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persons who seem almost to have been born Mathematicians, but they are the rare exceptions; and we most of us require to have our Tastes formed by the exercise of reason and experience. Experience, which gives us the opportunity of comparing different specimens, and reason, which enables us to judge of the fitness and adaptation of the object under inspection for the end proposed, and the harmony of its several parts, which is one great element of beauty. And, moreover, there is a rule of perfection in the works of nature, which is manifested more and more to the observer, and which it is the business of art to aim at obtaining. Let us see how this operates in any different examples. To take a very simple one:-Many people are fond of flowers; they possess, perhaps, a Carnation plant, which bears an abundance of flowers of a large size, and striped in varied marks with red and white; they admire and cherish it. But some friend, it may be, a little more advanced in floriculture, will inform them that their favorite is but a poor specimen; that, though large and full of blossoms, it is not true; that its colors are all run, and its shape contrary to all rule. And this is a fact, which, bye and bye, when they have seen and marked more perfect specimens of the same flower, will at once approve itself to their own reason. And nature proves it too; for while by care and attention you may perpetuate the perfect specimen in its identity, the imperfect one is ever varying; no two flowers, perhaps, will resemble each other, and all will be false. By reason and experience then, an improved Taste is acquired, and you learn to judge more correctly of the Beautiful, and, to a certain extent, of, what we may even term, the True. All Tastes are, so to speak, progressive; they are formed and improved by that exercise of our reason, which we are enabled to call into play by enlarged acquaintance with the works of nature and of art. This is the case in Music, Painting, Architecture and Literature; and the same principle, which enables us to form a correct judgment in these departments of art, will influence us in other matters also, such as Dress, Equipages, Furniture, and general manners and conversation. We learn to appreciate things by a different rule, and require a certain propriety, a harmony (which simply means a fitting together) in all the parts to satisfy us. And where we meet with these requisites we shall derive a depth and intensity of gratification, of which, in times past, we had no conception.
There is no doubt often an affectation of Taste, a pretence of admiring because it is considered the right thing to do so; while the individuals expressing such admiration, or affecting such Taste, may neither understand nor appreciate the works they are praising. But this is beside the present question.
As there are some people, who, as I said, have a natural and intuitive correct Taste, so some others will always retain a false one; as there are some people who cannot distinguish colors, and others who perceive no difference between different tunes. I speak, however, of the general state of the case; that there is a certain standard of Taste, which, though not defined exactly, is yet a real one; and by experience we become fully conscious of it, appreciate it, and acknowledge its truth. Taste is progressive; and in general we always find, until cultivated and refined, that it rests with most satisfaction upon what is merely vast, or what is ornamented and showy; without reference to any rules of concinnity, harmony, fitness or propriety. Let us take one of the lowest specimens in connection with dress: viz., the passion for an accumulation of all the brightest and gaudiest colors, which is manifested so generally by negroes--and in a certain degree by many of a different class. So again with respect to Music, you will always find, that any peo ple who know but little of music, receive but little satisfaction from any thing which has not, what is termed, a great deal of tune in it; and that they will listen with far more delight to a comic song set to some jingling notes, than to the finest pieces of Handel or Mozart. But this would not continue if they had sufficient experience to test their Taste; and nothing is more remarkable than the growth in England, specially in London, during the last few years, of a true Taste for the better styles of both vocal and instrumental Music; though the English are certainly not a people of musical genius, like the Germans and Italians. Besides many other places used for like purposes, in the great room at Exeter Hall, which will hold upwards of 3,000 people, with an orchestra for 500, Oratorios are performed all through the winter to such crowded audiences that every inch of standing room is filled ; and this not for the sake of any particular popular singer, but for the sake of the music itself. The Messiah of Handel, the creation of Haydn, the Elijah of Mendelssohn, a work confessedly so scientific that it requires to be heard often to be fitly appreciated, are the objects of their admiration. These concerts, though all classes are present, are for the most part attended by the neighbouring tradespeople and their families, who not long since would have been tempted out by nothing less exciting than an Ethiopian melody.
The same change, though at a slower rate, is being effected in the public taste in the department of Painting, by the greater facilities afforded for becoming acquainted with the works of the great masters in the National Gallery, Lord Ellesmere's and others, freely opened to the public. And it is not possible that any one, whose eye has been accustomed to delight in the richness of Rubens, or whose imagination has been excited by the inspiration of Raphael, can fail to see the justness of that Taste, which accords to them such an illustrious place in the Temple of Fame; and while deriving intense gratification from the contemplation of their works, he will turn with indifference from the gaudy canvass, which he perhaps had once fondly regarded as a masterpiece of art.
