DIRECTOR   Madhu Holland


" Mimicry," says Lord Chesterfield, " which is the common and favourite amusement of little, low minds, is in the utmost contempt with great ones. It is the lowest and most illiberal of all buffoonery; we should neither practise it, nor applaud it in others *." Yet, in despite of his lordship's authority, mimicry and imitation are and will be practised, and relished and applauded, so long as men continue to receive pleasure from exercising their minds in making comparisons; for this exercise is always pleasing in proportion to the activity of mind, or the How of associated ideas thereby produced—perhaps the true origin indeed of all our mental pleasures. All this may be true so far as it goes—but the pleasure of making comparisons is only a particular instance of the pleasure we have in perceiving similitude in dissimilitude—or sameness combined with variety ; and this is the true principle of the phenomenon under consideration. If we hear a parrot utter an imitation of the words " Pretty Poll," we immediately trace a series of resemblances or differences between the pronunciation of the words by t,he parrot and by a man; and if the bird comes near the sound, we are pleased in tracing the resemblance, while we admire the successfulness of the effort in accomplishing what might be previously supposed a difficult task for a bird—the overcoming of any difficulty having • Letters, vol. ii, always the effect of exciting proportional admiration, from the sympathy of the passive spectator with the active agent, who feels his incapability of executing the same feat in all its particulars. A story is told of Goldsmith, that having gone with Johnson and Burke to see an exhibition of puppets, his vanity was hurt at their praising the agility displayed by the figures, which, with characteristic simplicity, he volunteered to equal, and began accordingly, in good earnest, to skip over the chairs in the room, without reflecting that it was not exactly the agility that had pleased them, and drawn forth their admiration, but the imitation of living actions, producing in their minds a train of comparison between the puppets and the motions of the animals imitated.