« AnteriorContinuar »
have been made to represent their subject on canvas. Of the vanity of these attempts it is sufficient to say, that, while the painter has but one point of sight, the poet, from the nature of his art, has been enabled, in this instance, to avail himself of two, without impairing, in the least, the effect of his description, by this sudden and unobserved shifting of the scenery. * In consequence of the play of imagination now described, added to the influence of associations formerly remarked, it is easily conceivable in what manner Height and Depth, though precisely opposite to each other in their physical properties, should so easily accord together in the pictures which imagination forms; and should even, in many cases, be almost identified in the emotions which they
* I cannot help thinking that Gray, while he professes to convey a different sentiment, has betrayed a secret consciousness of the unrivalled powers which poetry derives from this latitude in the management of her machinery, in his splendid but exaggerated panegyric on the designs with which Mr Bentley decorated one of the editions of his book. The circumstances he has pitched on as characteristical of the genius of that artist, are certainly those in which the prerogatives of poetry are the most incontestible.
“In silent gaze, the tuneful choir among,
“While Bentley leads her sister art along,
“See, in their course, each transitory thought,
Nor will there appear anything in this doctrine savouring of paradox, or of an undue spirit of theory, in the judgment of those who recollect, that, although the humour of Swift and of Arbuthnot has accustomed us to state the TYPOX and the BAGOX as standing in direct opposition to each other, yet, according to the phraseology of Longinus, the oldest writer on the subject now extant, the opposite to the sublime is not the profound, but the humble, the low, or the puerile.” In one very remarkable passage, which has puzzled several of his commentators not a little, vskos and £2003, instead of being stated in contrast with each other, seem to be particularized as two things comprehended under some one common genus, corresponding to that expressed by the word altitudo in Latin. Holy 3 e exeiro à latropnreow evapon, ei early US$8; tış m £258; royn. Smith, in his English version, omits the second of these words entirely; t acknowledging that he could not make sense of the passage as it now stands; and intimating his own approbation of a conjectural emendation of Dr Tonstal’s, who proposed (very absurdly, in my opinion) to substitute trabos for £2003. Pearce, on the other hand, translates jJos m (2290; sublimitas sive altitudo ; plainly considering the word 3290; as intended by the author, in conjunction with Joos, to complete that idea which the Greek language did not enable him to convey more concisely. As Pearce's translation is, in this instance, adopted, without the slightest discussion or explanation, by the very acute and learned Toup, in his edition of Longinus, it may be considered as also sanctioned by the high authority of his name. *
* To 6; asigaziwās; ayrızgū ūzāyavrio, rol; utysosol, &c. &c. Sect. 3. When Pope attempted to introduce the image of the profound into poetry, he felt himself reduced to the necessity, instead of representing his dunces as exerting themselves to dive to the bottom of the ocean, to plunge them, one after another, into the dirt of Fleet-ditch :— “The king of dikes! than whom no sluice of mud 44 will deeper sable blots tle silver flood.”
“Next Smedley div'd : slow circles dimpled o'er
“Then Hill essay'd : scarce vanish'd out of sight,
+ See Note (C c.)
The stress which the authors of Martinus Scriblerus have laid upon Sublimity, in the literal sense of the word, together with the ludicrous parallel which they have so happily kept up between the art of rising and the art of sinking, has probably had no inconsiderable effect in diverting the graver critics who have since appeared, from an accurate examination of those obvious analogies and natural associations, which can alone explain some of the most perplexing difficulties connected with the object of our present inquiry."
* The censure which I have here hazarded on Tonstal’s emendation has been so decidedly disapproved of by my friend Dr Parr, that I should have been tempted to cancel the whole paragraph, had I not been indebted to it for a long and very valuable communication with which that eminent scholar honoured me after reading this Essay. In the Appendix before referred to, my readers will find various quotations from those parts of his manuscript which bear more immediately on the present topic; and will join with me in regretting, that the size of my volume prevents me from requesting his permission to adorn my work with still more ample extracts from his refined and original speculations on the theory of metaphorical language.
* “The Sublime of nature is the sky, the sun, moon, stars, “&c. The Profound of nature is gold, pearls, precious stones, “ and the treasures of the deep, which are inestimable as un“known. But all that lies between these, as corn, flowers, fruits, “animals, and things for the mere use of man, are of mean “price, and so common as not to be greatly esteemed by the cu“rious.”—Art of Sinking in Poetry, chap. vi.
GENERALIZATIONS OF THE WORD subLIMITY, IN CONSEQUENCE OF THE INFLUENCE OF RELIGIOUS ASSOCIATIONS.
Beside the circumstances already mentioned, a variety of others conspire to distinguish Sublimity or Altitude from all the other directions in which space is extended; and which, of consequence, conspire to invite the imagination, on a correspondent variety of occasions, into one common track. The idea of Sublimity which is, in itself, so grateful and so flattering to the mind, becomes thus a common basis of a great multitude of collateral associations; establishing universally, wherever men are to be found, an affinity or harmony among the different things presented simultaneously to the thoughts; an affinity, which a man of good taste never fails to re. cognise, although he may labour in vain to trace any metaphysical principle of connection. It is in this way I would account for the application of the word Sublimity to most, if not to all the different qualities enumerated by Mr Burke, as its constituent elements; instead of attempting to detect in these qualities some common circumstance, or cir