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can be faid of fine taste, it must ultimately be refolved into the peculiar relish of each individual. But this diverfity of fentiments will not, of itself, deftroy the evidence of the criterion; fince the fame effect may be produced by numberlefs other caufes. A thoufand accidental circumstances may concur in counteracting the force of the rule, even allowing it to be ever fo fixed and invariable, when left in its free and uninfluenced state. Not to mention that false biafs which party or perfonal dislike may fix upon the mind, the most unprejudiced critic will find it difficult to difengage himself entirely from those partial affections in favor of particular beauties, to which either the general courfe of his ftudies, or the peculiar cast of his temper, may have rendered him moft fenfible. But as perfection in any works of genius results from the united beauty and propriety of its feveral distinct parts, and as it is impoffible
any human compofition fhould poffefs all those qualities in their highest and most fovereign degree; the mind, when she pronounces judgment upon any piece of this fort, is apt to decide of its merit, as those circumstances
cumftances which the most admires, either prevail or are deficient. Thus, for instance, the excellency of the Roman mafters in painting, confists in beauty of defign, nobleness of attitude, and delicacy of expreffion; but the charms of good coloring are wanting. On the contrary, the Venetian school is faid to have neglected design a little to much; but at the fame time has been more attentive to the grace and harmony of well-difpofed lights and fhades. Now it will be admitted by all admirers of this noble art, that no compofition of the pencil can be perfect, where either of these qualities are absent; yet the most accom→ plished judge may be fo particularly ftruck with one or other of thefe excellencies,, in preference to the reft, as to be influenced in his cenfure or applause of the whole tablature, by the predominancy or deficiency of his favorite beauty. Something of this kind (where the meaner prejudices do not operate) is ever, I am perfuaded, the occafion of that diverfity of fentences which we occafionally hear pronounced by the moft improved judges, on the fame piece, But this only fhews, that much caution is
neceffary to give a fine tafte its full and unobstructed effect; not that it is in itself uncertain and precarious. I am, &c.
To PALAME DE S.
OUR refolution to decline those over
tures of acquaintance which Mezentius, it seems, has lately made to you, is agreable to the refined principles which have ever influenced your conduct. A man of your elegant notions of integrity will obferve the fame delicacy with respect to his companions, as Cæfar did with regard to his wife, and refuse all commerce with perfons even but of fufpected honor. It would not, indeed, be doing juftice to Mezentius, to represent him in that number: for tho his hypocrify has preferved to him fome few friends, and his immenfe wealth draws after him many followers, the world in gene ral are by no means divided in their fentiments concerning him.
BUT whilft you can have his picture from so many better hands, why are you defirous
defirous of feeing it by mine? It is a painful employment to contemplate human nature in its deformities; as there is nothing, perhaps, more difficult than to execute a portrait of the characteristical kind with strength and spirit. However, fince you have affigned me the task, I do not think myself at liberty to refuse it; especially as it is your intereft to fee him delineated in his true form.
MEZENTIUS, with the defigns and artifice of a Cataline, affects the integrity and patriotism of a Cato. Liberty, juftice, and honor, are words which he knows perfectly well how to apply with address; and having them always ready upon proper occafions, he conceals the blackest purposes under the fairest appearances. For void, as in truth he is, of every worthy principle, he has too much policy not to pretend to the nobleft; well knowing, that counterfeit virtues are the most successful vices. It is by arts of this kind, that notwithstanding he has fhewn himself unrestrained by the most facred engagements of fociety, and uninfluenced by the most tender affections of nature, he has ftill been able to
retain fome degree of credit in the world: for he never facrifices his honor to his intereft, that he does not, in fome lefs confiderable, but more open inftance, make a conceffion of his intereft to his honor; and thus, while he finks his character on one fide, very artfully raises it on the other. Accordingly, under pretence of the most fcrupulous delicacy of conscience, he lately refigned a post which he held under my lord Godolphin; when at the fame time he was endeavoring, by the most shamelefs artifices and evasions, to deceive and defraud a friend of mine in one of the most folemn and important transactions that can pass between man and man.
BUT will you not fufpect that I am describing a phantom of my own imagination, when I tell you after this, that he has erected himself into a reformer of manners, and is so injudiciously officious as to draw the inquiry of the world upon his own. morals, by attempting to expose the defects of others? A man who ventures publicly to point out the blemishes of his contemporaries, fhould at least be free from any uncommon stain himself, and have nothing: remarkably