Abbildungen der Seite

flicting either, it is impossible to be perfectly or rhinoceros. Whenever strength is only uso free from terrour. Again, we know by experi- ful, and employed for our benefit or our pleaence, that for the enjoyment of pleasure, no sure, then it is never sublime ; for nothing can great efforts of power are at all necessary; nay, act agreeably to us, that does not act in conwe know, that such efforts would go a great formity to our will; but to act agreeably to our way towards destroying our satisfaction; for will, it must be subject to us, and therefore can pleasure must be stolen, and not forced upon never be the cause of a grand and commanding us; pleasure follows the will; and therefore we conception. The description of the wild ass, are generally affected with it by many things of in Job, is worked up into no small sublimity, a force greatly inferiour to our own. But pain is merely by insisting on his freedom, and his always inflicted by a power in some way supe- setting mankind at defiance; otherwise the de. riour, because we never submit to pain willingly. scription of such an animal could have nothing So that strength, violence, pain, and terrour, noble in it. Who hath loosed (says he,) the are ideas that rush in upon the mind together. bands of the wild ass ? whose house I have made Look at a man, or any other animal of prodigious the wililerness, and the barren land his dwellings. strength, and what is your idea before reflec- He scorneth the multitude of the city, neither retion? Is it that this strength will be subser- gardeth he the voice of the driver. The range vient to you, to your case, to your pleasure, to of the mountains is his pasture. The magnificent your interest in any sense? No; the emotion description of the unicorn and of leviathan in you feel is, lest this enormous strength should the same book is full of the same heightening be employed to the purposes of rapine* and circumstances: Will the unicorn be willing to destruction. That power derives all its subli- serve thee? canst thou bind the unicorn with his mity from the terrour with which it is generally band in the furrow? wilt thou trust him because accompanied, will appear evidently from its his strength is great ?—Canst thou draw out effect in the very few cases in which it may leviathan with an hook ?-will he make a covebe possible to strip a considerable degree of nant with thee? wilt thou take him for a servant strength of its ability to hurt. When you do for ever ? shall not one be cast down even at the this, you spoil it of every thing sublime, and it sight of him? In short, wheresoever we find immediately becomes contemptible. An ox is strength, and in what light soever we look upon a creature of vast strength, but he is an inno power, we shall all along observe the sublime cent creature, extremely serviceable, and not at the concomitant of terrour, and contempt the all dangerous ; for which reason the idea of an attendant on a strength that is subservient and ox is by no means grand. A bull is strong too: innoxious. The race of dogs in many of their but his strength is of another kind; often very kinds, have generally a competent degree of destructive, seldom (at least among us) of strength and swiftness; and they exert these any use in our business; the idea of a bull is and other valuable qualities which they possess, thereforo great, and it has frequently a place in greatly to our convenience and pleasure. Dogs sublime descriptions, and elevating compari- are indeed the most social, affectionate, and sons. Let us look at another strong animal, in amiable animals of the whole brute creation; the two distinct lights in which we may consi- but love approaches much nearer to contempt der him. The horse in the light of an useful than is commonly imagined; and accordingly. beast, fit for the plough, the road, the draft; in though we caress dogs, we borrow from them every social useful light, the horse has nothing an appellation of the most despicable kind, when sublime: but is it thus that we are affected we employ terms of reproach; and this appellawith him, whose neck is clothed with thunder, the tion is the common mark of the last rileness glory of whose nostrils is terrible, who swalloweth and contempt in every language. Wolves have the ground with fierceness and rage, neither be not more strength than several species of dogs; lieveth that it is the sound of the trumpet ? In but, on account of their unmanageable fiercethis description the useful character of the horse ness, the idea of a wolf is not despicable ; it is entirely disappears, and the terrible and sublime not excluded from grand descriptions and simi. blaze out together. We have continually about litudes. Thus we are affected by strength, us animals of a strength that is considerable, which is natural power. The power which but not pernicious. Among these we never arises from institution in kings and command look for the sublime; it comes upon us in the ers, has the same connection with terrou. gloomy forest, and in the howling wilderness, Sovereigns are frequently addressed with the in the form of the lion, the tiger, the panther, title of dread majesty. And it may be observed, men in power, are commonly struck with an of the justice with which it is exercised, nor awe which takes away the free use of their the mercy with which it is tempered, can wholly faculties. When I prepared my seat in the remove the terrour that naturally arises from a street, (says Job,) the young men saw me, and force which nothing can withstand. If we hid themselves. Indeed, so natural is this timi- rejoice, we rejoice with trembling: and even dity with regard to power, and so strongly does whilst we are receiving benefits, we cannot but it inhere in our constitution, that very few are shudder at a power which can confer benefits able to conquer it, but by mixing much in the of such mighty importance. When the prophet business of the great world, or by using no David contemplated the wonders of wisdom and small violence to their natural dispositions. I power which are displayed in the economy of know some people are of opinion, that no awe, man, he seems to be struck with a sort of divine no degree of terrour, accompanies the idea of horrour, and cries out, Fearfully and wonderfully power: and have hazarded to affirm, that we am I made! An heathen poet has a sentiment can contemplate the idea of God himself, with of a similar nature; Horace looks upon it as the out any such emotion. I purposely avoided, last effort of philosophical fortitude, to behold when I first considered this subject, to introduce without terrour and amazement, this immense the idea of that great and tremendous Being, and glorious fabric of the universe: as an example in an argument so light as this; though it frequently occurred to me, not as an

