beings; some things were made for before the mind the images of natu-
others; and it is a self-evident pro- ral things, it is evidently greatly in:
position, that “the end must be ferior, not only to original nature,
of greater value than its means.” but also to every graphical imita-
Hooker says that " stones are in dig- tion of her. Nor is it any reply to
nity of nature inferior to plants,” this to say, that the moral images
Without attempting to settle the which poetry commands are super-
rights of precedence between such added to its descriptive powers.
parties, there can be no dispute, that Moral images are unquestionably
what is in its nature moral and ever- associated also with scenery and
lasting must be of greater dignity landscapes. The difference is, that
than that which is only material in these, natural objects are present-
and transitory. The superior ex ed to the mind with great vividness,
cellence of the thing does not, and moral ideas only faintly ; in
indeed, necessarily prove that the poetry, moral ideas are powerfully
impression which the idea of it pro- pourtrayed, and sensible objects are
duces shall be more sublime ; but drawn but indistinctly.
it makes it, at the least, highly pro- To bring this question as closely
bable that it will be so. And many as may be to the test of experiment,
reasons concur for believing that let us take a passage, the effect of
the fact coincides perfectly with the which is as great as can well be con-
presumption. The most sublime of ceived of any uninspired production,
all ideas certainly is that of the and which unites in a peculiar man-
Deity ;-an idea which, to use the ner images of the highest natural
language of the same extraordinary and moral sublimity. Take the
writer whom we have before quoted*, celebrated description of Satan in
“ borrows splendour from all that is the first book of the Paradise Lost.
fair, subordinates to itself all that is

Thus far these beyond.
great, and sits enthroned upon the Compare of mortal prowess, yet observed
riches of the universe.” Now it is Their dread commander : he above the rest,
plain that the idea of God is entire. In shape and gesture proudly eminent,
ly composed of moral qualities; Stood like a tower: his form had not get lost
every material image being necessa- All her original brightness, nor appeared
rily excluded. It is plain too, that Less than archangel ruined, and th’ excess
as man matures in knowledge and Of glory obscured. As when the sun new

risen, virtue, ibe power which moral impressions possess will be continually Shoru of his beams, or from behind the

Looks through the horizontal misty air increasing ; a truth which is, or ought to be, practically experienced In dim eclipse disastrous twilight sheds by every man, as he advances in On half the nations, and with fear of change life. But physical objects possess Perplexes monarchis; darkened so, yet in the nature of things only a fixed shone value. The superiority of moral Above them all th’archangel : but his face over physical sublimnity may also, Deep scars of thuuder had entrenched, and we think, be satisfactorily interred from the powerful influence which Sat on his faded cheek, but under brows the higher sorts of poetry exercise Of dauntless courage and considerate pride upon the mind, compared with na

Waiting revenge. Cruel his eye, but cast tural scenery and painting. The The fellows of his crime, the followers rather,

Signs of remorse and passion to behold principal advantage of the former (Far other once beheld in bliss,) condemned consists in the facility it possesses of For ever now to have their lot in pain; presenting moral ideas to the ima- Millions of spirits for his crime amerced gination. In the power of placing of heaven, and from eternal splendours fung

For his revolt; yet faithful how they stood, • Mr. Hallo Sermon on the Effects of Their glory withered; as when leaven's Infidelity,




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Hath scathed, the forest oaks or mountain least, we are not disposed to enter pines,

the lists against him. We incline, With singed top their stately growth tlo' bare however, to think, that the expres. Stands on the blasted heath.

