π1r π1v
An illustration of the first story in the volume (page 7), containing three people: the narrator, Cicero, and a sorceress. The caption is below the illustration.

J. M. Wright delt. T. L. Engleheart sculpt.sculptor

See page 7

Published by Longman & Co. 1825-11Novr.November 1825.


A Legacy
Young Ladies,

Consisting of
Miscellaneous Pieces,
in Prose and Verse,

By the Late
Mrs. omitted2 wordsBarbauld.

Second Edition.

Printed for Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green,
Paternoster Row.


Printed by Richard Taylor, Shoe-Lane, London.



The late Mrs. Barbauld was one of the
best friends of youth. In her Early Lessons,
and Prose Hymns, she has condescended
to apply her admirable genius
to the instruction even of infant minds. Several
excellent pieces, adapted to children
of different ages, she contributed to Dr.
Evenings at Home. That elegant
volume of verse and prose The Female
was compiled by her for the use
of young ladies, for whom she also made
a selection from the Tatlers, Spectators,
and Guardians, prefixing to it an instructive
and beautiful Essay. In other of her
productions she has given valuable advice A2v iv
to parents on the subject of instruction; and
her Poems contain many pieces worthy
to be early reposited among the choicest
stores of an elegant and ingenuous mind.

Many young persons of both sexes partook,
during the course of her long life,
of the benefit of her personal instructions;
and in the present volume she may be regarded
as continuing even from the grave
to delight and improve the rising generation.

These pieces were found among her papers
by the members of her own family.
Some of them enforce moral truths; others
contain instruction in history and other
branches of the graver studies of youth;
but the greater number are of a light and
elegant cast, adapted to exercise the ingenuity
and amuse the fancy while they refine
the taste. Those in the form of letters A3r v
were all addressed to different ladies whom
she favoured with her friendship.

Had she herself presented these pieces
to the public, it is probable that she would
in some instances have extended them by
additions which, from her own pen, would
have enhanced their value, but which it
would have been presumption in any other
to attempt. None of them, however, can
properly be called fragments: and it was
so natural to her to express herself with
the highest beauty and perfection of style,
that in this respect little difference would
be found either in verse or prose, between
the slightest sketch she ever traced
and the most finished of her admired productions.

Lucy Aikin.

Hampstead, 1825-12Dec.December 1825.
A3v A4r

A Legacy
Young Ladies.

True Magicians.

To Miss C.

My Dear Sarah,

I have often reflected, since I left you, on
the wonderful powers of magic exhibited
by you and your sister. The dim obscurity
of that grotto hollowed out by your
hands under the laurel hedge, where you
used to mix the ingredients of your incantations,
struck us with awe and terror; and
the broom which you so often brandished B B1v 2
in your hands made you look very like
witches indeed. I must confess, however,
that some doubts have now and then arisen
in my mind, whether or no you were truly
initiated in the secrets of your art; and
these suspicions gathered strength after
you had suffered us and yourself to be so
drenched as we all were on that rainy
Tuesday; which to say the least was a very
odd circumstance, considering you had the
command of the weather.—As I was pondering
these matters alone in the chaise
between Epsom and London, I fell asleep
and had the following dream.

I thought I had been travelling through
an unknown country, and came at last to
a thick wood cut out into several groves
and avenues, the gloom of which inspired
thoughtfulness, and a certain mysterious
dread of unknown powers came upon me.
I entered however one of the avenues, and
found it terminated in a magnificent portal,
through which I could discern confusedly
among thick foliage, cloistered B2r 3
arches and Grecian porticoes, and people
walking and conversing amongst the trees.
Over the portal was the following inscription:
“Here dwell the true magicians. Nature
is our servant. Man is our pupil. We
change, we conquer, we create.”

As I was hesitating whether or no I
should presume to enter, a pilgrim who
was sitting under the shade offered to be
my guide, assuring me that these magicians
would do me no harm, and that so far from
having any objection to be observed in
their operations, they were pleased with
any opportunity of exhibiting them to the
curious. In therefore I went, and addressed
the first of the magicians I met
with, who asked me whether I liked panoramas.
On replying that I thought them
very entertaining, she took me to a little
eminence and bade me look round. I did
so, and beheld the representation of the
beautiful vale of Dorking, with Norburypark
and Box-hill to the north, Riegate
to the east, and Leith tower with the B2 B2v 4
Surry hills to the south. After I had
admired for some time the beauty and
accuracy of the painting, a vast curtain
seemed to be drawn gradually up, and my
view extended on all sides. On one hand
I traced the windings of the Thames up
to Oxford, and stretched my eye westward
over Salisbury Plain, and across the Bristol
into the romantic country of
South Wales; northward the view extended
to Lincoln cathedral, and York
towering over the rest of the
churches. Across the Sussex downs I had
a clear view of the British Channel, and
the opposite coast of France, with its
ports blockaded by our fleets. As the
horizon of the panorama still extended, I
spied the towers of Notre Dame, and the
Tuilleries, and my eye wandered at large
over “The vine-covered hills and gay regions
of France,”
quite down to the source
of the Loire. At the same time the great
Atlantic ocean opened to my view; and on
the other hand I saw the lake of Geneva, B3r 5
and the dark ridge of mount Jura, and
discovered the summits of the Alps covered
with snow; and beyond, the orange groves
of Italy, the majestic dome of St. Peter’s,
and the smoking crater of Vesuvius. As
the curtain still rose, I stretched my view
over the Mediterranean, the scene of ancient
glory, the Archipelago studded with
islands, the shores of the Bosphorus, and
the gilded minarets and cypress groves of
Constantinople. Throwing back a look
to the less attractive north, I saw pictured
the rugged, broken coast of Norway, the
cheerless moors of Lapland, and the interminable
desolation of the plains of Siberia.
Turning my eye again southward,
the landscape extended to the plains of
Barbary, covered with date-trees; and I
discerned the points of pyramids appearing
above the horizon, and saw the Delta
and the seven-mouthed Nile. In short,
the curtain still rose, and the view extended
further and further till the panorama
took in the whole globe. I cannot B3v 6
express to you the pleasure I felt as I saw
mountains, seas, and islands, spread out
before me. Sometimes my eye wandered
over the vast plains of Tartary, sometimes
it expatiated in the savannahs of America.
I saw men with dark skins, white cotton
turbans wreathed about their heads, and
long flowing robes of silk; others almost
naked under a vertical sun. I saw whales
sporting in the northern seas, and elephants
trampling amidst fields of maize
and forests of palm-trees. I seemed to
have put a girdle about the earth, and was
gratified with an infinite variety of objects
which I thought I never could be weary of
contemplating. At length, turning towards
the magician who had entertained
me with such an agreeable exhibition, and
asking her name, she informed me it was

My attention was next arrested by a
sorceress, who, I was told, possessed the
power of calling up from the dead whomsoever
she pleased, man or woman, in their B4r 7
proper habits and figures, and obliging
them to converse and answer questions.
She held a roll of parchment in her hand,
and had an air of great dignity. I confess
that I felt a little afraid; but having been
somewhat encouraged by the former exhibition,
I ventured to ask her to give me
a specimen of her power, in case there was
nothing unlawful in it. “Whom,” said
she, “do you wish to behold?” After
considering some time, I desired to see
Cicero the Roman orator. She made
some talismanic figures on the sand, and
presently he rose to my view, his neck
and head bare, the rest of his body in a
flowing toga, which he gathered round
him with one hand, and stretching out the
other very gracefully, he recited to me one
of his orations against Catiline. He also
read to me, which was more than I could
in reason have expected, several of his
familiar letters to his most intimate friends.
I next desired that Julius Cæsar might be
called up: on which he appeared, his hair B4v 8
nicely arranged, and the fore part of his
head, which was bald, covered with wreaths
of laurel; and he very obligingly gave me
a particular account of his expedition into
Gaul. I wished to see the youth of Macedon,
but was a little disappointed in his
figure, for he was low in stature and held
his head awry; but I saw him manage
Bucephalus with admirable courage and
address, and was afterwards introduced
with him into the tent of Darius, where I
was greatly pleased with the generosity
and politeness of his behaviour. I afterwards
expressed some curiosity to see a
battle, if I might do it with safety, and was
gratified with the sea-fight of Actium. I
saw, after the first onset, the galleys of
Cleopatra turning their prows and flying
from the battle, and Antony, to his eternal
shame, quitting the engagement and
making sail after her. I then wished to
call up all the kings of England, and they
appeared in order one after the other, with
their crowns and the insignia of their dignity, B5r 9
and walked over the stage for my
amusement, much like the descendants of
Banquo in Macbeth. Their queens accompanied
them, trailing their robes upon
the ground, and the bishops with their
mitres, and judges, and generals, and
eminent persons of every class. I asked
many questions as they passed, and received
a great deal of information relative
to the laws, manners, and transactions of
past times. I did not, however, always
meet with direct answers to my questions.
For instance, when I called up Homer,
and after some other conversation asked
him where he was born, he only said,
“Guess!” And when I asked Louis the
who was the man in the iron
mask, he frowned and would not tell me.
I took a great deal of pleasure in calling
up the shades of distinguished people in
different ages and countries, making them
stand close by one another, and comparing
their manners and costume. Thus I measured
Catherine of Russia against Semiramis,
and Aristotle against Lord Bacon. B5 B5v 10
I could have spent whole years in conversation
with so many celebrated persons,
and promised myself that I would often
frequent this obliging magician. Her
name, I found, was in heaven Clio, on
earth History.

I saw another who was making a charm
for two friends, one of whom was going to
the East Indies: they were bitterly lamenting
that when they were parted at so
great a distance from each other they could
no longer communicate their thoughts, but
must be cut off from each other’s society.
Presenting them with a talisman inscribed
with four-and-twenty black marks, “Take
she said; “I have breathed a voice
upon it: by means of this talisman you
shall still converse, and hear one another
as distinctly when half the globe is between
you, as if you were talking together
in the same room.”
The two friends
thanked her for such an invaluable present,
and retired. Her name was Abracadabra.

I was next invited to see a whispering- B6r 11
gallery of a most curious and uncommon
structure. To make the experiment of
its powers, a young poet of a very modest
appearance, who was stealing along in a
retired walk, was desired to repeat a verse
in it. He applied his lips to the wall, and
whispered in a low voice, “Rura mihi et
rigui placeant in vallibus amnes.”
sound ran along the walls for some time
in a kind of low whisper; but every minute
it grew louder and louder, till at length it
was echoed and re-echoed from every part
of the gallery, and seemed to be pronounced
by a multitude of voices at once,
in different languages, till the whole dome
was filled with the sound. There was a
strong smell of incense. The gallery was
constructed by Fame.

The good pilgrim next conducted me
to a cave where several sorceresses, very
black and grim, were amusing themselves
with making lightning, thunder, and earthquakes.
I saw two vials of cold liquor
mixed together, and flames burst forth B6v 12
from them. I saw some insignificant-looking
black grains, which would throw palaces
and castles into the air. I saw—and
it made my hair stand on end—a headless
man who lifted up his arm and grasped a
sword. I saw men flying through the air,
without wings, over the tops of towns and
castles, and come down unhurt. The cavern
was very black, and the smoke and
fires and mephitic blasts and sulphureous
vapours that issued from it gave the whole
a very tremendous appearance. I did not
stay long, but as I retired I saw “Chemistry”
written on the walls in letters of flame,
with several other names which I do not
now remember.

My companion whispered me that some
of these were suspected of communication
with the evil genii, and that the demon of
War had been seen to resort to the cave.
“But now,” said the pilgrim, “I will lead
you to enchanters who deserve all your veneration,
and are even more beneficent than
those you have already seen.”
He then B7r 13
led me to a cavern that opened upon the
sea shore: it blew a terrible storm, the
waves ran mountains high, the wind
roared, and vessels were driven against
each other with a terrible shock. A female
figure advanced and threw a little
oil upon the waves; they immediately subsided,
the winds were still, the storm was
laid, and the vessels pursued their course
in safety. “By what magic is this performed?”
exclaimed I. “The magician is
replied my conductor: “she
can smooth the roughest sea, and allay the
wildest storm.”

My view was next directed to a poor
wretch who lay groaning in a most piteous
manner, and crushed to the earth with a
mountain on his breast: he uttered piercing
shrieks, and seemed totally unable to
rise or help himself. One of these good
magicians, whose name I found was Patience,
advanced and struck the mountain
with a wand; on which, to my great
surprise, it diminished to a size not more B7v 14
than the load of an ordinary porter,
which the man threw over his shoulders
with something very like a smile, and
marched off with a firm step and very
composed air.

I must not pass over a charmer of a
very pleasing appearance and lively aspect.
She possessed the power (a very useful
one in a country so subject to fogs and
rains as this is) of gilding a landscape
with sunshine whenever she breathed
upon it. Her name was Cheerfulness.
Indeed you may remember that your papa
brought her down with him on that very
rainy day when we could not go out at
all, and he played on his flute to you, and
you all danced.

I was next struck, on ascending an eminence,
with a most dreary landscape. All
the flat country was one stagnant marsh.
Amidst the rushy grass lay the fiend Ague,
listless and shivering: on the bare and
bleak hills sat Famine, with a few shells
of acorns before her, of which she had B8r 15
eaten the fruit. The woods were tangled
and pathless; the howl of wolves was
heard. A few smoky huts, or caves not
much better than the dens of wild beasts,
were all the habitations of men that presented
themselves. “Miserable country!”
I exclaimed; “step-child of nature!”
“This,” said my conductor, “is Britain
as our ancestors possessed it.”
“And by
what magic,”
I replied, “has it been converted
into the pleasant land we now inhabit?”
“You shall see,” said he. “It
has been the work of one of our most
powerful magicians. Her name is Industry.”
At the word she advanced and
waved her wand over the scene. Gradually
the waters ran off into separate
channels, and left rich meadows covered
with innumerable flocks and herds. The
woods disappeared, except what waved
gracefully on the tops of the hills, or filled
up the unsightly hollows. Wherever she
moved her wand, roads, bridges, and
canals laid open and improved the face B8v 16
of the country. A numerous population,
spread abroad in the fields, were gathering
in the harvest. Smoke from warm cottages
ascended through the trees, pleasant
towns and villages marked the several
points of distance. Last, the Thames was
filled with forests of masts, and proud
London appeared with all its display of
wealth and grandeur.

I do not know whether it was the pleasure
I received from this exhilarating
scene, or the carriage having just got upon
the pavement, which awakened me; but I
determined to write out my dream, and
advise you to cultivate your acquaintance
with all the true Arts of Magic.


A Lecture on the Use of

My dear mamma, who worked you this
scarf? it is excessively pretty.

I am sorry for it, my dear.

Sorry, mamma! are you sorry it is

No, but I am sorry if it is excessively

Why so?—a thing cannot be too pretty,
can it?

If so, it cannot be excessively pretty. Pray
what do you mean by excessively pretty?

Why excessively pretty means—it means
very pretty.

What does the word excessively come
from? What part of speech is it? You
know your grammar?

It is an adverb: the words that end in
ly are adverbs.

B9v 18

Adverbs are derived from adjectives by
adding ly, you should have said;—excessive,
excessively. And what is the noun
from which they are both derived?


And what does excess mean?

It means too much of any thing.

You see then that it implies a fault, and
therefore cannot be applied as a commendation.
We say a man is excessively
greedy, excessively liberal; a woman excessively
fine: but not that a man is excessively
wise, a woman excessively faithful
to her husband; because in these there
is no excess: nor is there in beauty, that
being the true and just proportion which
gives pleasure.

But we say excessively kind.

We do, because kindness has its limits.
A person may be too kind to us, who exposes
himself to a great and serious inconvenience
to give us a slight pleasure: we
also may mean by it exceeding that kindness
which we have a claim to expect. But B10r 19
when people use it, as they often do, on the
slightest occasion, it is certainly as wrong
as excessively pretty.

But, mamma, must we always consider so
much the exact meaning of words? Every
body says excessively pretty, and excessively
tall, and infinitely obliged to you.—
What harm can it do?

That every body does it I deny; that
the generality do it is very true; but it is
likewise true, that the generality are not
to be taken as a pattern in any thing. As
to the harm it does,—in the first place it
hurts our sincerity.

Why, it is not telling a lie sure?

Certainly I do not mean to say it is;
but it tends to sap and undermine the
foundations of our integrity, by making us
careless, if not in the facts we assert, yet
in the measure and degree in which we
assert them. If we do not pretend to love
those we have no affection for, or to admire
those we despise, at least we lead
them to think we admire them more and B10v 20
love them better than we really do; and
this prepares the way for some serious deviations
from truth. So much for its concern
with morality:—but it has likewise a
very bad effect on our taste. What, think
you, is the reason that young people, especially,
run into these vague and exaggerated

What is vague, mamma?

It means what has no precise, definite
signification. Young people run into these,
sometimes indeed from having more feeling
than judgement, but more commonly
from not knowing how to separate their
ideas and tell what it is they are pleased
with. They either do not know, or will
not give themselves the trouble to mark,
the qualities, or to describe the scenes
which disgust or please them, and hope to
cover their deficiency by these overwhelming
expressions; as if your dress-maker,
not knowing your shape, should make a
large loose frock that would cover you over
were you twice as tall as you are. Now B11r 21
you would have shown your taste if in
commending my scarf you had said that
the pattern was light, or it was rich, or that
the work was neat and true; but by saying
it was excessively pretty, you showed
you had not considered what it was you
admired in it. Did you never hear of the
countryman who said “there will be monstrous
few apples this year, and those few
will be huge little.”
Poets run into this
fault when they give unmeaning epithets
instead of appropriate description;—young
ladies, when in their letters they run into
exaggerated expressions of friendship.

You have often admired in this painting
the variety of tints shaded into one another.
Well! what would you think of a
painter who should spread one deep blue
over all the sky, and one deep green over
the grass and trees?—would not you say
he was a dauber? and made near objects
and distant objects, and objects in the sun
and objects in the shade, all alike? I
think I have some of your early performances B11v 22
in which you have coloured prints
pretty much in this style; but you would
not paint so now?

No, indeed.

Then do not talk so: do not paint so
with words.


The Pine and the Olive:

A Fable.

A Stoic, swelling with the proud consciousness
of his own worth, took a solitary
walk; and straying amongst the groves of
Academus, he sat down between an Olive
and a Pine tree. His attention was soon excited
by a murmur which he heard among
the leaves. The whispers increased; and
listening attentively, he plainly heard the
Pine say to the Olive as follows: “Poor
tree! I pity thee; thou now spreadest thy
green leaves and exultest in all the pride
of youth and spring; but how soon will
thy beauty be tarnished! The fruit which
thou exhaustest thyself to bear, shall hardly
be shaken from thy boughs before thou
shalt grow dry and withered; thy green
veins, now so full of juice, shall be frozen;
naked and bare thou wilt stand exposed to B12v 24
all the storms of winter, whilst my firmer
leaf shall resist the change of the seasons.
Unchangeable is my motto, and through
the various vicissitudes of the year I shall
continue equally green and vigorous as I
am at present.”

The olive, with a graceful wave of her
boughs, replied: “It is true thou wilt always
continue as thou art at present. Thy
leaves will keep that sullen and gloomy
green in which they are now arrayed, and
the stiff regularity of thy branches will not
yield to those storms which will bow down
many of the feebler tenants of the grove.
Yet I wish not to be like thee. I rejoice
when nature rejoices; and when I am desolate,
nature mourns with me. I fully enjoy
pleasure in its season, and I am contented
to be subject to the influences of those seasons
and that economy of nature by which
I flourish. When the spring approaches, I
feel the kindly warmth; my branches swell
with young buds, and my leaves unfold;
crowds of singing birds which never visit C1r 25
thy noxious shade, sport on my boughs,
my fruit is offered to the Gods and rejoices
men; and when the decay of nature approaches,
I shed my leaves over the funeral
of the falling year, and am well
contented not to stand a single exemption
to the mournful desolation I see everywhere
around me.”

The Pine was unable to frame a reply;
and the philosopher turned away his steps
rebuked and humbled.

C C1v

On Riddles.

My Dear Young Friends,

I presume you are now all come home
for the holidays, and that the brothers and
sisters and cousins, papas and mammas,
uncles and aunts, are all met cheerfully
round a Christmas fire, enjoying the company
of their friends and relations, and
eating plum pudding and mince pie. These
are very good things; but one cannot always
be eating plum pudding and mince
pie: the days are short, and the weather
bad, so that you cannot be much abroad;
and I think you must want something to
amuse you. Besides, if you have been employed
as you ought to be at school, and if
you are quick and clever, as I hope you
are, you will want some employment for
that part of you which thinks, as well as C2r 27
that part of you which eats; and you will
like better to solve a riddle than to crack
a nut or a walnut. Finding out riddles is
the same kind of exercise to the mind
which running and leaping and wrestling
in sport are to the body. They are of no
use in themselves,—they are not work, but
play; but they prepare the body, and make
it alert and active for any thing it may be
called to perform in labour or war. So
does the finding out of riddles, if they are
good especially, give quickness of thought,
and a facility of turning about a problem
every way, and viewing it in every possible
light. When Archimedes coming out of
the bath cried in transport, “Eureka!” (I
have found it!) he had been exercising his
mind precisely in the same manner as you
will do when you are searching about for
the solution of a riddle.

And pray, when you are got together,
do not let any little Miss or Master say,
with an affected air, “O! do not ask me;
I am so stupid I never can guess.”
They C2 C2v 28
do not mean you should think them stupid
and dull; they mean to imply that these
things are too trifling to engage their attention.
If they are employed better, it
is very well; but if not, say, “I am very
sorry indeed you are so dull, but we that
are clever and quick will exercise our wits
upon these; and as our arms grow stronger
by exercise, so will our wits.”

Riddles are of high antiquity, and were
the employment of grave men formerly.
The first riddle that we have on record was
proposed by Sampson at a wedding feast to
the young men of the Philistines, who were
invited upon the occasion. The feast lasted
seven days; and if they found it out within
the seven days, Sampson was to give them
thirty suits of clothes and thirty sheets;
and if they could not guess it, they were to
forfeit the same to him. The riddle was;
“Out of the eater came forth meat, and
out of the strong came forth sweetness.”

He had killed a lion, and left its carcase:
on returning soon after, he found a swarm C3r 29
of bees had made use of the skeleton as a
hive, and it was full of honeycomb. Struck
with the oddness of the circumstance, he
made a riddle of it. They puzzled about it
the whole seven days, and would not have
found it out at last if his wife had not told

The Sphinx was a great riddle-maker.
According to the fable, she was half a woman
and half a lion. She lived near Thebes,
and to every body that came she proposed
a riddle; and if they did not find it out,
she devoured them. At length Œdipus
came, and she asked him, “What is that
animal which walks on four legs in the
morning, two at noon, and three at night?”

Œdipus answered, Man:—in childhood,
which is the morning of life, he crawls on
his hands and feet; in middle age, which is
noon, he walks erect on two; in old age
he leans on a crutch, which serves for a
supplementary third foot.

The famous wise men of Greece did not
disdain to send puzzles to each other. They C3v 30
are also fond of riddles in the East. There
is a pretty one in some of their tales.—
“What is that tree which has twelve
branches, and each branch thirty leaves,
which are all black on one side and white
on the other?”
—The tree is the year; the
branches the months; the leaves black on
one side and white on the other signify
day and night. Our Anglo-Saxon ancestors
also had riddles, some of which are
still preserved in a very ancient manuscript.

A riddle is a description of a thing
without the name; but as it is meant to
puzzle, it appears to belong to something
else than what it really does, and often
seems contradictory; but when you have
guessed it, it appears quite clear. It is a
bad riddle if you are at all in doubt when
you have found it out whether you are
right or no. A riddle is not verbal, as
charades, conundrums, and rebuses are:
it may be translated into any language,
which the others cannot. Addison would
put them all in the class of false wit: but C4r 31
Swift, who was as great a genius, amused
himself with making all sorts of puzzles;
and therefore I think you need not be
ashamed of reading them. It would be
pretty entertainment for you to make a
collection of the better ones,—for many
are so dull that they are not worth spending
time about. I will conclude by sending
you a few which will be new to you.


