Absent Daughters, in a
Printed by H. Hughs;
For J. Walter,
at Homer’s Head, Charing-Cross.
An Unfortunate Mother’s Advice, &c.
My dear Jenny.
Was there any probability that a letter from me would be permitted to reach your hand alone, I ſhould not have chosen this leaſt eligible method of writing to you.—The public iſ no way concerned in family affairs, and ought not to be made a party in A them; 6 A3v 6 them—but my circumſtances are ſuch as lay me under a neceſſity of either communicating my ſentiments to the world, or of concealing them from you; —the latter would, I think, be the breach of an indiſpenſable duty, which obliges me to wave the impropriety of the former.
A long train of events, of a moſt extraordinary nature, conſpired to remove you, very early, from the tender care of an affectionate mother;—you were then too young to be able to form any right judgment of her conduct, and ſince that time it is very probable that it has been repreſented to you in the most unfavorable light.――The general pre— 5 judice 5 7 A4r 7 judice againſt me I never gave myself the uſeleſs trouble of any endeavour to remove.――I do not mean to infer from hence that the opinion of others is of no material conſequence—on the contrary, I would adviſe you always to remember, that, next to the conſciouſneſs of acting right, the public voice ſhould be regarded, and to endeavour by a prudent behaviour—even in the moſt trifling inſtances—to ſecure it in your favour;— the being educated in a different opinion was a misfortune to me.—I was indeed early and wiſely taught, that virtue was the one thing neceſſary, and without it no happineſs could be expected either in this, or in any future ſtate of exiſtence;—but, with this good principle, a miſtaken one A4 was 8 A4v 8 was at the ſame time inculcated, namely, that the ſelf-approbation, ariſing from conſcious virtue, was alone ſufficient—and that the cenſures of an illnatured world, ever ready to calumniate, when not founded on truth, were beneath the concern of a perſon, whoſe actions were guided by the ſuperior motive of obedience to the will of Heaven: —This notion, ſtrongly imbibed before reaſon had gained ſufficient ſtrength to diſcover it’s fallacy, was the cauſe of an inconſiderate conduct in my ſubſequent life, which mark’d my character with a diſadvantageous impreſſion.—To you I ſhall ſpeak with the most unreſerv’d ſincerity, not concealing a fault which you may profit by the knowledge of—and therefore 9 A5r 9 therefore I freely own, that in my younger years, ſatisfied with keeping ſtrictly within the bounds of virtue, I took a fooliſh pleaſure in exceeding thoſe of prudence, and was ridiculouſly vain of indulging a latitude of behaviour, into which others of my age were afraid of launching;—but then, in juſtice to myſelf, I must at the same time declare, that this freedom was only taken in public company—and, ſo extremely cautious was I of doing any thing that appear’d to me a juſt ground for cenſure, I call Heaven to witneſs, your father was the firſt man whom I ever made any private aſſignation with, or even met in a room alone—nor did I take that liberty with him, untill the most ſolemn mutual engagement,gagement, 10 A5v 10 gagement, the matrimonial ceremony, had bound us together.—My behaviour then, he has frequently ſince acknowledg’d, fully convinced him I was not only innocent of any criminal act but of every vicious thought—and that the outward freedom of my deportment proceeded merely from a great gaiety of temper, and, from a very high flow of ſpirits, never broke—if the expreſſion may be allow’d—into the formal rules of decorum.——To ſum up the whole in a few words, my private conduct was what the ſeverest prude could not condemn, my public ſuch as the most finiſh’d coquet would have ventur’d upon;—the latter only could be known to the world, and, conſequently, from thence 11 A6r 11 thence muſt their opinion be taken. You will therefore eaſily be ſensible, that it would not be favourable to me—on the contrary, it gave a general prejudice againſt me—and this has been ſince made uſe of as an argument to gain credit to the malicious falſhoods laid to my charge:—For this reſson—convinc’d by long experience that the greater part of mankind are ſo apt to receive, and ſo willing to retain a bad impreſſion of others, that, when it is once eſtabliſh’d, there is hardly a poſſibility of removing it through life—I have, for ſome years paſt, ſilently acquiesc’d in the diſpenſations of Providence, without attempting any juſtification of myself;—and, being conſcious that the infamous aſperſions caſt on my 12 A6v 12 my character were not founded on truth, I have ſat down content with the certainty of an open and perfect acquittal of all vicious diſpoſitions, or criminal conduct, at that great day, when all things ſhall appear as they really are, and when both our actions, and the moſt ſecret motives for them, will be made manifeſt to men and angels.
Had your Father been amongſt the number of thoſe who were deceiv’d by appearances, I ſhould have thought it my duty to leave no method uneſſay’d to clear myſelf in his opinion—but that was not the caſe:—He knows that many of those appearances, which have been urged against me, I was forc’d to ſubmit to, 13 A7r 13 to, not only from his direction, but by his abſolute command—which, contrary to reaſon and to my own intereſt, I was, for more than twelve years, weak enough implicitly to obey—and that others, even ſince our ſeparation, were occasioned by ſome particular inſtances of his behaviour, which rendered it impoſſible for me to act with ſafety in any other manner:— to him I appeal for the truth of this aſſertion, who is conſcious of the meaning, which may hereafter be explained to you.—Perfectly acquainted with my principles and with my natural diſpoſition, his heart, I am convinc’d, never here condemn’d me.—Being greatly incens’d that my father’s Will gave to me an independent fortune—which Will 14 A7v 14 Will he imagin’d I was acceſſary to; or at leaſt that I could have prevented —he was thereby laid open to the arts of deſigning men, who, having their own intereſt ſolely in view, worked him up into a deſire of revenge—and from thence, upon probably circumſtances, into a public accuſation:—through that public accuſation was ſupported only by the ſingle teſtimony of a perſon, whoſe known falſhood had made him a thouſand times declare that he would not credit her oath in the moſt trifling incident;—yet—when he was diſappointed of the additional evidence he might have been flatter’d with the hope of obtaining —it was too late to recede.――This I ſincerely believe to be the truth of the caſe, 15 A8r 15 caſe, tho’ I too well know his tenacious temper, to expect a preſent juſtification;— but, whenever he ſhall arrive on the verge of eternity—if reaſon holds her place at that awful moment, and if religion has then any power on his heart—I make no doubt, he will at that time acquit me to his children, and with truth he muſt then confeſs that no part of my behaviour to him ever deſerv’d the treatment I have met with.――Sorry am I to be under the neceſſity of pointing out faults in the conduct of another, which are, perhaps, long ſince repented of, and ought in that caſe to be as much forgotten as they are moſt truly forgiven:—Heaven knows, that, ſo far from retaining any degree of reſentment in my heart, the perſon 16 A8v 16 perſon breathes not whom I wiſh to hurt, or to whom I would not this moment render every ſervice in my power.—The injuries which I have ſustain’d, had I no children, ſhould contentedly be buried in ſilence, until the great day of retribution; —but, in justice to you, to them, and to myself, it is incumbent on me, as far as poſſible, to efface the falſe impreſſions, which, by ſuch ſilence, might be fixed on your mind, and on thoſe of your brothers and ſiſters, whom I include with you.—To this end, it will be neceſſary to enter into a circumſtantial hiſtory of near fifteen years, full of incidents of a nature ſo uncommon as to be ſcarcely credible.—This, I am convinc’d, will effectually clear me, in your opinions, of 17 B1r 17 of the imputations I now lie under, and it will prove, almoſt to a demonſtration, the true cauſe of thoſe proceedings againſt me that were couched under pretended motives—as injurious to my reputation as they were falſe in themſelves.――But this muſt be deferr’d, ſome time longer—you are all yet too young to enter into things of this kind, or to judge properly of them.――When a few years ſhall, by ripening your underſtandings, remove this objection, you ſhall be informed of the whole truth, moſt impartially and without diſguiſe ――’till then, ſuſpend your belief of all that may have reached your ears with regard to me, and wait the knowledge B of 18 B1v 18 of thoſe facts, which my future letter will reveal for your information.
Thus much, I thought it neceſſary to premiſe concerning myſelf, tho’ foreign to the deſign of this epiſtle, which is only to remind you that you have ſtill an affectionate mother, who is anxious for your welfare and deſirous of giving you ſome advice with regard to your conduct in life.――I would lay down a few precepts for you, which, if attended to, will ſupply—as far as it is in my power to ſupply—the deprivation of a conſtant and tender maternal care.— The addreſs is to you in particular, your ſiſters being yet too young to receive it, but 19 B2r 19 but my intention is for the equal ſervice of you all.
You are juſt entering, my dear girl, into a world full of deceit and falſhood, where few perſons or things appear in their true character.—Vice hides her deformity with the borrow’d garb of virtue—and, though diſcernible to an intelligent and careful obſerver, by the unbecoming awkwardneſs of her deportment under it, she paſſes on thouſands undetected:—Every preſent pleaſure uſurps the name of happineſs, and as ſuch deceives the unwary purſuer:— thus one general mark diſguiſes the whole face of things, and it requires a long experience, and a penetrating judgment, to B2 diſcover 20 B2v 20 diſcover the truth—Thrice happy they, whoſe docile tempers improve from the inſtructions of maturer age, and who thereby attain ſome degree of this neceſſary knowledge, while it may be uſeful in directing their conduct!
The turn, which your mind may now take, will fix the happineſs or miſery of your future life—and, I am too nearly concern’d for your welfare, not to be moſt anxiouſly ſolicitous that you may be early led into ſo just a way of thinking as will be productive to you of a prudent, rational behaviour, and which will ſecure to you a laſting felicity.—You were old enough, before our ſeparation, to convince me that Heaven had not denied you 21 B3r 21 you a good natural underſtanding.— This, if properly cultivated, will ſet you above that trifling diſpoſition, too common among the female world, which makes youth ridiculous, maturity inſignificant, and old age contemptible.—It is therefore needleſs to enlarge on that head, ſince good ſenſe is the beſt adviſer—and, without it, all admonitions or directions on the ſubject would be as fruitleſs as to lay down rules for the conduct or for the actions of an idiot.
There is no room to doubt but that ſufficient care will be taken to give you a polite education—yet, a religious one is of ſtill greater consequence:—neceſſary as the former is for your making a B3 proper 22 B3v 22 proper figure in the world, and for your being well accepted in it, the latter is yet more ſo to ſecure to you the approbation of the greateſt and beſt of Beings, on whoſe favor depends your everlaſting happineſs:――Let therefore your duty to God be ever the firſt and principal object of your care;――as your Creator and Governor, he claims adoration and obedience—as your father and friend, he demands ſubmissive duty and affection. —Remember that, from this common Parent of the univerſe, you receiv’d your life—that, to His general providence, you owe the continuance of it—and to His bounty you are indebted for all the health, eaſe, advantages, or enjoyments, which help to make that life agreeable. 23 B4r 23 agreeable.—A ſense of benefits received naturally inſpires a grateful diſpoſition, with a deſire of making ſuitable returns —all that can here be made, for innumerable favors every moment beſtowed, is a thankful acknowledgment and a willing obedience;—in these be never wanting:—Make it an invariable rule to begin and to end the day with a ſolemn addreſs to the Deity—I mean not by this, what is commonly, with too much propriety, called ſaying of prayers, namely, a cuſtomary repetition of a few good words, without either devotion or attention—than which nothing is more inexcuſable and affrontive to the Deity—it is the homage of the heart that can alone be accepted by him.—Expreſſions B4 of 24 B4v 24 of our abſolute dependance on, and of our entire reſignation to him—thanksgivings for the mercies already received —petitions for thoſe bleſſings it is fit for us to pray for—and interceſſions for all our fellow creatures compoſe the principal parts of this duty;—which may be comprized in very few words, or may be enlarged upon, as the circumſtances of time and diſpoſition may render moſt ſuitable—for it is not the length, but the ſincerity and attention of our prayers, that will make them efficacious:—A good heart, joined to a tolerable underſtanding, will ſeldom be at a loſs for proper words, with which to clothe theſe ſentiments—and all perſons, being beſt acquainted with their own particular 25 B5r 25 particular circumſtances, may reaſonably be ſuppoſed beſt qualified for adapting their petitions and acknowledgments to them;—but for thoſe, who are of a different opinion, there are many excellent forms of prayer already compoſed— amongſt these, none, that I know of, are equal to Doctor Hoadly’s—the late Biſhop of Wincheſter—which I recommend to your peruſal and uſe:—in the preface to them, you will find better inſtructions on this head than I am capable of giving, and to theſe I refer you.
