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And hallow'd language. Marvel ye,
I lov'd that dying girl ? One even
As I was wont to gaze, and weave
Was fragrant with her favourite flowers,
Which linger'd yet a few short hours Upon her wasted cheek. Her hand
Was press'd upon her heart, so white In its decaying, you would stand
And doubt if it were not the light Upon her snow-white robe. Decay!
They call thee terrible—but come And breathe thou, even on the gay,
Thy beautiful but feverish bloomIt recks not if it cover death,
Or pain, or suffering—if thou hast But a slight carmine in thy breath,
That thou may'st beautify the waste Thou workest on them-if thou givest
The eye a softer language, chastening The temple at whose shrine thou livest,
While onward to the dark grave hastening, They never will upbraid thee. Well
I'll onward with my tale. The hours Pass'd fleetly as the lover's spell
Will ever make them the small flowers Had closed their leaves in sleep-the air
Blew freshly on the sick one's brow With a sweet influence, for there
The flush of pain came not, staining its spotless
'Tis a hard thing to write. It breaks
My tale of love to her. She prest Her hand upon her brow-just spoke
Of other love than mine, and was at rest.
I strew'd them, when the crowd was gone,
ORIGINALITY of invention or discovery, has often been the theme of idle speculation, and not unfrequently of learned controversy. Many claimants have arisen for the honour of originating every admired production of art, or science, or letters; their pretensions have been the subject of literary discussion, and the popular favourite has in general been recommended to posterity by the loudest acclamations of cotemporary applause. Nor is this anxiety to obtain the reputation of original merit without a rational incentive. Originality in any subject is uncommon, and indicative of a superior mind. The inventive genius who first points out the means of human improvement, or the author who enriches his pages with new treasures of thought, is surely no unworthy candidate for the immortality of fame. To distinguish a merely mercenary aspirant for such distinctions, from those who are actuated by more honourable motives; to discriminate between the really deserving, and those of more doubtful merit, is, from the perishable materials of human history, always difficult, and often impossible. The inquiry, therefore, into the foundations of that originality which is worthy of our praise and reward, would be, if not a useful, at least an interesting speculation.
All effects, of whatever kind, resulting from human research or inventive power, are evidently derived from two sources only; those proceeding from entiRELY NEw ideas, and those which are the combinations of ideas already known. All ideas, according to the metaphysicians, are derived, in the first instance, from sensible objects. Their combinations arise from reflection--hence, the former are the foundations of discovery, and the latter of invention. Discovery may be either accidental, or the result of logical induction. Merely accidental discoveries can, it is plain, entitle the discoverer to no higher distinctions, or more lasting honours, than chance alone can bestow. They are as much within the reach of the irrational and illiterate, as the wise and learned. But when human reason discovers, from things known, the existence of things unknown, its effort and its triumph are great. These are happily exemplified in the discoveries of the philosopher and the astronomer. Soch discoveries exalt the mind, and justly claim VOL. II.
for their discoverer honour and applause. Columbus, by the power of genius, and the force of inductive reasoning, discovered a new world beyond the western waters. Americus Vespucius claimed the earliest discovery, and accidentally connected his name with the American continent: but does the world consider the latter as more than the adventurous marine ? or will Columbus be remembered, while authentic history exists, as other than the enlightened philosopher? The meritorious discoverer is not, therefore, he who first stumbled upon the mine, but he whose philosophic view first recognised its existence.
Original productions, depending on new combinations of known ideas, are numerous and diversified. The various ideas which man receives from sensible objects, admit an almost infinite number of variations. Among these are included all inventions, whether in art, science, or literature. These, however various and boundless, are still susceptible of accurate division and examination. Three prominent classes are easily distinguished, viz. 1. Practical inventions, produced by reason, to benefit or amuse mankind. 2. Theories to elucidate the hidden principles of nature. 3. The fictions of the imagination. Of the first kind are the machines and instruments used by artists, mechanics, and men of science. They are means invented by man to facilitate his labours, or extend his research. Utility is their standard of excellence. They are directed to some useful end, and when successful, confer honour on their inventor. The art of printing, the telescope, and the machines used in the manufacture of cloth, are distinguished examples of practical invention. Fluxions, being practically applied to the operations of mechanical philosophy, belong also to this class. The merit of this invention was long a subject of learned controversy; but whether the author was a native of England, or of Germany, the world are at least undivided in their opinion of his intellectual greatness. The fame of Leibnitz and of Newton is above detraction.
