Gentleman and Lady’s
Town and Country
Repository of Instruction and Entertainment.
For October, 17841784.
Printed by Weeden and Barrett, at their Office
To the Printers of the Gentleman and Lady’s Magazine, &c.
Desultory Thoughts upon the Utility of encouraging a degree of Self-Complacency, eſpecially in Female Bosoms.
Self-eſtimation, kept within due bounds,
However oddly the aſsertion ſounds,
May, of the faireſt efforts be the root,
May yield the embow’ring ſhade—the mellow fruit;
May ſtimulate to moſt exalted deeds,
Direct the ſoul where blooming honor leads;
May give her there, to act a noble part,
To virtous pleaſures yield the willing heart.
Self-eſtimation will debaſement ſhun,
And, in the path of wiſdom, joy to run;
An unbecoming act in fears to do,
And ſtill, its exaltation keeps in view.
To rev’rence ſelf, a Bard long ſince directed,
And, on each moral truth he well reflected;
But, loſt to conſcious worth, to decent pride,
Compaſs nor helm there is, our courſe to guide:
Nor may we anchor caſt, for rudely toſt
In an unfathom’d ſea, each motive’s loſt,
Wildly amid contending waves we’re beat,
And rocks and quick ſands, ſhoals and depths we meet;
’Till, daſh’d in pieces, or, till found’ring, we
One common wreck of all our proſpects ſee!
Nor, do we mourn, for we were loſt to fame,
And never hap’d to reach a tow’ring name;
Ne’er taught to rev’rence ſelf, or to aſpire,
Our boſoms never caught ambition’s fire;
An indolence of virtue ſtill prevail’d,
Nor the ſweet gale of praiſe was e’er inhal’d;
Rous’d by a new ſtimulus, no kindling glow.
No ſoothing emulations gentle flow,
We judg’d that nature, not to us inclin’d,
In narrow bounds our progreſs had confin’d,
And, that our forms, to ſay the very beſt,
Only, not frightful, were by all confeſt.
Ithink, to teach young minds to aſpire, ought to be the ground work of education: many a laudable achievement is loſt, from a perſuaſion that our efforts are unequal to the arduous attainment. Ambition is a noble principle, which properly directed, may be productive of the moſt valuable conſequences. It is amazing to what heights the mind by exertion may tow’r: I would, therefore, have my pupils believe, that every thing in the compaſs of mortality, was placed within their graſp, and that, the avidity of application, the intenſeneſs of ſtudy, were only requiſite to endow them with every external grace, and mental accompliſhment. Thus I ſhould impel them to progreſs on, if I could not lead them to the heights I would wiſh them to attain. It is too common with parents to expatiate in their hearing, upon all the foibles of their children, and to let their virtues paſs, in appearance, unregarded: this they do, leaſt they ſhould, (were they to commend) ſwell their little hearts to pride, and implant in their tender minds, undue conceptions of their own importance. Those, for example, who have the care of a beautiful female,male, 2 252 male, they aſsiduouſly guard every avenue, they arreſt the ſtream of due admiration, and endeavour to diveſt her of all idea of the bounties of nature: what is the conſequence? She grows up, and of courſe mixes with thoſe who are leſs intereſted: ſtrangers will be ſincere; ſhe encounters the tongue of the flatterer, he will exaggerate, ſhe finds herſelf poſseſsed of accompliſhments which have been ſtudiouſly concealed from her, ſhe throws the reins upon the neck of fancy, and gives every encomiaſt full credit for his moſt extravagant eulogy. Her natural connexions, her home is rendered diſagreeable, and ſhe haſtes to the ſcenes, whence ariſe the ſweet perfume of adulation, and when ſhe can obtain the regard due to a merit, which ſhe ſuppoſes altogether uncommon. Thoſe who have made her acquainted with the dear ſecret, ſhe conſiders as her beſt friends; and it is more than probable, that ſhe will ſoon fall a ſacrifice to ſome worthleſs character, whoſe intereſt may lead him to the moſt hyperbolical lengths in the round of flattery. Now, I ſhould be ſolicitous that my daughter ſhould poſſeſs for me the fondeſt love, as well as that reſpect which gives birth to duty; in order to promote this wiſh of my ſoul, from my lips ſhe ſhould be accuſtomed to hear the moſt pleaſing truths, and, as in the courſe of my inſtructions, I ſhould doubtleſs find myſelf but too often impelled to wound the delicacy of youthful ſenſibility. I would therefore, be careful to avail myſelf of this exuberating balance: I would, from the early dawn of reaſon, addreſs her as a rational being; hence, I apprehend, the moſt valuable conſequences would reſult: in ſome ſuch language as this, ſhe might from time to time be accoſted. A pleaſing form is undoubtedly advantageous, nature, my dear, hath furniſhed you with an agreeable perſon, your glaſs, was I to be ſilent, would inform you that you are pretty, your appearance will ſufficiently recommend you to a ſtranger, the flatterer will give a more than mortal finiſhing to every feature; but, it muſt be your part, my ſweet girl, to render yourſelf worthy reſpect from higher motives: you muſt learn to reverence yourſelf, that is, your intellectual exiſtance; you muſt join my efforts, in endeavouring to adorn your mind, for, it is from the proper furniſhing of that, you will become indeed a valuable perſon, you will, as I ſaid, give birth to the moſt favorable impreſsions at firſt ſight: but, how mortifying ſhould this be all, if, upon a more extenſive knowledge you ſhould be diſcovered to poſseſs no one mental charm, to be fit only at beſt, to be hung up as a pleaſing picture among the paintings of ſome ſpacious hall. The flatterer, indeed, will ſtill purſue you, but it will be from intereſted views, and he will ſmile at your undoing! Now, then, my beſt Love, is the time for you to lay in ſuch a fund of uſeful knowledge, as ſhall continue, and augment every kind ſentiment in regard to you, as ſhall ſet you above the ſnares of the artful betrayer.
