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THE CURSE OF THIRST.
Tickler, (agitatedly pulling up the waistband of his tights.) I'll play you a main of three for a thousand guineas.
Shepherd. A thousan' guineas! That's fearsome.
Shepherd. I hae mair sense than do that. I never gied a worsted rape a rug a' my days that it didna burst. I'll roar down the lug. Awmrose--Awmrose-the Dolphin! (Enter MR. AMBROSE like Arion.) Ready-made and reekin'! Mawgic!
Tickler. That's a poor, mean, degrading simile of Byron's, James, of the dying dolphin and the dying day.*
Shepherd. I never recollecked a line o poetry a' my days—but I dinna doot it's bad for you bae a gleg ee for fautes, but a blunt ane for beauties, sir.
Tickler. Borrowed, too, from Butler’s boiled lobster and the reddening dawn.t
Shepherd. Coffee's nae slokener—and I am unco thrusty. THE King!
Omnes. God bless him !
Shepherd. Hunger's naething till thrust. Ance in the middle of the muir o' Rannoch I had neer deed o' thrust. I was crossing frae Loch Ericht fit to the heed o’Glenorchy, and got in amang the hags, that for leagues and leagues a'round that dismal region seem howked out o’the black moss by demons doomed to dreary days-dargs for their sins in the wilderness. There was naething fort but lowpt-lowp loupin' out o' ae pit until anither-hour after hour-till, sair forfeuchen, I feenally gied mysell up for lost. Drought had sooked up the pools, and left their cracked bottoms barken'd in the heat. The heather was sliddery as ice, aneath that torrid zone. Sic a sun! No ae cloud on a’ the sky glitterin' wi wirewoven sultriness! The howe o' the lift was like a great cawdron pabblin' into the boil ower a slow fire. The element o' water seem'd dried up out o' natur', a' except the big draps o sweat that plashed doon on my fever'd hauns that began to trummle like leaves oaspen. My mouth was made o' cork cover'd wi' dustlips, tongue, palate, and a' doon till my throat and stamach. I spakand the arid soun' was as if a buried corpse had tried to mutter through the smotherin' mouls. I thocht on the tongue of a parrot. The central lands o'Africa, where lions gang ragin' mad for water, when cheated out v, blood, canna be worse-dreamed I in a species o' delirium-than this dungeon'd desert. Oh! but a drap o' dew would hae seem'd then pregnant wi' salvation !-a shower out o' the windows o' heaven, like the direct gift o' God. Rain ! rain ! rain! what a world o’ life in that sma' word! But the atmosphere look'd as if it would never melt mair, entrenched against a' liquidity by brazen barriers burnin' in the sun. Spittle I had nane--and when in desperation I sooked the heather, 'twas frush and fusionless, as if wither'd by lichtenin', and a' sap had left the vegetable creation. What'n a cursed fule was I—for in rage I fear I swore inwardly (heev'n forgie me,) that I didna at the last change-house put into my pouch a bottle o' whisky! I fan' my pulse and it was thin-thin-thin-sma'-sma'-sma'-noo nane ava'-and then a flutter that tel't tales o' the exhausted heart. I grat.* Then shame came to my relief-shame even in that utter solitude. Somewhere or ither in the muir I knew there was a loch, and I took out my map. But the infernal idiwit that had planned it bad na alloo'd a yellow circle o'aboon six inches square for a' Perthshire. What's become o'a' the birds—thocht I—and the bees—and the butterflees'-and the dragons ?-a' wattin' their bills and their proboscises in far-off rills, and rivers, and lochs! O blessed wild-dyucks, plouterin' in the water, strieckin' theirsells up, and flappin' their flashin' plumage in the pearly freshness! A great big speeder, wi’ a bag-belly, was runnin' up my leg, and I crushed it in my fierceness—the first inseck I ever wantonly murdered syne I was a wean. I kenna whether at last I swarfed or slept---but for certain sure I had a dream. I dreamt that I was at hame—and that a tub o'whey was staunin on the kitchen dresser. I dook'd my head intil't, and sooked it dry to the wood. Yet it slokened not my thrust, but aggravated a thousan' fauld the torment o'ny greed. A thunder-plump or water-spout brak amang the hills and in an instant a' the burns were on spate ;t the Yarrow roarin' red, and foaming as it were mad,--and I thocht I cou'd hae drucken up a' its linns. 'Twas a brain fever ye see, sirs, that had stricken mema sair stroke--and I was conscious again o' lyin' broad awake in the desert, wi' my face up to the cruel sky. I was the verra personification o' thrust! and felt that I was ane o' the damned dry, doom'd for his sins to leeve beyond the reign o' the element to a'eternity. Suddenly, liko a man shot in battle, I bounded up into the air-and ran off in the convulsive energy o' dyin' natur--till doon I fell—and felt that I was about indeed to expire. A sweet saft celestial greenness cooled my cheek as I lay, and my burnin' een-and then a gleam o' something like a mighty diamond--a gleam that seemed to comprehend within itself the haill universe--shone in upon and through my being—I
* " Parting day
+ The sun had long since, in the lap
Of Thetis, taken out his nap,
From black to red began to turn.-M.
