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We can recollect, that often, while the hour has been passing, an internal, faintly-accusing consciousness has said, "This is not reflection." "This is not reasoning." "This is vacancy." Often, on looking back on a day or a week, we can mark out large portions in which life was of no use in other words, was nothing worth-because the mind did nothing, and gained nothing; notwithstanding that the while the pulsation of the blood and all the vital functions of the animal life went on; notwithstanding that the dial noted the rapid hours, the sun rose and set, the grand volume of truth was expanded before us, and the great operations of nature held their uncontrollable course.

It was impossible not to regret that the power most made for action and advance, the power apparently adapted to run a race with any orb in the sky, should be so immensely left behind. And it was difficult to avoid the folly of wishing that the soul, too, were under some grand law of necessitated exertion and inevitable improvement.

I remember when once, many years ago, musing in reflective indolence, observing the vigorous vegetation of some shrubs and plants in spring, I wished that the powers of the mind too could not help growing in the same spontaneous manner. But this vain wish instantly gave place to the recollected sober conviction, that there is a simple and practicable process which would as certainly be followed by the high improvements of reason, as the vegetable luxury follows the genial warmth and showers of spring. If all our wishes for important acquirements had become efforts, my friend! if all those spaces of time, that have been left free from the claims of other employment, had been spent in such a determined exercise of our faculties, as we recollect to have sustained at a few particular seasons, how much more correct, acute, ample, and rich, they would at this time have been!

When the period of what is called education was past, and the important responsibility of the conduct of life devolved on ourselves, we did not imagine that the labors and solicitudes of mental and moral cultivation had accomplished all their objects, and might now be dismissed to final repose. How fertile in everything wise and useful would be that life, the early part of which should be the sole reservoir to supply opinions and virtues to all the rest.

The condition of humanity will not afford a wise and happy life on such terms. Life itself will go on gratuitously and without our care; but all that can give value to its progress, or dignity to its close, must be obtained at the heavy expense of unintermitted labor.

Judicious education anxiously displays to its pupils its own insufficiency and confined scope, and tells them that this whole earth can be but a place of tuition, till it become either a depopulated ruin, or an Elysium of perfect and happy beings. Its object is to qualify them for entering with advantage into the greater school where the whole of life is to be spent, and its last emphatic lesson is to enforce the necessity of an everwatchful discipline, which must be imposed by each individual self, when

exempted from all external authority. The privileges, the hazards, and the accountableness of this maturity of life, and the consignment to one's self, make it an interesting situation. It is to be entrusted with the care of a being infinitely dear, whose destiny is yet unknown, whose faculties are not fully expanded, whose interests we but dimly ascertain, whose happiness we may throw away, and whose animation we had rather indulge to revel than train to labor.

There is a feeling in looking round like the first man in Eden, on a sphere that is my own, on which no human authority may intrude, and bounded only by the laws of Him who commands the universe. What luxury of existence, if there were no duties, and no dangers !

But meanwhile the process of education is going on, even though unobserved, and tending fast toward the ultimate fixed form of character. Character grows with a force that operates every moment; it were as easy to check the growth of a forest. You find, that to counteract any one of its determined tendencies, is a task of hard and recurring labor. Even its slightest propensity, when opposed, seems inspirited with the energy of the whole.

Habits are growing very fast; some of them may not be good; but they still grow while we speculate on them, and will soon close, like the ices from the opposite shores in the Arctic seas, except dashed by the interruption of a mighty force. Is the spectator unconcerned while they are closing around him? Or is he descanting wisely on the laws of habit, till he becomes its victim? The mind is a traitor to itself; it will not wait while we are seeking wise principles, nor return when we have found them.

Everything is education;—the trains of thought you are indulging this hour; the society in which you will spend the evening; the conversations, walks, and incidents of to-morrow. And so it ought to be; we may thank the world for its infinite means of impression and excitement, which keep our faculties awake and in action, while it is our important office to preside over that action, and guide it to some divine result.

I wish, my dear friend, to animate both myself and you to the utmost zeal respecting this high concern. As the education of our youth could give us only some faint impressions and rude elements of wisdom,—as we have since found that no great and estimable improvement will spring unsolicited or flourish uncultivated,—and as we perceive that the world, and life, and time, will mould us whether we will or not, if left to their influence, it is supremely worth our care that we be not fatally and irretrievably spoiled.

There are scattered, here and there, many energetic spirits, who compel the world and all things in it, to pay them tribute. They deserve to be rich would they could impart a small portion of their treasures! or the power of acquiring them. But I have often been struck at considering how entirely individual are all estimable attainments. The man into

whose house I step a quarter of an hour, or whom I meet on the road, or whose hand I take, and converse with him, looking in his face the while -he so near me, that walks with me, that traverses a field or sits in an arbor with me, he may have a soul fraught with celestial fire, stores of science, brilliant ideas, magnanimous principles, while I-I that observe his countenance and hear him talk—may have nothing of all this. He may for the last ten years have been assiduous in studies day and night, while I have consumed the morning in sleep, and the day in indolent vacancy of every sentiment, except wishing, "which of all employments is the worst." What right have I to wish he should leave part of his animated and powerful character with me? But he cannot, if he would. He takes his resplendent soul away, and leaves me to feel, that as he is individual, so, too, unfortunately, am I. The mind must operate within its own self, and by its own will; else, though surrounded by a legion of angels, it would be dark and stationary still.

Yet, though designs and efforts must be individual, they may be social; and it is one of the most pleasing engagements of friendship to offer suggestions tending to assist such generous cares. I would not wish to hold a friendship that I greatly prized at less expense than this.

