Obrazy na stronie

-the same cause. The antiquarian, in his .cabinet, surrounded by the relics of former ages, seems to himself to be removed to periods that are long since past, and indulges in the imagination of living in a world, which, by a very natural kind of prejudice, we are always willing to believe was both wiser and better than the present. All that is veuerable or laudable in the history of these times present themselves to his memory. The gallantry, the heroism, the patriotism of antiquity rise again before his view, softened by the obscurity in which they are involved, and rendered more seducing to the imagination by that obscurity itself, which, while it mingles a sentiment of regret amid his pursuits, serves at the same time

to stimulate his fancy to fill up, by its own creation, those long intervals of time of which history has preserved no record. The relics he contemplates seem to approach him still nearer to the ages of his regard. The dress, the furniture, the arms of the times, are so many assistances to his imagination, in guiding or directing its exercise, and offering him a thousand sources of imagery, provide him with an almost inexhaustible field in which his memory and his fancy may expatiate. There are few men who have

not felt somewhat, at least, of the delight of such an employment. There is no man in the least acquainted with the history of antiquity, who does not love to let his imagination loose on the prospect of its remains, and to whom they are not in some measure saered, from the innumerable images which they bring. Even the peasant, whose knowledge of former times extends but to a few generations, has yet in his village some monument of the deeds or virtues of his forefathers; and cherishes with a fond veneration the memorial of those good old times to

which his imagination returns with delight, and of which he loves to recount the simple

tales that tradition has brought him.

"And what is it that constitutes that emotion of sublime delight, which every man of common sensibility feels upon the first prospect of Rome? It is not the scene of destruction which is before him. It is not the Tiber, diminished in his imagination to a paltry stream, flowing amid the ruins of that magnificence which it once adorned. It is not the triumph of superstition over the wreck of human greatness, and its monuments erected upon the very spot where the first honours of humanity have been gained. It is ancient Rome which fills his imagination. It is the country of Cæsar, and Cicero, and Virgil, which is before him. It is the mistress of the world which he sees, and

who seems to him to rise again from her tomb, to give laws to the universe. All that the labours of his youth, or the studies of his maturer age have acquired, with regard to the history of this great people, open at once before his imagination, and present him with a field of high and solemn imagery, which can never be exhausted. Take from him these associations, conceal from kim that it is Rome that he sees, and how different would be his emotion!" Vol. i. pp. 39–42.

Although much might be added under this head, neither less striking nor less eloquent, we hasten on to the second position taken by the author. It is evident, that all exercise of the imagination does not lead to the emotion of taste. Many objects excite a train of ideas in the mind which yet excite no emotion of pleasure. The ideas which are excited by objects of beauty and sublimity have two peculiarities. 1. They are" ideas of emotion," or ideas by which emotion is excited; and, 2dly, They have a principle of connection by which the whole train have a tendency to excite the same emotion. That the complex emotions of beauty and sublimity are never felt except when some simple emotion is excited, or affection is kindled, is capable of various proof. Who ever calls that beautiful which he, at the same time, declares to be indifferent to him? If an object also is beautiful to us and not to another, do we not ascribe it to some association by which it has laid hold of our mind, or formed a lodgement in our feelings? In like manner, all which contributes to give us an interest in any pursuit or object invests it with new beauties.

The lover reads or hears with indifference, of all that is most sublime in the history of ambition, and wonders only at the folly of inankind, who can sacrifice their ease, their comforts, and all the best pleasures of life, to the unsubstantial pursuit of power. The man, whose life has been passed in the pursuits of commerce, and who has learned to estimate every thing by its value in money, laughs at the labours of the philosopher or the poet, and beholds with indifference the most splendid pursuits of life, if they are not repaid by wealth. The anecdote of a late celebrated mathematician is well known, who read the

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Paradise Lost, without being able to discover in it any thing that was sublime, but who said that he could never read the queries, at the end of Newton's Optics, without feeling his hair stand on end, and his blood

run cold. There are thousands who have read

the old ballad of Chevy Chace, without having their imaginations inflamed with the ideas of military glory. It is the brave only, who, in the perusal of it, like the gallant Sir Philip Sydney, feel their hearts moved, as by the sound of a trumpet.'" Vol. i. pp. 87-89.

