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nected at first with one particular country scene, will be excited, though in a fainter degree, by the view of any other country scene: and those feelings, which were originally associated with one particular school, will be revived by the sight of any other school, or even of any thing belonging to education. And, universally, objects possessed of properties common to those objects with which any sensations have been firmly associated, acquire, by their analogy to them, a power of exciting the same sensations, and consequently of affecting us in a similar manner with the objects whose properties they possess, in proportion to their resemblance.
For example ; the properties of uniformity, variety, and proportion, or a fitness to some useful end having been perceived in most of the objects with which pleasurable ideas and sensations have been associated, a complex pleasurable sensation will universally be annexed to the marks of uniformity, variety, and proportion, wherever they are perceived; so that by noting the properties which are common to those objects which affect our imaginations in an agreeable manner, we may be enabled to give an enumeration of all the species of the pleasures of imagination that we are capable of; or of pointing out the different properties, and qualities, in objects which are adapted to give us pleasure, and contribute to our entertainment in works of taste and geniuş.
Whether it will be allowed that the principle of association is the source of all the pleasures which are suggested by objects of taste, or not, it is manifest that it must have a very considerable influence in this affair, and will help us to account for much, if not all, of the variety that is observable in the tastes of different persons.
Had all minds the very fame degree of sensibility, that is, were they equally affected by the same impressions, and were we all exposed to the same influences, through the whole course of our lives, there would be no room for the least diversity of
mankind. For, in those circumstances, we should all have associated precisely the same ideas and sensations with the same objects, and the same properties of those objects; and we should feel those sentiments in the same degree. But since our situations in life, and the occurrences of our lives, are fo very various, it cannot but have happened, that different persons will have afsociated different ideas and sensations with the same objects; and, consequently, they will be differently affected upon the perception of them. Moreover, since mens minds are endued with very different degrees of sensibility, fome persons will be affected in a stronger, and some in a weaker manner, when their sensations are of the fame kind. For the same reasons, likewise, the same person is liable to be affected in a very different manner by the same objects, in different parts of his life, and in different situations and dispositions.
There seems, however, to be so great a similarity in our situations, as is sufficient to afford a foundation for a confiderable ferrilarity in taste; particularly in persons whose education and manner of life have been nearly the same. But a standard of tafte, founded upon the similar influences which persons fo situated have been subject to, cannot be applied to those persons whose education and manner of life have been very different. It is no wonder that a person accustomed to the refined sentiments of modern times cannot relish fome of the compositions of the ancients; that what is deemed a fine taste in the East, should not be deemed equally good in Europe ; or even that what is admired in France, should not always meet with the same approbation in England.
This diversity of taste would certainly be much more considerable at present, were it not for the easy intercourse there is between different nations, and different universities, particularly by means of the art of printing; by which they communicate their several feelings, and thereby bring their tastes nearer to a perfect similarity. It confirms this observation, that it is generally thought that something of the strength of the English writers is perceived in some of the later French compositions ;
and that our modern polite authors in England : have acquired the delicacy and correctness of the
French. The consequence of a freer intercourse between the eastern and western parts of the world
would, certainly, be their profiting by our taste, and our manner of composition, if not our acquiring also something more of theirs. And, from this principle, we may expect that, in consequence of the growing intercourse between all the nations 7 of the earth, and all the literati of them, an uniform and perfect standard of taste will at length be established over the whole world.
In the mean time, justness of taste will be determined by appealing to the general sense of those who have been the most conversant with the subjects of it. A deviation from this general taste will be reckoned a fault, and a coincidence with it an excellence; and the difficulty there is in ascertaining what is this medium of opinion in connoisseurs makes the business of criticism, or the standard of judging in works of genius, so vague and undetermined as it is. Persons who have not been conversant with the subjects of taste are excluded from having any vote in this case, because their minds have not been in a proper situation for receiving the ideas and sensations which are requisite to form a just taste.
A general Account of the Pleasure we receive from
Objects that occafon a moderate Exertion of our
beauties, and admired strokes in compofition, derive their excellence and fine effect, either from drawing out and exercising our faculties, by the views they present to our minds ; or else by transferring from foreign objects, by the principle of association, ideas which tend to improve the sense of a passage. In what cases the effect of composition is heightened by each of these means, and in what manner it is done, will be the subject of the following Lectures to explain.
One property essential to every thing that gives us pleasure is, that it occasions a moderate exercise of our faculties. Pleasure consists of sensations moderately vigorous. It is, therefore, capable of exist-. ing in any degree between the two extremes of perfect languor and tranquillity of mind on the one hand, and actual pain and uneafiness on the other. It is observable, likewise, that the more moderate any pleasure is, the longer continuance it is capable of; and that the more intense any pleasurable sensation is, or the more nearly it