Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Spectator, Volume 2. by Addison and Steele

Part 19 out of 19

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 2.1 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Athens, where the Apostle is represented as lifting up both his Arms,
and pouring out the Thunder of his Rhetorick amidst an Audience of Pagan

It is certain that proper Gestures and vehement Exertions of the Voice
cannot be too much studied by a publick Orator. They are a kind of
Comment to what he utters, and enforce every thing he says, with weak
Hearers, better than the strongest Argument he can make use of. They
keep the Audience awake, and fix their Attention to what is delivered to
them, at the same time that they shew the Speaker is in earnest, and
affected himself with what he so passionately recommends to others.
Violent Gesture and Vociferation naturally shake the Hearts of the
Ignorant, and fill them with a kind of Religious Horror. Nothing is more
frequent than to see Women weep and tremble at the Sight of a moving
Preacher, though he is placed quite out of their Hearing; as in England
we very frequently see People lulled asleep with solid and elaborate
Discourses of Piety, who would be warmed and transported out of
themselves by the Bellowings and Distortions of Enthusiasm.

If Nonsense, when accompanied with such an Emotion of Voice and Body,
has such an Influence on Men's Minds, what might we not expect from many
of those Admirable Discourses which are printed in our Tongue, were they
delivered with a becoming Fervour, and with the most agreeable Graces of
Voice and Gesture?

We are told that the great Latin Orator very much impaired his Health by
this laterum contentio, this Vehemence of Action, with which he used to
deliver himself. The Greek Orator was likewise so very Famous for this
Particular in Rhetorick, that one of his Antagonists, whom he had
banished from Athens, reading over the Oration which had procured his
Banishment, and seeing his Friends admire it, could not forbear asking
them, if they were so much affected by the bare reading of it, how much
more they would have been alarmed, had they heard him actually throwing
out such a Storm of Eloquence?

How cold and dead a Figure in Comparison of these two great Men, does an
Orator often make at the British Bar, holding up his Head with the most
insipid Serenity, and streaking the sides of a long Wigg that reaches
down to his Middle? The truth of it is, there is often nothing more
ridiculous than the Gestures of an English Speaker; you see some of them
running their Hands into their Pockets as far as ever they can thrust
them, and others looking with great Attention on a piece of Paper that
has nothing written in it; you may see many a smart Rhetorician turning
his Hat in his Hands, moulding it into several different Cocks,
examining sometimes the Lining of it, and sometimes the Button, during
the whole course of his Harangue. A deaf Man would think he was
Cheap'ning a Beaver, when perhaps he is talking of the Fate of the
British Nation. I remember, when I was a young Man, and used to frequent
Westminster-Hall, there was a Counsellor who never pleaded without a
Piece of Pack-thread in his Hand, which he used to twist about a Thumb,
or a Finger, all the while he was speaking: The Waggs of those Days used
to call it the Thread of his Discourse, for he was not able to utter a
Word without it. One of his Clients, who was more merry than wise, stole
it from him one Day in the midst of his Pleading; but he had better have
let it alone, for he lost his Cause by his Jest.

I have all along acknowledged my self to be a Dumb Man, and therefore
may be thought a very improper Person to give Rules for Oratory; but I
believe every one will agree with me in this, that we ought either to
lay aside all kinds of Gesture, (which seems to be very suitable to the
Genius of our Nation) or at least to make use of such only as are
graceful and expressive.


* * * * *

No. 408. Wednesday, June 18, 1712. Pope.

'Decet affectus animi neque se nimium erigere, nec subjacere

Tull. de Finibus.


I have always been a very great Lover of your Speculations, as well in
Regard to the Subject, as to your Manner of Treating it. Human Nature
I always thought the most useful Object of human Reason, and to make
the Consideration of it pleasant and entertaining, I always thought
the best Employment of human Wit: Other Parts of Philosophy may
perhaps make us wiser, but this not only answers that End, but makes
us better too. Hence it was that the Oracle pronounced Socrates the
wisest of all Men living, because he judiciously made Choice of human
Nature for the Object of his Thoughts; an Enquiry into which as much
exceeds all other Learning, as it is of more Consequence to adjust the
true Nature and Measures of Right and Wrong, than to settle the
Distance of the Planets, and compute the Times of their

One good Effect that will immediately arise from a near Observation of
human Nature, is, that we shall cease to wonder at those Actions which
Men are used to reckon wholly unaccountable; for as nothing is
produced without a Cause, so by observing the Nature and Course of the
Passions, we shall be able to trace every Action from its first
Conception to its Death; We shall no more admire at the Proceedings of
Catiline or Tiberius, when we know the one was actuated by a cruel
Jealousie, the other by a furious Ambition; for the Actions of Men
follow their Passions as naturally as Light does Heat, or as any other
Effect flows from its Cause; Reason must be employed in adjusting the
Passions, but they must ever remain the Principles of Action.

The strange and absurd Variety that is so apparent in Men's Actions,
shews plainly they can never proceed immediately from Reason; so pure
a Fountain emits no such troubled Waters: They must necessarily arise
from the Passions, which are to the Mind as the Winds to a Ship, they
only can move it, and they too often destroy it; if fair and gentle,
they guide it into the Harbour; if contrary and furious, they overset
it in the Waves: In the same manner is the Mind assisted or endangered
by the Passions; Reason must then take the Place of Pilot, and can
never fail of securing her Charge if she be not wanting to her self:
The Strength of the Passions will never be accepted as an Excuse for
complying with them, they were designed for Subjection, and if a Man
suffers them to get the upper Hand, he then betrays the Liberty of his
own Soul.

As Nature has framed the several Species of Beings as it were in a
Chain, so Man seems to be placed as the middle Link between Angels and
Brutes: Hence he participates both of Flesh and Spirit by an admirable
Tie, which in him occasions perpetual War of Passions; and as a Man
inclines to the angelick or brute Part of his Constitution, he is then
denominated good or bad, virtuous or wicked; if Love, Mercy, and
Good-nature prevail, they speak him of the Angel; if Hatred, Cruelty,
and Envy predominate, they declare his Kindred to the Brute. Hence it
was that some of the Ancients imagined, that as Men in this Life
inclined more to the Angel or Brute, so after their Death they should
transmigrate into the one or the other: and it would be no unpleasant
Notion, to consider the several Species of Brutes, into which we may
imagine that Tyrants, Misers, the Proud, Malicious, and Ill-natured
might be changed.

As a Consequence of this Original, all Passions are in all Men, but
all appear not in all; Constitution, Education, Custom of the Country,
Reason, and the like Causes, may improve or abate the Strength of
them, but still the Seeds remain, which are ever ready to sprout forth
upon the least Encouragement. I have heard a Story of a good religious
Man, who, having been bred with the Milk of a Goat, was very modest in
Publick by a careful Reflection he made on his Actions, but he
frequently had an Hour in Secret, wherein he had his Frisks and
Capers; and if we had an Opportunity of examining the Retirement of
the strictest Philosophers, no doubt but we should find perpetual
Returns of those Passions they so artfully conceal from the Publick. I
remember Matchiavel observes, that every State should entertain a
perpetual jealousie of its Neighbours, that so it should never be
unprovided when an Emergency happens; [1] in like manner should the
Reason be perpetually on its Guard against the Passions, and never
suffer them to carry on any Design that may be destructive of its
Security; yet at the same Time it must be careful, that it don't so
far break their Strength as to render them contemptible, and
consequently it self unguarded.

The Understanding being of its self too slow and lazy to exert it self
into Action, its necessary it should be put in Motion by the gentle
Gales of the Passions, which may preserve it from stagnating and
Corruption; for they are as necessary to the Health of the Mind, as
the Circulation of the animal Spirits is to the Health of the Body;
they keep it in Life, and Strength, and Vigour; nor is it possible for
the Mind to perform its Offices without their Assistance: These
Motions are given us with our Being, they are little Spirits that are
born and dye with us; to some they are mild, easie, and gentle, to
others wayward and unruly, yet never too strong for the Reins of
Reason and the Guidance of Judgment.

