Obrazy na stronie

originality and boldness of his conceptions.

original performance, which, discarding all arbitrary rules of literary criticism derived from authority, seeks for a proper set of rules in the fundamental principles of human nature itself. Dugald Stewart admits this to be the first systematic attempt to investigate the metaphysical principles of the fine arts. Lord Kames had, for many years, kept a commonplace book, into which he transcribed all anecdotes of man, in his various nations and degrees of civilisation, which occurred in the course of his reading, or appeared in the fugitive publications of the day. When advanced to near eighty years of age, he

threw these together in a work entitled Sketches of

the History of Man (two vols., 4to., 1773), which shows his usual ingenuity and acuteness, and presents many curious disquisitions on society, but is materially reduced in value by the absence of a proper authentication to many of the statements presented in it as illustrations. A volume, entitled Loose Hints on Education, published in 1781, and in

which he anticipates some of the doctrines on that

subject which have since been in vogue, completes the list of his philosophical works. Lord Kames was also distinguished as an amateur agriculturist and improver of land, and some operations, devised by him for clearing away a superincumbent moss from his estate by means of water raised from a neighbouring river, help to mark the This taste led to his producing, in 1777, a volume entitled The Gentleman Farmer, which he has himself sufficiently described as “an attempt to improve agriculture by subjecting it to the test of rational principles.’ Lord Kames was a man of commanding aspect and figure, but easy and familiar manners. He was the life and soul of every private company, and it was remarked of him that no subject seemed too great or too frivolous to derive lustre from his remarks upon it. The taste and thought of his philosophical works have now placed them out of fashion, but they contain many views and reflections from which modern inquirers might derive advantage.

[Pleasures of the Eye and the Ear.]

That nothing external is perceived till first it make an impression upon the organ of sense, is an observation that holds equally in every one of the external senses. But there is a difference as to our knowledge of that impression; in touching, tasting, and smelling, we are sensible of the impression; that, for example, which is made upon the hand by a stone, upon the palate by an apricot, and upon the nostrils by a rose. It is otherwise in seeing and hearing; for I am not sensible of the impression made upon my eye when I behold a tree, nor of the impression made upon my ear when I listen to a song. That difference in the manner of perceiving external objects, distinguisheth remarkably hearing and seeing from the other senses; and I am †† to show that it distinguisheth still more remarkably the feelings of the former from that of the latter; every feeling, pleasant or painful, must be in the mind; and yet, because in tasting, touching, and smelling, we are sensible of the impression made upon the organ, we are led to place there also the pleasant or painful feeling caused by that impression; but, with respect to seeing and hearing, being insensible of the organic impression, we are not misled to assign a wrong place to the pleasant or painful feelings caused by that impression; and therefore we naturally place them in the mind, where they really are; upon that account they are conceived to be more refined and spiritual than what are derived from tast

ing, touching, and smelling; for the latter feelings, seeming to exist externally at the organ of sense, are conceived to be merely corporeal. The pleasures of the eye and the ear being thus elevated above those of the other external senses, acquire so much dignity, as to become a laudable entertainment. They are not, however, set on a level with the purely intellectual, being no less inferior in dignity to intellectual pleasures, than superior to the organic or corporeal: they indeed resemble the latter, being, like them, produced by external objects; but they also resemble the former, being, like them, produced without any sensible organic impression. Their mixed nature and middle place between organic and intellectual pleasures qualify them to associate with both; beauty heightens all the organic feelings, as well as the intellectual; harmony, though it aspires to inflame devotion, disdains not to improve the relish of a banquet. The pleasures of the eye and the ear have other valuable properties beside those of dignity and elevation; being sweet and moderately exhilarating, they are in their tone equally distant from the turbulence

of passion and the languor of indolence; and by that

tone are perfectly well qualified not only to revive the spirits when sunk by sensual gratification, but also to relax them when overstrained in any violent pursuit. Here is a remedy provided for many distresses; and to be convinced . its salutary effects, it will be sufficient to run over the following particulars. Organic pleasures have naturally a short duration; when

