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I can now hide myself from them. A poet's retreat is sacred : they acknowledge the truth of that proposition, and never presume to violate it.
The last sentence puts me in mind to tell you that I have ordered my volume to your door. My bookseller is the most dilatory of all his fraternity ; it is more than a month since I returned him the last proof, and consequently, since the printing was finished. I sent him the manuscript at the beginning of last November, that he might publish it when the town was full, and he will hit the exact moment when it is entirely empty. Patience, you will perceive, is in no situation exempt from the severest trials,—a remark that may serve to comfort you under the numberless trials of your own.
To the Countess of Bute.-Consoling her in her
Louvère, Aug. 20, 1752. My dear Child,
'Tis impossible to tell you to what degree I share with
you in the misfortune that has happened. I do not doubt your own reason will suggest to you all the alleviations that can serve on so sad an occasion, and will not trouble you with the common-place topics that are used, generally to no purpose, in letters of consolation. Disappointments ought to be less sensibly felt at my age than
yours; yet I own I am so far affected by this, that I have need of all my philosophy to support it. However, let me beg of you not to indulge a useless grief, to the prejudice of your health, which is so necessary to your family. Everything may turn out better than you expect.
e see so darkly into futurity, we never know when we have real cause to rejoice or lament. The worst appearances have often happy consequences, as the best lead many times into the greatest misfortunes. Human prudence is very straitly bounded. What is most in our power, though very little so, is the disposition of our own minds.
Do not give way to melancholy ; seek amusements ; be willing to be diverted, and insensibly you will become so. Weak people only place a merit in affliction. A grateful remembrance, and whatever honour we can pay to their
memory, is all that is owing to the dead. Tears and sorrow are no duties to them, and make us incapable of those we owe to the living.
I give you thanks for your care of my books. I yet retain, and carefully cherish, my taste for reading. If relays of eyes were to be hired like post-horses, I would never admit any but silent companions; they afford a constant variety of entertainment, which is almost the only one pleasing in the enjoyment, and inoffensive in the consequence.
I am sorry your sight will not permit you a great use of ic; the prattle of your little ones, and the friendship of Lord Bute, will supply the place of it. My dear child, endeavour to raise your spirits, and believe this advice comes from the tenderness of your most affectionate mother,
M. WORTLEY. To Mr. Digby.
August 12th, 1724. My dear Friend,
I have been above a month strolling about in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, from garden to
garden, but still returning to Lord Cobham's with fresh satisfaction. I should be sorry to see my Lady Scudamore's till it has had the full advantage of Lord B's improvements; and then I will expect something like the waters of Riskins and the woods of Oakley together, which (without flattery) would be at least as good as anything in our world; for as to the hanging gardens of Babylon, the paradise of Cyrus, and the Sharawaggis of China, I have little or no ideas of them; but I dare say Lord B- has, because they were certainly both very great and very wild. I hope Mrs. Mary Digby is quite tired of his lordship's extravagante bergerie; and that she is just now sitting, or rather reclining, on a bank, fatigued with over much dancing and singing at his unwearied request and instigation. I know your love of ease so well, that you might be in danger of being too quiet to enjoy quiet, and too philosophical to be a philosopher, were it not for the ferment Lord B- will put you into. One of his lordship's maxims is, that a total abstinence from intemperance or business is no more philosophy than a total consopiation of the senses is repose; one must feel enough of its contrary to have a relish of either. But after all, let
your temper work, and be as sedate and contemplative as you will, I will engage you shall be fit for any of us when you come to town in the winter. Folly will laugh you into all the customs of the company here; nothing will be able to prevent your conversion to her but indisposition, which, I hope, will be far from you. I am telling the worst that can come of you; for as to vice, you are safe; but folly is many an honest man's, nay, every good-humoured man's, lot;
nay, it is the seasoning of life; and fools (in one sense) are the salt of the earth; a little is excellent, though indeed a whole mouthful is justly called the devil.
So much for your diversions next winter, and for mine. I
envy you much more at present than I shall then; for if there be on earth an image of Paradise, it is in such perfect union and society as you
possess. I would have my innocent envies and wishes of your state known to you all; which is far better than making you compliments, for it is inward approbation and esteem. My Lord Digby has in me a sincere servant, or would have, were there any occasion for me to manifest it.
To his Mother.
Cambridge, Nov. 7th, 1719. My dear Mother,
The unhappy news I have just received from you equally surprises and afflicts me.* I have lost a person I loved very much, and have been much used to from my infancy; but am much more concerned for your loss, the circumstances of which I forbear to dwell upon, as you must be too sensible of them yourself; and will, I fear, more and more need a consolation that no one can give, except He who has preserved her to you so many years, and at last, when it was His pleasure, has taken her from us to Himself: and perhaps, if we reflect upon what she
* The death of his aunt, Mrs. Mary Antrobus.
felt in this life, we may look upon this as an instance of His goodness both to her and to those that loved her. She might have languished many years before our eyes in a continual increase of pain, and totally helpless; she might have long wished to end her misery without being able to attain it; or perhaps even lost all sense, and yet continued to breathe; a sad spectacle to such as must have felt more for her than she could have done for herself. However you may deplore your own loss, yet think that she is at last easy and happy; and has now more occasion to pity us than we her. I hope and beg you will support yourself with that resignation we owe to Him who gave us our being for our good, and who deprives us of it for the same reason.
I would have come to you directly, but you do not say whether you desire I should or not: if you do, I beg I may know it, for there is nothing to hinder me, and I am in very good health.
Subjects for Letters.
1. From a friend on his arrival in Canada. 2. From a brother to his sister (both at school). 3. From a sister at home to her brother at school. 4. From a daughter to her mother, describing a visit
in the country. 5. From a son at school to his father, giving an account of his
progress. 6. From a student at college to a friend, giving an
account of his studies.