This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 of the well bred by discreet drafts upon the burry, homely, sententious, proverbial language of the people. Like Lord Bacon and like many other grave men among his fellow-countrymen, he found it difficult to avoid an opportunity for a jest even when the occasion was unpropitious; and he never sat below the Attic salt. When his fortune was made, he put by the pewter spoon and bowl of his apprenticeship; his biographers remind us that he kept a well stocked cellar at Passy and enjoyed the distinction of suffering from the gout. With affluence and years he acquired a “palate,” and gave a little play to the long repressed tastes of an Epicurean whom early destiny had cast upon a rock-bound coast. The literary expression of his autumnal festivity is to be found in the bagatelles. The Ephemera proves that this great eighteenth-century rationalist had a fancy. It is no relative, indeed, of that romantic spirit which pipes to the whistling winds on the enchanted greens of Shakespeare. It is rather the classic Muse of eighteenth-century art which summons the rosy Loves and Desires to sport among the courtiers and philosophers and the wasp-waisted ladies in a fete champetre or an Embarkment for Cythera of Watteau. The tallow chandler's son who enters on the cycle of his development by cultivating thrift with Defoe, continues it by cultivating tolerance and philanthropy with Voltaire, and completes it with Lord Chesterfield by cultivating “the graces.”
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.