Изображения страниц

on this supposition, is unmeaning province of poetry and painting to and ridiculous ; for what is the val- depicture, and the passions, which ue of principles, the application it is their province to analyze and of which depend on something unfold, remain invariable and the which is thus arbitrary and muta- same? ble? The critick, if there is no But this conclusion is not merestandard of taste, is only the legis. Jy authorized by speculation. It lator of caprice, and the lord is only on the supposition of a chancellor of whim. ] The praise, standard of taste, that we can ac. which he and the world give count for the fact, that there are to the writings, which taste has principles of judging, which have embalmed and consecrated, is pue- continued permanent and estabrile and groundless ; our admira- lished.] The origin of these prin. tion is all traditionary and inherit- ciples will not account for it, for ed, and we only repeat raptures that is just what we should sup-' already a thousand years old. pose it would be on the theory

To say, however, there exists no we advocate. La génie, says La standard of taste, seems little less Harpe, a consideré la nature,. & than to affirm, that there are no l'embellie en l'imitant, des esprits common feelings in our nature and observateurs out considéré le gén. nothing similar in the construction ie, & out dévoilé par analyse le seof our minds, It does not require cret de des merveilles. That we much philosophy to perceive, that should acquiesce in the principles beauty exists in the mind, and not thus collected, that the decisions in the object of its contemplation. of criticism in one age should be It is then obvious that, as the grand submitted to and affirmed in anothand prominent appearances of ex- er, is surely inconsistent with any ternal nature do not change, if other supposition, than that they there were an essential diversity are founded on the constitution of in our relish for them, it could a. our common nature. It is unnecrise only from the variety and mu- essary to attempt to prove that tability of our perceptions. But there is such acquiscence, for who the rose is as sweet to you as to will deny, that Longinus and Quinme. We differ not in our wonder tilian are arbiters of elegance now, a what is sublime, or our delight equally as among the ancients, and in what is beautiful in nature ; that whatever was sublime or beauthough there is not equality in our tiful to them continues so to us. feelings, there is no discordance. It is however in taste, as it is, in H then our perceptions of pleas, some degree, in morals ; though ure are similar, though unequal, its general and essential principles we must believe, that there are are immutable and unquestionable, some common principles of judg. yet their application to individual ing of the perfection of those arts, instances is not a little fluctuating. which profess to imitate the ob- We shall accordingly be told of the jects that produce our perceptions. opposing sentiments, and still ag: If we grant any identity in the for- itated controversies among men of b2tion of our minds, can we for taste ; and that deep fixed as these tar to conclude, that mankind principles may be, they do not se, must retain these principles as cure even criticks from deception. leag as nature, which it is the We shall be told of the success of the forgery of Sigonius,* and re- as it is indisputable. Sir Joshua minded that a boy of eighteen,t in Reynolds* relates of himself, that the eighteenth century, when the at his first visit to the Vatican he idolatry of Shakespeare was at its walked about it for a long time, height, successfully imposed Vor- surveying with delight the various tigern on Parr and half the En- paintings which adorned it ; till glish nation, as a genuine relick of at length, after he had been fa. the bard of Avon. If, indeed, in tigued by the toil of admiration, the days of Cicero, they disputed he inquired of his guide for the on the nature of Atticism, and the works of Raffaelle, and was coolly orator was accused of a style vitia- informed, that the first paintings ted and Asiatick ; if Seneca and he had been shown, and which he Tacitus are pronounced the cor. had passed by, almost without ex. ruptors of Roman taste, and Fon- amination, were the works of that tenelle in France, and Johnson and surpassing genius, who is to AnGibbon in England, receive a sim- gelo what Virgil is to Homer. He ilar sentence from criticks of no adds, that he was by no means in. vulgar rank, he must be a strong. duced to dispute the justice of the nerved controversialist, who will sentence, which had so long given assert that the philosophy of taste Raffaelle his rank ; but suspect. is completely understood. Still, ing his own judgment, he sat down because their application is not un- to the study of his works, and it erring, it is no proof that principles length disciplined his mind to acare not fixed, and if this diversity quiescence in the decision. can be accounted for, the theory If it be granted then that taste will remain unshaken.

