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Title: The Boarding School; Lessons of a Preceptress to Her Pupils

Author: Hannah Webster Foster

Release date: September 16, 2017 [eBook #55558]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Richard Tonsing and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This book was
produced from images made available by the HathiTrust
Digital Library.)


Transcriber's Note:

The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.


Information, Instruction and Advice,

Press of Putnam & Hunt.



To the Young Ladies of America, the following sheets are affectionately inscribed.

Convinced of the many advantages of a good education, and the importance of improving those advantages; or of counterbalancing the want of them by exerting the mental powers which nature has bestowed; sensible, too, that the foundation of a useful and happy life must be laid in youth, and that much depends on the early infusion of virtuous principles into the docile mind, the author has employed a part of her leisure hours in collecting and arranging her ideas on the subject of female deportment.

How far she has succeeded in her design, the voice of a candid public will pronounce.



On the delightful margin of the Merrimac, in one of the most pleasant and beautiful situations, which that fertile and healthful part of America affords, lived Mrs. Williams, the virtuous relict of a respectable clergyman.

She had two daughters, lovely and promising as ever parent could boast.

Mrs. Williams’ circumstances were easy. She possessed a little patrimony, to which she retired, after her husband’s decease; but a desire of preserving this for her children, and a wish to promote their advantage and enlarge their society, induced her to open a Boarding School.

As she had an eye, no less to the social pleasure, than to the pecuniary profit of the undertaking, she admitted only seven, at a time, to the privilege of her tuition.

These were all young ladies, who had previously received the first rudiments of learning, and been initiated into the polite accomplishments, which embellish virtue and soften the cares of human life. They had generally 6lived in the metropolis, and had acquired the graces of a fashionable deportment; but they possessed different tempers and dispositions, which had been variously, and, in some respects, erroneously managed.

To cultivate the expanding flowers, and to prune the juvenile eccentricities, which were disseminated among these tender plants; or, to speak without a figure, to extend and purify their ideas, to elevate and refine their affections, to govern and direct their passions, required an eye, watchful, and a hand, skilful as those of the judicious Mrs. Williams.

While her judgment and prudence aided the useful acquisitions of the mind, a sprightly fancy and a cheerful disposition, regulated by experience and discretion, qualified her to enter, at once, with becoming dignity and condescending ease, into all their concerns; to participate their pleasures; while, with candor and mildness, she reproved their errors, detected their follies, and facilitated their amendment.

As the young ladies had finished their school education, before Mrs. Williams received them to her mansion, her instructions were more especially designed to polish the mental part, to call forth the dormant virtues, to unite and arrange the charms of person and mind, to inspire a due sense of decorum and propriety, and to instil such principles of piety, morality, benevolence, prudence and economy, as might be useful through life.

7Their time was, accordingly, disposed in a manner most conducive to the attainment of these objects. Every part of it was employed to some valuable purpose; “for idleness,” Mrs. Williams observed, “is the rust of the mind.”

Whatever tended to enlarge, inform, improve, or amuse, she supposed worthy their attention.

She particularly endeavored to domesticate them; to turn their thoughts to the beneficial and necessary qualifications of private life; often inculcating, that

“Nothing lovelier can be found in woman
Than to study household good;”

and laboring to convince them of the utter insignificance and uselessness of that part of the sex, who are

“Bred only and completed to the taste
Of lustful appetence; to sing, to dance,
To dress, and troll the tongue, and roll the eye.”

Early rising she recommended, both by precept and example. This, she said, would not only promote their health, but render them mistresses of many hours, which must otherwise be lost in enervating sloth and inaction. “And should we,” continued she, “who have so much cause for exertion, thus sacrifice the best part of our time?”

“Falsely luxurious, will not man awake,
And, starting from the bed of sloth, enjoy
The cool, the fragrant, and the silent hour,
To meditation due, and sacred song?
8And is there aught in sleep can charm the wise?
To lie in dead oblivion, losing half
The fleeting moments of too short a life?
Total extinction of th’ enlighten’d soul!
Or else to feverish vanity alive,
Wilder’d and tossing through distemper’d dreams?
Who would in such a gloomy state remain,
Longer than nature craves; when every muse,
And every blooming pleasure wait without,
To bless the wildly devious morning walk?”

Another laudable practice of Mrs. Williams, was perfect regularity in the government of her pupils, and in the arrangement of their daily exercises. “When,” said she, “we observe the order of the natural world, and admire the consistency and harmony of every part, we may hence derive a lesson, for the regulation of our conduct, in the sphere assigned to us.”

Pursuant to this plan of operation, the young ladies arose at five; from which they had two hours at their own disposal, till the bell summoned them at seven, to the hall, where, the ceremonies of the morning salutation over, they breakfasted together; their repast being seasoned with the unrestrained effusions of good humor and sociability. On these occasions, Mrs. Williams suspended the authority of the matron, that, by accustoming her pupils to familiarity in her presence, they might be free from restraint; and, feeling perfectly easy and unawed, appear in their genuine characters. By this means she had an opportunity of observing any indecorum of behavior, or wrong bias; which she kept in mind, till a 9proper time to mention, and remonstrate against it; a method, the salutary effects of which were visible in the daily improvement of her pupils.

The breakfast table removed, each took her needle-work, except one, who read some amusing and instructive book, for the benefit and entertainment of the rest. The subject was selected by Mrs. Williams, who conferred the reading upon them in rotation.

At twelve o’clock, they were dismissed till one, when dinner again called them together, which was conducted in the same manner as the morning repast.

Having resumed their occupations, the reader of the day produced some piece of her own composition, either in prose, or verse, according to her inclination, as a specimen of her genius and improvement. This being submitted to Mrs. Williams’ inspection, and the candid perusal and criticism of her companions; and the subject canvassed with great freedom of opinion, they withdrew from the tasks of the day to seek that relaxation and amusement, which each preferred. No innocent gratification was denied them. The sprightly dance, the sentimental song, and indeed every species of pastime, consistent with the decorum of the sex, was encouraged, as tending to health, cheerfulness, and alacrity.

In these pleasing pursuits and enjoyments, the present class of happy companions had 10nearly completed the term allotted them by their parents, and were soon to leave the peaceful shades in which they delighted, when being assembled on the Monday morning of their last week, their revered Preceptress thus accosted them:

“As the period is approaching, my dear pupils, when I must resign your society, and quit the important charge of instructer and friend, which I have sustained with so much pleasure, and, I trust, with some degree of fidelity, I shall sum up the counsels, admonitions, and advice, which I have frequently inculcated, and endeavor to impress them on your minds, as my valedictory address. For this purpose, during this last week of your residence with me, I shall dispense with your usual exercises, and substitute a collection of my own sentiments, enforced by the pathos of the occasion.

“Your docility, and cheerful diligence in attending to my instructions; your modest, affectionate, and respectful behavior, together with the laudable progress you have made in every branch, which you have pursued, have well rewarded my care, and engaged my approbation and love. To me, therefore, a separation will be painful. To you the period is important. It is a period, which, while it relieves you from the confinement of scholastic rules, introduces you to new scenes of cares, of pleasures, of trials, and of temptations, which will call for the exercise of every virtue, 11and afford opportunity for improving the endowments, both natural and acquired, which you possess. Think not then, that your emancipation from schools, gives you liberty to neglect the advantages which you have received from them. The obligations under which you are laid to your parents for the education they have given you, require a diligent improvement of every talent committed to your trust.

“Of needle-work you are complete mistresses, from the most delicate and highly finished, to the most ordinary, though perhaps not less useful, economy of mending and making the coarser garments of family use. Many, I am aware, suppose this last a species of learning, which is beneath the attention of a lady: but Clara will tell you how valuable it has proved to her; and how valuable it may prove to you.

“Nursed in the lap of affluence, and accustomed to unbounded expense, Clara little thought, at your age, that she should ever depend on her needle for the livelihood and decent appearance of a rising family. A discreet and prudent mother early inculcated the lessons of industry and economy, which she now practices; and taught her that the knowledge could be of no disservice, though she never had occasion for it. She married with the brightest prospects. But a series of unavoidable disasters, such as no human wisdom could foresee or prevent, reduced her to narrow circumstances; and, to complete her misfortune, 12she was left a widow with four small children. Her parents were in the grave; her patrimony was gone! In this exigence what was her resource? Not fruitless lamentations, and unavailing complaints. She immediately summoned her resolution; and by the use of her needle has ever since supported herself and family with decency, and been highly respected for her prudent exertions and exemplary industry. Directly the reverse of this amiable character is that of Belinda. She was educated in the same way with Clara; the same schools gave them tuition; and similar prospects awaited their entrance into life. Calamities attended the progress of each; but different as their tempers and dispositions was their conduct under them. The falling fortunes of Clara were awhile suspended by her discretion and frugality; while the ruin of Belinda was hastened by her extravagance, dissipation, and idleness. View them, now, in their reduced state! Neatness, cheerfulness, and activity preside in the dwelling of Clara; negligence, peevishness, and sloth are legibly stamped on that of Belinda. The ear is pained by her complaints of poverty; the eye is disgusted by her slatternly appearance, and ostentatious display of the tattered remnants of finery, which bespeak the pride and indolence of their owner; who will neither convert them into more comfortable garments, nor, by repairing, render them becoming.

“I hope, however, that occasions like these 13may never call for your exertions. But there may be cases, when, to know the use of your needles will answer important purposes, even in an exalted station, and amidst the splendor of affluence and plenty.

“Matilda dignified a princely fortune by the exercise of every virtue which can adorn a lady. Among these, charity shone conspicuous. Her maid said to her, one day, Madam, would you have me lay aside these cast-clothes for some poor person? Yes, replied Matilda; but sit down, and mend them first. Don’t you see they need it? Why, Madam, rejoined the girl, is it not enough for you to give them away? I should think the least they can do is to mend them for themselves! In that case, said Matilda, my bounty would be greatly diminished. People, who need charity have not the necessary materials for putting such articles into repair; and should I furnish them, perhaps they have never been taught to use their needles. No more have I, returned the maid. Have you not? said Matilda. Well then, sit down, and I will direct your ingenuity upon these clothes. By this mean you may learn a very useful lesson, I assure you; a lesson, which by practising for yourself, will enable you to lay up part of your wages against the time when sickness or old age shall take you from your labors.

“Such examples of condescension and benevolence to inferiors, are of more real and lasting use than pounds prodigally bestowed.

14“Do you seek higher testimonies of the honor and utility of this employment? You may collect many from the histories which you have read during the last year. Among the Romans, and several other nations of antiquity, a scarf, wrought by the needle of a favorite fair, was received as an honorable token of respect, and improved as an invincible stimulus to heroic deeds. Ladies of the first rank and station considered it as no derogation from the dignity or delicacy of their character, to make their own apparel, and that of their families. The virtuous Panthea, when her husband was going to fight in the cause of Cyrus, her generous deliverer, magnificently adorned his person, and decorated his armor with her own needle-work.

“We ought never to be idle. No moment should be unoccupied. Some employment, salutary, either to body or mind, or both, should be constantly pursued; and the needle is always at hand to supply the want of other avocations. The listless vacuity, which some young ladies indulge, renders them extremely unhappy, though they are insensible of the cause and seek to beguile the time in frivolous amusements.

“A still more endearing motive remains to be suggested; and that is the pleasure, which your accomplishments in this ornamental and useful art must afford your parents; and the pain, which your neglect of it hereafter must occasion them.

15“But your faithful and assiduous improvement of time, since you have been with me, is a sure pledge of your perseverance in the path of duty, and your progress in every virtue. I trust, therefore, that what I have said will be engraved on your memories; and that some useful ideas will be selected by each of you for your future advantage.

“Your minds are a good soil; and may I not flatter myself, that the seeds of instruction which I have sown, will spring up, and yield fruit abundantly?’”

With one voice, they most affectionately assured Mrs. Williams, that it should be their daily study to profit by her lessons; and withdrew.

Monday, P. M.


Being assembled, this afternoon, Mrs. Williams thus resumed her discourse.

“Reading is so common a part of education, that the value of it is not duly estimated; nor the manner of performing it, sufficiently attended to. It is not the mere propriety of pronunciation, accent, and cadence, which constitutes good reading. You must enter into 16the spirit of the subject, and feel interested in the matter, before you can profit by the exercise.

“But you are so well acquainted with the manner of reading, that the quality of books most worthy of your perusal is the only point on which I need to enlarge.

“Romances, the taste of former times, are now so far out of vogue, that it is hardly necessary to warn you against them. They exhibit the spirit of chivalry, knight-errantry, and extravagant folly, which prevailed in the age they depict. But they are not interesting; nor can they be pleasing to the correct taste and refined delicacy of the present day.

“Novels, are the favorite and the most dangerous kind of reading, now adopted by the generality of young ladies. I say dangerous, because the influence, which, with very few exceptions, they must have upon the passions of youth, bears an unfavorable aspect on their purity and virtue. The style in which they are written is commonly captivating; and the luxuriance of the descriptions with which they abound, extremely agreeable to the sprightly fancy, and high expectations of the inexperienced and unreflecting. Their romantic pictures of love, beauty, and magnificence, fill the imagination with ideas which lead to impure desires, a vanity of exterior charms, and a fondness for show and dissipation, by no means consistent with that simplicity, modesty, and chastity, which should be the constant inmates 17of the female breast. They often pervert the judgment, mislead the affections, and blind the understanding.

“A melancholy example of this sort is exhibited in Juliana. Juliana was the only daughter of a wealthy merchant, who grudged no expense which could please or embellish his darling child. He, however, possessed neither leisure nor abilities ‘to teach the young idea how to shoot;’ but thought it sufficient that he gave her every advantage, which could be derived from the various schools, to which she was consigned. She had a brilliant fancy, and a fondness for books, which, properly directed, might have proved of great use to her. But, having no better principles instilled into her mind, she indulged herself in the unlimited reading of novels, and every light publication which a circulating library could furnish.

“Hence her imagination took wing, and carried her far above the scenes of common life. The excessive refinement of her mind admitted no ordinary amusements or avocations. Plain truth from her own sex was an insult; and from the other, nothing less than adoration would satisfy her unbounded vanity. Her beauty (of which she really had a considerable share) and the large fortune which she would probably inherit, gained her many admirers; some of whom were men of unquestionable merit. But a sober, rational courtship could not answer her ideas of love and 18gallantry. The swain, who would not die for her, she deemed unworthy of notice.

“Her father strongly recommended a gentleman, as well calculated, in his opinion, to make her happy, and as having his entire approbation; but she rejected him with disdain, though she could produce no one objection against his person, or character.

“Her father acquiesced; expressing, however, his regret at the mistaken notions she had imbibed; and warning her most pathetically against the indulgence of so romantic a disposition; yet all in vain. He was considered as an illiterate plodder after wealth, which she had a right to bestow as she pleased.

“At last the lovely youth whom she had so long contemplated, made his appearance. A military captain entered the town on the recruiting service. Young, handsome, easy, bold and assuming; with all the bon ton of the coxcomb, and all the insolence of the novice. He saw Juliana; he sacrificed to her charms, and conquered. She could not resist the allurements of his gallantry. His affectation of dying love was received with apparent pleasure; while art and duplicity took advantage of her weakness, to precipitate her into engagements to pity and relieve him. Her friends saw her danger, and warmly remonstrated against her imprudent conduct, in receiving the addresses of a man, destitute of property to support her, and void of every kind of personal merit. Her father entreated 19and implored the rejection of her lover, till, finding every other method vain, he at length resolutely forbade him the house, and his daughter’s company. This was viewed as persecution; and, consistently with her sentiments of adventurous love, a clandestine amour was commenced. Her father surprised them together; and, enraged at their disgraceful intrigue, seized the captain, and endeavored to turn him out of doors. He violently resented this ungentlemanlike treatment, as he termed it, and defended himself with his sword. The old gentleman received a slight wound in the scuffle; but accomplished his purpose. Juliana was terrified at this rencounter, and, dreading her father’s displeasure, ran out with her paramour. His lodgings were near, and thither, favored by the darkness of the night, he instantly led her. She involuntarily followed him, without considering the impropriety of her conduct. Here he drew his sword, and, throwing himself at her feet, professed his despair, and declared himself resolved to put an immediate end to his life. She endeavored to reason him into calmness; but in vain. He was sensible, that, if he now relinquished her to her father, he should lose her forever. His apparent agony overcame her, and she gave him her hand.

“Her father was almost distracted at her elopement. He traced her steps, and, following her to the house, condescended to soothe her with parental kindness; and promised her 20pardon and continued affection, if she would renounce her worthless lover, and return. She confessed it was too late; that she was his wife.

“Petrified with astonishment, he looked at her, for some time, with speechless grief; and, showing his arm, bound up with the wound he had received, left her with every token of anguish and indignation!

“When the fever of passion had abated, a returning sense of duty in Juliana, and, in the captain, the fear of losing the property which he sought, induced them to seek a reconciliation, and make submissive efforts to obtain it. But her father was too highly incensed to grant it to him, on any terms; or to her, on any other than the utter rejection of her unworthy companion. These terms were not complied with.

“Sorrow and vexation preyed so deeply upon the mind of this afflicted parent, that they brought on a rapid decline; and he died without again seeing his undutiful and ruined daughter. His estate was divided between Juliana and her four brothers. Her portion was received by her husband, and soon spent in dissipation and excess. Having rioted on the fortune of his wife, while she often pined at home for want of the common necessaries of life, he left her, to join his regiment, promising remittances from time to time, for her support. This promise, however, was but ill performed; and she now feels the dreadful effects 21of her folly, in the accumulated ills of poverty and neglect. Yet she still cherishes the most passionate fondness for what has proved her bane. A friend called to see her, not long since, and found her the emblem of wretchedness and sloth. Her emaciated form, her squalid appearance, the disorder of her house, and her tattered raiment, bespoke the shameful negligence of the owner. Yet she was sitting with a novel in her hand, over which she had apparently been weeping. She expatiated largely on the tale it contained, while her children, who exhibited a picture of real woe, engaged not her attention. Her friend enquired how she could be thus interested and distressed by mere fiction, while every thing about her was calculated to arouse the keenest feelings of her soul! She coolly replied, I have fortitude sufficient to support my own calamity, but I must sympathize with the heroine of adversity. I have not lost my sensibility with my fortune. My only luxury is now imagination! How ill-timed, and how improperly exerted, was this kind of sensibility, in Juliana! Where, and what was her sensibility, when she disobeyed an indulgent parent, sacrificed her reputation, and threw herself into the arms of a worthless man for protection—from what? from the kindness and love of her best friends!

“But I would not be understood to condemn all novels indiscriminately; though great prudence is necessary to make a useful selection. 22Some of them are fraught with sentiment; convey lessons for moral improvement; and exhibit striking pictures of virtue rewarded; and of vice, folly, and indiscretion punished; which may prove encouragements to imitate, or warnings to avoid similar practices. I shall not descend to particulars. Those, which are sanctioned by the general voice of delicacy and refinement, may be allowed a reading; yet none should engross your minds, to the neglect of more important objects; nor be suffered to monopolize too large a portion of your time.

“Novels are a kind of light reading, on which the imagination feasts, while the more substantial food which is requisite to the nourishment of the understanding, is either untasted or undigested. Imagination is a sportive faculty, which should be curbed by the reins of prudence and judgment. Its sallies are delightful in youth, provided they be not too excursive.

“Poetry is, by some, ranked with novels; but I think injudiciously. Good poetry is certainly a sublime source of entertainment and instruction. What music is to the ear, poetry is to the heart. There must, indeed, be a natural taste for it, before it can be highly relished or enjoyed; and this taste, whereever it exists, should be cultivated. I know of no kind of reading more richly formed for the mental repast of a liberal and polished young lady, than the poetical productions of 23true genius. The trifling and indelicate cantos of ordinary witlings, and every day poetasters, are unworthy your attention. But the species of poetry which I now recommend, is peculiarly adapted to soften the passions, excite sympathy, and meliorate the affections. It soothes the jarring cares of life, and, pervading the secret recesses of the soul, serves to rouse and animate its dormant powers.

“Many essays, written by monitors of both sexes, are extant, which you may find profitable and pleasing, both in youth and more advanced age. Among the foremost of these, I mention Mrs. Chapone’s letters to her niece, which contain a valuable treasure of information and advice.

“But among your hours devoted to reading, history must not be without a place. Here an extensive field of ages and generations, which have gone before you, is opened to your view. Here your curiosity may be gratified by a retrospection of events, which, by conducting your thoughts to remotest climes and periods, interests and enlarges the mind. Here the various revolutions, the rise, fall, and dismemberment of ancient kingdoms and states may be traced to the different springs of action, in which they originated. Hence you may gain a competent acquaintance with human nature in all its modifications, from the most rude and barbarous, to the most civilized and polished stages of society. This is a species of knowledge, 24which will not only be of constant use to you, in the government of your own temper and manners, but highly ornamental in your intercourse with the polite and learned world.

“But let your reading of every description be regular and methodical. Never confuse your minds by a variety of subjects at once. When you turn your attention to any one in particular, finish, and lay that aside, before you take up another. Let what you read be well understood at the time, and well digested afterwards. Possess yourselves, at least, of the leading traits: otherwise your labor will be totally lost. If convenient, always recapitulate what you have been perusing, and annex to it your own sentiments and remarks, to some friend. If you have no friend at hand, who will be disposed to hear, recollect, and run it over in your own thoughts. This will be a great assistance to memory. But whatever be the kind of reading which you undertake, select such authors as good judges esteem the best, upon the subject. Have a particular regard to the morality and delicacy of the books you peruse.

“When you read for mere amusement, (which should seldom happen) be careful not to corrupt and vitiate your taste by frothy and illiberal performances, which will degrade the dignity and sully the purity of your minds. That time is very greatly misspent, which is bestowed in reading what can yield no instruction. Not a moment’s attention should be 25given to books which afford not some degree of improvement. Always have an eye, therefore, to profit, as well as to pleasure. Remember that youth is the seed-time of life. You are now to cultivate that knowledge, which future years must ripen. Free from those domestic cares, which will engross and occupy your minds, when placed at the head of families, a most inestimable price is now put into your hands to get wisdom. Now you may learn; then you must practice.

“Now, therefore, lay up in store some provision for every exigence, some embellishment for every station.

“Look upon Elvira. Her acquirements in a single state have qualified her for a shining pattern of matronal duties. Her husband’s business abroad prevents him from attending to domestic avocations; nor need he be anxious respecting the management of his household affairs. Elvira is present to every occasion. The superintendence of her family, and the education of her children is her delight. Capable of instructing them in every needful branch of science, and of furnishing them with every requisite endowment, she is, at once, their guide, their example, and their friend. When her husband returns from the cares and fatigues of business, with what becoming ease and cheerfulness does she dissipate the anxiety which sometimes hangs upon his brow, and exhilarate his spirits by the enlivening charms of rational and refined conversation! 26In the entertainment of their friends, how distinguished a part she sustains! Her powers of mind have been so happily improved, that she is able to discuss every subject with ease and propriety. To an enlarged understanding and a cultivated taste, to an extensive knowledge of the world and an acquaintance with polite literature, she superadds those amiable virtues, which give society its highest relish; while the elegance of her manners and the modesty of her deportment are a proof of the greatness of her mind, and render her esteemed, beloved, and respected by all who know her.

“But I flatter myself that each of you, my dear pupils, will be an Elvira. Then will you do justice to the superior advantages of your education; be the delight of your friends, and the ornaments of your country.

“Religious subjects must, by no means, be neglected in the course of your reading. Let the BIBLE be the rule of your faith and practice. If you wish an explanation of any particular passages, seek it from some judicious and pious friend, or in the writings of some judicious and learned commentator. But always attend chiefly to those points which serve to mend the heart, rather than to those knotty, metaphysical disquisitions, which tend only to perplex the understanding, and involve the inquirer in such labyrinths of abstrusity, as are above human comprehension, and beyond human concern. The essential doctrines 27and precepts of the gospel are level to every capacity; and upon a life and conversation governed by these, our hopes, both of present peace and future glory, must be founded. “He hath shewed thee what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.”

Tuesday, A. M.


The young ladies being seated, this morning, their preceptress addressed them as follows.

“Writing is productive both of pleasure and improvement. It is a source of entertainment which enlarges the mental powers more, perhaps, than any other. The mind is obliged to exertion for materials to supply the pen. Hence it collects new stores of knowledge, and is enriched by its own labors. It imperceptibly treasures up the ideas, which the hand impresses. An opportunity is furnished of reviewing our sentiments before they are exposed; and we have the privilege of correcting or expunging such as are erroneous. For this purpose, you will find it a 28good method to collect and write your thoughts upon any subject that occurs; for by repeatedly arranging and revising your expressions and opinions, you may daily improve them, and learn to think and reason properly on every occasion. By this mean you may likewise provide yourselves with a fund of matter for future use, which, without this assistance, the memory would not retain. It will be of great service to note down in your commonplace book such particulars as you may judge worth remembering, with your own observations upon them. This will be a kind of amusement which will exercise your thinking powers at the time, and by recurring to it afterwards, it may afford you many useful hints.

“The frequent use of the pen is calculated to refine and enlarge your understandings. Have you any talent at composition? it will be increased by cultivation.

“Neglect no opportunity, therefore, which your leisure affords, of delighting your friends, and accomplishing yourselves by the exercise of your genius in this way.

“Thrice blessed are we, the happy daughters of this land of liberty, where the female mind is unshackled by the restraints of tyrannical custom, which in many other regions confines the exertions of genius to the usurped powers of lordly man! Here virtue, merit, and abilities are properly estimated under whatever form they appear. Here the widely extended fields of literature court attention; 29and the American fair are invited to cull the flowers, and cultivate the expanding laurel.

“But the species of writing, which is open to every capacity, and ornamental to every station, is the epistolary. This, between particular friends, is highly agreeable and interesting. It is a method of interchanging sentiments, and of enjoying intercourse with those from whom you are far removed, which is a happy substitute for personal conversation. In a correspondence of this sort, all affectation, formality, and bombast should be laid aside.

“Ease, frankness, simplicity, and sincerity should be its leading traits. Yet let not your letters be composed of mere sounding terms, and verbose egotism; but intermix sentiment with expression, in such a manner as may be improving as well as pleasing. Letters of friendship should conduce no less to the advantage than entertainment of the person addressed; and mere cursory letters, of general acquaintance, must, at least, be written with propriety and accuracy. The formation of the characters, the spelling, the punctuation, as well as the style and sense, must be attended to.

“Never omit noticing the receipt of letters, unless you mean to affront the writers. Not to answer a letter, without being able to assign some special reason for the neglect is equally unpardonable as to keep silence when conversation is addressed to you in person.

30“By habituating yourselves to writing, what may, at first, appear a task, will become extremely pleasant. Refuse not, then, to improve this part of your education, especially by your frequent and dutifully affectionate epistles to your parents, when absent from them. Express your gratitude for their care, and convince them it has not been lost upon you.

“Always employ your pens upon something useful and refined. Let no light or loose compositions occupy your time and thoughts; but remember that what you utter in this way is in some measure the picture of your hearts. Virtue forbid, that this favorite employment should be disgraced by impurity, indelicacy, or the communication of vicious and ignoble sentiments!

“One of the sages of antiquity being asked why he was so long in writing his opinion, replied, ‘I am writing for futurity.’

