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In the writings of this period imagination was often Tendency to identified with wit, wit with taste, taste with feeling, unite these and feeling with first apprehensions or imagination ; 1 we have already noted that taste is sometimes critical and sometimes productive : this fusion, identification and subordination of terms apparently distinct shows how they gravitate round one single concept.

A German critic, one of the very few who have sought Difficulties to penetrate the darkness surrounding the origins of and

contradictions modern Æsthetic, considers the concept of taste (which in their we owe, he thinks, to Gracian) “the most important definition. æsthetic doctrine which remained for modern times to discover."2 But without going so far as to say that taste is the chief doctrine of the science, and the foundation of all the rest, instead of only a particular doctrine, and without recapitulating what we have already said of Gracian's relation to the theory of taste, it is well to repeat that taste, wit, imagination, feeling, and so on, instead of new concepts scientifically grasped, were simply new words corresponding to vague impressions : at most they were problems, not concepts : apprehensions of ground still to be conquered, not yet annexed and brought into subjection. It must not be forgotten that the very men who made use of these terms could scarcely grope after the ideas they suggested without falling back into the old traditions, the only ones on which they had an intellectual grasp. To them the new words were shades, not bodies : when they tried to embrace them their arms returned empty to their own breasts.

Certainly wit differs to a certain extent from intellect. Wit and Yet Pellegrini and Tesauro, with other writers of treatises, never fail to point out that intellectual truth lies at the root of wit. Trevisano defines it as "an internal virtue of the soul which invents methods for expressing and executing its own concepts: it is recognizable now in the arrangement of things we invent, now in the clear expression of them : sometimes in cunning reconciliations of matters seemingly opposed, sometimes in tracing 1 Cf. Du Bos, op. cit. § 33.

2 Borinski, B. Gracian, p. 39.


analogies but faintly discernible.” To sum up, one must not " allow the actions of wit to go unaccompanied by those of intellect,” or even by those of practical morality. More ingenuously Muratori says, “Wit is that virtue and active force with which the intellect is able to assemble, unite and discover the similarities, relations and reasons of things.” 2 In this manner wit, after having been distinguished from intellect, eventually becomes a part or a manifestation of it. By a somewhat different path the same conclusion is reached by Alexander Pope when he counsels that wit be reined in like a mettlesome horse, and observes :

For wit and judgement often are at strife,

Though meant each other's aid like man and wife.3 Taste and

Similar vicissitudes befell the word "taste," outcome intellectual of a metaphor (as was noted by Kant) whose effect was judgement.

to stand in opposition to intellectualistic principles, as if to say that the judgement governing the choice of food destined solely for the delectation of the palate is of the same nature as that which decides opinions in matters of art. Nevertheless, the very definition of this antiintellectualistic concept contained a reference to intellect and reason; the implicit comparison with the palate was ultimately taken as signifying an anticipation of reflexion : as Voltaire wrote in the following century : De même que la sensation du palais anticipe la réflexion.”5 Intellect and reason glimmer through all the definitions of taste belonging to this period. Mme. Dacier wrote in 1684,Une harmonie, un accord de l'esprit et de la raison.Une raison éclairée qui, d'intelligence avec le cæur, fait toujours un juste choix parmi des choses opposées ou semblables,' wrote the author of Entretiens galants. According to

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1 Trevisano, op. cit. pp. 82, 84.
* Perfetta poesia, bk. ii. ch. 1 (ed. cit. i. p. 299).

3 A. Pope, An Essay on Criticism, 1709 (in Poetical Works, London, 1827), lines 81, 82.

4 Kritik der Urtheilskraft (ed. Kirchmann), § 33.

5 Essai sur le goût (in appendix to A. Gerard, Essai sur le goût, Paris, 1766).

6 Quoted in Sulzer, Allg. Th. d. s. K. ii. p. 377.

? Ibid.

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another writer quoted by Bonhours,“ taste

is “a natural feeling implanted in the soul, independent of any science that can possibly be acquired”; it is practically “an instinct of right reason.”1 The same Bouhours, whilst deprecating this interpretation of one metaphor by another, says, “ Taste is more nearly allied to judgement than wit.” 2 The Italian Ettori thinks that it may generally be described as “judgement regulated by art,” 3 and Baruffaldi (1710) identifies it with “discernment "reduced from theory to practice. De Crousaz (1715) observes: Le bon goût nous fait d'abord estimer par sentiment ce que la raison aurait approuvé, après qu'elle se serait donné le temps de l'examiner assez pour en juger par des justes idées." 5 And somewhat prior to him Trevisano considered it "a sentiment always willing to conform to whatsoever reason accepts,” and in conjunction with divine grace, a powerful help to man in revealing the true and good, no longer able to circulate freely among mankind owing to original sin. For König (1727) in Germany taste was “a power of the intellect, product of a healthy mind and acute judgement which makes one able to feel the true, good and beautiful”; and for Bodmer in 1736 (after lengthy correspondence on the subject with his Italian friend Calepio) “a practised reflexion, prompt and penetrating into the smallest details, by which intellect is able to distinguish the true from the false, the perfect from the imperfect.” Calepio and Bodmer were opponents of pure feeling, and made a distinction between "taste" and "good taste.” Traversing the same intellectualistic path, Muratori speaks of

good taste" in "erudition ” and others of “good taste in philosophy.”

