TO ATTIUS CLEMENS
IF ever polite literature flourished at Rome, it certainly does now, of which I could give you many emi`nent instances: I will content myself however with naming only Euphrates the philosopher. I made intimate acquaintance with this person in my youth, when I served in the army in Syria and took some pains to gain his affection: though that indeed was nothing difficult, for he is exceeding open to access, and full of that humanity which he professes. I should think myself extremely happy if I had as much answered the expectations he at that time conceived of me, as he has increased his own excellences. But perbaps I admire these more now, than I did then, because I understand them better; though I do not fully understand them yet. For as none but those who are skilled in Painting, Statuary, or the plastic art, can form a right judgement of any master in those arts; so a man must himself have made great advances in philosophy, before he is capable of forming a just notion of a philosopher. However, as far as I am qualified to determine, Euphrates is possessed of so many shining talents, that he cannot fail to strike and engage even the somewhat illiterate. He reasons with much force, penetration, and elegance, and frequently embodies all the sublime and luxuriant eloquence of Plato. His style is rich and various, and at the same time so wonderfully sweet, that it seduces the attention of the most unwilling hearer. His outward appearance is agreeable to all the rest: he has a tall figure, a comely aspect, long hair, and a large white beard: circumstances which though they may probably be thought trifling and accidental, contribute however to gain him much reverence. There is no uncouthness in his manner, which is grave, but not austere; and his approach commands respect without creating awe. Distinguished as he is by the sanctity of his life, he is no less so by his polite and affable address. He points his eloquence against the vices, not the persons of mankind, and without chastising reclaims the wanderer. His exhortations so captivate your attention, that you hang as it were upon his lips; and even after the heart is convinced, the ear still wishes to listen to the harmonious reasoner.
His family consists of three children (two of which are sons) whom he educates with the utmost care. His father-in-law, Pompelus Julianus, as he greatly distinguished himself in every other part of his life, so particularly in this, that though he was himself a leading personage in his province, yet among many prospective sons-in-law of the highest rank, he chose the first in wisdom, though not in dignity. But why dwell any longer upon a man, whose conversation I have not the leisure to enjoy? unless it is to increase my uneasiness that I cannot enjoy it? My time is wholly taken up in an office highly important and correspondingly troublesome; in hearing of causes, annotating petitions, passing accounts, and writing of letters; but letters of the most unlettered description. I sometimes complain to Euphrates (for how seldom have I leisure even for that!) of these unpleasing occupations. He endeavours to comfort me by affirming that to be engaged in the service of the public, to hear and determine causes, to explain the laws, and administer justice, is a part, and the noblest part too, of Philosophy, as it is reducing to practice what her professors teach in speculation. It may be so: but that it is as agreeable as to spend whole days in attending to his instructive conversation--on this one point he will never be able to convince me. I all the more strongly recommend it to you, who have leisure, the next time you come to Rome (and you will come, I dare say, so much the sooner) to take the benefit of his elegant and refined instructions. I am not, you see, in tbe number of those who envy others the happiness they cannot share themselves: on the contrary, it is a very sensible pleasure to me, when I find my friends abounding in enjoyments from which I have the misfortune to be excluded. Farewell.