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a flowing river, a spreading oak, a round hill, an extended plain, are delightful; and even a rugged rock or barren heath, though in themselves disagreeable, contribute, by contrast, to the beauty of the whole. Joining to these, the verdure of the fields, the mixture of light and shade, and the sublime canopy spread over all; it will not appear wonderful, that so extensive a group of splendid objects should swell the heart to its utmost bounds, and raise the strongest emotion of grandeur. The spectator is conscious of an enthusiasm, which cannot bear confinement, nor the strictness of regularity and order: he loves to range at large; and is so enchanted with magnificent objects, as to overlook slight beauties or deformities.
The same observation is applicable, in some measure, to works of art: in a small building, the slightest irregularity is disagreeable; but, in a magnificent palace, or a large Gothic church, irregularities are less regarded: in an epic poem we pardon many negligences that would not be permitted in a sonnet or epigram. Notwithstanding such exceptions, it may be justly laid down for a rule, that in works of art, order and regularity ought to be governing principles: and hence the observation of Longinus,* “In works of art we have regard to exact proportion; in those of nature, to grandeur and magnificence."
The same reflections are, in a good measure, applicable to sublimity; particularly, that, like grandeur, it is a species of agreeableness; that a beautiful object placed high, appearing more agreeable than formerly, produces in the spectator a new emotion, termed the emotion of sublimity; and that the perfection of order, regularity, and proportion, is less required in objects placed high, or at a distance, than at hand.
The pleasant emotion raised by large objects, has not escaped the poets :
He doth bestride the narrow world
Cleopatra. I dreamt there was an Emp'ror Antony;
Hamlet, Act III. Sc. 8. The poets have also made good use of the emotion produced by the elerated situation of an object :
Quod si me lyricis vatibus inseres,
* Chap. 30
Amongst the lyric bards let me be read,
High as the stars shall rise my lofty head.
Richard II. Act V. Sc. 2.
To be trod out by Cæsar ? Dryden, All for Love, Act I. The description of Paradise in the fourth book of Paradise Lost, is a fine illustration of the impression made by elevated objects:
So on he fares, and to the border comes
Appear'd with gay enamel'd colors mix'd. B. 4. 1. 131. Though a grand object is agreeable, we must not infer that a little object is disagreeable; which would be unhappy for man, considering that he is surrounded with so many objects of that kind. The same holds with respect to place: a body placed high is agreeable; but the same body placed low, is not, by that circumstance, rendered disagreeable. Littleness and lowness of place are precisely similar in the following particular, that they neither give pleasure nor pain. And in this may visibly be discovered peculiar attention in fitting the internal constitution of man to his external circumstances. Were littleness and lowness of place agreeable, greatness and elevation could not be so: were littleness and lowness of place disagreeable, they would occasion perpetual uneasiness.
The difference between great and little with respect to agreeableness, is remarkably felt in a series, when we pass gradually from the one extreme to the other. A mental progress from the capital to the kingdom, from that to Europe—to the whole earth-to the planetary system-to the universe, is extremely pleasant: the heart swells, and the mind is dilated, at every step. The returning in an opposite direction is not positively painful, though our pleasure lessens at every step; till it vanishes into indifference: such a progress may sometimes produce pleasure of a different sort, which arises from
taking a narrower and narrower inspection. The same observation
Topple down headlong. King Lear, Act IV. Sc. 6.
The foregoing observation leads us to consider grandeur and sublimity in a figurative sense, and as applicable to the fine arts. Hitherto these terms have been taken in their proper sense, as ap plicable to objects of sight only: and it was of importance to bestow some pains upon that article; because, generally speaking, the figurative sense of a word is derived from its proper sense, which holds remarkably at present. Beauty in its original signification is confined to objects of sight; but, as many other objects, intellectual as well as moral, raise emotions resembling that of beauty, the resemblance of the effects prompts us to extend the term beauty to these objects. This equally accounts for the terms grandeur and sublimity taken in a figurative sense. Every motion, from whatever cause
* Kempfer's History of Japan, b. 5. chap, 2.
