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constructed. It possesses, indeed, almost all the properties of a perfect sentence. It is entirely perspicuous. It is loaded with no superfluous or unnecessary words. For, tired or satiated, towards the end of the sentence, are not used for synonymous terms. They convey distinct ideas, and refer to different members of the period; that this sense contains the longest in actim without being tired, that is, without being fatigued with its action; and also, without being satiated with its proper enjoyments. That quality of a good sentence, which I termed its unity, is here perfectly preserved. It is our sight of which he speaks. This is the object carried through the sentence, and presented to us, in every member of it, by those verbs, fills, converses, continues, to each of which it is clearly the nominative. Those capital words are disposed of in the most proper places; and that uniformity is maintained in the construction of the sentence, which suits the unity of the object.
Observe, too, the music of the period; consisting of three members, each of which, agreeably to a rule I formerly mentioned, grows and rises above the other in sound, till the sentence is conducted, at last to one of the most melodious closes which our language admits; without being tired or satiated with its proper enjoyments. Enjoyments, is a word of length and dignity, exceedingly proper for a close which is designed to be a musical one. The harmony is the more happy, as this disposition of the members of the period which suits the sound so well, is no less just and proper with respect to the sense. It follows the order of nature. First, we have the variety of objects mentioned, which sight furnishes to the mind; next, we have the action of sight on those objects ; and lastly, we have the time and continuance of its action. No order could be more natural and happy.
This sentence has still another beauty. It is figurative, without being too much so for the subject. A metaphor runs through it. The sense of sight is, in some degree, personified. We are told of its conversing with its objects; and of its not being tired or satiated with its enjoyments; all which expressions are plain allusions to the actions and feelings of men. This is that slight sort of personification which, without any appearance of boldoess, and without elevating the fancy much above its ordinary state, renders discourse picturesque, and leads us to conceive the author's meaning more distinctly, by clothing abstract ideas, in some degree, with sensible colours. Mr. Addison abounds with this beauty of style beyond most authors; and the sentence which we have been considering, is very expressive of his manner of writing. There is no blemish in it whatever, unless that a strict critic might perhaps object, that the epithet large, which he applies to variety—the largest variety of ideas, is an epithet more commonly applied to extent than to number. It is plain, that he here employed it to avoid the repetition of the word great which occurs immediately afterwards.
• The sense of feeling can, indeed, give us a notion of extension, shape, and all other ideas that enter at the eye, except colours ; but, at the same time, it is very much straitened and confined in its operations, to the number, bulk, and distance of its particular objects.'
This sentence is by no means so happy as the former. It, is indeed, neither clear nor elegant. Extension and shape can, with no propriety, be called ideas ; they are properties of matter. Neither is accurate, even according to Mr. Locke's philosophy, (with which our author seems here to have puzzled himself,) to speak of any sense giving we
notion of ideas ; qur senses give us the ideas themselves.
The meaning would have been much more clear, if the author had expressed himself thus : • The sense of the feeling can, indeed, give us the idea of extension, figure, and all the other properties of matter which are perceived by the eye, except colours.'
The latter part of the sentence is still more embarrassed. For what meaning can we make of the sense of feeling, being confined in its operations, to the number, bulk, and distance of its particular objects ? Surely, every sense is confined, as much as the sense of feeling, to the number, bulk, and distance of its own objects. Sight and feeling are, in this respect, perfectly on a level; neither of them can extend beyond its own objects. The turn of expression is so inaccurate here, that one would be apt to suspect two words to have been omitted in the printing, which were originally in Mr. Addison's manuscript; because the insertion would render the sense much more intelligible and clear. These two words are with regard :-it is very much straitened, and confined in its operations, with regard to the number, bulk, and distance of its particular objects. The meaning then would be, that feeling is more limited than sight in this respect ; that it is confined to a narrow circle, to a small number of objects.
The epithet particular, applied to objects in the conclusion of the sentence, is redundant, and conveys ... meaning whatever. Mr. Addison seems to have used it in place of peculiar, as inderd he does often in other passages of his writings. But particular, and peculiar, though they are too often confounded, are words of different import from each other. particular stands opposed to general; peouliar stands opposed to what is possessed in common with others. Particular, expresses what in the logical style, is called species; peculiar, what is called differentiu. Its pe. culiar objects would have signified in this place, the objects of the sense of feeling, as. distinguished from the objects of any other sense; and would have had more meaning than its particular objects. Though, in truth, neither the one nor the other epithet was requisite. It was sufficient to have said simply, its objects.
