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17.5 6.

Vol. XII.

F IN the “ Discourse," prefixed to the first volume, the Reader bas seen Bishop Hurd's high commendation of these Letters; and his promise to gratify the Public, “ in due time,"? with a larger collection, out of his correspondence with our Author: This Collection has since appeared, under the title ? of Letters from a late Eminent Prelate tv one of his Friends í and by a communication of the date 1750, we learn, that Bishop Warburton thought Dr. MIDDLETON's talents “ appeared : 10 where to more advantage” than in the Letter which begins this Appendir.-Ed.

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LETTERS

BETWEEN

DE MIDDLETON AND MR. WARBURTON.

DR. MIDDLETON TO MR. WARBURION,

YOUR

SIR,

Dorchester, Sept. 11, 1736. OUR Candour, I hope, has already prevented me

in suggesting some favourable excuse for my long silence. The truth, which is always the best apology, iş, that. I was absent from Cambridge, when your letter arrived there; and though it was transmitted to me at this place, yet it found me in po condition to answer it, either to your satisfaction or my own. I am here unprovided of Tully's Works, and without the help of my papers to furnish any hints to me on the subject; spending my time suitably to the taste and temptations of the country, in cards at home, and sports abroad; yet I could not longer defer to pay my thanks at least for the great entertainment, that it gave me; with promise of further payment, a6-soon as I am able.

The point that you undertook to make good concerning Tully, is, that he did not believe a future state.

In proof of which you maintain, that in his Epistles only, of all his Works, we are to look for his real sentiments.

This, though supported by you very ingeniously, is not, I own, agreeable to the notion that I had formed from my general acquaintance with his writings : and as

I have not yet had leisure to make it the subject of a particular enquiry, so at present I can only give my loose and indigested thoughts on the matter.;which I shall do yery freely, and in the method that you have sketched out to me. You assign four reasons of the difficulty of discover

ing

E E 2

ing Tully's opinions on the important questions of philosophy. 1. The character of the ancient philosophy in general: 2. The manner in which the Romans received the Greek philosophy:, . 3. The nature of that philosophy, which Tully espoused : 4. The peculiar character of the man.

1. By the first, you mean the double doctrine of the old masters; the external, and internal; the one for the vulgar, the other for the adept. But whatever effect this had in Greece, where that way of teaching seems to have been dropp d, long before Tully; it certainly had none in Rome, or at least in Tully's writings: The end and purpose of which was to explain to his countrymen, in the most perspicuous manner, whatever the ancients had taught on every article, either of speculative or practical knowledge.

2. The Romans, you say, were far from the humour of the Greeks; and did not regard the doctrine of the sect, that they espoused, as a rule of life, but, a kind of furniture only for their rhetoric schools. But I see no ground for this distinction; if there was any between them, the Greeks were certainly the more disputatious, and, agreeably to St. Paul's character of them, more curious and fond of every thing new. Cato, you see, from the testimony, that you produce, made the Stoical doctrine his rule of living; and though he is laughed at for it by Cicero, yet not for making philosophy his rule, but that particular philosophy, which was incompatible with common life.

There is a letter from Tully to Trebatius, upon his turning Epicurean; in which he rallies him for his new principles, which must necessarily spoil the lawyer, as breaking through all the old forms of securing faith and property amongst men: and concludes that if he was serious in the change, he was sorry for it; if to make his court only to Pansa, he excused it. (Fam. 1.7. 12.) This shews, that the choice of a sect was not thought a thing indifferent, but supposed to operate in life and

If then, as Tully says, a great part took up their philosophy disputandi causa, non ita vivendi; yet this was not the thing generally intended by it, but on the contrary what was generally thought blameable. Nor

manners.

was

TIITTI AND MR. WARBURTON, 1736421 was it peculiar to the Romans, any more than to the Greeks, or to any other people, not to live up to the rule, that they professed; just as we see it now in the case of religion, which a great part in all countries contend for very warmly, yet practise very coldly.

3. You make the nature of Tully's philosophy another source of difficulty in finding out his real sentiments. His philosophy was of the Academy; and whether of the old or the new, much the same. But when you call it perfectly sceptical, you seem to confound it with a different sect, whose distinguishing character was to doubt of every thing: Whereas the principle of the Academy was only to suspend their assent, till by examining all sides of a question, they could discover the probable. For in speculative enquiries they disclaimed all certainty; and thought nothing só unworthy of a philosopher, as a rash assent, and the enibracing for true what he did not comprehend. They imagined truth and falsehood to be so mixt and blended by nature, that it was extremely difficult, if not impossible, to separate them entirely; that probability was the utmost, that human wit could arrive at. This therefore they made their rule, both of thinking and acting. What the other sects affirmed with assurance, they made it their task to confute or shew to be uncertain; taking from each still what they liked, and following it, with this difference only; that what the others called true, they called probable.

This, of all others, was the most rational way of philosophizing; subjecting them to no master, no system of opinions; but leaving a liberty to chuse, aster a free enquiry, whatever was found most agreeable to reason and nature. : But what is there in this to create difficulty in discovering a man's opinions, whenever he thinks fit to declare them? It might create, perhaps, some diffidence in declaring them; and a disposition, to confute rather what others assert, than to assert any thing of his own: But their rule still was as certain and consistent as of any other sect; and when persuaded of any opinion, they pursued it as regularly, and explained as freely as any of the rest. 4. But the embarrass, you say, is completed by the

peculiar

EE 3

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