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THE NEW YORK
R 1929 L
Eastern District of Pennsylvania, to wit:
BE IT REMEMBERED, That on the twenty-second day of
October, in the fifty-fifth year of the Independence of the United L. S. , ****** the said District, have deposited in this office the title of a Book, the right whereof they claim as Proprietors, in the words following, to wit:
“An Abridgment of Elements of Criticism. By the Honorable HENRY HOME of Kames. Edited by JOHN FROST, A. M."
In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States, entitled, “An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts and books to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned." And also to the Act entitled, “An Act supplementary to an Act, entitled, “ An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts and books to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned,' and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints.”
D. CALDWELL, Clerk of the
Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
THE AMERICAN EDITOR.
In preparing the present abridgment of Lord Kames's Elements of Criticism for publication, free use has been made of Jamieson's abridgment, published in London in 1823. It has been found necessary, however, to deviate from his plan in several particulars.
The size of the book has been considerably reduced, by omitting portions of which the practical utility was not sufficiently apparent to justify their being retained in a work intended for general use.
All quotations of which the delicacy was in the slightest degree questionable, have been omitted, as also quotations in the ancient and foreign languages.
Certain of the terms used by Lord Kames in explaining the passions and emotions, have been altered with reference to the advanced state of intellectual philosophy.
Questions have been attached to the whole work, with a view to direct the attention of the student to the leading principles and their illus- , trations. Some instructers, of course, will dispense with these in examining their pupils, and question them, in their own way, on the text: but it is presumed that the value of the work will not be diminished, even for these instructers, by the addition of the questions.
The mode, in which the examples are to be recited, and their fitness pointed out, by the pupil, must of course be left to the judgment of the instructer.
The Editor indulges the hope, that the present attempt to bring a standard work of criticism within reach of the inmates of our common schools and academies, may meet with the approbation of those of his fellow-citizens who feel interested in the important subject of general education.
The design of the present undertaking 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 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 entirely to sentiment or feeling, without interposing any sort of judgment, poetry, music and 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 prin. ciples, and giving scope to judgment as well as to fancy, the fine arts are a favorite entertainment; and in old age they maintain that relish which they produce in the morning of life.
In the next place, a philosophic inquiry into the principles of the fine arts, inures the reflecting mind to the most enticing sort of logic: the practice of reasoning upon subjects so agreeable, tends to a habit; and a habit, strengthening the reasoning faculties, prepares the mind for entering into subjects more intricate and abstract. To have, in that respect, a just conception of the importance of criticism, we need but reflect upon the common method of education; which, after some years spent in acquiring languages, hurries us, without the least, preparatory discipline,
into the most profound philosophy. A more effectual method to alienate the tender mind from abstract science, is beyond the reach of invention: and accordingly, with respect to such speculations, the bulk of our youth contract a sort of hobgoblin terror, which is seldom if ever subdued. Those who apply to the arts, are trained in a very different manner: they are led, step by step, from the easier parts of the operation, to what are more difficult; and are not permitted to make a new motion till they are perfected in those which go before. Thus the science of criticism may be considered as a middle link, connecting the different parts of education into a regular chain. This science furnishes an inviting opportunity to exercise the judgment: we delight to reason upon subjects that are equally pleasant and familiar: we proceed gradually from the simpler to the more involved cases: and in a due course of discipline, custom, which improves all our facul. ties, bestows acuteness on that of reason, sufficient to unravel all the intricacies of philosophy.
Nor ought it to be overlooked, that the reasonings employed on the fine arts, are of the same kind with those which regulate our conduct. Mathematical and metaphysical reasonings have no tendency to improve social intercourse; nor are they applicable to the common affairs of life: but a just taste of the fine arts, derived from rational principles, furnishes elegant subjects for conversation, and prepares us for acting in the social state with dignity and propriety.
The science of rational criticism tends to improve the heart no. less than the understanding. It tends, in the first place, to moderate the selfish affections : by sweetening and harmonizing the temper, it is a strong antidote to the turbulence of passion and violence of pursuit: it procures to a man so much mental enjoyment, that in order to be occupied, he is not tempted to deliver up his youth to hunting, gaming, drinking ; nor his middle age to ambition ; nor his old age to avarice. Pride and envy, two disgustful passions, find in the constitution no enemy more formidable than a delicate and discerning taste: the man upon whom nature and culture have bestowed this blessing, feels great delight in the virtuous dispositions and actions of others : he loves to cherish them, and to publish them to the world : faults and failings, it is true, are to him not less obvious; but these he avoids, or removes out of sight, because they give him pain. On the other hand, a man -void of taste, upon whom even striking