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Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and other Poems. By JOHN KEATS, author of


Records of Women: with other Poems. By FELICIA HEMANS..

The Forest Sanctuary: with other Poems. By FELICIA HEMANS..


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(May, 1811.)

Essays on the Nature and Principles of Taste.-By ARCHIBALD ALISON, LL. B., F. R. S., Prebendary of Sarum,* &c. 2 vols. 8vo.

the colour of grass, and red of roses or of blood, it is plain that we do not in any respect explain the nature of those colours, but only give instances of their occurrence; and that one who had never seen the objects referred to could learn nothing whatever from these pretended definitions. Complex ideas, on the other hand, and compound emotions, may always be defined, and explained to a certain extent, by enumerating the parts of which they are made up, or resolving them into the elements of which they are composed: and we may thus acquire, not only a substantial, though limited, knowledge of their nature, but a practical power in their regulation or production.

THERE are few parts of our nature which I define what green or red is, say that green is have given more trouble to philosophers, or appeared more simple to the unreflecting, than the perceptions we have of Beauty, and the circumstances under which these are presented to us. If we ask one of the latter (and larger) class, what beauty is? we shall most probably be answered, that it is what makes things pleasant to look at; and if we remind him that many other things are called and perceived to be beautiful, besides objects of sight, and ask how, or by what faculty he supposes that we distinguish such objects, we must generally be satisfied with hearing that it has pleased God to make us capable of such a perception. The science of mind may not appear to be much advanced by these responses; and yet, if it could be made out, as some have alleged, that our perception of beauty was a simple sensation, like our perception of colour, and that the faculty of taste was an original and distinct sense, like that of seeing or hearing; this would be truly the only account that could be given, either of the sense or of its object;-and all that we could do, in investigating the nature of the latter, would be to ascertain and enumerate the circumstances under which it was found to indicate itself to its appropriate organ. All that we can say of colour, if we consider it very strictly, is, that it is that property in objects by which they make themselves known to the faculty of sight; and the faculty of sight can scarcely be defined in any other way than as that by which we are enabled to discover the existence of colour. When we attempt to proceed farther, and, on being asked to

The greater part of this paper was first printed th the Edinburgh Review for May 1811; but was afterwards considerably enlarged, and inserted as a separate article (under the word BEAUTY) in the supplement to the Encyclopædia Brittannica, pubished in 1824, and subsequently incorporated into The new edition of that great work in 1841, from which it is now reprinted in its complete form, by the liberal allowance of the proprietors.

It becomes of importance, therefore, in the very outset of this inquiry, to consider whether our sense of beauty be really a simple sensation, like some of those we have enumerated, or a compound or derivative feeling, the sources or elements of which may be investigated and ascertained. If it be the former, we have then only to refer it to the peculiar sense or faculty of which it is the object; and to determine, by repeated observation, under what circumstances that sense is called into action: but if it be the latter, we shall have to proceed, by a joint process of observation and reflection, to ascertain what are the primary feelings to which it may be referred; and by what peculiar modification of them it is produced and distinguished. We are not quite prepared, as yet, to exhaust the whole of this important discussion, to which we shall be obliged to return in the sequel of our inquiry; but it is necessary, in order to explain and to set forth, in their natural order, the difficulties with which the subject is sur rounded, to state here, in a very few words, one or two of the most obvious, and, as we think, decisive objections against the notion of beauty being a simple sensation, or the object of a separate and peculiar faculty.

The first, and perhaps the most consiler

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