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ASPASIO, was not without his Share of polite Literature, and philofophical Knowledge. He had taken a Tour through the Circle of the Sciences; and, having tranfiently furveyed the Productions of human Learning, devoted his final Attention to the infpired Writings. These He ftudied, with the unbiaffed Impartiality of a Critic; yet with the reverential Simplicity of a Christian. These He regarded, as the unerring Standard of Duty-the authentic Charter of Salvation-and the brightest Mirror of the DEITY; affording the most satisfactory and fublime Difplay of all the divine Attributes.
Theron, was fomewhat warm in his Temper; and would, upon Occafion, make ufe of a little innocent Rallery; not to expose his Friend, but to enliven the Converfation. Sometimes difguifing his real Sentiments; in order to fift the Subject, or discover the Opinion of others.-Afpafia feldom indulges the humorous or fatyrical Vein, but argues with Meekness of Wisdom *. Never puts on the Appearance of Guile, but always speaks the Dictates of his Heart.
Afpafie was on a Vifit at Theron's Seat.-One Evening, when some neighbouring Gentlemen were just gone, and had left them alone, the Conversation took the following Turn.
Afp. I would always be ready, both to acknowledge and applaud, whatever is amiable in the Con
Mitis Sapientia Læli,
is a most amiable Character, and delicately drawn. But it is expreffed with greater Strength, and fuperior Beauty, by the facred Penman; Let Him fhew out of a good Converfation his Works with all the Gentleness, or ( @pautyk. pas) with the very Meekness of Wisdom. Jam. ii. 13.
duct of Others. The Gentlemen, who gave Us their Company at Dinner, feem to be all of a different Character. Yet each, in his own Way, is extremely agreeable.
Lyfander has lively Parts, and is quick at Repartee. But He never abuses his Wit, to create Uneafiness in the honest Heart, or to flush the modeft Cheek with Confufion.-What Solidity of Judgment, and Depth of Penetration, appear in Crito! Yet, how free are his Discourses, from the magisterial Tone, or the dictatorial Solemnity !-Philenor's Taste in the polite Arts, is remarkably correct: yet, without the least Tincture of Vanity, or any weak Fondness for Applaufe. He never interrupts the Progrefs, or wrefts the Topic of Converfation; in order to fhine in his particular Province.-Trebonius, I find, has fignalized his Valour in several Campaigns. Though a Warrior and a Traveler, He gives Himself no overbearing or oftentatious Airs. In Trebonius, You fee the brave Officer, regulated by all the Decency of the Academic, and sweetened with all the Affability of the Courtier.
No one affects a morose Reserve, or affumes an immoderate Loquacity*. To engrofs the Talk, is tyrannical: to feal up the Lips, is monkifh. Every one, therefore, from a Fund of good Sense, contributes his Quota: and each speaks, not with an Ambition
* Zeno being prefent, where a Perfon of this loquacious Difpofition played Himself off, faid, with an Air of Concern in his Countenance; I perceive, that poor Gentleman is ill. He has a violent Flux upon Him. The Company was alarmed, and the Rhetorician stopped in his Carecr. Yes; added the Philofopher, The Flux is fo giolent, that it has carried his Ears into his Tongue.
bition to fet off Himself, but from a Defire to please the Company.
Ther. Indeed, Afpafio, I think myself happy, in this accomplished Set of Acquaintance. Who add all the Complaifance and Politenefs of the Gentleman, to the Benevolence and Fidelity of the Friend.
Their Conversation is as innocent as their Taste is refined. They have a noble Abhorrence of Slander, and deteft the low ungenerous Artifices of Detraction.-No, loofe Jeft, has either the Service of their Tongue, or the Sanction of their Smile.Was You to be with them, in their freeft Mcments; You would hear Nothing, that has a Tendency to Profaneness, or is any Way injurious to Purity of Morals. Even their Gaiety is remote from Indecency, and their very Wit free from Gall.