It is acknowledg’d that our petitions cannot in any degree alter the intention of a Being, who is in himſelf invariable, and without a poſſibility of change; —all 26 B5v 26 —all that can be expected from them is, that, by bettering ourſelves, they will render us more proper objects of His favorable regard:—and this muſt neceſſarily be the reſult of a ſerious, regular, and conſtant diſcharge of this branch of our duty;—for it is ſcarcely poſſible to offer up our ſincere and fervent devotions to Heaven, every morning and evening, without leaving on our minds ſuch uſeful impreſſions as will naturally diſpoſe us to a ready and chearful obedience and will inſpire a filial fear of offending—the beſt ſecurity virtue can have.—As you value your own happineſs, let not the force of bad examples ever lead you into an habitual diſuſe of ſecret prayer—nor let an unpardonable negligence 27 B6r 27 negligence ſo far prevail on you as to make you reſt ſatisfied with a formal, cuſtomary, inattentive repetition of ſome well choſen words—let your heart and attention always go with your lips, and, experience will ſoon convince you, that this permiſſion of addreſſing the ſupreme Being is the moſt valuable prerogative of human nature—the chief, nay, the only ſupport under all the diſtreſs and calamities to which this ſtate of ſin and miſery is liable――the higheſt rational ſatisfaction the mind is capable of, on this ſide of the grave—and the best preparative for everlaſting happineſs beyond it —This is a duty ever in your own power, and therefore you only will be culpable by the omiſſion of it:—Public worſhip 28 B6v 28 worſhip may not always be ſo, but, whenever it is, do not wilfully neglect the ſervice of the church, at leaſt on Sundays—and let your behaviour there be adapted to the ſolemnity of the place, and to the intention of the meeting―― Regard neither the actions, nor the dreſs of others—let not your eyes rove in ſearch of acquaintance, but in the time of divine ſervice avoid, as much as poſſible, all complimental civilities, of which there is too great an intercourſe, in moſt of our churches;—remember that your only buſineſs there is to pay a solemn act of devotion to Almighty God—and let every part of your conduct be ſuitable to this great end.――If you hear a good ſermon, treasure it in your memory, that you 29 B7r 29 you may reap all the benefit it was capable of imparting;――if you ſhould hear an indifferent one, ſome good things muſt be in it—retain thoſe, and let the remainder be buried in oblivion—ridicule not the preacher, who no doubt has done his beſt, and who is rather the object of pity than of contempt for having been plac’d in a ſituation of life, to which his talents were not equal—he may perhaps be a good man, tho’ he is not a great orator.――I would alſo recommend to you the early and frequent participation of the communion――or, what is commonly called, receiving the ſacrament—as the indiſpenſable duty of every chriſtian:――there is no inſtitution of our religion more ſimple, plain and intelligiblegible 30 B7v 30 gible than this as deliver’d to us by our Saviour—and, moſt of the elaborate treatiſes written on the ſubject have ſerved only to puzzle and to diſturb weak minds, by throwing the dark veil of ſuperſtition and of human invention over a plain positive command—given by him in ſo explicit a manner as to be eaſily comprehended by the meaneſt capacity, and which is doubtleſs in the power of all his ſincere followers to pay an acceptable obedience to.—Nothing has more contributed to the neglect of this duty than the numerous wellmeaning books that have been written to enjoin a month’s, or a week’s preparation as previouſly neceſſary to the due performance of it—by which means 31 B8r 31 means filling the minds of many with needleſs terror—putting it even out of the power of ſome to receive it at all— and, inducing great numbers to reſt ſatisfied with doing it only once or twice in a year, on ſome high festival;— whereas it was certainly the conſtant cuſtom of the apoſtles and primitive chriſtians, on every Sunday—and it ought to be received by us, as often as it is adminiſter’d in the church we frequent—which in moſt places is but once in a month;—nor do I think it excuſable, at any time, to turn our backs upon the table we ſee prepar’d for that purpoſe, on pretence of not being fit to partake worthily of it:—The beſt, the only true preparation for this, and for every other part 32 B8v 32 part of religious duty, it is a good and virtuous life, by which the mind is conſtantly kept in ſuch a devotional frame, as to require but a little recollection to be ſuited to any particular act of worſhip or of obedience, that may occaſionally offer;—and, without a good and virtuous life, there cannot be a greater, or more fatal miſtake than to ſuppoſe, that a few days, or weeks ſpent in humiliation and prayer will render us at all the more acceptable to the Deity, or that we ſhould be thereby better fitted for any one inſtance of that duty, which, we muſt univerſally pay, to be either approved by him, or to be advantageous to ourſelves:—I would not therefore adviſe you to read any of thoſe weekly 33 C1r 33 weekly preparatives, which are too apt to lead the mind into error, by teaching it to reſt in a mere ſhadow of piety, wherein there is nothing rationally ſatisfactory.—The beſt books, which I have ever met with on the subject, are Biſhop Hoadly’s Plain Account of the Nature and End of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, and Nelson’s Great Duty of frequenting the Chriſtian Sacrifice. —To the former are annexed the prayers which before I mention’d—theſe are well worth your attentive peruſal—the deſign of the inſtitution is therein fully explain’d, agreeable both to ſcripture and to reaſon—ſtript of that veil of myſtery, which has been induſtriouſly thrown over it by deſigning or by miſtaken men:— C and 34 C1v 34 and it is there laid as plainly open to every capacity as it was at firſt left us by our great Maſter――Read these books with due attention:—you will there find every neceſſary inſtruction concerning the rite, and every reaſonable inducement to the conſtant and to the conſcientious performance of it.
The ſincere practice of religious duties naturally leads to the proper diſcharge of the ſocial, which may be all comprehended in that one great general rule of doing unto others as you would they ſhould do unto you――but, of theſe, more particularly hereafter.—I ſhall give you my advice concerning Employment—it being of great moment to ſet out in life in 35 C2r 35 in ſuch a method as may be uſeful to yourſelf and beneficial to others.
Time is valuable, it’s loſs is irretrievable!—the remembrance of having made an ill uſe of it muſt be one of the ſharpeſt tortures to thoſe who are on the brink of eternity!—and, what can yield a more unpleaſing retroſpect, than whole years idled away in an irrational inſignificant manner—Examples of which are continually before our eyes!—Look on every day as a blank ſheet of paper put into your hands to be fill’d up;— remember the characters will remain to endleſs ages, and that they never can be expung’d;—be careful therefore not to write any thing but what you may read C2 with 36 C2v 36 with pleaſure, a thouſand years after:—I would not be underſtood in a ſenſe ſo ſtrict as might debar you from any innocent amusement, ſuitable to your age, and agreeable to your inclination:— diverſions, properly regulated, are not only allowable, they are absolutely neceſſary to youth—and are never criminal but when taken to exceſs—that is, when they engroſs the whole thought, when they are made the chief buſineſs of life— they then give a diſtaſte to every valuable employment—and, by a ſort of infatuation, leave the mind in a ſtate of reſtleſs impatience from the concluſion of one until the commencement of another;— This is the unfortunate diſpoſition of many:—guard moſt carefully againſt it, for 37 C3r 37 for nothing can be attended with more pernicious conſequences.—A little obſervation will convince you, that there is not, amongſt the human ſpecies, a ſet of more miſerable beings than thoſe who cannot live out of a conſtant ſucceſſion of diverſions;—theſe people have no comprehenſion of the more ſatisfactory pleaſure to be found in retirement;— thought is inſupportable, and conſequently ſolitude muſt be intolerable to them:—they are a burthen to themſelves, and are a peſt to their acquaintance, by vainly ſeeking for happineſs in company, where they are ſeldom acceptable—I ſay vainly, for true happineſs exiſts only in the mind, nothing foreign can give it:—The utmoſt to be attained, C3 by 38 C3v 38 by what is called a gay life, is a ſhort forgetfulneſs of miſery to be felt with accumulated anguiſh in every interval of reflection.—This reſtleſs temper is frequently the product of a too eager purſuit of pleasure, in the early part of life, to the neglect of thoſe valuable improvements which would lay the foundation of a more ſolid and permanent felicity.— Youth is the ſeaſon for diverſions, but it is also the ſeaſon for acquiring knowledge, for fixing uſeful habits, and for laying in a ſtock of ſuch well choſen materials, as may grow into a ſerene happineſs, which will encreaſe with every added year of life, and will bloom in the fullest perfection at the decline of it.— The great art of education conſiſts in aſſigning 39 C4r 39 aſſigning to each it’s proper place, in ſuch a manner that the one ſhall never become irkſome by intrenching on the other. —Our ſeparation having taken from me the pleaſing taſk of endeavouring, to the beſt of my ability, to ſuit them occaſionally, as might be most conducive both to your profit and pleaſure, it only remains for me to give you general rules, which indeed, accidents may make it neceſſary ſometimes to vary;—thoſe however muſt be left to your own diſcretion, and, I am convinc’d, that you have a ſufficient ſhare of underſtanding to be very capable of making advantageouſly ſuch caſual regulations to yourſelf, if the inclination is not wanting.C4 It 40 C4v 40
It is an excellent method to appropriate the morning wholly to improvement; —the afternoon may then be allow’d to diverſions:—under the laſt head, I place company, books of the amuſing kind, and entertaining productions of the needle, as well as plays, balls, cards, &c. which more commonly go by the name of diverſions:—the afternoon, and evening till ſupper, may by theſe be employed with innocence and propriety;—but let not one of them ever be ſuffer’d to intrude on the former part of the day, which ſhould be always devoted to more uſeful employments.—One half hour, or more, either before or immediately after breakfaſt, I would have you conſtantly give to the attentive peruſal of ſome rationally pious 41 C5r 41 pious author, or to ſome part of the New Teſtament, with which, and indeed with the whole ſcripture, you ought to make yourſelf perfectly acquainted, as the baſis on which your religion is founded— From this practice, you will reap more real benefit than can be ſuppos’d by thoſe who have never made the experiment.— The other hours may be divided amongſt thoſe neceſſary and polite acquiſitions which are ſuitable to your ſex, age, and to your rank in life.—Study your own language thoroughly, that you may ſpeak correctly and write grammatically:—do not content yourſelf with the common uſe of words, which cuſtom has taught you from the cradle, but learn from whence they are derived, and what are their 42 C5v 42 their proper ſignifications.—French you ought to be as well acquainted with as with Engliſh:—and Italian might, without much difficulty, be added.――Acquire a good knowledge of hiſtory— that of your own country firſt, then of the other European nations—read them not with a view to amuſe but to improve your mind—and to that end make reflections on what you have read, which may be uſeful to yourſelf, and will render your converſation agreeable to others: —Learn ſo much of Geography, as to form a juſt idea of the ſituation of places, mentioned in any author — and this will make hiſtory more entertaining to you.5 It 43 C6r 43
It is neceſſary for you to be perfect in the four firſt rules of Arithmetic— more, you can never have occaſion for, and the mind ſhould not be burthen’d with needleſs application.――Muſic and Drawing are accompliſhments well worth the trouble of attaining, if your inclination and genius lead to either—if not, do not attempt them;—for it will be only much time and great labor unprofitably thrown away—it being next to impoſſible to arrive at any degree of perfection in those arts, by the dint of perſeverance only, if a good ear, and a native genius be wanting.—The ſtudy of Natural Philoſophy, you will find both pleaſing and inſtructive—pleaſing from the continual new diſcoveries to be made of the innumerablymerably 44 C6v 44 merably various beauties of nature—a moſt agreeable gratification of that deſire of knowledge wiſely implanted in the human mind—and, highly inſtructive, as thoſe diſcoveries lead to the contemplation of the great Author of nature, whoſe wiſdom and goodneſs ſo conſpicuouſly ſhine through all His works, that it is impoſſible to reflect ſeriously on them, without admiration and gratitude.
