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and I now made another round of the county, expecting to have something more than general good wishes and flattering assurances of success. Though I siill heard those good wishes and recommendations to continue my canvass as strongly expressed as ever, yet I found in those friends and well-wishers a still greater backwardness than before to bind themselves by engagements. On expressing my astonishment at this to Atticus, one of the few friends who had from the first engaged himself to me in the warmest manner, he expressed himself as follows: · Be not surprised, my dear Hortensius; the longer a man lives in the world, he will find less reason to be surprised at any thing. I have for some time seen how matters were going. Those friends in whom you trusted the most, who were the warmest in pushing you to stand candidate, neither mean now, nor ever meant, to serve you; their only object was to serve themselves. They wished you to stand, not that you might gain your election, but that there might be a contest in the county. Before you appeared, they knew that Sir Thomas Booty was to be candidate; they knew his great influence, and they were resolved he should be their representative. But they wished not to dispose of their votes too cheaply ; they wished to have their value enhanced by the dread of a competitor. Your family, your connexions, the respectableness of your character, made you be considered as a person from whom Sir Thomas might expect a powerful opposition, and to prevail over whom promises and favours would be thought necessary;
such promises and favours have not been wanting. In a word, his fortune and interest at court are greater than yours, and that private friendship you so much relied on has been found light in the balance.
These words of Atticus made a deep impression
I now recollected a thousand circumstances which proved their truth. I at once took my resolution, and immediately declared that I gave up the competition, and left the field to Sir Thomas. No sooner was this known, than my good and trusty friends came all flocking to me, and expressed their astonishment at the step I had taken. They assured me that I had given up the canvass with a most improper precipitation. I now too well understood their conduct; I gave them a civil answer, and despised them.
Thus disappointed in the two great objects of the human heart, love and ambition, I formed the resolution of quitting the promiscuous society of the world, of abandoning a town life, and betaking myself to solitude and retirement in the country. I now remembered to have read at college, that the goods of life were of two kinds, those which were external, and those which were internal; that the first were transient, uncertain, and derived from the will of others; that the last were durable, certain, and self-derived; that the
who made the last his choice placed his happiness on a sure foundation, on a rock above the rage of the fighting elements, and inaccessible to all the attacks of fortune. On this foundation I now resolved to build my happiness.
Besides the family estate in the county where my unfortunate project of ambition had taken place, I was possessed of a small property, situated in a remote part of the kingdom, but amidst the most beautiful and romantic scenery. Here I resolved to take up my residence for the future days of my life, to enter no more into the busy and ambitious pursuits of the world, but to enjoy the innocent, the undisturbed, the elegant pleasure of solitude and retirement. In the scene of my intended residence there was a small mansion-house, but the fields around it were left in the state in which Nature had formed them. I knew that by the skilful hand of Art the romantic scenes of nature might be much aided and improved; and I already enjoyed, by anticipation, the happiness I expected to derive from the beauty of the place, and the ornaments I proposed to add to it. I purchased also a considerable library of books, and proposed to reap much pleasure from the perusal of them, and from the renewal of the studies of my early days, which had for some time been interrupted. In short, I pictured out to myself an elysium of enjoyment, a life of philosophic ease and happiness; and notwithstanding my present contempt of the world, and my idea of the vanity of its pursuits, I confess I had still so much of the world in me, as to feel some secret pleasure from the thought that I should be considered as a most accomplished pattern of taste and elegance in a retired and solitary life.
But I proceed to inform you, that I put my plan in execution, and retired from the world and its cares to my little paradise at B--. For some years of my residence there I found my happiness come up to my expectations. I passed my time most delightfully, as I thought, in improving the appearance of my grounds, in beautifying the landscape, in planting a shrub, or directing the current of a brook. My reading also gave me much amusement; it lay almost entirely in works of taste, the classics, and the best modern books of belles lettres. I felt a vanity in thinking my taste was every day improving, and that my natural sensibility of mind became more and more delicate.
But I did not long remain in this state. I began, at times, to feel a languor, a listlessness, which seemed to grow stronger at every return. I now found my ferme ornée gave me little amusement; the charm of novelty was worn off, and I grew tired of having always under my eye the same objects, however beautiful; there was not a tree the shape of which I was not acquainted with, nor a walk which I had not a thousand times measured with my steps. My books, too, had lost their charms. My reading, as I have already said, lay almost entirely in books of taste; but I now found, instead of relieving my mind, this sort of reading fatigued and exhausted it. The enjoyment which I received was of a kind which rested in itself, and led to no farther pursuit; so that I became more and more languid, weakened, and inactive. This I have experienced to be the case with all pleasure arising from inanimate beauties, and from every thing that may be termed an object merely of taste; they all terminate in themselves, and lead to weariness and satiety, unlike the exercise of the social affections, where every enjoyment multiplies itself, and leads to still fuller and more endearing sources of delight. Many a time have I felt a craving void in my heart, and how to fill it up I knew not. The very indolence which this state of mind created heightened the evil, by depriving me of the power of trying to banish it. When the morning came, I have been unwilling to get out of bed, because I knew not what to do when I should get up; and at night I have been afraid to lie down, because I knew that when the night was spent it would only lead to the nothingness of the next day. Many a summer afternoon have I spent, stretched on a sofa, and looking through the window, with a book in my hand, unable either to read the book, or to venture forth into the fields; and many a winter night has been employed in doing little more than sitting in an easy chair, and gazing in the fire. In this state I have been sometimes tempted to wish for the perfect torpor of patient dulness. Without the activity of thought, I was liable to the reproach of thinking; and, instead of the quiet in which vacant souls are rocked by Indolence, I found her slumbers, like the broken sleep of a fever, weary instead of refreshing me. I frequently felt twitches of mind from a sense of my own inactive uselessness; and the accounts I sometimes received of the success in projects of ambition of others whom I knew, and once thought my inferiors, added poignancy to my self-reproach.
I made an effort to dispel my sorrows, by keeping company
my neighbours. Most of them were indeed distant; but distance in that part of the country is no bar to visits. In the society of my neighbours, however, I found no amusement; the inhabitants of the country had no conversation which could afford me any pleasure; and the company of some bucks, who came from town to reside a few months for the sake of sport, was still more intolerable. The only connexion I had with them arose from their abusing my servants, and breaking down
I sometimes received a visit from Atticus, and a few other friends, with whom I had always kept up a correspondence, and for whom I still entertained the most sincere regard. But even their visits did not yield me much enjoyment. Every year I found growing more and more upon me shyness, a reserve, and an awkwardness, which diminished my pleasure even in the company of those who had been my
most intimate friends. When they came to see me, I felt myself different from them; I wished to hide myself from their sight. In their useful talents, in the activity of their minds, there was a reproof to my situation which I could not easily bear; when they were gone, I felt a greater blank than ever, and