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Love speeches are finely ridiculed in the following passage.

Quoth he, My faith as adamantine,
As chains of destiny, I'll maintain ;
True as Apollo ever spoke,
Or oracle from heart of oak ; ,
And if you'll give my flame but vent,
Now in close hugger mugger pent,
And shine upon me but benignly,
With that one and that other pigsney,
The sun and day shall sooner part,
Than love, or you, shake off my heart ;
The sun that shall no more dispense
His own but your bright influence :
I'll carve your name on barks of trees,
With true love-knots, and flourishes;
That shall infuse eternal spring,
And everlasting flourishing :
Drink ev'ry letter on't in stum,
And make it brisk champaign become.
Where-e'er you tread, your foot shall set
The primrose and the violet ;
All spices, perfumes, and sweet powders,
Shall borrow from your breath their odours ;
Nature her charter shall renew,
And take all lives of things from you ;
The world depend upon your eye,
And when


Only our loves shall still survive,
New worlds and natures to outlive;
And, like to herald's moons, remain
All crescents, without change or wane.

Hudibras, Part II. canto i.

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upon it, die.

Irony turns things into ridicule in a peculiar manner; it consists in laughing at a man under disguise of appearing to praise or speak well of him. Swift affords us many illustrious examples of that species of ridicule. Take the following:

By these methods, in a few weeks, there starts up many a writer, capable of managing the profoundest and most universal subjects. For what though his head be empty, provided his common-place book be full! And if you will bate him but the circumstances of method, and style, and grammar, and invention ; allow him but the common privileges of transcribing from others, and digressing from himself, as often as he shall see occasion ; he will desire no more ingredients towards fitting up a treatise that shall make a very comely figure on a bookseller's shelf, there to be preserved neat and clean, for a long eternity, adorned with the heraldry of its title, fairly inscribed on a label ; never to be thumbed or greased by students, nor bound to everlasting chains of darkness in a library; but when the fulness of time is come, shall happily undergo the trial of purgatory, in order to ascend the sky.*

I cannot but congratulate our age on this peculiar felicity, that though we have indeed made great progress in all other branches of luxury, we are not yet debauched with any high relish in poetry, but are in this one taste less nice than our ancestors.

If the Reverend clergy showed more concern than others, I charitably impute it to their great charge of souls : and what confirmed me in this opinion was, that the degrees of apprehension and terror could be distinguished to be greater or less, according to their ranks and degrees in the church.t

A parody must be distinguished from every species of ridicule: it enlivens a gay subject by imitating some important incident that is serious: it is ludicrous, and

may be risible ; but ridicule is not a necessary ingredient.

* Tale of a Tub, sect. vii.

+ A true and faithful narrative of what passed in London, during the general consternation of all ranks and degrees of mankind.

Take the following examples, the first of which refers to an expression of Moses.

The skilful nymph reviews her force with care :
Let spades be trumps! she said, and trumps they were.

Rape of the Lock, Canto iii. 45. The next is in imitation of Achilles's oath in Homer.

But by this lock, this sacred lock, I swear,
(Which never more shall join its parted hair,
Which never more its honours shall renew,
Clip'd from the lovely head where late it grew,
That while my nostrils draw the vital air,
This hand, which won it, shall forever wear.
He spoke, and speaking, in proud triumph spread
The long.contended honours of her head.

Ibid. Canto, iv. 133.

The following imitates the history of Agamemnon's

sceptre in Homer.

Now meet thy fate, incens'd Belinda cry’d,
And drew a deadly bodkin from her side,
(The same, his ancient personage to deck,
Her great-great-grandsire wore about his neck,
In three seal rings : which after, melted down,
Form’d a vast buckle for his widow's gown :
Her infant grandame's whistle next it grew,
The bells she jingled, and the whistle blew :
Then in a bodkin grac'd her mother's hairs,
Which long she wore and now Belinda wears.)

Ibid. Canto y. 87.

Though ridicule, as observed above, is no necessary ingredient in a parody, yet there is no opposition between them: ridicule may be successfully employed in a parody: and a parody may be emploved to promote ridicule ; witness the following example with respect to the latter, in which the goddess of Dulness is addressed upon the subject of modern education :

Thou gav'st that ripeness, which so soon began,
And ceas'd so soon, he ne'er was boy nor man :
Through school and college, thy kind cloud o'ercast,
Safe and unseen the young Æneas past ;*
Thence bursting glorious, all at once let down,
Stunn’d with his giddy larum half the town.

Dunciad, b. iv. 287.

The interposition of the gods, in the manner of Homer and Virgil, ought to be confined to ludicrous subjects, which are much enlivened by such ́interposition handled in the form of a parody; witness the Cave of Spleen, Rape of the Lock, canto iv. ; the goddess of Discord, Lutrin, canto i. ; and the goddess of Indolence, canto ii.

Those who have a talent for ridicule, which is seldom united with a taste for delicate and refined beauties, are quick-sighted in improprieties; and these they eagerly grasp in order to gratify their favourite propensity. Persons galled are provoked to maintain, that ridicule is improper for grave subjects. Subjects really grave are by no means fit for ridicule: but then it is urged against them, that when it is called in question whether a certain subject be really grave, ridicule is the only means of determining the controversy. Hence a celebrated question, Whether ridicule be or be not a test of truth? I give this question a place here, because it tends to illustrate the nature of Ridicule.

The question stated in accurate terms is, Whether the sense of ridicule be the proper test for distinguishing ridiculous objects, from what are not so. Taking it for granted, that ridicule is not a subject of reasoning, but of sense or taste, * I proceed thus. No person doubts but that our sense of beauty is the true test of what is beautiful; and our sense of grandeur, of what is great or sublime. Is it more doubtful whether our sense of ridicule be the true test of what is ridiculous ? It is not only the true test, but indeed the only test ; for this subject comes not, more than beauty or grandeur, under the province of reason. If any subject by the influence of fashion or custom, have acquired a degree of veneration to which naturally it is not entitled, what are the proper means for wiping off the artificial colouring, and displaying the subject in its true light? A man of true taste sees the subject without disguise: but if he hesitate, let him apply the test of ridicule, which separates it from its artificial connexions, and exposes it naked with all it native improprieties.

* Æn. 1. i. At Venus obscuro, &c.

But it is urged, that the gravest and most serious matters may be set in a ridiculous light. Hardly so: for where an object is neither risible nor improper, it lies not open in any quarter to an attack from ridicule. But sup posing the fact, I foresee not any harmful consequence. By the same sort of reasoning, a talent for wit ought to be condemned, because it may be employed to burlesque a great or lofty subject. Such irregular use made of a talent for wit or ridicule, cannot long impose upon mankind : it cannot stand the test of correct and delicate taste; and truth will at last prevail even with the vulgar. To condemn a talent for ridicule because it may be perverted to wrong purposes, is not a little ridiculous : could one forbear to smile, if a talent for reasoning were condemned because it also may be perverted ? and yet the conclusion in the latter case, would be not less just than in the former: perhaps more just; for no talent is more frequently perverted than that of reason.

* See Chapter X. compared with Chapter vii.

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