Page images
PDF
EPUB

mountain shaded with oaks, are not only more this paper throw together some reflections on that beautiful but more beneficial, than when they lie particular art, which has a more immediate t ́sbare and unadorned. Fields of corn make a plea-dency, than any other, to produce those primary sant prospect, and if the walks were a little taken pleasures of the imagination, which have hitherto care of that lie between them, if the natural em- been the subject of this discourse. The art I mean broidery of the meadows were helped and im- is that of architecture, which I shall consider only proved by some small additions of art, and the with regard to the light in which the foregoing several rows of hedges set off by trees and flowers speculations have placed it, without entering irta that the soil was capable of receiving, a man those rules and maxims which the great masters of might make a pretty landscape of his own pos- architecture have laid down and explained at large sessions. in numberless treatises upon that subject.

Writers who have given us an account of China, tell us the inhabitants of that country laugh at the plantations of our Europeans, which are laid out by the rule and line; because they say, any one may place trecs in equal rows and uniform figures. They choose rather to show a genius in works of this nature, and therefore always conceal the art by which they direct themselves. They have a word, it seems, in their language, by which they express the particular beauty of a plantation that thus strikes the imagination at first sight, without discovering what it is that has so agreeable an ellect. Our British gardeners, on the contrary, instead of humouring nature, love to deviate from it as much as possible. Our trees rise in cones, globes, and pyramids. We see the marks of the scissars upon every plant and bush. I do not know whether I am singular in my opinion, but, for my own part, I would rather look upon a tree in all its luxuriancy and diffusion of boughs and branches, than when it is thus cut and trimmed into a mathematical figure; and cannot but fancy that an orchard in flower looks infinitely more delightful, than all the little labyrinths of the most finished parterre. But as our great modellers of gardens have their magazines of plants to dispose of, it is very natural for them to tear up all the beautiful plantations of fruit-trees, and contrive a plan that may most turn to their own profit, in taking off their evergreens, and the like moveable plants, with which their shops are plentifully stocked. ADDISON,

N° 415. THURSDAY, JUNE 26, 1712.

PAPER V.

ON THE PLEASURES OF THE IMAGINATION.

CONTENTS.

0.

Of architecture, as it affects the imagination. Greatness in architecture relates either to the bulk or to the manner. Greatness of bulk in the ancient oriental buildings. The ancient accounts of these buildings confirmed, 1. From the advantages for raising such works, in the first ages of the world, and in the eastern climates; 2 From several of them which are still extant. Instances how greatness of manner affects the imagination. A French author's observations on this subject. Why concave and convex figures give a greatness of manner to works of architecture. Every thing that pleases the imagination in architecture, is either great, beautiful, or new.

Adde tot egregias urbes, operumque laborem.
VIRG. Georg. ii. ver. 155.

Next add our cities of illustrious name,
Their costly labour, and stupendous frame.
DRYDEN.

HAVING already shown how the fancy is affected by the works of nature, and afterwards considered in general both the works of nature and of art, how they mutually assist and complete each other in forming such scenes and prospects as are most apt to delight the mind of the beholder, I shall in

Greatness, in the works of architecture, may be considered as relating to the bulk and body of the structure, or to the manner in which it is built. As for the first, we find the ancients, especially among the eastern nations of the world, infinitely superior to the moderns.

Not to mention the tower of Babel, of which an old author says, there were the foundations to be seen in his time, which looked like a spacion mountain; what could be more noble than the walls of Babylon, its hanging gardens, and its temple to Jupiter Belus, that rose a mile high by eigti several stories, each story a furlong in height, ard on the top of which was the Babylonian observatory? I might here, likewise, take notice of tæ huge rock that was cut into the figure of Semirans, with the smaller rocks that lay by it in the suape of tributary kings; the prodigious bason, or an ficial lake, which took in the whole Eephrates, tili such time as a new canal was formed for its recep tion, with the several trenches through which that river was conveyed. I know there are persoci who look upon some of these wonders of art as fabulous; but I cannot find any ground for suca a suspicion; unless it be that we have no such worka among us at present. There were indeed many greater advantages for building in those times, and in that part of the world, than have been met wid ever since. The earth was extremely fruitful; tarn lived generally on pasturage, which requires a much smaller number of hands than agriculture. There were few trades to employ the busy part of mankind, and fewer arts and sciences to give work to men of speculative tempers: and, what is more than all the rest, the prince was absolute; so that, when he went to war, he put himself at the head of a whole people; as we find Semiramis leading her three millions to the field, and yet overpowered by the number of her enemies. It is no wonder, therefore, when she was at peace, and turned her thoughts on building, that she could accomplish se great works, with such a prodigious nultitude of labourers: besides that in her climate there was small interruption of frosts and winters, winch I might mention too, among the benefits of the make the northern workmen lie half the year idle. climate, what historians say of the earth, that it sweated out a bitumen or natural kind of mortar, which is doubtless the same with that mentioned is holy writ, as contributing to the structure of Babel: Slime they used instead of mortar.'

