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SECT. III.-CAUSE OF PAIN AND FEAR.
pose to look for the cause of our passions in association, until we fail of it in the natural properties of things.
To this purpose Mr. Spon, in his Recherches d'Antiquité, gives us a curious story of the cele
brated physiognomist Campanella. This man, it I have before observed,* that whatever is seems, had not only made very accurate observaqualified to cause terrour is a foundation capable tions on human faces, but was very expert in of the sublime; to which I add, that not only mimicking such as were any way remarkable. these, but many things from which we cannot When he had a mind to penetrate into the inclinaprobably apprehend any danger, have a similar tions of those he had to deal with, he composed his effect, because they operate in a similar manner. face, his gesture, and his whole body, as nearly as I observed too, that whatever produces pleasure, he could into the exact similitude of the person he positive and original pleasure, is fit to have beauty intended to examine; and then carefully observed engrafted on it. Therefore, to clear up the what turn of mind he seemed to acquire by this nature of these qualities, it may be necessary to change. So that, says my author, he was able to explain the nature of pain and pleasure on which enter into the dispositions and thoughts of people they depend. A man who suffers under violent as effectually as if he had been changed into the bodily pain, (I suppose the most violent, because very men. I have often observed, that on mithe effect may be the more obvious,) I say a man micking the looks and gestures of angry, or placid, in great pain has his teeth set, his eye-brows are or frighted, or daring men, I have involuntarily violently contracted, his forehead is wrinkled, his found my mind turned to that passion, whose eyes are dragged inwards, and rolled with great appearance I endeavoured to imitate; nay, I am vehemence, his hair stands on end, the voice is convinced it is hard to avoid it, though one strove forced out in short shrieks and groans, and the to separate the passion from its correspondent whole fabrick totters. Fear, or terrour, which is gestures. Our minds and bodies are so closely and an apprehension of pain or death, exhibits exactly intimately connected, that one is incapable of pain the same effects, approaching in violence to those or pleasure without the other. Campanella, of just mentioned, in proportion to the nearness of whom we have been speaking, could so abstract the cause, and the weakness of the subject. This is his attention from any sufferings of his body, that not only so in the human species; but I have more he was able to endure the rack itself without much than once observed in dogs, under an apprehen- pain ; and in lesser pains every body must have sion of punishment, that they have writhed their observed, that, when we can employ our attention bodies, and yelped, and howled, as if they had on any thing else, the pain has been for a time actually felt the blows. From hence I conclude, suspended : on the other hand, if by any means that pain and fear act upon the same parts of the body is indisposed to perform such gestures, or the body, and in the same manner, though some
to be stimulated into such emotions as any passion what differing in degree; that pain and fear consist usually produces in it, that passion itself never can in an unnatural tension of the nerves ; that this is arise, though its cause should be never so strongly sometimes accompanied with an unnatural strength, in action; though it should be merely mental, which sometimes suddenly changes into an extra- and immediately affecting none of the senses. As ordinary weakness; that these effects often come an opiate, or spirituous liquors, shall suspend the on alternately, and are sometimes mixed with each operation of grief, or fear, or anger, in spite of other. This is the nature of all convulsive agita- all our efforts to the contrary; and this by inducing tions, especially in weaker subjects, which are the in the body a disposition contrary to that which most liable to the severest impressions of pain and it receives from these passions. fear. The only difference between pain and terrour is, that things which cause pain operate on SECT. V. -HOW THE SUBLIME IS PRODUCED. the mind by the intervention of the body; whereas things that cause terrour generally affect the Having considered terrour as producing an bodily organs by the operation of the mind unnatural tension and certain violent emotions of suggesting the danger; but not agreeing, either the nerves; it easily follows, from what primarily, or secondarily, in producing a tension, just said, and whatever is fitted to produce such a contraction, or violent emotion of the nerves, i tension must be productive of a passion similar to they agree likewise in every thing else. For it terrour, § and consequently must be a source of the appears very clearly to me, from this, as well as sublime, though it should have no idea of danger from many other examples, that when the body is connected with it. So that little remains towards disposed, by any means whatsoever, to such emo- shewing the cause of the sublime, but to shew that tions as it would acquire by the means of a certain the instances we have given of it in the second passion; it will of itself excite something very like part relate to such things, as are fitted by nature that passion in the mind.
