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Shakspeare, whose knowledge of nature is no less profound than extensive, has not overlooked this propensity:
Othello. Get me some poison, Iago, this night; I'll not expostulate with her, lest her body and her beauty unprovide my mind again; this night, lago.
lago. Do it not with poison; strangle her in bed, even in the bed she hath contaminated. Othello. Good, good; the justice of it pleases; very good.-Othello, act 4. sc.5.
Warwick. From off the gates of York fetch down the head,
Third Part of Henry IV. act 2. se. 9. Persons in their last moments are generally seized with an anxiety to be buried with their relations. In the Amynta of Tasso, the lover, hearing that his mistress was torn to pieces by a wolf, expresses a desire to die the same death.*
Upon the subject in general I have two remarks to add. The first concerns resemblance, which, when too entire, hath no effect, however different in kind the things compared may be. The remark is applicable to works of art only; for natural objects of different kinds have scarce ever an entire resemblance. To give an example in a work of art, marble is a sort of matter very different from what composes an animal; and marble cut into a human figure produces great pleasure by the resemblance : but, if a marble statue be coloured like a picture, the resemblance is so entire as at a distance to make the statue appear a person : we discover the mistake when we approach; and no other emotion is raised, but surprise occasioned by the deception; the figure still appears a real person, rather than an imitation; and we must use reflection to correct the mistake. This cannot happen in a picture; for the resemblance can never be so entire as to disguise the imitation.
The other remark relates to contrast. Emotions make the greatest figure when contrasted in succession ; but the succession ought neither to be rapid, nor immoderately slow; if too slow, the effect of contrast becomes faint by the distance of the emotions; and if rapid, no single emotion has room to expand itself to its full size, but is stifled, as it were, in the birth, by a succeeding emotion. 'The funeral oration of the Bishop of Meaux upon the Dutchess of Orleans is a perfect hodge-podge of cheerful and melancholy representations following each other in the quickest succession: opposite emotions are best felt in succession : but each emotion separately should be raised to its due pitch before another be introduced.
What is above laid down will enable us to determine a very important question concerning emotions raised by the fine arts, namely, Whether ought similar emotions to succeed each other, or dissimilar? The emotions raised by the fine arts are for the most part too nearly related to make a figure by resemblance; and for that reason their succession ought to be regulated as much as
* Act iv. se. 2.
possible by contrast. This holds confessedly in epic and dramatic compositions ; and the best writers, led perhaps by taste more than by reasoning, have generally aimed at that beauty. It holds equally in music: in the same cantata, all the variety of emotions that are within the power of music may not only be indulged, but to make the greatest figure, ought to be contrasted. In gardening, there is an additional reason for the rule; the emotions raised by that art are at best so faint, that every artifice should be employed to give them their utmost vigour : a field may be laid out in grand, sweet, gay, neat, wild, melancholy scenes; and when these are viewed in succession, grandeur ought to be contrasted with neatness, regularity with wildness, and gaiety with melancholy, so as that each emotion may succeed its opposite; nay, it is an improvement to intermix in the succession rude and uncultivated spots as well as unbounded views, which in themselves are disagreeable, but in succession heighten the feeling of the agreeable objects; and we have nature for our guide, which in her most beautiful landscapes often intermixes rugged rocks, dirty marshes, and barren stony heaths. The greatest masters of music have the same view in their compositions : the second part of an Italian song seldom conveys any sentiment; and, by its harshness, seems purposely contrived to give a greater relish for the interesting part of the composition.
A small garden comprehended under a single view, affords little opportunity for that embellishment. Dissimilar emotions require different tones of mind; and therefore in conjunction can never be pleasant ;* gaiety and sweetness may be combined, or wildness and gloominess: but a composition of gaiety and gloominess is distasteful. The rude uncultivated compartment of furze and broom in Richmond garden hath a good effect in the succession of objects ; but a spot of that nature would be insufferable in the midst of a polished parterre or flower-pot. A garden, therefore, if not of great extent, admits not dissimilar emotions; and in ornamenting a small garden, the safest course is to confine it to a single expression.
For the same reason, a landscape ought also to be confined to a single expression; and accordingly it is a rule in painting, That if the subject be gay, every figure ought to contribute to that emotion.
It follows from the foregoing train of reasoning, that a garden near a city ought to have an air of solitude. The solitariness again of a waste country ought to be contrasted in forming a garden; no temples, no obscure walks ; but jets d'eau, cascades, objects active, gay, and splendid. Nay, such a garden should in some measure avoid imitating nature, by taking on an extraordinary appearance of regularity and art, to show the busy hand of man, which in a waste country has a fine effect by contrast.
It may be gathered from what is said above,f that wit and ridicule make not an agreeable mixture with grandeur. Dissimilar emotions have a fine effect in a slow succession ; but in a rapid succession, which approaches to co-existence, they will not be relished: in the midst of a laboured and elevated description of a
battle, Virgil introduces a ludicrous image, which is certainly out of its place :
Obvius ambustum torrem Chorinæus ab ara
Nidoremque ambusta dcdit. Æn. vij. 298.
Mentre fan questi i bellici stromenti,
Versò mugghiando e sospirando fuore.—Gerusal. cant. 4. st. 1. It would however, be too austere to banish altogether ludicrous images from an epic poem. This poem doth not always soar above the clouds ; it admits great variety; and upon occasion can descend even to the ground without sinking. In its more familiar tones, a ludicrous scene may be introduced without impropriety. This is done by Virgil* in a foot-race; the circumstances of which, not exrepting the ludicrous part, are copied from Homer.† After a fit of merriment, we are, it is true, the less disposed to the serious and sublime ; but then, a ludicrous scene, by unbending the mind from severe application to the more interesting subjects, may prevent fatigue, and preserve our relish entire.
