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O produce this sort of tension, either by the they are, may be somewhat hard to settle: but primary operation of the mind or the body. that it does make use of such, appears from With regard to such things as affect by the hence; that a long exercise of the mentai associated idea of danger, there can be no powers induces a remarkable lassitude of the loubt but that they produce terrour, and act by whole body; and on the other hand that great some modification of that passion; and that bodily labour, or pain, weakens and sometimes terrour, when sufficiently violent, raises the actually destroys the mental faculties. Now, emotions of the body just mentioned, can as as a due exercise is essential to the coarse átte be doubted. But if the sublime is built on muscular parts of the constitution, and that lerrour, or some passion like it, which has pain without this rousing they would become languid for its object, it is previously proper to enquire and diseased, the very same rule holds with how any species of delight can be derived regard to those finer parts we have mentioned ; from a cause so apparently contrary to it. I to have them in proper order, they must be say delight, because, as I have often remarked, shaken and worked to a proper degree. it is very evidently different in its cause, and ia its own nature, from actual and positive pleasure.
EXERCISE NECESSARY FOR THE FINER
ORGANS. HOW PAIN CAN BE A CAUSE OF DELIGHT.
As common labour, which is a mode of pain, PROVIDENCE has so ordered it, that a state is the exercise of the grosser, a mode of terrour of rest and inaction, however it may flatter our is the exercise of the finer parts of the system; indolence, should be productive of many incon- and if a certain mode of pain be of such a na veniences; that it should generate such disor- ture as to act upon the eye or the ear, as they ders, as may force us to have recourse to some are the most delicate organs, the affection ap.labour, as a thing absolutely requisite to make proaches more nearly to that which has a us pass our lives with tolerable satisfaction; mental cause. In all these cases, if the pain for the nature of rest is to suffer all the parts of and terrour are so modified as not to be actuour bodies to fall into a relaxation, that not ally noxious; if the pain is not carried to vioonly disables the members from performing lence, and the terrour is not conversant about their functions, but takes away the vigorous the present destruction of the person, as these tone of fibre which is requisite for carrying on emotions clear the parts, whether fine or gross, the natural and necessary secretions. At the of a dangerous and troublesome incumbrance, same time, that in this languid inactive state, they are capable of producing delight; not the nerves are more liable to the most horrid pleasure, but a sort of delightful horrour, a sort convulsions, than when they are sufficiently of tranquillity tinged with terrour ; which, as it braced and strengthened. Melancholy, dejec- belongs to self-preservation, is one of the tion, despair, and often self-murder, is the con- strongest of all the passions. Its object is the sequence of the gloomy view we take of things sublime.* Its highest degree I call astonishin this relaxed state of body. The best remedy ment; the subordinate degrees are awe, revefor all these evils is exercise or labour ; and rence, and respect, which by the very etymo. labour is a surmounting of difficulties, an exertion logy of the words, shew from what source they of the contracting power of the muscles; and as are derived, and how they stand distinguished such resembles pain, which consists in tension from positive pleasure. or contraction, in every thing but degree. Labour is not only requisite to preserve the coarser organs in a state fit for their functions; but it is equally necessary to these finer and more
SECTION VIII. delicate organs, on which, and by which, the
WHY THINGS NOT DANGEROUS PRODUCE A magination and perhaps the other mental powers act. Since it is probable, that not only the inferiour parts of the soul, as the passions TA MODE of terrour or pain is always the are called, but the understanding itself makes cause of the sublime. For terrour, or assouse of some fine corporeal instruments in its operation; though what they are, and where | Part I. sect. 7. Part 11. sect. 2 VOL. 1.–6
PASSION LIKE TERROUR.
* Part II. sect. 2.
ciated danger, the foregoing explication is, I impression at once; or, making but one im believe, sufficient. It will require something pression of a point at a time, it causes a suc more trouble to shew, that such examples as I cession of the same or others so quickly as to have given of the subl
in the second part,
nake them seem united; as is evident from the are capable of producing a mode of pain, and common effect of whirling about a lighted torch of being thus allied to terrour, and to be ac. or piece of wood: which if done with celerity. counted for on the same principles. And first seems a circle of fire. of such objects as are great in their dimensions. I speak of visual objects.
UNITY WHY REQUISITE TO VASTNESS.
