« PreviousContinue »
citizens of Mytilene ftamped the image of Sappho upon their public coin. Anacreon received a folemn invitation to spend his days at Athens; and Hipparchus, the son of Pififtratus, fitted out a fplendid veffel in order to transport him thither: and when Virgil came into the theatre at Rome, the whole audience rose up and faluted him with the same respect as they would have paid to Auguftus himself.
PAINTING, one should imagine, has the fairest pretenfions of rivalling her fifterart in the number of admirers; and. yet, where Apelles is mentioned once, Homer is celebrated a thousand times. Nor can this be accounted for by urging that the works of the latter are still extant, while those of the former have perished long fince: for is not Milton's paradife loft more univerfally efteemed, than Raphael's cartoons?
THE truth, I imagine, is, there are more who are natural judges of the harmony of numbers, than of the grace of proportions. One meets with but few who have not, in fome degree at least, a tolerable ear: but a judicious eye is a far more uncommon poffeffion. For as words are the univerfal me
dium which all men employ in order to convey their fentiments to each other; it feems a juft confequence that they should be more generally formed for relishing and judging of performances in that way: whereas the art of reprefenting ideas by means of lines and colors, lies more out of the road of common ufe, and is therefore less adapted to the taste of the general run of mankind.
I HAZARD this obfervation, in the hope' of drawing from you your fentiments upon a fubject, in which no man is more qualified to decide; as indeed it is to the converfation of Orontes that I am indebted for the discovery of many refined delicacies in the imitative arts, which, without his judicious affiftance, would have lain concealed to me with other common obfervers. Adieu.
AM by no means furprized that the interview you have lately had with Cleanthes, has given you a much lower idea of his abilities, than what you had before conceived: and fince it has raised your curiofity to know my opinion of his character; you shall have them with all that freedom you may justly expect.
I HAVE always then confidered Cleanthes as poffeffed of the most extraordinary talents: but his talents are of a kind, which can only be exerted upon uncommon occafions. They are formed for the greatest depths of business and affairs; but absolutely out of all size for the shallows of ordinary life. In circumftances that require the most profound reasonings, in incidents that demand the most penetrating politics; there Cleanthes would fhine with fupreme luftre. But view him in any fituation inferior to these; place him where he cannot raise admiration, and he will most probably fink into contempt. Cleanthes, in short,
wants nothing but the addition of certain minute accomplishments; to render him a finished character: but being wholly deftitute of those little talents which are neceffary to render a man useful or agreable in the daily commerce of the world, those great abilities which he poffeffes, lie unobserved or neglected.
He often indeed gives one occafion to reflect how neceffary it is to be master of a fort of under qualities, in order to set off and recommend those of a superior nature. To know how to defcend with grace and ease into ordinary occafions, and to fall in with the less important parties and purposes of mankind, is an art of more general influence, perhaps, than is usually imagined.
If I were to form a youth therefore for the world I should certainly endeavor to cultivate in him thofe fecondary qualifications; and train him up to an address in thofe lower arts, which render a man agreable in converfation, or useful to the innocent pleafures and accomodations of life. A general kill and taste of this kind with moderate abilities, will in moft inftances, I believe, prove more fuccessful in the world,
than a much higher degree of capacity without them. I am, &c.
July 17, 1730.
F the temper and turn of Timanthes had not long prepared me for what has happened, I fhould have received your account of his death with more furprize; but I fufpected from our earliest acquaintance, that his fentiments and difpofition would lead him into a fatiety of life, much sooner than nature would probably carry him tọ the end of it. When unfettled principles fall in with a conftitutional gloominess of mind, it is no wonder the tædium vita fhould gain daily ftrength, till it pushes a man to feek relief against the most defperate of all diftempers, from the point of a fword, or the bottom of a river,
BUT to learn to accommodate our tafte to that portion of Happiness which Providence has fet before us, is of all the lessons of philosophy furely the moft neceffary.