In like manner, when, through the circumstances of the moment,the sensibility is deadened, a pall seems to be cast over the most splendid objects. And in the same way, when the attention is withdrawn from the interesting, and directed to the uninteresting, qualities of an object, the emotion of beauty decays. The artist who withdraws his attention from the expression of the Apollo Belvidere to measure its proportions; the affluent who are familiarized to their splendid furniture, and who look on them not as the mere ornament of the drawing-room, but as the apparatus of daily life; the auctioneer whose enthusiasm is divided between the colours of a picture and the construction of its frame; one and all cease to perceive the beauties upon which others are feasting.

It is scarcely less obvious that the train of images by which the emotion of taste is excited is distinguished by some general principle of connection. When the eye, for instance, wanders over a landscape, the taste is often offended by some feature which does not harmonize with the rest. In like manner, in poetry, in painting, or in music, a discordant sentiment, image, or tone often checks the rising emotion of taste. In each of these cases it is evidently a certain character or expression to which the discordant part is referred, and by its discrepancy with which it offends. This expression is the charm by which the emotion is kindled, and, as the one is weakened, the other vanishes. The corner stone of the edifice of our feeling or affection is touched and the fairy fabric falls to the ground.

It is curious to observe how nature, in some rare instances, by her very prodigality tarnishes the beauty of her own scenes. One object clashes with another, and so destroys the expression of the whole. Nor is it less curious to observe the artist or poet, by the labour of selection and assimilation, endeavouring to improve upon this profuseexpenditure and bold irregularity of nature. The author, however, by stating this point too broadly, seems to us to do a little dishonour to Nature. The discordancies discovered in her scenes are often less in the prospect than in the examiner. The narrowness of the mind often betrays us into a false interpretation of their character. If a spectator mistook the expression which à painter meant to give to his picture, and which he actually did convey to the accurate eye, many parts, really appropriate, must seem to him out of place. And thus, if we narrow the expression of the landscape, parts, which in fact conspire to adorn the scene, appear discordancies to us. Man, in this instance, should do homage to the great Artist of the scenery before him; and not cripple the landscape to the mind, but strain the mind to follow and embrace the landscape. "Non mihi res, sed me rebus subjungere conor," should be our motto here; and a readiness be discovered to vindicate Nature at our own expense.

The foregoing observations, however, we think, sufficiently establish the two last mentioned propositions of the author; so that we may rest in the conclusion stated by him at the end of his first essay,, that wherever the emotions of beauty or sublimity are felt, an exercise of imagination is promoted, and that the train of thought upon which the imagination is employed is made up of ideas of emotion, associated by a general principle of connection. Hence, he adds, the difference between our emotions of simple pleasure and the emotion of taste are obvious.

"In the case of these last emotions, no additional train of thought is necessary. The pleasurable feeling follows immediately the presence of the object or quality, and has no dependence upon any thing for its perfection, but the sound state of the sense by which it is received. The emotions of joy, pity, benevolence, gratitude, utility, propriety, novelty, &c. might undoubtedly be felt, although we had no such power of mind as that by which we follow out a train of ideas, and certainly are felt in a thousand cases, when this faculty is unemployed.

"In the case of the emotions of taste, on the other hand, it seems evident, that this exercise of mind is necessary, and that unless this train of thought is produced, these emo tions are unfelt." Vol. i. pp. 159, 160..

The author having thus, in his first essay, shewn the nature of the emotions of sublimity and beauty, proceeds to shew, in the second, that it is by a process of this kind that the sublimity and beauty of the "material world" are discovered and felt. In this argument also, we shall endeavour to follow him.