WHY VISUAL OBJECTS OF GREAT DIMENSIONS
It may be objected to this theory, that the eye generally receives an equal number of rays
at all times, and that therefore a great object Vision is performed by having a picture cannot affect it hy the number of rays, more formed by the rays of light which are reflected than that variety of objects which the eye must from the object painted in one piece, instanta- always discern whilst it remains open. But te neously, on the retina, or last nervous part of this I answer, that admitting an equal number the eye. Or, according to others, there is but of rays, or an equal quantity of luminous parti one point of any object painted on the eye in cles to strike the eye at all times, yet if these such a manner as to be perceived at once; but rays frequently vary their nature, now to blue by moving the eye, we gather up, with great now to red, and so on, or their manner of tercelerity, the several parts of the object, so as to mination, as to a number of petty squares, tri form one uniform piece. If the former opinion angles, or the like, at every change, whether of be allowed, it will be considered,* that though colour or shape, the organ has a sort of relax all the light reflected from a large body should ation or rest; but this relaxation and labour se strike the eye in one instant; yet we must sup- often interrupted, is by no means productive of pose that the body itself is formed of a vast ease ; neither has it the effect of vigorous and number of distinct points, every one of which, uniform labour. Whoever has remarked the or the ray from every one, makes an impression different effects of some strong exercise, and on the retina. So that, though the image of some little piddling action, will understand one point should cause but a small tension of why a teasing fretful employment, which at this membrane, another, and another, and once wearies and weakens the body, should another stroke, must in their progress cause a have nothing great; these sorts of impulses, very great one, until it arrives at last to the which are rather teasing than painful, by conhighest degree; and the whole capacity of the tinually and suddenly altering their tenour and cye, vibrating in all its parts, must approach direction, prevent that full tension, that species near to the nature of what causes pain, and of uniform labour, which is allied to strong consequently must produce an idea of the sub- pain, and causes the sublime. The sum total lime. Again, if we take it, that one point only of things of various kinds, though it should of an object is distinguishablo at once; the equal the number of the uniform parts com matter will amount nearly to the same thing, or posing some one entire object, is not equal in rather it will make the origin of the sublime its effect upon the organs of our bodies. Be from greatness of dimension yet clearer. Forsides the one already assigned, there is another f but one point is observed at once, the eye very strong reason for the difference. The must traverse the vast space of such bodies mind in reality hardly ever can attend dili with great quickness, and consequently the fine gently to more than one thing at a time; if this nerves and muscles destined to the motion of ihing be little, the effect is little, and a number that part must be very much strained ; and of other little objects cannot engage the atten their great sensibility must make them highly tion; the mind is bounded by the bounds of the affected by this straining. Besides, it signifies object ; and what is not attended to, and what just nothing to the effect produced, whether a does not exist, are much the same in effect; but body has its parts connected and makes its the eye or the mind (for in this case there is
no difference) in great uniform objects does * Part II. sect 7
not readily arrive at their bounds ; it has no rest, whilst ii contemplates diem; the image a pitch as to be capable of the sublime; it is is much the same every whers. So that every brought just to the verge of pain. Even when thing great by its quantity must necessarily be the cause has ceased, the organs of hearing one, simple and entire.
being often successively struck in a similar manner, continue to vibrate in that manner for some time longer; this is an additional help to
the greatness of the effect. SECTION XI.
THE ARTIFICIAL INFINITE.
THE VIBRATIONS MUST BE SIMILAR.
SECTION XII. We have observed, that a species of greatness arises from the artificial infinite ; and that this infinite consists in an uniform succession of great parts : we observed too, that the same But if the vibration be not similar at every uniform succession had a like power in sounds. impression, it can never be carried beyond the But because the effects of many things are number of actual impressions; for, move any clearer in one of the senses than in another, body as a pendulum, in one way, and it will and that all the senses bear analogy to, and continue to oscillate in an arch of the same illustrate one another, I shall begin with this circle, until the known causes make it rest; power in sounds, as the cause of the sublimity but if after first putting it in motion in one from succession is rather more obvious in the direction, you push it into another, it can sense of hearing. And I shall here once for all, never reassume the first direction; because it observe, that an investigation of the natural can never move itself, and consequently it can and mechanical causes of our passions, besides have but the effect of that last motion; whereas, the curiosity of the subject, gives, if they are if in the same direction you act upon it several discovered, a double strength and lustre to any times, it will describe a greater arch, and move rules we deliver on such matters. When the a longer time. ear receives any simple sound, it is struck by a single pulse of the air, which makes the eardrum and the other membranous parts vibrate
SECTION XIIL according to the nature and species of the stroke. If the stroke be strong, the organ of THE EFFECT OF SUCCESSION IN VISUAL OBhearing suffers a considerable degree of ten
