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July 2. 1793.

Thou hast a generous correspondent my Susan. I wish thy engagements would
suffer thee to vye with him in generosity: Yet would thou be more laudably
employed then than now: if time made not those demands on thy attention
and activity which it now makes, would it not furnish ‸thee with more useful employ
-ment than that of writing league-long letters ‸to me That is a question: but if
I should be obliged to answer yes: I must add, that I ‸can conceive an hundred occupa
=tions, all specious and grave, which would be of less Utility than ‸that of furnishing
R.H. with new motives to virtue and diligence

Our Atmosphere is sultry and noxious: Can any objections be made
to the Conclusions of a certain theorist, that Islands are the abodes of health,
‸ and that in them the Skiey influences are always propitious but that and wide spread Continents; by generating extremes; are the sources of disorder.
He tells us that in days of yore, the earth exhibited, a glittering scene expance of water
checkered by innumerable Islands, considerably uniform; all tending to the
oval; both in shape, and the eveness of a convex surface; equal in size, never
exceeding or falling short, of moderate dimensions; and regular in distribution
and that the effects of this arrangement; were universally; from pole to pole, the
reign of temperate and serene air; products of every kind, springing from every soil
Man, ‸ “long avi” & walking in innocence.

How long this condition of things subsisted, is beyond calculation; but
a period at last arrived; and the ancient foes fire and water; after keeping for
ages at an harmless distance, mingled at last in destructive warfare; and produced
the Scene, of which we are now witnesses; the waters flocked together and upo
on monstrous lands, while, while solid masses of huge extent; and full of cavernous
and mountainous angularities; occupied the place of the small and smooth
that beautified the firmer face of this planet; from this chaos of earth and seas
flowed the extremes of heat and cold; the now freezing chilling in to the heart and anew
scorching us to cinders; inclemencies of Sky and malignities of soil; labour duressed
and shortened life; then began the temptations of property and government, and hum
=man life from a playsome dance, degenerated into a weary pilgrimage.

If these be not Science there is poetry in this picture. If there This at an earli
er age was enough for me; It suited my purpose much better than the beautious views
of Buffon and the frigid accuracy of De Luc: I could not desire a fitter barn for my
structures. Thou my Susan are yet to see the wonder of my hand: What a well ordered fancy
[gap] perform in supplying the deficiencies and filling up the chasm of history:


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My dream is a long and a poetic one: Six thousand Years is sufficient to insure
the last; As to the first, a drama in which the Acters are nations; and the changes
such as involve; the many coloured destiny of millions, can hardly fail of being
busy.

Many will deride my dream. They are not aware that poetry is only then key
& the mind congenial to its nature when it ‸ mimics the Creator & embodies truth. We know that human
Capacity must be limited but it is impossible to ascertain these limits. Science
is the knowledge of existing truth, the knowledge of the laws by which the
physical and moral Universe are governed, laws which we have reason to
believe are simple invariable and irresistable. Either Universe is nothing but
a Scheme of harmony and order, or in other words, of the pretence of established
laws, of endless and unwarranted accusation.

     It is the province of the Understanding to investigate the chain of
Causes: to trace all efforts to causes; and to resolve all causes into one. It is
the province of Imagination to descend from causes to effects: to trace a particular
series of Consequences to an unlimited extent, and to paint them not merely
as possible but real

     Let us cast our eye over the larger part of the Civilized world
Shall we not be astonished in percieving what diversified and immeasurable effects
have flowed from the [gap] of the [gap] so trivial an incident as the birth of one human being, and the
accidental continuance of his life to manhood and his taste for a lawless
and independent life these thousand years ago; for had not Romulus been
born the face of the world would assuredly have been widely different
from its present appearance. But if the world be eternal this event will
continue to operate to all eternity. Imagination may look into futurity and
trace with prophetic eye every revolution in the moral world, and its pictures will
be just that is they will be Anticipations of reality in as much as the sagacity
which directs it is powerfull and the knowledge accurate and comprehensive which
that Sagacity employs. If we imagine any incident that has taken place
not to have happened, it is manifest that we annihilate whatever has existed
in consequence of that event. We can easily conceive the nice contingencies on which
the truth and life of every man depends but to the mind if there is every rev
olution in the world to be ultimately traced. The poet represents things differently