We may generally observe a pretty nice Proportion between the Strength
of Reason and Passion; the greatest Genius's have commonly the
strongest Affections, as on the other hand, the weaker Understandings
have generally the weaker Passions; and 'tis fit the Fury of the
Coursers should not be too great for the Strength of the Charioteer.
Young Men whose Passions are not a little unruly, give small Hopes of
their ever being considerable; the Fire of Youth will of course abate,
and is a Fault, if it be a Fault, that mends every Day; but surely
unless a Man has Fire in Youth, he can hardly have Warmth in Old Age.
We must therefore be very cautious, lest while we think to regulate
the Passions, we should quite extinguish them, which is putting out
the Light of the Soul: for to be without Passion, or to be hurried
away with it, makes a Man equally blind. The extraordinary Severity
used in most of our Schools has this fatal Effect, it breaks the
Spring of the Mind, and most certainly destroys more good Genius's
than it can possibly improve. And surely 'tis a mighty Mistake that
the Passions should be so intirely subdued; for little Irregularities
are sometimes not only to be borne with, but to be cultivated too,
since they are frequently attended with the greatest Perfections. All
great Genius's have Faults mixed with their Virtues, and resemble the
flaming Bush which has Thorns amongst Lights.

Since, therefore the Passions are the Principles of human Actions, we
must endeavour to manage them so as to retain their Vigour, yet keep
them under strict Command; we must govern them rather like free
Subjects than Slaves, lest while we intend to make them obedient, they
become abject, and unfit for those great Purposes to which they were
designed. For my Part I must confess, I could never have any Regard to
that Sect of Philosophers, who so much insisted upon an absolute
Indifference and Vacancy from all Passion; for it seems to me a Thing
very inconsistent for a Man to divest himself of Humanity, in order to
acquire Tranquility of Mind, and to eradicate the very Principles of
Action, because its possible they may produce ill Effects.

I am, SIR,

Your Affectionate Admirer,

T. B.


[Footnote 1: The Prince, ch. xlv, at close.]

* * * * *

No. 409. Thursday, June 19, 1712. Addison.

'Musaeo contingere cuncta lepore.'


Gratian very often recommends the Fine Taste, [1] as the utmost
Perfection of an accomplished Man. As this Word arises very often in
Conversation, I shall endeavour to give some Account of it, and to lay
down Rules how we may know whether we are possessed of it, and how we
may acquire that fine Taste of Writing, which is so much talked of among
the Polite World.

Most Languages make use of this Metaphor, to express that Faculty of the
Mind, which distinguishes all the most concealed Faults and nicest
Perfections in Writing. We may be sure this Metaphor would not have been
so general in all Tongues, had there not been a very great Conformity
between that Mental Taste, which is the Subject of this Paper, and that
Sensitive Taste which gives us a Relish of every different Flavour that
affects the Palate. Accordingly we find, there are as many Degrees of
Refinement in the intellectual Faculty, as in the Sense, which is marked
out by this common Denomination.

I knew a Person who possessed the one in so great a Perfection, that
after having tasted ten different Kinds of Tea, he would distinguish,
without seeing the Colour of it, the particular Sort which was offered
him; and not only so, but any two Sorts of them that were mixt together
in an equal Proportion; nay he has carried the Experiment so far, as
upon tasting the Composition of three different Sorts, to name the
Parcels from whence the three several Ingredients were taken. A Man of a
fine Taste in Writing will discern, after the same manner, not only the
general Beauties and Imperfections of an Author, but discover the
several Ways of thinking and expressing himself, which diversify him
from all other Authors, with the several Foreign Infusions of Thought
and Language, and the particular Authors from whom they were borrowed.

After having thus far explained what is generally meant by a fine Taste
in Writing, and shewn the Propriety of the Metaphor which is used on
this Occasion, I think I may define it to be that Faculty of the Soul,
which discerns the Beauties of an Author with Pleasure, and the
Imperfections with Dislike. If a Man would know whether he is possessed
of this Faculty, I would have him read over the celebrated Works of
Antiquity, which have stood the Test of so many different Ages and
Countries, or those Works among the Moderns which have the Sanction of
the Politer Part of our Contemporaries. If upon the Perusal of such
Writings he does not find himself delighted in an extraordinary Manner,
or if, upon reading the admired Passages in such Authors, he finds a
Coldness and Indifference in his Thoughts, he ought to conclude, not (as
is too usual among tasteless Readers) that the Author wants those
Perfections which have been admired in him, but that he himself wants
the Faculty of discovering them.

He should, in the second Place, be very careful to observe, whether he
tastes the distinguishing Perfections, or, if I may be allowed to call
them so, the Specifick Qualities of the Author whom he peruses; whether
he is particularly pleased with Livy for his Manner of telling a Story,
with Sallust for his entering into those internal Principles of Action
which arise from the Characters and Manners of the Persons he describes,
or with Tacitus for his displaying those outward Motives of Safety and
Interest, which give Birth to the whole Series of Transactions which he

He may likewise consider, how differently he is affected by the same
Thought, which presents it self in a great Writer, from what he is when
he finds it delivered by a Person of an ordinary Genius. For there is as
much Difference in apprehending a Thought cloathed in Cicero's Language,
and that of a common Author, as in seeing an Object by the Light of a
Taper, or by the Light of the Sun.

It is very difficult to lay down Rules for the Acquirement of such a
Taste as that I am here speaking of. The Faculty must in some degree be
born with us, and it very often happens, that those who have other
Qualities in Perfection are wholly void of this. One of the most eminent
Mathematicians of the Age has assured me, that the greatest Pleasure he
took in reading Virgil, was in examining AEneas his Voyage by the Map; as
I question not but many a Modern Compiler of History, would be delighted
with little more in that Divine Author, than in the bare Matters of

But notwithstanding this Faculty must in some measure be born with us,
there are several Methods for Cultivating and Improving it, and without
which it will be very uncertain, and of little use to the Person that
possesses it. The most natural Method for this Purpose is to be
conversant among the Writings of the most Polite Authors. A Man who has
any Relish for fine Writing, either discovers new Beauties, or receives
stronger Impressions from the Masterly Strokes of a great Author every
time he peruses him; Besides that he naturally wears himself into the
same manner of Speaking and Thinking.

Conversation with Men of a Polite Genius is another Method for improving
our Natural Taste. It is impossible for a Man of the greatest Parts to
consider anything in its whole Extent, and in all its Variety of Lights.
Every Man, besides those General Observations which are to be made upon
an Author, forms several Reflections that are peculiar to his own Manner
of Thinking; so that Conversation will naturally furnish us with Hints
which we did not attend to, and make us enjoy other Men's Parts and
Reflections as well as our own. This is the best Reason I can give for
the Observation which several have made, that Men of great Genius in the
same way of Writing seldom rise up singly, but at certain Periods of
Time appear together, and in a Body; as they did at Rome in the Reign of
Augustus, and in Greece about the Age of Socrates. I cannot think that
Corneille, Racine, Moliere, Boileau, la Fontaine, Bruyere, Bossu, or the
Daciers, would have written so well as they have done, had they not been
Friends and Contemporaries.

It is likewise necessary for a Man who would form to himself a finished
Taste of good Writing, to be well versed in the Works of the best
Criticks both Ancient and Modern. I must confess that I could wish there
were Authors of this kind, who beside the Mechanical Rules which a Man
of very little Taste may discourse upon, would enter into the very
Spirit and Soul of fine Writing, and shew us the several Sources of that
Pleasure which rises in the Mind upon the Perusal of a noble Work. Thus
although in Poetry it be absolutely necessary that the Unities of Time,
Place and Action, with other Points of the same Nature, should be
thoroughly explained and understood; there is still something more
essential to the Art, something that elevates and astonishes the Fancy,
and gives a Greatness of Mind to the Reader, which few of the Criticks
besides Longinus have considered.

Our general Taste in England is for Epigram, Turns of Wit, and forced
Conceits, which have no manner of Influence, either for the bettering or
enlarging the Mind of him who reads them, and have been carefully
avoided by the greatest Writers, both among the Ancients and Moderns. I
have endeavoured in several of my Speculations to banish this Gothic
Taste, which has taken Possession among us. I entertained the Town, for
a Week together, with an Essay upon Wit, in which I endeavoured to
detect several of those false Kinds which have been admired in the
different Ages of the World; and at the same time to shew wherein the
Nature of true Wit consists. I afterwards gave an Instance of the great
Force which lyes in a natural Simplicity of Thought to affect the Mind
of the Reader, from such vulgar Pieces as have little else besides this
single Qualification to recommend them. I have likewise examined the
Works of the greatest Poet which our Nation or perhaps any other has
produced, and particularized most of those rational and manly Beauties
which give a Value to that Divine Work. I shall next Saturday enter upon
an Essay on the Pleasures of the Imagination, which, though it shall
consider that Subject at large, will perhaps suggest to the Reader what
it is that gives a Beauty to many Passages of the finest Writers both in
Prose and Verse. As an Undertaking of this Nature is entirely new, I
question not but it will be received with Candour.


