Sunday, January 29, 2006


A Rule

Edmund Burke, Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs:
Different from them are all the great critics. They have taught us one essential rule. I think the excellent and philosophic artist, a true judge, as well as a perfect follower of Nature, Sir Joshua Reynolds, has somewhere applied it, or something like it, in his own profession. It is this: that, if ever we should find ourselves disposed not to admire those writers or artists (Livy and Virgil, for instance, Raphael or Michael Angelo) whom all the learned had admired, not to follow our own fancies, but to study them, until we know how and what we ought to admire; and if we cannot arrive at this combination of admiration with knowledge, rather to believe that we are dull than that the rest of the world has been imposed on.

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