“Your characters during life, and even when you shall sleep in the dust, may rest on the efforts of your pens. Beware then how you employ them. Let not the merit of your attainments in this noble art be degraded by improper subjects for its exercise. Suffer not the expectation of secresy to induce you to indulge your pens upon subjects, which you would blush to have exposed. In this way your characters may be injured, and your happiness destroyed.

“Celia and Cecilia were companions at a 31boarding school. When separated, they commenced an epistolary correspondence, on which each valued herself. Their former intimacy which they termed friendship, prompted them to write with unlimited confidence; and, without the least reserve, to reveal every dictate of levity and thoughtless folly. They imagined themselves perfectly secure from the censure of the critic. Their education had not taught them, that a virtuous mind should shrink even from ideal indelicacy. Celia was courted by Silvander, a young man of whom she was passionately fond; but she had art and resolution enough to conceal her letters from his inspection, though he often solicited a communication of her correspondence. At length he became impatient for a perusal of letters which appeared so pleasing and interesting to the parties, and suspicious that some particular cause directed their privacy. Influenced by these motives, Silvander bribed a market-boy, who came from the village where Cecilia lived, and always conveyed the letters to and from her, to give them first into his hand. How astonished was he to find the lightness of mind exemplified in them! Purity of sentiment, delicacy of thought, and refinement of taste were entirely laid aside; and illiberal wit, frothy jests, double entendres, and ridiculous love-tales were substituted in their place. His name was used with so much freedom, and every circumstance relative to his intercourse, and proposed connexion with 32Celia, was bandied with such familiarity, that he was mortified, disgusted, and chagrined, in the extreme. He had the policy, however, to conceal the discovery till he had copied a considerable number of Celia’s letters, leaving out whatever had reference to his own affairs. He then revenged himself by disclosing his knowledge to her, avowing his indignation at her weakness, duplicity and folly, and taking an immediate and final leave. Not content with this, he even circulated her letters among his acquaintance. This fixed the stamp of ignominy on the correspondents; and their names and characters were rendered as ridiculous as scandal and malicious wit could desire.

“Celia was almost distracted at the loss of her lover; but when she found the method he had taken to punish her indiscretion, and that her reputation was thus materially injured, she secluded herself, in a great measure, from society. Her sensibility received a wound which could never be healed; and she lived and died in melancholy, regret, and obscurity.

“However censurable the unjust and ungenerous conduct of Silvander may be deemed, yet no adequate excuse can be offered for the young ladies, who dishonored their pens and their talents by a most improper and unbecoming use of both.

“Next to writing, arithmetic usually claims attention. This is absolutely necessary in every department, and in every stage of life

33Even in youth, the proper arrangement of your expenses will conduce greatly to your advantage; and when placed at the head of families, it will be very friendly to the order and economy of your domestic affairs. But, leaving your matronal conduct to future admonition, many benefits result from keeping regular accounts in a single state. Your parents allow you a certain sum for your own private use. Fashion and folly are always busy in creating innumerable imaginary wants, which must exceed your finances, if you do not attend to an exact adjustment of your expenditures. For this purpose, always calculate your immediate and most necessary demands. Let these be first supplied, and then if your funds be not exhausted, more superfluous ones may occupy your thoughts. There is one claim, however, which must not be neglected, and that is CHARITY. You will, therefore, manage your expenses in such a manner as to reserve some portion of your income for the necessitous. Should you think your allowance insufficient to admit the children of want to a share, let your benevolence plead for the retrenchment of some trifling article which you may dispense with, without much inconvenience; and the exquisite pleasure resulting from the bestowment, will more than counterbalance the sacrifice. In these, and many other particulars, a knowledge of arithmetic will enable you to conduct the affairs of youth with ease, advantage, and usefulness. 34And, perhaps, as you advance in years, and are called to fill more important stations, you may find it of still greater utility.

“The father of Lucinda was in easy circumstances, while he could perform the duties and enjoy the profits of a lucrative business. He was the affectionate parent of a numerous family, to whose education and improvement he attended with unwearied diligence and pleasure; till repeated losses in trade, and disappointments in his worldly expectations embarrassed his affairs, depressed his spirits, and impaired his health. In the midst of these difficulties, his amiable and beloved wife was removed by death. This trial was greater than he could support. He sunk under the affliction, and lost his reason. Lucinda was the eldest of six children, the care of whom, with the melancholy task of attending and ministering to the necessities of her unhappy father, devolved on her. She looked upon the wo-fraught scene, and wept. Her heart was sinking under the weight of grief; and hope, the best soother of the unfortunate, had nearly abandoned her. She advised with her friends, who proposed to relieve the family by means of a subscription. Lucinda thanked them for their proffered kindness, and returned to her disconsolate habitation. She deliberated on the projected measure; which she considered must be slow, uncertain, and, at any rate, inadequate to their future exigences. She could not reconcile herself to the idea of 35her father’s depending on charity for subsistence. Yet what could be done? One resource only remained;—her own exertions. By these she flattered herself, that she might save the family from suffering want, and discharge the obligations she owed to her revered parent. Her education, by which, among other branches of learning, she had been well instructed in arithmetic, (that being her father’s favorite study) qualified her for this undertaking. She therefore devoted herself to the business without delay; examined her father’s accounts, collected whatever remained that was valuable; sold the superfluous moveables, and purchased a small stock for trade. All who knew her motives and merit frequented her shop, and encouraged her by their custom and kindness. By this mean, together with her judicious management, and engaging behavior, she increased her business to such a degree, as to support the family with ease and reputation.

“Her discreet and dutiful conduct to her father, soon restored him to his reason.

“When he found how prudently and affectionately Lucinda had exerted herself in his behalf, he exclaimed, ‘Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all!’

“He resumed his former business, and lived to see his children all well provided for, and happily settled around him.”

36Tuesday, P. M.


Her pupils having taken their places, Mrs. Williams proceeded.

“In music and dancing you have made such proficiency that your performances must be very pleasing to your friends, before whom you occasionally exhibit.

“As dancing is an accomplishment merely external, let not the vanity of excellence in it betray itself in an air of conscious superiority, when you shine at the ball, and perceive yourselves to have attracted the attention and applause of the gay assembly. But in the midst of hilarity and mirth, remember that modesty, diffidence, discretion, and humility are indispensable appendages of virtue and decency.

“Music is a talent which nature has bestowed, and which your application has considerably improved. It has a powerful influence over the heart; wonderfully soothes and humanizes the passions, and is a source of refined pleasure to a mind capable of tasting its charms.

“Never refuse gratifying your friends by the exertion of your abilities in performing, unless for some very special reason. Though I would not have you vain of your skill, and officiously forward to display it; yet the affectation 37of uncommon modesty, and ignorance, is truly ridiculous. To plead inability to exercise powers, which you are conscious of possessing, and for which you wish to be esteemed and honored by others, is false delicacy, and will never gain admission to the breast where that which is genuine resides. How perfectly absurd it is for a young lady, who is politely requested to entertain a company with her musical talents, to declare them so small that she is really ashamed to expose herself before such good judges; or that she has neglected playing, or singing, for some time, and cannot immediately revive her dormant skill; or that she has forgotten her tunes, or songs; or that she has a bad cold; (which none but herself perceives,) and is unable to sing; or that she is loath to begin this amusement, and must insist upon some other lady’s setting the example; which other lady has, in her turn, an equal number of excuses! Thus the time of the company is engrossed, and their pleasure suspended, till a long train of arguments, entreaties, and compliments are run through, and her vanity fully gratified by the most flattering and importunate solicitations.

“Then, elate with pride and self importance, she condescends to grant their request; not considering how far she has derogated from her own merit by the futile artifice she has employed; an artifice unworthy of an ingenuous mind, and disgraceful to any lady who has arrived to years of discretion.

38“Let us view this evasive manner of seeking compliments a little nearer. When a person is known to be mistress of this delightful art, what can be her motive for delaying the gratification of her friends by its exercise, and refusing a compliance with their wishes, till their patience is exhausted? I believe that excuses, in this case, are very seldom sincere. The youthful mind is not insensible to praise, nor indifferent to the means of obtaining it.

“Why then should it not be received and increased by a ready and obliging compliance? A desire to please is usually attended with success; and for what reason should the power and disposition be artfully concealed?

“Always preserve a frankness and sincerity in your actions and designs. These will add dignity to your condescensions, and gracefulness to your deportment.

“Rise superior to those little arts which bespeak the finesse of a childish folly, or a narrow mind. Do honor to this, as well as to every other part of your education, by acting conformably to the precepts which have been given you, the knowledge which you have acquired, and the opportunities with which you may be furnished for the purpose.

“Music and dancing, though polite and elegant accomplishments, are, perhaps, the most fascinating, and, of course, the most dangerous of any that fall under that description. When indulged to excess, beside engrossing much time which ought to be employed in the 39execution of more necessary and useful designs, they sometimes allure their fond votaries from that purity and rectitude which are the chief embellishments of the female character. They lay the mind open to many temptations, and, by nourishing a frivolous vanity, benumb the nobler powers both of reflection and action.

“Levitia was endowed, by the joint influence of nature and art, with these pleasing charms. Symmetry was perfected in her form; and her voice was melody itself. Her parents were not in affluent circumstances; yet their taste led them to distinguish those graces and talents in their daughter, which they injudiciously flattered themselves might, one day, raise her to affluence and fame. Hence they spared no pains nor expense, in their power to bestow, to assist her inclination and gratify her wishes. As she advanced in years, she assiduously cultivated and diligently improved those endowments which she had been erroneously encouraged, and even taught, to consider most valuable. To adorn her person, regulate her movements, and practise her music, was all her care. Nor had she a wish beyond the pleasures, which she fancied they could yield. Her mind resembled a garden, in which the useful plants were overrun and choked by noxious weeds. Here and there, a gaudy flower rears its brilliant head, and proudly dares to arrest the eye; while the delicate and useful lie buried and concealed in the surrounding waste!

40“Flattery was pleasing to her ear, in whatever form it was presented. The gay and licentious sought her society; and vanity with its attendant train of follies led her imagination far from the sphere of life which Providence had assigned her. Her parents saw their own mistake, and were alarmed at her’s: but, alas! too late were their endeavors to prevent the mischiefs which impended. They could not supply her unbounded wants; and therefore to gratify her ruling passion, she deemed means of her own invention indispensable. Among her admirers was a foreigner, who, failing of success in his own country, sought a subsistence in ours, from the stage. He knew Levitia’s talents. These might give her the palm of applause, and in his way of life, render her conspicuous. This plan he communicated to her, insidiously offering to become her guardian, and to put her under the protection of such friends as should defend her honor, and ensure her success. She was pleased with the project. Wholly unacquainted with the world, and unsuspicious of the subtle arts of the deluding libertine, she scrupled not his veracity, but listened to his insinuating declarations of love and friendship. She was deceived by the vanity of appearing where her fancied merit would meet with the encouragement and reward it deserved; and vainly imagining that her beauty might secure her elevation and affluence, she readily consented to the fatal experiment, 41eloped from her father’s house, and became a professed actress.

“Her parents were overwhelmed with grief and anxiety, at the discovery; but to no purpose were all their exertions to reclaim her. She had left them, no more to return; left them, too, with the heart-rending reflection, that they themselves had heedlessly contributed to her disgrace and ruin. But bitter indeed were the fruits of her disobedience and folly!

“She made her appearance on the stage. She sung and danced, for which she was caressed, flattered, and paid. A licentious mode of life quadrating with the levity of her heart, soon left her a prey to seduction. Her gaiety and beauty gained her many votaries, and she became a complete courtezan.

“In the midst of this career, her mother died of a broken heart, evidently occasioned by her undutiful and vicious conduct. A sense of her ingratitude to her parents, and her shameless manner of life struck her mind, not naturally unfeeling, with such force, as to throw her into a fever which undermined her constitution, deprived her of her beauty, ruined her voice, and left her without means of support. Her pretended lover, finding she could no longer be useful to him, perfidiously abandoned her to poverty and shame. She returned, like the prodigal, to her unhappy father, who received, but could not assist her. Her behavior, with its consequences in 42the death of her mother, had impaired his health, depressed his spirits, and rendered him incapable of providing for himself.

“She is now despised and avoided by all her former acquaintance, and must inevitably spend the remainder of her days in wretchedness.

“Let us turn from this disgusting picture, and behold its contrast in the amiable Florella. To beauty of person she superadds delicacy, sensibility, and every noble quality of the mind. Respectful to her superiors, affable, cheerful, and polite to her equals, and condescendingly kind to her inferiors, Florella is universally esteemed, beloved and admired. Of the pleasing accomplishments of music and dancing she is a consummate mistress. Yet she is superior to the vain arts of flattery, while the dignity of conscious virtue raises her far above the affectation of false modesty and diffidence. To please and oblige those friends who are interested in her happiness, and gratified by her performances, is her delight. Nor does she think it necessary, by feigned excuses, to delay the pleasure, which she is able to afford; but willingly enhances that pleasure by a ready and cheerful compliance. This she thinks the best return she can make for their kind attention. Though delighted with these amusements herself, she, nevertheless, considers them as amusements only; and assiduously cultivates the more solid branches of her education. These, she is 43wont to say, may render me useful and happy, when the voice of music shall be brought low, and when the sprightly limbs shall become languid and inactive.

“How happy her parents in her filial duty and affection! How rich the reward of their care and expense in contributing to her improvements! How happy Florella in their complacency and love, and in the consciousness of deserving them!

“She was, not long since, addressed by a gentleman, who was pleasing to her fancy; but, determined never to indulge a sentiment of partiality without the entire approbation of her parents, she referred him to their decision. For particular reasons, they disapproved of his suit. She acquiesced without reserve, and immediately dismissed him. Who would not rather be a resembler of Florella, than a vain, imprudent, and ruined Levitia?

“True, indeed, the acquirements and graces of Florella are not attainable by every one; but the virtues of discretion, modesty, and kindness are within the reach of the humblest sphere, and the most moderate abilities.”

44Wednesday, A. M.


“I shall now,” said Mrs. Williams, “endeavor to sketch out for you the plan of conduct, which I think will be most conducive to your honor and happiness while in a single state. Hitherto you have been under the direction of parents, guardians, and instructors, who have regulated your deportment, and labored to give you just ideas upon every subject and occasion. That period is now over. You are now launching into life; where you will think and act more for yourselves.

“The path of rectitude, my dear young friends, is narrow and intricate. Temptations lurk around to beguile your feet astray; and dangers which appear insurmountable will often arise to affright you from the ways of virtue.

“But remember that a crown of honor and happiness awaits the undeviating pursuit of truth and duty. Let religion be your guide, and discretion your handmaid. Thus attended, you will escape the snares of youth, and surmount the perplexing cares of more advanced age. At your entrance on the stage of action, the allurements of pleasure will spread innumerable charms to court your acceptance. Beware of their fascinating wiles; and whatever 45course you adopt, be sure it is such as will bear the test of examination and reflection. Let these be the criterion of all your pursuits and enjoyments. Make it an invariable practice to re-trace the actions and occurrences of the day, when you retire to rest; to account with your own hearts for the use and improvement of the past hours; and rectify whatever you find amiss, by greater vigilance and caution, in future; to avoid the errors into which you have fallen, and to discharge the duties incumbent upon you.

“To neglect this, will be a source of great inadvertencies and failings.

“To know yourselves, in every particular, must be your constant endeavor. This knowledge will lead you to propriety and consistency of action. But this knowledge cannot be obtained without a thorough and repeated inspection of your various passions, affections, and propensities. When obtained, however, it will prevent the ill effects of flattery, by which you will doubtless be endangered, as you advance into the scenes of fashionable life. It will enable you to distinguish flattery from that generous praise which is the effusion of a feeling heart, affected by the perception of real merit. A young lady, unskilled in the deceitful arts of a giddy world, is very apt to be misled by the adulation which is offered at the shrine of vanity. She is considered as a mark for the wit of every coxcomb, who wishes to display his gallantry.

46“Flattery is a dazzling meteor, which casts a delusive glare before the eye; and which seduces the imagination, perverts the judgment, and silences the dictates of sound reason. Flattery is, therefore, the poison and bane of the youthful mind. It renders the receiver blind to those defects which she ought to see and rectify, and proud of imaginary graces which she never yet possessed. Self-knowledge, as before observed, will facilitate the detection of this disguised adversary, by enabling you to investigate your real accomplishments and merits.

“That praise which is the result of deserved approbation from those, whose good opinion you wish to enjoy, is worthy your attention and grateful acceptance: but the fulsome compliments and hyperbolical professions of unmeaning and empty pretenders, calculated only to fill the imagination with the inflammable air of self-conceit and arrogant pride, should be rejected with disdain, and cordially despised by every lady of sense and sentiment, as an insult upon her understanding, and an indignity to her sensibility.

“Let it, therefore, be known to those who court your favor by an ostentatious parade of admiration and obsequiousness, that their dissimulation and duplicity are discovered, and that you are superior to such futility.

“In order to discriminate between flattery and merited praise, critically examine your own heart and life. By this mean you will 47ascertain what is really your due, and what is merely the effect of this insidious art. But let no ideas of your own endowments, however just, elate you with an opinion of your superior powers of pleasing.

“Be not ostentatious of your charms, either of person or mind. Let modesty, diffidence, and propriety regulate you, in regard to each. Exalted advantages will render you an object of envy to the weak minded of your own sex, and of satire to the ill-natured part of the other. Never obtrude even your real graces and accomplishments upon the world. The penetrating and judicious will see and applaud them, while retiring from the gaze of a misjudging and misrepresenting throng.

“Naked in nothing should a woman be,
But veil her very wit with modesty;
Let man discover; let her not display;
But yield her charms of mind with sweet delay.”

“Those who are solicitous for beauty should remember that the expression of the countenance, in which its very essence consists, depends on the disposition of the mind.

“What’s female beauty, but an air divine,
Through which the mind’s all gentle graces shine?
These, like the sun, irradiate all between;
The body charms, because the soul is seen.
Hence men are often captives of a face,
They know not why; of no peculiar grace.
Some forms, though bright, no mortal man can bear;
Some, none resist, tho’ not exceeding fair.”

Beauty, my dear girls, is indeed a desirable quality. Neither the pen of the moralist, 48nor the spleen of the satirist, nor the envy of such as want it, could ever bring it into contempt or neglect. Yet mere external beauty is transient as the meteor, and frail as the bubble, which floats on the surface of the watery element.

“Behold the disconsolate and despised Flirtilla! and from her fate learn not to trust in the effects or duration of this adventitious quality.

“Early in life, Flirtilla was taught that her charms were irresistible; that she might aspire to an absolute ascendency over the hearts and passions of her votaries. A superficial, but fashionable education added the allurements of art to those of person, and rendered her a finished coquette.

“Her beauty and the gaiety of her manners gained her numerous admirers, who swarmed around, like the insect tribe, eager to sip the fragrance of the equally fair and fading rose. The incense of flattery, in every form, was her tribute.

“Elated by this, she gave free scope to her ruling passions, the love of pleasure and dissipation. Her best days were spent in the chase of vanity; and she culled the flowers of life, without considering, that substantial fruit would be required at a more advanced period, as a substitute for the fading blossoms of youth. Her mind was barren of improvement, and consequently destitute of resources.

“She vainly imagined the triumphs of beauty 49to be permanent, till its declared enemy, the small-pox, convinced her of the egregious mistake. By this she found her empire suddenly overturned. The merciless disorder had reduced her to a level with the generality of her sex, in appearance, and, in enjoyment far below them. Her glass faithfully represented this insupportable reduction. Regret and chagrin heightened the apparent calamity. She was remembered only as the contrast of what she once had been. Her lovers were disgusted with the change, and sought more pleasing objects of attention; while men of sentiment could not find a similarity of disposition, in her, to induce a connexion.

“Her female acquaintance, who had envied her as a rival, or feared her as a superior, now insulted her with their pity, or mortified her by remarks on the surprising alteration in her appearance.

“Finding no alleviation from society, she retired from the world to nurse, in solitude, the vexation and disappointment she experienced.

“View her now, peevish, discontented, and gloomy! Her ideas of pleasure were centered in that person, which is now neglected; in those endowments which have now forsaken her forever!

“Thought she studiously shuns; for she has nothing pleasing to occupy her reflections, but what is irretrievably lost!

“Miserable Flirtilla! thou trustedst in vanity, 50and vanity is thy recompense! How happy mightest thou have been, even in this change, if thy heart had been rectified, thy understanding improved, and thy mind liberally stored with useful sentiments, knowledge, and information!

“Cultivate, then, my young friends, those dispositions and attainments, which will yield permanent and real satisfaction, when sickness, adversity, or age shall have robbed your eyes of their lustre, and diminished the bloom and sprightliness of your forms.

“You are doubtless sensible that your happiness, in life, does not depend so much on your external, as your internal graces.

“The constitutional temper of your minds was given you by nature; but reason is added for its regulation.

“On life’s vast ocean diversely we sail;
Reason the chart; but passion is the gale.”

“Our passions were certainly implanted for wise and benevolent purposes; and, if properly directed, may be of great utility. This direction nature will teach, and education improve. To their precepts we must implicitly listen, if we would become respectable or contented.

“Examine yourselves, therefore, with impartial scrutiny. Find out your particular faults in this respect, and exert your unwearied industry to amend them.

“Possibly you may be naturally hasty, 51passionate, or vindictive. If so, how wretched, at times, must the indulgence of this temper render you! When reason, awhile suspended, resumes its empire, and calm reflection succeeds the riot of passion, how severe must be your self-condemnation, and how keen your sensations of regret! Perhaps an unkindness of expression to some particular friend, disrespectful treatment of an honored superior, ill-timed resentment to a beloved equal, or imperious and unbecoming severity to a deserving inferior, may give you the most painful emotions, and degrade you in your own, as well as in the estimation of every observer! To prevent this evil, accustom yourselves to check the first risings of anger, and suspend every expression of displeasure, till you can deliberate on the provocation, and the propriety of noticing it. It may have been undesigned, and, therefore, not justly provoking. You may have misunderstood the word, or action of offence, and inquiry may remove the grounds of your suspicion: or the person offending may be one with whom prudence and honor require you not to enter the lists. But if neither of these considerations occur, reflect a moment, that your own reputation and consequent happiness are at stake and that to lose the command of yourselves and your passions is inconsistent with the delicacy of ladies, the moderation of Christians, and the dignity of rational beings.

“Let every sally alarm, and excite you to 52rally and new-discipline your forces; and to be more strictly on your guard against the assaults of your foe.

“The character of Camilla is a pattern worthy of your imitation. While very young, Camilla was unfortunately deprived of the instruction and regulating hand of a discreet and judicious mother. Her father was too much immersed in business to attend to the cultivation of his daughter’s mind.

“He gave her the means of a genteel education, praised her excellencies, and chid her faults, without being at the pains of teaching her how to amend them. The irritability of her temper he rather indulged, considering her as a girl of spirit, who would make her way in the world, in spite of obstacles. She was naturally generous, tender-hearted, and humane; but her temper was as uncontrollable as the whirlpool, and as impetuous as the wind. Happily for her, she had an uncommon strength of mind, a ready apprehension, a quick perception, and a depth of understanding, seldom equalled. She saw her errors, was conscious of her failings, and a severe sufferer for her faults. But such was the extreme quickness of her feelings, and so passionate her resentment of any thing which appeared injurious or affrontive, that she could not always repress them. She married a gentleman of a similar temper, and of equal prudence. In the union of such violent spirits, 53great harmony could not be presaged. Their passions were lively, their affections ardent.

“The honey-moon in raptures flew,
A second brought its transports too;
The third, the fourth, were not amiss;
The fifth was friendship, mixed with bliss;
But ere a twelvemonth passed away,
They found each other made of clay.”

“Inadvertencies gave offence; frequent altercations arose; both were tenacious of their rights, and averse to condescension. Camilla saw the impending danger; she became sensible that the happiness of her life depended on amendment and caution; she resolved to avoid giving or taking offence, with the greatest diligence; to suppress every emotion of anger; and when she thought herself injured, to retire or be silent, till passion had subsided, and she could regain her calmness.

“This was a hard task, at first; but perseverance rendered it effectual to a thorough reformation in each.

“Her example and pathetic admonitions induced her husband to adopt her prudent plan. They found their mutual endeavors productive of real satisfaction, and happiness the reward of their exertions to secure it.

“To be vindictive is equally, perhaps more fatal to our own, and the peace of others, than to be passionate. Violent passions of all kinds are generally transient; but revenge is the offspring of malice, the parent of discord, and the bane of social love. It is an evidence of 54a weak and sickly mind. True greatness will rise superior to this ignoble spirit, so peculiarly ungraceful in a lady, and inconsistent with that delicacy and softness, which ought ever to characterize the sex.

“But an envious temper is, of all others, the most degrading and miserable. Envy is a malignant poison, which rankles in the heart, and destroys the inward peace, even while there is an outward appearance of serenity. That mind, which cannot rejoice in the happiness of others, is capable of very little in itself. To look with a grudging and evil eye on the enjoyments of our neighbor, must be a source of perpetual chagrin and mortification.

“Envy indulged, is a punishment to its possessor. Eradicate, then, the first, and every emotion of so corroding and destructive a nature; and endeavor to excel only by that virtuous emulation, which is productive of improvement and respectability.

“A kind, compassionate, benevolent, humane disposition is an invaluable treasure. It will render you blessings to society, and objects of universal esteem.

“In you ’tis graceful to dissolve at wo;
With every motion, every word, to wave
Quick o’er the kindling cheek the ready blush;
And from the smallest violence to shrink.”—

“This amiable temper, however, may sometimes degenerate into weakness.

“Prudence should be exercised, even in the indulgence of the most engaging qualities. 55In the progress of life, occasions may call for that resolution and fortitude, which admit not of apparent softness; but such occasions very seldom occur.

“How alluring are the charms of sympathy and charity! Happy are they who always feel the one, and have power and inclination to exemplify the other!

“The diamond and the ruby’s blaze
Dispute the palm with beauty’s queen;
Not beauty’s queen demands such praise,
Devoid of virtue if she’s seen.
But the soft tear in pity’s eye
Outshines the diamond’s brightest beam,
And the sweet blush of modesty
More beauteous than the ruby’s seen.”
Wednesday, P. M.


“Dress,” continued Mrs. Williams to her re-assembled and attentive pupils, “is an important article of female economy. By some it is doubtless considered as too essential. This is always the case, when it becomes the ruling passion, and every other excellence is made subordinate to it. A suitable attention to the etiquette of appearance is necessary to render us respectable in the eyes of the world 56and discovers an accommodating disposition, which is, at once, engaging and useful in the commerce of society. Females are taxed with being peculiarly attached to, and captivated by the glare of splendor and show. But I believe superficial minds are not confined to sex. Whatever form they actuate, to beautify and adorn it will be the principal object.

“A certain species of gaiety and airiness is becoming in youth. Young ladies, therefore, act perfectly in character, when, under proper restraint, they indulge their taste in the decoration of their persons. But they should be especially careful that their taste be correct; consistent with the modest delicacy which is the glory and ornament of woman.

“It is laudable to follow fashions, so far as they are governed by these rules; but whenever they deviate, quit them with express disapprobation and disgust. Any assumptions of the masculine habit are unbecoming. Dress and manners should be correspondent; and the engaging softness and artless simplicity, which grace my pupils, must be quite inconsistent with the air and attire of the other sex.

