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cilians found its way to his coffers, and their grain, whilst they were
The taste for gladiatorial murder, prevalent in Rome for centuries, and
ESSAY, TREATISE, TRACT, THESIS
An Essay, literally means nothing more than a trial. or an attempt. It is sometimes used to designate in a specific po4n.
ner an author's attempt to illustrate any point. It is com. monly applied to small detached pieces, which contain only the general thoughts of a writer on any given subject, and afford room for amplification into details. Some authors modestly used the term for their connected and finished endeavours to elucidate a doctrine.*
A. Treatise † is more systematic than an Essay. It treats on the subject in a methodical form, and conveys the idea of something labored, scientific, and instructive.
A Tract t is only. a species of small treatise, drawn up upon particular occasions, and published in a separate förm.
A Thesis is a position or proposition which a person ad vances, and offers to maintain, or which is actually maintained by argument.
Essays are either moral, political, philosophical, or literary; they are the crude attempts of the youth to digest his own thoughts, or they are the more mature attempts of the man to communicate his thoughts to others. Of the former description are prize Essays in schools, and of the latter are the Essays innumerable which have been published on every subject since the days of Bacon.
Treatises are mostly written on ethical, political, or speculative subjects, such as Fenelon's, Milton's, or Locke's “ Treatise on Education," De Lolme's “ Treatise on the Constitution of England."
Tracts are ephemeral productions, mostly on political and religious subjects, which seldom survive the occasion which gave them birth. Of this description are the pamphlets which daily issue from the press for or against the measures of government, or the public measures of any par
The Essay is the most popular mode of writing; it suits the writer who has not talent or inclination to pursue his inquiries farther, and it suits the generality of readers, who are amused with variety and superficiality. The Treatise is adapted for the student, who will not be contented with the superficial Essay, when more an ple materials are within his reach.
The Tract is formed for the political or religious partisan, and receives its interest from the occurrence of the motive. The Dissertation interests the disputant. (See Dissertation, page 334.)
* See Locke's “ Essay on the Understanding," and Beattie's “Essay on Truth."
| Treatise and Tract have both the same derivation, from the Latin traho to draw, manage, or handle and its participle, tractus
Examnle 1st of an Essay.
The developement of ninā, the exertions of talent, the labors of industry, are all subjects intimately interwoven with the moral character of a rational and accountable being. It is a curious and interesting investigation to trace the history of man, as he emerges from a state of nature, and passes through the successive gradations, from mere animal existence, to a state of refined civilization and moral culture. And it is equally delightful to the man of letters, to behold the effects of learning in its various stages, in amending the inward state of mankind, as the refinements of luxury add to their external convenience.
It is a common remark with the historian, that the discovery of the use of iron is the first step from savage to civilized life. The remark is just, but must be received in a limited sense; for there is an internal as well as external history; a history of mind as well as of matter; an intellectual civilization distinct from the history of nations, and independent of the combinations of beauty of figure and of color. What iron is to the animal nature of man, literature is to his intellectual condition. The former supplies him with the means of defence, enables him to overcome the debility of his organic powers, and endues him with factitious strength, as useful as that which nature has conferred. The latter preserves the acquisitions of the former, guides its operations, concentrates its usefulness, and enables him to avail himself of the achievements of genius struggling with the inertness of matter, or fettered by the restrictions of ignorance and barbarity. The history of literature is the history of the noblest powers of man. There is a sameness in savage life, which affords but little interest to speculation; and confines the investigations of the philosopher and man of observation within narrow limits. The scope of his abilities is narrow and contracted. The construction of rude implements, the provision of the necessaries of life, the strifes, collisions, and bitter feuds of hostile and ambitious chiefs, deficient in interest, because deficient in incidents;
the simple tales of love or the sombre stories of licentiousness, these form the material of the history of nations, upon whom science has never beamed, vor literature shed its renovating rays. In the relation of these incidents. there is no history of mind, no account of the progress of intellect, further than what is observed in the ingenuity of mechanical contrivance, limited by the ignorance of the properties of things. But the invention of letters, preceded by the mysticism of hieroglyphic symbols, gave a new face to the world; enlarged the subjects of knowledge, and changed man from a mere animal to an intellectual being. The history of literature, from the invention of letters to the present day, involves all that is interesting in the history of man. To what purpose would the divine gifts of speech and reason have been conferred, unless the monuments of their achievements should have more stability than could exist as they float on the recollections of a single generation. The animal nature of man might, so far as posterity is concerned, be considered the nobler because the more permanent part of his being. The structures which his hands have reared, though still amenable to the laws of decay, would survive the shocks of ages, while no monument would exist of his immortal spirit; no recollec. tion remain of that which distinguishes him from the inferior order « beings. Age would succeed to age without witnessing any accession is the fields of knowledge. Traditionary lore, like the rays of light, wou! vary in its import as it passed from hand to hand, and one generation could not be enriched by the acquisitions of its predecessor. But the invention of letters has established a chancery by which the acquisitions of one age have been handed down as a rich inheritance to its successor; while the later age, like the posterity of an ancient family, has revelled in he riches entailed by its ancestors. Such are the effects of literature, considered only as it enlarges the fields of knowledge, and gives a wider range to the exercise of the intellectual faculties.
