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tations; mimicry is particular, and seizes on the incongruous in individual characters. I think we must say, that mimicry is always employed upon defects: a good voice, a gentleman-like appearance, and rational, agreeable manners, can never be the subject of mimicry ;-they may be exactly represented and imitated, but nobody would call this mimicry, as the word always means the representation of defects. Parody is the adaptation of the same thoughts to other subjects. Burlesque is that species of parody, or adaptation of thoughts to other subjects, which is intended to make the original ridiculous. Pope has parodied several Odes of Horace; Johnson has parodied Juvenal; Cervantes has burlesqued the old romances.
A BULL -which must by no means be passed over in this recapitulation of the family of wit and humour-a bull is exactly the counterpart of a witticism: for as wit discovers real relations that are not apparent, bulls admit apparent relations that are not real. The pleasure arising from bulls, proceeds from our surprise at suddenly discovering two things to be dissimilar in which a resemblance might have been suspected. The same doctrine will apply to wit and bulls in action. Practical wit discovers connection or relation between actions, in which duller understandings discover none; and practical bulls originate from an apparent relation between two actions which more correct understandings immediately perceive to have none at all. In the late rebellion in Ireland, the rebels, who had conceived a high degree of indignation against some great banker, passed a resolution that they would burn his notes;-which they accordingly did, with great assiduity; forgetting, that in burning his notes they were destroying his debts, and that for every note which went into the flames, a correspondent value went into the banker's pocket. A gentleman, in speaking of a nobleman's wife, of great rank and fortune, lamented very much that she had no children. A medical gentleman who was present observed, that to have no children was a great misfortune, but he thought he had remarked it was hereditary in some families. Take any instances of this branch of the
ridiculous, and you will always find an apparent relation of ideas leading to a complete inconsistency.
DANGERS OF WIT.
I SHALL say nothing of charades, and such sorts of unpardonable trumpery: if charades are made at all, they should be made without benefit of clergy, the offender should instantly be hurried off to execution, and be cut off in the middle of his dullness, without being allowed to explain to the executioner why his first is like his second, or what is the resemblance between his fourth and his ninth.
DANGERS AND ADVANTAGES OF WIT.
I WISH, after all I have said about wit and humour, I could satsify myself of their good effects upon the character and disposition; but I am convinced the probable tendency of both is, to corrupt the understanding and the heart. I am not speaking of wit where it is kept down by more serious qualities of mind, and thrown into the background of the picture; but where it stands out boldly and emphatically, and is evidently the master quality in any particular mind. Professed wits, though they are generally courted for the amusement they afford, are seldom respected for the qualities they possess. The habit of seeing things in a witty point of view, increases and makes incursions from its own proper regions, upon principles and opinions which are ever held sacred by the wise and good. A witty man is a dramatic performer; in process of time, he can no more exist without applause, than he can exist without air; if his audience be small, or if they are inattentive, or if a new wit defrauds him of any portion of his admiration, it is all over with him-he sickens, and is extinguished. The applauses of the theatre on which he performs are so essential to him that he must obtain them at the expense of decency, friendship, and good feeling. It must always be probable, too, that a mere wit is a person of light and frivolous understanding. His business is not to discover relations of ideas that are useful, and have a real influence upon life, but to discover the more trifling relations which are only amusing; he never looks at things with the naked eye of common
sense, but is always gazing at the world through a Claude Lorraine glass-discovering a thousand appearances which are created only by the instrument of inspection, and covering every object with factitious and unnatural colours. In short, the character of a mere wit it is impossible to consider as very amiable, very respectable, or very safe. So far the world, in judging of wit where it has swallowed up all other qualities, judge aright; but I doubt if they are sufficiently indulgent to this faculty where it exists in a lesser degree, and as one out of many other ingredients of the understanding. There is an association in men's minds between dullness and wisdom, amusement and folly, which has a very powerful influence in decision upon character, and is not overcome without considerable difficulty. The reason is, that the outward signs of a dull man and a wise man are the same, and so are the outward signs of a frivolous man and a witty man; and we are not to expect that the majority will be disposed to look to much more than the outward sign. I believe the fact to be, that wit is very seldom the only eminent quality which resides in the mind of any man; it is commonly accompanied by many other talents of every description, and ought to be considered as a strong evidence of a fertile and superior understanding. Almost all the great poets, orators, and statesmen of all times have been witty. Cæsar, Alexander, Aristotle, Descartes, and Lord Bacon, were witty men; so were Cicero, Shakespeare, Demosthenes, Boileau, Pope, Dryden, Fontenelle, Jonson, Waller, Cowley, Solon, Socrates, Dr. Johnson, and almost every man who has made a distinguished figure in the House of Commons. I have talked of the danger of wit; I do not mean by that to enter into commonplace declamation against faculties because they are dangerous;-wit is dangerous, eloquence is dangerous, a talent for observation is dangerous, every thing is dangerous that has efficacy and vigour for its characteristics; nothing is safe but mediocrity. The business is, in conducting the understanding well, to risk something; to aim at uniting things that are commonly incompatible. The meaning of an extraordinary man is, that he is eight men, not one man; that he has as much wit as if he had no sense, and as much sense as if he had no wit; that his conduct is as judicious as if he were the dullest of human beings, and his imagination as brilliant as if he were irretrievably ruined. But when wit is combined with sense and information;
AN EXTRAORDINARY MAN.
