field:
    Thus obstinate to death, they fight, they fall;
    Nor these can keep, nor those can win the wall.
         _Iliad_, xii. 505.

Another from Milton labours under the same defect. Speaking of the
fallen angels searching for mines of gold:

    A numerous brigade hasten’d: as when bands
    Of pioneers with spade and pick-ax arm’d
    Forerun the royal camp to trench a field
    Or cast a rampart.

The next shall be of things contrasted that are of different kinds.

    _Queen._ What, is my Richard both in shape and mind
    Transform’d and weak? Hath Bolingbroke depos’d
    Thine intellect? Hath he been in thy heart?
    The lion, dying, thrusteth forth his paw,
    And wounds the earth, if nothing else, with rage
    To be o’erpower’d: and wilt thou, pupil-like,
    Take thy correction mildly, kiss the rod,
    And fawn on rage with base humility?
         _Richard II. act 5. sc. 1._

This comparison has scarce any force. A man and a lion are of different
species; and there is no such resemblance betwixt them in general, as to
produce any strong effect by contrasting particular attributes or

A third general observation is, That abstract terms can never be the
subject of comparison, otherwise than by being personified. Shakespear
compares adversity to a toad, and slander to the bite of a crocodile;
but in such comparisons these abstract terms must be imagined sensible

       *       *       *       *       *

I now proceed to illustrate by particular instances the different means
by which comparison can afford pleasure; and, in the order above
established, I shall begin with those instances that are agreeable by
suggesting some unusual resemblance or contrast:

    Sweet are the uses of Adversity,
    Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
    Wears yet a precious jewel in her head.
         _As you like it, act 2, sc. 1._

    _Gardiner._ Bolingbroke hath seiz’d the wasteful King.
    What pity is’t that he had not so trimm’d
    And dress’d his land, as we this garden dress,
    And wound the bark, the skin of our fruit-trees;
    Left, being over proud with sap and blood,
    With too much riches it confound itself.
    Had he done so to great and growing men,
    They might have liv’d to bear, and he to taste
    Their fruits of duty. All superfluous branches
    We lop away, that bearing boughs may live:
    Had he done so, himself had borne the crown,
    Which waste and idle hours have quite thrown down.
         _Richard II. act 3. sc. 7._

    See, how the Morning opes her golden gates,
    And takes her farewell of the glorious sun;
    How well resembles it the prime of youth,
    Trim’d like a yonker prancing to his love.
         _Second Part Henry VI. act 2. sc. 1._

    _Brutus_. O Cassius, you are yoked with a lamb,
    That carries anger as the flint bears fire;
    Who, much inforced, shows a hasty spark,
    And straight is cold again.
         _Julius Cæsar, act 4. sc. 3._

    Thus they their doubtful consultations dark
    Ended, rejoicing in their matchless chief:
    As when from mountain-tops the dusky clouds,
    Ascending, while the North-wind sleeps, o’erspread
    Heav’n’s chearful face, the lowring element
    Scowls o’er the darken’d landscape, snow, and shower;
    If chance the radiant sun with farewell sweet
    Extend his ev’ning-beam, the fields revive,
    The birds their notes renew, and bleating herds
    Attest their joy, that hill and valley rings.
         _Paradise Lost, book 2._

The last exertion of courage compared to the blaze of a lamp before
extinguishing, _Tasso Gierusalem_, _canto_ 19. _st._ 22.

    As the bright stars, and milky way,
    Shew’d by the night, are hid by day:
    So we in that accomplish’d mind,
    Help’d by the night, new graces find,
    Which, by the splendor of her view
    Dazzled before, we never knew.

None of the foregoing similes, as it appears to me, have the effect to
add any lustre to the principal subject; and therefore the pleasure they
afford, must arise from suggesting resemblances that are not obvious: I
mean the chief pleasure; for undoubtedly a beautiful subject introduced
to form the simile affords a separate pleasure, which is felt in the
similes mentioned, particularly in that cited from Milton.

The next effect of a comparison in the order mentioned, is to place an
object in a strong point of view; which I think is done sensibly in the
following similes.

    As when two scales are charg’d with doubtful loads,
    From side to side the trembling balance nods,
    (While some laborious matron, just and poor,
    With nice exactness weighs her woolly store),
    Till pois’d aloft, the resting beam suspends
    Each equal weight; nor this nor that descends:
    So stood the war, till Hector’s matchless might,
    With fates prevailing, turn’d the scale of fight.
    Fierce as a whirlwind up the walls he flies,
    And fires his host with loud repeated cries.
         _Iliad, b._ xii. 52

    Ut flos in septis secretis nascitur hortis,
    Ignotus pecori, nullo contusus aratro,
    Quem mulcent auræ, firmat sol, educat imber,
    Multi illum pueri, multæ cupiere puellæ.
    Idem, cum tenui carptus defloruit ungui,
    Nulli illum pueri, nullæ cupiere puellæ.
    Sic virgo, dum intacta manet, dum cara suis; sed
    Cum castum amisit, polluto corpore, florem,
    Nec pueris jucunda manet, nec cara puellis.

The imitation of this beautiful simile by _Ariosto, canto 1. st. 42_.
falls short of the original. It is also in part imitated by Pope[2].

     _Lucetta_. I do not seek to quench your love’s hot fire, But
     qualify the fires extreme rage, Lest it should burn above the
     bounds of reason.

     _Julia_. The more thou damm’st it up, the more it burns: The
     current, that with gentle murmur glides, Thou know’st, being
     stopp’d, impatiently doth rage; But when his fair course is not
     hindered, He makes sweet music with th’ enamel’d stones Giving a
     gentle kiss to every sedge He overtaketh in his pilgrimage. And so
     by many winding nooks he strays With willing sport, to the wild
     ocean. Then let me go, and hinder not my course; I’ll be as patient
     as a gentle stream, And make a pastime of each weary step Till the
     last step have brought me to my love; And there I’ll rest, as,
     after much turmoil, A blessed soul doth in Elysium.

          _Two Gentlemen of Verona, act 2. sc. 10._

   -------- She never told her love,
    But let concealment, like a worm i’ th’ bud,
    Feed on her damask cheek: she pin’d in thought;
    And with a green and yellow melancholy,
    She sat like Patience on a monument,
    Smiling at Grief.
         _Twelfth-Night, act 2. sc. 6._

     _York._ Then, as I said, the Duke, great Bolingbroke, Mounted upon
     a hot and fiery steed, Which his aspiring rider seem’d to know,
     With slow but stately pace, kept on his course: While all tongues
     cry’d, God save thee, Bolingbroke.

     _Duchess._ Alas! poor Richard, where rides he the while?

     _York._ As in a theatre, the eyes of men, After a well-grac’d actor
     leaves the stage, Are idly bent on him that enters next, Thinking
     his prattle to be tedious: Even so, or with much more contempt,
     mens eyes Did scowl on Richard; no man cry’d, God save him! No
     joyful tongue gave him his welcome home; But dust was thrown upon
     his sacred head; Which with such gentle sorrow he shook off, His
     face still combating with tears and smiles, The badges of his
     grief and patience; That had not God, for some strong purpose,
     steel’d The hearts of men, they must perforce have melted; And
     barbarism itself have pitied him.

                           _Richard_ II. _act 5. sc. 3._

    _Northumberland._ How doth my son and brother?
    Thou tremblest, and the whiteness in thy cheek
    Is apter than thy tongue to tell thy errand.
    Even such a man, so faint, so spiritless,
    So dull, so dead in look, so wo-be-gone,
    Drew Priam’s curtain in the dead of night,
    And would have told him, half his Troy was burn’d;
    But Priam found the fire, ere he his tongue:
    And I my Percy’s death, ere thou report’st it.
         _Second Part Henry_ IV. _act 1. sc. 3._

    Why, then I do but dream on sov’reignty,
    Like one that stands upon a promontory,
    And spies a far-off shore where he would tread,
    Wishing his foot were equal with his eye,
    And chides the sea that sunders him from thence,
    Saying, he’ll lave it dry to have his way:
    So do I wish, the crown being so far off,
    And so I chide the means that keep me from it,
    And so (I say) I’ll cut the causes off,
    Flatt’ring my mind with things impossible.
         _Third Part Henry_ VI. _act 3. sc. 3._

         ---- Out, out, brief candle!
    Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
    And then is heard no more.
         _Macbeth, act 5. sc. 5._

    O thou Goddess,
    Thou divine Nature! how thyself thou blazon’st
    In these two princely boys! they are as gentle
    As zephyrs blowing below the violet,
    Not wagging his sweet head; and yet as rough,
    (Their royal blood inchas’d) as the rud’st wind,
    That by the top doth take the mountain-pine,
    And make him stoop to th’ vale.
         _Cymbeline, act 4. sc. 4._

The sight obtained of the city of Jerusalem by the Christian army,
compared to that of land discovered after a long voyage, Tasso’s
_Gierusalem, canto 3. st. 4._ The fury of Rinaldo subsiding when not
opposed, to that of wind or water when it has a free passage, _canto 20.
st. 58._

As words convey but a faint and obscure notion of great numbers, a poet,
to give a high notion of the object he describes with regard to number,
does well to compare it to what is familiar and commonly known. Thus
Homer[3] compares the Grecian army in point of number to a swarm of
bees. In another passage[4] he compares it to that profusion of leaves
and flowers which appear in the spring, or of insects in a summer’s
evening. And Milton,

           ---- As when the potent rod
    Of Amram’s son in Egypt’s evil day
    Wav’d round the coast, up call’d a pitchy cloud
    Of locusts, warping on the eastern wind,
    That o’er the realm of impious Pharaoh hung
    Like night, and darken’d all the land of Nile:
    So numberless were those bad angels seen,
    Hovering on wing under the cope of hell,
    ’Twixt upper, nether, and surrounding fires.
         _Paradise Lost, book 1._

Such comparisons have, by some writers[5], been condemned for the
lowness of the images introduced: but surely without reason; for, with
regard to numbers, they put the principal subject in a strong light.

       *       *       *       *       *

The foregoing comparisons operate by resemblance; others have the same
effect by contrast:

    _York._ I am the last of Noble Edward’s sons,
    Of whom thy father, Prince of Wales, was first:
    In war, was never lion rag’d more fierce;
    In peace, was never gentle lamb more mild;
    Than was that young and princely gentleman.
    His face thou hast; for even so look’d he,
    Accomplish’d with the number of thy hours.
    But when he frown’d, it was against the French,
    And not against his friends. His noble hand
    Did win what he did spend; and spent not that
    Which his triumphant father’s hand had won.
    His hands were guilty of no kindred’s blood,
    But bloody with the enemies of his kin.
    Oh, Richard! York is too far gone with grief,
    Or else he never would compare between.
         _Richard_ II. _act 2. sc. 3._

Milton has a peculiar talent in embellishing the principal subject by
associating it with others that are agreeable, which is the third end
of a comparison. Similes of this kind have, beside, a separate effect:
they diversify the narration by new images that are not strictly
necessary to the comparison: they are short episodes, which, without
distracting us from the principal subject, afford great delight by their
beauty and variety:

    He scarce had ceas’d, when the superior fiend
    Was moving toward the shore; his pond’rous shield,
    Ethereal temper, massy, large, and round,
    Behind him cast; the broad circumference
    Hung on his shoulders like the moon, whose orb
    Through optic glass the Tuscan artist views
    At ev’ning from the top of Fesole,
    Or in Valdarno, to descry new lands,
    Rivers, or mountains, in her spotty globe.
         _Milton, b. 1._

         ---- Thus far these, beyond
    Compare of mortal prowess, yet observ’d
    Their dread commander. He, above the rest
    In shape and gesture proudly eminent,
    Stood like a tow’r; his form had yet not lost
    All her original brightness, nor appear’d
    Less than arch-angel ruin’d, and th’ excess
    Of glory obscur’d: as when the sun new-risen
    Looks through the horizontal misty air
    Shorn of his beams; or from behind the moon
    In dim eclipse, disastrous twilight sheds
    On half the nations, and with fear of change
    Perplexes monarchs.
         _Milton, b. 1._

    As when a vulture on Imaus bred,
    Whose snowy ridge the roving Tartar bounds,
    Dislodging from a region scarce of prey
    To gorge the flesh of lambs, or yeanling kids,
    On hills where flocks are fed, flies toward the springs
    Of Ganges or Hydaspes, Indian streams,
    But in his way lights on the barren plains
    Of Sericana, where Chineses drive
    With sails and wind their cany waggons light:
    So on this windy sea of land, the fiend
    Walk’d up and down alone, bent on his prey.
         _Milton, b. 3._

           ---- Yet higher than their tops
    The verdurous wall of Paradise up sprung:
    Which to our general sire gave prospect large
    Into this nether empire neighbouring round.
    And higher than that wall, a circling row
    Of goodliest trees loaden with fairest fruit,
    Blossoms and fruits at once of golden hue,
    Appear’d, with gay enamel’d colours mix’d,
    On which the sun more glad impress’d his beams
    Than in fair evening cloud, or humid bow,
    When God hath show’r’d the earth; so lovely seem’d
    That landscape: and of pure now purer air
    Meets his approach, and to the heart inspires
    Vernal delight and joy, able to drive
    All sadness but despair: now gentle gales
    Fanning their odoriferous wings dispense
    Native perfumes, and whisper whence they stole
    Those balmy spoils. As when to them who sail
    Beyond the Cape of Hope, and now are past
    Mozambic, off at sea North-east winds blow
    Sabean odour from the spicy shore
    Of Arabie the Blest; with such delay
    Well pleas’d they slack their course, and many a league,
    Chear’d with the grateful smell, old Ocean smiles.
         _Milton, b. 4._

With regard to similes of this kind, it will readily occur to the
reader, that when the resembling subject or circumstance is once
properly introduced in a simile, the mind passes easily to the new
objects, and is transitorily amused with them, without feeling any
disgust at the slight interruption. Thus, in fine weather, the momentary
excursions of a traveller for agreeable prospects or sumptuous
buildings, chear his mind, relieve him from the langour of uniformity,
and without much lengthening his journey in reality, shorten it greatly
in appearance.

       *       *       *       *       *

Next of comparisons that aggrandize or elevate. These make stronger
impressions than any other sort; the reason of which may be gathered
from the chapter of grandeur and sublimity, and, without reasoning, will
be evident from the following instances.

    As when a flame the winding valley fills,
    And runs on crackling shrubs between the hills,
    Then o’er the stubble up the mountain flies,
    Fires the high woods, and blazes to the skies,
    This way and that, the spreading torrent roars;
    So sweeps the hero through the wasted shores.
    Around him wide, immense destruction pours,
    And earth is delug’d with the sanguine show’rs.
         _Iliad_ xx. 569.

    Through blood, through death, Achilles still proceeds,
    O’er slaughter’d heroes, and o’er rolling steeds.
    As when avenging flames with fury driv’n
    On guilty towns exert the wrath of Heav’n,
    The pale inhabitants, some fall, some fly,
    And the red vapours purple all the sky.
    So rag’d Achilles: Death, and dire dismay,
    And toils, and terrors, fill’d the dreadful day.
         _Iliad_ xxi. 605.

    Methinks, King Richard and myself should meet
    With no less terror than the elements
    Of fire and water, when their thund’ring shock,
    At meeting tears the cloudy cheeks of heaven.
         _Richard_ II. _act. 3. sc. 5_.

I beg peculiar attention to the following simile, for a reason that
shall be mentioned.

    Thus breathing death, in terrible array,
    The close-compacted legions urg’d their way:
    Fierce they drove on, impatient to destroy;
    Troy charg’d the first, and Hector first of Troy.
    As from some mountain’s craggy forehead torn,
    A rock’s round fragment flies with fury born,
    (Which from the stubborn stone a torrent rends)
    Precipitate the pond’rous mass descends:
    From steep to steep the rolling ruin bounds:
    At every shock the crackling wood resounds;
    Still gath’ring force, it smoaks; and urg’d amain,
    Whirls, leaps, and thunders down, impetuous to the plain:
    There stops--So Hector. Their whole force he prov’d,
    Resistless when he rag’d; and when he stopt, unmov’d.
         _Iliad_ xiii. 187.

The image of a falling rock is certainly not elevating[6]. Yet
undoubtedly the foregoing image fires and swells the mind. It is grand
therefore, if not sublime. And that there is a real, though delicate
distinction, betwixt these two feelings, will be illustrated from the
following simile.

    So saying, a noble stroke he lifted high,
    Which hung not, but so swift with tempest fell
    On the proud crest of Satan, that no sight,
    Nor motion of swift thought, less could his shield
    Such ruin intercept. Ten paces huge
    He back recoil’d; the tenth on bended knee
    His massy spear upstaid; as if on earth
    Winds under ground or waters forcing way
    Sidelong had push’d a mountain from his seat
    Half sunk with all pines.
         _Milton, b. 6._

A comparison by contrast may contribute to grandeur or elevation, not
less than by resemblance; of which the following comparison of Lucan is
a remarkable instance.

    Victrix causa diis placuit, sed victa Catoni.

Considering that the Heathen deities possessed a rank but one degree
above that of mankind, I think it scarce possible, by a single
expression, to elevate or dignify more one of the human species, than is
done by this comparison. I am sensible, at the same time, that such a
comparison among Christians, who entertain juster notions of the Deity,
would justly be reckoned extravagant and absurd.

       *       *       *       *       *

The last article mentioned, is that of lessening or depressing a hated
or disagreeable object; which is effectually done by resembling it to
any thing that is low or despicable. Thus Milton, in his description of
the rout of the rebel-angels, happily expresses their terror and dismay
in the following simile.

                               ---- As a herd
    Of goats or timorous flock together throng’d
    Drove them before him thunder-struck, pursu’d
    With terrors and with furies to the bounds
    And crystal wall of heav’n, which op’ning wide,
    Rowl’d inward, and a spacious gap disclos’d
    Into the wasteful deep; the monstrous sight
    Strook them with horror backward, but far worse
    Urg’d them behind; headlong themselves they threw
    Down from the verge of heav’n.
         _Milton, b. 6._

In the same view, Homer, I think, may be defended, in comparing the
shouts of the Trojans in battle, to the noise of cranes[7], and to the
bleating of a flock of sheep[8]: and it is no objection, that these are
low images; for by opposing the noisy march of the Trojans to the silent
and manly march of the Greeks, he certainly intended to lessen the
former. Addison[9], imagining the figure that men make in the sight of a
superior being, takes opportunity to mortify their pride by comparing
them to a swarm of pismires.

A comparison that has none of the good effects mentioned in this
discourse, but is built upon common and trifling circumstances, makes a
mighty silly figure: “Non sum nescius, grandia consilia a multis
plerumque causis, ceu magna navigia a plurimis remis, impelli[10].”

By this time I imagine the different purposes of comparison, and the
various impressions it makes on the mind, are sufficiently illustrated
by proper examples. This was an easy work. It is more difficult to lay
down rules about the propriety or impropriety of comparisons; in what
circumstances they may be introduced, and in what circumstances they are
out of place. It is evident, that a comparison is not proper upon every
occasion; a man in his cool and sedate moments, is not disposed to
poetical flights, nor to sacrifice truth and reality to the delusive
operations of the imagination; far less is he so disposed, when
oppressed with cares, or interested in some important transaction that
occupies him totally. The region of comparison and of all figurative
expression, lies betwixt these two extremes. It is observable, that a
man, when elevated or animated by any passion, is disposed to elevate or
animate all his objects: he avoids familiar names, exalts objects by
circumlocution and metaphor, and gives even life and voluntary action to
inanimate beings. In this warmth of mind, the highest poetical flights
are indulged, and the boldest similes and metaphors relished[11]. But
without soaring so high, the mind is frequently in a tone to relish
chaste and moderate ornament; such as comparisons that set the principal
object in a strong point of view, or that embellish and diversify the
narration. In general, when by any animating passion, whether pleasant
or painful, an impulse is given to the imagination; we are in that
condition wonderfully disposed to every sort of figurative expression,
and in particular to comparisons. This in a great measure is evident
from the comparisons already mentioned; and shall be further illustrated
by other examples. Love, for example, in its infancy, rousing the
imagination, prompts the heart to display itself in figurative language,
and in similes:

    _Troilus._ Tell me, Apollo, for thy Daphne’s love,
    What Cressid is, what Pandar, and what we?
    Her bed is India, there she lies, a pearl:
    Between our Ilium, and where she resides,
    Let it be call’d the wild and wandering flood;
    Ourself the merchant, and this sailing Pandar
    Our doubtful hope, our convoy, and our bark.
         _Troilus and Cressida, act 1. sc. 1._


    Come, gentle Night; come, loving black-brow’d Night!
    Give me my Romeo; and, when he shall die,
    Take him, and cut him out in little stars,
    And he will make the face of heav’n so fine,
    That all the world shall be in love with Night
    And pay no worship to the garish sun.
         _Romeo and Juliet, act 3. sc. 4._

The dread of a misfortune, however imminent, involving always some doubt
and uncertainty, agitates the mind, and excites the imagination:

    _Wolsey._---- Nay, then, farewell;
    I’ve touch’d the highest point of all my greatness;
    And from that full meridian of my glory
    I haste now to my setting. I shall fall,
    Like a bright exhalation in the evening,
    And no man see me more.
         _Henry VIII. act 3. sc. 4._

But it will be a better illustration of the present head, to give
examples where comparisons are improperly introduced. I have had already
occasion to observe, that similes are not the language of a man in his
ordinary state of mind, going about the common affairs of life. For that
reason, the following speech of a gardiner to his servants, is extremely

    Go bind thou up yon dangling apricocks
    Which, like unruly children, make their sire
    Stoop with oppression of their prodigal weight:
    Give some supportance to the bending twigs.
    Go thou, and like an executioner,
    Cut off the heads of too-fast-growing sprays,
    That look too lofty in our commonwealth:
    All must be even in our government.
         _Richard II. act 3. sc. 7._

The fertility of Shakespear’s vein betrays him frequently into this
error. There is the same impropriety in another simile of his:

    _Hero._ Good Margaret, run thee into the parlour;
    There shalt thou find my cousin Beatrice;
    Whisper her ear, and tell her, I and Ursula
    Walk in the orchard, and our whole discourse
    Is all of her; say, that thou overheard’st us:
    And bid her steal into the pleached bower,
    Where honeysuckles, ripen’d by the sun,
    Forbid the sun to enter; like to favourites,
    Made proud by princes, that advance their pride
    Against that power that bred it.
         _Much ado about nothing, act 3. sc. 1._

Rooted grief, deep anguish, terror, remorse, despair, and all the severe
dispiriting passions, are declared enemies, perhaps not to figurative
language in general, but undoubtedly to the pomp and solemnity of
comparison. Upon this account the simile pronounced by young Rutland
under terror of death from an inveterate enemy, and praying mercy, is

    So looks the pent-up lion o’er the wretch
    That trembles under his devouring paws;
    And so he walks insulting o’er his prey,
    And so he comes to rend his limbs asunder.
    Ah, gentle Clifford, kill me with thy sword,
    And not with such a cruel threat’ning look.
         _Third part Henry VI. act 1. sc. 5._

Nothing appears more out of place, or more aukwardly introduced, than
the following simile.

    _Lucia._--------Farewell, my Portius,
    Farewell, though death is in the word, _for-ever_!

    _Portius._ Stay, Lucia, stay; what dost thou say, _for-ever_?

    _Lucia._ Have I not sworn? If, Portius, thy success
    Must throw thy brother on his fate, farewell:
    Oh, how shall I repeat the word _for-ever_!

    _Portius._ Thus, o’er the dying lamp th’ unsteady flame
    Hangs quivering on a point, leaps off by fits,
    And falls again, as loath to quit its hold.
   ---- Thou must not go, my soul still hovers o’er thee,
    And can’t get loose.
         _Cato, act 3. sc. 2._

Nor doth the simile which closes the first act of the same tragedy, make
its appearance with a much better grace; the situation there
represented, being too dispiriting for a simile. A simile is improper
for one who dreads the discovery of a secret machination.

    _Zara._ The mute not yet return’d! Ha! $1’the King,
    The King that parted hence! frowning he went;
    His eyes like meteors roll’d, then darted down
    Their red and angry beams; as if his sight
    Would, like the raging Dog-star, scorch the earth,
    And kindle ruin in its course.
         _Mourning Bride, act 5. sc. 3._

A man spent and dispirited after losing a battle, is not disposed to
heighten or illustrate his discourse by similes:

    _York._ With this we charg’d again; but out! alas,
    We bodg’d again; as I have seen a swan
    With bootless labour swim against the tide,
    And spend her strength with over-matching waves.
    Ah! hark, the fatal followers do pursue.
    And I am faint and cannot fly their fury.
    The sands are number’d that make up my life;
    Here must I stay, and here my life must end.
         _Third part Henry VI. act 1. sc. 6._

Far less is a man disposed to similes who is not only defeated in a
pitch’d battle, but lies at the point of death mortally wounded.

    _Warwick._-------- My mangled body shews,
    My blood, my want of strength, my sick heart shews,
    That I must yield my body to the earth,
    And, by my fall, the conquest to my foe.
    Thus yields the cedar to the ax’s edge,
    Whose arms gave shelter to the princely eagle;
    Under whose shade the ramping lion slept,
    Whose top-branch overpeer’d Jove’s spreading tree,
    And kept low shrubs from winter’s pow’rful wind.
         _Third part Henry VI. act 5. sc. 3._

Queen Katharine, deserted by the King and in the deepest affliction upon
her divorce, could not be disposed to any sallies of imagination: and
for that reason, the following simile, however beautiful in the mouth
of a spectator, is scarce proper in her own.

    I am the most unhappy woman living,
    Shipwreck’d upon a kingdom, where no pity,
    No friends, no hope! no kindred weep for me!
    Almost no grave allowed me! like the lily,
    That once was mistress of the field, and flourish’d,
    I’ll hang my head and perish.
         _King Henry VIII. act 3. sc. 1._

Similes thus unseasonably introduced, are finely ridiculed in the

     _Bayes._ Now here she must make a simile.

     _Smith._ Where’s the necessity of that, Mr Bayes?

     _Bayes._ Because she’s surpris’d; that’s a general rule; you must
     ever make a simile when you are surprised; ’tis a new way of

A comparison is not always faultless, even where it is properly
introduced. I have endeavoured above to give a general view of the
different ends to which a comparison may contribute. A comparison, like
other human productions, may fall short of its end; and of this defect
instances are not rare even among good writers. To complete the present
subject, it will be necessary to make some observations upon such faulty
comparisons. I begin with observing, that nothing can be more erroneous
than to institute a comparison too faint: a distant resemblance or
contrast, fatigues the mind with its obscurity instead of amusing it,
and tends not to fulfil any one end of a comparison. The following
similes seem to labour under this defect:

    Albus ut obscuro deterget nubila cœlo
    Sæpe Notus, neque parturit imbres
    Perpetuos: sic tu sapiens finire memento
    Tristitiam vitæque labores
    Molli, Plance, mero.
         _Horace, Carm. l. 1. ode 7._

   ------ Medio dux agmine Turnus
    Vertitur arma tenens, et toto vertice supra est,
    Ceu septem surgens sedatis amnibus altus
    Per tacitum Ganges: aut pingui flumine Nilus
    Cum refluit campis, et jam se condidit alveo.
         _Æneid ix. 28._

    Talibus orabat, talesque miserrima fletus
    Fertque refertque soror; sed nullus ille movetur
    Fletibus, aut voces ullas tractabilis audit.
    Fata obstant: placidasque viri Deus obstruit aures.
    Ac veluti annoso validam cum robore quercum
    Alpini Boreæ, nunc hinc, nunc flatibus illinc
    Eruere inter se certant; it stridor; et alte
    Consternunt terram concusso stipite frondes:
    Ipsa hæret scopulis: et quantum vertice ad auras
    Æthereas, tantum radice in tartara tendit.
    Haud secus assiduis hinc atque hinc vocibus heros
    Tunditur, et magno persentit pectore curas:
    Mens immota manet, lacrymæ volvuntur inanes.
         _Æneid iv. 437._

    _K. Rich._ Give me the crown.--Here, cousin, seize the crown,
    Here, on this side, my hand; on that side, thine.
    Now is this golden crown like a deep well,
    That owes two buckets, filling one another;
    The emptier ever dancing in the air,
    The other down, unseen and full of water;
    That bucket down, and full of tears, am I;
    Drinking my griefs, whilst you mount up on high.
         _Richard II. act 4. sc. 3._

    _King John._ Oh! Cousin, thou art come to set mine eye;
    The tackle of my heart is crack’d and burnt;
    And all the shrowds wherewith my life should sail,
    Are turned to one thread, one little hair:
    My heart hath one poor string to stay it by,
    Which holds but till thy news be uttered.
         _King John, act 5. sc. 10._

    _York._ My uncles both are slain in rescuing me:
    And all my followers, to the eager foe
    Turn back, and fly like ships before the wind,
    Or lambs pursu’d by hunger-starved wolves.
         _Third Part Henry_ VI. _act 1. sc. 6_.

The latter of the two similes is good. The former, because of the
faintness of the resemblance, produces no good effect, and crowds the
narration with an useless image.

The next error I shall mention is a capital one. In an epic poem, or in
any elevated subject, a writer ought to avoid raising a simile upon a
low image, which never fails to bring down the principal subject. In
general, it is a rule, that a grand object ought never to be resembled
to one that is diminutive, however delicate the resemblance may be. It
is the peculiar character of a grand object to fix the attention, and
swell the mind: in this state, it is disagreeable to contract the mind
to a minute object, however elegant. The resembling an object to one
that is greater, has, on the contrary, a good effect, by raising or
swelling the mind. One passes with satisfaction from a small to a great
object; but cannot be drawn down, without reluctance, from great to
small. Hence the following similes are faulty.

    Meanwhile the troops beneath Patroculus’ care,
    Invade the Trojans, and commence the war.
    As wasps, provok’d by children in their play,
    Pour from their mansions by the broad high-way,
    In swarms the guiltless traveller engage,
    Whet all their stings, and call forth all their rage;
    All rise in arms, and with a general cry
    Assert their waxen domes, and buzzing progeny:
    Thus from the tents the fervent legion swarms,
    So loud their clamours, and so keen their arms.
         _Iliad_ xvi. 312.

    So burns the vengeful hornet (soul all o’er)
    Repuls’d in vain, and thirsty still of gore;
    (Bold son of air and heat) on angry wings
    Untam’d, untir’d, he turns, attacks and stings.
    Fir’d with like ardour fierce Atrides flew,
    And sent his soul with ev’ry lance he threw.
         _Iliad_ xvii. 642.

    Instant ardentes Tyrii: pars ducere muros,
    Molirique arcem, er manibus subvolvere saxa;
    Pars aptare locum tecto, et concludere sulco.
    Jura magistratusque legunt, sanctumque senatum.
    Hic portus alii effodiunt: hic alta theatris
    Fundamenta locant alii, immanesque columnas
    Rupibus excidunt, scenis decora alta futuris.
    Quails apes æstate nova per florea rura
    Exercet sub sole labor, cum gentis adultos
    Educunt fœtus, aut cum liquentia mella
    Stipant, et dulci distendunt nectare cellas,
    Aut onera accipiunt venientum, aut agmine facto
    Ignavum fucos pecus a præsepibus arcent.
    Fervet opus, redolentque thymo fragrantia mella.
         _Æneid_ i. 427.

To describe bees gathering honey as resembling the builders of Carthage,
would have a much better effect.

    Tum vero Teucri incumbunt, et littore celsas
    Deducunt toto naves: natat uncta carina;
    Frondentesque ferunt remos, et robora sylvis
    Infabricata, fugæ studio.
    Migrantes cernas, totaque ex urbe ruentes.
    Ac veluti ingentem formicæ farris acervum
    Cum populant, hyemis memores, tectoque reponunt:
    It nigrum campis agmen, prædamque per herbas
    Convectant calle angusto: pars grandia trudunt
    Obnixæ frumenta humeris: pars agmina cogunt,
    Castigantque moras: opere omnis semita fervet.
         _Æneid._ iv. 397.

The following simile has not any one beauty to recommend it. The subject
is Amata the wife of King Latinus.

    Tum vero infelix, ingentibus excita monstris,
    Immensam sine more furit lymphata per urbem:
    Ceu quondam torto volitans sub verbere turbo,
    Quem pueri magno in gyro vacua atria circum
    Intenti ludo exercent. Ille actus habena
    Curvatis fertur spatiis: stupet inscia turba,
    Impubesque manus, mirata volubile buxum:
    Dant animos plagæ. Non cursu segnior illo
    Per medias urbes agitur, populosque feroces.
         _Æneid._ vii. 376.

This simile seems to border upon the burlesque.

An error opposite to the former, is the introducing a resembling image,
so elevated or great as to bear no proportion to the principal subject.
The remarkable disparity betwixt them, being the most striking
circumstance, seizes the mind, and never fails to depress the principal
subject by contrast, instead of raising it by resemblance: and if the
disparity be exceeding great, the simile takes on an air of burlesque;
nothing being more ridiculous than to force an object out of its proper
rank in nature, by equalling it with one greatly superior or greatly
inferior. This will be evident from the following comparisons.

    Fervet opus, redolentque thymo fragrantia mella.
    Ac veluti lentis Cyclopes fulmina massis
    Cum properant: alii taurinis follibus auras
    Accipiunt, redduntque: alii stridentia tingunt
    Æra lacu: gemit impositis incudibus Ætna:
    Illi inter sese magna vi brachia tollunt
    In numerum; versantque tenaci forcipe ferrum.
    Non aliter (si parva licet componere magnis)
    Cecropias innatus apes amor urget habendi,
    Munere quamque suo. Grandævis oppida curæ,
    Et munire favos, et Dædala fingere tecta.
    At fessæ multâ referunt se necte minores,
    Crura thymo plenæ: pascuntur et arbuta passim,
    Et glaucas salices, casiamque crocumque rubentem,
    Et pinguem tiliam, et ferrugineos hyacinthos.
    Omnibus una quies operum, labor omnibus unus.
         _Georgic._ iv. 169.

    Tum Bitian ardentem oculis animisque frementem;
    Non jaculo, neque enim jaculo vitam ille dedisset;
    Sed magnum stridens contorta falarica venit
    Fulminis acta modo, quam nec duo taurea terga,
    Nec duplici squama lorica fidelis et auro
    Sustinuit: collapsa ruunt immania membra:
    Dat tellus gemitum, et clypeum super intonat ingens.
    Qualis in Euboico Baiarum littore quondam
    Saxea pila cadit, magnis quam molibus ante
    Constructam jaciunt ponto: sic illa ruinam
    Prona trahit, penitusque vadis illisa recumbit:
    Miscent se maria, et nigræ attolluntur arenæ:
    Tum sonitu Prochyta alta tremit, durumque cubile
    Inarime Jovis imperiis imposta Typhoëo.
         _Æneid._ ix. 703.

    Loud as a bull makes hill and valley ring,
    So roar’d the lock when it releas’d the spring.
         _Odyssey_ xxi. 51.

Such a simile upon the simplest of all actions, that of opening a lock,
is pure burlesque.

A writer of delicacy will avoid drawing his comparisons from any image
that is nauseous, ugly, or remarkably disagreeable: for however strong
the resemblance may be, more will be lost than gained by such
comparison. Therefore I cannot help condemning, though with some
reluctance, the following simile, or rather metaphor.

    O thou fond many! with what loud applause
    Did’st thou beat heav’n with blessing Bolingbroke
    Before he was what thou wou’dst have him be?
    And now being trimm’d up in thine own desires,
    Thou, beastly feeder, art so full of him,
    That thou provok’st thyself to cast him up.
    And so, thou common dog, didst thou disgorge
    Thy glutton bosom of the royal Richard,
    And now thou wou’dst eat thy dead vomit up,
    And howl’st to find it.
         _Second Part Henry IV. act 1. sc. 6._

The strongest objection that can lie against a comparison, is, that it
consists in words only, not in sense. Such false coin, or bastard wit,
does extremely well in burlesque; but is far below the dignity of the
epic, or of any serious composition:

    The noble sister of Poplicola,
    The moon of Rome; chaste as the isicle
    That’s curdled by the frost from purest snow,
    And hangs on Dian’s temple.
         _Coriolanus, act 5. sc. 3._

There is evidently no resemblance betwixt an isicle and a woman, chaste
or unchaste. But chastity is cold in a metaphorical sense, and an isicle
is cold in a proper sense; and this verbal resemblance, in the hurry and
glow of composing, has been thought a sufficient foundation for the
simile. Such phantom similes are mere witticisms, which ought to have no
quarter, except where purposely introduced to provoke laughter. Lucian,
in his dissertation upon history, talking of a certain author, makes the
following comparison, which is verbal merely.

     This author’s descriptions are so cold, that they surpass the
     Caspian snow, and all the ice of the north.

Virgil has not escaped this puerility:

   ---- Galathæa thymo mihi dulcior Hyblæ.
         _Bucol._ vii. 37.

   ---- Ego Sardois videar tibi amarior herbis.
         _Ibid._ 41.

    Gallo, cujus amor tantum mihi crescit in horas,
    Quantum vere novo viridis se subjicit alnus.
         _Buccol._ x. 73.

Nor Tasso, in his Aminta:

    Picciola e’ l’ape, e fa col picciol morso
    Pur gravi, e pur moleste le ferite;
    Ma, qual cosa é più picciola d’amore,
    Se in ogni breve spatio entra, e s’asconde
    In ogni breve spatio? hor, sotto a l’ombra
    De le palpebre, hor trà minuti rivi
    D’un biondo crine, hor dentro le pozzette,
    Che forma un dolce riso in bella guancia;
    E pur fá tanto grandi, e si mortali,
    E cosi immedicabili le piaghe.
         _Act 2. sc. 1._

Nor Boileau, the chastest of all writers; and that even in his art of

    Ainsi tel autrefois, qu’on vit avec Faret
    Charbonner de ses vers les murs d’un cabaret,
    S’en va mal a’ propos, d’une voix insolente,
    Chanter du peuple He’breu la suite triomphante,
    Et poursuivant Moise au travers des déserts,
    Court avec Pharaon se noyer dans les mers.
         _Chant. 1. l. 21._

   ---- But for their spirits and souls
    This word _rebellion_ had froze them up
    As fish are in a pond.
         _Second Part Henry IV. act 1. sc. 3._

    _Queen_. The pretty vaulting sea refus’d to drown me;
    Knowing, that thou wou’dst have me drown’d on shore
    With tears as salt as sea, through thy unkindness.
         _Second Part Henry VI. act 3. sc. 6._

Here there is no manner of resemblance but in the word _drown_; for
there is no real resemblance betwixt being drown’d at sea, and dying of
grief at land. But perhaps this sort of tinsel wit, may have a propriety
in it, when used to express an affected, not a real, passion, which was
the Queen’s case.

Pope has several similes of the same stamp. I shall transcribe one or
two from the _Essay on Man_, the gravest and most instructive of all his

    And hence one master-passion in the breast,
    Like Aaron’s serpent, swallows up the rest.
         _Epist. 2. l. 131._

And again, talking of this same ruling or master passion.

    Nature its mother, Habit is its nurse;
    Wit, spirit, faculties, but make it worse;
    Reason itself but gives it edge and pow’r;
    As heav’n’s blest beam turns vinegar more sowr.
         _Ibid. l. 145._

Lord Bolingbroke, speaking of historians:

     Where their sincerity as to fact is doubtful, we strike out truth
     by the confrontation of different accounts; as we strike out sparks
     of fire by the collision of flints and steel.

Let us vary the phrase a very little, and there will not remain a shadow
of resemblance. Thus, for example:

     We discover truth by the confrontation of different accounts; as
     we strike out sparks of fire by the collision of flints and steel.

Racine makes Pyrrhus say to Andromaque,

    Vaincu, chargé de fers, de regrets consumé,
    Brulé de plus de feux que je n’en allumai,
    Helas! fus-je jamais si cruel que vous l’etés?

And Orestes, in the same strain:

    Que les Scythes sont moins cruels qu’ Hermione.

Similes of this kind put one in mind of a ludicrous French song:

      Je croyois Janneton
      Aussi douce que belle:
      Je croyois Janneton
      Plus douce qu’un mouton;
        Helas! helas!
    Elle est cent fois, mille fois, plus cruelle
    Que n’est le tigre aux bois.


    Helas! l’amour m’a pris,
    Comme le chat fait la souris.

A vulgar Irish ballad begins thus:

    I have as much love in store
    As there’s apples in Portmore.

Where the subject is burlesque or ludicrous, such similes are far from
being improper. Horace says pleasantly,

    Quanquam tu levior cortice.
         _L. 3. ode 9._

And Shakespear,

    In breaking oaths he’s stronger than Hercules.

And this leads me to observe, that beside the foregoing comparisons,
which are all serious, there is a species, the end and purpose of which
is to excite gaiety or mirth. Take the following examples.

Falstaff, speaking to his page:

     I do here walk before thee, like a sow that hath overwhelmed all
     her litter but one.

                 _Second Part Henry IV. act 1. sc. 4._

     I think he is not a pick-purse, nor a horse-stealer; but for his
     verity in love, I do think him as concave as a cover’d goblet, or
     a worm-eaten nut.

              _As you like it, act 3. sc. 10._

    This sword a dagger had his page,
    That was but little for his age;
    And therefore waited on him so
    As dwarfs upon knights-errant do.
         _Hudibras, canto 1._

Desciption of Hudibras’s horse:

    He was well stay’d, and in his gait
    Preserv’d a grave, majestic state.
    At spur or switch no more he skipt,
    Or mended pace, than Spaniard whipt:
    And yet so fiery he would bound,
    As if he griev’d to touch the ground:
    That Cæsar’s horse, who, as fame goes,
    Had corns upon his feet and toes,
    Was not by half so tender hooft,
    Nor trod upon the ground so soft.
    And as that beast would kneel and stoop,
    (Some write) to take his rider up;
    So Hudibras his (’tis well known)
    Would often do, to set him down.
         _Canto 1._

    Honour is, like a widow, won
    With brisk attempt and putting on,
    With entering manfully, and urging;
    Not slow approaches, like a virgin.
         _Canto 1._

    The sun had long since in the lap
    Of Thetis taken out his nap;
    And, like a lobster boil’d, the morn
    From black to red began to turn.
         _Part 2. canto 2._

     Books, like men, their authors, have but one way of coming into the
     world; but there are ten thousand to go out of it, and return no

              _Tale of a Tub._

     And in this the world may perceive the difference between the
     integrity of a generous author, and that of a common friend. The
     latter is observed to adhere close in prosperity, but on the
     decline of fortune, to drop suddenly off: whereas the generous
     author, just on the contrary, finds his hero on the dunghill, from
     thence by gradual steps raises him to a throne, and then
     immediately withdraws, expecting not so much as thanks for his

              _Tale of a Tub._

     The most accomplish’d way of using books at present is, to serve
     them as some do lords, learn their _titles_, and then brag of
     their acquaintance.

              _Tale of a Tub_.

    Box’d in a chair, the beau impatient sits,
    While spouts run clatt’ring o’er the roof by fits;
    And ever and anon with frightful din
    The leather sounds; he trembles from within.
    So when Troy chairmen bore the wooden steed,
    Pregnant with Greeks, impatient to be freed,
    (Those bully Greeks, who, as the moderns do,
    Instead of paying chairmen, run them through),
    Laocoon struck the outside with his spear,
    And each imprison’d hero quak’d for fear.
         _Description of a city shower. Swift._

    Clubs, diamonds, hearts, in wild disorder seen,
    With throngs promiscuous strow the level green.
    Thus when dispers’d a routed army runs,
    Of Asia’s troops, and Afric’s sable sons,
    With like confusion different nations fly,
    Of various habit, and of various dye,
    The pierc’d battalions disunited, fall
    In heaps on heaps; one fate o’erwhelms them all.
         _Rape of the Lock, canto 3._

     He does not consider, that sincerity in love is as much out of
     fashion as sweet snuff; no body takes it now.

              _Careless Husband._

     _Lady Easy._ My dear, I am afraid you have provoked her a little
     too far.

     _Sir Charles._ O! Not at all. You shall see, I’ll sweeten her, and
     she’ll cool like a dish of tea.




The reader must not expect to find here a complete list of the different
tropes and figures that have been carefully noted by ancient critics and
grammarians. Tropes and figures have indeed been multiplied with so
little reserve, as to make it no easy matter to distinguish them from
plain language. A discovery almost accidental, made me think of giving
them a place in this work: I found that the most important of them
depend on principles formerly explained; and I was glad of an
opportunity to show the extensive influence of these principles.
Confining myself therefore to figures that answer this purpose, I am
luckily freed from much trash; without dropping, so far as I remember,
any figure that merits a proper name. And I begin with Prosopopœia or
personification, which is justly intitled to the first place.



This figure, which gives life to things inanimate, is so bold a delusion
as to require, one should imagine, very peculiar circumstances for
operating the effect. And yet, in the language of poetry, we find
variety of expressions, which, though commonly reduced to this figure,
are used without ceremony or any sort of preparation. I give, for
example, the following expressions. _Thirsty_ ground, _hungry_
church-yard, _furious_ dart, _angry_ ocean. The epithets here, in their
proper meaning, are attributes of sensible beings. What is the effect of
such epithets, when apply’d to things inanimate? Do they raise in the
mind of the reader a perception of sensibility? Do they make him
conceive the ground, the church-yard, the dart, the ocean, to be endued
with animal functions? This is a curious inquiry; and whether so or not,
it cannot be declined in handling the present subject.

One thing is certain, that the mind is prone to bestow sensibility upon
things inanimate, where that violent effect is necessary to gratify
passion. This is one instance, among many, of the power of passion to
adjust our opinions and belief to its gratification[12]. I give the
following examples. Antony, mourning over the body of Cæsar, murdered in
the senate-house, vents his passion in the following words.

    _Antony._ O pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
    That I am meek and gentle with these butchers.
    Thou art the ruins of the noblest man
    That ever lived in the tide of times.
         _Julius Cæsar, act 3. sc. 4_.

Here Antony must have been impressed with some sort of notion, that the
body of Cæsar was listening to him, without which the speech would be
foolish and absurd. Nor will it appear strange, after what is said in
the chapter above cited, that passion should have such power over the
mind of man. Another example of the same kind is, where the earth, as a
common mother, is animated to give refuge against a father’s unkindness.

      _Almeria_. O Earth, behold, I kneel upon thy bosom,
    And bend my flowing eyes to stream upon
    Thy face, imploring thee that thou wilt yield;
    Open thy bowels of compassion, take
    Into thy womb the last and most forlorn
    Of all thy race. Hear me thou, common parent;
   ---- I have no parent else.---- Be thou a mother,
    And step between me and the curse of him,
    Who was--who was, but is no more a father;
    But brands my innocence with horrid crimes;
    And for the tender names of _child_ and _daughter_,
    Now calls me _murderer_ and _parricide_.
         _Mourning Bride, act. 4. sc. 7_.

Plaintive passions are extremely solicitous for vent. A soliloquy
commonly answers the purpose. But when a passion swells high, it is not
satisfied with so slight a gratification: it must have a person to
complain to; and if none be found, it will animate things devoid of
sense. Thus Philoctetes complains to the rocks and promontories of the
isle of Lemnos[13]; and Alcestes dying, invokes the sun, the light of
day, the clouds, the earth, her husband’s palace, _&c._[14]. Plaintive
passions carry the mind still farther. Among the many principles that
connect individuals in society, one is remarkable: it is that principle
which makes us earnestly wish, that others should enter into our
concerns and think and feel as we do[15]. This social principle, when
inflamed by a plaintive passion, will, for want of a more complete
gratification, prompt the mind to give life even to things inanimate.
Moschus, lamenting the death of Bion, conceives that the birds, the
fountains, the trees, lament with him. The shepherd, who in Virgil
bewails the death of Daphnis, expresseth himself thus:

    Daphni, tuum Pœnos etiam ingemuisse leones
    Interitum, montesque feri sylvæque loquuntur.
         _Eclogue_ v. 27.


    Illum etiam lauri, illum etiam flevere myricæ.
    Pinifer illum etiam sola sub rupe jacentem
    Mænalus, et gelidi fleverunt saxa Lycæi.
         _Eclogue_ x. 13.


      Ho visto al pianto mio
    Responder per pietate i sassi e l’onde;
      E sospirar le fronde
      Ho visto al pianto mio.
      Ma non ho visto mai,
      Ne spero di vedere
    Compassion ne la crudele, e bella.
         _Aminta di Tasso, act 1. sc. 2._

Earl Rivers carried to execution, says,

    O Pomfret, Pomfret! O thou bloody prison,
    Fatal and ominous to Noble peers!
    Within the guilty closure of thy walls
    Richard the Second, here, was hack’d to death;
    And, for more slander to thy dismal seat,
    We give to thee our guiltless blood to drink.
         _Richard III, act 3. sc. 4._

King Richard having got intelligence of Bolingbroke’s invasion, says,
upon his landing in England from his Irish expedition, in a mixture of
joy and resentment,

                 ---- I weep for joy
    To stand upon my kingdom once again.
    Dear earth, I do salute thee with my hand,
    Though rebels wound thee with their horses hoofs.
    As a long parted mother with her child
    Plays fondly with her tears, and smiles in meeting;
    So weeping, smiling, greet I thee my earth,
    And do thee favour with my royal hands.
    Feed not thy sovereign’s foe, my gentle earth,
    Nor with thy sweets comfort his rav’nous sense:
    But let thy spiders that suck up thy venom,
    And heavy-gaited toads, lie in their way;
    Doing annoyance to the treach’rous feet,
    Which with usurping steps do trample thee.
    Yield stinging nettles to mine enemies;
    And, when they from thy bosom pluck a flower,
    Guard it, I pr’ythee, with a lurking adder;
    Whose double tongue may with a mortal touch
    Throw death upon thy sovereign’s enemies.
    Mock not my senseless conjuration, Lords:
    This earth shall have a feeling; and these stones
    Prove armed soldiers, ere her native king
    Shall faulter under foul rebellious arms.
         _Richard II. act 3. sc. 2._

Among the ancients, it was customary after a long voyage to salute the
natal soil. A long voyage, was of old a greater enterprise than at
present: the safe return to one’s country after much fatigue and danger,
was a circumstance extremely delightful; and it was natural to give the
natal soil a temporary life, in order to sympathise with the traveller.
See an example, _Agamemnon_ of Æschilus, act 3. in the beginning. Regret
for leaving a place one has been accustomed to has the same effect[16].

