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years, and, after his death, paid the highest respect to his memory. Aristides is almost the only celebrated Athenian who died in peace and honour, having retained, to the latest moment of life, the confidence, esteem, and gratitude of his unstable countrymen.' pp. 165, 166.
We can only add a part of the reflections made on this great man.
Seldom is it the gratifying task of the Christian historian, to exhibit to mankind a character so richly fraught with, what may be almost denominated, Christian graces, as that of the virtuous Ăristides. He may be justly considered one of the brightest constellations of the heathen world-a constellation of moral excellence, whose mild radiance was che more visible on account of the surrounding gloom of ignorance and vice. It has seldom been seen that natural religion, though planted in the most favourable soil, was capable of producing such exquisite fruits. Admitting, (for truth requires us to admit,) that his virtues were too highly coloured by his partial biographers, who knew not the sacred standard of evangelical holiness ; yet with every abatement made, in consideration of the false and imperfect medium through which his character is contemplated by us, there is enough to cover with shame the immoral professor of religion, and to provoke to emulation the genuine Christian.
• Whilst the former is reminded of the meekness, the modesty, the disinterestedness, the integrity, the justice, the self-denial, the patience, the forgiveness of injuries-all of which were discernible in the public and private life of Aristides – must not at least a transient blush suffuse his countenance at the consciousness of his own pride, covetousness, dissimulation, malice, or revenge; crimes so much the more heinous, on account of their having been committed in violation of a law distinctly revealed, and far superior to that which was written in the conscience of this virtuous heathen? The latter may, with the utmost propriety, be excited, by such an eminent example, to an enquiry. # What do I more than others--more than 'some even of the heathen world? Greater privileges have been afforded more abundant means of instruction have been granted—a brighter dispensation of mercy has dawned and are not my obligations to humility and self-denial, to purity of heart and integrity of conduct, increased in equal proportion? Let me, then, demonstrate the superior influence of Christian principles, by exhibiting more lowliness of mind-greater meekness and disinterestedness--more refined be. nevolence, and a higher tone of virtue, than any of which the hea. then world could boast." ;
pp. 166, 167. A few minute blemishes, (such, for example, as the frequent use of the word character instead of person, and the omission of as after the word consider) we hope the author, in the event of a second edition of this volume, will soon find an opportun.ty of correcting That the work will meet with a welcome reception there can be little doubt; and we heartily wish him health and leisure to prosecute his studies, as he proposes, through the histories of Rome and England.
Art. v. Essays, on the Sources of the Pleasures, received from
Literary Compositions. Second edition, 8vo. pp. 390. Price 10s. 6d.
taphysical subjects, knows the difficulty of expressing such thoughts to others. This arises frequently, no doubt, from a want of precision in the thoughts themselves, but frequently likewise from the deficiency of language. Languages were formed when men were hunters, fishers, warriors, hushandmen, any thing but metaphysicians; and, as might therefore be expected, they furnish words for every thing rather than the faculties and operations of the mind, its properties, and the ways in which it is affected. When philosophers arose, who wished to turn the attention of their followers to such like subjects, they had no words to express themselves by, and were, therefore, reduced to the alternative of either in venting new words, or employing old ones in new senses. If we may judge from the present state of languages, they chose the latter method, and finding or fancying some similarity between certain operations of body and mind, made use of the words which had been set apart for the former to express the latter. Thus, guiding themselves by analogies more or less whimsical, they spoke of apprehension, and comprehension, and conception, of taste and feeling, of weakness of mind, and strength of judgment, of subtle reasonings, of sublime now tions, and obscure arguments,--pressing in this manner substantial forms into the world of shadows.
What uncertainty must arise from this accommodation of old words to new meanings, is sufficiently evident. The word was familiar to the ear, and it was forgotten that it was used in an uncommon sense; the name was known, and so the necessary introduction of a definition was dispensed with. Thus some have suffered themselves to be imposed upon; and some, it is to be feared, have been dishonest enough to impose upon others. We shrewdly suspect that, if soine honest person would but take the trouble of expunging from Mr. Hume's metaphysical works a few magical words, and substituting for them others of a less familiar sound, some of his essays would wear a much less imposing shape than they do at present.
But if this inconvenience has been felt in the severer metaphysics, a study which only philosophers approach, who, by explaining their meaning, might tye down their words to a definite signification, in the metaphysics of taste it is much more to be dreaded. Here every one thinks himself a judge; every one has his feelings, and his taste, and his notions of what is beautiful, and grand, and pathetic; and as each man uses word
in his own sense, the night-scenes in Macbeth, with some, are very pretty, and Fluttering spread thy purple pinion' is highly sublime ;-till every thing is “confusion worse confounded.” Hence strange theories, contradictory opinions. One man uses words in the vague sense of the multitude; another mounts up to their etymon to get at their true meaning; and both are equally in the wrong. In venturing our opinion upon subjects, such as those of which the work before us treats, we shall endeavour to use no word, of the meaning of which we have not formed ourselves, and cannot give to our readers, a definite notion.
The first of these Essays is 'On the Improvement of Taste.' By taste we would be understood to mean, sensibility with respect to every thing that addresses itself to the imagination. That a diversity of tastes exists it would be ridiculous to go about to prove; and, in speaking of the improvement of taste, it is evident that we suppose some tastes to be better than others. A previous question, then, proposes itself at the very outset. How is it to be proved that one taste is better than another? or, in short, what is meant by a goud taste and what by a bad one? What is the standard of taste? This, as it appears to us, the essayist should have made his first consideration. The answer which we would give to such a questton is simply this ;-that taste is the best, by means of which its possessor receives the greatest pleasure. We may talk of nature and of criticism and so forth ; but there is an appeal from all these; and by the pleasure received must the excellency of taste be ultimately measured. There are objects around us calculated to give a pleasure which we have powers calculated to receive; taste is the carrier; and surely that taste is the best, that sensibility is the best regulated, which brings in the greatest quantity of pleasure.
