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tion and particular exertion of those which we possess. But we must not go out of our way, for the work before us fure nishes many subjects of remark.
The nature of the emotions of fablimity and beauty are connected, ia our author's opinion, with the imagination, that power of the mind, which, from an idea excited, will wander through others, connected more or less intimately with it; which will involve and recombine ideas formerly entertained; or when morbid, will pursue trains liccle connected with the vigible object, and, by an incongruous mixture, form a new world of monsters of its own creation. But by mixing ima. gination with our emotions of pleasure from beautiful objects, we fufpect that Mr. Alison has confused the subje&. We may certainly receive pleasure from a beautiful scene, a well executed painting, or a charming object, without pursuing the emotions excited. If he would change the position, and enquire into the source of our pleasures from these obje&s, we would allow that it was a very proper subje& of consideration. But we may certainly be pleased with an object in itself either as beautiful, or feel an awful terror from a scene, as it is fube lime, without pursuing the collateral ideas suggested by the imagination. Yet if we allow our author's position, we must own that he has illastrated it with fingular kill and great beau- . ty. We shall first select one of his cooler representations, in which we perceive the exertions of the principle which we would strictly call tafte.
• When we fit down to appreciate the value of a poem, or of a painting, and attend minutely to the language or composition of the one, or to the colouring or design of the other, we feel no longer the delight which they at first produce. Our imagina. tion in this employment is retrained, and instead of yielding to its suggestions, we ftudiously endeavoured to refilt them by fix. ing our attention upon minute and partial circumstances of the compofition. How much this operation of mind tends to diminihh our fenfe of its beauty, every one will feel, who atends to his own thoughts on such an occasion, or who will recollect how different was his state of mind, when he first felt the beauty either of the painting or the poem. It is this chiefly, which makes it so difficult for young people, poffefsed of imagination, to judge of the merits of any poem or fable, and which induces them fo often to give their approbation to compositions of little value. It is not, that they are incapable of learning in what the merits of such compofitions confift, for these principles of judge ment are neither numerous nor abstruse. It is not, that greater experience produces greater sensibility, for this every thing contradias ; but it is, because every thing, in that period of life, is able to excite their imaginations, and to move their hearts, beCause they judge of the compofition, not by its merits, when
compared compared with other works, or by its approach to any abstraat or ideal standard, but by its eficet in agitating their iir aginations, and leading them into that fairy land, in which the fancy of youth has so much delight to wander. It is their own imagina. tion, which has the charm, which they attribute to the work, thai excites it ; and the fini pleit tale, or the poorest vovel, is, at that time, as capable of awakening it, as afterwards the eloquence of Virgil or Rouleau.'
The mentioning Virgil is a little unfortunate, since he is an author whose beauties are probably discovered better in this cool compassionate criticism, than those of any other. But the critic who, like Johnson, would examine in this way the odes of Gray or of Akenfide, we should fufpect capable of attempting to measure infinity with his rule, or to calculate eternity with his pen. When Mr. Alison pursues his system, he loses fight of taste, and wanders into the region of imagination; and when they produce such remarks as the following, we forgive the wandering and even rejoice in the offence.
• The effect which is thus produced, by associations, in increase ing the emotions of fublimity or bcauty, is produced also, ei. ther in nature, or in description, by what are generally termed picturesque objects. Instances of such objects are familiario every one's observation. An old tower in the middle of a deep wood, a bridge Aung across a charm between rocks, a cottage on a precipice are common examples. If I am not mistaken, the effect which such objects have on every one's mind, is to fuy. gest an additional train of conceptions, beside what the scene or description itself would have suggested; for it is very obvious, that no objets are remarked as picturesque, which.do not ftrike the imagination by themselves. They are, in general, such circumstances as coincide, but are not necessarily conne&cd with the character of the fcen'e or description, and which at first af. fecting the mind with an emotion of surprise, produce afterwards an increased or additional train of imagery. The effect of such objects, in increasing the emotions either of beauty or sublimity, will probably be obvious from the following instances.
• The beauty of sunset, in a fine autumnal evening, seems al. most incapable of addition from any circumstance. The various and radiant colouring of the clouds, the soft light of the fun, that gives so rich a glow to every objeet on which it falls, the dark shades with which it is contrasted, and the calm and deep repose that seems to steal over universal nature, form altogether a scene, which serves perhaps better than any other in the world, to fatiate the imagination with delight: yet there is no man who does not know how great an addition this fine scene is capable of receiving from the circumsance of the evening bell. In what, however, does the effect of this most picturesque circum. fiance confiit: Is it not in the additional images which are thus
fuggested to the ima ination? images indeed of melancholy and sadness, but which fill are plealing, and which serve most wonderrul.y to a cord with chat folemn and pensive ltate of mind, which is almost irrehistibly produced by this charming scene.
