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recollection of the great body of beautiful compositions that exist under the same form, that we are inclined to ascribe the whole beauty of versification : and we must own, that we think the last-named author very greatly exaggerates its importance, when he contends, that, without its assistance, it would be absolutely impossible to sustain that elevation of tone, and lofty flow of utterance, which is necessary to the existence of poetry considered as the language of enthusiasm. Real enthusiasm, in so far as we have observed, has no tendency to express itself in measured language. We have no sort of notion that Demosthenes would have increased the effect of his Phillippics, or Cicero of his Catilinarians, by turning them into lambics; and are sure that we feel no want of the tone of enthusiasm, when we hear Mrs. Siddons or Kemble declaim the prose speeches of Shakspeare. On the contrary, we think it is almost established as a common remark, that this very uniform elevation of tone, and regular flow of sound, which are inseparable from verse, and essential, according to Mr. Knight, to the animation of poetry, is found to pall upon the ear much sooner than prose of the most disorderly construction. There are very few people, we believe, who do not feel cloyed and satiated before they have read fifty solid pages of the finest poetry in the world,—though there are not many reading men who would be at all oppressed with a much larger allowance of prose : and with regard to the assistance which one reading aloud may be supposed to derive from the verse, as directing him how to bring out the sense with effecl, we are really at a loss lo conceive what aid he could receive from such a guide, unless Mr. Knight is of opinion, that all verses of the same structure should be read with the same accent and intonation, whatever may be their subject or meaning. To us, we will consess, it appears that, in reading either verse or prose, it is necessary to know the meaning and scope of the sentence, before it is possible to modulate the voice with propriety in pronouncing it; and that, after the meaning is known, it is just as easy to give it this modulation in prose as in verse. In both cases, it may be necessary to glance over a long and complicated sentence before we can safely venture upon delivering it; but this is just as necessary in measured as in unmeasured composition; and, when we are once possessed of its meaning and its structure, it is generally easier to give a just utterance to the latter than the former.

Long as we have been in the exposition of this simple theory, we cannot finally conclude cur account of it, without adding one or two words upon the mere organic or physical delight which appears in some few cases to procure the appellation of beautiful to the objects that produce it, and to which such extravagant importance has been assigned by some writers of greal note. Certain combinations of sounds, called musical concords, are agreeable to those who possess a musical ear, apparently by a primary law of our constitution, and independent of any association; and certain colours, and combinations of colours, or of lights and shades, are supposed to be instinctively agreeable in the same way.

The last of these facts has made a prodigious figure in many theories of beauty; and even in the acute and philosophical publication of Mr. Knight, á very high degree of intrinsic beauty is supposed to reside in tints, and combinations of tints, and the mere optical impression of broken or mingling masses of light and shadow. Now, we are so far from agreeing in these propositions, that we are somewhat inclined to be sceptical as to the existence of any such organical delight; and at all events to hold, that if there be any pleasures of the eye which cannot be referred to the association of human sympathies, they are exceedingly feeble and insignificant. The eye sees nothing but light ; and that light most commonly coloured. It is hurt with excessively bright light, just as the ear is hurt with excessively loud sound, the nostrils by very pungent odours, or the whole body by excessive heal or pressure : and moderate light is agreeable, just as moderate sound or moderate heal is, by giving us some intimation of our existence, and stimulating the powers of sensation and attention. Wedo not call moderate heat or moderale pressure beautiful, however, though they may be agreeable ; and it is not very easy to say, why moderate light, which is only another name for colour not too glaring, should be honoured with that appellation. As to particular colours, again, we are rather slow in believing that any one is intrinsically more beautiful than another, or that they ever possess any beauty except by association with interesting objects. It is certain, at least, that there is no colour that would be beautiful everywhere. Bright and soft green is beautiful, because it is the livery of the spring; and soft and bright blue, because we see it in the summer sky; and pink and vermilion, because they blush on the cheeks of innocence :--but vermillion would not be beautiful on the grass,-nor green on the cheek,-nor blue on either. As to harmony, or composition of tints, again, of which we hear so much in the language of painters, we have sometimes been inclined to doubt a little whether it means any thing, when used without reference to the practical difficulties of the art, but the natural or common appearance of coloured objeets, seen through the same atmosphere; or, if it be a source of pleasure, we are sure it is a very trifling pleasure, and scarcely deserving of the name of beauty. Suppose all the colours in nature disposed on a broad pannel, according to the nicest rules of this supposed harmony, and in lines as beautifully waving as any artist can devise, is there any grown creature that would call the display beautiful, or condescend to look twice at it? We do not entirely deny, ihat there is a certain natural beauty or fitness in the combination of whai have been called the accidental or complementary colours; but we maintain that it is so extremely slight and insignificant as scarcely to meril allenlion.

