Duff, Essay on Original Genius | Philosophical Science | Science

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ESSAY
O N

AN

ORIGINAL GENIUSj
AND ITS

VARIOUS MODES
I

of

EXERTION

N

PHILOSOPHY
AND THE

FINE ARTS,
PARTICULARLY
IN

P

O

E

T

R

y.

NuU'ius addiSius jurare in verba magtjiru

Ho Rat.

LONDON:
Printed for

Edward and Charles Dilly
near the Manjion-Houfe,

in the Poultry,

M DCC LXVIJ.

ADVERTISEMENT.
'T"^ O
JL
tial

explain the nature of
to

G e-

N I u s,

point out

its

effen-

ingredients, to fliew the refpedive
efficacy of thofe

and the combined

ingredients in compofition, as well as
in the refearches

of Science

axid the

inventions or
.

improvements of Art,

is

the principal deiign of the followIt is

ing Effay.
for

of

little

importance

the Reader to

know what were
its

the Author's motives for
tion,

publica-

or

how

it

comes
in
its

to be offered

to

the

Public

prefent form.

Thus

far

however

it

may
2

not be im-

A

proper

iv

ADVE RTI

S

E

M E N T.
refolved to

proper to acquaint him, that though

the Author had at

firft

confine his views to the confideration

of the ingredients, exertions, and
fects

ef-

of

ORIGINAL Poetic Gehe was, upon maturer
incHned to extend
his

nius

alone,

deliberation,

profpeds

;

and, by taking a more ex~

tenfive furvey of his fubjed:^

was de-

lirous to render

the defign of the

Eflay more complete.

He acknowhis

ledges Hkewife, that he was partly led

on

to this

method of profecuting

plan by gradual and ahuoft imperceptible
fteps
;

finding

his

fubjed:

growing upon him while he contemplated
it

nearly,

and new pfofpcCts

opening themfeives to the imagination,
in proportion to the progrefs he

had

made. As he had not there fore

filled

hi^

A D V.E R T I
his attention
lar fpecies

S

E

M E N Tas to

y

wholly on any particuexclude

of Genius, fo

altogether the confideration of

any

other fpecies

;

and

as

he hath take a

occafion to explain both the general

nature and the peculiar modifications

of

this quality,

as exerted in the va-

rious provinces of Imagination,

with

various degrees of energy
to in title his performance

;

he refolved

An E S S AY ON ORIGINAL GENIUS; which
he thought would be moft exof
its

title

preflive

delign,

and include

under

it

the feveral kinds of Genius

treated of in the courfe of the fol-

lowing Differtation.
time
it

At the fame

cannot but be obferved, that

the Author hath kept the main objedt

of his attention principally in his eye;
tfiat

he hath more particularly explain-

A

3

€d

vi

ADVERTISEMENT.
tlie

ed

nature, as well as

marked the
i

indications

and

efforts

of o r

gina1

POETIC Genius, than thofe of any and that other mode of this quality
;

the remarks which he hath
its

made upon

»

other modes and degrees, are like

fo

many

lines

meeting in one central
is

point, to

which the eye
its

dire6:ed as

the termination of

profpe^t.

It will likewife be obferved, that
in this view the Firft

Book may

very

properly be confidered as an Intro-

dudion
fubjed:

to the Second, in
is

which the
its

branched out into

va-

rious parts,

and more
firft

particularly diffeclion of the

cuffed.

In the

former,

the objects and ingredients
into,
as well

of Genius are inquired
as the efficacy

of thofe ingredients in

compofition;
^

'A E>

y E ..R T I,S E
;

M

le

I^

T,

vii

compofitiGn

ajid

if,

in explaining

the nature or enumerating the ingredients

of Genius,

the Author hath

diffented either
nion, or

from the general opi-

from the opinion of a few

individuals,

who may

poffibly think

Genius properly conftituted by Imagination alone, he hath produced the
reafons

on which

his fentiments are

founded.

In the fecond fedion, he

hath pointed out the ufual indications of the above-mentioned quality, confidered in a general view
third,
;

and, in the

hath entered into a difquifition
it,

on a fubjed nearly conne6i:ed with
that of

Wit and Humour. The fourth
is

fedion
into the
tion

appropriated to an inquiry

mutual influence of Imagina-

on Tafle, and of Tafte on Ima-

gination, confidered as ingredients in

A

4

the

;

viii

ADVERTISEMENT.
;

the compofition of Genius
laft

and the
is

fedion of the

firft

book
its

em-

ployed in inquiring into
degrees and

different

modes of exertion.

Having
the Author

thus laid the foundation,
rifes

a ftep higher, and

endeavours to explain the nature of
that degree of Genius

which

is
;

proafter
its

perly denominated original

which he proceeds

to

confider

different exertions in Philofophy, in

Poetry, and in the other fine Arts

more

particularly pointing out

its

in-

dications

and
all,

its

efforts

in Poetry.

Laft of

he endeavours to fhew,

that the early

and uncultivated pe-

riods of fociety are peculiarly favour-

able to the difplay of original Poetic

Genius,

and that

this

quality

will

feldom

ADVERTISEMENT,
in cultivated
life
;

ix,

feldom appear in a very high degree
of w^hich he hath

like wife attempted to affign the reafons.

Such
Effay
deference,

is

the general plan of the

now fubmitted, with
to the

the utmoft

judgment and can-

dor of the Public.
avail himfelf

The Author might

of the ordinary pradice

of folicitingan indulgence to the faults

of his performance, and he
that in

is

fenfible

many
it
;

inftances

he flands in

need of
it

but as he does not think

reafonable to expert an indulgence

to faults,

which either a more accurate
his

examination of
qualified

Work would
;

have
if

him

to correal

of which,

incorrigible, a proper fenfe
abilities

of his

own
to

would have enabled him
is

difcern; he

under a neceffity of appealing

X

ADVERTISEiMENT.
Readers, ho Wever difadvantageous

pealing to the impartial judgment of
his

that appeal
fcious as

may
is,

be to himfelf ; conthat the utmoft an
for, is

he

Author can hope
mination
of

a candid exa-

his compofitionsj

and
their

an equitable decifion concerning
genuine merit.

He

is

at the

fame time well aware,

that in an Essay

on Original Genius,

Originality of Sentiment will naturally,

and may, no doubt, juftly be expeded
and that where
ing,
this
is

;

altogether want-

no other excellence can fupply the
This obfervation,
it

defedl.

muft be

confefled,

furniflies a very fevere teft

for determining the merit of the fol-

lowing produdion

;

and indeed the
apprehensive of
the

Author

is

not a

little

AD'VERTISEM.ENT.
mean

xi

the iffue of a ftrid examination. In the
time, though he has already pre-

cluded himfelf from the ufual pleas to
indulgence, he

may at leaft

be allowed

to fuggeft the difiiculty
as

of the attempt,
for the

fome kind of apology

defeds

in the execution.

The

far greater

number even of

thofe

who

pretend to

be poffeffed of learning and intelledual
accompiifhments,being neither capable

nor willing to think for themfelves on

any

fubjeclj are

contented to adopt the

fentiments of perfons of foperior abi~
lities,

that are circulated

in.

books or

in

converfatioHj
to
moiitfa.

and
It
it is

echoed from

mouth

may

likewife

be remarked, that

frequently no.

eafy matter to diftinguifli the fenti-

ments

that

are

derived

from the
from thofe
that

fources above- mentioned,

:

xii

ADVERTISEMENT.
and
are.

that are properly original,

the refult of invention and refledion
united together.

A cafual coincidence
fometimes happeii,

of fentiment

will

where not the

leaft imitation

was

in-

tended; and when

this

is

the cafe,
it

the Author, in whofe compolitions
is

found,

may

as juftly affert his

claim

to Originality, as if

no fuch

coinci-

dence had ever

exifted.

To

thefe considerations, which will

in feveral inftances at leaft account for

an accidental similarity, and even
>s

AMEN E
others,

s s

of fentimcnts with thofe

of

fuppofing them to have
in

happened

fome

parts of the followit

ing Effay, the Author of

begs leave

to fubjoin a caution
It
is,

to his Readers

that they

would not expert to

meet

ADVERTISEMENT,
parts of this Eflay,
poffible

xiii

^meet with original fentiments in thofe

where

it i$

fcarce

they fhould be difcovered.

Thus,

for inftance, in

enumerating the

ingredients, pointing out the objeds,

or illuftrating the efforts of Genius,
there
is

very Httle fcope afforded for

any new track of thought ; and thofe

who would form
above-mentioned

juft opinions
articles,

of the

muft think
have gone

as the beft Authors
before

who

them have done upon the fame
Other
parts of the follow-

fubje£ls.

ing Treatife certainly afford fufficient
fcope for original fentiments
the Author has not been fo
to ftrike out
;

and

if

happy

as

fome of

thefe,

he hath

indeed laboured in vain,

and yery

much

failed in the

attainment of his

propofed end.
If

xlv

ADVERTiSEME.NT.
If he hath difcovered a vein of

original fentiment in any part of the

following V/ork,

it

will probably

ap-

pear in thofe fedions wherein he has
confidered

the connections

betwixt
traced

Genius, Wit, and

Humour;

the mutual influence of Imagination

on Taste, and of Taste on Imagi-

nation

;

explained the different

moin

difications, degrees,

and exertions of
as appearing

Original Genius,

Philosophy, Poetry, and the other
fine Arts
;

pointed out the Period of
to the Dif-

Society moft favourable

piay of original Poetic Genius in
particular,

and produced various

ar-

guments

in fupport of the pofition

he

bath advanced.
ginality of

In what degree Oriis

Sentiment

rcaliy difco-

vered on the above-mentioned fubjefts.

ADVERTISEMENT.
jeds,

xv

muft be

left

to the determina-

tion of the intelligent

and impartial
for his

Reader.

The Author,
leafl:

own
is

part, can at

declare, that he

not confcious of having borrowed
pbfervations

his

on thefe fubjeds from

the Writings of any other perfon whatever.

Should the volume now offered
the Public, be fo happy as to obtain

to
its

approbation, another will foon fuc-

ceed

;

in

which the

principal defi^^n
will

of the prefent volume

be farther

purfued, wherein the obfervations on

ORIGINAL Poetic Genius contained
in
it,

will

be exemplified by quotagreateft

tions

from the Works of the

•original

Geniufes in Poetry, whether

ancient or modern.

On

xvi

ADVERTISEMENT.
ON
the other hand,
if

the prefent
fall

volume fhould unhappily

under

the public cenfure, the Author will

not be fo unreafonable
ftrate or

as to

remon-

complain;
is

for

though the
infallible,
it

public

judgment

not

will for the

moft part be found to be
be more

insure juft, as it certainly will

impartial,

than the opinion of any

Writer concerning the merit of his

own

productions

.

That judgment,
it

therefore,

even though

fhould al-

together difcourage
lication of a fecond

him from the pubvolume, he
;

is

de-

termined to refped

for

he will not
ill-fated

obftinately perfift in

an

at-

tempt to
nor
will

write, adverjis

numinibus\

he

difcredit himfelf

bypub-

lifhing

what may be thought unwor-

thy of a perufal.

T H

fe

ESSAY
O N

AN

G E N

I

U
I.

S^

BOOK
OF THE
O
F

Nature, Properties, and Indications

GENIUS;
ANDOFITS

VARIOUS MODES

of

EXERTION.

SECTION
O
F

L

T H

E

OBJECTS

AND

INGREDIENTS
O F

GENIUS;
ANDOFTHE

EFFICACY

of thofe

INGREDIENTS
IN

UNITED

COMPOSITION.
^^5k^5^^
-^^

T

mufl:

have occurred to every
has furveyed, with an

T

f one who

4^^ -^4
talents

<^^^i"^^T degree of attention, the

unequal diftribution of natural

among mankind

-,

that as there

is

a

great diverfity of thefe

obfervable

among

them, fo the fame talents are poffefied in
very different proportions by different per«
fons.

This variety both in the kind and

B

2

degres

4

ANESSAY
it

degree of mental accomplifhments, while
indicates that

man was formed

for fociety,

doth likewife clearly point out the refpeftive
nations in
life

which every individual
and to adorn.
ill

is

beft

calculated to
as
it

fill

Education,
invigorate

is

well or

directed,

may

or weaken the natural powers of the ipind, but
it

cannot produce or annihilate them.

How much

foever thefe powers

may hp

perverted or mifapplied, by the folly and ig-

norance of men,

it

cannot be denied, that
is

the variety with which they are beftoWed,

both a wife and beneficent contrivance of
the Author of nature
;

fince a diverfity

and and

a fubordination of intelle6lual accomplifli-

ments are no

lefs

neceffary to the order
fociety,

good government of

than a fubor-

dination of rank and fortune.

By
life
is

thefe

means the

general bufinefs of

moll

fuccefsfully carried

on

j

men become muto,
:

tually dependent

upon, and fubfervient

the neceffities of each other
themfeives
to agriculture

fome apply

and commerces
while

O N
fition, or.of

G E N
more
lively

I

U

S.

5

while others; of a more contemplative difpoa

imagination, de^

dicate their time to philofophy

and the

11^

beral arts.

^^^.Of

thofe

who

have applied themfelves to
a fmall

the cultivation of either,

number
any con-

only are qualified to extend their empire,

and advance

their

improvement

in

fiderable degree.

To

explore unbeaten tracks,

and make new
Science
;

difcoveries in the regions of

to invent the defigns,
is

and perfed

the produ61:ions of Art,

the province of

Genius alone.

Thefe ends are the objecls to
•,

which

it

conftantly afpires
thefe ends

and the
fall

attain-

ment of

can only

within the

compafs of the few enlightened, penetrating,

and capacious minds, that feem deftined by
Providence for enlarging the fphere of hu-

man knowledge and human
bulk of the
literary part

happinefs.

The

of mankind mufl

be contented to follow the path marked out

by fuehilluflrious

leaders.

B

3

Having

6

AN ESSAY
Having fuggefted the objeds
to

which

Genius naturally

afpires,

it

will

be more
it

eafy to difcover the
tains

means by which

at-

them

J

or, in other

words, the printhis lin-

cipal ingredients

which conftitute

gular accompli fhment.

Thefe are imagi-

nation, JUDGMENT, and TASTE.

We

fliali

confider therefore the peculiar nature of thefe
different qualities,

and point out the

partief-

cular efficacy of each,

and the combined

feds of

all,

in accompliflhing the purppfes

of Genius.

That Imagination

is

the quality of

all

others moft eflentially requifite to the exift-

ence of Genius, will univerfally be acknowledged.

Imagination

is

that faculty

whereby the

mind not only
tions,

refle6l3

on

its

own

opera-

but which aflembles the various ideas

conveyed to the underftanding by the canal
of fenfation, and treafured up in the repofitory

of the memory, compounding or disjoining

.

,

ON
them

G E N
;

I

US.

7its

joining
plaftic

at pleafure

and which, by

power of inventing new

afTociations
inn*

of ideas, and of combining them with
finite variety,
is

enabled to prefent a creafcenes

tion of
obje6ls

its

own, and to exhibit

and

which never

exifted in nature.
is

So

indifpenfibly necefTary

this faculty in the
all

compoiition of Genius, that
ries in fcience,

the difcove-

and

all

the inventions

and

improvements in

art, if

we

except fuch as

have arifen from mere accident, derive their
origin

from
it

its

vigorous exertion *.

At the

fame time
falfe

muft be

confefled, that all the

and
all

fallacious fyftems

of the former,

and

the irregular and illegitimate perin"

formances

the latter,

which have ever

* It would be talking with great impropriety, to
afcribe either the

one or the other to the force of an

acute and penetrating

Judgment

;

fmce

it

is

the chief

province of this faculty, as will immediately be fhewn,
to

employ

its

difcerning

power in demonftrating, by

juft reafoning

and induction, the truth and importance
;

of thofe difcoveries, and the utility of thofe inventions

while the inventions and difcoveries themfelves muft be
efFedluated by the

power of a plafticor warm imagination.

B 4

been

;

8

A N

E

S S

AY
may be
juftly

been obtruded upon mankind,

imputed to the unbounded extravagance of
the fame faculty
ral confequences tion,
:

fuch

effe6ls are

the natu-

of an exuberant imagina-

without any proportionable fhare of
It is

the reafoning talent.

evidently necef-

fary therefore, in order to render the pro-

du6tions of Genius regular and juft, as well
as elegant

and ingenious, that the difcern-

ing and coercive power of judgment fhould

mark and

reflrain the excurfions of a
;

wan-

ton imagination

in other words, that the

aufterity of reafon fhould blend itfelf

with

the gaiety of the graces.

Here then we
s

bave another ingredient of Genius
gredient effential to
its

an in-

conflitution,

and

without which

it

cannot poflibly be exhieven an accurate

bited to full advantage,

and penetrating judgment.

The

proper
is

office

of

judgment

in

com-

pofition,

to

compare the ideas which imagiJ

nation colle6ls

to obferve their agreement

or difagreement, their relations and refemblances

ON GEN
blances
;

I

US.
rejed^

^
fuch

to point out fach as are o£ a ho;

mogeneous nature
as are difcordant
;

to

mark and
finally,

and

to determine

the truth and utility of the inventions or difcoveries

which are produced by the power of
-f.

imagination

This faculty

is,

in all

its

operations, cool, attentive, and confiderate.
It

canvalTes the defign,

ponders the fenti-

ments, examines their propriety and conne^lion, and reviews the whole compofition

with fevere impartiality.

Thus

it

appears to

be in every refpe^l a proper counterbalance
to the

RAMBLING and volatile power of
Tlic onc, perpetually atfoar, is apt to deviate into the
;

IMAGINATION.
tempting to

mazes of error
wanderer in
its

while the other arrefts the

vagrant courfe, and compels

t QuiNTiLiAN, who pofTefled all the ingredients of Genius in a high and almoft equal degree, feems to
confider
fition, that

Judgment as (o efiential a one in its compohe will not allow the name of Invention to
Nee
quldem credo eum qui non

any difcovery of imagination which has not pafled the
teft

of reafon

:

invenijje

judicavit.

it

lo
it

AN ESSAY
to

follow the path of

nature and of

truth.

Indeed the principal ufe and the proper
fphere of judgment, in works of Genius

and Art,

is

to guard

an author or an

artift

againft the faults he

may
him

be apt to commit,

either in the defign or execution of his

work,

rather than to

affifl

in the attainment

of any
faculty
plifli.

uncommon
is

beauty, a tafk which this

by no means qualified to accom-

We

may

alfo

obferve,

that

it

is

chiefly

employed in pointing out the mofli

obvious blemifhes in any performance, and
efpecially

fuch as are contrary to the rules

of

art.
lefs
;

There

are other blemifhes, perhaps

no

confiderable,
as

that utterly efcape
peculiar

its

notice

there are certain

and

delicate beauties

of which

it

can take no

cognifance.
that faculty

Both

thefe are the obje6ls of

which we diftinguifhed by the
confidered as the
laft

name of taste, and

ingredient in the compofition of Genius.

We

ON
"

G E N
its

I

U

S.

II
inter-

We

maydefine TASTE to be that

nal fenfe, which, by
fen ribillty,,

own

exquifitely nice

without

the

affiflance

of the

reafoning faculty, diflinguillies and deterrnines the .various quahties of the objeils

fubmitted to

its

cognlfance

j

pronouncing,
that they ar^

by

its

own

arbitrary verdi6l,

gnand or mean, beautiful or ugly, decent
or ridiculous *,"
pears, that Tafte

From
is

this definition it

ap«

defigned as a fupplement

to the defe6ls of the
leaft in

power of jadgment,

at

canvalling the merit of the performait.
it

ances of

Thefe indeed are the fubjefls
exercifes
its

on which

difcerning talent

with, the greateft propriety, as well as with

the greatefl probability of fuccefs
nion, however,
is

:

its

domi-

in

fome degree
;

univerfal,

both in the Arts and Sciences

though that
and more
is

dominion

is

much more

abfolute,
it

legitimate in the former than

in the

"

* Omnes enim,

tacito

quodam

fenfu, fine

uliii

af te

aut ratione, qua? flnt in artibus ac rationibus.i;e<5la ac

prava dijudicant.

Cicero

de Qrat.

lib. iii,

cap. 50.

latter.

;

li
latter.

AN ESSAY
The
truth
is,

to bring philofophkal

fabjefts to the tribunal of Tafte, or to

em-

ploy this faculty pritrcipally in their examination,
rally
is

extremely dangerous, and natuabfurdity
is

produ6live of
order of things
is

and

error.
j

The

thereby reverfed

reafon

dethroned, and

fenle ufurps the

pJace of judgment.

Tafte therefore muft be

contented to a6l an inferior and fubordinate
part in the refearches of fcience
:

it

muft not

pretend to take the lead of reafon, but
bly follow the path

hum*
In
is

marked out by

it.

the defigns and works of art, the cafe
quite otherwife.

Inftead of being dire61:ed

by judgment,
turn
there
;

it

claims the direftion in
is

its

its

authority

uncontrolable,
its

and
In-

lies
it

no appeal from

decifions.

deed
cifion

is

well qualified to decide with prefubje6ts of this kind

and certainty on

for

it

poffefTes a perfpicacity

of difcernment

with regard to them,which reafon can by no

means pretend

to,

even on thofe fubje6ls that
its

are the moft adapted to

nature.

So much

more

perfe(5t are

the fenfes than the underflamding).

O N G E N I U S. We {hall illuftrate thefe flandingv
by an example,

13

remarks

Let us fuppofe two perfons, the one posseffed

of a comprehenfive and penetrating
deli-

judgment, without any refinement or

cacy of taftej the other endued with the

mod
ing

exquifite fenfibility of tafte,

without

any extraordinary proportion of the reafontalent,

both

fet

to

work

in

examining

the merit of feme mafterly produ6lion of
art, that

admired piece of hiftory-painting,

for inftance, of the Crucifixion, by

Michael

Angelo, and
dure,
will

obferve their different proccr
different

and the very

remarks they

make.

The former
he confiders

meafures with his

eye the exa6l proportion of every figure in
the piece
;

how

far the rules

of

art are obferved in the defign

and ordon-

nancej whether the group of fubordinate
figures naturally lead the eye to the capita!

one, and fix the attention principally
it
;

upon
pi-o-

and whether the

artift

has given a

per variety of expreffion to the countenances

of

,14

AN ESSAY
Upon
difcovering
to

of the feveral fpedlators.
that the painter

had exa6lly conformed
all

the rules of his art in

thefe particulars,
his

he would not only applaud
but would
ry and
Ikill

judgment,
mafte-

alfo give teflimony to his
;

without, however, having any

true feeling of thofe

uncommon

beauties
art of

which

conftitute real merit in the

painting.

Such would be the procedure and

remarks of the

man

of mere judgment.

Confider now, on the other hand, in what a
different

manner the man of

tafte will

pro-

ceed,
ed.

and in what manner he

will

be afFedlplace,

Inftead of attending, in the

lirft

to the jufl proportions of the various figures

exhibited in the draught, however neceffary
to be obferved
;

inftead of remarking, with

approbation,

the judgment and ingenuity

difplayed by the artift in the uniformity of
defign,

and in the regularity and

juftnefs

that appear in the difpofition of „the feveral
figures of the piece
5

he

fixes his

eye

upon

the principal one, in which he obferves the
various contorfions of the countenance, the

natural

;

O N

G E N
air

I

U

S.

15

natural expreffions of agonifmg pain, mixed

however with an
and companion.

of divine benignity
pafles

Then he

on

to the

contemplation of the inferior and fubordinate figures, in which he perceives a variety of oppofite paffions, of rage and terror,

of admiration and pity, fcrongly marked in
their different countenances
5

and

feels

the

correfponding
llrength

emotions
thofe

in

their

utmoft

which

feveral

paffions are

calculated to infpire.

In a word, the

man man

of judgment approves of and admires what
is

merely mechanical in the piece
tafle is ftruck

j

the

of

with what could only be

efFefted

by the power of Genius.
is

Wherewherever

ever nature

juflly reprefented,

the features of any one pafiion are forcibly
expreffed, to thofe features his attention
attra6led,
is

and he dwells on the contempla-

tion of
pleafure.
cool,

them with

intenfe

and

exquifite

The

fenfations of the

former are

weak, and unafFe6ling throughout
latter
5

thofe of the

are
or,

warm,

vivid,

and

deeply interefting

to fpeak

more pro^
perly.

,

i6
perly,

AN ESSAY
the one reafons, the other feels
-|-.

But

as

no reafoning can enable
is

a

man

to

form an idea of what
fenfation,

really

an objeft of

the moft penetrating

judgment

can never fupply the want of an exquifite
fenfibility
lifli

of

tafte. ^

In order therefore to re-

and

to judge of the productions of

Ge-

nius and of Art,

there

muft be an internal

perceptive power, exquifitely fenfible to all the

impreffions

which fuch produ6lions are

ca-

pable of making on a fufceptible mind,

/

'

This internal power of perception, which

we

diftinguifh by the

name of taste, and
to be fo neceflary for

which we have fnewn

enabling us to judge properly concerning

works of imagination, does not appear
requifite, in the

to

^e

fame degree, in the refearches
this

of

Science.

In

department,

reafon

reaflumes the reins, points out and prefcribes

•\-

Non
multi

ratione aliqua, fed

bili

judicatur.

licet

motu nefcio an inenarraNeque hoc ab ullo fatis explicari puto, Quint. /»/?//. lib.vi. tentaverint.

the

ON GENIUS.
the flight of fancy, affigns the office,

17

and

determines the authoiity of

tafle,

which, as

we

have already obferved,

muft here be
In phiis

Contented to a6l a fecondary part.

lofophical fpeculations a conftant appeal

made

to the faculty of Reafon, not to that
;

of Imagination

principles are laid

down,

arguments are adduced, phenomena are explained,

and
it

their confequences inveftigated.

Hence

follows, that in the
is

whole procefs

judgment

much more
is

exercifed than tafle.

Yet fome fcope
cife

alfo afforded for the exer;

of the latter faculty

for as all difcove-

ries in fcience are the

work of imagination,
particularly

which will be afterwards
fo tafte

fhewn 5

may be

very properly exerted in the

illuftration

of thofe difcoveries which have

obtained the fan6lion of reafon; provided
that, in this cafe, tafte

and imagination ad:

under the dire6lion, and fubmit to the contfoling

power of judgment.

On

the other hand,

judgment has a parit,

ticular province afligned to

in

examining
the

C

1

8

'

AN ESSAY
thefe,- it a£ls

the

works of Genius and Art ; though, with
an inferior part, as

regard to
tafte

does in the former cafe.

Judgment
which

mud

not prefume to take cognifance of

thofe exquifite

and deHcate

beauties,

are properly the objefls of the laft mention-

ed faculty

J

but

it

may

determine concerning

regularity, juftnefs,
fign,

and uniformity of de-»

and concerning propriety of fentiment
exprelTion.

and

All thefe

fall

within

its

fpherej

and

its

decifions in thefe refpedls

command

our

afTent.

Upon the whole may be alternately
J

as

judgment and taste

exercifed in the fphere of

each other, and ought to
influence,

ad

with combined
power, and
;

though with

different

with different degrees of exertion
thefe faculties

fo

both

muft be united with a high

degree of imagination, in order to conftitute

improved and confummate Genius.

From the obfervations that have been m&dt on thofe diftinguifliing faculties of the human
mind,

;

ON GENIUS.
niiod,

19

IMAGINATION, JUDGMENT, and
it is evident:,;

TASTE,
talents,
it

that not any one of thefe

in whatever degree
itfelf

we may

fuppofe

to exifl, can of

attain the objefts of

Genius.
fential

Even imagination,

the moft efin the

and predominant ingredient
if

compofition of this charafter,
pofe
it

we

fup-

to exift in a

man

without any

confii-

derable

proportion of the other faculties,

will be miferably inadequate to the obje«5ls
j'liffe

mentioned

i

for

though

it

may, by

its

own
art,

native vigour, fometimes ftrike out

an

important difcovery, either in fcience or in
yet this will
fufficient
its

no way and

avail,

if there

h

not a

flrength of reafon bellowed
utility.

to prove

truth

Such a

dif-

covery will often,

however undefervedly, ex;

pofe the author to ridicule

and the utmoft
is

reward he can hope

for

of his labour,

to

gain* the chara61:er of a romantic vifionary,

or an adventurous,

but vain,

pro]*e6lor

though the fame difcovery more
vealed,

clearly re-

and more

fully demonftrated,

by an-

other perfon, pofieffed perhaps of

no higher
degree

C

2

20

A N

E

S S

AY
will procure

degree of imagination, but endued with a

more penetrating judgment,

him
thor.

that reputation

and honour, of which
firft

the greateft part was due to the

au-

Having

confidered the nature of the dif-

ferent faculties of IMAGINATION,

JUDGMENT

and TASTE, and pointed out
exertions
tion, the
is
-,

their refpeitive

having alfo fnewn that imagina-

mod diftinguilliing of thefe faculties,
to attain the obje6ls of
fhall

of

itfelf infufficient

Genius j we

now

take a view of

Ima-

gination, Judgment, and Tafte, as forming

by

their

union the

full perfe6lion

of Genius,
effedls in

and

fhall obferve their

combined

compolition.

If we fuppofe a

plastic and comprehen-

sive

IMAGINATION, an ACUTE INTELLECT,
exquifite sensibility

and an

and refine-

ment of taste, to be all combined in one perfon,

and employed

in the arts or fciences,we

may eafily conceive, that

the efFe6l of fuch an

union

ON GENIUS.
union
will be very extraordinary.
cafe, thefe faculties

ai
In fuch a

going hand in hand toge-

ther,

mutually enlighten

and

affiil

each

other.

Imagination takes a long and adven-

turous, but fecure flight, under the guid-

ing rein of judgment; which, though naturally cool

and

deliberate,

catches fome-

what of the ardor of
rapid courfe.

the

former in
allufion,

its

To
it

drop the

ima-

gination imparts vivacity to judgment, and
receives

from

folidity

and

juftnefs

:

taste
from
effedl

beftows

ELEGANCE Oil

both, and derives

them PRECISION and sensibility. The
will

of the union of thefe qualities in compofition,
be obferved and
felt

by every reader.
furprifing fentiin
juft

It will

appear in

new and

ments,

in fplendid

imagery,

and

nervous reafoning, and in eloquent, graceful,

and animated expreflion.
writings

Hence, in
pofTelTes

the

of an

author

who

the qualities above mentioned in a high degree,

we

are

convinced,

pleafed,

or af-

feded,
his

according to the various ftrain of
as
it

compofition,

is

adapted to the

C

3

under-

22

A N

E
the

S S

AY
or
the

underfcanding,
heart.

imagination,

We

fhall

not pretend to afcertain the

exaft proportion of the feveral ingredients

which enter

into the formation of Genius
to have fhewn, that they

-,

it is fufficient

muft

all

fubfift

in a confiderable degree, a truth

which we have deduced from the
Genius themfelves.
that as

objecls of

We

(hall

only remark,

among

the faculties of

which Ge-

nius

is

compofed,

imagination bears the

principal and moft dirftinguifliing part, fo of

courfe

it

will

and ought

to be the

predomi-

nant one.

An exad

equilibrium of the rea-

foning and inventive powers of the mind,
is

perhaps utterly incompatible with their
3

very different natures

but though a perfe61:
yet they

equipoife cannot fubfift,

may

be

diftributed in fuch a proportion, as to preferve nearly

an equality of weighty and,
is

notwithftanding the opinion which
rally

gene-

and abfurdly entertained to the conthe powers of imagination and rea-

trary,

fon

ON GENIUS.
foil

2^

may

be united in a very high degree,
is

though

this

not always the

cafe,

in the

fame perfon.

Should any one be inclined to controvert
the account

we have given of
to be a
it is

the nature

and

ingredients of Genius, and, inftead of
it

allovv^ing

compound
conftituted
j

quality, be

of opinion that
terifed

and characor, in other

by Imagination alone
that Genius

words,

and Imagination are
;

one and the fame thing

we
s

fhall not dif-

pute with him about words
dients of

for the ingre-

Genius depend

intirely
it,

upon the
and upon
it.

acceptation in

which we take

the extent and offices
evident,

we

affign to

It

is
its

from the idea we have given of

obje6\s, that the ingredients

above enumeto the at-

rated

and explained, are neceffary
;

tainment of them

and therefore we admit
its

thofe ingredients into
after all,

compofition.
(till

If,

any perfon fhould

continue to

think that Genius and Imagination are fyn-

onymous

terms, and that the powers of the

C 4

former

:

24

AN ESSAY
latter
is
;

former are mofl properly exprefled by thofe
of the
let

him

refie6l,

that if the

former

characfterifed

by fancy alone, withis

out any proportion of judgment, there
fcarce

any means

left

us of diftinguifhing

betwixt the flights of Genius and the reveries

of a Lunatic.

It

is

likewife to be obfervcd, that

we

re-

gard the Iliad and the Odyjfey as works of Genius, not only becaufe there appears an
aflonifhing difplay of Imagination in the

invention

of

chara6lers

and incidents in
;

thofe admired produ(^ions

but

alfo,

be-

caufe that Imagination
niceft
juflly

is

regulated by the

judgment
drawn,

j

becaufe the characters are

as well as

uniformly fupportas

ed

;

and the incidents

judicioufly dif:

pofed, as they are happily invented
laftly,

and,

becaufe regularity and beauty of dewell as maftery of execution, are

fign, as

confpicuous throughout the whole.

Take

away

the excellencies

now

mentioned, and

you deprive

thofe divine poerhs of half their

merit

O N
merit
:

GE N

I

U

S.

^s

deftitute of thefe excellencies, they

could only be confidered as the rapfodies of

an extravagant and lawlefs fancy, not as the produ6lions of well regulated and confum-

mate Genius.

From
try

all

that has been faid,
arifes,

one ob-

vious remark naturally

that induf-

and application, though they may im-

prove the powers of Genius, can never fuperfede

the neceflity,

or fupply the want

of them.
is

The

truth

of

this obfervation

abundantly confirmed by the different

flrain

and

fuccefs
;

of the writings of dif-

ferent

authors

which writings
is

ferve

to

fhew,
ple

that as Genius

the vital princifpecies

which animates every

of com-

pofition,

the moft elaborate performances
it,

without

are

no other than a
frigid

lifelefs

mafs of matter,

and uninterefting,

equally deftitute of paffion, fentiment and
fpirit.

To

conclude
is

:

A

performance void

of Genius,

like

an opake body viewed
-,

in a dark and cloudy day

but a perform-

ance

26

AN ESSAY
this di-

ance irradiated with the beams of
vine
quality,
is

like

an obje6l rendered
by the fplendor

pellucid

and tranfparent

of the fun.

SECTION

ON GENIUS.

SECTION'
O
U, S
F

II.

T H

E

U A L

INDICATIONS
O F

G

E

N

I

U

S.

A y ING
ceding

endeavoured, in the preto explain the nature,

fe<5lion,

and determine the
and having

ingredients of Genius;

likewife pointed out the effe^s

of thofe ingredients in compofition,

we

fhall

now

proceed to coniider the mofl ufual in-

dications of the above mentioned quaHty.

It

may
is

be obferved in general, that Ge-

nius

neither uniform in the manner, noir
its

periodical with regard to the time of

apthe

pearance.

The manner depends upon
and
pectiliar

original conilitution

modification

:

j8

an essay
and upon that mutual influence
one certain ob-

tion of the mental powers, together with

the correfponding organifation of the corporeal ones,

of both, in confequence of which the mind
receives a particular bias to
jecl,

and acquires a

talent for

one

art or

fcience rather than another.

The

period

depends fometimes upon a fortunate accident
encouraging
its

exertion, fometimes

upon a
its

variety of concurring caufes flimulating

ardor, and fometimes
fervefcence of
it)

upon

that natural ef-

mind
it

(if

we may

thus exprefs

by which

burils forth with irrefiflible

energy, at different ages, in different perfons, not only without

any foreign

aid,

but

in oppofition to every obftacle that arifes in
its

way.

With
riety

regard to the

firfl

of thefe points
in a vaft va-

though Genius difcovers
of forms,

itfelf

we have

already obferved,

that thofe forms are diftinguilhed and chara6lerifed
all,

by one quality

common

to

them
and

polTefTed indeed in very different degrees,

ON GENIUS.
and exerted in very
quality,
tion.
it

29
;

different capacities
is

this

will

be underftood,

Imagina-

The mental powers

unfold themfelves

in exa6l proportion to our neceflities
occafions for exercifing them.
therefore being that faculty

and

Imagination

which

lays the

foundation of

all

our knowledge, by colleft-

ing and treafuring up in the repofitory of
the

memory
is

thofe materials

ment

afterwards to

on which Judgwork, and being pe-

culiarly adapted to the gay, delightful, va-

cant feafon of childhood and youth, appears
in thofe early periods in
liance
all its

puerile bril-

and

fimplicity, long before the reaitfelf

foning faculty difcovers
derable degree.

in

any confiin

Imagination however,

general, exercifes itfelf for

fome time

indis-

criminately
to
it

on the various
fenfes,

objefts prefented

by the

without taking any par;

ticular or determinate direction

and fome-

times the peculiar bent and conformation of

Genius

is

difcernible only in the

advanced
it

period of youth.

The mind,

as foon as

becomes capable of attending to the reprefentation


fentation
it

AN ESSAY
receives of

outward obje6ls by

the miniftry of the fenfes, views fuch a reprefentation with the curiofity of i ftranger,

who

is

prefented with the profpe6l of an

agreeable and

uncommon

fcene.

The noit

velty of the objefls

at firft only afFe6l.
furprife.
It

with pleafure and
furveys, revolves,
lively

afterwards
fuccefafter
fe-

and reviews them
j

one

after another

and, at

laft,

having been long converfant with them,
le6ls

one diftinguifhed and favourite object
reft,

from the

which

it

purfues with

its

whole bent and vigour.
perfons,
it
is

There are fome
a certain bias

true, in

whom

or talent for one particular art or fcience,
rather than another, appears in very
life
;

early-

and in

fo great a degree as

would

in-

cline us to imagine, that fuch a difpofition

and

talent

mufl have been congenial and
are yet children,

in-

nate. /

While perfons

we

difcover in their infantile purfuits the open-

ing buds of Genius

j

we

difcern the rudi-

ments of the Philofopher,
Painter,

the Poet,

the

and the

Architect.

/
The

ON GENIUS.
The
niufes will be naturally

31

produ6lions indeed of youthful ge-

marked with thofe

improprieties and defed:s, both in defign,

fentiment and expreffion, which refult from
the florid, exuberant, and undifciplined imagination, that
is

peculiar to

an age wherein
its

Judgment hath not
ing power.

yet exerted

chaften-

When

the cafe

is

otherwife,

and

this faculty

hath attained confiderable
it

maturity in early youth,

affords

no

fa-

vourable prefage of future grandeur and extent of Genius
;

for

we

rarely find fruit
its

on

the

tree

which puts forth
firil

leaves

and

bloflbms on the

return of fpring *.

Nature

* QyiNTiLiAN confiders

thefe forward geniufes as

hafty and untimely growths, like thofe ears of corn,

which fuddenly fpring up
ftriking their roots

in a fliallow

foil,

without

deep into the earth, and acquire
full

the colour,

but not the fiibftance of

and ripe

grain, before the natural time.
Illud

ingeniorum velut prascox genus, non temere un-

quam
ciunt
;

pervenit ad frugem.

Hi funt qui parva
illic

facile fa-

& audacia

proveiSi, quicquid
id

poffunt, ftatim
in

oftendunt,

Poflunt autem

demum quod

proximo
ell:

;

32

AN ESSAY
to

Nature requires time
dudions
i

mature her pro-

the powers of the
together,

mind and body
their

grow up

and both acquire

proper confidence and vigour by juft degrees; this at leaft
is

the ordinary courfe

of nature, from which there are few exceptions.

But though Genius cannot be
tain its full perfe6lion
culty,
till

faid to at-

the reafoning faac-

one of
its

its

eflential ingredients,

quires

utmoft extent and improvement
its

yet there are certain indications of

exift-

ence and powers, even in early

life,

which

an

attentive

obferver
as

may

eafily

difcover,

and which are
wherein
it

various

as

the forms

appears.

eft:

verba continuant; haec vultu interrito, nulla tar:

dati verecundia proferunt

non multum

praeftant, fed

cito

;

non

fubeft vera vis, nee penitus immiffis radici:

bus nititur
celerius. fe
buTs
lib.
ariftis
J.

ut quae

fummo

folo fparfa funt femina,

efFundunt

&

imitatse fpicas herbulse inani-

ante meflem flavefcunt.

Quint.

/«/?;/.

cap. 3.

We

O N

GENIUS.
Let us
firil

33

We
which

fhall confider the

moft diftingullliing

of thefe forms, and the peculiar indications
charafterife them.

ob-

ferve the eflential indications of philofophic

Genius.

Imagination receives a very different
dification or

mo-

form in the mind of a Philoit

fopher,
Poet.

from what
In the one
it

takes in that of a
all

extends to
;

the pofit

lible relations

of things

in the other

ad-

mits only thofe that are probable, in order
to determine fuch as are real.

Hence
inflance

it
it

fhould feem,

that in the

firft

ought to
laft,

poffefs greater

compafs, and in the

greater accuracy.

Here then we have
Genius
accu-

one

charafteriftical indication of a
j

for philofophical Science

and that

is,

racy of imagination.

Its aflbciations

of ideas

will be perfedly juft

and exad, no extraj

neous ones will be admitted
all

it

will affemble

that are neceilary to a diftincl conception
illuftration

and

of the fubjecl

it

contem-

plates,

and

difcard fuch as are

no way conducive

D

34

A N

E

S S

AY
its

ducive to thofe purpofes. This precifion and
accuracy in feledting and combining
ideas,

appears to proceed from a native regularity,
clearnefs,

and even flrength of Imagina-

tion,

united with a certain acumen ingenii^ a

Iharpnefs of difcernment, the true criterions

of philofophic Genius.

We

may

farther obferve,

that though
its

Reafon, by flow and gradual fleps attains

utmoft extent of comprehenfion,

jret

being

a very diftinguifliing faculty in the mind of
the Philofopher,
to maturity in
it

appears to advance fafter
in

him than

any other per-

fonj and fome prefages of the future extent of his underftanding

may

be derived

from

his

firft

argumentative

eflays.

He

will likjswife difcover an acutenefs of perception, a fhrewdnefs and fagacity in his
obferyations, remarkable for his years
;

and

will begin early to inftitute comparifons, to

conneft his ideas, and to judge of the relations in

which he ftands to the perfons

and

obje6ls with

which he

is

furrounded.

This

ON GENIUS.
This Teems to
be
the natural

35
progrefs,

and

firft

exertion

of Reafon,

in

ufeful

Science.

Let

it

be remarked in the
is

laft place,

that

philofophical Genius

peculiarly

diftin-

guifhed by a certain moral and contemplative

turn of mind.

