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rance and infirmity. No master 'as positive all the relatire qualities so easy to please as God, if men of the soul, which renders those will but serve him with all their dialogues in which Plato makes heart. To do a wrong thing is dif- Socrates reason, (dialogues so ficult, there is no rule nor direction much admired by the ancients) at by which to do it, it is all experi. present unwarrantable, because ment and hazard; to prevaricate, they are founded upon false phito shuffle, to frame a lie, it is all losophy. For all those arguments hard and difficult ; and never ef. drawn from the good, the beautiful, sected, never made, it is always the perfect, the wise, the simple, dropping to pieces, always wants the hard, the soft, the dry, the wet, mending ; and the farther you go treated as things positive, have no with it the worse it is, and at last it real signification. brings shame and defeat. But to The sources of beauty, good. do a right thing, to speak the truth, ness, agreeableness, &c., are then for this, there is a perfect rule, and within ourselves; and to ascertain a Judge that will vindicate you in the reasons of it, we must search well doing.- 1b.
for the causes of the pleasures of the soul.
AN ESSAY ON TASTE,
the Christian Spectator, by ONE
of The Bar. Chap. 1.-Of Taste in things of
nature and art. In our mode of actual existence, the soul enjoys three kinds of pleasures. There are those which it derives from the nature of its existence, others which result from its union with the body, others, finally, which depend on the habits and prejudices formed from certain institutions, certain usages and custoins.
They are those different pleasures of the soul which form the objects of taste, as beauty, goodness, agreeableness, simplicity, delicacy, tenderness, gracefulness, the I know not what, nobleness, greatness, sublimity, majesty, &c. For example: when we find pleasure in seeing a thing which is useful for us, we say that it is good. When we derive pleasure from seeing it, without perceiving in it any present utility, we call it beau. tiful.
The ancients did not perfectly understand this. They considered
CHAP. II.-Of the pleasures of the
soul. The soul, besides the pleasures it derives from the senses, has some which must be independent of them, and which are peculiar to itself. Such are those derived from curiosity, ideas of its greatness, the idea of its existence contrasted with a state of torpor, the pleasure of embracing the whole of a general idea, that of seeing a great number of things at once, &c. ; that of comparing, joining, and separating ideas. These pleasures are, in the nature of the soul, indeo independent of the senses.
It is pleasant to know the source of pleasures which are measured by the Taste. A knowledge of natural and acquired pleasures helps to correct our natural and acquired taste.* We must go
* The author means by natural pleasures, those which the soul enjoys in. dependently of its connexion with the body--such as he enumerates in the beginning of this chapter : by acquired pleasures he intends those which the soul enjoys through the medium of the senses. In the same manner, and for the same reason, he distinguishes between natural and acquired taste.
out of our state of existence, and formity between them and us beascertain whạt are its pleasures, to ing changed, those things which be able to measure those pleasures, in the present state have a certain and sometimes even to perceive effect upon us, would have their them.
effect no longer; and as the perIf the soul had not been united fection of the arts is to present with a body, it would have had con- things to us in that shape which sciousness, but it seems that it will give us the most pleasure poswould have loved that which it sible, a change in the arts would be had known. At present, we love required, since they should be in scarcely any thing which we have the form most proper to give us known.
pleasure. Our manner of existence is whol. It is believed that it is sufficient ly arbitrary. We could have been to know the various sources of our made as we are, or otherwise. pleasures, to have taste ; and that But if we had been made otherwise, when one has read what philosowe should have had different per- phy teaches us on the subject, he ceptions. One organ more or less will have taste, and can confidentin our machine would have made ly criticise works. But natural another thing eloquence, and anoth- taste is not theoretical knowledge. er thing poetry. One contexture It is a ready and nice application different in the same organs, would of rules of which one is ignorant. have made poetry still a different It is not necessary to know that thing. For example, if the con- the pleasure we derive from any stitution of our organs had render- thing we find beautiful, should ed us capable of longer attention, come from surprise. It is suffiall the rules which proportion the cient that we are surprised; and disposition of the subject to the that we are surprised exactly as measure of our attention, would much as is necessary. no longer apply. If we had been Thus, all we can say here, and made more capable of penetration, all the rules we can give for formall the rules which are founded on ing the taste, regards acquired the measure of our penetration, taste only: that is to say; it diwould also fail. Finally, all the laws, rectly regards acquired, although founded upon the established for at the same time it indirectly reof our machine, would have been lates to natural taste. For the different, if our machine were not acquired taste affects, changes, of that particular formation. augments, and diminishes the nat.
