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My Children-oh! my Children-now farewell!
That ye muft know no more! O may that life
Ah! ftay-recall thofe cruel words-let death,
Perish the wretched day that I furvive thee!
Would our limits allow us, we could with pleasure make many more extracts both of the beauties of Euripides, and the most useful parts of Dr. Heath's Commentary; but our attention to a variety of articles obliges us to bring each within a moderate compafs. We have therefore only to add, for the information of our Readers, that of cur Author's Annotations on Euripides, as well as thofe cn Æfchylus and Sophocles, there are many that illuftrate and fome few which meliorate the text; many alfo there are that serve neither of thefe purposes. We have alfo obferved a few mistaken Criticifms; but fcarce any of them will mislead a Reader of taste, who, instead of placing verbal erudition on the feat of judgment, refers the decifion to nature and common sense.
Elements of Criticism. By Henry Home, Lord Kaims. 8vo. 3 Vols. 15s bound. Millar.
ITHIN the circle of human fcience there is no fubject fo comprehenfive and interefting as that of Criticifin, and yet none perhaps has been treated with fo little extent and precifion. It was referved for the learned and acute Author of the volumes before us, to trace it to its genuine principles, and to establish the laws of nature on the ruins of authority.
Former Writers have confidered Criticifin merely as an art, and have prescribed flavifh rules for the regulation of tafte, as if a Critic were to be formed by directions purely mechanical. But Criticism, taken in its enlarged fignification *, is improperly termed an art; for the principles of Criticism, which conftitute a part of our fenfitive nature, are not to be
Criticism fignifies no more than the faculty of judging in general, as is expreffed by the verb xw, from whence it is derived.
acquired by rule, though they may be improved by habit. We may, it is true, judge of Language from the inftructions of Grammarians, but no precepts whatever can enable us to judge of Sentiment. Philofophy indeed can, in many inftances, explain the caufes of our feelings, but no human skill can teach us to feel.
The effects produced by fentiment proceed principally from the original frame of the mind, whereby men are made fufceptible of various impreffions in very different degrees. What will scarcely raise the flightest emotion in one man, will, in another, excite the moft lively fenfations. But these feveral effects do not depend altogether on the difference of original difpofition, but arife, in a great mcafure, from the prefent tone of the organs, which occafions one and the same man at different times, to be very differently affected by the fame fentiment. When, by any adverfe accident, the mind is depreffed below its ordinary tone, it is readily disposed to diffolve at the flighteft fentiment of distress; fo on the contrary for the force of fympathy is never moved, in a just degree, but when the fentiment accords with the present tone of the mind. And this is a circumftance which every candid Critic fhould, before he prefumes to judge, weigh with the niceft attention.
The caufes, however, which vary the effects of fentiment, are almoft infinite. It would not be difficult, perhaps, to explain why their influence is fainter or ftronger, in proportion to the different periods of life, and to unfold many other principles which operate imperceptibly to a common eye. But fuch nice and fubtle difquifitions would lead us beyond the limits of our prefent defign; and we have only premifed thefe leading obfervations, in order to diftinguifh where Criticifin may be directed by rules of art, and where it is governed by principles independent of, and antecedent to, all given rules. Where fentiment is not concerned, we may indeed, as has been intimated, be taught to judge by fixed and invariable rules; but the judgment which we pass on any fentiment, correfponds with the impreffion which we receive from the fubject affecting us: and though men accustomed to abstract reflection may be able to trace the original caufe of thefe impreffions, yet the principle, when difcovered, will not conftitute any uniform standard, so as to enable us hereafter to form the like judgment, on the fame, or a fimilar fentiment. For when the mind is affected or difgufted, the affection or averfion takes place, as it were, by impulfe, and
gives no time for the formal application of given principles to influence the judgment.
We have been the more earneft in establishing this difference, fince, for want of accurate and conftant attention to this. diftinction, even our Author has not always expressed himself with that precifion which fo nice a fubject requires.
But not to anticipate our animadverfions, we proceed to exhibit, as far as our limits will allow us, the general scope of this ingenious work; which our Author introduces with fome curious obfervations concerning the impreffions we receive from the fenfes.
"The five Senfes (fays his Lordship) agree in the following particular, that nothing external is perceived, till it first makes an impreffion upon the organ of fenfe; the impreflion, for example, made upon the hand by a ftone, upon the palate by fugar, and upon the noftrils by a rofe. But there is a difference as to our confcioufnefs of that impreffion. In touching, tafting, and fmelling, we are confcious of the impreffion; not fo in feeing and hearing. When I behold a tree, I am not fenfible of the impreffion made upon my eye, nor of the impression made upon my ear when I listen to a fong. This difference in the manner of perception, diftinguifhes remarkably hearing and feeing from the other fenfes ; and diftinguishes ftill more remarkably the feelings of the former from thofe of the latter. A feeling pleafant or painful cannot exift but in the mind; and yet because in tafting, touching, and smelling, we are confcious of the impreffion made upon the organ, we naturally place there alfo the pleafant or painful feeling caufed by that impreffion. And becaufe fuch feelings feem to be placed externally at the organ of fenfe, we, for that reafon, conceive them to be merely corporeal. We have different apprchenfions of the pleasant and painful feelings derived from feeing and hearing. Being infenfible here of the organic impreffion, we are not misled to affign a wrong place to thefe feelings; and therefore we naturally place them in the mind, where they really exist. Upon that account they are conceived to be more refined and Spiritual, than what are derived from tafting, touching, and fmelling.
