The Pleasures of the Imagination (Mark Akenside)  

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The Pleasures of the Imagination is a long didactic poem by Mark Akenside, first published in 1744.

The first book defines the powers of imagination and discusses the various kinds of pleasure to be derived from the perception of beauty; the second distinguishes works of imagination from philosophy; the third describes the pleasure to be found in the study of man, the sources of ridicule, the operations of the mind, in producing works of imagination, and the influence of imagination on morals. The ideas were largely borrowed from Joseph Addison's essays on the imagination in the Spectator and from Lord Shaftesbury. Edward Dowden complains that "his tone is too high-pitched; his ideas are too much in the air; they do not nourish themselves in the common heart, the common life of man." Samuel Johnson praised the blank verse of the poems, but found fault with the long and complicated periods.

Akenside got the idea for the poem during a visit to Morpeth in 1738.

Full text



BY MRS. Barbauld*


By W. Flint, Old Bailey.








DIDACTIC, or preceptive Poetry, seems to inw elude a solecism, for the end of Poetry is to please, and of Didactic precept the object is instruction. It is, however,, a species of Poetry which has been cultivated from the earliest stages of society  ; at first, probably, for the simple purpose of retaining, by means of the regularity of measure, and the charms of harmony, the precepts of agricultural wisdom, and the aphorisms of economical experi- ence. When Poetry came to be cultivated for it*


own sake, it was natural to esteem the Didactic, as in that view it certainly is, as a species of inferior merit compared with those which are more peculi- arly the work of the imagination  ; and accordingly . in the more splendid era of our own Poetry it has been much less cultivated than many others. After- wards,, when Poetry was become an art, and the more obvious sources of description and adventure were in some measure exhausted, the Didactic was resorted toy as affording that novelty and variety which began to be the great desideratum in works of fancy. This species of writing is likewise favoured by the diffusion of knowledge, by which many subjects become proper for general reading, which in a less informed state of society would have savoured of pedantry and abstruse speculation. For poetry can- not descend to teach the elements of any art or science, or confine itself to that regular arrange- ment and clear brevity which suits the communica- tion of unknown truths. In fact, the Muse would


make a very indifferent school-mistress. Whoever therefore reads a Didactic Poem ought to come to it with a previous knowledge of his subject 3 and whoever writes one, ought to suppose such a know- ledge in his readers. If he is obliged to explain technical terms, to refer continually to critical notes, and to follow a system step by step with the patient exactness of a teacher, his Poem, however laboured, will be a bad Poem. His office is rather to throw a lustre on such prominent parts of his system as are most susceptible of poetical ornament, and to kindle the enthusiasm of those feelings which the truths he is conversant with are fitted to inspire. In that beautiful Poem, the Essay on Man, the system of the author, if in reality he had any system, is little attended to, but those passages which breathe the love of Virtue are read with delight, and fix themselves on the memory. Where the reader has this previous knowledge of the subject, which

we have mentioned as necessary, the art of th«  B %


Poet becomes itself a source of pleasure, and some- times in proportion to the remoteness of the subject forms the more obvious province of Poetry; we are delighted to find with how much dexterity the artist of verse can avoid a technical term, how neatly he can turn an uncouth word, and with how much grace embellish a scientific idea. Who does not admire the infinite art with which Dr. Darwin has described the machine of Sir Richard Ark- wright  ? His verse is a piece of mechanism a» complete in its kind as that which he describes. Allured perhaps too much by this artificial species of excellence, and by the hopes of novelty, hardly any branch of knowledge has been so abstruse, or so barren of delight as not to have afforded a subject to the Didactic Poet. Even the loath- someness of disease, and the dry maxims of medical knowledge, have been decorated with the charms of poetry. Many of these pieces, however, owe all their entertainment to frequent digressions. Where


these arise naturally out of the subject, as th< description of a sheep-shearing feast in Dyer, or the praises of Italy in the Georgics, they are not only allowable but graceful ; but if forced, as is the story of Orpheus and Eurydice in the same Poem, they can be considered in no other light than that of beautiful monsters, and injure the piece they are meant to adorn. The subject of a Didactic Poem therefore ought to be such as is in itself attractive to the man of taste, for otherwise, all attempts to maka it so by adventitious ornaments, will be but like loading with jewels and drapery a figure originally defective and ill made.

Of all ike subjects which have engaged the atten* tion of Didactic Poets, there is not perhaps a hap* pier than that made choice of by, The Pleasures of Imagination, in which every step of the disquisition calls up objects of the most attractive kind, and Fancy is made as it were to hold a mirror to her own charms. Imagination is tho very souics

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and well-head of Poetry, and nothing forced or foreign to the Muse could easily flow from such a subject. Accordingly we see that the author has kept close to his system, and has admitted neither episode nor digression  : the allegory in the second book, which is introduced for the purpose of illustrating his theory, being all that can properly be called ornament in this whole Poem. It must be acknowledged, however, that engaging as his subject is to minds prepared to examine it, to the generality of readers it must appear dry and ab- struse. It is a work which offers us entertainment, •but not of that easy kind amidst which the mind remains passive, and has nothing to do but to receive impressions. Those who have studied the metaphysics of mind, and who are accustomed to investigate abstract ideas, will read it with a lively pleasure; but those who seek mere amusement in a Poem, will find many far inferior ones better suited to their purpose. The judicious admirer of


Akenside will not call people from the fields and the highways to partake of his feast ; he will wish none to read that are not capable of understanding him.

The ground-work of The Pleasures of Imagination is to be found in Addison's Essays on the same subject, published in the Spectator. Except in the book which treats on Ridicule, and even of that the hint is there given, our author follows nearly the same track; and he is indebted to them not only for the leading thoughts and grand division of his subject, but for much of the colouring also : for the papers of Addison are wrought up with so much elegance of language, and adorned with so many beautiful illustrations, that they are equal to the most finished Poem. Perhaps the obligations of the Poet to the Essay-writer are not sufficiently adverted to, the latter being only slightly mentioned in the preface to ike Poem. It is not meant, however, to insinuate that Akenside had not various other


sources of his ideas. He sat down to this work, which was published at the early age of three and twenty, warm from the schools of ancient philosophy, whose spirit he had deeply imbibed, and full of enthusiasm for the treasures of Greek and Roman literature. The w orks of no author have a more classic air than those of our Poet. His hymn to the Naiads shows th£ most intimate acquaintance with their mythology. Their laws, their arts, their liberty, were equally objects of his warm admiration, and are frequently referred to in various parts of his Poems. He was fond of the Platonic philosophy, and mingled with the splendid visions of the Academic school, ideas of the fair and beautiful, in morals and in taste, gathered from the writings of Shaftes- bury, Hutchinson, and others of that stamp, who then very much engaged the notice of the public. Educated in the university of Edinburgh, he joined to his classic literature the keen discriminating spirit of metaphy sic inquiry j an:l the taste for moral


beauty which has so much distinguished our Northern seminaries, and which the celebrity of their pro* fessors, and the genius of the place, has never failed of communicating to their disciples. Thus prepared, by nature with genius, and by education with the previous studies and habits of thinking, he was peculiarly fitted for writing a philosophical Poem*

The first lines contain the definition of the subject, winch he has judiciously varied from his master, Addison,, who expressly confines the pleasures of imagination to u such as arise from visible objects only ;" and divides them into u the primary plea™ sures of the imagination, which entirely proceed from such objects as are before our eyes, and those secondary pleasures of the imagination which How from the ideas of visible objects, when the objects are not actually before the eye, but are called up into our memories, or formed into agreeable visions ,jpf thirgs that are eidier absent or iictitioas*" This


^definition seems to exclude a blind man from any share whatever of those pleasures  : and yet -who Tvould deny that the elegant mind of Blacklock was capable of receiving, and even of imparting them. in no small degree? Our author, therefore, includes every source, by which, through any of our senses or perceptions, we receive notices of the world around us ; as well as the reflex pleasures derived from the imitative arts.

With what attractive charms this goodly frame Of nature touches the consenting hearts Of mortal men, and what the pleasing stores Which beauteous Imitation thence derives To deck the Poet's or the Painter's toil, My verse unfolds. After this clear and concise definition, and alively and appropriate invocation to the powers of Fancy, guided by Truth and Liberty, the author begins by unfolding the Platonic idea that the universe, with all its forms of material beauty, was called into


"being from its prototype, existing from all eternity in the Divine Mind. The different propensities that human beings are born with to various pursuits, are enumerated in some very beautiful lines, and those are declared to be the most noble which lead a chosen few to the love and contemplation of the Supreme Beauty, by the love and contemplation of his works. The Poet thus immediately, and at the very outset, dignifies his theme, by connecting it with the sub- limest feelings the human mind is capable of enter- staining, feelings without which the various scenes of this beautiful universe degenerate into gaudy shows, fit to catch the eye of children, but uninteresting to the heart and affections ; and those laws and pro- perties about which Philosophy busies herself, into a bewildering mass of unconnected experiments and independent facts. The lines afford more than one example of climax, graceful repetition, and richness of poetic language. The subject is then branched out into the three grand divisions marked by Add is ok,


the Sublime, the Wonderful, and the Beautiful. Each is exemplified with equal judgment and taste, but the sublime is perhaps expressed with most energy, as it certainly was most congenial to the. miud of our author. The passage, of which the thought is borrowed from Longijnus, Say uhy zzas man so eminently raised, is almost unequalled in, grandeur of thought and loftiness of expression, yet it has not the appearance, as some other parts of the Poem have, of being laboured into excellence, but rather of being throwrn oiF at once amidst the swell and fervency of a kindled imagination. The iinal cause of each of these propensities is happily insi- nuated ; of the sense of the sublime, to lead us to the contemplation of the Supreme Being  ; of that of novelty to awaken us to constant activity  ; of beauty to mark out to us the objects most perfect in their kind. Thus does he make Philosophy and Poetry to go hand in hand. The exemplification of the love «f novel 'y in the audience of the village matron, who


tells of witching rhymes and evil spirits^ is highly wrought. The author, however, had doubtless in his mind not only the Essays of Addison^ which were immediately under his eye, but that - passage in another paper where he represents the circle at his landlady's closing their ranks, and crowding round the fire at the conclusion of every Story of ghosts  : Around the beldam all ar red they* hang  ; Congealed with shivering sighs^ very happily expresses the effects of that kind of terror, which makes a man shrink into himself, and feel afraid3 as it were, to draw a full inspiration. It may b$ doubted, however, whether the attraction which is felt towards these kind of sensations when they risa to terror, can be fairly referred to the love of novelty. It seems rather to depend on that charm, afterwards touched upon, which is attached to every thing that strongly stirs and agitates the mind. la his description of Beauty, which is adorned with all the graces of the chaster Venus; the author take*

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occasion to aim a palpable stroke at the Night Thoughts of Dr. W uno, which are here cha- racterized by u the ghostly gloom of graves and hoary vaults and cloistered cells, by walking with spectres through the midnight shade, and attuning the dreadful workings of his heart to the accursed song of the screaming owl." The same allusion is repeated in one of his Odes  :

66 Nor where the boding raven chaunts, Nor near the owl's uuhallow'd haunts

Will she (the Muse) her cares employ;. She flies from ruins, and from tombs, From Superstition's horrid glooms, To day-light and to joy." This antipathy is not surprising; for never were two Poets more contrasted. Our author had more of taste and judgment, Young more of originality. Akenside maintains throughout an uniform dignity, Young has been characteristically described in a late Poem as one in whom


Still gleams and still expires the cloudy day

Of genuine Poetry. The genius of the one was clouded over with the deepest glooms of Calvinism, to which system, how- ever, he owed some of his most striking beauties. The religion of the other, all at least that appears of it, and all indeed that could with propriety ap- pear in such a Poem5 is the purest Theism ; liberal, cheerful, and sublime; or, if admitting any mixture, he seems inclined to tincture it with the mysticism of Plato, and the gay fables of ancient mythology. The one declaims against infidels, the other against monks; the one resembles the Gothic, the other the Grecian architecture ; the one has been read with deep interest by many who, when they have aban- doned the tenets of orthodoxy, can scarcely bear to re-peruse him ; the other, dealing more in general truths, will always be read with pleasure, though he will never make so deep an impression.

The Poem goes on to trace the connection of beauty with truth, by showing that all the beauty we admire


in vegetable or animal life results from the fitnesa of the object to the use for which it is intended, and serves as a kind of stamp, set by the Creator to point out the health, soundness, and perfection of the form in which it resides. This leads him on to speak of moral beauty, and tracing the regular gra- dations of beauty through colour, shape, symmetry, and grace, to its highest character in the expression of moral feelings, he breaks out into an animated apostrophe,

Mind, mind alone — the living fountain in itself contains

Of beauteous or sublime.

The poem continues in a high strain of nobte enthusiasm to the end of the book, and concludes with an invocation to the genius of ancient Greece, with whose philosophy and high sense of liberty he was equally enamoured. It is easy for the reader who is conversant in the writings of Shaftesbury and Hutchinson to perceive how much their elegant and fascinating system is adapted to ennoble our


author's subject, and how much the Pleasures of Imagination are raised in value and importance by building the throne of Virtue so near the bower of Beauty. The book is complete in itself; and if we may be allowed to hazard a conjecture, contains nearly the whole of what the author on the first "view might think necessary to his subject.

The second book opens with a complaint found- ed, perhaps, rather in a partiality for the ancients than attention to fact, of the disunion in modern times of Philosophy and Poetry. To the same clas- sic prejudice (to which a good scholar is very prone} may be attributed the mention of the courtly com- pliments which debased the verse of Tasso  ; and the superstitious legends which employed the pencil of Raphael in contradistinction to the works of the ancients, as if, in sober truth, any one was prepared to assert that there was less flattery in the Augustan age, and less superstition in the idle my- thology of Homer and Ovid. Such prejudices c i

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ought to be laid aside with thegradus of the school- boy. The Poet proceeds to consider the accession to the Pleasures of the Imagination from adventitious circumstances, of which he gives various instances  ; that of the Newtonian theory of the rainbow seems too abstruse even for a philosophical Poem; it may be doubted whether, if understood, it is of a nature to mix well with the pleasure of colours; it cer- tainly does not accord well with that of verse. The influence of Passion is next considered, and the mysterious pleasure which is mixed with the ener- gies and emotions of those passions that are in their own nature painful. To solve this problem, which has been one in all ages, a long allegory is intro- duced, which, though wrought up with a good deal of the decoration of Poetry3 is nearly as difficult to comprehend as the problem itself. It begins with presenting a scene of desolation, where the parched adder dies  ; this vanishes, and another is presented. k What we hoped to have heard from the Poet, we


are directed to learn from old Harmodius, Haiu modius is only introduced to refer us to the Genius? and the Genius shifts his scenes like the pictures of a magic lantern, before he explains to us the scope and purport of the visions. The figures of Pleasure and Virtue are in a good measure copied from the choice of Hercules, only that, as Euphrosyne is the Goddess of innocent pleasure, every thing voluptuous is left out of the picture. The descrip- tion of the son of Nemesis is wrought up with much strength of colouring. The story is in fact the introduction of evil, accounted for by the ne- cessity of training the pupil of Providence to the love of virtue, the supreme good, by withdrawing from him for a while the allurements of pleasure; but why his very suffering should be attended with pleasure, which was the phenomenon to be ac- counted for, is not so clearly made out. We are told indeed that the youth is willing to bear the frowns of the son of Nemesis in all their horrors, provided c %

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Euphrosyne will bless him with her smiles, that is to say. he is willing to be miserable provided he may be happy at the same time. Upon this Eu- phrosyne appears, and declares that she will al- ways be present for the future, whenever, supported by Virtue, he sustains a combat with Pain. So far indeed we may gather from this representation, that pleasure is always annexed to the exercise of our moral feelings, which is probably the true account of the matter: but this truth is rather darkened than illustrated by the fable, which does not satisfactorily explain how the connection is produced. The alle- gory is not very consistent in another place, where we are told that Virtue had left the youth, while at the same time sweetest innocence illumed his bashful eyes. He had already fallen, and yet he had not lost his innocence; the storm of wrath which falls upon him is therefore unaccounted for. Upon the whole, though this allegory is in many parts ingeni- ous, and is laboured into splendid poetry, we fear it


has the effect upon most readers which it seems it had upon the author himself, who tells us that

Awhile he stood Perplex'd and giddy.

It may be doubted whether this discussion is strictly within the bounds of the subject, the Plea- sures of Imagination  ; since the instances given are not confined to scenic representation, but refer to the primary feelings of the passions,. What has imagination to do with

The bitter shower Which sorrow sheds upon a brother's grave  ?

The book concludes with an animated and pathe- tic exemplification of the gratification felt in the indulgence of mournful sympathy, or generous in- dignation ; the latter pointed against the two things the author most hated, superstition and tyranny.

The third book touches upon a difficult and un- grateful subject for the poetic art, the Pleasures of Ridicule. It involves the question, much agitated

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at that time, whether ridicule be the test of truth. Our author follows the system of Shaftesbury, which drew upon him an attack from Bishop Warburton, and he was defended by his friend and patron Jeremiah Dyson. To say truth, it is easier to defend the Philosopher than the Poet. There is much acuteness in the theory, and much art exhibited in giving a poetical dress to the va- rious illustrations he makes use of ; but after all, the subject is so barren in itself, and so unsuitable to the solemn manner of Akenside, that we admire without pleasure, and acquiesce without interest. He promises indeed to

Unbend his serious measure, and reveal

In lighter strains, how Folly's aukward arts

Excite impetuous Laughter's gay rebuke,

The sportive province of the comic Muse  :

But he has net kept his promise  : neither indeed

could he, for besides that no one was ever less

capable than our author of unbending, the object of


his disquisition is not to make us laugh, but to tell us why we laugh  : a very different problem, and very remote from any ideas of pleasantry. Nor could he, without violating uniformity, change the measure of his Poem, otherwise this part of his subject not affording any play, for the higher beau- ties and bolder sweep of blank verse, would have been better treated of in the neat and terse couplet, after the manner of Pope's Ethical Epistles, or Young's Satires. He begins, agreeably to the system he had embraced, writh deducing all devia- tions from rectitude or propriety, from false opi- nions, imbibed in early youth, which attract the imagination by fallacious shews of good. Of these false opinions the more serious lead to vice, while those which refer to the less important particulars of our conduct betray to ridicule, the source of which is incongruity ) and its final cause the assisting the tardy deductions of reason by the quick impulse of an instinctive sense.

