image pending 50

Sunday Morn. 9. OClock.

XIV.

Here Am I again, my Henriette, I dispatched my meal with the utmost
expedition, and retired with inconceivable Satisfaction to this studious recess. A description of
it would I believe amuse you. Surely never had philosopher so forlorn and comfortless a naked an
assylum ‸ Mansion. Time has worn the plaster from the walls. In most, places, the bricks, unevenly
and irregularly disposed are visible. It is in this building, as in all other productions of
Architecture, on that which the form of the structure requires to be concealed, less pains and
skill are employed, than those which are necessarily exposed to examination. The width a
breadth of it does not exceed ten feet and yet it has two doors and six windows.
One of the doors ‸ Entrances is shut up by boards which the plaine never touched, and which are
nailed across it without the least regard to neatness or regularity. The other which
may be supposed to stand in the front of the edifice, and leads into the garden, in the
northwestern corner of which the building is placed, is open and without a door. Though
though, as I perceive, part of the hinges, almost devoured with rust, still remain
In the windows there is no appearance of glass or shutters, and in one only, before ‸ which I have
placed a desk tottering on three legs, lockless and almost coverless, are there any remains
of a Sash. My door and window are adorned with a profusion of Lilacks and
Honey suckles, and [gap] ‸ in the holes and Crevices with which the wooden parts of the edifice
abound, Aunts and bumble bees without number have taken shelter, but seldom
molest me by their near approach. The flooring is gone, except in that part whi
supports my chair.

During this season, this retirement is by no means disagreable or
uncommodious, and I have often remained here, in defiance of the chilling blasts
of September, and the chearless cloudinesses of March. It serves all the purposes
to which I have dedicated it, and I have obstinately refused either to forsake this
assylum, ruinous and naked as it is, or to suffer any reparation of it. Were my
desk Mahogany, my floor covered with a persian carpet, and my walls
impannelled with plates, of polished silver, and adorned with the treasure
of farnese Medici and Belvedere, I should recieve infinitely less Satisfaction from
it than from the humility and rustic of its present appearance, and I am not less
delighted or benefited in gazing at the loosened cement and stragling bricks than
in Contemplating the broken shafts and shattered intablatures of Tedmor and
and Persepolis.



 image pending 51

I am ‸ far from thinking myself intitled to the praises which you have so liberally
conferred upon me. Indeed I know no rarer or more valuable quallification, than that of
describing common objects and relating familiar occurrences in such a manner as to render
them pleasing and instructive, but when this talent is acquired materials on which it
may usefully and properly be exercised can never be deficient. I cannot concieve that the
character of any man is unworthy to be known, and believe that there is no person, the
incidents, of whose life, if skilfully relation, would not furnish as much entertainment
by their variety and novelty as any fictitious narrative that ever was written. Fiction
however polished and elaborate, could never yet surpass reality. The life of most men
is a continual Comedy, which nature has furnished with characters events and
Scenes, which cannot be imagined by the strongest power of invention, and which
if faithfully related or described, would render the aid of fancy superfluous

No man can reasonably boast of greater experience than another. He that has
traveled over a greater extent, of country, associated & with a greater number of persons
than another, is not to be necessarily deemed more thoroughly acquainted either with
Man or nature. There is no sphere however limited, in which human nature may
not successfully ‸ be studied, and in which sufficient opportunities are not afforded
for the exercise of the deepest penetration, and as a philosopher will ‸ is able derive amusement
instruction from contemplating a post or a stone, so he whose descriptive powers are
vigorous, can always make the delineation of them a source of pleasure and improvm
The book of nature like every other volume is useful to the reader exactly in proportion
to his sagacity, and to the attention with which he peruses it, but what Advantage
can he derive from it, whose rapid and unsteady glances, can produce none but
general and indeterminate ideas? Who dwells not on a single object long enough
to know its properties. Nothing is more common than this inattentive and ‸ unobserving
disposition, and those circumstances, which though continually passing in his our
sight, he we wanted either power time or inclination to remark, will, when depicted
in words, and set before him us in a light so clear and forcible that it they cannot fail
of arresting his our attention, be viewed with singular satisfaction and advantage.

