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sell his children for slaves, to expose them in their infancy to wild beasts, and to punish them for the crime of their parents ? irás any thing more common than to murder an enemy in cold blood ? nay, more, did not law once authorise the abominable practice of human sacrifices, no less impious than immoral ? Such aberrations from the rules of morality prove only, that men, originally savage and brutal, acquire not rationality nor delicacy of taste till they be long disciplined in society. To ascertain the rules of morality, we appeal not to the common sense of savages, but of men in their more perfect state: and we make the same appeal in forming the rules that ought to govern the fine arts: in neither can we safely rely on a local or transitory taste; but on what is the most general and the most lasting among polite nations.

In this very manner, a standard for morals has been ascertained with a good deal of accuracy, and is daily applied by able judges with general satisfaction. The standard of taste in the fine arts, is not yet brought to such perfection; and we can account for its slower progress: the sense of right and wrong in actions is vivid and distinct, because its objects are clearly distinguishable from each other; whereas the sense of right and wrong in the fine arts is faint and wavering, because its objects are commonly not so clearly distinguishable from each other, and there appears to me a striking final cause in thus distinguishing the moral sense from the sense of right and wrong in the fine arts. The former, as a rule of conduct, and as a law we ought to obey, must be clear and authoritative. The latter is not entitled to the same privilege, because it contributes to our pleasure and amusement only: were it strong and lively, it would usurp upon our duty, and call off the attention from maiters of greater moinent: were it clear and authoritative, it would banish all difference of taste, leaving no distinctiou between a refined tasie and one that is not so: which would put an end to rivalship, and consequently to all improvement.

Butto return to our subject. However languid and cloudy the common sense of mankind may be as to the fine arts, it is not withstanding the only standard in these as well as in morals. True it is indeed, that in gathering the common sense of mankind, more circumspection is requisite with respect to the fine arts than with respeci to inorals: upon the latter, any person may be consulted: but in the former, a wary choice is necessary, for to collect votes indifferently would certainly mislead us. Those who depend for food on bodily Lubor, are totally void of taste; of such a taste at least as can be of use in the fine arts. This consideration bars the greater part of man. kind; and of the remaining part, many by a corrupted taste are unqualified for voting. The common sense of mankind must then be confined to the few that fall not under these exceptions. But as such selection seems to throw matters again into uncertainty, we must be more explicit upon this branch of our subject.

No:hing tends more than voluptuousness to corrupt the whole internal frame, and 10 vitiate our taste, not only in the fine arts, but even in morals: voluptuousness never fails, in course of time, to

son is, that without uniformity of taste, there could not be any suit. able reward, either of profit or honor, to encourage men of genius to labor in such works, and to advance them toward perfection. The same uniformity of taste is equally necessary to perfect the art of music, sculpture, and painting, and to support ihe expense they require after they are brought to perfection. Nature is, in every particular, consistent with herself: we are framed by Nature to have a high relish for the fine arts, which are a great source of happiness, and friendly in a high degree to virtue: we are, at the same time, framed with uniformity of taste, to furnish proper objects for that high relish; and if uniformity did not prevail, the fine arts could never have made any figure.

And this suggests another final cause no less illustrious. The sparation of men into different classes, by birth, office, or occupation, however necessary, tends to relax the connection that ought to be among members of the same state; which bad effect is in some measure prevented by the access all ranks of people have to public spectacles, and 10 amusements that are best enjoyed in company. Such meetings, where every one partakes of the same pleasures in common, are no slight support to the social affections.

Thus, upon a conviction common to the species is erected a standard of taste, which without hesitation is applied to the taste of every individual. That standard, ascertaining what actions are right whit wrong, what proper what improper, has enabled moralists to establish rules for our conduct, from which no person is permitted to swerve. We have the same standard for ascertaining in all the fine arts, what is beautiful or ugly, high or low, proper or improper, proportioned or disproportioned: and here, as in morals, we justly condemn erery taste ihat deviates from what is thus ascertained by the common standard.

