Sidor som bilder

From this argument, and from a consciousness, that the painters more frequently delineate what they wish to see, than what they do see, we might be tempted to infer, that the pictures of the poets, the more substantial creations of the painter, and the more splendid visions of the imagination, are, in reality, more beautiful, than the productions of Nature herself. But, though this arises from the circumstance of our taking only a superficial view of colours and forms, and from our inability to view Nature in detail and in combination too, and thence tracing the beauty of contrivance to the importance of its end, we will admit of the argument for the sake of the corollary.-A proof, a decisive, as well as an argumentative proof, of the ETERNITY OF THE MIND is established by it!--For, as man can never be supposed to have arrived at his proper sphere in the universe, while he is capable of conceiving objects more grand, or more beautiful than those, which Nature has thought proper to set before him; the very circumstance of his ability to conceive a combination of objects superior is, in itself, a sufficient ground for conviction, that the ETERNAL ARCHITECT AS OTHER SCENES TO EXHIBIT TO HIS ADMIRATION. The proper sphere for immortality is that, in which no objects can be imagined superior to those, presented. If, when our friend Harmonica has arrived at the third heaven, she is capable of imagining something superior even to that, I would instantly declare, in the face of all the sceptics in the world, that there was a FOURTH HEAVEN. The state of absolute perfection is that, in which the mind, having lost the faculty of imagination, finds sufficient exercise in the contem: plation of its own beatitude.


Through the medium combination of scenery frequently appears to have the power of pártaking our delights, or of sympathizing in our misfortunes. As are our feelings, so does all nature seem to accord. Are we cheerful and gay? Every bird, every field, and every flower, are objects of delight. Are our spirits worn down with sorrow? Melancholy

round us throws
A death-like silence, and a dread repose.
Her gloomy presence saddens all the scene,
Shades every flower, and darkens all the green;
Deepens the murmur of the falling floods,

And breathes a browner horror o'er the woods. Inanimate objects thus become, as it were, associates in our grief; and, not unfrequently, by the lessons they prefer, administering angels of consolation. When Cicero lamented the death of his daughter, Tullia, SERVIUS SULPITIUS wrote him a letter.- Once,” said he, “ when I was in distress, I received a sensible alleviation of my sorrow from a circumstance, which, in the hope of its having the same influence upon you, I will take this opportunity of relating. I was returning from Asia; and as I was steering my course, I began to contemplate the surrounding country. Behind me was Egina ; Megara in the front: the Piræus occupied my right hand,

and Corinth my left. These cities, once flourishing, were now reduced to irretrievable ruin. "Alas !". said I, somewhat indignantly, sha!l' man presume to complain of the shortness, and the ills of life, whose being in this world is necessarily short, when I see so many cities, at one view, totally destroyed This reflection, my friend, relieved my sorrow.''!.

Such was the influence of scenerial accompaniments on the mind of the elegant Sulpitius; and such, it may be presumed, was the consolation, derived even by the sanguinary Marius among the ruins of Carthage :-where, as Livy’ finely observes, Carthage seeing Marius, and Marius Carthage, the one might serve as a consolation to the other.

The answer of Marius to the prætor of Africa is one of the finest indications of a strong mind, recorded in history, and is well suited to our argument. Oppressed with every species of misfortune, Marius, after escaping many dangers, arrived at length in Africa; where he hoped to have received some mark of favour from the governor. He was scarcely landed, when an officer came to hiin, and addressed him after the following manner:-“Marius, I am directed by the Prætor to forbid your landing in Africa. If, after this message, you should persist in doing so, he will not fail to treat you as a public enemy”. ---Struck with indignation at this unexpected intelligence, Marius, without making any reply, fixed his eyes, in a stern and menacing manner, upon the officer. In this position he stood for some time. At length, the officer desiring to know whether he chose to return any answer ;_“Yes,” replied Marius, “ go to the Prætor, and tell him, that thou hast seen the exiled. Marius, sitting among the ruins of Carthage.”

1 Cic. Ep. ad Famil. lib. iv. Ep. 5. Pausanias has a similar reflection, lib. ii.

2 Inopemque vitam in lugurio ruinarum Carthaginiensium toleravit, cum Marius inspiciens Carthaginem, illa intuens Marium, alter alteri posset. esse solalio.

· How often, my Lelius, when sauntering along the gardens of Kew and Kensington, leaving the giddy throng with our admirable friend, Agrippa, have we desired him once more to traverse the shores of Greece and Egypt !--Then he has described to us the awe, with which he stood on the spot, which the natives had assured him was that, on which the city of Memphisformerly stood. A city, which was destroyed before Nineveh ; and the fate of which was so freely foretold by Ezekiel and Jeremiah. Then he has glanced to Thebes ;—the ruins of which are still visible at the village of Luxor; and at the sight of which he stood, for some time, rapt in silent astonishment. Ruins which, .extravagant as the accounts which Strabo' and Diodorus’ have left of the length and height of the temples, this city contained, have proved to be even below the truth.

1 Plut. in Vit. Mar.-The picture of Belisarius, by Salvator Rosa, at Rainham, in the County of Norfolk, is supposed by some to be a Marius : —but it has not sufficient ferocity in the character of its expression.Among the Oxford marbles is a fine whole-length figure of Marius ;--a perfect emblem of bodily strength! And Dr. Chauncey had a .gem on cornelian ; with an expression worthy the peculiar attention of a Lavater. But there is no resemblance between this head, and that of Belisarius.

» Memphis is generally called Noph and No ju scripture. Nahum, c. iii, v. 8.

3 Ezek. C. xxx. v, 13. Jerem., c. xlvi., v, 19.

Then we have desired him to revert to Greece. To Achaia-to Corinth-to Athens, and to the shores. of Lesbos and Mytelene; and to describe to us the erections, associating the styles of Æschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides*; and the feelings, with which he visited the birthplaces of so many sages, poets, and historians; so many wise legislators; and so many celebrated statesmen. All residing in matchless scenery, rendered still more enchanting by a matchless climate.

Who could behold the ruins of the citadel, the temple of victory, and that of Minerva at Athens ;the marble fragments of the Erectheum, and the prodigious columns of the temple of Jupiter Olym1 Lib. xvii.

9 Lib. i., par. 2. 3 Potter, --one of our best critics,-has three beautiful illustratious. “ The sublime and daring Æschylus," says he,“ resembles some strong and impregnable castle, situated on a rock, whose martial grandeur awes the beholder ; its battlements defended by heroes in arms, and its gates proudly hung with trophies. SOPHOCLES appears with splendid dignity, like some imperial palace of richest architecture, the symmetry of whose parts, and the chaste magnificence of the whole, delight the eye and command the approbation of the judgment. The pathetic and moral EURIPIDES hath the solemnity of a Gothic temple, whose storied windows admit a dim religious light, enough to shew us its high embossed roof, and the monuments of the dead, which rise in every part, impressing our minds with pity and terror at the uncertain and short duration of human greatness, and with an awful sense of our own mortality.”

« FöregåendeFortsätt »