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amidft the rude fcenes of nature, amidst rocks and torrents and whirlwinds and battles, dwells the fublime. It is the thunder and the lightning of genius. It is the offspring of nature, not of art. It is negligent of all the leffer graces, and perfectly confiftent with a certain noble diforder. It affociates naturally with that grave and folemn fpirit, which distinguishes our author. For the fublime, is an awful and ferious emotion; and is heightened by all the images of Trouble, and Terror, and Darkness.
Ipfe pater, media nimborum in nocte, corufcâ Fulmina molitur dextrâ; quo maxima motu Terra tremit; fugere feræ; & mortalia corda Per gentes, humilis ftravit pavor; ille, flagranti Aut Atho, aut Rhodopen, aut alta Ceraunia telo Dejicit. VIRG. Georg. I. Simplicity and concifenefs, are never-failing characteristics of the ftile of a fublime writer. He refts on the majesty of his sentiments, not on the pomp of his expreffions. The main fecret of being fublime, is to fay great things in few, and in plain words: For every fuperfluous decoration degrades a fublime idea. The mind rifes and fwells, when a lofty description or fentiment is presented to it, in its native form. But no fooner does the poet attempt to fpread out this fentiment or defcription, and to deck it round and round with glittering ornaments, than the mind begins to fall from its high elevation; the transport is over; the beautiful may remain, but the fublime is gone. Hence the concife and fimple style of Offian, gives Ff great
great advantage to his fublime conceptions; and affifts them in feizing the imagination with full power
Sublimity as belonging to fentiment, coincides in a great measure with magnanimity, heroism, and generofity of fentiment. Whatever difcovers human nature in its greatest elevation; whatever bespeaks a high effort of foul; or fhews a mind fuperior to pleasures, to dangers, and to death, forms what may be called the moral or fentimental fublime. For this, Offian is eminently distinguished. No poet maintains a higher tone of virtuous and noble sentiment, throughout all his works. Particularly in all the fentiments of Fingal, there is a grandeur and loftiness proper to fwell the mind
*The noted faying of Julius Cæfar, to the pilot in a ftorm; "Quid times? Cæfarem vehis;" is magnanimous and fublime. Lucan, not fatisfied with this fimple concifenefs, refolved to amplify and improve the thought. Observe, how every time he twifts it round, it departs farther from the fublime, till, at laft, it ends in tumid declamation. Sperne minas, inquit, Pelagi, ventoque furenti Trade finum. Italiam, fi coelo auctore, recufas, Me, pete. Sola tibi caufa hæc eft jufta timoris Vectorem non noffe tuum; quem numina nunquam Deftituunt; de quo male tunc fortuna meretur, Cum poft vota venit; medias perrumpe procellas Tutelâ fecure meâ. Coeli ifte fretique,
Non puppis noftræ, labor eft. Hanc Cæfare preffam
-Quid tantâ ftrage paratur,
PHARSAL. V. 578.
with the highest ideas of human perfection. Wherever he appears, we behold the hero. The objects which he pursues, are always truly great; to bend the proud; to protect the injured; to defend his friends; to overcome his enemies by generofity more than by force. A portion of the fame fpirit actuates all the other heroes. Valour reigns; but it is a generous valour, void of cruelty, animated by honour, not by hatred. We behold no debafing paffions among Fingal's warriors; no fpirit of avarice or of infult; but a perpetual contention for fame; a defire of being diftinguifhed and remembered for gallant actions; a love of juftice; and a zealous attachment to their friends and their country. Such is the ftrain of fentiment in the works of Offian.
But the fublimity of moral fentiments, if they wanted the foftening of the tender, would be in hazard of giving a hard and stiff air to poetry. It is not enough to admire. Admiration is a cold feeling, in comparison of that deep intereft, which the heart takes in tender and pathetick fcenes; where, by a mysterious attachment to the objects of compaffion, we are pleafed and delighted, even whilft we mourn. With scenes of this kind, Offian abounds; and his high merit in thefe, is inconteftable. He may be blamed for drawing tears too often from our eyes; but that he has the power of commanding them, I believe no man, who has the leaft fenfibility, will queftion. The general character of his poetry, is the heroic mixed with the elegiac ftrain; admiration tempered with pity. Ff2 Ever
Ever fond of giving, as he expreffes it, “the joy "of grief," it is vifible, that on all moving fubjects, he delights to exert his genius; and accordingly, never were there finer pathetick fituations, than what his works prefent. His great art in managing them lies in giving vent to the fimple and natural emotions of the heart. We meet with no exaggerated declamation; no fubtile refinements on forrow; no fubftitution of description in place of paffion. Offian felt strongly himself; and the heart when uttering its native language never fails, by powerful sympathy, to affect the heart. A great variety of examples might be produced. We need only open the book to find them every where. What, for inftance, can be more moving, than the lamentations of Oithona, after her misfortune? Gaul, the fon of Morni, her lover, ignorant of what she had fuffered, comes to her refcue. Their meeting is tender in the highest degree. He proposes to engage her foe, in fingle combat, and gives her in charge what she is to do, if he himself fhall fall. "And shall the daughter of Nuäth live, she replied "with a bursting figh? Shall I live in Tromathon "and the fon of Morni low? My heart is not of "that rock; nor my foul careless as that sea, which "lifts its blue waves to every wind, and rolls be"neath the storm. The blast, which shall lay thee "low, fhall spread the branches of Oithona on "earth. We fhall wither together, fon of car"borne Morni! The narrow houfe is pleasant to "me; and the grey ftone of the dead; for never "more will I leave thy rocks, fea-furrounded "Troma
"Tromathon!-Chief of Strumon, why ca-
Oithona mourns like a woman; in Cuchullin's expreffions of grief after his defeat, we behold the fentiments of a hero, generous but defponding. The fituation is remarkably fine. Cuchullin, rouzed from his cave, by the noise of battle, sees Fingal victorious in the field. He is described as kindling at the fight." His hand is on the fword of his “fathers; his red-rolling eyes on the foe. He "thrice attempted to rush to battle; and thrice "did Connal ftop him;" fuggefting, that Fingal was routing the foe; and that he ought not, by the show of fuperfluous aid, to deprive the king of any part of the honour of a victory, which was owing to him alone. Cuchullin yields to this generous fentiment; but we see it stinging him to the heart with the fenfe of his own difgrace. "Then, Carril, go, replied the chief, "and greet the king of Morven. When Lochlin "falls away like a stream after rain, and the noise "of the battle is over, then be thy voice sweet in
* Vol. i. p. 338, 339, 343.