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Tacitus or Quinctilian, affures us it was the ridiculous boast of certain orators in the time of the declenfion of genuine eloquence, that their harangues were capable of being set to mufic, and fung upon the stage. But it must be remembred, that the true end of this art I am recommending, is to aid, not to fuperfede reason; that it is fo far from being neceffarily effeminate, that it not only adds grace but strength to the powers of perfuafion. For this purpofe Tully and Quinctilian, those great masters of numerous compofition, have laid it down as a fixed and invariable rule, that it must never appear the effect of labor in the orator; that the tuneful flow of his periods must always seem the casual refult of their difpofition; and that it is the highest offence against the art, to weaken the expreffion in order to give a more mufical tone to the cadence. In fhort, that no unmeaning words are to be thrown in merely to fill up the requifite measure, but that they must still rife in fense as they improve in found. I am, &c.
Auguft 11, 1738.
Ho it is but a few hours fince I parted from my Cleora; yet I have already, you fee, taken up my pen to write to her. You must not expect, however, in this, or in any of my future letters, that I fay fine things to you; fince I only intend to tell you true ones. My heart is too full to be regular, and too fincere to be ceremonious. I have changed the manner, not the style of my former converfations: and I write to you, as I used to talk to you, without form or art. Tell me then, with the fame undiffembled fincerity, what effect this abfence has upon your ufual chearfulness? as I will honeftly confefs on my own part, that I am too interefted to wish a circumftance fo little confiftent with my own repofe, fhould be altogether reconcileable to yours. I have attempted, however, to purfue your advice, and divert myself by the fubject you recommended to my thoughts: but it is impoffible, I perceive, to turn off
the mind at once from an object, which it has long dwelt upon with pleasure. My heart, like a poor bird which is hunted from her neft, is ftill returning to the place of its affections, and after fome vain efforts to fly off, fettles again where all its cares and all its tenderness are centered. Adieu.
August 20, 1739.
FEAR I fhall lofe all my credit with you as a gardener, by this fpecimen which I venture to fend you of the produce of my walls. The fnails, indeed, have had more than their fhare of my peaches and nectarines this feafon: but will you not smile when I tell you, that I deem it a fort of cruelty to fuffer them to be deftroyed? I fhould fcarce dare to acknowledge this weakness (as the generality of the world, no doubt, would call it) had I not experi→ enced, by many agreable inftances, that I may fafely lay open to you every fentiment of my heart. To confefs the truth then, I have
I have some scruples with refpect to the li berty we affume in the unlimited destruction of these lower orders of existence. I know not upon what principle of reafon and justice it is, that mankind have founded their right over the lives of every creature that is placed in a fubordinate rank of being to themselves. Whatever claim they may have in right of food, and self-defence, did they extend their privilege no farther than those articles would reasonably carry them, numberless beings might enjoy their lives in peace, who are now deprived of them by the most wanton and unneceffary cruelties. I cannot, indeed, discover why it should be thought lefs inhuman to crush to death a harmless infect, whofe fingle offence is that he eats the food which nature has prepared for his fuftenance, than it would be, were I to kill any more bulky creature for the fame reason. There are few tempers so hardened to the impreffions of humanity, as not to shudder at the thought of the latter; and yet the former is univerfally practifed with¬ out the least check of compaffion. This feems to arife from the grofs error of fuppofing, that every creature is really in itself
contemptible, which happens to be cloathed with a body infinitely difproportionate to our own; not confidering that great and little are merely relative terms. But the inimitable Shakespear would teach us, that the poor beetle, that we tread upon, In corp'ral fuffrance feels a pang as great As when a giant dies.
And this is not thrown out in the latitude of poetical imagination, but fupported by the difcoveries of the most improved philofophy: for there is every reafon to believe that the fenfations of many infects are as exquifite as those of creatures of far more enlarged dimenfions; perhaps even more fo. The Millepedes, for inftance, rolls itself round, upon the flightest touch; and the fnail gathers in her horns upon the leaft approach of your hand. Are not these the strongest indications of their fenfibility? and is it any evidence of ours, that we are not therefore induced to treat them with a more fympa thizing tenderness ?
I was extremely pleased with a fentiment I met with the other day in honest Montaigne. That good-natured author remarks, that there is a certain general claim of kindnesą