« הקודםהמשך »
sublime, are almost infinite. Those I have mentioned are only a few instances to shew on what principle they are all built.
SECT. XXII.-SMELL AND TASTE, BITTERS
AND STENCHES. SMELLS and Tastes have some share too in ideas of greatness: but it is a small one, weak in its nature, and confined in its operations. I shall only observe, that no smells or tastes can produce a grand sensation, except excessive bitters and intolerable stenches. It is true that these affections of the smell and taste, when they are in their full force, and lean directly upon the sensory, are simply painful, and accompanied with no sort of delight; but when they are moderated, as in a description or narrative, they become sources of the sublime, as genuine as any other, and upon the very same principle of a moderated pain. “A cup of bitterness;"_" to drain the bitter cup of fortune;"_"the bitter apples of Sodom;" these are all ideas suitable to a sublime description. Nor is this passage of Virgil without sublimity, where the stench of the vapour in Albunea conspires so happily with the sacred horror and gloominess of that prophetic forest :
Et rex solicitus monstris oracula Fanni
Fonte sonat; sævamque exhalat opaca Mephitim, In the sixth book, and in a very sublime description, the poisonous exhalation of Acheron is not forgot; nor does it at all disagree with the other images amongst which it is introduced :
Spelunca alla fuit, vastoque immanis hiata
I have added these examples, because some friends for whose judgment I have great deference, were of opinion, that, if the sentiment stood nakedly by itself, it would be subject, at first view, to burlesque and ridicule : but this, I imagine, would principally arise from considering the bitterness and stench in company with mean and contemp. tible ideas, with which it must be owned they are often united; such a union degrades the sublime in all other instances as well as in those. But it is one of the tests by which the sublimity of an image is to be tried, not whether it becomes mean when associated with mean ideas; but whether, when united with images of an allowed grandeur, the whole composition is supported with dignity. Things which are terrible are always great; but when things possess disagreeable qualities, or such as have indeed some degree of danger, but of a danger easily overcome, they are merely odious, as toads and spiders.
-FEELING AND PAIN.
OF Feeling, little more can be said than that the idea of bodily pain, in all the modes and degrees of labour, pain, anguish, torment, is productive of the sublime; and nothing else, in this sense, can produce it. I need not give here any fresh instances, as those given in the former sections abundantly illustrate a remark, that in reality wants only an attention to nature to be made by every body.
Having thus run through the causes of the sublime with reference to all the senses, my first observation (sect. 7.) will be found very nearly true; that the sublime is an idea belonging to self-preservation; that it is therefore one of the most affecting
we have; that its strongest emotion is an emotion of distress; and that no pleasure* from a positive cause belongs to it. Numberless examples, besides those mentioned, might be brought in support of these truths, and many, perhaps useful consequences drawn from them
Sed fugit interea, fugit irrevocabile tempus,
SECT. I.-OF BEAUTY. It is my design to consider beauty as distinguished from the sublime; and in the course of the inquiry, to examine how far it is consistent with it. But previous to this, we must take a short review of the opinions already entertained of this quality; which I think are hardly to be reduced to any fixed principles; because men are used to talk of beauty in a figurative manner,
that is to say,
in a manner extremely uncertain and undeterminate. By beauty, I mean that quality, or those qualities in bodies, by which they cause love, or some passion similar to it. I confine this definition to the merely sensible qualities of things for the sake of preserving the utmost simplicity in a subject which must always distract us, whenever we take in those various causes of sympathy which attach us to any persons or things from secondary considerations, and not from the direct force which they have merely on being viewed. I likewise distinguish love, by which I mean that satisfaction which arises to the mind upon contemplating any thing beautiful, of whatsoever nature it may be, from desire or lust, which is
# Vide Part I. sect. 6.
an energy of the mind that hurries us on to the pos. session of certain objects that do not affect us as they are beautiful, but by means altogether different. We shall have a strong desire for a woman of no remarkable beauty; whilst the greatest beauty, in men, or in other animals, though it causes love, yet it excites nothing at all of desire; which shews that beauty, and the passion caused by beauty, which I call love, is different from desire, though desire sometimes may operate along with it; but it is to this latter that we must attribute those violent and tempestuous passions, and the consequent emotions of the body which attend what is called love in some of its ordinary acceptations, and not to the effects of beauty merely as it is such,
SEOT. II.-PROPORTION NOT THE CAUSE OF
BEAUTY IN VEGETABLES. BEAUTY hath usually been said to consist in certain proportions of parts. On considering the matter, I have great reason to doubt whether beauty be at all an idea belonging to proportion. Proportion relates almost wholly to convenience, as every idea of order seems to do; and it must therefore be considered as a creature of the understanding, rather than a primary cause acting on the senses and imagination. It is not by the force of long attention and inquiry that we find any object to be beautiful : beauty demands no assistance from our reasoning; even the will is unconcerned : the appearance of beauty as effectually causes some degree of love in us, as the application of ice or fire produces the ideas of heat or cold. To gain something like a satisfactory conclusion in this point, it were well to examine what proportion is, since several who make use of that word do not always seem to under. any
stand very clearly the force of the term, nor to have very distinct ideas concerning the thing itself. Proportion is the measure of relative quantity. Since all quantity is divisible, it is evident that every distinct part, into which any quantity is divided, must bear some relation to the other parts, or to the whole. These relations give an origin to the idea of proportion. They are discovered by mensura. tion; and they are the objects of mathematical inquiry. But whether any part of determinate quantity be a fourth, or a fifth, or a sixth, or moiety of the whole; or whether it be of equal length with any other part, or double its length, or but one half, is a matter merely indifferent to the mind; it stands neuter in the question : and it is from this absolute indifference and tranquillity of the mind, that mathematical speculations derive some of their most considerable advantages; because there is nothing to interest the imagination ; because the judgment sits free and unbiassed to examine the point. All proportions, every arrangement of quantity is alike to the understanding, because the same truths result to it from all; from greater, from lesser, from equality, and inequality.—But surely beauty is no idea belonging to mensuration; nor has it any thing to do with calculation and geometry. If it had, we might then point out some certain measures which we could demonstrate to be beautiful, either as simply considered, or as related to others; and we could call in those natural objects, for whose beauty we have no voucher but the sense, to this happy standard, and confirm the voice of our passions by the determination of our reason.
But, since we have not this help, let us see whether proportion can in any sense be considered as the cause of beauty, as hath be so generally, and by some so confidently affirmed. If proportion be one of