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regard to the origin of religion. The maker Ibant obscuri, sola sub nocte, per umbram, of the maxim saw how inseparable these ideas Perque domos Ditis vacuas, et inania regna were, without considering that the notion of Ye subterraneous gods! whose awful sway some great power must be always precedent to
The gliding ghosts, and silent shades obey;
O Chaos, hoar! and Phlegethon profound! our dread of it. But this dread must necessa
Whose solemn empire stretches wide around! rily follow the idea of such a power, when it is Give me, ye great tremendous powers, to tell once excited in the mind. It is on this principle Of scenes and wonders in the depth of hell. that true religion has, and must have, so large From those black realms of darkness to the a mixture of salutary fear; and that false reli
PITT. gions have generally nothing else but fear to
Obscure they went through dreary shades that support them. Before the Christian religion led nad, as it were, humanized the idea of the Di- Along the waste dominions of the dead.
DRYDEN. vinity, and brought it somewhat nearer to us, there was very little said of the love of God. The followers of Plato have something of it, and only something; the other writers of pagan
SECTION VII. antiquity, whether poets or philosophers, nothing at all. And they who consider with what infinite attention, by what a disregard of every perishable object, through what long habits of
GREATNESS* of dimension is a powerful piety and contemplation it is, any man is able
cause of the sublime. This is too evident, to attain an entire love and devotion to the
and the observation too common, to need ariy Deity, will easily perceive, that it is not the illustration; it is not so common to consider in first, the most natural, and the most striking what ways greatness of dimension, vastness of effect which proceeds from that idea. Thus
extent or quantity, has the most striking effect. we have traced power through its several gra- For certainly, there are ways, and modes, dations unto the highest of all
, where our ima- wherein the same quantity of extension shal! gination is finally lost; and we find terrour, produce greater effects than it is found to do in quite throughout the progress, its inseparable others. Extension is either in length, height, companion, and growing along with it, as far
or depth. Of these the length strikes least; as we can possibly trace them. Now as power
an hundred yards of even ground will never is undoubtedly a capital source of the sublime, work such an effect as a tower an hundred this will point out evidently from whence its yards high, or a rock or mountain of that altienergy is derived, and to what class of ideas tude. I am apt to imagine likewise, that we ought to unite it.
height is less grand than depth; and that we are more struck at looking down from a precipice, than looking up at an object of equal
height; but of that I am not very positive. A SECTION VI.
perpendicular has more force in forming the sublime than an inclined plane; and the effects of a rvgged and broken surface seem stronger
than where it is smooth and polished. It would All general privations are great, because they are all terrible ; Vacuity, Darkness, Soli- into the cause of these appearances ; but cer
carry us out of our way to enter in this place tude, and Silence. With what a fire of imagi- lain it is they afford a large and fruitful field nation, yet with what severity of judgment, has
of speculation. However, it may not be amiss Virgil amassed all these circumstances, where
to add to these remarks upon magnitude, that he knows that all the images of a tremendous
as the great extreme of dimension is sublime, dignity ought to be united, at the mouth of hell!
so the last extreme of littleness is in some meawhere, before he unlocks the secrets of the
sure sublime likewise; when we attend to the great deep, he seems to be seized with a reli
infinite divisibility of matter, when we pursue gious horrour, and to retire astonished at the animal life into these excessively small, and boldness of his own design:
yet organised beings, that escape the nicest Dii quibus imperium est animarum, umbræque inquisition of the sense, when we push our -silentes!
discoveries yet downward, and consider those Et Chaos, et Plegethon! loca nocte silentia
creatures so many degrees yet smaller, and the late? Sit mihi sas audita loqui! sit numine vestro Pandere res alta terra et caligine mersas !
* Part IV. sect. 9
xtill diminishing scale of existence, in tracing of some remark, some complaint, or song which the imagination is lost as well as the which having struck powerfully on their disor Sense, we become amazed and confounded at dered imagination in the beginning of their the wonders of minuteness; nor can we distin- phrenzy, every repetition reinforces it with new guish in its effect this extreme of littleness from strength; and the hurry of their spirits unre the vast itself. For division must be infinite strained by the curb of reason, continues it la as well as addition; because the idea of a per- the end of their lives. fect unity can no more be arrived at, than that of a complete whole, to which nothing may be added.
SUCCESSION AND UNIFORMITY.
