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ponent. The radical error lies, as usual, in supposing that sublimity can be only of one description; and that all sublime objects must produce one and the same sort of emotion. Now, the fact is, we think, very clearly, that there are at least two sorts of sublimity, in the same way as there are many sorts of beauty ;-and that some produce a kind of awe, humiliation, and terror, and some a sort of inward glorying and elevation of spirit, according to the nature of the suggestions which they supply to the imagination. It is very true, as Mr. Knight has observed, that terror, in its direct form, is a very painful feeling; and that, when it rises to any great height, it is incomcompatible with any agreeable or attractive emotion. But it is, notwithstanding, perfectly certain and obvious, that the spectacle or imagination of terror in others, provided it be not a dastardly and groundless fear, but a natural and irresistible dread impressed by sufficient causes,-is an object of attractive sympathy. One half of the interest of tragedy is founded upon this feeling, -and far more than one half of the powerful and never-failing interest of all stories of ghosts and apparitions, and of many romances and tales of terror, both of ancient and modern date. We look upon it, therefore, as no less notable a heresy in Mr. Knight to deny that there is any delight or attraction in our sympathy with terror, as it was to deny that we had any pleasure in sympathising with distress. But the shortest and most satisfactory way of settling the matter will be, to suggest a few obvious instances of the different sorts of sublimity to the reader's recollection.

All that class of sublime objects, to which we popularly apply the epithets of dreary, gloomy, dismal, awful, or terrible, excite ideas of danger, and depress the mind with a sense of humiliation and awe. : Gloomy caverns, and vaults, and all the apparatus and accompaniments of sepulture, and all the remembrancers of mortality,—all indications of power armed with seeming anger, which it is at once impious and impossible to resist,—the dark and stormy ocean,-lands swept with hurricanes, or shaken with earthquakes,-eclipses and thunder,—the dreariness of swampy forests,—the roar of troubled and impassable cataracts,-these, and a multitude of similar objects, stand unquestionably in the very first rank of sublimity; yet their primary ellect is, undoubtedly, to quell and subdue the spirit with a sense of its own weakness and insignificance, and to excite those emotions of lowly awe and solemn adoration, with which an inferior nature instinctively contemplates the visible indications of irresistible danger and uncontrollable power.

On the other hand, the recital of great and magnanimous actions, and, in one word, all the signal exertions and triumphs of human or imitable power, are apt to exalt the soul with that inward glorying and exultation, of which Longinus and all subsequent critics have spoken,-to kindle a kind of generous emulation in the minds of the spectators, and to elevate them, by an ambitious sympathy, to the height of the noble daring of which they see that their nature is capable.

The greater part of the common objects of sublimity, however, are of a mixed character, and may excite emotions either of humiliation and awe, or of aspiring ambition, according to the temper and dispositions of those to whom they are presented ;-rousing the lofty and the daring to defy the power, or to rival the exertions which they suggest; or overcoming the timid and feeble with the sense of their own littleness and danger. To the brave and ardent spirit of military youth, the sound of the war-trumpet, the noise of artillery, and the Trampling and shouts of charging legions, is animating and exalting ;-lo women, or to timid men, it is awful and terrible;

-but to both it is unquestionably sublime—and perhaps most sublime lo those who feel the greatest admixture of terror. Take a sublime scene in nature in the same way—such as is represented in some of Salvator's landscapes,-a wild and desolate assemblage of solitary mountains, with cliffs, and abysses, and dark streams and caverns, with banditti, or hunters like bandilli, scattered over its loneliness ;- -an intrepid and adventurous nature is only kindled to a loftier temper by the influences of such a prospect,and feels strong to scale the cliffs, and pursue the savage game they conceal, and to contend with the desperate competitors that may cross his path in the chase; while a pacific and ordinary character shrinks with dismay from such a picture of danger and discomfort, and is oppressed under the load of 1oo overwhelming a sublimity. It is only necessary to have travelled a stage in our central Highlands with a native, and with a city family, in order to understand perfectly all the different effects of sublimity.

The only other advantage which we shall specify as likely to result from the adoption of Mr. Alison's theory, is, that it seems calculated to put an end to all these perplexing and vexatious questions about the standard of taste, which have given occasion lo so much impertinent and so much elaborate discussion. If things are not beautiful in themselves, but only as they serve to suggest interesting conceptions to the mind, then every thing which does in point of fact suggest such a conception to any individual, is beautiful to that individual, and it is not only quite true that there is no room for disputing about lastes, but that all tastes are equally just and correct, in so far as each individual speaks only of his own emotions. When a man calls a thing beautiful, he may indeed mean to make two very different assertions:-he may mean that it gives him pleasure, by suggesting to him some interesting emotion; and, in this sense, there can be no doubt that, if he merely speak truth, the thing is beautiful; and that it pleases him precisely in the same way that all other things please those to whom they appear beautiful. But if he mean to say that the thing possesses some quality which ought to make it appear beautiful to every other person, and that it is owing to some prejudice or defect in them if it appear otherwise, then he is as unreasonable and absurd as he would think those who should attempt lo convince him that he felt no emotion of beauty.

