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more effectual manner the applause and admiration of a grateful people, than those splendid memorials of sculpture which have been devoted to their memory."
Mr. Roscoe then proceeds to make some remarks on the studies of literature, as distinguished from the arts and sciences; but as some of his observations apply, with the same force, equally to the three branches of knowledge, when cultivated as the objects of education, refinement, or amusement, we cannot forbear to insert them.
"The delight and instruction which the studies of literature communicate, the perpetual charm which they throw over our hours of leisure, the resources which they afford against indolence and languor, and the strong barrier which they form against vicious and degrading pursuits, will be universally acknowledged; but in what manner they contribute to the prosperity of the community, will not be as easily perceived. But even their direct influence is not inconsiderable. It is scarcely necessary to recur to former times, and other countries, for proofs of the importance of this art in a pecuniary and commercial point of view. Such has been the progress of knowledge and taste in this country, that in order to supply the avidity of the public, immense establishments and manufactories are required, and the commerce of the country greatly promoted.
"Other branches of study have their peculiar objects of enquiry; but those of literature are unlimited and universal, and may be considered as the support, the nurse, and guardian of the rest. Whether the discoveries of science are to be explained and recorded, whether the principles of the fine arts are to be illustrated, whether the rules and institutions of society itself are to be demonstrated and defined, it is she who is entrusted with this important office.
"In thus attempting (continues Mr. Roscoe) to vindicate the studies of literature, and the cultivation of the fine arts, and chiefly on the principle of utility, I am not insensible that I may be supposed to be indifferent or adverse to the opinions of those who have defended them on other grounds. There are many persons who contend their object is to please, and
who attribute the enjoyment we derive from the bounty of the Creator, who, throughout the whole of his works, has shown, that an attention to order, to elegance, and to beauty, corresponding to certain fixed principles in our constitution, forms a part of his great and beneficent plan; but I conceive, in this instance, there is no necessity for our separating the ideas of utility and of pleasure, and of relying for our justification on one of them only. The gifts of the Creator are full-handed; nor has he always placed it in our power to accept of that which is indispensibly necessary, without, at the same time, compelling us to accept of the pleasure that accompanies it.
"With regard to taste and science, as well as in other respects, mankind are the architects of their own fortunes. Experience demonstrates, that it is to the influence of moral causes, to those dispositions and arrangements in the affairs of mankind, that are peculiarly within our own power, that we are to seek for the reasons of the progress and decline of the liberal studies. It is to the establishment of national liberty, to the continuance of public tranquillity, to successful industry and national prosperity, and the wish to pay honour to genius and talent, that we are certainly to refer the improvements that take place."
We have to apologize to Mr. Roscoe, and our readers, for having mutilated this Discourse. The limits of our Journal compelled us to commit this injustice; but we were anxious to avail ourselves of his authority to sanction the principles, upon which we generally concur, that literature, the sciences, and the arts, must depend for their advancement; and, we feel confident, disfigured as they are by us, they will still amply contribute to serve the purpose for which we intend them.
It is usual, in considering literature, the sciences, and the arts, to treat each of these general terms, as comprehending within its meaning, exclusively of the rest, some defined objects of our knowledge or research: but, in attempting to arrange the various branches of human information under such separate heads, we shall find that art is frequently a science,
and that literature sometimes comprizes an art. To make this distinction is of little importance, when it refers to their improvement or progress, which must, in all of them, depend on the same general principles of encouragement, and be impeded by the same obstructions; but when, as we have often found, literature, the arts, and the sciences, are contending, amongst themselves, under these general descriptions, for a priority of merit, in contributing to the happiness of individuals and the prosperity of states, it would be necessary to settle with some accuracy the several departments of knowledge that each includes, before the question can be decided.
We do not, however, feel it essential to our present views, to enter on this criticism. We admit the importance of all; but think that each subordinate branch, without any reference to the general term under which it may be distributed, is best disposed in the scale of excellence by its obvious and immediate consequences, as well as by its real power, in conferring benefits on mankind. Such as operate only, indirectly, or remotely, are subject to such interruption in their effects from the fluctuation of human affairs, and to such discussion as to their tendency, that it appears more suitable to the range of our intellects to decide their comparative value, by means the least liable to dispute.