to produce this sort of tension, either by the • Part I. sect. 8.
of the nerves. Either will serve my purpose ; for by tension, I † Part I. sect. 10.
mean no more than the violent pulling of the fibres, which com1 I do not here enter into the question debated among physi- pose any muscle or membrane, in whatever way this is done, ologists, whether pain be the effect of a contraction, or a tension s Part II. scct. 2.
SECT. VII.- EXERCISE NECESSARY FOR THE FINER
SECT. VI.-HOW PAIN CAN
CAUSE OF DE
primary operation of the mind or the body. With parts we have mentioned; to have them in proregard to such things as affect by the associated per order, they must be shaken and worked to a idea of danger, there can be no doubt but that proper degree. they produce terrour, and act by some modification of that passion; and that terrour, when sufficiently violent, raises the emotions of the body just mentioned, can as little be doubted. But if the sublime is built on terrour, or some passion like As common labour, which is a mode of pain, it, which has pain for its object, it is previously is the exercise of the grosser, a mode of terrour is proper to inquire how any species of delight can the exercise of the finer parts of the system ; and be derived from a cause so apparently contrary to if a certain mode of pain be of such a nature as to it. I say delight, because, as I have often re
the eye or the ear, as they are the most marked, it is very evidently different in its cause, delicate organs, the affection approaches more and in its own nature, from actual and positive nearly to that which has a mental cause. In all pleasure.
cases, if the pain and terrour are so modified as not to be actually noxious; if the pain is not carried to violence, and the terrour is not conversant about the present destruction of the person,
as these emotions clear the parts, whether fine or Providence has so ordered it, that a state of gross, of a dangerous and troublesome incumrest and inaction, however it may flatter our in- brance, they are capable of producing delight; dolence, should be productive of many inconve- not pleasure, but a sort of delightful horrour, a niences; that it should generate such disorders, sort of tranquillity tinged with terrour; which, as as may force us to have recourse to some labour, it belongs to self-preservation, is one of the strongas a thing absolutely requisite to make us pass est of all the passions. Its object is the sublime. our lives with tolerable satisfaction ; for the na- Its highest degree I call astonishment; the subture of rest is to suffer all the parts of our bodies ordinate degrees are awe, reverence, and respect, to fall into a relaxation, that not only disables the which, by the very etymology of the words, shew members from performing their functions, but from what source they are derived, and how they takes away the vigorous tone of fibre which is re- stand distinguished from positive pleasure. quisite for carrying on the natural and necessary secretions. At the same time, that in this languid sect. viii.-WHY THINGS NOT DANGEROUS PROinactive state, the nerves are more liable to the most horrid convulsions, than when they are sufficiently braced and strengthened. Melancholy, + A MODE of terrour or pain is always the cause dejection, despair, and often self-murder, is the of the sublime. For terrour, or associated danger, consequence of the gloomy view we take of the foregoing explication is, I believe, sufficient. things in this relaxed state of body. The best It will require something more trouble to shew, remedy for all these evils is exercise or labour ; that such examples as I have given of the sublime and labour is a surmounting of difficulties, an ex- in the second part are capable of producing a ertion of the contracting power of the muscles; mode of pain, and of being thus allied to terrour, and as such resembles pain, which consists in ten- and to be accounted for on the same principles. sion or contraction, in every thing but degree. And first of such objects as are great in their diLabour is not only requisite to preserve the coarser mensions. I speak of visual objects. organs in a state fit for their functions; but it is equally necessary to these finer and more delicate organs, on which, and by which, the imagination and perhaps