“A gaudy and fantastical mode of decoration is by no means a recommendation. It bespeaks a lightness of mind and a vanity of disposition, against which a discreet and modest girl should guard with the utmost vigilance. Extravagance is a great error, even where fortune will allow the means of supporting it. Many are the claims which the children of affliction 57and want have upon the superfluous plenty of the rich. How much better expended would some part of their redundance be, in relieving the necessities of such, than in decorating their own persons, with every ornament which art can contrive to create expense!

“Neatness and propriety should be the main objects; for loveliness needs no foreign aid to give it a passport. Neatness is too often connected with the idea of a prudish singularity; but no gaudiness of apparel, no richness of attire, no modishness of appearance can be an equivalent for it. Propriety is that garb which becomes our situation and circumstances in life. There certainly ought to be a difference between different ages and conditions, in this respect. Many articles, ornamental to Miss in her teens, would appear absurd, fantastical, and ridiculous in maturer years. Neither should the matronal robes, and the close cap hide the natural ringlets, and easy shapes of the blooming girl.

“It is a very false taste which induces people in dependent and narrow circumstances, to imitate the expensive mode of dress which might be very decent for those who move in a higher sphere.

“To endeavor to conceal indigence by the affectation of extravagance, is committing a great offence, both against ourselves, and the community to which we belong. The means of support should always be attended to. A conformity to these will render you more respected 58for prudence, than a deviation for the sake of show without substance, can make you admired.

“Louisa and Clarinda are striking examples. They were both the daughters of reputable parents, whose situations in the world were easy and comfortable, though not affluent. They were able to give their children a good education, but no other portion. Gay, volatile, and ambitious, Louisa was the votary of fashion. A superior in dress excited the keenest sensations of envy in her bosom; and a rival in appearance gave her unspeakable mortification. Dissatisfied with her natural charms, cosmetics and paints added to her expenses, and betrayed her folly. She had many professed admirers, who found her a willing dupe to flattery, and who raised her vanity by praising her excellent taste.

“Leander, a gentleman of liberal education, superior merit, and handsome property, cast his eye around for a companion to share and enjoy these advantages with him. Louisa caught his attention. The elegance of her person, and splendor of her appearance, charmed his imagination, and inspired the idea of a fortune sufficient to support her expensive style of living. He paid his addresses and was received with the most flattering encouragement. But how great was his disappointment, when he discovered the smallness of her resources, and the imprudence of her management! This, said he to himself, will never 59do for me. Were my income far superior to what it is, it would not be adequate to such unbounded extravagance. Besides, where so little economy is practised, while under parental government, what must be the consequence of that unlimited indulgence, which the confidence due to a wife demands? Were I to abridge her expenses, and endeavor to rectify her fantastical taste, it would doubtless foment dissension, discord, and animosity, which must terminate in wretchedness. He resolved, however, to try her real disposition, by gently hinting his disapprobation of her gaiety. This she resented; and a rupture, which ended in a final separation, ensued. She found, too late, the value of the man, whom she had slighted; and ever after regretted that folly which had irretrievably alienated his affections.

“The modesty and neatness of Clarinda’s garb next caught Leander’s eye. Conversing with her on the subject of dress, the justness of her sentiments gave him the highest ideas of the rectitude and innocence of her mind. A costly article was offered for her purchase; but she refused it. It would not become me, said she, nor any other person who has not an affluent fortune. If I had a sufficiency to buy it, I would procure something more simple and necessary for myself; and the overplus might render an object of distress contented and happy.

“Yet was Clarinda always elegantly neat; 60always genteelly fashionable. Frugality and economy, free from profusion and extravagance, enabled her to indulge her own taste entirely; and while she enjoyed that, she repined not at the fancied superiority of others. Leander found her all he wished, in appearance; all he hoped for, in reality. As their tastes were correspondent, and their highest aim, when united, to please each other, they were not dependent on the breath of fashion for their happiness. A compliance with its forms did not elate their pride, nor a departure from them, fill their hearts with peevishness and discontent.”

Thursday, A. M.


“Still more important than your habit, is your air and deportment. It is not sufficient that these are pleasing to the eye of the superficial observer. Your behavior and conversation must be uniformly governed by the laws of politeness, discretion, and decorum. Else you will be disgusting to people of refinement; and the judicious and discerning will discover the weakness of your minds, notwithstanding the showy ornaments, intended to conceal it from public view.

“Inattention in company is a breach of 61good manners. Indeed, it is a downright insult; being neither more nor less, than declaring that you have not the least respect for any who are present. Either you do not value their good opinion, or you have something more important than their conversation to occupy your minds.

“You should always be attentive to those with whom you are conversant, let their rank and standing be what they may. Your superiors will esteem you for your respectful treatment of them; your equals will love you for your kindness and familiarity; your inferiors will respect you for your condescension and meekness.

“Attention in company will be advantageous to yourselves. Like the industrious bee, which sips honey from every plant, you may derive some benefit or instruction from all kinds of society. Some useful remark or information; some sentiment which may allure you to the practice of virtue, or deter you from a vicious perpetration, may repay your labor, and be serviceable through life.

“But should there be no other motive than that of pleasing your associates, and rendering them happy, by making yourselves agreeable, it may be considered as a sufficient inducement to the practice of this branch of good-breeding. Many girls, in the thoughtless levity of their hearts, divert themselves at the expense of others; and, with the utmost glee, point out any thing peculiar in the appearance, 62words, or actions of some one in the company, whom they select for a subject of merriment and ridicule. This, by shrewd looks, ironical gestures, or tittering whispers, is kept up, to the great mortification of the unhappy victim, and to the reproach and dishonor of the offenders. Such conduct is a breach, not only of the rules of common civility, but of humanity; besides being directly repugnant to the precept of doing to others as we would that they should do to us.

“Be particularly careful, then, not to mortify, or give pain to an inferior.

“Let the question, ‘who maketh thee to differ?’ suppress every emotion of ridicule, contempt, or neglect; and induce you to raise and encourage depressed merit by your notice and approbation.

“As far as propriety, delicacy, and virtue will allow, conform to the taste, and participate in the amusements and conversation of the company into which you have fallen. If they be disagreeable to you, avoid a supercilious avowal of your dislike. This, instead of reforming, would probably give them a disgust to you, and perhaps subject you to affronts. Yet where a disapprobating word or hint may be seasonable, neglect not the opportunity of contributing to their benefit and amendment.

“Are you conscious of superior advantages, either mental or external, make no ostentatious display of them. Vanity too often leads young ladies to obtrude their acquirements on the 63eyes of observers, inconsiderately apprehending they may otherwise be unnoticed. Such forwardness always subjects them to censure, ridicule, and envy; the expressions of which destroy that self-approbation which retiring merit invariably enjoys. However, exert that dignity of virtue which will render you independent of caprice, calumny, and unprovoked satire.

“Make no ungenerous, or ill-natured remarks on the company, or on the individuals of which it is composed.

“If you dislike them, avoid them in future. If you witness errors, faults, or improprieties, conceal, or at least extenuate them, as much as possible.

“Make just allowances for those who may differ from you in opinion; and be cautious never to misrepresent, or circulate what appears amiss to you, and must, if exposed, be injurious to others. Charity hides a multitude of faults. Certainly then, charity will never aggravate nor create them.

“To give currency to a report, which tends to the disadvantage and dishonor of another, is defaming; and defamation is a species of cruelty, which can never be expiated.

“Of this the unhappy, though imprudent Eudocia, is an exemplification.

“Eudocia was young, gay, and charming. A levity of disposition, which the innocence of her heart attempted not to restrain, sometimes gave the tongue of slander pretence to aim its 64envenomed shafts at her character, and to misrepresent her sprightliness.

“Independent in fortune; still more so in mind, calumny gave her no pain, while she was conscious of the rectitude of her intentions.

“Leontine was a gentleman of property; agreeable in his person and manners; of strict honor, and extremely tenacious of it; but of a severe and unforgiving temper. He paid his addresses to Eudocia; was accepted, approved, and beloved. Yet, though he had gained her affections, he had not sufficient influence to regulate her conduct, and repress her gaiety. Her fondness for show and gallantry, in some instances, induced her to countenance the attentions, and receive the flattery, of men, whose characters were exceptionable, in Leontine’s estimation. He remonstrated against her imprudence, and gave her his ideas of female delicacy. She laughed at his gravity, and rallied him on his implicit subjection to the opinions of others.

“Towards the close of a fine day, Eudocia rambled along a retired road, to enjoy the air. She was alone; but the hope of meeting her beloved Leontine, whom she expected that evening, imperceptibly led her beyond her intended excursion. The rattling of a carriage caused her to stop; and, thinking it to be Leontine’s, she approached it before she perceived her mistake. A gentleman of an elegant appearance alighted and accosting her 65politely, expressed his surprise at finding her so far from home without an attendant. She found it was Florio, with whom she had a slight acquaintance, having once met with him in company. She frankly owned her motive for walking thus far; and refused his invitation to return in his carriage. He renewed his request; and his importunity, seconded by her fatigue, at last prevailed. At this moment the detracting Lavina passed by. She saw Eudocia, and with a sneering smile, wished her a good night. Eudocia was unconscious of fault, and therefore fearless of censure. But the artful Florio, desirous of protracting the pleasure of her company, took a circuitous route, which considerably increased the distance to her father’s house. However, he conveyed her safely home, though not so soon as she wished. She found that Leontine had been there, and had gone to visit a friend; but would soon return. Leontine was just seated at his friend’s, when Lavina entered.

“She told the circle, that Florio had just passed her, and that he had company she little expected to see with him. They inquired if it was his former mistress? No, said she, he discarded her some time ago, and if we may judge by appearances, has chosen a new one. Upon being asked who, she presumed to name Eudocia. Every countenance expressed surprise and regret. In Leontine, rage and resentment were visibly depicted. He rose, and stepping hastily to Lavina, told 66her he was a party concerned, and demanded an explanation of what she had insinuated. She perceived that she had given offence, and endeavored to excuse herself; but he resolutely told her that no evasions would avail; that he insisted on the real truth of her scandalous report. Finding him thus determined, she related the simple fact of seeing Eudocia in a carriage with Florio, who was a known libertine, and accustomed to the society of loose women. Leontine asked her how she came to associate the ideas she had mentioned with Eudocia’s name? She replied that the lightness of her behavior had sometimes rendered her censurable; and she thought this instance, in particular, authorised suspicion. Leontine could not deny that she was culpable in appearance; yet made answer, that though scandal might feast on the failings of virtue, he believed Eudocia’s innocence much purer, and her heart much better than her detractors’; and taking his hat, he wished the company a good evening, and left them.

“His passions were on fire. He could not comprehend the mysterious conduct of Eudocia. Her absence from home, at a time when he expected her to receive him, and her being seen at a distance in company with a professed debauchee, were a labyrinth which he could not explore. Though he doubted not Eudocia’s honor, yet her folly and imprudence, in subjecting her character to suspicion and reproach, he thought unpardonable. His resentment 67determined him to break the proposed connexion immediately; and, lest his love should get the better of his resolution, he went directly to the house.

“As he could not command his temper, he appeared extremely agitated, and angrily told Eudocia that she had caused him great uneasiness; and that he came to claim the satisfaction of knowing, why she had avoided his society, and made an assignation with a man who had involved her in infamy? Eudocia was astonished and justly offended at this address. With all the dignity of conscious innocence, she replied, that as yet he had no right to challenge an account of her conduct; but for her own sake, she would condescend to give it. This she did by a faithful and undisguised relation of facts. She then asked him if he was satisfied. He answered, No. For, said he, though you have cleared yourself of guilt, in my apprehension, you will find it very difficult to free your character from the blemish it has received in the opinion of the world. Saying this he told her, that however highly he esteemed her, so opposite were their dispositions, that they must often be at variance; and so nice was his sense of honor, that his wife like Cæsar’s must not only be virtuous, but unsuspected. She rejoined, that his sentiments were apparent; and if what he then expressed were his opinion of her, it was best they should part.

“Some further conversation passed; when 68promising to call, the next day, and satisfy her parents, and wishing Eudocia all possible happiness in life, he took his leave.

“The impropriety of her conduct, and her losing the affections of a man she too ardently loved, together with the cruel treatment she had just received from him, overwhelmed her with grief, and produced the most violent emotions of regret. She walked her room in all the anguish of disappointed hope. Her parents used every argument to soothe and console her, but in vain.

“She yielded to their persuasions so far as to retire to bed; but rest she found not; and the morning presented her in a burning fever. Leontine called in the course of the day; but the friends of Eudocia refused to see him. An account of her disorder had roused him to a sense of his rashness, and he begged to be admitted to her chamber; but this she utterly denied.

“Her fever left her; but the disease of her mind was beyond the power of medicine. A settled melancholy still remains; and she lives the victim of calumniation!

“To detract from the merit of others, beside the want of politeness which it betrays, and beside the injuries which it always occasions, is extremely impolitic. It is to confess your inferiority, and to acknowledge a wish not to rise to greater respectability; but to bring down those about you to your own level! Ill-natured remarks are the genuine offspring of an envious and grovelling mind.

69“Call yourselves to a severe account, therefore, whenever you have been guilty of this degrading offence; and always check the first impulses towards it.

“Accustom yourselves to the exercise of sincerity, benevolence and good humor, those endearing virtues, which will render you beloved and respected by all.

“To bestow your attention in company, upon trifling singularities in the dress, person, or manners of others, is spending your time to little purpose. From such a practice you can derive neither pleasure nor profit; but must unavoidably subject yourselves to the imputation of incivility and malice.”

Thursday, P. M.


“Amusement is impatiently desired, and eagerly sought by young ladies in general. Forgetful that the noblest entertainment arises from a placid and well cultivated mind, too many fly from themselves, from thought and reflection, to fashionable dissipation, or what they call pleasure, as a mean of beguiling the hours which solitude and retirement render insupportably tedious.

70“An extravagant fondness for company and public resorts is incompatible with those domestic duties, the faithful discharge of which ought to be the prevailing object of the sex. In the indulgence of this disposition, the mind is enervated, and the manners corrupted, till all relish for those enjoyments, which being simple and natural, are best calculated to promote health, innocence, and social delight, is totally lost.

“It is by no means amiss for youth to seek relaxation from severer cares and labors, in a participation of diversions, suited to their age, sex, and station in life. But there is great danger of their lively imaginations’ hurrying them into excess, and detaching their affections from the ennobling acquisitions of moral improvement, and refined delicacy. Guard, then against those amusements which have the least tendency to sully the purity of your minds.

“Loose and immoral books; company, whose manners are licentious, however gay and fashionable; conversation which is even tinctured with profaneness or obscenity; plays in which the representation is immodest, and offensive to the ear of chastity; indeed, pastimes of every description, from which no advantage can be derived, should not be countenanced; much less applauded. Why should those things afford apparent satisfaction in a crowd which would call forth the blush of indignation in more private circles? This question 71is worthy the serious attention of those ladies, who at the theatre, can hardly restrain their approbation of expressions and actions, which at their houses, would be intolerably rude and indecent, in their most familiar friends!

“Cards are so much the taste of the present day, that to caution my pupils against the too frequent use of them may be thought old fashioned in the extreme. I believe it, however, to be a fascinating game, which occupies the time, without yielding any kind of pleasure or profit. As the satirist humorously observes,

“The love of gaming is the worst of ills;
With ceaseless storms the blacken’d soul it fills;
Inveighs at Heaven, neglects the ties of blood;
Destroys the power and will of doing good;
Kills health, pawns honor, plunges in disgrace;
And, what is still more dreadful—spoils your face.”

“One thing at least is certain; it entirely excludes all rational conversation. That delightful interchange of sentiment, which the social meeting of friends is calculated to afford and from which many advantages might be derived, is utterly excluded.

“Reading, writing, drawing, needle-work, dancing, music, walking, riding, and conversation are amusements well adapted to yield pleasure and utility. From either of these, within proper bounds, there is no danger of injury to the person or mind; though to render even our diversions agreeable, they must be 72enjoyed with moderation, and variously and prudently conducted. Such as are peculiarly exhilarating to the spirits, however innocent in themselves, should be more cautiously and sparingly indulged.

“When once the mind becomes too much relaxed by dissipating pastimes, it is proportionably vitiated, and negligent of those nice attentions to the rules of reserve and decorum which ought never to be suspended. Intoxicating is the full draught of pleasure to the youthful mind; and fatal are the effects of unrestrained passions.

“Flavia was the daughter of a gentleman, whose political principles obliged him to leave his country at the commencement of the American revolution. At that time she was at nurse in a neighboring village; between which and the metropolis all communication being cut off, he was reduced to the necessity of leaving her to the mercy of those to whom she was entrusted. Having received her from pecuniary motives only, they no sooner found themselves deprived of the profits of their labor and care, than they sought relief by an application to the town for her support. A wealthy farmer in the vicinity, who had often seen and been pleased with the dawning charms of Flavia, pitied her condition, and having no children of his own, resolved to shelter her from the impending storm, till she could be better provided for. At his house she was brought up in a homely, though comfortable manner. 73The good man and his wife were excessively fond of her, and gave her every instruction and advantage in their power. Plain truths were liberally inculcated, and every exertion made to give her a habit of industry and good nature. Flavia requited their kindness by an obliging and cheerful, a docile and submissive deportment. As she advanced in years, she increased in beauty. Her amiable disposition rendered her beloved, and her personal accomplishments made her admired by all the village swains. The approbating smile of Flavia was the reward of their toils, and the favor of her hand in the rustic dance was emulously sought.

“In this state, Flavia was happy. Health and innocence were now her portion; nor had ambition as yet taught her to sigh for pleasure beyond the reach of her attainment.

“But the arrival of her father, who had been permitted to return, and re-possess the estate which he had abandoned, put a period to the simplicity and peace of Flavia’s mind. He sought and found her; and though sensible of his obligations to her foster-parents for snatching her from want and distress, still he could not prevail on himself to make so great a sacrifice to gratitude as they wished, by permitting his daughter to spend her days in obscurity. The lively fancy of Flavia was allured by the splendid promises and descriptions of her father; and she readily consented 74to leave the friends of her childhood and youth, and explore the walks of fashionable life.

“When she arrived in town, what new scenes opened upon the dazzled eyes of the admiring, and admired Flavia!

“Wealth, with its attendant train of splendid forms and ceremonies, courted her attention, and every species of dissipating amusement, sanctioned by the name of pleasure, beguiled the hours and charmed the imagination of the noviciate. Each enchanting scene she painted to herself in the brightest colours; and her experienced heart promised her happiness without allay. Flattery gave her a thousand charms which she was hitherto unconscious of possessing, and the obsequiousness of the gaudy train around raised her vanity to the highest pitch of arrogance and pride. Behold Flavia, now, launched into the whirlpool of fashionable folly. Balls, plays, cards, and parties engross every portion of her time.

“Her father saw, too late, the imprudence of his unbounded indulgence; and his egregious mistake, in so immediately reversing her mode of life, without first furnishing her mind with sufficient knowledge and strength to repel temptation. He endeavored to regulate and restrain her conduct; but in vain. She complained of this, as an abridgment of her liberty, and took advantage of his doating fondness to practise every excess. Involved in expenses (of which losses at play composed a considerable part) beyond her power to defray, 75in this embarrassing dilemma, she was reduced to the necessity of accepting the treacherous offer of Marius to advance money for the support of her extravagance. Obligated by his apparent kindness, she could not refuse the continuance of his acquaintance, till his delusive arts had obtained the reward he proposed to himself, in the sacrifice of her honor. At length she awoke to a trembling sense of her guilt, and found it fatal to her peace, reputation, and happiness.

“Wretched Flavia! no art could conceal thy shame! The grief of her mind, her retirement from company, and the alteration in her appearance, betrayed her to her father’s observation. Highly incensed at the ingratitude and baseness of her conduct, he refused to forgive her; but sent her from the ensnaring pleasures of the town, to languish out the remainder of life in solitude and obscurity.”

Friday, A. M.


“The filial and fraternal are the first duties of a single state. The obligations you are under to your parents cannot be discharged, 76but by a uniform and cheerful obedience; an unreserved and ready compliance with their wishes, added to the most diligent attention to their ease and happiness. The virtuous and affectionate behaviour of children is the best compensation, in their power, for that unwearied care and solicitude which parents, only, know. Upon daughters, whose situation and employments lead them more frequently into scenes of domestic tenderness; who are often called to smooth the pillow of sick and aged parents, and to administer with a skilful and delicate hand the cordial, restorative to decaying nature, and endearing sensibility, and a dutiful acquiescence in the dispositions, and even peculiarities of those from whom they have derived existence, are indispensably incumbent.

“Such a conduct will yield a satisfaction of mind more than equivalent to any little sacrifices of inclination or humour which may be required at your hands.

“Pope, among all his admired poetry, has not six lines more beautifully expressive than the following:

“Me, let the pious office long engage,
To rock the cradle of declining age;
With lenient arts extend a mother’s breath,
Make languor smile, and smooth the bed of death;
Explore the thought, explain the asking eye,
And keep awhile one parent from the sky!”

“Next in rank and importance to filial piety, is fraternal love. This is a natural affection which you cannot too assiduously cultivate. 77How delightful to see children of the same family dwell together in unity; promoting each other’s welfare, and emulous only to excel in acts of kindness and good will. Between brothers and sisters the connexion is equally intimate and endearing. There is such a union of interests, and such an undivided participation of enjoyments, that every sensible and feeling mind must value the blessings of family friendship and peace.

“Strive, therefore, my dear pupils, to promote them, as objects which deserve your particular attention; as attainments which will not fail richly to reward your labour.

“Prudelia, beside other amiable endowments of person and mind, possessed the most lively sensibility, and ardent affections.

“The recommendations of her parents, united to her own wishes, had induced her to give her hand to Clodius, a gentleman of distinguished merit. He was a foreigner; and his business required his return to his native country.

“Prudelia bid a reluctant adieu to her friends, and embarked with him. She lived in affluence, and was admired and caressed by all that knew her, while a lovely family was rising around her. Yet these pleasing circumstances and prospects could not extinguish or alienate that affection, which still glowed in her breast for the natural guardians and companions of her childhood and youth.

“With the deepest affliction she heard the 78news of her father’s death, and the embarrassed situation in which he had left his affairs. She was impatient to console her widowed mother, and to minister to her necessities. For these purposes, she prevailed on her husband to consent that she should visit her, though it was impossible for him to attend her. With all the transport of dutiful zeal, she flew to the arms of her bereaved parent. But how great was her astonishment and grief, when told that her only sister had been deluded by an affluent villain, and by his insidious arts, seduced from her duty, her honor, and her home! The emotions of pity, indignation, regret, and affection, overwhelmed her, at first; but recollecting herself, and exerting all her fortitude, she nobly resolved, if possible, to snatch the guilty, yet beloved Myra, from ruin, rather than revenge her injured family by abandoning her to the infamy she deserved. To this intent she wrote her a pathetic letter, lamenting her elopement, but entreating her, notwithstanding, to return and receive her fraternal embrace. But Myra, conscious of her crime, and unworthiness of her sister’s condescension and kindness, and above all, dreading the superiority of her virtue, refused the generous invitation. Prudelia was not thus to be vanquished in her benevolent undertaking. She even followed her to her lodgings, and insisted on an interview. Here she painted, in the most lively colours, the heinousness of her offence, and the ignominy and 79wretchedness that awaited her. Her affection allured, her reasoning convinced her backsliding sister. Upon the promise of forgiveness from her mother, Myra consented to leave her infamous paramour, and re-trace the paths of rectitude and virtue.

“Her seducer was absent on a journey. She, therefore, wrote him a farewell letter, couched in terms of sincere penitence for her transgression, and determined resolution of amendment in future, and left the house. Thus restored and reconciled to her friends, Myra appeared in quite another character.

“Prudelia tarried with her mother till she had adjusted her affairs, and seen her comfortably settled and provided for. Then taking her reclaimed sister with her, she returned to her anxiously expecting family. The uprightness and modesty of Myra’s conduct, ever after, rendered her universally esteemed, though the painful consciousness of her defection was never extinguished in her own bosom.

“A constant sense of her past misconduct depressed her spirits, and cast a gloom over her mind; yet she was virtuous, though pensive, during the remainder of her life.

“With this, and other salutary effects in view, how necessary, how important are filial and fraternal affection!”

80Friday, P. M.


“Friendship is a term much insisted on by young people; but, like many others more frequently used than understood. A friend, with girls in general, is an intimate acquaintance, whose taste and pleasures are similar to their own; who will encourage, or at least connive at their foibles and faults, and communicate with them every secret; in particular those of love and gallantry, in which those of the other sex are concerned. By such friends their errors and stratagems are flattered and concealed, while the prudent advice of real friendship is neglected, till they find too late, how fictitious a character, and how vain a dependence they have chosen.

“Augusta and Serena were educated at the same school, resided in the same neighborhood, and were equally volatile in their tempers, and dissipated in their manners. Hence every plan of amusement was concerted and enjoyed together. At the play, the ball, the card-table and every other party of pleasure, they were companions.

“Their parents saw that this intimacy strengthened the follies of each; and strove 81to disengage their affections, that they might turn their attention to more rational entertainments, and more judicious advisers. But they gloried in their friendship, and thought it a substitute for every other virtue. They were the dupes of adulation, and the votaries of coquetry.

“The attentions of a libertine, instead of putting them on their guard against encroachments, induced them to triumph in their fancied conquests, and to boast of resolution sufficient to shield them from delusion.

“Love, however, which with such dispositions, is the pretty play-thing of imagination, assailed the tender heart of Serena. A gay youth, with more wit than sense, more show than substance, more art than honesty, took advantage of her weakness to ingratiate himself into her favour, and persuade her they could not live without each other. Augusta was the confident of Serena. She fanned the flame, and encouraged her resolution of promoting her own felicity, though at the expense of every other duty. Her parents suspected her amour, remonstrated against the man, and forbade her forming any connexion with him, on pain of their displeasure. She apparently acquiesced; but flew to Augusta for counsel and relief. Augusta soothed her anxiety, and promised to assist her in the accomplishment of all her wishes. She accordingly contrived means for a clandestine intercourse, both personal and epistolary.

82“Aristus was a foreigner, and avowed his purpose of returning to his native country, urging her to accompany him. Serena had a fortune, independent of her parents, left her by a deceased relation. This, with her hand, she consented to give to her lover, and to quit a country, in which she acknowledged but one friend. Augusta praised her fortitude, and favored her design. She accordingly eloped, and embarked. Her parents were almost distracted by her imprudent and undutiful conduct, and their resentment fell on Augusta, who had acted contrary to all the dictates of integrity and friendship, in contributing to her ruin; for ruin it proved. Her ungrateful paramour, having rioted on the property which she bestowed, abandoned her to want and despair. She wrote to her parents, but received no answer. She represented her case to Augusta, and implored relief from her friendship; but Augusta alleged that she had already incurred the displeasure of her family on her account and chose not again to subject herself to censure by the same means.

“Serena at length returned to her native shore, and applied in person to Augusta, who coolly told her that she wished no intercourse with a vagabond, and then retired. Her parents refused to receive her into their house; but from motives of compassion and charity, granted her a small annuity, barely sufficient to keep her and her infant from want.

“Too late she discovered her mistaken notions 83of friendship; and learned by sad experience, that virtue must be its foundation, or sincerity and constancy can never be its reward.

