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felt it in England. By the blessing of God, we are now delivered from all kinds of oppression. Let us take care, that they may never return.
$ 83. In Praise of Virtue. Virtue is of intrinsic value and good desert, and of indispensable obligation; not the creature of will, but necessary and immutable: not local or temporary, but of equal extent and antiquity with the divine mind; not a mode of sensation, but everlasting truth; not dependent on power, but the guide of all power. Virtue is the foundation of honour and esteem, and the source of all beauty, order, and happiness, in nature. It is what confers value on all the other endowments and qualities of a reasonable being, to which they ought to be absolutely subservient, and without which the more eminent they are, the more hideous deformities and the greater curses they become. The use of it is not confined to any one stage of our existence, or to any particular situation we can be in, but reaches through all the periods and circumstances of our beings. Many of the endowments and talents we now possess, and of which we are too apt to be proud, will cease entirely with the present state; but this will be our ornament and dignity in every suture state to which we maybe removed. Beauty and wit will die, learning will vanish away, and all the arts of life be soon forgot; but virtue will remain for ever. This unites us to the whole rational creation, and fits us for conversing with any order of superior natures, and for a place in any part of God's works. It procures us the approbation and love of all wife and good beings, and renders them our allies and friends.—But what is of unspeakably greater consequence is, that it makes God our friend, assimilates and unites our minds to his, and engages his almighty power in our defence. Superior beings of all ranks are bound by it no less than ourselves. It has the fame authority in all worlds that it has in this. The further any'being is advanced in excellence and perfection, the greater is his attachment to it, and the more he is under its influence. To fay
no more, 'tis the law of the whole universe; it stands first in the estimation of the Deity; its original is his nature; and it is the very object that makes him lovely.
Such is the importance of virtue.— Of what consequence, therefore, is it that we practise it!—There is no argument or motive, which is at all fitted to influence a reasonable mind, which does not call us te this. One virtuous disposition of soul is preferable to the greatest natural accomplishments and abilities, and of more value than all the treasures of the world. If you are wife, then, study virtue, and contemn every thing that can come in competition with it. Remember, that nothing else deserves one anxious thought or wish. Remember, that this alone is honour, glory, wealth, and happiness. Secure this, and you secure every thing; lose this, and all is lost. Price,
§ 84. Pliny to Hispvlla.
As I remember the great affection which was between you and your excellent brother, and know you love his daughter as your own, so as not only to express the tenderness of the best of aunts, but even to supply that of the best of fathers; I am sure it will be a pleasure to you to hear that she proves worthy of her father, worthy of you, and of your and her ancestors. Her ingenuity is admirable; her frugality extraordinary. She loves me, the surest pledge of her virtue; and adds to this a wonderful disposition to learning, which she has acquired from her affection to me. She reads my writings, studies them, and even gets them by heart. You would smile to fee the concern she is in when I have a cause to plead, and the joy (he shews when it is over; (he finds means to have the first news brought her of the success I meet with in court, how I am heard, and what decree is made. If I recite any thing in public, she cannot refrain from placing herself privately in some corner to hear, where with the utmost delight she feasts upon my applauses. Sometimes she sings my verses, and accompanies them with the lute, without any master, except Love, the best of instructors. structors. From these instances I take the most certain omens of our perpetual and increasing happiness; since her affection is not sounded on my youth and person, which must gradually decay, but she is in love with the immortal part of me, my glory and reputation. Nor indeed could less be expected from one who had the happiness to receive her education from you, who in your house was accustomed to every thing that was virtuous and decent, and even began to love me by your recommendation. For, as you had always the greatest re. spect for my mother, you were pleased, from my infancy, to form me, to commend me, and kindly to presage I should be one day what my wife fancies I am. Accept, therefore, our united thanks; mine, that you have bestowed her on me; and hers, that you have given me to her, as a mutual grant of joy and felicity.
§ 85. Pliny to Catilius.
