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not remember my unkindness to her. But therein lies the difference between a man and a woman. Woman is Christian. A woman's love will sweep like a river in flood over a wrong which has been done to it and bury it for ever.
I am not regenerate, but who is ever regenerate? My insignificance and defects do not worry me as they did: I do not kick at them, and I am no longer covetous of other people's talents and virtues. I am grateful for affection, for kindness, and even for politeness. What a tremendous price do we have to pay for what we so slowly learn, and learn so late!
A LETTER TO THE 'RAMBLER'
SENT to the Rambler March 1752, but, alas, in that month the Rambler came to an end. I am not sorry it was not printed. On re-reading it I find passages here and there which are unconscious and unavoidable imitations of Dr. Johnson. No use in re-writing them now. J. R. June 1760.
SIR,-I venture to send you a part of the history of my life, trusting that my example may be a warning against confidence in our own strength to resist even the meanest temptation.
My father was a prosperous haberdasher in Cheapside, and I was his eldest son. My mother was the daughter of the clerk to the Fellmongers' Company. She had reached the mature age of nine-and-twenty when she received an offer of matrimony from my father, and after much anxious consideration
and much consultation with her parents, prudently decided to accept it, although to the end of her days she did not scruple openly to declare that she had lowered herself by marrying a man who was compelled to bow behind a counter to the wife of a grocer, and stand bareheaded at the carriage door of an alderman's lady. My mother, I am sorry to say, abetted my natural aversion from trade and sent me to Saint Pauls School to learn Latin, Greek, and the mathematicks that I might be qualified to separate myself from the class to which unhappily she was degraded and that she might recover in her child the pride she had lost in her husband. My abilities were not despicable, my ambition was restless, and my progress in my studies was therefore respectable. I conceived a genuine admiration for the classick authors; I was genuinely moved by the majesty of Homer and the felicity of expression in Horace. In due time I went to Oxford, and after the usual course there, in which I was not unsuccessful, I took Holy Orders and became a curate. When I was about eight-and-twenty I was presented with a College living in the village of A. about four miles from the county town of B. in the West of England. My parishioners
were the squire, a half-pay captain in the army, a retired custom-house surveyor who was supposed to be the illegitimate son of a member of parliament, and the surrounding farmers and labourers. All were grossly illiterate, but I soon observed that a common ignorance does not prevent, but rather tends to establish artificial distinctions. Inferiority by a single degree in the social scale becomes not only a barrier to intercourse, but a sufficient reason for contempt. The squire and his lady spent their days in vain attempts to secure invitations to my Lord's at the Abbey and revenged themselves by patronising the captain, who in his turn nodded to the surveyor but would on no account permit intimacy. The surveyor could not for his life have condescended to enter a farmhouse, and yet was never weary of denouncing as intolerably stuck-up the behaviour of those above him. He consoled himself by the reflection that they were the losers, and that, poor creatures, their neglect of him was due to a lamentable misapprehension of the dignity of H.M. Custom-house Service. I can assure you I thought the comedy played at A. very ridiculous, and often laughed at it.
It was soon quite clear to me that if I was to live in peace I must take to myself a wife. The squire and the surveyor had daughters. The squire's would each have a hundred a-year apiece, a welcome addition to my small income. They were goodlooking, and by repute were virtuous and easy of temper, but when I became acquainted with them I found that I must not expect from them any entertainment save the description of visits to the milliner, or schemes for parties, or the gossip of the country-side. I did not demand, Mr. Rambler, the critical acumen of Mrs. Montagu, or the erudition of Mrs. Carter, but I believe you will agree with me that a wife, and especially the wife of a clergyman and a scholar, should be able to read a page of Dr. Barrow's sermons without yawning, and should not drop Mr. Pope's Iliad or Odyssey in five minutes unless she happened to light upon some particularly exciting adventure. I therefore dismissed the thought of these young ladies, and the daughters of the surveyor were for the same reasons ineligible, with the added objection that if I chose one of them the squire and his family would never enter the church again.
One day I went over to B. to leave my