“Sincerity and constancy are essential ingredients in virtuous friendship. It invariably seeks the permanent good of its object; and in so doing, will advise, caution and reprove, with all the frankness of undissembled affection. In the interchange of genuine friendship, flattery is utterly excluded. Yet, even in the most intimate connexions of this kind, a proper degree of respect, attention and politeness must be observed. You are not so far to presume on the partiality of friendship, as to hazard giving offence, and wounding the feelings of persons, merely because you think their regard for you will plead your excuse, and procure your pardon. Equally cautious should you be, of taking umbrage at circumstances which are undesignedly offensive.

“Hear the excellent advice of the wise son of Sirach, upon this subject:

“Admonish thy friend; it may be he hath not done it; and if he have done it, that he do it no more. Admonish thy friend; it may be he hath not said it; and if he have, that he speak it not again. Admonish thy friend; for many times it is a slander; and believe not every tale. There is one that slippeth in his speech, but not from his heart; and who is he that offendeth not with his tongue?”

84“Be not hasty in forming friendships; but deliberately examine the principles, disposition, temper and manners, of the person you wish to sustain this important character. Be well assured that they are agreeable to your own, and such as merit your entire esteem and confidence, before you denominate her your friend. You may have many general acquaintances, with whom you are pleased and entertained; but in the chain of friendship there is a still closer link.

“Reserve will wound it, and distrust destroy,
Deliberate on all things with thy friend:
But since friends grow not thick on every bough
Nor ev’ry friend unrotten at the core,
First on thy friend, deliberate with thyself:
Pause, ponder, first: not eager in the choice,
Nor jealous of the chosen: fixen, fix:
Judge before friendship: then confide till death.”

“But if you would have friends, you must show yourselves friendly; that is, you must be careful to act the part you wish from another. If your friend have faults, mildly and tenderly represent them to her; but conceal them as much as possible from the observation of the world. Endeavor to convince her of her errors, to rectify her mistakes, and to confirm and increase every virtuous sentiment.

“Should she so far deviate, as to endanger her reputation and happiness; and should your admonitions fail to reclaim her, become not, like Augusta, an abettor of her crimes. It is not the part of friendship to hide transactions 85which will end in the ruin of your friend. Rather acquaint those who ought to have the rule over her of her intended missteps, and you will have discharged your duty; you will merit, and very probably may afterwards receive her thanks.

“Narcissa and Florinda were united in the bonds of true and generous friendship. Narcissa was called to spend a few months with a relation in the metropolis, where she became acquainted with, and attached to a man who was much her inferior; but whose specious manners and appearance deceived her youthful heart, though her reason and judgment informed her, that her parents would disapprove the connexion. She returned home, the consciousness of her fault, the frankness which she owed to her friend, and her partiality to her lover, wrought powerfully upon her mind, and rendered her melancholy. Florinda soon explored the cause, and warmly remonstrated against her imprudence in holding a moment’s intercourse with a man, whom she knew, would be displeasing to her parents. She searched out his character, and found it far inadequate to Narcissa’s merit. This she represented to her in its true colours, and conjured her not to sacrifice her reputation, her duty and her happiness, by encouraging his addresses; but to no purpose were her expostulations. Narcissa avowed the design of permitting him to solicit the consent of her parents, and the determination of marrying him without it, if they refused.

86“Florinda was alarmed at this resolution; and, with painful anxiety, saw the danger of her friend. She told her plainly, that the regard she had for her demanded a counteraction of her design; and that if she found no other way of preventing its execution, she should discharge her duty by informing her parents of her proceedings. This Narcissa resented, and immediately withdrew her confidence and familiarity; but the faithful Florinda neglected not the watchful solicitude of friendship; and when she perceived that Narcissa’s family were resolutely opposed to her projected match and that Narcissa was preparing to put her rash purpose into execution, she made known the plan which she had concerted and by that mean prevented her destruction. Narcissa thought herself greatly injured, and declared that she would never forgive so flagrant a breach of fidelity. Florinda endeavoured to convince her of her good intentions, and the real kindness of her motives; but she refused to hear the voice of wisdom, till a separation from her lover, and a full proof of his unworthiness opened her eyes to a sight of her own folly and indiscretion, and to a lively sense of Florinda’s friendship, in saving her from ruin without her consent. Her heart overflowed with gratitude to her generous preserver. She acknowledged herself indebted to Florinda’s benevolence, for deliverance from the baneful impetuosity of her own passions. She sought and obtained forgiveness; 87and ever after lived in the strictest amity with her faithful benefactress.”

Saturday, A. M.


“The highest state of friendship which this life admits, is in the conjugal relation. On this refined affection, love, which is but a more interesting and tender kind of friendship, ought to be founded. The same virtues, the same dispositions and qualities which are necessary in a friend, are still more requisite in a companion for life. And when these enlivening principles are united, they form the basis of durable happiness. But let not the mask of friendship, or of love, deceive you. You are now entering upon a new stage of action where you will probably admire, and be admired. You may attract the notice of many, who will select you as objects of adulation, to discover their taste and gallantry; and perhaps of some whose affections you have really and seriously engaged. The first class your penetration will enable you to detect; and your good sense and virtue will lead you to treat them with the neglect they deserve. It 88is disreputable for a young lady to receive and encourage the officious attentions of those mere pleasure-hunters, who rove from fair to fair, with no other design than the exercise of their art, addresses, and intrigue. Nothing can render their company pleasing, but a vanity of being caressed, and a false pride in being thought an object of general admiration, with a fondness for flattery which bespeaks a vitiated mind. But when you are addressed by a person of real merit, who is worthy your esteem and may justly demand your respect, let him be treated with honor, frankness and sincerity. It is the part of a prude, to affect a shyness, reserve, and indifference, foreign to the heart. Innocence and virtue will rise superior to such little arts, and indulge no wish which needs disguise.

“Still more unworthy are the insidious and deluding wiles of the coquette. How disgusting must this character appear to persons of sentiment and integrity! how unbecoming the delicacy and dignity of an uncorrupted female!

“As you are young and inexperienced, your affections may possibly be involuntarily engaged, where prudence and duty forbid a connexion. Beware, then how you admit the passion of love. In young minds, it is of all others the most uncontrollable. When fancy takes the reins, it compels its blinded votary to sacrifice reason, discretion and conscience to its impetuous dictates. But a passion of 89this origin tends not to substantial and durable happiness. To secure this, it must be quite of another kind, enkindled by esteem, founded on merit, strengthened by congenial dispositions and corresponding virtues, and terminating in the most pure and refined affection.

“Never suffer your eyes to be charmed by the mere exterior; nor delude yourselves with the notion of unconquerable love. The eye, in this respect, is often deceptious, and fills the imagination with charms which have no reality. Nip, in the bud, every particular liking, much more all ideas of love, till called forth by unequivocal tokens as well as professions of sincere regard. Even then, harbor them not without a thorough knowledge of the temper, disposition and circumstances of your lover, the advice of your friends; and, above all the approbation of your parents. Maturely weigh every consideration for and against, and deliberately determine with yourselves, what will be most conducive to your welfare and fidelity in life. Let a rational and discreet plan of thinking and acting, regulate your deportment, and render you deserving of the affection you wish to insure. This you will find far more conducive to your interest, than the indulgence of that romantic passion, which a blind and misguided fancy paints in such alluring colors to the thoughtless and inexperienced.

“Recollect the favourite air you so often sing:

90“Ye fair, who would be blessed in love,
Take your pride a little lower:
Let the swain that you approve,
Rather like you than adore.
Love that rises into passion,
Soon will end in hate or strife:
But from tender inclination
Flow the lasting joys of life.”

“I by no means undervalue that love which is the noblest principle of the human mind; but wish only to guard you against the influence of an ill-placed and ungovernable passion, which is improperly called by this name.

“A union, formed without a refined and generous affection for its basis, must be devoid of those tender endearments, reciprocal attentions, and engaging sympathies, which are peculiarly necessary to alleviate the cares, dispel the sorrows, and soften the pains of life. The exercise of that prudence and caution which I have recommended, will lead you to a thorough investigation of the character and views of the man by whom you are addressed.

“Without good principles, both of religion and morality, (for the latter cannot exist independent of the former) you can not safely rely, either upon his fidelity or his affection. Good principles are the foundation of a good life.

“If the fountain be pure, the streams 91which issue from it will be of the same description.

“Next to this, an amiable temper is essentially requisite. A proud, a passionate, a revengeful, a malicious, or a jealous temper, will render your lives uncomfortable, in spite of all the prudence and fortitude you can exert.

“Beware, then, lest, before marriage, love blind your eyes to those defects, to a sight of which, grief and disappointment may awaken you afterwards. You are to consider marriage as a connexion for life; as the nearest and dearest of all human relations; as involving in it the happiness or misery of all your days; and as engaging you in a variety of cares and duties, hitherto unknown. Act, therefore, with deliberation, and resolve with caution; but, when once you come to a choice, behave with undeviating rectitude and sincerity.

“Avarice is not commonly a ruling passion in young persons of our sex. Yet some there are, sordid enough to consider wealth as the chief good, and to sacrifice every other object to a splendid appearance. It often happens, that these are miserably disappointed in their expectations of happiness. They find, by dear bought experience, that external pomp is but a wretched substitute for internal satisfaction.

“But I would not have outward circumstances entirely overlooked. A proper regard 92should always be had to a comfortable subsistence in life. Nor can you be justified in suffering a blind passion, under whatever pretext, to involve you in those embarrassing distresses of want, which will elude the remedies of love itself, and prove fatal to the peace and happiness at which you aim.

“In this momentous affair, let the advice and opinion of judicious friends have their just weight in your minds. Discover, with candor and frankness, the progress of your amour, so far as is necessary to enable them to judge aright in the cause; but never relate the love tales of your suitor, merely for your own, or any other person’s amusement. The tender themes inspired by love, may be pleasing to you; but to an uninterested person, must be insipid and disgusting in the extreme.

“Never boast of the number, nor of the professions of your admirers. That betrays an unsufferable vanity, and will render you perfectly ridiculous in the estimation of observers. Besides, it is a most ungenerous treatment of those who may have entertained, and expressed a regard for you. Whatever they have said upon this subject, was doubtless in confidence, and you ought to keep it sacred, as a secret you have no right to divulge.

“If you disapprove the person, and reject his suit, that will be sufficiently mortifying, without adding the insult of exposing his overtures.

93“Be very careful to distinguish real lovers from mere gallants. Think not every man enamoured with you, who is polite and attentive. You have no right to suppose any man in love with you, till he declares it in plain, unequivocal and decent terms.

“Never suffer, with impunity, your ear to be wounded by indelicate expressions, double entendres, and insinuating attempts to seduce you from the path of rectitude. True love will not seek to degrade its object, much less to undermine that virtue which ought to be its basis and support. Let no protestations induce you to believe that person your friend, who would destroy your dearest interests, and rob you of innocence and peace. Give no heed to the language of seduction; but repel the insidious arts of the libertine, with the dignity and decision of insulted virtue. This practice will raise you superior to the wiles of deceivers, and render you invulnerable by the specious flattery of the unprincipled and debauched.

“Think not the libertine worthy of your company and conversation even as an acquaintance.

“That reformed rakes make the best husbands,” is a common, and I am sorry to say, a too generally received maxim. Yet I cannot conceive, that any lady who values, or properly considers her own happiness, will venture on the dangerous experiment. The term reformed can, in my opinion, have very 94little weight; since those, whose principles are vitiated, and whose minds are debased by a course of debauchery and excess, seldom change their pursuits, till necessity, or interest requires it; and, however circumstances may alter or restrain their conduct, very little dependence can be placed on men whose disposition is still the same, but only prevented from indulgence by prudential motives. As a rake is most conversant with the dissolute and abandoned of both sexes, he doubtless forms his opinion of others by the standard to which he has been accustomed, and therefore supposes all women of the same description. Having been hackneyed in the arts of the baser sort, he cannot form an idea, that any are in reality superior to them. This renders him habitually jealous, peevish and tyrannical. Even if his vicious inclinations be changed, his having passed his best days in vice and folly, renders him a very unsuitable companion for a person of delicacy and refinement.

“But whatever inducements some ladies may have to risk themselves with those who have the reputation of being reformed, it is truly surprising that any should be so inconsiderate as to unite with such as are still professed libertines. What hopes of happiness can be formed with men of this character?

“Vice and virtue can never assimilate; and hearts divided by them can never coalesce. 95The former is the parent of discord, disease and death; the latter, of harmony, health and peace. A house divided against itself cannot stand; much less can domestic felicity subsist between such contrasted dispositions.

“But however negligent or mistaken many women of real merit may be, relative to their own interest, I cannot but wish they would pay some regard to the honor and dignity of their sex. Custom only has rendered vice more odious in a woman than in a man. And shall we give our sanction to a custom, so unjust and destructive in its operation; a custom which invites and encourages the enemies of society to seek our ruin? Were those who glory in the seduction of innocence, to meet with the contempt they deserve, and to be pointedly neglected by every female of virtue, they would be ashamed of their evil practices, and impelled to relinquish their injurious designs.

“But while they are received and caressed in the best companies, they find restraint altogether needless; and their being men of spirit and gallantry (as they style themselves) is rather a recommendation than a reproach!

“I cannot help blushing with indignation, when I see a lady of sense and character gallanted and entertained by a man who ought to be banished from society, for having ruined the peace of families, and blasted the reputation 96of many, who but for him, might have been useful and happy in the world; but who by his insidious arts, are plunged into remediless insignificance, disgrace and misery.”

Saturday, P. M.


“Having given you my sentiments on a variety of subjects which demand your particular attention, I come now to the closing and most important theme; and that is religion. The virtuous education you have received, and the good principles which have been instilled into your minds from infancy, will render the enforcement of Christian precepts and duties a pleasing lesson.

“Religion is to be considered as an essential and durable object; not as the embellishment of a day; but an acquisition which shall endure and increase through the endless ages of eternity.

“Lay the foundation of it in youth, and it will not forsake you in advanced age; but furnish you with an adequate substitute for the transient pleasures which will then desert you, and prove a source of rational and refined delight: 97a refuge from the disappointments and corroding cares of life, and from the depressions of adverse events. “Remember now your creator, in the days of your youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when you shall say we have no pleasure in them.” If you wish for permanent happiness, cultivate the divine favour as your highest enjoyment in life, and your safest retreat when death shall approach you.

“That even the young are not exempt from the arrest of this universal conqueror, the tombstone of Amelia will tell you. Youth, beauty, health and fortune, strewed the path of life with flowers, and left her no wish ungratified. Love, with its gentlest and purest flame, animated her heart, and was equally returned by Julius. Their passion was approved by their parents and friends; the day was fixed, and preparations were making for the celebration of their nuptials. At this period Amelia was attacked by a violent cold, which seating on her lungs, baffled the skill of the most eminent physicians, and terminated in a confirmed hectic. She perceived her disorder to be incurable, and with inexpressible regret and concern anticipated her approaching dissolution. She had enjoyed life too highly to think much of death; yet die she must! “Oh,” said she, “that I had prepared, while in health and at ease, for this awful event! Then should I not be subjected to the keenest distress of mind, in addition to the most painful 98infirmities of body! Then should I be able to look forward with hope, and to find relief in the consoling expectation of being united beyond the grave, with those dear and beloved connexions, which I must soon leave behind! Let my companions and acquaintance learn from me the important lesson of improving their time to the best of purposes; of acting at once as becomes mortal and immortal creatures!”

“Hear, my dear pupils, the solemn admonition, and be ye also ready!

“Too many, especially of the young and gay, seem more anxious to live in pleasure, than to answer the end of their being, by the cultivation of that piety and virtue which will render them good members of society, useful to their friends and associates, and partakers of that heart-felt satisfaction which results from a conscience void of offence both towards God and man.

“This, however, is an egregious mistake; for in many situations, piety and virtue are our only source of consolation; and in all, they are peculiarly friendly to our happiness.

“Do you exult in beauty, and the pride of external charms? Turn your eyes for a moment, on the miserable Flirtilla.[1] Like her, your features and complexion may be impaired by disease; and where then will you find a refuge from mortification and discontent, if 99destitute of those ennobling endowments which can raise you superior to the transient graces of a fair form, if unadorned by that substantial beauty of mind which can not only ensure respect from those around you, but inspire you with resignation to the divine will, and a patient acquiescence in the painful allotments of a holy Providence. Does wealth await your command, and grandeur with its fascinating appendages beguile your fleeting moments? Recollect, that riches often make themselves wings and fly away. A single instance of mismanagement; a consuming fire, with various other misfortunes which no human prudence can foresee or prevent, may strip you of this dependence; and, unless you have other grounds of comfort than earth can boast, reduce you to the most insupportable wretchedness and despair. Are you surrounded by friends, and happy in the society of those who are near and dear to you? Soon may they be wrested from your fond embrace, and consigned to the mansions of the dead!

1.  See page 48.

“Whence, then, will you derive support, if unacquainted with that divine Friend, who will never fail nor forsake you; who is the same yesterday, to-day and forever.

“Health and youth, my dear girls, are the seasons for improvement. Now you may lay up a treasure which neither sickness nor adversity can impair.

“But the hour of distress is not the only time, in which religion will be advantageous 100to you. Even in prosperity, it will prove the best solace and the highest ornament of your lives. What can be more dignified, respectable, and lovely, than the Christian character? The habitual practice of those duties which the gospel inculcates will give lustre to your beauty and durability to your charms. By correcting your passions, it will improve your joys, endear you to your friends and connexions, and render you contented, happy, and useful in every stage and condition of life.

“Religion will not deprive you of temporal enjoyments; it will heighten and increase them. It will not depress, but exhilarate your spirits. For it consists not in a gloomy, misanthropic temper, declining the social and innocent delights of life; but prepares the mind to partake with satisfaction of every pleasure which reason approves, and which can yield serenity and peace in the review. Be not ashamed then of appearing religious, and of rising by that mean above the vain, unthinking crowd.

“Let not the idle jests of heedless and unprincipled companions deter you from a stedfast adherence to the path of truth and righteousness. ‘Follow not the multitude to do evil.’ Never conform to fashion, even though it claim the patronage of politeness, so far as to countenance irreligion in any of its modifications.

“Jesting upon sacred subjects, ridiculing the professors of Christianity, light and irreverent 101conduct upon solemn occasions, ought to be cautiously avoided and decidedly condemned. Too many girls are so extremely thoughtless as to carry the levity of their manners even to the sanctuary; and by whispering, winking, tittering and other indecent actions, display their folly to their own disgrace, and to the great disgust of all judicious and sober people. Such behaviour is not only offensive to the Deity, but insulting to all who would worship him free from interruption. It is not only an indignity offered to religion, but a flagrant breach of the rules of good breeding. Content not yourselves, therefore, with a bare attendance on the institutions of religion; but conduct with propriety, decorum, and seriousness, while engaged in the solemn service. Bear in mind, that you assemble with a professed purpose of paying homage to the Supreme; and consider yourselves as in his immediate presence!

“The offices of devotion demand your attention in private, as well as in public.

“Accustom yourselves, therefore, to stated periods of retirement for meditation and prayer; and adopt every other mean which is calculated to keep alive in your minds a due sense of your dependence and obligations, and to inspire you with that uniform love to God and benevolence to the human kind, which will prove your greatest glory here, as well as your crown of rejoicing hereafter.”

102The hour of departure having arrived, on Monday morning, Mrs. Williams assembled with her pupils; when the regret, visibly depicted on every countenance, was variously expressed. The tear of grateful regard stole silently down the bloomy cheeks of some; others betrayed their sensibility by audible sobs, which they could not repress; and all united in testifying the sense they entertained of the advantages they had received from Mrs. Williams’s tuition, the happiness they had enjoyed in each other’s society, and their determination to remember her counsels, cultivate continued friendship among themselves, and endeavor to be worthy of her’s.

Mrs. Williams then took an affectionate leave of each one, and left them with her daughters. The most cordial good wishes were mutually interchanged, till their carriages received and separated them.

The friendship and unity thus commenced and confirmed, were never obliterated. They always cherished the most sincere affection for their Preceptress, and each other; which they displayed in an unreserved and social correspondence, both personal and epistolary. The residence of Mrs. Williams they denominated Harmony-Grove, which it ever after retained, and by which it is designated in the following selection of their letters.





Conformably to my promise, when I left your abode, the first efforts of my pen are dedicated to you. The pleasure which arises from the recollection of your more than maternal kindness to me, especially your unwearied endeavors to refine and embellish my mind and to lay the foundation of right principles and practices, is interwoven with my existence; and no time or circumstances can erase my gratitude.

I arrived last evening safely; and was affectionately received by my honored parents, and beloved brothers and sisters. The emotions of regret which I felt in the morning, at the painful separation from you and my dear school-mates, with whom I have lived so happily, had not wholly subsided. I could not help listening, now and then, for some judicious observation from my Preceptress; and frequently cast my eyes around in search of some of the amiable companions, among 104whom I had been used to unbend every thought.

The splendor of the apartments gave me ideas of restraint that were painful; and I looked abroad for the green, where we were wont to gambol, and the lawn where we so often held our twilight sports, and almost fancied that we sometimes caught a glimpse of the attendant Sylphs who played around us; but in vain. Stately domes, crowded streets, rattling carriages, and all the noise and confusion of a commercial city were substituted. I retired to bed, and was awaked in the night by the riotous mirth of a number of Bacchanalians, reeling from the haunts of intemperance and excess.

Alas! said I, this is not the Æolian harp that used to soothe our slumbers at the boarding school. I composed myself again; but awoke at the accustomed hour of five. I arose; and, having praised my Maker for the preservations of the night, walked down. Not a living creature was stirring in the house.

I took a turn in the garden. Here art seemed to reign so perfectly mistress, that I was apprehensive lest I should injure her charms by viewing them.

I accordingly retired to the summer-house, and, having a book in my hand, sat down and read till the clock struck seven. I then thought it must be breakfast time, and returned to the house; but was much disappointed 105to find none of the family up, except one man servant and the house maid who had just crept down.

They appeared perfectly astonished to see me come in from abroad; and the girl respectfully inquired if indisposition had occasioned my rising so early. I told her no; that the wish to preserve my health had called me up two hours before. Well, rejoined she, you will not find any body to keep you company here for two hours to come. I was chagrined at the information, and asked her for a bowl of milk, it being past my usual breakfast time. The milk man had just arrived, and I drank some; but it had lost its flavor on the road. It was not like that which was served us at Harmony-Grove. I stepped to the harpsichord, and having sung and played a morning hymn, returned to my chamber, where, taking my work, I sat down by the window to view the listless tribe of yawning mortals who were beginning to thicken in the streets. One half of these appeared to be dragged forth by necessity, rather than any inclination to enjoy the beauties of a fine morning.

At nine, I was summoned into the parlor to breakfast. My sisters gently chid me for disturbing their repose with my music. I excused myself by alleging that I had been so long accustomed to early rising that I should find it difficult to alter the habit.

Here, madam, you have an account of my first night and morning’s occupation. Were 106I to proceed with every new occurrence, through the year, and subjoin my own remarks, I must write volumes instead of letters.

Please to communicate this scroll to your amiable daughters, and remind them of their promise to write.

A line from Harmony-Grove would be a luxury to me.

Meanwhile, permit me still to subscribe myself, with the utmost respect your grateful pupil,




I did not intend when we parted at the boarding school, that a whole month should have elapsed without bearing you some testimony of my continued friendship and affection; but so numerous have been my avocations, and so various my engagements, that I have scarcely called a moment my own since I returned home. Having been from town a year, I was considered as too antique to appear 107in company abroad, till I had been perfectly metamorphosed. Every part of my habit has undergone a complete change, in conformity to the present fashion. It was with extreme regret that I parted with the neatness and simplicity of my country dress; which, according to my ideas of modesty, was more becoming. But I trust, this alteration of appearance will have no tendency to alienate those sentiments from my heart which I imbibed under the tuition of Mrs. Williams.

I went, last evening, to the assembly; but though dazzled, I was by no means charmed, by the glare of finery and tinselled decorations that were displayed.

There were some ladies, whose gentility and fashionable dress were evidently the product of a correct taste; but others were so disguised by tawdry gewgaws, as to disgust me exceedingly.

Mrs. Williams used to say, that the dress was indicative of the mind. If this observation be just, what opinion am I to form of the gay multitudes who trip along the streets and throng the places of public resort in this metropolis; the lightness and gaudiness of whose appearance, bespeak a sickly taste, to say no more.

I am furnished with feathers, flowers, and ribbons in profusion. I shall, however, use them very sparingly; and though I would not be entirely singular, yet I must insist on consulting my own fancy a little, and cannot willingly 108sacrifice my own opinion to the capricious whims of fashion, and her devotees. My aunt Lawrence, who you know, is extravagantly genteel, is making us a visit. She laughs very heartily at my silly notions, as she calls them, and styles me a novice in the ways of the world: but hopes, notwithstanding, that I shall acquire a better taste when I am more acquainted with fashionable life. That I may be much improved by a more extensive knowledge of the world, I doubt not; yet may I never be corrupted by that levity and folly, which are too prevalent among a part of my sex.

“I will not, however, censure and condemn others; but attend to myself and be humble. Adieu.”




The tear of regret for your departure is scarcely dried from the cheek of your Maria; and the pleasing remembrance of the happiness I have enjoyed in your society is accompanied 109with a sigh, whenever I reflect that it exists no more.

My mamma has observed that those friendships which are formed in youth, provided they be well founded, are the most sincere, lively and durable. I am sure that the ardency of mine can never abate; my affectionate regard for you can never decay.

We have another class of boarders; but you and your amiable companions had so entirely engrossed my confidence and esteem, that I shall find it difficult to transfer them, in any degree, to others. The sensations of Anna are very different, though she is capable of the most refined friendship. The natural vivacity, and, as I tell her, the volatility of her disposition, renders a variety of associates pleasing to her.

In order to recall your ideas to the exercises of Harmony-Grove, I enclose the sallies of my pen for this morning, fully assured of your candour and generosity in the perusal.

Pray omit no opportunity of writing, and favor me with your observations on the polite world. I shall receive every line as a pledge of your continued love to your

Enclosed in the preceding Letter.
Hail delight-restoring spring!
Balmy pleasures with thee bring;
Aromatic gales dispense,
Misty vapours banish hence.
Blithe the jocund hinds appear,
Joy supports returning care,
Mirth the ready hand attends,
Pleasing hope the toil befriends.
Hark! the shady groves resound,
Love and praise re-echo round,
Music floats in every gale,
Peace and harmony prevail.
Here no stormy passions rise,
Here no feuds impede our joys,
Here ambition never roams,
Pride or envy never comes.
Come Matilda; ruddy morn
Tempts us o’er the spacious lawn;
Spring’s reviving charms invite
Every sense to taste delight;
Such delights as never cloy,
Health and innocence enjoy.
Youth’s the spring-time of our years,
Short the rapid scene appears;
Let’s improve the fleeting hours,
Virtue’s noblest fruits be ours.



You have left—you have forsaken me, Caroline! But I will haunt you with my letters; 111obtrude myself upon your remembrance; and extort from you the continuance of your friendship!

What do I say? Obtrude and extort! Can these harsh words be used when I am addressing the generous and faithful Caroline?

But you have often encouraged my eccentricities by your smile, and must therefore still indulge them.

Nature has furnished me with a gay disposition; and happy is it for me, that a lax education has not strengthened the folly too commonly arising from it.

