« ForrigeFortsett »
in architecture, in gardening, in equipage, in dress, &c. can serve no other purpose but to disturb their imagina. tions, and to give them a general diftaste of themselves, and of every thing around them.
It is by no means, however, surprizing, that this character of TASTE should be so universally fought after; as true taste is doubtless the highest point of perfection, at which human nature, in this her state of frailty, can possibly arrive. A man endowed with this quality, poffefses all his fenses in the manner best adapted to receive the impression of every true pleasure, which providence has scattered with a liberal hand for the delight of its creatures. There is nothing intrinsically beautiful which does not furnith him with perpetual delight; as every thing ill-fashioned and deformed affects him with disgust and abhorrence. That is, in a word, the avenues of his inind are open only to thofe enjoyments that bring with them the passports of truth and reason.
Philalethes is a man of taste, according to the notion I have here given of that quality. His conduct is influenced by sentiment as well as by principle; and if he were ever so secure of secrecy and impunity, he would no more be capable of committing a low or a base action, than of admitting a vile performance into his noble collection of painting and fculpture. His just taste of the fine arts,, and his exquifite delicacy in moral conduct, are but one and the same sense; exerting itself upon different objects; a love of beauty, order and propriety, extended to all their. various intellectual and visible exhibitions. Accordingly, Philalethes is confiftent in every part of his character. You see the same elegant and noble fimplicity, the same correct and judicious way of thinking, expressed in his dress, his equipage, his furniture, his gardens, and his actions.
How different is Micio from Philalethes! Yet Micio would be thought a man of TASTE. But the misfor. tune is, he has not a heart for it. I lay a heart, however odd the expression may found: for as a celebrated antient has defined an orator to be vir bonus dicendi per ritus, so I must infilt upon it, that a good heart is an essential ingredient to form a good taste. When I fee Micio, therefore, dislipating his health and strength in lewd embraces and midnight revels; when I see him throwing away over-night at the gaming-table, what he must refuse the next morning to the just clamours of his injured tradesmen; I am not the least surprized at his trimmed trees, his unnatural terraces, his French treillage, his Dutch parterres, his Chinese bells, and his tawdry equipage.
In fine, though every man cannot arrive at the perfection of this quality, yet it may be necessary that he hould be suficiently instructed, not to be deceived in his judgment concerning the claim of it in others. To this end the few following queries may be applied with fingular advantage. Is the pretender to taste proud ? Is he a coxcomb? Is he a spendthrift? Is he a gamefter ? Is he a fanderer: Is he a drunkard? Is he a bad ighbour? a sham patrioti' or a false friend : By this hort catechism every youth, even of the most flender capacity, may be capable of determining who is not a man of TASTE. I am,
Prosperity and Adversity. An Allegory.
[World, No. 84. ROSPERITY and Adversity, the daughters of
Providence, were sent to the house of a rich Phae. nician merchant, named Velasco, whose residence was at Tyre, the capital city of that kingdom.
Prosperity, the eldest, was beautiful as the morning, and chearful as the spring: but Adversity was sorrowful and ill-favoured.
Velasco had two sons, Felix and Uranio. They were both bred to commerce, though liberally educated, and had lived together from their infancy in the stricteft harmony and friendship. But love, before whom all the affections of the foul are a's the traces of a ship upon the ocean, which remain only for a moment, threatened in
an evil hour to set them at variance ; for both were become enamoured with the beauties of Prosperity. The nymph, like one of the daughters of men, gave encouragement to each by turns; but to avoid a particular declaration, she avowed a resolution never to marry, unless her sister, from whom she said it was impossible for her to be long separated, was married at the same time.
Velasco, who was no stranger to the passions of his fons, and who dreaded every thing from their violence, to prevent consequences, obliged them by his authority to decide their pretenfions by lots ; each previously engaging in a folemn oath to marry the nymph that hould fall to his share. The lots were accordingly drawn ; and Prosperity became the wife of Felix, and Adversity of Uranio.
Soon after the celebration of these nuptials Velasco died, having bequeathed to his eldest fon Felix the house wherein he dwelt, together with the greatest part of his large fortune and effects.
