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from discovering the process, of which Mr Alison speaks. We do not find, that there is, at least, that there is necessarily, any wide combination, or rapid succession, of trains, of those associate images or feelings, which he terms ideas of emotion ;-and yet we have seen reason to believe, that the chief part of beauty is truly derived from that mental process, which has been termed association,—the suggestion of some feeling or feelings, not involved in the primary perception, nor necessarily flowing from it. In what manner, then, does the suggestion act ?
The modes, in which it acts, seem to me to be, what I am about to describe,-modes, that are in perfect accordance with the general processes, which we have found to take place in the mind, in the phenomena before considered by us.
The associate feelings, that produce this effect, are, I conceive, of two kinds.-In the first place, any very vivid delight, that may have been accidentally connected with any particular object, may be recalled in suggestion by the same object, so as afterwards to make it seem, in combination with this associate feel. ing, more pleasing than it originally seemed to us; and may, in like manner, and with similar effect, as when it is recalled by the same object, be recalled directly by an object similar or analogous to the former, which thus, even when we first gaze upon it, may appear to have a sort of original loveliness, which, but for the rapid and unperceived suggestion, it would not have possessed. One degree of beauty is thus acquired,—by every object similar to that which has been a source to us of any primary pleasure,—and with this faint degree of pleasing emotion, other pleasures, arising, perhaps, wholly from accidental sources, at various times, may be combined, in like manner,-rendering the state of mind, in the progressive feeling, more complex, but still, as one feeling or state of the mind, not less capable of being again suggested by the perception of the same or similar objects, than the less complex emotion, that in the first stage preceded it. With every new accidental accession of pleasure, in the innumerable events that occur from year to year, the delight itself becomes more complex; till at length the whole amount of complex pleasure, which the same object may afford by this rapid suggestion to the mind which contemplates it, may be as different from that which constituted the feeling of beauty in the fourth or fifth stage of the growth of the emotion, as that beauty itself, in its fourth or fifth stage, differed from the simple original perception. Still, however, the pleasing emotion, though the gradual result of many feelings of many different stages, is itself always one feeling, or momentary state of the mind, that, as one feeling, admits of being suggested as readi. ly and rapidly in any one stage, as in any of the stages preceding; and it is this immediate state of complex emotion, however slowly and gradually formed, which I coriceive to be suggested, when objects appear to us beautiful; not the number of separate delightful states, which Mr Alison's theory supposes to be essentially necessary.
We feel the instant emotion of loveliness, on the perception of a particular object, though we may have been years in forming those complex associations, which have rendered the mind capable of now feeling that instant emotion.
It is in this way, that a landscape, which bears a resemblance to the scene of our early youth, or to any other scene where we have been peculiarly happy, cannot fail to be felt as more beautiful by us, than by others who have not shared with us that source of additional embellishment. The countenance of one who is dear to us, sheds a charm over similar features, that might otherwise scarcely have gained from us a momentary glance. An author, whose work we have read at an early period with delight, when it was, perhaps, one of the earliest gifts which we received, or the memorial of some tender friendship, continues for ever to exercise no inconsiderable dominion over our general taste. In these, and innumerable cases of the same kind, which must have occurred to every one in his own experience, the direct suggestion is of an amount of particular delight, associated with the particular object. This, then, is one of the modes in which I conceive the emotion of beauty to be excited, and the chief source of all the pleasure which we class under that comprehensive name. It is sufficiently easy to be understood ;-it accounts for the variety of emotions in different individuals, when the object which one admires is such as to others seems scarcely of a nature to afford any pleasing emotion whatever ;-and, above all, it accounts for those more perplexing anomalies, which we sometimes find in the taste of the same individual, when he admires, in some cases, with an admiration that seems to us scarcely consistent with the refined fastidiousness which he displays on other occasions. The delightful emotion
which he feels from objects that appear to others inferior to the far nobler objects of which he disapproves, may, in such cases, be confined to him, because the associations from which the emotion has arisen, were his alone.
