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There seems, however, to be fo great a fimilarity in our fituations, as is fufficient to afford a foundation for a confiderable fimilarity in tafte; particularly in perfons whofe education and manner of life have been nearly the fame. But a ftandard of tafte, founded upon the fimilar influences which perfons fo fituated have been fubject to, cannot be applied to those perfons whofe education and manner of life have been very different. It is no wonder that a perfon accustomed to the refined fentiments of modern times cannot relish fome of the compofitions of the ancients; that what is deemed a fine taste in the Eaft, fhould not be deemed equally good in Europe; or even that what is admired in France, fhould not always meet with the fame approbation in England.

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This diverfity of taste would certainly be much more considerable at present, were it not for the easy intercourse there is between different nations, and different univerfities, particularly by means of the art of printing; by which they communicate their feveral feelings, and thereby bring their tastes nearer to a perfect fimilarity. It confirms this obfervation, that it is generally thought that fomething of the strength of the English writers is perceived in fome of the later French compofitions; and that our modern polite authors in England have acquired the delicacy and correctnefs of the French. The confequence of a freer intercourse between the eastern and western parts of the world would,

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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.

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LECTURE XVIII.

A general Account of the Pleasure we receive from

Objects that occafon a moderate Exertion of our
Faculties.

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All

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

approaches

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approaches to a ftate of pain, the lefs capable it is of a long duration. Immoderate pleasure, as it were, oppreffes, fatigues, and exhaufts the mind.

Nothing can be more evident than the truth of thefe principles, when applied to our external or corporeal fenfes. Warmth, for inftance, is a fenfation increasing in pleasure in all its gradations, from the torpid and benumbed state of the body, till it become actually hot and painful. Likewife a moderate and barely fenfible degree of warmth is agreeable through the whole courfe of our lives; but we foon grow impatient of greater degrees of warmth, though for a time they may produce a more grateful fenfation. In like manner, the limits of the pleasures of taste are, the infipid on the one hand, and the acrid and pungent on the other. Alfo the moderate pleasure which we receive from our common aliments, is always grateful; whereas viands of a high flavour, abounding with falts, which act forcibly upon the nerves appropriated to the sense of tafte, though they yield a more exquifite relifh for the time, foon cloy and difguft the palate. The fame things may be observed concerning the remaining senses of smelling, feeing, and hearing.

To these affections of the external and corporeal fenfes, those of the internal and intellectual are ftrictly analogous. Indeed, it is impoffible they fhould not be fo, if the former be the only fources of the latter; that is, if, as was hinted before, all M 2

our

our intellectual pleasures and pains consist of nothing but the simple pleasures and pains of sense, commixed and combined together in infinitelyvarious degrees and proportions, so as to be separately indistinguishable, and transferred upon foreign objects, by the principle of association.

It is observable, likewise, that a moderate exertion of our active powers is attended with a continued perception of moderate pleasure, both as it quickens the perceptive powers, and exposes us to the influence of objects that are adapted to affect our senses; but that a violent exertion is, for similar reasons, attended with pain and uneasiness. That this is equally true with respect both to the of our bodies and the faculties of our minds, is too obvious to require illustration. Indeed, it is wisely provided by Divine Providence, that both our minds and bodies are equally impatient of a state of rest and inactivity. Hence we are constantly impelled to exert ourselves with vigour in the station in which we are placed; and we can never be happy, and enjoy our being, unless we fulfil the great ends of it.

All persons, indeed, have not an equal relish for the same exercises, but in all minds there is an appetite for some or other species of it; and when once, by addicting ourselves to any kind of exercise, we have acquired a habit of it, from that time it becomes, in a manner, necessary to our happiness.

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