Mrs. Williams’ instructions were very seasonably interposed to impress my mind with a sense of virtue and propriety. I trust they have had the desired effect; and that they will prove the guardian of my youth, and the directory of maturer age. How often has the dear, good woman taken me into her chamber, and reminded me of indecorums of which I was unconscious at the time; but thankful afterwards that they had not escaped her judicious eye; as her observations tended to rectify my errors, and render me more cautious and circumspect in future. How salutary is advice like her’s; conveyed, not with the dogmatic air of supercilious wisdom, but with the condescending ease and soothing kindness of an affectionate parent, anxiously concerned for the best good of those under her care!

I was very happy at Harmony-Grove; and the result of that happiness, I hope, will accompany me through life.

112Yet I find the gaiety of the town adapted to my taste; nor does even Mrs. Williams condemn the enjoyment of its pleasures.

I was, last evening, at a ball, and I assure you, the attention I gained, and the gallantry displayed to attract my notice and approbation, were very flattering to my vanity; though I could not forbear inwardly smiling at the futile arts of the pretty fellows who exhibited them.

Their speeches appeared to have been so long practised, that I was on the point of advising them to exercise their genius, if they had any, in the invention of something new. But a polite conformity to the ton restrained my satire, Adieu.




I am disappointed and displeased, Cleora! I have long been anxious to procure the Marchioness de Sevigne’s letters, having often heard them mentioned as standards of taste and elegance in the epistolary way. This excited my curiosity, and raised my hopes of finding a rich entertainment of wit and sentiment. I 113have perused, and perused in vain; for they answer not my ideas of either. They are replete with local circumstances, which to indifferent readers, are neither amusing nor interesting. True, the style is easy and sprightly; but they are chiefly composed of family matters, such as relate to her own movements and those of her daughter; many of which are of too trifling a nature to be ranked in the class of elegant writing. I own myself, however, not a competent judge of their merit as a whole, even in my own estimation; for I have read the two first volumes only.

That letters ought to be written with the familiarity of personal conversation, I allow; yet many such conversations, even between persons of taste and refinement, are unworthy the public attention.

Equal was my chagrin, not long since, on reading Pope’s letters. He, said I to myself, who bears the palm from all contemporary poets, and who is so consummate a master of this divine art, must surely furnish a source of superior entertainment, when he descends to friendly and social communications.

Indeed, there are good sentiments and judicious observations, interspersed in his letters; but the greater part of them have little other merit than what arises from the style.

Perhaps you will charge me with arrogance for presuming to criticise, much more to condemn, 114publications which have so long been sanctioned by general approbation. Independent in opinion, I write it without reserve, and censure not any one who thinks differently. Give me your sentiments with the same freedom upon the books which you honor with a perusal, and you will oblige your affectionate




I received yours with those lively sensations of pleasure which your favors always afford. As I was perusing it, my papa came into the room. He took it out of my hand and read it; then returning it with the smile of approbation, I think, said he, that your correspondent has played the critic very well. Has she played it justly, Sir? said I. Why, it is a long time, said he, since I read the Marchioness de Sevigne’s letters. I am not, therefore, judge of their merit. But with regard to Pope, I blame not the sex for retaliating upon him; for he always treated them satirically. I believe revenge was no part 115of my friend’s plan, said I. She is far superior to so malignant a passion, though, were she capable of seeking it, it would be in behalf of her sex.

Company now coming in, the conversation shifted.

I have often smiled at the pitiful wit of those satirists and essayists, who lavish abundant eloquence on trifling foibles, the mere whims of a day; and of no consequence to the body natural, moral, or political. The extension of a hoop, the contraction of the waist, or the elevation of the head-dress, frequently afford matter for pages of elaborate discussion. These reformers, too, always aim at the good of our sex! I think it a great pity they do not lop off some of their own exuberant follies; though perhaps they wish us to exchange labours; and in return for their benevolent exertions, that we endeavor to expose and correct their errors. I have sometimes thought their satire to be tinctured with malice; and that the cause of their disaffection may generally be found in personal resentment. Had Pope and his coadjutors been favourites with the ladies, I doubt not but they would have found more excellencies in them than they have ever yet allowed.

I have lately been reading the generous and polite Fitzorsborne’s letters; and I need not tell you how much I was pleased and charmed with them.

The justness of his sentiments, and the ease 116and elegance of his diction, are at once interesting and improving. His letter and ode to his wife on the anniversary of their marriage, surpass any thing of the kind I have ever read. I verily think, that, had I the offer of a heart capable of dictating such manly tenderness of expression, and such pathetic energy of generous love, I should be willing to give my hand in return, and assent to those solemn words, “love, honor, and—(I had almost said) obey.” Adieu.




I agree with you, that the habits of the weak and vain are too insignificant to employ the pens of those, whose literary talents might produce great and good effects in the political, moral, and religious state of things. Were absurd fashions adopted only by those whose frivolity renders them the dupes of folly, and whose example can have no effect on the considerate and judicious part of the community, I should think them below the attention of 117statesmen, philosophers, and divines: but this is not the case. The votaries and the inventors of the most fantastical fashions are found in the ranks of, what is called, refined and polished society; from whom we might hope for examples of elegance and propriety, both in dress and behaviour. By these, luxury and extravagance are sanctioned. Their influence upon the poorer class is increased; who, emulous of imitating their superiors, think that the most eligible appearance, (however beyond their income, or unsuitable to their circumstances and condition in life) which is preferred and countenanced by their wealthier neighbors.

Absurd and expensive fashions, then, are injurious to society at large, and require some check; and why is not satire levelled against them, laudable in its design, and likely to produce a good effect? Adieu.




Notwithstanding the coldness of the season, every heart seems to be enlivened, and 118every mind exhilarated by the anniversary of the new year. Why this day is so peculiarly marked out for congratulations, I shall not now inquire; but in compliance with the prevailing custom of expressing good wishes on the occasion, I send you mine in a scribble

Early I greet the opening year,
While friendship bids the muse appear,
To wish Matilda blest.
The muse, devoid of selfish art,
Obeys the dictates of a heart,
Which warms a friendly breast.
The rolling earth again has run
Her annual circuit round the sun,
And whirl’d the year away;
She now her wonted course renews,
Her orbit’s track again pursues;
Nor feels the least decay.
How soon the fleeting hours are gone!
The rapid wheels of time glide on,
Which bring the seasons round.
Winter disrobes the smiling plain,
But spring restores its charms again,
And decks the fertile ground.
The sweet returns of cheerful May
Come with a vivifying ray,
Inspiring new delight:
Beclad with every various charm
To please the eye, the fancy warm,
And animate the sight.
But youth no kind renewal knows;
Swiftly the blooming season goes,
And brings the frost of age!
No more the vernal sun appears,
To gild the painful round of years,
And wintry damps assuage.
119With rapid haste, the moments fly,
Which you and I, my friend, enjoy;
And they return no more!
Then let us wisely now improve
The downy moments, as they rove,
Which nature can’t restore.
O source of wisdom! we implore
Thy aid to guide us safely o’er
The slippery paths of youth:
O deign to lend a steady ray
To point the sure, the certain way
To honor and to truth!
Let thy unerring influence shed
Its blessings on Matilda’s head,
While piety and peace,
Thy genuine offspring round her wait,
And guard her through this transient state,
To joys that never cease!
May constant health its charms extend,
And fortune every blessing lend,
To crown each passing day;
May pleasures in succession shine,
And every heart-felt bliss be thine,
Without the least allay.



I have this week engaged in the celebration of the nuptials of my friend, Amanda 120South. A splendid wedding, a gay company, an elegant supper, and a magnificent ball, were the sum of our entertainment.

I imagine such exhilarating scenes designed to dispel the anxiety and thoughtfulness, which every reflecting person must feel on this solemn occasion. This untried state presents to the apprehensive mind such a variety of new cares and duties, that cheerfulness, festivity and hilarity seem necessary to banish the thought of them, so far as to render a delicate and sensible female sufficiently composed to conduct with propriety. But I must confess that were I called to the trial, I should choose to retire from the observation of those indifferent and unfeeling spectators, to whom the blushing modesty of a bride is often a pastime.

Indeed, Cleora, when we look around the world and observe the great number of unhappy marriages, which were contracted with the brightest prospects, yet from some unforeseen cause, have involved the parties in wretchedness for life, we may well indulge a diffidence of our own abilities to discharge the duties of the station, and be solicitous that our future companion should in all respects be qualified to assist in bearing the burdens of the conjugal state.

Experience only can determine how far we are right in the judgment we form of ourselves, and of the person of our choice. So many are the deceptions which love and courtship 121impose upon their votaries, that I believe it very difficult for the parties concerned to judge impartially, or to discern faults, where they look only for virtues. Hence they are so frequently misled in their opinions, and find, too late, the errors into which they have been betrayed.

When do you come to Boston, Cleora? I am impatient for your society; because your friendship is void of flattery, and your sincerity and cheerfulness are always agreeable and advantageous. Adieu.




Indeed, Harriot, I open your letters with as much gravity as I would a sermon; you have such a knack of moralizing upon every event! What mortal else would feel serious and sentimental at a wedding? Positively, you shall not come to mine. Your presence, I fear, would put such a restraint upon me, as to render me quite foolish and awkward in my appearance.

122However, I must acknowledge it a weighty affair; and what you say has, perhaps, too much truth in it to be jested with. I believe, therefore, we had better resolve not to risk the consequences of a wrong choice, or imprudent conduct; but wisely devote ourselves to celibacy. I am sure we should make a couple of very clever old maids. If you agree to this proposition, we will begin in season to accustom ourselves to the virtues and habits of a single life. By observing what is amiss in the conduct of others in the same state, and avoiding their errors, I doubt not but we may bring even the title into repute. In this way we shall be useful to many of our own sex, though I am aware it would be a most grievous dispensation to a couple of the other; but no matter for that.

The world needs some such examples as we might become; and if we can be instrumental of retrieving old-maidism from the imputation of ill-nature, oddity, and many other mortifying charges, which are now brought against it, I believe we shall save many a good girl from an unequal and unhappy marriage. It might have a salutary effect on the other sex too. Finding the ladies independent in sentiment, they would be impelled to greater circumspection of conduct to merit their favor.

You see that my benevolence is extensive. I wish to become a general reformer. What say you to my plan, Harriot? If you approve 123it, dismiss your long train of admirers immediately, and act not the part of a coquette, by retaining them out of pride or vanity. We must rise above such narrow views, and let the world know that we act from principle, if we mean to do good by our example. I shall continue to receive the addresses of this same Junius, till I hear that you have acceded to my proposal; and then, display my fortitude by renouncing a connexion which must be doubtful as to the issue, and will certainly expose me to the mortification of being looked at, when I am married. Farewell.




I have just returned from a rural excursion, where, in the thicket of a grove, I enjoyed all the luxury of solitude. The sun had nearly finished his diurnal course, and was leaving our hemisphere to illuminate the other with his cheering rays.

The sprightly songsters had retired to their bowers, and were distending their little 124throats with a tribute of instinctive gratitude and praise.

The vocal strains re-echoed from tree to tree and invited me to join the responsive notes. My heart expanded with devotion and benevolence. I wished the whole human kind to share the feelings of happiness which I enjoyed; while the inanimate creation around seemed to partake of my satisfaction! Methought the fields assumed a livelier verdure; and the zephyrs were unusually officious in wafting the fragrance of aromatic gales. I surveyed the surrounding scenery with rapturous admiration; and my heart glowed with inexpressible delight at the lovely appearance of nature, and the diffusive bounties of its almighty author.

Let others, said I, exult in stately domes, and the superfluities of pomp; immerse themselves in the splendid novelties of fashion, and a promiscuous crowd of giddy amusements! I envy them not.

Give me a mind to range the sylvan scene,
And taste the blessings of the vernal day;
While social joys, and friendly, intervene
To chase the gloomy cares of life away.

I wish not to abandon society, nor to resign the pleasures which it affords; but it is a select number of friends, not a promiscuous crowd, which I prefer.

When the mind is much engrossed by dissipating pleasures, it is apt to forget itself, and 125neglect its own dignity and improvement. It is necessary often to retreat from the noise and bustle of the world, and commune with our own hearts. By this mean we shall be the better qualified both to discharge the duties and participate in the enjoyments of life.

Solitude affords a nearer and more distinct view of the works of creation; elevates the mind, and purifies its passions and affections.

O solitude! in thee the boundless mind
Expands itself, and revels unconfin’d;
From thee, each vain, each grov’lling passion flies,
And all the virtues of the soul arise.



Rambling in the garden, I have picked a nosegay, which I transmit to you as a token of my remembrance. Though the poetical bagatelle which accompanies it, is not equal to the elegance of the subject; yet I confide in your candor to excuse its futility, and give a favorable interpretation to its design.

126Laura, this little gift approve,
Pluck’d by the hand of cordial love!
With nicest care the wreath I’ve dress’d,
Fit to adorn your friendly breast.
The rose and lily are combin’d,
As emblems of your virtuous mind!
Pure as the first is seen in thee
Sweet blushing sensibility.
Carnations here their charms display,
And nature shines in rich array,
Od’rous, as virtue’s accents sweet,
From Laura’s lips with wit replete.
The myrtle with the laurel bound,
And purple amaranthus crown’d,
Within this little knot unite,
Like Laura’s charms, to give delight!
Fair, fragrant, soft, like beauty dress’d;
So she unrivalled stands confess’d;
While blending still each finish’d grace,
Her virtues in her mien we trace!
Virtues, which far all tints outshine,
And, verdant brave the frost of time.
I am, &c.



I am not so far engaged by the new scenes of fashionable gaiety which surround me, as to 127forget you and the other dear friends, whom I left at Harmony-Grove. Yet so great is the novelty which I find in this crowded metropolis, that you cannot wonder if my attention is very much engrossed. Mr. and Mrs. Henly, with their amiable daughters, are extremely polite and attentive to me; and having taken every method to contribute to my amusement, I went yesterday, in their company, to Commencement, at Cambridge; and was very much entertained with the exhibition. I pretend not to be a judge of the talents displayed by the young gentlemen who took an active part, or of the proficiency they had made in science. I have an opinion of my own, notwithstanding; and can tell how far my eye and ear were gratified.

I never knew before, that dress was a classical study; which I now conclude it must be, or it would not have exercised the genius of some of the principal speakers on this public occasion.

The female garb too, seemed to claim particular attention. The bon ton, taste and fashions of our sex, afforded a subject of declamation to the orator; and of entertainment to the audience, composed, in part, of our legislators, politicians, and divines! I could not but think that those scholars who employ their time in studying, investigating and criticising the ladies’ dresses, might as well be occupied in the business of a friseur or the man-milliner; either of which would afford them more 128frequent opportunities for the display of their abilities, and render their labors more extensively useful to the sex. Others might then improve the time, which they thus frivolously engrossed on this anniversary, in contributing to the entertainment of the literati, who doubtless expect to be gratified by the exertions of genius and an apparent progress in those studies, which are designed to qualify the rising youth of America for important stations both in church and state.

The assembly was extremely brilliant; the ladies seemed to vie with each other in magnificent decorations. So much loveliness was visible in their native charms, that without any hint from the speakers of the day, I should have thought it a pity to add those foreign ornaments, which rather obscure than aid them.

I was a little displeased by the unbecoming levity of some of my sex; and am apprehensive lest it might induce misjudging and censorious people to imagine that they were led thither more by the vanity of attracting notice, than to receive any mental entertainment.

Without our consent, we ran a race back to town, which endangered our necks. The avaricious hackman, desirous of returning for another freight, had no mercy on his passengers or horses. However, we arrived safely, though much fatigued by the pleasure of the day.

129Pleasure carried to excess degenerates into pain. This I actually experienced; and sighed for the tranquil enjoyments of Harmony grove, to which I propose soon to return, and convince you how affectionately I am your’s,




Your enlivening letter restored us, in some measure, to your society; or at least, alleviated the pain of your absence.

I am glad you attended commencement. It was a new scene, and consequently extended your ideas. I think you rather severe on the classical gentlemen. We simple country folks must not presume to arraign their taste, whose learning and abilities render them conspicuous on the literary stage. They, doubtless, write on subjects better adapted to their capacities. As for the follies of fashion, I think the gentlemen are under obligations to the ladies for adopting them; since it gives exercise to their genius and pens.

130You were tired, you say, with pleasure. I believe those dissipating scenes, which greatly exhilarate the spirits, call for the whole attention, and oblige us to exert every power, are always fatiguing.

Pleasures of a calmer kind, which are moderately enjoyed, which enliven rather then exhaust, and which yield a serenity of mind on reflection, are the most durable, rational and satisfying. Pleasure is the most alluring object which is presented to the view of the young and inexperienced. Under various forms it courts our attention; but while we are still eager in the pursuit, it eludes our grasp. Its fascinating charms deceive the imagination, and create a bower of bliss in every distant object.

But let us be careful not to fix our affections on any thing, which bears this name, unless it be founded on virtue, and will endure the severest scrutiny of examination.

Our honored mamma, and all your friends here, are impatient for your return. They unitedly long to embrace, and bid you welcome to these seats of simplicity and ease: but none more ardently than your affectionate sister,




Anxious to make the best possible use of the education I have received; and fully impressed with the idea, that the human mind is capable of continual improvements, it is my constant endeavor to extract honey from every flower which falls in my way, or, to speak without a figure, to derive advantage from every incident. Pursuant to the advice of our excellent Preceptress, I keep this perpetually in view; and am therefore disappointed when defeated in the attempt.

This afternoon I have been in company with three ladies, celebrated for their beauty and wit. One of them I think may justly claim the reputation of beauty. To a finished form, and florid complexion, an engaging, animating countenance is added. Yet a consciousness of superior charms was apparent in her deportment; and a supercilious air counteracted the effects of her personal accomplishments. The two others were evidently more indebted to art than to nature for their appearance. It might easily be discovered that paint constituted all the delicacy of their complexion.

132What a pity that so many are deceived in their ideas of beauty! Certain it is, that artificial additions serve rather to impair than increase its power. “Who can paint like nature?” What hand is skilful enough to supply her defects? Do not those who attempt it always fail, and render themselves disgusting? Do they not really injure what they strive to mend; and make it more indifferent than usual, when divested of its temporary embellishments? Beauty cannot possibly maintain its sway over its most obsequious votaries, unless the manners and the mind unitedly contribute to secure it. How vain then is this subterfuge! It may deceive the eye and gain the flattery of the prattling coxcomb; but accumulated neglect and mortification inevitably await those who trust in the wretched alternative.

From their good sense, I had been led to expect the greatest entertainment. I therefore waited impatiently till the first compliments were over, and conversation commenced.

But to my extreme regret, I found it to consist of ludicrous insinuations, hackneyed jests and satirical remarks upon others of their acquaintance who were absent. The pretty fellows of the town were criticised; and their own adventures in shopping, were related with so much minuteness, hilarity, and glee, that I blushed for the frivolous levity of those of my sex, who could substitute buffoonery for 133wit, and the effusions of a perverted imagination, for that refined and improving conversation, which a well cultivated mind and a correct taste are calculated to afford.

If, said I, to myself, this be the beauty and the wit of polished society, restore me again to the native simplicity and sincerity of Harmony-Grove.

I took my leave as soon as politeness would allow; and left them to animadvert upon me. Independent for happiness on the praise or censure of superficial minds, let me ever be conscious of meriting approbation, and I shall rest contented in the certain prospect of receiving it. Adieu.




I sympathize with you, my dear Sophia, in the disappointment you received in your expectations from beauty and wit.

You may nevertheless derive advantage from it. Your refined and delicate ideas raise 134you too far above the scenes of common life. They paint the defects of your inferiors in such lively colours, that the greater part of the community must be displeasing to you. Few, you should remember, have had the advantages which you have enjoyed; and still fewer have your penetrating eye, correct taste, and quick sensibility. Let charity then draw a veil over the foibles of others, and candor induce you to look on the best and brightest side.

It is both our duty and interest to enjoy life as far as integrity and innocence allow; and in order to this, we must not soar above, but accommodate ourselves to its ordinary state. We cannot stem the torrent of folly and vanity; but we can step aside and see it roll on, without suffering ourselves to be borne down by the stream.

Empty conversation must be disgusting to every rational and thinking mind; yet, when it partakes not of malignity, it is harmless in its effects, as the vapour which floats over the mead in a summer’s eve. But when malice and envy join to give scope to detraction, we ought to avoid their contagion, and decidedly condemn the effusions of the ill-natured merriment which they inspire.

Our sex have been taxed as defamers. I am convinced, however, they are not exclusively guilty; yet, for want of more substantial matter of conversation, I fear they too often give occasion for the accusation! A 135mind properly cultivated and stored with useful knowledge, will despise a pastime which must be supported at the expense of others. Hence only the superficial and the giddy are reduced to the necessity of filling the time in which they associate together, with the degrading and injurious subjects of slander. But I trust that our improved country-women are rising far superior to this necessity, and are able to convince the world, that the American fair are enlightened, generous, and liberal. The false notions of sexual disparity, in point of understanding and capacity, are justly exploded; and each branch of society is uniting to raise the virtues and polish the manners of the whole.

I am, &c.



From your recommendation of Mrs. Chapone’s letters; and, what is still more, from the character given them by Mrs. Williams, 136I was anxious to possess the book; but, not being able to procure it here, my clerical brother, who was fortunately going to Boston, bought and presented it to me.

I am much gratified by the perusal, and flatter myself that I shall derive lasting benefit from it.

So intricate is the path of youth, and so many temptations lurk around to beguile our feet astray, that we really need some skilful pilot to guide us through the delusive maze. To an attentive and docile mind, publications of this sort may afford much instruction and aid. They ought, therefore, to be carefully collected, and diligently perused.

Anxious to make my brother some acknowledgment for his present, I wrought and sent him a purse, accompanied with a dedication which I thought might amuse some of his solitary moments; and which, for that purpose, I here transcribe and convey to you.

The enclosed, with zeal and with reverence due,
Implor’d my permission to wait upon you;
And begg’d that the muse would her favor extend,
To briefly her worth and her service commend.
The muse, who by dear bought experience had known
How little her use to the clergy had grown,
With officious advice thus attacked the poor purse:
Why, you novice! ’tis plain that you cannot do worse!
If the end of your being you would ever attain,
And honor, preferment and influence gain,
Go quick to the pocket of some noble knave,
Whose merit is wealth, and his person is slave:
Or enter the mansion where splendor appears,
And pomp and eclat are the habit she wears:
137Or hie to the court, where so well you are known,
So highly esteem’d and so confident grown,
That without your assistance and recommendation,
None claims any merit, or fills any station!
Seek either of these; and with joy you’ll behold
Yourself crown’d with honor, and filled with gold.
But to wait on a priest! How absurd is the scheme;
His reward’s in reversion; the future’s his theme.
Will these, for the present, your craving’s supply,
Or soften the din of necessity’s cry?
Of hunger and want, the loud clamours repel;
Or crush the poor moth that would on you revel!
For poets and prophets the world has decreed,
On fame and on faith may luxuriously feed!
Here the puss interpos’d with a strut and a stare,
Pray good madam muse, your suggestions forbear!
On virtue and worth I’m resolved to attend,
A firm, if I am not a plentiful friend.
Tho’ not swell’d with gold, and with metal extended,
What little I have shall be rightly expended:
And a trifle, by justice and wisdom obtained,
Is better than millions dishonestly gain’d!
Yet I hope and presume that I never shall be
excluded his pocket for the lack of a fee!
Thus the muse and the purse—till I took the direction,
And destin’d the latter to your kind protection.
My wishes attend her, with fervor express’d,
That in yellow or white she may always be dress’d;
And e’er have the power each dull care to beguile;
Make the summer more gay, and the bleak winter smile!
But if Fortune be blind; or should she not favor
These wishes of mine, you must scorn the deceiver:
And, rising superior to all she can do,
Find a bliss more substantial than she can bestow!



I have spent a very agreeable summer in the country; but am now preparing to return to town. I anticipate, with pleasure, a restoration to your society, and that of my other friends there. I should, however, quit these rural scenes with reluctance, were it not that they are giving place to the chilling harbingers of approaching winter. They have afforded charms to me, which the giddy round of fashionable amusements can never equal. Many, however, think life insupportable, except in the bustle and dissipation of a city. Of this number is the volatile Amelia Parr, whom you know as well as I. So extreme is her gaiety, that the good qualities of her mind are suffered to lie dormant; while the most restless passions are indulged without restraint. I have just received a letter from her, which you will see to be characteristic of her disposition. I enclose that, and my answer to it, for your perusal. Read both with candour; and believe me ever yours,



(Enclosed in the preceding.)

Where are you, Harriot; and what are you doing? Six long months absent from the town! What can you find to beguile the tedious hours? Life must be a burden to you! How can you employ yourself? Employ, did I say? Pho! I will not use so vulgar a term! I meant amuse! Amusement surely is the prime end of our existence! You have no plays, no card-parties, nor assemblies, that are worth mentioning! Intolerably heavy must the lagging wheels of time roll on! How shall I accelerate them for you? A new novel may do something towards it! I accordingly send you one, imported in the last ships. Foreign, to be sure; else it would not be worth attention. They have attained to a far greater degree of refinement in the old world, than we have in the new; and are so perfectly acquainted with the passions, that there is something extremely amusing and interesting in their plots and counterplots, operating in various ways, till the dear creatures are jumbled into matrimony in the prettiest manner that can be conceived!

We, in this country, are too much in a state of nature to write good novels yet. An American 140novel is such a moral, sentimental thing, that it is enough to give any body the vapours to read one. Pray come to town as soon as possible, and not dream away your best days in obscurity and insignificance.

But this boarding school, this Harmony-Grove, where you formerly resided, has given you strange ideas of the world. With what raptures I have heard you relate the dull scenes in which you were concerned there! I am afraid that your diseased taste has now come to a crisis, and you have commenced prude in earnest! But return to your city friends; and we will lend our charitable assistance, in restoring you to gaiety and pleasure.


The Answer.

Your letter——your rattle, rather, came to hand yesterday. I could not avoid smiling at your erroneous opinions; and, in my turn, beg leave to express my wonder at your entertainments 141in town. True, we have no plays. We are not obliged by fashion, to sit, half suffocated in a crowd, for the greater part of the night, to hear the rantings, and see the extravagant actions of the buskin heroes, (and those not always consistent with female modesty to witness!) We have no card-parties, avowedly formed for the purpose of killing time! But we have an agreeable neighborhood, among which we can easily collect a social circle; and persons of taste, politeness and information, compose it. Here we enjoy a rational and enlivening conversation, which is at once refined and improving. We have no assemblies, composed of a promiscuous crowd of gaudy belles and beaux; many of whom we should despise in a private company, and deem unworthy of our notice. But we have genteel balls, the company of which is select, none being admitted but such as do honor to themselves and each other. The amusement is not protracted till the yawning listlessness of the company proclaims their incapacity for enjoyment; but we retire at a seasonable hour, and add to the pleasure of the evening, that of undisturbed rest through the night. Of course, we can rise with the sun, and sip the nectarious dews, wafted in the aromatic gale. We breakfast before the heat of the day has brought on a languor and deprived us of appetite; after which, we amuse ourselves with our needles, books, or music; recline on the sofa, or ramble in the grove, as 142fancy or convenience directs. In the shady bower we enjoy either the luxury of solitude, or the pleasures of society; while you are, the whole time, in the midst of hurry and bustle. Eager in the chase, you fly from one scene of dissipation to another; but the fatigue of this ceaseless round, and the exertion of spirits necessary to support it, render the objects of pursuit tasteless and insipid.

Which mode of life, yours or mine, do you now think the most rational, and productive of the greatest happiness? The boarding school, which you affect to despise, has, it is true, formed my taste; and I flatter myself that I shall never wish it altered.

