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is as merely sensual as an alderman's at a turtle feast, or a carman's at a quid of tobacco. In the same manner the pleasures of imagination are not to be confounded with those received immediately by our moral sensibilities.
The pleasures of the imagination are those received from the contemplation of objects which are not immediately before us, but which we have the power of conjuring up to ourselves. For every thing in nature that, when present, is delightful to the senses, we can, when absent, recall vividly to our minds, and receive from the image, perhaps, a greater pleasure than from the original. We say a greater pleasure, for, besides that there seems to be something pleasurable in the exercise of the faculty, we can, by a proper selection and combination of really existing things, create to ourselves more agreeable scenes than any, perhaps, that are to be found in nature. “When we look at a landscape, we can fancy a thousand additional embellishments. Mountains lof. tier and more picturesque; rivers more copious, more limpid, and more beautifully winding; smoother and wider lawns; valleys more richly diversified ; caverns and rocks more gloomy and more stupendous; ruins more majestic; buildings more magnificent; oceans more varied with islands, more splendid with shipping, or more agitated by storm, than any we have ever seen, it is easy for human imagination to conceive." * The same may be said of that class of beautiful objects which are perceived by the moral feelings. “It is easy to see,” says our author in another place, how “ the imagination may conceive a race of mortals far more amiable and respectable than the best and most accomplished of human creatures.” In fact, the reader las only to call to mind a few of the heroes and heroines of poetry and romance, and compare them with the plain, homely beings of this “ working-day world," to acknowledge the truth of the remark.
We must not leave the subject of beauty without jast observing how superior the pleasures of the moral feelings are to those of the senses ;-how much of the beauty of the human countenance is the beauty of expression; how insipid the best features are, if not lighted up by the soul; and, on the contrary, how pleasing good temper and good sense will sometimes render even the plainest face ;-how much of the pleasure received from the prospect of a lovely scene arises from a sympathy with the imaginary beings with which we never fail to people it, and from recollections somehow associated with it;-and how gladly we turn from the description of mere external nature to that of human
Beattie, on Poetry and Music, Part I. Chap. s.
actions and human feelings, from the “ hesperian fruit” and “oriental pearl,” and “mazy rills running nectar," to the
-“ Two of far nobler shape, erect and tall, Godlike erect."
Thus the philosophical poet,
“ Beauty dwells,
-“ Is aught so fair
Our author has now gone through the sublime, the pathetic, and the beautiful: there is still, however, a large class of the objects of imagination, and of literary compositions, left unnoticed. The last essay is devoted to the ludicrous. The essayist adopts the theory of Dr. Hutcheson, who maintains, in his Reflections on Laughter, that “the ludicrous consists in the contrast of dig. nity and meanness, whether the dignity and meanness reside both in the same object, or in different objects which are nearly related to each other.” Against this theory, our readers know, Dr. Beattie and others have contended, “as not sufficiently comprehensive,” maintaining, that the “ludicrous results from incongruity in general, or from some unsuitableness, or want of relation in certain respects, among objects which are related in other respects." “ Laughter,” says Beattie, “arises from the view of two or more inconsistent, unsuitable, or incongruous parts or circumstances, considered as united in one complex object or assemblage, or as acquiring a sort of mutual relation from the peculiar manner in which the mind takes notice of thein.” Almost the whole of the essay before us is taken up with considering the cases which Dr. Beattie has stated in opposition to Dr. Hutcheson.
We are certainly of opinion that Dr. Beattie made his case good ; that is, that he produced many things confessedly ludicrous in which the incongruity was not of dignity with meanness. As, however, we doubt of the truth of Dr. Beattie's own theory, (for we do not by any means think that laughter always "arises from the view of two or more inconsistent, unsuitable, or incongruous parts or circumstances,”) we shall not spend any time upon this dispute, but shall just take occasion to state what occurs to ourselves upon the “ludicrous.”
The ludicrous in composition may, perhaps, be safely divided into wit and humour. Humour is the imitalion of the ridiculous in human character. As we have moral feelings, by which we love or admire what is amiable or great in human character, and by which we detest the more gigantic vices, so we have feelings of ridicule, also, for the lesser vices, for petty meannesses, and all infringements of what the French call the petites morales. This appears to have been Aristotle's view of the matter.
We are aware of an objection to this: it looks like making ridicule the test of truth. But our feelings were given us at our birth; they are applied as habit and education dictate. The stream was supplied by nature, the channel is cut by custom.