• The sublime is increased in the same manner, by the addi- tion of picturesque objects. The striking image with which Virgil concludes the description of the prodigies which attended the death of Cæfar, is well known :
• Scilicet et tempus venier cum finibus illis Agricola, iucurro terram molitus aratro, Exefa invenict fcabrå rubigine pila: Aut gravibus raiiris, gileas pulfabit inanes, Grandiaque effofi: mirabitur offa sepulchris. • There are few passages more sublime in the Pharsalia of Lucan, than the description in the third book, of one of Pompey's armies, blocked up by Cæfar in a part of the country where there was no water, ant where the foldiers were perishing with thirst. After describing very minutely, the fruitless attempts of the army to obtain relief, and the miserable expedients with which t 'ey endeavoured to supply their wants, he proceeds in the following nervous and beautiful lines, of which, I am persuad-d, the last circumstance is too striking to require any comment:
O fortunati, fugiens quos barbarus hoftis,
Spectat vicinos, fitiens exercitus, amnes.'
In describing the emotions of the mind in consequence of association, the author shows that those adventitious circum. ftances Mhould be separated from, instead of being connected with taste. He involuntarily acknowledges, p. 16. that the scenes themselves may be little beautiful, but they borrow their infuence from association, from an association with objects where laste is not concerned,
In pursuance, therefore, of the author's plan, which is to consider the effects produced by objects of beauty and sublimity, he proceeds to investigate the nature of those trains of thought which are produced by fach objects and attended ei. ther with pleasure or with awe: and the difference, he thinks, in their being ideas of emotion, and the law by which their succession is regulated, appears to be that of a natural uniform connexion. He concludes, that the effect "
produced on the mind by objects of taste may be considered as confifting in the production of a regular confiftent train of ideas of emotion. In these discussions again, we conftantly
' feel the difference of our opinions respecting tafte, which may originally be referred to the word enjoy in the definition. Mr. Alison thinks it absurd to fay, that an object indifferent or uninteresting can be beautiful or sublime ; or, in other words, excite emotions of taste. A well-proportioned column or building, the statue of the Apollo Belvidere, the Farnese Hercules, may be objects of taste, and may be pronounced beautiful; but, independent of the excellence of their proportions, we do not see how the affections are engaged so as to make them interefting, or how they excite emotions beyond those which arise from the eye not being offended by a disproportioned part or an unpleasing attitude. The man of taste may examine every part coolly without forfeiting, we think, bis pretensions to this quality. But let us see how the author escapes from this difficulty.
• There is no production of taste whatever, which has not ma. ny qualities of a very indifferent kind; and there can be no doubi, both that we have it in our power to make any of these qualities the object of our attention, and that we very often do so, without regarding any of those qualities of emotion upon which its beauty or its fublimity is founded : in such cafes, I believe every one has felt, that the effect upon his mind corresponds to the quality he considers.
• It is difficult, for instance, to enumerate the various qualities which may produce the emotion of beauty, in the statues of the Venus de Medicis, or the Apollo Belvidere; yet it is undoubtedly possible for any man to see these malter-pieces of statuary, and yet feel no emotion of beauty. The delicacy, the modesty, the timidity of the one, the grace, the dignity, the majesty of the other, and in both, the inimitable art with which these characters are expressed, are, in general, the qualities which first express themselves upon the imagination of the spectator; yet the man of the best taste may afterwards see them, without thinking of any such expressions. He may observe their dimenfions, he may study their proportions, he may attend to the particular state of their preservation, the history of their discovery, or even the nature of the marble of which
they are made. All these are as truly qualities of these statues, as their majesty or their grace, and may certainly, at particular times, happen to engage their attention of the man of the most refined taste. That in fuch cases, no emotion of beauty would be felt, and that before it could be felt, it would be necessary for the spectator to withdraw his mind from the confideration of such unaffecting qualities, is too obvious to require any illustration.'
Mr. Alison appears still constant to his position, though we think his subject is a much more general and extenfive one than
But as we have fufficiently elucidated his fyftem and our own, we may now be permitted to step on a little faster. Perhaps it would be unjust to conclude our account of this Essay without noticing that excellent fection where Mr. Alison treats of the neceffity of our emotions being uniform, not distraded by uninteresting subjects, languid, adventitious, or disgusting circumstances, infipid, prosaic, or vulgar language. It contains much good, and if not occasionally too fastidious, elegant and judicious criticism.
If our emotions of beauty and sublimity arise from a regular consistent train of ideas of emotion, and the emotions of taste arise only from a simple emotion, or from obje&s capable of exciting such a fimple emotion, a difficulty occurs whose folution is the object of the second essay, viz. what is the fource of the fublimity and beauty of the material world? The author endeavours to show, that not matter, but the qualities of matter are the objects of our emotions; and that with each quality we have some pleasing and affecting association, which is the sole cause of the emotions of fublimity and beauty. The qualities of matter, Mr. Alison observes, • are not to be confidered as sublime and beautiful in themselves; but as either sublime or beautiful, from their being the signs or expressions of qualities capable of producing emotion.' It was a doctrine of the Peripatetics, revived by some later authors, that matter is not beautiful in itself, but derives its beauty from the expression of mind. Perhaps if the words 'expression of' were omitted, the pofition would be ftri&tly true; and, in other words, it might be said that beauty of matter was a secondary quality without existence, except relatively to the mind, which perceives and appreciates it. Our author, in his refinement, comes very near to this idea, when he concludes that the beauty and sublimity of the qualities of matter arise from their being the figns or expressions of such qualities as are filled by the constitution of our nature to produce emotion,'-But we must defer the farther consideration of this subject for the present; it would render our article to extensive.