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In countries, where popular liberty prevails, the end of government is to establish those institutions, which tend to advance the interests of the many. Hence social order, peace, just and regular subordination, industry and plenty,pervade all the departments of the empire, and bless all ranks of people. Hence arises that spirit of honorable emulation, which produces all human improvements : it is the emulation, that incites men to press forward to approximate towards that standard of ideal excellence, which exists in the imagination, but which mere mechanical execution can never reach ; not the emulation which prompts men to rival each other in pomp and shew and the reputation of fortune ; a pitiful and a beggarly spirit of emulation which introduces into the human heart the baleful train of envy, of hatred, of malice, and of all uncharitablenes.
In such a favourable situation the range of exertion is broad and ample. The efforts of art to correct the faults, and to surpass the beauties of former models, are unwearied, incessant, and often successful ; and science, proceeding on the sure and steady ground of experiment, substitutes sound reasoning in the place of conjecture ; and erects the temple of truth on the same spot, where once vacillated the airy fabric of hypothesis. Hence, will men, gradually, and progressively advance towards the perfection of taste, that is, the general opinion of excellence, entertained by sensible and enlightened minds; for taste is the effect of superior sensibility and a raised imagination, improved by culture ; consequently the general opinion of people, who possess such minds, must be received as just, and from that opinion fixed rules of taste must be drawn; this, indeed, is the only true standard of taste, which can be raised.
But in despotic governments this emulation is destroyed; for, in countries, crippled by arbitrary power, the arts and sciences, if they exist at all, owe their existence to private patronage and encouragement, not to public favour and protection. Hence the taste of the patron becomes the standard of excellence ; and they who conform to this, are cherished, while they, who do not, are turned over to neglect and contempt. But this retards the progress of improvement, by narrowing the avenues of competition, and forcing human
ability to flow only in the channels marked out by individual whim, and private caprice, instead of suffering it to bound, at large, over the ocean's tide, fanned by the gales, and cheered by the breezes, of public patronage.
Merit must often languish in obscurity, and perish in oblivion, if its rise into notice depends upon the capricious and fluctuating munificence of patrons, rendered insolent by long continued prosperity, and vain, weak, and foolish by want of education. The unbending loftiness of genius is not likely to be found in the porticoes of princes and of lords, proffering the servile strains of interested adulation ; neither will it be seen offering up the incense of prostituted praise to the lap dogs and the parrots of ladylings and queens. It demands rather than bestows homage ; and if its energies and exertions are to be cherished, they must be cherished on the broadest and the most liberal principles of public and of governmental patronage.
The protection which the arts and sciences receive in popular governments, is far different from those, which are bestowed upon them by princes, and lords, and private patrons, witness the Lyceum, the Academy, and the Portico at Athens, which held out a noble stimulus to the exertions of all her citizens, and thus directed the stream of public ability, in one broad and ample tide, to the service of intellectual improve
In comparison with these institutions what is the boasted patronage of individuals, however exalted by rank, and however abounding in treasure ? • In the seventeenth century lived two monarchs, in Europe, who deemed themselves to be wonderful patrons of the refined arts and sciences. These were Charles the second of England, and Louis the fourteenth of France.
What precise degree of improvement the arts of statuary, of painting, and of sculpture, underwent in Charles' reign, I will not take upon me to determine. But the state of literature, during that period, bears upon its front the broad stamp of notoriety ; and we may probably be enabled from thence to draw our conclusion as to the state of the fine arts and all other intellectual exertions, all of which are usually affected by the same causes, and flourish or fade, as they
experience the genial influence of honourable encouragement, or the effects of a perverse and a distorted patronage.
That the taste of the court, at that time, poisoned all the streams of literature in their springs and in their sources, is well known, from the full tide of blasphemy and of obscenity, which the most celebrated wits (the immediate dependants and favourites of the king) of the day rolled through every corner of the kingdom.
Genius and learning are, in themselves, worse than nothing, unless they promote the progress of religion, of pure morality, of decency, of industry, and of good order in Society. Did the celebrated writers of Charles' time do this? Do the dramas of Dryden, stuffed and crammed as they are, with the coarsest smut, and the broadest libertinism, contain the precepts of wisdom, and the dictates of knowledge ; which are calculated to exalt the understanding, and to purify the heart?-Shall we become better men, shall we better know how to discharge our great and hallowed duties to ourselves, to our fellow-beings, and to our God, by perusing the pages
of Rochester, who devoted all the powers of his mind to the sole purpose of propagating the deformity of vice ; and tuned the strings of his tarnished lyre only in the service of licentiousness and of debauchery?
