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melodies of a summer evening; the sweet interchange of hill and dale, shade and sunshine, grove, lawn, and water, which an extensive landscape offers to the view; the scenery of the ocean, so lovely, so majestic, and so tremendous, and the many pleasing varieties of the animal and vegetable kingdom, could never afford so much real satisfaction, as the steams of a ballroom, or the wranglings of a card-table. But some minds there are of a different mould, who, even in the early part of life, receive from the contemplation of nature a species of delight which they would hardly exchange for any other; and who, as avarice and ambition are not the infirmities of that period, would, with equal sincerity and rapture, exclaim
"I care not, Fortune, what you me deny,
And I their toys to the great children leave : Of fancy, reason, virtue, nought can me bereave." Such minds have always in them the seeds of true taste, and frequently of imitative genius. At least, although their enthusiastic or visionary turn of mind, as the man of the world would call it, should not always incline them to cultivate poetry or painting, we need not scruple to affirm, that, without some portion of this enthusiasm, no person ever became a true poet or painter. For he who would imitate the works of nature, must accurately observe them, and accurate observation is to be expected from those only who take great pleasure in it. To a mind thus disposed no part of creation is indifferent. In the crowded city and howling wilderness, in the cultivated province and solitary isle, in the flowery lawn and craggy mountain, in the murmur of the rivulet and in the uproar of the ocean,
in the radiance of summer and gloom of winter, in the thunder of heaven and in the whisper of the breeze, he still finds something to rouse or to soothe his imagination, to draw forth his affections, or to employ his understanding. And from every mental energy that is not attended with pain, and even from some of those that are, as moderate terror and pity, a sound mind derives satisfaction; exercise being equally necessary to the body and the soul, and to both equally productive of health and pleasure. This happy sensibility to the beauties of nature should be cherished in young persons. It engages them to contemplate the Creator in his wonderful works; it purifies and harmonizes the soul, and prepares it for moral and intellectual discipline; it supplies a never-failing source of amusement; it contributes even to bodily health ; and, as a strict analogy subsists between material and moral beauty, it leads the heart by an easy transition from the one to the other, and thus recommends virtue for its transcendent loveliness, and makes vice appear the object of contempt and abomination. An intimate acquaintance with the best descriptive poets, joined to some practice in the art of drawing, will promote this amiable sensibility in early years; for then the face of nature has novelty superadded to its other charms, the passions are not pre-engaged, the heart is free from care, and the imagination warm and romantic.
19.—THE DOWNFAL OF BONAPARTE.
The downfal of Bonaparte is an impressive lesson to Ambition, and affords a striking illustration of the inevitable tendency of that passion to bring to ruin the power and the greatness which it seeks so madly to increase. No human being, perhaps, ever stood on so proud a pinnacle of worldly grandeur as Napoleon at the beginning of his Russian campaign. He had done more, he had acquired more, and he possessed more, as to actual power, influence, and authority, than any individual that ever figured on the scene of European story. He had visited, with a victorious army, almost every capital of the continent, and dictated the terms of peace to their astonished princes. He had consolidated under his immediate dominion a territory and population apparently sufficient to meet the combination of all that it did not include, and interwoven himself with the government of almost all that was left. He had cast down and erected thrones at his pleasure, and surrounded himself with tributary kings and principalities of his own creation. He had connected himself by marriage with the proudest of the ancient sovereigns, and was at the head of the largest and the finest army that was ever assembled to desolate or dispose of the world. Had he known where to stop in his aggressions upon the peace and independence of mankind, it seems as if this terrific sovereignty might have been permanently established in his person. But the demon by whom he was possessed urged him on to his fate. He could not bear that any power should exist which did not confess its dependence on him. Without a pretext for quarrel, he attacked Russia, insulted Austria, trod contemptuously on the fallen fortunes of Prussia, and, by new aggressions, and the menace of more intolerable evils, drove them into that league which rolled back the tide of ruin on himself, and ultimately hurled him into the insignificance from which he originally sprung.
