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please, I 'll have a place in one corner of it, a place well guarded and fortified, or still I shall fear being jostled out by him. Now do not deny my request on purpose to make me feel the weight of your observation, “ that we are often disappointed when we set our minds upon that which is to yield us great happiness." I know it too well already. Daily experience teaches me that truth.
And now let me ask you, my friend, whether you do not think, that many of our disappointments and much of our unhappiness arise from our forming false notions of things and persons. We strangely impose upon ourselves; we create a fairy land of happiness. Fancy is fruitful and promises fair, but, like the dog in the fable, we catch at a shadow, and when we find the disappointment, we are vexed, not with ourselves, who are really the impostors, but with the poor, innocent thing or person of whom we have formed such strange ideas. When this is the case, I believe we always find, that we have enjoyed more pleasure in the anticipation than in the real enjoyment of our wishes.
Dr. Young says, “ Our wishes give us not our wishes.” Some disappointments are, indeed, more grievous than others. Since they are our lot, let us bear them with patience. That person, that cannot bear a disappointment, must not live in a world so changeable as this, and 't is wise it should be so ; for, were we to enjoy a continual prosperity, we should be too firmly attached to the world ever to think of quitting it, and there would be room to fear, that we
should be so far intoxicated with prosperity as to swim smoothly from joy to joy, along life's short current, wholly unmindful of the vast ocean, Eternity.
If I did not know that it would be adding to the length of my letter, I might make some excuse for it ; but that and another reason will hinder me.
You bid me tell one of my sparks (I think that was the word) to bring me to see you. Why! I believe you think they are as plenty as herrings, when, alas! there is as great a scarcity of them as there is of justice, honesty, prudence, and many other virtues. I've no pretensions to one. Wealth, wealth is the only thing that is looked after now. 'T is said Plato thought, if Virtue would appear to the world, all mankind would be enamoured with her, but now interest governs the world and men neglect the golden mean.
But, to be sober, I should really rejoice to come and see you, but if I wait till I get a (what did you call 'em ?) I fear you 'll be blind with age.
I can say, in the length of this epistle, I 've made the golden rule mine. Pray, my friend, do not let it be long before you write to your ever affectionate
P. S. My regards to your good man. I've no acquaintance with him, but if you love him, I do, and should be glad to see him.
TO JOHN ADAMS.1
Weymouth, 16 April, 1764. MY FRIEND, I THINK I write to you every day. Shall not I make my letters very cheap? Don't you light your pipe with them? I care not if you do. "T is a pleasure to me to write. Yet I wonder I write to you with so little restraint, for as a critic I fear you more than any other person on earth, and 't is the only character in which I ever did or ever will fear you. What say you? Do you approve of that speech? Don't you think me a courageous being ? Courage is a laudable, a glorious virtue in your sex, why not in mine? For my part, I think you ought to applaud me for mine.
Solus your Diana.
do? Do you
And now, pray tell me, how you feel any venom working in your veins ? ever before experience such a feeling? (This letter will be made up with questions, I fancy, not set in order before you, neither.) How do you employ yourself? Do you go abroad yet? Is it not cruel to bestow those favors upon others, which I should rejoice to receive, yet must be deprived of?
1 Mr. Adams was in Boston, undergoing the process, then in vogue, of inoculation with the smallpox.
I have lately been thinking whether my mamma
- when I write again I will tell you something. Did not you receive a letter to-day by Hannes ?
This is a right girl's letter, but I will turn to the other side and be sober, if I can.
But what is bred in the bone will never be out of the flesh, (as Lord M. would have said.)
As I have a good opportunity to send some milk, I have not waited for your orders, lest, if I should miss this, I should not catch such another. If you want more balm, I can supply you.
evermore remember me with the tenderest affection, which is also borne unto you by your
TO JOHN ADAMS.
Thursday Eve. Weymouth, 19 April, 1764. Why, my good man, thou hast the curiosity of a girl. Who could have believed, that only a slight hint would have set thy imagination agog in such a man
And a fine encouragement I have to unravel the mystery as thou callest it. Nothing less, truly, than to be told something to my disadvantage. What an excellent reward that will be! In what court of justice didst thou learn that equity? I thank thee, friend ; such knowledge as that is easy enough to be obtained without paying for it. As to the insinua.
tion, it doth not give me any uneasiness ; for, if it is any thing very bad, I know thou dost not believe it. I am not conscious of any harm that I have done or wished to any mortal. I bear no malice to any being. To my enemies, if any I have, I am willing to afford assistance ; therefore towards man I maintain a conscience void of offence.
Yet by this I mean not that I am faultless. But tell me what is the reason, that persons would rather acknowledge themselves guilty than be accused by others ? Is it because they are more tender of thernselves, or because they meet with more favor from others when they ingenuously confess? Let that be as it will, there is something which makes it more agreeable to condemn ourselves than to be condemned by others.
But, although it is vastly disagreeable to be accused of faults, yet no person ought to be offended when such accusations are delivered in the spirit of friendship. I now call upon you to fulfil your promise, and tell me all my faults both of omission and commission, and all the evil you either know or think of me. Be to me a second conscience, nor put me off to a more convenient season.
There can be no time more proper than the present. It will be harder to erase them when habit has strengthened and confirmed them. Do not think I trifle. These are really meant as words of truth and soberness. For the present, good night.