prolonged, they lose their relish; when indulged to

excess, they beget satiety and disgust; and to restore a proper tone of mind, nothing can be more happily contrived than the exhilarating pleasures of the eye and ear. intellectual powers becomes painful by overstraining the mind; cessation from such exercise gives not instant relief; it is necessary that the void be filled with some amusement, gently relaxing the spirits: organic pleasure, which hath no relish but while we are in vigour, is ill qualified for that office; but the finer pleasures of sense, which occupy, without exhausting, the mind, are finely qualified to restore its usual tone after severe application to study or business, as well as after satiety from sensual gratification. Our first perceptions are of external objects, and our first attachments are to them. Organic pleasures take the lead; but the mind gradually ripening, relisheth more and more the pleasures of the eye and ear, which approach the purely mental without exhausting the spirits, and exceed the purely sensual without danger of satiety. The pleasures of the eye and ear have accordingly a natural aptitude to draw us from the immoderate gratification of sensual appetite; and the mind, once accustomed to enjoy a variety of external objects without being sensible of the organic impression, is prepared for enjoying internal objects where there cannot be an organic impression. Thus the Author of nature, by qualifying the human mind for a succession of enjoyments from low to high, leads it by gentle steps from the most grovelling corporeal pleasures, for which only it is fitted in the beginning of life, to those refined and sublime pleasures that are suited to its maturity. But we are not bound down to this succession by any law of necessity: the God of nature offers it to us in order to advance our happiness; and it is sufficient that he hath enabled us to carry it on in a natural course. Nor has he made our task either disagreeable or difficult: on the contrary, the transition is sweet and easy from corporeal pleasures to the more refined pleasures of sense; and no less so from

these to the exalted pleasures of morality and reli

gion. We stand therefore engaged in honour as well as interest, to second the purposes of nature by culti209

On the other hand, any intense exercise of vating the pleasures of the eye and ear, those especially that require extraordinary culture, such as arise from poetry, painting, sculpture, music, garden: ing, and architecture. This especially is the duty of the opulent, who have leisure to improve their minds and §. feelings. The fine arts are contrived to give pleasure to the eye and the ear, disregarding the inferior senses. A taste for these arts is a plant that grows naturally in many soils; but without culture, scarce to perfection in any soil: it is susceptible of much refinement, and is by proper care greatly improved. In this respect a taste in the fine arts goes hand in hand with the moral sense, to which indeed it is nearly allied: both of them discover what is right and what is wrong: fashion, temper, and education, have an influence to vitiate both, or to preserve them pure and untainted: neither of them are arbitrary nor local, being rooted in human nature, and governed by principles common to all men. The design of the present undertaking, which aspires not to morality, is to examine the sensitive branch of human nature, to trace the objects that are naturally 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 foundation for reasoning upon the taste of any individual, and for

passing a 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 to feeling, without interposing any judgment, poetry, music, 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 disposes to more serious and more important occupations. To those who deal in criticism as a regular science governed by just principles, and giving scope to judgment as well as to fancy, the fine arts are a favourite entertainment, and in old age maintain that relish which they produce in the morning of life.


Among the answerers of Hume was DR BEATTIE the poet, who, in 1770, published his Essay on the Nature and Immutability of Truth, in opposition to Sophistry and Scepticism. Inferior to most of the metaphysicians in logical precision, equanimity of temper, or patient research, Beattie brought great zeal and fervour to his task, a respectable share of philosophical knowledge, and a better command of popular language and imaginative illustration than most of his fellow-labourers in that dry and dusty field. These qualities, joined to the pious and beneficial tendency of his work, enabled him to produce a highly popular treatise. No work of the kind was ever so successful. It has fallen into equal neglect with other metaphysical treatises of the age, and is now considered unworthy the talents of its author. It has neither the dignity nor the acumen of the original philosopher, and is unsuited to the ordinary religious reader. The best of Beattie's prose works are his Dissertations, Moral and Critical, and his