I often murmur, yet I never weep;

I always lie in bed, yet never sleep;

My mouth is wide, and larger than my head,

And much disgorges though it ne’er is fed;

I have no legs or feet, yet swiftly run,

And the more falls I get, move faster on.


Ye youths and ye virgins, come list to my tale,

With youth and with beauty my voice will prevail.

My smile is enchanting, and golden my hair,

And on earth I am fairest of all that is fair;

But my name it perhaps may assist you to tell,

That I’m banish’d alike both from heaven and hell.

There’s a charm in my voice, ’tis than music more sweet,

And my tale oft repeated, untired I repeat.

C4v 32

I flatter, I soothe, I speak kindly to all,

And wherever you go, I am still within call.

Tho’ I thousands have blest, ’tis a strange thing to say,

That not one of the thousands e’er wishes my stay,

But when most I enchant him, impatient the more,

The minutes seem hours till my visit is o’er.

In the chase of my love I am ever employ’d,

Still, still he’s pursued, and yet never enjoy’d;

O’er hills and o’er valleys unwearied I fly,

But should I o’ertake him, that instant I die;

Yet I spring up again, and again I pursue,

The object still distant, the passion still new.

Now guess,—and to raise your astonishment most,

While you seek me you have me, when found I am lost.


I never talk but in my sleep;

I never cry, but sometimes weep;

My doors are open day and night;

Old age I help to better sight;

I, like camelion, feed on air,

And dust to me is dainty fare.


We are spirits all in white,

On a field as black as night;

There we dance and sport and play,

Changing every changing day:

C5r 33

Yet with us is wisdom found,

As we move in mystic round.

Mortal, wouldst thou know the grains

That Ceres heaps on Libya’s plains,

Or leaves that yellow Autumn strews,

Or the stars that Herschel views,

Or find how many drops would drain

The wide-scoop’d bosom of the main,

Or measure central depths below,—

Ask of us, and thou shalt know.

With fairy feet we compass round

The pyramid’s capacious bound,

Or step by step ambitious climb

The cloud-capt mountain’s height sublime.

Riches though we do not use,

’Tis ours to gain, and ours to lose.

From Araby the Blest we came,

In every land our tongue’s the same;

And if our number you require,

Go count the bright Aonian quire.

Wouldst thou cast a spell to find

The track of light, the speed of wind,

Or when the snail with creeping pace

Shall the swelling globe embrace;

Mortal, ours the powerful spell;

Ask of us, for we can tell.

C5 C5v 34


An unfortunate maid,

I by love was betray’d,

And wasted and pined by my grief;

To deep solitudes then,

Of rock, mountain and glen,

From the world I retired for relief.

Yet there by the sound

Of my voice I am found,

Though no footstep betrays where I tread;

The poet and lover,

My haunts to discover,

Still leave at the dawn their soft bed.

If the poet sublime

Address me in rime,

In rime I support conversation;

To the lover’s fond moan

I return groan for groan,

And by sympathy give consolation.

Though I’m apt, ’tis averr’d,

To love the last word,

Nor can I pretend ’tis a fiction;

I shall ne’er be so rude

On your talk to intrude

With anything like contradiction.

C6r 35

The fair damsels of old

By their mothers were told,

That maids should be seen and not heard;

The reverse is my case,

For you’ll ne’er see my face,

To my voice all my charms are transferr’d.


The King in His Castle.

My Dear Lucy,

Have you made out who the four Sisters
are? See this piece in Evenings at Home. If you have, I will tell you another
story. It is about a monarch who lives in
a sumptuous castle, raised high above the
ground and built with exquisite art. He
takes a great deal of state upon him, and,
like Eastern monarchs, transacts every
thing by means of his ministers; for he
never appears himself, and indeed lives in
so retired a manner, that though it has
often excited the curiosity of his subjects,
his residence is hidden from them with as
much jealous care as that of Pygmalion
was from the Tyrians; and it has never
been discovered with any certainty which
of the chambers of the castle he actually C7r 37
inhabits, though by means of his numerous
spies he is acquainted with what passes in
every one of them.

But I must proceed to give you some
account of his chief ministers; and I will
begin with two who are mutes. Their office
is to bring him quick and faithful intelligence
of all that is going forward; this
they perform in a very ingenious manner.
You have heard of the Mexicans, who, not
having the art of writing, supplied the deficiency
by painting every thing they have
a mind to communicate; so that when the
Spaniards came amongst them, they sent
regular accounts to the king of their landing
and all their proceedings, in very intelligible
language, without writing a single
word. Now this is just the method of
these two mutes; they are continually employed
in making pictures of every thing
that passes, which they do with wonderful
quickness and accuracy, all in miniature,
but in exact proportion, and coloured after
life. These pictures they bring every moment C7v 38
to a great gate of the palace, where
the king receives them.

The next I shall mention are two drummers.
These have each a great drum, on
which they beat soft or loud, quick or slow,
according to the occasion. They often
entertain the king with music; besides
which they are arrived at such wonderful
perfection upon their instrument, and make
the strokes with such precision, that by the
different beats accompanied by proper
pauses and intervals, they can express any
thing they wish to tell;—and the king relies
upon them as much as upon his mutes.
There is a sort of covered way made in
the form of a labyrinth from the station of
the drummers to the inner rooms of the

There is a pair of officers,—for you must
know, the offices go mightily by pairs,—
whose department it is to keep all nuisances
from the palace. They are lodged for that
purpose under a shed or penthouse built
with that view before the front of the palace: C8r 39
they likewise gather and present to
the monarch sweet odours, essences and
perfumes, with which he regales himself:
they likewise inspect the dishes that are
served up at his table; and if any of them
are not fit to be eaten, they give notice
for their removal; and sometimes, if any
thing offensive is about to enter the palace,
they order the agents to shut two little
doors which are in their keeping, and by
that means prevent its entrance.

The agents are two very active officers
of long reach and quick execution. The
executive part of government is chiefly intrusted
to them; they obey the king’s
commands with a readiness and vigour
truly admirable; they defend the castle
from all assaults, and are vigilant in keeping
at a distance every annoyance. Their
office is branched out into ten subordinate
ones, but in cases which require great exertion
they act together.

I must not omit the beef-eaters. These
stand in rows at the great front gate of the C8v 40
palace, much as they do at St. James’s,
only that they are dressed in white.
Their office is to prepare the viands for
the king, who is so very lazy and so much
accustomed to have every thing done for
him, that, like the king of Bantam and
some other Eastern monarchs, he requires
his meat to be chewed before it is presented
to him.

Close by the beef-eaters lives the king’s
orator, a fat portly gentleman, of something
a Dutch make, but remarkably voluble and
nimble in his motions notwithstanding.
He delivers the king’s orders and explains
his will. This gentleman is a good deal of
an epicure, which I suppose is the reason
he has his station so near the beef-eaters.
He is a perfect connoisseur in good eating,
and assumes a right of tasting all the
dishes; and the king pays the greatest
regard to his opinion. Justice obliges me
to confess that this orator is one of the
most flippant and ungovernable of the
king’s subjects.

C9r 41

Among the inferior officers are the
porters, two stout lusty fellows who carry
the king about from place to place (for
I am sure you are by this time too well acquainted
with his disposition to suppose he
performs that office for himself); but as most
great men’s officers have their deputies, so
these lazy porters are very apt to get their
business done by deputy, and to have people
to carry them about.

I should never have done if I were to
mention all the particulars of the domestic
establishment and internal œconomy of the
castle, which is all arranged with wonderful
art and order; how the outgoings are
proportioned to the income, and what a
fellow-feeling there is between all the members
of the family from the greatest to the
meanest. The king, from his high birth,
on which he values himself much,—being
of a race and lineage quite different from
any of his subjects,—and from his superior
capacity, claims the most absolute obedience;
though, as is frequently the case with C9v 42
kings, he is in fact most commonly governed
by his ministers, who lead him
where they please without his being sensible
of it.—As you, my dear Lucy, have
had more conversation with this king than
most of your age have been honoured
with, I dare say you will be at no loss in
pointing him out. I therefore add no
more but that I am

Yours, &c.

On Female Studies.

Letter I.

My Dear Young Friend,

If I had not been afraid you would feel
some little reluctance in addressing me
first, I should have asked you to begin
the correspondence between us; for I
am at present ignorant of your particular
pursuits: I cannot guess whether
you are climbing the hill of science, or
wandering among the flowers of fancy;
whether you are stretching your powers
to embrace the planetary system, or examining
with a curious eye the delicate
veinings of a green leaf, and the minute
ramifications of a sea-weed; or whether
you are toiling through the intricate and
thorny mazes of grammar. Whichever
of these is at present your employment, C10v 44
your general aim no doubt is the improvement
of your mind; and we will therefore
spend some time in considering what kind
and degree of literary attainments sit gracefully
upon the female character.

Every woman should consider herself as
sustaining the general character of a rational
being, as well as the more confined
one belonging to the female sex; and therefore
the motives for acquiring general
knowledge and cultivating the taste are
nearly the same to both sexes. The line of
separation between the studies of a young
man and a young woman appears to me to
be chiefly fixed by this,—that a woman is
excused from all professional knowledge.
Professional knowledge means all that is
necessary to fit a man for a peculiar profession
or business. Thus men study in order
to qualify themselves for the law, for
physic, for various departments in political
life, for instructing others from the pulpit
or the professor’s chair. These all require
a great deal of severe study and technical C11r 45
knowledge; much of which is nowise
valuable in itself, but as a means to that
particular profession. Now as a woman
can never be called to any of these professions,
it is evident you have nothing to
do with such studies. A woman is not
expected to understand the mysteries of
politics, because she is not called to govern;
she is not required to know anatomy,
because she is not to perform surgical
operations; she need not embarrass
herself with theological disputes, because
she will neither be called upon to make
nor to explain creeds.

Men have various departments in active
life; women have but one, and all
women have the same, differently modified
indeed by their rank in life and other
incidental circumstances. It is, to be a
wife, a mother, a mistress of a family.
The knowledge belonging to these duties
is your professional knowledge, the want
of which nothing will excuse. Literary
knowledge therefore, in men, is often an C11v 46
indispensable duty; in women it can be
only a desirable accomplishment. In women
it is more immediately applied to the
purposes of adorning and improving the
mind, of refining the sentiments, and supplying
proper stores for conversation. For
general knowledge women have in some
respects more advantages than men. Their
avocations often allow them more leisure;
their sedentary way of life disposes them to
the domestic quiet amusement of reading;
the share they take in the education of
their children throws them in the way of
books. The uniform tenor and confined
circle of their lives makes them eager to
diversify the scene by descriptions which
open to them a new world; and they are
eager to gain an idea of scenes on the
busy stage of life from which they are
shut out by their sex. It is likewise particularly
desirable for women to be able to
give spirit and variety to conversation by
topics drawn from the stores of literature,
as the broader mirth and more boisterous C12r 47
gaiety of the other sex are to them prohibited.
As their parties must be innocent,
care should be taken that they do not
stagnate into insipidity. I will venture to
add, that the purity and simplicity of heart
which a woman ought never, in her freest
commerce with the world, to wear off; her
very seclusion from the jarring interests and
coarser amusements of society,—fit her in
a peculiar manner for the worlds of fancy
and sentiment, and dispose her to the
quickest relish of what is pathetic, sublime,
or tender. To you, therefore, the beauties
of poetry, of moral painting, and all in general
that is comprised under the term of
polite literature, lie particularly open, and
you cannot neglect them without neglecting
a very copious source of enjoyment.

Languages are on some accounts particularly
adapted to female study, as they may
be learnt at home without experiments or
apparatus, and without interfering with the
habits of domestic life; as they form the
style, and as they are the immediate inlet C12v 48
to works of taste. But the learned languages,
the Greek especially, require a
great deal more time than a young woman
can conveniently spare. To the Latin
there is not an equal objection; and if a
young person has leisure, has an opportunity
of learning it at home by being connected
with literary people, and is placed
in a circle of society sufficiently liberal to
allow her such an accomplishment, I do
not see, if she has a strong inclination,
why she should not make herself mistress
of so rich a store of original entertainment:
—it will not in the present state of
things excite either a smile or a stare in
fashionable company. To those who do
not intend to learn the language, I would
strongly recommend the learning so much
of the grammar of it as will explain the
name and nature of cases, genders, inflexion
of verbs, &c.; of which, having only
the imperfect rudiments in our own language,
a mere English scholar can with
difficulty form a clear idea. This is the D1r 49
more necessary, as all our grammars, being
written by men whose early studies had
given them a partiality for the learned languages,
are formed more upon those than
upon the real genius of our own tongue.

I was going now to mention French, but
perceive I have written a letter long enough
to frighten a young correspondent, and for
the present I bid you adieu.

Letter II.

French you are not only permitted to
learn, but you are laid under the same necessity
of acquiring it as your brother is
of acquiring Latin. Custom has made the
one as much expected from an accomplished
woman, as the other from a man
who has had a liberal education. The
learning French, or indeed any language
completely, includes reading, writing, and
speaking it. But here I must take the liberty
to offer my ideas, which differ somethingD D1v 50
from those generally entertained, and
you will give them what weight you think
they deserve. It seems to me that the
efforts of young ladies in learning French
are generally directed to what is unattainable;
and if attained, not very useful,—
the speaking it. It is utterly impossible,
without such advantages as few enjoy,
to speak a foreign language with fluency
and a proper accent; and if even by being
in a French family some degree of both
is attained, it is soon lost by mixing with
the world at large. As to the French which
girls are obliged to speak at boarding-
schools, it does very well to speak in England,
but at Paris it would probably be
less understood than English itself.

I do not mean by this to say that the
speaking of French is not a very elegant
accomplishment; and to those who mean to
spend some time in France, or who being
in very high life often see foreigners of
distinction, it may be necessary; but in
common life it is very little so: and for D2r 51
English people to meet together to talk a
foreign language is truly absurd. There
is a sarcasm against this practice as old
as Chaucer’s time— “……Frenche she spake ful fayre and fetisely,After the schole of Stratford atte Bowe,For Frenche of Paris was to her unknowe.”
But with regard to reading French, the
many charming publications in that language,
particularly in polite literature, of
which you can have no adequate idea by
translation, render it a very desirable acquisition.
Writing it is not more useful
in itself than speaking, except a person has
foreign letters to write; but it is necessary
for understanding the language grammatically
and fixing the rules in the mind.
A young person who reads French with
ease and is so well grounded as to write it
grammatically, and has what I should call
a good English pronunciation of it, will
by a short residence in France gain fluency
and the accent; whereas one not
grounded would soon forget all she had D2 D2v 52
learned, though she had acquired some
fluency in speaking. For speaking, therefore,
love and cultivate your own: know
all its elegancies, its force, its happy turns
of expression, and possess yourself of all
its riches. In foreign languages you have
only to learn; but with regard to your own,
you have probably to unlearn, and to avoid
vulgarisms and provincial barbarisms.

If after you have learned French you
should wish to add Italian, the acquisition
will not be difficult. It is valuable on account
of its poetry, in which it far excels
the French,—and its music. The other modern
languages you will hardly attempt,
except led to them by some peculiar bent.

History affords a wide field of entertaining
and useful reading. The chief
thing to be attended to in studying it, is
to gain a clear well-arranged idea of facts
in chronological order, and illustrated by
a knowledge of the places where such facts
happened. Never read without tables and
maps: make abstracts of what you read. D3r 53
Before you embarrass yourself in the detail
of this, endeavour to fix well in your
mind the arrangement of some leading
facts, which may serve as landmarks to
which to refer the rest. Connect the history
of different countries together. In
the study of history the different genius of
a woman I imagine will show itself. The
detail of battles, the art of sieges, will not
interest her so much as manners and sentiment;
this is the food she assimilates to

The great laws of the universe, the nature
and properties of those objects which
surround us, it is unpardonable not to
know: it is more unpardonable to know,
and not to feel the mind struck with lively
gratitude. Under this head are comprehended
natural history, astronomy, botany,
experimental philosophy, chemistry, physics.
In these you will rather take what
belongs to sentiment and to utility than
abstract calculations or difficult problems.
You must often be content to know a thing D3v 54
is so, without understanding the proof.
It belongs to a Newton to prove his sublime
problems, but we may all be made
acquainted with the result. You cannot
investigate; you may remember. This will
teach you not to despise common things,
will give you an interest in every thing you
see. If you are feeding your poultry, or
tending your bees, or extracting the juice
of herbs, with an intelligent mind you are
gaining real knowledge; it will open to
you an inexhaustible fund of wonder and
delight, and effectually prevent you from
depending for your entertainment on the
poor novelties of fashion and expense.

But of all reading, what most ought to
engage your attention are works of sentiment
and morals. Morals is that study
in which alone both sexes have an equal
interest; and in sentiment yours has even
the advantage. The works of this kind
often appear under the seducing form of
novel and romance: here great care, and
the advice of your older friends is requisite D4r 55
in the selection. Whatever is true, however
uncouth in the manner or dry in the
subject, has a value from being true: but
fiction in order to recommend itself must
give us la belle Nature. You will find fewer
plays fit for your perusal than novels, and
fewer comedies than tragedies.

What particular share any one of the
studies I have mentioned may engage
of your attention will be determined by
your peculiar turn and bent of mind. But
I shall conclude with observing, that a
woman ought to have that general tincture
of them all which marks the cultivated
mind. She ought to have enough of them
to engage gracefully in general conversation.
In no subject is she required to be
deep,—of none ought she to be ignorant.
If she knows not enough to speak well, she
should know enough to keep her from
speaking at all; enough to feel her ground
and prevent her from exposing her ignorance;
enough to hear with intelligence, to
ask questions with propriety, and to receive D4v 56
information where she is not qualified to
give it. A woman who to a cultivated
mind joins that quickness of intelligence
and delicacy of taste which such a woman
often possesses in a superior degree, with
that nice sense of propriety which resutls
from the whole, will have a kind of tact
by which she will be able on all occasions
to discern between pretenders to science
and men of real merit. On subjects upon
which she cannot talk herself, she will
know whether a man talks with knowledge
of his subject. She will not judge of systems,
but by their systems she will be
able to judge of men. She will distinguish
the modest, the dogmatical, the affected,
the over-refined, and give her esteem and
confidence accordingly. She will know
with whom to confide the education of her
children, and how to judge of their progress
and the methods used to improve
them. From books, from conversation,
from learned instructors, she will gather
the flower of every science; and her mind, D5r 57
in assimilating every thing to itself, will
adorn it with new graces. She will give
the tone to the conversation even when she
chooses to bear but an inconsiderable part
in it. The modesty which prevents her
from an unnecessary display of what she
knows, will cause it to be supposed that
her knowledge is deeper than in reality it
is:—as when the landscape is seen through
the veil of a mist, the bounds of the horizon
are hid. As she will never obtrude
her knowledge, none will ever be sensible
of any deficiency in it, and her silence will
seem to proceed from discretion rather
than a want of information. She will
seem to know every thing by leading every
one to speak of what he knows; and when
she is with those to whom she can give no
real information, she will yet delight
them by the original turns of thought
and sprightly elegance which will attend
her manner of speaking on any subject.
Such is the character to whom profest
scholars will delight to give information, D5 D5v 58
from whom others will equally delight to
receive it:—the character I wish you to
become, and to form which your application
must be directed.


The Rich and the Poor:

A Dialogue.

Mamma! said Harriet Beechwood, I have
just heard such a proud speech of a poor
man! you would wonder if you heard it.

Not much, Harriet; for pride and poverty
can very well agree together:—but
what was it?

Why, mamma, you know the charity-
school that Lady Mary has set up, and
how neat the girls look in their brown
stuff gowns and little straw bonnets.

Yes, I think it is a very good institution;
the poor girls are taught to read and
spell and sew, and what is better still, to
be good.

Well, mamma, Lady Mary’s gardener, a
poor man who lives in a cottage just by the
great house, has a little girl; and so, because
she was a pretty little girl, Lady Mary D6v 60
offered to put her into this school;—and do
you know he would not let her go!


Yes; he thanked her, and said, “I have
only one little girl, and I love her dearly;
but though I am a poor man, I had rather
work my fingers to the bone than she
should wear a charity dress.”

I do not doubt, my dear Harriet, that a
great many people will have the same
idea of this poor man’s behaviour which
you have; but for my own part, I am inclined
to think it indicates something of a
noble and generous spirit.

Was it not proud to say she should not
wear a charity dress?

Why should she?—would you wear a
charity dress?

O, mamma, but this is a poor man!

He is able to pay for her learning, I
suppose; otherwise he would certainly do
wrong to refuse his child the advantage
of instruction because his feelings were
hurt by it.

D7r 61

Yes, he is going to put her to Dame
across the Green; she will have
half a mile to walk.

That will do her no hurt.

But he is throwing his money away; for
he might have his little girl taught for nothing;
and as he is a poor man he ought
to be thankful for it.

Pray what do you mean by a poor

O, a man—those men that live in poor
houses, and work all day, and are hired
for it.

I cannot tell exactly how you define a
poor house: but as to working, your papa is
in a public office, and works all day long,
and more hours certainly than the labourer
does; and he is hired to it, for he would
not do the work but for the salary they
give him.

But you do not live like those poor people,
and you do not wear a check apron
like the gardener’s wife.

Neither am I covered with lace and D7v 62
jewels like a duchess; there is as much
difference between our manner of living
and that of many people above us in fortune,
as between ours and this gardener’s
whom you call poor.

What is being poor then? is there no
such thing?

Indeed I hardly know how to answer
your question: rich and poor are comparative
terms; and provided a man is in no
want of the necessaries of life and is not
in debt, he can only be said to be poor
comparatively with others, of whom the
same might be affirmed by those who are
still richer. But to whatever degree of
indigence you apply the term, you must
take care not to confound a poor man with
a pauper.

What is a pauper? I thought they had
been the same thing?

A pauper is one who cannot maintain
himself, and who is maintained by the
charity of the community. Your gardener
was not a pauper; he worked for what he D8r 63
had, and he paid for what he had; and
therefore he had a right to expect that his
child should not be confounded with the
children of the idle, the profligate, and the
dissolute, who are maintained upon charity.
I wish the lower classes had more of this
honourable pride.

Is it a crime to be a pauper?

To be a pauper is often the consequence
of vice; and where it is not, it justly degrades
a man from his rank in society.
If the gardener’s daughter were to wear a
kind of charity badge, the little girls she
plays with would consider her as having
lost her rank in society. You would not
like to lose your rank, and to be thrust
down lower than your proper place in society.
There are several things it would
not at all hurt you to do, which you would
not choose to do on this account. For
instance, to carry a bandbox through
the street;—yet it would not hurt you to
carry a bandbox, you would carry a greater
weight in your garden for pleasure.

D8v 64

But I thought gardeners and such sort
of people had no rank?

That is a very great mistake. Every
one has his rank, his place in society; and
so far as rank is a source of honourable
pride, there is less difference in rank between
you and the gardener, than between
the gardener and a pauper. Between the
greater part of those we call different
classes, there is only the difference of less
and more; the spending a hundred, or five
hundred, or five thousand a year; the eating
off earthenware, or china, or plate:
but there is a real and essential difference
between the man who provides for his family
by his own exertions, and him who
is supported by charity. The gardener
has a right to stretch out his nervous arm
and to say, “This right hand, under Providence,
provides for myself and my family;
I earn what I eat, I am a burthen to no
one, and therefore if I have any superfluity
I have a right to spend it as I please, and
to dress my little girl to my own fancy.”

D9r 65

But do you not think, mamma, that a
brown stuff gown and a straw bonnet
would be a much properer dress for the
lower sort of people than any thing gaudy?
If they are much dressed, you know, we always
laugh at their vulgar finery.

They care very little for your laughing
at them; they do not dress to please you.

Whom do they dress to please?