It feels

a powerful tenits

dency to fpeculat;on, and derives
pleafure from
it.

chief

Not

fatisfied

with explorit

ing the phenomena of nature,
inveftigate their

delights to

unknown

caufes.

Such are

the ufual indications of philofophic Genius.

We

fliall

next confider the moft remarkable

indications of this chara6ler in Poetry.

As Imagination

is

the predominant in-

gredient in the compofition of poetic
nius,
it

Ge-

will there difcover itfelf in

its

utmoft

exuberance and fecundity.

This faculty

will naturally difplay its creative

power on
run

thofe fubje^ls
its

which

afford fulleft fcope for
it

exercifej for

which reafon

will

into the

more

pleafing fpecies of

fi^5lion,

and
will

D

z

f

36

A N

E

S S

AY
by a happy
fable

will be particularly diftinguiflied
fertility

of invention.

But though
all

be the ftrain of compofition of

others

moit
clais

fuitable

and appropriated to the higheft
its

of poetic Genius, neither
its

choice

nor

abilities are reftri6led to this alone.

It freely

indulges

itfelf

on a

variety of fub*
is

j^ds;

in the feledion of

which a Poet

in a great meafure influenced by his age,

temper, and ruling paffion.

Thus poems

defcribing the beauties of nature, the ten-

der tranfports of love, the flattering profpe6ts of ambition, the affe6lionate

and ar-

dent reciprocations of friendfliip, and the
peaceful pleafures of rural tranquillity, are

often

among

the

firft

eflays

of a young

Bard.
cular

We
on

purpofely avoid being fo parti-

this

branch of our

fubjefl, as

we

would otherwife choofe
anticipate

to be, left

we fhould
will

fome of the obfervations that

be made on the diftinguifliing charafters

of original poetic Genius,
of our EfTay,

in

another part

It

ON GENIUS.
It

37

may

not however be improper farther

to obferve in this place, that one

who

is

born with a Genius for Poetry,

will difcoit

ver a pecuHar relifh and love for
earlieft years
;

in his

and that he

will be naturally

led to imitate the produdlions

he admires.
difplays

Imagination, which in every
itfelf

man

before any of the other faculties, will

be diicernible in

him

in a ftate

of childhood,
to Poetry:

and

will

ftrongly

prompt him

Tasso, we are

told,

compofed poems when
Pope,

he was only

five

years of age;

we

know,

wrote fome accurate
fcarce tv^relve
;

little

pieces,

when he was
felf
lefs

and he him-

acquaints us, by a beautiful, but doubtfigurative expreffion, that he

began to
\

write almoft as foon as he began to fpeak

As

yet a child, nor yet a fool to fame,

I lifp'd in

nun^bers, for the numbers came.

Milton

dedicated his Genius to the Mufes

in his earlieft youth: he has prefented us

with a few poems written in his thirteenth
or fourteenth year,
inaccurate indeed,
as

D

3

was

38

AN ESSAY
an age,
efpecially in

v/as natural at fach

one

who was

afterwards to become fo great

a Poet, but

full

of the ardor and infpiration
Indeed moil of his ju-

of genuine Poetry.
venile pieces,

which are very unequal in

their merit, afford the happieft prefages of

that

amazing grandeur and extent of Imaof

gination,

which he long

after

exhi-

bited fo glorious a
difi Loji.

monument

in his Para-

We

fliall

only add, that the performances
poflefTed

of a youthful Poet,
will always

of true Genius,

abound with

that luxuriance of

imagination,
fpirit

and with that vivacity and
fuitable to his years
;

which are

but

at the
flitute

fame time they

will generally be de-

of that chaftity and mafculine vigour

of expreffion, as well as juftnefs and propriety of fentiment,
tible

which are only compa'\,

with maturer age

The
f That great Mafter of Reafon and Eloquence, 4\'bGni we laft quoted, and whom we jfhall have frequent

ON GENIUS.
The fame vivacity and ajidor

39
of Ima-

gination which indicates the Poet, characterifes

quent occafiion to quote in the courfe of
fince his fentiments

this Eflay,

on the fubjedls of which he

treats,

are, as juft as they are elegantly

and happily exprelTed,
is

obferves, that luxuriance of Imagination

to be re-

garded as a favourable indication of future
copioufnefs of Genius
;

fertility

and

advifes

that

it

fhould by all

means be encouraged
of encouraging
it,

;

and fuggefts the proper method

without apprehending any danger

from

its

excefs.

Nee unquam me
quid fuperfuerit.

in his difcentis annis oiFendat
ipfis

/I

Quin
velut

do^toribus hoc

ciTe

curae

velim, ut teneras adhuc mentes more nutricum mollius
alant,

&

fatiari

quodam
illud

jucundioris difciplinas

lade patiantur.

Erit

plenius

interim corpus,
fpes roboris.

quod

mox

adulta astas aftringat.

Hinc

Maciem namque
let

& infirmitatem

in

pofterum minari fo-

protinus omnibus membris expreffus infans.

AuFacile

deat hsec aetas plura,
iint licet ilia
eft
Ilia

&

inveniat,

&

inventis gaudeat,

non

fatis

interim ficca

&

fevera.

remedium

ubertatis, flerilia nullo labore vincuntur.

mihi in pueris natura

minimum

fpei dabit, in
efle

qua

ingenium judicio praefumitur.
fam.

Materiam

primam
ratio li-

volo vel abundantiorem, atque ultra

quam
lit

oporteat fu-

Multum

hide decoquent anni,

multum

mabitj aliquid velut ufu ipfo deteretur,

modo unde
excidi

D

4

40

A N
and

E

S S

AY
5

terifes likewife

diilinguifhes the Painter

the figns only being different by which
exprefled.

it is

The former
the latter

endeavours to im-

part his fentiments and ideas to us by verbal
defcription
J

fets

before our eyes a

flriking refemblance of the objects of

which

he intends to convey an

idea,

by the inge-

nious contrivance of various colours delicately blended,

and by the proper union of
In order to effe6l his purhis

light

and (hade.

pofe, he

muft have

imagination poflefTed

with very vivid conceptions of the obje6ts he

excidi poffit
initio

&

quod exculpi.

Erit autem,

fi

non ab

tenuem nimium laminam duxerimus,

& quam
ii.

caelatura altior rumpat.

Quintil.

/«/?//. lib.

cap. 4.

Cicero's fentiments on
with thofe of

this fubje6t coincide

exadly

Quintilian
fe efferat in

quoted above:

Volo enim,

adolefcente foecunditas

:

nam
far-

facilius, ficut in vitibus

revocantur ea, quse fek
nihil
:

nimium

profuderunt, quam,

fi

valet materies,
ita

nova

menta cultura excitantur
unde
aliquid

volo

efTe

in adolefcente

amputem.

Non
ii.

enim

poteft in eo effc
eft

fuccus diuturnus, quod nimis celeriter
affecutum.

maturitatem

De Or at,

lib.

cap. 21.

would

ON GENIUS.
would thus
fible

41
impos-

exhibit; otherwife

it is

he fliould delineate the tranfcript of
canvas.

them upon

The Imagination muft
Painter therefore of true

guide the hand in the defign and execution

of the whole.

A

Genius, having his fancy ftrongly imprcfTed

and wholly occupied by the

mod

lively

con-

ceptions of the objeds of which he intends to exprefs the refemblance, has immediate
^-ecourfe to his pencil,

and attempts, by the
to

dexterous

ufe

of colours,

fketch

out

thofe perfe6t
iil

and

living figures

which exbe fre-

in

his

own
;

mind.

He

will

quently obferved to employ his talents in
this

manner

and the eminence and extent
is

of his Genius
his fuccefs.

indicated

by the degree of

Imagination, in a confiderable degree,
alfo requifite to the Mufician,

is

who would

become

excellent

in

his

profeflion.

He
com-

muft be thoroughly acquainted with the

power of founds
bination.

in

all

their variety of

His imagination muft

afiift

him
in

42

AN ESSAY
harmony ; and
his expe-

in combining founds, in order to conftitute
different fpecies of

rience of the effe6ls of various modulations,
firft

on the

ear, and,

by the inflru mentality

of this organ on the paflions, muft aid his
fancy in fetting his compofitions to the notes

of mufic.
nius
is

By fuch

exercifes a mufical

Ge-

indicated.

A Talent

or Genius for Archite6lure

is

difcovered by a proper union of Imagina-

tion and Tafte, dire6led to the accomplifh-

ment of

the ends of this art.

The

degree

of Imagination neceffary to a maflery in Architefture, depends

upon

fign to

it,

and the

we asimprovements we fupthe bounds

pofe pradicable in

it.

Human
all

ingenuity

hath as yet difcovered only
this
art,

five orders in

which

contain

the

various

forms of grandeur and beauty, confiflent
with regularity,
vented
;

that

have ever been inartifls

and our modern

have con-

fined their ambition to the ftudy

and imiGenius

tation

of thofe

illuftrious

monuments of

ON GEN
Genius
if it
left

I

U

S.

43

them by

their predecefTors, as

were impoffible to invent any other
or

fuperior

equal

models.

To

invent

new modek of
confefs,

Archite6lure,

would,

we

require great compafs of Imagi-

nation.

In fuch inventions however true
it
is

Genius delights, and by fuch
cated in a very high degree.

indi-

To

unite in

one confummate plan the various orders
of ancient Architecture, requires indeed a
confiderable fliare of Imaginations but
it

may

be obferved, that a refined and
is

w^ell

formed Talte

the principal requifite in
5

a modern Architeft

for

though Fancy

may

be employed in combining the dif-

ferent] orders of Architecture in

one ge-

neral delign,

it

is

the province of Tafte

alone to review the parts thus combined,

and
nefs
fore,

to determine the beauty

and gracefulthere-

of the whole.

Setting afide,
in
this
art,

new

inventions

which

can only be efFeCted by an
tent of Imagination,
affirm,

uncommon exwe may venture to
of

that

the

employment

Fancy
and

44

A N
is

E

S S

AY

and Tafte, in the manner above mentioned,

a proper indication of a Geas

nius for Archite6lure,

well as neces-

fary to the accomplifhment of fuch a
nius.

Ge-

With
its

refpe6t to a

Genius for Eloquence,
indications

charadleriflical

are

eflen-

tially

the fame with thofe which denote a
for

talent

Poetry *.

The fame
fire

creative

power,

the

fame extent and

force,

the

fame impetuolity, and
diftinguifh

of Imagination,

both almoft in an equal dethis

gree

;

with
is

difference only,

that the

latter

permitted to range with a looser
is

rein than

indulged to the former, which,

* Eft enim finitimus Oratori Poeta, numeris adftricpaulo, verborum autem licentia liberlor, multis vero ornandi generibus focius ac pene par; in hoc qultior

dem

certe prope idem, nullis ut terminis circumfcribat,
ilia

aut definiat jus fuum, quo minus ei liceat eadem
facultate,
lib,
j.

&

copia, vagari qua vellt.

Cicero

de Orat,

cap, i6.

though

ON GENIUS.
though
nefs
it

45

may

dare to emulate the boldinfpiration, is

and fublimity of poetic

not allowed to sport and

wanton

with

fuch wiLDNEss and luxuriance.

SECTION

46

A N

E

S S

Ay

SECTION
O
F

III.

T H E

CONNECTION
BETWIXT

GENIUS,
W
H
U
I

T,

AND

M

O
and

U

R.

GENIUS, Wit,

been confidered
equivalent fignification

Humour, have by many as words of
;

and have therefore

been often injudicioufly confounded together.

Some do not
;

perceive the difference
others, not attending to

betwixt them
it,

and

ufe thefe expreflions alternately

and

inreal
-,

difcriminately.

There

is

however a

difference

between thefe accomplifhments

and

ON GENIUS.
and
as the fubjeCi:

47
is

of

this Section
.

neither
to us at

incurious nor unimportant, and
leall,

is,

new, we
it

(hall

endeavour in the pro-

grefs or

to explain the nature,

and

to

mark

the eflential and peculiar characters
:

of the above-mentioned qualities

we

(hall

point out their diftinguifhing difference,

and

ihew

their

mutual conned:ion.

The

talents

we

are treating of are all the

offspring of Imagination, of

which quality
different
it

however they participate in very
degrees
;

as a

much

greater fhare of

is is

requilite to conftitute true Genius,

than

necefiary to conftitute either of the other

endowments.

Our

prefent inquiry obliges
little

us to anticipate a

what

will

after-

wards be more
ing, that

fully difcuffed,
is

by remark-

Genius
plaftic,

charaflerifed by a co-

pious and
tenfive
is

as well as a vivid

and exit

Imagination;

by which means

equally qualified to

invent and create^

or to conceive and defcribe in the mofl
lively

manner the

objects

it

contemplates.

Such

48
Such
tial
is

A N
the nature,

E

S S

AY
are the effen-

and fuch

chara6lers of Genius.

On

the other
invent

hand.

Wit and Humour

neither

nor create ; they neither

polTefs the vigour,

the compafs, nor the plaftic power of the

other quality.

Their proper province

is

to

afiemble with alertnefs thofe fentiments and

images, which
dicule.

may

excite pleafantry or ri-

Hence

vivacity

and quicknefs of

Imagination form their pecuUar charaflers.

In

fa6l,

the accomplifhments of
are fo

Wit and

Humour, which

much

the objefts of

appiaufe and envy, are derived from this vivacity of Fancy, united with
fenfe of Ridicule.

an exquite

As

a proof of this,

we

need only to obferve, that they are generally

employed in painting the ridiculous in characters

and in manners
ff rokes

;

and thofe

flafhes

of wit, and

of humour,

we

fo

much
of a

admire, are by no means the

effedls

creative Imagination, the diilinguifhing chara6leriftic

of true Genius

;

but of a quickafTembling
till

nefs

and

readinefs of fancy in
lie

fuch ideas as

latent in the

mind,

the

combining

ON GENIUS.
combining power of
afliftance
afibciatlon,

49
with the

of the retentive faculty,

calls

them

forth,

by the fuggeftion of fome
but
correfponding

diftant,

perhaps

circumftance.

This feems to be no improbable theory of

Wit and Humour
are

;

which, though akin to

each other, and produced by the fame caufes,

however

diftin6l qualities,

and may

exift

(eparately.

The former
ter the

Is

the moil (hining, the lat-

moft pleafmg and the

mod

ufeful
re-

quality.
partees,
allufions,

Wit
in

difcovers itfelf in fmart

ingenious conceits,

in fanciful

and

in brilliant fentiments.

Huin

mour, on the other hand, manifefts

itfelf

ludicrous reprefentations, in raafterly ftrokes

of manners and chara6ler, in fhrewd obfervatlons,

and

in facetious argumentation

and

narrative.

This quality may be divided in;

to

two kinds

into that

which

is

difplayed

in the reprefentation of chara6lers, and

may

be denominated
into that

humour of
is

charafter? and

which

difplayed in compofition,

E

and

|o

ANESSAY
called

and may be
firfl coniifls
lies,

humour

in writing.

The
fol-

in the art of

marking the

the foibles, or the oddities of the cha-

ra6ler exhibited fo ftrongly,

and expofmg

them

in fuch a ludicrous light, as to excite

pleafantry

and laughter.

Sometimes the
its little

charafter

may

be fo amiable, that

peculiarities, inftead of ieflening

our efleem

or affe6lion, increafe the former,
ciliate

and con-

the latter; provided however, thofe

peculiarities are innocent in themfelves,

and

indicate or imply genuine excellence.
this

Of

kind

is

the chara6ler of Sir
the^

Roger de
of Ad-

Coverlet, drawn with
dison's delicate pencil.

moft exquifite
effort

humour, and by the happiefl

Humour
random
jQdis of

in

writing

conliils either of

ftrokes

of ridicule

and face-

TiousNEss, occafionally thrown out, as fub-

DROLLERY
;

aiid

PLEASANTRY happen
difplayed

to occur

or of a vein of irony and delipurpofely

cate SATIRE,

on a

particular fubjed.

Perhaps Pope's Ra/}e of
the

5

ON GENIUS.
the

5

It

Lock
this

is

the moft refined piece of

humour
boail.

in

kind,

which any age can

There remains indeed another

fpecies

of

Wit and Humour
at leaft pretends to

(for

it

participates of, or

both) of the loweft fort

however,

but deferving

fome

attention

5

that which confilts of puns, quibbles,

and

the petulant

fallies
;

of a rambling and un-

difciplined fancy

and which

is

fometimes
it is

difplayed in converfation. This fpecies of

not only generally oftentatious, but fuperficial.
It flafhes for
It

a

little

while, and then expires.

rufhes

on with

precipitation, and, like a
;

fhaliow (tream, makes a great noife
the rivulet foon dries up,

but

and betrays the
it

pen uric ufnefs of the fource from which
flowed.

The

converfation-wits

refemble

thofe perfons, whofe ideas pafs through their

minds in too quick

fucceffion to be diitin61

but who, neverthelefs, being endued with a
natural volubility of expreffion, acquit themfelves

to

admiration in company

>

while

one

is

at a lofs to find either fenfe or

gram-

mar

in theii* compofitions.

To

become a

E

2

man

52

AN ESSAY
is

man of true Wit and Humour, it
to think-,

necefiary

a piece of

drudgery which the
lively

Gentlemen we are fpeaking of are too
to undergo.

But

to return

:

it

appears that

Wit

and

Humour, though
rent, are

nearly

allied

to true

Genius, being the offspring of the fame pa-

however of a

diftincl nature

j

fince

the former are produced by the efforts of a

RAMBLING and SPORTIVE Fancy,
proceeds from the
plaftic

the latter

copious efFufions of a

Imagination.

Hence

it

will follow,
will not be

that every

man

of

great Wit

great Genius, nor will every man of GREAT Genius be a great Wit. Thefe
a
qualities

do

not

always
a

exift

together.
at leafl
fenfe

Thus Swift was not
a very

Genius,
*,

of
in

exalted kind

in the

which

* Perhaps fome of the Dean's moft zealous admirers

may be

offended with a declaration which excludes

his pretenfions to

any extraordinary dtgree of Genius.

But

ON GENIUS.
which we have confidered
Wit.
it,

53

nor Ossian. a

To

this

perhaps

it

will be replied,

that the

Mufe of
his

the latter had caught the

complexion of

own

temper, which was

a melancholy one, partly derived from his

natural conftitution, and partly occafioned by
the misfortunes of his family
fubjeiSls,
;

and that

his

being of the mournful kind, could

not admit of the fprightly graces of

Wit

and Humour.

But

let it

be obferved, that

But
ed,

let

them

refleil

on what fuch pretenfions are foundno performance of the Doctor's,
a

lean

recolleft
juftly

which can
which,

denominate him

man

of great

Ge-

nius, excepting his Gulliver and his Tale of a
it

Tub; in

muft be

confefll-d,
:

he hath united both In-

vention and

Humour

and therefore

we

allow him to

have

pofiefTed a degree of

Genius, proportionable to the

degree of Invention difcovcred in the above mentioned

In that kind of wit and humour which performances. he attempted, though not the moft delicate, he unqueftionably excelled all mankind. In the fcale of Genius,

however,
his

we muft

affign

him an

inferior ftation

;

fince

Mufe
is

fcarce ever rifes to the region of the Sublime,

which

the proper fphere of a great Genius

;

but,

on

the contrary, delights to wallow in the ofTal and naftinefs of a fty or a kennel.

E

3

the

54

A N

E

S S

AY
ir-

the melancholy turn of his mind, which
refiftibly

determined him to the choice of
fubje6ls,
is

mournful

a fufficient proof that

thefe were not only moft fuited to his

Ge-

nius

5

but that thofe of a folemn, awful,

and
^nd

pathetic nature, if

we

include the wild

pi6]:urefquej as fubfervient to the others,

were the only
lified

fubjecls in

which he was quaornaments of

to excel.

The

lighter

Wit

would have been unfuitable to the

fublimity of his Genius, and the penfive turn

of his mind.

We

do not intend

to infi-

nuate, that Genius and

Wit

in the highefl

degree are in general incompatible.

They
in

were united

in
;

Shakespear almoft

an

equal meafure

and Young hath given a
in his

fpecimen of the former

Night Thoughts,
;

and of the
in

latter in his Univerfal Pajjion

and
in a

him they were both united together
fmce the era of the great Poet
laft

degree of perfeflion that has not been equaled,

men-

tioned.

We
exift

only

mean

to afiert, that the

one may

without the other, which

we

think hath been proved in the cafe of Os-

SIAN

SI

AN

in particular

J

though we

fliall

readily

allow, that the fimplicity of

manners which

prevailed in the times of the

Caledonian

Bard, a fimplicity that was very unfavourable to the difpiay of

Wit

and Humour,

joined to the melancholy turn of his

own

temper, heightened by his afflictions, might

have greatly contributed
lents

to fupprefs the ta-

of which

we

are fpeaking, fuppollng

him
-ihall

to have been pofTelTed of them.

We

only add,

that there

is

one cafe in
claim the deis,

which Wit and

Humour may

nomination of Genius; and that

when
in

they are accompanied with a rich fund of
invention, as in the Rape of the Lock
;

which, though the machinery of the Sylphs
is

not the mere creation of the Poet's fancy,

yet the particular nature

and employment
is

of thofe wonderful aerial beings
ther his

altoge-

own

fii5lion.

In this incomparable

heroicomical poem, Pope has inconteflibly
eftablilhed his character both as a

man

of

Genius and Wit.

It

ought however
allow his
title

to be

remembered, that
'

w^e

to the
firft

E

4

5^
firfb

AN ESS AY
of thefe denominations, not at
all

upon

account of the vein of delicate and refined
fatire

which runs through the whole poem,
and

for
this

Wit
J

Humour

could have produced

but upon account of that ingenious

INVENTION,

and that picturesque deit,

scription, fo remarkable in
qualities

which thofe

of

themielves

could never have

produced.

Upon
nius,

the whole

:

from the view we have

taken of the nature and chara6lers of

Ge-

Wit, and Humour,
from each

it

appears evi-

dent, that as thefe qualities are in their na-

ture different

other,

and are

marked by

certain peculiar
j

and diftinguifh-

ing chara6lers

fo they

have different fpheres

of exercife affigned them, in which alone
they can difplay their proper powers to advantage.

We

may

therefore with

fome ap-

pearance of reafon infer, that the connection of the above-mentioned talents
partial
fary.
is

only

and

cafual, not univerfal

and

necef-

This hath in part been already evinced

and

O N
and
exemplified
it

G E N

I

U

S.

57
inftancesV

by particular

from which

appears, that thofe talents

have been fometimes united,

and

fomef'-"

times disjoined in different perfons.

As we

do not remember
tal
firil

to have feen this accidenat

connexion,

where a neceffary one

view might be expelled, accounted
(hall

for,

we

conclude the prefent Se6lion with
to allign the reafons

endeavouring

of

it.

That Genius, Wit, and Humour, do

in

common

participate

of Imagination,

we

have already acknowledged.
pation indeed forms a

This

partici-

natural, but

not a

NECESSARY conne£lion betwixt
lities.

thofe qua-

The MODES

(if

we may

fo exprefs it)

and DEGREES of
different,

this

Imagination are fo

and the tempers of men, on whicli

the exertion of the above mentioned quali^
ties

greatly depends, are likewife fo various,

that a real union becomes merely

fortui-

tous.
dent,
let

In order to

make

this

flill

more

eviit,

as well as farther to

account for

us recoiled the peculiar office of Genius,

com-

:^

A N

E

S S

AY
and Humour.

compared with that of

Wit

The proper office of the former is to invent incidents or chara6lers, to create new and uncommon fcenery, and to defcribe every objed:
it

contemplates, in the

moft flriking manner, and with the moft
pidurefque circumftances
is
:

that of the latter

to reprefent

men, manners and things,

in fuch a ludicrous light, as to excite plea-

santry, and provoke risibility.

Hence

we

conclude, that a vigorous, extenfive, and
is

PLASTIC Imagination,
lification

the principal qualively

of the one, and a quick and

Fancy the diflinguifhing
the other.
:to

chara6leriflic

of

Thefe

qualities

do not appear
j

be connected in any great degree
confiderable connection
is

for

what

there be-

twixt a celerity in aflembling similar ideas,
together with a lively perception of that si-

milarity, and
conceived with

the

power of inventing a
and incidents,

variety of furprifing scenes

the

utmofl ftrength and
?

compafs of Imagination

It fliould

even

feem that on fome occafions an extraordinary

O N

"G

E

N

I

US,

59

nary vivacity of Fancy, which includes a
certain degree of volatility, occafioning the

mind

to ilart as

it

were from, one
it

objecft

to

another, without allowing
ceive

time to con-

any of them

diftindtly,

might be preand that

judicial to that vivid conception,

extenfive

cornbination of ideas which in-

dicate

and charafterife true Genius.

In

this cafe, the

mind, hurried with precipiit

tancy from- one theme to another, though

may
full

catch a glimpfe, yet rarely obtains a

view of the objefl

it

defires to

contem-

plate.

This feems to be the principal reaideas are vivid

fon

why Genius, whofe
is

and

COMPREHENSIVE,

uot always united with
are

Wit, whofe

conceptions

quick and

LIVELY, but frequently superficial.

After
laid

all,

I

am

fenfible that the pofition

down

above, will to

many
j

perfons apfe-

pear extremely problematical
veral of thofe

and that

who

can perceive the
will

differftill

ence betwixt

Genius and Wit,
thefe

be

of opinion, that

qualities,

however
diflind

6o
diftinct

ANESSAY
from each
other, are neverthelefs
iii-

difTolubly conne6\ed.

After having refiefted

a good deal
I

upon

the fubjecl, the fentiments

have

now
;

deUvered are the. refult of that
I

refle6lion

which fentiments

have endea-

voured to confirm by examples,

more of
appeared

which

I

could have added, had

it

to be neceflary. that

The

truth

is,

the obferving
ail

Genius and

Wit
firft

have to

appear-

ance been feparately polTeiTed by different
perfons,
led

me

to fufpe^l that their

union was cafuaL
principle, I

Proceeding

upon

this

have attempted to afTign the rea-

fons of

it,

which

I

have deduced from the

different natures of thofe qualities themfelves.

Perhaps indeed the examples

may

appear
I

more convincing than

the arguments.

can

conceive indeed but one other obje6lion to
the former, befides what has been already fuggefled,

which

is,

that

men

of Genius, con-

fcious of pofTefiing fuperior talents, are not

very ambitious of acquiring the reputation

which

arifes

from Wit. But

I

cannot think

that this anfwer intirely folves the difficulty,

fup-

O N
qualities
really

G E N
neceffary;

I

U

S.

6i

fuppofing the union of the above-mentioned
for the reputa-

tion acquired

by the difplay of Wit, how-

ever inferior this talent

may

in fa6l be,
is

is

often fuperior to that which
the difplay of Genius
in general, that
fefled
;

acquired by

and we may conclude

moft of thofe

who

are pof-

of

it,

will be defirous

of being diilin-

gui{l:ied
ly,

upon
it

that account;

and confequentitfelf,

where

does not difplay

that

it

does not probably in any great degree
It
is

exifl.

neceffary to remark, in order to pre-

vent any miftake of
I

my meaning,
I

that while

endeavoured to prove that Genius and Wit

are not neceffarily connected,

had

chiefly
is

in

my

eye that fpecies of

Wk which

the

fudden effufton of a
is

lively fancy,

and which

poured forth in converfation with a fur-

prifmg readinefs and exuberance.

That

real

Genius frequently
it,

exifts

without this kind of

i

am
I

fully

convinced by

many
eafily

examples,
recolleft

which, as the Reader

may

them,
of

fhall

not here enumerate. That kind
is

Wit and Humour however, which

dif-

covered

62

AN ESSAY
the efFed of thought,
juft
is

covered in compofition, and which being

more
more
liant.

commonly
lefs bril-

and

folid,

though often
fo eafily

Genius will not

refign

its

claim to.

Indeed, to declare

my own

opi-

nion upon a doubtful point, where examples
contradi6l each other,
it

appears to
is,

me moft

probable, that true Genius
fay,

we do not
connefled

univerfally
it;

and
it

neceffarily,

with

but that

rarely exifts without this
its

kind of

Wit

;

though

exertion may, by

various caufes, in a great meafure be fupprefTed.

When

thefe qualities are united
affift

together, they mutually

and improve

each other; Genius derives vivacity from

Wit, and Wit derives justness and extent of COMPREHENSION from Genius.

SECTION

ON GENIUS,

63

SECTION
O
F

IV,

T H E

MUTUAL INFLUENCE
O
F

IMAGINATION
A N D O F

ON

TASTE,

TASTE

ON

IMAGINATION-,

CONSIDERED AS

INGREDIENTS

in the

COAIPOSITION

OF

G

E

NX

U

S.

WE
rial

have already confidered Imagias

nation and Taste

two mate-

ingredients in the compofition of

Ge-

nius.
the

The former we have proved
eflential ingredient,

to be

mod

without which

Genius

64

AN ESS AY
exift
j

Genius cannot

and that the
its

latter is

indirpenfibly necefTary to render
tions

produc-

ELEGANT and CORRECT.
are

We

now

to

(hew the influence of
other,

thefe qualities

on each

and how they

contribute by their mutual influence to the

improvement and confummation of Genius.
Before
will

we

proceed to this difquifition,

it

be proper to recur to the definition of
in a preceding fedlion, which,

Taste, given

for the fake of preciiion,
peat.

we

{hall

here re-

by

its

"Taste is that internal fenfe, which, own exquifitely nice perception, withand determines
the various
its

cyiit;,

the afliftance of the reafoning faculty,

(liftinguiflies

qualities of the objeiSbs fubmitted to

cogar-

nifance,

pronouncing them, by

its

own

bitrary verdict, to be
tiful

grand or mean, beau-

or ugly, decent or ridiculous,"

The
exift,
:

limple principles of Tafle are found in every

man, but the degrees

in

which they

are as various as can well be imagined

in

feme perfons.^thej.are.we^^^^

in
others.

O N G

EN

I

U

S.

65

others, they are vigorous

and

refined.

The

external organs of fenfe, which are the ori-

ginal

and fundamental

principles of Tafte,
in every

are indeed nearly the
polTefles in the

fame

one

who
ef-

moft ordinary degree the

fential

and conftituent parts of the human
j

frame

but the ideas which are excited in

the minds of fome perfons by the influence

of outward objefls on the

fenfes,

or by the

power of

refle6lion, are very different

from

thofe excited in the minds of others.

Thus

two

perfons,

the one endued with a jull
tafte,

and elegant

the other almoft defti-

tute of this quahty, contemplating a
nificent

mag-

and well-proportioned building, that
^i

of St Peter

for inftance, at Romey will be

aiFe£led in the

moft

different

manner and
looking ainfipid

degree imaginable.

The
on

latter,

round him with ignorant and
riofity,

cu-

cafts his eye

the altar and de-

corations

of the church,

which

captivate

his attention,

and

pleafe his

rude fancy,
fplendor;

merely

by

their

novelty

and

while he ftares at the magnificence of the

F

edifice

66
edifice

A N
with a
furveying

E

S S

AY
The

foolllli face
all

of wonder.

former,
is

the fabric together,

ftruck with admiration of the exa6l fym-

metry, and majeftic grandeur of the whole.

Or

if

we

fliould fuppofe

both to be pre-

iented, at the

fame time, with the profped

of a rich, beautiful, and diverfified landfcape,

confifting of

woods and

vallies,

of
ri^

rocks and mountains,
vers,

of cafcades and

of groves and gardens, blended toge;

ther in fweet rural confufion

this

inchant-

ing fcene would be contemplated by the

one with
little

indifference, or at leall

with very

emotion of pleafure,
chiefly

his thoughts be-

ing

employed
fertile

in

computing
j

the

produce of fo

a fpot

while the

view of fuch a group of delightful objeds would throw the other into rapture.
It
is

natural to

afk,

whence

arifes
?

this

amazing

difference in their fenfations

The

outward organ, by which thefe
are

fenfations

conveyed,
in both

is
;

fuppofed to be equally but the internal feeling

perfe(5t
is

extremely

different.
'-

This

difference

muft

ON GENIUS.
mufl: certainly proceed

67

from the transformillu-

ing power of Imagination, whofe rays

minate the objefts we contemplate
•which, without the luftre fhed
this

;

and

on them by

faculty,

would appear unornamented

ai>d undiilinguiflied.

The REFINEMENT and
is

sensibility of
it

Talte likewife, as well as the pleafures
calculated to afford, are all derived

from

the influence of Imagination over this internal fenfe.
iFartCy

iBy

the

magical power of
to
it,

communicated

it

is

qualified

to difcern the beauties of nature,

and the
feel

ingenious produftions of

art,

and to

an exquifitely pleafing fenfation from the
furvey of them.

Imagination dwells upon
delight, arrays
it

an agreeable obje6l with

in the moll beautiful colours,

and
j

attri-

butes to

it

a thoufand charms
it

every re-

peated view of

increafes thefe

charms

5

and the Imagination, enraptured with the
contemplation of them, becomes enamoured

of

its

ov^n creation.

Tafte, catching the

F

2

con-

68

AN
it

E SiiS^AY
contemplates the

contagion from Fancy,

favourite obje6l with equal tranfport,

by
its

which means
fenfibility
:

acquires

and improves
fufceptible

it

becomes more

of
its

pleafure,

and more
Such
is

cxquifitely acute in

fenfations.

the influence of Imagi>-

nation on Tafte, and fuch are the advantages

which the

latter
'^,r'^^

.derives

from the
.^>

former.

As
tion,

true Tafte
to

is
it

founded on Imaginaall
its

which
;

owes
a

refinement

and
-Tafte
caufe.

elegance
is

fo

falfe

and depraved
the
.

often

derived
if

from

fame

Fancy,

not regulated

by the
apt to

dictates of impartial

Judgment,
to

is

miflead the mind,
colours
fic

and

throw glaring

on

obje6i:s

that poftefs
this

no
it

intrin-

excellence.

By

means

happens,

that though the principles of a juft Tafte
are implanted in the

mind of every man
an indulgence of

of Genius,

yet,

by a negle6l of proper

cultivation, or too great

the extravagant ramblings of Fancy, thofe
;

principled

ON GENIUS.
principles are vitiated,

69

and Tafte becomes

fometimes incorrect, and fometimes in*

3DELICATE
fuch a

-(-.

The

only method

left

in

cafe, is to

compare the

fenfations of

Tafte with the obJe6ls that produced them,

and

to correct the errors of this fenfe

by an

appeal to the dictates of Reafon,
points where
its

in the
;

authority

is

legitimate

by

which means Tafte may

attain

justness
exercife

and ACCURACY,
it

as

by the former

may

acquire sensibility and refinein

ment,
ples are

thofe

minds where

its

princi-

implanted in any confiderable deh<''':

cree.

^'^'^^^

"^'sif
,.

vj
ir

';?• •-'^'
it

Let

not be imputed to faftidious,
if,

much
vi^ork

lefs'

to

malevolent criticifm,
remarks,
vire

in order to

exemplify the above

prefume to obferve, that in a
iri

of real

Genius, and
predominates,

which the moft fublime

fpirit

of Poetry

we mean
meet with

the Night Thoughts of

Dr

Young, we
fure,

feveral inftances

of

falfe tafte,

m his antithefes
cpgnts.

and conceits, which, in a great mea-

debafe the grandeur of fome very noble fenti-

Having

^a.

A N

E

S S

AY
let

Having thus pointed out the influence
of Imagination on Tafte,
fider
.t3ie

us

now

con^

influence of Talle

dn Imagina-

tion.

As Taste

derives all its

s^nsibilitV and

REFINEMENT from the prevalence of Imagination, fo Imagination owes, in a great meafare, its justness and accuracy to the correct precision of a well regulated

Taste.

The

excurlions of Fancy,
air-

undire6Ved by Judgment or Tafte, are

ways extravagant
by the

;

and

if

we

fhould fuppofe

a compofition to be conceived and executed
firft

mentioned

faculty

alone,

it

would be an

unintelligible rhapfody, a

mere

mafs of confufion, compounded of a

num-

ber of heterogeneous and difcordant parts.

Though
yet, in

Imagination has by far the
iii

greatell:

fhare of merit

the productions of Genius,
it

one view,

may

be confidered as
as exerting
its

a6ling a fubordinate part,

energy under the prudent reftri6lions of

Judgment, and the chaftening animadverfions

O N
fions of Tafte.

G

EN
as

I

U\S.
office

7f;

In fad, the proper

of

Fancy

is

only to colle6t the materials of
;

compofition

but,

a heap- of

Hones,

thrown together without
never

art or defign,

can

make
j

a regular

and well proportioned
of Fancy, without

building

fo the effufions

the fuperintending

and dir€6ling powers

above-mentioned, can never produce a masterly

compofition in Science or in Art. Judgtherefore

ment

mufl arrange in

their pro-

per order the materials which Imagination

has colle6led

,

and

it

is

the office of Tafte

to beftow thofe diftinguifhing graces,

which
to the

may

give

dignity and elegance
to the whole.

feveral parts, as well as

excellence and
Such
its
is

ACCURACY

the pro-

vince of Tafte, and fuch

influence on

works of Imagination.

From the furvey we have taken of MUTUAL influence of thefc different
,

the
fa-

culties,

it

appears, that they are equally inj

•debted to each other

and that

if,

on the
and

one hand, Imagination beftows sensibility

F 4

7?

AN

EiSjS

AY.
other,

and REFINEMENT OH Taftc, fo on the

Tafle imparts justness and precision to
Imagination; while Genius, is confummated

by the proper union of both
combined

thefe faculties

with that of Judgment, and derives from
their
efficacy all its energy, accu-

racy,

and elegance.

S

E C T

I

O k

OW

OE^Nllf

S.

73

SECTION -^
O F T H E

D

I

F F E

R E N T
O
F

D

EG

R E E

S

GENIUS,
AND
ITS
of

VARIOUS MODES

EXERTION.

G

ENIUS

is

a word of extenfive and

various fignification.

The

fpheres of
exertion,

its exercife,

and the degrees of

its

are very different.

Some

perfons poflefs fuch force and

com-

pafs of Imagination, as to be able

by the

power of

this faculty to conceive

and pre-

fent to their

own

minds,

in one diftinfl
diftant re-

view,

all

the

numerous and moft

lations of the obje6ts

on which they employ
its

it

5

by which means they are qualified
great improvements

to

make

and

difcoveries in
this

the arts and fciences.
cafe has recourfe to

The' mind' in
relies

and
its

on

its

own
it

fund.

Confcious of

native energy,

de-

lights to

expand

its

faculties

by the

nioft vi-

gorous exertion,

Ranging through

the unart,
it

bounded regions of nature and of
a o-limpfe of fome obje6ls which

explores unbeaten tracks of thought, catches
lie

far be-

yond the fphere of ordinary obfervation, and obtains a full and diftincl view of
others.

We
lefs

may

fartlier

obferve,

that Genius

Hiay, in a very confiderable

though much

proportion, be difplayed in the illuftra-

tion of thofe truths, or the imitation of thofe

models, which it'was incapable originally to
difcover or invent.

To

comprehend and ex-

plain the one, or to exprefs a juft refemblarice

of the other, fuppofes and requires
in the Au-

no contemptible degree of Genius
thor or Artifl

who

fucceeds in the attempt.

Thus

O^,: Q

EN

I U..S.

.

75

Thus we allow Maclaurin, who has explained the Principles of Newton's Philofopfer^li-

and JStrange, who has copied the
of,

CaFtoons
of theni

Raphael,

to have been both

men

of Genius in their reipe6tive

profeffions,

though not men of original Gef:

niusj for the former did not pofTefs that

COMPASS of jmagination, and

that

depth

of DISCERNMENT, whicli Were neceflary to
difcover the doflrines of the Newtoniaji Syf-

tem

5

nor the

latter that

fertility and

FORCE of Imagination,
to invent the defign,

that were requifite
dignity,

and exprefs the

grace and energy, difplayed in the originals

of the Italian Painter.

A certain degree of Genius
nlfeiled

is

likewife

maan

in the

more

exquiiite produ6tions

of the mechanical
excellent

arts.

To
is

conftitute

Watchmaker, or even Carpenter,
this quality
requifite.

fome fbare of

In

moft of the Arts indeed, of which we are
fpeaking, Induftry,
it

muft be granted,

will

in a great meafiire fupply the place of

Ge-

76
hlus
;

AN ESSAY
and dexterity of performance may be
applicatioiii:^

acquired by habit and fedulous
yet in others of a
will

more

elegant kind, thefe
its ufe"

by no means altogether fuperfede
exercife
;

and

fince

it

can alone beftow thofe

finifhing touches that bring credit

and repd^

tation to the
artift,

workman.
and

Every ingenious

who would
nicety

execute his piece with'
neatnefs,

uncommon
work from
fore the

muft

really

his imagination.

The model of
There;-

the piece muft exift in his

own mind.

more

vivid

and

perfect his ideas

are of this, the

more

exquifite

and complete

will be the copy.

In fome of the mechanical, and in
liberal Arts,
tifts
it is

all

the

not only necefTary that ar-

(hould poffefs a certain fhare of Imagi-

nation, in order to attain excellence in their
different profeffions
s

but that (hare of which

they are poffefled,

muft principally turn
It is

upon one

particular objeft.

this

bia^

of the mind to one individual art rather

than

another,

which both

indicates

and
con-

oM' GEN
conftitutes

I

US.
call

77
a Gis-

what we commonly
it.

Nius for

This bias appears in fome

perfons very early, and very remarkably;

and when

it

does

fo,

it

ought doubtlefs to
of

be regarded
ture,

as the fovereign decree

Na-

marking out the
.;

ftation

and deftiny of

her children

It

cannot be denied, that a great degree
is

of Genius
mechanical
firft

difcovered in the invention of

arts, efpecially if

they are by the

efforts
j

advanced to any confiderable
for invention of every kind
is

perfedion

a

fignal proof of Genius,

'the

firfl

inventer

of a Watch, an Orrery, or even a
Mill,
its

common
in

however iimple

it

may now appear
v^^as

machinery and ftrufture,

unquef-

tionably a

man
is

of an extraordinary mecha-

nical Genius.

The improvement

of thefe

inventions
•Qenius for
is

likewife a certain criterion of a
;

them

the degree of which talent

always juftly rated in proportion to the
it,

improvemjents made by

confiderccl in

con-

nexion with the

art in

which they are made.

We

78

A N £

S S

AY^^^

We fliall
ral Arts,

not here inquire into the com-

parative utility and importance of the feve-

whether Hberal or mechanical, in

order to determine the particular degree of

Genius
them.

requifite to

an excellence

in each of

Let

it

fuffice to obferve in general,

that as in the former Imagination hath a

wider range,

fo a greater degree of

Genius

may

be difplayed in thefe than in the other.
infer their fuperior dignity, thb'
utility.
is

Hence we

perhaps not their fuperior
latter indeed,

In the

Imagination
it

very intenfely
its

exercifed; but

is-more confined in

ope-

ration

:

inflead of rambling
it

from one theme
lingle objeft,
till

to another,
it

dwells

on a
it

has contemplated-

fully
it

and

at ieifure
lefs

j

whereas

in the others,

forms a

parti-

cular, but

more comprehenfive view of
its

the

objefts fubmitted to

cognifance

:

it

takes

them

in at one glance,

though

it

does not

mark

their features fo minutely.

