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cumstances, enabling them to produce similar effects. In confirmation of this remark, I shall point out, very briefly, a few of the natural associations attached to the idea of what is physically or literally Sublime, without paying much attention to the order in which I am to arrange them.
It will contribute greatly to assist my readers in following this argument, always to bear in mind, that the observations which I am to offer neither imply any dissent, on my part, from the critical decisions of former writers, nor tend to weaken, in the smallest degree, the authority of their precepts, so far as they are founded on a just induction of particulars. A universal association furnishes a basis of practice, as solid and as independent of the caprice of fashion as a metaphysical affinity or relation ; and the investigation of the former is a legitimate object of philosophical curiosity no less than the latter. In the present instance, I am disposed to assent to most of the critical conclusions adopted both by Mr Burke and by Mr Price ; and were the case otherwise, I should be cautious in opposing my own judgment to theirs, on questions so foreign to my ordinary pursuits, how freely soever I may have presumed to canvass the opinions which they have proposed on some other points of a more speculative and abstract nature.
Of all the associations attached to the idea of Sublimity, the most impressive are those arising from the tendency which the religious sentiments of men, in every age and country, have had to carry their thoughts upwards, towards the objects of their wor
ship. To what this tendency is owing, I must not at present stop to inquire. It is sufficient for
my purpose, if it be granted (and this is a fact about which there cannot well be any dispute), that it is the result of circumstances common to all the various conditions of mankind. In some cases, the Heavens have been conceived to be the dwellingplace of the Gods ; in others, the sun, moon, and other heavenly bodies, have themselves been deified ; but, in all cases, without exception, men have conceived their fortunes to depend on causes operating from above. Hence those apprehensions which, in all ages, they have been so apt to entertain, of the influence of the Stars on human affairs. Hence, too, the astrological meaning of the word ascendant, together with its metaphorical application to denote the moral influence which one Mind may acquire over another. *
The language of Scripture is ex
* In the following line of Ennius, Jupiter and the Starry Sub. lime are used as synonymous expressions :
“ Aspice hoc sublime candens, quem invocant omnes Jovem." It is observed by Sir William Jones, that “ the JUPITER or DI.
ESPITER, here mentioned by Ennius, is the Indian God of the « visible heavens, called INDRA, or the King, and DIVESPITER,
or Lord of the Sky; and that most of his epithets in Sanscrit are the same with those of the Ennian Jove.
pon is the thunderbolt; he is the regent of winds and showers ; " and though the East is peculiarly under his care, yet his Olym
pus is Meru, or the North pole, allegorically represented as a 6 mountain of gold and gems."-Dissertation on the Gods of Greece, Italy, and India.
The same natural association has evidently suggested the towering forms so common in edifices consecrated to the memory of
actly consonant to these natural associations. “ If “ I beheld the Sun when it shined, or the Moon “ walking in brightness, and my heart hath been
secretly enticed, or my mouthhath kissed my “ hand, this also were an iniquity to be punished by “ the Judge, for I should have denied the God
THAT IS ABOVE."-I AM THE HIGH AND THE
LOFTY ONE, WHO INHABITETH ETERNITY.”" AS THE HEAVENS ARE HIGH ABOVE THE EARTH,
SO ARE MY THOUGHTS ABOVE YOUR THOUGHTS, " AND MY WAYS ABOVE YOUR WAYS.”
How closely the literal and the religious Sublime were associated together in the mind of Milton (whose taste seems to have been formed chiefly on the study of the poetical parts of the sacred writings), appears from numberless passages in the Paradise Lost.
“ Now had th? Almighty Father from above,
“ High throned above all height, bent down his eye.” In some cases, it may perhaps be doubted, whether Milton has not forced on the mind the image of literal height, somewhat more strongly than accords perfectly with the overwhelming sublimity which his subject derives from so many other sources.
the dead, or to the ceremonies of religious worship ;-the forms, for example, of the pyramid ; of the obelisk; of the column; and of the spires appropriated to our churches in this part of the world.
" The village church, among the trees,
At the same time, who would venture to touch, with a profane hand, the following verses ?
So even and morn accomplish'd the sixth day.
-“ Up he rode
Is it not probable that the impression, produced by this association, strong as it still is, was yet stronger in ancient times? The discovery of the earth’s sphericity, and of the general theory of gravitation, has taught us that the words above and below have only a relative import. The natural association cannot fail to be more or less counteracted in every understanding to which this doctrine is familiarized ; and although it may not be so far weakened as to destroy altogether the effect of poetical descriptions proceeding on popular phraseology, the effect must necessarily be very inferior to what it was in ages, when the notions of the wise concerning the local residence of the Gods were precisely, the same with those of the vulgar. We may trace their powerful influence on the philosophy of Plato, in some of his Dialogues ; and he is deeply indebted to them for that strain of sublimity which
characterizes those parts of his writings which have more peculiarly excited the enthusiasm of his fol. lowers.
The conclusions of modern science leave the imagination at equal liberty to shoot, in all directions, through the immensity of space ; suggesting, undoubtedly, to a philosophical mind, the most grand and magnificent of all conceptions ; but a conception not nearly so well adapted to the pictures of poetry, as the popular illusion which places heaven exactly over our heads. Of the truth of this last remark no other proof is necessary than the doctrine of the Antipodes, which, when alluded to in poetical description, produces an effect much less akin to the sublime than to the ludicrous.
Hence an additional source of the connection between the ideas of Sublimity and of Power. The Heavens we conceive to be the abode of the Almighty; and when we implore the protection of his omnipotent arm, or express our resignation to his irresistible decrees, by an involuntary movement, we lift our eyes upwards. *
As of all the 'attributes of God, Omnipotence is the most impressive in its effects upon the imagination, so the sublimest of all descriptions are those which turn on the infinite Power manifested in the fabric of the universe ;-in the magnitudes (more
* The same account may be given of the origin of various other natural signs, expressive of religious adoration (palmas ad sidera tendens, &c. &c.); and of some ceremonies which have obe tained very generally over the world, particularly that of offering up incense.