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“ Ah! Fear, ah! frantic Fear!
And look not madly wild like thee?" How excellently does the poet select in this ode such images as best associate with our ideas of fear, and who would refuse to acknowledge that this picture of fear is highly poetical ? Yet fearful and poetical were never considered as synonymous terms, though they are just as nearly allied to each other as beautiful and poetical. Proceed then, Sir, through the whole catalogue of the passions ; bring forward hope, joy, pity, grief, jealousy, envy, indignation, anger, hatred, love, &c., and you will find them all as nearly allied to poetry as either beauty or sublimity; for the tie by which they are all connected to poetry is the same. And it does not require a moment's consideration to perceive that a greater part of the passions are connected with, and elicited by, the works of art, that is by the productions and creations of our own hands, because our interests are more immediately connected with them, than by the sublimer works of nature. If you merely wanted to prove, that the works of nature were more sublime and beautiful than the works of art, few, I believe, would dispute the question; but to say that they are more poetical, and consequently more characteristic of poetical pre-eminence, is, I trust, sufficiently proved, to discourage you from resuming the defence of it in future. When Gray describes the Eagle,
Sailing with supreme dominion
Through the azure deeps of air, he gives a description eminently poetical. But is it the Eagle itself that is poetical ? certainly not; for if it were, it would be poetical to say, “ the Eagle, however hungry, never feeds on putrid bodies.” If the name of the Eagle be poetical, it must be so wherever it occurs. Neither can we call the image which the poet conveys of the Eagle poetical; for he who never saw or heard of an eagle before he read this description, could form no image of him whatever, except that he would know him to be a bird, from his flying through the air. If I say, “ the Eagle is about forty inches in length; the bill is blue, and the eye yellow; the legs are of a dirty yellow color, and feathered on the toes, the plumage is a mixed brown and rust color ; the tail is clouded with ash color at the base," I enable a person who never saw or heard of an Eagle, to form an image of him in his own mind; but this image is not in the least degree poetical, though it is extremely correct. If then Gray has rendered the Eagle
Through the azure deeps of air poetical, it is not because he has drawn his image from nature; for if he said, “ the Eagle is a bird of prey," the image would be as much from nature as in the former case. The poetry of these two lines must not therefore be traced to a mere abstract, or per se image from nature ; for such an image was never poetical ; but must be sought for alone in the associations which they convey to the mind. The language of poetry is the language of pleasing associations, and the images introduced into it, whether taken from nature or from art, never please by themselves ; or, as you express it, per se, but derive all their poetry, and the pleasures which they impart, from the relation which the poet creates between them, or, in other words, from the manner in which he connects and associates them with each other. These associations, so far from being suggested to the mind by the images considered apart, are not even suggested by the mere act of bringing them together; for if you were to select a thousand of what you would deem the most poetical images in nature, these thousand could be so introduced into verse, that you would instantly acknowledge they had not the remotest claim to the character of poetry, though the images should be so introduced, that nothing absurd or inconsistent could be pointed out in the thought or expression. This, however, could not possibly be effected if the images, as you assume, were poetical in themselves. On the other hand, if the same number of the most unpoetical images which you could draw from the works of art, were brought into verse by a poet of refined taste and genius, he would render them more poetical, or, at least, he would produce a finer poem from these unpoetical materials, than a writer who had no genius for poetry could fabricate out of the most poetical images in nature. I doubt whether Locke or Newton could produce a poem, that is, a poem that could be called poetry, in the strict sense of the expression, out of the most poetical images or materials with which the whole range of nature could supply them. In poetry, therefore, the subject is nothing—the materials are nothing--the images are nothing : all depends on the execution ; all depends on the manner in which the artist brings his images together, and not on the images themselyes.
AUTHOR OF “ ELEMENTS OF A PLAN FOR THE LIQUIDATION OF THE
PUBLIC DEBT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM,” AND OF “FURTHER
T R A D E,
The Reader to whom the practicability of Liquidating the Public
Debt may be the subject of peculiar interest, is referred to the
Universal peace and good-will, would render laws unnecessary for the regulation of trade. If the benevolent principle bore universal and unlimited sway, all regard to partial or particular interest would merge in a comprehensive sense of the interest of the whole.
But the unhappy influence of the malevolent principle narrows human action into a system of caution and guard : the best directed efforts of benevolence are contracted into limit in their application, not by the finite nature of human power only, but by the dictates of prudence and experience.
It is however not the less clear, that all human action not originating in the benevolent principle, is defective ; and in reference to this axiom of universal application, the intercourse of domestic and foreign trade becomes a subject of moral interest, co-extensive with its political importance.
The various productions of nature and of art stimulate industry by the desire of possession, and administer to the wants, the comfort, and the refinement of mankind. The encouragement of labor, and the easy exchange of property, subject to the limitation only which the necessity of human affairs prescribes, are, therefore, principal objects of legislation and government.
The limit which this necessity, duly considered, prescribes to