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160 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1771
There is a certain dignity in retiring from life at a time, when the infirmities of age have not sapped our faculties. This world, my dear Charles, was a scene in which I never much delighted. I was not formed for the bustle of the busy, nor the dissipation of the gay; a thousand things occurred, where I blushed for the impropriety of my conduct when I thought on the world, though my reason told me I should have blushed to have done otherwise. - It was a scene of dissimulation, of restraint, of disappointment. I leave it to enter on that state which I have learned to believe is replete with the genuine happiness attendant upon virtue. I look back on the tenor of my life, with the consciousness of few great offences to account for. There are blemishes, I confess, which deform in some degree the picture. But I know the benignity of the Supreme Being, and rejoice at the thoughts of its exertion in my favour. My mind expands at the thought I shall enter into the society of the blessed, wise as angels, with the simplicity of children.Although we do not tend to value such emotions today, they were a fresh discovery to our ancestors after all the snuff and lace cuffs of the Age of Reason. It also resulted in such wonderful books as Oliver Goldsmith's The Vicar of Wakefield, Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, Sterne's Sentimental Journey, and Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard."