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some one or other of its degrees, rises instantly, or at least may arise instantly to the mind, on the perception of the beautiful or excellent object, and with it the emotions, which have usually attended it. In our estimate of degrees of beauty, then, as often as we attempt to calculate these, it is the general notion, that has resulted from the contemplation of many excellent qualities, which, as one state of mind, arises to us, and directs us,-not the many separate states, which constitute the remembrances of many separate qualities. These, indeed, are not necessarily excluded though, as I have already said, they arise less, where the beauty is felt to be great, than where it is felt only in a less degree. Many analogous images may arise, and they do frequently arise ; and, if pleasing in themselves, may add to the gratification previously felt; but though they may arise, and when they arise, they increase the amount of pleasure,—they are far from being absolutely necessary to the pleasing emotion itself. Though we have a general notion attached to the word peace, this cannot ex: ist long in our mind, without exciting some particular conception in accordance with it,—though we know what is meant by the general word aniinal, independently of the particular species, which it may at different moments suggest, we yet cannot continue long to think of what is meant by the mere general word, without the suggestion of some particular animals. It would not be wonderful, then, that the general notion of beauty, which we have attached to a particular form, should of itself, give rise to particular suggestions of analogy, even though the form, on which we gaze, were not, of itself, capable of suggesting them; and it cannot, surely, be more wonderful, that it should allow these suggestions of objects analogous, when the particular form perceived is of a kind to concur in the tendency to this suggestion, with the general notion of beauty itself. It is this subsequent suggestion of trains of associate images, increasing perhaps the effect of the emotion that existed previously as a state of the mind, but not producing it, which has led the very ingenious theorist, to whom I have before alluded, to ascribe to these mere consequences of the feeling of beauty, that very feeling itself, which more probably gave occasion to them. Indeed, if the suggestion of particular images after images, and not the suggestion of one general delight, or the more general suggestion of beauty or excellence itself, be essen
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tial to the very existence of the emotion, it seems to me quite impossible to account for that instant, or almost instant delight, which beauty, in its form of most powerful attraction, seems to beam on the very eye that gazes on it.
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In these cases, there are instant conceptions of dignity, or of gentleness, which we attach to the imperial front of man, or to the more powerful, and more truly imperial smiles of woman. What we term expression, is the suggestion of that general character of intelligence and virtue, which is said to be expressed, -not the necessary suggestion of many separate truths, nor the suggestion of many separate acts of kindness,—which may be suggested, indeed, if we continue long to contemplate the intelligent and benevolent form; but which are, in that case, subsequent to the emotion, that, in its origin at least, truly preceded them.
Such are the modes in which I conceive the past, in our emotion of beauty, to influence the present. But if all which the past presents to us, be the conceptions of former delight, how happens it, that these conceptions, which often pass along our mind in reverie, with only faint and shadowy pleasure, should be heightened to so much rapture, when suggested by some real object before us? The images suggested may afford the sources of the delight; but the delight itself must be in some way modified, before it is converted into beauty. There is another part of the process, then, which we have not yet considered, to which it is necessary to direct your attention.
What is truly most important to the emotion of beauty, is this very part of the process which theorists have yet neglected. It is not the mere suggestion of certain conceptions, general or particular, for these oftén form a part of our trains of thought, without any very lively feeling as their consequence. It is the fixing and embodying of these in a real object before us, which gives to the
* Pleasures of Imaginatiou—2d form of the poem, B. I. v. 547–551.
whole, I conceive, one general impression of reality. This, I have little doubt, takes place, in the manner explained by me in former Lectures, when I treated of the peculiar influence of objects of perception, in giving liveliness to our trains of suggestion, and consequently greater liveliness to all the emotions which attend them. The delight of which we think, when images of the past arise, is very different from the delight which seems to be embodied in objects, and to meet our very glance, as the terror of the superstitious, when they think of a spectre in twilight, is very different from that which they feel, when their terror is incorporated in some shadowy form that gleams instinctively on their eye. But for a process of the kind which I have stated, I do not see how the effect of beauty, as seen, should be so very different as it most certainly is, from the effect produced by a long meditation on all those noble and gracious characters of virtue and intelligence,the mere expression, that is to say, the mere suggestion of which is stated to be all wbich constitutes it. It is, in short, as I have said, this very part of the process which seems 'to me the most important in the whole theory of beauty.
The increased effect of that incorporating process, which I suppose, in the case of beauty, is, in truth, nothing more than what we have found to take place in all the cases of suggestion of vivid images, by objects of perception, rather than by our fainter and more fugitive conceptions. The reality of what is truly before us, gives reality to all the associate images that blend and harmonize with it. We think of ancient Greece—we tread on the soil of Athens or Sparta. Our emotion, which was before faint, is now one of the liveliest of which our soul is susceptible, because it is fixed and realized in the existing and present object. The same images arise to us, but they coexist now as they rise, with all the monuments which we behold, with the land itself, with the sound of those waves, which are dashing now as they dashed so many ages before, when their murmur was heard by the heroes of whom we think-all now lives before us, and when we behold a beautiful form, all the images suggested by it, live in like manner in it. It does not suggest to us what was once delightful, but it is itself representative of what was once delightful. The visions of other years exist again to our very eyes. We see embodied all which we feel in our mind; and the source of delight which is itself real,
gives instant reality to the delight itself, and to all the harmonizing images that blend with it. We may, even in solitude, think with pleasure of the kindness of smiles and tones which we have loved; but when a smile of the same kind is beaming on us, or when we listen to similar tones, it is no longer a mere dream of happiness,—the whole seems one equal perception, and we are surrounded again, as it were, with all the vivid happiness of
Though the result of our inquiry into original beauty, then, has led us to adopt the greater probability of some original susceptibilities of emotions of this sort, that are independent of the arbitrary associations which must be formed in the progress of life, we have found sufficient reason to ascribe to this slow and silent growth of circumstances of adventitious delight, almost all the beauty which is worthy of the name :—and we have seen, I flatter myself, in what manner these circumstances operate in inducing the emotion. This happy effect, I have shewn, to be too instantaneous to be the result of a rapid review or suggestion of many particulars, in each separate case, but to depend on the combination with the objects which we term beautiful, of some instant complex feeling of past delight, or of those general notions of beauty and excellence, which themselves, indeed, originally resulted from the observation of particulars, but which afterwards are capable of being suggested as one feeling of the mind, like our other general notions of every species; and, when combined with objects really existing, or felt as if really existing, to derive from this impression of reality in the harmonizing objects with which they are mingled in our perception, a liveliness without which they could not have exercised their delightful dominion on our heart.
Such, I conceive, then, in the principles on which it depends, is that delightful dominion, which is exercised on our heart, not directly by mind only, but by the very forms of inanimate nature.
“ Hence the wide universe,