SUCCESSION and uniformity of parts are what
constitute the artificial infinite. l. Succession, ANOTHER source of the sublime is infinity; which is requisite that the parts may be conif it does not rather belong to the last. Infinity tinued so long and in such a direction, as by has a tendency to fill the mind with that sort of their frequent impulses on the sense to impress delightful horrour, which is the most genuine the imagination with an idea of their progress effect, and truest test of the sublime. There beyond their actual limits. 2. Uniformity; are scarce any things which can become the because if the figures of the parts should be ubjects of our senses, that are really and in changed, the imagination at every change finds their own nature infinite. But the eye not a check; you are presented at every alteration being able to perceive the bounds of many
with the termination of one idea, and the bethings, they seem to be infinite, and they pro- ginning of another; by which means it becomes duce the same effects as if they were really so. impossible to continue that uninterrupted proWe are deceived in the like manner, if the gression, which alone can stamp on bounded parts of some large object are so continued to objects the character of infinity. It is in this any indefinite number, that the imagination kind of artificial infinity, I believe, we ought to meets no check which may hinder its extend- look for the cause why a rotund has such a ing them at pleasure.
noble effect. For in a rotund, whether it be a Whenever we repeat any idea frequently, building or a plantation, you can no where fix the mind, by a sort of mechanism, repeats it a boundary; turn which way you will, the same long after the first cause has ceased to operate.* object still seems to continue, and the imaginaAfter whirling about, when we sit down, the
tion has no rest. But the parts must be uniobjects about us still seem to whirl. After a form, as well as circularly disposed, to give this long succession of noises, as the fall of waters, figure its full force ; because any difference, or the beating of forge hammers, the hammers whether it be in the disposition, or in the figure, beat and the water roars in the imagination
or even in the colour of the parts, is highly long after the first sounds have ceased to affect prejudicial to the idea of infinity, which every it; and they die away at last by gradations change must check and interrupt, at every alwhich are scarcely perceptible. If
teration commencing a new series. On the up a straight pole, with your eye to one end, it same principles of succession and uniformity, will seem extended to a length almost incredi- the grand appearance of the ancient heathen ble.f Place a number of uniform and equidis- temples, which were generally oblong forms, tant marks on this pole, they will cause the
with a range of uniform pillars on every side, same deception, and seem multiplied without will be easily accounted for. From the same end. The senses, strongly affected in some
cause also may be derived the grand effect of onc manner, cannot quickly change their tenour
the aisles in many of our own old cathedrals. or adapt themselves to other things; but they
The form of a cross used in some churches continue in their old channel until the strength seems to me not so eligible as the parallelogranı of the first mover decays. This is the reason
of the ancients; at least, I imagine it is not so of an appearance very frequent in madmen ; that they remain whole days and nights, some
Mr. Addison, in the Spectators concerning times whole years, in the constant repetition cause in the rotund at one glance you see half
the pleasures of the imagination, thinks it is be
the building. This I do not imagine to be the • Part IV. sect. 12. t Part IV. sect. 14. real cause.
proper for the outside. For, supposing the when they were suffered to run to immenso arms of the cross every way equal, if you stand distances. A true artist should put a generous in a direction parallel to any of the side walls, deceit on the spectators, and effect the noblest or colonnades, instead of a deception that makes designs by easy methods. Designs that are the building more extended than it is, you are vast only by their dimensions, are always the cut off from a considerable part (two thirds) of sign of a common and low imagination. No its actual length; and to prevent all possibility work of art can be great, but as it deceives; to of progression, the arms of the cross taking a be otherwise is the prerogative of nature only. new direction, make a right angle with the A good eye will fix the medium betwixt an exbeam, and thereby wholly turn the imagination cessive length or height, (for the same objection! from the repetition of the former idea. Or sup- lies against both,) and a short or broken quanpose the spectator placed where he may take a tity: and perhaps it might be ascertained to a direct view of such a building, what will be the tolerable degree of exactness, if it was my purconsequence ? the necessary consequence will pose to descend far into the particulars of any be, that a good part of the basis of each angle art. formed by the intersection of the arms of the cross, must be inevitably lost; the whole must of course assume a broken unconnected figure ; the lights must be unequal, here strong, and
SECTION XI. there weak; without that noble gradation, which the perspective always effects on parts disposed uninterruptedly in a right line. Some or all of these objections will lie against every figure
INFINITY, though of another kind, causes of a cross, in whatever view you take it. I much of our pleasure in agreeable, as well as exemplified them in the Greek cross,
in which of our delight in sublime images. The spring these faults appear the most strongly; but they is the pleasantest of the seasons; and the young appear in some degree in all sorts of crosses.
of most animals, though far from being comIndeed there is nothing more prejudicial to the pletely fashioned, afford a more agreeable sengrandeur of buildings, than to abound in angles; sation than the full grown; because the imagià fault obvious in many; and owing to an in- nation is entertained with the promise of soma ordinate thirst for variety, which, whenever it thing more, and does not acquiesce in the present prevails, is sure to leave very little true taste. object of the sense. In unfinished sketches of
drawing, I have often seen something which pleased me beyond the best finishing; and this
I believe proceeds from the cause I have just SECTION X.