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The theory is beautiful and well supported. Il- lustrations of every different species of the ridicu- lous are given in the Poem; the notes are judicious, and tend still more to elucidate the subject. Still it must be confessed the theme is not a poetical one  ; and it may be even questioned how far it is con- nected with the subject; for the sense of ridicule is of a very peculiar nature, and is hardly included, in common language, among the Pleasures of the Imagination. If however the reader is inclined to be dissatisfied with this part of his entertainment, let him recollect, that if it affords him less pleasure, it probably cost the author more pains than any other portion of his Poem. It is asserted that under the appellation of Momion, the writer has thrown out a sarcasm, not undeserved, against the celebrated author of the Dunciad; ior surely no man of a just moral taste can reflect, without regret, that a .capital work of one of our best Poets, composed in the height of his reputation, and during the


perfection of all his powers, should have no other end than to gratify the spleen of an offended author^ and to record the petty warfare of rival wits. It is an observation of the excellent Hartley, that those studies which confine the mind within the exercise of its own powers, as criticism, poetry, and most philological pursuits, are apt to generate a supercilious deportment and an anxious and self- ish regard to reputation  : whereas the pursuit of truth, carrying the mind out of itself to large views of nature and providence, fills it with sublime and generous feelings. The remark must undoubtedly be taken with great latitude, but it seems to be not intirely unfounded.

Having dismissed the account of Ridicule, so lit- tle susceptible of being adorned by his efforts, the Poet rises into a higher strain., and investigates that wonderful phenomenon from whence the Pleasures of Imagination chiefly seem to arise, the mysteri- ous connection of moral ideas with visible objects.

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Why, he asks, does the deep shade of a thick wood strike us with religious awe? Why does the light- someness and variety ofa more airy landscape suggest to us the idea of gaiety and social mirth  ? Is there really any resemblance, or is it owing to early and frequent associations? He decides for the latter, and beautifully illustrates that great law on which the power of memory entirely depends. This leads him to consider the powers of imagination as re- siding in the human mind, when, after being stored by means of memory, with ideas of all that is great and beautiful in nature, the child of fancy com- bines and varies them in a new creation of its own, from whence the origin of Music, Painting, Poetry, and all those arts which give rise to the secondary or reflex pleasures, referred to in the latter part of his definition. This is accompanied by a glowing and animated description of the process of compo- sition, written evidently with the pleasure a person of genius must have felt, when reflecting with


conscious triumph that he is exercising the powers he so well describes. He had probably likewise in his eye the well known lines of Shakespear, The poet's eye in a fine phrenzy rolling.

The simile of the Parhelion is new and beautiful. The harp of Memnon struck bj the rays of the sun supplies him with another; and the sympathetic needles of Strada with a third, which are the only ones in the Poenn

The Cause is next considered of the pleasure which we receive from all that strikes us with the sensation of Beauty in the material world. Con- cerning this there exist two opinions. One, that those objects we call beautiful are so really, and in their own nature, and must appear so to any being possessed of faculties capable of appreciating them. The other that beauty is a mere arbitrary thing, a sort of pleasing enchantment spread over the face of nature, a delusion, under which we see charms that do not at all result from the real properties of things, and which other intelligent beings it is pro.

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bable do not perceive. This latter opinion on* ^author has embraced as the most philosophical. It is not, we presume, the most pleasing, nor the most favourable to the dignity and importance of the Pleasures of Imagination  ; for their boasted con- nection with truth vanishes, except indeed in this sense that beauty as an arbitrary mark is used with precision, and is constantly found to denote the health and soundness of the object in which it ap- pears to reside, and consequently is made subservient to utility  : but the beautiful climax is destroyed by which the inferior kinds are connected with moral beauty, for how can what is real be connected with what is imaginary  ? unless indeed what would be a very dangerous doctrine, the sense of moral beauty itself were supposed to be dependent on our pecu- liar formation,and adapted only to our present state of existence. The Poet has here closely copied from Addison, both in opening the thought, and in the simile with which he illustrates it. He loses sight however of this unpoetical philosophy toward*


the conclusion, where having observed that taste results from the natural quickness of all the per- captions he has enumerated, strengthened by ade- quate culture, he observes, that culture will not however destroy the peculiar bias which is impress- ed upon different minds towards the great, or the soft and beautiful. This he exemplifies in Waller and Shakespear. He then winds up the whole by that noble and animated eulogium on the taste for the beauties of nature,

O blest of heaven, whom — And having led the lover of the fair and beautiful through all the different gradations of excellence, he leaves the mind where alone it should rest, in the contemplation of the Supreme Excellence, and closes with the sublime idea, that in admiring the works of nature, we form our taste upon the con- ceptions of the Deity himself.

Much more might be said of the philosophy of

this Poem, but the chief aim of this essay is to shew

the poetical use he has made of his subject. M any


of the divisions might perhaps be differently ar- ranged, and the theory in some instances improved, but for poetry it is sufficiently accurate, and in^ speculations of this shadowy nature, no person will be thoroughly content with even his own system after the lapse of any considerable portion of time.

IF the genius of Akenside be to be estimated from this Poem, and it is certainly the most capi- tal of his works, it will be found to be lofty and elegant, chaste, classical, and correct : not marked with strong traits of originality, not ardent, nor exuberant. His enthusiasm was rather of that kind which is kindled by reading and imbibing the spi- rit of authors, than by contemplating at first hand the works of Nature. As a versifier Akenside is allowed to stand amongst those who have given the most finished models of blank verse. His periods are long, but harmonious, the cadences fall with grace, and the measure is supported with uniform


dignity. His Muse possesses the mien erect \ and high commanding gait. We shall scarcely find a low or trivial expression introduced, a careless or unfinish- ed line permitted to stand. His stateliness however is somewhat allied to stiffness. His verse is sometimes feeble through too rich a redundancy of ornament^ and sometimes laboured into a degree of obscurity from too anxious a desire of avoiding natural and simple expressions. We do not conceive of him as. pouring easy his unpremeditated strain. It is rather difficult to read, from the sense being extended some* times through more than twenty lines  ; but when well read, fills and gratifies the ear with all the pomp of harmony. It is far superior to the com- positions of his contemporary Thomson (we speak now only of the measure), and more equal than Milton, though inferior to his finest passages* It is indeed too equal not to be in some degree monotonous. He is fond of compound epithets, led to it perhaps by his fondness for the Greek, and delights in giving a classic air to his composu

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tions by using names and epithets the most remote from vulgar use. Like Homer's gods his poetry speaks a different language from that of common mortals.

That an author who lived to near fifty should have produced his most capital work at three and twenty, seems to imply (as his professional studies did not cause him to lay aside his poetical pursuits) a genius more early than extensive, a mind more refined than capacious. And that this was the case in reality, will appear from his having employed himself during several years in correcting and in. tirely new moulding this his favourite Poem, To correct to a certain degree is the duty of a man of sense, but always to correct will not be the employ- ment of a man of spirit. It betrays a miud rather brooding with fond affection over old productions, than inspired by a fresh stream of new ideas. The flowers of fancy are apt to lose their odour by much handling, the glow is gone, and the ear itself after a certain time loses its tact amidst repeated


alterations, as the taste becomes confounded by thfc successive trial of different flavours.

The Edition which he was preparing was, however, left in too imperfect a state to justify its being pre* sented to the public, at least of superseding the complete one which is here given, and which passed rapidly through many editions soon after its first appearance. In the posthumous Poem the ordon- nance is greatly changed  : Novelty is left out as a primary source of the Pleasure of the Imagination, and placed among the adventitious circumstances which only increaseit: the greatestpart of the lines on Ridicule is also omitted, and he has abandoned the idea of its being the test of truth, an idea which had given offence to the severer moralists. Instead of the allegory of Virtue and Euphrosyne, the third book consists of a story concerning Solon, on which Dr. Johnson makes this single observa- tion, that it is too long. The probability is that the critic never read it through: as, for the author's

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purpose, it is too short, since it breaks off so abruptly, that though the purport is declared to be to show the origin of evil, the story is not far enough advanced to allow the reader even to guess at the intended solution. Of the fourth book the begin, ning is barely sketched. But had the whole been completed we may venture to pronounce, that, if the system was improved, the Poetry would have been weaker. He has amplified what had before a ten- dency to be redundant ; he has rendered abstruse what was before sufficiently difficult of comprehen. sion ; and in proportion as he has departed from the chaste elegance of Addjson, he has given to his subject a dry scholastic air, and involved it in metaphysical subtilties. Of amplification the fol- lowing are instances. In the Poem before us we meet with the line

And painted shells indent their speckled wreaths.

Not being willing to let these shells pass without the-lustreof an additional polish, he has altered it to


And painted shells along some winding shore Catch with indented folds the glancing sum He had spoken in the former of — the thymy vale Where oft enchanted with Socratic sounds Ilissus pure devolved his tuneful stream In gentler murmurs.

The thought of a river listening to eloquence is but trite, and therefore sufficiently spread ; but not content with the image, he has in the later work added Boreas and Orithyia to the dramatis persona?.

Where once beneath

That ever-living plantane's ample boughs Ilissus by Socratic sounds detain'd On his neglected urn attentive lay. While Boreas lingering on the neighbouring steep With beauteous Orithyia his love-tale In silent awe suspended. Sometimes, however, we meet with a happier image. The following is very picturesque: d 2


O ye dales

Of Tyne, and ye most ancient woodlands, where Oft as the giant fiood obliquely strides

And his banks open

The following description of universal or primitive beauty, though somewhat too awful for a Venus, is striking, and merits preservation  :

He, God most high, — Page 130 to - — and owns her charms, — Page 134. On the whole, though we may not look upon Akenside as one of those few born to create an era in Poetry, we may well consider him as formed to shine in the brightest; we may venture to predict that his work, which is not formed on any local or temporary subject, will continue to be a classic in our language; and we shall pay him the grateful regard which we owe to genius exerted in the cause of liberty and philosophy, of virtue and of taste.

  • TH*


THERE are certain powers in human nature which seem to hold a middle place between the organs of bodily sense, and the faculties of moral perception  : they have been called by a very general name, The Powers of Imagination. Like the external senses, they relate to matter and motion ; and, at the same time, give the mind ideas analogous to those of moral approbation and dislike. As they are the inlets of some of the most exquisite pleasures with which we are acquainted, it has naturally happened that men of warm and sensible tempers have sought means to recall the delightful perceptions which they afford, independent of the object which ori- ginally produced them. This gave rise to the imitative or designing arts ; some of which, as


painting and sculpture, directly copy the external appearances which were admired in nature; others, as music and poetry, bring them back to remem- brance by signs universally established and under- stood.

But these arts, as they grew more correct and deliberate, were of course led to extend their imitation beyond the peculiar object of the ima- ginative powers  ; especially poetry, w hich, making use of language as the instrument by which it imitates, it consequently becomes an unlimited representative of every species and mode of being. Yet,as their intention was only to express the objects of imagination, and as they still abound chiefly in ideas of that class, they of course retain their origi- nal character  ; and all the different pleasures which they excite are termed, in general, Pleasures of Imagination.

The design of the following poem is to give a iLew of these in the largest acceptation of the term  ;


so that whatever our imagination feels from the agree- able appearances of Nature, and all the various enter- tainment we meet with, either in poetry ^ painting^ music, or any of the elegant arts, which might be dedu- ciblefrom one or other of those principles in the con- stitution of the human mind, are here established and explained.

In executing this general plan, it was necessary first of all to distinguish the Imagination from our other faculties  ; and in the next place to charac- terize those original forms or properties of being, about which it is conversant, and which are by nature adapted to it, as light is to the eyes, or truth to the understanding. These properties Mr. Addison had reduced to the three general classes of greatness, novelty, and beauty  ; and into these we may analyze every object, however complex, which, properly speaking, is delightful to the imagi- nation. But such an object may also include many other sources of pleasure; and its beauty^ or uovelty>


or grandeur, will make a stronger impression by reason of this concurrence. Besides which, the imitative arts, especially poetry, owe much of their effect to a similar exhibition of properties quite foreign to the imagination, insomuch, that in every line of the most applauded poems, we meet with either ideas drawn from the external senses, or truths discovered to the understanding, or illustrations of contrivance and final causes, or, above all the rest, with circumstances properto awaken and engage the passions. It was therefore necessary to enumerate and exemplify these different species of pleasure; especially that from the passions, which, as it is supreme in the noblest work of human genius, so being in some particulars not a little surprising, gave an opportunity to enliven the didactic turn of the Poem, by introducing an allegory to account for the , appearance.

After these parts of the subject which hold chiefly of admiration, or naturally warm and interest the


mind, a pleasure of a very different nature, that which arises from ridicule, came next to be con- sidered. As this is the foundation of the comic manner in all the aris, and has been but very imper- fectly treated by moral writers, it was thought proper to give it a particular illustration, and to distinguish the general sources from which the ridicule of cha- racters is derived. Here too a change of style became necessary  ; such a one as might jet be con- sistent, if possible, with the general taste of compo- sition in the serious parts of the subject  ; nor is it an easy task to give any tolerable force to images of this kind, without running either into the gigantic expressions of tho mock heroic, or the familiar and poetical raillery of professed satire ; neither of which would have been proper here.

The materials of all imitation being thus laid open? nothing now remained but to illustrate some parti- cular pleasures, which arise either from the relation* of different objects one to another; or from the


nature of imitation itself. Of the first kind, is that various and complicated resemblance existing between several parts of the material and immaterial worlds, which is the foundation of metaphor and wit. As it seems in a great measure to depend on the early association of our ideas, and as this habit of associat- ing is the source of many pleasures and pains in life, and on that account bears a great share in the influence of poetry and the other arts, it is therefore mentioned here, and its effects described. Then follows a general account of the production of these elegant arts, and of the secondary pleasure, as it is called, arising from the resemblance of their imitations to the original appearances of Nature. After which, the work concludes with some reflec- tions on the general conduct of the powers of imagination, and on their natural and moral useful- ness in life.

Concerning the manner or turn of composition which prevail* in this piece, little can be said with-


propriety by the author. He had two models; that ancient and simple one of the first Grecian poets, as it is refined by Virgii* in the Georgics, and the familiar epistolary way of Horace. This latter has several advantages. It admits of a greater variety of style ; it more readily engages the gene- rality of readers, as partaking more of the air of conversation  ; and, especially with the assistance of rhyme, leads to a closer and more concise expression. Add to this the example of the most perfect of modern poets, who has so happily applied this man. ner to the noblest parts of philosophy, that the public taste is in a great measure formed to it alone. Yet, after all, the subject before us, tending almost constantly to admiration and enthusiasm, seemed rather to demand a more open, pathetic, and figured style. This too appeared more natural, as the author's aim was not so much to give formal pre*, cepts, or enter into the way of direct argumentation, as, by exhibiting the most engaging prospects of


Nature, to enlarge and harmonize the imagination, and by that means insensibly dispose the minds of men to a similar taste and habit of thinking in religion, morals, and civil life. It is on this account that he is so careful to point out the benevolent intention of the Author of Nature in every principle of the human constitution here insisted on; and also to unite the moral excellencies of life in the same point of view with the mere external objects of good taste; thus recommending them in common to our natural propensity for admiring what is beautiful and lovely. The same views have also led him to intro. duce some sentiments which may perhaps be looked upon as not quite direct to the subject; but since they bear an obvious relation to it, the authority of Virgil, the faultless model of didactic poetry, will best support him in this particular. For the sentu ments themselves, he makes no apology.




The subject proposed. — Difficulty of treating it poetically.-*. The ideas of the divine mind, the origin of every quality pleasing to the imagination. — The natural variety of consti- tution in the minds of men ; with its final cause.— The idea of a fine imagination and the state of the mind in the enjoy- ment of those pleasures which it affords. All the primary pleasures of the imagination result from the perception of greatness, or wonderfulness, or beauty in objects. — The plea- sure from greatness, with its final cause. — Pleasure from novelty, or wonderfulness, with its final cause. — Pleasure from beauty, with its final cause. — The connection of beauty with truth and good, applied to the conduct of life. — Invi- tation to the study of moral philosophy. — The different degrees of beauty indifferent species of objects: colour; shape; na- tural concretes; vegetables; animals; the mind. — The sub- lime, the fair, the wonderful of the mind. — The connection of the imagination and the moral faculty. — Conclusion.






W ITH what attractive charms this goodly frame

Of nature touches the consenting hearts

Of mortal men  ; and what the pleasing stores

Which beauteous imitation thence derives

To deck the poet's, or the painter's toil ; 5

My verse unfolds. Attend, ye gentle powers

Of musical delight ! and while I sing

Your gifts, your honours, dance around my strain.

Thou, smiling queen of every tuneful breast,

Indulgent Fancy ! from the fruitful banks 10


Of Avon, whence thy rosy fingers cull

Fresh flowers and dews to sprinkle on the turf

Where Shakespear lies, be present; and with thee

Let Fiction come, upon her vagrant wings

Wafting ten thousand colours through the air, 15

Which by the glances of her magic eye

She blends and shifts at will, through countless forms,

Her wild creation. Goddess of the lyre.

Which rules the accents of the moving sphere,

AVilt thou, eternal Harmony  ! descend 20

And join this festive train? for with thee comes

The guide, the guardian of their lovely sports,

Majestic Truth  : and where Truth deigns to come,

Her sister Liberty will not be far.

Be present all ye Genii, who conduct 25

The wandering footsteps of the youthful bard,

New to your springs and shades : who touch his ear

With finer sounds  : who heighten to his eye.

