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That circleth thas our world, and blotteth some portion of the "Mystery,”. it out
certainly “ follows hard upon't ;" and The glories of the day! Th’unhappy,– it comes recommended to us by purity where!
of sentiment, and by propriety, moI hear no more the anguish of his cries, The thunderbolt have still’d them. Mercy, that dangerous and faulty production
rality, and sacredness of diction, which Heaven ! Have mercy on the fallen, Soft, the day is not such a delineator of character as
avowedly discarded. If Mr. Lyndsay Breaketh over the darkness. Mine elder boro, where art thou? Gone, Lord Byron, if he is inferior to him in - behold!
tenderness and heart-reaching desThe Eternal hath accorded his sad prayer, cription, and if his poetry is geneAnd with the lightning is his being gone. rally more unequal in splendour than He came in misery into the world, the author of Cbilde Harolde's, yet In darkness haih departed. Lo! a heap with great and powerful talents he Ofsmoking aslies on the mouldering bones is free from those delinquencies of Of the first sleeper lies; it is the last his rival, which like the rattle-snake, Sad remnant of the slayer; the grieved in a bower of bliss, entices to destroy. earth
The dogmas which modern philoso-Refuseth him a grave, the fiery doom Devours the murderer, he is entomb’d
phy, or, as Mr. Southey not inaptly By that which hath consumed bim; he
terms it, the “ Satanic School," have hath been
laboured to inculcate, so that we may Still sacred to his God, and sacredly
be rendered restless and discontented The wrath-devoted dies. May we to dust with our present hope, and with that Commit those ashes ? No! the winds of faith which the good and the venerable Heaven,
of other days have cemented with their The breath of the Almighty stirs them blood in the field and at the stake, have from
not found a proselyte or a teacber in Their resting-place, and scatters them the author before us; and we thereabroad.
fore on this account, as well as for it's Cain's atoms rise,-no more a heap of intrinsic and great merits, recommend
dust, But mingled with Creation. Air, earth, given us : for although his blossoms
the series of Dramas Mr. Lyndsay bas water, Take each your several offerings !"
may be, after all, but the wild and
uncultivated shoots of nature, yet If this be not quite equal subli- beneath them lurks no poison to dismity, grandeur, and imagination, to invigorate, and to destroy.
A Critical Dissertation on the Nature and Principles of Taste. By M. MÓDermot.
8vo. pp. 408. London, 1822. No subject has more perplexed this opinion discovered, the moment critics and philosophers than ihat of they advanced a little into the subject, taste and it's legitimate objects, the that unaided sense could never arrive sublime and beautiful in nature, and at that nice and exquisite perception in art; and the dificulty of discover- of beauty which constitutes taste. ing, what fixed quality, or combina- At the same time, they knew that tion of qualities, constituted beauty; a knowledge of beauty could not be and by wbat agency the emotion of acquired through the medium of reasublimity was excited in the mind, bas son, as the beauty of an object cannot not as yet been solved. The latest be known, unless it be felt. They writer on the subject, Professor Stew- continued, therefore, to make taste art, alluding to those who have already consist in feeling, though they could advanced their hypotheses, says, “the not tell by wbat process mere feeling success of their speculations has been could acquire so critical a dicernso inconsiderable, that little can be ment of beauty. This thcory also uninferred from them, but the impossi- fortunately stood confuted by the fact, bility of the problem to which they that taste and feeling were not always have been directed." The subject of found to accompany each other; and taste has equally perplexed critics, Montesquieu, having adopted this for it bas been generally considered doctrine of taste, defines it to be as an internal sense of beauty, though • something which attaches us to cercren the writers who have adopted tain objects by the power of an inter
nal sense, or feeling.” What this thing of his own infinitely superior. something, or internal sense is, he Mr. M‘Dermot endeavours to shew, however, does not attempt to explain. that taste is as distinct from sensibiOther writers, perceiving that foeling lity and feeling of any kind, as learnalone could not account for all the ing is from genius; that the most laws of taste, maintained it was an incorrect taste may be united with the acquired principle; but this was merely most ardent sensibility, and a very substituting one word for another, correct taste discovered in men, to as it is obvious from the views whom nature bas denied all original which they have taken of it, that they delicacy of feeling. He also satisstill considered the “principle” to be factorily proves, that taste consists in some kind of sense that perceives and perceiving, not in feeling, the quafeels