I shall feel the most animated pleasure in my solitude, if in these letters I can assemble from the regions of reflection, or of reality, into which I have wandered, any sentiments which may hereafter be recollected by you, as having contributed to any one of your pleasures, or of your improvements. It is not at all in the character of an instructor that I write, but as a cordial, respectful friend, certain always to find in the friend to whom he writes an animated rival interest in everything that can enlighten understanding, or conduce to felicity. I am, most sincerely yours,


J. F.

Frome, March, 1805.


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I was afraid to open your letter, lest some savage beast or serpent should dart out of it, and thought it vastly mild when I did venture to examine it. I wish you whatever domestic gratification is derivable from the addition of a son.

. I am glad to hear a confirmation of the account of Mr. Hall's recovery. As to his writing, it does not seem more likely he will attempt it now than before; it is even probable he will be rather dissuaded from too much of the solitude and hard study which that business requires; that is to say, if other authors are at all like me. Your censures about the delay of my manuscript are totally misplaced; it is true, I have been twice, part of a week each time, at Downend; but thus much you would allow that even propriety, had inclination not been a compe

tent inducement, would have claimed. As to the rest of the time I have been very industrious, but I did not know when I had finished the two first essays what a task I had yet on my hands. When I came to the fourth essay, which is much longer and more important (as far as the word important can apply to any of them) than the others, I found it requisite to write the first part of it anew, and at five times the length; besides, the whole business is inconceivably tedious. I have often passed the whole day about two or three sentences, and could only determine to do more to-morrow; but I could not help myself; it was no affair of will. I have been so assiduous that I have hardly had one walk, except the journeys to Downend, for these several months; and though I have been necessitated, often against my inclination, to make visits in the town, I have put off a number of persons from time to time with saying, Certainly, Sir, I intend myself the pleasure of calling on you very shortly." Everything was wrong in these two essays; there were scarcely three pardonable sentences together. This has given me a mingled feeling of being pleased and mortified; mortified that the first operations of thought were so incorrect, but pleased that I could clearly see and often mend the faults. The latter essays will exhibit more of the work of understanding, and more of what will please or displease as matter of opinion. As to how soon they will be finished I am afraid to pledge myself, after my past experience of the utter impossibility of moving fast; but as I have only about half a dozen sheets to transcribe, with very slight corrections, I cannot be many days; I am afraid somewhat more than a week, but surely I think not two.

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I see no manner of reason why you should forswear the press. How many editions would you have your works go through? By all means write again; that is, after you have learnt of me somewhat more simplicity of style. You may believe me, that I am quite worthy to be a model in this respect.

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Do you think we really shall do anything of permanence and of consequence before we quit this orb? There is nothing proceeding in this stupid town worth notice. I lately felt high elation in looking to an immense distance from it, that is, at Sirius, and some others of the sublime spectacles, in a glass of considerable power.

I was sorry you did not come to Bath last autumn. It is but thirteen miles from Frome. You would be treated very respectfully here, only you would be severely preached. After the preachers, who are extremely respectable men, there are very few persons here in whom I can feel any particular interest. I should nauseate the place if I had been habituated to it a century. At first I felt an intense loathing; I hated every house, timber, stone, and brick in the town, and almost the very trees, fields, and flowers, in the country round. I have, indeed, long since lost all attachment to this world as a locality, and shall never regain it. Neither, indeed, for this do I care; we shall soon leave it for I now seldom comparatively think of politics; when I do,


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it is with a hatred of the prevailing system, which becomes but more intense by time.


Downend, March 26, 1805.

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MY DEAR FRIEND,- . . . . It was necessary for me to come here this week, if I would see the person on whose account I came. I am very glad also for the sake of my eyes, which were become very uneasy by the exertion of the mind perhaps, as much as direct use. I have now nothing to write but unconnected notices. First, I have admitted I think two thirds of your corrections, a very large proportion you will allow, for the vanity of an author. I have made a very few corrections also; one very necessary and very happy one, about the beginning of the part referring to atheism. As the passage stood before, it connected the idea of Deity with place, in a manner which I had felt to disapprove before, but on considering again, I felt absolutely must be altered. A considerable number of the modes of expression I have restored to the state in which they had stood before. I have erased most of the marks of quotation, used where I had supposed the sentiment to be expressed by some individual; they are ugly and foolish; and by observing lately the usage of a distinguished writer, I perceive them quite useless. I have erased also several notes of admiration which you had introduced; I hate this figure mortally, and prohibit most absolutely the insertion of one of them more than the very few which I felt indispensable.

I perceive one mistake in your manner of pointing (that is, according to the standard of Gibbon, and some other of the highest authorities). When there are several nouns of the nominative case to one verb, you admit no comma after the last of these previous to the verb. Or when there are several distinct, short members converging into one concluding one, you admit no stop between the last of them and this concluding one. In this I am persuaded you are wrong, according to the dictates of reason, as well as the highest authority. Of the authority I am quite certain. A passage or two where you have introduced the correction will show you what I mean. "New train of ideas, presenting the possible, and magnifying the certain, difficulties of the situation." “Though a man is obedient, and probably will continue obedient, to habit." 'They are mistaken if they imagine that the influences which guide, or the moral principles which impel, this self-applauding process," &c. Now I feel most certain that the comma ought to remain in all such cases, and that the contrary manner is a vulgar mode only of pointing. The authority of Gibbon is decisive, and he invariably points, in such instances, as I have done.


There is another circumstance which I cannot now describe grammatically, but of which I sent an instance. I wrote, "Any man, whatever were his original tendencies, might, by being led through a different

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