INFINITY IN PLEASING OBJECTS.
* MAGNITUDE IN BUILDING.
To the sublime in building, greatness of di
SECTION XII. mension seems requisite; for on a few parts, and those small, the imagination cannot rise to any idea of infinity. No greatness in the manner can effectually compensate for the want of ANOTHER* source of greatness is difficulty. proper dimensions. There is no danger of When any work seems to have required imdrawing men into extravagant designs by this
mense force and labour to effect it, the idea is rule ; it carries its own caution along with it. grand. Stonehenge, neither for disposition nor Because too great a length in buildings destroys ornament, has any thing admirable; but those che purpose of greatness, which it was intended huge rude masses of stone, set on end, and piler. to promote ; the perspective will lessen it in each on other, turn the mind on the immense height as it gains in length; and will bring it force necessary for such a work. Nay, the at last to a point; turning the whole figure into rudeness of the work increases this cause of a sort of triangle, the poorest in its effect of grandeur, as it excludes the idea of art and almost any figure that can be presented to the contrivance; for dexterity produces another sort eye. I have ever observed, that colonnades of effect, which is different enough from this. and avenues of trees of a moderato length, were without comparison far grander, than
* Part IV. sect. 4, 5, 6.
How was he honoured in the midst of the peas ple, in his coming out of the sanctuary! He was as the morning star in the midst of a clouch
and as the moon at the full; as the sun shining MAGNIFICENCE is likewise a source of the upon the temple of the Most High, and as the sublime. A great profusion of things, which rainbow giving light in the bright clouds : and are splendid or valuable in themselves, is mag- as the flower of roses in the spring of the year, nificent. The starry heaven, though it occurs lilies by the rivers of waters, and as the frankin50 very frequently to our view, never fails to cense tree in summer ; as fire and incense in the excite an idea of grandeur. This cannot be censer, and as a vessel of gold set with precious owing to the stars themselves, separately cone slones ; as a fair olive tree budding forth fruit, sidered. The number is certainly the cause. and as a cypress which groweth up to the clouds. The apparent disorder augments the grandeur, When he put on the robe of honour, and was for the appearance of care is highly contrary to clothed with the perfection of glory, when he wentour ideas of magnificence. Besides, the stars up to the holy altar, he made the garment of how lie in such apparent confusion, as makes it im- liness honourable. He himself slood by the possible on ordinary occasions to reckon them. hearth of the altar, compassed with his brethren This gives them the advantage of a sort of in- round about; us a young cedar in Libanus, and linity. In works of art, this kind of grandeur, as palm trees compassed they him about. So which consists in multitude, is to be very cau- were all the sons of Aaron in their glory, and the tiously admitted; because a profusion of ex- oblations of the Lord in their hands, fc. cellent things is not to be attained, or with too much difficulty; and because in many cases this splendid confusion would destroy all use, which should be attended to in most of the
SECTION XIV. works of art with the greatest care ; besides it is to be considered, that unless you can produce an appearance of infinity by your disorder, you will have disorder only without magnificence. HAVING considered extension, so far as it is There are, however, a sort of fire-works, and capable of raising ideas of greatness ; colour some other things, that in this way succeed comes next under consideration. All colours well, and are truly grand. There are also depend on light. Light therefore ought previmany descriptions in the poets and orators, ously to be examined, and with it its opposite, which owe their sublimity to a richness and darkness. With regard to light, to make it a profusion of images, in which the mind is so cause capable of producing the sublime, it dazzled as to make it impossible to attend to must be attended with some circumstances, that exact coherence and agreement of the al- besides its bare faculty of shewing other oblusions, which we should require on every other jects. Mere light is too common a thing to occasion. I do not now remember a more stri's- make a strong impression on the mind, and ing example of this, than the description which without a strong impression nothing can be is given of the king's army in the play of Henry sublime. But such a light as that of the sun, the Fourth.