It is to be remembered, that where the original elements are equally open to all, new combinations of them may be simultaneous in many minds; hence one may be a successful candidate for the honours of original invention, and yet not the sole inventor. This seems to have been the case in the application of steam to the art of navigation. It is now well known, that Fulton was not the only American whose genius contributed to this noblest work of the age.
Inventions in the department of the fine arts are practical, but vary from those before considered, in being intended to
please the taste, rather than to serve any purpose of utility. As these are intended to ornament or amuse, a diversity of tastes will always produce a diversity of opinions with regard to their merits. But whatever may be their object, all opinions will agree whether they have succeeded, or grossly failed, in producing their intended effect. Hence, we may infer, generally, that the merits of a practical invention depend upon its capacity to fulfil the purposed design. This capacity is the measure of men's obligations, and of the honour's due to the original inventor. Ingenuity, indeed, is often displayed in the wildest projects. The patent office abounds with models of machines, mostly useless, and often impracticable. These are the abortive fruits of misguided genius. Thousands of such visionary schemes are found, where one Arkwright bas diminished the labours of the manufacturer, or one Galileo extended the views of the astronomer. Theoretical combinations are, in general, merely speculative opinions. Geologists and metaphysicians have, in every era of the world, formed their own peculiar theories of the earth and the mind. These have varied with the various characteristics of the individual, and the various stages of knowledge in the world. Each has found its admirers, and its doctrines have been urged and defended with the most zealous and unwearied perseverance. But of these speculations none probably is, and one only can be, true. Each may be original, each may be ingenious; yet all are little better than idle conjecture, while truth remains, and perhaps for ever will remain, undiscovered.
The inventions of the imagination are more numerous than any other. Its wanderings are only confined within the limits of complex ideas. All the glories of nature-all the beauties of art--all the excellencies of character, with all that can excite sympathy, or affection, or benevolence, furnish materials for the picture it draws, for the structure it erects. The ever active fancy creates, at each moment, new beings, new actions, and new scenery. The mind, desirous of novelty, exerts its inventive powers to gratify its ruling passion, and seeks in an imaginary creation those varied delights which the real one cannot supply; hence comes all the machinery of romance, with the tender and beautiful imagery of poetry; hence, the Elysian field, the waters of Lethe, the Stygian lake, and all the incidents of heathen mythology, so full of classic interest and poetic beauty; hence, also, many of the charms of meditation, and the visions of hope. The poet and the novelist, by the allurements of fictitious song or story, divert the attention, for a brief moment, from cares that perplex, and anxieties that
obtrude upon the wearied mind. And who would destroy such pleasing delusions ? The source of these pleasures is the love of novelty. To gratify this insatiable propensity, the writer of poetry or romance compares and combines the materials with which nature and art supply him in every variety of form, and manner, and incident. Whatever is original in these compositions, can only be some new combinations of ideas already known;
for it is needless to say, that no new ideas can be created by the utmost power of the mind. However wild or strange the world which imagination invents, and the beings who people it, that world and those beings must necessarily be derived from known existence. The elementary ideas are drawn from nature. In combining those ideas, the author is, however, free to range through the wide wilderness of opinions, prejudices, and superstitions, prevalent at different periods, and among different nations of the world. The geography of human nature presents him with all that is strange, or peculiar, or diversified. Its history developes the sources of mental sublimity, or of moral degradation, and exhibits, in the strongest colours, the images of past glory, and the beauties of departed excellence. And while the writer selects his materials, and combines them in every variety of light and shade,
“ Bright ey'd Fancy, hovering o'er,
Scatters from her pictur'd urn
Thoughts that breathe, and words that burn.". The novelist finds subjects for story in the peculiar customs and traditionary records of different nations; he can lay the scene of his narrative in countries not yet emerged from intellectual darkness, or at periods of time, when those who are now polished and cultivated were rude and unenlightened. What we do not believe or respect ourselves, we are willing to hear related of those to whom fame or history has attributed such belief or respect. Why did the mysterious romances of the last century excite so much interest and pleasure? Was it not that the story was generally, related of a people whose minds were yet uncultivated, and whose opinions were still superstitious ? Would not the genii of the Persian tales be tedious beings, when transplanted from the regions of the east, to some soil less fertile in supernatural events? But, as it is, these tales are interesting not only to the rude peasant, whose mind is prepared by ignorance and credulity for the reception of the most marvellous events, but also to the liberal and learned. The comprehensive mind of Montesquieu delighted, in its intervals of relaxation, to tread the wild and adventurous path of