The bloom of Nature, and before him turn

The gayest, happiest attitude of things. 30


Oft have the laws of each poetic strain The critic-verse employ'd ; yet still unsung Lay this prime subject, though importing most A poet's name: for fruitless is the attempt. By dull obedience and by creeping toil 35

Obscure to conquer the severe ascent Of high Parnassus. Nature's kindling breath Must fire the chosen genius  ; Nature's hand Must string his nerves, and imp his eagle-wings Impatient of the painful steep, to soar 40

High as the summit; there to breathe at large iEihcrial air  ; with bards and sages old, Immortal sons of praise. The flattering scenes, To this neglected labour court my song; Yet not unconscious what a doubtful task 45

To paint the finest features of the mind, And to most subtle and mysterious things Give colour, strength, and motion. But the love Of Nature and the Muses bids explore. Through secret paths erewhile untrod by man, 50


The fair poetic region, to detect Untasted springs, to drink inspiring draughts5 And shade my temples with unfading flowers Cull'd from the laureate vale's profound recess^ Where never poet gain'd a wreath before. 55

From heaven my strains begin;from heaven descends The flame of genius to the human breast, And love and beauty, and poetic joy And inspiration. Ere the radiant sun Sprang from the East, or 'mid the vault of night 60 The moon suspended her serener lamp  ; Ere mountains,woods, or streams, adorn'd the globe^ Or wisdom taught the sons of men her lore  ; Then liv'd the Almighty One  : then, deep-retir'd In his unfathom'd essence, view'd the forms, 65 The forms eternal of created things  ; The radiant sun, the moon's nocturnal lamp, The mountains, woods, and streams, the rollingglobe^ And wisdom's mien celestial. From the first


Of days, on them his love divine he fix'd, 70

His admiration  : till in time complete, What he admir'd and lov'd, his vital smile Unfolded into being. Hence the breath Oflife informing each organic frame, 74

Hence the green earth, and wild resounding waves  ; Hence light and shade alternate  ; warmth and cold J And clear autumnal skies and vernal showers^ And all the fair variety of things*

But not alike to every mortal eye Is this great scene unveil'd. For since the claims 80 Of social life, to different labours urge The active powers of man  ; with wise intent The hand of Nature on peculiar minds Imprints a different bias, and to each Decrees its province in the common toil. 85

To some she taught the fabric of the sphere, The changeful moon, the circuit of the stars, The golden zones of heaven  : to some she gave e2


To weigh the moment of eternal things,

Of time, and space, and fate's unbroken chain, 90

And will's quick impulse  : others by the hand

She led o'er vales and mountains, to explore

What healing virtue swells the tender veins

Of herbs and flowers  ; or what thebeams of morn

Drawforth, distilling from the cliftedrind 95

In balmy tears. But some, to higher hopes

Were destin'd  ; some within a finer mould

She wrought, and temper'd with a purer flamet

To these, the Sire Omnipotent unfolds

The world's harmonious volume, there to read 100

The transcript of himself. On every part

They trace the bright impressions of his hand  :

In earth or air, the meadow's purple stores,

The moon's mild radiance, or the virgin's form

Blooming with rosy smiles, they see pourtray'd 105

That uncreated beauty, which delights

The mine! supreme. They also feel her charms,

Enamour'd; they partake the eternal joy.


For as old Memnon's image, long renown'd By fabling Nil us, to the quivering touch 110

Of Titan's ray, with each repulsive string Consenting, sounded through the warbling air Unbidden strains  ; even so did Nature's hand To certain species of external things, Attune the finer organs of the mind  : 1 15

So the glad impulse of congenial powers, Or of sweet sound, or fair proportion'd form, The grace of motion, or the bloom of light, Thrills through Imagination's tender frame, From nerve to nerve: all naked and alive 120

They catch the spreading rays : till now the soul At length discloses every tuneful spring, To that harmonious movement from without Responsive. Then the inexpressive strain Diiiuses its enchantment  : Fancy dreams 125

Of sacred fountains and Elysian groves, And vales of bliss ; the intellectual power Bends from his awful throne a wondering earr


And smiles: the passions, gently sooth'd away, Sink to divine repose, and love and joy 130

Alcne are waking  ; love and joy, serene As airs that fan the summer. Oh, attend, Whoe'er thou art, whom these delights can touch, Whose candid bosom the refining love Of Nature warms. Oh, listen to my song  ; 135

And I will guide thee to her favourite walks, And teach thy solitude her voice to hear, And point her loveliest features to thy view.

Know then, whate'er of Nature's pregnant stores, Whate'er of mimic art's reflected forms 140

With love and admiration thus inflame The powers of Fancy, her delighted sons To three illustrious orders have referr'd  ; Three sister-graces, whom the painter's hand? The poet's tongue, confesses  ; the sublime, 145

The wonderful, the fair. I see them dawn  ! I eee the radiant visions, where they rise,


More lovely than when Lucifer displays

His beaming forehead through the gates of morn.

To lead the train of Phoebus and the spring. 150

Say, why was man so eminently rais'd Amid the vast creation, why ordain' d Through life and death to dart his piercing eye. With thoughts beyond the limit of his frame  ; But that the Omnipotent might send him forth In sight of mortal and immortal powers, 15$

As on a boundless theatre, to run The great career of justice  ; to exalt His generous aim to all diviner deeds  ; To chase each partial purpose from his breast ; 160 And through the tossing tide of chance and pain. To hold his course unfaultering, while the voice Of Truth and Virtue up the steep ascent Of Nature, calls him to his high reward, 165

The applauding smile ofHeaven? Else wherefore burns;


In mortal bosoms this unquenched hope, That breathes from day to day sublimer things, And mocks possession  ? wherefore darts the mind With such resistless ardour to embrace 170

Majestic forms  ; impatient to be free, Spurning the gross controul of wilful might ; Proud of the strong contention of her toils  ; Proud to be daring  ? Who but rather turns To Heaven's broad fire his unconstrained view, 175 Than to the glimmering of a waxen flame  ? Who that, from Alpine heights, his labouring eye Shoots round the wide horizon, to survey Nilus or Ganges rolling his bright wave Through mountains, plains, through empires black with shade, 180

And continents of sand; will turn his gaze To mark the windings of a scanty rill That murmfrrs at his feet  ? The high-born soul Disdains to rest her heaven-aspiring wing Beneath its native quarry. Tir'd of earth 185


And this diurnal scene, she springs aloft

Through fields of air  ; pursues the flying storm ;

Rides on the vollied lightning through the heavens  ;

Or, yok'd with whirlwinds and the Northern blast.

Sweeps the long tract of day. Then high she soars

The blue profound, and hovering round the sua 191

Beholds him pouring the redundant stream

Of light  ; beholds his unrelenting sway

Bend the reluctant planets to absolve

The fated rounds of time. Thence far effus'd 195

She darts her swiftness up the long career

Of devious comets ; through its burning signs

Exulting measures the perennial wheel

Of Nature, and looks back on all the stars.

Whose blended light, as with a milky zone, 200

Invests the orient Now amaz'd she views

The empyreal waste, where happy spirits hold,

Beyond this concave heaven, their calm abode  ;

And fields of radiance, whose unfading light

Has travell'dthe profound six thousand years; 205


Nor yet arrives in sight of mortal things.

Even on the barriers of the world untir'd

She meditates the eternal depth below  ;

Till half recoiling, down the headlong steep

She plunges  ; soon o'erwhelm'd and swallow'd up

In that immense of being. There her hopes 211

Rest at the fated goal. For from the birth

Of mortal man, the Sovereign Maker said.

That not in humble nor in brief delight.

Not in the fading echoes of renown, 215

Power's purple robes, nor pleasure's flowery lap,

The soul should find enjoyment : but from these

Turning disdainful to an equal good,

Through all the ascent of things enlarge her view,

Till every bound at length should disappear, 220

And infinite perfection close the scene.

Call now to mind what high capacious powers Lie folded up in man  ; how far beyond The praise of mortals, may the eternal growth


Cf Nature to perfection half divine 225

Expand the blooming soul  ? What pity then Should sloth's unkindly fogs depress to earth Her tender blossom  ; choke the streams of life. And blast her spring  ! Far otherwise design'd Almighty wisdom 5 Nature's happy cares 230

The obedient heart iar otherwise incline. Witness the sprightly joy, when aught unknown Strikes the quick sense, and wakes each active power To brisker measures  : witness the neglect Of all familiar prospects, though beheld 23£

With transport once  ; the fond attentive gaza Of young astonishment ; the sober zeal Of age, commenting on prodigious things, For such the bounteous providence of Heaven, In every breast implanting this desire 240

Of objects new and strange, to urge us on With unremitted labour to pursue Those sacred stores that wait the ripening soul. In Truth's exhaustless bosom. What need words


To paint its power  ? For this the daring youth 245

Breaks from his weeping mother's anxious arms,

In foreign climes to rove  : the pensive sage,

Heedless of sleep, or midnight's harmful damp,

Hangs o'er the sickly temper  ; and iintir'd

The virgin follows, with enchanted step, 250

The mazes of some wild and wondrous tale,

From morn to eve  ; unmindful of her form,.

Unmindful of the happy dress that stole

The wishes of the youth, when every maid

With envy pin'd. Hence, finally, by night 25S

The village-matron, round the blazing hearth,

Suspends the infant-audience with her tales,

Breathing astonishment ! of witchiag rhymes

And evil spirits  ; of the death-bed call

Cf him who robb'd the widow, and devour'd 260

The orphan's portion  ; of unquiet souls

Risen from the grave to ease the heavy guilt

Of deeds in life conceal'd  ; of shapes that walk

At dead of night, and clank their chains, and ware

-Paae z^ .



The torch of hell around the murderer's bed. 265

At every solemn pause the crowd recoil,

Gazing each other speechless, and congeal'd

With shivering sighs : til] eager for the event,

Around the Beldame all arract they hang,

Each trembling heart with grateful terrors quell' d.

But lo  ! disclos'd ia all her smiling pomp, 271 Where beauty onward moving claims the verse Her charms inspire : the freely-flowing verse In thy immortal praise, O form divine, Smooths her mellifluent stream. Thee, beauty, thee The regal dome, and thy enlivening ray 276

The mossy roofs adore  : thou, better sun ! For ever beamest on the enchanted heart Love, and harmonious wonder, and delight Poetic. Brightest progeny of heaven! 280

How shall I trace thy features  ? where select The roseate hues to emulate thy bloom  ? Haste then, my song, through Nature's wide expanse,


Haste then, and gather all her comeliest wealth, Whate'er bright spoils the florid earth contains, 285 Whate'er the waters, or the liquid air, To deck thy lovely labour. Wilt thou fly With laughing Autumn to the Alantie isles, And range with him the Hesperian field, and see Where'er his fingers touch the fruitful grove, 290 The branches shoot with gold ; where'er his step Marks the glad soil, the lender clusters grow With purple ripeness, and invest each hill As with the blushes of an evening sky  ? Or wilt thou rather stoop thy vagrant plume, 295 Where gliding thro' his daughter's honour'd shades, The smooth Peneus from his glassy flood Reflects purpureal Tempe's pleasant scene  ? Fair Tempe ! haunt belov'd of sylvan powers, Of nymphs and fauns ; where in the golden age 300 They play'd in secret on the shady brink With ancient Pan : while round their choral steps Young hours and genial gales with constant hand


Showered blossoms, odours, shower'd ambrosial dews

And spring's Elysian bloom. Her flowery store 305

To thee nor Tempe shall refuse ; nor watch

Of winged Hydra guard Hesperian fruits

From thy free spoil. Oh bear then unreprov'd,

Thy smiling treasures to the green recess

Where young Dione stays. With sweetest airs 310

Intice her forth to lend her angel-form

For beauty's honour'd image. Hither turn

Thy graceful footsteps  ; hither, gentle maid,

Incline thy polished forehead : let thy eyes

Effuse the mildness of their azure dawn  ; 315

And may the fanning breezes waft aside

Thy radiant locks  : disclosing, as it bends

With airy softness from the marble neck,

The cheek fair-blooming, and the rosy lip,

Where winning smiles and pleasures sweet as love,

With sanctity and wisdom, tempering blend 321

Their soft allurement. Then the pleasing force

Of Nature, and her kind parental care


Worthier I'd sing  : then aJl the enamour'd youth

With each admiring virgin, to my lyre 32$

Should throng attentive, while I point on high

Where beauty's living image, like the morn

That wakes in Zephyr's arms the blushing May,

Moves onward ; or as Venus, when she stood

Effulgent on the pearly car, and smil'd, 330

Fresh from the deep, and conscious of her form,

To see the Tritons tune their vocal shells,

And each ccerulean sister of the flood

With loud acclaim attend her o'er the waves

To seek the ldalian bower. Ye smiling band 335

Of youths and virgins, who through all the maze

Of young desire with rival steps pursue

This charm of beauty  ; if the pleasing toil

Can yield a moment's respite, hither turn

Your favourable ear, and trust my words. 340

I do not mean to wake the gloomy form

Of Superstition drcss'd in Wisdom's garb,

To damp your tender hopes • I do not meaa


To bid the jealous thunderer fire the heavens, Or shapes infernal rend the groaning earth 345

To fright you from your joys : my cheerful song With better omens calls you to the field, Pleas'd with your generous ardour in the chase, And warm like you. Then tell me, for ye know, Does Beauty ever deign to dwell where health 350 And active use are strangers  ? Is her charm Confess'd in aught, whose most peculiar ends Are lame and fruitless  ? Or did Nature mean This pleasing call the herald of a lie ; To hide the shame of discord and disease, 355

And catch with fair hypocrisy the heart Of idle faith  ? Oh no ! with better cares The indulgent mother, conscious how infirm Her offspring treads the paths of good and ill, By this illustrious image, in each kind 360

Still most illustrious where the object holds Its native powers most perfect, she by thi* Illumes the headstrong impulse of desire,


And sanctifies his choice. The generous glebe Whose bosom smiles with verdure, the clear tract Of streams delicious to the thirsty soul, 366

The bloom of nectar'd fruitage ripe to sense, And every charm of animated things, Are, only pledges of a state sincere, The integrity and order of their frame, 370

When all is well within, and every end Accomplish'd. Thus was Beauty sent from heaven, The lovely ministress of truth and good In this dark world: for truth and good are one, And beauty dwells in them, and they in her, 375 With like participation. Wherefore then, O sons of earth ! would ye dissolve the tie  ? Oh wherefore, with a rash impetuous aim, Seek ye those flowery joys with which the hand Of lavish fancy paints each flattering scene 380

Where beauty seems to dwell, nor once inquire Where is the sanction of eternal truth, Or where the seal of un deceitful good;


To save your search from folly? Wanting these,

Lo  ! beauty withers in your void embrace, 385

And with the glittering of an ideot*s toy

Did fancy mock your vows. Nor let the gleam

Of youthful hope that shines upon your hearts,

Be chill'd or clouded at this awful task,

To learn the lore of undeccitful good, 390

And truth eternal. Though the poisonous charms

Of baleful superstition guide the feet

Of servile numbers through a dreary way

To their abode, through deserts, thorns and mire ;

And leave the wretched pilgrim all forlorn 395

To muse at last, amid the ghostly gloom

Of graves, and hoary vaults, and cloister'd cells  ;

To walk with spectres through the midnight shade,

And to the screaming owl's accursed song

Attune the dreadful workings of his heart; 400

Yet be not ye dismay'd. A gentler star

Your lovely search illumines. From the grove

Where Wisdom talk'd with her Athenian sons,


Could my ambitious hand intwine a wreath

Of Plato's olive with the Mantuan bay, 405

Then should my powerful verse at once dispel

Those monkish horrors  : then in light divine

Disclose the Elysian prospect, where the steps

Of those whom Nature charms thro' blooming walks,

Thro' fragrant mountains and poetic streams, 410

Amid the train of sages, heroes, bards,

Led by their winged genius and the choir

Of laurel'd science, and harmonious art,

Proceed exulting to the eternal shrine,

Where Truth conspicuous with her sister-twins, 415

The undivided partners of her sway,

With Good and Beauty reigns. Oh let not us,

Lull'd by luxurious pleasure's languid strain,

Or crouching to the frowns of bigot-rage,

Oh let us not a moment pause to join 430

That god-like band. And if the gracious power

Who first awaken'd my untutor'd song,

Will to my invocation breathe anew


The tuneful spirit ; then through all our paths,

Ne'er shall the sound of this devoted lyre 42d

Be wanting ; whether on the rosy mead.

When summer smiles, to warn the melting heart

Of luxury's allurement ; whether firm

Against the torrent and the stubborn hill

To urge bold virtue's unremitted nerve, 430

And wake the strong divinity of soul

That conquers chance and fate  ; or whether struck

For sounds of triumph, to proclaim her toils

Upon the lofty summit, round her brow

To twine the wreath of incorruptive praise  ; 435

To trace her hallow'd light through future worlds,

And bless Heaven's image in the heart of man.

Thus with a faithful aim have we presum'd, Adventurous, to delineate Nature's form  ; Whether in vast, majestic pomp array 'd, 440

Ordrest for pleasing wonder, or serene In Beauty's rosy smile. It now remains,


Through various being's fair-proportion' d scale, To trace the rising lustre of her charms, From their first twilight, shining forth at length To full meridian splendor. Of degree 446

The least and lowliest, in the effusive warmth Of colours mingling with a random blaze., Doth Beauty dwell. Then higher in the line And variation of determin'd shape, 450

Where Truth's eternal measures mark the bound Of circle, cube, or sphere. The third ascent Unites this varied symmetry of parts With colour's bland allurement ; as the pearl Shines in the concave of its azure beti^ 455

And painted shells indent their speckled wreath. Then more attractive rise the blooming forms Through which the breath of Nature has infus'd Her genial power to draw with pregnant veins Nutritious moisture from the bounteous earth, 460 In fruit and seed prolific  : thus the flowers Their purple honours with the spring resume  ;


And such the stately tree which autumn bends With blushing treasures. But more lovely still Is Nature's charm, where to the full consent 465 Of complicated members, to the bloom Of colour, and the vital change of growth, Life's holy flame and piercing sense are given, And active motion speaks the temper'd soul : So moves the bird of Juno ; so the steed 470

With rival ardour beats the dusty plain, And faithful dogs with eager airs of joy Salute their fellows. Thus doth beauty dwell There most conspicuous, even in outward shape, Where dawns the high expression of a mind  : 475^ By steps conducting our enraptur'd search To that eternal origin, whose power, Through all the unbounded symmetry of things, Like rays effulging from the parent sun, This endless mixture of her charms diffus'd. 480 Mind, mind alone, (bear witness, earth and heaven  !) The living fountains in itself contains


Of beauteous and sublime : here hand in hand,

Sit paramount the graces ; here cnthron'd,

Coelestial Venus3 with divinest airs, 485

Invites the soul to never-fading joy.

