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the dates of any of those great events, which hill our tables of chronology. What is green or scarlet to the eyes of the infant, is green or scarlet to the same eyes in boyhood, in youth, in mature manhood, in old age ; but the work of art, which gives delight to the boy, may excite no emotion, but that of contempt or disgust, in the man.
It must be a miserable ballad indeed, which is not read or heard with interest, in our first years of curiosity; and every dauber of a village sign-post, who knows enough of his art, to give four legs, and not two merely, to his red lion, or blue bear, is sure of the admiration of the little critic, who stops his hoop or his top to gaze on the wonders of his skill.
Even in the judgments of our maturer years, when our discernment of beauty has been quickened by frequent exercise; and the study of the works of excellence of every age, has given us a corresponding quickness, in discerning the opposite imperfections, which otherwise we might not have perceived-how many circumstances are there, of which we are, perhaps, wholly unconscious, that modify our general susceptibility of the emotions of this class! Our youth, our age, our prevailing or temporary passions, the peculiar admiration which we may feel for some favourite author, who has become a favourite, perhaps, from circumstances that had little relation to his general merit, may all concur, with other circumstances as contingent, in giving diversity to sentiments, which otherwise might have been the same. It is finely observed by La Bruyere, in his Discours de Receptien, in 1693, When Corneille was no more, and Racine still alive :-“ Some,” says he, " cannot endure, that Corneille should be preferred, or even thought equal to him. They appeal to the age that is about to succeed. They wait, till they shall no longer have to count the voices of some old men, who, touched indifferently with whatever recals to them the first years of their life, love certainly, ir his (Edipus, only the remembrance of their youth.” The same idea is happily applied, by another Academician, to account for the constant presence of love in French tragedy, by the universal sympathy, which it may be expected to excite. “This passion," says he," which is almost the only one that can interest women, has nearly an equal influence on the other sex. How there, who have never felt any very violent emotions of ambition or vengeance! Scarcely is there one, who has been exempt from
love. The young are perhaps under its influence at present. With what pleasure do they recognize themselves in all which they see and hear! The old have loved. How delightful to them, to be recalled to their fairest and happiest years, by the picture of what was then the liveliest occupation of their thought! The mere remembrance is, to them, a second youth.”
If the emotion of beauty, which we receive from external things, and works of intellectual art, be thus under the controul of our passions and remembrances, the pleasure of moral beauty is al80, in some measure, under the same controul. The great principles of moral distinction are, indeed, too deeply fixed in our breast, by our Divine Author, to allow approbation and pleasure to be attached to the contemplation of pure malignity, or withheld from pure benevolence. When evil is admired, therefore, it is in consequence of some disproportionate admiration attached to some real or supposed accompanying good; but still it is in the power of circumstances, to produce this disproportionate admiration, and consequently to modify in a great degree, the resulting emotion of moral beauty. In one age, or in one country, the self-denying virtues are held in highest estimation,-in another age, or another country, the gentler social affections. There are periods of soci. ety, in which valour,—that gave virtue its name in the early ethics of one mighty people, -constitutes almost the whole of that national virtue, which commands general reverence, at the expense of the calmer and far nobler virtues of peace. There are other systems of polity, in which these civil virtues rise to their just pre-eminence; and in which valour is admired, less for its absolute unthinking intrepidity, 'than for its relation to the sacred rights, of which it is the guardian, or the avenger ; nor does the estimation perish completely with the circumstances that gave rise to it. At Rome, even when Roman liberty had bowed the neck to that gracious despot, who prepared, by the habit of submission to usurped power, the servility that was afterwards,-while executioner succeeded executioner on the throne of the world,—to smile, and to shudder, and obey, because others had smiled, and shuddered, and kissed the dust before :-in the very triumph of usurpation, when a single hour at Pharsalia had decided the destiny of ages, and Utica had heard the last voice of freedom, like the fading echo of some divine step retiring from the earth,-still slavery itself could not overcome the silent reverence of the heart, for him who had scorned to be a slave,
• Even when proud Cæsar, 'midst triumphal cars,
Such were the emotions with which the actions of Cato were regarded at Rome, and continued to be regarded during the whole reign of the stoical philosophy, producing those extravagant comparisons of a mortal and the gods, which were not more impious than absurd, and which were little accordant with the general spirit of a system of philosophy, of which piety to the gods was one of the most honourable characteristics. The character of perfect moral beauty, however, which the life of Cato seemed to exhibit to a Roman,—who, if not free, was at least a descendant of the free,-is very different from that which it would exhibit to the slaves, the descendant of slaves, that minister, as their ancestors have ministered, to the insignificant grandeur of some eastern court. I need not say, how very different feelings, also, it excites in the mind of those whom Christianity has taught a system of morals, that surpasses the morality of stoicism as much as the pur. est doctrines of the Porch surpassed, in moral excellence, the idle and voluptuous profligacy of other systems.