Whom do you dress to please?

You, my dear mamma, and papa.

Not entirely, I fancy;—you tell me the
truth, but not the whole truth. Well, they
dress to please their papas and mammas,
their young companions, and their sweethearts.

I have often heard Lady Selina say,
that if all the lower orders were to have a
plain uniform dress, it would be much
better; and that if a poor person is neat
and clean, it is quite enough.

Better for whom?—enough for whom?
for themselves, or for us? They have a
natural love of ornament as well as we D9v 66
have. It is true they can do our work as
well in a plainer dress; but when the
work is done and the time of enjoyment
comes,—in the dance on the green, or the
tea-party among their friends,—who shall
hinder them from indulging their taste and
fancy, and laying out the money they have
so fairly earned in what best pleases them?

But they are not content without following
our fashions; and they are so ridiculous
in their imitations of them. I was
quite diverted to see Molly the pastry-
cook’s girl tossing her head about in a hat
and ribbon which I dare say she thought
very fashionable; but such a caricature of
the mode—I was so diverted.

You may be diverted with a safer conscience
when I assure you that the laugh
goes round. London laughs at the country,
the court laughs at the city, and I
dare say your pastry-cook’s girl laughs at
somebody who is distanced by herself in
the race of fashion.

But every body says, and I have heard D10r 67
you say, mamma, that the kind of people
I mean, and servants particularly, are very
extravagant in dress.

That unfortunately is true: they very
often are so, and when they marry they
suffer for it severely;—but do not you think
many young ladies are equally so? Did
you not see at your last dancing-school
ball many a girl whose father cannot give
her a thousand pounds, covered with lace
and ornaments?

It is very true.

Are not duchesses driven by extravagance
to pawn their plate and jewels?

I have heard so.

The only security against improper expense
is dignity of mind, and moderation:
these are not common in any rank; and I
do not know why we should expect them
to be more common among the lower and
uneducated classes than among the higher.
—To return to your gardener. He has certainly
a right to dress his girl as he pleases
without asking you or me: but I shall D10v 68
think he does not make a wise use of that
right if he lays out his money in finery,
instead of providing the more substantial
comforts and enjoyments of life. And I
should think exactly the same of my neighbour
in the great house in the park.

Have servants a rank?

Certainly; and you will find them very
tenacious of it. A gentleman’s butler will
not go behind a coach; a lady’s maid will
not go on an errand.

Are they not very saucy to refuse doing
it, if they are ordered?

No; if they refuse civilly. They are
hired to do certain things, not to obey
you in every thinkg. There are many ranks
above, but there are also many ranks below
them; and they have both the right
and the inclination to support their place
in society.

But their masters would respect them
the more if they did not stand upon these

But I have told you it is not our approbation D11r 69
they seek. When the lower orders
mix with the higher, it is to maintain
themselves and get money; and if they
are honest, they will do their work faithfully:
but it is amongst their equals that
they seek for affection, applause, and admiration;
and there they meet with it. It
matters very little in what rank a man is,
provided he is esteemed and reckoned a
man of consequence there. The feelings
of vanity are exactly the same in
a countess’s daughter dancing at court,
and a milkwoman figuring at a country

But surely, mamma, the countess’s
daughter will be more really elegant?

That will depend very much upon individual
taste. However, the higher ranks
have so many advantages for cultivating
taste, so much money to lay out in decoration,
and are so early taught the graces
of air and manner to set off those decorations,
that it would be absurd to deny D11v 70
their superiority in this particular. But
Taste has one great enemy to contend with.

What is that?

Fashion,—an arbitrary and capricious
tyrant, who reigns with the most despotic
sway over that department which Taste
alone ought to regulate. It is Fashion
that imprisons the slender nymph in the
vast rotunda of the hoop, and loads her
with heavy ornaments, when she is conscious,
if she dared rebel, she should dance
lighter and look better in a dress of one
tenth part of the price. Fashion sometimes
orders her to cut off her beautiful
tresses, and present the appearance of a
cropped school-boy; and though this is a
sacrifice which a nun going to be profest
looks upon as one of the severest she is to
make, she obeys without a murmur. The
winter arrives, and she is cold; but Fashion
orders her to leave off half her clothes,
and be abroad half the night. She complies,
though at the risk of her life. A D12r 71
great deal more might be said about this
tyrant; but as we have had enough of
grave conversation for the present, we
will here drop the subject.


a Curious Animal
Lately Found
in the Wilds of Derbyshire.

This little creature, which seems a very
beautiful specimen of the species to which
it belongs, is about the size of a common
monkey, which it likewise much resembles
in its agility and various tricks. The eye
is very lively, wild, and roving; teeth
white and sharp; body covered with a
woolly integument, except the head and
fore feet; hair rude and tangled, hangs
about the shoulders and covers the forehead
as low as the eyes, rest of the face
naked; skin soft and white; cheeks full and
of a glowing red; under lip swelled and E1r 73
pouting; paws white with streaks of brown;
claws long, toes of the hind feet joined

Habits.—This animal walks, indifferently,
on two or on four feet, feeds itself with
its fore feet, makes a chattering noise,
climbs, leaps and runs, and has a spring
in its muscles equal to an antelope; has a
wonderful suppleness in its limbs, which
it can twist into various attitudes, all surprisingly
graceful; is always in motion,
except when basking by the fire, of which
it is very fond in winter. Will often
shake its hair over the whole face, which
gives it a look of peculiar wildness. Is
very good-natured and playful, caressing
to its keeper and every one who takes
notice of it. Is however easily put in a
passion, and when angry makes a threatening
noise, but is soon put to flight by the
least show of resistance. If seized, kicks
with its hind legs: is however tolerably
docile, considering how lately it has been E E1v 74
caught. Feeds on fruits, roots, or flesh;
will eat cakes or nuts out of the hand.
To be seen at the Rev. Mr. B.’s menagerie,
with many other young animals
equally curious.


On the Classics.

The authors known by the name of the
Greek and Roman Classics have laid the
foundation of all that is excellent in modern
literature; and are so frequently referred
to both in books and conversation,
that a person of a cultivated mind cannot
easily be content without obtaining some
knowledge of them, even though he should
not be able to read them in their original
tongues. A clear and short account of
these authors in a chronological series,
together with a sketch of the character of
their several productions, for the use of
those who have either none or a very superficial
knowledge of the languages they
are written in, is, as far as I know, a desideratum
which it is much to be wished that
some elegant scholar should supply: in
the mean time a few general remarks upon
them may be not unacceptable.

E2 E2v 76

In the larger sense of the word, an
author is called a Classic when his work
has stood the test of time long enough to
become a permanent part of the literature
of his country. Of the number of writings
which in their day have attained a portion
of fame, very few in any age have survived
to claim this honourable distinction. Every
circumstance which gave temporary celebrity
must be forgotten; party must have
subsided; the voice of friends and of enemies
must be silent; and the writer himself
must have long mouldered in the dust,
before the gates of immortality are opened
to him. It is in vain that he attempts to
flatter or to soothe his contemporaries, they
are not called to the decision; his merits
are to be determined by a race he has
never seen; the judges are not yet born
who are to pronounce on the claims of
Darwin and of Cowper. The severe impartiality
of Posterity stands aloof from
every consideration but that of excellence,
and from her verdict there is no appeal.

E3r 77

It is true, indeed, that amidst the revolutions
of ages, particularly before the
invention of printing, accidental circumstances
must often have had great influence
in the preservation of particular writings:
and we know and lament that many are
lost which the learned world would give
treasures of gold to recover. But it cannot
easily happen that a work should be preserved
without superior merit; and indeed
we know from the testimony of antiquity,
that the works which have come down to
us, and which we read and admire, are in
general the very works which by the
Greeks and Romans themselves were esteemed
most excellent.

It is impossible to contemplate without
a sentiment of reverence and enthusiasm,
these venerable writings which have survived
the wreck of empires; and, what is
more, of languages; which have received the
awful stamp of immortality, and are crowned
with the applause of so many successive ages.
It is wonderful that words should live so E3v 78
much longer than marble temples;—words,
which at first are only uttered breath; and,
when afterwards enshrined and fixed in a
visible form by the admirable invention of
writing, committed to such frail and perishable
materials: yet the light paper bark
floats down the stream of time, and lives
through the storms which have sunk so
many stronger built vessels. Homer is
read, though “The grass now grows where
Troy town stood”
: and nations once despised
as barbarous appretiate the merit of Cicero’s
orations on the banks of the Thames,
when the long honours of the Consulate
are vanished, and the language of Rome is
no longer spoken on the shores of the
Tiber. “Still green with bays each ancient altar stands,Above the reach of sacrilegious hands;Secure from flames, from envy’s fiercer rage,Destructive war and all-involving age.See from each clime the learn’d their incense bring,Hear in all tongues consenting Pæans ring!”

It is owing to the preservation of a few E4r 79
books of the kind we are speaking of, that
at the revival of letters the world had not
to go back to the very beginnings of
science. When the storm of barbaric
rage had past over and spent itself, they
were drawn from the mould of ruins and
dust of convents, and were of essential
service in forming our taste and giving a
direction to the recovered energies of the
human mind. Oral instruction can benefit
but one age and one set of hearers; but
these silent teachers address all ages and
all nations. They may sleep for a while
and be neglected; but whenever the desire
of information springs up in the human
breast, there they are with their mild wisdom
ready to instruct and please us. The
Philosopher opens again his school; his
maxims have lost nothing of their truth:
the harmony of the Poet’s numbers,
though locked up for a time, becomes
again vocal; and we find that what was
nature and passion two thousand years
ago, is nature and passion still.

E4v 80

Books are a kind of perpetual censors on
men and manners; they judge without partiality,
and reprove without fear or affection.
There are times when the flame of virtue
and liberty seems almost to be extinguished
amongst the existing generation; but
their animated pages are always at hand
to rekindle it. The Despot trembles on his
throne, and the bold bad man turns pale
in his closet at the sentence pronounced
against him ages before he was born.

In addition to their intrinsic value, there
is much incidental entertainment in consulting
authors who flourished at so remote a
period. Every little circumstance becomes
curious as we discover allusions to customs
now obsolete, or draw indications of the
temper of the times from the various slight
hints and casual pieces of information
which may be gathered up by the ingenious
critic. Sometimes we have the pleasure
of being admitted into the cabinet of
a great man, and leaning as it were over
his shoulder while he is pouring himself E5r 81
out in the freedom of a confidential intercourse
which was never meant to meet the
eye even of his contemporaries. At another
time we are delighted to witness the conscious
triumph of a genius who, with a generous
confidence in his powers, prophesies
his own immortality, and to feel as we read
that his proud boast has not been too presumptuous.
Another advantage of reading
the ancients is, that we trace the stream of
ideas to their spring. It is always best to
go to the fountain head. We can never have
a just idea of the comparative merit of the
moderns, without knowing how much they
have derived from imitation. It is amusing
to follow an idea from century to century,
and observe the gradual accession of
thought and sentiment; to see the jewels
of the ancients new set, and the wit of
Horace sparkling with additional lustre in
the lines of Pope.

The real sources of History can only be
known by some acquaintance with the original
authors. This indeed will often be E5 E5v 82
found to betray the deficiency of our documents,
and the difficulty of reconciling
jarring accounts. It will sometimes unclothe
and exhibit in its original bareness what the
art of the moderns has drest up and rounded
into form. It will show the unsightly
chasms and breaks which the modern
compiler passes over with a light foot; and
perhaps make us sceptical with regard to
many particulars of which we formerly
thought we had authentic information. But
it is always good to know the real measure
of our knowledge. That knowledge would
be greater, if the treasures of antiquity had
come to us undiminished: but this is not
the case. Besides the loss of many mentioned
with honour by their contemporaries,
few authors are come down to us entire;
and of some exquisite productions only
fragments are extant. The full stream of
narration is sometimes suddenly checked
at the most interesting period, and the
sense of a brilliant passage is clouded by
the obscurity of a single word. The literary E6r 83
productions are come to us in a similar
state with the fine statues of antiquity:
of which some have lost an arm, others a
leg; some a little finger only: scarce any
have escaped some degree of mutilation;
and sometimes a trunk is dug up so shorn
of its limbs, that the antiquaries are puzzled
to make out to what god or hero it
originally belonged. To the frequent loss
of part of an author must be added the
difficulty of deciphering what remains.

Ancient manuscripts are by no means
easy to read. You are not to imagine, when
you see a fair edition of Virgil, or Horace,
divided into verses and accurately pointed,
that you see it in any thing like its original
state. The oldest manuscripts are
written wholly in capitals, and without any
separation of letters into words. Passing
through many hands, they have suffered
from the mistakes or carelessness of
transcribers; by which so great an obscurity
is thrown on many passages, that very
often he who makes the happiest guess is E6v 84
the best commentator. But this very obscurity
has usefully exercised the powers
of the human mind. It became a great
object, at the revival of letters, to compare
different readings; to elucidate a text by
parallel passages; to supply by probable
conjecture what was necessary to make an
author speak sense; and by every possible
assistance of learning and sound criticism,
together with typographical advantages,
to restore the beauty and splendour of the
classic page. Verbal criticism was at
that time of great and real use; and those
who are apt to undervalue it, are little
aware how much labour was requisite to
reduce the confused or mutilated work of a
thousand years back to form and order.

This task was well fitted for an age recently
emerged out of barbarism. The enthusiastic
admiration with which men were
struck on viewing the master-pieces of
human genius, and even the superstitious
veneration with which they regarded every
thing belonging to them, tended to form E7r 85
their taste by a quicker process than if
they had been left to make the most of their
own abilities. By degrees the moderns felt
their own powers; they learned to imitate,
and perhaps to excell what before they idolized.
But a considerable period had passed
before any of the modern languages were
thought worthy of being the vehicle of the
discoveries of science or even of the effusions
of fancy. Christianity did not as
might have been expected, bring into discredit
the pagan philosophy. Aristotle
reigned in the schools, where he was regarded
with a veneration fully equal to what
was expressed for the sainted fathers of
the church; and as to the mythology of
the ancients, it is so beautiful that all our
earlier poetry has been modeled upon it.
Even yet, the predilection for the Latin
language is apparent in our inscriptions,
in the public exercises of our schools and
universities, and the general bent of the
studies of youth. In short, all our knowledge
and all our taste has been built upon E7v 86
the foundation of the ancients; and without
knowing what they have done, we cannot
estimate rightly the merit of our own authors.

It may naturally be asked why the
Greek and Roman writers alone are called
by the name of Classics. It is true the
Hebrew might be esteemed so, if we did
not receive them upon a higher ground of
merit. As to the Persian and Arabic
with other languages of countries once
highly cultivated, their authors are not
taken into the account, partly because they
are understood by so few, and partly because
their idioms and modes of expression,
if not of feeling, are so remote from
ours that we can scarcely enter into their
merits. Their writings are comprehended
under the name of Oriental literature. It
has been more cultivated of late, particularly
by Sir William Jones; and our East India
possessions will continue to draw our
attention that way: but curiosity is gratified
rather than taste. We are pleased indeed E8r 87
with occasional beauties, sometimes a pure
maxim of morality and sometimes a glowing
figure of speech; but they do not enter
into the substance of the mind, which ever
must be fed and nourished by the classic
literature of Greece and Rome.

I shall subjoin a few specimens of the
mythological stories of the ancients.


Atalanta was a beautiful young woman,
exceedingly swift of foot. She had many
lovers; but she resolved not to marry till
she could meet with one who should conquer
her in running. A great many young
men proposed themselves, and lost their
lives; for the conditions were, that if they
were overcome in the race they should be
put to death. At length she was challenged
by Hippomenes, a brave and handsome
youth. “Do you know,” said Atalanta,
“that nobody has yet been found who excells E8v 88
me in swiftness, and that you must be
put to death if you do not win the race?
I should be sorry to have any more young
men put to death.”
“I am not afraid,” said
Hippomenes; “I think I shall win the race
and win you too.”

So the ground was marked out and the
day appointed, and a great number of
spectators gathered together; and Atalanta
stood with her garments tucked up, and
Hippomenes by her, waiting impatiently for
the signal. At length it was given; and immediately
they both started at the same
instant, and ran with their utmost speed
across the plain. But Atalanta flew like the
wind, and soon outstripped the young man.
Then Hippomenes drew from his vest a
golden apple, which had been given him
by Venus from the gardens of the Hesperides,
and threw it from him with all his
force. The virgin saw it glittering as it
rolled across the plain, and ran out of the
course to pick it up. While she was doing
so, Hippomenes passed her, and the spectators E9r 89
shouted for joy. However, Atalanta
redoubled her speed, soon overtook Hippomenes,
and again got before him. Upon
this, Hippomenes produced another
golden apple, and threw it as before. It
rolled a great way out of the course, and
the virgin was thrown very far behind by
picking it up. She had great difficulty this
time to recover her lost ground, and the
spectators shouted “Hippomenes will win!
Hippomenes will win!”
but Atalanta was
so light, so nimble, and exerted herself so
much, that at length she passed him as before,
and flew as if she had wings towards
the goal. And now she had but a little way
to run; and the people said, “Poor Hippomenes!
he will lose after all, and be put to
death like the rest;—see, see how she gains
ground of him! how near the goal she is!
Atalanta will win the race.”
Then Hippomenes
took another golden apple,—it was
the last he had, and prayed to Venus to
give him success, and threw it behind him.
Atalanta saw it, and considered a moment E9v 90
whether she should venture to delay herself
again by picking it up. She knew she
ran the risk of losing the race, but she
could not withstand the beautiful glittering
of the apple as it rolled along; and she
said to herself, “I shall easily overtake
Hippomenes, as I did before.”
But she
was mistaken; for they had now so little a
way to run, that though she skimmed along
the plain like a bird, and exerted all her
strength, she was too late. Hippomenes
reached the goal before her: she was obliged
to own herself conquered, and to marry
him according to the agreement.


Arion was a poet of Lesbos, who sung
his own verses to his harp. He had been
a good while at the court of Periander tyrant
of Corinth, and had acquired great
riches, with which he was desirous to return
to his native country. He therefore E10r 91
made an agreement with a captain of a ship
to carry him to Mitylene in Lesbos, and
they set sail. But the captain and crew,
tempted by the wealth which he had on
board, determined to seize his gold and
throw him into the sea. When poor Arion
heard their cruel intention, he submitted
to his fate, for he knew he could not resist,
and only begged they would allow him to
give them one tune upon his harp before
he died. This they complied with; and
Arion, standing on the deck, drew from
his harp such melodious strains, accompanied
with such moving verses, that any
body but these cruel sailors would have
been touched with them. When he had
finished they threw him into the sea, where
they supposed he was swallowed up: but
that was not the case; for a dolphin, which
had been drawn towards the ship by the
sweetness of Arion’s voice, swam to him,
took him gently upon his back, conveyed
him safely over the waves, and landed him
at Tenæra, whence he returned to Periander. E10v 92
Periander was very much surprised
to see him come again in such a forlorn
and destitute condition, and asked him the
reason. Arion told his story. Periander
bade him conceal himself till the sailors
should return from their voyage, and he
would do him justice. When the ship returned
from its voyage, Periander ordered
the sailors to be brought before him, and
asked them what they had done with Arion.
They said he had died during the voyage,
and that they had buried him. Then Periander
ordered Arion to appear before
them in the clothes he wore when they
cast him into the sea. At this plain proof
of their guilt they were quite confounded,
and Periander put them all to death. It is
said further, that the dolphin was taken up
into the heavens and turned into a constellation.
—It is a small constellation, of moderate
brightness, and has four stars in the
form of a rhombus; you will find it south
of the Swan, and a little west of the bright
star Alcair.

E11r 93

Venus and Adonis.

The goddess Venus loved Adonis, a mortal.
Beautiful Venus loved the beautiful
Adonis. She often said to him, “O Adonis!
be content to lie crowned with flowers
by the fresh fountains, and to feed upon
honey and nectar, and to be lulled to sleep
by the warbling of birds; and do not expose
your life by hunting the tawny lion or the
tusky boar, or any savage beast. Take care
of that life, which is so dear to Venus!”

But Adonis would not listen to her. He
loved to rise early in the morning while the
dew was upon the grass, and to beat the
thickets with his well-trained hounds, whose
ears swept the ground. With his darts
he pierced the nimble fawns and the kids
with budding horns, and brought home the
spoil upon his shoulders. But one day he
wounded a fierce bristly boar; the arrow
stuck in his side, and made the animal mad
with pain: he rushed upon Adonis, and
gored his thigh with his sharp tusks. Beautiful E11v 94
Adonis fell to the ground like a lily
that is rooted up by a sudden storm: his
blood flowed in crimson streams down his
fair side; and his eyelids closed, and the
shades of death hovered over his pale brow.

In the mean time the evening came on,
and Venus had prepared a garland of fresh
leaves and flowers to bind around the glowing
temples of Adonis when he should come
hot and tired from the chase, and a couch
of rose-leaves to rest his weary limbs: and
she said, “Why does not Adonis come!
Return, Adonis! let me hear the sound of
your feet! let me hear the voice of your
dogs! let them lick my hands, and make
me understand that their master is approaching!”
—But Adonis did not return;
and the dark night came, and the rosy
morning appeared again, and still he did
not appear. Then Venus sought him in
the plains and through the thickets, and
amidst the rough brakes; and her veil was
torn with the thorns, and her feet bruised
and bleeding with the sharp pebbles; for E12r 95
she ran hither and thither like a distracted
person. And at length upon the mountain
she found him whom she loved so dearly:
but she found him cold and dead, with
his faithful dogs beside him.

Then Venus rent her beautiful tresses,
and beat her breast, and pierced the air with
her loud lamentations; and the little Cupids
that accompany her broke their ivory bows
for grief, and scattered upon the ground the
arrows of their golden quivers: and they
said, “We mourn Adonis; Venus mourns
for beautiful Adonis; the Loves mourn along
with her. Beautiful Adonis lies dead upon
the ground, his side gored with the tooth
of a boar,—his white thigh with a white
tooth. Venus kisses the cold lips of Adonis;
but Adonis does not know that he is
kissed, and she cannot revive him with her
warm breath.”

Then Venus said, “You shall not quite
die, my Adonis! I will change you into
a flower.”
And she shed nectar on the
ground, which mixed with the blood, and E12v 96
presently a crimson flower sprung up in
the room of Adonis; and also the river was
tinged with his blood and became red.

And every year, on the day that Adonis
died, the nymphs mourned and lamented
for him, and ran up and down shrieking,
and crying “Beautiful Adonis is dead!”


Letter of a Young King.


Amidst the mutual compliments and kind
wishes which are universally circulated at
this season, I hope mine will not be the
least acceptable; and I have thought proper
to give you this early assurance of my
kind intentions towards you, and the benefits
I have in store for you: for though I
am appointed your sovereign; though your
fates and fortune, your life and death, are
at my disposal; yet I am fully sensible that I
was created for my subjects, not my subjects
for me; and that the end of my very
existence is to diffuse blessings on my

My predecessor departed this life last
night precisely at twelve o’clock. He died of
a universal decay; nature was exhausted in
him, and there was not vital heat sufficient F F1v 98
to carry on the functions of life; his hair
was fallen, and discovered his smooth,
white, bald head; his voice was hoarse and
broken, and his blood froze in his veins:
in short, his time was come. And to say
truth he will not be much regretted;
for of late he had been gloomy and vapourish,
and the sudden gusts of passion
he had long been subject to were worked
up into such storms it was impossible to
live under him with comfort.