All tastes, then, are equally just and true, in so far as concerns the individual whose taste is in question; and what a man feels distinctly to be beautiful, is beautiful to him, whatever other people may think of it. All this follows clearly from the theory of Mr. Alison : but it does not follow from il, that all tastes are equally good or desirable, or that there is any difficulty in describing that which is really the best, and the most to be envied. The only use of the faculty of taste is to afford an innocent delight, and to aid the cultivation of a finer morality; and that man certainly will have the most delight from this faculty who has the most numerous and the most powerful perceptions of beauly. But, if beauty consist in the reflection of our assections and sympathies, it is plain that he will see the most beauty whose affections are warmest and most exercised, -whose imagination is the most powerful,—and who has most accustomed himself to altend to the objects by which he is surrounded. In so far as mere feeling and enjoyment are concerned, therefore, it seems evident that the best state must be thal which belongs to the best affections, the most active fancy, and the most attentive habits of observation, It will follow pretty exactly too, that all men's perceptions of beauty will be nearly in proportion to the degree of their sensibility and social sympathies; and that those who have no aflections towards sentient beings, will be just as insensible to beauty in external objects, as he, who cannot hear the sound of his friend's voice, must be deaf to its echo.

In so far as the sense of beauty is regarded as a mere source of enjoyment, this seems to be the only distinction that deserves to be allended to: and the only cultivation that taste should ever receive, with a view to the gratification of the individual, should be through the indirect channel of cultivating the affections and powers of observation. If we aspire, however, to be creators as well as observers of beauty, and place any part of our happiness in ministering to the gratification of others--as artists, or poets, or authors of any sort—then, indeed, a new distinction of tastes, and a far more laborious system of cultivation, will be necessary. A man who pursues only his own delight, will be as much charmed with objects that suggest powerful emotions, in consequence of personal and accidental associations, as with those that introduce similar emotions by means of associations that are universal and indestructible. To him, all objects of the former class are really as beautiful as those of the latter-and, for his own gratification, the creation of that sort of beauty is just as important an occupation: but if he conceive the ambition of creating beauties for the admiration of others, he must be cautious to employ only such objects as are the natural and inseparable concomitants of emotions, of which the greater part of mankind are susceptible; and his laste will then deserve to be called bad and false, if he obtrude upon the public, as beautiful, objects that are not likely to be associated in common minds with any interesting impressions.

For a man bimself, then, there is no taste that is either bad or false; and the only difference worthy of being altended to, is that between a great deal and a very little. Some, who have cold affections, sluggish imaginations, and no habits of observation, can scarcely see beauty in any thing; while others, who are full of kindness and sensibility, and who have been accustomed to attend to all the objects around them, seel it almost in every thing. It is no matter what other people may think of the objects of their admiration; nor ought it to be any concern of theirs that the public would be astonished or offended if they were called upon to join in that admiration. So long as no such call is made, this anticipated discrepancy of feeling need give them no uneasiness; and the suspicion of it should produce no contempt in any other persons: It is a strange aberration indeed of vanily that makes us despise persons for being happy-for having sources of enjoyment in which we cannot share;—and yet this is the true account of the ridicule we beslow upon individuals who seek only to enjoy their peculiar tastes unmolested ;-for, if there be any truth in the theory we have been expounding, no taste is bad for any other reason than because it is peculiar-as the objects in which it delights must actually serve to suggest to the individual those common emotions and universal aflections upon which the sense of beauty is everywhere founded. The misfortune is, however, that we are apt to consider all persons who communicate their tastes, -and especially all who create any objects for their gratification, -as in some measure dictating to the public, and setting up an idol for general adoration; and hence this intolerent interferance with almost all peculiar perceptions of beauty, and the unsparing derision that pursues all deviations from acknowledged standards. This intolerance, we admit, is often provoked by something of a spirit of proselytism and arrogance in those who mistake their own casual associations for natural or universal relations; and the consequence is, that mortified vanity dries up the fountain of their peculiar enjoyment, and disenchants, by a new association of general contempt or ridicule, the scenes that had been consecrated by some innoceni but accidental emotion.

As all men must have some peculiar associations, all men must have some peculiar notions of beauty, and, of course, to a certain extent, a taste that the public would be entitled to consider as false or vitiated. For those who make no demands on public admiration, however, it is hard to be obliged to sacrifice this source of enjoyment; and, even for those who labour for applause, the wisest course, perhaps, if it were only practicable, would be, lo have two tastes,—one to enjoy, and one to work by; one founded upon universal associations, according to which they finished those performances for which they challenged universal praise, -and another guided by all casual and individual associations, through which they looked fondly upon nature, and upon the objects of their secret admiration.