A
is

larger

compafs of Imagination therefore
fite

requi-

to conditute excellence in the one,

and

a greater compreflion of this faculty (if

we may

:

O.N.
may

G E;N

I

U

S.

f^

ufe the term) to

produce eminence

m
iii
I'

the other.

^

Genius

like wife,

when

left

to follow

m
Its

own

fpontaneous impulfe, appears in a great

variety of forms as well as of degrees.

modes of exertion
times
it

are very different.

Some-

leads to philofophical fpeculations,

and animates the ardor of the Philofopher
in his experiments and refearches, in his invefligation .of caufes

and

effeds,

^f the order

©£ Providence, and the conftitution of the

human mind ^ and
objefts to
it

while

it

points out the

which he

fliould dire6l his ftudies,

adapts the mental powers to the purfuit,

and quahfies them for the attainment of
thofe obje6ts
;

by communicating that force

of imagination, and that depth of difcern-

ment which

are

neceflary to his fuccefs

at other times,

indulging

its

own

native

bent,

it

ftrikes out a pat!v for itfelf

through

the wild romantic regions of Poetry and

Fable

j

and from the
it

infinite variety

of obfi(fi:iGn,

je6ls prefented to

in thofe fields of

feleds

So
fele6ts

A/N
*

E

S S

AY
its

fuch as are moft adapted to

nature
fol-

and powers.
lowing
its

Sometimes Genius,

ftill

own

peculiar bias, fketches out,

with a happy

fertility

of invention, the de-

ligns of the Painter,

and imparts

dignity,

elegance

and expreflion

to the feveral figures
it

of his piece.

Sometimes

appears to great

advantage in the graceful elocution, the impetuous ardor, and the impaflioned
fenti-

ments of the Orator.
its

Sometimes

it

difplays

power in the combination of mufical
Sometimes
it

founds.
uniting,
tion

difcovers
lively

itfelf

in

by the power of a

imagina-

and

exquifite tafte, the various

forms

of elegance and magnificence in one con^

fummate model of
ly, taking

Archite6lure.
it

Or,

laft-

an humbler aim,

fometimes un-

folds

itfelf,

not indeed with fo

much power
and

and

extent,

but

ftill

with very confidera-

ble energy, in the ingenious inventions

exquifite

improvements of the mechanical
diverfified are the

Arts.
nius,
tion.

So

forms of Ge-

and

fo

various

its

modes of exer-

/
There

CfU G E N
are

I

U

S.

8r
there
dif-^

There are many indeed, in

whom

no

ftriking fignatures of this quality

cernible in
lefs poiTefs

any of

its

forms,

who

neverthe-

a confiderable fliare of that faculty
it
is

by which

chiefly conftituted.

Thefe

perfons, pofTeffing the fundamental qualifi-

cation of Genius,
plication, in

may, by the force of ap«

fome meafure fupply the want

of that appropriated Imagination,

which
;

confers a talent for one particular art

-but

can never reach that degree of excellence in
their refpedlive profeffions,

which a natural

impulfe of Genius to
je6l,

its

correfponding ob-

direded with prudence, and aided by
is

proper culture,

calculated to attain.

In

others, however, the particular indications

and EVOLUTIONS of Genius

(to ufe a mili-

tary phrafe) are very remarkable.

By
(if

at-

tending carefully to thefe

symptoms

we

may

alfo

adopt a phyfical term) by marking
their progrefs.

and encouraging
Sciences

Arts and

may

be carried to the higheft de-

gree of perfe6lion, to which
is

human Genius

capable of advancing them.

G

AN

ESSAY
O N

A N

GENIUS.
BOOK
O
F
II.

GENIUS,
ITS

ORIGINAL

INDICATIONS, Exertion, AND EFFECTS,

ON

GENIUS.
L

85

SECTION
O
F

THAT DEGREE OF

GENIUS,
WHICH
IS

PROPERLY DENOMINATED

original; WE
have
in the

preceding part of this

Eflay treated of Genius in general,
its

and have pointed out
and
efFefls, as

obje6ls, ingredients
its

well as fuggefted

various

modes of

exertion.

We

fhall

now

proceed

a ftep higher, and confider that degree of

Genius, which, upon account of
rior excellence, deferves the

its

fupe-

name of Origihitherto

nal.

The

obfervations

we have

made on Genius

indifcriminately,

were only

Intended as an Introduction to the remarks

G

-?

we

we

propofe to

make

in this
;

book on the
to explain the

fubje6l of original Genius

nature, properties,

and

€fFe6i:s

of which,

is

the principal defign of this Eflay.

It

may

be proper to obferve, that by the
applied to Genius,

word Original, when

we mean

that

which the
fomething
fubje6l

native and radical powef mind poflefles, of difeovering
and
it

NEW

uncommon
employs
its

in every
faculties.

on which

This power appears in various forms, and
operates with various energy, according to
its

peculiar modification,
it is

and the particular

degree in which

bedowed.
feen,

Thus

it

as-

sumes, as

we have

a different form,

and appears likewife
.

in a different degree

in the
i^
is

mind of the Philofopher, from what
It

doth in that of the Poet or Painter,

not cur ptefent bufinefs to inquire what
proportions and modifications of

^r^ .the

fancy necefiary to confcitute a Genius

fm

particular arts or fciences, as diftinguifhed

from each

other, fince this

would be an anticipation

ON GEN
ticipation of

1

U

S.

M-^

what

is

intended to be the fub*

jed of fome following Se6lions.
confider
talent,

original Genius as

we a general
In this
happily
it
it is

which may be exerted in any proorder to obferve

feflion, in

how

calculated

to attain the objeds

has in

view.

We Ihall

only farther previoufly re-

mark, that the word Original, confidered
«a.

eonnefSlion with Genius,

indicates the

degree, not the kind of
ment, and that
it

this

accompUfhits

always denotes

higheft

DEGREE.
Philofophers have diftinguifhed
neral fources^of our ideas,

two ge-

from which we
however

draw

all

our knowledge, sensation and

Reflection.

Very different

ideas

are excited in the
excited in the
firft

minds of fome, from thbfe
others, even
faid to

minds of

by the
be the

of

thefe,

which may be

original fountain of our

knowledge, though
it

the ideas produced by

are conveyed by

organs

common

to

human

nature ; and

ftill

more

different ideas are excited in the

minds
of

G

4

-

88
ef

A N

ESSAY
by the other faculty,

different perfons

that of REFLECTION.

Some

perfons indeed

have few ideas except fuch as are derived

from fenfation
revolve,

5

they feldom ruminate upon,

and compare the impreflions made

upon

their minds, unlefs at the time they

are made, or while they are recent in their

remembrance: hence they become incapable of tracing gies

thofe relations

and analo-

which

exift in nature,

but which can

only be traced by

men

of a comprehenfive

Imagination
Others,

and

penetrating
thefe

Judgment,
ard''

endued with

qualities,

rendered thereby capable of aflbciating and
disjoining, of
;

comparing and transforming
manner, as to per-

their ideas in fuch a

ceive almoft all their poffible relations;

by

which means they are
ver the latent
truths

qualified to difcb-

of

fcience,

and

to

produce the nobleft monuments of
ingenuity
in

human

the

feveral

arts.

In other

words, they by thefe means become original

Geniufes
to

in

that

particular ^^'art^-6i^
••
.

fcience,

which they have received the
moftr

ON
Nature.

G E N

I

U

S.

89^

moft remarkable bias from the hand of

Original Genius

is

diftinguiflied frotn

every other degree of this quality, by a more
vivid
tion,

and a more comprehenfive Imagina^ which enables
it

both to take in a

greater

number of

obje6ls,
5

and to conceive
fame time that

them more
it

diftin6lly
its

at the

can exprefs

ideas in the ftrongeil co-

lours,

and

reprefent
It is

them in the moft

ftrik-

ing light.

like wife

diftinguiflied

by

the fuperior quicknefs, as well as juftnefs

and

extent, of the aflbciating faculty;
it

fo
at'

that with furprifmg readinefs

combines

once every homogeneous and correfpondin^
idea, in fuch a

manner

as to prefent a
it

com-

plete portrait of the objedl
fcribe.

attempts to de-

But, above

all, it is

diftinguifhed by

an inventive and

plaftic Imagination,
its

by

which

it

fketches out a creation of

own,

difclofes truths that

were formerly unknown,

and

exhibits a fueceflion of fcenes

and events

which were never before contemplated or
con-

90
conceived.

AN ESSAY
In a word,
it
is

the pecuHiar
flrike
it

chara(5ler of original

Genius to

out a

path for
|to

itfelf
J

whatever fphere

attempts

occupy

to ftart

new

fentiments,

and
it

throw out new
treats.

lights

on every

fubjecl

It delights in

every fpecies of fi6lion,
itfelf in

and fometimes difcovers

the

more
It

fevere inveftigations of caufes
is

and

effecSls.

diftinguiihed by the moft

uncommon,

as

well as the
ideas
;

mod

furpriling combinations

of

by the novelty, and not unfrequently
its

by the fublimity and boldnefs of
JH CAmpofition.

imagery

%?-'*l|ius

much with regard

t6 the nature

and

chara^eriftics of original Genius in general.

What we
lar

are next to confider,

is its

particu-

and fmgular

efficacy in inriching Science

with new difcoveries, and the Arts withaew
feventionsjin^ improverpents,
^'

S

E C

T I ON

Op^

G

EN

I US.

91

SECTION
OF

IL

ORIGINAL PHILOSOPHIC

G

E
E

N

I

U
is

S.

TH
its

empire of Genius

unbounded.

All the Sciences and Arts prefent a
its

fphere for

exercife,

and afford fcope
it

for

exertion.

But though
all, it

may

be exerted

indifcriminately in

will not be exerted

equally in each.

It will
lefs

fometimes appear

more, fometimes

remarkably.

Our prein
difplay

fent inquiry leads us to confider

how and
will

what degree
itfelf

original

Genius

in

philofophical Science.
it

In order

to perceive this,
to

may

not be improper
of the
in

confider' the

peculiar province

Fhilofopher,
view.

and the obje^ls he has
is

His province

tp furvey with at-

tention

9z

AN ESSAY
phenomena of the naand moral world, and, with perfpica-,

tention the various
tural

city of difcernment, to explore their caufes

proceeding in his inquiry from the knowledge of efFe6ls to the inveftigation of the
caufes

by which they were produced.

The

obje6ls he has, or
are, to

ought to have in view,

bring into open hght thofe truths

that are

wrapped

in the fhades of obfcurity,

or involved in the mazes of error, and to apply

them

to the purpofe of

promoting the

happinefs of

mankind

*.

From

* Cicero
with
life

reprefents

it

as the peculiar excellence
it

of

the Socratic Philofcphy, that

had a
it

ftrift

conne<9;ioh

and manners

;

and that

was employed on

cbjeils of the utmoft importance to

human

felicity,

on

good and

evil,

on virtue and vice

:

Socrates primus Philofophiam devocavit e coelo,

&

in

urbibus collocavit,
goegit de vita
rerei

&

in

demos etiam
n. lO.

introduxit,

&

& moribus,
lib. v.

rebusque boni^&malis quae-

Tufc.

^aji.

He
.

obferves, in another part of his

Works,

that

Socrates had
-.

difintangled Philofophy from abft.rufe
fpe-

:

O N
From
vince of
the

G E N

I

U

S.

93

this idea

of the objefls and prothe intelligent

Philofopher,
little

Reader

will,

upon a

refieflion, clearly

perceive that vigorous and extenfive powers

of Imagination are indifpenfibly neceflary to
enable

him

to proceed fuccefsfully in the re-

fearches of Science.

In order however to
evident, let
it

make

this

ftill

more
it is

be ob-

ferved, that as

the proper office of this

faculty to aflemble thofe ideas,
tions to the fabjeft
it

whofe

rela-

contemplates, and to

each other, can alone be determined by the
faculty of

Judgment

;

fo there are

feme of

thefe fo obvious, that they occur to

common
com-

fpeculations, and applied

it

to

the purpofes of

mon

life

Socrates mihi videtur, id quod conftat inter omnes,

primus a rebus occultis,
quibus omnes ante
avocavifle

& & &
;

ab ipfa natura involutis,

in'

cum

philofophi occupati fuerunt,

philofophiam,

ad vitam
vitiis

communem

ad-

duxiffe; ut dq virtutibus

omninoque de bonis
autem, vel procul
fi

rebus

&

malis quaereret

cceleftia

cfTe a noftra cognitione cenferet, vel

maxime cognita
Acad.

efient, niliil
iSl^aJi,
lib.

tamen ad bene vivendum conferre.
i.

n. 15.

reflec-

refie<5lion,

and

arife

from the general laws

of affociation, while others are fo far te^

moved

be}^ond the fphere of the

common

ta*

lents allotted to

mankind, that they can neiwithout

ther be affembled nor compared,

fuch an extraordinary proportion of the

powers of Imagination and Reafon, as
rarely united in

is

one perfon*

The power

of affembling and comparing fuch ideas^
ih brder to determine their relations and
refemblances,
teriftic
is

the dillinguifliing charac*

of an Original Philofophic GeniusP

We
the

have formerly obferved, that the fa-

culty of the mind,

which we diflinguifh by
itlelf

name

of Imagination, diliovers

in

a furprifmg variety of forms.

To
new

create
inci-

uncommon
theories

fcenery,

to

invent

dents and chara6lers in Poetry,
in

and neVv

Philofophy
to divide
is

;

to

aflbciate

and

compound,

and transform the ideas

of the mind,

the
is

work of one and the
not in
all

fame power; but

thefe cafes

executed with equal eafej ^ *-^

of with equal
fuccefs.

ON GENIUS.
fuccefs.

95

To
we

invent and create,

mud

un-

doubtedly require the higheft exertion of the
faculty
je6ts

are fpeaking of; becaufe the obthe

on which

mind employs
remote from

itfelf

in

this exercife, are very

common

obfervation,

and cannot be brought into
effort

view without a ftrenuous
tion.
is

of imagina-

Hence

it

happens, that as mvention

the province of original Genius, both in

Philofophy and in Poetry,

a very great,

though not a

precifely equal or fimilar fhare
is

of Imagination,
It will

neceffary in each of them.

be no incurious employment to ob-

lerve the various exertions of the

fame

fait

culty in thefe different departments,
will

as

open to us an agreeable profpe6l of the
and vigour of

furprifing verfatility, extent,

the

human mind

;

and

will alfo enable us

to form a comparative idea of the degree of

Imagination neceffary to confummate original Philofophic Genius.

The

inventive faculty difplays

itfelf

in
It

^-hilofophy with great force

and

extent.

enables

96

AN

E

S S

AY

)

enables the Philofopher, by
rous,

its a6i:ive,

vigo-

and exploring power,

to conje6lure

Ihrewdly, if not to comprehend fully, the
various fprings

which actuate the
;

vifible

fyftem of Nature and Providence

to

frame

the moil ingenious theories for the folution

of natural Phenomena

-,

to invent Syftems,

and

to

new- model the natural and moral
to his

World
creative

own mind.

It is intenfely
it

ex-

ercifed in all this procefs, as

exerts both a

and combining power; which, by

inventing

new

hypothefes,

by conneding

every intermediate and correfponding idea,

and by uniting the

feveral detached parts
its

of one theorem, rears a fabric of
vv'hofe

own,
it is

fymmetry, juflnefs and

folidity,

the bufniefs of the reafoning faculty to determine.

The kind
that

of Imagination mofl properly
is

adapted to Original Philofophic Genius,

which

is

diftinguiflied

by regularity,

CLEARNESS, and ACCURACY.
culiar to Original

The kind

pe-

Genius

in Poetry, is that

whofe

ON GENIUS.
whofe
elTential properties are

97

a noble irre-

gularity, VEHEMENCE, and ENTHUSIASM.
Or, to
fet

the difference betwixt philofophic
in

and poetic Imagination
the ufe of an image,
in the

another light by
obferve, that

we may

mind of

the Philofopher the

rays of

fancy are more collected, and more con-

centrated in one
are

point
to

-,

and confequently
dis-

more favourable
:

accurate and

tinct VISION

that in the

mind of the
;

Poet they are more diffused
fore their luftre
is

and there-

lefs

piercing, though
perceives

more universal.

The former

the objects he contemplates more

clearly;
number of
re-

the latter comprehends a greater

them

at

one glance.

Such are the

fpe6live charafters of Imagination in Philo-

fophy and in Poetry, as diftinguifhed from
each other.

As we have already obferved, that an
exaft equilibrium of the reafoning and inventive powers of the

mind feems

to be, in

a great meafure,

incompatible with their

H

very

93

A N

E

S S

AY
;

very oppofite natures, and perhaps was never

beftowed on any individual
tlon
is,

the only quef-

in

what proportion thofe powers

fliould be diftributed, in order to the

m^

C^ire confummation of
Genius.

original philofophic

If the pofition

we have

laid

down, and
fec-

endeavoured to fupport in a preceding
tion, lliall

be found to be

juft.

That Imagiob-

nation

is

the diftinguifliing ingredient in
it

every kind and degree of Genius,
vioully follow, that this quality

will

muft predo-

minate in the accomplifhment of original
Philofophic, as well as Poetic Genius.
deed, with regard to
latter,
its

In-

predominance in the
difpute.

there will be

no

Imagina-

tion has by far the greateft fliare of merit

in poetical produflions.

It at

once defigns

and executes them,

calling in only the affift-

ance of Judgment and Tafle, in order to de-

termine whether

it

has bellowed on the

fe-

veral figures their true proportions,
desrrees

and

juft

of li^ht and

iliade.
.

Were

we> to invert

ON GENIUS.
vert the cafe,
du^^lions,
it
-,

99

and to fuppofe Judgment the

diilinguiihing faculty of the Poet, his prois

true,
it

might be more regular
is

and correct

but

evident, they

would

be defective in their mofl
cies,

elTential excellen-

in'FicTioN and in fire.

With
Genius,
that

regard to original Philosophic
it

feems to be generally imagined,
is

Judgment

its

principal ingredient.

As

this

opinion itrikes at the foundation of
it

our theory,
it

will be neceiTary to

examine

with fome attention.

Let

it

be obferved therefore, that as Inis

vention

the peculiar and diftingu idling

province of every fpecies of Genius, Imagination claims an undivided empire over this
province.
It
is

this faculty alone,

which,

widiout the aid or participation of Judg-

ment, fupplies
imagery,

all

the incidents, chara6lers,

fentiments,

and defcriptions of

Poetry, and moft of the theories, at leafl,
in Philofophy
-,

as well as the

arguments (a
cir-

H

2

'

loo

A N

E

S S

AY
attended to)

circumftance not
for

commonly

fupporting thofe

theories.

Judgment

only claims the right of determining their
propriety and truth.
Since therefore,
to

fupply thefe, conftitutes the highefl effort of

Genius

j

that faculty

which

fupplies them,
its

mull

certainly predominate in
5

full ac-

compliiliment
Imagination.

and

this,

we have

feen, is

There

are at the

fame time

inferior degrees

of Philofophic Genius, in
principal afcendthis diftribu-

which Judgment has the
ant.

Thofe perfons in vv^hom

tion takes place, are in general qualified for

making improvements
exa61:

in

Philofophy,

in

proportion to the degree in which they

poiTefs the talent

of Imagination

5

and

will,

upon account of

the fuperior Itrength of

their reafoning talents, be
lified for

found better qua-

canvaffing the difcoveries of others,

pofTeiTed

of more extenfive powers of Imagilefs

nation,

though perhaps of a

penetrating
difcoveries

Judgment, than for making thofe
themfelves.
It
is

true indeed, that befides
truths,

thofe philofophical

which,

to the

mor-

ON GENIUS.
mortification of the pride of

loi

human underhit

Handing,

accident hath brought to hght,

and thofe others which have been

upon

by

certain

happy random thoughts of per-

fons of very moderate abilities, difcoveries in

Science have fometimes been

made by

thofe,

who, enjoying a very fmall
nation, were

fliare

of imagiclear

however endued with a
united

apprehenfion,

with a patient and

careful obfervation

of the various obje6ts
It

they contemplated.
feffed, that

mufl likewife be con-

this

method, accompanied with

proper experiments, and juft reafoning found-

ed on thofe experiments, though not the
expeditious,
is

mod
one

however the only

certain

of attaining the knowledge of the truths of
natural Philofophy in particular.

But then,

on

the other hand,

it

muft be acknowledged,
is

that

where an extenfive Imagination

fu-

peradded to the qualifications above-mentioned, the mind, being thereby enabled to

comprehend a greater
to

variety of obje6ls,

and

combine

its

ideas in a greater variety of
its

forms, becomes qualified to pufli

inquiries

H

3

I02
ries

AN ESSAY
much
farther, as well as

with more ad-

vantage.

After

all,

though Imagination muft ever

be the predominating ingredient in the in-

TiRE accomplifhment of original Philosophic Genius, yet the powers of

Reason

muft

likewife exift very
its

degree, in order to

nearly in an equal complete confumit

mation, and the attainment of the objedls has in view
j

for if

we

(hould fuppofe Ima-

gination to predominate in a

high degree

over the other mental faculties, the confe-

quence would

be, that the Philofopher in

whom

it

thus predominated, would be per-

petually employed in forming ingenious in-

deed, but extravagant theories, of

which

his

compofitions would take a deep tin6lurej

and we
of a

iliould be

amufed

v/ith the

dreams
Philo-

romantic

vifionary,

inftead of being

inftruded in the
fophy.

truths of sound

Upon

ON GENIUS.
Upon
the whole
:

io3

as both thefe faeulties,

united in a high degree, muft concur in

forming the truly original Philosophic

Genius, they muft always go hand
though not

in

hand
an

together in philofophical inquiries, as well
as exift almoft,
altogether, in

equal proportion.

Thus we have fhewn how and by what
particular exertions original Genius difcovers itfelf in Philofophy
;

and have pointed

out

its

lingular efficacy in extending the

em-

pire of Science.

We

have

alfo confidered

the kind and degree of Imagination peculiarly

adapted to original Philosophic

Genius, compared with the kind and degree of the fame quality requifite to origi-

nal Genius, in that we have
ought to
well
as

Poetry
fliewn,

j

at the

fame time

that

Imagination

predominate in the former as
the
latter.

We

fhall

now

con-

clude this fedion with a few flight flrictures

on the chara6lers of fome of the

moll diftinguiihed original Authors in phi-

H

4

lofophical

104
lofophical

AN ESSAY
Science,

by way of

illafirating

the above remarks.

Of all the Philofophers of antiquity, Plato pofTefTed the mofc copious and exuberant imagination, which, joined to a certain contemplative turn of mind, qualified

him

for the fuccefsful purfuit of philofophi-

cai fludies,

and enabled him
eminence
in

to acquire

an

extraordinary

thofe

various

branches of Science, to which he applied
his divine Genius.
Writer,

He

is

the only profe
to

who

in Philofophy has dared

emulate the fublime majefly of the Mceonian

Bard

-f-.

He was

indeed animated with

all

that ardor and enthufiafm of Imagination

which

diftinguifnes the Poet

;

and

it is

im-

pofTible for a perfon, pofleffed of

any degree

of

fenfibility,

to read his Writings without

catching fomewhat of the enthufiafm.

The

fiivaq.

Long,

de Sub. cap. 13.

Philofophy

O N^
any other,
is

GEN
to
fettle,

I

US.

K?5

Philofophy of Plato, more than that of
calculated to elevate
i

and to ex-

pand the

foul

to footh, to refine

.the paffionsj

and to warm the heart with
Such were the
obje61:s
is

the love of virtue.
this

of

amiable Philofopherj and fuch

the

tendency of his do6trine.

At

prefent

we
of
ob-

confider his do6lrine merely as a proof
his Genius.

With
ev

this

view we

may

ferve, that his

fublime contemplations con-

cerning the To

and the

to tv *,

the exig-

ence

* Thofe

who

are deflrous

to

know Plato's

fenti-

ments on

the exiftence and unity of the Divine Nature,

may

confult his Phikbus, the fifth and fixth books of

his Republic,

and

his

Parmenides

;

in all

which they
fome places,

will find the reafoning very fubtile; and in

particularly through moft of the laft mentioned dia-

logue,
reafon,

it

muft be confefled, very

intricate.

For

this

we

choofe rather to refer the Reader to thofe
his fentiments

parts of

Plato's Works, where

on the

above-mentioned fubjedls are contained, than to prefent

him with

a few detached pafiages, idea of
is

which could

convey no

difhinit

his

meaning, where the

chain of argumentation
ihall

fo ftriftly conneiled.

We
fpeaks

only obferve,

that

though

Plato

fometimes

io6

AN ESSAY
-f-

ence and unity of the fupreme Being, as
well as the
perfections and providence

of

fpeaks agreeably to the eftablifhed mythology of his

country, vet

when he

intends to deliver his genuine

fentiments, he maintains the abfolute Sovereignty and

Unity of the Deity.

•f

Plato,

in his PoUt'icus^ after delivering

an inge-

nious, however unphilofophical a theory, concerning the various transformations and revolutions the v/orld

had undergone j and after having reprefented it as decayed and worn out in the courfe of fo many tranfmutations, as well as in danger of immediate diflblution,

upon account of

the diforder into

which

its

different

parts had been thrown, defcribes the Deity, with great fublimity, as rifmg from his feat of contemplation, rc-

fuming the

reins of

government, prefiding

at the

helm,

arranging the disjointed parts of the vaft machine of
the world, reftoring them to their primitive order and

beauty, and bellowing upon the whole renewed vigour

and immortality.
Reader with
Aio
J>? y.on

As

this paflage gives a

noble idea of

the omnipotence of the Deity, v/e Ihall prefent the
it.

tot'

v>^ri

^£0?
(jt-n

5 }io(7iJt.7iaxi; ctvtov,

xoc^opuv

tv cfrro^icn!;

evTiXj y-V^of^BVOi;

"vex,

^Etf^acS'ij.

vtto

Taf>a^»j? JtaAuflet?,

ik;

Toy

T*?j

afofAoioTDToj ocTreifov avtx tovov ^vvi <r[a\iv etps^po^ Uf'ta
to. vo'/^crxvtci

•ru» '^yiocif^nJv yiyvoi/u^vo^,

xai

Xvr,^s'Jta. st

fn'xc^'

KVtOV

:

ON
the caufes,
firft

G E N
principles,

I

U

S.

IG7

of the Deity; that his theory concerning

and generation
of

iivTav wpoTspa WEpfo-Jw rps^''*?* ^ocfAsi re xat zTTKVsfQm, »S,a-°
voTciv

ctvrov

Koii

nyn^iii

awsfya-^srcci.

Edit.

Mars,

Ficin^

p. 538.

Our
the
tion of

Philofopher,

exprefling his

own

opinion,

by

mouth of
all

the Milan Gueft,

attributes

the crea-

things, even of the materials

of which he

fuppofes the animal world to be framed, to one fu-

preme Being
H^iAEtj fte» itav xcti r'

ccWoc

^coct, K.a.\

1% uv to.
yevvyifAoi

'jri(pvy.or' sj'it

TVf

xui

v&a>^

xat roc

rovrm aJeA^a, ^ea

to. iravra, jc/aev

avrci

uTrngyota-if^ivct. exctra, ?

Sop^, p. 185.

At

the end of his Tlma:us, he reprefents the world as
:

the intelligent, moft perfe<3: image of the Deity
<9vYirci ya,^ y.oa
a.

Boiv»ra ^ua

T^a-hut,

xtui

^vjjt.T'Ki/i^aBiii

o^s o

yeyovsv,

hq

ov^ocvoq o^s, ^ovoyivriq uv.

Tim. p. 1089.
it

And

in the

fame dialogue he lays
that

down

as

an

indif-

putable

maxim,
:

God made

all

things perfe<St in

their kind

To

^s

^ ^vmrov uq xa^iXtra te xai

et.^irci

sf

ov^

ot;Tft;j

s^ovrwjt

vV(x,f)(^iTi).

p.

1062.

la

:

io8
of things,

AN ESSAY
apd the foul which animates
the

and a6tuates
ture

whole

frame

of Navir-

*

•,

his

fentiments

concerning

tue,

In other pafTages,

Plato

celebrates the moral as

well as natural perfedions of the Deity.
prefents

Thus he

re-

him

as the

complete model of juftice.

©£(^

oyoaftj) ovoajj^aii; aotx©^,

aM
05

«Jf

otov te

^txajoral©'. xcu
Tt oixato^

ax, ertv

avTco ojjkoiorepov a^iv

ij

av

ii)^i.uv

a,v yeviifen

TaT(^.

Tbe^f. p. 129.

He makes Socrates
good men.

likewife ftrongly aflert the doc-

trine of a particular Providence, exercifed in favour of

This

laft,

addrefiing himfelf to fuch of his

judges as had vindicated his innocence, makes the fol-

lowing declaration
A?,Xa
zcci ffOEJj %pi}

u

avo£(;

oixara'j iviXTnoai;
aX^jfis?

eivcci

vp^^ T0»
£r* «fopt

^ctvctTW.

Tcai

h

TE TBTo
ot^Ts

oiavoeicS'flu,

on

ax

ttya^oo

xax.ov

aosK

^w» t»,

owra

T£^£oT*)o•a^^T^.

Apoll,

Sacrat. p. 31.

* Plato's

doftrines concerning the

Anhna Mundi,

the Soul of the World, the caufes, original principles,

and formation of things, the revolutions of matter, and tranfmigration of fouls, are among the profound Speaking of the Anhna myfteries of bis Philofophy.

Mundi,

as infufed

by the Deity, he

tells

us

i

ON GENIUS.
ture *
;

109

and the happinefs of

thofe fouls

who

are gradually appropriated to the fo-

"Vvyvjv ^e £»j TO

i^bctov

ctvra ^st;, oia vacvl®* re etejvs, xcci £T» t^u

cvpuyov

'iva,

jiAOvoy

s^vi^ov xaTsrii?^.

Tim. p. IO49.

Thofe who
on
this

are defirous of obtaining full fatisfa(5lion

and the above-mentioned fubjefls,

may

confuic

the Timaus, where they will find
treated
riety
;

them

particularly

and where they

will be entertained with a va-

of notions ftrangely fanciful, indicating the inthis

exhaudible fecundity of Imagination peculiar to
great Philofbpher.

*

Plato

confiders virtue in feveral different lights

;

fubftituting

fome of

its

particular and eflential ingre-

dients in place of the general quality
ftltute.

which they conat

Thus he

fubftitutes juftice

one time for
forti-

this quality,

at another,

temperance, at another,
it

tude; but pofitively maintains that

cannot be taught,
fate-;

but muft be implanted in the mind by divine

an

opinion which gives us a very fubljme idea of the nature of virtue
;

E; ^6
Jta«

vvv

^/AEK

£v

vxvTl fu Aoyw rovru
ecv «t»!

xa.'Kaq s^viTrt<rx[A,tv ts

eMyof^sv, ccpervi

ovTe (pvcru, ovrs ^taocxrov'
Trtt^a,

a^Aa

Buee,^

fdot^a

Troc^ayiyvo^cnn ocvev vav, 015 av

yiyvTiroci.

Metw^

p. 427.

vereigii

:

no

A N

E

S S

AY
-f-;

vereign good and the fupreme beauty
that his reflexions

on prayer

*,

and on divine

\ In fpeaking of the fovereign good and fupreme
beauty,
fiafm,

he breaks out into a kind of divine enthuhis

which abforbs

mental faculties in rapturous

admiration and love of that glorious Obje6t, which
his ardent Imagination had reprefented
as inexpreffi-

bly amiable

:

T*
i/E?,

^Yira. [sipv}) otofAgSa, Biru
Kcx-Qci^ov,
ctiJi.iX.rcv,

yBvoiro avro to xaXoK e^siv ti^jxp*[avi

«AX a
ah'k'ni;

ecvwirMuv irapxuv rs av^DWffiSfijTJjf,
a.p'

vu)v

Kcn

pjfwfAaTwv,
Ssiov,

X-cii

woXXrjf <p?:y»pta?
',

aXX*

auTO TO

xx'hov ^vvcciTo

ff^ovonoit; x.a.Ti^siv

ont (e^??)
sv.nvo o Set

0xv>\Qv ^iov ysyyEc&on BX.tn7B ^XettokI^ av^pwTTH, axi
-^EfyftEKoy

xai

|t;i/0!/1^

avru

;

« ax

tvfiuftij

l^pvi)

oTt ivrocv^A

OtVTu fjuQvux^

yivvja-sTa.t,
a)i

ofuvn u ofarov to xaXoy, TtxTEtv ax
;

Et^wAa ap£T«s aT£

ej^wXb E^a'JTTo/XEVW
texovti ^e

aXX*

aTuj&ij,

are ra

aXijfia? EipaffTo/xEVw

i

apeTw

«X>j6j},

xat

^ps-^ccfjuccvu,

U9rap%£f •Seo^sXei ysvssS'afj'Kai Efwep

tw

cc'k'Aa ocv^pwrrui, a.^ct.va.lu

xcn

szsivid.

Sympof. p.

1

199.

*

It

is

pretty generally

known,

that the nature and

qualifications of the duty of prayer,

compofe the fub-

jecl of the fecond

Alcibiades.

Socrates, having
abfurdity, as well as
raftily,

young hero of the impiety of addrefTmg the Gods
convinced
this

recommends

that form of prayer ufed by a certain Poet

Ztv

:

:

ON GENIUS.
vine love

MI

and

friendftiip

-f-,

are ftriking in-

fiances of the fertility of

our Philofopher's
imagination.

Zsy ^cicriMv, to,

fosv i^'Koc xcci st;p^o^£i;o»f x.ixi

uvivy.ron;

p. 454.

Having imprefTed upon the mind of Alcibiades a
deep fenfe of the importance of the duty of prayer, in
whifch he

was going

to engage, and at the fame time

ihewn him how apt moft men were, from their io-norance of what was really good for them, to afk from
the Gods, what,
if

granted, might prove highly de;

ftrudive to themfelves

he obferves, that

it

becomes
not to

us to confider well, before Beings, what
fay
Ahhce,
§5IT£Cii;

we

addrefs thofe fuperior

we

ought, and what

we ought

^oKH

{JiOi

9roXAo5f ^t;?iax«? ^£IiB'«j xoci

cry.t-^eioi;,

0,

n

ttots

£r» *:«'

ft'J'

P» 45^*

And

a

little

after,

from the confideration of our

own

ignorance, he infers the neceflity of waiting for divine
Illumination, in order to enable us to perform the duty

of prayer properly

f In the dialogue,

intitled LyJIs,

Plato

gives us the

opinion of his Mafter concerning the nature of friendfhip.

112

A N

E

S S

AY
elfe-

imagination, as well as of that moral and
ipeculative difpofition,

which we have

where obferved to diftinguifh Philofophic
Genius
*.

It will

perhaps be alledged, that the moft

fublime notions in Plato's Philofophy were
originally derived

from divine

revelation,

and that he had
collecting

little eife

than the merit of

and forming them into a fyftem.
his Court of the GentileSy

This point Gale, in

fhip.

Socrates, intending

to reclaim the unhappyits

youth from

whom

the dialogue takes

name, from
in hazard

thofe criminal indulgences into

which he was

of being betrayed, leads him, ftep by ftep, from the

means to the end, from the confideration of inferior enjoyments to the contemplation of the sovereign,

ULTIMATE, and UNCREATED GooD,
cur moft ardent
afFeiStions

jn which

all

fubordinate gratifications ought to center, and on which

ought to be

fixed

;

As
£jr»

av ax- avayy-ri ocvu'rmv

vfji'izi;

ouTWf torra;,

x.tz.$

u^iki^oh
r,^ei

Tkva apX'"'' ^
sri

**"

e'^'^'okte*

ett

a>>Ko <pihov, u7^K
x.xi

iW

£*si»o o

wpwTov ^iXov.
ir/ff, p.

bv

iiiX-a,

Tx

a7.hci

Ox^iv vaviqt

^iXa

6»'«i.

507.

* Book

I.

Sea.

2.

hath

ON GENIUS.
feath

113

laboured to prove.

It

muft indeed

be confefled, that

Plato

enjoyed great ad-

vantages, and was favoured with peculiar

means and opportunities of acquiring knowledge,

which he did not
travelled

fail

to improve.
Ital)\

Having

into Egypt and

he

made
more

himfelf acquainted with the myfleries
Priefts,

of the Egyptian
fecret

as well as with the

and profound do6lrines of the
;

Pythagorean School
dition,

and no doubt by tra-

however corrupted and interpolated,

he m^ght obtain fome very imperfefl knowledge of the fundamental principles of the

Jewidi religion.

Indeed the flrong refem-

blance betwixt the do6lrines of
thofe contained in the

Plato, and

Old Teftament, ren-

ders this conjecture highly probable.

At
from

the fame time

it

appears equally probable,

that as others are very different both

the Sacred and Pythagorean dodrines, they
are properly derived

from

neither, but are

the production of his
nius.

own

inventive

Ge-

I

Des

ii4

AN ESSAY
the French Philofopher, had

Des Cai^tes,
the

honour of

firft

reforming the Philofophy

of his country.
himfelf,

He

flruck out a path for

through the gloom which the obunintelligible jargon of the Schools
;

fcure

and

had thrown on Science
could not purfue
ings,
it

and though he
its

through

feveral

wind-

he pointed out the track which has

been followed by others, and has led to the

moft important

difcoveries.

He
vivid

inherited

from nature a flrong and
tion
}

Imagina-

but the too great predominance and

indulgence of this very faculty,was the caufe

of

all

thofe errors in Philofophy into

which
dif-

he was betrayed.

His theories of the

ferent vortices of the heavenly bodies,

and

of that immenfe whirlpool of fluid matter,-

through w^hich, in confequence of an
ginal

ori^^

impulfe,

they

are

fuppofed to re-

volve, have,

by our celebrated
to

Nev^ton/
Ima-

been

fhewn

be

falfe

j

though thofe

theories are a proof of the creative

gination of their Author

5

but of an imagi-

nation too freely indulged,

and too

little

fub-

ONment.

GENIUS.

115 Judg-

fubjedted to the prudent reftraints of

What Des Cartes was
Lord Bacon was
to

to the French^

the Englljh nation.

He was

indeed not only the reformer, but

the reviver and reftorer of Learning.
his penetrating

As

and comprehenfive Genius *
enabled

* Perhaps no age or nation can boaft of having produced a more comprehenfive and univerfal Genius, than that which Lord Bacon feems to have pofleffed. He applied his Genius to almoft every department of
Literature and Science, and fucceeded in every fphere

which he attempted.
by him into three
and Philofophy
lating to the

Human knowledge was
the

divided

diftindi branches,

Hiftory, Poetry,
firil

(vid. de Aug. Sclent, feci, i.)

re-

Memory,

the fecond to the Imagination,

and the

laft to

Reafon or the Judgment.

With

refpe61:

to Philofophy, inftead of employing his imagination in

framing air-built theories, he began his Inquiries into
the works of nature, with laying
it

mental maxim, that

man knows

juft as

down as a fundamuch only of

the courfe of nature, as he has learned from obfervation

and experience
«'
:*c

:

*'

Homo

nature minifter

&

interpres,

tantum
je vel

facit

&

intelligit,

quantum de

naturss ordine,
fcit

mente obfervaverit, nee amplius
I Z

aut poteft,"

(Nov,

ii6

AN ESSAY
;

enabled him to difcern and expofe the errors

of the Scholaftic Philofophy

fo

it

qualified

him not only

for extending the empire

of

Science far beyond the hmits within which
it

had been formerly confined, but

alfo for

difcovering thofe immenfe tradls of uncultivated ground,

which

fince

his time,

by

tracing his footfteps, have been occupied

and

improved.

He had

the honour of intro*,

ducing experimental Philofophy

and fucceeded

(Nov. Org.
refult of
all his

lib.

i.

aph, i.) and upon this juft axiom, the
refle(9:ion

mature

and good

fenfe,

he founded

philofophical difcoveries.

*

When we
to

affirm

that

Lord Bacon introduced

experimental Philofophy into his country,

mean

his time

;

we do not afTert, that its ufewas wholly unknown before but that he was the firft who taught and remethod of
inveftigating the caufes

gularly pra6tifed the

of the phenomena of nature by certain experiments.

The "
'*

excellence and advantage of this method of invef:

tigation he celebrates very juftJy

*'

Sed demonftratio
hsereat in ipfo

longe optima
experlmento.

eft

experientia
fi

;

modo

Nam
nifi

traducatur ad alia quae ftmilia

"
^'-

exiftimantur,

rke

&

ordine fiat ilia tradu£lio rti

falkx

eft."

{Ihld. fcft. 70.)

After which he

cen^^-

fures

ON GENIUS.
ceeded in

117

many of

the experiments which he

made.

Thofe

particularly, in which,

by the

help of a pneumatic engine he had himfelf
contrived, he endeavoured to difcover the

weight and

elafticity

of the

air, in

which he

was

to a great degree fuccefsful,

though the

above-mentioned properties were more mi^
nutely calculated afterwards, do abundance of
credit to his philofophical fagacity.
ral Effays, his

His mo-

book de Augmcntis Scicjitiarum *,
his

fures the

part'ial.y

inaccurate^

and
;

cafual

method of makwhich

ing experiments in his

own

time

in oppofition to

he points out the true procefs to be obferved
Philofopher,

by the

the limits

who afpires to the honour " At of human knowledge
:

of extending
contra verus

" "
'*

experientise ordo

primum lumen

accendit,

deinde

per
tia

lumen
ordinata

iter

demonftrat, incipiendo ab experien-

&

digefta,

&

minime

praepoftera aut er-

"
<f

ratica,

atque ex ea educendo axiomata, atque ex
rurfus

axiomatibus conftjtutis

experimenta nova."

(Ibid,)

* The defign of the book
is

de Augmentls Scientiarum^

to take a general furvey of
it

human knowledge,

di-

vide
cies

into

its

feveral branches, obferve the deficien-

in

thofe branches,

and fugged: the methods by
I 3

which

iiS
his

AN ESSAY
Novum Organum
-f-,

and

his treatifes of

Phyfics and Natural Hiilory J, have gained

him great reputation

-,

as indeed all his

works

are a proof of his having pofTeiTed that nice

which they may be
lowing
*|-

fuppliedj an undertaking executed

in a great meafure by the Author himfelf in fome fol~
tradls.

In the

Novum Organum

Scientlarum,

the Author
*

points out the caufes of ignorance and error in the
Sciences, at the fame time that he lays

down

certain

aphorifms, founded on perception and confcioufnefs, or

deduced from obfervation and experience, as fo many fteps in the intelledual fcale, by which we may rife to
the knowledge of univerfal truths.
quifitions

Thofe leading

dif-

and experiments are likewife pointed out,

which open to us the mofl: comprehenfive views of th« works of nature, as well as facilitate the inventions and
improvements of the
arts.

