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THE AUTHOR'S LIFE.
Henry Home, a Scotch judge, was born at Kames, in the county of Berwick, in 1696. He was bound to a writer of the signet, but by diligent study he became an advocate. In 1728 he published“ Remarkable Decisions in the Court of Session;" and, in 1732, “ Essays upon several Subjects in Law," which added greatly to his reputation. In 1741 he printed, in two volumes, folio, the “Decisions of the Court of Session," in the form of a dictionary ; and, in 1747, “ Essays upon several Subjects concerning British Antiquities.” His next work was “Essays on the Principles of Morality and Natural Religion.” In 1752 he was made a judge of the court of session, when he took the title of lord Kames. He was also appointed one of the trustees for the encouragement of the fisheries, arts, and manufactures; and a commissioner for the management of the forfeited estates. Notwithstanding these engagements, he published “ The Statute Law of Scotland abridged;" which was followed by “Historical Law Tracts;" and " The Principles of Equity." In 1761 appeared his “ Introduction to the Art of Thinking,” intended for youth ; and the next year came out his “ Elements of Criticism,” 3 vols. 8vo. In 1763 he was appointed one of the lords of justiciary: but he still continued his literary labours, and in 1774, published, in 2 vols. 4to., “ Sketches of the History of Man." In 1776 he printed " The Gentleman Farmer, or an Attempt to improve Agriculture by subjecting it to the Test of rational Principles.” His last work was entitled “ Loose Hints on Education;" composed in his eighty-fifth year. He died Dec. 27, 1782. Besides the works above enumerated, he published some others on legal subjects.
TO THE KING.
The Fine Arts have ever been encouraged by wise Princes, not singly for private amusement, but for their beneficial influence in society. By uniting different ranks in the same elegant pleasures, they promote benevolence ; by cherishing love of order, they enforce submission to government; and by inspiring delicacy of feeling, they make regular government a double blessing.
These considerations embolden me to hope for your Majesty's patronage in behalf of the following work, which treats of the Fine Arts, and attempts to form a standard of taste, by unfolding those principles that ought to govern the taste of every individual.
It is rare to find one born with such delicacy of feeling, as not to need instruction : it is equally rare to find one so low in feeling, as not to be capable of instruction. And yet, to refine our taste with respect to the 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 Britain 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 : selfishness rears'its head, becomes fashionable, and, infecting all ranks, extinguishes the amor patriæ, 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 than the venting opulence upon the Fine Arts; riches so 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 favour every rational plan for advancing the arts 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
PREFACE TO THE SECOND 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 generally 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.