Obrázky na stránke
[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]



od Ege, the

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

On a superficial view, we may scem to dif- the imagination is not affected according to fer very widely from each other in our reason- some invariable and certain laws, our labour is ings, and no less in our pleasures: but, not- like to be employed to very little purpose; as it withstanding this difference, which I think to must be judged an useless, if not an absurd be rather apparent than real, it is probable thai undertaking, to lay down rules for caprice, and the standard both of reason and taste is the to set up for a legislator of whims and fancies, same in all human creatures. For if there The term taste, like all other figurative were not sone principles of judgment as well terms, is not extremely accurate; the thing

i as of sentiment common to all mankind, no which we understand by it, is far from a simple hold could possibly be taken either on their and determinate idea in the minds of most reason or their passions, sufficient to maintain men, and it is therefore liable to uncertainty the ordinary correspondence of life. It ap- and confusion. I bave no great opinion of a pears indeed to be generally acknowledged, definition, the celebrated remody for the curo that with regard to truth and falsehood there is of this disorder. For when we define, we something fixed. We find people in their dis- seem in danger of circumscribing nature with putes continually appealing to certain tests and in the bounds of our own notions, which we standards, which are allowed on all sides, and often take up by hazard, or embrace on trust, are supposed to be ostablished in our common or form out of a limited and partial consideranature. But there is not the same obvious tion of the object before us, instead ot' extendconcurrence in any uniform or settled princi- ing our ideas to take in all that nature coinpreples which relate to taste. It is even common. hends, according to her manner of combining. ly supposed that this delicate and aerial faculty, We are limited in our inquiry by the strict which seems too volatile to endure even the laws to which we have submitted at our setting chains of a definition, cannot be properly tried out. by any test, nor regulated by any standard,

Circa vilem patulumque morabimur There is so continual a call for the exercise of

orbem, the reasoning faculty, and it is so much strength. Unde pudor proferre pedem petat aut operis ened by perpetual contention, that certain maxims of right reason scem to be tacitly settled A definition may be very exact, and yet go among the most ignorant. The learned have but a very litle way towards informing us of improved on this rudo science, and reduced the nature of the thing defined; but let the virthose maxims into a system. If aste has not tue of a definition be what it will, in the order been so happily cultivated, it was not that the of things, it seems rather follow than to presubject was barren, but that the labourers were code our inquiry, of which it ought to be consifew or negligent; for, to say the truth, there dered as the result. It must be acknowledged aro not the same interesting motives to impel that the methods of disquisition and teachus to fix the one, which urge us to ascertain ing may be sometimes different, and on very the other. And after all, if men differ in their good reasop undoubtedly; but for my part, I opinion concerning such matters, their differ- am convinced that the method of teaching ance is not attended with the same important which approaches most nearly to the method of consequences; else I diake no doubt but that investigation, is incomparably the best ; since, the logic of taste, if I may be allowed the ex- not content with serving up a few basren and pression, might very possibly be as well digest- lifeless truths, it leads to the stock on which od, and we might come to discuss matters of they grew; it tends to set the reader bimsalf this nature with as much certainty, as those in the track of invention, and to direct him which seem more immediately within the prou into those paths in which the author has made vince of mere reason. And indeed, it is very his own discovorjes, if he should be so happy necessary, at the entrance into such an inquiry as to have made any that are valuable. as our present, to make this point as clear as But to cut off all pretence for carilling, 1 possible; for if taste has no fixed principles, if mean by the word Taste no more than that



