Page images

Man, are of mean price, and fo common as not to be greatly esteemed by the curious. It being certain that any thing, of which we know the true ufe, cannot be invaluable: Which affords a folution, why common Senfe hath either been totally defpifed, or held in fmall repute, by the greatest modern Critics and Authors.


Of the true Genius for the Profund, and by what it is constituted.


ND I will venture to lay it down, as the

firft Maxim and Corner-Stone of this our Art; that whoever would excel therein, must studioufly avoid, deteft, and turn his head from all the ideas, ways, and workings of that peftilent Foe to Wit, and Deftroyer of fine Figures, which is known by the Name of Common Sense. His bufinefs must be to contract the true Gout de travers; and to acquire a most happy, uncommon, unaccountable Way of Thinking.

He is to confider himself as a Grotesque painter, whose works would be fpoiled by an imitation of nature, or uniformity of defign. He is to mingle bits of the most various, or difcordant kinds, landfcape, hiftory, portraits, animals, and connect


them with a great deal of flourishing, by heads or tails, as it fhall please his imagination, and contribute to his principal end, which is to glare by strong oppofitions of colours, and furprize by contrariety of images.

Serpentes avibus geminentur, tigribus agni. HoR.

His defign ought to be like a labyrinth, out of which no body can get clear but himself. And fince the great Art of all Poetry is to mix Truth with Fiction, in order to join the Credible with the Surprizing; our author fhall produce the Credible, by painting nature in her lowest fimplicity; and the Surprizing, by contradicting common opinion. In the very Manners he will affect the Marvellous; he will draw Achilles with the patience of Job; a Prince talking like a Jack-pudding; a Maid of honour felling bargains; a footman speaking like a philosopher; and a fine gentleman like a scholar. Whoever is converfant in modern Plays, may make a most noble collection of this kind, and, at the fame time, form a complete body of modern Ethics and Morality.

Nothing feemed more plain to our great authors, than that the world had long been weary of natural things. How much the contrary are formed to please, is evident from the univerfal applaufe daily given to the admirable entertainments of Harlequins and Magicians on our stage. When an audience behold a coach turned into a wheel

barrow, a conjurer into an old woman, or a man's head where his heels fhould be; how are they ftruck with transport and delight? Which can only be imputed to this caufe, that each object is changed into that which hath been fuggested to them by their own low ideas before.

He ought therefore to render himself master of this happy and anti-natural way of thinking to fuch a degree, as to be able, on the appearance of any object, to furnish his imagination with ideas infinitely below it. And his eyes should be like unto the wrong end of a perspective glass, by which all the objects of nature are leffened.

For example; when a true genius looks upon the Sky, he immediately catches the idea of a piece of blue luteftring, or a child's mantle.

The Skies, whofe Spreading volumes scarce have room,
Spun thin, and wove in nature's finest loom,
The new-born world in their foft lap embrac'd,
And all around their starry mantle cast.

If he looks upon a Tempest, he shall have an image of a tumbled bed, and defcribe a fucceeding calm in this manner :

b The Ocean, joy'd to fee the tempeft fled,

New lays his waves, and smooths his ruffled bed.

b P. 14.

a Prince Arthur, p. 41, 42. N. B. In order to do Juftice to thefe great Poets, our Citations are taken from the beft, the laft, and most correct Editions of their Works. That which we ufe of Prince Arthur, is The fourth Edition revifed. P.

in Duodecimo, 1714.

The Triumphs and Acclamations of the Angels, at the Creation of the Universe, present to his imagination" the Rejoicings of the Lord Mayor's

[ocr errors]

Day;" and he beholds thofe glorious beings celebrating the Creator, by huzzaing, making illuminations, and flinging fquibs, crackers and fky-rockets.

Glorious Illuminations, made on high By all the flars and planets of the sky, In just degrees, and skining order plac'd, Spectators charm'd, and the bleft dwelling grac'd. Thro' all th' enlighten'd air fwift fireworks flew, Which with repeated fhouts glad Cherubs threw. Comets afcended with their fweeping train, Then fell in ftarry fhow'rs and glitt'ring rain. In air ten thousand meteors blazing hung, Which from th' eternal battlements were flung. If a man who is violently fond of Wit, will facrifice to that paffion his friend or his God, would it not be a fhame, if he who is fmit with the love of the Bathos fhould not facrifice to it all other tranfitory regards? You fhall hear a zealous Proteftant Deacon invoke a Saint, and modeftly befeech her to do more for us than Providence:

Look down, blefs'd faint, with pity then look down,
Shed on this land thy kinder influence,

And guide us through the mifts of providence,
In which we ftray.

• P. 50. VOL. VI.

A. Philips on the Death of Queen Mary.

Neither will he, if a goodly Simile come in his way, fcruple to affirm himself an eye-witness of things never yet beheld by man, or never in existence; as thus,

[ocr errors]

Thus harce I feen in Araby the bless'd,

A Phenix couch'd upon her fun'ral neft.

But to convince you that nothing is fo great which a marvellous genius, prompted by this laudable zeal, is not able to leffen; hear how the moft fublime of all Beings is reprefented in the following images:


Firft he is a PAINTER.

Sometimes the Lord of Nature in the air,
Spreads forth his clouds, his fable canvas, where
His pencil, dipp'd in heav'nly colour bright,
Paints his fair rain-bow, charming to the fight.

Now he is a CHEMIST.

Th Almighty Chemijl does his work prepare,
Pours down his waters on the thirsty plain,
Digefis his lightning, and diftils his rain.

Now he is a WRESTLER.
• Me in his griping arms th Eternal took,
And with fach mighty force my body flock,
That the frong grafp my members forely bruis'd,
Proke all my lones, and all my f.nows loos'd.

Blackm. opt. edit. duod. 1716. p. 172.

civ. p. 6.


4 Page 75.

« EelmineJätka »