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ESSAY UPON UNNATURAL FLIGHTS IN POETRY.
AŚ when some image of a charming face,
Who driven with ungovernable fire,
face : Why brings the fool a magnifying-glass ?
" (1) But (1) But Poetry in fi&tion takes delight, " And, mounting in bold figures out of sight, vi Leaves truth behind in her audacious flight: “ Fables and metaphors that always lie, “ And rash hyperboles that foar so high,
And every ornament of verse must die.” Mistake me not; no figures I exclude, And but forbid intemperance, not food. Who would with care fome happy fiction frame, So mimics truth, it looks the very fame; Not rais'd to force, or feign'd in Nature's scorn, But ineant to grace, illustrate, and adorn. Important truths still let your fables hold, And moral mysteries with art unfold. Ladies and beaux to please is all the task, But the sharp critic will instruction alk.
(1) The poetic world is nothing but fi&tion ; Parnaffus, Pegasus, and the Muses, pure imagination and chimera : but being however a system universally agreed on, all that has or may be contrived or invented upon this foundation according to Nature thall be reputed as truth ; but whatsoever fhall diminish from, or exceed, the just proportions of Nature thall be rejected as false, and pass for extravagance, as dwarfs and giants for moniters.
(2) As veils transparent cover, but not hide, Such metaphors appear when right apply'd; When thro' the phrase we plainly see the sense, Truth, where the meaning's obvious, will
dispense; The reader what in reason 's due believes ; Nor can we call that false which not deceives..
(3) Hyperboles, fo daring and so bold, Disdaining bounds, are yet by rules control'd: :
(2) When Homer, mentioning Achilles, terms him a Lion, this is a metaphor, and the meaning is obvious and true, though the literal sense be false, the poét intending there biy to give his reader some idea of the strength and fortitude of bis hero. Had he said that wolf, or that bear, this had been false, by-presenting an image not conformable to the nature and character of a hero, &c.
(3) Hyperboles are of divers forts, and the manner of introducing them is different : some are, as it were, naturalized and established by a customary way of expression ; as when we say such a one is as swift as the wind, whiter than snow, or the like. Homer, speaking of Nereus, calls him beauty itself; Martial of Zoilus, lewdness itself. Such hyperboles lie indeed, but deceive us not ; and therefore Seneca terms them lies that readily conduct our imagination to truths, and have an intelligible fignification, though the expression be strained
Above the clouds, but still within our fight, They mount with truth, and make a tow'ring
flight; Presenting things impossible to view, They wander thro' incredible to true : Falsehoods, thus mix'd, like metals are refin'd, And truth, like filver, leaves the dross behind.
Thus poetry has ample space to soar, Not needs forbidden regions to explore : Such vaunts as his who can with patience read, Who thus describes his hero llain and dead : " (4) Kill'd as he was, insensible of death, “ He fill fights on, and scorns to yield his 6 breath *."
The beyond credibility. Custom has likewise familiarized another way for hyperboles, for example, by irony; as when we say of Come infamous woman the is a civil person, where the meaning is to be taken quite opposite to the letter. These few rigures are mentioned only for example sake ; it will be understood thac all others are to be used with the like care and discretion.
(4) I needed not to have travelled so far for an extravagant fight; I remember one of British growth of the like nature :
See those dead bodies hence convey'd with care,
The noisy culverin, o'ercharg'd, lets fly,
But I chufe rather to correct gently, by foreign examples, hoping that such as are conscious of the like excelles will take the hint, and secretly reprove themselves. It may be possibic for some tempers to maintain rage and indignation to the last gasp; but the foul and body once parted, there muft neceflarily be a determination of action.
Quodcunque oftendis mihi fic incredulus odi. I cannot forbear quoting, on this occasion, as an example for the present purpose, two noble lines of Jasper Maine's, in the collection of the Oxford Verses printed in the year 1643, pour the death of my grandfather Sir Bevil Granville, llain in the heat of action at the battle of Lansdowne. The poet, after having described the fight, the soldiers animated by the example of their leader, and enraged at his death, thus concludes,
Thus he being Hain, his action fought anew,
And the dead conquer'd, whilt the living llew. This is agreeable to truth, and within the compats of nature : át is shus only that the dead can act. D