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Friday Noon

My fair declaimer! Yes. Thou shalt be my conductor in the tracts of Knowledge
My Mistress My instructress and my friend! Who under such a teacher ‸ guide, would
fail of arriving at excellence? What impediment can hinder his m or retard his
progress, for whose sake, Love is willing to espouse philosophy. When Knowledge is
encompassed by a Million of Attractions, and the fondness of the mistress is united
with the Austerity of the teacher?

Be not deceived. I know no more of the Italian than of the Sclavonish.
It is the melody of your voice, the fascinations of your presence, and this ‸ its own intrinsic
softness, that give to the sounds of this language all the charms which it possesses
and which I at present discover in it. Is not the pleasure which music afford
distinct from that which results from the Sentiment, and who, Angellic Creature
could listen to your midnight songs, however incomprehencible their meaning
without the rapture of unfettered and harmonious spirrits? I am indeed incapable
of concieving an higher degree of pleasure, and the knowledge of the Tuscan, would
not possibly increase the delight, with which my ear is ravished in listening to
your performances whether vocal or instrumental.

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But the Italian is undoubtedly superior to any other modern language in
harmony and copiousness, and, among those of Antiquity is exceeded only by the Greek
Though it may perhaps be affirm, to be inferior to in copiousness to the English.
It is the diallect of poets and Musicians, and therefore he to whom Music and
poetry afford pleasure, cannot but be eagerly desirous of being in some degree
acquainted with it. In this class you will not question that I rank myself
and therefore will not be surprised when I tell you that your proposal to become
my teacher is in the highest degree acceptable. My beautious and amiable
Harriot! with what delight shall I hang upon your lips while you explain
the rules of construction, and point out to me the particulars in which the
diallect of Florence differs from the ruder speech of Rome or Venice or Naples
Are you not fearful that my attention will frequently be found in the graces
of the fair Instructress rather than on her lessons, and that my ardour will
sometimes prompt me to infold my teacher in my arms, banish all grammatical
austerity from her tongue, and teach her lips another office? Shall I not be
tempted to forget the decncies of my Character, to lay aside the humble and timid
deportment of the scholer, and act a part far more congenial to my disposition?
I will not promise to exert any extraordinary degree of Self denial, and will not
scruple to interrupt the most useful disquisition by a tale of love or by passionate
caresses. Of these circumstances I have thought it proper to apprise you that you
may not form vain expectations, and place too much confidence in the docility
of your pupils. But I shall nevertheless cultivate with uncommon assiduity
the acquaintance of the illustrious Metastasio, and shall con the lessons which
you shall prescribe, with indefatigable care and attention in the your absence

If the knowledge of french be desirable, that knowledge, notwithstanding the
favourable verdict of rumour, is yet to be attained. How could you have been so
egregiously decieved? I will tell you to in what excellence in what respects I deserve
to be ranked with an Inhabitant of Paris and of Blois. Eighteen Months ago
accident threw me into company with several frenchmen, whose knowledge was
equall to their politeness. I had, at a very early, acquired some acquaintance with
the rudiments of French, and this knowledge, one of my foreign friends with

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suddenly and unaccountably became a favourite undertook to improve, and by continual
opportunities for hearing others speak, and incitement, to be myself a talker, I gained
a considerable degree of _______ fluency in conversation, but never had the slightest
pretentions to correctness and propriety. They gave me permission to read all my
their book, and I, in some degree profited by this priviledge, and have traversed
with my usual rapidity, some thousands of pages of the immence compilations
of Diderot and Dalembert.

You now see, My lovely friend, what credit is due to report. Half a
years disuse, of this language, occasioned by the departure of my Parisian
Acquaintances for Europe, has nearly obliterated the impressions of their lessons
I find it easy to comprehend and difficult, or rather impossible, otherwise than by
continual recollection or incessant practice to retain. I know not what cause
it is to be imputed but certain it is that not only the Sentiments but language
of those parts of the Encyclopedia, with which I have formerly been most
conversant, would now be new to be, and I should be scarcly be able to
make my way through a single page without the powerful assistance
of a Dictionary.

