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Elements of Criticism, Volume III.

Elements of Criticism, Volume III.
Title: Elements of Criticism, Volume III.
Release Date: 2018-08-12
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
Count views: 50
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Printed for A. Millar, London;
A. Kincaid & J. Bell, Edinburgh,




Ch.1.Perceptions and ideas in a train,121
Ch.2.Emotions and passions,142
Ch.4.Grandeur and sublimity,1264
Ch.5.Motion and force,1309
Ch.6.Novelty, and the unexpected appearance of objects,1319
Ch.7.Risible objects,1337
Ch.8.Resemblance and contrast,1345
Ch.9.Uniformity and variety,1380
Ch.10Congruity and propriety,22
Ch.11Dignity and meanness,227
Ch.14Custom and habit,280
Ch.15External signs of emotions and passions,2116
Ch.17Language of passion,2204
Ch.18Beauty of language,2234
Ch.21Narration and description,3169
Ch.22Epic and dramatic compositions,3218
Ch.23The three unities,3259
Ch.24Gardening and architecture,3294
Ch.25Standard of taste,3351
Index to all three volumes.3407



COmparisons, as observed above[1]; serve two different purposes: Whenaddressed to the understanding, their purpose is to instruct; when tothe heart, their purpose is to give pleasure. With respect to thelatter, a comparison may be employ’d to produce various pleasures by{4}different means. First, by suggesting some unusual resemblance orcontrast: second, by setting an object in the strongest light: third, byassociating an object with others that are agreeable: fourth, byelevating an object: and, fifth, by depressing it. And that comparisonsmay produce various pleasures by these different means, appears fromwhat is said in the chapter above cited; and will be made still moreevident by examples, which shall be given after premising some generalobservations.

An object of one sense cannot be compared to an object of another; forsuch objects are totally separated from each other, and have nocircumstance in common to admit either resemblance or contrast. Objectsof hearing may be compared, as also of taste, and of touch. But thechief fund of comparison are objects of sight; because, in writing orspeaking, things can only be compared in idea, and the ideas of visibleobjects are by far more lively than those of any other sense.

It has no good effect to compare things by way of simile that are of the{5}same kind, nor to contrast things of different kinds. The reason isgiven in the chapter cited above; and the reason shall be illustrated byexamples. The first is a resemblance instituted betwixt two objects sonearly related as to make little or no impression.

This just rebuke inflam’d the Lycian crew,
They join, they thicken, and th’ assault renew;
Unmov’d th’ embody’d Greeks their fury dare,
And fix’d support the weight of all the war;
Nor could the Greeks repel the Lycian pow’rs,
Nor the bold Lycians force the Grecian tow’rs.
As on the confines of adjoining grounds,
Two stubborn swains with blows dispute their bounds;
They tugg, they sweat; but neither gain, nor yield,
One foot, one inch, of the contended field:
Thus obstinate to death, they fight, they fall;
Nor these can keep, nor those can win the wall.
Iliad, xii. 505.

Another from Milton labours under the same defect. Speaking of thefallen angels searching for mines of gold:

A numerous brigade hasten’d: as when bands
{6}Of pioneers with spade and pick-ax arm’d
Forerun the royal camp to trench a field
Or cast a rampart.

The next shall be of things contrasted that are of different kinds.

Queen. What, is my Richard both in shape and mind
Transform’d and weak? Hath Bolingbroke depos’d
Thine intellect? Hath he been in thy heart?
The lion, dying, thrusteth forth his paw,
And wounds the earth, if nothing else, with rage
To be o’erpower’d: and wilt thou, pupil-like,
Take thy correction mildly, kiss the rod,
And fawn on rage with base humility?
Richard II. act 5. sc. 1.

This comparison has scarce any force. A man and a lion are of differentspecies; and there is no such resemblance betwixt them in general, as toproduce any strong effect by contrasting particular attributes orcircumstances.

A third general observation is, That abstract terms can never be thesubject of comparison, otherwise than by being personified.{7} Shakespearcompares adversity to a toad, and slander to the bite of a crocodile;but in such comparisons these abstract terms must be imagined sensiblebeings.


