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that my advice has not been quite lost upon them, by a generous act of forgiveness towards the unknown offender; and that in future, as often as occasion may require, the same indulgence may be extended towards others; for truly when one comes impartially to consider the degree of uneasiness that the temper of which we have been speaking occasions, I doubt if one should find a very great deal to choose between a troublesom friend, and a troublesome enemy.
I am, my dear reader,
A LETTER TO A FRIEND.
That dissatisfaction with the daily routine of life-life without an object, of which you complain, is, I believe, most keenly felt by persons of energetic minds. .... For those who have no external objects of interest, there remain only two resources ;-Some interesting intellectual pursuit, and that degree of spirituality of mind which makes religion our happiness, as well as our safety. The former cannot always be obtained; for unless an employment has some sufficient object, the mind soon becomes disgusted ;-it inquires
What am I taking all this trouble for ? But the latter is always attainable ; and the great objects of another life are, we feel, alone capable of filling and satisfying the cravings of our minds. When the mind is in a vigorous state with respect to these objects, it is not liable to suffer from lassitude, or to feel disgust under any
circumstances. thing need be sought for to add to the happiness of à mind habitually holding communion with God, it is the pleasures of intellect—those, I mean, of that higher order which naturally blend and harmonize with devotional feelings, and the hopes of futurity. There are many pursuits, many attainments, which I once thought very desirable, that I now perceive to be in their nature, trifling. But the longer I live, the more I prize and wish to cultivate an intellectual taste. A romantic, sentimental turn of mind, such as is common in youth, does but render one inore susceptible to the disgusts of life; but this, elevates the mind above them, and is a support in the midst of them. It is also a great preservative against that littleness of soul—those meannesses, jealousies, and petty competitions to which the female mind is so prone.
This intellectual taste is perhaps incompatible with the interests and detail of domestic life. But I have been supposing the case of those who are not thus occupied. . .
To one who has a good hope through grace, and who does in so good a degree adorn the doctrine of her God and Saviour; it seems almost superfluous to wish or to recommend any thing more. Yet, as the activity of our ininds will find some employment, some interest in this world, it is certainly desirable to give this activity the best direction possible; and indeed I believe, that a mind well furnished with human knowledge, and a cultivated taste, possesses what are, or may be, useful auxiliaries in the Christian life ; and where it is in our power to acquire them, without making a sacrifice of higher duties, I think we are well employed in so doing. I would not have presumed to say any thing on this subject, if you had not repeatedly requested it; and you know I am fully aware of the causes which induced you to relinquish pursuits in which it is no flattery to say, you were very likely to excel.
But now I believe you are convinced that no real objections remain ; and as you are shut out so much from social pleasures, and the enjoyments of friendship, I am persuaded your mind would be greatly invigorated, and would be less liable to prey upon itself, if it were more occupied upon general subjects. That enlargement of mind which is so desirable for enabling us to form correct ideas on all subjects, is only to be acquired by general reading. It would give me great pleasure, especially if I were better qualified, to recommend a course of study of this kind; but in such a situation as you are in at it is scarcely possible to procure the works of the best writers. Unless, therefore, you were within reach of a good library, it would be useless to dictate. This is an advantage which I have never fully possessed ; but I have availed myself of what came in my way. Perhaps the time may come when you will be very differently circumstanced in this respect. In the mean time, would you think it irksome or inconsistent with your present duties, to make some of those acquirements in which many of our sex have made great proficiency, and for which I think you have a decided talent ? For instance : -the languages. In the acquisition of Hebrew and Greek there is a use and an object worthy the ambition of a Christian ; and I have been assured by good scholars that, to acquire so much of these languages as enables one to read the original Scriptures with intelligence, is no difficult matter. А critical knowledge of them is a very different thing. And this is not necessary, at least, to a female student. I have known ladies who could translate a chapter from the Hebrew Bible after studying the language a few months: and the satisfaction derived from the attainment is great.
I hope you will not think that I am assuming too much in giving this advice. I would not do it if I were not persuaded that some such pursuit would be highly advantageous to your mind; and would prove an alleviation to some of its sorrows. There is a great difference between a study of this kind, in which there is an important object, and which is always found greatly to strengthen and enlarge the mind—and mere accomplishments, which though they may have their use, are of very inferior importance : and to which one could not conscientiously devote much time. It would be easy to procure the few books needful to prosecute any studies of the kind I have alluded to: and although a master would greatly facilitate your progress, yet this help is by no means necessary ; many who have made the greatest proficiency have been self-taught. .