It is not easy to describe in words the precise impression which great and sublime objects make upon us when we behold them; but every one has a conception of it. It produces a sort of internal elevation and expansion; it raises the mind much above its ordinary state, and fills it with a degree of wonder and astonishment which it cannot well express. The emotion is certainly delightful, but it is altogether of the serious kind; a degree of awfulness and solemnity, even approaching to severity, commonly attends it when at its height, very distinguisbable from the more gay and brisk emotion raised by beautiful objects.
The simplest form of external grandeur appears in the vast and boundless prospects presented to us by nature; such as wide extended plains, to which the eye can see no limits, the firmament of heaven, or the boundless expanse of the ocean. All vastness produces the impression of sublimity. It is to be remarked, however, that space, extended in length, makes not 80 strong an impression as height or depth. Though a boundless plain is a grand object, yet a high mountain, to which we look up, or an awful precipice or tower, whence we look down on the objects which lie below, is still more so. The excessive grandeur of the firmament arises from its height, joined to its boundless extent; and that of the ocean, not from its extent alone, but from the perpetual motion and irresistible force of that mass of waters. Wherever
is concerned, it is clear that amplitude or greatness of extent, in one dimension or other, is necessary to grandeur. Remove all bounds from any object, and you presently render it sublime. Hence infinite space, endless numbers, and eternal duration, fill the mind with great ideas.
From this some have imagined that vastness or amplitude of extent is the foundation of all sublimity. But I cannot be of that opinion, because many objects appear sublime which have no relation to space at all. Such, for instance, is great loudness of sound. The burst of thunder or of cannon, the roaring of winds, the shouting of multitudes, the sound of vast cataracts of water, are all incontestably grand objects. “I heard the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters, and of mighty thunderings, saying, Hallelujah." In general we may observe, that great power and force exerted, always raise sublime ideas; and perhaps the most copious source of these is derived from this quarter. Hence the grandeur of earthquakes, and burning mountains, of great conflagrations, of the stormy ocean, and overflowing waters, of tempests of wind, of thunder and lightning, and of all the uncommon violence of the elements; nothing is more sublime than mighty power and strength. A stream that runs within its banks is a beautiful object; but when it rushes down with the impetuosity and noise of a torrent, it presently becomes a sublime one. From lions and other animals of strength are drawn sublime comparisons in poets. A racehorse is looked upon with pleasure, but it is the warhorse, “whose neck is clothed with thunder," that carries grandeur in its idea. The engagement of two great armies, as it is the highest exertion of human might, combines a variety of sources of the sublime, and has accordingly been always considered as one of the most striking and magnificent spectacles that can be either presented to the eye, or exhibited to the imagination in description.
I HARDLY think that we can have a more striking proof of the prejudices of modern infidels, than in their attempt to compare this motley composition, the Koran, to the writings of the Old and New Testament. Let the reader but take the trouble to peruse the history of Joseph by Mahomet, which is the subject of a very long chapter, and to compare it with the account of that patriarch given by Moses, and if he does not perceive at once the immense inferiority of the former, I shall never, for my part, undertake by argument to convince him of it. To me it appears even almost incredible, that the most beautiful and most affecting passages of Holy Writ should have been so wretchedly disfigured by a writer, whose intention, we are certain, was not to burlesque them. Poverty of sentiment, monstrosity of invention, which always betokens a distempered, not a rich imagination, and, with respect to diction, the most turgid verbosity, so apt to be mistaken by persons of a vitiated taste for true sublimity, are the genuine characteristics of the book. They appear almost in every line. The very titles and epithets assigned to God are not exempt from them. The Lord of the daybreak, the Lord of the magnificent throne, the king of the day of judgment. They are pompous and insignificant. If the language of the Koran, as the Mahometans pretend, is indeed the language of God, the thoughts are but too evidently the thoughts of men. The reverse of this is the character of the Bible. When God speaks to men, it is reasonable to think, that he addresses them in their own lang ge. In the Bible you will see nothing inflated, nothing affected in the style. The words are human, but the sentiments are divine. Accordingly there is perhaps no book in the world which suffers less by a literal translation into any other language.
Dr G. CAMPBELL,