%

The Author,

in his Sylva
;

Sylvarum^ attempts a kind

of hiftory of nature and art

enumerates

many of

the

phenomena of
part of this

the univerfe for this purpofe, which he
;

calls the third part of his Inftauration

and

in the fourth

Work, denominated

Scala IntelleSiuSy

he
th,e

Ihews the

method of employing the materials of

Sylva Sylvarum^ by a variety of examples, fuch as his

Hiftory of Life and Death, his Hiftory of the

Winds,

and
dies.

his

Condenfation and Rarefa6lion of natural Bo-

tern-

4

ON GENIUS.
which
Genius.

119

temperature of Imagination and Judgment,
conftitute truly original Philofophic

In adducing examples of

this quality,

it

would be inexcufable
Sir

to

omit mentioning
fo revered

Isaac

Newton,

a

name

by

Mathematicians and Philofophers of every
degree.

This great

man was

doubtlefs in
firft

Philofophy an original Genius of the
rank.
ries

His various and ftupendous difcove-

of the revolutions of the heavenly boof the laws by which thofe

dies, as well as

revolutions are regulated; of their feveral

magnitudes, orbits, and diftances
that great
tion,

3

and of
attrac-

and fundamental law of
all

by which
;

nature

is

fupported and

aftuated
tion

his theory of light, as
;

an emanaof
its

from the fun

his calculation

ra-

pidity,
lity

and of the refledion and refrangibiits

of

rays

j

his fubtil

and curious anadivifion

tomy of

thofe rays,

and the

and

arrangement of the elementary ones which

compofe them, together with their union
1

in

I2Q

A N

E

S S

AY
j

in the formation of colours, are the moft

aitonifhing efforts of the

human mind and

while they fhew the prodigious compafs of
that imagination, which could frame and

comprehend fuch fublime conceptions, they
at the

fame time

clearly evince the

profound

depth of penetration and ftrength of reafon, which, by a kind of divine intuition,

could difcern and demonftrate their truth,,

Doclor Berkeley, Bi(hop of

Cloyne,

was

another original philofophic Genius of distinguifhed eminence.

While Hobbes and
the dotSlrine of abfo-

Spinoza maintained
lute
rpaterialifm,

adrnitting

nothing but

matter, in one form or another, in the univerfe,

Berkeley
perceiving

excluded
its

it

altogether

from

his fyftem,

and denied
it.

exigence out of a

mind

A

doctrine (o
fo

new and
fail at

uncommon, and feemingly
firft

contrary to

the evidence of our fenfes, could not
to raife aftonifhment,
:

and

to

meet with

oppofition

yet this ingenious

Author has

fupported his theory by fuch plaufible arguments.

O N

GENIUS.
truth

121

rncnts, tliat'Hiany perfons appear to be con-

vinced by them, and to have adopted his
fentiments.

The

is,

though, relying

on

the teftimony of our fenfes,

we

allow
fuffi-

the real exiftence of matter, and are
cieritly

acquainted with
extenfion,

its

eflential

proper5

ties, folidity,'
its

and

divifibility

yet

genuine efience, or the fubftratum in
exift, is ftill

which thofe properties

a myftery

to Philofophers, and will probably continue
to be fo.

Whether
Author

the above-mentioned

tenet of this

fliould be generally re-

ceived as an eftabliflied article in the Philofopher's Creed, or not,
as
it is

it

mufl, fupported

with fuch ftrength of reafon and in-

vention, undoubtedly be confidered as a iig-

nal proof of his having pofTefled a very high

degree of original Philofophic Genius.

The lail original Genius in Philofophy, we fliall take notice of, is Burnet, the Author of
the

Theory of the Earth

;

a fyftem fo

new,

fo confident,

and conceived with fuch
is

ftrength of fancy, that one

almofl tempted
to

122

A N

E

S S

AY
and Genius of

to be of the fame opinion with the Author

of

the Ejjay

on the JVrititigs

Pope,

who

hath ventured to declare, that in

this admirable performance, there appears a

degree of Imagination Httle inferior to what
is

difcovered in Paradife Loji,

His hypo-*

thefes of the pofition

and form of the ante-

dikivian earth, of the caufes which produced

the univerfal deluge, occafioned by the open^^

ing of the floodgates of Heaven, aided by the
buifling afander of the frame of the earth,

and

its
it

falling into the great abyfs,

with
it

which
it

was furrounded, and on which
j

as

were floated

his opinions of the paradi-

fiacal fl:ate,
its feafons,

of the agreeable temperature of

and of the peculiar

beauties of
,

this primeval

conftitution of nature
its

his

theory of the general conflagration,

cauies

and

progrefs,

and of the
it,

univerfal

judgment

confequent upon

together with his idea of

the nature, happinefs, and time of the Mil-

lenium, form altogether fuch a furprifing,
ingenious, and at the fame time, not im*

probable fyftem, that

we cannot

help

ad-^

miring

ON GENIUS.
inventive and truly creative Genius.

125

miring the whole as the produ6lion of an

Thefe examples, we hope,

will be fufiicient

to fhew the importance, the ufe, and the

iphere of Imagination in philofophical disquifitions
;

and to point out thofe particular

degrees,

and that happy temperature of Ima-

gination and Judgment,

which

conftitute

and accomplifh

original Philofophic Genius.

Many

other diflinguifhed names in Philofoto thofe above=»

phy might have been added
mentioned
plan,
;

but as the narrow limits of our

on

this

branch of the fubje6l, do not

allow our running cut to greater length in
the

way of

illuftration,

fo

the adducing

more examples,
ceding remarks,

in order to confirm the prewill,

we

imagine, after thofe

already adduced, be altogether unneceflary.

SECTION

124

AN ESSAY

SECTION
F

IIL

ORIGINAL
G

EN
1

I

U

S

N

P

O
OETRY

E
*,

T
of
all

R

Y.

P

the liberal Arts,

affords the

moft extenfive fcope for
the

* Aristotle, inquiring
afligns

into the origin of Poetry,
it,

two

principal caufes of

a natural

desire of

of that

Imitation, and the Imitation
:

pleafure arifing from the fuccefs

xx,i

dvrui

(pvanxcu.

To, ra yx^

ftijxsj^af,

a-v[x(pvTov toj; «»-

ON GEN
confequently of Genius,
neceffarily reflri61ed
;

I

U

S.

,125

the difplay of a Genius truly Original.

In

Philofophy, the empire of Imagination, and
is

in

fome degree
it is

in Poetry,

altoge-

ther abfolute
pli fli the

and uneonfined.

To

accom-

Philofopher,

who would make new
already fhewn)

difcoveries in Science, a large proportion of

Imagination

is

(as

we have
-,

undoubtedly requifite

but to conflitute the

true Poet, the highefl degree of this quality
is

indifpenfibly neceflary.

Smooth
will

verfifica-

tion

and harmonious numbers

no more

make genuine
and

Poetry, than the atoms of a

ikeleton put together can
living figure.

make an animated
produce
either,
;

To

a

certain vital fpirit

muft be infufed

and in
•]-.

Poetry, this vital

fpirit is

Invention

By
this

(jbij/.-nrty-coTctrov

sj-t,

xai ra;

|«.«y»!crstj

iironirai

out ^^lAXKraa^
Ariji,

Ta?

'a^arce.q, y.cn

to p^at^Eiy Totj

fi»jX7j^a<ri

iJavTa;.

Toet.

cap. 4.

f

The
it

fame great Critic obferves, that

as

it

is

the

office

of the Hiftorian to relate fuch things as are really
is

don?,

the proper office of the Poet to relate the

kind

:

;

126
this quality

AN ESSAY
it

is

principally charadlerifed
all

which, being the very foul of
compofition,
is

poetical

likewife the fource of that

inchanting delight, which the mind receives

from

its

perufal.

Invention

may

be confi-

dered as confiding of incidents, of

cha-

racters, of IMAGERY, of SENTIMENT;
in
all

which, original poetic Genius will disitfelf in

play

an uncommon degree.

We

Ihall confider its efforts in

each of thefe fe-

parately.

kiad of things that fhoold be done, according to what
is

required by necefilty, or the rules of probability

<&a.yi^ot oa

ly.

vm

bi^tj^vjuv,

y.ai

oTt a to rot

yivoix.evec

hsyen/f

TBTo
TO
r)

-aroMiTa B^yov
»)

es-*vj

a^X

otoc,

av yivotro, x«f

ra

S'vvara. Kxlet

EiKO?,

TO

ana-fKCiioy.

'O ya^ ij-o^iy.^ kch
ehj

o 'ct'cthjtjjj,

a ru

ejM.ft.eT^a >ksyrty v

a|*£Tg« i5fa^E^«<7n;'

ya^

ax

Ta'H^o^oTa
tj

Et5

lA.iT^» T^DEl'«^, «a( a^Bv jjtIok av n-n Iroqicc Ttj /itETa ftEToy

ccviv
roil

ijat^uV

a-XKoi

raru

^ta^egsi

ra

rov

fJUiv

Ta

yivofuva Xcyiiv^

h

oia av yivoiro.

Ibid. cap. 9.

In order however
vention.

to

relate

the kind of things that

fhould be done, the Poet muft poflefs the power of In-

Firfl,

»

ON
•Firfl:,

GEN

I

U

S,

127

in

the

invention of incixjents.
are fo obvious,
that

Some

incidents

by a

natural ailoGiation of ideas, they inftantly

occur to the mind of every one pofTefTed of
ordinary
ceived.
abilities,

and are very

eafily

con-

Others however are more remote,
far

and

lie

beyond the reach of ordinary

fa~

calties

* j coming only within the verge of
thofe

* A.perfon who
ceflarily regard

is

deftitute

of Imagination, muft neincidents,

a

feries

of

fi<5litious

which

are at the fame time furprifing and important, with

great aftonilliment
cult to conceive

;

and he will

feel it

extremely

diffi-

them

to have been invented

by the

mere

fertility

of the Poet's fancy.
this
:

The

reafon of both
fcarce

feems to be

Such a perfon, having

any

other ideas than what arife from fenfation, and the

moft

common
all

laws of afTociation, will be apt to fup-

pofe that

mankind
;

receive their ideas by the

fame

modes of conveyance
fitely nice relations

being ignorant of thofe exqui-

of ideas refulting from certain laws
his

of combination that do not operate upon but which, operating upon minds of a
but can fcarce comprehend.
are indeed the
all

own mind,

finer frame, are

the fource of that rich fund of Invention which he adijiires,

Senfation and reall

fle<Sion

common
j

fountains of

our

ideas

and
are

our knowledge

but

when opce

thofe

ideas

conveyed into the mind by means of the
fen fes.

228
thofe

AN ESSAY
few perlbns, whofe minds are capacious
to contain that prodigious croud of

enough
ideas,

which an extenlive obfervation and
whofe underftandings
to difcover the

experience fupply;
are penetrating

enough

moft

diftant conne6lions of thofe ideas,

and whofe

imaginations are fufficiently quick, in com-

bining them at pleafure.
incidents

It is this

kind of

which original Genius delights to

invent

;

incidents

which are in themfelves

great as well as

uncommon.

Let

it

not

however be fuppofed, that the invention
even of thefe
is

a laborious employment to

a Writer of

this

(lamp

;

for

it is

the prero-

gative of a great Genius to think

and to

write with eafe, very rarely, if ever, expe»

fenfes, they

undergo an
a

infinite variety

of modification

in the

mind of

man
in

of Geolus, in comparifon of

what they admit of
lity.

one

who

is

deftitute

of

this

qua-

In the former cafe. Imagination, like a grand

alembic, gradually refines, and (if I

may ufe

the expres-

fion) fublimates thofe conceptions that heretofore parti-

cipated of the grofTnefs of fenCe, from

which they were

ultimately derived.

riencing

ON GENIUS.
rienclng a barrennefs of Imagination.
excurfions of this faculty, which, by
tive
its

129

He
ac-

has nothing to do but to give fcope to the

and

creative

power,

exploring every

recefs

of thought, will fupply an inexhaufti-

ble variety of ftriklng incidents.
therefore, of inventing

A

facility,

and combining

fucli

incidents in compofition,

may

be regarded

as one chara6le^^ifl:ical indication of a

Ge-

nius truly Original *.

The
*

It is,

we

believe,

commonly

fuppofed, at leaft

it

feems to be the opinion of fome, that the invention of
a variety of
fignal proof

new

and interefting incidents,

is

the moft

and exertion of Genius.
firft

This opinion,
it

however, though, upon the

refleilion

has an air
to

of probability, will appear, upon a

ftridler inquiry,

be without any foundation.
racters,

The

invention of cha-

which

will be afterwards particularly confider-

ed,

is

unqueftionably the greateft eiFort of original

Ge-

nius.

In fupport of

this

pofition, let

it

be obferved,
a greater

.'that 11? this

fpecies of Invention, the

mind has

diverfity of objects

to

employ

it ,

and muft therefore,
its

in order to comprehend them, exert

faculties

with

vigour, as well as keep them on the ftretch.
in the exhibition of an

Thus,

gination muft invent the

uncommon character, the Imasentiments, language, K MANNERS,

13®

AN ESSAY
fecond fpecies of invention

The

we menOrdi-

tioned was that of

characters.

nary

MANNERS, and OFFICES
in the execution of
culties

peculiar to

it,

and Judgment

muft determine concerning the propriety of each;

which

it is

evident, both thefe fa-

muft be very intensely exercifed, particularly
;

the

firft

fmce to conceive and reprefent characters

which never exifted, but are the pure
the

creation of

mind

(for of fuch only

vi^e

are fpeaking at prefent)

iniaft'

indicate the utmoft

Imagination.

On

the

fertility and force of other hand, though we readily
important, and fur-

allow the invention of various,
nal Genius in a high degree, yet
as fo remarkable

prifing events, to be a proof of the exiftence of origi-

we cannot
;

regard

it

an exertion of

this talent,

as the in-

vention of

uncommon

characters

becaufe the imagi-

nation of an original Author in Poetry, feeling a native

bent to fiction, will, even in
firft,

its

paftime, naturally

run into the

as incidents are lefs
eafily

complicated,
than charaders
;

and therefore more
but
it

invented
laft

cannot accomplifh the

without the moft

ftrenuous efforts.

Were we

to admit the invention

of

furprifing incidents, as the moft diftinguifhing crite*

lion of
fity

originality, we fhould be under
afligning

a neces^ to

of

the

fuperiority

in

this

refpetSt
;

Ariosto,
find

over

Homer

and

Shakespear

fmce we

that a

much

greater variety of events have been

feigned in the Orlando Furiofo of the former, than in
all

ON GENIUS.
iiary Writers,
seffed

331
are posr

and even

thofe

who

of no inconfiderable

talents,

commonly
com-

fatisfy themfelves,

in this branch of

pofition, with

copying the characters which

have been drawn by Authors of fuperior
merit,

and think they acquit themfelves

ftifHciently,

when they produce

a juft re-

femblance of the originals they profefs to
jniitate.

A

moderate degree of praife

is

no

<loubt due to fuccefsful imitators; but

an

Author of

original

Genius

will not content

himfelf with a mediocrity of reputation;
confcious of the ftrength of his
lents,

own

ta-

he difdains to imitate what perhaps
qualified to excel.

he

is

Imitation indeed,

of every kind, except that of nature, has a

tendency to cramp the inventiv^e powers of
the mind, which, if indulged in their excurfions,

might difcover new mines of intellectual

all

the Works of the

two

laft

mentioned Poets put to-

gether; a preference furely, which neither the di6lates

of impartial Reafon, nor the laws of found Criticifm,
could ever juftify.

K

2

ore,

132

AN ESSAY
from thofe who are
hiit lies

ore, that lie hid only

capable or unwiiling to dive into the recelTes
in

which

buried.
laft

A V/riter however,
inflead

of the kind

mentioned,

of

tracing the footfteps of his predecefTors, will

allow his imagination to range over the

field

of Invention, in queft of

its

materials

-,

and,

from the group of

figures colle6led

by

it,

will flrike out a chara6ler like his
niuS) perfe6lly Original.

own Ge-

It

may

be obferved, that there are three

different kinds of charaders, in the inven-

tion and reprefentation of which, originality

of Genius

may

be difcovered with

great,

though not with equal advantage.
firft

The

of thefe are real

human

charaders, fucli

as are

found

in every

country and age.

The
of

fecond are like wife
dignified kind
;

human, but of

the mo£i:
level

raifed far

above the

common
ters
is

life,

and pecuhar to the pureft and

moft heroic times.

The

laft fort

of charac-

that of beings wholly different in their

natures from

mankind

j

fuch as Ghofts,

Witches,

ON GENIUS.
Witches, Fairies, and the
like,

133

which may

be termed fupernatural.

Perhaps
firfl

it

may be

thought, that in the

of thefe

cafes,

Invention has nothing to

do,
cifed

and cannot with any propriety be exer5

fince

to conceive juflly,

and to ex-

prefs naturally, are the principal rcquifites
in*

an

xA^uthor,

w^ho vi^ould exhibit a faithful
It

portrait of real characters.
feffed,

muft be conis

that in this inftance there

not fo

much
others

fcope afforded for invention as in the
j

nay

farther,

that
let it

it

is

necefiarily

much

reftridled.

But

be obferve'd, that

though

juft

and

lively

conceptions of the

chara6lers to be reprefented, together with

the

power of

defcribing thofe conceptions,

are the qualifications
lite

mod

efTentially requi-

to the faithful exhibition of fuch charac-

ters,

both thefe qualities depend upon the
;

Imagination

for

though impartial Judgfar the intire re-

ment muft determine how
femblance
is

juft, yet to diclate

the fentiraents
the adions

and language, and to

furnifli

K

3

peculiar

.

134

AN ESSAY
is

peculiar to the different perfons exhibited,

the

work of Invention

alone.

It

will he

readily underilood, that

we

are at prefent

fpeaking of chara«51ers reprefented on the
ilage,

and taken from

real life, in the de-

fcribing of v/hich

we
his

fuppofe an original

Author to employ

Genius

-f

The

-f-

It

cannot be doubted but that Original Genius

may

be difcovered in

Comedy and

v/orks of

Humour,
Tra-

as well as in the higher fpecies of Poetry, thofe of

gedy and the Epopcsa
in the
firft

j

though the originality difcovered
and delaft.

will be very different, both in kind

gree, from that

which

is

difcovered in the

two

Thus the Author of Hudthras was in his peculiar way an Original, as well as the Author of the Iliad-,
\lld

Hogarth,
life,

in

drawing fcenes and chara<Sers in

low

with fuch

uncommon

propriety, juftnefs and

humour,

originality, though far inferior in its kind to what appears in thofe illuflrious monuments of Genius left us by Raphael Urbin and Michael Angelo. There can be no queftion which
difcovers a certain

of the Poets, or which of the Painters, was the greateft

Genius

;

for the comparative merit
is

of

illuftrious or in-

genious Artifts

eftimated, not merely from the

cution, but from
which employed

the

exedesign, and from the subject
and pencils.

their pens

Thus
%

there

is

a fub-

ON GENIUS.
The

135

fecond fort of chara6lersj in the in-

vention and proper reprefentation of which

we

a fublimity in the

works of the Epic Bard, and in the

pieces of the Hiftory Painters above-mentioned,

which

gives

them

a vaft fuperiority over thofe of the

humorous

Poet and ludicrous Artift already named.

We obferved
cies of Poetry,
is

Ilkewife, that the

degree

of origi-

nality which may
mits of

be difcovered in the higher fpe-

different

from that which

Comedy
in

ad-

The DEGREE
in
it
;

of

ORIGINALITY
is

any per-

formance whatever, depends upon the degree of INVEN-

TION appearing

and

as there

in general at leaft

occafion for a greater proportion of this quality in

Tra-

gedy and the Epopasa, than in Comedy,
that a greater degree of
fite

we may infer, original Genius is requitwo
firft,

to an excellence in the

than

is

necelfary

to

ail

excellence in the

laft.

In the former, both the

characters and incidents are in a great meafure ficti-

tious
from

;

in the latter, they are for the
life; the

moft part taken
our eyes an
il-

real

one

fetting before

luftrious

model of
and

virtue, teaches us

what we should

be

j

the other prefenting to our view a faithful portrait
follies,

of our vices
teaches us

drawn from obfervation,

that a

Hence it ihould feem, sublime and creative Imagination is necefwhat are.

we

fary to conftitute a

talent

for

Epic Poetry, or for

Tragedy

J

and that a qjuick and lively one, ac-

K

4

companied

136
•we obferved
is

AN ESSAY
an original Genius would
excel,
is

that of the moft elevated kind, fuch as

raifed far

above the ordinary ftandard of

human

excellence, yet not altogether above
5

the fphere of humanity
folutely unattainable

fuch as

is

not abrarely

by man, but
life,

is

found in common

and

is

peculiar to
It is this

the moft heroic ages of the world.

kind of charafters which

is

moft

fuitable to

the dignity of the epic and the tragic

Mufe:
of

the latter indeed hath greatly extended her
prerogative,

by alTuming the

privilege

reprefenting every kind of diftrefs, and

mak-

ing vicious chara61:ers frequently the principal
perfonages of the drama.
the

We fhall only by
though
terror,

way

obferve

on

this fubjecl, that

one end of Tragedy, the exciting of

may

be anfwered moft effe6lually by this
raifing

method, the other ends, namely, the
of our admiration and
pity,

can by no means

companied with an extenfive
kind,
IS

the principal requifite to a

knowledge of manmastery m Cobe

medy,

ON GEN
be accomplifhed by
thefe, virtue
"ble
it
s

I

U

S.

137

fmce to effe6luate

muft appear great and venera-

in

diftrefs.

Though

virtuous charadters

labouring under calamities, do at leaft in
general afford the moft proper fubje6ls for

Tragedy, as appears from the reafon already
given, yet

we

are far

from laying

it

down

as

an

eflential rule,

that fuch chara6lers
this

mufl

always be exhibited in
for

branch of Poetry;

we

are fenfible, that as

Tragedy admits

of great latitude with regard to the choice
"of its fubjedls,
it is

a rule which

times with propriety be
will lay
it

may fometranlgrefled yet we
j

down

as

an inviolable law

in the

conduft of an Epic Poem, that the characters

of the principal perfons mufl: be virtuous
illuftrious.

and
of

In reprefenting characters

this

kind,

whether in Tragedy or the

Epopcsa, an original Genius will difcover the
fertility

and

richnefs of his invention. Findlife

ing no characters in real

every

way fuited

to his purpofe, his Imagination
plies the defefl,

amply fup-

and enables him to form

thofe complete models of excellence,

which
neither

138
neither
furnifh.

AN ESSAY
obfervation

nor experience could

By
this

the creative and combining
faculty,

power of

he afiembles thofc

ihining qualities which conftitute the Hero,

and

exhibits them, united together with per-

fect fymmetry, in one ilriking
figure.

and graceful

Inflead of copying the Heroes of

Homer,
which

or of any other Author ancient or

.modern, he will prefent us with Heroes
are

properly his

own

;

being the

tranfcripts of thofe
cellence,

models of genuine exhis

which he has formed in

own
The

mind.
ters

We do not

affirm that fuch charac-

villi

be altogether imaginary.

groundwork may be taken from
tradition,

hiflory or

though

it

is

the proviace of the
-,

Poet to
is

finifh the piece

and the Poet that
with admirable

truly original, will

do

this

art

and invention.

The
will
is

third

and
all

laft fort

of chara6lers, in

which, above

others,

an original Genius
his invention,

moft remarkably difplay

of that kind which

we

called

preternatural.

ON GENIUS.
TURAL,
and
is

13^

altogether different

from

mere, HUM AN chara6ters.
Fairies,

Witches, Ghofts,

and fuch other unknown vilionary

beings, are included in the fpecies of

which
exift-

we

are fpeaking.

Of

the

manner of

ence, nature

and employment of thefe v/on-

derful beings,
jTiinate ideas.

we have no
It

certain or deter-

fhould feem that our no-

tions of them, vague
are, are derived

and

indifl:in6l as

they

from

tradition

and popular

opinion

;

or are the children of Fancy, Su--

perftition,

and Fear.

Thefe caufes concur-

ing with, as well as operating upon, the
natural credulity of mankind, have given
birth
to

prodigies

and

fables

concerning

" Gorgons,
dire ;"

and

Hydras,

and

chimeras

which have been always eagerly

fwallowed by the vulgar, though they

may
wife.

have

been

juftly

reje<fl:ed

by the

However
is

averfe the latter

may
ideas

be to think
this

with the former on fubjedls of
it

kind^

certain,

that

their

of Ghofts,
like appari-

Witches, Daemons,
tions,

and fuch

muft be very much the fame with
theirs.

i4'o
"theirs,

A N
iince they

E

S S

AY

draw them from the fame

fource, that of traditionary relation; and,

how
and

reludant foever the Judgment
its

may be
we
will

to yield

afient, the

Imagination catches

retaiils
It

the impreffion, whether
is

or not.
ings,

true, the ideas

of thofe beall,

which are

common
;

to
is

are very

general and obfcure

there

therefore great

fcope afforded for the flights of Fancy in this

boundlefs region.

Much may
The

be invented,

and manv new
fices

ideas of their nature

and

of-

may

be acquired.

wildeil

and

moft exuberant imagination

will fucceed beft

in excurfions of this kind, "
fible

beyond the
v/ili
its

vi-

diurnal

i]:)here,"

and

make

the

moft ftupendous

difcoveries in

aerial tour.

In this region of fi6lion and fable, original

Genius

will

indulge
:

its

adventurous flight

without reflraint

it

will dart a

beam upon
veil

the dark fcenes of futurity,

draw the

from the

invifible

world,
*'

and expofe to
undifcovered
traveller

our aftonifhed view
country,
returns."

that

from whofe bourne no

Shakespear,

ON GENIUS.
cluded the
writer,
laft fentence,
is

141

Shakespear, with whofe words we conthe only Englijh

who with amazing

boldnefs has venflate,

tured to burft the barriers of a feparate

and

difclofe the land
;

of Apparitions, Shadows,

and Dreams

and he has nobly fucceeded in
His very peculiar ex-

his daring attempt.

cellence in this rerpe6t will be
illuftrated in another part

more properly
In
will

of our Eflay.
it

the

mean time we may

obferve, that

be hazardous for any one to purfue the track

which he has marked out

;

and that none

but a Genius uncommonly original, can hope
for fuccefs in the purfuit.

Should fuch a Genius

arife,

he could not
of an ex-

defire a nobler field for the difplay

uberant Imagination, than what the fpiritual
world,

with

its

flrange

inhabitants,

will

prefent to him.

In defcribing the nature

and employment of thofe vifionary beings,
whofe exiftence
of thofe
is

fixed in a future ftate, or

who

exift in

the prefent, or

may
air,"

be fuppofed

to inhabit the

" midway

bu^

142

AN

E

S S AT"'^

but are poffeiTed of certain powers and faculties,

very different from what are p6$is

sefied

by mankind, he

not, as in defcrib-

ing

human

chara6lers, re{lri6led to exa6l

probability,

much

lefs

to truth

:

for

we

arc

in moft inftances utterly ignorant of the

powers of

different or fuperior beings

;

and,

confequently, are very incompetent judges

of the probability or improbability of the
particular influence, or adions attributed to

them.
fore,

All that

we

require of a Poet there-

who

pretends to exhibit characters of
is,

this kind,

that the incidents, in efFe6luat-

ing which
ed,

tliey are

fuppofed to be concern-

be

poiTible,

and confonant to the general

analogy of their nature ; an analogy, founded

not upon truth or

ftriCl

probability,

but

upon common

tradition or popular opinion.

It is evident therefore that the Poet,

who

would give us a glimpfe of the other world,
and an idea of the nature, employment, and

manner of
fome

exiflence

oiF

thofe

who

inhabit

it,

or of thofe other imaginary beings,
are in
refpetSrs fimilar to,

who

but in others
totally

ON GENIUS.
totally different

143

from mankind, and are fup-

pofed to dwell on or about this earth, has

abundant fcope for the
fertile

exercife

of the moft
is

Invention.

This ideal region

in-

deed the proper fphere of Fancy, in which
fhe

may

range with a loofe rein, without

fuffering reftraint

from the

fevere checks of
little

Judgment

-,

for

Judgment has very
fupernatural

jurifdiftion in this province of Fable.

The

invention of

the

chara61:ers

above-mentioned,

and the exhibition of
and the moft

them, with their proper attributes and offices,

are the higheft efforts

pregnant proofs of truly original Genius.

The third we obferved
guifhed,
is

fpecies

of Invention, by which

original Genius will be diffin-

that of

imagery.
is

The

ftile

of

an original Author in Poetry
part

for the moft

FIGURATIVE and metaphorical. The ordinary modes of fpeech being unable to

exprefs the grandeur or the ffrengih of his

conceptions, appear

flat and languid

to

his ardent Imagination.

In order therefore
to

;

144

AN E

S S

AY
language,

to fupply the poverty of

common

he has recourfe to metaphors and images *
which,

* LoNGiNUS
tion,

is

of opinion, that the ufe of meta-

phors and figures has an admirable efFeil in compofi-

both by heightening

the
;

fublime,

and giving

greater force to the pathetic

and likewife obferves,

that while figures give a particular efficacy to the fub*

lime, they receive equal benefit from

it

in turn

:

Era*

^6 tiruvv crwrof^ov, or*

(pvim ttu;

crvy.'iA.ci^ei

ra

v-^ft

tot,

Sublim. feft. 17.

He

obferves in another place, that the crowding figures
is

together,

a method of exciting the
:

more

violent

com-

motions of the mind
A«g(uj
^i

«ai

VI

ETn tavro

cvvoo^

rcov

tyjificftav

nu^s

xii/jw,

crax

Ttjy

io^w

rv)f

otejOw ro y.u'Kh®^.

De

Sublim. feft. 20.

QyiNTiLiAN
only, in order to

admits of metaphors in an oration
fill

up a vacant place, or when they

have greater force than thofe unornamented exprefiions
in
**

whofe place they are

fubftituted

:

" Metaphora enim
fi

aut vacantem occupare locum debet, aut
venit,

in alieInjiii.

" num
lib. viii.

plus valere eo

quod

expellit."

cap. 6.


end

If

however we

refledl,

that Poetry*

whofe

capital

it is

to pleafe, requires

more orna-

ment than Profe compofition,

in order to the attain-

ment

O

^#-

GENIUS.
may fometimes

i-45

which, though they

occafion

the want of precifion, will always elevate
his
ftile,

as well as give a peculiar dignity
his fentiments *.

and energy to
nal

An

origi-

Author indeed

will frequently be apt to

exceed in the ufe of this ornament, by pour-

ing forth fuch a blaze of imagery, as to
dazzle and overpower the mental fight
efFe6l
;

the

of which
-j-,

is,

that his Writings

become

obfcure

if

not unintelligible to

common
Readers';

ment of

that end,

v.re

fhall

fee the neceflity

of allow-

ing to Poets greater licence in the ufe of metaphors and

imagery, than to any other Authors whatever,

* " Sed
*'

illud

quoque, de quo in argumentis dixi'
genus ornat orationem, facitqne
Itijiit.

mus,

fimilitudinis

*'

fublimem, floridam, jucundam, mirabilem."
cap. 3.
is ftill

lib. viii.

— The above remark,

the Reader will
refpe6l to the

obferve,

more eminently true with

influence of Imagery in Poetry,

f
in

It is a

maxim

laid

down by Quintilian,
illuftrate
:

that

an oration the image (hould be clearer than that
it is

which

adduced to

" Debet enim quod

"
**

illuftrandae alterius

rei

gratia allumitur, ipfum efle
Ibid.

clarius eo

quod illuminat."

He

obferves a
little

L

146
Readers
J

AN ESSAY
jafl as the eye
is

for

fome time

rendered incapable of diftinguifhing the obje6ls

that are prefented to

it,

after

having

fledfaftly

contemplated

the

Sun.

Well

chofen images, happily adapted to the purpofe for which they are adduced, if not too
frequently employed, produce a fine effeft in Poetry.

They impart

a pleafmg gratifi-

cation to the mind, arifing from the difco«

very of the refemblance betwixt the fimili-

tude and the ob)e6l to which

it is

compared

;

they remarkably enliven defcription, at the

fame time that they embellifh
tional graces *
5

it

with addi-

they give force as well as

little

above, that one of the efiential excellencies of
confifts in
its

Imagery
*'

being ufeful for illuftration

:

*' Prfficlare

vero ad inferendam rebus lucem, repertas

funt fimilitudlnes.*'

This likewife

is

one of

its

ufes

in Poetry.

* QuiNTiLiAN,
'*
'*

fpeaking

of metaphors,
:

makes
*'

the following obfervation concerning them
ita

Turn

jucunda atque

nitida, ut in oratione

quamlibet

clara, proprio

tamen lumine

«'

vulgaris efle, ncc humilis,
adfcita poteft."
Ifijiit.

Neque enim nee infuavis, re6le modo
eluceat.

"

lib. viii.

cap, 6.

grandeur

ON GENIUS.
grandeur to the
ftile

147

of Poetry, and are a

principal fource of thofe exquifite fenfations,

which

it

is

calculated to infpire.

On

the

other hand, the too liberal ufe of

imagery

even in Poetry (befides that obfcurity which
it

occafions to the ordinary clafs of Readers,

as well as that fatigue

which the Imaginaexcef^ve glare) fo

tion experiences
difgufts the

from

its

mind with

the perpetual labour

of tracing relations and refemblances, which
cannot always be immediately perceived, that
the tide of paflion
if it
is

by

this

means

diverted,
pleafure-

doth not fubfide,

and the
is

arifing

from
if

poetic imitation

greatly di-

minifhed,

not utterly deftroyed.
is

A Writer
hazard of

however,

who

only poiTefled of a moderate
is

degree of Genius,

in very

little

falling into this extreme.
is

His imagination

not extenfive enough to comprehend thofe
fubfift

remote analogies which

betwixt difit

ferent obje6ls in nature, nor does

poiTefs

force fufficient to

throw

off a bold

and glow:

ing image founded upon fuch analogies

the

performances of fuch an Author therefore

L

2

will

24S

A N

E

S S

AY
arife
;

will either be^tlrely deftitute of the images

of Poetry, excepting fuch as

from the
elfe

moft obvious

relations of ideas
will be

or

thofe

which he adopts

borrowed from Au-

thors of fuperior Genius.

Hence

it is,

that

the images of

Homer

have been

fo often

copied by modern Poets,
sefTed

who
for,

either pos-

not

fertility

of Invention enough to
themfelves, or

ftrike

out new fimilitudes
it.

dared not to exert

A

Poet endued with

a truly original Genius, will however be under no necedity of drawing any of the
terials

ma-

of his compofition from the
;

Works

of preceding Bards

fince

he has an unfail-

ing refource in the exuberance of his

own

Imagination, which will furnifh him with a

redundance of
ticularly

all

thofe materials,

and par-

with an inexhauftible variety of
fplendid imagery,

new and

which mufl be

regarded as one diflinguifliing
ginal poetic Genius.

mark of

ori-

The

fourth and

laft fpecies

of Invention, be in-

by v/hich we obferved

this quality to

dicated.

O.
dicated,

N GENIUS.
An

149
ori-

was that of sentiment.

ginal Genius in Poetry will ftrike out new-

sentiments,

as well as

new

images,

oil

every fubje6l on which he en^ploys his talents
J

and he has the peculiar

felicity

of

flriking out fuch as are moil proper to the

fubjeft

and to the occafion.
is

An

univerfal

Genius

a very extraordinary

phenomenon.

Even

a talent for acquiring excellence in the
art,
is

various branches of any one
rarely beftowed
;

very

fo limited in general are

the faculties of the

human mind. Thus we

feidom find a Genius for Tragedy and Co-

medy, or a Genius for the more fublime
fpecies

of Hidory-painting, and for pieces

of Drollery and
in the

Humour

in

low

life,

united

fame perfon.

We

have already obbeginning of
this

ferved, in a note at the

fe6lion, that there are different kinds, as well
as degrees

of Originality

;

we

are not there-

fore to expe^l, that

an original Genius in
eminence
5

Poetry

fliould

attain

in

every
if

branch of his profeffion

it is

enough

he

diftinguifh himfelf in one branch, whatever

L

3

it

150
it

AN ESSAY.
be.

may

What we would
is

be underftood

to maintain

this

;

that original Genius

will di(5late the

moft proper fentiments on

every fubjecl, and in every fpecies of Poetry,

INDISCRIMINATELY
which
its

;

but that

it

wiU

didlate

the fentiments moll proper to that particular fpecies to
it

is

adapted, and

to
If,

which

it

applies

inventive powers.

for inftance,
to

we

fuppofe this quality adapted
it

Epic Poetry,

will difcover itfelf in the

invention both of fublime and pathetic fentiments,

which

will at

once excite aftonifh-

ment, and penetrate the heart.

To

a per-

fon

who

pofTefles a talent for

this higheft
it

fpecies of Poetry, fuch fentiments are as

were congenial;
fpontaneoufly
to

they arife naturally and
his

imagination.
is

The

fublime, in particular,

the proper walk

pf a great Genius,

in

which

it

delights

to range, and in which alone

it

can

dif-

play
its

its

powers to advantage, or put forth

ftrength.

As fuch a Genius always

at-

tempts to grafp the moft ftupendous ob^
Jeds,

ON GENIUS.
je<5ls

151

*,

it

is

much more

delighted with fur-

veying the rude magnificence of nature, than
the elegant decorations of art j lince the latter

produce only an agreeable fenfation of
but the former throws the foul
-f-

pleafures

into a divine tranfport of admiration

and

amazement.

* LoNGiNUs,

that admirable Critic, illullrates this
:

obfervation very beautifully

Pijvov,

imohv

y

in

/z-«X^oy tov Sly.iccvov.
tirti

Ov

^b

ys ro

v<p' 7)[auv

rart

{p'Koyiov a)iot,xaiOj/.ivov,

Kin^a^av a-u^n to (piyf®^, BXTrXrirloe7^Jff>iOT^//Xc^a;^'

y.i^x rtov a^uviuiv /SAaXAoi*, x«t toi -Ero^^axtj

a

,^£

7UV rh;
;^o«i

Airv/ii;

x^ccT/ifiuv

aliofiay/xaroTsgov vofjui^o^zv,

73^

ai

am-

WET^s? ts BX /SuQa kch o^a? o^Qa^

ai/a(p£^8o-i, ;£«i isTorxiAHi;

anoTE Ts ysva? ixuva xai ccvrs uova vxpo^miri tzrv^©'.
Urn. cap. 35.

De

Sub--

I

The
efFe£bs

above-mentioned excellent Author gives the
of true fublimity

following juft defcription of the nature, charaiteriftics,

and

:

TsTo yap ru

om

[^Bya,,

a

iro'KT^n

(juiv

r,

avac^iufnin^,

hjaxoK^

WflJv?®- cciicrxoi/Tx

K»i

TTXQ'iv.

Ibid, cap, 7.

L

4

The

152

AN E
at the

S S

AY
fills

amazement, which occupies and
mindj and

the

fame time

infpires that

folemn dread, that rehgious awe, which naturally refults

from the contemplation of the

vaft

and wonderful.
is

By

dwelling on fuch
its

fubjedts, the foul

elevated to a fenfe of

own

dignity and greatnefs.

We

obferved likewife,

that

an Author

pofTefled of that

kind and degree of origiis

nal Genius which

adapted to Epic Poetry,
the invention of

will admirably fucceed in

The Roman Critic

judicioufly obferves, that in forrat*

ing our opinion of fublimity in compofition,
to confider the nature of the fubjesS on which

we ought
it is

em-

ployed, and

how

far

it

is

fuitable

to the kind of or-

nament made
is

ufe of; becaufe,

where the

fubjedl itfelf
:

mean, fublimity degenerates into bombaft
*'

Clara

ilia

atque fublimia, plerunque materiae

modo

*' *' **

cernenda funt.

Quod enim
Et

alibi

magnificum, tumi-

dum

alibi.

Et quae humilia

circa res

magnas, apta

circa minores videntur.

ficut in oratione nitida

"
*'

notabile eft humilius verbum,

&

velut

macula:

ita

a fermone tenui fublime nitidumque difcordat, fitque

corruptum, quia in piano tumet."
cap. 3.

Quint,

hjiit.

lib. viii.

PATHETIC

•ON
PATHETIC *
if

G E N

I

US.

153
5

as well as

sublime fentiments

an Author can be
rife

faid to invent fenti-

ments which

to the imagination, in a
volition,

manner by a fimple
labour,

without any-

and

almoft without

any

effort.

Such a perfon being endued with a vivacity

and vigour of Imagination,

as well as

an

exquifite fenfibility of every emotion,

whe-

ther pleafant or painful, which can affedl
the

human

heart, has

nothing

elfe

to do, in

order to

move

the pafiions of others, but to
feelings

reprefent his
lively

own
3

in a ftrong

and

manner

and

to exhibit the obje^l,

event or a6lion he propofes to defcribe, in
that particular attitude or view,

which has

moft powerfully interefted

his

own

affec-

* This talent of

raifing the pafiions

by

fui table re-

prefentations, feems to depend upon an extreme fenfibility

both of pain and pleafure, joined to the power of

defcribing in a lively

which we
there are

ourfelves feel.

are the infeparable

manner thofe exquifite fenfations Both the one and the other concomitants of true Genius ; tho*

many

poflefled of the former,
latter.

who

are not

endued with the

tions.

154

AN ESSAY
will

tions, for that

mofl certainly

intereft

ours

:

we

fhall feel the fame concern, and

{hare in the fame diftrefs *.
this

Having by

means gained an afcendant over our
he will
at

hearts,

pleafure melt
fire

them

into
in-

tendernefs and pity, or

them with

dignation and rage

:

every paffion will be

obedient to his impulfe, as well as fubjed
to his

controul

-,

like

the Poet defcribed
raife

by

Horace,

he

will

in our fouls

* Aristotle
there are various
pity and terror
ticularly

obferves, in his

book on Poetry, that
;

methods of

raifing the pailions

that

may

be excited by external action, pardiftrefs ftrongly

by the fymptoms of

imprefled

upon the countenance ; but that a good Poet will never have recourfe to this method as his only expedient for
moving the
pafiions,

but

v/ill

accomplifh his end by the

very conftitution of his fable, and the affeiling nature

of the relation

itfelf

Ef

»

lASV

av TO (poQt^ov y.ai sXieivov

ex.

td; o-^sug ytvi^at.

