Sivut kuvina

saffrages of the human race, and of the miration, and reverence, which interested ages wbich are yet to come. The other is the youthful heart, wbile yet a stranger to the foundation of that hambler, though more the opinions and ways of the world. Its profitable sagacity, which reaches the pos- most distinguishing characteris ics, accordsessor how to suit his manufactures to the ingly, are strong domestic and local attachmarket; to judge before-hand of the recep- ments, accompanied with that enthusiastic tion which any new production is to meet love of nature, simplicity, and truth, which, in with, and to regulate his exertions accord. every department both of art and science, is ingly. The one must be cultivated by the the best and sorest presage of genius. It is habits of abstraction and study, which by this sensibility that gives rise to the habits of withdrawing the thoughts from the uumean. attentive observation by which such a taste ing particularities of individual perception, can alone be formed ; and it is this also that, and the capricious drapery of conventional biuding and perpetuating the associations manners, familiarize the mind to the general which such a taste supposes, fortifies ile forms of beautiful nature; or 10 beauties mind against the feeting caprices which which the classical genius of antiquity has the votaries of fashion watch and obey." pp. copied from these, and which, like thesc, are 470—471. -unfading and immortal. The proper sphere The essential inferiority of arbiof the other, is such a capital as London or Paris. It is there that the judges are to be works of iaste, is sufficiently esta.

trary to universal associations, in all found from whose decision it acknowledges blished by the concurrent suffrages of no appeal; and it is in such a situation alone that it can be cultivated with advantage.

mankind. Numberless illustrations Dr. Johnson has well described (in a pro- of this fact present themselves, the Bogue spoken by Garrick, wlien he first instant it is stated, to every person opened the theatre al Drury-lane,) the tri- who is at all con versant with the lifling solicitudes and the ever-varying atten- tesary productions of different ages. tions to which those are doomed, who sub. But perhaps a more remarkable inmit thus to be the ministers and slaves of pub- stance of its truth could hardly be lic folly :

found than is supplied by the writHard is his fate, who here by fortune placed ings of Shakspeare and Ben Jon. Must watch the wild vicissitudes of taste;

The latter of these bad at one With every meteor of caprice must play, time so nearly superseded his master And catch the new-blowu bubbles of the in the general favour, that Dryden, day.

in his Essay on Drainatic Poetry, con.. The ground-work of this last species of taste siders himself as exposed to a charge (if it deserves ihe name) is a certain facility of presumption in venturing to claim of association, acquired by early and constaut

an equality for his beloved intercourse with society; more particularly Shakspeare; and he seems to have with those classes of society who are looked up to a supreme legislators in matters of the expression of so bold a judgment

thought it necessary to accompany fashion ; a habit of mind, the tendency of which is to render the sense of the beautiful

with an extravagant eocomium on the (as well as the sense of what is right and Silent Woman of Jonson, which has wrong) easily susceptible of modifiention probably seduced many an unhappy from the contagion of example. It is a ha reader into a perusal of that very bit by no means inconsistent with a certain, ordinary performance. Time, how, degree of original sensibility; nay, it se. ever, has reversed the judgments of quires, perbaps, some original sensibility as fashion; the caprices of an age of its basis: but this sensibility, in consequence pedantry are past, and truth and of the habit which it has itself contributed to

nature have resumed their legitimate establish, soon becomes transient and use. . Jess; losing all connection with reason and

authority. the noral principles, and alive only to such

It must not be supposed that all impressions as fashion recognizes and sanc

arbitrary associations are equally tions. The other species of taste, founded

frivolous. Some of them are of far on the study of universal beauty (and which, greater value than others; and there for the sake of distinction, I siall call philo are two classes among them which sophical taste), implies a seusibility deep and may be said even to partake of uni, permanent to those objects of affection, ado

versality. Mr. Stewart has named





[ocr errors]

