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SECT. XCVII.

A DISPUTE.

When do&ors disagree who can decide ?

In considering the laws of the fibrous system, we contemplated several INDIRECT STIMULI, as Cold, Darkness, Sleep, Impure Air, Rest, Hunger, and lastly the different Asphyxias ; and tracing their effects on the aniinated body, we were enabled from these to establish a General Law; but whether they had any direct operation of their own, or only predisposed (by not consuming irritability) the fibre to greater action when the direct stimuli should be applied, as Heat, Light, Pure Air, Exercise, Food, &c. was not determined * so of INDIRECT NERVOUS STIMULI a dispute still remains unsettled, whether these are only negative states, the abstraction of some powerful exciting emotion? or whether they have a direct distinct power of their own?

GIRTANNER, and Brown, say the passions differ from each another only in stimulating the irritable fibre

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* We however inclined to this last opinion.

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more or less. Anger and joy are very powerful degrees of the nervous stimulus; content and hope are lower degrees; fear, despair, and sorrow, are not abfolute degrees of this ftimulus, they are only the abstraction of the stimuli of hope, content, and happiness. Anger and joy act as very powerful stimuli, and exhaust the irritability of the fibre in the same manner as any other stįmulus whatever. Content and hope are degrees of the nervous stimulus necessary to preserve the tone of the fibre. Sorrow and despair are degrees too weak.

In a discourse on taste, written by Dr. Usher, we find nearly the same sentiment. The system I mean to propose, says this elegant writer, is that of a friend of mine, who was a true lover of knowledge. He found little satisfaction in the philosophy of colleges and schools, particularly in those enquiries he thought of most importance: he had withdrawn himself from the trifling bustle of the little world, to converse with his own heart, and end a stormy life in obscure quiet. One day, after dinner, we walked out to indulge on our favourite topic. Our excursion terminated at a rock, whose base is washed by the western ocean. It was one of those fine days in August, when the cool of the evening brought on a refreshing {weetness. We sat down to rest and enjoy the prospect of the sea, that stretclred before us beyond the limits of the eye. The sun was just setting, and his last softened beams flying to the shore, seemed to dip in a thousand waves, and leave in the waters the blaze they loft. Being seated, our conversation turned on the sublime. It is easy, says this thoughtful philosopher, to describe the impressions the sublime make on the mind, and this is all the writers on this subjet have hitherto done, but is it impoffible, from a due attention to the fyınptoms, to unravel its meaning, and discover the spring of the filent astonishment it impresses on the spirit of man? In order to proceed to the discovery we desire to make, let us turn our views to objects remarkably sublime, and from them obtain what intelligence we can.

Observe this mountain that rises fo high on the left, if we had been further removed froin it, you might see behind it other mountains rising in strange confusion, the furthest off almost, lost in the distance, yet great in the obscurity; your imagination labours to travel over them, and the inha- : bitants seem to reside in a superior world. But here you have a different prospect, the next mountain covers all the rest from your view ; and by its nearer approach, presents distinctly to your eye objects of new admira

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tion. The rocks on this fide meet the clouds in taft ira regularity; the pensive eye traces the rugged precipice down to the bottom, and surveys there the mighty ruins that time has mouldered and tumbled below. It is easy, in this instance, to discover that we are terrified and filenced into awe, at the marks we fee of immenfe power ;

and the more manifest are the appearances of disorder, and the neglect of contrivance, the more plainly we feel the boundlefs might these rude monuments are owing to. The same sensation arifes when we behold an ocean disturbed and agitated in storms; or a forest roaring, and bending under the tempeft. We are struck by it with more calmness, but equal grandeur, in the starry heavens: the silence, the unmeasured distance, and the unknown power united in that prospect, render it very awful in the deepest ferenity. Thunder, with broken bursts of lightning through black clouds ; the view of a cataract, whose billows fling themselves down with eternal rage ; or the unceasing sound of the falling waters of night; all these , produce the effect of the fublime, and are affociated with the sensation of immense power. This religious paffion has none of the tumult of other passions, its object is incomprehensible, it is unknown; therefore the paffion

is in itself obscure, and wants a name. Curiosity and hope carry with them the plainest symptoms of a passion that wanders and is astray from its object. In their anxious search, they unite themselves with every great prospect of life, whose completion lies in the dark : but when we arrive at the point we proposed, we are fully sensible that curiosity and hope have been deceived, the enjoyment of our power, whatever it be, falls infinitely below our expectations, yet the alacrity of the mind feels no decay by disappointment; we set out immediately with renewed vigour in pursuit of something further, and nothing but death puts an end to these active energies of the soul. Such passions as these are scared away by the majesty of darkness and of filence, by the disorder and confusion of seas in storms, or when lofty woods struggle with high winds, and we are struck with humiliating awe and suspense.

We secretly cry, 5. What is 'man that thou art mindful of him, and the “ son of man that thou shouldest regard him.” I appeal to the feelings of every person, if his passion, under these circumstances, be not exactly applicable to this state of the mind, when confidence almost vanishes, and despair succeeds. ' All mankind agree, that darkness, so litude, and filence, naturally oppress the mind by a treVOL. IV.

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