Page images

Scenes of this nature, dignified by poet, to the actual contemplation apt and striking description, we re- of affecting scenes. In both, the gard with something of the fame pleasure is supposed to originate in feelings, with which we look upon selfishness. But, wherever the soa dead monster.

cial passions are deeply interested,

as they are here supposed to be, Informe cadaver, from the pathetic description, or Protrahitur: nequeuntexpleri corda tuendo the still more pathetic survey, of Terribiles oculos, vultum, villosaque ictis Pectora femiferi, atque extinctos faucibus the lutterings of another, the symignes.

Virgit. pathetic feelings will, of themselves,

at once, and previously to all reflec* This, he observes, is more tion, become a source of agreeable particularly the case, where the de- and tender emotions. They will Icription raises a ferment in the thus dignify and enhance the fatis mind, and works with violence up- faction, if any such be felt, arising on the paflions. One would won- merely from the confideration of der, adds he, how it comes to pass, our own personal security. And that passions, which are very un- the more entirely we enter into the pleasant at all other times, are very scene, hy losing all ideas of its beagreeable, when excited by proper ing either paft or fabulous, the defcription ; such as terror, dejeca more perfectly we forget ourselves, tion, grief, &c. This pleasure a. and are absorbed in the feeling, rises from the reflection we make the more exquisite is the sensation. upon ourselves, whilit reading it, " But, as our subsequent speque that we are not in danger from lations will chiefly turn upon the them. When we read of wounds, pleasure derived from real scenes of death, &c. our pleasure does not calamity, and not from those which rise to properly from the grief are imaginary, it may be expected, which these melancholy defcrip. that we produce instances, in proof, tions give us, as from the secret that such pleasure is felt by percomparison we make of ourselves fons very different in their taste, with those who suffer. We should and mental cultivation. not feel the same kind of pleasure, “I will not mention the horrid if we actually saw a person lying joy with which the savage feasts his under the tortures, that we meet eye upon the agonies and contorwith in a description."

tions of his expiring prisoner~9x• “ And yet, upon the principle piring in all the pains which artiassigned by this amiable writer, we ficial cruelty can inflict! Nor will might feel the same, or even higher I turn your eye to the almost pleasure, from the actual view of equally savage fons of ancient diitress, than from any description; Rome, when the majesty of the because the comparison of ourselves Roman people could ruth, with ea, with the sufferer would be more gerness and transport, to behold vivid, and consequently, the feel. hundreds of gladiators contending ing more intense. I would only in fatal conflict, and, probably, more observe, that the cause which he than half the number extended, affigns for chis pleasure, is the very weltering in blood, and writhing Came with that assigned by Lucre. in agony, upon the plain. Nor tius in our mocco. Mr. Addison will I mention the Spanish bull. applies it to the description; the feasts; oor the fervent acclamations


of an English mob around their dreadful scenery, now lified to the fellow-creatures, when engaged in heavens on the foaining furge, now furious battle, in which it is polfi- plunged deep into the fathomless ble, that some of the combatants abyss, and now dashed upon the may receive a mortal blow, and be rocks, where they are, in a mohurried, dreadful thought! in this ment, thivered into fragments, and, awful Itate, to the bar of his with all their mariners, entombed Judge.

in the wave. Or, to vary the quel. “Let us survey the multitudes tion a little ; Who would not be which, in every part of the king forward to stand safe, on the top of dom, always attend an execution. some mountain or tower, adjoiaing It may perhaps he faid, that, in all to a field of battle, in which two places the vulgar have little of the arinies meet in desperate conflict, fensibility and tenderness of more though, probably, thousands may polished bosoms. But, in the last foon lie before him prostrate on the mentioned instance, an execution, ground, and the whole field present there is no exultation in the futter- the most horrid scenes of carnure ings of the poor criminal. He is and desola ion?

. regarded by every eye with the moit “ That, in all these cases, plea. melting compaffion. The whole fure predominates in the CODassembly sympathizes with him in pounded feeling, is plain from his unhappy lituation. An awful hence, because you continue to stillness prevails at the dreadful survey the scene; whereas when moment. Many are wrung with pain became the stronger sensation, unutterable fensations : and prayer you would certainly retire. I was and filence declare, more loudly lately in company with a gentle than any language could, the inte. man, who described to me, in very relt they feel in his distress. Should glowing and picturesque colours, a reprieve come to relcue him from an engagement between two priva. death, how great is the general teers, of which he had been a fpec. triumph and congratulation! And, tator from one of the cliffs on the probably, in this multitude you eastern coast of England. Several will find, not the inerc vulgar herd lives were loft ; and the conteit was alone, but the man of superior long, doubtful, and severe. Have knowledge, and of more refined sen- ing this subject in my thoughts, I fibility ; who, led by some strong asked him, whether he felt ple fure principle, which we with to ex- in the spectacle. He answered with plain, feels a pleasure greater than great energy, that he would not all the pain, great and exquilite as have missed the fight for a very one should imagine it to be, from confiderable fum. His tone and such a spectacle.

