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religion, to be a very neceffary turn of mind; as indeed it is a vein which nature feems to have marked with more or lefs ffrength in the tempers of moft men. No matter what the object is, whether bufinefs, pleasures, or the fine arts; whoever pursues them to any purpose must do fo con amore and inamoratos, you know, every kind, are all enthufiafts. There is indeed a certain heightening faculty which univerfally prevails thro' our fpecies; and we are all of us, perhaps, in our several favorite pursuits, pretty much in the circumstances of the renowned knight of La Mancha, when he attacked the barber's brazen bafon, for Mambrino's golden helmet.
WHAT is Tully's aliquid immenfum infinitumque, which he profeffes to aspire after in oratory, but a piece of true rhetorical Quixotifm? Yet never, I will venture to affirm, would he have glowed with fo much eloquence, had he been warmed with less enthufiafm. I am perfuaded indeed, that nothing great or glorious was ever performed, where this quality had not a principal concern; and
as our paffions add vigor to our actions, enthusiasm gives fpirit to our paffions. I might add too, that it even opens and enlarges our capacities. Accordingly I have been informed, that one of the great lights of the prefent age never fits down to study, till he has raised his imagination by the power of mufic. For this purpose he has a band of inftruments placed near his library, which play till he finds himself elevated to a proper height; upon which he gives a fignal, and they instantly cease.
BUT thofe high conceits which are fuggested by enthusiasm, contribute not only to the pleasure and perfection of the fine arts, but to most other effects of our action and industry. To ftrike this fpirit therefore out of the human conftitution, to reduce things to their precife philofophical ftandard, would be to check some of the main wheels of fociety, and to fix half the world in an ufelefs apathy. For if enthusiasm did not add an imaginary value to most of the objects of our purfuit; if fancy did not give them their brighteft colors, they would generally, perhaps,
perhaps, wear an appearance too contem→ ptible to excite defire :
Weary'd we should lie down in death, This cheat of life would take no more, If you thought fame an empty breath, I Phillis but a perjur'd whore. PRIOR. In a word, this enthusiasm for which F am pleadiing, is a beneficent enchantress, who never exerts her magic but to our advantage, and only deals about her friendly fpells in order to raise imaginary beauties, or to improve real ones. The worst that can be faid of her is, that she is a kind deceiver and an obliging flatterer. Let me conjure you then, good Clytander, not to break up her useful enchantments, which thus furround us on every fide; but spare her harmless deceptions in mere charity to mankind. I am, &c.
SHOULD not have fuffered fo long an interval to interrupt our correfpondence, if my expedition to Euphronius.
had not wholly employed me for these laft fix weeks. I had long promised to fpend fome time with him before he embarked with his regiment for Flanders ; and as he is not one of thofe Hudibraftic heroes who choose to run away one day, that they may live to fight another; I was unwilling to truft the opportunity of feeing him, to the very precarious contingency of his return. The high enjoyments he leaves behind him, might indeed be a pledge to his friends that his caution would at least be equal to his courage, if his notions of honour were less exquifitely delicate. But he will undoubtedly act as if he had nothing to hazard; though at the fame time, from the generous fenfibi→ lity of his temper, he feels every thing that his family can fuffer in their fears for his danger. I had an inftance whilft I was in his house, how much Euphronia's apprehenfions for his fafety are ready to take alarm upon every occafion. She called me one day into the gallery to look upon a picture which was just come out of the painter's hands; but the moment the carried me up to it, fhe burst out into B 3
a flood of tears. It was drawn at the requeft, and after a defign of her father's, and is a performance which does great honour to the ingenious artift who executed it. Euphronius is reprefented under the character of Hector when he parts from Andromache, who is perfonated in the piece by Euphronia; as her fifter, who holds their little boy in her arms, is fhadowed out under the figure of the beautiful nurse with the young Aftyanax.
I WAS fo much pleased with the defign in this uncommon family-piece, that I thought it deferved particular mention; as I could wish it were to become a general fashion to have all pictures of the fame kind executed in fome fuch manner. If instead of furnishing a room with separate portraits, a whole family were to be thus introduced into a fingle piece, and represented under fome interefting hiftorical subject, suitable to their rank and character; portraits, which are now fo generally and so deservedly defpifed, might be come of real value to the public. By this means history-painting would be encouraged among us, and a ridiculous vanity