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from their real state. The priviledge of working miracles must therefore be allowed
him. The fewer miracles ‸ he works the better, the fewer causes he creates the better: It will
‸ through Negligence or unskilfullness only if he use his priviledge in working more than one

The priviledges of the poet are, in one view, extremely narrow. The Course of nature
is before him. It is the privile ‸ duty of the historian to describe as it is. It is the province
of poetry to imagine a change more or less extensive; to suppose one or more events
to have taken place which however never happened, and then to pursue the Consequences
which naturally and inevitably flow from these events, supposing them to have existed
and which on that supposition are sacred and uncontestable truths

The excellence of poetry consists in two things: the Accuracy and fidelity with
which it imitates truth and adheres to the course of nature, or in other words, the
exactness of resemblance between those facts which he deduces from a supposititious
cause, and that sense that would have inevitably flowed, from the same cause
had it really existed, and ‸ Secondly to the Utility of that purpose to which its fictions are subser
vient

In one sense the prerogratives of the poet are ample. He is limited to the
copying of truth, but the history of mankind will shew that the smallest
causes are equivalent to the most August effects If we entrust him with
the Management of a single suppostitious cause, he may display its consequences
to what extent he pleases, provided he conform to truth and has proper regard to
the real nature of things. He may make his stage the surface of a planetary system
fill his Scenes with empires and nations, and carry on a broken thread from century
to Century; and the excellence of the work will intirely depend upon the faithfull
=ness with which he transcribes from the volume of eternal truth and salutar
y end which his transcripts tend to promote

The World may not be destined to eternity, but it may exist and the
human race may exist along with it for millions of centuries to come. They only
will be startled at this supposition who make their own momentary being the
standard of time, and reflect not, that, to a comprehensive view, thousands of years dwindle
into moments. The whole Universe is in constant flux or perpetual mutation, nor
shall we find it difficult to concieve that in this endless progress, the same atom
of matter may pass through every possible Combination, the whole circle of possi
bilities may be exhausted, and perhaps the same coincidents & combinations frequently

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repeated. It is no less credible that every possible modification of human society
and of individual mind may, at some period or another be called into being: So
that the sublime visions of imagination may do no more than scale the past or
anticipate the future, provided imagination is disciplined by obseration & expression
is sustained in its flight by extensive knowledge and profuse sagacity.

X
Have I succeeded, my Susan, in depicting the nature and offices of poetry
For what purpose dost thou ask: To vindicate my own executions: If we contrive the tale of
one imaginary being: and place ‸ him in the midst of real Circumstances: we listen with patience.
It is easy to conform our belief to a Scene, as most of what is really before us. Grandison
and England and Italy: only recall Scenes with which are duly convesant: If we feign not
an individual but a nation: probability begins to be sorely wounded. We listen with doubt,
faction and distrust: Some paliation indeed is attained if we place our community in
the heart of New Holland, or environ them with the sands of the lower Æthiopia.
In proportion as we encroatch upon the actual state of things, do we appear in common
eyes, to violate probability; whereas, the truth is, ‸ genuine probability may be grossly infringed
by him who relates the exploits of one ‸ man in a remote age and country for example, than by him whose fancy
creates new Nations and new languages, who converts populous regions into a desert, or
fills a Wilderness with Multitudes
‸ If I change the whole face of mankind: suppose the prevalence of new systems of opinion
new distributions of power and knowledge, new relations and dependencies, new languages
If I paint a scene in which there is as little resemblance to the actual spectacle, as
there is between the monarchy of England and that of Mexico; and make this Scene compre
hend the terraqueous globe: I should be charged perhaps with erroneous mutation of proba
bility, and yet to ‸ evince the truth of this charge, it need only be granted me: that an ‸ new born infant
instead of being, at a certain hour, awake and crying, should have been sound asleep. Surely
there is nothing very violent in this supposition. Let this, however, be admitted and it
unavoidably follows that the present state of mankind would, at this day have been in
all material points, totally different from the state in which we find it: for admitting
for, admitting the Athenticity of the jewish history on the same footing with that of
other narratives: so ‸ apparently trivial was the incident on which the condition of Mankind for many
ages, ‸ has depended.