manner proved that he spoke from " The man who condemns many his heart. of the scenes we have already men. " Caltivation may, indeed, bare tioned as barbarous and shocking, produced fome minuter differences would, probably, run with the in the taste and feelings of different greatell eagerness to some high cliff, minds. Those, whose sensibilities overhanging the ocean, to fee it have not been refined by education swelled into tempel, though a poor or science, may feel the pleasure vessel, or even a fleet of velfels, in a more gross and brutal form. were to appear as one part of the But do not the most polished pa


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

tures feel a similar, a kindred plea- of this existence, that thy foftening soul fure, in the deep-wrought diftreffes At length may learn, what energy the

hand of the well-imagined scene? Here. Of Virtue mingles in the bitter tide the endeavour is, to introduce Of Palion, swelling with distress and pain, whatever is dreadful or pathetic, To mitigate the harp, with gracious drops whatever can harrow up the feel. Of cordial Pleasure, lk the faithful ings, or extort the tear. And the youth, deeper and more tragical the scene Why the cold urn of her, whom long he

loved, becomes, the more it agitates the So often fills his arm ? So often draws several paisions of terror, grief, or His lonely footsteps, at the silent hour, pity—the more intensely it de- To pay the mournful tribute of his tears ? lichts, even the most polished minds. O! he will tell thee, that the wealth of

worlds They seem to enjoy the various and

Should ne'er feduce his bosom to forego vivid emotions of contending pal. That sacred hour, when stealing from the fions. They love to have the tear noise trembling in the eye, aud to feel of care and envy, sweet remembrance the whole foul rapt in thrilling sensations. For that monent, they

With Virtue's kindest looks, his aching

breist, seem to forget the fiction; and at. And turns his tears to rapture. Ak the terwards commend that exhibition

croud, mott, in which they most entirely which fi es impatient from the villageloit fight of the author, and of their


To climb the neighbouring cliffs, when own situation, and were alive to all"

far below the unutterable vibrations of strong The crnel winds have hurled upon the or melting sensibility,

coast “ Taking it, then, for granted, Some helpless bark : whilst sacred Pity that in the contemplation of many


any The general eye, or Terror's icy hand scenes of distress, both imaginary Smites their distorted limbs, or horrent and real, a gratificatidn is felt, let us hair, endeavour to account for it, by while every mother closer to her breaft mentioning some of those princi. Catches her child; and, pointing where ples, woven into the web of hu

the waves

Foam through the shattered vessel, frieks man nature, by its benevolent

aloud, Creator, on which that gratification As one poor wretch, that spreads his pic depends.

teous arms Dr. Akenside, with his accuf. For succour, swallowed by the roaring tomed strength and brilliancy of As


y Of As now atiother, dashed against the rock, colouring, describes, and accounts Drops lifeless down. O deemest thou infor it in the following manner. I died will make no apology for the length No kind endearment here, by nature of the quotation.


To mutual terror, and compassion's tears? "Behold the ways

No sweetly melting fuftness, which atOf heaven's eternal destiny to man!

tracts For ever jait, benevolent, and wise!

O'er all that edge of pain, the social That Virtue's awful steps, kowe'er pur


to this their proper action, and their sued By vexing fortune, and intrusive pain, Should never be divided from her chaste, The Poet pursues the sentiment in Her fair attendant, Pleasure. Need I urge the samne animated imagery, de. Thy tardy thought, through all the varie

scribing the strong, but pleasurable ous round




fensations, which the foul feels, in tion. The cause assigned by Mr. reading the sufferings of heroes, 'Addison, the sense of our own sewho nobly died in the cause of li- curity, may be supposed to have berty, and their country :

some share in the mass of feelings

That of Dr. Akentide may be al" When the pious band Of youths, who fought for freedom, and

lowed to have a still larger proportheir fires,

tion. Let us attempt to trace fomnc Lie Gide by side in gore.”

of the rest.