beauty, at the same moment; for lities which constitute beauty, and that Voltaire, Burke, Reid, Sir Joshua it is obtained, not from our feelings, Reynolds, Gerard, and Allison, all but from the experience which the make taste consist in perceiving and mind acquires, by continually taking feeling the beauties of nature, without cognizance of the various emotions explaining how this perception is or modifications of feeling, which are acquired; Mr. Stewart, himself, in- excited by various appearances, in deed, has evidently treated the subject the works of nature and of art. He under the same impression with these shews that feeling is the foundation, writers, and considered taste as a sim- but not the matter of taste, and that, ple, original principle. In explain- consequently, feeling may exist with ing the manner in which he has ar out taste, as a foundation may be ranged his argumcnts, he tells us, that laid without any superstructure erected he has “ considered it chiefly as the upon it. On the contrary, he thinks native growth of the individual mind that the cultivation of taste serves to which it belongs ;” and says, that only to repress the original ardour of “ in cases where nature has not been feeling; and perhaps to dim it's inso liberal as to render the formation fluence. of this power (taste) possible, merely The first chapter treats of “ tlie from the minds own internal resources, nature of taste, and wherein it differs much may be done by judicious cul- from sensibility;" and the language ture, in early life.” This is obviously throughout, possesses those characto acknowledge, that taste is a faculty teristics of case and elegance, which implanted in our nature, which grows would too often seem unattainable in ap of itself, except in cases where metaphysical subjects. Mr. M.Dermot nature has been so partial of her commences his subject as follows:-. favours, as to refuse the boon. Such is the confused and apparently
" Whoever would make himself acinexplicable subject which Mr. M.Der- quainted with the original archetypes of mot has undertaken to develope in the beauty that exist in nature, or with the work before us; and we must confess, imitative heauties of art, whether prethat when we opened his volume, and sented through the medium of language looked at it's title, we were tempted
or of painting, whether they brighten in immediately to lay it down again, or fix the attention of the admiring spec
the inspired page of a Homer or a Milton, sickened as we were with all that we
tator to the glowing canvass of a Rapliael, had previously read upon the subject; or an Angelo ; -- whoever would commune and believing as we did, that it con- with those qualities of mind that irradiate tained something in it's own nature thought, and enrobe sentiment in the that wrested it from the grasp of me- light vesture of beauty,--must first make taphysical reasoning. Curiosity, how- himself acqnainted with that association cver, led us to read the first page, and or disposition of qualities in which seni. a secret interest which the author has sible and intellectnal beauty consists the art of conferring on his subject, It is this knowledge that constiintes taste; carried us entirely through it. We whence it follows, that the extent of our perased it, indeed, with peculiar satis- acquaintance with the qualities of beauty faction to ourselves, for the author always determines the extent of our ac appears, to us, to have removed the A knowledge of the one necessarily im
quaintance with the principles of taste. vague, conjectural notions which bave plies a knouledge of the other; and when been heretofore entertained on the we say it is dithcult to define taste, we subject, and to have substituted sonc only acknowledge that it is difficult to tell
in what beauty corsists. If the qualities view. If we are to be deterred by the of beauty were fixed, and invariable, an ill success of others, what becomes of that acquaintance with them would render our ideas of taste as fixed and permanent,
• Emulation, whose keen eye por would it longer be pronounced that
Forward still and forward strains, volatile and airy faculty which will not
Nothing ever deeming high endure the chains of a definition, and
While a higher hope remains?' which stands for a different idea in differ A belief that this common quality has a ent minds. Beauty and taste, though real existence in the nature of things, they belong to different subjects, cannot that it connects all the other qualities of be separated : the former belongs to the beauty, and that the term beautiful is object perceived; the latter to the perci- applied to no object in which it's connectpient. 'Taste is an acquired power of ing power does not prevail, has alone diseriminating those qualities of sensible induced me to engage in the present and intellectual being, which, from the enquiry; but, as I contine myself entirely, invisible harmony that exists between