In Egypt we still see their pyramids, which an swer to the descriptions that have been made of them; and I question not but a traveller might led out some remains of the labyrinth that covered a whole province, and had a hundred temples dusposed among its several quarters and division,

The wall of China is one of these eastern pieces of magnificence, which makes a figure even in the map of the world, although an account of it wond have been thought fabulous, were not the wall tself still extant.

We are obliged to devotion for the noblest be

ings that have adorned the several countries of the | magnificence. The reason I take to be, because world. It is this which has set men at work on in these figures we generally see more of the body, temples and public places of worship, not only than in those of other kinds. There are, indeed, that they might, by the magnificence of the build- figures of bodies, where the eye may take in twoing, invite the Deity to reside within it, but that thirds of the surface; but as in such bodies the such stupendous works might, at the same time, sight must split upon several angles, it does not open the mind to vast conceptions, and fit it to con- take in one uniform idea, but several ideas of the verse with the divinity of the place. For every same kind. Look upon the outside of a dome, thing that is majestic imprints an awfulness and your eye half surrounds it; look upon the inside, reverence on the mind of the beholder, and strikes and at one glance you have all the prospect of it; in with the natural greatness of the soul. the entire concavity falls into your eye at once, the In the second place we are to consider great-sight being as the centre that collects and gathers ness of manner in architecture, which has such into it the lines of the whole circumference: in a force upon the imagination, that a small building, square pillar, the sight often takes in but a fourth where it appears, shall give the mind nobler ideas part of the surface; and in a square concave, must than one of twenty times the bulk, where the man- move up and down to the different sides, before it ner is ordinary or little. Thus, perhaps, a man is master of all the inward surface. For this reawould have been more astonished with the majestic son, the fancy is infinitely more struck with the air that appeared in one of Lysippus's statues of view of the open air, and skies, that passes through Alexander, though no bigger than the life, than he an arch, than what comes through a square, or any might have been with mount Athos, had it been | other figure. The figure of the rainbow does not cut into the figure of the hero, according to the contribute less to its magnificence, than the coproposal of Paidias, with a river in one hand, and lours to its beauty, as it is very poetically described a city in the other. by the son of Sirach: Look upon the rainbow, and praise him that made it; very beautiful it is in its brightness; it encompasses the heavens with a glorious circle, and the hands of the Most High have bended it.'

[ocr errors]

Having thus spoken of that greatness which affects the mind in architecture, I might next show the pleasure that rises in the imagination from what appears new and beautiful in this art; but as every beholder has naturally a greater taste of these two perfections in every building which offers itself to his view, than of that which I have hitherto considered, I shall not trouble my reader with any reflections upon it. It is sufficient for my present purpose to observe, that there is nothing in this whole art which pleases the imagination, but as it is great, uncommon, or beautiful.

ADDISON.

N° 416. FRIDAY, JUNE 27, 1712.

0.

