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als out of which mediocrity may select and combine, so as to escape the charge of plagairism. And, in fact, in our own language, this, as well as the other great resource of poetical expression, the employment of appropriated words, has had its effect lo much impaired by the abule which has been made of it, that a few of our best poets of late have endeavored to strike out a new path for themfelves, by resting the elevation of their composition chiefly on a singular, and, to an ordinary writer, an unattainable union of harmonious versification, with a natural arrangement of words, and a simple elegance of expression. It is this union which seems to form the distinguishing charm of the poetry of Goldsmith,
From the remarks which have been made on the influence of the association of ideas on our judgments in matters of tafte, it is obvious how much the opinions of a nation with respect to merit in the fine arts; are likely to be influenced by the form of their government, and the state of their man.
Voltaire, in his discourse pronounced at his reception into the French academy, gives several reasons why the poets of that country have not fucceeded in describing rural scenes and employments. The principal one is, the ideas of meanness, and poverty and wretchedness, which the French are accustomed to associate with the profession of husbandry. The same thing is alluded to by the Abbé de Lille, in the preliminary discourse prefixed to his translation of the Georgics.“ A tranflation," says he, “ of this
poem, if it had been undertaken by an author of “ genius, would have been better calculated than
any other work, for adding to the riches of our “ language. A version of the Æneid itself, howev“ er well executed, would, in this respect, be of less " utility ; inasmuch as the genius of our tongue ac“commodates itself more easily to the description
“ of heroic achievements, than to the details of nat. “ ural phenomena, and of the operations of husband
To force it to express these with suitable dig. “ nity, would have been a real conquest over that “ false delicacy, which it has contracted from our « unfortunate prejudices."
How different must have been the emotions with which this divine performance of Virgil was read by an ancient Roman, while he recollected that period in the history of his country, when dictators were called from the plough to the defence of the state, and after having led monarchs in triumph, returned again to the fame happy and independent occupa. tion. A state of manners to which a Roman author of a later age looked back with such enthusiasm, that he afcri' es, by a bold poetical figure, the fourishing state of agriculture under the republic, to the grateful returns which the earth then made to the illustrious hands by which she was cultivated.“ Gaudente terra vomere laureato, et triumphali 6 aratore."*
Of the Influence of Asociation on our active Principles, and
on our moral Judgments.
IN order to illustrate a little farther, the influ. ence of the Association of Ideas on the human mind, I fhall add a few remarks on some of its effects on our active and moral principles. In stating these remarks, I shall endeavor to avoid, as much as pofsible, every occasion of controversy, by confining myself to such general views of the subject, as do not presuppose any particular enumeration of our original principles of action, or any particular fyftem con. cerning the nature of the moral faculty. If my health and leisure enable me to carry my plans into execution, I propose, in the sequel of this work, to resume these inquiries, and to examine the various opinions to which they have given rise.
in Plin. Nat. Hist, xviii, 4.
The manner in which the association of ideas operates in producing new principles of action, has been explained very diftin&ly by different writers. Whatever conduces to the gratification of any natural appetite, or of any natural desire, is itfelf desired on account of the end to which it is subfervient; and by being thus habitually associated in our apprehenfion with agreeable objects, it frequently comes, in process of time, to be regarded as valuable in itself, independently of its utility. It is thus that wealth becomes, with many, an ultimate object of pursuit ; although, at first, it is undoubtedly valued, merely on account of its subferviency to the attainment of other objects. In like manner, men are led to desire dress, equipage, retinue, furniture, on account of the eftimation in which they are supposed to be held by the public. Such desires are called by Dr. Hutchefon* secondary defires; and the origin is explained by him in the way which I have mentioned. 6. Since “ we are capable," fays he, "of reflection, memory, “ obfervation, and reasoning about the distant ten" dencies of objects and actions, and not confined to " things present, there must arise, in consequence of
our original defires, 'secondary delires of every thing imagined useful to gratify any of the prima
ry desires, and that with strength proportioned to “ the feveral original desires, and imagined useful“ ness or necefsity of the advantageous object.”— “ Thus," he continues, " as soon as we come to ap“ prehend the use of wealth or power to gratify any * of our original desires, we must alfo desire them; “ and hence arises the univerfality of these defires
* See his Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the Passions,
of wealth and power, since they are the means of “ gratifying all other desires." The only thing that appears to me exceptionable in the foregoing passage is, that the author classes the desire of
power with that of wealth ; whereas I apprehend it to be clear, (for reasons which I shall state in another part of this work,) that the former is a primary defire, and the latter a secondary one.
Our moral judgments, too, may be modified, and even perverted, to a certain degree, in consequence of the operation of the same principle. In the same manner in which a person who is regarded as a model of taste may introduce, by his example, an absurd or fantastical dress ; fo a man of splendid virtues may attract fome esteem also to his imperfections ; and, if placed in a conspicuous situation, may render his vices and follies objects of general imitation among the multitude.
“ In the reign of Charles II.” says Mr. Smith, * 5 a degree of licentiousness was deemed the characo teriflic of a liberal education. It was connected, « according to the notions of those times, with gen“ erosity, sincerity, magnanimity, loyalty; and pro6 ved that the person who acted in this manner, was “ a gentleman, and not a puritan. Severity of man“ ners, and regularity of conduct, on the other hand, " were altogether unfashionable, and were connect“ ed, in the imagination of that age, with cant, cun“ning, hypocrisy, and low manners. To superfi“ cial minds, the vices of the great seem at all times es agreeable. They connect them, not only with “ the fplendor of fortune, but with many superior “ virtues which they ascribe to their superiors; with
the spirit of freedom and independency; with “ frankness, generosity, humanity, and politeness. $ The virtues of the inferior ranks of people, on
*Theory of Moral Sentiments.
as the contrary, their parsimonious frugality, their “ painful industry, and rigid adherence to rules, “ seen to them mean and disagreeable. They conu nect them both with the meanness of the station " to which these qualities commonly belong, and " with many great vices which they suppose usually “ accompany them; such as an abject, cowardly, ili“ natured, lying, pilfering disposition.
The theory which, in the foregoing paffages from Hutcheson and Smith, is employed so justly and philosophically to explain the origin of our secondary desires, and to account for some perversions of our moral judgments, has been thought sufficient, by some later writers, to account for the origin of all our active principles without exception. The first of these attempts to extend so very far the application of the doctrine of Affociation was made by the Rev, Mr. Gay, in a dissertation “concerning the “ fundamental Principle of Virtue,” which is prefixed by Dr. Law to his translation of Archbishop King's Efay“ On the Origin of Evil.” In this differtation, the author endeavours to shew, “ that “ our approbation of morality, and all affections 6 whatsoever, are finally resolvable " into reason, “ pointing out private happiness, and are conver“ lant only about things apprehended to be means “ tending to this end, and that wherever this end “ is not perceived, they are to be accounted for « from the affociation of ideas, and may properly “ be called habits." The same principles have been fince pushed to a much greater length by Dr. Harta ley, whose system (as he himself informs us) took rise from his accidentally hearing it mentioned as an opinion of Mr. Gay, " that the affociation of i. “ deas was sufficient to account for all our intellect, “ ual pleasures and pains*."
* Mr. Hume too, who in my opinion has carried this principle of the Association of Ideas a great deal too far, has compared the