at present, to the investigation of those them and the constitution of our nature, mental energies, and mediums of sensible are endowed with the property of exciting perception, that are necessarily exeroised in us pleasing and delightful emotions, in in the cultivation of taste, the subject of degrees proportioned to our natural sen- beanty will necessarily belong to the sibility, and of distinguishing from them second part of this work. the opposite qaalities of ugliness, which It is of the first importance to set ont excite, in similar degrees, the opposite with a just view of oor subject, as a leademotions of aversion and disgust. Beauty, ing error is generally the cause of all our as it is distinguished from taste, of which false theories, in morals, in philosophy, it is the proper object, may be defined, and in religion. A leading fundamental that association of qualities in sensible error must necessarily affect all the suband intellectual being which awakens in divisions of the theory that arise from it, us the above emotions of pleasure or de- as they must owe their truth or falsehood light, and in the discrimination of which
to the principle from which they arise, taste is conversant. In this definition of and on which they are founded. It will beauty, I have considered it only in refer not, therefore, be amiss, that I should ence to taste, without any regard to the first make some observations on the opiprinciple by which the qualities of beauty nion which former writers seemed to have awaken in us their correspondent emo entertained of Taste, as these observations. This principle has been anxiously tions will not only give ns a more correct sought after by the most eminent philoso- idea of it's nature and office, but they phers in England, France, and Germany; will afford us an opportunity of perceiving and, indeed, an enquiry into the origin of the process by which it is cultivated. the emotions prodnced by the sublime They will also shew, that the erroneous and beautiful, in nature and in art, has definitions of taste which have been been a favourite topic with many elegant adopted by former writers, have, unawriters, since the time of Longinus. voidably, led them into many inconsistenProfessor Stewart, however, in his late cies on the subject. work on the subject, tells us, that the Dr. Blair, in his Essay on Taste, defines success of their speculations has been so it to be a power of receiving pleasure inconsiderable, that little can be inferred from the beauties of nature and of art;' a from them, but the impossibility of the definition which seems to be borrowed problem to which they have been directed.' from the following passage in Akenside: This sweeping clause, coming from so bigh an anthority, must have considerable "What, then, is taste but those internal intiacuce in deterring others, and, it
Active and strong, and feelingly alive wonld seem, should have deterred himself, from attempting the enodation of a To each fine impulse ?" problem that admits of no solution. If it According to this definition, which makes be true that no common quality belongs taste consist, not in a knowledge or perto objects, which entities them to the ception of the qualities of beauty in an name of bercutiful, it is idle, in the highest object, but in a passive faculty of being degree, to seek for that which has no pleased at their presence, it is possible to existence; but if such a qnality be allowed have a perfect knowledge of beauty withto exist, the fruitless attempts that have out any taste; and the best connoisseur been hitherto made to discover it, should can have no pretensions to it, unless lie not deter the labours of others, nor check feel a sensible pleasure whenever le perthat spirit of enquiry which seeks to trace ceives the beauties of a picture, a bust, or the origiual form and features through all a statue. But this is not all: a man may the varions and diversified: aspects in have an excellent taste in the morning, which they present themselves, to our and have none at night. We will suppose
that a French connoisseur takes his friend felt as mich pleasure as elther of his to the Louvre, to sbew him all the beauties friends in contemplating the paintings of art that are there deposited. He when he returned to the Louvre, if he dwells with rapture on the comprehen- had not exhausted himself with too much sive genius of Da Vinci, tie sublime con. exertion ; for a thousand other circumceptions of Angelo, the refined taste of stances might have prevented him from Raphael, the might and energy of the enjoying the least delight in these paintallegoric Rubens, the art of Corregio, 'the ings; and if these circumstances should tenderness
and delicacy of Titian, the ex continue for life, they would always exerpression of Dominico, the airs of Guido, cise their influence over him, so that it and the carnations of Giorgion. In a could never be known that he was a man word, be seems himself to be possessed of taste, because he never evinced that with the spirit of these mighty masters, pleasure in which it is made to consist, and to glow with the bright and inspiring though his acquaintance with the beauties ardour of their creative genius.