I accept of your invitation to supper, but I must make this agreement beforehand, that you dismiss me soon, and treat me frugally. Let our entertainment abound only in philosophical conversation, and even that too with moderation. There are certain midnight parties, which Cato himself could not safely fall in with; though I must confess atthe fame time, that Julius Cæsar, when he reproaches him upon that head, exalts the character he endeavours to expose; for he describes those persons who met this reeling patriot, as blu(hing when they discovered who he was; and adds, You would have thought that Cato had detected them, and not they Cato. Could he place the dignity of Cato in a stronger light, than by representing him thus venerable, even in his cups? As for ourselves, nevertheless, let temperance not only bespeak our table, but regulate our hours; for we are not arrived at so high a reputation, that our enemies cannot censure us but to our honour. Farewell.
§ 86. From Pliny to bis Friend
Ferox.■ You<- last letter is a convincing argument that you study, and that you do
not. You'll tell me I talk riddles to you, and so I do, till I explain to yem more distinctly what my meaning is. In stiort, the letter you sent me (hews you did not study for it, so easy and negligent it appears to be ; and yet, at the fame time, 'tis so polite, that 'tis impossible any one should write it, who did not weigh every word j or else you are certainly the happiest man in the world, if you can write letters so just and exact, without care and premeditation.
§ 87. VOITURE toMons. De Lionne, at Rome. Sir, Though no man treated me so ill at Rome as yourself, and I must place to your account some of the most disagreeable hours I pasted in all my travels; yet be assured, I never saw any person in my life that I had so strong an inclination to revisit, or to whom I would more willingly do the best services in my power. It is not very usual to gain a man's friendship, at the same time that one ruins his fortune. This success, however, you have had; and your advantage was so much more considerable than mine in all respects, that I had not the power to defend myself against you in either of those instances, but you won both my money and my heart at the fame time-. If I am so happy as to find a place in yours, I (hall esteem that acquisition as an over-balance to all my losses, and (hall look upon myself as greatly a gainer in the commerce that passed between us. Though your acquaintance indeed has colt me pretty dear, I do not by any means think I have paid its full value; and I would willingly part with the fame sum to mei t with a man in Paris of as much merit as yourself. This bring the lite-; ral truth, you may be well assured, Sir, that I shall omit nothing in my power to preserve an honour I so highly esteem; and that I (hall not very easily give up a fri-nd whom I purchased at so clear a price. I liMve accordingly performed every thing you desired in the iftair about which you wrote to me; as I (hall obey you with the fame punctuality in every other instance that you
(hall stall command me. For I am, with all the affection that I ought, "Sir,
§ 88. VoiTORE to his Highness the Duke of A Ji o v i N, on his taking Dunkirk.
My Lord, I am so far from wondering at your taking Dunkirk, that I am of opinion that you could take the moon by the teeth, if you once went about it. Nothing can be impossible to you. I am only uneasy as to what I shall fay to your Highness on this occasion, and am thinking by what extraordinary terms I may bring you to reach my conceptions of you. Indeed, ray lord, in that height ofglory to which you have now attained, the honour of your favour is a singular happiness; but itis a troublesome task to us writers, who are obliged to congratulate you upon every good success, to be perpetually on the hunt for words, whose force may answer your actions, and'to be daily inventing fresh panegyrics. If you would but have the goodness to suffer yourself to be beat sometimes, or to rife from before some town, the variety of the matter might help to support us, and we should find out some fine thing or other to fay to you upon the inconstancy of Fortune, and the glory which is gained by bearing her malice courageously. But she having, from the very first of your actions, ranked you equal with Alexander, and finding you rising upon us continually, upon my word, my lord, we are at a loss what to do, either with you or ourselves. Nothing we are able to utter can come up to that which you do; and the very flights of our fancy flag below you. Eloquence, which magnifies the minutest things, cannot reach the height of those which you do; no, not by its boldest figures. And that which is termed hyperbole on other occasions, it but a cold way of speaking, when it comes to be applied to)Ou. Indeed it is difficult to comprehend how your highness has, each summer, still found out means to augment that glory, which, every winter, seemed at its full perfection; and that, having
begun so grandly, and gone on more grandly, still your last actions should crown the rest, and be sound the most amazing. For my own part, my lord, I congratulate your success, as I am in duty obliged; but I plainly foresee the very thing which augments your reputation with us may prejudice that which you expect from after-ages; and that so many great and important actions, done in so short a space, may render your life incredible to future times, and make posterity think your history a romance. Be pleased, then, my lord, to set some bounds to your victories, if it be only to accommodate yourself to the capacity of human reason, and not to go farther than common belief can follow you. Be contented to be quiet and secure, at least for a while ; and suffer France, which is eternally alarmed for your safety, to enjoy serenely for a few months the glory which you have acquired for her. In the mean time, I beseech you to believe, that, among so many millions of men who admire you, and who continually pray for you, there is not one who does it with so much joy, with so much zeal and veneration, as does,
§ 89. Balzac to MadamDE La CheTardie.