Let any one reflect on the disposition of mind he finds in himself, at his first entrance into the Pantheon at Rome, and how the imagination is filled with something great and amazing; and, at the same time, consider how little, in proportion, he is affected with the inside of a gothic cathedral, though it be five times larger than the other; which can arise from nothing else but the greatness of the manner in the one, and the meanness in the other. I have seen an observation upon this subject in a French author, which very much pleased me. It is in Monsieur Freart's Parallel of the Ancient and Modern Architecture. I shall give it the reader with the same terms of art which he has made use of. I am observing,' says he, a thing which, in my opinion, is very curious; whence it proceeds, that in the same quantity of superficies, the one manner seems great and magnificent, and the other poor and trifling; the reason is fine and uncommon. I say then, that to introduce into architecture this grandeur of manner, we ought so to proceed, that the division of the principal members of the order may consist but of few parts, that they be all great, and of a bold and ample relievo and swelling; and that the eye beholding nothing little and mean, the imagination may be more vigorously touched and affected with the work that stands before it. For example; in a cornice, if the gola or cymatium of the corona, the coping, the modillions or dentelli, make a noble show by their graceful projections, if we see none of that ordinary confusion which is the result of those little cavities, quarter rounds of the astragal, and I know not how many other intermingled particulars, which produce no effect in great and massy works, and which very unprofitably take up place to the prejudice of the principal member, it is most certain that this manher will appear solemn and great; as, on the contrary, that it will have but a poor and mean effect, where there is a redundancy of those smaller ornaments, which divide and scatter the angles of the sight into such a multitude of rays, so pressed toge-eyes, and are afterwards called up into the mind ther that the whole will appear but a confusion.'

Among all the figures of architecture, there are none that have a greater air than the concave and the convex; and we find in all the ancient and modern architecture, as well in the remote parts of China, as in countries nearer home, that round pillars and vaulted roofs make a great part of those buildings which are designed for pomp and

PAPER VI.

ON THE PLEASURES OF THE IMAGINATION.
CONTENTS.

The secondary pleasures of the imagination. The several
sources of these pleasures (statuary, painting, description,
and music) compared together. The final cause of our
receiving pleasure from these several sources. Of descrip-
tions in particular. The power of words over the imagina-
tion. Way one reader more pleased with descriptions than
another.

Quatenus hoc simile est oculis, quod mente videmus.
LUUR. I. iv. ver. 75},

-Objects still appear the same
To mind and eye, in colour and in frame.
CREECH.

I AT first divided the pleasures of the imagination
into such as arise from objects that are actually
before our eyes, or that once entered in at our

either barely by its own operations, or on occa-ion of something without us, as statues, or descriptions. We have already considered the first division, and shall therefore enter on the other, which, for distinction sake, I have called 'The Secondary Plea sures of the Imagination.' When I say the ideas we receive from statues, descriptions, or such like ccasions, are the same that were once actually in

our view, it must not be understood that we had once seen the very place, action, or person, which are carved or described. It is sufficient that we have seen places, persons, or actions in general, which bear a resemblance, or at least some remote analogy, with what we find represented; since it is in the power of the imagination, when it is once stocked with particular ideas, to enlarge, compound, and vary them at her own pleasure.

pleasure to this operation of the mind, was to quicken and encourage us in our searches after truth, since the distinguishing one thing from another, and the right discerning betwixt our ideas, depends wholly upon our comparing them toge ther, and observing the congruity or disagreement that appears among the several works of nature.

But I shall here confine myself to those pleasures of the imagination, which proceed from ideas raised by words, because most of the observations that agree with descriptions, are equally applicable to painting and statuary.

Words, when well chosen, have so great a force in them, that a description often gives us more lively ideas than the sight of things themselves The reader finds a scene drawn in stronger colours, and painted more to the life in his imagination, by the help of words than by an actual survey of the scene which they describe. In this case the poet seems to get the better of nature: he takes, indeed, the landscape after her, but gives it more vigorous touches, heightens its beauty, and so FDlivens the whole piece, that the images which flow from the objects themselves appear weak and faint, in comparison of those that come from the expres sions. The reason, probably, may be, because, in the survey of any object, we have only so much of it painted on the imagination as comes in at the eye; but in its description, the poet gives is as free a view of it as he pleases, and discovers to ca several parts, that either we did not attend to, er that lay out of our sight when we first bebeld it As we look on any object, our idea of it is, per

