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of the art. This may be distinguished as the taste of comparison. It is often found among those, who devote their time to visiting galleries of paintings, and other collections of works in the fine arts. This kind of taste is a source of enjoyment to its possessor, and is often found united with merit as an author or artist. Some men succeed better, when they take the taste of another for their guide, than when they rely on their own.“ Velles eum suo ingenio dixisse, alienu judicio."*
But the man of taste, in the true use of the word, does not, like the mere critic of technical skill, only apply the rules of his art. Neither, in forming his decisions, does he bring every object of which he judges, to some favorite standard of excellence. Truth and nature are the models which he has studied, and he has found them alike in the objects of creation around him, in the scenes of real life, and in the creations of genius. Like Numa of old, he has his Egeria in the woods, and after holding high converse with this mysterious revealer of the secrets of nature, he comes forth to the world, and discloses, as if by inspiration, the principles of the empire of taste, and the laws of her dominion. To him belongs the prophetic eye of taste. He can not only decide with correctness on the scene spread out before him,but surveying the visions of his own mind-the scenes that exist only in the world of imagination, he can anticipate with unerring certainty their beauty and effect. There is also an unchanging uniformity in the decisions of philosophical taste. On this principle Quinctilian has
* You commend the genius of the writer, but prefer, that it should be guided by another's taste, rather than by his
said, “ Ille se profecisse sciat, cui Cicero valde placebit."* On this principle, Homer, and Virgil, and Demosthenes, and Cicero have been admired, wherever they have been known Here also is the only foundation of hope to the aspirant after literary immortality.
The Fine Arts are so closely connected with the subject of taste, that I subjoin to this chapter a short account of what is meant by them.
The Fine, Elegant, or Polite Arts, for these epithets are synonymous, are so called in distinction from the Useful Arts. The former are designed to please; the latter aim at the supply of human wants.
It is true, that works in the useful arts may be so constructed as to please, at the same time that they subserve our necessities. And on the other hand, works that please, and are designed to please, may be useful.
Hence it may be difficult in regard to some productions: in the arts, to say to which they belong, the Useful, or the Elegant; still there is ground for the distinction that has been made, and according to the design-to please, or to be useful, we say that some arts are elegant and others useful.
Of the Fine Arts, some are imitative, and others symbolical. Some exhibit an exact representation of the object or scene they would present before the mind ; such are Painting and Sculpture. These are called imitative fine arts. Others make use of signs which have been agreed upon among inen for the representation of objects; such are Music and Poetry. These, in dis
* Whoever can discern the excellencies of Cicero, may hence learn, that he has himself made proficiency as an orator.
tinction from the former, may be called symbolical fine arts.
It has been stated, that the design of works in the fine arts is to please. This may be effected in two different
ways. The object or scene brought before the mind, may be such as is suited to excite grateful emotions, or the mind may be pleased with the skill that is shewn in the execution of the work. In the former case, when the object or scene represented has no original in nature, but is a creation of the artist's mind, while we regard the objeot of the work, and notice how the different parts of it tend to the promotion of this object, we are said to observe the primary beauties, or the beauties of design. But whether the scene or object represented be an exact copy of some original in nature, or a creation of the artist's mind, if the attention be die rected only to the skill shewn in the execution of the work, we are said to observe secondary beauties, or the beauties of exécution.
The art of writing or composition, whether elegant or useful, is one of the symbolical arts. There is no exact imitation of what is designed to be brought before the mind, but objects and scenes are represented by words as symbols. This must evidently increase the difficulty of the artist, or writer ; for though he may have in his own mind distinct views of what is fitted to excite emom tions of taste, and may connect these views with the signs which he uses, yet, if the reader do not attach the same views to the signs used, they will fail to excite in his mind the emotions designed to be produced. Much then will depend upon the skill with which these signs are used, and hence it is, that in literary productions so much attention is paid with the design of pleasing, to the execution of the work.
inay here also see a reason, why the beauties of design in literary productions are said to be addressed to the imagination of the readers. As we have seen in the last chapter, it is by the aid of the imagination that the artist is able to design those objects and scenes, which are the creations of his own mind. When these creations have been formed, they are represented by the signs that are used. Now it is obviously the imagination of the reader, which must interpret these signs. They are designed to set his imagination in excercise, and to cause it to present before the mind an object or scene, similar to that which the writer had in view when using these signs; and if the reader have no powers of imagination, the attempt of the writer to place before him a' scene fitted to excite emotions of pleasure, will be vain.
ON LITERARY TASTE.
LITERARY taste is the judgment of whatever of a literary nature is designed to excite emotions of beauty, grandeur and sublimity, founded upon the past experience of emotions of the same kind. It is the object of this chapter to explain the nature of literary taste as thus defined, and to offer, in connexion with examples, such directions and cautions as may aid in its improvement. The word literature is most frequently used as denoting something in distinction from science. In this sense it refers to certain classes of writing. Such are
Poetry and Fictitious Prose, Historical, Epistolary and Essay writing. On the other hand, a treatise on Optics or Electricity, or a work on Intellectual Philosophy, is classed under the head of Science. In examining this division, we find, that those works are classed under the head of literature, in which there is thought to be oppor inity for interesting and pleasing the mind by the mode of exhibiting objects and scenes to its view ; while those, which are designed only to elucidate and establish principles in any branch of knowledge, or to give exercise to the reasoning powers, are called science.
There is however a more extended sense, in which the word literature is used. It is often intended to refer merely to the use of words as a mode of exhibiting the thoughts and views of the mind, and thus embraces all that is committed to letters. In this sense of the word, we might speak of Euclid's Elements of Geometry as a literary work, and say of the literature of any particular age, that it is of a scientific kind.
As it is not the object of this part of the work to direct the attention of the student to particular classes of literary productions, I shall here consider the word literature as used in its most extensive sense, and consequently, in treating of attempts of a literary kind to excite emotions of taste, I shall refer to what is more particularly connected with the style.
If now we examine the various classes of literary productions, we shall find, that there are attempts to excite emotions of taste common in some degree to all.
Such are well chosen words, well turned expressions, and happy illustrations. These are called the ornaments of style, and though not essential to the communication of the writer's thoughts, they are often highly useful. They allure and fix the attention, and aid in the full and clear exhibition of what is communicated.