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mist observes what the painter had not observe the coast of Bohemia : wholly taken up with ed; and he passes by what the shoemaker had so interesting an event, and only solicitous for remarked. But a want of the last critical the fate of his hero, he is not in the least knowledge in anatomy no more reflected on the troubled at this extravagant blunder. For why natural good taste of the painter, or of any should he be shocked at a shipwreck on the common observer of his piece, than the want coast of Bohemia, who does not know but that of an exact knowledge in the formation of a Bohemia may be an island in the Atlantic shoe. A fine piece of a decollated head of St. ocean? and after all, what reflection is this on John the Baptist was shewn to a Turkish em- the natural good taste of the person here perour; he praised many things, but he observed supposed ? one defect; he observed that the skin did not So far then as taste belongs to the imaginashrink from the wounded part of the neck. tion, its principle is the same in all men ; there The sultan on this occasion, though his obser- is no difference in the manner of their being vation was very just, discovered no more na- affected, nor in the causes of the affection ; tural taste than the painter who executed this but in the degree there is a difference, which piece, or than a thousand European connois- arises from two causes principally; either from seurs, who probably never would have made a greater degree of natural sensibility, or from the same observation. His Turkish majesty a closer and longer attention to the object. To had indeed been well acquainted with that ter- illustrate this by the procedure of the senses, rible spectacle, which the others could only in which the same difference is found, let us have represented in their imagination. On suppose a very smooth marble table to be set the subject of their dislike there is a difference before two men; they both perceive it to be between all these people, arising from the dif- smooth, and they are both pleased with it beferent kinds and degrees of their knowledge; cause of this quality. So far they agree. But but there is something in common to the pain- suppose another, and after that another table, ter, the shoemaker, the anatomist, and the Tur- the latter still smoother than the former, to be kish emperour, the pleasure arising from a na- set before them. It is now very probable that tural object, so far as each perceives it juslty these men, who are so agreed upon what is imitated; the satisfaction in seeing an agree- smooth, and in the pleasure from thence, will able figure ; the sympathy proceeding from a disagree when they come to settle which table striking and affecting incident. So far as taste has the advantage in point of polish. Here is is natural, it is nearly common to all.
indeed the great difference between tastes, In poetry, and other pieces of imagination, when men come to compare the excess or dimithe same parity may be observed. It is true, nution of things which are judged by degree that one man is charmed with Don Bellianis, and not by measure. Nor is it easy, when and reads Virgil coldly: whilst another is such a difference arises, to settle the point, if transported with the Eneid, and leaves Don the excess or diminution be not glaring. If we Bellianis to children. These two men seem differ in opinion about two quantities, we can to have a taste very different from each other; have recourse to a common measure, which but in fact they differ very little. In both these may decide the question with the utmost expieces, which inspire such opposite sentiments, actness; and this, I take it, is what gives a tale exciting admiration is told ; both are full mathematical knowledge a greater certainty of action, both are passionate; in both are voy- than any other. But in things whose excess is ages, batiles, triumphs, and continual changes not judged by greater or smaller, as smoothness of fortune. The admirer of Don Bellianis and roughness, hardness and softness, darkness perhaps does not understand the refined lan- and light, the shades of colours, all these are guage of the Eneid, who, if it was degraded very easily distinguished when the difference into the style of the Pilgrim's Progress, might is any way considerable, but not when it is feel it in all its energy, on the same principle minute, for want of some common measures, which made him an admirer of Don Bellianis. which perhaps may never come to be dis
In his favourite author he is not shocked covered. In these nice cases, supposing the with the continual breaches of probability, acuteness of the sense equal, the greater the confusion of times, the offences against attention and habit in such things will have the manners, the trampling upon geography; for advantage. In the question about the tables, he knows nothing of geography and chronology, the marble-polisher will unquestionably deand he has never examined the grounds of pro- termine the most accurately. But notwithbability. He perhaps reads of a shipwreck on standing this want of a common measure for
settling many disputes relative to the senses, therefore there is a sufficient foundation for a and their representative the imagination, we conclusive reasoning on these matters. find that the principles are the same in all, and Whilst we consider taste merely according that there is no disagreement until we come to to its nature and species, we shall find its prinexamine into the pre-eminence or difference of ciples entirely uniform ; but the degree in things, which brings us within the province of which these principles prevail, in the several the judgment.