sion of the beautiful in the works of In this noble description, Milton nature is, if we may so speak, more has collected some of the most sub- characteristic and complete than the lime images which the sensible world expression of the sublime. The eye supplier ; --a tower; the sun new reposes with unwearied delight on risen; the sun in eclipse; and the the landscapes of Claude; but the oak and pine blasted with the light- sketches of Salvator owe much to ning. All these are thrown together the imagination of the beholder ;-a to swell the dignity of the scene ; fact of which that master was doubtand in the midst stands the awful less sensible, when he threw in the figure of the archangel bimself. wild farouche figures which appear Bui it is the figure of the archangel in his Alpine scenery, and which ** ruined;" and that single word is were evidently intended to assist the so powerful that it almost etfaces, fancy in her conception of what is alone, every other impression. The terrible. The explanation of this is moral sublimity of the ideas which probably to be found in the effect of accompany it; the despair, the cru- colours. It is a liule curious that elty, the feeling, the sufferings of Mr. Stewart, who seems disposed to Satan; the unshaken fidelity and contend for the superior eifect of the irrevocable misery of his followers; physical over the moral sublime, is altogeiber so great, that the natu- declares it to be his opinion that fe. ral inages, lofty as they are, seem nale beauty (which he describes to to us to borrow all their grandeur be “the master-piece of nature's from the associations which attend bandy work,”) owes its powers of them. We should have little fear enchantment rather to the moral asin trusting by far the largest portion sociations with which it is surroundof the more celebrated passages in ed by the young admirer, than to the great poets to the same experi- the charms of form and colour. mental rest.

We cannot leave this subject with Indeed, it appears to us to be far less out observing, that any theory requestionable whether that which is specting the beautiful which promorally sublime be essentially su- fesses to explain our agreeable perior to that which is naturally sub- impressions by the principle of asJime, than whether the rule which sociations alone, 'must be radically prevails in this instance hold true erroneous. It involves (as Mr. also with respect to the beautiful. It Stewarı has justly and acutely remay be doubted if there are not some marked) a manifest absurdity. Unforms of visible beauty so enchant- less some perceptions be supposed ing that no image of moral excel- which are originally pleasing, there lence would be capable of producing is nothing on which the associating at once an equal effect. Dr. Aken- principle can act. There can be no acside, however, does not admit even cumulation without a capital. Objects of this doubt ;

there are, then, undoubtedly, which Is aught so fair

derive their agreeable effect from the In all the dewy landscapes of the spring,

"organical adaptation of the human In the bright eye of Hesper or the Morn;

frame 19 the external universe." In nature's fairest forms is aught so fair, But we are disposed to contend for As vistuous friendship ; as the candid blush a great deal more than this. We Of bin whiu strives with foriune to be just; think there is a similar adaptation The graceful lear that streams for others' of truth to our intellectual faculties, woes;

and of virtue to our moral feelings. Or the mild majesty of private life?

We do not deny, nor for a moment The poet, perhaps, is right; at doubt, the disturbance and depravation of both, which our nature has manent than the body) whatever is suffered in the fall of our first pa. fatal to the former, is more truly rents. There is enough of obscurie contrary to his nature than those ty in the understanding, and of cor. things which assail only the latter:ruption in the heart, to overpower, a truth so momentous, and, in the without the special grace of God ex- opinion of Bishop Butler (surely no citing and aiding our own unremit- Diean judge), so manifest, that it. ting endeavours, whatever is good has been adopted by that profound and tending to perfection in eii her. writer as the simplest practical basis Yet surely it is true that the mind of all ethical science*. has naturally a thirst for knowledge; There are two other Essays in and that generosity, benerolence, this volume which still remain to be disinterestedness, fortiude, are be- considered. The first of these is held with general approbation. lo- upon Taste; the second on the Culo' dolence, or a love of pleasure, may ture of certain intellectual Habits. be so powerful as to prevent us from What is Taste? This is a ques. making a progress in the pursuit of tion which has a good deal divided truth. Selfishness, and the indul- the literary and philosophical world. gence of evil passions, will soon Dr. Blair defines it to be “a power choke up the springs of every good of receiving pleasure from the beauand noble affection. But unless we ties of nature and of art.” Dr. suppose some tendency towards per- Akenside expresses nearly the same section to be sull inherent in our idea in verse: nature, some traces of our original What,then is taste, but these internal powers, greatness, some lineaments of our