With regard to myself, I am sensible
the joy expressed at my accession is sincere,
and that no young monarch has ever been
welcomed with warmer demonstrations of
affection. Some have ardently longed for
my coming, and all view my approach
with pleasure and cheerfulness; yet such is
the uncertainty of popular favour, that I well
know that those who are most eager and
sanguine in expressing their joy will soonest
be tired of my company. You yourself,
madam, though I know that at present
you regard me with kindness, as one from F2r 99
whom you expect more happiness than
you have yet enjoyed, will probably after
a short time wish as much to part with
me, and transfer the same fond hopes and
wishes to my successor. But though your
impatience may make me a very troublesome
companion, it will not in the least
hasten my departure; nor can all the powers
of earth oblige me to resign a moment before
my time. In order, therefore, that you
may form proper expectations concerning
me, I shall give you a little sketch of my
temper and manners, and I will acknowledge
that my aspect at present is somewhat
stern and rough; but there is a latent
warmth in my temper which you will perceive
as we grow better acquainted, and I
shall every day put on a milder and more
smiling look: indeed I have so much fire,
that I may chance sometimes to make the
house too hot for you; but in recompense
for this inequality of temper I am kind
and bountiful as a giving God: I come
full-handed, and my very business is to
dispense blessings;—blessings of the basket F2 F2v 100
and the store; blessings of the field and of
the vineyard; blessings for time and for
eternity. There is not an inhabitant of the
globe who will not experience my bounty;
yet such is the ingratitude of mankind,
that there is scarcely one whom I shall
not leave in some degree discontented.

Whimsical and various are the petitions
which are daily put up to me from all
parts; and very few of the petitioners
will be satisfied; because they reject and
despise the gifts I offer them with open
hand, and set their minds on others which
certainly will not fall to their share. Celia
has begged me on her knees to find her a
lover: I shall do what I can; I shall bring
her the most magnificent shawl that has
appeared in Europe. For Dorinda, who
has made the same petition, I have two
gifts,—wisdom and grey hairs; the former
I know she will reject, nor can I force her
to wear it; but the grey hairs I shall leave
on her toilette whether she will or no.
The curate Sophron expects I shall bring
him a living: I shall present him with F3r 101
twins as round and rosy as an apple. Nor
can I listen to the entreaty of Dorimant,
whose good father being a little asthmatic,
he has desired me to push him into his
grave as we walk up May hill together:
but I shall marry him to a handsome
lively girl, who will make a very pretty
stepmother to the young gentleman. It is
in vain for poor Sylvia to weary me as she
does with prayers to restore to her her
faithless lover: but I shall give her the
choice of two, to replace him. Codrus has
asked me if he may bespeak a suit of black:
but I can tell him his little wife will outlive
me and him too: I have offered the
old man a double portion of patience, which
he has thrown away very pettishly. Strephon
has entreated me to take him to Scotland
with his mistress: I shall do it; and
he will hate my very name all his life after.

The wishes of some are very moderate;
Fanny begs two inches of height, and
Chloe that I would take away her awkward
plumpness; Carus a new equipage,
and Philida a new ball-dress. A mother F3v 102
brought me her son the other day, made
me many compliments, and desired me to
teach him every thing; at the same time
begging the youth to throw away his
marbles, which he had often promised to
part with as soon as he saw me:—but the
boy held them fast, and I shall teach him
nothing but to play at taw. Many ladies
have come to me with their daughters in
their hands, telling me they hope their
girls, under me, will learn prudence: but
the young ladies have as constantly desired
me to teach prudence to their grandmothers,
whom it would better become,
and to bring them new dances and new
fashions. In short, I have scarcely seen any
one with whom I am likely entirely to
agree, but a stout old farmer who rents
a small cottage on the green. He was
leaning on his spade when I approached
him. As his neighbour told him I was
coming, he welcomed me with a cheerful
countenance; but at the same time bluntly
told me he had not expected me so soon,
being too busy to pay much attention to F4r 103
my approach. I asked him if I could do
any thing for him. He said he did not believe
me better or worse than those who
had preceded me, and therefore should
not expect much from me; that he was
happy before he saw me, and should be
very well contented after I left him: he
was glad to see me, however, and only
begged I would not take his wife from him,
a thin withered old woman who was eating
a mess of milk at the door. “And I
shall be glad too,”
said he, “if you will
fill my cellar with potatoes.”
As he applied
himself to his spade while he said
these words, I shall certainly grant his request.

I shall now tell you, that great and extensive
as my power is, I shall possess it
but a short time. However the predictions
of astrologers are now laughed at, nothing
is more certain than what I am going to
tell you. A scheme of my nativity has
been cast by the most eminent astronomers,
who have found, on consulting the
stars and the aspect of the heavenly bodies, F4v 104
that Capricornus will be fatal to me: I
know that all the physicians in the world
cannot protract my life beyond that fatal
period. I do not tell you this to excite
your sensibility,—for I would have you
meet me without fondness and part with
me without regret; but to quicken you to
lay hold on those advantages I am able to
procure you; for it will be your own fault
if you are not both wiser and better for my
company. I have likewise another request
to make to you,—that you will write my
epitaph: I may make you happy, but it
depends on you to make me famous. If,
after I am departed, you can say my reign
was distinguished by good actions and
wise conversations, and that I have left
you happier than I found you, I shall not
have lived in vain. My sincere wishes
are, that you may long outlive me, but
always remember me with pleasure. I am,
if you use me well,

Your friend and servant,

The New Year.


Written in
the Leaves of an Ivory Pocket-Book,
Presented to Master T*****.

Accept, my dear, this toy; and let me say

The leaves an emblem of your mind display;—

Your youthful mind uncolour’d, fair and white,

Like crystal leaves transparent to the sight,

Fit each impression to receive, whate’er

The pencil of Instruction traces there.

O then transcribe into the shining page

Each virtue that adorns your tender age,

And grave upon the tablet of your heart

Each lofty science and each useful art.

But with the likeness mark the difference well,

Nor think complete the hasty parallel:—

The leaves by Folly scrawl’d, or foul with stains,

A drop of water clears with little pains;

But from a blotted mind the smallest trace

Not seas of bitter tears can e’er efface;

The spreading mark for ever shall remain,

And rolling years but deepen every stain.

F5 F5v 106

Once more a difference let me still explain:—

The vacant leaves for ever will remain,

Till some officious hand the tablet fill

With sense or nonsense, prose or rime at will.

Not so your mind, without your forming care;

Nature forbids an idle vacuum there:

Folly will plant the tares without your toil,

And weeds spring up in the neglected soil.

But why to you this moralizing strain?

Vain is the precept, and the caution vain,

To you, whose opening virtues bloom so fair,

And will reward the prudent planter’s care;

As some young tree, by generous juices fed,

Above its fellows lifts its branching head,

Whose proud aspiring shoots incessant rise,

And every day grows nearer to the skies.

Yet, should kind Heaven your opening mind adorn,

And bless your noon of knowledge as your morn;

Yet, were your mind with every science blest,

And every virtue glowing in your breast,

With learning meekness, and with candour zeal,

Clear to discern, and generous to feel;

Yet, should the Graces o’er your breast diffuse

The softer influence of the polish’d muse,

’Tis no original the world can tell,

And all your praise is but to copy well.


On Plants.

Plants stand next to animals in the scale
of existence: they are, like them, organized
bodies; like them, increase by nutrition,
which is conveyed through a system of
tubes and fine vessels, and assimilated to
their substance; like them, they propagate
their race from a parent, and each seed
produces its own plant; like them, they
grow by insensible degrees from an infant
state to full vigour, and after a certain term
of maturity decay and die. In short, except
the powers of speech and locomotion,
they seem to possess every characteristic of
sentient life.

A plant consists of a root, a stem, leaves,
and a flower or blossom.

The root is bulbous, as the onion; long,
like the parsnip or carrot; or branched out F6v 108
into threads, as the greater number are,
and particularly all the large ones;—a bulbous
root could not support a large tree.

The stem is single or branched, clinging
for support or upright, clothed with
a skin or bark.

The flower contains the principle of reproduction,
as the root does of individuality.
This is the most precious part of
the plant, to which every thing contributes.
The root nourishes it, the stem supports,
the leaves defend and shelter it: it comes
forth but when Nature has prepared for it
by showers and sun and gentle soothing
warmth;—colour, beauty, scent adorn it;
and when it is complete, the end of the
plant’s existence is answered. It fades and
dies; or, if capable by its perennial nature
of repeating the process, it hides in its inmost
folds the precious germ of new being,
and itself almost retires from existence till
a new year.

A tree is one of the most stately and
beautiful objects in God’s visible creation. F7r 109
It does not admit of an exact definition, but
is distinguished from the humbler plant by
its size, the strength of its stem, which becomes
a trunk, and the comparative smallness
of the blossom. In the fruit-trees,
indeed, the number of blossoms compensates
for their want of size; but in the
forest-trees the flower is scarcely visible.
Production seems not to be so important
a process where the parent tree lives for

Every part of vegetables is useful. Of
many the roots are edible, and the seeds are
generally so; of many the leaves, as of the
cabbage, spinach; the buds, as of the asparagus,
cauliflower; the bark is often employed
medicinally, as the quinquina and

The trunk of a tree determines the manner
of its growth, and gives firmness: the
foliage serves to form one mass of a number
of trees; while the distinct lines are
partly seen, partly hidden. The leaves
throw over the branches a rich mantle, like F7v 110
flowing tresses; they wave in the wind with
an undulatory motion, catch the glow of
the evening sun, or glitter with the rain;
they shelter innumerable birds and animals,
and afford variety in colours, from
the bright green of spring to the varied
tints of autumn. In winter, however, the
form of each tree and its elegant ramifications
are discerned, which were lost under
the flowing robe of verdure.

Trees are beautiful in all combinations;
the single tree is so; the clump, the grove,
rising like an amphitheatre; the flowing
line that marks the skirts of wood and the
dark, deep, boundless shade of the forest;
the green line of the hedge-row, the more
artificial avenue, the Gothic arch of verdure,
the tangled thicket.

Young trees are distinguished by beauty,
in maturity their characteristic is strength.
The ruin of a tree is venerable even when
fallen: we are then more sensible of its
towering height: we also observe the root,
the deep fangs which held it against so F8r 111
many storms, and the firmness of the wood;
a sentiment of pity mixes too with our admiration.
The trees in groves and woods
shed a brown religious horror, which favoured
the religion of the ancient world.
Trees shelter from cutting winds and sea
air; they preserve moisture: but if too
many, in their thick and heavy mass lazy
vapours stagnate; their profuse perspiration
is unwholesome; they shut out the
golden sun and ventilating breeze.

It should seem as if the number of trees
must have been diminishing for ages, for
in no cultivated country does the growth
of trees equal the waste of them. A few
gentlemen raise plantations, but many
more cut down; and the farmer thinks
not of so lofty a thing as the growth of
ages. Trees are too lofty to want the
hand of man. The florist may mingle
his tulips and spread the paper ruff on
his carnations; he may trim his mount
of roses and his laurel hedge: but the
lofty growth of trees soars far above him. F8v 112
If he presumes to fashion them with his
shears, and trim them into fanciful or mathematical
shapes, offended taste will mock
all his improvements. Even in planting he
can do little. He may succeed in fancying
a clump or laying out an avenue, and
may perhaps gently incline the boughs to
form the arch; but a forest was never


On a Portrait
A Lady And Two Children.

As nursed by warmer suns and milder showers

In fair Italia’s vales the orange blows;

Heavy at once with fruit and gay with flowers,

The richness of the year she all together shows:

Thus, ere the blossom of her youth is o’er,

Two smiling infants grace Maria’s side;

More lovely fruit than all Pomona’s store,

Her ruddy orchards, or her golden pride.

Less fair, twin apples blushing on a bough,

On whose smooth cheek the ripening summer glows,

Or those which broke fleet Atalanta’s vow,

Or that, from whence celestial strife arose.

Long may the stock, and long the fruit remain,

May their young fondness with their years increase,

Nor ever words unkind, or bitter pain,

Wound the sweet bosom of domestic peace.

And when, late time, the mother’s bloom must fade,

And when the sire shall be by fate removed;

May these their name, their form, their virtues spread,

Like them be happy, and like them be loved.



All the different substances which we
behold have by the earliest philosophers
been resolved into four elements,—Earth,
Water, Air
, and Fire. These, combined
with endless diversity, in their various
dance, under the direction of the great First
Mover, form this scene of things,—so complex,
so beautiful, so infinitely varied!

Earth is the element which on many accounts
claims our chief notice. It forms
the bulk of that vast body of matter which
composes our globe; and, like the bones to
the human body, it gives firmness, shape,
and solidity to the various productions of
Nature. It is ponderous, dull, unanimated,
ever seeking the lowest place; and, except
moved by some external impulse, prone to
rest in one sluggish mass. Yet when fermented F10r 115
into life by the quickening power
of vegetation,—in how many forms of grace
and beauty does it rise to the admiring eye!
How gay, how vivid with colours! how fragrant
with smells! how rich with tastes,—
luscious, poignant, sapid, mild, pungent, or
saccharine! Into what delicate textures is
it spread out in the thin leaf of the rose, or
the light film of the floating gossamer!
How curious in the elegant ramifications of
trees and shrubs, or the light dust which
the microscope discovers to contain the
seed of future plants!

Nor has Earth less of magnificence, in
the various appearances with which upon
a larger scale its broad surface is diversified;
—whether we behold it stretched out
into immense plains and vast savannahs,
whose level green is only bounded by the
horizon; or moulded into those gentle risings
and easy declivities whose soft and undulating
lines court the pencil of the landscape-painter;
or whether, swelled into bulk
enormous, it astonishes the eye with vast F10v 116
masses of solid rock and long-continued
bulwarks of stone. Such are the Pyrenees,
the Alps, the Andes, which stand the everlasting
boundaries of nations; and, while
kingdoms rise and fall, and the lesser works
of nature change their appearance all
around them, immoveable on their broad
basis, strike the mind with an idea of stability
little short of eternal duration.

If from the mountains which possess the
middle of Earth we bend our course to the
green verge of her dominions, the utmost
limits of her shores, where land and water,
like two neighbouring potentates, wage eternal
war,—with what steady majesty does she
repel the encroachments of the ever-restless
ocean, and dash the turbulence of waves
from her strong-ribbed sides!

Nor do thy praises end here:—With a
kind of filial veneration I hail thee, O universal
mother of all the elements,—to man
the most mild, the most beneficent, the
most congenial! Man himself is formed
from thee: on thy maternal breast he reposes F11r 117
when weary; thy teeming lap supplies
him with never-failing plenty: and
when for a few years he has moved about
upon thy surface, he is gathered again to
thy peaceful bosom, at once his nurse, his
cradle, and his grave.

Who can reckon up the benefits supplied
to us by this parent Earth,—ever serviceable,
ever indulgent! with how many productions
does she reward the labour of the
cultivator! how many more does she pour
out spontaneously! How faithfully does she
keep, with what large interest does she restore,
the seed committed to her by the husbandman!
What an abundance does she
yield, of food for the poor, of delicacies for
the rich! Her wealth is inexhaustible; and
all that is called riches amongst men consists
in possessing a small portion of her surface.

How patiently does she support the various
burdens laid upon her! We tear her with
ploughs and harrows, we crush her with
castles and palaces; nay we penetrate her
very bowels, and bring to light the veined F11v 118
marble, the pointed crystal, the ponderous
ores and sparkling gems, deep hid in darkness
the more to excite the industry of
man. Yet, torn and harassed as she might
seem to be, our mother Earth is still fresh
and young, as if she but now came out of
the hands of her Creator. Her harvests
are as abundant, her horn of plenty as
overflowing, her robe as green, her unshorn
tresses (the waving foliage of brown
forests) as luxuriant; and all her charms
as blooming and full of vigour. Such she
remains, and such we trust she will remain,
till in some fated hour the more devouring
element of fire, having broke the
bonds of harmonious union, shall seize
upon its destined prey, and all nature sink
beneath the mighty ruin.


On the Uses of History.

Letter I.

My Dear Lydia,

I was told the other day that you have not
forgotten a promise of mine to correspond
with you upon some subject which might be
worth discussing, and relative to your pursuits.
I have often recollected it also; and
as promises ought not only to be recollected
but fulfilled, I will without further preface
throw together some thoughts on History,
a study that I know you value as
it deserves; and I trust it will not be disagreeable
to you, if you should find some
observations which your own mind may
have suggested, or which you may recollect
to have heard from me in some of those
hours which we spent together with mutual

Much has been said of the uses of history. F12v 120
They are no doubt many, yet do not
apply equally to all: but it is quite sufficient
to make it a study worth our pains
and time, that it satisfies the desire which
naturally arises in every intelligent mind to
know the transactions of the country, of
the globe in which he lives. Facts, as facts,
interest our curiosity and engage our attention.

Suppose a person placed in a part
of the country where he was a total
stranger; he would naturally ask, who are
the chief people of the place, what family
they are of, whether any of their ancestors
have been famous, and for what. If he see
a ruined abbey, he will inquire what the
building was used for; and if he be told it
is a place where people got up at midnight
to sing psalms, and scourged themselves in
the day,—he will ask how there came to be
such people, or why there are none now.
If he observe a dilapidated castle which
appears to have been battered by violence,
he will ask in what quarrel it suffered, and G1r 121
why they built formerly structures so different
from any we see now. If any part of
the inhabitants should speak a different language
from the rest, or have some singular
customs among them, he would suppose
they came originally from some remote part
of the country, and would inform himself, if
he could, of the cause of their peculiarities.

If he were of a curious temper, he would
not rest till he had informed himself whom
every estate in the parish belonged to,
what hands they had gone through; how
one man got this field by marrying an
heiress, and the other lost that meadow by
a ruinous lawsuit. As a man of spirit, he
would feel delighted on hearing the relation
of the opposition made by an honest
yeoman to an overbearing rich man on the
subject of an accustomed pathway or right
of common. If he should find the town
or village divided into parties, he would
take some pains to trace the original
cause of their dissension, and to find
out, if possible, who had the right on his G G1v 122
side. Circumstances would often occur to
excite his attention. If he saw a bridge, he
would ask when and by whom it was built.
If in digging in his garden he should find
utensils of a singular form and construction,
or a pot of money with a stamp and
legend quite different from the common
coin, he would be led to inquire when they
were in use, and to whom they had belonged.
His curiosity would extend itself
by degrees. If a brook ran through the
meadows, he would be pleased to trace it
till it swelled into a river, and the river
till it lost itself in the sea. He would be
asking whose seat he saw upon the edge of
a distant forest, and what sort of country
lay behind the range of hills that bounded
his utmost view. If any strangers came to
visit or reside in the place where he lived,
he would be questioning them about the
country they came from, their connexions
and alliances, and the remarkable transactions
that had taken place within their
memory or that of their parents. The G2r 123
answers to these questions would insensibly
grow up into History, which, as you
see, does not originate in abstruse speculation,
but grows naturally out of our situation
and relative connexions. It gratifies
a curiosity which all feel in some degree,
but which spreads and enlarges itself with
the cultivation of our powers, till at length
it embraces the whole globe which we inhabit.
To know is as natural to the mind
as to see is to the eye, and knowledge is
itself an ultimate end. But though this may
be esteemed an ultimate and sufficient end,
the study of history is important to various
purposes. Few pursuits tend more to
enlarge the mind. It gives us, and it only
can give us, an extended knowledge of human
nature;—not human nature as it exists
in one age or climate or particular spot of
earth, but human nature under all the
various circumstances by which it can be
affected. It shows us what is radical and
what is adventitious: it shows us that man
is still man in Turkey and in Lapland, as G2 G2v 124
a vassal in Russia or a member of a wandering
tribe in India, in ancient Athens or
modern Rome; yet that his character is
susceptible of violent changes, and becomes
moulded into infinite diversities by the influence
of government, climate, civilization,
wealth, and poverty. By showing us how
man has acted, it shows us to a certain degree
how he will ever act in given circumstances;
and general rules and maxims are
drawn from it for the service of the lawgiver
and the statesman.

Here I must observe however, with
regard to events, that a knowledge of history
does not seem to give us any great
advantage in foreseeing and preparing
for them. The deepest politician, with all
his knowledge of the revolutions of past
ages, could probably no more have predicted
the course and termination of the
late French revolution, than a common
man. The state of our own national debt
has baffled calculation, the course of ages
has presented nothing like it. Who could G3r 125
have pronounced that the struggle of the
Americans would be successful—that of
the Poles unsuccessful? Human characters
indeed act always alike: but events depend
upon circumstances as well as characters;
and circumstances are infinitely various
and changed by the slightest causes. A
battle won or lost may decide the fate of an
empire: but a battle may be won or lost
by a shower of snow being blown to the
east or the west; by a horse (the general’s)
losing his shoe; by a bullet or an arrow
taking a direction a tenth part of an inch
one way or the other.—The whole course
of the French affairs might have been
changed if the king had not stopped to
breakfast, or if the post-master of Varennes
had not happened to know him.
These are particulars which no man can
foresee; and therefore no man can with
precision foresee events.

The rising up of certain characters at
particular periods ranks among those unforeseen
circumstances that powerfully influence G3v 126
events. Often does a single man, as
Epaminondas, illustrate his country, and
leave a long track of light after him to future
ages. And who can tell how much even
America owed to the accident of being served
by such a man as Washington? There are
always many probable events. All that
history enables the politician to do, is to
predict that one or other of them will take
place. If so and so, it will be this; if so and
so, it will be that: but which, he cannot
tell. There are always combinations of
circumstances which have never met before
from the creation of the world, and which
mock all power of calculation. But let
the circumstances be known and the characters
upon the stage, and history will
tell him what to expect from them. It
will tell him with certainty, for instance,
that a treaty extorted by force from distress,
will be broken when opportunity
offers: that if the church and the monarch
are united they will oppress, if at
variance they will divide the people; that G4r 127
a powerful nation will make its advantage
of the divisions of a weaker which applies
for its assistance.

It is another advantage of history, that
it stores the mind with facts that apply to
most subjects which occur in conversation
among enlightened people. Whether morals,
commerce, languages, polite literature
be the object of discussion, it is history that
must supply her large storehouse of proofs
and illustrations. A man or a woman may
decline without blame many subjects of
literature, but to be ignorant of history is
not permitted to any of a cultivated mind.
It may be reckoned among its advantages,
that this study naturally increases the love
of every man to his country. We can only
love what we know; it is by becoming
acquainted with the long line of patriots,
heroes, and distinguished men, that we
learn to love the country which has produced

But I must conclude this letter, already
perhaps too long, though I have not got to G4v 128
the end of my subject: it will give me soon
another opportunity of subscribing myself

Your ever affectionate friend.

Letter II.

I left off, my dear Lydia, with mentioning,
among the advantages of an acquaintance
with history, that it fosters the sentiments
of patriotism.

What is a man’s country? To the unlettered
peasant who has never left his native
village, that village is his country, and consequently
all of it he can love. The man who
mixes in the world, and has a large acquaintance
with the characters existing along with
himself upon the stage of it, has a wider
range. His idea of a country extends to its
civil polity, its military triumphs, the eloquence
of its courts, and the splendour of its
capital. All the great and good characters
he is acquainted with swell his idea of its
importance, and endear to him the society G5r 129
of which he is a member. But how wonderfully
does this idea expand, and how
majestic a form does it put on, when History
conducts our retrospective view
through past ages! How much more has
the man to love, how much to interest him
in his country, in whom her image is identified
with the virtues of an Alfred, with
the exploits of the Henries and Edwards,
with the fame and fortunes of the Sidneys
and Hampdens, the Lockes and Miltons,
who have illustrated her annals! Like a
man of noble birth who walks up and
down in a long gallery of portraits, and is
able to say, “This my progenitor was admiral
in such a fight; that my great-uncle was
general in such an engagement; he on the
right hand held the seals in such a reign;
that lady in so singular a costume was a
celebrated beauty two hundred years ago;
this little man in the black cap and peaked
beard was one of the luminaries of his age,
and suffered for his religion;”
—he learns
to value himself upon his ancestry, and to G5 G5v 130
feel interested for the honour and prosperity
of the whole line of descendants.
Could a Swiss, think you, be so good a
patriot who had never heard of the name
of William Tell? or the Hollander, who
should be unacquainted with the glorious
struggles which freed his nation from the
tyranny of the Duke of Alva?