Madam, I cannot taste of your bounty without expressing at the fame time my gratitude. You have feasted'me indeed these four days in the most delicious manner; and eitherthere is no pleasure in the palate, or your cheeses afford a relish of the most exquisite kind. They are not merely an artful preparation of cream; they are the effect of a certain quintessence hitherto unknown; they are I know not what kind of wonderful production, which, with a most delicious sweetness, preserve at the same time a most pleasing poignancy. Undoubtedly, Madam, you must be the favourite of Heaven, since you are thus blessed with a land that flows with milk and honey. It was in this manner, you. know, that Providence formerly regaled its chosen people ; and such were once the riches of the golden age. But methinks
you ought to limit the luxury of your table to rarities of this kind, and not look out for any other abundance, in a place which affords such charming repasts. You ought long since to have purified your kitchen, and broke every instrument of savage destruction; for would it not be a sliame to live by cruelty and murder, in the midst of such innocent provisions : I am sure, at least, I can never esteem them too much, nor sufficiently thank you for your present. It is in vain you would persuade me, that it was the work of one of your dairy-maids; such coarse hands could never be concerned in so curious a production. Most certainly the nymphs of Vienne were engaged in the operation; and it is an original of their making, which you have sent me as a rarity. If this thought appears to you poetical, you must remember that the subject is so too ; and might with great propriety make part of an eclogue, or enter into some corner of a pastoral. Eut I am by no means an adept in the art of rhyming: beades, it is necessary I should quit the language of'fable to assure you, in verv true and very serious prole, I so highly honour your virtue that 1 should always think lowed you much, though I had never received any favour at your hands; and if you were not my benefactress, I mould nevertheless be always,
§ 90. Balzac to the Mayor osAngouleme.
Sir, I persuade myself that the request which the bearer os this will make to you on my behalf will not be disagreeable. It concerns indeed the public interest as well as mine; and I know you are so punctual in the functions of your office, that to point out to you a grievance is almost the fame as to redress it. At the entrance of the Fauxbourg Lomeau, there is a way of which one cannot complain in common terms. It would draw imprecations from a man that never used a stronger affirmative in all his life than Yea verily; and raise the indignation even of the mildest father of the oratory. It was but the
day before yesterday that I had like to have been lost in it, and was in imminent danger of being cast away in a terrible slough. Had it indeed been in the open sea, and in a shattered vessel, exposed to the fury of the winds and waves, the accident would have been nothing extraordinary; but to suffer such a misfortune upon land, in a coach, and during the very time of your mayoralty, would have been beyond all credit and consolation. Twoor three words of an order from you would put this affair into a better situation, and at the same time oblige a whole country. Let me hope then that you will give occasion. to those without your district to join ift applauses with your own citizens, and not sufferyour province, which you have embellished in so many other parts, to be disfigured in this by so vile a blemish. But aster the interest of the public has had its due weight with you, will you not allow me to have some share in your consideration, and be inclined to favour a person who is thought not to be ungrateful for the good offices he receives? There are who will fay even more, and assure you that you have an opportunity of extending your reputation beyond the bounds of your province, and of making the remembrance of your mayoralty last longer than its annual period. I ihall learn by the return of the bearer, if you think my friends speak the truth ; and whether you have lo high an opinion of the acknowledgment I mall make to you, as to comply with the request I have already tendered ; to which I have only to add the assurance of my being, with great sincerity,
Sir, yours, &c.
