Puslapio vaizdai
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"fenfe." This formidable champion has, it feems, given "the laft fatal blow to languishing fophiftry."To be ferious, I am as willing as Mr. K. to allow every poffible degree of merit to Dr. Beattie's intentions. Dr. B. ranks very high. in that class of men, amongst whom Mr. K. himfelf makes no contemptible figure: I mean the men of claffical taste and polite literature; and his truly elegant and ingenious productions I have read with peculiar pleasure; but notwithstanding the high encomium paffed upon him by Mr. K. I acknowledge I entirely coincide in opinion with those who think it fortunate for Dr. B. that his literary reputation does not depend upon his fkill in Metaphyfics. In my apprehenfion, Truth is under little obligation to a champion, who con. feffes his inability to oppofe argument to argument, and filence sophistry by just reasoning; and who, by way of compenfation, pretends to erect for her protection, as a dernier refort, a court of appeal, in which a pretended infallible judge, a kind of Pope, prefides, ftiled by Dr. B. "Common Senfe;" but I fufpect his true name is "Vulgar Prejudice;" who decides in cafes which have been thought very intricate without a moment's hefitation, and without giving himself the trouble to hear counfel on either fide, though both parties are very defirous of pleading their refpective causes; and alledge, that they have much to offer in their own defence. I will not however affert, that Dr. Beattie's elaborate work is without its use.

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An honest well-meaning man, fuch as Mr. K. defcribes in his forty-fecond Effay, who for the first forty or fifty years of his life has studied no other books than his journal and ledger, and afterwards retires into the country to ftudy Berkeley and Hume, may well be alarmed, when he finds that between them he is abfolutely in danger of being argued out of his exiftence; fince one undertakes to prove that he has no foul, and the other clearly demonstrates that he has no body. But when he opens this incomparable treatife of Dr. B. he is overjoyed to find that he is indeed the very same identical perfon that he took himself to be before he began to study Metaphyfics; and he has the fatisfaction to be informed, as he proceeds in the farther perufal of the work, that he may become an able metaphysician at a much easier rate than he himself hoped for, or could have imagined. In fhort, he is told that common sense alone, without any previous inftruction, is sufficient to enable a man to decide upon the most abstruse questions in that abftrufe science, and he fhuts the book again fully convinced that he is as great a philofopher as Locke, Berkeley, or Hume; and he is now completely qualified to exclaim against all Metaphyfics, as futile, useless, unintelligible, and dangerous; and fully prepared to affert, that a fingle fermon of Tillotfon* has done more real good than all the metaphyfical works of Dr. Clarke; and, to fhow

* Vide Effay 168.

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that

that he is biaffed by no blind partiality for that famous Prelate, he may take occafion to add, that the droll inventions of Hogarth have been of more fervice to the cause of virtue than all * the fermons of Tillotson.

* Vide Effay 48.

ESSAY XI.

On STIL E.

MR. Addison has most elegantly and justly ob

ferved, that "there is as much difference "between comprehending a thought clothed in "Cicero's language and that of an ordinary "writer, as between feeing an object by the light "of a taper or the light of the fun." What is it then that distinguishes the ftile of Cicero from that of an ordinary writer? or, to generalize the question, What is it that conftitutes beauty of Stile? This is a question which I have never yet feen fatisfactorily anfwered. Nevertheless, it must be acknowledged, that, amongst the crowd of authors who have written " about it and about it," fome have treated the subject with admirable ingenuity and acutenefs; and if, after all, they have found it impoffible fully to explain the true principles of taste, they have given indisputable proof at least that it was not because they were themfelves ftrangers to their influence. But if there is no fixed and infallible standard of truth, which is in itself fixed and immutable, how can it reasonably be expected that a general standard of beauty can ever be established? For beauty is that

quality

quality in objects whatever it be, the view or contemplation of which excites pleasureable emotions; it is plain therefore that beauty is a relative, not a real, quality; and it must be as various as the different tastes and fentiments of all the different individuals of mankind; and with respect to that particular species of beauty which we are now confidering, I mean beauty of language, there is perhaps as great a diverfity of fentiment as upon any species of beauty whatever; yet that taste, by which is meant our capacity for difcerning beauty, is not wholly capricious and arbitrary, may be inferred from an appeal to certain facts, which incontrovertibly demonftrate, that the productions of various writers for a long fucceffion of ages have actually excited very lively emotions of pleasure in the minds of a great majority of those who are capable of understanding them; and that a great proportion of this pleasure arifes from the beauty of the language in which they expreffed their ideas evidently appears, from this confideration alone, that the fame fentiments tranflated into other language ceafe to charm, or at least to excite the fame kind and degree of delight. Of this clafs of writers we may reckon Homer, Virgil, Demofthenes, Cicero, Livy, Horace, Terence, and innumerable other Grecian and Roman authors, who are univerfally regarded as the grand models of literary excellence. Here then we feem to approach to fomething which resembles a standard of beauty as it relates to Stile; for if there are those who

feem

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