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in the ftudious Hour, or in the Company of meaner Spirits.
Thefe, My Lord, are fome of the Advantages, which Men of elevated Character and refined Genius, communicate to him who is honoured with their Intimacy, and whofe Mind is fufceptible of the Impreffions. They raife him, as it were, above himfelf, giving him to enjoy fome Share of their Spirit, and darting a Light into his Breaft, from that Fire which enflames their own
Quafi lumen de famine fuo accendunt.
If, under the Incitement of thefe animating Influences, he mould try to difplay the Beauties of Delicacy; the Greatnefs of the Encouragement may, in fome meafure, juftify the Boldnefs of the Attempt; though it will be far from excufing the unfuccefsful Execution. And mould he happen not to fail; he can claim no other Merit, but that of a faithful Relator- , fince his Pretenfions go no farther, than to give them back the Images of their own Minds.
With this View the following Essay was undertaken; which is here, with a warm Senfe of Gratitude, addrefled ta Your Lordship; whofe Indulgence lifted me up to that Experience of Life, and Obfervation on Tafte and Manners, which gave Birth to this Defign, fupplied me with Materials, and was the only Foundation, on which I could build any Hopes of Succefs.
I am, My Lori>, with the utmoft Deference and Refpei5t,
and moft obliged
AMIDST the Variety of Gompofitions, with which 4the Learned of this Nation have enriched the Republic of Letters, we ftill want a Treatife upon that Quality, which gives the finifhing Touches to the Culture of the Underftanding, and diffufes the fineft Delights through the Commerce of Human Life.
Though in the celebrated Performances of our moft elegant Writers, we meet with many mafterly Strokes, and beautiful Obfervations upon it; yet lying widely fcattered in various intermitted Speculations, they have not that Efficacy, which refults from a regular Plan connected Syftem.
But if all that occurs were brought into one entire View, and ranged in the beft Order; many Things would ftill be wanting to complete the Work, and give us that Fulnefs of Satisfaction, which we mould have received,
had had they entered profefiedly upon the Subjeft. Therefore, as it is impoffible not to admire what they have done; it is natural to wifh they had done more, and anticipated the Neceffity of any farther Enquiries.
This Omiffion, it has been faid, was owing to an Opinion, for fome Time too fuccefsfully propagated — That He only, who had attained the high Accomplifhment, was equal to the Tafk; and that to undertake the Subject, carried with it an Air of arrogating the Character. This was an Obftruction not to be furmpunted by the cautious Candidate for literary Fame; fince the very Attempt to obtain, muft unavoidably fruftrate his Hopes of public Approbation.
If the Author of the following Essay had been perfuaded, either that this Opinion had any Foundation in Truth, or was ftill generally received; the fame reftraining Confiderations would have kept him in the fame Bounds. But fince he finds it has now no longer the Countenance of Numbers, and is fatisfied it never had the Authority of Reafon, he hopes he may endeavour to explain the Nature, and illuitrate the Beauties of Delit