them ; 1. Classical Associations; and which is exhibited in a performance. 2. National or Local Associations. Both statuary and painting are greatOf the power which the first of these ly indebted io this circumstance for possess, under the direction of a the applauses they receive. The skilful hand, no one who is fully finer touches of the chissel and pencil, sensible of the beauties of Milton's which an ordinary eye wholly overpoetry can be ignorant. Mr. Burke's looks, are beheld with rapture by works abound in similar allusions. those who have cultivated the arts. The following, among numberless Even in poetry how much of the others, has always struck us as ex- admiration so justly paid to Virgil, quisitely beautiful :-speaking of the Tasso, Boileau, and Pope, may be wars of 1796-7, in Italy, he names resolved into the same principle. the Mincio, who now hides his Indeed, the pleasure which attends head in his reeds, and leads his slow the contemplation of whatever is and melancholy windings along banks perfect, or which nearly approaches wasted by the barbarians of perfection, seems peculiarly to The power of classical associations belong to a being who is, or ought is probably felt much more strongly to be, in a state of continual proby men than by women, in conse, gression. Nothing, perhaps, quence of the different courses of distinctive of a really superior chaeducation pursued by them. We racter, as a just and lively percepare persuaded also, that the plea- tion of excellence wherever it is io sure felt by many who delight in re- be found. ferences to the ancient writers, arises The topic last mentioned leads less from a keen relish for their Mr. Stewart to notice those technical beauties than from those fond recol. rules which critics in different ages, lections of the days of youth, and from Arisiotle to Bossu, have labourhope, and gaiety, with which they ed to establish for the direction of are insensibly accompanied. The authors. To these he does not ateffect of national and local asso- tach any great value; and we conciations, thougb limited in its ex. cur with bim in that opinion. They tent, is so considerable within its may save little men from commit. own sphere, and allies itself so ting great extravagances, but are powerfully to some of the best af. seldom much regarded by bolder fections of our nature, that it would minds; like crutches, which support be an unpardonable cruelty to at the weak, and are an incumbrance to tempt to diminish their influence. the strong. After making a few obsera The emotions to which a feeling vations on what he calls a technical heart is peculiarly sensible are sure- correctness of taste, Mr. Stewart ly among the most genuine elements proceeds in the followiny manner.

The extract we are about to make is He dreamed on Alpine heights of Athol's

long; but it will give to our readers hill,

a better opportunity of observing his And heard in Ebro's roar bis Lynedoch's

general style of composition than we lovely rill.

have yet afforded them, and the ob

servations which it contains are inIt is justly observed by Mr. Stew. teresting and valuable. art, that the cultivation of a fine taste not only enables us to enjoy questioriably.of a higher order than the tech

" There is another species of taste, (unmore perfectly those primary plea- nical taste we have been now considering) sures which its appropriate objects which is insensibly acquired by a diligent afford, but superadds to these a and habitual study of the most approved secondary pleasure peculiar to itself and consecrated standards of excellence; and and of no inconsiderable value. This which, in pronouncing its critical judgments, arises from a perception of the skill is secretly and often unconsciously guided by and taste as well as the genius an idolatrous comparison of what it sees Carist. ORSERY. No, 130.

4 R

of poetry :

with the works of its favourite masters. beauty. That genuine and native taste, the This, I think, approaches nearly to what La origin and growth of which I attempted to Bruyere calls le gout de comparaison. It is describe in the last chapter, is perhaps one that kind of taste which commonly belongs of the rarest acquisitions of the human to the connoisseur in painting; and to which mind: nor, will this appear surprising to something analogous may be remarked in those who consider with attention the comall the other fine arts.

bination of original qualities, which it im. * A

person possessed of this sort of taste, plies; the accidental nature of many of the if he should be surpassed in the correctness cireuinstances which must conspire to afford of his judgment by the technical critic, is dne opportunities for its improvement; and much more likely to recognize the beauties the persevering habits of discriminating obof a new work, by their resemblance to those servation by which it is formed. It occurs, which are familiar to his memory; or if he indeed, in its most perfect state, as seldom should himself attempt the task of execution, as originality of genius : and when united and possesses powers equal to that task, he with industry, and with moderate powers of may possibly, without any clear conception esecution, it will go farther in such an age as of his own merits, rival, the original he has the present, 10 secure success in the arts been accustomed to admire. It was said by with which it is conversant, than the utrnost an ancient critic, that in reading Seneca it fertility, of invention, where the taste is ning was impossible not to wish that he had formed or perverted, written with the taste of another person, "With respect to this native or indigenous though with his own genius'-suo ingenis taste, it is particularly, worthy of observation, alicno judicio;—and we find, in fact, that that it is always more strongly disposed to many who have failed as original writers, the enjoyment of beauties than to the detechave seemed to surpass theniselves, wbention of blemishes. It is, indeed, by a quick rbey attempted to imitateWarburton has and lively perception of the former, accomsemarked, and, in my opinion, with soune panies with a spirit of candour, and indul. truth, that Byrke bimself, never wrote, so geuce towards the later, that its existence well as when he initated, Bolingbroke. Is in the mind of any individual is most unequia on other occasions, he soared liigher than in vocally marked. It is this perception wlicha his Vindication of Natural Society, he has can alone evince that sensibility, of tem tertainly no where else (I speak at present perament, of which a certain portion, alinerely of the style of bis composition) sus- though it does not of itself constitute taste, tained himself so long upon a steady wing is, nevertheless, the just and most essentia