the other mental powers act. Since it is probable, that not only the inferiour parts of Vision is performed by having a picture, formthe soul, as the passions are called, but the un- ed by the rays of light which are reflected from derstanding itself, makes use of some fine corporeal the object, painted in one piece, instantaneously, instruments in its operation ; though what they on the retina, or last nervous part of the eye. Or, are, and where they are, may be somewhat hard according to others, there is but one point of any to settle : but that it does make use of such, ap- object painted on the eye in such a manner as to pears from hence ; that a long exercise of the be perceived at once; but by moving the eye, we mental powers induces a remarkable lassitude of gather up, with great celerity, the several parts of the whole body; and on the other hand, that the object, so as to form one uniform piece. If great bodily labour, or pain, weakens and some- the former opinion be allowed, it will be considertimes actually destroys the mental faculties. Now, ed, that though all the light reflected from a as a due exercise is essential to the coarse muscu- large body should strike the eye in one instant ;
a lar parts of the constitution, and that without this yet we must suppose that the body itself is formed rousing they would become languid and diseased, of a vast number of distinct points, every one of the very same rule holds with regard to those finer which, or the ray from every one, makes an im• Part II. sect. 2 † Part I. sect. 7. Part II. sect. 2.
* Part II sect. 7.
DUCE A PASSION LIKE TERROUR.
SECT. IX,—WHY VISUAL OBJECTS OF GREAT DI
MENSIONS ARE SUBLIME.
pression on the retina. So that, though the image time; if this thing be little, the effect is little, and of one point should cause but a small tension of a number of other little objects cannot engage the this membrane, another, and another, and another attentior; the mind is bounded by the bounds stroke, must in their progress cause a very great of the object; and what is not attended to, and one, until it arrives at last to the highest degree; what does not exist, are much the same in the and the whole capacity of the eye, vibrating in all effect; but the eye, or the mind, (for in this case its parts, must approach near to the nature of what there is no difference,) in great, uniform objects, causes pain, and consequently must produce an does not readily arrive at its bounds; it has no idea of the sublime. Again, if we take it, that rest whilst it contemplates them; the image is one point only of an object is distinguishable at much the same every where. So that every thing once; the matter will amount nearly to the same great by its quantity must necessarily be one, thing, or rather it will make the origin of the simple and entire. sublime from greatness of dimension yet clearer. For if but one point is observed at once, the eye must traverse the vast space of such bodies with
SECT. XI. --THE ARTIFICIAL INFINITE. great quickness, and consequently the fine nerves and muscles destined to the motion of that part We have observed, that a species of greatness must be very much strained; and their great sen- arises from the artificial infinite; and that this sibility must make them highly affected by this infinite consists in an uniform succession of great straining. Besides, it signifies just nothing to the parts: we observed too, that the same uniform effect produced, whether a body has its parts con- succession had a like power in sounds. But because nected and makes its impression at once ; or, the effects of many things are clearer in one of the making but one impression of a point at a time, senses than in another, and that all the senses bear it causes a succession of the same or others so analogy to and illustrate one another, I shall begin quickly as to make them seem united; as is evident with this power in sounds, as the cause of the subfrom the common effect of whirling about a lighted limity from succession is rather more obvious in torch or piece of wood: which, if done with cele- the sense of hearing. And I shall here, once for rity, seems a circle of fire.
all, observe, that an investigation of the natural
and mechanical causes of our passions, besides the SECT. X.-UNITY WHY REQUISITE TO VASTNESS.
