« הקודםהמשך »
into the first edition of the Spectator, ran through all the subsequent ones.
• In the last place, he has made every thing that is beautiful, in all other objects, pleasant, or rather has made so many objects appear beautiful, that he might render the whole creation more gay and delightful. He has given almost every thing about us the power of raising an agreeable idea in the imagination; so that it is impossible for us to behold his works with coldness or indifference, and to survey so many beauties without a secret satisfaction and complacency.'
The idea, here, is so just, and the language so clear, flowing and agreeable, that, to remark any diffuseness which may be attributed to these sentences, would be justly esteemed hypercritical.
- Things would make but a poor appearance to the eye, if we saw them only in their proper figures and motions : and what reason can we assign for their exciting in us, many of those ideas which are different from any thing that exists in the objects themselves, (for such are light and colours, were it not to add supernumerary ornaments to the universe, and make it more agreeable to the imagination ?
Our author is now entering on a theory, which he is about to illustrate, if not with much philosophical accuracy, yet with great beauty of fancy, and glow of expression. A strong instance of his want of accuracy, appears in the manner in which he opens the subject. For what meaning is there in things exciting in us many of those ideas which are different from any thing that exists in the objects? No one, sure, ever imagined that our ideas exist in the objects. Ideas, it is agreed on all hands, can exist no where but in the mind. What Mr. Locke's philosophy teaches, and what our author should have said, is exciting in us many ideas of qualities which are different from any thing that exists in the objects. The ungraceful parenthesis which follows, for such are light and colours, had far better have been avoided, and incorporated with the rest of the sentence, in this manner; exciting in us many ideas of qualities, such as light and colours, which are different from any thing that exists in the objects.
“We are every where entertained with pleasing shows and apparitions. We discover imaginary glories in the heavens, and in the earth, and see some of this visionary beauty poured out upon the whole creation; but what a rough unsightly sketch of nature should we be entertained with, did all her colouring disappear, and the several distinctions of light and shade vanish ? In short, our souls are delightfully lost and bewildered in a pleasing delusion; and we walk about like the enchanted hero of a romance, who sees beautiful castles, woods, and meadows; and, at the same time, hears the warbling of birds, and the purling of streams; but upon the finishing of some secret spell, the fantastic scene breaks up, and the disconsolate knight finds himself on a barren heath, or in a solitary desert.'
After having been obliged to point out several inaccuracies, I return with much more pleasure to the display of beauties, for which we have now full scope; for these two sentences are such as do the highest honour to Mr. Addison's talents as a writer. Warmed with the idea he had laid hold of, his delicate sensibility to the beauty of nature, is finely displayed in the illustration of it. The style is flowing and full, without being too diffuse. It is flowery, but not gaudy; elevated, but not ostentatious.
Amidst this blaze of beauties, it is necessary for us to remark one or two inaccuracies. When it is said, towards the close of the first of those sentences, what a rough unsightly sketch of nature should we be enter. tained with, the preposition with should have been placed at the begin. ning, rather than at the end of this member; and the word entertained, is both improperly applied here, and carelessly repeated from the fornier part of the sentence. It was there employed according to its more common usé, as relating to agreeable objects. We are every where entertained with pleasing shows. Here, it would have been more proper to have changed the phrase, and said, with what a rough unsightly sketch of nature should we be presented. At the close of the second sentence, where it is said, the fantastic scene breaks up, the expression is lively, but not altogetlier justifiable. An assembly breaks up; a scene closes or disappears
. Excepting these two slight inaccuracies, the style, here, is not only correct, but perfectly elegant. The most striking beauty of the passage arises from the happy simile which the author employs, and the fine illustration which it gives to the thought. The enchanted hero, the beautiful castles, the fantastic scene, the secret spell, the disconsolate knight, are terms chosen with the utmost felicity, and strongly recal all those romantic ideas with which he intended to amuse our imagination. Few authors are more successful in their imagery than Mr. Addison; and few passages in his works, or in those of any author, are more beautiful and picturesque, than that on which we have been commenting.
It is not improbable, that something like this may be the state of the soul after its first separation, in respect of the images it will receive from matter ; though, indeed, the ideas of colours are so pleasing and beautiful in the imagination, that it is possible the soul will not be de prived of them, but, perhaps, find them excited by some other occasional cause as they are, at present, by the different impressions of the subtile matter on the organ of sight.'
