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employ. In reality, the subject requires a in it. The use of such inquiries may be very much closer attention, than we dare claim from considerable. Whatever turns the soul inward our manner of treating it.
on itself, tends to concenter its forces, and to fit If it should not appear on the face of the it for greater and stronger flights of science. work, I must caution the reader against ima- By looking into physical causes, our minds gining that I intended a full dissertation on are opened and enlarged ; and in this pursuit, the Sublime and Beautiful. My inquiry went whether we take or whether we lose our game, no farther than to the origin of these ideas. the chace is certainly of service. Cicero, true If the qualities which I have ranged under as he was to the academic philosophy, and the head of the Sublime be all found consistent consequently led to reject the certainty of with each other, and all different from those physical, as of every other kind of knowledge, which I place under the head of beauty; and yet freely confesses its great importance to the if those which compose the class of the Beau- human understanding; " Est animorum ingetiful have the same consistency with them- niorumque nostrorum nuturale quod dam quasi selves, and the same opposition to those which pabulum consideratio contemplatioque natura.” are classed under the denomination of Sublime, if we can direct the lights we derive from I am in little pain whether any body chooses to such exalted speculations, upon the humbler follow the name I give them or not, provided field of the imagination, whilst we investigate he allows that what I dispose under different the springs, and trace the courses of our pasheads are in reality different things in nature. sions, we may not only communicate to the The use I make of the words may be blamed, taste a sort of philosophical solidity, but we as too confined or too extended; my meaning may reflect back on the severer sciences some cannot well be misunderstood.
of the graces and elegancies of taste, without To conclude ; whatever progress may be which the greatest proficiency in those sciences made towards the discovery of truth in this will always have the appearance of something matter, I do not repent the pains I have taken illiberal.
On a superficial view, we may seem to dif- the imagination is not affected according to fer very widely from each other in our reason- some invariable and certain laws, our labour is ings, and no less in our pleasures: but, not- like to be employed to very little purpose ; as it withstanding this difference, which I think to must be judged an useless, if not an absurd be rather apparent than real, it is probable that undertaking, to lay down rules for caprice, and the standard both of reason and taste is the to set up for a legislator of whims and fancies. same in all human creatures. For if there The term taste, like all other figurative were not some principles of judgment as well terms, is not extremely accurate ; the thing as of sentiment common to all mankind, no which we understand by it, is far from a simple hold could possibly be taken either on their and determinate idea in the minds of most reason or their passions, sufficient to maintain men, and it is therefore liable to uncertainty the ordinary correspondence of life. It ap- and confusion. I have no great opinion of a pears indeed to be generally acknowledged, definition, the celebrated remedy for the cure that with regard to truth and falsehood there is of this disorder. For when we define, we something fixed. We find people in their dis- seem in danger of circumscribing nature with putes continually appealing to certain tests and in the bounds of our own notions, which we standards, which are allowed on all sides, and often take up by hazard, or embrace on trist, are supposed to be established in our common or form out of a limited and partial consideranature. But there is not the same obvious tion of the object before us, instead of extendconcurrence in any uniform or settled princi- ing our ideas to take in all that nature compreples which relate to taste. It is even common- hends, according to her manner of combining. ly supposed that this delicate and aèrial faculty, We are limited in our inquiry by the strict which seems too volatile to endure even the laws to which we have submitted at our setting chains of a definition, cannot be properly tried out. by any test, nor regulated by any standard.
