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You charm me with your account of the trip to Albemarle. It is a beautiful country,-yet I should not, myself, have much pleasure in visiting it. The society is so much altered,-that of Pen Park, in particular, altogether broken up. And there are some recollections too keen to be borne. Enough.

You owe me no apology, my dear friend, for the advice you were so good as to give me. It is excellent and intended for my happiness. I am not so thankless as to feel resentment against the kind hand that would conduct me to Heaven. It is true, I feel myself very unfit for that society yet. "Hope," however, you know, "travels through, nor quits us till we die."

By-the-bye, we have an excellent preacher here, a Mr. Post, a friend of our Rice friends. He is meek, humble, sincere, devout, zealous it is impossible to hear him without being convinced that his whole soul is engaged in his office,-but he has not yet succeeded in producing those high effects of eloquence which you witnessed in Albemarle from the preaching of Mr. Rice. Are you sure that you have not over-colored that scene? I suspect you were too much blinded by your own tears to see those of others. Not that I doubt Mr. Rice's powers, for I know and have felt them myself; but that the people of Albemarle were not wont to be much given to the melting mood on such occasions. This, however, is almost a new generation, and, I will hope, more piously disposed than their ancestors. There used to be about a dozen men of parts and wit and humor, original and strong characters, scattered through Albemarle, who kept the whole county laughing so incessantly that they had no time to cry, nor even to become serious in the intervals of the paroxysms:-that, we both know experimentally, is not the best preparatory society for a religious life. You have seen the fruits of such examples in the laughing characters of the Gilmers and myself, who were fresh from that school when you first knew us. It was not that mere gaiety of heart which may consist with the deepest reflection and the most intense feelings of religion, but a reckless, heedless, heels-over-head volubility which dissipated every thing that deserved the name of feeling or reflection. Its only palliative was that there was no malignity about it, and that there were occasional gleams of kindness and benevolence, with, now and then, a lucid moment of intelligence. And yet, at the time, we thought VOL. 2-9*

there was no life like it. To tell the honest, naked truth,—I can't help thinking, yet, that there was a good deal of fun in it, though, perhaps, it scarcely deserved so staid and settled a name as that of enjoyment.

How few, my dear friend, how very few of that laughing circle you used to have around you, can we count ! Every one who contributed to its gaiety, gone! And yet how fresh is the whole group before my imagination, in the pause I have just made! I could actually see and hear them. Bache's sly, dry, comic drollery; Foushee's broad laugh; and so with the peculiarity of every member of that mad, merry circle. There were fine intellects in that group. It is not often that I have coped with such minds as those,-male and female. But their lights are all extinguished; and three or four, only, of us are left to mourn the loss of our own departed and irrevocable time, of which I, at least, I own it, have made but a poor use. There was something mournfully sudden in the destruction of that circle. The death of one seemed to be the signal for that of all. Were there more than five years from the first to the last?

This is a subject which, whenever it is started, I know not how to quit ;—a proof, no doubt, that I have yet too much pleasure in the recollection of those follies to have repented of them with sufficient contrition. I do frankly confess, if it be a sin that the memory of that circle and of every member of it should be very dear to me, I am guilty of that sin.

I did not expect, when I began, to write more than twenty lines, but old age, you may have heard, will be garrulous. Farewell and if you will accept the prayers of a sinner, may Heaven bless you to the summit of your wishes, both here and bereafter !

Your friend,




WASHINGTON, December 29, 1819.

I freely admit your plea of procrastination, in doing which I do only as I would be done unto. Your practice is, I hope, not so singular as to amount to a crime; for my own part, I plead guilty to it, and much do I envy the happy habits of those who do every thing at the proper time, since in no other way can it be well done. We who put off to the last pinch and then sit down and "work like Turks," never give our minds fair play; for our minds will no more work upon compulsion than we will; and then when we appear in public with our stinted preparation, to cope with fellows cased in Achillean armor, we are set down as comparative pigmies. Commend me to such a fellow as Pinkney, who sacrifices, at the altar of professional ambition, all his love of ease and pleasure, and even that strong tendency to repose to which his age, his corpulence, and the ample honors he has already won must conspire so powerfully to dispose him! Or rather, commend me to such a man as "the honorable Thomas," who, with the most engaging urbanity of social intercourse and the highest inspirations of native talents, blended the perseverance and system of the closest mechanical drudge; and verily, I say unto you, he has his reward. He never omitted to do what he ought to do, and he never did anything that was not done in the very best style. Now, sir, when I abused myself as I did to you, I had such a man as that in my mind's eye; one who, by the most laudable exertions, had raised himself to the highest point of which nature had made him capable. I know (modesty apart,) that I had sufficient natural capacity to have gone the round of the sciences: I know that I might have acquired all that it was desirable for me to know, not as a professional man merely, but as a gentleman and scholar. It is the reflection of what I might have been and what I am that stings and shames me; and surely I may pour out this ingenuous confession into the bosom of a friend, without being suspected, as I fear I was, of making disqualifying speeches, with the view of extracting an eulogy in return. I beg pardon of Providence for having subjected it to such a tirade, on no other account

