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5. The aid which the art of navigation, in all the stages of its progress, derives from the observation of the stars; and the consequent bias given to the fancy, to mount from the ocean to the heavens. A pilot seated at the helm, with his eye fixed on the Pole, while the rest of the crew abandon themselves to sleep, forms an interesting picture in some of the noblest productions of human genius. In the Odyssey, this astronomical association is employed with wonderful success by the genius of Homer, to impart a character of Sublimity, even to the little raft of Ulysses, during his solitary voyage from Calypso's island. . . . . . ---, - - - - “ Avrag & Troo.7.10 ovyozo rs27:yrac, “"HusyG-. 80s of 37,9- sort 37.spto.googly sororrs, “IIzmiadz; F scowri, 3 ovs ovorz Bowrmy, “Agzroy 9', #, & ouaizy sorizona, zooison, “‘H + avre ogsteral, & 7 Ogiwo. 60xive. “ On O' apologo; as 2.0::gwy (1zsoyoto.” " Odyss. Lib. 5. l. 270. Agreeably to the same bias of the fancy, the principal constellations in our astronomical sphere have been supposed, with no inconsiderable probability, to be emblematical of circumstances and events connected with the oldest voyage alluded to in profane
* “Plac'd at the helm he sate, and mark'd the skies,
history, the expedition of the Argonauts-What an accession of strength must have been added, in every philosophical mind, to this natural association, in consequence of the methods practised by the moderns, for finding the latitude and the longitude! On the other hand, it must be acknowledged, that the poetical effect must, to a certain degree, have been weakened by the discovery of the polarity of the needle. - In minds which have been impressed, in early life, with the fabulous and popular accounts of the origin of astronomy, the same association of hiteral sublimity with the objects of that study, imparts somewhat of the same character, even to the plains and to the shepherds of ancient Chaldea." . . . . . 6. The variety of modes in which the ocean presents to us the idea of power. Among these, there are two which more particularly deserve attention. (1.) Its tendency to raise our thoughts to that Being whose “hand heaves its billows;” and who “ has “given his decree to the seas, that they might not “pass his commandment.” (2.) Its effect in recalling to us the proudest triumph of Man, in accomplishing the task assigned to him, of subduing the earth and the elements.--Beside these associations, however, which are common to the inhabitants of all maritime countries, a prospect of the sea
* “Principio Assyrii, propter planitiem magnitudinemaue re“gionum quas incolebant, cum calum er omni parte patens atque “apertum intuerentur, trajectiones motusque stellarum observave“runt.—Quá in natione, Chaldaei, diuturna observatione siderum “scientiam putantur effecisse,” &c. &c.—Cic, de Divinat.
must frequently awaken, in every native of this island, many sublime recollections which belong exclusively to ourselves; those recollections, above all others, which turn on the naval commerce, the naval power, and the naval glory of England; and on the numerous and triumphant fleets which “bear the British “ thunder o’er the world.” "
7. The easy transition by which a moralizing fancy passes from a prospect of the sea, to subjects allied to the most interesting of all the various classes of our sublime emotions;–from the ceaseless succession of waves which break on the beach, to the fleeting generations of men; or, from the boundless expanse of the watery waste, to the infinity of Space, and the infinity of Time.
“Walk thoughtful on the silent, solemn shore
In which last lines (as well as in Shakespeare's bank and shoal of time), the complete union of the subject and of the simile proves, how intimately they were combined together in the mind of the poet. Before closing this long discussion concerning the effects produced on the imagination by the connection between the ideas of Altitude and of Horizontal Extent, I think it of great importance to remark farther, in illustration of the same argument, that a similar association attaches itself to these words when employed metaphorically. A good example of this occurs in a passage of the Novum Organon, where the author recommends to the students of particular branches of science, to rise occasionally above the level of their habitual pursuits, by gaining the vantage-ground of a higher philosophy. “ Prospecta“tiones fiunt a turribus aut locis praealtis; et impos“sibile est, ut quis exploret remotiores interiores“que scientiae alicujus partes, si stet super plano “ ejusdem scientiae, neque altioris scientiae veluti “speculum conscendat:”—An allusion not more logically appropriate, than poetically beautiful; and which probably suggested to Cowley his comparison of Bacon's prophetic anticipations of the future progress of experimental philosophy, to the distant view of the promised land, which Moses enjoyed from the top of Mount Pisgah :
“Did on the very border stand
“Of the blest promis'd land;
“And from the mountain-top of his exalted wit,
The metaphorical phrases of scala ascensoria et scala descensoria, which Bacon applies to the Analytical and Synthetical Methods, shew, in a still more explicit manner, the strong impression which the natural association between Altitude and Horizontal extent had made on his imagination; inasmuch as he avails himself of it, as the most significant figure he could employ to illustrate, in the way of analogy, the advantages which he expected to result from his own peculiar mode of philosophizing. Indeed, the analogy is so close and so irresistible,
that it is scarcely possible to speak of Analysis and Synthesis, without making use of expressions in which it is implied." When, agreeably to the rules of the former, we rise or ascend from particular phenomena to general principles, our views become more enlarged and comprehensive, but less precise and definite with respect to minute details. In proportion as we re-descend in the way of synthesis, our horizon contracts; but at every step, we find ourselves better enabled to observe and to examine, with accuracy, whatever individual objects attract our curiosity. In pure Mathematics, it is to the most general and comprehensive methods of inquiry, that we exclusively appropriate the title of the higher or sublimer parts of the science; a figurative mode of speaking, which is rendered still more appropriate by two collateral circumstances: First, that all these methods, at the time when this epithet was originally applied to them, involved, in one form or another, the idea of Infinity; and, Secondly, that the earliest, as well as the most successful applications of them hitherto made, have been to Physical Astronomy. T ' With this exception, and one or two others, for which it is easy to account, it is remarkable, that the epithet universally applied to the more abstruse branches of knowledge is not sublime but profound. We conceive truth to be something analogous to a
* See Note (G g.) + Note (H h.)