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mentioned: it reacheth even the slighter modifications. Slow action, for example, is imitated by words pronounced slow; labour or toil, by words harsh or rough in their sound. But this subject has been already handled *.
In dialogue-writings the condition of the speaker is chiefly to be regarded in framing the expression. The centinel in Hamlet, interrogated with relation to the ghost whether his watch had been quiet, answers with great propriety for a man in his station, "Not a mouse stirring -f."
I proceed to a second remark, not less important than the former. No person of reflection but must be senfible, that an incident makes a stronger impression on an eye-witness, than when heard at second hand. Writers of genius, sensible that the eye is the best avenue to the heart, represent every thing as passing in our sight; and from readers or hearers, transform us, as it were, into spectators: a skilful writer conceals himself, and presents his personages: m a word, every thing becomes dramatic as much as possible. Plutarch, de gloria Athenienfium^
* Ch. 18. sect. 3.
■\ One can scarce avoid smiling; at the blindness of a certai» •ritic, who, with an air of self-sufficiency, condemns this expresion as low and vulgar. A French poet, fays he, would eypres* tfie same thought in a more sublime manner: "Mais tout dort, et "1'armee, et les venrs, et Neptune." And he adds, "The "English pott may please at London, but the French every where « else.*
observes, observes, that Thucydides makes his reader a spectator, and inspires him with the fame passions as if he were an eye-witness. I am intitled to make the fame observation upon our countryman Swift. From this happy talent arises that energy of style which is peculiar to him: he cannot always avoid narration; but the pencil is his choice, by which he bestows life and colouring upon his objects. Pope is richer in ornament, but possesles not in the fame degree the talent of drawing from the life: A translation of the sixth satire of Horace, begun by the former, and finished by the latter, affords the fairest opportunity for a comparison. Pope obviously imitates the picturesque manner of his friend: yet every one of taste must be sensible, that the imitation, though sine, falls sliort of the original. In other instances, where Pope writes in his own itylef the difference of manner is still more conspicuous.
Abstract or general terms have no good effect in any composition for amusement; because it is only of particular objects that images can be formed *. Shakcspear's style in that respect is excellent: every article in his descriptions is particular, as in nature; and if accidentally a vague expression slip in, the blemiih is extremely discernible by the bluntness of its impression. Take
• Sec chap. 4.
the the following example: Falstaff, excusing himself for running away at a robbery, says,
By the Lord, I knew ye, as well as he that made ye. Why, hear ye, my masters; was it for me to kill the heir-apparent? should I turn upon the true prince? Why, thou knowest, I am as valiant as Hercules; but beware instinct, the lion will not touch the true prince: instinct is a great matter. I was a coward on instinct: I shall think the better of myself, and thee, during my life; I, for a valiant lion, and thou for a true prince. But, by the Lord, lads, I am glad you have the money. Hostess, clap to the doors, watch to-night, pray tomorrow. Gallants, lads, boys, hearts of gold, all the titles of good fellowship come to you! What, shall we be merry? shall we have a play extempore?
First Part Henry IV. act 2,sc. 9.
The particular words I object to are, inJiind is a great matter, which make but a poor figure, compared with the liveliness of the rest of the speech. It was one of Homer's advantages, that he wrote before general terms were multiplied: the superior genius of Shakespear displays itself in avoiding them after they were multiplied. Addison describes the family of Sir Roger de Coverley in the following words:
You would take his valet de chambre for his brother, his butler is gray-headed, his groom is one of the gravest men that I have ever seen, and his coachman has the looks (*f a privy counsellor, Speflator, N° 106
The The description of the groom is less lively than of the others; plainly because the expression, being vague and general, tends not tp form any image. "Dives opum variarum *," is an expression still more vague; and so are the following:
Grande decus, columenque rerum.
Hor at. Carm. I. 2. ode ij.
• ct fide Tela
Dices laborantes in uno
Penelopen, vitreamque Circen.
Horat. Carm. Hi. i. ode ij.
In the fine arts, it is a rule, to put the capital objects in the strongest point of view; and even to present them oftener than once, where it can be done. In history-painting, the principal figure is placed in the front, and in the best light: an equestrian statue is placed in a centre of streets, that it may be seen from many places at once. In no composition is there a greater opportunity for this rule than in writing:
■ Full many a lady
I've ey'd with best regard, and many a time
Th' harmony of their tongues hath into bondage
Brought my too diligent ear; for several virtues
Have I lik'd several women, never any
With .so full soul, but some defect in her;
Did quarrel with the noblest grace she ow'd,
And put it to the soil. But you, O you,
So perfect, and so peerless, are created
Of every creature's best. The Tempest, $£l 3. sc. 1.
With thee conversing I forget all time;
Paradise Lost, book 4. /. 634.
* What mean ye, that ye use this proverb, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the childrens teeth are set on edge? As I live, faith the Lord God, ye shall not have