I have long been powerfully impressed with the Justness of these opinions
and have sometimes concieved the design of relating every domestic incident, and
accounting, every diallogue, and describing every scene that shall occur within
a certain & assynable period with the most excessive and elaborate minuteness.
Relations in which no circumstance, however frivolous and inconsiderable, should be
omitted, and pictures in which should be comprised every appendage. It may be questioned


 image pending 52

whether the force and accuray of words can be exceeded by the power of the pencil
though to the perfection of verbal portraitures, it is obvious that a greater veratility &
copiousness of Style, or greater command of language is indispencably required than
many persons have acquired attained. For my part I shall not scruple to pronounce in
in favour of the writer, but the circumstances in which the representations of the
poets and the painter differ, have been so frequently explained and are, in
themselves so manifest to the most negligent observer, that I shall not
weary my lovely friend with a trite and tedious disquisition, or with
attempting regularly to demonstrate my opinion

My design, to which I have just alluded, I have carried into execution
and find that my knowledge of the manners characters and mode of speaking
of those with whom I live is far more accurate and extensive than before, or
than could possibly have been derived from casual observation. I cannot denye
that had I listened with equal attention, or examined with equall vigilance
though without any design of recording what I saw or heard, I should have
experienced a new and astonishing increase of Knowledge, and therefore am convince
that exact and useful observation is practicable without the intervention or
assistance of the pen, but the resolution to describe, induced a kind of necessity
for procuring the Materials of description, and was a cogent and irresistable
incitement to attention, and the permanence of written records furnishes opportunity
for reviewing the Scene, and attending to the diallogue at liesure.

Such, My Harriot, are the opportunities and advantages of silent, indefatiga
=ble observation, and though what I have asserted with regard to the number &
variety of Scenes and characters with which I have been conversant, were not
strictly true, yet might I not still claim the merit of experience & sagacity
To visit Europe is it necessary to cross the ocean? Cannot I traverse Connecticut or
Carolina while sitting in my closet? And admire the dignity and Affability
of Frederick or Joseph though I never dined or walked in company with either
though I never traversed the Ramparts of Berlin and or Vienna. And cannot I
converse with Gellert, Haller or Gesner, though I never set my foot within the
precincts of Zurich or Gottingen, or Leipsic



 image pending 53

I hope I do not deserve the Imputation of vanity, and yet if to praise oneself
whether praise be merited or not, be a sufficient proof of vanity I cannot hope to
elude the charge. Among the quallifications of my Harriot I very quickly
perceived that uncommon penetration was to be ranked, and I was conscious that
she would not fail to exert, her utmost sagacity, in scrutinizing the character
of her friend. I have therefore always acted and spoken with sincerity from the
strongest and invincible motives, from motives of [gap] immediate and apparent Interest.
Duplicity and affectation will scarcely be employed by one who sees that, instead
of producing the end for which they should be used, they would only counteract
and obviate it. Faults are only l[gap] agravated by hipocritical pretences and ostentatious
disguises, and sincerity can never be otherwise than meritorious. I assure you
that I am flattered by a consciousness of my own integrity in this ‸ respect, and cannot
accuse myself of a single act of craft or dissimulation, with disguising any of
my sentiments, with asserting what I know to be false, with professing to
believe without actual conviction, or with substituting on any occasion appearances
for realities, during my intercourse with you. I am willing that my candour
and disinterestedness should be imputed to a noble motive, but it is certain that
a conviction of the uselessness of disimulation, is a cause of itself sufficient to
induce me to avoid, it, the inefficacy of an expedient is certainly the strongest
motive for rejecting it

If I have really admitted an elevated opinion of my own talents
or attainments, is not the concealment of it a proof of insincerity, and therefore
culpable? And by what artifices could I hope to hide the self-applause from
you? In confessing my vanity I ‸ only disclose what is already known to you. But what is
the consequence of this Confession? It is surely not without some degree of merit. If it
be in consequence of a determination not to to deceive, your, nor to wear appearances which do
not really belong it me, it may justly be regarded as a proof of candour, or if I forbear
to disemble only because I percieve that to disemble would be useless, cannot I found on
this confession some claim to Sagacity, for by what other power was I inabled to
discover the inutility of false pretenses.