[Footnote 1: See note on p. 620, ante [Footnote 3 of No. 379]. This fine
taste was the 'cultismo', the taste for false concepts, which Addison

* * * * *

No. 410. Friday, June 20, 1712. Tickell.

'Dum foris sunt, nihil videtur Mundius,
Nec magis compositum quidquam, nec magis elegans:
Quae, cum amatore suo cum coenant, Liguriunt,
Harum videre ingluviem, sordes, inopiam:
Quam inhonestae solae sint domi, atque avidae cibi,
Quo pacto ex Jure Hesterno panem atrum varent.
Nosse omnia haec, salus est adolescentulis.'


WILL. HONEYCOMB, who disguises his present Decay by visiting the Wenches
of the Town only by Way of Humour, told us, that the last rainy Night he
with Sir ROGER DE COVERLY was driven into the Temple Cloister, whither
had escaped also a Lady most exactly dressed from Head to Foot. WILL,
made no Scruple to acquaint us, that she saluted him very familiarly by
his Name, and turning immediately to the Knight, she said, she supposed
that was his good Friend, Sir ROGER DE COVERLY: Upon which nothing less
could follow than Sir ROGER'S Approach to Salutation, with, Madam the
same at your Service. She was dressed in a black Tabby Mantua and
Petticoat, without Ribbons; her Linnen striped Muslin, and in the whole
in an agreeable Second-Mourning; decent Dresses being often affected by
the Creatures of the Town, at once consulting Cheapness and the
Pretensions to Modesty. She went on with a familiar easie Air. Your
Friend, Mr. HONEYCOMB, is a little surprized to see a Woman here alone
and unattended; but I dismissed my Coach at the Gate, and tripped it
down to my Council's Chambers, for Lawyer's Fees take up too much of a
small disputed Joynture to admit any other Expence but meer Necessaries.
Mr. HONEYCOMB begged they might have the Honour of setting her down, for
Sir ROGER'S Servant was gone to call a Coach. In the Interim the Footman
returned, with no Coach to be had; and there appeared nothing to be done
but trusting herself with Mr. HONEYCOMB and his Friend to wait at the
Tavern at the Gate for a Coach, or to be subjected to all the
Impertinence she must meet with in that publick Place. Mr. HONEYCOMB
being a Man of Honour determined the Choice of the first, and Sir ROGER,
as the better Man, took the Lady by the Hand, leading through all the
Shower, covering her with his Hat, and gallanting a familiar
Acquaintance through Rows of young Fellows, who winked at Sukey in the
State she marched off, WILL. HONEYCOMB bringing up the Rear.

Much Importunity prevailed upon the Fair one to admit of a Collation,
where, after declaring she had no Stomach, and eaten a Couple of
Chickens, devoured a Trusse of Sallet, and drunk a full Bottle to her
Share, she sung the Old Man's Wish to Sir ROGER. The Knight left the
Room for some Time after Supper, and writ the following Billet, which he
conveyed to Sukey, and Sukey to her Friend WILL. HONEYCOMB. WILL. has
given it to Sir ANDREW FREEPORT, who read it last Night to the Club.


I am not so meer a Country-Gentleman, but I can guess at the
Law-Business you had at the Temple. If you would go down to the
Country and leave off all your Vanities but your Singing, let me know
at my Lodgings in Bow-street Covent-Garden, and you shall be
encouraged by

Your humble Servant,


My good Friend could not well stand the Raillery which was rising upon
him; but to put a Stop to it I deliverd WILL. HONEYCOMB the following
Letter, and desired him to read it to the Board.


Having seen a Translation of one of the Chapters in the Canticles into
English Verse inserted among your late Papers, I have ventured to send
you the 7th Chapter of the Proverbs in a poetical Dress. If you think
it worthy appearing among your Speculations, it will be a sufficient
Reward for the Trouble of

Your constant Reader,

A. B.

My Son, th' Instruction that my Words impart,
Grave on the Living Tablet of thy Heart;
And all the wholesome Precepts that I give,
Observe with strictest Reverence, and live.
Let all thy Homage be to Wisdom paid,
Seek her Protection and implore her Aid;
That she may keep thy Soul from Harm secure,
And turn thy Footsteps from the Harlot's Door,
Who with curs'd Charms lures the Unwary in,
And sooths with Flattery their Souls to Sin.
Once from my Window as I cast mine Eye
On those that pass'd in giddy Numbers by,
A Youth among the foolish Youths I spy'd,
Who took not sacred Wisdom for his Guide.
Just as the Sun withdrew his cooler Light,
And Evening soft led on the Shades of Night,
He stole in covert Twilight to his Fate,
And passd the Corner near the Harlot's Gate
When, lo, a Woman comes!--
Loose her Attire, and such her glaring Dress,
As aptly did the Harlot's Mind express:
Subtle she is, and practisd in the Arts,
By which the Wanton conquer heedless Hearts:
Stubborn and loud she is; she hates her Home,
Varying her Place and Form; she loves to roam;
Now she's within, now in the Street does stray;
Now at each Corner stands, and waits her Prey.
The Youth she seiz'd; and laying now aside
All Modesty, the Female's justest Pride,
She said, with an Embrace, Here at my House
Peace-offerings are, this Day I paid my Vows.
I therefore came abroad to meet my Dear,
And, Lo, in Happy Hour I find thee here.
My Chamber I've adornd, and o'er my Bed
Are cov'rings of the richest Tap'stry spread,
With Linnen it is deck'd from Egypt brought,
And Carvings by the Curious Artist wrought,
It wants no Glad Perfume Arabia yields
In all her Citron Groves, and spicy Fields;
Here all her store of richest Odours meets,
Ill lay thee in a Wilderness of Sweets.
Whatever to the Sense can grateful be
I have collected there--I want but Thee.
My Husband's gone a Journey far away, }
Much Gold he took abroad, and long will stay, }
He nam'd for his return a distant Day. }
Upon her Tongue did such smooth Mischief dwell,
And from her Lips such welcome Flatt'ry fell,
Th' unguarded Youth, in Silken Fetters ty'd,
Resign'd his Reason, and with Ease comply'd.
Thus does the Ox to his own Slaughter go,
And thus is senseless of th' impending Blow.
Thus flies the simple Bird into the Snare,
That skilful Fowlers for his Life prepare.
But let my Sons attend, Attend may they
Whom Youthful Vigour may to Sin betray;
Let them false Charmers fly, and guard their Hearts
Against the wily Wanton's pleasing Arts,
With Care direct their Steps, nor turn astray,
To tread the Paths of her deceitful Way;
Lest they too late of Her fell Power complain,
And fall, where many mightier have been Slain.


* * * * *

No. 411. Saturday, June 21, 1712. Addison.

'Avia Pieridum peragro loca, nullius ante
Trita solo; juvat integros accedere fonteis;
Atque haurire:--'


Our Sight is the most perfect and most delightful of all our Senses. It
fills the Mind with the largest Variety of Ideas, converses with its
Objects at the greatest Distance, and continues the longest in Action
without being tired or satiated with its proper Enjoyments. The Sense of
Feeling can indeed give us a Notion of Extension, Shape, and all other
Ideas that enter at the Eye, except Colours; but at the same time it is
very much streightned and confined in its Operations, to the number,
bulk, and distance of its particular Objects. Our Sight seems designed
to supply all these Defects, and may be considered as a more delicate
and diffusive kind of Touch, that spreads it self over an infinite
Multitude of Bodies, comprehends the largest Figures, and brings into
our reach some of the most remote Parts of the Universe.

It is this Sense which furnishes the Imagination with its Ideas; so that
by the Pleasures of the Imagination or Fancy (which I shall use
promiscuously) I here mean such as arise from visible Objects, either
when we have them actually in our View, or when we call up their Ideas
in our Minds by Paintings, Statues, Descriptions, or any the like
Occasion. We cannot indeed have a single Image in the Fancy that did not
make its first Entrance through the Sight; but we have the Power of
retaining, altering and compounding those Images, which we have once
received, into all the varieties of Picture and Vision that are most
agreeable to the Imagination; for by this Faculty a Man in a Dungeon is
capable of entertaining himself with Scenes and Landskips more beautiful
than any that can be found in the whole Compass of Nature.

