Poems, Dialogues, Addresses,
&c. &c. &c.
as Recited by the Pupils of
Mrs. Rowson’s Academy,
at the Annual Exhibitions.
Published by John West & Co.
No. 75, Cornhill.
E. G. House, Printer.
Advertisement By the author.
I have been frequently solicited by the friends of my pupils, and my pupils themselves, to have the following Bagatelles printed. In compliance with their request I now commit them to the eye of the public.
They were written for the amusement and information of very young minds. Let not the old and learned look at them with a critic’s eye. My chief pleasure arises from being being loved, esteemed and applauded by a few; the chilren whom I have educated, and the friends who are satisfied with my endeavours to please, constitute those few. Conscious of meaning well, I leave to the wit, the scholar and the critic to astonish, correct, or satirize; and rest content with the feelings of a heart, grateful for the many blessings it possesses, and devoid of envy for the superior excellence or happiness of another.
A Present for Young Ladies.
’Tis said in days of yore, when mortals pray’d
To heathen deities; that Jove survey’d
From his high throne the discontented clan,
That strange, eccentric, murmuring, biped man;
And wishingwishing for amusement, gave permission,
For each complainant to prefer petition;
Stating minutely what they wish’d or wanted,
And promis’d that their prayer should be granted.
Soon as aurora with her golden eye,
Peep’d through the eastern chambers of the sky,
A multitudinous throng together press’d,
All eager to be heard and have their ’plaints redress’d:
And sure their strange petitions might beguile
The sternest, coldest cynic of a smile.B 6 B1v 6
Give me, cries one, uncounted hoards of pelf,
Ships, houses, lands, and money in profusion;
Heaps of ore and mines of treasure,
I’ll grasp it all; oh, endless pleasure,
Laugh at the widows’ tears the needy man’s confusion,
And centre all in self, dear idol self.
Another push’d the sordid wretch aside,
And pressing forward with ambitious stride,
Looking contempt on the surrounding crowd,
And even to Jove himself he scarcely bow’d.
Give, mighty power, he cried, the grov’ling reptile gold,
Be it my fate the staff of power to hold,
To have millions depend on my smile or my frown,
And legions to move at my nod;
I’d reign o’er the universe, grasp at a crown,
And be on earth a demigod.
Dear, cries a pretty miss, do stand away,
You frighten me to death, I vow you do,
Make me forget, all that I had to say;
Good Mr. Jupiter, now tell me pray,
My eyes are black, could you not make them blue?
Lord, cries miss Formal, do miss let me speak;
You would have every thing, I see it plain.
Oh, mighty Jove, I have grown old of late,
My hair is grey, there’s wrinkles on my cheek,
Could you not make me young and fair again?7 B2r 7
Then such confus’d petitions, pensions, places,
Fine hair, fine teeth, fine shapes, and pretty faces
Jove turn’d away disgusted — and admir’d
A Sage, who from the noisy throng retir’d
Had stood aloof, express’d nor wish nor want,
Content to take whate’er the gods might grant.
Delighted, he the modest Sage survey’d;
Come hither, friend, the power smiling said,
Hast thou no wish, no prayer to prefer?
None, cried the Sage, the human heart may err,
And ask for things improper; be it thy will
With misery to the brim, my cup to fill,
’Tis mine to take it, if by thee ’tis sent,
My duty is submission and content.
If to my lot one blessing be assign’d,
Grant me a free anand independent mind,
Ability to earn the bread I eat,
A heart to own, that bread tho’ coarse, is sweet.
Pleas’d with his humble prayer great Jove assented,
Nor does the story say the Sage repented.
Thus far the bard a simple tale has told,
In artless language drawn from days of old;
But something still remains. The Sage’s prayers
Express her heart, his humble wish is hers.
Except that in her prayer she would include,
That first of blessings heaven taught gratitude;
And words to speak how much she feels is due,
Of that unbounded gratitude to you.
The Bee—a Fable.
Delivered by a Little Miss Nine Years Old.
Ladies and Gentlemen, will you allow
A very little girl, who scarce knows how
To make her curtsey in a proper way,
To tell a story which she heard one day?
It chance’d once on a time, no matter when,
For all strange things they tell us happen’d then;
A little Bee on a sun shiny day,
Crept from the hive, among the flow’rs to play.
A wise old lab’rer of the hive espied
His sportive gambols, and thus gravely cried,
To work as well as play should be your pride.
Come learn of me, for wisdom is a treasure,
And you shall mingle profit with your pleasure.
Observe this bed of clustringclust’ring flow’rs, behold
Their velvet leaves all powder’d o’er with gold,
And see, within the cups of crimson hue,
The precious drops of rich nectarious dew.
This golden dust, this precious dew collect,
Now in the early morning, nor neglect
To bear it to the hive, a valued store,
Against the time when chilling torrents roar,
And Boreas howls, and rains and snows decenddescend,
And bees must on their hoarded stores depend.
Now this young Bee was a good little creature,
Had much good sense, industry, and good nature;9 B3r 9
She sipp’d the dew, scraped off the golden dust,
That turned to liquid sweets, and in a crust
Composed of this, the ambrosial treasure clos’d
But as she work’d, a drone who had repos’d
For many a morning in a lily’s bell,
Addressed her thus; Poor thing, tis mighty well
That you have strength and spirits thus to labour,
I vow you are a valuable neighbour;
To labour thus from morn to eve for others;
For trust me little slave I and my brothers,
When we have spent the summer sweetly here,
All winter will regale on your good cheer.
For I’m too delicate, too blythe, too gay,
To waste in toil my summer hours away;
I was not form’d for labour, I was made
To rest on thyme beds in the myrtle shade;
I do protest, were I obliged to bear
That yellow dust away, and take such care,
That not a grain is lost; that I should die,
Fainting beneath the fervor of the sky.
But you were formed for toil and care by nature
And are a mighty good industrious creature.
Winter draws nigh, replies the little Bee,
And who is wisest we shall quickly see,
My friend, who warn’d me to beware in season
Or yours, who left you in dispite of reason
To bathe in dew, flit over beds of flowers,
Heedless of coming cold, or wintry showers.
When winter came, the little Bee was well,
Secure and warm, within her waxen cell.10 B3v 10
The drones half starv’d, came shiv’ring to the door,
And forc’d an entrance, they could do no more;
The lab’rers rose, the encroaching tribe drove forth,
To brave the horrors of the frigid north;
Shrink in the rigor of a wintry sky,
Lament their idleness, to starve and die.
While the good litle Bee, next coming May,
Hail’d the returning sun, alert and gay,
Led forth an infant swarm in health and ease,
A bright example unto future bees.
My story’s ended; but methinks you say,
Is there no moral, little girl, I pray?
Yes, there’s a moral, hear it if you please,
This is the hive, and we’re the little bees;
Our governess is the adviser sage,
Who fits us for the world’s delusive stage,
By pointing out the weeds among the flowers,
By teaching us to use our mental powers;
To shun the former, and with nicest care,
Cull from the latter all that’s sweet and fair,
Extract their honey, keep their colour bright
To deck the chaplet for a winter’s night.
Have we succeeded? judge, you will not wrong us,
I trust we have no idle drones among us;
Or is there one or two, how great their shame,
Whilst here, we’re striving for the meed of fame,
And catch with transports of exulting joy,
The approbating glance from every eye;
To feel they cannot hope to share our pleasure,
To know they slighted wisdom’s offered treasure,11 B4r 11
To feel that those kind friends, who dearest love them,
Will blush and pity, while they can’t approve them.
Oh dear, I would not for the richest gem,
That India can produce, feel just like them.
Nor lose the joy we hope to feel this day,
To hear our friends and patronesses say,
All is done right and well; and truly these
Dear chilren, are a hive of thriving bees.
And should you thus approve, you’ll make of me,
A very proud, and happy little Bee.
’Tis education forms the infant mind,
Just as the twig is bent the tree’s inclined.
If this is true, how careful should they be,
Who train the twig, to form the future tree?
Nor is there aught a parent can bestow,
For which a child more gratitude can owe,
Than education! when with studious art
The teacher stores the head, and mends the heart.
While in each acquisition we improve,
To gain our friends’ applause, our parents’ love,
We are taught we shall not always tarry here,
Bade to press forward to a nobler sphere:
When if we have improv’d the talents given,
Tenfold will be our great reward in heaven.12 B4v 12
Is it not well for us that we have friends,
Knowing how much our future peace depends
On what we are taught in youth, who kindly grant
The means to attain those graces which we want?
Dear friends, behold our works, look round and say
Has your expense, our time, been thrown away?
Ah! if it had, how great had been our blame,
The slighted means, would dye our cheeks with shame;
And we throughout our future lives should mourn
The golden hours which never can return.
But while the needle’s various arts we have pli’d,
The imitative pencil strove to guide,
History’s interesting facts delighted,
Nor were the poets’ magic numbers slighted.
The penman’s nicer skill we have strove to attain,
And hope our efforts have not been in vain.
If you approve us on this happy day,
How light will beat our hearts to hear you say,
Well done good children! go on, persevere;
Yes, for those smiles to our young hearts so dear,
We will, nor slack on any vain pretence,
Since perseverance leads to excellence.
Will you permit a very little maid?
(Who to confess the truth, is half afraid,13 B5r 13
Thus to appear before so many friends;
On whom her happiness this day depends.
But pray you do not think that I presume,
It was our governess who bade me come.)
Your kind attention humbly to entreat,
At least your patience, while we shall repeat
Our exercises here, and strive to show
What we have learnt, what done and what we know.
With hearts that palpitate with hope and fear,
We venture in your presence to appear.
If we have been to our own int’rest blind,
Slighting the means to cultivate the mind.
How shall we dare our downcast eyes to raise,
Feeling we merit censure, ask for praise?
If we’ve improv’d each moment as it fled,
In storing treasure for the heart and head,
We come before you now with hearts light beating,
Certain your kindest smiles will give us greeting.
This we must own, our teachers tried their pow’rs
T’improve us, if we fail, the fault is ours.
Pray you look round, methinks you will not say,
Your kindness, or our time, was thrown away.
Usefully ev’ry moment we divide,
The needle is with skill and labour plied;
The pen, and pencil, take an equal turn,
While all with gen’rous emulation burn,
Your smiles and approbation to obtain,
Oh, do not let our labour prove in vain.14 B5v 14
My dear companions soon will let you see
How far in learning, they have outsripp’d me:
But I will try before another year,
To be as forward as the oldest here.
Pray you excuse me for my childish prate,
I had forgot, those kind companions wait
To claim your favour; then with candour hear them,
If worthy, let your approbation cheer them.
A poem delivered 18071807, by a young lady who had been six years in the Academy.
Life’s but a shadow, fleeting swift away,
Like gleams of sunshine, on a wint’ry day;
That by their radiance cheer, and gently warm,
But as we feel the soft delusive charm:
Slowly but sure the shades of night arise
And veil the transient splendor from our eyes,
Impenetrable gloom involves the plain,
Till the revolving sun arise again.
So the bright gleams of youth and beauty fade,
Shrouded by death’s impenetrable shade,
Deep shade! long night! where is the sun shall rise,
Bid the same youth and beauty meet our eyes,
Wake our departed friends, disperse the gloom,
And shed a radiance o’er the dreary tomb?15 B6r 15
Alas! the scene is clos’d, those we deplore,
Shall greet our ears, shall bless our eyes no more.
Say not my friends this subject is too dull.
It is a theme with which my heart is full;
Then let me speak my thoughts, let me impart,
Reflections which may pain yet mend the heart.
Can none remember? Yes, some here I see,
Who must remember, think, and feel like me;
Bid fancy lead the beauteous visions on,
And mourn companions now for ever gone.
Six years, short space, how swiftly did ye fly,
While wing’d with childish sports ye glided by;
The pleasing retrospect before me lies,
But as each scene in quick succession flies,
My heart retracing every dear delight,
Melts o’er companions wrapp’d in endless night.
