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XVII

To J. D. ______ _____n     Sunday Evening.

I spent the last evening with my Harriot. I know you will forgive me for making
this angelic creature the subject of our correspondence and the only Subject. It is
utterly impossible for me to write on any others, and you tell me, with your usual
condescention that it is a subject on which I cannot too copiously or minutely
expatiate. I cannot banish her from my thoughts. Every topic but her virtue is insipid
any other form but hers, is disgustfull. The whole world is nothing to me,
and every circumstance derives its importance from its relation to her, but I
am not so totally infatuated as not easily to perceive, that others may reasonably
entertain a different opinion and that to one not immediately interested, nothing
is as tedious and unpleasing as the Rhapsodies of a Lover, but unhappily the
only alternatives submitted to my choice at present is to talk of her or not to talk
at all, as even as you are weary of the theme, or as even as its unpleasantness
begins to overweigh the pleasure of thus conversing with your friend, let me
know it, and I will thenceforward forbear to write to you; for I must again
repeat that my passions overpower my discretion and will not suffer
me to think or write but in one invariable Strain.

As soon as I was admitted to her presence she streched out her hand
to me, with a tender and though reproachful air, & said “Why have you staid so
long? I have been impatiently expecting you this hour.

I seized her hand and kissed it with the utmost ardour. “Forgive me. An
accident unavoiadable prevented me from coming sooner. Your impatience &
vexation (ah! how highly do you honour me?) did not exceed my own,
at this unseasonable prevention. I hope I find you well, but when I look
at you I cannot doubt it. O health! mother of roseate hues! Mayest thou
ever smile as now upon my Harriot!

Indeed (answered she, smiling) your supplication is quite poetical. But
why did you ask the question, when a single glance of the eye was, it
seems, sufficient to have precluded it. But do not you think this mode of
salutation frivolous.

Why my dearest creature should I think so? What is of greater importanc
than health, and what can be of more natural and proper than to enquire
of those we love whether they be well or ill?

Nothing can be more proper if inquiry be the only method of discovering
the condition of another, but the tokens of health and sickness are for the most


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visible, any verbal information therefore is superfluous.

Shall I question whether the symptoms of disease be always visible

I will not dispute with you, but I did not say that they always we
but that they generally are visible, and am I not right in that assertion

I believe you are, but that they are not always perceptible is sufficient
for my purpose, since whether ‸ we be really free from the disorder is known only to
ourselves, and those there who are anxious for our safety, may properly desire
verbal information with respect to it.

But you were just now contented with the evidence of Sight alone and
thought ‸ that because I appeared to be well any enquiry was unnecessary.

And are you not well? Your air and countenance bespeak the serenity of
health. I therefore conclude that you are we enjoy it, if not it is incumbent on
you to explain your situation, and rectify my error. Do you think I can ever be
insencible to your welfare; and fail to question you respecting it? How this question
is proposed ‸ or its solution obtained is of no importance.

An ingenious reasoner! I intirely agree with you that, that how this
solution is obtained is of no importance whether from my lips or from your
own examination, but this, I presume, implies that the latter method is
not less effectual than the former, and thus you have shewn that, notwith=
standing your objections, you are of the same opinion with myself.

Ah! ‸ my beautious Rhetorician! whatever be your sentiments, I inivitably
become a convert to them. My inclination is your vassal; my reason is your captive,
but whether impertinent or not, I shall always, either by ‸ my lips or eyes ask this
question, and be unsatisfied without an answer.

And are you satisfied at present? You are rushing into danger my
friend, look around you, on the very brink of contradiction, another step and
retreat will be impossible. I must loose myself from you (continued she
with gayety and [gap] withdrawing her hand from mine) or I shall fall with you

No, your skill will always enable you to elude that disaster. I see you are
determined to intangle me if possible, but I shall escape your toils by
confessing that I am will not be satisfied untill the testimony of your looks be
confirmed by that of speech. I hope my Harriot is well. (taking again
her hand and pressing it between mine.) If she be sick how quickly shall I
feel the same calamity? But my sufferings will be far greater than hers
The sickness which destroys her bloom and molests her for a moment will prey


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will prey upon my heart and blast me forever

Say not so, (said replied She.) I am well, and hope to continue so as long as
you are interested in my welfare but (casting her eyes downward, and sighing)
Not longer.

