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CHAP. XXXVII.

IMAGINATION.

- In the soul
Are many lesser faculties, that serve
Reason as chief: among these fancy next
Her office holds : of all eternal things,
Which the five watchful senses represent,
She forms imagination's airy shapes,
While reason, joining or disjoining, frames
All what we affirm, or what deny, and call

Our knowledge or opinion. Man was placed by his Maker in a state superior to that of other animals; he was endowed with various faculties and desires, all fitted either to prompt him to vigorous and manly exertion, to impel him to the glorious aim for which he was created, or to gratify him by the enjoyment of those pleasures which in their nature are innocent. Amongst these, none are more prominent, or more desirable, than the gratifications which arise from any object that charms the Imagination. They form the middle rank between intellectual and sensual enjoyments : 'the former they exceed in facility of access, the latter in elegance and refinement; whilst to the generality of mankind, they are a source of pure and unadulterated pleasure, which at once enlivens and elevates the human faculties. To the man of letters they afford a delightful recreation. After his understanding has been absorbed in mathematical perplexities, and his intellectual powers have been strained by continued study and intense research, he feels rejoiced to return and refresh his wearied mind in following the sublime and dignified flights of Milton, or in wandering with Spenser through the regions of magic wonder and delight. To the pleasures which men derive from the delights of fancy, we are principally indebted for all kinds of poetry, and for every work of genius. Poetry is a mixture of painting, music, and eloquence. As eloquence, it speaks, it proves, it relaxes. As music, it has a regulated course, tones, and cadences, whose combinations form a kind of concert. As painting, it draws out objects, and lays on colours; it expresses every beauty in nature: in a word, it makes use both of the colours and the pencil. It employs concords and harmony; it shews truth, and knows how to make truth lovely. Poetry embraces all kinds of subjects; it employs every shining action in history; it enters into the regions of philosophy; it flies into the skies, to admire the courses of the heavenly bodies; it darts into the sea, and into the internal parts of the earth, there to examine the secrets of nature; it penetrates even into the mansions of the dead, to see the rewards of the good, and the tortures of the bad ; it takes in the whole universe, If this world is not sufficient, it creates new ones, which it embellishes with enchanted dwellings, and peoples with a thousand different sorts of inhabitants. There it creates beings after its own fancy; it produces nothing but what is perfect; it improves every production of nature; it is a kind of magic; it Alings illusion into the eyes, into the imagination, into the mind itself; and makes us enjoy real pleasures by inventions merely chimerical.

To Imagination we owe the bold and vigorous strains of Homer, the majestic and elegant song of Virgil, and the sublime and awful conceptions of Milton. Yet the imagery of ancient poetry, though often looked upon as fictitious, had probably, in common with the tales which it records, some foundation in real occurrences. The rainbow of the Deluge was doubtless the origin of introducing Iris as a messenger from Jupiter; and after this character was once established, other incidents might contribute to confirm or extend the services attributed to the office. Dr. Chandler, in his Travels in Asia Minor, gives an

CHAP. XXXVII.

IMAGINATION.

- In the soul
Are many lesser faculties, that serve
Reason as chief: among these fancy next
Her office holds : of all eternal things,
Which the five watchful senses represent,
She forms imagination's airy shapes,
While reason, joining or disjoining, frames
All what we affirm, or what deny, and call

Our knowledge or opinion. Man was placed by his Maker in a state superior to that of other animals; he was endowed with various faculties and desires, all fitted either to prompt him to vigorous and manly exertion, to impel him to the glorious aim for which he was created, or to gratify him by the enjoyment of those pleasures which in their nature are innocent. Amongst these, none are more prominent, or more desirable, than the gratifications which arise from any object that charms the Imagination. They form the middle rank between intellectual and sensual enjoyments : 'the former they exceed in facility of access, the latter in elegance and refinement; whilst to the generality of mankind, they are a source of pure and unadulterated pleasure, which at once enlivens and elevates the human faculties. To the man of letters they afford a delightful recreation. After his understanding has been absorbed in mathematical perplexities, and his intellectual powers have been strained by continued study and intense research, he feels rejoiced to return and refresh his wearied mind in following the sublime and dignified flights of Milton, or in wandering with Spenser through the regions of magic wonder and