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interchange of hill and dale, shade and sunshine,

grove, lawn, and water, which an extensive landscape offers to the view; the scenery of the ocean, so lovely, so majestic, and so tremendous, and the many pleasing varieties of the animal and vegetable kingdom, could never afford so much real satisfaction as the steams and noise of a ball-room, the insipid fiddling and squeaking of an opera, or the vexations and wranglings of a card-table! But some minds there are of a different make, who, even in the early part of life, receive from the contemplation of nature a species of delight which they would hardly exchange for any other; and who, as avarice and ambition are not the infirmities of that period, would, with equal sincerity and rapture, exclaim— “I care not, Fortune, what you me deny ; You cannot rob me of free nature's grace; You cannot shut the windows of the sky, Through which Aurora shows her brightening face; You cannot bar my constant feet to trace The woods and lawns by living stream at eve." Such minds have always in them the seeds of true taste, and frequently of imitative genius. At least,

though their enthusiastic or visionary turn of mind,

as the man of the world would call it, should not always incline them to practise poetry or painting, we need not scruple to affirm that, without some portion of this enthusiasm, no person ever became a true poet or painter. For he who would imitate, the works of nature, must first accurately observe them, and accurate observation is to be expected from those only who take great pleasure in it. To a mind thus disposed, no part of creation is indifferent. In the crowded city and howling wilderness, in the cultivated province and solitary isle, in




Metaphysical writers.


DR beattie.

the flowery lawn and craggy mountain, in the murmur of the rivulet and in the uproar of the ocean, in the radiance of summer and gloom of winter, in the thunder of heaven and in the whisper of the breeze, he still finds something to rouse or to soothe his imagination, to draw forth his affections, or to employ his understanding. And from every mental energy that is not attended with pain, and even from some of those that are, as moderate terror and pity, a sound mind derives satisfaction; exercise being equally necessary to the body and the soul, and to both equally productive of health and pleasure. This happy sensibility to the beauties of nature should be cherished in young persons. It engages them to contemplate the Creator in his wonderful works; it purifies and harmonises the soul, and prepares it for moral and intellectual discipline; it sup| plies a never-failing source of amusement; it contributes even to bodily health; and, as a strict analogy subsists between material and moral beauty, it leads the heart by an easy transition from the one to the other, and thus recommends virtue for its transcendent loveliness, and makes vice appear the object of contempt and abomination. An intimate acquaintance with the best descriptive poets—Spenser, Milton, and Thomson, but above all with the divine Georgic— joined to some practice in the art of drawing, will promote this amiable sensibility in early years; for then the face of nature has novelty superadded to its other charms, the passions are not pre-engaged, the heart is free from care, and the imagination warm and romantic. But not to insist longer on those ardent emotions that are peculiar to the enthusiastic disciple of nature, may it not be affirmed of all men without exception, or at least of all the enlightened part of mankind, that they are gratified by the contemplation of things natural as opposed to unnatural Monstrous sights please but for a moment, if they please at all; for they derive their charm from the beholder's amazement, which is quickly over. I have read, indeed, of a man of rank in Sicily who chooses to adorn his villa with pictures and statues of most unnatural deformity; but it is a singular instance; and one would not be much more surprised to hear of a person living without food, or growing fat by the use of poison. To say of anything that it is contrary to nature, denotes censure and disgust on the part of the speaker; as the epithet natural intimates an agreeable quality, and seems for the most part to imply that a thing is as it ought to be, suitable to our own taste, and congenial with our own constitution. Think with what sentiments we should peruse a poem in which nature was totally misrepresented, and principles of thought and of operation supposed to take place repugnant to everything we had seen or heard of; in which, for example, avarice and coldness were ascribed to youth, and prodigality and passionate attachment to the old; in which men were made to act at random, sometimes according to character, and sometimes contrary to it; in which cruelty and envy were productive of love, and beneficence and kind affection of hatred; in which beauty was invariably the object of dislike, and ugliness of desire; in which society was rendered happy by atheism and the promiscuous perpetration of crimes, and justice and fortitude were held in universal contempt. Or

think how we should relish a painting where no

regard was had to the proportions, colours, or any of the physical laws of nature; where the ears and eyes of animals were placed in their shoulders; where the sky was green, and the grass crimson; where trees grew with their branches in the earth, and their roots in the air; where men were seen fighting after their heads were cut off, ships sailing on the land, lions entangled in cobwebs, sheep preying on dead carcases,

fishes sporting in the woods, and elephants walking on the sea. Could such figures and combinations give pleasure, or merit the appellation of sublime or beautiful! Should we hesitate to pronounce their author mad? And are the absurdities of madmen proper subjects either of amusement or of imitation to reasonable beings?