If our sight had been more in- ural: so the natural affects, chandistinct or confused, less mould. ges, augments, and diminishes the ings and more uniformity would cquired. have been necessary in the mem l'he most general definition of bers of architecture. If it had taste, without considering whebeen more distinct, and our soul ther it is good or bad, just or uncapable of embracing more things just, is, that which attaches us to at once, more ornaments in archi- a thing by feeling ; that which may tecture would have been requisite. be applied to intellectual things, If our ears had been made like the knowledge of which gives so those of certain animals, our in- much pleasure to the soul, that it struments of music would have was the only happiness which cerrequired a different formation. tain philosophers could compre.
I know indeed that the conformi- hend. ties which exist between things The soul knows by its ideas and might have continued, but the con- feelings, it receives pleasure from
those ideas and feelings; for al- this we can explain the reason why though we contrast the idea with we have pleasure in viewing a well the feeling, yet when the soul regulated garden, and also when we sees a thing it feels it ; and there see a rough and rugged place. It is nothing so intellectual that the is the same cause which produces soul does not see, or think it sees these effects. it, and consequently feels it.
As we love to see a great num
ber of objects, we desire to exCHAP. III.-Of mind in general. tend our view, to be in many pla
The mind is a genus compre- ces, to run over more space ; finalhending many species ; genius, ly, the soul escapes the bounds, and good sense, discernment, exact- would, so to speak, extend the ness, talent, taste. The mind sphere of its presence ; thus it consists in having the organs affords it great pleasure to extend well constituted relative to things its view. where it is applied. If the thing But how shall it be done? In is extremely particular, it is called the city ? Our view is limited by talent ; if it relates more to a cer- houses. In the country? It is obtain delicate pleasure of mankind, structed by a thousand obstacles. it is called taste ; if the particular We can scarcely see three or four thing is unique among a people, trees. Art comes to our aid, and the talent is called spirit-as the discovers nature, who conceals art of war and agriculture among herself. We love art, and we the Romans, the chase among the love it better than nature, that is, savages, &c.
nature concealed from our eyes.
But when we find beautiful situaCHAP. IV. Of Curiosity. tions, when our sight unobstructOur soul is made to think ; that ed can view far and near, brooks, is to say, to perceive; but such a hills, and those dispositions which, being should have curiosity ; for as so to speak, are purposely created, all things are in a chain, where ev- we are much more enchanted than ery idea precedes one and follows when looking at the gardens of Noanother ; it cannot love to see one tre; because nature never copies, thing, without desiring to see whereas art always resembles itself. another; and if we had not that It is for this that in painting desire for the latter, we should not we prefer a landscape to the plan have had any pleasure from the for- of the most beautiful garden in the mer. Thus when one part of a world. It is because the painter picture has been shown to us, we never takes nature only, except wish to see that part which is con- where she is beautiful, where the cealed from us in proportion to the view may be distant and extensive, pleasure we derived from that where it is variegated, where it which we have seen.
may be seen with pleasore. It is, therefore, the pleasure That which ordinarily constiwhich one object has given us, which tutes a great thought, is, when a bears us on towards another. It is thing which is spoken brings to on this account that the soul is view a great number of others, ever in search of novelties, and and discloses at once what we never quiet.
could not expect to learn but from Thus one will always be sure of much reading. pleasing the soul, who will pre- Florus gives us in a few words all sent many things to its view, or Hannibal's faults : "when he can, more than it expected to see: By (says he,) make use of a victory,
he prefers to enjoy it. Cum vic- Chap. VI.-Of the pleasures of toria posset uti , frui maluit.
Variety. He gives us an idea of the whole But if order in things is necessaMacedonian war when he says ry, so also is variety. Without To have entered the territory, this, the soul languishes ; for things was victory-Introisse victoria fuit. similar appear to be the same, and He gives the whole view of the if a part of a picture which we life of Scipio, where he says of his see, resembles another which we youth, This is the Scipio who have seen, that object will be new grows up for the destruction of without appearing to be so, and Africa-Hic erit Scipio qui in ex- will give no pleasure ; and as the itium Africae crescit. We think beauties of works of art, like those we see a child who grows and ri- of nature, consist in the pleasures ses like a giant.— Finally he exhib- which they give, they must be its the great character of Hanni- made as fit as possible to vary those bal, the condition of the world, pleasures, to present to the soul and all the greatness of the Ro. things which it has not seen, that man people, when he says, Hanni- the feelings which they cause may bal, a fugitive from Africa, sought be different from those which it throughout the world, an enemy to has before experienced. It is thus the Romans.—Qui profugus ex that histories please us by the variAfrica, hostem populo Romano ety of narrations; romances, by toto orbe quaerebat.