Ej-*

ptv Kcci OToirjTou afX.£»vov(^.
ta,va.i

At*

yx^

y.xi

xnv TS

o^av htji aviia-

10V

fHiQoi/

wfe to* ax-Bovra,
ix.

rat 'crga.y^a.'Ta, yivojA^vxy

kcu

tfiptTlsiv Jta4

iXinv

Tuv au^QcuvovTUv,

cap. 14.

every

ON GENIUS.
tible

155

every emotion of which they are fufcep-

f
et

Irritate miilcet^ falfis terrorihus implet

Ut magus^
'Tis he

modo me Thehis^ modo -ponit Athenis,

who gives my breaft a thoufand pains. Can make me feel each pafsion that he feigns
-,

Enrage, compofe with more than magic art
"With pity and with terror tear

my heart And fnatch me o'er the earth, or thro' the air. To 'Thehes, to Athens^ when he will, and where.
Pope.

The

j-

QuiNTiLiAN

confiders the raifing the paffions of

the hearers, and carrying them along by the force of
rapid eloquence, as the higheft eiFort of rhetorical

Ge-

nius
fors

;

and obferves, that though

many of his

predecef-

and cotemporaries

in the rhetorical art excelled in

the argumentative part of eloquence,
in the pathetic
**

kw

had excelled

Qui vero judicem
eflet

rapere,

&

in quern vellet habi-

"
*'

turn animi poflet perducere,

quo di6lo flendum

&

irafcendum

rarius
;

fuit.

Atque hoc

eft

quod

*'

dominatur in

judiciis

haec eloquentiam regunt."

Lib. vi. cap, 3.

\.

With,

4

156

AN ESSAY
fentiments of an Author of this kind *

The

are the natural dictates of the heart,
fi6litious

not
it

or copied, but original

j

and

is

impoffible they

fhould

fail

in

producing

their proper effe6l

upon

the

mind of the

Reader.

Thefe obfervations, by which

we

have endeavoured to fhew
of Genius

how

originality

in the higher fpecies

of Poetry

will difcover itfelf in the invention of fen-

Wiih

refpe6t to the higher fpecies of Poetry,
it is

Tra-

gedy and the Epopcca,
the attainment of

iieedlefs to fay
;

how much
and that to

the pathetic ought to predominate in them
it

in

an extraordinary degree, an emiis

nent exertion of poetic Genius

ellentially requifite.

* In order
caufe,

to

intereft

our aiFedlions deeply in any

and

raife

our paffions to the higheft degree,

LoNGiNUS
the Orator

requires that the emotion and agitation of

who

addreffes us, fhould appear not to be
rife

mechanical or premeditated, but to

immediately
cafe

from the
obferves,

fubje<St

and the occafion
always
feel

;

in

which

he

we

(hall
:

our minds moft power-

fully afFe6ted

Aye* yx^
iitirrt^ivnv

rex.

•mx^nriza. toth (a^xXXov, otccv
b

avea

(paiiiv)ra,i jxjj

xvl©^

Xiycov,

a,>.?i.a

yevvxv b Kcn^<^,

De

Sublirn.

cap. 18.
'

timeht.

ON GENIUS.
timent,
rior

157
its

are equally applicable to
;

infe-

fpecies

fmce,

as

we have

obferved,

original Genius will diflinguifh

itfelf

by the

invention of
je6l to

new
it

fentiments
itfelf.

on every fub-

which

applies

Having coniidered the

different fpecies

of

Invention, which appear
iftical

to be chara6lerfhall point

of original Genius,
properties

we

out

fome other
diftinguifli

which

indicate

and

it.

Vivid and piclurefque defcription, therefore,

we

confider as one of thefe.
is

In the

fphere of Poetry, there

an

infinite variety

of obje6ts and

fcenes,

adapted to the differcontemplate them.

ent taftes of thofe

who

A Writer however,
mon

of the kind above-men-

tioned, difregarding the beauties of a

com-

landfcape, fixes his eye

on

thofe de-

lightful

and unfrequented

retreats, which are
:

impervious to

common

view

to drop the

metaphor, out of the multiplicity of fubje6ts

which

his imagination prefents to

him,
he

158
he
fele6ls

A N

E

S S

AY
and adorns
thefe

fuch as are moft fufceptible of the

graces of poetic defcription,

with

all

the luxuriance of an exuberant

Imagination.

We fhall

readily confefs, that
is

a talent for defcription

by no means fo
a quality in

RADICAL and DISTINGUISHING

the conftitution of original Genius, as any

of the fpecies of Invention above-mentioned
3

yet this talent,

when

pofTefled in

a

high degree, bears
nality,

alfo the

flamp of

origi-

however the impreffion may be fomefainter
;

what

and in the

defcriptive pieces
trace the vi-

of an original Author,
vacity, the wildnefs,

we can

and the flrength of his
will

Imagination.

Such pieces

always be
infe-

eafily diftinguifhed

from thofe of an
in

rior

Author, which,

comparifon with
trivial,

the former,

will be languid,

and

common.

A

perfon

who

is

deftitute

of Genius,

dif-

covers nothing

new

or difcriminating in the

objeds which he furveys.

He

takes only a

general and fuperficial view of them, and
is

ON
is

GE N

I

U

S.

159

incapable of difcerning thofe minute pro-

perties, or of reliihing thofe particular

and

diftinguifliing beauties,

which a

lively

Ima-

gination,

united with an exquilite Tafle,

can alone enable a
mire.

man

to conceive

and ad-

The

defcriptions of fuch a perfon (if
necefTarily

he attempts to defcribe) muft

be

unanimated, undiftinguifliing, and uninterefting; for as his imagination hath prefented to

him no

diftin6l or vivid idea

of

the fcenes or objeds he has contemplated,
it;

is

impoffible he fhould be able to give a

particular
it

and pi6lurefque reprefentation of

to others.
is

A Poet,

on the other hand,
feels

who
upon

poflefled

of original Genius,

in

the ftrongeil

manner every impreffion made
or by refle6lion

the mind, by the influence of external

obje6ls

on the

fenfes,

on

thofe ideas

which

are treafured
is

up

in the re-

pofitory of the

memory, and

confequently

qualified to exprefs the vi^city

and ftrength

gf his

own

feelings.

If

we

fuppofe a perfon

endued with
jects

this quality to defcribe real

ob-

^d;

fcenes, fuch as are either immedi-"

ately

i6o

A N
j

E

S S

AY

ateiy prefent to his fenfes, or recent in his

remembrance
vivid colours,

he will paint them in fuch
vi^ith

and

fo

many

pi6ture(que

circumftances, as to convey the fame lively

and

fervid ideas to the
pofTefled

mind of the Reader,
the imagination

which

and
If

filled

of the Author.

we

fuppofe

him

to de-

fcribe unreal objefts or fcenes,

fuch as exift
exift,

not in nature, but

may

be fuppofed to

he

will prefent to us a fucceffion of thefe

equally various and wonderful,
creation of his
;

the mere

own fancy and by the ftrength
As

of his reprefentation, will give to an illufion
all

the force and efficacy of a reality.

all his

defcriptions will be vivid, fo all his

fcenery will be rich

and luxuriant

in the

higheft degree, fo as to evidence the extent,

the copioufnefs, and the
gination.

fertility

of his ima-

That

vivacity

of defcriptlon, which
chara61:eriftical

we

have obferved to be

of a

great Genius, will in the writings of an original one be of a kind peculiar

and uncom-

mon.

ON GENIUS,
mon,
ObjeiSls or events

i6t

may

be viewed in

very difrerent lights by different perfons, and

admit of great variety in the reprefentation.
In the defcriptions wherein fabhmity
quired, an
fix
is

rewill

Author of

original

Genius

on thofe circumftances that may

raife

our

ideas of the object he endeavours to re-

prefent to the utmoft pitch.

Thus

the en-

raptured Prophet, in defcribing the defcent

of the Almighty,

is

not contented with re-

prefenting the inhabitants of the earth as in

a confternation,

and the whole mafs of
3

matter as agitated at his approach

but

rifes

much
fenfe

higher in his defcription, and gives
as

well as motion to the inanimate
:

parts of the creation

The mowtfamsfaw

thee,

and

they trembled-, the overflowing

of

the

water

pajjed by.

Then
:

follows a bold

and happy
and

profopopoeia
lift

The Deep uttered

his voice,

up

his

hands on high.

The former

part of

the defcription, where the Prophet

makes

the mountains fenfible of the approach, and

tremble at the prefence of Jehovah,

is

truly

fublime, as thefe eife6ls give us a high idea

M

of

i62

A N
latter part

E
of

S S

AY
;

of the majefty and power oF the Ahnlghty

but the
voice

it,

where he attributes
is

and adion to the great Deep,
is

re-

markably grand, and
moll:

indeed one of the
perfonifications

flriking

and daring
met with

that are to be

either in the facred

or profane writings.
great and

It is

by fixing on fuch
that

uncommon
;

circumftances,

an original Author
of his Genius

difcovers the fublimity

circumftances which, at the

fame time that they fhew the immenfity of
liis

conceptions, raife our admiration

and

afloniOiment to the higheil degree.

To
we

the particular

and

eflential

ingre-

dients of original Genius above enumerated,
fhaii fubjoin three others
;

of a more geare as cha-

neral nature
racteriftical

which however

of this

uncommon endowment,
its

and

as

much

diflinguiih

produ6lions, as
fpeci-

any of the particular properties above
fied.

Thefe are an irregular great-

ness, vviLDNEss, and
gination.

ENTHUSIASM of Imahave ju ft nowmentioned

The

qualities vve

O-'fi
tiientloned

GENIUS.
diilin6l
allied,

163
;

are

from each other

but as they are nearly

and are com-

monly found
6ne
clafs,

together,

we

include
as

them

in

confidering

them

unitedly

forming one general indication of elevated

and

original

Genius

;

though, for the fake
treat

6f

precifion,

we

fliall

of them fepa-

rately.

Firff

we

obferved,

that

irregular
chara61:er-

GREATNESS of Imagination was
iftical

of ORIGINAL Genius.
is

This expref*
iignifica-

iibh
tibh,

a

little

equivocal
it

in. its

and therefore

will

be neceflary
confi-

to dfcertain the fenfe in

which we

der

it.

^

An IRREGULAR GREATNESS
is

of Imaginato

tion

fometimes

fuppofed

imply a

mixture of great beauties and blemifhes,
blended together in any work of. Genius
j

and thus we frequently apply
writings of
cies are as

it

to

the

Shakespear, whofe
tranfcendent,

excellen-

as his faults, are

M

2

con-

i64

AN ESSAY
Without
or denying
reje6ling this fenfc

eonfpicuous.

ahogether,

that

an original
by his imper-

Author

will be diflinguiQied

fe6lions as well as by his excellencies, we

may

pbferve, that the. expreflion above-mentioned
is:

capable of a jufter and

more determinate
It

meaning than

that juft fpecified.

may,
|p

we

think, be

more properly underftood

fignify that native

grandeur of fentiment
reflraint, ^s
is

^l^hich difclaims

all

iubjed to

no

certain rule,

and

therefore various

and

unequal.

In

this fenfe principally

we condiffi-

fider the expreflion,

and

are

under no

culty in declaring, that

an irregular greatis

nefs of Imagination, as thus explained,

one remarkable criterion of exalted and
original Genius.

A

perfon

who

is

poflelTed

of
to

this quality, naturally turns his

thoughts

the contemplation

of the Grand and

Wonderful, in nature or in

human

life,

in

the viiible creation, or in that of his
fancy.

own

Revolving

thefe

awful and magni-

ficent fcenes in his

muling mind, he labours
eompofitions the ideas

to

exprefs

in

his

which

ON GENIUS.
"wKicn dilate and fwell his Imagination
is
j

165
but

often unfuccefsful in his efforts.
thefe,

In athimfelf

tempting to reprefent
embarrafled
;

he

feels

words are too weak to convey

the ardor of his fentimentSj

and he

fre-

quently fmks under the immenfity of his

own
will

conceptions.

Sometimes

indeed

he

be happy enough to paint his very

thought, and to excite in others the very
fentiments which he himfelf feels
:

he will

not always however fucceed fo well, but, on
the contrary, will often labour in a fruitlefs

attempt; whence

it

fhould feem, that
certain occafions

his compofition will

upon

be diflinguifhed by an irregular and unequal
greatnefs.

Whether
whether
tuofity

this quality is to

be afcribed to

the caufe above-mentioned in particular ; or
it is

the effedl of that fiery impe-

of Imagination,

which,

breaking

through the legal
overleaping the

reflraints

of criticifm, or
authority and

mounds of
lofes

cuftom,

fometimes

fight

©f the Juft

M

3

and

i66

AN

g
it

S S
is

AY
in purfuit ^f the

and Natural, while

New
rife

and Wonderful, and, by attempting to

above the fphere of Humanity, tumbles
its

frorn
it
is

towering height

j

or

laftly,

whether

to. b,e

ultimately derived

from the un-

avoidable imperfeftion of the
ties,

human

facul-

which admit not of perpetual extfnand are apt to
-,

fibn,

flag in

along, thoi^g^

rapid flight
«:aufe

whichfoever of thefe

may

be thq

of the phenomenon above- mention-,
all

ed, or whether,

of them
it is,

may

contribute

to .produce

it,

certain

that an irregular

greatnefs of Imagination, implying unequal

and difproportioned

grandeur,

is

always
prigir
themes-

difcernible in the compolitions of

an
is

nal Genius, however elevated, and
fore

an univerfal

chara6leriftic of fuch a

Genius*.
It

*

LoNGiNUS
is
;

maintains, that a high degree of fub-

limity
tion

utterly inconfiftent with accuracy of imagina-

and that Authors of the moft elevated Genius,
that they are capable of rifing to the

at the farne time

greateft excellencies, are Jikevvife

moft apt to commit
trivial

:

ON
It deferves

G E N

J

U

S.

167

however to be obferved, that
is

the imperfe<5lion here fuggefled,
effe6t

a natural

and a certain proof of an exuberant
Ordinary minds feldom
rife

Imagination.

above the dull uniform tenor of commote
fentiments,
like

thofe

animals

that

are
all

condemned

to

creep

on the ground

the days of their life; but the moft lawlefS

excurfions of an original Genius,

like

the flight of an eagle, are towering,

though

devious

;

its

path, as the courfe of a co-,

met,

is

blazing, though irregular

and

its

tjivig.1,

faults,

while they are aiming at diftinguifhed
this affertion is pretty nearly
it

beauties.

As

of the fame

import with that above advanced,

may not be im-

proper to confirm our fentiments by the authority of fo

eminent a Critic

Eyw
pas.

Oioiz

fA-iV}

oi<;

em DTTE^woXaf |iAeye6«j <pv<Tn imTCi kx^cC'
osk^iSs;, KiySvv<^ aiJi,iy.^orrf\©^'
iek

To

ycc^

iv nyoivri

oi rot?

ui.iyi^i(TiV,

uiT'Tti^ tv

roK; ayccv 'nr^.sToij, nva.\
^i

n

%^i7

y.a,i

'sra^oXijj^bp

yupajjuevp]/.,
jix,<;, -/.xi. fjt.effa,(;

wore

tSto

nm

a,iio(,]y.a.ioi/

«, to ras?

Txtth-

^vffEi?* ^'a to [Ayi^a.^1/1 '^s'tx^KKiMviiivsn,.

(/^ni^i

Elpn^ui

TuJv

ay.^oiy, «va,j!,wi;§T'/5Ta?

w^

etti

to ttroTw

xsci a.a'(pa'KiTBSxq ^ixjju-

no/'

rx

^E

/xeyaXa iarir^a>,n

^i ctvio yiy£(&«j to (/.tye^©'.

De

Sublim. kdl, 33.

M

4

errors

i68
errors
table.

AN ESSAYand
excellencies are equally inimi-

We obferved
nation.

that original

Genius

is

like-

wife diftinguifhed by a wildness of Imagi-

This quality,

fo

clofely

allied

to

the former, feems alfo to proceed from the

fame caufes
fallible

5

and

is

at the

fame time an inand
luxuriant

proof

of a

fertile

fancy.

Wildness
is

of imagery, fcenery and
a playful

fcntiment,

the

pastime of
5

and
its

^Iportive Imagination

it

is

the effed of
is

^exuberance.

This character

formed by
moft extraideas,
j

an

arbitrary afiemblage of the

,yagant,

uncommon, and romantic
difplayed
in

-united in the moft fanciful combinations

and

is

grotefque figures,
in

in

furprifing

fentiments,
defcription.

pifturefque

and
of
dis-

inchanting

The

quality
it

which we are

treating, wherever

is

covered, will afford fuch a delicious enter-

tainment to the mind, that
be ever
fitely

it

can fcarce

fatisfied
J

with a banquet fo exquifatiety

prepared

being prevented by a fuc-

ON GEN
a
fucceffion of dainties,

I

US.

169

ever various

and

ever new.

The
original

laft quafity

by which we affirmed
v\^as

Genius to be charaflerifed,
*.

an

ENTHUSIASM of Imagination

It

fre-

quently

* .Thofe who have a
of

curiofity to

Plato

concerning the
/<?;

know enthusiasm
by the Mufes

the opinion

of Poetry,
that all

may

confult his

where h« exprefly

afierts,
;

true Poets are divinely infpired

that they

are incapable in their fober fenfes to

compofe good

verfesi and that therefore, in order to their

becoming

excellent in their profeffion,

it is

neceflary they fhould

be hurried out of themfelves, and, like Bacchanals, be
transported by a kind of divine fury.

As

his opinion,

however, upon
our fentiments

this point, will give a ftrong fanftion to

on that Enthuliafm of Imagination
prefent the Reader with

which we

have obferved to diftinguifli original poetic
fhall

Genius, we

two

ftiort

extrails from the above-mentioned Dialogue, very exprefTive of his idea

concerning poetic Infpiration
EvOsof j [iiv

:

'Ovru

oi j^i

fi

Morcra

'mom

ccvrit,

Jta ii ruv tv^mit
lo. p.

TODTWi' a'K'Kwv iv^ovcnct^ovruvy o^^afi©' e^en^ratleti.

3640

Socrates
Atyovffi
jxsv

(for

he

is

the fpeak^r) adds a
ot 'moii/)Tan ort

little after

:

^>57rof Gev

•m^'^ ^;*a;

awo

K^t^vav fte-

170

A N
is

E

S S

AY

quently happens, that the original meaning

of a word

loft

or become obfolete, and

another very different one,
dent, cuftom or caprice,
flituted in its place.
is

through acciordinarily fub-

Sometimes exprefTions,

which have been
fenfe, ^re,

anciently taken in a

good

by a ftrange perverfion of lan-

guage,

ufed in a bad

one

;

and by

thi-s

means they become obnoxious upon account
of the
ideas,

which, in their

common
is

accep-

tation they excite.

This

is

the cafe with

the word enthusiasm, which
verfally taken in a

almoft uni-

bad fenfe; and, being

conceived to proceed from an overheated

and diftempered imagination,
to imply weaknefs, fuperftition,
nefs.
is

is

fuppofed

and madfenfe,
i

Enthusiasm,
no

in this

modern

in

refpe6t a qualification of a Poet

x«.i

js|ov.
y.a,}

Ka» 8
Vjt^^wv,

'sypuirBPov

oi^

ts

momv
iv

cc^iv av £>6c©' te

ys-

yYiTcii

xay

o vyj

[ji,vjy.BTi

avru) £>«*

ew? o

etv

rovTi

in

ON GENIUS.
of divine inspiration
-f*,

171

in the ancient fenfe, which implied a kind

or an ardor of

Fancy wrought up

to Tranfport,
it

we not

^nly admit, but deem

an

efTential one.

A glowing ardor
(if

of Imagination

is

indeed

we may

be permitted the expreflion) the
It
is

y^ry foul of Poetry.

the principal

fource of inspiration; and the Poet
is

who

pOiTefled

of

it,

like the Delphian Prieftefs,

is

animated with a kind of divine fury.
intenfenefs

The

and vigour of

his fenfa-

tions produce that

enthusiasm of Imagiwere hurries the mind
is

nation,

which
itfelf
5

as

it

out of

and which

vented in

warm

and vehement
fufceptible

defcription, exciting in every

bread the fame emotions that
himfelf.
It is this

were

felt

by the Author

enthusiasm which
to

gives life

and ftrength
renders

poetical

reprefentations,

them

ftriking imitations of nature,

and thereby

•}•

The

etymology of the word enthusiasm, which
its

is

«9e^> will afcertain

original (en^t,

produces

172

A N
is

E

S S

AY
Withand
arid

produces that inchanting delight which ge-

nuine Poetry
out
this

calculated to infpire.
all

animating principle,
compolitions are

poetical

rhetorical

fpiritlefs

languid, like thofe bodies that are drained

of their

vital

juices

:

they are therefore
j

read with indifference or infipidity

the

harmony of

the numbers, if harmonious,

may

tickle the ear, but being deftitute of
is

nerves, that

of paflion and fentiment, they
the heart.

can never

afFe61:

Thus we have
ginal Genius

pointed out and illuftrated

the moft diftinguifhing ingredients of oriin Poetry
;

we

fhall

conclude

the prefent fe6lion with inquiring into the
firft

and moft natural exertions of Genius in

this divine art.

We
effays

may

venture then to lay

it

down

as

a pofition highly probable,

that the

firft

of original Genius will be in allevisions,

gories,

or the creation of ideal

beings, of one kind or another.

There

is

no

ON GENIUS.
no kind of Invention,
gination, than in that of
in
fuller fcope afforded to the exercile

ijj
is

which there

of Ima-

allegory; which
by no means

has this advantage over moft other fables,
that
in
it

the

Author

is

refl:ri6led
is

to fuch

an exa6l probability, as

required in thofe fables that ipftrudl us

by

a

reprefentation
real,

of

a6lions,

which,

though not
fuch
.as

mud

always however be

might have ha-ppened.

Let

it

be

obferved, that

we

are here fpeaking of al*".

LEGORY
like the

in

its

utmoft latitude.
is

We
it,

are not

ignorant that there

a fpecies of

which,

Epic

fable, attempts to inftrud:

by

the invention of a feries of incidents ftriclly

probable.
iiig

Such are the beautiful and

ftrik-

ALLEGORIES Contained

in different parts

of the Sacred Writings.

But there
fable, in

is

an-

other kind of
there
lity.
it
is

ALLEGORICAL

which

very

little

regard fhewn to probabiis

Its

obje6l alfo

inftruftion

;

though

does not endeavour to inftru6l by real or
;

probable adlions
exaggerated,

but wrapt in a

veil

of
fic-

yet delicate

and appofite

tion.

tion,

is

fludious

at

once to deligBt tRe

imagination, and to imprefs fome import-

ant
is

maxim upon

the mind.

Of

this kind'

xht Fairy ^leenof Spenser.

As

in this

fpecies

of allegory,
true,

we
is

neither expefV
j

what

is

nor what

like the truth

fo'

we

read fuch fabulous compofition^, partly
fake of the- morals

i^ttht

they cohtaiii,

but principally for the fake of gratifying
that curiolity fo deeply implanted
in the'

human mind, of becoming acquainted with new and marvellous events. We are in
this

cafe

in

a

great

meafure upon our
^

guard again ft the delufions of fancy
highly pleafed with the narrative,

are'

though"

we do

not allow
ofeftain^

it

ta impofe upon us {o
credit.

far as to

OUT

Yet fuch

is

the power bf ingenious

fi<5lion

over our

minds,
aiid

that

we

are

not

only captivated

interefted*

by a relation of furprifing
but,
leaft,

ihcidentSi

though very improbable,

during the time of the relation at

we
/-'

forget that they are fidlitious,

and

al-

mpft fancy them to be red.

This

deceit,

however.

ON GENIUS.
however,,
in
lafls

175
perufal,

no longer than the

which we

are too

much

agitated to re-

fie6l

on the probabihty or improbability
5

of the events related

but when- that
iri.

is

over, the inchantment vaniflies

the coollefC

moment
admit
ble.

of deliberation;

and,

being

at leilure to
as

think and reafon,

we

never

true

what

is

not

ftriclly

proba-

.As.mt

are: treating

of allegorical fables,

it.may^ not -be a mils to obferve, with re-

gard to the kind
cular,- that

laft

mentioned

in partitp. it^

the

liberties

indulged

though' prodigioufly various and extenfive^
are

not however without certain

reflric-'

tions.

Thus, though we- do not require

probability in the general contexture of the
fable,
feirvedi

juftnefs
in'

of manners mufl be preas

this,

well

as

in

the

othep
iiioi-*

fpecieS'

of fabulous compofition; the

dents muft be fuitable to the cli^ra(aer§> to

which they
dents

are

accommodated; thoib

iilci-

muft

likewife

deafly point dut oP

imply

176

A N
;

E

S S

AY
rl-

imply the moral they are intended to
luftrate

and they muft,
Imagination,

in order to capti-

vate the

be

new and
each
thefe

fur-

prifmg,

^t the fame time
confident

that they are to

be
It

perfectly
is

with
that

other.
flight

evident

however,

reftraints

prove no real impediment to the

natural impulfe and excurfions of Genius,

but that they ferve rather to point and regulate
evident,
its

courfe.
this

It
laft

is

likewife

equally
fpecies

that

mentioned
field

of Allegory prefents a noble
difplay of a rich

for the

and luxuriant Imaginait,

tion

;

and that
fertility

to excel in

requires the
fince every

utmoft

of Invention,

mafterly compofition of this kind muft be
the mere creation of the Poet's fancy.

We
Genius
sions.

obferved likewife,

that

original

will naturally difcover itfelf in vi-

This

is

a fpecies of fidion, to fuc-

ceed in which with applaufe, requires as

much
of

poetic Infpiration as

any other

Ipecies

compofition

whatever.

That Enthuliafm

ON GENIUS.
fiafm of Imagination, which

J77
confidered

we

as an efiential charafteriftic of original
nius,
is

Ge-

indifpenfibly neceflary to the en-

raptured Bard,
ers feel thofe

who would make
his

his

Read-

impetuous tranfports of paflion

which occupy and actuate

own mind.

He

muft himfelf be wrought up to a high

pitch of extafy, if he experts to throw us
into
it.

Indeed

it is

the peculiar fehcity of

an

original

Author

to feel in the

moft exfee

quifite

degree every emotion,

and to

every fcene he defcribes.
effort

By

the vigorous

of a creative Imagination,

he

calls

fhadowy fubftances and unreal
exiftence.

objects into

They

are

prefent to his view,

and

glide, like fpedres, in filent, fullen

ma-

jefty,

before his aftonifhed and intranced

fight.

In reading the defcription of fuch

apparitions,

we

partake of the Author's

emotion

;

the blood runs chill in our veins,
fliffens

and our hair

with horror.

It

would

far exceed the

bounds prefcribed
all

to this EfTay, to point out

the particular

N

ty%
lar tracks

AN ESSAY
which an original Genius
will

ftrike out in the extenfive fphere of

Imaand

gination, as thofe paths are fo various

devious.
ferve,

In the

mean time we may obhand of Nature hath
minds with a
different

that as

the

ilamped

different

kind and degree of Originality, giving each

a particular bent
purfuit
j

to

one certain object or

original

Authors will purfue the

track marked out by Nature, by faithfully

following which they can alone hope for

immortality to their writings and reputation.

Thus while one Writer, obeying
his

the impulfe

of his Genius, difplays the exuberance of

Fancy

in the beautiful
;

and furprifing

fidions of Allegory
fertility

another difcovers the
his Imagination, as

and extent of

well as the juftnefs of his Judgment, in the

condu6l of the Epic or Dramatic Fable, in

which he

raifes

our admiration, our

terror,

or our pity, as occafion

may

require.

Upon

the whole,

we

need not hefitate to

affirm, that original

Genius will probably
difcover

ON GENIUS.
difcover itfelf either in

179

allegories, visions,

or in the creation of ideal figures of one

kind or another.
will

The

probability that

it

do

fo,

is

derived from that innate ten-

dency to FICTION which diftinguifhes fuch
a Genius,

and from the natural

bias

of

FICTION

to run in this particular channel:

for the Imagination of a Poet, whofe

Ge-

nius

is

truly Original, finding

no

obje6ls in

the viflble

creation

fufRciently

marvellous
fcope to

and new, or which can give
the exercife of
its

full

powers, naturally burfls

into the ideal world, in quefl of
prifing

more
it

fur-

and wonderful

fcenes,

which

ex-

plores with infatiable curiofity, as well as

with exquifite pleafurej and depending
its

iri

excurfion wholly

on

its

own

ftrength,

its f^accefs

in this province of

fiction wiU

be proportionable to the

plaftic

power of

which

it

is

poflefTed.

In cafe however the

pofition juft advanced fhould appear pro-

blematical to fome,

we

fhall

confirm

it

by

^arguments drawn from experience, which
will ferve to fhew, that

original Poetic

N

2

Genius

:

i8o

A N
manner above

E

& S

A Yv
its

Genius hath
the

in facl exerted
fpecified *.

powers

in-

In proof of thi5

afiertion,

we might

ad-

duce the whole fyftem of heathen Mytho-

* LoNGiNUs confiders the introducing
one of the boldeft

vifions into

compofition, and the fupporting them with propriety,
as
efforts

either of Rhetorical or

Poetic Genius.

He

obfervesy

that

they contribute

much
flcac:y

to the grandeur, to the fplendor,

and

to the ef-

of an oration in particular

fMi

at

(pccvrao'ux.i

tcra^ao'yisva.rixurxlat'
fji,iV

tiJa/XowotVaj

uvrai
iyyornA,ce,

ivioi Xeyovcri.

KaXeiTon

yoe,^

Koivug (pavracna,, iiruv
i^iuz

Tioyov yinrjTtxov oiruarav

irat^ts-ajiAEpov*

^ tvi nrsruv xiKpa,-

After heaving given this account of the nature and
effe6l of a vifion introduced into

an oration, he obferves,
adapted to
j

that there

is

a difference betwixt vifions

Rhetoric, and fach as are adapted to Poetry

but that

they both concur in producing a violent commotion pf

mind
n?
mrx^x

:

y

iTEfaii

ii

g'>!Tog»x»j

^avrccffia,

^nXtrut, *at
ftti* t»

iri^oii

x

'BTofnrxK;,

ax uv ha^ot

ere,

a^ art

r^i

otoj^jitU TtJK©"

eW«^»jTov«r» TO ffvfKS>nvvi[A-vov.

Ibid.

Hi*

ON GENIUS.
logy.

iBi

What

are

all

the fabulous

and

alle-

gorical relations of antiquity concerning the nature,

generation,

powers and

offices

of

the Pagan Deities,

but the inventions of
Poets and Priefls were
all

men

of Genius

?

unqueftionably the original Authors of
the Theological

Syflems

of the Gentile

world.

A

ray, ultimately derived

from

di-

vine Revelation, did fometimes indeed burft

through the cloud of
foon obfcured,
perilitions of
if

human «rror,

but was

not fmothered, by the fu;

men

and

oral Tradition, that

fallacious guide,

was buried under a mafs
folly.

of abfurdity and

Though

the hea-

then Theology muft be confefled to be the
dilgrace

and degradation of human
alfo

reafon,

yet it

muft

be acknowledged to be a re-

markable proof of the creative power of

human Imagination that we condemn it
muft admire
tion.
it

;

and

at the

fame time

as a religious Creed,

we

as a fyftem of ingenious Ficall

The

Greek Theology was of

other

fyftems the moft ingenious.
feut fanciful

account,

What a ftrange, may we coIle6t from
3
thofe

N

rSz

A

ISr

ESSAY
Homer
and Hesiod,

thofe ancient Authors,

of the nature and employment of the nu-

merous

Deities

which Gr^^c^ acknowledged ?

We

find the celeftial Divinities,

Jupiter

and Juno, Minerva and Venus,

Mars

and Apollo, fometimes quaffing nedlar in
their golden cups,
in indolent

and repofing themfelves
ferved by

tranquillity,

Hebe,\
fwift-

and attended by

Mercury,
:

the

winged meffengef of the Gods
times

at other

we

fee

them mixing among the ^remof'^'

jan and Orm*^« hofts, taking part in
tal

quarrels,
;

as

partiality

or favour diccaufe they
it

tated

infpiring the

army whofe

embraced with

their counfel,
;

and aiding

by

their

power

driving

on or flemming

the tide of battle, and alternately haftening

and retarding the decrees of

fate.

Geres
is

has the earth for her province, and

the

bounteous giver of the golden grain

;

Nep-

tune fways
and Pluto,

the ocean with his trident;
feated

on

his throne in

gloomy

raajefty, rules the

dominions of the world
as proofs

below.

Need we mention,

of wild

and

ON GENIUS.
and exuberant Fancy, the
pleafures

183

and

beauties of Elyjium, contrafted with the tor-

ments and horrors of dark Tartarus

f

Need

we mention
Phlegethon
;

the black Cocytus^ the flaming

the punifhment of

Tantalus,

the ever-rolling ftone of Sisyphus, the wheel

of IxioN, and the
of the Danaids
F

fruitlefs

perpetual labours

It

would be

impra61:icable,

as well

as

tedious and unneceflary to enumerate the
vail multitude of fubordinate Deities

which

Greece adored.

All nature was replenifhed

with them
its

;

and each particular part bad

tutelar Divinity.
train of

Thus

while

Diana
Ha^

and her

woodland nymphs, toge-

ther with her minifters the Dryads and

madryadsy were adored by huntfmen as the

Sovereigns of the woods,

Pan

received the

homage of
the rural

the fimple fhepherds, was coniir

dered as the Guardian of their flocks, and

the oaten

God who taught them to play on pipe. To thefe we may join the

Satyrs and Fawns, the Naiads of the rivers

N

4

fporting

i84
fporting

A N

E

S S

AY
and the

on the limpid ftream,
fea rifing

nymphs of the

with Thetis from

their watry beds,

and
j

lightly floating

on the

furface of the waves

the ftory of

Prome-

theus chained
animate

to a rock,
fire

and devoured by

vulturs, for flealing
his

from Heaven, to

workmanfliip of clay ; the loves

of Jupiter and

Leda;

the fable of

Mi;

nerva's

ifTuing

from the head of Jupiter

the wars of the latter with the Giants, the fi6lion of

and

Vulcan's being hurled from

Heaven, with hideous ruin and combuftion,

by the wrath of the Olympian King.

We

may

farther add thofe exquifite inventions

of the Mufes and Graces, of Fortune and
the Fates, of Auguries and Oracles, of the
fprings of Helicon^
najfusy

and

infpirations of Par--

the dreams of
J

Pwdus and

the Aonian
-j

maids

the

expedition

of the Argonauts

the labours of Hercules and of

Theseus

3

the fabulous, but pleafing relations of the

golden age

;

the contention of the Goddefles
j

on mount

Ida, for the prize of beauty

the

admirable allegory of Prodicus, in which
Virtue

O N
drefling

G E N

I

U

S.

185

Firtae and Pleafure arc introduced as ad-

Hercules, and the

excellent alle-

gorical pi6lure of

human

life

by Cebes

:

all

which ingenious

fables confidered together,

and many more of them that might be mentioned, are ftriking indications of the plaftic

power of the human mind, and undeniable
proofs of true Genius in the original Inventers.

From

this general

and imperfect view of
it

the Greek Mythology,

is

evident,

that

original Genius did in ancient Greece always

difcover itfelf in allegorical Fiflion, or in

the creation of ideal figures of one kind or

another

;

in inventing

and adding new

fa-

bles to the received fyftem

of Mythology, or

in altering and improving thofe that

had

been already invented.

The immenfe and
centuries,

multifarious fyftem of the Greek Theology

was a work of many

and
it

rofe

gradually to that height in which
appears.
to
it

now
made

Some

additions were daily
lively

by the Poets and men of

Imagination,

lU
nation,
till

AN ESSAY
that huge pile of Superftition
its

was completed, which, in
fo flriking a

ruins, exhibits

monument of human
If,

ingenuity
alledged,

and

folly.

after

what has been

any one

fliould queftion

whether the fabu-

lous Theology
or' indication

now
of

confidered, be

an

effedl

we would only defire him to fuppofe the Mythology of Homer annihilated. What a blank would fuch annihilation make in the divine Iliad f Deftitute of its celeftial maoriginal Genius,
chinery,

would

it

not be in a great meafure
?

an inanimate mafs

It

would

at leaft lofe

much

of that variety,

dignity and granin
it

deur, which

we admire
pleafing

at prefent,

and

much of that
which
Imagination.

and furprifing

fidtion,

gives fuch exquifite delight

to the

It

would be
laid

eafy to confirm the pofitioi^

we have

down, that original Geniu^
itfelf

always difcovers

in Allegories, Vifions,

or the invention of ideal Chara6lers,

by

examples drawn from the paftern and the
Egyfiian

ON GENIUS.
fhall

187

Egyptian Mythology, which was fo full of

Fable and hieroglyphlcal Emblems; but

we

wave the confideration of
after

thefe as fu-

perfluous,

what hath

been already

urged, and conclude this part of our fubje6l

with obferving, that the Eaftern manis,

ner of writing
ra6lerifed

and hath ever been cha-

by a remarkable boldnefs of fen-

timent and expreffion, by the moft rhetorical

and poetical

figures of fpeech

;

and

that

many

of the compofitions of the Eaft-

ern
fions

nations

abound with
;

Allegories,

Vife-

and Dreams
admirable

of which
in

we have
the

veral

examples

facred

Writings.

SECTION

iS8

.AN ESSAY

SECTION
O F

IV.

ORIGINAL

GEN
IN

i-^tr

s

THE OTHER

FINE ARTS,
THOUGH
moft advantageous
nius
5

it

is

Poetry that affords

the ampleft fcope for the exertion of

the powers of Imagination,
difplay of

and for the

original GequaUty

yet a very high degree of this

may
Arts,

be difcovered in fome of the other fine

and a greater or
s

lefs

degree of

it

in

all

of them

as they are all indebted,

though

not equally, to that faculty by which

we

have

O
conftituted.

N'

GENIUS.

1^

have fhewn true Genius to be principally

Having eonfidered the

exertions of ori-

ginal Genius

in Poetry at great length in

the preceding fe6lion,

which indeed was

the principal intention of this Eflay,
{hall

we

in

the

prefent

feflion,

in

order to

render the deiign more complete, point out,

though with greater

brevity, the efforts
liberal Arts,

of

Genius in the other

and en-

deavour to afcertain the degree in which
it

will exert

itfelf

in each of them.

Of
firfl:

thefe

the art of Painting claims our

attention.

To

an eminence in certain branches of

this art, the greateft fhare of Imagination,

next to what

is

required in Poetry, feem.s

to be eflentially neceflary.

Other branches
lefs

however there

are, in

which a much
is requifite,

proportion of this talent

and in

which indeed original Genius cannot be
difplayed.

We omit,

as foreign to

our purpofe^,

190

A N E

S

S

AY'

pofe, the conlideration of thefe inferior de-

partments in the art of Painting, though
fuccefsful attempts in

them may

indicate a

great deal of ingenuity and (kill; regard-

ing only thofe higher

clafTes,

in

which orito

ginal Genius may
vantage.

exert

itfelf

ad-

We

may

obferve in general, that as the
is

.power of Invention
ingredient of
fine Arts,

the diftinguifhing
all
thie
ifi

original Genius in
;

as well as in Science
is

fo,

whatever degree Invention
either

difplayed in

of

thefe, in the

fame degree origina-

lity of Genius
This diftin£lion

will always be difcovered.'
will exclude all

portraits
and many

in Painting, however excellent,

descriptive pieces in Poetry, though copied from nature, from any pretenfions to

Originality,

llridtly

conlidered.

Both

may

difcover great vivacity
i

and ftrength of
is

Imagination

but as there
either,

no

fi<5lion,

nothing invented in

they can only

be regarded

at beft as the firft

and moft
complete

ON GENIUS.
In

igi

complete copies of the true originals.

common

language indeed we talk of

ORIGINAL
pi6lures

portraits,

by which we mean
life.

drawn from the

The

pro-

priety of this epithet

we

(hall

not difpute.

Such pidtures are unqueftionably in one
fenfe

original,

as

they are the

firft

draughts, of which the fucceeding ones are

but copies,
«fyef,

]hiitri6tnefs of Ipeech

howto

fuch draughts themfelves are only th%

COPIES or RESEMBLANCES of Nature,

execute which does not require invention,

and Gohfequently does not
fuppofe

indicate or pre-

oRiGiNALixr of Genius.

We

muft

therefore have recourfc to
art

fome higher

branch of the
this talent

we

are treating of, where

may

be difplayed to advantage,
is

and that branch

History-painting.

The

Hiftory Painter *,

as well as

the

Epic

* As Poetry and Painting are in moft refpe6ls fimilar, it will
..

be no incurious inquiry to examine into
the

:.

192

A N

E

S S

AY
fubje^t

Epic Poet,

commonly

takes the

of

the degree of Imagination requifite to form an eminent
Painter, compared with that which
is

neceflary to form

a great Poet.

Every one who

is

in

any meafure ac-

quainted with the refpe£tive natures of the above-mentioned arts, muft obferve a very clofe affinity betwixt

them, and that to excel in either of them a very high
degree of Imagination
is

indifpenfibly required.

An

accurate obferver however will difcover the different

proportions of this quality that are appropriated and
requifxte to each.

Having one common end

in view,

the reprefentation of
events,

human

charaders, paffions and

or the reprefentation of thofe objects

which

are either prefented to the fenfes, or are the creation

of fancy, he will perceive that they both accomplifli
this

end by imitation, though by a different kind

of

it.

The

Poet reprefents the objedts of which he in-

tends to give us an idea, by lively and affeding defcription, fo as to

make

us in a

manner

fee every

thing

he

defcribes.

The

Painter exhibits the reprefentation
;

of thefe objects to us upon canvas

and, by the happy
illufion

union of light and fhade, and the ftrange

of

colours, deceives us almoft into a belief of the reality

of their exiftence.

Both

artifts

muft have

their

imagi-

nations imprefled with a very vivid idea of the objects

they intend to reprefent, and this idea muft

fill

and
is

occupy

their

minds

j

but a greater compafs of Fancy

required in the Poet than in the Painter; becaufe a
greater variety of ideas muft neceflarily pafs in fucceffion

ON GENIUS.
of
his piece

193
tradition-

from aa authentic or

ary

fiDn

through his mind, which he muft
disjoin,

aflbciate,

commul-

pound and

as occafion

may

require.

A

titude of fleeting objects glide before his imagination at

once, of which he muft catch the evanefcent forms:

he muft

at the

fame time comprehend thefe in one in-

ftantaneous glance of thought, and delineate them as

they

rife

and difappear, in fuch a manner

as

to give

While the fertility and extent of the Poet's fancy is difcovered by the croud of ideas which pour in upon his mind from
a kind of ftability in defcription.
all

them

quarters, and

which he

raifes

by a

fort

of magical

inchantment, he has likewife occafion for the niceft

Judgment

in fele£ling,

ideas in their

combining and arranging thefe proper clafles. Being obliged to defcribe
thofe concomitant circumnotice, and in connec-

obje6ts and events, not only as they appear to a fuperficial

obferver, but with

all

ftances

which efcape common

tion with their caufes and confequences, he
neceffity of

is under a employing the utmoft extent of Imagina-

tion in reprefenting the former, and the utmoft acutenefs of the reafoning faculty in tracing the latter.

