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consequence of an ill-judged fcrupulofity and delay, we once lose fight of any part of that train of ideas with which our own minds were so warmed and interested, 'it may be impoble to recover it: and perhaps no other train of ideas, though, separately taken, they may appear to be better adapted to the subject, may have the same power to excite those sensations with which we would with the composition might be read. Whatever these Sensations be, they will be the same with those with which the composition was written; it being almost imposible to counterfeit successfully in fuch a case as this. As, therefore, we with to affect and interest the minds of our readers, we should endeavour, without lofing time in examining every thing with a minute exactness, to express the whole ftate of our own minds while they are thus affected and interested. Correction will be employed with more advantage afterwards.'
On this occasion it may be of use to recollect the precept of lord Roscommon,
To write with fury, but correct with phlegm. And the excellent advice of Pliny. After have finished a compofition, you must, says he, lay it aside, till it is no longer fresh in your memory, and then take it up, in order to revise and correct it. You will find several things to retain, but still more to reject ; you will add a new thought here, and alter an. other there. • Laboriofum iftud et tædio plenum, fed difficultate ipfâ fru&tuofum, recalefcere ex integro, et resumere impetum fra&um omiffumque.' It is a laborious and tedious task, I own, thus to re-enflame the mind after the first heat is over, to recover an impulse, when its force has been checked and spent; in a word, to interweave new parts into the texture of a composition, without disturbing or confounding the original plan; but the advantage attending this method will overbalance the difficulty. Ep. vii. 9.
Among other observations on Method in narrative dircourses, our author has the following:
• The writer of a single hiftory hath no embarrassment in comparison of a person, who undertakes to give an account of two, or more nations, whose histories are intermixed with one an, other. The former is ac liberty to take as much of any foreign history as he hath occasion for, to illustrate his own; the other is in a manner under a neceffity, either of making repetitions, or of leaving chasms in one or other of the histories. The former expedient is tedious and ungraceful, the latter makes one of the histories very imperfect and uninteresting.
• 'The writers of the Universal Hifory found themselves in this dilemma, and their very valuable work bears too many marks of it. To avoid repetitions, they have left almost all the hiftories imperfect, which obliges a reader to look into several,
before he can find a perfect account of any. They have likewife made the modern history of the Arabians and Turks, in particular, unnecessarily and exceffively tedious, by inserting in the text several different accounts of the same event; when it would have occasioned no more trouble to the writer, and have been vastly more agreeable to the reader, to have retained only the most approved account of any event in the text, and have left the other accounts to the notes.
. By the use of notes the moderns have a considerable advantage over the ancients, who had no idea of such a convenience. By the help of notes a hiftory may go on without interruption, and yet a great variety of incidental things, worth recording, and which cannot be introduced with ease into the body of a work, may have a place aligned to them, where they may be attended to at the reader's leisure.
• Bayle hath made the greatest use of notes of any of the moderns. ' Indeed, the text of his Biographical Dictionary seems to have been composed for the sake of the notes; which were such miscellaneous remarks upon men and opinions, as could not have been incorporated into any regular work, or have been published conveniently in any other form.'
We agree with our author in thinking that these repetitions are in some measure necessary. If, for example, the transactions of the Carthaginians with the Romans Mould be omitted in the history of Carthage, the history of that republic will be extremely imperfect, and a!most unintelligible. The second detail should not indeed be lo diffule as the first; and the editor's abilities must be exercised in comprefling it into a smaller compass. Yet even this mould be done with great caution, 'where ever two parallel histories are the productions of different writers ; and the second happens to be more judicious than the first. But the Universal History has been put into able hands, and we have reason to think, that these objections, if they are real objections, will be entirely obviated.
The following remarks on particular names and circumftances are worthy of attention.
· Every body must have experienced, in relating any thing that really happened, how difficult it is to avoid mentioning those circumstances of time, place, and person, which were originally associated with the particulars of the story: and it is evident (notwithitanding it be generally esteemed a mark of greater judgment to generalize ftories, and omit those particuJars) that itories told with all those circumstances, provided they be not to many as to distract the mind of the hearer, and too much retard the relation of the principal incidents, are generally heard wiih more attention. In fact, it cannot be bu: that these
circumstances excite more determinate and precise ideas; and the more precise and vivid are our ideas, with the greater strength do they excite all the emotions and passions that depend upon them. The mention of these particulars makes a relation to resemble real and active life,
• So important is this observation, and so far is it from haying been thoroughly attended to, that it may almost furnish a criterion to distinguish true history from fable and romance. Even the best of our modern romances, which are a much more perfect copy of human life than any of the fi&tions of the ancients, if they be compared with true history, will be found to fall greatly fhort of it in their detail of such particulars as, because they have a kind of arbitrary, and, as it were, variable connexion with real facts, do not easily saggest themselves to those persons who attend only to the connexion and subordination of the incidents they have invented, and who, therefore, never introduce more persons or things than are neceffary to fill them up : .whereas a redundancy of particulars, which are not necessarily connected, will croud into a relation of real facts.