it proceeds, that resembles an emotion of grandeur 'or elevation, is called by the same name: thus generosity is said to be an elevated emotion, as well as great courage; and that firmness of soul which is superior to misfortunes, obtains the peculiar name of magnanimity. On the other hand, every emotion that contracts the mind, and fixes it upon things trivial or of no importance, is termed low, by its resemblance to an emotion produced by a little or low object of sight: thus an appetite for trifling amusements is called a low taste. The same terms are applied to characters and actions: we talk familiarly of an elevated genius, of a great man, and equally so of littleness of mind : some actions are great and elevated, and others are little and grovelling. Sentiments, and even expressions, are characterised in the same manner: an expression or sentiment that raises the mind is denominated great or elevated ; and hence the SUBLIME* in poetry. In such figurative terms, we lose the distinction between great and elevated in their proper sense; for the resemblance is not so entire as to preserve these terms distinct in their figurative application. We carry this figure still farther. Elevation in its proper sense, imports superiority of place; and lowness, inferiority of place: and hence a man of superior talents, of superior rank, of inferior parts, of inferior taste, and such like. The veneration we have for our ancestors, and for the ancients in general, being similar to the emotion produced by an elevated object of sight, justifies the figurative expression, of the ancients being raised above us, or possessing a superior place. And we may remark in passing, that as words are intimately connected with ideas, many, by this form of expression, are led to conceive their ancestors as really above them in place; and their posterity below them:
A grandam's name is little less in love,
Richard III. Act IV. Sc. 5. The notes of the gamut, proceeding regularly from the blunter or grosser sounds to the more acute and piercing, produce, in the hearer, a feeling somewhat similar to what is produced by mounting upward; and this gives occasion to the figurative expressions, a high note, a low note.
Such is the resemblance in feeling between real and figurative grandeur, that among the nations on the east coast of Afric, who are directed purely by nature, the officers of state are, with respect to rank,
* Longinus gives a description of the Sublime that is not amiss, though far from being just in every circumstance, “That the mind is elevated by it, and so sensibly affected, as to swell in transport and inward pride, as if what is only heard or read, were its own invention.” But he adheres not to this description; in his 6th chapter, he justly observes, that many passions have nothing of the grand, such as grief, fear, pity, which depress the mind instead of raising it; ang yet, in chap. 8. he mentions Sappho’s ode upon love as sublime: beautiful it is undoubtedly, but it cannot be sublime, because it really depresses the mind instead of raising it. His translator Boileaux is not more successful in his instances. In his 10th reflection, he cites a passage from Demosthenes and another from Herodotus as sublime, which have not the least tincture of that quality.
distinguished by the length of the batoon each carries in his hand: and in Japan, princes and great lords show their rank by the length and size of their sedan-poles.* Again, it is a rule in painting, that figures of a small size are proper for grotesque pieces; but that an historical subject, grand and important, requires figures as great as the life. The resemblance of these feelings is in reality so strong, that elevation, in a figurative sense, is observed to have the same effect, even externally, with real elevation:
K. Henry. This day is called the feast of Crispian.
Henry V. Act IV. Sc. 8. The resemblance, in feeling, between real and figurative grandeur, is humorously illustrated by Addison in criticising upon English tragedy: “ The ordinary method of making an hero, is to clap a huge plume of feathers upon his head, which rises so high, that there is often a greater length from his chin to the top of his head, than to the sole of his foot. One would believe, that we thought a great man and a tall man the same thing. As these superfluous ornaments upon the head make a great man, a princess generally receives her grandeur from these additional encumbrances that fall into her tail: I mean the broad sweeping train, that follows her in all her motions; and finds constant employment for a boy, who stands behind her to open and spread it to advantage."* The Scythians impressed with the fame of Alexander, were astonished when they found him a little man.
A gradual progress from small to great is no less remarkable in figurative, than in real grandeur or elevation. Every one must have observed the delightful effect of a number of thoughts or sentiments, artfully disposed like an ascending series, and making impressions deeper and deeper: such disposition of members in a period, is termed a climax.
Within certain limits, grandeur and sublimity produce their strongest effects, which lessen by excess as well as by defect.
This is remarkable in grandeur and sublimity taken in their proper sense: the grandest emotion that can be raised by a visible object, is where the object can be taken in at one view; if so immense as not to be comprehended but in parts, it tends rather to distract than satisfy the mind it in like manner, the strongest emotion produced by elevation, is where the object is seen distinctly; a greater elevation lessens in appearance the object, till it vanishes out of sight with its pleasant emotion. The same is equally remarkable in figurative grandeur and elevation, which shall be handled together, because, as observed above, they are scarcely distinguishable. Sentiments
* Spectator, No. 42.
+ It is justly observed by Addison, that perhaps a man would have been more astonished with the majestic air that appeared in one of Lysippus's statues of Alexander, though no bigger than the life, than he might have been with Mount Athos, had it been cut into the figure of the hero, according to the proposal of Phidias, with a river in one hand, and a city in the other. Spectator, No. 415.