With regard, again, to the effect of broken masses of light and shadow, it is proper, in the first place, lo remember, that by the eye we see colour only; and that lights and shadows, as far as the mere organ is concerned, mean nothing but variations of tint. It is very true, no doubt, that we soon learn to refer many of those variations to light and shade, and that they thus become signs to us of depth, and distance, and relief. But is not this, of itsell, softicient to refute the idea of their affording any primitive or organic pleasure? In so far as they are mere variations of tint, they may be imitated by unmeaning daubs of paint on a palette ;-in so far as they are signs, it is to the mind that they address themselves, and not to the organ. They are signs, too, it should be recollected, and the only signs we have, by which we can receive any correct knowledge of the existence and condition of all external objects at a distance from us, whether interesting or not interesting. Without the assistance of variety of tint, and of lights and shadows, we could never distinguish one object from another, except by the touch. These appearances, therefore, are the perpetual vehicles of almost all our interesting perceptions; and are, consequently, associated with all the emotions wo receive from visible objects. It is pleasant to see many things in one prospect, because some of them are probably agreeable; and it is pleasant to know the condition of those things, because the qualities or associations, by means of which they interest us, generally depend upon that knowledge. The mixture of colours and shades, however, is necessary to this enjoyment, and consequently is a sign of it, and a source of associated interest or beauty.

Mr. Knight, however, goes much farther than this, and maintains, that the beauty which is so distinctly felt in many pictures of objects in themselves disagreeable, is to be ascribed entirely to the effect of the brilliant and harmonious tints, and the masses of light and shadow that may be employed in the representation. The filthy and lattered rags of a beggar, he observes, and the putrefying contenls of a dunghill, may form beautiful objects in a picture; because, considered as mere objects of sight, they may often present beautiful effects of colouring and shadow; and these are preserved or heightened in the imitation, disjoined from all their offensive accompaniments. Now, if the tints and shades were the exclusive sources of our gratification, and if this gratification was diminished, instead of being heightened, by the suggestion which, however transiently, must still intrude ilself, that they appeared in an imitation of disgusting objects, it must certainly follow, that the pleasure and the beauty would be much enhanced, if there was no imitation of any thing, and if the canvass merely presented the tints and shades, unaccompanied with the representation of any particular object. Again, if it were really possible for any one, but a student of art, to confine the attention to the mere colouring and shadowing of any picture, there is nothing so disgusting but what might form the subject of a beautiful imitation. A piece of putrid veal, or a cancerous ulcer, or the rags that are taken from it, may display the most brilliant lints, and the finest distribution of light and shadow. Does Mr. Knight, however, seriously think that either of these experiments would succeed? Or are there, in reality, no other qualities in the pictures in question to which their beauty can be ascribed but the organic effects of their colours? We humbly conceive that there are ; and that far less ingenuity than his might have been able to detect them.

There is, in the first place, the pleasing association of the skill and power of the artist, - a skill and power which we know may be employed to produce unmingled delight, whatever may be the character of the particular effort before us. But, in the second place, we do conceive that there are many interesting associations connected with the subjects which have been represented as purely disgusting. The aspect of human wretchedness and decay is not, at all events, an indifferent spectacle; and, if presented to us without actual offence to our senses, or any call on our active beneficence, may excite a sympathetic emotion, which is known to be far from undelightful. Many an attractive poem has been written on the miseries of beggars; and why should painting be supposed more fastidious ? Besides, it will be observed, that the beggars of the painter are generally among the most interesting of that interesting order ; - either young and lovely children, whose health and gaiety, and sweet expression, form an affecting contrast with their squalid garments, and the neglect and misery to which they seem to be destined, -or old and venerable persons, mingling something of the dignity and reverence of age with the broken spirit of their condition, and seeming to reproach mankind for exposing heads so old and white to the pelling of the pitiless storm. While such pictures suggest images so pathetic, it looks almost like a wilful perversity lo ascribe their beauty entirely to the mixture of colours which they display, and to the forgetfulness of these images. Even for the dunghill, we think it is possible to say something,

though, we confess, we have never happened to see any picture of which that useful compound formed the peculiar subject. There is the display of the painter's art and power here also; and the dunghill is not only useful, but is associated with many pleasing images of rustic toil and occupation, and of the simplicity, and comfort, and innocence of agricultural life. We do not know that a dunghill is at all a disagreeable object to look at, even in plain reality; provided it be so far off as not to annoy us with its odour, or to so us with its effusions. In a picture, however, we are safe from any of these disasters; and considering that it is usually combined, in such delineations, with other more pleasing and touching remembrancers of humble happiness and contentment, we really do not see that it was at all necessary to impute any mysterious or intrinsic beauty to its complexion, in order to account for the satisfaction with which we can then bear to behold it.