Afp. There is but one Qualification wanting, to render your Friends completely valuable; and their focial Interviews a continual Bleffing.
Ther. Pray, what is that?
Afp. A Turn for more serious Conferences.Their literary Debates are beautiful Sketches, of whatever is curious in the Sciences, or delicate in the Arts. From their Remarks on our national Affairs, and on foreign Occurrences, a Perfon may almost form a Syftem of Politics.-But, they never touch upon any Topic of Religion; never celebrate the fublime Perfections of the DEITY; never illuftrate the Beauties, nor enforce the Truths
Ther. Fie upon You, Afpafio, for your unpolite Hint! Who can forbear interrupting the Harangue, which pleads for fuch an outrageous Violation of the Mode? Which would introduce reli
gious Talk into our fashionable Affemblies !-How is it that You, who, in other Inftances, are a Gentleman of Refinement, can be fo ftrangely inelegant in this Particular?
Afp. For fuch a Practice, Theron, We have no inconfiderable Precedents.-Thus Socrates *, the wifeft of the Athenian Sages; thus Scipio t, the moft accomplished of the Roman Generals, converfed. Thus Cicero, the Prince of Orators, improved his elegant Retirement at the Tufculan Villa. -And Horace, the brighteft Genius in the Court of Auguftus, formed the most agreeable Hours of his Converfation, upon this very Plan.
Was I to enumerate all the Patrons of this, forgive me if I fay, more honourable Mode; the most illuftrious Names of Antiquity, would appear on the Lift.
Ther. This Practice, however extolled by the philofophic Gentry of antient Times; would make a very fingular Figure, in the prefent Age.
Afp. And should not the Copy, after which the Generality of Mankind write, be fingularly correct? Perfons of Tafte and Diftinction, are the Pattern for general Imitation: are the Copy, in Conformity to which, the World adjuft their Manners, B 3 and
* Vid. Socratis Memorabilia, per Xenoph.
+ See Cicero's Dialogue De Amicitiâ, in which we are informed, That it was a cuftomary Practice with Scipio, with his polite Friend Lælius, and fome of the moft diftinguifhed Nobility of Rome, to difcourfe upon the Interests. of the Republic, and Immortality of the Soul.
1 Vid. Tufcul. Quæft.
Such were the Interviews, of which he speaks with a Kind of Rapture,
O Notes Canque Deum.
and regulate their Behaviour. They, therefore, are under the strongest Obligations, not to give a contemptible Stamp to the Fashion.-Benevolence to their Fellow-creatures calls loudly upon them, a Concern for the public Good challenges it at their Hands, that they signalize themselves by a Pre-eminence in all that is excellent.
Ther. Away, away with thefe auftere Notions! Such a Strain of Converfation would damp the Gaiety of our Spirits, and flatten the Relish of Society. It would turn the Affembly into a Conventicle, and make it Lent all the Year round.
Afp. Can it then be an austere Practice, to cultivate the Understanding, and improve the Heart?Can it damp the Gaiety of our Spirits, to refine and exalt them, after the Model of the higheft Perfection? Or, will it flatten the Relifh of Society, to fecure and anticipate everlasting Delights?
Ther. Everlasting Delights, Afpafio!-To talk of fuch a Subject, would be termed, in every Circle of Wit and Gallantry, an Ufurpation of the Parfon's Office. A low Method, of retailing by Scraps, in the Parlour; what the Man in Black, vends by wholefale, from the Pulpit.-It would infallibly mark Us out for Pedants. And, for aught I know, might expofe us to the Sufpicion of Enthusiasm.
Afp. Your Men of Wit must excuse me, if I cannot perfuade myself to admire, either the Delicacy of their Language, or the Juftnefs of their Opinion.
The first, be it ever fo humane and graceful, I refign to themselves. As for the other, I would beg Leave to inquire; "Are the Clergy, then, the only "Perfons, who should act the becoming Part, and * converse like rational Beings? Is folid Wisdom, "and