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served that his descriptions themselves are sentimentals and answer the whole end of that species of writing; by embellishing every feature of Virtue, and by conveying through the effects of the pencil the finest moral lessons to the minda
Horace speaks of the fidelity of the ear in preference to the uncertainty of the eye; but if the mind receives conviction, it is certainly of very little importance through what medium, or by which of the senses it is conveyed. The impressions left on the imagination may possibly be thought less durable than the deposits of the memory; but it may very well admit of a question, whether a conclusion of reason, or an impression of imagination, will soonest make its way to the heart. A moral precept, conveyed in words, is only an account of truth in its effects; a moral picture is truth, exemplified; and which is most likely to gain upon the affections it may not be difficult to determine. i.
Thiş; however, must be allowed, that those works approach the nearest to perfection which unite these powers and advantages; which at once influence the imagination, and engage the memory; the former by the force of animated and striking description, the latter by a brief, but harmonious conveyance of precept: thus' while the heart is influenced through the operation of the passions, or the faney, the effect, which might otherwise bave been transient, is secured by the co-operating power of the meinory, which treasures up in a shoxt aphorism tlie moral of the scene. li biti 18
unity, This is a good reason, and this perhaps is the only reason that can be given, why our dramatic performances should generally end with a chain of couplets : ilt these the moral of the whole piece is usually conveyed; and that assistance which the memory borrows from livine, as it was probably the original cause of it, gives it usefulness and propriety even there.
After these apologies for the descriptive turn of Mr. Collins's Odes, something remains to be said on the origin and use of allegory in poetical composi.
By this we are not to understand the trope in the schools, which is defined “ aliud verbis, aliud sensu offendere," and of which Quintilian says, “ usus est, ut tristia dicamus melioribus verbis, aut bonæ rei gratia quædam contrariis significemus," &c. It is not the verbal, but the sentimental allegory, not allegorical expression (which might indeed come under the term of metaphor), but allegorical imagery, that is here in question.
When we endeavour to trace this species of figurative sentiment to its origin, we find it coeval with literature itself. It is generally agreed that the most ancient productions are poetical, and it is certain that the most ancient poems abound with allegorical imagery.
If, then, it be allowed that the first literary productions were poetical, we shall have little or no difficulty in discovering the origin of allegory.
At the birth of letters, in the transition from hieroglyphical to literal expression, it is not to be wondered if the custom of expressiog ideas by personal images, which had so long prevailed, should still retain its influence on the mind, though the use of letters had rendered the practical application of it superfluous. Those who had been accustomed to express strength by the image of an elephant, swiftness by that of a panther, courage by that of a lion, would make no scruple of substituting, in letters, the symbols for the ideas they had been used to repre. sent.
Here we plainly see the origin of allegorical expression, that it arose from the ashes of hierogly.
former y iption, the
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perform couplets: j usually
phics; and if to the same cause we should refer that figurative boldness of style and imagery which distinguish the oriental writings, we shall perhaps conclude more justly than if we should impute it to the superior grandeur of eastern genius.?
From the same source with the verbal we are to derive the sentimental allegory, which is nothing more than a continuation of the metaphorical or symbolical expression of the several agents in an action, or the different objects in a scene,
The latter most peculiarly comes under the denomination of all allegorical imagery; and in this spc. cies of allegory we include the impersonation, of passions, affections, virtues, and vices, &c. on account of which principally these Odes were properly termed by their author allegorical.
With respect to the utility of this figurative writing the same arguments that have been advanced in favour of descriptive poetry will be of weight likewise here. It is indeed from impersonation, or, as it is commonly termed, personification, that poetical description borrows its chief powers and graces. Without the aid of this, moral and intellectual painting would be flat and unanimated ; and even the scenery of material objects would be dull without the introduction of fictious life.
These observations -vill be most effectually illustrated by the sublime and beautiful Odes that occa. sioned them in those it will appear how happily this allegorical painting may he executed by the genuine powers of poetical genius, and they will not fail to prove its force and utility, by passing through the imagination to the heart.
ODE I. TO PITY.
By Pella's bard, a magic name,
Receive my humble rite! Long, Pity! let the nations view Thy sky-worn robes of tend'rest blue, And eyes of dewy light. The propriety of invoking Pity through the mediation of Euripides is obvious. That admirable poet had the keys of all the tender passions, and therefore could not but stand in the highest esteem with a writer of Mr. Collins's sensibility.
The eyes of dewy light is one of the happiest strokes of imagination, and may be ranked among those expressions which
give us back the image of the mind.
On gentlest Otway's infant head.
The thought of painting in the temple of Pity the Iristory of human misfortunes, and of drawing the scenes from the Tragic Muse, is very happy, and in every respect worthy the imagination of Collins.
ODE II. TO FEAR. Mr. Collins, who had often determined to apply himself to dramatic poetry, seems here, with the same view, to have addressed one of the principal
powers of the drama, and to implore that mighty in.
Hither again thy fury deal;
His cypress wreath my meed decree,
Ah, Fear! ah, frantic Fear!
I see, I see thee near!
Danger, whose limbs of giant mould
Of some loose hanging rock to sleep.