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would have been able to support the reprefentation. - As to the probability of these mixed compositions, it admits of no doubt. Nature every where presents a similar mixture of tragedy and comedy, of joy and forrow, of laughter and folemnity, in the common affairs of life. The servants of a court know little of what passes among princes and statesmen, and may therefore, like the porter in Macbeth, be very jocular when their superiors are in deep distress. The death of a favourite child is a great affliction to parents and friends; but the man who digs the grave may, like Goodman Delver in Hamlet, be very chearful while he is going about his work. A conspiracy may be dangerous; but the constable who apprehends the traitors may, like Dogberry, be a ludicrous character, and his very abfurdities may be instrumental in bringing the plot to light, as well as in delaying or hastening forward the discovery.-- I grant, that compositions, like those I would now apologize for, cannot properly be called either tragedies or comedies : but the name is of no consequence; let them be called Plays : and if in them nature is imitated in such a way as to give pleasure and instruction, they are as well entitled to the denomination of Dramatic Poems, as any thing in Sophocles, Racine, or Voltaire.
But to return : Love is another
tyrant of the throbbing
“ breast,” of whom they who wish to see
OF THE LANGUAGE OF POE
Aving finished what I intended to say
on the general nature of Poetry, as
an Imitative Art, I proceed to consider the INSTRUMENT which it employs in its imitations; or, in other words, to explain the General Nature of Poetic LANGUAGE. For language is the poet's instrument of imitation, as found is the musician's, and colour the painter's. My conclusions on this part of the subject will be found to terminate in the principles already laid down.
Words in Poetry are chosen, first, for their sense ; and, secondly, for their found. That the first of these grounds of choice is the more excellent, nobody can deny. He who in literary matters prefers found to sense, is a fool. Yet sound is to be attended to, even in prose; and in verse demands particular attention. I shall consider Poetical Language, first, as SIGNIFICANT ; and, secondly, as SUSCEPTIBLE OF HARMONY.
Of Poetical Language, considered as
as I have endeavoured to prove, Poetry
be imitative of Nature, poetical fictions of real events, poetical images of real appearances in the visible creation, and poetical personages of real human characters ; it would seem to follow, that the language of Poetry must be an imitation of the language of Nature. For nothing but what is supposed to be natural can please; and language, as well as fable, imagery, and moral description, may displease, by being unnatural, What then is meant by Natural Language ? This comes to be our first inquiry.
been used by philosophers to denote those tones of the human voice, attitudes of the body, and configurations of the features, which, being naturally expressive of certain emotions of the soul, are universal among mankind, and every where understood. Thus anger, fear, pity, adoration, joy, contempt, and almost every other passion, has a look, attitude, and tone of voice, peculiar to itself; which would seem to be the effect, not of men imitating one another, but of the foul operating upon the body; and which, when well expressed in a picture or statue, or when it appears in human behaviour, is understood by all mankind, as the external sign of that passion which it is for the most part observed to accompany. In this acceptation, natural language is contradistinguished to those articulate voices to which the name of Speech has been appropriated; and which are also universal among mankind, though different in different nations; but derive all their meaning from human compact and artifice, and are not understood except by