On' the other hand, the whole
Painter
is

attention of the
idea,

ingrofled

by that

ftngle

whatever

it

may
It
'

be,

which he intends to exprefs in

his pi6lure.

is

triie,

a piece of hiftory-painting admits of great

variety in the attitude, air, features
different figures

and paflions of the and confequently,

which compofe

it

;

O

INVEN-

194

A N

E

S S

AY
forms

ary relation of fome important event, which

INVENTION and design
whole .fymmetry of
it

;

the former of which cotn^

prehends the general difpofition of the work, and the
taken together, the latter the

particular pofture of the feveral figures, and their difr

ferent chara£ters as diftinguifhed

from each other by

their correfponding fignatures in the countenance, will

require a confiderablecompafs of Imagination

;

becaufe
piece,
idea,
:

the Painter, before he begins to

work on

his

muft include
while he

thefe circumftances in

one general
his progrefs

and give proper attention to them in
is

but

employed in a particular department of the
of
it

work,

in exprefling the peculiar character or paffion

any individual
Oil

figure,

he colleils

his attention, fixes
is

a fingle point, on the image which
J

prefent to his

mind
fcript

and he delineates upon the cloth the very tran-

of his thought.

Thus he

proceeds gradually, in
till

expreifing one idea after another,
his piece
;

h? ha^

fii^ilflied

to execute

which requires

indeed, a vivid

and
i^,

vigorous Imagination, but not fo

e^c^CB^yjc, a-pJO.^^as,

neceiTary to form an excellent Poet.

With

regard to the refpedive efFeds of Poetry and
it

Painting,

muft be confefled, that the

art of the

Painter generally produces the
able deception
;

great^ and moit agreehe employs contribute

as the materials

to the fallacy of the fenfes, and are admirably calculated to
aflift

the Imagination in impofing

upon

itfejf.

Hence

the pleafure

we

derive from the view Qp a Jn«.

picture

ON GENIUS.
forms the groundwork of the pi6lure,

195
as it

does

pidture

is

immediate
feel, in
its

;

while the fubfequent fatisfaftion

which we
tion,

difcovering the juftnefs of the imita-

and

refemblance to the original, increafes that
.
.

pleafure.

To
in

compenfate

this

advantage however, which PaintPoetry

ing" has over her

filler art.

may

boaft another,

which the former muft

yield the preeminence.

If

the Painter has the happinefs to exhibit a ftronger
likenefs in thofe features

he endeavours to exprefs, the

Poet prefents us with a more complete refemblance of
the whole figure taken together
;

for in

many
:

cafes,

w6rd$ may

defcribe

{hall illuftirate this

what colours cannot paint. obfervation by an example Suppofe
ce^^

We

a Painter was defired to reprefent upon canvas the
lebrated Interview betvveen

Alexander

and the
of

MoI//us.^

ther and

Queen

of

Darius,

after the battle

In

fiich a

draught he would temper the fiercenefs

,ef

the Conqueror with the generous

humanity of the

Hero,
tunate.
wtJtild

who

fympathifes with the miferies of the unfor-

In the countenances of the forrowful Queens
appear that dignity of diftrefs which was fuita-

bfe totheir fituation, and that profound refpedl which

the prefence of their royal vifitant was calculated to
infpire.

But

hiftory informs us,

that

after

mutual
fo

compliments were over,

Alexander

difcovered

mttch generosity, mildnefs, and compaiHon in his be^
haviour to them, as to conciliate their efteem and con-

O

2

fidence^

;

196

AN ESSAY
The
fuperftruflure

does of the poeai.

how*
ever

fidence, as well as to excite their admiration and
titude,
fail

gra-

Thefe unexpedled

offices

of kindnefs could not

to difFufe that joy over the countenance,

which

is

the effedl of a pleafing furprife, and which confequently

ought to have been expreffed by the

Artift, had

it

been

practicable to blend the air of refpe6lful humility and
dejected melancholy, with that of unfufpediing confi-

dence and undiflembled gratitude.

That
;

this

could

not be done, muft be imputed, not to the fault of the
Painter, but to the imperfedlion of his art

or rather^

to an impoffibility in the nature of the thing, of giv-

ing different and oppofite expreffions to the counte-

nances of the fame perfons in the fame pidture.

To
;

do

this, the

Painter muft give us

two

diftinft pictures

whereas the Poet can, in one and the fame relation,
give us a lively idea of
all

the different emotions of the

human

heart

;

or rather can

make

us feel thofe

emo-

tions he fo pathetically defcribes.

We

may

farther

obferve, that in order to form a proper notion of a
piece of

HISTORY painting,

it is

necefTary

we fhould

not only be well acquainted with thofe hiflorical transaClions

which the ingenious

Artift intends,

by the moft

ftriking reprefentation, to recal to our

remembrance

but

we

rnufl likewife

keep in mind the precife inftant

of time

when

they are fuppofed to have happened,:*,
to this cir-

becaufe by not knowing, or not attending
,

cumftance, the beauty and emphafis of the execution
ii

intirely loft to us.

We

ON
ever muft in

G E N

I

US.

197

both cafes be the work of
thofe

We

fhall

conclude

this note,

which we

are afraid

is

already fwelled to too great a length, with remarking,
that every poffible event, with every poflible x;ircumftance,,

may

be defcribed by language,

though they
alfo illuftrate
fet

cannot be delineated by colours.
this

Let us

remark by an example
a

:

Imagine a Painter

to

work on

defcriptive piece, that, for inftance, of a

Stortn at Sea.

In order to give us a fuitable idea of

this dreadful fcene,

he paints the foming billows dafhof the
is

ing againft'the

fides

vefFel,

fome of fhem over-

whelming

her, while fhe

juft ready to burft afunder

with the impetuous (hock of conflicting elements.
fee her ftripped

We

of her rigging, her mafts broken, the

Ihip herfelf laid alrhoft

on her

fide,

by the violence of

the tempeft

;

and

we

perceive terror,

amazement and

defpair, impreffed on the ghaftly countenances of the
diftrafted mariners.
is

Even thus

far the reprefentation

lively

;

but the Poet goes farther.

He

introduces

fome great and uncommon incidents, which heighten the horrors of the fcene, and which the ableft Painter,
from the unavoidable defeat of his art, can never exHe makes the lightening flafn, and the thunder hibit.
rore.

He

reprefents the tottering bark, at

one time

as raifed

by

the billows to the clouds, at another as

plunged into the unfathomable depths of the ocean;
while, to complete the difmal and
terrific

fcene, he

defcribes the, piercing ihrieks and dying
defpairixig failors.

mones of the
peiiority

If

any one

ftiould queftion the fu-

O

3

jg?

AN ESSAY
Jn
,the

thofe ingenious Artifls themfelves.

defign and ordonnance of the one, and in

the contrivance of incidents and exhibition

of chara6lers in the other, great fcope
afforded for the exercife of
faculty.

is

the inventive

Much

is

to

be imagined,

aud

much
a

to be defcribed.

In order to obtain

clear idea of the greatnefs
requifite to finifh

and

originality

of Genius

a piece of Hsit

tory- painting with

reputation,

will

be

necefTary to recur to

an example.

Let us

fuppofe a
profellion,

man

of elevated Genius in this

employing his pencil on the ce-

lebrated fubje6l of

Paul

preaching dXAthenSp

which has immortalifed the fame of Raphael.
Inftead of copying after this ad-

periority of Poetry over Painting, at leaft in defcriptive pieces, in

manifefted, let

which indeed him read the

its

fuperiority

is

chiefly

defcription of a ftorm in
in a

the

firft

book of the Mneid^ or
ableft

poem,

intitled,

The Shipwreck^ compared with fea-pieces of

this kind,"'''

drawn by the
ing,

Matters in the art of Painf^^l
IjiS,^

and he will perhaps find reafon to difmifs

doubts.

mired

ON GENIUS.
mired
Artift,

199

we

fuppofe

him

to fkctcR'bul

and execute the whole piece by the mere
ftrength

and

fertility

of his

own

imagina-

tion, taking the

groundwork only from the

facred Writings.
infpired
five, is

The
gives,
j

account which the

Writer

though comprehend

but (hort

the Painter muft imagine

the

reft.

He would no
hill,

doubt repreient the

eloquent Apoftle as ftanding on the fummit

of Mars

in an tttdi pofture, with his
itti-

hands extended, and his countenance
preffed with a folemn earneftnefs

and ari

dent zeal, convincing the Afheiiiam of their
fuperftition, adjuring

them

to renounce

it,

and

to believe in thofe divine do6trines,

and
by

praflife thofe excellent precepts, which,

the authority and in the
ter,

name

of his Masair

he delivered to them.

The

and

attitude of this affefling Preacher

would be

awful,

energetic

and divine

:

they would

be greatly venerable,
iive.

yet ftrongly perfua-

On

the other hand,
afFe6led in the

the audience

would appear

moft different

ways imaginable.

In the countenances of

O

4

*

many

20€> '
f-.f

.A N •,..of them,

E
we

S S

AY/>
-'.

many
few

flioald difcover a fixed
;

and thoughtful attention
of the Sermon, that

in thofe of a

others, notwithftanding the eloquence
levity

and

curiolity>

which were
nian people.

fo chara6leriftical of the ^z^^-

In the countenaxices of fome,
difcern

we
dain

flipuld

the

fcornful

fneer of

contempt, or the fupercilious frown of dii*
;

while a confiderable

number of them
the evident

would exhibit
ror,

in their ghaftly vifages ter-

confufion

and anguiih,

marks of convifted and
•guilt.

felf- condemning

We

fliould diftinguifh in
-,

fome the
in others,

conlirmed obftinacy of infidehty
the heiitating fufpenfe of doubt

-,

in others,
in others,

the yielding comphance of affent the fpirited ardor of hope
elevated joy of exultation.
;

;

in others, the

From
figures,

the invention of fuch a group of

and fuch a

diverfity

of chara6lers

j

from the happy expreflion of
riety

fo great a va-

of oppofite paffionsj
the ftrength,
,

we

infer the, vi-

vacity,

the originality,

and
the

.

ON
prefs

G E N

I

U

S.

201

the extent of the Artift's Genius.

To

ex-

any one pafiion
is

juftly,

is

a certain

proof that he
nation
}

poflefled

of a

lively

Imagi-

but to be able to exprefs fuch a
ones,
all

number of contrary

of which have

been conceived by the creative power of his

own
i^AE'j

fancy,

is

^n

infallible indication

of a

Genius truly comprehensive and origi-j
In fuch an attempt, the Artift muft
all

draw

his flores

from himfelf ; he muft

invent the figures which compofe the pic4

tm« J

delign their different attitudes j

and

exprefs the variety of paffion^s difcernible
in them, with juftnefs

and

force.

By

acis

complifhing thefe purpofes, the illufion
rendered complete.
piece
is

Every figure in the
fluflied

animated with nature, and
J

with

life

and the whole painting, taken

together, at once delights the imagination,
aiid fpeaks to the heart -f

We
f That excellent
->;

Critic,

whom we

have had fuch

frequent occafion to quote, feems to think, that, in

!

ibme

;

26^

A N
fhall

E

-S

S

A

V
is

We
figfejc^,

6nly farther obferve on this

that though

original Genius

dlfjiayed in the higheft degree and in the
Bobleft fphere in
it

History-painting,

yet in-

«jay fometimes be difcovered, in
mtafure,
in

no

confid'erabie

desgiuptive
ingenio\3s Artift,

piiEGEs
itiftead

;

at leaft

where the

of copying real objects, exhibits, as
fuch as are the mere
fency.

in the foi*mer cafe,
creation of his

own

Even Landftill

feapes, Grotefques,

and

pieces of

Life,

when

they are invented by this plaftic power

of the mind, and not imitated from (cenes
that actually exift, indicate

^h

originality

fome
tion

cafes, a

good

pi(5lura

may produce
fpe^itator,

a ftronger ef-

fe^ ujpon the mind of the

than a good ora-

upon the inind ef the

hearer.

Speaking of

thfe

cfEcacy of gellure atwl aiSion, he obfcrves

" Nee mirum
*'
**

fi

ifta,

quae

tamen

in aliquo funt po;

fita

motu, tantum
opus

in animis valent

quum
fic

pi6tura,
in in-

itacens

&

habitus femper gufdem,
afFe£i:us,

*' «*

timos penetret

ut ipfam

vim

dicendi

non/tz/?//.

nunquam
cap. 3.

fuperare

videatur."

Quintil.

lib. ii.

of

on
it
is

GEN

I

U

S.

203

of Genius Suitable to the obje6ls on whidi
employed.

Thus we Uave
jiaf

feen wliat thofe branches

in the art of Painting are, in which origi-

Geniu?

Will difcover itfelfj
it "will

and how,

i^
:Jtjm^'^

in wbat degree,
^branches.

exert itfelf in

Let us next confider

how

fay this Angular talent
the. art <rf Eloquence,
will probably

may
art.

be difplayed in
its

and what

effort

be in that

Aristotle, that acute Philofppher
well as judicious Critic, hath defined

as

rhein

toric

to be the

power of difcovering

«very fubje6l the topics moft fuitably adapt-

ed to the purpofes of perfuafion *.

This

definition appears to be juft in general, as
it

includes the
is

principal

objedl

of Elo-

quence, which

doubtlefs to perfuade,

by

jjjoftEvoy

wtO^voi/.

Aristot.

lib.

i.

cap. z.

convincing

2.04

A N
To

E

S S

AT

convincing the judgment, and influencing
the paffions.
riety

attain this objecl, a va-

of qualifications, rarely united in one
are
requifite.

perfon,

An

extenfive

and

exuberant imagination, a penetrating judgement, an intimate acquaintance with hu-

man

nature, with the various tempers

and

.paflions

of mankind *,

and

their various

^operations,

muft concur to form the ac-f*.

xomplifhed Orator
damental
bility

Befides thefe fun-

qualifications,

an

exquifite fenfi-

of paffion, an ardent, impetuous, and

*'"

^

*'

Quis enim

nefcit

maximam. vim

exiftere

Orato-

ris

in

hominum

mentibus, vel ad iram, autad odium,

«
*'

aut dolorem incitandis, vel ab hifce iifdem permoti-

onibus ad lenitatem, mifericordiamque revocandis
quas
nifi

?

*'
"*'

qui naturas

hominum, vimque omnem hudicendo,

mahitatis, caufasque eas, quibus mentes'Aut incitantur, aut refieduntur, penitus perfpexerit
j

»'

*'.quod volet,
Oraiore, lib.
_

perficere

non potent."

Cicero^^"
*"

i.

cap. 12.

.,

.

t Thofe who
lifications

are defirous to
to

know
firft

limai! the various qua-

requifite

form a complete Orator, may

confult the fifth chapter of the
de Qratore»

book af Cicero

overpowering

O N:
are
efTentially

GEN ru

S.

205-

overpowering enthufiafm of imagination,
requilite to a

maftery and

fuccefs in

the rhetorical art, and particu-

larly diflinguifh

an original Genius in

that profeflion

-f.

By

pofTefling the firft
is

of

thefe qualities, the

Orator

enabled to feel

every fentiment which he utters, and participate

every emotion which he defcribes.

By

pofleffing the laft, in conjunction

with

the other, he

is

enabled, by a torrent of
hearts

rapid eloquericcy to convey to the

of his hearers,
aftic feelings,

thofe flrong and enthufiis

by which he

himfelf ac-

tuated.

j;

Cicero,

confidering the caufes

why

fo

few emi-

nent Orators have appeared in any age or country,
accounts for the fa6t from the inconceivable difficulty

of attaining diftinguilhed excellence in Eloquence:
*' **

dine,

'*

enim aliud in maxima difcentium multitufumma magiftrorum copia, pr^Hantiffimis hominum ingeniis, infinita caufarum varietate, amQiiis
prasmiis, efle caufse

*'

pliiHmis Eloquential propofitis
putet, nifi rei

*'

quandam
?'*

incredibilem magnitudinem,
Oratore^
lib.
i.

"

ac difficultatem

De

cap. 5.

We

2o6

AN E
may
farther

S

SAY
that

We

obferve,

r

fifefii

fon endued with an
for Eloquence,
will

original Genius
at

one glance, by a

kind of intuition,
the mofl proper,

diftinguifh

and

fele6t

as well as moft power-

ful topics of perfuafion

on every

fubjecV,

and
gy.

will'

urge them with

irreliftible

ener-

Thefe topics

will, for the

moft part,

be very extraordinary, and altogether unexpe£i:ed; but they will conftantly produce

the intended

effeft.

They

will operate

up-

on the mind by
once.

furprife; they will ftrike

Uke lightening, and penetrate the heart at

We
from

fhall

produce a few inftances of

this impaffioned

and

perfuafive Eloquence,

thofe illuftrious ancient Orators,

De-

mosthenes and Cicero,
emplify the above remarks

in order to ex5

and

fhall tranf-

late the pafTages for the fake
liJJj

of the Efig-is

Reader.

The

following pafTage

taken

from

that celebrated oration of

DemostiEsCHINES,

henes, which procured the banifhment of

om GENIUS.
i^scHiNES, his enemy and
rival "f.

207

siPHON having propofed that

Gold fhould be prefented

to

Ctea Crown of Demos the-

NEs, as a teftimony of the refpedl of his
fellov^-citizens,

upon account of the emi-

nent fervices he had done to his country;
iEs CHINES ftrenuoufly oppofed the motion,
as contrary to the laws
3

and ventured to

arraign his rival before the Athe?iian people,

accufmg him of mifcondufl in the courfe
of his miniftry,
being
the

and charging him with
all

author of

the

calamities

brought,

upon

the Athenians by their

war
vin-

with Philip.

Demosthenes, having
thrown upon

dicated his chara6ler in general
unjnil afperfions
NJEs,
it

from the

by^EscHi-

proceeds to juftify the particular mea-

fares

which he had concerted, with the

approbation of other leading
adminiftration,
of. ]thofe„

men

in the

notwithftanding the event

meafures had been unfuccefsful.

j-

Vide

Demosth.

^(f C*?'^^*?.

Thus

2o8

A N

E

S S

AY

Thus he
tation *.

introduces his fpirited argumen-

This

xaj "Sra^aJolov eiteh'' «** f*a -aro©* Aioj xxt Bbuv,
rfffgCo^Tji' SaDftatri).

^ijj'etf

tjjv"

a^Xa
'xa.

ftET

Euvojaj o Xsya; ^cu^y)<ra.ri,>.

yap

»)»

avxai

'BT^o^'n\ac

/^eXXovTa ysn/JjCE^at, xon •m^ovi^ea'at

^avTHf xaJ

ffu SB-goEAsyEf

An^iwi, xon
oti^'*

^ixfjux.^

tv^u 0ouv
toj -oroXEi

xett

xtxpctfcoq 05 ovS''

£^8£y|w,

aTftJs

aTrorarsoy

rovrur

yo».

Ndv ^£» 7«g

a7ro1v;^£H' ^oJts* twv 'W^ee.ffi.a.rur,

metirt

M»fit

STi avO^fWOKj «Ta» to vtw

rayra

ooxtj.

Tote

J'

et^iaax orpoEO--

Ta»ai TW*

ol7\7\u*,

htu

avos-ua-x TUTa,

OtXXtWTra; ttr^oh^umyat

trx/laq, ay

t^^sy air»av.

Et ya^ vxvrx •cr^onret

,xxom

tPtpi

ar

oy^ttx xivJuvov ovTiya
Tl5r]t)aEV av ^u.

uf

a%

VTTBjAinaii ot

m^oyovoit rt^ bvi ««^/^rj^''

Ml} yap Aj(^,
/^tEn

ttjj trroXEWf

yt,

£ft».

To»«rf ^*

0^-

fiaXjWOJj, -nrg^>0I7/*e»«Sj t»

ew^wjiaeh

av tsj
ii(;

ej; tjjv 'aroXtv

avSgwTrsj a^j».
ijyj^iyy

T(Z

<sx^x\{i.xrx

oirsf

vvn

fflj-Ejisf ij,

«a»

Jtvgt©* ^eO») CijXtTnr®' awanT&iv, to* ^g dtts j

tb ^»)

yEys^aii TatiT*
/*»)3'i

ayayXi ete^oj p^wgK
<tn^

i/itiyi',

^jaav 'ZzreTroin/^avot.
EftTr^oo-SEn ;jc^oiioi?
viot)f;(.:iyyi^.

Ka» TawTa

iron

T»)? -nroXEW?,

er

tok

ao-^aXEian u^o^«^

Ux%hot, n To» w«r£g

T«|i

naXuv mvSvvo*

" But
the

fince

my

adverfary lays fo

much

ftrefs
j

upon

events, I will venture to advance a paradox

and in

name of Jupiter and

all

the

Gods,

let

none of
every

you wonder

at the apparent hyperbole,

but

let

one attend with candour to what I am going to fay. If the things which after vi'ards happened had been manifeft

ON GENIUS.
This great Orator having by
tlie

209
above,

nifeft to all,

and

all

had forefeen thetn

j

if

even you,

^SCHINES,
till

had foretold and declared them with your

bawling and thundering voice,

who by
to

the

way never
in. that
its

now

uttered

a word '^concerning them; even

cafe Athens
fures^ if
it

ought by no means
had any regard to

have altered

mea-

its

own

glory, to the

glory of
rations.

its

anceftors, or to that of fucceeding gene-

At
all

prefent

indeed

it

feems to have fallen

from
ftates

its

priftine

grandeur; a

rtiisfortune

common
is

to all

and
it

-men, whenever the Deity

pleafed- to

order

fo.

But

Athens^ having once been thought
all

worthy of the precedence of
publics, could

the other Grecian

Reit,

not relinquifh

this

glorious claim, nor

plead

an exemption from the dangers

attending

.

without incurring the blame and difgrace of abandoning the

common
If
it

intereft to the rapacious

ambition of

Philip.

had relinquifhed, without a flruggle,

thofe privileges

which our anceRors braved every dan-

ger to maintain,
defpifed

your timid prudence
juftly

who, t^schines, would not have ? for no fliare of the
have fallen on the other members
or upon me.

blame could
with what

of the commonwealth,
eyes fliould

— Great

God

!

we
if

in that cafe

have looked
all ^jarts

upon

thia great multitude, aflembled

from

of

Greece,

now

hearing me,

things had come, by our

own
fent
;

faults, to the

condition

we

fee

them

in at pre-

and Philip had been created Generaliilimo and
all

Sovereiga of

the Greeks, without our having united

P

our

2IO

AN ESSAY
ftriking arguments, evinced

and many other

the reditude of his
as

own

condud:, as well

of the condu6l of his partners in the
in

adminiftration,

carrying on

the

war
upon

againft Philip, comes next to touch

the battle of Charoneai which had been fo
fatal to

the Atheniam

;

and

as the defeat

they had there fuilained was fuppofed to be

a confequence of the meafures that had
been adopted,
fiiies

this defeat

waa, by bis ene-

particularly, charged

upon Demost-

henes, as having been the principal author
of the meafures which brought on that un-

happy
and

event.

The

vindication of himfelf

his fellow- citizens,

who had

been

ei-

ther the advifers or fharers of that unfortunate, but glorious engagement, by the fol-

lowing aftonifbing and fublime

Oathr,

is

©ur

aid,

with- that of the

other

GrecwJi States,
?

in

order to prevent fo great an indignity

efpecially

when

we

confider, that in former times

it

hath been always

the character of the Athenian Republie to prefer gloriou&

danger to difhonourable

fafety.'*

©Be

ON GENIUS.
one of the
Genius
"f.

1"

21
rhetoiicai

boldeft

flights

of

This
quence,
fe6i:

is

one of thofe ftrokes of Eloef-^

which produce the intended
inftantaneous

by an

and

irreliilible

knpulfe,

whirhng away the

fouls

of the

Ov

//.a

Toy?

£V

//.apaflwn

'Erpo;tn/d't;v£yff-ai'TC45

Tw» txrfoyovuy, KOtt

X'>iacivT»<;,
^'/i(/,oan>K;

v.xi

Tsj

stt ctfrBij.tcrim,

xat

'aroT^Xag

tn^aq ra;

ev

Toif

fj.siTii^cna't

Kn^ivm; etyudaq

av^foti.

Ot/5 aVai'Ta; biA.oiai


and
fvjrear

*'

But

it

cannot be, Athenians,

it

cannot be, that

you have erred
fafety

in expofing your lives for the freedom

of Greece.

— No,

you have not

erred,

I

by your

illuftrious anceftors,

v/ho hazarded their
fields

lives in fupport

of the fame glorious caufe in the

of Marathon^ by thofe
Platcea,

who made
fell

fo brave a fland at

by thofe who fought

in the

fea-engagement
and
laftly

at

Salaminy by thofe
thofe

who

at Artemifium,

by

many

other excellent foldiers and citizens, the

martyrs of liberty,

who
city,

lie

interred in public

monuworthy

ments,

which

this

regarding
raifed

them
their

as

of fuch an honour, hath
fame."

to

memory and
hearers

P

z

zi2

AN ESSAY
them time

hearers at once, without leaving

to weigh the motives of conviction or perfuafion *.

The

*

An

Orator of

common GemiK would

never have

thought of fo extraordinary a method of argumentation, as

Demosthenes

here ufes, for vindicating the

condu6k of the Jthemans in hazarding the battle of
Cheeronea^ and for reconciling

them

to the lofs of

it*

He
rns:

would probably have

fatisfied

himfelf with pro-

ducing precedents of the fame kind, and with obfervthat their anceftors had fought the battles of Ada-

rathon, Platcsa^ Salamin

and Artemifium^

in defence

of

the liberties of Greece
ftead of this cool

'^

but the Athenian Orator, in-

reafoning, hurried

away by the
fets

eir-

thufiafm and impetuofity of his
fore their eyes, as
it

own Genius,

be-

were by the mofl fublime and

flriking figure, the awful fhades of their fathers,

had

facrificed

their lives in the caufe of Liberty.
illuftrious

who By
them
thetrt

fwearing by thofe

Heroes,

he

raifes

above the condition of humanity,
both as the
objecl:s

and propofes

of admiration and imitation.

No-

thing indeed could have been more happily calculated
for comforting the Athenians under the defeat they had
fuftained at Charoriea^ and raifing their dejected fpirits,

than this folemn appeal to their anceflors, by w|iich
the Orator feems to put that defeat on a level with the
vi£lories

:

O N
The
be
laft

G E N

I

U

S.

±ii
produce,
fhall

quotation

we

fhall

from the Orations of Demosthenes,
taken

from

his

firft

Philippic.

The

Orator, having inveighed againft the indolence of the Athenians in fuffering

Philip to

victories

which they had obtained

at

Marathon^ Plataa^

Salamin^ and Artemifium.

Thofe who
cifm,

are defirous of feeing the ahove cele-

brated paffage illuftrated in the trueft tafte of Criti-

may cGnfuk

the fixteenth chapter of
j

Longiexcellent

Nus's Treatife on the Siiilime

where

tliat

Judge of the beauties of Compofition hath obferved,
that by this fingle figure,which he calls an Apoftrophe,

the Orator hath enrolled thofe ancient Heroes amono: the Gods, and taught us that
it is

proper to fwear by

fuch as die in the fame manner

tyu

x.a.'Ku

ra?

/^cei/

'm^oyovaq aTroQswo-aj,

on hi

ra^ aTToSavovTaj

From

this fliort

fpecimen, our Readers will perceive

that the Critic in his illuftration rivals the fublimity

of the Orator.

For

farther fatisfadtion

we muft

refer

them

to the above-mentioned chapter,

the limits of

our plan not allowing us to fwell out the page with
-

quotations.

F z

extend

:?I4

AN ESSAY
them
in the following clofe, pointfo

extend his conquefts without moleflatiorij
addrefles

ed and energetic interrogatories, of the Orator and the Patriot
*.

worthy

The

'ri

yimcn

?

iinooi.v

vri

^la ava/x»)TK

•/)

?

vm

^b

n p^frj

ra ytyvoa,vee,\x.v;v

fjitvx i]yet^cii ?

iyo}yi,iv

yap

ot/xat rot? EAeuOepot? //,=7tr>;>'
eci

nrxv

Jwcp Twv mfctyfAxrav
ayr^yv

i^vvm

bh/ch.

H

/JsAeoJe siTre

/w-o^

'ZD'Eji'oiiTsj
vol/ ?

•zzri^vOavEoTat

xara

rviv
jj

ayofccv,

AsycTa* Tt xanr
n^vivamq xa^jXittw-®?

ystoiTo yap a^ Tt jtaiVoTapon,
Jtas

f^oe.x.i4m avijp
? ?

rci.'TToXiijOiiv,

Ta

tuji'

e?\Xrivuv
Svft-i'J

dioatuv
^iatpe^ei

T£6i/>j*;e

oy foa

iS';,

aAA

^cB^evs*-

Tj

xat ya§ av ovT®'
ctv

Tt

'srci^Yi

Tap^Enj; ii^Etj trtpov (pihtfrtrov
Toi<; 'iirpajftiz.(7j

'zs-oirjcrirs,

"mspt

ov
««£-

TcJ 'HTCoo'B^yire

tov

vow uoe y»p o^t©^
riji/

'Brapos T5J»

layTt?

^o)^viv

ToatiTov tTriv^Brai ocov ma-fce.

y)[/,e7sfxv

**

When,
? ?

Jthetiians^

v./hen

will

you a<S

as

you

ought

you you

When fliall fome extraordinary event roufe When fhall fome imminent neceffity compel
fhall

?

But what

we

think of the prefent juncture,
?

and of the events which have already happened

For

my

part, I look

upon the difgracefulnefs of our paft

condu(£t, to be the ftrongeft incentive, the mofl urgent
neceility to free

more

fpirited part.

men to alter their meafures, and aft a Or tell me, Do you rather incline,
idle,

according to your ufual cuftom, to fanter about
afking each other in the forum, What

news

?

Can

there

be

ON GENIUS.
The
tery in the above fhort queftion,

21.5

Athenian Orator paints the idle cu-

dofity of his countrymen with great maslAy^.TAt

n

tt&mv> "

What news?"

*and the eloquent

Apoftle of the Gentiles confirms this chara6ter of the Athenians,

by the obfervation

which he made on
abode among
**
**

their condu(51: during his

them.

He

tells

us,

that

tliey fpent their

time wholly in hearing
Ahvctui

and

relating

fome new thing."

H

nctrnTisw *.
tor,

The

interrogation of the OraKeiiyorifop

yivotTo yetf Av ri

»

y.AKzJ[av ttvnfy

neiv., than that a man of Macedo^ make war on the Athenians^ and goIs Philip dead ? fays one verns the reft of Greece f replies another, but he is certainly fick. What, Nq,

be any thing more

nia has dared to

:

pray, does either fignify to
cafe,

you

?

For whatever be you
will

his

whether he be

fick or dead,

foon

raife

up another Philip, while you manage your affairs in fo liftlefs and indolent a manner j for he hath attained
his

prefent

grandeur,
bravery."

more through your

inactivity

than his

own

f A6ls

xvii. 21.

P 4

ahuiUHt

2i6

AN
man

E SS

AY

^V-Can there be any thing more new, than
that, a

of Macedonia makes war.

upon

the Athenians, and governs the refc of Greece^"
is

highly fpirited and poignant

j

fhews the
himfelf

jdifdain

with which

Demosthenes
;

viewed the infolence of Philip

and was

admirably calculated to produce a fenfe of

honed ihame
men, to roufe
and

in the minds of his countrytheir ancient fpirit

of

liberty,

excite the flrongeft jealoufy of the de-

ligns of the Macedonian

Monarch.
is

The

art

and addrefs of the Orator
fpefts

in thefe re-

truly admirable.

Every one muft

perceive the keen and exquifitely fine irony

of the following queftion,

TsSfH^ce ^ihfTT'jroil

"

Is

Philip dead?" and of the anfwer,
AKK Airhvu
5

ew
is

ff.Ai'ty

"

He

is

not dead, but he

lick."

Thefe few quotations

will give the

Reader
fpirit,

feme

faint idea of the originality

and

of the fublimity and energy, of the elo-

quence of Demosthenes.

We

fhall

next

produce

ON

G EN

I

U

S.

217

produce a few paflages from the Orations of

Cicero, which will

alfo ferve to

illuftratc

the preceding remarks on original Rhetorical Genius.

:

The Roman Orator
fenators,

having,

with the

other

obtained certain informa-

tion of the execrable confpiracy of

Catifol-

line, breaks forth in a torrent of abrupt,

vehement, and rapid eloquence, in the

lowing addrefs to
tors,

this chief

of the confpiraaf-

whom

he pointed out to the whole

fembled fenate *.

So

*.

*'

Quoufque tandem abutere Catilina
?

patientia

"
**

noftra

Quamdiu etiam
iziz

furor

ifte

tuus nos eludet?

Quern ad finem
Nihilne
te
vigiliae, nihil

efFrasnata ja6labit

audacia

?

"
*' ** *'

no61:urnum praefidium

palatii, nihil urbis

timor populi, nihil concurfus

bonorum

omnium,
cus, nihil

nihil hie munitifllmus habendi fenatus lo-

horum ora vultufque moverunt ? Patere non fentis ? conftridlam jam horum om" njum confcientia teneri conjurationem tuam non vi*• des ? Quid proxima, quid fuperiore nofle egeris,
**

tua confilia

•*
s
;

ubi fueris, quos convocaveris, quid confilii ceperis

" quem

2i»
So

A N

E

S S

AY
and
to
fo pointed
fail

energetic, fo particular,

an-accufation, could not

confound
even

aoi^:'J\

''::i;

:

::

..

*' *'

quern noftrum ignorare arbitraris

?

O
&
f.

tempora

!

O

mores

!

Senatus hasc
vivit
!

intelligit,

Conful videt, hie
in

'*
*'

tamen
fit

Vivit

?

Imo etiam
;

fenatum venit^
defignat oculis

pubiid

confilii particeps

notat

"

ad caedem

unumquemque noftrum
Catiline,
{hall

" How
tience
?

long,

will

you abufe our pa-

How
?

long

your defperate fury elude our

vengeance
of mount

For what end does your unbridled auda?

cioufnefs thus triumph

Has not

the nocturnal

ganTon

Palatine^ have not the watches of the city,

has not the fear of the people, has not the united concourfe of
all

good men, has not

this

guarded fenate-

houfe, have not the venerable countenances of thofe
confcript Fathers, have not
all

thefe the

power

to dif-

arm thy rage, and to foften thy unrelenting heart ? you imagine your defigns are not difcovered ? Do not you fee that your confpiracy is bafHed by the tjme-^

Do
ly

knowledge of
laft,

all

thefe Senators

?

What you

did

the

what the preceding
called

whom
ed,
is

you

where you was, what refolutions you formtogether,
night,

there any one here, think you,
I

ignorant of?
is

O

times

O

manners

!

The' Senate
did
I

made ac-

quainted with thefe
yet this wretch lives.

things,

the Conful fees themj,,
fay
?

Lives

!

Nay, he hath

f

Orat. prim, in Cat,

had

O
we may
parts

TC

G

EN lU
rule,

S.

^9
Gigero,

even the audacious Catiline*

obferve in the above iiiftance, de-

from a general

which,

with

gr^at propriety, requires for the mofl part,
that the exordium of an oration be cool

and

difpaflionate.

The

obfervance of this
fubje6l

rule indeed depends

upon the

and

the occafion

;

and

furely the occafion of the

pration to which
ijtmoft

we

refer,

demanded the

vehemence and energy.

The
againft

Orator tranfgrefles the fame rule

with equal propriety in his fourth Oration

Catiline, which

is

animated and

interefting

from the beginning.

Having,

in the introdu6lion to his difcourfe,

acknowgrate-

ledged in a very graceful
ful fenfe

manner the

he had of the Senate's concern for he comes, by a natural tranfi-

his fafety,

had the daring Infolence to enter the fenate-houfe, and
to Ihare in the public deliberations, while he Angles

out every one of us with his eyes, and deftines us to
flaughter.'*

tion.

220
tion,

A N
to

E

S S

AY
own
it

touch upon his

dangerous
is

iituation, the defcription

of which

wrought
once

up with
to the

the higheft art, as

recals at

remembrance of

his hearers, the va-

rious labours

and hazards he

had, under-

gone for the fake of

his country,

in the

part he had a6led in the detection of

Ca-

tiline's confpiracy *.

*
*'

**

Ego fum
in

ille

Conful, Patres confcripti, cui non
aequitas continetur
: :

forum

quo omnis

non camnon
curia,

"

pus, confularibus aufpiciis confecratus
:

^'•/fummum auxilium omnium gentium non domus, commune perfugium non le6tus, ad quietem da^ i.«
:


*' *'

tus
lis,

:

non denique haec fedes honoris, fella curuunquam vacua mortis periculo atque infidiis

fuit."

'?'

I, confcript

Fathers,

am

that Conful, to
is

whom
not the

not the forum in which juftice
Senate, the chief aid of

diftributed

;

martial field confecrated by confular aufpices
all
;

;

not the

nations

;

not the houfe,

every one's
repofe;

common

refuge

not the bed, defigned for

not, finally, this feat of honour, this curule

chair, have ever afforded fecurity from the dangers

and
7

the fnares of death."

The

ON GENIUS.
.

221

.The Orator then proceeds

to enumerate

the fervices he had done to the

common-

wealth in the inveftigation of the above-

mentioned confpiracy,

as well

as to point

put the Yi(k with which they were per-

formed
vices

;

a relation, that great as thofe

fer-'

were,

would,
better

it

muft be

confelTed,

have

come
is

from

another

mouth.

One
ble,
this,

indeed forry to find the vanity of
vi^as

Cicero, which

his diftinguifhing foi-

difplayed in fo glaring a
as well as in
let

manner in

fever al other inftances;
veil

but

candour draw the

over his foi-

bles, in confideration

of his eloquence and

merit.

It

would be

a material omiffion, while

we

are producing fpecimens of Cicero's oratorical talents,

to overlook his celebrated ora-

tion for his friend

Milo, accufed
;

as the

author of the death of Clodius
in which

an oration

TuLLY
and

hath exhibited an aftonifh-

ing difplay both of his reafoning and pathetic talents,

in

which he hath united
Imagination,

222

AN ESSAY
Judgment and
Art,
in

Imagination,

the

higheft degree.

After having proved by
diftin6l detail of

an accurate and
ftances,

circum-

urged with great force of argument,
could have no defign upon the

that
life

MiLo

of Clodius, but that, on the contrary,
life

the latter had confpired againft the

of

MiLO,

in the attempt to execute which in-

tention he was himfelf flainj

the Orator

breaks out into a fublime apoftrophe, addrefled to the altars

and groves which Clohis impurities,

dius had polluted by

im-

puting the original caufe of his death to their
juft vengeance,
rites

and that of the Gods whofe
-f.

he had violated

It

f

*'

Vos enim jam Albani
imploro atque

luci

atque tumuli, vos

" inquam
«'

teftor,

vofque Albanorum
focias

obrutse ars, facrorum

populiRomani

& asquamolibus

** les,

quas

ille

praeceps amentia, csefis, proftratisque

"
^^ *'
*'

fan(5lil!imis

lucis,
:

fubIlru6lionum infanis
veftras
ille

opprefTerat

veftrae turn arae,

religiones vi-

guerunt, veftra vis valuit,
polluerat
:

quam

omni

fcelere

tuque ex tuo edito monte, Latialis fande
ille

"
.
.

Jupiter, cujus
-

lacus,

nemora, finesque

faspe
'*

omni

nefario

o:N'
It is
^as

g e n

I

us.
figures

^223

the privilege of Eloquence, as well
to

Poetry,

employ thole

which
give

"
**

nefario

ftupro

&

fcelere

macularat,
:

aliquando ad
ill^e,

cum puniendum

oculos aperuiftis

vobis

vobis

", veftro in confpeclu fers, fed juftae tamen,
*'^

& debitge
Albayi

poenas folutse funt."
*'

Ye

hills

and groves of Alba^
rites,

and you

altars,

memorials of the Roman
facred groves

and coeval with
altars,

the

Roman name,

and

rafed

by

his defperate madhefs, and on the ruins of which he

reared thofe Impious piles
witnefs his
guilt.

;

^ou
rites

I implore,

and

call to

Your

polluted by his crimes,

ydar worftiip profaned, your authority infulted, have
at laft difplayed their
t'lan

vengeance; and thou, divine £a-

Jove, whofe

lakes,

woods and boundaries, he had

fb often defiled
faft

with his deteftable impurities, didft at

open thy eyes, and look down from thy high and
hill to

holy

punilh this profligate wretch; to you his

blood was due, and in your fight the long delayed ven-

geance was

at laft inflifted !"

The

learned Reader will obferve, that the Author

hath taken confiderable liberty in the tranflation of the

above pafTage.
in every verfion
ble, transfufe

As
is

the principal thing to be regarded

to tranflate the fenfe, and, if pofli-

the fpirit of an

Author from one landifferent

guage into another, which, conftdering the
idioms of languages,
is

impoflible to execute,

by rendering

224
^ive
life,

AN
motion,

E

S S

AY
inanimate
judicioufly

and

fenfe to

matter.

Such

figures,

when

introduced and

properly fupported,
vivacity,
;

give

inexpreffible dignity,

and energy
always

to rhetorical compofition

as they

indicate not only Originality, but likewife

great Sublimity and Strength of Genius.

Every Reader mufl perceive the difFerence
betwixt faying that Clodius was flain by
the juft vengeance of the

Gods

for

his

profanation of their groves and

altars,

and

a folemn addrefs to thofe

hills,

groves,

and

altars,

as

well

as

the Deities

who

prefided over them,

by a

ftriking profo-

popceia, as if they were real perfons, call-

ing them to witnefs his
ing his death to
their

guilt,

and imput-

refentment

upon

dering word for word; he found himfelf obliged, in
order to do fome kind of juftice to the original, to

admit fome tranfpofitions and circumlocutions, which,

-though they have occafioned an alteration in the order and arrangement of the periods,

have however

enabled him, as he conceives,
;^bit

lefs

imperfedtly to exhi-

the fenfe.
'

^

account

ON GENIUS.
account of their violated
cafe
rites.

Ms
firft

In the
laft

we

are

unmoved, in the

v^e aft

tranfported with aftonifhment at the novelty,

vivacity,

and grandeur of the r|-

prefentation.

We

fhall

fubjoin

two

fliort

paflages,'

taken from the end of this Oration, as fpe^

cimens of Cicero's talents in moving the
paffions of his hearers, a qualification the

moil

eflential

of

all

others in an Orator.