JECTS EXPLAINED. sion. If the stroke be repeated pretty soon after, the repetition causes an expectation of If we can comprehend clearly how things another stroke. And it must be observed, that operate upon one of our senses, there can be very expectation itself causes a tension. This is little difficulty in conceiving in what manner apparent in many animals, who, when they they affect the rest. To say a great deal thereprepare for hearing any sound, rouse them- fore upon the corresponding affections of every selves, and prick up their ears: so that here sense, would tend rather to fatigue us by an the effect of the sounds is considerably aug- useless repetition, than to throw any new light mented by a new auxiliary, the expectation. upon the subject, by that ample and diffuse But though after a number of strokes, we ex- manner of treating it; but as in this discourse pect still more, not being able to ascertain the we chiefly attach ourselves to the sublime, as it exact time of their arrival, when they arrive, affects the eye, we shall consider particularly they produce a sort of surprise, which increases why a successive disposition of uniform parts this tension yet further. For I have observed in the same right line should be sublime,* and that when at any time I have waited very ear- upon what principle this disposition is enabled nestly for some sound, that returned at inter- to make a comparatively small quantity of matvals, (as the successive firing of cannon,) ter produce a grander effect, than a much larger though I fully expected the return of the sound, quantity disposed in another manner. To when it came it always made me start a little; avoid the perplexity of general notions; let us the ear-drum suffered a convulsion, and the set before our eyes acolonnade of uniform piiwhole body consented with it. The tension of lars planted in a right line; let us take our stand the part thus increasing at every blow, by the . in such a manner, that the eye may shoot along united forces of the stroke itself, the expectatim, and the surprise, it is worked up to such
* Part II. sect. 10
this colonnade, for it has its best effect in this so powerfully affected with any on, impulse, riew. In our present situation it is plain, that unless it be one of a prodigious force indeed, the rays from the first round pillar will cause in as we are with a succession of similar impulses; the eye a vibration of that species ; an image because the nerves of the sensory do not (if I of the piller itself. The pillar immediately may use the expression) acquire a habit of re succeeding increases it; that which follows peating the same feeling in such a manner as renews and enforces the impression ; each in to continue it longer than its cause is ir action; its order as it succeeds, repeats impulse after besides all the effects which I have attributed impulse, and stroke after stroke, until the to expectation and surprise in sect. 11, can eye, long exercised in one particular way, can- have no place in a bare wall. not lose that object immediately; and being violently roused by this continued agitation, it presents the mind with a grand or sublime conception. But instead of viewing a
SECTION XIV. rank of uniform pillars; let us suppose that they succeed each other, a round and a square LOCKE'S OPINION CONCERNING DARKNESS one alternately. In this case the vibration caused by the first round pillar perishes as soon as it is formed; and one of quite another sort It is Mr. Locke's opinion, that darkness is (the square) directly occupies its place ; which not naturally an idea of terrour; and that though however it resigns as quickly to the round one ; an excessive light is painful to the sense, that and thus the eye proceeds, alternately, taking the greatest excess of darkness is no ways trouup one image, and laying down another, as blesome. He observes indeed in another place, long as the building continues. From whence that a nurse or an old woman having once it is obvious, that at the last pillar, the impres- associated the idea of ghosts and goblins with sion is as far from continuing as it was at the that of darkness, night ever after becomes very first; because in fact, the sensory can re- painful and horrible to the imagination. The ceive no distinct impression but from the last; authority of this great man is doubtless as great and it can never of itself resuine a dissimilar as that of any man can be, and it seems to impression: besides every variation of the ob- stand in the way of our general principle.* ject is a rest and relaxation to the organs of We have considered darkness as a cause of the sight; and these reliefs prevent that powerful sublime; and we have all along considered the emotion so necessary to produce the sublime. sublime as depending on some modification of To produce therefore a perfect grandeur in such pain or terrour: so that if darkness be no way things as we have been mentioning, there should painful or terrible to anty, who have not had be a perfect simplicity, an absolute uniformity their minds early tainted with superstitions, it in disposition, shape, and colouring. Upon this can be no source of the sublime to them. But, principle of succession and uniformity it may with all deference to such an authority, it seems be asked, why a long bare wall should not be a to me, that an association of a more general more sublime object than a colonnade ; since the nature, an association which takes in all mansuccession is no way interrupted; since the skind, may make darkness terrible; for in utter eye meets no check; since nothing mord uni- darkness it is impossible to know in what form can be conceived ? A long bare wall is degree of safety we stand; we are ignorant of certainly not so grand an object as a colonnade the objects that surround us; we may every of the same length and height. It is not alto moment strike against some dangerous obstrucgether difficult to account for this difference. tion ; we may fall down a precipice the first When we look at a naked wall, from the even- step we take; and if an enemy approach, we ness of the object, the eye runs along its whole know not in what quarter to defend ourselves; space, and arrives quickly at its termination; in such a case strength is no sure protection; the eye meets nothing which may interrupt its wisdom can only act by guess; the boldest are progress ; but then it meets nothing which may staggered, and he who would pray for nothing detain it a proper time to produce a very great else towards his defence is forced to pray fur and lasting effect. The view of a bare wall, light. if it be of a great height and length, is undoubtedly grand; but this is only one idea, and
Ζευ πατερ, αλλα συ δυσαι υπ’ ηερος υιας Αχαιων
Ποιησον δ' αιθρην, δος δ' οφθαλμοισιν ιδεσθαι not a repetition of similar ideas: it is therefore Ev ós paci kai odcooov. great, not so much upon the principle of infinity, as upon that of vastness. But we are not
* Part II. sect. 3.
