|The Hague January 7. 1796.|
The last Letter I have received from you, of the 6th of last month, mentions as a proof of your punctuality and frequency in writing, that I was four Letters in your debt. In my turn let me observe to my gentle friend that this is the sixth Letter of mine to which answers are due
It is almost three weeks since I was indulged with the pleasure of recognizing your superscription. From a line in your fathers Letter of Novr 29. I have been anxious lest you [we]re unwell. Though your last, being of a week later date served in some degree to remove my [appre]hensions, I am still solicitous to know again under your own hand that you are in good [hea]lth. I hope also that you have before this recovered your usual good spirits and have reconciled your mind to the longer separation which we are doomed to suffer. That you will derive a satisfaction from the reflection that it cannot be avoided, and that the period of our hopes although more remote is not less secure than it would have been under a more fortunate course of circumstances. That you will consider untoward Events, as a test of character, and that a large portion of all human merit consists insuffering with dignity and composure, without weakness or unavailing regret.
I am waiting with as much patience and as little concern as I can command for Letters and news from America. The affairs of that Country must always be deeply interesting to me; at the present moment they are particularly critical and momentous from a variety of causes some of which you can easily conjecture.
I have been reading (for I must yet read a little, though with your admonition always in my mind) a book recently written and published by a Lady: by Madame de Stael the daughter of Mr. Neckar. It is a treatise upon the influence of the Passions upon the happiness of individuals and of Nations. She tells us that all the Passions are merely sources of unhappiness that the Love of Glory, Ambition, Vanity, Love, Play &c &c &c, can confer upon us mortals nothing but misery, and that if we must live, nothing but philosophy, study and the practice of beneficence can make life tolerable or give us a semblance of Happiness. She adds that being very much addicted to passions herself she is of course very unhappy, but she thinks herself for that reason the better qualified to give warning to others. The book is very ingenious and if it should fall in your way will be worth your reading. It will shew you what a figure one of your sex can [. . . ] when she undertakes to philosophize.—I had rather however that you should [. . . ] continue susceptible of one passion at least, than that you should adpot altogether the philosophy of Madame de Stael.
To your Mamma and Sisters please to remember me with affection, and believe in the sincerest and tenderest attachment of your friend