Theſe, my dear, are but a few of thoſe mental improvements I would recommend to you—indeed there is no branch of knowledge that your capacity is equal to, and which you have an opportunity of acquiring, that, I think, ought to be neglected.—It has been objected against all 45 C7r 45 all female learning, beyond that of houſhold œconomy, that it tends only to fill the minds of the ſex with a conceited vanity, which ſets them above their proper buſineſs—occaſions an indifference to, if not a total neglect of, their family- affairs—and ſerves only to render them uſeleſs wives and impertinent companions.—It must be confeſs’d, that ſome reading ladies have given but too much cauſe for this objection;—and, could it be prov’d to hold good throughout the ſex, it would certainly be right to confine their improvements within the narrow limits of the nurſery, of the kichen, and the confectionary;—but, I believe, it will, upon examination, be found, that ſuch ill conſequences proceed chiefly 4 from 46 C7v 46 from too great an imbecillity of mind to be capable of much enlargement, or from a mere affectation of knowledge, void of all reality.—Vanity is never the reſult of underſtanding—a ſenſible woman will ſoon be convinc’d, that all the learning her utmoſt application can make her miſtreſs of, will be, from the difference of education, in many points, inferior to that of a ſchool-boy:—this reflection will keep her always humble, and will be an effectual check to that loquacity which renders ſome women ſuch inſupportable companions.
The management of all domeſtic affairs is certainly the proper buſineſs of woman—and, unfaſionably ruſtic as ſuch 47 C8r 47 ſuch an aſſertion may be thought, it is not beneath the dignity of any lady, however high her rank, to know how to educate her children, and to govern her ſervants—How to order an elegant table with œconomy, and to manage her whole family with prudence, regularity, and method;—if in theſe ſhe is defective, whatever may be her attainments in any other kinds of knowledge, ſhe will act out of character—and, by not moving in her proper ſphere, ſhe will become rather the object of ridicule than of approbation.—But, I believe, it may with truth be affirm’d, that the neglect of theſe domeſtic concerns has much more frequently proceeded from an exorbitant love of diverſions, from a ridiculous fondneſs 48 C8v 48 fondneſs for dreſs and gallantry, or from a miſtaken pride that has plac’d ſuch duties in a ſervile light—from whence they have been conſider’d as fit only for the employment of dependents, and below the attention of a fine lady—than from too great an attachment to mental improvements;—yet, from whatſoever cauſe ſuch a neglect proceeds, it is equally unjuſtifiable.――If any thing can be urg’d in vindication of a cuſtom— unknown to our anceſtors, which the prevalence of faſhion has made ſo general amongſt the modern ladies—I mean, that of committing to the care and diſcretionary power of different ſervants the ſole management of their family- affairs—nothing certainly can be alleg’d in 49 D1r 49 in defence of ſuch an ignorance, in things of this nature, as renders a lady incapable of giving proper directions on all occaſions—an ignorance, which, in ever ſo exalted a ſtation, will render her contemptible, even to thoſe ſervants on whoſe underſtanding and fidelity ſhe indeed becomes dependent for the regularity of her houſe, for the propriety, elegance, and frugality of her table— which laſt article is ſeldom regarded by ſuch ſort of people, who too frequently impoſe on thoſe by whom they are thus implicitly truſted.—Make yourſelf, therefore, ſo thoroughly acquainted with the moſt proper method of conducting a family, and with the neceſſary expence which every article, in proportion to their D number 50 D1v 50 number, will occaſion, that you may come to a reaſonable certainty of not being materially deceiv’d, without the ridiculous drudgery of following your ſervants continually, and meanly peeping into every obſcure corner of your houſe;— nor, is this at all difficult to attain, as it requires nothing more than an attentive obſervation.
It is of late, in moſt great families, become too much the cuſtom to be long upon the books of every tradeſman they employ—to aſſign a reason for this is foreign to my purpoſe;—but, I am certain it would, in general, be better both for themſelves, and for the people they deal with, never to be on them at all: —and, 51 D2r 51 —and, what difficulty or inconvenience can ariſe, in a well regulated family, from commiſſioning the ſteward or houſekeeper to pay for every thing at the time when it is brought in?—This obſolete practice —though in itſelf very laudable—is not at preſent, and perhaps never may be again, authoris’d by faſhion;—however, let it be a rule with you to contract as few debts as poſſible;—moſt things are to be purchaſed, both better in their kind, and at a lower price, by paying for them at the time of puchaſing;—but if, to avoid the ſuppos’d trouble of frequent trifling diſburſements, you chuſe to have the leſſer articles thrown together in a bill, let a note of quantity and price be brought with every ſuch parcel;—file theſe notes, D2 compare 52 D2v 52 compare them with the bill when deliver’d in, and let ſuch bills be regularly paid every quarter:—for it is not reaſonable to expect that a tradeſman ſhould give longer credit, without making up the intereſt of his money by an advanc’d price on what he ſells:—and, be aſſur’d, if you find it inconvenient to pay at the end of three months, that inconvenience muſt ariſe from living at too great an expence, and will conſequently grow ſtill greater at the end of the year.—By making ſhort payments, you will become the ſooner ſenſible of ſuch a miſtake, and you will find it at firſt more eaſy to retrench any ſupernumeraries than after having been long habituated to them. If 53 D3r 53 If your houſe is ſuperintended by an houſekeeper, and your ſervants are accountable to her, let your houſekeeper be accountable to yourſelf, and let her be entirely govern’d by your directions—carefully examine her bills, and ſuffer no extravagencies or unneceſſary articles to paſs unnoticed;—let theſe bills be brought to you every morning, what they contain will then be eaſily recollected without burthening your memory;—your accounts being ſhort will be adjusted with leſs trouble and with more exactneſs.—Should you at any time have an upper ſervant, whoſe family and education were ſuperior to that ſtate of ſubjection, to which ſucceeding misfortunes may have reduced her, ſhe ought D3 to 54 D3v 54 to be treated with peculiar indulgence:— if ſhe has underſtanding enough to be converſable, and humility enough always to keep her proper diſtance, leſſen, as much as poſſible, every painful remembrance of former proſpects, by looking on her as a humble friend, and by making her an occaſional companion;—but never deſcend to converſe with thoſe whoſe birth, education, and early views in life, were not ſuperior to a ſtate of ſervitude—their minds being in general ſuited to their ſtation, they are apt to be intoxicated by any degree of familiarity, and to be become uſeleſs and impertinent.—The habit, which very many ladies have contracted of talking to and conſulting with their women, has ſo ſpoil’d that ſet of ſervants,vants, 55 D4r 55 vants, that few of them are to be met with, who do not commence their ſervice, by giving their unaſk’d opinion of your perſon, dreſs, or management, artfully convey’d in the too generally accepted vehicle of flattery—and, if they are allowed in this, they will next proceed to offer their advice on any occaſion that may happen to diſcompoſe, or ruffle your temper—check therefore the firſt appearance of ſuch impertinence, by a reprimand ſufficiently ſevere to prevent a repetition of it.
Give your orders in a plain diſtinct manner, with good-nature, join’d to a ſteadineſs that will ſhew they muſt be punctually obey’d;—treat all your domeſticsD4 meſtics 56 D4v 56 meſtics with ſuch mildneſs and affability, that you may be ſerved rather out of affection than from fear;—let them live happily under you;—give them leiſure for their own busineſs, time for innocent recreation, and more eſpecially for attending the public ſervice of the church, to be inſtructed in their duty to God—without which, you have no right to expect the diſcharge of that owing to yourſelf.— When wrong, tell them calmly of their faults;—if they amend not after two or three ſuch rebukes, dismiſs them—but never deſcend to paſſion and ſcolding, which are inconſiſtent with a good underſtanding, and beneath the dignity of a gentlewoman.—Be very exact in your hours, without which there can be no order 57 D5r 57 order in your family. I mean thoſe of riſing, eating, &c.—Require from your ſervants punctuality in these, and never be yourself the cause of breaking through the rules you have laid down, by deferring breakfast, putting back the dinner, or by letting it grow cold on the table, to wait your dreſſing—a cuſtom from which many ladies introduce confuſion, and bring their orders into neglect—Be always dreſs’d, at least, half an hour before dinner.—Having mention’d this important article, I muſt be allow’d a little digreſſion on the subject.
Whatever time is taken up in dreſs, beyond what is neceſſary to decency and cleanlineſs, may be look’d upon—to ſay no 58 D5v 58 no worſe—as a vacuum in life:—By decency, I mean ſuch a habit as is ſuitable to your rank and fortune—an illplaced finery, inconſiſtent with either, is not ornamental, but ridiculous:—A compliance with faſhion, so far as to avoid the affectation of ſingularity, is neceſſary—but to run into the extreme of faſhions, more eſpecially thoſe which are inconvenient, is the certain proof of a weak mind:—have a better opinion of yourſelf than to ſuppoſe you can receive any additional merit from the adventitious ornaments of dreſs;—leave the ſtudy of the toilet to thoſe who are adapted to it—I mean that inſignificant ſet of females, whoſe whole life, from the cradle to the coffin, is only a varied ſcene of 6 trifling, 59 D6r 59 trifling, and whoſe intellectuals fit them not for any thing beyond it:—ſuch as theſe may be allowed to paſs whole mornings at their looking-glaſs, in the important buſineſs of ſuiting a ſet of ribbons, adjuſting a few curls, or determining the poſition of a patch—one, perhaps, of their moſt innocent ways of idling —but, let as ſmall a portion of your time as poſſible be taken up in dreſſing—be always perfectly clean and neat, both in your perſon and clothes—equally ſo when alone, as in company;—look upon all beyond this, as immaterial in itſelf, any farther than as the different ranks of mankind have made some diſtinction in habit, generally eſteem’d neceſſary;—and, remember, that it is never the dreſs, howeverever 60 D6v 60 ever ſumptuous, which reflects dignity and honour on the perſon—it is the rank and merit of the perſon that gives conſequence to the dreſs.—But to return—
It is your own ſteadineſs and example of regularity that alone can preſerve uninterrupted order in your family;—if, by forgetfulneſs or inattention, you at any time ſuffer your commands to be diſobey’d with impunity, your ſervants will grow upon ſuch neglect into a habit of careleſsneſs, until repeated faults—of which this is properly the ſource—rouſe you into anger, which an even hand would never have made neceſſary.—Be not whimſical or capricious in your likings—approve with judgment, and condemn 61 D7r 61 condemn with reaſon, that acting right may be as certainly the means of obtaining your favor as the contrary of incurring your diſpleaſure ,.
From what has been ſaid, you will ſee, that, in order to the proper diſcharge of your domeſtic duties, it is abſolutely neceſſary for you to have a perfect knowledge of every branch of houſehold œconomy, without which you can neither correct what is wrong, approve what is right, nor give directions with propriety: —it is the want of this knowledge that reduces many fine lady’s family to a ſtate of utmoſt confuſion and diſorder, on the ſudden removal of a managing ſervant, until the place is ſupplied by a ſuc- 62 D7v 62 a ſucceſſor of equal ability.—How much out of character, how ridiculous muſt a miſtreſs of a family appear, who is entirely incapable of giving practical orders on ſuch an occaſion—let that never be your caſe!—Remember, my dear, this is the only proper temporal buſineſs aſſign’d you by Providence, and in a thing ſo indiſpenſably needful, ſo eaſily attain’d —where ſo little ſtudy or application is neceſſary to arrive at the moſt commendable degree of it—the want even of perfection is almost inexcuſable;—make yourself miſtreſs of the theory, that you may be able, the more readily to reduce it into practice:—when you have a family to command, let the care of it always employ your principal attention, and 63 D8r 63 and let every part of it be ſubjected to your own inſpection.—If you riſe early —a cuſtom, I hope, you have not left off ſince you was with me—if you waſte no unneceſſary time in dreſſing, and if you conduct your houſe in a regular method—you will find many vacant hours unfilled by this material buſineſs, and no objection can be made to your employing thoſe in ſuch improvements of the mind as are moſt ſuitable to your genius and inclination. —I believe no man of underſtanding will think that, under ſuch regulations, a woman will either make a leſs agreeable companion, a leſs uſeful wife, a leſs careful mother, or a worſe miſtreſs of 64 D8v 64 of a family, for all the additional knowledge her induſtry and application can acquire.
The morning being always thus advantageously engag’d, the latter part of the day, as I before ſaid, may be given to relaxation and amuſement— ſome of theſe hours may be very agreeably, and uſefully employed by entertaining books—a few of which, in the Engliſh language, I will mention to you, as a ſpecimen of the kind I would recommend to your peruſal, and I ſhall include ſome others religious and inſtructive.—Maſon 65 E1r 65
- on Self Knowledge
- Œconomy of Human Life
- Belles Lettres
- Nature Diſplay’d
- The Spectator
- The Guardian
- The Female Spectator
- The Rambler
- The Adventurer
- The World
- Familiar Letters
- Epiſtles for the Ladies
- The Vicar of Wakefield
- Geographical Grammar
- Antiquities of Greece
- Antcient Hiſtory
- Antiquities of Rome
- Roman Hiſtory
- History of England
- Hiſtory of Scotland
- Poetical Works
- Ethic Epiſtles
- Fables for the Female Sex
- Tales of the Genii
- Collection of Poems
From theſe you may form a judgment of that ſort of reading, which will be both uſeful and entertaining to you.—I have nam’d only thoſe Practical Sermons, which, I thought, would more directly influence your conduct in life—Our rule of faith should be taken from the ſcripture alone, which we muſt underſtand for ourſelves;—therefore, the controverted opinions of others ſerve in general rather to puzzle than to improve the mind.