The qualities of matter are known to us only by the senses, by which, though sensation and perception are conveyed to the mind, emotion plainly is not. The smell of a rose, or the taste of a pine-apple, produces agreeable sensations, but not agreeable emotions. But although the qualities of matter are incapable, in themselves, of producing such emotions, they may acquire a new power upon the mind by their being associated with other qualities, of which they may thus become the signs or expressions. And such associations are very numerous. All external objects, for instance, employed for use or pleasure, become signs to us of the uses or pleasures for which we employ them. The plough suggests the idea of rustic labour, and of the plenty which follows it; and the harp, of the animation it has often communicated; and thus each produces the emotion which properly belong to the qualities they signify. I like manner, all works of art suggest the idea of design, wisdom, and skill in the artist. In the same way, we are accustomed to

associate the qualities of quickness, tenderness, magnanimity, with certain casts of countenance; and thus the features acquire the influence of the qualities they represent. Having thus also learned that certain features of body indicate certain qualities of mind, when we discover, in animate, matter, forms resembling these features, we insensibly erect them into representatives of the same qualities. We speak of the strength of the oak, the delicacy of the myrtle, the boldness of the rock, the modesty of the violet, &c. &c. which are qualities not of matter but of mind. Besides these, language is productive of many such associations, by conveying to us, in its figurative expressions, the analogies between the qualities of matter and mind discovered by other men in other places and ages. To all these are to be added the associations springing from the peculiar circumstances of every individual. Particular sounds, colours, motions, scenes, suggest images, and therefore emotions, to us, which they may not to any other.

Having thus explained the various processes by which these associations are generated, the author proceeds to shew, in successive chapters, that it is only through these associations that we are impressed with the beauty or sublimity of sounds and colours. It would be absolutely Quixotic to attempt to follow him through this part of his career. We shall content ourselves, like the chart-makers, simply with dotting his track through these, in a degree unexplored, regions, now and then pausing to give a sketch of some particular scene.

The general arguments by which he establishes his main position appear to be these, that if beauty were the mere object of a sense, then all possessed of that sense must be familiar with it; must discover in it the same properties; must be affected by it in the same manner; must be affected by it in the same way, at different times; must

be able with certainty to define its effect upon others, and to reduce it to certain general laws. But no part of this description applies to the case of the emotions of sublimity and beauty. Here all is irregular ity. No two men are affected in the same way; no one man, perhaps, in the same manner, at two different times; and the alleged objects of this sense appear and disappear according to the frame of the examiner, or the society in which the object is viewed.

Take, in the first place, the case of sounds. Thunder, when heard as the "artillery of heaven," is sublime, Is it the mere quality of loudness which renders it sublime? Let it, on the contrary, be discovered that what we supposed to be thunder is the mere rumbling of a cart, and the emotion of sublimity is destroyed. Indeed, there are instances in which the lowest sounds are invested with the same sublimity :

"Along the woods, along the moorish fens, Sighs the sad genius of the coming storm." Or to take a more striking instance from that unfathomable mine of all that is beautiful or sublime, the Scriptures. It is a passage in which the appearance of the Deity to the prophet Elijah is described. "And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord. And behold the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a small still voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle."

Here, then, we have instances both of the same sound, by different associations, affecting the mind in an opposite manner; and of the most opposite sounds affecting the mind in the same manner. Can we need any stronger proof that the beauty or sublimity does not reside in the CHRIST. OBSERY. No. 122.

mere sound, but in the quality of which it is the sign or expression?

In proceeding to apply his theory to colours, the author remarks that the greatest part of colours are "connected with a kind of established imagery in the mind," and are considered as "expressive of many pleasing and interesting qualities." These associations are, 1st, such as arise from the nature of the objects thus permanently coloured; as black, from being the complexion of night, is expressive of gloom: or, 2dly, such as arise from some analogy between certain colours and certain dispositions of the mind, whence these colours are called mild, or bold, gay, or gloomy: and, 3dly, such as arise from accidental connections; as purple is to us the sign of imperial dignity, and yellow to the Chinese. These associations will sufficiently explain the peculiar attractions of some colours, while a few plain observations will shew that they have no intrinsic beauty. For, if they had, the same colour would always be beautiful, and we should rejoice to see the pink of the cheek extended to the nose: neither would the beauty of colours vary with the caprices of fashion, whereas half a dozen duchesses may, by dint of the associations which rank can convey, clothe the town in a new colour every winter: nor would different nations make their elections of opposite colours, and the dusky beauties of one hemisphere be the monsters of another.

