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• The one enables a writer or an artist to rise superior to the times in which he lives, and emboldens him to trust his reputation to the suffrages of the human race, and of the ages which are yet to come. The other is the foundation of that humbler, though more profitable sagacity, which teaches the possessor how to suit his manufactures to the market; to judge, beforehand, of the reception which any new production is to meet with, and to regulate his exertions accord. ingly. Its proper sphere is such a capital as London or Paris. It is there that the judges are to be found, from whose decision it acknowledges no appeal; and it is in such a situation alone, that it can be cultivated with advantage.
- The groundwork of this last species of taste (if it deserves the bame) is a certain facility of association, acquired by early and constant intercourse with society ; more particularly, with those classes of society who are looked up to as supreme legislators in matters of fashion ; a habit of mind, the tendency of which is to render the sense of the Beautiful (as well as the sense of what is right and wrong) easily susceptible of modification from the contagion of example. It is a habit by no means inconsistent with a certain degree of original sensibility; nay, it requires, perhaps, some original sensibility as its basis : but this sensibility, in consequence of the habit which it has itself contributed to establish, soon becomes transient and use. less ; losing all connexion with reason and the moral principles, and alive only to such impressions as fashion recognizes and sanctions. The other species of taste, founded on the study of Universal Beauty (and which, for the sake of distinction, I shall call Philosophical Taste), implies a sensibility, deep and permanent, to those objects of affection, admiration and reverence, which interested the youthful heart, while yet a stranger to the opinions and ways of the world. Its most distinguishing characteristics, accordingly, are strong domestic, and local attachments, accompanied with that enthusiastic love of nature, simplicity and truth, which, in every department, both of art and of science, is the best and surest presage of genius. It is this sensibility that gives rise to the habits of attentive observation by which such a taste can alone be formed ; and it is this also that, binding and perpetuating the associations which such a taste supposes, fortifies the mind against the fleeting caprices which the votaries of fashion watch and obey.' p. 469-471.
From this masterly exposition of the true nature of Taste, it is perfectly easy to understand how it may be possessed, or appear to be possessed, in very considerable perfection, by individuals who have but a very faint perception of beauty, and how men should ofien be able to point out faults with accuracy, who appear to derive no pleasure from the consideration of excellence. In such minds, there is great reason to suppose, that the rules by which they judge, are not the natural growth of their own judgment and experience, but have been derived, by study and imi
tation, tation, from those by whom they have been successively invented. By far the greater part of men are satisfied with the current and traditionary taste of the age in which they live, and such of them as wish for the glory of connoisseurs, very commonly obtain it at no greater cost than the study of the technical rules and maxims which they find established around them.
. Such rules,' Mr Stewart has excellently observed, though often abused, are not without their value; for, although they can never supply the want of natural sensibility, or inspire a relish for beauty in a mind insensible, to it before, they may yet point out many of the faults which an artist ought to avoid, and teach those critics how to censure, who are incapable of being taught how to admire. They may even communicate to such a critic, some degree of that secondary pleasure which was formerly men. tioned as peculiar to taste; the pleasure of remarking the coincidence between the execution of an artist, and the established rules of his art; or, if he should himself aspire to be an artist, they may enable him to produce what will not much offend, if it should fail to please. What is commonly called fastidiousness of taste, is an affectation chiefly observable in persons of this description; being the natural effect of habits of common.place criticism on an eye blind to the perception of the beautiful.' p. 480.
Where taste is native and indigenous, however cultivated by ftudy and observation, Mr Stewart is of opinion, that it will always be more strongly disposed to the enjoyment of beauties, than to the detection of blemishes. "That it will seize eagerly on every " touch of genius with the sympathy of kindred affection; and, • in the secret consciousness of a congenial inspiration, shares, in
some measure, the triumph of the artist. "The faults which ! have escaped him, it views with the partiality of friendship;
! and willingly abandons the censorial office to those who exult i ' in the errors of superior minds as their appropriate and easy
prey.' p. 485.
An idolatrous devotion to particular models-and, above all, the finifter, though often unsuspected influences of literary jealousy, or political or personal hostility, frequently blind and mislead the decisions of the most coníunimate judges. It is only,' as Mr Stewart has well remarked, 'when the mind is perfectly serene,
that decisions of this delicate faculty can be implicitly relied on. In these nicest af all operations of the intellect, where the grounds of judgment are often fo shadowy and complicated, the latent sources of error are numberless; and to guard against " them, it is neceffary that no circumstance, however trifling, ''fhould occur, either io discompose the feelings, or to miflead the (undtrítanding.' (p.491.) He exemplifies this in the general malignant cast of Johnlon's criticisms in his Lives of the Poets; and adds this other more striking and less notorious instance _“Thom
« son has lately published a poem called the Castle of Indolence, “ in which there are some good stanzas." Who could have ex
pected this fentence from the pen of Gray ? || In an ordinary critic, pofTeffed of one hundredth part of his fenfibility and talte, such total indifference to the beauties of this exquisite pesformance would be utterly impossible.'
After enlarging a little further on this humiliating cause of false judgment, Mr Stewart thinks it neceffary to make an apology for thole inestimable observations, as pointing at some sources of falle
taste, overlooked in our common systems of criticism ; and which, • however compatible with many of the rarest and most precious • gifts of the understanding, are inconsistent with that unclouded ' reason, that unperverted sensibility, and that unconquerable can• dour, which mark a comprehensive, an upright, and an elevated mind.' (p. 494.) And closes his generous and high minded re. monstrance with this powerful appeal
• Why do not men of superior talents, if they should not always aspire to the praise of a candour so heroic, strive at least, for the honour of the arts which they love, to conceal their ignoble jealou. sies from the malignity of those, whom incapacity and mortified pride have leagued together, as the covenanted foes of worth and genius? What a triumph has been furnished to the writers who delight in levelling all the proud distinctions of Humanity; and what a stain has been left on some of the fairest pages of our liter. ary history, by the irritable passions and petty hostilities of Pope and of Addison !' p. 495.