Among the different kinds of representation, statuary is the most natural, and shows us something likest the object that is represented. To make use of a common instance, let one who is born blind, take an image in his hands, and trace out with his fingers the different furrows and impressions of the chisel, and he will easily conceive how the shape of a man, or beast, may be represented by it; but should he draw his hand over a picture, where all is smooth and uniform, he would never be able to imagine how the several prominences and depressions of a human body could be shown on a plain piece of canvas, that has in it no unevenness or irregularity. Description runs yet further from the thing it represents than painting: for a picture bears a real resemblance to its original, which letters and syllables are wholly void of. Colours speak all languages, but words are understood only by such a people or nation. For this reason, though men's necessities quickly put them on finding out speech, writing is probably of a later invention than painting; particularly we are told that in America, when the Spaniards first arrived there, expresses were sent to the emperor of Mexico in paint, and the news of his country deli-haps, made up of two or three simple ideas; but neated by the strokes of a pencil, which was a more natural way than that of writing, though at the same time much more imperfect, because it is impossible to draw the little connections of speech, or to give the picture of a conjunction or an adverb. It would be yet more strange to represent visible objects by sounds that have no ideas annexed to them, and to make something like description in music. Yet it is certain, there may be confused imperfect notions of this nature raised in the imagination by an artificial composition of notes; and we find that great masters in the art are able, sometimes, to set their hearers in the heat and hurry of a battle, to overcast their minds with melancholy scenes and apprehensions of deaths and funerals, or to lull them into pleasing dreams of groves and elysiums.

In all these instances, this secondary pleasure of the imagination proceeds from that action of the mind, which compares the ideas arising from the original objects with the ideas we receive from the statue, picture, description, or sound, that represents them. It is impossible for us to give the necessary reason why this operation of the mind is attended with so much pleasure, as I have before observed on the same occasion; but we find a great variety of entertainments derived from this single principle: for it is this that not only gives us a relish of statuary, painting, and description, but makes us delight in all the actions and arts of mimicry. It is this that makes the several kinds of wit pleasant, which consists, as I have formerly shown, in the affinity of ideas; and we may add, it is this also that raises the little satisfaction we sometimes find in the different sorts of false wit; whether it consists in the affinity of letters, as an anagram, acrostic; or of syllables, as in doggrel rhimes, echoes; or of words, as in puns, quibbles; or of a whole sentence or poem, as wings and altars. The final cause, probably, of annexing

when the poet represents it, he may either give m a more complex idea of it, or only raise in us such ideas as are most apt to affect the imagination.

It may be here worth our while to examine how it comes to pass that several readers, who are all acquainted with the same language, and know the meaning of the words they read, should nevertheless have a different relish of the same descriptions. We find one transported with a passage, which another runs over with coldness and indifference; or finding the representation extremely natural, where another can perceive nothing of likeness and conformity. This different taste must proceed either from the perfection of imagination in one more than in another, or from the different ideas that several readers affix to the same words. For, to have a true relish, and form a right judgment of a description, a man should be born with a rood imagination, and must have well weighed the force and energy that lie in the several words of a language, so as to be able to distinguish which are most significant and expressive of their proper ideas, and what additional strength and beasty they are capable of receiving from conjunction with others. The fancy must be warm, to reta-# the print of those images it hath received from oetward objects; and the judgment discerning, to know what expressions are inost proper to cie.be and adorn them to the best advantage. A mus who is deficient in either of these respects, theets he may receive the general notion of a descript va can never see distinctly all its particular beasties, as a person with a weak sight may have ti cos fused prospect of a place that lies before his, without entering into its several parts, or disc.raing the variety of its colours in their full glory at perfection.

[merged small][ocr errors]

and consequently of exciting any unpleasant ideas in the memory.

N° 417. SATURDAY, JUNE 28, 1712.

PAPER VII.

ON THE PLEASURES OF THE IMAGINATION.

CONTENTS.

How a whole set of ideas hang together, &c. A natural cause assigned for it. How to perfect the imagination of a writer. Who among the ancient poets had this faculty in its greatest perfection. Homer excelled in imagining what is great; Virgil in imagining what is beautiful; Ovid in imagining what is new. Our own countryman Milton very perfect in all three respects.

Quem tu, Melpomene, semel
Nascentem placido lumine videris,

Non illum labor Isthmius

Clarabit pugilem, non equus impiger, &c.
Sed quæ Tibur aquæ fertile perfluunt,
Et spissæ nemorum comœ
Fingent olio carmine nobilem.

HOR. Od. iii. 1. 4. ver. 1.

At whose bless'd birth propitious rays
The Muses shed, on whom they smile,

No dusty Isthmian game

Shall stoutest of the ring proclaim,

Or, to reward his toil,

Wreath ivy crowns, and grace his head with bays, &c.