The Englishman conversant in history
has been long acquainted with his country.
He knew her in the infancy of her greatness;
has seen her, perhaps, in the wattled huts
and slender canoes in which Cæsar discovered
her: he has watched her rising fortunes,
has trembled at her dangers, rejoiced
at her deliverances, and shared with honest
pride triumphs that were celebrated ages
before he was born. He has traced her
gradual improvement through many a dark
and turbulent period, many a storm of civil
warfare, to the fair reign of her liberty and
law, to the fulness of her prosperity and the
amplitude of her fame.

Or should our patriot have his lot cast G6r 131
in some age and country which has declined
from this high station of pre-eminence;
should he observe the gathering
glooms of superstition and ignorance
ready to close again over the bright horizon;
should Liberty lie prostrate at the
feet of a despot, and the golden stream of
commerce, diverted into other channels,
leave nothing but beggary and wretchedness
around him;—even then, in these ebbing
fortunes of his country, History like a
faithful meter would tell him how high the
tide had once risen; he would not tread
unconsciously the ground where the Muses
and the Arts had once resided, like the
goat that stupidly browses upon the fane
of Minerva. Even the name of his country
will be dear and venerable to him. He
will muse over her fallen greatness, sit down
under the shade of her never-dying laurels,
build his little cottage amidst the ruins
of her towers and temples, and contemplate
with tenderness and respect the decaying
age of his once illustrious parent.

G6v 132

But if an acquaintance with history thus
increases a rational love of our country, it
also tends to check those low, illiberal, vulgar
prejudices which adhere to the uninformed
of every nation. Travelling will also
cure them: but to travel is not within the
power of every one. There is no use, but a
great deal of harm in fostering a contempt
for other nations; in an arrogant assumption
of superiority, and the clownish sneer
of ignorance at every thing in laws, government
or manners which is not fashioned
after our partial ideas and familiar usages.
A well-informed person will not be apt to
exclaim at every event out of the common
way, that nothing like it has ever happened
since the creation of the world, that such
atrocities are totally unheard-of in any age
or nation;—sentiments we have all of us so
often heard of late on the subject of the
French revolution: when in fact we can
scarcely open a page of their history without
being struck with similar and equal
enormities. Indeed party spirit is very G7r 133
much cooled and checked by an acquaintance
with the events of past times.

When we see the mixed and imperfect
virtue of the most distinguished characters;
the variety of motives, some pure
and some impure, which influence political
conduct; the partial success of the wisest
schemes, and the frequent failure of the fairest
hopes;—we shall find it more difficult
to choose a side, and to keep up an interest
towards it in our minds, than to restrain
our feelings and language within the bounds
of good sense and moderation. This, by
the way, makes it particularly proper that
ladies who interest themselves in the events
of public life should have their minds cultivated
by an acquaintance with history,
without which, they are apt to let the whole
warmth of their natures flow out, upon party
matters, in an ardour more honest than
wise, more zealous than candid.

With regard to the moral uses of history,
what has just been mentioned may
stand for one. It serves also by exercise G7v 134
to strengthen the moral feelings. The
traits of generosity, heroism, disinterestedness,
magnanimity, are scattered over it
like sparkling gems, and arrest the attention
of the most common reader. It is
wonderfully interesting to follow the revolutions
of a great state, particularly
when they lead to the successful termination
of some glorious contest. Is it true?—
a child asks, when you tell him a wonderful
story that strikes his imagination. The
writer of fiction has the unlimited command
of events and of characters; yet
that single circumstance of truth, that the
events related really came to pass, that
the heroes brought upon the stage really
existed,—counterbalances, with respect to
interest, all the privileges of the former,
and in a mind a little accustomed to exertion
will throw the advantage on the side
of the historian.

The more History approaches to Biography
the more interest it excites. Where
the materials are meagre and scanty, the G8r 135
antiquarian and the chronologer may
dwell upon the page; but it will seldom
excite the glow of admiration or draw
the delicious tear of sensibility. I must
acknowledge however, in order to be
candid, that the emotions excited by the
actions of our species are not always of so
pleasing or so edifying a nature. The
miseries and the vices of man form a
large part of the picture of human society:
the pure mind is disgusted by depravity,
the existence of which it could not have
imagined to itself; and the feeling heart is
cruelly lacerated by the sad repetition of
wrongs and oppression, chains and slaughter,
sack and massacre, which assail it in
every page:—till the mind has gained
some strength, so frightful a picture should
hardly be presented to it. Chosen periods
of history may be selected for youth, as the
society of chosen characters precedes in
well-regulated education a more indiscriminate
acquaintance with the world. In
favour of a more extended view, I can
only say that truth is truth,—man must be G8v 136
shown as the being he really is, or no real
knowledge is gained. If a young person
were to read only the Beauties of History,
or, according to Madame Genlis’s scheme,
stories and characters in which all that was
vicious should be left out, he might as well,
for any real acquaintance with life he
would gain, have been reading all the
while Sir Charles Grandison or the Princess
of Cleves

One consoling idea will present itself
with no small degree of probability on
comparing the annals of past and present
times,—that of a tendency to amelioration;
at least it is evidently found in those countries
with which we are most connected.
But the only balm that can be poured with
full effect into the feeling mind which
bleeds for the folly and wickedness of man,
is the belief that all events are directed
and controlled by supreme wisdom and
goodness. Without this persuasion, the
world becomes a desert, and its devastators
the wolves and tigers that prowl over it.

It is needless to insist on the uses of G9r 137
history to those whose situation in life
gives them room to expect that their
actions may one day become the objects
of it. Besides the immediate necessity to
them of the knowledge it supplies, it affords
the strongest motives for their conduct
of hope and fear. The solemn award,
the incorruptible tribunal and the severe
soul-searching inquisition of Posterity is
calculated to strike an awe into their souls.
They cannot take refuge in oblivion: it is
not permitted them to die:—they may be
the objects of gratitude or detestation as
long as the world stands. They may flatter
themselves that they have silenced the
voice of truth; they may forbid newspapers
and pamphlets and conversation;—an unseen
hand is all the while tracing out their
history, and often their minutest actions, in
indelible characters; and it will soon be held
up for the judgement of the world at large.

Lastly, this permanency of human characters
tends to cherish in the mind the
hope and belief of an existence after death. G9v 138
If we had no notices from the page of history
of those races of men that have lived
before us, they would seem to be completely
swept away; and we should no
more think of inquiring what human
beings filled our place upon the earth a
thousand harvests ago, than we should
think about the generations of cattle which
at that time grazed the marshes of the
Tiber, or the venerable ancestors of the
goats that are browsing upon Mount Hymettus;
—no vestige would remain of one
any more than of the other, and we might
more pardonably fall into the opinion that
they both had shared a similar fate. But
when we see illustrious characters continuing
to live on in the eye of posterity, their
memories still fresh, and their noble actions
shining with all the vivid colouring of truth
and reality, ages after the very dust of
their tombs is scattered, high conceptions
kindle within us; and feeling one immortality,
we are led to hope for another. We
find it hard to persuade ourselves that the G10r 139
man who, like Antoninus or Socrates, fills
the world with the sweet perfume of his
virtue, the martyr or the patriot to whom
posterity is doing the justice which was
denied him by his contemporaries, should
all the while himself be blotted out of
existence, that he should be benefiting
mankind and doing good so long after he
is capable of receiving any, that we should
be so well acquainted with him, and that
he should never know any thing of us.
That one who is an active agent in the
world, instructing, informing it, inspiring
friendship, making disciples, should be
nothing—this does not seem probable;
the records of time suggest to us eternity.


Letter III.

My Dear Lydia,

We have considered the uses of History;
I would now direct your attention to those G10v 140
collateral branches of science which are
necessary for the profitable understanding
of it. It is impossible to understand one
thing well without understanding to a
certain degree many other things; there is
a mutual dependence between all parts of
knowledge. This is the reason that a
child never fully comprehends what he is
taught: he receives an idea, but not the
full idea, perhaps not the principal of what
you want to teach him. But as his mind
opens, this idea enlarges and receives accessory
ideas, till slowly and by degrees he
is master of the whole. This is particularly
the case in History. You may recollect
probably that the mere adventure was all
you entered into, in those portions of it
which were presented to you at a very
early age. You could understand nothing
of the springs of action, nothing of the
connexion of events with the intrigues of
cabinets, with religion, with commerce; nothing
of the state of the world at different
periods of society and improvement: and G11r 141
as little could you grasp the measured
distances of time and space which are set
between them. This you could not do, not
because the history was not related with
clearness, but because you were destitute
of other knowledge.

The first studies which present themselves
as accessories in this light are Geography
and Chronology, which have been
called the two eyes of History. When was
it done? Where was it done? are the two
first questions you would ask concerning
any fact that was related to you. Without
these two particulars there can be no precision
or clearness.

Geography is best learned along with
history; for if the first explains history, the
latter gives interest to geography, which
without it is but a dry list of names. For
this reason if a young person begin with
ancient history, I should think it adviseable,
after a slight general acquaintance with
the globe, to confine his geography to the
period and country of which he is reading;
and it would be a desirable thing to G11v 142
have maps adapted to each remarkable
period in the great empires of the world.
These should not contain any towns or be
divided into any provinces which were
not known at that period. A map of Egypt
for instance, calculated for its ancient monarchy,
should have Memphis marked in
it, but not Alexandria, because the two
capitals did not exist together. A map
of Judea for the time of Solomon, or any
period of its monarchy, should not exhibit
the name of Samaria, nor the villages of
Bethany and Nazareth: but each country
should have the towns and divisions, as
far as they are known, calculated for
the period the map was meant to illustrate.
Thus geography, civil geography,
would be seen to grow out of history;
and the mere view of the map would suggest
the political state of the world at any

It would be a pleasing speculation to see
how the arbitrary divisions of kingdoms
and provinces vary and become obsolete, and
large towns flourish and fall again into ruins; G12r 143
while the great natural features, the mountains,
rivers, and seas remain unchanged,
by whatever names we please to call them,
whatever empire incloses them within its
temporary boundaries. We have, it is
true, ancient and modern maps; but the
one set includes every period from the
Flood to the provinciating the Roman empire
under Trajan, and the other takes in
all the rest. About half a dozen sets for
the ancient states and empires, and as
many for the modern, would be sufficient
to exhibit the most important changes, and
would be as many as we should be able
to give with any clearness. The young
student should make it an invariable rule
never to read history without a map
before him; to which should be added
plans of towns, harbours, &c. These
should be conveniently placed under the
eye, separate if possible from the book he
is reading, that by frequent glancing upon
them the image of the country may be
indelibly impressed on his imagination.

G12v 144

Besides the necessity of maps for understanding
history, the memory is wonderfully
assisted by the local association
which they supply. The battles of Issus
and the Granicus will not be confounded
by those who have taken the pains to
trace the rivers on whose banks they
were fought: the exploits of Hannibal are
connected with a view of the Alps, and
the idea of Leonidas is inseparable from
the straits of Thermopylæ. The greater
accuracy of maps, and still more the facility,
from the arts of printing and engraving,
of procuring them, is an advantage
the moderns have over the ancients. They
have been perfected by slow degrees. The
Egyptians and Chaldeans studied the science
of mensuration; and the first map—rude
enough no doubt—is said to have been made
by order of Sesostris when he became master
of Egypt. Commerce and war have been
the two parents of this science. Pharaoh
ordered the Phœnicians whom he
sent round Africa, to make a survey of the H1r 145
coast. This they finished in three years.
Darius caused the Ethiopic Sea and the
mouth of the Indus to be surveyed. That
maps were known in Greece you no doubt
recollect from the pretty story of Socrates
and Alcibiades. Anaximander, a disciple
of Thales, is said to have made the first
sphere, and first delineated what was then
known of the countries of the earth. He
flourished 547 years before Christ. Herodotus
mentions a map of brass or copper
which was presented by Aristagoras tyrant
of Miletus to Cleomenes king of Sparta,
in which he had described the known
world with its seas and rivers. Alexander
the Great
in his expedition into Asia took
two geographers with him; and from their
itineraries many things have been copied
by succeeding writers.

From Greece the science of geography
passed to Rome. The enlightened policy of
the Romans cultivated it as a powerful means
of extending and securing their dominion.
One of the first things they did was to make H H1v 146
roads, for which it was necessary to have
the country measured. They had a custom
when they had conquered a country
to have a painted map of it always carried
aloft in their triumphs. The great historian
Polybius reconnoitred under a commission
from Scipio Emilianus the coasts of
Africa, Spain, and France, and measured
the distances of Hannibal’s march over the
Alps and Pyrenees. Julius Cæsar employed
men of science to survey and measure
the globe; and his own Commentaries show
his attention to this part of knowledge.
Strabo, a great geographer whose works
are extant, flourished under Augustus;
Pomponius Mela in the first century.

Many of the Roman itineraries which are
still extant, show the systematic care which
they bestowed on a science so necessary
for the orderly distribution and government
of their large dominions. But still it was
late before Geography was settled upon
its true basis,—astronomical observations.
The greater part of the early maps were H2r 147
laid down in a very loose inaccurate manner;
and where particular parts were done
with the greatest care, yet if the longitude
and latitude were wanting, their relative
situation to the rest of the earth could not
be known. Some attempts had indeed been
made by Hipparchus and Possidonius,
Greek philosophers, to settle the parallels
of latitude by the length of the days; but
the foundation they had laid was neglected
till the time of Ptolemy, who flourished at
Alexandria about 150 years after Christ,
under Adrian and Antoninus Pius. This is
he from whom the Ptolemaic system took
its name. He diligently compared and
revised the ancient maps and charts, correcting
their errors and supplying their
defects by the reports of travellers and
navigators, the measured or reputed distances
of maps and itineraries, and astronomical
calculations, all digested together;
he reduced geography to a regular system,
and laid down the situation of places
according to minutes and degrees of longitudeH2 H2v 148
and latitude as we now have them. His
maps were in general use till the last three
or four centuries, in which time the progress
of the moderns in the knowledge of
the globe we inhabit has thrown at a great
distance all the ancient geographers.

We are now, some few breaks and
chasms excepted, pretty well acquainted
with the outline of the globe, and with those
parts of it with which we are connected by
our commercial or political relations; but
we are still profoundly ignorant of the interior
of Africa, and imperfectly acquainted
with that of South America, and the western
part of North America. We know
little of Thibet and the central parts of
Asia, and have as yet only touched upon
the great continent of New Holland.

The best ancient maps are those of
D’Anville. It has required great learning
and proportionate skill to bring together the
scattered notices which are found in various
authors, and to fix the position of places
which have been long ago destroyed; very H3r 149
often the geographer has no other guide
than the relation of the historian that such
a place is within six or eight days journey
from another place. In some instances
the maps of Ptolemy are lately come into
repute again,—as in his delineation of the
course of the Niger, which is thought to be
favoured by modern discoveries. Major
has done much to improve the
geography of India.

There are many valuable maps scattered
in voyages and travels, and many of the
atlases contain a collection sufficient for all
common purposes; but a complete collection
of the best maps and charts, with
plans of harbours, towns, &c., becomes an
object of even princely expense. The
French took the lead in this, as in some
other branches of science. The late empress
of Russia caused a geographical survey
to be taken of her dominions, which
has much improved our knowledge of the
north-eastern regions of Europe and Asia. H3v 150
We have now, however, both single maps
and atlases which yield to none in accuracy
or elegance.

Yours affectionately.

Letter IV.

Dear Lydia,

Geography addresses itself to the eye,
and is easily comprehended: to give a clear
idea of Chronology is somewhat more difficult.
It is easy to define it by saying it
gives an answer to the question, when was
it done? but the meaning of the when
is not quite so obvious. A date is a very
artificial thing, and the world had existed
for a long course of centuries before men
were aware of its use and necessity. When
is a relative term; the most natural application
of it is, how long ago, reckoning
backwards from the present moment? Thus
if you were to ask an Indian when such an H4r 151
event happened, he would probably say—
So many harvests ago, when I could but
just reach the boughs of yonder tree;—in
the time of my father, grandfather, greatgrandfather;
still making the time then
present to him the date from which he sets
out. Even where a different method is
well understood, we use in more familiar
life this natural kind of chronology—The
year before I was married,—when Henry,
who is now five years old, was born,—the
winter of the hard frost. These are the
epochs which mark the annals of domestic
life more readily and with greater clearness,
so far as the real idea of time is concerned,
than the year of our Lord, as long
as these are all within the circle of our personal
recollection. But when events are
recorded, the relator may be forgotten, and
the when again occurs: “When did the historian
live? I understand the relative
chronology of his narration; I know how
the events of it follow one another; but
what is their relation to general chronology, H4v 152
to time as it relates to me and to
other events?”

To know the transactions of a particular
reign, that of Cyrus for instance, in
the regular order in which they happened
in that reign, but not to know where to
place them with respect to the history of
other times and nations, is as if we had
a very accurate map of a small island
existing somewhere in the boundless ocean,
and could lay down all the bearings
and distances of its several towns and villages,
but for want of its longitude and latitude
were ignorant of the relative position
of the island itself. Chronology supplies
this longitude and latitude, and fixes every
event to its precise point in the chart of
universal time. It supplies a common
measure by which I may compare the relator
of an event with myself, and his now
or ten years ago with the present now or ten years, reckoning from the time in which
I live.

In order to find such a common measure, H5r 153
men have been led by degrees to fix
upon some one known event, and to make
that the center from which, by regular distances,
the different periods of time are
reckoned, instead of making the present
time, which is always varying, and every
man’s own existence, the center.

The first approach to such a mode of
computing time is to date by the reigns of
kings; which, being public objects of great
notoriety, seem to offer themselves with
great advantage for such a purpose. The
scripture history, which is the earliest of
histories, has no other than this kind of
successive dates: “Now it came to pass in
the fifth year of the king Hezekiah.”
the time that Solomon reigned in Jerusalem
over all Israel was forty years: and
Solomon slept with his fathers; and Rehoboam
his son reigned in his stead.”
this method a regular chronology might
certainly be deduced, if we had the whole
unbroken series; but unfortunately there
are many gaps and chasms in history; and H5 G5v 154
you easily see that if any links of the chain
are wanting, the whole computation is
rendered imperfect. Besides, it requires a
tedious calculation to bring it into comparison
with other histories and events. To
say that an event happened in the tenth
year of the reign of king Solomon, gives
you only an idea of the time relative to the
histories of that king, but leaves you quite
in the dark as to its relation with the time
you live in, or with the events of the Roman

We want therefore an universal date,
like a lofty obelisk seen by all the country
round, from and to which every distance
should be measured. The most obvious
that offers itself for this purpose is the
creation of the world, an event equally interesting
to all; to us the beginning of time,
and from which therefore time would flow
regularly down in an unbroken stream
from the earliest to the latest generations
of the human race. This would probably
therefore have been made use of, if the H6r 155
date of the creation itself could be ascertained
with any exactness; but as chronologers
differ by more than a thousand years
as to the time of that event, it is necessary
previously to mention what system is made
use of; which renders this æra obscure and
inconvenient. It has therefore been found
more convenient, in fact, to take some
known event within the limit of well-authenticated
history, and to reckon from
that fixed point backwards and forwards.
As we cannot find the head of the river,
and know not its termination, we must
raise a pillar upon its banks, and measure
our distances from that, both up and down
the stream. This event ought to be important,
conspicuous, and as interesting as
possible, that it may be generally received;
for it would spare a great deal of trouble
in computation if all the world would
make use of the same date. This however
has never been the case, chance and national
vanity having had their full share in
settling them.

H6v 156

The Greeks reckoned by olympiads,
but not till more than sixty years after the
death of Alexander the Great. The Olympic
games were the most brilliant assembly
in Greece, the Greeks were very fond of
them, they began 776 years before Christ,
and each olympiad includes four years.
Some of the earlier Greek historians digested
their histories by ages, or by the succession
of the priestesses of Juno at Argos;
others by the archons of Athens or the
kings of Lacedæmon. Thucydides uses
simply the beginning of the Peloponnesian
war, the subject of his history; for, writing
to his contemporaries, it seems not to have
occurred to him that another date would
ever be necessary. The Arundelian marbles,
composed sixty years after the death
of Alexander the Great, reckon backwards
from the then present time.

The Roman æra was the building of
their city, the eternal city as they loved to
call it.

The Mahometans date from the Hegira, H7r 157
or flight of Mahomet from Mecca
his birth-place, to Medina, A.D. 0622622;
and they have this advantage, that they
began almost immediately to use it.

The æra used all over the Christian world
is the birth of Christ. This was adopted
as a date about A.D. 0360360; and though
there is an uncertainty of a few years,
which are in dispute, the accuracy is sufficient
for any present purpose.

The reign of Nabonassar the first king
of Babylon, of Yesdigerd the last king of
Persia,—who was conquered by the Saracens,
—and of the Seleucidæ of Syria, have
likewise furnished æras.

Julius Scaliger formed an æra which
he called the Julian period, being a
cycle of 7980 years, produced by multiplying
several cycles into one another,
so as to carry us back to a period 764
years before the creation of the world.
This æra, standing out of all history, like
the fulcrum which Archimedes wished for,
and independent of variation or possibility H7v 158
of mistake, was a very grand idea; and in
measuring every thing by itself, measured
it by the eternal truth of the laws of the
heavenly bodies. But it is not greatly employed,
the common æra serving all ordinary
purposes. In modern histories the
olympiads, Roman æras, and others, are
reduced, in the margin, to the year of our
Lord, or of the creation.

Such is the nature of æras, now in such
common use that we can with difficulty
conceive the confusion in which, for the
want of them, all the early part of history
is involved, and the strenuous labours of
the most learned men which have been
employed in arranging them and reducing
history to the order in which we now have

The earliest history which we possess,
as we have before observed, is that of the
Jewish scriptures; these carry us from the
creation to about the time of Herodotus:
having no date, we are obliged to compute
from generations, and to take the reigns H8r 159
of kings where they are given. But a
great schism occurs at the very outset.
The Septuagint translation of the Mosaic
history into Greek, which was made by
order of Ptolemy Philadelphus, differs
from the Hebrew text by 1400 years from
the creation to the birth of Abraham.

The chronology of the Assyrian and
Babylonish monarchies is involved in inextricable
difficulties; nor are we successful
in harmonizing the Greek with the
oriental writers of history. The Persian
historians make no mention of the defeat
of Xerxes by the Greeks, or that of Darius
by Alexander. All nations have had the
vanity to make their origin mount as high
as possible; and they have often invented
series of kings, or have reckoned the contemporary
individuals of different dynasties
as following each other in regular succession,
as if one should take the kings of
the Heptarchy singly instead of together.

You will perhaps ask, if we have no æras,
what have we to reckon by? We have H8v 160
generations and successions of kings. Sir
Isaac Newton
, who joined wonderful sagacity
to profound learning and astronomical
skill, made very great reforms in the ancient
chronology. He pointed out the difference
between generations and successions
of kings. A generation is not the
life of man; it is the time that elapses before
a man sees his successor; and this,
reckoning to the birth of the eldest son, is
estimated at about thirty years. The succession
of kings would seem at first sight to
be the same, and so it had been reckoned;
but Newton corrected it, on the principle
that kings are often cut off prematurely
in turbulent times, or are succeeded either
by their brothers, or by their uncles, or
others older than themselves. The lines
of kings of France, England, and other
countries within the range of exact chronology,
confirmed this principle. He therefore
rectified all the ancient chronology
according to it; and with the assistance of
astronomical observations he found reason H9r 161
to allow, as the average length of a reign,
about eighteen or twenty years.

But after all, great part of the chronology
of ancient history is founded upon
conjecture and clouded with uncertainty.

