« PreviousContinue »
to find one so low in feeling, as not to be capable of instruction. And yet, to refine our taste with respect to beauties of art or of nature, is scarce endeavoured in any seminary of learning ; a lamentable defect, considering how early in life taste is susceptible of culture, and how difficult to reform it if unhappily perverted. To furnish materials for supplying that defect, was an additional motive for the present undertaking;
To promote the Fine Arts in Britạin, has become of greater importance than is generally imagined. A flourishing commerce begets opulence ; and opulence, inflaming our appetite for pleasure, is commonly vented on luxury, and on every sensual gratification : Selsfihness rears its head; becomes fashion
1 able; and, infecting all ranks, extinguishes the amor patria, and every spark of public spirit. To prevent or to retard such fatal corruption, the genius of an Alfred cannot devise any means more efficacious, then the venting opulence upon the Fine Arts: riches sq employed, instead of encouraging vice, will excite both public and private virtue. Of this happy effect, ancient Greece furnishes one shining instance; and why should we despair of another in Britain ?
In the commencement of an auspicious reign, and even in that early period of life when pleasure commonly is the sole pursuit, your Majesty has uniformly displayed to a delighted people, the noblest
principles, ripened by early culture; and, for that reason, you will be the more disposed to favor every rational plan for advancing the art of training up youth. Among the many branches of education, that which tends to make deep impressions of virtue, ought to be a fundamental object in a well-regulated government : for depravity of manners will render ineffectual the most salutary laws; and, in the midst of opulence, what other means to prevent such depravity but early and virtuous discipline? The British discipline is susceptible of great improvements ; and, if we can hope for them, it must be from a young and accomplished Prince, eminently sensible of their importance. To establish a complete system of education, seems reserved by Providence for a sovereign who commands the hearts of his subjects. Success will crown the undertaking, and endear GEORGE THE THIRD to our latest posterity:
The most elevated and most refined pleasure of human nature, is enjoyed by a virtuous Prince governing a virtuous people ; and that, by perfecting the great system of education, your Majesty may very long enjoy this pleasure, is the ardent wish of
THE THIRD EDITION.
PRINTING, by multiplying copies at will, affords to writers great opportunity of receiving instruction from every quarter. The author of this treatise, having always been of opinion that the general taste is seldom wrong, was resolved from the beginning to submit to it with entire resignation : its severest disapprobation might have incited him to do better, but never to complain. Finding now the judgment of the public to be favourable, ought he not to draw satisfaction from it? He would be devoid of sensibility were he not greatly satisfied. Many criticisms have indeed reached his ear ; but
; they are candid and benevolent, if not always just. Gratitude, therefore, had there been no other motive, must have roused his utmost industry, to clear this edition from all the defects of the former, so far as suggested by others, or discovered by himself. In a work containing many particulars, both new and
abstruse, it was difficult to express every article with sufficient perspicuity; and, after all the pains bestowed, there remained certain passages which are ge-. nerally thought obscure. The author, giving an attentive ear to every censure of that kind, has, in the present edition, renewed his efforts to correct every defect: and he would gladly hope that he has not been altogether unsuccessful. The truth is, that a writer, who must be possessed of the thought before he can put it into words, is but ill qualified to judge whether the expression be sufficiently clear to others; in that particular, he cannot avoid the taking on him to judge for the reader, who can much better judge for himself.