Look then abroad through Nature, to the range

Of planets, suns, and adamantine spheres ,

Wheeling unshaken through the void immense ;

And speak, O man! does this capacious scene 490

With half that kindling majesty dilate

Thy strong conception, as when Brutus rose

Refulgent from the stroke of Caesar's fate,

Amid the crowd of patriots  ; and his arm

Aloft extending, like eternal Jove 495

When guilt brings down the thunder, call'd aloud

On Tully's name, and shook his crimson steel,

And bade the father of his country, hail!

For lo! the tyrant prostrate on the dust,

And Rome again is free  ! Is aught so fair 500

In all the dewy landscapes of the spring,

In the bright eye of Hesper or the morn,


In Nature's fairest forms, is ought so fair

As virtuous friendship  ? As the candid blush

Of him who strives with fortune to be just  ? 505

The graceful tear that streams for others' woes  ?

Or the mild majesty of private life,

Where peace with ever-blooming olive crowns

The gate 3 where honour's liberal hands effuse

Unenvied treasures, and the snowy wings 510

Of innocence and love protect the scene?

Once more search, undismay'd, the dark profound

Where Nature works in secret; vbw the beds

Of mineral treasure, and the eternal vault

That bounds the hoary ocean  ; trace the forms 515

Of atoms moving with incessant change

Their elemental round  ; behold the seeds

Of being, and the energy of life

Kindling the mass with ever-active flame  :

Then to the secrets of the working mind 520

Attentive turn  ; from dim oblivion call

Her fleet, ideal band j and bid them, go  !


Break through Time's barrier, and overtake the hour That saw the heavens created : then declare If aught were found in those external scenes 525 To move thy wonder now. For what are all The forms which brute, unconscious matter wears. Greatness of bulk, or symmetry of parts  ? Not reaching to the heart, soon feeble grows The superficial impulse  ; dull their charms, 530 And satiate soon, and pall the languid eye. Not so the moral species, nor the powers Of genius and design  ; the ambitious mind There sees herself : by these congenial forms Touch'd and awaken'd, with intenser act 535

She bends each nerve, and meditates well-pleas'd Her features in the mirror. For of all The inhabitants of earth, to man alone Creative wisdom gave to lift his eye To Truth's eternal measures; thenee to frame 540 The sacred laws of action and of will, Discerning justice from unequal deeds,


And temperance from folly. But beyond

This energy of truth, whose dictates bind

Assenting reason, the benignant Sire, 546

To deck the honour' d paths of just and good.

Has added bright imagination's rays  :

Where virtue, rising from the awful depth

Of Truth's mysterious bosom, doth forsake

The unadorn'd condition of her birth  ; 550

And dress'd by Fancy in ten thousand hues,

Assumes a various feature, to attract^

With charms responsive to each gazer's eye,

The hearts of men. Amid his rural walk,

The ingenuous youth, whom solitude inspires 555

With purest wishes, from the pensive shade

Beholds her moving, like a virgin Muse

That wakes her lyre to some indulgent theme

Of harmony and wonder  : while among

The herd of servile minds, her strenuous form 560

Indignant flashes on the patriot's eye,

And through the rolls of memory appeals


To ancient honour, or, in act serene,

Yet watchful, raises the majestic sword

Of public power, from dark ambition's reach 565

To guard the sacred volume of the laws.

Genius of ancient Greece! whose faithful steps Well-pleas'd I follow through the sacred paths Of Nature and of Science ; nurse divine Of all heroicdeeds and fair desires! 570

Oh  ! let the breath of tliy extended praise Inspire my kindling bosom to the height Of this untempted theme. Nor be my thoughts Presumptuous counted, if amid the calm That sooths this vernal evening into smiles, 575

I steal impatient from the sordid haunts Of strife and low ambition, to attend Thy sacred presence in the sylvan shade, By their malignant footsteps ne'er profan'd. Descend, propitious ! to my favour'd eye ; 580

Such in thy inein, thy warm, exalted air,


As when the Persian tyrant, foil'd and stung

With shame and desperation, gnash'd his teeth

To see thee rend the pageants of his throne ;

And at the lightning of thy lifted spear 585

Crouch'd like a slave. Bring all thy martial spoils,

Thy palms, thy laurels, thy triumphal songs,

Thy smiling band of arts, thy god-like sires

Of civil wisdom, thy heroic youth 589

Warm from the schools of glory. Guide my way

Through fair Lyceum's wall:, the green retreats

Of Academus, and the thymy vale,

Where oft enchanted with Socratic sounds,

Ilissus pure devolv'd his tuneful stream

In gentler murmurs. From the blooming store

Of these auspicious fields, may I unblam'd 595

Transplant some living blossoms to adorn

My native clime  : while far above the flight

Of Fancy's plume aspiring, I unlock

The springs of ancient wisdom  ! while I join (500

Thy name, thrice honour'd J with the immortal praise


Of Nature, while to my compatriot youth I point the high example of my sons, And tune to attic themas the British lyre.






THE separation of the works of Imagination from philoso- phy, the cause of their abuse among the moderns. — Prospect of their re-union under the influence of public liberty. — Enumeration of accidental pleasures, which increase the effect of objects delightful to the imagination. — The pleasures of sense. — Particular circumstances of the mind. — Discovery of truth. — Perception of contrivance and design. — Emotion of the passions. — All the natural passions partake of a pleas- ing sensation ; with the final cause of this constitution illustrated by an allegorical vision, and exemplified in sorrow, pity, terror, and indignation.





VV HEN shall the laurel and the vocal string Resume their honours? When shall we behold The tuneful tongue, the Promethean hand, Aspire to ancient praise  ? Alas  ! how faint. How slow, the dawn of beauty and of truth 5

Breaks the reluctant shades of Gothic night Which yet involve the nations ! Long they groan'd Beneath the furies of rapacious force ; Oft as the gloomy North, with iron-swarms Tempestuous pouring from her frozen caves, ' 10*



Blasted the Italian shore, and swept the works

Of liberty and wisdom down the gulph

Of all-devouring night. As long immur'd

In noon-tide darkness by the glimmering lamp.

Each Muse and each fair science pin'd away 15

The sordid hours: while foul, barbarian hands

Their mysteries profan'd, unstrung the lyre,

And chain'd the soaring pinion down to earth.

At last the Muses rose, and spurn'd their bonds,

And, wildly warbling, scattered, as they flew, 20

Their blooming wreaths from fair Valclusa's bowers

To Arno's myrtle border and the shore

Of soft Parthenope. But still the rage

Of dire ambition and gigantic power.

From public aims and from the busy walk 25

Of civil commerce, drove the bolder train

Of penetrating science to the cells.

Where studious ease consumes the silent hour

In shadowy searches and unfruitful care.

Thus from their guardians torn, the tender arts 30


Of mimic fancy and harmonious joy,

To priestly domination and the lust

Of lawless courts, their amiable toil

For three inglorious ages have resign'd,

In vain reluctant  : and T orquato's tongue 35

Was tun'd for slavish paeans at the throne

Of tinsel pomp  : and Raphael's magic hand

Effus'd its fair creation to enchant

The fond adoring herd in Latian fanes

To blind belief; while on their prostrate necks 40

The sable tyrant plants his heel secure.

But now, behold  ! the radiant a?ra dawns?

When freedom's ample fabric, fix'd at length

For endless years on Albion's happy shore

In full proportion, once more shall extend 45

To all the kindred powers of social bliss

A common mansion, a parental roof.

There shall the Virtues, there shall Wisdom's train,

Their long-lost friends rejoining, as of old,

Embrace the smiling family of Arts, 50

g 2


The Muses and the Graces. Then no more

Shall Vice, distracting their delicious gifts

To aims abhorr'd, with high distaste and scorn

Turn from their charms the philosophic eye,

The patriot-bosom  ; then no more the paths 55

Of public care or intellectual toil,

Alone by footsteps haughty and severe

In gloomy state be trod ; (he harmonious Muse

And her persuasive sisters then shall plant

Their sheltering laurels o'er the bleak ascent, 60

And scatter flowers along the rugged way.

Arm'd with the lyre, already have we dar'd

To pierce divine Philosophy's retreats,

And teach the Muse her lore  ; already strove

Their long-divided honours to unite, 65

While tempering this deep argument we sang

Of Truth and Beauty. Now the same glad task

Impends  ; now urging our ambitious toil,

We hasten to recount the various springs

Of adventitious pleasure3 which adjoin


Their grateful influence to the prime effect

Of objects grand or beauteous, and enlarge

The complicated joy. The sweets of sense.

Do they not oft with kind accession flow,

To raise harmonious Fancy's native charm  ? 75

So while we taste the fragrance of the rose,

Glows not her blush the fairer  ? While we view

Amid the noon-tide walk a limpid rill

Gush thro' the trickling herbage, to the thirst

Of summer yielding the delicious draught 80

Of cool refreshment ; o'er the mossy brink

Shines not the surface clearer, and the waves

With sweeter music murmur as they flow?

Nor this alone  ; the various lot of life Oft from external circumstance assumes 85

A moment's disposition to rejoice In those delights which at a different hour Would pass unheeded. Fair the face of spring, When rural songs and odours wake the morn,


To every eye: but how much more to his 9o

Round whom the bed of sickness long diflus'd Its melancholy gloom  ! how doubly fair, When first with fresh-born vigour he inhales The balmy breeze, and feels the blessed sun Warm at his bosom, from the springs of life 95 Chasing oppressive damps and languid pain!

Or shall I mention, where coelestial Truth Her awful light discloses, to bestow A more majestic pomp on Beauty's frame? For man loves knowledge, and the beams of Truth More welcome touch his understanding's eye, 101 Than all the blandishments of sound his ear, Than all of taste his tongue. Nor ever yet The melting rainbow's vernal-tinctur'd hues To me have shone so pleasing, as when first 105 The hand of Science pointed out the path In which the sun-beams gleaming from the West Fall on the watery cloud, whose darksome veil


Involves the orient ; and that trickling shower

Piercing thro' every crystalline convex 110

Of clustering dew-drops to their flight oppos'd,

Recoil at length where concave are behind

The internal surface of each glassy orb

Repels their forward passage into air ;

That thence direct they seek the radiant goal 115

From which their course began; and as they strike

In different lines the gazer's obvious eye.

Assume a different lustre, tho' the braid

Of colours changing from the splendid rose

To the pale violet's dejected hue. 120

Or shall we touch that kind access of joy, That springs to each fair object, while we trace- Thro' all its fabric, Wisdom's artful aim Disposing e\ery part, and gaining still By means proportion' d her benignant end  ? 125

Speak, ye, the pure delight, whose favour'd steps The lamp of science thro' the jealous maze


Of Nature guides, when haply you reveal

Her secret honours : whether in the sky,

The beauteous laws of light, the central powers 130

That wheel the pensile planets round the year;

Whether in wonders of the rolling deep,

Or the rich fruits of all-sustaining earth,

Or fine-adjusted springs of life and sense,

Ye scan the counsels of their Author's hand. 135

What, when to raise the meditated scene, The flame of passion, thro' the struggling soul Deep-kindled shows across that sudden blaze The object of its rapture, vast of size, With fiercer colours and a night of shade  ? 140

What  ? like a storm from their capacious bed The sounding seas o'erwhelming, when the might Of these eruptions, working from the depth Of man's strong apprehension, shakes his frame Even to the base  ; from every naked sense 145

Of pain or pleasure dissipating all


Opinion's feeble coverings, and the veil

Spun from the cobweb fashion of the times

To hide the feeling heart? Then Nature speaks

Her genuine language and the words of men, 150

Big with the very motion of their souls,

Declare with what accumulated force.

The impetuous nerve of passion urges on

The native weight and energy of things.

Yet more : her honours where nor beauty claims, Nor shows of good the thirsty sense allure, 156 From passion's power alone our nature holds Essential pleasure. Passion's fierce illapse Rouses the mind's own fabric  ; with supplies Of daily impulse keeps the elastic powers 160

Intensely poiz'd, and polishes anew By that collision all the fine machine: Else rust would rise, and foulness, by degrees Incumbering, choke at last, what Heaven design'd For ceaseless motion and a round of toil. 165


— But say, does every passion thus to mau

Administer delight  ? Thai name indeed

Becomes the rosy breath of love  ; becomes

The radiant smiles of joy, the applauding hand

Of admiration  : but tha bitter shower 170

That sorrow sheds upon a brother's grave,

But the dumb palsy of nocturnal fear,

Or those consuming fires that gnaw the heart

Of panting indignation, find we there

To move delight  ? — Then listen while my tongue

The unalter'd will of Heaven with faithful awe 176

Reveals; what old Harmodius wont to teach

My early age; Harmodius, who had weigh'd

Within his learned mind whate'er the schools

Of Wisdom, or thy lonely-whispering voice, 180

O faithful Nature! dictate of the laws

Which govern and support this mighty frame

Of universal being. Oft the hours

From morn to eve have stolen unmark'd away.

While mute attention hung upon his lips, 185

As thus the sage his awful tale began  :


'Twas in the windings of an ancient wood, "When spotless youth with solitude resigns To sweet philosophy the studious day. What time pale Autumn shades the silent eve, 190 Musing I rov'd. Of good and evil much, And much of mortal man my thought revolv'd; When starting full on Fancy's gushing eye The mournful image of Parthenia's fate, That hour, O long belov'd, and long deplor'd  ! 196 When blooming youth, nor gentlest Wisdom's arts, Nor Hymen's honours gather'd for thy brow, Nor all thy lover's, all thy father's tears Avail'd to snatch thee from the cruel grave; Thy agonizing looks, thy last farewell 200

Struck to the inmost feeling of my soul As with the hand of Death. At once the shade More horrid nodded o'er me, and the winds With hoarser murmuring shook the branches. Dark As midnight storms, the scene of human things 205 Appear'd before me; deserts, burning sands,


Where the parch'd adder dies  ; the frozen South,

And desolation blasting all the West

With rapine and with murder : tyrant power

Here sits enthron'd with blood  ; the baleful charms

Of Superstition there infect the skies, 211

And turn the sun to horror. Gracious Heaven  !

What is the life of man  ? Or cannot these,

Not these portents thy awful will suffice  ?

That, propagated thus beyond their scope, 215

They rise to act their cruelties anew

In my afflicted bosom, thus decreed

The universal sensitive pain.

The wretched heirs of evils not his own !

Thus I impatient; when at once efFus'd, 220 A flashing torrent of coelestial day Burst thro' the shadowy void. With slow descent A purple cloud came floating thro' the sky, And pois'd at length within the circling trees, Hung obvious to my view  ; till opening wide 226


Its lucid orb, a more than human form

Emerging lean'd majestic o'er my head.

And instant thunder shook the conscious grove.

Then melted into air the liquid cloud,

Then all the shining vision stood reveal'd. 230

A wreath of palm his ample forehead bound,

And o'er his shoulder, mantling to his knee,

Flow'd the transparent robe, around his waist

Collected with a radiant zone of gold

iEtherial : there in mystic signs engrav'd. 235

I read his office high and sacred name

Genius of human kind. Appall'd I gaz'd

The godlike presence  ; for athwart his brow

Displeasure, temper'd with a mild concern,

Look'd down reluctant on me, and his words 240

Like distant thunders broke the murmuring air*

Vain are thy thoughts, O child of mortal birth ! And impotent thy tongue. Is thy short span Capacious of this universal frame I


Thy wisdom all-sufficient  ? Thou, alas  ! 245

Dost thou aspire to judge between the Lord Of Nature and his works? to lift thy voice Against the sovereign order he decreed, All good and lovely  ? to blaspheme the bands Of tenderness innate and social love, 250

Holiest of things! Jby which the general orb Of being as by adamantine links, Was drawn to perfect union and sustain'd From everlasting? Hast thou felt the pangs Of softening sorrow, of indignant zeal 255

So grievous to the soul, as (hence to wish The ties of Nature broken from thy frame  ; That so thy selfish, unrelenting heart Might cease to mourn its lot, no longer then The wretched heir of evils not its own  ? 260

O fair benevolence of generous minds  ! O man by Nature form'd for all mankind!

He spoke  ; abash'd and silent I remain'd, As conscious of my tongue's offence, and aw'd


Before his presence, tho' my secret soul 265

Disdain'd the imputation. On the ground

I fix'd my eyes ; till from his airy couch

He stoop'd sublime, and touching with his hand

My dazzling forehead, Raise thy sight, he cried,

And let thy sense convince thy erring tongue. 270

I look'd, and lo! the former scene was chang'd; For verdant alleys and surrounding trees, A solitary prospect, wide and wild, Rush'd on my senses. 'Twas an horrid pile Of hills with many a shaggy forest mix'd, 275

With many a sable cliff and glittering stream. Aloft recumbent o'er the hanging ridge, The brown woods wav'd; while ever trickling springs Wash'd from the naked roots of oats and pine The crumbling soil ; and still at every fall 280

Down the steep windings of the channell'd rock, Remurmuring rush'd the congregated floods With hoarser inundation \ till at last


They reach'd a grassy plain, which from the skirts Of that high desert spread her verdant lap, 285 And drank the gushing moisture, where confin'd In one smooth current, o'er the lilied vale Clearer than glass it flow'd. Autumnal spoils Luxuriant spreading to the rays of morn, t

Blush'd o'er the cliffs, whose half-encircling mound As in a sylvan theatre enclos'd 291

That flowery level. On the river's brink I spy'd a fair pavilion jAvhich diffus'd Its floating umbrage 'mid the silver shade Of osiers. Now the western sun reveal'd 295

Between two parting cliffs his golden orb, And pour'd across the shadow of the hills, On rocks and floods, a yellow stream of light That cheer'd the solemn scene. M\ listening powers Were aw'd, and every thought in silence hung, 300 And wondering expectation. Then the voice Of that celestial power3 the mystic show Declaring, thus my deep attention calPd.


