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LECT. the terrible, tend greatly to assist the Sublime;
such as darkness, folitude, and silence. What
How oft, amidst
Book II. 263 Observe, with how much art Virgil has introduced all those ideas of filence, vacuity, and darkness, when he is going to introduce his
Hero to the infernal regions, and to disclose Lect. the secrets of the great deep.
Dii quibus imperium est animarum, umbræque silentes,
OBSCURITY, we are farther to remark, is not unfavourable to the Sublime. Though
* Ye fubterranean Gods, whose awful sway
The gliding ghosts and filent shades obey;
LECT. it render the object indistinct, the impreffiont,
however, may be great; for, as an ingenious
Author has well observed, it is one thing to Á
make an idea clear, and another to make it affecting to the imagination ; and the imagination may be strongly affected, and, in fact, often is so, by objects of which we have no clear conception. Thus we see, that almost all the descriptions given us of the appearances of supernatural Beings, carry some Sublimity, though the conceptions which they afford us be confused and indistinct. Their Sublimity arises from the ideas, which they always convey, of superior power and might, joined with an awful obscurity. We may see this fully exemplified in the following noble passage of the book of Job. “ In thoughts from the « visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth
upon - men, fear came upon me, and “ trembling, which made all my bones to " shake. Then a spirit paffed before my “ face; the hair of my flesh stood up: it stood « still; but I could not discern the form " thereof; an image was before mine eyes ; " there was silence; and I heard a voice“ Shall mortal man be more just than God * ?"
* The picture which Lucretius has drawn of the domi. nion of superstition over mankind, representing it as a portentous spectre showing its head from the clouds, and difmaying the whole human race with its countenance, together with the magnanimity of Epicurus in raising himself
(Job, iv. 15.) No ideas, it is plain, are fo LE C T. sublime as those taken from the Supreme Being; the most unknown, but the greatest of all objects; the infinity of whose nature, and the eternity of whose duration, joined with the omnipotence of his power, though they surpass our conceptions, yet exalt them to the highest. In general, all objects that are greatly raised above us, or far removed from us, either in space or in time, are apt to Itrike us as great. Our viewing them, as through the mift of distance or antiquity, is favourable to the impressions of their Sub. limity.
As obscurity, fo disorder too, is very compatible with grandeur; nay, frequently heightens it. Few things that are strictly regular, and methodical, appear sublime. We see the limits on every side; we feel ourselves confined; there is no room for the mind's exerting any great effort. Exact proportion of parts, though it enters often into
up against it, carries all the grandeur of a sublime, obscure,
Humana ante oculos fæde cum vita jaceret
: VOL, I,
LECT, the beautiful, is much disregarded in the Sub.
lime. A great mass of rocks, thrown together by the hand of nature with wildness and confusion, ftrike the mind with more grandeur, than if they had been adjusted to one another with the most accurate symmetry:
In the feeble attempts, which human art can make towards producing grand objects (feeble, I mean, in comparison with the powers of nature), greatness of dimensions always constitutes a principal part. No pile of building can convey any idea of Sublimity, unless it be ample and lofty. There is, too, in architecture, what is called Greatness of manner; which seems chiefly to arise, from presenting the object to us in one full point of view; so that it shall make its impression whole, entire, and undivided, upon the mind, A Gothic cathedral raises ideas of grandeur in our minds, by its size, its height, its awful obscurity, its strength, its antiquity, and its durability.
THERE still remains to be mentioned one class of Sublime objects, which may be called the moral, or sentimental Sublime; arising from certain exertions of the human mind; from certain affections, and actions, of our fellow-creatures. These will be found to be all, or chiefly, of that class, which comes un