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Saturday Morning Two OClock ~

I have been conversing with Rousseau. I have, since ten OClock,
been flying with a rapturous attention through his illumined and impassioned
pages. Notwithstanding the obscurities and difficulties of a foreign tongue
of which my knowledge is extreemly imperfect I can easily percieve
the transcendant excellence of this performance. What a model of pathetic
eloquence! Thus it must always be when the sentiments are the genuine
offspring of the heart: when we speak with the voice of truth and
nature. Love has been said to be the most prevalent and universal of
human passion; And yet what numbers have never felt its influence? How
much idle declamation has it occasioned? I have always been of opinion
that it is impossible for any one to judge of the truth and accuracy of of
representation of the progress and effects of love, who has not personally
experienced its violent and impetuous sensations. It will, at least, be confessed
that experience only can enable any one, justly and forcibly, to describe it
It might, with equal propriety, be exacted from a painter to delineate
the countenance of a man whom he had never seen, as from one that had
never loved, to describe the lover.

I will take an opportunity to shew you the specimen of an
amorous correspondence, founded on truth and nature, in which the
parties were, indeed, less polished and refined, less enlightened by
education and less the victims of adversity, but not less ardent and
sincere and virtuous and delicate than St. Preux and Heloise. A
Correspondence which I have often been delighted in comparing with
the vivid fictions of Rousseau, and this comparison has furnished a stronger
proof of the genius of that inimitable writer, than could be afforded by


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by the application of any other test of beauty or propriety.

But this subject has taken my attention from your last valuable and
copious Epistle. I will now return to it, and endeavour to afford you higher
satisfaction than appears to have been recieved from the perusal of my last.

"Distressed, (do you say?) harrassed tortured—" is it possible? Are you really
serious? "Reproof! Ridicule.!" Friendship and Civility forbid! What would
I give that the letter, which has occasioned your uneasiness, had never been
written? But surely you have mistaken my i ntention: I would not have
designed either reproof or ridicule. There was nothing in your letter that
could justify it, and had it been ever been ever so ridiculous and
censurable, my affection for the Writer would have blinded my discern=
=ment, or prevented me from using those detestable weapons; the use of
which is incompatable with friendship, and from which I ought with
greater caution to abstain, because the wounds which they inflict upon
mys own sencibility, are absolutely incurable.

Alas! Where has the delicacy of exalted friendship vanished! That
friendship, whose ear is accustomed only to the murmers of unspeakable
tenderness, before whose inchanting influence the haggard forms of
languor and impatience and inquietude are fled, who heightens the
luxury of silence, and the Sanctity of melancholy, who startles at the
bursts of empty laughter and the vociferations of boisterous wit, who
binds, in holy sympathy, the passions of conversing friends, and blends their
souls in the calm extatic intercource of pure and spirritual intelligencies.
Thy Sceptre is broken! Thy reign is finished! Thou art gone forever! forever!
forever!

Hah! What is the matter with me? Surely I am haunted by some
malignant dæmon, who wrests from me the dominions of my pen
and makes it utter Sentiments, which it is my interest and my duty
to conceal. Let me die if I can help it. I cannot but be sometimes
impatient under [gap] an intolerable load of disappointment and


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vexation. When alone I weep and laugh alternately. I am, at one time, by
the force of Imagination, exalted into gayety, but her pinions are less
vigorous than formerly: she closes them too soon; and sinks at once
to an immeasurable depth. You have read Milton. See here a
description of my situation


Her sail-broad vans (Fancy's)
She spreads for flight, and by her native force
Uplifted spurns the ground: thence many a league
As in a cloudy chair, ascending rides
Audacious but that seat soon failing, meets
A vast vacuity: All unawares
Fluttering her pinions vain, plumb down she drops
Ten thousand fathom deep —

But what is my condition to you? What my disease? Can you
cure it? Yes. But I will not tell you how. The antidote must be
voluntarily administered —

"What art thou about, O Writer? Incorrigible fool! Unpitiable
Wretch! Wilt thou still continue to act in contradiction to thy maxims
When wilt thou be wise, and learn to act in consequence of reason?"

Pity me my friend; —or laugh at me, just as you think
proper. But your pity will be most acceptable. I am proud.
Do you know that I am proud? And that this pride is the source
of consolation? Ye beings that were born to creep! I look down upon
you! But is my elevation real or imaginary? No matter. I believe
it to be real, and that conviction is sufficient. You see, me, my dear
friend, uncovered to your view; and standing before you in all
the nakedness of sincerity. I wish thou wast a living eye, and
that all my soul were visible to thy discernment. But why
should I attempt to conceal any of my foibles from thee? Thou are too

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glaring to escape detection; Thy penetration can easily divest my failings
of their mask, and snatch the stolen laurel from my brow.
What makes me write thus strangely? Is it this gloomy and
unpropitious hour? Midnight is the season of Insanity. It borders
upon three. Tick! Tick. Tick. How rapidly fly the moments! Whether
talking or writing, I cannot get rid of myself. I leave my paper
Throw my pen upon the floors and crush it with my heel. I walk
irregularly and with unequal steps, to and fro. How I rave! Sad and
joyous in the same comprehensive moment, and uttering vehement
soliloques, of which the abruptness renders them intelligible only to
myself.