Terror produceth the same effect. A man, to gratify this passion,
extends it to every thing around, even to things inanimate:

Speaking of Polyphemus,

    Clamorem immensum tollit, quo pontus et omnes
    Intremuere undæ penitusque exterrita tellus
         _Æneid._ iii. 672.

   ---- As when old Ocean roars,
    And heaves huge surges to the _trembling_ shores.
         _Iliad_ ii. 249.

    And thund’ring footsteps _shake_ the sounding shore.
         _Iliad_ ii. 549.

    Then with a voice that _shook_ the vaulted skies.
         _Iliad_ v. 431.

Racine, in the tragedy of _Phedra_, describing the sea-monster that
destroy’d Hippolitus, conceives the sea itself to be inspired with
terror as well as the spectators; or more accurately transfers from the
spectators their terror to the sea, with which they were connected:

    Le flot qui l’apporta recule epouvanté.

A man also naturally communicates his joy to all objects around, animate
or inanimate:

   ---- As when to them who sail
    Beyond the Cape of Hope, and now are past
    Mozambic, off at sea north-east winds blow
    Sabean odour from the spicy shore
    Of Araby the Blest; with such delay
    Well pleas’d, they slack their course, and many a league
    Chear’d with the grateful smell old Ocean smiles.
         _Paradise Lost, b. 4._

I have been profuse of examples, to show what power many passions have
to animate their objects. In all the foregoing examples, the
personification, if I mistake not, is so complete as to be derived from
an actual conviction, momentary indeed, of life and intelligence. But it
is evident from numberless instances, that personification is not always
so complete. Personification is a common figure in descriptive poetry,
understood to be the language of the writer, and not of any of his
personages in a fit of passion. In this case, it seldom or never comes
up to a conviction, even momentary, of life and intelligence. I give the
following examples.

    First in _his_ east the glorious lamp was seen,
    Regent of day, and all th’ horizon round
    Invested with bright rays; jocund to run
    _His_ longitude through heav’n’s high road: the gray
    Dawn, and the Pleiades before _him_ danc’d,
    Shedding sweet influence. Less bright the moon
    But opposite, in levell’d west was set
    _His_ mirror, with full face borrowing _her_ light
    From _him_; for other light _she_ needed none.
         _Paradise Lost, b. 7. l. 370._[17]

    Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day
    Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain-tops.
         _Romeo and Juliet, act 3. sc. 7._

    But look, the morn, in russet mantle clad,
    Walks o’er the dew of yon high eastward hill.
         _Hamlet, act 1. sc. 1._

It may, I presume, be taken for granted, that, in the foregoing
instances, the personification, either with the poet or his reader,
amounts not to a conviction of intelligence; nor that the sun, the moon,
the day, the morn, are here understood to be sensible beings. What then
is the nature of this personification? Upon considering the matter
attentively, I discover that this species of personification must be
referred to the imagination. The inanimate object is imagined to be a
sensible being, but without any conviction, even for a moment, that it
really is so. Ideas or fictions of imagination have power to raise
emotions in the mind[18]; and when any thing inanimate is, in
imagination, supposed to be a sensible being, it makes by that means a
greater figure than when an idea is formed of it according to truth. The
elevation however in this case, is far from being so great as when the
personification arises to an actual conviction; and therefore must be
considered as of a lower or inferior sort. Thus personification is of
two kinds. The first or nobler, may be termed _passionate
personification_: the other, or more humble, _descriptive
personification_; because seldom or never is personification in a
description carried the length of conviction.

The imagination is so lively and active, that its images are raised with
very little effort; and this justifies the frequent use of descriptive
personification. This figure abounds in Milton’s _Allegro_ and

Abstract and general terms, as well as particular objects, are often
necessary in poetry. Such terms however are not well adapted to poetry,
because they suggest not any image to the mind: I can readily form an
image of Alexander or Achilles in wrath; but I cannot form an image of
wrath in the abstract, or of wrath independent of a person. Upon that
account, in works addressed to the imagination, abstract terms are
frequently personified. But this personification never goes farther than
the imagination.

    Sed mihi vel Tellus optem prius ima dehiscat;
    Vel pater omnipotens adigat me fulmine ad umbras,
    Pallentes umbras Erebi, noctemque profundam,
    Ante pudor quam te violo, aut tua jura resolvo.
         _Æneid. 4. l. 24._

Thus, to explain the effects of slander, it is imagined to be a
voluntary agent:

                   ---- No, ’tis Slander;
    Whose edge is sharper than the sword; whose tongue
    Out venoms all the worms of Nile; whose breath
    Rides on the posting winds, and doth belie
    All corners of the world, kings, queens, and states,
    Maids, matrons: nay, the secrets of the grave
    This viperous Slander enters.
         _Shakespear, Cymbeline, act. 3. sc. 4._

As also human passions. Take the following example.

               ----For Pleasure and Revenge
    Have ears more deaf than adders, to the voice
    Of any true decision.
         _Troilus and Cressida, act 2. sc. 4._

Virgil explains fame and its effects by a still greater variety of
action[19]. And Shakespear personifies death and its operations in a
manner extremely fanciful:

             ---- Within the hollow crown
    That rounds the mortal temples of a king,
    Keeps Death his court; and there the antic sits,
    Scoffing his state, and grinning at his pomp;
    Allowing him a breath, a little scene
    To monarchize, be fear’d, and kill with looks;
    Infusing him with self and vain conceit,
    As if his flesh, which walls about our life,
    Were brass impregnable; and humour’d thus,
    Comes at the last, and with a little pin
    Bores through his castle-walls, and farewell king!
         _Richard_ II. _act 3. sc. 4_.

Not less successfully is life and action given even to sleep:

      _K. Henry._ How many thousands of my poorest subjects
    Are at this hour asleep! O gentle Sleep,
    Nature’s soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
    That thou no more wilt weigh my eye-lids down,
    And steep my senses in forgetfulness?
    Why rather, Sleep, ly’st thou in smoky cribs,
    Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee,
    And hush’d with buzzing night-flies to thy slumber;
    Than in the perfum’d chambers of the great,
    Under the canopies of costly state,
    And lull’d with sounds of sweetest melody?
    O thou dull god, why ly’st thou with the vile
    In loathsome beds, and leav’st the kingly couch,
    A watch-case to a common larum-bell?
    Wilt thou, upon the high and giddy mast,
    Seal up the ship-boy’s eyes, and rock his brains
    In cradle of the rude imperious surge;
    And in the visitation of the winds,
    Who take the ruffian billows by the top,
    Curling their monstrous heads, and hanging them
    With deaf’ning clamours in the slipp’ry shrouds,
    That, with the hurly, Death itself awakes:
    Can’st thou, O partial Sleep, give thy repose
    To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude;
    And, in the calmest and the stillest night,
    With all appliances and means to boot,
    Deny it to a king? Then, happy low! lie down;
    Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.
         _Second Part Henry_ IV. _act 3. sc. 1_.

I shall add one example more, to show that descriptive personification
may be used with propriety, even where the purpose of the discourse is
instruction merely:

    Oh! let the steps of youth be cautious,
    How they advance into a dangerous world;
    Our duty only can conduct us safe:
    Our passions are seducers: but of all,
    The strongest Love: he first approaches us,
    In childish play, wantoning in our walks:
    If heedlessly we wander after him,
    As he will pick out all the dancing way,
    We’re lost, and hardly to return again.
    We should take warning: he is painted blind,
    To show us, if we fondly follow him,
    The precipices we may fall into.
    Therefore let Virtue take him by the hand:
    Directed so, he leads to certain joy.

Hitherto our progress has been upon firm ground. Whether we shall be so
lucky in the remaining part of the journey, seems doubtful. For after
acquiring some knowledge of the subject, when we now look back to the
expressions mentioned in the beginning, _thirsty_ ground, _furious_
dart, and such like, it seems as difficult as at first to say what sort
of personification it is. Such expressions evidently raise not the
slighted conviction of sensibility. Nor do I think they amount to
descriptive personification: in the expressions mentioned, we do not so
much as figure the ground or the dart to be animated; and if so, they
cannot at all come under the present subject. And to show this more
clearly, I shall endeavour to explain what effect such expressions have
naturally upon the mind. In the expression _angry ocean_, for example,
do we not tacitly compare the ocean in a storm, to a man in wrath? It is
by this tacit comparison, that the expression acquires a force or
elevation, beyond what is found when an epithet is used proper to the
object: for I have had occasion to show[20], that a thing inanimate
acquires a certain elevation by being compared to a sensible being. And
this very comparison is itself a demonstration, that there is no
personification in such expressions. For, by the very nature of a
comparison, the things compared are kept distinct, and the native
appearance of each is preserved. It will be shown afterward, that
expressions of this kind belong to another figure, which I term _a
figure of speech_, and which employs the seventh section of the present

Though thus in general we can precisely distinguish descriptive
personification from what is merely a figure of speech, it is however
often difficult to say, with respect to some expressions, whether they
are of the one kind or of the other. Take the following instances.

    The moon shines bright: in such a night as this,
    When the sweet wind did gently _kiss_ the trees,
    And they did make no noise; in such a night,
    Troilus methinks mounted the Trojan wall,
    And sigh’d his soul towards the Grecian tents
    Where Cressid lay that night.
         _Merchant of Venice, act 5. sc. 1._

   ---- I have seen
    Th’ _ambitious_ ocean swell, and rage, and foam,
    To be exalted with the threat’ning clouds.
         _Julius Cæsar, act 1. sc. 6._

      _Jane Shore._ My form, alas! has long forgot to please;
    The scene of beauty and delight is chang’d,
    No roses bloom upon my fading cheek,
    No laughing graces wanton in my eyes;
    But haggard Grief, lean-looking sallow Care,
    And pining Discontent, a rueful train,
    Dwell on my brow, all hideous and forlorn.
         _Jane Shore, act 1. sc. 2._

With respect to these and numberless other instances of the same kind,
whether they be examples of personification or of a figure of speech
merely, seems to be an arbitrary question. They will be ranged under the
former class by those only who are endued with a sprightly imagination.
Nor will the judgement even of the same person be steady: it will vary
with the present state of the spirits, lively or composed.

       *       *       *       *       *

Having thus at large explained the present figure, its different kinds,
and the principles from whence derived; what comes next in order is to
ascertain its proper province, by showing in what cases it is suitable,
in what unsuitable. I begin with observing, upon passionate
personification, that this figure is not promoted by every passion
indifferently. All dispiriting passions are averse to it. Remorse, in
particular, is too serious and severe, to be gratified by a phantom of
the mind. I cannot therefore approve the following speech of Enobarbus,
who had deserted his master Antony.

    Be witness to me, O thou blessed moon,
    When men revolted shall upon record
    Bear hateful memory, poor Enobarbus did
    Before thy face repent--------
    Oh sovereign mistress of true melancholy,
    The poisonous damp of night dispunge upon me,
    That life, a very rebel to my will,
    May hang no longer on me.
         _Antony and Cleopatra, act 4. sc. 7._

If this can be justified, it must be upon the Heathen system of
theology, which converted into deities the sun, moon, and stars.

       *       *       *       *       *

Secondly, After a passionate personification is properly introduced, it
ought to be confined strictly to its proper province, that of gratifying
the passion; and no sentiment nor action ought to be exerted by the
animated object, but what answers that purpose. Personification is at
any rate a bold figure, and ought to be employed with great reserve. The
passion of love, for example, in a plaintive tone, may give a momentary
life to woods and rocks, that the lover may vent his distress to them:
but no passion will support a conviction so far stretched, as that these
woods and rocks should be living witnesses to report the distress to

    Ch’i’ t’ami piu de la mia vita,
    Se tu nol fai, crudele,
    Chiedilo a queste selve,
    Che te’l diranno, et te’l diran con esso
    Le fere loro e i duri sterpi, e i sassi
    Di questi alpestri monti,
    Ch’i’ ho si spesse volte
    Inteneriti al suon de’ miei lamenti.
         _Pastor fido, act 3. sc. 3._

No lover who is not crazed will utter such a sentiment: it is plainly
the operation of the writer, indulging his imagination without regard to
nature. The same observation is applicable to the following passage.

    In winter’s tedious nights sit by the fire
    With good old folks, and let them tell thee tales
    Of woful ages, long ago betid:
    And ere thou bid goodnight, to quiet their grief,
    Tell them the lamentable fall of me,
    And send the hearers weeping to their beds.
    For why! the senseless brands will sympathise
    The heavy accent of thy moving tongue,
    And in compassion weep the fire out.
         _Richard II. act 5. sc. 1._

One must read this passage very seriously to avoid laughing. The
following passage is quite extravagant: the different parts of the human
body are too intimately connected with self, to be personified by the
power of any passion; and after converting such a part into a sensible
being, it is still worse to make it be conceived as rising in rebellion
against self.

    _Cleopatra_. Haste, bare my arm, and rouze the serpent’s fury.
    Coward flesh--------
    Would’st thou conspire with Cæsar, to betray me,
    As thou wert none of mine? I’ll force thee to’t.
         _Dryden, All for Love, act 5._

Next comes descriptive personification; upon which I must observe in
general, that it ought to be cautiously used. A personage in a tragedy,
agitated by a strong passion, deals in strong sentiments; and the
reader, catching fire by sympathy, relishes the boldest
personifications. But a writer, even in the most lively description,
ought to take a lower flight, and content himself with such easy
personifications as agree with the tone of mind inspired by the
description. In plain narrative, again, the mind, serious and sedate,
rejects personification altogether. Strada, in his history of the Belgic
wars, has the following passage, which, by a strained elevation above
the tone of the subject, deviates into burlesk. “Vix descenderat a
prætoria navi Cæsar; cum fœda illico exorta in portu tempestas, classem
impetu disjecit, prætoriam hausit: quasi non vecturam amplius Cæsarem,
Cæsarisque fortunam[21].” Neither do I approve, in Shakespear, the
speech of King John, gravely exhorting the citizens of Angiers to a
surrender; though a tragic writer has much greater latitude than a
historian. Take the following specimen of this speech.

    The cannons have their bowels full of wrath;
    And ready mounted are they to spit forth
    Their iron-indignation ’gainst your walls.
         _Act 2. sc. 3._

Secondly, If extraordinary marks of respect put upon a person of the
lowest rank be ridiculous, not less so is the personification of a mean
object. This rule chiefly regards descriptive personification: for an
object can hardly be mean that is the cause of a violent passion; in
that circumstance, at least, it must be an object of importance. With
respect to this point, it would be in vain to set limits to
personification: taste is the only rule. A poet of superior genius hath
more than others the command of this figure; because he hath more than
others the power of inflaming the mind. Homer appears not extravagant in
animating his darts and arrows: nor Thomson in animating the seasons,
the winds, the rains, the dews. He even ventures to animate the diamond,
and doth it with propriety.

   ---- That polish’d bright
    And all its native lustre let abroad,
    Dares, as it sparkles on the fair-one’s breast,
    With vain ambition emulate her eyes.

But there are things familiar and base, to which personification cannot
descend. In a composed state of mind, to animate a lump of matter even
in the most rapid flight of fancy, degenerates into burlesk.

    How now? What noise? that spirit’s possess’d with haste,
    That wounds th’ unresisting postern with these strokes.
         _Shakespear, Measure for Measure, act 4. sc. 6._

The following little better:

   ---- Or from the shore
    The plovers when to scatter o’er the heath,
    And sing their wild notes to the list’ning waste.
         _Thomson, Spring, l. 23._

Speaking of a man’s hand cut off in battle:

    Te decisa suum, Laride, dextera quærit:
    Semianimesque micant digiti; ferrumque retractant.
         _Æneid. x. 395._

The personification here of a hand is insufferable, especially in a
plain narration; not to mention that such a trivial incident is too
minutely described.

The same observation is applicable to abstract terms, which ought not to
be animated unless they have some natural dignity. Thomson, in this
article, is quite licentious. Witness the following instances out of

    O vale of bliss! O softly swelling hills!
    On which _the power of cultivation_ lies,
    And joys to see the wonders of his toil.
         _Summer, l. 1423_.

    Then sated _Hunger_ bids his brother _Thirst_
    Produce the mighty bowl:
    Nor wanting is the brown October, drawn
    Mature and perfect, from _his_ dark retreat
    Of thirty years; and now _his honest front_
    Flames in the light refulgent.
         _Autumn, l. 516._

Thirdly, it is not sufficient to avoid improper subjects. Some
preparation is necessary, in order to rouze the mind. The imagination
refuses its aid, till it be warmed at least, if not inflamed. Yet
Thomson, without the least ceremony or preparation, introduceth each
season as a sensible being:

    From brightening fields of æther fair disclos’d,
    Child of the sun, refulgent Summer comes,
    In pride of youth, and felt through Nature’s depth.
    He comes attended by the sultry hours,
    And ever-fanning breezes, on his way,
    While from his ardent look, the turning Spring
    Averts her blushful face, and earth and skies
    All-smiling, to his hot dominion leaves.
         _Summer, l. 1._

    See _Winter_ comes, to rule the vary’d year,
    Sullen and sad with all his rising train,
    _Vapours_, and _clouds_, and _storms_.
         _Winter, l. 1._

This has violently the air of writing mechanically without taste. It is
not natural, that the imagination of a writer should be so much heated
at the very commencement; and, at any rate, he cannot expect such
ductility in his readers: but if this practice can be justified by
authority, Thomson has one of no mean note: Vida begins his first
eclogue in the following words.

    Dicite, vos Musæ, et juvenum memorate querelas;
    Dicite; nam motas ipsas ad carmina cautes
    Et requiesse suos perhibent vaga flumina cursus.

Even Shakespear is not always careful to prepare the mind for this bold
figure. Take the following instance:

   ---------------- Upon these taxations,
    The clothiers all, not able to maintain
    The many to them ’longing, have put off
    The spinsters, carders, fullers, weavers; who,
    Unfit for other life, compell’d by hunger
    And lack of other means, in desp’rate manner
    Daring th’ event to th’ teeth, are all in uproar,
    And _Danger_ serves among them.
         _Henry VIII. act 1. sc. 4._

Fourthly, Descriptive personification ought never to be carried farther
than barely to animate the subject: and yet poets are not easily
restrained from making this phantom of their own creating behave and act
in every respect as if it were really a sensible being. By such licence
we lose sight of the subject; and the description is rendered obscure or
unintelligible, instead of being more lively and striking. In this view,
the following passage, describing Cleopatra on shipboard, appears to me

    The barge she sat in, like a burnish’d throne,
    Burnt on the water; the poop was beaten gold,
    Purple the sails, and so perfumed, that
    The winds were love sick with ’em.
         _Antony and Cleopatra, act 2. sc. 3._

Let the winds be personified; I make no objection. But to make them
love-sick, is too far stretched; having no resemblance to any natural
action of wind. In another passage, where Cleopatra is also the subject,
the personification of the air is carried beyond all bounds:

   ---------------------------- The city cast
    Its people out upon her; and Antony
    Inthron’d i’ th’ market-place, did sit alone,
    Whistling to th’ air, which but for vacancy,
    Had gone to gaze on Cleopatra too,
    And made a gap in nature.
         _Antony and Cleopatra, act 2. sc. 3._

The following personification of the earth or soil is not less wild.

    She shall be dignify’d with this high honour
    To bear my Lady’s train; lest the base earth
    Should from her vesture chance to steal a kiss;
    And of so great a favour growing proud,
    Disdain to root the summer swelling flower,
    And make rough winter everlastingly.
         _The Two Gentlemen of Verona, act 2. sc. 7._

Shakespear, far from approving such intemperance of imagination, puts
this speech in the mouth of a ranting lover. Neither can I relish what

    Omnia quæ, Phœbo quondam meditante, beatus
    Audiit Eurotas, jussitque ediscere lauros,
    Ille canit.
         _Virgil, Buc. vi. 82._

The chearfulness singly of a pastoral song, will scarce support
personification in the lowest degree. But admitting, that a river gently
flowing may be imagined a sensible being listening to a song, I cannot
enter into the conceit of the river’s ordering his laurels to learn the
song. Here all resemblance to any thing real is quite lost. This
however is copied literally by one of our greatest poets; early indeed,
before maturity of taste or judgement.

    Thames heard the numbers as he flow’d along,
    And bade his willows learn the moving song.
         _Pope’s Pastorals, past. 4. l. 13._

This author, in riper years, is guilty of a much greater deviation from
the rule. Dullness may be imagined a deity or idol, to be worshipped by
bad writers: but then some sort of disguise is requisite, some bastard
virtue must be bestowed, to give this idol a plausible appearance. Yet
in the _Dunciad_, dullness, without the least disguise, is made the
object of worship. The mind rejects such a fiction as unnatural; for
dullness is a defect, of which even the dullest mortal is ashamed:

    Then he: great tamer of all human art, &c.
         _Book i. 163._

The following instance is stretched beyond all resemblance. It is bold
to take a part or member of a living creature, and to bestow upon it
life, volition, and action: after animating two such members, it is
still bolder to make them envy each other; for this is wide of any
resemblance to reality:

   ------------------ De nostri baci
    Meritamente sia giudice quella, &c.
         _Pastor Fido, act 2. sc. 1._

Fifthly, The enthusiasm of passion may have the effect to prolong
passionate personification: but descriptive personification cannot be
dispatched in too few words. A minute description dissolves the charm,
and makes the attempt to personify appear ridiculous. Homer succeeds in
animating his darts and arrows: but such personification spun out in a
French translation, is mere burlesk:

    Et la fléche en furie, avide de son sang,
    Part, vole à lui, l’atteint, et lui perce le flanc.

Horace says happily, “Post equitem sedet atra Cura.” See how this
thought degenerates by being divided, like the former, into a number of
minute parts:

    Un fou rempli d’erreurs, que le trouble accompagne
    Et malade à la ville ainsi qu’à la campagne,
    En vain monte à cheval pour tromper son ennui,
    Le Chagrin monte en croupe et galope avec lui.

The following passage is, if possible, still more faulty.

    Her fate is whisper’d by the gentle breeze,
    And told in sighs to all the trembling trees;
    The trembling trees, in ev’ry plain and wood,
    Her fate remurmur to the silver flood;
    The silver flood, so lately calm, appears
    Swell’d with new passion, and o’erflows with tears;
    The winds, and trees, and floods, her death deplore,
    Daphne, our grief! our glory! now no more.
         _Pope’s Pastorals, iv. 61._

Let grief or love have the power to animate the winds, the trees, the
floods, provided the figure be dispatched in a single expression. Even
in that case, the figure seldom has a good effect; because grief or love
of the pastoral kind, are causes rather too faint for so violent an
effect as imagining the winds, trees, or floods, to be sensible beings.
But when this figure is deliberately spread out with great regularity
and accuracy through many lines, the reader, instead of relishing it, is
struck with its ridiculous appearance.



This figure and the former are derived from the same principle. If, to
gratify a plaintive passion, we can bestow a momentary sensibility upon
an inanimate object, it is not more difficult to bestow a momentary
presence upon a sensible being who is absent.

    Hinc Drepani me portus et illætabilis ora
    Accipit. Hic, pelagi tot tempestatibus actus,
    Heu! genitorem, omnis curæ casusque levamen,
    Amitto Anchisen: _hic me pater optime fessum
    Deseris_, heu! tantis nequiequam erepte periclis.
    Nec vates Helenus, cum multa horrenda moneret,
    Hos mihi prædixit luctus; non dira Celæno.
         _Æneid. iii. 707._

This figure is sometimes joined with the former: things inanimate, to
qualify them for listening to a passionate expostulation, are not only
personified, but also conceived to be present.

    Et, si fata Deûm, si mens non læva fuisset,
    Impulerat ferro Argolicas fœdare latebras:
    _Trojaque nunc stares, Priamique arx alta maneres_.
         _Æneid. ii. 54._

      _Helena._---- Poor Lord, is’t I
    That chase thee from thy country, and expose
    Those tender limbs of thine to the event
    Of non-sparing war? And is it I
    That drive thee from the sportive court, where thou
    Wast shot at with fair eyes, to be the mark
    Of smoky muskets? O you leaden messengers,
    That ride upon the violent speed of fire,
    Fly with false aim; pierce the still moving air,
    That sings with piercing; do not touch my Lord.
         _All’s well that ends well, act 3. sc. 4._

This figure, like all others, requires an agitation of mind. In plain
narrative, as, for example, in giving the genealogy of a family, it has
no good effect:

   ----Fauno Picus pater; isque parentem
    Te, Saturne, refert; tu sanguinis ultimus auctor.
         _Æneid. vii. 48._



In this figure we have another effect of the foregoing principle. An
object uncommon with respect to size, either very great of its kind or
very little, strikes us with surprise; and this emotion, like all
others, prone to gratification, forces upon the mind a momentary
conviction that the object is greater or less than it is in reality. The
same effect, precisely, attends figurative grandeur or littleness. Every
object that produceth surprise by its singularity, is always seen in a
false light while the emotion subsists: circumstances are exaggerated
beyond truth; and it is not till after the emotion subsides, that things
appear as they are. A writer, taking advantage of this natural
delusion, enriches his description greatly by the hyperbole. And the
reader, even in his coolest moments, relishes this figure, being
sensible that it is the operation of nature upon a warm fancy.

It will be observed, that a writer is generally more successful in
magnifying by a hyperbole than in diminishing: a minute object contracts
the mind, and fetters its power of conception; but the mind, dilated and
inflamed with a grand object, moulds objects for its gratification with
great facility. Longinus, with respect to the diminishing power of a
hyperbole, cites the following ludicrous thought from a comic poet. “He
was owner of a bit of ground not larger than a Lacedemonian letter.[22]”
But, for the reason now given, the hyperbole has by far the greater
force in magnifying objects; of which take the following specimen.

     For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to
     thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the
     earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then
     shall thy seed also be numbered.

              _Genesis xiii. 15. 16._

    Illa vel intactæ segetis per summa volaret
    Gramina: nec teneras cursu læsisset aristas.
         _Æneid. vii. 808._

   ---- Atque imo barathri ter gurgite vastos
    Sorbet in abruptum fluctus, rursusque sub auras
    Erigit alternos, et sidera verberat undà.
         _Æneid. iii. 421._

   ---- Horrificis juxta tonat Ætna ruinis,
    Interdumque atram prorumpit ad æthera nubem,
    Turbine fumantem piceo et candente favilla:
    Attollitque globos flammarum, et sidera lambit.
         _Æneid. iii. 571._

Speaking of Polyphemus,

   ---- Ipse arduus, altaque pulsat Sidera.
         _Æneid. iii. 619._

   ---- When he speaks,
    The air, a charter’d libertine, is still.
         _Henry V. act 1. sc. 1._

    Now shield with shield, with helmet helmet clos’d,
    To armour armour, lance to lance oppos’d,
    Host against host with shadowy squadrons drew,
    The sounding darts in iron tempests flew,
    Victors and vanquish’d join promiscuous cries,
    And shrilling shouts and dying groans arise;
    With streaming blood the slipp’ry fields are dy’d,
    And slaughter’d heroes swell the dreadful tide.
         _Iliad iv. 508._

The following may also pass, though stretched pretty far.

    Econjungendo à temerario ardire
    Estrema forza, e infaticabil lena
    Vien che si’ impetuoso il ferro gire,
    Che ne trema la terra, e’l ciel balena.
         _Gierusalem, cant. 6. st. 46._

Quintilian[23] is sensible that this figure is natural. “For,” says he,
“not contented with truth, we naturally incline to augment or diminish
beyond it; and for that reason the hyperbole is familiar even among the
vulgar and illiterate.” And he adds, very justly, “That the hyperbole is
then proper, when the subject of itself exceeds the common measure.”
From these premisses, one would not expect the following conclusion, the
only reason he can find for justifying this figure of speech.
“Conceditur enim amplius dicere, quia dici quantum est, non potest:
meliusque ultra quam citra stat oratio.” (We are indulged to say more
than enough, because we cannot say enough; and it is better to be over
than under). In the name of wonder, why this slight and childish reason,
when immediately before he had made it evident, that the hyperbole is
founded on human nature? I could not resist this personal stroke of
criticism, intended not against our author, for no human creature is
exempt from error; but against the blind veneration that is paid to the
ancient classic writers, without distinguishing their blemishes from
their beauties.

Having examined the nature of this figure, and the principle on which it
is erected; I proceed, as in the first section, to some rules by which
it ought to be governed. And in the first place, it is a capital fault
to introduce an hyperbole in the description of an ordinary object or
event which creates no surprise. In such a case, the hyperbole is
altogether unnatural, being destitute of surprise, the only foundation
that can support it. Take the following instance, where the subject is
extremely familiar, _viz._ swimming to gain the shore after a shipwreck.

    I saw him beat the surges under him,
    And ride upon their backs; he trode the water;
    Whose enmity he flung aside, and breasted
    The surge most swoln that met him: his bold head
    ’Bove the contentious waves he kept, and oar’d
    Himself with his good arms, in lusty strokes
    To th’ shore, that o’er his wave-born basis bow’d,
    As stooping to relieve him.
         _Tempest, act 2. sc. 1._

In the next place, it may be gathered from what is said, that an
hyperbole can never suit the tone of any dispiriting passion. Sorrow in
particular will never prompt such a figure; and for that reason the
following hyperboles must be condemned as unnatural.

      _K. Rich._ Aumerle, thou weep’st, my tender-hearted cousin!
    We’ll make foul weather with despised tears;
    Our sighs, and they, shall lodge the summer-corn,
    And make a dearth in this revolting land.
         _Richard II. Act 3. Sc. 6._

    Draw them to Tyber’s bank, and weep your tears
    Into the channel, till the lowest stream
    Do kiss the most exalted shores of all.
         _Julius Cæsar, act 1. sc. 1._

Thirdly, a writer, if he wish to succeed, ought always to have the
reader in his eye. He ought in particular never to venture a bold
thought or expression, till the reader be warmed and prepared for it.
For this reason, an hyperbole in the beginning of any work can never be
in its place. Example:

    Jam pauca aratro jugera regiæ
    Moles relinquent.
         _Horat. Carm. lib. 2. ode. 15._

In the fourth place, the nicest point of all, is to ascertain the
natural limits of an hyperbole, beyond which being overstrained it has
a bad effect. Longinus, in the above-cited chapter, with great propriety
of thought, enters a caveat against an hyperbole of this kind. He
compares it to a bowstring, which relaxes by overstraining, and
produceth an effect directly opposite to what is intended. I pretend not
to ascertain any precise boundary: the attempt would be difficult, if
not impracticable. I must therefore be satisfied with an humbler task,
which is, to give a specimen of what I reckon overstrained hyperboles;
and I shall be also extremely curt upon this subject, because examples
are to be found every where. No fault is more common among writers of
inferior rank; and instances are found even among those of the finest
taste; witness the following hyperbole, too bold even for an Hotspur.

Hotspur talking of Mortimer:

    In single opposition hand to hand,
    He did confound the best part of an hour
    In changing hardiment with great Glendower.
    Three times they breath’d, and three times did they drink,
    Upon agreement, of swift Severn’s flood;
    Who then affrighted with their bloody looks,
    Ran fearfully among the trembling reeds,
    And hid his crisp’d head in the hollow bank
    Blood-stained with these valiant combatants.
         _First Part Henry IV. act 1. sc. 4._

Speaking of Henry V.

    England ne’er had a King until his time:
    Virtue he had, deserving to command:
    His brandish’d sword did blind men with its beams:
    His arms spread wider than a dragon’s wings:
    His sparkling eyes, replete with awful fire,
    More dazzled, and drove back his enemies,
    Than mid-day sun fierce bent against their faces.
    What should I say? his deeds exceed all speech:
    He never lifted up his hand, but conquer’d.
         _First Part Henry VI. act 1. sc. 1._

Lastly, an hyperbole after it is introduced with all advantages, ought
to be comprehended within the fewest words possible. As it cannot be
relished but in the hurry and swelling of the mind, a leisurely view
dissolves the charm, and discovers the description to be extravagant at
least, and perhaps also ridiculous. This fault is palpable in a sonnet
which passeth for one of the most complete in the French language.
Phillis is made as far to outshine the sun as he outshines the stars.

    Le silence regnoit sur la terre et sur l’onde,
    L’air devenoit serain, _&c._
         _Collection of French epigrams, vol. 1. p. 66._

There is in Chaucer a thought expressed in a single line, which sets a
young beauty in a more advantageous light, than the whole of this
much-laboured poem.

    Up rose the sun, and up rose Emelie.


_The means or instrument conceived to be the agent._

In viewing a group of things, we have obviously a natural tendency to
bestow all possible perfection upon that particular object which makes
the greatest figure. The emotion raised by the object, is, by this
means, thoroughly gratified; and if the emotion be lively, it prompts us
even to exceed nature in the conception we form of the object. Take the
following examples.

    For Neleus’ sons Alcides’ _rage_ had slain.

    A broken rock the _force_ of Pirus threw.

In these instances, the rage of Hercules and the force of Pirus, being
the capital circumstances, are so far exalted as to be conceived the
agents that produce the effects.

In the following instance, hunger being the chief circumstance in the
description, is itself imagined to be the patient.

    Whose hunger has not tasted food these three days.
         _Jane Shore._

   -------------------- As when the _force_
    Of subterranean wind transports a hill.
         _Paradise Lost._

   ---------------- As when the _potent rod_
    Of Amram’s son in Egypt’s evil day
    Wav’d round the coast, upcall’d a pitchy cloud
    Of locusts.
         _Paradise Lost._


_A figure, which, among related objects, extends properties of one to

This figure is not dignified with a proper name, because it has been
overlooked by all writers. It merits, however, place in this work; and
must be distinguished from those formerly handled, as depending on a
different principle. _Giddy brink_, _jovial wine_, _daring wound_, are
examples of this figure. Here are expressions that certainly import not
the ordinary relation of an adjective to its substantive. A _brink_, for
example, cannot be termed _giddy_ in a proper sense: neither can it be
termed _giddy_ in any figurative sense that can import any of its
qualities or attributes. When we attend to the expression, we discover
that a _brink_ is termed _giddy_ from producing that effect in those who
stand on it. In the same manner a wound is said to be daring, not with
respect to itself, but with respect to the boldness of the person who
inflicts it: and wine is said to be jovial, as inspiring mirth and
jollity. Thus the attributes of one subject, are extended to another
with which it is connected; and such expression must be considered as a
figure, because it deviates from ordinary language.

How are we to account for this figure, for we see it lies in the
thought, and to what principle shall we refer it? Have poets a privilege
to alter the nature of things, and at pleasure to bestow attributes upon
subjects to which these attributes do not belong? It is an evident
truth, which we have had often occasion to inculcate, that the mind, in
idea, passeth easily and sweetly along a train of connected objects;
and, where the objects are intimately connected, that it is disposed to
carry along the good or bad properties of one to another; especially
where it is in any degree inflamed with these properties[24]. From this
principle is derived the figure under consideration. Language, invented
for the communication of thought, would be imperfect, if it were not
expressive even of the slighter propensities and more delicate feelings.
But language cannot remain so imperfect, among a people who have
received any polish; because language is regulated by internal feeling,
and is gradually so improved as to express whatever passes in the mind.
Thus, for example, a sword in the hand of a coward, is, in poetical
diction, termed _a coward sword_: the expression is significative of an
internal operation; for the mind, in passing from the agent to its
instrument, is disposed to extend to the latter the properties of the
former. Governed by the same principle, we say _listening_ fear, by
extending the attribute _listening_ of the man who listens, to the
passion with which he is moved. In the expression, _bold deed_, or
_audax facinus_, we extend to the effect, what properly belongs to the
cause. But not to waste time by making a commentary upon every
expression of this kind, the best way to give a complete view of the
subject, is to exhibit a table of the different connections that may
give occasion to this figure. And in viewing this table, it will be
observed, that the figure can never have any grace but where the
connections are of the most intimate kind.

1. An attribute of the cause expressed as an attribute of the effect.

Audax facinus.

Of yonder fleet a _bold_ discovery make.

An impious mortal gave the _daring_ wound.

   ---------------- To my _adventrous_ song,
    That with no middle flight intends to soar.
         _Paradise Lost._

2. An attribute of the effect expressed as an attribute of the cause.

    Quos periisse ambos _misera_ censebam in mari.

    No wonder, fallen such a _pernicious_ height.
         _Paradise Lost._

3. An effect expressed as an attribute of the cause.

    Jovial wine, Giddy brink, Drowsy night, Musing
    midnight, Panting height, Astonish’d thought,
    Mournful gloom.

    Casting a dim _religious_ light.
         _Milton, Comus._

    And the _merry_ bells ring round,
    And the _jocund_ rebecks sound.
         _Milton, Allegro._

4. An attribute of a subject bestowed upon one of its parts or members.

    Longing arms.

    It was the nightingale, and not the lark,
    That pierc’d the _fearful_ hollow of thine ear.
         _Romeo and Juliet, act 3. sc. 7._

   -------------------- Oh, lay by
    Those most ungentle looks and angry weapons;
    Unless you mean my griefs and killing fears
    Should stretch me out at your _relentless_ feet.
         _Fair Penitent, act 3._

   ------------------ And ready now
    To stoop with _wearied_ wing, and _willing_ feet,
    On the bare outside of this world.
         _Paradise Lost, b. 3._

5. A quality of the agent given to the instrument with which it

    Why peep your _coward_ swords half out their shells?

6. An attribute of the agent given to the subject upon which it

    High-climbing hill.

7. A quality of one subject given to another.

    Icci, _beatis_ nunc Arabum invides
         _Hora. Carm. l. 1. ode 29._

    When sapless age, and weak unable limbs,
    Should bring thy father to his _drooping_ chair.

    By art, the pilot through the boiling deep
    And howling tempest, steers the _fearless_ ship.
         _Iliad xxiii. 385._

    Then, nothing loath, th’ enamour’d fair he led,
    And sunk transported on the _conscious_ bed.
         _Odyss._ viii. 337.

    A _stupid_ moment motionless she stood.
         _Summer, l. 1336._

8. A circumstance connected with a subject, expressed as a quality of
the subject.

    Breezy summit.

    ’Tis ours the chance of fighting fields to try.
         _Iliad_ i. 301.

    Oh! had I dy’d before that well-fought wall.
         _Odyss._ v. 395.

From this table it appears, that the expressing an effect as an
attribute of the cause, is not so agreeable as the opposite expression.
The descent from cause to effect is natural and easy: the opposite
direction resembles retrograde motion[25]. _Panting height_, for
example, _astonish’d thought_, are strained and uncouth expressions,
which a writer of taste will avoid. For the same reason, an epithet is
unsuitable, which at present is not applicable to the subject, however
applicable it may be afterward.

    _Submersasque_ obrue puppes.
         _Æneid. i. 73_.

    And mighty _ruins_ fall.
         _Iliad_ v. 411.

    Impious sons their _mangled_ fathers wound.

Another rule regards this figure, That the property of one object ought
not to be bestowed upon another with which it is incongruous:

      _K. Rich._---- How dare thy joints forget
    To pay their _awful_ duty to our presence.
         _Richard_ II. _act 3. sc. 6._

The connection betwixt an awful superior and his submissive dependent is
so intimate, that an attribute may readily be transferred from the one
to the other. But awfulness cannot be so transferred, because it is
inconsistent with submission.


_Metaphor and Allegory._

A Metaphor differs from a simile, in form only, not in substance. In a
simile the two different subjects are kept distinct in the expression,
as well as in the thought: in a metaphor, the two subjects are kept
distinct in thought only, not in expression. A hero resembles a lion,
and upon that resemblance many similes have been made by Homer and other
poets. But instead of resembling a lion, let us take the aid of the
imagination, and feign or figure the hero to be a lion. By this
variation the simile is converted into a metaphor; which is carried on
by describing all the qualities of a lion that resemble those of the
hero. The fundamental pleasure here, that of resemblance, belongs to
thought as distinguished from expression. There is an additional
pleasure which arises from the expression. The poet, by figuring his
hero to be a lion, goes on to describe the lion in appearance, but in
reality the hero; and his description is peculiarly beautiful, by
expressing the virtues and qualities of the hero in new terms, which,
properly speaking, belong not to him, but to a different being. This
will better be understood by examples. A family connected with a common
parent, resembles a tree, the trunk and branches of which are connected
with a common root. But let us suppose, that a family is figured not
barely to be like a tree, but to be a tree; and then the simile will be
converted into a metaphor, in the following manner.

    Edward’s sev’n sons, whereof thyself art one,
    Were sev’n fair branches, springing from one root:
    Some of these branches by the dest’nies cut:
    But Thomas, my dear Lord, my life, my Glo’ster,
    One flourishing branch of his most royal root,
    Is hack’d down, and his summer leaves all faded,
    By Envy’s hand and Murder’s bloody axe.
         _Richard II. act 1. sc. 3._

Figuring human life to be a voyage at sea:

    There is a tide in the affairs of men,
    Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
    Omitted, all the voyage of their life
    Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
    On such a full sea are we now afloat;
    And we must take the current when it serves,
    Or lose our ventures.
         _Julius Cæsar, act 4. sc. 5._

Figuring glory and honour to be a garland of fresh flowers:

    _Hotspur._---- Would to heav’n,
    Thy name in arms were now as great as mine!

    _Pr. Henry._ I’ll make it greater, ere I part from thee;
    And all the budding honours on thy crest
    I’ll crop, to make a garland for my head.
         _First Part Henry IV. act 5. sc. 9._

Figuring a man who hath acquired great reputation and honour to be a
tree full of fruit:

   -------------------- Oh, boys, this story
    The world may read in me: my body’s mark’d
    With Roman swords; and my report was once
    First with the best of note. Cymbeline lov’d me;
    And when a soldier was the theme, my name
    Was not far off: then was I as a tree,
    Whose boughs did bend with fruit. But in one night,
    A storm or robbery, call it what you will,
    Shook down my mellow hangings, nay my leaves;
    And left me bare to weather.
         _Cymbeline, act 3. sc. 3._

I am aware that the term _metaphor_ has been used in a more extensive
sense than I give it; but I thought it of consequence, in matters of
some intricacy, to separate things that differ from each other, and to
confine words within their most proper sense. An allegory differs from a
metaphor; and what I would chuse to call _a figure of speech_, differs
from both. I shall proceed to explain these differences. A metaphor is
defined above to be an operation of the imagination, figuring one thing
to be another. An allegory requires no operation of the imagination, nor
is one thing figured to be another: it consists in chusing a subject
having properties or circumstances resembling those of the principal
subject; and the former is described in such a manner as to represent
the latter. The subject thus represented is kept out of view; we are
left to discover it by reflection; and we are pleased with the
discovery, because it is our own work. Quintilian[26] gives the
following instance of an allegory,

    O navis, referent in mare te novi
    Fluctus. O quid agis? fortiter occupa portum.
         _Horat. lib. 1. ode 14._

and explains it elegantly in the following words: “Totusque ille Horatii
locus, quo navim pro republica, fluctuum tempestates pro bellis
civilibus, portum pro pace atque concordia, dicit.”

There cannot be a finer or more correct allegory than the following, in
which a vineyard is put for God’s own people the Jews.

     Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the
     heathen, and planted it. Thou didst cause it to take deep root, and
     it filled the land. The hills were covered with its shadow, and
     the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars. Why hast thou then
     broken down her hedges, so that all which pass do pluck her? The
     boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast doth devour
     it. Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven,
     and behold and visit this vine, and the vineyard thy right hand
     hath planted, and the branch thou madest strong for thyself.

              _Psalm 80._

In a word, an allegory is in every respect similar to an hieroglyphical
painting, excepting only, that words are used instead of colours. Their
effects are precisely the same. A hieroglyphic raises two images in the
mind; one seen, which represents one not seen. An allegory does the
same. The representative subject is described; and it is by resemblance
that we are enabled to apply the description to the subject represented.

In a figure of speech, neither is there any fiction of the imagination
employ’d, nor a representative subject introduced. A figure of speech,
as imply’d from its name, regards the expression only, not the thought;
and it may be defined, the employing a word in a sense different from
what is proper to it. Thus youth or the beginning of life, is expressed
figuratively by _morning of life_. Morning is the beginning of the day;
and it is transferred sweetly and easily to signify the beginning of any
other series, life especially, the progress of which is reckoned by

Figures of speech are reserved for a separate section; but a metaphor
and allegory are so much connected, that it is necessary to handle them
together: the rules for distinguishing the good from the bad, are common
to both. We shall therefore proceed to these rules, after adding some
examples to illustrate the nature of an allegory. Horace speaking of his
love to Pyrrha, which was now extinguished, expresses himself thus.

   ------------ Me tabulâ sacer
    Votivâ paries indicat uvida
    Suspendisse potenti
    Vestimenta maris Deo.
         _Carm. l. 1. ode 5._


    Phœbus volentem prælia me loqui,
    Victas et urbes, increpuit lyrâ:
      Ne parva Tyrrhenum per æquor
        Vela darem.
         _Carm. l. 4. ode 15._

      _Queen._ Great Lords, wise men ne’er sit and wail their loss,
    But chearly seek how to redress their harms.
    What though the mast be now blown overboard,
    The cable broke, the holding anchor lost,
    And half our sailors swallow’d in the flood?
    Yet lives our pilot still. Is’t meet, that he
    Should leave the helm, and, like a fearful lad,
    With tearful eyes add water to the sea;
    And give more strength to that which hath too much?
    While in his moan the ship splits on the rock,
    Which industry and courage might have sav’d?
    Ah, what a shame! ah, what a fault were this!
         _Third Part Henry VI. act 5. sc. 5._

      _Oroonoko._ Ha! thou hast rous’d
    The lion in his den, he stalks abroad
    And the wide forest trembles at his roar.
    I find the danger now.
         _Oroonoko, act 3. sc. 2._

The rules that govern metaphors and allegories, are of two kinds: those
of the first kind concern the construction of a metaphor or allegory,
and ascertain what are perfect and what are faulty: those of the other
kind concern the propriety or impropriety of introduction, in what
circumstances these figures may be admitted, and in what circumstances
they are out of place. I begin with rules of the first kind; some of
which coincide with those already given with respect to similes; some
are peculiar to metaphors and allegories.

And in the first place, it has been observed, that a simile cannot be
agreeable where the resemblance is either too strong or too faint. This
holds equally in a metaphor and allegory; and the reason is the same in
all. In the following instances, the resemblance is too faint to be

    _Malcolm._---- But there’s no bottom, none,
    In my voluptuousness: your wives, your daughters,
    Your matrons, and your maids, could not fill up
    The cistern of my lust.
         _Macbeth, act 4. sc. 4._

The best way to judge of this metaphor, is to convert it into a simile;
which would be bad, because there is scarce any resemblance betwixt lust
and a cistern, or betwixt enormous lust and a large cistern.


    He cannot buckle his distemper’d cause
    Within the belt of rule.
         _Macbeth, act 5. sc. 2._

There is no resemblance betwixt a distempered cause and any body that
can be confined within a belt.


    Steep me in poverty to the very lips.
         _Othello, act 4. sc. 9._

Poverty here must be conceived a fluid, which it resembles not in any

Speaking to Bolingbroke banish’d for six years.

    The sullen passage of thy weary steps
    Esteem a foil, wherein thou art to set
    The precious jewel of thy home-return.
         _Richard II. act 1. sc. 6._


    Here is a letter, lady,
    And every word in it a gaping wound
    Issuing life-blood.
         _Merchant of Venice, act 3. sc. 3._

The following metaphor is strained beyond all endurance. Timur-bec,
known to us by the name of Tamarlane the Great, writes to Bajazet
Emperor of the Ottomans in the following terms.

     Where is the monarch who dares resist us? where is the potentate
     who doth not glory in being numbered among our attendants? As for
     thee, descended from a Turcoman sailor, since the vessel of thy
     unbounded ambition hath been wreck’d in the gulf of thy self-love,
     it would be proper, that thou shouldst take in the sails of thy
     temerity, and cast the anchor of repentance in the port of
     sincerity and justice, which is the port of safety; lest the
     tempest of our vengeance make thee perish in the sea of the
     punishment thou deservest.

Such strained figures, it is observable, are not unfrequent in the
first dawn of refinement. The mind in a new enjoyment knows no bounds,
and is generally carried to excess, till experience discover the just

Secondly, whatever resemblance subjects may have, it is wrong to put one
for another if they bear no mutual proportion. Where a very high and a
very low subject are compared, the simile takes on an air of burlesk;
and the same will be the effect, where the one is imagined to be the
other, as in a metaphor, or made to represent the other, as in an

Thirdly, these figures, a metaphor in particular, ought not to be
extended to a great length, nor be crowded with many minute
circumstances; for in that case it is scarcely possible to avoid
obscurity. It is difficult, during any course of time, to support a
lively image of one thing being another. A metaphor drawn out to any
length, instead of illustrating or enlivening the principal subject,
becomes disagreeable by overstraining the mind. Cowley is extremely
licentious in this way. Take the following instance:

      Great, and wise conqu’ror, who where-e’er
      Thou com’st, dost fortify, and settle there!
      Who canst defend as well as get;
    And never hadst one quarter beat up yet;
      Now thou art in, thou ne’er will part
      With one inch of my vanquish’d heart;
    For since thou took’st it by assault from me,  }
    ’Tis garrison’d so strong with thoughts of thee}
      It fears no beauteous enemy.                 }

For the same reason, however agreeable at first long allegories may be
by their novelty, they never afford any lasting pleasure: witness the
_Fairy Queen_, which with great power of expression, variety of images,
and melody of versification, is scarce ever read a second time.