Novels and Romances, very few of them are worth the trouble of reading;— ſome of them perhaps do contain a few good morals, but they are not worth the finding where ſo much rubbiſh is intermix’d――Their moral parts indeed are like 67 E2r 67 like ſmall diamonds amongſt mountains of dirt and traſh, which, after you have found them, are too inconſiderable to anſwer the pains of coming at; yet, ridiculous as theſe fictitious tales generally are, they are ſo artfully managed as to excite an idle curioſity to ſee the concluſion, by which means the reader is drawn on, through a tireſome length of fooliſh adventures, from which either knowledge, pleaſure, or profit, ſeldom can accrue, to the common cataſtrophe of a wedding.—The moſt I have met with of theſe writings, to ſay no worſe, it is little better than the loſs of time to peruſe—but ſome of them have more pernicious conſequences;—by drawing characters that never exiſt in life, by repreſentingE2 preſenting 68 E2v 68 preſenting perſons and things in a falſe and extravagant light, and by a ſeries of improbable cauſes bringing on impoſſible events, they are apt to give a romantic turn to the mind, which is often productive of great errors in judgment, and of fatal miſtakes in conduct—of this I have ſeen frequent inſtances, and therefore adviſe you ſcarce ever to meddle with any of them.
In juſtice however to a late ingenious author, this letter muſt not be reprinted, without my acknowledging that, ſince the laſt edition was publiſh’d, I have accidentally met with one exception to my general rule, namely, The Vicar of Wakefield— That novel is equally entertainingtaining 69 E3r 69 taining and inſtructive, without being liable to any of the objections that occaſioned the above reſtriction.—This poſſibly may not be the only unexceptionable piece of the kind, but, as I have not met with any other, amongſt a number I have peruſ’d, a ſingle inſtance does not alter my opinion of the ſort of writing—and, I ſtill think, the chance is perhaps a thouſand to one againſt the probability of obtaining the ſmalleſt degree of advantage from the reading any of them, as well as that, very few are to be found, from which much injury may not be receiv’d.
Works of the Needle that employ the fancy may, if they ſuit your inclination,E3 nation 70 E3v 70 nation, be ſometimes a pretty amuſement;—but, let this employment never extend to large pieces, beyond what can be accompliſh’d by yourself without aſſiſtance.—There is not a greater extravagance, under the ſpecious name of good houſewifery, than the furniſhing of houſes in this manner—whole apartments have been ſeen thus ornamented by the ſuppos’d work of a lady, who, perhaps, never ſhaded two leaves in the artificial foreſt, but has paid four times it’s value to the ſeveral people employed in bringing it to perfection:—The expence of theſe tedious pieces of work, I ſpeak of experimentally—having, many years paſt, undertaken one of them which, when finiſh’d, was not worth fifteenteen 71 E4r 71 teen pounds—and, by a computation ſince made, it did not coſt leſs than fifty, in the hire and maintenance of the people employed in it:—this indeed was at the age of ſeventeen—when the thoughtleſs inexperience of youth could alone excuſe ſuch a piece of folly.—Embroideries in gold, ſilver, or ſhades of ſilk, come within a narrower compaſs;—works of that kind, which may, without calling in expenſive aſſiſtance, or tiring the fancy, be finiſhed in a ſummer, will be a well-choſen change of amuſement, and may—as there are three of you—be made much more agreeable by one alternately reading aloud, while the other two are thus employed.—All kinds of what is called plain work—tho’ no very polite accompliſhment—you must be ſo E4 well 72 E4v 72 well vers’d in, as to be able, to cut out, make, or mend, your own linen:—ſome fathers, and ſome huſbands, chuſe to have their daughters, and their wives thus attired in the labor of their own hands—and, from a miſtaken notion, believe this to be the great criterion of frugal œconomy;—where that happens to be the inclination, or opinion of either, it ought always to be readily complied with:—but, excluſive of ſuch a motive, I ſee no other that makes the practical part neceſſary to any lady—excepting, indeed, where there is ſuch a narrowneſs of fortune as admits not conveniently the keeping a ſervant, to whom ſuch exerciſes of the needle much more properly appertain. The 73 E5r 73 The Theatre, which, by the indefatigable labor of the inimitable Mr. Garrick, has been brought to very great perfection, will afford you an equally rational and improving entertainment:— Your judgment will not now be call’d in queſtion, your underſtanding affronted, nor will your modeſty be offended by the indecent ribaldry of thoſe authors, who, to their defect in wit, have added the want of good ſenſe and of good manners: —Faults of this kind—that, from a blameable compliance with a corrupted taſte, have ſometimes crept into the works of good writers—are, by his prudent direction, generally rectified or omitted on the ſtage;—you may now ſee many of the beſt plays performed in the beſt 74 E5v 74 beſt manner:—do not, however, go to any that you have not before heard the character of—be preſent only at those, which are approved by perſons of underſtanding and virtue, as calculated to anſwer the proper ends of the theatre, namely, that of conveying inſtruction in the moſt pleaſing method:――Attend to the ſentiment, apply the moral, and then you cannot, I think, paſs an evening in a more uſeful, or in a more entertaining diverſion.
Dancing may alſo take it’s turn as a healthful exerciſe, and as it is generally ſuitable to the taſte and gaiety of young minds.Part 75 E6r 75
Part of the hours appropriated to relaxation muſt of neceſſity be leſs agreeably taken up in the paying and receiving viſits of mere ceremony and civility—a tribute, by cuſtom authoris’d, by good manners enjoin’d:—in theſe, when the converſation is only inſignificant, join in it with an apparent ſatisfaction;—talk of the elegance of a birth-day ſuit, the pattern of a lace, the judicious aſſortment of jewels, the cut of a ruffle, or the ſet of a ſleeve, with an unaffected eaſe— not according to the rank they hold in your eſtimation, but proportion’d to the conſequence they may be of in the opinion of thoſe you are converſing with.— The great art of pleaſing is to appear pleas’d with others;—ſuffer not then an ill- 76 E6v 76 ill-bred abſence of thought, or a contemptuous ſneer, ever to betray a conſcious ſuperiority of underſtanding—always be productive of ill-nature and diſlike; —ſuit yourſelf to the capacity and to the taſte of your company, when that taſte is confin’d to harmleſs trifles—but, where it is ſo far deprav’d as to delight in cruel ſarcaſms on the abſent, to be pleas’d with diſcovering the blemiſhes in good character, or in repeating the greater faults of a bad one, religion and humanity in that caſe forbid the leaſt degree of aſſent; —if you have not any knowledge of the perſons thus unhappily ſacrificed to envy or to malice, and conſequently are ignorant as to the truth or falſhood of ſuch aſperſions, always ſuspect them to be ill- grounded, 77 E7r 77 grounded, or, at leaſt, greatly exaggerated;—ſhew your diſapprobation by a ſilent gravity, and by taking the firſt opportunity to change the ſubject—but, where any acquaintance with the character in queſtion gives room for defending it, let not an ill-tim’d complaiſance prevail over juſtice—vindicate injur’d innocence with all the freedom and warmth of an unreſtrain’d benevolence —and, where the faults of the guilty will admit of palliation, urge all that truth can allow, in mitigation of error: —From this method—beſides the pleaſure arising from the conſciouſneſs of a ſtrict conformity to the great rule of doing as you would be done by—you will alſo reap to yourſelf the benefit of being leſs 78 E7v 78 leſs frequently peſter’d with themes ever painful to a humane diſpoſition.—If, unfortunately, you have ſome acquaintance, whoſe malevolence of heart, no ſentiment of virtue, no check of good manners, can reſtrain from theſe malicious ſallies of ill-nature—to them let your viſits be made as ſeldom, and as ſhort, as decency will permit—there being neither benefit nor ſatisfaction to be found in ſuch company, amongst whom only cards may be introduced with any advantage:—on this account, it will be proper for you to know how to play at the games moſt in uſe, becauſe it is an argument of great folly to engage in any thing without doing it well—but this is a diverſion, which I hope you will have no fondneſs for 79 E8r 79 for—as it is in itſelf, to say no worſe, a very inſignificant amuſement.
With Perſons, for whom you can have no eſteem, good-breeding may oblige you to keep up an intercourſe of ceremonious viſits—but politeneſs enjoins not the length or frequency of them;— here inclination may be follow’d without a breach of civility:—there is no tax upon intimacy, but from choice— that choice ſhould ever be founded on merit, the certainty whereof you cannot be too careful in previouſly examining—and great caution is neceſſary not to be deceiv’d by ſpecious appearances;――a plauſible behaviour, often, upon a ſuperficial knowledge, creates a 4 prepoſſeſ- 80 E8v 80 prepoſſeſſion in favor of Particulars, who, upon a nearer view, may be found to have no claim to eſteem;—the forming a precipitant judgment ſometimes leads into an unwary intimacy, which it may prove abſolutely neceſſary to break off, and yet that breach may be attended with innumerable inconveniences—nay, perhaps, with very material and laſting ill conſequences:—Prudence, therefore, here enjoins the greateſt circumſpection. —Few people are capable of friendſhip, and ſtill fewer have all the qualifications one would chuſe in a friend;— the fundamental point is a virtuous diſpoſition—but, to that ſhould be added, a good underſtanding, ſolid judgment, ſweetneſs of temper, ſteadineſs of mind, freedom 81 F1r 81 freedom of behaviour, and ſincerity of heart;—ſeldom as theſe are to be found united, never make a boſom friend of any one greatly deficient in either.—Be ſlow in contracting friendship, and invariably conſtant in maintaining it:— Expect not many friends, but think yourſelf happy, if, through life, you meet with one or two who deſerve that name and have all the requiſites for the valuable relation:—This may juſtly be deem’d the higheſt bleſſing of mortality; ――uninterrupted health has the general voice—but, in my opinion, ſuch an intercourſe of friendship as much deſerves the preference, as the mental pleaſures, both in nature and degree, exceed the corporeal:—The weakneſſes, F the 82 F1v 82 the pains of the body may be inexpreſſibly alleviated by the converſation of a perſon, by affection endear’d, by reaſon approv’d—whoſe tender ſympathy partakes your afflictions and ſhares your enjoyments—who is ſteady in the correction but mild in the reproof of your faults—like a guardian angel, ever watchful to warn you of unforeſeen danger, and, by timely admonitions, to prevent the miſtakes incident to human frailty and to ſelf-partiality:――This is the true office of friendſhip:—With ſuch a friend, no ſtate of life can be abſolutely unhappy;—but, deſtitute of ſome ſuch connection, Heaven has ſo form’d our natures for this intimate ſociety, that, amidſt the affluence of fortune, 83 F2r 83 fortune, and in the flow of uninterrupted health, there will be an aching void in the ſolitary breast, which can never otherwiſe know a plentitude of happineſs. —Should the Supreme Diſpoſer of all events beſtow on you this ſuperlative gift—to ſuch a friend, let your heart be ever unreſervedly open;—conceal no ſecret thought—diſguiſe no latent weakneſs—but bare your boſom to the faithful probe of honeſt friendſhip, and ſhrink not, if it ſmarts beneath the touch;— nor, with tenacious pride diſlike the perſon that freely dares to condemn ſome favourite foible—but, ever open to conviction, hear with attention, and receive with gratitude, the kind reproof that flows from tenderneſs:――When ſenſibleF2 ſible 84 F2v 84 ſible of a fault, be ingenuous in the confeſſion—be ſincere and ſteady in the correction of it.