[On Scottish Music.] [From the same.]

There is a certain style of melody peculiar to each musical country, which the people of that country are apt to prefer to every other style. That they should prefer their own, is not surprising; and that the melody of one people should differ from that of anpther, is not more surprising, perhaps, than that the language of one people should differ from that of another. But there is something not unworthy of notice in the particular expression and style that characterise the music of one nation or province, and distinguish it from every other sort of music. Of this diversity Scotland supplies a striking example. The native melody of the Highlands and Western Isles is as different from that of the southern part of the kingdom as the Irish or Erse language is different from the English or Scotch. In the conclusion of a discourse on music, as it relates to the mind, it will not perhaps be impertinent to offer a conjecture on the cause of these peculiarities; which, though it should not—and indeed I am satisfied that it will not—fully account for any one of them, may, however, incline the reader to think that they are not unaccountable, and may also throw some faint light on this part of philosophy.

Every thought that partakes of the nature of passion has a correspondent expression in the look and gesture; and so strict is the union between the passion and its outward sign, that, where the former is not in some degree felt, the latter can never be perfectly natural, but if assumed, becomes awkward mimicry, instead of that genuine imitation of nature which draws forth the sympathy of the beholder. If therefore there be, in the circumstances of particular nations or persons, anything that gives a peculiarity to their passions and thoughts, it seems reasonable to expect that they will also have something peculiar in the expression of their countenance and even in the form of their features. Caius Marius, Jugurtha, Tamerlane, and some other great warriors, are celebrated for a peculiar ferocity of aspect, which they had no doubt contracted from a perpetual and unrestrained exertion of fortitude, contempt, and other violent emotions. These produced in the face their correspondent expressions, which, being often repeated, became at last as habitual to the features as the sentiments they arose from were to the heart. Savages, whose thoughts are little inured to control, have more of this significancy of look than those men who, being born and bred in civilised nations, are accustomed from their childhood to suppress every emotion that tends to interrupt the peace of society. And while the bloom of youth lasts, and the smoothness of feature peculiar to that period, the human face is less marked with any strong character than in old age. A peevish or surly stripling may elude the eye of the physiognomist; but a wicked old man, whose visage does not betray the evil temperature of his heart, must have more cunning than it would be prudent for him to acknowledge. Even by the trade or profession the human countenance may be characterised. They who employ themselves in the nicer mechanic arts, that require the earnest attention of the artist, do generally contract a fixedness of feature suited to that one uniform sentiment which engrosses them while at work. Whereas other artists, whose work requires less attention, and who may ply their trade and the Scripture to have proceeded from the author of nature, may well believe that the same difficulties exist in it as in the constitution of nature. Hence, Butler infers that he who denies the Scripture to have come from God, on account of difficulties found in it, may, for the same reason, deny the world to have been formed by Him. Inexplicable difficulties are found in the course of nature; no sound theist can therefore be surprised to find similar difficulties in the Christian religion. If both proceed from the same author, the wonder would rather be, that, even on this inferior ground of difficulty and adaptation to the comprehension of man, there should not be found the impress of the same hand, whose works we can trace but a very little way, and whose word equally transcends on some points the feeble efforts of unassisted reason. All Butler's arguments on natural and revealed religion are marked by pro

found thought and sagacity. In a volume of ser

mons published by him, he shines equally as an

ethical philosopher. In the three first, on human

nature, he has laid the science, of morals on a surer foundation than any previous writer. After show

ing that our social affections are disinterested, he proceeds to vindicate the supremacy of the moral sentiments. Man is, in his view, a law to himself;