The Introduction to this admirable work ends with an eloquent profession of the author's unshaken faith in the philosophical creed of Perfectibility :upon which, as it does not happen to be our creed, and is very frequently brought into notice in the course of the work, we must here be indulged with a few preliminary observations.

This splendid illusion, which seems to have succeeded that of Optimism in the favour of philosophical enthusiasts, and rest, like it, upon the notion that the whole scheme of a beneficient Providence is to be developed in this world, is supported by Mad. de Staël upon a variety of grounds : and as, like other illusions, it has a considerable admixture of truth, it is supported, in many points, upon grounds that are both solid and ingenious. She relies chielly, of course, upon the experience of the past; and, in particular, upon the marked and decided superiority of the moderns in respect of thought and reflection,-their more profound knowledge of human feelings, and more comprehensive views of human affairs. She ascribes less importance than is usually done to our altainments in mere science, and the arts that relate to malter; and augurs less confidently as to the future fortune of the species from the exploits of Newton, Watt, and Davy, than from those of Bacon, Bossuet, Locke, Hume, and Voltaire. In eloquence, too, and in taste and fancy, she admits that there has been a less conspicuous advancement ; because, in these things, there is a natural limit or point of perfection, which has been already attained ; but there are no boundaries to the increase of human knowledge, or to the discovery of the means of human happiness; and every step that is gained in those higher walks, is gained, she conceives, for posterity and for ever.

The ingenions theory expounded in this masterly Essay with such beauty of language and splendour of illustration, was, I believe, at a subsequent period embodied in an Essay on Beauty, published in the Supplement to the Encyclopedia Britannica, and announced as the production of Mr. Jeffrey. Those who are familiar with the composition of that captivating writer will easily discern, in the review of Alison's work on Taste, the marked peculiarities of his rich and dazzling style. The reader will not, I presume, complain of the length of this interesting article, which i could not venture to abridge without incurring the risk of impairing its excellence.

† Madame de Staël sur la Littérature.-Vo!. xxi. page 8. February, 1813.


The great objection derived from the signal check which the arts and civility of life received from the inroads of the Northern barbarians on the decline of the Roman power, and the long period of darkness and degradation which ensued, she endeavours to obviate by a very bold and ingenious speculation. It is her object here to show, that the invasion of the Northern tribes not only promoted their own civilisation more effectually than any thing else could have done, but actually imparted to the genius of the vanquished a character of energy, solidity, and seriousness, which could dever have sprung up of itself in the volatile regions of the South. The amalgamation of the two races, she thinks, has produced a mighty improvement on both; and the vivacity, the elegance, and versatility of the warmer latitudes, been mingled, infinitely to their mutual advantage, with the majestic melancholy, the profound thought, and the sterner morality of the North. This combination, again, she conceives, could have been affected in no way so happily as by the successful invasion of the ruder people, and the conciliating influence of that common faith, which at once repressed the frivolous and mollified the serocious tendences of our nature. The temporary disappearance, therefore, of literature and politeness, upon the first shock of this mighty collision, was but the subsidence of the sacred flame under the heaps of fuel which were thus profusely provided for its increase ; and the seeming waste and sterility that ensued, was but the first aspect of the fertilising flood and accumulated manure under which vegetalion was buried for a while, that it might break out at last with a richer and more indestructible luxuriance. The human intellect was neither dead nor inactive, she contends, during that long slumber, in which it was collecting vigour for unprecedented exertions; and the occupations to which it was devoted, though not of the most brilliant or attractive description, were perhaps the best filted for its ultimate and substantial improvement. The subtle distinctions, the refined casuistry, and ingenious logic of the School divines, were all favourable to habits of careful and accurate thinking; and led insensibly to a far more thorough and profound knowledge of human nalure—the limits of its faculties and the ground of its duties—than had been altained by the more careless enquirers of antiquity. When men, therefore, began again to reason upon human affairs, they were found to have made an immense progress during the period when all appeared to be either retrograde or stationary; and Shakspeare, Bacon, Machiavel, Montaigne, and Galileo, who appeared almost at the same time, in the most distant conntries of Europe, each displayed a reach of thought and a power of reasoning which we should look for in vain in the eloquent dissertations of the classical ages. To them succeeded such men as Jeremy Taylor, Molière, Pascal, Locke, and La Bruyère,-all of them observers of a character to which there is nothing at all parallel in antiquity; and yet only preparing the way, in the succeeding age, for Montesquieu, Hume, Voltaire, Smith, Burke, Malthus, and so many others, who have made the world familiar with truths, which, however important and demonstrable at all times, certainly never entered into the conception of the earlier inbabitants of the world. Those truths, and others still more important, of which they are destined to be the parents, have already, according to Mad. de Staël, produced a prodigious alteration, and an incalculable improvement on the condition of human nature. Through their influence, assisted no doubt by that of the Gospel, slavery has been abolished, trade and industry set free from restriction, and war disarmed of half its horrors; while, in private life,

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