Sees Proctor Miss Elizabeth Proctor, afterwards Mrs. Abbot. gay as pleasure’s airy child,
On whose fair prospect love and fortune smil’d.
Sees Bishop Miss Bishop of Medford, afterwards Mrs. N. Parsons. lovely, and as good as fair;
By nature grac’d with talents rich and rare.
Beholds their festive pomp and bridal wreath,
Chang’d for the sad habiliments of death;
Sees them depart from off life’s motley scene,
And seem alas! as though they ne’er had been.
Fair Means Miss Jane Means of Amherst. in whom were innocence and truth,
Combined with beauty’s charm, and opening youth,
And manners gentle as the breath of May,16 B6v 16
Means too, has like a shadow pass’d away.
McClure, Mis Ruth McClure. I lov’d thee much! and all who knew
Thy good and gentle nature, lov’d thee too.
But thou art gone;—and quickly in thy rear,
Sweet unassuming Noyes Miss Mary Noyes of Newbury-Port. has press’d her bier.
Harris Miss S. Harris of Charlestown. with whom in revels light and gay,
I’ve pass’d the closing eve, or wak’d the day;
Lov’d for thy mild good humour, cheerful mirth
And tenderly esteemed for innate worth;
Thou too art faded, but upon thy breast,
In fairest flowers may the turf be drest,
Nor weed nor brier dare profane the ground,
For in thy mind, nor weed nor brier was found.
Rebecca! Miss R. Bishop, sister to Mrs. Parsons. thou whose grave but newly clos’d
Who snatched from lingering pain art now repos’d
In that calm mansion of eternal peace,
Where tears are wip’d away and sorrows cease.
Thy form, Rebecca, rises to my view
As when this annual day was grac’d by you;
Then your fair sister liv’d, and youth and joy,
Flush’d in your cheeks, and revel’d in your eye.
All now is past, closed are those speaking eyes,
And shrouded in the grave Rebecca lies.
Methinks I hear your voice addressing me,
Say, what I am, alas! you soon must be.
Thy virtues then be mine, thy modest worth
Though never vaunted, shone conspicuous forth17 B7r 17
To me thy uncomplaining mind be given,
Thy meek submission to the will of heaven,
At least in mem’ry treasur’d they shall be
And when I aim to excel, I’ll copy thee.
But are these dear companions, we deplore
Snatch’d from our eyes to be beheld no more?
No, though from sublunary scenes they’re gone,
Yet in the presence of the Eternal One
Again they live, they join the seraphs’ lays,
And tune their harps to the Eternal’s praise,
And we, my friends, even we who still are here,
Poor emmets crawling on this nether sphere,
One day shall join in the celestial strain
And meet with our departed friends again.
Sure solemn truth, let it awake each sense
Impress our minds, and banish folly hence,
Incite us to be virtuous, pious, wise,
And seek beyond the grave a mansion in the skies.
Spoken by Three Little Misses.
Dear, what a noise these little girls are making;
Children what puts you into such a taking?
Why dontdon’t you know, that uncle John is come,
And he has brought our cousin Julia home—
The prettiest waxen baby ever seen—
And a straw bonnet trimm’d and lin’d with green—
With flaxen hair and teeth as if they grew—
A new pellise, and pink kid slippers too—
With sweet blue eyes, she opens them and shuts them—
A beautiful red trunk, in which she puts them—
Dress’d in a stain slip—
Do pray be quiet;
One would suppose by all this fuss and riot,
You never saw a waxen doll before;
If she has that and fifty play things more,
’Tis nothing strange.—Indeed, you make me blush,
To hear you talk so much like babies, hush.
Dear, you’re so grave and give yourself such airs,
And talk so sensibly; but pray who cares?
For all your serious face, miss, we can see
You love fine clothes and dolls as well as we.
I love fine clothes?—I hope not, I’ve been taught,
Not to be vain of things so cheaply bought.
Mamma has told me: child if you are vain
Of finery, it is confessing plain
That you’re a foolish, childish, silly creature.
Yes, and she bade you treat us with good nature,
And not to think yourself so good and clever
As to be finding fault with us for ever.
And ’tother evening my father said,
Women were fond of glitter and parade;
Fine clothes, fine furniture, fine coaches, and—
You talk of what you do not understand;
Papa was joking—
Joking, now I reckon
He spoke as true and serious as a deacon.
Why is it wrong to love a pretty doll
With such fine clothes, such hair, and eyes and all?
I’m sure if it is naughty to love play,
We little girls are naughty every day.
And if it is I think it very hard;
For yesterday mamma received a card,
Inviting her to come and meet a few
Good social friends, and play a pool at loo.
A loo what’s that?
What? why I hardly know;
They’ve cards, and all set round a table, so
They all put money in a box, and then
Shuffle the cards, put money in again,20 B8v 20
And keep on shuffling; sometimes Pam they call,
And she who shuffles longest takes up all.
Well that’s a foolish play, indeed, for a woman;
But if our mothers spend their time in common;
In play and such like, pray are we to blame
If with our baby things we do the same?
I would not waste my time so if I might,
I think we had better learn to read and write.
Well dear I love my school, as well as you,
And love my book, love my needle too.
Dear I can hem and sew—
And so can I,
And the next quarter I intend to try
To work a sampler—
I shall work one too
Upon white canvas all with pink and blue.
That’s my dear sisters this is being good,
Industrious and wise as children should;
It will charm all our friends, and the next year,
When as we hope again to meet them here—
I’ll prove I have not spent my time in vain—
And I shall strive a medal to obtain.
O, if I could but get the highest prize,
What joy would sparkle in my mother’s eyes.
’Tis very hard to get, my dear,
One must be very good for a whole year.
Must not be rude, must never tell a lie,
Be neat, polite, industrious, but I
Shall never get it—
Do dear let us try,
Yes, that I will, nor throw away
One moment more in idleness or play.
And if we do our best in such a cause,
We’re certain of one prize, our friends’ appluseapplause.
For Two Little Misses.
Do stop miss Lucretia, pray why in such haste
And where in the world are you running so fast?
Pray miss dontdon’t detain me, I’m going to school
And our governess long has established a rule,
She who for three monthes the most neatly is drest,C 22 C1v 22
Comes the soonest to school, says her lesson the best;
Shall receive from her hand the reward of a book,
And what’s more, a kind word, an affectionate look;
For ten weeks I’ve been there e’er the bell has rung nine,
And in one fortnight more, the dear prize will be mine.
Well, dear, ’twas but eight a few minutes ago
So you may stop a moment, you’ve time enough now;
What’s the prize of a book? such nonsensical stuff,
If I want new books, aunt can give me enough,
I abominate reading, it makes one so dumpish,
And as to our governess, la! she’s so frumpish,
Miss do mind your work, do child sit upright,
Miss your frock is unpin’d, dear how badly you write.
Then if I am late she cries, Miss how you stay;
I believe in my heart you love nothing but play.
Love play! to be sure I do, so you do all,
Yes it sit’s truth, the great misses as well as the small.
Some primitive miss may protest that she don’t,
And you may believe if youryou please, but I wontwon’t.
Dear me how you talk child, I’m really amaz’d;
Such a parcel of stuff I believe you craz’d.
Pray what do you think our dear friends would all do,
If all little girls were as giddy as you?23 C2r 23
I own I love play; yes, none more admires it,
Yet I cheerfully work when my dear aunt requires it.
I make all the linen for her and my brother,
Indeed, I should blush were they made by another.
To assist in the household concerns, I arise
With the sun, nay, I sometmes make puddings and pies,
See the sheets and the tablecloths kept in repair,
Help wash, rince, and starch, when when the weather is fair.
For I’ve heard my aunt say, who lead indolent lives,
Are indifferent daughters, and make wretched wives.
Wives! well, ’twere worth while to be married indeed,
Were one forced to do nothing but work, write and read,
Why dear when one’s married the principal merit
Is dancing with elegance, betting with spirit,
At whist or at loo, Mrs. Giddy makes light;
If she only should lose fifty dollars a night,
And miss Tattle told me, a lady she knew,
Made nothing of losing a hundred or two.
And d’ye think when I’m married, that I’ll be confined
At home to make pies or the servants to mind?
No child I shall marry to live at my ease,
Eat, drink, dance, and dress, and do just as I please ;
But la! we’re fine folks to be prating away,24 C2v 24
About marriage indeed; come dear let’s go to play.
Play—no, my dear Mary, though I did not choose,
To hasten to school, I should surely refuse,
To spend my time idly, for I have to make,
Full fifty new garments for charity’s sake.
For dear do you know how many children there be,
As good, nay, perhaps who are better than we,
Without any home where to shelter their head
Without clothes, without fire, and sometimes without bread?
Dear me! is that true? now indeed I’m asham’d,
But I hope I am not very much to be blam’d;
Though yesterday morning I gave half a dollar
To buy little Pompey a pretty new collar.
And had I have known some poor child as you say
Might be hungry, I would not have thrown it away.
But see here, the last week when my aunt was in town,
She gave me to keep for her sake this French crown.
She bade me be sure and not foolishly spend it,
But I’m certain she did not forbid me to lend it,
’Twill buy them some linen, Lucretia do take it,
You buy it, and though I hate work, I’ll help make it.
How good you are Mary, I blush when I see,
In virtue you rise thus superior to me.25 C3r 25
The prize of true merit is surely your due;
And certain I am if our governess knew
How much you deserved it she’d give it to you.
No; No; It is yours, for my merit is small,
And compared with Lucretia ’tis nothing at all.
My flippancy henceforth I’ll strive to correct;
Strive to be like yourself free, from ev’ry defect.
And I thy benevolent spirit will join,
To the little industrious spirit of mine;
To be good as I can I’ll exert my best pow’r—
When I’ve nothing to give, why I’ll work for the poor.
For Two Young Ladies.
Dear sister, good morning, I’m glad we are met,
But pray what’s the matter? you seem in a fret;
Is your task yet unlearn’d, and our governess vex’d?
Is our mother offended?
Dear, no, I’m preplex’d;
You know that next Wednesday Miss Gay gives a ball.
Well, we both are invited――
But that is not all;
For I heard brother Tom tell mamma he would go,
On Wednesday with us to the play. Now you know
We cannot go to both; and it is so tormenting,
Because for the ball I had just been inventing
The sweetest new dress. But la! you don’t mind,
I vow I believe you are deaf, dumb, and blind.
Deaf! no, my dear sister, I never need fear
My auricular sense should be lost when you’re near;
But why thus torment yourself? Though I must own,
I dearly love dancing, and hop’d to have gone;
Yet I cheerfully could, should our mother desire,
Pass the evening with her by our own parlour fire;
And though fond of the theatre, yet I protest
Should I ne’er go again, it would not break my rest;
Abroad for true pleasure I never should roam――
Dear, dear! I’ve no patience! stay always at home?
You may if you please, but so will not I;
It would mope me to death, I should certainly die.
And pray what would signify all my fine clothes?
I must lay them in lavender, child, I suppose;
A calico wrapper would certainly do27 C4r 27
To stay prosing at home with my mother and you;
And then for amusement; perhaps we may drone
Over Gregory’s letters, or Madam Chapone;
Or read about Solon, Lycurgus, Cassander,
Old Numa Pompilius, or mad Alexander.
No amusement in such stupid books can I see,
What’s Solon or Numa Pompilius to me
Were I to read much of such stuff it would craze me,
I hate such nonsensical trash.—
You amaze me.
Dear sister, forgive me, indeed you’re to blame
So lightly to mention our dear mother’s name;
So truly indulgent, I’m sure that from you
Submission and grateful affection is is due;
I feel that our debt to her care is so large,
A whole life of duty would scarcely discharge.
Did we e’er make a wish but was instantly granted?