Inhabitant of earth, to whom is given The gracious ways of Providence to learn, 305

Receive my sayings with a stedfast ear — Know then, the sov'reign spirit of the world, Though, self-collected from eternal time, Within his own deep essence he beheld The bounds of true felicity complete; 310

Yet by immense benignity inclin'd To spread around him that primaeval joy Which fill'd himself, he rais'd his plastic arm And sounded through the hollow depth of space The strong, creative mandate. Straight arose 315 These heavenly orbs, the glad abodes of life Effusive kindled by his breath divine Through endless forms of being. Each inhal'd From him its portion of the vital flame, In measure such, that, from the wide complex 320 Of co-existent orders, one might rise, One order, all-involving and entire. He too beholding in the sacred light


Of his essential reason, all the shapes

Of swift contingence, all successive ties 325

Of action propagated through the sum

Of possible existence, he at once,

Down the long series of eventful time

So fix'd the dates of being, so dispos'd,

To every living soul of every kind 330

The field of motion and the hour of rest,

That all conspir'd to his supreme design,

To universal good : with full accord

Answering the mighty model he had chosen,

The best and fairest of unnumber'd worlds 335

That lay from everlasting in the store

Of his divine conceptions. Nor content,

By one exertion of creative power

His goodness to reveal ; through every age,

Through every moment up the tract of time 340

His parent-hand with ever-new increase

Of happiness and virtue has adorn'd

The vast harmonious frame ; his parent-hand,


From the mute shell-fish gasping on the shore, To men, to angels, to coelestial minds, 345

For ever leads the generations on To higher scenes of being ; while supply'd From day to day with his enlivening breath. Inferior orders in succession rise To fill the void below. As flame ascends, 350

As bodies to their proper centre move, As the pois'd ocean to the attracting moon Obedient swells, and every headlong stream Devolves its winding waters to the main ; So all things which have life aspire to God, 355 The sun of being, boundless, unimpair'd, Centre of souls  ! Nor does the faithful voice Of Nature cease to prompt their eager steps Aright : nor is the care of Heaven withheld From granting to the task proportion'd aid ; 360 That in their stations all may persevere To climb the ascent of being, and approach For ever nearer to the life divine. k2


That rocky pile thou seest, that verdant lawn Fresh-water'd from the mountains. Let the scene Paint in tliy fancy the primaeval seat 366

Of man, and where the will supreme ordain'd His mansion, that pavilion fair diffus'd Along the shady Drink  ! in this recess To wear the appointed season of his youth, 370

Till riper hours should open to his toil The high communion of superior minds. Of consecrated Heroes and of Gods. Nor did the Sire Omnipotent forget His tender bloom to cherish  ; nor withheld 375 Ccelestial footsteps from his green abode. Oft from the radiant honours of his throne, He sent whom most he lovM the sov'reign fair, The effluence of his glory, whom he plac'd Before his eyes for ever to behold ; 380

The goddess from whose inspiration flows The toil of patriots, the delight of friends  ; Without whose work divine, in heaven or earth,


Nought lovely, nought propitious comes to pass.

Nor hopes, nor praise, nor honour. Her the Sire 385

Gave it in charge to rear the blooming mind,

The folded powers to open, to direct

The growth luxuriant of his young desires.

And from the laws of this majestic world

To teach him what was good. As thus the nymph

Her daily care attended, by her side 391

With constant steps her gay companion stay'd,

The fair Euphrosyne, the gentle queen

Of smiles, and graceful gladness, and delights

That cheer alike the hearts of mortal men 395

And powers immortal. See the shining pair  !

Behold, where from his dwelling now disclos'd

They quit their youthful charge and seek the skies.

I look'd, and on the flowery turf there stood Between two radiant forms a smiling youth 400 Whose tender cheeks display'd the vernal flower Of beauty \ sweetest innocence illum'd


His bashful eyes, and on his polish'd brow

Sat young simplicity. With fond regard

He viewed the associates, as their steps they mov'd;

The younger chief his ardent eyes detain'd 40.6

With mild regret invoking her return.

Bright as the star of evening she appear'd

Amid the dusky scene. Eternal youth

O^er all her form its glowing honours breath'd  ; 410

And smiles eternal from her candid eyes

Flow'd like the dewy lustre of the morn

Effusive trembling on the placid waves.

The spring of heaven had shed its blushing spoils

To bind her sable tresses: full diffus'd 415

Her yellow mantle floated in the breeze  ;

And in her hand she wav'd a living branch

Rich with immortal fruits, of power to calm

The wrathful heart, and from the brightening eyes

To chase the cloud of sadness. More sublime 420

The heavenly partner mov'd. The prime of age

Composed her steps. The presence of a god,


High on the circle of her brow enthron'd.

From each majestic motion darted awe,

Devoted awe ! till, cherish'd by her looks 425

Benevolent and meek, confiding love

To filial rapture soften'd all the soul.

Free in her graceful hand she poisM the sword

Of chaste dominion. An heroic crown

Display'd the whole simplicity of pomp 430

Around her honour'd head, A matron's robe

White as the sunahine streams through vernal clouds

Her stately form invested. Hand in hand

The immortal pair forsook the enamell'd green.

Ascending slowly. Rays of limpid light 435

Gleam'd round their path; coelestiai sounds were heard,

And through the fragrant air aetherial dews

Distill'd around them  ; till at once the clouds .

Disparting wide in midway sky, withdrew

Their airy veil, and left a bright expanse 440

Of empyrean flame, where spent aud drown'd,

Afflicted vision plung'd in vain to scan,


What object it involv'd. My feeble eyes Endur'd not. Bending down to earth I stood, With dumb attention. Soon a female voice, 445 As watery murmurs sweet, or warbling shades, With sacred invocation thus began  :

Father of gods and mortals  ! whose right arm With reins eternal guides the moving heavens, Bend thy propitious ear. Behold well-pleas'd 450 I seek to finish thy divine decree. With frequent steps I visit yonder seat Of man; thy offspring ; from the tender seeds Of justice and of wisdom to evolve The latent honours of his generous frame  ; 455

Till thy conducting hand shall raise his lot From earth's dim scene to those aetherial walks, The temple of thy glory. But not me Not my directing voice he oft requires, Or hears delighted : this enchanting maid, 460

The associate thou hast given me, her alone


He loves, O Father I absent, her he craves ^

And but for her glad presence ever join'dj

Rejoices not in mine  : that all my hopes

This my benignant purpose to fulfil, 465

I deem uncertain  : and my daily cares

Unfruitful all and vain, unless by Thee

Still farther aided in the work divine.

She ceas'd  ; a voice more awful thus replied : O thou ! in whom for ever I delight, 470

Fairer than all the inhabitants of heaven. Best image of thy author ! far from thee Be disappointment, or distaste, or blame ; Who soon or late shall every work fulfil, And no resistance find. If man refuse 475

To hearken to thy dictates ; or allur'd By meaner joys, to any other power Transfer the honours due to thee alone; That joy which he pursues he ne'er shall taste. That power in whom delighteth ne'er behold. 480



Go then  ! once more, and happy be thy toil;

Go then  ! but let not this thy smiling friend

Partake thy footsteps. In her stead, behold!

With thee the son of Nemesis I send ;

The fiend abhorr'd ! whose vengeance takes account

Of sacred order's violated laws. 486

See where he calls thee, burning to be gone,

Fierce to exhaust the tempest of his wrath

On yon devoted head. But thou, my child,

Control his cruel frenzy, and protect 490

Thy tender charge, that when despair shall grasp

His agonizing bosom, he may learn,

Then he may learn to love the gracious hand

Alone sufficient in the hour of ill,

To save his feeble spirit ; then confess 495

Thy genuine honours, O excelling fair!

When all the plagues that wait the deadly will

Of this avenging daemon, all the storms

Of night infernal, serve but to display

The energy of thy superior charms 500


With mildest awe triumphant o'er his rage, And shining clearer in the horrid gloonu

Here ceas'd that awful voice, and soon I felt The cloudy curtain of refreshing eve Was clos'd once more, from that immortal fire 505 Sheltering my eyelids. Looking up, I view'd A vast gigantic spectre striding on Thro' murmuring thunders and a waste of clouds^ With dreadful action. Black as night his brow Relentless frowns involved. His savage limbs 510 With sharp impatience violent he writh'd. As through convulsive anguish; and his handr Arm'd with a scorpion-lash, full oft he rais'd In madness to his bosom ; while his eyes Rain'd bitter tears, and bellowing loud he shook 515 The void with horror. Silent by his side The virgin came. No discomposure stirr'd Her features. From the glooms which hung around No stain of darkness mingled with the beam


Of her divine effulgence. Now they stoop 520 Upon the river-bank  ; and now to hail His wonted guests, with eager steps advanc'd The unsuspecting inmate of the shade.

As when a famish'd wolf, that all night long Had rang'd the Alpine snows, by chance at morn Sees from a cliff incumbent o'er the smoke 5*2,6

Of some lone village, a neglected kid That strays along the wiid for herb or spring  ; Down from the winding ridge he sweeps amain, And thinks he tears him : so with tenfold rage, 530 The monster sprung remorseless on his prey. Amaz'd the stripling stood  : with panting breast Feebly he pour'd the lamentable wail Of helpless consternation, struck at once, And rooted to the ground. The queen beheld 535 His terror, and with looks of tenderest care Advanc'd to save him. Soon the tyrant felt Her awful power. His keen; tempestuous arm


Hung nerveless, nor descended where his rage Had aim'd the deadly blow : then dumb retir'd With sullen rancour. Lo  ! the sovereign maid 541 Folds with a mother's arms the fainting boy5 Till life rekindles in his rosy cheek  ; Then grasps his handstand cheers him with her tongue.

Oh wake thee, rouze thy spirit ! Shall the spite Of yon tormentor thus appal thy heart, 546

While I, thy friend and guardian, am at hand To rescue and to heal? Oh let thy soul Remember what the will of heaven ordains Is ever good for all ; and if for all, 550

Then good for thee. Nor only by the warmth And soothing sunshine of delightful things, Do minds grow up and flourish. Oft misled By that bland light, the young unpractis'd views Of reason wander through a fatal road, 555

Far from their native aim : as if to lie Inglorious in the fragrant shade^ and wait


The soft access of ever circling joys,

Were all the end of being. Ask thyself,

This pleasing error did it never lull 560

Thy wishes  ? Has thy constant heart refus'd

The silken fetters of delicious ease  ?

Or when divine Euphrosyne appear'd

Within this dwelling, did not thy desires

Hang far below the measure of thy fate, 565

Which I reveal'd before thee  ? and thy eyes,

Impatient of my counsels, turn away

To drink the soft effusion of her smiles  ?

Know then, for this the everlasting Sire

Deprives thee of her presence, and instead, 570

O wise and still benevolent ! ordains

This horrid visage hither to pursue

Thy steps  ; that so thy nature may discern

Its real good, and what alone can save

Thy feeble spirit in this hour of ill 575

From folly and despair. O yet belov'd !

Let not this headlong terror quite o'erwhelm


Thy scatter'd powers  ; nor fatal deem the rage

Of this tormentor, nor his proud assault,

While I am here to vindicate thy toil, 580

Above the generous question of thy arm.

Brave by thy fears, and in thy weakness strong

This hour he triumphs  : but confront his might,

And dare him to the combat, then with ease

Disarm'd and quell'd, his fierceness he resigns 585

To bondage and to scorn : while thus enur'd

By watchful danger, by unceasing toil,

The immortal mind, superior to his fate,

Amid the outrage of external things,

Firm as the solid base of this great world, 590

Rests on his own foundations. Blow, ye winds !

Ye waves I ye thunders ! roll your tempest on ;

Shake, ye old pillars of the marble sky  !

Till all its orbs and all its worlds of fire

Be loosen'd from their seats  ; yet still serene, 595

The unconquer'd mind looks down upon the wreck;

And ever stronger as the storms advance,


Firm through the closing ruin holds his way, Where Nature calls him to the destin'd goal.

So spake the goddess ; while through all her frame Ccelestial raptures flow'd, in every word, 601

In every motion kindling warmth divine To seize who listen'd. Vehement and swift As lightning fires the aromatic shade In ^Ethiopian fields, the stripling felt 605

Her inspiration catch his fervid soul. And starting from his languor thus exclaim'd  :

Then let the trial come ! and witness thou, If terror be upon mc; if I shrink To meet the storm, or faulter in my strength 610 When hardest it besets me. Do not think That I am fearful and infirm of soul, As late thy eyes beheld  : for thou hast chang'd My nature  ; thy commanding voice has wak'd My languid powers to bear me boldly on, 61 &


Where'er the will divine my path ordains Through toil or peril : only do not thou Forsake me  ; Oh be thou for ever near, . That I may listen to thy sacred voice. And guide by thy decrees my constant feet 620 But say? for ever are my eyes bereft  ? Say, shall the fair Euphrosyne not once Appear again to charm me  ? Thou, in heaven  ! O thou eternal Arbiter of things ! Be thy great bidding done  : for who am I, 625 To question thy appointment  ? Let the frowns Of this avenger every morn o'ercast The cheerful dawn, and every evening damp With double night my dwelling  ; I will learn To hail them both, and unrepining bear 630

His hateful presence  ; but permit my tongue One glad request, and if my deeds may find Thy awful eye propitious, oh restore The rosy-featur'd maid  ; again to cheer This lonely seat, and bless me with her smiles. 635


He spoke  ; when instant thro' the sable glooms With which that furious presence had involv'd The ambient air, a flood of radiance came Swift as the lightning flash  ; the melting clouds Flew diverse, and amid the blue serene 6 40

Euphros) ne appear'd. With sprightly step The nymph alighted on the irriguous lawn, And to her wondering audience thus began  ;

Lo  ! I am h^re to answer to your vows, And be the meeting fortunate  ! I come 645

With joyful tidings  ; we shall part no more — Hark ! how the gentle Echo from her cell Talks thro' the cliffs, and murmuring o'er the stream Repeats the accents, We shall part no more. O my delightful friends  ! well pleas'd on high 650 The Father has beheld you, while the might Of that stern foe with bitter trial prov'd Your equal doings  ; then for ever spake The high decree: That thou, celestial maid I


Howe'er that grisly phantom on thy steps 655

May sometimes dare intrude, yet never more Shalt thou, descending to the abode of man, Alone endure the rancour of his arm. Or leave thy lov'd Euphrosyne behind*

She ended  : and the whole romantic scene 660 Immediate vanished  ; rocks, and woods, and rills. The mantling tent, and each mysterious form, Flew like the pictures of a morning dream, When sun-shine fills the bed. Awhile I stood Perplex'd and giddy  ; till the radiant power 66$ Who bade the visionary landscape rise, As up to him I turn'd, with gentlest looks Preventing my inquiry, thus began  :

There let thy soul acknowledge its complaint How blind, how impious  ! There behold theways Of Heaven's eternal destiny to man, 67l

For ever just, benevolent, and wise  ; j2


That Virtue's awful steps, howe'er pursued

By vexing Fortune and intrusive Pain,

Should never be divided from her chaste, 675

Her fair attendant, Pleasure. Need I urge

Thy tardy thought thro' all the various round

Of this existence, that thy softening soul

At length may learn what energy the hand

Of Virtue mingles in the bitter tide 680

Of Passion swelling with Distress and Pain,

To mitigate the sharp with gracious drops

Of cordial Pleasure  ? Ask the faithful youth,

Why the cold urn of her whom long he lov'd

So often fills his arms  ; so often draws 685

His lonely footsteps at the silent hour.

To pay the mournful tribute of his tears  ?

Oh  ! he will tell thee, that the wealth of world*

Should ne'er seduce his bosom to forego

That sacred hour, when, stealing from the noise 660

Of care and envy, sweet remembrance sooths

With Virtue's kindest looks his aching breast,


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And turns his tears to rapture, — Ask the crowd

Which flies impatient from the village walk

To climb the neighbouring cliffs, when far below

The cruel winds have hurl'd upon the coast 69Q

Some helpless bark  ; while sacred Pity melts

The general eye, or Terror's icy hand

Smites their distorted limbs and horrent hair ;

While every mother closer to her breast 700~

Catches her child3 and pointing wrhere the waves

Foam thro' the shatter'd vessel, shrieks aloud,

As one poor wretch that spreads his piteous arms

For succour, swallow'd by the roaring surge,

As now another, dash'd against the rock, 705

Drops lifeless down  : Oh  ! deemest thou indeed

No kind endearment here by -Nature given

To mutual Terror and Compassion's tears  ?

No sweetly-melting softness which attracts,

O'er all that edge of pain, the social powers 710

To this their proper action and their end  ?

i — Ask thy own heart ; w hen at the midnight hour


Slow thro' that studious gloom thy pausing eye

Led by the glimmering taper moves around

The sacred volumes of the dead, the songs 715

Of Grecian bards, and records writ by Fame

For Grecian heroes, where the present Power

Of heaven and earth surveys the immortal page,

Even as a father blessing, while he reads

The praises of his son. If then thy soul, 720

Spurning the yoke of these inglorious days,

Mix in their deeds, and kindle with their ilame  ;

Say, when the prospect blackens on thy view,

When rooted from the base, heroic states

Mourn in the dust, and tremble at the frown 7%5

Of curs'd ambition  ; when the pious band

Of youths who fought for freedom and their sires.

Lie side by side in gore ; when ruflian pride

Usurps the throne of justice, turns the pomp

Of public power, the majesty of rule, 730

The sword, the laurel, and the purple robe,

To slavish empty pageants, to adorn


A tyrant's walk, and glitter in the eyes Of such as bow the knee  ; when honour'd urns Of patriots and of chiefs, the awful bust 735

And storied arch, to glut the coward-rage Of regal envy, strew the public way With hallow'd ruins  ; when the Muse's haunt, The marble porch where Wisdom wont to talk With Socrates or Tully, hears no more, 740

Save the hoarse jargon of contentious monks, Or female Superstition's midnight prayer  ; When ruthless Rapine from the hand of Time Tears the destroying scythe, with surer blow To sweep the works of glory from their base  ; 745 Till Desolation o'er the grass-grown street Expands his raven-wings, and up the wall, Where senates once the price of monarchs doom'd, Hisses the gliding snake thro' hoary weeds Tiiat clasp the mouldering column  ; thus defae'd, Thus widely mournful when the prospect thrills Thy beating bosom, when the patriot's tear 751


Starts from thine eye, and thy extended arm

In fancy hurls the thunderbolt of Jove

To fire the impious wreath on Philip's brow, 755

Or dash Octavius from the trophied car  ;

Say, does thy secret soul repine to taste

The big distress  ? Or wouldst thou then exchange

Those heart-ennobling sorrows for the lot

Of him who sits amid the gaudy herd 760

Of mute barbarians bending to his nod,

And bears aloft his gold-invested front,

And says within himself, "lama king,

(i And wherefore should the clamorous voice of woe

66 Intrude upon mine car  ? — " The baleful dregs

Of these late ages, this inglorious draught 766

Of servitude and folly, have not yet,

Blest be the eternal Ruler of the World  !