1 Manière de bien penser (Ital. trans. cit.), dial. 4.

2 Ibid. 3 Op. cit. chs. 2-4. Osservazioni critiche (in vol. ii. of Orsi's Considerazioni), ch. 8, p. 23. 5 Traité du beau (Amsterdam ed., 1724), i. p. 170.

6 J. Ulr. König, Untersuchung von dem guten Geschmack in der Dicht- und Redekunst, Leipzig, 1727, and (Calepio-Bodmer) Briefwechsel von der Natur des poetischen Geschmackes, Zürich, 1736; cf. for both Sulzer, ii. p. 380.

The je ne

Perhaps those authors were wise who preferred to remain vague and to identify taste with an indefinable Something, a je ne sais quoi ; a nescio quid : a new expression which expressed nothing new, but at least called attention to the problem. Bouhours (1671) discusses it at length: "Les Italiens, qui font mystère de tout, emploient en toutes rencontres leur non so che : on ne voit rien de plus commune dans leurs poètes,” and quotes Tasso and others in confirmation. A note upon it is found in Salvini : “ This 'good taste' has but recently come to the front; it seems a vague term applicable to nothing particular, and is equivalent to the non so che, to a happy or successful turn of wit.”

wit.” 2 Father Feijoo, who wrote on the Razón del gusto and on El no se qué (1733), says very wisely: En muchas producciones no solo de la naturaleza, sino del arte, y aun mas del arte que de la naturaleza, encuentran los hombres, fuera di aquellas perfecciones sujetes á su comprehension racional, otro genero de primor misterioso que, lisonjeando el gusto, atormenta el entendemento. Los sentidos le palpan, pero no le puede dissipar la razon, y así, al querer explicarle, no se encuentran voces ni conceptos que cuadren á su idéa, y salimos del paso con decir que hay un non se qué, que agrada, que enamora, que hechiza, sin que pueda encontrarse revelacion mas clara da este natural misterio." 3 And President Montesquieu :

Il y a quelquefois dans les personnes ou dans les choses un charme invisible, une grâce naturelle, qu'on n'a pu définir, et qu'on a été forcé d'appeler le je ne sais quoi. Il me semble que c'est un effet principalement fondé sur la surprise." 4

Some writers rebelled against the subterfuge of the je ne sais quoi, saying, rightly enough, that it was a confession of ignorance : but they knew not how to escape that ignorance without falling into confusion between taste and intellectual judgement.

1 Les Entretiens d'Ariste et d'Eugène, 1671 (Paris ed., 1734), conversation v.;

Le je ne sçai quoi ; cf. Gracian, Oraculo manual, No. 127, and El héroe, ch. 13.

2 In the notes to Muratori's Perfetta poesia. 3 Feijoo, Theatro critico, vol. vi. Nos. 11-12.

4 Essai sur le goût dans les choses de la nature et de l'art. Posthumous fragment (in appendix to A. Gerard, op. cit.).

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If the attempt to define wit” and taste” usually Imagination resulted in intellectualism, it was easy to transform and sensaimagination and feeling into sensationalistic doctrines. The corrective We have seen how earnestly Pallavicino insisted on the of Imaginanon-intellectuality of the fantasies and inventions of the imagination. “Nothing presents itself to the admirer of the beautiful (he writes) to enable him to verify his cognition and satisfy himself that the object recognized is or is not that for which he takes it; if either by vision or by strong apprehension he is led to think it actually present by an act of judgement, his taste for beauty as beauty does not arise from such act of judgement, but from the vision or lively apprehension which might remain in ourselves even when the deception of belief was corrected"; just as happens when we are drowsy and know ourselves to be but half awake, yet are unwilling to tear ourselves from sweet dreams. For Pallavicino imagination cannot err; he assimilates it wholly to the sensations, which are incapable of truth or falsity. And if imaginative knowledge pleases, it is not because it holds a special truth (imaginative truth), but because it creates objects which “ though false are pleasing ": the painter makes not likenesses but images which, all resemblance apart, are pleasing to the sight : the poet awakens apprehensions “ sumptuous, novel, marvellous, splendid.” 1 His opinion coincides, if we mistake not, with Marino's sensationalism : “ The poet should aim only at the marvellous . . . he who cannot amaze his hearers is not worth a straw": he applauds the oft-repeated dictum of “ Gabriel Chiabrera, that Pindar of Savona, that poetry should cause the eyebrows to arch themselves." 3 But in the Treatise upon Style written later (1646) he repents of his youthful achievement and appears willing to return to the pedagogic theory: “And forasmuch as I theorized concerning poetry in the basest manner, treating it solely as a minister of that delight which the mind enjoys in the less noble operation of imagination or apprehension

1 Del bene, cap. cit. 2 Marino, in one of the sonnets in the Murtoleide (1608). 3 Del bene, bk. i. part i. ch. 8.

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