I pray you to read it, and cause it to be read in your purlieus. It is a salutary document, and as beautiful as it is salutary; full of statesmanlike wisdom, and with an extraordinary insight into the state of our affairs, in their most troublesome and difficult times. Moreover, no man, I think, has rendered such ample and graceful justice to Washington's character. Brougham's sketch is an ordinary piece of shallow rhetoric compared to it. I received a few days ago from our old friend, Professor Smyth, the two first volumes of his lectures on history; a genial work, like himself, and, if not a regular abstract of dates and events, a work as well fitted as any I have ever seen to rouse up the minds of young men and induce them to inquire and learn for themselves. . . . . The rather irregular mode in which it is all done adds, perhaps, to its effect, by giving it the same air of frankness and sincerity that marks his own character and talk, and are more persuading than anything formal ever is. We are all well For the last week we have had five nieces staying with us, and so have made a merry time of it; but in a day or two they will go home and leave us to ourselves. It is perhaps time, on some accounts. We have had our house full a large part of the winter. . . . .
To Miss Maria Edgeworth, Edgeworthtown.
July 10, 1840.You ask me, dear Miss Edgeworth, to give you some account of the state of metaphysics in this country, desiring, I think, chiefly to be informed of their practical effect on life and character among us. It is very kind in you thus to give me an opportunity of speaking to you, and so keeping up a little of that intercourse which, during the few days we were at Edgeworthtown, was so truly delightful to us. But I do not know that I should venture to take you at your word, if the story were not a very short one; for I think you have as little fancy for metaphysics, taken in the common and popular sense of the word, as I have; and that a history of them, given at any length, would be very wearisome to you. Luckily we are a practical people, perhaps a little too much given to the merely useful, but we are eminently a practical people. If, therefore, we are at any time attacked by the metaphysical disease, we must, like the Scotch, necessarily have it lightly. It cannot become chronic or permanent in the constitution, as with the more spiritualized