I was formerly actuated by a boundless ardour for knowledges. My Eyes
were so constantly and intently fixed upon my book, that when I chanced
at any time to look at the objects around me, they wore an aspect of Novelty
and I felt the same sensations, of which a man may be supposed to be susceptable
on his rousing from a long and profound Sleep, and whose opening eyes
are saluted by a rural prospect and an evening Sun. But the passion for
study was quikly supplanted by the delight which I began to take in
composition, and my hand was less frequently furnished with a book
than with a pen. But it is useless as well as impossible to recount all my
literary propensities, the duration of their influence, the order in which they
succeeded each other, and or the effects which they produced in the enlargement
of my heart and the improvement of my understanding. It is sufficient to
observe that they all vanished at the sight of a fair and amiable creature
and that love and poetry, beautious and inseparable Sisters, rushed at once
upon my soul with a torrent that was not to be resisted and by which

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all other passions were excluded

Are you really desirous of wading through the crudities obscurities
and discords of the Grammatical Chaos. Of Conning old Lillie's rule, and talking
with colloquial Cordery and Erasmus? It is obvious however that the task would,
by no means, be difficult to one that was already versed in the Italian
from which the Roman tongue differs so little, that it is, as I have heard,
on some occasions scarcely perceptible, distinguishable from it. But what
is there, ambitious, fair one, in the Latin language that can reasonably excite
your curiosity? The ancient poetry is base and despicable. You will perhaps be
astonished at this assertion, but it is nevertheless true. There is scarcely any that
can be read with patience by a Man whose morals are yet untainted.
What exquisite and tender pictures of conjugal and filial affection has Virgil,
who appears to me to be the most enlightened and exalted of the Romans, has given
us. ‸ & yet how few pages of his works are there, which would not shock the Eye
of female delicacy? the Eye of Harriot or Clarissa? The pastorals so celebrated
for their musical cadences and polished Rusticity, are stuffed with the
grossest impurities. And I am perswaded that after having read the Georgic
once, you could never prevail upon yourself to read it again. What constitutes
the excellence of poetry? Not beautiful expression, splendid imagery or artful,
and surprising Machinery, but that powerful charm by which the heart is
attracted and improved: It consists in moral Sublimity. How odious and
disgusting are the licenses of Juvenal and of Horace, both in his Lyric and
Satyrical performances. And with regard to the applauded productions of
Ovid Tibullus and Propertius, I shall only observe that I think those amorous
and elegiac bards in the last degree poisonous and detestable, and that
they prove, in the most forcible manner the justice of that observation which
I have somewhere read, that the Cupid of the ancients was a sensual
deity, and deserves therefore to be banished to the mountainous and woody
haunts of Savages. But is it not certain that they who have themselves
felt the dominions of the passions, find allmost all descriptions of them
insipid. They are occupied with their own emotions, and have not liesure

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to contemplate their appearances or effects or appearances in others. Hence with
whatever purity or justness the passions should be described by a ‸ Greek or Roman
poet, their picture would to us be either insipid or superfluous. O my beloved
creature, what pleasure can be derived from learned volumes, equall to the
rapture of mental Converse, to the union of kindred souls, speachless lips
and throbbing bosoms The are stranger to Avarice and Ambition. And what do almo=
most all the poets of Antiquity, but furnish fuel to these direful and ferocious
passions. Can the harmony and Energy of Homer shroud from our view the
horrid forms of Revenge and cruelty, that stalk with rapid and gigantic steps
through every page of the line Illiad. Who does not turn with anguish and
aversion from the spectacle of Slaughter and destruction, which is ‸ continually presented
to him? You could not possibly receive pleasure from the brutalities of
Anacreon and Aristophanes, the obscure flights of Pindar, whose progress is discernible
only through the glosses, with which you can only be furnished only by Scholiasts
and Antiquarians, the Mysticism of Plato or the Subtleties of Aristotle. There is nothing
however valuable, for which too great a price may not be paid. Before you
ingage in any study it is to be considered whether the labour of pursuit and the
pleasure of acquisition be proportionate to each other, & whether the time which ais
thus consumed might not be more profitably employed.

It is of more importance to you to become an adept in your native
language than in any other. It is sometimes said that this knowledge cannot be
obtained without a previous acquaintance, with the classic tongues, but of this
objection I shall always consider the example of my Harriot as an unanswera=
=ble Confutation. That the knowledge of Greek and Roman Literature may be, in
some degree, conducive to the attainment of Skill in English It is needless to denye
but for this motive ‸ only is not sufficient to justify our application to those studies. for ‸ Since
it is indisputable that the improvement would be ‸ still greater if the time which
is thus spent were devoted to British Authours.

