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great consormity between that mental taste, which is the subject of this paper, and that sensitive taste, which gives us a relish or every disferent flavour that asfects the palate. Accordingly we sind, there are as many degrees of resinement in the intellectual faculty, as in the fense, which is marked out by this common denomination.
1 knew a person who possessed the one in so great a perfection, that after having tasted ten different kinds of tea he would distinguish, without feeing the colour of it, the particular fort which was offered him; and not only so, but any two forts of them that were mixt together in an equal proportion ; nay, he has carried the experiment so far, as upon tasting the composition of three different sorts, to name the parcels from whence the three several ingredients were taken. A man of a sine taste in writing will discern, after the same manner, not only the general beauties and imperfections of an author, but discover the several ways of thinking and expressing himself, which diversify him from all other authors, with the several foreign insusions of thought and language, and the particular authors from whom they were borrowed.
After having thus far explained what is" generally meant by a sine taste in writing, and shewn the propriety of the metaphor which is used on this occasion, I think I may desine it to be thatfaculty os the soul, which discerns the beauties of an author 'with pleasure, and the impersetlions with dijlike. If a man would know whether he is possessed of this faculty, I would have him read over the celebrated works of antiquity, which have stood the test of so many different ages and countries, or those works among the moderns which have the sanction of the politer part of our contemporaries. If upon the perusal of such writings he does not sind himself delighted in an extraordinary manner, or if, upon reading the admired passages in such authors, he sinds a coldness and indifference in his thoughts, he ought to conclude, not (as is too usual among tasteless readers) that the author wants those perfections which have been admired in him, but that he himself wants the faculty of discovering them.
He should, in the second place, be very careful to observe, whether he tastes the distinguishing perfections, or, if I may be allowed to call them so, the specisic qualifies of the author which he peruses; whether he is particularly pleased with Livy, for his manner of tellings a story, with Sallust for entering into those internal principles of action which arise from the characters and manners of the persons he describes, or with Tacitus for his displaying those outward motives of safety and interest, which gave birth to the whole series of transactions which he relates.
He may likewise consider, how differently he is affected by the fame thought, which presents itself in a great writer, from what he is when he sinds it delivered by a person of an ordinary genius. For there is as much difference in apprehending a thought clothed in Cicero's language, and that of a common author, as in seeing an object by the light of a taper, or by the light of the fun.
It is very difficult to lay down rules for the acquirement of such a taste as that I am here speaking of. The fr.culty mull in some degree be born with us, and it very often happens, that those who have other qualities in periection are wholly void of this. One cf the most eminent mathematicians of the age has assured me, that the greatest pleasure he took in reading Pirgil, was in .examining Æneas his voyage by the map ; as I question not but many a modern compiler of history would be delighted with little more in that divine author than the bare matters of fact.
But notwithstanding this faculty must in some measure be born with us, there are several methods for cultivating and improving it, and without which it will be very uncertain, and of little use to the person that possesses it. The most natural method for this purpose is to be conversant among the writings of the most polite authors. A man who has any relish for sine writing, either diseovers new beauties, or receives stronger impressions from the masterly strokes of a great author every time he peruses him; besides that he naturally wears himself into the fame manner of speaking and thinking.
Conversation with men of a polite genius is another method for improving our natural taste. It is impossible for a man of the greatest parts to consider any thing in its whole extent, and in all its variety of lights. Every man, besides those general observations which are to be made upon an author, forms several reflexions that are peculiar to his own manner of thinking; so that conversation will natura'ly furnish us with hints which we did not attend to, and make us enjoy other mens parts and reflexions as well as our own. This is the best reason I can give for the observation which several have made, that men of great genius in the fame way of writing, seldom rise up singly, but at certain periods of time appear together, and in a body; -as they did at Rome in the reign of Augustus, and in Greece about the age of Socrates. I cannot think that Corneille, Racint, Mcliere, Boileau, la Fontaine, Bruyere, Boffu, or the Daciers, would have written so well as they have done, had they not been friends and contempo- raries.