But there is another and a more interesting, because more important, view to be taken of its influence, as it operates on the moral nature of mankind. In the construction of implements of defence, in the arrangement of architectural convenience, in the pursuit of the objects of sense, man is superior to some species of the brute creation, only as his corporeal powers are better adapted to mechanical exertion. The bee, the beaver, the ant, and other inferior orders, rival the most successful efforts of man in the construction of a habitation adapted to the respective exigencies of each. But they operate by instinct, - his labors are the suggestions of necessity in conference with inventive powers; and it is a curious investigation to trace the gradations from destitution to comfort, from comfort to convenience, and
from convenience to ease, and, in its proper connexion the moral influence of each upon the character of mankind. There it will be found that the vaunted nobleness of savage nature, the magnanimity ascribed by some even of the present day, to the uncnltivated states of society, are but the chimeras of prejudice, or at least but erroneous deductions from solitary examples. The history of literature, will abun. dantly show that such instances are but the taper in the dungeon, which appears the brighter from the darkness by which it is surrounded; while in the improved forms of life, in those ages when the brightness of learning has dispelled the clouds in the minds of men, and day has dawned upon the eyes of the aspen flame is eclipsed by brighter light, and is unnoticed, because it is unfavored by the advantages of contrast.
Laws owe their permanency to their consistency; and their consistency is mainly to be attributed to a wise consideration of the exigencies of society, deduced from the operations of cause and effect upon the human mind. When history, therefore, is silent, their deductions must be made from a limited view of society; and, like all conclusions drawn from various views, are likely to be erroneous. It is letters which give a tongue to history, and provide it with a distinct utterance. It is letters which make the past à monitor to the present, and the present a guide to the future.
The view which we have thus taken of literature is narrow and circumscribed. Indeed, the subject is as exhaustless as its objects are innumer. able. He must be dead to the most refined pleasures of which his nature is susceptible, who is deaf to the claims of literature to his attention, or is blind to the importance and value of learning
Example 2d of an Essay. The Pleasure derived from the Fine Arts, by the Artist and Common Spectator.
The pleasure derived from the Fine Arts is doubtless proportioned to our capacity of appreciating them ; for they address themselves chiefly to the imagination and the sensibility. The mere pleasures of sense every man may feel; but those derived from intellect and sentiment are more limited, and of a higher order. Hence it is, that the artist feasts on his selfcreated treasures, and lives on fancy's imagery, whilst the hieroglyphical daub of a sign-painter would be more attractive to the common spectator than the hues of Titian, or the bold master-strokes of a Michael Angelo. Taste is a sentiment of the soul. It is a keen perception of the sublime and beautiful in art and nature. United with genius, it even creates to itself images surpassing human excellence; objects which exist, perhaps, but in the painter's and poet's vision. Guido coveted the wings of an angel, that he might behold the beatified spirits of paradise, and thereby form an archangel such as his imagination was obliged to substitute. How sublime must have been the vision which gave the object his imagination sought for! How intense the feeling which thus transported him from earth to heaven !
To express the passions by outward signs is the artist's aim ; and we may add, his envied privilege. What delight to see the cold and gloomy canvas expand with life; the dull void banished by the melting eye, the graceful form, the persuasive suppliant, the conquering hero! Every touch adds something to the soul's expression, till the enraptured painter yields himself up to the delightful contemplation of his new creation. “I, too, am a painter,” exclaimed Correggio, with involuntary transport, while contemplating a work of the divine Raphael ; “I, too, am a painter.” Such was the enraptured feeling which would otherwise, have been chilled by the cold pressure of his wants and poverty.
To common observers, the most beautiful painting may seem but an assemblage of forms, and the most exquisite
poem but doggerel rhyme. The higher efforts of art produce but little effect on uncultivated minds. It is (as Sir Joshua Reynolds observes) only the lowest style of arts, whether of painting, poetry, or music, that may be said, in the vulgar sense, to be naturally pleasing. Taste, and a just discrimination, are the results of education. The concertos of Steibell and Clementi would be jargon to the ear accustomed only to the monotonous tones of " Hob or Nob," and " Yankee Doodle,” nor would the admirer of “ Punchinello,". or “ Jack the Giant Killer," be enraptured with the grace and dignity of an Apollo Belvidere, or a Venus de Medicis.
That a susceptibility and love of the sublime and beautiful are a source of happiness, who can doubt, that has seen the “Aurora” of Guido? How rich, how sublime the fancy, which could produce so enchanting an assemblage of all that is graceful and lovely! and how animated, how en. rapture1, the feelings of him whom a refined taste renders capable of ap preciating them! Dupaty's soul melted at the view of Raphael's “Incendia del Borgo.” He saw not, in that moment of enraptured feeling, a pictured flame, but the devouring element, raging, enveloping, and consuming the belpless and despairing multitude. To look on such a production with total indifference is impossible. Apelles's critic was a competens judge