In chapter IV. upon Forms, the course of argument is nearly the same as before. The illustrations are numerous and convincing. As it is on the subject of forms that the old theories chiefly dwelt, the author had here many prejudices to combat, and difficulties to overcome. We think, however, that the hitherto wavering converts of Hogarth and Burke, and of the more recent upholders of the intrinsic beauty of lines, will rejoice to find here a key to many difficulties confessedly im pervious by their ancient masters.

In successive sections, the influence of design, of fitness, and of utility, upon the beauty of forms, is examined with great acuteness. Many striking extracts might be made. We owe it, however, to our readers, to whom we have hitherto manifest ed, perhaps, unbecoming parsimony in quotation, to give them one or two, which may both teach them some curious truths, and supply them with a fair specimen of the manner of the author. The first is a curious history of the decay of works of taste.

arts of antiquity, will recollect, that the his-
tory of statuary, of painting, of music, of
poetry, and of prose composition, have been
alike distinguished, in their latter periods, by
the same gradual desertion of the end of the
art, for the display of the art itself; and by
the same prevalence of the expression of de-
sign, over the expression of the composition
in which it was employed. It has been sel-
dom found in the history of any of these
arts, that the artist, like the great master of
painting in this country, has united the
philosophy with the practice of his art, and
regulated his own sublime inventions, by the
chaste principles of truth and science.

"For an error, which so immediately arises "However obvious or important the prin- from the nature, and from the practice of ciple which I have now stated may be, the these arts themselves, it is difficult, perhaps fine arts have been unfortunately governed impossible, to find a remedy. Whether (as I am willing to believe) there may not be cirby a very different principle; and the undue preference which artists are naturally cumstances in the modern state of Europe, disposed to give to the display of design, which may serve to check at least, this unhas been one of the most powerful causes fortunate progression; whether the beautiof that decline and degeneracy which has ful models of antiquity in every art, may not uniformly marked the history of the fine serve to fix in some degree the standard of arts, after they have arrived at a certain petaste in these arts; whether the progress of riod of perfection. To a common spectator, philosophy and criticism may not tend to inthe great test of excellence in beautiful troduce greater stability, as well as greater forms is character or expression, or, in other delicacy of taste; and whether the general words, the appearance of some interesting or diffusion of science, by increasing in so great affecting quality in the form itself. To the a proportion the number of judges, may not artist, on the other hand, the great test of rescue these arts from the sole dominion of excellence is skill; the production of somethe artists, and thus establish more just and thing new in point of design, or difficult in philosophical principles of decision, it is fat point of execution. It is by the expression beyond the limits of these essays to inquire. of character, therefore, that the generality of But I humbly conceive, that there is no rule men determine the beauty of forms. It is of criticism more important in itself, or more by the expression of design, that the artist fitted to preserve the taste of the individual, determines it. When, therefore, the arts or of the public, than to consider every which are conversant in the beauty of form, composition as faulty and defective, in which have attained to that fortunate stage of their the expression of the art is more striking progress, when this expression of character is than the expression of the subject, or in itself the great expression of design, the in- which the beauty of design prevails over the vention and taste of the artist take, almost beauty of character or expression." Vol. ii. necessarily, a different direction. When his pp. 115-117. excellence can no longer be distinguished by the production of merely beautiful or expressive form, he is naturally led to distinguish it by the production of what is uncommon or difficult to signalize his works by the fer

tility of his invention, or the dexterity of his execution; and thus gradually to forget the end of his art, in his attention to display his superiority in the art itself." Vol. ii. pp.


"Nor is this melancholy progress peculiar to those arts which respect the beauty of form. The same causes extend to every other of those arts which are employed in the production of beauty; and they who are acquainted with the history of the fine

The other observation is equally striking, and is meant as a reply to those who urge the permanence of certain proportions in architecture in proof of their inherent and exclusive beauty. After having noticed the influence lent to these proportions by our veneration for antiquity, he goes on to observe :

"But besides these, there are other causes in the nature of the art itself, which sufficiently account for the permanence of taste upon this subject. In every production of

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