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Bow quickly down and your submission show;
Conquest of Granada, Part 2. A&t v.
Ventidius. But you, ere love milled your wand'ring
Dryden, All for Love, AA 1.
Not to talk of the impiety of this sentiment, it is ludicrous instead of being lofty.
The famous epitaph on Raphael is no less ab. surd than any of the foregoing passages :
Raphael, timuit, quo fofpite, vinci
Imitated by Pope in his Epitaph on Sir Godfrey Kneller :
Living, great Nature fear'd he might outvie
Such is the force of imitation ; for Pope of him. self would never have been guilty of a thought fo extravagant.
So much upon sentiments; the language pro. per for expressing them, comes next in order.
CHAP. CHAP. XVII.
LANGUAGE OF PASSION.
MONG the particulars that compose the a social part of our nature, a propensity to communicate our opinions, our emotions, and every thing that affects us, is remarkable. Bad fortune and injustice affect us greatly; and of these we are so prone to complain, that if we have no friend nor acquaintance to take part in our sufferings, we sometimes utter our complaints aloud, even where there are none to listen.
But this propensity operates not in every state of mind. A man immoderately grieved, seeks to afflict himself, rejecting all consolation : immoderate grief accordingly is mute : complaining is struggling for confolation. It is the wretch's comfort still to have Some small reserve of near and inward wo, Some unsuspected hoard of inward grief, Which they unseen may wail, and weep, and mourn. And glutton-like alone devour.
Mourning Bride, A&t 1. Sc. 1. When grief subsides, it then and no sooner finds a tongue: we complain, because complaining is an effort to disburden the mind of its distress *.
* This observation is finely illustrated by a story which
Surprise and terror are filent passions for a dif- | ferent reason : they agitate the mind so violently as for a time to suspend the exercise of its faculties, and among others the faculty of speech.
Love and revenge, when immoderate, are not more loquacious than immoderate grief. But when these passions become moderate, they fet the tongue free, and, like moderate grief, become loquacious : moderate love, when un
Herodotus records, b. 3. Cambyses, when he conquered Egypt, made Pfammenitus the King prisoner; and for trying his constancy, ordered his daughter to be dressed in the habit of a slave, and to be employed in bringing water from the river ; his son also was led to execution with a halter about his neck. The Egyptians vented their sorrow in tears and lamentations; Psammenitus only, with a downcast eye, remained silent. Afterward meeting one of his companions, a man advanced in years, who, being plundered of all, was begging alms, he wept bitterly, calling him by his name. Cambyses, struck with wonder, demanded an answer to the following question : “Psammenitus, thy master, Cambyses, is desirous *to know, why, after thou hadît seen thy daughter so “ ignominiously treated, and thy son led to execution, “ without exclaiming or weeping, thou should be so “ highly concerned for a poor man, no way related to “ thee?” Psammenitus returned the following answer: : “Son of Cyrus, the calamities of my family are too “ great to leave me the power of weeping ; but the mis. “ fortunes of a companion, reduced in his old age to “ want of bread, is a fit subject for lamentation."
successful, is vented in complaints ; when successful, is full of joy expressed by words and gestures.
As no pafsion hath any long uninterrupted existence *, nor beats always with an equal pulse, the language suggested by passion is not only unequal, but frequently interrupted : and even during an uninterrupted fit of paffion, we only express in words the more capital fentiments. In familiar conversation, one who vents every single thought is juftly branded with the character of loquacity ; because sensible people express no thoughts but what make some figure : in the same manner, we are only disposed to express the strongest pulses of passion, especially when it returns with impetuosity after interruption.
I formerly had occassion to observe t, that the sentiments ought to be tuned to the passion, and the language to both. Elevated sentiments require elevated language : tender sentiments ought to be clothed in words that are soft and flowing: when the mind is depressed with any passion, the sentiments must be expressed in words that are humble, not low. Words being inti. mately connected with the ideas they represent, the greatest harmony is required between them: to express, for example, an humble sentiment in high sounding words, is disagreeable by a
See Chap. 2. Part 3.
t Chap. 16.
discordant mixture of feelings; and the discord is not less when elevated sentiments are dressed in low words:
Versibus exponi tragicis res comica non vult.
Horace, Ars poet. l. 89.
This however excludes not figurative expression, which, within moderate bounds, communicates to the sentiment an agreeable elevation. We are sensible of an effect directly opposite, where figurative expression is indulged beyond a just measure: the opposition between the expression and the sentiment, makes the discord appear greater than it is in reality *.
At the same time, figures are not equally the language of every passion: pleasant emotions, which elevate or swell the mind, vent themselves in strong epithets and figurative expression ; but humbling and dispiriting passions affect to speak plain:
Et tragicus plerumque dolet sermone pedestri
Horace, Ars poet. l. 95.
Figurative expression, being the work of an enli-
* See this explained more particularly in Chap. 8.