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THE REV. CALEB EVANS,
NOW OF BITTON, NEAR BATH;
THIS LITTLE VOLUME,
Intended to improve the taste and assist the judgment of Youth, in the Education of whom he has recently
IS INSCRIBED, As a small proof of fraternal regard, and with fervent
wishes for his success,
BY THE EDITOR,
ISLINGTON, August, 1807
haps have afforded the example of a correct one.' These instances illustrate the topic which is now under investigation."
Having touched on the two qualities as cribed to Taste in its most perfect state, I may next proceed to enquire into the standard of Taste. This subject has occasioned no small altercation between the critics. Among the endless diversities of taste, how is it possible (exclaims the young student) to ascertain à criterion for true taste ? Looking abroad among mankind, we perceive this power of the mind to be as varions as the human countenance. Even delicacy and correctness, the character. istic properties of a true taste, exist in differ. ent degrees in our best writers. Each author is praised for his taste, while they agree in no one thing except the diversity of those facul. ties with which nature hath furnished them !”
To this natural exclamation, it may be repli. ed, that the diversity cannot be questioned. But it does not follow that on this account no stand. ard of Taste can be obtained by which beauties can be estimated. A general, and therefore a sufficient standard for Taste may be found by adverting to those qualities which universally please mankind, particularly what pleases persons who have been placed in circumstances most favourable to the cultivation of their taste. For there are beauties which, displayed: in a just point of view, must impart, even to the rudest mind, a degree of pleasure. In the very nature of some objects, a foundation is l'aid for agreeable contemplation. There are certain latent seeds of beauty, certain hidden excellencies, scattered by the hand of the Almighty throughout the whole extent of his dominions ! Nor is this observation to be con
fined to the works of nature, it must be extended also to the productions of art. Most arts are successful imitations of nature. Little, therefore, need be here said to prove that the re. mark just made is of equal application. Every performance describes either the sentiments or actions of mankind, and hence the more per. fect the description, the more entire is the re. semblance to nature which has ever charms to fascinate the heart. Homer's Iliad, Virgil's Æneid, and Milton's Paradise Lost, are admirable instances of what a just taste is able to effect in this particular way, Quintilian, that masterly critic, says, 'Homer extended the limits of human genius to their utmost stretch, and possessed such complete ideas of all the different kinds of writing, that he alone is a perfect model of all the different beauties that can enter into any composition.'
Nor must I close without reminding the read. er of the pleasures of Taste, usually stiled the pleasures of imagination. On these sources of en. joyment I could descant with rapture. The exquisite genius of Addison first attempted to reduce them into a system under these three heads --- beauty, grandeur, and novelty. His speculations on the subject may be found in the sixth volume of the Spectator. He has opened a track of investigation, which may be success. fully followed. Dr. Akenside's poem, entitled, Pleasures of Imagination, contains many pas. sages illustrative of this topic, and may be read both for profit and amusement. Addressing himself to the Divine Being, in a strain worthy of the theme, he exclaims :
.............. Not content
By kind illusions of the wond'ring sense
The pleasures of Taste are indeed more commonly distributed into those of the beauti. ful and sublime. What constitutes the one and the other has been the subject of enquiry. The principles ou which they are founded have been investigated with a commendable industry. It is agreed that the beautiful results from colour, figure, motion, design, and from the combination ofthese qualities in objects either of nature or of art. On the other hand, the sublime arises from a certain grandeur contemplated with a reverential awe, or a profound admiration, Mr. Burke places it in a kind of terror, though sublime objects might be mentioned into whose composition nothing terrible enters. It is how. ever, confessed, that sublimity, either in natu. ral or moral objects, always elevates the mind dilating it with the grandest sensations !
It is of importance to Youth, that their minds should be laid open betimes to these sources of enjoyment. With their intrinsic value the sensualist must be utterly unacquainted. Bacchanalian revels impart no such joys. The boasted satisfaction of vulgar minds is not to be put in competition with them. The plea. sures of Taste grow upon the individual who cultivates them. The faculty of enjoyment is rendered more capacious by frequent exercise. Every object in nature, and every subject in art, affords materials for pleasing conteinpla. tion. The seasons of the year are replete with entertainment. To the man of taste, the bleak. ness of winter, the novelties of spring, the ful. ness of summer, and the luxuriance of autumn,