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A Comparative View of the State and Faculties of Man, with thefe
of the Animal World. 12mo. 3s. bound. Dodley.
H E following Discourses, (fays the Editor, in an AdverT:
tisement prefixed to them) were originally delivered in a private literary society, without the moft diftant view to theit publication. It must, in truth, be acknowledged that the Reader will find in them many hints thrown out on Subjects of confequence, which are not so fully and accurately profecuted as their importance requires; befides that the Sentiments are often expressed with a freedom, which, however allowable in a private company, may perhaps be deemed too bold when offered to the Public. All this the Author himself was fully sensible of, though he had neither leisure nor inclination to alter them.
• This little Work, however, notwithstanding its imperfe&ions, has, in the Editor's opinion, a very confiderable degree of merit; and in these fentiments he has the honour of being joined by several of the Author's friends of great distinction in the Republic of Letters. He has taken the liberty, therefore, of offering it to the Public, almoft without the Author's consent, though not without his knowledge : how far he has been his friend in so doing, that Public, to whose candor he fubmits it, muft determine.'
Such are the modest terms, in which the Editor speaks of a performance, which every man of tafte, will, we are persuaded, peruse with pleasure ; as it abounds with just remarks on many useful and entertaining subjects; while an original vein of thinking runs through the whole of it: and, what is very uncommon in original thinkers, the Author writes with temper and moderation. He appears to be well acquainted with human nature, to poflefs delicacy of sentiment, and sensibility of heart; and, what muft naturally procure him the esteem of every benevolent reader, to be a fincere friend to the highest and best interests of humanity.
He seis out with a fhorf account of the different and opposite views that have been given of human nature, of the manner in which enquiries into it have been prosecuted, of the peculiar difficulties attending the study, and the reasons why so little progress has been made in the knowledge of it. He then proceeds, in the remaining part of his first discourse, to make some obfervations on certain advantages which the lower Animals seem to poffefs above us, and to enquire more particularly into the comparative state of mankind and the inferior Animals. This part of the work contains some very useful remarks; the subject is carious and interesting, and we sincerely wilh the ingenious
1 Written by or Gregory of Abanden
Author had treated it at more length, as he seems well qualified for prosecuting such enquiries with fuccess,
In the four remaining discourses, he considers the uses that mankind make of those advantages which they posless above the rest of the animal creation, and which are principally derived from reason, the social principle, taste, and religion. He then proceeds to consider the effects which a superior underftanding has in promoting the happiness of the individual, and to point out some of the inconveniencies that attend it. The bulk of mankind, he obferves, look upon a person of diftinguished genius with that awe and distant regard that is inconsistent with confidence and friendship. They never unbofom themselves to one they are afraid of, nor lay open their weaknesses to one they think has none of his own. For this reason we commonly find men of genius have the greatest real affection and friendship for such as are very much their inferiors in point of understanding; good natured, unobserving people, with whom they can indulge all their peculiarities and weaknesses without reserve. Men of great abilities therefore, our Author says, who prefer the sweets of social life and private friend thip to the vanity of being admired, muft carefully conceal their fuperiority, and bring themselves down to the level of those they converse with. Neither must this seem to be the effect of a designed condescenfion; for this is still more mortifying to human pride than the other.
In regard to the social principle, he observes, that it does not appear to have any natural connexion with the understanding, that persons of the best understanding possess it frequently in a very inferior degree to the rest of mankind; and that the idle, the diffipated, and the debauched, draw most pleasure from it. Not only their pleasures but their vices are often of the social kind. This makes the social principle warm and vigorous, and hence perhaps there is more friendship among them than among men of any other class, though confidering the flightness of its foundation, such friendship cannot be supposed to be very lasting. Even drinking, our Author observes, is found favourable to friendship, especially in northern climates, where the affections are naturally cold; as it produces an artificial warmth of temper, apens and enlarges the heart, and dispels the reserve natural perhaps to wise men, but inconfiftent with friendship, which is entirely a connexion of the heart.
The advantages derived to mankind from taftc, by which, says our Author, is meant the improvement of the powers of the imar gination, are confined, he observes, to a very small number. The fervile condition of the bulk of mankind requires conftant labour for their daily subsistence. This of necessity deprives them of the means of improving the powers either of imagination or of reason, except in fo far as their particular employments make
such an improvement necessary. Yet there is great reason to think men of this class the happiest, at least such of them as* are raised above want. If they do not enjoy the pleasures arising from the proper culture of the higher powers of their nature, they are free from the misery confequent upon the abuse of these powers. They are likewise in full possession of one great source of human happiness, which is good health and good fpirits." Their spirits never languish for want of exercise, and therefore the tædium vite, the insupportable liftlessness arising from the want of an object, something to wish, or something to fear, is unknown among them.
Our Author goes on to observe, that the only powers of the mind, that have been much cultivated in this Inand, are those of the understanding. One unhappy confequence of this, he says, has been to dissolve the natural union between philosophy and me fine arts: an union extremely necessary to their improvement.The influence of music over the mind, he observes, is perhaps greater than that of any of the fine arts; and yet the effects produced by it are inconsiderable. This, we are told, is entirely owing to its being in the hands of practical Muficians, and not under the direction of taste and philofophy; for in order to give mufic any extensive influence over the mind, the composer and performer must be well acquainted with the human heart, the various associations of the paflions, and the natural transitions from one to another, so as to enable him to command them in confequence of his skill in mufical expreffion,
As our ingenious Author treats this fubject with more precifion than any other which hath fallen under his confideration, we need make no apology for inserting part of what he has advanced on this head.