In the fourth place, the comparison carried on in a simile, being in a
metaphor sunk, and the principal subject being imagined that very thing
which it only resembles, an opportunity is furnished to describe it in
terms taken strictly or literally with respect to its imagined nature.
This suggests another rule, That in constructing a metaphor, the writer
ought to confine himself to the simplest expressions, and make use of
such words only as are applicable literally to the imagined nature of
his subject. Figurative words ought carefully to be avoided; for such
complicated images, instead of setting the principal subject in a strong
light, involve it in a cloud; and it is well if the reader, without
rejecting by the lump, endeavour patiently to gather the plain meaning,
regardless of the figures:

    A stubborn and unconquerable flame
    Creeps in his veins, and drinks the streams of life.
         _Lady Jane Gray, act 1. sc. 1._

Copied from Ovid,

    Sorbent avidæ præcordia flammæ.
         _Metamorphoses, lib. ix. 172._

Let us analize this expression. That a fever may be imagined a flame, I
admit; though more than one step is necessary to come at the
resemblance. A fever, by heating the body, resembles fire; and it is no
stretch to imagine a fever to be a fire.

Again, by a figure of speech, flame may be put for fire, because they
are commonly conjoined; and therefore a fever may also be imagined a
flame. But now admitting a fever to be a flame, its effects ought to be
explained in words that agree literally to a flame. This rule is not
observed here; for a flame _drinks_ figuratively only, not properly.

King Henry to his son Prince Henry:

    Thou hid’st a thousand daggers in thy thoughts,
    Which thou hast whetted on thy stony heart
    To stab at half an hour of my frail life.
         _Second Part Henry IV. act 4. sc. 11._

Such faulty metaphors are pleasantly ridiculed in the _Rehearsal_:

     _Physician._ Sir, to conclude, the place you fill has more than
     amply exacted the talents of a wary pilot; and all these
     threatening storms, which, like impregnate clouds, hover o’er our
     heads, will, when they once are grasp’d but by the eye of reason,
     melt into fruitful showers of blessings on the people.

     _Bayes._ Pray mark that allegory. Is not that good?

     _Johnson_. Yes, that grasping of a storm with the eye, is

              _Act 2. sc. 1._

Fifthly, The jumbling different metaphors in the same sentence, or the
beginning with one metaphor and ending with another, is commonly called
a mixt metaphor. Quintilian bears testimony against it in the bitterest
terms: “Nam id quoque in primis est custodiendum, ut quo ex genere
cœperis translationis, hoc desinas. Multi enim, cum initium a tempestate
sumpserunt, incendio aut ruina finiunt: quæ est inconsequentia rerum
fœdissima.” _L. 8. cap. 6. § 2._

    _K. Henry._---------- Will you again unknit
    This churlish knot of all-abhorred war,
    And move in that obedient orb again,
    Where you did give a fair and natural light?
         _First Part Henry IV. act 5. sc. 1._

    Whether ’tis nobler in the mind, to suffer
    The stings and arrows of outrag’ous fortune;
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
    And by opposing end them.
         _Hamlet, act 3. sc. 2._

In the sixth place, It is unpleasant to join different metaphors in the
same period, even where they are preserved distinct. It is difficult to
imagine the subject to be first one thing and then another in the same
period without interval: the mind is distracted by the rapid transition;
and when the imagination is put on such hard duty, its images are too
faint to produce any good effect:

    At regina gravi jamdudum saucia cura,
    Vulnus alit venis, et cæco carpitur igni.
         _Æneid. iv. 1._

   ------------------ Est mollis flamma medullas
    Interea, et taciturn vivit sub pectore vulnus.
         _Æneid. iv. 66._

    Motum ex Metello consule civicum,
    Bellique causas, et vitia, et modos,
      Ludumque fortunæ, gravesque
        Principum amicitias, et arma
    Nondum expiatis uncta cruoribus,
    Periculosæ plenum opus aleæ,
      Tractas, et incedis per ignes
        Subpositos cineri doloso.
         _Horat. Carm. l. 2, ode 1._

In the last place, It is still worse to jumble together metaphorical and
natural expression, or to construct a period so as that it must be
understood partly metaphorically partly literally. The imagination
cannot follow with sufficient ease changes so sudden and unprepared. A
metaphor begun and not carried on, hath no beauty; and instead of light
there is nothing but obscurity and confusion. Instances of such
incorrect composition are without number. I shall, for a specimen,
select a few from different authors:

Speaking of Britain,

    This precious stone set in the sea
    Which serves it in the office of a wall,
    Or as a moat defensive to a house
    Against the envy of less happier lands.
         _Richard II. act 2. sc. 1._

In the first line Britain is figured to be a precious stone. In the
following lines, Britain, divested of her metaphorical dress, is
presented to the reader in her natural appearance.

    These growing feathers pluck’d from Cæsar’s wing,
    Will make him fly an ordinary pitch,
    Who else would soar above the view of men,
    And keep us all in servile fearfulness.
         _Julius Cæsar, act 1. sc. 1._

    Rebus angustis animosus atque
    Fortis adpare: sapienter idem
    Contrahes vento nimium secundo
            Turgida vela.

The following is a miserable jumble of expressions, arising from an
unsteady view of the subject betwixt its figurative and natural

    But now from gath’ring clouds destruction pours,
    Which ruins with mad rage our halcyon hours:
    Mists from black jealousies the tempest form,
    Whilst late divisions reinforce the storm.
         _Dispensary, canto 3._

    To thee, the world its present homage pays,
    The harvest early, but mature the praise.
         _Pope’s imitation of Horace, b. 2._

    Oui, sa pudeur n’est que franche grimace,
    Qu’une ombre de vertu qui garde mal la place,
    Et qui s’evanouit, comme l’on peut savoir
    Aux rayons du soleil qu’une bourse fait voir.
         _Molliere, L’Etourdi, act 3. sc. 2._

    Et son feu depourvû de sense et de lecture,
    S’éteint a chaque pas, faute de nourriture.
         _Boileau, L’art poetique, chant. 3. l. 319._

Dryden, in his dedication to the translation of _Juvenal_, says,

     When thus, as I may say, before the use of the loadstone, or
     knowledge of the compass, I was sailing in a vast ocean, without
     other help than the pole-star of the ancients, and the rules of the
     French stage among the moderns, _&c._

     There is a time when factions, by the vehemence of their own
     fermentation, stun and disable one another.


This fault of jumbling the figure and plain expression into one confused
mass, is not less common in allegory than in metaphor. Take the
following example.

   ------------ Heu! quoties fidem,
    Mutatosque Deos flebit, et aspera
      Nigris æquora ventis
        Emirabitur insolens,
    Qui nunc te fruitur credulus aureâ:
    Qui semper vacuam, semper amabilem
      Sperat, nescius auræ
         _Horat. Carm. l. 1. ode 5._

Lord Halifax, speaking of the ancient fabulists: “They (says he) wrote
in signs and spoke in parables: all their fables carry a double meaning:
the story is one and entire; the characters the same throughout; not
broken or changed, and always conformable to the nature of the creature
they introduce. They never tell you, that the dog which snapp’d at a
shadow, lost his troop of horse; that would be unintelligible. This is
his (Dryden’s) new way of telling a story, and confounding the moral and
the fable together.” After instancing from the hind and panther, he goes
on thus: “What relation has the hind to our Saviour? or what notion have
we of a panther’s bible? If you say he means the church, how does the
church feed on lawns, or range in the forest? Let it be always a church
or always a cloven-footed beast, for we cannot bear his shifting the
scene every line.”

A few words more upon allegory. Nothing gives greater pleasure than this
figure, when the representative subject bears a strong analogy, in all
its circumstances, to that which is represented. But the choice is
seldom so lucky; the resemblance of the representative subject to the
principal, being generally so faint and obscure, as to puzzle and not
please. An allegory is still more difficult in painting than in poetry.
The former can show no resemblance but what appears to the eye: the
latter hath many other resources for showing the resemblance. With
respect to what the Abbé du Bos[27] terms mixt allegorical compositions,
these may do in poetry, because in writing the allegory can easily be
distinguished from the historical part: no person mistakes Virgil’s
Fame for a real being. But such a mixture in a picture is intolerable;
because in a picture the objects must appear all of the same kind,
wholly real or wholly emblematical. The history of Mary de Medicis, in
the palace of Luxenbourg, painted by Rubens, is in a vicious taste, by a
perpetual jumble of real and allegorical personages, which produce a
discordance of parts and an obscurity upon the whole: witness in
particular, the tablature representing the arrival of Mary de Medicis at
Marseilles: mixt with the real personages, the Nereids and Tritons
appear sounding their shells. Such a mixture of fiction and reality in
the same group, is strangely absurd. The picture of Alexander and
Roxana, described by Lucian, is gay and fanciful: but it suffers by the
allegorical figures. It is not in the wit of man to invent an
allegorical representation deviating farther from any appearance of
resemblance, than one exhibited by Lewis XIV. _anno_ 1664; in which an
overgrown chariot, intended to represent that of the sun, is dragg’d
along, surrounded with men and women, representing the four ages of the
world, the celestial signs, the seasons, the hours, _&c._: a monstrous
composition; and yet scarce more absurd than Guido’s tablature of

In an allegory, as well as in a metaphor, terms ought to be chosen that
properly and literally are applicable to the representative subject. Nor
ought any circumstance to be added, that is not proper to the
representative subject, however justly it may be applicable figuratively
to the principal. Upon this account the following allegory is faulty.

      Ferus et Cupido,
    Semper ardentes acuens sagittas
      Cote _cruentâ_.
         _Horat. l. 2. ode 8._

For though blood may suggest the cruelty of love, it is an improper or
immaterial circumstance in the representative subject: water, not blood,
is proper for a whetstone.

       *       *       *       *       *

We proceed to the next head, which is, to examine in what circumstances
these figures are proper, in what improper. This inquiry is not
altogether superseded by what is said upon the same subject in the
chapter of comparisons; because, upon trial, it will be found, that a
short metaphor or allegory may be proper, where a simile, drawn out to a
greater length, and in its nature more solemn, would scarce be relished.
The difference however is not considerable; and in most instances the
same rules are applicable to both. And, in the first place, a metaphor,
as well as a simile, are excluded from common conversation, and from the
description of ordinary incidents.

In the next place, in any severe passion which totally occupies the
mind, metaphor is unnatural. For that reason, we must condemn the
following speech of Macbeth.

    Methought, I heard a voice cry, Sleep no more!
    Macbeth doth murther sleep; the innocent sleep;
    Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleeve of Care,
    The birth of each day’s life, sore Labour’s bath,
    Balm of hurt minds, great Nature’s second course,
    Chief nourisher in life’s feast.----
         _Act 2. sc. 3._

The next example, of deep despair, beside the highly figurative style,
hath more the air of raving than of sense:

    _Calista._ Is it the voice of thunder, or my father?
    Madness! Confusion! let the storm come on,
    Let the tumultuous roar drive all upon me,
    Dash my devoted bark; ye surges, break it;
    ’Tis for my ruin that the tempest rises.
    When I am lost, sunk to the bottom low,
    Peace shall return, and all be calm again.
         _Fair Penitent, act 4._

The metaphor I next introduce, is sweet and lively, but it suits not the
fiery temper of Chamont, inflamed with passion. Parables are not the
language of wrath venting itself without restraint:

    _Chamont._ You took her up a little tender flower,
    Just sprouted on a bank, which the next frost
    Had nip’d; and with a careful loving hand,
    Transplanted her into your own fair garden,
    Where the sun always shines: there long she flourish’d,
    Grew sweet to sense and lovely to the eye,
    Till at the last a cruel spoiler came,
    Cropt this fair rose, and rifled all its sweetness,
    Then cast it like a loathsome weed away.
         _Orphan, act 4._

The following speech, full of imagery, is not natural in grief and
dejection of mind.

    _Gonsalez._ O my son! from the blind dotage
    Of a father’s fondness these ills arose.
    For thee I’ve been ambitious, base and bloody:
    For thee I’ve plung’d into this sea of sin;
    Stemming the tide with only one weak hand,
    While t’other bore the crown, (to wreathe thy brow),
    Whose weight has sunk me ere I reach’d the shore.
         _Mourning Bride, act 5. sc. 6._

The finest picture that ever was drawn of deep distress, is in
Macbeth[28], where Macduff is represented lamenting his wife and
children, inhumanly murdered by the tyrant. Struck with the news, he
questions the messenger over and over; not that he doubted the fact, but
that his heart revolted against so cruel a misfortune. After struggling
some time with his grief, he turns from his wife and children to their
savage butcher; and then gives vent to his resentment; but still with
manliness and dignity:

    O, I could play the woman with mine eyes,
    And braggart with my tongue. But, gentle Heav’n!
    Cut short all intermission: front to front
    Bring thou this fiend of Scotland and myself;
    Within my sword’s length set him---- If he ’scape,
    Then Heav’n forgive him too.

This passage is a delicious picture of human nature. One expression only
seems doubtful. In examining the messenger, Macduff expresses himself

    He hath no children---- all my pretty ones!
    Did you say all? what all? Oh, hell-kite! all?
    What! all my pretty little chickens and their dam,
    At one fell swoop!

Metaphorical expression, I am sensible, may sometimes be used with
grace, where a regular simile would be intolerable: but there are
situations so overwhelming, as not to admit even the slightest metaphor.
It requires great delicacy of taste to determine with firmness, whether
the present case be of that nature. I incline to think it is; and yet I
would not willingly alter a single word of this admirable scene.

But metaphorical language is proper when a man struggles to bear with
dignity or decency a misfortune however great. The struggle agitates and
animates the mind:

    _Wolsey._ Farewell, a long farewell, to all my greatness!
    This is the state of man; to-day he puts forth
    The tender leaves of hopes; to-morrow blossoms,
    And bears his blushing honours thick upon him;
    The third day comes a frost, a killing frost,
    And when he thinks, good easy man, full surely
    His greatness is a ripening, nips his root,
    And then he falls as I do.
         _Henry VIII. act 3. sc. 6._


_Figure of Speech._

In the section immediately foregoing, a figure of speech is defined,
“The employing a word in a sense different from what is proper to it;”
and the new or uncommon sense of the word is termed _the figurative
sense_. The figurative sense must have a relation to that which is
proper; and the more intimate the relation is, the figure is the more
happy. How ornamental this figure is to language, will not be readily
imagined by any one who hath not given peculiar attention. I shall
endeavour to display its capital beauties and advantages. In the first
place, a word used figuratively, together with its new sense, suggests
what it commonly bears: and thus it has the effect to present two
objects; one signified by the figurative sense, which may be termed _the
principal object_; and one signified by the proper sense, which may be
termed _accessory_. The principal makes a part of the thought; the
accessory is merely ornamental. In this respect, a figure of speech is
precisely similar to concordant sounds in music, which, without
contributing to the melody, make it harmonious. I explain myself by
examples. _Youth_, by a figure of speech, is termed _the morning of
life_. This expression signifies _youth_, the principal object, which
enters into the thought: but it suggests, at the same time, the proper
sense of _morning_; and this accessory object being in itself beautiful
and connected by resemblance to the principal object, is not a little
ornamental. I give another example, of a different kind, where an
attribute is expressed figuratively, _Imperious ocean_. Together with
the figurative meaning of the epithet _imperious_, there is suggested
its proper meaning, _viz._ the stern authority of a despotic prince.
Upon this figurative power of words, Vida descants with great elegance:

    Nonne vides, verbis ut veris sæpe relictis
    Accersant simulata, aliundeque nomina porro
    Transportent, aptentque aliis ea rebus; ut ipsæ,
    Exuviasque novas, res, insolitosque colores
    Indutæ, sæpe externi mirentur amictus
    Unde illi, lætæque aliena luce fruantur,
    Mutatoque habitu, nec jam sua nomina mallent?
    Sæpe ideo, cum bella canunt, incendia credas
    Cernere, diluviumque ingens surgentibus undis.
    Contrà etiam Martis pugnas imitabitur ignis,
    Cum surit accensis acies Vulcania campis.
    Nec turbato oritur quondam minor æquore pugna:
    Confligunt animosi Euri certamine vasto
    Inter se, pugnantque adversis molibus undæ.
    Usque adeo passim sua res insignia lætæ
    Permutantque, juvantque vicissim; & mutua sese
    Altera in alterius transformat protinus ora.
    Tum specie capti gaudent spectare legentes:
    Nam diversa simul datur è re cernere eadem
    Multarum simulacra animo subeuntia rerum.
         _Poet. lib. 3. l. 44._

In the next place, this figure possesses a signal power of aggrandising
an object, by the following means. Words, which have no original beauty
but what arises from their sound, acquire an adventitious beauty from
their meaning. A word signifying any thing that is agreeable, becomes by
that means agreeable; for the agreeableness of the object is
communicated to its name[29]. This acquired beauty, by the force of
custom, adheres to the word even when used figuratively; and the beauty
received from the thing it properly signifies, is communicated to the
thing which it is made to signify figuratively. Consider the foregoing
expression _Imperious ocean_, how much more elevated it is than _Stormy

Thirdly, this figure hath a happy effect in preventing the familiarity
of proper names. The familiarity of a proper name, is communicated to
the thing it signifies by means of their intimate connection; and the
thing is thereby brought down in our feeling[30]. This bad effect is
prevented by using a figurative word instead of one that is proper; as,
for example, when we express the sky by terming it _the blue vault of
heaven_. For though no work made with hands can compare with the sky in
magnificence, the expression however is good, by preventing the object
from being brought down by the familiarity of its proper name. With
respect to the degrading familiarity of proper names, Vida has the
following passage.

    Hinc si dura mihi passus dicendus Ulysses,
    Non illum vero memorabo nomine, sed qui
    Et mores hominum multorum vidit, & urbes,
    Naufragus eversæ post sæva incendia Trojæ.
         _Poet. lib. 2. l. 46._

Lastly, by this figure language is enriched and rendered more copious.
In that respect, were there no other, a figure of speech is a happy
invention. This property is finely touched by Vida:

    Quinetiam agricolas ea fandi nota voluptas
    Exercet, dum læta seges, dum trudere gemmas
    Incipiunt vites, sitientiaque ætheris imbrem
    Prata bibunt, ridentque satis surgentibus agri.
    Hanc vulgo speciem propriæ penuria vocis
    Intulit, indictisque urgens in rebus egestas.
    Quippe ubi se vera ostendebant nomina nusquam,
    Fas erat hinc atque hinc transferre simillima veris.
         _Poet. lib. 3. l. 90._

The beauties I have mentioned belong to every figure of speech. Several
other beauties peculiar to one or other sort, I shall have occasion to
remark afterward.

       *       *       *       *       *

Not only subjects, but qualities, actions, effects, may be expressed
figuratively. Thus as to subjects, _the gates of breath_ for the lips,
_the watery kingdom_ for the ocean. As to qualities, _fierce_ for
stormy, in the expression _Fierce winter_: _altus_ for profundus, _altus
puteus, altum mare_: _Breathing_ for perspiring, _Breathing plants_.
Again, as to actions, the sea _rages_: Time will _melt_ her frozen
thoughts: Time _kills_ grief. An effect is put for the cause, as _lux_
for the sun; and a cause for the effect, as _boum labores_ for corn. The
relation of resemblance is one plentiful source of figures of speech;
and nothing is more common than to apply to one object the name of
another that resembles it in any respect. Height, size, and worldly
greatness, though in themselves they have no resemblance, produce
emotions in the mind that have a resemblance; and, led by this
resemblance, we naturally express worldly greatness by height or size.
One feels a certain uneasiness in looking down to a great depth: and
hence depth is made to express any thing disagreeable by excess; as
_depth_ of grief, _depth_ of despair. Again, height of place and time
long past, produce similar feelings; and hence the expression, _Ut
altius repetam_. Distance in past time, producing a strong feeling, is
put for any strong feeling: _Nihil mihi antiquius nostra amicitia._
Shortness with relation to space, for shortness with relation to time:
_Brevis esse laboro; obscurus fio_. Suffering a punishment resembles
paying a debt: hence _pendere pœnas_. Upon the same account, light may
be put for glory, sun-shine for prosperity, and weight for importance.

Many words, originally figurative, having, by long and constant use,
lost their figurative power, are degraded to the inferior rank of proper
terms. Thus the words that express the operations of the mind, have in
all languages been originally figurative. The reason holds in all, that
when these operations came first under consideration, there was no other
way of describing them but by what they resembled. It was not
practicable to give them proper names, as may be done to objects that
can be ascertained by sight and touch. A _soft_ nature, _jarring_
tempers, _weight_ of wo, _pompous_ phrase, _beget_ compassion, _assuage_
grief, _break_ a vow, _bend_ the eye downward, _shower_ down curses,
_drown’d_ in tears, _wrapt_ in joy, _warm’d_ with eloquence, _loaden_
with spoils, and a thousand other expressions of the like nature, have
lost their figurative sense. Some terms there are, that cannot be said
to be either purely figurative or altogether proper: originally
figurative, they are tending to simplicity, without having lost
altogether their figurative power. Virgil’s _Regina saucia cura_, is
perhaps one of these expressions. With ordinary readers, _saucia_ will
be considered as expressing simply the effect of grief; but one of a
lively imagination will exalt the phrase into a figure.

To epitomise this subject, and at the same time to give a clear view of
it, I cannot think of a better method, than to present to the reader a
list of the several relations upon which figures of speech are commonly
founded. This list I divide into two tables; one of subjects expressed
figuratively, and one of attributes.


_Subjects expressed figuratively._

1. A word proper to one subject employed figuratively to express a
resembling subject.

There is no figure of speech so frequent, as what is derived from the
relation of resemblance. Youth, for example, is signified figuratively
by the _morning_ of life. The life of a man resembles a natural day in
several particulars. The morning is the beginning of day, youth the
beginning of life: the morning is chearful, so is youth; &c. By another
resemblance, a bold warrior is termed the _thunderbolt_ of war; a
multitude of troubles, a _sea_ of troubles.

No other figure of speech possesses so many different beauties, as that
which is founded on resemblance. Beside the beauties above mentioned,
common to all sorts, it possesses in particular the beauty of a metaphor
or of a simile. A figure of speech built upon resemblance, suggests
always a comparison betwixt the principal subject and the accessory; and
by this means every good effect of a metaphor or simile, may, in a short
and lively manner, be produced by this figure of speech.

2. A word proper to the effect employ’d figuratively to express the

_Lux_ for the sun. _Shadow_ for cloud. A helmet is signified by the
expression _glittering terror_. A tree by _shadow_ or _umbrage_. Hence
the expression,

    Nec habet Pelion umbras.

    Where the dun umbrage hangs.
         _Spring, l. 1023._

A wound is made to signify an arrow:

    Vulnere non pedibus te consequar.

There is a peculiar force and beauty in this figure. The word which
signifies figuratively the principal subject, denotes it to be a cause
by suggesting the effect.

3. A word proper to the cause, employ’d figuratively to express the

_Boumque labores_ for corn. _Sorrow_ or _grief_ for tears.

    Again Ulysses veil’d his pensive head,
    Again unmann’d, a show’r of _sorrow_ shed.

    Streaming _Grief_ his faded cheek bedew’d.

_Blindness_ for darkness:

    Cæcis erramus in undis.
         _Æneid. iii. 200._

There is a peculiar energy in this figure similar to that in the former.
The figurative name denotes the subject to be an effect by suggesting
its cause.

4. Two things being intimately connected, the proper name of the one
employ’d figuratively to signify the other.

_Day_ for light. _Night_ for darkness. Hence, A sudden night. _Winter_
for a storm at sea.

    Interea magno misceri murmure pontum,
    Emissamque Hyemem sensit Neptunus.
         _Æneid. i. 128._

This last figure would be too bold for a British writer, as a storm at
sea is not inseparably connected with winter in this climate.

5. A word proper to an attribute employ’d figuratively to denote the

_Youth_ and _beauty_ for those who are young and beautiful:

    Youth and beauty shall be laid in dust.

_Majesty_ for the King:

    What art thou, that usurp’st this time of night,
    Together with that fair and warlike form,
    In which the _Majesty_ of buried Denmark
    Did sometime march?
         _Hamlet, act 1. sc. 1._

   -------- Or have ye chosen this place,
    After the toils of battle, to repose
    Your weary’d _virtue_?
         _Paradise Lost._
    _Verdure_ for a green field. _Summer. l. 301._

Speaking of cranes:

    To pigmy nations wounds and death they bring,
    And all the _war_ descends upon the wing.
         _Iliad_ iii. 10.

    Cool _age_ advances venerably wise.
         _Iliad_ iii. 149.

The peculiar beauty of this figure arises from suggesting an attribute
that embellishes the subject, or puts it in a stronger light.

6. A complex term employ’d figuratively to denote one of the component

_Funus_ for a dead body. _Burial_ for a grave.

7. The name of one of the component parts instead of the complex term.

_Tœda_ for a marriage. The _East_ for a country situated east from us.
_Jovis vestigia servat_, for imitating Jupiter in general.

8. A word signifying time or place employ’d figuratively to denote a
connected subject.

_Clime_ for a nation, or for a constitution of government: Hence the
expression, _Merciful clime_. _Fleecy winter_ for snow. _Seculum felix._

9. A part for the whole.

The _pole_ for the earth. The _head_ for the person.

    Triginta minas pro capite tuo dedi.

_Tergum_ for the man:

    Fugiens tergum.

_Vultus_ for the man:

    Jam fulgor armorum fugaces
    Terret equos, equitumque vultus.

    Quis desiderio sit pudor aut modus
    Tam chari _capitis_?

    Dumque virent _genua_.


    Thy growing virtues justify’d my cares,
    And promis’d comfort to my _silver hairs_.
         _Iliad_ ix. 616.

   ----Forthwith from the pool he rears
    His mighty _stature_.
         _Paradise Lost._

    The silent _heart_ which grief assails.

The peculiar beauty of this figure consists in marking out that part
which makes the greatest figure.

10. The name of the container employ’d figuratively to signify what is

_Grove_ for the birds in it: Vocal _grove_. _Ships_ for the seamen:
Agonizing _ships_. _Mountains_ for the sheep pasturing upon them:
Bleating _mountains_. _Zacynthus, Ithaca, &c._ for the inhabitants. _Ex
mœstis domibus._ Livy.

11. The name of the sustainer employ’d figuratively to signify what is

_Altar_ for the sacrifice. _Field_ for the battle fought upon it:
Well-fought _field_.

12. The name of the materials employ’d figuratively to signify the
things made of them.

_Ferrum_ for _gladius_.

13. The names of the Heathen deities employ’d figuratively to signify
what they patronise.

_Jove_ for the air. _Mars_ for war. _Venus_ for beauty. _Cupid_ for
love. _Ceres_ for corn. _Neptune_ for the sea. _Vulcan_ for fire.

This figure bestows great elevation upon the subject; and therefore
ought to be confined to the higher strains of poetry.


_Attributes expressed figuratively._

1. When two attributes are connected, the name of the one may be
employ’d figuratively to express the other.

Purity and virginity are attributes of the same person. Hence the
expression, _Virgin_ snow for pure snow.

2. A word signifying properly an attribute of one subject, employ’d
figuratively to express a resembling attribute of another subject.

_Tottering_ state. _Imperious_ ocean. _Angry_ flood. _Raging_ tempest.
_Shallow_ fears.

    My sure divinity shall bear the shield,
    And edge thy sword to _reap_ the glorious field.
         _Odyssey_ xx. 61.

_Black omen_, for an omen that portends bad fortune:

    _Ater_ odor.

The peculiar beauty of this figure arises from suggesting a comparison.

3. A word proper to the subject, employ’d to express one of its

    _Mens_ for _intellectus_. _Mens_ for a resolution.

    Istam, oro, exue mentem.

4. When two subjects have a resemblance by a common quality, the name of
the one subject may be employ’d figuratively to denote that quality in
the other.

    _Summer_ life for agreeable life.

5. The name of the instrument, made to signify the power of employing

   ---- Melpomene, cui liquidam pater
    Vocem cum _cithara_ dedit.

The ample field of figurative expression display’d in these tables,
affords great scope for reasoning and reflection. Several of the
observations relating to metaphor, are applicable to figures of speech.
These I shall slightly retouch, with some additions peculiarly adapted
to the present subject.

In the first place, as the figure under consideration is built upon
relation, we find from experience, and it must be obvious from reason,
that the beauty of the figure depends on the intimacy of the relation
betwixt the figurative and proper sense of the word. A slight
resemblance, in particular, will never make this figure agreeable. The
expression, for example, _drink down a secret_, for listening to a
secret with attention, is harsh and uncouth, because there is scarce any
resemblance betwixt _listening_ and _drinking_. The expression _weighty
crack_, used by Ben Johnson for _loud crack_, is worse if possible: a
loud sound has not the slightest resemblance to a piece of matter that
is weighty. The following expression of Lucretius is not less faulty.
“Et lepido quæ sunt _fucata_ sonore.” i. 645.

   ---------------- Sed magis
    Pugnas et exactos tyrannos
    Densum humeris _bibit_ aure vulgus.
         _Horat. Carm. l. 2. ode 13._

    Phemius! let acts of gods, and heroes old,
    What ancient bards in hall and bow’r have told,
    Attemper’d to the lyre, your voice employ,
    Such the pleas’d _ear will drink_ with silent joy,
         _Odyssey_ i. 433.

    Strepitumque exterritus _hausit_.
         _Æneid._ vi. 559.

   ------------ Write, my Queen,
    And with mine eyes I’ll _drink_ the words you send.
         _Cymbeline, act 1. sc. 2._

    As thus th’ effulgence tremulous I _drink_.
         _Summer, l. 1684._

    Neque _audit_ currus habenas.
         _Georg._ i. 514.

    O Prince! (Lycaon’s valiant son reply’d)
    As thine the steeds, be thine the task to guide.
    The horses practis’d to their lord’s command,
    Shall _hear_ the rein, and answer to thy hand.
         _Iliad._ v. 288.

The following figures of speech seem altogether wild and extravagant,
the figurative and proper meaning having no connection whatever.
_Moving_ softness, freshness _breathes_, _breathing_ prospect, _flowing_
spring, _dewy_ light, _lucid_ coolness, and many others of this false
coin may be found in Thomson’s _Seasons_.

Secondly, the proper sense of the word ought to bear some proportion to
the figurative sense, and not soar much above it, nor sink much below
it. This rule, as well as the foregoing, is finely illustrated by Vida:

    Hæc adeo cum sint, cum fas audere poetis
    Multa modis multis; tamen observare memento,
    Si quando haud propriis rem mavis dicere verbis,
    Translatisque aliunde notis, longeque petitis,
    Ne nimiam ostendas, quærendo talia, curam.
    Namque aliqui exercent vim duram, et rebus iniqui
    Nativam eripiunt formam, indignantibus ipsis,
    Invitasque jubent alienos sumere vultus.
    Haud magis imprudens mihi erit, et luminis expers,
    Qui puero ingentes habitus det ferre gigantis,
    Quam siquis stabula alta lares appellet equinos,
    Aut crines magnæ genitricis gramina dicat.
         _Poet. l. iii. 148._

Thirdly, in a figure of speech, every circumstance ought to be avoided
that agrees with the proper sense only, not the figurative sense; for it
is the latter that expresses the thought, and the former serves for no
other purpose but to make harmony:

    Zacynthus green with ever-shady groves,
    And Ithaca, presumptuous boast their loves;
    Obtruding on my choice a second lord,
    They press the Hymenean rite abhorr’d.
         _Odyssey_ xix. 152.

Zacynthus here standing figuratively for the inhabitants, the
description of the island is quite out of place. It puzzles the reader,
by making him doubt whether the word ought to be taken in its proper or
figurative sense.

   ---------------- Write, my Queen,
    And with mine eyes I’ll drink the words you send,
    Though ink be made of gall.
         _Cymbeline, act 1. sc. 2._

The disgust one has to drink ink in reality, is nothing to the purpose
where the subject is drinking ink figuratively.

In the fourth place, to draw consequences from a figure of speech, as if
the word were to be understood literally, is a gross absurdity, for it
is confounding truth with fiction:

    Be Moubray’s sins so heavy in his bosom,
    That they may break his foaming courser’s back,
    And throw the rider headlong in the lists,
    A caitiff recreant to my cousin Hereford.
         _Richard II. act 1. sc. 3._

Sin may be imagined heavy in a figurative sense: but weight in a proper
sense belongs to the accessory only; and therefore to describe the
effects of weight, is to desert the principal subject, and to convert
the accessory into a principal.

    _Cromwell._ How does your Grace?

    _Wolsey._ Why, well;
    Never so truly happy, my good Cromwell.
    I know myself now, and I feel within me
    A peace above all earthly dignities,
    A still and quiet conscience. The King has cur’d me,
    I humbly thank his Grace; and, from these shoulders,
    These ruin’d pillars, out of pity taken
    A load would sink a navy, too much honour.
         _Henry VIII. act 3. sc. 6._

Ulysses speaking of Hector:

    I wonder now how yonder city stands
    When we have here the base and pillar by us.
         _Troilus and Cressida, act 4. sc. 9._

     _Othello._ No, my heart is turn’d to stone: I strike it and it
     hurts my hand.

              _Othello, act 4. sc. 5._

    Not less, even in this despicable now,
    Than when my name fill’d Afric with affrights,
    And froze your hearts beneath your torrid zone.
         _Don Sebastian King of Portugal, act 1._

    How long a space, since first I lov’d, it is!
      To look into a glass I fear,
    And am surpris’d with wonder, when I miss
      Grey hairs and wrinkles there.
         _Cowley, vol. 1. p. 86._

    I chose the flourishing’st tree in all the park
      With freshest boughs, and fairest head;
    I cut my love into his gentle bark,
      And in three days behold ’tis dead;
    My very written flames so violent be,
    They’ve burnt and wither’d up the tree.
         _Cowley, vol. 1. p. 136._

    Ah, mighty Love, that it were inward heat
    Which made this precious Limbeck sweat!
      But what, alas, ah what does it avail
    That she weeps tears so wond’rous cold,
    As scarce the asses hoof can hold,
      So cold, that I admire they fall not hail.
         _Cowley, vol. 1. p. 132._

    Je crains que cette saison
    Ne nous amenne la peste;
    La gueule du chien celeste
    Vomit feu sur l’horison.
    A fin que je m’en délivre,
    Je veux lire ton gros livre
    Jusques au dernier feüillet:
    Tout ce que ta plume trace,
    Robinet, a de la glace
    A faire trembler Juillet.

    In me tota ruens Venus
      Cyprum deseruit.
         _Horat. Carm. lib. 1. ode. 19._

    _Almeria._ O Alphonso, Alphonso!
    Devouring seas have wash’d thee from my sight,
    No time shall rase thee from my memory;
    No, I will live to be thy monument:
    The cruel ocean is no more thy tomb;
    But in my heart thou art interr’d.
         _Mourning Bride, act 1. sc. 1._

This would be very right, if there were any inconsistence in being
interred in one place really and in another place figuratively.

From considering that a word employ’d in a figurative sense suggests at
the same time its proper meaning, a fifth rule occurs, That to raise a
figure of speech, we ought to use no word, the proper sense of which is
inconsistent or incongruous with the subject: for no incongruity, far
less inconsistency, whether real or imagined, ought to enter into the
expression of any subject:

    Interea genitor Tyberini ad fluminis undam
    Vulnera _siccabat_ lymphis----
         _Æneid. x. 833._

    Tres adeo incertos cæca caligine _soles_
    Erramus pelago, totidem sine sidere noctes.
         _Æneid_. iii. 203.

The foregoing rule may be extended to form a sixth, That no epithet
ought to be given to the figurative sense of a word that agrees not also
with its proper sense:

   -------- Dicat Opuntiæ
    Frater Megillæ, quo _beatus_
         _Horat. Carm. lib. 1. ode 27._

    Parcus deorum cultor, et infrequens,
    _Insanientis_ dum sapientiæ
    Consultus erro.
         _Horat. Carm. lib. 1. ode 34._

Seventhly, The crowding into one period or thought different figures of
speech, is not less faulty than crowding metaphors in that manner. The
mind is distracted in the quick transition from one image to another,
and is puzzled instead of being pleased:

    I am of ladies most deject and wretched,
    That suck’d the honey of his music vows.

    My bleeding bosom sickens at the sound.
         _Odyss._ i. 439.

   ---------------- Ah miser,
      Quantâ laboras in _Charybdi_!
        Digne puer meliore _flammâ_.
    Quæ saga, quis te solvere Thessalis
    Magus _venenis_, quis poterit deus?
      Vix illigatum te triformi
        Pegasus expediet _Chimærâ_.
         _Horat. Carm. lib. 1. ode 27._

Eighthly, If crowding figures be bad, it is still worse to graft one
figure upon another. For instance,

    While his keen falchion drinks the warriors lives.
         _Iliad_ xi. 211.

A falchion drinking the warriors blood is a figure built upon
resemblance, which is passable. But then in the expression, _lives_ is
again put for blood; and by thus grafting one figure upon another the
expression is rendered obscure and unpleasant.

Ninthly, Intricate and involved figures, that can scarce be analized or
reduced to plain language, are least of all tolerable:

    Votis incendimus aras.
         _Æneid._ iii. 279.

   ---- Onerantque canistris
    Dona laboratæ Cereris.
         _Æneid._ viii. 180.

Vulcan to the Cyclopes,

    Arma acri facienda viro: nunc viribus usus,
    Nunc manibus rapidis, omni nunc arte magistra:
    _Præcipitate_ moras.
         _Æneid._ viii. 441.

   -------- Huic gladio, perque ærea suta
    Per tunicam squalentem auro, latus _haurit_ apertum.
         _Æneid._ x. 313.

      Semotique prius tarda necessitas
    Lethi, corripuit gradum.
         _Horat. Carm. lib. 1. ode 3._

    Scribêris Vario fortis, et hostium
    Victor, Mæonii carminis _alite_.
         _Horat. Carm. lib. 1. ode 6._

    Else shall our fates be number’d with the dead.
         _Iliad_ v. 294.

    Commutual death the fate of war confounds.
         _Iliad viii. 85. and xi. 117._

Speaking of Proteus,

    Instant he wears, elusive of the rape,
    The mimic force of every savage shape.
         _Odyss._ iv. 563.

    Rolling convulsive on the floor, is seen
    The piteous object of a prostrate Queen.
         _Ibid._ iv. 952.

    The mingling tempest waves its gloom.
         _Autumn_, 337.

    A various sweetness swells the gentle race.
         _Ibid._ 640.

    A sober calm fleeces unbounded ether.
         _Ibid._ 967.

    The distant water-fall swells in the breeze.
         _Winter_, 738.

In the tenth place, When a subject is introduced by its proper name, it
is absurd to attribute to it the properties of a different subject to
which the word is sometimes apply’d in a figurative sense:

    Hear me, oh Neptune! thou whose arms are hurl’d
    From shore to shore, and gird the solid world.
         _Odyss._ ix. 617.

Neptune is here introduced personally, and not figuratively for the
ocean: the description therefore, which is only applicable to the ocean,
is altogether improper.

It is not sufficient, that a figure of speech be regularly constructed,
and be free from blemish: it requires taste to discern when it is proper
when improper; and taste, I suspect, is the only guide we can rely on.
One however may gather from reflection and experience, that ornaments
and graces suit not any of the dispiriting passions, nor are proper for
expressing any thing grave and important. In familiar conversation, they
are in some measure ridiculous. Prospero in the _Tempest_, speaking to
his daughter Miranda, says,

    The fringed curtains of thine eyes advance,
    And say what thou seest yond.

No exception can be taken to the justness of the figure; and
circumstances may be imagined to make it proper: but it is certainly not
proper in familiar conversation.

In the last place, though figures of speech have a charming effect when
accurately constructed and properly introduced, they ought however to be
scattered with a sparing hand: nothing is more luscious, and nothing
consequently more satiating, than redundant ornament of any kind.


Narration and Description.

Horace, and many writers after him, give instructions for chusing a
subject adapted to the genius of the author. But rules of criticism
would be endless, did one descend to peculiarities in talent or genius.
The aim of the present work is, to consider human nature in general, and
to explore what is common to the species. The choice of a subject comes
not under such a plan: but the manner of execution comes under it;
because the manner of execution is subjected to general rules. These
rules respect the things expressed, as well as the language or
expression; which suggests a division of the present chapter into two
parts; first of thoughts, and next of words. I pretend not to justify
this division as entirely accurate. In discoursing of the thoughts, it
is difficult to abstract altogether from words; and still more
difficult, in discoursing of the words, to abstract altogether from

The first observation is, That the thoughts which embellish a narration
ought to be chaste and solid. While the mind is intent upon facts, it is
little disposed to the operarations of the imagination. Poetical images
in a grave history are intolerable; and yet Strada’s Belgic history is
full of poetical images. These being discordant with the subject, are
disgustful; and they have a still worse effect, by giving an air of
fiction to a genuine history. Such flowers ought to be scattered with a
sparing hand, even in epic poetry; and at no rate are they proper, till
the reader be warmed, and by an enlivened imagination be prepared to
relish them: in that state of mind, they are extremely agreeable. But
while we are sedate and attentive to an historical chain of facts, we
reject with disdain every fiction. This Belgic history is indeed wofully
vicious both in matter and form: it is stuffed with frigid and
unmeaning reflections, as well as with poetical flashes, which, even
laying aside the impropriety, are mere tinsel.

Vida[31], following Horace, recommends a modest commencement of an epic
poem; giving for a reason, that the writer ought to husband his fire.
This reason has weight; but what is said above suggests a reason still
more weighty: Bold thoughts and figures are never relished till the mind
be heated and thoroughly engaged, which is not the reader’s case at the
commencement. Shakespear, in the first part of his history of Henry VI.
begins with a sentiment too bold for the most heated imagination:

    _Bedford._ Hung be the heav’ns with black, yield day to night!
    Comets, importing change of times and states,
    Brandish your crystal tresses in the sky,
    And with them scourge the bad revolting stars,
    That have consented unto Henry’s death!

    Henry the Fifth, too famous to live long!
    England ne’er lost a king of so much worth.

The passage with which Strada begins his history, is too poetical for a
subject of that kind; and at any rate too high for the beginning of a
grave performance. A third reason ought to have not less influence than
either of the former: A man who, upon his first appearance, endeavours
to exhibit all his talents, is never relished; the first periods of a
work ought therefore to be short, natural, and simple. Cicero, in his
oration _pro Archia poeta_, errs against this rule: his reader is out of
breath at the very first period, which seems never to end. Burnet begins
the history of his own times with a period long and intricate.

A third rule or observation is, That where the subject is intended for
entertainment solely, not for instruction, a thing ought to be described
as it appears, not as it is in reality. In running, for example, the
impulse upon the ground is accurately proportioned to the celerity of
motion: in appearance it is otherwise; for a person in swift motion
seems to skim the ground, and scarcely to touch it. Virgil, with great
taste, describes quick running according to its appearance; and thereby
raises an image far more lively, than it could have been by adhering
scrupulously to truth:

    Hos super advenit Volsca de gente Camilla,
    Agmen agens equitum et florentes ære catervas,
    Bellatrix: non illa colo calathisve Minervæ
    Fœmineas assueta manus; sed prælia virgo
    Dura pati, cursuque pedum prævertere ventos.
    Illa vel intactæ segetis per summa volaret
    Gramina: nec teneras cursu læsisset aristas:
    Vel mare per medium, fluctu suspensa tumenti,
    Ferret iter; celeres nec tingeret æquore plantas.
         _Æneid_ vii. 803.

This example is copied by the author of _Telemachus_:

     Les Brutiens sont legeres à la course comme les cerfs, et comme les
     daims. On croiroit que l’herbe même la plus tendre n’est point
     foulée sous leurs pieds; à peine laissent ils dans le sable
     quelques traces de leurs pas.

              _Liv._ 10.


     Déja il avoit abattu Eusilas si léger à la course, qu’à peine il
     imprimoit la trace de ses pas dans le sable, et qui devançoit dans
     son pays les plus rapides flots de l’ Eurotas et de l’ Alphée.

              _Liv._ 20.

Fourthly, In narration as well as in description, facts and objects
ought to be painted so accurately as to form in the mind of the reader
distinct and lively images. Every useless circumstance ought indeed to
be suppressed, because every such circumstance loads the narration; but
if a circumstance be necessary, however slight, it cannot be described
too minutely. The force of language consists in raising complete
images[32]; which cannot be done till the reader, forgetting himself, be
transported as by magic into the very place and time of the important
action, and be converted, as it were, into a real spectator, beholding
every thing that passes. In this view, the narrative in an epic poem
ought to rival a picture in the liveliness and accuracy of its
representations: no circumstance must be omitted that tends to make a
complete image; because an imperfect image, as well as any other
imperfect conception, is cold and uninteresting. I shall illustrate this
rule by several examples, giving the first place to a beautiful passage
from Virgil.

    Qualis _populeâ_ mœrens Philomela sub umbrâ
    Amissos queritur fœtus, quos durus _arator_
    Observans nido _implumes_ detraxit.
         _Georg. lib. 4. l. 511._

The poplar, plowman, and unfledged, though not essential in the
description, are circumstances that tend to make a complete image, and
upon that account are an embellishment.


    Hic viridem Æneas _frondenti ex ilice_ metam
    Constituit, signum nautis.
         _Æneid._ v. 129.

Horace, addressing to Fortune:

    Te pauper ambit sollicita prece
    Ruris colonus: te dominam æquoris,
      Quicumque Bithynâ lacessit
        Carpathium pelagus carinâ.
         _Carm. lib. 1. ode 35._

   ---- Illum ex mœnibus hosticis
      Matrona bellantis tyranni
        Prospiciens, et adulta virgo,
    Suspiret: Eheu, ne rudis agminum
    Sponsus lacessat regius asperum
      Tactu leonem, quem cruenta
        Per medias rapit ira cædes.
         _Carm. lib. 3. ode 2._

Shakespear says[33], “You may as well go about to turn the sun to ice by
fanning in his face with _a peacock’s_ feather.” The peacock’s feather,
not to mention the beauty of the object, completes the image. An
accurate image cannot be formed of this fanciful operation, without
conceiving a particular feather; and the mind is at some loss, when this
is not specified in the decription. Again, “The rogues slighted me into
the river with as little remorse, as they would have drown’d a bitch’s
blind puppies, fifteen i’ th’ litter[34].”

    _Old Lady._ You would not be a queen?

    _Anne._ No not for all the riches under heaven.

    _Old Lady._ ’Tis strange: a three-pence bow’d
    would hire me, old as I am, to queen it.
         _Henry VIII. act 2. sc. 5._

In the following passage, the action, with all its material
circumstances, is represented so much to the life, that it could not be
better conceived by a real spectator; and it is this manner of
description which contributes greatly to the sublimity of the passage.

    He spake; and to confirm his words, out-flew
    Millions of flaming swords, drawn from the thighs
    Of mighty cherubim: the sudden blaze
    Far round illumin’d hell: highly they rag’d
    Against the Highest, and fierce with grasped arms,
    Clash’d on their sounding shields the din of war,
    Hurling defiance toward the vault of heav’n.
         _Milton, b. I._

A passage I am to cite from Shakespear, falls not much short of that now
mentioned in particularity of description:

    O you hard hearts! you cruel men of Rome!
    Knew you not Pompey? Many a time and oft
    Have you climb’d up to walls and battlements,
    To towers and windows, yea, to chimney-tops,
    Your infants in your arms; and there have sat
    The live-long day with patient expectation
    To see great Pompey pass the streets of Rome.
    And when you saw his chariot but appear,
    Have you not made an universal shout,
    That Tyber trembled underneath his banks,
    To hear the replication of your sounds,
    Made in his concave shores?
         _Julius Cæsar, act 1, sc. 1._

The _Henriade_ of Voltaire errs greatly against the foregoing rule:
every thing is touched in a summary way, without ever descending to the
circumstances of an event. This manner is good in a general history,
the purpose of which is to record important transactions: but in a
fable, which hath a very different aim, it is cold and uninteresting;
because it is impracticable to form distinct images of persons or things
represented in a manner so superficial.

It is observed above, that every useless circumstance ought to be
suppressed. To deal in such circumstances, is a fault, on the one hand,
not less to be avoided, than the conciseness for which Voltaire is
blamed, on the other. In the _Æneid_[35], Barce, the nurse of Sichæus,
whom we never hear of before or after, is introduced for a purpose not
more important than to call Anna to her sister Dido. And that it might
not be thought unjust in Dido, even in this trivial incident, to prefer
her husband’s nurse before her own, the poet takes care to inform his
reader, that Dido’s nurse was dead. To this I must oppose a beautiful
passage in the same book, where, after Dido’s last speech, the poet,
supposing her dead, hastens to describe the lamentation of her

    Dixerat: atque illam media inter talia ferro
    Collapsam aspiciunt comites, ensemque cruore
    Spumantem, sparsasque manus. It clamor ad alta
    Atria, concussam bacchatur fama per urbem;
    Lamentis gemituque et fœmineo ululatu
    Tecta fremunt, resonat magnis plangoribus æther.
         _Lib. 4. l. 663._

As an appendix to the foregoing rule, I add the following observation,
That to raise a sudden and strong impression, some single circumstance
happily selected, has more power than the most laboured description.
Macbeth, mentioning to his lady some voices he heard while he was
murdering the King, says,

    There’s one did laugh in’s sleep, and one cry’d Murder!
    They wak’d each other; and I stood and heard them;
    But they did say their prayers, and address them
    Again to sleep.

    _Lady._ There are two lodg’d together.

    _Macbeth._ One cry’d, God bless us! and, Amen! the other;
    As they had seen me with these hangman’s hands.
    Listening their fear, I could not say, Amen,
    When they did say, God bless us.

    _Lady._ Consider it not so deeply.

    _Macbeth._ But wherefore could not I pronounce, Amen?
    I had most need of blessing, and Amen
    Stuck in my throat.

    _Lady._ These deeds must not be thought
    After these ways; so, it will make us mad.

    _Macbeth._ Methought, I heard a voice cry, Sleep no more!
    Macbeth doth murder sleep, _&c_.
         _Act 2. sc. 3._

Describing Prince Henry:

    I saw young Harry, with his beaver on,
    His cuisses on his thighs, gallantly arm’d,
    Rise from the ground like feather’d Mercury;
    And vaulted with such ease into his seat,
    As if an angel dropt down from the clouds,
    To turn and wind a fiery Pegasus,
    And witch the world with noble horsemanship.
         _First Part Henry IV. act 4. sc. 2._

    _King Henry._ Lord Cardinal, if thou think’st on heaven’s bliss,
    Hold up thy hand, make signal of thy hope.
    He dies, and makes no sign!
         _Second Part Henry VI. act 3. sc. 10._

The same author, speaking ludicrously of an army debilitated with
diseases, says,

     Half of them dare not shake the snow from off their cassocks, lest
     they shake themselves to pieces.