individuals of mankind, is altogether as differSo long as we are conversant with the sen- ent as the principles themselves are similar. sible qualities of things, hardly any more than For sensibility and judgment, which are the the imagination seems concerned ; little more qualities that compose what we commonly call also than the imagination seems concerned a taste, vary exceedingly in various people. when the passions are represented, because by From a defect in the former of these qualities, the force of natural sympathy they are felt in arises a want of taste ; a weakness in the latall men without any recourse to reasoning, and ter, constitutes a wrong or a bad one. There their justness recognised in every breast. Love, are some men formed with feelings so blunt, grief, fear, anger, joy, all these passions have with tempers so cold and phlegmatic, that they in their turns affected every mind; and they do can hardly be said to be awake during the not affect it in an arbitrary or casual manner, whole course of their lives. Upon such perbut upon certain, natural, and uniform prin- sons the most striking objects make but a faint ciples. But as many of the works of imagi- and obscure impression. There are others so nation are not confined to the representation of continually in the agitation of gross and merely sensible objects, nor to efforts upon the passions, sensual pleasures, or so occupied in the low but extend themselves to the manners, the cha- drudgery of avarice, or so heated in the chace racters, the actions, and designs of men, their of honours and distinction, that their minds, relations, their virtues and vices, they come which had been used continually to the storms within the province of the judgment, which is of these violent and tempestuous passions, can improved by attention and by the habit of hardly be put in motion by the delicate and rereasoning. All these make a very consider. fined play of the imagination. These mnen, able part of what are considered as the ob- though from a different cause, become as stupid jects of taste; and Horace sends us to the and insensible as the former ; but whenever schools of philosophy and the world for our either of these happen to be struck with any instruction in them. Whatever certainty is natural eleganc or greatness, or with these to be acquired in morality and the science of qualities in any work of art, they are moved life; just the same degree of certainty have we upon the same principle. in what relates to them in the works of imita- The cause of a wrong taste is a defect of tion. Indeed it is for the most part in our skill judgment. And this may arise from a natural in manners, and in the observances of time and weakness of understanding, (in whatever the place, and of decency in general, which is strength of that faculty may consist,) or, which only to be learned in those schools, to which is much more commonly the case, it may arise Horace recommends us, that what is called from a want of proper and well-directed exertaste, by way of distinction, consists ; and cise, which alone can make it strong and ready. which is in reality no other than a more refined Besides that ignorance, inattention, prejudice, judgment. On the whole, it appears to me, rashness, levity, obstinacy, in short, all those that what is called taste, in its most general passions, and all those vices, which pervert the acceptation, is not a simple idea, but is partly judgment in other matters, prejudice it no less made up of a perception of the primary plea- in this its more refined and elegant province. sures of sense, of the secondary pleasures of These causes produce different opinions upon the imagination, and of the conclusions of the every thing which is an object of the underreasoning faculty, concerning the various rela- standing, without inducing us to suppose that tions of these, and concerning the human there are no settled principles of reason. And passions, manners, and actions. All this is indeed on the whole one may observe, that requisite to form taste, and the ground-work of there is rather less difference upon matters of all these is the same in the human mind; for as taste among mankind, than upon most of those the senses are the great originals of all our ideas, which depend upon the naked reason ; and and consequently of all our pleasures, if they that men are far better agreed on the excellence are not uncertain and arbitrary, the whole of a description in Virgil, than on the truth or ground-work of taste is common to all, and falsehood of a theory of Aristotle.
A rectitude of judgment in the arts, which those minds. The most powerful effects of may be called a good taste, does in a great poetry and music have been displayed, and measure depend upon sensibility ; because if perhaps are still displayed, where these arts the mind has no bent to the pleasures of the are but in a very low and imperfect state. The imagination, it will never apply itself suffi- rude hearer is affected by the principles which ciently to works of that species to acquire a operate in these arts even in their rudest concompetent knowledge in them. But, though dition ; and he is not skilful enough to perceive a degree of sensibility is requisite to form a the defects. But as arts advance towards their good judgment, yet a good judgment does not perfection, the science of criticism advances necessarily arise from a quick sensibility of with equal pace, and the pleasure of judges is pleasure ; it frequently happens that a very poor frequently interrupted by the faults which are judge, merely by force of a greater complexional discovered in the most finished compositions. sensibility, is more affected by a very poor piece, Before I leave this subject, I cannot help than the best judge by the most perfect ; for as taking notice of an opinion which many perevery thing new, extraordinary, grand, or pas- sons entertain, as if the taste were a separate sionate, is well calculated to affect such a per- faculty of the mind, and distinct from the judgson, and that the faults do not affect him, his ment and imagination ; a species of instinct