Not longer! (cried I, ‸ with passionate energy & clasping her in my arms.) O may your wish be granted
for then eternal health will be your portion.

Eternal health! (replied she resuming her accustomed ease) there cannot
surely be a more deplorable disaster. But I forgive you for I know you would
not have wished me the enjoyment of eternal health unless you had esteemed
it the highest blessing.

I am far from deeming it the highest, but I, nevertheless, think it very
precious. It may, for aught I know be a terrible disaster and yet I have not
the least objection to be cursed with everlasting health.

Experience I believe would teach you a different lesson. I am not
desirous of living forever. Existance is precious, but to be happy I must enjoy a very
different a mode of existance than very different from the present

Daniel was celebrated for his wisdom, but on approaching the Monarch of Assyria
he scrupled not to exclaim “O king live forever,” but thou my Harriot are wiser
than Daniel!

Daniel however wise, was liable to err, but you know thus in adopting
this mode of address he only complied with the custom of the times.

Will the fashion be a sufficient excuse for wishing evil to another? perpetual
health is in your opinion an extraordinary and insupportable evil

Certainly not.

Daniel then you think acted ‸ not with his usual wisdom in this instance.

That is my opinion. I know not indeed whether a rational being should be
desirous of enjoying uninterrupted health, even while life is granted.

My dear creature I percieve you are fully conscious of your powers
Do you not love to display them in the defence of daring paradoxes?

My dear friend, you are pleased to jest upon the vain pretentions of your
mistress, but do you really account what I have asserted to be a paradox.
Are not sickness and adversity the best teachers of wisdom. To desire an exemption
from them therefore is a proof of folly.

He that enjoys uninterrupted health is not of consequence, a fool.
He that wishes an exemption from sickness may at the same time pant after
that wisdom which is derived from a sleepless or uneasy coutch.



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But those wishes would be absurd and contradictory, ‸ & are therefore unworthy
of a rational being. For what ‸ ought a prudent and enlightened man to supplicate
Heaven. Unmingled happiness is inconsistent with humanity. Let good and
evil be my portion, for such A Good is already thy decree, but let the good and
evil be accompanied with patience and humility Let thy gifts be recieved with
gratitude and Used with moderation: From adversity enable me to reap instruction
and be taught benevolence and fortitude. Do you think that to pray in this manner
would be absurd or unreasonable?

Far from it. I cannot express how much I admire your philosophy. I wish
I could imitate you, in the sublimity of your conception and the rectitude of your
wishes.

Peace flatterer. Nothing so easy as imitation. I am already outstripped by you
as you cannot but be well convinced

I place too much confidence in your Sagacity and am too dubious of my
own not to recieve pleasure from your assurance. It is on this that I build the
conviction which you think so necessary and inevitable

Is it possible for a man any one to be absolutely unconscious of his own attainments
To be superior to others without percieving his superiority.

Not only possible but universally true. It is at least reasonable my highest interest to think
so though I should be glad to find myself deceived, otherwise I shall otherwise
be obliged to reject your encomiums.

Let not your modesty interfere with your opinion. I think that though our
defects may be concealed from us, we are, unless absolutely devoid of common sence
allways sencible of our excellences. Are we not to admit the contrary because
there are person who obstinately persist in thinking meanly of themselves
n the midst of general approbation, or highly in the midst of general
ntempt, since every man is but acquainted with himself. A perfect knowledge
of another, a ‸ degree of knowledge knowledge that may quallify us for determining with absolute
ertainty on theis merits ‸ of another, is indeed unattainable. This perswasion must,
I think, be the result of every ones experience

True and you will therefore permit me to disclaim your panagiricks
From what a pleasing dream have you awakened me. You have taught
me to resume my usual diffidence, and to place question either your sincerity
penetration.

