Imatges de pàgina
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Beneath its force the tallest oaks give way,
And gaping groves admit à sudden day ;
Roots, leaves, and boughs are hurry'd o'er the wood,

Float on the waves, and swell the loaded flood.' These lines are, on the whole, good ; yet every teader of taste and learning must observe in them an unnatural mixture of little and great circumstances, which is not to be imputed to Statius.

. Nor art nor nature can the war sustain,
Mounds fail, and damms are interpos’d in vain.'

• Nor art nor nature has the force

To stop its steady course ;
Nor Alps nor Pyrenæans keep it out,

Nor fortify'd redoubt.' DENNIS. Nothing more remains to be faid, except that Mr. Lewis has accompanied his translation with notes explanatory and critical, in which that little particle I occurs too often, and in which he has been too curious in explaining the fabulous histories of the ancients. On the whole, however, the work deserves approbation; and we can by no means subscribe to the author's modest declaration in his preface, that his chief merit consifts in having had the patience to go through with it, at a time of life which is too often squandered away in a circle of follies and amusements.'

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VII. An Esay on Original Genius ; and its various Modes of Ex

ertion in Philosophy and the Fine Arts, particularly in Poetry. 8vo.

Pr. 6s. Dilly.
HOUGH this writer treats of all the different provinces

in which genius exerts itself, yet hé confines himself chiefly to poetry. In his firit section he considers the objects and ingredients of genius, and the efficacy of those ingredients united in composition. We heartily wish the author had changed the title of this section, which gives us an idea of an apothecary's prescription. We all know that genius contains certain characters, but we entertain some doubts, whether the ingredients of genius is a term critically admissible in writing. Passing over these little inaccuracies, however, if they are such, we shall attend our author in his descriptions of imagination, judgment, and taste, which he very properly térms the distinguishing faculties of the human mind, and thinks principally constitute genius. Of these he gives the preference to imagination.

Imagination (says he) is that faculty. whereby the mind not only reflects on its own operations, but which allembles the

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various ideas conveyed to the understanding by the canal of sensation, and treasured up in the repofitory of the memory, compounding or disjoining them at pleasure; and which, by its plastic power of inventing new associations of ideas, and of combining them with infinite variety, is enabled to present a creation of its own, and to exhibit scenes and objects which never existed in nature. So indispensibly necessary is this faculty in the composition of Genius, that all the discoveries in science, and all the inventions and improvements in art, if we except such as have arisen from mere accident, derive their origin from its vigorous exertion. At the same time it must be confessed, that all the falle and fallacious fystems of the former, and all the irregular and illegitimate performances in the latter, which have ever been obtruded upon mankind, may be justly imputed to the unbounded extravagance of the same faculty : fiich effects are the natural consequences of an exuberant imagination, without arly proportionable share of the reasoning ta. lent. It is evidently necessary therefore, in order to render the productions of Genius regular and just, as well as elegant and ingenious, that the discerning and coercive power of judgment should mark and restrain the excursions of a wanton imagination ; in other words, that the austerity of reason fhould blend i:self with the gaiety of the graces. Here then we have another ingredient of Genius ; an ingredient essential to its con. ftitution, and without which it cannot possibly be exhibited to full advantage, even an accurate and penetrating judgment.'

Our author next presents us with definitions of judginent and taste. He supposes two persons, the one a man of judgment, the other of taste, to examine the merit of some malterly production of art; that admired piece of history-painting, for instance, of the Crucifixion, by Michael Angelo; and he obferves their different procedure, and the very different remarks they will inake. · The former (continues he) measures with his eye the exact proportion of every figure in the piece ; he considers how far the rules of art are observed in the design and , ordonnance ; whether the group of subordinate figures naturally lead the eye to the capital one, and fix the attention principally upon it; and whether the artist has given a proper variety of expresion to the countenances of the several spectators. Upon discovering that the painter had exactly conformed to the rules of his art in all these particulars, he would not only applaud his judgment, but would also give testimony to his mastery and skill; without, however, having any true feeling of those uncommon beauties which constitute real merit in the art of painting. Such would be the procedure and remarks of the man of mere judgment. Consider now, on the other hand, in VOL. XXII. May, 1767.

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what a different manner the man of taste will proceed, and in what manner he will be affected. Instead of attending, in the first place, to the just proportions of the various figures exhibited in the draught, however necessary to be observed ; inStead of remarking, with approbation, the judgment and ingenuity displayed by the artist in the uniforinity of design, and in the regularity and justness that appear in the disposition of the several figures of the piece ; he fixes his eye upon the prin. cipal one, in which he observes the various contorfions of the countenance, the natural expressions of agonifing pain, mixed however with an air of divine benignity and compassion, Then he pafies on to the contemplation of the inferior and subordinate figures, in which he perceives a variety of opposite pasions, of rage and terror, of admiration and pity, strongly marked in their different countenances; and feels the correfponding emotions in their utmost strength which those several passions are calculated to inspire. In a word, the man of judgment approves of and admires what is merely mechanical in the piece; the man of taste is struck with what could only be effected by the power of Genius. Wherever nature is justly represented, wherever the features of any one passion are forcibly expressed, to those features his attention is attracted, and he dwells on the contemplation of them with intense and exquisite pleasure. The sensations of the former are cool, weak, and unaffecting throughout ; those of the latter are warm, vivid, and deeply interesting; or, to speak more properly, the one reasons, the other feels. But as no reasoning can enable a man to form an idea of what is really an object of sensation, the most penetrating judgment can never supply the want of an exquisite sensibility of taste. In order therefore to relish and to judge of the productions of Genius and of Art, there inust be an internal perceptive power, exquisitely senfible to all the impressions which such productions are capable of making on a fusceptible mind.'

