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I add one other instance, which, beside the property under consideration, raises delicately our most tender sympathy.

Son of Fingal! dost thou not behold the darkness of Crothar's hall of shells? My soul was not dark at the feast, when my people lived. I rejoiced in the presence of strangers, when my son shone in the hall. But Ossian, he is a beam that is departed, and left no streak of light behind. He is fallen, son of Fingal, in the battles of his father. Rothmar, the chief of grassy Tromlo, heard that my eyes had failed; he heard that my arms were fixed in the hall, and the pride of his soul arose. He came towards Croma: my people fell before him. I took my arms in the hall, but what could sightless Crothar do? My steps were unequal; my grief was great. I wished for the days that were past: days! wherein I fought and won in the field of blood. My son returned from the chase; the fair-haired Fovar-gormo. He had not lifted his sword in battle, for his arm was young. But the soul of the youth was great; the fire of valor burnt in his eye. He saw the disordered steps of his father, and his sigh arose. King of Croma, he said, is it because thou hast no son? is it for the weakness of Fovar-gormo's arm that thy sighs arise? I begin, my father, to feel the strength of my arm; I have drawn the sword of my youth, and I have bent the bow. Let me meet this Rothmar, with the youths of Croma; let me meet him, O my father, for I feel my burning soul.

And thou shalt meet him, I said, son of the sightless Crothar! But let others advance before thee, that I may hear the tread of thy feet at thy return; for my eyes behold thee not, fair-haired Fovar-gorma! He went: he met the foe; he fell. The foe advances towards Croma. He who slew my son is near, with all his pointed spears.

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

High on his helm celestial lightnings play,
His beamy shield emits a living ray,

Th' unwearied blaze incessant streams supplies,
Like the red star that fires the autumnal skies.

Strength and omnipotence invest thy throne.

? Pope?


IBID. viii. 576.

So silent fountains, from a rock's tall head,
In sable streams soft trickling waters shed.

His clanging armor rung.

IBID. IX. 19.

IBID. xii. 94.

Fear on their cheek, and horror in their eye.

IBID. XV. 4.

The blaze of armor flash'd against the day.

IBID. xvii. 736.

As when the piercing blasts of Boreas blow.

IBID. XIX. 380.

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

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

IBID. XIX. 460.

The humid sweat from ev'ry pore descends.


to does wat wy aur frotih del..

Redundant epithets, such as humid in the last citation, are by Quintilian disallowed to orators; but indulged to poets, because his favorite poets, in a few instances, are reduced to such epithets for the sake of versification.

As an apology for such careless expressions, it may well suffice, that Pope, in submitting to be a translator, acts below his genius. In a translation, it is hard to require the same spirit of accuracy, that is cheerfully bestowed on an original work.

I close this chapter with a curious inquiry. An object, however ugly to the sight, is far from being so when represented by colors or by words. What is the cause of this difference? With respect to painting, the cause is obvious: a good picture, whatever the subject be, is agreeable by the pleasure we take in imitation; and this pleasure, overbalancing the disagreeableness of the subject, makes the picture upon the whole agreeable. With respect to the description of an ugly object, the cause follows. To connect individuals in the social state, no particular contributes more than language, by the power it possesses of an expeditious

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communication of thought, and a lively representation of transactions. But nature hath not been satisfied to recommend language by its utility merely; independent of utility, it is made susceptible of many beauties, which are directly felt, without any intervening reflection. And this unfolds the mystery; for the pleasure of language is so great, as in a lively description to overbalance the disagreeableness of the image raised by it. This, however, is no encouragement to choose a disagreeable subject; for the pleasure is incomparably greater, where the subject and the description are both of them agreeable.

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

Nine times the space that measures day and night
To mortal men, he with his horrid crew

Lay vanquish'd, rolling in the fiery gulf,
Confounded though immortal! but his doom

Reserv'd him to more wrath; for now the thought
Both of lost happiness and lasting pain

Torments him; round he throws his baleful eyes
That witness'd huge affliction and dismay,
Mix'd with obdurate pride and stedfast hate :
At once as far as angels' ken he views
The dismal situation waste and wild:
A dungeon horrible, on all sides round

As one great furnace flam'd; yet from those flames
No light, but rather darkness visible
Serv'd only to discover sights of woe,

Justice veng

Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace
And rest can never dwell, hope never comes
That comes to all; but torture without end
Still urges, and a fiery deluge, fed
With ever-burning sulphur unconsum'd!
Such place eternal Justice hath prepar'd
For those rebellious.'


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

K. Richard. What must the king do now? must he submit?
The king shall do it: must he be depos'd?
The king shall be contented: must he lose
The name of king? i' God's name, let it go:
I'll give my jewels for a string of beads;

My gorgeous palace for a hermitage;
My gay apparel for an almsman's gown;
My figur'd goblets for a dish of wood;
My sceptre for a palmer's walking-staff;
My subjects for a pair of carved saints;
And my large kingdom for a little grave;
A little, little grave;- -an obscure grave.
Qr, I'll be buried in the king's highway;
Some way of common tread, where subjects' feet
May hourly trample on their sovereign's head;
For on my heart they tread now, whilst I live;
And, buried once, why not upon my head?


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

The other shape,

If shape it might be call'd, that shape had none
Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb;
Or substance might be call'd that shadow seem'd,
For each seem'd either; black it stood as night,
Fierce as ten furies, terrible as hell,

And shook a dreadful dart.


Now storming fury rose,

And clamor such as heard in heaven till now
Was never arms on armor clashing bray'd
Horrible discord, and the madding wheels
Of brazen chariots rag'd; dire was the noise
Of conflict: overhead the dismal hiss
Of fiery darts in flaming volleys flew,
And flying vaulted either host with fire.
-So under fiery cope together rush'd
Both battles main, with ruinous assault
And inextinguishable rage: all heaven
Resounded; and had earth been then, all earth
Had to her centre shook.

PARADISE LOST.--Book VI. 1. 207.


But that I am forbid

To tell the secrets of my prison-house,

I could a tale unfold, whose lightest word

Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,

Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres,
Thy knotty and combined locks to part,
And each particular hair to stand on end,
Like quills upon the fretful porcupine:
But this eternal blazon must not be
To ears of flesh and blood.


Gratiano. Poor Desdemona! I'm glad thy father's dead:
Thy match was mortal to him; and pure grief

Shore his old thread in twain. Did he live now,
This sight would make him do a desperate turn;
Yea, curse his better angel from his side,
And fall to reprobation.


Objects of horror must be excepted from the foregoing theory; for no description, however lively, is sufficient to overbalance the disgust raised even by the idea of such objects. Every thing horrible ought therefore to be avoided in a description. Nor is this a severe law: the poet will avoid such scenes for his own sake, as well as for that of his reader; and to vary his descriptions, nature affords plenty of objects that disgust us in some degree without raising horror.

I am obliged, therefore, to condemn the picture of Sin in the second book of Paradise Lost, though a masterly performance: the original would be a horrid spectacle; and the horror is not much softened in the copy.

Iago's character, in the tragedy of Othello, is insufferably monstrous and satanical: not even Shakspeare's masterly hand can make the picture agreeable.


What is the first rule in the composition of history?-what are the reasons for it?

What is the second rule?--what are the reasons for it?

What is the effect of straining to make a figure at first?

How should the first sentences of a work be?

What is the third rule?

What is the fourth rule?

In what does the force of language consist?

What should the narrative in an epic poem resemble?
Give examples.

What is the criticism on Voltaire's Henriade?

How should circumstances be disposed of?

What is the effect of a well-chosen circumstance?


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