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seem to derive no pleasure from thefe exquifite performances, or who even feel a degree of dif guft or tædium from the perusal of them, the inftances are so few, that we make not the least fcruple to neglect and despise their cenfures, regarding them as men whofe minds are not framed for the perception of beauty, and who are totally incompetent to decide upon any questions relative to it. But, in reality, notwithstanding this general coincidence of opinion, when we attempt to analyfe and compare our ideas, we quickly discover, that, while we use the fame expreffions, there often fubfifts a very confiderable difference of fentiment, and that every man has erected a standard of taste and beauty in his own mind to which he has a fecret reference, though he adopts in common with others the fame vague and indeterminate expreffions of applaufe and cenfure. There are alfo a confiderable number of moderns who are generally supposed to have written in the true fpirit of the ancients. Some authors of our own nation in particular feem to poffefs all the graces of compofition in an eminent degree: to these indeed an appeal cannot be made with equal confidence as to the ancients themselves, as their literary excellence does not, in the nature of things, admit of the fame medium of proof. Nevertheless, the names of fome in every department of literature might easily be enumerated, whofe writings will, I doubt not, charm through diftant ages. Were I called upon to name the author who has most


fuccessfully transfused the beauties of the ancients into his own performances, perhaps I fhould fix upon Mr. Hume, and I imagine that his fuperior merit in point of Stile will be as generally acknow. ledged as that of any writer of modern times: but I own, that when I attempt to trace the causes of thofe emotions of admiration which I involuntarily feel, I am unable to afcertain them with any degree of precifion. Not long fince, however, I recollect to have heard a certain modern hiftory of Greece pronounced fuperior in point of Stile to Hume's History of England. This decifion I ventured to controvert, affirming, in behalf of Mr. Hume, that his Stile was remarkably clear and perfpicuous; that it united both eafe and dignity; that his diction was polite, his periods harmonious, and his metaphors moft happily felected and applied; whereas the Stile of the Grecian historian, though free from grofs vulgarifms, and not deftitute of harmony, was in other respects wretchedly defective. It is at the fame time inflated and languid; it is infufferably pompous and verbose; and the continual effort. he makes to reach a ftately and elevated diction, is frequently fo ftrained, as to carry him to the very borders of burlesque: and the multiplicity of metaphors which he thinks it neceffary to use, in order to raise and adorn his Stile, have as little pretenfion to real elegance as the coloured glafs beads with which an Indian chieftain delights to decorate his perfon. It is very probable, that had "Durfey's poetry or Bunyan's profe" been


the fubject of debate, we fhould have found ourfelves equally at variance; and yet I doubt not but we were perfectly agreed in the general, that a good Stile confifted of" proper words in proper places: but the misfortune is, that it feems impoffible to determine upon any fixed principles, what are proper words, and where the proper places. I once heard it obferved, with no lefs juftice than wit, that Swift's definition of a good Stile conveyed in it as little real meaning as if a telescope were defined to be an inftrument confisting of proper glaffes in proper places; and yet Swift knew as well as any man the difference between a good and a bad Stile, and if it was capable of being defined as capable of defining it.

Hume, I think, truly observes, that the first elegant profe in our language was written by Swift. Mr. Melmoth indeed inclines to pay that compliment to Sir William Temple, but with little reafon. Sir William Temple is certainly a name to which it is difficult not to be partial. He was at once a man of fashion, a man of letters, and a man of business; and in each of these different characters he excelled. But if we confider him merely as a model of elegant compofition, he is by no means entitled to the encomiums of fo able a critic as Mr. Melmoth. In fact, I fufpect that we are in regard to this point a little imposed upon, and that our judgments are infenfibly influenced and biaffed by certain circumstances to which we do not immediately advert. In reading the works of


Sir William Temple, we plainly perceive that he was a man perfectly converfant with the great world. We know that he was a man of the politeft manners and addrefs, and his mode of writing is free, eafy, and amufing, without any tincture of affectation or pedantry; fo that we eafily perfuade ourselves that his Stile is graceful; and his folecifms, his uncouth periods, and aukward phrases, pass for the cafual flips of an elegant but careless writer. I have at this moment before me a volume of Sir William Temple's works, containing a variety of tracts, any one of which will furnish abundant proofs of the justice of this remark. I fhall felect a few inftances from his confolatory epiftle to the Countefs of Effex upon the lofs of her only daughter. After making fome apologies for not answering at a more early period a letter he had received from her Ladyship, he adds, "Your Ladyfhip at least has had the advantage of being thereby excused some time "from this trouble, which I could no longer for"bear upon the fenfible wounds that have fo often "of late been given your friends here by fuch


defperate expreffions in feveral of your letters," &c. To fay nothing of the inelegant conftruction of the whole fentence, What should we now think of a writer who fhould talk of fenfible

wounds given by defperate expreffions? "God "Almighty gave you all the bleffings of life, and 86 you fet your heart wholly upon one, and defpife "and undervalue all the reft; is this his fault or "yours?"


yours?" The fault of God is a mode of speech which the delicacy, if not the devotion, of modern critics would not easily pardon. "A friend "makes me a feaft, and fets all before me that his ર care or kindness could provide; but I fet my heart દર upon one dish alone, and if that happen to be "thrown down, I scorn all the reft; and though he "fends for another of the fame, yet I rife from the "table in a rage, and fay, my friend is my enemy, "and has done me the greatest wrong in the world. "Have I reason, Madam, or good grace, in what I "do?" This illuftration has little to boast of in point of juftness of thought; and it is very defective in dignity and decorum; particularly in the circumftance of fending for another dish of the jame, as he phrafes it; and the vulgarity of the language perfectly accords with the groffness of the ideas. Again: "Paffions are the stings "without which they fay no honey is made; "yet I think all forts of men have ever agreed they ought to be our fervants, and not our masters; to 66 give us fome agitation for entertainment or ex"ercife, but never to throw reafon out of its feat ;" fo that it seems our paffions may at once be compared and bear an equal refemblance to "bees, fervants, and horfes." This reminds one of the happy ductility of Polonius, who allows that the fame cloud is very like an ouzle, very like a camel, and very like a whale. Once more: "How "has my Lord of Effex deferved, that you fhould



go about to lose him a wife he loves with so much "paffion, and, which is more, with so much reason;



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