To draw a character is the master-stroke of description. In this Tacitus
excels: his figures are natural, distinct, and complete; not a feature
wanting or misplaced. Shakespear however exceeds Tacitus in the
sprightliness of his figures: some characteristical circumstance is
generally invented or laid hold of, which paints more to the life than
many words. The following instances will explain my meaning, and at the
same time prove my observation to be just.

    Why should a man, whose blood is warm within,
    Sit like his grandsire cut in alabaster?
    Sleep when he wakes, and creep into the jaundice,
    By being peevish? I tell that what, Anthonio,
    (I love thee, and it is my love that speaks):
    There are a sort of men, whose visages
    Do cream and mantle like a standing pond;
    And do a wilful stillness entertain,
    With purpose to be dress’d in an opinion
    Of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit;
    As who should say, I am Sir Oracle,
    And when I ope my lips, let no dog bark!
    O my Anthonio, I do know of those,
    That therefore only are reputed wise,
    For saying nothing.
         _Merchant of Venice, act 1. sc. 1._


     Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing, more than any man in
     all Venice: his reasons are two grains of wheat hid in two bushels
     of chaff; you shall seek all day ere you find them, and when you
     have them, they are not worth the search.


In the following passage a character is completed by a single stroke.

     _Shallow._ O the mad days that I have spent; and to see how many of
     mine old acquaintance are dead.

     _Silence._ We shall all follow, Cousin.

     _Shallow._ Certain, ’tis certain, very sure, very sure; Death (as
     the Psalmist saith) is certain to all: all shall die. How a good
     yoke of bullocks at Stamford fair?

     _Slender._ Truly, Cousin, I was not there.

     _Shallow._ Death is certain. Is old _Double_ of your town living

     _Silence._ Dead, Sir.

     _Shallow._ Dead! see, see; he drew a good bow: and dead? He shot a
     fine shoot. How a score of ewes now?

     _Silence._ Thereafter as they be. A score of good ewes may be worth
     ten pounds.

     _Shallow._ And is old _Double_ dead?

              _Second Part Henry IV. act 3. sc. 3._

Describing a jealous husband:

     Neither press, coffer, chest, trunk, well, vault, but he hath an
     abstract for the remembrance of such places, and goes to them by
     his note. There is no hiding you in the house.

              _Merry Wives of Windsor, act 4. sc. 3._

Congreve has an inimitable stroke of this kind in his comedy of _Love
for Love_:

     _Ben Legend._ Well, father, and how do all at home? how does
     brother Dick, and brother Val?

     _Sir Sampson._ Dick, body o’ me, Dick has been dead these two
     years, I writ you word, when you were at Leghorn.

     _Ben._ Mess, that’s true; marry, I had forgot. Dick’s dead, as you

              _Act 3. sc. 6._

Falstaff speaking of Ancient Pistol,

     He’s no swaggerer, hostess; a tame cheater i’ faith; you may stroak
     him as gently as a puppey-greyhound; he will not swagger with a
     Barbary hen, if her feathers turn back in any shew of resistence.

              _Second Part Henry_ IV. _act 2. sc. 9_.

Some writers, through heat of imagination, fall into contradictions;
some are guilty of downright inconsistencies; and some even rave like
madmen. Against such capital errors one cannot be warned to better
purpose than by collecting instances. The first shall be of a
contradiction, the most venial of all. Virgil speaking of Neptune:

    Interea magno misceri murmure pontum
    Emissamque hyemem sensit Neptunus, et imis
    Stagna refusa vadis: _graviter commotus_, et alto
    Prospiciens, summâ _placidum_ caput extulit undâ.
         _Æneid._ i. 128.


    When first young Maro, in his boundless mind,
    A work t’outlast immortal Rome design’d.
         _Essay on Criticism, l. 130._

The following examples are of downright inconsistencies.

     Alii pulsis e tormento catenis discerpti sectique, dimidiato
     corpore pugnabant sibi superstites, ac peremptæ partis ultores.

              _Strada, Dec. 2. L. 2._

    Il povér huomo, che non sen’ era accorto,
    Andava combattendo, ed era morto. _Berni._

    He fled, but flying, left his life behind. _Iliad_ xi. 443.

    Full through his neck the weighty falchion sped;
    Along the pavement roll’d the mutt’ring head.
         _Odyssey_ xxii. 365.

The last article is of raving like one mad. Cleopatra speaking to the

   ---- Welcome, thou kind deceiver,
    Thou best of thieves; who, with an easy key,
    Do’st open life, and unperceiv’d by us
    Ev’n steal us from ourselves; discharging so
    Death’s dreadful office, better than himself,
    Touching our limbs so gently into slumber,
    That Death stands by, deceiv’d by his own image,
    And thinks himself but Sleep.
         _Dryden, All for Love, act 5._

Reasons that are common and known to every person, ought to be taken for
granted: to express them is childish and interrupts the narration.
Quintus Curtius, relating the battle of Issus:

     Jam in conspectu, sed extra teli jactum, utraque acies erat; quum
     priores Persæ inconditum et trucem sustulere clamorem. Redditur et
     a Macedonibus major, exercitus impar numero, sed jugis montium
     vastisque saltibus repercussus: _quippe semper circumjecta nemora
     petræque, quantamcumque accepere vocem, multiplicato sono

Having discussed what observations occurred upon the thoughts or things
expressed, I proceed to what more peculiarly concern the language or
verbal dress. The language proper for expressing passion is the subject
of a former chapter. Several observations there made, are applicable to
the present subject; particularly, That words are intimately connected
with the ideas they represent, and that the representation cannot be
perfect unless the emotions raised by the sound and the sense be
concordant. It is not sufficient, that the sense be clearly expressed:
the words must correspond to the subject in every particular. An
elevated subject requires an elevated style: what is familiar, ought to
be familiarly expressed: a subject that is serious and important, ought
to be cloathed in plain nervous language: a description, on the other
hand, addressed to the imagination, is susceptible of the highest
ornaments that sounding words, metaphor, and figurative expression, can
bestow upon it.

I shall give a few examples of the foregoing doctrine. A poet of any
genius will not readily dress a high subject in low words; and yet
blemishes of this kind are found even in some classical works. Horace
observing that men, perfectly satisfied with themselves, are seldom so
with their condition, introduces Jupiter indulging to each his own

    Jam faciam quod vultis: eris tu, qui modo miles,
    Mercator: tu, consultus modo, rusticus: hinc vos,
    Vos hinc mutatis discedite partibus: eia,
    Quid? statis? nolint: atqui licet esse beatis.
    Quid causæ est, merito quin illis Jupiter ambas
    Iratus buccas inflet? neque se fore posthac
    Tam facilem dicat, votis ut præbeat aurem?
         _Serm, lib. 1. sat. 1. l. 16._

Jupiter in wrath puffing up both cheeks, is a ludicrous expression, far
from suitable to the gravity of the subject: every one must feel the
discordance. The following couplet, sinking far below the subject, is
not less ludicrous.

    Not one looks backward, onward still he goes,
    Yet ne’er looks forward farther than his nose.
         _Essay on Man_, _ep._ iv. 223.

On the other hand, to raise the expression above the tone of the
subject, is a fault than which none is more common. Take the following

    Orcan le plus fidéle à server ses desseins,
    Né sous le ciel brûlant des plus noirs Affricains.
         _Bajazet, act 3. sc. 8._

    Les ombres par trois fois ont obscurci les cieux
    Depuis que le sommeil n’est entré dans vos yeux;
    Et le jour a trois fois chassé la nuit obscure
    Depuis que votre corps languit sans nourriture.
         _Phedra, act 1. sc. 3._

    _Assuerus._ Ce mortel, qui montra tant de zéle pour moi,
    Vit-il encore?

    _Asaph._---- Il voit l’astre qui vous éclaire.
         _Esther, act 2. sc. 3._

    Oui, c’est Agamemnon, c’est ton Roi qui t’eveille;
    Viens, reconnois la voix qui frape ton oreille.

   ---------------- In the inner room
    I spy a winking lamp, that weakly strikes
    The ambient air, scarce kindling into light.
         _Southerne, Fate of Capua, act 3._

In the funeral orations of the Bishop of Meaux, the following passages
are raised far above the tone of the subject.

     L’Ocean etonné de se voir traversé tant de fois en des appareils si
     divers, et pour des causes si differentes, &_c._

              _p. 6._

     Grande Reine, je satisfais à vos plus tendres desirs, quand je
     célébre ce monarque; et ce cœur qui n’a jamais vêcu que pour lui,
     se eveille, tout poudre qu’il est, et devient sensible, même sous
     ce drap mortuaire, au nom d’un epoux si cher.

              _p. 32._

Montesquieu, in a didactic work, _L’esprit des Loix_, gives too great
indulgence to imagination: the tone of his language swells frequently
above his subject. I give an example:

     Mr le Comte de Boulainvilliers et Mr l’Abbé Dubos ont fait chacun
     un systeme, dont l’un semble être une conjuration contre le
     tiers-etat, et l’autre une conjuration contre la noblesse. Lorsque
     le Soleil donna à Phaéton son char à conduire, il lui dit: Si vous
     montez trop haut, vous brulerez la demeure céleste; si vous
     descendez trop bas, vous réduirez en cendres la terre: n’allez
     point trop a droite, vous tomberiez dans la constellation du
     serpent; n’allez point trop à gauche, vous iriez dans celle de
     l’autel: tenez-vous entre les deux.

              _L. ch. 10._

The following passage, intended, one would imagine, as a receipt to boil
water, is altogether burlesque by the laboured elevation of the

    A massy caldron of stupendous frame
    They brought, and plac’d it o’er the rising flame:
    Then heap the lighted wood; the flame divides
    Beneath the vase, and climbs around the sides:
    In its wide womb they pour the rushing stream;
    The boiling water bubbles to the brim.

    _Pope’s Homer_, _book_ xviii. 405.

In a passage near the beginning of the 4th book of Telamachus, one feels
a sudden bound upward without preparation, which accords not with the

     Calypso, qui avoit été jusqu’ à ce moment immobile et transportée
     de plaisir en écoutant les avantures de Télémaque, l’interrompit
     pour lui faire prendre quelque repos. Il est tems, lui dit-elle,
     que vous alliez goûter la douceur du sommeil aprés tant de travaux.
     Vous n’avez rien à craindre ici; tout vous est favorable.
     Abandonnez-vous donc à la joye. Goûtez la paix, et tous les autres
     dons des dieux dont vous allez être comblé. Demain, _quand l’Aurore
     avec ses doigts de roses entr’ouvrira les portes dorées de
     l’Orient, et que les chevaux du soleil sortans de l’onde amére
     répandront les flames du jour, pour chasser devant eux toutes les
     etoiles du ciel_, nous reprendrons, mon cher Télémaque, l’histoire
     de vos malheurs.

This obviously is copied from a similar passage in the Æneid, which
ought not to have been copied, because it lies open to the same censure:
but the force of authority is great.

    At regina gravi jamdudum saucia cura,
    Vulnus alit venis, & cæco carpitur igni.
    Multa viri virtus animo, multusque recursat
    Gentis honos: hærent infixi pectore vultus,
    Verbaque: nec placidam membris dat cura quietem.
    _Postera Phœbea lustrabat lampade terras,
    Humentemque Aurora polo dimoverat umbram_;
    Cum sic unanimem alloquitur malesana sororem:

    _Lib._ iv. 1.

Take another example where the words rise above the subject:

     Ainsi les peuples y accoururent bientôt en foule de toutes parts;
     le commerce de cette ville étoit semblable au flux et reflux de la
     mer. Les trésors y entroient comme les flots viennent l’un sur
     l’autre. Tout y etoit apporté et en sortoit librement: tout ce qui
     y entroit, étoit utile; toute ce qui en sortoit, laissoit en
     sortant d’autres richesses en sa place. La justice sevére presidoit
     dans le port au milieu de tant de nations. La franchise, la bonne
     foi, la candeur, sembloient du haut de ces superbs tours appeller
     les marchands des terres les plus éloignées: chacun des ces
     marchands, _soit qu’il vint des rives orientales où le soleil sort
     chaque jour du sein des ondes, soit qu’il fût parti de cette grande
     mer ou le soleil assé de son cours va eteindre ses feux_, vivoit
     plaisible et en sureté dans Salente comme dans sa patrie!

              _Telemaque, l. 12._

The language of Homer is suited to his subject, not less accurately than
the actions and sentiments of his heroes are to their characters.
Virgil, in this particular, falls short of perfection: his language is
stately throughout; and though he descends at times to the simplest
branches of cookery, roasting and boiling for example, yet he never
relaxes a moment from the high tone[36]. In adjusting his language to
his subject, no writer equals Swift. I can recollect but one exception,
which at the same time is far from being gross. The journal of a modern
lady, is composed in a style where sprightliness is blended with
familiarity, perfectly suited to the subject. In one passage, however,
the poet assumes a higher tone, which corresponds neither to the subject
nor to the tone of language employ’d in the rest of that piece. The
passage I have in view begins _l._ 116. “But let me now a while survey,”
&_c._ and ends at _l._ 135.

It is proper to be observed upon this head, that writers of inferior
rank are continually upon the stretch to enliven and enforce their
subject by exaggeration and superlatives. This unluckily has an effect
opposite to what is intended: the reader, disgusted with language that
swells above the subject, is led by contrast to think more meanly of the
subject than it may possibly deserve. A man of prudence, beside, will be
not less careful to husband his strength in writing than in walking: a
writer too liberal of superlatives, exhausts his whole stock upon
ordinary incidents, and reserves no share to express, with greater
energy, matters of importance[37].

The power that language possesses to imitate thought, goes farther than
to the capital circumstances above mentioned: it reacheth even the
slighter modifications. Slow action, for example, is imitated by words
pronounced slow; labour or toil, by words harsh or rough in their sound.
But this subject has been already handled[38].

In dialogue-writing, the condition of the speaker is chiefly to be
regarded in framing the expression. The centinel in _Hamlet_,
interrogated about the ghost, whether his watch had been quiet? answers
with great propriety for a man in his station, “Not a mouse

I proceed to a second remark, not less important than the former. No
person of reflection but must be sensible, that an incident makes a
stronger impression on an eye-witness, than when heard at second hand.
Writers of genius, sensible that the eye is the best avenue to the
heart, represent every thing as passing in our sight; and from readers
or hearers, transform us, as it were, into spectators. A skilful writer
conceals himself, and presents his personages. In a word, every thing
becomes dramatic as much as possible. Plutarch, _de gloria
Atheniensium_, observes, that Thucydides makes his reader a spectator,
and inspires him with the same passions as if he were an eye-witness. I
am intitled to make the same observation upon our countryman Swift.
From this happy talent arises that energy of style which is peculiar to
him: he cannot always avoid narration; but the pencil is his choice, by
which he bestows life and colouring upon his objects. Pope is richer in
ornament, but possesses not in the same degree the talent of drawing
from the life. A translation of the sixth satire of Horace, begun by the
former and finished by the latter, affords the fairest opportunity for a
comparison. Pope obviously imitates the picturesque manner of his
friend: yet every one of taste must be sensible, that the imitation,
though fine, falls short of the original. In other instances, where Pope
writes in his own style, the difference of manner is still more

Abstract or general terms have no good effect in any competition for
amusement; because it is only of particular objects that images can be
formed[40]. Shakespear’s style in that respect is excellent. Every
article in his descriptions is particular, as in nature; and if
accidentally a vague expression slip in, the blemish is extremely
discernible by the bluntness of its impression. Take the following
example. Falstaff, excusing himself for running away at a robbery, says,

     By the Lord, I knew ye, as well as he that made ye. Why, hear ye,
     my masters; was it for me to kill the heir-apparent? should I turn
     upon the true prince? Why, thou knowest, I am as valiant as
     Hercules; but beware instinct, the lion will not touch the true
     prince: instinct is a great matter. I was a coward on instinct: I
     shall think the better of myself, and thee, during my life; I, for
     a valiant lion, and thou for a true prince. But, by the Lord, lads,
     I am glad you have the money. Hostess, clap to the doors; watch
     to-night, pray to-morrow. Gallants, lads, boys, hearts of gold, all
     the titles of good fellowship come to you! What, shall we be merry?
     shall we have a play _extempore_?

              _First Part Henry IV. act 2. sc. 9._

The particular words I object to are, _instinct is a great matter_,
which make but a poor figure, compared with the liveliness of the rest
of the speech. It was one of Homer’s advantages, that he wrote before
general terms were multiplied: the superior genius of Shakespear
displays itself in avoiding them after they were multiplied. Addison
describes the family of Sir Roger de Coverley in the following words.

     You would take his valet de chambre for his brother, his butler is
     gray-headed, his groom is one of the gravest men that I have ever
     seen, and his coachman has the looks of a privy counsellor.

              _Spectator_, Nº 106.

The description of the groom is less lively than of the others; plainly
because the expression, being vague and general, tends not to form any
image. “Dives opum variarum[41],” is an expression still more vague; and
so are the following.

   -------- Mæcenas, mearum
    Grande decus, columenque rerum.
         _Horat. Carm. l. 2. ode 17._

   ---------------- et fide Teia
      Dices laborantes in uno
        Penelopen, vitreamque Circen.
         _Horat. Carm. l. 1. ode 17._

In the fine arts, it is a rule, to put the capital objects in the
strongest point of view; and even to present them oftener than once,
where it can be done. In history-painting, the principal figure is
placed in the front, and in the best light: an equestrian statue is
placed in a centre of streets, that it may be seen from many places at
once. In no composition is there a greater opportunity for this rule
than in writing:

   -------- Sequitur pulcherrimus Astur,
    Astur equo fidens et versicoloribus armis.
         _Æneid._ x. 180.

   ------------Full many a lady
    I’ve ey’d with best regard, and many a time
    Th’ harmony of their tongues hath into bondage
    Brought my too diligent ear, for several virtues
    Have I lik’d several women, never any
    With so full soul, but some defect in her
    Did quarrel with the noblest grace she ow’d,
    And put it to the foil. But you, O you,
    So perfect, and so peerless, are created
    Of every creature’s best.
         _The Tempest, act 3. sc. 1._

    With thee conversing I forget all time;
    All seasons and their change, all please alike.
    Sweet is the breath of morn, her rising sweet,
    With charm of earliest birds; pleasant the sun
    When first on this delightful land he spreads
    His orient beams, on herb, tree, fruit, and flow’r,
    Glistering with dew; fragrant the fertil earth
    After soft showers; and sweet the coming on
    Of grateful evening mild, the silent night
    With this her solemn bird, and this fair moon,
    And these the gems of heav’n, her starry train:
    But neither breath of morn, when she ascends
    With charm of earliest birds, nor rising sun
    On this delightful land, nor herb, fruit, flower,
    Glistering with dew, nor fragrance after showers,
    Nor grateful evening mild, nor silent night,
    With this her solemn bird, nor walk by moon,
    Or glittering star-light, without thee is sweet.
         _Paradise Lost, book_ 4. l. 634.

     What mean ye, that ye use this proverb, The fathers have eaten sour
     grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge? As I live, saith
     the Lord God, ye shall not have occasion to use this proverb in
     Israel. If a man keep my judgements to deal truly, he is just, he
     shall surely live. But if he be a robber, a shedder of blood; if he
     have eaten upon the mountains, and defiled his neighbour’s wife; if
     he have oppressed the poor and needy, have spoiled by violence,
     have not restored the pledge, have lift up his eyes to idols, have
     given forth upon usury, and have taken increase: shall he live? he
     shall not live: he shall surely die; and his blood shall be upon
     him. Now, lo, if he beget a son, that seeth all his father’s sins,
     and considereth, and doth not such like; that hath not eaten upon
     the mountains, hath not lift up his eyes to idols, nor defiled his
     neighbour’s wife, hath not oppressed any nor with held the pledge,
     neither hath spoiled by violence, but hath given his bread to the
     hungry, and covered the naked with a garment; that hath not
     received usury nor increase, that hath executed my judgments, and
     walked in my statutes; he shall not die for the iniquity of his
     father; he shall surely live. The soul that sinneth, it shall die:
     the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father; neither shall
     the father bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the
     righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall
     be upon him. Have I any pleasure that the wicked should die? saith
     the Lord God; and not that he should return from his ways and

              _Ezekiel_ xviii.

The repetitions in Homer, which are frequent, have been the occasion of
much criticism. Suppose we were at a loss about the reason, might not
taste be sufficient to justify them? At the same time, one must be
devoid of understanding not to be sensible, that they make the narration
dramatic; and give an air of truth, by making things appear as passing
in our sight.

A concise comprehensive style is a great ornament in narration; and a
superfluity of unnecessary words, not less than of circumstances, a
great nuisance. A judicious selection of the striking circumstances,
cloathed in a nervous style, is delightful. In this style, Tacitus
excels all writers, ancient and modern. Instances are numberless: take
the following specimen.

     Crebra hinc prælia, et sæpius in modum latrocinii: per saltus, per
     paludes; ut cuique sors aut virtus: temere, proviso, ob iram, ob
     prædam, jussu, et aliquando ignaris ducibus.

              _Annal. lib._ 12. § 39.

If a concise or nervous style be a beauty, tautology must be a blemish.
And yet writers, fettered by verse, are not sufficiently careful to
avoid this slovenly practice: they may be pitied, but they cannot be
justified. Take for a specimen the following instances, from the best
poet, for versification at least, that England has to boast of:

    High on his helm celestial lightnings play,
    His beamy shield emits a living ray,
    Th’ unweary’d blaze incessant streams supplies,
    Like the red star that fires th’ autumnal skies.
         _Iliad_ v. 5.

    Strength and omnipotence invest thy throne.
         _Iliad_ viii. 576.

    So silent fountains, from a rock’s tall head,
    In sable streams soft-trickling waters shed.
         _Iliad_ ix. 19.

    His clanging armour rung.
         _Iliad_ xii. 94.

    Fear on their cheek, and horror in their eye.
         _Iliad_ xv. 4.

    The blaze of armour flash’d against the day.
         _Iliad_ xvii. 736.

    As when the piercing blasts of Boreas blow.
         _Iliad_ xix. 380.

    And like the moon, the broad refulgent shield
    Blaz’d with long rays, and gleam’d athwart the field.
         _Iliad_ xix. 402.

    No--could our swiftness o’er the winds prevail,
    Or beat the pinions of the western gale,
    All were in vain----
         _Iliad_ xix. 460.

    The humid sweat from ev’ry pore descends.
         _Iliad_ xxiii. 829.

Redundant epithets, such as _humid_, in the last citation, are by
Quintilian disallowed to orators, but indulged to poets[42]; because his
favourite poets, in a few instances, are reduced to such epithets for
the sake of versification. For instance, _Prata canis albicant pruinis_,
of Horace, and _liquidos fontes_, of Virgil.

As an apology for such careless expressions, it may well suffice, that
Pope, in submitting to be a translator, acts below his genius. In a
translation, it is hard to require the same spirit or accuracy, that is
chearfully bestowed on an original work. And to support the reputation
of this author, I shall give some instances from Virgil and Horace, more
faulty by redundancy than any of those above mentioned:

    Sæpe etiam immensum cœlo venit agmen aquarum,
    Et fœdam glomerant tempestatem imbribus atris
    Collectæ ex alto nubes: ruit arduus æther,
    Et pluviâ ingenti sata læta, boumque labores
         _Georg. lib._ i. 322.

    Postquam altum tenuere rates, nec jam amplius ullæ
    Apparent terræ; cœlum undique et undique pontus:
    Tum mihi cœruleus supra caput astitit imber,
    Noctem hyememque ferens: et inhorruit unda tenebris.
         _Æneid. lib._ iii. 191.

   ---------------- Hinc tibi copia
      Manabit ad plenum benigno
        Ruris honorum opulenta cornu.
         _Horat. Carm. lib. 1. ode 17._

    Videre fessos vomerem inversum boves
        Collo trahentes languido.
         _Horat. Epod._ ii. 63.

Here I can luckily apply Horace’s rule against himself:

    Est brevitate opus, ut currat sententia, neu se
    Impediat verbis lassas onerantibus aures.
         _Serm. lib. 1. sat. x. 9._

I close this chapter with a curious inquiry. An object, however ugly to
the sight, is far from being so when represented by colours or by words.
What is the cause of this difference? The cause with respect to painting
is obvious. A good picture, whatever the subject be, is agreeable,
because of the pleasure we take in imitation: the agreeableness of
imitation overbalances the disagreeableness of the subject; and the
picture upon the whole is agreeable. It requires a greater compass to
explain the cause with respect to the description of an ugly object. To
connect individuals in the social state, no one particular contributes
more than language, by the power it possesses of an expeditious
communication of thought and a lively representation of transactions.
But nature hath not been satisfied to recommend language by its utility
merely: it is made susceptible of many beauties that have no relation to
utility, which are directly felt without the intervention of any
reflection[43]. And this unfolds the mystery; for the pleasure of
language is so great, as in a lively description to overbalance the
disagreeableness of the image raised by it[44]. This however is no
encouragement to deal in disagreeable subjects; for the pleasure is out
of sight greater where the subject and the description are both of them

The following description is upon the whole agreeable, though the
subject described is in itself dismal.

    Nine times the space that measures day and night
    To mortal men, he with his horrid crew
    Lay vanquish’d, rowling in the fiery gulf
    Confounded though immortal: but his doom
    Reserv’d him to more wrath; for now the thought
    Both of lost happiness and lasting pain
    Torments him; round he throws his baleful eyes
    That witness’d huge affliction and dismay,
    Mix’d with obdurate pride and stedfast hate:
    At once as far as angels ken he views
    The dismal situation waste and wild:
    A dungeon horrible, on all sides round
    As one great furnace flam’d; yet from those flames
    No light, but rather darkness visible
    Serv’d only to discover sights of wo,
    Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace
    And rest can never dwell, hope never comes
    That comes to all; but torture without end
    Still urges, and a fiery deluge, fed
    With ever burning sulphur unconsum’d:
    Such place eternal justice had prepar’d
    For those rebellious.
         _Paradise Lost, book 1. l. 50_.

An unmanly depression of spirits in time of danger is not an agreeable
sight; and yet a fine description or representation of it will be

    _K. Richard_. What must the King do now? must he submit?
    The King shall do it: must he be depos’d?
    The King shall be contented: must he lose
    The name of King? O’ God’s name, let it go:
    I’ll give my jewels for a set of beads;
    My gorgeous palace, for a hermitage;
    My gay apparel, for an almsman’s gown;
    My figur’d goblets, for a dish of wood;
    My sceptre, for a palmer’s walking staff;
    My subjects, for a pair of carved saints;
    And my large kingdom, for a little grave;
    A little, little grave;---- an obscure grave.
    Or I’ll be bury’d in the King’s highway;
    Some way of common tread, where subjects feet
    May hourly trample on their sovereign’s head:
    For on my heart they tread now, whilst I live;
    And, bury’d once, why not upon my head?
         _Richard II. act 3. sc. 6._

Objects that strike terror in a spectator, have in poetry and painting a
fine effect. The picture, by raising a slight emotion of terror,
agitates the mind; and in that condition every beauty makes a deep
impression. May not contrast heighten the pleasure, by opposing our
present security to the danger we would be in by encountering the object

   -------------------- The other shape,
    If shape it might be call’d, that shape had none
    Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb;
    Or substance might be call’d that shadow seem’d,
    For each seem’d either; black it stood as night,
    Fierce as ten furies, terrible as hell,
    And shook a dreadful dart.
         _Paradise Lost, book 2. l. 666._

   ------------ Now storming fury rose,
    And clamour such as heard in heav’n till now
    Was never, arms on armour clashing bray’d
    Horrible discord, and the madding wheels
    Of brazen chariots rag’d; dire was the noise
    Of conflict; over-head the dismal hiss
    Of fiery darts in flaming vollies flew,
    And flying vaulted either host with fire.
    So under fiery cope together rush’d
    Both battles main, with ruinous assault
    And inextinguishable rage; all heav’n
    Resounded, and had earth been then, all earth
    Had to her centre shook.
         _Paradise Lost, book 6. l. 207._

    _Ghost._-------- But that I am forbid
    To tell the secrets of my prison-house,
    I could a tale unfold, whose lightest word
    Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
    Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres,
    Thy knotty and combined locks to part,
    And each particular hair to stand on end
    Like quills upon the fretful porcupine:
    But this eternal blazon must not be
    To ears of flesh and blood.
         _Hamlet, act 1. sc. 8._

    _Gratiano._ Poor Desdemona! I’m glad thy father’s dead:
    Thy match was mortal to him; and pure grief
    Shore his old thread in twain. Did he live now,
    This sight would make him do a desp’rate turn:
    Yea, curse his better angel from his side,
    And fall to reprobation.
         _Othello, act 5. sc. 8._

Objects of horror must be excepted from the foregoing theory; for no
description, however masterly, is sufficient to overbalance the disgust
raised even by the idea of such an object. Every thing horrible ought
therefore to be avoided in a description. Nor is this a severe law: the
poet will avoid such scenes for his own sake, as well as for that of his
reader; and to vary his descriptions, nature affords plenty of objects
that disgust us in some degree without raising horror. I am obliged
therefore to condemn the picture of sin in the second book of _Paradise
Lost_, though drawn with a masterly hand. The original would be a
horrible spectacle; and the horror is not much softened in the copy.

   ------------ Pensive here I sat
    Alone, but long I sat not, till my womb
    Pregnant by thee, and now excessive grown
    Prodigious motion felt and rueful throes.
    At last this odious offspring whom thou seest,
    Thine own begotten, breaking violent way,
    Tore through my intrails, that with fear and pain
    Distorted, all my nether shape thus grew
    Transform’d; but he my inbred enemy
    Forth issu’d, brandishing his fatal dart,
    Made to destroy: I fled, and cry’d out Death;
    Hell trembl’d at the hideous name, and sigh’d
    From all her caves, and back resounded Death.
    I fled, but he pursu’d, (though more, it seems,
    Inflam’d with lust than rage), and swifter far,
    Me overtook, his mother all dismay’d,
    And in embraces forcible and foul
    Ingendring with me, of that rape begot
    These yelling monsters that with ceaseless cry
    Surround me, as thou saw’st, hourly conceiv’d
    And hourly born, with sorrow infinite
    To me; for when they list, into the womb
    That bred them they return, and howl and gnaw
    My bowels, their repast; then bursting forth
    A fresh with conscious terrors vex me round,
    That rest or intermission none I find.
    Before mine eyes in opposition sits
    Grim Death, my son and foe, who sets them on,
    And me his parent would full soon devour
    For want of other prey, but that he knows
    His end with mine involv’d; and knows that I
    Should prove a bitter morsel, and his bane,
    Whenever that shall be.
         _Book 2. l. 777._

Iago’s character in the tragedy of _Othello_, is so monstrous and
satanical, as not to be sufferable in a representation: not even
Shakespear’s masterly hand can make the picture agreeable.

       *       *       *       *       *

Though the objects introduced in the following scenes, are not
altogether so horrible as Sin is in Milton’s picture; yet with every
person of taste, disgust will be the prevailing emotion.

   ---- Strophades Graio stant nomine dictæ
    Insulæ Ionio in magno: quas dira Celæno,
    Harpyiæque colunt aliæ: Phineia postquam
    Clausa domus, mensasque metu liquere priores.
    Tristius haud illis monstrum, nec sævior ulla
    Pestis et ira Deûm Stygiis sese extulit undis.
    Virginei volucrum vultus, fœdissima ventris
    Proluvies, uncæque manus, et pallida semper.
    Ora fame.
    Huc ubi delati portus intravimus: ecce
    Læta boum passim campis armenta videmus,
    Caprigenumque pecus, nullo custode, per herbas.
    Irruimus ferro, et Divos ipsumque vocamus
    In prædam partemque Jovem: tunc littore curvo
    Extruimusque toros, dapibusque epulamur opimis.
    At subitæ horrifico lapsu de montibus adsunt
    Harpyiæ: et magnis quatiunt clangoribus alas:
    Diripiuntque dapes, contactuque omnia fœdant
    Immundo: tum vox tetrum dira inter odorem.

    _Æneid. lib_. iii. 210.

    Sum patria ex Ithaca, comes infelicis Ulyssei,
    Nomen Achemenides: Trojam, genitore Adamasto
    Paupere (mansissetque utinam fortuna!) profectus.
    Hic me, dum trepidi crudelia limina linquunt,
    Immemores socii vasto Cyclopis in antro
    Deseruere. Domus sanie dapibusque cruentis,
    Intus opaca, ingens: ipse arduus, altaque pulsat
    Sidera: (Dii, talem terris avertite pestem)
    Nec visu facilis, nec dictu affabilis ulli.
    Visceribus miserorum, et sanguine vescitur atro.
    Vidi egomet, duo de numero cum corpora nostro,
    Prensa manu magna, medio resupinus in antro,
    Frangeret ad saxum, sanieque aspersa natarent
    Limina: vidi, atro cum membra fluentia tabo
    Manderet, et tepidi tremerent sub dentibus artus.
    Haud impune quidem: nec talia passus Ulysses,
    Oblitusve sui est Ithacus discrimine tanto.
    Nam simul expletus dapibus, vinoque sepultus
    Cervicem inflexam posuit, jacuitque per antrum
    Immensus, saniem eructans, ac frusta cruento
    Per somnum commixta mero; nos, magna precati
    Numina, sortitique vices, unà undique circum
    Fundimur, et telo lumen terebramus acuto
    Ingens, quod torva solum sub fronte latebat.

    _Æneid. lib._. iii 613.


Epic and Dramatic Compositions.

Tragedy differs from the epic more in form than in substance. The ends
proposed by each are instruction and amusement; and each of them copy
human actions as means to bring about these ends. They differ in the
manner only of copying. Epic poetry deals in narration: Tragedy
represents its facts as transacted in our sight. In the former, the poet
introduces himself as an historian: in the latter he presents his actors
and never himself[45].

This difference, regarding form only, may be thought slight; but the
effects it occasions, are by no means so. What we see, makes a stronger
impression than what we learn from others. A narrative poem is a story
told by another: facts and incidents passing upon the stage, come under
our own observation; and are beside much enlivened by action and
gesture, expressive of many sentiments beyond the reach of language.

A dramatic composition has another property, independent altogether of
action. A dialogue makes a deeper impression than a narration: because
in the former persons express their own sentiments; whereas in the
latter sentiments are related at second hand. For that reason,
Aristotle, the father of critics, lays it down as a rule, That in an
epic poem the author ought to take every opportunity to introduce his
actors, and to confine the narrative part within the narrowest
bounds[46]. Homer understood perfectly the advantage of this method; and
his poems are both of them in a great measure dramatic. Lucan runs to
the opposite extreme; and is guilty of a still greater fault: the
_Pharsalia_ is stuffed with cold and languid reflections; the merit of
which the author assumes to himself, and deigns not to share with his
personages. Nothing can be more impertinent, than a chain of such
reflections, which suspend the battle of Pharsalia after the leaders had
made their speeches, and the two armies are ready to engage[47].

Aristotle, from the nature of the fable, divides tragedy into simple and
complex. But it is of greater moment, with respect to dramatic as well
as epic poetry, to found a distinction upon the different ends attained
by such compositions. A poem, whether dramatic or epic, that hath no
tendency beyond moving the passions and exhibiting pictures of virtue
and vice, may be distinguished by the name of _pathetic_. But where a
story is purposely contrived to illustrate some important lesson of
morality, by showing the natural connection betwixt disorderly passions
and external misfortunes, such composition may be denominated
_moral_[48]. It indeed conveys moral instruction with a perspicuity
that is not exceeded by the most accurate reasoning; and makes a deeper
impression than any moral discourse can do. To be satisfied of this, we
need but reflect, that a man whose affections are justly balanced, hath
a better chance to escape misfortunes, than one who is a slave to every
passion. Indeed, nothing is more evident, than the natural connection
that vice hath with misery, and virtue with happiness; and such
connection may be illustrated, by stating a fact as well as by urging an
argument. Let us assume, for example, the following moral truths, That
discord among the chiefs, renders ineffectual all common measures; and
that the consequences of a slightly-founded quarrel, fostered by pride
and arrogance, are not less fatal than those of the grossest injury.
These truths may be inculcated, by the quarrel betwixt Agamemnon and
Achilles at the siege of Troy. In this view, it ought to be the poet’s
chief aim, to invent proper circumstances, presenting to our view the
natural consequences of such discord. These circumstances must seem to
arise in the common course of human affairs: no accidental or
unaccountable event ought to be indulged; for the necessary or probable
connection betwixt vice and misery, is learned from no events but what
are governed by the characters and passions of the persons represented.
A real event of which we see no cause, may be a lesson to us; because
what hath happened may again happen: but this cannot be inferred from a
story that is known to be fictitious.

Many are the good effects of such compositions. A pathetic composition,
whether epic or dramatic, tends to a habit of virtue, by exciting
emotions that produce good actions, and avert us from those that are
vicious or irregular[49]. It likewise, by its frequent pictures of human
woes, humanizes the mind, and fortifies us in bearing our own
misfortunes. A moral composition must obviously produce the same good
effects, because by being moral it doth not cease to be pathetic. It
enjoys beside an excellence peculiar to itself: for it not only improves
the heart, as above mentioned, but instructs the head by the moral it
contains. For my part, I cannot imagine any entertainment more suited to
a rational being, than a work thus happily illustrating some moral
truth; where a number of persons of different characters are engaged in
an important action, some retarding, others promoting, the great
catastrophe; and where there is dignity of style as well as of matter. A
work of this kind, has our sympathy at command, and can put in motion
the whole train of the social affections. We have at the same time great
mental enjoyment, in perceiving every event and every subordinate
incident connected with its proper cause. Our curiosity is by turns
excited and gratified; and our delight is consummated at the close, upon
finding, from the characters and situations exhibited at the
commencement, that every circumstance down to the final catastrophe is
natural, and that the whole in conjunction make a regular chain of
causes and effects.

Considering an epic and dramatic poem as the same in substance, and
having the same aim or end, it might be thought that they are equally
fitted for the same subjects. But considering their difference as to
form, there will be found reason to correct that thought, at least in
some degree. Many subjects may indeed be treated with equal advantage in
either form; but the subjects are still more numerous for which one of
the forms is better qualified than the other; and there are subjects
proper for the one and not for the other. To give some slight notion of
the difference, as there is no room here for enlarging upon every
article, I observe, that dialogue is better qualified for expressing
sentiments, and narrative for displaying facts. These peculiarities tend
to confine each within certain limits. Heroism, magnanimity, undaunted
courage, and the whole tribe of the elevated virtues, figure best in
action: tender passions and the whole tribe of sympathetic affections,
figure best in sentiment. What we feel is the most remarkable in the
latter: what we perform is the most remarkable in the former. It
clearly follows, that tender passions are more peculiarly the province
of tragedy, grand and heroic actions of epic poetry[50].

I have no occasion to say more upon the epic, considered as peculiarly
adapted to certain subjects. But as dramatic subjects are more complex,
I must take a narrower view of them; which I do the more willingly, in
order to clear a point thrown into great obscurity by critics.

In the chapter of emotions and passions[51], it is occasionally shown,
that the subject best fitted for tragedy is the story of a man who has
himself been the cause of his misfortune. But this man must neither be
deeply guilty nor altogether innocent. The misfortune must be occasioned
by a fault incident to human nature, and therefore venial. Misfortunes
of this kind, call forth the whole force of the social affections, and
interest the spectator in the warmest manner. An accidental misfortune,
if not extremely singular, doth not greatly move our pity. The person
who suffers, being innocent, is freed from the greatest of all torments,
_viz_. the anguish of mind occasioned by remorse:

    Poco é funesta
    Laltrui fortuna,
    Quando non resta
    Ragione alcuna
    Ne di pentirsi, né darrossir.

A criminal, on the other hand, who brings misfortunes upon himself,
excites little pity, for a different reason. His remorse, it is true,
aggravates his distress, and swells the first emotions of pity: but then
our hatred to the criminal blending with pity, blunts its edge
considerably. Misfortunes that are not innocent nor highly criminal,
partake the advantages of each extreme: they are attended with remorse
to embitter the distress, which raises our pity to a great height; and
the slight indignation we have at a venial fault, detracts not sensibly
from our pity. For this reason, the happiest of all subjects for
tragedy, if such a one could be invented, would be where a man of
integrity falls into a great misfortune by doing an innocent action, but
which by some singular means he conceives to be criminal. His remorse
aggravates his distress; and our compassion, unrestrained by
indignation, rises to its highest pitch. Pity comes thus to be the
ruling passion of a pathetic tragedy; and by proper representation, may
be raised to a height scarce exceeded by any thing felt in real life. A
moral tragedy takes in a larger field; for, beside exercising our pity,
it raises another passion, selfish indeed, but which deserves to be
cherished equally with the social affections. When a misfortune is the
natural consequence of some wrong bias in the temper, every spectator
who is conscious of some such defect in himself, takes the alarm, and
considers that he is liable to the same misfortune. This consideration
raises in him an emotion of fear or terror; and it is by this emotion,
frequently reiterated in a variety of moral tragedies, that the
spectators are put upon their guard against the disorders of passion.

The commentators upon Aristotle and other critics, have been much
graveled about the account given of tragedy by this author, “That by
means of pity and terror it refines in us all sorts of passion.” But no
one who has a clear conception of the end and effects of a good tragedy,
can have any difficulty about Aristotle’s meaning. Our pity is engaged
for the persons represented, and our terror is upon our own account.
Pity indeed is here made to stand for all the sympathetic emotions,
because of these it is the capital. There can be no doubt, that our
sympathetic emotions are refined or improved by daily exercise; and in
what manner our other passions are refined by terror I have just now
said. One thing is certain, that no other meaning can justly be given to
the foregoing doctrine than that now mentioned; and that it was really
Aristotle’s meaning, appears from his 13th chapter, where he delivers
several propositions agreeable to the doctrine as here explained. These,
at the same time, I the rather chuse to mention; because, so far as
authority can go, they confirm the foregoing reasoning about the proper
subjects for tragedy. His first proposition is, That it being the
province of tragedy to excite pity and terror, an innocent person
falling into adversity ought never to be the subject. This proposition
is a necessary consequence of his doctrine as explained: a subject of
this nature may indeed excite pity and terror; but the former in an
inferior degree, and the latter in no degree for moral instruction. The
second proposition is, That we must not represent a wicked person
emerging from misery to good fortune. This excites neither terror nor
compassion, nor is agreeable in any respect. The third is, That the
misfortunes of a wicked person ought not to be represented. Such
representation may be agreeable in some measure upon a principle of
justice: but it will not move our pity; or any degree of terror, except
in those of the same vicious disposition with the person represented.
His last proposition is, That the only character fit for representation
lies in the middle, neither eminently good nor eminently bad; where the
misfortune is not the effect of deliberate vice, but of some involuntary
fault, as our author expresses it[52]. The only objection I find to
Aristotle’s account of tragedy, is, that he confines it within too
narrow bounds, by refusing admittance to the pathetic kind. For if
terror be essential to tragedy, no representation deserves that name,
but where the misfortunes exhibited are caused by a wrong balance of
mind, or some disorder in the internal constitution. Such misfortunes
always suggest moral instruction; and by such misfortunes only can
terror be excited for our improvement.

Thus Aristotle’s four propositions above mentioned, relate solely to
tragedies of the moral kind. Those of the pathetic kind, are not
confined within so narrow limits. Subjects fitted for the theatre, are
not in such plenty, as to make us reject innocent misfortunes which
rouse our sympathy, though they inculcate no moral. With respect to
subjects of this kind, it may indeed be a doubtful question, whether the
conclusion ought not always to be happy. Where a person of integrity is
represented as suffering to the end under misfortunes purely accidental,
we depart discontented, and with some obscure sense of injustice; for
seldom is man so submissive to the course of Providence, as not to
revolt against the tyranny and vexations of blind chance: he will be
inclined to say, This ought not to be. I give for an example the _Romeo
and Juliet_ of Shakespear, where the fatal catastrophe is occasioned by
Friar Laurence’s coming to the monument a minute too late. Such a story
we think of with regret: we are vexed at the unlucky chance, and go away
dissatisfied. This is a temper of mind which ought not to be cherished;
and for that reason, I vote for excluding stories of this kind from the
theatre. The misfortunes of a virtuous person arising from necessary
causes, or from a chain of unavoidable circumstances, will, I am apt to
think, be considered in a different light. Chance affords always a
gloomy prospect, and in every instance gives an impression of anarchy
and misrule. A regular chain, on the other hand, of causes and effects,
directed by the general laws of nature, never fails to suggest the hand
of Providence; to which we submit without resentment, being conscious
that submission is our duty[53]. For that reason, we are not
dissatisfied with the distresses of Voltaire’s _Mariamne_, though
redoubled on her till the moment of her death, without the least fault
or failing on her part. Her misfortunes are owing to a cause extremely
natural, and not unfrequent, the jealousy of a barbarous husband. The
fate of Desdemona in the _Moor of Venice_, affects us in the same
manner. We are not so easily reconciled to the fate of Cordelia in _King
Lear_: the causes of her misfortune, are by no means so evident, as to
exclude the gloomy notion of chance. In short, it appears, that a
perfect character suffering under misfortunes is qualified for being
the subject of a pathetic tragedy, provided chance be excluded. Nor is
it altogether inconsistent with a moral tragedy: it may successfully be
introduced as an under-part, supposing the chief place to be filled with
an imperfect character from which a moral can be drawn. This is the case
of Desdemona and Mariamne just now mentioned; and it is the case of
Monimia and Belvidera, in Otway’s two tragedies, _The Orphan_, and
_Venice preserv’d_.

I had an early opportunity to unfold a curious doctrine, That fable
operates on our passions, by representing its events as passing in our
sight, and by deluding us into a conviction of reality[54]. Hence, in
epic and dramatic compositions, it is of importance to employ every
means that may promote the delusion, such as the borrowing from history
some noted event, with the addition of circumstances that may answer the
author’s purpose. The principal facts are known to be true; and we are
disposed to extend our belief to every circumstance. But in chusing a
subject that makes a figure in history, greater precaution is necessary
than where the whole is invented. In the first place, no circumstances
must be added, but such as connect naturally with what are known to be
true: history may be supplied, but it must not be contradicted. In the
next place, a pure fable, entirely new with respect to the persons as
well as the incidents, may be supposed an ancient or a modern story. But
if the poet build upon truth, the subject he chuses must be distant in
time, or at least in place; for he ought by all means to avoid the
familiarity of persons and events nearly connected with us. Familiarity
ought more especially to be avoided in an epic poem, the peculiar
character of which is dignity and elevation. Modern manners make but a
poor figure in such a poem[55].

After Voltaire, no writer, it is probable, will think of erecting an
epic poem upon a recent event in the history of his own country. But an
event of this kind is perhaps not altogether unqualified for tragedy. It
was admitted in Greece, and Shakespear has employ’d it successfully in
several of his pieces. One advantage it possesses above fiction, that of
more readily engaging our belief, which tends above any other particular
to raise our sympathy. The scene of comedy is generally laid at home:
familiarity is no objection; and we are peculiarly sensible of the
ridicule of our own manners.

After a proper subject is chosen, there appears to me some delicacy in
dividing it into parts. The conclusion of a book in an epic poem, or of
an act in a play, cannot be altogether arbitrary; nor be intended for so
slight a purpose as to make the parts of equal length. The supposed
pause at the end of every book, and the real pause at the end of every
act, ought always to coincide with some pause in the action. In this
respect, a dramatic or epic poem, ought to resemble a sentence or
period in language, divided into members that are distinguished from
each other by regular pauses: or it ought to resemble a piece of music,
having a full close at the end, preceded by imperfect closes that
contribute to the melody. Every act therefore ought to close with some
incident that makes a pause in the action; for otherwise there can be no
pretext for interrupting the representation. It would be absurd to break
off in the very heat of action: against this every one would exclaim.
The absurdity still remains, though the action relents, if it be not
actually suspended for some time. This rule is also applicable to an
epic poem; though there a deviation from the rule is less remarkable,
because it is in the reader’s power to hide the absurdity, by proceeding
instantly to another book. The first book of the _Paradise Lost_, ends
without any regular close, perfect or imperfect: it breaks off abruptly,
where Satan, seated on his throne, is prepared to make a speech to the
convocated host of the fall’n angels; and the second book begins with
the speech. Milton seems to have copied the _Æneid_, of which the two
first books are divided much in the same manner. Neither is there any
proper pause at the end of the fifth book of the _Æneid_. There is no
proper pause at end of the seventh book of _Paradise Lost_, nor at the
end of the eleventh.

       *       *       *       *       *

Hitherto I have carried on together the epic and dramatic compositions.
I proceed to handle them separately, and to mention circumstances
peculiar to each, beginning with the epic kind. In a theatrical
entertainment, which employs both the eye and the ear, it would be a
monstrous absurdity to introduce upon the stage invisible beings in a
visible shape. But it has been much disputed, whether such beings may
not be properly introduced in an epic poem. If we rest upon the
authority of practice, we must declare for the affirmative; and
Boileau[56], among many other critics, is a stout champion for this sort
of machinery. But waving authority, which is apt to impose upon the
judgement, let us draw what light we can from reason. I begin with a
preliminary remark, That this matter is but indistinctly handled by
critics. It is laid down above, that several passions incite the mind to
animate its objects[57]: the moral virtues become so many goddesses, and
even darts and arrows are inspired with life and action. But then it
must not be overlooked, that such personification, being the work of
imagination, is descriptive only, and assumes not even an appearance of
truth[58]. This is very different from what is termed _machinery_, where
deities, angels, devils, or other supernatural powers, are introduced as
real personages, mixing in the action, and contributing to the
catastrophe; and yet these two things are constantly jumbled together in
the reasoning. The poetical privilege of animating insensible objects
for the sake of description, cannot be controverted, because it is
founded on a natural principle. But has the privilege of machinery, if
it be a privilege, the same good foundation? Far from it: nothing can
be more unnatural. Its effects, at the same time, are deplorable. First,
it gives an air of fiction to the whole; and prevents that impression of
reality which is requisite to interest our affections, and to move our
passions[59]. This of itself is sufficient to explode machinery,
whatever entertainment it may give to readers of a fantastic taste or
irregular imagination. And next, were it possible to disguise the
fiction, and to delude us into a notion of reality, which I think can
hardly be, an insuperable objection would still remain, which is, that
the aim or end of an epic poem can never be accomplished in any
perfection where machinery is introduced. Virtuous emotions cannot be
raised successfully but by the actions of those who are endued with
passions and affections like our own, that is, by human actions. And as
for moral instruction, it is evident, that we can draw none from beings
who act not upon the same principles with us. A fable in Æsop’s manner
is no objection to this reasoning. His lions, bulls, and goats, are
truly men under disguise: they act and feel in every respect as human
beings; and the moral we draw is founded on that supposition. Homer, it
is true, introduces the gods into his fable; and he was authorised to
take that liberty by the religion of his country; it being an article in
the Grecian creed, that the gods often interpose visibly and bodily in
human affairs. I must however observe, that Homer’s deities do no honour
to his poems. Fictions that transgress the bounds of nature, seldom have
a good effect: they may inflame the imagination for a moment, but will
not be relished by any person of a correct taste. Let me add, that of
whatever use such fictions may be to a mean genius, an able writer has
much finer materials of Nature’s production for elevating his subject,
and making it interesting.