See, my lovely friend, with what laborious ingenuity I contrive to derive
applause even from the acknowledgement of a weakness. I am affraid that you
ill not much approve my skill, and that you will be inclined to suspect that my


 image pending 54

openness and frankness is only a new refinement upon vanity. I own I do not thoroughly
comprehend my own motives, and will repeat, without attempting to explain or
palliate my behaviour, that I believe myself to have enjoyed opportunities of
observation, and of acquiring a knowledge of the world, which few others, equally yound
have possessed. But I can discover no vanity in this acknowledgment. That I have
been a witness of various scenes, and experienced many vicissitudes of fortune, is not
proof of my superiority to others, but though to have enjoyed opportunities of Knowledge
is no subject of panagerick, ‸ yet not to have profited by these opportunity will
furnish just occasion for censure. He whose grievance is inevitable is less to be despised
than he in whom it is voluntary.

Excellence is either absolute or comparative; on comparing myself with those
with ‸ whom it is my fortune to associate, I am seldom inclined to question my own
superiority, but on examining what I ought to be, by and measuring my own
attainments, by the standard of character, remote or ancient, the phantom of superiority
quickly vanishes and leaves me to regret my measureless distance from absolute excellence.

But you require me to give you some account of past transactions, and to communi
=cate some part of that knowledge in which I am ‸ so boastfully declared myself a
proficient. Ah! my amiable friend, your requisition can never be complied with,
nor can I ever be prevailed upon to reveal domestic incidents, not because, in acting
in such a manner, I should imprudently be guilty of any breach of confidence or any
violation of propriety but because, the pain would overflweigh the pleasure of
attending to the narrative, and no instructions could be derived from the melancholy
tale equal to the severity of those wounds, which your sencibilility would inevitably
suffer. If I cannot preserve the reputation of experience but by such communications
I must however reluctantly, relinquish it; and be contented to be stigmatized as
ignorant and unexperienced, like those above whom I am so far exalted by the powers
of a vain Imagination

Do you know with whom, in moments of imaginary elevation, I am
sometimes tempted to compare myself? Ah! my Henriette, you know not
half the weaknesses of your unworthy friend, and in the progress of these
discoveries which you are dayly making with regard to my character, I am affraid
that at length you will find abundant reason to withhold your approbation and
forbear your panagerick, but whatever may be your ‸ future opinion with regard to me, I am
shall never scruple to claim the merit of Sincerity, and doubt not but that, on the


 image pending 55

most exact and diligent examination, your confidence in me will, be, in no degree abated
You will find me, amidst all my weaknesses, fully sencible of the charms of virtue
and of the deformities of vice, and always endeavouring to resist temptations, and never
yielding to them without remorse and repentance

I think it may safely be asserted that of all the virtues, mankind is most
universally deficient in sincerity, and the innumerable casuistical distinctions, which
which the ingenuity of every man furnishes him, renders extenuates the neglect guilt of severity, in the
eye of him who commits it. He ventures not only to commit ‸ it without scruple but to acknowledge and
vindicate the commission. How many motives are there for concealing our real Sentiments
& for counterfeiting conviction, and approbation? and conviction? and how many occasions
are there, on which, if its immediate and temporary effects only be considered, Sincerity
is criminal, and when a strict adherence to it would be, not only, an infraction of politeness
but a deviation from rectitude? He who exhibits in his deportment, appearances inconsist
with his real Character, is undoubtedly an hypocrite, but Routine though it appears to
have rendered the disguise of our real Sentiments, in may circumstances, indispensably, yet
cannot alter the nature of things; cannot convert vice into virtue or beauty into
ugliness, cannot change sincerity into a crime or render hypocrisy laudable. If two
persons be openly and equally applauded, and both are qually convinced of the
penetration and sincerity ‸ veracity of him who applauds, ‸ he who freely intimates this conviction
and scruples not to own himself conscious of his merit, would perhaps be ridiculed as
vain and arrogant, while the other who studiously diclaims all pretentions to the good
qualilities which are ascribed to him, will procure the reputation of modesty, though it
be clearly seen that his diffidence extends no farther than his words and that the
sentiments of both are the same though their professions differ. Cuss Custom commands
that in our intercourse with others we should wear all the exterior Symbols of Modesty,
and always voluntarily shrink from the praises conferred upon us, whatever be our real or
real and internal Sentiment: but I cannot conceive any occasion on which it is justifiable
to dispence with the observance of Sincerity; on which it is not our invariable duty, to
utter our genuine Sentiments and act in a natural Character.

Will you permit me to leave you for a moment? and conclude my letter?
Forgive the abruptness of this conclusion, and to continue to esteem, in spite of his demerits
C. B. B.