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of the virtues and good qualities of the deceased; and of the different expectations, raised by them? These were the dictates of nature to the father of poets, when he had to draw the distresses of Priam's family sorrowing for the death of Hector. Yet nothing, it seems, but servile imitation could supply his sons, the Greek and Roman poets in aftertimes, with such pathetic lamentations. It may be so. They were all nourished by his streams. But what shall we say of one, who assuredly never drank at his fountains ? . — My heart will burst, and if I speakAnd I will speak, that so my heart may burst. Butchers and villains, bloody cannibals, How sweet a plant have ye untimely cropt! You have no children; butchers, if you had, The thought of them would have stirr'd up
The reader, also, may consult that wonderful scene, in which Macduff laments the murder of his wife and children. [MACBETH.]
2. It is not different with the MANNERS; I mean those sentiments, which mark and distinguish characters. These result immediately from the suggestions of nature; which
is so uniform in her workings, and offers her, self so openly to common inspection, that nothing but a perverse and studied affectation can frequently hinder the exactest similarity of representation in different writers. This is so true, that, from knowing the general character, intended to be kept up, we can guess, beforehand, how a person will act, or what sentiments he will entertain, on any occasion. And the critic even ventures to prescribe, by the authority of rule, the particular properties and attributes, required to sustain it. And no wonder. Every man, as he can make himself the subject of all passions, so he becomes, in a manner, the aggregate of all characters. Nature may have inclined him most powerfully to one set of manners; just as one passion is, always, predominant in him. But he finds in himself the seeds of all others. This consciousness, as before, furnishes the characteristic sentiments, which constitute the manners. And it were full as strange for two poets, who had taken in hand such a character, as that of Achilles, to differ materially in their expression of it; as for two painters, drawing from the same object, to avoid a striking conformity in the design and attitude of their pictures,
Those who are fond of hunting after par: allels, might, I doubt not, with great ease, confront almost every sentiment, which, in the Greek tragedians, is made expressive of particular characters, with similar passages in other poets; more especially (for I inust often refer to his authority) in the various living pourtraitures of Shakespear. Yet he, who after taking this learned pains, should chuse to urge such parallels, when found, for proofs of his imitation of the ancients, would only run the hazard of being reputed, by men of sense, as poor a critic of human nature, as of his author.
I say this with confidence, because I say it on a great authority. « Tout est dit (says “ an exquisite writer on the subject of man“ ners) et l'on vient trop tard depuis plus de “ sept mille ans qu'il y a des hommes, et qui “ pensent. Sur ce qui concerne les MOEURS, s le plus beau et le meilleur est enlevé; l'on ne « fait que glaner après les anciens, & les “ habiles d'entre les modernesks.”
Thus far indeed, the case is almost too plain to be disputed. Strong affections, and constitutional characters, : will be allowed to act powerfully and steadily upon uş. The violence and rapidity of their movements render all disguise impossible. And we find ourselves determined, by a kind of necessity, to think and speak, in given circumstances, after much the same manner. But what shall we say of our cooler reasonings ; the sentiments, which thie mind, at pleasure, revolves, and applies, as it sees fit, to various occasions? “ Fancy and “ humour, it will be thought, have so great an “ influence in directing these operations of our “ mental faculties, as to make it altogether 6.incredible, that any remarkable coincidence “ of sentiment, in different persons, should 5 result from them.”
k M. DE LA BRUYERE, Tom. I. p. 91. Amst. 1701. "
To think of reducing the thoughts of man, which are “ more than the sands, and wider than the ocean," into classes, were, perhaps, a wild attempt. Yet the most considerable of those, which enter into works of poetry (besides such as result from fixed characters or predominant passions) may be included in the division of 1. Religious, 2. Moral, and 3. Oeconomical sentiments; understanding by this last (for I know of no fitter term to express my meaning) all those reasonings, which take their rise from particular conjunctures of
ordinary life, and are any way relative to our conduct in it..
1. The apprehension of some invisible power, as superintending the universe, tho' not connate with the mind, yet, from the experience of all ages, is found inseparable from the first and rudest exertions of its powers. And the several reflexions, which religion derives from this idea, are altogether as necessary. It is easy to conceive, how unavoidably, almost, the mind awakened by certain con; junctures of distress, and working on the ground of this original impression, turns itself to awful views of dejty, and seeks relief in those soothing contemplations of Providence, which we find so frequent in the epic and tragic poets. And whoever shall give himself the trouble of examining those noble hymns, which the lyric musę, in her gravest humours, chaunted to the popular gods of paganism, will hardly find a single trace of a devotional sentiment, which hath not been common, at all times, to all religionists. Their power, and sovereign disposal of all events; their care of the good, and aversion to the wicked; the blessings, they derive on their worshippers, and the terrors, they infix in the breasts of the profane ; they are the usual topics of their