that young persons, little acquainted with the * Vide Part III. sect. 21

world, and who have not been used to approach

Hunc solem, et stellas, et decedentia certis objection to, but as a strong confirmation of, Imbuii spectant

Tempora momentis, sunt qui formidine nulla my notions in this matter. I hope, in what I Lucretius is a poet not to be suspected of giving am going to say, I shall avoid presumption, where it is almost impossible for any mortal tó way to superstitious terrours; yet when he supspeak with strict propriety. I say then, that poses the whole mechanism of nature laid open whilst we consider the Godhead merely as he is by the master of his philosophy, his transport an object of the understanding, which forms a

on this magnificent view, which he has reprecomplex idea of power, wisdom, justice, good- sented in the colours of such bold and lively ness, all stretched to a degree far exceeding poetry, is overcast with a shade of secret dread the bounds of our comprehension, whilst we

and horrour: consider the Divinity in this refined and ab- His tibi me rebus quædam divina voluptas stracted light, the imagination and passions Percipit, atque horror, quod sic Natura tua vi

Tam manifesta patet ex omni parte retecta. are little or nothing affected. But because we are bound, by the condition of our nature, to But the scripture alone can supply ideas anascend to these pure and intellectual ideas, swerable to the majesty of this subject. In the through the medium of sensible images, and to scripture, wherever God is represented as apjudge of these divine qualities by their evident pearing or speaking, every thing terrible in acts and exertions, it becomes extremely hard nature is called up to heighten the awe and to disentangle our idea of the cause from the solemnity of the divine presence. The psalms, effect by which we are led to know it. Thus and the prophetical books, are crowded with when we contemplate the Deity, his attributes instances of this kind. The earth shook (says and their operation coming united on the mind, the psalmist,) the heavens also dropped at the form a sort of sensible image, and as such are presence of the Lord. And, what is remark. capable of affecting the imagination. Now, able, the painting preserves the same characthough in a just idea of the Deity, perhaps ter, not only when he is supposed descending none of his attributes are predominant, yet to to take vengeance upon the wicked, but even our imagination, his power is by far the most when he exerts the like plenitude of power, in striking. Some reflection, some comparing, is acts of beneficence to mankind. Tremble, there necessary to satisfy us of his wisdom, his jus- earth! at the presence of the Lord; at the pretice, and his goodness. To be struck with his sence of the God of Jacob; which turned the power, it is only necessary that we should open rock into standing water, the flint into a fountain our eyes. But whilst we contemplate so vast an of waters! It were endless to enumerate all object, under the arm, as it were, of Almighty the passages, both in the sacred and profane power, and invested upon every side with om- writers, which establish the general sentiment nipresence, we shrink into the minuteness of of mankind, concerning the inseparable union our own nature, and are, in a manner, annihi- of a sacred and reverential awe, with our lated before him. And though a consideration ideas of the divinity. Hence the common of his other attributes may relieve in some maxim, Primus in orbe deos fecit timor. This measure our apprehensions; yet no conviction maxim may be, as I believe it is, false with



regard to the origin of religion. The maker Ibant obscuri, sola sub nocte, per umbram, of the maxim saw how inseparable these ideas Perque domos Ditis vacuas, et inania regna were, without considering that the notion of Ye subterraneous gods! whose awful sway some great power must be always precedent to

The gliding ghosts, and silent shades obey;

O Chaos, hoar! and Phlegethon profound! our dread of it. But this dread must necessa

Whose solemn empire stretches wide around! rily follow the idea of such a power, when it is Give me, ye great tremendous powers, to tell once excited in the mind. It is on this principle Of scenes and wonders in the depth of hell. that true religion has, and must have, so large From those black realms of darkness to the a mixture of salutary fear; and that false reli


PITT. gions have generally nothing else but fear to

Obscure they went through dreary shades that support them. Before the Christian religion led nad, as it were, humanized the idea of the Di- Along the waste dominions of the dead.

