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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 leaft look for it, and often raises the nobleft productions of virtue in the fhade 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 still 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 less fingular than I am sometimes inclined to fuppofe. Adieu.
Auguft 3, 1735.
ET it not be any difcouragement to you, Philotes, that you have hitherto received but little fatisfaction from those noble speculations wherein you are employed. "Truth (to ufe 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
from that profound well in which the lies concealed.
THERE is, however, fuch a general connexion in the operations of nature, that the discovery even of a fingle truth opens the way to numberlefs others; and when once the mind has hit upon a right fcent, fhe cannot wholly purfue her inquiries in vain:
Canes ut montivaga perfæpe feraï
Ir must be owned nevertheless, that, af ter 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 á very limited compass; tho' at the same time it cannot be supposed, without the highest injuftice 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 likewise in their operations, is it not amazing, Philotes, that mankind should 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 ta
tents fo precarious and circumfcribed, should ufurp that confidence which can only belong to much fuperior beings, and claim a deference which is due to perfection alone? Surely the greatest arrogance that ever entered into the human heart, is that which not only pretends to be pofitive itself in points wherein the best and wifeft have difagreed, but looks down with all the infolent fuperiority of contemptuous pity on thofe, whofe impartial reasonings have led them into oppofite conclufions.
THERE is nothing, perhaps, more evident than that our intellectual faculties are not formed by one general standard; and confequently that diverfity of opinion is of the very effence of our natures. It seems probable that this difparity extends even to our fenfitive powers; and tho' we agree indeed in giving the famé names to certain vifible appearances, as whitenefs, for inftance, to fnow; yet it is by no means demonftration, that the particular body which affects us with that fenfation, raises the fame precife idea in any two perfons who fhall happen to contemplate it together. Thus I have often heard you mention your youngest daughter
as being the exact counter-part of her mother: now she does not appear to me to resemble her in any fingle feature. To what can this disagreement in our judgments be owing, but to a difference in the structure of our organs of fight? yet as juftly, Philotes, might you disclaim me for your friend, and look upon me with contempt for not discovering a fimilitude which appears fo evident to your eyes; as any man can abuse or despise another for not apprehending the force of that argument, which carries conviction to his own understanding.
HAPPY had it been for the peace of the world, if our maintainers of systems either in religion or politics, had conducted their several debates with the full impreffion of this truth upon their minds. Genuine philofophy is ever, indeed, the least dogmatical; and I am always inclined to suspect the force of that argument, which is obtruded with arrogance and sufficiency.
I AM wonderfully pleased with a paffage I met with the other day in the preface to Mr. Boyle's Philofophical effays; and would recommend that cautious fpirit, by which he profeffes to have conducted himself in