Active and strong, and feelingly alive divine origin, how shall we exTo each fine impulse. plain the preference which has been shewn in all ages for those According to both these writers, actions which tend to the general taste is nearly, or exactly, synoni. good, over those which have for their mous with sensibility. Mr. Burke object the advancement of an indic objected, long ago, to these and vidual? How shall we explain the similar definitions; and Mr. Stewart efforts made by so many wise and has satisfactorily shewn that they great men in ancient times, to dis- are erroneous. Taste and sensibi. perse the darkness around them, lity are certainly not conceived to and penetrate into that purer region, be synonimous terms in the common where they might contemplate the apprehensions of mankind. Seositrue images of God and virtue? bility is often possessed, even to exHow shall we explain that noble cess, by persons who are very deaphorism of the old philosophy, ficient in taste. And those exerthat “vice is more contrary to the cises which, from the constitution of nature of man, than pain, and sick. our nature, have a tendency rather ness, and death, and all the evils to impair the former, are continually which can besiege mortality?" Cer. enlarging and perfecting the latter. tainly it was not intended to assert

Mr. Stewart's account of this that man is, in the common sense of power is to the following effect. the words, naturally virtuous. The lo objects presented to the mind, whole world supplied but too sad an indefinite variety of circumand convincing evidence to the con- stances may concur in producing trary. What was intended must that agreeable impression to which evidently have been this, that virtue we give the name of Beauty. Yet is the proper perfection of man's the impression, as far as our conmoral nature; that vice is destruc- sciousness can judge of it, is simple tive of the soul, as disease and death and uncompounded. It is impossiare of the body; and that (the soul • See the Introduction to Butler's Sere being far more excellent and per- mons.

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ble, then, for the most acute sensi- and established in the natare of things bility, united with the greatest sa

There are certain and regular courses by gacity, to say, upon a single experi- which the imagination and the passions of ment, what are the circumstances in these causes is acquired by a laborious and

men are affected, and the knowledge of the supposed object to which we

diligent investigation of nature, and by the are chiefly indebted for the agreeable impression produced; what those, of cvery kind, however instantaneous its

same slow progress as wisdom or knowledge if any, that may be considered as

operations may appear when thu neutral; and what those which tend, quired." io diminish and injure the general effect. It is only by watching al

Perhaps the process by which tentively a great variety of experi, taste is originally formed, may be ments upon different things, that rendered more intelligible by conwe can arrive at that discriminating sidering how any one acquire's what knowledge which enables us to se

is called a perfect ear in music. parate, in every impression, those Suppose a concerto of Mozart, or of circumstances which have been fa- Corelli, to be performed: some navourable to the general result from tural sensibility to the beauty of those which have been injurious to musical sounds being supposed (as it it. This power of discrimination we

is found in fact to exist in a great call Taste. It supposes, of necessity, majority of instances), the general some sensibility to pleasure and impression which is made upon the pain; but it is formed to the perfec- hearer will be gratifying. But upon tion in which we see it often pos

a single experiment, probably no sessed, chiefly by diligence in mul- person, entirely unpractised in music


could tiplying, and accuracy in watching,

say more than that he receive those intellectual experiments from ed, on the whole, considerable pleawhence the materials, which inform sure. Suppose the same piece to be and exercise it, are supplied.

frequently repeated: he will perceive This account of the nature and that he receives different degrees of formation of taste, appears to us to pleasure, and pleasures also of difbe, in the main, sufficiently correct. It ferent kinds, from distinct parts of ought, however, to be accompanied