As all human things, after having attained the summit, begin to de cline, we must acknowledge, that, in this sentence, there is a sensible falling off from the beauty of what went before. It is broken, and deficient in unity. Its parts are not sufficiently compacted. It contains, besides some faulty expressions. When it is said something, like this may be the state of the soul, to the pronoun this, there is no deterinined antecedent; it refers to the general import of the preceding description, which, as I have several times remarked, always rendered style clumsy and inelegant, if not obscure the state of the soul after its first separation, appears to be an incomplete phrase, and first, seems an useless, and even an im. proper word. More distinct if he had said state of the soul immediately on its separation from the body. The adverb perhaps is redundant, after having just before said, it is impossible.
• I have here supposed, that my reader is acquainted with that great modern discovery, which is, at present, universally acknowledged by all the inquirers into natural philosophy: namely, that light and colours, as apprehended by the imagination, are only ideas in the mind, and not qualities that have any existence in matter. "As this is a truth which has been proved incontestibly by many modern philosophers, and is, indeed, one of the finest speculations in that science, if the English reader would see the notion explained at large, he may find it in the eighth chapter of the second book of Mr. Locke's Essay on the Human Understanding.'
In these two concluding sentences, the author, hastening to finish, ap
pears to write rather carelessly. In the first of them a manifest tautology occurs, when he speaks of what is universally acknowledged by all inquin rers. In the second when he calls a truth which has been incontestibly proved ; first, a speculation, and afterwards a notion, the language surely is not very accurate. When he adds, one of the finest speoulations in that science, it does not, at first, appear what science he means. One would imagine, he meant to refer to modern philosophers; for natural philosophy (to which, doubtless, he refers) stands at much too great a distance to be the proper or obvious antecedent to the pronoun that. The circumstance towards the close, if the English reader would see the notion explained at large, he may find it, is properly taken notice of by the author of the Elements of Criticism, as wrong arranged, and is rectified thus ; the English reader, if he would see the notion explained at large, may find it, &c.
In concluding the examination of this paper, we may observe that though not a very long one, it exhibits a striking view both of the beauties, and the defects, of Mr. Addison's style. It contains some of the best, and some of the worst sentences, that are to be found in his works. But upon the whole, it is an agreeable and elegant essay.
CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF THE STYLE IN No. 414.
OF THE SPECTATOR. If we consider the works of nature and art, as they are qualified to entertain the imagination, we shall find the last very defective in comparison of the former; for though they may sometimes appear as beautiful or strange, they can have nothing in them of that vastness and immensity which afford so great an entertainment to the mind of the beholder.
í had occasion formerly to observe, that an introductory sentence should always be short and simple, and contain no more matter than is necessary for opening the subject. This sentence leads to a repetition of this observation, as it contains both an assertion and the proof of that assertion; two things which, for the most part, but especially at first setting out, are with more advantage kept separate. It would certainly have been better, if this sentence had contained only the assertion, ending with the word former ; and if a new one had then begun, entering on the proofs of nature's superiority over art, which is the subject continued to the end of the paragraph. The proper division of the period I shall point out, after having first made a few observations which occur on different parts of it.
If we consider the works. Perhaps it might have been preferable if our author had began, with saying, when we consider the works. Discourse onght always to begin, when it is possible, with a clear proposition. The if, which is here employed, converts the sentence into a supposition, which is always in some degree entangling, and proper to be used only when the course of reasoning renders it necessary. As this observation, however, may, perhaps, be considered as over-refined, and as the sepse
would have remained the same in either form of expression, I do not mean to charge our author with any error on this account. We cannot absolve him from inaccuracy in what immediately follows-the works of nature and art. It is the scope of the author throughout this whole paper, to compare nature and art together, and to oppose them in several views to each other. Certainly, therefore, in the beginning, he ought to have kept them as distinct as possible, by interposing the preposition, and saying, ihe works of nature and of art. As the words stand at present, they would lead us to think that he is going to treat of these works, not as contrasted, but as connected; as united in forming one whole. When I speak of body and soul as united in the human nature, I would interpose neither article nor preposition between them; man is compounded of soul and body. But the case is altered, if I mean to distinguish them from each other ; then I represent them as separate, and say, 'I am to treat of the interest of the soul, and of the body.'
