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essential to that appearance, but they heighten it greatly.
Of all external objects, a graceful person is the most agreeable. Dancing affords great opportunity for displaying grace, and haranguing still more. In vain will a person attempt to be graceful, who is deficient in amiable qualities. A man, it is true, may form an idea of qualities he is destitute of; and, by means of that idea, may endeavor to express these qualities by looks and gestures; but such studied expression will be too faint and obscure to be graceful.
A RISIBLE object produceth an emotion of laughter merely;* a ridiculous object is improper as well as risible, and produceth a mixed emotion which is vented by a laugh of derision or scorn.t
Burlesque, a great engine of ridicule, is distinguishable into burlesque that excites laughter merely, and burlesque that provokes derision or ridicule. A grave
* See Chap. VII.
+ See Chap. X.
Pigre See Brew
subject in which there is no impropriety, may be brought down by a certain coloring so as to be risible; which is the case of Virgil Travestie ;* and also the case of the Secchia Rapita :f the authors laugh first in order to make their readers laugh. The Lutrin is a burlesque poem, laying hold of a low and trifling incident, to expose the luxury, indolence, and contentious spirit of a set of monks. Boileau, the author, gives a ridiculous air to the subject, by dressing it in the heroic style, and affecting to consider it as of the utmost dignity and importance. In a composition of this kind, no image professedly ludicrous ought to find quarter, because such images destroy the contrast; and, accordingly, the author shows always the grave face, and never once betrays a smile.
In burlesque that aims at ridicule, the poet ought to confine himself to such images as are lively, and readily apprehended : a strained elevation, soaring above an ordinary reach of fancy, makes not a pleasant impression : the reader, fatigued with being always upon the stretch, is soon disgusted: and if he persevere, becomes thoughtless and indifferent. Further, a fiction gives no pleasure unless it be painted in colors so lively as to produce some perception of reality; which never can be done effectually where the images are formed with labor or difficulty. For these reasons, I cannot avoid condemning the Batrachomuomachia, said to be the composition of Homer: it is beyond the power of imagination to form a clear and lively image of frogs and mice acting with the dignity of the highest of our species.
The Rape of the Lock, clearly distinguishable from those now mentioned, is not properly a burlesque performance, but u heroi-comical poem: it treats a gay and familiar subject with pleasantry, and with a moderate degree of dignity: the author puts not on a mask like Boileau, nor professes to make us laugh like Tas
soni. The Rape of the Lock is a genteel species of writing, pleasant or ludicrous without having ridicule for its chief aim; giving way however to ridicule where it arises naturally from a particular character, such as that of Sir Plume. Addison's Spectator upon the exercise of the fan* is extremely gay and ludicrous, resembling in its subject the Rape of the Lock.
Humor belongs to the present chapter, because it is connected with ridicule. Humor in writing is very different from humor in character. When an author insists upon ludicrous subjects with a professed purpose to make his readers laugh, he may be styled a ludicrous writer ; but is scarce entitled to be styled a writer of humor. This quality belongs to an author, who, affecting to be grave and serious, paints his objects in such colors as to provoke mirth and laughter. A writer that is really an humorist in character, does this without design: if not, he must affect the character in order to succeed. Swift and Fontaine, were humorists in character, and their writings are full of humor. Addison was not a humorist in character ; and yet in his prose writings a most delicate and refined humor prevails. Arbuthnot exceeds them all in drollery and humorous painting ; which shows a great genius, because he had nothing of that peculiarity in his character.
There remains to show by examples the manner of treating subjects, so as to give them a ridiculous -appearance.
Orleans. I know him to be valiant.
Constable I was told that by one that knows him better than you.
Orleans. What's he?
Constable. Marry, he told me so himself; and he said he car'd not who knew it.
HENRY V. SHAKSPEARE. He never broke any man's head but his own, and that was against a post when he was drunk.
Ibid. A true critic, in the perusal of a book, is like a dog at a feast, whose thoughts and stomach are wholly set upon what the guests
* No. 102.
fling away, and consequently is apt to snarl most when there are the fewest bones.
TALE OF A TUB. In the following instances, the ridicule arises from absurd conceptions in the persons introduced.
Valentine. Your blessing, sir.
Sir Sampson. You've had it already, sir; I think I sent it you to-day in a bill for four thousand pound; a great deal of money, Brother Foresight.
Foresight. Ay indeed, Sir Sampson, a great deal of money for a young man; I wonder what he can do with it.
LOVE FOR LOVE.-Act II. Sc. 7. Millament. I nauseate walking; 'tis a country diversion; I loathe the country, and every thing that relates to it.
Sir Wilful. Indeed! ha! look ye, look ye, you do? nay, 'tis like you may- -here are choice of pastime here in town, as plays and the like; that must be confess'd indeed.
Miliament. Ah l'etourdie! I hate the town too.
Sir Wilful. Dear heart, that's much-hah! that you should hate 'em both! hah! 'tis like you may; there are some that can't relish the town, and others can't away with the country-'tis like you may be one of these, cousin.
WAY OF THE WORLD.-Act IV. Sc 4. Lord Froth. I assure you, Sir Paul, I laugh at nobody's jests but my own, or a lady's; I assure you, Sir Paul.
Brisk. How? how, my Lord? what, affront my wit? Let me perish, do I never say any thing worthy to be laughed at?
Lord Froth. O foy, don't misapprehend me, I don't say so, for I often smile at your conceptions. But there is nothing more unbecoming a man of quality than to laugh; 'tis such a vulgar expression of the passion! every body can laugh. Then especially to laugh at the jest of an inferior person, or when any body else of the same quality does not laugh with one; ridiculous. To be pleased with what pleases the crowd! Now, when I laugh, I always laugh alone.
DOUBLE DEALER.--Act I. Sc. 4. Irony turns things into ridicule in a peculiar man ner: it consists in laughing at a man under disguise of appearing to praise or speak well of him. Swift af fords us many illustrious examples of that species of ridicule. Take the following:
By these methods, in a few weeks, there starts up many a wri. ter, capable of managing the profoundest and most universal subjects. For what though his head be empty, provided his common place book be full! And if you will bate him but the circumstances of method, and style, and grammar, and invention; allow him but the common privileges of transcribing from others, and digressing from himself, as often as he shall see occasion; he will desire në more ingredients towards fitting up a treatise that shall make a very comely figure on a bookseller's shelf, there to be preserved peat and clean, for a long eternity, adorned with the heraldry of its title, fairly inscribed on a label; never to be thumbed or greased by students, nor bound to everlasting chains of darkness in a library; but when the fullness of time is come, shall happily undergo the trial of purgatory, in order to ascend the sky.*
A parody must be distinguished from every species of ridicule: it enlivens a gay subject by imitating some important incident that is serious. It is ludicrous, and may be risible; but ridicule is not a necessary ingredient. Take the following examples, the first of which is in imitation of Achilles' oath in Homer:
But by this lock, this sacred lock, I swear,
RAPE OF THE LOCK.-Canto IV. 133. The following imitates the history of Agamemnon's sceptre in Homer:
Now meet thy fate, incens'd Belinda cried,
Ibid.-CANTO V. 87.
* Tale of a Tub, sect. 7