Page images
PDF
EPUB

argumentation. It is frequently obferved of young Academics in particular, that they are very apt impertinently to engage people in a difpute, whether they will or not. But this is contrary to all the rules of good-breeding, and is never practifed by any man of fenfe, that has feen much of the world. I have fometimes known a perfon of great faucinefs and volubility of expreffion, confuted by the Argumentum Baculinum, and both his head and his fyllogifm broken at the fame time.

I need not point out to you the profligate RAKE or the affected Coxсомв, as perfons from whofe company you can reap no fort of benefit. From the first the good principles, already inftilled into you, will doubtlefs preferve you; and I am fure you have too much real fenfe, not to defpife the abfurd fopperies of the latter. Noted LYARS are no less to be avoided, as the common pests of fociety. They are often of a mifchievous difpofition, and by their calumnies and falfe fuggeftions, take a pleasure in fetting the moft intimate friends at variance. But if they only deal in harmless and improbable lies, their acquaintance muft frequently be out of countenance for them; and if we should venture to repeat after them, I am fure it is the way to be out of countenance for ourselves.

But above all, I must advise you never to engage, at leaft not with any degree of violence, in any PARTY. Be not transported by the clamorous jollity of talking patriots beyond the fober dictates of reafon and juftice; nor let the infinuating voice of corruption tempt you to barter your integrity and peace of mind for the paltry fatisfaction of improving your fortune. If you behave with honour and prudence, you will be regarded and courted by all parties; but if otherwife, you will cer tainly be defpifed by all. Perhaps, indeed, if you fhould hereafter engage in elections, and fpend your own money to fupport another's caufe, the perfon, in whofe intereft you are, may fhake you by the hand, and fwear you are a very honeft gentleman: just as butchers treat their bull-dogs, who spit in their mouths,

clap

[ocr errors]

clap them on the back, and then halloo them on to be toffed and torn by the horns of their antagonist.

66 en

After having guarded you against the evil influence of your own fex, I cannot conclude without throwing in a word or two concerning the Ladies. But that I may not be thought unmannerly to the fair, I fhall pafs over their faults; only hoping that their excellencies will not tempt you to precipitate a match with one much your inferior in birth and fortune, though "dowed with every accomplishment requifite to make "the marriage ftate happy." In these hafty and unequal matches, it fometimes happens, that mutual love gives way to mutual reproaches. We may perhaps too late repent of our bargain: and though Repentance be an excellent visiting friend, when the reminds us of our paft miscarriages, and prefcribes rules how to avoid them for the future, yet fhe is a moft troublesome companion, when fixed upon us for life.

I am, dear Sir,

On TASTE.

Your fincere friend, &c.

H. A.

SIR,

[World, No. 67.]

To Mr. FITZ-ADAM.

Α'

LL the fashionable part of mankind set out with the ambition of being thought men of TASTE. This is the prefent univerfal paffion: but the misfortune is, that like sportsmen, who lofe their hare, and ftart conies which lead them over warrens, where their horfes break their legs, and fling their riders; fo in the affair of TASTE, we frequently fee men following fome falfe fcent, with the fame ardour that they would have purfued the proper object of a chace, and with much greater inconveniencies.

Of all the various fubjects that have yet exercised the geniuffes of modern writers, that of TASTE has appeared to be the most difficult to treat; because almost all of

them

[ocr errors]

them have loft themselves in endeavouring to trace its fource. They have generally indeed referred us for its origin to the polite and imitative arts; whereas, those are rather its offspring than its parents. Perhaps their mistakes in the treating this delicate fubject may have arisen from the great refemblance which FALSE TASTE bears to TRUE, which hafty and inaccurate obfervers will find as difficult to diftinguifh, as to difcern Pinchbeck's metal from genuine gold at the first tranfient glance. To the end, therefore, that the ideas of our fine gentlemen may be fomewhat more precisely adjusted upon this important article, I fhall venture to affert, that the first thing neceffary for those who wish to acquire a TRUE TASTE, is, to prepare their minds by an early purfuit and love of moral order, propriety, and all the rational beauties of a juft and well regulated conduct.

TRUE TASTE, like good breeding in behaviour, feems to be the eafieft thing in nature to attain; but yet, where it does not grow fpontaneously, it is a plant of all others the most difficult to cultivate. It must be fown upon a bed of virgin fenfe, and kept perfectly clean of every weed that may prevent or retard its growth. It was long erroneously thought to be an exotic, but experience has convinced us that it will bear the cold of our most northern provinces. I could produce inftances to confirm this affertion, from almost every county of Great Britain and Ireland.

