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The difficulty is in not bringing together these images in profusion, without any selection. You might employ a whole day in representing, without any toilsome effort, and almost without any attention, a fine old man with a long beard, clothed in ample drapery, and borne in the midst of a cloud resting on chubby, children with beautiful wings attached to their shoulders, or upon an eagle of immense size and grandeur; all the gods and animals surrounding him; golden tripods running to arrive at his council; wheels revolving by their own self-motion, advancing as they revolve; having four faces covered with eyes, ears, tongues, and noses; and between these tripods and wheels an immense multitude of dead resuscitated by the crash of thunder; the celestial spheres dancing and joining in harmonious concert, &c. &c. The lunatic asylum abounds in such imaginations.
We may, on the subject of imagination, distinguish,1. The imagination which disposes the events of a poem, romance, tragedy, or comedy, and which attaches the characters and passions to the different personages. This requires the profoundest judgment and the most exquisite knowledge of the human heart; talents absolutely indispensible; but with which, however, nothing has yet been done but merely laying the foundation of the edifice.
2. The imagination which gives to all these personages the eloquence or diction appropriate to their rank, suitable to their situation. Here is the great art and difficulty; but even after doing this they have not done enough.
3. The imagination in the expression, by which every word paints an image in the mind without astonishing or overwhelming it; as in Virgil :
Æneid, vi. 19.
Georgics, iij. 517.
Pendent circum oscula nati.
Georg. ii. 523.
Æneid, vi. 598, 599.
Georg. iv. 468.
Georg. iv. 496. Virgil is full of these picturesque expressions, with which he enriched the Latin language, and which are so difficult to be translated into our European jargons, the crooked and lame offspring of a well-formed and majestic sire, but which however have some merit of their own, and have done some tolerably good things in their
way. There is an astonishing imagination, even in the science of mathematics. An inventor must begin with painting correctly in his mind the figure, the machine invented by him, and its properties or effects. repeat there was far more imagination in the head of Archimedes than in that of Homer.
As the imagination of a great mathematician must possess extreme precision, so must that of a great poet be exceedingly correct and chaste. He must never present images that are incompatible with each other, incoherent, highly exaggerated, or unsuitable to the nature of the subject.
The great fault of some writers who have appeared since the age of Louis XIV. is, attempting a constant display of imagination, and fatiguing the reader by the profuse abundance of far-fetched images and double rhymes, one half of which may be pronounced absolutely useless. It is this which has at length brought into neglect and obscurity a number of small poems, such as Ver Vert, The Chartreuse, and The Shades, which at one period possessed considerable celebrity. Mere sounding superfluity soon finds oblivion. Omne supervacuum pleno de pectore manat.
HORACE, Art of Poetry, 837.
The active and the passive imagination have been distinguished in the Encyclopedia. The active is that of which we have treated. It is the talent of forming new pictures out of all those contained in our memory.
The passive is scarcely anything beyond memory itself, even in a brain under strong emotion. A man of an active and fervent imagination, a preacher of the League in France, or a puritan in England, harangues the populace with a voice of thunder, with an eye of fire, and the gesture of a demoniac, and represents Jesus Christ as demanding justice of the Eternal Father for the new wounds he has received from the royalists, for the nails which have been driven for the second time through his feet and hands by these impious miscreants. Avenge, O God the Father, avenge the blood of God the Son; march under the banner of the Holy Spirit; it was formerly a dove, but is now an eagle bearing thunder! The passive imagnations, roused and stimulated by these images, by the voice, by the action of those sanguinary empirics, urge the maddening hearers to rush with fury from the chapel or meeting-house, to kill their opponents and get themselves hanged.
Persons of passive imaginations, for the sake of high and violent excitement, go sometimes to the sermon and sometimes to the play; sometimes to the place of execution; and sometimes even to what they suppose to be the midnight and appalling meetings of presumed sorcerers.
Who is the impious man? It is he who exhibits the Being of Beings, the great Former of the world, the Eternal Intelligence by whom all nature is governed, with a long white beard, and having hands and feet. He however is pardonable for his impiety; a weak and ignorant creature, the sight or conduct of whom we ought not to allow to provoke or to vex us.
If he should even paint that great and incomprehensible Being as carried on a cloud, which can carry nothing; if he is so stupid as to place God in a mist, in rain, or on a mountain, and to surround him with little round, chubby, painted faces, accompanied by two wings,–I can smile, and pardon him with all my heart.
The impious man, who ascribes to the Being of Beings absurd predictions and absolute iniquities, would certainly provoke me, if that great Being had not bestowed upon me the gift of reason to control my anger. This senseless fanatic repeats to me once more what thousands of others have said before him, that it is not our province to decide what is reasonable and just in the great Being; that his reason is not like our reason, nor his justice like our justice. What then my rather too absurd and zealous friend, would you really wish me to judge of justice and reason by any other notions than I have of them myself? Would you
have me walk otherwise than with my feet, or speak otherwise than with my mouth?
The impious man, who supposes the great Being to be jealous, proud, malignant, and vindictive, is more dangerous. I would not sleep under the same roof with such a man.
But how will you treat the impious man, the daring blasphemer, who says to you-See only with my eyes; do not think yourself; I proclaim to you a tyrant God, - who ordained me to be your tyrant; I am his wellbeloved; he will torment to all eternity millions of his creatures, whom he detests, for the sake of gratifying me; I will be your master in this world, and will laugh at your torments in the next?
Do you not feel a very strong inclination to beat this cruel blasphemer? and, even if you happen to be born with a meek and forgiving spirit, would you not fly with the utmost speed to the west, when this barba-. rian utters his atrocious reveries in the east?
With respect to another and very different class of the impious,—those who, while washing their elbows, neglect to turn their faces towards Aleppo and Erivan, or who do not kneel down in the dirt on seeing a procession of capuchin friars at Perpignan, they are cer
tainly culpable; but I hardly think they ought to be impaled.
So many philosophical works have been written on the nature of impost, that we need say very little about it here. It is true, that nothing is less philosophical than this subject; but it may enter into moral philosophy by representing to a superintendant of finances or to a Turkish Teftardar, that it accords not with universal morals to take his neighbour's money; and that all receivers and custom-house officers and collectors of taxes are cursed in the gospel.
Cursed as they are, it must however be agreed, that it is impossible for a society to subsist unless each member pays something towards the expense of it; and
it is necessary to have a receiver, we do not see why this receiver is to be cursed and regarded as an idolater. There is certainly no idolatry in receiving money of guests to pay for their supper.
În republics, and states which with the name of kingdoms are really republics, every individual is taxed according to his means and the wants of society.
In despotic kingdoms--or to speak more politely--in monarchical states, it is not quite the same—the nation is taxed without consulting it. An agriculturist who has twelve hundred livres of revenue, is quite astonished when four hundred are demanded of him. There are several who are even obliged to pay more than half of what they receive.*
* Let us confess, that if there are some republics which pretend to consult the nation, there is perhaps not a siugle one in which it really is consulted.
Let us avow, that in England, though exempted from all per sonal impost, there is as much disproportion in the taxes, partial exactions, and false charges, as in any monarchy. Finally, let us avow, that it is very possible for the legislative body in a republic to be interested in maintaining a bad system of taxation, whilst a monarch can have no interest in it. Thus, the people of a republic