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to mary d——.

Philada. May 10, 1794.

SO! you are a judicious comforter!
I had much ado to reconcile my-
self to my profession. I never thought
it eligible in itself; it was the best
however, that in my present circum-
stances, I could choose; but now my
sister is good enough to inform me
that my contempt is entirely mis-
placed; that instead of bestowing it
on taylors and ushers, I ought to
confine it to myself and my own trade.
Lawyers, according to you, are

merely the coiners of iniquitous sub-
tleties and plotters against the ma
jesty of truth. To puzzle the saga-
city, and contaminate the rectitude
of mankind is, it seems, the scope of
all their labours.

Did you forget that this was my
trade, and that, though, as yet,
merely on the threshold of it, I have
disabled myself from recalling my
footsteps? I always placed, as was
just, considerable reliance on your
judgment. In no action of my life,
much less in a deed of so much mo-
ment as the choice of a profession,
have I held myself at liberty to act
independently of your advice. It
was the road to honour, you said.
Men annex different degrees of
respect to different occupations. The
highest degree has been annexed to
the law. The qualifications and ex-
ercises which it requires from its
pupils are wholly intellectual. It is
a science, and the investigation of
truth is always delightful to ingenu-
ous minds. It was the regulator of
the claims and conduct of men in
society. It was the instrument
of wealth, and wealth was not to
be despised by us whether we be
studious of our own happiness or
that of others. It is the shortest and
safest road to the possession of power,
and power must be desirable by bad
men for its own sake, and by good
men for the sake of the beneficial
employment of it. Nothing more
common than the transition from the
province of interpreting to that of
enacting laws. This then was the
suitable road whether reputation,
riches, or power were the object of
our search.

You were pleased to compliment
me on my talents. You have, a
thousand times, professed to admire
my rhetoric. You gave me credit
for a tunable voice, a fertile fancy,
dexterity in argument, and prompti-
tude in speech. These were qualities
eminently subservient to the lawyer's
purposes. Summing up all these
advantages I thought it prudent to

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become one. But now my sister
insinuates that the path I have chosen
is contemptible, that my business is
merely to weave quibbles into a net
by which I may entangle justice.
Perhaps I have mistaken your mean-
ing. Pr'ythee explain thyself. It
is common to rail against lawyers,
and I listen to ordinary raillers with
contempt or indifference; but my
sister is another sort of being. Her
assertions are not rash. She seeks
not the repute of a censurer. She
takes no limited or momentary view
of the objects that present themselves.
Her knowledge is of that rare kind
which includes the character and
constitution of the studious person
himself, among the objects of success-
ful scrutiny. No wonder that, from
her lips, censures are heard with
anxiety and reverence. You must
make haste to set me right on this
head, and fortify or remove the
uneasiness which these intimations
have excited.

How momentous a thing is the
choice of a trade! How much does
it behove us to deliberate with accu-
racy and decide with caution! I
thought I had fulfilled my duty in
this respect. It will be in a great
measure in your power to subvert or
corroborate this belief.

I cannot as yet appeal to my own
experience. A fortnight's reading
can give me no information as to the
merits or demerits of the trade. It
shews me, in a slight degree, of what
materials the science is composed.
They are sufficiently refractory and
rugged. Wrapt up in barbarous
jargon, a spurious and motley com-
pound of obsolete French and Latin-
ized English. My poor head has been
honoured by you, with the epithet of
metaphysical; but as skilful a dissecter
as I am of complex ideas, and as
nice a weigher of abstruse distinc-
tions, I fear I shall never untie legal
knots or disenvolve from this maze my
already bewildered understanding.

I rise at the dawn; walk an hour
in the fields; and after breakfast,

immure myself, till noon, among
folios time-beslurred, and tables dust-
besprent. So likewise is employed
the afternoon till dusk. As yet I
have no society. My evenings I
must spend in musing at my chamber
window, or in lonely rambles. This
life is uniform, and, I was going to
add, insipid. There is time enough
for meditation, which, however, I,
for the most part, misapply. Nothing
consoles me but the prospect of the
week, which, if nothing interfere, I
mean to spend with you at the end
of this month.

My room for observation and
adventure is extremely limited. I
may mark the aspects and guizes of
the people I meet with in my daily
rambles: I may notice buildings and
their tenants as I pass. My scrutiny
is necessarily superficial with regard
to these. At Beckwith's I am intro-
duced, in some degree, behind the
scenes. This man and his family I
have opportunities of studying very
closely. The scene is new to me.
My father's house was, you know,
governed on peculiar principles. How
little would a curious stranger have
been enabled to judge of the domes-
tic maxims established in this city, by
what he should gather from residence
in our family.

I have often been prompted to
make this remark, but it never occur-
red so forcibly as since I have become
a sort of inmate in Beckwith's house.
How powerfully are the noise, ex-
pensiveness, and disorder of this
mansion contrasted with the peace,
order, and frugality which my father
delighted to maintain around him!
A family is a far more ample and
less ignoble sphere for the exercise
of capacity and virtue than is com-
monly imagined. Kingdoms and
families are generally governed
according to established methods:
Rulers of both kinds are merely
anxious to adhere to the foot-steps
of their predecessors, and are quite
unconscious that any benefit would
flow from deviation. There is an

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inveterate persuasion that the ancient
system is the best, and that change
will only tend to injury.

Our father's notions were, I sus-
pect, only partly right. He thought
reformation in the government of
nations was the wildest of all chime-
ras. It was the sole and genuine province
of wisdom to devise improve-
ments in the management of a family.
This was the only field in which
wisdom could efficaciously exert her-
self, and this field was open to every
one. His politics may be liable to
censure, but how perfect was his
scheme of economics!

May thou and I, my sister, live to
enjoy families of our own, and to
govern them by the same maxims.

h. d—.
[To be continued.]

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