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only, belong to the prefent undertaking; and their principles are unfolded, by studying the fensitive part of human nature, and by learning what objects are naturally agreeable, and what are naturally disagreeable. The man who aspires to be a critic in these arts, must pierce ftill deeper: he must clearly perceive what objects are lofty, what low, what are proper or improper, what are manly, and what are mean or trivial. Hence a foundation for judging of taste, and for reasoning upon it: where it is conformable to principles, we can pronounce with certainty, that it is correct; otherwise, that it is incorrect, and perhaps whimsical. Thus the fine arts, like morals, become a rational science; and, like morals, may be cultivated to a high degree of refinement.
Manifold are the advantages of criticism, when thus studied as a rational science. In the first place, a thorough acquaintance with the principles of the fine arts, redoubles the entertainment thefe arts afford. To the man who resigns himself entirely to sentiment or feeling, without interposing any sort of judgement, poetry, music, painting, are mere pastime : in the prime of life, indeed, they are delightful, being supported by the force of novelty, and the heat of imagination ; but they lose their relish gradually with their novelty; and are generally neglected in the maturity of life, which disposes to more ferious and more important occupations. To those who deal in criticism as a regular science, governed by just principles, and giving scope to judgement as well as to fancy, the fine arts are a favourite entertainment; and in old age maintain that relish which they produce in the morning of life *.
In the next place, a philosophic inquiry into the principles of the fine arts, inures the reflecting mind to the most enticing fort of logic: the practice of reasoning upon subjects so agreeable tends to a habit; and a habit, strengthening the reasoning faculties, prepares the mind for entering into subjects more difficult and abstract.
To have, in this respect, a just conception of the importance of criticism, we need but reflect upon the common method of education; which, after some years spent in acquiring languages, hurries us, without the least preparatory discipline, into the most profound philofophy : a more effectual method to alienate the tender mind from abstract science, is beyond the reach of invention; and accordingly, with respect to such speculations, the bulk of our youth contract a sort of hobgoblin terror, which is feldom, if ever, subdued. Those who apply to the arts, are trained in a very different manner: they are led, step by step, from the easier parts of the operation, to what are more difficult
3 and are not permitted to make a new motion, till
*« Though logic may subsist without rhetoric or poetry, yet so “ necessary to these last is a sound and correct logic, that without ( it they are no better than warbling trifles." Hermes, p.6.
they be perfected in those which regularly precede it. The science of criticism appears then to be a middle link, connecting the different parts of education into a regular chain. This science furnisheth an inviting opportunity to exercise the judgement : we delight to reason upon subjects that are equally pleasant and familiar : we proceed gradually from the simpler to the more involved cafes : and in a due course of difcipline, custom, which improves all our faculties, bestows acuteness upon those of reason, fufficient to unravel all the intricacies of philosophy.
Nor ought it to be overlooked, that the reasonings employed upon the fine arts are of the fame kind with those which regulate our conduct. Mathematical and metaphysical reasonings have no tendency to improve social intercourse; nor are they applicable to the common affairs of life : but a just taste in the fine arts, derived from rational principles, furnishes elegant subjects for conversation, and prepares us finely for acting in the social state with dignity and propriety.
The science of rational criticism tends to improve the heart not less than the understanding, It tends, in the first place, to moderate the selfish affections: by sweetening and harmonizing the temper, it is a strong antidote to the turbulence of passion and violence of pursuit: it procures to a man so much mental enjoyment, that in order to be occupied, he is not tempted, in youth, to precipitate into hunting, gaming, drinking; nor,
in middle age, to deliver himself over to ambition; nor, in old age, to avarice. Pride and envy, two disgustful passions, find in the constitution no enemy more formidable than a delicate and discerning taste: the man upon whom nature and culture have bestowed this bleffing, feels great delight in the virtuous difpositions and actions of others : he loves to cherith them, and to publish them to the world: faults and failings, it is true, are to him not less obvious; but thefe he avoids, or removes out of fight, because they give him pain. On the other hand, a man void of taste, upon whom the most striking beauties make but a faint impression, has no joy but in gratifying his pride or envy by the discovery of errors and blemishes. In a word, there may be other passions, which, for a season, disturb the peace of society more than those mentioned; but no other passion is so unwearied an antagonist to the sweets of social intercourse : these passions, tending afsiduously to their gratification, put a man perpetually in opposition to others; and dispose hini more to relish bad than good qualities, even in a companion. How different that disposition of mind, where every virtue in a companion or neighbour, is, by refinement of taste, set in its strongest light; and defects or blemishes, natural to all, are suppressed, or kept out of view!
In the next place, delicacy of taste tends not less to invigorate the social affections, than to
moderate those that are selfish. To be convinced of this tendency, we need only reflect, that delicacy of taste necessarily heightens our sensibility of pain and pleasure, and of course our sympathy, which is the capital branch of every social pafsion. Sympathy in particular invites a communication of joys and forrows, hopes and fears : such exercise, soothing and satisfactory in itselt, is neceffarily productive of mutual good-will and affection.
One other advantage of rational criticism is reserved to the last place, being of all the most important; which is, that it is a great support to morality. I insist on it with entire satisfaction, that no occupation attaches a man more to his duty than that of cultivating a taste in the fine arts : a just relish of what is beautiful, proper, elegant, and ornamental, in writing or painting, in architecture or gardening, is a fine preparation for the fame just relish of these qualities in character and behaviour. To the man who has acquired a taste fo acute and accomplished, every action wrong or improper, must be lighly disgustful : if, in any instance, the overbearing power of passion sway him from his duty, he returns to it upon the first reflection, with redoubled resolution never to be sway'd a second time: he has now an additional motive to virtue, a conviction derived from experience, that happiness depends on regularity and order, and that a disregard to justice