Yes; ’twas but last Monday, you know, when I wanted
A white stain slip, that she flatly refus’d me;
And you too, oh dear! how I could have abus’d ye,
To say our white lutestrings were yet very good,
You would not have another forsooth if you could.
It was cross to refuse me, papa can afford it,
What else can he do with his money, but hoard it.28 C4v 28
He’s rich enough――
Sister, I cannot endure
To hear you talk thus; though our father’s not poor,
In youth ’twas his frugal industrious care,
Made him now have enough, and a little to spare.
Then pray, my dear sister, reflect ere too late,
Had he then been profuse, what had now been our fate?
And say should misfortune, for who is secure,
Deprive our dear parents of wealth, leave them poor;
Should the ocean a part of his property swallow,
And by fraud, or by fire, all the rest soon should follow.
Say, sister, could we by our industry earn
Subsistence for them, and thus partly return
Their unbounded kindness to us; could we toil
From morning till night, and yet come with a smile
To wait on their persons, their meals to prepare;
And between us a servant’s employments to share;
Say could we do this?
Do stop and take breath;
Why sister! you frighten me almost to death.
I work like a servant, sweep rooms, make the beds;
Or patch the old clothes that are dropping to shreds?
No sister, no! no! you may do as you please,
But I don’t think that you could descend with such ease;29 D1r 29
You would feel some repugnance.
Indeed that is true,
I should feel for our parents, myself, and for you;
Yes sister, for you; when I heard you lament,
The time and the money you idly had spent.
But child this can’t happen; supposing it may,
I’m resolv’d I will never meet sorrow half way,
Why youth is the season for frolic and play,
Let to-morrow bring care I’ll be happy to-day.
And as to that meagre old ill looking dame,
Whose garments scarce cover her skeleton frame,
Madam Poverty, pray don’t bring her to my view,
With her thin purple lips; her nose pinch’d, and so blue!
I’m sure should she come our dear parents a nigh,
Tho’ I never could work, I do think I should die.
As you represent it, ’tis shocking indeed;
Attend, and the phantom shall quickly recede.
I know of a neat little tight finger’d dame;
In close cap and stuff gown, and Industry her name,
Her constant attendant Frugality stands,
And Cheerfulness forwards the work of her hands;
Whoever she visits, of care she’ll beguile,
And make e’en the children of poverty smile ;D 30 D1v 30
She brings what can never be purchas’d by wealth,
The glow of content, and the roses of health.
And believe me, dear sister, though we are so blest,
And not to have poverty, unwelcome guest,
Intrude on our dwelling, we both have a part
In the drama of life, and require some art
To act that part well.
Ah! sister, I find
Your sentiments just, though I thought them unkind.
Direct me, assist me, my sister, my friend,
To find out each error, correct and amend;
I’ll strive to be better, still following you,
And keeping your brilliant example in view.
Nay, do not distress me, dear girl, you have merit
Superior to mine; but your volatile spirit,
Pursuing gay trifles in every direction,
Deprives you of time for more solid reflection.
Well then from this moment indeed you shall find,
I’ll think less of my person and more of my mind.
Together we’ll study the peace of our mother.
And daily correct, and improve one another.
And what from superfluous dress we can spare—
The poor and the widow and orphan shall share.
We need not work much?
For ourselves, no, I grant it;
But we may do a little for those who may want it.
Then when one is idle, the other may hint her,
How many poor children want clothing for winter.
We’ll go out but little—
No, that’s a fix’d plan.
Yes, study as much as I can.
To make much of to-day we will constantly strive,
For we know that to-morrow may never arrive.
For Three Young Ladies.
’Tis a beautiful morning, come girls let us go
And rumage the shops; there’s an elegant show
Of caps, hats, and bonnets; some trim’d with a feather,
Some with flowers, some plain, the whole put together,
Enough to bewitch you; why don’t you make haste?
Because I shan’t go, I’ve no money to waste.
Mamma has just bought me a hat for the season,
And a dress for the balls.
Lud child, that’s no reason
For staying at home, when the shops are so full
Of fashions, of belles and of beaux.—
I’m so dull
Dear sister, to me ’tis no pleasure to fly
From shop, into shop, without meaning to buy.
Turning over the goods till they’re nearly destroy’d;
I think that we all may be better employ’d.
I think so indeed, now I have a plan,
That ’tis better than yours child, deny if you can.
As we’ve time on our hands, and the morning is fair;
Let us walk in the mall, for a little fresh air;
And when we return, by myself ’tis decreed,
While two of work, that the other shall read.
My dear lady Wisdom, now pray condescend,
To tell us what book you would please recommend.
Some wise and political treatise perchance,
On the pride of Old England and power of France;
Or Bonaparte, wonderful hero, display,
Holding kingdoms in chains, keeping Europe at bay,33 D3r 33
And striding about to decide all disputes,
Like Woglog the giant in seven league boots.
Or a juggler at cards, who so dextrous and nice,
Can turn all his knaves into kings, in a trice.
So misses your servant; I would not be bound,
To read such dull stuff for a good hundred pound.
Why Lucy, by this giddy rattle I see,
You are wiser by far, than your sister and me,
In political lore; now to me I confess,
Instruction comes best in a fanciful dress.
I like a good novel—
Hush child if you do
You must not confess it; your wisdom to shew,
You must rail and look grave, say they’re meant to mislead.
And say what you will, coz, they are so indeed.
No; not all; some few we may find,
Where piety, learning, and sense are combin’d;
Whose model is nature, whose pictures have art,
To shew life so true, that they better the heart.
But small is the number, while hundreds contain,
A slow subtle poison perverting the brain;
And who through a road wet and miry should wade34 D3v 34
To seek for a pearl some rich man had mislaid;
Would surely contract so much soil in the way,
As the price of the jewel would hardly repay.
Oh! mercy! oh mercy! dear girls let me go,
You’re so wise, and sententious, so learned, and so
Pedantic; I vow, but it is between friends,
I blush for you both, to my poor fingers ends.
I am glad you can blush! but pray let it be known,
You blush some for our faults, but more for your own.
Yet trust me, ’twere better while staying at home,
Read fifty dull novels, than thoughtlessly roam;
Waste your own hours of leisure, and heedless of care
Destroy that for others you cannot repair;
Besides sister Lucy the truth I must tell,
Were there less foreign fashions ’twould be quite as well.
Why Mary, that sentiment comes out so pat,
I believe in my heart you’re a strong democrat;
Who would talk of the internal strength of the nation,
Independently great; tho’ we’ve no importation.
Bid us tremble at Britain, who seeks to enslave us;
But honor NapoleanNapoleon, altho’ he dares brave us.
Sell our jewels and plate, and be spare in our diet,
To make up a tribute to keep Woglog quiet.35 D4r 35
For should he his seven league boots keep in motion,
Who knows but he’ll stride o’er the great Western Ocean.
He come! he ask tribute! why Lucy you joke,
Such a measure would age, and mere childhood provoke
To link in a band, place on heav’n their reliance,
And hurl at the murd’rous usurper defiance.
Of superfluous baubles myself I’d divest,
My food should be coarse, and as coarse I’d be drest,
I’d cheerfully yield my paternal estate,
To defend this lov’d land, from the tyrant I hate.
But girl as I am, if ’tis tribute requir’d,
I’d die e’er I’d give him one cent—
Most excellent patriot, tell me for why
Your voice speaks in thunder, in lightning your eye?
Say where is the nation his power has withstood?
He stole regal ermine, and stain’d it with blood;
Oh Mary, remember how Louis has died,
That Louis who fought on America’s side,
That Louis whose crown now encircles the brows—
Of Woglog the giant, as all the world knows.36 D4v 36
And which of us three has the power or spirit
To snatch off the crown or the head? for the merit
Were equal in either.
For shame, child, for shame.
I honour Napoleon, I rev’rence his name;
He’s superior to all the fam’d heroes of old,
Invincible, noble, intrepid and bold.
As Socrates wise; as the Macedon glorious;
As a lawgiver sage; as a hero victorious.
From such sages and heroes heaven save us, I pray—
And keep from our shores mighty Woglog away;
For he sets the most dreadful examples in life,
And between you and I, beats and locks up his wife.
Heaven help her, poor soul, she’s an empress ’tis true,
But I warrant she’s oftentimes pinch’d black and blue.
Her chains, tho’ of gold, she may keep for all me,
I’m content to be poor, tho’ I may but be free.
Oh, that’s not a point, child, so hard to be carried,
You’ll be poor while you live, and be free till you’re married.
But get on your bonnets, we’ll go if you please,
’Tis folly to talk of such matters as these;37 D5r 37
Let kings ask for power, and misers for wealth,
Let us only pray for contentment and health.
But health and contentment would cease to be ours,
Should heavenly peace quit America’s shores;
Oh! peace! gentle peace! beneath whose benign reign,
Best thrives the rich harvest that gladdens the plain;
Beneath whose auspices fair commerce sails forth,
Brings the gems of the east, and the furs of the north;
The treasures of India, Arabia’s perfume,
The pearls of Bassora, the spoils of the loom.
Beneficent power, thy pinions expand,
And shed thy best gifts on my dear native land.
In this we’re united, for this ev’ry day
From demos and despots I ardently pray,
Some power benign may deliver the nation;
But just now I confess, I’ve no great inclination
For that, or ought else, on my knees to be dropping;
I want to see fashions; come let’s go a shopping.
It is better befitting our sex, age and station;
So we’ll leave the more arduous cares of the nation—
To the wise and magnanimous lords of creation.
For Three Young Ladies.
Cousin, where have you been? oh, I see by your looks,
By your haste to get home, and your cargo of books;
Let me look at your list, one, two, three, four, five,
Six, seven, eight, volumes, as I am alive;
Well how do I envy you, dear do you know,
Mamma for the world would not let me do so,
She calls novels nonsense, devoid of all truth,
Say’s they poison the minds, and the morals of youth,
Paint life in false colours—
indeedIndeed, they do not.
Virtue always is charming though found in a cot;
Yes, lovely and charming, and all that is great
And marries a noble, and lives in high state—
And oh, what distress the poor heroine proves,
From cross fathers and guardians, the man whom she loves
Being poor and dependant—
forFor titles and pelf,
They make her wed one twice as old as herself;
Then such fainting and dying, ’tis sweetly alarming.
And then when the old husband dies, ’tis so charming;
The lover turns out to be somebody great,
A lord or a duke, with a monstrous estate,
Who makes her a lady and sweetly presents,
Pearls, diamonds and guineas as though they were cents.
Dear Lucy such nonsense can never be true,
For history holds no such scenes to our view.
Why don’t it?
noNo; surely, when I was at home
And read through the annals of Greece and of Rome,
I found no such wonderful stories, not I,
Nor was it so easy to faint and to die;
To faint was disgrace, but on some dread occasion,
And none would brave death, but to profit the nation.
Brave death, what is death for the good of the state?
Dear me, an’t it better to live and be great?
Yes, all would be great I am sure if they could;
But ’tis not a word very well understood.
Oh! I comprehend it—It is to be gay,
To have money to trifle and squander away:
To wear finer cloaths than the rest of our neighbours;
To laugh at the being who reasons or labours;
To turn all religion and virtue to jest,
To game, run in debt—
cousinCousin, now I protest
You are dreadfully hard—
yetYet these I belivebelieve
Are the principal virtues your novelists give.
Do pray let me rescue some few from your satire,
Miss Burney, her novels are copied from nature;
And others in excellent writing excel—
I’m delighted to hear it, now dear wontwon’t you tell
Mamma, that some few, in a moment of leisure,
I surely may read—
withWith both profit and pleasure.
But cousin, you know ’tis not often we see,
Girls rais’d from a low to an envied degree,
And acting with judgment—
nowNow do not say so;
There was Pamela rais’d but some few years ago,
From a plain country girl—
toTo a life full of care.