Thus, that ſweet form, ſhall ſerve but as a poliſhed caſket, which will contain a moſt beautiful gem, highly finiſhed, and calculated for advantage, as well as ornament. Was ſhe, I ſay, habituated thus to reflect, ſhe would be taught to aſpire; ſhe would learn to eſtimate every accompliſhment, according to its proper value; and, when the voice of adulation ſhould aſſail her ear, as ſhe had early been initated into its true meaning, and from youth been accuſtomed to the language of praiſe; her attention would not be captivated, the Siren’s ſong would not borrow the aid of novelty, her young mind would not be enervated or intoxicated, by a delicious ſurpriſe, ſhe would poſseſs her ſoul in ſerenity, and by that means, riſe ſuperior to the deep-laid ſchemes which, too commonly, encompaſs the ſteps of beauty.
Neither ſhould thoſe to whom nature had been parſimonious, be tortured by me with degrading compariſons; every advantage I would expatiate upon 3 253 upon, and there are few who poſseſs not ſome perſonal charms; I would teach them to gloſs over their imperfections, inaſmuch as, I do think, an agreeable form, a very neceſsary introduction to ſociety, and of courſe it behoves us to render our appearance as pleaſing as poſsible: I would, I muſt repeat, by all means guard them againſt a low eſtimation of ſelf. I would leave no charm undiſcovered or unmarked, for the penetrating eye of the pretended admirer, to make unto himſelf a merit by holding up to her view; thus, I would deſtroy the weapons of flattery, or render them uſeleſs, by leaving not the leaſt room for their operation.
A young lady, growing up with the idea, that ſhe poſseſses few, or no perſonal attractions, and that her mental abilities are of an inferior kind, imbibing at the ſame time, a moſt melancholly idea of a female, deſcending down the vale of life in an unprotected ſtate; taught alſo to regard her character ridiculouſly contemptible, will, too probably, throw herſelf away upon the firſt who approaches her with tenders of love, however indifferent may be her chance for happineſs, leaſt if ſhe omits the preſent day of grace, ſhe may never be ſo happy as to meet a ſecond offer, and muſt then inevitably be ſtigmatized with that dreaded title, an Old Maid, muſt rank with a claſs whom ſhe has been accuſtomed to regard as burthens upon ſociety, and objects whom ſhe might with impunity turn into ridicule! Certainly love, friendſhip and eſteem, ought to take place of marriage, but, the woman thus circumſtanced, will ſeldom regard theſe previous requiſites to felicity, if ſhe can but inſure the honors, which ſhe, in idea, aſsociates with a matrimonial connection—to prevent which great evil, I would early impreſs under proper regulations, a reverence of ſelf; I would endeavour to rear to worth, and a conſciouſneſs thereof: I would be ſolicitous to inſpire the glow of virtue, with that elevation of ſoul, that dignity, which is ever attendant upon ſelf-approbation, ariſing from the genuine ſource of innate rectitude. I muſt be excuſed for thus inſiſting upon my hypotheſis, as I am, from obſervation, perſuaded, that many have ſuffered materially all their life long, from a depreſsion of ſoul, early inculcated, in complicance to a falſe maxim, which hath ſuppoſed pride would thereby be eradicated. I know there is a contrary extreme, and I would, in almoſt all caſes, prefer the happy medium. However, if theſe fugitive hints may induce ſome abler pen to improve thereon, the exemplification will give pleaſure to the heart of
Constantia.1784-10-22October 22, 1784.
The Publishers return their thanks to Conſtantia for her offered favors, and would take it kind if ſhe would ſend her Lucubrations early in the month.