Circa vilem patulumque morabimur There is so continual a call for the exercise of orbem, the reasoning faculty, and it is so much strength- Unde pudor proferre pedem vetat aut operis
lex. ened by perpetual contention, that certain maxims of right reason seem to be tacitly settled A definition may be very exact, and yet go among the most ignorant. The learned have but a very little way towards informing as of improved on this rude science, and reduced the nature of the thing defined; but let the virthose maxims into a system. If taste has not tue of a definition be what it will, in the order been so happily cultivated, it was not that the of things, it seems rather to follow than to presubject was barren, but that the labourers were cede our inquiry, of which it ought to be consifew or negligent; for, to say the truth, there dered as the result. It must be acknowledged are not the same interesting motives to impel that the methods of disquisition and teachus to fix the one, which urge us to ascertain ing may be sometimes different, and on very the other. And after all, if men differ in their good reason undoubtedly; but for my part, I opinion concerning such matters, their differ- am convinced that the method of teaching ence is not attended with the same important which approaches most nearly to the method of consequences; else I make no doubt but that investigation, is incomparably the best ; since, the logic of taste, if I may be allowed the ex- not content with serving up a few barren and pression, might very possibly be as well digest- lifeless truths, it leads to the stock on which ed, and we might come to discuss matters of they grew; it tends to set the reader himself this nature with as much certainty, as those in the track of invention, and to direct him which seem more immediately within the pro- into those paths in which the author has made vince of mere reason. And indeed, it is very his own discoveries, if he should be so happy necessary, at the entrance into such an inquiry as to have made any that are valuable. as our present, to make this point as clear as But to cut off all pretence for cavilling, I possible ; for if taste has no fixed principles, if mean by the word Taste no more than that
faculty or those faculties of the mind, which regard to pleasure and pain. They all concur are affected with, or which form a judgment of, in calling sweetness pleasant, and sourness and the works of imagination and the elegant arts. bitterness unpleasant. Here there is no diverThis is, I think, the most general idea of that sity in their sentiments; and that there is not, word, and what is the least connected with any appears fully from the consent of all men in the particular theory. And my point in this inquiry metaphors which are taken from the sense of is, to find whether there are any principles, taste. A sour temper, bitter expressions, biton which the imagination is affected, so com- ter curses, a bitter fate, are terms well and mon to all, so grounded and certain, as to sup- strongly understood by all. And we are altoply the means of reasoning satisfactorily about gether as well understood when we say, a them. And such principles of taste I fancy sweet disposition, a sweet person, a sweet there are; however paradoxical it may seem condition, and the like. It is confessed, that to those, who on a superficial view imagine, custom and some other causes, have made that there is so great a diversity of tastes, both many deviations from the natural pleasures or in kind and degree, that nothing can be more pains which belong to these several tastes ; indeterminate.
but then the power of distinguishing between All the natural powers in man, which I the natural and the acquired relish remains to know, that are conversant about external ob- the very last. A man frequently comes to prejects, are the senses; the imagination; and fer the taste of tobacco to that of sugar, and the judgment. And first with regard to the the flavour of vinegar to that of milk; but this senses. We do and we must suppose, that as makes no confusion in tastes, whilst he is the conformation of their organs are nearly or sensible that the tobacco and vinegar are not altogether the same in all men, so the manner sweet, and whilst he knows that habit alone of perceiving external objects is in all men the has reconciled his palate to these alien pleasame, or with little difference. We are satis
Even with such a person we may fied that what appears to be light to one eye, speak, and with sufficient precision, concernappears light to another; that what seems ing tastes. But should any man be found who sweet to one palate, is sweet to another; that declares, that to him tobacco has a taste like what is dark and bitter to this man, is likewise sugar, and that he cannot distinguish between dark and bitter to that; and we conclude in milk and vinegar; or that tobacco and vinegar the same manner of great and little, hard and are sweet, milk bitter, and sugar sour; we imsoft, hot and cold, rough and smooth; and in- inediately conclude tha the organs of this man deed of all the natural qualities and affections are out of order, and that his palate is utterly of bodies. If we suffer ourselves to imagine, vitiated. We are as far from conferring with that their senses present to different men dif- such a person upon tastes, as from reasoning ferent images of things, this sceptical proceed- concerning the relations of quantity with one ing will make every sort of reasoning on every who should deny that all the parts together subject vain and frivolous, even that sceptical were equal to the whole. We do not call a reasoning itself which had persuaded us to man of this kind wrong in his notions, but abentertain a doubt concerning the agreement of solutely mad. Exceptions of this sort, in our perceptions. But as there will be little either way, do not at all impeach our general doubt that bodies present similar images to the rule, nor