There is something consciously radical, therefore, about Joseph Addison's series of eleven papers on the subject, which ran from June 21 to July 3, 1712 in The Spectator (nos. 411—21). Addison is so keen on the "pleasures of the imagination" that his essays begin to sound like an advertisement for them. He begins by identifying sight as "the most perfect and most delightful of all our Senses," in that it "fills the Mind with the largest Variety of Ideas." Sight stores up in us a private treasury of images, which it is the business of the imagination to recall, recombine, and represent, essentially for private pleasure. Imagination is thus the very mark of the discerning consumer and his class: "A Man of a Polite Imagination, is let into a great many Pleasures that the Vulgar are not capable of receiving . . . It gives him, indeed, a kind of Property in every thing he sees, and makes the most rude and uncultivated Parts of Nature administer to his Pleasures." As "a gentle Exercise to the Faculties," Imagination keeps the mind alert without study and provides an innocent, victimless pleasure (no. 411, in Addison 1965: vol. 3, 535, 538, 539).

Addison envisages two kinds of imagination: that which processes images of the visible world, and that which recreates them. The first kind is most impressed and stimulated by greatness, novelty, and beauty, since these stretch the mind's capacity. "Our Imagination loves to be filled with an Object, or to graspe at any thing that is too big for its Capacity" (no. 412, in Addison 1965: vol. 3, 540). Addison is sure that the associated pleasures are holy: greatness reminds us to admire God; newness answers our curiosity about the wonders of creation; beauty stimulates our delight in creation. God has endowed the world with aspects it does not strictly need in order that we may derive pleasure from the mere perception of them, a "pleasing Delusion" that comes as a free gift from a benevolent deity (no. 413, in Addison 1965: vol. 3, 546).

Since "it is in the Power of the Imagination, when it is once Stocked with particular Ideas, to enlarge, compound, and vary them at her own Pleasure," the "Secondary"

pleasures of the imagination are stimulated by recollection of scenes and objects, the power of comparing artistic representations with the physical world. Poetry has a special role here: "As we look on any Object, our Idea of it is, perhaps, made up of two or three simple Ideas; but when the Poet represents it, he may either give us a more complex Idea of it, or only raise in us such Ideas as are most apt to affect the Imagination" (no. 416, in Addison 1965: vol. 3, 558-9, 561). Poets can control the process of perception in a way that nature cannot. It is thus crucial that poets are themselves endowed with powerful imaginations, and that they keep their professional skills up:

[A] noble Writer should be born with this Faculty in its full Strength and Vigour, so as to be able to receive lively Ideas from outward Objects, to retain them long, and to range them together, upon occasion, in such Figures and Representations as are most likely to hit the Fancy of the Reader. A Poet should take as much Pains in forming his Imagination, as a Philosopher in cultivating his Understanding. (no. 417, in Addison 1965: vol. 3, 563)

Towards the end of the series, Addison ventures tentatively onto more problematic ground: "There is a kind of Writing, wherein the Poet quite loses sight of Nature, and entertains his Reader's Imagination with the Characters and Actions of such Persons as have many of them no Existence, but what he bestows on them. Such are Fairies, Witches, Magicians, Demons, and departed Spirits." The "Fairy way of Writing' (Dryden's phrase) is "more difficult than any other that depends on the Poet's Fancy, because he has no Pattern to follow in it, and must work altogether out of his own Invention." It is "impossible for a Poet to succeed in it, who has not a particular Cast of Fancy, and an Imagination naturally fruitful and superstitious." To some extent this brings Addison toward the psychopathology of Burton: "For the English are naturally Fanciful, and very often disposed by that Gloominess and Melancholly of Temper, which is so frequent in our Nation, to many wild Notions and Visions." Almost in spite of himself, Addison responds to this too as pleasure, since the national poet was supereminent in this vein: "Shakespear has incomparably excelled all others. That noble Extravagance of Fancy, which he had in so great Perfection, thoroughly qualified him to touch this weak superstitious Part of his Reader's Imagination; and made him capable of succeeding, where he had nothing to support him besides the Strength of his own Genius." The fairies of A Midsummer Night's Dream sound more spookily real to Addison than they do to Theseus (no. 419, in Addison 1965: vol. 3, 570, 572-3).

In all this there is very little peril. True, Steele breaks into Addison's series at one point to stress that "the Pleasures of the Imagination are what bewilder Life, when Reason and Judgment do not interpose," and he endorses what he sees as Addison's attempt to supply that rational guide (Addison 1965: vol. 3, 547). And in his final paper, Addison does touch on the pains of imagination, especially madness: "There is not a Sight in Nature so mortifying as that of a Distracted Person, when his Imagina tion is troubled, and his whole Soul disordered and confused. Babylon in Ruins is not so melancholly a Spectacle" (no. 421, in Addison 1965: vol. 3, 579). But even this prospect is offset by Addison's concluding focus on what it must be like to be God, and able to stimulate human imagination as you please.

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