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of expressing in language the conceptions of his own imagination. This representation cannot, indeed, be called an imitation of nature, in the same strict and literal sense in which the term is applied to a picture, because words are not natural copies, but arbitrary signs of things; but it produces an effect upon the imagination and feelings of the reader similar to that which is produced by the art of painting. It was doubtless for this reason that Aristotle defined poetry an imitative art.
6. The productions of genius, whether written in narrative, descriptive, or dramatic form, agree in the general character of presenting before the mind of the reader certain objects, which awaken his attention, exercise his fancy, and interest his feelings. Those scenes in nature that, from causes which it is the business of philosophy to explore, are adapted to excite in the spectator agreeable perceptions and emotions, may, by the aid of language, be exhibited in colors less vivid, indeed, than those of nature, but sufficiently bright to make a strong impression upon the imagination.
7. A similar effect will be produced by the representation of human characters and actions; but with a superior degree of force, on account of the superiority of animated to inanimate nature, and on account of the peculiar interest which men naturally take in whatever concerns their own species. These are rich and spacious fields, from which genius may collect materials for its various productions, without hazard of exhausting their treasures.
S. The ancients, numerous as their works of fancy are, were capable of enriching them with an endless variety'of imagery, sentiment and language. That strict adherence to nature which good sense and correct taste obliged them to observe produced, indeed, such a general resemblance as must always be found among disciples of the same school; and sometimes we find them copying with too much servility the works of other artists.
9. But there were few among them who were not able to collect, from the common magazine of nature, stores before unnoticed; and to adorn their works, not only with new decorations of language, but with original conceptions. And, notwithstanding the complaint of indolence and dullness, that the topics of description, and even of fiction, are exhausted, Genius still sometimes asserts her claims, and proves that the variety of her productions, like that of the operations of nature is without limit.
10. Hence they who are conversant with works of genius and taste find a variety in their sources of entertainment, in some measure proportioned to the extent of their acquaintance with languages. The industrious scholar, who has, with many a weary step, so far won his way through the rugged path of grammatical studies as to have acquired a competent knowledge of the ancient Greek and Roman languages, arrives at a fertile and well-cultivated plain, everywhere adorned with the fairest flowers, and enriched with the choicest fruits.
11. The writings of the ancients abound with excellent productions in every interesting kind of composition. There is no pleasing affection of the mind which may not, in these invaluable remains of antiquity, find ample scope for gratification.
12. But, without having recourse to the ancients, it is possible to find in modern languages valuable specimens of every species of polite literature. The English language, in particular, abounds with writings addressed to the imagination and feelings, and calculated for the improvement of taste. No one, who is not so far blinded by prejudice in favor of antiquity as to be incapable of relishing anything modern, can doubt that excellent examples of every kind of literary merit are to be found among the British writers.
13. The inventive powers of Shakspeare, the sublime conceptions of Milton, the versatile genius of Dryden, the wit of Butler, the easy gayety of Prior, the strength and harmony of Pope, the descriptive powers of Thomson, the delicate humor of Addison, the pathetic simplicity of Sterne, and the finished correctness of Gray, might, with some degree of confidence, be respectively brought into comparison with any examples of similar excellence among the ancients.
14. For minds capable of the pleasures of imagination and sentiment, such writings as these provide a kind of entertainment which is in its nature elegant and refined, and which admits of endless diversity. By exhibiting images industriously collected and judiciously disposed, they produce impressions, upon the reader's fancy, scarcely less vivid than those which would result from the actual contemplation of natural objects.
15. By combining incidents and characters of various kinds, and representing them as associated in new and interesting relations, they keep curiosity perpetually awake, and touch, in succession, every affection and passion of the heart. Whatever is grand or beautiful in nature; Whatever is noble, lovely, or singular, in character; whatever is surprising or affecting in situation, — is by the magic power of genius brought at pleasure into view, in the manner best adapted to excite correspondent emotions.
16. A rich field of elegant pleasure is hereby laid open before the reader who is possessed of a true taste for polite literature, which distinguishes him from the vulgar, at least as much as the man who enjoys an affluent fortune is distinguished by the luxuries of his table.
17. Beside the immediate gratification which this kind of reading affords, it is attended with several collateral advantages, which are perhaps of equal value. The exercise which it gives to the imagination and feelings improves the vigor and sensibility of the mind. It is the natural tendency of an intimate acquaintance with images of grandeur, beauty and excellence, as they are exhibited in works of taste, to produce a general habit of dignity and elegance, which will seldom fail to tincture a man's general character, and diffuse a graceful air over his whole conversation and manners.
