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in how many fewer words, and even letters, you can say it. This is a simple receipt for concentrating diffuseness, languor, and pomposity (of which, however, you cannot be accused), into simplicity, energy, and conciseness.
In correspondence a thought flows easily, because we do not care much how it flows. And when it is once down on paper, it is easy to correct and enlarge it into all we require. But the pain of giving birth to a thought full-grown and elegantly attired is
considerable. The skull of Jupiter, you will remember, was obliged to be fractured, when Minerva was to issue from it a perfect goddess, completely armed.
Liverpool, January 15. 1801. MY DEAR FRIEND, I have so many things to write to you, that I know not how to begin. Come over and let us talk; for in spite of your observations to the contrary, conversation between friends is better than writing; and the time is fast approaching when this will be verified. I wonder what is to
I wish I could get these subjects out of my head ; for, what purpose do thought and prophecy answer ? In my musings, and in my melancholy, I am harassed with visions that appal my senses. How do
think I employ myself at present when I can steal a few minutes to myself? I read Geddes's Translation of the Bible, and Logan's Sermons; but after I have perused a few sentences, the tide of thought breaks in upon my attention. I throw myself back on my couch, listen to the rain beating on my window, and, as the noise of carriages rolling over the pavement assails me, I wish myself in some wilderness, listening to the rushing gale, or the lonely stream, as better suited to the temper of my mind.
I have, however, been much amused by Mungo Park, the African traveller. He dined with me two days ago. He would interest you greatly. He is a very simple and most unaffected being, approaching in manners to a peasant, but a naturalist and a scholar, with a bold heart and a most correct understanding. Poor fellow! he is ill qualified to struggle with the world, and this is his destiny.
Yours very faithfully,
To Mrs. Currie, Waterford.
Liverpool, May 14, 1790.
MY DEAR LUCY,
Your account of the duel is, indeed, very melancholy. Poor is gone to his long account but ill-prepared for his final reckoning! He seems to have set his life on a desperate cast, where even success could have purchased nothing but dishonour.
Much as I admire the gallant spirit of the Irish, I have always lamented their foolish promptitude in affairs of this kind. The point of honour among them is high, while the state of manners is comparatively unrefined.
Hence quarrels must arise; and if they do arise, they must often prove fatal.
fatal. In former times, in the Highlands of Scotland, a chieftain, when he sat down to table, drew his sword or his dagger, and laid it by his plate. If any man offered him offence, his weapon was ready to avenge him; and as every man was equally prepared, and the spirits of all were highly jealous and irritable, the least breath of passion was apt to kindle into
a flame, and their feasts were frequently polluted with blood. Civilisation has introduced milder manners, but a taint of the feudal spirit remains, and the gentlemen there are still too ready to appeal to the sword.
Something of this kind seems to exist in Ireland in a still stronger degree. In England it is going out fast: at this moment, it is disgraceful for a man of any seriousness of character to be engaged in a private quarrel; the number of rencontres is, of course, few: and when in Ireland the character of a duellist shall be held in equal disrepute, we shall seldomer hear of these fierce and fatal disputes.
After all, there are situations but it is time to have done with the subject.
The children are very well. William is very much asked out; but I hold back as much as I can, for I do not think that children's visitings do any good. A child on a visit is in an unnatural state : either it will break through the bounds of decorum, and be noisy and troublesome, or it must be very prim and well bred, which, to a lively and active mind, is very irk
There is no news, excepting that Colonel Tarleton is going as a volunteer on board the fleet, and hence that it is hoped there will be no contest at the election. The report of a war thickens : still I do not think there will be one. If there should be a war, Spain risks every thing, and can gain nothing. But the Spanish king is proud and foolish, and so the world must be deluged with blood. Be this as it may, kings and nations are but instruments in the hand of an over-ruling Providence, and by their passions and prejudices become the means of accomplishing its great designs. A war undertaken about a barren spot, in the most remote corner of the earth, may issue in the destruction of the Spanish empire in America. The double chain of superstition and oppression, so long spread over the fairest regions of the globe, may be burst asunder; and the slaves of kings and priests, casting off their fetters, step forth, erect and self-balanced, the firm and fearless creatures which God and nature designed them!