than having protected and favored a poor fellow who stood very much in need of such a friend, and who had no wickedness of heart to render him entirely unworthy of it. But when a fellow gets along, as I have done, without any exertion on his own part, and with the consciousness of having neglected all the means necessary to such an end, what is he to think of it, if he believes in a Providence, at all, that rules the world? And who but such a wicked philosopher as yourself, would have thought of deducing from such a pious acknowledgment, the impious conclusions which you draw from it? So, I am not to thank Providence for a benefit, but I instantly give myself the right to saddle it with all my crimes!—on the notion that the doctrine of a particular Providence destroys, at once, all freedom of will on the part of the creature, and, consequently, releases him from all responsibility for his misdeeds. And pray, sir, do you not exercise a particular providence over your family? If so, how have you ever presumed to reprove your children or servants for their faults? You drive the meaning of a special or particular Providence, far beyond my purpose. I do not mean by it that the interference is perpetual, and that it exerts itself in prompting, suggesting and controlling all our thoughts, words and actions. If this were my position, your consequences, I admit, would follow; for our thoughts, words and actions would then be fairly chargeable on their author. But I can see nothing mysterious, or inconsistent with the acknowledged attributes of the Deity, in the belief that he made us, as Milton says, "free to fall, though capable to stand." Nor do I see anything mysterious or inconsistent with these attributes, in the opinion that Providence does sometimes interpose directly in the affairs of mortals, to shield the innocent, to disappoint the wicked, and to help the poor and distressed in their great time of need;-an opinion from which I derive no small comfort at this present writing. Does it follow from these occasional interferences, that Providence is the author of all the wickedness that is thought, and said, and done in all this vile world? Does such an interference amount to a destruction of the freedom of human agency, and a settled predestination as to every event? However, by way of avoiding rather than courting a fruitless discussion of this subject, let me recommend to your serious perusal a work of Doctor Chalmers' on Christianity. It

is a small work, which you will soon read; and then his Astronomical Discourses, which, if they will not convince, will reward you for the trouble of the perusal, by their amazing reaches of thought and their magnificent eloquence.

For all you so kindly say of me, my wife says, " May Heaven bless you; "-from which, I infer, she thinks as I do, that your friendship has done me rather more than justice. However, instead of more disqualifying speeches, it will be wiser to follow your counsel by repairing acknowledged deficiencies; and if I had a twenty years' lease of my life, I might be fit to live, by the time I come to die. But I will give these fellows a hustle for their eminence yet, if I am spared in health for a few years. So, you see the modest fit is going off.

You are to know that I have taken to rising to my studies by five o'clock in the morning, and I begin to feel the better of it already. This morning I have burned out a great part of two candles, up in the room in which you used to sleep. I am still there, for it is not yet breakfast time, and, on opening my windows, I find a most exhilarating snow falling, which I think I have told you is always a cheering spectacle to me. On the present occasion it is doubly cheering, for you are to know that I am interested in a valuable cannon foundry on James River, whose operations have been almost stopped this fall, for the want of water.

December 31st.

Interrupted, and have had no opportunity till now to resume the thread of my discourse. And now I am under the expectation, every moment, of being called on for an official opinion which I have not yet finished.

"The Essays of a Mother" are as well adapted to their purpose as Franklin himself could have made them. I must tell you, sir, without being accused or even suspected of flattery, that you have a lightness, and, at the same time, a vigor of pen which Voltaire himself might not have disdained to own.

As to these aforesaid Shandyisms,-I take it for granted that you visit us this winter, (without being tied to Holmes' apron-string,) and that you will bring the aforesaid with you.

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