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LITE'R A RY DEPARTMENT.
BY THE JUNIOR EDITOR.
Burke, in his work on the Sublime and Beautiful, manifested a genius in keeping with his subject. By the power of an original and profound insight, he penetrated into the mysterious source, whence the pleasing and violent enjoyment is derived in intercourse with nature and with art. He pointed out the peculiarities which marked the Beautiful with elaborate detail, and handled the elements of the Sublime as a surgeon handles his anatomical subject. But it is curious to observe that, throughout the whole work, he gives no precise definition of his idea of Beauty. He however states, “we must conclude that beauty is for the greater part, some quality in bodies acting mechanically upon the human mind by the intervention of the senses which excites in us the passion of love or some correspondent affection.'
It strikes a person of highly cultivated feeling, and against so high an authority it should be remarked with extreme delicacy and firm assurance, that there is something lacking in this definition ; for there are ideas and emotions of a moral nature, as distinctly discernible by the eye of the Spirit, as roses are by the eye of the body, whether the ideas, emotions or roses be in bud or in full bloom, and which by their pleasing form and pleasing sweetness excite the passion of love to enjoy them. There are qualities in ideas and emotions before they are expressed, acting divinely without any intervention of the senses which excite in the person who entertains them, as Burke says, the passion of love or some correspondent affection.
Every man of sense is supposed to perceive beforehand what he expresses, he knows what he is going to say, he sees within himself the form and quality of the ideas and emotions which he is about to present to the view of other people, and if he be a man of sound good sense, and feels the passion of love or some correspondent affection stimulated within him, at the insight of certain ideas and emotions which arise like truth from the earth, or which descend like mercy from heaven, within him, making him a wiser and a better and therefore of necessity a happier man, and his judgment be convinced that a kindred passion or affection would be stimulated within the breast of other people, if those ideas and emotions which are present within hiin were presented to them, and he also be bold enough to be just, he will give forth those ideas and emotions to the world, that the human family may possibly thus also be made wiser and better and therefore happier in their condition.
The ideas and emotions that arose and descended within the person of John Bunyan, while he was in prison and before he wrote his radiant work— the Pilgrim's Progress, were of this order. The Holy Writings only are translated into more languages than the Pilgrim's Progress. It appears to stand second best in the power of charming the human family to wisdom and goodness. The Holy writings possess the qualities of beauty. The Pilgrim's Progress possesses the qualities of beauty. The ideas and emotions that arose and descended within the person of John Bunyanbefore he uttered this book, possessed the qualities of beauty. Around the name of Bunyan there is a glory. Along the path of his work there is a glory, and there is a glory that hallows and irradiates from the Holy Writings which excels the glory of the sun. We hear of the beauty of the stars, no one doubts their beauty, and an inspired writer declares they have a glory, though 'our star differeth from another star in glory.'
From the above elucidation it may appear that beauty is one of the first principles of glory. Brilliancy is another inherent element. Grandeur is its most general quality.
Beauty may be defined to be that harmonious relation of elements in physical, mental or moral nature which excites the feeling of love. This definition is illustrated with singular propriety by Power's statue of the Greek Slave. The physical form of the Slave is almost inimitably fascinating. The waving lines and delicate dimples all over the body, produce by turns a waving and a concentrated emotion of joy in the breast of the beholder, and when he goes away he carries with him the joyous feeling of love, which the form of beauty excited; and in a pure man, the feeling thus excited, becomes as Keats declares 'a joy forever.'
Combined with the harmonious relation of elements that go to make up the physically voluptuous form, Powers has chiseled out his ideas of the mental beauty of the classic Grecian intellect, which every civilized nation venerates. Not only the style of the forehead— the home of the intellect — but also the very air of the position of the form, has in, on and about it, those qualities, which excite feelirgs like those excited by the thoughts of Plato-feelings of ideal love. These qualities compose the mental beauty of the work. They are the qualities which were in the mind of Powers, and which he has expressed with his chisel—Plato having expressed them with his pen.
But the charm that surpasses that of both the physical and mental forms of beauty in the Greek Slave is the charm of Christian graces with which it is invested. In this respect it is that this *Beauty unadored 's adored the most.' Venus is a physical veauty, Juno is a mental beauty, but the Greek Slave is not only a plavsical and mental, but also a moral beauty. The rays of suffering patience (smiling at grief' beaming from the swollen eye-lids, and reposing in the corners of the compressed lips, are felt by a Christian person as if the very air of pure Christian virtue were being breathed around him.