DRYDEN. vinity, and brought it somewhat nearer to us, there was very little said of the love of God. The followers of Plato have something of it, and only something; the other writers of pagan

SECTION VII. antiquity, whether poets or philosophers, nothing at all. And they who consider with what infinite attention, by what a disregard of every perishable object, through what long habits of

GREATNESS* of dimension is a powerful piety and contemplation it is, any man is able

cause of the sublime. This is too evident, to attain an entire love and devotion to the

and the observation too common, to need ariy Deity, will easily perceive, that it is not the illustration; it is not so common to consider in first, the most natural, and the most striking what ways greatness of dimension, vastness of effect which proceeds from that idea. Thus

extent or quantity, has the most striking effect. we have traced power through its several gra- For certainly, there are ways, and modes, dations unto the highest of all

, where our ima- wherein the same quantity of extension shal! gination is finally lost; and we find terrour, produce greater effects than it is found to do in quite throughout the progress, its inseparable others. Extension is either in length, height, companion, and growing along with it, as far

or depth. Of these the length strikes least; as we can possibly trace them. Now as power

an hundred yards of even ground will never is undoubtedly a capital source of the sublime, work such an effect as a tower an hundred this will point out evidently from whence its yards high, or a rock or mountain of that altienergy is derived, and to what class of ideas tude. I am apt to imagine likewise, that we ought to unite it.

height is less grand than depth; and that we are more struck at looking down from a precipice, than looking up at an object of equal

height; but of that I am not very positive. A SECTION VI.

perpendicular has more force in forming the sublime than an inclined plane; and the effects of a rvgged and broken surface seem stronger

than where it is smooth and polished. It would All general privations are great, because they are all terrible ; Vacuity, Darkness, Soli- into the cause of these appearances ; but cer

carry us out of our way to enter in this place tude, and Silence. With what a fire of imagi- lain it is they afford a large and fruitful field nation, yet with what severity of judgment, has

of speculation. However, it may not be amiss Virgil amassed all these circumstances, where

to add to these remarks upon magnitude, that he knows that all the images of a tremendous

as the great extreme of dimension is sublime, dignity ought to be united, at the mouth of hell!

so the last extreme of littleness is in some meawhere, before he unlocks the secrets of the

sure sublime likewise; when we attend to the great deep, he seems to be seized with a reli

infinite divisibility of matter, when we pursue gious horrour, and to retire astonished at the animal life into these excessively small, and boldness of his own design:

yet organised beings, that escape the nicest Dii quibus imperium est animarum, umbræque inquisition of the sense, when we push our -silentes!

discoveries yet downward, and consider those Et Chaos, et Plegethon! loca nocte silentia

creatures so many degrees yet smaller, and the late? Sit mihi sas audita loqui! sit numine vestro Pandere res alta terra et caligine mersas !

* Part IV. sect. 9


xtill diminishing scale of existence, in tracing of some remark, some complaint, or song which the imagination is lost as well as the which having struck powerfully on their disor Sense, we become amazed and confounded at dered imagination in the beginning of their the wonders of minuteness; nor can we distin- phrenzy, every repetition reinforces it with new guish in its effect this extreme of littleness from strength; and the hurry of their spirits unre the vast itself. For division must be infinite strained by the curb of reason, continues it la as well as addition; because the idea of a per- the end of their lives. fect unity can no more be arrived at, than that of a complete whole, to which nothing may be added.





SUCCESSION and uniformity of parts are what

constitute the artificial infinite. l. Succession, ANOTHER source of the sublime is infinity; which is requisite that the parts may be conif it does not rather belong to the last. Infinity tinued so long and in such a direction, as by has a tendency to fill the mind with that sort of their frequent impulses on the sense to impress delightful horrour, which is the most genuine the imagination with an idea of their progress effect, and truest test of the sublime. There beyond their actual limits. 2. Uniformity; are scarce any things which can become the because if the figures of the parts should be ubjects of our senses, that are really and in changed, the imagination at every change finds their own nature infinite. But the eye not a check; you are presented at every alteration being able to perceive the bounds of many

with the termination of one idea, and the bethings, they seem to be infinite, and they pro- ginning of another; by which means it becomes duce the same effects as if they were really so. impossible to continue that uninterrupted proWe are deceived in the like manner, if the gression, which alone can stamp on bounded parts of some large object are so continued to objects the character of infinity. It is in this any indefinite number, that the imagination kind of artificial infinity, I believe, we ought to meets no check which may hinder its extend- look for the cause why a rotund has such a ing them at pleasure.

