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circumstances of darkness and terror are applied for heightening the sublime. So, also, the prophet Habakkuk, in a similar passage: “He stood, and measured the earth; he beheld, and drove asunder the nations. The everlasting mountains were scattered; the perpetual hills did bow. His ways are everlasting. The mountains saw thee, and they trembled; the overflowing of the water passed by; the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high.”
The noted instance given by Longinus from MosesGod said, let there be light; and there was light"—is not liable to the censure, which was passed on some of his instances, of being foreign to the subject. It belongs to the true sublime; and the sublimity of it arises from the strong conception it gives of an exertion of power, producing its effect with the utmost speed and facility. A thought of the same kind is magnificently amplified in the following passage of Isaiah (chap. xliv. 24, 27, 28): “Thus saith the Lord, thy Redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb; I am the Lord that maketh all things, that stretcheth forth the heavens alone, that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself—that saith to the deep, Be dry, and I will dry up thy rivers; that saith of Cyrus, He is my Shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure; even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundations shall be laid.” There is a passage in the Psalms, which deserves to be mentioned under this head: “God,” says the Psalmist,“ stilleth the noise of the seas, the noise of their waves, and the tumults of the people.” The joining together two such grand objects, as the raging of the waters, and the tumults of the people, between which there is such resemblance as to form a very natural association in the fancy, and the representing them both as subject, at one moment, to the command of God, produces a noble effect.
Homer is a poet, who, in all ages, and by all critics, has been greatly admired for sublimity; and he owes much of his grandeur to that native and unaffected simplicity, which characterizes his manner. His description of hosts engaging; the animation, the fire, the rapidity, which he throws into his battles, present, to every reader of the Iliad, frequent instances of sublime writing. His introduction of the gods, tends often to heighten, in a striking degree, the majesty of his warlike scenes. Hence Longinus bestows such high and just commendations on that passage, in the
XVth Book of the Iliad, where Neptune, when preparing to issue forth into the engagement, is described as shaking the mountains with his steps, and driving his chariot along the ocean. Minerva arming herself for fight, in the Vth Book; and Apollo, in the XVth, leading on the Trojans, and flashing terror with his ægis on the face of the Greeks; are similar instances of great sublimity, added to the description of battles, by the appearance of those celestial beings. In the XXth Book, where all the gods take part in the engagement, according as they severally favour either the Grecians or the Trojans, the poet's genius is signally displayed, and the description rises into the most awful magnificence. All nature is represented as in commotion; Jupiter thunders in the heavens; Neptunc strikes the earth with his trident; the ships, the city, and the mountains shake; the earth trembles to its centre; Pluto starts from his throne in dread, lest the secrets of the infernal regions should be laid open to the view of mortals.
The works of Ossian abound with examples of the sublime. The subjects of which that author treats, and the manner in which he writes, are particularly favourable to it. He possesses all the plain and venerable manner of the ancient times. He deals in no s:perfluous or gaudy ornaments; but throws forth his images with a rapid conciseness, which enables them to strike the mind with the greatest force. Among poets of more polished times, we are to look for the graces of correct writing; for just proportion of parts, and skilfully-connected narration." In the midst of smiling scenery and pleasurable themes, the gay and beautiful will appear, undoubtedly, to more advantage; but amidst the rude scenes of nature and of society, such as Ossian describes-amidst rocks, and torrents, and whirlwinds, and battles---dwells the sublime; and naturally associates itself with the grave and solemn spirit which distinguishes the author of Fingal. “As autumn's dark storms pour from two echoing hills, so towards each other approached the heroes. As two dark streams from high rocks meet, and mix, and roar on the plain; loud, rough, and dark—in battle, met Lochlin and Innis-fail. Chief mixed his strokes with chief, and man with man. Steel clanging sounded on steel. Helmets are cleft on high; blood bursts, and smokes around. As the troubled noise of the ocean, when roll the waves ou
high; as the last peal of the thunder of heaven; snch is the noise of battle. As roll a thousand waves to the rock, so Swaran's host came on; as meets a rock a thousand waves, so Innis-fail met Swaran. Death raises a!! his voices around, and mixes with the sound of shields. The field echoes from wing to wing, as a hundred hammers that fall by turns on the red son of the furnace. As a hundred winds on Morven, as the streains of a hundred hills, as clouds fiy successive over the heavens, or as the dark ocean assaults the shore of the desert-so roaring, so vast, so terrible, the armies mixed on Lena's echoing heath. The groan of the people spread over the hills. It was like the thunder of night, when the clouds burst on Cona, and a thousand ghosts shriek at once on the hollow wind.” Never were images of more awful sublimity employed to heighten the terror of battle.
