Like "sensibility" itself, "delicacy" has two interwoven
frames of reference that complicate and enrich its significance.
There is "delicacy of constitution" and "delicacy of mind," "heart," or "soul;" and each of these facets of meaning informs the other.
Thus, delicacy can describe a physical sensitivity, on the one hand--an
exceptional susceptiblity to stimuli from the senses--or it can indicate
a sensitivity (often gendered female) to social or ethical punctilios.
The refinement inherent in "delicacy" leads it sometimes to be opposed to "vulgarity." In this way the term takes on moral and socioeconomic associations as well.
"Modesty" seems less complex, and often appears as an epiphenomenon of delicacy.
a dictionary of sensibility
- George Cheyne, An Essay on Health and
Cheyne comments on three types of
- J. Donaldson,
Reflections on the Harmony of Sensibility and Reason
connections between sensibility, vitality, and moral nature.
- David Hume, "Of the Standard of Taste"
Defines delicacy in the course of his search for universal standards of
- Henry Mackenzie, Untitled Article in
The Lounger, No. 20
Attacks the sentimental novel on
- Hannah More, "On the Danger
or Romantic Connexions"
Criticizes the "sentimental girl," but
praises "true" sentiment in women.
Clarissa on Lovelace's proposal.
- Samuel Richardson,
Belford describes the dying Clarissa.
- Tobias Smollett, Humphry
Why Matt Bramble affects misanthropy.
- Tobias Smollett,
Matt Bramble's delicacy.