There are few Words in the English Language which are employed in a more
loose and uncircumscribed Sense than those of the Fancy and the
Imagination. I therefore thought it necessary to fix and determine the
Notion of these two Words, as I intend to make use of them in the Thread
of my following Speculations, that the Reader may conceive rightly what
is the Subject which I proceed upon. I must therefore desire him to
remember, that by the Pleasures of the Imagination, I mean only such
Pleasures as arise originally from Sight, and that I divide these
Pleasures into two Kinds: My Design being first of all to Discourse of
those Primary Pleasures of the Imagination, which entirely proceed from
such Objects as are [before our [1]] Eye[s]; and in the next place to
speak of those Secondary Pleasures of the Imagination which flow from
the Ideas of visible Objects, when the Objects are not actually before
the Eye, but are called up into our Memories, or formed into agreeable
Visions of Things that are either Absent or Fictitious.

The Pleasures of the Imagination, taken in the full Extent, are not so
gross as those of Sense, nor so refined as those of the Understanding.
The last are, indeed, more preferable, because they are founded on some
new Knowledge or Improvement in the Mind of Man; yet it must be confest,
that those of the Imagination are as great and as transporting as the
other. A beautiful Prospect delights the Soul, as much as a
Demonstration; and a Description in Homer has charmed more Readers than
a Chapter in Aristotle. Besides, the Pleasures of the Imagination have
this Advantage, above those of the Understanding, that they are more
obvious, and more easie to be acquired. It is but opening the Eye, and
the Scene enters. The Colours paint themselves on the Fancy, with very
little Attention of Thought or Application of Mind in the Beholder. We
are struck, we know not how, with the Symmetry of any thing we see, and
immediately assent to the Beauty of an Object, without enquiring into
the particular Causes and Occasions of it.

A Man of a Polite Imagination is let into a great many Pleasures, that
the Vulgar are not capable of receiving. He can converse with a Picture,
and find an agreeable Companion in a Statue. He meets with a secret
Refreshment in a Description, and often feels a greater Satisfaction in
the Prospect of Fields and Meadows, than another does in the Possession.
It gives him, indeed, a kind of Property in every thing he sees, and
makes the most rude uncultivated Parts of Nature administer to his
Pleasures: So that he looks upon the World, as it were in another Light,
and discovers in it a Multitude of Charms, that conceal themselves from
the generality of Mankind.

There are, indeed, but very few who know how to be idle and innocent, or
have a Relish of any Pleasures that are not Criminal; every Diversion
they take is at the Expence of some one Virtue or another, and their
very first Step out of Business is into Vice or Folly. A Man should
endeavour, therefore, to make the Sphere of his innocent Pleasures as
wide as possible, that he may retire into them with Safety, and find in
them such a Satisfaction as a wise Man would not blush to take. Of this
Nature are those of the Imagination, which do not require such a Bent of
Thought as is necessary to our more serious Employments, nor, at the
same time, suffer the Mind to sink into that Negligence and Remissness,
which are apt to accompany our more sensual Delights, but, like a gentle
Exercise to the Faculties, awaken them from Sloth and Idleness, without
putting them upon any Labour or Difficulty.

We might here add, that the Pleasures of the Fancy are more conducive to
Health, than those of the Understanding, which are worked out by Dint of
Thinking, and attended with too violent a Labour of the Brain.
Delightful Scenes, whether in Nature, Painting, or Poetry, have a kindly
Influence on the Body, as well as the Mind, and not only serve to clear
and brighten the Imagination, but are able to disperse Grief and
Melancholy, and to set the Animal Spirits in pleasing and agreeable
Motions. For this Reason Sir Francis Bacon, in his Essay upon Health,
has not thought it improper to prescribe to his Reader a Poem or a
Prospect, where he particularly dissuades him from knotty and subtile
Disquisitions, and advises him to pursue Studies that fill the Mind with
splendid and illustrious Objects, as Histories, Fables, and
Contemplations of Nature.

I have in this Paper, by way of Introduction, settled the Notion of
those Pleasures of the Imagination which are the Subject of my present
Undertaking, and endeavoured, by several Considerations, to recommend to
my Reader the Pursuit of those Pleasures. I shall, in my next Paper,
examine the several Sources from whence these Pleasures are derived. [2]


[Footnote 1: [present to the]]

[Footnote 2: From a MS. Note-book of Addison's, met with in 1858, Mr. J.
Dykes Campbell printed at Glasgow, in 1864, 250 copies of some portions
of the first draught of these papers on Imagination with the Essay on
Jealousy (No. 176) and that on Fame (No. 255). The MS. was an old calf
bound 8vo volume obtained from a dealer. There were about 31 pages
written on one side of each leaf in a beautiful print-like hand, which
contained the Essays in their first state. Passages were added by
Addison in his ordinary handwriting upon the blank pages opposite to
this carefully-written text, and there are pieces in a third
hand-writing which neither the keeper of the MSS. Department of the
British Museum nor the Librarian of the Bodleian could identify. The
insertions in this third hand form part of the paper as finally
published. Thus in the paper on Jealousy (No. 171) it wrote the English
verse translation added to the quotation from Horace's Ode I. xiii. The
MS. shows with how much care Addison revised and corrected the first
draught of his papers, especially where, as in the series of eleven upon
Imagination here commenced, he meant to put out all his strength. In
Blair's Rhetoric four Lectures (20-23) are given to a critical
Examination of the Style of Mr. Addison in Nos. 411, 412, 413, and 414
of the Spectator. Akenside's poem on the Pleasures of the Imagination,
published in 1744, when he was 23 years old, was suggested by these
papers. Many disquisitions upon Taste were written towards the close of
the last century. They formed a new province in literature, of which
Addison here appears as the founder and first lawgiver.]

* * * * *

No. 412. Monday, June 23, 1712. Addison.

'--Divisum sic breve fiet Opus.'


I shall first consider those Pleasures of the Imagination, which arise
from the actual View and Survey of outward Objects: And these, I think,
all proceed from the Sight of what is Great, Uncommon, or Beautiful.
There may, indeed, be something so terrible or offensive, that the
Horror or Loathsomeness of an Object may over-bear the Pleasure which
results from its Greatness, Novelty, or Beauty; but still there will be
such a Mixture of Delight in the very Disgust it gives us, as any of
these three Qualifications are most conspicuous and prevailing.

By Greatness, I do not only mean the Bulk of any single Object, but the
Largeness of a whole View, considered as one entire Piece. Such are the
Prospects of an open Champain Country, a vast uncultivated Desart, of
huge Heaps of Mountains, high Rocks and Precipices, or a wide Expanse of
Waters, where we are not struck with the Novelty or Beauty of the Sight,
but with that rude kind of Magnificence which appears in many of these
stupendous Works of Nature. Our Imagination loves to be filled with an
Object, or to grasp at any thing that is too big for its Capacity. We
are flung into a pleasing Astonishment at such unbounded Views, and feel
a delightful Stillness and Amazement in the Soul at the Apprehension[s]
of them. The Mind of Man naturally hates every thing that looks like a
Restraint upon it, and is apt to fancy it self under a sort of
Confinement, when the Sight is pent up in a narrow Compass, and shortned
on every side by the Neighbourhood of Walls or Mountains. On the
contrary, a spacious Horizon is an Image of Liberty, where the Eye has
Room to range abroad, to expatiate at large on the Immensity of its
Views, and to lose it self amidst the Variety of Objects that offer
themselves to its Observation. Such wide and undetermined Prospects are
as pleasing to the Fancy, as the Speculations of Eternity or Infinitude
are to the Understanding. But if there be a Beauty or Uncommonness
joined with this Grandeur, as in a troubled Ocean, a Heaven adorned with
Stars and Meteors, or a spacious Landskip cut out into Rivers, Woods,
Rocks, and Meadows, the Pleasure still grows upon us, as it rises from
more than a single Principle.