Boileau, a strenuous advocate for the Heathen deities, as observed,
declares against angels and devils, though supported by the religious
creed of his country. One would be apt to imagine, that a critic famed
for his good taste, could have no other meaning than to justify the
employing Heathen deities for enlivening or elevating the description.
But as the Heathen deities make not a better figure in poetical language
than angels and devils, Boileau, in pleading for the former, certainly
meant, if he had any distinct meaning, that these may be introduced as
actors. And, in fact, he himself is guilty of this glaring absurdity,
where it is not so pardonable as in an epic poem. In his ode upon the
taking of Namur, he demands with a most serious countenance, whether the
walls were built by Apollo or Neptune; and in relating the passage of
the Rhine, _anno_ 1672, he describes the god of that river as fighting
with all his might to oppose the French monarch. This is confounding
fiction with reality at a strange rate. The French writers in general
run into this error: wonderful! that they should not be sensible how
ridiculous it is.

That this is a capital error in the _Gierusalleme liberata_, Tasso’s
greatest admirers must acknowledge. A situation can never be intricate,
nor the reader ever in pain about the catastrophe, so long as there is
an angel, devil, or magician, to lend a helping hand. Voltaire, in his
essay upon epic poetry, talking of the _Pharsalia_, observes
judiciously, “That the proximity of time, the notoriety of events, the
character of the age, enlightened and political, joined with the
solidity of Lucan’s subject, deprived him of all liberty of poetical
fiction.” Is it not amazing, that a critic who reasons so justly with
respect to others, can be so blind with respect to himself? Voltaire,
not satisfied to enrich his language with images drawn from invisible
and superior beings, introduces them into the action. In the sixth canto
of the _Henriade_, St Louis appears in person, and terrifies the
soldiers; in the seventh canto, St Louis sends the god of Sleep to
Henry; and, in the tenth, the demons of Discord, Fanaticism, War, &_c._
assist Aumale in a single combat with Turenne, and are chased away by a
good angel brandishing the sword of God. To blend such fictitious
personages in the same action with mortals, makes a bad figure at any
rate; and is intolerable in a history so recent as that of Henry IV.
This singly is sufficient to make the _Henriade_ a short-liv’d poem,
were it otherwise possessed of every beauty. I have tried serious
reasoning upon this subject; but ridicule, I suppose, will be found a
more successful weapon, which Addison has applied in an elegant manner:
“Whereas the time of a general peace is, in all appearance, drawing
near; being informed that there are several ingenious persons who intend
to shew their talents on so happy an occasion, and being willing, as
much as in me lies, to prevent that effusion of nonsense which we have
good cause to apprehend; I do hereby strictly require every person who
shall write on this subject, to remember that he is a Christian, and not
to sacrifice his catechism to his poetry. In order to it, I do expect of
him in the first place, to make his own poem, without depending upon
Phœbus for any part of it, or calling out for aid upon any of the muses
by name. I do likewise positively forbid the sending of Mercury with
any particular message or dispatch relating to the peace; and shall by
no means suffer Minerva to take upon her the shape of any
plenipotentiary concerned in this great work. I do further declare, that
I shall not allow the destinies to have had an hand in the deaths of the
several thousands who have been slain in the late war; being of opinion
that all such deaths may be very well accounted for by the Christian
system of powder and ball. I do therefore strictly forbid the fates to
cut the thread of man’s life upon any pretence whatsoever, unless it be
for the sake of the rhyme. And whereas I have good reason to fear, that
Neptune will have a great deal of business on his hands in several poems
which we may now suppose are upon the anvil, I do also prohibit his
appearance, unless it be done in metaphor, simile, or any very short
allusion; and that even here he be not permitted to enter, but with
great caution and circumspection. I desire that the same rule may be
extended to his whole fraternity of Heathen gods; it being my design to
condemn every poem to the flames in which Jupiter thunders, or exercises
any other act of authority which does not belong to him. In short, I
expect that no Pagan agent shall be introduced, or any fact related
which a man cannot give credit to with a good conscience. Provided
always, that nothing herein contained shall extend, or be construed to
extend, to several of the female poets in this nation, who shall still
be left in full possession of their gods and goddesses, in the same
manner as if this paper had never been written.” _Spectator_, Nº 523.

The marvellous is indeed so much promoted by machinery, that it is not
wonderful to find it embraced by the bulk of writers, and perhaps of
readers. If indulged at all, it is generally indulged to excess. Homer
introduces his deities with no greater ceremony than his mortals; and
Virgil has still less moderation: an over-watched pilot cannot fall
asleep and drop into the sea by natural means: the two lovers, Æneas
and Dido, cannot take the same bed, without the immediate interposition
of superior powers. The ridiculous in such fictions, must appear even
through the thickest vail of gravity and solemnity.

Angels and devils serve equally with the Heathen deities, as materials
for figurative language, perhaps better among Christians, because we
believe in them, and not in the Heathen deities. But every one is
sensible, as well as Boileau, that the invisible powers in our creed
make a much worse figure as actors in a modern poem, than the invisible
powers in the Heathen creed did in ancient poems. The reason I take to
be what follows. The Heathen deities, in the opinion of their votaries,
were beings elevated one step only above mankind, actuated by the same
passions, and directed by the same motives; therefore not altogether
improper to mix with mankind in an important action. In our creed,
superior beings are placed at such a mighty distance from us, and are of
a nature so different, that with no propriety can they appear with us
upon the same stage. Man is a creature so much inferior, that he loses
all dignity when set in opposition.

There seems to be no doubt, that an historical poem admits the
embellishment of allegory, as well as of metaphor, simile, or other
figure. Moral truth, in particular, is finely illustrated in the
allegorical manner. It amuses the fancy to find abstract terms, by a
sort of magic, converted into active beings; and it is delightful to
trace a general proposition in a pictured event. But allegorical beings
should be confined within their own sphere; and never be admitted to mix
in the principal action, nor to co-operate in retarding or advancing the
catastrophe. This would have a still worse effect, than the introduction
of invisible powers; and I am ready to assign the reason. An historical
fable affords entertainment chiefly by making us conceive its personages
to be really existing and acting in our presence: in an allegory, this
agreeable delusion is denied; for we must not imagine an allegorical
personage to be a real being, but the figure only of some virtue or
vice; otherwise the allegory is lost. The impression of real existence,
essential to an epic poem, is inconsistent with that figurative
existence which is essential to an allegory; and therefore no method can
be more effectual to destroy the impression of reality, than to
introduce allegorical beings co-operating with those whom we conceive to
be really existing. The love-episode in the _Henriade_[60], is
insufferable by the discordant mixture of allegory with real life. This
episode is copied from that of Rinaldo and Armida in the _Gierusalemme
liberata_, which hath no merit to intitle it to be copied. An
allegorical object, such as fame in the _Æneid_, and the temple of love
in the _Henriade_, may find place in a description: but to introduce
Discord as a real personage, imploring the assistance of Love as another
real personage, to enervate the courage of the hero, is making these
figurative beings act beyond their sphere, and creating a strange jumble
of discordant materials, _viz._ truth and fiction. The allegory of Sin
and Death in the _Paradise Lost_, is, I presume, not generally
relished, though it is not entirely of the same nature with what I have
been condemning. The _Paradise Lost_ is not confined to the history of
our first parents; and in a work comprehending the achievements of
superior beings, there is more room for fancy than where it is confined
to human actions.

What is the true notion of an episode? or how is it to be distinguished
from what is really a part of the principal action? Every incident that
promotes or retards the catastrophe, must be a part of the principal
action. This clears the nature of an episode; which may be defined, “An
incident connected with the principal action, but which contributes not
either to advance or retard it.” The descent of Æneas into hell doth not
advance or retard the catastrophe; and therefore is an episode. The
story of Nisus and Euryalus, producing an alteration in the affairs of
the contending parties, is a part of the principal action. The
family-scene in the sixth book of the _Iliad_ is of the same nature: by
Hector’s retiring from the field of battle to visit his wife, the
Grecians got liberty to breathe, and even to press upon the Trojans. It
being thus the nature of an episode to break the unity of action, it
ought never to be indulged unless to refresh and unbend the mind after
the fatigue of a long narration. This purpose of an episode demands the
following properties. It ought to be well connected with the principal
action: it ought to be short: and it ought to be lively and interesting.

       *       *       *       *       *

Next, upon the peculiarities of a dramatic poem. And the first I shall
mention is a double plot; being naturally led to it by what is said
immediately above. One of these double plots must be of the nature of an
episode in an epic poem; for it would distract the spectator, instead of
entertaining him, if he were forc’d to attend, at the same time, to two
capital plots equally interesting. An under-plot in a tragedy has seldom
a good effect; because a passionate piece cannot be too simple. The
sympathetic emotions once roused, cling to their objects, and cannot
bear interruption: when a subject fills the mind, it leaves no room for
any separate concern[61]. Variety is more tolerable in comedy, which
pretends only to amuse, without totally occupying the mind. But even
here, to make a double plot agreeable, a good deal of art is requisite.
The under-plot ought not to vary greatly in its tone from that which is
principal: passions may be varied, but discordant passions are
unpleasant when jumbled together. This is a solid objection to
tragi-comedy. For this reason, I blame the _Provok’d Husband_: all the
scenes that bring the family of the Wrongheads into action, being
ludicrous and farcical, agree very ill with the sharpness and severity
of the principal subject, exhibiting the discord betwixt Lord Townly and
his lady. The same objection touches not the double plot of the
_Careless Husband_: the different subjects are sweetly connected; and
have only so much variety as to resemble shades of colours harmoniously
mixed. But this is not all. The under plot ought to be connected with
the principal action, so as to employ the same persons: the intervals or
pauses of the principal action ought to be filled with the under-plot;
and both ought to be concluded together. This is the case of the _Merry
Wives of Windsor_.

Violent action ought to be excluded from the stage. While the dialogue
runs on, a thousand particulars concur to delude us into an impression
of reality; genuine sentiments, passionate language, and persuasive
gesture. The spectator once engaged, is willing to be deceived, loses
sight of himself, and without scruple enjoys the spectacle as a reality.
From this absent state, he is roused by violent action: he wakes as from
a pleasing dream, and gathering his senses about him, finds all to be a
fiction. Horace delivers the same rule; and sounds it upon the reason

    Ne pueros coram populo Medea trucidet;
    Aut humana palam coquat exta nefarius Atreus;
    Aut in avem Progne vertatur, Cadmus in anguem.
    Quodcunque ostendis mihi sic, incredulus odi.

The French critics, as it appears to me, misapprehend the reason of this
rule. Shedding blood upon the stage, say they, is barbarous and shocking
to a polite audience. This no doubt is an additional reason for
excluding bloodshed from the French stage, supposing the French to be
in reality so delicate. But this evidently is not the reason that
weighed with the Greeks: that polite people had no notion of such
delicacy; witness the murder of Clytemnestra by her son Orestes, passing
behind the scene, as represented by Sophocles. Her voice is heard
calling out for mercy, bitter expostulations on his part, loud shrieks
upon her being stabb’d, and then a deep silence. I appeal to every
person of feeling, whether this scene be not more horrible, than if the
deed had been committed in sight of the spectators upon a sudden gust of
passion. According to the foregoing reasoning of the French critics,
there is nothing to exclude from the stage a duel occasioned by an
affair of honour, because in it there is nothing barbarous or shocking
to a polite audience: yet a scene of this nature is excluded from the
French stage; which shows, without more argument, that these critics
have misapprehended the rule laid down by Horace. If Corneille, in
representing the affair betwixt Horatius and his sister, upon which
murder ensues behind the scene, had no other view than to remove from
the spectators a scene of horror, he certainly was in a capital mistake:
for murder in cold blood, which in some measure was the case as
represented, is more horrible even where the conclusive stab is not
seen, than the same act performed on the stage by violent and
unpremeditated passion, as suddenly repented of as committed. I heartily
agree with Addison[62], that no part of this incident ought to have been
represented, but reserved for a narrative, with all the alleviating
circumstances possible in favour of the hero. This is the only method to
avoid the difficulties that unqualify this incident for representation,
a deliberate murder on the one hand, and on the other a violent action
performed on the stage, which must rouse the spectator from his dream of

       *       *       *       *       *

I shall finish with a few words upon the dialogue; which ought to be so
conducted as to be a true representation of nature. I talk not here of
the sentiments, nor of the language; for these come under different
heads. I talk of what properly belongs to dialogue-writing; where every
single speech, short or long, ought to arise from what is said by the
former speaker, and furnish matter for what comes after, till the end of
the scene. In this view, the whole speeches, from first to last,
represent so many links, all connected together in one regular chain. No
author, ancient or modern, possesses the art of dialogue equal to
Shakespear. Dryden, in this particular, may justly be placed as his
opposite. He frequently introduces three or four persons speaking upon
the same subject, each throwing out his own sentiments separately,
without regarding what is said by the rest. I give for an example the
first scene of _Aurenzebe_. Sometimes he makes a number club in relating
an event, not to a stranger, supposed ignorant of it, but to one
another, for the sake merely of speaking. Of this notable sort of
dialogue, we have a specimen in the first scene of the first part of the
_Conquest of Granada_. In the second part of the same tragedy, scene
second, the King, Abenamar, and Zulema, make their separate
observations, like so many soliloquies, upon the fluctuating temper of
the mob. It puts one in mind of a pastoral, where two shepherds are
introduced reciting couplets alternately, each in praise of his own
mistress, as if they were contending for a prize.

The bandying sentiments in this manner, beside an unnatural air, has
another bad effect. It stays the course of the action, because it is not
productive of any consequence. In Congreve’s comedies, the action is
often suspended to make way for a play of wit. But of this more
particularly in the chapter immediately following.


The three Unities.

The first chapter unfolds the pleasure we have in a chain of connected
facts. In histories of the world, of a country, of a people, this
pleasure is but faint; because the connections are slight or obscure. We
find more entertainment in biography, where the incidents are connected
by their relation to one person, who makes a figure and commands our
attention. But the greatest entertainment of the kind, is afforded by
the history of a single event, supposing it to be interesting. The
history of one event produceth a more entire connection among the parts,
than the history of one person. In the latter, the circumstances are not
otherwise connected than by their relation to that person: in the
former, the circumstances are connected by the strongest of all
relations, that of cause and effect. Thus, the circumstances of a single
event, having a mutual connection extremely intimate, form a delightful
train: we survey with peculiar pleasure a number of facts that give
birth to each other; and we pass with ease and satisfaction from the
first to the last.

But this subject merits a more particular discussion. When we consider
the chain of causes and effects in the material world, independent of
purpose, design, or thought, we find a train of incidents in succession,
without beginning, middle, or end. Every thing that happens is both a
cause and an effect: it is the effect of something that goes before, and
the cause of one or many things that follow. One incident may affect us
more, another less; but all of them, great and small, are so many links
in the universal chain. The mind, in viewing these incidents, cannot
rest or settle ultimately upon any one; but is carried along in the
train without any close.

But when the intellectual world is taken under view, in conjunction with
the material, the scene is varied. Man acts with deliberation, will, and
choice; he acts with a view to some end, glory, for example, or riches,
or conquest, the procuring happiness to individuals, or to his country
in general; and he proposes means and lays schemes to attain the end
proposed. Here is recognised a capital end or event, connected with
subordinate events or incidents by the relation of causation. In running
over a series of subordinate events, we cannot rest upon any one;
because they are presented to us as means only, leading to some end. But
we rest with satisfaction upon the ultimate event; because there, the
purpose, the plan, the aim, of the chief person or persons, is completed
and brought to a final conclusion. This indicates a beginning, a middle,
and an end, of what Aristotle calls _an entire action_[63]. The story
naturally begins with describing those circumstances which move the
distinguished person to form a plan, in order to compass some desired
event. The prosecution of that plan, and the obstructions, carry the
reader into the heat of action. The middle is properly where the action
is the most involved; and the end is where the event is brought about,
and the design accomplished.

A design or plan thus happily perfected, after many obstructions,
affords wonderful delight to the reader. And to produce this delight, a
principle mentioned above[64] mainly contributes; a principle that
disposes the mind to complete every work commenced, and in general to
carry every thing to its ultimate conclusion.

I have given the foregoing example of a plan laid down and completed,
because it affords the clearest conception of a beginning, a middle, and
an end, in which consists unity of action: and indeed stricter unity
cannot be imagined than in this case. But an action may have unity, or a
beginning, middle, and end, without so intimate a relation of parts. The
catastrophe may be different from what is intended or desired; which is
frequently the case in our best tragedies. The _Æneid_ is an instance of
means employ’d to produce a certain event, and these means crowned with
success. The _Iliad_ is formed upon a different model. It begins with
the quarrel betwixt Achilles and Agamemnon: it goes on to describe the
several effects produced by that cause; and ends in a reconciliation.
Here is unity of action, no doubt, a beginning, a middle, and an end: it
must however be acknowledged, that the _Æneid_ is more happy in point of
connection. The mind hath a propensity to go forward in the chain of
history: it keeps always in view the expected event; and when the
incidents or under-parts are connected together by their relation to the
event, the mind runs sweetly and easily along them. This pleasure we
have in the _Æneid_. But it is not altogether so pleasant, as in the
_Iliad_, to connect effects by their common cause; for such connection
forces the mind to a continual retrospect: looking backward is like
walking backward.

But Homer’s plan is still more imperfect, for another reason, That the
events described are but imperfectly connected with the wrath of
Achilles as their cause. His wrath did not exert itself in action; and
the misfortunes of his countrymen were but negatively the effects of his
wrath, by depriving them of his assistance.

If unity of action be a capital beauty in a fable imitative of human
affairs, a double action must be a capital defect, by carrying on
together two trains of unconnected objects. For the sake of variety, we
indulge an under-plot that contributes to the principal event. But two
unconnected events are a great deformity; and it lessens the deformity
but a very little, to engage the same actors in both. Ariosto is quite
licentious in this particular: he carries on at the same time a
plurality of unconnected stories. His only excuse is, that his plan is
perfectly well adjusted to his subject; for every thing in the _Orlando
Furioso_ is wild and extravagant.

To state facts according to the order of time, is the most natural and
the most simple method: a method however not so essential, in an
historical fable especially, as not to yield to some conspicuous
beauties[65]. If a noted story, cold and simple in its first movements,
be made the subject of an epic poem, the reader may be hurried into the
heat of action, reserving the preliminaries for a conversation-piece, if
it shall be thought necessary. This method, at the same time, being
dramatic, hath a peculiar beauty, which narration cannot reach[66].
Romance-writers, who give little attention to nature, deviate in this
particular, among many, from a just standard. They make no difficulty of
presenting to the reader, without the least preparation, unknown persons
engaged in some adventure equally unknown. In _Cassandra_, two
personages, who afterward are discovered to be the heroes of the story,
start up completely armed upon the banks of the Euphrates, and engage in
a single combat[67].

A play analyzed, is a chain of connected facts, of which each scene
makes a link. Each scene, accordingly, ought to produce some incident
relative to the catastrophe or ultimate event, by advancing or retarding
it. If no incident be produced, such a scene, which may be termed
barren, ought not to be indulged, because it breaks the unity of action.
A barren scene can never be intitled to a place, because the chain is
complete without it. In the _Old Bachelor_, the 3d scene of act 2. and
all that follow to the end of that act, are mere conversation-pieces,
without any consequence. The 10th and 11th scenes, act 3. _Double
Dealer_, the 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th scenes, act 1. _Love for
Love_, are of the same kind. Neither is _The Way of the World_ entirely
guiltless of such scenes. It will be no justification, that they help to
display characters. It were better, like Dryden, in his _dramatis
personæ_, to describe characters beforehand, which would not interrupt
the chain of action. But a writer of genius has no occasion for such
artifice: he can display the characters of his personages much more to
the life in sentiment and action. How successfully is this done by
Shakespear! in whose works there is not to be found a single barren

Upon the whole, it appears, that all the facts in an historical fable,
ought to have a mutual connection by their common relation to the grand
event or catastrophe. And this relation, in which the _unity_ of action
consists, is equally essential to epic and dramatic compositions.

How far the unities of time and of place are essential, is a question of
greater intricacy. These unities were strictly observed in the Grecian
and Roman theatres; and they are inculcated by the French and English
critics as essential to every dramatic composition. In theory, these
unities are also acknowledged by our best poets, though their practice
is seldom correspondent: they are often forc’d to take liberties, which
they pretend not to justify, against the practice of the Greeks and
Romans, and against the solemn decision of their own countrymen. But in
the course of this inquiry it will be made evident, that the example of
the ancients ought, upon this point, to have no weight with us, and that
our critics are guilty of a mistake, in admitting no greater latitude of
place and time than was admitted in Greece and Rome.

Suffer me only to premise, that the unities of place and time, are not,
by the most rigid critics, required in a narrative poem. In such a
composition, if it pretend to copy nature, these unities would be
absurd; because real events are seldom confined within narrow limits
either of place or of time. And yet we can follow history, or an
historical fable, through all its changes, with the greatest facility.
We never once think of measuring the real time by what is taken in
reading; nor of forming any connection betwixt the place of action and
that which we occupy.

I am sensible, that the drama differs so far from the epic, as to admit
different rules. It will be observed, “That an historical fable, which
affords entertainment by reading solely, is under no limitation of time
or of place, more than a genuine history; but that a dramatic
composition cannot be accurately represented, unless it be limited, as
its representation is, to one place and to a few hours; and therefore
that no fable can be admitted but what has these properties, because it
would be absurd to compose a piece for representation that cannot be
justly represented.” This argument, I acknowledge, has at least a
plausible appearance; and yet one is apt to suspect some fallacy,
considering that no critic, however strict, has ventured to confine the
unities of place and of time within so narrow bounds[68].

A view of the Grecian drama, and a comparison betwixt it and our own,
may perhaps help to relieve us from this dilemma. If they be differently
constructed, as shall by and by be made evident, it is possible that the
foregoing reasoning may not be applicable with equal force to both. This
is an article, that, with relation to the present subject, has not, so
far as I know, been examined by any writer.

All authors agree, that the first notion of tragedy in Greece, was
derived from the hymns in praise of Bacchus, which were sung in parts by
a chorus. Thespis, to relieve the singers, and for the sake of variety,
introduced one actor; who gave a narrative of the subject, and sometimes
represented one or other personage. Eschylus, introducing a second
actor, formed the dialogue; by which the performance became dramatic:
and the actors were multiplied when the subject represented made it
necessary. But still, the chorus, which gave a beginning to tragedy, was
considered as an essential part of its constitution. In the first scene,
generally, are unfolded the preliminary circumstances that lead to the
grand event. This scene is by Aristotle termed the _prologue_. In the
second scene, where the action properly begins, the chorus is
introduced, which, as originally, continues upon the stage during the
whole performance. Sophocles adheres to this plan religiously. Euripides
is not altogether so correct. In some of his pieces it becomes necessary
to remove the chorus. But this is seldom done; and when done, matters
are so ordered as that their absence is but momentary. The chorus often
mix in the dialogue; and when the dialogue happens to be suspended, the
chorus, during the interval, is employ’d in singing. Nor does the
removal of the chorus, when that unusual step is risked, interrupt the
representation. They never leave the stage of their own accord, but at
the command of some principal personage who constantly waits their

Thus the Grecian drama is a continued representation without any
interruption; a circumstance that merits attention. A continued
representation without a pause, affords not opportunity to vary the
place of action; and has withal a very short duration. To a
representation so confined in place and time, the foregoing reasoning is
strictly applicable. A real or feigned action that is brought to a
conclusion after considerable intervals of time and frequent change of
place, cannot accurately be copied in a representation that admits of no
latitude in either. Hence it is, that the unities of place and of time,
were, or ought to have been, strictly observed in the Grecian tragedies.
This is made necessary by the very constitution of their drama; for it
is absurd to compose a tragedy that cannot be justly represented.

Modern critics, who for our drama pretend to establish rules founded on
the practice of the Greeks, are guilty of an egregious blunder. The
unities of place and of time, so much vaunted, were in Greece, as we
see, a matter of necessity, not of choice. I am now ready to show, that
if we submit to these fetters, it must be from choice not necessity.
This will be evident upon taking a view of the construction of our
drama, which differs widely from that of Greece; whether more or less
perfect, is a separate question, which shall be handled afterward. By
dropping the chorus, an opportunity is afforded to split our drama into
parts or acts, which in the representation are distinguished by
intervals of time; and during these intervals, the stage is totally
evacuated and the spectacle suspended. This construction qualifies our
drama for subjects spread through a wide space both of time and of
place. The time supposed to pass during the suspension of the
representation, is not measured by the time of the suspension; nor is
any connection formed, betwixt the box we sit in and the place where
things are supposed to be transacted in our absence: and by that means,
many subjects can be justly represented in our theatres, for which there
was no place in those of ancient Greece. This doctrine may be
illustrated, by comparing a modern play to a set of historical pictures:
let us suppose them five in number, and the resemblance will be
complete. Each of the pictures resembles an act in one of our plays.
There must necessarily be the strictest unity of place and of time in
each picture; and the same necessity requires these two unities during
each act of a play, because during an act there is no interruption in
the spectacle. Now, when we view in succession a number of such
historical pictures, let it be, for example, the history of Alexander by
Le Brun, we have no difficulty to conceive, that months or years have
passed betwixt the subjects exhibited in two different pictures, though
the interruption is imperceptible in passing our eye from the one to the
other. We have as little difficulty to conceive a change of place,
however great. In this matter, there is truly no difference betwixt five
acts of a modern play and five such pictures. Where the representation
is suspended, we can with the greatest facility suppose any length of
time or any change of place. The spectator, it is true, may be
conscious, that the real time and place are not the same with what are
employ’d in the representation, even including the intervals. But this
is a work of reflection; and by the same reflection he may also be
conscious, that Garrick is not King Lear, that the playhouse is not
Dover cliffs, nor the noise he hears thunder and lightning. In a word,
during an interruption of the representation, it is not more difficult
for a spectator to imagine himself carried from place to place, and from
one period of time to another, than at once, when the scene first opens,
to be carried from London to Rome, or from the present time two thousand
years back. And indeed, it must appear ridiculous, that a critic, who
makes no difficulty of supposing candle-light to be sun-shine, and some
painted canvasses a palace or a prison, should affect so much difficulty
in imagining a latitude of place or of time in the story, beyond what is
necessary in the representation.

There are, I acknowledge, some effects of great latitude in time that
ought never to be indulged in a composition for the theatre. Nothing can
be more absurd, than at the close to exhibit a full grown person who
appears a child at the beginning. The mind rejects as contrary to all
probability, such latitude of time as is requisite for a change so
remarkable. The greatest change from place to place hath not altogether
the same bad effect. In the bulk of human affairs place is not material;
and the mind, when occupied with an interesting event, is little
regardful of minute circumstances. These may be varied at will, because
they scarce make any impression.

But though I have thus taken arms to rescue modern poets from the
slavish fetters of modern critics, I would not be understood to justify
liberty without any reserve. An unbounded licence with relation to place
and time, is faulty for a reason that seems to have been overlooked: it
never fails to break in upon the unity of action. In the ordinary course
of human affairs, single events, such as are fit to be represented on
the stage, are confined to a narrow spot, and generally employ no great
extent of time. We accordingly seldom find strict unity of action in a
dramatic composition, where any remarkable latitude is indulged in these
particulars. I must say farther, that a composition which employs but
one place, and requires not a greater length of time than is necessary
for the representation, is so far the more perfect: because the
confining an event within so narrow bounds, contributes to the unity of
action; and also prevents that labour, however slight, which the mind
must undergo in imagining frequent changes of place and many intervals
of time. But still I must insist, that the limitation of place and time
which was necessary in the Grecian drama, is no rule to us; and
therefore that though such limitation adds one beauty more to the
composition, it is at best but a refinement, which may justly give place
to a thousand beauties more substantial. And I may add, that it is
extremely difficult, I was about to say impracticable, to contract
within the Grecian limits, any fable so fruitful of incidents in number
and variety as to give full scope to the fluctuation of passion.

It may now appear, that critics who put the unities of place and of time
upon the same footing with the unity of action, making them all equally
essential, have not attended to the nature and construction of the
modern drama. If they admit an interrupted representation, with which no
writer finds fault, it is plainly absurd to condemn the greatest
advantage it procures us, that of representing many interesting subjects
excluded from the Grecian stage. If there needs must be a reformation,
why not restore the ancient chorus and the ancient continuity of action?
There is certainly no medium: for to admit an interruption without
relaxing from the strict unities of place and of time, is in effect to
load us with all the inconveniencies of the ancient drama, and at the
same time to with-hold from us its advantages.

And therefore the only proper question is, whether our model be or be
not a real improvement. This indeed may justly be called in question;
and in order to a fair comparative trial, some particulars must be
premised. When a play begins, we have no difficulty to enter into the
scene of action, however distant it be in time or in place. We know that
the play is a representation only: and the imagination, with facility,
accommodates itself to every circumstance. Our situation is very
different after we are engaged. It is the perfection of representation
to hide itself, to impose upon the spectator, and to produce in him an
impression of reality, as if he were spectator of a real event[69]. Any
interruption annihilates this impression: he is roused out of his waking
dream, and unhappily restored to his senses. So difficult it is to
support this impression of reality, that much slighter interruptions
than the interval betwixt two acts are sufficient to dissolve the charm.
In the 5th act of the _Mourning Bride_, the three first scenes are in a
room of state; the fourth in a prison. This change is operated by
shifting the scene, which is done in a trice. But however quick the
transition may be, it is impracticable to impose upon the spectators so
far as to make them conceive that they are actually carried from the
palace to the prison. They immediately reflect, that the palace and
prison are imaginary, and that the whole is a fiction.

From these premisses one will be naturally led, at first view, to
declare against the frequent interruptions in the modern drama. It will
occur, “That every interruption must have the effect to banish the dream
of reality, and with it to banish our concern, which cannot subsist
while we are conscious that all is a fiction; and therefore that in the
modern drama sufficient time is not afforded for the fluctuation and
swelling of passion, like what is afforded in the Grecian drama, where
there is no interruption.” This reasoning, it must be owned, has a
specious appearance: but we must not turn faint-hearted upon the first
repulse; let us rally our troops for a second engagement.

Considering attentively the ancient drama, we find, that though the
representation is never interrupted, the principal action is suspended
not less frequently than in the modern drama. There are five acts in
each; and the only difference is, that in the former, when the action is
suspended, as it is at the end of every act, opportunity is taken of the
interval to employ the chorus in singing. Hence it appears, that the
Grecian continuity of representation cannot have the effect to prolong
the impression of reality. To banish this impression, a suspension of
the action while the chorus is employ’d in singing, is not less
operative than a total suspension both of the representation and action.

But to open a larger view, I am ready to show, that a continued
representation, without a single pause even in the principal action, so
far from an advantage, would be really an imperfection; and that a
representation with proper pauses, is better calculated for moving the
audience, and making the strongest impressions. Representation cannot
very long support an impression of reality: when the spirits are
exhausted by close attention and by the agitation of passion, an
uneasiness ensues, which never fails to banish the waking dream. Now
supposing an act to employ as much time as can easily be given with
strict attention to any incident, a supposition that cannot be far from
the truth; it follows, that the impression of reality would not be
prolonged beyond the space of an act, even supposing a continued
representation. Hence it appears, that a continued representation
without any pause, would be a bad contrivance: it would break the
attention by overstraining it, and produce a total absence of mind. In
this respect, the four pauses have a fine effect. By affording to the
audience a seasonable respite when the impression of reality is gone,
and while nothing material is in agitation, they relieve the mind from
its fatigue; and consequently prevent a wandering of thought at the very
time possibly of the most interesting scenes.

In one article indeed, the Grecian model has greatly the advantage: its
chorus, during an interval, not only preserves alive the impressions
made upon the audience, but also prepares their hearts finely for new
impressions. In our theatres, on the contrary, the audience, at the end
of every act, are in a manner solicited to withdraw their thoughts from
what has been passing, and to trifle away the time the best way they
can. Thus in the intervals betwixt the acts, every warm impression is
banished; and the spectators begin the next act cool and indifferent,
as at the commencement of the play. Here is a gross malady in our
theatrical representations; but a malady that luckily is not incurable.
To revive the Grecian chorus, would be to revive the Grecian slavery of
place and time. But I can figure a detached chorus coinciding with a
pause in the representation, as the ancient chorus did with a pause in
the principal action. What objection, for example, can there lie against
music betwixt the acts, vocal and instrumental, adapted to the subject?
Such detached chorus, beside admitting the same latitude that we enjoy
at present as to time and place, would have more than one happy effect:
it would recruit the spirits; and it would preserve entire, the tone, if
not the tide, of passion. The music that comes first, ought to accord
with the tone of the preceding passion, and be gradually varied till it
accord with the tone of the passion that is to succeed in the next act.
The music and the representation would both of them be gainers by their
conjunction; which will thus appear. Music that accords with the present
tone of mind, is, upon that account, doubly agreeable; and accordingly,
though music singly hath not power to raise any passion, it tends
greatly to support a passion already raised. Further, music, though it
cannot of itself raise a passion, prepares us for the passion that
follows: by making chearful, tender, melancholy, or animated
impressions, music has power to dispose the heart to various passions.
Of this power, the first scene of the _Mourning Bride_ is a shining
instance: without the preparation of soft music in a melancholy strain,
it would be extremely difficult to enter all at once into Almeria’s deep
distress. In this manner, music and representation support each other
delightfully: the impression made upon the audience by the
representation, is a fine preparation for the music that succeeds; and
the impression made by the music, is a fine preparation for the
representation that succeeds. It appears to me clear, that, by some such
contrivance, the modern drama may be improved, so as to enjoy the
advantage of the ancient chorus without its slavish limitation of place
and time. And as to music in particular, I cannot figure any plan that
would tend more to its improvement. Composers, those for the stage at
least, would be reduced to the happy necessity of studying and imitating
nature; instead of indulging, according to the present fashion, in wild,
fantastic, and unnatural conceits. But we must return to our subject,
and finish the comparison betwixt the ancient and the modern drama.

The numberless improprieties forc’d upon the Grecian dramatic poets by
the constitution of their drama, are, of themselves one should think, a
sufficient reason for preferring that of the moderns, even abstracting
from the improvement proposed. To prepare the reader for this article,
it must be premised, that as in the ancient drama the place of action
never varies, a place necessarily must be chosen to which every person
may have access without any improbability. This confines the scene to
some open place, generally the court or area before a palace; which
excludes from the Grecian theatre transactions within doors, though
these commonly are the most important. Such cruel restraint is of
itself sufficient to cramp the most pregnant invention; and accordingly
the Grecian writers, in order to preserve unity of place, are reduced to
woful improprieties. In the _Hippolytus_ of Euripides[70], Phedra,
distressed in mind and body, is carried without any pretext from her
palace to the place of action, is there laid upon a couch unable to
support herself upon her limbs, and made to utter many things improper
to be heard by a number of women who form the chorus. What is still
worse, her female attendant uses the strongest intreaties to make her
reveal the secret cause of her anguish; which at last Phedra, contrary
to decency and probability, is prevailed upon to do in presence of this
very chorus[71]. Alcestes, in _Euripides_, at the point of death, is
brought from the palace to the place of action, groaning and lamenting
her untimely fate[72]. In the _Trachiniens_ of Sophocles[73], a secret
is imparted to Dejanira, the wife of Hercules, in presence of the
chorus. In the tragedy of _Iphigenia_, the messenger employ’d to carry
Clitemnestra the news that Iphigenia was sacrificed, stops short at the
place of action, and with a loud voice calls the Queen from her palace
to hear the news. Again, in the _Iphigenia in Tauris_, the necessary
presence of the chorus forces Euripides into a gross absurdity, which is
to form a secret plot in their hearing[74]; and to disguise the
absurdity, much courtship is bestowed on the chorus, not one woman but a
number, to engage them to secrecy. In the _Medea_ of Euripides, that
princess makes no difficulty, in presence of the chorus, to plot the
death of her husband, of his mistress, and of her father the King of
Corinth, all by poison. It was necessary to bring Medea upon the stage,
and there is but one place of action, which is always occupied by the
chorus. This scene closes the second act; and in the end of the third,
she frankly makes the chorus her confidents in ploting the murder of her
own children. Terence, by identity of place, is often forc’d to make a
conversation within doors be heard on the open street: the cries of a
woman in labour are there heard distinctly.

The Grecian poets are not more happy with respect to time than with
respect to place. In the _Hippolytus_ of Euripides, that prince is
banished at the end of the fourth act. In the first scene of the
following act, a messenger relates to Theseus the whole particulars of
the death of Hippolytus by the sea-monster. This remarkable event must
have employ’d many hours; and yet in the representation it is confined
to the time employ’d by the chorus upon the song at the end of the 4th
act. The inconsistency is still greater in the _Iphigenia in
Tauris_[75]. The song could not exhaust half an hour; and yet the
incidents supposed to have happened in that time, could not naturally be
transacted in less than half a day.

The Grecian artists are not less frequently obliged to transgress
another rule, derived also from a continued representation, which is,
that the place of action must constantly be occupied; for the very least
vacuity is an interruption of the representation. Sophocles, with regard
to this rule as well as others, is generally correct. But Euripides
cannot bear such restraint: he often evacuates the stage, and leaves it
empty for others in succession. _Iphigenia in Tauris_, after pronouncing
a soliloquy in the first scene, leaves the place of action, and is
succeeded by Orestes and Pylades. They, after some conversation, walk
off; and Iphigenia re-enters, accompanied with the chorus. In the
_Alcestes_, which is of the same author, the place of action is void at
the end of the third act. It is true, that to cover this irregularity,
and to preserve the representation in motion, Euripides is extremely
careful to fill the stage without loss of time. But this is still an
interruption, and a link of the chain broken: for during the change of
the actors, there must always be a space of time, when we cannot justly
say, that the stage is occupied by either set. It makes indeed a more
remarkable interruption, to change the place of action as well as the
actors; but that was not practicable upon the Grecian stage.

It is hard to say upon what model Terence has formed his plays. Having
no chorus, there is a cessation in the representation at the end of
every act. But advantage is not taken of this cessation, even to vary
the place of action. The street is always chosen, where every thing
passing may be seen by every person: and by this choice, the most
sprightly and interesting parts of the action, which commonly pass
within doors, are excluded; witness the last act of the _Eunuch_. He
hath submitted to the same slavery with respect to time. In a word, a
play with a regular chorus, is not more confined in place and time than
his plays are. Thus a zealous sectary follows implicitly ancient forms
and ceremonies, without once considering whether their introductive
cause be still subsisting. Plautus, of a bolder genius than Terence,
makes good use of the liberty afforded by an interrupted representation:
he varies the place of action upon all occasions, when the variation
suits his purpose.

The intelligent reader will by this time understand, that I plead for no
change of place in our plays but after an interval, nor for any latitude
in point of time but what falls in with an interval. The unities of
place and time ought to be strictly observed during each act; for during
the representation, there is no opportunity for the smallest deviation
from either. Hence it is an essential requisite, that during an act the
stage be always occupied; for even a momentary vacuity makes an
interval. Another rule is not less essential: it would be a gross breach
of the unity of action, to exhibit upon the stage two separate actions
at the same time; and therefore to preserve this unity, it is necessary
that each personage introduced during an act, be linked to those in
possession of the stage, so as to join all in one action. These things
follow from the very conception of an act, which admits not the
slightest interruption. The moment the representation is intermitted,
there is an end of that act; and we have no other notion of a new act,
but where after a pause or interval, the representation is again put in
motion. French writers, generally speaking, are extremely correct in
this particular: the English, on the contrary, are so irregular as
scarce to deserve a criticism: actors not only succeed each other in the
same place without connection; but, what is still worse, they frequently
succeed each other in different places. This change of place in the same
act, ought never to be indulged; for, beside breaking the unity of the
act, it has a disagreeable effect. After an interval, the mind can
readily accommodate itself to any place that is necessary, just as
readily as at the commencement of the play; but during the
representation, the mind rejects change of place. From the foregoing
censure must be excepted the _Mourning Bride_ of Congreve, where
regularity concurs with the beauty of sentiment and of language, to make
it one of the most complete pieces England has to boast of. I must
acknowledge, however, that in point of regularity, this elegant
performance is not altogether unexceptionable. In the four first acts,
the unities of place and time are strictly observed; but in the last
act, there is a capital error with respect to unity of place. In the
three first scenes of that act, the place of action is a room of state,
which is changed to a prison in the fourth scene: the chain of the
actors withal is broken; for the persons introduced in the prison, are
different from those who made their appearance in the room of state.
This remarkable interruption of the representation, makes in effect two
acts instead of one: and therefore, if it be a rule, that a play ought
not to consist of more acts than five, this performance is so far
defective in point of regularity. I may add, that even admitting six
acts, the irregularity would not be altogether removed, without a longer
pause in the representation than is allowed in the acting; for it
requires more than a momentary interruption, to enable the imagination
readily to accommodate itself to a new place, or to prorogation of time.
In _The Way of the World_, of the same author, unity of place is
preserved during every act, and a stricter unity of time during the
whole play than is necessary.


Gardening and Architecture.

The books that have been composed upon architecture and upon
embellishing ground, abound in practical instruction necessary for a
mechanic: but in vain would we rummage them for rational principles to
improve our taste. In a general system, it might be thought sufficient
to have unfolded the principles that govern these and other fine arts,
leaving the application to the reader: but as I would neglect no
opportunity of illustrating these principles, I propose to give a
specimen of their application to gardening and architecture, being
favourite arts, though I profess no peculiar skill in either.

Gardening was at first an useful art: in the garden of Alcinoous,
described by Homer, we find nothing done for pleasure merely. But
gardening is now improved into a fine art; and when we talk of a garden
without any epithet, a pleasure garden, by way of eminence, is
understood. The garden of Alcinoous, in modern language, was but a
kitchen-garden. Architecture has run the same course. It continued many
ages an useful art merely, before it aspired to be classed with the fine
arts. Architecture therefore and gardening must be handled in a twofold
view, as being useful arts as well as fine arts. The reader however will
not here expect rules for improving any work of art in point of utility.
It is no part of my plan to treat of any useful art as such. But there
is a beauty in utility; and in discoursing of beauty, that of utility
ought not to be neglected. This leads us to consider gardens and
buildings in different views: they may be destined for use solely, for
beauty solely, or for both. Such variety in the destination, bestows
upon gardening and architecture a great command of beauties complex not
less than various, which makes it difficult to form an accurate taste in
these arts. And hence that difference and wavering of taste which is
more remarkable here than in any art that has but a single destination.

Architecture and gardening cannot otherwise entertain the mind, than by
raising certain agreeable emotions or feelings; and before we descend to
particulars, these arts shall be presented in a general view, by showing
what are the emotions or feelings that can be raised by them. Poetry, as
to its power of raising emotions, possesses justly the first place among
the fine arts; for scarce one emotion of human nature is beyond its
reach. Painting and sculpture are more circumscribed, having the command
of no emotions but what are produced by sight. They are peculiarly
successful in expressing painful passions, which are display’d by
external signs extremely legible[76]. Gardening, beside the emotions of
beauty by means of regularity, order, proportion, colour, and utility,
can raise emotions of grandeur, of sweetness, of gaiety, melancholy,
wildness, and even of surprise or wonder. In architecture, regularity,
order, and proportion, and the beauties that result from them, are still
more conspicuous than in gardening. But with respect to the beauty of
colour, architecture is far inferior. Grandeur can be expressed in a
building, perhaps more successfully than in a garden; but as to the
other emotions above mentioned, architecture hitherto has not been
brought to the perfection of expressing them distinctly. To balance this
defect, architecture can display the beauty of utility in the highest

But gardening possesses one advantage, which never can be equalled in
the other art. A garden may be so contrived, as in various scenes to
raise successively all its different emotions. But to operate this
delicious effect, the garden must be extensive, so as to admit a slow
succession: for a small garden, comprehended at one view, ought to be
confined to one expression[77]: it may be gay, it may be sweet, it may
be gloomy; but an attempt to mix these, would create a jumble of
emotions not a little unpleasant. For the same reason, a building, even
the most magnificent, is necessarily confined to one expression.

Architecture, considered as a fine art, instead of rivaling gardening in
its progress toward perfection, seems not far advanced beyond its
infant-state. To bring it to maturity, two things mainly are wanted.
First, A greater variety of parts and ornaments than it seems provided
with. Gardening here has greatly the advantage: it is provided with such
plenty and such variety of materials, that it must be the fault of the
artists, if the spectator be not entertained with different scenes, and
affected with various emotions. But materials in architecture are so
scanty, that artists hitherto have not been successful in raising
emotions, other than those of beauty and grandeur. With respect to the
former, there are indeed plenty of means, regularity, order, symmetry,
simplicity; and with respect to the latter, the addition of size is
sufficient. But though it be evident, that every building ought to have
a certain character or expression suitable to its destination; yet this
is a refinement which artists have scarce ventured upon. A death’s head
and bones employ’d in monumental buildings, will indeed produce an
emotion of gloom and melancholy: but every ornament of this kind, if
these can be termed so, ought to be rejected, because they are in
themselves disagreeable. The other thing wanted to bring the art to
perfection, is, to ascertain the precise impression made by every single
part and ornament, cupolas, spires, columns, carvings, statues, vases,
&_c._ For in vain will an artist attempt rules for employing these,
either singly or in combination, until the different emotions or
feelings they produce be distinctly explained. Gardening in this
particular hath also the advantage. The several emotions raised by
trees, rivers, cascades, plains, eminences, and other materials it
employs, are understood; and the nature of each can be described with
some degree of precision, which is done occasionally in the foregoing
parts of this work.

In gardening as well as in architecture, simplicity ought to be the
governing taste. Profuse ornament hath no better effect than to confound
the eye, and to prevent the object from making an impression as one
entire whole. An artist destitute of genius for capital beauties, is
naturally prompted to supply the defect by crowding his plan with slight
embellishments. Hence in gardens, triumphal arches, Chinese houses,
temples, obelisks, cascades, fountains, without end; and hence in
buildings, pillars, vases, statues, and a profusion of carved work. Thus
a woman who has no just taste, is apt to overcharge every part of her
dress with ornament. Superfluity of decoration hath another bad effect:
it gives the object a diminutive look. An island in a wide extended
lake, makes it appear larger; but an artificial lake, which must always
be little, appears still less by making an island in it[78].

In forming plans for embellishing a field, an artist void of taste deals
in straight lines, circles, squares; because these show best upon
paper. He perceives not, that to humour and adorn nature is the
perfection of his art; and that nature, neglecting regularity, reacheth
superior beauties by distributing her objects in great variety with a
bold hand. A large field laid out with strict regularity, is stiff and
artificial. Nature indeed, in organized bodies comprehended under one
view, studies regularity; which, for the same reason, ought to be
studied in architecture: but in large objects, which cannot otherwise be
surveyed than in parts and by succession, regularity and uniformity
would be useless properties, because they cannot be discovered by the
eye[79]. Nature therefore, in her large works, neglects these
properties; and in copying nature the artist ought to neglect them.

       *       *       *       *       *

Having thus far carried on a comparison betwixt gardening and
architecture, I proceed to rules peculiar to each; and I begin with
gardening. The simplest idea of a garden, is that of a spot embellished
with a number of natural objects, trees, walks, polish’d parterres,
flowers, streams, &_c._ One more complex comprehends statues and
buildings, that nature and art may be mutually ornamental. A third
approaching nearer perfection, is of objects assembled together, in
order to produce, not only an emotion of beauty, essential to gardens of
every kind, but also some other particular emotion, grandeur, for
example, gaiety, or any other of those above mentioned. The most perfect
idea of a garden is an improvement upon the third, requiring the
adjustment of the several parts, in such a manner as to inspire all the
different emotions that can be raised by gardening. In this idea of a
garden, the arrangement is an important circumstance; for it has been
shown, that some emotions figure best in conjunction, and that others
ought always to appear in succession and never in conjunction. I have
had occasion to observe above[80], that when the most opposite
emotions, such as gloominess and gaiety, stillness and activity, follow
each other in succession, the pleasure on the whole will be the
greatest; but that opposite or dissimilar emotions ought not to be
united, because they produce an unpleasant mixture[81]. For that reason,
a ruin, affording a sort of melancholy pleasure, ought not to be seen
from a flower-parterre, which is gay and chearful. But to pass
immediately from an exhilerating object to a ruin, has a glorious
effect; for each of the emotions is the more sensibly felt by being
contrasted with the other. Similar emotions, on the other hand, such as
gaiety and sweetness, stillness and gloominess, motion and grandeur,
ought to be raised together; for their effects upon the mind are greatly
heightened by their conjunction[82].

Kent’s method of embellishing a field, is admirable. It is painting a
field with beautiful objects, natural and artificial, disposed like
colours upon a canvas. It requires indeed more genius to paint in the
gardening way. In forming a landscape upon a canvas, no more is required
but to adjust the figures to each other: an artist who lays out ground
in Kent’s manner, has an additional task, which is to adjust his figures
to the several varieties of the field.