curiosity of the subject, gives, if they are discover
ed, a double strength and lustre to any rules we IT may be objected to this theory, that the
deliver on such matters. When the ear receives generally receives an equal number of rays at all any simple sound, it is struck by a single pulse of times, and that therefore a great object cannot the air, which makes the ear-drum and the other affect it by the number of rays, more than that membranous parts vibrate according to the nature variety of objects which the
eye must always discern and species of the stroke. If the stroke be strong, whilst it remains open. But to this I answer, that the organ of hearing suffers a considerable degree admitting an equal number of rays, or an equal of tension. If the stroke be repeated pretty soon quantity of luminous particles, to strike the eye at after, the repetition causes an expectation of anall times, yet if these rays frequently vary their other stroke. And it must be observed, that exnature, now to blue, now to red, and so on, or their pectation itself causes a tension. This is apparent manner of termination, as to a number of petty in many animals, who, when they prepare for squares, triangles, or the like, at every change, hearing any sound, rouse themselves, and prick whether of colour or shape, the organ has a sort of up their ears : so that here the effect of the sounds relaxation or rest; but this relaxation and labour is considerably augmented by a new auxiliary, so often interrupted, is by no means productive of the expectation. But though after a number of ease; neither has it the effect of vigorous and uni- strokes, we expect still more, not being able to form labour. Whoever has remarked the different ascertain the exact time of their arrival, when effects of some strong exercise, and some little pid- they arrive, they produce a sort of surprise, which dling action, 'will understand why a teasing, fretful increases this tension yet further. For I have obemployment, which at once wearies and weakens served, that when at any time I have waited very the body, should have nothing great; these sorts earnestly for some sound, that returned at interof impulses, which are rather teasing than painful, vals, (as the successive firing of cannon,) though I by continually and suddenly altering their tenour fully expected the return of the sound, when it and direction, prevent that full tension,
came it always made me start a little; the earcies of uniform labour, which is allied to strong drum suffered a convulsion, and the whole body pain, and causes the sublime. The sum total of consented with it. The tension of the part thus things of various kinds, though it should equal increasing at every blow, by the united forces of the number of the uniform parts composing some the stroke itself, the expectation, and the surprise, one entire object, is not equal in its effect upon the it is worked up to such a pitch as to be capable organs of our bodies. Besides the one already of the sublime; it is brought just to the verge of assigned, there is another very strong reason for pain. Even when the cause has ceased, the orthe difference. The mind in reality hardly ever gans of hearing being often successively struck in can attend diligently to more than one thing at a a similar manner, continue to vibrate in that man
VISUAL OBJECTS EXPLAINED.
ner for some time longer; this is an additional | continues. From whence it is obvious, that, at the help to the greatness of the effect.
last pillar, the impression is as far from continuing
as it was at the very first ; because, in fact, the senSECT. XII.-THE VIBRATIONS MUST BE SIMILAR.
sory can receive no distinct impression but from the
last; and it can never of itself resume a dissimilar But if the vibration be not similar at every im- impression: besides, every variation of the object is a pression, it can never be carried beyond the num- rest and relaxation to the organs of sight; and these ber of actual impressions; for, move any body as reliefs prevent that powerful emotion so necessary a pendulum, in one way, and it will continue to to produce the sublime. To produce therefore a oscillate in an arch of the same circle, until the perfect grandeur in such things as we have been known causes make it rest; but if after first put- mentioning, there should be a perfect simplicity, ting it in motion in one direction, you push it into an absolute uniformity in disposition, shape, and another, it can never reassume the first direction ; colouring. Upon this principle of succession and because it can move itself, and conse- uniformity it may be asked, why a long bare wall quently it can have but the effect of that last mo- should not be a more sublime object than a colontion; whereas, if in the same direction you act nade; since the succession is no way interrupted; upon it several times, it will describe a greater since the eye meets no check; since nothing more arch, and move a longer time.
uniform can be conceived ? A long bare wall
is certainly not so grand an object as a colonnade SECT. XIII. -THE EFFECTS OF SUCCESSION IN of the same length and height. It is not alto
gether difficult to account for this difference.
