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Cicero, and those of the moderns who have trod in their footsteps, will be your masters in philosophy; and while you catch their sentiments, you will imitate their example. They were noble by Nature's patent. They stand among the minute philosophers of recent times like giants among pigmies. Theirs is the school for the acquisition of dignity. Greatness of soul is more necessary to make a great man, than the favour of a monarch and the blazonry of the herald; and greatness of soul is to be acquired by converse with the heroes of antiquity; not the fighting heroes only, but the moral heroes; those who wrote and acted with grace and spirit which few modern philosophers of the minute school, with all their assuming pretensions, have fully understood, or been able to emulate. To the ancients I refer you for a just taste of the beautiful and sublime in manners and morals, as well as in composition. Plato, Xenophon, Plutarch, Tully, Seneca; be these your guides in philosophy. After drinking at their fountains, you will learn not to overvalue the shallow streams and narrow rivulets of the soidisant philosophers of recent times. You will have a touchstone to discriminate infallibly between gold and baser metal. You will see the essential difference, however speciously disguised, between sophistry and philosophy. * Under philosophy in this Letter, your own good sense will inform you, that I do not mean natural and experimental philosophy. The moderns excel the ancients in these particulars, as much as manhood usually excels childhood, or adolescence. I mean the philosophy which Cicero calls vitae dux, virtutis indagatrix; and of which he says, in a beautiful apostrophe to her, Tu inventria legum, tu magistra morum et disciplinae. Est autem unus dies bené ex preceptis tuis actus—peccanti immortalitati antéferendus. It is that philosophy which separates, by a moral chemistry, truth from falsehood, right from wrong, dispelling the clouds of error, and dissolving the enchantments of fancy. To her guidance I commend you, my Lord, and doubt not but that she will conduct you to the pulchrum et honestum, to all that truly ennobles human nature. She will lead you, I hope, ultimately to what modern philosophy explodes, the Christian religion. - I am, &c.
You think I am beginning to preach, when I mention religion. But why a prejudice against any mode of instruction ? Indulge it not; for it is unworthy a man of sense, and a philosopher. I am indeed going to preach, if to recommend religion be to preach. You may be a good man, and a happy man, without nobility, without learning, without eloquence; but you cannot be either without religion. Without religion there will be a root of bitterness shooting up amidst your choicest fruits, that will not fail to spoil their flavour. Those who possess the largest share of the world, and are totally immersed in its pleasures, are not so happy upon the whole, as the contented peasant with his piety. For your own comfort therefore, I trust you will cultivate a spirit of devotion; that you may enjoy peace of conscience, and the sweet hope of protection from the King of kings, in the thousand sorrows which, as you are not destitute of sensibility, you will feel in the course of a chequered life, High
as you are, you are not out of the reach of misfortune. Those you love as your own soul may die before you, or be afflicted with pain and disease that admit of no alleviation. You may drink deeply of the bitter cup yourself. Years of pain may be
your lot. Your senses will certainly decay, if you livé long. The world with its pomps and vanities will gradually vanish from you, ļike a cloud in a summer evening, tinged with gold and purple.
Is it not worth while to cultivate in youth a devotional taste, which in health and prosperity will furnish you with great pleasure; and in distress, sickness, age and death, with solid comfort, when nothing else can give any delight; but when grandeur, as well as riches, will appear despicable vanity?
And look a little beyond this world, (and leave it you must, whether
you choose it or not,) and see what scenes religion opens to the eye of faith! Hope points to them in the last agonies of expiring nature. Were it but a delusion, (and you can never be sure that it is not a reality, without an immediate revelation,) it would be worthy of cherishing in this mortal state ; but that it is not a delusion 'you have great reason to believe, because it is supported by strong arguments; because the best and most enlightened men of all ages have been religious, and on their death-beds, in their last accents, have left a testimony in its favour.
But if you dislike preaching, I doubt not but you have a peculiar objection to long sermons. clude therefore,
I am, &c.
LETTER XLIV. My LORD The subject of my last is of too much consequence not to be resumed.
Man is instinctively a religious animal. Others approach him in reason, but none have an idea of a God. Many of them, as the dog, look up to man with a species of adoration, resembling that with which he looks up to the Deity. This religious instinct in man is a certain proof of that dignity of human nature, which the modern philosophers are endeavouring to depreciate.
But those who claim a dignity among their fellowcreatures, will never, if they are wise, study to lower, the dignity of the whole race. If there be no dignity in human nature, there can be none in any partaker of it. Nobles will act wisely, in maintaining religion in its full vigour, if they should be actuated solely by selfish or political motives.
If man be a reptile, incapable of sustaining à character at once good and great, how ridiculous to put a coronet on his head, and clothe him in purple ! They are the greatest levellers, who aim at levelling man with the brute. If we are all asses, no ass among us will long be permitted to wear a lion's skin.
Indeed, poor human nature, with all its dignity, stands in need of every support to prevent it from falling beneath itself. Whatever can raise it from the savage and barbarous state, ought to be cherished. The wild crab-stock must be grafted with the pippin.
I wish your religion not to be a political one, but the spontaneous growth of a good and feeling heart,
Yet even a political reverence for the religion of your country is far more honourable to a nobleman, raised or maintained as he is in his elevation for his supposed virtue, than an open contempt of it. Depend upon it, that some instances of this sort have given disgust to the people. All the eloquence and ability of Bolingbroke have not been able to rescue his name from infamy. And what will be thought of those little great men, who blaspheme in public, and avow themselves infidels, with scarcely any learning, and no peculiar share of common sense ? Such men are sapping the foundations of nobility, on which it has stood firmly for ages.
A religion too evidently political will usually be frustrated. The public, ever keenly penetrating into the conduct of distinguished personages, will see that it is merely political, and then what becomes of the policy of it? It may do more injury than open impiety, because it renders all professions of religion throughout society suspected of policy, and causes religion itself to be considered as a state engine. The engine will lose its spring, and become a piece of lumber, when once the suspicion is universal.
Be therefore in truth what you wish to appear. Are you'exempted from the common lot of humanity? Do you not want consolation which the world often has not to give? None are more wretched than the great. A thousand causes increase that portion of misery in them, of which all mortals must partake. They want the spur to industry which urges their inferiors to action, and consequently makes them happy. Their appetites are palled with abundance. They are exposed to a thousand temptations, happily unknown to the vulgar. They are often brought up in 'ignorance of all things but those which solicit their : senses. And shall they, proud of a little