It should seem, then, at first sight, that there is no standard of taste, and that, as we every day see people receiving apparently equal pleasure from very different objects, their taste must be equally good. But if it can be shewn that there are certain principles, according to which nature has ordained that the sensibilities of men in general should be affected ; and if, moreover, adequate and true causes may be assigned of certain anomalies in taste which are to be found in individuals, or nations at large,--causes which prevent them from receiving the greatest possible pleasure from certain objects, and therefore from arriving at the perfection of taste ;—it may then be considered as sufficiently made out, that there is a standard, judging by which any given taste may be pronounced good or bad. Now, as to the first part of this proof, the pointing out of the general principles, according to which pature acts upon the imagination and feelings, it is the business of every work on the belles lettres, and of that before us among the rest, to detect and point them out : and it is to the second part that the author confines himself in the first essay,- through which we shall now acccompany him.
A person's taste may be bad, then, that is, may not communicate to his imagination such feelings as it is calculated to receive, from mere ignorance of excellency in the fine arts. A ballad-singer's voice, in the streets of London, or an anthem in 'a village-church, is heard with pleasure, instead of contempt, by him who lias never had the advantage of hearing better singing. To us they are screaming wretchedness. The cycles and epicycles of the ancient astronomers no doubt appeared sublime to those who had never known the simplicity of the Newtonian system. To us they are mere intricacy and confusion.
Again, inattention produces the same effect as ignorance, There are certain obvious beauties and curious faults, which catch the attention, and engage the admiration, of beholders who will not take the trouble to think. There are multitudes more, we have no doubt, of the gazers in St. Paul's and Westminster Abbey, who have been caught by drapery floating, and wings undulating, in stone, by the crisped curls of a marble wig, or by the emanation of marble rays from a marble sun, than by the nature and elegance and expression of the attitudes and features of Bacon and Flaxman. Why? Simply because they have had no one who should once make them take notice of the absurdities of the one, or the beauties of the other. Or, to borrow an instance from the essayist :
• There is scarcely any person, who, in reading Thomson's Sea. sons, will not find several beauties in external nature pointed out to him, which he may perfectly recollect to have seen, though not to have attended to before; but which, now that his attention is turned to them, he feels to be productive of the most delightful emotions. A common observer overlooks in a landscape a variety of charms which strike at once the eye of a painter.' pp. 4-5.
The principal source of bad taste, however, is the association of ideas. Undoubtedly, there are objects in nature which please by themselves, independently of any association. Such are light and colours; and such are the notes of music. And by-the-bye, if we might use an argument from analogy, the similarity of men's tastes with respect to these things might lead us to expect it elsewhere. It is not very common to meet with one whose eye is tormented with the tender green of spring, or the delicious blue of a summer's heaven, or who turns, with pleasure froin the melodies of the nightingale to the scritching of the peacock. But objects, in general, please by the associations which they recal to the imagination. of these some are general; that is, they occur to almost all. For instance; in gazing at an extended landscape, of wood and water, gently-sloping hills and fat pasture-ground, intersected with tufted hedge-rows, and specked with neat thatched cottages, and here and there a spire peeping through the trees; the corn on the ground, perhaps, and the sun-burnt sicklemen’ at their work; and all seen under a bright blue summer sky: why, a very small portion of the pleasure arising from such a sight is to be resolved into the beauties of form and colour; it springs, almost entirely, from the associations suggested to the mind. Our thoughts are turned to rural life and simplicity, to pastoral innocence, to the manners and pleasures of the golden age such as they are described in the poets, to the age of boyhood when our study and our delight were in such poets and in such scenes. We think of the plenty about to be laid up in our store-houses and barns ; the relief of the hungry, and the poor, and the miserable ; of the large brown loaf which the cottager's wife carries home to her rosy curly-pated children ; of the beneficence of the Giver of all good; and the heart dilates with unutterable happiness.
Again, what more beautiful and picturesque than the ruins of some ancient abbey? Very beautiful to the eye, no doubt, are the colouring laid on by time, and the grotesque shapes into which the massy walls have mouldered. Very beautiful
the broken arches black in night,' and the imagery (edged with silver.' But is this sensual pleasure the only or the chief which the reader has received in such a scene? If it be ;--procul, o procul. Let him not run abbey-hunting. Let him save his money and his trouble, and comfort his eye with the solemn gloom of Lombard-street, and the dingy glories of the Mansion-house. Let him only set himself among tiie magnificent ruins of Furness Abbey, who can enter into the feelings of Mrs. Radcliffe there. *
** ds, soothed by the venerable shades, and the view of a more • venerable ruin, we rested opposite to the eastern window of the • choir, where once the high altar stood, and, with five other al.
tars, assisted the religious pomp of the scene ; the images and • the manners of times that were past rose to reflection. The • midnight procession of monks, clothed in white, and bearing
lighted tapers, appeared to the “mind's eye” issuing to the choir • through the very door case, by which such processions were • wont to pass from the cloisters to perform the matin service, • when, at the moment of their entering the church the deep
chanting of voices was heard, and the organ swelled a solemn •
peal. To fancy, the strain still echoed feebly along the ar• cades, and died in the breeze among the woods, the rustling