Sunday, July 06, 2014



Charlotte Forten Grimké (1837-1914), Journals, ed. Brenda Stevenson (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), pp. 315-316 (June 15, 1858):
Have been under-going a thorough self-examination. The result is a mingled feeling of sorrow, shame and self-contempt. Have realized more deeply and bitterly than ever in my life my own ignorance and folly. Not only am I without the gifts of Nature, wit, beauty and talent; without the accomplishments which nearly every one of my age, whom I know, possesses; but I am not even intelligent. And for this there is not the shadow of an excuse. Have had many advantages of late years; and it is entirely owing to my own want of energy, perseverance and application, that I have not improved them. It grieves me deeply to think of this. I have read an immense quantity, and it has all amounted to nothing, because I have been too indolent and foolish to take the trouble of reflecting. Have wasted more time than I dare think of, in idle day-dreams, one of which was, how much I should know and do before I was twenty-one. And here I am nearly twenty-one, and only a wasted life to look back upon.—Add to intellectual defects a disposition whose despondency and fretfulness have constantly led me to look on the dark side of things, and effectually prevented me from contributing to the happiness of others; whose contrariness has often induced me to do those things which I ought not to have done, and to leave undone those which I ought to have done, and wanted to do,—and we have as dismal a picture as one could look upon; and yet hardly dismal enough to be faithful. Of course, I want to try to reform. But how to begin! Hav'nt the least spark of order or method in my composition, and fear I'm wholly incapable of forming any regular plan of improvement. Wish I had some of the superabundant energy and perseverance which some whom I know possess, just to enable me to keep the good resolutions which are so easily made and so very easily broken.

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