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or familiar objects ; for if these be not agreeable as well as their meaning, the emblem upon the whole will not be relished. A room in a dwelling-house containing a monument to a deceased friend, is dedicated to Melancholy : it has a clock that strikes every minute, to signify how swiftly time passes—upon the monument, weeping figures and other hackney'd ornaments commonly found upon tomb-stones, with a stuffed raven in a corner---verses on death, and other serious subjects, inscribed all around. The objects are too familiar, and the artifice too apparent, to produce the intended effect.*
The statue of Moses striking a rock from which water actually issues, is also in a false taste; for it is mixing reality with representation. Moses himself may bring water out of the rock, but this miracle is too much for his ftatue. The same objection lies against a cascade where the statue of a water-god pours out of his urn real water.
I am more doubtful whether the same objection lies against the employing statues of animals as fupports, that of a negro, for example, supporting a dial, statues of fish, supporting a bason of water, Termes fupporting a chimney-piece ; for when a stone is used as a support, where is the incongruity, it will be said, to cut it into the form of an animal ? But leav, ing this doubtful, another objection occurs, That such designs must in fome measure be difagreeable, by the appearance of giving pain to a sensitive being:
It is observed above of gardening, that it contributes to reâitude of manners, by inlpiring gaiety and benevolence. I add another observation, That both gardening and architecture contribute to the same end, by inspiring a taste for neatness and elegance. In Scotland, the regularity and polish even of a turnpike-road has some influence of this kind upon the low people in the neighbourhood. They become fond of regularity and neatness ; which is displayed, first upon their yards and little inclosures, and next within doors. A taste for regularity and neatness thus acquired, is extended by degrees to dress, and even to behaviour and manners. The author of a history of Switzerland, describing the fierce manners of the Plebeians of Bern three or four centuries ago, continually inured to success in war, which made them insolently aim at a change of government in order to establish a pure democracy, observes, that no circum. stance tended more to sweeten their manners, and to make them fond of peace, than the public buildings carried on by the fenate for ornamenting their capital ; particularly a fine town-house, and a magnificent church, which to this day, says our author, stands its ground as one of the finest in Europe.
gardening * In tic city of Mexico, there was a palace termed the houle of afflitiwn, where Montezuma ietired upon losing any of his friends, or up. on any public calamity. This house was better adjused to its deflinazion : it inspired a sort of horror : all was black and dılmal : small windows shut up with graces, lcarce allowing raflage to the light.
“THAT there is no disputing about taste, " meaning taste in its figurative as well as proper sense, is a saying so generally received as to have become a proverb. One thing even at first view is evident, that if the proverb hold true with respect to taste in its proper meaning, it must hold equally true with respect to our other external senses : if the pleasures of the palate disdain a comparative trial, and reject all criti. cism, the pleasures of touch, of smell, of sound, and even of fight, must be equally privileged. At that rate, a man is not within the reach of censure, even where he prefers the Saracen's head upon a fign-post before the best tablature of Raphael, or a rude Gothic tower before the finest Grecian building ; or where he prefers the smell of a rotten carcass before that of the most odoriferous flower, or discords before the most exquisite harmony.
But we cannot stop here. If the pleasures of external sense be exempted from criticism, why not every one of our pleasures, from whatever source derived ? if taste in its proper sense cannot be disputed, there is little room for disputing it in its figurative sense. The proverb accordingly comprehends both; and in that large sense may be resolved into the following general proposition, That with respect to the perceptions of sense, by which some objects appear agrecable, some disagreeable, there is not such a thing as a good or a bad, a right or a wrong ; that taste is to himself an ultimate standard without ap
peal ; and consequently that there is no ground of censure against any one, if such a one there be, who prefers Blackmore before Homer, selfishness before benevolence, or cowardice before magnanimity.
The proverb in the foregoing examples is indeed carried very far : it seems difficult, however, to fap its foundation, or with success to attack it from any quarter : for is not every man equally a judge of what ought to be agreeable or disagreeable to himself ? doth it not seem whimsical, and perhaps absurd, to affert, that a man ought not to be pleased when he is, or that he ought to be pleased when he is not ?
This reasoning may perplex, but will never afford conviction : every one of taste will reject it as false, however' unqualified to detect the fallacy. At the same time, though no man of taste will assent to the proverb as holding true in every case, no man will affirm that it holds true in no cafe: objects there are, undoubtedly, that we may like or dislike indifferently, without any imputation upon our taste. Were a philosoper to make a scale for human pleasures, he would not think of making divisions without end; but would rank together many pleasures arising perhaps from different objects, either as equally conducing to happiness, or differing fo imperceptibly as to make a separation unnecessary. Nature hath taken this course, at least it appears fo to the generality of mankind. There may be subdivisions without end ; but we are only fenfible of the grosser divisions, comprehending each of themi various pleasures equally affecting ; to these the proverb is applicable in the firictolt fenfe ; for with respeĉ to pleasures of the fame rank, what ground can there be for preferring one before another ? if a preference in fact be given by any individual, it cannot proceed from taste, but froin culton, imitation, or fomne peculiarity of mind.
Nature, in her scale of pleasures, has been sparing of divisions : fhe hath wisely and benevolently filled every division with many pleasures ; in order that individuals may be contented with their own lot, without envying that of others. Many hands must be employed to procure us the conveniences of life ; and it is necessary that the different branches of business, whether more or less agreeable, be filled with hands : a taste too refined would obstruct that plan ; for it would crowd fome employments, leaving others, no less useful, totally neglected. In our prelent condition, lucky it is that the plurality are not delicate in their choice, but fall in readily with the occupations, pleasures, food and company, that fortune throws in their way ; and if at first there be any displeasing circumstance, custom foon makes it easy.
The proverb will hold true as to the particulars now explained ; but when applied in general to every subject of taste, the difficulties to be encountered are insuperable. We need only to mention the difficulty that arises from human nature itself ; do we not talk of a good and a bad taste? of a right and a wrong taste ? and upon that supposition, do we not, with great confidence, censure writers, painters, architects, and every one who deals in the fine arts ? Are such criticisms abfurd, and void of common sense ? have the foregoing expreslions, familiar in all languages and among all people, no fort of meaning ? This can hardly be ; for what is universal, muit have a foundation in nature. If we can reach that foundation, the standard of taste will no longer be a secret.
We have a fenfe or conviction of a common nature, not only in our own species, but in every pecies of animals : and our conviction is verified by experience ; for there appears a remarkable uniform