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HE five fenfes agree in the following particular, that nothing external is perceived till firft it make an impreffion upon the organ of fenfe. But they differ as to our consciousness of that impreffion: in touching, tafting, and smelling, we are confcious of the impreffion; that, for example, which is made upon the hand by a stone, upon the palate by an apricot, and upon the noftrils by a rofe: it is otherwise in seeing and hearing; for when I behold a tree, I am not fenfible of the impreffion made upon my eye; nor of the impreffion made upon my car, when I liften to a fong *. This difference in the manner of perceiving external objects, diftinguifhes remarkably hearing and feeing from the other fenfes; and I am ready to fhow, that it diftinguishes still more remarkably the feelings of the former from thofe of the latter: a feeling pleasant or painful cannot exift but in the mind; and yet because in tafting, touching, and fmelling, we are confcious of the impreffion made upon the organ, we are difpofed to place alfo upon it the pleasant or painful feeling caufed by that impreffion: but with refpect to feeing and hearing, being infenfible of the organic impreffion, we are not mifled to affign a wrong
* See the Appendix, § 13.
place to the pleasant or painful feelings caused by that impreffion; and therefore we naturally place them in the mind, where they really exift: upon that account, they are conceived to be more refined and fpiritual, than what are derived from tafting, touching, and fmelling; for the latter feelings feeming to exift externally at the organ of fenfe, are conceived to be merely corporeal.
The pleasures of the eye and the ear being thus elevated above thofe of the other external fenfes, acquire fo much dignity as to make them a laudable entertainment. They are not, however, fet upon a level with those that are purely intellectual; being not less inferior in dignity to intellectual pleasures, than fuperior to the organic or corporeal: they indeed refemble the latter, being like them produced by external objects; but they also resemble the former, being like them produced without any fenfible organic impreffion. Their mixt nature and middle place between organic and intellectual pleasures, qualify them to affociate with both beauty heightens all the organic feelings, as well as thofe that are intellectual harmony, though it afpires to inflame devotion, difdains not to improve the relish of a banquet.
The pleafures of the eye and ear have other valuable properties befide thofe of dignity and elevation being sweet and moderately exhilarating, they are in their tone equally diftant from the turbulence of paffion, and the languor of inac
tion; and by that tone are perfectly well qualified, not only to revive the spirits when funk by fenfual gratification, but also to relax them when overstrained in any violent purfuit. Here is a remedy provided for many diftreffes; and to be convinced of its falutary effects, it will be fufficient to run over the following particulars. Organic pleasures have naturally a fhort duration ; when prolonged, they lofe their relish; when indulged to excefs, they beget fatiety and difguft : and to relieve us from fuch uneafinefs, nothing can be more happily contrived than the exhilarating pleasures of the eye and ear, which take place imperceptibly, without much varying the tone of mind. On the other hand, any intense exercise of the intellectual powers, becomes painful by overstraining the mind: ceffation from fuch exercise gives not instant relief; it is neceffary that the void be filled with fome amusement, gently relaxing the fpirits *: organic pleasure, which hath no relish but while we are in vigour, is ill qualified for that office; but the finer pleafures of fenfe, which occupy without exhausting the mind, are excellently well qualified to reftore its ufual tone after severe application to study or business, as well as after fatiety from fenfual gratification.
*Du Bos judicioufly obferves, that filence doth not tend to calm an agitated mind; but that foft and flow mufic hath a fine effect.
Our first perceptions are of external objects, and our first attachments are to them. Organic pleasures take the lead: but the mind, gradually ripening, relifheth more and more the pleasures of the eye and ear; which approach the purely mental, without exhaufting the spirits; and exceed the purely fenfual, without danger of fatiety. The pleasures of the eye and ear have accordingly a natural aptitude to draw us from the immoderate gratification of fenfual appetite; and the mind, once accustomed to enjoy a variety of external objects without being confcious of the organic impreffion, is prepared for enjoying internal objects where there cannot be an organic impreffion. Thus the author of nature, by qualifying the human mind for a fucceffion of enjoyments from the loweft to the highest, leads it by gentle steps from the moft groveling corporeal pleasures, for which only it is fitted in the beginning of life, to thofe refined and fublime pleasures which are fuited to its maturity.
This fucceffion, however, is not governed by unavoidable neceffity: the God of nature offers it to us, in order to advance our happiness; and it is fufficient, that he hath enabled us to carry it on in its natural courfe. Nor has he made our task disagreeable or difficult: on the contrary, the transition is fweet and easy, from corporeal pleasures to the more refined pleasures of sense; and not lefs fo, from thefe to the exalted pleafures of morality and religion. We stand there
fore engaged in honour, as well as intereft, to fecond the purposes of nature, by cultivating the pleasures of the eye and ear, those especially that require extraordinary culture *, fuch as are infpired by poetry, painting, fculpture, mufic, gardening, and architecture. This chiefly is the duty of the opulent, who have leifure to improve their minds and their feelings. The fine arts are contrived to give pleasure to the eye and the ear, difregarding the inferior fenfes. A tafte for these arts is a plant that grows naturally in many foils; but, without culture, scarce to perfection in any foil: it is fufceptible of much refinement; and is, by proper care, greatly improved. In this respect, a tafte in the fine arts goes hand in hand with the moral fenfe, to which indeed it is nearly allied: both of them discover what is right and what is wrong: fashion, temper, and education, have an influence upon both to vitiate them, or to preserve them pure and untainted: neither of them are arbitrary or local; being rooted in human nature, and governed by principles common to all men. The fine arts
A tafte for natural objects is born with us in perfection: to relish a fine countenance, a rich landscape, or a vivid colour, culture is unneceffary. The obfervation holds equally in natural founds, fuch as the finging of birds, or the murmuring of a brook. Nature here, the artificer of the object as well as of the percipient, hath fuited them to each other with great accuracy. But of a poem, a cantata, a picture, and other artificial productions, a true relish is not commonly attained without ftudy and practice.