One garden must be distinguished from a plurality; and yet it is not
obvious wherein the unity of a garden consists. A notion of unity is
indeed suggested from viewing a garden surrounding a palace, with views
from each window, and walks leading to every corner. But there may be a
garden without a house. In this case, I must pronounce, that what makes
it one garden, is the unity of design, every single spot appearing part
of a whole. The gardens of Versailles, properly expressed in the plural
number, being no fewer than sixteen, are indeed all of them connected
with the palace, but have scarce any mutual connection: they appear not
like parts of one whole, but rather like small gardens in contiguity.
Were these gardens at some distance from each other, they would have a
better effect. Their junction breeds confusion of ideas, and upon the
whole gives less pleasure than would be felt in a slower succession.

Regularity is required in that part of a garden which joins the
dwelling-house; for being considered as a more immediate accessory, it
ought to partake the regularity of the principal object[83]. But in
proportion to the distance from the house considered as the centre,
regularity ought less and less to be studied. In an extensive plan, it
hath a fine effect to lead the mind insensibly from regularity to a bold
variety giving an impression of grandeur. And grandeur ought to be
studied as much as possible, even in a more confined plan, by avoiding a
multiplicity of small parts[84]. Nothing contributes more to grandeur,
than a right disposition of trees. Let them be scattered extremely thin
near the dwelling-house, and thickened in proportion to their distance:
distant eminences to be filled with trees, and laid open to view. A
small garden, on the other hand, which admits not grandeur, ought to be
strictly regular.

Milton, describing the garden of Eden, prefers justly the grand taste to
that of regularity.

    Flowers worthy of paradise, which not nice art
    In beds and curious knots; but Nature boon
    Pour’d forth profuse on hill, and dale, and plain;
    Both where the morning sun first warmly smote
    The open field, and where the unpierc’d shade
    Imbrown’d the noontide-bow’rs.
         _Paradise Lost, b. 4._

In the manner of planting a wood or thicket, much art may be display’d.
A common centre of walks, termed _a star_, from whence are seen a number
of remarkable objects, appears too artificial to be agreeable. The
crowding withal so many objects together, lessens the pleasure that
would be felt in a slower succession. Abandoning therefore the star,
being stiff and formal, let us try to substitute some form more natural,
that will lay open all the remarkable objects in the neighbourhood. This
may be done by openings in the wood at various distances, which, in
walking, bring successively under the eye every object as by accident.
Some openings display single objects, some a plurality in a line, and
some a rapid succession of them. In this plan, the mind at intervals is
roused and cheared by agreeable objects; and the scene is greatly
heightened by the surprise it occasions when we stumble, as it were,
upon objects of which we had no expectation.

As gardening is not an inventive art, but an imitation of nature, or
rather nature itself ornamented; it follows necessarily, that every
thing unnatural ought to be rejected with disdain. Statues of wild
beasts vomiting water, a common ornament in gardens, prevails in those
of Versailles. Is this ornament in a good taste? A _jet d’eau_, being
purely artificial, may, without disgust, be tortured into a thousand
shapes: but a representation of what really exists in nature, admits not
any unnatural circumstance. These statues therefore in the gardens of
Versailles must be condemned: and yet so insensible has the artist been
to just imitation, as to have display’d his vicious taste without the
least colour or disguise. A lifeless statue of an animal pouring out
water, may be endured without much disgust. But here the lions and
wolves are put in violent action: each has seized its prey, a deer or a
lamb, in act to devour. And yet, instead of extended claws and open
mouth, the whole, as by a hocus-pocus trick, is converted into a
different scene: the lion, forgetting his prey, pours out water
plentifully; and the deer, forgetting its danger, performs the same
operation; a representation not less absurd than that in the opera,
where Alexander the Great, after mounting the wall of a town besieged,
turns about and entertains his army with a song.

In gardening, every lively exhibition of what is beautiful in nature has
a fine effect: on the other hand, distant and faint imitations are
displeasing to every one of taste. The cutting evergreens in the shape
of animals, is a very ancient practice; as appears from the epistles of
Pliny, who seems to be a great admirer of this puerile conceit. The
propensity to imitation gave birth to this practice; and has supported
it wonderfully long, considering how faint and insipid the imitation is.
But the vulgar, great and small, devoid of taste, are entertained with
the oddness and singularity of a resemblance, however distant, betwixt a
tree and an animal. An attempt, in the gardens of Versailles, to
imitate a grove of trees by a group of _jets d’eau_, appears, for the
same reason, not less ridiculous.

In laying out a garden, every thing trivial or whimsical ought to be
avoided. Is a labyrinth then to be justified? It is a mere conceit, like
that of composing verses in the shape of an axe or an egg. The walks and
hedges may be agreeable; but in the form of a labyrinth, they serve to
no end but to puzzle. A riddle is a conceit not so mean; because the
solution is a proof of sagacity, which affords no aid in tracing a

The gardens of Versailles, executed with infinite expence by men at that
time in high repute, are a lasting monument of a taste the most vicious
and depraved. The faults above mentioned, instead of being avoided, are
chosen as beauties, and multiplied without end. Nature, it would seem,
was deemed too vulgar to be imitated in the works of a magnificent
monarch; and for that reason preference was given to things unnatural,
which probably were mistaken for supernatural. I have often amused
myself with a fanciful resemblance betwixt these gardens and the Arabian
tales. Each of them is a performance intended for the amusement of a
great king: in the sixteen gardens of Versailles there is no unity of
design, more than in the thousand and one Arabian tales: and, lastly,
they are equally unnatural; groves of _jets d’eau_, statues of animals
conversing in the manner of Æsop, water issuing out of the mouths of
wild beasts, give an impression of fairy-land and witchcraft, not less
than diamond-palaces, invisible rings, spells and incantations.

A straight road is the most agreeable, because it shortens the journey.
But in an embellished field, a straight walk has an air of stiffness and
confinement: and at any rate is less agreeable than a winding or waving
walk; for in surveying the beauties of a fine field, we love to roam
from place to place at freedom. Winding walks have another advantage: at
every step they open new views. In short, the walks in a field intended
for entertainment, ought not to have any appearance of a road. My
intention is not to make a journey, but to feast my eye with the
beauties of art and nature. This rule excludes not long straight
openings terminating upon distant objects. These, beside variety, never
fail to raise an emotion of grandeur, by extending in appearance the
size of the field. An opening without a terminating object, soon closes
upon the eye: but an object, at whatever distance, continues the
opening; and deludes the spectator into a conviction, that the trees
which confine the view are continued till they join the object. Straight
walks also in recesses do extremely well: they vary the scenery, and are
favourable to meditation.

An avenue ought not to be directed in a straight line upon a
dwelling-house: better far an oblique approach in a waving line, with
single trees and other scattered objects interposed. In a direct
approach, the first appearance continues the same to the end: we see a
house at a distance, and we see it all along in the same spot without
any variety. In an oblique approach, the intervening objects put the
house seemingly in motion: it moves with the passenger, and appears to
direct its course so as hospitably to intercept him. An oblique approach
contributes also to variety: the house being seen successively in
different directions, takes on at every step a new figure.

A garden on a flat ought to be highly and variously ornamented, in order
to occupy the mind and prevent its regretting the insipidity of an
uniform plain. Artificial mounts in this view are common: but no person
has thought of an artificial walk elevated high above the plain. Such a
walk is airy, and tends to elevate the mind: it extends and varies the
prospect: and it makes the plain, seen from a height, appear more

Whether should a ruin be in the Gothic or Grecian form? In the former, I
say; because it exhibits the triumph of time over strength, a melancholy
but not unpleasant thought. A Grecian ruin suggests rather the triumph
of barbarity over taste, a gloomy and discouraging thought.

Fountains are seldom in a good taste. Statues of animals vomiting water,
which prevail every where, stand condemned. A statue of a whale
spouting water upward from its head, would in one sense be natural, as
whales of a certain species have that power. The design however would
scarce be relished, because its singularity would give it the appearance
of being unnatural. There is another reason against it, that the figure
of a whale is in itself not agreeable. In the many fountains in and
about Rome, statues of fishes are frequently employ’d to support a large
basin of water. This unnatural conceit cannot be otherwise explained,
than by the connection betwixt water and the fish that swim in it; which
by the way is a proof of the influence that even the slighter
connections have on the mind. The only good design for a fountain I have
met with, is what follows. In an artificial rock, rugged and abrupt,
there is a cavity out of sight at the top: the water, convey’d to it by
a pipe, pours or trickles down the broken parts of the rock, and is
collected into a basin at the foot: it is so contrived, as to make the
water fall in sheets or in rills at pleasure.

Hitherto a garden has been treated as a work intended solely for
pleasure, or, in other words, for giving impressions of intrinsic
beauty. What comes next in order is the beauty of a garden destined for
use, termed _relative beauty_[85]; and this branch shall be dispatched
in a few words. In gardening, luckily, relative beauty need never stand
in opposition to intrinsic beauty. All the ground that can be requisite
for use, makes but a small proportion of an ornamented field; and may be
put in any corner without obstructing the disposition of the capital
parts. At the same time, a kitchen-garden or an orchard is susceptible
of intrinsic beauty; and may be so artfully disposed among the other
parts, as by variety and contrast to contribute to the beauty of the
whole. In this respect, architecture is far more intricate, as will be
seen immediately: for there, it being often requisite to blend intrinsic
and relative beauty in the same building, it becomes a difficult task to
attain both in any perfection.

As gardening is brought to greater perfection in China than in any other
known country, an account of the means practised by Chinese artists to
inspire all the various emotions of gardening, will be a fine
illustration of the foregoing doctrine. In general, it is an
indispensable law with them, never to deviate from nature: but in order
to produce that degree of variety which is pleasing, every method is
used that is consistent with nature. Nature is strictly imitated in the
banks of their artificial lakes and rivers; which sometimes are bare and
gravelly, sometimes covered with wood quite to the brink of the water.
To flat spots adorned with flowers and shrubs, are opposed others steep
and rocky. We see meadows covered with cattle; rice-grounds that run
into the lakes; groves into which enter navigable creeks and rivulets.
These generally conduct to some interesting object, a magnificent
building, terraces cut in a mountain, a cascade, a grotto, an artificial
rock, and other such inventions. Their artificial rivers are generally
serpentine; sometimes narrow, noisy, and rapid; sometimes deep, broad,
and slow: and to make the scene still more active, mills and other
moving machines are often erected. In the lakes are interspersed
islands; some barren, surrounded with rocks and shoals; others inriched
with every thing that art and nature can furnish. Even in their cascades
they avoid regularity, as forcing nature out of its course: the waters
are seen bursting out from among the caverns and windings of the
artificial rocks; here an impetuous cataract, there many lesser falls:
and in its passage, the water is often impeded by trees and heaps of
stones, that seem brought down by the violence of the current. Straight
lines, generally avoided, are sometimes indulged, in order to take the
advantage of any interesting object at a distance, by directing openings
upon it.

Sensible of the influence of contrast, the Chinese artists deal in
sudden transitions, and in opposing to each other, forms, colours, and
shades. The eye is conducted, from limited to extensive views, and from
lakes and rivers to plains, hills, and woods: to dark and gloomy
colours, are opposed the more brilliant: the different masses of light
and shade are disposed in such a manner, as to render the composition
distinct in its parts, and striking on the whole. In plantations, the
trees are artfully mixed according to their shape and colour; those of
spreading branches with the pyramidal, and the light with the deep
green. They even introduce decay’d trees, some erect, and some half out
of the ground[86]. In order to heighten contrast, much bolder strokes
are risked. They sometimes introduce rough rocks, dark caverns, trees
ill formed and seemingly rent by tempests, or blasted by lightning, a
building in ruins or half consumed by fire. But to relieve the mind from
the harshness of such objects, they are always succeeded by the sweetest
and most beautiful scenes.

The Chinese study to give play to the imagination. They hide the
termination of their lakes: the view of a cascade is frequently
interrupted by trees, through which are seen obscurely the waters as
they fall. The imagination once roused, is disposed to magnify every

Nothing is more studied in Chinese gardens than to raise wonder or
surprise. In scenes calculated for that end, every thing appears like
fairy-land; a torrent, for example, convey’d under ground, producing an
uncommon sound that puzzles a stranger to guess what it may be; and, to
increase our wonder by multiplying such uncommon sounds, the rocks and
buildings are contrived with cavities and interstices. Sometimes one is
led insensibly into dark caverns, terminating unexpectedly in a
landscape inriched with all that nature affords the most delicious. At
other times, beautiful walks insensibly conduct us to a rough
uncultivated field, where bushes briers and stones interrupt the
passage: when we look about for an outlet, some rich prospect
unexpectedly opens to view. Another artifice is, to obscure some capital
part by trees or other interposed objects: our curiosity is raised to
know what lies beyond; and after a few steps, we are greatly surprised
with some scene totally different from what was expected.

I close these cursory observations upon gardening, with a remark that
must touch every reader. Rough uncultivated ground, dismal to the eye,
inspires peevishness and discontent. May not this be one cause of the
harsh manners of savages? In a field richly ornamented, are collected
beautiful objects of various kinds. Such a field displays in full
lustre, the goodness of the Deity and the ample provision he has made
for our happiness; which must fill every spectator, with gratitude to
his Maker and with benevolence to his fellow-creatures. Other fine arts
may be perverted to excite irregular, and even vicious, emotions: but
gardening, which inspires the purest and most refined pleasures, cannot
but promote every good affection. The gaiety and harmony of mind it
produceth, must naturally incline the spectator to communicate his
satisfaction to others by acts of humanity and kindness.

Having finished what occurred on gardening, I proceed to rules and
observations that more peculiarly concern architecture. Architecture
being an useful as well as a fine art, buildings and parts of buildings
must be distinguished into three kinds, _viz_. what are intended for
utility solely, what for ornament solely, and what for both. A building
intended for utility solely, such as detached offices, ought in every
part to correspond precisely to that intention. The least deviation from
use, though contributing to ornament, will be disagreeable. For every
work of use being considered as a means to an end, its perfection as a
means is the capital circumstance; and every other beauty, in
opposition, is neglected as improper and impertinent. In things again
intended for ornament, such as pillars, obelisks, triumphal arches,
beauty solely ought to be regarded. A Heathen temple must be considered
as merely ornamental; for being dedicated to some deity, and not
intended for habitation, it is susceptible of any figure and any
embellishment that fancy can suggest and beauty require. The great
difficulty of contrivance, respects buildings that are intended for
pleasure as well as for use. These ends, employing different and often
opposite means, are with difficulty reconciled. In palaces, and other
buildings sufficiently extensive to admit a variety of useful
contrivance, regularity justly takes the lead. But in dwelling-houses
that are too small for variety of contrivance, utility ought to prevail;
neglecting regularity so far as it stands in opposition to convenience.

Intrinsic and relative beauty being founded on different principles,
must be handled separately; and I begin with relative beauty, as of the
greater importance.

The proportions of a door, are determined by the use to which it is
destined. The door of a dwelling-house, which ought to correspond to the
human size, is confined to seven or eight feet in height, and three or
four in breadth. The proportions proper for the door of a barn or
coach-house, are widely different. Another consideration enters. To
study intrinsic beauty in a coach-house or barn, intended merely for
use, is obviously improper. But a dwelling-house may admit ornaments;
and the principal door of a palace demands all the grandeur that is
consistent with the foregoing proportions dictated by utility. It ought
to be elevated and approached by steps; and it may be adorned with
pillars supporting an architrave, or in any other beautiful manner. The
door of a church ought to be wide, in order to afford an easy passage
for a multitude. The wideness, at the same time, regulates the height,
as will appear by and by. The size of windows ought to be proportioned
to that of the room they serve with light; for if the apperture be not
sufficiently large to convey light to every corner, the room is dark and
gloomy. Steps of stairs ought to be accommodated to the human figure,
without regarding any other proportion: these steps accordingly are the
same in large and in small buildings, because both are inhabited by men
of the same size.

I proceed to consider intrinsic beauty blended with that which is
relative. A cube in itself is more agreeable than a parallelopipedon,
which will constantly hold in small figures. But a large building in
the form a cube, appears lumpish and heavy; while the other figure, set
on its smaller base, is by its elevation more agreeable: and hence the
beauty of a Gothic tower. But let us suppose this parallelopipedon
destin’d for a dwelling house, to make way for relative beauty. Here
utility prevails over elevation and a parallelopipedon, inconvenient by
its height, is set upon its larger base. The loftiness is gone; but that
loss is more than compensated by additional convenience; and for that
reason the form of a building spread more upon the ground than raised in
height, is always preferred for a dwelling-house, without excepting even
the most sumptuous palace.

With respect to the divisions within, utility requires that the rooms be
rectangular; for otherwise void spaces will be left of no use. A
hexagonal figure leaves no void spaces; but then it determines the rooms
to be all of one size, which is extremely inconvenient. A cube will at
first be pronounced the most agreeable figure; and this may hold in a
room of a moderate size. But in a very large room, utility requires a
different figure. The chief convenience of a great room, is unconfined
motion. This directs us to the greatest length that can be obtained. But
a square room of a great size is inconvenient, by removing far from the
hand, chairs and tables, which, when unemploy’d, must be ranged along
the sides of the room. Utility therefore requires a large room to be a
parallelogram. This figure, at the same time, is the best calculated for
receiving light; because, to avoid cross-light, all the windows ought to
be in one wall; and if the opposite wall be at such distance as not to
be fully lighted, the room must be obscure. The height of a room
exceeding nine or ten feet, has little or no relation to utility; and
therefore proportion is the only rule for determining the height when
above that number of feet.

As all artists who deal in the beautiful are naturally prone to
entertain the eye, they have great opportunity to exert their taste upon
palaces and sumptuous buildings, where, as above observed, intrinsic
beauty ought to have the ascendant over that which is relative. But
such propensity is unhappy with respect to private dwelling-houses;
because in these, relative beauty cannot be display’d in any perfection,
without abandoning intrinsic beauty. There is no opportunity for great
variety of form in a small house; and in an edifice of this kind,
internal convenience has not hitherto been happily adjusted to external
regularity. I am apt to believe, that an accurate coincidence here, is
beyond the reach of art. And yet architects always split upon this rock;
for they never will give over attempting to reconcile these two
incompatibles. How else should it be accounted for, that of the endless
variety of private dwelling-houses, there is not one to be found, that
is generally agreed upon as a good pattern? The unwearied propensity to
make a house regular as well as convenient, forces the architect, in
some articles, to sacrifice convenience to regularity, and in others,
regularity to convenience. By this means, the house, which turns out
neither regular nor convenient, never fails to displease. The faults are
obvious, and the difficulty of doing better is known to the artist

Nothing can be more evident, than that the form of a dwelling-house
ought to be suited to the climate; and yet no error is more common, than
to copy in Britain the form of Italian houses; not forgetting even those
parts that are purposely contrived for air, and for excluding the sun. I
shall give one or two instances. A colonnade along the front of a
building, hath a fine effect in Greece and Italy, by producing coolness
and obscurity, agreeable properties in warm and luminous climates. The
cold climate of Britain is altogether averse to this ornament. A
colonnade therefore, can never be proper in this country, unless when
employ’d to communicate with a detached building. Again, a logio opening
the house to the north, contrived in Italy for gathering cool air, is,
if possible, still more improper for this climate. Scarce endurable in
summer, it, in winter, exposes the house to the bitter blasts of the
north, and to every shower of snow and rain.

Having discussed what appeared necessary to be said upon relative
beauty, singly considered, or in combination with intrinsic beauty, the
next step is, to view architecture as one of the fine arts, and to
examine those buildings and parts of buildings that are solely
calculated to please the eye. In the works of nature, grand and
magnificent, variety prevails. The timid hand of art, is guided by rule
and compass. Hence it is, that in works which imitate nature, the great
art is to hide every appearance of art; which is done by avoiding
regularity and indulging variety. But in works of art that are original
and not imitative, such as architecture, strict regularity and
uniformity ought to be studied so far as consistent with utility.

In buildings intended to please the eye, proportion is not less
essential than regularity and uniformity; for we are so framed by
nature, as to be pleased equally with each of these. By many writers it
is taken for granted, that in all the parts of a building there are
certain strict proportions which please the eye; precisely as there are
certain strict proportions of sound which please the ear; and that in
both the slightest deviation is equally disagreeable. Others again seem
to relish more a comparison betwixt proportion in numbers and proportion
in quantity; and hold that the same proportions are agreeable in both.
The proportions, for example, of the numbers 16, 24, and 36 are
agreeable; and so, say they, are the proportions of a room, the height
of which is 16 feet, the breadth 24, and the length 36. This point, with
relation to the present subject, being of importance, the reader will
examine it with attention and impartiality. To refute the notion of a
resemblance betwixt musical proportions and those of architecture, it
might be sufficient to observe in general, that the one is addressed to
the ear, the other to the eye; and that objects of different senses have
no resemblance, nor indeed any relation to each other. But more
particularly, what pleases the ear in harmony, is not the proportion of
the strings of the instrument, but of the sounds that these strings
produce. In architecture, on the contrary, it is the proportion of
different quantities that pleases the eye, without the least relation to
sound. Beside, were quantity here to be the sole ground of comparison,
we have no reason to presume, that there is any natural analogy betwixt
the proportions that please in a building and the proportions of strings
that produce concordant sounds. I instance in particular an octave, the
most complete of all concords. An octave is produced by two strings of
the same tension and diameter, and as to length in the proportion of one
to two. I do not know, that this proportion will be agreeable in any two
parts of a building. I add, that concordant notes are produced by wind
instruments, which, as to proportion, appear not to have even the
slightest resemblance to a building.

With respect to the other notion instituting a comparison betwixt
proportion in numbers and proportion in quantity, I urge, that number
and quantity are so distinct from each other, as to afford no
probability of any natural relation betwixt them. Quantity is a real
quality of every substance or body: number is not a real quality, but
merely a conception that arises upon viewing a plurality of things in
succession. Because an arithmetical proportion is agreeable in numbers,
have we any reason to conclude that it must also be agreeable in
quantity? At this rate, a geometrical proportion and many others, ought
also to be agreeable in both. A certain proportion may coincide in both;
and among an endless variety of proportions, it would be wonderful, if
there never should be a coincidence. One example is given of this
coincidence, in the numbers 16, 24, and 36; but to be convinced that it
is merely accidental, we need but reflect, that the same proportions are
not applicable to the external figure of a house, and far less to a

That we are framed by nature to relish proportion as well as regularity,
is indisputable: but that agreeable proportion, like concord in sounds,
is confined to certain precise measures, is not warranted by experience:
on the contrary, we learn from experience, that various proportions are
equally agreeable, that proportion is never tied down to precise
measures but admits more and less, and that we are not sensible of
disproportion till the difference betwixt the quantities compared become
the most striking circumstance. Columns evidently admit different
proportions, equally agreeable. The case is the same in houses, rooms,
and other parts of a building. And this opens an interesting reflection.
The foregoing difference betwixt concord and proportion, is an
additional instance of that admirable harmony which subsists among the
several branches of the human frame. The ear is an accurate judge of
sounds and of their smallest differences; and that concord in sounds
should be regulated by accurate measures, is perfectly well suited to
this accuracy of perception. The eye is more uncertain about the size of
a large object, than of one that is small; and in different situations
the same object appears of different sizes. Delicacy of feeling
therefore with respect to proportion in quantities, would be an useless
quality. It is much better ordered, that there should be such a latitude
with respect to agreeable proportions, as to correspond to the
uncertainty of the eye with respect to quantity.

But this scene is too interesting to be passed over in a cursory view:
all its beauties are not yet display’d. I proceed to observe, that to
make the eye as delicate with respect to proportion as the ear is with
respect to concord, would not only be an useless quality, but be the
source of continual pain and uneasiness. I need go no farther for a
proof than the very room I possess at present: every step I take, varies
to me, in appearance, the proportion of the length and breadth. At that
rate, I should not be happy but in one precise spot, where the
proportion appears agreeable. Let me further observe, that it would be
singular indeed, to find in the nature of man, any two principles in
perpetual opposition to each other. This would precisely be the case, if
proportion were circumscribed like concord; for it would exclude all but
one of those proportions that utility requires in different buildings,
and in different parts of the same building.

It is ludicrous to observe all writers acknowledging the necessity of
accurate proportions, and yet differing widely about them. Laying aside
reasoning and philosophy, one fact universally agreed on ought to have
undeceived them, that the same proportions which please in a model are
not agreeable in a large building. A room 48 feet in length and 24 in
breadth and height, is well proportioned; but a room 12 feet wide and
high and 24 long, looks like a gallery.

Perrault, in his comparison of the ancients and moderns[88], is the only
author who runs to the opposite extreme; maintaining, that the different
proportions assigned to each order of columns are arbitrary, and that
the beauty of these proportions is entirely the effect of custom. This
bewrays ignorance of human nature, which evidently delights in
proportion, as well as in regularity, order, and propriety. But without
any acquaintance with human nature, a single reflection might have
convinced him of his error; that if these proportions had not
originally been agreeable, they could not have been established by
custom. If a thing be universal, it must be natural.

To illustrate the present point, I shall add a few examples of the
agreeableness of different proportions. In a sumptuous edifice, the
capital rooms ought to be large, for otherwise they will not be
proportioned to the size of the building. On the other hand, a very
large room in a small house, is disproportioned. But in things thus
related, the mind requires not a precise or single proportion, rejecting
all others; on the contrary, many different proportions are made equally
welcome. It is only when a proportion becomes loose and distant, that
the agreeableness abates, and at last vanisheth. In all buildings
accordingly, we find rooms of different proportions equally agreeable,
even where the proportion is not influenced by utility. With respect to
the height of a room, the proportion it ought to bear to the length and
breadth, is extremely arbitrary; and it cannot be otherwise, considering
the uncertainty of the eye as to the height of a room, when it exceeds
17 or 18 feet. In columns again, even architects must confess, that the
proportion of height and thickness varies betwixt 8 diameters and 10,
and that every proportion betwixt these two extremes is agreeable. But
this is not all. There must certainly be a further variation of
proportion, depending on the size of the column. A row of columns 10
feet high, and a row twice that height, require different proportions.
The intercolumniations must also differ in proportion according to the
height of the row.

Proportion of parts is not only itself a beauty, but is inseparably
connected with a beauty of the first magnitude. Parts that in
conjunction appear proportional, never fail separately to produce
similar emotions; which existing together, are extremely pleasant, as I
have had occasion to show[89]. Thus a room of which the parts are all
finely adjusted to each other, strikes us with the beauty of proportion.
It produceth at the same time a pleasure far superior. The length, the
breadth, the height, the windows, raise each of them separately an
emotion. These emotions are similar; and though faint when felt
separately, they produce in conjunction the emotion of concord or
harmony, which is extremely pleasant. On the other hand, where the
length of a room far exceeds the breadth, the mind comparing together
parts so intimately connected, immediately perceives a disagreement or
disproportion which disgusts. But this is not all. Viewing them
separately, different emotions are produced, that of grandeur from the
great length, and that of meanness or littleness from the small breadth,
which in union are disagreeable by their discordance. Hence it is, that
a long gallery, however convenient for exercise, is not an agreeable
figure of a room. We consider it, like a stable, as destined for use,
and expect not that in any other respect it should be agreeable.

Regularity and proportion are essential in buildings destined chiefly or
solely to please the eye, because they are the means to produce
intrinsic beauty. But a skilful artist will not confine his view to
regularity and proportion. He will also study propriety, which is
perceived when the form and ornaments of a structure are suited to the
purpose for which it is appointed. The sense of propriety dictates the
following rule, That every building ought to have an expression
corresponding to its destination. A palace ought to be sumptuous and
grand; a private dwelling, neat and modest; a playhouse, gay and
splendid; and a monument, gloomy and melancholy. A Heathen temple has a
double destination: it is considered chiefly as a house dedicated to
some divinity; and in that respect it ought to be grand, elevated, and
magnificent: it is considered also as a place of worship; and in that
respect it ought to be somewhat dark or gloomy; because dimness produces
that tone of mind which is suited to humility and devotion. A Christian
church is not considered as a house for the Deity, but merely a place of
worship: it ought therefore to be decent and plain, without much
ornament: a situation ought to be chosen, humble and retired; because
the congregation, during worship, ought to be humble and disengaged
from the world. Columns, beside their chief destination of being
supports, contribute to that peculiar expression which the destination
of a building requires: columns of different proportions, serve to
express loftiness, lightness, &_c._ as well as strength. Situation also
may contribute to expression: conveniency regulates the situation of a
private dwelling-house; but, as I have had occasion to observe[90], the
situation of a palace ought to be lofty.

And this leads me to examine, whether the situation of a great house,
where the artist is limited in his choice, ought in any measure to
regulate its form. The connection betwixt a great house and the
neighbouring grounds, though not extremely intimate, demands however
some congruity. It would, for instance, displease us to find an elegant
building thrown away upon a wild uncultivated country: congruity
requires a polished field for such a building; and beside the pleasure
of congruity, the spectator is sensible of the pleasure of concordance
from the similarity of the emotions produced by the two objects. The old
Gothic form of building seems well suited to the rough uncultivated
regions where it was invented. The only mistake was, the transferring
this form to the fine plains of France and Italy, better fitted for
buildings in the Grecian taste. But by refining upon the Gothic form,
every thing in the power of invention has been done, to reconcile it to
its new situation. The profuse variety of wild and grand objects about
Inverary, demanded a house in the Gothic form; and every one must
approve the taste of the proprietor, in adjusting so finely, as he has
done, the appearance of his house to that of the country where it is

The external structure of a great house, leads naturally to its internal
structure. A large and spacious room, receives us commonly upon our
entrance. This seems to me a bad contrivance in several respects. In the
first place, when immediately from the open air we step into such a
room, its size in appearance is diminished by contrast: it looks little
compared with the great canopy the sky. In the next place, when it
recovers its grandeur, as it soon doth, it gives a diminutive appearance
to the rest of the house: passing from it, every apartment looks little.
This room therefore may be aptly compared to the swoln commencement of
an epic poem.

    Bella per Emathios plusquam civilia campos.

In the third place, by its situation it serves only for a waiting-room,
and a passage to the principal apartments. And yet undoubtedly, the room
of the greatest size ought to be reserved for company. A great room,
which enlarges the mind and gives a certain elevation to the spirits, is
destined by nature for conversation. Rejecting therefore this form, I
take a hint from the climax in writing for another form that appears
more suitable. My plan is, first a handsome portico, proportioned to the
size and fashion of the front: this portico leads into a waiting-room of
a larger size; and this again to the great room, all by a progression
from small to great. If the house be very large, there may be space for
the following suit of rooms; first, a portico; second, a passage within
the house bounded by rows of columns on each side connected by arcades;
third, an octagon room, or of any other figure, about the centre of the
building; and, lastly, the great room.

Of all the emotions that can be raised by architecture, grandeur is that
which has the greatest influence on the mind. It ought therefore to be
the chief study of the artist, to raise this emotion in great buildings.
But it seems unhappy for architecture, that it is necessarily governed
by certain principles opposite to grandeur: the direct effect of
regularity and proportion, is to make a building appear less than it is
in reality. Any invention to reconcile these with grandeur, would be a
capital improvement in architecture.

Next of ornaments, which contribute greatly to give buildings a peculiar
expression. It has been a doubt with me, whether a building can
regularly admit any ornament but what is useful, or at least appears to
be useful. But considering the double aim of architecture, a fine as
well as an useful art, there is no good reason why ornaments may not be
added to please the eye without any relation to use. This liberty is
allowed in poetry, painting, and gardening, and why not in architecture
considered as a fine art? A private dwelling-house, it is true, and
other edifices where use is the chief aim, admit not regularly any
ornament but what has the appearance, at least, of use: but temples,
triumphal arches, and other buildings intended chiefly or solely for
show, may be highly ornamented.

This suggests a division of ornaments into three kinds, _viz._ ornaments
that are beautiful without relation to use, such as statues in niches,
vases, basso or alto relievo: next, things in themselves not beautiful,
but possessing the beauty of utility by imposing on the spectator, and
appearing to be of use, blind windows for example: the third kind is,
where the thing is in itself beautiful, and also takes on the
appearance of use; the case of a pilaster. With respect to the second,
it is an egregious blunder, to contrive the ornament so as to make it
appear useless. If a blind window therefore be necessary for regularity,
it ought to be so disguised, as not to be distinguished from the real
windows. If it appear to be a blind window, it is disgustful, as a vain
attempt to supply the want of invention. It shows the irregularity in a
stronger light; by signifying that a window ought to be there in point
of regularity, but that the architect had not skill sufficient to
connect external regularity with internal convenience.

From ornaments in general, we descend to a pillar, the chief ornament in
great buildings. The destination of a pillar is to support, really or in
appearance, another part termed _the architrave_. With respect to the
form of this ornament, I observe, that a circle is a more agreeable
figure than a square, a globe than a cube, and a cylinder than a
parallelopipedon. This last, in the language of architecture, is saying,
that a column is a more agreeable figure than a pilaster. For that
reason, it ought to be preferred, all other circumstances being equal.
Another reason concurs, that a column annexed to a wall, which is a
plain surface, makes a greater variety than a pilaster. There is an
additional reason for rejecting pilasters in the external front of a
building, arising from a principle unfolded above[91], _viz._ a
remarkable tendency in the mind of man, to advance every thing to its
perfection as well as to its final issue. If I see a thing obscurely in
a dim light, and by disjointed parts, my curiosity is roused, and
prompts me, out of the disjointed parts to compose an entire whole. I
suppose it to be, for example, a horse. My eye-sight being obedient to
this conjecture, I immediately perceive a horse, almost as distinctly as
in day-light. This principle is applicable to the case in hand. The most
superb front, at a great distance, appears a plain surface: approaching
gradually, we begin to perceive inequalities: these inequalities,
advancing a few steps more, take on the appearance of pillars; but
whether round or square, we are uncertain: our curiosity anticipating
our progress, cannot rest in suspense: we naturally suppose the most
complete pillar, or that which is the most agreeable to the eye; and we
immediately perceive, or seem to perceive, a number of columns: if upon
a near approach we find pilasters only, the disappointment makes these
pilasters appear disagreeable; when abstracted from that circumstance,
they would only have appeared somewhat less agreeable. But as this
deception cannot happen in the inner front inclosing a court, I see no
reason for excluding pilasters there, when there is any reason for
preferring them before columns.

With respect now to the parts of a column, a bare uniform cylinder
without base or capital, appears naked and scarce agreeable: it ought
therefore to have some finishing at the top and at the bottom. Hence the
three chief parts of a column, the shaft, the base, and the capital.
Nature undoubtedly requires a certain proportion among these parts, but
not limited within precise bounds. I suspect that the proportions in
use have been influenced in some degree by the human figure; the capital
being conceived as the head, the base as the feet. With respect to the
base indeed, the principle of utility interposes to vary it from the
human figure: the base must be so proportioned to the whole, as to give
the column the appearance of stability.

In architecture as well as in gardening, contradictory expressions ought
to be avoided. Firmness and solidity are the proper expressions of a
pedestal: carved work, on the contrary, ought to be light and delicate.
A pedestal therefore, whether of a column or of a statue, ought to be
sparingly ornamented: the ancients never ventured any bolder ornament
than the basso-relievo.

To succeed in allegorical or emblematic ornaments, is no slight effort
of genius; for it is extremely difficult to dispose them so in a
building as to produce any good effect. The mixing them with realities,
makes a miserable jumble of truth and fiction[92]. In a basso-relievo
on Antonin’s pillar, rain obtained by the prayers of a Christian legion,
is expressed by joining to the group of soldiers a rainy Jupiter, with
water in abundance running from his head and beard. De Piles, fond of
the conceit, carefully informs his reader, that he must not take this
for a real Jupiter, but for a symbol which among the Pagans signified
rain: an emblem ought not to make a part of the group representing real
objects or real events, but be detached from it, so as even at first
view to appear an emblem. But this is not all, nor the chief point.
Every emblem ought to be rejected that is not clearly expressive of its
meaning: if it be in any degree obscure, it never can be relished. The
temples of Ancient and Modern Virtue in the gardens of Stow, appear not
at first view emblematical; and when we are informed that they are so,
it is not easy to gather their meaning. The spectator sees one temple in
full repair, another in ruins: but without an explanatory inscription,
he may guess, but cannot be certain, that the former being dedicated to
Ancient Virtue, the latter to Modern Virtue, are intended a satire upon
the present times. On the other hand, a trite emblem, like a trite
simile, is disgustful[93]. Nor ought an emblem more than a simile to be
founded on low or familiar objects; for if the objects be not agreeable,
as well as their meaning, the emblem upon the whole will not be
relished. A room in a dwelling-house containing a monument to a deceased
friend, is dedicated to Melancholy. Its furniture is a clock that
strikes every minute to signify how swiftly time passes: upon the
monument, weeping figures and other hackney’d ornaments commonly found
upon tomb-stones, with a stuff’d raven in a corner: verses on death, and
other serious subjects, inscribed all around. The objects are too
familiar, and the artifice too apparent, to produce the intended effect.

The statue of Moses striking a rock from which water actually issues, is
also in a false taste; for it is mixing reality with representation:
Moses himself may bring water out of the rock, but this miracle is too
much for his statue. The same objection lies against a cascade where we
see the statue of a water-god pouring out of his urn real water.

It is observed above of gardening, that it contributes to rectitude of
manners, by inspiring gaiety and benevolence. I add another observation,
That both gardening and architecture contribute to the same end, by
inspiring neatness and elegance. It is observed in Scotland, that even a
turnpike-road has some influence of this kind upon the low people in the
neighbourhood. They acquire a taste for regularity and neatness; which
is display’d first upon their yards and little inclosures, and next
within doors. A taste for regularity and neatness thus gathering
strength, comes insensibly to be extended to dress, and even to
behaviour and manners.


Standard of Taste.

“That there is no disputing about taste”, meaning taste in its most
extensive sense, is a saying so generally received as to have become a
proverb. One thing indeed is evident, that if the proverb hold true with
respect to any one external sense, it must hold true with respect to
all. If the pleasures of the palate disdain a comparative trial and
reject all criticism, the pleasures of touch, of smell, of sound, and
even of sight, must be equally privileged. At this rate, a man is not
within the reach of censure, even where, insensible to beauty, grandeur,
or elegance, he prefers the Saracen’s head upon a sign-post before the
best tablature of Raphael, or a rude Gothic tower before the finest
Grecian building: nor where he prefers the smell of a rotten carcass
before that of the most odoriferous flower: nor jarring discords before
the most exquisite harmony.

But we must not stop here. If the pleasures of external sense be
exempted from criticism, why not every one of our pleasures, from
whatever source derived? If taste in the proper sense of the word cannot
be disputed, there is as little room for disputing it in its figurative
sense. The proverb accordingly comprehends both; and in that large sense
may be resolved into the following general proposition, That with
respect to the sensitive part of our nature, by which some objects are
agreeable, some disagreeable, there is not such a thing as _good_ or
_bad_, a _right_ or _wrong_; that every man’s taste is to himself an
ultimate standard without appeal; and consequently that there is no
ground of censure against any one, if such a one there be, who prefers
Blackmore before Homer, selfishness before benevolence, or cowardice
before magnanimity.

The proverb in the foregoing instances, is indeed carried very far. It
seems difficult, however, to sap its foundation, or with success to
attack it from any quarter. For in comparing the various tastes of
individuals, it is not obvious what standard must be appealed to. Is not
every man equally a judge of what is agreeable or disagreeable to
himself? Doth it not seem odd, and perhaps absurd, that a man _ought
not_ to be pleased when he is, or that he _ought_ to be pleased when he
is not?

This reasoning may perplex, but, in contradiction to sense and feeling,
will never afford conviction. A man of taste must necessarily feel the
reasoning to be false, however unqualified to detect the fallacy. At the
same time, though no man of taste will subscribe to the proverb as
holding true in every case, no man will venture to affirm that it holds
true in no case. Subjects there are undoubtedly, that we may like or
dislike indifferently, without any imputation upon our taste. Were a
philosopher to make a scale for human pleasures with many divisions, in
order that the value of each pleasure may be denoted by the place it
occupies, he would not think of making divisions without end, but would
rank together many pleasures arising perhaps from different objects,
either as being equally valuable, or differing so imperceptibly as to
make a separation unnecessary. Nature hath taken this course, so far as
appears to the generality of mankind. There may be subdivisions without
end; but we are only sensible of the grosser divisions, comprehending
each of them many pleasures of various kinds. To these the proverb is
applicable in the strictest sense; for with respect to pleasures of the
same rank, what ground can there be for preferring one before another?
If a preference in fact be given by any individual, it cannot be taste,
but custom, imitation, or some peculiarity of mind.

Nature in her scale of pleasures, has been sparing of divisions: she
hath wisely and benevolently filled every division with many pleasures;
in order that individuals may be contented with their own lot, without
envying the happiness of others: many hands must be employ’d to procure
us the conveniencies of life; and it is necessary that the different
branches of business, whether more or less agreeable, be filled with
hands. A taste too nice and delicate, would obstruct this plan; for it
would crowd some employments, leaving others, not less useful, totally
neglected. In our present condition, happy it is, that the plurality are
not delicate in their choice. They fall in readily with the occupations,
pleasures, food, and company, that fortune throws in their way; and if
at first there be any displeasing circumstance, custom soon makes it

The proverb will be admitted so far as it regards the particulars now
explained. But when apply’d in general to every subject of taste, the
difficulties to be encountered are insuperable. What shall we say, in
particular, as to the difficulty that arises from human nature itself?
Do we not talk of a good and a bad taste? of a right and a wrong taste?
and upon that supposition, do we not, with great confidence, censure
writers, painters, architects, and every one who deals in the fine arts?
Are such criticisms absurd and void of foundation? Have the foregoing
expressions, familiar in all languages and among all people, no sort of
meaning? This can hardly be: what is universal must have a foundation in
nature. If we can reach this foundation, the standard of taste will no
longer be a secret.

All living creatures are by nature distributed into classes; the
individuals of each, however diversified by slighter differences, having
a wonderful uniformity in their capital parts internal and external.
Each class is distinguishable from others by an external form; and not
less distinguishable by an internal constitution, manifested by certain
powers, feelings, desires, and actions, peculiar to the individuals of
each class. Thus each class may be conceived to have a common nature,
which, in framing the individuals belonging to the class, is taken for a
model or standard.

Independent altogether of experience, men have a sense or conviction of
a common nature or standard, not only in their own species, but in every
species of animals. And hence it is a matter of wonder, to find any
individual deviating from the common nature of the species, whether in
its internal or external construction: a child born with an aversion to
its mother’s milk, is a matter of wonder, not less than if born without
a mouth, or with more than one[94].

With respect to this common nature or standard, we are so constituted as
to conceive it to be _perfect_ or _right_; and consequently that
individuals _ought_ to be made conformable to it. Every remarkable
deviation accordingly from the standard, makes an impression upon us of
imperfection, irregularity, or disorder: it is disagreeable and raises
in us a painful emotion: monstrous births, exciting the curiosity of a
philosopher, fail not at the same time to excite aversion in a high

Lastly, we have a conviction, that the common nature of man is
invariable not less than universal: we conceive that it hath no relation
to time nor to place; but that it will be the same hereafter as at
present, and as it was in time past; the same among all nations and in
all corners of the earth. Nor are we deceived: giving allowance for the
difference of culture and gradual refinement of manners, the fact
corresponds to our conviction.

This conviction of a common nature or standard, and of its perfection,
is the foundation of morality; and accounts clearly for that remarkable
conception we have, of a right and a wrong taste in morals. It accounts
not less clearly for the conception we have of a right and a wrong taste
in the fine arts. A person who rejects objects generally agreeable, and
delights in objects generally disagreeable, is condemned as a monster:
we disapprove his taste as bad or wrong; and we have a clear conception
that he deviates from the common standard. If man were so framed as not
to have any notion of a common standard, the proverb mentioned in the
beginning would hold universally, not only in the fine arts but in
morals: upon that supposition, the taste of every man, with respect to
both, would to himself be an ultimate standard. But the conviction of a
common standard being made a part of our nature, we intuitively conceive
a taste to be right or good if conformable to the common standard, and
wrong or bad if disconformable.

No particular concerning human nature is more universal, than the
uneasiness a man feels when in matters of importance his opinions are
rejected by others. Why should difference in opinion create uneasiness,
more than difference in stature, in countenance, or in dress? The sense
of a common standard is the only principle that can explain this
mystery. Every man, generally speaking, taking it for granted that his
opinions agree with the common sense of mankind, is therefore disgusted
with those of a contrary opinion, not as differing from him, but as
differing from the common standard. Hence in all disputes, we find the
parties, each of them equally, appealing constantly to the common sense
of mankind as the ultimate rule or standard. Were it not for this
standard, of which the conviction is universal, I cannot discover the
slightest foundation for rancor or animosity when persons differ in
essential points more than in points purely indifferent. With respect to
the latter, which are not supposed to be regulated by any standard,
individuals are permitted to think for themselves with impunity. The
same liberty is not indulged with respect to the former: for what
reason, other than that the standard by which these are regulated,
ought, as we judge, to produce an uniformity of opinion in all men? In a
word, to this sense of a common standard must be wholly attributed the
pleasure we take in those who espouse the same principles and opinions
with ourselves, as well as the aversion we have at those who differ from
us. In matters left indifferent by the standard, we find nothing of the
same pleasure or pain. A bookish man, unless sway’d by convenience,
relisheth not the contemplative more than the active part of mankind:
his friends and companions are chosen indifferently out of either class.
A painter consorts with a poet or musician, as readily as with those of
his own art; and one is not the more agreeable to me for loving beef, as
I do, nor the less agreeable for preferring mutton.

I have said, that my disgust is raised, not by differing from me, but by
differing from what I judge to be the common standard. This point,
being of importance, ought to be firmly established. Men, it is true,
are prone to flatter themselves, by taking it for granted, that their
opinions and their taste are in all respects agreeable to the common
standard. But there may be exceptions, and experience shows there are
some. There are instances without number, of persons who cling to the
grosser amusements of gaming, eating, drinking, without having any
relish for more elegant pleasures, such, for example, as are afforded by
the fine arts. Yet these very persons, talking the same language with
the rest of mankind, pronounce in favour of the more elegant pleasures:
they invariably approve those who have a more refined taste, and are
ashamed of their own as low and sensual. It is in vain to think of
giving a reason for this singular impartiality against self, other than
the authority of the common standard. Every individual of the human
species, the most groveling not excepted, hath a natural sense of the
dignity of human nature[95]. Hence every man is esteemed and respected
in proportion to the dignity of his character, sentiments, and actions.
And from the instances now given we discover, that the sense of the
dignity of human nature is so vigorous, as even to prevail over
self-partiality, and to make us despise our own taste compared with the
more elevated taste of others.

In our sense of a common standard and in the pleasure individuals give
us by their conformity to it, a curious final cause is discovered. An
uniformity of taste and sentiment in matters of importance, forms an
intimate connection among individuals, and is a great blessing in the
social state. With respect to morals in particular, unhappy it would be
for mankind did not this uniformity prevail: it is necessary that the
actions of all men be uniform with respect to right and wrong; and in
order to uniformity of action, it is necessary that all men think the
same way in these particulars: if they differ through any irregular
bias, the common sense of mankind is appealed to as the rule; and it is
the province of judges, in matters especially of equity, to apply that
rule. The same uniformity, it is yielded, is not so strictly necessary
in other matters of taste: men, though connected in general as members
of the same state, are, by birth, office, or occupation, separated and
distinguished into different classes; and are thereby qualified for
different amusements: variety of taste, so far, is no obstruction to the
general connection. But with respect to the more capital pleasures, such
as are best enjoy’d in common, uniformity of taste is necessary for two
great ends, first to connect individuals the more intimately in the
social life, and next to advance these pleasures to their highest
perfection. With respect to the first, if instead of a common taste,
every man had a taste peculiar to himself, leading him to place his
happiness upon things indifferent or perhaps disagreeable to others,
these capital pleasures could not be enjoy’d in common: every man would
pursue his own happiness by flying from others; and instead of a natural
tendency to union, remarkable in the human species, union would be our
aversion: man would not be a consistent being: his interest would lead
him to society, and his taste would draw him from it. The other end will
be best explained by entering upon particulars. Uniformity of taste
gives opportunity for sumptuous and elegant buildings, for fine gardens,
and extensive embellishments, which please universally. Works of this
nature could never have reached any degree of perfection, had every man
a taste peculiar to himself: there could not be any suitable reward,
either of profit or honour, to encourage men of genius to labour in such
works. The same uniformity of taste is equally necessary to perfect the
arts of music, sculpture, and painting; and to support the expence they
require after they are brought to perfection. Nature is in every
particular consistent with herself. We are formed by nature to have a
high relish for the fine arts, which are a great source of happiness,
and extremely friendly to virtue. We are, at the same time, formed with
an uniformity of taste, to furnish proper objects for this high relish:
if uniformity of taste did not prevail, the fine arts could never have
made any figure.

Thus, upon a sense common to the species, is erected a standard of
taste, which without hesitation is apply’d to the taste of every
individual. This standard, ascertaining what actions are right what
wrong, what proper what improper, hath enabled moralists to establish
rules for our conduct from which no person is allowed to swerve. We have
the same standard for ascertaining in all the fine arts, what is
beautiful or ugly, high or low, proper or improper, proportioned or
disproportioned. And here, as in morals, we justly condemn every taste
that swerves from what is thus ascertained by the common standard.