Though they may sometimes appear as beautiful or strange. I cannot help considering this as a loose member of the period. It does not clearly appear at first what the antecedent is to they. In reading onwards, we see the works of art to be meant; but from the structure of the sentence, they might be understood to refer to the former, as well a: to the last. In what follows, there is a greater ambiguity--may sometimes appear as beautiful or strange. It is very doubtful in what sense we are to understand as, in this passage. For, according as it is accented in reading, it may signify, that they appear equally beautiful or strange, to wit, with the works of nature; and then it has the force of the Latin tam: or it may signify no more than that they appear in the light of beautiful and strange; and then it has the force of the Latin tanquam, without importing any comparison. An expression so ambiguous, is always faulty; and it is doubly so here; because, if the author intended the former sense, and meant (as seems most probable) to employ as for a mark of comparison, it was necessary to have mentioned both the compared objects; whereas only one member of the comparison is here mentioned, viz. the works of art: and if he intended the latter sense, as was in that ease superfluous and encumbering, and he had better have said simply, appear beautiful or strange. The epithet strange, which Mr. Addison applies to the works of art, cannot be praised. Strange works, appears not by any means a happy expression to signify what he here intends, which is new or uncommon.
The sentence concludes with much harmony and dignity; they can have nothing in them of that vastness and immensity which afford so great on entertainment to the mind of the beholder. There is here a fulness and grandeur of expression well suited to the subject; though, perkaps, entertainment is not quite the proper word for expressing the effect which vastness and immensity have upon the mind. Reviewing the observations that have been made on this period, it might, I think with advantage, be resolved into two sentences somewhat after this manner : “When we consider the works of nature and of art, as they are qualified to entertain the imagination, we shall find the latter very defective in com-. parison of the former. The works of art may sometimes appear no less beautiful or uncommon than those of nature; but they can have nothing of that vastness and immensity which so highly transport the mind of the beholder,
"The one,' proceeds our author in the next sentence, may be as polite and delicate as the other ; but can never shew herself so august and magnificent in the design.'
The one and the other, in the first part of this sentence, must unquestionably refer to the works of nature and of art. For of these he had been speaking immediately before ; and with reference to the plural word, works, had employed the plural pronoun they. But in the course of the sentence, he drops this construction ; and passes very incongruously to the personification of art-can never shew herself. To render his style consistent, art, and not the works of art, should have been made the nominative in this sentence. Art may be as polite and delicate as ndo ture, but can never sher herself. Polite is a term oftener applied to persons and to manners, than to things; and is employed to signify their being highly civilized. Polished, or refined, was the idea which the author had in view. Though the general turn of this sentence be elegant, yet, in order to render it perfect, I must observe, that the concluding words, in the design, should either have been altogether omitted, or something should have been properly opposed to them in the preceding member of the period, thus : Art may, in the execution, be as polished and delicate as nature; but, in the design, can never shew herself so august and magnificent.
There is something more bold and masterly in the rough careless strokes of nature, than in the nice touches and embellishments of art.'
This sentence is perfectly happy and elegant; and carries, in all the expressions, that curiosa felicitas, for which Mr. Addison is so often remarkable. Bold and masterly, are words applied with the utmost propriety. The strokes of nature, are finely opposed to the touches of art; and the rough strokes to the nice touches; the former, painting the freedom and ease of nature, and the other, the diminutive exactness of art; while both are introduced before us as different performers, and their respective merits in execution very justly contrasted with each other.
• The beauties of the most stately garden or palace lie in a narrow compass, the imagination immediately runs them over, and requires something else to gratify her; but in the wide fields of nature, the sight wanders up and down without confinement, and is fed with an infinite variety of images, without any certain stint or number.'
This sentence is not altogether so correct and elegant as the former. It carries, however, in the main, the character of our author's style; not strictly accurate, but agreeable, easy, and unaffected; enlivened too with a slight personification of the imagination, which gives a gaiety to the period. Perhaps it had been better, if this personification of the imagination, with which the sentence is introduced, had been continued throughout, and not changed unnecessarily, and even improperly, into sight, in the second member, which is contrary both to unity and elegance. It might have stood thus : the imagination immediately runs them over, and requires something else to gratify her ; but in the wide fields of nature, she wanders up and down without confinement. The epithet stately, which the author uses in the beginning of the sentence, applies with more propriety to palaces than to gardens. The close of the sentence, without any certain stint or number, may be objected to, as both superfluous and ungraceful. It might perhaps have terminated better in this manner : she is fed with an infinite variety of images, and wanders up and down without.confinement.