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much employed in viewing and examining a great variety of pictures, let him be led to converse much with painters, and other connoisseurs in that
and I think one might pronounce, without any great apprehension of being mistaken, that he would, infallibly, not only acquire judgment in the productions of that art, and be able to distinguish a fine design and execution, but that he would have a relish for it, that what he approved he would admire, and that the view of it would affect him with a sensible pleasure. The same may be said with respect to music, poetry, and all the other fine arts.
Besides, it will appear very clearly, in our progress through this subject, that all the
principles of taste in works of genius, the very sources from which all these
fine pleasures are derived, are within the reach of all persons whatsoever ; and that scarce any person can pass his life in cultivated society, where the fine arts flourish, without acquiring, in a greater or less degree, a taste for some or other of them.
In fact, since all emotions excited by works of genius consist of such ideas and sensations as are capable of being associated with the perception of such works, nothing can be requisite to the acquisition of taste, but exposing the mind to a situation in which those associated ideas will be frequently presented to it. A great deal, however, depends upon the time of life, and other circumstances, in which such impressions are made upon
the mind. Youth, especially, which is favourable to all impreffions, is peculiarly favourable to thefe. But this circumftance makes a difference in degree only, and not in the nature of the thing. Some perfons may also have acquired a dislike to thefe, as well as other ftudies; but as this diflike was produced by an early affociation of ideas, so it may be overcome by oppofite affociations. It muft not be forgotten, alfo, that as our bodies in general differ with respect to their fenfibility to impressifo the texture of the brain, on which the mental faculties depend, must be subject to a fimilar difference.
I propofed in this place to fhew in what figurative and ornamented ftyle confifts. In plain unadorned ftyle every thing is called by its proper name, no more words are used than are apparently fufficient to exprefs the fenfe, and the form and order of every part of the sentence are fuch as exactly exprefs the real ftate of mind of him that uses it; not a question, for instance, being asked when the perfon who makes it is able to fupply the answer. It is enough to fay, that plain unadorned ftyle is that mode of expreffion which is the moft natural: for ftyle the moft highly ornamented, and enlivened with the strongest figures, is as natural as the plain ftyle, and occurs as naturally, without the precepts of art, and even without design, in proper circumftances.
Style may be said to be figurative when the literal interpretation, according to the usual sense of words, and the construction of them, would lead a person to mistake the sense ; as, for instance, when any thing is signified by a term which was not originally affixed to it; when the terms which are used to express any thing would, if interpreted literally, lead a person to imagine it was greater or less than it is; and when the form of the fentence is such as, when explained by the rules of grammar only, doth not truly express the state of mind of him that uses it,
Notwithstanding this, style that is merely figurative and ornamented, is far from being calculated to deceive. For whenever it is used, no other language, or mode of speechi, could give so true an idea of the state of the speaker's mind, though it is confessed to be by no means literally expressive of that state. For instance, when Virgil calls the two Scipios, the Thunderbolts of War, he makes use of an ornamented and highly figurative expression, not corresponding to his real sentiments ; for he would never have replied in the affirmative, if he had been asked seriously whether he really imagined they were two thunderbolts ; and yet, no plainer terms, though more expressive of their true character, would have given his readers so clear an idea of the force and impetuofity which he meant to ascribe to those heroes.
Again, when the fame excellent and correct poet fays that mount Etna threw its fires as high as the fars, nobody taxes him with a designed falsehood; though his expreffions be not literally true, and we are fure he could not but have been fenfible of it himfelf at the time that he made use of them but nothing short of an hyperbole could have given us a true image of the effort of his imagination, to exprefs his idea of the very great height of those flames.
Lastly, when Eneas, in the fame poet, in the midft of the relation of his adventures, comes to mention Sicily, inftead of faying, in fo many words, that his father died there, addresses himself directly to his father, and exclaims, Hic me, pater optime, feffum deferis; do any of his readers imaagine he really conceived his father to be within hearing? But no fimple narration could fufficiently have expreffed that ftrong regret, and tender affection, which the revival of his father's memory awakened in his mind. We naturally perfonify every thing that causes us much pleasure or pain, and a vivid recollection makes every thing feem prefent. Thus this direct addrefs to the dead Anchifes, though, ftrictly speaking, without the leaft foundation, gives us the trueft idea of the unfeigned grief of Æneas, and of the affecting fenfe he had of his loss, and therefore lets us into the true state of his mind; not, indeed, by a direct interpretation of his words, but in a more certain,
certain, though an indirect manner, by means of those circumstances which always accompany that State of mind.
Figurative speech, therefore, is indicative of a person's real feelings and state of mind, not by means of the words it consists of, considered as figns of separate ideas, and interpreted according alla to their common acceptation ; but as circumstances naturally attending those feelings which compose any state of mind. Those figurative expressions, therefore, are scarce considered and attended to as words, but are viewed in the same light as attitudes, gestures, and locks, which are infinitely more expressive of sentiments and feelings than words can possibly be.
Since, however, the literal impropriety of figurative expressions is excused only on account of their being considered as indications of those feelings and sentiments which no words, literally interpreted, could describe, they should never be used but when the situation of the person who uses them is such as will render those feelings and sentiments natural. Otherwise, there being nothing left to excuse and cover the impropriety of the figure, the words present nothing but the naked absurdity, and the writer is detected, either in pretending to feelings that could have no existence, or in asserting what is apparently false and contradictory. This observation may be applied to every figure of speech; and as it is an observati