6. There are few principles in Or, in the strong movemonts of in- human nature of more general and dignation and revenge againt the important influence, than that of tyrant, who invades that liberty,' sympathy. A late ingenious writ. and enslaves that country. . er, led by the fashionable idea of " When the patriot's tear

fimplifying all the springs of hu. Starts from thine eye, and thy extended man nature into one fource, bas, in

his beautiful Theory of Moral Sen. In fancy hurls the thunderbolt of Jove, timents, endeavoured to analyse a To fire the impious wreath on Philip's very large number of the feelings

brow, Or dash oqavius from his trophied car; of the heart into sympathetic vibraSay-Dues thy secret foul repine to taste tion. Though it appears to me The big diftress? Or, would'lt thou then most probable, that the human exchange

mind, like the human body, polThose heart-ennobling sorrows for the lot Of him, who lies amid the gaudy herd

lot seffes various and diftin& springs of Of mute barbarians, bending to his nod,

action and of happiness, yet he has And bears alost his gold-invested front, fhewn, in an ainazing diverfity of And says within himself, “I am a king, instances, the operation and im. And wherefore should the clamorous voice portance of this principle of human of woe

nature. Let us apply it to our Intrude upon mine ear?”

present subject, « The sentiment of this charm- . “ We naturally sympathize with ing and moral poet is, that sympa- the passions of others. But, if the thetic feelings are virtuous, and passions they appear to feel be not therefore pleasant. And from the those of mere distress alone; if, whole, he deduces this important midst the scenes of calamity, they conclusion; that every virtuous display fortitude, generosity, and emotion must be agreeable, and that forgiveness ; if, “ riting fuperior this is the sanction, and the reward to the cloud of ills which covers of virtue. The thought is amic them,” they nobly ftand firm, col. ble. The conclusion noble. But lected, and patient; here, a til still the solution appears to me to higher source of pleasure opens be imperfect,

upon us, from complacence, admi. « We have already said, that the ration, and that unutterable lyin. pleasure ariting from the contem- pathv, which the heart feels with plation of distressful scenes is a com- virtuous and heroic minds. By the pounded feeling, arising from several operation of this principle, we place diftin&t sources in the human breaft. ourselves in their fituacion; WC The kind and degree of the sensa- feel, as it were, some share of that tion must depend upon the various conscious integrity and peace, which blendings of the several ingredi- they must enjoy. Hence, as before ents which enter into the compofie observed, the pleasure will vary,


But it is not without its imperfec. ard Savage, in the year 1726, in tions : there is a redundance of which it appears in that form, very thought in some instances, and a incorrect, and with the initial lines carelessness of language in others. as follows : The verfification, like that of Mil.

Fancy, nymph that loves to lie ton's L'Allegro and Il Penforoso, On the lonely eminence; is an irregular mixture of iambick Darting notice through the eye, and trochaick lines : a circumstance Forming thought and feasting feuse : rather displeasing to a nice ear.

Thou that must lend imagination wings,

And stamp diftin dion on all worldly things, The poem opens thus:

Come, and with thy various hucs, Silent Nymph, with curious eye!

Paint and adorn thy fifter muse. Who, the purple ev'ning, lie

As the passage stands at present, On the mountain's lonely van,

there must be either a designed vioBeyond the noise of busy man, Painting fair the form of ibings,

lent ellipsis or accidental omission of While the yellow linnet sings,

the particle at, in the second line, Or the tunelul nightingale

It might be read thus : '
Charms the forest with her tale;
Come with all thy various hues,

Silent nymph with curious eye ! Come and aid thy filer Muse; .

Who at purple evening lye-Now while Phæbus riding high The following paragraph rather de. Gives lustre to the land and ky!

stroys the unity of design, by diGrongar Hill invites my song, Draw the landscape bright and strong.

viding attention between past action,

and present, of which lait the prinDyer in general wrote with remark- cipal part of the poem confitts. The able fimplicity and clearness, but image of the poet seated on a bank here is an instance in which his of flowers, by the fide of a founfense is almost inexplicable. What tain, is nevertheless pretty, and has fictitious person is addressed by the perhaps merit enough to justify it3 appellation of Silent Nymph, it seems

retention : scarcely possible to discover. Paint

Grongår, in whose moffy cells ing, from the expressions Sifter

Swectly musing Quiet dwells; Musē, and various hues, might be Grongår in whose filent shade, meant; but why should painting be For the modest Muses made, described as lying on the mountain's So oft I bave, the evening still, lonely van? Evening, as a proso

At the fountain of a rill,

Sat uron a flowery bed, popeia, could not be intended; for

With my hand beneath my head; evening cannot with any propriety While firay'd my eyes o'er Towy's Bood, be said to paint the form of things. Over mead and over wood, Faney may be thought to have a From house to house, from hill to hill, better claim to the title, but to her,

Till Contemplation had her fill. some of the above circumstances " The author now agreeably deare not applicable. That Fancy, scribes the circumstance of ascendhowever, was really designed, is a ing a hill, with the consequent grafact that can be fully ascertained. dual enlargement of the lurroundFew readers are perhaps apprized ing horizon. The trite fimile of that Grongar Hill was originally circles on water, is here happily apwritten, and even printed, as an plied. The comparison of material irregular ode. There is a Miscel. with metaphorical eminence, unlany volume of poeins, collected and happy fate, Etc. interrupts the depublifhed by the celebrated Rich. fcription, and is not strictly juit ;


« PreviousContinue »