The discovery of a rule or standard for trying the taste of individuals
in the fine arts as well as in morals, is a considerable advance, but
completes not our journey. We have a great way yet to travel. It is made
out that there is a standard: but it is not made out, by what means we
shall prevent mistaking a false standard for that of nature. If from
opinion and practice we endeavour to ascertain the standard of nature,
we are betray’d into endless perplexities. Viewing this matter
historically, nothing appears more various and more wavering than taste
in the fine arts. If we judge by numbers, the Gothic taste of
architecture will be preferred before that of Greece; and the Chinese
taste probably before both. It would be endless, to recount the various
tastes of gardening that have prevailed in different ages, and still
prevail in different countries. Despising the modest colouring of
nature, women of fashion in France daub their cheeks with a red powder.
Nay, the unnatural swelling in the neck, a disease peculiar to the
inhabitants of the Alps, is relished by that people. But we ought not to
be discouraged by such untoward instances. For do we not find the like
contradictions with respect to morals? was it not once held lawful, for
a man to expose his infant children, and, when grown up, to sell them
for slaves? was it not held equally lawful, to punish children for the
crime of their parents? was not the murder of an enemy in cold blood an
universal practice? what stronger instance can be given, than the
abominable practice of human sacrifices, not less impious than immoral?
Such aberrations from the rules of morality, prove only, that men,
originally savage and brutish, acquire not rationality or any delicacy
of taste, till they be long disciplined in society. To ascertain the
rules of morality, we appeal not to the common sense of savages, but of
men in their more perfect state: and we make the same appeal, in forming
the rules that ought to govern the fine arts. In neither can we safely
rely on a local or transitory taste; but on what is the most universal
and the most lasting among polite nations.

In this very manner, a standard for morals has been established with a
good deal of accuracy; and so well fitted for practice, that in the hand
of able judges it is daily apply’d with general satisfaction. The
standard of taste in the fine arts, is not yet brought to such
perfection. And there is an obvious reason for its slower progress. The
sense of a right and a wrong in action, is conspicuous in the breast of
every individual, almost without exception. The sense of a right and a
wrong in the fine arts, is more faint and wavering: it is by nature a
tender plant, requiring much culture to bring it to maturity: in a
barren soil it cannot live; and in any soil, without cultivation, it is
weak and sickly. I talk chiefly with relation to its more refined
objects: for some objects make such lively impressions of beauty,
grandeur, and proportion, as without exception to command the general
taste. There appears to me great contrivance, in distinguishing thus the
moral sense from a taste in the fine arts. The former, as a rule of
conduct and as a law we ought to obey, must be clear and authoritative.
The latter is not intitled to the same authority, since it contributes
to our pleasure and amusement only. Were it more strong and lively, it
would usurp upon our duty, and call off the attention from matters of
greater moment. Were it more clear and authoritative, it would banish
all difference of taste: a refined taste would not form a character, nor
be intitled to esteem. This would put an end to rivalship, and
consequently to all improvement.

But to return to our subject. However languid and cloudy the common
sense of mankind may be with respect to the fine arts, it is yet the
only standard in these as well as in morals. And when the matter is
attentively considered, this standard will be found less imperfect than
it appears to be at first sight. In gathering the common sense of
mankind upon morals, we may safely consult every individual. But with
respect to the fine arts, our method must be different: a wary choice is
necessary; for to collect votes indifferently, will certainly mislead
us: those who depend for food on bodily labour, are totally void of
taste; of such a taste at least as can be of use in the fine arts. This
consideration bars the greater part of mankind; and of the remaining
part, many have their taste corrupted to such a degree as to unqualify
them altogether for voting. The common sense of mankind must then be
confined to the few that fall not under these exceptions. But as such
selection seems to throw matters again into uncertainty, we must be more
explicit upon this branch of our subject.

Nothing tends more than voluptuousness to corrupt the whole internal
frame, and to vitiate our taste, not only in the fine arts, but even in
morals. It never fails, in course of time, to extinguish all the
sympathetic affections, and to bring on a beastly selfishness which
leaves nothing of man but the shape. About excluding persons of this
stamp there will be no dispute. Let us next bring under trial, the
opulent whose chief pleasure is expence. Riches, coveted by most men for
the sake of superiority and to command respect, are generally bestow’d
upon costly furniture, numerous attendants, a princely dwelling, every
thing superb and gorgeous, to amaze and humble all beholders.
Simplicity, elegance, propriety, and every thing natural, sweet, or
amiable, are despised or neglected; for these are not at the command of
riches, and make no figure in the public eye. In a word, nothing is
relished, but what serves to gratify pride, by an imagined exaltation of
the possessor above those he reckons the vulgar. Such a tenor of life
contracts the heart and makes every principle give way to self-interest.
Benevolence and public spirit, with all their refined emotions, are
little felt and less regarded. And if these be excluded, there can be no
place for the faint and delicate emotions of the fine arts.

The exclusion of classes so many and various, reduces within a narrow
compass those who are qualified to be judges in the fine arts. Many
circumstances are necessary to form a judge of this sort: there must be
a good natural taste: this taste must be improved by education,
reflection, and experience: it must be preserved alive, by a regular
course of life, by using the goods of fortune with moderation, and by
following the dictates of improved nature which gives welcome to every
rational pleasure without deviating into excess. This is the tenor of
life which of all contributes the most to refinement of taste; and the
same tenor of life contributes the most to happiness in general.

If there appear much uncertainty in a standard that requires so painful
and intricate a selection, we may possibly be reconciled to it by the
following consideration, That, with respect to the fine arts, there is
less difference of taste than is commonly imagined. Nature hath marked
all her works with indelible characters of high or low, plain or
elegant, strong or weak. These, if at all perceived, are seldom
misapprehended by any taste; and the same marks are equally perceptible
in works of art. A defective taste is incurable; and it hurts none but
the possessor, because it carries no authority to impose upon others. I
know not if there be such a thing as a taste naturally bad or wrong; a
taste, for example, that prefers a groveling pleasure before one that is
high and elegant. Groveling pleasures are never preferred: they are only
made welcome by those who know no better. Differences about objects of
taste, it is true, are endless: but they generally concern trifles, or
possibly matters of equal rank where the preference may be given either
way with impunity. If, on any occasion, the dispute go deeper and
persons differ where they ought not, a depraved taste will readily be
discovered on one or other side, occasioned by imitation, custom, or
corrupted manners, such as are described above.

If, after all that is said, the standard of taste be thought not yet
sufficiently ascertained, there is still one resource in which I put
great confidence. What I have in view, are the principles that
constitute the sensitive part of our nature. By means of these
principles, common to all men, a wonderful uniformity is preserved among
the emotions and feelings of different individuals; the same object
making upon every person the same impression; the same in kind, at
least, if not in degree. There have been aberrations, as above observed,
from these principles; but soon or late they always prevail, by
restoring the wanderers to the right track. The uniformity of taste here
accounted for, is the very thing that in other words is termed the
common sense of mankind. And this discovery leads us to means for
ascertaining the common sense of mankind or the standard of taste, more
unerringly than the selection above insisted on. Every doubt with
relation to this standard, occasioned by the practice of different
nations and different times, may be cleared by applying to the
principles that ought to govern the taste of every individual. In a
word, a thorough acquaintance with these principles will enable us to
form the standard of taste; and to lay a foundation for this valuable
branch of knowledge, is the declared purpose of the present


Terms defined or explained.

1. Considering the things I am conscious of, some are internal or within
my mind, some external or without. Passion, thinking, volition, are
internal objects. Objects of sight, of hearing, of smell, of touch, of
taste, are external.

2. The faculty by which I discover an internal object, is termed an
internal sense: the faculty by which I discover an external object, is
termed an external sense. This distinction among the senses is made with
reference to their objects merely; for the senses, external and
internal, are equally powers or faculties of the mind.

3. But as self is an object, and the only one that cannot be termed
either external or internal, the faculty by which I am conscious of
myself, must be distinguished from both the internal and external

4. By sight we perceive the qualities of figure, colour, motion, &_c._:
by the ear we perceive the qualities high, low, loud, soft: by touch we
perceive rough, smooth, hot, cold, &_c._: by taste we perceive sweet,
sour, bitter, &_c._: by smell we perceive fragrant, stinking, &_c._
Qualities, from our very conception of them, are not capable of an
independent existence; but must belong to something of which they are
the qualities. A thing with respect to its qualities is termed a
subject, or _substratum_; because its qualities rest, as it were, upon
it, or are founded upon it. The subject or _substratum_ of visible
qualities, is termed _substance_, of audible qualities, _sound_; of
tangible qualities, _body_. In like manner, _taste_ is the _substratum_
of qualities perceived by our sense of tasting; and _smell_ is the
_substratum_ of qualities perceived by our sense of smelling.

5. Substance and sound are perceived existing in a certain place; often
at a considerable distance from the organ. But smell, touch, and taste,
are perceived at the organs of sense.

6. Objects of internal sense are conceived to be attributes:
deliberation, reasoning, resolution, willing, consenting, are internal
actions: passions and emotions are internal agitations. With regard to
the former, I am conscious of being active; with regard to the latter, I
am conscious of being passive.

7. Again, we are conscious of internal action as in the head; of
passions and emotions as in the heart.

8. Many actions may be exerted internally and many effects produced, of
which we are not conscious. When we investigate the ultimate cause of
animal motions, it is the most probable opinion, that they proceed from
some internal power: and if so, we are, in this particular, unconscious
of our own operations. But consciousness being imply’d in the very
conception of deliberating, reasoning, resolving, willing, consenting,
these operations cannot go on without our knowledge. The same is the
case of passions and emotions; for no internal agitation is denominated
a passion or emotion, but what we are conscious of.

9. The mind is not always in the same state: it is at times chearful,
melancholy, severe, peevish. These different states may not improperly
be denominated _tones_. An object, by making an impression, produceth an
emotion or passion, which again gives the mind a certain tone suited to

10. _Perception_ and _sensation_ are commonly reckoned synonymous terms,
signifying the consciousness we have of objects; but, in accurate
language, they are distinguished. The consciousness we have of external
objects, is termed _perception_. Thus we are said to perceive a certain
animal, a certain colour, sound, taste, smell, &_c._ The consciousness
we have of pleasure or pain arising from external objects, is termed
_sensation_. Thus we have a sensation of cold, of heat, of the pain of a
wound, of the pleasure of a landscape, of music, of beauty, of
propriety, of behaviour, &_c._ The consciousness we have of internal
action, such as deliberation, resolution, choice, is never termed
either a perception or a sensation.

11. _Conception_ ought to be distinguished from perception. External
things and their attributes are objects of perception: relations among
things are objects of conception. I see two men, James and John: the
consciousness I have of them is a perception: but the consciousness I
have of their relation as father and son, is termed a _conception_.
Again, perception relates to objects really existing: conception to
fictitious objects, or to those framed by the imagination.

12. _Feeling_, beside denoting one of the external senses, has two
different significations. Of these the most common includes not only
sensation, but also that branch of consciousness which relates to
passions and emotions: it is proper to say, I have a feeling of cold, of
heat, or of pain; and it is not less proper to say, I have a feeling of
love, of hatred, of anger, or of any other passion. But it is not
applied to internal action: for it is not proper to say, that a man
feels himself deliberating or resolving. In a sense less common, feeling
is put for the thing that is felt; and in this sense it is a general
term for every one of our passions and emotions.

13. That we cannot perceive an external object till an impression be
made upon our body, is probable from reason, and is ascertained by
experience. But it is not necessary that we be made sensible of the
impression. It is true, that in touching, tasting, and smelling, we feel
the impression made at the organ of sense: but in seeing and hearing, we
feel no impression. We know indeed by experience, that before we
perceive a visible object, its image is spread upon the _retina tunica_;
and that before we perceive a sound, an impression is made upon the drum
of the ear: and yet here, we are not conscious either of the organic
image or the organic impression: nor are we conscious of any other
operation preparatory to the act of perception. All we can say, is, that
we see that river, or hear that trumpet[96].

14. Objects once perceived may be recalled to the mind by the power of
memory. When I recall an object in this manner, it appears to me the
same as in the original survey, only more faint and obscure. For
example, I saw yesterday a spreading oak growing on the brink of a
river. I endeavour to recall it to my mind. How is this operation
performed? Do I endeavour to form in my mind a picture of it or
representative image? Not so. I transport myself ideally to the place
where I saw the tree yesterday; upon which I have a perception of the
tree and river, similar in all respects to the perception I had of it
when I viewed it with my eyes, only more obscure. And in this
recollection, I am not conscious of a picture or representative image,
more than in the original survey: the perception is of the tree itself,
as at first. I confirm this by another experiment. After attentively
surveying a fine statue, I close my eyes. What follows? The same object
continues, without any difference but that it is less distinct than
formerly. This indistinct secondary perception of an object, is termed
_an idea_. And therefore the precise and accurate definition of an idea,
in contradistinction to an original perception, is, “That perception or
consciousness of a real object, which a person has by exercising the
power of memory.” Every thing one is conscious of, whether internal or
external, passions, emotions, thinking, resolving, willing, heat, cold,
&_c._ as well as external objects, may be recalled as above by the power
of memory[97].

15. The original perceptions of external objects, are either simple or
complex. A sound may be so simple as not to be resolvable into parts: so
may a taste and a smell. A perception of touch, is generally compounded
of the more simple perceptions of hardness or softness, joined with
smoothness or roughness, heat or cold, &_c._ But of all the perceptions
of external sense, that of a visible object is the most complex; because
the eye takes in more particulars than any other organ. A tree is
composed of its trunk, branches, leaves: it has colour, figure, size:
every one of these separately produceth a perception in the mind of the
spectator, which are all combined into the complex perception of the

16. The original perception of an object of sight, is more complete,
lively, and distinct, than that of any other external sense: and for
that reason, an idea or secondary perception of a visible object, is
more distinct and lively than that of any other object. A fine passage
in music, may, for a moment, be recalled to the mind with tolerable
accuracy: but the idea of any other object, and also of sound after the
shortest interval, is extremely obscure.

17. As the range of an individual is commonly within narrow bounds of
space, opportunities seldom offer of an enlarged acquaintance with
external objects. Original perceptions therefore, and their
corresponding ideas, are a provision too scanty for the purposes of
life. Language is an admirable contrivance for supplying this
deficiency; for by language, the original perceptions of each individual
may be communicated to all; and the same may be done by painting and
other imitative arts. It is natural to suppose, that the most lively
ideas are the most susceptible of being communicated to others. This
holds more especially when language is the vehicle of communication; for
language hitherto has not arrived at any greater perfection than to
express clear and lively ideas. Hence it is, that poets and orators,
who are extremely successful in describing objects of sight, find
objects of the other senses too faint and obscure for language. An idea
thus acquired of an object at second hand, ought to be distinguished
from an idea of memory; though their resemblance has occasioned the same
term to be apply’d to both. This is to be regretted; for when knowledge
is to be communicated by language, ambiguity in the signification of
words is a great obstruction to accuracy of conception. Thus nature hath
furnished the means of multiplying ideas without end, and of providing
every individual with a sufficient stock to answer, not only the
necessities, but even the elegancies of life.

18. Further, man is endued with a sort of creative power: he can
fabricate images of things that have no existence. The materials
employ’d in this operation, are ideas of sight, which may be taken to
pieces and combined into new forms at pleasure: their complexity and
vivacity make them fit materials. But a man has no such power over any
of his other ideas, whether of the external or internal senses: he
cannot, after the utmost effort, combine these into new forms: his ideas
of such objects are too obscure for this operation. An image thus
fabricated cannot be called a secondary perception, not being derived
from an original perception: the poverty of language however, as in the
case immediately above mentioned, has occasioned the same term _idea_ to
be apply’d to all. This singular power of fabricating images independent
of real objects, is distinguished by the name _imagination_.

19. As ideas are the chief materials employ’d in thinking, reasoning,
and reflecting, it is of consequence that their nature and differences
be understood. It appears now, that ideas may be distinguished into
three kinds; first, Ideas or secondary perceptions, properly termed
_ideas of memory_; second, Ideas communicated by language or other
signs; and, third, Ideas of imagination. These ideas differ from each
other in many respects; but the chief foundation of the distinction is
the difference of their causes. The first kind are derived from real
existences that have been objects of our senses: language is the cause
of the second, or any other sign that has the same power with language;
and a man’s imagination is to himself the cause of the third. It is
scarce necessary to add, that an idea, originally of imagination, being
convey’d to others by language or any other vehicle, becomes in the mind
of those to whom it is convey’d an idea of the second kind; and again,
that an idea of this kind, being afterward recalled to the mind, becomes
in that circumstance an idea of memory.

20. Human nature is not so constituted, as that its objects are
perceived with indifferency: these, with very few exceptions, raise in
us either pleasant or painful emotions. External objects, at the same
time, appear in themselves agreeable or disagreeable; but with some
difference betwixt those which produce organic impressions, and those
which affect us from a distance. When we touch a soft and smooth body,
we have a pleasant feeling as at the place of contact; and this feeling
we distinguish not, at least not accurately, from the agreeableness of
the body itself. The same holds in general with regard to all the
organic impressions. It is otherwise in hearing and seeing. A sound is
perceived as in itself agreeable; and, at the same time, raises in the
hearer a pleasant emotion: an object of sight appears in itself
agreeable; and, at the same time, raises in the seer a pleasant emotion.
These are accurately distinguished. The pleasant emotion is felt as
within the mind: the agreeableness of the object is placed upon the
object, and is perceived as one of its qualities or properties. The
agreeable appearance of an object of sight, is termed _beauty_; and the
disagreeable appearance of such an object is termed _ugliness_.

21. But though beauty and ugliness, in their proper and genuine
signification, are confined to objects of sight; yet in a more lax and
figurative signification, they are apply’d to objects of the other
senses. They are sometimes apply’d even to abstract terms; for it is not
unusual to say, _a beautiful theorem, a beautiful constitution of
government_. But I am inclined to think, that we are led to use such
expression by conceiving the thing as delineated upon paper, and as in
some sort an object of sight.

22. A line composed by a precise rule, is perceived and said to be
regular. A straight line, a parabola, a hyperbola, the circumference of
a circle, and of an ellipse, are all of them regular lines. A figure
composed by a precise rule, is perceived and said to be regular. Thus a
circle, a square, a hexagon, an equilateral triangle, are regular
figures, being composed by a rule that determines the form of each. When
the form of a line or of a figure is ascertained by a rule that leaves
nothing arbitrary, the line and the figure are said to be perfectly
regular: this is the case of the figures now mentioned; and it is the
case of a straight line and of the circumference of a circle. A figure
and a line are not perfectly regular where any part or circumstance is
left arbitrary. A parallelogram and a rhomb are less regular than a
square: the parallelogram is subjected to no rule as to the length of
sides, other than that the opposite sides be equal: the rhomb is
subjected to no rule as to its angles, other than that the opposite
angles be equal. For the same reason, the circumference of an ellipse,
the form of which is susceptible of much variety, is less regular than
that of a circle.

23. Regularity, properly speaking, belongs, like beauty, to objects of
sight: like beauty, it is also apply’d figuratively to other objects.
Thus we say, _a regular government, a regular composition of music_,
and, _regular discipline_.

24. When two figures are composed of similar parts, they are said to be
uniform. Perfect uniformity is where the constituent parts of two
figures are precisely similar to each other. Thus two cubes of the same
dimensions are perfectly uniform in all their parts. An imperfect
uniformity is, where the parts mutually correspond, but without being
precisely similar. The uniformity is imperfect betwixt two squares or
cubes of unequal dimensions; and still more so betwixt a square and a

25. Uniformity is also applicable to the constituent parts of the same
figure. The constituent parts of a square are perfectly uniform: its
sides are equal and its angles are equal. Wherein then differs
regularity from uniformity? for a figure composed of similar or uniform
parts must undoubtedly be regular. Regularity is predicated of a figure
considered as a whole composed of resembling or uniform parts:
uniformity again is predicated of these parts as related to each other
by resemblance. We say, a square is a regular, not an uniform figure:
but with respect to the constituent parts of a square, we say not that
they are regular, but that they are uniform.

26. In things destined for the same use, as legs, arms, eyes, windows,
spoons, we expect uniformity. Proportion ought to govern parts intended
for different uses. We require a certain proportion betwixt a leg and an
arm; in the base, the shaft, the capital, of a pillar; and in the
length, the breadth, the height, of a room. Some proportion is also
required in different things intimately connected, as betwixt a
dwelling-house, the garden, and the stables. But we require no
proportion among things slightly connected, as betwixt the table a man
writes on and the dog that follows him. Proportion and uniformity never
coincide: things perfectly similar are uniform; but proportion is never
applied to them: the four sides and angles of a square are equal and
perfectly uniform; but we say not that they are proportional. Thus,
proportion always implies inequality or difference; but then it implies
it to a certain degree only: the most agreeable proportion resembles a
_maximum_ in mathematics; a greater or less inequality or difference is
less agreeable.

27. Order regards various particulars. First, in tracing or surveying
objects, we are directed by a sense of order: we conceive it to be more
orderly, that we should pass from a principle to its accessories and
from a whole to its parts, than in the contrary direction. Next, with
respect to the position of things, a sense of order directs us to place
together things intimately connected. Thirdly, in placing things that
have no natural connection, that order appears the most perfect, where
the particulars are made to bear the strongest relation to each other
that position can give them. Thus parallelism is the strongest relation
that position can bestow upon straight lines. If they be so placed as by
production to intersect each other, the relation is less perfect. A
large body in the middle and two equal bodies of less size, one on each
side, is an order that produces the strongest relation the bodies are
susceptible of by position. The relation betwixt the two equal bodies
would be stronger by juxtaposition; but they would not both have the
same relation to the third.

28. The beauty or agreeableness of an object, as it enters into the
original perception, enters also into the secondary perception or idea.
An idea of imagination is also agreeable; though in a lower degree than
an idea of memory, where the objects are of the same kind. But this
defect in the ideas of imagination is abundantly supply’d by their
greatness and variety. For the imagination acting without control, can
fabricate ideas of finer visible objects, of more noble and heroic
actions, of greater wickedness, of more surprising events, than ever in
fact existed. And by communicating these ideas in words, painting,
sculpture, &_c._ the influence of the imagination is not less extensive
than great.

29. In the nature of every man, there is somewhat original, that serves
to distinguish him from others, that tends to form a character, and,
with the concurrence of external accidents, to make him meek or fiery,
candid or deceitful, resolute or timorous, chearful or morose. This
original bent is termed _disposition_. Which must be distinguished from
a _principle_: no original bent obtains the latter appellation, but what
belongs to the whole species. A principle makes part of the common
nature of man: a disposition makes part of the nature of this or that
man. A _propensity_ comprehends both; for it signifies indifferently
either a principle or a disposition.

30. _Affection_, signifying a settled bent of mind toward a particular
being or thing, occupies a middle place betwixt propensity on the one
hand, and passion on the other. A propensity being original, must exist
before any opportunity be offered to exert it: affection can never be
original; because, having a special relation to a particular object, it
cannot exist till the object be presented. Again, passion depends on the
presence of the object, in idea at least, if not in reality: when the
idea vanishes, the passion vanishes with it. Affection, on the contrary,
once settled on a person, is a lasting connection; and, like other
connections, subsists even when we do not think of it. A familiar
example will clear the whole. There may be in the mind a propensity to
gratitude, which, through want of an object, happens never to be
exerted, and which therefore is never discovered even by the person who
has it. Another who has the same propensity, meets with a kindly office
that makes him grateful to his benefactor: an intimate connection is
formed betwixt them, termed _affection_; which, like other connections,
has a permanent existence, though not always in view. The affection, for
the most part, lies dormant, till an opportunity offer of exerting it:
in this circumstance, it is converted into the passion of gratitude; and
the opportunity is greedily seized for testifying gratitude in the most
complete manner.

31. _Aversion_, I think, must be opposed to affection, and not to
desire, as it commonly is. We have an affection for one person; we have
an aversion to another: the former disposes us to do good to its object,
the latter to do ill.

32. What is a sentiment? It is not a perception; for a perception
signifies our consciousness of external objects. It is not consciousness
of an internal action; such as thinking, suspending thought, inclining,
resolving, willing, &_c._ Neither is it a conception of relation amongst
objects or of their differences: a conception of this kind, is termed
_opinion_. The term _sentiment_ is appropriated to those thoughts that
are suggested by a passion or emotion.

33. _Attention_ is that state of mind which prepares a man to receive
impressions. According to the degree of attention, objects make a
stronger or weaker impression[98]. In an indolent state, or in a
reverie, objects make but a slight impression; far from what they make
when they command our attention. In a train of perceptions, no single
object makes such a figure as it would do single and apart: for when the
attention is divided among many objects, no single object is intitled to
a large share. Hence the stillness of night contributes to terror, there
being nothing to divert the attention.

    Horror ubique animos, simul ipsa silentia terrent.

    _Æneid._ 2.

    _Zara._ Silence and solitude are ev’ry where!
    Through all the gloomy ways and iron doors
    That hither lead, nor human face nor voice
    Is seen or heard. A dreadful din was wont
    To grate the sense, when enter’d here, from groans
    And howls of slaves condemn’d, from clink of chains,
    And crash of rusty bars and creeking hinges:
    And ever and anon the sight was dash’d
    With frightful faces and the meagre looks
    Of grim and ghastly executioners.
    Yet more this stillness terrifies my soul
    Than did that scene of complicated horrors.
         _Mourning Bride, act 5. sc. 8._

And hence it is, that an object seen at the termination of a confined
view, is more agreeable than when seen in a group with the surrounding

    The crow doth sing as sweetly as the lark
    When neither is attended; and, I think,
    The nightingale, if she should sing by day,
    When ev’ry goose is cackling, would be thought
    No better a musician than the wren.
         _Merchant of Venice_

34. In matters of slight importance, attention, in a great measure, is
directed by will; and for that reason, it is our own fault if trifling
objects make any deep impression. Had we power equally to with-hold our
attention from matters of importance, we might be proof against any deep
impression. But our power fails us here: an interesting object seizes
and fixes the attention beyond the possibility of control; and while our
attention is thus forcibly attached by one object, others may solicit
for admittance; but in vain, for they will not be regarded. Thus a small
misfortune is scarce felt in presence of a greater:

    _Lear._ Thou think’st ’tis much, that this contentious storm
    Invades us to the skin; so ’tis to thee;
    But where the greater malady is fix’d,
    The lesser is scarce felt. Thou’d’st shun a bear;
    But if thy flight lay tow’rd the roaring sea,
    Thou’d’st meet the bear i’ th’ mouth. When the mind’s free,
    The body’s delicate: the tempest in my mind
    Doth from my senses take all feeling else,
    Save what beats there.
         _King Lear, act 3. sc. 5_.

35. _Genus_, _species_, _modification_, are terms invented to
distinguish beings from each other. Individuals are distinguished by
their qualities: a large class of individuals enjoying qualities in
common, is termed a _genus_: a subdivision of such class is termed a
_species_. Again, that circumstance which distinguisheth one genus, one
species, or even one individual, from another, is termed a
_modification_: the same particular that is termed a _property_ or
_quality_ when considered as belonging to an individual or a class of
individuals, is termed a _modification_ when considered as
distinguishing the individual or the class from another. A black skin
and soft curled hair, are properties of a negro: the same circumstances
considered as marks that distinguish a negro from a man of a different
species, are denominated _modifications_.

36. Objects of sight, being complex, are distinguishable into the
several particulars that enter into the composition: these objects are
all of them coloured; and they all have length, breadth, and thickness.
When I behold a spreading oak, I distinguish in this object, size,
figure, colour, and sometimes motion: viewing a flowing river, I
distinguish colour, figure, and constant motion: a dye has colour, black
spots, six plain surfaces, all equal and uniform. The objects of touch,
have all of them extension. Some of them are felt rough, some smooth:
some of them are hard, some soft. With respect to the other senses, some
of their objects are simple, some complex: a sound, a taste, a smell,
may be so simple as not to be distinguishable into any parts: others are
perceived to be compounded of different sounds, different tastes, and
different smells.

37. The eye at one look can take in a number of objects, as of trees in
a field, or men in a crowd: as these objects are distinct from each
other, each having a separate and independent existence, they are
distinguishable in the mind as well as in reality; and there is nothing
more easy, than to abstract from some and to confine our contemplation
to others. A large oak with its spreading branches, fixes our attention
upon itself, and abstracts us from the shrubs that surround it. In the
same manner, with respect to compounded sounds, tastes, or smells, we
can fix our thoughts upon any one of the component parts, abstracting
our attention from the rest. But the power of abstraction is not
confined to objects that are separable in reality as well as mentally:
it also takes place where there can be no real separation. The size, the
figure, the colour, of a tree, are inseparably connected, and cannot
exist independent of each other: the same of length, breadth, and
thickness: and yet we can mentally confine our observations to one of
these, neglecting or abstracting from the rest. Here abstraction takes
place where there cannot be a real separation.

38. This power of abstraction is of great utility. A carpenter considers
a log of wood, with regard to hardness, firmness, colour, and texture: a
philosopher, neglectting these properties, makes the log undergo a
chymical analysis; and examines its taste, its smell, and its component
principles: the geometrician confines his reasoning to the figure, the
length, breadth, and thickness. In general, every artist, abstracting
from all other properties, confines his observations to those which have
a more immediate connection with his profession.

39. Hence clearly appears the meaning of an _abstract term_, and
_abstract idea_. If in viewing an object, we can abstract from some of
its parts or properties, and attach ourselves to others; there must be
the same facility, when we recall this object to the mind in idea. This
leads directly to the definition of an abstract idea, _viz._ “A partial
view of a complex object, limited to one or more of the component parts
or properties, laying aside or abstracting from others.” A word that
denotes an abstract idea, is called an _abstract term_.

40. The power of abstraction is bestowed upon man, for the purposes
solely of reasoning. It tends greatly to the facility as well as
clearness of any process of reasoning, that, withdrawing from every
other circumstance, we can confine our attention to the single property
we desire to investigate.

41. Abstract ideas, may, I think, be distinguished into three different
kinds, all equally subservient to the reasoning faculty. Individuals
appear to have no end; and did we not possess the faculty of
distributing them into classes, the mind would be lost in an endless
variety, and no progress be made in knowledge. It is by the faculty of
abstraction that we distribute beings into _genera_ and _species_:
finding a number of individuals connected by certain qualities common to
all, we give a name to these individuals considered as thus connected;
which name, by gathering them together into one class, serves in a curt
manner to express the whole of these individuals as distinct from
others. Thus the word _animal_ serves to denote every being which hath
self-motion; and the words _man_, _horse_, _lion_, &_c._ answer similar
purposes. This is the first and most common sort of abstraction; and it
is of the most extensive use, by enabling us to comprehend in our
reasoning whole kinds and sorts, instead of individuals without end. The
next sort of abstract ideas and terms comprehends a number of individual
objects considered as connected by some occasional relation. A great
number of persons collected together in one place, without any other
relation but merely that of contiguity, are denominated _a crowd_: in
forming this term, we abstract from sex, from age, from condition, from
dress, &_c._ A number of persons connected by being subjected to the
same laws and to the same government, are termed _a nation_; and a
number of men subjected to the same military command, are termed _an
army_. A third sort of abstraction is, where a single property or part,
which may be common to many individuals, is selected to be the subject
of our contemplation; for example, whiteness, heat, beauty, length,
roundness, head, arm.

42. Abstract terms are a happy invention: it is by their means chiefly,
that the particulars which we make the subject of our reasoning, are
brought into close union, and separated from all others however
naturally connected. Without the aid of such terms, the mind could never
be kept steady to its proper subject, but would perpetually be in hazard
of assuming foreign circumstances or neglecting what are essential. In a
word, a general term denotes in a curt manner certain objects
occasionally combined. We can, without the aid of language, compare real
objects by intuition, when these objects are present; and, when absent,
we can compare them by means of the ideas we have of them: but when we
advance farther, and attempt to make inferences, and draw conclusions,
we always employ abstract terms, even in thinking. It would be as
difficult to reason without them, as to perform operations in algebra
without signs: for there is scarce any reasoning without some degree of
abstraction; and we cannot abstract to purpose without making use of
general terms. Hence it follows, that without language man would scarce
be a rational being.

43. The same thing, in different respects, has different names. With
respect to certain qualities, it is termed a _substance_; with respect
to other qualities, a _body_; and with respect to qualities of all
sorts, a _subject_: it is termed a _passive subject_ with respect to an
action exerted upon it; an _object_ with respect: to a percipient; a
_cause_ with respect to the effect it produces; and an _effect_ with
respect to its cause.


[The volumes are denoted by numeral letters, the pages by figures.]

Abstract idea) defined iii. 402.
  Abstract ideas of different kinds iii. 403.

Abstraction) power of iii. 401.
  Its use iii. 402. 403.

Abstract terms) ought to be avoided in poetry i. 294. iii. 198.
  Cannot be compared but by being personified iii. 6.
  Personified iii. 65.
  Defined iii. 402.
  The use of abstract terms iii. 405.

Accent) defined ii. 361.
  The musical accents that are necessary in an hexameter line ii. 376.
  A low word must not be accented ii. 405.
  Rules for accenting English heroic verse ii. 415.
  How far affected by the pause ii. 422. &_c._
  Accent and pause have a mutual influence ii. 428.

Action) what feelings are raised by human actions i. 48. 49. 276.
  We are impelled to action by desire i. 55.
  Some actions are ultimate, some are means leading to an end i. 57.
  Actions great and elevated, low and groveling i. 276.
  Emotions occasioned by propriety of action ii. 13.
  Occasioned by impropriety of action ii. 14.
  Human actions produce a great variety of emotions ii. 28.
  Human actions considered with respect to dignity and meanness ii. 35.
  We are conscious of internal action as in the head iii. 377.
  Internal action may exist without our being conscious of it iii. 377.

Actor) bombast action i. 308.
  An actor ought to feel the passion he represents ii. 153.

Admiration) defined i. 320.

Affectation) defined ii. 11.

Affection) to children accounted for i. 82.
  To blood-relations accounted for i. 83.
  To property accounted for i. 84.
  Affection to children endures longer than any other affection i. 150.
  Opinion and belief influenced by affection i. 199.
  Affection defined ii. 87. iii. 394.

Agamemnon) of Seneca censured ii. 193.

Agreeable emotions and passions i. 127. &_c._

Alcestes) of Euripides censured iii. 286. 289.

Alexandre of Racine) censured ii. 177.

Allegory iii. 108. &_c._
  More difficult in painting than in poetry iii. 129.
  In an historical poem iii. 248.

All for Love) of Dryden censured ii. 202.

Ambiguity) occasioned by a wrong arrangement ii. 297.

Amynta) of Tasso censured ii. 167.

_Amor patriæ_) accounted for i. 88.

Amphibrachys ii. 460.

Amphimacer ii. 460.

Analytic) and synthetic methods of reasoning compared i. 31.

Anapæstus ii. 460.

Anger) explained i. 95. &_c._
  Sometimes exerted against the innocent i. 191.
  And even against things inanimate i. 191.
  Not infectious i. 221.
  Has no dignity in it ii. 33.

Animals) distributed by nature into classes iii. 356.

Antibacchius ii. 460.

Anticlimax ii. 345.

Antispastus ii. 461.

Antithesis ii. 73. 262.
  Verbal antithesis ii. 268.

Apostrophe iii. 87. &_c._

Appearance) in poetry, things ought to be described as they appear,
    not as they are in reality iii. 172.

Appetite) defined i. 59.
  Appetites of hunger, thirst, animal love, arise without an object i. 73.
  Appetite for fame or esteem i. 237.

Architecture ch. 24. iii. 294.
  Grandeur of manner in architecture i. 294.
  The situation of a great house ought to be lofty ii. 7.
  A playhouse or a music-room susceptible of much ornament ii. 9.
  What emotions can be raised by architecture iii. 297.
  Its emotions compared with those of gardening iii. 297.
  Every building ought to have an expression suited to its
    destination iii. 298. 338.
  Simplicity ought to be the governing taste iii. 300.
  Regularity ought to be studied iii. 301.
  External form of dwelling-houses iii. 324.
  Divisions within iii. 324. 340.
  A palace ought to be regular, but in a small house convenience ought chiefly
    to be studied iii. 326.
  The form of a dwelling-house ought to be suited to the climate iii. 327.
  Propriety ought to be studied in architecture iii. 338.
  Governed by principles which produce opposite effects iii. 342.
  Different ornaments employed by it iii. 342.
  Allegorical or emblematic ornaments iii. 347.
  Architecture inspires a taste for neatness and regularity iii. 350.

Architrave iii. 344.

Ariosto) censured iii. 264.

Aristæus) the episode of Aristæus in the Georgics censured ii. 457.

Army) defined iii. 405.

Arrangement) the best arrangement of words is to place them as
    much as possible in an increasing series ii. 251.

Articulate sounds) how far agreeable to the ear ii. 240.

Artificial mount iii. 313.

Ascent) pleasant, but descent not painful i. 273.

Athalie) of Racine censured ii. 193.

Attention) defined iii. 396.
  Impression which objects make depends on the degree of attention iii. 396.
  Attention not always voluntary iii. 398.

Attractive emotions ii. 133.

Attractive object i. 226.

Attributes) transferred from one subject: to another iii. 100. &_c._

Avarice) defined i. 52.

Avenue) to a house iii. 312.

Aversion) defined ii. 87. iii. 395.

Bacchius ii. 460.

Barren scene) defined iii. 266.

Base) of a column iii. 346.

Basso-relievo iii. 347.

Batrachomuomachia) censured ii. 42.

Beauty, ch. 3. i. 241.
  Intrinsic and relative i. 244.
  Beauty of simplicity i. 247.
    of figure i. 248.
    of the circle i. 251.
    of the square i. 251.
    of a regular polygon i. 252.
    of a parallelogram i. 252.
    of an equilateral triangle i. 253.
  Beauty, whether a primary or secondary quality of objects i. 260.
  Distinguished from congruity ii. 8.
  Great beauty seldom produces a constant lover ii. 101.
  Beauty proper and figurative iii. 388.

Belief) fortified by a lively narrative or a good historical painting i. 122.
  influenced by passion i. 196. iii. 55. 89
  influenced by propensity i. 199.
  influenced by affection i. 199.

Benevolence) joins with self-love to make us happy i. 228.
  inspired by gardening iii. 320.

Blank verse ii. 381. 435.
  Its aptitude for inversion ii. 438.
  Its melody ii. 439. &_c._

Body) defined iii. 406.

Boileau) censured iii. 242.

Bombast i. 303.
  Bombast in action i. 308.

Burlesk) machinery does well in a burlesk poem i. 125.
  Burlesk distinguished into two kinds ii. 41.

Cadence ii. 348. 362.

Capital) of a column iii. 346.

Careless Husband) its double plot well contrived iii. 253.

Cascade i. 314.

Cause) resembling causes may produce effects that have
    no resemblance: and causes that have no
    resemblance may produce resembling effects ii. 337. &_c._
  Cause defined iii. 406.

Chance) the mind revolts against misfortunes that happen by chance iii. 232.

Character) to draw a character is the master-piece of description iii. 182.

Characteristics) of Shaftesbury criticised ii. 10. Note.

Children) love to them accounted for i. 82.

Chinese gardens iii. 316.
  Wonder and surprise studied in them iii. 319.

Choreus ii. 459.

Choriambus ii. 461.

Chorus) an essential part of the Grecian tragedy iii. 270.

Church) what ought to be its form and situation iii. 338.

Cicero) censured ii. 329. 350.

Cid) of Corneille censured ii. 166. 198.

Cinna) of Corneille censured ii. 11. 161. 194.

Circle) its beauty i. 251.

Circumstances) in a period, how they ought to be arranged ii. 314. &_c._

Class) all living creatures distributed into classes iii. 356.

Climax) in sense i. 281. ii. 322.
  in sound ii. 252.

Coephores) of Eschylus censured ii. 114.

Coexistent) emotions and passions i. 151. &_c._

Colonnade) where proper iii. 327.

Colour) a secondary quality i. 259.

Columns) every column ought to have a base i. 218.
  The base ought to be square i. 218. 219.
  Columns admit different proportions iii. 332.
  What emotions they raise iii. 339.
  Column more beautiful than a pilaster iii. 344.
  Its form iii. 346.

Comedy) double plot in a comedy iii. 253.

Commencement) the commencement of a work ought
    to be modest and simple iii. 171.

Common nature) in every species of animals iii, 356.
  We have a conviction that this common nature is perfect or right iii. 357.
  Also that it is invariable iii. 357.

Common sense iii. 359. 373.

Comparison i. 346. &_c._ Ch. 19. iii. 3.
  Comparisons that resolve into a play of words iii. 42.

Complex emotion i. 152. 154. 155.

Complex perception iii. 383.

Complexion) white suits with a pale complexion,
    black with a dark complexion, and scarlet
    with one that is over-flushed i. 369.

Conception) defined iii. 379.

Concord) or harmony in objects of sight i. 156.

Concordant sounds) defined i. 151.

Congreve) censured iii. 258.

Congruity and propriety, ch. 10. ii. 3.
  Congruity distinguished from beauty ii. 8.
  distinguished from propriety ii. 8.
  Congruity coincides with proportion with respect to quantity ii. 19.

Connection) necessary in all compositions i. 34.

Conquest of Granada) of Dryden censured ii. 201.

Consonants ii. 239.

Constancy) great beauty the cause generally of inconstancy ii. 101.

Construction) of language explained ii. 285.

Contempt) raised by improper action i. 340.

Contrast i. 345. &_c._
  Its effect in gardening iii. 317.

Conviction) intuitive. _See_ Intuitive conviction.

Copulative) to drop the copulatives enlivens the expression ii. 281. &_c._

Coriolanus) of Shakespear censured ii. 200.

Corneille) censured ii. 159. 216.

Corporeal pleasure i. 1. 2.
  low and sometimes mean ii. 32.

Couplet ii. 381.

Courage) of greater dignity than justice. Why? ii. 31.

Creticus ii. 460.

Criminal) the hour of execution seems to him
    to approach with a swift pace i. 202.

Criticism) its advantages i. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.
  its terms not accurately defined ii. 139.

Crowd) defined iii. 404.

Curiosity i. 320. 345. &_c._

Custom and habit, ch. 14. ii. 81.
  Custom distinguished from habit ii. 82.

Dactyle ii. 364. &_c._ 460.

Declensions) explained ii. 288. 289.

Delicacy) of taste i. 136.

Derision ii. 16.

Descent) not painful i. 273.

Description) it animates a description to
    represent things past as present i. 118.
  The rules which ought to govern it iii. 169. &_c._
  A lively description is agreeable, though
    the subject described be disagreeable iii. 208.
  Description cannot reach any object but
    those of sight iii. 385.

Descriptive personification iii. 64.

Descriptive tragedy ii. 155.

Desire) defined i. 55.
  It impels us to action i. 55.
  It determines the will i. 222.
  Desire in a criminal of self-punishment i. 232.
  Desire tends the most to happiness when moderate i. 263.

Dialogue) dialogue-writing requires great genius ii. 151. 152. 153.
  In dialogue every expression ought to be suited
    to the character of the speaker iii. 196.
  Rules for its composition iii. 256.

Dignity and meanness, ch. 11. ii. 27.
  Dignity of human nature iii. 361.

Diianibus ii. 461.

Disagreeable emotions and passions i. 127. &_c._

Discordant sounds) defined i. 152.

Dispondeus ii. 461.

Disposition) defined iii. 394.

Dissimilar emotions i. 153.
  Their effects when co-existent i. 159. iii. 303. 337.

Dissimilar passions) their effects i. 171.

Dissocial passions i. 62.
  Dissocial passions all painful i. 131.
  and also disagreeable i. 134.

Ditrochæus ii. 461.

Door) its proportion iii. 322.

Double action) in an epic poem iii. 264.

Double-dealer) of Congreve censured ii. 193. iii. 266.

Double plot) in a dramatic composition iii. 251.

Drama) ancient and modern drama compared iii. 280.

Dramatic poetry iii. 218. &_c._

Drapery ought to hang loose i. 219.

Dress) rules about dress ii. 10. iii. 300.

Dryden) censured iii. 128. 257. 267.

Duties) moral duties of two kinds, respecting
    ourselves and respecting others ii. 20.
  Foundation of duties that respect ourselves ii. 21.
  Of those that respect others ii. 21.

Effects) resembling effects may be produced by causes
  that have no resemblance ii. 337. &_c._
  Effect defined iii. 406.

Electra) of Sophocles censured ii. 115.

Elevation i. 264. &_c._
  real and figurative intimately connected i. 279.
  Figurative elevation distinguished from figurative grandeur iii. 21. 22.

Emotion) no pleasure of external sense except
    of seeing and hearing is termed an _emotion_ or _passion_ i. 42.
  Emotions defined i. 46. 47.
  and their causes assigned i. 47. &_c._
  Emotion distinguished from passion i. 52. &_c._
  Emotions generated by relations i. 76. &_c._
  Primary, secondary i. 81.
  Raised by fiction i. 104. &_c._
  Division of emotions into pleasant and painful,
    agreeable and disagreeable i. 127. &_c._ iii. 387.
  The interrupted existence of emotions i. 139. &_c._
  Their growth and decay i. 139. &_c._
  Their identity i. 141.
  Co-existent emotions i. 151. &_c._
  Emotions similar and dissimilar i. 153.
  Complex emotion i. 154. 155.
  Effects of similar emotions when co-existent i. 155. iii. 336.
  Effects of dissimilar emotions when co-existent i. 159. iii. 303. 337.
  Emotions resemble their causes i. 217. &_c._
  Emotion of grandeur i. 266. &_c._
  of sublimity i. 269.
  A low emotion i. 276.
  Emotion of laughter i. 337.
  of ridicule i. 341.
  Emotions when contrasted ought not to be too slow
    or too quick in their succession i. 373.
  Emotions raised by the fine arts ought to be
    contrasted in succession i. 374.
  Emotion of congruity ii. 12.
  of propriety ii. 12.
  Emotions produced by human actions ii. 28.
  Emotions ranked according to their dignity ii. 32.
  External signs of emotions ch. 15. ii. 116.
  Attractive and repulsive emotions ii. 133.
  Emotion and passions expanded upon related objects
    i. 76. &_c._ ii. 312. &_c._ 336. 372. 415. 416. iii. 60. &_c._ 139. 140.
  Gratification of emotions i. 183. &_c._ 203. 358. iii. 98.
  What emotions do best in succession, what in conjunction iii. 302.
  Man is passive with regard to his emotions iii. 377.
  We are conscious of emotions as in the heart iii. 377.

Emphasis) must not be put upon a low word ii. 405.

Eneid) its unity of action iii. 263.

English plays) generally irregular iii. 292.

English tongue) too rough ii. 247.
  It is peculiarly qualified for personification iii. 63. Note.

Envy) defined i. 55.
  It magnifies every bad quality in its object i. 187.

Epic poem) no improbable fact ought to be admitted in it i. 124.
  Machinery in it has a bad effect i. 125.
  It doth not always reject ludicrous images i. 378.
  We pardon many faults in it which are intolerable
    in a sonnet or epigram i. 299.
  Its commencement ought to be modest and simple iii. 171.
  In what respect it differs from a tragedy iii. 218.
  Distinguished into pathetic and moral iii. 221.
  Its good effects iii. 223.
  Compared with tragedy as to the subjects proper for each iii. 225.
  How far it may borrow from history iii. 234.
  Rule for dividing it into parts iii. 236.

Epic poetry ch. 22. iii. 218.

Episode) in an historical poem iii. 250.

Epistles dedicatory) censured ii. 6. Note.

Epithets) redundant iii. 206.

Epitritus ii. 462.

Esteem) love of i. 237. 286.

Esther) of Racine censured ii. 193. 198.

Evergreens) cut in the shape of animals iii. 309.

Expression) elevated, low i. 276.
  Expression that has no distinct meaning ii. 232.
  Two members of a sentence which express a resemblance
    betwixt two objects ought to have a resemblance to
    each other ii. 270. &_c._

External senses) distinguished into two kinds i. I.
  External sense iii. 375.

External signs) of emotions and passions ch. 15. ii. 116.
  External signs of passion, what emotions they
    raise in a spectator ii. 131. &_c._

Faculty) by which we know passion from its external signs ii. 136.

Fairy Queen) criticised iii. 120.

False quantity) painful to the ear ii. 386.

Fame) love of i. 237.

Fashion) its influence accounted for i. 80.
  Fashion is in a continual flux i. 256.

Fear) explained i. 95. &_c._
  rises often to its utmost pitch in an instant i. 148.
  is infectious i. 221.

Feeling) its different significations iii. 379.

Fiction) emotions raised by fiction i. 104. &_c._

Figure) beauty of i. 248.
  Definition of a regular figure iii. 389.

Figures) some passions favourable to figurative expression ii. 208.
  Figures ch. 20. iii. 53.
  Figure of speech iii. 70. 113. 136. &_c._

Final cause) of our sense of order and connection i. 41.
  of the sympathetic emotion of virtue i. 74.
  of the instinctive passion of fear i. 96. 97.
  of the instinctive passion of anger i. 103.
  of ideal presence i. 121.
  of the power that fiction has on the mind i. 126.
  of emotions and passions i. 222. &_c._
  of regularity, uniformity, order, and simplicity i. 249. 251.
  of proportion i. 250.
  of beauty i. 262.
  why certain objects are neither pleasant nor painful i. 272. 309.
  of the pleasure we have in motion and force i. 318.
  of curiosity i. 320.
  of wonder i. 335.
  of surprise i. 336.
  of the principle that prompts us to perfect every work i. 366.
  of the pleasure or pain that results from the different
    circumstances of a train of perceptions i. 397. &_c._
  of congruity and propriety ii. 18. &_c._
  of dignity and meanness ii. 35. &_c._
  of habit ii. 106. &_c._
  of the external signs of passion and emotion ii. 127. 137. &_c._
  why articulate sounds singly agreeable are always
    agreeable in conjunction ii. 241.
  of the pleasure we have in language iii. 208.
  of our relish for various proportions in quantity iii. 333.
  of our conviction of a common standard in every species of beings iii. 362.
  of uniformity of taste in the fine arts iii. 363. 364.
  why the sense of a right and a wrong in the fine arts is less
    clear and authoritative than the sense of a
    right and a wrong in actions iii. 368.

Fine arts) defined i. 6. 7. 16.
  a subject of reasoning i. 8.
  Their emotions ought to be contrasted in succession i. 374.
  considered with respect to dignity ii. 34.
  How far they may be regulated by custom ii. 108.
  None of them are imitative but painting and sculpture ii. 234.
  Aberrations from a true taste
  in these arts iii. 366.
  Who are qualified to be judges in the fine arts iii. 371.

Fluid) motion of fluids i. 311.

Foot) a list of verse feet ii. 459.

Force) produces a feeling that resembles it i. 218.
  Force i. 309. &_c._
  Moving force i. 312.
  The pleasure of force differs from that of motion i. 313.
  It contributes to grandeur i. 315.

