« ZurückWeiter »
ed hat with a tarnished gold binding. He is expert at all exercises ; and he passes much of his time in shooting, playing at cricket, or at ninepins. If the weather be rainy, he moves from the farm-yard to the stable, or from the stable to the farm-yard. He walks from one end of the parlour to the other, humming a tune, or whistling to himself; sometimes he plays on the fidle, or takes a hit at back-gammon. Tom's sisters, who are very accomplished girls, now and then put into his hands any new book with which they are pleased; but he always returns it, says he does not see the use of reading, that the book may be good, is well pleased that they like it, but that it is not a thing of his sort. Even in the presence of ladies, he often indulges in jokes coarse and indecent, which could not be heard without a blush from any other person ; but from Tom, for
his way is known, they are heard without offence. Tom is pleased with himself, and with every thing around him, and wishes for nothing that he is not possessed of. He says he is much happier than your wiser and graver gentlemen. Tom will never be respected or admired; but he is disliked by none, and made welcome wherever
In reflecting upon these characters, I have sometimes been almost tempted to think, that taste is an acquisition to be avoided. I have been apt to make this conclusion, when I considered the
undescribable uneasinesses to which Mr. Fleetwood is exa posed, and the many unalloyed enjoyments of Morley and Dacres; the one without taste, but believing himself possessed of it; the other without taste, and without thinking that he has any. But I have al. ways been withdrawn from every such reflection, by the contemplation of the character of my much-valued friend Mr. Sidney.
Mr. Sidney. is a man of the best understanding
and of the most correct and elegant taste ; but he is not more remarkable for those qualities, than for that uncommon goodness and benevolence which presides in all he says and does. To this it is owing that his refined taste has never been attended with any other consequence than to add to his own happiness, and to that of every person with whom he has any connection. Mr. Sidney never unbosoms the sea crets of his heart, except to a very few particular friends ; but he is polite and complaisant to all. It is not, however, that politeness which arises from a desire to comply with the rules of the world ; it is politeness dictated by the heart, and which, therefore, sits always easy upon him. At peace with his own mind, he is pleased with every one about him ; and he receives the most sensible gratification from the thought that the little attentions which he bestows upon others, contribute to their happiness. No person ever knew better how to estimate the different pleasures of life ; but none ever entered with more ease into the enjoyments of others, though not suited to his own taste. This flows from the natural benevolence of his heart; and I know he has received more delight from taking a share in the pleasures of others, than in cultivating his own. In reading, no man has a nicer discernment of the faults of an au. thor ; but he always contrives to overlook them ; and says, that he hardly ever read any book from which he did not receive some pleasure or instruction.
Mr. Sidney has, in the course of his life, met with disappointments and misfortunes, though few of them are known except to his most particular friends. While the impression of those misfortunes was strongest on his mind, his outward conduct in the world remained invariably the same ; and those few friends whom he honoured by making partners of
his sorrows, know that one great source of his consolation was the consciousness that, under the pressure of calamity, his behaviour remained unaltered, and that he was able to go through the duties of life with becoming dignity and ease. Instead of being peevish and discontented with the world, the disappointments he has met with have only taught him to become more detached from those enjoyments of life which are beyond his power, and have made him value more highly those which he posses
Mr. Sidney has for a long time past, been engaged in business of a very difficult and laborious nature; but he conducts it with equal ease and spirit. Far from the elegance and sensibility of his mind unfitting him for the management of those transactions which require great firmness and perseverance, I believe it is his good taste and elegant refinement of mind, which enable him to support that load of business; because he knows that, when it is finished, he has pleasure in store. He is married to a very amiable and beautiful woman, by whom he has four fine children. He says that, when he thinks it is for them, all toil is easy, and all labour light.
The intimate knowledge I have of Mr. Sidney has taught me, that refinement and delicacy of mind, when kept within proper bounds, contribute to happiness ; and that their natural effect, instead of producing uneasiness and chagrin, is to add to the enjoyments of life. In comparing the two characters of Fleetwood and Sidney, which Nature seems to have cast in the same mould, I have been struck with the fatal consequences to Fleetwood, of indulging his spleen at those little rubs in life, which a juster sense of human imperfection would make him consider equally unavoidable, and to be regarded with the same indifference, as a rainy day, a dusty road, or any the like trilling inconvenience. There is nothing
so inconsiderable which may not become of importance, when made an object of serious attention. Sid. ney never repines like Fleetwood; and as he is much more respected, so he has much more real happiness than either Morley or Dacres. Fleetwood's weaknesses are amiable; and, though we pity, we must love him: but there is a complacent dignity in the character of Sidney, which excites at once our love, respect, and admiration.
No 48. SATURDAY, JULY 10, 1779.
The following paper was lately received from a Correspondent, who accompanied it with a promise of carrying his idea through some of the other fine arts. I have since been endeavouring to make it a little less technical, in order to fit it more for general perusal; but, finding I could not accomplish this, without hurting the illustrations of the writer, I have given it to my readers in the terms in which I received it.
The perceptions of different men, arising from the impressions of the same object, are very often different. Of these we always suppose one to be just and true ; all the others to be false. But which is thc true, and which the false, we are often at a loss to determine :
: as the poet has said,
'Tis with our judgments as our watches, none Go just aline, yet each celieves his own.
With regard to our external senses, this diversity of feeling, as far as it occurs, is of little consequence; but the imth of perception, in our internal senses, employed in morals and criticism, is more interesting and important.
In the judgments we form concerning the beauty and excellency of the several imitative arts, this dif. ference of feeling is very conspicuous; and 'tis difficult to say why each mian may not believe his own, or how a standard may be established, by which the truth of different judgments may be compared and tried. Whether there is, or is not, a standard of taste, I shall not attempt to determine ; but there is a question connected with that, which properly an. swered, may have some effect in the decision : whether in the imitative arts, a person exercised in the practice of the art, or in the frequent contemplation of its productions, be better qualified to judge of these, than a person who only feels the direct and immediate effects of it? In the words of an ancient critic, An docti, qui rationem operis intelligunt, an qui voluptatem tantùm percipiunt, optimè dijudicant? or, as I may express it in English, Whether the artist or connoisseur have any advantage over other persons of common sense or common feeling ?
This question shall be considered at present with regard to one art only, to wit, that of painting ; þut some of the principles which I shall endeavour to il. lustrate, will have a general tendency to establish a decision in all. In the first place, it is
proper to mention the chief sources of the pleasure we receive in viewing pictures. One arises from the perception of imitation, however produced; a second, from the art displayed in producing such imitation; and a third, from the beauty, grace, agreeableness, and propriety of the object imitated. These may all ocçur in the imitation of one single object; but a much