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In which it is considered, how far the favourable Aspect of Wealth on the liberal Arts and. Sciences, may be urged in Abatement of what has been advanced in the last Section.
It may probably here be alleged, that it is hardly fair to insist on the allowed tendency of wealth to produce pride, dissipation, and sensual indulgence, with an inT numerable train of low and vicious arts; and not to consider, on the other side, its happier tendency to promote those more liberal arts and sciences, which refine the taste, enlarge the understanding, and improve the moral character. Let us then enquire, for a moment, into the force of this allegation.
That the fine arts cannot flourish without the fostering hand of riphes is granted. Men, till they are provided with the neces
are not disposed to look out for its elegances; and what meets with little encouragement can make but little progress. No great artist was ever produced among a horde of savages, nor during that first period of a community when it Was struggling for establishment. .« .. - .
It is true also, that, by cultivating the arts in question, a just and quick perception of natural fitness and proportion, of harmony and beauty, is formed; nor can it be denied, that natural excellence bears some analogy to moral, and will suggest it to a mind duly disposed; or, if you please, that they are species under the same genus of OrDer*; the one consisting in a just arrangement and harmony of lines and figures, the other of human dispositions and actions. But then, let it be remembered, that these are species so remote from each other, that men the most exquisitely alive to artificial and natural beauty, are often insensible to the charms of true virtue, which, if rightly
* "Definitio brevis ct vera yirtutis, ordo est amori's." discerned, would, according to a sentiment of Plato, kindle in the soul an incredible delight and admiration.
Of this little sympathy which subsists between virtue and the fine arts, we have a striking example in the ancient Greeks, who, at the very period when they were most highly distinguished for the latter, are known to have been so entirely lost to a just moral sense, as to expose their children, lend out their wives, and to indulge unnatural lusts; and at Corinth, in particular, a temple is said to have been erected to Venus, with more than a thousand courtezans there devoted to her service*. Which shows that the corruption of their morals kept at least equal pace with their polite accomplishments; and that virtue and the fine arts are not so closely allied as some would fondly imagine f.
* "Dans aucune villc on ne porta si loin les ouvrages de Part.—Elle erigea un temple a Venus, ou plus de mille courtesanes furent consacrees."
Montesq^ Esp. des loix. Liv. xxi. ch. 7.
t Thus Lord Shaftesbury speaks of the Arts and
It is not however to be denied, that a good may be a great artist, and that his art may contribute to the promotion of virtue. He may teach the canvass or the marble to inspire just and noble sentiments, and by transmitting durable monuments to the honour of such who have deserved well of mankind, may excite posterity to a .laud-.
of Virtuosos, and of Virtue itself, as, in a manner, one and the same*." And Dr.Turnbull, in his Christian Philosophy, p. 175, tells us, "It might be shown that the taste of beauty in architecture and the other ingenious arts, is so analogous to, and connected with, a good taste of beauty and harmony in moral conduct, that if one who hath the former is irregular and dissolute in his morals, he must be so in downright contradiction to the sole principle upon which his delight in the ingenious arts and works of taste is founded." To these permit me to add another passage from Lord Kaimes to the same effect: "Thus," says he, "taste goes hand in hand with the moral sense in their progress towards maturity, and they ripen equally by the same sort of culture +" Such ideas of moral virtue may probably remind some of my readers of the story of the man who, being born blind, thought a scarlet colour was like the sound of a trumpet. • , * 't * ,
» See his Advice to an Author.
able emulation. All this is possible, and perhaps not without example.
. II. If the fine arts can only flourish in the advanced stages of society, the same must hold equally true of the sciences, which certainly stand no less in need of encouragement. We could no more reasonably expect to meet with an able mathematician or astronomer among the Hurons or the Iroquois, than with auexquisite painter or statuary.
And as the sciences are thus related to the fine arts in their origin, so they too much resemble them in their want of moral influence and effect, That they contribute to the wealth and aggrandisement, to extend the commerce, to augment the power, and spread far and wide the renown of a nation, cannot be disputed. But all this is extremely different from contributing to its moral prosperity, or to its virtue and virtuous enjoyments. To be convinced how little these important objects, without some great and previous change in the state of the world, are likely to be promoted by any