The concluding Exay is' on the cultivation of certain intel·lectual habits connected with the elements of taste ;' and need not detain us long, after the ample survey we have already taken of the subjects by which it is suggested. The main object of the author is to recommend to the attention of all persons who have leisure for such pursuits, the pleasures that may be derived from a diligent cultivation of those habits of mind by which the principles of taste are gradually developed or improved; and to point out the means by which this may be successfully accomplished, even in the case of those whose days have been hitherto engroffed with cares or studies of a very different description. Without some degree of taste for the beauties of nature, our intellectual frame is incomplete and mutilated ; and this taste, when once acquired, leads, by an easy transition, to all the other pleafures of which the imagination is the organ or foundation. The culture of the imagination, therefore, becomes a most important VOL. XVII. NO. 33.
| Mr Stewart night have found a still stronger example of portentous misjudgment in the letters of the celebrated Waller ; who speaks thos of the firft appearance of Paradise Loll. The old blind school master, John Milton, hath published a tedious • poem on the fall of Man--if its length be not considered as mcrit, it has no other!
part of that wise and generous education that looks to the whole -future happiness of its objects. But it is not to the young only that these invaluable leffons may be effectually addressed : and though we cannot afford room to lay before our readers any view of the culture by which Mr Stewart thinks that this later spring of the soul may be successfully brought on, we shall close our extracts with the following animated picture of the delights which it is calculated to bestow-over the whole of which, the cultivated fancy and affectionate earneftness of the author have enabled him to throw so warm and captivating a colouring.
Nor is it to the young alone, that I would confine these observations. Instances have frequently occurred of individuals, in . whom the Power of Imagination has, at a more advanced period of life, been found susceptible of culture to a wonderful degree. In such men, what an accession is gained to their most refined pleasures! What enchantments are added to their most ordinary perceptions! The mind, awakening, as if from a trance, to a new ex. istence, becomes habituated to the most interesting aspects of life and of nature; the intellectual eye is a purged of its film ;” and things the most familiar and unnoticed, disclose charms invisible before. The same objects and events which were lately beheld with indifference, occupy now all the powers and capacities of the soul ; the contrast between the present and the past, serving only to enhance and to endear so unlooked for an acquisition. What Gray has so finely said of the pleasures of vicissitude, conveys but a faint image of what is experienced by the man, who, after having lost, in vulgar occupations and vulgar amusements, his earliest and most precious years, is thus introduced at last to a new heaven and a new earth..
“ The meanest flowret of the vale,
" To him are op'ning Paradise. » < The effects of foreign travel have been often remarked, not only in rousing the curiosity of the traveller while abroad, but in correcting, after his return, whatever habits of inattention he had contracted to the institutions and manners among which he was bred. It is in a way somewhat analogous, that our occasional excursions into the regions of imagination, increase our interest in those familiar realities from which the stores of imagination are borrowed. We learn insensibly tỏ view nature with the eye of the painter and of the poet, and to seize those “ happy attitudes of things” which their taste at first selected; while, enriched with the accumulations of ages, and with “ the spoils of time,” we unconsciously combine with what we see, all that we know, and all that we feel ; and sublime the organical beauties of the material world, by blending with them the inexhaustible delights of the heart and of the fancy.' P. 508, 510.
The remainder of the Essay consists chiefly in observations on the important part which reason has to perform in preparing and
exalting the pleasures of imagination ; and in combating the vula gar opinion, that those pleasures, and the powers from which they are derived, are to be found in the greatest perfection, either in early youth, or in rude and barbarous periods of society. For the details of these speculations, and of all the curious and miscellaneous information that is to be derived from the notes and illustrations, we must now, however, refer the reader to the work itself.
Our general opinion of the merit of this volume, may be gathered from the length of the examination which we have been induced to bestow upon it. We regard it, indeed, as one of the most unequivocal productions of a powerful and an accomplished mind, that has ever fallen under our survey; and one, also, of those fortunate productions, which cannot be studied or admired without benefit both to the taste and the understanding. There are faults, however, in the execution, which it is our duty to point out. The style is too solemn and diffuse for the title of Essays ;-and there is rather too much apology, though very gracefully delivered, and too much reference to the books which the author has written, and the books he proposes to write. A more radical fault, perhaps, is the want of continuity and conciseness in the statement of the argument. The whole of the author's design, and the grounds of it, are no where opened up at once ; and when the curiosity and interest of the reader is raised to the highest pitch, by his visible approach to the most important part of the discussion, he is suddenly mortified with an intimation, that that part is postponed to another chapter, or even to a future publication. The style, our readers will easily see from the extracts we have given, is beautiful and flowing ; though, perhaps, rather more remote from vivacity, or familiari. ty, than is suitable to the taste of this irreverent generation. We had noted some phrases that appeared to us to be ungraceful or inaccurate ; but have mislaid our references ; and can only now remember, that we were hurt at the word ' sphericity;' and dissatisfied with the phrase, of the mind · being ascertained of certain facts or phenomena."
Art. X. AIEXYAOI NOMHOEYE AESMOTHE. Æschyli Pro
metheus Vinctus. Ad Fidem Manuscriptorum emendavit, Notas et Glossarium adjecit, Carolus Jacobus Blomfield A B. Collegii SS. Trinitatis apud Cantabrigienses Socius. Cantabrigiæ, Typis ac Sumptibus academicis excudit J. Smith. MDCCCX. pp. 160. In our twenty-ninth and thirtieth Numbers, we have given some account of that part of Mr Butler's elaborate edition of Æs