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LETTER TO THE EARL OF CHESTERFIELD.
Y LORD. I have been lately informed, by the proprietor of the World, that two papers, in which my Dictionary is recommended to the public, were written by your lordship. To be so distinguished, is an honor, which, being very little accustomed to favors from the great, I know not well how to receive, or in what terms to acknowledge.
When, upon some slight encouragement, I first visited your lordship, I was overpowered, like the rest of mankind, by the enchantment of your address, and could not forbear to wish that I might boast myself the conqueror of the conqueror of the world, that I might obtain that regard for which I saw the world contending; but I found my attendance so little encouraged, that neither pride nor modesty would suffer me to continue it. When I had once addressed your lordship in public, I had exhausted all the art of pleasing which a retired and uncourtly scholar can possess. I had done all that I could; and no man is well pleased to have his all neglected, be it ever so little.
Seven years, my lord, have now passed since I waited in your outward rooms, or was repulsed from your door; during which time I have been pushing on my work through difficulties, of which it is useless to complain, and have brought it, at last, to the verge of publication, without one act
of assistance, one word of encouragement, or one smile of favor. Such treatment I did not expect, for I never had a patron before.
The shepherd in Virgil grew at last acquainted with Love, and found him a native of the rocks.
Is not a patron, my lord, one who looks with unconcern on a man struggling for life in the water, and when he has reached the ground, encumbers him with help? The notice which you have been pleased to take of my labors, had it been early, had been kind; but it has been delayed till I am indifferent, and can not enjoy it; till I am solitary, and can not impart it; till I am known, and do not want it. I hope it is no very cynical asperity not to confess obligations where no benefit has been received, or to be unwilling that the public should consider me as owing that to a patron, which Providence has enabled me to do for myself.
Having carried on my work thus far with so little obligation to any favorer of learning, I shall not be disappointed, though I should conclude it, if less be possible, with less; for I have been long wakened from that dream of hope, in which I once boasted myself with so much exultation, My Lord, your Lordship's most humble, Most obedient servant, SAMUEL JOHNSON.
THE DUTY OF FORGIVENESS.
WISE man will make haste to forgive, because he knows the true value of time, and will not suffer it to pass away in unnecessary pain. He that willingly suffers the corrosions of inveterate hatred, and gives up his days and nights to the gloom of malice and perturbations of statagem, can not surely be said to consult his ease. Resentment is a union of sorrow with malignity, a combination of a passion which all endeavor to avoid with a passion which all concur to detest. The man who retires to meditate mischief, and to exasperate his own rage; whose
thoughts are employed only on means of distress and contrivances of ruin; whose mind never pauses from the remembrance of his own sufferings, but to indulge some hope of enjoying the calamities of another, may justly be numbered among the most miserable of human beings, among those who are guilty without reward, who have neither the gladness of prosperity nor the calm of innocence.
Whoever considers the weakness both of himself and others, will not long want persuasives to forgiveness. We know not to what degree of
malignity any injury is to be imputed; or how much its guilt, if we were to inspect the mind of him that committed it, would be extenuated by mistake, precipitance, or negligence; we can not be certain how much more we feel than was intended to be inflicted, or how much we increase the mischief to ourselves by voluntary aggravations. We may charge to design the effects of accident; we may think the blow violent only because we have made ourselves delicate and tender; we are on every side in danger of- error and of guilt, which we are certain to avoid only by speedy forgiveness.
From this pacific and harmless temper, thus propitious to others and ourselves, to domestic tranquillity and to social happiness, no man is withheld but by pride, by the fear of being insulted by his adversary, or despised by the world.
It may be laid down as an unfailing and universal axiom, that "all pride is abject and mean." It is always an ignorant, lazy, or cowardly acquiescence in a false appearance of excellence, and proceeds not from consciousness of our attainments, but insensibility of our wants.
Nothing can be great which is not right. Nothing which reason condemns can be suitable to the dignity of the human mind. To be driven by external motives from the path which our own heart approves, to give way to anything but conviction, to suffer the opinion of others to rule our choice or overpower our resolves, is to submit tamely to the lowest and most ignominious slavery, and to resign the right of directing our own lives.
The utmost excellency at which humanity can arrive, is a constant and determined pursuit of
virtue, without regard to present dangers or advantages; a continual reference of every action to the divine will; an habitual appeal to everlasting justice; and an unvaried elevation of the intellectual eye to the reward which perseverance only can obtain. But that pride which many, who presume to boast of generous sentiments, allow to regulate their measures, has nothing nobler in view than the approbation of men, of beings whose superiority we are under no obligation to acknowledge, and who, when we have courted them with the utmost assiduity, can confer no valuable or permanent reward; of beings who ignorantly judge of what they do not understand, or partially determine what they never have examined; and whose sentence is, therefore, of no weight till it has received the ratification of our own conscience.
He that can descend to bribe suffrages like these at the price of his innocence; he that can suffer the delight of such acclamations to withhold his attention from the commands of the universal Sovereign, has little reason to congratulate himself upon the greatness of his mind: whenever he awakes to seriousness and reflection, he must become despicable in his own eyes, and shrink with shame from the remembrance of his cowardice and folly.
Of him that hopes to be forgiven, it is indispensably required that he forgive. It is, therefore, superfluous to urge any other motive. On this great duty eternity is suspended; and to him that refuses to practise it, the throne of mercy is inaccessible, and the Saviour of the world has been born in vain.
ESSAYIST, BIOGRAPHER, AND HISTORIAN.
HOMAS CARLYLE was in many respects the most interesting character among English men of letters of the century. The son of a Scotch stone mason and farmer, he never lost the respect for honest labor so characteristic of his countrymen, and his tender love for his peasant father and mother was the most beautiful phase of his contradictory character. "If I had had all the mothers in the world to choose from," writes he after her death, "I should have chosen my own." There are few scenes in the biographies of great men more touching than Carlyle and his mother sitting and smoking together far into the night, while the famous son tries in tender words to explain to the admiring but anxious mother, whose life of hard labor has shut her out from the world in which he moves, how it is that his religion and hers can be really one and the same, while he must reject all the forms in which she expresses it.
Carlyle was born in Ecclefechan, Scotland, December 4, 1794, and died in London, February 5, 1881. By dint of economy almost beyond belief in our selfindulgent generation, he was educated at the University of Edinburgh, and afterward taught school for several years. He was private tutor in a wealthy London family for two years, and then returned to Edinburgh. His first literary work of note was a "Life of Schiller," and translations from the German. He was married in 1826 to Jane Welsh, a young lady of good family and of unusual abilities, who might herself have made a name in literature had she not devoted her life to Carlyle. After a year or two in Edinburgh, the Carlyles removed to a wild moorland farm at Craigenputloch belonging to Mrs. Carlyle's mother. It was a dreary spot, a mile from any other habitation, and here Mrs. Carlyle suffered for six years all the miseries of loneliness and hard labor and narrow circumstances. Here Carlyle did some of his best work, including most of his articles in the Edinburgh Review, a series of papers comprising a "History of German Literature," and that wonderful criticism of life and manners called "Sartor Resartus." Money, however, did not come in satisfactorily, and at last they removed to London, taking up their residence in Chelsea, where they continued to live during both their lives.
Here he wrote the "History of the French Revolution," "Past and Present," the "Letters and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell," the "History of Frederick the Great," and a long list of essays and review articles.