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tween the object of comparison and thing compared, the more perfectly the intention is answered. The mind is pleased at difcovering a number of concurring circumstances; and by minutely touching upon similar parts in both objects, the emotion is heightened. This is finely exemplified by that beautiful simile in Virgil, where the lamentation of Orpheus for the loss of his Eurydice is compared to that of a nightingale robbed of its young. The thought itself, though beautiful, is nothing new or uncommon; but the poet's skill and judgment is shewn in particularizing, with a minuteness of description, such circumstances of the compared object as sweetly correspond with the pathetic turn of the original story.
Qualis populea moerens Philomela sub umbra Amiffos queritur foetus, quos durus arator Obfervans nido implumes detraxit: at illa
Flet noctem,ramoquefedens miserabilecarmen Integrat, & moestis late loca questibus implet.
As in some poplar shade the nightingale, With piercing moansdoes her loftyoungbewail, Which the rough hind, observing as they lay Warm in their downy neft, had stol'n away: Butshein mournfulsoundsdoes still complain Sings all the night, tho’all her songs arevain, And still renews her miserable strain.
When comparison is employed as the source of wit, its excellence lies in such opposite qualities, that the more diffimilar the objects are in general circumstances, the more strongly do they promote that effect, which as the definition imports, proceeds from the junktion of things by dif
tant and fanciful relations. Thus in the following simile from Hudibras,
Now like a lobster boil'd, the morn
the total diffimilarity of the objects in every circumstance, except that which brings them forcibly together, raises the highest degree of surprize.
For this reason, contrast joined to com: parison perfects the idea of wit : And as the effect of this is almost always ludicrous, one is apt to consider it as an essential property of wit that the surprize excited should have something comic or mirthful in it. Lord Kaims appears to have fallen into this opinion ; yet if we take our ideas of wit from such instances as have ever been allowed standard examples of perfection, we shall find that this rule cannot
be admitted without the exclusion of the finest thoughts in our most witty writers. Cowley and Waller abound in instances of serious and delicate wit, which to a high degree cause surprize and admiration, but totally unmixed with any thing ludicrous. I might copy almost their whole works, with those of all the amorous and gallant poets in that age for such examples. It would be an unprecedented severity to deny wit to Waller's celebrated allusion to the story of Apollo and Daphne;
Like Phoebus, thus, acquiring unfought praise,
The following instance, (from Mrs. Greville's prayer for indifference) which even nearly approaches to the pathetic, must be allowed to possess real wit.
Nor ease nor peace that heart can know,
That like the needle true, Turns at the touch of joy or woe,
But turning, trembles too.
Even Hudibras, which affords such a profusion of ludicrous wit, contains also fome of the serious kind. Thus, referring to the constancy of an unfavoured lover, there is this delicately witty simile,
True as the dial to the sun
COMPARISON is not the only source from whence wit is derived. The agreeable surprize which characterises it, is produced not only by the unexpected junction of an object with another foreign to it, but from some uncommon turn of a thought, as it were, within itself; where fome unexpected deduction is made from