Let the same person with an observation, which is much hear a great variety of other musical 100 obvious to have escaped Mr. compositions; and if he is vigilant in Stewart's notice, but with which he observing his impressions, and comhas not expressly qualified his pares the parts of the several pieces theory. Although taste is originally least gratification, he will gradually

which afford him the greatest or the formed by a process, such as bas been described, yet, in a polite age, delicacy in perceiving the excel

acquire considerable correctness and a very large proportion of the prin- lencies and the blemishes of the raciples adopted by those who have cultivated it with the greatest suc

rious passages to which he listens. cess, are not derived from experi

Then comes the musical philosopher ments actually made, but are re

(Rameau would doubtless claim this ceived upon the authority of earlier dignity for his favourite science), masters, and, at the most, are only

and explains many of the causes of verified by the personal experience has experienced. He tells him, that


perceptions which the amateur of those who embrace them. nolds long since took of this subject, cords into the harmony; that in apThe view which Sir Joshua Rey- in such a part his ear was offended

by the introduction of too many disaccords very nearly with that which Mr. Stewart has more fully opened. other it was wearied by too mono

tonous a system of concords; that " The real substance" (he observes) " of here the cadences are finely mawhat goes under the name of Taste, is fixed naged (explaining the principle);

the piece.

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there the transition into a different and as it is favourable to mediocrity, key is too sudden; and he talks there is danger of its becoming very learnedly to him about sharp se- popular. It is proper, therefore, to venths and fundamental basses. If state, that the disadvantages to which the amateur has the fortune to have persons of great natural sensibility a tolerable head as well as an ears are said to be subjected in respect be understands a good deal of what of taste, is exactly of the same kind is taught to him, and finds that by with the difficulties which oppose the help of this new knowledge the perfection in every other departexperiments which he makes are ment. Persons who have been blessmuch more profitable than they had ed with fine parts are sometimes debeen; that is,' he observes many ficient in judgment; but it is not slight impressions which had before because they possess distinguished escaped him, and has a more perfect faculties, but because they abuse knowledge of those which he had them. All taste has its origin in already noticed. His judgment also sensibility; but exquisite sensibility receives great assistance from the requires to be controuled in matters opinions which he hears from others of taste, as in every thing else, hy a who have made a progress in his vigilance and intelligence proporart, and from the rules adopted or tioned to its vivacity. favoured by the most celebrated - The Essay on Taste is divided into masters; and thus, by degrees, with four chapters, of which only the two nothing but an ordinarily good ear first are employed in the analysis of and a plain understanding to begin that power ;-the two latter chapwith, may any person become a very ters are filled with miscellaneous obskilful connoisseur in every species servations nearly connected with the of musical composition, and acquire same subject. At the close of the so critical a nicety in his perception second chapter, Mr. Stewart exof sounds as to be able to detect a presses an intention of resuming the single false note in the midst of the subject on some future occasion, for most noisy and complicated per- the purpose of illustrating that "proformance. The process by which gress of taste from rudeness to retaste is acquired in any of the sister finement which accompanies the adarts, certainly is not very different. vancement of social civilization."

If the account which has been We trust he will find opportunity to given of the manner in which our fulfil the expectations which such a taste is formed, be tolerably correct, hope awakens. it follows that justness and compre-,

It is not possible for us to present hension of understanding are more our readers with all the valuable indispensably requisite for the enjoy- iruths and suggestions which Mr. ment of that power in great perfec-, Stewart has collected in his two lattion, than a superior delicacy in our ter chapters upon taste; but the foloriginal perceptions. Madame de lowing passage deserves to be exStahl appears to have, caught a, tracted, as well on account of the glimpse of this truth, when she says. dignity and justness of the sentiof the hero of one of her works, that ments which it expresses, as of the, the extent of his understanding en- peculiar felicity of the diction. abled him to act with propriety into whatever circle of society he was in

“ Corresponding to the distinction which troduced. Indeed, Mr. Stewart has. I have been attempting to illustrate between pushed his theory so far as to insist, wiversal and arbitrary beauties, there are that great natural sensibility is un- cations wdrich are not always united (perhaps

two different modifications of taste; modififavourable to the formation of a seldom united) in the same person. The one! good taste. Instances illustrative of enables a writer or an artist to rise superior this opinion will probably crowd to the times in which he lives, and ema" upon the recollection of our readers; boldens him to trust lis reputation to the

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