Thou wilt perhaps observe that in proportion to the extent of the event, which
owes its birth to invention, must be the Skill of the inventor. Is this true my Susan
Science is the region of Simplicity: Human Society is a machine, to which like [gap] all
others, there must be but one Master spring: As long as our inquiries fall short of the source


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of ‸ its motives noth wonder that we should be bewildered in incessant perplexity & doubt
but when our discoveries have reached this ultimate point: its confusion melts [gap] ‸ away
into harmony: the Scene is intelligible and consistent:

Man, the species and the individual is progressive: What is the point from which he
set out? What are the necessary steps of this progress, that he has hitherto; ‸ made what the
gradation and the ‸ ultimate point of his progress hereafter; What are the laws which regulate
this progress; The Condition of man varies in different portions of the globe: In some regions
he appears to be nearly if not wholly in his pristine state. Such is he found on the shores
of Angola New Holland and ‸ in the forests of Angola. Thus it is to be inferred that the principle of
improvement is liable to the influence of exterior Circumstances

It is proper to ascertain the effect of various conditions: Human Society frequently re-
mains in the same Condition for ages. It is often liable to constant changes: Advances to certain
degrees; of excellence; ‸ or degeneration with quicker or tardier; with a continued or interrupted pace. Which
are the causes that produce these appearances.

These causes must make themselves into two classes: those of improvement and
those of degeneracy: if we know ‸ would contribute to human improvement: we must know the
causes that produce it: and thou attend it: that we may enlist and inform the one; and
anticipate the other: One result of our inquiries will perhaps be, that as Society is composed of
individuals, all changes, of greate or little moment, must flow from the effects of individuals,
and that therefore single men are justified in fostering designs which have contemplated the
most extensive effects: The happiness of mankind must be allowed to be an object of the
last importance: and that therefore all Sciences are inferior in dignity and usefullness to
that which is conversant with the causes of his felicity and misery.

To contribute all in our power to augment the portion of human happiness is
doubtless the precept of our duty: I may have Mistaken the means best suited to this
end: These ‸ Actions which I imagine beneficial in their tendency, may in reality be hurtful
or indifferent; or that to which I ascribe the greatest efficacy; may, in reality possess the
least: I am liable to be denied; but I am nevertheless bound to employ the means,
which appear to be most exellent: and my conceptions will be true, in proportion to my
ardour and industry in the search of truth:

This brings us back, my Susan, to the question of the merit of thy friend’s dreams:
What are these dreams but illustrations of the principles of morals and politics. If the
principles be just, and the illustrations apposite, they cannot but be useful. The Commu-
nication of Knowledge implies the previous possession of it: duty is in certain cases active,
if its activity be consistent with the employment of sharpening [gap] ‸ our tools: as well to the ‸ as of applying
them to use.



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The knowledge of truth is wisdom. The practiced adhere to it in virtue and happiness:
Let me make them wise by imparting to them wisdom the knowledge of their duty: let me win
them to the [gap] practice of it by displaying its practical effects.