Made the wife of a lord—
aA lord’s follies to bear;
And tamely his libertine humours to suit,
Bear slights and contempt, be obediently mute,
To be sure! when by silent submission they prove
The extent of their confidence, honour, and love.
Then they share in the honours their spouse may acquire.
Now Lucy how foolish; who thinks to aspire
To titles and honour, whose birth is unknown,
Except in the page of a novel alone.
Nay, that’s your mistake, we have proofs here at home;
canCan you ask? why in madam Jerome,
Only think what a novel her life might produce,
And should it be written pray where is its use.42 D7v 42
A woman, a native Columbian, born free,
Weds a foreigner ’scaped from the storms of the sea.
He leaves her—
hisHis brother the emp’ror desired it,
She was not a princess, his honour required it.
And acted with honour, the man who complied?
And deserted a lovely, young, innocent bride.
She was but a citizen’s daughter, now here
She’s an emperor’s sister—
I’d rather, my dear,
Be the wife of a ploughman and live in a cot,
Oh, Ellen, how vulgar. I’m sure I would not.
Only think how delightful it sounds to the ear,
A duchess, and five thousand guineas a year,
To spend as she pleases.
Well rather let me
Be poor—and remain independent and free;
Or a citizen’s wife, for what title is greater,
A mild unassuming, but well inform’d creature,
Who knows how to manage her house.
What makes pies?
Soups, pickles, and sweetmeats! my dear I despise43 D8r 43
Such low bred employment, I rather would know
How to manage my husband――
ayAy, that you’ll allow
Would be better by half—
noNo! no! I would first
Learn to conquer myself—’tis a task child I trust,
You will own asks more energy, prudence and art,
Than had Alexander, or e’en Bonaparte.
Oh, hapless Napoleon, he poor silly elf
Would easier conquer the world than himself.
He may conquer the world, but I think he would find
’Twas a much harder task to subdue a free mind.
Every native Columbian should bid him defiance ,;
Spurn his titles and scorn his unhallow’d alliance.
I think I should spurn them if offered to me,
I should like to be great; but I’d rather be free;
And with all his fine promises, somehow should dread.,
That one day or other, he’d cut off my head.
My cousin, ’tis virtue alone makes us great,
Religion alone makes us free;—from this state
Of dependence and bondage when’er we arise,
And soar to our primitive region, the skies,44 D8v 44
’Tis virtue alone can conduct us—
Is the path hard to find; only point out the way.
Make religion your choice, your director through life,
Yes Lucy—read Cœlebs in search of a wife.
That’s not all, be the character there represented,
Only half so good, Ellen, would make me contented.
Well novels I’m certain may sometimes be good.
And my aunt, though severe, would not be understood
To pass sentence on all, no, where nature speaks out,
And religion is honoured, that novel no doubt
May be read with advantage;
thatThat novel would be
Allowed by my mother a lesson for me.
Such a novel she’d bid me peruse o’er and o’er,
are Edgworth, and Burney and More.
By each line they have written, the taste may be formed,45 E1r 45
The heart rendered better, its piety warmed,
The judgment corrected—
Yes, all that may be;
But they’re not exactly the novels for me.
I love runaway marriages, castles and spectres,
And libertine lovers, and gen’rous protectors,
And fighting of duels—
ohOh! pray dontdon’t proceed,
Such novels as that must be wicked indeed.
So let us dear cousins, resolve to read none;
But engross’d by our juvenile studies alone,
Strive to learn all the duties befitting our station,
And our honour’shonours will spring from our friend’s approbation.
Spoken by Two Young Ladies.
So Mary! my Father has sent for us home,
I wish to my heart that I never had come,
Only three weeks in Boston, and hurried away,
I’ve not been to a ball, and I’ve seen but one play.
Well Harriet you know when my father consented,
You promised to be with one fortnight contented,
It seems a great while.
To you child it may,
But to me it appears little more than a day.
So many sweet parties to which we’re invited;
And you know at the play we were both so delighted,
Even you must confess, if the truth you would speak,
You would like to go there ev’ry night in the week.
Indeed, I should not, I was pleas’d I confess,
It was something so novel, the actors, their dress:
The house, and the music, together combin’d,
Must forcibly strike on an uninformed mind.
Oh dear! ’twas delightful, drums, trumpets and firing;
And who couldcould forbear the brave lady admiring.
Well I thought I should die, when the soldier was bid,
To fire at the cask where Tekeli was hid.
And when he was fix’d on the old miller’s back,
They thrust the sharp bayonet into the sack.
I wanted to scream.—Then some are so witty,
The men are so droll, and the ladies so pretty,
I cannot go home.
Nay Harriet you must;
And when once safe at home you’ll be happy I trust.
Be happy! Oh yes—we must rise with the sun,
Eat breakfast most gravely, and when that is done
Look into the kitchen see what’s doing there,
Some custards, a pie, or a pudding prepare:
See the china and glass are all in their places,
Make a cap for mamma, or wash up her fine laces,
Or else in the parlour stuck up at my work,
Why Mary ’tis leading the life of a Turk,
Who is chain’d to the oar.
Nay surely my dear,
We have neighbours who visit us—
onceOnce in a year;
Prink’d out in their best, stuck all in a row,
Quite round our great parlour, they make a fine show.
One in a half whisper, to her who sits next,
Complains how she’s cheated tormented and vext,
The help are so dirty, so wasteful, so lazy,
Dear ma’m how are yours? mine drive me quite crazy.
Then the misses all get in a corner together,
First talk of the walking, the riding, the weather;
Of a cap, of a shoe-bow, a bonnet or feather;
Of some miss who is vulgar, or one who is sly,
Then titter and giggle, they cannot tell why.
Dear Harriet, your satire, though keen, is quite rude,48 E2v 48
This journey to Boston has done you no good;
My sister forgets, how sometimes of an eve,
A well chosen book, may the moments deceive.
A book! yes, I see us all just after tea,
Harriet, sweep up the hearth, says my father to me;
And Mary my darling go up to my room,
And bring down a volume of Rapin or Hume.
Our Harriet shall read. And then hapless I
Must drag through long chapters so tedious and dry,
About those who made kings, and those who dethron’d them,
And pilfer’d the sceptres from those who once own’d them.
What is all this to me? I’m sure I don’t care,
Who is king, or who queen, who at peace, or at war.
Of war my dear sister we know but the name,
Heaven grant we may never be wrapp’d in its flame;
Be my dear native land ever safe from all foes,
Nor Europe’s dread tyrant disturb its repose.
Well rail at this tyrant as much as you can,
I think Bonaparte is a brave little man;
So powerful, politic, hardy and bold,
He reminds me of some mighty giant of old.49 E3r 49
Like some fam’d necromancer, his wand he round swings,
And kings turn to mushrooms, and mushrooms to kings.
May the wand that’s so potent be ’reft of its pow’r,
E’er it touches the verge of America’s shore;
And the power to wield it be snatch’d from his hand
E’er such fungus should spring on my dear native land.
Well said dear miss Graveairs! but now for my part
I envy Louisa the prize of his heart.
The prize! oh my sister! the fates she should thank
Had she missed it. Poor girl! she will find it a blank,
Nay worse than a blank, for each column is soil’d,
Till the fair page of nature is totally spoil’d.
’Tis easy to say you would not be his bride,
That virtue is spotless which never was tried;
I’m afraid had the offer been mine I had borne
The weight of a crown, though ’twas lin’d with a thorn.
The thorn had pierced deeply, thy confidence shaken.50 E3v 50
Oh Josephine! slighted, degraded, forsaken,
Thou once wert an empress.—Thou once had his heart,
And Louisa may one day be, what thou now art.
No not if she’s wise, she’ll exert her best pow’rs
To humble this giant, and pay off old scores.
Were I in her place――
Dear sister no more,
Here, Thomas is waiting, the chaise at the door:
Then come dearest Harriet, our parents expect;
Shall we treat those dear parents with slight and neglect?
Our neighbours are waiting to hail our return,
Whose bosoms with friendly sincerity burn.
I cannot, I will not go home.
Well then stay;
Enjoy the gay scene that will last but a day;
Think pleasure will wait you wherever you go,
When sickness or sorrow approaches you’ll know
No hand like a mother’s can bind the pain’d head,
No hand like a sister’s can smooth the sick bed;
No voice like a mother’s can calm the sad heart,
No power like a father’s protection impart;
No friend like your Mary. Now Harriet adieu.going.
Harrietcatching her hand.
Stay Mary—my sister—oh let me go too.
I ask for no pleasure that home cannot give,
I wish but beloved by my parents to live,
I ask for no crown but the praise of my friends.
Then here my dear sister our short dispute ends,
We’ll be virtuous and useful, be kind and humane.
And when I desire to leave home again
May I marry a Bonaparte――
Nay that’s too hard.
Then worse my dear girl, may I lose your regard.
Now then we’re agreed, that wherever we roam,
To be happy for life, we must seek it at home.
Outline of Universal History.
1. History has always been considered as the light of ages, the faithful depository and true evidence of past events. Confined without it to the age and country wherein we live, and to such branches of knowledge as are peculiar to it, we are strangers to the rest of the world, profoundly ignorant of all that has preceded, or even at present surrounds us.
2. The study of history extends our knowledge, without it, we are liable to form false estimates of life, our ideas become either romantically wild, or illiberally contracted; but the study of history leads us from ourselves and the objects immediately surrounding us, to the contemplation of all that is great and praise-worthy in former ages. What is 53 F1r 53 the longest life, what the extent of country an individual may possess or travel over, what but an imperceptible point in the expanded universe; and the long series of ages that have succeeded, each other since the creation of the world? And yet to this imperceptible point must we be limited, unless we call in the assistance of history; which opens to us a view of every age, every country, brings us acquainted with the best and wisest persons of antiquity; sets all their virtues and faults before our eyes; and by the prudent reflections it presents, leads us to emulate the one, and detest and avoid the other.
3. It has been thought by some persons of the opposite sex, that the study of history is by no means necessary, to complete the education of women; but this is surely an erroneous opinion, for history is the common school of mankind; equally open and useful to all; every age, condition, and sex, may derive advantage from its study. Not only princes, ministers of state, generals, magistrates and ecclesiastics; but daughters, mothers, and mistresses of families, may there learn useful lessons; and study as in a faithful mirror, their respective duties.
4. History is a school of morality; F 54 F1v 54 it condemns vice, throws off the mask from false virtues, exposes popular errors and prejudices, dispels the delusive charms of riches, power, and grandeur, which are so apt to dazzle the imagination; and proves by example, which is ever more efficacious than precept, that nothing is great and commendable but honour and probity. It confirms this great truth, that virtue alone is man’s real good, and alone capable of rendering him great and praiseworthy. This virtue we are taught by history to revere and discern, even through the obscurity of poverty, adversity, and sometimes of disgrace, while vice is exposed in all her loathsome hues, though cloaked in purple, surrounded with splendor, and seated on a throne.
5. It is the best lesson a teacher can give a pupil. It at once entertains and instructs; it forms the heart and understanding; inriches the memory with abundance of facts as useful as agreable; it excites a proper curiosity in the young mind, inspires a love of literature, corrects the judgment, and improves the taste.
6. The Bible is the most authentic history, and should precede the study of all others; it is termed sacred history. 55 F2r 55 It is different from all other history whatever. It is the history of God himself—the history of omnipotence, the infinite wisdom, the universal providence, the holiness, justice, and mercy of the Supreme Being. This book is the most ancient in the world; and in it God has shewn us in a clear and certain manner, what he is, what we are and for what end we were created.
7. Other histories leave us ignorant in all these important points. They disfigure and dishonour the Godhead by numberless extravagentextravagant fables. They give us no insight into the nature of the world, which we inhabit; whether it had a beginning, by whom or to what end it was created; and we learn nothing of what we ourselves are, what our original, design or end.