of art might have been generally known
and admired. ce feu, cette divine flamme, L'esprit de notre esprit, & l'ame de notre tain, than that men of the most exquisite
“ Nothing, indeed, can be more cerame.'
taste, confining the term, as I have done, He returns, at length, with his friend, to the mere power of discriminating beauty, exhausted with exertion, and surfeited are not always those who are with intellectual delight. On his return strongly affected by it's influence; and I home he meets with another friend, who am inclined to think, that very satisfacimportunes him, thus fatigued, to return tory reasons may be adduced to shew, with him to the Louvre. They return that the best judges cannot be the most He points out to his friend the same ardent admirers of beanty. Of all other beauties which he had already described: attainments, taste requires the highest he perceives them now as clearly as he did degree of cultivation : sensibility, of all before ; but so far from giving him back our natural endowments, requires the those transports which he had already least. It is so tender a plant, that any felt, so far from enjoying that pleasure in attempt to improve, only serves to injure which Dr. Blair. makes taste consist, he it,--to strip it of that keen and eager views them with uneasiness and pain. susceptibility of delight which it has reThey are no longer objects of satisfaction ceived from nature. In proportion as we to him; and politeness alone induces enquire into it's properties, and the him to remain with his friend. The causes by which it is apt to be excited, latter, on the contrary, though ignorant we render it less disposed to yield to of the first rudiments of painting, feels them, though we extend our knowledge, the most lively satisfaction at all the and become better acquainted with these beauties and charms that are described to exciting causes. As the qualities of him. To apply this snpposed case to Dr. beauty are among the causes which affect Blair's definition of taste, it is obvious, our natural sensibility, it must therefore if it consist in a power of receiving plea- follow, that in proportion as we become sure from the beauties of nature and of more and more acquainted with these art, that the connoisseur was a man of qualities, and the manner in which they taste when he first visited the Louvre, excite their peculiar emotions, in the and a man of no taste when he visited it same proportion do we render this tenthe second time, though he was as well der faculty less disposed to give way to acquainted with the beauties of these their influence. When the young warrior celebrated paintings the second time as the first engages in a military life, every first; and it is equally obvions, that those wound awakens his compassion; the ex. whom he conducted there, bowever igno- piring hiero recalls to his mind all the rant we may suppose them to have been, tender recollections that cling to huma. were men of taste, in the most rigid nity; and his rage yielding to the sweetsense of Dr. Blair's definition, if they est of all voices, the voice of a common felt that pleasure in which he makes taste nature, and softened by feelings which he consist. Taste, then, does not necessarily cannot control, be stoops to offer the last suppose the idea of pleasure, nor even t:ibute of unavailing kindness to the the co-existence of a power of receiving agonizing brave. How different are the pleasure from the beanties of nature and indurated feelings of the old veteran, to of art, unless we admit, what cannot be whom scenes of havock and destruction admitted, that a man may be acquainted have long rendered death familiar in all with the beauties of nature and of art, it's terrific and subduing aspects. Thus and yet be destitute of taste, and that a it is that the native sensibilities of the man, ignorant of both, may possess it in heart will neither endure to be frequently the highest degree. It is no argument exercised, nor too philosophically ex. to say, that the connoisseur.would have amined. .
