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whether nature or art contributes most towards excellence in them.)

With respect to the manner in which art can most effectually furnish assistance for such a purpose, there may be diversity of opinions and it would be presumption to say, that mere rhetorical rules, how just soever, are sufficient to form an orator) Private application and study, supposing natural genius to be favorable, are certainly superior to any system of public instruction. But though rules and in structions cannot comprehend every thing which is requisite, they may afford considerable advantage. They cannot, it is true, inspire genius ; but they can direet and assist it. They cannot render barrenness fruitful; but they may correct redundancy. They point out the proper models for imitation; they bring into view the chief beauties that ought to be studied, and the principal faults that ought to be avoided ; and thereby tend to enlighten taste, and to lead genius from unnatural deviations into its proper channel. Though they are incapable, perhaps, of producing great excellencies, they may, at least, be subservient (to prevent the commission of .considerable mistakes.

All that regards the study of eloquence and composition, merits the higher attention, upon this account, that(it is intimately connected with the improvement of our intellectual powers.) For it must be allowed, that when we are employed, after a proper manner, in the study of composition, we are.cultivating reason itself. (True rhetoric, and sound logic, are very nearly allied. The study of arranging and expressing our thoughts with propriety, teaches us to think as well as to speak accurately; for by putting our sentiments into words, we always conceive them more distinctly. Every one who has the slightest acquaintance with composition, knows that the defects of his style, can almost always be traced back to an indistinct conception of his subject.

As rhetoric has been sometimes thought to signify nothing About what, may there be diversity of opinions; and to say what would be presumption? What are superior to any system of public instruction ? What cannot rules and instructions effect; yet what can they do? Though they are incapable of producing great excellencies, yet what may they prevent? Why does all that regards the study of eloquence and composition, merit attention? What must be allowed to be its effect? What are very nearly allied? What effect does the study of arranging and expressing our thoughts properly produce; and why? What does every one, who has the slightest acquaintance with composition, know? What has rhetoric, sometimes, been thought to signify; and how has criticism been considered


more than the scholastic study of words, and phrases, and tropes ; so criticism has been considered as merely the art of finding faults—as the frigid application of certain technical terms, by means of which, persons are taught to cavil and censure in a learned manner. But this is the criticism of pedants only. True criticism is a liberal and humane art. It is the offspring of good sense and refined taste. (It aims at acquiring a just discernment of the real merits of authors. It promotes a lively relish of their beauties, while it

preserves us from that blind and implicit veneration which would confound their beauties and faults in our esteem,

In an age when works of genius are so frequently the subjects of discourse, when every one erects himself into a judge, and when we can hardly mingle in polite society without bearing some share in such discussions ; studies of this kind, it is not to be doubted, will appear to derive part of their importance from the use to which they may be applied in furnishing materials for those fashionable topics of discourse, and thereby enabling us to support a proper rank in social life. But it would be much to be regretted, if we could not rešt the merit of such studies on somewhat of solid and intrinsical use, independent of appearance and show. The exercise of taste and of sound criticism is, in truth, one of the most improving employments of the understanding. To apply the principles of good sense to composition and discourse ; to examine what is beautiful, and why it is so; to employ ourselves in distinguishing accurately between the specious and the solid, between affected and natural ornament, must certainly improve us not a little in the most valuable part of all philosophy—the philosophy of human nature. For such disquisitions are very intimately connected with the knowledge of ourselves. They reasonably lead us to reflect on the operations of the imagination, and the movements of the heart; and increase our acquaintance with some of the most refined feelings which belong to our frame.



Of whom is this the criticism? What is true criticism; and at what does it aim? What does it promote; and from what preserve us? In an age like the present, from what will studies of this kind appear to derive

of their importance; but what would be, at the same time, much to be regretted? Of the exercise of taste, and of sound criticism, what is observed; and what must certainly improve us in the philosophy of human nature ? 'With what are such disquisitions very intimately connected; to reflect on what, do they necessarily lead us; and with what do they increase our acquaintance ?

To Belles Lettres belongs, also, all that relates to beauty, harmony, grandeur, and elegance; all that can soothe the mind, gratify the fancy, or move the affections. They also exercise the mind without fatiguing it; leading to inquiries acute but not painful ; profound, but not dry nor abstruse. The pleasures of taste occupy a middle station between the pleasures of sense and those of pure intellect. To be entirely devoid of relish for eloquence, poetry, or any of the fine arts, is justly considered an unpromising symptom in youth; and raises suspicions of their being prone to low gratifications, or destined to drudge in the more vulgar and illiberal pursuits of life. A cultivated taste increases sensibility to all the tender and humane passions, by giving them frequent exercise; while it tends to weaken the more violent and fierce emotions.

These polished arts have humanized mankind,

Softend the rude, and calm’d the boistrous mind. The elevated sentiments and high examples which poetry, eloquence, and history, are often bringing under our view, naturally tend to nourish, in our minds, public spirit, the love of glory, contempt of external fortune, and the admiration of what is truly illustrious and great. From reading the most admired productions of genius, whether in poetry or prose, almost every one rises with some good impressions left upon his mind; and though these may not always be durable, they are, at least, to be ranked among the means of disposing the heart to virtue. . One thing is certain, that without possessing the virtuous affections in a strong degree, no man can attain to eminence in the sublime parts of eloquence. He must feel what a good man feels, if he expects greatly to move, or to interest mankind. The ardent sentiments of honor, virtue, magnanimity, and public spirit only, can kindle that fire of genius, and call up into the mind those high ideas, which attract the admiration of ages ; and if this spirit be necessary to produce the most distinguished efforts of eloquence, it must be necessary also to the relishing of them with proper taste and feeling.

To Belles Lettres, also, belongs what? They also exercise the mind without what; and lead to inquiries of what kind? What station do the pleasures of taste occupy? What is justly considered an unpromising symptom in youth; and of what does it raise suspicions ? What is the effect of a cultivated taste? Repeat the poetic illustration. What do the elevated sentiments and high examples which poetry, eloquence, and history, are often bringing under our view, naturally tend to nourish in our minds ? How is this remark illustrated ? What is certain ; and why? What, only, can kindle that fire of genius, which attracts the admiration of ages; and what remark follows?


TASTE. (There are few subjects on which men talk more loosely and indistinctly than taste; few which it is more difficult to explain with precision; and none which in these lectures will appear more dry and abstract) In our remarks on the subject, we shall pursue the following order :-First, explain the nature of taste as a power or faculty of the human mind : next, consider how far it is an improvable faculty: then show the sources of its improvement, and its characters in its most perfect state : and in the last place, examine the various fluctuations to which it is liable, and inquire whether there be any standard to which the different tastes of men can be brought, in order to distinguish the false from the true,

Taste may be defined, “ The power of receiving pleasure from the beauties of nature and of art." The first question that occurs concerning it is, whether it is an internal sense, or an exertion of reason Reason is a very general term ;) but if we understand by it that power of the mind which in speculative matters discovers truth, and in practical matters judges of the fitness of means to an end, it is evident that taste cannot be resolved into any such operation.) ( It is not merely through a discovery of the understanding or a deduction of argument, that the mind receives pleasure from a beautiful prospect or a fine poem. Such objects often strike us intuitively, and make a strong impression, when we are unable to assign the reason of our being pleased. They sometimes strike, in the same manner, the philosopher and the peasant; the boy and the man. Hence the faculty by which we relish such beauties, seems more nearly allied to a feeling of sense, than to a process of the understanding; and, accordingly, from an external sense it has borrowed its name. But, though taste be ultimately founded on a certain natural

Of the subject of this lecture, what is observed ? In our remarks upon it, what order shall we pursue ?' How may taste be defined; and what is the first question that occurs concerning it? Of reason what is remarked ? How does it appear evident that taste cannot be resolved into any operation of reason; and why s What farther illustration of this remark follows ? Hence, of the faculty by which we relish such beauties, what is observed ? But, though taste be ultimately founded on a certain natural instinctive sonsibility to beauty, yet what follows ?

instinctive sensibility to beauty, yet reason assists it in many of its operations, and serves to enlarge its power,

(Taste is a faculty common, in some degree, to all mankind.(Nothing that belongs to human nature is more general than the relish of beauty of one kind or other; of what is or derly, proportioned, grand, harmonious, new, or sprightly. In children, the rudiments of taste discover themselves very early, in a thousand instances; in their fondness for regular bodies, their admiration of pictures and statues, and their strong attachment to whatever is new or marvellous. The most ignorant peasants are delighted with ballads and tales, and are struck with the beautiful appearance of nature in the earth and heavens. Even in the deserts of America, where human nature appears in its most uncultivated state, the savages have their ornaments of dress, their war and their death

songs, their harangues and their orators. The principles of taste must, therefore, be deeply founded in the human mind. (To have some discernment of beauty, is no less essential to man, than to possess the attributes of speech and reason.

But although none be wholly devoid of this faculty, yet the degrees in which it is possessed, are widely different. In some men, only the feeble glimmerings of taste appear; the beauties which they relish are of the coarsest kind; and of these they have but a weak and confused impression: while in others, taste rises to an acute discernment, and a lively enjoyment of the most refined beauties, ( In general,

be observed, that in the powers and pleasures of taste, there is a more remarkable inequality among men, than is usually found in point of common sense, reason, and judgment. This inequality is, doubtless, to be ascribed, in part, to the different frames of their natures ; to nicer organs, and finer internal powers, with which some are endowed beyond others: yet it is owing, still more, to culture and education.

Taste is certainly one of the most improvable faculties which adorns our nature. Of the truth of this remark, we

it may

From what does it appear that taste is a faculty, common, in some degree, to all men; and how is this remark fully illustrated? Of the principles of taste, therefore, what is observed, and why? Though none be entirely devoid of this faculty, yet from what does it appear that the degrees in which it is possessed are widely different? What may, in general, be observed ; and to what is this inequality to be ascribed? How may we be convinced of the truth of the remark, that taste is one of our most improvable faculties?

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