Painting, sculpture, and music, are arts whose effects frequently and impressively attract our attention; they are the objects of request of the rich and the refined; of persons who command the taste and influence the opinions of a nation, and for these reasons appear to have obtained formerly a greater preference of protection than to us they appear to merit. Although of the two former, the one has the advantage of being connected with drawing and the other with architecture, we can yet conceive that social order might have made great strides towards perfection, without a profound acquaintance with their principles, or much dexterity in their practice: they are more to be regarded as the offspring of established security, as fostered by opulence, and as ministering to our amusements, than as composing part of the cement and materials to which the edifice of society is indebted for its solidity or comfort. Poetry
is in our estimation entitled to the same rank, and were it not for the transcendent merit of the Iliad, written at a period when society must have been imperfectly constituted, would appear, in its improved state, to exhibit at all times the indications of wealth and refinement in pursuit of pleasure; that it has flourished without this protection, may in some measure be accounted for from its independence of other arts and sciences. Poetry is in general a representation of the scenes of nature, of the effects of the conflicting passions of makind, and of the various events which must at all times agitate and convulse our species; it selects or combines the most prominent beauties of the creation, or paints the images that most interest our sympathies and feelings; but as these objects are, either by observation or tradition, always present to our senses, it requires little more than that nature should furnish the genius endowed with powers to collect and describe them in the most impressive form. No other art is equally exempt from the restraints imposed by the ignorance of individuals and the barbarity of governments, or requires less assistance from the sciences to afford distinction.
If it were true that painting, sculpture, and poetry were of the importance sometimes ascribed to them, their effects on the welfare of mankind, might be expected to increase in proportion as they advanced towards perfection. Mr. Roscoe thinks they have not reached the utmost verge of excellence, that we have still much to hope and attain. To determine however this point, we must have some standard admitted to be just, some uncontroverted principles or axioms with which we can compare, or by which we can measure our progress. Taste is too indefinite for the purpose, it is claimed equally by persons who hold the most discordant opinions on the point, whose repugnant pretensions are maintained by the most opposite examples; it is incapable of being transmitted by very accurate rules or description, and in practice frequently appears a term convertible with that of fancy. A writer,* eminent for his genius and critical abilities, has said of the poetry of Pope, "that new sentiments or new images others
Johnson-Lives of the Poets.
may produce, but to attempt any further improvements on versification would be dangerous. Art and diligence have done their best, and what shall be added will be the effort of tedious toil." Within a few years after this decree was pronounced, the authors of a Review, whose merit in general cannot be too highly estimated, contended that the modern style of poetry was to be preferred, and that the celebrity of those whose claims to eminence seemed built on the most secure foundations, was already on the decline. We hope we shall not be misunderstood. We do not mean to say that there is not an immense interval between the compositions of Rafael and Correggio and a head on a sign-post, between the versification of Pope and that of Sternhold and Hopkins, the music of Mozart and the tune of a bagpipe, between the rudiments of an art and its matured state, that must strike the most uninformed observer-but inasmuch as this supposed increasing excellence is not attended with, a definite or immediate corresponding advantage to the interests of mankind, we lose one unerring test by which its progressive improvement may be tried. It is sufficient to have been but little conversant with the professors of these arts, to find that their principles of taste become wavering and unstable at the touch of examination; and that they owe some part of their merit to the magical illusions with which genius is generally able to dazzle our understandings.
But far different is the case with chemistry, astronomy, mechanics, or mathematics. In them scarce any discovery is made, scarce any improvement is suggested, but it becomes converted to the use of mankind. As chemistry reduces substances to their elements or combines them in new modes, they assist in medicine, in manufactures, and in all the operations by which the calamities incident to our nature are alleviated or subdued. Astronomy assists to facilitate navigation, and open new roads to commerce. They leave no room to conjecture as to their merits, or any hesitation as to their