Imatges de pÓgina
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beauties make but a faint impression, indulges pride or envy without control, and loves to brood over errors and blemishes; in a word, there are other passions, that, upon occasion, may disturb the peace of society more than those mentioned; but not another passion is so unwearied an antagonist to the sweets of social intercourse: pride and envy put a man perpetually in opposition to others, and dispose him to relish bad more than good qualities, even in a companion. How different that disposition of mind, where every virtue in a companion or neighbor, is, by refinement of taste, set in its strongest light, and defects or blemishes natural to all are suppressed, or kept out of view?

In the next place, delicacy of taste tends not less to invigorate' the social affections, than to moderate those that are selfish. To be convinced of that tendency, we need only reflect that delicacy of taste necessarily heightens our feeling of pain and pleasure; and of course our sympathy, which is the capital branch of every social passion. Sympathy invites a communication of joys and sorrows, hopes and fears: such exercise, soothing and satisfactory in itself, is necessarily productive of mutual good-will and affection.

One other advantage of criticism is reserved to the last place, being of all the most important; which is, that it is a great support to morality. I insist on it with entire satisfaction, that no occupation attaches a man more to his duty, than that of cultivating a taste in the fine arts: a just relish for what is beautiful, proper, elegant, and ornamental, in writing or painting, in architecture or gardening, is a fine preparation for the same just relish of these qualities in character and behavior. To the man who has acquired a taste so acute and accomplished, every action, wrong or improper, must be highly disgustful: if, in any instance, the overbearing power of passion sway him from his duty, he returns to it with a doubled resolution never to be swayed a second time: he has now an additional motive to virtue, a conviction derived from experience, that happiness depends on regularity and order, and that disregard to justice or propriety never fails to be punished with shame and remorse.

With respect to the present undertaking, it is not the author's intention to compose a regular treatise upon each of the fine arts; but only in general to exhibit their fundamental principles, drawn from human nature, the true source of criticism. The fine arts are intended to entertain us, by making pleasant impressions; and,

by that circumstance, are distinguished from the useful arts: but in order to make pleasant impressions, we ought, as above hinted, to know what objects are naturally agreeable, and what naturally disagreeable. That subject is here attempted, so far as necessary for unfolding the genuine principles of the fine arts; and the author assumes no merit from his performance, but that of evincing, perhaps more distinctly than hitherto has been done, that these principles, as well as every just rule of criticism, are founded upon the sensitive part of our nature. What the author has discovered or collected upon that subject, he chooses to impart in the gay and agreeable form of criticism; imagining that this form will be more relished, and perhaps be not less instructive, than a regular and labored disquisition. His plan is, to ascend gradually to principles, from facts and experiments; instead of beginning with the former, handled abstractedly, and descending to the latter. But though criticism be thus his only declared aim, he will not disown, that all along it has been his view to explain the nature of man, considered as a sensitive being, capable of pleasure and pain: and though he flatters himself with having made some progress in that important science, he is however too sensible of its extent and difficulty, to undertake it professedly, or to avow it as the chief purpose of the present work.

REVIEW.

What is the design of this work?

What is requisite in order to become a critic in the fine arts?
What do the fine arts thus become?

What is the first advantage which arises from an acquaintance with the principles of the fine arts?

To whom are the fine arts a favorite entertainment?

What habit is acquired by philosophic inquiry into the principles of the fine arts?

How may the science of criticism be considered?

Of what kind are the reasonings employed on the fine arts?

What does a just taste for the fine arts furnish?

How does the science of criticism tend to improve the heart?
To what vices is a discerning taste an enemy?

In what does the man of taste delight?

What does delicacy of taste invigorate?

What is the last and most important advantage of criticism?
What occupation particularly attaches a man to his duty?
What additional motive to virtue has the man of taste?

From what are the fundamental principles of criticism drawn?

Upon what is every just rule of criticism founded?

What is the author's plan?

What other object besides the science of criticism has the author kept in view?

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ELEMENTS OF CRITICISM.

CHAPTER L

Association of Ideas.

WHILE awake we are conscious of a continued train of perceptions passing in our minds. It requires no activity to carry on, nor can we at will add an idea to this train, which is not regulated by chance.

The notions by which things are linked have great influence in directing the train of thought. The inherent properties of external objects are not more remarkable than the various relations that connect them together. Cause and effect, contiguity in time and place, high and low, prior and posterior, resemblance, contrast, and a thousand other relations, connect things without end. No single object appears solitary and devoid of connexion; some are intimately, some slightly connected; some near, others remote.

The train of thought is chiefly regulated by these relations. An external object suggests to the mind others with which it is related: thus the train of thoughts is composed. Such is the law of succession, which must be natural because it governs all human things. Sometimes, however, as after a profound sleep, an idea arises in the mind without any perceived connexion.

We can attend to some ideas and dismiss others. Among objects connected, one suggests many of its relations; choice is afforded; we can elect one and reject others. We can insist on what is commonly the slighter connexion. Ideas left to their natural course are continued through the strictest connexions: the

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