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And all the gods, that sat on high,
Help'd out the diapason!
A don of thorough blood;
Show me, said he, “ What 'tis you want?”
« What want ye here?” he cried“ We neither want your Cat, or cant,"
Our Englishmen replied!
“ Our notes for her's you shan't command;
And for her pipe, perdie,
Five hundred good as she!”
With that there came a glorious roar,
Of rattles and of row-sticks; As such there never did before,
Confound the Catacousticks
Then look'd our manager, I trow,
Like one in doleful dumps;
Almost upon his stumps!
As thus he said._" At length 1 yield,
You've got what you have wish'd; You've won, John Bull, you've won the field,
And so the Cat is dish'd!”
God save the king, and bless the land,
Our liberties and laws,
FOR THE PORT FOLIO.
STRICTURES ON DUGALD STEWART. MR. OLDSCHOOL,
Having perused Mr. Dugald Stewart's Essays on the Sublime with much gratification and instruction, and yet without conviction, I was reminded of an occurrence in India.—Sir William Jones was reading an epic poem to a friend and me, when my friend exclaimed, “ Sublime! Sir William, pray read that passage over again." On my return with him in the same carriage from our visit to the great Asiatic luminary, I told him that his sublime had quite dumb-founded me, whilst I was watching an opportu. nity to express my approbation. He replied, “I only spoke the truth, it was beyond my comprehension, and I therefore desired him to let me hear it once more.”.
With the same desire of completely understanding the prin. ciples and concatenation of reasoning in the abovementioned essays, I have reperused them, and now take up my pen to impart my sentiments on this delightful composition, where choicest pearls are strung together in charming succession, and tempt us rather to dwell upon objects presented, than upon the sensations and emotions excited by them.
When a person speaks of the sublime, can it be explained, but as a sensation and emotion of which we are conscious? The substantive sublimity, I comprehend as a quality, and a sublime, is an adjective. Mr. S. says that Longinus, who confined his attention to the sublime in writing, contented himself with remarking one of its characteristical effects, “ that it fills the reader with a glorying and sense of inward greatness.” The introduction of this expression, the sublime, by the omission of the word style, has caused much confusion, and many have attempted to ascertain the nature of the sublime, without investigating whether it is not a phrase, from the commencement erroneous. Had any other term been used to convey the sensations and emotions of astonishment, &c. the changes would not have been rung upon sublime, sublimity, and the sublime. There is no common quality in the various objects and sounds characterized by this epithet the sublime. Height, depth, surface, sound, light, darkness, all create the sensation, and it may be accompanied with some portion of fear or pleasure. The elegant language, the appropriate quotations and seductive reasoning of Mr. S. fascinate the reader, and prohibit him from doubting, or at least from venturing to deny, the postulatum that there exists any thing which may be denominated the sublime. Mr. S. states that “ lord Kaimes alone, has observed, that “ generally speaking the figurative sense of a word, is derived from its proper sense, and this holds remarkably with respect to sublimity; but of this observation, so just and so important in itself, he has made little or no use in the sequel, nor has he once touched on the most interesting and difficult point in the problem.” After this Mr. S. proceeds to say, that “it is altogether foreign to the question, whether height or depth in general is capable of producing the strongest impression of sublimity.” In this passage, the emotion caused by sublimity, profundity, &c., and sublimity, the quality, are made synonymous. Now sublimity means only altitude, and is not applicable to depth, although it must be acknowledged that looking into a gulf or down from an eminence may produce the emotion. To reconcile this emotion with sublimity, he proceeds to a very ingenious, refined illustration of the operation on our minds; by observing, that “ the feelings at the same time, of which we are conscious in looking down from an eminence, are extremely curious, and are in some cases, modified by certain intellectual processes, which it is necessary to attend to, in order to understand completely the principles upon which depth has occasioned such a share, in adding to the power of sublime emotions.
“ The first and the most important of these processes is, the strong tendency of the imagination, to represent to us by an
ideal change of place, the feelings of those who are below, or to recall to us our own feelings, previous to our ascent. This tendency of the imagination we are the more disposed to indulge, as it is from below that altitudes are most frequently viewed, and as we are conscious, when we look downwards, of the unusual circumstances in which we are placed, we compare the apparent depth with the apparent height, and are astonished to find how much we had underrated the latter.” Surely the emotion, if I may judge by my own feelings, is occasioned instantaneously, when we come to the brink of a precipice, which often produces giddiness; but when we are a little familiarized to the view, and are at leisure to reason, we have lost the first emotion commonly called astonishment. Mr. S. then proceeds to describe the effects of religious ideas, and in sublime or soaring language elevates us to the “ Most High,” and afterwards observes, that “the region from which superstition draws all her omens and anticipations of futurity lies over our heads.” [I do not like the word lies.] “ It is there she observes the aspects of the planets, and the eclipses of the sun and moon, or watches the flight of birds, and the shifting lights about the pole. This too is the region of the most awful and alarming meteorological appearances, ' vapours and clouds and storms,' and (what is a circumstance of peculiar consequence in this argument,) of thunder, which has, in all countries, been regarded by the multitude, not only as the immediate effect of supernatural interposition, but an expression of displeasure from above. It is accordingly from this very phenomenon (as Mr. Burke has remarked,) that the word astonishment, which expresses the strongest emotion, produced by the sublime, is borrowed.”
Here the emotion occasioned by sublimity is made a cause to produce the feeling of astonishment, and not the agent thunder. Rising winds, blackening skies, thunder rumbling, flashing fires, all combine to create the emotion.
Mr. Stewart proceeds, “ If the former observations be just, instead of considering, with Mr. Burke, terror as the ruling principle of the religious sublime, it would be nearer the truth to say, that the terrible derives whatever character of sublimity belongs to it from religious associations.”
That savages should be alarmed by a storm, was a natural consequence-fear mixed with astonishment and they attributed by these emotions the threatening clouds to the Almighty's displeasure, the thunder to his voice, and the lightning to his vengeance. When terror predominates, the savage flies and secretes himself, and the emotion is lost in the natural desire of self preservation, which is an instinctive impulse.
Mr. Stewart exhibits much fancy and ingenuity, when he forms a connection between darkness and elevation, by the following argument.
“ It may not be improper to add, with respect to the awful phenomenon of thunder, that the intimate combination between its impression on the ear, and those appearances in the heavens, which are regarded as its signs or forerunners, must not only cooperate with the circumstances mentioned by Mr. Burke, in imparting to darkness the character of the terrible, but must strengthen, by a process still more direct, the connection between the ideas of darkness and of mere elevation. The same direction is naturally given to the fancy, by the darkness which preceded hurricanes, and also, during an eclipse of the sun, by the disastrous twilight shed on half the nations;' even in common discourse we speak of the fall of night, and of the fall of evening." ;
That sudden darkness, by conglomerated clouds, should produce the emotion of sublimity is a natural effect, but eclipses, which are foretold in newspapers, and for which we prepare our glasses, and from which we no longer apprehend disastrous consequences, do not, I conceive, now produce that emotion. Dryden's description of the Supreme Being's residence produces the emotion by an obscurity which prevents analysis, the emotions raised, making us, as it were, wonder lost.
“ His throne is darkness in the abyss of light,
“ A blaze of glory which forbids the sight.” The fall of night, the fall of evening, convey to us sensations opposite to cmotions of wonder,--serenity and pleasure unite,
“ When evening draws her crimson curtains round.”