previous Previous Next next

 image pending 56

Sunday Noon.


The air is perfectly still. I have a double motive for retreating into this
Recess; and come hither not only to converse with my Harriot, but to avoid the
scorching and oppressive heat. Silence is as much the communicant of noon as
the associate of Midnight, and the stillness of the air as naturally invites to contempla-
=tion at one season as at the other. With what pleasure do I strech myself beneath
the shade of an Hazel or a lilach branch in this agreable assylum, and deliver myself
up to the power of excursive imagination, or sink, by degrees, into Slumber? My
slumbers however are remarkable havens of Amusement or instruction, and its only in my
waking hours that I see "such sights as youthful poets dream." Fairy land is
always interdicted to my sleeping fancy, though, formerly, watchfulness never failed
to conduct my footsteps thither.

The vicissitudes to which the human character and opinions are liable
cannot be considered without surprise ‸ astonishment. No one more widely differers in his Sentime
Sentiments ‸ and disposition from others, than at different periods from himself, and those intellectual
revolutions, always correspondent with external circumstances. We vary, according to
the variations of the Scene and hour, and it is not less difficult to tell what will
our views and opinions will be twelve months hence, than to foresee the particular
circumstances in which we shall then be placed. Man is a progressive being and
He is never stationary, but is always either returning from a certain point or leaving it ‸ behind him
It is therefore incumbent on us that our motions be tending towards perfection
rather than receding from it.

But what awkward and uncouth morality is this. How dare these
cold and rugged speculations, intrude into a correspondence like this, sacred to more
tender and more amiable purposes. Are you not displeased with the asperity of those
reflexions, and accustomed to a strain more congenial to my present temper; yet
you will not suffer me to obey the impulse of ‸ my heart: to rave to supplicate to
exult to deplore, but have harshly limited me to the discussion of uninteresting
topics. I assure you I find it almost impracticable to submit to your
injunctions, but my fortitude I hope will triumph over every obstacle. I am
sensible that the only alternatives are cold philosophy or dreadful Silence and
this and what would I not chearfully undertake, rather relinquish this
employment, than forfeit the inestimable priviledge of writing to you

 image pending 57

Yes. Impose upon me, if you think proper, tasks the most difficult and
disagreable. Command me to exert my faculties in the soulution of a
mathematical problem, or in the explication of some ‸ incomprehensible
subtlety in Metaphysics, and you shall admire with what alacrity I will
ingage in the arduous enterprise. With what intrepidity ‸ and perseverance I will encounter
opposition and trample difficulties. The conviction that I act in compliance
with your wishes will be sufficient compensation for my toils, and render
pleasing what would otherwise have proved insupportably disgustful.
But are th not the two Sciences which I have mentioned the exclusive
property of men. Instances may indeed be produced ‸ of women who possessed every masculine
property. Examples are not wanting of female warriors Lawyers and
professions, but is it not generally true that women are by nature unfitted
for the pursuit of Mathematical as well as military Science. Is not
the gayer region of morality and poetry their province. In calm sedentary
and domestic avocations ye shine with speculiar and serenest lustre.
Divine and amiable Objects! The pen as well as the needle may
safely be intrusted to your beautious hands, and ye are equally quallified
for excelling in ‸ the use of both. Your eyes ‸ and fingers may with not less propriety be employed
on the poem or romance than ‸ on the decorated Screen and variegated Lawn
and you are destined by your maker not only to rival, but outstrip your
masculine competitors in ‸ all the excellences of the heart and understanding.

My Henri‸etta! when shall I reach the elevation to which the [gap] ‸ you have soared
When shall I become as wise as amiable; as sagacious in discerning truth &
rectitude; as eloquent in enforcing it; as magnanimous in adhering to it. But
though an equallity with you in every admirable and attractive quallification
should be unattainable, yet I am already infinily exalted above my
former polih, and though I should continue forever stationary at the point
at the point, at which I have arrived, my obligations to you will be
unspeakable, and the dues of gratitude I shall never be able to discharge.
I indeed survey the past with the utmost astonishment. In comparing
my former with my present situation, the revolution which has taken
place in my sentiments and situation is almost incredible. I am sometimes
almost in doubt whether he that was last year a visionary has not now

