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he has expreffed the fame feeling, which, in all ages and nations, has led good men, unaccustomed to reasoning, to an implicit faith in the creed of their infancy;-a feeling which affords an evi dence of the existence of the Deity, incomparably more ftriking, than if, unmixed with error and undebased by fuperftition, this most important of all principles had commanded the univerfal affent of mankind. Where are the other truths, in the whole circle of the sciences, which are so essential to human happiness, as to procure an eafy accefs, not only for themselves, but for whatever opinions may happen to be blended with them? Where are the truths fo venerable and commanding, as to impart their own sublimity to every trifling memorial which recals them to our remembrance; to bestow folemnity and elevation on every mode of expreffion by which they are conveyed; and which, in whatever fcene they have habitually occupied the thoughts, confecrate every object which it presents to our fenfes, and the very ground we have been accustomed to tread? To attempt to weaken the authority of fuch impreffions, by a detail of the endless variety of forms, which they derive from cafual affociations, is furely an employment unsuitable to the dignity of philofophy. To the vulgar, it may be amufing, in this, as in other inftances, to indulge their wonder at what is new or uncommon; but to the philofopher it belongs to perceive, under all thefe various difguifes, the workings of the fame common nature; and in the fuperstitions of Egypt, no less than in the lofty vifions of Plato, to recognize the existence of thofe moral ties
which unite the heart of man to the Author of his
Influence of the Association of Ideas on our Judgments in
THE HE very general obfervations which I am to make in this Section, do not prefuppofe any particular theory concerning the nature of Tafte. It is fufficient for my purpose to remark, that Taste is not a fimple and original faculty, but a power gradually formed by experience and observation. It implies, indeed, as its ground-work, a certain degree of natural fenfibility; but it implies alfo the exercise of the judgment; and is the flow refult of an attentive examination and comparison of the agreeable or difagreeable effects produced on the mind by external objects.
Such of my readers as are acquainted with " An "Effay on the Nature and Principles of Taste," lately published by Mr. Alifon, will not be furprised that I decline the difcuffion of a fubject which he has treated with so much ingenuity and elegance.
The view which was formerly given of the process by which the general laws of the material world are investigated, and which I endeavoured to illuftrate by the state of medicine among rude nations, is strictly applicable to the hiftory of Tafte. That certain objects are fitted to give pleasure, and others difguft, to the mind, we know from experience alone; and it is Bb impof
impoffible for us, by any reasoning a priori, to explain, how the pleasure or the pain is produced. In the works of nature we find, in many instances, Beauty and Sublimity involved among circumstances, which are either indifferent, or which obftru&t the general effect and it is only by a train of experiments, that we can separate those circumftances from the reft, and ascertain with what particular qualities the pleasing effect is connected. Accordingly, the inexperienced artist, when he copies Nature, will copy her fervilely, that he may be certain of fecuring the pleafing effect; and the beauties of his performances will be encumbered with a number of fuperfluous or of difagreeable concomitants. Experience and obfervation alone can enable him to make this difcrimination to exhibit the principles of beauty pure unadulterated, and to form a creation of his own, more faultlefs than ever fell under the obfervation of his fenfes.
This analogy between the progress of Tafte from rudeness to refinement; and the progress of physical knowledge from the fuperftitions of a favage tribe, to the investigation of the laws of nature, proceeds on the fuppofition, that, as in the material world there are general facts, beyond which philofophy is unable to proceed; fo, in the conftitution of man, there is an inexplicable adaptation of the mind to the objects with which thefe faculties are converfant; in confequence of which, these objects are fitted to produce agreeable or disagreeable emotions. In both cafes, reasoning may be employed with propriety to refer particular phenomena to general principles; but in
both cafes, we must at last arrive at principles of which no account can be given, but that fuch is the will of our Maker.
A great part, too, of the remarks which were made in the last Section on the origin of popular prejudices, may be applied to explain the influence of cafual affociations on Tafte; but these remarks do not fo completely exhaust the subject, as to fuperfede the neceffity of farther illustration. In matters of Taste, the effects which we confider, are produced on the Mind itself; and are accompanied either with pleasure or with pain. Hence the tendency to cafual affociation, is much stronger than it commonly is, with respect to phyfical events; and when fuch affociations are once formed, as they do not lead to any important inconvenience, fimilar to thofe which refult from phyfical mistakes, they are not fo likely to be corrected by mere experience, unaffisted by study. To this it is owing, that the influence of affociation on our judgments concerning beauty and deformity, is ftill more remarkable than on our fpeculative conclufions; a circumstance which has led fome philofophers to fuppofe, that affociation is fufficient to account for the origin of thefe notions; and that there is no fuch thing as a standard of Taste, founded on the principles of the human conftitution. But this is undoubtedly pushing the theory a great deal too far. The affociation of ideas can never account for the origin of a new notion; or of a pleasure effentially different from all the others which we know. It may, indeed, enable us to conceive how a thing indifferent in itself, may become a fource of pleafure, by being
connected in the mind with fomething else which is naturally agreeable; but it prefuppofes, in every instance, the existence of those notions and those feelings which it is its province to combine: infomuch that, I apprehend, it will be found, wherever affociation produces a change in our judgments on matters of Tafte, it does fo, by co-operating with fome natural principle of the mind, and implies the éxistence of certain original fources of pleasure and uneafinefs.
A mode of drefs, which at firft appeared awkward, To acquires, in a few weeks or months, the appearance of elegance. By being accustomed to fee it worn by those whom we confider as models of Tafte, it becomes affociated with the agreeable impreffions which we receive from the ease and grace and refinement of their manners. When it pleases by itself, the effect is to be afcribed, not to the object actually before us, but to the impreffions with which it has been generally connected, and which it naturally recalls to the mind.
This obfervation points out the cause of the perpetual viciffitudes in drefs, and in every thing whose chief recommendation arifes from fashion. It is evident that, as far as the agreeable effect of an ornament arifes from affociation, the effect will continue only while it is confined to the higher orders. When it is adopted by the multitude, it not only ceases to be affociated with ideas of taste and refinement, but it is affociated with ideas of affectation, abfurd imitation, and vulgarity. It is accordingly laid afide by the higher orders, who ftudiously avoid every cir