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March 10, 1731.
HILE yet no am'rous youths around thee bow,
Nor flatt'ring verfe conveys the faithless vow; To graver notes will Sappho's foul attend, And ere the hears the lover, hear the friend? LET maids lefs blefs'd employ their
To reign proud tyrants o'er unumber'd hearts;
May Sappho learn (for nobler triumphs born)
Those little conquefts of her fex to scorn. To form thy bofom to each gen'rous deed; To plant thy mind with ev'ry useful seed; Be these thy arts: nor fpare the grateful toil, Where nature's hand has blefs'd the happy foil.
So fhalt thou know, with pleafing skill, to blend
The lovely mistress and instructive friend : So fhalt thou know, when unrelenting time Shall spoil those charms yet op'ning to their prime,
2 A young lady of thirteen years of age.
To ease the lofs of beauty's tranfient flow'r, While reafon keeps what rapture gave before. And oh! while wit, fair dawning, spreads its ray,
Serenely rifing to a glorious day,
To hail the growing luftre oft be mine, Thou early fav'rite of the facred Nine ! AND fhall the Mufe with blamclefs boaft pretend,
In youth's gay bloom that Sappho call'd me friend:
That urg'd by me she shun'd the dang'rous
Where heedless maids in endless error ftray;
That fond to reach the diftant paths of fame, I taught her infant genius where to aim? Thus when the feather'd choir first tempt the fky,
And, all unfkill'd, their feeble pinions try, Th' experienc'd fire prefcribes th' adventrous height,
young wing, and pleas'd attends the flight.
To PHIDIPPU S.
ES, Phidippus, I entirely agree with
you: the antients most certainly had much loftier notions of Friendship, than seem to be generally entertained at present. But may they not justly be confidered on this fubject, as downright enthusiasts ? Whilst indeed they talk of friendship as a virtue, or place it in a rank little inferior, I can admire the generous warmth of their fentiments; but when they go fo far as to make it a serious question, whether justice herself ought not in fome particular cases to yield to this their fupreme affection of the heart; there, I confefs, they leave me far behind.
If we had not a treatise extant upon the fubject, we should scarce believe this fact upon the credit of thofe authors who have delivered it down to us: but Cicero himfelf has ventured to take the affirmative fide of this debate in his celebrated dialogue infcribed Lælius. He followed, it seems, in this notion the fentiments of the Grecian
Theophraftus, who publicly maintained the fame astonishing theory.
It must be confeffed, however, these admirers of the falfe fublime in friendship talk upon this fubject with fo much caution and in fuch general terms, that one is inclined to think they themselves a little fuspected the validity of thofe very principles they would inculcate. We find, at least, a remarkable inftance to that purpose, in a circumftance related of Chilo, one of those famous fages who are diftinguished by the pompous title of the wife men of Greece.
THAT celebrated philofopher, being upon his death-bed, addreffed himself, we are informed, to his friends who ftood round him, to the following effect: "I cannot, thro "the course of a long life, look back with "uneasiness upon any fingle instance of my " conduct, unless, perhaps, on that which "I am going to mention; wherein, I con"fefs, I am still doubtful whether I acted "as I ought, or not. I was once appoint"ed judge in conjunction with two others, "when my particular friend was arraign"ed before us: Were the laws to have "taken their free course, he must inevi"tably
er tably have been condemned to die. Af"ter much debate therefore with myself, « I refolved upon this expedient: I gave my own vote according to my confcience, but at the fame time employed "all my eloquence to prevail with my af"fociates to absolve the criminal. Now I "cannot but reflect upon this act with concern, as fearing there was fomething of
perfidy, in perfuading others to go counter to what I myself esteemed right."
Ir does not, certainly, require any great depth of cafuiftry to pronounce upon a cafe of this nature. And And yet, had Tully, that great master of reafon, been Chilo's confeffor upon this occafion, it is very plain he would have given him absolution; to the just scandal of the most ignorant curate that ever lulled a country village.
WHAT I have here obferved, will fuggeft if I mistake not, a very clear answer to the question you propofe; "Whence it "should happen, that we meet with in"ftances of friendship among the Greeks "and Romans, far fuperior to any thing of "the fame kind which modern times have produced?" For while the greateft geK 2