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XLI. David Hume to Dr. Campbell.
Montrose, March 4. THE following letter, which lately came into my hands, deserves a place in your Miscellany, which is the repository of every thing curious. I do not think it has been printed before, and I have reason to deem it authentic. Perhaps it has come abroad without the knowledge of the possessor; but I was laid under no restrictions by the
gentleman from whom I received it. I am, Sir, yours, &c.
David Hume to Dr. Campbell.
« DEAR SIR,
Edinb. 7 Jan. 1762. It has so seldom happened that controversies in philosophy, much more in theology, have been carried on without producing a personal quarrel between the parties, that I must regard my present situation as somewhat extraordinary, who have reason to give you thanks, for the civil and obliging manner in which you have conducted the dispute against me, on so interesting a subject as that of miracles. Any little symptoms of vehemence, of which I formerly used the freedom to complain, when you favoured me with a sight of the Manuscript, are either removed or explained away, or atoned for by civilities which are far beyond what I have any title to pretend to. It will be natural for you to imagine that I will fall upon some shift to evade the force of your arguments, and to retain my former opinion in the point controverted between us; but it is impossible for me not to see the ingenuity of your performance, and the great learning which you have displayed against me.
I consider myself as very much honoured in being thought worthy of an answer by a person of so much merit; and as I find that the public does you justice with regard to the ingenuity and good composition of your piece, I hope you will have no reason to repent engaging with an antagonist, whom perhaps in strictness you might have ventured to neglect. I own to you that I never felt so violent an inclination to defend myself as at present, when I am thus fairly challenged by you, and I think I could find something specious at least to urge in my defence ; but as I had fixed
a resolution, in the beginning of my life, always to leave the public to judge between my adversaries and me, without making any reply, I must adhere inviolably to this resoJution, otherways my silence on any future occasion would be construed an inability to answer, and would be matter of triumph against me.
It may perhaps ainuse you to learn the first hint which suggested to me that argument which you have so strenuously attacked. I was walking in the cloisters of the Jesuits College of La Fleeke, a town in which I passed two years of my youth, and engaged in a conversation with a Jesuit of some parts and learning, who was relating to me, and urging, some nonsensical miracle performed in their convent, when I was tempted to dispute against him; and as iny head was full of the topics of my Treatise of Human Nature, which I was at this time composing, this argument iminediately occurred to me, and I thought it very much gravelled my companion ; but at last he observed to me, that it was impossible for that argument to have any solidity, because it operated equally against the Gospel as the Catholic miracles, which observation I thought proper to admit as a sufficient answer. I believe you will allow that the freedom at least of this reasoning makes it somewhat extraordinary to have been the produce of a convent of Jesuits, though perhaps you may think the sophistry of it savours plainly of the place of its birth. 1785, March
XLII, Dr. Johnson to the Rev. Thomas Warton,
Feb, 1, 1755. I WROTE to you some weeks ago, but I believe did not direct accurately, and therefore know not whether you had
letter. I would likewise write to your brother, but know not where to find him. I now begin to see land, after having wandered, according to Mr. Warburton's phrase, in this vast sea of words*. What reception I shall meet with upon the shore, I know not; whether the sound of bells, and acclamations of the people, which Ariosto talks of in his last Canto, or a general murinur of dislike, I know not; whether I shall find, upon the coast, a Calypso that will court, or a Polypheme that will resist. But if Polypheme comes
* Täis letter was written just before the publication of his Dictionary. In
to me, have at his eyes* I hope, however, the critics will let me be at peace : for though I do not much fear their skill or strength, I am a little afraid of myself; and would not willingly feel so much ill-will in my bosom as literary quarrels are apt to excite. I am in great want of Crescimbeni, which you may have again when you please. There is nothing considerable done or doing among us here: we are not perhaps as innocent as villagers, but most of us as idle. I hope, however, you are busy; and should be glad to know what you are doing.
I am, dear Sir,
Yours, &c. 1785, March.
XLIII. From a Noble Lord to a young Lady on the ev
Hanover-square, April 20. I SEND you a copy of a letter, written some years ago, by the late Lord - to the Hon. Miss -, on the eve of her marriage. It was not intended for publication ; but it may be of use: the pen it came from will be easily known.
MY DEAR Miss " It is not in my power to add any thing to the good sense and solidity of the reflections contained in your letter to my wife. The rational plan you have there laid out, for your future conduct, will not fail to secure to you the esteem, love, and respect of a man, too well acquainted with the world, to under-value so much prudence and discretion in a young wife. I believe, however, that most of
your sex, on the eve of matrimonial engagements, mean and intend to act well; but, few having the advantage of your understanding, many are soon misled by misconception, levity, or, the worst of bad counsellors, those of your own sex. To resolve well, is vothing; the difficulty is to presevere;
* But Polyphenne surely was monoculous. And so, we are told, was the lia terary Ulysses. EDIT. VOL IIL
98 From a noble Lord to a Young Lady.
or, as Lee the poet much better expresses it, to be obsti : nately good. The word obstinately contains alone more
meaning: energy, and pith, than half the volumes which have been written on the subject. I repeat it, little can be added to what your own foresight has already suggested to you; but, as the engagement you are contracting is of the utmost importance to your future welfare, I will, since you do me the honour to ask my advice, subjoin a few remarks, the fruit of long experience and some observation.
Let respectability be your aim and object; be respectable in your connections, in your acquaintance, in the management of your family; but, above all, in the choice of your intimates. The world, in general, will be guided in their opinion of your character by the characters of those you select as objects of your friendship and confidence ; your husband, moreover, will respect and consider you, in proportion as he perceives you considered and respected by others. Airs, haughtiness, and pride, are not unfrequently mistaken for dignity; as roughness, ill manners, and brutality, in our sex, often claim as frankness, courage, and manliness—you will not mistake them- you have a friend in the world, and a very sincere one, who possesses this happy gift of assimilating this respectability with the best nature and the most wivning affability :-I need not name her.
What I have been saying seems to me very important, and deserves your serious consideration; but what relates immediately to your husband is still more so.
Let me intreat you to consider the first year after your marriage as a year of probation, a time of trial, of noviceship; every action, every step, nay, every word, will have its weight in the scale of your husband's future trust and confidence in you. Consider, in this interval he will nearly have settled his opinion of your prudence, your discretion, and your worth. I would by no means be understood to recommend cunning :--cunning stands in the same relation to prudence, as hypocrisy to religion. Cunning, like hypocrisy, implies a sordid meanness of soul; and I both hope and believe, that you have an elevation of mind which would spurn at duplicity, at every kind of trick.
From these great outlines in the picture of a valuable wife, let me now proceed to the nicer touches of it, to the lights and shades, to those minute strokes of the pencil, without which the picture remains unfinished, but which require all the patience, all the attention, all the perseverance of the artist. You are the artist; you are to draw this sublime picturebut you must do more-you must be a heroine and a philosopher, Assure yourself, that your hus. band, being a man, has his foibles, his caprices, his humours :-are you possessed of magnanimity sufficient to bear those, without repining, without peevishness, without retaliation ?-have you philosophy enough to scratch your ribbon*; and smile good-humouredly, when your mighty lord struts in all his dignity across the room; and gobbleg his importance like an angry turkey-cock ?-have you temper enough to compel him, on his cooler recollection, to call himself a fool, and you the best of women ?-have you considered the importance of avoiding silly disputes about silly trides !-it is well worth your consideration. I myself knew a man and wife, the two fondest and best-natured of creatures, who, after a long and wise investigation, whether we have ten fingers, or only eight fingers and two thumbs, complained bitterly of each other's monstrous ill usage, and concluded, by proposing a separation, the wife from the worst of husbands, the husband from the worst of wives. Luckily their heads were sound, as their hearts were good; both were struck with the dangerous tendency of such foolish altercations, and resolved in future to avoid them. Are you capable of checking a rising flush? -of swallowing a provoking word ready to burst from your lips? If you be equal to such fortitude, to such heroism, you are, in my estimation, a great philosopher ;-in that of your turkey-cock, you will be an angel.
More fortitude still may possibly require your exertions, if ever it should so happen (and this may happen to the most virtuous woman) that you perceive your mind too much employed in favour of another man; yourself too much disposed to dwell on his good qualities, on the gentleness, the amiableness of his manners, on his disinterested attentions to you; if you feel such a man insensibly creeping into your affections—no hesitation-fly, if possible, from him, as far as from pole to pole-no confidante ; more particularly no female one-bury the secret in the remotest recess your soul : and let your virtue and honour alone watch over it;conceal your weakness, not only from the object of it, but from the whole world; nay, endeavour to conceal it from yourself—indulge not yourself, under pretence of fortifying your virtue, in gloomy thoughts about your supposed misery;
the writer's wife, when she saw her husband angry, was tied to scratch bes bat with both hands, or the ribbun of her cap, crying ob" My lord-] don't bear I don't hear!”