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Before the curious aim of mimic Art,
Their largest choice ; like spring's unfolded blooms
Exhaling sweetness, that the skilful bee
May taste at will, from their selected spolls
To Work her dulcet food. Thus, at length
Endow'd with all that Nature can bestow,
The child of Fancy oft in silence bends
O'er these mixt treasures of his pregnant breast
With conscious pride. From them he oft resolves
To frame he knows not what excelling things;
And win he knows not what sublime reward
Of praise and wonder. By degrees, the mind
Feels her young nerves dilate : the plastic powers
Labour for action : blind emotions heave
His bosom, and with loveliest frenzy caught,
From Earth to Heaven he rolls his daring eye,
From Heaven to Earth. Anon ten thousand shapes,
Like spectres trooping to the wizard's call,
Flit swift before him. From the womb of Earth,
From Ocean's bed they come; the eternal Heavens
Disclose their splendours, and the dark Abyss
Pours out her births unknown. With fixed gaze
He marks the rising phantoms. Now compares
Their different forms; now blends them, now divides,
Enlarges, and extenuates by turns;
Opposes, ranges in fantastic bands,
And infinitely varies. Hither now,
Now thither fluctuates his inconstant aim,
With endless choice perplexed. At length his plan
Begins to open. Lucid order dawns ;
And as from Chaos old the jarring seeds
Of Nature at the voice divine repaired
Each to its place, till rosy Earth unveild
Her fragrant bosom, and the joyful Sun
Sprung up the blue serene ; by swift degrees
Thus disentangled, his entire design
Emerges. Colours mingle, features join ;
And lines converge : the fainter parts retire ;
The fairer eminent in light advance ;
And every image on its neighbour smiles. .
LESSON 104. 280. 1. Render the following Extract into correct Prose, according to Directions No. 241.
2. Give an Analysis with Remarks on the leading topics and arguments, according to No. 242.
3. Observations on the Figures of Speech, Epithets, and instances of Poetical License, according to No. 242.
281. THE NATURE AND Conduct OF TASTE.
What then is Taste, but these internal powers
Active, and strong, and feelingly alive
To each fine impulse ? a discerning sense
Of decent and sublime, with quick disgust
From things deform’d, or disarrang’d, or gross
In species ? This, nor gems, nor stores of gold,
Nor purple state, nor culture can bestow;
But God alone when first his active hand -
Imprints the secret bias of the soul.
He, mighty parent ! wise and just in all,
Free as the vital breeze or light of Heaven,
Reveals the charms of Nature. — But though Heaven
In every breast hath sown these early seeds
Of love and admiration, yet in vain,
Without fair Culture's kind parental aid,
Without enlivening suns, and genial showers,
And shelter from the blast, in vain we hope
The tender plant should rear its blooming head,
Or yield the harvest promis'd in its spring.
Nor yet will every soil with equal stores
Repay the tiller's labour; or attend
His will, obsequious, whether to produce
The olive or the laurel. Different minds
Incline to different objects : one pursues
The vast alone, the wonderful, the wild;
Another sighs for harmony, and grace,
And gentlest beauty. Hence when lightning fires
The arch of Heaven, and thunders rock the ground,
When furious whirlwinds rend the howling air,
And Ocean, groaning from its lowest bed,
Heaves his tempestuous billows to the sky;
Amid the mighty uproar, while below
The nations tremble, Shakspeare looks abroad
From some high cliff, superior, and enjoys
The elemental war. But Waller longs,
All on the margin of some flowery stream,
To spread his careless limbs amid the cool
Of plantane shades, and to the listening deer
The tale of slighted vows and love's disdain
Resound soft-warbling all the livelong day :
Consenting Zephyr sighs; the weeping rill
Joins in his plaint, melodious ; mute the groves ;
And hill and dale with all their echoes mourn.
Such and so various are the tastes of men.
LESSON 105. 282. Before proceeding to the rules and examples in Descriptive Subjects, it will be advantageous to furnish a brief and familiar exposition of the nature and leading principles of Taste.
283. Taste is that discriminating power or faculty of the mind, by which we determine on the fitness or unfitness of anything intended to excite emotions, either of beauty, of grandeur, or of sublimity. This power is founded on the experience which emotions of beauty, or of grandeur, or sublimity produce ; and he who exercises this power successfully is called a Man of Taste.
284. THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF EMOTIONS.--The emotions excited by objects of beauty, are of a calm, gentle, and agreeable kind, and of much longer continuance than those excited by sublimity or grandeur. The following are instances :
1. When the sun goes down in the West, the surrounding clouds reflect, to our view, a rich variety of colours. We
gaze on the splendid scene, and there is a pleasant emotion excited in our minds.
2. When examining Dr. Paley's reasoning in proof of the existence of the Deity, and observing how every part is brought to bear on the particular object in view, while one example after another gives additional strength to the argu. ment, we admire the skill of the reasoner and the perfection of his work, and in view of this skill and this finished work, a grateful emotion arises in the mind.
285. The emotions excited by objects of grandeur are of a more elevating and ennobling kind, than those excited by objects of beauty. The following are examples :
1. The traveller, when he stands on the banks of some noble river, flowing on with the power of collected waters, and bearing on its bosom the wealth of the surrounding region, is conscious of emotions which, as they rise and swell within him, correspond to the scene on which he looks.
2. The following is Gray's description of the rising sun:“I set out one morning before five o'clock, the moon shining through a dark and misty autumnal air, and got to the seacoast in time to be at the sun's levee. I saw the clouds and dark vapours open gradually to the right and left, rolling over one another in great smoky wreaths, and then slightly tinged with gold and blue, and all at once, a little line of insufferable brightness that, before I can write these five words, is grown to half an orb, and now a whole one, too glorious to be distinctly seen.” This is a representation of a scene in Nature, and the writer, in looking on this scene, felt an emotion of grandeur.
286. The emotions excited by objects of sublimity are less permanent than those of grandeur, but more thrilling and exalting. The following are examples :