Having said so much with a view to reduce to its just value, as an ingredient of beauty, the mere organical delight which the eye is supposed to derive from colours we shall leave our readers to apply the same principles to the alleged beauty of sounds that are supposed to be insignificant. In this case, it is indeed much clearer that there is such an organical delight, and that it constitutes a larger share of the beauty of sounds, than tipts and shadows do of the beauty of visible objects : but all that rises to the dignity of an emotion is the gift of association here also-of association with the passionate tones of the human voice—with the scenes to which the beautiful sounds are appropriate-with the poetry to which they have been married-the purposes to which they are devoted, or the mere skill and genius of the artist by whom they have been arranged.

Such is a very hasty and imperfect sketch of the theory unfolded in the volumes before us, with singular beauty of language, and copiousness of illustration. After all we have said, we are aware that to some it may appear strained and fantastical, and to others trite and unprofitable. To the infidels of the former class, we can only recommend the diligent perusal of Mr. Alison's whole work; to the scoffers of the second, we must beg leave to state one or two of the beneficial results of this theory, which we humbly conceive to be of some little importance, and to have escaped the notice even of its ingenious inventor.

In the first place, then, we conceive, that it establishes the substantial identity of the sublime, the beautiful, and the picturesque ; and, consequently, pots an end to all controversy that is not purely verbal as to the diųerence of those several qualities. Every material object that interests us, without actually hurting or gratifying our bodily feelings, must do so, according to this theory, in one and the same manner; that is, by suggesting or recalling some emolion or affection of ourselves or some other sentient being, and presenting, lo our imagination at least, some natural object of love, pily, admiration, or awe. The interest of material objects, therefore, is always the same, and arises in every case, not from any physical qualities they may possess, but from their association with some idea of emotion. But, though material objects have but one means of exciting emotion, the emotions they do excite are infinite. They are mirrors that may reflect all shades and colours; and, in point of fact, do seldom reflect the same hues twice. No two interesting objects, perhaps, whether known by the name of beautiful, sublime, or picturesque, ever produced exactly the same emotion in the beholder; and no one object, it is most probable, ever moved any two persons to the very same conceptions. As they may be associated with all the feels


ings and affections of which the human mind is susceptible, so they may suggest those feelings in all their variety, and, in fact, do daily excite all sorts of emotions—running through every gradation, from extreme gaiety and elevation, to the borders of horror and disgust.

Now, it is certainly true, that all the variety of emotions raised in this way, on the single basis of associatior, may be classed, in a rude way, under the denomination of sublime, beautiful, and picturesque, according as they partake of awe, kindness, or admiration; and we have no other objection to this nomenclature, except its extreme imperfection, and the delusions to which we know that it has given occasion. If objects that interest by their association with ideas of power, and danger, and terror, are to be distinguished by the peculiar name of sublime, why should there not be a separate name also for objects that interest by associations of mirth and gaiety,another for those that please by suggestions of softness and melancholy,another for such as are connected with impressions of comfort and tranquillity,—and another and another for those that are related to pity, and admiration, and love, and regret, and all the other distinct emotions and affections of our nature? These are not in reality less distinguishable from each other than from the emotions of awe and veneration that confer the title of sublime on their representatives; and while these are all confounded under the comprehensive appellation of beauty, the distinction is only apt to mislead us into an erroneous opinion of our accuracy, and to make us believe, both that there is a greater conformity among the things that pass under the same name, and a greater difference between those that pass under different names, than is really the case. We have seen already, that the radical error of almost all preceding enquirers has lain in supposing that every thing that passed under the name of beautiful must have some quality in common with every thing else that obtained that name; and it is scarcely necessary for us to observe, that it has been almost as general an opinion, that sublimity was not only something radically different from beauty, but actually opposite to it; whereas, the fact is, that it is far more nearly related to some sorts of beauly than many sorts of beauty are to each other; and that both are founded exactly upon the same principle of suggesting some past or possible emotion of some sentient being.

We cannot leave this subject of sublimity, however, without alluding in one word to a very common, though, we confess, to us a very unaccountable oversight into which almost all writers have fallen,-and to very useless controversy that has been consequently raised with regard to it. Mr. Burke, and several other authors, looking to the most common and powerful operation of sublimity, have described it as having its foundation in terror —and beingp roduced exclusively by the suggestions of danger or suffering. Mr. Knight, on the other hand, has contended, with no little warmth, that it originates in the conception of power; and consists altogether in that sympathetic elevation of spirit which is produced by the contemplation of great might and energy, and that there is nothing so contrary or opposite to this ennobling and lofty sentiment as the degrading passion of fear. Now, men of common sense—to say nothing of men of genius—can scarcely ever be ulterly in the wrong, we conceive, as to matters of common experience"; and can hardly contradict each other directly, except by looking each upon a dillerent side of the subject. The truth is accordingly, we apprehend, that both these views are to a certain extent just ; and that both authors are wrong, in overlooking what had attracted the exclusive attention of their op


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