That there exists a rule or standard in nature for trying the taste of individuals, in the fine arts as well as in inorals, is a discovery; but is not sufficient to complete the task undertaken. A branch siill more important remains upon hand; which is, to ascertain what is truly the standard of nature, that we may not lie open to have a false standard imposed on us. But what means shall be employed for

vring to light this natural standard ? This is not obvious: for when we have recourse lo general opinion and general practice, ire are betrayed into endless perplexities. History informs us, that nothing is more variable than taste in the fine arts: judging by numbers, the Gothic taste of architecture must be preferred before that of Greece, and the Chinese taste probably before either. It would te endless to recount the various tastes that have prevailed in different ages with respect to gardening, and still prevail in different coun. tries. Despising the modest coloring of nature, women of fashion in France daub iheir cheeks with a red powder; nay, an unnatural swelling in the neck, peculiar to the inhabitants of the Alps, is relished by that people. But we ought not to be discouraged by such untoivard instances, when we find as great variety in morai opinions: was it not among some nations held lawful for a man to

sell his children for slaves, to expose them in their infancy to wild beasts, and to punish them for the crime of their parents ? was any thing more common than to murder an enemy in cold blood ? nay, more, did not law once authorise the abominable practice of human sacrifices, no less impious than immoral ? Such aberrations from the rules of morality prove only, that men, originally savage and brutal, acquire not rationality nor delicacy of taste till they be long disciplined in society. To ascertain the rules of morality, we appeal not to the common sense of savages, but of men in their inore perfect state: and we make the same appeal in forming the rules that ought to govern the fine arts: in neither can we safely rely on a local or transitory taste; but on what is the most general and the most lasting among polite nations.

In this very manner, a standard for morals has been ascertained with a good deal of accuracy, and is daily applied by able judges with general satisfaction. The standard of taste in the fine arts, is not yet brought to such perfection; and we can account for its slower progress: the sense of right and wrong in actions is vivid and disiinct, because its objects are clearly distinguishable from each other; whereas the sense of right and wrong in the fine arts is faint and wavering, because its objects are commonly not so clearly distinguishable from each other, and there appears to me a striking final cause in thus distinguishing the moral sense from the sense of right and wrong in the fine arts. The former, as a rule of conduct, and as a law we ought to obey, must be clear and authoritative. The latter is not entitled to the same privilege, because it contributes to our pleasure and amusement only: were it strong and lively, it would usurp upon our duty, and call off the attention from maiters of greater moinent: were it clear and authoritative, it would banish all difference of taste, leaving no distinction between a refined tasie and one that is not so: which would put an end to rivalship, and consequently to all improvement.

But to return to our subject. However languid and cloudy the com. mon sense of mankind may be as to the fine arts, it is notwithstanding the only standard in these as well as in morals. True it is indeed, that in gathering the common sense of mankind, more circumspection is requisite with respect to the fine arts than with respect to morals: upon the latter, any person may be consulted: but in the former, a wary choice is necessary, for to collect votes indifferently would certainly mislead us. Those who depend for food on bodily Libor, are totally void of taste; of such a taste at least as can be of use in the fine arts. This consideration bars the greater part of mankind; and of the remaining part, many by a corrupted taste are unqualified for voting. The common sense of mankind must then be confined to the few that fall not under these exceptions. But as such selection seems to throw matters again into uncertainty, we must be more explicit upon this branch of our subject.

No:hing tends more than voluptuousness to corrupt the whole internal frame, and to vitiate our taste, not only in the fine arts, but even in morals: voluptuousness never fails, in course of time, to

extinguish all the sympathetic affections, and to bring on a beastiy selfishness, which leaves nothing of man but the shape: about exclud. ing such persons there will be no dispute. Let us next bring under trial, the opulent who delight in expense: the appetite for superiority and respect, inflamed by riches, is vented upon costly furniture, numerous attendants, a princely dwelling, sumptuous feasts, every thing superb and gorgeous, to amaze and humble all beholders : simplicity, elegance, propriety, and things natural, sweet, or amiable, are despised or neglected; for these are not appropriated to the rich, nor make a figure in the public eye: in a word, nothing is relished, but what serves to gratify pride, by an imaginary exaltation of the possessor above those who surround him. Such sentiments contract the heart, and make every principle give way to self-love: benevolence and public spirit, with all their refined emotions, are little felt, and less regarded; and if these be excluded, there can be no place for the faint and delicate emotions of the fine arts.

