You are on page 1of 1


BOOK lit.
Sect. I.
2192. The existence of architecture as a fine art is dependent on expression, or tlie
faculty of representing, by means of lines, words, or other media, the inventions which the
architect conceives suitable to the end proposed. That end is twofold
; to l)e useful, and
to connect the use with a pleasurable sensation in the spectator of the invention. In
clociuence and poetry the end is to instruct, and such is the object of the higher and histo-
rical classes of painting ; but architecture, though the elder of the arts, cannot claim the
rank due to painting and poetry, albeit its end is so much more useful and necessary to
mankind. In the sciences the end is utility and instruction, but in them the latter is not
of that high moral importance, however useful, which allows them for a moment to come
into competition with the great arts of painting, poetry, and elocjuence. It will be seen
that we here make no allusion to the lower branches of portrait and landscape painting,
but to that great moral and religious end which fired the mind of Michael Angelo in the
Sistine Chapel, and of Raffaelle Sanzio in the Stanze of the Vatican and in the Cartoons.
Above the lower branches of painting just mentioned, the art whereof we treat occupies
an exalted station. In it though the chief end is to produce an useful result, yet the ex-
pression on which it depends, in common with the other great arts, brings each within the
scope of those laws which govern generally the fine arts whose object is beauty. Beauty,
whatever difference of oj)inion may exist on the means necessary to produce it, is by all
admitted to be the result of every perfection whereof an object is susceptible, such perfec-
tions being altogether dependent on the agreeable proportions subsistent between the
several parts, and those between the several parts and the whole. The power or faculty of
inventing is called genius. By it the mind is capable of conceiving and of expressing its
conceptions. Taste, which is capable of being acquired, is the natural sensation of a mind
refined by art. It guides genius in discerning, embracing, and producing beauty. Here
we may for a moment pause to inquire what may be considered a standard of taste, and
that cannot be better done than in the words used on the subject by Hume (Essay xxiii. ):
The great variety of tastes," says that author,
as well as of opinion, which prevails in the
world, is too obvious not to have fallen under every one's observation. Men of the most
confined knowledge are able to remark a difference of taste in the narrow circle of their
acquaintance, even where the persons have been educated under the same government and
have early imbibed the same prejudices. But those who can enlarge their view to con-
template distant nations and remote ages are still more surprised at the great inconsistence
and contrariety. We are apt to call barbarous whatever departs widely fiom our own
taste and apprehension, but soon find the epithet of reproach retorted on us, and the
highest arrogance and self-conceit is at last startled on observing an e(jual assurance on all
sides, and scruples, amidst such a contest of sentiment, to pronounce positively in its own
favour." True as are the observations of this philosopher in respect of a standard of taste,
we shall nevertheless attempt to guide the reader to some notion of a standard of taste in
249:5. There has lately grown into use in the arts a silly pedantic term under the name of
Esthetics, founded on the Greek word 'AiffSrjri/cbs, one which means having the power of
perception by means of the senses; said to be the science whereby the first principles in all'
the arts are derived, from the effect which certain combinations have on the mind as con
nccted with nature and reason : it is, however, one of the metaphysical and useless additions