It is in this way, I have said, that the chief pleasure of the emotion arises. But, if all the influence of association on beauty were exercised in this way, by the direct suggestion of a particular amount of pleasure resulting from accidental causes, that have been peculiar to the individual, it would not be easy to account for the whole phenomena of this tribe of emotions,-above all, for those regular gradations of beauty in different objects, which are felt in most cases with so general an agreement by the greater number of cultivated minds, and so uniformly, or almost uniformly, by the same individual. If every object had its own particular associations in the mind of every individual, and every object many opposite associations, it might be expected, that the emotion of beauty, or at least the estimate of the degree of beauty, would fluctuate in the same individual according to these caprices of accidental suggestion, and in the great multitude of society, would fluctuate at different moments, so as scarcely to admit of being fixed in any way. A face which at one time suggested one particular delight, might suggest by its various analogies, or various circumstances of the past, various degrees of delight, and with these, therefore, a perpetual variety of the resulting emotion. Notwithstanding all this variety, however, we estimate objects very nearly in the same way. There is a notion of excellence acquired in some manner,—a relative notion of fitness to excite a certain amount of delight,—which seems to be forever in our mind to direct us,-according to which, we fix at some precise degree the varying beauty of the moment. There is every appearance, therefore, in such cases, of the suggestion of one general feeling, and not merely of various fluctuating feelings. The suggestion of this general feeling, which is in perfect accordance with the laws of thought already investigated by us, forms, I ceive, a second mode of association, in its influence on the emotion of beauty ; and it is this chiefly which aids us in fixing the degrees of what we constantly, or almost constantly, recognize as less or more beautiful than certain other objects,-that is to say,
less or more fit to excite in cultivated minds a certain amount of pleasure.
I have already explained to you, in what manner the process of generalizing takes place. We see two or more objects,--We are struck with their resemblance in certain respects,--we have a general notion of the circumstances in which they thus resem. ble each other, to the exclusion, of course, of the circumstances in which they have no resemblance. For many of these mere relative suggestions of resemblance, we invent words, which from the generality of the notion expressed by them, are denominated general terins,—such as quadruped, animal, peace, virtue, happiness, excellence,--but though we invent many such general terms, we invent them, it is evident, only in a very few cases, comparatively with the cases of general feeling of resemblance of some sort, in which they are not invented,and we apply the same name frequently, in different cases, when the general feelings in our mind, however analogous, are not strictly the same. We apply the word peace, for example, to many states of international rest from war, which are far from conveying the same notions of safety and tranquillity,--the word happiness, to many states of mind which we feel at the same time, or might feel if we reflected on them, to be, in species and intensity, very different,--the word beauty, to many objects which excite in us very different degrees of delightful emotion, and which we readily recognize as fit only to ercite the emotion in these different degrees. In short, though our general terms be few, our general feelings are almost infinite,as infinite as the possible resemblances, which can be felt in any two or more objects,—and though we have not words expressive of all the degrees of feeling, we have notions of these degrees as different,-notions of various degrees of beauty,various degrees of happiness,—various degrees of excellence in general,-not embodied in words, but capable of being suggested to the mind by particular objects, as if they were so embodied. These notions have been formed by the mind, in the same way as all its other general notions have been formed-by the observation and comparison of many particulars,--and they arise to the mind on various occasions, when the particulars observed, correspond with the particulars before observed,—in the same way as the word quadruped, which we have invented for expressing various ani
mals known to us, occurs to our mind when we see for the first time some other animal, of which we had perhaps never heard, but which agrees, in the feeling of general resemblance which it excites, with the other animals formerly classed by us under that general word. This ready suggestion of general feelings which is continually taking place, in applications of which all must be sensible, and the possibility and likelihood of which no one will deny, is that which I suppose, in the case of the emotion at present considered by us, to direct our general estimate of degrees of beauty, or, in other words, our relative notion of the fitness of certain objects to excite a pleasing emotion of a certain intensity.
We discover this fitness, as we discover every other species of fitness, by observation of the past, -and by observing this past in others, as well as in ourselves, we correct, by the more general coincidence of the associations of others, what would be comparatively irregular, and capricious in the results of our own limited associations as individuals. The accidents of one, or of a few, when variously mingled, become truly laws of thought of the many. As this observation is more and more enlarged, the irregularities of individual association, are more and more counteracted by the foresight of the diversities of general sentiment,-till, at length, the beauty of which we think, in our estimates of its degree of excellence, though still, in a certain degree, influenced by former accidental feelings of the individual,-is, in a great measure, the beauty which we foreknow, that others are to feel,—and which we are capable thus of foreknowing, because we have made a wide induction of the objects, that have been observed by us, to excite the emotion in its various degrees, in the greater number of those, whose emotions we have had opportunities of measuring.
As we say of a well cultivated memory, that it is rich in images of the past, we may say of a well cultivated mind in general, that it is rich in notions of beauty and excellence,-notions, which it has formed by attentive observation and study of various objects, as exciting, in various circumstances, various degrees of delight; but which ever after rise simply and readily to the mind by suggestion, according as the objects, perceived or imagined, are of a nature to harmonize with them. The general notion of what will be most widely regarded as beauty or excellence, in