the very



faculty or those facultios of the mind, which regard to pleasure and pain. They all concur are affected with, or which form a judgment of, in calling sweetness pleasant, and sourness and the works of imagination and the elegant arts. bitterness unpleasant. Here there is no diverThis is, I think, the most general idea of that sity in their sentiments; and that thero is not, word, and what is the least connected with any appears fully from the consent of all men in the particular theory. And my point in this inquiry metaphors which are taken from the sense of is, to find whether there are any principles, taste. A sour temper, bitter expressions, biton which the imagination is affected, so com- ter curses, a bitter fate, are terms well and mon to all, so grounded and certain, as to sup- strongly understood by all. And we are altoply the means of reasoning satisfactorily about gether as well understood when we say, a them. And such principles taste i fancy sweet disposition, a sweet person, a sweet there are ; however paradoxical it may seem condition, and the like. It is confessed, that to those, who on a superficial view imagine, custom and some other causes, have made that there is so great a diversity of tastes, both many deviations from the natural pleasures or in kind and degree, that nothing can be more pains which belong to these several tastes ; indeterminate.

but then the power of distinguishing between All the natural powers in man, which I the natural and the acquired relish remains to know, that are conversant about external ob- last. A man frequently comes to prejects, are the senses; the imagination; and fer the taste of tobacco to that of sugar, and the judgment. And first with regard to the the flavour of vinegar to that of milk; but this

We do and we must suppose, that as makes no confusion in tastes, whilst he is the conformation of their organs are nearly or

sensible that the tobacco and vinegar are not altogether the same in all men, so the manner sweet, and whilst he knows that habit alone of perceiving external objects is in all men the has reconciled his palate to these alien pleasame, or with little difference. We are satis

Even with such a person we may fied that what appears to be light to one eye, speak, and with sufficient precision, concernappears light to another; that what seems ing tastes. But should any man be found who sweet to one palate, is sweet to another; that declares, that to him tobacco has a taste like what is dark and bitter to this man, is likewiso sugar, and that he cannot distinguish between dark and bitter to that; and we conclude in milk and vinegar; or that tobacco and vinegar the same manner of great and little, hard and are sweet, milk bitter, and sugar sour; we imsoft, hot and cold, rough and smooth; and in- mediately conclude that the organs of this man deed of all the natural qualities and affections are out of order, and that his palate is utterly of bodies. If we suffer ourselves to imagine, vitiated. We are as far from conferring with that their senses present to different men dif- such a person upon tastes, as from reasoning ferent images of things, this sceptical proceed- concerning the relations of quantity with one ing will make every sort of reasoning on every who should deny that all the parts together subject vain and frivolous, even that sceptical were equal to the whole. We do not call & reasoning itself which had persuaded us to man of this kind wrong in his notions, but abo entertain a doubt concerning the agreement of solutely mad. Exceptions of this sort, in our perceptions. But'as there will be little either way, do not at all impeach our general doubt that bodies present similar images to the rule, nor make us conclude that men have vawhole species, it must necessarily be allowed, rious principles concerning the relations of that the pleasures and the pains which every quantity or the taste of things. So that when object oxcites in one man, it must raise in all it is said, taste cannot be disputed, it can only mankind, whilst it operates, naturally, simply, mean, that no one can strictly answer what and by its proper powers only; for if we deny pleasure or pain some particular man may find this, we must imagine that the same cause from the taste of some particular thing. This operating in the same manner, and on subjects indeed cannot be disputed; but we may disof the same kind, will produce different effects, pute, and with sufficient clearness too, conwhich would be highly absurd. Let us first cerning the things which are naturally ploasconsider this point in the sense of taste, and ing or disagreeable to the sense. But when the rather as the faculty in question has taken we talk of any peculiar or acquired relish, then its name from that sense. Al men are agreed we must know.the habits, the prejudices, or to call vinegar sour, honey sweet, and aloes the distempers of this particular man, and we bitter; and as they are all agreed in finding must draw our conclusion from those. these qualities in those objects, they do not in This agreement of mankind is not confined the least differ concerning their effects with to the taste solely. The principle of pleasure

