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it. Thus patriotism, or the strong attachment which almost every person feels for his country, is in a manner created from the pleasurable sensations derived in our earliest youth from the enjoyments we have found there. The sight of the place where we have been happy always revivo in us a placid, perhaps a melancholy idea of pleasure.
But it is not necessary in a course of letters on rhetoric and criticism, to enter deeply into the philosophy of the human mind, of which, after all, but little is known; and my wish is rather to make these letters practical than speculative. The pleasures afforded by the fine arts, music, painting, and poetry, have been termed “ the pleasures of the imagination," in contradiction to the sensual pleasures, though I confess music appears to approach very near to a mere pleasure of the sense ; and it is perhaps from its connexion with poetry, or rather from its subservience to it, that it has been classed among the superior arts, or those which administer pleasure to the mind.
The pleasures of the imagination are almost all in a considerable degree the result of associ. ation. If it was possible to present a finely
pictured landscape to a person who had never seen a natural landscape, one who had been born blind, and who was recently couched for instance, I much doubt whether he would derive from it any other pleasure than that which its novelty would afford. I question whether the harmony of the colouring, so much spoken of by painters, or the light and shade, would afford any peculiar pleasure. It is the recollection that is revived of the beauties of nature, of the happiness we have enjoyed in similar scenes, or possibly of that which we have heard described as flowing from them, and perhaps an admiration of the excellence of the imitation, that principally inspire us with pleasurable sensations on such an occasion.
Hence the fine arts, and particularly paint. ing, sculpture, and poetry, have been termed the “ imitative arts,” because their chief excellence depends upon their being an imitation or description of whatever is beautiful or striking in nature.
To apply all this to the immediate object of our correspondence. Nothing is more obvious than that some books are more pleasing than others; some 'forcibly occupy our attention,
while some inevitably tire and disgust. It is very easy to see why a narrative or description, a fine history or a well-told fiction, a tragedy or a romance should interest. It is because it affords us a picture of ourselves, or of something in which our passions are naturally engaged. But why one composition should be even more pleasing in its manner than another, why the style and language of an author should particularly interest us, is a more curious inquiry, and more remote from common observation.
Should we be able to satisfy ourselves upon this subject, it is probable that even a practical benefit might result from it, since a person who is acquainted with the sources whence those materials are derived which render a composition pleasing, will be better able to avail himself of them than one who writes at random, and without any knowledge of his art.
I am not one of those who affect to 66 write dull receipts how poems should be made." I know that the most intense study will not give what is called genius, or imagination, or fancy; but still I must assert thąt every intellectual endowment may be improved. I must assert that writing, as far as chasteness, correctness, elegance, and fluency are concerned, is as much an art as any other; that it is in a great measure acquired by practice and study, by an i imitation of the best models, and by occasionally referring even to principles and rules.
That this is an undoubted truth must be confessed by any person who observes how much more numerous good, or at least tolerable writers, are at present in this country than they were two centuries ago. Nature must create a Shakspeare, a Milton, a Pope, a Swift, an Addison, a Johnson or a Gibbon. These were men possessed of most powerful imaginations, most pregnant fancies; but it is chiefly art which produces the many smooth and elegant writers who flourish at all times in the inferior walks of literature. I knew a very old gentleman of considerable talent who used to
that in his youth it was a distinction to write well; but that now even the essays in the common newspapers were composed in a correct and agreeable style.
What I have now observed ought not to lessen the value of this accomplishment of writing well in your opinion. The more general it is, the more indispensable it becomes. To
PLEASURES FROM THE FINE ARTS.
be able to maintain an epistolary correspondence, with elegance and spirit, is now an essential qualification in the character of every gentleman, I had almost said of every lady. Besides, that all public speaking, in whatever line, is a species of composition, and he will certainly be the most successful who, if possessed of equal talents with his competitors, has made himself well acquainted with the rules and principles of eloquence.