Every thing that is new or uncommon raises a Pleasure in the
Imagination, because it fills the Soul with an agreeable Surprize,
gratifies its Curiosity, and gives it an Idea of which it was not before
possest. We are indeed so often conversant with one Set of Objects, and
tired out with so many repeated Shows of the same Things, that whatever
is new or uncommon contributes a little to vary human Life, and to
divert our Minds, for a while, with the Strangeness of its Appearance:
It serves us for a kind of Refreshment, and takes off from that Satiety
we are apt to complain of in our usual and ordinary Entertainments. It
is this that bestows Charms on a Monster, and makes even the
Imperfections of Nature [please [1]] us. It is this that recommends
Variety, where the Mind is every Instant called off to something new,
and the Attention not suffered to dwell too long, and waste it self on
any particular Object. It is this, likewise, that improves what is great
or beautiful, and make it afford the Mind a double Entertainment.
Groves, Fields, and Meadows, are at any Season of the Year pleasant to
look upon, but never so much as in the Opening of the Spring, when they
are all new and fresh, with their first Gloss upon them, and not yet too
much accustomed and familiar to the Eye. For this Reason there is
nothing that more enlivens a Prospect than Rivers, Jetteaus, or Falls of
Water, where the Scene is perpetually shifting, and entertaining the
Sight every Moment with something that is new. We are quickly tired with
looking upon Hills and Vallies, where every thing continues fixed and
settled in the same Place and Posture, but find our Thoughts a little
agitated and relieved at the Sight of such Objects as are ever in
Motion, and sliding away from beneath the Eye of the Beholder.

But there is nothing that makes its Way more directly to the Soul than
Beauty, which immediately diffuses a secret Satisfaction and Complacency
through the Imagination, and gives a Finishing to any thing that is
Great or Uncommon. The very first Discovery of it strikes the Mind with
an inward Joy, and spreads a Chearfulness and Delight through all its
Faculties. There is not perhaps any real Beauty or Deformity more in one
Piece of Matter than another, because we might have been so made, that
whatsoever now appears loathsome to us, might have shewn it self
agreeable; but we find by Experience, that there are several
Modifications of Matter which the Mind, without any previous
Consideration, pronounces at first sight Beautiful or Deformed. Thus we
see that every different Species of sensible Creatures has its different
Notions of Beauty, and that each of them is most affected with the
Beauties of its own Kind. This is no where more remarkable than in Birds
of the same Shape and Proportion, where we often see the Male determined
in his Courtship by the single Grain or Tincture of a Feather, and never
discovering any Charms but in the Colour of its Species.

Scit thalamo servare fidem, sanctasque veretur
Connubii leges, non illum in pectore candor
Sollicitat niveus; neque pravum accendit amorem
Splendida Lanugo, vel honesta in vertice crista,
Purpureusve nitor pennarum; ast agmina late
Foeminea explorat cautus, maculasque requirit
Cognatas, paribusque interlita corpora guttis:
Ni faceret, pictis sylvam circum undique monstris
Confusam aspiceres vulgo, partusque biformes,
Et genus ambiguum, et Veneris monumenta nefandae.
Hinc merula in nigro se oblectat nigra marito,
Hinc socium lasciva petit Philomela canorum,
Agnoscitque pares sonitus, hinc Noctua tetram
Canitiem alarum, et glaucos miratur ocellos.
Nempe sibi semper constat, crescitque quotannis
Lucida progenies, castos confessa parentes;
Dum virides inter saltus lucosque sonoros
Vere novo exultat, plumasque decora Juventus
Explicat ad solem, patriisque coloribus ardet. [2]

There is a second Kind of Beauty that we find in the several Products of
Art and Nature, which does not work in the Imagination with that Warmth
and Violence as the Beauty that appears in our proper Species, but is
apt however to raise in us a secret Delight, and a kind of Fondness for
the Places or Objects in which we discover it. This consists either in
the Gaiety or Variety of Colours, in the Symmetry and Proportion of
Parts, in the Arrangement and Disposition of Bodies, or in a just
Mixture and Concurrence of all together. Among these several Kinds of
Beauty the Eye takes most Delight in Colours. We no where meet with a
more glorious or pleasing Show in Nature than what appears in the
Heavens at the rising and setting of the Sun, which is wholly made up of
those different Stains of Light that shew themselves in Clouds of a
different Situation. For this Reason we find the Poets, who are always
addressing themselves to the Imagination, borrowing more of their
Epithets from Colours than from any other Topic. As the Fancy delights
in every thing that is Great, Strange, or Beautiful, and is still more
pleased the more it finds of these Perfections in the same Object, so is
it capable of receiving a new Satisfaction by the Assistance of another
Sense. Thus any continued Sound, as the Musick of Birds, or a Fall of
Water, awakens every moment the Mind of the Beholder, and makes him more
attentive to the several Beauties of the Place that lye before him. Thus
if there arises a Fragrancy of Smells or Perfumes, they heighten the
Pleasures of the Imagination, and make even the Colours and Verdure of
the Landskip appear more agreeable; for the Ideas of both Senses
recommend each other, and are pleasanter together than when they enter
the Mind separately: As the different Colours of a Picture, when they
are well disposed, set off one another, and receive an additional Beauty
from the Advantage of their Situation.


[Footnote 1: [to please]]

[Footnote 2: Addison's MS. described in the note to No. 411 shows, by
corrections in his handwriting of four or five lines in this piece of
Latin verse, that he was himself its author. Thus in the last line he
had begun with Scintillat solitis, altered that to Ostentat solitas,
struck out that also, and written, as above, Explicat ad solem.]

* * * * *

No. 413. Tuesday, June 24, 1712. Addison.

'--Causa latet, vis est notissima--'


Though in Yesterday's Paper we considered how every thing that is Great,
New, or Beautiful, is apt to affect the Imagination with Pleasure, we
must own that it is impossible for us to assign the necessary Cause of
this Pleasure, because we know neither the Nature of an Idea, nor the
Substance of a Human Soul, which might help us to discover the
Conformity or Disagreeableness of the one to the other; and therefore,
for want of such a Light, all that we can do in Speculations of this
kind is to reflect on those Operations of the Soul that are most
agreeable, and to range under their proper Heads, what is pleasing or
displeasing to the Mind, without being able to trace out the several
necessary and efficient Causes from whence the Pleasure or Displeasure

Final Causes lye more bare and open to our Observation, as there are
often a great Variety that belong to the same Effect; and these, tho'
they are not altogether so satisfactory, are generally more useful than
the other, as they give us greater Occasion of admiring the Goodness and
Wisdom of the first Contriver.

One of the Final Causes of our Delight, in any thing that is great, may
be this. The Supreme Author of our Being has so formed the Soul of Man,
that nothing but himself can be its last, adequate, and proper
Happiness. Because, therefore, a great Part of our Happiness must arise
from the Contemplation of his Being, that he might give our Souls a just
Relish of such a Contemplation, he has made them naturally delight in
the Apprehension of what is Great or Unlimited. Our Admiration, which is
a very pleasing Motion of the Mind, immediately rises at the
Consideration of any Object that takes up a great deal of Room in the
Fancy, and by Consequence, will improve into the highest Pitch of
Astonishment and Devotion when we contemplate his Nature, that is
neither circumscribed by Time nor Place, nor to be comprehended by the
largest Capacity of a Created Being.

He has annexed a secret Pleasure to the Idea of any thing that is new or
uncommon, that he might encourage us in the Pursuit after Knowledge, and
engage us to search into the Wonders of his Creation; for every new Idea
brings such a Pleasure along with it, as rewards any Pains we have taken
in its Acquisition, and consequently serves as a Motive to put us upon
fresh Discoveries.

He has made every thing that is beautiful in our own Species pleasant,
that all Creatures might be tempted to multiply their Kind, and fill the
World with Inhabitants; for 'tis very remarkable that where-ever Nature
is crost in the Production of a Monster (the Result of any unnatural
Mixture) the Breed is incapable of propagating its Likeness, and of
founding a new Order of Creatures; so that unless all Animals were
allured by the Beauty of their own Species, Generation would be at an
End, and the Earth unpeopled.

