Abbildungen der Seite

which any

arts of moral imitation, is (as we have already said) that the objects about which it is employed, possess qualities to the full as distinct from one another as those of physical imitation, and of

intermixture is morally impossible. The principal objects of moral imitation, namely those which are least of all dependent on the senses, must be the affections, the sentiments, the ideas, and those immaterial relations naturally attached to subjects that poetry affects. Now the affinity existing between these objects and the subjects that poetical imitation deals with, imposes a necessity that those subjects should correspond exclusively with some one or other class of ideas, sentiments, passions, &c. Thus it is the necessary co-relation of the nature of the subjects treated by the poet, with the nature of the objects of his imitation, viz. the ideas, sentiments and passions which he has to express, that really establishes the separations between the forms of composition in poetry; the separations existing between the objects to be imitated also considered.

There is, then, a class of sentiments, affections, passions, and ideas, which, by reason of their particular qualities, are appropriated to some one or other class of subjects, and, consequently, to some one or other of the arts of poetry.

Let us now quit for a while this region of abstraction, in order to illustrate this position by an

example. That branch of poetical imitation denominated tragedy has for its principal object, the expression of the two emotions designated by the names terror and pity. The subjects of which the tragic drama treats must therefore of necessity correspond with this class of emotions, and these subjects will consequently possess qualities necessarily as distinct, as are physical qualities from each other. We may easily be convinced of this, by comparing the object of tragic, with that of comic, imitation, which latter consists in the expression of the two emotions mirth and malice,

produced by ridicule and satire. The qualities proper to the object and subjects of this kind of art are. evidently devoid of all connexion with those be longing to the object and the subjects of tragedy.

Such being the case, neither the one nor the other of those two arts can appropriate what nature has not assigned it, and we shall find that in reality no art whatever can do so, without thereby renouncing its very existence.

If there be a certain order of sentiments or passions proper to every kind of art of the mind, as there is of physical properties corresponding separately each to each kind of art of the senses, the existence of the same separations in the order of ideas constituting moral imitation cannot be disputed. That is, that to those ideas are attached qualities differing from or contrary to each

other, whose difference constitutes the elementary principle of division between the forms of composition, or arts, of poetry.

Thus lyric poety is distinguished from all other by its loftiness, and pastoral, by its simplicity, qualities inherent in the subjects they have to do with. Thus too, epic poetry can neither lend to, nor borrow from, another form of composition, the heroic and the marvellous which constitutes its peculiar character.

In whatever way that which constitutes the general model of moral imitation, or of the arts of poetry be analyzed, it will always present a diversity of aspects, similar to that of physical imitation ; it will be seen that no art can include more than one of them, because they are each, by the laws of nature, limited to one alone; hence the conviction will follow, that those laws are founded on the elementary separations of the faculties of the mind, to which every art is bound to address itself separately, and on the qualities of the objects of imitation, which cannot be combined in one and the same image. In fact, as we shall hereafter see, the very unity of the mind incapacitates it from receiving two simultaneous impressions from two imitations at once, that is, at one and the same instant, and from one and the same art, in one and the same work.




Drawn from the principle of unity in the mind, and from the

unity of its action, from which results the principle of imitative unity, and from this again the separations established between all the arts.

The erroneous idea too frequently entertained concerning imitation in the fine arts, the kind, and still more the degree, of resemblance, which it belongs to each of those arts to produce, leads the majority of persons to believe, that the more numerous are the sorts of resemblance comprised by a single art, the more lively will be the pleasure derived from its works. Hence the tendency on all hands to seek to advance the arts beyond the bounds of their own particular domain, and, encroaching on the legitimate province of the neighbouring art, to appropriate more or less some part of the imitative resemblance which by nature is denied them.


[ocr errors]

It may be readily perceived, that there are certain arts, which, either because they have to deal with a part of the common model bordering closely on that of another, or that they employ like instruments, or are in relation with the same organ, or address themselves, and this is more especially the case in the moral world, to some faculties of the mind which approximate through their mutual analogy, it may,


say, be readily perceived, that such arts will, in a more or less direct manner, endeavour to encroach on the territory of others.

I have already remarked that the evidence that gross violations of this kind carry with them, renders them less dangerous (see the preceding chapter) nor is it against such as are there alluded to, which indeed convict themselves, that I here purpose to hold out a warning.

There are certain caricatures of imitation, the vulgar apings of living nature, which, whether produced by means of colour, relief, or motion, are beyond the pale of our theory. The encroachments I would speak of are less open to detection. For instance, though sculpture cannot steal from painting the natural colour of objects, it does, nevertheless, too frequently pretend to dispute with it, those kinds of subjects which owe their true value to the effect of colouring and aërial perspective, and the art of the sculptor has been seen to attempt in stone, the production of skies, distances, and landscapes. In like manner the

« ZurückWeiter »