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not according to real nature, but according to nature improved to that degree, which is consistent with probability, and suitable to the poet's purpose *. And hence it is that we call Poetry, AN INITATION OF Nature. For that which is properly termed Imitation has always in it something which is not in the original. If the prototype and transcript be exactly alike; if there be nothing in the one which is not in the other; we may call the latter a representation, a copy, a draught, or a picture, of the former ; but we never call it an imitation.

Cum mundus fenfibilis fit anima rationali dignitaté inferior, videtur Poesis hæc humanæ naturæ largiri quæ historia denegat ; atque animo umbris rerum utcunque satisfacere, cum solida haberi non poffint. Si quis enimi rem acutius introspiciat, firmum ex Poefi fumitur argumentum, magnitudinem rerum magis illuftrem, ordinem magis perfectum, et varietatem magis pulchram, animæ humanæ complacere, quam in natura ipsa, poft lapfum, reperiri ullo modo poflit. Quapropter, cum res geftæ, et eventus, qui veræ hiftoriæ fubjiciuntur, non fint ejus amplitudinis, in qua anima humana fibi fatisfaciat, præsto est Poefis, quæ facta magis heroica confingat. Cum historia vera successus reruin, minime pro meritis virtutum et fcelerum narret; corrigit eam Poefis, et exitus, et fortunas, secundum merita, et ex lege Nemeseos, exhibet. Cum historia vera, obvia rerum fatietate et similitudine, animæ humanæ fastidio fit ; reficit eam Poesis, inexpectata, et varia, et viciflitudinum plena canens. Adeo ur Poesis ifta non solum ad delectationem, fed etiam ad animi magnitudinem, et ad mores conferat. Quare et merito etiam divinitatis particeps videri poffit; quia animum erigit, et in sublime rapit; rerum fimulacra ad animi defideria accommodando, non animum rebus (quod ratio facit et historia) submittendo. Bacon. De Aug. Scient. pag. 168. Lug. Bat. 1645.


CH A P. V.

Of Poetical

Further Illustrations.


IT .

This may

T was formerly remarked, that the events

of Poetry must be “ more compact, more clearly connected with causes and consequences, and unfolded in an order more flattering to the imagination, and more

interesting to the passions, than the events of history commonly are. seem to demand fome illustration.

I. Some parts of history interest us much; but others fo little, that, if it were not for their use in the connection of events, we should be inclined to overlook them altogether. But all the parts of a poem must be interesting: -Great, to raise admiration or terror; unexpected, to give surprise; pathetic, to draw forth our tender affections; important, from their tendency to the elucidation of the fable, or to the display of human character; amusing, from the agreeable pictures of nature they present us with; or of peculiar efficacy in promoting our moral improvement. And therefore, in forming an Epic or Dramatic Fable, from history or tra

dition, dition, the poet must omit every event that cannot be improved to one or other of these purposes.

II. Some events are recorded in history, merely because they are true; though their consequences be of no moment, and their causes unknown. But of all poetical events, the causes ought to be manifest, for the sake of probability; and the effects considerable, to give them importance.

Ill. A history may be as long as you please; for, while it is instructive and true, it is still a good history. But a poem must not be too long :—first, because to write good poetry is exceedingly difficult, fo that a very long poem would be too extensive a work for human life, and too laborious for human ability ; — secondly, because, if fuitably affected with the poet's art, you must have a distinct remembrance of the whole fable, which could not be, if the fable were very long *;-and, thirdly, because poetry is addressed to the imagination and passions, which cannot long be kept in violent exercise, without working the mind into a disagreeable state, and even impairing the health of the body. - That, by these three peculiarities of the poetical art, its powers of pleasing are heightened, and consequently its end promoted, is too obvious to require proof.

you would be

Ariftot. Poet. 9 7.


IV. .

poet must

IV. The strength of a passion depends in part on the vivacity of the impression made by its object. Distress which we see, we are more affected with than what we only hear of; and, of several defcriptions of an affecting object, we are most moved by that which is most lively. Every thing in poetry, being intended to operate on the passions, must be displayed in lively colours, and set as it were before the eyes: and therefore the attend to many minute, though picturesque circumstances, that may, or perhaps must, be overlooked by the historian. Achilles putting on his armour, is described by Homer with a degree of minuteness, which, if it were the poet's business simply to relate facts, might appear tedious or impertinent; but which in reality answers a good purpose, that of giving us a distinct image of this dreadful warrior: it being the end of poetical description, not only to relate facts, but to paint them *; not merely to inform


* Homer's poetry is always picturesque. Algarotti, after Lucian, calls him the prince of painters. He fers before us the whole visible appearance of the object he describes, so that the painter would have nothing to do but to work after his model. He has more epithets expreflive of colour than any other poet I am acquainted with : black earth, wine-coloured ocean, and even white milk, &c. This to the imagination of those readers who study the various colourings of nature is highly a mufing, however offensive it may be to the delicacy of certain critics ; — whose rules for the use of epithets if VOL. II.



the judgement, and enrich the memory, but to awaken the passions, and captivate the i


we were to adopt, we should take 'the palm of poetry from Homer, Virgil, and Milton, and bestow it on thofe fimple rhimers, who, because they have no other ierit, must be admired for barrenness of fancy, and poverty of language. — An improper use of epithets is indeed a grievous fault. And epithets become improper : - 1. when they add nothing to the sense; or to the picture; - and still more, when, 2. they seem rather to take something from it ;- 3. when by their colloquial mcanness they debase the subject. These three faults are all exemplified in the following lines :

The chariot of the King of kings,
Which active troops of angels drew,
On a ftrong tempeft's rapid wings,
With most amazing swiftness flew.

Tate and Brady.

4. Epithets are improper, when, instead of adding to the sense, they only exaggerate the found.

Homer's πολυφλοισβοιο θαλασσης contains both an imitative found, , and a lively picture : but Thomson gives us nothing but noise, when he says, describing a thunder storm,

Follows the loosen'd aggravated roar,
Enlarging, deepening, mingling, peal on peal,
Crulhi'd horrible, convulfing heaven and earth.

Summer. The following line of Pope is perhaps liable to the same objection :

Then rustling, crackling, crashing, thunder down.

Iliad 23.

5. Epithets are faulty, when they overcharge a verse fo as to hurt its harmony, and incumber its motion. – 6. When they darken the sense, by crowding too many


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