Happy is her lot, who, in a huſband, finds this invaluable friend!—Yet, ſo great is the hazard, ſo diſproportioned the chances, that I could almoſt wiſh the dangerous die was never to be thrown for any of you!—But, as probably it may, let me conjure ye all, my dear girls, if ever any of you take this moſt important ſtep in life, to proceed with the utmoſt care and with deliberate circumſpection. —Fortune and Family it is the ſole province of your father to direct in—he certainly has always an undoubted right to a negative voice, though not to a compulſive6 pulſive 85 F3r 85 pulſive one:—as a child is very juſtifiable in the refuſal of her hand, even to the absolute command of a father, where her heart cannot go with it—ſo is ſhe extremely culpable, in giving it contrary to his approbation:—Here, I muſt take ſhame to myſelf!—And, for this unpardonable fault, I do juſtly acknowledge that the ſubſequent ill conſequences of a moſt unhappy marriage were the proper puniſhment:—This, and every other error in my own conduct, I do, and ſhall, with the utmoſt candor, lay open to you, ſincerely praying that you may reap the benefit of my experience, and that you may avoid thoſe rocks, on which, either by careleſsneſs or ſometimes, F3 alas, 86 F3v 86 alas, by too much caution, I have been wreck’d!—But to return.—
The chief point to be regarded, in the choice of a companion for life, is a really virtuous principle—an unaffected goodneſs of heart;—without this, you will be continually ſhock’d by indecency, and pain’d by impiety.—So numerous have been the unhappy victims to the ridiculous opinion—A reform’d libertine makes the beſt huſband—that, did not experience daily evince the contrary, one would believe it impoſſible for a girl, who has a tolerable degree of common underſtanding, to be made the dupe of ſo erroneous a poſition, which has not the least ſhadow of reaſon for it’s foundation,dation, 87 F4r 87 dation, and which a ſmall ſhare of obſervation will prove to be falſe in fact.— A man, who has been long converſant with the worſt ſort of women, is very apt to contract a bad opinion of and a contempt for the ſex in general;—incapable of eſteeming any, he is ſuſpicious of all;—jealous without cauſe, angry without provocation—and his own diſturb’d imagination is a continual ſource of ill humour:—to this is frequently join’d a bad habit of body, the natural conſequence of an irregular life, which gives an additional ſourneſs to the temper:—What rational proſpect of happineſs can there be with ſuch a companion? —And, that this is the general character of thoſe who are called reformed rakes, F4 88 F4v 88 rakes, obſervation will certify;—but, admit there may be ſome exceptions, it is a hazard upon which no conſiderate woman would venture the peace of her whole future life.—The vanity of thoſe girls, who believe themſelves capable of working miracles of this kind, and who give up their perſons to men of libertine principles, upon the wild expectation of reclaiming them, juſtly deſerves the diſappointment, which it will generally meet with;—for, believe me, a wife is, of all perſons, the leaſt likely to ſucceed in ſuch an attempt.――Be it your care to find that virtue in a lover which you muſt never hope to form in a huſband.— Good Senſe and Good Nature are almoſt equally requiſite;—if the former is wanting, 89 F5r 89 wanting, it will be next to impoſſible for you to eſteem the perſon of whoſe behaviour you may have cause to be aſham’d—and mutual eſteem is as neceſſary to happineſs in the married ſtate as mutual affection;—without the latter every day will bring with it ſome freſh cauſe of vexation—until repeated quarrels produce a coldneſs, which will ſettle into an irreconcileable averſion, and you will become, not only each other’s torment, but the object of contempt to your family and to your acquaintance.
This quality of Good Nature is, of all others, the moſt difficult to be aſcertain’d, on account of the general miſtake of blending it with Good Humour, as if they 90 F5v 90 they were in themſelves the ſame— whereas, in fact, no two principles of action are more eſſentially different— and this may require ſome explanation. ――By Good Nature, I mean, that true benevolence which partakes the felicity of all mankind, which promotes the ſatisfaction of every individual within the reach of its ability, which relieves the diſtreſſed, comforts the afflicted, diffuſes bleſſings, and communicates happineſs, far as it’s ſphere of action can extend— and which, in the private ſcenes of life, will ſhine conſpicuous in the dutiful ſon, in the affectionate huſband, the indulgent father, the faithful friend, and in the compaſſionate maſter both to man and beaſt: —whilſt Good Humour is nothing more 1 than 91 F6r 91 than a cheerful, pleaſing deportment—ariſing either from a natural gaiety of mind, or from an affectation of popularity—join’d to an affability of behaviour, the reſult of good breeding—and from a ready compliance with the taſte of every company: —This kind of mere good humour is, by far, the moſt ſtriking quality;—it is frequently miſtaken for and complimented with the ſuperior name of real good nature—a man, by this ſpecious appearance, has often acquir’d that appellation, who, in all the actions of his private life, has been a moroſe, cruel, revengeful, ſullen, haughty tyrant―― On the contrary, a man of a truly benevolent diſpoſition, and form’d to promotemote 92 F6v 92 mote the happineſs of all around him, may ſometimes, perhaps, from an ill habit of body, an accidental vexation, or from a commendable openneſs of heart, above the meanneſs of diſguiſe, be guilty of little ſallies of peeviſhneſs, or of ill humour, which, carrying the appearance of ill nature, may be unjuſtly thought to proceed from it, by perſons who are unacquainted with his true character, and who take ill humour and ill nature to be ſynonimous terms—though in reality they bear not the leaſt analogy to each other.—In order to the forming a right judgment, it is abſolutely neceſſary to obſerve this diſtinction, which will effectually ſecure you from the dangerous error of taking the 93 F7r 93 the ſhadow for the ſubſtance—an irretrievable miſtake, pregnant with innumerable conſequent evils!
From what has been ſaid, it plainly appears that the criterion of this amiable virtue is not to be taken from the general opinion—mere good humuor being, to all intents and purpoſes, ſufficient, in this particular, to eſtabliſh the public voice in favour of a man utterly devoid of every humane and benevolent affection of heart.—It is only from the leſs conſpicuous ſcenes of life, the more retir’d ſphere of action, from the artleſs tenor of domeſtic conduct, that the real character can, with any certainty, be drawn—theſe undiſguiſed proclaim the man;— 94 F7v 94 man;—but, as they ſhun the glare of light—nor court the noiſe of popular applauſe—they paſs unnoted, and are ſeldom known ’till after an intimate acquaintance:—the beſt method, therefore, to avoid the deception in this caſe, is to lay no ſtreſs on outward appearances, which are too often fallacious, but to take the rule of judging from the ſimple unpoliſhed ſentiments of thoſe, whoſe dependent connections give them an undeniable certainty—who not only ſee, but who hourly feel, the good or bad effects of that diſpoſition, to which they are ſubjected.—By this, I mean, that if a man is equally reſpected, eſteem’d, and belov’d by his tenants, by his dependents and domeſtics—from the ſubſtantial farmermer 95 F8r 95 mer to the laborious peſant, from the proud ſteward to the ſubmiſſive wretch, who, thankful for employment, humbly obeys the menial tribe—you may juſtly conclude, he has that true good nature, that real benevolence, which delights in communicating felicity and enjoys the ſatisfaction it diffuſes;—but if, by theſe, he is deſpis’d and hated, ſerv’d merely from a principle of fear, devoid of affection—which is very eaſily diſcoverable— whatever may be his public character, however favourable the general opinion, be aſſur’d, that his diſpoſition is ſuch as can never be productive of domeſtic happineſs.—I have been the more particular on this head, as it is one of the moſt eſſential qualifications to be regarded, and 96 F8v 96 and of all others the moſt liable to be miſtaken.
Never be prevail’d with, my dear, to give your hand to a perſon defective in theſe material points: —ſecure of virtue, of good nature, and underſtanding, in a huſband, you may be ſecure of happineſs; —without the two former it is unattainable—without the latter, in a tolrable degree, it muſt be very imperfect.
Remember, however, that infallibility is not the property of man, or you may entail diſappointment on yourſelf, by expecting what is never to be found;— the beſt men are ſometimes inconſiſtent with themſelves:—They are liable to be hurried 97 G1r 97 hurried, by ſudden ſtarts of paſſion, into expreſſions and actions, which their cooler reaſon will condemn;—they may have ſome oddities of behaviour, ſome peculiarities of temper;—they may be ſubject so accidental ill humour, or to whimſical complaints:—blemiſhes of this kind often ſhade the brighteſt character, but they are never deſtructive of mutual felicity, unleſs when they are made ſo by an improper reſentment, or by an ill-judg’d oppoſition.—Reaſon can never be hear’d by paſſion—the offer of it tends only to enflame the more;— when cool’d, and in his uſual temper, the man of underſtanding, if he has been wrong, will ſuggest to himſelf all that could be urged againſt him;—the G man 98 G1v 98 man of good-nature will, unupbraided, own his error—immediate contradiction is, therefore, wholly unſerviceable, and highly imprudent—and after repetition, equally unneceſſary, and injudicious.— Any peculiarities in the temper or behaviour ought to be properly repreſented in the tendereſt and in the moſt friendly manner—and, if the repreſentation of them is made diſcreetly, it will generally be well taken;—but, if they are ſo habitual as not eaſily to be altered, ſtrike not too often upon the unharmonious ſtring—rather let them paſs as unobſerved:—ſuch a chearful compliance will better cement your union—and, they may be made eaſy to yourſelf, by reflecting on the ſuperior good qualities, by which 99 G2r 99 which theſe trifling faults are ſo greatly over-balanced.—You muſt remember, my dear, theſe rules are laid down, on the ſuppoſition of your being united to a perſon who poſſeſſes the three eſſential qualifications for happineſs before mentioned;— in this caſe, no farther direction is neceſſary but that you ſtrictly perform the duty of a wife, namely, to love, to honor, and obey—the two firſt articles are a tribute ſo indiſpenſably due to merit that they muſt be paid by inclination— and they naturally lead to the performance of the laſt, which will not only be an eaſy, but a pleaſing talk—ſince nothing can ever be enjoin’d, by ſuch a perſon, that is in itſelf improper, and few things will, that can, with any G2 reaſon, 100 G2v 100 reaſon, be diſagreeable to you.—Here, ſhould this ſubject end, were it not more than poſſible for you, after all that has been urged, to be led, by ſome inferior motive, to the neglect of the primary caution— and that, either from an opinion too haſtily entertain’d, from an unaccountable partiality, or from the powerful prevalence of perſuaſion, you may unfortunately induc’d to give your hand to a man, whoſe bad heart and moroſe temper, conceal’d by a well practis’d diſſimulation, may render every flattering hope of happineſs abortive—May Heaven, in mercy, guard you from this fatal error!— Such a companion is the worſt of all temporal ills—a deadly potion, that imbitters every ſocial ſcene of life, damps every 101 G3r 101 every riſing joy, and baniſhes that cheerful temper, which alone can give a true reliſh to the bleſſings of mortalityMoſt ſincerely do I pray that this may never be your lot!――And, I hope, your prudent circumſpection will be ſufficient to guard you from the danger:―― But, the bare poſſibility of the event makes it not unneceſſary to lay down a few rules for the maintaining ſome degree of eaſe, under ſuch a deprivation of happineſs.—This is by far the moſt difficult part of my preſent undertaking—it is hard to adviſe here and ſtill harder to practiſe the adviſe:—the ſubject alſo is too extenſive to be minutely treated within the compaſs of a letter, which must confine me to the moſt material points G3 only;— 102 G3v 102 only;—in these, I ſhall give you the beſt directions in my power, very ardently wiſhing that you may never have occaſion to make uſe of them.
The being united to a man of irreligious principles makes it impoſſible to diſcharge a great part of the proper duty of a wife;—to name but one inſtance, obedience will be render’d impracticable, by frequent injunctions inconſiſtent with and contrary to the higher obligations of morality.—This is not a ſuppostion, but it a certainty founded upon facts, which I have too often ſeen and can atteſt.— Where this happens, the reaſons for noncompliance ought to be offered in a plain, ſtrong, good-natur’d manner—there is at 103 G4r 103 at leaſt the chance of succeſs from being hear’d; but ſhould thoſe reaſons be rejected, or the hearing them be refuſed and ſilence on the ſubject enjoin’d—which is moſt probable, few people caring to hear, what they know to be right, when determined not to appear convinced by it—obey the injuction, and urge not the argument farther;—keep, however, ſteady to your principles, and ſuffer neither perſuaſion or threats to prevail on you to act contrary to them:—all commands repugnant to the laws of chriſtianity, it is your indiſpenſable duty to diſobey—all requeſts that are inconſiſtent with prudence, or incompatible with the rank and character, which you ought to maintain in life, it is your intereſt to refuſe;—a complianceG4 pliance 104 G4v 104 pliance with the former would be criminal—a conſent to the latter highly indiſcreet;—and it might thereby ſubject you to general cenſure――for, a man, capable of requiring from his wife what he knows to be in itſelf wrong, is equally capable of throwing the whole blame of ſuch miſconduct on her, and of afterwards upbraiding her for a behaviour, to which he will, upon the ſame principle, diſown that he has been acceſſary—Many ſimilar inſtances have come within the compaſs of my own obſervation.—In things, of a leſs material nature, that are neither criminal in themſelves nor pernicious in their conſequences, always acquieſce, if inſiſted on, however diſagreeable they may be to your own temper and inclination;—ſuchtion;— 105 G5r 105 tion;—ſuch a compliance will evidently prove that your refuſal, in the other caſes, proceeds not from a ſpirit of contradiction, but merely from a juſt regard to that ſuperior duty, which can never be infring’d with impunity;―― paſſion may reſent but reaſon muſt approve this conduct:—and, therefore, it is the moſt likely method, in time, to make a favourable impreſſion;—but, if you ſhould fail of ſuch ſucceſs, you will at leaſt enjoy that ſatisfactory ſelf-approbation, which is the inſeparable attendant of a truly religious and rational deportment.
