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Cacv, without the Imputation of afiuming to himfelf the Glory of the Attainment.
A Man may certainly be qualified to defcrjbe a Character in his Clofet, though he cannot aft up to it in Life: As we often find Men well verfed in the Theory of an Art, and able to point out its feveral Excellencies, who want either Faculties or Attention to reach the Practice. The Talents are founded upon different Principles; and the one may fubfift without the other, in the higheft Perfection.
If this be not allowed •, the Poet as well as the Hiftorian, muft be poflefied of every great Quality, which he paints with Accuracy, or traces with Difcernment. Antl when we find him fuccefsful in,defcribing the Exploits of an Hero, we muft conclude, that he is himfelf no lefs expert in the military Art, and endued with equal Magnanimity. But it cannot be denied that there has been many a Writer capable of drawing up an Army, and fighting a Battle in all the Propriety and Vigour of Language, who had confefledly as little .Addrefs to conduct the one, as Courage to attempt the other in the Field of Action.—
lingua melior^ fed frigida bello Dexter a ,
And why fhould the Pofleffion of the Quality be thought more requifite in the Diiplay of Delicacy? This is fo far from appearing evident, that it leems rather to be, in fome Refpedts, a kind of difqualifying Circumftance. It is not improbable, that the fine Senfations in the Soul of him, who has attained to this high Refinement, might prevent him from doing full Juftice to his own Accomplifhments; for Delicacy is always found to withdraw itfelf from every thing that has the leaft Appearance of Vanity. But if this Obftruction could be got over; yet when it is known to be his own Picture, which he exhibits to View, it may be looked upon as the Reprefentation of Features and Lineaments heightened by Self-regard and the Biafs of a partial Judgment.
But though the Attainment of the Quality is not requifite in the Writer • , yet it is eflentially necefTary that he mould be intimately acquainted with thofe, in whom it is found to exift.
This is the Source from whence he mult draw not only the Materials for his Work, but the Ability of carrying it into Execution. For it is only by frequent Intercourfes with Men of Rank, and polite Acquirements, that he can wear himfelf into that Caft of Sentiment and Expreffion, which the Dignity of his Subject indifpenfably demands,
It has been the Author's Fortune, to be admitted into thofe high Scenes of Improvement, and to have long been honoured with the Acquaintance of Perfons, not lefs diftinguifhed by the Refinement of their Abilities, than the Eminence of their Station.
On this Foundation he builds his Hopes. On the Encouragement of fuch Advantages he refts his Apology for the Undertaking; neither vainly afiuring himfelf, that he has been able to make a right Ufe of the Opportunities, nor meanly courting the Reader's Favour, by profefllng a very low Opinion of his Performance. He choofes rather freely to confefs, he has here exerted his beft Endeavours, and entirely fubmits himfelf to the Decifion of the Public.
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If he mould be judged unequal to the Tafk; yet (he is inclined to think) the Defign may not be altogether ufelefs. Though the Plant did not thrive where it firft fprung , yet being removed to a better Soil, it maygain new Vigour, and advance to Maturity.
But whatever be the Event; it will be attended with this agreeable Reflexion •, that he has not fpent his Hours in trifling Amufements, but in Difquifitions of a ferious Nature and real Concernment to Mankind. Certainly we were intended for fome farther Satisfactions, than the Attainment of fuch Things only, as are barely neceflary to the Support of our Being. We have Faculties adapted to the Enjoyment of refined Delights: Thofe Delights muft therefore be relative to Human Life; which would prove a very infipid Pofiefiion, without this heightening Relifh of Exiftence. The animal Functions might, indeed, be carried on; but fcarce with any Joy beyond what the Brutes themfelves experience. The elegant Pleafures of Imagination, the enlivening Satisfactions of liberal Knowledge, and all the fweet EfFefts of the amiable Paffions would be entirely fet afide, and the rational Part of the :. Creation Creation abandoned to the low Employment of gratifying the coarfeft Appetites in the eoarfeft Manner. Slender and fordid would be the Intereourfes of the Friend and Companion; if Friend and Companion could then be found: Social Pleafure would degenerate into Savage Merriment; and decent Familiarity into deteftable Freedoms; were they not under the Controul and Guidance of this reftraining Quality.
But the Pleafure arifmg from the Cultivation of this Accomplifhment, is not the only Circumftance, which recommends it to our Regard: For whilft it improves our Joys, it refines our Morals* by cherifhing thofe fine Emotions in the Soul, which create an Abhorrence of every thing that is bafe and irregular, and prepare the Way for the eafrer Impreflions of Virtue and Honour. The Tafte of Beauty in the lower kind, leads naturally to the higher: And the Love of Harmony in exterior Things, is a good Step towards the Relifli of what is graceful and amiable in the inward Principles of the Heart.
Whoever^ therefore, undertakes the Caufe
of Delicacy, is engaged, at the fame Time,
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