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he speaks of “Spaniards, above all others cunning in metaphor," who express themselves in “that eloquent and laconic phrase, good taste"; touching further on taste and genius he quotes, “ that ingenious Spaniard,” Gracian, who gave the word the sense of “practical wit,” enabling one to perceive the “true signification" of things; his “man of good taste" becomes in our language “a man of tact” in the affairs of life.2
The transference of the word to the domain of æsthetic seems to have taken place in France during the last quarter of the century. “Il y a dans l'art un point de perfection, comme de bonté ou de maturité dans la nature: celui qui le sent et qui l'aime a le goût parfait; celui qui ne le sent pas, et qui aime au deçà ou au delà, a le goût défectueux. Il y a donc un bon et un mauvais goût, et l'on dispute des goûts avec fondement," writes La Bruyère (1688). As attributes or variants of taste it was usual to mention delicacy and variety or variability. Bearing its fresh critical - literary content, but not freed from the encumbrance of its earlier practical and moral significance, the word spread from France into other European countries. Thomasius introduced it into Germany in 1687;4 7 and in England it becomes “good taste.” In Italy it appears as early as 1696 as title of a large book written by Camillo Ettori, the Jesuit, Il buon gusto ne' componimenti rettorici.5 The preface notes :
The preface notes : “The expression 'good taste,' proper to those who rightly distinguish good from bad flavour in foods, is now in general use and claimed by every one as a title in connexion with literature and the humanities”; it reappears in 1708 at
1 Riflessioni sopra il buon gusto (Venice, 1766), introd. pp. 72-84.
? Gracian, Obras (Antwerp, 1669); El héroe, El discreto, with introd. by A. Farinelli, Madrid, 1900. Cf. Borinski, Poet. d. Renais. I.c.
3 Les Caractères, ou les mæurs du siècle, ch. I; Des ouvrages de l'esprit.
* In the programme : Von der Nachahmung der Franzosen, Leipzig, 1687.
5 Opera . . . nella quale con alcune certe considerazioni si mostra in che consista il vero buon gusto ne' suddetti componimenti, etc., etc., Bologna, 1696.
the beginning of Muratori's 1 book already quoted : Trevisano treats of it philosophically : Salvini discusses it in his note upon the Perfetta Poesia of Muratori above mentioned, where the subject of good taste occupies several pages, and finally it gives its name to the Academy of Good Taste founded at Palermo in 1718.3 Scholars of the day who took up the discussion of the theme, recollecting some passages scattered throughout the ancient classics, placed the new concept in relation with the “tacitus quidam sensus sine ulla ratione et arte” of Cicero; and with the “ iudicium” which“ nec magis arte traditur quam gustus aut odor” of Quintilian. More particularly Montfaucon de Villars (1671) 5 wrote a book on “ Delicacy”; Ettori strove to find some definition more satisfactory than those current at the time (e.g. “it is the finest invention of wit, the flower of wit and extract of beauty's self," and similar conceits) ; 6 Orsi made it the subject of his Considerazioni written in reply to Bouhours' book.
In Italy in the seventeenth century we find imagina- Fancy or tion or fancy placed on a pinnacle. What do you mean
Imagination. by talking of probability and historical truth (asks Cardinal Sforza Pallavicino in 1644), of false or true in connexion with poetry; which deals not with fiction, fact or historical probability but with primary apprehensions which assert neither truth nor falsehood ? Following this line of argument, imagination takes the place of that probable, neither true nor false, advocated by some commentators of Aristotle ; a theory strongly criticized by Pallavicino, here agreeing with Piccolomini, whom however he does not name, and in opposition to Castelvetro whom he explicitly mentions. He who goes to the play (continues Pallavicino) knows quite well
1 Delle riflessioni sopra il buon gusto nelle scienze e nell' arti, 1708 (Venice, 1766).
2 Muratori, Della perfetta poesia italiana, Modena, 1706, bk. ii. ch. 5.
that the scenes acted on the stage are not real ; although he has no belief in them yet they please him greatly. For “if poetry desired to be mistaken for truth, the end she had in view would be a lie, by the laws of nature and of God doomed inevitably to perish : for a lie is nothing but an untruth uttered in the hope that it may be mistaken for truth. How then should an art so tainted be allowed to flourish in the best-regulated republics ? How should it be commended and used by the very writers of Holy Scripture ? ” Ut pictura poësis : poetry is like painting, which is a “diligent imitation" aiming at a close copy of the features, colours, acts, nay, even the hidden motives, of the objects it represents: and it “ does not pretend that fiction is truth.” The sole aim of poetic tales is “to adorn our understanding with imagery, that is to say, with sumptuous, novel, marvellous and splendid appearances.
