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me from those few friends whom I pretend or defire to claim. General acquaintances, you know, I am not much inclined to cultivate; fo that I am at prefent, as much fecluded from fociety as if I were a fojourner in a ftrange land. Tho retirement is my dear delight, yet, upon fome occafions, I think I have too much of it; and I agree with Balzac a, que la folitude eft certainement une belle chofe mais il y a plaifir d'avoir quelqu'un qui fache repondre; à qui on puiffe dire de tems en tems, que la folitude eft une belle chofe. But I must not forget, that as I fometimes want company, you may as often wish to be alone; and that I may, perhaps, be at this inftant breaking in upon one of thofe hours which you defire to enjoy without interruption. I will only detain you therefore, whilft I add, that I am, &c.
a A very ingenious and fprightly correspondence having been published fince the appearance of the prefent Collection, under the title of A feries of genuine letters between Henry and Frances, London printed for W. Johnfton in St. Paul's Church-yard, 1757; the author of Fitzofborne's Letters cannot refift the vanity of obferving, that the tender and fenfible Frances has done him the honor to compofe one of her epiftles partly from what follows of the prefent letter to the end, and partly from fome passages taken from lett. xvi. p. 71, 72.
F that friend of
yours, whom you are defirous to add to the number of mine, were endued with no other quality than the laft you mentioned in the catalogue of his virtues; I fhould efteem his acquaintance as one of my most valuable privileges. When you affured me, therefore, of the Generosity of his difpofition, I wanted no additional motive to embrace your propofal of joining you and him at **. To fay truth, I confider a generous mind as the nobleft work of the creation, and am perfuaded, whereever it refides, no real merit can be wanting. It is, perhaps, the most fingular of all the moral endowments: I am fure at least, it is often imputed where it cannot justly be claimed. The meaneft self-love, under fome refined difguife, frequently paffes upon common obfervers for this godlike principle; and I have known many a popular action attributed to this motive, when it
flowed from no higher a fource than the fuggeftions of concealed vanity. Goodnature, as it has many features in common with this virtue, is usually mistaken for it: the former, however, is but the effect, poffibly, of a happy difpofition of the animal ftructure, or, as Dryden fomewhere calls it, of a certain" milkiness of blood;" whereas the latter is feated in the mind, and can never fubfift where good-fense and enlarged sentiments have no existence. It is entirely founded, indeed, upon juftness of thought: which, perhaps, is the reason this virtue is fo little the characteristic of mankind in general. A man, whofe mind is warped by the selfish paffions, or contracted by the narrow prejudices of fects or parties; if he does not want honefty, muft undoubtedly want understanding. The fame clouds that darken his intellectual views, obftruct his moral ones; and his generofity is extremely circumfcribed, because his reason is exceedingly limited.
IT is the distinguishing pre-eminence of the Christian fyftem, that it cherishes this elevated principle in one of its noblest exertions. Forgiveness of injuries, I confefs indeed,
indeed, has been inculcated by several of the heathen moralifts; but it never entered into the established ordinances of any religion, till it had the fanction of the great author of ours. I have often, however, wondered that the antients, who raised so many virtues and affections of the mind into divinities, should never have given a place in their temples to Generofity; unless, perhaps, they included it under the notion of FIDES or HONOS. But furely fhe might reafonably have claimed a feparate altar, and fuperior rites. A principle of honor may restrain a man from counteracting the focial ties, who yet has nothing of that active flame of generosity, which is too powerful to be confined within the humbler boundaries of mere negative duties. True generosity rises above the ordinary rules of focial conduct, and flows with much too full a ftream to be comprehended within the precife marks of formal precepts. It is a vigorous principle in the foul, which opens and expands all her virtues far beyond those which are only the forced and unnatural productions of a timid obedience. The man who is influenced fingly by motives of the latter
kind, aims no higher than at certain authoritative standards, without ever attempting to reach thofe glorious elevations, which conftitute the only true heroifm of the focial character. Religion, without this sovereign principle, degenerates into flavish fear, and wisdom into a fpecious cunning; learning is but the avarice of the mind, and wit its more pleasing kind of madness. In a word, generofity fanctifies every paffion, and adds grace to every acquifition of the foul; and if it does not neceffarily include, at least it reflects a luftre, upon the whole circle of moral and intellectual qualities.
BUT I am running into a general panegyric upon generofity, when I only meant. to acknowledge the particular inftance you have given me of yours, in being defirous of communicating to me a treasure, which I know much better how to value than how to deserve. Be affured, therefore, tho Euphronius had none of thofe polite accomplishments you enumerate, yet, after what you have informed me concerning his heart, Ifhould efteem his friendfhip of more worth than all the learning of antient Greece, and all the virtù of modern Italy. I am, &c.