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ordinary means. (For the beauty of some objects we are indebted entirely to nature; but, with respect to the endless variety of objects that owe their beauty to art and culture, the perception of beauty (greatly promotes industry; being to us a strong additional incitement to enrich our fields, and improve our manufactures. These, however, are but slight effects, compared with the connexions that are formed among individuals in society by means of this singular mechanism: the qualifications of the head and heart form undoubtedly the most solid and most permanent connexions; but external beauty, which lies more in view, has a more extensive influence in forming these connexions: at any rate, it concurs in an eminent degree with mental qualifications to produce social intercoure, mutual goodwill, and consequently mutual aid and support, which are the life of society.
It must not, however, be overlooked, that the perception of beauty doth not, when immoderate, tend to advance the interests of society. Love, in particular, arising from a perception of beauty, loses, when excessive, its sociable character: the appetite for gratification prevailing over affection for the beloved object, is ungovernable; and tends violently to its end, regardless of the misery that must follow. Love, in that state, is no longer a sweet agreeable passion: it becomes painful, like hunger or thirst; and produceth no happiness but in the instant of fruition. This discovery suggests a most important lesson, That moderation in our desires and appetites, which fits us for doing our duty, contributes at the same time the most to bappiness: even social passions, when moderate, are more pleasant than when they swell beyond proper bounds.
Grandeur and Sublimity.
NATURE hath not more remarkably distinguished us from other animals by an erect posture, than by a capacious and aspiring mind, attaching us to things great and elevated. The ocean, the sky, seize the attention, and make a deep impression:* robes of state are made large and full, to draw respect we admire an elephant for its magnitude, notwithstanding its unwieldiness.
The elevation of an object affects us no less than its magnitude: a high place is chosen for the statue of a deity or hero: a tree growing on the brink of a precipice looks charming when viewed from the plain below a throne is erected for the chief magistrate; and a chair with a high seat for the president of a court. Among all nations, heaven is placed far above us, hell far below us.
In some objects, greatness and elevation concur to make a complicated impression: the Alps and the Peak of Teneriffe are proper examples; with the following difference, that in the former greatness seems to prevail, elevation in the latter.
The emotions raised by great and by elevated objects, are clearly distinguishable, not only in in
Longinus observes, that nature inclines us to admire, not a small rivulet, however clear and transparent, but the Nile, the Ister, the Rhine, or still more the ocean. The sight of a small fire produceth no emotion; but we are struck with the boiling furnaces of Etna, pouring out whole rivers of liquid flame. Treatise of the Sublime, chap. xxix.
ternal feeling, but even in their external expressions. A great object makes the spectator endeavour to enlarge his bulk; which is remarkable in plain people, who give way to nature without reserve; in describing a great object, they naturally expand themselves by drawing in air with all their force. An elevated object produces a different expression it makes the spectator stretch upward, and stand a-tiptoe.
Great and elevated objects considered with relation to the emotions produced by them, are termed grand and sublime. (Grandeur and sublimity have a double signification :) they commonly signify the quality or circumstance in objects by which the emotions of grandeur and sublimity are produced; sometimes the emotions themselves.
In handling the present subject, it is necessary that the impression made on the mind by the magnitude of an object, abstracting from its other qualities, should be ascertained. And because abstraction is a mental operation of some difficulty, the safest method for judging is, to choose a plain object that is neither beautiful nor deformed, if such a one can be found. The plainest that occurs, is a huge mass of rubbish, the ruins, perhaps, of some extensive building, or a large heap of stones, such as are collected together for keeping in memory a battle or other remarkable event. Such an object, which in miniature would be perfectly indifferent, makes an impression by its magnitude, and appears agreeable. And supposing it so large, as to fill the eye, and to prevent the attention from wandering upon other objects, the impression it makes will be so much the deeper.*
But, though a plain object of that kind be agree
* See Appendix, terms defined, sect. 33.
able, it is not termed grand: it is not entitled to that character, unless, together with its size, it be possessed of other qualities that contribute to beauty, such as regularity, proportion, order, or colour: and according to the number of such qualities combined with magnitude, it is more or less grand. Thus, St. Peter's church at Rome, the great pyramid of Egypt, the Alps towering above the clouds, a great arm of the sea, and, above all, a clear and serene sky, are grand, because, beside their size, they are beautiful in an eminent degree. On the other hand, an overgrown whale, having a disagreeable appearance, is not grand. A large building, agreeable by its regularity and proportions, is grand, and yet a much larger building destitute of regularity, has not the least tincture of grandeur. A single regiment in battle-array, makes a grand appearance; which the surrounding crowd does not, though perhaps ten for one in number. And a regiment where the men are all in one livery, and the horses of one colour, makes a grander appearance, and consequently strikes more terror, than where there is confusion of colours and of dress. Thus greatness or magnitude is the circumstance that distinguishes grandeur from beauty: agreeableness is the genus, of which beauty and grandeur are species.
The emotion of grandeur, duly examined, will be found an additional proof of the foregoing doctrine. That this emotion is pleasant in a high degree, requires no other evidence but once to have seen a grand object; and if an emotion of grandeur be pleasant, its cause or object, as observed above, must infallibly be agreeable in proportion.
The qualities of grandeur and beauty are not more distinct, than the emotions are, which these qualities produce in a spectator. It is observed in
the chapter immediately foregoing, that all the various emotions of beauty have one common character, that of sweetness and gaiety. The emotion of grandeur has a different character: a large object that is agreeable, occupies the whole attention, and swells the heart into a vivid emotion, which, though extremely pleasant, is rather serious than gay. And this affords a good reason for distinguishing in language these different emotions. The emotions raised by colour, by regularity, by proportion, and by order, have such a resemblance to each other, as readily to come under one general term, viz. the emotion of beauty; but the emotion of grandeur is so different from these mentioned, as to merit a peculiar name.
Though regularity, proportion, order, and colour, contribute to grandeur as well as to beauty, yet these qualities are not by far so essential to the former as to the latter. To make out that propo. sition, some preliminaries are requisite. In the first place, the mind, not being totally occupied with a small object, can give its attention at the same time to every minute part; but in a great or extensive object, the mind being totally occupied with the capital and striking parts, has no attention left for those that are little or indifferent. In the next place, two similar objects appear not similar when viewed at different distances; the similar parts of a very large object cannot be seen but at different distances; and for that reason, its regularity, and the proportion of its parts, are in some measure lost to the eye; neither are the irregularities of a very large object so conspicuous as of one that is small. Hence it is, that a large object is not so agreeable by its regularity, as a small object; nor so disagreeable by its irregularities.
These considerations make it evident, that grandeur is satisfied with a less degree of regularity and