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All the Elegant Arts are Imitations, by which they are principally distinguished from the Manual, and which differ from each other, according to the Means or Materials which they respectively employ. Marble is generally the material of the Statuary, and his instrument the chiffel: those of the Painter are his colours, and his instrument the pencil: those of the Musician are the different sounds, and his instruments of various kinds: those of the Poet are words, and the pen his inftrument.
Of the Poetical PrincipLE..
THE Source from which the Imitative
1 Arts originally derive their energy, is that Internal Feeling or Sensibility, which, by a spontaneous operation, recognizes a wonderful variety of different sentiments, emotions, and affections, according to all the modes and
diversities of Pleasure and Pain, excited in the mind by the different objects, actions, and/ events which occur in all the various scenes of human life.
This native Sensibility is, therefore, the FIRST PRINCIPLE of Poetic Art, without which Genius would neither know what to imitate in order to produce the Effect designed, nor would the mind be enabled to recoge nize that Effect produced.
However different from the External and Moral Senses, we may observe a general analogy subsisting between them. As the different kinds of Good and Evil, as they are distinguished by the Moral Principle, form all the different classes and varieties of moral Action ; fo the different modes of Pleafure and Pain as recognized by the Poetical Principle, give all their distinctive colours and varieties to the elegant Arts: and, such is the general consistency and uniformity of things, that, as we observe the External Senses more perfect and the Moral more acute, from their natural formation, in some persons than in others; so we remark this other
Principle to prevail in different minds with greater and less degrees of delicacy and refinement. And, as the two former are liable to be injured in their exercise, and perverted in their use by habit or accident, and capable of being corrected by an act of reason ; fo is this Poetical Senfe fubject to be corrupted by habit, and to be corrected by reason.
The higher degrees of this Poetic Feeling are the rare and peculiar gift of nature; when accompanied with the imitative talent, the happy combination is distinguished by the name of Genius; and, when conducted by found judgment, the result is called Taste : which endowments are more partially and capriciously bestowed than the other mental faculties, as it is necessary there should be many Moralists and Philosophers, whilft a few Poets wilt suffice for all the purposes of life, provided they be the best.
DUT, in the name of Apollo and the
D Muses, what has REASONING, it may be faid, to do with Genius and Taste? What has a dry and sombrous Logic to do in the wild and luxuriant fields of Imagination? — An able philosopher and philologist shall give the answer. “Every thing really elegant or
sublime in composition, is ultimately referable to the Principles of found Logic; those • Principles, when readers little think of them, • have still a latent force, and may be traced,
if fought after, even in the politest of • Writers. By reasoning of this kind an im
portant Union is established; the Union between Taste and Truth. 'Tis this is that splendid Union which produces the Clafýcs of pure Antiquity; which produced, ' in times less remote, the Classics of modern
days; and which those who now write, 'ought to cultivate with attention, if they T 2
• with to survive in the estimation of posterity. • Taste is in fact but a species of inferior • TRUTH. 'Tis the Truth of Elegance, of • Decoration, and of Grace ; which, as all • Truth is fimilar and congenial, coincides as it
were spontaneously with the more severe and • logical; but which, whenever destitute of that • more solid support, resembles some fair but • languid Body; a Body, specious in feature, ! but deficient in nerve; a Body, where we • seek in vain for that natural and just per• fection, which arises from the pleasing har• mony of Strength and Beauty affociated.
Aristotle defines Poetic Art in general to
•duction of a true Effect:'h and wherever Truth
5 Harris's Philofophical Arrangements, p. 458.
Εξις μετα λογα αληθες ποιητική. έτι δε τέχνη πασα περί γένεσιν, και το τεχνάζειν, και θεωρείν, όπως αν γένηται τι των ενδεχομένων και είναι, και μη είναι και αν η αρχή εν τω ποιώντι, αλλά μη εν τω ποιημένω. έτε γαρ των εξ ανάγκης όνων, ή γινομένων, η τέχνη έσιν, έτε των καλα φύσιν εν αυτοίς γαρ έχεσι ταύτα την αρχήν. έπει δε ποίησις και πράξις έτερον, ανάγκη την τέχνην σοιάσεως, αλλ' και πράξεως είναι. η μεν έν τέχνη, ώσπερ είρηται, εξίς τις μετα