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indeed, succeeded in delineating real life; a very few of them have done so; but it has been rather in pictures of manners than of character. But has slender materials for a picture of manners; and let your theory of female genius forgive me for doubting her power of giving interest to a story, the catastrophe of which is not to be forgotten. * * *
We old folks make friends slowly-so slowly, that I believe life will be too short to furnish me with another such as you ; therefore I value you accordingly. I hope we shall be near neighbours in another world ; or that, if your place be, as it well may, a higher one than mine, you will not be forbidden to visit the meaner mansions of our Father's house. * * *
I am going to visit the woman that is come to No. 6. I believe I shall hate her ; yet they say she is a pleasant person enough. If she sits in the same place where you used to work, I think I shall beat her. They say narrow-minded people always hate their successors; I must be the most illiberal of all creatures, for I hate the successors of my friends. * * *
You see my paper is done-so, of course, is my letter.
MRS. BRUNTON TO MRS. IZETT.
St. Leonard's, Aug. 30, 1810. IF I have not answered your two letters, blame not me, who had all the will in the world to do so, nor Mr.
who has teased me every day to write to you.
Blame your dear friend and favourite, Montague de Courcy, of Norwood, Esq., for he has been wholly and solely in fault. He has been making love so energetically, that I had not the heart to leave him in the middle of his flames; more especially as he had been interrupted by a score of troublesome visiters breaking in upon his privacy. To say the truth, I bave been far more compassionate towards him than she who ought to have been the most deeply interested. She has not only given him his congé, but has barbarously left him, in a cold October evening, standing under a tree in his own avenue. There he has stood since last night; there he must stand all to-day, for to-day I write to you; all to-morrow, for to-morrow I go to town; and all Thursday, for I do not return till then. The thirtieth chapter is closed, and I mean that six more should bring all things to their proper issue. If I write every day, and all day, that may be done in fifty days. But I find that in one way and another, half my time is abstracted from my business, as I now begin to consider this affair, at first begun for pastime! Besides, I must take more exercise, if I would not be sick; and must sew more, if I would not be ragged.
I admit not an iota of what you are so polite to Mr. M. as to call his reasoning ; I must be allowed to call it sophistry, since it was at best only a just conclusion upon wrong premises. Selfish we should indeed be, if we rejoiced in the prosperity of our friends merely because it promotes our own happiness. But the question remains, “ Why does it promote our happiness, while we expect from it no personal advantage ?” Why, but because we are not selfish? Why, but because an unvitiated mind has a faculty for enjoying pleasure, which acts antecedently to any interested consideration ? This faculty you have, I believe, in full perfection; give it free exercise. It is the noblest of your faculties; that which assimilates you the most to Him, who, without needing any creature, being all sufficient for his own blessedness, yet willeth the happiness of every thing that lives. They who ascribe all kindly feelings to selfishness would blot out the last faint traces of the image in which man was made-would destroy the last wreck of the crown wbich has fallen from our head.
But as for the subject which led you to metaphysics, I believe it will be for your advantage to make it an exception from your general habits of sympathy; since I believe it is likely to lead you into more of pain than of pleasure. The “ love,' the “ admiration,” the “ esteem,” which you anticipate for your friend, she will never obtain unless in your imagination. My hopes of popular favour are low-very low indeed. Of a work like mine, the wise and the good will not be at the trouble to judge. Its faults are not such as will recommend it to the vulgar. It may become popular, for that is a mere lottery. If it do, be assured, my dear friend, its faults, of which it has many, will draw down the censure of those who are, or who think themselves entitled to decide for their neighbours. Now, will not one bitter sarcasm on it, much more on its author, give you more real vexation than the praise of nine-tenths of novel readers will give you pleasure ? I judge by myself; for, while I have little pleasure in praise, I am on many subjects keenly alive to censure. Many a person less generally vain than I, has felt all the touchy vanity of authorship.
But I am positive that no part-no, not the smallest part—of my happiness can ever arise from the popularity of my book, further than as I think it may be useful. I would rather, as you well know, glide through the world unknown, than have (I will not call it enjoy) fame, how. ever brilliant. To be pointed at to be noticed and commented upon-to be suspected of literary airs-to be shunned, as literary women are, by the most unpretending of my own sex ; and abhorred, as literary women are, by the more pretending of the other !--My dear, I would sooner exhibit as a rope-dancer-I would a great deal rather take up my abode by that lone loch on the hill, to which Mr. I. carried my husband on the day when the mosquitoes were so victorious against him.
All these things considered, pray transfer your sympathy to some other circumstance of my lot. Rejoice with me that I have the finest peas and cauliflowers in Scotland ; and, moreover,
the most beautiful apple tree that can be seen.
You say you expect that I should tell you your faults. With all my heart ! I will tell you two in a breath. In the first place, you are far too sanguine in expecting strange good fortune to befall your friends. You not only look for roses in the wilderness, but roses without thorns. Take my word for it, you may have, if you choose, the thorns without the roses ; but the converse will never do. The next faultand a sad one it is--is, that you constantly refer
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to my letters, as if I should remember what I write. Now, I protest that I retain no more recollection of any letter I have written you since you went to Kinnaird, than I do of the ceremonies of my baptism. So if you think it necessary to answer categorically you must tell me my observation as well as your reply. ***
This letter writing is but a poor affair after all. It carries on just such a convers tion as we should do, if you were not to answer me till I had for. gotten what I had said ; turning your back to me too all the while you were speaking. A triste enough confab. you will allow. * * *
MRS. BRUNTON TO MRS. BALFLOUR.
March 21, 1812. The beginning of this month was delightful, and the hedges were just going to burst into leaf; when, behold, this week we have snow a foot thick, and to-day it is again falling without intermission, accompanied by a tremendous gale. It is well for those who, like you and me, have comfortable homes, and affectionate inmates of them. Let it snow on now, and so perhaps we may escape it in April, when it would spoil all the fruit crops at St. Leonard's, and kill all the lambs in Elgar Holm. I hope, too, that it may serve instead of the May fogs, which would dismally eclipse my views in travelling to London.
You would smile if you knew how much I am bent on this journey, and, perhaps, with some latent self-complacency, you would say, Well, well, I would not give the sight of little Tbomas