« PreviousContinue »
The skies, whose spreading volumes scarce have room,
If he looks upon a tempest, he shall have an image of a tumbled bed, and describe a succeeding calm in this manner; The ocean, joyed to see the tempest Aed, New lays his waves, and smooths his ruffled bed t.
The triumphs and acclamations of the angels at the creation of the universe present to his imagination “the rejoicings on the lord mayor's day ;” and he beholds those glorious beings celebrating their creator, by huzzaing, making illuminations, and Ainging squibs, crackers, and sky-rockets. Glorious illuminations, made on high By all the stars and planets of the sky, In just degrees, and shining order placed, Spectators charm’d, and the blest dwellings graced. Through all the enlighten’d air swift fire-works flew, Which with repeated shouts glad cherubs threw. Comets ascended with their sweeping train, Then fell in starry showers and glittering rain. In air ten thousand meteors blazing hung, Which from th' eternal battlements were flung I.
If a man, who is violently fond of wit, will sacrifice to that passion his friend or his God, would it not be a shame, if he who is smit with the love of
• Prince Arthur, p. 41, 42.
+ Page 14.
IP. 50. N. B. In order to do justice to these great poets, our citations are taken from the best, the last, and most correct editions of their works. That which we use of Prince Arthur, is in duodecimo, 1714, the fourth edition revised.
the bathos, should not sacrifice to it all other transitory regards ? You shall hear a zealous protestant deacon invoke a saint, and modestly beseech her to do more for us than Providence. Look down, blest saint, with pity then look down, Shed on this land thy kinder influence, And guide us through the mists of providence, In which we stray
Neither will he, if a goodly simile come in his way, scruple to affirm himself an eye-witness of things never yet beheld by man, or never in existence; as thus, Thus have I seen in Araby the blest A phænix couch'd upon her funeral nest +.
But to convince you that nothing is so great which a marvellous genius prompted by this laudable zeal is not able to lessen; hear how the most sublime of all beings is represented in the following images.
First he is a Painter,
Sometimes the lord of nature in the air
Now he is a CHEMIST.
Th’almighty chemist does his work prepare,
* A. Philips on the death of queen Mary.
Blackm. opt. edit. duod. 1716. p. 172.
Now Now he is a WRESTLER.A Mercer, or Packer.
Me in his griping arms th’eternal took,
Now a RECRUITING OFFICER.
For clouds the sunbeams levy fresh supplies,
Now a peaceable GUARANTEE.
In leagues of peace the neighbours did agree,
Then he is an ATTORNEY,
Job, as a vile offender, God indites,
God will not be my advocate,
In the following lines he is a GOLDBEATER.
Who the rich metal beats, and then with care
Then a FULLER.
-th' exhaling reeks, that secret rise,
Didst thou one end of air's wide curtain hold,
And a BAKER.
God in the wilderness his table spread,
Of the several kinds of geniuses in the profund, and the
marks, and characters of each. I DOUBT not, but the reader, by this cloud of examples, begins to be convinced of the truth of our assertion, that the bathos is an art, and that the genius of no mortal whatever, following the mere ideas of nature, and unassisted with an habitual, nay laborious peculiarity of thinking, could arrive at images so wonderfully low and unaccountable. The great author, from whose treasury we have drawn all these instances (the father of the bathos, and indeed the Homer of it) has, like that immortal Greek,
+ P. 131.
• Black. Psal. p. 174.
confined his labours to the greater poetry, and thereby left room for others to acquire a due share of praise in inferiour kinds. Many painters, who could never hit a nose or an eye, have with felicity copied a smallpox, or been admirable at a toad or a redherring: and seldom are we without geniuses for stilllife, which they can work up and stiffen with incredible accuracy.
A universal genius rises not in an age ; but when he rises, armies rise in him! he pours forth five or six epic poems with greater facility, than five or six pages can be produced by an elaborate and servile copier after nature or the ancients. It is affirmed by Quintilian, that the same genius, which made Germanicus so great a general, would, with equal application, have made him an excellent heroic poet. In like manner, reasoning from the affinity there appears between arts and sciences, I doubt not, but an active catcher of butterflies, a careful and fanciful patterndrawer, an industrious collector of shells, a laborious and tuneful bag-piper, or a diligent breeder of tame rabbits, might severally excel in their respective paris of the bathos.
I shall range these confined and less copious geniuses under proper classes, and (the better to give their pictures to the reader) under the names of animals of some sort or other; whereby he will be enabled, at the first sight of such as shall daily come forth, to know to what kind to refer, and with what authors to compare them.
1. The flying fishes : these are writers, who now and then rise upon their fins, and fly out of the profund; but their wings are soon dry, and they drop down to the bottom. GS. A. H. C. G. VOL. XVII,