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“ fense.” This formidable champion has, it feems, given“ the last fatal blow to languishing fophiftry.".
To be serious, I am as willing as Mr. K. to allow every poflible degree of merit to Dr. Beattie's intentions. Dr. B. ranks very high in that class of men, amongst whom Mr. K. himself makes no contemptible figure : I mean the men of classical taste and polite literature; and his truly elegant and ingenious productions I have read with peculiar pleasure; but notwithstanding the high encomium passed upon him by Mr. K. I acknowledge I entirely coincide in opinion with those who think it fortunate for Dr. B. that his literary reputation does not depend upon his skill in Metaphysics. In my apprehenfion, Truth is under little obligation to a champion, who con. feffes his inability to oppose argument to argument, and silence sophistry by just reasoning; and who, by way of compensation, pretends to erect for her protection, as a dernier resort, a court of appeal, in which a pretended infallible judge, a kind of Pope, presides, stiled by Dr. B. “ Common Sense;" but I suspect his true name is “ Vulgar Prejudice;" who decides in cases which have been thought very intricate without a moment's hesi. tation, and without giving himself the trouble to hear counfel on either side, though both parties are very desirous of pleading their respective causes; and alledge, that they have much to offer in their own defence.
I will not however affert, that Dr. Beattie's elaborate work is without its use.
An honest well-meaning man, such as Mr. K. describes in his forty-second Effay, who for the first forty or fifty years of his life has studied no other books than his journal and ledger, and afterwards retires into the country to study Berkeley and Hume, may well be alarmed, when he finds that between them he is absolutely in danger of being argued out of his existence; since one undertakes to prove that he has no soul, and the other clearly demonstrates that he has no body. But when he opens this incomparable treatise of Dr. B. he is overjoyed to find that he is indeed the very fame identical person that he took himself to be before he began to study Metaphysics; and he has the satisfaction to be informed, as he proceeds in the farther perusal of the work, that he may
become an able metaphysician at a much easier rate than he himself hoped for, or could have imagined. In short, he is told that common sense alone, without any previous instruction, is sufficient to enable a man to decide upon the most abstruse questions in that abstruse science, and he shuts the book again fully convinced that he is as great a philosopher as Locke, Berkeley, or Hume; and he is now completely qualified to exclaim against all Metaphysics, as futile, useless, unintelligible, and dangerous ; and fully prepared to assert, that a single sermon of Tillotson * has done more real good than all the metaphysical works of Dr. Clarke; and, to show that he is biassed by no blind partiality for that famous Prelate, he may take occasion to add, that the droll inventions of Hogarth have been of more service to the cause of virtue than all * the sermons of Tillotson.
* Vide Essay 168.
R. Addison has most elegantly and justly ob
served, that “ there is as much difference “ between comprehending a thought clothed in “ Cicero's language and that of an ordinary
writer, as between seeing an object by the light “ of a taper or the light of the fun.” What is it then that distinguishes the stile of Cicero from that of an ordinary writer? or, to generalize the question, What is it that constitutes beauty of Stile ? This is a question which I have never yet seen satisfactorily answered. Nevertheless, it must be acknowledged, that, amongst the crowd of authors who have written about it and about it," fome have treated the subject with admirable ingenuity and acuteness; and if, after all, they have found it impossible fully to explain the true principles of taste, they have given indisputable proof at least that it was not because they were themselves strangers to their influence. But if there is no fixed and infallible standard of truth, which is in itself fixed and immutable, how can it reasonably be expected that a general standard of beauty can ever be established ? For beauty is that
quality in objects whatever it be, the view or contemplation of which excites pleasureable emotions ; it is plain therefore that beauty is a relative, not a real, quality; and it must be as various as the different tastes and sentiments of all the different individuals of mankind; and with respect to that particular species of beauty which we are now considering, I mean beauty of language, there is perhaps as great a diversity of sentiment as upon any species of beauty whatever ; yet that taste, by which is meant our capacity for discerning beauty, is not wholly capricious and arbitrary, may be inferred from an appeal to certain facts, which incontrovertibly demonstrate, that the productions of various writers for a long succession of ages
have actually excited very lively emotions of pleasure in the minds of a great majority of those who are capable of understanding them; and that a great proportion of this pleasure arises from the beauty of the language in which they expressed their ideas evidently appears, from this consideration alone, that the faine sentiments translated into other language cease to charm, or at least to excite the same kind and degree of delight. Of this class of writers we may reckon Homer, Virgil, Demofthenes, Cicero, Livy, Horace, Terence, and innumerable other Grecian and Roman authors, who are universally regarded as the grand models of literary excellence. Here then we seem to approach to something which resembles a standard of beauty as it relates to Stile ; for if there are those who