"Angel of destruction! I feel the pressure of thy rod. Thou over=
whelmest me with darkness. What coldness in thy touch! —Thy
brow how pale! How livid! My blood curdles at the sight of thee.
How dreadful how desirable thy presence! What mingled terror and
delight accompany thy steps! Forbear to push me farther. I have falter,
I tell thee, on the very edge. I overlook the precipice. What a turbulent
and stormy sea! Darkness sits upon it. Shall I leap? Of my own
accord? No. I will stay till I am irresistably impelled, Yes—I will see ‸ you
on your way to morrow. Leave me for the present. I will spend
the ‸ night upon the virge of this jutting promontory. I know not how I
came hither, but I am determined to remain, and listen to the
noises of the winds and wake waves. The voice of ocean and the music
of the elements.

Hah! why am I startled at thy presence? How earnestly have I
besought thee to reveal thyself, and shall I now be overwhelmed with
speechless terror at thy appearance? I will not touch tremble. What hast thou
to tell me? Shall I live forever? Is my being finite or immortal? Let my
ear be ravished with the joyful tidings of eternity! AH! How quickly, how
unseasonably dost thou vanish! horrible delusion! Beloved spirit! thou

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existest not, or surely thou couldst easily illumine my benighted Soul
and intellectually intimate the certainty of thy existance. Heaven befriend
me! I am sick—sick at heart. But still reason is my own. I am master
of my pen. I will finish my epistle. Hah! I am lost—The confusion
has subsided—O take me to thyself thou best of friends! My Bringhurst!
Suffer me to call thee by the tenderest appellations. My heart is open
to divine and softening impressions. I am soul all over. This moment
is as bright as the former was gloomy. And what, thinkest thou,
occasioned this delightful revolution. I caught a momentary glympse
of my Correspondent. I saw him him buried in profound and
tranquil sleep. The serenity of virtue sat upon his countenance.
Here (thought I) is one whose esteem is honourable; whose affection
is to be prized beyond the Mine of Golconda or the diadem of
Britain. He looks upon me with regard. He dreems of me. His lips
inarticulably and involuntaryly utter my name. My idea flew
across his fa‸ ncy and he smiled. My soul is not, indeed, the Inhabitant
of his Sensorium. I am not a witness to the operations of his fancy.
But I am not—I will not be mistaken. It is I of whom he is
this moment dreaming. I talk with him. He converses with me.
Heavenly Sympathy! I feel thy influence! As, in the deserts of Arabia,
the cool spring is grateful to the scorched and famished soul, to me,
thy influence is pleasing and acceptable. Let me cherish thee, and find
in the ‸ sacred rapture which thou breathest, a refuge from despair, a cure for
madness and an Antidote to grief.

I cannot reason. To-morrow I will talk to you of Suicide and
Necessity. At this time I am violently agitated by different emotions.
I see nothing but myself and thee.

You have discovered inconsistencies in my letter. Very
probably, You think I talk absurdly, and do not comprehend the argument
which I use. Is that surprising or singular? Am I not a Mass of


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absurdities and inconsistencies? Am I not uniform in contradictions, and invariable
in vicissitude? Would you imagine that all the parts of the letter which
lies before you, were the production of the same hand, or written within
the same hour?

I must now sleep unless I mean to spend the night in
watchfulness. These indefatigable vigils are ruinous to the eyes and
destructive of the constitution, and yet I will persevere in the same
unwholesome tract. But perhaps habit has enured me to them.
I have [gap]ften been in a grave yard [gap]t twelve O Clock, carried thither merely
by the love of solitude and contemplation, four miles from my lodging.
To slumber during day and wake at night was ever the invariable
tenor of my conduct. Farewell. Excuse the faults and esteem, tho as they
deserve, the virtues of him, who, in calling thee his friend, will recieve
as much pleasure, as it is possible for him to confer on
Brown ~

I will take another opportunity to analyze your letter. Yet why should
we perplex ourselves with these enquiries? I have formed my opinion.
It is built on a basis too firm to be shaken. Argument and feeling were
its Architects. Neither of us can hope to change the opinion of the other.
Neither [gap]f us can hope to change—Ah! I have written that before.
Now indeed, it is time to leave off~Farewell and possibly forever!
Who knows but before the return of Morning I shall be no more.
Death may seize me ere I sleep! I dred him not. Let him come. His
presence will be pleasing. I shall then be certain, and, if I exist,
I make thee, my friend, a solemn promise, and seal it with the most
tremendous sanctions, that my spirit shall reveal itself to thine
and tell thee all that may lawfully be told, or that thou art


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desirous of knowing. O that the veil of futurity were pervious to
mortal light! Dost thou not join me in the wish! Alas! thou
hearest me not. Thou slumberest: Art dead. May thy slumbers
be serene! May the dreams of paradise amuse thy sleep!
And angels on each hand conduct thee safe through tempest
and obscurity, to light and peace! So supplicates through tempest
and obscurity—Again! Not another letter—