These beauties in the Greek Slave are the main principles of the glory with which it is honored, and the combination of these different kinds of beauty, individually produce the quality of brilliancy, and the joint effect of all arises almost to grandeur.
Brilliancy is a startling element, which excites the feeling of astonishment, in each of his spheres,-physical, mental and moral
- like a flash of lightning, a spark of wit, and “as oft answer thai turneth away wrath,' though the term is often used to express the quality of a strong steady light, like the light of a star or diamond, whether of light, thought or feeling.
A piece of music is said to be brilliant, when the notes, of which it is composed, are fixed with that startling arrangement, which excites the feeling of astonishment in the hearer. A victory is also said to be brilliant when won against fearful odds.
This element of brilliancy, although sometimes attractive, differs from beauty, as in its quality, so also in its effect, as it is often repellent. One is alarmed at it with the apprehension of being hurt. Every one feels this apprehension fro.n lightning and from wit, and if men could only experience as many instances of moral brilliancy, as instances of wit and lightning, the apprehension of becoming hurt by kindness in return for injury would also become common. The moral brilliancy of pardon, although generally considered of an
inferior order of brilliancy, is quite as startling, and excites the feeling of astonishment quite as much as wit or lightning.
One reason why the manifestation of forgiveness for an unatoned injury does not excite such a suddenly startling feeling of astonishment, as a flash of fire or of wit, is, because people suppose that the man who pardons in this way, has neither sense enough to know his wrongs, nor spirit to resent them, but when they find out they are mistaken in their man, that he has clear sense and high spirit, and that the act of pardon was done, with a vivid sense of the wrong, and with a lofty spirit of divine energy to do right, they are struck within them with a feeling of astonishment which is quite as alarming and burning as the feeling produced by a flash of fire or of wit.
A brother and sister were playing together. In a pet he struck her; without complaining, she kissed him in return, and they both burst into tears.
This quality of brilliancy, as attractive as it is alarming, is an inherent element of glory.
Grandeur the most general element of glory is that bold quality in physical, mental or moral nature which excites the feeling of awe. Grandeur is a quality greater than beauty or brilliancy and frequently embraces both, as awe is a feeling greater than love or astonishment, and frequently combines them with reverence, and all these feelings united together expand and elevate the being of man, arousing pleasingly dreadful emotions in his breast.
The Falls of Niagara — with its tremendous roar deafening the ears of the spectator at its base, and filling him with the feeling of superhuman power in the action of the beautifully continuous, the brilliantly abrupt and the sublimely grand action of water, which, in comparison with the power of his corporeal frame, makes him feel fearfully and insignificantly small, and which in comparison with the power of his mental and moral comprehension, makes him feel superhumanly great,—the Falls of Niagara present an example of grandeur in the physical world.
King Richard III. as his mind is delineated by Shakspeare in its continued abrupt and bold action, impelled by selfish ambition from scenes of horror on till horrors accumulate with overwhelming power, is an example of grandeur in the mental world.
The martyr who sacrifices his life for the sake of his conscience, who, guided by the internal monitor of the feeling of faith, acts as he believes his conscience requires, dependent solely upon that which, he feels, is in harmony with the universe—the law of everlasting life--and therefore independent of the world and the life of the body which must one day expire--the martyr is an example of moral grandeur.
(To be continued.)
Defamation and grave-robbery have a point of resemblance, though they are strikingly dissimilar. Grave-robbery is stealing from the dead, who can do no more good in the world. Defamation is also stealing, but it is from the living, yet not the purse which is trash;*) 'tis filching from him his good name, and damming the current of his good influence on the earth.
‘Harpies in antiquity were fabulous winged monsters, having the face of a woman and the body of a vulture, with their feet and fingers armed with sharp claws.'
Hyenas are merely animals, which feed on the buried.
Harpies may be more poetical, but are they not also more abominable than hyenas ? What is more admirable, and at the same time more revolting, than one of Virgil's Harpies?
And are there no harpies now in the mental world? Have not the moderns realized in the sphere of the intellect, what the ancients only vaguely fancied in reality? Are there no defamers in the land? And are they unworthy of indignant invective? Or is it wiser to treat them as one of our most distinguished Statesmen treated an abolitionist who defamed him together with the maintainers of the glorious compromise' by delicately alluding to Jude's account of a contention between an Angel and a Fiend, and to Arch-bishop Tillotson's pithy comment on the same ?
This same Statesman, also, at another time, in the spring season of his glory, manifested the same noble indisposition towards railing.
'If,' said he, 'I have none of that spirit which is said to be able to raise mortals to the skies, I trust I have none of that other spirit which would drag angels down!'