By no means. I do not contrive to pronounce on your general character
to say whether, on an impartial comparison of your faults and virtues, the
first or the last predominates, but with regard to particular defects or


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excellences I may safely form an opinion: may not proofs of Knowledge or
genius be exhibited, which leave me not at liberty to doubt your
claim to them , but of those quallities which you do not possess I can only
speak positively when they are incompatable with those which you undena
=ibly possess. If I find you ingenious I cannot hesitate in asserting that you are
not stupid, but whatever may be your intellectual elevation, I shall not then
infer any exemption from of moral defects. For nothing is more common than
genius and talent perverted to the worst of purposes.

--//--

Whence My love, did you derive this moralizing disposition. I have often heard
you philosophize thus profoundly on human nature.

It is strange that you should so pervert the meaning of words as to
call me a philosophizer

Believe me I think you are deserving of the title in its truest acceptation
To the pursuit and practice of that philosophy whose dictates flow from your
lips may I ever be devoted, and so firm is my relyance on your judgement
that as soon as your opinions are known I shall instantly adopt them, not
from any ignoble view of securing your f[gap] by pretended compliances, a
purpose which these means would be insufficient to accomplish, but
from a conviction of their rectude, a conviction inspired by experience,
for I have always found, that the propriety of your tenets is only more strongly
manifested by the light of invetgation.

Indeed I am greatly indebted to you for your good opinion. I wish You
were able to convince me that I merit it.

That I know not how to perform, unless the simple declaration I have
made will be sufficient, added to the suffrage of your own understanding.

Forgive me. I am not skilful in coining compliments. Your elegant adulation
therefore must reward itself. I have nothing to return.

Your smiles my angel is ‸ are a sufficient recompenses. There is no care or toil
for Which they are not an adequate compensation. Give me your smiles and I
am happy.

Felicity then is very cheaply purchased. If my Smiles can rescue
you from misery you never shall be miserable

Ah my Harriott you know not their magic influence on a lovers
peace. You know not the inchantment which a smile diffuses. I want no
other emblem of heaven than the smile of benignant beauty.

And of what may we suppose the frown of indignant beauty to be be
emblamatical


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of all that is horrible to sight or feeling, of a place too dreadful to be named,
the reverse of heaven, at least in the conception of a lover.

A lover! why is he excepted? Is a lover different from other people?

Do not you think so? If not remember ‸ that the verdict of the poet is against
you, and that the lover resembles only the poet and the Lunatic. I have a
thousand proofs to shew that I am one of this gentle tribe, and among other
am able to produce the testimony of Shakespear, since “I see Hellens beauty on
a brow of—Connecticut.

What! is Connecticut a proper substitute for Egypt. You know not what
a Patriot I am. Beware of amusing my country.

Far be such unjustifiable abuse from me. I revere your country. It is
the Attic Region of the western world, equally fertile in heroes sages and beauties
Is it not your native country? I promise never to think of it but with reverence.

I find you are conversant with every branch of the art of pleasing. When will
you exaust all the topics of approbation?

Never for not only all the topics are numberless, but each particular one
is, in itself, exaustless. What powers of eloquence are equal to the description ‸ of the charms of your person
and what degree of Sagacity will enable me to discover all the excellences ‸ beauties of your
mind.—

Forbear (interrupted she, with of so an air of mingled gayety and solemnity, and
tapping my cheek with her fingers.) or I shall be obliged to procure an order for your
removal to a madhouse. You are absolutely moonstruck. Descend from your heroics &
chain your fancy to the earth or I shall believe your phrenzy incurable.

I hope so. The phrenzy of love and of poetry. I hope such phrenzy is without an
ntidote. Ah! my phrensy Henriette! such phrenzy is the priviledge of elevated beings
the truest test of intellectual superiority. What is reason when it severs the yoke of these
divine emotions: when it is invulnerable by the shafts of love, [gap]cible of proof, against the magic
f poetry. What ‸ is it that thou or I should deem it of the slightest value: should, for a moment,
gret the want of it?