One may
till

perceive

him

gradually

warm-

ing towards the conclufion of his difcourfe,

he works himfelf up to the higheft

fervour and energy of paffion.
fcarce conceive

We

cajti

an addrefs more animated
or

and
to

perfualive,

more happily adapted
of the Soldi&rs,
fol'

roufe

the

afFe61:ions

who

guarded the AfTembly, than the
*.

lowing

The

* ' Vos, vos
**

appello, fortiflimi viri,
efFudiftis
;

qai

multum
viri
**

pro republica fanguinem

vos in

&

in

Q,

civis

fir^§

AN ESSAYOrator coneludes his difcouffe witfl
virtues ©f

The

k panegyric oa the

MilOj

repre-

"

civis

invidi appello perlcu-Io, centuriones, vosque
:

5' milites

vobis

noa modo

infpedlantfbus, fed etiamr
praefidentibus,
f

atmatis

&

huic judicio

haec
?

tanta?

«f virtas ex
*« jicietur f

hac urbe expetletur

exterminabitur
!

pro-

O

me miferum
Milo^

!

O mfelkem
bos
:

revocare

«
*'
's'

tu

me

in patriam,

potuifti per

ego

te in

patria per

eofdem retinere non potero
€|;^ui

?

Quid

re-

fpondebo libms meis,
tant
?

£e

parentem- alterum pu-

f
«
-'^.

Quid

tibi,

Q^

Frater, qui
?

nunc

abes, conforti
potuiffe

mecura tcmporum
nis faliitera

illorum

me non

Miloille

tueri per eofdem,. per qjios aoftram

^t. fervafet ?'^

" You, you bravefi: to much of your Wood
Centurions,, aud-

of m^n, I
for the

calT,

who have

fhed

commonwealth.

You

you

fold-rers I

invoke, while the fate
is

of an uncon^;uered

man

an^ citizen

ia fufpenfe.

Shall fo much- virtue be banifeed, exterminated, caft

^^t from

this city,

while you are not only fpedators

,©f this trialy but the armed guardians of it?

Unhappy

and mjferable
-thefc

that I

am

!

Could you, MiJto, recal
native country
I

me

.Irom baniftvment into

my
not

by means of

men

?

and
by

fiiall

be able to preferye you in
?

!!your country
;fhildren,
-:%htCy
:i«v-

their

means

What

(hall I fay. to
?

my

whp- tegard you
a;bfeBt brother

as another parent

what to
pat*

my

Quintus, who

didft partici-

ON
fentirig at the

a E Nl U
lofs

S.

52jr

fame time, in a very^nimated

manner, both the
,|vould

and difgrace which

redound to

his country

from

his ba-

nifhment f,

Thefe

pate with

me

in the

dangers of thofe unhappy times

?

that I could not infure the fafety of

Milo

by the fame

perfon« by

whom

he fecyred ours I"

f " Hiccine
**

vir patriae natus,
fi

ufquam

nifi in patria

morietur? aut,

forte, pro patria?
:

Hujus vos aninullum

"
''

mi monumenta
fepulchrum
tentia
efle

retinebitis

corporis in Italia

patiemeni

?

hunc fua quifquam fen-

"'
*'

ex hac urbe expellet, quem omhes urbes exfe

pulfum, a vobis ad

vocabunt

?
!

O

terram

illarn

*'
*'

beatam, quae hunc virum exceperit
ft

banc ingratam,
finis fit.
:

ejecerit; miferam,

ft

amiferit

!

Sed

Nehie fe

*'

que enim

prae lacrymis

jam

loqui poiTum

&

"

lacrymis defendi vetat."

*'

Shall this

man, born
?

for his country,

die

any

where but
for his

in his country

or, if the

country? Will you retain

Gods order it fo, the monuments of
his

his
Italy

genius,

and allow no fepulchre to

body ia

f

Shall -any -6ne

by

his vote banifh a
all

man from
fliall

this

city,

whoxn, once banifhed,

other cities will

invite to rcfidd in

them

?

O
;

happy land, which

l^cejve this excellent perfon

ungrateful that ihall bajiifii

^2

CL2

«2a
^j,

A N

E

S S

AY
they

Thefe. quotations from the Orations of

pEMoSTHENEs and Cicero, though
cannot give us a proper idea of the

aftonifli-

ing eloquence of thofe celebrated Orators,
vvhich
it

is

impoffible to exhibit by a few
extracts, will

vnconnedled
lliew the

however

ferve to

power of original Genius in Elo-

quence, the chief purpofe for which they

were produced
wherever
itfelf,
it

;

and that

this

rare talent,

is

found, will always difcover
already feen, in employ-

as

we have

ing the moft fublime, the

mod

fplendid;

and the moft

ftriking figures in compofition,

as well as in inventing the moft furprifing,

and

at the

fame time the moft proper topics
it

of perfuafion on every fubjeft, which
difplay in
all

will
ir-

their force,

and urge with

refiftible efficacy.

^JniHi

him

!

miferable that fhall lofe
will

him

!

But

I
j

con-

clude.

Nor

my

tears

allow
I

me

to proceed

and
is

the perfon in whofe caufe

(peak, confcious as bC

of

his

own

innocence, difdains the aid, and importU-t

ii:ty

of tears.

^y

a

ON GENIUS.
It is

22^
on
this

impoiTible to avoid obferving
is

fubjed:, that there

no

art in

which the

Moderns come
however omit

fo far fliort

of the Ancients

as in that of Eloquence.
to take
j

We
it

muft not

fome notice of mo-

dern Eloquence
excufable

and here
to

would be

iri-

intireiy

pafs over
it

the French

Orators,

who, though

cannot be pre-

tended that they have equaled the illuftrious Ancients

above-mentioned,

have however

difcovered a high degree of rhetorical
nius.

Ge-

We

fliall

lay before the

Reader a few

extra6ls

from the Sermons of Bourdaloue
paffing

and Massillon,

over

at

prefertt

BossuET and Saurin,

whom we

fliall

Have

occafion to take fome notice of in anotlier

part of this Eilay.

-BouRDALouE,

defcribing the future pu-

.iiiihment of the vv^icked, of
lents their

which he repre^

banifbment fVom the immediate

prelence of the Deity as an eflential' part.

Inquires what

is

implied in the idea of fuch
vvill

a feparation.
'^

The Reader

obferve that
his

CL3

Z2Q

AN ESSAY
upon
Dieu
this point
eft
is

his reafoning

fpirited

^d

emphatical
^^

:

" Car qa'
?

ce

qu' d' etre

fepare de

Ah

!

Chretiens, quelle
?

**

parole

!

la

comprenez vous

Sppare de

^'
** ^*

Dieu, c'eft a dire, prive abfolument de

Dieu.

Separe de Dieu, c'eft a dire, con-?
a n' avoir plus

damne

de Dieu,

fi

ce n'efp

*^'

un Dieu ^nnemi, un Dieu vengeur.

Se-

**'pare de Dieu, c'eft a dire, dechu de tout
*'
**

droit a I'eternelle pofrelTion

du premier de
etre qui eft

tous

les

etres,

du Souverain

*''Dieu *."

After having infifted on the

certainty of the future

punifhment of the

wicked, the Preacher, aftoniihed at the hi^
difference of

mankind

to this great truth.
?

exclaims
*'
^*'

;

" Eft

ce ftupidite

eft

ce inad-

vertence? eft ce fureur?

eft ce

enchante-

ment
tal

?

Crayons-nous ce point fondamen;

**
** *'

du Chriftianifme
?

ne
?

le

croyons-nous

pas

fi
?

rious le croyons
fi

Ou

eft

notf^
eft

fagefie

nous ne

le

croyons pas, ou

* VoJ" V.

Serra. 2,

ON
*^*

G E N
Je
<iis
?

I

U

S.

2.11

notre religion?
le

plus:

fi

nous ne

**
**

croyons pas

que croyons-nous done?

puisqu'il n'eft rien de plus croyable, rien

" de
'*

plus formellement revele par la parole

divine, rien
la raifon

de plus folidement fonde dans
la

"
*'

humaine, rien dont

ereancQ

foit plus necelTaire
le

pour

le tenir les

hom-^

" mes dans
*'

devoir, rien fur quoi le doute

leur

foit

plus
les

pernicieux,
deibrdres -f
."

puisqu'il

ks

CC

porte a tous

Massillon,
gard

whom

v^e

may

juftly redif-

as the Prince

of modern Orators,
pafTions in

plays great

power over the
j

many
**

of

his

Sermons

particularly in that

on
to

the Death of a Sinner," where he

rifes

an uncommon pitch of Eloquence.
defcription of this

His

unhappy man

in the laft

agony of nature,
afFedling
^*
:

is

equally pidlurefque an^.
le

*'

Alors

pecheur mourant ne
le

trouvant plus dans

fouvenir

du

pafse

f Vol. V. Serm.

2.

CtJ.

''

que

;

:%$i

AN-

ES:SA-'V^
;

S^ que des regrets que I'accablent
iff

dans tout

que ce

pafse a fes yeux,
3

que des images

^f qui

I'affligent

dans

la

pensee de I'avenir
:

^* que des horreurs qui I'epouvantent
l^*

ne
ni

fachant plus a

qui

avoir

recours

;

>f|
•jSf

aux

creatures, qui lui echappenti: ni
;

aa

monde, qui s'evanouit

ni

aux hommes, mort

•^*Vqui ne fauroient le delivrer de la
^. ni
**
„**

au Dieu

juile,

qu'il regarde
il

comme

un ennemi

declare, dont
:

ne doit plus
roule dans
il

attendre d'indulgence
j

il

fe

^yits propres horreurs
^' s'agite
**
*'.
,**

il

fe

tourmente,
le faifit,
il

pour

faire la
fe

mort qui

ou
fort

du moins pour
de
fes

fuir

lui-meme:
je

yeux mourans,

ne

fai

quoi de
les

fombre

&

de farouche, qui exprime

<*

fureurs de fon

ame

:

il

poulfe

du fond

" de
_*'*

fa tridelTe des paroles

entrecoupees de
;

fanglots,

qu'on n'entend qu'a demi
fai
fi

6c

" qu*on ne
'*
''

c'eil le defefpoir

ou

le re-

pentir qui les a

formee

j

il

jette fur

ua
qui

Dieu

crucifie des regards afFreux,

&

*'

la'ifTent

douter
la

fi

c'eft la crainte,

ou

I'efpe-

" ranee,
.--^
\

haine ou rambur- qu'ils expri**

menti

: :

QvN^
i^

G E^Nf U
c'eft le

S.

mentj

il

entre dans des faifiilemens
fi

cu

^M
ff:

Ton ignore
oil
il

corps qui

fe

diflbud

I'ame qui fent I'approche de fon Juge
fopire
le

Sf
*.*

profondement
fes
le

&

Ton ne

fait

R

c'eft

Touvenir de
fonpirs

crimes, qui lui ar-

**
**

rache
la

fes

ou

defefpoir de quitter
fes fes

vie.

Enfin, au milieu de
fes

triftes

'^efforts,

yeux
fon

fe

fixent,
fe

traites
j

" changent, " bouche

vifage

defigure
d'elle

fa

livide

s'entre

ouvre
;

meme
ccrame

"
"

tout fon efprit fremit
effort fon

&

par ce dernier

ame

infortunie s'arrache

" a regret de ce corps de bouc, tombe ehtrd
<*
«*

les

mains de Dieu,

&

fe

trouve feule aux

pieds

du

tribunal redoutable +."

In the

fame Sermon, taking a view of the death
of a good

man,

by way of

contraft,

we

meet with the following eloquent exclamation
:

" Grand Dieu

!

que de lumiere'f
1

" que de paix! que de tranfports heureux
**

que de

faints

mouvements

d'

amour

!

de

:..^<.

,

.

,J,\|^pLI

Serm. 2.

234
*^

AN
renouvelle
j

E

S S

AY

^
de grace,
fa

joie,

de coniance,

d' actions

f^.fe pafTent alors
^•**foi li

dans cette amefidele!
Ton

amour
-,

& s'enflam-

" me
««

;

fa ferveur s'excite

fa

componction

fe reveille."

It

is

very al^onifhing,

that while our

own

country can claim the honour of hav-

ing given birth to feveral eminent Poets,

and many great Philofophers,
while

it

ihould

not have given birth to one accomplifh-

ed Orators

and

that,

it

can boaft

of having produced an equal to
the perfon of

Homer

in

Milton,

it

fhould never once

jiave produced, either in the eloquence

of

the Pulpit or the Bar, a rival to

Demost-

henes or Cicero

1

Indeed,

when we conto conftitute

fider the great variety

of qualifications, both

33atural

and acquired, neceffary

a complete Orator,

we cannot

expedl they
;

{hould often be united in one perfon

though

that this union fhould never have happened
in

any one inflance in modern times, mufl

be conferred to be really wonderful., ..^Jiat^
is

ON GENIUS.
is

235

ftlllmore furprifing,

is,

that in the vaft

multitude of Sermons, which this age and
the
laft

hath produced,

many of which
ftile,

abound with foUd

reafoning, as fome are

diftinguifhed by the elegance of their

we have
particular

feen very few attempts at genuine

Eloquence.

The Author however
pleafure

takes a

in

obferving,

that

in

fome Sermons

lately publifhed, there are to

be found feveral diftinguifhed fpecimens oF
true oratorial Genius
;

and he makes

rib

doubt that he
Readers,

fliall

oblige

moft of his
fliort

by giving a few

extra6ls

from them,
ip a Sermon delivered before his Ma*jefty's

Commiflioner to the Church oi S0-^'
in

land,

May

1760, by

Dr Fordyce,

arid

publifned at Edinburgh y the Preacher, after

having fhewn in a very eloquent manner tha
folly

and infamy of unlawful pleafure, pro-

ceeds to take a view of the mifery. attending
it
J

in doing

which he paints the voluptuary
fit uation,

ii;
:

a very alarming

in the

imme^
diate

7%^

.^JQn

PiE^^srs

kyo
Let the

•dlate profpefl

of his

difiTolution.

candid Reader judge whethei: the foliowiag
pafTage does not exhibit a very flriking pic*
ture of the Hate of aivabandoned Libertine
ill
.^*

that awful crifis;;:*^:0 the fhudderingSi
the ftrong rcludance, the unimaginable
convuljfions that feize his nature, as

^*

he

"
*^

ftands lingering on. the tremendous preci*
pice
!

Ke

wifhes for annihilation, which
tried

<'

he often

to believe in, but could
of.

.**.

never ferioufly be convinced

The

^
.*'

dreadful alternative inrirely niifgives him^

He

meditates the devouring abyfs of eter*
it."

**

nity: he recoils as he eyes

There

is

a particular propriety in the
vi'hich
$s,

(liort
;

fentences

conclude this pafiage

and they are

.ftrongly exprefOve

of the. iituation they

are intended to defcribe, as any I ever, rey

member

to have read.
-

After finifliing the

defcription

i?i .a.

few more rentences, the
ernphatlcally

Author A'cry naturally ^nd very
^{ks,
**

*Ms

this the

man

that-,

laughed, the

children of w;if:lom^ and- tern pe ranee, to

*V

iconi

?

Is

he of

the. fame^gpinipn,.. think

OtlS^

G:E N rU.S.
?

t^f

% ye,
**

at the laft

"

Then

follows a reflect

tion, as pathetic in itfelf as the .language is

beautiful in

which

it is

exprefled

:

**

Ah, how
iit

different his fentiments

and language

!5,

the

bower of

pleafure,

and on the bed of
will find
feveral
Ser-s.

f^'

death!"

The Reader

other ftrokes of true Eloquence in this

mon,

as well as in the other occafional Dif-

courfes publifhed by the fame Author.

There

is

a palTage

much

to our purpofe in

a fmall colle6lion of Sermons, lately publiihed

by Dr Ogilvie

;

who, though he has dedia high

cated his Genius principally to Poetry, in

which he has acquired
tation, pofTeiTes at the

and

juft

repu^
urii

fame

tin^e,

in an

common

degree, the eflentTal qualifications

of the Orator.
above referred
to,

In one of the Sermons

we
1

meet with the follow:

ing bold and fublime apoftrophe
**

"

O yi
with

immortal

fpirits

who are

at this

moment

^
,**
.«!

exulting in the regions of

felicity,

what

fuperior indifference

do you look
a^jfurcl

down on
'

the

little cares,

the

pre-

-

**

fumptioHj

tz^
^'

,^AN E
!

S S

AY
fecretj

fumptlon^ the inconfiftent characlers of

*'
** ^'
*'

mankind

You who

can trace the

the imperceptible fleps, by which Provi-

dence hath conduded you to your eternal
inheritance,

muft fometimes look with

" an eye of
^'
^'

pity

on your

furviving friends^

dancing the fame tirefome round of giddy
pleafure,

and prepofterouily afcribing to
thofe a6lions, to

" themfelves
^*
•*

which you

fee

them gradually conducted by a
a noble effort of elevated Genius.

fuperior

hand!" This abrupt and fublime addrefs

is

r

Th€

E;?^///^

Preachers are^

it

is

certain,

tnore diftinguifhed by their justness of

SEKTIMENT, and STRENGTH of REASONING,
than by their OR ATORiAL powers, or
lents
ta-

of affecting the passions.

More

folicitous to

gonvinge than persuade, they
abilities

choofe to employ their
cvouring to imprefs the
jthe truths

in endea-

mind with

a fenfe of

they deliver by the force of argu-

jnentation, inftead of roufing the affections
-by the

energy of

tlieir

Eloquence.

But

though

ihougli

we meet with no examples

in their

writings of thofe ftrokes of paffion

which

^EHETRATE and CLEAVE
which
rent
;

the heart at oncCj

or of that rapid overpowering Eloquence,
carries every thing before
it

like a tor-

yet there

may

be found in their Ser^

mons many inftances of the moH fbining and
delicate beauties of Rhetoric, fuch as indi^

cate

great

fertility, though not

equafi

FORGE of Imagination.
thefe beauties.

Upon account of Seed and Atterbury claim

a particular preeminence.

A

dignity of

SENTIMENT, a SMOOTHNESS, and EASY £LEiGANCE of DiGTioN, are remarkably
cuoU'S in the
confpi--

Works of

both

>

and the Ser^

mons of

the former are adorned with the

richeft variety of beautiful

and

well- adapted
iti

imagery, that
profe writer.

I

have ever met with

^

He

excels peculiarly in the

application of the metaphor.

Let the

foj-

lowing paflage ftand as an example of his
dexterity in varying
.pleafing figure.
jQifia life

and appropriating

this

Speaking of the advantages
**

uniformly good, he adds,

How

b^o

AN ESSAY
this

V
**
**

^*'

ferment of our youthful paffions, and sweeten the laft DREGS of our advanced age how would this make our lives yield the calmest fawould

SETTLE

the

!

** *'
•'

tisfa6lion, as

fome flowers fhed the moft
juft at the clofe

FRAGRANT ODOURS day! And perhaps
to prevent a
fpirit

of the

there

is

no

better

way

•**

deadness and flatness of
than to acquire

•'

from fucceeding,when the briskness
off,

.**

of our paffions goes

**

an early

tafle for thofe fpiritual delights,

>'
••

whofe leaf withers not, and whofe ver-

dure remains in the winter of our days -f" Having fliewn the infufficiency of the mere
light of nature to clear

up our doubts, or

re-

move our

fears,

arifmg from the apprehen-

fion of future

punifhment for thofe crimes

of which we are confcious, he concludes

with an obfervation, in which, by perfonifying Reafon, he
rifes to

a confiderable degree
at

of Eloquence

;

" Here then Reafon was
it

'* the end of its line^

flood

upon the

fliore.

f Vol.

I.

page 296.
l[

eyed

ON GENIUS.
**

24:1

^* eyed the vaft ocean of Eternity which lay
before
it,

faw a

little,

imagined a great

"f*

deal; but clouds and darknefs foon terniinated
fliall
its

T

narrow profpefl ^."

To

thefe

we
the
ing,

only add one other pafiage from
in

Sermon
as
it

which we found the preced-

will fliew

what

additional

grace

the moft noble fentiments

may

derive

from

a

feries

of imagery equally appolite and beau**

tiful.
**

Carry thy eye upwards to that

btefled place,
it

where thy nature

fhall
all

be as
drofiy

"

were

caft

anew, purified from
coarfe
alloys

" mixtures and
**

of

human

frailty,

but brightened and refined as to

**

the flerling luftre
cies

and genuine excellen-

** **

of the

foul.

Here

is

one continued

repetition of the
jefts,

fame unfatisfa6lory obnothing

"

and there

is

new under

the

"fun; but there, far perhaps above the ^** 'fiin, new fcenes, new beings, new won^' ** 'dei*s, new joys will prefent themfelves to

* Vol.

I.

page 321.

:;5vi

R

^'

our

242
Iff
*1

A N
as

E

S S

AY
this

our enlarged view. world

Look then upon

one wide ocean, where many are
loft,

;#i

fhipwrecked and irrecoverably
.are tofled

more

IS

and fla6luating

j

but none can

U

fecure to themfelves for any confiderable
:

of time a future undifturbed calm
,7^

the fhip

.however

is

ftill

under
or

fail,

and whether

,^ the
.*^;

weather be

fair

fo>ul,

we

are every

minute making nearer approaches to, and

J^f^muft fhortly reach the fhore;

and may
4**
1

it

'^h^ the haven where we would be

The

Bifliop of Rochejiery defcribing the

happinefs

of an acquaintance with God,

fums up
tiful

the whole with the following beaurefledlion
;

and foothing

which

is

well

calculated to infpire that ferenity of mind,

which flows from the acquaintance he
!

re-

commends. " O the fweet contentment, " the tranquillity, and profound reft of
**

mind

that he enjoys,

'*

God, and

to

who is a friend of whom God therefore is a
page 345.

t Vol.

I.

"

friend

-,

O N
"
**

G E N
and
is

I

U

S.

243
all

friend

-,

who

hath gotten loofe from

meaner

purfuits,

regardlefs of all

'*
**
^*

lower advantages that interfere with his
defire of

knowing and loving God, and of
beloved by

being

known and

him

j

who
up
to

**

lives as in his fight

always, looks

" him
•*
**

in every ftep of his condu6t, imitates

him

to the beft of his power, believes

him

without doubt, and obeys him without referve *," &c.

a

In his Sermon on the anni-

verfary of the

Martyrdom of King Charles
unhappy
by a

the Firft, he conveys to us a lively idea of

the fufFerings of that

Prince,

fublime metaphor

:

"

The

pafTage through
fhort
in
;

"
**

this Red-fea

was bloody, but
ftrengthened

a di-

vine

Hand

him
it
j

it,

and

•*
**
**

ccrndu(5led

him through

and he fooa

reached the fhore of
iity

blifs

and immorta-

f."

*

Atterbury's Sermons,
l^i^-

vol. 11. p. 198.

t

vol.

IV.

p. 13.

R

2

To

244

A N

E

S S

AY

To

the examples above produced, I take

the Hberty to fubjoin one other paflage of a
different

kind

j

but which, by every real

judge, will be acknowledged to deferve a
diftinguiihed regard, fince
all
it is

animated with

the boldnefs and enthufiafm of the Orator
Patriot.

and the
eye,
is

The

paflage

I

have in

my

faid to

have been part of a fpeech de-

livered in the Britijh Senate,

by a

late great
j

Commoner, upon
and that
it

a very popular occafion
flile

is

conceived in an high

of

Eloquence,
*'

I will

venture to affirm. "
to

I

never
fet

feared any

man, nor paid court
I

any

*'
*'

of men.

have worfhipped the Goddefs
I

Liberty alone, ever fince

drew

my breath.
the fpirit

"I
•'

hope to do

fo in a

land of liberty while

that breath remains.
fhall
I

And when
this

" "
**

have forfaken

crazy tabernacle,
to

pray

my

Guardian Angel

throw

my

afhes on that fpot of the globe where Free-

"

dom

reigns."

What the
I

effect

of

this part I

of the fpeech was in the Briii/h Senate,
not heard
j

have
it

but

am

well perfuaded that

would have been applauded in the Roman

Forum,

O N
though perhaps
to fuit the cold

G E N rU
it

S.

245
j

Forum, or by an Athenian Aflembly
is

and

of too elevated a kind

and

corre61:

Genius of a mo-

dern
jed:

Critic,

it

would have airorded a fub-

of Panegyric to Longinus or Qu^inti-

LIAN.

It

is

not our prefent bufinefs to inquire

into the caufes of our deficiency in
tory, as

Ora-

we

intend, in a following fe6lion,

to hazard

fome

refle6lions

on the

fubje6l.

In the

mean time we may

obferve in general,
to Elo-

that moft of our

modern pretenders

quence feem to have confidered mankind in
the fame light in which
the celebrated

Voltaire regarded Dr Clarke, as mere reafonthey feem to have confidered

ing machines

:

them
and

as purely intelledual, void
fenfibility.

of paffion

This ftrange mifi:ake

may

perhaps be fuppofed to be partly the effed of
the philofophical fpirit of the times, which,
like all other prevailing
its

modes,

is

fubjeft to
it
is,

deliriums

;

certain

however

that

while

man

remains a compound being, con-

R

3

fifiing

246
filling

AN ESSAY
of reafon and paflion, his
a(ftions will
latter,

always be prompted by the
ever degree his opinions

in

what-

may

be influenced
as

by the former.

So long however

men
is

continue ignorant of the nature, and indifferent to the iludy of Eloquence, there
little

reafon to hope for the difplay of Ori-

ginality of
thelefs if

Genius

in this noble art.
its

Neverextent,

we

confider

nature,

its
it is

and the improvements of which
tible, w-e fhall

fufcep-

have abundant reafon to con-

clude, that this talent

may

ftill

be difplayed
it

to the utmoft advantage, as doubtlefs

will

be in every age,
to favour
its

when

circamftances concur

exertion.

There are innumeheart,

rable avenues to the
rable

human

innume-

methods oY captivating the affedions,

of roufmg the paffions, and influencing the
will
J

and powerful

as

was the eloquence of
thofe great

Demosthenes and Cicero,
tors,

Orahave

with

all

their admirable invention,
all

not exhaufl:ed
It will indeed

the treafures of their art.
difficult to

be extremely

invent

means of raifmg and

allaying, of foothing

and

:

ON GENIUS.
and
irritating,

347

of agitating and inflaming

the paffions of mankind, different from

what

have been pradifed by thofe immortal Orators

above-mentioned

;

and perhaps

it

will

be

ftill

more

difficult to

improve the means
fo fuccefsfully

which they have invented and
ufed.

To
is

accomplifh thefe purpofes

how-

ever
fore

certainly not impofiible *,
of.

and there-

ought not to be defpaired

Let us in the next place obferve the
of ORIGINAL Genius in Mufic
}-.

efforts

The

*

*'

Sed cur

deficiat

animus

?

Natura enim perfe^utn
:

" Oratorem

efle
fieri

non prohibet
poteft."

turpiterque defperatur
Injlit.

quicquid

Quintil.

lib.

I.

cap. 10.

f Mufic appears to have been in great efteem among Quintilian in particular beftows the the ancients.
higheft
that
it

encomiums on

this

divine art

;

and

tells

us,

was cultivated by the

greateft and wifeft

men of

antiquity

R

4

«

Nam

248

-A-N

t^:;£-S

AYo

_ The, talents
ferent.
ileal

of a performer, and a mas«*

T.ER and; COMPOSER of Mufic, are very dif-

^Tql .confiitute the
,

firfl,

a nice

mu-

ear^,

and
,

.3 dexterity
.

of performance

acquired

.by

habit,

are the fole requifites.

To

cpnflitute the lafl, not only a nice

mu-

fical ear,
.fipir,.

but an exquifite

fenfibility

of paf-

together with a peculiar conforma*^

;i:|F*

'Nam

-

quis ignbrat

Muficen (ut de hac primum
ilijs

*'^

Joquar) tantum; jam;
fiudii

antiquis

temporibus nori^

*'
*''

modo,. yeiEum etiam venerationis habuifle, ut

iidem

& Mufici H

vates,

&
&

fapientes judicarentur
;

?

''J^-lIttam alios :--Orpheus
*'

Linus

quorum utrummulceret,

que Diis genitum, alterum vero quod fudes quoque
atque agreftes
feras

"
*'

animos admiratione

non
.

modo,

led faxa

etiam fylvasque duxifle,
eft.

pofte-r

",

ritratis

memorise traditum

Et

feftes

Timagenes
-'

" auclor eft, omnium in Uteris ftudiorum antiquiffi" mam Muficen extitilTe & teftimonio funt clariffimi
;

..

'*

Poetae, apud quos inter regalia convivia laudes

He-

roum ac Deorum
i.

ad citharas canebantur."

In/lit.

lib;

cap. lo.

'ttie

fame Author

juftly obferves, in another part

of

his excellent

Work,
is

that the pleafure
:

which

we

derive

from Mufic

founded in nature
Lib.'ix. cap. ^,

" Natura

datimur-'

"

ad modos."

ite '"jbli&IO'

TION

ON> G E N
TiON of Genius
indifpenfibly neceffary.

I

U

S.

249

to this particular art, arc

Though

all

the

li-

beral Arts are indebted to Imagination in

common, a talent for each of them refpe^ively depends upon the peculiar modification
and ADAPTATION of
veral
this faculty to the fe-

respective

Arts.

Thus

the Poet,

having by the force of Imagination formed
lively

images of the obje6ls he propofes to

defcribe, thinks only of exprefling his ideas

in fmooth

and harmonious numbers

;

the

Painter, having the fame vivid conception of

every obje6l,

is

wholly intent on exhibiting a

reprefentation of

them

in colours, as if he
ideas
5

had no other method of conveying his

and the Mufician, having
crotchets

his

head

filled

with

and concords,
his

airs

and

fonatas,

employs

Imagination intirely in combin-

ing a variety of founds, and trying their

power,

in

order to conftitute harmony.
itfelf

A

mufical Genius naturally exerts
cifes

in exer^

of

this kind,

and
it is

is

indicated by them.
confefTed, that

In

this art likewife

muft be

confideratle fcope

afforded for the exertions

2|^

AN

E

S

$

ATr
Every
feel,

tions even of

original Genius.
and

mafterly Compofer of Mufic muft
the moft intenfe

in

exquifite degree, the

various emotions,which, by his compofitions,

he attempts to excite in the minds of others;

Even

before he begins to compofe a piece of

mufic, he muft

work

himfelf

up

to that

tranfport of paffion,
prefs

which he

defires to

ex*

and

to

communicate

in his piece.

In

efFeduating this purpofe, Imagination operates very powerfully,

by awakening in

his

own mind
ing
of
;

thofe particular afFedions, that
is

are correfpondent to the airs he

meditat-

and by raifing each of

thefe to that tone
paffion,

fenfibility,.

and that fervor of

which

is

moft favourable to compofition.

This fervor and enthufiafm of paffion,
be termed the infpiration of Mufic
the principal quality which gives
irrefiftible
it
;

may
is

and

fuch an
heart.

empire over the

human

The maxim of Horace,
Si vis.meflere,

dolendtm

eft

pimum

ipfi tibi.
?

Would you
Firft.

have

me

participate your pain

teach yourfelf to feel the woes you feign;
IS

O
is

N G

E

N ru

S.

251

a rule as necefTary to be obferved by a
in thofe ftrains

Compofer of Muiic,
as by a Tragic Poet,

which
grief^

are intended to excite

fympathy and

who would

excite the

fame

eijiGtions.

We

may

farther obferve, that as an arbi-

trary combination of founds can never pro-

duce the harmony,

much

lefs

the expreffion

of Mufic, any more than a random affemhlage of words can

make an
-,

elegant

and

connected

poem

or oration

fo

Imagination,
ear,

under the diredion of a tuneful
affift

muft

the mufical Artift in adopting and

combining thofe founds only, which may affe^l the paflions in the

manner he

intends*

It

muft be granted indeed, that the

ef-

foits of Imagination difcovered in

Mufic^

though not
{^o

inconfiderable, are

by no means

extraordinary as in any of the Arts above-

mentioned.

The

exercife of

this quality

feems in Muiic to be fomewhat confined,

being neceffarily fubjefted to, and under the
diredioii

;

252

AN ESSAY
which
it is

dire6lion of the ear, by

aflifted
it
is

whereas
folute

in

Poetry and Eloquence,

ab-

and unbounded, as every idea of the
be defcribed
reftrained,
;

mind may
is

and

in Painting,

it

very

little

fmce moft of the^

may

be delineated.

After

all,

when we

confider

ways there

are of affefling the
;

how many human heart

by the power of founds

how

the afFe£lions

may

be melted into tendernefs, or kindled
;

into tranfport
raifed

how

the paffions

may be

and
they

allayed, agitated

and inflamed;

how

may

be elevated to the higheft

pitch of fublimity, fired with heroic ardor,

or lulled in the voluptuous languor of effe-

minate luxury

;

we may be

fufiiciently

confield

evinced, that there remains

an extenfive

yet unoccupied for the difplay of

Origina-

LiTYi of Genius, in the noble art of which

we

are treating.

It is

much

to be regretted,

that our

modern Mafters

in this art liave.in

general endeavoured to render their
fitions
'^

compo-

pleafing.to the ear, rather than affeftin^

,

O^^k

xi'iE
j

N

I

U

S.

253

feeling to the heart

that they have (ludied

the foft and delicate graces, rather than the

fublime and animated expreffion of Mufic;

and that by attempting

to heighten

its

me-

lody, they have in a great meaAire deprived
it

of the energy and eloquence of pafGon,

and thereby rendered mufical concerts rather
a dehcious gratification, than.
exalted entertainment,

aii:ufeful,
'^fr-i-'^
'

and
-

j

v''

We

fhall confider laftly,

how

far

Origi-

nality of Genius may be
Architei5lure.

difcovered in

rlt muft be
modern
tion

confefTed, that

no improve-,
by our

ments have, been made
Architects,

in this art

whofe
it

greateft

ambi-

and excellence

hath been, to under-

ftand and to copy thofe venerable remains

of ancient Architedure, which have efcaped
the rage of Barbarians,

or withflood the

ravages of time.

Thofe auguft monuments

of antiquity, which have been the wonder

and admiration of

ages,

have been confider-

254

AN E

S S

AY

ed, by the moft Ingenious artlfts thertifelves,
as complete

Models of Archite6lure, from
and are in fa6l fuch

which nothing can be taken, and to which
nothing can be added
as few of
;

them have

ever equaled, and

none

of them (whether through want of

ability,

or want of ambition) have ever excelled.

Great veneration
ancient Genius.

is

unqueftionably due to indeed
s

The Ancients have
liberal

been our Mafters in the
their produd^^ions deferve

Arts

and

our higheil com-

mendations: yet

let

us not fhew them a
reverence.

blind and fuperftitious
lute

Abfo-

perfe6lion
;

is

incompatible with the

works of man

and while we regard the
as fo perfe6V, that

works of the Ancients

we

defpair of excelling them, the confequence
will be, that

we

fhall

never be able to equal
will always be prefer-

them

:

the

original

able to the COPY.

We
fhall

have already ani-

madverted on
antiquity *
;

this too fervile deference to

and

only here remark,

* Book

I.

Seaion

II.

that

ON GEN
that this difpofition
is

I

U

S.

255

highly unfavourabk
j

to the improvement of any of the Arts

and

that a diffident timidity will always pro^re a

greater difeoaragement, as well as obftraction to Originality of Genius, than prefamiptuoiis temerity.

yond
and

its

fphere,

The one, in afpiring bemay indeed tumble from its
but the other, cautious

towering height;

fearful, will fcarcc ever rife

from th^

Wliere few attempts therefore are made
to excel, original Genius cannot be tnuch
difplayed.
It is neverthelefe certain,
is

that
it

great fcope

afforded for the difplay of
of, in

in

the Art

we are fpeaking

which an un-

reftrained exereife is allowed to the faculty

6f Imagination, becaufe the forms of

ele-

gance and gracefulncfs, of beauty and grandiebf,^ which
it is its

province to invent, are
this

innumerable.
ftrained,

Where

faculty

is

re*

and the ambition and exertion of
of
it

Artifts are confined to the imitation

cer-^

tain
^^I3:Z

Models invented by others, there

can-

not

256

AN ESS AY
will

^

not operate in any confiderable degtee

;

for

IMITATION
nation,

ever be found a bar to

ORIGINALITY.

A

pretty cxtenfive Imagi-

we

confefs,

may

be exerted in aflem*
onfe'

bling together the detached parts of
great defign
;

and when thefe are united to-

gether in the conftrudtion of an edifice of

confummate fymmetry and beauty, we
low the building
to be

al-

an

illuftrious

monu-

ment of the Genius and Tafte of the Artift who defigned it but where the whole is
:

only ingenioufly colledled, and
vented, a claim to

no

part in-

originality of Genius
his favour.

can by no means be admitted in

A
nal,

Genius for Archite6lure truly origiwill,

by the native force and
ftrike

plaftic
itfelf

power of Imagination,

out for
this

new and
by
its

furprifing

Models in

Art; and, of

combining

faculty, will felect cut

the infinite variety of ideal forms that float
'in the
tiful,

mind, thofe of the Grand and Beau-

which
as well

it

will unite in

one confumdefign.

mate

as

uncommon

We
have

ON GENIUS.
other of the hberal Arts,
guiflied
It
is

257

have already obferved, that every original
Genius, whether in Architecture or in any
peculiarly diftln-

by a powerful bias to invention.
this bias

was

which we may

call the in-

ftin6live,

infuppreffible Impulfe of Genius,
efforts

whofe fpontaneous

defigned thofe ftufo

pendous Gothic ftru6lures, that appear
magnificent in their ruins.

The Archite6ls,
though

#ho

firft

planned

thofe edifices,

unacq-uainted with the polite Arts, or with
the Grecian and

Roman ArchiteClure, were
them by the unaided
Genius.

doubtlefs great Originals in their profeflion,

fmce they planned
ftrength of their

own

Their un-

tutored imaginations prompted
pire to the Solemn, the Vaft,
derful
;

them

to af-

and the

Won-

and allowing an unbounded fcope to

the exercife of this faculty, they were enabled to give to their buildings that awful,

though irregular grandeur, which

elevates

the mind, and produces the moil: pleafing

aftonifhment,

Thefe Gothic

edifices

fhew
in

the inventive power of the S

human mind

a ftriking

25^
3 flriking

A N
light,

E

S,S

AY

and are fufEcient to con-

vince us, that excellence in Archite6lure was

not confined to the Greeks and Romans^ but

may

be fometimes difplayed

among

a people

in other refpedls barbarous.

Though

it

is

impolTible to point out the

particular tracks

which an original Ge#
will purfue, in
art

Nius in Architedlure

endea-

vouring to improve the

he

profeffes, as

thofe tracks are fo various, and the natural

powers of Artifts are

fo different
all

j

yet

we

may

remark,

that after

the improvein the
it

ments which Architedure received
age of Perigles and of Augustus,
fufceptible

feems

of one important improvement,

from the union of the awful Gothic grandeur with the majeftic fimplicity and graceful elegance of the Grecian
fices;

and Roman

edi-

and that by fuch an union originain this art

lity of Genius
difplayed.

might be fignally

We

ON
'

O

EN

I

Vs.

2s§
with obearlief!:

We fhall

conclude

this feftion

ferving, that

though the fimpleft and

periods of fociety are favourable tO original
defcriptive Poetry, w^hich
ately

we

(liall

immedi-

endeavour to fhew, and Eloquence will
its

always be exerted in

utmoft power under

a Democratical form of government, during
the reign of Liberty and public Spirit 5 Paint-

ing and Archite6ture will in general attain
their higheft degree

of improvemeat, in the
of fociety, under the
ir-

moft advanced

flate

radiations of Monarchical fplendor,

aided

by the countenance and encouragement of
the great and opulent.

S

r?

SECTiOM

26.0

A N

E

S S

AY

^mui:BE C T

I

O

R,a.y.

THAT ORIGINAL POETIC *^^ N U E I G
-

..•-..;
Vigour

.li

Will

in general be difplayed in its utmoft

IN

tWe early and uncultivated
I

j^

E R

O D

S

OF

S

O C

I

ET
it j

Y^

Which

are peculiarly favourable to

AND THAT
It will

feldom appear in a very high Degree in

-%%'-L''%YV A T E D

LIFE.

HAVING
Arts,

pointed out the exertions

of ORIGINAL Genius in the different

and

particularly in Poetry,

we

Ihall

now

confider the period of fociety moft fa-

vourable

ON GENIUS.
vourable to the difplay of

261

Originality of
art
5

Genius
period

in the lafl

mentioned

and
and

this
leaft

we

affirm to be the earlieft

cultivated.

To
man

afiert that this divine art, to

an exof huits

cellence in

which the higheft
requifite,

efforts

Genius are

fhould attain

utmoft perfedion in the infancy of

fociety,

when mankind
flate

are only emerging from a

of ignorance and barbarity, will appear
it is

a paradox to fome, though
tionable truth
;

an unques-

and a
it is

clofer attention will

convince us, that

agreeable to reafon, as

well as confirmed *by experience.

While Arts and

Sciences are in their
flate,

firft

rude and imperfe6l

there

is

great

fcope afforded for the exertions of Genius.

Much

is

to be bbferved

;

much

is

to be dii-

covered and invented.
ever in general exerts

Imagination how*

itfelf

with more fuccefs

in the Arts than in the Sciences; in the for-

mer of which

its

fuccefs

is

more rapid than
in

S3

%&2
in the

AN ESSAY
latter.
its

Adlive as this faculty

is

in

its

operations,

difcoveries in fcience are for

the moil part attained by flow
fleps.

and gradual
and
fe-

They

are the efFe6l of long
;

vere inveiligation

and

receive their higheft
civilized flate
efforts

improvement in the moft
fociety.

of

On

the other

hand the
leafl,

of

Imagination, in Pqetry at

are impe-

tuous, and attain their utmofl perfeflion at
once, even in the rudeft form of focial
life.

This

art does not require long

and fedutou^
and excelunla*

application, to confer Originality

lence

on

its

produ6lions

:

its

earliefl

boured

elTays

generally pofTefs both in the

highefl degree.
fo,

The

reafons

why

they dp

will be affigned

immediately.
obferve, as
ia

In the

mean time we may
by no means the
but
is

circumis

flance defer ving our attention, that this

cafe with the other arts,

peculiar to Poetry alone.

Painting,

Eloquence, Mufic and Archite6lure, attain
their highefl
efforts

improvement by the repeated
Artifts, as well as the

of ingenious

fcience?

by the

reiterated refearches

and ex-

periments

ON GENIUS.
periments of Philofophers
;

263

though, as

we

have already obferved, Imagination operates imth greater rapidity in the improvement
of the former, than in that of the latter;
but
ftili

it

operates gradually in the

iman

provement of both.

There never

arofe

eminent Painter, Orator, Mulician, Archite6l or Philofopher, in

any

age, completely

felf^taught, without being indebted to his

predeceflbrs in the art or fcience he profelTed.

Should

it

be objeded, that the art

of Painting was revived, and brought to the

utmoft perfe6lion to which
in

it

ever arrived

modern

times, in

one

fingle age, that

of

Leo

the Tenth,

we

anfwer.

