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because it did not appear to me to have any immediate connection with the train of my argument. It is sufficient for my purpose, if I have succeeded in accounting for the place which the Terrible, when properly modified, is generally allowed to occupy among the constituents, or at least among the natural adjuncts of the Sublime. Although I have attempted to shew, at some length, that there is a specific pleasure connected with the simple idea of Sublimity or Elevation, I am far from thinking, that the impressions produced by such adjuncts as Eternity or Power, or even by the physical adjuncts of Horizontal Extent and of Depth, are wholly resolvable into their association with this common and central conception. I own, however, I am of opinion, that, in most cases, the pleasure attached to the conception of literal sublimity, identified, as it comes to be, with those religious impressions which are inseparable from the human mind, is one of the chief ingredients in the complicated emotion; and that, in every case, it either palpably or latently contributes to the effect. From the constant or very general connection, too, which these different ingredients have with each other, as well as with the central idea of Elevation, they must necessarily both lend and borrow much accessory influence over the mind. The primary effect of Elevation itself cannot fail to be astonishingly increased by its association with such interesting and awful ideas as Immensity, Eternity, Infinite Power, and Infinite Wisdom; blended as they are in our conceptions with that still sublimer attribute of God, which encourages us to look up to him as the Father of All. On the other hand, to all of these attributes, Eleyation imparts, in its turn, a common character and a common epithet.
Supposing, therefore, the foregoing conclusions to be admitted as just, a wide field of speculation lies open to future inquirers. To some of these, I flatter myself, the hints which I have suggested may be useful, if not in conducting them into the right path, at least in diverting them from the vain attempt to detect a common quality in the metaphysical essence of things, which derive their common name only from the tie of Habitual Association. To trace the origin of this Association, so as to obtain a key to the various transitive meanings of the word in question, is a problem, the solution of which is not only necessary to give precision to our ideas on the subject, but forms an indispensable preliminary to any subsequent discussions concerning the simple and elementary pleasures mingled together in that complex emotion which the epithet sublime, or some corresponding term, so significantly expresses in so great a variety of languages.”
* Since the first Edition of this Work appeared, it has been alleged, that I had carried my Philological Theory so far, as to resolve the Sublimity of Physical Astronomy into the circumstance of “the stars being high up in the air.” If there be any foundation for this criticism, I have certainly been most unsuccessful in conveying to my readers a clear idea of the scope of this Essay. Into the innumerable sources of emotion which may arise in a contemplative mind on a survey of the starry firmafuent, it was not my purpose to inquire. My only aim was to point out the Natural and Universal Association which has suggested the application of the metaphorical epithet Sublime (or High) to the study which is directed to these objects; and to illustrate the influence of this very expressive and powerful epithe in re-acting upon the Imagination and the Taste. The same remark may be extended to my observations on all the other applications of the same word. Much ingenuity has been displayed by some late writers in examining the mutual influence of Language and of Reason upon each other; but the action and re-action of Language and of Imagination in matters of Taste, is a subject of speculation not less curious, and hitherto almost entirely unexplored;—a subject which will be found intimately connected with the principles on which many of the most refined beauties of composition, both in prose and in verse, depend.
In confirmation of what I have just stated concerning the primary or central idea of Elevation, it may be farther remarked, that when we are anxious to communicate the highest possible character of Sublimity to anything we are describing, we generally contrive, somehow or other, either directly, or by means of some strong and obvious association, to introduce the image of the Heavens, or of the Clouds; or, in other words, of Sublimity literally so called. The idea of Eloquence is unquestionably sublime in itself, being a source of the proudest and noblest species of Power which the mind of one man can exercise over those of others: but how wonderfully is its sublimity increased when connected with the image of Thunder; as when we speak of the Thunder of Demosthenes : “Demosthenis non tam vibra“rent fulmina, nisi numeris contorta ferrentur.”— Milton has fully availed himself of both these associations, in describing the orators of the Greek republics:
—“ Resistless eloquence
“Shook th’ arsenal, and fulmin'd over Greece,
“To Macedon, and Artaxerxes' throne.”
In Collins's ode to Fear, the happy use of a single word identifies at once the Physical with the Moral Sublime, and concentrates the effects of their united force.
“Tho' gentle pity claim her mingled part,
The same word adds not a little to the effect of one of the sublimest descriptions in the book of Job. “Hast thou given the horse strength; hast thou “ clothed his neck with thunder 2” “
In the concluding stanza of one of Gray’s odes, if the bard, after his apostrophe to Edward, had been represented as falling on his sword, or as drowning himself in a pool at the summit of the rock, the Moral Sublime, so far as it arises from his heroical determination “to conquer and to die,” would not have been in the least diminished ; but how different from the complicated emotion produced by the images of altitude; of depth ; of an impetuous and foaming flood; of darkness; and of eternity; all of which are crowded into the two last lines :
* He spoke—and headlong from the mountain's height “Deep in the roaring tide he plunged to endless night.”
Among the Grecian sages, Plato has been always more peculiarly characterized by the epithet Sublime; and, indeed, on various accounts, it is strong
ly and happily descriptive of the feelings inspired by the genius of that author; by the lofty mysticism of his philosophy; and even by the remote origin of the theological fables which are said to have descended to him from Orpheus. The following passage paints the impressions of a German scholar, " when he first met with the Indigilamenta, or Orphic Hymns, during an accidental visit to Leipsic; and the scenery which he has employed to embellish his picture, is worthy of the imagination of Plato himself. The skill with which he has called in to his aid the darkness and silence and awfulness of midnight, may be compared to some of the finest touches of our master-poets; but what I wish, at present, chiefly to remark, is the effect of Altitude and of the Starry Firmament in exalting our conceptions of those religious mysteries of the fabulous ages, which had so powerfully awakened the enthusiasm of the writer.—“ Incredibile dictu quo me “sacro horrore afflaverint indigitamenta ista deo“rum : nam et tempus adillorum lectionem eligere “cogebar, quod vel solum horrorem incutere animo “potest, nocturnum; cum enim totam diem con“sumserim in contemplando urbis splendore, et in “adeundis, quibus scatet urbs illa, viris doctis, sola “nox restabat, quam Orpheo consecrare potui. In “abyssum quemdam mysteriorum venerandae anti“quitatis descendere videbar, quotiescumque silente “mundo, solis vigilantibusastris et luna, p.exampdorus “istos hymnos ad manus sumpsi.” It is curious, how very nearly the imagination of
* Note (M. m.)