When we look at a naked wall, from the evenness If we can comprehend clearly how things ope- of the object, the eye runs along its whole space, rate upon one of our senses, there can be
little and arrives quickly at its termination ; the eye difficulty in conceiving in what manner they affect meets nothing which may interrupt its progress; the rest. To say a great deal therefore upon the but then it meets nothing which may detain it a corresponding affections of every sense, would tend proper time to produce a very great and lasting rather to fatigue us by an useless repetition, than effect. The view of a bare wall, if it be of a great to throw any new light upon the subject by that height and length, is undoubtedly grand; but this ample and diffuse manner of treating it; but as in is only one idea, and not a repetition of similar this discourse we chiefly attach ourselves to the ideas: it is therefore great, not so much upon the sublime, as it affects the eye, we shall consider principle of infinity, as upon that of vastness. But particularly why a successive disposition of uniform we are not so powerfully affected with any one imparts in the same right line should be sublime,* and pulse, unless it be one of a prodigious force inupon what principle this disposition is enabled to deed, as we are with a succession of similar immake comparatively a small quantity of matter pulses ; because the nerves of the sensory do not produce a grander effect, than a much larger quan- | (if I may use the expression) acquire a habit of tity disposed in another manner. To avoid the repeating the same feeling in such a manner as to perplexity of general notions; let us set before our continue it longer than its cause is in action ; eves a colonnade of uniform pillars planted in a besides all the effects which I have attributed to right line; let us take our stand in such a manner, expectation and surprise in Sect. 11, can have no that the eye may shoot along this colonnade, for place in a bare wall. it has its best effect in this view. In our present situation it is plain, that the rays from the first SECT. xiv.-LOCKE'S OPINION CONCERNING DARKround pillar will cause in the eye a vibration of that species ; an image of the pillar itself. The pillar immediately succeeding increases it; that It is Mr. Locke's opinion, that darkness is not which follows renews and enforces the impression.; naturally an idea of terrour; and that, though an each in its order as it succeeds, repeats impulse excessive light is painful to the sense, the greatest after impulse, and stroke after stroke, until the eye, excess of darkness is no ways troublesome. He long exercised in one particular way, cannot lose observes indeed in another place, that a nurse or that object immediately; and, being violently an old woman having once associated the ideas of roused by this continued agitation, it presents the ghosts and goblins with that of darkness, night, mind with a grand or sublime conception. But in- ever after, becomes painful and horrible to the stead of viewing a rank of uniform pillars, let us imagination. The authority of this great man is suppose that they succeed each other, a round and a doubtless as great as that of any man can be, and square one alternately. In this case the vibration it seems to stand in the way of our general princaused by the first round pillar perishes as soon as ciple. +
We have considered darkness as a cause it is formed ; and one of quite another sort (the of the sublime; and we have all along considered square) directly occupies its place; which however the sublime as depending on some modification of it resigns as quickly to the round one; and thus pain or terrour: so that if darkness be no way the eye proceeds, alternately, taking up one image, painful or terrible to any, who have not had their and laying down another, as long as the building minds early tainted with superstitions, it can be
+ Part II. sect. 3.
• Part II. sect. 10.
SECT. XVI.WHY DARKNESS IS TERRIBLE.
to our recess.
no source of the sublime to them. But, with all the original association was made very early, and deference to such an authority, it seems to me, the consequent impression repeated often. In our that an association of a more general nature, an instance, there was no time for such a habit; and association which takes in all mankind, may make there is no reason to think that the ill effects of darkness terrible; for in utter darkness it is im- black on his imagination were more owing to its possible to know in what degree of safety we stand; connexion with any disagreeable ideas, than that we are ignorant of the objects that surround us; the good effects of more cheerful colours were dewe may every moment strike against some dan- rived from their connexion with pleasing ones. gerous obstruction ; we may fall down a precipice They had both probably their effects from their the first step we take; and if an enemy approach, natural operation. we know not in what quarter to defend ourselves ; in such a case strength is no sure protection; wisdom can only act by guess; the boldest are staggered, and he, who would pray for nothing else It may be worth while to examine how darktowards his defence, is forced to pray for light. ness can operate in such a manner as to cause pain.