Defil'dto such a depth of sordid shame

The native honours of the human soul, 770

JVor so effac'd the image of its Sire.





THE pleasure of observing the tempers and manners of meft, even where vicious or absurd. — The origin of vice, from false representations of the fancy, producing false opinions concerning good and evil. — Inquiry into ridicule. — The gene- ral sources of ridicule in the minds and characters of men enu- merated.— Final cause of the sense of ridicule. — The resem- blance of certain aspects of inanimate things to the sensations and properties of the mind. The operations of the mind in the production of the works of the imagination, described. — The secondary pleasure from imitation. — The benevolent order of the world illustrated in the arbitrary connection of these pleasures with the objects which exite them. — The nature and conduct of taste. — Concluding with an account of the natural and moral advantages resulting from a sensible and well- formed imagination.






VV HAT wonder therefore, since the endearing ties Of passion link the universal kind Of man so close, what wonder if to search This common Nature thro' the various change Of sex, and age, and fortune, and the frame 5

Of each peculiar, draw the busy mind With unresisted charms  : The spacious West, And all the teeming regions of the South Hold not a quarry, to the curious flight Of knowledge, hajf so tempting or so fair, 10


As man to man. Nor only where the smiles

Of love invite  ; nor only where the applause

Of cordial honour turns the attentive eye

On Virtue's graceful deeds. For since the course

Of things external acts in different ways 15

On human apprehensions, as the hand

Of Nature temper'd to a different frame

Peculiar minds ; so haply where the powers

Of Fancy neither lessen nor enlarge

The images of things, but paint in all 20

Their genuine hues, the features which they wore

In Nature  ; there Opinion will be true,

And Action right. For Action treads the path

In which Opinion says he follows good.

Or flies from evil  ; and Opinion gives 25

Report of good or evil, as the scene

Was drawn by Fancy, lovely or deform'd:

Thus her report can never there be true

Where Fancy cheats the intellectual eye

With glaring colours and distorted lines. 30


Is there a man who at the sound of death

Sees ghastly shapes of Terror conjur'd up,

And black before him  ; nought but death-bed groans

And fearful prayers, and plunging from the brink

Of light and being, down the gloomy air 35

An unknown depth  ? Alas  ! in such a mind

If no bright forms of excellence attend

The image of his country  ; nor the pomp

Of sacred senates, nor the guardian voice

Of Justice on her throne, nor aught that wakes 40

The conscious bosom with a patriot's flame ;

Will not Opinion tell him, that to die,

Or stand the hazard, is a greater ill

Than to betray hh country  ? And in act

Will he not choose to be a wretch, and live  ? 45

Here Vice begins then. From the enchanting cup

Which Fancy holds to all, the unwary thirst

Of youth oft swallows a Circean draught,

That sheds a baneful tincture o'er the eye

Of Reason, till no longer he discerns, 50


And only guides to err. Then revel forth

A furious band that spurn him from the throne!

And all is uproar. Thus Ambition grasps

The empire of the soul : thus pale Revenge 54

Unsheaths her murderous dagger; and the hands

Of Lust and Rapine, with unholy arts,

Watch to o'erturh the barrier of the laws

That keeps them from their prey  : thus all the plagues

The wicked bear, or o'er the trembling scene

The Tragic Muse discloses, under shapes t)0

Of honour, safety, pleasure, ease, or pomp,

Stole first into the mind. Yet not by all

Those lying forms which Fancy in the brain

Engenders, are the kindling passions driven

To guilty deeds  ; nor Reason bound in chains, C5

That Vice alone may lord it : oft adorn'd

With solemn pageants, Folly mounts the throne,

And plays her idiot antics, like a queen.

A thousand garbs she wears  ; a thousand ways

She wheels her giddy empire. — Lo  ! thus far 70


With bold adventure, to the Mantuan lyre

I sing of Nature's charms, and touch well-pleas' d

A stricter note  : now haply must my song

Unbend her serious measure, and reveal

In lighter strains, how Folly's awkward arts 75

Excite impetuous Laughter's gay rebuke  ;

The sportive province of the Comic Muse.

See  ! in what crowds the uncouth forms advance  : Each would outstrip the other, each prevent Our careful search, and offer to your gaze, 80

Unask'd, his motley features. Wait awhile, My curious friends  ! and let us first arrange In proper order your promiscuous throng.

Behold the foremost band  ; of slender thought, And easy faith ; whom nattering Fancy sooths 85 With lying spectres, in themselves to view Illustrious forms of excellence and good, That scorn the mansion. With exulting hearts


They spread their spurious treasures to the sun. And bid the world admire  ! but chief the glance 90 Of wilful Envy draws their joy-bright eyes, And lifts with self-applause each lordly brow. In numbers boundless as the blooms of spring. Behold their glaring idols, empty shades By Fancy gilded o'er, and then set up 95

For adoration. Some in Learning's garb, With formal band, and sable-cinctured gown, And rags of mouldy volumes. Some elate "With martial splendor, steely pikes and swords Of costly frame, and gay Phoenician robes 100

Inwrought with flowery gold, assume the port Of stately Valour  : listening by his side There stands a female form  ; to her, Avith looks Of earnest import, pregnant with amaze, He talks of deadly deeds, of breaches, storms, 105 And sulphurous mines, and ambush  : then at once Breaks off, and smiles to see her look so pale, And asks some wondering question of her fears*

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Others of graver mien ; behold, adorn'd

With holy ensigns, how sublime they move, 110

Asid bending oft their sanctimonious eyes

Take homage of the simple-minded throng  ;

Ambassadors of heaven  ! Nor much unlike

Is he whose visage, in the lazy mist

That mantles every feature, hides a brood 115

Of politic conceits  ; of whispers, nods,

And hints deep omen'd with un wieldly schemes,

And dark portents of state, ten thousand more

Prodigious habits and tumultuous tongues.

Pour dauntless in, and swell the boastful band. 120

Then comes the second order ; all who seek The debt of praise, where watchful unbelief Darts through the thin pretence her squinting eye On some retir'd appearance which belies The boasted virtue, or annuls the applause 125 That justice else would pay. Here side by side I see two leaders of the solemn train


Approaching  : one a female old and grey.

With eyes demure, and wrinkle furrow'd brow,

Pale as the cheeks of death  ; yet still she stuns 130

The sickening audience with a nauseous tale,

How many youths her myrtle-chains have worn,.

How many virgins at her triumphs pin'd  !

Yet how resolv'd she guards her cautious heart ;

Such is her terror at the risques of love, 135

And man's seducing tongue! The other seems

A bearded sage, ungentle in his mien,

And sordid all his habit ; peevish want

Grins at his heels, while down the gazing throng

He stalks, resounding in magnific phrase 140

The vanity of riches, the contempt

Of pomp and power. Be prudent in your zeal,

Ye grave associates  ! let the silent grace

Of her who blushes at the fond regard

Her charms inspire, more eloquent unfold 145

The praise of spotless honour  : let the man

Whose eye regards not his illustrious pomp


And ample store, but as indulgent streams

To cheer the barren soil and spread the fruits

Of joy, let him by juster measures fix 150

The price of riches and the end of power*

Another tribe succeeds ; deluded long

By Fancy's dazzling optics, these behold

The images of some peculiar things

With brighter hues resplendent, and pourtray'd 155

With features nobler far than e'er adorn'd

Their genuine objects. Hence the fever'd heart

Pants with delirious hope for tinsel charms ;

'Hence oft obtrusive on the eye of scorn,

Untimely zeal her witless pride betrays ! 160

And serious manhood from the towering aim

Of Wisdom, stoops to emulate the boast

Of childish toil. Behold yon mystic form,

Bedeck'd with feathers, insects, weeds, and shells !

Not with intenser view the Samian sage 165

Cent his fix'd eye on heaven's intenser fires, ii 2


When first the order of that radiant scene

Swell'd his exulting thought, than this surreys

A muckworm's entrails or a spider's fang.

Next him a youth, with flowers and myrtles crown'd,

Attends that virgin form, and blushing kneels, 171

With fondest gesture and a suppliant's tongue,

To win her coy regard : adieu, for him,

The dull engagements of the bustling world  !

Adieu the sick impertinence of praise  ! 175

And hope and action! for with her alone,

By streams and shades, to steal these sighing hours,

Is all he asks, and all that fate can give  !

Thee too, facetious Momion^ wandering here,

Thee, dreaded censor, oft have I beheld 180

Bewilder'd unawares: alas! too long

Flush'd with thy comic triumphs and the spoils

Of sly derision  ! till on every side

Hurling thy random bolts, offended truth

Assign'd thee here thy station with the slaves 185

Of folly. . Thy once formidable name


Shall grace her humble records, and be heard

In scoffs and mockery bandied from the lips

Of all the vengeful brotherhood around,

So oft the patient victims of thy scorn. ISO

But now, ye gay  ! to whom indulgent fate, Of all the Muses' empire hath assign'd The fields of folly, hither each advance Your sickles ; here the teeming soil affords Its richest growth. A favourite brood appears ; 1$5 In whom -the daemon, with a mother's joy, Views all her charms reflected, all her cares At full repaid. Ye most illustrious band  ! Who, scorning reason's tame, pedantic rules, And order's vulgar bondage, never meant 200

For souls sublime as yours, with generous zeal Pay Vice the reverence Virtue long usurp'd, And yield Deformity the fond applause Which Beauty wont to claim  ; forgive my song* That for the blushing diffidence of youth, 205

It shuns the unequal province of your praise.


Thus far triumphant in the pleasing guile Of bland imagination, folly's train Havedar'd our search: but now a dastard-kind Advance reluctant, and with faultering feet 210

Shrink from the gazer's eye  : enfeebled hearts Whom Fancy chills with visionary fears, Or bends to servile tameness with conceits', Of shame, of evil, or of base defect, Fantastic and delusive. Here the slave 215

Who drops abash'd when sullen pomp surveys His humbler habit \ here the trembling wretch Unnerv'd and struck with terror's icy bolts, Spent in weak wailings, drown'd in shameful tears, At every dream of danger ; here subdu'd 220

By frontless laughter and the hardy scorn Of old, unfeeling vice, the abject soul, Who blushing half resigns the candid praise Of temperance and honour  ; half disowns A freeman's hatred of tyrannic pride  ; 225

And hears with sickly smiles the venal mouth With foulest licence mock the patriot's name.

off Imagination. 99


Last of the motley bands on whom the power Of gay derision bends her hostile aim. Is that where shameful ignorance presides. 230

Beneath her sordid banners, lo  ! they march, Like blind and lame. Whate'er their doubtful hands Attempt, confusion straight appears behind. And troubles all the work. Through many amaze, Perplex' d they struggle, changing every path, 235 O'erturning every purpose  ; then at last Sit down dismayed, and leave the entangled scene For scorn to sport with. Such then is the abode Of Folly in the mind  ; and such the shapes In which she governs her obsequious train* 24Q

Through every scene of ridicule in things To lead the tenor of my devious lay  ; Through every swift occasion which the hand Of laughter points at, when the mirthful sting Distends her sallying nerves and choaks her tongue ^ What were it but to count each crystal drop 24®


Which Morning's dewy fingers on the blooms Of May distil  ? Suffice it to have said, Where'er the power of ridicule displays Her quaint-eyrd visage, some incongruous form, 250 Some stubborn dissonance of things combin'd Strikes on the quick observer : whether Pomp, Or Praise, or Beauty, mix their partial claim Where sordid fashions, where ignoble deeds, Where foul deformity, are wont to dwell ; 255

Or whether these with violation loath'd, Invade resplendent Pomp's imperious mien, The charms of Beauty, or the boast of Praise*

Ask we for what fair end, the Almighty Sire In mortal bosoms wakes this gay contempt, 260 These grateful stings of laughter, from disgust Educing pleasure^? Wherefore but to aid The tardy steps of reason, and at once By this prompt impulse urge us to depress The giddy aims of folly  ?. Though the light 2C5


Of Truth slow dawning on the inquiring mindy At length unfolds, through many a subtle tier How these uncouth disorders end at last In public evil ! yet benignant Heaven, Conscious how dim the dawn of Truth appears 270 To thousands  ;. conscious what a scanty pause From labours and from care, the wider lot Of humble life affords for studious thought To scan the maze of nature  ; therefore stamp'd The glaring scenes with characters of scorn, 275

As broad, as obvious, to the passing clown, As to the letter'd sage's curious eye.

Such are the various aspects of the mind — Some heavenly genius, whose unclouded thoughts Attain that secret harmony which blends 280

The aetherial spirit with its mould of clay  ; Oh  ! teach me to reveal the grateful charm That searchless Nature o'er the sense of man Diffuses, to behold, in lifeless things,


The inexpressive semblance of himself, 285

Of thought and passion. Mark the sable woods That shade sublime yon mountain's nodding brow  ; With what religious awe the solemn scene Commands your steps  ! as if the reverend form Of Minos or of Numa should forsake 290

The Elysian seats, and down the embowering glade Move to your pausing eye  ! Behold the expanse Of yon gay landscape, where the silver clouds Flit o'er the heavens before the sprightly breeze  : Now their grey cincture skirts the doubtful sun; Now streams of splendor, through their opening veil Effulgent, sweep from off the gilded lawn The aerial shadows  ; on the curling brook. And on the shady margin's quivering leaves With quickest lustre glancing, while you view 306 The prospect, say, within your cheerful breast Plays not the lively sense of winning mirth With clouds and sun-shine chequer'd, while the round Of .social converse, to the inspiring tonguo


Of some gay nymph amid her subject train, 305 Moves all obsequious  ? Whence is this effect, This kindred power of such discordant things  ? Or flows their semblance from that mystic tone To which the new-born mind's harmonious powers At first were strung? Or rather from the links 310 Which artful custom twines around her frame  ?

For when the different images of things By chance combin'd, have struck the attentive soul With deeper impulse, or, connected long. Have drawn her frequent eye  ; howe'er distinct 315 The external scenes, yet oft the ideas gain From that conjunction an eternal tie, And sympathy unbroken. Let the mind Recall one partner of the various league, Immediate, lo  ! the firm confederates rise, 320

And each his former station straight resumes : One movement governs the consenting throng. And all at once with rosy pleasure shine,


Or all are sadden'd with the glooms of care. 'Twas thus, if ancient fame the truth unfold, 325 Two faithful needles, from the informing touch Of the same parent-stone, together drew Its mystic virtue, and at first conspir'd "With fatal impulse quivering to the pole: Then tho' disjoint! by kingdoms tho' the main RolPd its broad surge betwixt, and different stars 331 Beheld their wakeful motions, yet preserved The former friendship, and remember'd still The alliance of their birth: whate'cr the line Which one possess'd, nor pause, nor quiet knew 335 The sure associate, ere with trembling speed He found its path, and fixed unerring there. Such is the secret union, when we feel A song, a flower, a name, at once restore 339

Those long- connected scenes where first they mov'd The attention : backward through her mazy walks Guiding the wanton fancy to her scope, To temples, courts^ or fields ; with all the band


Of painted forms, of passions and designs Attendant : whence, if pleasing in itself, 345

The prospect from that sweet accession gains Redoubled influence o'er the listening mind.

By these mysterious ties the busy power Of memory her ideal train preserves Entire; or when they would elude her watch, 350 Reclaims their fleeting footsteps from the waste Of dark oblivion  ; thus collecting all The various forms of being to present. Before the curious aim of mimic art, Their largest choice  : like spring's unfolded blooms Exhaling sweetness, that the skilful bee 356

May taste at will, from their selected s poils To work her dulcet food. For not the expanse Of living lakes in summer's noon-tide claim, Reflects the bordering shade, and sun-bright heavens With fairer semblance  ; not the sculptur'd gold 361 More faithful keeps the graver's lively trace3


Than he whose birth the sister powers of art Propitious view'd, and from his genial star Shed influence to the seeds of fancy kind  ; 365 Than his attempered bosom must preserve The seal of Nature. There along unchang'd, Her form remains. The balmy walks of May There breathe perennial sweets  : the trembling chord Resounds for ever in the abstracted ear, 370

Melodious  : and the virgin's radiant eye, Superior to disease, to grief, and time. Shines with unbating lustre. Thus at length Endow 'd with all that nature can bestow. The child of fancy oft in silence bends 375

O'er these mixt treasures of his pregnant breast, With conscious pride. From them he oft resolves To frame he knows not what excelling things ; And win he knows not what sublime reward Of praise and wonder. By degrees, the mind 380 Feels her young nerves dilate  : the plastic powers Labour for action  : blind emotions heave


His bosom  ; and with loveliest frenzy caught,

From earth to heaven he rolls his daring eye,

From heaven to earth. Anon ten thou and shapes,.

Like specters trooping to the wizard's call, 386

Flit swift before him. From the womb of earth,

From ocean's bed they come  : the eternal heavens

Disclose their splendours, and the dark abyss

Pours out her births unknown. With fixed gaze 390

He marks the rising phantoms. Now compares

Their different forms  ; now blends them, now divides,

Enlarges, and extenuates by turns  ;

Opposes, ranges in fantastic bands,

And infinitely varies. Hither now, 395

Now thither fluctuates his inconstant aim,

With endless choice perplex'd. At length his plan

Begins to open. Lucid order dawrns  ;

And as from Chaos old the jarring seeds

Of Nature at the voice divine repair'd 400

Each to its place, till rosy earth unveil'd

Her fragrant bosom, and the joyful sua


Sprung up the blue serene  ; by swift degrees

Thus disentangled, his entire design

Emerges. Colours mingle, features join, 405

And lines converge  : the fainter parts retire  :

The fairer eminent in light advance  ;

And every image on its neighbour smiles.