In the last Place, he has made every thing that is beautiful in all
other Objects pleasant, or rather has made so many Objects appear
beautiful, that he might render the whole Creation more gay and
delightful. He has given almost every thing about us the Power of
raising an agreeable Idea in the Imagination: So that it is impossible
for us to behold his Works with Coldness or Indifference, and to survey
so many Beauties without a secret Satisfaction and Complacency. Things
would make but a poor Appearance to the Eye, if we saw them only in
their proper Figures and Motions: And what Reason can we assign for
their exciting in us many of those Ideas which are different from any
thing that exists in the Objects themselves, (for such are Light and
Colours) were it not to add Supernumerary Ornaments to the Universe, and
make it more agreeable to the Imagination? We are every where
entertained with pleasing Shows and Apparitions, we discover Imaginary
Glories in the Heavens, and in the Earth, and see some of this Visionary
Beauty poured out upon the whole Creation; but what a rough unsightly
Sketch of Nature should we be entertained with, did all her Colouring
disappear, and the several Distinctions of Light and Shade vanish? In
short, our Souls are at present delightfully lost and bewildered in a
pleasing Delusion, and we walk about like the enchanted Hero of a
Romance, who sees beautiful Castles, Woods and Meadows; and at the same
time hears the warbling of Birds, and the purling of Streams; but upon
the finishing of some secret Spell, the fantastick Scene breaks up, and
the disconsolate Knight finds himself on a barren Heath, or in a
solitary Desart. It is not improbable that something like this may be
the State of the Soul after its first Separation, in respect of the
Images it will receive from Matter; tho indeed the Ideas of Colours are
so pleasing and beautiful in the Imagination, that it is possible the
Soul will not be deprived of them, but perhaps find them excited by some
other Occasional Cause, as they are at present by the different
Impressions of the subtle Matter on the Organ of Sight.

I have here supposed that my Reader is acquainted with that great Modern
Discovery, which is at present universally acknowledged by all the
Enquirers into Natural Philosophy: Namely, that Light and Colours, as
apprehended by the Imagination, are only Ideas in the Mind, and not
Qualities that have any Existence in Matter. As this is a Truth which
has been proved incontestably by many Modern Philosophers, and is indeed
one of the finest Speculations in that Science, if the English Reader
would see the Notion explained at large, he may find it in the Eighth
Chapter of the second Book of Mr. Lock's Essay on Human Understanding.


[To Addison's short paper there was added in number 413 of the Spectator
the following letter, which was not included in the reprint into volumes:

June 24, 1712.


I would not divert the Course of your Discourses, when you seem bent
upon obliging the World with a train of Thinking, which, rightly
attended to, may render the Life of every Man who reads it, more easy
and happy for the future. The Pleasures of the Imagination are what
bewilder Life, when Reason and Judgment do not interpose; It is
therefore a worthy Action in you to look carefully into the Powers of
Fancy, that other Men, from the Knowledge of them, may improve their
Joys and allay their Griefs, by a just use of that Faculty: I say,
Sir, I would not interrupt you in the progress of this Discourse; but
if you will do me the Favour of inserting this Letter in your next
Paper, you will do some Service to the Public, though not in so noble
a way of Obliging, as that of improving their Minds. Allow me, Sir, to
acquaint you with a Design (of which I am partly Author), though it
tends to no greater a Good than that of getting Money. I should not
hope for the Favour of a Philosopher in this Matter, if it were not
attempted under all the Restrictions which you Sages put upon private

The first Purpose which every good Man is to propose to himself, is
the Service of his Prince and Country; after that is done, he cannot
add to himself, but he must also be beneficial to them. This Scheme of
Gain is not only consistent with that End, but has its very Being in
Subordination to it; for no Man can be a Gainer here but at the same
time he himself, or some other, must succeed in their Dealings with
the Government. It is called the Multiplication Table, and is so far
calculated for the immediate Service of Her Majesty, that the same
Person who is fortunate in the Lottery of the State, may receive yet
further Advantage in this Table. And I am sure nothing can be more
pleasing to Her gracious Temper than to find out additional Methods of
increasing their good Fortune who adventure anything in Her Service,
or laying Occasions for others to become capable of serving their
Country who are at present in too low Circumstances to exert
themselves. The manner of executing the Design is, by giving out
Receipts for half Guineas received, which shall entitle the fortunate
Bearer to certain Sums in the Table, as is set forth at large in the
Proposals Printed the 23rd instant. There is another Circumstance in
this Design, which gives me hopes of your Favour to it, and that is
what Tully advises, to wit, that the Benefit is made as diffusive as
possible. Every one that has half a Guinea is put into a possibility,
from that small Sum, to raise himself an easy Fortune; when these
little parcels of Wealth are, as it were, thus thrown back again into
the Redonation of Providence, we are to expect that some who live
under Hardship or Obscurity, may be produced to the World in the
Figure they deserve by this means. I doubt not but this last Argument
will have Force with you, and I cannot add another to it, but what
your Severity will, I fear, very little regard; which is, that
I am, SIR, Your greatest Admirer,
Richard Steele.

* * * * *

No. 414. Wednesday, June 25, 1712. Addison.

--Alterius sic
Altera poscit opem res et conjurat amice.


If we consider the Works of Nature and Art, as they are qualified to
entertain the Imagination, we shall find the last very defective, in
Comparison of the former; for though they may sometimes appear as
Beautiful or Strange, they can have nothing in them of that Vastness and
Immensity, which afford so great an Entertainment to the Mind of the
Beholder. The one may be as Polite and Delicate as the other, but can
never shew her self so August and Magnificent in the Design. There is
something more bold and masterly in the rough careless Strokes of
Nature, than in the nice Touches and Embellishments of Art. The Beauties
of the most stately Garden or Palace lie in a narrow Compass, the
Imagination immediately runs them over, and requires something else to
gratifie her; but, in the wide Fields of Nature, the Sight wanders up
and down without Confinement, and is fed with an infinite variety of
Images, without any certain Stint or Number. For this Reason we always
find the Poet in Love with a Country-Life, where Nature appears in the
greatest Perfection, and furnishes out all those Scenes that are most
apt to delight the Imagination.

'Scriptorum chorus omnis amat nemus et fugit Urbes.'


'Hic Secura quies, et nescia fallere vita,
Dives opum variarum; hic latis otia fundis,
Speluncae, vivique lacus, hic frigida Tempe,
Mugitusque boum, mollesque sub arbore somni.'


But tho' there are several of these wild Scenes, that are more
delightful than any artificial Shows; yet we find the Works of Nature
still more pleasant, the more they resemble those of Art: For in this
case our Pleasure rises from a double Principle; from the Agreeableness
of the Objects to the Eye, and from their Similitude to other Objects:
We are pleased as well with comparing their Beauties, as with surveying
them, and can represent them to our Minds, either as Copies or
Originals. Hence it is that we take Delight in a Prospect which is well
laid out, and diversified with Fields and Meadows, Woods and Rivers; in
those accidental Landskips of Trees, Clouds and Cities, that are
sometimes found in the Veins of Marble; in the curious Fret-work of
Rocks and Grottos; and, in a Word, in any thing that hath such a Variety
or Regularity as may seem the Effect of Design, in what we call the
Works of Chance.

If the Products of Nature rise in Value, according as they more or less
resemble those of Art, we may be sure that artificial Works receive a
greater Advantage from their Resemblance of such as are natural; because
here the Similitude is not only pleasant, but the Pattern more perfect.
The prettiest Landskip I ever saw, was one drawn on the Walls of a dark
Room, which stood opposite on one side to a navigable River, and on the
other to a Park. The Experiment is very common in Opticks. Here you
might discover the Waves and Fluctuations of the Water in strong and
proper Colours, with the Picture of a Ship entering at one end, and
sailing by Degrees through the whole Piece. On another there appeared
the Green Shadows of Trees, waving to and fro with the Wind, and Herds
of Deer among them in Miniature, leaping about upon the Wall. I must
confess, the Novelty of such a Sight may be one occasion of its
Pleasantness to the Imagination, but certainly the chief Reason is its
near Resemblance to Nature, as it does not only, like other Pictures,
give the Colour and Figure, but the Motion of the Things it represents.

We have before observed, that there is generally in Nature something
more Grand and August, than what we meet with in the Curiosities of Art.
When therefore, we see this imitated in any measure, it gives us a
nobler and more exalted kind of Pleasure than what we receive from the
nicer and more accurate Productions of Art. On this Account our English
Gardens are not so entertaining to the Fancy as those in France and
Italy, where we see a large Extent of Ground covered over with an
agreeable mixture of Garden and Forest, which represent every where an
artificial Rudeness, much more charming than that Neatness and Elegancy
which we meet with in those of our own Country. It might, indeed, be of
ill Consequence to the Publick, as well as unprofitable to private
Persons, to alienate so much Ground from Pasturage, and the Plow, in
many Parts of a Country that is so well peopled, and cultivated to a far
greater Advantage. But why may not a whole Estate be thrown into a kind
of Garden by frequent Plantations, that may turn as much to the Profit,
as the Pleasure of the Owner? A Marsh overgrown with Willows, or a
Mountain shaded with Oaks, are not only more beautiful, but more
beneficial, than when they lie bare and unadorned. Fields of Corn make a
pleasant Prospect, and if the Walks were a little taken care of that lie
between them, if the natural Embroidery of the Meadows were helpt and
improved by some small Additions of Art, and the several Rows of Hedges
set off by Trees and Flowers, that the Soil was capable of receiving, a
Man might make a pretty Landskip of his own Possessions.

