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A STATE of the BAROMETER in inches and decimals, and of Farenheit's THERMOMETER, in the open air, taken before funrife, and the quantity of rain-water fallen, in inches and decimals, from the 31st of December 1785 to the 30th of January 1786, near the foot of Arthur's Seat.
VIEWS IN SCOTLAND
HE CASTLE of STRATHAVEN is fituated on the banks of the water of Aven in the County of Lanerk,is faid to have been built by Andrew firft Lord Avendale, who was created in 1456; but at what time it was built, there is no tradition.
The Barony and Lordfhip of Avendale was exchanged by Andrew third Lord Avendale with Sir James Hamilton of Finnart, for the Barony of O. chiltree in Airshire.
This Barony and Lordship of Avendale afterwards came into the family of Hamilton, whofe property it has fince remained;-and the Castle was fome time the place of refidence of Anne Dutchess of Hamilton.
An Attempt to fhow, that a Tafte for the Beauties of Nature and the fine Arts, has no Influence favourable to Morals. By the Reverend SAMUEL HALL, A. M.
THE 'HE numerous focieties for the promotion of literature and philofophy, which have been formed in different parts of Europe in the course of the laft and prefent centuries, have been not only the means of diffufing knowledge more extenfively, but have contributed to produce a greater number of important difcoveries, than have been effected in any other equal space of time.
Science, like fire, is put in motion by collifion.Where a number of men of learning have frequent opportunities of meeting and converfing together, thought begets thought, and every hint is turned to advantage.
A fociety, denominated the Literaand Philofophical Society, has lately been formed at Manchester, and two volumes of their Memoirs have juft been published. From the Literary Effays in the firft volume, we have felected the following; which we hope our readers will not be difpleafed to fee, as it contains obfervations
not generally made on a fubject very generally ftudied.
THE advocates for the influence of taste on the moral character have generally confounded that faculty with the moral fenfe. They feem to be perfuaded, that the fame power which discovers and relishes the beau ties of nature and of art, must equally discover and relish the beauty, the order, the harmony, of virtue. Lord Shaftesbury has fully adopted this notion. His difciple Hutchefon, with fome trifling diftinctions, has embra ced the fame opinion. The very ingenious author of the Elements of Criticifm tells us, that there is a ftrong and clofe affinity between tafte and the moral fenfe. • Taste (fays he) in the fine arts, goes hand in hand with the moral fenfe; to which indeed it is nearly allied.'
This natural connection and clofe alliance of tafte with the moral fenfe, may, perhaps, be very juftly difputed; as tafte, I apprehend, must be
the joint refult of delicate corporeal and intellectual powers; whilft what is utually understood by a moral sense, must be of a nature altogether intellectual.
But let us for a moment fuppofe, that fuch an union is really eftablished; and that tafte can take cognizance of the merit or demerit of actions, with the fame eafe or precifion that it pronounces on the abilities of the ftatuary or of the painter: will it neceffarily follow, that fuch a tafte muft always be productive of a virtuous conduct? It will not be difputed, that tafte generally operates in fome favourite direction. It does not embrace all the beauties of nature or of art with equal relish; nor explore every cience, even of thofe efteem ed elegant and refined, with the fame keennefs of difcernment. The pain ter is not always poffeffed of an ear finely tuned to mufic; nor the mufician always delighted with the elegance and vigour of pottical compofition. Nature feldom produces an accomplished mafter, unless her efforts have been directed to one particular object. And in vain would be the attempt to rife to excellence in any art or science, fave that which is congenial to the tafte. Some men, indeed, feem to be poffeffed of what may be termed a general tafte, and are capable of at leaft moderate at tainments in every branch: But tafte, like every other energy, perhaps is weaker in proportion as it is diffused.
Upon this fuppofition, it is evident a man may have an exquifite tafte for fome particular art or fcience, and yet no taste for virtue. To this fpecies of beauty the faculty may be fo little fenfible, as to produce no effects. In fuch a cafe, virtue only fhares the fate of many other things which are confeffedly objects of tafte, and which are rejected because the capacity adapted to them
is fo weak that it may be said to be wanting.
But let us fuppofe that tafte really exercifes fome of the privileges and powers of the moral fenfe. The advocates for its practical influence would not gain much by this very ample conceffion. The mere fenfe of the beauty of virtue (and it is not pretended that any thing further can be the object of taste) abstracted from every other confideration, will fcarcely be thought fufficient to fupport her caufe. The theory appears more fpecious than folid, more pleafing than efficacious. When dreffed with the art, the ingenuity, and the eloquence, of a Shaftesbury, it may entertain and amufe, the heart being fuppofed in a state of ease, calm and indifferent. But its effects will not be fufficiently ftrong with the generality of mankind, to fpur them on to action. We furvey the lovely picture, are convinced that it is a fine one, yet turn afide to fome other object that agitates our hopes and fears.
The doctrine may probably fuit the retired temper of the philofopher, or the apathy of the ftoic; but is ill calculated for the bufy haunts of men,' and the tumults of focial life. The man of taste admires the beauty and expreffion exhibited in the works of a Raphael or a Michael Angelo, without feeling the flightest wish to become an artift, and to rival these great mafters. May he not, in like manner, view the charms of virtue and of a moral conduct, without making one fingle effort to become a moralift or a virtuous man?
I should imagine it impoffible for any perfon poffeffed of the leaft fenfibility, to read the character of Sir Charles Grandifon, drawn with so much delicacy by Richardson, and not admire and approve the clegance of manners and purity of morals with which he has adorned his
hero. But is it certain, that he will beltow more than his approbation? Will he entertain a fingle thought of copying the amiable portrait? To admire and reverence virtue, is a tribute extorted even from vice. The moft profligate and wicked characters experience a secret consciousness that every preference is due to virtue, and are not infenfible to her fuperior lovelinefs. But does this fenfe operate on the mind with fufficient tone to influence or to reclaim? Vi deo meliora proboque, deteriora fequor, muft be the language of every fin. ner whose faculties are not utterly depraved.