the variety of wonders ; dramatic
pieces, by the beauty of passions, CHAP. V.-Of the pleasures of and that those who know how to Order.
instruct may regulate as much as It is not sufficient to show the possible the uniform mode of ed. mind many things, but they must ucation. be presented with order ; for then A continued uniformity renders we remember what we have seen, every thing insupportable. The and begin to imagine what we shall same order of periods long consee. Our soul congratulates itself tinued, is tedious in an oration. on its extension and penetration. The same numbers and the same But in a work where there is no cadence, fatigue in a long poem. order, the mind seems constantly So it is true that in travelling the uneasy, because there is some famous road from Moscow to Pething wanting. The order which tersburgh, the traveller must perish the author has pursued, and that with fatigue of being enclosed bewbich we adopt, confuse each oth- tween the two bounds of the road; er. The mind retains nothing and and he who shall have travelled a foresees nothing. It is humbled by long time in the Alps will descend the confusion of its ideas, by the from them disgusted with situaemptiness which remains. It is fa- tions the most happy, and prostigued in vain, and finds no plea- pects the most charming. sure. It is on that account, when The soul loves variety, but it the design is not to express or show loves it we are told because it is confusion, there is always order in made to know and to perceive. It confusion itself. Thus painters must then be able to perceive, and group their figures ; thus those the variety must be visible. That who paint battles put those things is to say, it is necessary that a thing which the eye should see distinct- should be so plain as to be perceivly, in front of the picture, and ed, and so diversified as to be confused objects in the rear and at perceived with pleasure. a remote distance
There are things which appear This seems to include some condiversified and are not so-others tradiction. See how I shall exwhich appear uniform and yet are plain it. very different from each other. One of the principal causes of
Gothic architecture appears great pleasure in our souls, when they ly variegated, but the confusion of see objects, is the faciliiy with ornaments fatigues by their little which they are perceived; and ness; for this reason we cannot the reason why symmetry is pleasdistinguish one from another, and ing to the soul, is, that it prevents their number prevents the eye from pain, that it gives relief, that it fixing upon any one ; wherefore it cuts, so to speak, the work into displeases by those very parts which moieties. Hence follows a general are chosen to make it agreeable. A rule; wherever symmetry is use. building of the Gothic order is a ful to the soul, and can aid its kind of enigma to the eye which functions, it is pleasing. But views it, and the soul is embarrass- wherever it is useless it is disgust. ed as in reading an obscure poem. ing, because it destroys variety.
Grecian architecture on the con. But things which we see in succes. trary appears uniform, but as it has sion should have variety; for the divisions which are necessary, and soul has no difficulty in seeing as many as are needed for the soul them. Those on the contrary to see precisely as much as it can which we perceive with a glance see without being fatigued. But ought to have symmetry. Thus as that it may see enough to be occu- we see with a glance the front of a pied with, there is that variety, the building, a parterre, a temple, there view of which gives pleasure. is a symmetry which pleases the
It is necessary that great things soul by enabling it easily to comprehave great parts ; great men have hend the whole object at first great arms, great trees have great sight. branches, and great mountains are As it is necessary that the object composed of other mountains which which we would see at a glance are piled one above another : such should be single, it must be unique, is the nature of things.
and the parts should all correspond Grecian architecture, which has with the principal object. It is on small divisions and large divisions, this account we like symmetry: it imilates great things. The soul makes a whole. It is in nature, perceives a certain majesty which that a whole should be perfect; every where prevails. It is thus and the soul which sees that whole, that painting divides into groups of desires that there should be no part three or four figures, those which of it imperfect. It is also on that it represents in a picture. It imi- account that we love symmetry. tates nature : a numerous troop is There must be a kind of pondera. always divided into plattoons, and tion or poising; and a building with it is also thus that painting in the one wing, or one wing shorter than great mass of the subject, presents, another, is as unfinished as a body distinct lights and shades.
with one arm, or with one arm too
short.* . CIAPTER VII.-- The pleasures of
* The remainder of the ossay was variety, nevertheless in most things
never sent. Perhaps the translator on
seeing this portion may choose to forit loves to see a kind of symmetry. ward it.