but the intimations of this law are not to be deduced

from the strength or temporary predominance of any single appetite or passion. They are to be de

duced from the dictates of one principle, which is

evidently intended to rule over the other parts of our nature, and which issues its mandates with

authority. This master principle is conscience,

which rests upon rectitude as its object, as disinte

restedly as the social affections rest upon their ap

propriate objects, and as naturally as the appetite of hunger is satisfied with food. ' The ethical system

of Butler has been adopted by Reid, Stewart, and Brown. Sir James Mackintosh (who acknowledged

that Bishop Butler was his father in philosophy)

made an addition to it: he took the principle of utility as a test or criterion of the rectitude or vir

tue which, with Butler, he maintained to be the pro

per object of our moral affections. The life of this

eminent prelate affords a pleasing instance of talent

winning its way to distinction in the midst of diffi

culties. He was born in 1692, the son of a shop

keeper at Wantage, in Berkshire. His father was

a Presbyterian, and intended his son to be a minister of the same persuasion, but the latter conformed to

the establishment, took orders, and was successively preacher at the Rolls chapel, prebendary of Ro

chester, clerk of the closet to the queen, bishop of Bristol, and bishop of Durham. He owed much to Queen Caroline, who had a philosophical taste, and valued his talents and virtues. Butler died on the 16th of June 1752.


No literary man of this period engrossed in his own time a larger share of the attention of the learned world, not to speak of the public at large, than did WILLIAM WARBURToN, bishop of Gloucester (1698-1779). Prodigious powers of study and of expression, a bold and original way of thinking, and indomitable self-will and arrogance, were the leading characteristics of this extraordinary man, who unfortunately was too eager to astonish • and arrest the attention of mankind, to care for any more beneficial result from his literary exertions; and whose writings have, accordingly, after passing like a splendid meteor across the horizon of his own age, sunk into all but oblivion. He was the son of an attorney at Newark, and entered life in the same

profession, and at the same town, but soon saw fit

to abandon a pursuit in which it was evident he could have no success. A passion for reading led Warburton in his twenty-fifth year to adopt the |

Bishop Warburton.

clerical profession. He took deacon's orders, and by a dedication to a small and obscure volume of translations published in 1723, obtained a presentation to a small vicarage. He now threw himself amidst the inferior literary society of the metropolis, and sought for subsistence and advancement by his pen. On obtaining from a patron the rectory of Brand Broughton, in Lincolnshire, he retired thither, and devoted himself for a long series of years to reading. His first work of any note was published in 1736, under the title of Alliance between Church and State, which, though scarcely calculated to please either party in the church, was extensively read, and brought the author into notice. In the next, The Divine Legation of Moses, of which the first volume appeared in 1738, and the remaining four in the course of several years thereafter, the gigantic scholarship of Warburton shone out in all its vastness. It had often been objected to the pretensions of the Jewish religion, that it presented nowhere any acknowledgment of the principle of a future state of rewards and punishments. Warburton, who delighted in paradox, instead of attempting to deny this or explain it away, at once acknowledged it, but asserted that therein lay the strongest argument for the divine mission of Moses. To establish this point, he ransacked the whole domains of pagan antiquity, and reared such a mass of curious and confounding argument, that mankind might be said to be awed || by it into a partial concession to the author's views. He never completed the work; he became, indeed, weary of it; and perhaps the fallacy of the hypothesis was first secretly acknowledged by himself. If it had been consecrated to truth, instead of paradox, it would have been by far the most illustrious book of its age. As it is, we only look into it to wonder at its endless learning and mispent ingenuity. The merits of the author, or his worldly wisdom, brought him preferment in the church: he rose through the grades of prebend of Gloucester, prebend of Durham, and dean of Bristol, to be (1759)



Priestley are of the school of Hartley.

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in pure philosophy, and that his intellectual views are of the Hartleian school.