With these striking facts before us, it seems impossible, then, to contend for any beauty that is absolutely fixed and invariable. That general susceptibility of the emotion, sensitive, intellectual, and moral, which forms a part of our mental constitution, is, it ap. pears, so modified by the circumstances in which individuals are placed, that objects, which, but for these circumstances, would not have appeared beautiful to us, do seem beautiful; and that other objects, from the same cause, cease to give that delight which they
* Prologue to Cato, by Mr Pope, v. 27-.-36.
otherwise would have produced. It is obviously, therefore, impossible to determine, with perfect certainty, the great point in question as to original beauty; since, whatever our primary original feelings may have been, they must, by the influence of such modifying circumstances, that are operating from the very moment of our birth, be altogether diversified, before we are able to speculate concerning them, and, perhaps, even in the infant, before any visible signs of his emotions can be distinctly discovered.
Since we cannot, then, decide with confidence, either affirmatively or negatively, in such circumstances, all which remains in sound philosophy, is a comparison of mere probabilities. Do these, however, lead us to suppose, that originally, all objects are equally capable of receiving the primary influences of arbitrary or contingent circumstances, which alone determine them to be beautiful ? or do they not rather indicate original tendencies in the mind, in consequence of which it more readily receives impressions of beauty from certain objects than from others,-however susceptible of modification these original tendencies may be, so as afterwards to be varied or overcome by the more powerful influence of occasional causes ?
It must not be supposed, in an inquiry of this kind, that we are to look to those bigh delights which beauty, in its most attractive forms, affords ; for, though it may be false, that all the pleasure of beauty is derived from adventitious circumstances, it is certainly true at least, that our most valuable pleasures of this class are derived from circumstances, with which our imagination has learned to embellish objects. The only reasonable question is, not whether the chief emotions, which we now term emotions of beauty, be referrible to this source, but whether we must necessarily refer to it every emotion of this class, of every species and degree.
If, then, in our estimate of mere probabilities, we attend to the signs which the infant exhibits, almost as soon as objects can be supposed to be known to him, it is scarcely possible not to suspect, at least, that some emotions of this kind are felt by him.
The brilliant colours, in all their variety of gaudiness, which delight the child and the savage, may not, indeed, be the same which give most gratification to our refined sensibility ; but still they do give to the child, as they give to the savage, a certain gratification, and a gratification which we should, perhaps, still continue to feel, if our love of mere gaudy colouring were not overcome by the delight which, in after life, we receive from other causes that are inconsistent with this simple pleasure—a delight arising from excellencies, which the child and the savage have not had skill to discern, but which, when discerned, produce the impression of beauty, in the same manner as the brilliant varieties of colour, perhaps, that are easily distinguished, and, therefore, instantly felt to be beautiful. What child is there, who, in a toyshop, does not prefer the gaudiest toy, if all other circumstances of attraction are the same? or rather, to what child are not this very glare and glitter the chief circumstances of attraction? and in what island of savages have our circumnavigators found the barbarian to differ in this respect from the child? The refined critic may indeed feel differently; but this, as I have said, does not arise from defect of that original tendency to receive a pleasing emotion from the contemplation of those brilliant patchworks of colours, which, though he has learned to regard them as tawdry, he would, in other circumstances, have admired with the savage, but from the developement of tendencies to receive pleasure from other causes, which are inconsistent with this earlier delight,tendencies which are original, like the other, existing in the mind of the savage as much as in his own more cultivated mind, but existing there inertly, because circumstances have not arisen to develope them.
It is vain to say, in this case, that the pleasure which the gaudy patches of colour afford, is not an emotion of any sort, but a mere pleasure of sense ; for, of the direct sensual pleasure of the different rays of light, we are capable of judging as well as the child; and, though we still continue to feel, in many cases, an emotion of beauty from objects on which brilliant colours are spread in various proportions, we are able to make a sort of analysis of our complex feeling, so as in some degree to distinguish our admiring emotion as a result of the previous sensitive feeling, by which the colours became visible to us. If we were to judge by these primary sensitive feelings alone, it certainly would not be on the most brilliant colours that our eye would love to rest, with that intentness of vision to which the subsequent emotion of beauty leads, by the delight which it superadds, before the tawdry has been distin