, by pleasure is more pure and unmixed ; and as it is which we are struck naturally, and at the first merely a pleasure of the imagination, it is much glance, without any previous reasoning, with higher than any which is derived from a recti- the excellencies, or the defects of a composition. tude of the judgment; the judgment is for the So far as the imagination and the passions are greater part employed in throwing stumbling- concerned, I believe it true, that the reason is blocks in the way of the imagination, in dis- little consulted; but where disposition, where sipating the scenes of its enchantment, and in decorum, where congruity are concerned, in tying us down to the disagreeable yoke of our short, wherever the best taste differs from the reason: for almost the only pleasure that we have worst, I am convinced that the understanding in judging better than others, consists in a sort operates and nothing else : and its operation is of conscious pride and superiority, which arises in reality far from being always sudden, or, from thinking rightly; but then, this is an indi- when it is sudden, it is often far from being rect pleasure, a pleasure which does not imme- right. Men of the best taste by consideration diately result from the object which is under come frequently to change these early and contemplation. In the morning of our days, precipitate judgments, which the mind, from when the senses are unworn and tender, when its aversion to neutrality and doubt loves to the whole man is awake in every part, and the form on the spot. It is known that the taste gloss of novelty fresh upon all the objects that (whatever it is) is improved exactly as we imsurround us, how lively at that time are our prove our judgment, by extending our knowsensations, but how false and inaccurate the ledge, by a steady attention to our object, and judgments we form of things ? I despair of ever by frequent exercise. They who have not receiving the same degree of pleasure from the taken these methods, if their taste decides most excellent performances of genius, which I quickly, it is always uncertainly; and their felt at that age from pieces which my present quickness is owing to their presumption and judgment regards as trifling and contemptible. rashness, and not to any hidden irradiation that Every trivial cause of pleasure is apt to affect in a moment dispels all darkness from their the man of too sanguine a complexion : his ap- minds. But they who have cultivated that petite is too keen to suffer his taste to be deli- species of knowledge which makes the object cate; and he is in all respects what Ovid says of taste, by degrees and habitually attain not of himself in love,
only a soundness, but a readiness of judgment,
as men do by the same methods on all other Molle meum levibus cor est violabile telis, occasions. At first they are obliged to spell, Et semper causa est, cur ego semper amem. but at last they read with ease and with ce
lerity, but this celerity of its operation is no One of this character can never be a refined proof, that the taste is a distinct faculty. No julge; never what the comic poet calls elegans body, I believe, has attended the course of a formarum spectator. The excellence and force discussion, which turned upon matters within of a composition must always be imperfectly the sphere of mere naked reason, but must havo estimated from its effect on the minds of any, observed the extreme readiness with which the except we know the temper and character of whole process of the argument is carried on, the grounds discovered, the objections raised This matter might be pursued much farand answered and the conclusions drawn from ther; but it is not the extent of the subject premises, with a quickness altogether as great which must prescribe our bounds, for what as the taste can be supposed to work with ; subject does not branch out to infinity ? it and yet where nothing but plain reason either is is the nature of our particular scheme, and or can be suspected to operate. To multiply the single point of view in which we conprinciples for every different appearance, is use- sider it, which ought to put a stop to our reless, and unphilosophical too in a high degree. searches.
ORIGIN OF OUR IDEAS OF THE SUBLIME AND BEAUTIFUL.
PART I.-SECTION I.
liarity. Some degree of novelty must be one
of the materials in every instrument which NOVELTY.
works upon the mind; and curiosity blends
itself more or less with all our passions. The first and the simplest emotion which we discover in the human mind, is Curiosity. By curiosity I mean whatever desire we have for, or whatever pleasure we take in, novelty. We
SECTION II. see children perpetually running from place to place to hunt out something new: they catch
PAIN AND PLEASURE. with great eagerness, and with very little choice, at whatever comes before them; their It seems then necessary towards moving the attention is engaged by every thing, because passions of people advanced in life to any conevery thing has, in that stage of life, the charm siderable degree, that the objects designed for of novelty to recommend it. But as those things that purpose, besides their being in some meawhich engage us merely by their novelty, cannot sure new, should be capable of exciting pain or attach us for any length of time, curiosity is the pleasure from other causes. Pain and pleasure most superficial of all the affections; it changes are simple ideas, incapable of definition. Peoits object perpetually; it has an appetite which ple are not liable to be mistaken in their feelings, is very sharp, but very easily satisfied ; and it but they are very frequently wrong in the names has always an appearance of giddiness, rest- they give them, and in their reasonings about lessness and anxiety. Curiosity, from its nature, them. Many are of opinion, that pain arises is a very active principle ; it quickly runs over necessarily from the removal of some pleasure; the greatest part of its objects, and soon ex- as they think pleasure does from the ceasing or hausts the variety which is commonly to be met diminution of some pain. For my part, I am with in nature; the same things make frequent rather inclined to imagine, that pain and pleareturns, and they return with less and less of sure, in their most simple and natural manner any agreeable effect. In short, the occurrences of affecting, are each of a positive nature, and of life, by the time we come to know it a little, by no means necessarily dependent on each would be incapable of affecting the mind with other for their existence. The human mind is any other sensations than those of loathing and often, and I think it is for the most part, in a weariness, if many things were not adapted to state neither of pain nor pleasure, which I call affect the mind by means of other powers be- a state of indifference. When I am carried sides novelty in them, and of other passions from this state into a state of actual pleasure, besides curiosity in ourselves. These powers it does not appear necessary that I should pass and passions shall be considered in their place. through the medium of any sort of pain. If in But whatever these powers are, or upon what such a state of indifference, or ease, or tranprinciple soever they affect the mind, it is quillity, or call it what you please, you were absolutely necessary that they should not be to be suddenly entertained with a concert of exerted in those things which a daily and vulgar music; or suppose some object of a fine shapo, use have brought into a stale unaffecting fami- and bright lively colours, to be presented before