Foreign) preference given to foreign curiosities i. 331.

Fountains) in what form they ought to be iii. 313.

Friendship) considered with respect to dignity and meanness ii. 33.

Games) public games of the Greeks i. 314.

Gardening) grandeur of manner in gardening i. 294.
  Its emotions ought to be contrasted in succession i. 375.
  A small garden ought to be confined to a single expression i. 376.
  A garden near a great city ought to have an air of solitude i. 376.
  A garden in a wild country ought to be gay and splendid i. 377.
  Gardening ch. 24. iii. 294.
  What emotions can be raised by it iii. 296.
  Its emotions compared with those of architecture iii. 297.
  Simplicity ought to be the governing taste iii. 300.
  Wherein the unity of a garden consists iii. 304.
  How far ought regularity to be studied in it iii. 305.
  Resemblance carried too far in it iii. 305. Note.
  Grandeur in gardening iii. 306.
  Every unnatural object ought to be rejected iii. 308.
  Distant and faint imitations displease iii. 309.
  The effect of giving play to the imagination iii. 318.
  inspires benevolence iii. 320.
  and contributes to rectitude of manners iii. 350.

General idea) there cannot be such a thing iii. 383. Note.

General terms) ought to be avoided in compositions for amusement iii. 198.

General theorems) why they are agreeable i. 255.

Generic habit) defined ii. 95.

Generosity) why of greater dignity than justice ii. 31.

Genus) defined iii. 399.

Gestures) that accompany the different passions ii. 120. 121. 125.

_Gierusalleme liberata_) censured iii. 242. 249.

Good nature) why of less dignity than courage or generosity ii. 31.

Gothic tower) its beauty iii. 324.

Government) natural foundation of submission to government i. 236.

Grandeur) demands not strict regularity i. 257. 298.
  Grandeur and sublimity Ch. 4. i. 264.
  Real and figurative grandeur intimately connected i. 279.
  Grandeur of manner i. 288.
  Grandeur may be employed indirectly to humble the mind i. 300.
  Suits ill with wit and ridicule i. 377.
  Figurative grandeur distinguished from figurative elevation iii. 21. 22.
  Grandeur in gardening iii. 306.
  Regularity and proportion hide the grandeur of a building iii. 342.

Gratification) of passion i. 58. 59. 65. 66. 183. _&c._ 203. 358. iii. 98.

Gratitude) exerted upon the children of the benefactor i. 187.
  Punishment of ingratitude ii. 25.
  considered with respect to dignity and meanness ii. 33.

Grief) magnifies its cause i. 190.
  occasions a false reckoning of time i. 211.
  is infectious i. 220.
  when immoderate is silent ii. 204.

Gross pleasure i. 137.

Guido) censured iii. 131.

Habit) ch. 14. ii. 81.
  distinguished from custom ii. 82.

Harmony) or concord in objects of sight i. 156.
  Distinguished from melody ii. 358. Note.

Hatred) signifies more commonly affection than passion i. 146.

Hearing) in hearing we feel no impression iii. 380.

Henriade) censured iii. 178. 236. 243. 249.

Hexameter) Virgils hexameters extremely melodious;
  those of Horace not always so ii. 357.
  Structure of an hexameter line ii. 364.
  Rules for its structure ii. 367.
  Musical pauses in an hexameter line ii. 368.
  Wherein its melody consists ii. 380.

Hippolytus) of Euripides censured ii. 197. iii. 286. 288.

History) histories of conquerors and heroes singularly
    agreeable. Why? i. 72. 285.
  By what means does history raise our passions i. 115. 118.
  It rejects poetical images iii. 170.

Homer) defective in order and connection i. 35.
  His language finely suited to his subject iii. 194.
  His repetitions defended iii. 204.
  His poems in a great measure dramatic iii. 220.
  censured iii. 246.

Horace) defective in connection i. 35.
  His hexameters not always melodious ii. 358.
  Their defects pointed out ii. 380.

Horror) objects of horror ought to be banished from
    poetry and painting iii. 213.

Humour) defined ii. 44.
  Humour in writing distinguished from humour in character ii. 44.

Hyperbole iii. 89.

Hyppobacchius ii. 460.

Iambic verse) its modulation faint ii. 358.

Iambus ii. 459.

Jane Shore) censured ii. 168.

Idea) succession of ideas i. 381.
  Idea of memory defined iii. 382.
  cannot be innate iii. 382. Note.
  No general ideas iii. 383. Note.
  Idea of an object of sight more distinct than of any other object iii. 384.
  Ideas distinguished into three kinds iii. 386.
  Idea of imagination not so pleasant as an idea of memory iii. 393.

Ideal presence i. 107. &_c._

Identity) of passions and emotions i. 141.

_Jet d’eau_ i. 313. 314. iii. 308. 310.

Jingle of words ii. 231.

Iliad) criticised iii. 263.

Imagination) not always at rest even in sleep i. 337.
  Effect in gardening of giving play to it iii. 318. Its
  power of fabricating images iii. 385.

Imitation) we naturally imitate virtuous actions i. 220.
  not those that are vicious i. 221.
  None of the fine arts imitate nature except painting and sculpture ii. 234.
  The agreeableness of imitation overbalances
  the disagreeableness of the subject iii. 208.
  Distant and faint imitations displease iii. 309.

Impression) made on the organ of sense iii. 380.

Impropriety) in action raises contempt i. 340. Its punishment ii. 15.

Impulse) a strong impulse succeeding a weak, makes a double
    impression: a weak impulse succeeding a strong,
    makes scarce any impression ii. 251.

Infinite series) becomes disagreeable when prolonged i. 365. Note.

Innate idea) there cannot be such a thing iii. 382. Note.

Instrument) the means or instrument conceived to be the agent iii. 98. &_c._

Intellectual pleasure i. 2, 3.

Internal sense iii. 375.

Intrinsic beauty i. 244.

Intuitive conviction) of the veracity of our senses i. 105.
  of the dignity of human nature ii. 29. iii. 361.
  of a common nature or standard in every species of beings
    iii. 356. and of the perfection of that standard iii. 357.
  also that it is invariable iii. 357.
  Intuitive conviction that the external signs of passion
    are natural, and the same in all men ii. 135.

Inversion) an inverted style described ii. 290. &_c._
  Inversion gives force and liveliness to the expression
    by suspending the thought till the close ii. 324.
  Inversion how regulated ii. 330. 331. 332.
  Beauties of inversion ii. 331. 332.
  Full scope for it in blank verse ii. 438.

Ionicus ii. 461.

Joy) its cause i. 65.
  infectious i. 220.
  considered with respect to dignity and meanness ii. 33.

Iphigenia) of Racine censured ii. 112.

Iphigenia in Tauris) censured iii. 287. 288. 289.

Irony) defined ii. 50.

Italian tongue) too smooth ii. 246. Note.

Judgement) and memory in perfection, seldom united i. 28.
  Judgement seldom united with wit i. 28.

Julius Cæsar) of Shakespear censured ii. 200.

Justice) of less dignity than generosity or courage ii. 31.

Kent) his skill in gardening iii. 303.

Key-note ii. 348. 361.

Kitchen-garden iii. 315.

Labyrinth) in a garden iii. 310.

Landscape) why it is so agreeable i. 156.
  The pleasure it gives explained i. 298.
  A landscape in painting ought to be confined to a single expression i. 376.

Language) power of language to raise emotions, whence derived i. 112. 121.
  Language of passion ch. 17. ii. 204.
    broken and interrupted ii. 206.
    of impetuous passion ii. 210.
    of languid passion ii. 210.
    of calm emotions ii. 211.
    of turbulent passion ii. 211.
  Language elevated above the tone of the sentiment ii. 224.
    too artificial or too figurative ii. 225.
    too light or airy ii. 227.
  Language how far imitative of nature ii. 234.
    its beauty with respect to signification ii. 235. 254. &c.
    its beauty with respect to sound ii. 238.
    it ought to correspond
  to the subject ii. 258.
  its structure explained ii. 285.
  Beauty of language from a resemblance betwixt sound
    and signification ii. 333 &_c._
  The force of language proceeds from raising complete images iii. 174.
  its power of producing pleasant emotions iii. 208.
  Without language man would scarce be a rational being iii. 406.

_L’avare_) of Moliere censured ii 198.

Laughter i. 338.

Laugh of derision or scorn ii. 16.

Law) defined ii. 22.

Laws of human nature) necessary succession of perceptions i. 21. 380.
  We never act but through the impulse of desire i. 55. 222.
  An object loses its relish by familiarity i. 144.
  Passions sudden in their growth are equally sudden
    in their decay i. 148. ii. 91.
  Every passion ceases upon attaining its ultimate end i. 148.

Laws of motion) agreeable i. 255.

_Les Freres ennemies_) of Racine censured ii. 177.

_Lex talionis_) upon what principle founded i. 370.

Line) definition of a regular line iii. 389.

Littleness) is neither pleasant nor painful i. 272.

Logic) cause of its obscurity and intricacy ii. 138.

_Logio_) improper in this climate iii. 327.

Love) to children accounted for i. 82.
  The love a man bears to his country explained i. 88.
  Love produced by pity i. 93.
  It signifies more commonly affection than passion i. 146.
  To a lover absence appears long i. 202.
  Love assumes the qualities of its object i. 219.
  considered with respect to dignity and meanness ii. 33.
  seldom constant when founded on exquisite beauty ii. 101.
  ill represented in French plays ii. 194.
  when immoderate is silent ii. 205.

Love for love) censured iii. 266.

Lowness) is neither pleasant nor painful i. 272.

Lucan) too minute in his descriptions i. 292.
  censured iii. 220.

Ludicrous i. 338.
  may be introduced into an epic poem i. 378.

Lutrin) censured for incongruity ii. 9.
  characterized ii. 41.

Luxury) corrupts our taste iii. 370.

Machinery) ought to be excluded from an epic poem i. 125. iii. 239.
  does well in a burlesk poem i. 125.

Man) fitted for society i. 237.
  Conformity of the nature of man to his external
    circumstances i. 310. ii. 143.
  The different branches of his internal constitution
    finely suited to each other iii. 332. 364.

Manners) gross and refined i. 1, 8.
  The bad tendency of rough and blunt manners ii. 141. Note.

Marvellous) in epic poetry iii. 246.

Meanness ii. 27. &_c._

Means) the means or instrument conceived to be the agent iii. 98. &_c._

Measure) natural measure of time i. 200. &_c._
  of space, i. 211 &_c._

Medea) of Euripides censured iii. 287.

Melody) or modulation defined ii. 355.
  distinguished from harmony ii. 358. Note.

Members of a period) have a fine effect placed in
    an increasing series ii. 252.

Memory) and judgement in perfection seldom united i. 28.
  Memory and wit often united i. 28.
  Memory iii. 381.

Merry wives of Windsor) its double plot well contrived iii. 253.

Metaphor iii. 108. &_c._

Metre ii. 381.

Mile) the computed miles are longer in a barren
    than in a populous country i. 209.

Milton) his style much inverted ii. 439.
  The defect of his verification is the want of
    coincidence betwixt the pauses of the sense
    and the sound ii. 445.
    the beauty of Milton’s comparisons iii. 16.

Moderation) in our desires contributes the most to happiness i. 263.

Modern manners) make a poor figure in an epic poem iii. 235.

Modification) defined iii. 399.

Modulation) defined ii. 355.

Molossus ii. 459.

Monosyllables) English, arbitrary as to quantity ii. 383.

Moral duties) _See_ Duties.

Morality) its foundation iii. 358.
  Aberrations from its true standard iii. 366.

Moral tragedy iii. 221.

Motion) productive of feelings that resemble it i. 217.
  Its laws agreeable i. 255.
  Motion and force, ch. 5. i. 309. &_c._
  What motions are the most agreeable i. 310.
  Regular motion i. 311.
    accelerated motion i. 311.
    upward motion i. 311.
    undulating motion i. 311.
  Motion of fluids i. 311.
  A body moved
  neither agreeable nor disagreeable i. 312.
  The pleasure of motion differs from that of force i. 313.
  Grace of motion i. 317.
  Motions of the human body i. 317.

Motive) defined i. 58. 59.

Mount) artificial iii. 313.

Mourning Bride) censured ii. 180. 197. iii. 279. 292.

Music) vocal distinguished from instrumental i. 166.
  What subjects proper for vocal music i. 166. &_c._
  Music betwixt the acts of a play, the advantages
    that may be drawn from it iii. 283.
  Though it cannot raise a passion, it disposes
    the heart to various passions iii. 284.

Musical instruments) their different effects upon the mind i. 283.

Musical measure) defined ii. 355.

Narration) it animates a narrative to represent things past as present i. 118.
  Narration and description, ch. 21. iii. 169.
  It animates a narrative, to make it dramatic iii. 197. 220.

Nation) defined iii. 404.

Note, a high note and a low note in music i. 278.

Novelty and the unexpected appearance of objects, ch. 6. i. 319.
  Novelty a pleasant emotion i. 322. &_c._
    distinguished from variety i. 329.
    its different degrees i. 329. &_c._

Number) defined iii. 331.

_Numerus_) defined ii. 355.

Object) of a passion defined i. 56.
  An agreeable object produceth a pleasant emotion,
    and a disagreeable object a painful emotion i. 223.
    attractive object i. 226.
    repulsive object i. 226.
  Objects of sight the most complex i. 243.
  Objects that are neither pleasant nor painful i. 272. 309. 312.
  Objects of external sense in what place they are perceived iii. 370.
  Objects of internal sense iii. 377.
  All objects of sight are complex iii. 400.
  Objects simple and complex iii. 401.
  Object defined iii. 406.

Old Bachelor) censured iii. 266.

Opera) censured ii. 9.

Opinion) influenced by passion i. 183. &_c._ iii. 55.
  influenced by propensity i. 99.
  influenced by affection i. 199.
  why differing from me in opinion is disagreeable iii. 359.
  Opinion defined iii. 396.

Oration) _pro Archia poeta_ censured ii. 329.

Orchard iii. 315.

Order) i. 28. &_c._ iii. 392.
  pleasure we have in order i. 32.
  necessary in all compositions i. 34.
  Sense of order has an influence upon our passions i. 81. 89.
    when a list of many particulars is brought into
    a period, in what order should they be placed? ii. 321.
  Order in stating facts iii. 264.

Organ of sense i. 1.

Organic pleasure i. 1. 2. 3. 4.

Orlando Furioso) censured iii. 264.

Ornament) redundant ornaments ought to be avoided iii. 168.
  Ornaments in architecture iii. 342.
  Allegorical or emblematic ornaments iii. 347.

Othello) censured iii. 215.

Pæon ii. 461.

Pain) cessation of pain extremely pleasant i. 68.
  Pain lessens by custom ii. 102. iii. 355.
  Some pains felt internally some externally iii. 387.

Painful emotions and passions i. 127. &_c._

Painting) in grotesque painting the figures ought
    to be small, in historical painting as great
    as the life i. 279.
  Grandeur of manner in painting i. 293.
  Painting is an imitation of nature ii. 234.
  In history painting the principal figure ought
    to be in the best light iii. 201.
  A good picture agreeable, though the subject be disagreeable iii. 208.
  Objects that strike terror have a fine effect in painting iii. 211.
  Objects of horror ought not to be represented iii. 213.
  What emotions can be raised by painting iii. 296.

Panic i. 221.

Parallelogram) its beauty i. 252.

Parody) defined ii. 52. 160. Note.

Particles ii. 404. not capable of an accent ii. 405. 416.

Passion) no pleasure of external sense denominated
   a passion except of seeing and hearing i. 42.
  Passion distinguished from emotion i. 52. 53. 54.
  Passions distinguished into instinctive and deliberative i. 58. 95. &_c._
  What are selfish, what social i. 59.
  What dissocial i. 62.
  Passion founded on relations i. 76. &_c._
  A passion paves the way to others in the same tone i. 92.
  Passions considered as pleasant or painful, agreeable
    or disagreeable i. 127. &_c._
    as refined or gross i. 137.
  Their interrupted existence i. 139. &_c._
  Their growth and decay i. 139.
  &_c._ The identity of a passion i. 141.
  The bulk of our passions are the affections of
    love or hatred inflamed into a passion i. 146.
  Passions swell by opposition i. 146.
  A passion sudden in growth is sudden in decay i. 148.
    ceases upon attaining its ultimate end i. 148.
  Co-existent passions i. 151. &_c._
  Passions similar and dissimilar i. 171.
  Fluctuation of passion i. 178. &_c._
  Its influence upon our opinions and belief i. 183. &_c._ 203. 358.
  Its influence upon our perceptions i. 215. 216.
  Prone to its gratification i. 238. 239.
    has an influence even upon our eye-sight i. 362. 363.
  Passions ranked according to their dignity ii. 32.
  No disagreeable passion is attended with dignity ii. 33.
  Social passions of greater dignity than selfish ii. 37.
  External signs of passion ch. 15. ii. 116.
  Passion generally fluctuates, swelling and
    subsiding by turns ii. 163. Language of
    passion ch. 17. ii. 204. &_c._
  A passion when immoderate is silent ii. 204.
  Language of passion broken and interrupted ii. 206.
  What passions admit figurative expression ii. 208.
  Language proper for impetuous passion ii. 210.
    for melancholy ii. 210.
    for calm emotions ii. 211.
    for turbulent passion ii. 211.
  Passions expanded upon related objects i. 76. &_c._
    ii. 312. &_c._ 336. 372. 415. 416. iii. 60. &_c._ 139. 140.
  With regard to passion man is passive iii. 377.
  We are conscious of passions as in the heart iii. 377.

Passionate) personification iii. 64.

Passive subject) defined iii. 406.

Pathetic tragedy iii. 221.

Pause) pauses necessary for three different purposes ii. 360.
  Musical pauses in an hexameter line ii. 368.
  Musical pauses ought to coincide with those in the sense ii. 371. 375.
  What musical pauses are essential in English heroic verse ii. 388.
  Rules concerning them ii. 390. &_c._
  Pause and accent have a mutual influence ii. 428.

Pedestal) ought to be sparingly ornamented iii. 347.

Perceptions) succession of i. 380.
  Perception defined iii. 378.
  Original and secondary iii. 382.
  Simple and complex iii. 383.

Period) has a fine effect when its members proceed
    in the form of an increasing series ii. 252.
  In the periods of a discourse variety ought to be studied ii. 253.
  Different thoughts ought not to be crowded into one period ii. 263.
  The scene ought not to be changed in a period ii. 278.
  A period so arranged as to express the sense clearly,
    seems more musical than where the sense is left
    doubtful ii. 307.
  In what part of the period doth a word make the greatest figure ii. 318.
  A period ought to be closed with that word which
    makes the greatest figure ii. 320.
  When there is occasion to mention many particulars,
    in what order ought they to be placed ii. 321.
  A short period is lively and familiar, a long period
    grave and solemn ii. 328.
  A discourse ought not to commence with a long period ii. 329.

Personification iii. 54. &_c._
  Passionate and descriptive iii. 64.

Perspicuity) a capital requisite in writing ii. 256.

Pharsalia) censured iii. 220.

Phedra) of Racine censured ii. 113. 216.

Pilaster) less beautiful than a column iii. 345.

Pindar) defective in order and connection i. 35.

Pity) defined i. 55.
  apt to produce love i. 93.
  always painful, yet always agreeable i. 134.
  resembles its cause i. 211.
  What are the proper subjects for raising pity iii. 226.

Planetary system) its beauty i. 316.

Play) is a chain of connected facts, each scene making a link iii. 266.

Play of words) ii 71. 228 &_c._
  Comparisons that resolve into a play of words iii. 42.

Pleasant emotions and passions i. 127. &_c._
  Pleasant pain explained i. 155.

Pleasure) pleasures of seeing and hearing
    distinguished from those of the other senses i. 1. 2. &_c._
  Pleasure of order i. 32.
    of connection i. 32.
  Pleasures of taste, touch, and smell, not termed
    _emotions_ or _passions_ i. 42.
  Pleasures refined and gross i. 137.
  Corporeal pleasure low and sometimes mean ii 32.
  Pleasures of the eye and ear never low or mean ii. 32.
  Pleasures of the understanding are high in point of dignity ii. 34.
  Some pleasures felt internally, some externally iii. 387.

Poet) the chief talent of a poet who deals in the pathetic ii. 119.

Poetry) objects that strike terror have a fine effect in it iii. 211.
  Objects of horror ought to be banished from it iii. 213.
  Poetry has power over all the human affections iii. 296.
  The most successful in describing objects of sight iii. 385.

Polite behaviour i. 138.

Polygon) regular its beauty i. 252.

Polysyllables) how far agreeable to the ear ii. 242.
  seldom have place in the construction of English verse ii. 385. 421.

Pompey) of Corneille censured ii. 176. 191. 194.

Pope excels in the variety of his melody ii. 411.
  His style compared with that of Swift iii. 198.

Posture) constrained posture disagreeable to the spectator i. 219.

Power of abstraction iii. 401.
  Its use iii. 402. 403.

Prepositions) explained ii. 289.

Pride) incites us to ridicule the blunders and absurdities of others ii 17.
  Considered with respect to dignity and meanness ii. 34.
  Its external expressions or signs disagreeable ii. 132.

Primary and secondary qualities of matter i. 259.

Principle) of order i. 28. 29.
  of morality i. 49. 74. ii. 21.
  of self-preservation i. 96.
  of selfishness i. 227. 229.
  of benevolence i. 228. 229.
  Principle that makes us fond of esteem i. 237. 286.
    of curiosity i. 320. 345. &_c._
    of habit ii. 105.
  Principle that makes us wish others to be of our opinion iii. 57. 359.
  Principle defined iii. 394.
  _See_ Propensity.

Principles of the fine arts i. 7.

Proceleusmaticus ii. 461.

Prodigies) find ready credit with the vulgar i. 198.

Prologue of the ancient tragedy iii. 271.

Pronoun) defined ii. 310.

Pronunciation) rules for it ii. 347. &_c._
  distinguished from singing ii. 348.
  Singing and pronouncing compared ii. 351.

Propensity) opinion and belief influenced by it i. 199.
  Propensity to fit objects for the gratification of our
  passions i. 184. iii. 98.
  Propensity to justify our passions and actions i. 185.
  Propensity to punish guilt and reward virtue i. 231.
  Propensity to carry along the good or bad properties
    of one subject to another i. 76. ii. 235. 307.
    312. 372. 415. 416. iii. 101.
  Propensity to complete every work that is begun
    and to carry things to perfection i. 364. 365.
    iii. 262. 345.
  Propensity to communicate to others every thing that affects us ii. 204.
  Propensity to place together things mutually connected ii. 308.
  Propensity defined iii. 394.
  _See_ Principle.

Properties) transferred from one subject to another iii. 100. &_c._

Property) the affection man bears to his property i. 84.

Prophecy) those who believe in prophecies wish the accomplishment i. 239.

Propriety ii. 3. &_c._
  distinguished from congruity ii. 8.
  distinguished from proportion ii. 19.
  Propriety in buildings iii. 338.

Proportion) distinguished from propriety ii. 19.
  As to quantity coincides with congruity ii. 19.
    examined as applied to architecture iii. 318.
  Proportion defined iii. 391.

Prose) distinguished from verse ii. 353.

Prospect) pleasure of a fine prospect i. 298.
  An unbounded prospect disagreeable i. 366. Note.

Provok’d husband) censured iii. 253.

Pun) defined ii. 77.

Punishment) in the place where the crime was committed i. 371.
  Punishment of impropriety ii. 15.

Public games) of the Greeks i. 314.

Pyrrhichius ii. 459.

Qualities) primary and secondary i. 259.
  A quality cannot be conceived independent of
   the subject to which it belongs ii. 293.
  Different qualities perceived by different senses iii. 376.

Quantity) with respect to melody ii. 363. 383.
  Quantity with respect to English verse ii. 383.

Quintilian) censured iii. 92.

Quintus Curtius) censured ii. 167.

Racine) criticised ii. 216. &_c._

Rape of the Lock) characteriz’d ii. 43.
  admirable versification ii. 362.

Reading) chief talent of a fine reader ii. 120.
  Plaintive passions require a slow pronunciation ii. 161. Note.
  Rules for reading ii. 347. &_c._
    compared with singing ii. 351.

Reason) reasons to justify a favourite opinion are
    always at hand and much relished i. 186.

Refined pleasure i. 137.

Regularity) not essential in grand objects i. 257.
  required in a small work, not so much in one that is extensive i. 299.
  how far to be studied in architecture iii. 301. 322. 328.
  how far to be studied in a garden iii. 305.
  Regular line defined iii. 389.
  Regular figure defined iii. 389.
  Regularity proper and figurative iii. 390.

Relations i. 22. 23.
  have an influence in generating emotions and passions i. 76. &_c._
  are the foundation of congruity and propriety ii. 5.
  in what manner are relations expressed in words ii. 286.

Relative beauty i. 244.

Remorse) its gratification i. 232.
  is not mean. ii. 34.

Repartee ii. 80.

Representation) its perfection lies in hiding
    itself and producing an impression of reality iii. 279.

Repulsive) object i. 226.
  Repulsive emotions ii. 133.

Resemblance) and contrast, ch. 8. i. 345.
  The members of a sentence signifying a resemblance
    betwixt objects ought to resemble each other
    ii. 270. &_c._
  Resembling causes may produce effects that have
    no resemblance, and causes that have no resemblance
    may produce resembling effects ii. 337. &_c._
  Resemblance carried too far in some gardens iii. 305. Note.

Resentment) explained i. 98. &_c._
  disagreeable in excess i. 134.
  extended against relations of the offender i. 190.
  its gratification i. 231.
  when immoderate is silent ii. 205.

Rest) neither agreeable nor disagreeable i. 309.

Revenge) animates but doth not elevate the mind i. 283.
  has no dignity in it ii. 33.

Reverie) cause of the pleasure we have in it i. 112.

Rhyme) for what subjects it is proper ii. 447. &_c._
  Melody of rhyme ii. 449.

Rhythmus) defined ii. 355.

Riches) love of, corrupts the taste iii. 370.

Riddle iii. 310.

Ridicule) a gross pleasure i. 138.
  is losing ground in England i. 138.
  Emotion of ridicule i. 341.
    not concordant with grandeur i. 377,
  Ridicule ii. 16. 40. &_c._
    whether it be a test of truth ii. 55.

Ridiculous) distinguished from risible i. 341.

Risible objects, ch. 7. i. 337.
  Risible distinguished from ridiculous i. 341.

Rubens) censured iii. 130.

Ruin) ought not to be seen from a flower-parterre iii. 303.
  in what form it ought to be iii. 313.

Sallust) censured for want of connection i. 37.

Sapphic verse) has a very agreeable modulation ii. 358.

Scorn ii. 16.

Sculpture) imitates nature ii. 234.
  what emotions can be raised by it iii. 296.

_Secchia rapita_) characterized ii. 41.

Secondary qualities of matter i. 259.

Seeing) in seeing we feel no impression iii. 380.
  Objects of sight are all of them complex iii. 400.

Self-deceit i. 185. ii. 190.

Selfish passions i. 59.
  are pleasant i. 131.
  less refined than the social i. 137.
  inferior in dignity to the social ii. 37.

Selfishness) promoted by luxury iii. 370.
  and also by love of riches iii. 370.

Self-love) its prevalence accounted for i. 63.
  in excess disagreeable i. 134.
  not inconsistent with benevolence i. 228.

Semipause) in an hexameter line ii. 369.
  what semipauses are found in an English heroic line ii. 390.

Sensation) defined iii. 378.

Sense) of order i. 28. &_c._
  contributes to generate emotions i. 81.
  and passions i. 89.
  Sense of right and wrong i. 49.
    of the veracity of our senses i. 105.
  Sense of congruity or propriety ii. 6.
    of the dignity of human nature ii. 29. iii. 361.
  Sense by
  which we discover a passion from its external signs ii. 136.
  Sense of a common nature in every species of beings iii. 356.
  Sense internal and external iii. 375.
  In touching, tasting, and smelling, we feel the
    impression at the organ of sense, not in seeing
    and hearing iii. 380.

Sentence) it detracts from neatness to vary the scene
    in the same sentence ii. 278.
  A sentence so arranged as to express the sense
    clearly, seems always more musical than where
    the sense is left in any degree doubtful ii. 307.

Sentiment) elevated, low i. 276.
  Sentiments ch. 16. ii. 149.
  Sentiments expressing the swelling of passion ii. 164.
    expressing the different stages of a passion ii. 165.
    dictated by co-existent passions ii. 169.
  Sentiments of strong passions are hid or dissembled ii. 171.
  Sentiments above the tone of the passion ii. 175.
    below the tone of the passion ii. 176.
  Sentiments too gay for a serious passion ii. 178.
    too artificial for a serious passion ii. 179.
    fanciful or sinical ii. 182.
    discordant with character ii. 186.
    misplaced ii. 189.
  Immoral sentiments expressed without disguise ii. 189.
    unnatural ii. 196.
  Sentiment defined iii. 396.

Series) from small to great agreeable i. 272.
  Ascending series i. 274.
  Descending series i. 275.
  The effect of a number of objects placed in an
    increasing or decreasing series ii. 249.

Serpentine river) its beauty i. 311. iii. 316.

Sertorius) of Corneille censured ii. 163.

Shaft) of a column iii. 346.

Shakespear) criticised ii. 212
  deals little in inversion ii. 439.
  excells in drawing characters iii. 182.
  his style in what respect excellent iii. 198.
  his dialogue excellent iii. 257.
  deals not in barren scenes iii. 267.

Shame) is not mean ii. 34.

Similar emotions i. 153.
  their effects when co-existent i. 155. iii. 336.
  Similar passions i. 171.
  Effects of co-existent similar passions i. 171.

Simple perception iii. 383.

Simplicity) beauty of i. 247. 254.
  abandoned in the fine arts i. 255.
  a great beauty in tragedy iii. 252. Note.
  ought to be the governing taste in gardening and architecture iii. 300.

Singing) distinguished from pronouncing or reading ii. 348.
  Singing and pronouncing compared ii. 351.

Situation) different situations suited to different buildings iii. 339.

Smelling) in smelling we feel an impression upon the organ of sense iii. 380.

Smoke) the pleasure of ascending smoke accounted for i. 33. 313.

Social passions i. 59.
  more refined than the selfish i. 137.
  of greater dignity ii. 37.

Society) advantages of i. 237. 238. 240.

Soliloquy) has a foundation in nature ii. 123.
  Soliloquies ii. 218. &_c._

Sorrow) cause of it i. 65.

Sounds) concordant i. 151.
  discordant i. 152.
  produce emotions that resemble them i. 218.
  articulate how far agreeable to the ear ii. 240.
  A smooth sound sooths the mind, and a rough sound animates ii. 245.

Space) natural computation of space i. 211. &_c._

Species) defined iii. 399.

Specific habit) defined ii. 95.

Speech) power of speech to raise emotions, whence derived i. 112. 121.

Spondee ii. 364. &_c._ ii. 459.

Square) its beauty i. 251.

Stairs) their proportion iii. 323.

Standard) of taste ch. 25. iii. 351.
  Standard of morals iii. 367.

Star) in gardening iii. 307.

Statue) the reason why a statue is not coloured i. 372.
  An equestrian statue is placed in a centre of streets
    that it may be seen from many places at once iii. 201.
  Statue of an animal pouring out water iii. 308.
    of a water-god pouring water out of his urn iii. 350.

Strada) censured iii. 170.

Style) natural and inverted ii. 290. &_c._
  The beauties of a natural style ii. 332.
    of an inverted style ii. 332.
  Concise style a great ornament iii. 204.

Subject) may be conceived independent of any particular quality ii. 293.
  Subject with respect to its qualities iii. 376.
  Subject defined iii. 406.

Sublimity i. 264. &_c._
  Sublime in poetry i. 277.
  Sublimity may be employed indirectly to sink the mind i. 300.
  False sublime i. 303. 306.

Submission) natural foundation of submission to government i. 236.

Substance) defined iii. 406.

Substratum) defined iii. 376.

Succession) of perceptions and ideas i. 380. &_c._

Superlatives) inferior writers deal in superlatives iii. 195.

Surprise) instantaneous i. 142. 321.
  pleasant or painful according to circumstances i. 326. &_c._
  Surprise is the cause of contrast i. 359.
  Surprise a silent passion ii. 205.
    studied in Chinese gardens iii. 319.

Suspense) an uneasy state i. 205.

Sweet distress) explained i. 155.

Swift) his language always suited to his subject iii. 194.
  has a peculiar energy of style iii. 198.
  compared with Pope iii. 198.

Syllable ii. 239.
  Syllables long and short ii. 363.

Sympathy) sympathetic emotion of virtue i. 70.
  Sympathy i. 229.
    attractive i. 230.
    never low nor mean ii. 32.
    the cement of society ii. 143.

Synthetic) and analytic methods of reasoning compared i. 31.

Tacitus) excells in drawing characters iii. 182.
  his style comprehensive iii. 204.

Tasso) censured iii. 242.

Taste) in tasting we feel an impression upon the organ of sense iii. 380.
  Taste in the fine arts compared with the moral sense i. 7.
    its advantages i. 10. &_c._
  Delicacy of taste i. 136.
  A low taste i. 276.
  The foundation of a right and a wrong in taste iii. 358.
  Taste in the fine arts as well as in morals
    corrupted by voluptuousness iii. 370.
  corrupted by love of riches iii. 370.
  Taste never naturally bad or wrong iii. 372.
  Aberrations from a true taste in the fine arts iii. 366.

Tautology) a blemish in writing iii. 205.

Temples) of Ancient and Modern Virtue in the gardens of Stow iii. 348.

Terence) censured iii. 288. 290.

Terror) arises sometimes to its utmost height instantaneously i. 143.
  a silent passion ii. 205.
  Objects that strike terror have a fine effect
    in poetry and painting iii. 211.
  The terror raised by tragedy explained iii. 228.

Theorem) general theorems agreeable i. 255.

Time) past time expressed as present i. 118.
  Natural computation of time i. 200. &_c._

Tone) of mind iii. 378.

Touch) in touching we feel an impression upon the organ of sense iii. 380.

Trachiniens) of Sophocles censured iii. 286.

Tragedy) modern tragedy censured ii. 155.
  French tragedy censured ii. 159. Note. ii. 194.
  The Greek tragedy accompanied with musical notes
    to ascertain the pronunciation ii. 350.
  Tragedy ch. 22. iii. 218.
    in what respect it differs from an epic poem iii. 218.
    distinguished into pathetic and moral iii. 221.
    its good effects iii. 223.
    compared with the epic as to the subjects proper for each iii. 225. 226.
    how far it may borrow from history iii. 234.
    rule for dividing it into acts iii. 236.
    double plot in it iii. 251.
    admits not supernatural events iii. 254.
    its origin iii. 270.
  Ancient tragedy a continued representation without interruption iii. 271.
  Constitution of the modern drama iii. 273.

Trees) the best manner of placing them iii. 307.

Triangle) equilateral, its beauty i. 253.

Tribrachys ii. 459.

Trochæus ii. 459.

Tropes ch. 20. iii. 53.

Ugliness) proper and figurative iii. 388.

Unbounded prospect) disagreeable i. 366. Note.

Uniformity) apt to disgust by excess i. 253.
  Uniformity and variety ch. 9. i. 380.
  The melody ought to be uniform where the things
    described are uniform ii. 411.
  Uniformity defined iii. 390.

Unity) the three unities ch. 23. iii. 259.
  of action iii. 260.
  of time and of place ii. 267.
  Unities of time and place not required in an epic poem iii. 268.
  Strictly observed in the Greek tragedy iii. 272.
  Unity of place in the ancient drama iii. 285.
  Unities of place and time ought to be strictly observed
    in each act of a modern play iii. 291.
  Wherein the unity of a garden consists. iii. 304.

_Unumquodque eodem modo dissolvitur quo colligatum est_ i. 368.

Vanity) a disagreeable passion i. 134.
  always appears mean ii. 34.

Variety) distinguished from novelty i. 329.
  Variety ch. 9. i. 380.

Verbal antithesis) defined ii. 73. 268.

Versailles) gardens of iii. 310.

Verse) distinguished from prose ii. 353
  Sapphic verse extremely melodious ii. 358.
  Iambic less so ii. 358.
  Structure of an hexameter line ii. 364.
  Structure of English heroic verse ii. 382. 384.
  English monosyllables arbitrary as to quantity ii. 383.
  English heroic lines distinguished into four sorts ii. 421.
  Latin hexameter compared with English rhyme ii. 441.
    compared with blank verse ii. 442.
  French heroic verse compared with hexameter and rhyme ii. 443.
  The English language incapable of the melody of hexameter verse ii. 446.
  For what subjects is rhyme proper ii. 447. &_c._
  Melody of rhyme ii. 449.
  Melody of verse is so inchanting as to draw a veil
    over gross imperfections ii. 457.
  Verses composed in the shape of an axe or an egg iii. 310.

Violent action) ought to be excluded from the stage iii. 254.

Virgil) censured for want of connection i. 36. &_c._
  his verse extremely melodious ii. 357.
  his versification criticised ii. 376.
  censured iii. 179. 194. 246.

_Virgil travestie_) characterized ii. 41.

Voltaire) censured iii. 178. 236. 243.

Vowels ii. 238.

Walk) in a garden, whether it ought to be straight or waving iii. 311.
  artificial walk elevated above the plain iii. 313.

Wall) that is not perpendicular occasions an uneasy feeling i. 218.

Water-fall i. 314.

Water-god) statue of, pouring out water iii. 350.

Way of the World) censured iii. 266.
  the unities of place and time strictly observed in it iii. 293.

Will) how far our train of perceptions can be regulated by it i. 23. 381. 388.
  determined by desire i. 222

Windows) their proportions iii. 323.

Wish) distinguished from desire i. 55.

Wit) defined i. 28. seldom united with judgement
    i. 28. but generally with memory i. 28.
  not concordant with grandeur i. 377.
  Wit ch. 13. ii. 58.

Wonder) instantaneous i. 143.
  Wonders and prodigies find ready credit with the vulgar i. 198.
  Wonder i. 320.
    studied in Chinese gardens iii. 319.

Words) play of ii. 228. &_c._
  jingle of ii. 231.
  what are their best arrangement in a period ii. 251.
  A conjunction or disjunction in the members of
    the thought ought to be imitated in the expression ii. 260. 265.
  Words expressing things connected ought to be
    placed as near together as possible ii. 307. &_c._
  In what part of a sentence doth a word make the greatest figure ii. 318.
  Words acquire a beauty from their meaning iii. 139.
  The words ought to accord with the sentiment iii. 188.
  A word is often redoubled to add force to the expression iii. 201.

Writing) a subject intended for amusement may be highly ornamented ii. 9.
  A grand subject appears best in a plain dress ii. 10.



[1] Chap. 8.

[2] Dunciad, b. 4. l. 405.

[3] Book 2. l. 111.

[4] Book 2. l. 551.

[5] See Vidæ Poetic. lib. 2. l. 282.

[6] See chap. 4.

[7] Beginning of book 3.

[8] Book 4. l. 498.

[9] Guardian No. 153.

[10] Strada de bello Belgico.

[11] It is accordingly observed by Longinus, in his treatise of the
Sublime, that the proper time for metaphor, is when the passions are so
swelled as to hurry on like a torrent.

[12] Chap. 2. part 5.

[13] Philoctetes of Sophocles, act 4. sc. 2.

[14] Alcestes of Euripides, act 2. sc. 1.

[15] See this principle accounted for, chap. 25.

[16] Philoctetes of Sophocles, at the close.

[17] The chastity of the English language, which in common usage
distinguishes by genders no words but what signify beings male and
female, gives thus a fine opportunity for the prosopopœia; a beauty
unknown in other languages, where every word is masculine or feminine.

[18] See appendix, containing definitions and explanation of terms.

[19] _Æneid._ iv. 173.

[20] Chap. 19.

[21] Dec. 1. l. 1.

[22] Chap. 31. of his treatise on the sublime.

[23] L. 8. cap. 6. in fin.

[24] See chap. 2. part 1. sect. 4.

[25] See chap. 1.

[26] L. 8. cap. 6. sect. 2.

[27] Reflexions sur la Poesie, _&c._ vol. 1. sect. 24.

[28] Act 4. sc. 6.

[29] See chap. 2. part 1. sect. 4.

[30] I have often regretted, that a factious spirit of opposition to
the reigning family made it necessary in public worship to distinguish
the King by his proper name. One will scarce imagine, who has not made
the trial, how much better it sounds to pray for our Sovereign Lord the
King, without any addition.

[31] Poet. lib. 2. l. 30.

[32] Part 1. sect. 6.

[33] Henry V. act 4. sc. 4.

[34] Merry Wives of Windsor, act 3. sc. 15.

[35] Lib. 4. l. 632.

[36] See Æneid. lib. 1. 188.--219.

[37] Montaigne, reflecting upon the then present modes, observes, that
there never was at any other time so abject and servile prostitution
of words in the addresses made by people of fashion to one another;
the humblest tenders of life and soul, no professions under that
of devotion and adoration; the writer constantly declaring himself
a vassal, nay a slave: so that when any more serious occasion of
friendship or gratitude requires more genuine professions, words are
wanting to express them.

[38] Ch. 18. sect. 3.

[39] One can scarce avoid smiling at the blindness of a certain critic,
who, with an air of self-sufficiency, condemns this expression as low
and vulgar. A French poet, says he, would express the same thought in
a more sublime manner: “Mais tout dort, et l’armée, et les vents, et
Neptune.” And he adds, “The English poet may please at London, but the
French every where else.”

[40] See chap. 4.

[41] Georg. l. ii. 468.

[42] Lib. 8. cap. 6. § 2.

[43] See chap. 18.

[44] See chap 2. part 4.

[45] The dialogue in a dramatic composition separates it so clearly
from other compositions, that no writer has thought it necessary to
search for any other distinguishing mark. But much useless labour has
been bestowed, to distinguish an epic poem by some such mark. Bossu
defines this poem to be, “A composition in verse, intended to form the
manners by instructions disguised under the allegories of an important
action,” which will exclude every epic poem founded upon real facts,
and perhaps include several of Esop’s fables. Voltaire reckons verse
so essential, as for that single reason to exclude the adventures
of Telemachus. See his _Essay upon Epic Poetry_. Others, affected
with substance more than with ornament, hesitate not to pronounce
that poem to be epic. It is not a little diverting, to see so many
shallow critics hunting for what is not to be found. They always take
for granted, without the least foundation, that there must be some
precise criterion to distinguish epic poetry from every other species
of writing. Literary compositions run into each other, precisely like
colours: in their strong tints they are easily distinguished; but are
susceptible of so much variety, and take on so many different forms,
that we never can say where one species ends and another begins. As to
the general taste, there is little reason to doubt, that a work where
heroic actions are related in an elevated style, will, without further
requisite, be deemed an epic poem.

[46] Poet. ch. 25. sect. 6.

[47] Lib. 7. from line 385. to line 460.

[48] The same distinction is applicable to that sort of fable which
is said to be the invention of Æsop. A moral, it is true, is by all
critics considered as essential to such a fable. But nothing is
more common, than to be led blindly by authority. Of the numerous
collections I have seen, the fables that clearly inculcate a moral,
make a very small part. In many fables, indeed, proper pictures of
virtue and vice are exhibited: but the bulk of these collections convey
no instruction, nor afford any amusement beyond what a child receives
in reading an ordinary story.

[49] See chap. 2. part 1. sect. 3.

[50] In Racine, tender sentiments prevail; in Corneille, grand and
heroic manners. Hence clearly the preference of the former before the
latter, as dramatic poets. Corneille would figure better in an heroic

[51] Part 4.

[52] If one can be amused with a grave discourse which promiseth much
and performs nothing, he may see this subject treated by Brumoy in his
_Theatre Grec._ Preliminary discourse on the origin of tragedy.

[53] See essays on the principles of morality, edit. 2. p. 291.

[54] Chap. 2. part 1. sect. 6.

[55] I would not from this observation be thought to undervalue modern
manners. The roughness, plainness, and impetuosity of ancient manners,
may show better in an epic poem, without being better fitted for
society. But without regard to this circumstance, it is the familiarity
of modern manners that unqualifies them for a lofty subject. The
dignity of our present manners, will be better understood in future
ages when they have become ancient.

[56] Third part of his art of poetry.

[57] Chap. 20. sect. 1.

[58] Ibid.

[59] See chap. 2. part 1. sect. 6.

[60] Canto 9.

[61] Racine, in his preface to the tragedy of _Berenice_, is sensible,
that simplicity is a great beauty in tragedy, but mistakes the cause.
“Nothing (says he) but verisimilitude pleases in tragedy: but where is
the verisimilitude, that within the compass of a day, events should be
crowded which commonly are extended through months?” This is mistaking
the accuracy of imitation for the probability or improbability of
future events. I explain myself. The verisimilitude required in
tragedy, is that the actions correspond to the manners, and the manners
to nature. When this resemblance is preserved, the imitation is just,
because it is a true copy of nature. But I deny that the verisimilitude
of future events, meaning the probability of future events, is any
rule in tragedy. A number of extraordinary events, are, it is true,
seldom crowded within the compass of a day: but what seldom happens may
happen; and when such events fall out, they appear not less natural
than the most ordinary accidents. To make verisimilitude in the sense
of probability a governing rule in tragedy, would annihilate this sort
of writing altogether; for it would exclude all extraordinary events,
in which the life of tragedy conflicts. It is very improbable or
unlikely, pitching upon any man at random, that he will sacrifice his
life and fortune for his mistress or for his country: yet when this
event happens, supposing it agreeable to the character, we recognize
the verisimilitude as to nature, whatever want of verisimilitude or of
probability there was _a priori_ that such would be the event.

[62] Spectator, No. 44.

[63] Poet. cap 6. See also cap. 7.

[64] Chap. 8.

[65] See chap. 1.

[66] See chap. 21.

[67] I am sensible that a commencement of this sort is much relished
by certain readers disposed to wonder. Their curiosity is raised, and
they are much tickled in its gratification. But curiosity is at an end
with the first reading, because the personages are no longer unknown;
and therefore at the second reading a commencement so artificial, loses
all its power even over the vulgar. A writer of genius loves to deal in
lasting beauties.

[68] Bossu, after observing, with wonderful critical sagacity, that
winter is an improper season for an epic poem, and night not less
improper for tragedy; admits however, that an epic poem may be spread
through the whole summer months, and a tragedy through the whole
sun-shine hours of the longest summer-day. _Du poeme epique, l. 3.
chap. 12._ At this rate an English tragedy may be longer than a French
tragedy; and in Nova Zembla the time of a tragedy and of an epic poem
may be the same.

[69] Chap. 2. part 1. sect. 6.

[70] Act 1. sc. 6.

[71] Act 2. sc. 2.

[72] Act 2. sc. 1.

[73] Act 2.

[74] Act 4. at the close.

[75] Act 5. sc. 4.

[76] See chap 15.

[77] See chap. 8.

[78] See appendix to part 5. chap. 2.

[79] A square field appears not such to the eye when viewed from any
part of it; and the centre is the only place where a circular field
preserves in appearance its real figure.

[80] Chap. 8.

[81] Chap. 2. part 4.

[82] See the place immediately above cited.

[83] The influence of this connection surpassing all bounds, is
visible in many gardens, left in their original form of horizontal
plains forc’d with great labour and expence, perpendicular faces of
earth supported with massy stone walls, terrace-walks in stages one
above another, regular ponds and canals without the least motion,
and the whole surrounded, like a prison, with high walls excluding
every external object. At first view it may puzzle one to account
for a taste running cross to nature in every particular. But nothing
happens without a cause. Perfect regularity and uniformity are
required in a house; and this idea is extended to its accessory the
garden, especially if it be a small spot incapable of grandeur or much
variety. The house is regular, so must the garden be: the floors of
the house are horizontal, and the garden must have the same position:
in the house we are protected from every intruding eye, so must we
be in the garden. This, it must be confessed, is carrying the notion
of resemblance very far. But where reason and taste are laid asleep,
nothing is more common than to carry resemblance beyond proper bounds.

[84] See chap. 4.

[85] See these terms defined, chap. 3.

[86] Taste has suggested to Kent the same artifice. The placing a
decay’d tree properly, contributes to contrast; and also produces a
sort of pity, grounded on an imaginary personification.

[87] “Houses are built to live in, and not to look on. Therefore let
use be preferred before uniformity, except where both may be had.”

              _Lo. Verulam, essay 45._

[88] p. 94.

[89] Chap. 2. part 4.

[90] Chap. 10.

[91] Chap. 8.

[92] See chap. 20. sect. 5.

[93] See chap. 8.

[94] See Essays on morality and natural religion, part 1. essay 2. ch.

[95] See chap. II.

[96] Yet a singular opinion that impressions are the only objects of
perception, has been espoused by some philosophers of no mean rank;
not attending to the foregoing peculiarity in the senses of seeing and
hearing, that we perceive objects without being conscious of an organic
impression or of any impression. See the treatise upon human nature,
where we find the following passage, book 1. p. 4. sect. 2. “Properly
speaking it is not our body we perceive when we regard our limbs and
members; so that the ascribing a real and corporeal existence to these
impressions or to their objects, is an act of the mind as difficult to
explain,” &_c._

[97] From this definition of an idea, the following proposition must
be evident, That there can be no such thing as an innate idea. If the
original perception of an object be not innate, which is obvious, it is
not less obvious, that the idea or secondary perception of that object
cannot be innate. And yet to prove this self-evident proposition, Locke
has bestowed a whole book of his treatise upon human understanding.
So necessary it is to give accurate definitions, and so preventive of
dispute are definitions when accurate. Dr Berkeley has taken great
pains to prove another proposition equally evident, That there can be
no such thing as a general idea. All our original perceptions are of
particular objects, and our secondary perceptions or ideas must be
equally so.

[98] Bacon, in his natural history, makes the following observations.
Sounds are meliorated by the intension of the sense, where the common
sense is collected most to the particular sense of hearing, and the
sight suspended. Therefore sounds are sweeter, as well as greater, in
the night than in the day: and I suppose they are sweeter to blind men
than to others: and it is manifest that between sleeping and waking,
when all the senses are bound and suspended, music is far sweeter than
when one is fully waking.

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ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.