The husband of Prosperity was so transported with the gay disposition and enchanting beauties of his bride, that he cloathed her in gold and silver, and adorned her with jewels of inestimable value. He built a palace for her in the woods; he turned rivers into his gardens, and beautified their banks with temples and pavilions. He entertained at his table the nobles of the land, de. lighting their cars with music, and their eyes
magnificence. But his kindred he beheld as itrangers, and the companions of his youth passed by him unregarded. His brother also became hateful in his fight, and in process of time he commanded the doors of his house to be fut against him.
But as the stream flows from its channel and loses itself among the vallies, unless confined by banks, so also will the current of fortune be dissipated, unless bounded by economy. In a few years the estate of Felix was wafted by extravagance, his merchandize failed him by neglect, and his effects were seized by the merciless hands of creditors. He applied himself for support to the nobles and great men whom he had feafted and made presents to, but his voice was as the voice of
a ftranger, and they remembered not his face. The friends whom he had neglected derided him in their turn, his wife also insulted him, and turned her back upon him and fled. Yet was his heart so bewitched with her forceries, that he pursued her with entreaties, till by her hafte to abandon him, her mask fell off, and dila covered to him a face as withered and deformed, as be. fore it had appeared youthful and engaging.
What became of him afterwards tradition does not relate with certainty. It is believed that he fled into Egypt, and lived precariously on the scanty benevolence of a few friends, who had not totally deserted him, and that he died in a short time, wretched and an exile.
Let us now return to Uranio, who, as we have al. ready observed, had been driven out of doors by his brocher Felix. Adversity, though hateful to his heart, and a spectre to his eyes, was the constant attendant upon bis steps: and to aggravate his sorrow, he received certain intelligence that his richest vessel was taken by a Sardinian pirate; that another was loft upon the Lybian Syrtes, and, to compleat all, that the banker with whom the greatest part of his ready money was entrusted, had deserted his creditors and retired into Sicily. Collecting, therefore, the small remains of his fortune, he bid adieu to Tyre, and, led by Adversity through unfrequented roads, and forests overgrown with thickets, he came at last to a small village at the foot of a mountain. Here they took up their abode for some time; and Adverfity, in return for all the anxiety he had suffered, softening the severity of her looks, administered to him the most faithful counsel, weaning his heart from the immoderate love of earthly things, and teaching him to revere the Gods, and to place his whole trust and happiness in their government and protection. She humanized his soul, made him modest and humble, taught him to compassionate the distress of his fellow creatures, and inclined him to relieve them.
“ I am fent, faid she, by the Gods to those alone “ whom they love: for I not only train them up by my “ fevere discipline to future glory, but also prepare “ them to receive with a greater relish all such mode
* rate enjoyments, as are not inconsistent with this
probationary state. As the spider, when affailed, "seeks shelter in its inmost web, so the mind which I " afflict, contracts its wandering thoughts, and flies for « happiness to itself. It was I who raised the charac
ters of Cato, Socrates, and Timoleon to so divine a " height, and set them up as guides and examples to
every future age. Prosperity, my smiling, but trea"s cherous fifter, too frequently delivers those whom she " has seduced, "to be scourged by her cruel followers, “ Anguish and Despair : while Adversity never fails to “ lead those who will be instructed by her, to the bliss. “ ful habitations of Tranquillity and Content.”
Uranio listened to her words with great attention ; and as he looked earnestly on her face, the deformity of it seemed in senably to decrease. By gentle degrees his aversion to her abated ; and at last he gave
himself wholly up to her counsel and direction. She would often repeat to him the wise maxim of the philofopher, “ That those who want the fewest things, approach “ nearest to the Gods who want nothing. She admonilhed him to turn his eyes to the many thousands beneath him, instead of gazing on the few who live in pomp and splendor; and in his addresses to the Gods, instead of asking for riches and popularity, to pray for a virtuous mind, a quiet state, an unblameable life, and a death full of good hopes. - Finding him to be every day more and more composed and resigned, though neither 'enamoured of her face, nor delighted with her society, she at last addressed him in the following manner.
“ As gold is purged and refined from dross by the “ fire, fo is Adversity sent by Providence to try and
improve the virtue of mortals. The end obtained, my task is finished; and I now leave you, to go and
give an account of my charge. Your brother, whose “ lot was Prosperity, and whose condition you so much “ envied, afier having experienced the error of his “ choice, is at last released by death from the most “ wretched of lives. Happy has it been for Uranio, " that his lot was Adversity, whom if he remembers as