I have no letters of yours, or Mr. Harte's to acknowledge; so that this letter is the effect of that 'scribendi cacoethes,' which my fears, my hopes, and my doubts, concerning you give me. When I have wrote you a very long letter upon any subject, it is no sooner gone, but I think I have omitted something in it, which might be of use to you; and then I prepare the supplement for the next post: or else some new subject occurs to me, upon which I fancy I can give you some informations, or point out some rules which may be advantageous to you. This sets me to writing again, though God knows whether to any purpose or not; a few years more can only ascertain that. But, whatever my success may be, my anxiety and my care can only be the effects of that tender affection which I have for you; and which you cannot represent to yourself greater than it really is. But do not mistake the nature of that affection, and think it of a kind that you may with impunity abuse. It is not natural affection, there being in reality no such thing; for, if there were, some inward sentiment must necessarily and reciprocally discover the parent to the child, and the child to the parent, without any exterior indications, knowledge, or acquaintance whatsoever; which never happened since the creation of the world, whatever poets, romance, and novel writers, and such sentiment-mongers, may be pleased to say to the contrary. Neither is my affection for you that of a mother, of which the only, or at least the chief objects, are health and life: I wish you them both most heartily; but, at the same time, I confess they are by no means my principal care.
My object is to have you fit to live; which, if you are not, I do not desire that you should live at all. My affection for you then is, and only will be, proportioned to your merit; which is the only affection that one rational being ought to have for another. Hitherto I have discovered nothing wrong in your heart, or your head: on the contrary I think I see sense in the one, and sentiments in the other. This persuasion is the only motive of my present affection; which will either increase or diminish, according to your merit or demerit. If you have the knowledge, the honor, and probity, which you may have, the marks and warmth of my affection shall amply reward them; but if you have them not, my aversion and indignation will rise in the same proportion; and, in that case, remember, that I am under no further obligation, than to give you the necessary means of subsisting. If ever we quarrel, do not expect or depend upon any weakness in my nature, for a reconciliation, as children frequently do, and often meet with, from silly parents; I have no such weakness about me: and, as I will never quarrel with you but upon some essential point; if once we quarrel, I will never forgive. But I hope and believe, that this declaration (for it is no threat) will prove unnecessary. You are no stranger to the principles of virtue; and, surely, whoever knows virtue must love it. As for knowledge, you have already enough of it, to engage you to acquire more. The ignorant only, either despise it, or think that they have enough: those who have the most are always the most desirous to have more, and know that the most they can have is, alas! but too little.
Reconsider, from time to time, and retain the friendly advice which I send you. The advantage will be all your own.
LONDON, December 29, O. S. 1747
DEAR BOY: I have received two letters from you of the 17th and 22d, N. S., by the last of which I find that some of mine to you must have miscarried; for I have never been above two posts without writing to you or to Mr. Harte, and even very long letters. I have also received a letter from Mr. Harte, which gives me great satisfaction: it is full of your praises; and he answers for you, that, in two years more, you will deserve your manumission, and be fit to go into the world, upon a footing that will do you honor, and give me pleasure.
I thank you for your offer of the new edition of 'Adamus Adami,' but I do not want it, having a good edition of it at present. When you have read that, you will do well to follow it with Pere Bougeant's 'Histoire du Traite de Munster,' in two volumes quarto; which contains many important anecdotes concerning that famous treaty, that are not in Adamus Adami.
You tell me that your lectures upon the 'Jus Publicum' will be ended at Easter; but then I hope that Monsieur Mascow will begin them again; for I would not have you discontinue that study one day while you are at Leipsig. I suppose that Monsieur Mascow will likewise give you lectures upon the 'Instrumentum Pacis,' and upon the capitulations of the late emperors. Your German will go on of course; and I take it for granted that your stay at Leipsig will make you a perfect master of that language, both as to speaking and writing; for remember, that knowing any language imperfectly, is very little better than not knowing it at all: people being as unwilling to speak in a language which they do not possess thoroughly, as others are to hear them. Your thoughts are cramped, and appear to great disadvantage, in any language of which you are not perfect master. Let modern history share part of your time, and that always accompanied with the maps of the places in question; geography and history are very imperfect separately, and, to be useful, must be joined.
Go to the Duchess of Courland's as often as she and your leisure will permit. The company of women of fashion will improve your manners, though not your understanding; and that complaisance and politeness, which are so useful in men's company, can only be acquired in women's.