whilst the shepherds were attending their flocks,
their masters made the first astronomical observa-
tions; so music is said to have had its origin from
a man at leisure listening to the strokes of a ham-

As the senses, in the lowest state of nature, are necessary to direct us to our support, when that support is once secure there is danger in following them further; to him who has no rule of action but the gratification of the senses, plenty is always dangerous: it is therefore necessary to the happiness of individuals, and still more necessary to the security of society, that the mind should be elevated to the idea of general beauty, and the contemplation of general truth ; by this pursuit the mind is always carried forward in search of something more excellent than it finds, and obtains its proper superiority over the common senses of life, by learning to feel itself capable of higher aims and nobler enjoyments. In this gradual exaltation of human nature, every art contributes its contingent towards the general supply of mental pleasure. Whatever abstracts the thoughts from sensual gratifications, whatever teaches us to look for happiness within ourselves, must advance in some measure the dignity of our nature. "

Perhaps there is no higher proof of the excelleney of man than this,--that to a mind properly cultivated, whatever is bounded is little. The mind is continually labouring to advance, step by step,

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through successive gradations of excellence, to-
wards perfection, which is dimly seen, at a great,
though not hopeless, distance, and which we must
always follow, because we never can attain ; but
the pursuit rewards itself; one truth teaches ano-
ther, and our store is always increasing, though
nature can never be exhausted. Our art, like all
arts which address the imagination, is applied to
somewhat a lower faculty of the mind, which ap-
proaches nearer to sensuality; but through sense
and fancy it must make its way to reason; for
such is the progress of thought, that we perceive
by sense, we combine by fancy, and distinguish by
reason: and without carrying our art out of its
natural and true character, the more we purify it
from every thing that is gross in sense, in that pro-
portion we advance its use and dignity; and in
proportion as we lower it to mere sensuality, we
pervert its nature, and degrade it from the rank of
a liberal art; and this is what every artist ought
well to remember. Let him remember also, that
he deserves just so much encouragement in the
state, as he makes himself a member of it vir-
tuously useful, and contributes in his sphere to the
general purpose and perfection of society.

The art which we profess has beauty for its object; this it is our business to discover and to express; the beauty of which we are in quest, is general and intellectual; it is an idea that subsists only in the mind; the sight never beheld it, nor

lence, till

and harmo exalted a1

has the hand expressed it: it is an idea residing in the breast of the artist, which he is always labouring to impart, and which he dies at last without imparting; but which he is yet so far able to communicate, as to raise the thoughts, and extend the views of the spectator; and which, by a succession of art, may be so far diffused, that its effects may extend themselves imperceptibly into public benefits, and be among the means of bestowing on whole nations refinement of taste : which, if it does not lead directly to purity of manners, obviates at least their greatest depravation, by disentangling the mind from appetite, and conducting the thoughts through successive stages of excellence, till that contemplation of universal rectitude and harmony which began by taste, may, as it is exalted and refined, conclude in virtue.






DECEMBER 11, 1780.

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