Awhile he stands, and with a father's joy

Contemplates. Then with Promethean art, 410

Into its proper vehicle he breathes

The fair conception ; which, embodied thus,

And permanent, becomes to eyes or ears

An object ascertain'd; while thus inform'd.

The various organs of his mimic skill, 415

The consonance of sounds, the featur'd rock,

The shadowy picture and impassion'd verse,

Beyond their proper powers attract the soul

By that expressive semblance, while in sight

Of Nature's great original we scan 420

The lively child of art ; while line by line,

And feature after feature we refer


To that sublime exemplar whence it stole Those animating charms. Thus beauty's palm Betwixt them wavering hangs : applauding love 425 Doubts where to choose  ; and mortal man aspires To tempt creative praise. As when a cloud Of gathering hail with limpid crusts of ice Enclos'd and obvious to the beaming sun, Collects his large effulgence  ; straight the heavens With equal flames present on either hand 431

The radiant visage  : Persia stands at gaze, Appall'd  ; and on the brink of Ganges doubts The snowy-vested seer, in Mithra's name, To which the fragrance of the south shall burn, 435 To which his warbled orisons ascend.

Such various bliss the well-tun'd heart enjoys, Favour'd of heaven! while, plung'd in sordid cares^ The unfeeling vulgar mocks the boon divine : And harsh austerity, from whose rebuke 440

Young love and smiling wonder shrink away


Abash'd and chill of heart, with sager frowns

Condemns the fair enchantment. On my strain,

Perhaps even now, some cold, fastidious judge

Casts a disdainful eye  ; and calls my toil, 445

And calls the love and beauty which I sing.

The dream of folly. Thou, grave censor  ! say,

Is beauty then a dream, because the glooms

Of dulness hang too heavy on thy sense,

To let her shine upon thee? So the man 450

Whose eye ne'er open'd on the light of heaven,

Might smile with scorn while raptur'd vision tells

Of the gay-colour' d radiance flushing bright

O'er all creation. From the wise be iar 454

Such gross unhallow'xl pride; nor needs my song

Descend so low  ; but rather now unfold,

If human thought could reach, or worlds unfold,

By what mysterious fabric of the mind,

The deep-felt joys and harmony of sound

Result from airy motion  ; and from shape 460

The lovely phantoms of sublime and fair.


By what fine ties hath God connected things

When present in the mind, which in themselves

Have no connection  ? Sure the rising sun

O'er the coeruleart convex of the sea, 465

With equal brightness, and with equal warmth

Might roll his fiery orb ; nor yet the soul

Thus feel her frame expanded, and her powers

Exulting in the splendor she beholds;

Like a young conqueror moving thro' the pomp

Of some triumphal day. When join'd at eve, 471

Soft- murmuring streams and gales of gentlest breath

Melodious Philomela's wakeful strain

Attemper, could not man's discerning ear

Through all its tones the sympathy pursue  ; 475

Nor yet this breath divine of nameless joy

Steal through his veins and fan the awaken'd hearty

Mild as the breeze, yet rapturous as the song.

But wjre not Nature still endow'd at large With all which life requires, tho' unadorn'd 480 h 2


Wich such enchantmen t  ? Wherefore then her form

So exquisitely fair  ! her breath perfum'd

With suclf aetherial sweetness  ? whence her voice

Inform' d at will to raise or to depress

The inipassion'd soul  ? and whence the robes of light

Which thus invest her with more lovely pomp 486

Than fancy can describe  ? Whence but from thee,

O Source divine of ever-flowing love,"

And thy unmeasur'd goodness  ? Not content

With every food -of life to nourish man, 490

By kind illusions of the wondering sense

Thou mak'st all Nature beauty to his eye,

Or music to his ear  : well-pleas'd he scans

The goodly prospect; and with inward smiles

Treads the gay verdure of the painted plain  ; 495

Beholds the azure canopy of heaven,

And living lamps that over-arch his head

With more than regal splendor; bends his ears

To the full choir of water, air, and earth  ;

Nor heeds the pleasing error of his thought, 500


Nor doubts the painted green or azure\ arch,

Nor questions more the music's mingling sounds

Than space, or motion, or eternal time  ;

So sweet he feels their influence to attract

The fixed soul ; to brighten the dull glooms 50&

Of care, and make the destin'd road of life

Delightful to his feet. So fables tell, -

The adventurous hero, bound on hard exploits,

Beholds with glad surprise, by secret spells

Of some kind sage, the patron of his toils, 510.

A visionary paradise disclos'd

Amid the dubious wild : with streams, and shades,.

And airy songs, the enchanted landscape smiles,

Cheers his long labours and renews his frame,

What then is taste, but these internal powers 515 Active, and strong, and feelingly alive To each fine impulse? a discerning sense Of decent and sublime, with quick disgust From things deform'd, or disarrang'd, or gross


In species? Tfiis, .nor gems, nor stores of gold, 520

Nor purple state, nor culture can bestow ;

But God alone, when first his active hand

Imprints the secret bias of the soul.

He, mighty parent! wise and just in all,

Eree as the vital breeze or light of heaven, 525

Reveals the charms of Nature* Ask the swain

Who journeys homeward from a summer-day's

Long labour, why, forgetful of his toils

And due repose, he loiters to behold

The sun-shine gleaming as thro' amber clouds, 5 30

G'er all the western sky ; full soon, I ween,

His rude expression and untutor'd airs.

Beyond the power of language, will unfold

The form of beauty smiling at his heart,

How lovely  ! how commanding  ! But tho' heaven

In every breast hath sown these early seeds 53Q

Of love and admiration, yet in vain,

Without fair Culture's kind parental aid,

Without enlivening suns, and genial showers,.


And shelter from the blast, in vain we hope 540

The tender plant should rear its blooming head.

Or yield the hardest promis'd in its spring.

Nor yet will every soil with equal stores

Repay the tiller's labour ; or attend

His will, obsequious, whether to produce 545

The olive or the laurel* Differeut minds

Incline to different objects : one pursues

The vast alone, the wonderful,, the wild  ;

Another sighs for harmony, and grace, 549

And gentlest beauty. Hence, when lightning fires

The arch, of heaven, and thunders rock the ground^

When furious whirlwinds rend the howling air,

And Ocean, groaning from his lowest bed,

Heaves his tempestuous billows to the sky  ;

Amid the mighty uproar, while below 555

The nations tremble, Shakespear looks abroad

From some high cliff, superior, and enjoys

The elemental war. But Waller longs,

All on the margin of some flowery stream


To spread his careless limbs amid the cool 560

Of plantain shades, and to the listening deer The tale of slighted vows and love's disdain Resound soft-warbling, all the live-long day : Consenting Zephyr sighs ; the weeping rill 564 ,

Joins in his plaint, melodious  ; mute the groves ; And hili and dale with all their echoes mourn. Such and so various are the tastes of men.

Oh! blest of heaven, whom not the languid songs Of luxury, the syren ! not the bribes Of sordid wealth, nor all the gaudy spoils 570

Of pageant honour can seduce to leave Those ever-blooming sweets, which from the storo Of Nature fair imagination culls To charm the enliven?d soul ! What tho' not all Of mortal offspring can attain the heights 575

Of envied life  ; though only few possess Patrician treasures of imperial state? Yet Nature's 'rare, to all her child? on just.

OB IMAGINATrra, 117"

With richer treasures and an ampler state

Endows at large whatever happy man 580

Will deign to use them. His the city's pomp.

The rural honours his. Whate'er adorns

The princely dome, the column and the arch.

The breathing marbles and the sculptur'd gold,

Beyond the proud possessor's narraw claim, 585

His tuneful breast enjoys. For him, the Spring .u

Distils her dews, and from the silken gem 'd

Its lucid leaves unfolds : for him, the hand -—"

Of Autumn tinges every fertile branch _

With blooming gold, and blushes like the morn. 590

Each passing Hour sheds tribute from her wings  ;

And still new beauties meet his lonely walk,

And loves unfelt attract him. Not a breeze

Flies o'er the meadow, not a cloud imbibes

The setting sun's effulgence, not a strain 595

From all the tenants of the warbling shade

Ascends, but whence his bosom can partake

Fresh pleasure, unreprov'd. Nor thence partakes


Fresh pleasure only: for the attentive mind,

By this harmonious action on her powers 600

Becomes herself harmonious : wont so oft

In outward things to meditate the charm

Of sacred order, soon she seeks at home

To find a kindred order, to exert

Within herself this elegance of love, 605

This fair inspired delight : her tempered powers

Refine at length, and every passion wears

A chaster,, milder,, more attractive mien.

But if to ampler prospects, if to gaze

On Nature's form, where, negligent of all 610

These lesser graces, she assumes the port

Of that eternal Majesty that weigh'd

The world's foundations, if to these the mind

Exalts her daring eye; then mightier far 614

Will be the change, and nobler. Would the forms

Of servile custom cramp her generous powers  ?

Would sordid policies, the barbarous growth

Of ignorance and rapine, bow her down


To tame pursuits, to indolence and fear?

Lol she appeals to Nature, to the winds 620-

And roiling waves, . the sun's unwearied course,

The elements and seasons : all declare

For what the eternal Maker has ordain'd

The powers of man: we feel within ourselves

His energy divine : he tells the heart, 62&

He meant^ he made us to behold and love

What he beholds and loves, the general orb

Of life and being; to be great like him,

Beneficent and active. Thus the men

Whom Nature's works can charm, with God himself *

Hold converse  ;.grow familiar, day by day, 63 1

With his conceptions  ; act upon his plan  :

And form to,his, the relish of their souls..



Ver. .151. Say, why was man, Sec,

J.N apologizing for the frequent negligences of ikt sublimest authors of Greece, " Those god-like u geniuses," says Longinus, ^ were well assured,

    • that Nature had not intended man for a low-

ic spirited or ignoble being  : but bringing us into u life and the midst of this wide universe, as before u a multitude assembled at some heroic solemnity,

  • that we might be spectators of all her magnifi*

ic cence^ and candidates high in emulation for the u prize of glory  ; she has therefore implanted in


<c our souls an inextinguishable love of every thing u great and exalted, of every thing which appears (c divine beyond our comprehension. Whence it u comes to pass, that even the whole world is not <Q an object sufficient for the depth and rapidity of Xi human imagination^ which often sallies forth be-

  • c yond the limits of all that surrounds us. Let

u any man cast his eye through the whole circle of ci our existence, and consider how especially it u abounds in excellent and grand objects  ; he will <i soon acknowledge for what enjoyments and pur. u suits we were destined. Thus by the very pro- (i pensity of Nature we are led to admire, not little fc springs or shallow rivulets, however clear and cc delicious, but the Nile, the Rhine, the Danube, " and, much more than all, the Ocean, &c." Dionys, Long, dcSublim. § xxiv.

Ver. 202. The empyreal waste* f* Ne se peut-il point qu'il y a un grand cspace


"au dela de la region des etoiles? Que se soit le iC ciel entpyree, ou non, toujours cet espace im. " mense qui environne toute eette 'region, pourra u etre rempli de bonheur et de gloire. II pourra " etre concu comme Pocean, ou se rendent les u fleuves de toutes les creatures bienheu reuses, iC quand elles seront venues a luer perfection dans " le systeme des etoiles." Leibnitz dans la Theodicee, part i. § 19.

Ver. 204. Whose unfading light, 8zc. It was a notion of the great Mr. Huygens, that there may be fixed stars- at such a distance from our solar system, as that their light should not have had time to reach us, even from the creation of the "World to this day.

Ver. 234. the neglect

Of all familiar prospects^ &c. It is here said, that in consequence of the lore

124 NOTES 0»

of novelty, objects which at first were highly delight- ful to the mind, lose that effect by repeated attention to them. But the instance of habit is opposed to this observation ; for there ^ objects at first distaste- ful are in time rendered entirely agreeable by repeat- ed attention.

The difficulty in this case will be removed, if we consider, that, when objects at first agreeable, lose that influence by frequently recurring, the mind is wholly passive^ and the perception involuntary  ; but habit, on the other hand, generally supposes choice and activity accompanying it : so that the pleasure arises here not from the object, but from the mind's conscious determination of its own activity ; and consequently increases in proportion to the frequency of that determination.

It will still be urged perhaps, that a familiarity

with disagreeable objects renders them at length acceptable, even when there is no room for the mind to resolve or act at all. In this case, the ap- pearance must be accounted for, one of these ways.


The pleasure from habit may be merely negitive. The object at first gave uneasiness  : this uneasiness gradually wears off as the object grows familiar: and the mind, finding it at last entirely removed, reckons its situation really pleasureable, compared with what it had experienced before.

The dislike conceived of the object at first, might be owing to prejudice or want of attention. Con- sequently the mind, being necessitated to review it often, may at length perceive its own mistake, and be reconciled to what it had looked on -with aver- sion. In which case, a sort of instinctive justice »aturalJy leads it to make amends for the injury, by running toward the other extreme of fondness and attachment.

Or lastly, though the object itself should always continue disagreeable, yet circumstances of pleasure ©r good fortune may occur along with it. Thus an association may arise in the mind, and the object ©ever be remembered without those pleasing cir-



cumstances attending it  ; by which means the dis- agreeable impression which it at first occasioned will in time be quite obliterated*

Ver. 240. this desire

Of objects new and strange

These two ideas are often confounded  ; though it is evident the mere novelty of an object makes it agreeable, even where the mind is not affected with the least degree of wonder: whereas wonder indeed always implies novelty, being never excited by com. snon or well-known appearances. But the pleasure in both cases is explicable from the same final cause, the acquisition of knowledge and enlargement of our views of Nature  ; on this account, it is natural to treat of them together.

Ver. 374. Truth and good are one,

Andbeauty dzoells in them, &c. 46 Do you imagine," say Socrates to Arsitippus,


u that what is good is not beautiful  ? Have you u not observed that these appearances always coin- 4i cide? Virtue, for instance, in the same respect 4i as to which we call it good, is ever acknowledged

  • ' to be beautiful also. In the characters of men

ft we always * join the two denominations together. 4i The beauty of human bodies corresponds, in u like manner, with that ceconomy of parts which

  • ' constitutes them good; and in every circum-

u stance of life the same object is constantly ac- u counted both beautiful and good, inasmuch as it u answers the purposes for which it was designed." Xenophont. Memorab. Socrat. 1. iii. c. 8.

This excellent observation has been illustrated and extended by the noble restorer of ancient phi- losophy : see the Characteristics, vol. ii. p. 339 and 422; and vol. iii. p. 181. And another ingenious

  • This the Athenians did in a particular manner, by the

word HaKoiiafaQh, HahoKafuQU.

M 2


author has particularly shewn, that it holds in tire general laws of Nature, in the works of art, and the conduct of the sciences : Inquiry into the Original of our Ideas of Beauty and Virtue, Treat, i. § 8. As to the connection between beauty and truth, there are two opinions concerning it. Some philosophers assert an independent and invariable law in Nature, in consequence of which u all rational beings must u alike perceive beauty in some certain propor- a tions, and deformity in the contrary." And this necessity being supposed the same with that which commands the assent or dissent of the understanding, it follows of course that beauty is founded on tins universal and unchangeable law of truth.

But others there are, w ho believe beauty to be merely a relative and arbitrary thing ; that indeed it was a benevolent provision in Nature to annex so delightful a sensation to those objects which are best and most perfect in themselves, that so we might be engaged to the choice of them at once, and without


staying to infer their usefulness from their structure and effects  ; but that it is not impossible, in a phy- sical sense, that two beings, of equal capacities for truth 5 should perceive, one of them beauty y and the other deformity, in the same proportions. And upoa this supposition, by that truth which is always con. nected with beauty, nothing more can be meant than the conformity of any object to those proportions upon which, after careful examination, the beauty of thaj: species is found to depend* Polycletus, for instance, a famous ancient sculptor, from an accurate mensuration of the several parts of the most perfect

human bodies, deduced a canon or system of pro- portions, which was the rule of all succeeding artists.

Suppose a statue modelled according to this  : a man of mere natural taste, upon looking at it, without entering into its proportions, confesses and admires its beauty : whereas a professor of the art applies his measures to the head, the neck, or the hand, and, without attending to its beauty, pronounces the workmanship to be just and true*


Ver. 492. As when Brutus rose% &c. Cicero himself describes this fact — iC Caesare u interfecto — statim cruentum alte extollens M. u Brutus pugionem, Ciceronem nominatim excla- u mavit, atque ei recuperatam libertatcm est gratu- "latus." Cic Phillipp. ii. 12.

Ver. 548. Where virtue rising from the awful depth Of truth's mysterious bosom^ &c. According to the opinion of those who assert moral obligation to be founded on an immutable and universal law  ; and that which is usually called the moral sense y to be determined by the peculiar tem- per of the imagination and earliest associations of ideas.

Ver. 591. Lyceum. The school of Aristotle*


Ver. 592. Academus* The school of Plato.

Ver. 594. Ilyssus. One of the rivers on which Athens was situated. Plato, in some of his finest dialogues, lays the scene of conversation with Socrates on its banks.



Yer. 19. At last the Muses rose, &e.

ixBOUT the age of Hugh Capet, founder of the third race of French kings, the poets of Provence were in high reputation  ; a sort of strolling bards or rhapsodists, who went about the courts of princes and noblemen, entertaining them at festivals with music and poetry. They attempted both the epic ode, and satire; and abounded in a wild and fantastic vein of fable, partly allegorical, and partly founded on traditionary legends of the Saracen wars. These were the rudiments of Italian poetry. But their 4aste uncj composition must have been extremely


barbarous, as we may judge by those who followed the turn of their fable in much politer times; such as Boiardo, Bernardo, Tasso, Ariosto, &c.

Ver. 21. Valclusa. The famous retreat of Francisco Petrarcha, the father of Italian poetry, and his mistress Laura, a lady of Avignon.

Ver. 22. Amo. The river which runs by Florence, the birth- place of Dante and Boccacio.

Ver. 23. Partkenope* Or Naples, the birth-place of Sannazaro. The great Torquato Tasso was born at Sorrento, in the kingdom of Naples.