Reflections in Westminster Abbey. When I am in a serious humour, I very often walk by myself in Westminster Abbey; where the gloominess of the place, and the use to which it is applied, with the solemnity of the building, and the condition of the people who lie in it, are apt to fill the mind with a kind of melancholy, or rather thoughtfulness, that is not disagreeable I yesterday passed the whole afternoon in the church-yard, the cloisters, and the church; amusing myself with the tomb-stones and inscriptions that I met with in those several regions of the dead. Most of them recorded nothing else of the buried person, but that he was born upon one day, and died upon another—the whole history of his life being comprehended in those two circumstances, that are common to all mankind. I could not but look upon these registers of existence—whether brass or marble—as a kind of satire upon the departed persons; who had left no other memorial of them, but that they were born, and that they died.
Upon my going into the church, I entertained myself with the digging of a grave; and saw in every shovel-full of it that was thrown up, the fragment of a bone or skull-intermixed with a kind of a fresh mouldering earth, that some
a time or other had a place in the composition of a human oody. Upon this, I began to consider with myself what
innuinerable multitudes of people lay confused together, under the pavement of that ancient cathedral;—how men and women, friends and enemies, priests and soldiers, monks and prebendaries, were crumbled amongst one another, and blended together in the same common mass; how beauty, strength, and youth; with old age, weakness, and deformity, lay undistinguished in the same promiscuous heap of matter!
I know that entertainments of this nature are apt 10 raise dark and dismal thoughts in timorous minds, and gloomy imaginations: but, for my own part, thougli I am always serious, I do not know what it is to be melancholy; and can therefore take a view of Nature in her deep and solemn scenes, with the same pleasure as in her most gay and delightful ones. By this means I can improve myself with objects which others consider with terror. When I look upon the tombs of the great, every emotion of envy dies in me; when I read the epitaphs of the beautiful, every inordinate desire goes out: when I meet with the grief of parents upon a tomb-stone, my heart melts with compassion; when I see the tomb of the parents themselves, I consider the vanity of grieving for those whom we must quickly follow: When I see kings lying by those who deposed them, when I consider rival wits placed side by side, or the holy men that divided the world with their contest and disputes—I reflect, with sorrow and astonishment, on the little competitions, factions, and debates of mankind: When I read the several dates of the tombs—of some that died yesterday, and some six hundred years ago_1 consider that great day when we shall all of us be contempories, and make our appearance together! Addison.
Virtue, Man's Highest Interest. I FIND myself existing upon a little spot, surrounded every way by an immense unknown expansion.- Where 1? 'What sort of a place do I inhabit? Is it commodated, in every instance, to my cony there no excess of cold, none of heat, to I never annoyed by animals, either different? Is every thing subservie had ordered all myself?- No—noth from it possible. The world appe
made for the private convenience of me alone?- It does not.—But is it not possible so to accommodate it, by my own particular industry ?-If to accommodate man and veast, heaven and earth-if this be beyond me—it is not possible.--What consequence then follows? or can there be any other than this?—If I seek an interest of my own, detached from that of others, I seek an interest which is chimerical, and can never have existence.
How, then, must I determine? Have I no interest at all? If I have not, I am a fool for staying here: 'tis a smoky Jiouse, and the sooner out of it the better. But why no interest? Can I be contented with none, but one separate and detached ? Is a social interest, joined with others, such an absurdity as not to be admitted ? The bee, the beaver, and the tribes of herding animals, are enough to convince me that the thing is somewhere at least possible; how, then, am I assured that it is not equally true of man? Admit it; and what follows? If so, then honour and justice are my interest; then the whole train of moral virtues are my interest: without some portion of which, not even thieves can maintain society.
But farther still-I stop not here--I pursue this social interest as far as I can trace my several relations. I pass from my own stock, 'my own neighbourhood, my own nation, to the whole race of mankind, as dispersed throughout the earth-Am I not related to them all, by the mutual aids of commerce, by the general intercourse of arts and letters, by that common nature of which we all participate?
Again-I must have food and clothing. Without a proper genial warmth, I instantly perish. Am I not related, in this view, to the very earth itself? to the distant sun, from whose beams I derive vigour? to that stu course and order of the infinite host of heaven, by which the times and seasons ever uniformly pass on? Were this order once confounded, I could not probably survive a moment; so absolutely do I depend on this common general welfare. What, then, have I to do, but to enlarge virtue into piety? Not only honour and justice, and what I owe to man, is my interest; but gratitude also, acquiescence, resignation, adoration, and all I owe to this great polity, and its greater Governor-our common Parent!