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Soon as the evening shades prevail,
The moon takes up the wondrous tale;
And nightly to the list’ning earth
Repeats the story of her birth ;
While all the stars that round her burn,
And all the planets in their turn,
Confirm the tidings as they roll,
And spread the truth from pole to pole.
What though in solemn silence all
Move round this dark terrestrial ball;
What though nor real voice nor sound
Amid their

radiant orbs are found ;
In reason's ear they all rejoice,
And utter forth a glorious voice,
For ever singing, as they shine,
THE HAND THAT MADE US is Divine!

CHAP. XXXVI.

TASTE.

Say what is Taste, but th' internal powers
Active and strong, and feelingly alive
To each fine impulse ? a discerning sense
Of decent and sublime, with quick disgust
From things deform'a ?

AKENSIDE.

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,
Nor purple state, nor culture, can bestow,
But God alone, when first his active hand
Imprints the sacred bias of the soul.
He, mighty Parent ! wise and just in all,

Free as the vital breeze, or light of heav'n,

Reveals the charms of nature. Ask the swain,
Who journeys homeward from a summer-day's
Long labour, why, forgetful of his toils
And due repose, he loiters to behold
The sunshine gleaming, as thro' amber clouds,
O’er all the western sky? Full soon, I ween,
His rude expression and untutor'd airs,
Beyond the pow'r of language, will unfold
The form of beauty smiling at his heart.
How lovely! how commanding !

IBID. Notwithstanding this principle is natural and general in the human species, yet much depends upon cultivation :

But tho'heaven
In every breast hath sown these early seeds
Of love and admiration, yet in vain,
Without fair culture's kind parental aid,
Without enliv'ning suns, and genial show'rs,
And shelter from the blast, in vain we hope
The tender plant should rear its blooming head,
Or yield the harvest promis'd in its spring;
Nor yet will every soil with equal stores
Repay the tiller's labour; or attend
His will obsequious, whether to produce
The olive or the laurel.

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 :

Diff'rent minds
Incline to diff'rent objects: one pursues
The vast alone, the wonderful, the wild ;
Another sighs for harmony, and grace,
And gentlest beauty. Hence, when lightning fires
The arch of heav'n, and thunders rock the ground;
When furious whirlwinds rend the howling air,
And ocean, growing from his lowest bed,
Heaves his tempestuous billows to the sky;
Amid the mighty uproar, while below
The nations tremble, Shakspeare looks abroad
From some high cliff, superior, and enjoys
The elemental war.

But Waller longs,
All on the margin of some flow'ry stream,
To spread his careless limbs amid the cool
Of plantane shades, and to the list'njng deer,

The tale of slighted vows, and love's disdain,
Resounds soft warbling all the livelong day:
Consenting Zephyr sighs; the weeping rill
Joins in his plaint melodious; mute the groves ;
And hill and dale with all their echoes mourn:-

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
Floating are lost in momentary change ;
In marble skies imagination shapes
Aerial palaces, temples superb,
The fiery dragon, or the griffin wing'd,
Beasts, birds, and trees, mountains with flying caps,
And fleets of sailing ships; till by degrees
The vision melts.

West INDIES. Again :

Sometime we see a cloud that's dragonish;
A vapour sometime, like a bear or lion,
A tower'd citadel, a pendant rock,
A forked mountain, or blue promontory
With trees upon't, that nod unto the world,
And mock our eyes with air!

SHAKSPEARE. The clouds have a most beautiful appearance at the time of sun-set :

The sun, descending from the west,
Oft hides his sinking head in clouds
Of purple tint, with golden borders fring'd.

The glorious scene what painter can express !
When, at fair evening's dusk, the setting god
O’erspreads the gilded vault with various forms
And shapes grotesque of unembody'd air.

West Indies.

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,
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven;
And, as imagination bodies forth
The form of things unknown, the poet's pen
Turns them to shape, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.

SHAKSPEARE.
All hail, ye mighty masters of the lay,
Nature's true sons, the friends of man and truth;
Whose songs, sublimely sweet, serenely gay,
Amus'd my childhood, and inform’d my youth!
Oh ! let your spirit still my bosom soothe,
Inspire my dreams, and my wild wand'rings guide;
Your voice each rugged path of life can smooth
For well I know, wherever ye reside,
There harmony, and peace, and innocence abide.

BEATTIE.

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