The warmth and energy with and energy with which which I uttered those expressions
had a visible effected upon my fair auditor. As soon as I had spoken she put one arm
ound my neck and leaning her lovely cheek on mine, and in a tone of melting
oftness. O My best friend! Why should I disemble: why should I scruple to embrace thee
Why should I be backward and reserved; and withhold that confidence to Which thou art
[gap] well intitled. Accept my vows and give me thine. From this moment we are
[gap]dissolubly one. I will know thee by no other name than husband. My person indeed
[gap]l an union be sanctioned by religious rites, be cannot be thine, but of my soul
[gap]u shalt be absolute master, nor shalt thou ever (continued she folding both her
[gap]ms around me) be denied access to that bosom, which swells at this moment with


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unutterable fondness for my friend the most amiable and exalted of his Sex.

O my friend, Canst thou not easily conceive the transports which overwhelmed us
in that happy hour. In the extasy of those caresses the hideous phantom of futurity
dared not to intrude. The felicity of the present moment equally anihilated foresight
and recollection. Blissful moments! how quickly did ye pass! Ye are fled I hope
only to return, but fled ye ar[gap] [gap]

Love my friend is a stranger ‸ alien to your breast. You are utterly a stranger to its
sacered and divine transports. How faint,‸ then in your sight, must be all the classs of
‸ pathetic languages. How ineffectual ‸ all the eloquence of Sensibility. To rugged Science and the
austerity of analyzing reason, all thy ‸ sublimer soul is dedicated. This only the naked and
unfurnished hath the dusky fanes of morose morose philosophy, which thy soaring
spirrit is accustomed to frequent. Go on my friend — perseverance shall level every
obstacle before theee, and genius and Industry shall ‸ unite to place thee by the side of Borehaave
and of Haller. Go on: encouraged, by the weak and dubious voice of contemporary
approbation and the preassurance of the louder applauses of posterity, go on without
a competitor, at least without a competitor in me. By me never shall the tranquility
of thy elevation be molested, never thy career impided by the waves of envy or the
asperities of emulation. Never shall I tear from thy brow that illustrious recompence,
for which thou hast robbed society and sleep of so many hours. Never will I claim to
share with thee the throne of Science and the homage of the world: For there is the
purpose of my being and the source of my felicity, and while love admits me into
her asylum, and gives me access to the arms and to the h‸eart of Henriette, I look with
equal contempt on the treasures of Solomon and renown of Socrates.

From this oblivion you may easily suppose that neither of us very speedily
recovered. At length however she withdrew her cheek from mine, and resumed her
accustomed reserve.

Ah (said I) my Harrit. How quickly have you forgotten the resolution whi
you have expressed. I thought you intended to lay aside your coldness, your austerity.
Why should you change that heavenly attitude. Why should not those lips forever distill
their celestial sweetness on mine. What danger can be dreaded in a servan ‸ husband arms: O
holy and precious name! never shalt thou rob me of it. Destiny! Fortune! I defy
your power! My dearest creature! I hope you do not repent your condescention.

Repent (said she) impossible! But my dearest friend, we I must not indeed
be quite so liberal. Impose some constraint upon yourself. Heaven be witness for me
when I solemnly avow that my heart is yours. I also call that heaven to Witness
to the purity of my affection, to the rectitude of my thoughts. Let my friend make
the same appeal with the same serenity, and I shall no longer be uneasy at his
caresses, but why ‸ continued she, looking fond only upon me should I doubt thy faith or demand this proof of thy Integrity
No: my sweet youth, I am determined to confide in thee, without the sanction of oathes


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and imprecations. I will refuse thee nothing but but that which virtue, which decency command to be
witholden.

A rational and uninterupted conversation can never be supported in circumstances
like these. The debates of the heart, are ineffable, and between lovers sighs and glances
and gestures that outspeak the most voluble tongue
are the principle instruments of intercourse. we conversed, during the remainder of this
visit on topics, congenial to that enchanting Sentiment by which we are mutually
actuation, and which, though they are ingraven on the my memory, in indelible characters
would perhaps be improper for thear even of my friend ~

C.B.B.