The exclusion of classes so many and numerous, reduces within a narrow compass those who are qualified to be judges in the fine arts. Many circumstances are necessary to form such a judge: there must be a good natural taste; that is, a taste approaching, at least in some degree, to the delicacy of taste above described. * that taste must be improved by education, reflection, and experience:t it must be preserved in vigor by living regularly, by using the goods of fortune with moderation, and by following the dictates of improved nature, which give welcome to every rational pleasure without indulging any excess. This is the tenor of life which of all con tributes the most to refinement of taste; and the same tenor of life contributes the most to happiness in general.

If there appear much uncertainty in a standard that requires se painful and intricate a selection, we may possibly be reconciled 10 i by the following consideration, that with respect to the fine arts there is less difference of taste than is commonly imagined. Nature

* Chap. 2. Part 2

+ Thai these particulars are useful, it may be said necessary, for acquiring a discerning taste in the fine arts, will appear from the following facts, which show the influence of experience singly. Those who live in the world and in good company, are quick-sighted with respect to every defect or irregularity in behavior: the very slightest singularity in motion, in speech, or in dress, which to a peasant would be invisible, escapes not their observation. The most minute dif: ferences in the human countenance, so minute as to be far beyond the reach of words, are distinctly perceived by the plainest person: while at the same time, the generality have very little discernment in the faces of other animals to which they are less accustomed : sheep, for example, appear to have all the same face, except to the shepherd, who knows every individual in his flock as he does his relations and neighbors. The very populace in Athens were critics in language, in pronunciation, and even in eloquence, harangues being their daily entertausment. In Rome, at present, the most illiterate shopkeeper is a better judge of stalues and of pictures, than persons of refined education in London." These facis afford convincing evidence, that a discerning taste depends still more on experience than on nature. But these facts merit peculiar regard for another reason, hat they open to us a sure method of improving our taste in the fine arts; which, with those who have leisure for improvements, ought to be a powerful incitement to cultivate a taste in these arts: an occupation that cannot fail to embellish their munners and to sweeten society.

has marked all her works with indelible characters of high or low, plain or elegant, strong or weak: these, if at all perceived, are se!. dom misapprehended; and the same marks are equally perceptib.e in works of art. A defective taste is incurable; and it hurts none but the possessor, because it carries no authority to impose upon others. "I know not if there be such a thing as a taste naturally bad or wrong; a taste, for example, that prefers a grovelling pleasure before one that is high and elegant: grovelling pleasures are never preferred; they are only made welcome by those who know no better. Differences about objects of taste, it is true, are endless; but they generally concern trifles, or possibly matters of equal rank, where preference may be given either way with impunity: if, on any occasion, persons differ where they ought not, a depraved taste will readily be discovered on one or other side, occasioned by imitation, custom, or corrupted manners, such as are described above. And considering that every individual partakes of a common nature, what is there that should occasion any wide difference in taste or sentiment ? By the principles that constitute the sensitive part of our nature, a wonderful uniformity is preserved in the emotions and feelings of the different races of men; the same object making upon every person the same impression, the same in kind, if not in degree. There have been, as above observed, aberrations from these principles; but soon or late they prevail, and restore the wanderer to the right tract.

I know but of one other means for ascertaining the common sense of mankind; which I mention, not in despair, but in great confidence of success. As the taste of every individual ought to be governed by the principles above mentioned, an appeal to these principles must necessarily be decisive of every controversy that can arise upon matters of taste. In general, every doubt with relation to the common sense of man, or standard of taste, may be cleared by the same appeal; and to unfold these principles is the declared purpose of the present undertaking.

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