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AM particularly pleased with a paffage in Homer, wherein Jupiter is reprefented as taking off his eyes, with a fort of fatiety, from the horror of the field of battle, and relieving himself with a view of the Hippomolgi; a people famous, it seems, for their innocence and fimplicity of manners. It is in order to practise the fame kind of experiment, and give myself a short remiffion from that scene of turbulence and contention in which I am engaged, that I now turn my thoughts on you, Philotes, whofe temperance and moderation may well justify me in calling a modern Hippomolgian.
I FORGET which of the antients it is, that recommends this method of thinking over the virtues of one's acquaintance: but I am fure it is fometimes neceffary in order to keep one's felf in humor with our fpecies, and preferve the spirit of philanthropy from being entirely extinguished. Those who frequent the ambitious walks of life, are apt to take their estimate of man
kind from the fmall part of it that lies before them, and confider the reft of the world as practising in different and under-parts, the fame treachery and diffimulation which marks out the characters of their fuperiors. It is difficult indeed to preferve the mind from falling into a general contempt of our race, whilft one is converfant with the worst part of it. I labor, however, as much as poffible, to guard against that ungenerous difpofition; as nothing is fo apt to kill thofe feeds of benevolence which every man fhould endeavour to cultivate in his breast.
ILL furely, therefore, have those wits employed their talents, who have made our fpecies the object of their fatire, and affected to fubdue the vanity, by derogating from the virtues, of the human heart. But it will be found, I believe, upon an impartial examination, that there is more folly than malice in our natures, and that mankind oftner act wrong through ignorance than defign. Perhaps the true measure of human merit is neither to be taken from the hiftories of former times, nor from what paffes in the more striking scenes of the present generation. The greatest virtues have, probably, Z 3
been ever the most obscure; and, I am perfuaded, that in all ages of the world more genuine heroism has been overlooked and unknown, than either recorded or obferved. That aliquid divinum, as Tully calls it, that celestial spark which every man, who coolly contemplates his own mind, may difcover within him, operates where we least look for it, and often raises the noblest productions of virtue in the shade and obfcurity of life.
BUT it is time to quit fpeculation for action, and return to the common affairs of the world. I fhall certainly do fo with more advantage, by keeping Philotes ftill in my view; as I fhall enter into the interefts of mankind with more alacrity, by thus confidering the virtues of his honeft heart as lefs fingular than I am fometimes inclined to suppose. Adieu,
To the fame.
Aug. 3, 1735.
ET it not be any difcouragement to you, Philotes, that you have hither
to received but little fatisfaction from those noble speculations wherein you are employed. "Truth (to use the expreffion of the excellent Mr. Wollafton) "is the offspring " of unbroken meditations, and of thoughts " often revised and corrected." It requires indeed great patience and refolution to diffipate that cloud of darkness which furrounds. her; or (if you will allow me to go to an old philofopher for my allufion) to draw her up from that profound well in which she lies concealed.
THERE is, however, fuch a general connexion in the operations of nature, that the discovery even of a single truth opens the way to numberless others; and when once the mind has hit upon a right scent, fhe cannot wholly purfue her inquiries in vain:
Canes ut montivaga perfæpe ferai
IT must be owned nevertheless, that, after having exerted all our fagacity and industry, we shall scarce arrive at certainty in many fpeculative truths. Providence does not feem to have intended that we should ever be in poffeffion of demonftrative knowledge, beyond a very limited compass; tho at the fame time it cannot be supposed, without the highest injustice to the benevolent Author of our natures, that he has left any neceffary truths without evident notes of diftinction. But while the powers of the mind are thus limited in their extent, and greatly fallible likewife in their operations, is it not amazing, Philotes, that mankind fhould infult each other for difference in opinion, and treat every notion that opposes their own, with obloquy and contempt? Is it not amazing that a creature with talents