gazed upon't wi' a' my senses--mercisu’ heaven! what was't but-a Well in the wilderness --water-water-water,--and as I drank-. I prayed !
Omnes. Bravo-bravo-bravo! Hurra! hurra-hurra!
Opium-Eater. Inspiration admits not of analysis—in itself an evolvement of an infinite series
Shepherd. Is na the Dolphin rather owre sweet, sirs? We maun mak haste and drain him-and neist brewst Mrs. Awmrose maun be less lavish o’ her sugar-for her finest crystals are the verra concentrated essence o' saccharine sweetness, twa lumps to the mutchkin.t
Opium-Eater. Mr. Hogg, that wall-flower in your button hole is intensely beautiful, and its faint wild scent mingles delightfully with the fragrance of the coffee
Shepherd. And o’the toddy--ae blended bawm. I pu'd it aff o' the auld towers o' Newark, this morning, frae a constellation o'starry blossoms, that a' nicht lang had been drinkin' the dews, and at the dawin'cu'd hardly haud up their heads, sae laden was the haill bright bunch wi' the pearlins o' heaven. And wud ye believe't, a bit robinredbreast, had bigged it's nest in a cosy crannie, o' the moss-wa, abint the wall-flower, a perfeck paradise to brood and breed in-out flew the dear wee beastie wi' a flutter in my face, and every mouth open'd as I keek'd in-and then a' was hushed again—just like my ain bairnies in ae bed at hame-10 up yet—for the hours were slawly intrudin' on the “innocent brichtness othe new-born day;" and it was, guessin' by the shadowless light on the tower and trees, only about four o'clock in the mornin'.
Tickler. I was just then going to bed.
Shepherd. Teetus Vespawsian used to say sometimes—“I have lost a day,”—but the sluggard loses a' his life, and lets it slip through his hauns like a knotless thread.
Opium-Eater. I am no sluggard, Mr. Hogg—yet I
Shepherd. Change nicht into day, and day.into nicht, runnin' coonter to natur, insultin' the sun, and quarrellin wi’ the equawtor. That's no richt. Nae man kens what beauty is that has na seen her a thoosan' and a thoosan' times, lyin' on the lap o' nature, asleep in the dawnon an earthly bed a spirit maist divine.
Opium-Eater. The emotion of beauty
Shepherd. Philosophers say there's nae sic a thing as beauty ? and Burns, out o' civility to Dr. Dugald Stewart and Mr. Alison, confessed that it's a' association o’ ideas. Mr. De Quinshy, I hope you dinna believe such havers !
Opium-Eater. Mr. Alison's work on Taste might convert the most
. • Mutchkin, an English pint.
sceptical, so winningly beautiful.* It has revealed, not merely the philosophy, but the religion of the Fine Arts. He does not deny adaptations of the world of matter to the world of mind-harmonies which
Shepherd. But is there nae sic thing as beauty ? Nor sublimity ?
North. Don't be alarmed, my dear James. Beauty, wherever you go,“ pitches her tents before you ;” nor can it signify a straw, whether she be in the living queen of the green earth, blue sky, and purple ocean, or an apparition evolved from your own imaginative genius.
