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“ quantity of wrought silver and gold, cups so and goblets, some of which you might *6. see adorned with precious stones, and 6 others embellished with most exquisite art " and costly workmanship? Add to these & innumerable sorts of arms, Grecian and “ Barbarian, beasts of burden beyond com“putation, and cattle fit to form the most " luxurious repasts. And further, how many “ bushels of pickles and preserved fruits ? “ How many hampers, packs of “ books, and all things besides, that neces“sity or convenience could require? In a “ word, there was so great abundance of all “ sorts of flesh ready salted, that when put to“ gether, they swelled to prodigious heights, “and were regarded by persons at a dis“ tance, as so many mountains or hillocks
piled one upon another." He has here sunk from a proper elevation of his sense to a shameful lowness, at that very instant, when his subject required an enlargement. And besides, by his confused mixture of baskets, of pickles, and of packs, in the narrative of so grand preparations, he has shifted the scene, and presented us with a kitchen. If, upon making preparation for any grand expedition, any one should bring and throw
down a parcel of hampers and packs, in the midst of massy goblets adorned with inestimable stones, or of silver embossed, and tents of golden stuffs, what an unseemly spectacle would such a gallimawfry present to the eye! It is the same with description, in which these low terms, unseasonably applied, become so many blemishes and flaws.
Now he might have satisfied himself with giving only a summary account of those mountains (as he says they were thought) of provisions, and when he came to other particulars of the preparations, might have varied his narration thus': “ There was a great mul66 titude of camels and other beasts, laden “ with all sorts of meat requisite either for
satiety or delicacy:" or have termed them,
heaps of all sorts of viands, that would 66 serve as well to form an exquisite repast,
as to gratify the nicest palate ;” or rather, to comply with his humour of relating things exactly, “ all that caterers and cooks could
prepare, as nice and delicate.”
In the Sublime, we ought never to take up with sordid and blemished terms, unless reduced to it by the most urgent necessity. The dignity of our words ought always to be proportioned to the dignity of our sentiments.
Here we should imitate the proceeding of nature in the human fabric, who has neither placed those parts, which it is indecent to mention, nor the vents of the excrements, in open view, but concealed them as much as is possible, and “ removed their channels (to make use of Xenophon's words *) “ to the “ greatest distance from the eyes,” thereby to preserve the beauty of the animal entire and unblemished 3.
To pursue this topie further, by a particular recital of whatever diminishes and impairs the Sublime, would be a needless task. We have already shewn what methods elevate and ennoble, and it is obvious to every one that their opposites must lower and debase it.
SECTION XLIV. SOMETHING yet remains to be said, upon which, because it suits well with your inquisitive disposition, I shall not be averse from enlarging. It is not long since a philosopher
* Xenoph. 'ATÓuvofov, I. 2. p. 45, edit. Oxon.
Quæ partes autem corporis, ad naturæ necessitatem datæ, adspectum essent deformem habituræ ac turpem, eas contexit atque abdidit. --Cicero de Offic. p. 61, 62. Edit. Cockman.
of my acquaintance discoursed me in the following manner:
“ It is said he) to me, as well as to many “ others, a just matter of surprise, how it comes to pass,
that in the age we live, there are many genius's well practised in the arts “ of eloquence and persuasion, that can dis“ course with dexterity and strength, and “ embellish their style in a very graceful “ manner, but none (or so few, that they are “ next to none) who may be said to be truly
great and sublime. The scarcity of such “ writers is general throughout the world. “ May we believe-at last, that there is soli5 dity in that trite observation, That demo
cracy is the nurse of true genius; that “ fine writers will be found only in this sort “ of government, with which they flourish « and triumph, or decline and die? Liberty, “ it is said, produces fine sentiments in men " of genius ; it invigorates their hopes, ex“ cites an honourable emulation, and in
spires an ambition and thirst of excelling. “ And what is more, in free states there are
prizes to be gained, which are worth disputing. So that by this means, the natural
faculties of the orators are sharpened and polished by continual practice, and the
liberty of their thoughts, as it is reasonable “ to expect, shines conspicuously out in the
liberty of their debates.
“ But for our parts (pursued he) we “ were born in subjection, in lawful subjec
'We were born in subjection, &c.—] The words in the original παιδομαθεις δελειας δικαιας are differently in
, terpreted by persons of great learning and sagacity. Madam Dacier has taken occasion to mention them in her notes upon
Terence. Her words are these: “In « the last chapter of Longinus, αιδομαθεις δελεας δικαιας, " signifies not, we are from our infancy used to a lawful “government, but to an easy government, chargeable " with neither tyranny nor violence.” Dr. Pearce is of a quite contrary opinion. 6. The word dinalce, (says he) “ does not signify mild or easy, as some think, but just « and lawful vassalage, when kings and rulers are pos“sessed of a full power and authority over their sub
jects: and we find Isocrates uses apXn dinaice (a de“ spotical government) in this sense.” The Doctor then gives his opinion, that “ Longinus added this word,
well as some which follow, that his affection to the “ Roman emperor might not be suspected."
I have chosen to translate these words in the latter sense, which (with submission to the judgment of so learned a lady) seems preferable to, and more natural than that, which Madam Dacier has given it. The critic (in the person of the philosopher 'who speaks here) is accounting for the scarcity, of sublime writers; and avers democracy to be the nurse of genius, and the greatest encourager of Sublimity. The fact is evident from the republics of Greece and Rome. In