WHY DARKXESS JS TERRIBLE.
DARKNESS TERRIBLE IN ITS OWN NATURE.
As to the association of ghosts, and goblins; nection with pleasing ones. They had both wirely it is more natural to think, that darkness, probably their effects from their natural operabeing originally an idea of terrour, was chosen tion. as a fit scene for such terrible representations, than that such representations have made darkness terrible. The mind of man very easily
SECTION XVI. slides into an errour of the former sort; but it is very hard to imagine, that the effect of an idea so universally terrible in all times, and in all countries, as darkness, could possibly have It may be worth while to examine how darkbeen owing to a set of idle stories, or to any ness can operate in such a manner as to cause cause of a nature so trivial, and of an operation pain. It is observable, that still as we recede so precarious.
from the light, nature has so contrived it, that the pupil is enlarged by the retiring of the iris,
in proportion to our recess. Now, instead of SECTION XV.
declining from it but a little, suppose that we withdraw entirely from the light; it reasonable to think, that the contraction of the radial
fibres of the iris is proportionably greater; and PERHAPS it may appear on inquiry, that that this part may by great darkness come to blackness and darkness are in some degree be so contracted, as to strain the nerves that painful by their natural operation, independent compose it beyond their natural tone ; and by of any associations whatsoever. I must ob- this means to produce a painful sensation. Such serve, that the ideas of darkness and blackness a tension it seems there certainly is, whilst we are much the same; and they differ only in this, are involved in darkness; for in such a state that blackness is a more confined idea. Mr. whilst the eye remains open, there is a contiCheselden has given us a very curious story of nual nisus to receive light; this is manifest from a boy, who had been born blind, and continued the flashes and luminous appearances which so until he was thirteen or fourteen years old; often seem in these circumstances to play beforo he was then couched for a cataract, by which it; and which can be nothing but the effect o. operation he received his sight. Among many spasms, produced by its own efforts in pursui remarkable particulars that attended his first of its object ; several other strong impulses wil. perceptions and judgments on visual objects, produce the idea of light in the eye, besides Cheselden tells us, that the first time the boy the substance of light itself, as we experience saw a black object, it gave him great uneasi- on many occasions. Some who allow darkness ness; and that some time after, upon acciden- to be a cause of the sublime, would infer, from tally seeing a negro woman, he was struck with the dilatation of the pupil, that a relaxation may great horrour at the sight. The horrour, in this be productive of the sublime, as well as concase, can scarcely be supposed to arise from vulsion: but they do not I believe consider that any association. The boy appears by the although the circular ring of the iris be in some account to have been particularly observing and sense a sphincter, which may possibly be sensible for one of his age; and therefore it is dilated by a simple relaxation, yet in one reprobable, if the great uneasiness he felt at the spect it differs from most of the other sphincfirst sight of black had arisen from its connection ters of the body, that it is furnished with antawith any other disagreeable ideas, he would have gonist muscles, which are the radial fibres of observed and mentioned it. For an idea, dis- the iris ; no sooner does the circular muscle agreeable only by association, has the cause of begin to relax, than these fibres, wanting their its ill effect on the passions evident enough at counterpoise, are forcibly drawn back, and open the first impression; in ordinary cases, it is the pupil to a considerable wideness. But indeed frequently lost ; but this is, because the though we were not apprised of this, I believe original association was made very early, and any one will find, if he opens his eyes and the consequent impression repeated often. In makes an effort to see in a dark place, that a our isistance, there was no time for such an very perceivable pain ensues. And I have habit; and there is no reason to think that the heard some ladies remark, that after having ill effects of black on his imagination were worked a long time upon a ground of black, more owing to its connection with any disagree their eyes were so pained and weakened, they able ideas, than that the good effects of more could hardly see. It may perhaps be objected to cheerful colours were derived from their con this theory of the mechanical effect of dark