Should the painful talk of dealing with a moroſe tyrannical temper be aſſign’d 1 you, 106 G5v 106 you, there is little more to be recommended than a patient ſubmiſſion to an evil which admits not of a remedy―― Ill-nature is increas’d, obſtinacy confirm’d by oppoſition;—the leſs ſuch a temper is contradicted, the more ſupportable will it be to thoſe who are under it’s baneful influence.――When all endeavours to pleaſe are ineffectual, and, when a man ſeems determin’d to find fault with every thing—as if his chief pleaſure conſiſted in tormenting those about him—it requires a more than common degree of patience and reſolution to forbear uttering reproaches, which ſuch a behaviour may be juſtly allow’d to deſerve;—yet, it is abſoluetly neceſſary to the maintaining any tolerable 107 G6r 107 tolerable degree of eaſe, not only to reſtrain all expreſſions of reſentment, but to withhold even thoſe diſdainful looks, which are apt to accompany a contemptuous ſilence—and they both equally tend only to encreaſe the malady.— This infernal delight in giving pain is moſt unwearied in the ſearch of matter for it’s gratification, and can either find, or unaccountably can form it, in almoſt all the occurrences of life;— but, when ſuffer’d unobſtructed, and unregarded to run it’s malicious courſe, it will quickly vent it’s blunted arrows, and will die of diſappointment—whilſt all endeavours to appeaſe, all complaints of unkindneſs, will but ſharpen againſt yourſelf the weapon’s edge—and, by proving 108 G6v 108 proving your ſenſibility of the wound, will give the wiſh’d-for ſatisfaction to him who inflicts it.――Prudence, in this caſe, directs more than ordinary circumſpection,—that every part of your behaviour may be as blameleſs as poſſible, even to the abſtaining from the leaſt appearance of evil—and, after you have, to the utmoſt of your power, ſtrove to merit approbation, expect not to meet with it;—by theſe means, you will eſcape the mortification of being diſappointed, which, often repeated, is apt to give a gloomy ſourneſs to the temper, incompatible with any degree of contentment:—You muſt, ſo ſituated, learn to be ſatisfied with the conſciouſneſs of acting right, according to your beſt abilities—and,lities 109 G7r 109 lities—and, if poſſible, you ſhould look with an unconcern’d indifference on the reception of every ſucceſsleſs attempt to please.
This, it muſt be own’d, is a hard leſſon of philoſophy—it requires no leſs than an abſolute command over the paſſions;—but, let it be remember’d, that ſuch a command will itſelf moſt amply recompenſe every difficulty, it will compenſate every pain, which it may coſt you to obtain it:――beſides, it is, I believe, the only way to preſerve any tranquillity of mind, under ſo diſagreeable a connection.
As the want of underſtanding is by no 110 G7v 110 no art to be conceal’d, by no addreſs to be diſguis’d, it might be ſuppos’d impoſſible for a woman of ſenſe to unite herſelf to a perſon whoſe defect, in this inſtance, muſt render that ſort of rational ſociety, which conſtitutes the chief happineſs of ſuch an union, impoſſible;— yet, here, how often has the weakneſs of female judgment been conſpicuous? —The advantages of great ſuperiority in rank or fortune have frequently proved ſo irreſiſtible a temptation, as, in opinion, to outweigh not only the folly but even the vices of it’s poſſeſſor:—A grand miſtake—ever tacitly acknowledg’d by a ſubſequent repentance, when the expected pleaſures of affluence, equipage, and all the glittering pomp of uſeleſs 111 G8r 111 uſeleſs pageantry, have been experimentally found inſufficient to make amends for the want of that conſtant ſatisfaction, which reſults from the ſocial joy of converſing with a reaſonable friend! —But, however weak this motive muſt be acknowledg’d, it is more excuſable than another, which, I fear, has ſometimes had an equal influence on the mind—I mean, so great a love of ſway, as to induce her to give the preference to a perſon of weak intellectuals, in hopes thereby of holding, uncontroul’d, the reins of government:―― The expectation is, in fact, ill-grounded —obſtinacy and pride being generally the companions of folly, the ſilliest people are uſually the moſt tenacious of 7 their 112 G8v 112 their opinions—and, consequently, the hardeſt of all others to be managed;— but—admit the contrary—the principle is in itſelf bad—it tends to invert the order of nature and to counteract the deſign of Providence.
A woman can never be ſeen in a more ridiculous light, than when ſhe appears to govern her huſband;—if, unfortunately, the ſuperiority of underſtanding is on her ſide, the apparent conſciouſneſs of that ſuperiority betrays a weakneſs that renders her contemptible in the ſight of every conſiderate perſon—and it may, very probably, fix in his mind a diſlike never to be eradicated.—In ſuch a caſe, it ſhould ever no 113 H1r 113 be your own, remember that ſome degree of diſſimulation is commendable— ſo far as to let your huſband’s defect appear unobſerv’d.—When he judges wrong, never flatly contradict, but lead him inſenſibly into another opinion, in ſo diſcreet a manner, that it may ſeem entirely his own—and, let the whole credit of every prudent determination reſt on him, without indulging the fooliſh vanity of claiming any merit to yourſelf; —thus, a perſon, of but an indifferent capacity, may be ſo aſſiſted as, in many inſtances, to ſhine with a borrow’d luſtre, ſcarce diſtinguiſhable from the native, and, by degrees, he may be brought into a kind of mechanical method of acting properly, in all the commonH mon 114 H1v 114 mon occurrences of life:—Odd as this poſition may ſeem, it is founded in fact —and, I have ſeen the method ſucceſsfully practis’d by more than one perſon, where a weak mind, on the govern’d ſide, has been ſo prudently ſet off as to appear the ſole director—like the ſtatue of the Delphic god, which was thought to give forth it’s own oracles, whilſt the humble prieſt, who lent his voice, was by the ſhrine conceal’d, nor ſought a higher glory than a ſuppos’d obedience to the power he would be thought to ſerve.
From hence, it may be inferr’d, that, by a perfect propriety of behaviour, eaſe, and contentment, at leaſt, are attainable with a companion, who has not the moſt exalted 115 H2r 115 exalted underſtanding;—but then, virtue and good-nature are preſuppoſed, or there will be nothing to work upon—a vicious ill-natur’d fool being ſo untractable and tormenting an aſſociate, there needs only to add jealouſy to the compoſition, to make the curſe compleat.
This paſſion, once ſuffer’d to get footing in the heart, is hardly ever to be extirpated—it is a conſtant ſource of torment to the breaſt that gives it reception and is an inexhauſtible fund of vexation to the object of it:—With a perſon of this unfortunate diſpoſition, it is prudent to avoid the leaſt appearance of concealment—a whiſper in a mix’d company, a meſſage given in a low voice H2 to 116 H2v 116 to a ſervant, have, by the power of a diſturb’d imagination, been magnified into a material injury—whatever has the air of ſecrecy raiſes terror in a mind naturally diſtruſtful;— a perfect unreſerv’d openneſs, both in converſation and behaviour, ſtarves the anxious expectation of diſcovery and may very probably lead into an habitual confidence, the only antidote againſt the poiſon of ſuſpicion. —It is eaſier to prevent than to remove a receiv’d ill impreſſion—and, conſequently, it is much wiſer to be ſometimes deficient in little points of civility —which, however indifferent in themselves, may happen unaccountably to claſh with the eaſe of a perſon, whoſe repoſe it is both your duty and intereſt to pro- 117 H3r 117 promote—it is much more commendable, contentedly to incur the cenſure of a trifling diſpoſition, by a circumſtantial unaſk’d relation of inſignificant incidents, than to give any room for apprehending the leaſt degree of reſerve.—Such a conſtant method of proceeding, together with a reaſonable compliance, is the moſt likely to cure this painful turn of mind;— for, by with-holding every ſupport that could give ſtrength to it, the want of matter to feed on may probably in time cauſe it’s extinction:—If, unhappily, it is ſo conſtitutional, ſo interwoven with the ſoul as to become, in a manner, inſeparably united with it, nothing remains but to ſubmit patiently to the Will of Heaven, under the preſſure of an unalterableH3 able 118 H3v 118 able evil—to guard carefully againſt the natural conſequence of repeated undeſerved ſuſpicions, namely, a growing indifference which too frequently terminates in averſion—and, by conſidering ſuch a ſituation as a trial of obedience and reſignation, to receive the comfort that muſt ariſe from properly exerciſing one of the moſt exalted of the chriſtian virtues:—I cannot diſmiſs this ſubject without adding a particular caution to yourself concerning it.
Jealousy is, on ſeveral accounts, ſtill more inexcuſable in a woman—there is not any thing that ſo much expoſes her to ridicule, or ſo much ſubjects her to the inſult of affrontive addreſſes—it 7 is 119 H4r 119 is an inlet to almoſt every poſſible evil, the fatal ſource of innumerable indiſcretions, the ſure deſtruction of her own peace, and frequently is the bane of her huſband’s affection!—Give it not a momentary harbour to it’s ſhadow in your heart—fly from it, as from the face of a fiend that would lead your unwary ſteps into a gulf of unalterable miſery. —When once embark’d in the matrimonial voyage, the fewer faults you diſcover in your partner, the better;—never ſearch after what it will give you no pleaſure to find—never deſire to hear what you will not like to be told;— therefore avoid that tribe of impertinents, who, either from a malicious love of diſcord, or from the meaner, tho’ leſs H4 criminal 120 H4v 120 criminal motive of ingratiating themſelves, by gratifying the blameable curioſity of others, ſow diſſention, wherever they gain admittance—and, by telling unwelcome truths, or, more frequently, by inſinuating invented falſehoods, injure innocent people, diſturb domeſtic union, and deſtroy the peace of families:—Treat theſe emiſſaries of Satan with the contempt they deſerve —hear not what they offer to communicate, but, give them at once to underſtand, that you can never look on thoſe as your friends, who ſpeak in a diſadvantageous manner of that perſon, whom you would always chuſe to ſee in the moſt favourable light:—If they are not effectually ſilenced by ſuch rebukes, be inacceſſible to 121 H5r 121 to their viſits, and break off all acquaintance with ſuch incorrigible peſts of ſociety, who will be ever upon the watch to ſeize an unguarded opportunity of diſturbing your repoſe.
Should the companion of your life be guilty of ſome ſecret indiſcretions, run not the hazard of being told, by theſe malicious meddlers, what, in fact, it is better for you never to know;—but, if ſome unavoidable accident betrays an imprudent correſpondence, take it for a mark of eſteem, that he endeavours to conceal from you what he knows you muſt, upon a principle of reaſon and religion, diſapprove—and, do not, by diſcovering your acquaintance with it, take off 122 H5v 122 off the reſtraint, which your ſuppos’d ignorance lays him under, and, thereby perhaps, give a latitude to undiſguiſed irregularities.—Be aſſur’d, whatever accidental ſallies the gaiety of inconſiderate youth may lead him into, you can never be indifferent to him, whilſt he is careful to preſerve your peace, by concealing what he imagines might be an infringement of it:—Reſt then ſatisfied that time and reaſon will moſt certainly get the better of all faults, which proceed not from a bad heart—and that, by maintaining the firſt place in his eſteem, your happineſs will be built on too firm a foundation to be eaſily ſhaken.