I cannot admit that the knowledge of Ancient languages ‸ are otherwise to be esteemed than as they
humanise the heart and polish the Understanding, and though I am sincerely of
opinion that it does not merit even this encomium, which indeed I must confess
to be extreemly high, and such yet I am willing to bestow, it but must ask whether the influence study
of British French and ‸ or Italian literature is not equally conducive to the same end

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But why should we uselessly and pompously enlarge the circle of our pleasure
A true poet, for example, can never be exausted. The delight which his compositions
afford, will only increase by repetition. How lmean and limited l must be the
capacity, of that Man, who can be instructed or delighted only in contemplating
and revolving the ideas of others. When you read, your books ought to be
considered as a text to which your imagination must furnish a supplement
and commentary. The idea of others are to you of no importance and utilitity, but
as you render them by meditation your own, a ‸ and make them the soil or stock, which, with proper
culture, may become productive of numberless others, the products of your own
labour, or the ofspring of your own Imagination. Is it possible for true taste ever to
be weary of a single Authour who is really excellent. I know ‸ not any thing more
dreadful than to be ‸ hopelessly immured in bookless solitude, but though Germany abound with
sublime and pathetic ‸ poets, yet I should be contented to linger for an age, in the wild
and sequestered Recesses of the Alps, accompanied only the works of Gesner. In the
solitudes of Wales or Cumberland I should find an exaustless source of Consolation,
in the ‸ affecting and romantic tals of Spenser, and Virgil and Tasso would furnish pleasure and employment
to a life spent on a promontory or island of Calabria

But whatever motive may excite you to the study of the Ancient Languages
how will you procure a suitable preceptor. I received some Knowledge of the Greek & Latin
at a Grammar School, but this knowledge will by no means quallify me to instruct
others. It scarcely enables me to read these ancient authours. And I am determined, that
should my beautious Harriott put herself under my tuition, I should All my
instructions should be, oral. I will not suffer those eyes to be fixed on any other
object than myself while I am present. And yet without the assistance of a book
nothing can be learned. But shall I not be near you? oftener? than heretofore?
Shall I not more frequently gaze at the fluttering lawn, so do whose whiteness
dazzles the beholder, ‸ & through which, the whiter bosom which it covers is discernible? 0 heaven!
What celestial charms lurk beneath its folds, and wait to be drunk by the
eye and discerned by the touch. Ah! when will the blissful moment arrive when
thou, Angelic Creature, shalt be wholly mine, and when, to whatsoever my
impetuosity shall carry me, I shall ‸ not transgress the limits of decorum, nor rouse
your Anger and Resentment, when your mind and person shall be greatly [gap] my own.
Peace, malignant and foul ill-boding spirit! I know already what thou intimatest

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I know it is decreed that we shall never be united, otherwise than mentally.
My hope is dead, eternally extinct. But as long as I am permitted to be near
her, despair is at a distance. To see her To converse with her. To bathe her
hands, with kisses. Her bosom with my tears! This is happiness which, without
illumining the drearness of futurity, diverts my attention from it. I feel my
heart raptur, overwhelmed with joy. My Intellects are momentarily disordered
All the powers of my understanding are absented ‸ suspended in the rapturous idea of the
present, but as soon as this delusion vanishes with her presence, As soon as her
absence shall sober my intoxicated senses. Whither shall I fly, from the refugee
from the pangs by which my soul shall be rent assunder. Ah! then will
the benevolence and justice of the deity be put to proof. Then will my soul
hurry, with ‸ dismay & trepidation, from her untenable mansion, and rush unsummoned
into the region allotted for the residence of disembodied spirrits. My God, in
rendering my burthen insupportable, will justify me in escaping from it
or at least, when called to his presence, to hear the sentence of retributive Justice
I shall plead, in excuse for the deed, the immunities of phrenzy.

But why infatuated youth, dost thou paint, with such malicious, ‸ Skill thy
agonising apprehensions? How unhappy dost thou render her, by th whom
thou so fervently adorest, by these gloomy and disastrous portraitures of thy
Anticipating pencil? I know it. I indeavour to check it. To still my turbulent
emotions. To ingage my mind in pursuits that are indifferent. To fill my Imaginat
with ludicrous and or pleasing images. But my struggles are ineffectual. My hand
involuntaryly strays from volumes of mirth to those of Melancholy. I open, at
the rape of the Lock, but the pages are, by a sort of mechanical and spontaneous
impulse, turned over till I reach the melodious complaints of cloistered Eloisa.
I hurry with impatience and rapidity through the Comic Scenes of Moliere
To view them is a task, which I congratulate myself on having finished, and I
hasten to indulge the mode of sorrow at the feet of Melpomene. The tragic
spectacles has charms congenial to my soul, and ‸ I dwell with mingled Sadness
and delight, on the Scenes of Sophocls, Racine and Rome. I listen, to the
Electra and Andromaque, and pour my tributary tears discern the source of , and pour my tributary
tears, at the self-told narrative of their distresses.