8. Sacred history clearly reveals to us in a few words, that there is a God pre-existing before all things, and consequently eternal; that the universe is his work, called into being by his word only, thereby proving that he is allpowerful. It represents man coming from the hands of his Creator, a creature compounded of a body, formed of dust, subject to decay, and a soul breathed into him by God himself, spiritual intelligent and immortal.56 F2v 56
9. It describes the primeval, innocent and happy state of man; his fate through disobedience, and the twofold death to which he and his posterity was condemned. His future restoration by an all powerful Mediator, who is to form to himself a kingdom which shall last to all eternity, and to which all others shall give place. It is therefore essentially necessary, that youth of both sexes should early accustom themselves to study with serious attention, a history so venerable, so authentic and important; it is the foundation of our religion, it points out our duties, and inspires us from early youth with a respect for our Creator and Redeemer; serving as a check and barrier to that infidelity and impious incredulity, which has unfortunately been of late too much disseminated among us.
10. The omnipotence and wisdom of our Creator is manifested in the creation, preservation, and government of the world; by the facility, with which he establishes kingdoms, or destroys them, makes nations flourishing or miserable. His goodness by the profusion with which he bestows whatever is necessary, advantageous, or delightful, upon all the creatures of his power, even upon those, who neglect to thank him 57 F3r 57 for his benefits; who do not know him, who even offend and wilfully blaspheme his name. His patience in forbearing to punish his offending children with the rigour their multiplied and heinous crimes deserve, his justice in the sure, terrible, and inevitable destruction, which is certain at last to overtake the wicked. His universal providence, in presiding over, governing, and directing all, even in the minutest particular.
11. Though the world is supposed to have existed two thousand three hundred years before the deluge, we find after the fall of man, no record of any particular or extraordinary event previous to that awful judgment, which involved all living in universal destruction; but those preserved in the ark with the pious Noah and his family. The next great event is God’s covenant with Abraham, the great progenitor of the Jewish nation, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorroah by fire from heaven, on account of their wickedness. Then follows the famine which occasioned Israel and his family to remove into Egypt, where their decendants were oppressed with insufferable bondage, from which they were delivered by Moses under the immediate direction of God, about four hundred years after they had first enterredentered it.58 F3v 58
12. It contains a minute account of the sufferings, murmurings and miraculous preservation of the Israelites, during the forty years they sojourned in the wilderness; the delivery of the ten commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai. The conquest of Canaan; the rise and establishment of the Jewish empire; its conquest and captivity by the Babylonians; its restorationrestoration under the Maccabees.— Added to which are the prophecies, foretelling the coming of a Saviour, which were all fully accomplished four thousand and four years after the creation of the world by the birth of Christ. Of whose pure life, miracles, sufferings and death, the New Testament contains a full and authentic account. Also the lives and writings of the first preachers of the gospel, who were personal friends and faithful followers of our Lord. This book contains such plain and easy rules by which to form our lives, that the meanest capacity can comprehend them; and it is only by following them strictly we can become worthy citizens of this world, and candidates for eternal happiness in that which is to come.
13. About 2000 years before the christian era, Abraham was born. And from his son Isaac decendeddescended Jacob, afterwards called Israel, whose sones were the Patriarchs,59 F4r 59 triarchs, and whose posterity have always born the denomination of the children of Israel or Jews.—From his natural son IshmealIshmael, the Arabians are thought to be descended who are called IshmealitesIshmaelites. The famine which raged in the land of Canaan, in the days of Israel, obliged his children to remove to Egypt, where being strangers in the land, and the kings of Egypt being absolute and tyrannical, they sunk into an almost insupportable bondage; it was during this bondage they built the pyramids, for sepulchres for the Egyptian kings; those stupdendous monuments of human folly, some of which remain entire to this day.
14. They escaped from this bondage about 1500 years before Christ. They wandered forty years in the wilderness, and then engaged in a long series of wars and tumults with the nations inhabiting the land of Canaan. About the time that the Israelites escaped from Egypt, Cadmus introduced the art of letters into Greece, and Danaus the art of ship building. Troy was built a little before this period; and Sparta, Thebes, and Athens were founded. The olympic games were instituted a short period after. These games were celebrated every fifth year; and the Grecian method of dating their time by olympiads arose from those 60 F4v 60 games; an olympiad being four complete years.
15. They were contests in all the manly exercises, such as wrestling, boxing, running, chariot racing, &c. They were instituted in honor of Jupiter, and took their name from Olympia, a city near which they were celebrated. The noblest youths were eager for the prize of victory, which was no other than an olive crown, but esteemed as a most distinguishing ornament. These games continued while Greece retained any vestige of liberty.
16. Solomon the son of David, sat on the throne of Israel 1000 years before the christian era, and 3000 from the creation of the world. At this time the states of Athens and Thebes had set aside monarchy and become republics, and other states rapidly followed their example. About a hundred years before this period Troy was destroyed and, one hundred after Carthage was built. It was in the reign of Solomon that the celebrated Temple which bears his name was built. There were 163,300 men employed in the work, and yet it was seven years in building. Joshephus the great Jewish historian informs us, that the height of the principal tower from the ground was 1000 feet. The stones of 61 F5r 61 which the building was composed, were eighty feet long, twenty-four thick, and sixteen high, and yet were of such exquisite workmanship, that when put together they appeared like one polished rock of marble.
17. When Rehoboam the son of Solomon ascended the throne, the ten tribes revolted, and only Benjamin remained with Judah. Those who revolted having fallen into idolatry were in less than three hundred years carried into captivity by the Assyrians. At this period lived that great Spartan law giver Lycurgus, who new modelled the constitution of Sparta, banished vice and luxury, and established an entire new form of government. He persuaded the people to give up their possessions to the common wealth; so the citizens being in equality with each other in regard to riches, superior merit alone, conferred superior distinction.
18. About four hundred years after the division of the tribes, even Judah departed from the laws and testimonies, and fell into the idolatry of the nations. They were swallowed up in the general conquest of Nebuchadnezzar; their temple was burnt, the walls of Jerusalem broken down, and themselves carried captives to Babylon. About one hundred 62 F5v 62 years before the Babylonian captivity., Romulus was born, the founder of Rome, that vast empire which was afterwards styled the mistress of the world.
19. The great Grecian poet Homer lived about the time of the revolt of the ten tribes of Israel. His poem recording the wars of the Greeks and the Trojans was first sung, and we imagine was a kind of historical ballad. At the time of the Babylonian conquest lived Draco, the Athenian law giver, a man remarkable for justice, but rigid beyond human sufferance; and Sappho the celebrated Lesbian poetess who nourishing a hopeless passion for a young man named Phaon, threw herself from a promontory, into the sea; but the fabulists of the time tell us before she reached the water she was transformed into a swan. She was not beautiful; but her wit and talents have transmitted her name to posterity.
20. Solon succeeded Draco, as law giver in Athens. His wisdom, mildness, and extraordinary integrity, were well adapted to temper the severity of Draco’s laws. He repealed all his violent statutes except those enacted against murder. He reformed the calender, by reducing the year to such a form as was most agreeable to the motion of the sun. He obliged the Athenians to promise to 63 F6r 63 obey his law for the space of an hundred years, and their strict fulfilment of that oath rendered the state powerful, wealthy and flourishing.
21. In the days of Cyrus king of Persia, and conqueror of Babylon, about 536 years before the christian era, the Jews were liberated and permitted to return to Jerusalem. They reparedrepaired the wall of the city, and rebuilt the temple. When the foundation of this house of worship was laid, the youth rejoiced and shouted for gladness; but the old men and priests, who had seen the original temple, wept and lamented; for they said its like can never be again. In the days of Cyrus lived Pythagoras, the celebrated Grecian philosopher, who first held up the doctrine of the transmigration of the soul, which doctrine is held sacred in some parts of India to this day. In this early period Rome makes but a triffling figure in the annals of the world. It was an infant state, just emmergingemerging from obscurity; but even in those early days there were some few characters who gave shining promise of what the name of Roman would hereafter be.
22. Though there were statesmen, citizens and soldiers at that period, who did honour to the Roman name, yet I must be pardoned if I bring those of my 64 F6v 64 own sex forward. Among the Roman women who gave us eminent examples of virtue, fortitude and magnanimity, stands pre-eminently great Lucretia the wife of Collatinus; who when other women of her age and station were found, revelling, feasting, and engaged entirely in pleasure, was sedulously employed in regulating her household, and assisting in the performance of domestic duties. And when by treachery despoiled of her honour, nobly disdained to live, lest her example should lead the women of future ages to set a light value on their good name, and not sufficiently feel the reproach of living, objects only of mingled contempt and compassion.
23. Clelia was a virgin as remarkable for her beauty as her undaunted spirit; and in the very blossom of youth, being among the hostages sent by the Romans to Porsenna, king of Clusium, who was at that time besieging Rome, scorning captivity, broke from her guards, and heading the other virgins, swam on horseback across the Tyber, amidst the darts of the enemy. The senate dreading the effects of this breach of treaty sent them back to Porsenna, who charmed with the courage of Clelia gave her immediate liberty, and leave to select those of the hostages,65 F7r 65 ges, of the other sex, whom she chose, to accompany her back to Rome. Those who are still in their childhood, said she, are least able to bear the horrors of captivity, liberate them. She returned in triumph with her innocent companions, and the Romans erected an equestrian statue to her honour. These are examples worthy imitation, these prove how much is in the power of our sex to promote the honour and welfare of our friends and country, and let us ever remember if it is in our power, it becomes our duty.
24. On the return of the Jews to Jerusalem they were governed by their priests; but they soon became corrupt, and fell into such a state of depravity, that they erected an altar in the holy temple, to Jupiter Olympus, and offered sacrifice in the house of the Lord, to the pagan deities and idols. Many of the Jews forsook the religion taught by Moses and turned to idolatry, some through persecution, and some from a love of novelty, from lightness of morals, or weakness of understanding. When one MatathiasMattathias being called upon to abjure the faith of his fathers, he declared, that though the whole nation departed from the true religion, yet he would not; and seeing one of his countrymen about 66 F7v 66 to sacrifice on the altar of an idol, he slew him according to the law of Moses. An insurrection among the people immediately took place, and MatathiasMattathias found himself at the head of an army. His sons were the celebrated Maccabees, Judas the eldest of the five brothers was a great and successful warrior, and at length was elected prince of Jewry.
25. This taking in a period of nearly 300 years, it is scarcely possible to trace events as they passed in other great nations; but we may just sketch a faint outline of some of the most remarkable. The Spartans, beginning to decline in their successes, and Epaminondas the Theban, subduing them at the battle of MontineaMantinea, they engaging afterwards with the Phocians in the holy war, Philip of Macedon terminated the contest, for he sided with the Thebans and the Athenians were routed; but he used his victory with such moderation as to make peace and enter into an alliance with them. After his death his son Alexander the Great ascended the throne; this was -0364365 years before the christian era. The ravages and conquests of this Macedonian hero are well known; he conquered the Thebans, then the Persians submitted to his power, and having pursued his conquest into Asia and vanquished67 F8r 67 quished various nations, his courage degenerated into rashness; and presumption, cruelty, luxury, and intemperance degraded his former glorious character. After his death Greece fell rapidly to decay, and in the 0331331st year of the christian era, became a Roman province, tributary to Constantine the Great.
