The Anglo-Scottish Critics and
Aestheticians: Imitation and the
If the poet, after all the liberties he is allowed to take with the truth, can produce nothing more exquisite than is commonly to be met with in history, his reader will be disappointed and dissatisfied. Poetical representations must therefore be framed after a pattern of the highest probable perfection that the genius of the work will admit:—external nature must in them be more picturesque than in reality; action more animated; sentiments more expressive of the feelings and character, and more suitable to the circumstances of the speaker; personages better accomplished in those qualities that raise admiration, pity, terror, and other ardent emotions; and events, more compact, more clearly connected with causes and consequences, and unfolded in an order more flattering to the fancy, and more interesting to the passions. But where, it may be said, is this pattern of perfection to be found? Not in real nature; otherwise history, which delineates real nature, would also delineate this pattern of perfection. It is to be found only in the mind of the poet, and it is imagination regulated by knowledge, that enables him to form it.
JAMES BEATTIE, Essay on Poetry and
Music As They Affect the Mind