Writers who have given us an Account of China, tell us the Inhabitants
of that Country laugh at the Plantations of our Europeans, which are
laid out by the Rule and Line; because, they say, any one may place
Trees in equal Rows and uniform Figures. They chuse rather to shew a
Genius in Works of this Nature, and therefore always conceal the Art by
which they direct themselves. They have a Word, it seems, in their
Language, by which they express the particular Beauty of a Plantation
that thus strikes the Imagination at first Sight, without discovering
what it is that has so agreeable an Effect. Our British Gardeners, on
the contrary, instead of humouring Nature, love to deviate from it as
much as possible. Our Trees rise in Cones, Globes, and Pyramids. We see
the Marks of the Scissars upon every Plant and Bush. I do not know
whether I am singular in my Opinion, but, for my own part, I would
rather look upon a Tree in all its Luxuriancy and Diffusion of Boughs
and Branches, than when it is thus cut and trimmed into a Mathematical
Figure; and cannot but fancy that an Orchard in Flower looks infinitely
more delightful, than all the little Labyrinths of the [more [1]]
finished Parterre. But as our great Modellers of Gardens have their
Magazines of Plants to dispose of, it is very natural for them to tear
up all the beautiful Plantations of Fruit Trees, and contrive a Plan
that may most turn to their own Profit, in taking off their Evergreens,
and the like Moveable Plants, with which their Shops are plentifully


[Footnote 1: [most]]

* * * * *

No. 415. Thursday, June 26, 1712. Addison.

'Adde tot egregias urbes, operumque laborem.'


Having already shewn how the Fancy is affected by the Works of Nature,
and afterwards considered in general both the Works of Nature and of
Art, how they mutually assist and compleat each other, in forming such
Scenes and Prospects as are most apt to delight the Mind of the
Beholder, I shall in this Paper throw together some Reflections on that
Particular Art, which has a more immediate Tendency, than any other, to
produce those Primary Pleasures of the Imagination, which have hitherto
been the Subject of this Discourse. The Art I mean is that of
Architecture, which I shall consider only with regard to the Light in
which the foregoing Speculations have placed it, without entring into
those Rules and Maxims which the great Masters of Architecture have laid
down, and explained at large in numberless Treatises upon that Subject.

Greatness, in the Works of Architecture, may be considered as relating
to the Bulk and Body of the Structure, or to the Manner in which it is
built. As for the first, we find the Ancients, especially among the
Eastern Nations of the World, infinitely superior to the Moderns.

Not to mention the Tower of Babel, of which an old Author says, there
were the Foundations to be seen in his time, which looked like a
spacious Mountain; what could be more noble than the Walls of Babylon,
its hanging Gardens, and its Temple to Jupiter Belus, that rose a Mile
high by Eight several Stories, each Story a Furlong in Height, and on
the Top of which was the Babylonian Observatory; I might here, likewise,
take Notice of the huge Rock that was cut into the Figure of Semiramis,
with the smaller Rocks that lay by it in the Shape of Tributary Kings;
the prodigious Basin, or artificial Lake, which took in the whole
Euphrates, till such time as a new Canal was formed for its Reception,
with the several Trenches through which that River was conveyed. I know
there are persons who look upon some of these Wonders of Art as
Fabulous, but I cannot find any [Grand [1]] for such a Suspicion, unless
it be that we have no such Works among us at present. There were indeed
many greater Advantages for Building in those Times, and in that Part of
the World, than have been met with ever since. The Earth was extremely
fruitful, Men lived generally on Pasturage, which requires a much
smaller number of Hands than Agriculture: There were few Trades to
employ the busie Part of Mankind, and fewer Arts and Sciences to give
Work to Men of Speculative Tempers; and what is more than all the rest,
the Prince was absolute; so that when he went to War, he put himself at
the Head of a whole People: As we find Semiramis leading her [three [2]]
Millions to the Field, and yet over-powered by the Number of her
Enemies. 'Tis no wonder, therefore, when she was at Peace, and turned
her Thoughts on Building, that she could accomplish so great Works, with
such a prodigious Multitude of Labourers: Besides that, in her Climate,
there was small Interruption of Frosts and Winters, which make the
Northern Workmen lie half the Year Idle. I might mention too, among the
Benefits of the Climate, what Historians say of the Earth, that it
sweated out a Bitumen or natural kind of Mortar, which is doubtless the
same with that mentioned in Holy Writ, as contributing to the Structure
of Babel. Slime they used instead of Mortar.

In Egypt we still see their Pyramids, which answer to the Descriptions
that have been made of them; and I question not but a traveller might
find out some Remains of the Labyrinth that covered a whole Province,
and had a hundred Temples disposed among its several Quarters and

The Wall of China is one of these Eastern Pieces of Magnificence, which
makes a Figure even in the Map of the World, altho an Account of it
would have been thought Fabulous, were not the Wall it self still

We are obliged to Devotion for the noblest Buildings that have adornd
the several Countries of the World. It is this which has set Men at work
on Temples and Publick Places of Worship, not only that they might, by
the Magnificence of the Building, invite the Deity to reside within it,
but that such stupendous Works might, at the same time, open the Mind to
vast Conceptions, and fit it to converse with the Divinity of the Place.
For every thing that is Majestick imprints an Awfulness and Reverence on
the Mind of the Beholder, and strikes in with the Natural Greatness of
the Soul.

In the Second place we are to consider Greatness of Manner in
Architecture, which has such Force upon the Imagination, that a small
Building, where it appears, shall give the Mind nobler Ideas than one of
twenty times the Bulk, where the Manner is ordinary or little. Thus,
perhaps, a Man would have been more astonished with the Majestick Air
that appeared in one of [Lysippus's [3]] Statues of Alexander, tho' no
bigger than the Life, than he might have been with Mount Athos, had it
been cut into the Figure of the Hero, according to the Proposal of
Phidias, [4] with a River in one Hand, and a City in the other.

Let any one reflect on the Disposition of Mind he finds in himself, at
his first Entrance into the Pantheon at Rome, and how his Imagination is
filled with something Great and Amazing; and, at the same time, consider
how little, in proportion, he is affected with the Inside of a Gothick
Cathedral, tho' it be five times larger than the other; which can arise
from nothing else, but the Greatness of the Manner in the one, and the
Meanness in the other.

I have seen an Observation upon this Subject in a French Author, which
very much pleased me. It is in Monsieur Freart's Parallel of the Ancient
and Modern Architecture. I shall give it the Reader with the same Terms
of Art which he has made use of. I am observing (says he) a thing which,
in my Opinion, is very curious, whence it proceeds, that in the same
Quantity of Superficies, the one Manner seems great and magnificent, and
the other poor and trifling; the Reason is fine and uncommon. I say
then, that to introduce into Architecture this Grandeur of Manner, we
ought so to proceed, that the Division of the Principal Members of the
Order may consist but of few Parts, that they be all great and of a bold
and ample Relievo, and Swelling; and that the Eye, beholding nothing
little and mean, the Imagination may be more vigorously touched and
affected with the Work that stands before it. For example; In a Cornice,
if the Gola or Cynatium of the Corona, the Coping, the Modillions or
Dentelli, make a noble Show by their graceful Projections, if we see
none of that ordinary Confusion which is the Result of those little
Cavities, Quarter Rounds of the Astragal and I know not how many other
intermingled Particulars, which produce no Effect in great and massy
Works, and which very unprofitably take up place to the Prejudice of the
Principal Member, it is most certain that this Manner will appear Solemn
and Great; as on the contrary, that it will have but a poor and mean
Effect, where there is a Redundancy of those smaller Ornaments, which
divide and scatter the Angles of the Sight into such a Multitude of
Rays, so pressed together that the whole will appear but a Confusion.