§91. Stevremont/o Madam** *.
I remember, Mac&m, that when I went to the army, I begged that the Chevalier de Grammont might succeed me in your favour, in case I should be so unfortunate as to meet my death there; in which particular you have so well obeyed, that you love him whilst I am alive, to learn to do it better after my death. You are very punctual in obeying my orders; and should I conti
Hue to give you the same commission, in all appearance you would see it carefully executed. You may imagine, Madam, that I design to hide a real grief under a pretended banter; and being so well acquainted with my passion, you cannot easily persuade yourself, that I can suffer a rival without jealousy. But perhaps you don't know, Madam, that if I dare not complain of you, because I love you too much, I dare not complain of him because I love him little less. And if I must of necessity be angry, tell me whom I am to be most angry with; whether with him who goes to rob me of my mistress, or you who steal my friend from me. Let the matter be how it will, you need not give yourself much trouble to appease my indignation. My passion is too violent to indulge my resentment in the least ; and my tenderness will always make me forget the injuries I have received from you. I love you, tho' perfidious: I love him, tho' treacherous; and only fear that a sincere friend is no favourite of either of you. Farewell. Let us enter, I beseech you, into a new unknown sort of confederacy; and by a strange mystery, let his, let your and my friendship, be only one and the fame thing.
§92. St. Evrkmont so Madam***. You are upon the point of making a very sorry gallant of a very good friend; and I perceive that what I called satisfaction, when I was with you, is now become insensibly some sort of a charm. I talk no more of turning into ridicule; and the very same person who set such a value upon your malicious fancies, now discoversin you more affecting qualities, which give him a disgust for your first endearments. You always appeared very engaging to me; but now 1 begin to feel with emotion, what I was used to fee only with pleasure. To speak plainly to you, I am afraid I may be in love with you, if you will suffer me to love you; fer at this present writing 1 am in such a condition, that I can let it alone, if you don't like it. You must not expect from me any fine thoughts, or noble raptures : I am wholly incapable of them, and freely leave them to the admirers of Madam C * • *. Let the drawing-rooms
make the most on't. Permit Madam D * * • to define love by herown fancy; and don't envy the vain imaginations of those miserable creatures who, when their beauty is decayed, value themselves upon the wit that still continues with them, at the expence of the face they have lost. Finding me so clownilh in the contempt of refined sentiments, you'll imagine, perhaps, thatl amahero as to the exercises of the body; pray hearken how the case stands with me: I am indifferent in every thing; and neither nature nor fortune has done any thing for me but what is common. As I cannot see, without envy, those people that are sumptuous and magnificent in their expences; so I cannot, without some displeasure, behold those that are too much given to their pleasures : and if I dare speak my thoughts, I hate, in some measure, the Vivonnes and the Saucours, because I cannot resemble them. My affairs go always at the fame rate: I never allow myself any extravagance: and I stand in need of a little ceconomy to make things even at the year's end, and pass a winter's night. Not that I am reduced either to want or infirmity: Buttoexplain myself frankly, my experience is small, and my efforts indifferent. Tell me now, whether with these qualities, I may presume to set up foryour lover, or whether I am still to continue your friend? As for myself, I am resolved to take what p irt you assign me; and if I pass from friendship to love without difficulty, I am able to return from love to friendship, with as little violence.
§93. St. Evremokt to thcDu.br;
I beg of you, Madam, to tell the Du. chefs of Bouillon, that no person can be more sensible than I am of the honour that (he does me by remembering me. I don't much pity La Fontaine's condition, fearing lest my own may stand in need of pity. At his and my age, nobody ought to wonder that we lose our reason, but that we keep it. the preservation of it is no great advantage ; 'tis an obstacle to the quiet of old people, and a bar to th pleasures ot the y ung. La Fontaine feels not that disorder which