As Lady Mary advanced in the sixties of her life, she looked upon the world with the eyes of a vast experience, and found it more sad than she had thought it in youth or middle age. Vanitas vanitatum was the text of many a homily that she delivered, and a certain sadness replaced the sense of malice that had once possessed her. Once more than aggressive, now she had had bestowed upon her in some degree that gift of understanding that engenders sympathy. As she grew older she grew more wise, and was anxious to impart her wisdom, especially to her daughter, for her benefit or for that of her daughter’s children.
“How important is the charge of youth! and how useless all the advantages of nature and fortune without a well-turned mind! I have lately heard of a very shining instance of this truth, from two gentlemen (very deserving ones they seem to be) who have had the curiosity to travel into Moscovy, and now return to England with Mr. Archer. I inquired after my old acquaintance Sir Charles [Hanbury] Williams, who I hear is much broken, both in spirits and constitution. How happy that man might have been, if there had been added to his natural and acquired endowments a dash of morality! If he had known how to distinguish between false and true felicity; and, instead of seeking to increase an estate already too large, and hunting after pleasures that have made him rotten and ridiculous, he had bounded his desires of wealth, and follow the dictates of his conscience. His servile ambition has gained him two yards of red ribbon, and an exile into a miserable country, where there is no society and so little taste, that I believe he suffers under a dearth of flatterers. This is said for the use of your growing sons, whom I hope no golden temptations will induce to marry women they cannot love, or comply with measures they do not approve. All the happiness this world can afford is more within reach than is generally supposed. Whoever seeks pleasure will