Good Taste will particularly require that there should be a certain harmony and propriety in all the parts of any work; not satisfied with any amount of ornament, which is not in place and keeping. Thus, however excellent may be the quavers and flourishes of
any scientific singer, yet if they are intruded into the music of Handel, for instance, they will be so out of place, so out of keeping with his majestic simplicity, that they will utterly destroy its character and effect. Just as if in Architecture you were to erect a Portico, with Corinthian pillars, for a Temple of the severe simplicity of the Doric order; or what is still more incongruous, a highly ornamental Grecian porch for a Gothic church: as is the case in the great church of St. Mary's at Oxford. However such ornaments may be admired in themselves, they are out of place.
But to form a correct Taste in Music, Painting or Architecture, it is requisite that the best models should be studied. In Painting, the first thing which attracts the attention of the many, is the
story, if there be one; but this evidently has nothing to do with the painting, since it is equally well told in an engraving, or in a painted copy. This is soon mastered, and can be learned at once by reference to the printed text of a catalogue; and when once understood, there is nothing further to be developed by it. But this is but a small portion of the painter's art; the poetry, the imagination, the high artistic skill which depends on the genius of the artist, and which are shown in the lights and shadows-the depth and richness of colouring--the force of expression—all this requires long study to appreciate. It gives such an enduring interest to the portraits of Vandyck, and the great master-pieces of Correggio, Caracci or Raphael. The same occurs in Poetry. What numbers have read “ The Lady of the Lake," or “Marmion," simply for the story; utterly regardless of all the beautiful imagery and poetic fire which constitute their highest charm and excellence.
Here on this side the Atlantic there must be, for many years, great disadvantages in forming a correct Taste in most of the Fine Arts from want of facility of access to the best models. In painting, scarcely any single specimens of the best masters are to be seen anywhere by the public on this continent; and there does not exist one great public collection of them. There is one public exhibition of pictures in New York, the Dusseldorf Gallery, which is a collection of works of modern German artists, sent there for exhibition and sale: and though including some pictures of considerable merit, yet as a general gallery of Art it is quite without pretensions.
Where there is but little familiarity with the style of the old Masters, great impositions are often practised; and a school of painters is said to exist in Italy for the purpose of manufacturing pictures which may pass for old. originals, and which are being constantly bought up as such. These copies easily re. main undetected, where they are not exposed to the examination of any experienced judges. But you could not exhibit a copy of any ancient master in London for a single day, how excellently soever it might be executed, without its being immediately detected as such, by many scrutinizing eyes, which know at once the ex
quisite touch of Caracci and Correggio, Julio Romano and Raphael; and each distinct from the other, as well as if their names were emblazoned in full at the bottom of the picture. This arises from having their judgments corrected by experience, and their Taste raised by long familiarity with excellence. And so also in Architecture. Where shall we look in this country for any pure specimens of Art ? And in Music we must likewise to a considerable extent, be at great disadvantage in these respects, when compared with the inhabitants of England and the continent of Europe.
But if this be so in these branches of Art, from the difficulty of access to more perfect models, the same need not be the case, to the like degree, in Literature.-Raphael's great work of "the Transfiguration" in the Vatican, or his “ Madonna di San Sisto ' in the Dresden Gallery,—the Crucifixion of St. Peter by Rubens at Cologne,mor that marvellous “Statue that enchants the world's in the Tribune of the Florence Gallery,—the ecclesiastical edifices in Normandy and England,—the colossal remains of the Flavian Amphitheatre at Rome, or the ruins of the Acropolis at Athens,
-are single and alone; they cannot be reproduced and multiplied in their identity, and made equally accessible to the inhabitants of every nation.-But the Art of Printing enables every one, if he pleases, at a trifling cost, to be as familiar with the works of the ancient or modern Augustan ages of Literature, in the backwoods or wilds of North America, as in the most famed seats of learning on the banks of the Isis, or amidst the groves of Academus. Of course it is not likely that in such different localities they will be studied with equal assiduity or success; and there must be many advantages, arising from without, that are accessible in one and not in the other. But still, as contrasted with the sister arts, the path of Literature is thus comparatively laid open, and in consequence the best models may be studied, and the taste improved, and what is excellent appreciated. And there is such an affinity between these different branches of Art, that the formation of a just Taste, capable of appreciating the Beautiful and the True in any one department, will prepare the way for the development of an improved Taste in others also. For it will give a more correct standard to the mind and feelings, and will cause a craving after