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established rule of the drama, when it has made way for a much higher beauty than the observation of such a rule would have been. Those who have surveyed the noblest pieces of architecture and statuary, both ancient and modern, know very well that there are frequent deviations from art in the works of the greatest mafters, which have produced a much nobler effect than a more accurate and exact way of proceeding could have done. This often arises from what the Italians call the guflo grande in these arts, which is what we call the sublime in writing.
In the next place, our critics do not seem sensible that there is more beauty in the works of a great genius, who is ignorant of the rules of art, than in those of a little genius who knows and observes them. It is of these men of genius that Terence speaks, in opposition to the little artificial cavillers of his time;
Quorum æmulari exoptat negligentiam Potius quàm istorum obfcuram diligentiam, ? Whose negligence he would rather imitate than these mens obscure diligence.'
A critic may have the same consolation in the ill success of his play as Dr. South tells us a physician has at the death of a patient, that he was killed fecundum artem. Our inimitable Shakspeare is a stumbling-block to the whole tribe of these rigid critics. Who would not rather read one of his plays, where there is not a single rule of the stage observed, than any
production of a modern critic, where there is not one of them violated! Shakspeare was indeed born with all the seeds of poetry, and may be compared to the stone in Pyrrhus’s ring, which, as Pliny tells us, had the figure of Apollo and the nine Muses in the veins of it, produced by the spontaneous hand of nature, without any help from art. *
N° 593. Monday, September 13, 1714.
Quale per incertam lunam fub luce maligna
Virg. Æn. vi. 20.
MATY dreaming correspondent Mr. SHADOW, IV has sent me a second letter, with several curious observations on dreams in general, and the method to render sleep improving: an extract of his letter will not, I presume, be disa. greeable to my readers.
• CINCE we have so little time to spare, in that none of it may be loft, I see no • reason why we should neglect to examine · those imaginaryscenes we are presented with « in sleep, only because they have a less reality it By Addison, on the authority of Mr. Thomas Tickell.
“ in them than our waking meditations. A 6 traveller would bring his judgment in ques« tion, who should despise the directions of 'his map for want of real roads in it, because here
stands a dot instead of a town, or a cypher • instead of a city; and it must be a long day's * journey to travel through two or three inches. • Fancy in dreams gives us much such another
landscape of life as that does of countries; and,
though its appearances may seem strangely • jumbled together, we may often observe luch " traces and footsteps of noble thoughts, as, if s carefully pursued, might lead us into a proper • path of action. There is so much rapture 6 and ecstasy in our fancied bliss, and some6 thing so dismal and shocking in our fancied • misery, that, though the inactivity of the body s has given occasion for calling sleep the image • of death, the brifkness of the fancy affords us • a strong intimation of something within us that can never die. • I have wondered that Alexander the Great, who came into the world sufficiently dreamed s of by his parents, and had himself a tolerable • knack at dreaming, should often say that
Sleep was one thing which made him sensible • he was mortal.' I, who have not such fields
of action in the day-time to divert my atten? tion from this matter, plainly perceive that • in those operations of the mind, while the • body is at rest, there is a certain vastness of • conception very suitable to the capacity, and o demonstrative of the force of that divine part
« in our composition which will last for ever. « Neither do I much doubt but, had we a true • account of the wonders the hero last men• tioned performed in his sleep, his conquering • this little globe would hardly be worth men• tioning. I may affirm, without vanity, that, • when I compare several actions in Quintus • Curtius with some others in my own noctuary, o I appear the greater hero of the two.' · I shall close this subject with observing, that while we are awake we are at liberty to fix our thoughts on what we please, but in sleep we have not the command of them. The ideas which strike the fancy arise in us without our choice, either from the occurrences of the day past, the temper we lie down in, or it may be the direction of some superior being.
It is certain the imagination may be fo differently affected in sleep, that our actions of the day might be either rewarded or punished with a little age of happiness or misery. St. Austin was of opinion that, if in Paradise there was the same viciffitude of sleeping and waking as in the present world, the dreams of its inhabitants would be very happy.
And so far at present are our dreams in our power, that they are generally conformable to our waking throughts, so that it is not impoffible to convey ourselves to a concert of music, the conversation of distant friends, or any other entertainment which has been before lodged in the mind,
My readers, by applying these hints, will find the necessity of making a good day of it, if they heartily wish themselves a good night.
I have often considered Marcia's prayer, and Lucia's account of Cato, in this light.
“ Marc. O ye immortal powers, that guard the just, “ Watch round his couch, and soften his repose, “ Banish his sorrows, and becalın his soul “ With easy dreams; remember all his virtues, “ And Thew mankind that goodness is your care. “ Luc. Sweet are the slumbers of the virtuous
66 man! " ( Marcia, I have seen thy godlike father ; “ Some power invisible supports his soul, " And bears it up in all its wonted greatness. " A kind refreshing seep is fallen upon him: " I saw him stretchd at ease, his fancy lost " In pleasing dreams; as I drew near his couch “ He Imild and cry'd, Cæsar, thou canst not hurt me.”
Mr. Shadow acquaints me in a postscript, that he has no manner of title to the vision which succeeded his first letter; but adds, that, as the gentleman who wrote it dreams very sensibly, he Thall be glad to meet him some night or other under the great elm,-tree, by which Virgil has given us a fine metaphorical image of sleep, in order to turn over a few of the leaves together, and oblige the public with an account of the dreams that lie under them. *
* By Mr. John BYROM +: + See No. 586, No, 587, and No. 603, and Notes.