Ver. 23. the rage

Of dire ambition, &c. This relates to the cruel wars among the repub*


lies of Italy, and abominable politics of its little princes, about the fifteenth century. These at last? in conjunction with the Papal power, entirely ex- tinguished the spirit of liberty in that country, and established that abuse of the fine arts which has been since propagated over all Europe*

Ver. 30. Thus from their guardians torn, Sec.

Nor were they only losers by the separation. For philosophy itself, to use the words of a noble phi- losopher, u being thus severed by the sprightly arts u and sciences, must consequently grow dronish, w insipid^ pedantic, useless, and directly opposite " to the real knowledge and practice of the world." Insomuch that u a Gentleman," says another excel- lent writer, a cannot easily bring himself to like so a austere and ungainly a form $ so greatly is it 4< changed from what was once the delight of the u finest Gentlemen of antiquity, and their recrea- u tion after the hurry of public affairs  !" From thi& condition it cannot be recovered but by uniting it

J 30


once more with the works of imagination  ; and ws hare had the pleasure of observing a very great pro- gress made towards their union in England within these few years. It is hardly possible to conceive them at a greater distance from each other than at the Revolution, when Locke stood at the head of one party, and Dryden of the other. But the general spirit of liberty, which has ever since been growing, naturally invited our men of wit and genius to im- prove that influence which the arts of persuasion gave them with the people, by applying them to sub- jects of importance to society. Thus poetry and eloquence became considerable  ; and philosophy is now of course obliged to borrow of their embellish- ments, in order even to gain audience with the public.

Ver. 157. From Passion's pozcer alone, &c.

This very mysterious kind of pleasure, which if often found in the exercise of passions generally counted painful, has been taken notice of by several



authors. Lutretius resolves it into self-love  :

" Suave Mari magno," &c. lib. ii. 1. As if a man was never pleased in being moved at the distress of a tragedy, without a cool reflection that though these fictitious personages were so unhappy, yet he himself was perfectly at ease and in safety. The ingenious author of the Reflections Critiques sur le Poesie, Sf sur la Peinture^ accounts for it by the general delight which the mind takes in its own activity, and the abhorrence it feels of an indolent and inattentive state : and this, joined with the moral approbation of its own temper, which attends these emotions when natural and just, is certainly the true foundation of the pleasure, which, as it is the origin and basis of tragedy and epic, deserved a very particular consideration in this poem.

Ver. 304, Inhabitant of earthy Sec. The account of the ceconomy of Providence here introduced, as the most proper to calm and satisfy


the mind when under the compunction of private evils, seems to have come originally from the Py- thagorean school : l)ut of the ancient philosophers, Plato has most largely insisted upon it, has established it with all the strength of his capacious understand- ing, and ennobled it with all the magnificence of his cdivine imagination. He has one passage so full and clear on this head, that I am persuaded the reader will be pleased to see it here, though somewhat long. Addressing himself to such as are not satisfied con- cerning Divine Providence  : u The Being who pre- " sides over the whole," says he, " has disposed and 46 complicated all things for the happiness and vir- 46 tue of the whole, every part of which, according 4C to the extent of its influence, does and suffers 46 what is fit and proper. One of these parts is yours, 4C O unhappy man, which though in itself most in- 4C considerable and minute, yet being connected with 44 the universe, ever seeks to co-operate with that " supreme order. You in the mean time are igno-


  • c rant of the very end for which all particular

" natures are brought into existence, that the all- €c comprehending nature of the whole may be per- " feet and happy  ; existing as it does, not for your u sake, but the cause and reason of your existence, u which, as in the symmetry of every artificial work, 4C must of necessity concur with the general design u of the artist, and be subservient to the whole of

  • c which it is a part. Your complaint therefore is

ff ignorant and groundless  ; since, according to the ?4 various energy of creation, and the common laws u of Nature, there is a constant provision of that u which is best at the same time for you and for the H whole. — For the governing Intelligence clearly 46 beholding all the actions of animated and self- 46 moving creatures, and that mixture of good and 4i evil which diversifies them, considered first of all 4i by what disposition of things, and by what situ- 4i ation of each individual in the general system, & vice might be depressed and subdued, and virtue


  • made secure of victory and happiness, with the

" greatest facility, and in the highest degree possible: u In this manner he ordered through the entire cir- u cle of being, the internal constitution of every u mind, where should be its station in the universal u fabric, and through what variety of circumstances u it should proceed in the whole tenour of its u existence." He goes on in his sublime manner to assert a future state of retribution, u as well for M those who, by the exercise of good dispositions u being harmonized and assimilated into the divine ic virtue, are consequently removed to a place of " unblemished sanctity and happiness; as of those

  • c who by the most flagitious arts have risen from

u contemptible beginnings to the greatest affluence iC and power, and whom you therefore look upon u as unanswerable instances of negligence in the iC gods, because you arc ignorant of the purposes <c to which they are subservient, and in what man- iC ner they contribute to that supreme intention of Ci good to the whole." Plato de Leg. x» 16.


This theory has been delivered of late, especially abroad, in a manner which subverts the freedom of human actions  ; whereas Plato appears very careful to preserve it, and has been in that respect imitated by the best of his followers.

Ver. 321. one might rise,

One order , &c. See the Meditations of Antoninus, and the Cha- racteristics, passim.

Ver, 355, The best and fairest, &c. This opinion is so old, that Timseus Locrus calls the Supreme Being ^^tapyos rw 0ekrtov^9 u the u artificer of that which is best j" and represents him as resolving in the beginning to produce the most excellent work, and as copying the world most exactly from his own intelligible and essential idea ; " so that it yet remains, as it was at first, perfect u in beauty, and will never stand in need of any N


u correction or improvement." There can be no room for a caution here, to understand the expres- sions, not of any particular circumstances of human life separately considered, but of the sum of univer- sal system of life and being. See also the vision at the end of the Theodicee of Leibnitz.

Ver. 305. As flame ascends, &c. This opinion, though not held by Plato nor any of the ancients, is yet a very natural consequence of his principles. But the disquisition is too complex and extensive to be entered upon here.

Ver. 755. Philip. The Macedonian.




Ver. 18. Where the powers

Of Fancy, &c.

J. HE influence of the Imagination on the conduct of life, is one of the most important points in moral philosophy. It were easy by an induction of facts to prove that the Imagination directs almost all the passions, and mixes with almost every circumstance of action or pleasure. Let any man, even of the coldest head and soberest industry, analyse the idea of what he calls his interest; he will find that it consists chiefly of certain degrees of decency, beauty, and order, variously combined into one system, the idol which he seeks to enjoy by labour, hazard, and n 2


self-denial. It is on this account of the last conse- quence io regulate these images by the standard of Nature, and the general good  ; otherwise the imagi- nation, by heightening some objects beyond their real excellence and beauty, or by representing others in a more odious or terrible shape than they deserve, may of course engage us in pursuits utterly incon- sistent with the moral order of things.

If it be objected that this account of things sup- poses the passions to be merely accidental, whereas there appears in some a natural and hereditary dis- position to certain passions prior to all circumstances of education or fortune  ; it may be answered, that though no man is born ambitious or a miser^ yet he may inherit from his parents a peculiar temper or complexion of mind, which shall render his imagina- tion more liable to be struck with some particular objects, consequently dispose him to form opinions of good and ill, and entertain passions of a par- ticular turn. Some men, for instance, by the


original frame of their minds, are more delighted with the vast and magnificent; others, on the con- trary, with the elegant and gentle aspects of Nature. And it is very remarkable, that the disposition of the moral powers is always similar to this of the Ima- gination ; that those who are most inclined to admire prodigious and sublime objects in the physical world, are also most inclined to applaud examples of for- titude and heroic virtue in the moral. While those who are charmed rather with the delicacy and sweet- ness of colours, and forms, and sounds, never fail in like manner to yield the preference to the softer scenes of virtue, and the sympathies of a domestic life. And this is sufficient to account for the objection.

Among the ancient philosophers though we have several hints concerning this influence of the Ima- gination upon the morals among the remains of the Socratic sehool,yet the Stoics were the first who paid it a due attention. Zeno, their founder, thought


it impossible to preserve any tolerable regularity in life, without frequently inspecting those Pictures or appearances of things, which the imagination offers to the mind (Diog. Laert. 1. vii.) The meditations of M. Aurelius, and the discourses of Epictetus, are full of the same sentiment ; insomuch that the latter makes the Xfio-is da, &7 <pavW/£v, or " right u management of the fancies^" the only thing for which we are accountable to Providence, and with- out which a man is no other than stupid or frantic. Arrian. 1. i. c. 12. & 1. ii. c. 22. See also the Characteristics, vol. i. from p. 313 to 321, where this Stoical doctrine is embellished with all the elegance and graces of Plato.

Ver. 75. how Folios awkzcard arts, &c»

Notwithstanding the general influence of ridicule on private and civil life, as well as on learning and the sciences, it has been almost constantly neglected or misrepresented by divines especially. The man-


ner of treating these subjects in th science of human nature, should be precisely the same as in natural philosophy  ; from particular facts to investigate the stated order in which they appear, and then apply the general law, thus discovered, to the explication of other appearances, and the improvement of useful arts.

Ver. 84. Behold the foremost band, &c. The first and most general source of ridicule in the characters of men, is vanity, or self-applause for some desirable quality or possession which evidently

  • does not belong to those who assume it.

Ver. 121. Then comes the second order, Sec. Ridicule from the same vanity, where, though the possession be real, yet no merit can arise from it, because of some particular circumstances, which, though obvious to the spectator, are yet overlooked by the ridiculous character.


Ver. 152. Another tribe succeeds, &c. Ridicule from a notion of excellence in particular objects disproportioned to their intrinsic value, and inconsistent with the order of Nature*

Ver. 191. But now, ye gay, &c. Ridicule from a notion of excellence, when the object is absolutely odious or contemptible. This is the highest degree of the ridiculous ; as in the affec- tation of diseases or vices.

Ver. 207. Thus far triumphant, &c. Ridicule from false shame, or groundless fear, f

Ver. 228. Last of the motley bands, &c. Ridicule from the ignorance of such things as our circumstances require us to know.

Ver. 248. Suffice it to have said, &c. By comparing these general sources of ridicule


with each other, and examining the ridiculous in other objects, we may obtain a general definition of it, equally applicable to every species. The most important circumstance of this definition is laid down in the lines referred to ; but others more minute we shall subjoin here. Aristotle's account of the matter seems both imperfect and false : the ridi- culous is " some certain fault or turpitude without 6C pain9 and not destructive to its subject." (Poet* c. 5.) For allowing it to be true, asitis not, that the ridiculous is never accompanied with pain, yet we might produce many instances of such a fault or tur- pitude, which cannot with any tolerable propriety be called ridiculous. So that the definition does not distinguish the thing designed. Nay farther ; even when we perceive the turpitude tending to the de- struction of its subject, we may still be sensible of a ridiculous appearance, till the ruin become imminent, and the keener sensations of pity or terror banish the ludicrous apprehension from our minds. For the


sensation of ridicule is not a bare perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas  ; but a passion or emotion of the mind consequential to that perception. So that the mind may perceive the agreement or dis- agreement, and yet not feel the ridiculous, because. it is engrossed by a more violent emotion. Thus it happens that some men think those objects ridiculous, to which others cannot endure to apply the name; because in them they excite a much intenser and more important feeling. And this difference, among other causes, has brought a good deal of confusion into this question.

u That which makes objects ridiculous, is some w ground of admiration or esteem connected with u other more general circumstances comparatively u worthless or deformed ; or it is some circumstance u of turpitude or deformity connected with what is " in general excellent or beautiful : the inconsistent u properties existing either in the objects themselves, w or in the apprehension of the person to whom


u they relate ; belonging always to the same order 16 or class of being; imply sentiment or design; and " exciting no acute or vehement emotion of the " heart."

To prove the several parts of this definition  : "The " appearance of excellency or beauty connected with Ci a general condition, comparatively sordid or u deformed," is ridiculous  : for instance, pompous pretensions of wisdom joined with ignorance or folly in the Socrates of Aristophanes ; and the ostenta- tions of military glory with cowardice and stupidity in the Thraso of Terence.

The appearance of deformity or turpitude in u conjunction with what is in general excellent or u venerable," is also ridiculous  : for instance, the personal weakness of a magistrate appearing in the solemn and public functions of his station.

u The incongruous properties may either exist in f f the objects themselves, or in apprehension of the " person to whom they relate :" in the last-men-


tioned instance,they both exist in the objects ; in the instances from Aristophanes and Terence, one of them is objective and real, the other only founded in the apprehension of the ridiculous character.

cc The inconsistent properties must belong to the i6 same order or class of being." A coxcomb in fine cloaths, bedaubed by accident in foul weather, is a ridiculous object  ; because his general apprehension of excellence and esteem is referred to the splendour and expence of his dress. A man of sense and merit, in the same circumstances, is not counted ridiculous : because the general ground of excellence and esteem in him is, both in fact and in his own apprehension, of a very different species.

a Every ridiculous object implies sentiment or cc design." A column placed by an architect without a capital or base, is laughed at : the same column in a ruin causes a very different sensation.

And lastly, M the occurence must excite no acute 16 or vehement emotion of the heart/' such as Terror^


Pity, or Indignation ; for in that case, as was observed above, the mind is not at leisure to con- template the ridiculous,

Ver. Z59. Ask we for what fair end, &c. Since it is beyond all contradiction evident that we have a natural sense or feeling of the ridiculous^ and since so good a reason may be assigned to justify the Supreme Being for bestowing it ; one cannot without astonishment reflect on the conduct of those men who imagine it is for the service of true religion to vilify and blacken it without distinction, and endeavour to persuade us that it is never applied but in a bad cause. Ridicule is not concerned with mere speculative truth or falsehood. It is not m abstract propositions or theorems, but in actions and passions, good and evil, beauty and deformity, that we find materials for it ; and all these terms are relative, implying approbation or blame. To ask them whether ridicule be a test of truth, 13, in other


words, to ask whether that which is ridiculous can be morally true^ can be just and becoming; or whether that which is just and becoming, can be ridiculous  ? A question that does not deserve a serious answer. For it is most evident, that, as in a metaphysical, proposition offered to the understanding for its assent, the faculty of reason examines the terms of the proposition, and finding one idea, which was sup- posed equal to another, to be in fact unequal, of consequence rejects the proposition as a falsehood ; so, in objects offered to the mind for its esteem and applause, the faculty of ridicule, finding an incon- gruity in the claim, urges the mind to reject it with laughter and contempt. When therefore, we observe such a claim obtruded upon mankind, and the inconsistent circumstances carefully concealed from the eye of the public, it is our business, if the matter be of importance to society, to drag out those latent circumstances, and, by setting them in full view, to convince the world how ridiculous the


claim is  : and thus a double advantage is gained \ for we both detect the moral falsehood sooner than in the way of speculative inquiry, and impress the minds of men with a stronger sense of the vanity and error of its authors. And this and no more is meant by the application of ridicule.

But it is said, the practice is dangerous, and may be inconsistent with the regard we owe to objects of real dignity and excellence. I answer, the practice fairly managed can never be dangerous  ; men may be dishonest in obtruding circumstances foreign to the object, and we may be inadvertent in allowing those circumstances to impose upon us: but the sense of ridicule always judges right. The Socrates of Aristophanes is as truly ridiculous a character as ever was drawn  : — true  ; but it is not the character of Socrates, the divine moralist and father of ancient wisdom. What then  ? did the ridicule of the poet hinder the philosopher from detecting and disclaim^ ing those foreign circumstances which he had falsely


introduced into his character, and thus rendered the satirist doubly ridiculous in his turn  ? no  ; but it nevertheless had an ill influence on the minds of the people. And so has the reasoning of Spinoza made many atheists  : he has founded it indeed on suppor sitions utterly false ; but allow him these, and his conclusions are unavoidably true. And if we must reject the use of ridicule,because, by the imposition of false circumstances, things may be made to seem ridiculous, which are not so in themselves  ; why we ought not in the same manner to reject the use of reason, because, by proceeding on false principles, conclusions will appear true which are impossible in Nature, let the vehement and obstinate declaimers against ridicule determine.

Ver. 285. The inexpressive semblance, &c. This similitude is the foundation of almost all the ornaments of poetic diction.


Ver. 326. Two faithful needles^ &c. See the elegant poem recited by Cardinal Bembo, in the character oi Lucretius; Straba Prolufc. y'u Acadeni. 2. c. v.

Ver. 348. By these mysterious ties, &c. The act of remembering seems almost wholly t% depend on the association of ideas.

Ver. 411. Into its proper vehicle , &c. This relates to the different sorts of corporeal mediums, by which the ideas of the artists are ren- dered palpable to the senses  ; as hy sounds in music  ; by lines and shadows in painting \ by diction m poetry, &c.

Ver. 547. One pursue?

The vast alone, &c. See. the note on ver. 18 of this book, or


Ver. 558. Waller longs, &c. u Oh! how I long my careless limbs to lay " Under the plantain shade; and all the day u With amorous airs my fancy entertain, &c.

Waller, Battle of Sum. Islands, Canto I. And again, " WThile in the park I sing, the listening deer " Attend my passion, and forget to fear," &c.

At Penshurst.

Ver. 593. Not a breeze, &c. That this account may not appear rather poeti- cally extravagant than just in philosophy, it may be proper to produce the sentiment of one of the greatest, wisest, and best of men on this head ; one so little to be suspected of partiality in the case, that he reckons it among those favours for which he was especially thankful to the gods, that they tad not suffered him to make any great proficiency


in the arts of eloquence and poetry, lest by that means he should have been diverted from pursuits of more importance to his high station. Speaking* of the beauty of universal Nature, he observes, that u there is a pleasing and graceful aspect in every u object we perceive," when once we consider its connection with that general order. He instances in many things which at first sight would be thought rather deformities; and then adds, "that a man who u enjoys a sensibility of temper, withajust compre- " hension of the universal order, will discern many u amiable things, not credible to every mind, hnt u to those alone who have entered into an honor* " able familiarity with Nature, and her works." — M. Antonin. iii. 2.

  1. INIS.

W. Flint, Printer, Old Bailey,

See also

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