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greatly my mother admires your last letter, and hopes we are both of us much the better for it. Though we have had, you know, another very considerable shock since we came hither, in the heavy and sudden distress of the Portland 'family, and though our own remembrances here are too dear and too pleasing not to attend us continually, yet we are cheerful, and thankful; and we really enjoy ourselves and one another, our books, our employments, our flowers, and our rural scenes.
Cuddesden, July 26, 1748. Are you still, dear miss Carter, in the most , forlorn and joyless of all deserts,--a London solitude ? or do you breathe again a freer air among
of Enfield ? Be your situation what it will, are your nerves and spirits better? When our spirits are good, the desert blooms, and every place is happy. Indeed, I sincerely pitied you for a turn of thought, which you very strongly express, and I have often very strongly and painfully felt a restless and insatiable desire of improvement, and such a sense of the nothingness of all one thinks, and does, and can do, as damps every pursuit. But, upon after consideration of this subject, I have at last satisfied myself with the persuasion, that our business, in this state of being, is only to aim at improvement and information; and that, as the attainment of it in any satisfactory degree is reserved to a better, we onght to sit down here contented, if we find ourselves in a teachable and diligent frame of mind, and have reason to believe that we do our best, let that best be ever so
poor. Life would not be filled up with so many neces. sary trifles, if employments of dignity and real worth were the things belonging to us; but as pride and vanity are perhaps our strongest and most dangerous natural bent, it was highly fit we should be perpetually reminded what poor creatures we are. A right disposition of mind is the highest improvement we are capable of making here; and to the attainment of this, all our infirmities, all the interruptions of our favourite studies, all that we usually reckon hinderances, distresses, or disadvantages, abundantly contribute. I hope this is not a dull, indolent scheme ; for I do not in the least mean that we should lay aside the noblest pursuits of knowledge, which does not lie too far out of the way, but only, that whenever we find it (by what means soever) actually out of our reach, our minds should feel no distress. Adieu! I will go and take an evening walk in the long gallery; and if my thoughts should prove bad companions, a book shall amuse them into good humour.
My book has been Pascal's Thoughts; and I fancy, if you had walked with me, we should have agreed very tolerably in our sentiments. This work, wherever I have dipped into it accidentally, has given me the highest pleasure. What the author says of the grandeur and misery of human nature, taken both together, seems to me to give the justest notions of life; nor is it at all painful to consider the dark side of this prospect, when one knows that, unless things are by wilful folly put out of their due course, the sunshine is to be continually gaining ground, and the shades vanishing before it, till at last the poor, wretched, creeping animal throws off its imperfections, and shines forth in great dignity and
lustre. But even then, though every such highly improved being will deserve great degrees of love and esteem, no one surely' will, or can, deserve so strong and partial an attachment, as is, by some affectionate hearts and lively imaginations, thought due to the poor insect here. Care, tenderness, sympathy in joys and sorrows, every sentiment and every expression of kindness and good will, are due to our fellow-creatures ; and more especially to those with whom friendship or relation has happily united us. But to centre all our joys and hopes, all our fears and anxieties, in any human object, so as to make the happiness of our lives depend solely or chiefly upon that; to raise our affections to their utmost pitch, to add to them all the heightenings of imagination, and to fix all this in a fairy world of our own ;-is surely to put oneself in a state of mind very unsuitable to the orders of Providence, and to the nature of this world, and its short-lived inhabitants.
Pascal drew very wrong consequences from these right principles, and for fear of being too much bes loved, seems to me to have grown into a harshness and austerity of behaviour to bis friends, that must have given them great uneasiness. Let but human creatures be beloved like human creatures, and there is no danger of our going too far: and surely it is one of the highest duties for people to render themselves as amiable as they tan.
I am &c.
Cuddesden, Nov. 29, 1755. I can write but a very short letter, dear miss Carter, as we are in the midst of bustle and confusion. On Monday we set off for that scene of hurry and perplexities, St. Paul's. But I must return your papers to you, and send you my lord's remarks. I
with him in all of them that come within my unlearned comprehension. But above all, I most earnestly beseech you to consider of what infinite importance it is, that your allusions and quotations from the Words of eternal life," should be chosen, and made, in such a manner, as evidently to manifest that superiority of Divine to human, which so many, alas! are endeavouring, as fast as they can, to forget. By no means compare the proud, surly cynic, with Him, “who spoke as never man spoke." O my dear friend, the more attentively you study those sacred books, the true and only source of light, and joy, and comfort, the more you will glory in their 'excellence'; the more you will rejoice; in even this opportunity, of bearing a faithful testimony to it, in an age
like ours. How long we shall have this, or any opportunity, God knows. The present year is a very alarming one. But, God be thanked! there is a sure place of refuge; and there is only one.
Great caution I am sensible is to be used, and every expression avoided that can give needless offence, as well as every one that cannot be justified by the strictest
* Mrs. Carter's Translation of Epictetus.
truth. But whither truth leads the way, dare undauntedly to follow.
I am &c.
St. Paul's, Feb. 24, 1756. I was conscious when my last letter went away, that there was a vehemence of expression in it, (which I had not time to soften) very improperly addressed to one, who, I am sure, cannot but see the infinitely important subject in the same light that I do. My vehemence, therefore, was fighting not with you, but with I know not what complex idea of cold critics, and half-headed readers, that some of the notes apprehensions of the misuse that would certainly be made of them, had conjured up in my mind.
Have I been very busy, you ask? Why really if I have, it has not been to much purpose; for I can recollect but little that I have done. Have I then been very idle? I heartily hope not, for that is against all my principles and resolutions. Not one of the places appro priated to dissipation have I appeared in this year. I have lived on quietly from day to day: less at home than I should choose, if mere choice were the rule to be fole lowed; and yet less with the friends, in going to whom I have spent so much time, the distance from one end of this huge town to the other being immense. If my time runs out thus imperceptibly without any visible expense, there must be some secret cheat I put upon myself,
Mrs. Carter's notes, annexed to her translation of Epictetuse