« EdellinenJatka »
Born 1730-Died 1797.
ON THE SUBLIME AND BEAUTIFUL.
Now, as words affect, not by any original power, but by representation, it might be supposed, that their influence over the passions should be but light; yet it is quite otherwise ; for we find by experience, that eloquence and poetry are as capable, nay indeed much more capable, of making deep and lively impressions than any other arts, and even than nature itself in very many cases. And this arises chiefly from these three causes. First, that we take an extraordinary part in the passions of others, and that we are easily affected and brought into sympathy by any tokens which are shewn of them; and there are no tokens which can express all the circumstances of most passions so fully as words ; so that if a person speaks upon any subject, he can not only convey the subject to you, but likewise the manner in which he is himself affected by it. Certain it is, that the influence of most things on our passions is not so much from the things themselves, as from our opinions concerning them; and these again depend very much on the opinions of other men, conveyable for the most part by words only. Secondly, there are many things of a very affecting nature, which can seldom occur in the reality, but the words which represent them often do; and thus they have an opportunity of making a deep impression and taking root in the mind, whilst the idea of the reality was transient ; and to some perhaps never really occurred in any shape, to whom it is notwithstanding very affecting; as war, death, famine, &c. Besides many
ideas have never been at all presented to the senses of any men but by words, as God, angels, devils, heaven, and hell, all of which have however a great influence over the passions. Thirdly, by words we have it in our power to make such combina
tions as we cannot possibly do otherwise. By this power
Sanguine fødantem quos ipse sacraverat ignes.
-O'er many a dark and dreary vale
[death, Here is displayed the force of union in
Rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs, dens, and shades ; which yet would lose the greatest part of their effect, if they were not the
Rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs, dens, and shades
-of death. This idea or this affection caused by a word, which nothing but a word could annex to the others, raises a very great degree of the sublime; and this sublime is raised yet higher by what follows, “a universe of death.” Here are again two ideas not presentable but by language ; and an union of them great and amazing beyond conception; if they may properly be called ideas which present no distinct image to the mind : but still it will be difficult to conceive how words can move the passions which belong to real objects, without representing these objects clearly. This is difficult to us, because we do not sufficiently distinguish, in our observations upon language, between a clear expression, and a strong expression. These are frequently confounded with each other, though they are in reality extremely different. The former regards the understanding; the latter belongs to the passions. The one describes a thing as it is; the latter describes it as it is felt. Now, as there is a moving tone of voice, an impassioned countenance, an agitated gesture, which affect independently of the things about which they are exerted, so there are words, and certain dispositions of words, which being peculiarly devoted to passionate subjects, and always used by those who are under the influence of any passion, touch and move us more than those which far more clearly and distinctly express the subject matter.
We yield to sympathy what we refuse to description. The truth is, all verbal description, merely as naked description, though never so exact, conveys so poor and insufficient an idea of the thing described, that it could scarcely have the smallest effect, if the speaker did not call in to his aid those modes of speech that mark a strong and lively feeling in himself. Then, by the contagion of our passions, we catch a fire already kindled in another, which probably might never have been struck out by the object described. Words, by strongly conveying the passions, by those means which we have already mentioned, fully compensate for their weakness in other respects. It may be observed, that very polished languages, and such as are praised for their superior clearness and perspicuity, are generally deficient in strength. The French language has that perfection and that defect. Whereas the oriental tongues, and in general the languages of most unpolished people, have a great force and energy of expression ; and this is but natural. Uncultivated people are but ordinary
observers of things, and not critical in distinguishing them ; but, for that reason, they admire more, and are more affected with what they see, and therefore express themselves in a warmer and more passionate
If the affection be well conveyed, it will work its effect without any clear idea ; often without any idea at all of the thing which has originally given rise to it.
SPEECH ON CONCILIATION WITH AMERICA.
Mr. Speaker, I cannot prevail on myself to hurry over this great consideration. It is good for us to be here. We stand where we have an immense view of what is, and what is past. Clouds, indeed, and darkness, rest upon the future. Let us, however, before we descend from this noble eminence, reflect that this growth of our national prosperity has happened within the short period of the life of man.
It has happened within sixty-eight years. There are those alive whose memory might touch the two extremities. For instance, my Lord Bathurst might remember all the stages of the
progress. He was in 1704 of an age at least to be made to comprehend such things. He was then old enough acta parentum jam legere, et quæ sit poterit cognoscere virtus-Suppose, Sir, that the angel of this auspicious youth, foreseeing the many virtues, which made him one of the most amiable, as he is one of the most fortunate men of his age, had opened to him in vision, that, when, in the fourth generation, the third prince of the house of Brunswick had sat twelve
years on the throne of that nation, which, by the happy issue of moderate and healing counsels, was to be made Great Britain, he should see his son, Lord Chancellor of England, turn back the current of hereditary dignity to its fountain, and raise him to an higher rank of peerage,
whilst he enriched the family with a new one. If amidst these bright and happy scenes of domestic honour and prosperity, that angel should have drawn
the curtain, and unfolded the rising glories of his country, and whilst he was gazing with admiration on
the then commercial grandeur of England, the genius should point out to him a little speck, scarce visible in the mass of the national interest, a small seminal principle, rather than a formed body, and should tell him
-“ Young man, there is America—which at this day
serves for little more than to amuse you with stories “ of savage men, and uncouth manners; yet shall, “ before you taste of death, shew itself equal to the “ whole of that commerce which now attracts the envy “ of the world. Whatever England has been growing
to by a progressive improvement, brought in by “ varieties of people, by succession of civilising con
quests and civilising settlements in a series of seven“ teen hundred years, you shall see as much added to
her by America in the course of a single life !" If this state of his country had been foretold to him, would it not require all the sanguine credulity of youth, and all the fervid glow of enthusiasm, to make him believe it? Fortunate inan, he has lived to see it! Fortunate indeed, if he lives to see nothing that shall vary the prospect, and cloud the setting of his day!
SPEECH ON THE NABOB OF ARCOT'S DEBTS.
When at length Hyder Ali found that he had to do with men who either would sign no convention, or whom no treaty, and no signature could bind, and who were the determined enemies of human intercourse itself, he decreed to make the country possessed by these incorrigible and predestinated criminals a memorable example to mankind. He resolved, in the gloomy recesses of a mind capacious of such things, to leave the whole Carnatic an everlasting monument of vengeance, and to put perpetual desolation as a barrier between him and those, against whom the faith which holds the moral elements of the world together was no protection. He became at length so confident of his force, so collected in his might, that he made no secret whatsoever of his dreadful resolution. Having terminated his disputes with every enemy, and every rival,