26. Of poets Anacreon, Pindar, and Aristophanes, are the most remarkable, who lived at this period. Amongst the philosophers Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, and Zeno. The great Athenian orator Demosthenes, lived -0299300 years before the birth of Christ. Of this truly great man, nothing is more remarkable, or more worthy imitation than his persevering industry in correcting the defects of nature. This illustrious orator and statesman was born in the last year of the 99th olympiad; he was the son of an industrious citizen, and being left an orphan at seven years of age, his guardians embezzled his property and left him only his talents for support. These in the early period of his life were very unpromising. He stammered in his speech, his carriage was ungraceful and his voice weak. To remedy the first defect he accustomed himself to articulate slowly, and sometimes to speak with pebbles in his 68 F8v 68 mouth; in order to strengthen his voice he used to repeat orations by the sea side, when the waves were agitated by the wind; his industry was indefatigable, and he not only conquered, but became one of the finest orators the world ever knew. His wisdom and integrity were equal to his eloquence—and Philip of Macedon finding it impossible to corrupt him, or bribe him to betray his country, said he was of more weight against him than all the Athenian armies; that he would willingly make him his friend, but all the gold in Macedon would not buy him. The celebrated Alcibiades lived in the days of Socrates, abutabout 100 years before Demosthenes.
27. From the time of Cyrus, the great emperor of Persia, whom we have already mentioned as enfranchising the Jews from captivity, till after Julius Cæsar the Roman republic was governed by dictators, the most celebrated of whom was Cincinnatus; then by twelve magistrates called decemvirii; this lasted about forty three years, when the dictators again were invested with the chief magistracy, which continued till the time of Julius Cæsar, who at first was united in the triumvirate with Crassus and Pompey. The former having fallen into the snares of a traitor, was massacred; the 69 G1r 69 second being driven from Rome by the successful arms of Cæsar, attempted to take refuge in Egypt, where he was assasinated by order of Ptolemy, the brother of the celebrated Cleopatra. Julius Cæsar being now sole magistrate, the greatest honours were conferred upon him by the people of Rome; they created him perpetual dictator, and gave him unlimited power; but great merit, or great good fortune, is sure to awaken envy, and create to the possessor many enemies. Brutus the bosom friend of Cæsar, and who had been loaded by him with benefits, conspired with many others the death of their benefactor. Cæsar like all liberal minded men suspected not treachery till he felt it; he was killed in the capitol on the --03-15ides of March. He was accused of perverting the power committed to his charge, and aiming at making himself emperor. The conspirators pleaded love of their country as an excuse for their barbarity; but it afterwards proved that ambition was their leading principle. Octavius Cæsar, nephew to Julius, was the first emperor of Rome. And Rome continued to be governed by emperors from that time till it was conquered by the Heruli and Turingians, 0473A. D. 473.
28. Of the great personages whose G70G1v70 names grace the Roman annals during this period, Cincinnatus has been already mentioned. Next to him come the generals Camillus, Fabricius, and Regulus; Fabius Maximus and Scipio Africanus. This was the golden age of Rome, when her glorious sons vied in rectitude with each other; dispisingdespising luxury, avarice, and its contemptible train of vices. Had the citizens and magistrates of Rome continued thus virtuous, thus simple in their manners, she had never fallen. It was not the arms of her enemies that humbled her to the dust, it was the weakness of her citizens in copying their follies and their vices. Cato so remarkable for his evenness of temper, and ardent love of his country, lived in the time of Julius Cæsar. The Roman orator, Cicero, was the ornament of the same age. Mark Anthony was also cotemporarycontemporary with them who having avenged the death of Cæsar, forgot honour, and even ambition, and became a slave to Cleopatra, by whom he was involved in irretrievable ruin. The poets Virgil and Horace lived in this century. The more nothernnorthern nations, the Helvitie, the Gauls, the Caledonians and the Britons began to be known about this time. Upon the island of Britain, Julius Cæsar made his first descent about -003536 years before the christian era.71 G2r 71
29. The princes of the Maccabean race filled the throne of Jewry till within a very few years of the birth of our blessed savior; when Herod the first of the Idumean princes, raised himself to the regal power by trampling on every tie of gratitude or honour; first dethroning, and afterwards murdering Hyrcanus the last of the Maccabean race, from whom he had received the highest marks of favour and friendship. Judea was at this time tributary to Rome, though the people were permitted an uninterrupted practice of their religious rights and ceremonies. Herod was king of Judea, and AgustusAugustus Cæsar emperor of Rome when Jesus of Nazareth was born. Before this the bodies of beasts had smoked upon the altars of both Jew and Gentile, and the Supreme Being had been represented as Lord of Hosts, and worshipped under various symbolical and distorted forms. But when the meek and lowly Jesus appeared, he taught mankind to address the Creator of the universe, by the affecting and endearing epithet of their Heavenly Father. He taught the evangelical principles of peace, unlimited benevolence, and forgiveness of injuries. He bade them reward evil with good, and do unto all men as they would that men should do unto 72 G2v 72 them. He taught them by example to set little value on the goods of this life, on honours or dignities, for he who was lord of the universe possessed none of them. But the Jews rejected him; they despised his lowly appearance, and meek unassuming manners. They condemned, derided, scourged, and crucified the Prince of Peace; who came to purchase for them eternal salvation. It was in the reign of Tiberius Cæsar this horrid scene was transacted, as if the depravity of mankind had arisen to such a height, that nothing but so great a sacrifice could reclaim them.
30. But all did not reject his holy doctrine, many thousands, both Jew and Gentile, followed his precepts, and embraced the faith disseminated by his disciples. Many gave testimony of their belief by sealing it with their blood. After the death of our Saviour, there were but two kings in Jewry—Herod III. surnamed Agrippa, who persecuted the Christians, and being smitten of heaven for his pride and presumption, died a horrid and loathsome death. His son Agrippa Minor, before whom St. Paul made his defence, was the last king. In his reign the Jews engaged in a long and destructive war with the Romans; but the vengeance of God, that justly offended73 G3r 73 ed God, whose Son they had barbarously crucified, pursued this devoted people. Jerusalem was beseiged by Titus, Vespasian’s son; the Jews suffered every calamity which war, famine and sickness could inflict. The miseries they endured was so great, and drove them to crimes so horrid, that Titus resolved to extirpate the nation. At length Jerusalem was fired by the besiegers, even the holy temple was burnt to the ground; and the whole city itself, by the conqueror’s order, entirely razed by the plough; so that according to our Saviour’s prophecy not one stone remained upon another, since which time the Jews have been no longer considered as a nation but are a wandering people scattered over the face of the earth.
31. After the decline of the Roman empire the Franks and the Saxons took the lead in the annals of modern Europe. The first having made themselves masters of Gaul, and the last of Britain, and about 0601 < x < 0700the seventh century, the Goths founded the Spanish monarchy. From that period those three nations seem to stand pre-eminent; they were the first converted to christianity, and though they have since divided into numerous sects, broaching different opinions, yet all agreeing in the hope of eternal salvation74 G3v 74 vation through the mediation of a merciful Redeemer. Modern Italy was divided into several states, and under various forms of government. Venice is the eldest of these states, Naples the next; and Rome became the seat of papal Government. The pope who was the head of the Romish church, being also a temporal prince. And if we take a view of the world at the time of Charlemagne, when modern history is generally accounted to begin, we shall find those parts of it which have hitherto fallen under our notice, were generally shared by three principal empires; the dominion of the Saracens comprehended Asia and Africa, from the Ganges to the Atlantic ocean; the western parts of the Roman empire were subject to Charlemagne, and Greece, Asia minor, and the provinces adjoining Italy were in possession of the now reduced Roman empire. It seems hardly necessary to observe that in the dominions of the Saracens mahometanism was professed, the eastern and western empires professed christianity.
32. The princes of the line of the Pharaohs sat on the the throne of Egypt till Cambyses king of Persia conquered it; and it continued part of the Persian empire till Alexander the Great conquered 75 G4r 75 Darius. At the death of Alexander Egypt fell to the share of Ptolemy, and remained an independent kingdom till Augustus Cæsar conquered Cleopatra. It was a Roman province when the successors of Mahomet, called Saracens, expelled the Romans about 0601 < x < 0700the seventh century. This people arose from the basest origin, to be conquerors of a very considerable part of the world. They first inhabiledinhabited Arabia Petrea and were distinguished for their propensity to thieving. They are a wandering desultory people, and their conquests and their religion began with Mahomet, who from a deceitful hypocrite became one of the greatest monarchs of his time.
33. He was born at an obscure village in Medina, his father was a pagan and his mother a jewess. His parents dying when he was but two years old Mahomet was sold to the IshmealitesIshmaelites; his master employed him first in the household drudgery, but soon discovered that he possessed an understanding deserving a better station, sent him as a factor into Persia and Egypt, and he acquitted himself to his own honor. Upon the death of his master he married his mistress; and being then wealthy, he relaxed in his attention to business and gave himself up to meditation. He became acquainted76 G4v 76 quainted about this time with one Serguis a monk, who persuaded him to join with him in forming a new religion. Mahomet desirous of distinction and formed by nature for imposition, entered into all his plans. He was subject to fits, and persuaded his ignorant countrymen, that these were trances in which he received directions from heaven concerning his new doctrine; he tamed a white pigeon so that it would perch on his shoulder, and seem to whisper in his ear; and this bird he said was a messenger from heaven. He retired to a cave near Mecca, and having kept himself concealed for some time, appeared again with the Alcoran; a book abounding with the grossest absurdities, and the blind multitude were led by this imposture to declare that Mahomet was commissioned by the Most High to declare his will unto men.
34. Perhaps a more calamitous period than this is not to be met with in history. Mahomet had broken down the altersaltars of adolatryidolatry, and taught the people to believe in one supreme being; but he sat himself as a greater prophet than the lowly Nazarene, and preached persecution to his deluded followers; he was a dreadful example of violence, enforcing his new religion with fire and sword. 77 H1r 77 But when continual divisions, both in Europe and in the Mahometan world, seemed to threaten destruction to the whole human race, a new contest arose— Palestine having been the scene of the life and sufferings of our Redeemer was regarded by the christians as holy land, and all christendom united to expel the Saracens from it. These contests were called holy wars, and the persons engaged in them were called Crusaders; they wore a red cross on their outward garments in token of their faith. Deluges of blood were shed by these mad enthusiasts, who were at length driven out of Palestine; but while the Europeans, and Saracens were thus engaged, the more eastern nations of Asia seemed threatened with total extirpation.
35. The Tartars, an eastern nation, began to rise into notice about the time that John was king of England. They had formerly been known by the name of Scythians, and were at the period just mentioned a powerful people, and in the reign of Jenghis Khan began to make the most ruinous havoc among the human race. Jenghis Khan was perhaps one of the greatest and most barbarous conquerersconquerors that ever disgraced humanity. He had been a prince of one of the small states of Tartary; but was deprivedH 78 H1v 78 ed of his inheritance while but a youth, which he did not recover till the age of forty, when he began his cruelties by throwing seventy of the chief rebels into cauldrons of boiling water. Nothing could oppose the impetuosity of his conquests; he overcame all the neighbouring princes, subdued and killed the great Khan himself, to whom both he and the other princes had been subordinate. He extended his conquests from remote Tartary and the confines of China, to Russia and the Persian shores. He seemed bent on exterminating the people he subdued, and employed his army in beheading 100,000 captives at one time. To give an account of the numbers slain by this remorseless tyrant during a six years reign, would seem to tax the credulity of our readers beyond all possible bounds. Yet history relates that fourteen million four hundred and seventy thousand, fell victims to his ravages.
36. Hulakin his successor pursued conquest with equal ardour and success, till by taking the city of Bagdat the Tartars put an end to the empire of the Saracens, and became masters of almost the whole of Asia. In 1301 < x < 1400the fourteenth century Tamerlane the Great spread his conquests far and wide; at this time the city of Moscow in Russia was taken and 79 H2r 79 pillaged by the Tartars. The descendants of Tamerlane continued to reign over this extensive territoyterritory more than 350 years. But the last prince of that family was dethroned by the Usbeck Tartars. A little before this the Turks under Othman or Ottoman the Great founded their empire in Bithynia. This prince was succeeded by a race of the most warlike princes mentioned in history. In 14531453 Mahomet the second took Constantinople, which has been ever since the seat of the Turkish empire. In the 1401 < x < 150015th century lived the first English poet of any note, Jeoffery Chaucer. Printing was also first invented in Holland, and at the close of this century the great Columbus rendered his name immortal by discovering the new world, of which we are now the happy inhabitants. It was in this century also, that useful instrument the mariner’s compass was invented—and that destructive compound called gunpowder began to be used.