is factitious, it is placed on the (The common notion of the na- same foundation, as the other facul. ture of taste, that it is an original ties of the mind, and the varieties and distinct faculty, or rather a of taste are to be explained on precertain indefinable instinct, which cisely the same principles, as the discriminates by feeling and de- varieties of reason and judgment.) cides by impulse, is not perhaps We might as well say, that morals very philosophical. We will not are baseless and fortuitous, because undertake to puzzle our readers men dispute on them, as to say, and ourselves with a metaphysical that taste has no laws, because all refutation of the opinion from the do not assent to them. Indeed we

construction and laws of the mind, have here a foundation for what, (The palpable fact, that taste is after all, we find true in fact, for matured and perfected by expe; greater permanency in the decis. rience, as it accounts for the pro. ions of taste, when once made, than duction of it on principles exactly in those of reason and judgment. analogous to that of all the other for the passions, on the delineapowers of the mind, is of itself tion and colouring of which so sufficient.

much of the influence of poetry The fact,which is here assumed, and elegance depends, are infinitewill I presume be conceded, but, ly less variable in their operations, to destroy the possibility of doubt, than the judgment and reason. We I will produce a proof as decisive accordingly find that while systems

* The author of the tract, De Consolatione, usually printed among the works of Cicero.


# Life by Malone. This account is quoted from memory, but is, I believe, substantially correct.

of recondite science fade away and orously limited, as to exclude from are forgotten, the language of na- the list of fine writers Seneca or ture and of passion is eternally the Tacitus, Fontenelle or Gibbon ; same. The philosophical theories still less for one which would exof the ancients are now neglected, clude any felicity of invention, or or regarded only for the beauties frolick of fancy, because it departs of the style in which they are con- from its laws, or which would canveyed; but their poetry and elc- onize feebleness and triviality, bequence still find an echo in every cause they do not offend them. The breast, the creations of their fancy fine arts have some beauties, such are still warm and breathing with as the French call finesses, which, life, still sparkling and ruddy with from accidental circumstances, are undecaying youth.

more or less praised in different LIt would be easy to enumerate ages, but their grand and essential some of the secondary causes of beauties are, I believe, regulated the diversities of taste, such as the by laws, as invariable as nature itdifferent degrees of original sensi. self. To me this is not merely a bility, and the accidental associa- question of curious speculation ; tions of peculiar situations. But I for if I doubted the existence of a forbear, for the Remarker is al standard of taste, I should lose ready more than suspected of be- much glow while I read, and all ing rather long-breathed ; and trembling when I write; I should some of our Juvenals will begin to lose too, while I meditate the great exclaim against this indefatigable masters of taste, all the compladescendant of Orestes. Let me cency, which arises from the whisonly observe, that I am far from per of vanity, that I may hereafter contending for a standard so rig- be worthy to praise them.

[ocr errors]


SILVA. Nempe inter varias nutritur Silva columnas....Hon. BURNS AND BLOOMFIELD. bered the man, it was to regret, These two poets appeared near that fortune had not been more ly at the same time. Both com- propitious, and saved him from bated the disadvantages of low those temptations, which he was birth, and the want of education ; unable to resist. The advocates and the powers of both expanded of Bloomfield advance, that the unassisted by the genial warmth of narrow cell of a cobler's stall is less patronage, till they excited the at- propitious to the expansion of getention, and procured the favour of nius, than the open fields, where the publick. But here the resem- the mind is easily drawn by the blance ceases. Bloomfield has al- beauties of nature to leave the ready outlived his reputation ; but plough, and walk in her flowery the reputation of Burns still in- paths. But his poems exhibit no creased, though he was himself the proof of a mind equal to conceivcause of his miserable end. His ing those beauties, which abound genius, full of fire and feeling, made in Burns. The applause of his us forget his foibles. We thought fellow apprentices for a few happy only on the poet, or if we remem- rhymes might easily lead him to