make us conclude that men have vawhole species, it must necessarily be allowed, rious principles concerning the relations of that the pleasures and the pains which every quantity or the taste of things. So that when object cxcites in one man, it must raise in all it is said, taste cannot be disputed, it can only mankind, whilst it operates, naturally, simply, mean, that no one can strictly answer what and by its proper powers only; for if we deny pleasure or pain some particular man may find this, we must imagine that the same cause from the taste of some particular thing. This operating in the same manner, and on subjects indeed cannot be disputed; but we may disof the same kind, will produce different effects, pute, and with sufficient clearness too, conwhich would be highly absurd. Let us first cerning the things which are naturally pleasconsider this point in the sense of taste, and ing or disagreeable to the sense. But when the rather as the faculty in question has taken we talk of any peculiar or acquired relish, then its name from that sense. All men are agreed we must know the habits, the prejudices, or to call vinegar sour, honey sweet, and aloes the distempers of this particular man, and we bitter; and as they are all agreed in finding must draw our conclusion from those. these qualities in those objects, they do not in This agreement of mankind is not confined the least differ concerning their effects with to the taste solely. The principle of pleasure
derived from sight is the same in all. Light is regulate their feelings and opinions by it. more pleasing than darkness. Summer, when Suppose one who had so vitiated his palate as the earth is clad in green, when the heavens to take more pleasure in the taste of opium are serene and bright, is more agreeable than than in that of butter or honey, to be presentwinter, when every thing makes a differented with a bolus of squills; there
hardly any appearance. I never remember that any thing doubt but that he would prefer the butter or beautiful, whether a man, a beast, a bird, or a honey to this nauseous morsel, or to any other plant, was ever shewn, though it were to an bitter drug to which he had not been accushundred people, that they did not all immedi- tomed; which proves that his palate was naately agree that it was beautiful, though some turally like that of other men in all things, that might have thought that it fell short of their it is still like the palate of other men in many expectation, or that other things were still things, and only vitiated in some particular finer. I believe no man thinks a goose to be points. For in judging of any new thing, more beautiful than a swan, or imagines that even of a taste similar to that which he has what they call a Friezland hen excels a pea- been formed by habit to like, he finds his palate cock. It must be observed too, that the plea- affected in the natural manner, and on the sures of the sight are not near so complicated, common principles. Thus the pleasure of all and confused, and altered by unnatural habits the senses, of the sight, and even of the taste, and associations, as the pleasures of the taste that most ambiguous of the senses, is the are; because the pleasures of the sight more same in all, high and low, learned and uncommonly acquiesce in themselves; and are learned. not so often altered by considerations which Besides the ideas, with their annexed pains are independent of the sight itself. But things and pleasures, which are presented by the do not spontaneously present themseves to the sense ; the mind of man possesses a sort of crepalate as they do to the sight; they are gene- ative power of its own; either in representing rally applied to it, either as food or as medi- at pleasure the images of things in the order cine; and from the qualities which they pos- and manner in which they were received by sess for nutritive or medicinal purposes, they the senses, or in combining those images in a often form the palate by degrees, and by force new manner, and according to a different of these associations. Thus opium is pleas- order. This power is called imagination; and ing to Turks, on account of the agreeable de to this belongs whatever is called wit, fancy, lirium it produces. Tobacco is the delight of invention, and the like. But it must be obDutchmen, as it diffuses a torpor and pleasing served, that this power of the imagination is stupefaction. Fermented spirits please our incapable of producing any thing absolutely common people, because they banish care, and new; it can only vary the disposition of those all consideration of future or present evils. ideas which it has received from the senses. All of these would lie absolutely neglected if Now the imagination is the most extensive their properties had originally gone no further province of pleasure and pain, as it is the rethan the taste ; but all these, together with tea gion of our fears and our hopes, and of all our and coffee, and some other things, have passed passions that are connected with them; and from the apothecary's shop to our tables, and whatever is calculated to affect the imaginawere taken for health long before they were tion with these commanding ideas, by force of thought of for pleasure. The effect of the any original natural impression, must have the drug has niade us use it frequently; and fre- same power pretty equally over all men. For quent use, combined with the agreeable effect, since the imagination is only the representahas made the taste itself at last agreeable. tion of the senses, it can only be pleased or But this does not in the least perplex our rea- displeased with the images, from the same soning; because we distinguish to the last the principle on which the sense is pleased or disacquired from the natural relish. In descri- pleased with the realities; and consequently bing the taste of an unknown fruit, you would there must be just as close an agreement in the scarcely say that it had a sweet and pleasant imaginations as in the senses of men. A litflavour like tobacco, opium, or garlic, although tle attention will convince us that this must of you spoke to those who were in the constant necessity be the case. use of these drugs, and had great pleasure in But in the imagination, besides the pain or them. There is in all men a sufficient re- pleasure arising from the properties of the membrance of the original natural causes of natural object, a pleasure is perceived from pleasure, to enable them to bring all things of the resemblance, which the imitation has to fered to their senses to that standard, and to the original: the imagination, I conceive, can
