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who study to improve it by the observation and comparison of external objects only.

A cultivated Tafte, combined with a creative Imagination, constitutes Genius in the Fine Arts. Without taste, imagination could produce only a random analysis and combination of our conceptions; and without imagination, taste would be deftitute of the faculty of invention. These two ingredients of genius may be mixed together in all possible proportions ; and where either is pofsefled in a degree remarkably exceeding what falls to the ordinary share of mankind, it may compensate in some mealure for a deficiency in the other. An uncommonly correct taste, with little imagination, if it does not produce works which excite admiration, produces at least nothing which can offend. An uncommon fertility of imagination, even when it offends, excites qur wonder by its creative power; and thews what it could have performed, had its exertions been guided by a more perfect model.

In the infancy of the Arts, an union of these two powers in the fame mind is necessary for the production of every work of genius. Tafte, without imagination, is, in such a situation, impoffible ; for, as there are no monuments of antient genius on which it can be formed, it must be the relult of experiments, which nothing but the imagination of every individual can enable him to make. Such a tafte must necessarily be imperfect, in consequence of the limited experience of which it is the result; but, without imagination, it could not have been acquired even in this imperfect degree.

In the progress of the Arts the case comes to be altered. The productions of genius accumulate to such an extent, chat taste may be formed by a careful study of the works of others; and as formerly imagination had served as a necessary foundation for tafte, so taste begins now to invade the province of

imagination. The combinations which the latter, faculty has been employed in making, during a long succeffion of ages, approach to infinity; and present such ample materials to a judicious selection, that with a high standard of excellence, continually pre sent to the thoughts, industry, affifted by the most moderate degree of imagination, will, in time, produce performances, not only more free from faults, but incomparably more powerful in their effects, than the most original efforts of untutored genius, which, guided by an uncultivated taste, copies after an inferior model of perfection. What Reynolds observes of Painting, may be applied to all the other Fine Arts ; that, “as the Painter, by bringing togeth,

er in one piece, those beauties, which are dispersed amongst a great variety of individuals, produces a

figure more beautiful than can be found in nature ; 66 so that artist who can unite in himself the excel.

lencies of the various painters, will approach near“ er to perfection than any of his masters."*


Of the Influence of Imagination on Human Character and


HITHERTO we have considered the power of Imagination chiefly as it is connected with the Fine Arts. But it deserves our attention still more, on account of its extensive influence on human character and happiness.

The lower animals, as far as we are able to judge, are entirely occupied with the objects of their prefent perceptions : and the case is nearly the same with the inferior orders of our own species. One of the principal effects which a liberal education produces on the mind, is to accuftom us to withdraw our attention from the objects of sense, and to direct it, at pleasure, to those intellectual combinations which delight the imagination. Even, however, among men of cultivated understandings, this faculty is poffefsed in very unequal degrees by different individuals ; and these differences (whether resulting from original conftitution or from early education) lay the foundation of some striking varieties in human character.

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What we commonly call sensibility, depends, in a great measure, on the power of imagination. Point out to two men, any object of compassion ;-a man, for example, reduced by misfortune from easy circumstances to indigence. The one feels merely in proportion to what he perceives by his senses. The other follows, in imagination, the untortunate man to his dwelling, and partakes with him and his fam. ily in their domestic distresses. He listens to their conversation, while they recal to remembrance the flattering prospects they onco indulged; the circle of friends they had been forced to leave; the liberal plans of education which were begun and interrupted; and pictures out to himself all the various resources which delicacy and pride suggest, to conceal poverty

from the world. As he proceeds in painting, his sensibility increases, and he weeps, not for what he fees, but for what he imagines. It will be said, that it was his sensibility which originally roused his imagination; and the observation is undoubtedly true ; but it is equally evident, on the other hand, that the warmth of his imagination increases and prolongs his sensibility.

This is beautifully illustrated in the Sentimental Journey of Sterne, While engaged in a train of re. flections on the State Prisons in France, the accidental fight of a starling in a cage suggests to him the

idea of a captive in his dungeon. He indulges his
imagination," and looks through the twilight of the

grated door to take the picture.”
« I beheld,” says he,) « his body half-wasted a-

way with long expectation and confinement, and “ felt what kind of sickness of the heart it is, which “ arises from hope deferred. Upon looking nearer, " I saw him pale and feverish ; in thirty years the " western breeze had not once fanned his blood : he “ had seen no fun, no moon, in all that time, nor had “ the voice of friend or kinsman breathed through “ his lattice.His children-But here my heart “ began to bleed, and I was forced to go on with an“ other part of the portrait.

“ He was sitting upon the ground, in the farthest “ corner of his dungeon, on a little straw, which

was alternately his chair and bed : a little calen« der of finall sticks was laid at the head, notched all

over with the dismal days and nights he had pas.

fed there :-he had one of these little sticks in his " hand and with a rusty nail he was etching another day of misery to add to the heap. As I darkened “ the little light he had, he lifted up a hopeless eye " towards the door, then cast it down-fhook his “ head, and went on with his work of affliction."

The foregoing observations may account, in part, for the effect which exhibitions of fictitious distress produce on some persons, who do not discover much sensibility to the distresses of real life. In a Novel, or a Tragedy, the picture is completely finished in all its parts, and we are made acquainted not only with every circumstance on which the distress turns, but with the sentiments and feelings of every character with respect to his situation. In real life we see, in general, only detached scenes of the Tragedy ; and the impression is flight, .unless imagination finishes the characters, and supplies the incidents that are wanting

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It is not only to scenes of distress that imagination increases our sensibility. It gives us a double share in the prosperity of others, and enables us to partake, with a more lively intereft, in every fortunate incident that occurs either to individuals or to communities. Even from the productions of the earth, and the viciffitudes of the year, it carries forward our thoughts to the enjoyments they bring to the sensitive creation, and by interesting our benevolent affections in the scenes we behold, lends a new charm to the beauties of nature. I have often been inclined to think that the

apparent coldness and selfishness of mankind may be traced, in a great measure, to a want of attention and a want of imagination. In the case of misfortunes which happen to ourselves, or to our near connections, neither of these powers is necessary to make us acquainted with our situation; so that we feel, of necessity, the correspondent emotions. But without an uncommon degree of both, it is impossible for any man to comprehend completely the situation of his neighbor, or to have an idea of a great part of the distress which exists in the world. If we feel therefore more for ourselves than for others, the dif. ference is to be ascribed, at least partly, to this ; that, in the former case, the facts which are the founda. tion of our feelings, are more fully before us than they possibly can be in the latter.

In order to prevent misapprehensions of my meaning, it is necessary for me to add, that I do not mean to deny that it is a law of our nature, in cases in which there is an interference between our own interest and that of other men, to give a certain degree of preference to ourselves; even supposing our neighbor's situation to be as completely known to us

I only affirm, that, where this preference becomes blameable and unjust, the effect is to

as our own.

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