I shall soon return to town; but not for pleasure. It is not in crowds that I seek it. Adieu.




Having been with my aunt Burchel for a fortnight past, I have indulged myself in reading novels; with which her library is well supplied.

143Richardson’s works have occupied a large portion of the time. What a surprising command has this great master of the passions over our feelings! It is happy for his own and succeeding ages, that he embarked in the cause of virtue. For his influence on the affections of his readers is so great, that it must have proved very pernicious, had he enlisted on the side of vice. Though I am not much of a novel-reader, yet his pen has operated like magic on my fancy; and so extremely was I interested, that I could have dispensed with sleep or food for the pleasure I found in reading him.

By this circumstance I am more than ever convinced of the great caution which ought to be used in perusing writings of the kind. How secretly and how insidiously may they undermine the fabric of virtue, by painting vice and folly in the alluring colours, and with the lively style of this ingenious author. The mind should be well informed, and the judgment properly matured, before young people indulge themselves in the unrestrained perusal of them.

The examples of virtue and noble qualities, exhibited by the author I have mentioned, are truly useful; but every writer of novels is not a Richardson: and what dreadful effects might the specious manners of a Lovelace have on the inexperienced mind, were they not detected by a just exhibition of his vices!

The noble conduct of Clementina and Miss Byron, are worthy of imitation; while the indiscretion 144of Clarissa, in putting herself under the protection of a libertine, is a warning to every fair. But both examples are often overlooked. While the ear is charmed with the style, and the fancy riots on the luxuriance of description, which so intimately blend the charms of virtue and the fascinations of vice, they are not readily distinguished by all.

I am not equally pleased with all Richardson’s writings; yet so multifarious are his excellencies, that his faults appear but specks, which serve as foils to display his beauties to better advantage.

Before I went from home I was engaged in reading a course of history; but I fear I shall not return from this flowery field to the dry and less pleasing path of more laborious studies. This is one disadvantage of novel reading. It dissipates the ideas, relaxes the mind, and renders it inattentive to the more solid and useful branches of literature. Adieu.




Neither change of place nor situation can alienate my affections from you, or obliterate my grateful remembrance of your kindness.

145Your admonitions and counsels have been the guide of my youth. The many advantages which I have already received from them, and the condescending readiness with which they were always administered, embolden me to solicit your direction and advice in a still more important sphere. The recommendation of my parents and friends, seconded by my own inclination, have induced me to yield my heart and engage my hand to Mr. Sylvanus Farmington, with whose character you are not unacquainted. Next Thursday is the era fixed for our union. O madam, how greatly shall I need a monitor like you! Sensible of my own imperfections, I look forward with diffidence and apprehension, blended with pleasing hopes, to this new and untried state!

Your experienced pen can teach me how to discharge the duties, divide the cares, and enjoy the pleasures, peculiar to the station on which I am entering. Pray extend your benevolence, and communicate your sentiments on female deportment in the connubial relation. Practising upon such a model, I may still be worthy the appellation, which it will ever be my ambition to deserve, of your affectionate friend and pupil,




Indeed, my dear Harriot, you are making an important change of situation; a change interesting to you and your friends; a change which involves not only your own happiness, but the happiness of the worthy man whom you have chosen; of the family, over which you are to preside; and perhaps, too, of that with which you are to be connected.

I rejoice to hear that this connexion, on which so much depends, is not hastily formed; but that it is the result of long acquaintance, is founded on merit, and consolidated by esteem. From characters like yours, mutually deserving and excellent, brilliant examples of conjugal virtue and felicity may be expected. Yet as human nature is imperfect, liable to errors, and apt to deviate from the line of rectitude and propriety, a monitorial guide may be expedient and useful. Your partiality has led you to request this boon of me; but diffidence of my own abilities compels me to decline the arduous task. Nevertheless, I have it happily in my power to recommend an abler instructor, who has written professedly upon the subject. The American Spectator, or Matrimonial Preceptor, lately published by Mr. David West, of Boston, contains all you can 147wish. The judicious compiler has collected and arranged his materials with admirable skill and address. Peruse this book, and you will be at no loss for counsels to direct, and cautions to guard you through the intricate cares and duties of the connubial life. The essays are, chiefly, extracted from the most approved English writers. The productions of so many able pens, properly disposed, and exhibited in a new and agreeable light, must not only be entertaining, but useful to every reader of taste and judgment. I wish this publication to be considered as a necessary piece of furniture by every housekeeper. The editor has certainly deserved well of his country; and Hymen should crown him with unfading garlands.

I shall visit you, my dear Harriot, after the happy knot (for such I flatter myself it will prove) is tied. In the mean time, I subscribe myself, with the most ardent wishes for your prosperity and happiness, your sincere friend,




What think you of wit, Cleora? If you estimate it by the worth of your own, you think 148it an invaluable jewel. But this jewel is variously set. Yours is in the pure sterling gold of good sense: yet, as displayed by some, it glistens on the mere tinsel of gaiety, which will not bear the scrutinizing eye of judgment.

Yesterday I received a visit from a young lady, lately moved into this neighbourhood, who is reputed a wit. Her conversation reminded me of Pope’s satirical remark:

“There are, whom Heaven has bless’d with store of wit;
But want as much again to manage it.”

I found her’s to consist in smart sayings, lively repartees, and ludicrous allusions.

So strong was her propensity to display this talent, that she could not resist any temptation which offered, though it led her to offend against the rules of politeness and generosity. As some persons of real genius were present, topics of literature and morality were discussed. Upon these she was mute as a statue; but whenever the playfulness of her fancy could find a subject, she was extremely loquacious. This induced me to suspect that the brilliance of her imagination had dazzled her understanding, and rendered her negligent of the more solid and useful acquisitions of the mind.

Is it not often the case, that those who are distinguished by any superior endowment, whether personal or mental, are too much elated by the consciousness of their pre-eminence, 149and think it sufficient to counterbalance every deficiency?

This, Mrs. Williams used to say, is owing to the want of self-knowledge; which, if once possessed, will enable us properly to estimate our own characters, and to ascertain with precision wherein we are defective, as well as wherein we excel. But it is the misfortune of us, young people, that we seldom attain this valuable science, till we have experienced many of the ills which result from the want of it. Ambition, vanity, flattery, or some such dazzling meteor, engrosses our attention, and renders us blind to more important qualifications.

But to return to this same wit, of which I was speaking. It is certainly a very dangerous talent, when imprudently managed. None that we can possess tends so directly to excite enmity, or destroy friendship.

An ill-natured wit is of all characters the most universally dreaded. People of this description are always feared, but rarely loved. Humanity and benevolence are essentially necessary to render wit agreeable. Accompanied by these, it cannot fail to please and entertain.

“Wit, how delicious to man’s dainty taste!
’Tis precious as the vehicle of sense;
But as its substitute, a dire disease!
Pernicious talent! flatter’d by mankind,
Yet hated too.————————
Sense is the diamond, weighty, solid, sound;
When cut by wit, it casts a brighter beam;
150Yet, wit apart, it is a diamond still.
Wit, widow’d of good sense, is worse than naught;
It hoists more sail to run against a rock.”

But I believe I cannot give a better proof of my own wit, than to conclude this scribble before your patience is quite exhausted by the perusal. Adieu.




The first moment which I have been able to snatch from the affectionate embraces of my honored mamma, and my dear sister Maria, is devoted to you. Judging by the anxious solicitude of my own heart, I know you are impatient to hear of my safe arrival. It is needless to tell you how cordially I was received. You have witnessed the mutual tenderness which actuates our domestic circle. Where this is the governing principle, it is peculiarly interesting to sensibility. It is extremely exhilarating to the mind to revisit, after the shortest absence, the place of our nativity and juvenile happiness. “There is something so seducing 151in that spot, in which we first had our existence, that nothing but it can please. Whatever vicissitudes we experience in life, however we toil, or wheresoever we wander, our fatigued wishes still recur to home for tranquillity. We long to die in that spot which gave us birth, and in that pleasing expectation opiate every calamity.”[2]

2.  Goldsmith.

The satisfaction of returning home, however, has not obliterated the pleasure which I enjoyed on my visit to you. Does not a change of scene and situation contribute to the happiness of life? The natural love of this variety seems wisely implanted in the human breast; for it enables us to accommodate ourselves with facility to the different circumstances in which we are placed. I believe that no pleasures make so deep an impression on the memory, as those of the first and most innocent period of our lives. With what apparent delight do persons, advanced in years, re-trace their puerile feats and diversions! “The hoary head looks back with a smile of complacency, mixed with regret, on the season when health glowed on the cheek, when lively spirits warmed the heart, and when toil strung the nerves with vigour.”[3]

3.  Knox.

The pleasures of childhood and youth, when regulated by parental wisdom, and sweetened by filial affection and obedience, must be grateful to the recollection at any age: and for this 152plain reason, because innocence and simplicity are their leading traits. How soothing, how animating, then, must be reflection, at the evening of a life, wholly spent in virtue and rectitude!

Pope observes that “Every year is a critique on the last. The man despises the boy, the philosopher the man, and the Christian all.” Happy are those who can take a retrospect of all, with the supporting consciousness that each part has been rightly performed! Adieu.




I am impatient for an opportunity of returning your civilities, my dear Matilda; and if possible, of repaying you some part of the pleasure, which you so liberally afforded me, during my late visit to your hospitable mansion. For this purpose, I must insist on the performance of your promise to spend the winter in town. It is true that I cannot contribute to your amusement in kind. Yet, according to the generally received opinion, that 153variety is necessary to the enjoyment of life, we may find ours mutually heightened by the exchange. Delightful rambles, and hours of contemplative solitude, free from the interruptions of formality and fashion, I cannot insure; but you may depend on all that friendship and assiduity can substitute; and while the bleak winds are howling abroad, a cheerful fireside, and a social circle, may dispel the gloom of the season. The pleasures of our family are very local. Few are sought, in which the understanding and affections can have no share. For this reason, a select, not a promiscuous acquaintance is cultivated. And however unfashionable our practice may be deemed, we can find entertainment, even in the dull hours of winter, without recourse to cards. Almost every other recreation affords some exercise and improvement to the body or mind, or both; but from this neither can result. The whole attention is absorbed by the game. Reason lies dormant, and the passions only are awake. However little is depending, the parties are frequently as much agitated by hope and fear, as if their all were at stake. It is difficult for the vanquished not to feel chagrin; while the victors are gratified at the expense of their friends. But the principal objection with me, is the utter exclusion of conversation; a source of pleasure, and of profit too, for which I can admit nothing as an equivalent. Winter evenings are peculiarly adapted to this rational and refined entertainment. Deprived of 154that variety of scenery, and those beauties of nature, which the vernal and autumnal seasons exhibit, we are obliged to have recourse to the fireside for comfort. Here we have leisure to collect our scattered ideas, and to improve, by social intercourse, and the exertion of our mental powers.

Our sex are often rallied on their volubility: and, for myself, I frankly confess, that I am so averse to taciturnity, and so highly prize the advantages of society and friendship, that I had rather plead guilty to the charge than relinquish them.

“Hast thou no friend to set thy mind a-broach?
Good sense will stagnate. Thoughts shut up, want air,
And spoil, like bales unopen’d to the sun.
Had thought been all, sweet speech had been deny’d;
Speech, thought’s canal! Speech, thought’s criterion too.
Thought, in the mine, may come forth gold or dross;
When coin’d in word, we know its real worth:
If sterling, store it for thy future use;
’Twill buy thee benefit, perhaps renown.
Thought, too, deliver’d, is the more possess’d;
Teaching, we learn; and giving, we retain
The births of intellect: when dumb, forgot.
Speech ventilates our intellectual fire:
Speech burnishes our mental magazine:
Brightens for ornament, and whets for use.”

Come then, Matilda, participate the pleasures, and accelerate the improvement, of your affectionate friend,




Yours of the 9th ult. has just come to hand. It gave me renewed experience of the truth of the observation, that next to the personal presence and conversation, is the epistolary correspondence of a friend. I am preparing, with the most lively sensations of pleasure, to gratify my own wishes, and comply with your polite invitation. The romantic beauty of the rural scenes has forsaken me; and what can so amply compensate for their absence, as the charms you offer?

I envy you nothing which the town affords, but the advantages you derive from the choice of society adapted to your own taste. Your sentiments of the fashionable diversion of card-playing, are, in my view, perfectly just. I believe that many people join in it, because it is the ton, rather than from any other motive. And as such persons generally pay the greatest deference to Lord Chesterfield’s opinions and maxims, I have often wondered how they happened to overlook, or disregard his animadversions upon this subject; and have felt a strong inclination to tell them, that this all-accomplished master of politeness, and oracle of pleasure, expressly says, “All amusements, 156where neither the understanding nor the senses can have the least share, I look upon as frivolous, and the resources of little minds, who either do not think, or do not love to think.”

We had a pretty party here, last evening; and a party it literally was; for it consisted entirely of ladies. This singular circumstance was remarked by one of the company, who, at least, pretended to think it agreeable, because, said she, we can now speak without restraint, or the fear of criticism. I confess that I was not prude enough to acquiesce in her opinion.

Ladies of delicacy and refinement will not countenance or support a conversation, which gentlemen of sense and sentiment can disapprove. As each were formed for social beings, and depend on the other for social happiness, I imagine that society receives its greatest charm from a mutual interchange of sentiment and knowledge.

“Both sexes are reciprocal instruments of each other’s improvement. The rough spirit of the one is tempered by the gentleness of the other, which has likewise its obligations to that spirit. Men’s sentiments contract a milder turn in the company of women, who, on the other hand, find their volatility abated in that of the men. Their different qualities, intermingling, form a happy symphony. From their intimate conjunction, their real advantages must be common and inseparable; and as for those ridiculous wranglings about superiority, they may be reckoned insults to nature, 157and betray a want of a due sense of its wise and gracious dispensations.”[4]

4.  The Ladies’ Friend.

Many ladies affect to think it inconsistent with female reserve, to acknowledge themselves pleased with the company of the other sex; but while such are the objects and advantages of a mixed society, I blush not to own myself desirous of its cultivation. Adieu.




I take the liberty to send you Bennet’s Letters. When my mamma put them into my hand, Sophia, said she, I recommend this book to your attentive perusal. It highly deserves it, and will richly reward your labour. You have, indeed, completed your school education; but you have much yet to learn. Improvements in knowledge are necessarily progressive. The human mind is naturally active and eager in pursuit of information; which 158we have various and continual means of accumulating: but never will you have a more favourable opportunity for the cultivation of your mind, than you now enjoy. You are now free from those domestic cares and avocations, which may hereafter fall to your lot, and occupy most of your time. Speculation must then give place to practice. Be assiduous, therefore, to increase the fund, that it may yield you a competent interest, and afford you a constant resource of support and enjoyment.

With these words she withdrew, while I was still listening to the sweet accents of maternal tenderness and discretion, which vibrated on my ear, even after her departure.

I find it worthy the recommendation of so good a judge. As a moral writer, the precepts and observations of its author are excellent; as a religious one, his piety is exemplary, and his instructions improving. His selection of books, which he deems most proper for our sex, though too numerous, perhaps, may, notwithstanding, assist and direct the young in their course of reading.

Who would not imitate his Louisa? In her he has forcibly displayed the beauties of an amiable disposition, and the advantages which even that may derive from a virtuous and religious education.

These letters are not scholastic and elaborate dissertations; they are addressed to the heart; they are the native language of affection: and they can hardly fail to instil the love 159of virtue into every mind susceptible of its charms.

If you have not read them, I will venture to predict that they will afford you entertainment, as well as instruction; and if you have, they will bear a second perusal. Indeed, every valuable book should be re-perused. On a first reading, our curiosity to know something of all it contains, hurries us forward with a rapidity which outstrips both the memory and judgment.

When this predominant passion is gratified, an attentive review will commonly furnish many useful and important lessons, which had nearly or quite escaped our notice before.

This, by some, is deemed too laborious a task. They prefer company and conversation to reading of any kind; and allege, in defence of their opinion, that a knowledge of the world, and of human nature, together with that ease and gracefulness of manners, which are of the utmost consequence to all who would make a respectable figure in life, are much better obtained in this way, than by the cold and unimpassioned perusal of books.

But is not every acquisition of this sort merely superficial? Need we not a guide, superior to our own judgment and experience, to point out the line of duty and propriety, in the various conditions and relations of our existence?

Our acquaintance with living characters and manners can afford us but a very limited view 160of mankind, in the different periods and stages of society. The inquisitive mind labours to extend its knowledge to the most distant climes and remote antiquity; and craves other materials for the exercise of its reflecting powers, than can be derived from occasional and desultory conversation. Now, by what means can this laudable curiosity be so effectually satisfied, as by the perusal of judicious and well chosen books? Not that I would depreciate the value of good company (for I esteem it highly;) but add its many advantages to those which reading affords. This combination must have a happy tendency to give us possession, both of the virtues and graces; and to render our attainments at once solid and ornamental.

What think you, Caroline? Do you agree with me in opinion? Let me hear from you by the first opportunity; and believe me yours most sincerely.




I thank you, my dear friend, for the book you were so obliging as to send me; and for 161the letter which accompanied it. The book I had read; but as you justly observe, I must be a gainer by a second perusal.

Upon the subject of reading, I perfectly accord with you in sentiment. It is an amusement, of which I was always enthusiastically fond. Mrs. Williams regulated my taste; and, by directing and maturing my judgment, taught me to make it a source of refined and substantial pleasure. I do not wish to pursue study as a profession, nor to become a learned lady; but I would pay so much attention to it, as to taste the delights of literature, and be qualified to bear a part in rational and improving conversation. Indeed, I would treasure up such a fund of useful knowledge, as may properly direct my course through life, and prove an antidote against the vexations and disappointments of the world. I think, Sophia, that our sex stand in special need of such a resource to beguile the solitary hours which a domestic station commonly imposes. Is it not for the want of this that some females furnish a pretext for the accusation (which is illiberally brought against all) of having recourse to scandal, and the sallies of indelicate mirth? Conversation requires a perpetual supply of materials from the mind: and accordingly as the mind has been cultivated or neglected, dignified or degrading subjects will be introduced.

I received a letter yesterday from our lively and lovely friend, Anna Williams. How 162delightfully blended in this charming girl, are vivacity and sentiment, ease and propriety. Adieu.




So often, my dear Maria, has the pen of the divine, the moralist, and the novelist been employed on the subject of female frailty and seduction; and so pathetically has each described the folly and misery of the fatal delusion which involves many in disgrace, that I am astonished when I see those, who have the best means of information, heedlessly sacrificing their reputation, peace and happiness to the specious arts of the libertine! In this case it is common for our sex to rail against the other, and endeavor to excite the pity of the world by painting the advantage which has been taken of their credulity and weakness. But are we not sufficiently apprised of the enemies we have to encounter? And have we not adequate motives to circumspection and firmness?

163I am generally an advocate for my own sex—but when they suffer themselves to fall a prey to seducers, their pusillanimity admits no excuse. I am bold to affirm that every woman, by behaving with propriety on all occasions, may not only resist temptation, but repel the first attempts upon her honor and virtue.

That levity of deportment, which invites and encourages designers, ought studiously to be avoided. Flattery and vanity are two of the most dangerous foes to the sex. A fondness for admiration insensibly throws off their guard, and leads them to listen and give credit to the professions of those who lie in wait to deceive.

The following remarks, though severe, perhaps can hardly be deemed inconsistent with the character which their author assumes.[5] “Women would do well to forbear their declamations against the falsity and wickedness of men; the fault is theirs, to fall into such coarse-spun snares as are laid for them.

5.  The Ladies’ Friend.

“That servile obsequiousness which woman should immediately look upon as the mark of fraud, and which should make them apprehend a surprise, is the very thing which allures them, and renders them soon the victims of perjury and inconstancy; the just punishment of a disposition which fixes their inclinations on superficial qualities. It is this 164disposition which draws after them a crowd of empty fops, who if they have any meaning at all, it is only to deceive. Something pleasing in a man’s person, a giddy air, a perpetual levity, supply the place of valuable endowments.”

A recent and singular adventure has rendered observations of this sort peculiarly striking to my mind; which may account for the subject and the length of this letter.

I will give you a detail of it, though I must conceal the real names of the parties concerned.

Yesterday, the weather being very fine, and the sleighing excellent, several of our family, with two or three friends, were induced to make an excursion a few miles in the country. We stopped at a house which had formerly been a tavern, and in which we had often been well entertained on similar occasions. As we were in haste to receive the benefit of a good fire, we did not notice the removal of the sign, nor advert to the possibility of its being converted into a private mansion. Being very cold, I stepped first out of the sleigh and ran hastily in; leaving the gentlemen to exercise their gallantry with the other ladies. The room I entered had no fire. I therefore opened the door which led to the next apartment, when I beheld the beautiful and admired Clarinda sitting in an easy chair, pale and wan, with an infant in her arms! I stood mute and motionless, till the woman of the house appeared, 165to conduct me to another room. Confusion and shame were visibly depicted in Clarinda’s countenance; and, unable to meet my eye, she threw her handkerchief over her face, and fell back in the chair.

I followed the good woman, and apologising for my intrusion, told her the cause. She recollected my having been there before, and readily excused my freedom.

By this time the rest of the company, who had been shown into a decent parlour, were inquiring for me; and I could scarcely find opportunity to request my conductress to ask Clarinda’s forgiveness in my name, and to assure her of my silence, before I had joined them. I assumed an appearance of cheerfulness very foreign to the feelings of my heart, and related my mistake without any mention of the melancholy discovery I had made. We prevailed on the woman to accommodate us with tea and coffee, as we wished to ride no further. While preparations were making she came in to lay the table, and as she withdrew, gave me a token to follow her; when she informed me that Clarinda had been extremely overcome by my detecting her situation, but being somewhat recovered desired a private interview. I accordingly repaired to her apartment, where I found her bathed in tears. Pity operated in my breast, and with an air of tenderness I offered her my hand; but she withheld hers, exclaiming in broken accents, O no! I am polluted—I have forfeited your 166friendship—I am unworthy even of your compassion.

I begged her to be calm, and promised her that she should suffer no inconvenience from my knowledge of her condition.

She thanked me for my assurances, and subjoined that, since she knew the candor and generosity of my disposition, she would entrust me with every circumstance relative to her shameful fall; when, after a considerable pause, she proceeded nearly in the following words.

“Though our acquaintance has been for some time suspended, and though we have lived in different parts of the town, yet common fame has doubtless informed you that I was addressed by the gay, and to me, too charming Florimel! To the most captivating form, he superadded the winning graces of politeness, and all those insinuating arts which imperceptibly engage the female heart.

“His flattering attentions, and apparent ardour of affection, were to my inexperienced and susceptible mind, proofs of his sincerity; and the effusions of the most lively passion, were returned with unsuspecting confidence.

“My father, strict in his principles, and watchful for my real welfare, disapproved his suit; alleging that although Florimel was calculated to please in the gayer moments of life, he was nevertheless destitute of those sentiments of religion and virtue, which are essentially requisite to durable felicity. But I 167could not be persuaded that he lacked any perfection which maturer years would not give him; and therefore finding my attachment unconquerable, my father reluctantly acquiesced in the proposed connexion. My ill-judged partiality for this ungenerous man absorbed every other passion and pursuit; while he took advantage of my yielding fondness, and assumed liberties which I knew to be inconsistent, with delicacy, but had not resolution to repel. One encroachment succeeded another, and every concession was claimed and granted as a proof of love, till at length he became absolute master of my will and my person. Shame and remorse soon roused me to a sense of my guilt, and I demanded an immediate performance of his promise of marriage. This, under one pretext or another, he constantly evaded. His visits daily became less frequent, and his attentions less assiduous—while the most poignant anguish of mind deprived me of every comfort. I found myself reduced to the humiliating alternative of entreating my seducer to screen me from infamy by the name of wife, though he should never consider or treat me as such. To this he insultingly replied, that my situation must necessarily detect our illicit commerce; and his pride could never brook the reputation of having a wife whose chastity had been sacrificed. As soon as rage and resentment, which at first took from me the power of utterance, would permit, Wretch! exclaimed I, is it not 168to you the sacrifice has been made? Who but you has triumphed over my virtue, and subjected me to the disgrace and wretchedness I now suffer? Was it not in token of my regard for you that I yielded to your solicitations? And is this the requital I am to receive? Base, ungrateful man! I despise your meanness! I detest the ungenerous disposition you betray, and henceforth reject all intercourse and society with you! I will throw myself on the mercy of my injured parents, and renounce you forever.

“Seeing me almost frantic, he endeavored to soothe and appease me. He apologized for the harshness of his language, and even made professions of unabated affection; but gave as a reason for deferring the conjugal union, at present, that commercial affairs obliged him to sail immediately for Europe; assuring me at the same time that on his return he would not fail to renew and consummate the connexion. To this I gave no credit, and therefore made no reply. He then requested me to accept a purse to defray my expenses, during his absence, which I rejected with disdain; and he departed. The distress and despair of my mind were inexpressible. For some days I resigned myself entirely to the agonizing pangs of grief. My parents imputed my dejection to Florimel’s departure, and strove to console me. It was not long, however, before my mother discovered the real cause. In her, resentment gave place to compassion; 169but the anger of my father could not be appeased. He absolutely forbade me his presence for some time; but my mother at length prevailed on him to see, and assure me of forgiveness and restoration to favor, if I would consent to renounce and disown my child; to which, not then knowing the force of maternal affection, I readily consented. This place was privately procured for me, and hither, under pretence of spending a month or two with a friend in the country, I retired. To-morrow my dear babe is to be taken from me! It is to be put to nurse, I know not where! All I am told is, that it shall be well taken care of! Constantly will its moans haunt my imagination, while I am deprived even of the hope of ministering to its wants; but must leave it to execrate the hour which gave it birth, and deprive it of a parent’s attention and kindness.

“As soon as possible, I shall return to my father’s house; and as I am unknown here, and you are the only person, out of our family, who shares the dreadful secret, I flatter myself that my crime may still be concealed from the world. The reproaches of my own mind I can never escape. Conscious guilt will give the aspect of accusation to every eye that beholds me; and however policy may compel me to wear the mask of gaiety and ease, my heart will be wrung with inexpressible anguish by the remembrance of my folly, and always alive to the distressing sensations 170of remorse and shame! Oh Julia! you have witnessed my disgrace! pity and forgive me! Perhaps I once appeared as virtuous and respectable as you now do; but how changed! how fallen! how debased! Learn from my fate to despise the flattery of the worthless coxcomb, and the arts of the abandoned libertine.”

By this time I was summoned to tea; when giving all the consolation in my power to the unhappy Clarinda, I rejoined my company; and to prevent their inquisitiveness about my absence, told them I had been with a sick woman, upon whom I had accidentally intruded when I first came in; and that she had detained me, all this time, by a recital of her complaints and misfortunes. This account satisfied their curiosity; but the melancholy into which my mind had been thrown, was not easily dissipated; nor could I, without doing violence to my feelings, put on the appearance of my usual cheerfulness and ease.

Here my dear Maria, is a picture of the frailty and weakness of our sex! How much reason have we then to “watch, and pray, that we enter not into temptation!”

With affectionate regards to your mamma and sister, I subscribe myself yours most sincerely,




I was much affected by the wo-fraught tale which you gave me in your last. We cannot too much regret that such instances of duplicity and folly are ever exhibited. They are alike disgraceful to both sexes, and demonstrate the debasing and fatal tendency of the passions, when suffered to predominate.

