The
Gentleman and Lady’s
Town and Country
Magazine:

Or,
Repository of Instruction and Entertainment.

For October, 17841784.

Boston:
Printed by Weeden and Barrett, at their Office
South-side State-House

excerpt250 pages 251

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;

INTERNAL ERROR. Please report to wwp@neu.edu that cb is unmatched.

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, 252
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 INTERNAL ERROR. Please report to wwp@neu.edu that cb is unmatched.
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 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 INTERNAL ERROR. Please report to wwp@neu.edu that cb is unmatched.
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.

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