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

derived from sight is the same in all. Light is regulate their feelings and opinions by its
more pleasing than darkness. Summer, when Suppose one who had so vitiated his palate as
the earth is clad in green, when the heavens to take more pleasure in the taste of opium
are serene and bright, is more agreeable than than in that of butter or honey, to be present-
winter, when every thing makes a different ed with a bolus of squills; there is hardly any
appearance. I never remember that any thing doubt but that he would prefer the butter or
beautiful, whether a man, a beast, a bird, or a honey to this nauseous morsel, or to any other
plant, was ever shewn, though it were to an bitter drug to which he had not been accus.
hundred people, that they did not all immedi- tomed; which proves that his palate was na-
ately agree that it was beautiful, though some turally like that of other men in all things, that
might have thought that it fell short of their it is still like the palate of other men in many
expectation, or that other things were still things, and only vitiated in some particular
finer. I believe no man thinks a goose to be points. For in judging of any new thing,
more beautiful than a swan, or imagines that even of a taste similar to that which he has
what they call a Friezland hen excels a pea- been formed by habit to like, he finds his palate
cock. It must be observed too, that the plea- affected in the natural manner, and on the
sures of the sight are not near so complicated, common principles. Thus the pleasure of all
and confused, and altored by unnatural habits the senses, of the sight, and even of the taste,
and associations, as the pleasures of the taste that most ambiguous of the senses, is tho
are; because the pleasures of the sight more same in all, high and low, learned and un-
commonly acquiesce in themselves ; and are learned.
not so often altered by considerations which Besides the ideas, with their annexed pains
are independent of the sight itself. But things and pleasures, which are presented by the
do not spontaneously present themseves to the sense ; the mind of man possesses a sort of cre-
palate as they do to the sight; they are gene- ative power of its own; either in representing
rally applied to it, either as food or as medi- at pleasure the images of things in the order
cine; and from the qualities which they pos- and manner in which they were received by
sess for nutritive or medicinal purposes, they the senses, or in conubining those images in a
often form the palate by degrees, and by force new manner, and according to a different
of these associations. Thus opium is please order. This power is called imagination; and
ing to Turks, on account of the agreeable de to this belongs whatever is called wit, fancy,
lirium it produces. Tobacco is the delight of invention, and the like. But it must be ob
Dutchmen, as it diffuses a torpor and pleasing served, that this power of the imagination is
stupefaction. Fermented spirits please our incapable of producing any thing absolutely
common people, because they banish care, and new; it can only vary the disposition of those
all consideration of future or present evils. ideas which it has received from the senses.
All of these would lie absolutely neglected if Now the imagination is the most extensive
their properties had originally gone no further province of pleasure and pain, as it is the re-
than the taste; but all these, together with tea gion of our fears and our hopes, and of all our
and coffee, and some other things, have passed passions that are connected with them; and
from the apothecary's shop to our tables, and whatever is calculated to affect the imagina.
were taken for health long before they were tion with these commanding ideas, by force of

hought of for pleasure. The effect of the any original natural impression, must have the
drug has made us uso it frequently; and fre- same power pretty equally over all men. For
quent use, combined with the agreeable effect, since the imagination is only the representa-
has made the taste itself at last agreeable. tion of the senses, it can only be pleased or
But this does not in the least perplex our rea- displeased with the images, from the same
soning; because we distinguish to the last the principle on which the sense is pleased or dis-
acquired from the natural relish. In descri- pleased with the realities; and consequently
bing the taste of an unknown fruit, you would there must be just as close an agreement in the
scarcely say that it had a sweet and pleasant imaginations as in the senses of men. A lit-
favour like tobacco, opium, or garlic, although tle attention will convince us that this must of
you spoke to those who were in the constant necessity be the case.
use of these drugs, and had great pleasure in But in the imagination, besides the pain or
them. There is in all men a sufficient re pleasure arising from the prope ties of the
membrance of the original natural causes of natural object, a pleasure is perceived from
pleasure, to enable them to bring all things of the resemblance, which the imitation has to
fered to their senses to that standard, and to the original: tho imagination, I conceiro, con