My fancy has depicted the consequences of a slight variation, in the history Condition of man
in a primeval age: one of the effects of this change has been, the present Attainment
by a certain portion of the existing generation; of a degree of moral exellence which
the actual history of mankind no where exhibits: Let me then exhibit to the eyes
of these ‸ nations; whose ‸ portion is ignorance, and misery its daughter, misery: the picture of a community
where all are votaries of truth and justice ‸ and of consequence where all are happy. Is such a picture chimerical; that is does
the constitution of human nature make it impossible for a whole community to be
wise and just:This thou knowest has often been asserted: Thou and I as firmly believe the
Contrary. And that the natural tendency of human affairs: is to this point if no foreign
and artificial pretentions were sowd in the path. If it were chimerical then it must
be allowed that Individuals are capable of being wise and happy. Now the great employ
ment ‸ of virtue, is to diffuse virtue ‸ itself: such is the Scene if all were virtuous: To this end its efforts must
bend. It may never reach it, but it will without ‸ doubt approach.

Men are and ever are their ‸ strenuous in their virtue, in proportion as they have a powerful Concepti
on of the benefits flowing from it.. To dwell with a copious and living pencil on their
benefits: to exhibit them in all their extent: and detail, to bestow upon them form and
substance; must surely be a useful task:

But contrast is an useful instrument: If Virtue be befriended by displaying
its disaddvantages: Vice must be discouraged by an exhibition of its miseries. How
shall this desirable end be accomplished; The beings with whom we live are almost wholly strangers to
truth and Justice and truth: What a calamitous and ignominious spectacle presents
itself on every Side of us: Who would be better qualified to view this Scene in its
hour: and to furnish a more ‸ an animated picture of its evils: than one, whom some accident
induced to visit us, and to forgo for so long the converse of a pure & enlightened
race.

But why my Susan do I talk thus to thee: These Sentiments are familiar to thee
but I love to follow where the momentary impulse leads: and pay no regard to the
laws, which pedantry has enacted.

Conswould has expressed a desire to be initiated in the knowledge of those Characters:
I explained to him the exalted superiority of this System. The remark naturally occurred to
him that the advantage must be small, which confined to one or a few individuals.



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I am dubious whether it would be worth his while to acquire it.

July 3rd. 1793.

Conswould and I have been rambling, the better part of this day in the fields.
I could repeat to thee various Conversations, none of which are wholly uninteresting
but I must forbear: One circumstance dwells particularly on my memory:
I was talking of myself, of thee, of my Siter; when I took occasion to observe
that he thought I exceeded all men in Candour:

If I did not recollect the time when I was more reserved: and do not
mark perpetual reserve in others: and [gap] ‸ know to what features in their character it was to be
ascribed, I should have heard this ‸ remark with astonishment: How simple is the lesson of
wisdom: To think and act justly: what heaps of Casuistry and ‸ of the rubbish of prudence
politeness and the like does this simple principle, well understood, remove: He whose
heart forbears nothing but benevolence; who cannot be known, but to his own advantage
and to the advancement of the generous ends which he contemplates: We talked much
about the duty of Sincerity. My friend imagines that ‸ secrecy & falsehoods, are often useful and
just and stated some very extreme cases: wherein, I must allow, it required no little
scrutiny to ascertain to which side the balance, but, ‸ inclined, but the day was before us and
the theme was no less excelent than copious: He did not spare, therefore, but betowed
on a Subject as momentous and that various and deliberate discussion which it merited

The Authority of Scripture was introduced. That can not ‸ but be allowable which the deity
himself has sanctioned by his practice: He has used th[gap] falsehood, on one occasion at least, as
the instrument of affecting the ends of his providence. It is just therefore, to make use
of ‸ it for accomplishing our purposes provided our purposes be good. There is no christian precept
which directly and absolutely prohibits falsehood. On one occasion indeed secrecy be
expressly injoined: One, after receiving ‸ a benefit at the hand of Jesus, a benefit, is strictly charged
to mention it again to no man, and we are commanded to conceal our charity and good
deeds: The Conclusion deducible from these examples, is sufficiently plain; To me indeed
was superfluous evidence, even. I lay no stress on any things, but the deductions of my
own Understanding: but my friend, as long as he maintains his present opinions, must
doubtless assent to its validity. If Sincerity be not useful it is vicious: Duplicity [gap]
in many temporary inconveniences, and procures so much seeming good that it is not to be
wondered that man ‸ in other respects of strict morals admit allow the its excellence: Our views must in no small degree, extend
before we can comprehend the [gap] advantage that results from the invincible practice of
Sincerity, but that advantage is not less real, and because it is remote or indirect.