have no pleasure but what results from one or their knowledge of the things represented or other of these causes. And these causes ope- compared extends. The principle of this rate pretty uniformly upon all men, because knowledge is very much accidental, as it dethey operate by principles in nature, and which pends upon experience and observation, and are not derived from any particular habits or not on the strength or weakness of any natural advantages. Mr. Locke very justly and finely faculty; and it is from this difference in knowobserves of wit, that it is chiefly conver- ledge, that what we commonly, though with no sant in tracing resemblances : he remarks great exactness, call a difference in taste proat the same time, that the business of judg- ceeds. A man to whom sculpture is new, sees ment is rather in finding differences. It may a barber's block, or some ordinary piece of staperhaps appear, on this supposition, that tuary; he is immediately struck and pleased, there is no material distinction between the wil because he sees something like an human and the judgment, as they both seem to result figure ; and, entirely taken up with this likefrom different operations of the same faculty ness, he does not at all attend to its defects. of comparing. But in reality, whether they No person, I believe, at the first time of seeing are or are not dependant on the same power of a piece of imitation ever did. Some time the mind, they differ so very materially in many after, we suppose that this novice lights upon a respects, that a perfect union of wit and judg- more artificial work of the same nature; he ment is one of the rarest things in the world. now begins to look with contempt on what he When two distinct objects are unlike to each admired at first; not that he admired it even other, it is only what we expect ; things are in then for its unlikeness to a man, but for that their common way; and therefore they make general though inaccurate resemblance which no impression on the imagination: but when it bore to the human figure. What he admired two distinct objects have a resemblance, we are at different times in these so different figures, is struck, we attend to them, and we are pleased. strictly the same ; and though his knowledge is The mind of man has naturally a far greater improved, his taste is not altered. Hitherto his alacrity and satisfaction in tracing resemblances mistake was from a want of knowledge in art, than in searching for differences: because by and this arose from his inexperience; but he making resemblances we produce new images; may be still deficient from a want of knowledge we unite, we create, we enlarge our stock; but in nature. For it is possible that the man in in making distinctions we offer no food at all to question may stop here, and that the masterthe imagination; the task itself is more severe piece of a great hand may please him no more and irksome, and what pleasure we derive from than the middling performance of a vulgar it is something of a negative and indirect nature. artist; and this not for want of better or higher A piece of news is told me in the morning; relish, but because all men do not observe with this, merely as a piece of news, as a fact added sufficient accuracy on the human figure to ento my stock, gives me some pleasure. In the able them to judge properly of an imitation of it. evening I find there was nothing in it. What And that the critical taste does not depend do I gain by this, but the dissatisfaction to find upon a superiour principle in men, but upon that I have been imposed upon ? Hence it is superiour knowledge, may appear from several that men are much more naturally inclined to instances. The story of the antient painter belief than to incredulity. And it is upon this and the shoemaker is very well known. The principle, that the most ignorant and barbarous shoemaker set the painter right with regard to nations have frequently excelled in similitudes, sonie mistakes he had made in the shoe of one comparisons, metaphors, and allegories, who of his figures, and which the painter, who had have been weak and backward in distinguish- not made such accurate observations on shoes, ing and sorting their ideas. And it is for a and was content with a general resemblance, reason of this kind, that Homer and the orien- had never observed. But this was no impeachtal writers, though very fond of similitudes, and ment to the taste of the painter ; it only shewthough they often strike out such as are truly ed some want of knowledge in the art of admirable, seldom take care to have them making shoes. Let us imagine, that an anatoexact; that is, they are taken with the general mist had come into the painter's working-room, resemblance, they paint it strongly, and they His piece is in general well done, the figure in take no notice of the difference which may be question in a good attitude, and the parts well found between the things compared.
adjusted to their various movements; yet the Now, as the pleasure of resemblance is that anatomist, critical in his art, may observe the which principally flatters the imagination, all swell of some muscle not quite just in the pemen are nearly equal in this point, as far as culiar action of the figure. Here the anato