Your observations upon our sex I believe to be just, though many would probably deem them severe. However, I think it not much to the honor of the masculine character, which the God of nature designed for a defence and safeguard to female virtue and happiness, to take advantage of the tender affection of the unsuspecting and too credulous fair; and, in return for her love and confidence, perfidiously to destroy her peace of mind, and deprive her of that reputation which might have rendered her a useful and ornamental member of society. True, we ought to take warning by such examples of treachery and deceit; yet how much more conducive to the honor and happiness of our species, were there no occasion 172to apprehend such ungenerous requitals of our sincerity and frankness.

Yesterday, my mamma took the liberty to read that part of your letter, which contains the story of Clarinda, to her pupils, and to make such comments upon it as the subject suggested; during which we could not but observe the extreme emotion of one of the misses, a most amiable girl of about sixteen. When the paragraph respecting Clarinda’s disowning her child was read, she hastily rose and in broken accents begged leave to withdraw. This was granted without any inquiry into the cause; though our curiosity, as you may well suppose, was much excited. After we were dismissed, my mamma prevailed on her to tell the reason of her agitation.

“I am,” said she, “the illegitimate offspring of parents, whom I am told are people of fortune and fashion. The fear of disgrace overcame the dictates of natural affection, and induced my mother to abandon me in my infancy. She accordingly gave me away, with a large sum of money, which she vainly imagined would procure me kind and good treatment. But unhappily for me the people to whom I was consigned, availed themselves of their security from inspection and inquiry, abused the trust reposed in them, and exposed me to the greatest hardships. As they were persons of vulgar minds and unfeeling hearts, they did not commiserate my friendless condition. My quick sensibility incurred their displeasure or 173derision. I was often insultingly reproached with the misfortune of my birth; while the tears which these ungenerous reflections extorted from me, were either mocked or punished. I had a thirst for knowledge; but they allowed me no time for acquiring it, alleging they could not support me in idleness, but that I must earn my living as they did theirs, by hard labor. Oppressed by these insults, I bore the galling yoke of their authority with the utmost impatience. When screened from observation, my tears flowed without restraint; and the idea of my parents’ cruelty, in thus subjecting me to infamy and wretchedness, continually haunted my imagination. Sometimes I fancied my mother in view, and exposing my tattered raiment, expostulated with her concerning the indignities I suffered, and the unreasonable hardship of leaving me to bear all the punishment of my guilty birth! At other times I painted to myself a father, in some gentleman of pleasing aspect; and fondly indulged the momentary transport of throwing myself at the feet of one, whom I could call by that venerable and endearing name! Too soon, however, did the reverse of parental tenderness awake me from my delusive reveries.

“In this manner I lingered away my existence, till I was twelve years old; when going one day to the house of a gentleman in the neighborhood, to which I was often sent to sell herbs, and other trifles, I was directed 174into the parlor, where the most beautiful sight in nature opened to my view; while the contrast between my own situation, and that of children blessed with affectionate parents, gave me the most painful sensations. The lady of the house was surrounded by her four sons, the eldest of whom was reading lessons, which she most pathetically inculcated upon all. As the door was open, I stood some minutes unobserved; and was so delighted with the tender accents in which her instructions were imparted, and the cheerful obedience with which they were received, that I had no disposition to interrupt them.

“At length I was seen, and bid to come in. But when questioned about my errand I was so absorbed in the contemplation of maternal and filial love, exhibited in this happy group, that my tongue refused utterance, and I burst into tears. The children gathered around and inquired what ailed the poor little girl? But when the lady took me by the hand, and kindly asked what was the matter, I could not restrain or conceal my feelings. When my tears had relieved me, I related the cause of my grief; describing my own situation, and the effect which its contrast had produced on my mind.

“She was affected by my story, and seemed pleased with my sensibility; while the children lamented my misfortunes, and artlessly requested their mamma to let me come and live with them.

175“Little did I then expect so great a favor; but to my surprise as well as joy, Mrs. ——, the lady of whom I have been speaking, and by whom I am put under your care, came a few days after, and asked the people where I lived, if they were willing to part with me. By their consent she took me home, and has ever since treated me like a child.

“I am now happy beyond expression. My gratitude to my benefactress, who, guided by a wise and good Providence, has snatched me from obscurity and misery, and given me so many advantages for improvement, is unbounded.

“But the idea that any helpless innocent should be unnaturally exposed to the sufferings which I have experienced, is insupportably distressing to my imagination.

“Let my story, if possible, be told to Clarinda, that she may be induced to have compassion upon her defenceless offspring.”

You are at liberty, therefore, my dear Julia, to make what use you please of this letter. I shall make no comments upon the subject of it, nor add any thing more to its length, but that I am affectionately yours.



Dear Anna,

My contemplated visit to Harmony-Grove must be deferred. A severe illness has lately confined my mamma to her chamber. This claimed all my time and attention, and called me to a new scene of care; that of a family which I was obliged to superintend during her indisposition. Her recovery has, at length, restored tranquillity and joy to our abode; but she has not yet resumed the direction of her household affairs. To this, she tells me she is reconciled by the hope that experience may render me an adept in domestic economy. Indeed, Anna, I think this an essential branch of female education; and I question whether it can be acquired by mere speculation. To me it is plain that every lady ought to have some practice in the management of a family, before she takes upon herself the important trust.

Do not many of the mistakes and infelicities of life arise from a deficiency in this point?

Young ladies of fashion are not obliged to 177the task, and have too seldom any inclination to perform duties which require so much time and attention; and with which, perhaps, they have injudiciously been taught to connect the idea of servility. Hence it is, that when called to preside over families, they commit many errors, during their novitiate, at least, which are alike detrimental to their interest and happiness. How necessary is it, then, to avoid this complication of evils by a seasonable application to those offices of housewifery, which may one day become our province.

Early rising, I find a great assistance in my present occupation. It is almost incredible how much may be gained by a diligent improvement of those hours which are but too commonly lost in sleep. I arose this morning with the dawn. The serenity of the sky and the fragrance of the air invited me abroad. The calmness which universally prevailed served to tranquillize my mind, while the receding shades of night, and the rising beams of day, formed a contrasted assemblage of the beautiful, the splendid, the solemn, and the sublime. The silence which pervaded the surrounding scenery was interrupted only by the melody of the feathered songsters, who seemed to rejoice in this undisturbed opportunity of praising their maker. My heart expanded with gratitude and love to the all-bountiful Author of nature; and so absorbed was I in the most delightful meditations, that I saw with regret the hour approaching which 178must again call me to the active duties of domestic and social life. These however, are objects of real moment, and cannot innocently be disregarded. They give a relish to amusement, and even to devotion, which neither the dissipated nor the recluse can know. Adieu.




I sincerely thank you for your affectionate letter, by the last post, and for the book with which it was accompanied. The very title is sufficient to rouse the feelings and attract the attention of the patriotic mind. Beacon-Hill claims a conspicuous place in the history of our country. The subject of this poem must be highly interesting to every true American; while the genius it displays cannot fail to gratify every poetical taste. Philenia’s talents justly entitle her to a rank among the literary ornaments of Columbia.

179I have been reviewing Millot’s Elements of Ancient and Modern History; and recommend it to your re-perusal. It is undoubtedly the most useful compendium extant. The tedious minuteness and prolix details of sieges and battles, negotiations and treaties, which fatigue the reader and oppress the memory in most works of the kind, are happily avoided in this; while the elegance, simplicity, conciseness and perspicuity of the style, render it intelligible to every capacity, and pleasing to every taste. To those who have a relish for history, but want leisure to give full scope, Millot is well calculated to afford both information and entertainment. It is an objection, commonly made by our sex to studies of this nature, that they are dry and elaborate; that they yield little or no exercise to the more sprightly faculties of the mind; that the attention is confined to an uninteresting and barren detail of facts, while the imagination pants in vain for the flowery wreaths of decoration.

This is a plausible excuse for those who read only for amusement, and are willing to sacrifice reason, and the enlargement of their minds, to the gaudy phantom of a day; but it can never be satisfactory to the person, who wishes to combine utility with pleasure, and dignity with relaxation.

History improves the understanding, and furnishes a knowledge of human nature and human events, which may be useful as well 180as ornamental through life. “History,” says the late celebrated Gauganelli, “brings together all ages and all mankind in one point of view. Presenting a charming landscape to the mental eye, it gives colour to the thoughts, soul to the actions, and life to the dead; and brings them upon the stage of the world, as if they were again living; but with this difference, that it is not to flatter, but to judge them.”

The duties and avocations of our sex will not often admit of a close and connected course of reading. Yet a general knowledge of the necessary subjects may undoubtedly be gained even in our leisure hours; provided we bestow them not on works of mere taste and fancy, but on the perusal of books calculated to enrich the understanding with durable acquisitions.

The sincerest wishes for your health and happiness glow in the breast of your affectionate




Since I wrote you last, I have made an agreeable visit to my good friend Sylvia Star. After rambling in the fields and gardens till we were fatigued, we went into her brother’s library. He was in a studious attitude, but gave us a polite reception. We are come, Amintor, said I. Be so kind as to furnish us with some instructive page, which combines entertainment and utility; and while it informs the mind, delights the imagination. I am not happy enough to know your taste respecting books, said he; and therefore, may not make a proper selection. Here, however, is an author highly spoken of by a lady who has lately added to the number of literary publications; handing me Sterne’s Sentimental Journey. I closed and returned the book. You have, indeed, mistaken my taste, said I. Wit, blended with indelicacy, never meets my approbation. While the fancy is allured, and the passions awakened, by this pathetic humourist, the foundations of virtue are insidiously undermined, and modest dignity insensibly betrayed. Well, said he, smilingly, perhaps you 182are seriously inclined. If so, this volume of sermons may possibly please you. Still less, rejoined I. The serious mind must turn with disgust from the levity which pervades these discourses, and from the indecent flow of mirth and humour, which converts even the sacred writings, and the most solemn subjects of religion, into frolic and buffoonery. Since such is your opinion of this celebrated writer, said he, I will not insult your feelings by offering you his Tristram Shandy. But here is another wit, famous for his “purity.” Yes, said I, if obscene and vulgar ideas, if ill-natured remarks and filthy allusions by purity, Swift undoubtedly bears the palm from all his contemporaries. As far as grammatical correctness and simplicity of language can deserve the epithet, his advocates may enjoy their sentiments unmolested; but in any other sense of the word, he has certainly no claim to “purity.” I conceive his works, notwithstanding, to be much less pernicious in their tendency, than those of Sterne. They are not so enchanting in their nature, nor so subtle in their effects. In the one, the noxious insinuations of licentious wit are concealed under the artful blandishments of sympathetic sensibility; while we at once recoil from the rude assault which is made upon our delicacy, by the roughness and vulgarity of the other.

Choose then, said Amintor, for yourself. I availed myself of his offer, and soon fixed my eyes upon Dr. Belknap’s History of New Hampshire, 183and American Biography; both of which I have since read with the greatest satisfaction.

By this judicious and impartial historian, we are led from its first settlement to trace the progress of the infant colony. We accompany its inhabitants in their enterprizes, their dangers, their toils, and their successes. We take an interest in their prosperity; and we tremble at the dreadful outrages of the barbarous foe. Our imagination is again recalled to the gradual advance of population and agriculture. We behold the wilderness blooming as the rose, and the haunts of savage beasts, and more savage men, converted into fruitful fields and pleasant habitations. The arts and sciences flourish; peace and harmony are restored; and we are astonished at the amazing contrast, produced in little more than a century.

When we return to the American Biography, gratitude glows in our bosoms towards those intrepid and active adventurers, who traversed a trackless ocean, explored an unknown region, and laid the foundation of empire and independence in this western hemisphere. The undaunted resolution, and cool, determined wisdom of Columbus, fill us with profound admiration. We are constrained to pay a tribute of just applause to the generosity of a female mind exemplified in Isabella, who, to surmount every obstacle, nobly consented to sacrifice even her personal ornaments 184to the success of this glorious expedition.

The daring spirit of Captain Smith, and the prudence, policy and magnanimity of his conduct to the treacherous natives, and to his equally treacherous and ungrateful countrymen, exhibit an example of patriotism and moderation, which at once commands our applause, and interests our feelings. While we tremble and recoil at his dreadful situation, when bending his neck to receive the murderous stroke of death, the native virtues of our sex suddenly reanimate our frame; and with sensations of rapture, we behold compassion, benevolence, and humanity, triumphant even in a savage breast; and conspicuously displayed in the conduct of the amiable though uncivilized Pocahontas! Nor are the other characters in this work uninteresting; and I am happy to find that the same masterly pen is still industriously employed for the public good;[6] and that a second volume of American Biography is now in press.

6.  How vain are our expectations! While the types were setting for this very page, Dr. Belknap suddenly expired in a fit.—Printer.

In reviewing this letter, I am astonished at my own presumption, in undertaking to play the critic. My imagination has outstripped my judgment; but I will arrest its career, and subscribe myself most affectionately yours.




I retired, after breakfast this morning, determined to indulge myself in my favorite amusement, and write you a long letter. I had just mended my pen and folded my paper, when I was informed that three ladies waited for me in the parlor. I stepped down and found Lucinda P——, Flavia F——, and Delia S——. They were gaily dressed, and still more gaily disposed. “We called,” said they, “to invite you, Miss Maria, to join our party for a shopping tour.” Loath to have the ideas dissipated, which I had collected in my pericranium, for the purpose of transmitting to a beloved sister, I declined accepting their invitation; alleging that I had no occasion to purchase any thing to day; and therefore begged to be excused from accompanying them. They laughed at my reason for not engaging in the expedition. “Buying,” said their principal speaker, “is no considerable part of our plan, I assure you. Amusement is what we are after. We frankly acknowledge it a delightful gratification of our vanity, to traverse Cornhill, to receive the 186obsequious congees, and to call forth the gallantry and activity of the beaux, behind the counter; who, you must know, are extremely alert when we belles appear. The waving of our feathers, and the attractive airs we assume, command the profoundest attention, both of master and apprentices; who, duped by our appearance, suffer less brilliant customers to wait, or even to depart without notice, till we have tumbled over and refused half the goods in the shop. We then bid a very civil adieu; express our regret at having given so much trouble; are assured in return that it has been rather a pleasure; and leave them their trouble for their pains.”

A most insignificant amusement this, said I to myself! How little can it redound to the honor and happiness of these unthinking girls, thus to squander their time in folly’s giddy maze! They undoubtedly wish to attract eclat; but they would do well to remember those words of the satirist, which, with the alteration of a single term, may be applied to them.

“Columbia’s daughters, much more fair than nice,
Too fond of admiration, lose their price!
Worn in the public eye, give cheap delight
To throngs, and tarnish to the sated sight.”

Viewing their conduct in this light, I withstood their solicitations, though I palliated my refusal in such a manner as to give no umbrage.

187Of all expedients to kill time, this appears to me, as I know it will to you, the most ridiculous and absurd.

What possible satisfaction can result from such a practice? It certainly fatigues the body; and is it any advantage to the mind? Does it enlarge the understanding, inspire useful ideas, or furnish a source of pleasing reflection? True, it may gratify a vitiated imagination, and exhilarate a light and trifling mind. But these ought to be restrained and regulated by reason and judgment, rather than indulged.

I wish those ladies, who make pleasure the supreme object of their pursuit, and argue in vindication of their conduct, that

“Pleasure is good, and they for pleasure made,”

would confine themselves to that species which

“Neither blushes nor expires.”

The domestic virtues, if duly cultivated, might certainly occupy those hours, which they are now solicitous to dissipate, both with profit and delight. “But it is time enough to be domesticated,” say they, “when we are placed at the head of families, and necessarily confined to care and labor.”

Should not the mind, however, be seasonably inured to the sphere of life which Providence assigns us?

188“To guide the pencil, turn th’ instructive page;
To lend new flavor to the fruitful year,
And heighten nature’s dainties; in their race
To rear their graces into second life;
To give society its highest taste;
Well-ordered home man’s beet delight to make;
And, by submissive wisdom, modest skill,
With every gentle care eluding art,
To raise the virtues, animate the bliss,
And sweeten all the toils of human life;
This be the female dignity and praise.”

A proper attention to these necessary duties and embellishments, would not only correct this rambling disposition, but happily leave neither leisure nor temptation for its indulgence.

I intended to have given you some account of my agreeable visit here; but the chit-chat of the ladies I have mentioned, has occupied a large portion of my time this morning, and an engagement to dine abroad claims the rest.

I hope soon to embrace you in our beloved retirement, and again to enjoy the sweets of my native home.

“Had I the choice of sublunary good,
What could I wish that I possess not there?
Health, leisure, means t’ improve it, friendship, peace.”

My most dutiful affections await mamma; and my kind regards attend the young ladies residing with her. How great a share of my ardent love is at your command, need not be renewedly testified.




The extracts which you transmitted to me in your last letter, my dear Sophia, from your favorite author, Dr. Young, corresponded exactly with the solemnity infused into my mind by the funeral of a neighbor, from which I had just returned.

I agree with you that the Night-Thoughts are good devotional exercises. It is impossible to read them with that degree of attention which they merit, without being affected by the important and awful subjects on which they treat. But Young, after all, is always too abstruse, and in many instances too gloomy for me. The most elaborate application is necessary to the comprehension of his meaning and design; which when discovered often tend rather to depress than to elevate the spirits.

Thompson is much better adapted to my taste. Sentiment, elegance, perspicuity and sublimity are all combined in his Seasons. What an inimitable painter! How admirably he describes the infinitely variegated beauties and operations of nature! To the feeling and susceptible heart they are presented in the strongest light. Nor is the energy of his language 190less perceivable, when he describes the Deity riding on the wings of the wind, and directing the stormy tempest.

“How chang’d the scene! In blazing height of noon,
The sun oppress’d, is plunged in thickest gloom,
Still horror reigns, a dismal twilight round,
Of struggling night and day malignant mix’d,
Far to the hot equator crowding fast,
Where highly rarefy’d, the yielding air,
Admits their stream, incessant vapours roll,
Amazing clouds on clouds continual heap’d;
Or whirl’d tempestuous by the gusty wind,
Or silent, borne along, heavy and slow,
With the big stores of streaming oceans charg’d:
Meantime, amid these upper sea’s condens’d
Around the cold aerial mountain’s brow,
And by conflicting winds together dash’d,
The thunder holds his black tremendous throne,
From cloud to cloud the rending lightnings rage;
Till in the furious elemental war
Dissolve the whole precipitated mass,
Unbroken floods and torrents pours.”

Conscious of our own weakness and dependence, we can hardly fail to adore and to fear that Divine Power, whose agency this imagery exhibits to our minds. Nor are the devout affections of our hearts less excited, when we behold the same glorious Being arrayed in love, and accommodating the regular succession of summer and winter, seed time and harvest to our convenience and comfort. When nature, obedient to his command, revives the vegetable world, and diffuses alacrity and joy throughout the animal, and even rational creation, we involuntarily exclaim with the

191Hail, source of being! Universal soul
Of heaven and earth! Essential Presence, hail!
To Thee I bend the knee; to Thee my thoughts
Continual climb; who, with a master hand,
Hast the great whole into perfection touch’d.
By Thee various vegetative tribes,
Wrapt in a filmy net and clad with leaves,
Draw the live ether, and imbibe the dew.
By Thee disposed into cogenial foils,
Stands each attractive plant, and sucks, and swells
The juicy tide; a twining mass of tubes.
At Thy command, the vernal sun awakes
The torpid sap, detruded to the root
By wintry winds; which now in fluent dance,
And lively fermentation, mounting spreads
All this inumerous-colour’d scene of things.”

Aided in our observations by this pathetic and pious writer, our hearts beat responsive to the sentiments of gratitude, which he indirectly, yet most forcibly inculcates in that devout address to the Supreme Parent:

“——Were every faltering tongue of man,
Almighty Father! silent in thy praise,
Thy works themselves would raise a general voice,
Even in the depth of solitary woods,
By human foot untrod: proclaim the power,
And to the quire celestial Thee resound,
Th’ eternal cause, support, and End of all!”

By this beautiful poem we are allured to the study of nature, and to the contemplation of nature’s God. Our hearts glow with devotion and love to the sovereign Lord and benefactor of the universe; and we are drawn, by the innumerable displays of his goodness, to the practice of virtue and religion.

192You may, possibly call me an enthusiast. Be it so. Yet I contend for the honor, but especially for the privilege, of being a cheerful one. For I think we dishonor our heavenly father by attaching any thing gloomy or forbidding to his character. In this participation of divine blessings, let us rather exercise a thankful, and contented disposition.

I remain your’s most affectionately.




By her desire in conjunction with my own inclination, I inform you that Harriot Henly, is no more——Yesterday she gave her hand, and renounced her name together; threw aside the sprightly girl we have been so long accustomed to admire, and substituted in her place the dignified and respectable head of a family, in Mrs. Farmington.

Have I not lost my amiable friend and associate! 193Will not her change of situation tend to lessen our intercourse, and alienate our affections?

When I contemplate the social circle, so firmly cemented in the bands of friendship, at the boarding school, where the most perfect harmony, ease and satisfaction presided, I recoil at the idea of becoming less dear, less interesting, and less necessary to each other. It is with the utmost reluctance that I admit the idea of rivals to that affection and benevolence which we have, so long, and so sincerely interchanged.

The charm however is broken. Harriot is already married; and my friends are extremely solicitous that I should follow her example. But in a connexion which requires so many precautions, before it is formed, and such uninterrupted circumspection and prudence afterwards; the great uncertainty of the event inspires me with timidity and apprehension.

Harriot put into my hands, and I read with pleasure, the book which you recommended to her on the subject. But still we wished for your instruction and advice. The sentiments of a person so dear and interesting to us, are particularly calculated to engage our attention, and influence our conduct. Relying, too, on your judgment and experience, your forming pen may render us more worthy objects of attachment.

We, however, unite in assuring you of our 194gratitude for all past favours; and in presenting our sincere regards to the young ladies.

I am, with great respect, your affectionate and grateful




The obligations under which you lay me, by your generous confidence, and affectionate expressions of regard, induce me again to assume the Preceptress towards you, and to gratify your wishes, by imparting my sentiments on your present situation and prospects.

I am told by my daughter, who had the honor of bearing your letter, that you are what I always expected you would be, an object of general admiration. Yet, I trust, your good sense will enable you duly to distinguish and treat the several candidates for your favor.

195It is, indeed, my young friend, a matter of the most serious consequence, which lies upon your mind, and awakens your anxiety. Your friends are studious of your welfare, and kindly concerned that the important die on which the happiness of your life depends, should be judiciously cast. You doubtless remember, that I discoursed upon this subject in my concluding lessons to your class.

Disparity of tempers, among other things which were then suggested, and which you will doubtless recollect, was represented, as tending to render life uncomfortable. But there are other disparities which may be equally hostile to your peace.

Disparity of years is very apt to occasion the indulgence of passions destructive of conjugal felicity. The great difference between the sprightly vivacity, and enterprise of youth, and the deliberate caution, phlegmatic coldness, and sententious wisdom of age render them very unpleasant companions to each other. Marriage between persons of these opposite descriptions is commonly the result of pecuniary motives, with one party, at least: the suspicion of this, in the other, must necessarily produce discontent, uneasiness, and disaffection.

Age is naturally jealous of respect, and apprehensive of being slighted. The most trifling and unmeaning inattentions will therefore be construed amiss. For an excessive desire of being objects of supreme regard is almost invariably 196accompanied with a strong persuasion of being the reverse. Hence accusations, reproaches and restraints, on the one side, produce disgust, resentment and alienation on the other, till mutual and unceasing wretchedness ensue. Indeed, where interest alone, without this inequality of years, is the principal inducement, marriage is seldom happy. Esteem and love are independent of wealth and its appendages. They are not to be sold or bought. The conjugal relation is so near and interesting, the mind as well as the person is so intimately concerned in it, that something more substantial and engaging than gold is requisite to make it a blessing.

Marriage, being the commencement of a domestic life, beside the many agreeable circumstances attending it, has its peculiar cares and troubles which require the solace of a companion actuated by better principles, and possessed of more amiable endowments than outward splendor and magnificence can afford. In the hour of sickness and distress, riches it is true, can bestow bodily comforts and cordials; but can they be made an equivalent for the tender sympathy, the endearing kindness, and the alleviating attention of a bosom friend, kindly assiduous to ease our pains, animate our prospects, and beguile the languid moments which elude all other consolations? The sorrows as well as the joys of a family state, are often such as none but a bosom friend can participate. The heart 197must be engaged before it can repose with ease and confidence. To a lady of sensibility, the confinement of the body, without the consent and union of according minds, must be a state of inexpressible wretchedness.

Another situation, not less to be deplored, is a connexion with the immoral and profane.

How shocking must it be, to hear that sacred NAME, which you revere and love, constantly treated with levity and irreverence! And how painful the necessity of being constrained, for the sake of peace, to witness in silence, and without even the appearance of disapprobation, the most shameful outrages upon religion and virtue! May you never taste the bitterness of this evil.

Intemperance is a vice, which one would imagine no lady would overlook in a suitor. But, strange to tell! there are those even among our own sex, who think and speak of inebriation in the other, at the jovial and well furnished board, as a mark of conviviality and good fellowship.

How degrading and how dreadful must this enormity appear to an interested, affectionate and virtuous wife! What agonizing pangs of mortification and anguish must she endure, when she meets him, in whose society she delights; whose return she has anticipated with impatience, and whose happiness and honor are the moving springs of her life, intoxicated with wine; the powers of his mind suspended by the poisonous cup, and every faculty absorbed 198in the deadly draught! What a perpetual source of dread and apprehension must hence arise; and how often must the blush of indignant virtue and wounded delicacy be called forth.

The gamester is an equally dangerous companion. His family is robbed, not only of his company and his talents, but of that property, to the benefit of which they have an indisputable claim. His earnings are squandered among worthless and profligate associates abroad; while the fruitful partner of his life, and perhaps, too, a rising offspring, languish at home for want of bread!

How fatal is the tendency of such examples! How can that father inculcate the duties of piety, virtue and decency, who exhibits the reverse of each in his own conduct? And under what an unspeakable disadvantage, must that mother labor, in the instruction and education of her children, whose admonitions, counsels, and directions are practically counteracted by him who ought to bear an equal share of the burden! The government and superintendence of a family are objects of such magnitude and importance, that the union and co-operation of its heads are indispensably necessary. It is a little commonwealth; and if internal feuds and dissentions arise, anarchy and confusion must ensue.

Domestic happiness is the foundation of every other species. At times, indeed, we may enjoy ourselves abroad, among our friends—but 199a good heart will return home, as to the seat of felicity.

“——Home is the resort
Of love, of joy, of peace and plenty, where
Supporting and supported, polish’d friends
And dear relations mingle into bliss.”

Since so much, then, depends upon a judicious choice, how important is it, that you examine well before you decide; and that you dispense with no quality in the man to whom you shall give your hand, which is essential to the virtue and happiness of your life. For this purpose, consult your judgment rather than your fancy; and suffer not superficial accomplishments, but solid merit to preponderate.

I have now endeavored to point out the most apparent and threatening dangers to which you may be exposed. But though these are avoided, many unforeseen accidents will doubtless occur to cloud your sanguine hopes. These, when there are no vices to produce them, may arise from follies, and from the indulgence of erroneous expectations. Little misunderstandings sometimes occasion disagreements which terminate in coldness and disaffection, and plant a root of bitterness which can hardly be eradicated.