That the

Italian

Matters, though they had none of the ancient paintings to
ferve

them

as

models,

had however fome admirable remains both
of the Grecian and Roman ftatuary, which^ by heightening
its

their ideas of excellence in their ambition,

fifter art,

and kindling

contributed greatly to the perfe6tion of their

works.
rife

Arts and Sciences indeed generally
fall
:

and

together; but, excepting Poetry

-;r

y-

S

4.

alone,

; ;

264
alone,

A^
they

N

E, S S A-^Y

.

rife

and

fall

by
:

juft,

though

not always by equal degrees

fometimes ad-

vancing with quicker progrefs to the fummit

of excellence, fometimes declining from

it

by flower

fteps

j

in proportion to the differ-

ent degrees of Genius, and application with
vrhich

they are cultivated,

confidered

in

-connedliion

with thofe external caufes, which
their

promote or obftru6l
It is

improvement.

very remarkable however, that in the

earlieft

and mofl uncultivated periods of
Poetry
is

fociety,

by one great

effort

of na-

ture,

in one age,

and by one individual,

brought to the highefl perfection to which

human Genius
not only
ar^,

is

capable of advancing

it

when

the other Arts and Sciences

in a languiihing flate, but
fo

when

they

do not

much

wrote his Iliad

Thus Homer and Odyjjejy when there
as
exift.

was not a
Greece
\

fingle

pi6lure

to

be feen

in

and Ossian compofed Fingal and
none of the Arts, whether
or mechanical, were
is

Tremora y yNh&w
liberal

known

in his

cpiinti^2rv,;jhi§

a

curious

phenomenon

ON^
noTi
It..
J

GEN

I

U

S.

265
for

let

us

endeavour to

account

The firft reafon we nal Poetic Genius

(hall afllgn of

origi-

being moft remarka-

bly difplayed in an early

and

uncultivatecl

period of fociety, arifes from the antiquity

of the period

itielf,

and from the appearance

of novelty in the obje6ls which Genius contemplates.
lives

A

Poet of real Genius,

who

in a diftant uncultivated age, polTefTes

great and peculiar advantages for original

compofition, by the mere antiquity of the

period in which he
the
firft

lives.

He

is

perhaps

Poet

who hath
j

arifen in this infant

date of fociety

by which means he enjoys

the undivided empire of Imagination with-

out a

rival.

The mines of Fancy
and the

not havleft to

ing been opened before his time, are

be digged by him

;

treafures they

contain become his own, by a right derived

from the

firft

difcovery.

The whole
is fubje<fled

fyftem

of nature, and the whole region of fidion,
yet unexplored by others,
to his

furvey,

2m
lurvey,

IAN E
from which he

S S

AY
and render

culls thofe rich fpoils,-

which adorn

his compofitions,
It

them

original.
tHis,

may
it

be faid indeed, in
is

ahfvvei: to

arid

true,

That the
by
is

flores of nature are inexhauftible

human
ever va-

imagination, and that her face
rious and ever

new

j

but

it

may

be replied.
readily

That fome of her
found than
eye of Fancy,

flores

are

more

others, being lefs hid

from the

and fome of her features
becaufe

more

eafily

hit,

more

flrongly
therefore,

marked.

The

firft

good Poet

polTeffing thofe unrifled treafures,

and concould

templating thefe unfullied features,

not

fail

to prefent us with a draught fo

finking, as to deferve the
plete

name of

a

com-

Original.

We

may

farther obferve,*
is

that the objecls with
ed,

which he

furround-

have an appearance of novelty, which,

in a

more

cultivated period, they in a great
;

meafure
fpeaking

lofe

but which, in that

we

are^

of, excites

an attention,

curiofityl

and

furprife, highly favourable to the exer-

tion of Genius, and

fomewhat refembling
that

ON GENIUS.
that

267
cur
firft

which Milton

attributes to

anceftor:
Straight towardHeaven my wond'ringeyes I turn'd»

And

gaz'd a while the ample iky.
Paradife Lojij

Book viii.

line 257.

About me round
Hill, dale,

I

faw

and ihady woods, and funny plains.

And

liquid lapfe of

murmuring

ftreams.

Line 261*

Such a perfon looks round him with wonder
;

every obje6l

is

the power to affecl
pleafurcj

new to him, and has him with furprife and
is

and

as

he

not familiarifed by

previous defcription to the fcenes he contemplatesj thefe ftrike
their full force
nillied
i

upon

his

mind with

and the Imagination afto-

and enraptured with the furvey of and the Beautiful in

the Vafl, the Wild,

nature, conveyed through the

medium of

fenfe, fpontaiteoufly expreffes its vivid ideas

in bold

and glowing metaphors, in fublime,

animated and pi£lurefque defcription. Even
a Poet

•26B

A-;N
'of

'

E

S S

AY

a Pcet
ftate

ordinary Genius will in fiieh a

of fociety prefent us with fome origij

nal ideas in his compofitions
lying open to his view in
variety,
field,

far nature

all its

extent and

in contemplating this

unbounded

fo fmall a part

of which hath been
fail

yet occupied by others, he can hardly
feleft

to

fome diftinguifhing obje6ls which have

efcapedthe notice of the vulgar, and which
deicribed in Poetry

may flamp upon

it

a de-

gree of

Originality.

We
the

may

add,

that the produ<5liorts'-of

early ages,

when
and a

they prefent to us
ftate

fcenes of nature
little

of

life

we

are

acquainted with, and which are very-

different

from thofe that now

fublift,

will

to us appear original, tliough they

may

not

be really fuch

if

the true originals are

loftj-

of which the works that yet remain ar^
only 'copies or imitations;

Thus

the Oo*^

medies of Terence are valued, becaufe the
Originals of

Menander, which

the

Roman

Poet imitated, excepting a few fragments,
are

ON GENIUS.
are
loft.

269

CouM

the works of the latter be

recovered, thofe of the former

would

lofe

much
ages

of their reputation.

Thus

far the

fuperiority of Poetic
is

Genius in thofe early

accidental,
It is It
is

and therefore no way
the efFedl of a particuthe confequence of an-

meritorious.
lar fituation.
tiquity.

±:^he next

reaibn

we

fhall give,
its

why

origi-

nal Poetic Genius appears in
fe6tion in the
fir ft

utraoft perlife,
is

periods of focial

the fimplicity and uniformity of manners
peculiar to fuch periods.

Manners have a much
the exertions of
Poetic

greater efFe6l oii

Genius,
limple

than

is

commonly imagined.
which
prevail

The

manners

among moft

nations in the

infancy of fociety, are peculiarly favourable
to fuch exertions.

In this primitive ftate of
to unite in

nature,
fociety,

when mankind begin
(if

the rtianners, fentiments, and paf-

Eons are

we may

ufe the expreffion)

;fi;r*3fB||Sil

W9t B

perfedl V

270

AN E

S S

AY
are the diftafcs
:

perfe6lly original.

They

of nature, unmixed and undifguifed
are therefore
defcribed.

they

more

eafily

comprehended and

The

Poet in defcribing his

own

feelings, defcribes alfo the feelings

of others y

for in fuch a ftate of fociety, thefe are fimilar

and uniform in

all.

Their

taftes, dif-

poiitions,

and manners are thrown

into the

fame mould,

and. generally formed upon
Artlefs

one and the fame model.
der loves,

and ten-

generous friendfliips, and war-

like exploits,

compofe the hiftory of
j

this

uncultivated period
lates

and the Poet who rethe infpiration of his
all

thefe,
is

feeling

fubjed:,

himfelf animated with
the Friend,

the

ardor of the Lover,

and the

Hero.

Hence

as

his fenfations are

warm
re-

and

vivid, his fentiments will

become paf*

iionate or fublime, as the occafion

may
his

quire

>

his defcriptions energetic;

filler

bold, elevated,

and metaphorical; and

the*^

whole,

being the efFufion of

a glowing
will

fancy and an impafiioned heart,
perfedly natural and
i
.

be

original.

Thud
far

ON
far then
Ibciety,

G

EK

I

U

S.

271
ftate

an early and uncultivated

of

in which the manners, fentiments

and

paffions,

run in the uniform current
(as

above-mentioned
fant focieties)

they do in moft
to
.

in-r.

appears favourable

the

difplay of original Poetic Genius.

A third

caufe of this quaHty's being

re--

markably exerted in an early period of
ciety, is the leifure

lb*

and

tranquillity of un--^

cultivated

life,

together with the innocentit.

pleafures

which generally attend

Genius
fimplicity
life.

naturally flioots forth in the
tranquillity of uncultivated

and

The

undifturbed peace, and the inthis

nocent rural pleafures of
are, if
its

primeval

ftate,

we may

fo exprefs

it,

congenial to

nature.

A Poet

of true Genius delights

to contemplate and defcribe thofe primitive
icenes,

which

recal to

our remembrance the

fabulous era of the golden age.

Happily

exempted from that tormenting ambition,
and- thofe vexatious defires,
L.;.

which trouble
the

272

A N

E

S S
life,

AY
he wanders with

the current of

modern

a ferene,

contented heart,
to

through walks
the

and groves confecrated

Mufes

j

or^

indulging a fublimej peniive, and fweetlyfoothing melancholy, drays with a flow and

folemn
fert,

ftep,

through the unfrequented de-

along the naked beach, or the bleak
In fuch a (ituation, of
infpiration,

and barren heath.
every

theme

is

a fource

whether he defcribes the beauties of nature,

which he furveys with tranfporti or

the peaceful innocence of thofe happy times,

which

ai*e

fo

wonderfully foothing

and

pleafing to the imagination.
tions therefore will be

His defcrip-

perfedlly vivid

and

original, becaufe they are the tranfcript of

his

own

feelings.

Such a

lituation as that
is

we

have above reprefented,

particularly

favourable to a paftoral Poet,
fimilar
to

and

is

very

that

enjoyed by Theocritus,

which no doubt had a happy influence on
his compofitions;

and

it is

a fituation highly

propitious to the efforts of every fpecies of
Poetic Genius,

Perhaps

O
Perhaps

N-

GENIUS.
j

271

we may

be thought to refine too

much on
cence as

this pouit

and

it

may

be ques^

tioned whether fuch tranquillity

and innoever

we have above fuppofed have
any
ftate

exifted in

of

fociety.

To

this

we

may

anfwer,

That though the

traditionary

or even hiftorical accounts of the early ages>
are not

much

to be

depended on; yet thofe

ancient original

poems which we have in
accompanied
is

our hands, give us reafon to think that a
certain innocence of manners,

with that tranquillity which
quence, prevailed

its

confe-

among

thofe people

whom
,a

we are not afliamed much higher degree

to call barbarous, in
thai> in

more modern

and cultivated periods.

The

laft

caufe

we

(hall affign
its

why

origl-^

nal Poetic Genius appears in

utmoft per-

fe6lion in the uncultivated ages of fociety,
is,

its

exemption from the rules and reof Criticifm, and
is

ilraints

its

want of that

knowledge which

acquired from books.
learning and
critical

When we

confider

T

knowledge

;

274

AN ESSAY
we hope we
fliall

knowleJge as unfavourable to original Poetry,

not be accufed of

pleading the caufe of ignorance, ruftkity,

and barbarifm

;

any more than when we

fpeak of the happy influence of the fimple
tJncultivated periods of fociety

on the proart,

ductions of the above-mentioned
fhall

we

be fappofed to prefer thofe rude and
ages to a highly civilized Hate of

artlefs
life.

The
all

effeds of Literature

and

Criti-

cifm
•and

m the improvement of
the arts,

all

the fciences

excepting Poetry alone

^and the advantages of a ftate of civilization, in

augmenting and refining the plealife,

sures of fockl

are too obvious to re-

quire to be pointed out.
fent only concerned to

We

are at preeifefls

examine the

of Learning and
ginal Poetry, the

ciitical

Knowledge on

ori-

want of which we affirm
principal caufes of this
its

to be one of the
art's

being carried to
fii'ft

higheil: perfection

m

the

uncultivated periods of

human

fociety.

Let

ON GENIUS.
Let us inquire into the
eiFe6ls

275
of thefe,
high

upon the mind of a Poet
degree of original Genius.

poffeffed of a

By an acquaintis

ance with that Literature which

derived

from books,
tain the
events,

it

will be granted,

he

may

at-

knowledge of a great variety of and
fee

human
By

nature in a great

variety of forms.

colle6ling the obfer-

vations and experience of

pad

ages,

by fu-

peradding his own, and by reafoning juftly

from acknowledged

principles,

he may, no

doubt, acquire more accurate and extenfive
ideas of the

works of Nature and Art, and

may

likewife be thereby qualified to inrieh

the Sciences with

new

difcoveries, as well as

mod

of the Arts with

new

inventions
art only

and

improvements.

In his

own

he can

never become an original Author by fuch

means; nor,

flri6lly

fpeaking, fo

much

as

acquire the materials, by the ufe of which he

may

juftly attain

this

character
is,

:

for the

ideas derived

from books, that

from the

ideas of others, can by
tical

no procefs of poe-

chymiftry confer perfed Originality.

T

2

Thofe

276

A N
ideas

E

S S

AY
intire creation

Thofe

which are the

of

the ruind,

or are the refult of the Poet's

own
the

obfervations,

and immediately drawn
original ones in

from nature, are the only
proper
fenfe.

A

Poet

who

adopts

images,

who

culls

out incidents he has met

with in the writings of other Authors, and

who

imitates chara6lers

which have been
or perhaps by

portrayed by other Poets,

Hiftorians, cannot furely with any propriety

be confidered
at the

as

an Original, though he may

fame time difcover confiderable powers

of Imagination in adapting thofe images and
incidents, as well as transforming

and mold-

ing thefe chara6lers to the general defign of
his

poem.

In order to become a Poet per(of

fectly original

whom

only

it

muft be
he
mufl",

remembered we are here
if

treating)

he fhould attempt Epic Poetry, invent
:

images, incidents -and charaders

tradition

may indeed

fupply

him with
did

the

groundwork
but the fu-

of the poem, as

it

Homer,

perftruclure mufl: be

altogether his

own.

In executing fuch a work, what aid can a
truly

ON GENIUS.
truly original Poet receive

277
?

from books

If

he borrows aid from the performances of
others, he
is

no longer

a complete Original.

To
tic

maintain this charadter throughout, he
rely

muft

on

his

own fund

:

his

own

plaf-

imagination muft fupply

him with every

thing.

But fuch

intire

Originality very rarely

happens, efpecially in a modern age.

Many

of the moft fplendid images of Poetry have

been already exhibited,
ftriking chara6lers in

many of the moft human life have been
as are

delineated,

and many of the moft beautiful and fuch
moft ob-

objedls of nature,

vious,

have been defcribed by preceding
It will

Bards.

be very

difficult therefore for

tl^ir fucceflbrs to feleft objedls

which the

eye of Fancy hath never explored, and none

but a Genius uncommonly original can hope
to accomplifli
it.

There are very
nality in Poetry
j

different degrees

of Origi-

and

feveral

eminent Geniufes

T

3

'M.^%

A N

B

S S

AY
have

jaiafes in this art,

pofTefling a very conrider-

able fhare of Originality themfelves,

however been contented to imitate the great
Father of Epic Poetry
or another
fcioufnefs
;

in

one circumftance

partly perhaps through a con-

of their being unable to produce
different

any thing of a

kind equal to his

compofitions, partly through a natural ten-

dency to imitate the excellencies they admired
in a model rendered venerable by the con-

current teftimonies of

all

ages in his favour,

and

partly through the real difficulty of at^

taining complete Originality in the province

of the Epopisa zhQi him»
copied
the

Thus Virgil
imitated fome of

many of

the epifodes and images of
y

Maonian Bard

Tasso

his charaflers, as
his

v^^ell

as adopted a part of

imagery; and even the divine Milton

condefcended, in a very few inftances indeed, to imitate this Prince of ancient Poets,

in cafes v^here his

own

Genius,

left

to

its

native energy, and uninfluenced by

an ac-

quaintance with the Writings of

Homer,
Poet.

would have enabled him

to eq^ual the Greek

O N
Poet.

G E N

I

U

S.

27.9

An

inftance of this kind occurs in

the end of the fourth book of Paradife Lofty

where Milton informs us that Satan, while
he was preparing for a dreadful combat with
his antagoniil,
fled

away, upon obferving

that one of the fcales

which were fufpended
thereby

from Heaven, kicked the beam,
prefaging to

him an unfortunate

iffue

of the

encounter.

By

this

cool expedient, which,

was fuggefted by that pafiage of Homer, in

which Jupiter
fates

is

fuppofed to weigh the

of Hector and Achilles in his golden

balance,

Milton

has prevented the confe*
facrificed a real

quences of this horrid fray,

excellence to a frivolous imitation,

and very

much

difappointed the eager expcflations

of the Reader.

The

Poet's

own

Genius,
Iliad^

had he been unacquainted with the
would naturally have
led

him

to defcribe

thofe mighty combatants engaged in dreadful fight
5

but a propcnfity to the imitation

of fo eminent an Author, reprefled the nar
tive

ardor of his
is

own

imagination.

This
the

lingle inflance

fufficient to fliew us

T

4

effect

2^0
efFefl

A N

E

S S

AY
it

of Literature on the mind of a Poet

of

orii^inal

Genius, whofe exertions

pro-

bably will in fome inftances fupprefs, but

cannot in any inftance
hand, a Poet living
in

affif!:.

On
more

the other
early pe-

the

riods of fociety, having

few or no preceding
in very
little

Bards for his models,

is

hazard

of being betrayed into imitation, U'hich in a

modern age
giving
full

it

is

fo difficult to avoid

j

but,

fcope to the bent of his GeniaSj
is

he

is

enabled, if he

poilefled of a

high de-

gree of this quahty,

to produce a

Work

completely original.
reafoning
it

From
that

this

train of

appears,

the Literature
efpecially
is
;

which

is

acquired

Irom books,

from the

Vy^orks of preceding Bards,

un-

favourable to Originality in Poetry
that Poets

and

of

fociety,

who live in the iirli: periods who are defl:itute of the means
poflibility

of learning, and confequently are exempt-

ed from the

of Imitation,

en*

Joy peculiar advantages for original xonipolition.
'-

We

ON GENIUS.
We may add, that
ing
is,

281

another eiFe6l of learnthe

to

ENCUMBER and OVERLOAD
original Poetic Genius.

mind of an
it

Indeed

has this efFe6l

upon

the

mind of every man
its

who

has not properly arranged

fcattered

and who by thought and reflection has not " digefled into fenfe the motley
materials,

meal

-f-."

But however properly arranged

thofe materials

may

be,

and however tho-

roughly digefled

this

intelleclual food,

an

original Genius will fometimes find

an in-

conveniency refulting from

it

;

for as

no man
differ-

can attend to and comprehend many

ent things at once, his mental faculties will in

fome

cafes be necelTarily opprefTed

and over-

charged with the immenfity of his
ceptions,

own conaddiis,

tional

when weighed down by the load of learning. The truth
little
:

a

Poet of original Genius has very
iion for the
felf-taught.

occa-

weak

aid of Literature

be

is it

He comes

into the world as

were completely accomplifhed.

Nature fup-

t Night

Thott^hts,

plies

282

A N

E

S S

AY

-

plies the materials

of his compofitions

;

his

fenfes are the under- workmen, while

Ima-

gination, like a mafterly Archite6l, fuperin-

tends and dire6ls the whole.

Or, to fpeak

more
it calls

properly,

Imagination both fupplies

the materials, and executes the work, fince
into being

" things that are
its

not,*'

and
It

creates

and peoples worlds of

own.

may be eafily conceived therefore, that an original Poetic Genius, pofTeffing fuch innate
treafure (if

we may be allowed an unphilono
ufe for that

fophical expreffion) has
is

which
be enit
j

derived from books, lince he

may

cumbered, but cannot be inriched by

for

though the chief merit of ordinary Writers

may

confiil in

arranging and prefenting us

with the thoughts of others, that of an original Writer will always confift in prefenting

us with fuch thoughts as are his own.

V/e obferved

likewife, that

an exemption

from the rules and restraints of Criticism, contributed greatly to the more re-

markable difplay of original Poetic Genius in
the

ON
the
firft

GE N

I

U

S.

283
fpecies

ages of foclety.

Every

of

original Genius delights to range at liberty^

and

efpecially original Poetic Genius,
fetters

which

abhors the

of Criticifm, claims the pri-

vilege of the freeborn fons of Nature,

and
and

never relinquifhes
gret.

it

without the utmoft re-

This noble

talent

knows no

law,

acknowledges none in the uncultivated ages
of the world, excepting
impulfe, which
it

its

own

fpontaneous

obeys without control, and
Critics.

without any dread of the cenfure of

The
and

truth

is,

Criticifm

was never formed inta

a fyftem,

till

Aristotle, that penetrating^

(to ufe

an expreffion by whichVoLTAiRE

chara6lerifes

Mr Locke)

" methodical Gehis Poetics,

nius " arofe,

who deduced

not

from

his

own

imagination, but from his ac-

curate obfervations

on the Works of Homer,
and Euripides.

Sophocles,

jEschylus,

Let us obferve the probable and natural effe6ls

which a

ftri6l

adherence to the rules

of Criticifm will have on original Genius in
Poetry.

One

obvious

efFe6l

of

it is,

that

it

confines the attention to artificial rules,

and
ties

fi84
ties

A N
the

E

S S

AY

mind down

to the obfervance of them,

perhaps at the very time that the imagination
is

upon

the ftretch,

and grafping

at

fome
it is

idea aftonifhingly great,
obliged,

which however

though with the utmoft reki6lanqe,

to quit, being intimidated by the apprehenfion of incurring cenfure.

By

this

means,
is

the irregular but noble boldnefs of Fancy
.checkedj the divine

and impetuous ardor of

Genius

is,

we do

not fay extinguiflied, but in

a great meafure fupprefTed, and
excellencies facrificed to

many fhining

juflnefs of defign,

and regular uniformity of execution.

The

candid Reader will obferve, that the

queftion

we have been examining
critical

is

not

whether

Learning be upon the whole
fo as to

really ufeful to

an Author of Genius,

render his

Works more
its

perfe6l and accurate,
efFe6i:

but what

particular

will be

upon

the produdlions of a Genius truly original.

We

are far

from intending

to difregard or

cenfure thofe rules " for writing well," which

-have been eftablifhed by found judgment,

and

0"N
and an
cies

GENIUS.
On

28}

exadl difcernment of the various fpe-

of compofition; an attempt that would
the contrary,

be equally weak and vain.

we profefs a reverence
ing,

for thofe laws of writ-

which good

fenfe

and the correfponding
1

voice of ages have pronounced important

and we confider them as what ought never
to be violated
j

though with refpe6l

to others

of a more
they

trivial nature,

however binding

may

be upon ordinary Authors,
light,

we can
than as

look upon them in no other

the frivolous fetters of original Genius, to

which

it

has fubmitted through fear, always

improperly, and fometimes ridiculoufly, but

which
leaft

it

may

boldly fhake off at pleafure
it

5

at
its

whenever

finds

them fuppreffing
it

exertion, or

whenever

can reach an unemancipation.

common
'

excellence by

its

Upon
affigned,

the whole,
it

from the reafons above

feems evident, that the

early

UNCULTIVATED
Poetry

agcs of focicty are moft fa-

vourable to the difplay of original Genius in
j

whence

it is

natural to expe^l, that
in

$86

AN

E

S S

AY
us, this

in fuch ages the greateft Originals in this
^rt will always arife.

Unhappily for

point does not admit of proof from an in-

du6lion of

many

particulars

j

for very

few

original Poems of thofe nations

among whom

they might have been expelled, have defcend-

cd through the
fo

viciffitudes

and revolutions of

many

ages to our times.

Moft of the moworks of

numents of Genius,

as well as the

Art, have perifhed in the general wreck of

empire; and

we can only conjedure the merit
loft

of fuch as are

from that of the fmall

number of

thofe

which remain.

While the

Works

of

Homer

and Ossian however are

in our hands, thefe, without any other ex-

amples, will be fufficient to

eftablifli

the truth
in the

of the

firft

part of our affertion.

That

early periods of fociety, original Poetic Genius
will in general be exerted in
its

utmoft

vi-

g^r. Let

us

now proceed
it,

to

fhew the truth

of the fecond part of
this quality will

w^hich was.

That

feldom appear in a very high
life,

degree in cultivated
rcalbns of
it.

and

let

us affign the

Shakespear

ON
Shakespear

G
is

E

N

I

U

S.

287

the only

modern Author,
tlie

(whofe times by the way compared with
prefent are not very modern)

whom, in point

of Originality,

we

can venture to compare

with thofe eminent ancient Poets above- men*tioned.

In fublimity of Genius indeed, Mix.^
inferior to neither

TON

is

of them

;

but

it

cannot be pretended that he was fo complete

an Original

as the

one or the other, fince he

was indebted

to the facred Writings for fe-

veral important incidents,
;lime fentiments, to be

and for many fub-

met with in Paradifi

Loft

}

not to mention what was formerly
^a

obferved, that in

few paffages he imitated

the great Father of Poetry.

With

relpe6l to

Shakespear
gle exception

therefore, admitting
is

him

to

be

a modern Author, he
;

at

any

rate but a fin-

though indeed and

his

Genius was

fo flrangely irregular,

{o different

from

that of every other Mortal, -Cut nihil simile
mit feciindiwi^ that

no argument can be drawn
to invalidate

from fuch an example
lition
5

our

po

fmce he would probably have difco-

vered the fame great and eccentric Genics,

which

288

A N
fo

E

S S

AY
at prefent, in

which we

much admire

any

age or country whatever.

External caufes,

though they have great influence on common
minds, would have had very
little
it

on fuch a

one

as

Shakespear's.
juftice to

Let our

be confefied,
age, that if

however, in
it

own

hath not produced fuch perfe6l Originals

as thofe above-mentioned,

which perhaps

may
of

be partly imputed to the influence of

caufes peculiar to the prefent period and ftate
fociety, yet it

hath produced feveral

ele5

gant, and fome exalted Geniufes in Poetry

who

are diftinguilhed alfo by a very confiis

derable degree of Originality, and fuch as
rarely to be

met with in a modern

age.

The

names of Young, Gray, Ogilvie, Collins,
Akenside, and Mason,
as they

do honour

to the prefent age, will probably be tranf-

mitted with reputation to pofterity.
fince
it

But

muft be

univerfally allowed, that fuch

intire Originality, as

we have fhewn
modern

to be

competent to an uncultivated period, hath
•never yet appeared in
times, except>-

ing in the fmgle inflance above- mentione^J,
it

ON GEN
it

I

U

S.

289

may be worth the while

to inquire into the

caufes

why

it

fo

feldom appears, or can be
life.

expedled to appear in cultivated

we have fuccefsfully invefligated the caufes why original Poetic Genius is mod reIf

markably difplayed in the uncultivated
of fociety
j

ftate

we

fhall
its

probably difcover that

the chief caufes of the fame degree in

being rarely found in
civilized ages, are

more

the opposiTEs of the former.
firft

Thus

the

caufe

we

afligned of this quality's being

exerted in a higher degree in the

earlier

periods of focial

life,

was deduced from the

ANTIQUITY of thofc periods, and the small PROGRESS of CULTIVATION in them. One
reafon therefore

why it will

fo

feldom appear

in a later period, muft be the difadvantage

of living fo long after the

field

of Fancy hath
Bards'.

been preoccupied by the more ancient

We have already allowed
but
it

that a truly origi-

nal Poet will flrike out a path for himfelf-;

muft likewife be allowed, that to do

fb

after his illuftrious predeceffors, will at leaft

U

be

290

AN ESSAY
To what
hath been above
fhall here

be more difEcult.

advanced on

this head,

we

only

add a fingle obfervationj that fhould any modern Poet with
juftice

claim an equality of

merit with the renowned Ancients in point

of Originality, he would, confidering the difadvantages he mufl labour under, be intitled
to a
flill

fuperior fhare of reputation. In the

mean time we may

reafonably infer, that

the difference in the period of fociety above-

mentioned, will always prove unfavourable
to the Originality of a

modern Poet; and

may be

coniidered as one caufe

why

this

qua-

lity rarely

appears in a very high degree in

polifhed

life.

We coniidered

the simplicity and uni-

formity of ancient Manners, as another caufe why original Genius is exerted in its
utmoft vigour in the first periods of
fociety.

We

may remark, on

the other hand, that

the DIVERSITY, DISSIPATION, and exceffive

REFINEMENTS of modcm Manners,
turally prove unfavourable to
its

will

na-

exertion,

in

.

T H E

CONTENTS.
BOOK
I.

o

F

the Nature, Properties, and Indica-

tions of

and of the various Modes of Exertion, Page i
;

Genius

s

E c.T ro N

1.

Of the Objects

and Ingredients of Genius ; and of the Efficacy of thofe Ingredients united in
Composition,
-

3

Imagination necefsary to a Genius,

6
8

An

accurate

Judgment
-

alfo necefsary,

Gf Taste,
tion,

that internal
-

power of percep16

Of Imagination, Judgment and Taste, 19 The Iliad and OdyJJey, works of Genius, 24
a

SEC-

:pjm

CONTENTS.
S

E C T

I

O N

II.

Of

the iifual Indications of Genius,

Page z^

Of Philofophical and Poetical Genius, 33 Of Tasso, Pope, and Milton, 37 Of Quintilian, a great Mafter of Elo.

quenee,

-

-

-

3S

Of a Genius Of a Genius

for Architedure, for Eloquence,

42

-

44

SEC
Of the Connedion Humour,
^'

T
-

I

O N m.
-

betwixt Genius,

Wit, and 46
51, ^^
-

Pope's Rape of the Lock, a refined plelce' of

Humour,

-

^ '^'i^T<

'^" Swift,

not an exalted Genius, nor Ossian
-

a Wit,

-

53
5^

Of Swift's Gulliver and his Tale of a Tub,

Genius and Wit united inSHAKESPEAR, 54

SECT ON
I

IV.

Of -"tHI^kiutual

Influence ;of>:lM agination on

^^ Taste, and of Taste on Imagination, considered as Ingredients in the Composition of
Genius,
-

.

^3

A Definition

of Taste,

^4

SECTION

CONTENTS.
SEC T
Of- the
different
I

xi^

O N

V.

degrees

of Genius,

various

Modes of

Exertion,

and its Page 73

Maclaurin and Strange, men of Genius,
-

y5

Genius difcovered in mechanical Arts,

7^

S

B 0.0 K II. E C TI O N

I.

Qi

that Degree

of Genius, which
.^-

is

pro-

perly denominated Original,

85

Two

general Sources of I^eas,
-

Sensation
-

and Reflection,.

87^

S

EC

T

I

O N

II.

Of Original

Philofophic Genius,

-

91'

The kind of Imagination adapted
Philofophic Genius,
-

to original

9^
;

The kind
Poetry,

peculiar to original -peiiius in
-

96
104 105
119
Sifi

Plato of a moft

copious imagination,
-

Of his
JL.ord

Philofophy,
reftorer

Bacon, the

of Learning, 115
Genius,

An original Philofophic
a 2

XX
Sir

CONTENTS.
Isaac

NEwroN^ an
-

original Genius in
.

Philofophy,
}^is

..PageUp
^c.
-"

flupendous difcoVeries of the revolu-

tions of the heavenly bodies,

119

Dr Berkeley,
Genius

Bifhop of C/ipjy/zi?, an original

in Philofophy,

120

D'rBuR-tiLTyBMthor of theTheory of theEartby an original Genius in Philofophy^^^ 121

An

admirable performance in feveral re-

Jfjpefts^"

-f

^

-

122

SECTION
Of Origmal
Of Of Of Of
Genius in Poetry,
Invention, the vital fpirit of

III.

it,

124
-

125
127

the invention of Incidents,
the invention of Characters,
his great

• -

130
141
.

Shakespear,

Genius,

the invention of Imagery,, the invention of Sentiment,

r.

143 149
151

"

Lo-NGiNus, an admirable Critic,

Aristotle,

his dbfervation
pa!fsions,

on the methods
-

of raising the

Vivacity of defcription charadteriftical
great Genius,
r '

54 of a
1

^57 Three other ingredients of Original Genius, 162
Irregular greatnefs of Imagination, charafleriftical

of original Genius,

-

i

63

Wildnefs

ON GENIUS.
in later and
there
is

291

more

civilized

ages.

Where
it

a great diverfity of Manners,

will

be

difficult to

mark and

to defcribe the pre-

dominating colours. Where Diffipation prevails,

Genius
its

is

in danger of being
;

drawn

within
in

vortex

and the

falfe

refinements

Luxury and

Pleafure,

which are charac-

teriftical

of later ages, though they are con-

fident enough'with,

and even produ6live of
all

the improvement of

the mechanical, and
;

fome of the

liberal Arts

yet they are
all

unthe

friendly to the

two moft fublime of

liberal Arts, original Poetry

and Eloquence.

An

excefs of Luxury

is

indeed almoft as un-

favourable to the cultivation of Genius in
thefe, as
it is

to the cultivation of Virtue.

It

enfeebles the

mind,

as

it

corrupts the heart,

and gradually

fupprefTes that ftrenuous ex-

ertion of the mental faculties,

by which con-

fummate

excellence

is

to be attained. Poetic
flourifli either

Genius in particular cannot

in uninterrupted sunshine, or in continual

SHADE.

It

languilhes under the blazing arits

dor of a fummer noon, as

buds are blafted

U

2

by

292
by the

A'N
damp
fogs

ESS
and
is

a;Y
of a

chilling breath

winter fky.

Poverty

fcarce

more unfa-

vourable to the difplay of true Poetic Genius

than

exceffive Affluence

is.

The former
efforts at
lefs

cruflies its early

and afpiring

once;

the latter more ilowly, but no
enervates
its

furely;'
itf

powers, and diffolves them
Pleafure.
It

Luxury and

was a

fenfible

obthe^

fervation of a French

Monarch *, though

conjundlion be fomewhat fantaftical, Poeta

& equi
moft
of
life.

alendi, non faginandi.
is

The

fituation

defirable for a Poet

the middle flatc
riot in the ful-

He

ought neither to

nefsot opulence, nor to
wants of poverty, but to

feel the

pinching

poflefs that eafe

and

independence, which are neceffary to unfold
the bloflbms of Genius to the utmoft advantage.

The

third caufe

which we

afligned of

original Poetic

Genius being moft remarka-

bly difplayed in the uncultivated ftate of fo--

*

Charles

the Ninth.

cietyj

ON
ciety,

G E N

I

U

S.

5^3

was the leisure and tranquillity
ftate.

naturally refulting from fuch a

The

caufe therefore

why

it

feldom appears in a

more advanced

period, will be juft the re-

verfe of the former, namely, the

activity

and ARDOR, the hurry and bustle obfervable in

modern

ages,

occafioned by their

eager purfuits, and the clafhing interefts of

mankind.
often

As

the voice of Confcience

is

drowned amidft the clamours of tupaflion, fo the flame of

multuous

Genius

is

frequently fmothered by the bufy, buftling
cares of an a6tive
life*

The thorny path

of

Ambition, and the painful, patient purfuit
of Gain, are both unfavourable, though not
in

an equal degree, to

its

native ardor.

The

former occafions a diftra6lion, harafsment,

and anxiety of thought
depreffion

j

the latter an intire

of the powers of Imagination.
mifled by the one, perverted by

Genius

is

the other.

Indeed

it

fcarce ever happens,
is

that a high degree of this quality

allied to

Avarice

:

it

feldom Hoops to the drudgery of

laborious bufmefs for the fake of wealth, of

which

294
which
it

AN ESSAY
is

naturally very

little

folicitous,
it is

and with the ardent

defire of

which

in

a great meafure incompatible.

Ambition
it.

however has charms capable of feducing

Honour and Power
flru6lions to
fphere,
its

are obje6ls at

which

it

frequently afpires; and they often prove obnative exertions in
its

proper

by engaging the mind in

purfuits,

which produce embarraffment and perplexity. True Genius, removed from the din and tumult of
bufinels
-,

and
it

care, ftioots

up

to the

noblell height

fpreads forth

all its

luxu-

riance in the peaceful vale of rural tranquillity.

Its fate in

advanced

fociety,

and amidft

the croud of mankind, is very different. There
it

meets with

many

obflacles to check its proits efforts.

grefs,

and

to difcourage

Expofed
it falls

to the alTaults of malignity

and envy,
5

the vidim of unmerited calumny

or, in-

tangled in thofe vexatious purfuits which interrupt the repofe of mankind,
its

ardor

is

wafted in the tumultuous career of ambition,

and

its

powers abforbed in the unfathomable

gulf of fenfual indulgence.

The

1

CONTENTS.
Genius,
-

xxi

Wildnefs of Imagination difcovers an Original

Page i68
-

jEnthusiafm of Imagination fhews an Original

Genius,

-

-

169

Plato's opinion of the Enthusiafm of Poetrjr,
169

Ardor

of Imagination the foul of Poetry,

171
171

Efsays of Original Genius in Allegories,

Two

forts of Allegory,

-

17^

Spenser's Fairy ^een, a fpecies of Allegory, 1 74
Original Genius difcovered in Visions,
1

76

Fiftion or ideal figures difcover Original Genjus,
1

-

-

-

ijg

,Poets and

Priefts, authors

of all the Theoiosi1

cal Syftems of the Gentile world,

8

The
The

Greek Theology the moft ingenious, 181

A Qxqrt view of the Greek Mythology,
Allegories,
-

182

Eaftern manner of Writing abounds with
-

1

87

Admirable examples thereof
Writings^
-.

in

the facred
t

-

187

S

E C T

I

O N

IV.
1

Of Original
- -"A

Genius

in the other fine Arts,


88

Poetry affords a dilplay of Original Genius, 1

degree of Original Genius in other Arts, 188

Of Original Genius in the art of PaintinojI S^
Imagination

:

'

xxii

CONTENTS.
necefsary to
-

^•'Imagination
Painter,
-

form an Hiftoryitfelf in

Page 191
the Painter,

:

Original Genius difcovers

-f
;i

,An example of Genius
.:

in

Painting,

195 on the
198
de;jo2

^ l,
t.:

fubjeft of Paul's preaching at Athens,
in-

Original Genius fdmetimes difcovered
Icriptive pieces,
-

^^>

Priginal Genius difcovered in Eloquence, 203
Inftances of Original Genius in Eloquence,

from Demosthenes the celebrated yf/i^^»/<^;? . Orator, 206
•f

Inftances from the great

Ropmn Orator Cice-

ro, in his Orations concerning Catiline

and MiLO,
Inftances of
-

-

217, 221

modern Eloquence from French
-

Orators,

229

An inftance from Bourdaloue, defcribing the Puniftiment of the Wicked, 230
-*-'HAn

inftance of

Eloquence from Massillon,

the Prince of modern Orators,
'

231
in

inftances of Genius in
-n

modern Orators
r

our

:

own

Island,

"•-An inftance from a

235 Sermon by Dr Fordyce,

-

-•'•^Another inftance in a

235 Sermon by Dr Ogilvie,

237
Wherein the
ed,
Englijh Preachers are diftinguifh1.

1

-238

CONTENTS.
An
^^

xxiii

mftance of eminent Eloquence from
-

Mr

Seed's Sermons,

Page 2^9

Another inftance from the Sermons of DrAx_ TERBURY, 242
*.f'An example of Oratorial Eloquence
B'
"

from a

Speech

in the Briiijh Senate,

x

:'--^:-

244

Music, 247 "''- Originality of Genius difcovered in ArchiTECTURE, " 253
-T'.Original
itfelf in
'

Genius difcovers

/^oGenius diftinguilhed by a powerful bias to Invention,
^

-

-

-

257 257

Of ftupendous
-i7]^e
fices,

Gothic Stru6lures,
-

- ^i

elegance of the Grecian and
:

Roman Edi259

''-^^

-

S

E C T 10 N

V.

That
.

be utmoft vigour in the early and difplayed uncultivated periods of Society, which are pein. its

original Poetic Genius will in general

culiarly favourable to
, -

it-,

and that

it

will fel-

dom appear

in a very high degree in cultivated

Arts and Sciences in their
ftate, afford
" -

firft

imperfedt

fcope for the exertions of Ge"

nius,

261

.^iv Efforts of Imagination in Poetry impetuous,

262
-

"«"^s«f

Painters,

xxiv
Painters,

CONTENTS.
Orators,

Musicians,

Archite6ls and

Philofophers, indebted to their predecefsors.

Page 263

Of Homer

and Odyjf^y and OssiAN composing Fingal and Temora^ 264
wi-iting the Iliad

Original Poetic Genius difplayed in an early and

uncultivated period of fociety,
Several reafons afsigned for
it,

-

265

265,269,271,273

An

obfervation

on Terence's Comedies,
-

269

Original Genius in Poetry not derived from books

and learning,
.Different degrees

275,281
277

of Originality

in Poetry,

Virgil, Tasso and Milton, imitated Homer,

278,279
Original Genius feldom
life,

appears in cultivated
-

-

-

286
288

Of the Genius

of Shakespear and Milton, 287

Som^e exalted Geniufes in our

own

age,

Caufes of Originality of Genius not being often
'

-fbuncj in diiltivated life,

-

289
291,292

Original Genius not flourifliing in luxury or poverty,
-

-

-

True Genius

profpers in rural tranquillity,

293

Original Genius abforbed in the gulf of fenfual
indulgence,
-

-

-

294

A remark on the advantages of learning, though
"
it

doth not promote Oniginal Genius, 295,296

AN

ON GENIUS.
The
lafl

295

caufe

we took

notice of as fa-

vourable to original Poetry in ancient times,

while fociety was. yet in
the

its

rudefl form,

was

WANT

of Literature, and an exthe

emption from
it will

RULES of Criticism.

follow therefore by juft confequence,

that

the acquaintance with

Literature
is

and critical Knowledge, which
confiderably diffufed in

fo

modern

times,

muft

be equally unfavourable to the exertion of
original Poetic

Genius in thofe times.

Having

confidered the efFe6l of thefe ac-

complifhments upon the mind of an original
Poet at great length, in the former part of
this feclion,we (hall

conclude with a remark,

which

will exhibit in

one view the fubftance

of what hath been more fully difcuffed in the
preceding pages.
grefs
tion,
It is, that

though the pro-

of Literature, Criticifm and Civilizahave contributed to unfold the powers
;

and extend the empire of Reafon
taught

have

men

to think

more

juftly,

as well as

to exprefs their fentiments with

more

preci-

fion;

296
lion
J

AN ESSAY,
difcoveries,

&c.

have had the happieft influence on

the Arts and Sciences in general (fince by

communicating the

inventions,

and obfervations of preceding
facilitated the

ages, they

have

way

to future inventions

and

difcoveries,

and have been highly conducive

to their improvement) yet the art of original Poetry, to an excellence in which the

wild exuberance and plaftic force of Genius
are the only requifites, hath fuffered, inftead

of having gained, from the influence of the
above-mentioned caufes
;

and
its

will, for

the

moft

part, be difplayed in

utmoft perfec-

tion in the early
foeial life.

and uncultivated periods of

THE

END.

,

t

-1

'"

Vf

fl:

•;-

Ji*

>••

5"-

US'

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