Opium-Eater. We seem to take beauty in two senses—for we sometimes oppose it to sublimity; and yet we have a feeling, that over sublimity there lies a thin transparent veil of beauty, which makes it not terror and pain, but delightful poetry. Methinks, too, that there is a beauty that lies out of imagination and poetry-merely or nearly sensible—without intellect, and without passion ; for example, that of a colour,--of some soft, fair, inexpressive faces —
Shepherd. Often very bonny—but a body sune tires o' them-sao like babbies.
Opium-Eater. I think Dr. Brown clearly wrong, who says that there is no essential difference between beauty and sublimity, because a stream begins in simple loveliness, and ends in being the Mississippi or River of Amazons. Beauty begins to be bigh, when it is felt to affect intellect with a sense of expansion, with a tendency to the inde finite—the infinite. If it ever appears—which I have said it sometimes does—shut up in soft sense—and unimaginative, the reason is, that this expansive intellectual action is then stopped-stagnated in mere present pleasure. Such pleasure might appear, to our first reflection upon it, to be wholly of sense, even though, in metaphysical exactness, it were not so: but the difference in kind between beauty and sublimity, is, that the element of the first is pleasure, of the second pain.
Opium-Eater. There are two obviously, or apparently distinct sublimities—one of desolate Alps, the other of the solar system and Socrates.
Opium-Eater. In the one, the soul seems to struggle, and be in a sort conquered—or it may conquer. I don't know which
Shepherd. Aiblins baith-alternately.
Opium-Eater. In the other, it sympathizes with calm great power, and is serenely elated.
• The Rev. Archibald Alison, who was a native of Edinburgh, where he resided for many years, in charge of an Episcopal congregation there, died in 1839, at the age of eighty-two. He was an eloquent preucher. His “Essay on the Nature and Principles of Taste," has been greatly com Inended for the soundness of its theory as well as the beauty of its language. His son, Sir Archie bald Alison, is author of the well-known History of Europe from the French hevolution," and was made a baronet by the Earl of Derby's Ministry in 1852.-M
Nortir. Buke's fear is in the first
North. Edmund Burke, James. But how, my dear sir, is there pain in the second ?
Opium-Eater. In the case of moral sublimity, sir, it is evident that there is a triumph of the moral sense over some sort of pain: that is the essential condition of the moral sublimity. Even when the conquest is over pleasure, it is a conquest over the pain of relinquishing the pleasure.
Shepherd. Maist ingenious and intricate !
Opium-Eater. But in the sublimity of the order of the universe, there seems to be no pain-nothing but the subliming intellectual apprehension of infinitude.
* North. That kind of sublimity, then, Mr. De Quincy, might less seem to have a distinction in kind from softest beauty, or any beauty from which imagination seems most to be withdrawn. For if in such beauty there is the feeling of indefiniteness, not of great extension, but of the mere obliteration and invisibility of limits, then that indefiniteness is the beginning—or the least degree of infiniteness,- and it would require very nice analysis indeed, to show that from low beauty, or from good beauty, up to this sublimity, there are new, not differently proportioned, elements.
Shepherd. Confound me, Mr. North, if you're no gettin' as unintelligible as Mr. De Quinshy himself. Hae ye been chewin opium ?
Opium-Eater. This subliming infinite is mixed with pain in the
“Good man struggling with the storms of fate.” Shepherd. I understaun' that—for 'tis like a flash o’truth.
Opium-Eater. Pain and fear seem the proper elements of the natural sublimity of this world, considered as the domain and theatre of imagination; as in desolate Alps, on which I think the earth is considered as the seat of man, with reference to, and subordinate to him ; at least as collected within itself and about him, and it is not considered in reference to all creation. The sun appears in our sky-- lightening us—not as the centre of the solar system. Therefore, even if the Deity is felt in the earthly scenes of imagination, it is not with distinct intellectual acknowledgment or estimate of the laws of his government, or of his agency :-his power is felt as a power that bursts out occasionally and uncertainly—that is, it is seen as it is felt—that is, it is seen by feeling—and only what is felt is seen—the feeling is all the seeing—so that cessation of feeling is utter darkness—and there is intellectual death.
* Burke and Hare, the murderers, and Dr. Knox, the Edinburgh anatomist, for whom they
supplied “subjects.” An account of this dreadful case will be found in Volume III., where, in the Forty-first of the Noctes, it is fully stated and discussed.-M.