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opinion was, that the degrees of appres "henfion and terror could be distinguished "to be greater or lefs, according to their "ranks and degrees in the church *."

A parody must be diftinguifhéd from every fpecies of ridicule. It enlivens a gay fubject by imitating fome important incident that is ferious. It is ludicrous, and may be rifible. But ridicule is not a neceffary ingredient. Take the following examples, the first of which refers to an expreffion of Mofes.

The skilful nymph reviews her force with care: > Let fpades be trumps! fhe faid, and trumps they


Rape of the Lock, canto iii. 45.

The next is an imitation of Achilles's oath in Homer.

But by this lock, this facred lock, I fwear, (Which never more shall join its parted hair,

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

Which never more its honours fhall renew,
Clip'd from the lovely head where late it grew),
That while my noftrils draw the vital air,
This hand, which won it, fhall for ever 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 fceptre in Homer.

Now meet thy fate, incens'd Belinda cry'd,
And drew a deadly bodkin from her fide,
(The fame, his ancient perfonage to deck,
Her great-great-grandfire wore about his neck,
In three feal 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 v. 87.

Ridicule, as obferved above, is no necef fary ingredient in a parody. But I did not intend to say, that there is any oppofition betwixt them. A parody, no doubt, may be successfully employed to promote ridi


cule; witnefs the following example, in which the goddess of Dullness is addreffed upon the subject of modern education.

Thou gav'ft that ripenefs, which fo foon began, And ceas'd fo foon, he ne'er was boy nor man; Through school and college, thy kind cloud o'ercaft,

Safe and unfeen the young Eneas past *;

Thence bursting glorious, all at once let down, Stunn'd with his giddy larum half the town.

Dunciad, b. iv. 287.

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The interpofition of the gods in the manner of Homer and Virgil, ought to be confined to ludicrous fubjects, which are much enlivened by fuch interpofition handled in the form of a parody; witness the cave of Spleen, Rape of the Lock, canto 4 the goddess of Difcord; Lutrin, canto 1.3 and the goddess of Indolence, canto 2.

Those who have a talent for ridicule, which is feldom united with a tafte for delicate and refined beauties, are quick-fighted in improprieties; and these they eagerly

En. 1. 1. At Venus obfcuro, &c.


lay hold of, in order to gratify their favou→ rite propensity. The perfons galled have no other refuge but to maintain, that ridi cule ought not to be applied to grave fubjects. It is yielded, on the other hand, that fubjects really grave and important, are by no means fit for ridicule: but then it is urged, that ridicule is the only proper teft for discovering whether a subject be really grave, or be made fo artificially by custom and fashion. This difpute has produced a celebrated question, Whether ridicule be or be not a test of truth? I give this question a place here, because it tends to illuftrate the nature of ridicule.

The question ftated in accurate terms is, Whether the sense of ridicule be the proper test for distinguishing ridiculous objects from those that are not fo? To answer this queftion with precifion, I must premise, that ridicule is not a subject of reasoning, but of fenfe or tafte*. This being taken for granted, I proceed thus. No perfon doubts that our fenfe of beauty is the true teft of what

See chap. 10. compared with chap. 7.


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is beautiful, and our fenfe of grandeur, of what is great or fublime. Is it more doubtful whether our sense of ridicule be the true teft of what is ridiculous? It is not only the true teft, but indeed the only teft. For this is a fubject that comes not, more than beauty or grandeur, under the province of reafon. If any fubject, by the influence of fashion or cuftom, have acquired a degree of veneration or esteem to which naturally it is not intitled, what are the proper means for wiping off the artificial colouring, and difplaying the fubject in its true light? Reasoning, as obferved, cannot be applied. And therefore the only means is to judge by tafte. The teft of ridicule which feparates it from its artificial connections, expofes it naked with all its native improprieties.

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But it is urged, that the graveft and most ferious matters may be fet in a ridiculous light. Hardly fo; for where an object is neither rifible nor improper, it lies not open in any quarter to an attack from ridicule. But fuppofing the fact, I foresee not any harmful confequence, By the fame fort of reafoning, a talent for wit ought to be condemned, because it may be employed to burlesque

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