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It was admirable that my friends imagination suggested no [gap] ‸ case more extreme than some
that had actually happened to myself: Those I related: the inference was feasible, for
Sincerity had always proved to ‸ me, the eligible plan. The confusion in which leser principles
had formerly involved me, was also a useful lesson: The farther men wander from
the path of Virtue, the more difficult do they find it to return: but the difficulties
are apparent merely: if our observation ‸ reformation be sincere intire and permanent; they vanish when we
approach near to them.

I listen with Compassion to the frequent complaints that perfect virtue is unattainable
Of all errors this is ‸ one among the most dangerous errors. Along as the prize is hopeless why should
we labour to obtain it: It becomes us to sit down and wake the bud of the good that
remains to us: Yet the great ‸ teacher, religion was of a different opinion. He exhorts his fellows
to aim at nothing less than the perfection of the deity. Every day, indeed, furnishes
us examples of men who sacrifice all that ‸ the world men are is accustomed to esteem precious to
their Sence of duty. Their Conceptions ‸ of duty, it is true are commonly erronious: but they are neverthe
less examples that men may be actuated, by throughout their lives, by the motives of the
purest disinterestedness. What is it that has carried the Romish and Moravian Missionaries,
to the most dreary coasts; and inhospitable climates; where They have displayed a courage, which
no obstacles; could withstand; and no disasters could shake?

X
If there be cases in which a man can adhere to his sincerity at no less expense than
that of life and fame: we should show strange ignorance of mankind to suppose that the
no one can acquire fortitude enough to make the sacrifice. It is difficult indeed for
a virtuous man to make suitable allowance for the ignorance and infirmity of others
in discoursing on such a topic as like this. To me, my Susan, who can safely affirm
that, as far as I know my duty I adhere to it, and when on incessantly inquiring in
what my duty consists, when I appeal to my own feelings, every personal advantage appears
as trivial in comparison with duty, that duty, which enjoins me to think and act for
the good of mankind: and particularly: to abstain from every species of falsehood, that I
at some moments wonder that the balance can, ‸ in any hand, tremble for an instant. Life
separated for the consciousness of rectitude, appears of so little worth: that death, instead
of the greatest, frequently appears the least of evils.

I forget for a time that the conclusions of others vary from mine merely because
their premises are different: and that in all their actions: they are governed no less power
fully than mine myself by the belief that the path they pursue is intrinsically preferable
that for this very mistake they are no more culpable, and that instead of reviling or punishing


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them, my sole business is to point out to them the error of their choice: and by enlightening
their Understanding render them virtuous and happy.

From the Subject of Sincerity the transition was natural to a disclosure of
some secrets by Cogswould. Secrets he, at first, intended they should be but I not only
refused to promise secrecy on my part, but declared my resolution of making whatever
use I might think proper of the facts which he might disclose: My friend
said I, you know my principle. A promise I consider as absurd and vitious: Virtue is a
stranger to secrecy: All the information I possess, is sacred to one purposs. What you
shall communicate will compose part of this information: and over that ‸ the whole I shall
evince the same discretions —Well (replied he) if you will not promise, yet I know you
will not mention ‸ them again, because, by so doing you may injure me, but will not
benefit any body. Are you sure I shall regard it in the same light as you do and
shall not form different ideas from yourself of what will tend to your benefit and
what to your injury. Are you sure that I shall not be induced to make them public
with a view merely to your good? Whatever they be, my expectations will be greatly I shall be much mistaken if I do
disappointed if not see reason to unfold them immediately to Susan Godolphin. —O that must not
be. No Soul must know them but yourself —Assure yourself, my friend, I shall
on that as on all other points, exercise my own discretion —but it is impossible
you should not see the necessity of profound secrecy. —Nay with my principle, I think
the Contrary is very probable —Why you do not seem inclined to hear them though you
often urged me explain my situation —Nay I am exceedingly desirous of knowing
but for what reason am I thus curious: merely that I may do you good, and
the knowledge of your situation: is necessary to that end: What it not be preposterous
to accept your confidence on terms which might hinder me from making that
use of it, for the sake of which only that Confidence is desirable —But have I not
told you that you may hurt me, but can benefit no body, by disclosing it —
True! My friend, but if I mean to be of service to you, will you not allow me
to judge in what way I can be most effectually so, and act accordingly? On
such terms I do not desire your confidence —You are ‸ a strange fellow I do not know what
to say. Whether to tell you or not. —Reflect, my friend, whether my integrity and
sagacity may not entitle me to your unconditional confidence. —Did I not tell
you something, a good while ago, which you promised to keep secret: I suppose
since you have made the promise you intend to adhere to it. How I am glad you
mentioned it. To now revoke my promise,, to at least tell you very plainly
that I mean to pay no regard to it, hereafter, but shall make the same use of it
the information you allude to as if borne to me in a common channel:


