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Soon as the evening shades prevail,
radiant orbs are found ;
Say what is Taste, but th' internal powers
Taste is the power which the human mind possesses of relishing the beauties of nature and art. This principle is not confined to the more polished part of mankind, but is natural to every person who possesses any degree of judgment and sensibility: it is the gift of Heaven :
This, nor gems, nor stores of gold,
Free as the vital breeze, or light of heav'n,
Reveals the charms of nature. Ask the swain,
IBID. Notwithstanding this principle is natural and general in the human species, yet much depends upon cultivation :
IBID. Taste is as infinitely various in different minds, as ure the differences of their natural organizations, and the varieties of the modes and circumstances of their education :
But Waller longs,
The tale of slighted vows, and love's disdain,
Such and so various are the tastes of men. IBID. Particular forms and colours afford unspeakable pleasure to the human mind. Nature seems to deviate in many instances from strict utility, in order to produce beauty in the objects, and admiration in the observers. Hence, instead of the straight line of convenience, we have what Hogarth calls the flexuous line of beauty. This is visible in the winding stream, the curved mountain, the curling smoke. We perceive this line of beauty in the forms of the clouds ; in the waves of the sea, in the leaves and flowers of the vegetable creation ; in the elegant form of the horse, the swan, and the dove; but more particularly in the human figure. Colours give universal pleasure. The beauties of the clouds have been a fruitful source of poetic display:-
O'er the bright firmament a thousand forms
West INDIES. Again :
Sometime we see a cloud that's dragonish;
SHAKSPEARE. The clouds have a most beautiful appearance at the time of sun-set :
The sun, descending from the west,
The glorious scene what painter can express !
True taste discovers the beauties of nature and art, the works of God, and the works of man, and is delighted with the harmony and order of the creation, and with the variety of beautiful objects presented to the view. The flowers of the field with their various hues, the animals with their comely forms and agile motions, the rugged mountains, the smooth surface or tempestuous waves of the sea, the verdant lawn, the variegated landscape, and the spangled vault of heaven, all contribute to the pleasures of Taste.
The great Lord Bacon's style of living is dwelt upon by bis contemporaries, as displaying uncommon magnificence; but the fact is, that a natural and most cultivated taste regulated every department of his mansion and establishment. In the compartments of his rooms, he had pictures painted on the walls from the stories of Grecian mythology. His garden was laid out, after the ideal pattern in his essays, with evergreens and other shrubs, to suit every month in the year. He was fond of meditating in groves, after the custom of his predecessors of antiquity; and when he sat down to studies in the house, he would often have music in the next room. He had the flowers and sweet herbs in season regularly set upon his table" to refresh his spirits,” and took such delight in being abroad among the elements, that, riding in an open carriage during the rain, he would take off his hat to let the shower come upon his head ; and say, that he seemed to feel the spirit of the universe upon him.
Poetry, painting, music, architecture, and sculpture, as well as dress, furniture, and equipage, are all subjects of Taste, and furnish it with abundant sources of pleasure and delight. It takes cognizance of all that is beautiful, pathetic, and sublime.
Such as are delighted with the great and distinguishing beauties of objects, without dwelling on their seeming deficiencies and defects, most truly enjoy the pleasure of Taste :
Right ever reigns its stated bounds between,
And Taste, like morals, loves the golden mean. The pursuits of Taste give elegance and dignity of sentiment to the human character, adorn the mind with beautiful images, and afford most delightful topics both for conversation and reflection.
The beauties of poetry cannot be estimated, nor its pleasures enjoyed, without a correspondent Taste. Poetry communicates pleasures peculiar to her province, and opens a field to Taste most extensive and fruitful :
The poet's eye, in a fine phrensy rolling,