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and exercised, like well appointed cavaliers, expert in arms, and well instructed in the use of their weapon and the management of their steed. For to be well accoutred and well mounted is not sufficient. The horse can never make the horseman, nor the limbs the wrestler or the dancer. No more can a genius alone make a poet, or good parts a writer, in any considerable kind. The skill and grace of writing is founded, as Horace tells us, in knowledge and good sense; and not barely in that knowledge, which is to be learnt from common authors, or the general conversation of the world, but from those particular rules of art, which philosophy alone exhibits.
REFINEMENT IN THE ARTS.
LUXURY is a word of an uncertain signification, and may be taken in a good as well as a bad sense. In general it means great refinement in the gratification of the senses; and any degree of it may be innocent or blamable, according to the age, country, or condition of the person. The bounds between the virtue and the vice cannot here be exactly fixed, more than in any other moral subject. To imagine, that the gratifying of any sense, or the indulging of any delicacy in meat, drink, or apparel, is of itself a vice, can never enter into a head that is not disordered by the frenzies of enthusiasm. These indulgencies are only vices, when they are pursued at the expence of some other virtue, as liberality or charity; in like manner as they are
follies, when for them a man ruins his fortune, and reduces himself to want and beggary. Where they trench upon no virtue, but leave ample subject to provide for friends, family, and every proper object of generosity or compassion, they are entirely innocent, and have in every age been acknowledged as such by almost all moralists. To be entirely occupied with the luxury of the table, for instance, without any relish for the pleasures of ambition, study, or conversation, is a mark of stupidity, and is incompatible with any vigour of temper or genius. To confine one's expence entirely to such a gratification without regard to friends or family, is an indication of a heart destitute of humanity or benevolence. But if a man reserve time sufficient for all laudable pursuits, and money sufficient for all generous purposes, he is free from every shadow of blame or reproach.
Since luxury may be considered either as innocent or blameable, one may be surprised at those preposterous opinions which have been entertained concerning it, while men of libertine principles bestow praises even on vicious luxury, and represent it as highly advantageous to society; and on the other hand, men of severe morals blame even the most innocent luxury, and represent it as the source of all the corrup
tions, disorders and factions incident to civil government. We shall here endeavour to correct both these extremes, by proving first, that the ages of refinement are both the happiest and most virtuous; secondly, that whenever luxury ceases to be innocent, it also ceases to be beneficial; and when carried a degree too far, is a quality pernicious, though perhaps not the most pernicious, to political society.
To prove the first point, we need but consider. the effects of refinement both in private and public life. Human happiness, according to the most received notions, seems to consist in three ingredients, action, pleasure, and indolence; and though these ingredients ought to be mixed in different proportions, according to the particular disposition of the person, yet no one ingredient can be entirely wanting, without destroying, in some measure, the relish of the whole composition. Indolence or repose, indeed, seems not of itself to contribute much to our enjoyment; but like sleep is requisite as an indulgence to the weakness of human nature, which cannot support an uninterrupted course of business or pleasure. That quick march of the spirits which takes a man from himself, and chiefly gives satisfaction, does in the end exhaust the mind, and requires some intervals of repose, which though
agreeable for a moment, yet if prolonged beget a languor and lethargy that destroys all enjoy
Education, custom, and example, have a mighty influence in turning the mind to any of these pursuits; and it must be owned, that where they promote a relish for action and pleasure, they are so far favourable to human happiness. In times when industry and the arts flourish, men are kept in perpetual occupation, and enjoy, as their reward, the occupation itself, as well as those pleasures which are the fruit of their labour. The mind acquires new vigour, enlarges its powers and faculties; and by an assiduity in honest industry, both satisfies its natural appetites, and prevents the growth of unnatural ones, which commonly spring up, when nourished by ease and idleness. Banish those arts from society, you deprive men both of action and of pleasure; and leaving nothing but indolence in their place, you even destroy the relish of indolence, which never is agreeable, but when it succeeds to labour, and recruits the spirits exhausted by too much application and fatigue.
Another advantage of industry and of refinements in the mechanical arts is, that they commonly produce some refinements in the liberal;