« הקודםהמשך »
of combining. We are limited in our inquiry by the strict laws to which we have submitted at our setting out.
-Circa vilem patulumque morabimur orbem, Unde pudor proferre pedem vetat aut operis lex. A definition may be very exact, and yet go but a very little way towards informing us of the nature of the thing defined; but let the virtue of a defini. tion be what it will, in the order of things, it seems rather to follow than to precede our inquiry, of which it ought to be considered as the result. It must be acknowledged, that the methods of disquisition and teaching may be sometimes different, and on very good reason undoubtedly: but, for my part, I am convinced that the method of teaching which approaches most nearly to the method of investigation is incomparably the best; since, not content with serving up a few barren and lifeless truths, it leads to the stock on which they grew; it tends to set the reader himself in the track of invention, and to direct him into those paths in which the author has made his own discoveries, if he should be so happy as to have made any that are valuable.
But, to cut off all pretence for cavilling, I mean by the word Taste no more than that faculty or those faculties of the mind which are affected with, or which form a judgment of, the works of imagination, and the elegant arts. This is, I think, the most general idea of that word, and what is the least connected with any particular theory. And my point, in this inquiry, is to find whether there are any principles, on which the imagination is affected, so common to all, so grounded and certain, as to apply the means of reasoning satisfactorily about them. And such principles of taste I fancy
there are ; however paradoxical it may seem to those who, on a superficial view, imagine that there is so great a diversity of Tastes, both in kind and degree, that nothing can be more intermediate.
All the natural powers in man, that I know, that are conversant about external objects, are the Senses, the Imagination, and the Judgment. And first, with regard to the Senses. We do and we must suppose, that as the conformation of their organs are nearly or altogether the same in all men, so the manner of perceiving external objects is in all men the same, or with little difference. We are satisfied that what appears to be light to one eye appears light to another; that what seems sweet to one palate is sweet to another; that what is dark and bitter to this man is likewise dark and bitter to that: and we conclude in the same manner of great and little, hard and soft, hot and cold, rough and smooth, and indeed of all the natural qualities and affections of bodies. If we suffer ourselves to ima. gine that their senses present to different men different images of things, this sceptical proceedling will make every sort of reasoning on every subject vain and frivolous, even that sceptical reasoning it. self, which had persuaded us to entertain a doubt concerning the agreement of our perceptions. But as there will be little doubt that bodies present similar images to the whole species, it must necessarily be allowed, that the pleasures and the pains which every object excites in one man, it must raise in all mankind, whilst it operates naturally, simply, and by its proper powers only; for, if we deny this, we must imagine that the same cause, operating in the same manner, and on subjects of the same kind, will produce different effects, which would be highly absurd. Let us first consider this
point in the sense of Taste, and the rather as the faculty in question has taken its name from that
All men are agreed to call vinegar sour, honey sweet, and aloes bitter: and as they are all agreed in finding these qualities in those objects, they do not in the least differ concerning the effects with regard to pleasure and pain. They all concur in calling sweetness pleasant, and sourness and bitterness unpleasant. Here there is no diversity in their sentiments; and that there is not appears fully from the consent of all men in the metaphors which are taken from the sense of Taste. A sour temper, bitter expressions, bitter curses, a bitter fate, are terms well and strongly understood by all. And we are altogether as well understood when we say, a sweet disposition, a sweet person, a sweet condition, and the like. It is confessed, that custom and some other causes, have made many deviations from the natural pleasures or paius which belong to these several Tastes; but then the power of distinguishing between the natural and the acquired relish remains to the very last. A man frequently comes to prefer the taste of tobacco to that of sugar,
and the flavour of vinegar to that of milk ; but this makes no confusion in Tastes, whilst he is sensible that the tobacco and vinegar are not sweet, and whilst he knows that habit alone has reconciled him to these alien pleasures. Even with such a person we may speak, and with sufficient precision, concerning Tastes. But should any man be found who declares that to him tobacco has a Taste like sugar, and that he cannot distinguish between milk and vinegar; or that tobacco and vinegar are sweet, milk bitter, and sugar sour; we immediately con. clude that the organs of this man are out of order, and that his palate is utterly vitiated. We are as
far from conferring with such a person upon Tastes, as from reasoning concerning the relations of quantity with one who should deny that all the parts together were equal to the whole. We do not call a man of this kind wrong in his notions, but absolutely mad. Exceptions of this sort, in either way, do not at all impeach our general rule, nor make us conclude that men have various principles concern. ing the relations of quantity, or the Taste of things. So that when it is said, Taste cannot be disputed, it can only mean, that no one can strictly answer what pleasure or pain some particular man may find from the Taste of some particular thing. This, indeed, cannot be disputed; but we may dispute, and with sufficient clearness too, concerning the things which are naturally pleasing or disa. greeable to the sense. But when we talk of any peculiar or acquired relish, then we must know the habits, the prejudices, or the distempers of this particular man, and we must draw our conclusion from those.
This agreement of mankind is not confined to the Taste solely. The principle of pleasure derived from sight is the same in all. Light is more pleasing than darkness. Summer, when the earth is clad in green, when the heavens are serene and bright, is more agreeable than winter, when every thing makes a different appearance. I never remember, that any thing beautiful, whether a man, a beast, a bird, or a plant, was ever shewn, though it were to a hundred people, that they did not all immediately agree that it was beautiful, though some might have thought that it fell short of their expectation, or that other things were still finer. I believe no man thinks a goose to be more beautiful than a swan, or imagines that what they call a Friez
land hen excels a peacock. It must be observed too, that the pleasures of the sight are not near so complicated, and confused, and altered by unnatural habits and associations, as the pleasures of the Taste are; because the pleasures of the sight more commonly acquiesce in themselves, and are not so often altered by considerations which are inde. pendent by the sight itself. But things do not spon. taneously present themselves to the palate as they do to the sight, they are generally applied to it either as food or as medicine; and, from the qualities which they possess for nutritive or medi. cinal purposes, they often form the palate by de. grees, and by force of these associations. Thus, opium is pleasing to Turks, on account of the agreeable delirium it produces. Tobacco is the delight of Dutchmen, as it diffuses a torpor and pleasing stupefaction. Fermented spirits please our common people, because they banish care, and all consideration of future or present evils. All of these would lie absolutely neglected if their proper. ties had originally gone no farther than the Taste ; but all these, together with tea and coffee, and some other things, have passed from the apothecary's shop to our tables, and were taken for health long before they were thought of for pleasure. The effect of the drug had made us use it frequently; and frequent use, combined with the agreeable ef
ect, has made the Taste itself at last agreeable. But this does not in the least perplex our reasoning; because we distinguish to the last the acquired from the natural relish. In describing the taste of an unknown fruit, you would scarcely say, that it had a sweet and pleasant flavour like tobacco, opium, or garlic, although you spoke to those who were in the constant use of these drugs, and had great plea