Music, says he, is the science of sounds, in so far as they affect the mind.-Nature independent of custom has connected certain sounds or tones with certain feelings of the mind.Measure or proportion in sounds has likewise its foundation in nature. Thus certain tones are naturally adapted to solemn, plaintive, and mournful subjects, and the movement is flow; others are expreslive of the joyous and elevating, and the movement is quick.- Sounds likewise affect the mind, as they are loud or soft, rough or smooth, distinct from the confideration of their gravity or acuteness. Thus in the Æolian harp the tones are pleasant and soothing, though they do not vary in acuteness, but only in loudness. The effect of the common drum in roufing and elevating the mind is very strong; yet it has no variety of notes; though the effect indeed here depends on the proportion and measure of the notes.
Melody confifts in the agreeable fucceffion of single founds. -The melody that pleases in one country does not equally
pleafe in another, though there are certain general principles which universally regulate it, the scale of music being the same in all countries.-Harmony consists in the agreeable effect of sounds differing in acuteness produced together; the general principles of it are likewise fixed.
One end of music is to communicate pleasure, but the far nobler and more important is to command the passions and move the heart. In the first view it is an innocent amusement, well fitted to give an agreeable relaxation to the mind from the fatigue of study or business.- In the other it is one of the most useful arts in life. The effect of eloquence depends in a great measure on it. We take music here in the large and proper sense of the word, the art of variously affecting the mind by the power of founds. In this sense, all mankind are more or less judges of it, without regard to exactness of ear.-Every man feels the difference between a sweet melodious voice, and a harsh dissonant. one.
. As the proper application of the voice to the purposes of eloquence has been little attended to, it has been thought an art unattainable by any rules, and depending entirely on natural taste and genius. In some measure it certainly is fo, yet it is much more reducible to rules, and more capable of being taught, than is commonly imagined. Indeed before philosophy ascertains and methodizes the ideas and principles on which an art depends, it is no wonder it be difficult of acquisition.—The very language in which it is to be communicated is to be formed, and it is a considerable time before this language comes to be understood and adopted.-We have a remarkable instance of this in the subject of musical expression, or performing a piece of music with taste and propriety. People were sensible, that the same music performed by different artists had very different effects. Yet they all played the same notes, played equally well in tune and in time. But still there was an unknown somewhat that gave it meaning and expression from one hand, while from another it was lifeless and insipid.--.People were satisfied in resolying this into performing with or without taste, which was thought the entire gift of nature.--Geminiani, who was both a composer and performer of the highest class, first thought of reducing the art of playing on the violin with taste to rules, for which purpose he was obliged to make a great addition to the musical language and characters. The scheme was executed with great ingenuity, yet it has scarcely been attended to by any practical musicians except Mr. Avison.
Music, like eloquence, must propose, as its end, a certain effect to be produced on the hearers. If it produces this effect, it is good music; if it fails, it is bad. -No music can be pronounced good or bad in itself; it can only be relatively so. Every country has a melody peculiar to itself, expressive of the feveral paßions. 'A composer must have a particular regard to this, if he proposes to affect them. Thus in Scotland there is a species of music perfectly well fitted to inspire that joyous mirth suited to dancing, and a plaintive music peculiarly expressive of that tenderness and pleasing melancholy attendant on distress in love; both original in their kind, and different from every other in Europe. - It is of no consequence whence this music derives its origin whether it be fimple or complex, according to the rules of regular composition, or against them; whilst it produces its intended effect in a superior degree to any other, it is the preferable music; and while a person feels this effect, it is a reflection on his taste and common sense, if not on his candor, to despise it.
They who apply much of their time to music, acquire new tastes, besides their national one, and in the infinite variety which melody and harmony are capable of, discover new sources of pleasure formerly unknown to them. But the finest natural tafte never adopts a new one, till the ear has been long accustomed to it, and after all seldom enters into it with that warmth and feeling, which those do, to whom it is national.
• The general admiration pretended to be given to foreign music in Britain, is a despicable piece of affectation. In Italy we see the natives transported at the opera with all that variety of delight and paffion which the composer intended to produce. -The fame opera in England is seen with the most remarkable listlessness and inattention. It can raise no paffion in the audience, because they do not understand the language in which it is written.-To them it has as little meaning as a piece of instrumental mufic. The ear may be transiently pleased with the air of a song, but that is the most trilling effect of mufic.Among the very few who understand the language and epter with pleasure and taste into the Italian music, the conduct of the dramatic part appears fo ridiculous, that they can feel nothing of that transport of paffion, the united effect of mufic and poetry, which may be gradually raised by the artful texture and unfolding of a dramatic story*.--Yet vanity prevails so much over the very sense of pleasure, that the Italian opera is in England more frequented by people of rank, than any other public diversion; and they, to avoid the imputation of want of taste, condemn themselves to some hours painful a tendance on it every week, and to talk of it in raptures which their hearts never felt.
" Simplicity in melody is very necessary in all music intended to reach the heart, or even greatly to delign: he ear.---The