And this is known to diffuse so useful an influence on mankind that humanity insists on rewarding poets with praise more glorious than is bestowed on any other men; their books are protected from the ravages of time with greater solicitude than is shown to scientific treatises or productions of any other art; in the end the names of poets are crowned with adoring veneration. See how the world thirsts for beautiful first apprehensions, although these are neither laden with science nor are they vehicles of truth.” 1
Sixty years later these ideas, although expressed by a Cardinal, seemed all too daring to Muratori, who could not bring himself to allow poets so much latitude, or to enfranchize them from their obligations to the probable. Nevertheless Muratori allows a large space to imagination, “an inferior apprehensive faculty ” which, without caring whether things be false or true, confines itself to apprehending them, and “represents the truth merely, leaving the task of “
cognition ” to the
to the "superior apprehensive faculty” or intellect. Even the stony heart
1 Del bene (Naples, 1681), bk. i. part i. chs. 49-53. Cf. the same writer's Arte della perfezion cristiana, Rome, 1665, bk. i. ch. 3.
2 Perfetta poesia, bk. i. chs. 14, 21.
of Gravina yields to the charm of imagination : he admits it occupies a considerable place in the realm of poetry and suffers his own arid prose to describe it as “ a sorceress, but beneficent," a delirium which cures madness.” 1
Earlier than either of these, Ettori commended it to the good rhetorician, “who in order that he may awaken images" must "familiarize himself with whatever is subject to bodily feeling” and encounter the genius of imagination, which is a sensuous faculty," to these ends using “ species rather than genera (since the latter, being more universal than the former, are less sensible), individuals rather than species, effects than causes, the number of the greater rather than the number of the less.”2
As far back as 1578 the Spaniard Huarte had maintained that eloquence is the product of imagination rather than of intellect or reason. In England Bacon (1605) ascribed science to intellect, history to memory and poetry to imagination or fancy : 4 Hobbes inquired into the procedure of poetry : 5 Addison (1712) devoted several numbers of his Spectator to analysis of the “ pleasures of imagination.” 6 Somewhat later, the importance of imagination was felt in Germany, where it found advocates in Bodmer, Breitinger and other writers of the Swiss school, who owed much to the influence of the Italians (Muratori, Gravina, Calepio) and the English : acting in their turn as teachers of Klopstock and the new German critical school.7
It was at this same period that opposition became Feeling. clearly marked between those accustomed " à juger par le sentiment” and those used to “raisonner par principes.”'8 1 Ragion poetica, in Prose italiane, ed. De Stefano, Naples, 1839,
2 Il buon gusto, p. 10.
4 De dignitate et augmentis scientiarum, bk. ii. ch. 13.
? Die Discourse der Mahlern, 1721-1723; Von dem Einfluss und Gebrauche der Einbildungskraft, etc., 1727; and other writings of Bodmer and Breitinger.
8 Pascal, Pensées sur l'éloquence et le style, $ 15.
i. ch. 7.
The Frenchman, Du Bos, author of Réflexions critiques sur la poésie et la peinture (1719), upholds the theory of feeling; according to him art is simply a self-abandonment “aux impressions que les objets étrangers font sur nous," setting aside all reflective labour. He laughs at those philosophers who deny the force of imagination, and Malebranche's eloquent discourse founded on this denial draws from Du Bos the remark, “c'est à notre imagination qu'il parle contre l'abus de l'imagination.” He refuses to see any intellectual nucleus in the productions of the arts, saying that art consists not in instruction but in style : nor is he too respectful towards the probable : he says he finds himself unable to set limits between it and the marvellous, and leaves to “ born poets” the task of thus miraculously uniting opposites. For Du Bos there is no criterion of art save feeling, which he calls a “ sixième sens," against which dispute is vain since in such matters popular opinion invariably wins the day over the dogmatic pronouncements of artists and men of letters: all the ingenious conceits of the greatest metaphysicians, though unimpeachable in themselves, will not in the slightest degree diminish the lustre of poetry or despoil it of one single attraction. Attempts to discredit Ariosto and Tasso in the eyes of Italians were as vain as those made against the Cid in France. Other people's arguments can never persuade us of the contrary of what we feel. These notions were adopted by many French writers : for example Cartaut de la Villate a observes, “Le grand talent d'un écrivain qui veut plaire, est de tourner ses réflexions en sentiments ; and Trublet, “C'est un principe súr, que la poésie doit être une expression de sentiment." 2 Nor were the English slow in emphasizing the concept of "emotion” in their theories of literature.
1 Réflexions critiques sur la poésie et la peinture, 1719 (ed. 7, Paris, 1770), passim; see especially sections 1, 23, 26, 28, 33, 34.
2 Cartaut de la Villate, Essais historiques et philosophiques sur le goût, Aix, 1737; Trublet, Essais sur divers sujets de littérature et de morale, Amsterdam, 1755.