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warmest season is frequently little better than a milder fort of winter, the fun is much too welcome a guest to be avoided. If ever we have occafion to complain of him, it must be for his abfence: at least I have feldom found his vifits troublefome. You fee I am ftill the fame cold mortal as when you left me. But whatever warmth I may want in my conftitution, I want none in my affections; and you have not a friend who is more ardently yours than I pretend to be. You have indeed fuch a right to my heart from mere gratitude, that I almoft with I owed you lefs upon that account, that I might give it you upon a more difinterested principle. However, if there is any part of it which you cannot demand in justice, be affured you have it by affection; fo that, on one or other of these titles, you may always depend upon me as wholly yours. it be neceffary after this, to add, that I received your letter with fingular fatisfaction; as it brought me an account of your welfare, and of the agreeable manner in which you pass your time? If there be any room to wish you an increafe of pleasure, it is, C perhaps,
perhaps, that the three virgins you men tion, were a few degrees handsomer and younger. But I would not defire their charms fhould be heightened, were I not fure they will never leffen your repose; for knowing your Stoicifm, as I do, I dare truft your eafe with any thing less than a goddefs: and thofe females, I perceive, are fo far removed from the order of divinities, that they seem to require a confiderable advance, before I could even allow them to be fo much as women.
It was mentioned to me the other day, that there is fome probability we may fee you in England by the winter. When I confidered only my private fatisfaction, I heard this with a very fenfible pleasure. But as I have long learned to submit my own interests to yours, I could not but regret there was a likelihood of your being fo foon called off from one of the moft advantageous opportunities of improvement that can attend a fenfible mind. An ingenious Italian author of your acquaintance, compares a judicious traveller to a river that increases its ftream the farther it flows from its fource; or to certain fprings, which
running thro' rich veins of mineral, improve their qualities as they pafs along. It were pity then you should be checked in so useful a progrefs, and diverted from a course, from whence you may derive fo many noble advantages. You have hitherto, I imagine, been able to do little more than lay in materials for your main defign. But fix months now, would give you a truer notion of what is worthy of observation in the countries thro' which you pafs, than twice that time when you were lefs acquainted with the languages. The truth is, till a man is capable of converfing with ease among the natives of any country, he can never be able to form a juft and ade quate idea of their policy and manners. He who fits at a play, without understanding the dialect, may indeed discover which of the actors are beft dreffed, and how well the scenes are painted or difpofed; but the characters and conduct of the drama muft for ever remain a fecret to him. Adieu.
F I had been a party in the conversation you mention, I fhould have joined, I believe, with your friend in fupporting those fentiments you feem to condemn. I will venture indeed to acknowledge, that I have long been of opinion, the moderns pay too blind a deference to the antients; and tho' I have the highest veneration for several of their remains, yet I am inclined to think they have occafioned us the lofs of fome excellent originals. They are the proper and beft guides, I allow, to thofe who have ⚫ not the force to strike out new paths. But whilft it is thought fufficient praise to be their followers, genius is checked in her flights, and many a fair tract lies undifcovered in the boundlefs regions of imagination. Thus, had Virgil trufted more to his native strength, the Romans, perhaps, might have seen an original Epic in their language. But Homer was confidered by that admired poet as the facred ob
ject of his firft and principal attention; and he feemed to think it the nobleft triumph of genius, to be adorned with the spoils of that glorious chief.
You will tell me, perhaps, that even Homer himself was indebted to the antients; that the full ftreams he difpenfed, did not flow from his own fource, but were derived to him from an higher. This, I acknowledge, has been afferted: but afferted without proof, and, I may venture to add, without probability. He feems to haye stood alone and unfupported; and to have stood, for that very reafon, so much the nobler object of admiration. Scarce indeed, I imagine, would his works have received that high regard which was paid to them from their earliest appearance, had they been formed upon prior models, had they fhone only with reflected light.
BUT will not this fervile humor of fubjecting the powers of invention to the guidance of the antients, account, in fome degree at least, for our meeting with fo fmall a number of authors who can claim the merit of being originals? Is not this a kind of fubmiffion, that damps the fire and weakens