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short, which form the distinguishing attributes of Poetical Genius. In the mind of the poet, on the other hand, it happens much less frequently, that imagination is inspired by passion, than passion by imagination; and, in all cases, the specific pleasures of imagination are most completely enjoyed when the passions are at rest. In order, besides, to render these pleasures a solid accession to human happiness, it is necessary that the individual should be able, at will, so to apply the faculty from which they arise, to its appropriate objects, as to find in its exercise an unfailing source of delight, whenever he wishes to enliven the intervals of bodily labour, or of animal indulgence;—a capacity, surely, which is by no means implied in the use of that figurative diction by which savages are said to convey their ideas; and which is utterly irreconcilable with the most authentic accounts we have received of the great fea, tures of their intellectual character. On this occasion we may, with confidence, adopt the beautiful words which one of our poets has, with a more than questionable propriety, applied to a gallant and enlightened people, entitled to a very high rank in the scale of European civilization:

“Unknown to them, when sensual pleasures cloy, “To fill the languid pause with finer joy.” Where particular circumstances, indeed, have given any encouragement, among rude tribes, to the pacific profession of a bard; still more, where an order of bards has formed a part of the political establishment, individuals may be conceived to have occasionally arisen, whose poetical compositions are likely to increase in reputation as the world grows older. Obvious reasons may be assigned, why Imagination should be susceptible of culture, at a period when the intellectual powers which require the aid of experience and observation must necessarily continue in infancy; and the very peculiarities, which, in such circumstances, its productions exhibit, although they would justly be regarded as blemishes in those of a more refined age, may interest the philosopher, and even please the critic, as characteristical of the human mind in the earlier stages of its progress. The same circumstances, too, which influence so powerfully the eloquence of the savage orator, furnish to the bard a language peculiarly adapted to his purpose, and in which the antiquaries of a distant age are to perceive numberless charms of which the author was unconscious. In the compositions of such a poet, even the defects of his taste become, in the judgment of the multitude, proofs of the vigour of his imagination; the powers of genius, where they are irregularly displayed, producing, upon a superficial observer, an imposing but illusory ef. fect in point of magnitude, similar to that of an illproportioned human figure, or of a building which violates the established rules of architecture. No prejudice can be more groundless than this; and yet it seems to be the chief foundation of the common doctrine which considers Imagination and Taste as incompatible with each other, and measures the former by the number and the boldness of its trespasses M ll)

against the latter. My own opinion, I acknowledge, is, that, as the habitual exercise of Imagination is essential to those intellectual experiments of which a genuine and unborrowed Taste is the slow result, so, on the other hand, that it is in the productions of genius, when disciplined by an enlightened Taste, that the noblest efforts of Imagination are to be found. Nor is there any thing in these conclusions at all inconsistent with what I have already asserted, concerning the dormant and inactive state of Imagination in the mind of a savage; or with the account given, in the preceding Essay, of the gradual process by which Taste is formed. To a professional bard, in whatever period of society he may appear, the exercise of his imagination, and, as far as circumstances may allow, the culture of his taste, must mecessarily be the great objects of his study; and, therefore, no inference can be drawn from his attainments and habits to those of the mass of the community to which he belongs. The blind admiration with which his rude essays are commonly received by his contemporaries, and the ideas of inspiration and of prophetic gifts which they are apt to connect with the efforts of his invention, are proofs of this; shewing evidently, that he is then considered as a being, to whose powers nothing analogous exists in the ordinary endowments of human nature. In such a state of manners as ours, when the advantages of education are in some degree imparted to all, the institution of a separate order of bards would be impossible; and we begin even to call in question the old opinion, that poetical genius is more the offspring of nature than of study. The increasing frequency of a certain degree of poetical talent, both among the higher and the lower orders of the community, renders this conclusion not unnatural, in the present times; and the case seems to have been somewhat the same in the Augustan age :

“Scribimus indocti doctique poemata passim.”

If these remarks are well-founded, the diffusion of the Pleasures of Imagination, as well as the diffusion of Knowledge, is to be ranked among the blessings for which we are indebted to the progress of society:-And it is a circumstance extremely worthy of consideration, that the same causes which render Imagination more productive of pleasure, render it less productive of pain than before. Indeed, I am much inclined to doubt, whether, without the controlling guidance of Reason, the pleasures or the pains of Imagination are likely to preponderate. Whatever the result may be in particular instances, it certainly depends, in a great measure, upon accidents unconnected with the general state of manmers. I cannot, therefore, join in the sentiment so pleasingly and fancifully expressed in the following lines of Voltaire ; in which (by the way) a strong resemblance is observable to a passage already quoted from Burke :

“O l'heureux tems que celui de ces fables,
“Des bons démons, des esprits familiers,
* Des farfadets, aux mortels secourables 1
“On £coutait tous ces faits admirables

“Dans son château, près d'un large foyer:
“Le père et l'oncle, et la mère et la fille,
“Et les voisins, et toute la famille,
“Ouvraient l'oreille à Monsieur l'Aumönier,
* Qui leur faisait des contes de sorcier.

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For my own part, I think I can now enjoy these tales of wonder with as lively a relish as the most credulous devotee in the superstitious times which gave them birth. Nor do I value the pleasure which they afford me the less, that my reason teaches me to regard them as vehicles of amusement, not as articles of faith.-But it is not reason alone that operates, in an age like the present, in correcting the credulity of our forefathers. Imagination herself furnishes the most effectual of all remedies against those errors of which she was, in the first instance, the cause ; the versatile activity which she acquires by constant and varied exercise, depriving superstition of the most formidable engine it was able heretofore to employ, for subjugating the infant understanding. In proportion to the number and diversity of the objects to which she turns her attemtion, the dangers are diminished which are apt to arise from her illusions, when they are suffered always to run in the same channel; and in this man

* Contes de Guillaume Vadé.

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