! I do not, however, agree with Warburton element in its composition; while it evinces, in thinking, that this implied any defect in at the same tine, ihose babits of critical obMr. Burke's genius, connected with that servation and cool relection, which, allow, faculty of imitation which lie so eminently ing no impression, how slight soever, to pass possessed, The defect lay in his taste, unnoticed, seem 10 awaken a new sense of which, when left to itself

, without the guid, beauty, and to create that delicacy of feels ance of an acknowledged standard of ex ing which they only disclose. We are told cellence, appears not only, to have been of Saunderson, the blind mathematician, that warped by some peculiar notions concerning in a series of Roman medals, he could disting the art of writing; but to liave been tup guish by his hand the true from the counter: wavering and versatile

, to keep liis imagina, feit, with a more unerring discrimination tion and his fancy (stimulated, as they than the eye of a professed virtuoso; and we were, by an ostentation of his intellectual are assured by lvis biograpber, Mr. Colson, riches, and by an ambition of Asiatic orna- that when he was present at the astroporniment) under due controul. With the com- cal observations, in the garden of his college, position of Bolingbroke present to his he was accustomed to remark every cloud thoughts, lie has shewn with what ease he that passed over the sun.

The effect of the could equal its most finished beauties; while, blindness of this extraordinary person wa on more than one occasion, a consciousness not surely to produce any organical change of his own strength has led him to display in his other perceptive powers. It server his superiority, by brandishing, in his sport, only to quicken bis attention to those, slighter still heavier weapons than his master was

percepțions of touch, which are overlooked able to wicd.

by men to whom they convey, no useful io; " To one or other of these two classes, the formation. The case, I conceive, to be pertaste of inost professed critics will be found fectly analogous in matters which fall under to belong; and it is evident, that they both the cognizance of intellectual taste. Where exist where tbere is little or no sensibility to nature has denied all sensibility to beauty.

no study or instruction can supply the de- on the merits of works of genuinc excelfect; but it may be possible, nevertheless, lence; impressions, however, which they by awakening the attention to things neglect. who are cotiscious of them have not always ed before, to develope a latent sensibility the courage either to indulge or to avow. where none was suspected to exist. In all -Such, also, was the feeling which dictated men, indeed without exception, whether the meráorable precept of La Bruyere, of their natural sensibility be strong or weak, it which I will not impair the force by 'atis by such habits of attention alone to the tempting a translation : "Quand une lecture finer feelings of their own minds, that the vous éléve l'esprit, et qu'elle vous inspire power of taste can acquire all the delicacy des sentimens nobles et courageux, ne clier. of which it is susceptible.

chez pas une autre regle pour juger de “ While this cultivated scnsibility enlarges l'ouvrage; il est bon, et fait de nuain de 30 widely to the man who possesses it ilie l'ouvrler.'—How different both sentiments pleasures of taste, it has a tendency, wher- from that fastidiousness of taste, by an af. ever it is gratified and delighted in a high fectation of which, it is usual for little minds degree, lo avert bis critical eye from ble- to court the reputation of superior refinemishes and iníper fections ;—not because lie ment! is unable to rentark them, but because he In producing, however, this fastidiouscan appreciate the merits by which they are ness, whether affected or real, various moral redeemed, and loves to enjoy the beauties causes such as jealousy, rivalship, personal in which they are lost. A taste thus awake dislike, or the spleen of conscious inferiority to the beautiful, seizes eagerly on every —may conspire with the intellectual defects touch of genius with the sympathy of kin which have been mentioned i nay, the same dred affection; and in the secret conscious- moral causes may be conceived to be so ness of a congenial inspiration, shares, in powerful in their influence, as to produce some measure, the triumph of the artist. this unfortunate effect, in spite of every inThe faults which have escaped him, it views tellectual gift which nature and education with the partiality of friendship; and wil- can bestow. It is observed by Shenstone, lingly abandonis thie censorial office to those that good taste and and good-nature are who exult in the errors of superior minds, as inseparably united; and although the obtheir appropriate and easy prey.