immediately exerted on the eye, as it overpow. -All furnish'd, all in arms, ers the sense, is a very great idea. Light of All plum'd like ostriches that with the wind
an inferiour strength to this, if it moves with Bajtod like eagles having lately bathed; As full of spirit as the month of May,
great celerity, has the same power; for lightAnd gorgeous as the sun in midsummer,
ning is certainly productive of grandeur, which Wanton
as youthful goats, wild as young bulls it owes chiefly to the extreme velocity of its I saw young Harry with his beaver on
motion. A quick transition from light to darkRise from the ground like featherd Mercury ; And vaulted with such ease into his seal,
ness, or from darkness to light, has yet a greater As if an angel dropped from the clouds
effect. But darkness is more productive of To turn and wind a fiery Pegasus.
sublime ideas than light. Our great poet was In that excellent book, so remarkable for the convinced of this ; and indeed so full was he vivacity of its descriptions, as well as the soli- of this idea, so entirely possessed with the dity and penetration of its sentences, the Wise power of a well managed darkness, that in dom of the son of Sirach, there is a noble pane describing the appearance of the Deity, amidst gyric on the high priest Simon the son of Onias; that profusion of magnificent images, which and it is a very fine example of the point be- the grandeur of his subject provokes him to fore us :
pour out upon every side, he is far from forget.
COLOUR CONSIDERED AS PRODUCTIVE OF
ting the obscurity which surrounds the most
SECTION XVI. incomprehensible of all beings, but
With the majesty of darkness round Circles his throne.And what is no less remarkable, our author had the secret of preserving this idea, even when AMONG colours, such as are soft or cheerful he seemed to depart the farthest from it, when (except perhaps a strong red which is cheerhe describes the light and glory which flows ful) are unfit to produce grand images. An from the divine presence; a light which by its immense mountain covered with a shining very excess is converted into a species of dark green turf, is nothing, in this respect, to one
dark and gloomy; the cloudy sky is more grand
than the blue ; and night more sublime and Dark with excessive light thy skirts appear.
solemn than day. Therefore in historical Here is an idea not only poetical in an high painting, a gay or gaudy drapery can never degree, but strictly and philosophically just have a happy effect: and in buildings, when Extreme light, by overcoming the organs of the highest degree of the sublime is intended, sight, obliterates all objects, so as in its effect the materials and ornaments ought neither to exactly to resemble darkness. After looking be white, nor green, nor yellow, nor blue, nor for some time at the sun, two black spots, tho of a pale red, nor violet, nor spotted, but of sad impression which it leaves, seem to dance be- and fuscous colours, as black, or brown, or deep fore our eyes. Thus are two ideas as opposite purple, and the like. Much of gilding, mosaas can be imagined reconciled in the extremes ics, painting, or statues, contribute but little to of both; and both in spite of their opposite the sublime. This rule need not be put in nature, brought to concur in producing the practice, except where an uniform degree of sublime. And this is not the only instance the most striking sublimity is to be produced, wherein the opposite extremes operate equally and that in every particular; for it ought to be in favour of the sublime, which in all things observed, that this melancholy kind of greatabhors mediocrity.
ness, though it be certainly the highest, ought not to be studied in all sorts of edifices, where yet grandeur must be studied: in such cases
the sublimity must be drawn from the other SECTION XV.
sources; with a strict caution however against any thing light and riant ; as nothing so effect ually deadens the whole taste of the sublime.
LIGHT IN BUILDING.
SOUND AND LOUDNESS.
As the management of light is a matter of importance in architecture, it is worth inquiring, how far this remark is applicable to build
SECTION XVII. ing. I think then, that all edifices calculated to produce an idea of the sublime, ought rather to be dark and gloomy, and this for two reasons; the first is, that darkness itself on other The eye is not the only organ of sensation, occasions is known by experience to have a by which a sublime passion may be produced greater effect on the passions than light. The Sounds have a great power in these as in most second is, that to make an object very striking,' other passions. I do not mean words, because we should make it as different as possible from words do not affect simply by their sounds, but the objects with which we have been immedi. by means altogether different. Excessive loudately conversant; when therefore you enter a ness alone is sufficient to overpower the soul, building, you cannot pass into a greater light to suspend its action, and to fill it with terthan you had in the open air; to go into some rour. The noise of vast cataracts, raging few degrees less luminous, can make only a storms, thunder, or artillery, awakes a great trifling change; but to make the transition and awful sensation in the mind, though we thoroughly striking, you ought to pass from the can observe no nicety or artifice in those sorts greatest light, to as much darkress as is con- of music. The shouting of multitudes has a sistent with the uses of architecture. At night similar effect; and, by the sole strength of the the contrary rule will hold, but for the very same sound, so amazes and confounds the imagi. reason ; and the more highly a room is then nation, that, in this staggering and hurry of illuminated, the grander will the passion be. the mind, the best established tempers can