UNIFORMITY AND VARIETY. In attempting to explain uniformity and variety, in order to shew how we are affected by these circumstances, a doubt occurs what method ought to be followed. In adhering close to the subject, I foresee difficulties ; and yet by indulging such a circuit as may be necessary for a satisfactory view, I probably shall incur the censure of wandering.–Yet the dread of censure ought not to prevail over what is proper : beside that the intended circuit will lead to some collateral matters, that are not only curious, but of considerable importance in the science of human nature.
The necessary succession of perceptions may be examined in two different views ; one with respect to order and connexion, and one with respect to uniformity and variety. In the first view it is handled above :f and I now proceed to the second. The world we inhabit is replete with things no less remarkable for their variety than for their number: these, unfolded by the wonderful mechanism of external sense, furnish the mind with many perceptions ; which, joined with ideas of memory, of imagination, and of reflection, form a complete train that has not a gap or interval. This train of perceptions and ideas depends very little on will. The mind, as has been ob
Æn. lib. 5. †lliad, book 23. 1. 789. # Chap. 1.
served,* is so constituted, “That it can by no effort break off the succession of its ideas, nor keep its attention long fixed upon the same object :” we can arrest a perception in its course; we can shorten its natural duration, to make room for another; we can vary the succession by change of place or of amusement; and we can in some measure prevent variety, by frequently recalling the same object af. ter short intervals : but still there must be a succession, and a change from one perception to another. By artificial means, the succession may be retarded or accelerated, may be rendered more various or more uniform, but in one shape or another is unavoidable.
The train, even when left to its ordinary course, is not always uniform in its motion ; there are natural causes that accelerate or retard it considerably. The first I shall mention is a peculiar constitution of mind. One man is distinguished from another by no circumstance more remarkably than his train of perceptions: to a cold languid temper belongs a slow course of perceptions, which occasions dulness of apprehension and sluggishness in action : to a warm temper, on the contrary, belongs a quick course of perceptions, which occasions quickness of apprehension and activity in business. The Asiatic nations, the Chinese especially, are observed to be more cool and deliberate than the Europeans : may not the reason be, that heat enervates by exhausting the spirits ? and that a certain degree of cold, as in the middle regions of Europe, bracing the fibres, rouseth the mind, and produceth a brisk circulation of thought accompanied with vigour in action ? In youth is observable a quicker succession of perceptions than in old age : and hence, in youth, a remarkable avidity for variety of amusements, which in riper years give place to more uniform and more sedate occupation. This qualifies men of middle age for business, where activity is required, but with a greater proportion of uniformity than variety. In old age, a slow and languid succession makes variety unnecessary; and for that reason, the aged, in all their motions, are generally governed by an habitual uniformity. Whatever be the cause, we may venture to pronounce, that heat in the imagination and temper is always connected with a brisk flow of perceptions.
The natural rate of succession depends also, in some degree, upon the particular perceptions that compose the train. An agreeable object, taking a strong hold of the mind, occasions a slower succession than when the objects are indifferent : grandeur and novelty fix the attention for a considerable time, excluding all other ideas : and the mind thus occupied is sensible of no vacuity. Some emotions, by hurrying the mind from object to object, accelerate the succession. Where the train is composed of connected perceptions or ideas, the succession is quick; for it is so ordered by nature, that the mind goes easily and sweetly along connected objects.Ť On the other hand, the succession must be slow, where the train is composed of unconnected perceptions or ideas, which find not ready access to the mind; and that an unconnected object is not admitted without a struggle, appears from the unsettled state of the mind for some moments after such an object is presented, wavering between it and the former train : during that short period, one or other of the
* Locke, book 2. chap. 14. + See chap. 1.
former objects will intrude, perhaps oftener than once, till the attention be fixed entirely upon the new object. The same observations are applicable to ideas suggested by language: the mind can bear a quick succession of related ideas ; but an unrelated idea, for which the mind is not prepared, takes time to make an impression ; and therefore a train composed of such ideas ought to proceed with a slow pace. Hence an epic poem, a play, or any story connected in all its parts, may be perused in a shorter time than a book of maxims or apophthegms, of which a quick succession creates both confusion and fatigue.
Such latitude hath nature indulged in the rate of succession : what latitude it indulges with respect to uniformity we proceed to examine. The uniformity or variety of a train, so far as composed of perceptions, depends on the particular objects that surround the percipient at the time. The present occupation must also have an influence: for one is sometimes engaged in a multiplicity of affairs, sometimes altogether vacant. A natural train of ideas of memory is more circumscribed, each object being, by some connexion, linked to what precedes and to what follows it: these connexions, which are many, and of different kinds, afford scope for a sufficient degree of variety; and at the same time prevent that degree which is unpleasant by excess. Temper and.constitution also have an influence here, as well as upon the rate of succession : a man of a calm and sedate temper admits not willingly any idea but what is regularly introduced by a proper connexion : one of a roving disposition embraces with avidity every new idea, however slender its relation be to those that preceded it. Neither must we overlook the nature of the perceptions that compose the train ; for their influence is no less with respect to uniformity and variety, than with respect to the rate of succession. The mind engrossed by any passion, love or hatred, hope or fear, broods over its object
, and can bear no interruption ; and in such a state, the train of perceptions must not only be slow, but extremely uniform. Anger newly inflamed eagerly grasps its object, and leaves not a cranny in the mind for another thought but of revenge. In the character of Hotspur, that state of mind is represented to the life ; a picture remarkable for likeness as well as for high colouring.
Worcester. Peace, cousin, say no more.
Hotspur. If he fall in, good night. Or sink or swim,
Worcester. Those same noble Scots,
Hotspur. I'll keep them all;