Let prudence, therefore, be your pole-star, when you enter the married state. Watch with the greatest circumspection over yourself; and always exercise the tenderest affection, 200the most unwearied patience, and the most cheerful acquiescence in the treatment of your companion. Guard especially against being affected by those little inattentions and foibles, which too often give pain and umbrage without design; and produce those remonstrances, criminations, and retorts, which are the great inlets of strife, and bane of love.

You must bear with calmness, every thing that the sincerest desire of peace can dictate; and studiously avoid every expression, and even look, which may irritate and offend. Your own happiness, you will consider so intimately connected with that of your husband, as to be inseparable; and consequently, that all your hopes of comfort in this life, and perhaps too, in the next, depend upon your conducting with propriety and wisdom towards him.

I take the liberty, through you, to convey my congratulations to Mrs. Farmington. May her change of condition be happy, to the full extent of our most sanguine expectations, and benevolent wishes. I fully intended writing her on the subject, but having unwarily bestowed so much time upon you, that for the present, I must forego the pleasure. Some things in this letter, which you will doubtless communicate, are applicable to her case. These she will receive as friendly hints from me; and I am confident that her known discretion will continue to shed a benign and engaging 201influence upon her whole deportment and render her uniformly respected and beloved.

The bearer is waiting, and I can only add, that I remain your sincere and affectionate friend.




The pleasing hope with which you inspired me, when we parted last, of receiving a visit from you in town, has been constantly cherished. I have anticipated your arrival with the utmost impatience; but have endeavored, notwithstanding, to beguile the slow-paced hours by a useful and pleasing occupation; the revision of my geographical studies.

My papa has kindly procured me Doctor Morse’s last and much improved edition of Universal Geography, which with the assistance of a pair of globes he possessed, has 202afforded me the most delightful entertainment. When at school, I thought this the most agreeable study allotted me; never deeming it a task, but an amusement.

It affords me, as it must every true American, the sincerest pleasure to be furnished with the means of acquiring this favorite science, by my own countryman; and the spirit of Columbian independence exults in my bosom, at the idea of being able to gain an accurate acquaintance with my own and other countries, without recourse to the labors of foreigners.

I think the present generation are under special obligations to the active industry of Dr. Morse, in providing us with that necessary and rich fund of information, which his Geography and Gazeteer contain. From these sources we may derive a sufficient knowledge of the world we inhabit, without departing from our domestic sphere.

Come then, my dear Cleora, and without fatigue or expense, we will make the tour of the globe together. After investigating the local situation of different and distant climes, we will turn to the historic page, and examine the manners, government, character and improvements of their inhabitants. We will traverse the frozen wastes of the frigid zones, and the burning sands of the equatorial region; then return and bless the temperate and happy medium in which we are placed; and casting an eye around, exult in our peculiar 203advantages of soil and situation, peace and good government, virtue and religion.

The fine mornings of this season afford many delightful hours, before the heat of the day relaxes the mind and enervates the body. Come, then, enjoy and improve these, in concert with your faithful and affectionate friend,




Last Thursday, after having concluded the usual occupations and sedentary amusements of the day, I walked out, towards evening, to enjoy the benefit of a cool and fragrant air, and the serenity and beauty of those rural scenes which have a powerful tendency to soothe and tranquillize the mind. When I had rambled in the fields to a considerable distance, I crossed into the road, to return home free from the inconvenience of the dew, which had begun to fall.

204I had not proceeded far, when I observed a female, who had the appearance of youth and misfortune, sitting by the wall in a pensive attitude, with an infant in her lap. When I approached her, she arose, and in the most humble and pathetic accents, besought me to direct her to some shelter, where she might repose her weary limbs for the night. The aspect and language of distress awakened my compassion. To know she really needed charity, was a sufficient inducement with me to bestow it, without scrupulously inquiring whether she deserved it or not. I therefore told her to follow me, and I would conduct her to a lodging.

As we walked on, I questioned her respecting the place of her nativity, her parentage, and the reason of her being reduced to the situation in which I had found her. She informed me that she was born in Ireland: that her parents brought her into this country before her remembrance; that while she was very young, they both died, and left her to the protection and mercy of strangers; that she was bandied one from another, in the village where Providence had cast her lot, till she was able to earn her own living: “and since that time,” said she, “I believe the character of an honest and industrious girl will not be refused me.” How then, said I, came you by this incumbrance? pointing to the child. “In that,” replied she, “I am very guilty. Brought up in ignorance of those 205principles of decency, virtue, and religion, which have kept you innocent, Madam, I was ruined by a deceitful man, who, under the mask of love, and with the most solemn promises of marriage, betrayed my confidence, and left me to reap the bitter fruits of my credulity. The woman where I lived, when she discovered my situation, ordered me to leave her house immediately. It was no matter, said she, how much I suffered, or what became of me. On my own head, she told me, my iniquity should fall; she would not lighten the burden, if it were in her power.

“Some of the neighbors informed me, that she had reason to be severe upon my fault, being once in the same condemnation herself.

“Having no friend who could assist me, I applied to the selectmen of the town, who provided for me till I was able to work, and then told me I must shift for myself; offering, however, to keep the child, which I refused, being determined that it should never suffer for want of a mother’s care, while I had life.

“I am now wandering in pursuit of employment, that the labor of my hands may support myself and little one. This has been often denied me, either for fear my child should be troublesome, or because my character was suspected. I have sometimes suffered so much from fatigue and want, that I have despaired of relief, and heartily wished both myself and babe in the grave.”

206On examination, I found her knowledge confined entirely to domestic drudgery; that she had never been taught either to read or write. She appears, notwithstanding, to have good natural sense; and a quickness of apprehension, and readiness of expression, seldom equalled in her sphere of life.

I conducted her into the kitchen, and desired she might have supper and a bed provided for her. My mamma, whose benevolent heart and liberal hand are always ready to relieve the necessitous, was pleased to approve my conduct; and having kept her through the next day, and observed her disposition and behaviour, hired her as a servant; and we have reason to believe, from her apparent fidelity and grateful exertions, that our kindness will be well repaid. I have even extended my charity further, and undertaken to teach her to read. She is very tractable; and I expect to be amply rewarded for my labor, by her improvements.

Indeed, Matilda, it is melancholy to see our fellow-creatures reared up, like the brute creation; neither instructed how to live above their animal appetites, nor how to die as Christians, when they have finished their toilsome career!

This girl is only seventeen. Her age, therefore, as well as her docility and submissiveness, encourage the pleasing hope of restoring her to the paths of rectitude and peace. I shall endeavor, as opportunity offers, to instil 207into her susceptible mind, the principles of virtue and religion; and, perhaps, I may lead her to the love and practice of both, and render her a useful member of society. Her fate impresses more forcibly than ever, on my mind, the importance of a good education, and the obligations it confers. Had you or I been subjected to the same ignorance, and the same temptations, who can say that we should have conducted better? How many fall for want of the directing hand of that parental love and friendship, with which we are blessed! Contrasting our situation with hers, how much have we to account for, and how inexcusable shall we be, if we violate our duty, and forfeit our dignity, as reasonable creatures.

That extreme bitterness and acrimony, which is sometimes indulged against persons who are unhappily seduced from the way of virtue, may operate as a discouragement to all designs and endeavors to regain it; whereas, the soothing voice of forgiveness, and the consequent prospect of being restored to reputation and usefulness, might rouse the attention, and call forth the exertions of some, at least, who through despair of retrieving their characters, abandon themselves to vice, and adopt a course, alike disgraceful to their sex, and to human nature.

But though I advocate the principles of philanthropy and Christian charity, as extending to some very special cases, I am far 208from supposing this fault generally capable of the least extenuation. Whatever allowance may be made for those, whose ignorance occasions their ruin, no excuse can be offered for others, whose education, and opportunities for knowing the world and themselves, have taught them a better lesson.

I need not, however, be at the pains to enforce this truth upon you: and, as my head is so full of the subject, that I have no disposition to write upon any thing else, I will put an end to this incoherent scroll, by annexing the name of your sincere and faithful friend,




Happening to be in my chamber, this morning, the maid came running up stairs in such violent haste, as to put herself fairly out of breath. Will you be so kind, Miss Sophia, said 209she, as to lend me a quarter of a dollar? I put my hand into my pocket, and found I had no small change. I have nothing less than a dollar, Susan, said I; but if it is a matter of consequence to you, I will go to my mamma, and procure it for you. She was loath to give me that trouble; but, if I would, it would really oblige her very much indeed. Her solicitude excited my curiosity. Will you inform me what you want it for? said I. O yes; she believed it was no harm—But there was a woman in the wood-house who told fortunes; and she wished to know hers, but could not without the money. A woman who tells fortunes! said I. What fortunes? the past or the future? The future, to be sure, Ma’am, replied she. Ay, how does she know them? said I. Has she been let into the secret designs of Providence? or can she divine the mysteries of fate? She tells fortunes by cards, Ma’am, said she; and I really believe she tells true. Can you imagine, said I, that a knowledge of your destiny in life, is to be gained from any possible arrangement of a pack of cards? Why not Ma’am? Many people have been told exactly what was to happen. You may depend on it, Susan, said I, you are deceived. The Almighty who disposes all events according to his sovereign pleasure, does not unveil futurity to mortals, especially to such mortals, who by an idle, vicious course of life, counteract his laws, and disregard his authority. I would willingly 210give you the money, twice told, if you needed it; but I cannot consent to your being imposed on by this worthless vagrant, who has no other design than to pick your pocket.

The girl departed at these words; and though I felt an emotion of regret at refusing to gratify her, yet my reason and conscience forbad my being accessary to the fraud.

This curiosity to explore the hidden counsels of the Most High, prevails not only among servants, but even many from whom better things might be expected, are under its infatuating influence.

The Supreme Being has, for wise and benevolent reasons, concealed from us the future incidents of our lives. A humble reliance on his power and goodness, accompanied with a cheerful submission to the dispensations of his providence, is what the Lord our God requireth of us.

I have heard my mamma relate an anecdote of a particular friend of hers, who was imposed on very seriously in this way.

A gentleman, whom I shall call Sylvander, was very deeply in love with her; but his person, and, much more, his disposition and manners, were extremely disgusting to her. Averse to the very idea of a connexion with him, she accordingly refused his addresses. Yet he had art sufficient to interest her friends in his behalf; who, pitying his situation, endeavored to soften the heart of the obdurate fair. But in vain they strove to conciliate her affections.

211In defiance of all opposition, however, he intruded his visits, till she reluctantly admitted them; and being somewhat coquetish, she at times received him more benignly; which flattered his hopes of ultimately accomplishing his wishes. Finding his ardent suit of but little avail, and perceiving that he made but small progress towards gaining her favor, he had recourse to art. Surprising her one day in close confabulation with a fortune-teller, the idea immediately struck him, that he might effect, through this mean, what all his assiduity and solicitations could never insure. He communicated his plan to a female friend, who was equally the confident of both parties. Directed by him, she conversed with Sylvia on the subject; professed her belief in the skill of these jugglers; and appeared desirous of taking this measure to learn her fate. Sylvia joined in her opinion and wishes; and away they tripped together on the important errand. Meanwhile, Sylvander had been to the fellow who was to reveal their destinies? and, bribing him to favor the design, left him instructed what answers to make to their interrogations.

They arrived and proposed their business. The mediums of information, a pack of cards, were brought forth, and mysteriously arranged. Sylvia’s curiosity was on tip-toe. She listened with profound attention to his oracular wisdom; and believed him really inspired when he told her that her former lover, for-whom 212she had a great regard, was gone to a foreign country. This she knew to be true and therefore gave him a full credence, when he added, that he would never live to return; and when he proceeded still further to observe that another gentleman of great merit now courted her; that she was not fond of his addresses, but would soon see his worth and her own error, and give him her hand, and be happy.

In short, he so artfully blended the past and present, which she knew, with the future which Sylvander wished, and had therefore dictated, that she was firmly persuaded that he dealt with some invisible power, and that fate had indeed predestined her to the arms of Sylvander. Convinced of this, she attended to his overtures more placidly, contemplated his person and endowments with less aversion, and endeavored to reconcile herself to the unavoidable event.

This she effected; and not long after, he obtained her in marriage, and triumphed in the success of his duplicity.

In process of time her other lover returned. Disappointment and despair presided in his breast. He saw Sylvia, upbraided her with her inconstancy, and declared himself utterly ruined. Pity and returning love operated in her mind, and rendered her completely wretched. She most severely condemned her own folly, in listening to the dictates of a misguided curiosity; and acknowledged herself justly 213punished, for presuming to pry in the secret designs of Heaven.

These strolling pretenders to foreknowledge are peculiarly dangerous to the weak-minded and credulous part of the community; and how it happens that they are encouraged, is to me inconceivable. Did they actually give the information they promise, how much reason should we have to avoid them! How many sources of grief would be opened, by the anticipation of future evils, of which now we have no apprehension! and how often should we be deprived of the consolatory hope of a speedy deliverance from present sufferings.

With every sentiment of respect and affection, I am most sincerely yours.




A most melancholy and distressing event has spread a gloom over the face of the metropolis. 214Every heart heaves the sympathetic sigh, and every eye drops the tear of regret. The very sudden death of Doctor Clarke, who was seized with an apoplectic fit, in the midst of his sermon, yesterday afternoon, and expired this morning, is a subject of universal lamentation.

Not only we, who had the happiness to sit under his ministry, and to enjoy his particular friendship and attention, but the whole town; and, indeed, the public at large have sustained a great loss in his departure. Amiable in his disposition, engaging in his manners, and benevolent in his whole deportment, he conciliated the affections of every class. His talents as a scholar, philosopher, and divine, commanded the respect of the most judicious and learned; while the elegance, perspicuity and delicacy of his style, joined with the undissembled seriousness of his manner, rendered him uniformly acceptable to the devout. In every condition and relation of life, he was exemplary as a Christian; and as a preacher, an air of persuasion invariably accompanied him, which arrested the attention of the most heedless auditors.

——“By him, in strains as sweet
As angels use, the gospel whisper’d peace.
Grave, simple and sincere: in language plain:
And plain in manner. Decent, solemn, chaste
And natural in gesture. Much impress’d
Himself as conscious of his awful charge,
And anxious mainly that the flock he fed
Might feel it too. Affectionate in look,
215And tender in address, as well becomes
A messenger of grace to guilty men.”

He was particularly attractive to young people. While he charmed their ear, he convinced their understanding and excited them to the love and practice of virtue.

A striking example of this occurred some years ago, which I will take the liberty to relate. He preached in a neighboring church on these words, “She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.”[7] In this discourse he painted those allurements of pleasure which surround the young and gay; more especially of our sex, in the most just and lively colours. He represented, in pathetic, engaging and refined language, the snares to which they are exposed, and the most probable means of escaping them. He exhibited with all their attractions, the native charms of virtue, and portrayed vice in its true deformity. He described in the most animating terms, the respectability, usefulness, and happiness of those who undeviatingly adhere to the path of rectitude and innocence; and with the most energetic and affectionate tenderness, warned the youth to avoid the devious walks of vice and dissipation.

7.  1 Timothy, v. 6.

A number of young ladies, who had been his hearers, happening to be together in the evening, united in the wish to express their gratitude to him; but not having a personal 216acquaintance with him, could devise no better method than writing.

The following anonymous letter was accordingly penned by one of the company, and privately conveyed to the Doctor, at the request of all.

Reverend sir,

“The well known candour of your disposition, and your apparent zeal for the promotion of religion and virtue, embolden us to flatter ourselves that you will pardon this method of conveying to you our sincere and united thanks for your very seasonable, judicious, and useful discourse, delivered last Sunday morning, at our meeting.

“It is much to be lamented, that the depravity of the age is such, as to render sermons of this nature just and necessary; and it is almost matter of equal regret, that we have so seldom opportunities of being benefitted by them.

“That we oftener hear than receive instruction, is a truth which can neither be denied or evaded; and can only be accounted for, by that passionate fondness for pleasure, which prevails to such a degree of enthusiasm, as to precipitate its votaries into whatever presents 217itself under this deluding aspect, without considering whether it be durable or fleeting.

“It is certainly a most humiliating reflection, that our sex (which is the female) should ever take more pains to gain the qualifications of agreeable triflers than of rational friends; or be more anxious to become amusing, than useful companions. But sir, does not such conduct in ladies too often receive the most flattering encouragement from the gentlemen? How seldom is intrinsic merit distinguished; and the serious, prudent female preferred even by those who style themselves men of sense and penetration, to the airy, flaunting coquette!

“The constant attention which is paid to those who make the gayest appearance, and the applause which is lavished upon her who has the largest portion of external graces and fashionable embellishments, induce many who entertain the good natured desire of pleasing to bestow more of their time and care on the cultivation of those superficial accomplishments, which they find necessary to render them acceptable to most circles in which they fall, than upon the acquisition of those substantial virtues which they daily see neglected and ridiculed; though at the same time, perhaps they are convinced of the superior satisfaction which the latter would afford.

“But it is needless for one sex to criminate the other. We allow, that, generally speaking, 218they are equally to blame. In this instance, however, as the male assume the prerogative of superior judgment and intellectual abilities, they ought to prove the justice of their claim by setting nobler examples, and by endeavoring to reform whatever tends to vitiate the taste and corrupt the morals of society.

“Yet, after all, the evil cannot be effectually remedied, but by the concurrent exertions of both; and we are humbly of opinion, that if this reformation were more frequently inculcated from the pulpit, in the delicate, engaging and pious manner of the discourse which now excites our gratitude to you, and our resolutions to conduct accordingly, it would be efficacious in bringing about so desirable an event.

“We entreat your pardon, Reverend Sir, for the freedom, prolixity, and errors of this epistle.

“Though personally unknown to you, we doubt not you will readily grant it, when we assure you, that we are actuated by a sincere regard to the interests of religion and morality, and by a grateful sense of your exertions in the glorious cause.

“The united sentiments of a number of young ladies, who heard and admired your sermon, last Sunday morning, are expressed above.

Rev. John Clarke.”

219It is much to be regretted that Doctor Clarke did not publish more of his literary labours.

The universal approbation bestowed upon those, which he suffered to see the light, is an unequivocal evidence of his merit, as an author. His “Letters to a Student in the University of Cambridge,” are written in a most pleasing style, and contain instruction and advice of which no person in pursuit of a public education ought to be ignorant. His “Answer to the question, Why are you a Christian?” which has already had three editions in Boston, and three in England, is one of the best compendiums of the external and internal evidences of our holy religion, extant. It is plain and intelligible to the lowest capacity and may enable every one, without much study, to give a reason for the hope that is in him.

From these specimens we may form an opinion of what the world has lost by his early exit.

I shall make no other apology for the length of this letter, than the interest which I feel in the subject; and this, I am persuaded, you will deem sufficient.

My affectionate regards wait on your mamma and sister, while I subscribe myself yours most sincerely,




The shortness of time is a very common subject of complaint; but I think the misuse of it, a much more just one. Its value is certainly underrated by those who indulge themselves in morning sloth.

Sweet, indeed, is the breath of morn; and after the body has been refreshed by the restoring power of sleep, it is peculiarly prepared to procure and participate the pleasures of the mind. The jarring passions are then composed, and the calm operations of reason succeed of course; while

“———————————Gentle gales,
Fanning their odoriferous wings, dispense
Native perfumes, and whisper when they stole
These balmy spoils.”

The morning is undoubtedly a season, of all others, most favorable to useful exertions. Those, therefore, who lose three or four hours of it, in slumbering inaction, make a voluntary sacrifice of the best part of their existence. I rose to-day, not with the sun, but with the dawn; and after taking a few turns in the garden, 221retired to the summer-house. This you know is a favorite hour with me.

“To me be nature’s volume broad display’d;
And to peruse its all-instructing page,
Or, haply catching inspiration thence,
Some easy passage raptur’d to translate,
My sole delight; as thro’ the falling glooms,
Pensive I stray, or with the rising dawn
On fancy’s eagle wing excursive soar.”

Having a memorandum book and pencil in my pocket, I descend from the lofty heights to which the immortal bard, my beloved Thompson, had insensibly raised my imagination, to the humble strains of simple rhyme, in order to communicate my sensations to you. These I enclose, without attempting to tell you, either in prose or verse, how affectionately I am yours.


The morning dawns, the russet grey
Slowly avoids the opening day:
Receding from the gazing eye,
The misty shades of twilight fly.
The ruddy streaks of light appear,
To guide our western hemisphere;
While tuneful choirs responsive join
To praise the gracious Pow’r Divine,
Whose mighty hand with sov’reign sway,
Restores, alternate, night and day.
Hail, opening morn! thy sober rays
Demand the contemplative gaze:
Unnumber’d beauties please the sight,
And give the mental eye delight.
O dawn! thy sombre shades I love!
With thee in solitude I’ll rove:
222While health expansive gives the mind
To taste thy pleasures unconfin’d.
Here free from fashion’s artful forms,
Benevolence the bosom warms:
Persuasive virtue charms the soul,
And reason’s laws alone control.
Let others, lost in sloth forego
The joys thy early hours bestow:
Thy zephyrs far more sweets dispense,
Than Somnus yield to drowsy sense!
Mild as the beams of radiance shine,
May piety my powers refine:
Pure as the mimic pearls, that spread
Their liquid beauties o’er the mead:
And like yon rising orb of day,
May wisdom guide my dubious way.



I was last week at Boston; and having occasion for a new hat, stepped into a milliner’s shop to inquire the mode. The milliner replied that it was not yet in her power to answer my question. “The spring ships,” said she, “are later than common; but their arrival is hourly expected, when we shall be furnished with memorandum books which will 223ascertain and determine the fashion for the season.” What she meant by memorandum books, I could not conceive. I had always supposed them blanks, designed for noting whatever occurred without inconvenience. Unwilling, however, to be thought a simple country girl, totally unacquainted with the world, I sought no explanation from her; but repaired to a particular friend for instruction; from whom I learned that the chief value of these same memorandum books consists in their containing imported cuts of ladies’ headdresses, hats and other habiliments, which are always sure to be admired and imitated, as the perfection of taste and propriety.

This discovery mortified me exceedingly. It justified, beyond any thing which I had ever suspected to exist as a fact, what I once heard a European assert, “that Americans had neither character nor opinion of their own.”

With due deference to those better judges, who despise the simplicity of our ancestors, and labor to introduce the corrupt manners and customs of the old world into our country, I cannot but think it extremely ridiculous for an independent nation, which discards all foreign influence, glories in its freedom, and boasts of its genius and taste, servilely to ape exotic fashions, even in articles of dress and fanciful ornaments.

Have not the daughters of Columbia sufficient powers of invention to decorate themselves? 224Must we depend upon the winds and waves for the form, as well as the materials of our garb? Why may we not follow our own inclination; and not be deemed finical or prudish in our appearance, merely because our habit is not exactly correspondent with the pretty pictures in the memorandum books, last imported.

It is sincerely to be regretted that this subject is viewed in so important a light. It occupies too much of the time, and engrosses too much of the conversation of our sex. For one, I have serious thoughts of declaring independence.



(On the Death of her Mother.)

To tell you that I am sorry for your loss, or that I sympathize in your affliction, would be but the language you daily hear; and often perhaps, from the unfeeling and indifferent. But you will do me the justice to believe, that I take a particular interest in your concerns, and really share your grief. A holy Providence 225has wounded you by a stroke, which is extremely painful and severe. Your best friend is shrouded in the grave. In the maternal breast our fondest affections, and most unsuspecting confidence have hitherto concentrated; and who can provide you with an equivalent substitute? To the Almighty Father and Friend of creation, it becomes you to repair for comfort and support.

The dying advice and counsel of your dear mamma, which you inform me, were pathetic, instructive and consolatory, will be a guide to your feet. Often realize the solemn scene, and remember, that, “though dead, she yet speaketh.”

You have great cause of thankfulness, that she was spared to direct you so far through the intricate and dangerous path of youth; to complete your education; to teach you, by her example, how to acquit yourself with usefulness and honor; and above all, to furnish you with that important knowledge, to which every thing else should be made subservient—how to die.

An era of your life has now commenced, which is no less important than affecting. That assisting hand which formerly led you is now cold and lifeless! Those lips, from which you have been accustomed to receive information and advice, are sealed in perpetual silence! And that heart, which always glowed with the warmest solicitude for your happiness has ceased to palpitate.

226You must now think and act for yourself. As the eldest daughter, you will be placed at the head of your father’s family. You must, therefore, adopt a plan of conduct, conducive to its harmony, regularity and interest.

Filial duty to your surviving parent, more tenderly inculcated by your participation of his heavy bereavement, will lead you to consult his inclination, and sedulously contribute all in your power to lighten the burden of domestic arrangements devolved upon him. While he laments the death of a prudent, affectionate, and beloved wife, give him reason to rejoice that he is blessed with a daughter, capable of soothing the pains, alleviating the cares, and heightening the enjoyments of his life.

Your brothers and sisters will look up to you as the guide of their tender years. While their weeping eyes and pathetic accents are directed towards you, let kindness, discretion, and patience, characterize your deportment, and engage their confidence and love.

Having mentioned your duty to others, I cannot dismiss the subject without dropping a few hints for your direction, in regard to your personal behaviour.

A very important charge is committed to you, as well in the duties which you owe to yourself, as in the superintendence of your father’s family.

The sovereign disposer of all things has, at an early age, made you, in a measure, your 227own guardian. Your father’s business calls him much abroad. With you, therefore, he is obliged to entrust, not only his domestic concerns; but, what is still more dear to his heart, the care of your own person and mind; of your own reputation and happiness.

Circumstanced as you are, company has the most powerful charms. Yours is now the prerogative of receiving and returning visits in your own name. At home, you are sole mistress of ceremonies. This is extremely alluring to the sprightly fancy of youth. But time, you will remember, is too important a blessing to be sacrificed to a promiscuous crowd of unimproving companions. Besides, the character of a young lady will necessarily be sullied by the imputation of being constantly engaged in parties of pleasure, and exhilarating amusement. Flattery often avails itself of the unguarded moments of gaiety; and insinuating its insidious charms into the heedless and susceptible mind, inflates it with pride and vanity, and produces an affectation and air of self-importance, which are peculiarly disgusting, because easily distinguished from that true dignity of manners, which results from conscious rectitude. Genuine merit is always modest and unassuming; diffident of itself and respectful to others.

Your father has a right to your unlimited confidence. You will, therefore, make him your chief friend and counsellor. Though he may not possess all the winning softness of a 228mother, he doubtless has as ardent an affection for you, and as sincere a desire to promote your welfare. Hence you may safely repose your dearest concerns in his paternal breast, and receive, with the utmost deference, his kind instruction and advice. Let his judgment have an entire ascendency over your mind and actions, especially in your intercourse and society with the other sex. Consider him as better acquainted with their merit, circumstances, and views, than you can be; and should you contemplate a connexion for life, let his opinion determine your choice.

Watch over your dear little sisters with all the tenderness of fraternal affection; be their protector and friend; instil into their minds the principles of virtue and religion; arm them against the snares and temptations by which they will be surrounded; and lead them by your own conduct, in the way of truth and peace.

When you have leisure and inclination to write, the effusions of your pen will always be acceptable to your sincere and faithful friend



  1. Added Table of CONTENTS.
  2. Silently corrected typographical errors.
  3. Retained anachronistic and non-standard spellings as printed.