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outward senses, but is rather presented to the mind as an object of inward suggestion. Nevertheless, the causes of this suggestion may exist in outward objects; and, whenever this is the case, the feelings with which we contemplate such objects are generally increased. In other words, whatever sublimity may characterize an object, if, in addition to its other sublime traits, it strongly suggests to us the idea of power, the sublime feeling is more or less heightened by this suggestion.
Nothing can be more sublime than a volcano throwing out from its bosom clouds, and burning stones, and immense rivers of lava. And it is unquestionable, that the sublime emotion is attributable, in part, to the overwhelming indications of power which are thus given. An earthquake is sublime; not only in its mightier efforts of destruction, but hardly less so in those slighter tremblings and heavings of the earth which indicate the footsteps of power rather than of ruin. The ocean, greatly agitated with a storm, and tossing the largest navies as if in sport, possesses an increase of sublimity on account of the more striking indications of power which it at such a time gives. The shock of large armies, also, which concentrates the most terrible exhibition of human energy, is attended with an increased sublimity for the same
But in all these instances, as in most others, the sublime emotion cannot be ascribed solely to one cause; something is to be attributed to vast extent; something to the original effect of the brilliancy or darkness of colours; and something to feelings of dread and danger.
$ 62. Of moral worth in connexion with sublimity. A consciousness of the feeling of the sublime is not limited to suggestions of POWER.
There are other mental attributes which, under certain circumstances, are attended with the same effect. In general, all those feelings which are of a praiseworthy character, such as sympathy, benevolence, and the sentiment of justice, may become sublime when put forth under such circumstances as strongly to affect our hearts. The man who, in support of some great moral or religious principle, not only surrenders his property, but calmly and triumphantly sac
rifices his life, is, in the highest sense, a sublime object of contemplation.This is a topic of no small interest. But as, under the head of the Moral Sublime, it will be made the subject of a distinct chapter, it is unnecessary to delay upon it here.
Ø 63. Sublime objects have some elements of beauty. We have seen at the commencement of this chapter, that a regular progression may in most instances be traced from the beautiful to the sublime. It seems, therefore, to follow, that instances of the sublime will, on the removal of some circumstances, possess more or less of the beautiful. And this, on examination, will be found to be generally the case. Take, as an example, the shock of powerful armies, which is confessedly a sublime
We have only to remove the circumstance of slaughter, and at once the regular order of the troops, their splendid dress and rapid movements, together with the floating of banners and the sound of music, are exceedingly picturesque and beautiful; nothing more so. And all this, in point of fact, is probably none the less beautiful when thousands are falling and dying in actual contest; although the painful emotion consequent on witnessing a scene of slaughter so much overpowers the sense of the beautiful, that it appears even not to have an existence. If 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 anything 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.
Ø 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 fulness 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.
Ø 65. Of the original or primary sublimity of objects. If there be a connexion between the beautiful and sublime; if beauty, grandeur, and sublimity are only names for various emotions, not so much 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 whatever 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 connexion 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 clifficult 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
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 sublimity 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 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 char
* See Letters of Lord Lyttleton, xxv., and Teignmouth's Life of Sir William Jones, Am. ed.,