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be any one which, in point of shape or size, is unique, it must be placed somewhere in the vertical line, which is equally distant from both. . Numberless other illustrations of this principle crowd on me; but I have already said enough to explain the motion which I annex to it, and perhaps more than, to some of my readers, its importance may appear to justify. The remarks which have now been made apply, as is obvious, to the works of Man alone. In those of Nature, impressed, as they are everywhere, with the signatures of Almighty Power, and of Unfathomable Design, we do not look for that obvious uniformity of plan which we expect to find in the productions of beings endowed with the same faculties, and actuated by the same motives as ourselves. A deviation from uniformity, on the contrary, in the grand outlines sketched by her hand, appears perfectly suited to that infinity which is associated, in our conceptions, with all her operations; while it enhances, to an astonishing degree, the delight arising from the regularity which, in her minuter details, she everywhere scatters in such inexhaustible profusion. It is, indeed, by very slow degrees that this taste for Natural Beauty is formed; the first impulse of youth prompting it (as I before hinted) to subject nature to rules borrowed from the arts of human life. When such a taste, however, is at length acquired, the former not only appears false, but ludicrous; and perishes of itself, without any danger of again reviving.—The associations, on the other hand, by which the love of Nature is strengthened, having their root in far higher and nobler principles of the mind than those attached to the puerile judgments which they gradually supplant, are invariably confirmed more and more, in proportion to the advancement of reason, and the enlargement of experience. The traces of art, which formerly lent an additional charm to the natural beauties which it was employed to heighten, become now themselves offensive wherever they appear; and even when it has been successfully exerted in supplying defects and correcting blemishes, the effect is destroyed, in proportion as its interposition is visible. The last stage of Taste, therefore, in the progress of its improvement, leads to the admiration of what Martial calls —Rus verum et barbarum ;
“Where, if Art
To analyze the different ingredients of the Beauty which scenery of this kind presents to an eye qualified to enjoy it, is a task which I do not mean to attempt; perhaps a task to which the faculties of man are not completely adequate. Not that this furnishes any objection to the inquiry, or diminishes the value of such approximations to the truth, as we are able to establish on a solid induction. But I confess it appears to me, that few of our best writers on the subject have been sufficiently aware of its difficulty; and that they have all shewn a disposition to bestow upon observations, collected from particular classes of facts (and perhaps accurately and happily collected from these), a universality of application little suited to the multiplicity and variety of the phenomena which they profess to explain." That this remark is not hazarded rashly, will, if I do not deceive myself, appear sufficiently from the critical strictures on some of Mr Burke's principles, which I find it necessary to introduce here, in order to obviate certain objections which are likely to occur to his followers, against the general scope of the foregoing doctrines. The digression may appear long to some of my readers; but I could not hope to engage any attention to the sequel of these discussions, till I had first endeavoured to remove the chief stumbling-blocks, which a theory, recommended by so illustrious a name, has thrown in my way. In the animadversions, besides, which I have to offer on Mr Burke, I flatter myself I shall have an opportunity of unfolding my own ideas more clearly and fully, than I could have done by stating them at once in a connected and didactic form.
REMARKs on some of MR BURKE’s PRINCIPLEs WHICH DO NOT AGREE WITH THE FOREGOING CONCLUSIONS.
Among the various writers who have turned their attention to the Beautiful, with a design to trace the origin, and to define the nature of that idea, there is, perhaps, none who has engaged in the inquiry with views more comprehensive and just than Mr Burke; but, even with respect to him, it may be fairly questioned, if any one of the conclusions to which he has been led concerning the causes of beauty, amounts to more than a critical inference, applicable to some particular class or classes of the phenomena in question. In examining the opinions of this author, it is extremely worthy of observation, that although his good sense has resisted completely the metaphysical mysteries of the schools, he has suffered himself to be led astray by a predilection for that hypothetical physiology concerning the connection between Mind and Matter, which has become so fashionable of late years.” His generalizations, too, proceed on an as
* This sort of philosophy was much in vogue, all over Europe, sumption, not, indeed, so unlimited as that already quoted from the Encyclopédie, but yet much more extensive than the nature of the subject will admit of;-That, in the objects of all our different external senses, there is some common quality to which the epithet Beautiful may be applied; and that this epithet, in all these different cases, conveys the same meaning. Instead, for example, of supposing (agreeably to the doctrine already suggested) that the epithet in question is applied to colours and to forms, in consequence of their both producing their pleasing effects through the medium of the same organ, he endeavours to shew, that there is an analogy between these two classes of our pleasures; or, to use his own words, that “the beauty, both of shape and “colouring, are as nearly related as we can well “suppose it possible for things of such different “natures to be.”" In both cases, he asserts, that the beautiful object has a tendency to produce an agreeable relawation in the fibres; and it is in this
about the time when Mr Burke's book first appeared;—in consequence, perhaps, chiefly of the enthusiastic admiration everywhere excited by the Spirit of Laws, then recently published. The microscopical observations on the papillae of a sheep's tongue, to which Montesquieu has there appealed in his reasonings concerning the operation of physical causes on the Mind, bear a remarkable resemblance to some of the data assumed by Mr Burke in his physiological conclusions with respect to our perception of the Beautiful. Something, also, which looks like an imitation of the same great man, is observable in the extreme shortness and abruptness of the sections, which incessantly interrupt the natural flow of Mr Burke's composition. * Part III. sect. 17. 10