Imagens das páginas
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Imagination receives every impulse with eager-
nefs, while the Paffions crowd around her fplen-
did throne obedient to her dictates. They act,
indeed, reciprocally on each other. The Imagi-
nation pours a concourse of contrary ideas into
the mind, and easily disregards or reconciles their
incongruities. The voice of the calm enquirer
Reason is incapable of being heard amidst the
tumult; and the favourite images is animated
and enlarged by the glowing fire of the Paffions.
No
power remains to controul or regulate, much
lefs to fubdue, this mental ray, which inflames the
whole foul, and exalts it into the fervour of
ENTHUSIASM; hurries it into the extravagance
of SUPERSTITION; or precipitates it into the
furious frenzies of FANATICISM.

The powerful tumult reigns in every part,
Pants in the breast, and swells the rifing heart.

ENTHUSIASM is that extacy of the mind, that lively transport of the foul, which is excited by the pursuit or contemplation of fome great and noble object, the novelty of which awakens attention, the truth of which fixes the understanding, and the grandeur of which, by firing the fancy, engages the aid of every paffion, and prompts the mind to the highest undertakings. A juft and rightly formed enthusiasm is founded in reafon, and fupported by nature, and carries the mind.

ter;

above its ordinary level into the unexplored regions of art and science. The rational enthusiast, indeed, rises to an elevation fo far above the diftinct view of vulgar eyes, that common understandings are apt to treat him either with blind admiration, or cool contempt, only because they are incapable of comprehending his real characand while fome bow to him as an extraordinary genius, others rail at him as an unhappy lunatic. The powers of enthusiasm, however, when founded upon proper principles, fo ftrengthen and invigorate the faculties of the mind, as to enable it to refift danger undismayed, and to furmount difficulties that appear irresistible. Those, indeed, who have poffeffed themselves of this power to any extraordinary degree, have been confidered as infpired, and their great atchievements conceived to have been directed by councils, and fuftained by energies, of a divine or fuper-mundane nature. Certain it is, that we owe to the spirit of enthusiasm whatever is great in art, fublime in science, or noble in the human character: and the elegant and philofophic LORD SHAFTSBURY, while he ridicules the abfurdities of this wonderfully powerful and extenfive quality, admits that it is impoffible to forbear afcribing to it whatever is greatly performed by heroes, statesmen, poets, orators, and even philofophers themselves and who, that is not contented to wallow in the mire

of

of grofs fenfuality, would not quit the noisy fcenes of tumultuous diffipation, and repair with joy and gladness to folitary shades, to the bower of tranquillity, and the fountain of peace, to majestic forefts, and to verdant groves, to acquire this neceffary ingredient to perfect excellence? Who would not willingly pierce the penfive gloom, or dwell among the brighter glories of the golden age, to acquire, by a warm and glowing, but correct and chafte, contemplation of the beautiful and fublime works of nature, these ravishing sensations, and gain this noble fervor of the imagination? A proper study of the works of nature, amidst the romantic scenery of fylvan Solitude, is certainly the most likely means of infpiring the mind with true enthufiafm, and leading Genius to her moft exalted heights; but the attempt is dangerous. There are few men in whose minds airy notions do not fometimes tyrannize. "To indulge the power of fiction," fays a celebrated writer," and fend imagination out upon the wing, is often the sport of those who delight too much in filent speculation. When we are alone, we are not always bufy; the labour of excogitation is too violent to laft long; the ardour of enquiry will fometimes give way to idleness or fatiety. He who has nothing external that can divert him, muft find pleasure in his own thoughts, and muft conceive L himself

VOL. II.

himself what he is not; for who is pleafed with what he is? He then expatiates in boundless futurity, and culls from all imaginable conditions that which for the present moment he should most defire, amufes his defires with impoffible enjoyments, and confers upon his pride unattainable dominion. The mind dances from scene to scene, unites all pleasures in all combinations, riots in delights which nature and fortune, with all their bounty, cannot beftow. In time fome particular train of ideas fixes the attention; all other intellectual gratifications are rejected; the mind, in weariness or leisure, recurs conftantly to the favourite conception, and feasts on the luscious falfehood, whenever she is offended with the bitterness of truth. By degrees the reign of fancy is confirmed; fhe grows first imperious, and in time defpotic: then fictions begin to operate as realities, false opinions fasten on the mind, and life paffes in dreams of rapture or of anguish. This is one of the dangers of Solitude."

Thefe obfervations bring us to confider the character of the fanatical vifionary, who feels, like the happy enthusiast, the fame agitation of paffions and the fame inflammation of mind; but as the feelings of the one are founded upon knowledge, truth, and nature, fo the feelings of the other are the refult of ignorance and error, and all the

glittering

glittering meteors of his brain the effects of imposture and deception. Of this fpecies of Enthufiafm Mr. LOCKE gives the following description: "In all ages men in whom melancholy has mixed with devotion, or whose conceit of themselves has raised them into an opinion of a greater familiarity with God, and a nearer admittance to his favours, than is afforded to others, have often flattered themselves with a persuasion of an immediate intercourse with the Deity, and frequent communication with his divine spirit. Their minds being thus prepared, whatever groundless opinion comes to settle itself strongly upon their fancies, is an illumination from the Spirit of God; and whatever odd action they find in themselves a strong inclination to do, that impulfe is concluded to be A CALL or direction from Heaven, and muft be obeyed: It is a commiffion from above, and they cannot err in executing it. This fpecies of enthufiafm, though arifing from the conceit of a warm and overweening brain, works, when it once gets footing, more powerfully on the perfuafions and actions of men than either reason or revelation, or both together; men being forwardly obedient to all the impulses they receive from themselves." The fantastic images, indeed, which the wildness of his imagination creates, fubdues his reason, and destroys the best affections

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