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with being always upon the stretch, is foon difgusted; and if he persevere, becomes thoughtless, and indifferent. Further, a fidion gives no pleasure unless it be painted in colours so lively as to produce some perception of reality ; which never can be done effectually where the images are formed with labour or difficulty. For these reasons, I cannot avoid condemning the Batra. chomuomachia, said to be the composition of Homer: it is beyond the power of imagination to form a clear and lively image of frogs and mice, acting with the dignity of the highest of our species ; nor can we form a conception of the reality of such an action, in any manner so di. ftinct as to interest our affections even in the flightest degree.
The Rape of the Lock is of a character clearly diftinguishable from those now mentioned : it is not properly a burlesque performance, but what may rather be termed an heroi-comical poem : it treats a gay and familiar subject with pleasantry, and with a moderate degree of dignity : the author puts not on a mask like Boileau, nor professes to make us laugh like Taffoni. The Rape of the Lock is a genteel species of writing, less ftrained than those mentioned : and is pleasant or ludicrous without having ridicule for its chief aim; giving way however to ridicule where it arises naturally from a particular character, such as that of Sir Plume. Addison's Spectator upon
the exercise of the fan * is extremely gay and ludicrous, resembling in its subject the Rape of the Lock.
Humour belongs to the present chapter, because it is connected with ridicule. Congreve defines humour to be “a singular and unavoid. “able manner of doing or saying any thing, « peculiar and natural to one man only, by " which his speech and actions are distinguished s from those of other men.” Were this defi. nition just, a majestic and commanding air, which is a singular property, is humour; as also a natural flow of correct and commanding eloquence, which is no less fingular. Nothing just or proper is denominated humour; nor any singularity of character, words, or actions, that is valued or respected. When we attend to the character of an humorist, we find that it arises from circumstances both risible and improper, and therefore that it lessens the man in our esteem, and makes him in some measure ridiculous.
Humour in writing is very different from humour in character. When an author insists up. on ludicrous subjects with a professed purpose to ! make his readers laugh, he may be styled a ludicrous writer ; but is scarce entitled to be styled a writer of humour. This quality belongs to an author, who, affecting to be grave and serious, paints his objects in fuch colours as to provoke Vol. 1.
* No. 102,
mirth and laughter. A writer that is really an humorist in character, does this without design: if not, he must affect the character in order to succeed. Swift and Fontaine were humorists in character, and their writings are full of humour. Addison was not an humorist in character; and yet in his prose writings a most delicate and refined humour prevails. Arbuthnot exceeds them all in drollery and humourous painting; which shews a great genius, because, if I am not misinformed, he had nothing of that peculiarity in his character.
There remains to show by examples the manner of treating subjects, so as to give them a ri. diculous appearance.
Il ne dit jamais, je vous donne, mais, je vous prete le bon jour.
Orleans. I know him to be valiant.
Constable. I was told that by one that knows him better than you.
Orleans. What's he?.
Constable. Marry, he told me so himself; and he said he car'd not who knew it.
Henry V. Shakespeare.
He never broke any man's head but his own, and that was against a post when he was drunk.
Millament. Sententiouş Mirabell! pr’ythee don't look with that violent and inflexible wise face, like Solomon at the dividing of the child in an old tapestry hanging.
Way of the World.
A true critic, in the perusal of a book, is like a dog at a feast, whose thoughts and stomach are wholly set upon what the guests fling away, and consequently is apt to snarl most when there are the fewest bones.
Tale of a Tub.
In the following instances, the ridicule arises from absurd conceptions in the persons introduced.
Mascarille. Te souvient-il, vicomte de cette demilune, que nous emportâmes sur les ennemis au liege d'Arras ?
Fodelet. Que veux tu dire avec ta demi-lune? c'étoit bien une lune tout entiere.
Moliere les Precieuses Ridicules, Sc. 11.
Slender. I came yonder at Eaton to marry Mrs Anne Page ; and she's a great lubberly boy.
Page. Upon my life then you took the wrong.
Slender. What need you tell me that? I think so when I took a boy for a girl ; if I had been marry'd to him, for all he was in woman's apparel, I would not have had him.
Merry Wives of Windsor.
Valentine. Your blessing, Sir.
Sir Sampson. You've had it already, Sir; I think I sent it you to-day in a bill for four thousand pound; a great deal of money, Brother Foresight.
A a 2
Estrazbt. Az indeed, Sir Sarpioa, a great deal of Doney for a young man ; I wonder what can he do wi5 it.
Lze for Lsse, da it. Sc.7.
Viicment. I nauseare walking; 'tis a country-diver. 4:09; I lcthe the couary, and every thing that relates to it.
Sir Toful. Indeed! hah ! look se, look ye, you do? nay, 'tis like you may- here are choice of paitimes here in town, as plays and the like; that must be confessid indeed.
Millarreat. Ab l'etourdie! I hate the town too.
Sir il iful. Dear heart, that's much- hah! that you should hate 'em both! hah! 'tis like you may; there are some can't relih the town, and others can't away with the country— 'tis like you may be one of there, Cousine.
Tug of the World, Alt it. Sc. 4.
Lord Froth. I assure you, Sir Paul, I laugh at nobody's jests but my own, or a lady's : I assure, you, Sir Paul.
Brisk. How? how, my Lord? what, affront my wit! Let me perish, do I never say any thing worthy to be laugh’d at ?
Lord Froth. O foy, don't misapprehend me, I don't say so, for I often smile at your conceptions. But there is nothing more unbecoming a man of quality than to laugh ; 'tis such a vulgar expression of the pasfion! every body can laugh. Then especially to laugh at the jest of an inferior person, or when any body else of the same quality does not laugh with one ; ridicu