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Even this limitation, however, is not sufficient. Every metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech, implies some unexpected relation presented to the mind; and in many cases, a relation of objects, which were before regarded as having no congruity whatever; and therefore, it may be urged, the figures, in all such cases, should be felt as ludicrous,—not indeed, those similies, of ancient and well accredited usage, which form a part of the constant furniture of epic narrative,-similies, that, comparing heroes and lions, as heroes and lions have often been compared before, give us no new image ; but remind us only that Homer has made the same comparison. These, of course,-since they do not present to us any relation, which we did not know before, as well, as after the tiresome similitude has been again unfolded to us, in its full detail of circumstances,—may be allowed to pass, without our laughter, and without even being counted as an anomaly. But every original simile,-however just the relation may be which it expresses, and

, with whatever beauty of language it may be conveyed to our mind, must present to us an unsuspected resemblance in objects former. ly known to us, and probably familiar. Why then, do we feel po tendency to laugh, in such a case ?

That we do not feel any tendency to laugh in such a case, arises, I think, from this circumstance. It is the art of the poet, in the management of his comparisons, to bring before us only the analogy on which his simile is founded, or at least such circumstances only as harmonize with the sentiment which he wishes to excite, and to keep from us, therefore, every circumstance discordant with it. Accordingly, when he is successful in this respect, the beauty of the similitude itself is all which we feel,-a delight which occupies us sufficiently, to prevent the rise in the mind of any feeling of the opposite qualities of the objects compared, such as I suppose to be necessary to constitute ludicrousness. When, however, the opposition, as may frequently be the case, is too remarkable not to be instantly felt, a certain degree of ludicrousness will as instantly be felt, in spite of all the magnificent language of the poet. Hence, it sometimes happens, that similies, which in one country or age excite no emotion, but that of beauty, may yet, in another age or country, excite an emotion of a very different kind, in consequence of the different sentiments with which, in different times and places, the same objects may be

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viewed. Whatever estimate the Greeks may have more justly formed of the many excellent qualities of the ass, the very name of that animal is with us combined with notions so disparaging, that it has become by this degradation, quite unsuitable to be introduced as a subject of laudatory comparison in a poem, that treats of gods and heroes. To those, indeed, who had the happiness of listening to the great Rhapsodist himself, the comparison might seem sufficiently dignified, as well as just; but I presume, that there are few of our own countrymen, with the exception of those who admire whatever is in the Iliad, because it is in the Iliad, who have not felt some little tendency to smile, on reading the simile, in which Homer compares one of the most undaunted of his warriors, to that ill-used and much-enduring animal, which, by a very common aggravation of injustice, we have first oppressed, and then despised because we have oppressed it.

In this way, accordingly, I conceive, the feeling of beauty, as precluding, in ordinary cases, in which there is no very remarkable opposition of general qualities, the rise in the mind of the circumstances of opposition essential to the feeling of ludicrousness,--may account sufficiently for the absence of any light emotion, when new and unsuspected similitudes are developed to us in a comparison. Mere novelty of relation, is not sufficient of itself to constitute what is termed the ludicrous—that is to say for the ludicrous is only a more general term-does not, of itself, give rise to any of those feelings of light emotion, which we comprehend under that general term. There are similies which are sublime-similies which are beautiful-similies which are ludicrous. A newly perceived relation, therefore, is not always ludicrous in itself, but only certain relations. What then, are these relations, as distinguished from the others, which are felt without any tendency to this gay surprise ?

The relations, which are ludicrous, and which, as ludicrous, in every instance involve some unsuspected resemblance of objects or qualities before regarded as incongruous, or some equally unsuspected diversity, when the resemblance was before supposed to be complete, admit, perhaps, of being referred to three classes --in the first place, to the class of those, in which objects are brought together, that are noble and mean, or the forms of language, commonly employed in treating subjects high and low, are

transferred from one to the other. Such a transfer, as you well know, gives rise in the one case, to the burlesque, in which objects, noble in themselves, are made ridiculous by the meanness of phrases and figures; in the other case, to the mock-heroic, in which, by a contrary process, the mean is rendered ridiculous by the magnificent trappings of rhetoric with which it is invested.

