The Garden Guide

Book: Observations on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, 1803
Chapter: Preface, Containing some observations on taste

Taste and pleasure

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Its dangerous tendency, added to its frequency, must plead my excuse for taking notice of the following vulgar mode of expression: I do not profess to understand these matters, but I know what pleases me. This may be the standard of perfection with those who are content to gratify their own taste without inquiring how it may affect others; but the man of good taste endeavours to investigate the causes of the pleasure he receives, and to inquire whether others receive pleasure also. He knows that the same principles which direct taste in the polite arts, direct the judgment in morality; in short, that a knowledge of what is good, what is bad, and what is indifferent, whether in actions, in manners, in language, in arts, or science, constitutes the basis of good taste, and marks the distinction between the higher ranks of polished society, and the inferior orders of mankind, whose daily labours allow no leisure for other enjoyments than those of mere sensual, individual, and personal gratification.