Among all the Figures in Architecture, there are none that have a
greater Air than the Concave and the Convex, and we find in all the
Ancient and Modern Architecture, as well in the remote Parts of China,
as in Countries nearer home, that round Pillars and Vaulted Roofs make a
great Part of those Buildings which are designed for Pomp and
Magnificence. The Reason I take to be, because in these Figures we
generally see more of the Body, than in those of other Kinds. There are,
indeed, Figures of Bodies, where the Eye may take in two Thirds of the
Surface; but as in such Bodies the Sight must split upon several Angles,
it does not take in one uniform Idea, but several Ideas of the same
kind. Look upon the Outside of a Dome, your Eye half surrounds it; look
up into the Inside, and at one Glance you have all the Prospect of it;
the entire Concavity falls into your Eye at once, the Sight being as the
Center that collects and gathers into it the Lines of the whole
Circumference: In a Square Pillar, the Sight often takes in but a fourth
Part of the Surface: and in a Square Concave, must move up and down to
the different Sides, before it is Master of all the inward Surface. For
this Reason, the Fancy is infinitely more struck with the View of the
open Air, and Skies, that passes through an Arch, than what comes
through a Square, or any other Figure. The Figure of the Rainbow does
not contribute less to its Magnificence, than the Colours to its Beauty,
as it is very poetically described by the Son of Sirach: Look upon the
Rainbow and praise him that made it; very beautiful it is in its
Brightness; it encompasses the Heavens with a glorious Circle, and the
Hands of the [most High [5]] have bended it.

Having thus spoken of that Greatness which affects the Mind in
Architecture, I might next shew the Pleasure that arises in the
Imagination from what appears new and beautiful in this Art; but as
every Beholder has naturally a greater Taste of these two Perfections in
every Building which offers it self to his View, than of that which I
have hitherto considered, I shall not trouble my Reader with any
Reflections upon it. It is sufficient for my present Purpose, to
observe, that there is nothing in this whole Art which pleases the
Imagination, but as it is Great, Uncommon, or Beautiful.


[Footnote 1: Grounds]

[Footnote 2: two]

[Footnote 3: Protogenes's]

[Footnote 4: Dinocrates.]

[Footnote 5: [Almighty]]

* * * * *

No. 416. Friday, June 27, 1712. Addison.

'Quatenus hoc simile est oculis, quod mente videmus.'


I at first divided the Pleasures of the Imagination, into such as arise
from Objects that are actually before our Eyes, or that once entered in
at our Eyes, and are afterwards called up into the Mind either barely by
its own Operations, or on occasion of something without us, as Statues,
or Descriptions. We have already considered the first Division, and
shall therefore enter on the other, which for Distinction sake, I have
called the Secondary Pleasures of the Imagination. When I say the Ideas
we receive from Statues, Descriptions, or such like Occasions, are the
same that were once actually in our View, it must not be understood that
we had once see the very Place, Action, or Person which are carved or
described. It is sufficient, that we have seen Places, Persons, or
Actions, in general, which bear a Resemblance, or at least some remote
Analogy with what we find represented. Since it is in the Power of the
Imagination, when it is once Stocked with particular Ideas, to enlarge,
compound, and vary them at her own Pleasure.

Among the different Kinds of Representation, Statuary is the most
natural, and shews us something likest the Object that is represented.
To make use of a common Instance, let one who is born Blind take an
Image in his Hands, and trace out with his Fingers the different Furrows
and Impressions of the Chissel, and he will easily conceive how the
Shape of a Man, or Beast, may be represented by it; but should he draw
his Hand over a Picture, where all is smooth and uniform, he would never
be able to imagine how the several Prominencies and Depressions of a
human Body could be shewn on a plain Piece of Canvas, that has in it no
Unevenness or Irregularity. Description runs yet further from the Things
it represents than Painting; for a Picture bears a real Resemblance to
its Original, which Letters and Syllables are wholly void of. Colours
speak of Languages, but Words are understood only by such a People or
Nation. For this Reason, tho' Men's Necessities quickly put them on
finding out Speech, Writing is probably of a later invention than
Painting; particularly we are told, that in America when the Spaniards
first arrived there Expresses were sent to the Emperor of Mexico in
Paint, and the News of his Country delineated by the Strokes of a
Pencil, which was a more natural Way than that of Writing, tho' at the
same time much more imperfect, because it is impossible to draw the
little Connexions of Speech, or to give the Picture of a Conjunction or
an Adverb. It would be yet more strange, to represent visible Objects by
Sounds that have no Ideas annexed to them, and to make something like
Description in Musick. Yet it is certain, there may be confused,
imperfect Notions of this Nature raised in the Imagination by an
Artificial Composition of Notes; and we find that great Masters in the
Art are able, sometimes, to set their Hearers in the Heat and Hurry of a
Battel, to overcast their Minds with melancholy Scenes and Apprehensions
of Deaths and Funerals, or to lull them into pleasing Dreams of Groves
and Elisiums.

In all these Instances, this Secondary Pleasure of the Imagination
proceeds from that Action of the Mind, which compares the Ideas arising
from the Original Objects, with the Ideas we receive from the Statue,
Picture, Description, or Sound that represents them. It is impossible
for us to give the necessary Reason, why this Operation of the Mind is
attended with so much Pleasure, as I have before observed on the same
Occasion; but we find a great Variety of Entertainments derived from
this single Principle: For it is this that not only gives us a Relish of
Statuary, Painting and Description, but makes us delight in all the
Actions and Arts of Mimickry. It is this that makes the several kinds of
Wit Pleasant, which consists, as I have formerly shewn, in the Affinity
of Ideas: And we may add, it is this also that raises the little
Satisfaction we sometimes find in the different Sorts of false Wit;
whether it consists in the Affinity of Letters, as in Anagram,
Acrostick; or of Syllables, as in Doggerel Rhimes, Ecchos; or of Words,
as in Punns, Quibbles; or of a whole Sentence or Poem, to Wings, and
Altars. The final Cause, probably, of annexing Pleasure to this
Operation of the Mind, was to quicken and encourage us in our Searches
after Truth, since the distinguishing one thing from another, and the
right discerning betwixt our Ideas, depends wholly upon our comparing
them together, and observing the Congruity or Disagreement that appears
among the several Works of Nature.

But I shall here confine my self to those Pleasures of the Imagination,
[which [1]] proceed from Ideas raised by Words, because most of the
Observations that agree with Descriptions, are equally Applicable to
Painting and Statuary.

Words, when well chosen, have so great a Force in them, that a
Description often gives us more lively Ideas than the Sight of Things
themselves. The Reader finds a Scene drawn in stronger Colours, and
painted more to the Life in his Imagination, by the help of Words, than
by an actual Survey of the Scene which they describe. In this case the
Poet seems to get the better of Nature; he takes, indeed, the Landskip
after her, but gives it more vigorous Touches, heightens its Beauty, and
so enlivens the whole Piece, that the Images which flow from the Objects
themselves appear weak and faint, in Comparison of those that come from
the Expressions. The Reason, probably, may be, because in the Survey of
any Object we have only so much of it painted on the Imagination, as
comes in at the Eye; but in its Description, the Poet gives us as free a
View of it as he pleases, and discovers to us several Parts, that either
we did not attend to, or that lay out of our Sight when we first beheld
it. As we look on any Object, our Idea of it is, perhaps, made up of two
or three simple Ideas; but when the Poet represents it, he may either
give us a more complex Idea of it, or only raise in us such Ideas as are
most apt to affect the Imagination.

It may be here worth our while to Examine how it comes to pass that
several Readers, who are all acquainted with the same Language, and know
the Meaning of the Words they read, should nevertheless have a different
Relish of the same Descriptions. We find one transported with a Passage,
which another runs over with Coldness and Indifference, or finding the
Representation extreamly natural, where another can perceive nothing of
Likeness and Conformity. This different Taste must proceed, either from
the Perfection of Imagination in one more than in another, or from the
different Ideas that several Readers affix to the same Words. For, to
have a true Relish, and form a right Judgment of a Description, a Man
should be born with a good Imagination, and must have well weighed the
Force and Energy that lye in the several Words of a Language, so as to
be able to distinguish which are most significant and expressive of
their proper Ideas, and what additional Strength and Beauty they are
capable of receiving from Conjunction with others. The Fancy must be
warm to retain the Print of those Images it hath received from outward
Objects and the Judgment discerning, to know what Expressions are most
proper to cloath and adorn them to the best Advantage. A Man who is
deficient in either of these Respects, tho' he may receive the general
Notion of a Description, can never see distinctly all its particular
Beauties: As a Person, with a weak Sight, may have the confused Prospect
of a Place that lies before him, without entering into its several
Parts, or discerning the variety of its Colours in their full Glory and


[Footnote 1: [that]]

Book of the day: