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In all these cases of moral beauty, as in that to which our senses more immediately give rise, we conceive the delight which we feel, to be centered in the moral object; and the very diffusion of the delight seems to connect us more closely with that which we admire, producing what is not a mere sympathy, but something more intimate,that union of mind with mind, in reflected and mingled feeling,—which, nowithstanding all the absurd mysticism that has been written concerning it, has, in the manper which I have now described, in part at least, a foundation in nature.
But, though, in all these great provinces of beauty, the material, the intellectual, and the moral, an object which we feel to be beautiful, be merely an object, with which, in our conception, or continued perception, if it be an object of sense, or, in our mere conception, if it be an object of another kind, we have combined, by a sort of mental diffusion, the delight which it has excited in us; why, it will be said, do certain objects produce this effect?
The examination of this point, however, I must defer till my Dext Lecture,
I. IMMEDIATE EMOTIONS NOT INVOLVING NECESSARILY ANY MO
RAL FEELING.—III. BEAUTY, AND ITS REVERSE, CONTINUED.
-DIFFERENT SORTS OF BEAUTY.
Gentlemen, my last Lecture was employed in considering and illustrating, by various analogous phenomena of the mind, the process by which I conceive our feeling of delight, that arises from the object which we term beautiful, to be reflected, as it were, from our mind to the objects which excite it,-very much in the same way as we spread over external things, in the common phenomena of vision, the colour, which is a feeling or state, not of matter, but of mind. A beautiful object, when considered by us philosophically, like the unknown causes of our sensations of colour in bodies, considered separately from our visual sensations, is merely the cause of a certain delightful emotion which we feel;—a beautiful object, as felt by us, when we do not attempt to make any philosophic distinction, is, like those coloured objects which we see around us, an object in which we have diffused the delightful feeling of our own mind. Though no eye were to behold what is beautiful, we cannot but imagine that a certain delight would forever be flowing around it, as we cannot. but imagine, in like manner, that the loveliest flower of the wilderness, which buds and withers unmarked, is blooming with the same delightful hues, which our vision would give to it, and surrounded with that sweetness of fragrance, which, in itself, is but a number of exhaled particles, that are sweetness only in the sentient mind.
An object, then, as felt by us to be beautiful, seems to contain, in its own nature, the very delight which it occasions. But a cer
tain delight must in this case be excited, before it can be diffused by reflection on that object which is its cause; and it is only by certain objects that the delightful emotion is excited. Why, then, it will be said, is the effect so limited ? and what circumstances distinguish the objects that produce the emotion, from those which produce no emotion whatever, or, perhaps, even an emotion that may be said to be absolutely opposite ?
If the same effect were uniformly produced by the same objects, it might seem as absurd to inquire, how certain objects are beautiful and others not so, as to inquire, how it happens that sugar is not bitter, nor wormwood sweet,--the blossom of the rose not green, nor the common herbage of our meadows red. The question, however, assumes a very
when we consider the diversity of the emotions excited by the same object, and when we consider the very powerful influence of accidental association on our emotions of this kind. In such circumstances we may be fairly allowed to doubt at least, whether objects, primarily and absolutely, have a power of producing this emotion, or whether it may not wholly depend on those contingent circumstances, which we find, and must allow, to be capable of modifying it to so very great an extent.
That certain circumstances do truly modify our emotions of beauty, there can be no doubt ;-and even that they produce the feeling, when there is every reason to believe, that but for such circumstances, no emotion of the kind would have been excited. The influence of what is called fashion, in giving a temporary beauty to various forms, is a most striking proof of this flexibility of our emotion; and it is a fact too obvious to require illustration by example.
" If an European, says Sir J. Reynolds in one of his discourses delivered at the Royal Academy, “if an European, when he has cut off his beard, and put false hair on his head, or bound up his own natural hair in regular hard knots, as unlike nature as he can possibly make it; and after having rendered them immoveable by the help of the fat of hogs, has covered the whole with flour, laid on by a machine with the utmost regularity,-if, when thus attired, he issues forth, and meets a Cherokee Indian, who has bestowed as much time at his toilet, and laid on with equal care and attention bis yellow and red ochre, on particular parts of his forehead or cheeks, VOL. II.
as he judges most becoming; whoever of these two despises the other for this attention to the fashion of his country, which ever first feels himself provoked to laugh, is the barbarian.*
It is not necessary, however, to have recourse to savage life, to feel how completely the ornamental and the ridiculous in all the adventitious embellishments of fashion, differ only as the eyes which behold them are different. The most civilized European may soon become, in this respect, a Cherokee, and in his nice absurdities of decoration, be himself the very thing at which he would have laughed before.
Weary as we soon become of whatever we have admired, our weariness is not more rapid than our admiration of something new, which follows it, or rather precedes it. It seems, as if, in order to produce this delightful emotion, nothing more were necessary for us than to say, Let this be beautiful. The power of enchantment is almost verified in the singular transformations which are thus produced ; and in many of these, fashion is employed in the very way in which magic has been commonly fabled to be employed, --in making monsters, who are as little conscious of their degradation, while the voluntary metamorphose lasts, as the hideous but unknowing victims of the enchanter's art. A few months, or perhaps even a few weeks, may, indeed, shew them what monsters they have been; but what is monstrous in the past, is seen only by the unconscious monsters of the present hour, who are again, in a few months, to laugh at their own deformity. What we are, in fashion, is ever beautiful; but nothing is in fashion so ridiculous, as the beauty which has been; as in journeying with sunshine be. fore us, what is immediately under our eye is splendour; but if we
, look back, we see a long shadow behind us, though all, which is shadow now, was once brilliant, as the very track of brightness along which we move.
The influence of fashion, on the mere trappings of dress, or furniture, or equipage, is the more valuable as an illustration, from the rapidity of its changes, and the universality of the emotion which it excites, that render it absolutely impossible for the most sceptical to doubt its power. The influence of particular associations on individual minds, is, indeed, as powerful as the more general influence which, in each individual on whom it operates,
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is only one of the forms of that very particular influence. But, in these cases, it might have been doubted whether the peculiarity, ascribed to association, might not rather have arisen from constitutional diversity. In the changes of universal fashion, however, there can be no doubt as to the nature of the sway that has been exercised; since every one will readily allow, in another, that change, of which he is conscious in himself.
Yet, even though what is commonly termed fashion, the modifier or creator of general feeling, had not been, it is scarcely possible that we should not have discovered the influence of circumstances, on our individual emotions. Even in the mere scenery of nature, which, in its most majestic features,-its mountains,-its rivers,-its cataracts, seems by its permanence, to mock the power of man ; how differently do the same objects affect us, in consequence of the mere antecedents of former feelings, and former events! The hill and the waterfall may be pleasing to every eye; but how doubly beautiful do they seem to the very heart of the expatriated Swiss, who almost looks as he gazes on them, for the cottage of his home, half gleaming through the spray, as if they were the very hill and the waterfall, which had been the haunt of his youth. To the exile, in every situation, what landscape is so beautiful as that which recals to him, perhaps, the bleakest and dreariest spot of the country, which he has not seen for
dis. mal years? The softest borders of the lake, the gentle eminences, that seem to rise only to slope into the delightful valleys between,—the fields,--the groves,—the vineyards, in all their luxuriance, these have no beauty to his eye. But let his glance fall on some rock, that extends itself, without one tuft of vegetation ; or on some heath or morass, of still more gloomy barrenness; and what was indifference till then, is indifference no more. There is an instant emotion at his heart, which, though others might scarcely conceive it to be that of beauty, is beauty to him; and it is to this part of the scene, that his waking eye most frequently turns; as it is it alone which he mingles in his dreams, with the well-remembered scenery of other years.
That our emotion of beauty, which arises from works of art, is susceptible of modification, by accidental circumstances, is equal. ly evident. There are tastes in composition, of which we are able to fix the period, almost with the same accuracy as we fix