servation is by no means true, when ibus “ Nor is this indulgent spirit towards the stated as an unqualified proposition, it will works of others, at all inconsistent with the be found to have a sufficient foundation in most rigid severity in an author towards his fact, to deserve the attention of those who own. On the coutrary, both are the natural have a pleasare in studying the varieties of consequences of that discriminating power human character. One thing is certain, that of taste, on which I have already enlarged as an habitual deficiency in good humour is as one of its most important characteristics. sufficient to warp the decisions of the Where men of little discernment attend soundest taste, so the taste of an individual, only to general effects, confounding beauties in proportion as it appears to be free from and blemishes, flowers and weeds, in one capricious biasses, affords a strong presump. gross and undistinguishing perception, a tien that the temper is unsuspicious, open, man of quick sensibility and cultivated judg- and generous. As the habits besides which ment, detaches, in a moment, the one from contribute spontaneously to the formation of the other; rejects, in imagination, whatever taste, all originate in the desire of intellecis offensive in the prospect; and enjoys, tual gratification, this power, where it is poswithout alloy, whatever is fitted to please. séssed in an eminent degree, may be reHis taste, in the mean time, is refined and garded as a symptom of that general dispn. confirmed by the exercise: and, while it sition to be pleased and happy, in which the multiplies the sources of bis gratification, in essence of good-nature consists. In those proportion to the latent charms which it de- veral seasons of the year' (says Milton in tccts, becomes itself, as the arbiter and one of the finest sentences of his prose guide of his own genius, more scrupulous writings), “wlien the air is soft and pleasant, and inflexible than before.

it were an injury and sullenness against na“• The tragedy of Douglas' (says Gray, ture, not to go out and see her riches, and in one of his letters) • has infinite faults ; partake of lier rejoicings with heaven and but there is one scene (that between Matilda earth. Such is the temper of mind, by and the old peasant) so masterly, that it which, in our early years, those habits whicle strikes me blind to all the defects of the form the ground-work of taste are most likely piece.' These, I apprehend, are the natural to be formed; and such precisely is the impressions of genuine taste in pronouncing lemper whichi, in our intercourse with our

4 R2


year after

fellow-creatures, dispuses us, both for their old age is only the consequence of sakes and for our own, to view their actions inactivity. We feel a little embarand characters on the tairest side. I need

rassed with this question. There is scarcely ald, in conärmation of some re

a great deal of very plausible reamarks formerly made, that the same temper, when transferred trom the observation of na

soning, which may be urged in fa

• Mr. Stewart's opinion ; but ture to the study of the fine arts, can scarcely fail to incline the taste more strongly to

we could marsball a melancholy arthe side of admiration than of censure.” pp. ray of facts in opposition to it. The 481-488.

truth seenis to be, that there is no.

thing in ihe constitution of our paThere is a great deal of moral in

ture which prevents the imagination struction, as well as of just critical from acquiring force observation, contained in the pas. year, in proportion to the activity sages wh ch we have here extracted. with which it is exerted, and the Reviewers perhaps, of all men, accuniulation of ricbes which may need most to be reminded of the minister to its expense. But, in a intimate union which exists be- busy community certainly, and tween good laste and good-nature. perhaps in every stale of society, We hope to be able to recollect the habits of life are so exceedingly this truih ourselves; and we ear- unfavourable to the improvement of nestly recommend it to the autention the more elevated and creative faof all other journalists.

culties of the mind, that the ordi. Mr. Stewart's fourth Essay, on " the Culture of certain intellectual though resting upon an unphiloso,

nary opinion upon the subject, Habits connected with the first Ele.

phical foundation, is, for practical ments of Taste,” though consider

purposes, sufficienıly correct. Some, ably shorter than those which pre however, there are in every age, cede it, is by no means less valua

who triumph over the obstacles ble in proportion to lis length; but which our present imperfect conthis article has already grown to a dition opposes to the improvement size, which makes it impossible for of our intellectual powers; and us to enter into a full examination where the principles of our nature, of its contenis. Two opinions, hown and the esamples of its best palever, which are here advanced, well terns, concur to shew, that the disdeserved to be mentioned. Mr. Stewart insists, at some length, that contend are not insuperable, surely

advantages with which we have to the powers of the imagination, in- it is both wise and manly to exert stead of diminishing while we ad

our best energies 10 overcome vance in life, become stronger and them. stronger as the judgment improves,

The other opinion to which we and as our knowledge becomes more

bave alluded is so original, and so extensive. Sir Joshua Reynolds exceedingly important, with a view has in like manner ridiculed, as a

to ibe education of young persons, contemprible prejudice, the com

that we shall make no apology for mon idea, that " imagination be

giving it in Mr. Stewart's own gins to grow dim in advanced age, words. It occupies the iwo last smothered and deadened by 100


of his work. much judgment." And Dr. Johnson, in his preface to Shakspeare,

Imagination herself furnishes the most

effectual of all remedies against those errors has expressed an opinion in sub.

which she was in the first instance the stance exceedingly similar. These

cause.' In proportion to the number and diauthorities are great, and the theory versity of the objects to which she turns her which they maintain is exceedingly attention, the dangers are diminished which pleasing Cicero ventures are apt to arise from her illusions when they further, insisting in the person of are suffered always to mn in the same Cato, ihat the decay of memory in channel; and in this manner, while the


« EdellinenJatka »