Without intending to discourage this author, who we are inclined to suspect is a young one, we must be of opinion, that the operations he describes in the man of judgment are precisely those which contribute to form the character of a man of taste ; while the properties he allows to the latter, without having the least connection with taste, only regard feelings. We are surprized that this writer fhould admit the word judga ment in this paffage. If he had been acquainted with painting, he must have known that all taste is comprehended in judge ment, and that the man of taste is an inferior connoiffeur compared to the man of judgment. · We wish likewise he had not been so unlucky as to have singled out the Crucifixion of Mi8

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chael Angelo, as an admired piece of history-painting. Connoisseurs of all kinds agree, that it is a very sorry performance, and so unworthy Angelo's pencil, that some of the best judges have doubted whether he was the painter.

Our author next proceeds to the usual indications of genius, as exemplified in Tasso, Pope, Milton, in poetry ; and Quina tilian in eloquence. On this subject, however, he gives us nothing new; for he only observes, that the three poets we have mentioned wrote poetry when they were very young. We know no reason why he fixes upon Quintilian as an example of genius in eloquence, and omits Cicero, who undoubtedly had a better right to that character, and to whom Quintilian was chiefly indebted for his most valuable composition; we mean his Institutes. If he was the author, as is generally thought, of the Declamations which go under his name, he was far from being so good an orator as a critic. This writer afterwards considers the indications of genius in a musician and an architect ; and his observations on both merit the reader's attention. In his third section he treats of the connection between genius, wit, and humour, which he distinguishes with accuracy and precision. He excludes Swift from being a genius, in the same sense as Offian was not a wit. He thinks that Shakespeare was both, and that Dr. Young united them together in a degree of perfection that has not been equalled since Shakespeare's time. If we may credit him, Mr. Pope established his character both as a man of genius and wit by his Rape of the Lock; not on account of the vein of wit which runs through that poem, but for his inventing the employment and nature of the Sylphs.

The author's fourth section treats of the mutual influence of imagination on taste, and of taste on imagination, considered as ingredients in the composition of genius. The fifth section considers the different degrees of genius, and its various modes of exertion, . Some persons (says he) posless such force and compass of imagination, as to be able by the power of this faculty to conceive and present to their own minds, in one distinct view, all the numerous and most distant relations of the objects on which they employ it; by which means they are qualified to make great improvements and discoveries in the arts and sciences. The mind in this case has recourse to and relies on its own fund. Conscious of its native energy, it delights to expand its faculties by the most vigorous exertion. Ranging through the unbounded regions of nature and of art, it explores unbeaten tracks of thought, catches a glimpse of fome objects which lie far beyond the sphere of ordinary obseryation, and obtains a full and distin&t view of others.

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• We may farther observe, that Genius may, in a very coiifiderable though much less proportion, be displayed in the illustration of those truths, or the imitation of those models, which it was incapable originally to discover or invent. To comprehend and explain the one, or to express a juft refemblance of the other, supposes and requires no contemptible degree of genius in the author or artist who succeeds in the attempt. Thus we allow Maclaurin, who has explained the principles of Newton's philosophy, and Strange, who has copied the Cartoons of Raphael, to have been both of thein men of Genius in their respective professions, though not men of original Genius; for the former did not possess that compass of imagination, and that depth of discernment, which were necessary to discover the doctrines of the Newtonian systein ; nor the latter that fertility and force of imagination, that were requisite to invent the design, and express the dignity, grace, and energy, displayed in the originals of the Italian painter.

A certain degree of Genius is likewise manifested in the more exquisite productions of the mechanical arts.

To constitute an excellent watchmaker, or even carpenter, some share of this quality is requisite. In most of the arts indeed, of which we are speaking, industry, it must be granted, will, in a great measure, supply the place of Genius; and dexterity of performance may be acquired by habit and sedulous application: yet in others of a more elegant kind, these will by no means altogether supersede its use and exercise ; fince it can alone bestow those finishing touches that bring credit and" putation to the workman. Every ingenious artist, who would execute his piece with uncommon nicety and neatness, muft really work from his imagination. The model of the piece must exist in his own mind. Therefore the more vivid and perfect his ideas are of this, the more exquisite and complete will be the copy.

• In some of the mechanical, and in all the liberal arts, it is not only necessary that artists should possess a certain share of imagination, in order to attain excellence in their different profeffions; but that share of which they are poffeffed, must principally turn upon one particular object. It is this bias of the mind to one individual art rather than another, which both indicates and conttitutes what we commonly call a Genius for it. This bias appears in some persons very early, and very remarkably; and when it does fo, it-ought doubtless to be regarded as the sovereign decree of Nature, marking out the ftation and destiny of her children.

• It cannot be denied, that a great degree of Genius is difcovered in the invention of mechanical arts, efpecially if they

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