Although I recommend to you a constant
attention to chronology, I do not think
it desirable to load your memory with a
great number of specific dates, both because
it would be too great a burthen on
the retentive powers, and because it is,
after all, not the best way of attaining clear
ideas on the subjects of history. In order
to do this, it is necessary to have in your
mind the relative situation of other countries
at the time of any event recorded in
one of them. For instance, if you have
got by heart the dates of the accession of
the kings of Europe, and want to know
whether John lived at the time of the crusades,
and in what state the Greek empire
was, you cannot tell without an arithmetical
process, which perhaps you may not be
quick enough to make. You cannot tell H9v 162
whether Constantinople had been taken by
the Turks when the Sicilian Vespers happened;
for each fact is insulated in your
mind; and indeed your dates give you
only the dry catalogue of accessions. Nay,
you may read separate histories, and yet
not bring them together if the countries
be remote. Each exists in your mind separately,
and you have at no time the state
of the world. But you ought to have an
idea at once of the whole world, as far as
history will give it. You do not see truly
what the Greeks were, except you know
that the British Isles were then barbarous.

A few dates therefore, perfectly learned,
may suffice, and will serve as landmarks
to prevent your going far astray in the
rest: but it will be highly useful to connect
the histories you read in such a manner
in your own mind, that you may be able
to refer from one to the other, and to form
them all into a whole. For this purpose,
it is very desirable to observe and retain
in your memory certain coincidences, H10r 163
which may link, as it were, two nations
together. Thus you may remember that
Haroun al Raschid sent to Charlemagne
the first clock that was seen in Europe. If
you are reading the history of Greece when
it flourished most, and want to know what
the Romans were doing at the same time,
you may recollect that they sent to Greece
for instruction when they wanted to draw
up the laws of the Twelve Tables. Solon
and Crœsus connect the history of Lesser
with that of Greece. Egbert was
brought up in the court of Charlemagne;
Philip Augustus of France and Richard I.
of England fought in the same crusade
against Saladin. Queen Elizabeth received
the French ambassador in deep mourning
after the massacre of St. Bartholomew.

It may be desirable to keep one kingdom
as a meter for the rest. Take for this purpose
first the Jews, then the Greeks, the
Romans, and, because it is so, our own
country: then harmonize and connect all
the other dates with these.

H10v 164

That the literary history of a nation may
be connected with the political, study also
biography, and endeavour to link men of
science and literature and artists with political
characters. Thus Hippocrates was
sent for to the plague of Athens; Leonardo
da Vinci
died in the arms of Francis I.
Often an anecdote, a smart saying, will indissolubly
fix a date.

Sometimes you may take a long reign,
as that of Elizabeth or Louis XIV., and
making that the center, mark all the contemporary
sovereigns, and also the men of
letters. Another way is, to make a line of
life, composed of distinguished characters
who touch each other. It will be of great
service to you in this view to study Dr.
biographical chart; and of still
greater, to make one for yourself, and fill
it by degrees as your acquaintance with history
extends. Marriages connect the history
of different kingdoms; as those of
Mary queen of Scots and Francis II.,
Philip II. and Mary of England.

H11r 165

These are the kind of dates which make
every thing lie in the mind in its proper
order; they also take fast hold of it. If
you forget the exact date by years, you
have nothing left; but of circumstances you
never lose all idea. As we come nearer to
our own times, dates must be more exact:
a few years more or less signify little in the
destruction of Troy, if we knew it exactly;
but the conclusion of the American war
should be accurately known, or it will
throw other events near it into confusion.

In so extensive a study no auxiliary is
to be neglected: Poetry impresses both
geography and history in a most agreeable
manner upon those who are fond of it.
Thus, “……fair Austria spreads her mournfull charms,The queen, the beauty, sets the world in arms.”
A short, lively character in verse is never
forgotten: “From Macedonia’s madman to the Swede.”
Historic plays deeply impress, but should H11v 166
be read with caution. We take our ideas
from Shakespeare more than history: he,
indeed, copied pretty exactly from the
chroniclers, but other dramatic writers
have taken great liberties both with characters
and events.

Painting is a good auxiliary; and though
in this country history is generally read
before we see pictures, they mutually illustrate
one another: painting also shows
the costume. In France, where pictures
are more accessible, there is more knowledge
generally diffused of common history.
Many have learned scripture history from
the rude figures on Dutch tiles.

I will conclude with the remark, that
though the beginner in history may and
ought to study dates and epochas for his
guidance, chronology can never be fully
possessed till after history has been long
studied and carefully digested.

Farewell; and believe me
Yours affectionately.


A Vision.

Young as you are, my dear Flora, you
cannot but have noticed the eagerness with
which questions, relative to civil liberty,
have been discussed in every society. To
break the shackles of oppression, and assert
the native rights of man, is esteemed
by many among the noblest efforts of heroic
virtue; but vain is the possession of
political liberty if there exists a tyrant of
our own creation, who, without law or
reason, or even external force, exercises
over us the most despotic authority; whose
jurisdiction is extended over every part of
private and domestic life; controls our
pleasures, fashions our garb, cramps our
motions, fills our lives with vain cares and
restless anxiety. The worst slavery is that
which we voluntarily impose upon ourselves; H12v 168
and no chains are so cumbrous and
galling as those which we are pleased to
wear by way of grace and ornament.—
Musing upon this idea, gave rise to the
following dream or vision:

Methought I was in a country of the
strangest and most singular appearance I
had ever beheld: the rivers were forced
into jet d’eaus, and wasted in artificial
water-works; the lakes were fashioned by
the hand of art; the roads were sanded
with spar and gold-dust; the trees all bore
the marks of the shears, they were bent
and twisted into the most whimsical forms,
and connected together by festoons of ribon
and silk fringe: the wild flowers were
transplanted into vases of fine china, and
painted with artificial white and red.

The disposition of the ground was full of
fancy, but grotesque and unnatural in the
highest degree; it was all highly cultivated,
and bore the marks of wonderful industry;
but among its various productions I could
hardly discern one that was of any use.

I1r 169

My attention, however, was soon called
off from the scenes of inanimate life, by
the view of the inhabitants, whose form
and appearance were so very preposterous,
and, indeed, so unlike any thing human,
that I fancied myself transported to the
country of “The Anthropophagi, and men whose heads
Do grow beneath their shoulders:”

for the heads of many of these people were
swelled to an astonishing size, and seemed
to be placed in the middle of their bodies.
Of some, the ears were distended till they
hung upon the shoulders; and of others,
the shoulders were raised till they met the
ears: there was not one free from some deformity,
or monstrous swelling, in one part
or other; either it was before, or behind,
or about the hips, or the arms were puffed
up to an unusual thickness, or the throat
was increased to the same size with the
poor objects once exhibited under the
name of the monstrous Craws: some had
no necks; others had necks that reached I I1v 170
almost to their waists; the bodies of some
were bloated up to such a size, that they
could scarcely enter a pair of folding doors;
and others had suddenly sprouted up to
such a disproportionate height, that they
could not sit upright in their loftiest carriages.

Many shocked me with the appearance
of being nearly cut in two, like a wasp;
and I was alarmed at the sight of a few,
in whose faces, otherwise very fair and
healthy, I discovered an eruption of black
spots, which I feared was the fatal sign of
some pestilential disorder.

The sight of these various and uncouth
deformities inspired me with much pity;
which however was soon changed into disgust,
when I perceived, with great surprise,
that every one of these unfortunate men
and women was exceeding proud of his
own peculiar deformity, and endeavoured
to attract my notice to it as much as possible.
A lady, in particular, who had a
swelling under her throat, larger than any I2r 171
goitre in the Valais, and which, I am sure,
by its enormous projection, prevented her
from seeing the path she walked in, brushed
by me with an air of the greatest self-
complacency, and asked me if she was
not a charming creature?

But by this time I found myself surrounded
by an immense crowd, who were
all pressing along in one direction; and I
perceived that I was drawn along with
them by an irresistible impulse, which
grew stronger every moment. I asked
whither we were hurrying with such eager
steps? and was told that we were going
to the court of Queen Fashion, the great
Diana whom all the world worshippeth.
I would have retired, but felt myself impelled
to go on, though without being sensible
of any outward force.

When I came to the royal presence, I
was astonished at the magnificence I saw
around me. The queen was sitting on a
throne, elegantly fashioned in the form of
a shell, and inlaid with gems and mother- I2 I2v 172
of-pearl. It was supported by a cameleon,
formed of a single emerald. She was
dressed in a light robe of changeable silk,
which fluttered about her in a profusion of
fantastic folds, that imitated the form of
clouds, and like them were continually
changing their appearance. In one hand
she held a rouge-box, and in the other
one of those optical glasses which distort
figures in length or in breadth according
to the position in which they are held. At
the foot of the throne was displayed a profusion
of the richest productions of every
quarter of the globe, tributes from land
and sea, from every animal and plant;
perfumes, sparkling stones, drops of pearl,
chains of gold, webs of the finest linen;
wreaths of flowers, the produce of art,
which vied with the most delicate productions
of nature; forests of feathers waving
their brilliant colours in the air and canopying
the throne; glossy silks, net-work
of lace, silvery ermine, soft folds of vegetable
wool, rustling paper, and shining spangles; I3r 173
—the whole intermixed with pendants
and streamers of the gayest tinctured

All these together made so brilliant an
appearance that my eyes were at first dazzled,
and it was some time before I recovered
myself enough to observe the ceremonial
of the court. Near the throne, and
its chief supports, stood the queen’s two
prime ministers, Caprice on one side, and
Vanity on the other. Two officers seemed
chiefly busy among the attendants. One
of them was a man with a pair of shears
in his hand and a goose by his side,—a
mysterious emblem, of which I could not
fathom the meaning: he sat cross-legged,
like the great lama of the Tartars. He
was busily employed in cutting out coats
and garments; not, however, like Dorcas,
for the poor—nor, indeed, did they seem
intended for any mortal whatever, so ill
were they adapted to the shape of the human
body. Some of the garments were extravagantly
large, others as preposterously I3v 174
small: of others, it was difficult to guess to
what part of the person they were meant
to be applied. Here were coverings, which
did not cover; ornaments, which disfigured;
and defences against the weather,
more slight and delicate than what they
were meant to defend; but all were eagerly
caught up, without distinction, by the
crowd of votaries who were waiting to
receive them.

The other officer was dressed in a white
succinct linen garment, like a priest of the
lower order. He moved in a cloud of incense
more highly scented than the breezes
of Arabia; he carried a tuft of the whitest
down of the swan in one hand, and in the
other a small iron instrument, heated red-
hot, which he brandished in the air. It
was with infinite concern I beheld the
Graces bound at the foot of the throne,
and obliged to officiate, as handmaids, under
the direction of these two officers.

I now began to inquire by what laws
this queen governed her subjects, but soon I4r 175
found her administration was that of the
most arbitrary tyrant ever known. Her
laws are exactly the reverse of those of the
Medes and Persians; for they are changed
every day, and every hour: and what
makes the matter still more perplexing,
they are in no written code, nor even made
public by proclamation: they are only promulgated
by whispers, an obscure sign,
or turn of the eye, which those only who
have the happiness to stand near the queen
can catch with any degree of precision: yet
the smallest transgression of the laws is
severely punished; not indeed by fines or
imprisonment, but by a sort of interdict
similar to that which in superstitious
times was laid by the Pope on disobedient
princes, and which operated in such a
manner that no one would eat, drink, or
associate with the forlorn culprit, and he
was almost deprived of the use of fire and

This difficulty of discovering the will of
the goddess occasioned so much crowding I4v 176
to be near the throne, such jostling and
elbowing of one another, that I was glad to
retire and observe what I could among the
scattered crowd: and the first thing I took
noticed of was various instruments of torture
which every where met my eyes.
Torture has, in most other governments
of Europe, been abolished by the mild
spirit of the times; but it reigns here in
full force and terror. I saw officers of
this cruel court employed in boring holes
with red-hot wires, in the ears, nose, and
various parts of the body, and then distending
them with the weight of metal chains,
or stones, cut into a variety of shapes:
some had invented a contrivance for cramping
the feet in such a manner that many
are lamed by it for their whole lives.
Others I saw, slender and delicate in their
form and naturally nimble as the young
antelope, who were obliged to carry constantly
about with them a cumbrous unwieldy
machine, of a pyramidal form, several
ells in circumference.

I5r 177

But the most uncommon and one of the
worst instruments of torture, was a small
machine armed with fish-bone and ribs
of steel, wide at top but extremely small
at bottom. In this detestable invention
the queen orders the bodies of her female
subjects to be inclosed: it is then, by means
of silk cords, till the unhappy victim can scarcely
breathe; and they have found the exact
point that can be borne without fainting,
which, however, not unfrequently happens.
The flesh is often excoriated, and the very
ribs bent, by this cruel process. Yet what
astonished me more than all the rest,
these sufferings are borne with a degree of
fortitude, which in a better cause, would
immortalize a hero or canonize a saint.
The Spartan who suffered the fox to eat
into his vitals, did not bear pain with greater
resolution: and as the Spartan mothers
brought their children to be scourged at
the altar of Diana, so do the mothers I5 I5v 178
here bring their children,—and chiefly
those whose tender sex one would suppose
excused them from such exertions,—and
early inure them to this cruel discipline.
But neither Spartan, nor Dervise, nor
Bonze, nor Carthusian monk, ever exercised
more unrelenting severities over their
bodies, than these young zealots: indeed
the first lesson they are taught, is a surrender
of their own inclinations and an
implicit obedience to the commands of the

But they have, besides a more solemn
kind of dedication, something similar to
the rite of confirmation. When a young
woman approaches the marriageable age,
she is led to the altar: her hair, which
before fell loosely about her shoulders, is
tied up in a tress, sweet oils drawn from
roses and spices are poured upon it; she
is involved in a cloud of scented dust, and
invested with ornaments under which she
can scarcely move. After this solemn ceremony, I6r 179
which is generally concluded by a
dance round the altar, the damsel is obliged
to a still stricter conformity than before to
the laws and customs of the court, and
any deviation from them is severely punished.

The courtiers of Alexander, it is said,
flattered him by carrying their heads on
one side, because he had the misfortune to
have a wry neck; but all adulation is poor,
compared to what is practised in this
court. Sometimes the queen will lisp and
stammer,—and then none of her attendants
can speak plain; sometimes she chooses
to totter as she walks,—and then they are
seized with sudden lameness: according
as she appears half undressed, or veiled
from head to foot, her subjects become a
procession of nuns, or a troop of Bacchanalian
nymphs. I could not help observing,
however, that those who stood at the
greatest distance from the throne were
the most extravagant in their imitation.

I6v 180

I was by this time thoroughly disgusted
with the character of a sovereign at once
so light and so cruel, so fickle and so
arbitrary, when one who stood next me
bade me attend to still greater contradictions
in her character, and such as might
serve to soften the indignation I had conceived.
He took me to the back of the
throne, and made me take notice of a
number of industrious poor, to whom the
queen was secretly distributing bread. I
saw the Genius of Commerce doing her homage,
and discovered the British cross
woven into the insignia of her dignity.

While I was musing on these things,
a murmur arose among the crowd, and I
was told that a young votary was approaching.
I turned my head, and saw a light
figure, the folds of whose garment showed
the elegant turn of the limbs they covered,
tripping along with the step of a nymph.
I soon knew it to be yourself:—I saw you
led up to the altar,—I saw your beautiful I7r 181
hair tied in artificial tresses, and its bright
gloss stained with coloured dust,—I even
fancied I beheld produced the dreadful
instruments of torture;—my emotions increased:
—I cried out, “O spare her!
spare my Flora!”
with so much vehemence
that I awaked.


To Miss D****.

May never less of Mirth than now

Sit on thy smooth unclouded brow!

May never Care those furrows trace

Which might her softer lines efface!

His richest robe may Hymen wear,

His brightest torch and gayest air!

And O! where’er he builds thy bower,

May joy attend the chosen hour!

May Mirth and Youth and Pleasure meet

To scatter roses at thy feet!

Like this, may every opening year

With some new blessing fraught appear;

With sprightly hopes and wishes glow,

And promise much, and more bestow!—

But what shall we forsaken do,

When Mirth and Pleasure fly with you?


On the Birth
a Friend’s Eldest Son.

“Incipe, parve puer, risu cognoscere matrem.”

Welcome little helpless stranger;

Welcome to the light of day;

Smile upon thy happy mother,

Smile, and chase her pains away.

Lift thine eyes and look around thee;

Various Nature courts thy sight,

Spreads for thee her flowery carpet;

Earth was made for thy delight.

Welcome to a mother’s bosom;

Welcome to a father’s arms;

Heir to all thy father’s virtues,

Heir to all thy mother’s charms.

Joy thou bring’st, but mix’d with trouble,

Anxious joys and tender fears,

Pleasing hopes, and mingled sorrows,

Smiles of transport, dash’d with tears.

I8v 184

Who can say what lies before thee,

Calm or tempest, peace or strife;

With what turns of various fortune

Fate shall mark thy checquer’d life.

Who can tell what eager passions

In this little heart shall beat,

When amibition, love, or glory,

Shall invade this peaceful seat.

Who can tell how wide the branches

Of this tender plant may spread,

While beneath its ample shadow

Swains may rest, and flocks be fed.

Angels guard thee, lovely blossom,

And avert each hovering ill!

Crown thy parents’ largest wishes,

And their fondest hopes fulfill.


Epitaph on a Goldfinch.

Here lieth,

aged three moons and four days,

the body of Richard Acanthis,

a young creature

of unblemished life and character.

He was taken in his callow infancy,

from under the wing

of a tender parent,

by the rough and pitiless hands

of a two-legged animal

without feathers.

Though born with the most aspiring dispositions,

and unbounded love of freedom,

he was closely confined in a grated prison,

and scarcely permitted to view those fields,

to the possession of which

he had a natural and undoubted


Deeply sensible of this infringement

of his native and inalienable rights,

he was often heard to petition for redress;

not with rude and violent clamours,

I9v 186


in the most plaintive notes

of melodious sorrow.

At length,

wearied with fruitless efforts to escape,

his indignant spirit

burst the prison which his body could not,

and left behind

a lifeless heap of beauteous feathers.


if suffering innocence can hope for retribution,

deny not to the gentle shade

of this unfortunate captive

the natural though uncertain hope

of animating some happier form,

or trying his new-fledged pinions

in some humble Elysium;

beyond the reach of Man,

the tyrant

of this lower universe.


Two Sisters.

Dear Cousin,

Our conversation last night upon beauties,
put me in mind of two charming sisters,
with whom I think you must be acquainted
as well as I, though they were not in your
list of belles. Their charms are very different
however; the youngest is generally
thought the handsomest, and yet other
beauties shine more in her company than
in her sister’s; whether it be that her gay
looks diffuse a lustre on all around, while
her sister’s beauty has an air of majesty
which strikes with awe, or that the younger
sets every one she is with in the fairest
light, and discovers perfections which were
before concealed, whilst the elder seems I10v 188
only solicitous to set off her own person
and throw a shade upon every one else:
yet, what you will think strange, it is she
who is generally preferred for a confidant;
for her sister, with all her amiable qualities,
cannot keep a secret.

O! what an eye the younger has, as if
she could look a person through; yet
modest is her countenance, even and
composed her pace, and she treads so
softly—“Smooth sliding without step,” as
Milton says. She seldom meets you without
blushing,—her sister cannot blush,—
she dresses very gaily, sometimes in clouded
silks, which indeed she first brought
into fashion, but blue is her most becoming
colour, and she generally appears
in it. Now and then, she wears a very rich
scarf, or sash, braided with all manner of

The elder, like the Spanish ladies, dresses
in black in order to set off her jewels, of
which she has a greater quantity than Lady
――, and, if I might judge, much finer. I11r 189
I cannot pretend to give you a catalogue
of them; they are of all sizes, and set in all
figures: her enemies say she does well
to adorn her dusky brow with brilliants,
and that without them, she would be but
little taken notice of; but certain it is,
she has inspired more serious and enthusiastic
passions than her sister, whose admirers
are often fops more in love with
themselves than with her. A learned
clergyman some time ago fell deeply in
love with her, and wrote a fine copy of
verses on her; and what was worst, her
sister could not go into company without
hearing them.

One thing they quite agree in,—not to
go out of their way or alter their pace for
any body. Once or twice indeed I have
heard that the younger……, but it was a
great while ago, and she was not so old
then, and so was more complaisant. She
is generally waked with a fine concert of
music, the other prefers a good solo....

But see, the younger beauty looks pale I11v 190
and sick,—she faints,—she is certainly
dying,—a slight blush still upon her cheek,
—it fades, fast, fast.—She is gone, yet a
sweet smile overspreads her countenance.
Will she revive? Shall I ever see her
again? Who can tell me?


A Character.

Be this Philander’s praise,—a well-tuned mind,

Lofty as man, and more than woman kind;

A virgin soul which, spotless yet and bright,

Keeps all the lustre of its native white.

Virtue in him from no cold precept flow’d,

But with a vigorous, genuine ardour glow’d;

So pure his feelings and his sense so strong;

Seldom his head, his heart was never wrong;

Gentle to others, to himself severe,

And mild from pity only, not from fear.

Tender yet firm, and prudent without art,

The sweetest manners and the gentlest heart.

If in so fair a mind there reign’d a fault,

’Twas sensibility too finely wrought,

Too quickly roused, too exquisite for peace,

Too deeply thoughtful for unmingled ease.

His griefs were like his joys, too far refined

To reach the dull or touch the selfish mind;

Yet the pure sorrows that on virtue grow,

Taste of the sacred spring from which they flow.



“Pray, mamma, what is the meaning of pic-
? I have heard lately once or twice of
a pic-nic supper, and I cannot think what
it means; I looked for the word in Johnson’s
and could not find it.”

“I should wonder if you had, the word
was not coined in Johnson’s time; and if
it had, I believe he would have disdained to
insert it among the legitimate words of the
language. I cannot tell you the derivation
of the phrase; I believe pic-nic is originally
a cant word, and was first applied to a
supper or other meal in which the entertainment
is not provided by any one person,
but each of the guests furnishes his dish.
In a pic-nic supper one supplies the fowls,
another the fish, another the wine and fruit,
&c.; and they all sit down together and
enjoy it.”

K1r 193

“A very sociable way of making an entertainment.”

“Yes, and I would have you observe that
the principle of it may be extended to many
other things. No one has a right to be
entertained gratis in society; he must expend
if he wishes to enjoy.—Conversation,
particularly, is a pic-nic feast, where every
one is to contribute something, according
to his genius and ability. Different talents
and acquirements compose the different
dishes of the entertainment, and the greater
variety the better; but every one must
bring something, for society will not tolerate
any one long who lives wholly at the
expense of his neighbours. Did not you
observe how agreeably we were entertained
at Lady Isabella’s party last night?”

“Yes: one of the young ladies sung, and
another exhibited her drawings; and a
gentleman told some very good stories.”

“True: another lady who is very much in
the fashionable world gave us a great deal
of anecdote; Dr. R., who is just returned K K1v 194
from the continent, gave us an interesting
account of the state of Germany; and in
another part of the room a cluster was
gathered round an Edinburgh student and
a young Oxonian, who were holding a
lively debate on the power of galvanism.
But Lady Isabella herself was the charm of
the party.”

“I think she talked very little; and I do
not recollect any thing she said which was
particularly striking.”

“That is true. But it was owing to her
address and attention to her company that
others talked and were heard by turns;
that the modest were encouraged and
drawn out, and those inclined to be noisy
restrained and kept in order. She blended
and harmonized the talents of each; brought
those together who were likely to be agreeable
to each other, and gave us no more of
herself than was necessary to set off others.
I noticed particularly her good offices to
an accomplished but very bashful lady and
a reserved man of science, who wished K2r 195
much to be known to one another, but
who would never have been so without
her introduction. As soon as she had
fairly engaged them in an interesting conversation
she left them, regardless of her
own entertainment, and seated herself by
poor Mr.――, purely because he was
sitting in a corner and no one attended to
him. You know that in chemical preparations
two substances often require a third,
to enable them to mix and unite together.
Lady Isabella possesses this amalgamating
power:—this is what she brings to the
pic-nic. I should add, that two or three
times I observed she dexterously changed
topics, and suppressed stories which were
likely to bear hard on the profession or
connexions of some of the company. In
short, the party which was so agreeable
under her harmonizing influence, would
have had quite a different aspect without
her. These merits, however, might easily
escape a young observer. But I dare say
you did not fail to notice Sir Henry B――’s K2 K2v 196
lady, who was declaiming with so much
enthusiasm, in the midst of a circle of gentlemen
which she had drawn round her,
upon the beau ideal.”