have no pleasure but what results from one or their knowledgo of the things represented at other of these causos. And these causes ope compared extends. The principle of this rate pretty uniformly upon all mon, because knowledge is very much accidental, as it de they operato bý principles in nature, and which pends opon experience and observation, and are not derived from any particular habits or not on the strength or weakness of any natural advantages. Mr. Locke very justly and finely faculty; and it is from this difference in know observes of wit, that it is chiefly conver- ledge, that what we commonly, though with no sant in tracing resemblances : he remarks great exactness, call a difforence in taste pro at the same time, that the business of judgn ceeds. A man to whom sculpture is new, seeg ment is rather in finding difforences. It may , a barber's block, or some ordinary piece of stam perhaps appear, on this supposition, that tuary; he is immediately struck and pleased, there is no material distinction between the wit because he sees sonething like an human and the judgment, as they both seem to result figure ; and, entirely taken up with this like from different operations of the same faculty noss, be does not at all attend to its defects. of comparing. But in reality, whether they No person, I believe, at the first time of seeing are or are oot dependant on the same power of a pioce of imitation ever did. Some time the mind, they differ so very materially in many after, we suppose that this novice lights upon a respects, that a perfect anion of wit and judg- more artificial work of the same nature; bo ment is one of the rarest things in the world. now begins to look with contempt on what he When two distinct objects are unlike to each admired at first; not that he admired it even other, it is only what we expect; things are in then for its unlikeness to a man, but for that their common way; and therefore they make general though inaccurate resemblance which no impression on the imagination: but when it bore to the human figure, What he admired two distinct objects have a resemblance, we are at different times in these so different figures, is struck, we attend to them, and we are pleased. strictly the same; and though his knowledge is The mind of man has naturally a far greater improved, his taste is not altered. Hitherto his alacrity and satisfaction in tracing resemblances mistake was from a want of knowledge in art, than in searching for differences: because by and this arose from bis inexperience; but bo making resemblances we produce new imageo; may be still deficient from a want of knowledge we unite, we create, we enlarge our stock; but in nature. For it is possible that the man in in making distinctions we offer no food at all to question may stop here, and that the master the imagination; the task itself is more severe piece of a great band may please him no moro and irksome, and what pleasure we derive from than the middling performance of a vulgar it is something of a negative and indirect nature. artist; and this not for want of better or higher A piece of news is told me in the morning; relish, but because all men do not observe with this, merely as a piece of news, as a fact added sufficient accuracy on the human figure to em to my stock, gives me some pleasure. In the able them to judge properly of an imitation of it. evening I find there was nothing in it. What And that the critical taste does not depend do I gain by this, but the dissatisfaction to find upon a superiour principle in men, but upon that I have been imposed upon? Hence it is superiour knowledge, may appear from several that men are much more naturally inclined to instances. The story of the antient painter belief than to incredulity. And it is upon this and the shoemaker is very well known. The principle, that the most ignorant and barbarous shoemakor set the painter right with regard to nations have frequently excelled in similitudes, some mistakes he bad made in the shoe of one comparisons, metaphors, and allegories, who of his figures, and which the painter, who had have been weak and backward in distinguish not made such accurate observations on shoes, ing and sorting their ideas. And it is for a and was content with a general resemblanco, reason of this kind, that Homer and the orien- had never observed. But this was no impeache tal writers, though very fond of similitudes, and ment to the taste of the painter ; it only showthough they often strike out such as are truly od somo want of knowledge in the art of admirable, seldom take care to have them making shoes. Let us imagine, that an anato exact; that is, they are taken with the general mist had como into the painter's working-room. resemblance, they paint it strongly, and they His piece is in general well done, the figure in take no notice of the difference which may be question in a good attitude, and the parts well found between the things compared.

adjusted to their various movements; yet the Now, as the pleasure of resemblance is that anatomist, critical in his art, may observe the which principally Hatters the imagination, all swell of some muscle not quite just in the poor men are nearly equal in this point, as far as culiar action of the figure. Here the anato