But fruitful Tibur's shady groves,

Its pleasant springs and purling streams,
Shall raise a lasting name,

And set him high in sounding fame

For Lyric verse.

CREECH.

It would be in vain to inquire, whether the power of imagining things strongly proceeds from any greater perfection in the soul, or from any nicer texture in the brain of one man than of another. But this is certain, that a noble writer should be born with this faculty in its full strength and vigour, so as to be able to receive lively ideas from outward objects, to retain them long, and to range them together, upon occasion, in such figures and representations, as are most likely to hit the fancy of the reader. A poet should take as much pains in forming his imagination, as a philosopher in cultivating his understanding. He must gain a due relish of the works of nature, and be thoroughly conversant in the various scenery of a country life.

When he is stored with country images, if he would go beyond pastoral, and the lower kinds of poetry, he ought to acquaint himself with the pomp and magnificence of courts. He should be very well versed in every thing that is noble and stately in the productions of art, whether it appear in painting or statuary, in the great works of architecture which are in their present glory, or in the ruins of those which flourished in former ages.

Such advantages as these help to open a man's thoughts, and to enlarge his imagination, and will therefore have their influence on all kinds of writing, if the author knows how to make right use of them. And among those of the learned languages who excel in this talent, the most perfect We may observe, that any single circumstance of in their several kinds are perhaps Homer, Virgil, what we have formerly seen, often raises up a and Ovid. The first strikes the imagination wonwhole scene of imagery, and awakens numberless derfully with what is great, the second with what ideas that before slept in the imagination; such a is beautiful, and the last with what is strange. particular smell or colour is able to fill the mind, Reading the Iliad, is like travelling through a on a sudden, with the picture of the fields or gar-country uninhabited, where the fancy is entertained dens where we first met with it, and to bring up with a thousand savage prospects of vast deserts, into view all the variety of images that once at-wide uncultivated marshes, huge forests, misshapen tended it. Our imagination takes the hint, and leads us unexpectedly into cities or theatres, plains or meadows. We may further observe, when the fancy thus reflects on the scenes that have passed in it formerly, those which were at first pleasant to behold, appear more so upon reflection, and that the memory heightens the delightfulness of the original. A Cartesian would account for both these instances in the following manner:

The set of ideas which we received from such a prospect or garden, having entered the mind at the same time, have a set of traces belonging to them in the brain, bordering very near upon one another; when, therefore, any one of these ideas arises in the imagination, and consequently dispatches a flow of animal spirits to its proper trace, these spirits, in the violence of their motion, run not only into the trace to which they were more particularly directed, but into several of those that lie about it. By this means they awaken other ideas of the same set, which immediately determine a new dispatch of spirits, that in the same manner open other neighbouring traces, till at last the whole set of them is blown up, and the whole prospect or garden flourishes in the imagination. But because the pleasure we receive from these places far surmounted, and overcame the little disagreeableness we found in them; for this reason there was at first a wider passage worn in the pleasure traces, and, on the contrary, so narrow a one in those which belonged to the disagreeable ideas, that they were quickly stopped up, and rendered incapable of receiving any animal spirits,

rocks and precipices. On the contrary, the Æneid is like a well-ordered garden, where it is impossible to find out any part unadorned, or to cast our eyes upon a single spot that does not produce some beautiful plant or flower. But when we are in the Metamorphoses, we are walking on enchanted ground, and see nothing but scenes of magic lying round us.

Homer is in his province, when he is describing a battle or a multitude, a hero or a god. Virgil is never better pleased than when he is in his elysium, or copying out an entertaining picture. Homer's epithets generally mark out what is great; Virgil's, what is agreeable. Nothing can be more magnificent than the figure Jupiter makes in the first Iliad, nor more charming than that of Venus in the first Æneid.

Η' και κυανέησιν επ' όφρύσι νεύσε Κρονίων, Αμβρόσιαι δ' άρα χαίται επερρώσαντο ανακίος Κράτος απ' αθανατοιο μεγαν δ' ελελιξεν Ολυμπον.

