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whatever has heen said of the social affections, whether they regard society in general, or only some particular modes of it, may be applicable here.
It is by this principle chiefly that poetry, painting, and other affecting arts, transfuse their passions from one breast to another, and are often capable of grafting a delight on wretchedness, misery, and death itself. It is a common observation, that objects, which in the reality would shock, are, in tragical and such like representations, the source of a very high species of pleasure. This, taken as a fact, has been the cause of much reasoning. This satisfaction has been commonly attributed, first, to the comfort we receive in considering that so melancholy a story is no more than a fiction; and next, to the contemplation of our own freedom from the evils we see represented. 1 am afraid it is a practice much too common, in inquiries of this nature, to attribute the cause of feelings which merely arise from the mechanical structure of our bodies, or from the natural frame and constitution of our minds, to certain conclusions of the reasoning faculty on the objects presented to us; for 1 have some reason to apprehend, that the influence of reason in producing our passions is nothing near so extensive as is commonly believed.
UNCERTAINTY A SOURCE OF THE SUBLIME.
A low, tremulous, intermitting sound is productive of the sublime. It is worth while to examine this a little. The fact itself must be determined by every man's own experience and reflection. I have always observed that night increases our terror, more perhaps than any thing else; it is our nature, when we do not know what may happen to us, to fear the worst that can happen; and hence it is that uncertainty is so terrible, that we often seek to be rid of it, at the hazard of a certain mischief. Now some low, confused, uncertain sounds leave us in the same fearful anxiety concerning their causes, that no light, or an uncertain light, does concerning the objects that surround us.
"A faint shadow of uncertain light,
But light now appearing, and now leaving us, and so off and on, is even more terrible than total darkness; and sorts of uncertain sounds are, when the necessary dispositions concur, more alarming than a total silence.
Difficulty is a severe instructor, set over us by the Supreme ordinance of a parental Guardian and Legislator, who knows us better than we know ourselves, as he loves us better too. He that wrestles with us, strengthens our nerves, and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper. This amicable conflict with difficulty obliges us to an intimate acquaintance with our object, and compels us to consider it in all its relations. It will not suffer us to be superficial.
REVOLUTIONS OF NATIONAL GRANDEUR.
I doubt whether the history of mankind is yet complete enough, if ever it can be so, to furnish grounds for a sure theory on the internal causes which necessarily affect the fortune of a state. I am far from denying the operation of such causes; but they are infinitely uncertain, and much more obscure, and much more difficult to trace, than the foreign causes that tend to raise, to depress, and sometimes to overwhelm a community. It is often impossible in these political inquiries, to find any proportion between the apparent force of any moral causes we may assign, and their known operation. We are therefore obliged to deliver up that operation to mere chance, or, more piously, (perhaps more rationally,) to the occasional interposition and irresistible hand of the Great Disposer. We have seen states of considerable duration, which for ages have remained nearly as they have begun, and would hardly be said to ebb or flow. Some appear to have spent their vigor at their commencement. Some have blazed out in their glory a little before their extinction. The meridian of others has been the most splendid. Others, and they are the greatest number, have fluctuated, and experienced at different periods of their existence a great variety of fortune. At the very moment when some of them seemed plunged in unfathomable abysses of disgrace and disaster, they have suddenly emerged. They have begun a new course, and opened a new reckoning; and even in the depths of their calamity, and on the very ruins of their country, have kid the foundations of a towering and durable greatness. All this has happened without any apparent previous change in the general circumstances which had brought on their distress: the death of a man at a critical juncture, his disgust, his retreat, his disgrace, have brought innumerable calamities on a whole nation. A common soldier, a child, a girl at the door of an inn, have changed the face of fortune, and almost of nature.
CHARACTER OF JUNIUS.
Where, Mr. Speaker, shall we look for the origin of this relaxation of the laws, and of all government? How comes this Junius to have broken through the cobwebs of the law, and to range uncontrolled, unpunished, through the land? The myrmidons of the court have been long, and are still, pursuing him in vain. They will not spend their time upon me, or you: no; they disdain such vermin, when the mighty boar of the forest, that has broken through all their toils, is before them. But, what will all their efforts avail? No sooner has he wounded one, than he lays down another dead at his feet. For my part, when I saw his attack upon the king, I own my blood ran cold. I thought he had ventured too far, and that there was an end of his triumphs: not that he had not asserted many truths. Yes, sir, there are in that composition many bold truths by which a wise prince might profit. But while I expected from this daring flight his final ruin and fall, behold him rising still higher, and coming down souse upon both houses of parliament. Yes, he did make you his quarry, and you still bleed from the wounds of his talons. You crouched, and still crouch beneath his rage. Nor has he dreaded the terror of your brow, sir; he has attacked even you—he has— and I believe you have no reason to triumph in the encounter. In short, after carrying away our royal eagle in his pounces, and dashing him against a rock, he has laid you prostrate. Kings, Lords, and Commons, are but the sport of his fury. Were he a member of this house, what might not be expected from his knowledge, his firmness, and integrity! He would be easily known by his contempt of all danger, by his penetration, by his vigor. Nothing would escape his vigilance and activity; bad ministers could conceal nothing from his sagacity; nor could promises or threats induce him to conceal any thing from the public.