when it is softened by benevolence, and restrained by strong principle; when it is in the hands of a man who can use it and despise it, who can be witty and something much better than witty, who loves honour, justice, decency, good nature, morality, and religion, ten thousand times better than wit;-wit is then a beautiful and delightful part of our nature. There is no more interesting spectacle than to see the effects of wit upon the different characters of men; than to observe it expanding caution, relaxing dignity, unfreezing coldness-teaching age, and care, and pain, to smileextorting reluctant gleams of pleasure from melancholy, and charming even the pangs of grief. It is pleasant to observe how it penetrates through the coldness and awkwardness of society, gradually bringing men nearer together, and, like the combined force of wine and oil, giving every man a glad heart and a shining countenance. Genuine and innocent wit like this, is surely the flave of the mind! Man could direct his ways by plain reason, and support his life by tasteless food; but God has given us wit, and flavour, and brightness, and laughter, and perfumes, to enliven the days of man's pilgrimage, and to "charm his pained steps over the burning marle."
It is very true what Mr. Alison says, that "there are many sensations universally called sublime, which association may make otherwise." I admit readily, that a fortuitous connection of thought can make it otherwise than sublime; but the question is, Did it receive from nature the character of sublime? does any thing receive from nature the character of sublime, or the character of beautiful? and would anything perpetually display, and constantly preserve such a character, if no accident intervened to raise up a contrary association? Certainty on such subjects can not be attained; but I, for one, strongly believe in the affirmative of the question-that Nature speaks to the mind of man immediately in beautiful and sublime language; that she astonishes him with magnitude, appals him with darkness, cheers him with splendour, soothes him with harmony, captivates him with emotion, enchants him with fame; she never intended man should walk among *From the Essay on Taste.
her flowers, and her fields, and her streams, unmoved; nor did she rear the strength of the hills in vain, or mean that we should look with a stupid heart on the wild glory of the torrent, bursting from the darkness of the forest, and dashing over the crumbling rock. I would as soon deny hardness, or softness, or figure, to be qualities of matter, as I would deny beauty or sublimity to belong to its qualities.
Every man is as good a judge of a question like this, as the ablest metaphysician. Walk in the fields in one of the mornings of May, and if you carry with you a mind unpolluted with harm, watch how it is impressed. You are delighted with the beauty of colours; are not those colours beautiful? You breathe vegetable fragrance; is not that fragrance grateful? You see the sun rising from behind a mountain, and the heavens painted with light; is not that renewal of the light of the morning sublime? You reject all obvious reasons, and say that these things are beautiful and sublime because the accidents of life have made them so;—I say they are beautiful and sublime, BECAUSE GOD HAS MADE THEM so! that it is the original, indelible character impressed upon them by Him, who has opened these sources of simple pleasure, to calm, perhaps, the perturbations of sense, and to make us love that joy which is purchased without giving pain to another man's heart, and without entailing reproach upon our own.
CERTAINTY OF TASTE."
THE progress of good taste, however, though it is certain and irresistible, is slow. Mistaken pleasantry, false ornament, and affected conceit, perish by the discriminating hand of time, that lifts up from the dust of oblivion, the grand and simple efforts of genius. Title, rank, prejudice, party, artifice, and a thousand disturbing forces, are always at work to confer unmerited fame; but every recurring year contributes its remedy to these infringements on justice and good sense. The breath of living acclamation can not reach the ages which are to come: the judges and the judged are no more; passion is extinguished; party is forgotten; and the mild yet inflexible decisions of taste, will receive nothing, as the price of praise, but the solid exertions of superior talent. Justice *From the same.