"The pleafure of the eye and ear being thus elevated above thofe of the other external fenfes, acquire fo much dignity as to make them a laudable entertainment. They are not, however, fet upon a level with thofe that are purely intellectual,
being not lefs inferior in dignity to intellectual pleasures, than fuperior to the organic or corporeal."
His Lordfhip in the next place traces the progrefs of our pleasures, among which the organic take the lead. The pleafures of the eye and ear fucceed, and prepare us for enjoying internal objects, where there cannot be an organic impreffion. He then proceeds to recommend the cultivating thofe pleafures of the eye and ear efpecially, which require extraordinary culture, fuch as are infpired by poetry, painting, fculpture, mufic, gardening, and architecture.The principles of the fine arts, he obferves, are evolved by studying the fenfitive part of human nature, and by learning what objects are naturally agreeable, and what are naturally difagreeable. The man, he adds, who afpires to be a Critic in these arts, muft pierce ftill deeper. He must clearly perceive what objects are lofty, what low, what are proper or improper, what are manly, and what are mean or trivial. Hence a foundation for judging of taste, and for reasoning upon it. Where it is conformable to principles, we can pronounce with certainty that it is correct; otherwife that it is incorrect, and perhaps whimfical. Thus the fine arts, like morals, become a rational fcience; and, like morals, may be cultivated to a high degree of refinement.
The advantages of Criticifm, when thus ftudied as a rational science, are next difplayed. Befide the entertainment it affords, it tends, as our Author obferves, to improve the heart not less than the understanding, by moderating the felfish affections. A juft taste in the fine arts, by fweetening and harmonizing the temper, is a strong antidote to the turbulence of paffion and violence of purfuit. Elegance of taste procures a man fo much enjoyment at home, or eafily within reach, that in order to be occupied, he is, in youth, under no temptation to precipitate into hunting, gaming, drinking; nor, in middle age, to deliver himself over to ambition; nor, in old age, to avarice.
"In the next place, delicacy of tafte tends not lefs to invigorate the focial affections, than to moderate those that are felfith. To be convinced of this tendency, we need only reflect that delicacy of tafte neceffarily heightens our fenfibility of pain and pleasure, and of course our sympathy, which is the capital branch of every focial paffion."
Laftly, his Lordship obferves, that Criticism is a great fupport to morality. "No occupation attaches a man more
to his duty, than that of cultivating a tafte in the fine arts. A juft taste of what is beautiful, proper, elegant, and ornamental, in writing or painting, in architecture or gardening, is a fine preparation for difcerning what is beautiful, just, elegant, or magnanimous, in character and behaviour. To the man who has acquired a tafte fo acute and accomplished, every action, wrong or improper, must be highly disgustful. If, in any inftance, the over-bearing power of paffion fway him from his duty, he returns to it upon the firft reflection, with redoubled refolution never to be fwayed a fecond time. He has now an additional motive to virtue, a conviction derived from experience, that happiness depends on regularity and order, and that a difregard to juftice or propriety never fails to be punished with fhame and remorfe."
The learned Writer proceeds to remark, that though in philofophy men affert their native privilege of thinking for themselves, and difdain to be ranked in any fect, whatever be the science, yet Criticifm continues to be not lefs flavish in its principles, nor lefs fubmiffive to authority, than it was originally. Boffu, a celebrated French Critic, gives many rules; but can difcover no better foundation for any of them, than the practice merely of Homer and Virgil, supported by the authority of Ariftotle. Strange, (fays he) that in fo long a work, the concordance or difcordance of these rules with human nature, should never once have entered his thoughts."
This cenfure is extremely juft; for certainly nothing can be more fervile and abfurd than to make an imitation, however excellent, the standard of tafte, instead of reforting to the divine original. And though thefe immortal bards fhould be allowed to have been the best imitators of nature, yet even they have been guilty of frequent deviations from her unerring laws.
In the conclufion of this ingenious Introduction, the Author declares, that "It is not his intention to give a regular treatife upon each of the fine arts in particular, but only, in general, to apply to them fome remarks and obfervations drawn from human nature, the true fource of Criticism.—And he affumes no merit from his performance, but that of evincing, perhaps more diftinctly than hitherto has been done, that the genuine rules of Criticism are all of them derived from the human heart.
Here, in our opinion, his Lordship has expreffed himself too generally. It is, perhaps, too much to say, that “the geREV. June, 1762.