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Italian Letters, Vols. I and II The History of the Count de St. Julian   By: (1756-1836)

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First Page:

ITALIAN LETTERS

Or

The History of the Count de St. Julian

By

WILLIAM GODWIN

Edited and with an Introduction by BURTON R. POLLIN [Blank Page] Italian Letters

Volume I

Letter I

The Count de St. Julian to the Marquis of Pescara

Palermo

My dear lord,

It is not in conformity to those modes which fashion prescribes, that I am desirous to express to you my most sincere condolence upon the death of your worthy father. I know too well the temper of my Rinaldo to imagine, that his accession to a splendid fortune and a venerable title can fill his heart with levity, or make him forget the obligations he owed to so generous and indulgent a parent. It is not the form of sorrow that clouds his countenance. I see the honest tear of unaffected grief starting from his eye. It is not the voice of flattery, that can render him callous to the most virtuous and respectable feelings that can inform the human breast.

I remember, my lord, with the most unmingled pleasure, how fondly you used to dwell upon those instances of paternal kindness that you experienced almost before you knew yourself. I have heard you describe with how benevolent an anxiety the instructions of a father were always communicated, and with what rapture he dwelt upon the early discoveries of that elevated and generous character, by which my friend is so eminently distinguished. Never did the noble marquis refuse a single request of this son, or frustrate one of the wishes of his heart. His last prayers were offered for your prosperity, and the only thing that made him regret the stroke of death, was the anguish he felt at parting with a beloved child, upon whom all his hopes were built, and in whom all his wishes centred.

Forgive me, my friend, that I employ the liberty of that intimacy with which you have honoured me, in reminding you of circumstances, which I am not less sure that you revolve with a melancholy pleasure, than I am desirous that they should live for ever in your remembrance. That sweet susceptibility of soul which is cultivated by these affectionate recollections, is the very soil in which virtue delights to spring. Forgive me, if I sometimes assume the character of a Mentor. I would not be so grave, if the love I bear you could dispense with less.

The breast of my Rinaldo swells with a thousand virtuous sentiments. I am conscious of this, and I will not disgrace the confidence I ought to place in you. But your friend cannot but be also sensible, that you are full of the ardour of youth, that you are generous and unsuspecting, and that the happy gaiety of your disposition sometimes engages you with associates, that would abuse your confidence and betray your honour.

Remember, my dear lord, that you have the reputation of a long list of ancestors to sustain. Your house has been the support of the throne, and the boast of Italy. You are not placed in an obscure station, where little would be expected from you, and little would be the disappointment, though you should act in an imprudent or a vicious manner. The antiquity of your house fixes the eyes of your countrymen upon you. Your accession at so early a period to its honours and its emoluments, renders your situation particularly critical.

But if your situation be critical, you have also many advantages, to balance the temptations you may be called to encounter. Heaven has blessed you with an understanding solid, judicious, and penetrating. You cannot long be made the dupe of artifice, you are not to be misled by the sophistry of vice. But you have received from the hands of the munificent creator a much more valuable gift than even this, a manly and a generous mind. I have been witness to many such benevolent acts of my Rinaldo as have made my fond heart overflow with rapture. I have traced his goodness to its hiding place. I have discovered instances of his tenderness and charity, that were intended to be invisible to every human eye.

I am fully satisfied that the marquis of Pescara can never rank among the votaries of vice and folly... Continue reading book >>




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