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L E T T E R
To Mr. 7. M.
CANNOT, with satisfaction to myself, enjoy the noble present of books
have been so kind to send me, without
acknowledging it in a manner somewhat more durable than by word of mouth. But as I know that repeated thanks would not be agreeable to your generous mind, I shall restrain my pen from doing justice to my heart, and rather tell you, what I am sure you will hear with pleasure, That nothing could have been more
agreeable and acceptable, and I really think more beneficial to me, than this mark of your
affection. As I have no extravagant inclinations to gratify, and live within my income, an addition of fortune, at my time of life especially, would have been no great benefit, nor have afforded me much pleasure, except that of bestowing, which is indeed a pleasure. have food and raiment for the body, and am therewith content: but you have given me food for the mind, which, if my digestion and concoction were but good enough, would afford excellent nourishment. : Many of the viands you have furnished my table with, are not only of the best kind, but so neatly dished up, as to please the eye,
and excite the appetite, at the same time that they afford the most delicious repast. Do not you think that Horace, whose characteristic was elegance, would have been delighted with such an elegant transcript of his works, as Pine has given to the public, and you to me? I doubt not but it would have produced an ode in praise of the ingenious artist. And might not Cæsar himself, could he be fensible of it, receive pleasure in seeing such an accurate and beautiful edition of his Commentaries, as the late learned Dr. Clarke published and favoured the world with? Had
this magnificent performance appeared in Cæsar's time, he would certainly have made the editor a princely present; (for Cæfar was generous) and I think he would not have forgot honest Jacob Tonson, the printer, who has admirably well acquitted himself of his part. I assure
if I had as rich a cabinet as Alexander the Great was possessed of, and which he thought could not be so well furnished as with Homer's works, I would place this book in it; yet not so much for its own sake, tho' very valuable, as for that of the donor.
But to be a little more particular respecting the benefit accruing to me by your kind gift.
HAVING been, as you know, for between thirty and forty years engaged in variety of affairs, which, by reason of my ill state of health for the last ten or twelve
became very burdensome to me; but being in a good degree freed from the trouble of business and the misery of pain, I have for some time suspected, that I was not without danger of falling into too much indolence; perhaps of feeding the body, and starving the mind. But the mental entertainment you have so kindly provided for me,
has given a new turn to my disposition, and I hope will be a means of putting the in
tellectual faculties into a quicker motion. To gain this point, give me leave to tell you how I employ myself, or rather how you have employed me. I am at present principally engaged in reading history, and particularly renewing my acquaintance with Cæfar and Livy. Will you indulge me in communicating to you my thoughts on thefe authors: What is the chief, or indeed almost the only subject of their histories? Do but read the titles of Cæfar's particularly: De bello Gallico, De bello Hispanienfi, De bello Africano, &c. and what is worst of all, De bello civili. Methinks, such transactions, varied and extended to other nations, are a kind of epitome of the principal contents of most histories, sacred, as they are called, and prophane. And pray, what are all these recitals of wars? Are they in reality any other than fo many accounts of horrid and barbarous murders, committed by men on their own species? And for what? This is a question that very few of the multitudes employed in this cruel butcherly work can answer. A king or an emperor, who it is very likely has much uncultivated ground in his dominions, and will certainly cause a great deal more to become so by the destruction of his people in war, wants a larger territory;
and he who perhaps totally neglects the government of his own subjects, or governs them very ill, and treats them as llaves, spares neither blood or treasure to bring more people under his dominion, that he may add to the number of the afflicted and the miserable. It is apparent, that lust of power, and the fenfeless quarrels of princes, are generally the causes of wars, and of the devastations and cruel Naughter of their subjects attending them. About an hundred years ago, the king of Pegu made war againft the king of Siam, with an army of above a million of foot, two hundred thousand horse, five thoufand elephants, three thousand camels, &c. The cause of this war was to take two white elephants from the king of Siam; and to do the like from the king of Pegu, the kings of Arrican and Tangu waged war with him.
HORACE, in his second epistle to Lollius, says, very justly,
Quicquid delirant reges, plečtuntur Achivi. And
your favourite Virgil, at the latter end of his first book of Georgics, very emphatically deplores the miseries of war in the following lines:
: Atlas Geographus, vol. III. Afia, p. 662.