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Questions have been attached to the whole work, with a view to direct the attention of the student to the leading principles and their illustrations. Some instructers, of course, will dispense with these in examining their pupils, and question them, in their own way, on the text: but it is presumed that the value of the work will not be diminished, even for these instructers, by the addition of the questions.

The mode, in which the examples are to be recited, and their fitness pointed out, by the pupil, must of course be left to the judgment of the instructer.

The Editor indulges the hope, that the present attempt to bring a standard work of criticism within reach of the inmates of our common schools and academies, may meet with the approbation of those of his fellow-citizens who feel interested in the important subject of general education.

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The design of the present undertaking is, to examine the sen-

sitive branch of human nature, to trace the objects that are natu-

rally agreeable, as well as those that are naturally disagreeable;

and by these means to discover, if we can, what are the genuine

principles of the fine arts. The man who aspires to be a critic

in these arts, must pierce still deeper: he must acquire a clear

perception of what objects are lofty, what low, what proper or

improper, what manly, and what mean or trivial. Hence a foun-

dation for reasoning upon the taste of any individual, and for

passing sentence upon it. Where it is conformable to principles,

we can pronounce with certainty that it is correct; otherwise,

that it is incorrect, and perhaps whimsical. Thus the fine arts,

like morals, become a rational science; and, like morals, may be

cultivated to a high degree of refinement.

Manifold are the advantages of criticism, when thus studied as

a rational science. In the first place, a thorough acquaintance

with the principles of the fine arts, redoubles the pleasure we

derive from them. To the man who resigns himself entirely to

sentiment or feeling, without interposing any sort of judgment,

poetry, music and painting, are mere pastime: in the prime of life,

indeed, they are delightful, being supported by the force of novelty

and the heat of imagination : but in time they lose their relish,

and are generally neglected in the maturity of life, which dis-

poses to more serious and more important occupations. To those

who deal in criticism as a regular science, governed by just prin-

ciples, and giving scope to judgment as well as to fancy, the fine

arts are a favorite entertainment; and in old age they maintain that

relish which they produce in the morning of life.

In the next place, a philosophic inquiry into the principles of

the fine arts, inures the reflecting mind to the most enticing sort

of logic: the practice of reasoning upon subjects so agreeable,

tends to a habit; and a habit, strengthening the reasoning facul-

ties, prepares the mind for entering into subjects more intricate

and abstract. To have, in that respect, a just conception of the

importance of criticism, we need but reflect upon the common

method of education; which, after some years spent in acquiring

languages, hurries us, without the least preparatory discipline,


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