In these instances of artificial combination of the very great, and the very little, there can be no question as to the ludicrousness of the emotion which such piebald dignity excites ; and there are circumstances which occur in nature, exactly of the same kind, and productive, therefore, of the same emotion; the incongruities being not in mere thought and image, but in objects directly perceived. When any well dressed person, walking along the street, falls into the mud of some splashy gutter, the situation and the dirt, when combined with the character and appearance of the unfortunate stumbler, form a sort of natural burlesque, or mock-heroic, in which there is a mixture of the noble and the mean, as much as in any of the works of art, to which those names are given. He who amuses us by his fall, is, in truth, for the moment, an unintentional buffoon, performing for us, unwillingly, what the buffoon, with his stately strut, and his paper crown, and the other trappings of mock royalty, strives to imitale, with less effect, because there is wanting, in him, that additional contrast of the lofty state of mind, with the ridiculous situation, which forms so important a part of the laughable whole in the accidental fall. It is this contrast of the state of mind, with that which we feel that it would be, if the circumstances were know to him, that forms the principal ludicrousness of the situation of any one, who has the misfortune of being in a crowded company, with his coat accidentally torn, or with any other imperfection of dress, that attracts all eyes, perhaps, but his own. In the rude pastimes of the village, in like manner, it is because the swain is

“ Mistrustless of his smutted face,
That secret laughter titters round the place."

A second class of relations, which are ludicrous, are those which derive their ludicrousness, not from the objects themselves, but from the mind of the hearer or reader, which has been previously led to expect something very different from what is presented to it. To take a very trite example of this sort: If the question be asked, what wine do you like best? One person, perhaps, answering Champaigne, another Burgundy, a third, says, the wine which I am not to pay for. We laugh, if we laugh at all, chiefly because we expected a very different answer; and the incongruity which is felt, has relation therefore, to our own state of mind, more than to the question itself. It is this previous anticipation of an answer, with which the answer received by us, partially incongruous, that either forms the principal delight of many of the bon mots of conversation, or at least aids their effect most powerfully; and, by the contrast which it produces, it adds, in a most mortifying manner, to the painful keenness of an unexpected sarcasm. Thus, to take an instance from a story which Dr Arbuthnot tells us, “ Sir William Temple, and the famons Lord Brumpker, being neighbours in the country, had frequently very sharp contentions; like other great men, one could not bear an equal, and the other would not admit of a superior. My Lord was a great admirer of curiosities, and had a very good collection, which Sir William used to undervalue upon all occasions, disparaging everything of his neighbour's, and giving something of his own the preference. This, by no means, pleased his Lordship, who took all opportunities of being revenged. One day, as they were discoursing together of their several rarities, my Lord very seriously and gravely replied to him, Sir William, say no more of the matter, you must at length yield to me, I have lately got something which it is impossible for you to obtain ; for, sir,' said his Lordship smiling, 'my Welch steward has sent me a flock of geese, and those are what you can never have, since all your geese

In this case, there can be no doubt, that the keenness of the sarcasm would be far more severely felt, in consequence of the previous anticipation of an answer of a very

differ ent kind.

The feeling of ludicrousness is the same, when our previous anticipation is disappointed by agreement, where we expected difference, as when it is disappointed by difference, where we erpected agreement. Such is the case in the game of Cross Pur

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are swans.

* Miscellanies, 2d Edit. Vol. 1. p. 113.

poses, where, in a series of questions and answers, the answers are paired with questions to which they were not given. In what are termed the cross readings of newspapers, where, without paying regard to the separation into columns, we read what is in the same line of the page, through the successive columns, as if continuous, there is little agreement of sense to be expected, and we smile accordingly at the strange congruities which such readings may sometimes discover. Many of you are probably acquainted with the ingenious fictions of this sort of coincidence, that appeared originally in the Public Advertiser, with the happily appropriate signature of Papyrus Cursor; and which were well known to be the production of the late Mr C. Whiteford. I quote a few specimens for the sake of those among you who may not be acquainted with them.

" The sword of state was carried
Before Sir John Fielding, and committed to Newgate.

Last night, the princess royal was baptised
Mary, alias Moll Hacket, alias Black Moll.

This morning the Right Honourable the Speaker
Was convicted of keeping a disorderly house.

A certain commoner will be created a peer.

No greater reward will be offered.

Yesterday the new Lord Mayor was sworn in,
Afterwards tossed and gored several persons.

When the honour of knighthood was conferred on him,
To the great joy of that poble family.

A fine turtle, weighing upwards of eighty pounds,
Was carried before the setting alderman.

'Tis said the ministry is to be new modell'd;
The repairs of which will cost the public a large sum annualiy.

This has occasion'd a cabinet council to be held
At Betty's fruit-shop in St James'-street.

One of His Majesty's principal Secretaries of State

Fell off the shafts, being asleep, and the wheels went over him. VOL. II.


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