"Custom Reconciles Us To Everything"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Burke, in his most ambitious effort, A Philosophic Inquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and the Beautiful, provides an encyclopedic discussion of various aspects of pain and pleasure, joy and grief, the beautiful and the sublime–the kinds, the causes, the effects. In the Preface, he defends the usefulness of such inquiry: "Whatever turns the soul inward on itself, tends to concentre its forces, and to fit it for greater and stronger flights of science. By looking into physical cause our minds are opened and enlarged; and in this pursuit, whether we take or whether we lose our game, the chase is certainly of service." In Part IV, Section xviii, in his summation of the effects of color upon the imagination, he cites a principle of central importance not only to this immediate context but to all aspects of his discussion of taste. He writes:

Though the effects of black be painful originally, we must not think they always continue so. Custom reconciles us to everything. After we have been used to the sight of black objects, the terror abates, and the smoothness and glossiness, or some agreeable accident of bodies so colored, softens in some measure the horror and sternness of their original nature. . . .