Elements of Criticism (Classic Reprint)

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Fb&c Limited, Feb 2, 2018 - 480 pages
Excerpt from Elements of Criticism

But we are not bound down to this succession by any law of necessity the God of nature offers it to us, in order to advance our happiness; and it is suflicient, that he hath enabled us to carry iton in a natural course; Nor has he made our task either disa greeable or difficult on the contrary, the transition is sweet and easy, from corporeal pleasures to the more refined pleasures of sense; and no ess so, from these to the exalted pleasures of mo rality and religion. We stand therefore e d in honour, as well as interest, to second the purposes of nature, y cultivating the pleasures of the eye and ear, those especially that require extraor dinary culture, ' such as arise from poetry, pain sculpture, mu sic, gardening; and architecture. This especial y is the duty of the opulent, who have leisure to improve their minds and t eir feelings. The fine arts are contrived to give pleasure to the eye and the ear, disregarding the inferior senses. A taste for these arts is a plant that grows naturally in many soils; but, without culture, scarce to perfection in any soil: it is susceptible of much refinement; and is, by proper care, greatly improved. In this re spect, a taste in the fine arts goes hand in hand with the moral sense, 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 to vitiate both, or to preserve them pure and un tainted: neither of them are arbitrary nor local: being rooted in human nature, and governed by principles common to all me The design of the present undertaking, which aspires not to mo rality, is, to examine the sensitive branch of human nature, to trace the objects that are naturally reeable, as well as those that are naturally disagreeable and byatiese means to discover, if we can, what are the genuine principles of the fine arts. The man who aspires to be a critic in these' arts must pierce still deeper: he must acquire a clear perception of what objects are lofty, what low what proper or improper, what manly, and what mean or trivial. Hence a foundation for reasoning upon the taste of any individual, and for passing sentence upon it: where it is conforma ble to principles, we can pronounce with certainty that it is cor rect; 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.

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