How truly, and at the same time how beautifully, has Tucker characterised in one short sentence his own favourite metaphysical studies! “The science of abstruse learning,” he says, “when completely attained, is like Achilles's spear, that healed the wounds it had made before. It casts no additional light upon the paths of life, but disperses the clouds with which it had overspread them; it advances not the traveller one step on his journey, but conducts him back again to the spot from whence he had wandered.’ In 1775 DR Joseph PRIESTLEY published an examination of the principles of Dr Reid and others, designed as a refutation of the doctrine of common sense, said to be employed as the test of truth by the Scottish metaphysicians. The doctrines of In 1777 he published a series of disquisitions on Matter and Spirit, in which he openly supported the material system. He also wrote in support of another

unpopular doctrine—that of necessity. He settled

in Birmingham in 1780, and officiated as minister of a dissenting congregation. His religious opinions were originally Calvinistic, but afterwards became decidedly anti-Trinitarian. His works excited so much opposition, that he ever after found it necessary, as he states, to write a pamphlet annually in their defence! Priestley was also an active and distinguished chemist, and wrote a history of discoveries relative to light and colours, a history of electricity, &c. At the period of the French Revolution in 1791, a mob of outrageous and brutal loyalists set fire to his house in Birmingham, and destroyed his library, apparatus, and specimens. Three years afterwards he emigrated to America, where he continued his studies in science and theology, and died

at Northumberland, Pennsylvania, in 1804. As an experimental philosopher, Priestley was of a superior class; but as a metaphysical or ethical writer, he can only be considered subordinate. He was a man of intrepid spirit and of unceasing industry. One of his critics (in the Edinburgh Review) draws from his writings a lively picture of ‘that indefatigable activity, that bigotted vanity, that precipitation, cheerfulness, and sincerity, which made up the character of this restless philosopher.’ Robert Hall, whose feelings as a dissenter, and an enemy to all religious intolerance and persecution, were enlisted on the side of Priestley, has thus eulogised him in one of his most eloquent sentences:— “The religious tenets of Dr Priestley appear to me erroneous in the extreme; but I should be sorry to suffer any difference of sentiment to diminish my sensibility to virtue, or my admiration of genius. His enlightened and active mind, his unwearied assiduity, the extent of his researches, the light he has poured into almost every department of science, will be the admiration of that period, when the greater part of those who have favoured, or those who have opposed him, will be alike forgotten. Distinguished merit will ever rise superior to oppression, and will draw lustre from reproach. The vapours which gather round the rising sun, and follow in its course, seldom fail at the close of it to form a magnificent theatre for its reception, and to invest with variegated tints, and with a softened effulgence, the luminary which they cannot hide.


Without much originality (excepting in one memorable instance), there was great acuteness, controversial ability, and learning displayed in the department of theology. The higher dignitaries of the church of England are generally well fitted, by education, talents, and the leisure they enjoy, for vindicating revealed religion from the attacks of all assailants; and even when the standard of duty was low among the inferior clergy, there has seldom been any want of sound polemical divines. It seems to be admitted that there was a decay of piety and zeal in the church at the time of which we are now treating. To animate this drooping spirit, and to place revelation upon the imperishable foundations of true philosophy, DR Joseph BUTLER published his great work on the Analogy of Religion to the Course of Nature, which appeared in 1736. Without entering on the question of the miracles and prophecies, Dr Butler rested his evidence on the analogies of nature: “he reasons from that part of the divine proceedings which comes under our view in the daily business of life, to that larger and more comprehensive part of these proceedings which is beyond our view, and which religion reveals.’ His argument for a future life, from the changes which the human body undergoes at birth, and in its different stages of maturity; and from the instances of the same law of nature, in the change of worms into butterflies, and birds and insects bursting the shell, and entering into a new world, furnished with new powers, is one of the most conclusive pieces of reasoning in the language. The same train of argument, in support of the immortality of the soul, has been followed up in two admirable lectures in Dr T. Brown's Philosophy. The work of Butler, however, extends over a wide field—over the whole of the leading points, both in natural and revealed religion. The germ of his treatise is contained in a passage in Origen (one of the most eminent of the fathers, who died at Tyre in the year 254), which Butler quotes in his introduction. It is to the effect that he who believes

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