37. There have been many and various revolutions in the different states of Europe, during 1600–1799the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; but they were of far less consequence than those already mentioned; merely affecting the nations where they happened, but of little 80 H2v 80 consequence to the world at large; if we except the separation of that immense tract of country, now called the United States of America, from the British government. And the horrible and unparalleled revolutions which within the last twenty years have not only deluged the Gallic nation with the blood of her best citizens and soldiers; but have shook to the very foundations almost every kingdom and state of Europe. Revolutions which must be reconedreckoned among the most extraordinary that ever were recorded in th annals of history. In that short period we behold a kingdom overthrown, a lawful sovereign dethroned, and with his unoffending family massacred. Religion forced to hide her dishonoured head, monstrous opinions disseminated, and every tie of morality or honour trampled under foot. We see from the ashes of this desolating conflagration a republic arise to all appearance beautiful, firm, and salutary in its effects to the suffering inhabitants of a ruined kingdom. When, behold an insignificant individual of a more insignificant Italian island, by some bravery, more intrigue, and unparalledunparalleled good fortune fixed himself at the head of the government, when by the most plausible and artful measures he won the 81 H3r 81 confidence of the people, overturned the republic, usurped the crown, and made himself an absolute monarch. Then this seeming fraternal friend, still farther to blind his infatuated subjects, and to make his own power more absolute, re-established in his own kingdom the Romish religion. Yes the man who in the early period of the revolution was almost an atheist, at a later period a Mahometan, now dared to profess himself a christian; while his hands were scarlet with the blood of thousands, systematically slaughtered, and his insatiate ambition grasping at every neighbouring crown, was planning usurpation, rapine and destruction to the nations round him. And while his lips professed to serve the God of peace and mercy, his actions bespoke a monster devoted to the powers of darkness.
38. It is out of the reach of human wisdom to ascertianascertain where the torrent of licentiousness and profanity which now inundates the nations where he has sway, will stop. Never, oh never, may it reach the hallowed shores of Columbia, to corrupt her citizens, or banish the becoming blush of modesty from the forhead of her daughters. May liberty, sacred liberty, ever flourish in this fertile soil; but may it be the chastened daughter of heaven who brings in her train truth, 82 H3v 82 chastity, and honour, and whose best supporter is religion. Religion thou first, thou best good, thou principle of gratitude and love, that lifts the soul above this nether world and bids it aspire to immortality. Thou who canst whisper consolation to the afflicted, soften the galling chain of the captive, and shed repose on the bed of pain and sickness. What is there this world can offer, that would compensate for the loss of thee? Does ambition offer unbounded power; or avarice inexhaustable wealth, or do both combine to offer pleasure in every variegated shape; is there a sublunary power that can secure to the owner one hours possession of them? Alas, no! Empires have been, men of all ages have abounded in wealth, power, and pleasure; but where are they now? gone—vanished as a dream. Swallowed in the gulf of oblivion; but religion, and particularly the christian religion, holds out the most blessed hopes; hopes which all who truly believe will one day find realities of joys unceasing, happiness eternal. Let us then my dear companions, pray daily that our friends and fellow citizens may never become apostates to this holy religion; but that they may say with the pious Mattathias of old, though all men beside should abjure the true faith, yet will not we.
Sketches of Female Biography.
While history with a pen dipped in the blood of millions wet with the widow’s and orphan’s tears, records the struggles of contending powers, and decks the conqueror with such gorgeous robes as hide the sanguinary stains which stain his polluted soul; while she relates the rise and fall of empires, tracing the steps of those who striding over heaps of their slaughtered fellow creatures, mount to the regal seat, and snatch the diadem from royal temples to place it on their own. Let us from scenes like these, of death and horror, turn to the fair page that registers individual merit. Biography is equally authentic, equally instructive, and in general, more interesting than history; it is calculated at once to inform the mind, improve the 84 H4v 84 taste, and amend the heart, and by presenting to our view excellence actually attained, excites in the bosom, a noble emulation to equal those who have gone before us; to young females, the memorials of exemplary women are peculiarly interesting. The importance of women in every civilized society is generally acknowledged, and their ascendence in forming the character of the other sex cannot be disputed; it is not alone to the nursery, or during the periods of childhood and youth, but in riper years, in the cabinet, in the camp, in almost every station in some way or other their influence is found to be unbounded. A woman who to the graces and gentleness of her own sex, adds the knowledge and fortitude of the other, exhibits the most perfect combination of human excellence; and since innumerable instances may be produced of female courage, fortitude, talent, and virtue of every discription, why should not we start forward with generous ardour in the pursuit of what is praiseworthy; and substitute for the evanescent graces of beauty the durable attractions of a cultivated mind.
There is no reason why we should stop short in the career of knowledge; though it has been asserted by the other 85 H5r 85 sex that the distaff, the needle, together with domestic concerns alone should occupy the time of women. That industry and a proper attention to domestic economy should have a due portion allotted them no woman of good sense will deny, yet when literature, or the study of the fine arts, can be engaged in, without neglect of our feminine duties, why may not we attain the goal of perfection as well as the other sex. Hypatia the daughter of Theon, distinguished for his astronomical knowledge, and who presided over the Alexandrine academy in Egypt toward the end of 0301 < x < 0400the fourth century, was educated by her father in the learning of the times and initiated into the most abstruse sciences. To a profound erudition she added all the accomplishments of her sex. She excelled her father in astronomy; and her talents recommended her on his death, to the presidency of the school, a station which she filled with honour to herself. The purity and dignified propriety of her conduct commanded general reverence. Consulted as an oracle of wisdom by magistrates, philosophers, and statesmen, she lived in the society of men with unblemished reputation. Modest but not timid, firm but not arrogant, she was visited and caressed by all; but her merit86 H5v 86 it proved its sterling value, by awakening the envy of the other sex. A conspiracy was formed against her, she was beset one evening returning from a visit, murdered, her body cut in pieces and burnt. But posterity has consecrated her name; her virtues and her talents from being the admiration, became the regret of the age in which she had lived.
We need not search in such remote antiquity for examples of female erudition and talents; in 1201 < x < 1300the thirteenth century a young lady of Bologna devoted herself to the study of Latin and the law; at the age of twenty three she pronounced a funeral oration in Latin, which was thought a master-piece of eloquence. At twenty six she took the degree of doctor of law, and at thirty her reputation raised her to a professor’s chair. And in 16601660 Lucretia Cornaro of Venice took a doctors degree, and was admitted memeber of the university at Rome. She was particularly skilled in Greek and Latin languages, and the mathematics. And the whole of her life was so pure, chaste, and temperate, that the academician who pronounced her funeral oration, extolled her above Pompey, who conquered three kings, for she triumphed over voluptuousness, ignorance,87 H6r 87 rance, and pride, and was perfect mistress over her own passions, a victory more praiseworthy and more difficult to achieve.
In a much later period than any of these we have mentioned, women of distinguished abilities and learning, have appeared in Europe. In 16361636, Susanna Perwich was born, who in very early life made the most rapid improvement in every accomplishment that might give lustre to the character of either man or woman. She was perfect mistress of music at 14 years old. She also excelled in needlework, writing, arithmetic, and every domestic virtue, nor was she less distinguished for intellectual powers; she had judgment, memory, invention, and taste, and to these were added modesty, gentleness, prudence, and good sense. She died with fortitude and composure in the twenty fifth year of her age. A few years after, that celebrated wit and author, Madame Dacier, shone forth among the literary consellations, a star of the first magnitude. She was mistress of the Latin and Greek languagages; translated Plutarch’s lives into French, also the Iliad and OddysseOdyssey of Homer.—And much nearer our own times Mrs. Macauly, whose erudition was 88 H6v 88 self attained, without the aid of preceptors produced a history of England superior to many, and inferior to none.
It would be absurd to imagine that talents or virtue were confined to sex or station. The human mind, whether possessed by man or woman, is capable of the highest refinement, and most brilliant acquirements. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth of England a Mrs. Mary Inglis attained to such perfection in the art of writing, that specimens of her performances are preserved in the library of Christ College, Oxford. She copied the Proverbs of Solomon, every chapter was in a different hand and all equally beautiful. This manuscript curiously ornamented with exquisite pen work, is now in the British Museum. Mrs. Inglis was not only a fine pen woman, but sensible, pious, and otherwise accomplished, and withall an excellent domestic character.
It is not the pursuit of any particular study, or the cultivation of the mental power, that will interfere with the moral duties or domestic virtues of a woman, half so much as frivolity, idleness, or dissipation. The exercise of brilliant talents in any profession whatever, does not 89 H7r 89 prevent the practice of virtue, though virtue gives dignity to every talent. In 1501 < x < 1600the sixteenth century lived Isabella Andriena, a celebrated Italian actress, not less respected for her talents and virtues than admired for her dramatic powers. She excelled in vocal and instrumental music, conversed with elegance in several different languages, understood philosophy, and the sciences, and had a fine taste for poetry. The academicians of Pavia conferred upon her the honours of their society. Her works were patronized by Pope Clement the 8th. She was an exemplary wife and mother, her death overwhelmed her husband with affliction. He erected a tomb to her memory, which was consecrated by the tears of all who knew her. The learned lamented her death in Latin and Italian eulogies; and the muses hung around her monument the choicest flowers of poesy. Mrs. Catherine Clive an English actress, was also as distinguished by her virtues as her extraordinary dramatic powers. Though unfortunate in the married state, and living separate from her husband, she preserved an unblemished ruputationreputation. She was a woman of cultivated understanding, and polished manners, economical in her own expenses, and extensively benevolent to 90 H7v 90 others. She died in the seventy fourth year of her age, and was interred in Westminster Abbey where a marble tablet bears testimony to her worth.
In enumerating the virtues of the female sex, their conjugal affection and fortitude, under the most trying circumstances, should not be overlooked. They are generally called the weaker sex, and perhaps through constitution, habit, and education in some degredegree they are so; but there have been numberless instances of women who have proved themselves adequate to every trial, that proves their attachment to their husbands, children, parents or country. A memorable instance of this is recorded of Chelonis, the wife of Cleombrutus, and daughter of Leonidas, two kings of Sparta. A faction having deposed her father, and set her husband on the throne, she refused to share the regal dignity with the usurper, and quitting the court, retired with her father in a state of humiliation and dejection, sharing his misfortunes, and soothing his sorrows. But when the fluctuation of human events restored her father to the throne and Cleombrutus was doomed to exile, she attached herself to the fallen fortunes of her husband; in vain her father entreated her 91 H8r 91 to stay with him. No my father, she replied, when you were unjustly depressed I felt it my duty to sooth your afflictions, my husband then had every pleasure at command, and you only the solace of my affection. The case is now reversed, you are restored to happiness, and he is banished, it is impossible that I can hesitate whether to remain with a happy king, or follow the wretched father of my children. So saying she put one of her children into the arms of her husband and taking the other in her own accompanied him into perpetual exile.
