Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

apply'd to him a Verse of PHILOCTETES, to shew how much he was alham'd of being filent while that vain Declaimer carry'd all before hiin. . But I have done now : 'tis time for me to be going.

B. We cannot part with you to foon, Sir: Will you then allow of no Antitheses ?

A. Yes: when the Things we speak of are naturally opposite one to another, it may be proper enough to shew their Opposition. Such Antitheses are just, and have a folid Beauty, and a right Application of them is often the most easy and concise manner of explaining Things. But 'tis extremely childish to use artificial Turns and Windings to make Words clash and play one against another. At first, this

may happen to dazle those who have no Taste: but they foon grow weary of such a filly Affectation. Did you ever observe the GOTHICK Architecture of our old Churches?

B. Yes; 'tis very common.

A. Did you take notice of the Roses, Holes, unconnected Ornaments, and difjointed little Knacks that these Gothick Buildings are full of. These odd Conceits are just such Beauties in Architecture as forc'd Antitheses and Quibbles are in Eloquence. The GRECIAN Architecture is far more simple, and admits of none but !

natural,

natural, folid and majestick Ornaments : we see nothing in it but what is great, proportion'd, and well-plac’d. But the ĠoTHICK kind was invented by the Arabians; who being a People of a quick sprightly Fancy , and having no Rule, nor Culture, cou'd scarce avoid falling into these whimsical Niceties. And this Vivacity corrupted their Taste in all other Things. For, they us’d Sophisms in their Logick: they lov'd little Knacks in Architecture ; and invented Witticisms in Poetry and Eloquence. All these are of the same kind.

B. This is curious indeed. You think then that a Sermon full of forc'd Antitheses, and such kind of Ornaments, is like a Church built in the Gothick

way: A. Yes: I think the Comparison is just.

B. Let me ask you but one Question more; and then you shall

go. A. What is it?

B. It seems very difficult to give a particular Account of Facts, in a noble Stile : and yet we ought to do so if we talk solidly as you require. Pray, what is the proper Stile for expatiating in such Cafes ?

A. We are so much afraid of a low Strain, that our Expressions are usually dry, lifeless, and indeterminate. They who praise a Saint, pitch on the most

magnificent magnificent Phrases: they tell us he was an ADMIRABLE Person; that his Virtues were CELESTIAL; that he was rather an ANGEL, than a Man. And thus the whole Encomium is a mere Declamation, without any Proof; and without drawing a juft Character. On the contrary, the antient Greeks made little Use of these general Terms which prove nothing : but they insisted much on Facts, and the Particulars of a Character. For instance XENOPHON does not once say in all his Cyropædia, that CYRUS was an Admirable Man: but throughout the Work he makes us really admire him. Thus it is that we ought to praise holy Persons, by entering into the particular Detail of their Sentiments and Adions. But there prevails an affe&ted Politeness among the pedantick and conceited Part of all Ranks and Professions, who value theinselves upon their Wit, or Learning. They never venture to use any Expression but what they reckon fine and uncommon. They talk always in a * high Strain; and wou'd think it beneath them to call Things by their proper Names. Now in true Eloquence almost every thing may be introduc’d. The Perfection of Poetry itself, (which is the loftieft kind of Composure) depends on a full and lively Description of Things in all their Circumstances. When VIRGIL represents the Trojan Fleet leaving the African Shore or arriving on the Coast of Italy, you see every proper Circumstance exactly describ’d. But we must own that the GREEK's enter'd still further into the particular Detail of Things; and follow'd Nature more closely in representing the smallest Circumstances, For which reason, inany People wou'd be apt (if they dard) to reckon HOMER too. plain and simple in his Narrations. In this antient beautiful Simplicity, (which few are able to relish,) this Poet very much resembles the Holy Scripture: But in many places the Sacred Writings surpass his, as much as he excells all the other. Antients, in a natural and lively Representation of Things.

them

* Prima eit Eloquentiæ virtus PERSPICUITAS; & quo quisque ingenio minus valet, hoc fe magis atrollere, & dilatare conatur : ut ftatura breyes in digitos eriguntur ; & plura infirmi minantur. Nam TUMIDOS, & corruptos, & tinnülos, & quocumque alio cacozelix genere peccantes, certum habeo, non virium, fed infirmitatis vitio laborare : ut coprora non robore, fed valetudi. ne, inflantur.

QUINT. lib. ij. c. 3.

B. In relating Facts then ought we to describe every individual Circumstance that belongs to them?

A. No: we shou'd represent nothing to the Hearers but what deserves their Attention; and helps to give a clear and juft Idea of the Things we describe : So

K

thar

*

that it requires great Judgment to make || See Lon-a right || Choice of Circumstances. But ginus. S.x. we must not be afraid of mentioning such

as can be any-way serviceable: for 'tis a false Politeness that leads us to suppress soine useful Things, because we don't think ’em capable of any Ornament. Befides, HOMER has shown us by his Example, that we might give a proper Grace and Embellishment to every Subject.

B. Seeing you condemn the florid swelling Stile; what kind do

you

reckon fittest for publick Use?

A. There ought to be a Variety of Stile in every Discourse. We shou'd rise in our Expression when we speak of lofty Şubjects; and be t fainiliar, on common

ones,

* First follow NATURE, and your Judgment frame

By her just Standard, which is ftill the same :
Unerring Nature, fill divinely bright,
One clear, unchang'd, and universal Light;
Life, Force, and Beauty must to all impart,
At once the Source, and End, and Test of Art.
Art from that Fund each just Supply provides,
Works without show; and without Pomp presides.
Those Rules of old discover'd, not devis'd,
Are Nature ftill, but Nature methodiz'd :
Nature like Monarchy, is but restrain'd
By the same Laws which first her-self ordain'd.

Mr. Popa's Essay on Criticism. + Εσιν άρ ο ιδιωτισμός ενίοτε και κόσμε απολν έμ. φανισικώτερον: Ελιγινώσκεται και αυτόν εκ και κοινά βία. To own as öda mótegy Tawna 98 isguis wege ξύει ή ιδιώτω, αλλ' εκ ιδιωτεύει το σημαντικό.

LONGINU S. S. xxxj.

« ZurückWeiter »