I now proceed to illustrate by particular instances the different meansby which comparison can afford pleasure; and, in the order aboveestablished, I shall begin with those instances that are agreeable bysuggesting some unusual resemblance or contrast:

Sweet are the uses of Adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in her head.
As you like it, act 2, sc. 1.
Gardiner. Bolingbroke hath seiz’d the wasteful King.
What pity is’t that he had not so trimm’d
And dress’d his land, as we this garden dress,
And wound the bark, the skin of our fruit-trees;
Left, being over proud with sap and blood,
With too much riches it confound itself.
Had he done so to great and growing men,
They might have liv’d to bear, and he to taste
Their fruits of duty. All superfluous branches{8}
We lop away, that bearing boughs may live:
Had he done so, himself had borne the crown,
Which waste and idle hours have quite thrown down.
Richard II. act 3. sc. 7.
See, how the Morning opes her golden gates,
And takes her farewell of the glorious sun;
How well resembles it the prime of youth,
Trim’d like a yonker prancing to his love.
Second Part Henry VI.> act 2. sc. 1.
Brutus. O Cassius, you are yoked with a lamb,
That carries anger as the flint bears fire;
Who, much inforced, shows a hasty spark,
And straight is cold again.
Julius Cæsar, act 4. sc. 3.
Thus they their doubtful consultations dark
Ended, rejoicing in their matchless chief:
As when from mountain-tops the dusky clouds,
Ascending, while the North-wind sleeps, o’erspread
Heav’n’s chearful face, the lowring element
Scowls o’er the darken’d landscape, snow, and shower;
If chance the radiant sun with farewell sweet
Extend his ev’ning-beam, the fields revive,{9}
The birds their notes renew, and bleating herds
Attest their joy, that hill and valley rings.
Paradise Lost, book 2.

The last exertion of courage compared to the blaze of a lamp beforeextinguishing, Tasso Gierusalem, canto 19. st. 22.

As the bright stars, and milky way,
Shew’d by the night, are hid by day:
So we in that accomplish’d mind,
Help’d by the night, new graces find,
Which, by the splendor of her view
Dazzled before, we never knew.

None of the foregoing similes, as it appears to me, have the effect toadd any lustre to the principal subject; and therefore the pleasure theyafford, must arise from suggesting resemblances that are not obvious: Imean the chief pleasure; for undoubtedly a beautiful subject introducedto form the simile affords a separate pleasure, which is felt in thesimiles mentioned, particularly in that cited from Milton.

The next effect of a comparison in the{10} order mentioned, is to place anobject in a strong point of view; which I think is done sensibly in thefollowing similes.

As when two scales are charg’d with doubtful loads,
From side to side the trembling balance nods,
(While some laborious matron, just and poor,
With nice exactness weighs her woolly store),
Till pois’d aloft, the resting beam suspends
Each equal weight; nor this nor that descends:
So stood the war, till Hector’s matchless might,
With fates prevailing, turn’d the scale of fight.
Fierce as a whirlwind up the walls he flies,
And fires his host with loud repeated cries.
{11}Iliad, b. xii. 52
Ut flos in septis secretis nascitur hortis,
Ignotus pecori, nullo contusus aratro,
Quem mulcent auræ, firmat sol, educat imber,
Multi illum pueri, multæ cupiere puellæ.
Idem, cum tenui carptus defloruit ungui,
Nulli illum pueri, nullæ cupiere puellæ.
Sic virgo, dum intacta manet, dum cara suis; sed
Cum castum amisit, polluto corpore, florem,
Nec pueris jucunda manet, nec cara puellis.

The imitation of this beautiful simile by Ariosto, canto 1. st. 42.falls short of the original. It is also in part imitated by Pope[2].

Lucetta. I do not seek to quench your love’s hot fire, Butqualify the fires extreme rage, Lest it should burn above thebounds of reason.

Julia. The more thou damm’st it up, the more it burns: Thecurrent, that with gentle murmur glides, Thou know’st, beingstopp’d, impatiently doth rage; But when his fair course is nothindered, He makes sweet music with th’ enamel’d stones Giving agentle kiss to every sedge He overtaketh in his pilgrimage. And soby many winding nooks he strays With willing sport, to the wildocean. Then let me go, and hinder not my course; I’ll be as patientas a gentle stream, And make a pastime of each weary step Till thelast step have brought me to my love; And there I’ll rest, as,after much turmoil, A blessed soul doth in Elysium.{12}

Two Gentlemen of Verona, act 2. sc. 10.

———— She never told her love,
But let concealment, like a worm i’ th’ bud,
Feed on her damask cheek: she pin’d in thought;
And with a green and yellow melancholy,
She sat like Patience on a monument,
Smiling at Grief.
Twelfth-Night, act 2. sc. 6.

York. Then, as I said, the Duke, great Bolingbroke, Mounted upona hot and fiery steed, Which his aspiring rider seem’d to know,With slow but stately pace, kept on his course: While all tonguescry’d, God save thee, Bolingbroke.

Duchess. Alas! poor Richard, where rides he the while?

York. As in a theatre, the eyes of men, After a well-grac’d actorleaves the stage, Are idly bent on him that enters next, Thinkinghis prattle to be tedious: Even so, or with much more contempt,mens eyes Did scowl on Richard; no man cry’d, God

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