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the observations, are designed for the advancement of valuable learning, and to promote whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report.
About fifty years ago the midwife wheeled me in, and much sooner than half a century hence, in all human probability, death will wheel me out. When Heaven pleases, I am satisfied. Life and death are equally welcome, because equally parts of my way to eternity. My lot has been a swarthy one in this first state, and I am in hopes I shall exchange worlds to advantage. As God, without all peradventure, brought his moral creatures into being, in order to increase their virtue, and provide suitable happiness for the worthy, the most unfortunate here may expect immutable felicity at last, if they have endeavoured, in proportion to what power they had, to render themselves useful and valuable, by a sincerity and benevolence of temper, a disinterestedness, a communicativeness, and the practice of those duties, to which we are obliged by the frame of our nature, and by the relations we bear to God, and to the subjects of his governinent.
For my part, I confess that, many have been the failings of my life, and great the defects of my obe
dience. But in the midst of all my failings and imperfections, my soul hath always sympathised with the afflicted, and iny heart hath ever aked for the miseries of others. My hand has often relieved when I wanted the shilling to comfort myself, and when it hath not been in my power to relieve, I have grieved for the scanty accommodations of others. Many troublesome and expensive offices I have undertaken to do good to men, and ever social and free have I been in my demeanour, easy and smooth in my address; and therefore I trust that, whenever I am removed from this horizon, it will be from a dark and cloudy state, to that of joy, light, and full revelation. This felicitates my every day, let what happen from without. This supports me under every affliction, and enables me to maintain a habit of satisfaction and joy in the general course of my life.
The things of my childhood are not worth setting down, and therefore I commence my life from the first month of the seventeenth year
of I was sent to the university, in 1720, and entered a pensioner, though I had a larger yearly allowance than any fellow-commoner of my college. I was resolved to read there, and determined to improve my natural faculties to the utmost of my power. Nature, I was sensible, had bestowed no
my age, when
genius on me. This, and understanding, are only the privilege of extraordinary persous, who receive from Heaven the happy conjunction of qualities, that they may execute great and noble designs, and acquire the highest pitch of excellence in the profession they turn to, if they will take the pains to perfect the united qualities by art, and carefully avoid running into caprice and paradox; the rocks on which many a genius has split. But then I had a tolerable share of natural understanding, and from my infancy was teachable, and always attentive to the directions of good sense. This I knew might rise with some labour, to a half merit, though it could never gain immortality upon any account: and this was enough for me. I wanted only to acquire such degrees of perfections as lay within the small sphere nature had chalked out for me.
To this purpose I devoted my college life to books, and for five years that I resided in the university, conversed so much with the dead that I had very little intercourse with the living. So totally had letters engaged my mind, that I was but little affected towards most other things. Walking and music were my favourite recreations, and almost the only ones I delighted in. I had hardly a thought at that time of the foolish choices and pursuits of men, those fatal choices and pursuits which are owing to false judgments, and to a habit of acting precipitantly, without examining the fancies and appetites; and therefore very rarely went into the pleasures and diversions which men of fortune in a university too commonly indulge in. My relaxation after study was my german-flute and the conversation of some ingenious, sober friend, generally my private tutor, Mr. John Bruce, who was a bright and excellent man, and of whom you will find a large account in the first volume of my Memoirs of several Ladies of Great Britain, 1755, 8vo. p. 7. If the weather permitted, I walked out into the country several miles. At this exercise I had often one or other with me; but for the most part was obliged to go alone. My dog and my gun however were diversion enough on the way, and they frequently led me into scenes of entertainment, which lasted longer than the day. Some of them you will find in this Journal. The history of the beautiful HARRIET Noel you shall have by and by.
At present, my scheme requires me to set down the method I pursued in my readings, and let my reader know the issue of my studies. My time I devoted to philosophy, cosmography, mathematics, and the languages, for four years, and the fifth, I gave to history.
The first book I took into my hand, after receive
ing my note of admission, was the Essay of that fine genius, Mr. Locke, and I was so pleased with this clear and accurate writer, that I looked into nothing else, till, by reading it three times over, I had made a thorough acquaintance with my own understanding. He taught me to examine my abilities, and enabled me to see what objects my mind was fitted to deal with. He led me into the sanctuary of vanity and ignorance, and shewed me how greatly true knowledge depended on a right meaning of words, and a just significancy of expression. In sum, from the Essay my understanding received very great benefits, and to it I owe what improvement I have made in the reason given me.
If I could, I would persuade all young gentlemen to read it over and over with great attention, and I am sure they would find themselves very richly rewarded for their pains in reading it. They would acquire that justness and truth of understanding, which is the great perfection of rational beings.
When I had done, for a time, with this admirable Essay, I then began to study the first principles of things, the structure of the universe, the contexture of human bodies, the properties of beasts, the virtues of plants, and the qualities of metals, and was quite charmed with the contemplation of the beautiful order, and wise final causes of nature in