18. It^s not unreasonable even to expect that they who are habitually conversant with beautiful forms in nature and art, and are frequently employed in contemplating excellent characters in the pages of history and fiction, will learn to admire whatever is noble or becoming in conduct.
"The attentive Mind,
By this harmonious action on her powers,
Becomes herself harmonious: wont so oft
In outward things to meditate the charm
Of sacred order, soon she seeks at home
To find a kindred order, to exert
Within herself this elegance of love,
This fair inspired delight: hut tempered powers
Refine at length, and every passion wears
A chaster, milder, more attractive mien." — Akensim.
The Ewnan Baths.— N. P. Willis.
1. The most considerable ruins of ancient Rome are those of the Baths. The Emperors Titus, Caracalla, Nero, and Agrippa, constructed these immense places of luxury, and the remains of them are among the most interesting and beautiful relics to be found in the world. It is possible that my read ers have as imperfect an idea of the extent of a Roman bath as I have had, and I may as well quote from the information given by writers upon antiquities.
2. They were open every day, to both sexes. In each of the great baths there were sixteen hundred seats of marble, for the convenience of the bathers, and three thousand two hundred persons could bathe at the same time.
3. There were splendid porticoes in front for promenade, arcades with shops, in which was found every kind of luxury for the bath, and halls for corporeal exercises, and for the discussion of philosophy; and here the poets read their productions, and rhetoricians harangued, and sculptors and painters exhibited their works to the public.
4. The baths were distributed into grand halls, with ceilings enormously high, and painted with admirable frescoes,* supported on columns of the rarest marble, and the basins were of oriental alabaster, porphyry, and jasper. There were in the center vast reservoirs for the swimmers, and crowds of slaves to attend gratuitously upon all who should come.
The Wife. — W. Irving.
The treasures of the deep are not so precious
1. I Have often had occasion to remark the fortitude with which women sustain the most overwhelming reverses of fortune. Those disasters which break down the spirit of a man, and prostrate him in the dust, seem to call forth all the energies of the softer sex, and give such intrepidity and elevation to their character, that at times it approaches to sublimity.
2. Nothing can be more touching than to behold a soft and
* Fresco is a mode of painting in relief on walls, performed with water-colors on fresh plaster, or on a wall laid with mortar not yet dry. The colors, incorporating with the mortar, and drying with it, become v very durable.
tender female, who had been all weakness and dependence, and alive to every trivial roughness, while treading the prosperous paths of life, suddenly rising in mental force to be the comforter and support of her husband under misfortune, and abiding, with unshrinking firmness, the bitterest blasts of adversity.
3. As the vine, which has long twined its graceful foliage about the oak, and been lifted by it into sunshine, will, when the hardy plant is rifted by the thunderbolt, cling round it with its caressing tendrils, and bind up its shattered boughs, — so it is beautifully ordered by Providence, that woman, who is the mere dependent and ornament of man in his happier hours, should be his stay and solace when smitten with sudden calamity; winding hersejf into the rugged recesses of his nature, tenderly supporting the drooping head, and binding up the broken heart.
4. I was once congratulating a friend, who had around him a blooming family, knit together in the strongest affection. "I can wish you no better lot," said he, with enthusiasm, "than to have a wife and children. If you are prosperous, there they are to share your prosperity; if otherwise, there they are to comfort you."
5. And, indeed, I have observed that a married man, falling into misfortune, is more apt to retrieve his situation in the world than a single one; — partly because he is more stimulated to exertion by the necessities of the helpless and beloved beings who depend upon him for subsistence; but chiefly because his spirits are soothed and relieved by domestic endearments, and his self-respect kept alive by finding, that, though all abroad is darkness and humiliation, yet there is still a little world of love at home, of which he is the monarch. Whereas a single man is apt to run to waste and selfneglect, — to fancy himself lonely and abandoned, and his heart to fall to ruin, like some deserted mansion, for want of an inhabitant.
6. These observations call to mind a little domestic story of which I was once a witness. My intimate friend, Leslie, had married a beautiful and accomplished girl, who had been brought up in the midst of fashionable life. She had, it is true, no fortune; but that of my friend was ample, and he delighted in the anticipation of indulging her in every elegant pursuit, and administering to those delicate tastes and fancies that spread a kind of witchery about the sex. .— " Her life," said he, "shall be like a fairy tale."