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the engagement between the armies should be without the accompaniments of military dress, and without order, and without strains of music, but a mere struggle between man and man, with such arms as came readiest into their power, the scene, however destructive and terrible, would be any thing, rather than sublime.
A multitude of other instances, particularly such as are drawn from the works of nature, would seem to illustrate the same general fact. Diminish the force of the whirlwind to that of the gentle breeze, and as it playfully sweeps by us, we feel that emotion of pleasure, which is an element of the beautiful. And so when the mighty cataract is dwindled down to the cascade, we shall discover, that the tumultuous emotions of the sublime are converted into the gentler feelings of beauty.
However true it may be, as a general statement, that sublimity implies some elements of the beautiful, it is not necessary to assert, that this is always the case. Perhaps in some instances it is not. As an illustration, some will think, it is not very evident, that barren heaths and sandy plains of small extent have any portion of beauty; and still, when they are spread abroad before us to great extent, and especially when seen from the summit of some elevated object, they may have a considerable degree of the sublime. The statement given is meant as a general one, admitting certainly of but few exceptions.
§. 64. Emotions of grandeur. For all the various emotions, of which we are now speaking, as they rise from the lowest to the highest, we have the two general terms, BEAUTY, and SUBLIMITY. There is, however, another form of expression, which is, with some good reason, putting forth its claims to be received into use ; viz. emotions of grandeur. We may happily apply this phraseology to various objects, which we hardly know, whether to class with the beautiful or sublime; having too much of fullness and expansiveness for the former, and too little of power for the latter. The meandering river is beautiful ; as it becomes deeper and wider, it assumes an appearance not of mere beauty but of grandeur ; but the ocean only is more than either, is sublime.
$. 65. Of the original or primary sublimity of objects. If there be a connection between the beautiful and sublime, if beauty, grandeur, and sublimity are only names for various emotions, not so inuch differing in kind, as in degree ; essentially the same views, which were advanced in respect to beauty, will hold here. It will follow, if the contemplation of some objects is attended with emotions of beauty, independently of associated feelings; or, in other words, if they have a primary or original beauty, that there are objects also originally sublime. Hence we may conclude, that what. ever has great height, or great depth, or vast extent, or other attributes of the sublime, will be able to excite in us emotions of sublimity of themselves, independently of the subordinate or secondary aid, arising from any connected feelings. We have much ground for regarding this as a correct supposition. We have good reason to believe, that our Creator has appointed certain objects, or perhaps we should say, certain forms or conditions of objects, as antecedent to THE SUBLIME within us.
§. 66. Considerations in proof of the original sublimity of objects.
It may be inferred, that there is such primary or original sublimity, not only in view of the connection, which has been stated to exist between the beautiful and sublime, but because it is no doubt agreeable to the common experience of men. But in resting the proposition, (where undoubtedly it ought to rest,) on experience, we must inquire, as in former chapters, into the feelings of the young. And this, for the obvious reason, that, when persons are somewhat advanced in age, it is difficult to separate the primary from the secondary or associated sublimity. They have then become inextricably mingled together. Now take a child, and place him suddenly on the shores of the ocean, or in full sight of darkly wooded mountains of great altitude, or before the clouds and fires and thunders of volcanoes; and, in most cases, he will be filled with sublime emotions; his mind will swell at the perception; it will heave to and fro, like the ocean itself in a tempest. His eye, his countenance, his gestures will indicate a power of internal feeling, which the limited language he can command is unable to express. This may well be stated as a fact, because it has been frequently noticed by those who are competent to observe.
Again, if a person can succeed in conveying to a child by means of words sublime ideas of whatever kind, similar emotions will be found to exist, although generally in a less degree, than when objects are directly presented to the senses. By way of confirming this, a statement of the younger Lord Lyttleton, who seems to have been naturally a person of much sensibility, may be appealed to. He relates, that, when quite a boy, he was very forcibly struck with reading the following sublime passage of Milton.
“He spake ; and to confirm his words, out-flew
"Far round illumined Hell. An instance still more to the purpose, because the precise age is specified, is that of Sir William Jones. “In his fifth year, as he was one morning turning over the leaves of a Bible in his mother's closet, his attention was forcibly arrested by the sublime description of the angel in the tenth chapter of the Apocalypse ; and the impression which his imagination received from it was never effaced. At a period of mature judgment he considered the passage as equal in subliinity to any in the inspired writers, and far superior to any that could be produced from mere human compositions; and he was fond of retracing and mentioning the rapture which he felt, when he first read it.” The passage referred to is as follows. “And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven clothed with a cloud ; and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire."
§. 67. Influence of association on emotions of sublimity. Granting, therefore, that sublime emotions are in part original, still it is unquestionably true, that a considerable share of them is to be attributed to association. As an illustration, we may refer to the effects of sounds. When a sound suggests ideas of danger, as the report of artillery, and the howling of a storm ; when it calls up recollections of
* See Letters of Lord Lyttleton, xxv, and Teignmouth's Life of Sir Wm. Jones, Am. Ed. p. 14.
mighty power, as the fall of a cataract, and the rumbling of an earthquake, the emotion of sublimity, which we feel, is greatly increased by such suggestions. Few simple sounds are thought to have more of sublimity than the report of a cannon ; but how different, how much greater the strength of feeling than on other occasions, whenever we hear it coming to us from the fields of actual conflict! Many sounds, which are in themselves inconsiderable, and are not much different from many others, to which we do not attach the character of sublimity, become highly sublime by association. There is frequently a low feeble sound, preceding the coming of a storm, which has this character.
“Along the woods, along the moorish fens,
Thompson's Winter. It is sometimes the case, that people, whose sensibilities are much alive to thunder, mistake for it some common sounds, such as the noise of a carriage, or the rumbling of a cart. While they are under this mistake, they feel these sounds as sublime; because they associate with them all those ideas of danger and of mighty power, which they customarily associate with thunder. The hoot of the owl at midnight is sublime chiefly by association ; also the scream of the eagle, heard amid rocks and deserts. The latter is particularly expressive of fierce and lonely independence ; and both are connected in our remembrance with some striking poetical passages.
$. 68. Further illustrations of sublimity from association.
The same results will be found to hold good in other cases. The sight of broken and heavy masses of dark clouds, driven about by the wind, is sublime. But how much more fruitful of emotion to those, who, in the days of Fingal and Ossian, saw them, in their prolific imaginations, peopled with the ghosts of the dead; with the assemblies of those, whose renown had continued to live long after their bodies had returned to the dust!Temora's woods shook with the blast of the inconstant wind. A cloud gathered in the West. A red star looked from behind its edge. I stood in the wood
alone ; I saw a ghost in the darkened air ; his stride extended from hill to hill. His shield was 'dim on his side. It was the son of Semo."*
A view of the Egyptian pyramids animates us with sublime emotions; it is impossible to behold such vast efforts of human power, and be unmoved; but the strength of these feelings is increased by means of the deeply impressive recollection, that they have stood unshaken, while successive generations have flourished and perished at their feet, and by their being connected with many ideas of ancient magnificence, and with the suggestion of once renowned but now unknown kings and conquerers. Mount Sinai in Arabia Petræa is a rocky pile of considerable altitude, and like other summits must have always excited some emotion in those, who beheld it ; but when it is seen by a Christian traveller, the sublime emotion is greatly increased by the recollection of the importance, which this summit holds in the history of the Jews, and of its consequent connection with the belief and the hopes of all those, who embrace the religion of the Bible.
• Ossian, Epic Poem of Temora, Bk, I.