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light, it is reasonable to think that the contraction of the radial fibres of the iris is proportionably greater; and that this part may, by great darkness, come to be so contracted as to strain the nerves that compose it beyond their natural tone, and by this means to produce a painful sensation. Such a tension, it seems, there certainly is, whilst we are involved in darkness : for, in such a state, whilst the eye remains open,
there is a continual nisus to receive light: this is manifest from the flashes and luminous appearances which often seem, in these circumstances, to play before it, and which can be nothing but the effect of spasms produced by its own efforts in pursuit of its object : several other strong impulses will produce the idea of light in the eye, besides the substance of light itself, as we experience on many occasions. Some who allow darkness to be a cause of the sublime would infer, from the dilation of the pupil, that a relaxation may be productive of the sublime, as well as a convulsion; but they do not, I believe, consider, that although the circular ring of the iris be in some sense a sphincter, which may possibly be dilated by a simple relaxation, yet in one respect it differs from most of the other sphincters of the body, that it is fur. nished with antagonist muscles, which are the radial fibres of the iris : no sooner does the circular muscle begin to relax, than these fibres, wanting their counterpoise, are forcibly drawn back, and open the pupil to a considerable wideness. But though we were not apprized of this, I believe any one will find, if he opens his eyes and makes an effort to see in a dark place, that a very perceivable pain ensues. And I have heard some ladies remark, that, after having worked a long time upon a ground of black, their eyes were so pained and weakened they could
hardly see. It may perhaps be objected to this theory of the mechanical effect of darkness, that the ill effects of darkness, or blackness, seem rather mental than corporeal; and I own it is true, that they do so; and so do all those that depend on the affections of the finer parts of our system. The ill effects of bad weather appear often no otherwise than in a melancholy and dejection of spirits; though, without doubt, in this case, the bodily organs suffer first, and the mind through these organs.
SECT. XVII, THE EFFECTS OF BLACKNESS, BLACKNESS is but a partial darkness; and therefore it derives some of its powers from being mixed and surrounded with coloured bodies. In its own nature it cannot be considered as a colour. Black bodies, reflecting none, or but a few rays,
with regard to sight, are but as so many vacant spaces dispersed among the objects we view. When the eye lights on one of these vacuities, after having been kept in some degree of tension by the play of the adjacent colours upon it, it suddenly falls into a relaxation; out of which it as suddenly recovers by a convulsive spring. To illustrate this, let us consider, that when we intend to sit in a chair, and find it much lower than we expected, the shock is very violent, much more violent than could be thought from so slight a fall as the difference between one chair and another can possibly make. If, after descending a flight of stairs, we attempt in. advertently to take another step in the manner of the former ones,
the shock is extremely rude and disagreeable; and by no art can we cause such a shock by the same means when we expect and prepare for it. When I say that this is owing to having the
change made contrary to expectation, I do not mean solely, when the mind expects : I mean, likewise, that when any organ of señise is for some time affected in some one manner, if it be suddenly affected otherwise, there ensues a convulsive motion; such a convulsion as is caused when any thing happens against the expectance of the mind. And though it may appear strange that such a change as produces a relaxation should immediately produce a sudden convulsion, it is yet most certainly so; and so in all the senses. Every one knows that sleep is a relaxation; and that silence, where nothing keeps the organs of hearing in action, is in general fittest to bring on this relaxation : yet, when a sort of murmuring sounds dispose a man to sleep, let these sounds cease suddenly, and the person imme. diately awakes; that is, the parts are braced up suddenly, and he awakes. This I have often ex. perienced myself; and I have heard the same from observing persons. In like manner, if a person in broad day-light were falling asleep, to introduce a sudden darkness would prevent his sleep for that time, though silence and darkness in themselves, and not suddenly introduced, are very favourable to it. This I knew only by conjecture on the analogy of the senses when I first digested these observations; but I have since experienced it. And I have often experienced, and so have a thousand others, that, on the first inclining towards sleep, we have been suddenly awakened with a most violent start; and that this start was generally preceded by a sort of dream of our falling down a precipice: whence does this strange motion arise, but from the too sudden relaxation of the body, which by some mechanism in nature, restores itself by as quick and vigorous an exertion of the contracting power of the muscles? The dream it. self is ca used by this relaxation; and it is of too uni. form a nature to be attributed to any other cause. The parts relax too suddenly, which is in the nature of falling; and this accident of the body induces this image in the mind. When we are in a confirmed state of health and vigour, as all changes are then less sudden, and less in the extreme, we can seldom complain of this disagreeable sensation.
SECT. XVIII.-THE EFFECTS OF BLACKNESS
THOUGH the effects of black be ainful originally, we must not think they always continue so. Custom reconciles us to every thing. After we have been used to the sight of black objects, the terror abates, and the smoothness and glossiness, or some agreeable accident of bodies so coloured, softens, in some measure, the horror and sternness of their original nature; yet the nature of the original im. pression still continues. Black will always have something melancholy in it, because the sensory will always find the change to it, from other colours, too violent; or, if it occupy the whole compass of the sight, it will then be darkness; and what was said of darkness, will be applicable here. I do not purpose to go into all that might be said to illustrate this theory of the effects of light and darkness; neither will I examine all the different effects produced by the various modifications and mixtures of these two causes. If the foregoing observations have any foundation in nature, I conceive them very sufficient to account for all the phenomena that can arise from all the combinations of black with other colours. To enter into every particular, or to answer every objection, would be an endless labour. We have only followed the most leading roads; and we shall observe the same conduct in our inquiry into the cause of beauty.
SECT. XIX.-THE PHYSICAL CAUSE OF LOVE.
When we have before us such objects as excite love and complacency, the body is affected, so far as I could observe, much in the following manner: The head reclines something on one side; the eyeJids are more closed than usual, and the eyes roll gently with an inclination to the object; the mouth is a little opened, and the breath drawn slowly, with now and then a low sigh; the whole body is composed, and the hands fall idly to the sides. All this is accompanied with an inward sense of melting and languor. These appearances are always proportioned to the degree of beauty in the object, and of sensibility in the observer. And this grada. tion from the highest pitch of beauty and sensibility, even to the lowest of mediocrity and indif. ference, and their correspondent effects, ought to be kept in view, else this description will seem ex. aggerated, which it certainly is not. But from this description, it is almost impossible not to conclude that beauty acts by relaxing the solids of the whole system. There are all the appearances of such a relaxation; and a relaxation somewhat below the natural tone seems to me to be the cause of all positive pleasure. Who is a stranger to that manner of expression so common at all times and in all countries, of being softened, relaxed, enervated, dissolved, melted away by pleasure? The universal voice of mankind, faithful to their feelings, con. curs in affirming this uniform and general effect : and although some odd and particular instance may perhaps be found, wherein ap ars a considerable