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But to ponder ‸ on thy ever present image and to write ‸to thee are my chief employments. Books whatever
be the theme, I cannot read without an effort of painful Recolection.
To write to thee my charming Harriot. To tell thee all my wishes, all ‸ my feelings.
This is the occupation which in thy absence delights me most. And yet ‸ how impossible
is it to describe my feelings. How unequal to the force of my conceptions is the
energy of words? How often do I throw aside my pen, and cry out in a rant of
phrenzy, "Why should I thus fruitlessly labour? Are not my ideas fettered and
degraded by the poverty of language?” Is she not actually present? It is true
she is not visible, but yet ‸ but her image is within me. Her soul mingles with
mine. Our intercourse is intellectual. Are not the chords of harmonious Sympathy
continually vocal? Ye votaries of babbling Eloquence! Where have you learned
that passion is loquacious? Did yeu, ever, in your noblest moments, [gap] reach the
sublimity of Silence? Trouble not, by senseless and unseasonable clamours,
the stillness of my soul. While I think of her she is no longer absent. The tongue,
weak interpreter, is motionless. Minds where Union is so perfect want no outward
instrument of communication, require not the ‸ impertinent assistance of corporeal organs.
But Ah! how frail, how inconsistent is humanity. 0 my beloved, whither are now
thy thoughts straying? What object ingages thy attention? Thy image is indeed
before me, but art thou also conscious of my presence? Is this consciousness irksome
or delightful? Thou canst not answer me. Thou hearest me not. Thou art absent
I discern with Astonishment and horror, that thou art absent.

How charming are our interviews? How do I delight in recalling the circumstanc
of them to my memory! In remenicing, with you! In spending the Night as I
spent the evening. In thinking over all the thoughts that arose in my mind
and in repeating all the words that flowed from my lips while in company with
you. When I left you, on the last evening, I did not immediately return home
Midnight is a season that has grown familiar to me. I am never apprehensive
of danger or annoyance, in my nocturnal rovings. I am indeed careless of
health and Safety, in a degree that, to many persons, would be incredible
And am as little concerned at the baying of a Mastiff, as on approaching, in
desolate and gloomy solitude, at the hour when when Robbery and Murder
walk abroad, persons of a suspicious and ruffian-like appearance, as little at in listing

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to the clamours of the Owl or Bullfrog

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When I arrived at the end of lane which leads to our habitation, I went in
the opposite direction. The banks of Schyulkill are in some places considerably hight
and Steep, and are surrounded by Scenes, which to one, that, like me, has never in
a mountainous ‸ country, are highly beautiful and picturesque. I seated myself, beneath the
pines, by which the descent is overshadowed. The moon was declining in the West
and her beams glittered with surprising lustre on the water. The Murmer of the tide on the
sandy shore, and of a gentle breeze, gale, among the leaves of the trees that shaded
me, diffused a languor and tranquility over my soul, that was inexpressibly
pleasing. Tranquil water and the midnight air are peculiarly favourable to
pensive music, and, till the fall of the Moon below the horizon, I played my most
melancholy and pathetic tunes upon my the flute. How powerful is the influence of
music on the most brutal and illiterate minds! two persons were whispering together
among the trees, who, as I approached, rose up apparently startled and alarmed,
and were preparing to go, but as soon as I began to play they stopped, and
resuming their seats upon the grass, listened, all the time of my performance
with the profoundest silence and attention, and, when they found I had finished
and saw me rising from my seat, they showed evident of regret, and, as I saw
we going to ask me to continue, but I hastened away before they had time to make
the request, because I could not but have complyed with it, and my
compliance, at so late or rather at so early an hour, for it was three OClock
would have been ‸ very inconvenient. I went home and enjoyed the peaceful sleep of
Innocence, and dreamt of my Mistress and my friend. May prudence preserve
our union unimpaired, and may all my days resemble yesterday.

C. B. B.

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