• Our sight seems designed to supply all these defects, and may be considered as a more delicate and diffusive kind of touch, that spreads itself over an infinite multitude of bodies, comprehends the largest figures, and brings into our reach some of the most remote parts of the universe.
Here again the author's style returns upon us in all its beauty. This is a sentenc : distinct, graceful, well arranged, and highly musical. In the latter part of it, it is constructed with three meinbers, which are form- : ed much in the same manner with those of the second sentence, on which I bestowed so much praise. The construction is so similar, that if it had followed immediately after it, we should have been sensible of a faulty monotony. But the interposition of another sentence between them, prevents this effect.
' It is this sense which furnishes the imagination with its ideas; so that by the pleasures of the imagination or fancy, (which I shall use promiscuously) 1 here mean such as arise from visible objects, either when we have them actually in our view ; or when we call up their ideas into our minds by paintings, statues, descriptions, or any the like occasion.'
In place of It is the sense which furnishes, the author might have said more shortly, This sense furnishes. But the mode of expression which he has used, is here more proper. This sort of full and ample assertion, it
is this which, is fit to be used when a proposition of importance is laid down, to which we seek to call the reader's attention. It is like pointing with the hand at the object of which we speak. The parenthesis in the middle of the sentence, which I shall use promiscuously is not clear. He ought to have said, terms which I shall use promiscuously; as the verb use relates not to pleasures of the imagination, but to the terms of fancy and imagination, which he was to employ as synonymous. Any the like occasion. To call a painting or a statue an occasion is not a happy expression, nor is it very proper to speak of calling up ideas by occasions. The common phrase, any such means, would have been more natural.
We cannot indeed have a single image in the fancy, that did not make its first entrance through the sight; but we have the power of retaining, altering and compounding those images which we have once reseived, into all the varieties of picture and vision that are most agreeable to the imagination ; for, by this faculty, a man in a dungeon is capable of entertaining himself with scenes and landscapes more beautiful than any that can be found in the whole compass of nature.'
It may be of use to remark, that in one member of this sentence there is an inaccuracy in syntax It is very proper to say, altering and compounding those images which we have once received, into all the varieties of picture and vision. But we can with no propriety say, retaining them into all the varieties; and yet, according to the manner in which the words are ranged, this construction is unavoidable. For retaining, altering, and compounding are participles, each of which equally refers to, and governs the subsequent noun, those imuges; and that noun again is necessarily connected with the following preposition, into. This instance shows the importance of carefully attending to the rules of grammar and syntax; when so pure a writer as Mr. Addison could, through inadvertence, be guilty of such an error. The construction might easily have been rectified, by disjoining the participle retaining from the other two participles in this way: We have the power of retaining those images which we have once received ; and of forming them into all the varieties of picture and vision.' The latter part of the sentence is clear and elegant
There are few words in the English language which are employed in a more loose and uncircumscribed sense than those of the fancy and the imagination.'
There are few words—which are employed. It had been better, if our author here had said more simply, few words in the English language are employed. Mr. Addison, whose style is of the free and full, rather than the nervous kind, deals, on all occasions, in this extended sort of phraseology. But it is proper only when some assertion of consequence is advanced, and which can bear an emphasis ; such as that in the first sentence of the former paragraph. On other occasions, these little words, it is, and there are, ought to be avoided as redundant and enfeebling. Those of the fancy and the imagination. The article ought to have been omitted here. As he does not mean the powers of the fancy and the imagination, but the words only, the article certainly had no proper place; neither, indeed, was there any occasion for the other two words, those of Better, if the sentence had run thus : Few words in the English language are employed in a more loose and uncircumscribed sense, than fancy and imagination.'
I therefore thought it necessary to fix and determine the notion of
these two words, as I intend to make use of them in the thread of my following speculations, that the reader may conceive rightly what is the subject which I proceed upon.'
Though fix and determine may appear synonymous words, yet a difference between them may be remarked, and they may be viewed, as applied here, with peculiar delicacy. The author had just said, that the words of which he is speaking were loose and uncircumscribed. Fir relates to the first of these, determine to the last. We fix what is lonxe; that is, we confine the word to its proper place, that it may not fluctuate in our imagination, and pass from one idea to another; and we determine what is uncircumscribed, that is, we ascertain its termini or limits, we draw the circle round it, that we may see its boundaries. For we cannot conceive the meaning of a word, or indeed of any other thing clearly, will we see its lunits, and know how far it extends. These two words, therefore, have grace and beauty as they are here applied; though a writer, more frugal of words that Mr. Addison, would have preferred be single word ascertain, which conveys, without any metaphor, the port of them both.