give his leisure moments to writ- its greatest admirer. Though full ing verses ; and without possess of the flashings of genius, and the ing that genius, of whose power observations of an acute underwe hear so much, and see so little, standing, it wants interest to keep he might produce a poem, which, ' attention alive. The novelty of considering the disadvantages un- language soon wears oft. The der which he laboured, would pro- unexpected resemblance between duce surprise. The hand of pat- dissimilar objects, and the peculiar ronage would be extended by those, mode of viewing them, at first dewho are desirous to bring forward lights, but soon fatigues ; and we talents and merit ; and the voice of look in vain for incidents, upon criticism would be silenced by a which to rest our wearied imaginreference to his former circum- ation. We find ourselves lost in stances. But comparative merit a wilderness of flowers ; and when cannot be allowed in the republick satiated with admiring their singuof letters. Authors must be final- lar form, and varied tints, we rely judged by their works alone. flect, that we are not advancing The few beauties, which we find towards the end of our journey ; in Bloomfield, cannot palliate his our guide, instead of relieving us faults. A momentary gleam may by pointing out the object, to which burst through the thick darkness; we should be advancing, only pre but the prospect is gloomy, and we sents us with a fresh nosegay. are eager to quit the dreary scene. This want of interest can but in Should his genius be as prolifick part be attributed to the local subas was Rhea, Saturn is as insatia- ject of the work. The satires of ble as ever to destroy the off- Swift and Pope afford us great spring as soon as born ; and no de- pleasure in the perusal, though ceit will now save a favourite pro- Dennis and Wood are known to duction from his ruthless tooth. us but from these authors. And The genius of Buns struggled though the characters of the Enagainst poverty and the insolence glish revolution are uncommon, of petty office ; but rose superiour and such as are rarely exhibited to every obstacle. We labour upon the theatre of the world, with pleasure through a barbarous yet the sanie desire of overturning glossary, that we may fully relish every thing established by age led his beauties. We learn his lan- the French to imitate the English guage and become his country- in their revolution ; and when evman, that we may enjoy the inno- ery thing of importance had been cent pleasures of the cotter's Sat- overthrown, to turn their zeal to urday night.

things of no consequence. We

therefore find many observations HUDIBRAS.

in Hudibras, which may with proThe excellence of this work is priety be applied to the scenes, no longer questioned. The seal that have lately been exhibited in of merit has been affixed to it by France. Much therefore of the the hand of time ; and few are so want of interest in this poem must hardy, as to question his decrees. be attributed to its radical defects, Every one would be thought paucity of incidents and to its beacquainted with it, yet I doubt, ing unconnected. The judgment whether it ever produced suffi- of Johnson has corrected the critia cient interest to spoil a dinner for cism of Dryden, who thought the

work would have been improved shall not be induced to follow, by heroick metre. But it may This mode of writing may be sucsuill remain a doubt, whether the cessfully used, where we mean to same talents and judgment differ- satirize on objects mean and temently employed might not have porary. We may caricature, produced a more interesting pice though we can hardly draw a picture of the manners and conduct ture, in Hudibrastick verse. The of the fanaticks of the English passing follies of the hour may be revolution.

ridiculed in this verse ; and we are

pleased to see an author succeed IMITATION OF HUDIBRAS. in holding up to derision in it chaJOHNSON say in his life of But- racters who, with the bad princiler, “ Nor even should another ples of the day, endanger our civil Butler arise, would another Hu- and political safety. But, not condibras obtain the same regard.” tent with rendering to Cæsar the But neither this prediction, nor things that are Cæsar's, many of the fate of all their predecessors our criticks, with more patriotism lost in the same path, can deter than judgment, so surcharge with many from seeking immortality flattery every American publicaby following the same footsteps. tion, as to disgust even our vitiaWithout possessing the genius of ted palates. We were led to this Butler, which illumines every page, remark by lately seeing in our paof his works, his imitators assume pers a selection from the Port Fohis dress, and think, under the lio upon Democracy Unveiled ; in name of Hudibrastick verse, they which Mr. Fessenden is ranked may conceal poverty of thought before Butler, and has Churchill and grossness of language. But and the first English satirists pla. as it is easy to ape the trifling pe- ced by his side. We could not but culiarities of great men, it should regret, that so useful an author, be remembered, that, as great and one who has afforded us so qualities seem more conspicuous much pleasure, should thus have by the neglect of trifles, every his feelings injured by injudicious thing is wanting, where those praise. He seems not to have cast qualities are not to be found. The a look at immortality ; but to have paintings of genius will attract ad- been content with having merited miration, whether they modestly the applause of his country, and i display their beauties in simple of his own heart, for promoting colours, or are tricked off in a the cause of virtue and of good court dress ; but a splendid frame government. must draw the eye of obseryation from a mere daub. Familiar lan

FEMALE EDUCATION. guage, neglected verse, and low Could one of our pious ancesimagery, are not sufficient to bring tors, who first landed on these to our minds the muse of Butler. shores, by some magick spell be We may without effort be induced raised from the grave, where he to glide down the silent stream of had reposed for years, his astonmodern poetry, where we are only ishment, at the present manners of guided by industrious imitation. Our ladies, would no doubt be very But over a rugged road some su- great. He would no longer, as in periour power must lead us, or we his day, find ladies employed in

Vol. III. No. 3. R

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »