LETTER I. CONTENTMENT. It is, perhaps, only the young who can be very hopefully addressed on the present subject. A few years hence, and your habits of mind will be unalterably formed; a few years hence, and your struggle against a discontented spirit, even should you be given grace to attempt it, would be a perpetually wearisome and discouraging one. The penalty of past sin will pursue you until the end, not only in the pain caused by a... more...

Amiens, Jan. 23, 1795. Nothing proves more that the French republican government was originally founded on principles of despotism and injustice, than the weakness and anarchy which seem to accompany every deviation from these principles. It is strong to destroy and weak to protect: because, deriving its support from the power of the bad and the submission of the timid, it is deserted or opposed by the former when it ceases to plunder or... more...

January 6, 1794. If I had undertaken to follow the French revolution through all its absurdities and iniquities, my indolence would long since have taken the alarm, and I should have relinquished a task become too difficult and too laborious. Events are now too numerous and too complicated to be described by occasional remarks; and a narrator of no more pretensions than myself may be allowed to shrink from an abundance of matter which will... more...

Amiens, January, 1793. Vanity, I believe, my dear brother, is not so innoxious a quality as we are desirous of supposing. As it is the most general of all human failings, so is it regarded with the most indulgence: a latent consciousness averts the censure of the weak; and the wise, who flatter themselves with being exempt from it, plead in its favour, by ranking it as a foible too light for serious condemnation, or too inoffensive for... more...

May 10, 1792. I am every day more confirmed in the opinion I communicated to you on my arrival, that the first ardour of the revolution is abated.—The bridal days are indeed past, and I think I perceive something like indifference approaching. Perhaps the French themselves are not sensible of this change; but I who have been absent two years, and have made as it were a sudden transition from enthusiasm to coldness, without passing through... more...

May 10, 1792. I am every day more confirmed in the opinion I communicated to you on my arrival, that the first ardour of the revolution is abated.—The bridal days are indeed past, and I think I perceive something like indifference approaching. Perhaps the French themselves are not sensible of this change; but I who have been absent two years, and have made as it were a sudden transition from enthusiasm to coldness, without passing through... more...