Iliad. lib. i. ver. 528.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

In a word, Homer fills his readers with sublime ideas, and, I believe, has raised the imagination of all the good poets that have come after him. shall only instance Horace, who immediately takes fire at the first hint of any passage in the Iliad or Odyssey, and always rises above himself when he has Homer in his view. Virgil has drawn together, into his Eneid, all the pleasing scenes his subject is capable of admitting, and in his Georgics has given us a collection of the most delightful landscapes that can be made out of fields and woods, herds of cattle, and swarms of bees.

Ovid, in his Metamorphoses, has shown us how the imagination may be affected by what is strange. He describes a miracle in every story, and always gives us the sight of some new creature at the end of it. His art consists chiefly in well timing his description, before the first shape is quite worn off, and the new one perfectly finished; so that he every where entertains us with something we never saw before, and shows us monster after monster to the end of the Metamorphoses.

If I were to name a poet that is a perfect master in all these arts of working on the imagination, think Milton may pass for one: and if his Paradise Lost falls short of the Eneid or Iliad in this respect, it proceeds rather from the fault of the language in which it is written, than from any defect of genius in the author. So divine a poem in English, is like a stately palace built of brick, where one may see architecture in as great a perfection as in one of marble, though the materials are of a coarser nature. But to consider it only as it regards our pre-ent subject; what can be conceived greater than the battle of angels, the majesty of Messiah, the stature and behaviour of Satan and his peers? What more beautiful than Pandamomium, Paradise, Heaven, Angels, Adam and Eve? What more strange than the creation of the world, the several metamorphoses of the fallen angels, and the surprising adventures their

leader meets with in his search after Paradise?

No other subject could have furnished a poet with scenes so proper to strike the imagination, as no other poet could have painted those scenes in more strong and lively colours.

[blocks in formation]

See the eller annexed to N° 413, and Suits Works, vol. xv. p. 312. 8vo, edit. 1801. “Steele was arrested the other day for making a letters, direct's against an act of parliament. He is now under prssecution; but they think it will be dropped out ej pity. I believe he will very soon lose his emp ment, for he has been mighty impertinent of lates his Spectators; and I will never offer a word in a behalf."

N° 418. MONDAY, JUNE 30, 1712.

PAPER VIII.

ON THE PLEASURES OF THE IMAGINATION,

CONTENTS.

Why any thing that is unpleasant to beh14 please no imagination when well described. Why the 10.gaa receives a more exquisite pleasure from the docopur of what is goat, new, or beautiful. The pleasure sta heightened, if what is described raises passion 10 Ding Disagreeable passions pleasing when raised by ap' des. 20 tions. Why terror and grief are plea ing to the inn ad wit excited by description. A particular advantage the wra in poetry and betion have to please the imagination. Was liberties are allowed thein.

-feret et rubus asper amomum.

VIRG. Eel. ii. ver. 89 The rugged thorn shall bear the fragrant ruse.

THE pleasures of these secondary views of the ins gination are of a wider and more universal nature than those it has when joined with sight; for rot only what is great, strange, or beautiful, but any thing that is disagreeable when looked up. pleases us in an apt description. Here, therefore, we must inquire after a new principle of pleasur", which is nothing else but the action of the m which compares the ideas that arise from word with the ideas that arise from the objects th selves; and why this operation of the mind is a tended with so much pleasure, we have before corsidered. For this reason, therefore, the descriptee of a dunghill is pleasing to the imagination, if th image be represented to our minds by suit.b'e expressions; though, perhaps, this may be more properly called the pleasure of the understar lag than of the fancy, because we are not so muc delighted with the image that is contained in the description, as with the aptness of the descriptio to excite the image.

But if the description of what is little, commor, or deformed, be acceptable to the imagination, th description of what is great, surprising, or bea tiful, is much more so; because here we are not only delighted with comparing the representad with the original, but are highly pleased with the original itself. Most readers, I believe, are more charmed with Milton's description of Paradis, than of hell: they are both, perhaps, equally pe fect in their kind; but in the one the brimstace and sulphur are not so refreshing to the imagi32tion, as the beds of flowers and the wildernes f sweets in the other.

There is yet another circumstance which recor mends a description more than all the rest; and that is, if it represents to us such objects as are apt to raise a secret ferment in the mind of the reader, and to work with violence upon his passion. For in this case, we are at once warmed and eclett ened, so that the pleasure becomes taore universal and is several ways qualified to entertain as In in painting, it is pleasant to look on the picture of

1

« PreviousContinue »