“No: indeed, mamma; I never heard so
much fire and feeling:—and what a flow of
elegant language! I do not wonder her
eloquence was so much admired.”

“She has a great deal of eloquence and
taste; she has travelled, and is acquainted
with the best works of art. I am not sure,
however, whether the gentlemen were admiring
most her declamation or the fine
turn of her hands and arms. She has a different
attitude for every sentiment. Some
observations which she made upon the
beauty of statues seemed to me to go to
the verge of what a modest female will
allow herself to say upon such subjects,—
but she has travelled. She was sensible
that she could not fail to gain by the conversation
while beauty of form was the
subject of it.”

“Pray what――, the great poet, bring K3r 197
to the pic-nic, for I think he hardly opened
his mouth?”

“He brought his fame. Many would be
gratified with merely seeing him who had
entertained them in their closets; and he
who had so entertained them had a right
to be himself entertained in that way which
he had no talent for joining in.—Let every
one, I repeat, bring to the entertainment
something of the best he possesses, and
the pic-nic table will seldom fail to afford
a plentiful banquet.”


Grimalkin to Selima.

My Dear Selima,

As you are now going to quit the fostering
cares of a mother, to enter, young as you
are, into the wide world, and conduct yourself
by your own prudence, I cannot forbear
giving you some parting advice in
this important æra of your life.

Your extreme youth, and permit me to
add, the giddiness incident to that period,
make me particularly anxious for your
welfare. In the first place then, let me beg
you to remember that life is not to be spent
in running after your own tail. Remember
you were sent into the world to catch rats
and mice. It is for this you are furnished
with sharp claws, whiskers to improve your
scent, and with such an elasticity and
spring in your limbs. Never lose sight K4r 199
of this great end of your existence. When
you and your sister are jumping over my
back, and kicking and scratching one
another’s noses, you are indulging the propensities
of your nature, and perfecting
yourselves in agility and dexterity. But
remember that these frolics are only preparatory
to the grand scene of action. Life
is long, but youth is short. The gaiety of
the kitten will most assuredly go off. In
a few months, nay even weeks, those spirits
and that playfulness, which now exhilarate
all who behold you, will subside; and I beg
you to reflect how contemptible you will
be, if you should have the gravity of an old
cat without that usefulness which alone
can ensure respect and protection for your
maturer years.

In the first place, my dear child, obtain
a command over your appetites, and take
care that no tempting opportunity ever induces
you to make free with the pantry or
larder of your mistress. You may possibly
slip in and out without observation; you K4v 200
may lap a little cream, or run away with
a chop without its being missed: but depend
upon it, such practices sooner or later will
be found out; and if in a single instance
you are discovered, every thing which is
missing will be charged upon you. If
Mrs. Betty or Mrs. Susan chooses to regale
herself with a cold breast of chicken
which was set by for supper,—you will have
clawed it; or a raspberry cream,—you will
have lapped it. Nor is this all. If you have
once thrown down a single cup in your
eagerness to get out of the storeroom,
every china plate and dish that is ever
broken in the house, you will have broken
it; and though your back promises to be
pretty broad, it will not be broad enough
for all the mischief that will be laid upon
it. Honesty you will find is the best policy.

Remember that the true pleasures of life
consist in the exertion of our own powers.
If you were to feast every day upon roasted
partridges from off Dresden china, and dip
your whiskers in syllabubs and creams, it K5r 201
could never give you such true enjoyment
as the commonest food procured by the
labour of your own paws. When you have
once tasted the exquisite pleasure of catching
and playing with a mouse, you will despise
the gratification of artificial dainties.

I do not with some moralists call cleanliness
a half virtue only. Remember it is
one of the most essential to your sex and
station; and if ever you should fail in it, I
sincerely hope Mrs. Susan will bestow
upon you a good whipping.

Pray do not spit at strangers who do you
the honour to take notice of you. It is very
uncivil behaviour, and I have often wondered
that kittens of any breeding should
be guilty of it.

Avoid thrusting your nose into every
closet and cupboard,—unless indeed you
smell mice; in which case it is very becoming.

Should you live, as I hope you will, to
see the children of your patroness, you
must prepare yourself to exercise that K5 K5v 202
branch of fortitude which consists in
patient endurance: for you must expect
to be lugged about, pinched and pulled
by the tail, and played a thousand tricks
with; all which you must bear without
putting out a claw: for you may depend
upon it, if you attempt the least retaliation
you will for ever lose the favour of your

Should there be favourites in the house,
such as tame birds, dormice, or a squirrel,
great will be your temptations. In such a
circumstance, if the cage hangs low and
the door happens to be left open,—to govern
your appetite I know will be a difficult
task. But remember that nothing is impossible
to the governing mind; and that
there are instances upon record of cats
who, in the exercise of self-government,
have overcome the strongest propensities
of their nature.

If you would make yourself agreeable
to your mistress, you must observe times
and seasons. You must not startle her by K6r 203
jumping upon her in a rude manner: and
above all, be sure to sheathe your claws
when you lay your paw upon her lap.

You have like myself been brought up
in the country, and I fear you may regret
the amusements it affords; such as catching
butterflies, climbing trees, and watching
birds from the windows, which I have
done with great delight for a whole morning
together. But these pleasures are not
essential. A town life has also its gratifications.
You may make many pleasant acquaintances
in the neighbouring courts and
alleys. A concert upon the tiles in a fine
moonlight summer’s evening may at once
gratify your ear and your social feelings.
Rats and mice are to be met with everywhere:
and at any rate you have reason to
be thankful that so creditable a situation
has been found for you; without which you
must have followed the fate of your poor
brothers, and with a stone about your neck
have been drowned in the next pond.

It is only when you have kittens yourself, K6v 204
that you will be able to appreciate the
cares of a mother. How unruly have you
been when I wanted to wash your face!
how undutiful in galloping about the room
instead of coming immediately when I
called you! But nothing can subdue the
affections of a parent. Being grave and
thoughtful in my nature, and having the
advantage of residing in a literary family,
I have mused deeply on the subject of
education; I have pored by moonlight over
Locke, and Edgeworth, and Mrs. Hamilton,
and the laws of association: but after
much cogitation I am only convinced of
this, that kittens will be kittens, and old
cats old cats. May you, my dear child, be
an honour to all your relations and to the
whole feline race. May you see your descendants
of the fiftieth generation. And
when you depart this life, may the lamentations
of your kindred exceed in pathos
the melody of an Irish howl.

Signed by the paw of your affectionate



Petition of a Schoolboy
to his Father.

Most honour’d Sir, I must confess

I never liked a letter less

Than yours, which brought this new receipt

To prove that poets must not eat.

Alas! poetic sparks require

The aid of culinary fire:

Your ancient bards, I always find,

Recited best when they had dined:

Old Homer, and your brave Greek boys,

With whom old stories make such noise,

The savoury chine loved full as well

As striking on an empty shell;

And mighty idle it was reckon’d

(See Pope’s translation, book the second)

To enter upon any matter

Of verse, or business, praise, or satire,

Till the dire rage of hunger ceased,

And empty stomachs were appeased.

Indeed, Sir, with your lean philosophy,

For want of moisture I should ossify;

K7v 206

And therefore beg, with all submission,

To recommend a composition,

Which Phœbus’ self to me reveal’d

Last night, while sleep my eyelids seal’d

First, from the Naiad’s sacred spring

The cleansing wave with reverence bring;

Be rites of due lustration paid,—

Ill-omen’d else, you’ll ne’er succeed.

Now with pure hands receive the flour

Which Ceres from her horn will pour.

The fairest herds on Mosswold hill

Your pail with smoking streams shall fill,

Which, tortured in the whirling churn,

Shall soon to waxen butter turn,—

Butter, more sweet than morning dew,

Butter, which Homer never knew!

My friends, you have not done your task yet:

Next of fresh eggs provide a basket;

Let Betty break them in a bowl

Large as her own free-hearted soul;

Then, with a triple-tined fork

The viscous flood incessant work,

Till white with sparkling foam it rise

Like a vext sea beneath her eyes.

The monarch of the watery reign

Thus with his trident smites the main,

When roused from Ocean’s deepest bed

The billows lift their frothy head,

K8r 207

And the wet sailor far from shore

With dashing spray is cover’d o’er.

With flying sails and falling oars

Now speed, my friends, to distant shores,—

For many a distant realm must join,

Ere we fulfil the vast design.

From islands of the Western main

Bring the sweet juices of the cane;

In bright Hesperia’s groves you’ll find

The lovely fruit with burnish’d rind;

Not fairer was that golden bough

Given to the pious Trojan’s vow,

When the prophetic Sibyl led

To the sad nations of the dead,

Which guided through the direful scene,

And soothed the stern relentless Queen.

Strip of their bark the spicy trees

Embosom’d deep in Indian seas.

To Venus next address your prayer,

That she with rosy hand would bear

The luscious fruit to crown your toils

From Paphos and Cythera’s isles.

From every clime the tribute pour’d

Now heap’d upon the spacious board,

Sure sister Sally will not linger

To mix them with her snowy finger.

Fair priestess of the mystic rite,

Kept close from man’s unhallow’d sight,

K8v 208

Fear not my verse should here disclose

What words the sacred charm compose,

When with uncover’d arms you bend,

The heterogeneous mass to blend:—

Your cakes are good, with joy I take them,

Nor ask the secret how you make them.

Now, the rich labour to complete,

Spread o’er the whole an icy sheet,

Thinner than e’er the pointed thorn,

The glazing of a winter’s morn;

Too weak to bear the beams of day,

The trickling crystal melts away.

’Tis done,—consign it o’er to Bray, The Diss and Palgrave carrier.

And your petitioner tshall pray.


The River and the Brook:

A Fable.

There was once a River which was very
large, and flowed through a great extent
of country which it rendered fruitful and
pleasant. It was some miles broad at its
mouth; it was navigable for a long way up
the stream, and ships of large burthen floated
on its bosom. The River, elated with
its own consequence, despised all the little
brooks and streams which fell into it; and
swelling above its banks with pride, said
to them—“Ye petty and inconsiderable
streams, that hasten to lose your names
and your being in my flood, how little
does your feeble tribute increase my greatness!
whether you withhold or bring it
I feel no increase and shall preerceive no

“Proud stream!” replied a little Brook K9v 210
which lifted up its head and murmured
these words,—“dost thou not know that all
thy greatness is owing to us whom thou

The River, mindless of this reproof, in
wanton pride overflowed its banks. But
the next summer proving a very hot one,
all the little streams were dried up, and
the River was so far dried that men and
cattle could wade over it; and a strong
wind bringing a heap of dust across its
stream, it was lost in the sands and never
heard of afterwards.


The Lament:

A Ballad.

Come here, all ye virgins, and pity my case,

By a lover neglected and left in disgrace;

By a lover whose charms and whose falsehoods are

That I neither can praise nor lament him too much.

When first seen o’er the hills of the East he drew

How beauteous his footsteps, how cheering his eye!

The lark sprung to meet him, all nature was gay,

And his bright golden hair, how it stream’d on the

As nearer and nearer each day then he press’d,

How quickly he thaw’d all the ice of my breast;

And the hours of his absence were never then long,

And those hours too were soothed with the nightingale’s

O then if I sicken’d, I sicken’d of love,

For relief from his ardours I sought the cool grove;

K10v 212

But where did the grove, rock, or desert appear,

Which his eye did not pierce, which his smile did
not cheer;

O the joys that are past! by my lover caress’d,

When my lap teem’d with wealth, the rose bloom’d
on my breast;

When the poet delighted my charms to rehearse,

And a wreath from my hair was the meed of his

But those moments so precious are fled with swift

For a month at a time I now scarce see his face;

So languid his smile is, so distant his air,

My poor heart is quite sunk in the depths of despair.

My tresses are scatter’d, dishevell’d, and torn,

Through the chill night I sigh, and I weep every

My charms were call’d forth by a beam from his eye,

In his absence they wither, they languish, and die.

Now my strength and my youth and my beauty are

My times are accomplish’d, my fate hastens on;

His eye is averted, he sees not my death,—

Now my last hour approaches, I scarce draw my

K11r 213

To a new fav’rite then he’ll his passion transfer,

And his gifts and his courtship will all be for her;

Like me with his smiles she will kindle and glow,

And his kiss from her bosom will melt off the snow.

But like me deserted, she too will soon prove

How transient his fervours, how fickle his love;

And like mine, her short pageant must quickly be

For the circle she treads I have trodden before.

The Old Year.


Allegory on Sleep.

My Dear Miss D****,

The affection I bear you, and the sincere
regard I have for your welfare, will I hope
excuse the liberty I am going to take in remonstrating
against the indulgence of a too
partial affection which I see with sorrow is
growing upon you every day.

You start at the imputation: but hear
me with patience; and if your own heart,
your own reason, does not bear witness to
what I say, then blame my suspicions and
my freedom.

But need I say much to convince you
of the power this favoured lover, whose
name I will not mention, has over you,
when at this very moment he absorbs all
your faculties, and engrosses every power
of your mind to such a degree as leaves it K12r 215
doubtful whether this friendly admonition
will reach your ear, lost as you are in the
soft enchantment? Is it not evident that
in his presence you are dead to every thing
around you? The voice of your nearest
friends, your most sprightly and once-
loved amusements, cannot draw your attention;
you breathe, you exist, only for
him. And when at length he has left you,
do not I behold you languid, pale, bearing
in your eyes and your whole carriage
the marks of his power over you?
When we parted last night, did not I see
you impatient to sink into his arms? Have
you never been caught reclined on his bosom,
on a soft carpet of flowers, on the
banks of a purling stream, where the murmuring
of the waters, the whispering of
the trees, the silence and solitude of the
place, and the luxurious softness of every
thing around you, favoured his approach
and disposed you to listen to his addresses?
Nay, in that sacred temple which ought to
be dedicated to higher affections, has he K12v 216
never stolen insensibly on your mind, and
sealed your ears against the voice of the
preacher, though never so persuasive?
Has not his influence over you greatly increased
within these few weeks? Does he
not every day demand, do you not every
day sacrifice to him, a larger portion of
your time?

Not content with your devoting to him
those hours “When business, noise, and day are fled,”
does he not encroach upon the morning
watches, break in upon your studies, and
detain your mind from the pursuit of
knowledge and the pursuit of pleasure,—
of all pleasure but the enervating indulgence
of your passion?

Diana, who still wishes to number you
in her train, invites you to join in her
lively sports; for you Aurora bathes the
new-born rose in dew, and streaks the
clouds with gold and crimson; and Youth
and Health offer a thousand innocent
pleasures to your acceptance.

L1r 217

And, let me ask you, what can you find
in the company of him with whom you are
thus enamoured, to make you amends for
all that you give up for his sake? Does
he entertain you with any thing but the
most incoherent rhapsodies, the most romantic
and visionary tales? To believe
the strange, improbable and contradictory
things he tells you, requires a credulity
beyond that of an infant. If he has ever
spoken truth, it is mixed with so much
falsehood and obscurity, that it is esteemed
the certain sign of a weak mind to be much
affected with what he says.

As I wish to draw a true portrait, I will
by no means disguise his good qualities; and
shall therefore allow that he is a friend to the
unhappy and the friendless, that his breast
is the only pillow for misfortune to repose
on, and that his approaches are so gentle
and insinuating as in some moments to be
almost irresistible. If he is at all disposed
to partiality, it is in favour of the poor and
mean, with whom he is generally thought L L1v 218
to associate more readily than with the
rich. Yet he dispenses favours to all: and
those who are most disposed to rebel
against his power and treat him with contempt,
could never render themselves quite
independent of him.

He is of a very ancient family, and came
in long before the Conquest. He has a
half-brother, somewhat younger than himself,
who has made his name very famous
in the world: he is a tall meagre figure,
with a ghastly air and a most forbidding
countenance; he delights in slaughter, and
has destroyed more men than Cæsar or

He who is the subject of my letter is
fond of peace, sleek and corpulent, with a
mild heavy eye and a physiognomy perfectly
placid; yet with all this opposition
of feature and character, there is such a
resemblance between them (as often happens
in family likenesses), that in some
lights and attitudes you can scarce distinguish
the one from the other.

L2r 219

To finish the description of your lover,—
he is generally crowned with flowers, but
of the most languid kind, such as poppies
and cowslips; and he is attended by a number
of servants, thin and light-footed, to
whom he does not give the same livery;
for some are dressed in the gayest, others
in the most gloomy habits imaginable, but
all fantastic.

He is subject to many strange antipathies,
and as strange likings. The warbling
of the lark, to others so agreeable, is
to him the harshest discord, and Peter
could not start more at the crowing of a
cock. The slightest accident, the cry of
an infant, a mouse behind the wainscot,
will oftentimes totally disconcert and put
him to flight, and at other times he will not
regard the loudest thunder. His favourite
animal is the dormouse, and his music the
dropping of water, the low tinkling of a
distant bell, the humming of bees, and the
hollow sound of the wind rustling through
the trees.

L2 L2v 220

But I have now said enough to let you
into the true character of this powerful enchanter.
You will answer, I know, to all
this, that he begins by enslaving every faculty
that might resist him, and that his
power must be already broken before Reason
can exert herself. You will perhaps
likewise tell me (and I must acknowledge
the justice of the retort), that I myself,
though my situation affords a thousand
reasons to resist him which do not take
place with you, have been but too sensible
of his attractions.

With blushes I confess the charge. At
this moment, however, the charm is broken,
and Reason has her full empire over me.
Let me exhort you therefore...But why exhort
you to what is already done? for if this
letter has made its way to your ear, if your
eye is now perusing its contents, the spell
is dissolved, and you are no longer sunk in
the embraces of Sleep.


To *******.

Occasioned by his Poem on the Sun.

While, Florio, thy young venturous Muse

Pursues her shining way,

And like the generous eagle soars

To meet the blaze of day;

With the fair dawn of genius charm’d,

A nobler theme I find;

I hail the intellectual morn,

I sing the bloom of mind.

The sun which bids the ruby glow,

And wakes the purple rose,

A richer gem did ne’er refine,

A sweeter bud disclose.

That bud to golden fruit shall swell,

That gem be polish’d bright,

The kindling dawn of science spread

To clear meridian light.

When gems grow pale, and roses droop,

And sickening suns expire,—

The mind, a ray from heaven, shall live,

And mix with heavenly fire.


A Hymn.

Lift up thyself, O mourning soul! lift up
thyself, raise thine eyes that are wet with

Why are thine eyes wet with tears?
why are they bent continually upon the
earth? and why dost thou go mourning as
one forsaken of thy God?

O thou that toilest ever and restest not;
thou that wishest ever and art not satisfied;
thou that carest ever and art not ’stablished;

Why dost thou toil and wish? why is
thine heart withered with care, and thine
eye sunk with watching?

Rest quietly on thy couch, steep thine
eyelids in sleep, wrap thyself in sleep as
in a garment,—for he careth for thee:

He is with thee, he is about thee, he
compasseth thee, he compasseth thee on
every side.

L4r 223

The voice of thy Shepherd among the
rocks! he calleth thee, he beareth thee
tenderly in his arms; he suffereth thee not
to stray.

Thy soul is precious in his sight, O
child of many hopes!

For he careth for thee in the things
which perish, and he hath provided yet
better things than those.

Raise thyself, O beloved soul! turn thine
eyes from care, and sin, and pain; turn
them to the brightness of the heavens, and
contemplate thine inheritance; for thy
birthright is in the skies, and thine inheritance
amongst the stars of light.

The herds of the pasture sicken and
die, they lie down among the clods of the
valley, the foot passeth over them; they
are no more. But it is not so with thee.

For the Almighty is the father of thy
spirit, and he hath given thee a portion of
his own immortality.

Look around thee and behold the earth, L4v 224
for it is the gift of thy Father to thee and
to thy sons, that they should possess it.

Out of the ground cometh forth food;
the hills are covered with fresh shade; and
the animals, thy subjects, sport among the

Delight thyself in them, for they are
good; and all that thou seest is thine.

But nothing that thou seest is like unto
thyself; thou art not of them, nor shalt
thou return to them.

Thou hast a mighty void which they
cannot fill; thou hast an immortal hunger
which they cannot satisfy: they cannot
nourish, they cannot support, they are not
worthy that they should occupy thee.

As the fire which while it resteth on
the earth yet sendeth forth sparks continually
towards heaven; so do thou from
amidst the world send up fervent thoughts
to God.

As the lark, though her nest is on the
low ground, as soon as she becometh L5r 225
fledged, poiseth her wings, and finding
them strong to bear her through the light
air, springeth up aloft, singing as she

So let thy desires mount swiftly upwards,
and thou shalt see the world beneath thy

And be not overwhelmed with many
thoughts. Heaven is thine, and God is
thine: thou shalt be blessed with everlasting
salvation and peace upon thy head for

L5 L5v

On Friendship.

Friendship is that warm, tender, lively,
attachment which takes place between persons
in whom a similarity of tastes and
manners, joined to frequent intercourse,
has produced an habitual fondness for each
other. It is not among our duties, for it
does not flow from any of the necessary
relations of society; but it has its duties
when voluntarily entered into. In its
highest perfection it can only, I believe,
subsist between two; for that unlimited
confidence and perfect conformity of inclinations
which it requires, cannot well
be found in a larger number: besides, one
such friendship fills the heart, and leaves
no want or desire after another.

Friendship, where it is quite sincere and
affectionate, free from affectation or interested
views, is one of the greatest blessings L6r 227
of life. It doubles our joys, and it lessens
our sorrows when we are able to pour both
into the bosom of one who takes the tenderest
part in all our interests, who is to us
as another self. We love to communicate all
our feelings; and it is in the highest degree
grateful where we can do it to one who
will enter into them all; who takes an interest
in every thing that befalls us; before
whom we can freely indulge even our little
weaknesses and foibles, and show our minds
as it were undrest; who will take part in
all our schemes, advise us in any emergency;
who rejoices in our company, and
who, we are sure, thinks of us in our absence.

With regard to the choice of friends,
there is little to say; for a friend was never
chosen. A secret sympathy, the attraction
of a thousand nameless qualities; a charm
in the expression of the countenance, even
in the voice, or the manner, a similarity of
circumstances,—these are the things that
begin attachment, which is fostered by L6v 228
being in a situation which gives occasion
for frequent intercourse; and this depends
upon chance. Reason and prudence have,
however, much to do in restraining our
choice of improper or dangerous friends.
They are improper if our line of life and
pursuits are so totally different as to make
it improbable we shall long keep up an intimacy,
at least without sacrificing to it
connexions of duty; they are dangerous if
they are in any respect vicious.

It has been made a question whether
friendship can subsist amongst the vicious.
If by vicious be meant those who are void
of the social, generous, and affectionate
feelings, it is most certain it cannot; because
these make the very essence of it.
But it is very possible for persons to possess
fine feelings, without that steady principle
which alone constitutes virtue; and it does
not appear why such may not feel a real
friendship. It will not indeed be so likely
to be lasting, and is often succeeded by
bitter enmities.

L7r 229

The duties of friendship are, first, sincere
and disinterested affection. This seems
self-evident: and yet there are many who
pretend to love their friends, when at the
same time they only take delight in them,
as we delight in a fine voice or a good picture.
If you love your friend, you will love
him when his powers of pleasing and entertaining
you have given way to malady or
depression of spirits; you will study his
interest and satisfaction, you will be ready
to resign his company, to promote his advantageous
settlement at a distant residence,
to favour his connexion with other
friends;—these are the tests of true affection:
without such a disposition, you may
enjoy your friend, but you do not love him.

