« PreviousContinue »
fecerunt. Agreably to this principle, the Roman hiftorian of the life of Alexander, describes that monarch, after having killed his friend Clitus, as confidering, in his cool moments, whether the gods had not permitted him to be guilty of that horrid act, in punishment for his irreligious neglect of their facred rites. And Juvenal a imputes the fource of that torrent of vice which
broke in upon the in which he wrote, to the general disbelief that prevailed of the public doctrines of their established religion. Those tenets, he tells us, that influenced the glorious conduct of the Curii, the Scipios, the Fabricii, and the Camilli, were, in his days, fo totally exploded, as fcarce to be received even by children. It were well for fome parts of the Chriftian world, if the fame obfervation might not with justice be extended beyond the limits of antient Rome: and I often reflect upon the very judicious remark of a great writer of the last century, who takes notice, that "the generality of Chriftendom is now "well-nigh arrived at that fatal condition, which immediately preceded the de
a Sat. II. 149.
"struction of the worship of the antient "world; when the face of religion in "their public affemblies, was quite differ"ent from that apprehenfion which men "had concerning it in private."
NOTHING, moft certainly, could lefs plead the fanction of reason, than the general rites of pagan worship. Weak and abfurd, however, as they were in themselves, and indeed in the estimation too of all the wiser fort; yet the more thinking and judicious part, both of their statesmen and philofophers, unanimously concurred in fupporting them as facred and inviolable: well perfuaded, no doubt, that religion is the ftrongest cement in the great ftructure of moral government. I am, &c.
LOOK upon every day wherein I have not fome communication with my Cleora, as a day loft; and I take up my pen every afternoon to write to you, as regularly
regularly as I drink my tea, or perform any the like important article of my life.
I FREQUENTLY bless the happy art that affords me a means of conveying myself to you at this distance, and, by an easy kind of magic, thus tranfports me to your parlor at a time when I could not gain admittance by any other method. Of all people in the world, indeed, none are more obliged to this paper commerce, than friends and lovers. It is by this they elude, in fome degree, the malevolence of fate, and can enjoy an intercourse with each other, tho the Alps themselves should rife up between them. Even this imaginary participation of your fociety is far more pleafing to me, than the real enjoyment of any other converfation the whole world could fupply, The truth is, I have loft all relish for any but yours; and if I were invited to an af fembly of all the wits of the Augustan age, or all the heroes that Plutarch has celebrated, I should neither have fpirits nor curiofity to be of the party. Yet with all this indolence or indifference about me, I would take a voyage as far as the pole to fup with Cleora on a lettuce, or only to hold the bowl
while fhe mixed the fyllabub. Such happy evenings I once knew: ah Cleora! will they never return? Adieu.
HAVE red the performance you com
municated to me with all the attention you required; and I can with strict sincerity apply to your friend's verfes, what an antient has observed of the fame number of Spartans who defended the paffage of Thermopyla; nunquam vidi plures trecentos ! Never, indeed, was there greater energy of language and sentiment united together in the fame compass of lines: and it would be an injustice to the world, as well as to himself, to fupprefs fo animated and fo ufeful a compofition.
A SATIRIST of true genius, who is warmed by a generous indignation of vice, and whofe cenfures are conducted by candor and truth, merits the applause of every friend to virtue. He may be confidered as a fort of fupplement to the legif
lative authority of his country; as affifting the unavoidable defects of all legal inftitutions for regulating of manners, and ftriking terror even where the divine prohibitions themselves are held in contempt. The strongest defence, perhaps, against the inroads of vice, among the more cultivated part of our species, is well directed ridicule: they who fear nothing else, dread to be marked out to the contempt and indignation of the world. There is no fucceeding in the fecret purposes of dishonesty, without preferving fome fort of credit among mankind; as there cannot exist a more impotent creature than a knave convict. expose, therefore, the falfe pretenfions of counterfeit virtue, is to difarm it at once of all power of mischief, and to perform a public fervice of the most advantageous kind, in which any man can employ his time and his talents. The voice, indeed, of an honest satirift is not only beneficial to the world, as giving an alarm against the defigns of an enemy fo dangerous to all focial inercourse; but as proving likewife the most efficacious preventive to others, of affuming the fame character of distinguished