P.S. I have read your dissertation with as much intuition as I could possibly bestow ‸ upon it,
but considered merely as a series of arguments, in support of a ‸ controvertion controverted proposition you must be
convinced that I am far from being a suitable judge of its merits, That I am utterly
incapable of analyzing it proofs and weighing the propriety of every conclusion. The diallect
f medicine is peculiarly unintelligible, but there is nothing in this performance which
I do not ‸ fully understand, but as the basis of your reasoning are facts, which have been
discovered on experiment,‸ or which are the result of actual inspection into the human
economy, they only who enjoy opportunities of examining their validity by the same
method can presume either to adopt or reject your opinions

You are not ambitious of excellence with regard to composition, and aspire
ly to correctness and perspicuity, and in these quallities your essay is certainly not
deficient. I know no one whose thoughts are more solid and judicious than those of
my friend, or whose expressions are better suited to the subject and occasion which
demand them. To write with classical elegance is the lot of few, but though this be
doubtless a desirable acknowledgment it is far from being necessary. Skill in compositio
is the result of long and incessant labour and attention, but there is somewhat that disposes
us to endeavour after its attainment, and which renders our efforts successful
which can only be derived from nature. May it not be disputed whether
the means are united to the end, whether more time and pains are not required
than than a reasonable being ought to bestow it. Whether these hours we
devoted to Rhetorical exercises would not be far more usefully employed
in storing the imagination with images and the understanding with ideas?
in enriching our minds with just and valuable Sentiments? In collecting and
arranging the elements of Knowledge. Those whose conceptions are ardent and
vigorous cannot fail of expressing themselves with sufficient energy, and all
the defects of composition may perhaps be outweighed by just arguments
useful relations, and humble perspecuity. May not your performances be
highly celebrated, your own doctrines be incontestably established, and the positions


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of your opponents be unanswerably confuted though you should be deficient
in propriety of terms or harmony of periods or elegance of phrazeology, unless
it can be known only by experiment whether nature has been propitious to
us. Untill the end of labours are be actually accomplished are not uncertain whether it be, in itself,
attainable? As it doubtful whether the importance of the end will justify thy
labour of pursuit, tis’ also dubious whether our purpose, such as tis be possib[gap]
to be accomplished. Elegance of composition Style is of no value when put in
competition with Solidity of thought. The power itself of thinking accurately
and reasoning justly, and the means by which this power is acquired or
improved, will necessarily induce such a degree of excellence in composition as
will sufficiently secure us from contempt and not only exempt us from the
inconvenience of writing or speaking unintelligibly in support of our opinions, but
‸ enable us to adorn our style with many valuable though simple quallities.

I confess that were I to consult only my own tastes I should willingly
espouse a different opinion. I am seldom profited by instruction unless it be
conveyed in elegant and pleasing language, but I know that the bulk of
mankind are very differently affected, and that in performances which are
designed to be generally useful, uncommon solicitude with regard to Style would
be not only useless but improper. That our language and ideas are to be reduced
to the standard of common mind and familiar diction.

I know that you will alledge in opposition to these remarks, that all
literary performances are not destined for the amusement or instruction of the
vulgar that genuine elegance is so far from being incompatible with perspicuity
that perspicuity is, in reality, one of its most indispensible ingredients, and that
its other quallities, though they tend to heighten the impression of our sentiments on
polish and cultivated minds, are at least without any injurious effect on
a coarse and vulgar comprehension, that while they intitle us to the praise of
men of taste and genius, they will at least not diminish the approbation of
common readers. You will probably observe also that to improve our style, it
is necessary to converse with men and books; that to limit our attention, merely
to Science, is impossible, or at least in this pursuit, by no means necessary that
means which any every one should must use to make himself master of the Style
of Addison or Johnson, will also unavoidably put him in possession of their
Sentiments; that the [gap] [gap] Reputation of a writer will be more permanent and
universal in proportion as he adds, to the force of sentiment, the embellish=
=ments of Composition. That it is our duty to not merely to offer but enforce the
truth, and to make use of every method to arrest attention and facilitate
conviction. You have often reasoned in this manner, and I know not whether
it be possible to confute you. At least the present is is not a suitable
opportunity for attempting it.


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