Next, friendship requires pure sincerity
and the most unreserved confidence. Sincerity
every man has a right to expect from
us, but every man has not a right to our
confidence: this is the sacred and peculiar
privilege of friendship; and so essential is
it to the very idea of this connexion, that L7v 230
even to serve a friend without giving him
our confidence, is but going half way;—it
may command gratitude, but will not produce
love. Above all things, the general
tenour of our thoughts and feelings must
be shown to our friends exactly as they are;
without any of those glosses, colourings,
and disguises which we do, and partly
must, put on in our commerce with the

Another duty resulting from this confidence
is inviolable secrecy in what has
been entrusted to us. To every one indeed
we owe secrecy in what we are formally
entrusted with; but with regard to a friend,
this extends to the concealing every thing
which in the fullness of his heart and in the
freedom of unguarded conversation he has
let drop, if you have the least idea it may
in any manner injure or offend him. In
short, you are to consider youself as always,
to him, under an implied promise
of secrecy; and should even the friendship
dissolve, it would be in the highest degree L8r 231
ungenerous to consider this obligation as
dissolved with it.

In the next place, a friend has a right to
our best advice on every emergency; and
this, even though we run the risk of offending
him by our frankness. Friends
should consider themselves as the sacred
guardians of each other’s virtue; and the
noblest testimony they can give of their affection
is the correction of the faults of those
they love. But this generous solicitude must
be distinguished from a teazing, captious,
or too officious notice of all the little defects
and frailties which their close intercourse
with each other brings continually
into view: these must be overlooked or
borne with; for as we are not perfect ourselves,
we have no right to expect our
friends should be so.

Friends are most easily acquired in
youth, but they are likewise most easily
lost: the petulance and impetuosity of
that age, the eager competitions and rivalships
of an active life, and more especially L8v 232
the various changes in rank and fortune,
connexions, party, opinions, or local
situation, burst asunder or silently untwist
the far greater part of those friendships
which, in the warmth of youthful attachment,
we had fondly promised ourselves
should be indissoluble.

Happy is he to whom, in the maturer
season of life, there remains one tried and
constant friend: their affection, mellowed
by the hand of time, endeared by the recollection
of enjoyments, toils and even
sufferings shared together, becomes the
balm, the consolation, and the treasure of
life. Such a friendship is inestimable, and
should be preserved with the utmost care;
for it is utterly impossible for any art ever
to transfer to another the effect of all those
accumulated associations which endear to
us the friend of our early years.

These considerations should likewise induce
us to show a tender indulgence to our
friends, even for those faults which most
sensibly wound the feeling heart,—a growing L9r 233
coolness and indifference. These may
be brought on by many circumstances,
which do not imply a bad heart; and provided
we do not by bitter complaints and
an open rupture preclude the possibility of
a return, in a more favourable conjuncture
the friendships of our youth may knit
again, and be cultivated with more genuine
tenderness than ever.

I must here take occasion to observe,
that there is nothing young people ought
to guard against with more care than a
parade of feeling, and a profusion of exaggerated
protestations. These may sometimes
proceed from the amiable warmth of
a youthful heart; but they much oftener
flow from the affectation of sentiment,
which is both contemptible and morally

All that has been said of the duties or
of the pleasures of friendship in its most
exalted sense, is applicable in a proportionate
degree to every connexion in which
there exists any portion of this generous L9v 234
affection: so far as it does exist in the various
relations of life, so far it renders
them interesting and valuable; and were
the capacity for it taken away from the human
heart, it would find a dreary void,
and starve amidst all the means of enjoyment
the world could pour out before it.

L10r 235

Confidence and Modesty.

A Fable.

When the Gods, knowing it to be for the
benefit of mortals that the few should lead
and that the many should follow, sent
down into this lower world Ignorance and
Wisdom, they decreed to each of them an
attendant and guide, to conduct their steps
and facilitate their introduction. To Wisdom
they gave Confidence, and Ignorance
they placed under the guidance of Modesty.
Thus paired, the parties travelled
about the world for some time with mutual

Wisdom, whose eye was clear and piercing,
and commanded a long reach of country,
followed her conductor with pleasure
and alacrity. She saw the windings of the
road at a great distance; her foot was firm,
her ardour was unbroken, and she ascended L10v 236
the hill or traversed the plain with speed
and safety.

Ignorance, on the other hand, was shortsighted
and timid. When she came to a
spot where the road branched out in different
directions, or was obliged to pick her
way through the obscurity of the tangled
thicket, she was frequently at a loss, and
was accustomed to stop till some one appeared,
to give her the necessary information,
which the interesting countenance of
her companion seldom failed to procure

Wisdom in the mean time, led by a natural
instinct, advanced towards the temple
of Science and Eternal Truth. For
some time the way lay plain before her,
and she followed her guide with unhesitating
steps: but she had not proceeded far
before the paths grew intricate and entangled;
the meeting branches of the trees
spread darkness over her head, and steep
mountains barred her way, whose summits,
lost in clouds, ascended beyond the L11r 237
reach of mortal vision. At every new turn
of the road her guide urged her to proceed;
but after advancing a little way, she
was often obliged to measure back her
steps, and often found herself involved in
the mazes of a labyrinth which after exercising
her patience and her strength,
ended but where it began.

In the mean time Ignorance, who was
naturally impatient, could but ill bear the
continual doubts and hesitation of her companion.
She hated deliberation, and could
not submit to delay. At length it so happened
that she found herself on a spot
where three ways met, and no indication
was to be found which might direct her to
the right road. Modesty advised her to
wait; and she had waited till her patience
was exhausted.—At that moment Confidence,
who was in disgrace with Wisdom
for some false steps he had led her into,
and who had just been discarded from her
presence, came up, and offered himself to
be her guide. He was accepted. Under L11v 238
his auspices Ignorance, naturally swift of
foot, and who could at any time have
outrun Wisdom, boldly pressed forward,
pleased and satisfied with her new companion.
He knocked at every door, visited
castle and convent, and introduced
his charge to many a society whence Wisdom
found herself excluded.

Modesty, in the mean time, finding she
could be of no further use to her charge,
offered her services to Wisdom. They
were mutually pleased with each other,
and soon agreed never to separate. And
ever since that time Ignorance has been
led by Confidence, and Modesty has been
found in the society of Wisdom.


The Death-Bed.

A little Parlour with deal Floor; a Bed with a clean
Quilt, in which lies the Grandmother.

“I had more pain when I brought you into
the world than now.

“Shall I lay on more clothes?”

Yes, on my feet.

“Are they warmer?”

No. When your father died was the
greatest grief I ever knew. Well! we began
life together, and lived hardly enough.
I have often thought since, I could not do
it again. But we loved one another. I
am sure I could never have recovered his
loss but for the care necessary to take for
you: and one friend helped, and another
friend, so I struggled through. Yet, my
child, I would not live it again; the tired
traveller would not measure back his steps.

If I were to live, I should grow worse L12v 240
and worse, deafer, and blind. I have read
of a country where they keep their ancestors’
mummies,—living mummies would
be worse.

Your father’s Bible,—your ages are all
down in it,—never sell it.

I have loved you all equally....And yet
I am not sure....Poor Tommy was so long
sick, and would come to nobody but me....

Jenny, you may marry the shoemaker.
—And now, if I could but see my poor
naughty Emma!.....

You will save nothing by me but watergruel
and an egg or two,—care indeed,
but that produces love.

You will not quarrel for my inheritance.
The Squire,—it has gone to my heart when
he has said, My old mother keeps me out
of my estate.—Let my ring be buried with


A Dialogue of the Dead,
Helen, and Madame Maintenon.


Whence comes it, my dear Madame
, that beauty, which in
the age I lived in produced such extraordinary
effects, has now lost almost all its


—I should wish first to be convinced
of the fact, before I offer to give you
a reason for it.


—That will be very easy; for
there is no occasion to go any further than
our own histories and experience to prove
what I advance. You were beautiful, accomplished,
and fortunate; endowed with
every talent and every grace to bend the
heart of man and mould it to your wish;
and your schemes were successful; for you M M1v 242
raised yourself from obscurity and dependence
to be the wife of a great monarch.—
But what is this to the influence my beauty
had over sovereigns and nations! I occasioned
a long ten years war between the most
celebrated heroes of antiquity; contending
kingdoms disputed the honour of placing
me on their respective thrones; my story
is recorded by the father of verse; and my
charms make a figure even in the annals of
mankind. You were, it is true, the wife of
Louis XIV. and respected in his court; but
you occasioned no wars; you are not spoken
of in the history of France, though you furnish
materials for the memoirs of a court.
Are the love and admiration that were paid
you merely as an amiable woman to be compared
with the enthusiasm I inspired, and
the boundless empire I obtained over all
that was celebrated, great, or powerful in
the age I lived in?


—All this, my dear Helen, has a
splendid appearance, and sounds well in a
heroic poem; but you greatly deceive yourself M2r 243
if you impute it all to your personal
merit. Do you imagine that half the chiefs
concerned in the war of Troy were at all
influenced by your beauty, or troubled
their heads what became of you, provided
they came off with honour? Believe me,
love had very little to do in the affair:
Menelaus sought to revenge the affront he
had received; Agamemnon was flattered
with the supreme command; some came to
share the glory, others the plunder; some
because they had bad wives at home, some
in hopes of getting Trojan mistresses
abroad; and Homer thought the story extremely
proper for the subject of the best
poem in the world. Thus you became famous:
your elopement was made a national
quarrel; the animosities of both nations
were kindled by frequent battles: and the
object was not the restoring of Helen to
Menelaus, but the destruction of Troy by
the Greeks.—My triumphs, on the other
hand, were all owing to myself, and to the
influence of personal merit and charms M2 M2v 244
over the heart of man. My birth was obscure,
my fortunes low; I had past the bloom
of youth, and was advancing to that period
at which the generality of our sex lose all
importance with the other; I had to do
with a man of gallantry and intrigue, a
monarch who had been long familiarized
with beauty, and accustomed to every refinement
of pleasure which the most splendid
court in Europe could afford: Love
and Beauty seemed to have exhausted all
their powers of pleasing for him in vain: yet
this man I captivated, I fixed; and far from
being content, as other beauties had been,
with the honour of possessing his heart, I
brought him to make me his wife, and
gained an honourable title to his tenderest
affection.—The infatuation of Paris reflected
little honour upon you. A thoughtless
youth, gay, tender, and impressible, struck
with your beauty, in violation of all the
most sacred laws of hospitality carries you
off, and obstinately refuses to restore you
to your husband. You seduced Paris from M3r 245
his duty,—I recovered Louis from vice;
you were the mistress of the Trojan prince,
I was the companion of the French monarch.


—I grant you were the wife of
Louis, but not the queen of France. Your
great object was ambition, and in that you
met with but a partial success:—my ruling
star was love, and I gave up every thing
for it. But tell me, did not I show my influence
over Menelaus in his taking me
again after the destruction of Troy?


—That circumstance alone is
sufficient to show that he did not love you
with any delicacy. He took you as a possession
that was restored to him, as a booty
that he had recovered; and he had not sentiment
enough to care whether he had your
heart or not. The heroes of your age were
capable of admiring beauty, and often
fought for the possession of it; but they had
not refinement enough to be capable of any
pure, sentimental attachment or delicate
passion. Was that period the triumph of M3v 246
love and gallantry, when a fine woman and
a tripod were placed together for prizes at
a wrestling-bout, and the tripod esteemed
the more valuable of the two? No;
it is our Clelia, our Cassandra, and Princess
of Cleves that have polished mankind
and taught them how to love.


—Rather say you have lost sight
of nature and the passion, between bombast
on one hand and conceit on the other.
Shall one of the cold temperament of France
teach a Grecian how to love? Greece, the
parent of fair forms and soft desires, the
nurse of poetry, whose soft climate and
tempered skies disposed to every gentler
feeling, and tuned the heart to harmony
and love!—was Greece a land of barbarians?
But recollect, if you can, an incident
which showed the power of beauty in
stronger colours than when the grave old
counsellors of Priam on my appearance
were struck with fond admiration, and
could not bring themselves to blame the
cause of a war that had almost ruined M4r 247
their country:—you see I charmed the old
as well as seduced the young.


—But I, after I was grown old,
charmed the young; I was idolized in a
capital where taste, luxury and magnificence
were at the height; I was celebrated by
the greatest wits of my time, and my letters
have been carefully handed down to posterity.


—Tell me now sincerely, were
you happy in your elevated fortune?


—Alas! Heaven knows I was far
otherwise: a thousand times did I wish for
my dear Scarron again. He was a very ugly
fellow it is true, and had but little money;
but the most easy, entertaining companion
in the world; we danced, laughed and
sung; I spoke without fear or anxiety, and
was sure to please. With Louis all was
gloom, constraint, and a painful solicitude
to please—which seldom produces its effect:
the king’s temper had been soured in
the latter part of life by frequent disappointments;
and I was forced continually M4v 248
to endeavour to procure him that cheerfulness
which I had not myself. Louis
was accustomed to the most delicate flatteries;
and though I had a good share of
wit, my faculties were continually on the
stretch to entertain him,—a state of mind
little consistent with happiness or ease: I
was afraid to advance my friends or punish
my enemies. My pupils at St. Cyr were
not more secluded from the world in a
cloister than I was in the bosom of the court;
a secret disgust and weariness consumed
me. I had no relief but in my work and
books of devotion; with these alone I had
a gleam of happiness.


—Alas! one need not have married
a great monarch for that.


—But deign to inform me, Helen,
if you were really as beautiful as fame reports?
for to say truth, I cannot in your
shade see the beauty which for nine long
years had set the world in arms.


—Honestly, no; I was rather
low, and something sunburnt: but I had M5r 249
the good fortune to please; that was all. I
was greatly obliged to Homer.


—And did you live tolerably with
Menelaus after all your adventures?


—As well as possible. Menelaus
was a good-natured domestic man,
and was glad to sit down and end his days
in quiet. I persuaded him that Venus and
the Fates were the cause of all my irregularities,
which he complaisantly believed.
Besides, I was not sorry to return home:
for to tell you a secret, Paris had been unfaithful
to me long before his death, and
was fond of a little Trojan brunette whose
office it was to hold up my train: but it
was thought dishonourable to give me up.
I began to think love a very foolish thing:
I became a great housekeeper, worked the
battles of Troy in tapestry, and spun with
my maids by the side of Menelaus, who
was so satisfied with my conduct, and behaved,
good man, with so much fondness,
that I verily think this was the happiest
period of my life.

M5 M5v 250


—Nothing more likely; but the
most obscure wife in Greece could rival
you there.—Adieu! you have convinced me
how little fame and greatness conduce to


On Expense:

A Dialogue.

You seem to be in a reverie, Harriet; or
are you tired with your long bustling walk
through the streets of London?

Not at all, papa; but I was wondering
at something.

A grown person even cannot walk
through such a metropolis without meeting
with many things to wonder at. But let
us hear the particular subject of your admiration;
—was it the height and circumference
of St. Paul’s, or the automatons, or
the magical effect of the Panorama that has
most struck you?

No, papa; but I was wondering how you
who have always so much money in your
pockets can go through the streets of London,
all full of fine shops, and not buy M6v 252
things: I am sure if I had money I could
not help spending it all.

As you never have a great deal of money,
and it is given you only to please your
fancy with, there is no harm in your spending
it in any thing you have a mind to; but
it is very well for you and me too that the
money does not burn in my pocket as it
does in yours.

No, to be sure you would not spend all
your money in those shops, because you
must buy bread and meat, but you might
spend a good deal. But you walk past
just as if you did not see them: you never
stop to give one look. Now tell me really,
papa, can you help wishing for all those
pretty things that stand in the shop-windows?

For all! Would you have me wish for all
of them? But I will answer you seriously.
I do walk by these tempting shops without
wishing for any thing, and indeed in general
without seeing them.

Well, that is because you are a man, M7r 253
and you do not care for what I admire so
very much.

No, there you are mistaken; for though
I may not admire them so very much as
you say you do, there a vast number
of things sold in London which it would
give me great pleasure to have in my
possession. I should greatly like one of
Dollond’s best reflecting telescopes. I
could lay out a great deal of money, if I
had it to spare, in books of botany and natural
history. Nay, I assure you I should
by no means be indifferent to the fine fruit
exposed at the fruit-shops; the plums
with the blue upon them as if they were
just taken from the tree, the luscious hothouse
grapes, and the melons and pineapples.
Believe me, I could eat these
things with as good a relish as you could.

Then how can you help buying them,
when you have money; and especially,
papa, how can you help thinking about
them and wishing for them?

London is the best place in the world to M7v 254
cure a person of extravagance, and even of
extravagant wishes. I see so many costly
things here which I know I could not buy,
even if I were to lay out all the money
I have in the world, that I never think of
buying any thing which I do not really
want. Our furniture, you know, is old and
plain. Perhaps if there were only a little
better furniture to be had, I might be
tempted to change it; but when I see houses
where a whole fortune is laid out in decorating
a set of apartments, I am content
with chairs whose only use is to sit down
upon, and tables that were in fashion half
a century ago. In short, I have formed
the habit of self-government, one of the
most useful powers a man can be possessed
of. Self-government belongs only to civilized
man,—a savage has no idea of it. A
North-American Indian is temperate when
he has no liquor; but as soon as liquor is
within his reach, he invariably drinks till
he is first furious and then insensible. He
possesses no power over himself, and he M8r 255
literally can no more help it, than iron can
help being drawn by the loadstone.

But he seldom gets liquor, so he has not
a habit of drinking.

You are right; he has not the habit of
drinking, but he wants the habit of self-
control; this can only be gained by being
often in the midst of temptations, and resisting
them. This is the wholesome discipline
of the mind. The first time a
man denies himself any thing he likes and
which it is in his power to procure, there
is a great struggle within him, and uneasy
wishes will disturb for some time the tranquillity
of his mind. He has gained the
victory, but the enemy dies hard. The
next time he does not wish so much, but
he still thinks about it. After a while he
does not think of it; he does not even see
it. A person of moderate fortune, like
myself, who lives in a gay and splendid
metropolis, is accustomed to see every day
a hundred things which it would be madness
to think of buying.

M8v 256

Yes; but if you were very rich, papa—if
you were a lord?

No man is so rich as to buy every thing
his unrestrained fancy might prompt him
to desire. Hounds and horses, pictures
and statues and buildings, will exhaust any
fortune. There is hardly any one taste so
simple or innocent, but what a man might
spend his whole estate in it, if he were resolved
to gratify it to the utmost. A nobleman
may just as easily ruin himself by
extravagance as a private man, and indeed
many do so.

But if you were a king?

If I were a king, the mischief would be
much greater; for I should ruin not only
myself, but my subjects.

A king could not hurt his subjects, however,
with buying toys or things to eat.

Indeed but he might. What is a diamond
but a mere toy? but a large diamond
is an object of princely expense. That
called the Pitt diamond was valued at
1,000,000l. It was offered to George the M9r 257
, but he wisely thought it too dear.
The dress of the late queen of France was
thought by the prudent Necker a serious
object of expense in the revenues of that
large kingdom; and her extravagance and
that of the king’s brothers had a great
share in bringing on the calamities of the
kingdom. As to eating, you could gratify
yourself with laying out a shilling or
two at the pastry-cook’s: but Prince
, who had the revenues of the
mighty empire of Russia at command,
could not please his appetite without his
dish of sterlet soup, which cost every time
it was made above thirty pounds; and he
would send one of his aids-de-camp an
errand from Yassy to Petersburg, a distance
of nearly 700 miles, to fetch him a tureen
of it. He once bought all the cherries of
a tree in a green-house at about half-a-
crown a piece. The Roman empire was
far richer than the Russian, and in the
time of the Emperors was all under the
power of one man. Yet when they had such M9v 258
gluttons as Vitellius and Heliogabalus, the
revenue of whole provinces was hardly sufficient
to give them a dinner: they had
tongues of nightingales, and such kind of
dishes, the value of which was merely in
the expense.

I think the throat of the poor little
nightingales might have given them much
more pleasure than the tongue.

True: but the proverb says, “The belly
has no ears.”
In modern Rome, Pope
, a frugal Dutchman, complained
of the expense his predecessor Leo X.
was at in peacock sausages. The expenses
of Louis XIV. were of a more elegant
kind;—he was fond of fine tapestry,
mirrors, gardens, statues, magnificent palaces.
These tastes were becoming in a
great king, and would have been serviceable
to his kingdom if kept within proper
limits: but he could not deny himself any
thing, however extravagant, that it came
into his mind to wish for; and indeed
would have imagined it beneath him to M10r 259
think at all about the expense: and therefore
while he was throwing up water fifty
feet high at his palaces of Versailles and
Marli, and spouting it out of the mouths
of dolphins and tritons, thousands of his
people in the distant provinces were wanting

I am sure I would not have done so to
please my fancy.

Nor he neither perhaps, if he had seen
them; but these poor men and their families
were a great way off, and all the people
about him looked pleased and happy,
and said he was the most generous prince
the world had ever seen.

Well, but if I had Aladdin’s lamp I
might have every thing I wished for.

I am glad at least I have driven you
to fairyland. You might no doubt with the
lamp of Aladdin, or Fortunatus’s purse,
have every thing you wished for; but do you
know what the consequences would be?

Very pleasant, I should think.

On the contrary; you would become M10v 260
whimsical and capricious, and would soon
grow tired of every thing. We do not receive
pleasure long from any thing that is
not bought with our own labour: this is
one of those permanent laws of nature
which man cannot change; and therefore
pleasure and exertion will never be separated
even in imagination in a well-regulated
mind. I could tell you of a couple
who received more true enjoyment of their
fortune than Aladdin himself.

Pray do.

The couple I am thinking of lived about
a century ago in one of our rich trading
towns, which was just then beginning to
rise by manufacturing tapes and inkle.
They had married because they loved
one another; they had very little to begin
with, but they were not afraid, because
they were industrious. When the husband
had come to be the richest merchant in the
place, he took great pleasure in talking
over his small beginnings; but he used always
to add, that poor as he was when he M11r 261
married, he would not have taken a thousand
pounds for the table his dame and he
ate their dinner from.

What had he so costly a table before
he was grown rich?

On the contrary, he had no table at all;
and his wife and he used to sit close together,
and place their dish of pottage
upon their knees;—their knees were the
table. They soon got forward in the world,
as industrious people generally do, and
were enabled to purchase one thing after
another: first perhaps a deal table; after
a while a mahogany one; then a sumptuous
sideboard. At first they sat on wooden
benches; then they had two or three rush-
bottomed chairs; and when they were rich
enough to have an arm-chair for the husband,
and another for a friend, to smoke
their pipes in, how magnificent they would
think themselves! At first they would treat
a neighbour with a slice of bread and
cheese and a draught of beer; by degrees
with a good joint and a pudding; and at M11v 262
length with all the delicacies of a fashionable
entertainment: and all along they
would be able to say, “The blessing of
God upon our own industry has procured
us these things.”
By this means they would
relish every gradation and increase of their
enjoyments: whereas the man born to a
fortune swallows his pleasures whole, he
does not taste them. Another inconvenience
that attends the man who is born
rich is, that he has not early learned to
deny himself. If I were a nobleman,
though I could not buy every thing I
might fancy for myself, yet playthings for
you would not easily ruin me, and you
would probably have a great deal of pocket-
money; and you would grow up with a
confirmed habit of expense and no ingenuity,
for you would never try to make
any thing, or to find out some substitute
if you could not get just the thing you
wanted. That is a very fine cabinet of
shells which the young heiress showed
you the other day: it is perfectly arranged M12r 263
and mounted with the utmost elegance,
and yet I am sure she has not half the
pleasure in it, which you have had with
those little drawers of shells of your own
collecting, aided by the occasional contributions
of friends, which you have arranged
for yourself and display with such triumph.
And now, to show you that I do sometimes
think of the pleasures of my dear
girl, here is a plaything for you which I
bought while you were chatting at the
door of a shop with one of your young

A magic-lantern!—how delightful! O,
thank you, papa! Edward, come and look
at my charming magic-lantern.

The End.