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fort, it fell dead-born from the press, but was afterwards revived by its younger brothers.
Burke was still a student in the Temple ; but although no man could be more completely master of law, either in its details or general principles, as a subject of moral and politicial history and science, yet he does not appear to have studied it with very great zeal as a profession. Hume informs us, in bis own Life, that, though professing to study law, he found an insurmountable aversion to every thing but the pursuits of general learning. While they (his friends) fancied I was poring over Voet and Vinnius, Cicero and Virgil were the authors I was secretly devouring.. In the like manner, works of taste, genius, and philosophy, attracted Burke more powerfully than usage, decision, and statute. Homer and Longinus occupied his mind more than Fortescue and Littleton.
Soon after his Vindication of Natural So· ciety, he published an Essay on tle Sublime
and Beautiful,* a work which shewed a genius much beyond that of common critics, and even of highly-approved critics. In considering this essay, we are not to look for a rhetorician enumerating constituents of fine writing, but for a PHILOSOPHER TRACING PHÆNONOMENA AND THEIR CAUSES in physical and moral nature. He not only collects and narrates facts, but investigates prin. ciples; he is not merely an experimental, he is a scientific critic. Longinus possessed more the genius of a poet than the investigating coolness of a philosopher. He illustrates and exemplifies sublimity rather than unfolds its causes. In treating of the Sublime, Longinus includes the pathetic, and even the beautiful. His treatise affords less distinct instruction concerning the sublime in particular, than ideas concerning excellent composition in general.
Sublimity and beauty had, either through inadvertency or ignorance, been frequently
* In 1757
confounded, and mistaken one for the other. This, as the author remarks, must necessarily cause many mistakes in those whose business it is to influence the passions ; since, by being unacquainted with the difference between the sublime and the beautiful, they cannot happily succeed, unless by chance, in either. The design of this work, then, is to lay down such principles as may tend to ascertain and distinguish the sublime and the beautiful in any art, and to form a sort of standard for each.
The author first inquires into the affections of the sublime and beautiful, in their own nature: he then proceeds to investigate the properties of such things in nature as give rise to the affections; and, lastly, he considers in what manner these properties act, to produce those affections, and each correspondent emotion.
It will be generally allowed by readers conversant in such subjects, that the author
displays a mind, both · feelingly alive to each fine impulse,' and able to investigate its own operations, their effects and causes. It unites Longinus and Aristotle. Burke is a philosophical anatomist of the human mind. In respect of taste and its objects, he is what Hutchinson is in respect to the affections, and Locke to the understanding; the first who, by experiment and analysis, 'investigated an important subject in pneumatology. Like those two profound philosophers, his account of phænomena is just and accurate, though some of his theories may be incomplete and fanciful.
Whoever turns his attention to subjects of taste, must see that Burke's enumeration of the qualities which constitute sublimity and beauty is exact. Whoever is acquainted with literary history, must know that an analytical inquiry and scientific discussion of these subjects is new. Mr. Addison, indeed, in his Spectators on the Pleasures of the Imagination, describes, grandeur and beauty in
general; but does not-analyze either, so as to give a clear view of constituents, much less to ascertain principles.
Many readers, who will admit the justness of Burke's account of qualities, may esteem some of his hypotheses incomplete. Whatever (says he) is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain and danger, that is to say, whatever is in any sort terrible, or conversant about terrible objects, or operates in a manner analogous to terror, is a source of the sublime. That terror is a principal source, he very clearly demonstrates, and ingeniously illustrates; but in esteeming terrible objects, and those of analogous operation, the sole constituents of sublimity, he appears, like many men of genius, to be led too far by the love of system.
Like Pythagoras, he, in some cases, errs from the tendency of a great mind to generalization. There are many objects sublime which are not terrible. Magnificence, vastness, force, constituents of sublimity, and