“ It is certain, however, that whatever tence, even that of the mind itself, is portion of sensibility, nature has imparted made known to us by perception; no to any man, it may exist during life, matter whether this perception be ac, unaccompanied by taste, if it's possessor quired through consciousness, or the indoes not give himself the habit of attend- telligence conveyed through the intervening to the manner in which he finds him- tion of the reasoning or sensitive faculself affected by different models, or forms ties. We cannot, therefore, affirm the of beauty, so that taste is not necessarily existence of any thing, of which we have connected with sensibility in any of it's no perception, of which no sensible or degrees; and he who gives himself this abstract image ever presented itself to habit of attention will soon find his natu our minds; because, if it even did exist, ral sensibility. less feelingly alive to it's existence is concealed from us. It is each fine impulse,' so that, as I have evident, then, that if we never perceived already observed, by the time his taste is or felt conscious of the existence of beauty completely formed, that extreme ardour in the mind, we could never think of it's of feeling which he experienced in his existing there : and so far from maintain more untntored years, is less sensibly ing the position, we should never dream felt, or rather it is now ripened into a of it. Remove, then, the presence of manly and rational habit of estimating, external objects, and all this consciousthrough the medium of reason and ex ness or perception of beauty, in or out of perience, and not through the delusive the mind, is removed along with it; and colouring of a glowing imagination, the so far from defending it's existence any just degree of influence which the beau- where, the faintest image of beauty would ties of nature and of art ought to possess never present itself to us; nor could all over him. The chaste, manly, and ele- the ingenuity of man ever reflect that vated feelings which a man experiences such a thing as beauty could exist at all. after his taste is formed, compared to those which spread a pleasing and agreea In the third chapter Mr. M'Dermot ble tamult over his soul, in the undiscri- treats at considerable length, on the minating season of youth and inexpe “ Standard of Taste ;" but our limits rience, inay be aptly compared to the deny us the pleasure of giving any rich and luxuriant productions of Autumn, abstract of the diversity of reasoning contrasted with the green and enchanting, but as yet unprized, and unproduc. which he employs on this interest tive generations of Spring; and as every
ing subject. The chief principles season has blessings peculiar to itself, so which he wishes to maintain are, that it is not to be doubted, but that the the common feeling of mankind is the pleasing delusions of youth and inexpe true standard of taste, and that whatrience are happily exchanged, in our ever is acknowledged as beautiful by riper years, for those inore correct, more the writers of all ages and nations, iş dignified, and more rational feelings to be regarded as the voice of this which belong to a refined and cultivated
common feeling. He maintains, howe taste.”
ever, that in determining any point In the second chapter, Mr. M‘Der- where we have no opportunity of asmot confutes the arguments which certaining the common feeling, every have been advanced against the exis- individual, instead of trusting to his tence of beauty, in external objects. own feelings, should be guided by Hame contends, that “ beauty is no discussion and comparison. This, quality in things themselves; but however, is denied by writers of the exists merely in the mind, and each greatest authority. D'Alembert mainmind perceives a different beauty.” tains, that pbilosophy only tends to
To this sceptical view of beauty, diminish our pleasures, and that which explodes all taste in exploding whenever it stands opposed to our it's object, Mr. M.Dermot thus re- feelings, in judging of beauty, we plies:
should reject it's decision, and trust “ If beauty, according to this theory of to them alone. This, we believe, is Mr. Hume, exist not in things, but in the the popular doctrine, though it apmind that perceives them, why is the presence of these things necessary before pears to us that Mr. M.Dermot has we bave any perception of beauty in the clearly proved it's fallacy. mind? That which exists in the mind,
We regret that we cannot attend and only in the mind, can be perceived the author through the remainder of by the mind; or if it cannot, so far from this interesting chapter, uor take farhaving any certainty of it's existing there, ther notice of the work at present. even the possibility of it's existence would We, however, most warmly' recomnever have occurred to us. All exis-. mend it's perusal to all our readers,