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ity among creatures of the same kind, and a deformity no less remarkable among creatures of different kinds. This common nature is conceived to be a model or standard for each individual that belongs to the kind. Hence it is a wonder to find an individual deviating from the common nature of the species, whether in its internal or external construction : a child born with aversion to its mother's milk, is a wonder, no less than if born without a mouth, or with more than one.* This conviction of a common nature in every species, paves the way finely for distributing things into genera and species ; to which we are extremely prone, not only with regard to animals and vegetables, where nature has led the way ; but also with regard to many other things, where there is no ground for such distribution, but fancy merely.
With respect to the common nature of man in particular, we have a conviction that it is invariable not less than universal ; that it will be the same hereafter as at present, and as it was in time past ; the fame among all nations and in all corners of the earth. Nor are we deceived ; because, giving allowance for the difference of culture and gradual refinement of manners, the fact corresponds to our conviction.
We are so constituted, as to conceive this common nature, to be not only invariable, but also perfect or right ; and consequently that individuals ought to be made conformable to it. Every remarkable deviation from the standard, makes accordingly an impression upon us of imperfection, irregularity, or disorder : it is disagreeable, and raises in us a painful emotion : monstrous births, exciting the curiosity of a philosopher, fail not at the same time to excite a fort of horror.
* See Esays on Morality and Natural Religion; part 1. eflay 2. ch. 1o
This conviction of a common nature or standard and of its perfection, accounts clearly for that remarkable conception we have, of a right and a wrong fense or taste in morals. It accounts not less clearly for the conception we have of a right and a wrong fense or taste in the fine arts. A man who, avoiding objects generally agreeable, delights in objects generally disagreeable, is condemned as a monster : we disapprove his talte as bad or wrong, because we have a clear conception that he deviates from the common standard. If man were so framed as not to have any notion of a common standard, the proverb mentioned in the beginning would hold universally, not only in the fine arts, but in morals : upon that supposition, the taste of every man, with respect to both, would to himself be an ultimate standard. But as the conviction of a common standard is universal and a branch of our nature, we intuitively conceive a taste to be right or good if conformable to the common standard, and wrong or bad if disconformable.
No particular in human nature is more universal, than the uneasiness a man feels when in matters of importance his opinions are rejected by others : why fhould difference in opinion create uneasiness, more than difference in ftature, in countenance, or in dress? The conviction of a common standard explains the mystery : every man, generally speaking, taking it for granted that his opinions agree with the common sense of mankind, is therefore disgusted with those who think differently, not as differing from him, but as differing from the common standard : hence in all disputes, we find the parties, each of them equally appealing constantly to the common sense of mankind as the ultimate rule or standard. With respect to points arbitrary or indifferent, which are not supposed to be regulated by any standard, individuals are per VOL. II, Aa
mitted to think for themselves with impunity : the fame liberty is not indulged with respect to points that are reckoned of moment ; for what reason, other than that the standard by which these are regulated, ought, as we judge, to produce an uniformity of opinion in all men? In a word, to this conviction of a common standard must be wholly attributed, the pleasure we take in those who espouse the same principles and opinions with ourselves, as well as the averfion we have at those who differ from us. In matters left indifferent by the standard, we find nothing of the fame pleasure or pain : a bookish man, unless swayed by convenience, relisheth not the contemplative man more than the active; his friends and companions are chosen indifferently out of either class : a painter conforts with a poet or musician, as readily as with those of his own art ; and one is not the more agreeable to me for loving beef, as I do, nor the less agreeable for preferring mutton.
I have ventured to say, that my difgust is raised, not by differing from me, but by differing from what I judge to be the common standard. This point, being of importance, ought to be firmly established. Men, it is true, are prone to flatter themselves, by taking it for granted that their opinions and their taste are in all respects conformable to the common standard ; but there may be exceptions, and experience shows there are some : there are instances without number, of persons who are addicted to the grosser amusements of gaming, eating, drinking, without having any relish for more elegant pleasures, such, for example, as are afforded by the fine arts; yet these very persons talking the same language with the rest of mankind, pronounce in favour of the more elegant pleasures, and they invariably approve those who have a more refined taste, being ashamed of their
own as low and sensual. It is in vain to think of giving a reason for this singular impartiality, other than the authority of the common standard with refpect to the dignity of human nature :* and from the instances now given, we discover that the authority of that standard, even upon the most grovelling fouls, is so vigorous, as to prevail over self-partiality, and to make them despise their own taste compared with the more elevated taste of others.
Uniformity of taste and sentiment resulting from our conviction of a common standard, leads to two important final causes : the one respecting our duty, the other our pastime. Barely to mention the first fhall be sufficient, because it does not properly belong to the present undertaking. Unhappy it would be for us did not uniformity prevail in morals : that our actions should uniformly be directed to what is good and against what is ill, is the greatest blessing in society ; and in order to uniformity of action, uniformity of opinion and sentiment is indispensable.
With respect to pastime in general, and the fine arts in particular, the final cause of uniformity is illustrious. Uniformity of taste gives opportunity for sumptuous and elegant buildings, for fine gardens, and extensive embelliihments, which please univerTally ; and the reason is, that without uniformity of taste, there could not be any suitable reward, either of profit or honour, to encourage men of genius to labour in such works, and to advance them toward perfection. The same uniformity of taste is equally necessary to perfect the art of music, sculpture, and painting, and to support the expense they require after they are brought to perfection. Nature is in every particular consistent with herself : we are framed by Nature to have a ligh relish for the fine
arts, * See chap. 11.
arts, which are a great source of happiness, and friendly in a high degree to virtue : we are, at the same time, framed with uniformity of taste, to surnish proper objects for that high relish ; and if uniformity did not prevail, the fine arts could never have made any figure.
And this suggests another final cause no less illuf• trious. The separation of men into different claffes, by birth, office, or occupation, however necessary, tends to relax the connection that ought to be among members of the fame state ; which bad effect is in some measure prevented by the access all ranks of people have to public spectacles, and to amusements that are best enjoyed in company. Such meetings, where every one partakes of the same pleasures in common, are no ilight sápport to the social affections.
Thus, nipon a conviction common to the species is erected a standard of taste, which without hesitation is applied to the taste of every individual. That standard, ascertaining what actions are right, what wrong, what proper, what improper, hath enabled moralifts to establish rules for our conduct, from which no perfon is permitted to fwerve. We have the same standard for ascertaining in all the line arts, what is beautiful or ugly, high or low, proper or improper, proportioned or disproportioned: and here, as in morals, we justly condemn every taste that deviates from what is thus ascertained by the common standard.
That there exists a rule or standard in nature for trying the taste of individuals, in the fine arts as well as in morals, is a discovery ; but is not sufficient to complete the task undertaken. A branch still more important remains upon hand ; which is, to ascertain what is truly the ftandard of nature, that we may not lie open to have a false standard imposed on Hs. But what means thall be employed for bringing to light this patural standard ? This is not obvious :