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[156] I must have been taking lessons of Mr. Bristow? Learn that my eyes do not allow me to look attentively at my writing, and that I give a glance and a scribble, in a truly frantic and indiscriminate manner. Having ruined my own eyes, you see, I am doing my utmost to ruin the eyes of my friends. This is human nature -all evil seeks thus to propagate itself, while good is satisfied with itself, and stays where it is. When I think of this, I ask myself, does not the devil, then, send missionaries? You will agree with me that he at least sends ambassadors. I have passed, so far, a very studious winter. Never, since my youth, have I lived so much in reading and writing — hence these eyes! Of course, you exclaim, what madness! but, indeed, I should have a worse madness if I did not cram myself with books. The bareness and emptiness of life were then insupportable. ...

Of the nearly eighteen months since my return to America, I have passed fourteen at South Boston. Last winter I was fresh from my travels, and had still strength enough to keep up my relation with society, and to invite people a good deal to my house. But this year I am more worn down, my health quite impaired, and the exertion of going out or receiving at home is too much for me....

I have made acquaintance with the Russell Lowells, but we are too far apart to profit much by it. I cannot swim about in this frozen ocean of Boston life in search of friends. I feel as if I had struggled enough with it, as if I could now fold my arms and go down....

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