Interested in Language
Can a good soul enlighten me on what the phrase a baleful vast means in the context?
"Really, one does not know whether to laugh or weep over such a business. Observe, for one thing, how diversely men are made! Their are minds precisely so sensitive as a cupful of melted silver; every breath will roughen and darken them: and what of the simoon, tornado? And that is not a metaphor but a simile. For such, this earth—I had almost said this universe—is clearly no fit habitation, but a Machine of Death, a baleful Vast. Too horrible to many is the running shriek of Being—they cannot bear the world. Let each look well to his own little whisk of life, say I, and leave the big fiery Automaton alone.
M.P.Shiel, Vaila, 1896
"a baleful Vast".
To me, Shiel is using poetic Victorian language.
He is saying that the earth, far from being a beautiful place is a "Machine of Death" and a thing of immense, or boundless, malevolence.
(BrE first language speaker.)