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Surely, you are not serious: —Never more so I assure you —But you have not mention
ed that affair: —No: Nor should not till I had first apprised you of my senti
ments on this head: Unless Circumstances had been so urgent as not give me
time for mentioning it —You may do as you please with your own secrets,
but surely you have no command over other peoples —True as to my own Secrets
I have none. As to other peoples it is true as you observe I have no command over
them, but when other people choose to put their secrets in my power,
and I assure them previously that I shall regard whatever they communicate [gap]
as articles of information, of which I may make what use I please: shall I
be culpable if I act accordingly. —but you seem to make no conscience of your
prmises. —I make no conscience of my errors. —but do not you think
a promise binding: If you think promise any thing, do not you think it,
ought to be performed? The question is easily decided: Suppose my promise be
to poison my mother: Ought I to not fulfill my promise? —How can you
ask. That would be a wicked action. Certainly it would not be right to commit
Murder because in an evil moment you promise to commit it —Why —because
it is ‸ a crime —Suppose my promise be to employ a superfluous guinea in
relieving a starving family: of innocent and deserving people: Is this a promise
to be performed. —Certainly —But would it not have been ‸ still my duty to do the
same thing though I had not promised —Yes it would: but what do you
infer from that! —the inference is very simple. What I have promised
to do is either just or unjust, independantly of the promise: If it be just
it is my duty to perform it, do it, whether a ‸ I have promised or not. If it be unjust
it is my duty not to do it. A promise can make no difference in the case. —
But you may promise to do as so, in a case when to do or not to do it would
be indifferent: Has a promise no effect in such a case —In the first place
no action is indifferent: there is none which is not suseptible of the distinction
of right and wrong: which has not some degree of beneficial or injurious tendency
but it is my duty in all cases to do what is just and to abstain from an act
that is unjust —but suppose it were indifferent, what effect can a promise
have in annihilating that indifference —By virtue of a promise it may cause
none to be indifferent: to go to the coffee house at a certain hour should seem to


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be an indifferent action, but suppose you promise to meet him there at a certain
hour, by failing, may you not subject him to inconvenience: ‸ undoing what you art
doing. And therefore is it not your duty to perform your prmise by going —
Other Considerations out of the question it is my duty to go and thereby obviate
the inconvenience which he would incur by my not going but I do thus not
because I promised to do: but because an injury is prevented or a benefit con-
=ferred upon another by doing thus —But you the hazard of that injury you
know was occasioned by your promise —True, but that is not the point:
from whatever cause it rose it my duty would be the same —but let us
for the present dismiss this subject, and return to your points. —Well: I meant to
tell you a great many things, but I will explain ‸ myself to you in a different way. I
will carry you to a certain house in the City this evening if you are willing, and
afterward explain the appearances, that you meet with and that will puzzle you
till I do explain them: We accordingly paid a visit together in the evening. I will relat
the particulars to morrow. For the present let rest.



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