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

niet 'obaorvos what the painter bad not obser the const of Bohemia: wholly taken up with
od and he passes by what the shoemaker bad so interesting an event, and only solicitous for
ramarkod. But a want of the last critical the fate of his horo, he is not in the least
knowledge in anatomy no more reflected on the troubled at this:extravagant blunder. For why
natural good taste of the painter, or of any should he be shocked at a shipwreck on the
common observer of his piece, than the want coast of Bohemia, who doce bot know but that
of an oxect knowledge in the formation of a Bohemia may be an island in the Atlantic
shoo. A fine piece of a decollated head of St. ocean? and after all, what reflection is this on
John the Baptist was shown to a Turkish en- the natural good taste of the person bere
perour; he praised many things, but he observed supposed?
one defect; he observed that the skin did not So far then as tasto belongs to the imagina,
shrink from the wounded part of the neck. tion, its principle is the same in all men; there
The sultan on this occasion, though bis obser- is no difference in the manner of their being
vation was very just, discovered no more na affected, nor in the causes of the affection;
bural taste than the painter who executed this but in the degree there is a difference, which
piece, or than a thousand European connois arises from two causes principally ; either from
seurs, who probably never would have made a greater degree of natural sensibility, or from
the same observation. His Turkish majesty a closer and longer attention to the object. To
had indeed been well acquainted with that ter- illustrato this by the procedure of the senses,
rible spoctacle, which the others could only in which the same difference is found, let us
bave ropresented in their imagination. On suppose a very smooth marblo table to be set
the subject of their dislike there is a difference before two men; they both perceive it to be
between all these people, arising from the dif- smooth, and they are both pleased with it be
forent kinds and dogroos of their knowledge; cause of this quality. So far they agree. But
but there is something in common to the pain- suppose another, and after that another table,
ter, the shoemakor, the anatomist, and the Tur the latter still smoother than the former, to be
kish emperour, the pleasure arising from a na set before them. It is now yory probable that
taral object, so far as each perceives it juslty theso men, who are so agreed upon what is
imitated; the satisfaction in seeing an agroen smooth, and in the pleasure from thence, will
able figure; the sympathy proceeding from a disagree when they come to settle which table
striking and affecting incident. So far as taste has the advantage in point of polish. Here is
is natural, it is nearly common to all.

indeed the great difference between tastes, In poetry, and other pieces of imagination, when men come to compare the excess or dimithe same parity may be observed. It is true, Dution of things which are judged by degree that one man is charmed with Don Bellianis, and not by measure. Nor is it easy, wher and reads Virgil coldly: whilst another is such a difference arises, to settle the point, il transported with the Eneid, and leaves Don the excess or diminution be not glaring. If wo Bellianis to children. These two men soem differ in opinion about two quantities, we can to have a taste very different from each other; havo rocourse to a common measure, which bus in fact they differ very little. In both these may decide the question with the utmost expieces, which inspire such opposita sentiments, actness; and this, I tako it, is what gives a tale exciting admiration is told; both are full mathematical knowledgo a greater certainty of action, both are passionate ; in both are voy. than any other. But in things whose excess is zges, battles, triumphs, and continual

changes not judged by greater or smaller, as smoothness of fortune. The admirer of Don Bellianis and roughness, hardness and softness, darkness perhaps does not understand the refined lase and light, the shades of colours, all these aro guage of the Eneid, who, if it was degraded very easily distinguished when the differenco into the style of the Pilgrim's Progress, might is any way considerable, but not when it is boel it in all its energy, on the same principle minuto, for want of some common measures, which made him an admirer of Don Bellianis. which perhaps may nover come to be disa

In his favourite author he is not shocked covered. In these nice cases, supposing the with the continual breaches of probability, acuteness of the senso equal, the greator the confusion of times, the offencos against attention and habit in such things will have the manners, the trampling upon geography; for advantage. In the question about the tables, he knows nothing of geography and chronology, the marble-polisher will unquestionably do and ho has never examined the grounds of pro- termino the most accurately. But notwitho bability. He perbaps reads of a shipwrecks on standing this want of a common measure fors

« PredošláPokračovať »