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my own: For this I shall beg your ex“ cuse; my zeal for my contemporaries “ shall not hurry them into comparisons, « which their own modesty would revolt “ from; it hath prompted me to intrude

upon your patience, whilft I submitted a “ few mitigating confiderations in their be. “ half; not as an answer to your challenge, " but as an effort to foften your contempt. “I confess to you I have sometimes flatterwed myself I have found the strength of

Dryden in our late Churchill, and the “ sweetness of Pope in our lamented Gold “ smith ; Enraptured as I am with the lyrė “ of Timotheus in the Feast of Alexander, "I contemplate with awful delight Gray's * enthusiastic bard

On a rock, whose haughty brow
Frowns o'er old Conway's foaming flood,
Rob'd in the sable garb of woe,
With haggard eyes the poet ftood;
(Loose his beard and hoary hair
Stream'd like a meteor to the troubled air,)
And with a master's hand and prophet's fire
Struck the deep forrows of his lyre.

" Let the living muses speak for themselves; “ I have all the warmth of a friend, but not

" the

“ the presumption of a champion: The

poets you now. fo loudly praise when

dead, found the world as loud in defama“tion when living; you are now paving the “ debts of your predecessors, and atoning for “ their injustice; pofterity will in like manner atone for your's.

“ You mentioned the name of Addison “ in your list, not altogether as a poet I “presuine, but rather as the man of morals, “ the reformer of manners, and the friend of

religion ; with affection I subscribe my “ tribute to his literary fame, to his amiable “ character: In sweetness and simplicity of “ ftile, in purity and perfpicuity of senti"ment, he is a model to all essayists. At the “ same time I feel the honest pride of a con

temporary in recalling to your memory the

name of Samuel Johnson, who as a moral “ and religious essayist, as an acute and pe

netrating critic, as a nervous and elaborate

poet, an excellent grammarian, and a ge“ neral scholar, ranks with the first names in « literature.

“ Not having named an Historian in your “ list of illustrious men, you have preclud“ed me from adverting to the histories of

« Hume,

“ Hume, Robertson, Lyttelton, Henry, “ Gibbon, and others, who are a host of « writers, which all antiquity cannot

equal.

Here the clergyman concluded: The conversation now grew desultory and uninteresting, and I returned home.

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No. LXXXIV.

Ej genus hominum, qui elle primos se omnium rerum volunt,

(TERENT. EUN.)

Nec funt.

W

HAT a delightful thing it is to find

one's self in a company, where tempers harmonize and hearts are open ; where wit flows without any checks but what decency and good-nature impose, and humour indulges itself in those harmless freaks and caprices, that raise a laugh, by which no man's feelings are offended.

This can only happen to us in a land of freedom; it is in vain to hope for it in those

arbitrary arbitrary countries, where men must lock the doors against spies and informers, and must entrust their lives, whilst they impart their sentiments, to each other. In such circumstances, a mind enlightened by education is no longer a blessing : What is the advantage of discernment, and how is a man profited by his capacity of separating truth from error, if he dare not exercise that faculty ? It were safer to be the blind dupe of fuperstition than the intuitive philosopher, if born within the jurisdiction of an inquisitorial tribuna). Can a man felicitate himfelf in the glow of genius and the gaiety of wit, when breathing the air of a country, where so dire an instrument is in force as a lettre de cachet? But experience hath shewn us, that if arbitrary monarchs, cannot keep their people in ignorance, they cannot retain them in 1avery ; if men read, they will meditate; if they travel, they will compare, and their minds must be as dark as the dungeons which imprifon their persons, if they do not rise with indignation against such monstrous maxims, as imprisonment at pleasure for undefined offences, self-accusations extorted by torments and secret trials, where the prisoner hath neither voice nor advocate. Let those princes, whose government is so administered, make darkness their pavilion, and draw their very mountains down upon them to shut out the light, or expect the period of their despotism : Illuminated minds will not be kept in slavery.

where

With a nation so free, so highly enlightened, and so eminent in letters as the English, we may well expect to find the social qualities in their best state ; and it is but justice to the age we live in, to confess those ex, pectations may be fully gratified : There are some perhaps who will not fubscribe to this assertion, but probably those very peos ple make the disappointments they complain of : If a man takes no pains to please his company, he is little likely to be pleased by his company. Liberty, though effential to good society, may in fome of it's effects operate against it, for as it makes men independant, independance will occasionally be found to make them arrogant, and none such can be good companions : yet let me say for the contemporaries I am living with, that within the period of my own acquaint

ance

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