noble effect. For in a rotund, whether it be a Whenever we repeat any idea frequently, building or a plantation, you can no where fix the mind, by a sort of mechanism, repeats it a boundary; turn which way you will, the same long after the first cause has ceased to operate.* object still seems to continue, and the imaginaAfter whirling about, when we sit down, the

tion has no rest. But the parts must be uniobjects about us still seem to whirl. After a form, as well as circularly disposed, to give this long succession of noises, as the fall of waters, figure its full force ; because any difference, or the beating of forge hammers, the hammers whether it be in the disposition, or in the figure, beat and the water roars in the imagination

or even in the colour of the parts, is highly long after the first sounds have ceased to affect prejudicial to the idea of infinity, which every it; and they die away at last by gradations change must check and interrupt, at every alwhich are scarcely perceptible. If

teration commencing a new series. On the up a straight pole, with your eye to one end, it same principles of succession and uniformity, will seem extended to a length almost incredi- the grand appearance of the ancient heathen ble.f Place a number of uniform and equidis- temples, which were generally oblong forms, tant marks on this pole, they will cause the

with a range of uniform pillars on every side, same deception, and seem multiplied without will be easily accounted for. From the same end. The senses, strongly affected in some

cause also may be derived the grand effect of onc manner, cannot quickly change their tenour

the aisles in many of our own old cathedrals. or adapt themselves to other things; but they

The form of a cross used in some churches continue in their old channel until the strength seems to me not so eligible as the parallelogranı of the first mover decays. This is the reason

of the ancients; at least, I imagine it is not so of an appearance very frequent in madmen ; that they remain whole days and nights, some

Mr. Addison, in the Spectators concerning times whole years, in the constant repetition cause in the rotund at one glance you see half

the pleasures of the imagination, thinks it is be

the building. This I do not imagine to be the • Part IV. sect. 12. t Part IV. sect. 14. real cause.

you hold

proper for the outside. For, supposing the when they were suffered to run to immenso arms of the cross every way equal, if you stand distances. A true artist should put a generous in a direction parallel to any of the side walls, deceit on the spectators, and effect the noblest or colonnades, instead of a deception that makes designs by easy methods. Designs that are the building more extended than it is, you are vast only by their dimensions, are always the cut off from a considerable part (two thirds) of sign of a common and low imagination. No its actual length; and to prevent all possibility work of art can be great, but as it deceives; to of progression, the arms of the cross taking a be otherwise is the prerogative of nature only. new direction, make a right angle with the A good eye will fix the medium betwixt an exbeam, and thereby wholly turn the imagination cessive length or height, (for the same objection! from the repetition of the former idea. Or sup- lies against both,) and a short or broken quanpose the spectator placed where he may take a tity: and perhaps it might be ascertained to a direct view of such a building, what will be the tolerable degree of exactness, if it was my purconsequence ? the necessary consequence will pose to descend far into the particulars of any be, that a good part of the basis of each angle art. formed by the intersection of the arms of the cross, must be inevitably lost; the whole must of course assume a broken unconnected figure ; the lights must be unequal, here strong, and

SECTION XI. there weak; without that noble gradation, which the perspective always effects on parts disposed uninterruptedly in a right line. Some or all of these objections will lie against every figure

INFINITY, though of another kind, causes of a cross, in whatever view you take it. I much of our pleasure in agreeable, as well as exemplified them in the Greek cross,

in which of our delight in sublime images. The spring these faults appear the most strongly; but they is the pleasantest of the seasons; and the young appear in some degree in all sorts of crosses.

of most animals, though far from being comIndeed there is nothing more prejudicial to the pletely fashioned, afford a more agreeable sengrandeur of buildings, than to abound in angles; sation than the full grown; because the imagià fault obvious in many; and owing to an in- nation is entertained with the promise of soma ordinate thirst for variety, which, whenever it thing more, and does not acquiesce in the present prevails, is sure to leave very little true taste. object of the sense. In unfinished sketches of

drawing, I have often seen something which pleased me beyond the best finishing; and this

I believe proceeds from the cause I have just SECTION X.

now assigned.




To the sublime in building, greatness of di

SECTION XII. mension seems requisite; for on a few parts, and those small, the imagination cannot rise to any idea of infinity. No greatness in the manner can effectually compensate for the want of ANOTHER* source of greatness is difficulty. proper dimensions. There is no danger of When any work seems to have required imdrawing men into extravagant designs by this

mense force and labour to effect it, the idea is rule ; it carries its own caution along with it. grand. Stonehenge, neither for disposition nor Because too great a length in buildings destroys ornament, has any thing admirable; but those che purpose of greatness, which it was intended huge rude masses of stone, set on end, and piler. to promote ; the perspective will lessen it in each on other, turn the mind on the immense height as it gains in length; and will bring it force necessary for such a work. Nay, the at last to a point; turning the whole figure into rudeness of the work increases this cause of a sort of triangle, the poorest in its effect of grandeur, as it excludes the idea of art and almost any figure that can be presented to the contrivance; for dexterity produces another sort eye. I have ever observed, that colonnades of effect, which is different enough from this. and avenues of trees of a moderato length, were without comparison far grander, than

* Part IV. sect. 4, 5, 6.

« ZurückWeiter »