No, my dear Viscount, I do not at all repent the part I have taken, nor do I for one moment regret the pleasures of Paris, or the intrigues of the Court! If you knew with what an eye we consider these things at this distance, and how trifling and frivolous they appear, when they are coolly considered, you would the more readily believe me. I am however far from thinking that happiness consists only in solitude. It is certainly incompatible with vice and wickedness. But, otherwise, it is derived from various contrary causes. Wisdom and enthusiasm both equally serve to procure it; and reason and virtue will always maintain a right to create it, in every place and situation; in the midst of the tumult of Courts, as well in a cloyster, or a desart. And old people, men of the world, or those retired from it, may, by being just and good, enjoy that desired comfort, which the designing wicked man can never know! Believe me, my friend, our passions can never procure it for us. I have felt their influence, have known all the illusions of love; but in this tumultuous state the soul is agitated above its powers, and seems rather to be exhausted than satisfied, by what it experiences. These delights and transports, which almost deprive us of our reason, undoubtedly form a situation too active and violent for our weak minds; and become painful to us by their excess.
If you had not told me, my dear Viscount, a thousand times, that you had spent your life in studying different opinions, without ever adopting one, I should have been convinced of it by your last letter. You shew me in that all the advantages you have received from a good education; but you evidently prove, that you have not sufficiently reflected or meditated on that important subject, since, often praising my intentions and plans, you end all on a sudden with asking me this question: ‘Do you really think that education can extirpate our vices, or imbue us with virtues; and that it is of any use to us?’ I have certainly given testimony that I think so, by the sacrifices I have made in order to educate my children.