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finition of some particular word, closing the inquiry, after each had exercised his ingenuity, with his own, which we seldom failed, with due submission to him, to consider the best.
When we were ascending the Brocken, and ever and anon stopping to take breath, as well as to survey the magnificent scene, a long discussion took place upon the sublime and beautiful. We had much of Burke, but more of Coleridge. Of beauty much, but more of sublimity, which was in accordance with the grandeur of surrounding objects. Many were the fruitless attempts made to define sublimity satisfactorily, when Coleridge, at length, pronounced it to consist in a suspension of the power of comparison.* Terror has, by many, been considered as essential to sublimity. It has been said, that “ the roar of thunder or of a cataract, and the beetling cliff suspended half way betwixt the earth and heaven, threatening to spread ruin by its fall, impress the mind with feelings of terror; and that only such objects produce the
* With reference to this definition, I find the following passage in one of Coleridge's letters from Germany, inserted in the "Friend,” Dec. 1809:--Speaking of a thaw of the frozen lake of Ratzeburg, he says, “ During the whole night, such were the thunders and howlings of the breaking ice, that they have left a conviction on my mind, that there are sounds more sublime than any sight can be, more absolutely suspending the power of comparison, and more utterly absorbing the mind's self-consciousness, in its total attention to the object working upon it."
sentiment of sublimity.” This is sadly to degrade the most powerful and noblest emotion of the human mind. How much more closely beauty is allied to it, is finely illustrated in the following passage from Washington Irving's “ Account of Himself”—where, speaking of America, he says, “ Her mighty lakes, like oceans of liquid silver; her mountains, with their bright aerial tints ; her valleys, teeming with wild fertility; her tremendous cataracts, thundering in their solitudes; her boundless plains, waving with spontaneous verdure ; her broad deep rivers, rolling in solemn silence to the ocean ; her trackless forests, where vegetation puts forth all its magnificence ; her skies, kindling with the magic of summer clouds and glorious sunshine ; no, never need an American look beyond his own country for the sublime and beautiful of natural scenery.” Neither can it, I think, be denied that the exclamation of a French traveller, in the gorge of the pass leading to Loch Katrine, was true to nature, albeit quite en François. “ Ah !” exclaimed he, under the overwhelming emotions of the moment, “ Je sens et je ne pense pas.”
For myself, I can attest that when I first caught a view of the Alps of Switzerland, I stood, with my companion Parry, in mute astonishment; all our faculties were, for a while, completely absorbed in the sublimity of the view before us; there was no terror blended with our sensations; we seemed to be exalted above the earth, in the contemplation, as it were, of other worlds extending far into the sky
So, on another occasion, in company and in mutual communion with the same well-beloved friend, I experienced emotions equally allied to sublimity, but under circumstances, as to situation, the reverse of those I have been mentioning.
We were passing the southern extremity of the crest of that lofty ridge of mountains, which divides Sweden from Norway, and, after toiling a long summer-day through defiles of rocks and over roads such as never, we supposed, were passed before with wheels, we reached, a little before sunset, the summit of the mountain ridge, when there burst upon us a scene of such immense extent and grandeur, as to fulfil to the utmost the Sublime Attribute of Incomparability. The atmosphere had been swept by a brisk wind ; there was not a cloud nor a vapour in the sky to obstruct our vision, and, losing sight of the world of rocks beneath us, we abandoned ourselves to the luxury of the triumph we had achieved, and contemplated, with irresistible and undivided attention, the vast Atlantic stretching, northwards and southwards, far beyond the visible boundaries of the Continent, yet forming an horizontal girdle, brilliant beyond conception with the effulgence of the setting sun, and
embracing in our imaginations half the periphery of the earth.*
Our emotions, on both the above occasions,were those of intense delight and mute wonder, very different indeed from what we once experienced on the river Torneo. The town of that name is situated at the embouchure of the river into the northern extremity of the Gulph of Bothnia ; and about a hundred and twenty miles higher up, just under the Arctic circle, there is a rapid descent in the bed of this magnificent stream, down which the immense body of water rolls with increasing
* The following quotation from Akenside may serve to illustrate the transition of the beautiful into the sublime, and the incompatibility of terror with either :
" Ask the swain
Such a scene, contemplated from the summit of a mountain, would produce the emotion of sublimity rather than that of beauty; or, at any rate, delight nearer akin than beauty to a suspension of the mental powers. But let a fearful precipice suddenly interpose ; and the spectator, alike insensible to the spell of beauty or of sublimity, will recoil instinctively with horror, and think only of the danger from which he has to escape.
+ This, it must be owned, is a somewhat rapid stride for the purpose of illustration. From Switzerland, over the mountains of Norway, to Torneo ! And somewhat ominous perhaps in respect of the subject illustrated. But there is no boundary to thought; neither milestones to reminiscence. After ascending the river Torneo to about the 70th degree of north latitude, we were so furiously beset by mosquitoes as to be compelled to return to the town, where, fortunately for us, there were none of those terrible foes.
-force till it reaches what is more properly the fall. Here it acquires the rapidity of an arrow, accompanied with a deafening roar, to which that of Trolhötta is scarcely comparable ; and which is nowhere, I believe, surpassed on this side the Atlantic.
In ascending the river, our boat had with difficulty been hauled along its northern border by our boatmen, in order to pass this tremendous fall, which, with the accompanying tumult and noise of waters, afforded, at this time, unmixed sensations of sublimity. But how different were our feelings when we descended the same fall some days after !
It was about midnight, early in July. The sun had dipped below the horizon, whilst its rays faintly illumined the summit of mount Avasaxa ; the light was that of a summer-morning at sunrise. The whole of the preceding day we had been gliding downwards with a celerity which, contrasted with our slow ascent, caused us to approach the fall sooner than we expected; we caught a momentary perception of our apparently imminent danger, but there was no stopping the ship, and our boatmen thought it better to take us by surprise. The brief interval which preceded our shooting the fall was awful enough. For an instant our faculties were suspended ; but so far was the grandeur of the scene from being enhanced by the terror which the sense of danger inspired, that the contrary effect was produced, and we