« ForrigeFortsett »
120. Instinct in Animals Addisok
121. The Subject continued—Wisdom of Pro
122. A Visit with Sir Roger to the Country
123. Education of Country Squires—Story of
124. Use and Difficulties of Periodical Papers ———
125. Mischiefs of Party Spirit
12C. The Subject continued—Sir Roger's Principles
127. Letter on the Hoop-petticoat _____
128. Difference of Temper in the Sexes—Fe
129. Fashions in Dress—how imitated in the
130. Interview of the Spectator and Sir Ro
ger with a Gang of Gypsies
131. Opinions entertained of the Spectator in
the Country—Letter from Will Honey-
Scribendi recti sapere est et prindpitm, etfont.
HOR. An Foci. ver. 309. Sound judgment is the ground of writing well.
JVlR. Locke has an admirable reflection upon the difference of wit and judgment, whereby he endeavours to shew the reason why they are not always the talents of the same person. His words are as follow: 'And hence, perhaps, maybe given some reason of that common observation, "That men who have a great deal of wit, and prompt memories, have not always the clearest judgment, or deepest reason." For wit lying most in the assemblage of ideas, and putting those together with quickness and variety, wherein can be found any resemblance or congruity, thereby to make up pleasant pictures, and agreeable visions in the fancy; judgment, on the contrary, lies quite on the other side, in separating carefully one from another, ideas wherein can be found the least difference, thereby to avoid being misled by similitude, and by affinity Vol. vix. a to take one thing for another. This is a way of proceeding quite contrary to metaphor and allusion; wherein, for the most part, lies that entertainment and pleasantry of wit, which strikes so lively on the fancy, and is therefore so acceptable to all people.'
This is, I think, the best and most philosophical account that I have ever met with of wit, which generally, though not always, consists in such a resemblance and congruity of ideas as this author mentions. I shall only add to it, by way of explanation, that every resemblance of ideas is not that which we call wit, unless it be such an one that gives delight and surprise to the reader. These two properties seem essential to wit, more particularly the last of them. In order therefore that the resemblance in the ideas be wit, it is necessary that the ideas should not lie too near one another in the nature of things; for where the likeness is obvious, it gives no surprise. To compare one man's singing to that of another, or to represent the whiteness of any object by that of milk and snow, or the variety of its colours by those of the rainbow, cannot be called wit, unless besides this obvious resemblance, there be some further congruity discovered in the two ideas, that is capable of giving the reader some surprise. Thus when a poet tells us the bosom of his mistress is as white as snow, there is no wit in the comparison; but when he adds, with a sigh, it is as cold too, it then grows into wit. Every reader's memory may supply him with innumerable instances of the same nature. For this reason, the similitudes in heroic poets, who endeavour rather to fill the mind with great conceptions, than to divert it with such as are new and surprising, have seldom any thing in them that can be called wit. Mr. Locke's account of wit, with this short explanation.