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Grandeur being one of the strongest emotions that can occupy the human mind, it is not eafily produced in perfection but by reiterated impressions. The efect of a single impression can be but momentary; and if one feel suddenly fornewhat like a swelling or exaltation of mind, the emotion vanifheth as soon as felt. Single thoughts or sentiments, I know, are often cited as examples of the sublime; but their effect is far inferior to that of a grand subject display'd in its capital parts. I shall give a few examples, that the reader may judge for himself. In the famous action of Thermopylæ, where Leonidas the Spartan king with his chosen band fighting for their country, were cut off to the last man, a saying is reported of Dieneces, one of the band, which, expressing chearful and undisturbed bravery, is well intitled to the first place in examples of this kind : talking of the number of their enemies, it was observed, that the arrows thot by such a multitude would intercept the light of the fun; So much the better, says he, for we shall then fight in the shade *.

Somerset. Ah! Warwick, Warwick, wert thou as we

We might recover all our loss again.
The Queen from France hath brought a puiffant power,
Ev'n now we heard the news. Ah! couldst thou fly!
Warwick. Why, then I would not fly.

Third part, Henry VI. act 5. sc. 3.
Herodotus, buok 7.


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Such a sentiment from a man expiring of his wounds, is truly heroic; and must elevate the mind to the greatest height, that can be done by a single expression: it will not suffer by a comparison with the famous sentiment Qu'il mourut in Corneille's Horace : the latter is a sentiment of indignation merely, the former of invincible fortitude.

In opposition to these examples, to cite many a sublime paffage, enriched with the finest iniages, and dressed in the most nervous expresfions, would scarce be fair : I shall produce but one instance, from Shakespear, which sets a few objects before the eye, without much pomp of language : it operates its effect, by representing these objects in a climax, raising the mind higher and higher till it feel the emotion of grandeur in perfection:

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The cloud-capt tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea all which it inherit, shall diffolve, &c.

The cloud-capt tow'rs produce an elevating emotion, heightened by the gorgeous palaces ; and the mind is carried still higher and higher by the images that follow. Successive images, making thus stronger and stronger impressions, must elevate more than any single image can do.

As, on the one hand, no means directly apply'd have more influence to raise the mind than grandeur and sublimity; so, on the other, no means



indirectly apply'd have more influence to sink and deprefs it : for in a state of elevation, the artful introduction of an humbling object, makes the fall great in proportion to the elevation. Of this observation Shakespear gives a beautiful example, in a passage, part of which is cited above for another purpose :


The cloud-capt tow'rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The folemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea all which it inherit, shall diffolve,
And like the baseless fabric of a vision
Leave not a rack behind,

Tempeft, act 4. sc. 4.

The elevation of the mind in the former


of this beautiful passage, makes the fall great in proportion, when the most humbling of all images is introduced, that of an utter dissolution of the earth and its inhabitants. The mind, when warmed, is more fusceptible of impressions than in a cool state; and a depressing or melancholy object makes the strongest impression, when it reaches the mind in its highest state of elevation or chearfulness.

But a humbling image is not always necessary to produce this effect; a remark is made above, that in describing superior beings, the reader's imagination, unable to support itself in a strained elevation, falls often as from a height, and sinks even below its ordinary tone, The following instance comes luckily in view; for a better


cannot be given: “God said, Let there be “ light, and there was light.” Longinus cites this passage from Moses as a shining example of the sublime; and it is scarce possible, in fewer words, to convey fo clear an image of the infinite power of the Deity: but then it belongs to the present subject to remark, that the emotion of fublimity raised by this image is but momentary; and that the mind, unable to support itself in an elevation fo much above nature, immediately finks down into humility and veneration, for a being so far exalted above groveling mortals. Every one is acquainted with a dispute about this passage between two French critics *, the one positively affirming it to be sublime, the other as positively denying.

What I have remarked shows, that both of them have reached the truth, but neither of them the whole truth : the primary effect of this pairage, is undoubtedly an emotion of grandeur; which fo far justifies Boileau : but then every one must be fensible, that the emotion is merely a flash, which, vanishing instantaneously, gives way to humility and veneration. This indirect effect of sublimity justifies Huet, on the other hand, who being a man of true piety, and probably not much carried by imagination, felt the humbling passions more sensibly than his antagonist did. And even laying aside any peculiarity of character, Huet's opinion

Boileau and Huet.

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may, I think, be defended as the more folid; because in such images, the depressing emotions are the more sensibly felt, and have the longer endurance.

The straining an elevated subject beyond due bounds, and beyond the reach of an ordinary conception, is not a vice so frequent as to require the correction of criticism. But false sublime is a rock that writers of more fire than judgement generally split on; and therefore a collection of examples may be of use as a beacon to future adventurers. One species of false sublime, known by the name of bombast, is common among writers of a mean genius: it is a serious endeavour, by strained description, to raise a low or familiar subject above its rank; which instead of being sublime, fails not to be ridiculous. I am extremely sensible how prone the mind is, in some animating passions, to magnify its objects beyond natural bounds : but such hyperbolical description has its limits; and when carried beyond the impulse of the propensity, it degenerates into burlesque. Take the following examples.


Great and high
The world knows only two, that's Rome and I.
My roof receives me not; 'tis air I tread,
And at each step I feel my advanc'd head
Knock out a star in heav'n.

Sejanus, Ben Johnson, act 5.

A writer who has no natural elevation of genius,

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