It is likewise necessary for a man who would form to himself a sinished taste of good writing, to be well versed in the works of the best Critici both ancient and modern. I must consess that I could wish there were authors of this kind, who, beside the mechanical rules which a man of very little taste may discourse upon, . would enter into the very spirit and soul of sine writing, and shew us the several sources of that pleasure which < rises in the mind upon the perusal of a noble work. Thus although in poetry it be absolutely necessary that the"oni-ties of time, place and action, with other points of the fame nature, should be thoroughly explained and understood; there is something more essential to the art, . something that e'evates and astonishes the fancy, and gives a greatness of mind to the reader, which few of * the critics besides Langinus hive considered.
Our general taste in Etgland is for epigram, turns of wit, and forced conceits, which have 00 manner of influence, either for the bettering or enlarging the mind . ofhim who reads them, and have beeji carefully avoided . by the greatest writers, both among the ancients and moderns. I have endeavoured in several of my speculations to.banish this Gothic, taste, which has taken possession C s i .among
among us. I entertained the town for a week together with an essay upon wit, in which I endeavoured to detect several of those false kinds which have been admired in the different ages of the world; and at the fame time to Ihew wherein the nature of true wit consists. I afterwards gave an instance of the great force which lies in a natural simplicity of thought to affect the mind of the reader, from such vulgar pieces as have little else besides this single qualisication to recommend them. I have likewise examined the works of the greatest poet which our nation or perhaps any other has produced, and particularized most of those rational and manly beauties which give a value to that divine work. I shall next ,V«turday enter upon an essay on the pleasures of the imaginativtt, which though it shall consider that subject at large, will perhaps suggest to the reader what it is that gives a beauty to many passages of the sinest writers both in prose and verse. Asanundertakingofthisnatureis entirely new, I question not but it will be received with candour. O.
N°4iO . Friday, June 20.
■ Dum forts funt, nihil videtur mundius,
Nec magis compositum quidquam, nee magis e egans:
Ter. Eun. Act. 5. Sc. 4.
When they are abroad, nothing so clean, and nicely dressed; and when at supper with a gallant, they do but piddle, and pick the choicest bits: but, to fee their nastiness and poverty at home, their gluttony, and how they devour black crusts dipped in yesterday's broth, is a perfect antidote against wenching.
Will Honeycomb, who disguises his present decay by visiting the wenches of the town only by way of humour, told us, that the Jast rainy
night night he with Sir Rocer De Coverley was driven into the Temple Cloister, whither had escaped also a lady most exactly dressed from head to soot. Will made no scruple to acquaint us, that she saluted him very familiarly by his name, and turning immediately to the knight, she said, she supposed that was his good friend, Sir Roger De Coverly: Upon which nothing less could follow than Sir Roger's approach to salutation, with, Madam, the-same at your service. She was dressed in a black tabby mantua and petticoat, without ribbons ; her linen striped muslin, and in the whole an agreeable second mourning; decent dresses being often affected by the creatures of my town, at once consulting cheapness and the pretensions to modesty. She went on with a familiar easy air. Your friend, Mr. Honeycomb, is a little surprised to see a woman here alone and unattended ; but I dismissed my coach at the gate, and tripped it down to my counsel's chambers; for lawyers fees take up too much of a small disputed jointure to admit any other expences but meer necessaries. Mr. Honeycomb begged they might have the honour of setting her down, for Sir Roger'* servant was gone to call a coach. In the interim the. footman returned, with no coach to be had ; and there appeared nothing to be done but trusting herself with Mr. Honeycomb and his friend to wait at the tavern at the gate for a coach, or to be subjected to all the impertinence she must meet with in that public place. Mr. Honeycomb being a man of honour determined the choice of the sirst, and Sir Rocer, as the better man, took the lady by the hand, leading her through all the shower, covering her with his hat, and galanting a familiar acquaintance through rows of young fellows, .who winked at Sukey in the state she march'd off, Will Honeycomb bringing up the rear.
Much importunity prevailed upon the fair one to admit of a collation, where, after declaring she had no stomach, and eaten a couple of chickens, devoured a truss of iallet, and drunk a full bottle to her share, she fung the Old Man's Wish to Sir Roger. The Knight left the room for some time after supper, and writ the following billet, which he conveyed to Sukey, and Sukey