• It may not be improper to add, in this place, that the mention of so many particular persons, places, and times, in the books of scripture affords, to the curious observers of nature and probability, no small evidence of their genuineness and truth.'
It is observed, that Shakespeare's frequent use of particular terms, and his attention to the choice of them contributed not a little to his peculiar excellence in distinguishing the passions and characters of human nature. Homer abounds more in the minute details of circumstances than Virgil, and his characters are better distinguished. Virgil uses more general terms upon all occasions, and the samenets of his characters is remarkable.
• One reason, says our author, why philosophers seldom suc. ceed in poetry may be, that abstract ideas are too familiar to their minds. Philosophers are perpetually employed in reducing particular to general propositions, à turn of thinking very ún. favourable to poetry. One reason likewise, why poetry is generally sooner brought to perfection than any other branch of polite literature may be, that, in early ages, the state of language is most favourable to poetry, as it then contains fewer abitract terms. On this account a poet in an early age, has the advantage of a later poet, who has equal thare of ima. gination.'
These observations are rather specious than juft. If there be any truth in this vulgar adage, “ Poeta nascitur non fit," want of success in poetry is not owing to men's familiarity
with abstract ideas; but to their natural inability. Cicero's ill success in poetical compofitions did not arise from his previous study of philosophy : but he ftudied philofophy, rather than poetry, because it was more suitable to the natural bent of his genius; and he therefore succeeded in the former, while he only made himself ridiculous in the latter *. It is not probable, that he would have succeeded better, if he had never been conversant with abstract ideas. Our author adds, that'a poet in an early age has the advantage of a later poet, as language then contains fewer abstract terms. This observation cannot be tue; unless a copia verborum, and the discovery of arts and sciences, are injurious to a poet's imagination : which is not to be suppofed.
In explaining the influence of the passions on each other, he fays:
« In order to raise a very lively and tender sentiment, it is of advantage 'to describe the sentiments, which raise it, in as few words as possible... The following is a moving image in Vire gil's defcription of the return of Eurydice to the infernal regions. • Invalidas tibi tendens, hių non tua, palmas.
Georg. lib. iv. • The reader conceives a more lively sensation of a variety of undistinguished emotions from chat short parenthesis, beu non tua, than if the poet had expatiated upon all the circumstances of the difference of Eurydice's present relation to Orpheus, and that in which they had stood to one another, and which, but the moment before, they had both fondly imagined was going to revive.
• The fame author gives his readers a more exquifite sensation, by means of a single epithet, in the following passage, in which he describes the attempt that Dædalus made to describe the miss fortune of his son, than he could have conveyed in more words, though ever so proper.
4 Bis conatus erat cafus effingere in auro,
Bis patriæ cecidêre manus. Æneid. lib. vii. • When, under any affection of mind, strong sensations have been affociated with particular words, it is natural for a person under the influence of the correfponding passion to repeat such words. In these cases, fipgle words present to the mind entire scenes with all their moving circumstances.
• Inimitably expressive of tenderness is the repetition of the name of Eurydice, in the affecting history of Orpheu's, both in Virgil and Ovid, thus happily imitated by Mr. Pope.
Juven. Sat. X. 122. Quint. lib. ix. 4.
u Yet een in death Eurydice he fung,
Eurydice the woods,
Eprydice the floods,
Qde on Cæcilia's Day. In all trong paffions, fome one idea being present to the mind more eminently than others, person's under the influence of them naturally, express that idea the first, even though it obliges them to throw. the sentence in which it is introduced into
، disorder. Thus Nisus, in Virgil, exposing himself to death for Euryalus,
“ Me me adfum, qui feci; in me convertite ferrum.
Oh Rutuli, mea fraus.omnis.' Æneid, lib. ix.. on « Perolla, in Livy, full of horror and astopilhment at the iné tention of his son to murder Hannibal, begins his speech to himi. in the utmolt disorder, with the most folemn form of adjuration ; • Per, ego, te, fili," &c.
• It is a direct consequence of the association of ideas, that, when a person hath suffered greatly on any account, he connects the idea of the same cause with any greaç distress. This thews with what propriety Shakespeare makes king Lear, whose sufferings were owing to his daughters, speak to Edgar, disguised like a lunatic, in the following manner :
“ What, have his daughters brought him to this pass ?
King Lear. $ And Macduff. -He hath no children."
Macbeth. « Writers not really feeling the passions they defcribe, and not being masters of the natural expression of them, are apt; without their being aware of it, to make persons under the influence of a strong emotion or paflion, speak in a manner that is very una suitable to it. Sometimes, for instance, they feem rather to be describing the passion of another, than expreffing their own. Sometimes the language of persons, in intereiting circumstances, Thows such an excursion of mind from the principal object, as demonstrates that their minds were not sufficiently engroffed with it. And sometimes, aiming to strike and astonish, they make their heroes use such language as is expressive of no passion whatever, but is quite extravagant and abfurd.'
The author illustrates these observations by examples from Voltaire, Shakespeare, Moliere, &c. from which we have only room to give the reader a very fhort extract.
• It is utterly improbable, that king John in the agonies of death, and with his stomach and bowels inflamed with intense heat, would pun and quibble in the manner that Shakespeare