It is observable, that still as we recede from the Ζευ πατερ, αλλα συ ρυσαι υπ’ ηερος υιας Αχαιων light, nature has so contrived it, that the pupil is Ποιησον δ' αιθρην, δος δ' οφθαλμοισιν ιδεσθαι
enlarged by the retiring of the iris, in proportion Εν δε φαει και ολεσσον..
Now, instead of declining from it As to the association of ghosts and goblins; but a little, suppose that we withdraw entirely surely it is more natural to think, that darkness, from the light; it is reasonable to think, that the being originally an idea of terrour, was chosen contraction of the radial fibres of the iris is proas a fit scene for such terrible representations, portionably greater ; and that this part may by than that such representations have made darkness great darkness come to be so contracted, as to terrible. The mind of man very easily slides into strain the nerves that compose it beyond their an errour of the former sort; but it is very hard natural tone; and by this means to produce a to imagine, that the effect of an idea so univer- painful sensation. Such a tension it seems there sally terrible in all times, and in all countries, as certainly is, whilst we are involved in darkness ; darkness, could possibly have been owing to a set for in such a state whilst the eye remains open, of idle stories, or to any cause of a nature so there is a continual nisus to receive light; this is trivial, and of an operation so precarious.
manifest from the flashes and luminous appearances which often seem in these circumstances to play before it ; and which can be nothing but the effect of spasms, produced by its own efforts in pursuit
of its object: several other strong impulses will Perhaps it may appear on enquiry, that black- produce the idea of light in the eye, besides the ness and darkness are in some degree painful substance of light itself, as we experience on many by their natural operation, independent of any occasions. Some, who allow darkness to be a associations whatsoever. I must observe, that cause of the sublime, would infer, from the dilathe ideas of darkness and blackness are much the tation of the pupil, that a relaxation may be prosame; and they differ only in this, that blackness ductive of the sublime, as well as a convulsion : is a more confined idea. Mr. Cheselden has given but they do not, I believe, consider that although us a very curious story of a boy, who had been the circular ring of the iris be in some sense a born blind, and continued so until he was thirteen sphincter, which may possibly be dilated by a or fourteen years old; he was then couched for a simple relaxation, yet in one respect it differs from cataract, by which operation he received his sight. most of the other sphincters of the body, that it Among many remarkable particulars that attended is furnished with antagonist muscles, which are the his first perceptions and judgments on visual ob- radial fibres of the iris: no sooner does the cirjects, Cheselden tells us, that the first time the boy cular muscle begin to relax, than these fibres, saw a black object, it gave him great uneasiness; wanting their counterpoise, are forcibly drawn and that some time after, upon accidentally seeing back, and open the pupil to a considerable wideness
. a negro woman, he was struck with great horrour But though we were not apprized of this, I believe at the sight. The horrour, in this case, can scarcely any one will find, if he opens his eyes and makes be supposed to arise from any association. The an effort to see in a dark place, that a very perboy appears by the account to have been particu- ceivable pain ensues. And I have heard some larly observing and sensible for one of his age; ladies remark, that after having worked a long time and therefore it is probable, if the great uneasi- upon a ground of black, their eyes were so pained ness he felt at the first sight of black had arisen and weakened, they could hardly see. It may from its connexion with any other disagreeable perhaps be objected to this theory of the mechaideas, he would have observed and mentioned it. nical effect of darkness, that the ill effects of darkFor an idea, disagreeable only by association, has ness or blackness seem rather mental than corthe cause of its ill effect on the passions evident poreal : and I own it is true, that they do so; and enough at the first impression ; in ordinary cases, so do all those that depend on the affections of it is indeed frequently lost; but this is, because the finer parts of our system. The ill effects of
SECT. XV. - DARKNESS TERRIBLE IN ITS OWN