It is a remarkable circumstance,' fays Brown in his Effay on the Characteristics, that in the decline of both the Greek and Roman states, when religion had loft its credit and efficacy, this very taste, this fpecies of philofophy, ufurped its place, and became the common ftudy and amufement both of the vile and vulgar.' Quintilian, no doubt, had a view to this in the following paffage: Nunc autem, quæ vel ut propria philofophie afferuntur, paffim tractamus omnes. Quis enim modo de jufto, æquo, ac bono, non et vir pessimus loquitur ?
The truth feems to be, that a mere fense of the beauty of virtue cannot operate as a coercive power; and however the theory may please the reafoner in the fhade, when the paffions ftagnate without impulfe, and the appetites are fecluded from their objects, it will be of little force against the ardour of defire or the vehemence of rage, amidst the pleasures or conflicts of the world. To contract the power of temptations, hope must be excited by the profpect of rewards, and fear by the expectation of punishment. In a word, virtue may owe her panegyric to a Plato or a Shaftesbury, but muft derive her efficacy and authority from religion.
From what has been advanced, it appears to me extremely evident, that fuppofing tafte were confidered not only as connected with, but even advanced to, the rank of the moral fenfe, its influence on the heart would be too faint and languid to produce any moral effects. The charms of virtue may be seen with the eye of fpeculation, without exciting in us a defire of becoming virtuous; juft as an excellent picture, or fine pro: fpect, may afford us very confiderable pleafure, and yet produce not a fingle with to difpoffefs the owners, and to make them ours. And though it may be fuppofed, that a fenfe of the charms of virtue muft naturally give us a prejudice in her favour; yet, will this prejudice be fufficient to keep us fteady to her interests when vice fteps forth attired with every feductive ornament of taste that can win the affection, and engages the ftrongest paffions of the heart as advocates in her favour?
But we are told, that tafte naturally fweetens and harmonizes the temper, and restrains the turbulence. of paffion and violence of purfuit." On this fuppofition, the beauty of virtue may have confiderable effects on a mind already difpofed by calmnefs and compofure to yield to the gentleft influence.
This reafoning will not easily be fupported by experience and matter of fact. The connection between genius and tafte is fo common, that they may almost be confidered as infeparable companions. Genius without tafte would be no better than frenzy; and tafte without genius would be diftinguished for nothing but a lifelefs accuracy. But genius, it is generally agreed, is united to a warm and inflammable constitution.
If,' fays an eminent critic, the imagination be lively, the paffions will be ftrong; true genius feldom refides in a cold and phlegmatic conftitution.
The fame temperament, and the fame fenfibility, that makes a poet or a painter, will be apt to make a man a lover and a debauchee.' Thefe propensities of nature may be reAtrained by the dictates of reason, and especially by the awful fanctions of religion; and thus genius and virtue may unite and adorn the fame perfon. But in vain thall we look for these important effects from the influence of tafte. In vain fhall we expect to find, that men of genius and of tafte will be always diftinguifhed for the fweetnefs of their tempers and the purity of their morals. The irritability of a Pope and a Gray, and the voluptuoufnefs of a Montague and a Chesterfield, may be adduced as inftances, amongit numberless others, of the truth of what has been advanced.
But we are further told, tafte for the beautiful fcenes of nature, not only compofes and harmonizes the temper, but difpofes the mind to acts of piety and devotion, by raising our ideas from Nature to Nature's God.' The thought is pleafing and ingenious, but must not be admitted without many exceptions. The impreffions made by the beauties of nature will greatly depend on the paffions, the habits, and the pursuits of the beholder. Let the musician take the wildly devious walk,' his notice will probably be attracted by the melody of the grove, as most nearly related to his favourite art. The eye of the painter will be engaged by the rich landfcape that lies before him, and his thoughts will be naturally turned to the effect which might be produced by a lively tranfcript on canvafs of fo picturefque a fcene: While the poet, however truck by the grandeur or elegance of furrounding objects, will only meditate how they would live in defcription, and look green in
fong.' It is the calm contemplative mind alone, influenced by religious impreffions, that furveys this fair heritage with pious and grateful fenti ments towards the Almighty Crea tor. A mind thus happily difpofed, in the animated language of Shakefpeare,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in ftones, and good in every thing.
I fhall now mention a few inftan ces where tafte feems to be produc tive of misfortune and immorality. We frequently fee a man of real and acknowledged tafte run into all the folly and extravagance of Virtu. It is not fufficient for him, that he may be regaled with the productions of art and genius in the poffeffion of another. A man of this unhappy turn feels a reftlefs defire to call them his own. He is perpetually in queft of fome new object: but his unfortunate paffion grows more violent by indulgence; and however a new acquifition may gratify for the moment, yet in the end it becomes the fource of fresh difquiet. Thus, like Pope's Curio, who,
Reftlefs by his fair ones
Sighs for an Otho, and neglects his bride,
he is perpetually haunted by the demon of tafte; his mind becomes fretful, peevish, and diffatisfied; equally incapable of giving or receiving fa tisfaction. But, fhould his circumftances be contracted, the confe quences are dreadful indeed! He involves his deareft connections in all
the miseries of poverty.
The bailiffs come, rude men, profanely bold,
And bid him turn his Venus into gold.
No Sirs !'he cries, I'll fooner rot in jail! Shall Grecian arts be truck'd for English bail!'