I cannot name this gentleman without remarking that his labors and writings have done much to open the eyes and hearts of mankind. He has visited all Europe, not to survey the sumptuousness of palaces, or the stateliness of temples; not to make accurate measurements of the remains of ancient grandeur, nor to form a scale of the curiosity of modern art; not to collect medals, or collate manuscripts: but to dive into the depths of dungeons; to plunge into the infection of hospitals; to survey the mansions of sorrow and pain; to take the gauge and dimensions of misery, depression, and contempt; to remember the forgotten, to attend to the neglected, to visit the forsaken, and to compare and collate the distresses of all men in all countries. His plan is original; and it is as full of genius as it is of humanity. It was a voyage of discovery; a circumnavigation of charity. Already the benefit of his labour is felt more or less in every country; I hope he will anticipate his final reward, by seeing all its effects fully realized . in his own. He will receive, not by detail but in gross, the reward of those who visit the prisoner; and he has so forestalled and monopolized this branch of charity, that there will be, I trust, little room to merit by such acts of benevolence hereafter.
SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS.
His illness was long, but borne with a mild and cheerful fortitude, without the least mixture of any thing irritable or querulous, agreeably to the placid and even tenor of his whole life. He had, from the beginning of his malady, a distinct view of his dissolution; and he contemplated it with that entire composure, which nothing but the innocence, integrity, and usefulness of his life, and an unaffected submission to the will of Providence, could bestow. In this situation he had every consolation from family tenderness, which his own kindness to his family had indeed well deserved.
Sir Joshua Reynolds was, on very many accounts, one of the most memorable men of his time. He was the first Englishman who added the praise of the elegant arts to the other glories of his country. In taste, in grace, in facility, in happy invention, and in the richness and harmony of coloring, he was equal to the great masters of the renowned ages. In portrait he went beyond them; for he communicated to that department of the art in which English artists are the most engaged, a variety, a fancy, and a dignity derived from the higher branches, which even those who professed them in a superior manner did not always preserve when they delineated individual nature. His portraits remind the spectator of the invention of history and of the amenity of landscape. In painting portraits, he appears not to be raised upon that platform, but to descend to it from a higher sphere. His paintings illustrate his lessons, and his lessons seem to have been derived from his paintings. He possessed the theory as perfectly as the practice of his art. To be such a painter, he was a profound and penetrating philosopher.
In full happiness of foreign and domestic fame, admired by the expert in art and by the learned in science, courted by the great, caressed by sovereign powers, and celebrated by distinguished poets, his native humility, modest)', and candor never torsook him, even on surprise or provocation; nor was the least degree of arrogance or assumption visible to the most scrutinizing eye in any part of his conduct or discourse.
His talents of every kind—powerful from nature, and not meanly cultivated by letters—his social virtues in all the relations and in all the habitudes of life, rendered him the centre of a very great and unparalleled variety of agreeable societies, which will be dissipated by his death. He had too much merit not to provoke some jealousy, too much innocence to provoke any enmity. The loss of no man of his time can be felt with more sincere, general, and unmixed sorrow.
"Hail! and farewell!"
Gentlemen, I have had my day. I can never sufficiently express my gratitude to you, for having set me in a place, wherein I could lend the slightest help to great and laudable designs. If I have had my share, in any measure giving quiet to private property and private conscience; if by my vote I have aided in securing to families the best possession, peace; if I have joined in reconciling kings to their subjects, and subjects to their prince; if I have assisted to loosen the foreign holdings of the citizen, and taught him to look for his protection to the laws of his country, and for his comfort to the good-will of his countrymen ;—if I have thus taken my part with the best of men in the best of theii actions, I can shut the book ;—I might wish to read a page Ot twc more—but this is enough for my measure.—I have not lived in vain.
And now, gentlemen, on this serious day, when I come, as it were, to make up my account with you, let me take to myself some degree of honest pride on the nature of the charges that are against me. I do not here stand before you accused of venality, or of neglect of duty. It is not said, that, in the long period of my service, I have, in a single instance, sacrificed the slightest of your interests to my ambition, or to my fortune. It is not alleged, that, to gratify any anger, or revenge of my own, or of my party, I have had a share in wronging or oppressing any description of men, or any one man in any description. No! the charges against me are all of one kind, that I have pushed the principles of general justice and benevolence too far; further than a cautious policy would warrant; and further than the opinions of many would go along with me. In every accident which may happen through life—in pain, in sorrow, in depression, and distress—I will call to mind this accusation; and be comforted.