I have been thus particular on the choice 123 H6r 123 choice of a huſband, and on the material parts of conduct in a married life, becauſe thereon depends not only the temporal, but often the eternal felicity of thoſe who enter into that ſtate—a conſtant ſcene of diſagreement, of ill-nature and quarrels, neceſſarily unfitting the mind for every religious and ſocial duty, by keeping it in a diſpoſition directly oppoſite to that chriſtian piety, to that practical benevolence and rational compoſure, which alone can prepare it for everlaſting happineſs.
Inſtructions on this head, conſidering your tender age, may ſeem premature, and, ſhould have been deferred, until occaſion call’d for them, had our ſituation allow’d 124 H6v 124 allow’d me frequent opportunities of communicating my ſentiments to you— but, that not being the caſe, I chuſe in this epiſtle, at once, to offer you my beſt advice in every circumſtance of great moment to your well-being, both here and hereafter, leſt, at a more proper ſeaſon, it may not happen to be in my power.—You may defer the particular conſideration of this part, ’till the deſign of entering into the new ſcene of life may make it uſeful to you;—which, I hope, will not be for ſome years—an unhappy marriage being generally the conſequence of a too early engagement, before reaſon has gain’d ſufficient ſtrength to form a ſolid judgment, on which only a proper choice can be determin’d.――Great is 5 the 125 H7r 125 the hazard of a miſtake, and irretrievable the effects of it!—Many are the degrees between happineſs and miſery!—Abſolute miſery, I will venture to affirm, is to be avoided, by a proper behaviour, even under all the complicated ills of human life—but to arrive at that proper behaviour, requires the higheſt degree of chriſtian philosophy;—and, who would voluntarily put themſelves upon a ſtate of trial ſo ſevere, in which not one of a thouſand has been found able to come off victorious?—Between this and poſitive happineſs, there are innumerable ſteps of comparative evil—each has it’s ſeparate conflict, variouſly difficult, differently painful, under all which a patient ſubmiſſion and a conſcious propriety of behaviour is the only 126 H7v 126 only attainable good.—Far ſhort indeed of poſſible temporal felicity is the eaſe ariſing from hence!—Reſt not content with the proſpect of ſuch eaſe, but, fix on a more eligible point of view, by aiming at true happineſs;――and, take my word, that can never be found in a married ſtate, without the three eſſential qualifications already mentioned, Virtue, Good Nature, and Good Senſe in a huſband.―― Remember, therefore, my dear girl, this repeated Caution, if you ever reſolve on marriage—Never give your hand to a man who wants either of them, whatever other advantages he may be poſſeſs’d of—ſo ſhall you not only eſcape all thoſe vexations, which thouſands of unthinking mortals hourly repent of having brought 127 H8r 127 brought upon themſelves, but, moſt aſſuredly, if it is not your own fault, you will enjoy that uninterrupted domeſtic harmony, in the affectionate ſociety of a virtuous companion, which conſtitutes the higheſt ſatisfaction of human life.—Such an union, founded on reaſon and religion, cemented by mutual eſteem —if the compariſon may be allow’d—of the promis’d reward of virtue in a future ſtate;—and, moſt certainly, it is an excellent preparative for it, by preſerving a perfect equanimity, by keeping a conſtant compoſure of mind, which naturally lead to the proper diſcharge of all the religious and ſocial duties of life, and theſe form the unerring road to everlaſting peace.— 128 H8v 128 peace.—The Firſt have been already ſpoken to—it remains only to mention ſome few of the Latter.
Amongſt theſe Œconomy may, perhaps, be thought improperly plac’d— yet, many of the duties we owe to ſociety being often rendered impracticable, by the want of it, there is not ſo much impropriety in ranking it under this head, as may at firſt be imagin’d:—For inſtance, a man who lives at an expence, beyond what his income will ſupport, lays himſelf under a neceſſity of being unjuſt, by with-holding from his creditors what they have a right to demand from him as their due, according to all laws both human and divine――and, thereby, 129 I1r 129 thereby, he often entails ruin on innocent family, who, but for the loſs ſuſtain’d by his extravagance, might have comfortably ſubſiſted on the profits of their induſtry;—he likewiſe puts it out of his own power to give that relief to the indigent, which, by the laws of humanity, they have a right to expect—the goods of fortune being given—as a great divine excellently obſerves—for the uſe and ſupport of others, as well as for the perſon on whom they are beſtowed:— Theſe are ſurely great breaches of that duty we owe to our fellow-creatures, and are effects very frequently and naturally produced by the want of œconomy. I You 130 I1v 130 You will find it a very good method, ſo to regulate your ſtated expences as to bring them always one fourth part within your certain annual income;—by theſe means, you will avoid being at any time diſtreſs’d by unforeſeen accidents, and you will have it more eaſily in your power materially to relieve thoſe who deſerve aſſiſtance—but the giving trifling ſums, indiſcriminately, to ſuch as appear neceſſitous, is far from being commendable— it is an injury to ſociety—it is an encouragement to idleneſs and helps to fill the ſtreets with lazy beggars, who live upon miſapplied bounty to the prejudice of the induſtrious poor—Theſe are uſeful members of the common-wealth— and on them ſuch benefactions might be 131 I2r 131 be ſerviceably beſtowed.—Be ſparing therefore in this kind of indiſcriminate donations—they are too conſtantly an inſignificant relief to the receivers—ſuppoſing them really in want—and, frequently repeated, they amount to a conſiderable ſum in the year’s account. ――The proper objects of charity are thoſe, who, by unavoidable misfortunes, have fallen from affluent circumſtances into a ſtate of poverty and diſtreſs— thoſe alſo, who by unexpected diſappointments in trade, are on the point of being reduced to an impoſſibility of carrying on that buſineſs, on which their preſent ſubſiſtence and their future proſpects in life depend, from the incapacity of raiſing an immediate ſum to ſurmount I2 the 132 I2v 132 the difficulty—and thoſe, who, by their utmoſt induſtry, can hardly ſupport their families, above the miſeries of want―― or, who, by age or illneſs, are rendered incapable of labour:――Appropriate a certain part of your income to the relief of theſe real diſtreſſes.—To the firſt, give as largely as your circumſtances will allow; ――To the ſecond—after the example of an excellent prelate of our own church —lend, if it is in your power, a ſufficient ſum to prevent the threaten’d ruin, on condition of being repaid the loan, without intereſt, if Providence enables them, by future ſucceſs, to do it with convenience.――The same method may be us’d, where indigence renders induſtry unavailable, by depriving it of the means 7 to 133 I3r 133 to lay in a ſmall original ſtock to be improv’d――never take a note of hand, or any acknowledgment of ſuch loan, leſt what you intended for a benefit ſhould be afterwards made the inſtrument of ruin to the receiver, by a different diſpoſition in your succeſſor.—But, ſuch aſſiſtance ought not to be given to any, without a thorough knowledge of their character, and from having good reaſon to believe them not only induſtrious but ſtrictly honeſt—which will be a ſufficient obligation on them for the repayment; —and, the ſums ſo repaid ought to be laid by, ’till an opportunity again offers of making them, in like manner, ſerviceable to others.—The latter ſort, who are able to work, may, by a ſmall I3 addition 134 I3v 134 addition to the profits of their own labour, be reſcued from miſery, and may be put into a comfortable way of ſubſiſtence.――Thoſe who, by age or by infirmity, are rendered utterly incapable of ſupporting themſelves, have an undoubted right—not only to the neceſſaries, but even to ſome of the conveniences of life—from all, whom Providence has plac’d in the more happy ſtate of affluence and independence.
As your fortune and ſituation are yet undetermined, I have purpoſely laid down ſuch rules as may be adapted to every ſtation.—A large fortune gives greater opportunity of doing good and of communicating happineſs in a more extenſive degree— 135 I4r 135 degree—but a ſmall one is no excuſe for with-holding a proportionate relief from real and deſerving objects of compaſſion: — to aſſiſt them is an indiſpenſable duty of chriſtianity.—The firſt and great commandment is, To love God with all your heart;—the second, To love your neighbour as yourſelf— Whoſo ſeeth his brother in need, and ſhutteth up his bowels of compaſſion, how dwelleth the love of God in him?—Or how the love of his neighbour?—If deficient in theſe primary duties, vain are the hopes of acceptance built on a partial obedience to the leſſer branches of the law!— Inability is often pleaded as an excuſe for the want of charity, by perſons who make no ſcruple of daily laviſhing on I4 their 136 I4v 136 their pleaſures, what, if better applied, might have made an indigent family happy through life;—theſe perſons loſe ſight of real felicity, by the miſtaken purſuit of its ſhadow:—the pleaſures; which engroſs their attention, die in the enjoyment, are often ſucceeded by remorſe, and always by ſatiety;—whereas the true joy, the ſweet complacency reſulting from benevolent actions, encreaſes by reflection and muſt be immortal as the ſoul.—So exactly, ſo kindly, is our duty made to coincide with our preſent as well as future intereſt, that incomparably more ſatisfaction will accrue to a conſiderate mind, from denying itſelf even ſome of the agreeables of life, in order the more effectually to relieve the unfor- 137 I5r 137 unfortunate, than could ariſe from a full indulgence of every temporal gratification.
However ſmall your income may be, remember that a part of it is due to merit in diſtreſs;—ſet by an annual ſum, for this purpoſe, even though it ſhould oblige you to abate ſome unneceſſary expence to raiſe the fund:—By this method, perſons of ſlender fortune have been enabled to do much good and to give happineſs to many.—If your ſtock will not admit of frequent draughts upon it, be the more circumſpect with regard to the merit of thoſe you relieve, that bounties, not in your power to repeat often, may not be miſapplied:—But, if Providence, by 138 I5v 138 by a more ample fortune, ſhould bleſs you with a larger ability of being ſerviceable to your fellow-creatures, prove yourſelf worthy of the truſt repos’d in you, by making a proper uſe of it.―― Wide as your influence can extend, turn the cry of diſtreſs and danger into the ſong of joy and ſafety—feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort the afflicted, give medicine to the ſick, and, with either, beſtow all the alleviation their unfortunate circumſtances can admit of: —Thus may you truly make a friend of the unrighteous mammon—Thus you may turn the perſhable goods of fortune into everlaſting bleſſings:—Upon earth, you will partake that happineſs you impart to others, and you will lay up for yourſelf 139 I6r 139 yourſelf Treaſures in Heaven, where neither moth nor ruſt can corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor ſteal.
A perſon, who has once experienc’d the advantages of a right action, will be led by the motive of preſent ſelf-intereſt, as well as by future expectation, to the continuance of it.――There is no injunction of christianity, that, a ſincere chriſtian, by obedience, will not find is ſo calculated as to be directly, in ſome meaſure, it’s own reward.
The forgiveneſs of injuries—to which is annex’d the promiſe of pardon for our own offences, and which is requir’d by the goſpel, not only ſo far as to fobear6 bear 140 I6v 140 bear all kinds of retaliation, but alſo to render us equally diſpoſed to ſerve, with our utmoſt power, thoſe perſons who have wilfully injur’d us, as if no ſuch injury had been receiv’d from them ――has by ſome been accounted a hard precept;—yet the difficulty of it ariſes merely from and is proportionable to the badneſs of the heart by which it is ſo eſteem’d:—A good diſpoſition finds a ſuperlative pleaſure in returning good for evil;—and, by an inexpreſſible ſatisfaction of mind, in ſo doing, feels the preſent reward of obedience:—whereas, a ſpirit of revenge is incompatible with happineſs, an implacable temper being a conſtant torment to its poſſeſſor;—and, the man, who, returns an injury, feels more 141 I7r 141 more real miſery from the rancour of his own heart than it is in his power to inflict upon another.
Should a friend wound you in the moſt tender part, by betraying a confidence repos’d, prudence forbids the expoſing yourſelf to a ſecond deception, by placing any future truſt in ſuch a perſon;—but, though here all obligations of intimacy ceaſe, thoſe of benevolence and humanity remain ſtill in full force, and are equally binding, as to every act of ſervice and aſſiſtance, even to the ſuffering a leſſer evil yourſelf, in order to procure a much greater good to the perſon, by whom you have been thus ill-us’d:—This is in general allow’d to 142 I7v 142 to be the duty of every individual to all, as a member of ſociety――but, it is particularly inſtanc’d in the preſent caſe, to ſhew that not even a breach of friendship—the higheſt of all provocations— will cancel the duty, at all times equally and unalterably binding, the duty of promoting both the temporal and eternal happineſs of all your fellow-creatures, by every method in your power.
