whether he could read at the end of four years or of five, and that I thought it not proper to harass a tender mind with the violence of painful attention. I may perhaps procure both father and son a year of quiet : and surely I may rate myself among their benefactors.
You know I never thought confidence with respect to futurity any part of the character of a brave, a wise, or a good man. Bravery has no place where it can avail nothing ; wisdom impresses strongly the consciousness of those faults of which it is itself perhaps an aggrava- tion ; and goodness, always wishing to be better, and imputing every deficience to criminal negligence and every fault to voluntary cor- ruption, never dares to suppose the condition of forgiveness fulfilled, nor what is wanting in the crime supplied by penitence. This is the state of the best : but what must be the condition of him whose heart will not suffer him to rank himself among the best, or among the good? Such must be his dread of the approaching trial as will leave him little atten- tion to the opinion of those whom he is leaving for ever; and the serenity that is not felt it can be no virtue to feign.
Write to me no more about dying with a