The notion of these words, is somewhat of a harsh phrase, at least not so commonly used, as the meaning of these words—as I intend to make use of them in the thread of my speculations ; this is plainly faulty. A sort of metaphor is improperly mixed with words in the literal sense. He might very well have said, as I intend to make use of them in my fol. lowing speculations. This was plain language; but if he chose to borrow an allusion from thread, that allusion ought to have been supported; for there is no consistency in making use of them in the thread of speculations ; and indeed, in expressing any thing so simple and familiar as this is, plain language is always to be preferred to metaphorical—the subject which I proceed upon, is an ungraceful close of a sentence; better the subject upon which I proceed.
I must therefore desire him to remember, that, by the pleasures of the imagination, I mean only such pleasures as arise originally from sight, and that I divide these pleasures into two kinds.'
As the last sentence began with, I therefore thought it necessary to fix, it is careless to begin this sentence in a manner so very similar, I must therefore desire him to remember ; especially, as the small variation of using, on this account, or for this reason, in place of therefore, would have amended the style. When he says, I mean only such pleasures, it may be remarked, that the adverb only is not in its proper place. It is not intended here to qualify the word mean but such pleasures ; and therefore should have been placed in as close a connexion as possible with the word which it limits or qualifies. The style becomes more clear and neat, when the words are arranged thus; "By the pleasures of the imagi. nation, I mean such pleasures only as arise from sight.'
. My design being, first of all, to discourse of those primary pleasures of the imagination, which entirely proceed from such objects as are before our eyes; and in the next place, to speak of those secondary pleasures of the imagination, which flow 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 of things, that are either absent or fictitious.'
It is a great rule in laying down the division of a subject to study neatness and brevity as mach as possible. The divisions are then more dis.
tinctly apprehended, and more easily remember d. This sentence is not perfectly happy in that respect. It is somewhat clogged by a tedious phraseology. My design being first of all, to discourse in the next place to speak of-such objects as are before our eyes--things that are either absent or fictitious. Several words might have been spared here; and the style made more neat and compact.
• The pleasures of the imagination, taken in their full extent, are not so gross as tho.cf sense, nor so refined as those of the understanding.'
This sentence is distinct and elegant.
• The last are indeed more preferable, because they are founded on some new knowledge or improvement in the mind of man: yet it must be confessed, that those of the imagination are as great and as transporting as the other.
In the beginning of this sentence, the phrase more preferable, is such a plain inaccuracy, that one wonders how Mr. Addison should have fallen into iť; seeing preferable, of itself, expresses the comparative degree, and is the same with more eligible, or more excellent.
I must observe farther, that the proposition contained in the last member of this sentence, is neither clear nor neatly expressed-it must be confessed, that those of the imagination are as great and as transporting as the other. In the former sentence, he had compared three things to gether; the pleasures of the imagination, those of sense, and those of the understanding. In the beginning of this sentence, he had called the pleasure of the understanding the last; and he ends the sentence, with Ubserving, that those of the imagination are as great and transporting as the other. Now, besides that the other makes not a proper contrast with the last, he leaves it ambiguous, whether, by the other, he meant the pleasures of the understanding, or the pleasures of sense; for it may refer to either, by the construction; though, undoubtedly, he intended that it should refer to the pleasures of the understanding only. The proposition reduced to perspicuous language, runs thus : Yet it must be confessed, that the pleasures of the imagination, when compared with those of the understanding, are no less great and transporting.'
A beautiful prospect delights the soul as much as a demonstration; and a description in Homer has charmed more readers than a chapter in Aristotle.'
This is a good illustration of what he had been asserting, and is espressed with that happy and elegant turn, for which our author is very remarkable.
* Besides, the pleasures of the imagination have this advantage above those of the understanding, that they are more obvious, and more easy to be acquired.'
This is also an unexceptionable sentence.
This sentence is lively and picturesque. By the gaiety and briskness: which it gives the style, it shews the advantage of intermixing such a short sentence as this amidst a run of longer ones, which never fails to have a happy effect. I must remark, however, a small inaccuracy. A scene capnot be said to enter; an actor enters; but a scene appears, or presents itself
'The colours paint themselves on the fancy, with very little attention of thought or application of mind in the beholder.'
This is still a beautiful illustration; carried on with that agree ab!