All our feelings are perverted. Admiration is no more the test of truth than ridicule. We as frequently admire great and splendid vices as we laugh at what is worthy or amiable. These feelings might be given us for useful purposes, and yet degraded, as in their present state, as often do harm as good. Humour addresses itself to our perceptions of the ridiculous-and, accordingly, we shall find it engaged in portraying and exaggerating these said little blemishes and foibles. Let us turn to Molière--an author who has, perhaps, taken a wider range here than any other. What do we find ourselves laughing at while reading Molière? At the meannesses of avarice, at the absurdities of pedantry, and affectation, and vanity, at coxcombs, and clowns, and hypochondriacs. If Harpagon had been represented as oppressing the poor, or as turning away from misery without relieving it, we should have detested hiin, not laughed at him. But when we see him puffing out the candle ends, lest he should be ruined, stooping in a violent fit of passion to pick up a pin, fumbling about the hauts-de-chausses of a footman he is turning off, lest he should carry away any thing with him—his avarice is then ridiculous only. What is it that we laugh at in the Bourgeois Gentilhomme ?” Ignorance and vanity ;-an ignorance which education has made us consider as ludicrous, and a vanity that is naturally ridiculous. “ I am quite in a passion,” says he to his master of philosophy," with my father and mother for not having had me instructed in the sciences VOL. IV. New Series.
when I was young.” “You are quite in the right,” says the other, nam sine doctrina vila est quasi mortis imago. You understand that? of course you are acquainted with latin?” 0yes;-but-but-make as if I were not; explain the meaning of that to me.” And afterwards.
“ M. Jourdain. I must let you iuto a secret. You must know I'm in love with a lady of quality, and I want you to help me in compo. sing a little kind of a billet-doux. That will be gallant, you know.
“ Master. To be sure. What, would you have this billet-dous in verse ?
“ M. Jourdain. O, no, no; no verse. “ Master. You choose plain prose. “ M. Jourdain. No, I don't choose either prose or verse. “ Master. It must be one or the other. “ M. Jourdain. Why must it? “ Master. Because we can only express ourselves in prose or verse. “ M. Jourdain. What! is there nothing but prose and verse ?
“ Master. No, Sir. All that is not verse is prose, and all that is not prose is verse.
“ M. Jourdain. Why, when ope talks, what is that ? “ Master. Prose.
6 M. Jourdain. What! when I tell the servant to bring me my nightcap aud slippers, is that prose ?” &c.
Away goes M. Jourdain with the grand discovery to his wife and maid servant.
“ M. Jourdain. You speak like brute beasts; I'm ashamed of your ignorance. For instance, do you know what that is you are saying?
“ Madame Jourdain. Yes, I know that what I am saying is very well said, and that you ought to think of living after another fashion.
“ M. Jourdain. I'm not talking of that; I ask you what—what those words are that you are saying.
“ Madame Jourdain. Very sensible words, to be sure: I wish your conduct were as much so.
“ M. Jourdain. I tell you I'm not talking of that. What I ask you is this this that I'm saying, what I'm saying now to you, what is it?
“ Madame Jourdain. Why, nonsense.
“ M. Jourdain. Pooh! pooh! that's not what I mean. This that We are both saying? the language that we are using to one another?
- Madame Jourdain. Anon.
“ M. Jourdain. Yes, prose. All that is not verse is prose, and all that is not prose is verse.”
Or, let us take an instance from “Les femmes savantes.” A vain poet is reciting his verses (" To a Lady in a Fever") to some ladies who affect to be judges.
“ Trissotin. Sure you had lull’d to sleep your sense,
“ Belise. Ah! what a sweet beginning !
“ Armande. How gallant That turn is !
" Philaminte. Ah, for running easy verse There is none like him.
“ Armande. Lulld your sense to sleep! Can any thing be finer?
“ Belise. Lodge your enemy! Don't you prefer that?
“ Philaminte. Ay, but then, remember, • With such magpificence! s0 royally! Wbat well-picked terms!
“ Belise. Come, let us hear the rest.
“ Trissotin. Sure you had lulld to sleep your sense,
“ Belise. Ah! lulld your sense to sleep!
“ Trissotin. Bid it go, whate'er they say,
“ Belise. Ah, stop, for pity; let me, let me breathe.
“ Philaminte. One feels, while hearing this, a kindly fainting Glide to the bottom of one's very soul.
“ Armande. · Bid it go, whate’er they say,
“ Philaminte. “Bid it go, whate'er they say !
“ Armande. And I'm in love, too, with whate'er they say."