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argumentation. It is frequently observed of young Academics in particular, that they are very apt impertinently to engage people in a dispute, whether they will or not. But this is contrary to all the rules of good-breeding, and is never practised by any man of sense, that has seen much of the world. I have sometimes known a person of great fauciness and volubility of expression, confuted by the Argumentum Baculinum, and both his head and his fyllogism broken at the same time.
I need not point out to you the profligate Rake or the affected CoxcomB, as persons from whose company you can reap no sort of benefit. From the firft the good principles, already instilled into you, will doubtless preserve you ; and I am sure you have too much real sense, not to despise the absurd fopperies of the latter. Noted LYARs are no less to be avoided, as the common pests of society. They are often of a mischievous disposition, and by their calumnies and false suggestions, take a pleasure in setting the most intimate friends at variance. But if they only deal in harmless and improbable lies, their acquaintance must frequently be out of countenance for them; and if we should venture to repeat after them, I am sure it is the way to be out of countenance for ourselves.
But above all, I must advise you never to engage, at least not with any degree of violence, in any PARTY. Be not transported by the clamorous jollity of talking patriots beyond the sober di&tates of reason and justice; 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 otherwise, you will certainly be despised by all. Perhaps, indeed, if you fhould hereafter engage in elections, and spend your own money to support another's cause, the person, in whose interest you are, may shake you by the hand, and swear you are a very honest gentleman: just as butchers treat their bull-dogs, who spit in their mouths,
clap them on the back, and then halloo them on to be tosied and torn by the horns of their antagonist.
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 shall país 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 requisite to make “ the marriage state happy.” In these hasty and unequal matches, it sometimes 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 prescribes rules how to avoid them for the future, yet she is a most troublesome companion, when fixed upon us for life.
I am, dear Sir,
[World, No. 67.}
To Mr. Fitz-ADAM. SIR, LL the fashionable part of mankind set out with
the ambition of being thought men of TASTE. This is the present universal passion : but the misfor. tune is, that like sportsmen, who lose their hare, and Itart conies which lead them over warrens, where their horses break their legs, and fing their riders; fo in the affair of TASTE, we frequently see men following fome false fcent, with the same ardour that they would have pursued the proper object of a chace, and with much greater inconveniencies.
Of all the various subjects that have yet exercised the geniusses of modern writers, that of TASTE has appeared to be the most difficult to treat ; because almost all of
them have lost themselves in endeavouring to trace its Source. 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 fubje&t may have arisen from the great resemblance which FALSE TASTE bears to true, which hasty and inaccurate obo fervers will find as difficult to distinguish, as to discern Pinchbeck’s metal from genuine gold at the first transient glance. To the end, therefore, that the ideas of our fine gentlemen may be fomewhat more precisely adjusted upon this important article, I shall venture to affert, that the first thing necessary for those who wish to acquire a TRUE TASTB, is, to prepare their minds by an early pursuit 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 easiest thing in nature to attain ; but yet, where it does not grow spontaneously, it is a plant of all others the most difficult to cultivate. It must be fown upon a bed of virgin-sense, 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 instances to confirm this assertion, 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 dispensed her gifts in such profusion. There is but one sun to illuminate our earth, while the stars that twinkle with inferior luftre are innumerable. Thus those great geniusses that are the perfect models of TRUE TASTE, are extremely rare, while thousands daily expose themselves to ruin and ridicule by vain and awkward imitations.
Perhaps to arrive at taste in one single branch of polite refinement, might not be altogether fo fruitless an ambition : but the absurdity is to aim at universal TASTE. Now this will beft appear by observing what
numbers miscarry even in the most confined pursuit of this difficult accomplishment. One seeks this coy mistress in books and study; others pursue her through France, through Italy, nay, through Spain; and after all their labours, we have frequently seen them ridiculously 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 assumed, 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 mysteries. The natural indelicacy indeed of the stronger sex seems to countenance this opinion; women in general have finer and more exquisite sensations than men; and it is a thorough acquaintance with the virtues and charms of that most amiable
part of our species which constitutes the most essential quality of a man of taste. Who indeed ever knew a mere soldier, a mere politician, a mere fcholar to be a man of taste.
Were we to erect a temple to TASTE, every SCIENCE should furnish a pillar, every virtue should there have an altar, and the three Graces should hold the highpriesthood in commiflion.
We daily fee pretenders to this quality endeavouring to display it in a parade of dress and equipage; but these, alas! can only produce a beau. We see others set
up for it amongst cards and dice; but these can create nothing better than a gamester. Others in brothels, which only form a debauchee. Some have run for it at New-market; some have drank for it at the King's-arms; the former, to their great surprize, have acquired only the title of good jockeys, the latter of jolly Bucks. There are many who aim at it in literary compositions, and gain at most the character of intruding authors.
However, this general pursuit of taste has its uses : those numbers who go in quest of it, where it is never
to be found, ferve at least as so many marks that teach us to avoid steering the same unsuccessful course,
The plain truth of the matter is, a house filled with fine pictures, the fide-board loaded with maffy plate, the splendid equipage, with all the hey-dukes, pages and servants that attend it, do not entitle the possessor to be called a man of TASTE : they only bring with them either anxiety or contempt to those whose rank and fortunes are not equal to such oftentation. I will be bold to say therefore, notwithstanding some of your readers will doubtless look upon me as an unpolished Vandal, that the best instance any man can give of his TASTE, is to thew that he has too much delicacy to relish any thing so low and little, as the purchase of superfluities at another's cost, or with his own ruin. At least, the placid satisfaction 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 disposition of mind, without which it is impoffible to merit the character of a man of just refined taste.
Certain it is, that he best discovers the juftness of his Taste, who best knows how to pursue and secure the most solid and lasting happiness. Now where shall we look for this, with so much probability of finding it, as in temperance and tranquillity of mind, in focial and domestic enjoyments ? Are not these the first and most essential 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 extensive compass, and display his genius in a larger circle.
But it will be difficult, I fear, to persuade those young men of the prefent generation, who are ambitious of establishing a character for TASTE, to advance towards it by so flow and regular a progreffion. They seem in general to be possessed with a kind of epic madness, and are for burrying at once into the midst of things. But perhaps you, Mr. Fitz-Adam, may be able, by reason or by ridicule, to call back their attention to the previ. ous steps ; to persuade them to learn to walk, before they attempt to run; to convince them, that profufion