ry, and forrincipally indebrom the

delight. To the pleasures which men derive from the delights of fancy, we are principally indebted for all kinds of poetry, and for every work of genius. Poetry is a mixture of painting, music, and eloquence. As eloquence, it speaks, it proves, it relaxes. As music, it has a regulated course, tones, and cadences, whose combinations form a kind of concert. As painting, it draws out objects, and lays on colours ; it expresses every beauty in nature: in a word, it makes use both of the colours and the pencil. It employs concords and harmony; it shews truth, and knows how to make truth lovely. Poetry embraces all kinds of subjects; it employs every shining action in history; it enters into the regions of philosophy; it flies into the skies, to admire the courses of the heavenly bodies; it darts into the sea, and into the internal parts of the earth, there to examine the secrets of nature; it penetrates even into the mansions of the dead, to see the rewards of the good, and the tortures of the bad ; it takes in the whole universe, If this world is not sufficient, it creates new ones, which it embellishes with enchanted dwellings, and peoples with a thousand different sorts of inhabitants. There it creates beings after its own fancy; it produces nothing but what is perfect; it improves every production of nature; it is a kind of magic; it Alings illusion into the eyes, into the imagination, into the mind itself; and makes us enjoy real pleasures by inventions merely chimerical.

To Imagination we owe the bold and vigorous strains of Homer, the majestic and elegant song of Virgil, and the sublime and awful conceptions of Milton. Yet the imagery of ancient poetry, though often looked upon as fictitious, had probably, in common with the tales which it records, some foundation in real occurrences. The rainbow of the Deluge was doubtless the origin of introducing Iris as a messenger from Jupiter; and after this character was once established, other incidents might contribute to confirm or extend the services attributed to the office. Dr. Chandler, in his Travels in Asia Minor, gives an

et, wintrymycale. We with the dered a small only overleden

en, when sun was th higher, thing on the urs as

instance of such an appearance of Iris, as on heathen minds could not fail to have made the most lively impression :

“ The weather had been unsettled : the sky was blue, but a wet, wintry north wind swept the clouds along the top of the range of Mycale. We were sitting on the floor early one morning at breakfast, with the door which was toward the mountain open, when we discovered a small rainbow just above the brow. The sun was then peeping only over the opposite mountain, and as it got higher, the arch widened, and descended towards us; the cattle feeding on the slope being seen through it, were tinged with its various colours as it passed down, and seemed as if in the bow. The phenomenon is probably not uncommon in the mountainous regions of Ionia and Greece. Let us suppose a devout heathen one of our company when this happened. On perceiving the bow descend, he would have fancied Iris was coming with a message to the earth from Jupiter Pluvius; and if he had beheld the bow ascend in like manner, which at some seasons and in certain situations he might do, he would have confidently pronounced that the goddess had performed her errand, and was going back to heaven. The early morning was certainly the time for worship among the devout heathens : had this bow thus advanced towards a suppliant at prayer and sacrifice, what would have been his inferences, and what his sensations ? The devotion which was addressed to visible and sensible objects, would have transported a worshipper much beyond what we can feel who live under a cooler climate, and address our worship to a spiritual and invisible object.” · Unless mankind had been endowed with this susceptibility of delight, Shakspeare might have lived in vain, his immortal compositions might have been consigned to oblivion, and his vivid personifications have been destroyed by time; instead of charming every ear by his song, his works might have been buried in some hidden closet, a prey to moths and worms. But there is one more advantage that we may derive from the Imagination, which exceeds all that have hitherto been mentioned. By its assistance, a blind man, or a man shut up in a dungeon, surrounded by eternal darkness, may have more pleasing and beautiful images before his mind, than ever existed in nature. By its assistance we may live in an ideal world; we

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