Of Rochester's productions I might say in the language of Persius,
.“ Non more probo; cum carmina lumbum “ Intrant, et tremulo scalpuntur ubi intima versu." “ The manner is neither good, nor respectable; when the verses, or their subjects, enter the very loins, and the marrow; and when the effeminate, the lascivious accents provoke and irritate the inmost sensations."
And of Rochester, himself, I will say, in the language of the same Saytirist, the severest writer of all antiquity.
“ Stupet hic vitio, et fibris increvit opimum
Demersus, summâ rursum non bullit in undâ.” “ He is become insensible by long habits of vice, and the heart of the wretch is waxed fat and gross; he is placed beyond the imputation of guilt, he has no character to lose ; and is plunged so deep in the mire of iniquity, that he cannot rise even to bubble on the surface of the stream of virtue."
(To be continued.)
MEN AND WOMEN:
A MORAL TALE; BY THE WANDERER.
Continued from Vol. 2, No. 1, p. 20.
DWARD's father soon after this took an opportunity
of civilly dismissing the tutor, whose mode of instruction by no means met with his approbation ; but as the tutor was
man, and knew no better, he sent him off upon a good church-living, which was in the gift of the family, and, at that time, happened to be vacant. Edward was, now,
without a tutor, and his father never afterwards suffered any one but himself to direct his son's studies. Edward's time was spent in the earnest pursuit after general literature, in walking and riding with his father, in occasional excursions into the country, and in visiting the families in the neighbourhood.
Edward had just entered his sixteenth year, when, being one day on a visit to a friend of his father, he saw a young lady, whose form and manner attracted all his attention. She was a few months older than himself; in her finely expressive countenance dignity and delicacy were most happily blended; the exquisite symmetry of her person, and the easy gracefulness of her manner pointed her out to all as an object of admiration.
Edward sate himself down by her, and took an early opportunity of paying her one of those foolish common-place compliments upon her beauty, which girls, in general, expect and receive from boys and men. Mary (for so was the
young lady called) turned towards him her dark, black, eloquent eyes, fringed with long silken lashes, and with an animated countenance, beaming intelligence, and a smile expressive of a lofty contempt said—Pray, Sir, do you consider me as an idiot, that you treat me as such? This question completely
cut Edward down; a deep crimson blush spread itself over all his countenance, and, with a faltering voice he stammered out a most awkward apology, and, during the remainder of the day, remained in confusion and in silence.
He, now and then, indeed, ventured to steal a glance at the offended fair one, and perceived so much vivacity of innocence and brilliancy of intellect sparkle over all her features, that he felt emotions, to which his heart had, hitherto, been a stranger. He was so thoroughly humbled by Mary's rebuke, that he never afterwards stooped to pay any woman a mere unmixed personal compliment; but the easy elegance of her manners, and the intelligent sprightliness of her conversation, all heightened by the mild lustre of benevolence, entirely subdued Edward's high reluctant spirit. He had, hitherto, considered females rather as toys and play-things, with which to beguile an idle hour, than as objects of serious attention to any one, who was under the superior guidance of intellectual pursuits, and had, accordingly, contented himself with that general, unmeaning politeness towards the softer and the better sex, which women claim and receive as their due, and which, as far as it relates to the heart, or to the head, amounts just exactly to nothing.
But, now, Edward's heart throbbed with the most tumultuous emotions, his nerves thrilled with sensations unutterably ecstatic; he endeavoured to speak, but his faltering tongue refused to obey his efforts. The master of the house was Mary's guardian, who observing that Edward, contrary to his usual custom, was silent, endeavoured to rally him out of, what he called, his reserve; but in vain, for Edward's confusion increased the more he endeavoured to suppress it, and he retired early from the company, and went home to his father's house.
All that night Edward knew no rest; his eye-lids neither slumbered nor slept; and the dawning of the day found all his soul in wild commotion. The next morning he called at Mary's guardian's, and found Mary alone; with his usual frankness and simplicity of manner he begged her to pardon his awkwardness and absurdity, in making so gross a blunder as to offer the incense of flattery to a young lady of her very VOL. II.