It has been by many thought impertinent at any time to offer unaſk’d advice――the reaſon of which may be chiefly owing to its being too frequently tender’d with a ſupercilious air that implies a conceited conſciouſneſs of ſuperior wiſdom;――it is the manner, therefore, 143 I8r 143 therefore, more than the thing itſelf, that gives diſguſt.
If thoſe with whom you have any degree of intimacy are guilty of what to you appears either wrong, or indiſcreet, ſpeak your opinion to them with freedom, tho’ you ſhould even loſe a nominal friend by ſo doing:—Silence makes you, in ſome meaſure, an acceſſary to the fault;—but, having thus once diſcharg’d your duty, reſt there—they are to judge for themſelves;—to repeat ſuch admonitions is both uſeleſs and impertinent— and they will then be thought to proceed rather from pride than from goodnature;—to the perſons concerned only, are you to ſpeak your diſapprobation of their 144 I8v 144 their conduct;—when they are cenſured by others, ſay all that truth or probability will permit in their juſtification.
It often happens, that, upon an accidental quarrel between friends, they ſeparately appeal to a third perſon—in ſuch caſe, alternately take the oppoſite ſide, alledging every argument in favour of the abſent party and placing the miſtakes of the complainer in the ſtrongeſt light: —This method may probably at firſt diſpleaſe, but, is always right, as it is the moſt likely to procure a reconciliation:— If that takes place, each equally oblig’d, will thankfully approve your conduct; —if not, you will have the ſatisfaction of, at leaſt, endeavouring to have been the 145 K1r 145 the reſtorer of peace.—A contrary behaviour—which generally proceeds from the mean deſire of pleaſing, by flattery, at the expence of truth—often widens a trifling breach into open and irreconcileable enmity:—People of this diſpoſition are the worſt ſort of incendiaries—the greatest plague of human ſociety, becauſe the moſt difficult to be guarded against, from their always wearing the ſpecious diſguiſe of pretended approbation and friendſhip to the preſent, and equally deceitful reſentment againſt the abſent perſon or company.
To enumerate all the ſocial duties would lead me too far;—ſuffice it, therefore, my dear, in a few words to ſum K up 146 K1v 146 up what remains――Let truth ever dwell upon your tongue.—Scorn to flatter any, and deſpiſe the perſon who would practice ſo baſe an art upon yourſelf.―― Be honeſtly open in every part of your behaviour and converſation.—All, with whom you have any intercourſe, even down to the meaneſt ſtation, have a right to civility and good-humour from you: ――a ſuperiority of rank or fortune is no licence for a proud ſupercilious behaviour—the diſadvantages of a dependent ſtate are alone ſufficient to labour under, it is both unjuſt and cruel to encreaſe them, either by a haughty deportment or by the unwarrantable exerciſe of a capricious temper.8 Examine 147 K2r 147
Examine every part of your conduct towards others, by the unerring rule of ſuppoſing a change of places—this will certainly lead to an impartial judgment;—do then what appears to you right, or, in other words, what you would they ſhould do unto you—which comprehends every duty relative to ſociety.
Aim at perfection, or you will never reach to an attainable height of virtue. —Be religious without hypocriſy, pious without enthuſiaſm.—Endeavour to merit the favor of God, by a ſincere and uniform obedience to whatever you know or believe to be his will:—And, ſhould afflictive evils be permitted to cloud the ſun-ſhine of your K2 brighteſt 148 K2v 148 brighteſt days, receive them with ſubmiſſion—ſatisfied that a Being, equally wiſe, omniſcient, and beneficent, at once ſees and intends the good of His whole creation—and that every general or particular diſpenſation of His providence, towards the rational part of it, is ſo calculated as to be productive of ultimate happineſs, which nothing but the miſbehaviour of individuals can prevent to themſelves.—This truth is ſurely an unanſerable argument for abſolute reſignation to the Will of God—and, ſuch a reſignation, founded upon reaſon and choice, not enforc’d by neceſſity, is unalterable peace of mind, fix’d on too firm a baſis to be ſhaken by adverſity:—Pain, poverty, ingratitude, K3 calumny, 149 K3r 149 calumny, and even the loſs of thoſe we hold moſt dear, may each tranſiently affect, but united cannot mortally wound it.—Upon this principle, you will find it poſſible not only to be content but cheerful under all the diſagreeable circumſtances, which this ſtate of probation is liable to—and, by making a proper uſe of them, you may effectually remove the garb of terror from the laſt of all temporal evils:—learn then, with grateful pleaſure, to meet approaching death as the kind remover of every painful ſenſation, as the friendly guide to perfect, to everlaſting happineſs.
Believe me, this is not mere theory— my own experience every moment proves 150 K3v 150 the fact undeniably true—my conduct, in all thoſe relations which ſtill ſubſiſt with me, nearly as human imperfection will allow, is govern’d by the rules here laid down for you—and it produces the conſtant rational compoſure, which conſtitutes the moſt perfect felicity of human life;――for, with truth, I can aver, that I daily feel incomparably more real ſatisfaction, more true contentment in my preſent retirement, than the gayeſt ſcenes of feſtive mirth ever afforded me; ――I am pleas’d with this life, without an anxious thought for the continuance of it, and am happy in the hope of exchanging it hereafter for a life infinitely better.—My ſoul, unſtain’d by the crimes unjuſtly imputed to me, moſt ſincerely 151 K4r 151 ſincerely forgives the malicious authors of theſe imputations—it anticipates the future pleaſure of an open acquittal, and, in that expectation loſes the pain of preſent undeſerv’d cenſure:—By this is meant the inſtance that was made the ſuppos’d foundation for the laſt of innumberable injuries, which I have receiv’d, through him from whom I am conſcious of having deſerv’d the kindeſt treatment;—other faults, no doubt, I might have many—to him I had very few;—nay, for ſeveral years, I cannot, upon reflection, accuſe myſelf of any thing, but of a too abſolute, too unreſerv’d, obedience to every injunction, even where plainly contrary to the dictates of my own reaſon:――How wrong K4 ſuch 152 K4v 152 ſuch a compliance was has been clearly prov’d by many inſtances, in which it has been ſince moſt ungenerouſly and moſt ungratefully urg’d as a circumſtantial argument againſt me.
It muſt indeed be own’d, that for the two or three laſt years, tir’d with a long ſeries of repeated inſults, of a nature almoſt beyond the power of imagination to conceive, my temper became ſour’d; —a conſtant fruitleſs endeavour to oblige was chang’d into an abſolute indifference about it—and ill humour, occaſion’d by frequent diſappointment —a conſequence I have experimentally warn’d you againſt—was, perhaps, ſometimes too much indulg’d:—How far 153 K5r 153 far the unequal’d provocations may be allowed as an excuſe for this, Heaven only muſt determine, whoſe goodneſs has thought fit to releaſe me from the painful ſituation—though by a method, at preſent, not the moſt eligible, as it is the cauſe of ſeparation from my children alſo, and thereby has put it out of my power to attend, in the manner I could have wiſh’d, to their education—a duty that, inclination would have led me with equal care and pleaſure more amply to fulfil, had they continued under my direction:—But, as Providence has thought fit otherwiſe to determine, contented I ſubmit to every diſpenſation, convinc’d that all things ordered for the beſt, and that they will in the end work 154 K5v 154 work together for good to them that fear God and who ſincerely endeavour to keep his commandments.—If in theſe I err, I am certain it is owing to a miſtake in the judgment, not to a defect of the will.
Thus have I endeavour’d, my dear girl, in ſome meaſure, to compenſate both to you and to your ſiſters, the deprivation of a conſtant maternal care, by adviſing you, according to my beſt ability, in the moſt material parts of your conduct through life, as particularly as the compaſs of a letter would allow me.—May theſe few inſtructions be as ſerviceable to you as my wiſhes would make them!—And, may that Almighty Being, 155 K6r 155 Being, to whom my daily prayers aſcend for your preſervation, grant you His heavenly benediction—may he keep you from all moral evil, lead you into the paths of righteouſneſs and peace!—And, may He give us all a happy meeting in that future ſtate of unalterable felicity, which is prepared for thoſe, who, by patient continuance in well-doing, ſeek after glory and immortality.
Should any of you, when at liberty to follow your own inclinations, chuſe to write to me., Tthe addreſs—For me, To the care of Mr. Walter, Bookſeller, Charing-Croſs—will enſure the ſafe conveyance of a letter to my hand.So 156 K6v 156
So many have been the inſtances of falſhood and deceit which I have met with, where they were leaſt expected, they may juſtify a precaution againſt my name being hereafter made uſe of, without my knowledge—eſpecially as my promiſe of a future letter may lay a foundation for ſuch an attempt.—That future letter muſt contain the relation of many events, which, for the ſake of the perſons concerned in them, I could wiſh —my heart being really void of all reſentment—there was no neceſſity of making public:—If, therefore, I can find a certain means of conveying the narrative to your brothers, ſiſters, and to yourſelf, when you are all arrived at a proper age to receive and to underſtand it, that 157 K7r 157 that method will be prefer’d;—if not, I muſt again have recourſe to this channel:――But ſhould I, before that intended period, be remov’d from this ſtate of exiſtence, ſo neceſſary does it appear to me to undeceive the minds of my children, and to juſtify to them, who are ſo nearly concerned, my injur’d character, the manuſcript is depoſited in the hands of a friend, on whom I can ſafely depend for the publication at the time prefix’d—That friend has alſo ſome original letters, together with an order of mine, which will be ſatisfactory vouchers of its being written by me—And this precaution will effectually ſecure you from the poſſibility of being impos’d on, by any pretended Poſthumous letter 7 of 158 K7v 158 of mine:—The former editions of This addreſs to you, my dear, have always had My Manual Sign—but, ſo long a time having now paſ’d, ſince its firſt publication, and, the number of copies which have been diſperſ’d, proving, in a manner, its authenticity, that trouble to me, I think, may now be diſpens’d with—To prevent however the impoſition of any pretended copies of it, my publisher, Mr. Walter, will hereafter add His Manual Sign to every copy of this letter, which will ſerve for that of
Your affectionate Mother,
An Eſſay on the Holy Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, addreſſed to the Inhabitants of a populous Pariſh near London. . The Third Edition..
Price One Shilling bound, or Ten and Sixpence, a Dozen to thoſe who purchaſe a Number to give away.
A Clergyman, in the Neighbourhood of London, ſo fully approved of the above Eſſay on the Sacrament, that, with Permiſſion of the Author, he printed a Large Impreſſion at his own private Expence, to diſtribute among his Pariſhoners and Friends.
A Commentary, Practical and Explanatory, on the Liturgy of the Church of England, as uſed on Sundays: including the Athanaſian Creed.
By the Author of the above Eſſay on the Sacrament, In One Volume 8vo. Price 5s. bound, Let every Man ſtudy his Prayers, and read his Duty in his Petitions. .
Letters on the Improvement of the Mind, Addreſſed to a Young Lady. Neatly printed in Two ſmall Volumes, 8vo. Price 5s. ſewed. Dedicated to Mrs. Montagu, by . The Second Edition.
I conſider an Human Soul without Education, like Marble in the Quarry, which ſhews none of its inherent Beauties till the Skill of the Poliſher fetches out the Colours, makes the Surface ſhine, and diſcovers every ornamental Cloud, Spot, and Vein that runs through the Body of it. Education, after the ſame Manner, when it works upon a noble Mind, draws out to View every latent Virtue and Perfection, which without ſuch Helps, are never able to make their Appearance. .
Books Printed for J. Walter.
Letters on Different Subjects. The Fourth Edition. In Four Pocket Volumes. Price 10s. ſewed. By , Author of the Unfortunate Mother’s Advice.
The Lady’s Assistant for regulating and ſupplying her Table; containing 150 ſelect Bills of Fare, properly diſposed for Family Dinners of Five Diſhes, to two Courſes of Eleven and Fifteen; with upwards of 50 bills of Fare for Suppers, from Five Diſhes to Nineteen; and ſeveral Deſerts: Including a conſiderable Number of Choice Receipts of various Kinds, with full Directions for preparing them in the moſt approved Manner: Now firſt publiſhed from the Manuſcript Collection of A Professed Housekeeper, Who had upwards of 30 Years Experience in Families of the Firſt Faſhion.
Price 6s. bound.
This Book is on an entire New Plan, and of particular Uſe to young married Ladies.