The folly is, that every man thinks himself capable of arriving at perfection in this divine accomplishment:: but nature hath not difpenfed her gifts in fuch profufion. There is but one fun to illuminate our earth, while the ftars that twinkle with inferior luftre are innumerable.. Thus those great geniuffes that are the perfect models of TRUE TASTE, are extremely rare, while thousands daily expose themselves to ruin and ridicule by vain and aukward imitations.

Perhaps to arrive at TASTE in one fingle branch of polite refinement, might not be altogether fo fruitless an ambition: but the abfurdity is to aim at univerfal TASTE. Now this will beft appear by obferving what numbers

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

numbers miscarry even in the most confined pursuit of this difficult accomplishment. One feeks this coy miftress in books and ftudy; others purfue her through France, through Italy, nay, through Spain; and after all their labours, we have frequently feen them ridiculoufly embracing pedantry and foppery, with the raptures due alone to TASTE. Thus it happens with many deluded travellers in the fields of gallantry, who enjoy fancied familiarities with women of the first rank, whose names and titles ftrumpets have affumed, to deceive the vain, the ignorant, and the unwary.

It is thought the Bona Dea of the Romans, was nothing more than the goddess of TASTE. Ladies alone were admitted into her myfteries. The natural indelicacy indeed of the ftronger fex feems to countenance this opinion; women in general have finer and more exquifite fenfations than men; and it is a thorough acquaintance with the virtues and charms of that moft amiable part of our fpecies which conftitutes the most effential quality of a man of TASTE. Who indeed ever knew a mere foldier, a mere politician, a mere scholar to be a man of TASTE.

[ocr errors]

Were we to erect a temple to TASTE, every SCIENCE fhould furnish a pillar, every VIRTUE fhould there have an altar, and the three GRACES fhould hold the highpriesthood in commiffion.

We daily fee pretenders to this quality endeavouring to difplay it in a parade of drefs and equipage; but thefe, alas! can only produce a beau. We fee others fet up for it amongst cards and dice; but these can create nothing better than a gamefter. Others in brothels, which only form a debauchee. Some have run for it at New-market; fome have drank for it at the King's-arms; the former, to their great furprize, have acquired only the title of good jockeys, the latter of jolly Bucks. There are many who aim at it in literary compofitions, and gain at most the character of intruding authors.

However, this general purfuit of TASTE has its ufes : those numbers who go in queft of it, where it is never

to be found, ferve at least as so many marks that teach us to avoid fteering the fame unfuccefsful courfe.

The plain truth of the matter is, a house filled with fine pictures, the fide-board loaded with maffy plate, the fplendid equipage, with all the hey-dukes, pages and fervants that attend it, do not entitle the poffeffor to be called a man of TASTE: they only bring with them either anxiety or contempt to thofe whofe rank and fortunes are not equal to fuch oftentation. I will be bold to fay therefore, notwithstanding fome of your readers will doubtless look upon me as an unpolifhed Vandal, that the best inftance any man can give of his TASTE, is to fhew that he has too much delicacy to relish any thing fo low and little, as the purchase of fuperfluities at another's coft, or with his own ruin. At least, the placid fatisfaction of that man's heart, who prudently measures his expences, and confines his defires within the circle of his annual revenue, begets that well-ordered difpofition of mind, without which it is impoffible to merit the character of a man of juft refined TASTE.

··

Certain it is, that he beft difcovers the juftnefs of his TASTE, who beft knows how to purfue and fecure the moft folid and lafting happiness. Now where fhall we look for this, with fo much probability of finding it, as in temperance and tranquillity of mind, in focial and domeftic enjoyments? Are not these the firft and most effential objects of TASTE? Certainly they are: and when a man has once acquired thefe, he may, if fortune and nature have properly qualified him, launch out into a more extenfive compafs, and display his genius in a larger circle.

But it will be difficult, I fear, to perfuade thofe young men of the prefent generation, who are ambitious of eftablishing a character for TASTE, to advance towards it by fo flow and regular a progreffion. They feem in general to be poffeffed with a kind of EPIC madness, and are for hurrying at once into the midst of things. But perhaps you, Mr. Fitz-Adam, may be able, by reafon or by ridicule, to call back their attention to the previous fteps; to perfuade them to learn to walk, before they attempt to run; to convince them, that profufion

in

« EelmineJätka »