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and the vanity of wealth; and so, likewise, were the monsters Marat and Robespierre Of Imagina but all equally sacrificed every generous and finer feeling of humanity, which none are naturally without, to an abstract principle or opinion; which, by narrowing their understandings, hardened their hearts, and left them under the unrestrained guidance of all the atrocious and sanguinary passions, which party violence could stimulate or excite.

113. This will always be the effect of such principles or opinions, whatever they are; whether true or false; whether mild or severe*; provided they are embraced with a degree of eagerness and avidity sufficient to give men confidence in their infallibility, and make them supersede the feelings of nature. To enforce the doctrines of a religion, which prohibits violence and bloodshed in every case, even that of self-defence, more violence has been exercised, more blood shed, and more cruel tortures inflicted, than in any other dispute or quarrel, that ever was engendered by the turbulent and unruly passions of men; and whether the point at issue be a dogma of religion, an axiom of philosophy, or a maxim of

* "Neque enim multum interesse putamus ad hominum fortunas, quales quis opiniones abstractas de natura et rerum principiis habeat."

VERULAM. Nov. Org. Scient. 1. i. cxvį.


Of Imagina


politics, its effects will be the same, provided it has sufficient influence to enslave the natural affections of the soul, and induce men to prefer a theorem of the head to a sentiment of the heart.

114. Had Lord Bacon seen such events, as have lately happened, he would not have said that atheism did never perturb states*: for if men once unite to maintain systematically that there are many Gods, one God, or no God, the moral effects will be exactly the same: the dogma instantly becomes the rallying point of a sect or faction; and all the selfish, violent, and atrocious passions are collected into its vortex. It is true, that a negative dogma is less likely, than an affirmative one, to engage such passions t; because it is less flattering to that opinionative pride and presumption, which is necessary to give them vigour and energy sufficient for any great exertions: but, nevertheless, that it may become the rallying point of a faction, and be a motive for very bloody persecution, we have had abundant proof. If men can once suppose an opinion to be infallibly certain, they will feel an inclination to propagate it; and

* Essays, 18.

"Is humano intellectui error est proprius et perpetuus, ut magis moveatur et excitetur affirmativis quem negativis."-VERULAM. in Nov. Org. Scient. lib. i. xlvi.




consequently square their morality to that inclination; which will lead them to employ of Imaginaforce, if persuasion do not prevail. Truth, they say, is the foundation of áll virtue; and truth is, to every man, that which he himself thinks *.

115. Rules and systems have exactly the same influence upon taste and manners, as dogmas have upon morals. If a person be polite by rule; how just soever his rules may be, or with whatever strictness and exactitude he inay observe them, his behaviour will be constrained and formal; and void of all that graceful ease, and ready adaptation to every varying shade of circumstance and situation, which constitute what is called good breeding; and which can only proceed from a just and discriminating tact, cultivated and refined by habitual exercise. Persons, who attempt to display their taste and talents in art or literature by rule, always err in exactly the same manner. Their rules and systems can never reach every possible case; and, even if they could, the very act of applying them would distract the attention from the sentiment excited; and, consequently, prevent or destroy all just feeling, by making

Quod enim mavult homo verum esse, id potius credit." Ibid. xlix.


Of Imagination.

them hesitate and doubt whether they ought to feel or not, till they had tried their sentiments by the standard of their opinions: but sentiment, that is checked or impeded, is at the same time enfeebled; and thus, though rules and theories may prevent those, who have no just feeling or natural tact, from judging totally wrong, they in an equal degree, prevent those who have, from judging entirely right.

116. More than a century has now elapsed, since the taste and magnificence of the principal sovereigns of Europe first formed academies in their respective kingdoms, for the study of the arts of painting, sculpture, &c.; in which professors of all the different sciences, connected with those arts, were appointed, models provided, and such of the students, as seemed to make the greatest progress, and possess the most promising talents, sent to travel at the expence of the institution, that they might profit by a comparative view of the different styles and manners of all the different schools, and acquire all the information, which the remains of antiquity, and the most perfect works of their predecessors in the respective arts, could afford. Under the fostering influence of institutions so favourable, it might naturally be supposed that these arts must have been ever since in a progressive state of im

provement; and, considering the high degree




of excellence, from which that of painting of Imaginastarted, that it must now be little short of abstract perfection. This is, however, so far from being the case, that not one of these academies has yet produced an artist, whom public opinion has ranked among painters*. Heaven

* The candid reader will observe that I am speaking only of the regular students of academies, and not of those who have incidentally belonged to them.

The most complete establishment of the kind, that has ever existed, is the French academy: but though France produced several great painters before its institution, it has not produced one since. Generations of academicians have arisen and passed away one after the other, each the pride and wonder of their day; but we look in vain for a Poussin, a Le Sueur, or Bourdon among them.

Happily our own academy has hitherto escaped the contagion of system; and every artist taken up a style of his own, suited to his taste or talents; so that an English exhibition displays more variety than all those on the continent together. By thus continuing to apply the principles of British liberty to British art, we may reasonably hope to reach a degree of excellence in painting, which has never yet been attained: for painting, in modern Europe, has never approached that state of abstract perfection, which we admire in the sculpture of ancient Greece; and there can be no reason in the nature of things why it should not attain it.

The system of all the foreign academies, whose productions I have seen, is not only one, but a very bad one; so that, as Mr. Hopner has observed, they are not only nat approaching the excellence of the great painters of Italy and Flanders, but going in a road which leads di rectly from it.


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