 image pending 58

become a Lunatic. Whether the objects around me be phantoms or realities
Whether, my reason be not overpowered by Imagination, and these are moments
in which I almost call in question the existance of my Henriette. Had
any one ‸ formerly predicted that my I should at this time ingage the affections and
enjoy, almost incessantly the conversation of a lovely and accomplished woman,
the most exalted of her Sex, with what invincible incredulity should I
listened to this such his intelligence. I should have deemed it absolutely impossible
as well from the conviction of my own unworthiness, as from the Knowledge
of my situation. Women were objects with whom I conversed only at a
distance, I regarded them with the profoundest veneration. I felt myself
capable of all the romantic enthusiasm of love, but imagined myself
eternally excluded from their presence by the want of exterior accomplishments
I saw myself ‸ obscure and mean; enrolled by adversity in the lowest rank of
mankind: distinguished from the rabble only by the love of literature, by
propensities which without altering the duresses of of fortune, could ‸ only render me
more sencible of its ‸ rigour injustice. I had never practiced in the School of Justinian.
Though versed in the laws of politeness I was wholly unacquainted with the ruls
of accuracy. In the presence of any of your sex, whose rank, virtue and ‸ or capacity
intitled them to respect, the power of utterance was lost in confusion and
embarrassment. My faculties were bewildered, and my pain and distress when
under the necessity of meeting their eyes, amounted to agony. I approached them
terror and reluctance, and fled from them with the utmost precipitation.
I loved to indulge in visionary transports, to paint the forms of Imaginary
Excellence and beauty, and put speedily together the materials of many a
surprising and pathetic tale. I, for a time, withdrew my attention of many ‸ from all other subjects
and endeavoured to attain from those writers, who are ‸ most celebrated for their Skill
an accurate though speculative knowledge of human nature, in the present
state of polished and refined manners. I ingenuously confess my attachment
to fictitious history, and read, at the period to which I allude, all the
Romances, whether french or English, which I though deserving of perusal
of which the sum the number is extreemely small. I know little of any
performances of this kind but those of Mademoiselle Scuderi, Marivaux
& Richardson, and I have no ambition to know more of the human heart,
from books, than these are able may be derived from these performances.

 image pending 59

But the want of opportunities, of experience and the consciousness of my the
obscurity, and ‸ of the meanness of my situation, confined me to the region of fiction,
and the only source of entertainment of in my powers, [gap] consisted in my
own reflexion, but in a short time I discovered with rapture and astonish-
=ment, that those emotions which I had hitherto delighted to feign, had
now suddenly become real. That I was actually enamoured of an
-object, that visibly and indisputably existed. How lavishly did my Imagination
decorated your mind and person, and yet how far was her feeble pencil from
painting with the energy of truth? How many excellences were disclosed on
a more intimate acquaintance, of which I had not previously formed the
least conception? I am conscious that the lover frequently discovers beauties in his
Mistress which, in reality, have no existance, and whether I am decieved
with regard to character of Harriot G — - - I shall venture not to
determine, but I am at least certain that I am not conscious of deception
and that my error if it be one is involuntary.

Have I not reason to exult in my destiny? How far beyond my hopes
beyond my merits is the blessing which I have recieved? When I have so much
reason to rejoice would it not be impious to complain? And yet to forbear complaint
is impossible. My felicity though ‸ truly great, is far from being perfect. To know you
to converse with you. To find my vows acceptable, to excite in your bosom the same
emotions which actuated my own, I hate regarded as the summit of my wishes
the completion of my happiness; but now what I possess is little when compared
with that to which I audaciously aspire. Wedlock! sacred and blissful State!
All the joys which formerly incircled me, have now retired within thy hallowed
limits. From me they are fled forever unless thy portals are unfolded to
recieve me. O my Henrietta! To be allyed to so much excellence!—but I must
restrain myself. I would not for the world Universe, offend you Forgive me
for disregarding your commands. I shall ‸ very quickly solicit your forgiveness in
person. Meanwhile honour I beseach you, with your written notice these
vague and hasty effusions of
C. B. B.~

previous Previous Next next