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or height does not readily manifest itself to them ; so that any strong motive is sufficient to overpower the sense of it. Man only has a natural function for expanding on an illimitable sensorium, the illimitable growths of space. Man, coming to the precipice, reads his danger; the brute perishes: man is saved ; and the horse is saved by his rider.
But, if this sounds in the ear of some a doubtful refinement, the doubt applies only to the lowest degrees of space. For the highest, it is certain that brutes have no perception. To man is as much reserved the prerogative of perceiving space in its higher extensions, as of geometrically constructing the relations of space. And the brute is no more capable of apprehending abysses through his eye, than he can build upwards or can analyze downwards the aerial synthesis of Geometry. Such, therefore, as is space for the grandeur of man's perceptions, such as is space for the benefit of man's towering mathematic speculations, such is the nature of our debt to Lord Rosse -- as being the philosopher who has most pushed back the frontiers of our conquests upon this exclusive inheritance of man. We have all heard of a king that, sitting on the sea-shore, bade the waves, as they began to lave his feet, upon their allegiance to retire. That was said not vainly or presumptuously, but in reproof of sycophantic courtiers. Now, however, we see in good earnest another man, wielding another kind of sceptre, and sitting upon the shores of infinity, that says to the ice which had frozen up our progress,
• Melt thou before my breath !' that says to the rebellious nebulæ, — “Submit, and burst into blazing worlds !' that says to the gates of darkness, - 'Roll back, ye barriers, and no longer hide from us the infinities of God!'
Come, and I will show you what is beautiful.'
From the days of infancy still lingers in my ears this opening of a prose hymn by a lady, then very celebrated, viz., the late Mrs. Barbauld. The hymn began by enticing some solitary infant into some silent garden, I believe, or some forest lawn; and the opening words were, Come, and I will show you what is beautiful!' Well, and what beside ? There is nothing beside ; oh, disappointed and therefore enraged reader; positively this is the sum-total of what I can recall from the wreck of
and certainly it is not much. Even of Sappho, though time has made mere ducks and drakes of her lyrics, we have rather more spared to us than this. And yet this trifle, simple as you think it, this shred of a fragment, if the reader will believe me, still echoes with luxurious sweetness in my ears, from some unaccountable hide-and-seek of fugitive childish memories; just as a marine shell, if applied steadily to the ear, awakens (according to the fine image of Landor") the great vision of the sea; places the listener
In the sun's palace-porch,
Now, on some moonless night, in some fitting condition of the atmosphere, if Lord Rosse would permit the reader and myself to walk into the front drawingroom of his telescope, then, in Mrs. Barbauld's words,
slightly varied, I might say to him, - Come, and I will show you what is sublime! In fact, what I am going to lay before him, from Dr. Nichol's work, is, or at least would be, (when translated into Hebrew grandeur by the mighty telescope,) a step above even that object which some four-and-twenty years ago in the British Museum struck me as simply the sublimest sight which in this sight-seeing world I had seen. It was the Memnon's head, then recently brought from Egypt. I looked at it, as the reader must suppose, in order to understand the depth which I have here ascribed to the impression, not as a human but as a symbolic head; and what it symbolized to me were: 1. The peace which passeth all understanding. 2. The eternity which baffles and confounds all facul. ty of computation ; the eternity which had been, the eternity which was to be. 3. The diffusive love, not such as rises and falls upon waves of life and mortality, not such as sinks and swells by undulations of time, but a procession - -an emanation from some mystery of endless dawn. You durst not call it a smile that radiated from the lips; the radiation was too awful to clothe itself in adumbrations or memorials of flesh.
In that mode of sublimity, perhaps, I still adhere to my first opinion, that nothing so great was ever beheld. The atmosphere for this, for the Memnon, was the breathlessness which belongs to a saintly trance; the holy thing seemed to live by silence. But there is a picture, the pendant of the Memnon, there is a dreadful cartoon, from the gallery which has begun to open upon Lord Rosse's telescope,
where the appropriate atmosphere for investing it must be drawn from another silence, from the frost and from the eternities of death. It is the famous nebula in the constellation of Orion ; famous for the unexampled defiance with which it resisted all approaches from the most potent of former telescopes ; famous for its frightful magnitude and for the frightful depth to which it is sunk in the abysses of the heavenly wilderness; famous just now for the submission with which it has begun to render up its secrets to the all-conquering telescope ; and famous in all time coming for the horror of the regal phantasma which it has perfected to eyes of flesh. Had Milton's incestuous mother,' with her fleshless son, and with the warrior angel, his father, that led the rebellions of heaven, been suddenly unmasked by Lord Rosse's instrument, in these dreadful distances before wbich, simply as expressions of resistance, the mind of man shudders and recoils, there would have been nothing more appalling in the exposure ; in fact, it would have been essentially the same exposure : the same expression of power in the detestable phantom, the same rebellion in the attitude, the same pomp of malice in the features to a universe seasoned for its assaults.
The reader must look to Dr. Nichol's book, at page 51, for the picture of this abominable apparition. But then, in order to see what I see, the obedient reader must do what I tell him to do. Let him therefore view the wretch upside down. If he neg. lects that simple direction, of course I don't answer for anything that follows: without any fault of mine,
my description will be unintelligible. This inversion being made, the following is the dreadful creature that will then reveal itself.
Description of the Nebula in Orion, as forced to show out by Lord Rosse. - You see a head thrown back, and raising its face, (or eyes, if eyes it had,) in the very anguish of hatred, to some unknown heavens. What should be its skull wears what might be an Assyrian tiara, only ending behind in a floating train. This head rests upon a beautifully developed neck and throat. All power being given to the awful enemy, he is beautiful where he pleases, in order to point and envenom his ghostly ugliness. The mouth, in that stage of the apocalypse which Sir John Her schel was able to arrest in his eighteen-inch mirror, is amply developed. Brutalities unspeakable sit upon the upper lip, which is confluent with a snout; for separate nostrils there are
Were it not for this one defect of nostrils; and, even in spite of this defect, (since, in so mysterious a mixture of the angelic and the brutal, we may suppose the sense of odor to work by some compensatory organ,) one is reminded by the phantom's attitude of a passage, ever memorable, in Milton : that passage, I mean, where Death first becomes aware, soon after the original trespass, of his own future empire over man. The meagre shadow' even smiles (for the first time and the last) on apprehending his own abominable bliss, by apprehending from afar the savor of mortal change on earth.'
'Such a scent,' (he says,) 'I draw Of carnage, prey innumerable.'