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Walk under his huge legs, and peep about
To find our selves dishonourable graves.
To whom? to thee? what art thou ? have not 1
Shakespeare's Cymbeline. Hyperboles literally are Impossibilities, and therefore can only then be seasonable or productive of Sublimity, when the Circumstances may be stretched beyond their proper size, that they may appear without fail important and great.
3 So in Comedy, &c.] The Author has hitherto treated of Hyperboles as conducive to Sublimity, which has nothing to do with Humour and Mirch, the peculiar Province of Comedy. Here the Incidents must be so over-stretched as to promote Diversion and Laughter. Now what is most absurd and incredible fometimes becomes the keenest joke. But there is judgment even in Writing Absurdities and Incredibilities, otherwise instead of raising the laugh, they sink below it and give the Spleen. Genius and Discretion are requisite to play the fool with Applause.
4 A Lacedemonian letter. ] Demetrius Phalareus has commended one of thefe Letters for its fententious and expressive Conciseness, which has been often quoted to illustrate this Passage. It is very well worth Observation. The Direction is longer than the Letter. N 2
The Lacedemonians to Philip.
“ Dionysius is at Corinth. At the time when this was written, Dionysius, who for his Tyranny had been driven out of Sicily, taught School at Corinth for Bread. So that it was a Hint to Philip, not to proceed, as he had begun, to imitate his Conduct, left he should be reduced to the same neceflitous Condition.
5 Shakespeare has made Richard III. speak a merry Diafyrm upon himself :
I, that am rudely stamp'd, and want loves majesty,
i The fifth and laft source, &c.] The Author in the fifth Division treats of Composition, or such a Structure of the Words and Periods as conduces most to harmony of Sound. This Subject has been handled with the utmost nicety and refinement by the ancient Writers, particularly Dionysius of Halicarnassus and Demetrius Phalareus. The former in his Treatise on the Structure of Words has recounted the different forts of Stile, has divided each into the Periods of which it is composed, has again subdivided those Periods into their different Members, those Members into their Words, those Words into
Syllables, Syllables, and has even anatomized the very Syllables into Letters, and made Observations on the different natures and sounds of the Vowels, Halfvowels, and Mutes. He shews by Instances drawn from Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, &c. with what artful Management those great Authors have sweetened and enobled their Compositions, and made their Sound to echo to the Sense. But a Stile he says may be sweet without any Grandeur, and may be grand without any Sweetness. Thucydides is an Example of the latter, and Xenophon of the former ; but Herodotus has succeeded in both, and written his History in the highest Perfection of Stile.
An English Reader would be surprized to fee with what Exactness they lay down Rules for the Feet, Times, and Measures of Prose as well as of Verse. This was not peculiar to the Greek Writers, since Cicero himself in his rhetorical Works, abounds in Rules of this Natore for the Latin Tongue. The Works of that great Orator could not have lived and received such general Applause, had they not been laboured with the utmost Art; and what is really surprizing, how careful foever his Attention was, to the length of his Syllables, the measure of his Feet, and the modulation of his Words, yet it has not damped the spirit or stiffened the freedom of his Thoughts. Any one of his Performances on a general Survey appears grand and noble; on a closer Inspection every part shews peculiar Symmetry and Grace.
Longinus contents himself here with two or three general Observations, having written two Volumes already on this Subject. The loss of these ļ fancy will raise no great regret in the Mind of an English Reader, who has little Notion of such accuracies in Composition. The free Language we speak will not endure such refined Regulations, for fear of incumbrance and restraint. Harmony indeed it is capable of to a high degree, yet such as flows not from Precept but the genius and judgment of Compofers. A good Ear is worth a thousand Rules ; since with it the Periods will be rounded and sweetned and the Stile exalted, so that Judges shall commend and teach others to admire; and without it, all Endeavours to gain Attention shall be vain and ineffectual, unless where the Grandeur of the Sense will atone for rough and unharmonious Expression.
2 Fine Notes in music, &c.] In this Passage two musical Instruments are mentioned, achós and ribapris but as what is said of them in the Greek will not fuit with the modern Notions of a Pipe and an Harp, I hope I shall not be blamed for dropping those Words, and keeping these Remarks in a general Application to Music.
3 That harmony which nature, &c.] Tanta oblectatio eft in ipfa facultate dicendi, ut nihil hominum aut auribus aut mentibus jucundius percipi possit. Quis enim cantus moderata orationis pronunciatione dulcior inveniri poteft? quod carmen artificiofa verborum con, çlufione aptius. Cicero de oratore. I. 2.
1 As Symmetry in the members, &c.] So Mr. Pope ; In wit, as nature, what affeets our hearts Is not th exactness of peculiar parts;
'Tis not a Lip or Cheek we Beauty call,
Effay on Criticism.
3 Zethus and Amphion tied their Mother-in-law Dirce by the Hair of her Head to a wild Bull, which Image Euripides has represented in this Passage. Langbaine observes that there is a fine Bas-relief on this Subject by Taurisius in the Palace of Farnese at Rome, of which Baptista de Cavalleriis has given us a Print in 1. 3. pi&t. 3. antiq. Statuarum urbis Rome.
There is a much greater Image than this in the Pa-
From their foundations loos’ning to and fro,
when the fallen