The magnanimity and conjugal attachment of this Spartan heroine is more than equalled by Eponina a Roman lady, whose husband, an ambitious wealthy man, during the struggles of Otho, Vittillus, and Vespasian, for the sovereignty of Rome, imprudently among others preferred his claim. Sabinus the husband of Eponina pretended to trace his lineage from Julius Cæsar. His claims were disallowed, the army he had brought into the field in support of them, entirely routed and himself forced to seek safety by flight. Knowing how impossible it would be to elude the search of his enemies while they thought him alive, he retired to a country house he possesed92 H8v 92 ed a few miles from Rome; where dismissing his servants, he shut himself up and setting fire to the house nothing soon remained but a heap of ruins. When the news was brought to Eponina, who had remained in Rome during the preceeding events, her grief was inexpressible; she refused all nourishment, and prepared to follow her beloved husband, but on the third day of her abstinence, a confidential servant of Sabinus appeared before her, and with great precaution informed her, that her husband still lived in the subterranean vaults belonging to the house which had been burnt.— To deceive his enemies she carried on an appearance of great sorrow; but in the mean time prepared to join her husband, which she did with such secrecy that no one imagined except the servant mentioned, but that she had fallen a victim to grief. Above nine years they remained concealed, at length the servant who supplied their wants was traced to the cavern, the unhappy Sabinus was loaded with irons, and with his wife and two children conveyed to Rome. In vain did Eponina present her children to Vespasian, and in an eloquent address entreat him to spare her husband and their father; he was deaf to her supplications, when rising with dignity, she cried,93 I1r 93 ed, with Sabinus I have been content to live nine years in the bowels of the earth, and with him now I am content to die. Her wish was granted and they were executed together.
Margaret De Foix, duchess D’Epernon is not behind these heroines of antiquity in true magnanimity, and that regard to the glory of her husband as led her to prefer death to his dishonour. In 15881588, the Duke D’Epernon was besieged in the castle of D’Angouleme, his wife and family at that time being with him, the commander of the enemy’s forces found means to seize the duchess, and with a view to compel the duke to surrender, placed her before the principal gate to which his troops laid siege. In this situation one of the officers by whom the duchess was led was killed at her feet, and another mortally wounded. Calm amidst the dangers that surrounded her, she was deaf to the remonstrances of those who urged her to exhort her husband to surrender, and magnanimously replied; I will never give him such ill counsel, I am only afflicted that I have but one life to offer for his honour and safety; how! shall I who would shed the last drop of my blood to add new lustre to his reputation, persuade I 94 I1v 94 him to an act of cowardice? Then stretching out her arms to the duke, who beheld her from the ramparts, she implored him not to suffer his resolution to be shaken by any regard to her safety. The grace and energy with which she spoke softened the enemy, they deliberated what course to take, and while they deliberated, the castle was relieved by a party of the duke’s friends, the duchess was rescued, and received from her husband those honours of which she had proved herself so worthy.
The courage of which women are capable has been evinced in numerous instances, and in none more conspicuously than in Boadicea, a British queen who lived while Britain was in subjection to the Romans. She was the widow of Prasatagus, king of the Icinii, who at his death, with a view of securing to his wife and two daughters the protection of the Romans, divided his possessions between them and the Roman governor; but the rapacity of this officer being not so easily appeased, he seized on the whole, and practised on the unhappy queen and her family the most brutal outrages. Boadicea having eluded their power, assembled a numerous army of adherents, and taking her daughters with 95 I2r 95 her in her chariot, harrangued her army in a strain of pathetic and manly eloquence exhorted them to revenge her injuries and extirpate these base invaders of their country and rights. Then led them forth to battle with undaunted bravery. But her own valour and that of her undisciplined troops availed little against the experienced Romans; her army was slaughtered, and finding herself likely to fall into the hands of the enemy, she voluntarily put an end to her own life.
The last action appears to have more of cowardice than true bravery in it; but the only extenuation that can be offered for such an act, is the barbarity of the times in which she lived. It is certainly praiseworthy to brave death in its most horrid shape in defence of honour, virtue, or religion; but to dispose of our lives wilfully, and by our own hands, is a crime of the deepest dye. This British queen is in my humble opinion surpassed in true courage by Blanche countess of Arundel, who in 16431643, defended Wardour castle against the parliamentary army in the reign of Charles I of England. At the time the army drew up before the castle Lord Arundel was absent. The countess took the command of the fortress, and when summoned96 I2v 96 ed to surrender, declared with heroic firmness that she would not, that she had orders from her lord to keep it, and those orders she would obey. She stood the siege two days with undaunted resolution, during which time two mines were sprung, which shook the castle to its foundation. In this extremity every female of the family, headed by their brave lady, assisted in charging the muskets, and administering refreshment to the soldiers; but all was ineffectual, the besiegers at length forced the gates, and the castle was given up to rapine. The countess, her female children and servants had their lives spared; but the two sons were torn from their weeping mother and carried away captive. There is a monument in the chapel of Wardour castle erected to the memory of this lady, on which, after the enumeration of her many virtues, is this inscription. Who shall find a valiant woman? The price of her is as things brought from afar. The heart of her husband trusteth in her.
Women have been represented as incapable of keeping a secret, and yet history records instances of their silence which redound much to their honour. I will mentioned but two, which may serve 97 I3r 97 in some degree to rescue the sex from the obloquy attached to tatlerstattlers. Tymicha, a Lacedemonian lady, who with her husband, was the first of the Pythagorean disciples, was with him summoned before the tyrant Dionysius and commanded to declare the mysteries of their sect. Dionysius finding nothing could be gained from the husband, threatened Tymicha with the torture in order to make her discover the secret which he had such a desire to know. The dauntless wife observing how much he relied on the weakness and timidity of her sex, just as they were about to bind her to the rack, bit off her tongue and spit it in the tyrant’s face, who perceived that courage and heroism were not sexual virtues. The other example is that of Leona, an Athenian lady, who being instructed with the particulars of a conspiracy against Hippias, was put to the most cruel tortures to make her confess; she bore them long with intrepid firmness; but being in the agonies of death, and fearing lest the excruciating tortures she endured should extort any thing from her, she heroically bit off her tongue. The Athenians erected a statue to her memory, on the base of which was represented a lioness without a tongue.
Though few of our sex are called to sway the regal sceptre; yet among those who have filled the important station of queen, many might be mentioned as examples of their political abilities; amongst whom may be reconedreckoned pre-eminent, Elizabeth queen of England. Called to the throne at the early age of 25, she filled it with dignity and propriety; tenacious of the honour of the British crown, she suffered neither slight nor insult from the other powers of Europe with impunity. She was the patroness of genius, the encourager of the arts, the mother of her people, and under her government England is supposed to have arrived at the zenith of its glory. Elizabeth was not only a great queen, but an accomplished woman. Her learning was deep and extensive, she spoke and wrote correctly five different languages. She wrote and spoke with facility, grace and elegance. In 15641564 she visited the university of Cambridge, and 1566two years after that of Oxford; when being greatly delighted with the exercises of the students, she expressed her satisfaction in an elegant Latin oration. She was skilful in music, and had a taste for poetry; she wrote many treatises in both Latin and English, 99 I4r 99 and some of her manuscripts are for their elegance and neatness preserved in the British Museum. She was a friend to religion and may be called the great reformer of the church. Few monarchs have succeeded to a throne under more difficult circumstances, nor have any reigned with more uniform success and propriety.
While we admire the dignified talents of a queen, our hearts involuntarily give their tribute of praise, mingled with a tenderer emotion, to those who in an elevated sphere blend with the talents necessary to their station the softer virtues. Anne of Austria, daughter to Philip III. king of Spain, and wife to Lewis XII. of France, was a woman of considerable political capacity; but is more to be respected for the tenderness and care she displayed as a mother, than for the talents of government evinced as regent; to which arduous post she was nominated on the death of her husband, when her son, Lewis XIV. was only five years old. In her government of the kingdom, and in all state affairs, she depended more on her ministers than her own judgment. But in the education of her children she never transferred to another the duties of a parent. 100 I4v 100 The first lesson of Lewis XIV. who was afterwards called the Augustus of France, were received from her lips. She anxiously guarded him from those persons whose precepts and example might corrupt his inexperienced youth; while with equal assiduity she sought to form his manners and communicate to him a portion of that gentleness and grace for which she was herself distinguished; neither did she neglect to inspire him with those magnanimous sentiments which became his elevated rank; she taught him to engage the affections of those around him, and to aspire to reign in the hearts of his people. Anne of Austria was estimable for the goodness of her heart, she sought to shame her enemies by forgiving them, rather than deter others from offending her by the fear of punishment. A woman who got her bread by ballad singing, had often posted herself near the palace, to sing songs which reflected highly on the queen. This woman was at last committed to prison, when Anne hearing of the misery to which she was reduced, secretly sent abundant relief, to the wretch, who had defamed and insulted her. And the last favour she asked of her son, was to recal a gentleman who had been banished for writing a libel 101 K1r 101 against her. A cancer was the cause of her death; she submitted to undergo a severe surgical operation and never suffered a groan to escape her. During her illness she was patient under excruciating pain, and more attentive to the ease and health of those about her, than her own comfort. For me, she would say, it is appointed to suffer, and I am content; but I need not communicate a part of my sufferings to those who kindly attend me, notwithstanding the loathsome disorder. She was in youth remarkable for her beauty, in particular for the colour and fine proportion of her hands and arms. When near her end, observing how emaciated her features were, how her arms were swelled and discoloured, and her whole frame debilitated; see, said she to those who surrounded her, what is beauty but corruption? the soul only is worth our care, that will retain immortal youth when the body is mouldering in the grave. She died universally lamented.
Perhaps there is no instance where native talents, aided by gentleness of manners, have raised a woman from the lowest obscurity to a throne, more remarkable than that of Catherine the first empress of Russia. She was the illegitimateK 102 K1v 102 imate daughter of a female peasant of Livonia, and at three years old was left to the care of the parish, by the death of her mother. A Lutheran minister pitying her situation, took her into his house, to wait on his children. At the siege of Marienburg she fell into the hands of General Baur who employed her in domestic concerns; and from his family she passed into that of Prince Menzikoff, where she was advanced to be the superintendent of his household. In this situation she was first seen by Peter the Great, Czar of Muscovy; who pleased with her manners, gave her a situation in his establishment, and soon after privately married her. From this period Catherine accompanied the emperor, in all excursions, whether for war or pleasure; nor did he undertake any thing of material consequence to himself or kingdom, without her advice; by which he generally was decided. In the year 17111711, when Peter was engaged in a campaign against the Turks, when the Czar and his army were in a perilous situation, Catherine by her policy and address entered into a treaty with the enemy, by which the Russians were rescued from imminent danger and enabled to make an honourable retreat. Peter was so sensible of the prudence, wisdom, and policy she evinced on 103 K2r 103 this occasion, that on his return to Moscow he publicly espoused her, and placed the crown upon her head with his own hands. At the death of the Czar she ascended the throne, and took the reignsreins of government. She reigned but three years. She was in her youth a pretty, but not a beautiful woman. She possessed good sense and a brilliant imagination. She reigned in the hearts of the emperor and his subjects, by gentleness and complacency. She never forgot a benefit received; and evinced her gratitude in a princely manner. She ever bore in mind the humble station from which she had been raised. Humanity and compassion for the unfortunate, were her marking characteristics, and in all cases she appeared the angel of peace mediating between the emperor and his subjects.
The sceptre of Russia appears to have been chiefly swayed by women, during the last century. Anne, Duchess of Courland, Elizabeth daughter to Peter and Catherine, filled the throne at different periods; and in 17621762 Catherine II. having deposed her husband, Peter III. ascended the throne. This empress may deservedly be classed among women eminent for talents, political discernment, and munificence. To speak of the benefits104 K2v 104 efits the Russians derived from the wisdom of her reign; she extended their territories, polished their manners, secured their liberties, and extended their commercial interest. She founded and endowed schools and universities, and encouraged the arts and sciences. She was the terror of her enemies, the delight of her friends, and an object of veneration to her subjects. Engaged in the government of a great nation, she found time for the cultivation of her literary abilities. She drew up a code of laws, which are the basis of the Russian constitution; and yet could humble her genius to write moral tales for the instruction of her grand-children, whose education she superintended; being frequently present at their lessons, and herself assisting their tutor to form their minds. The present emperor, Alexander, received his first lessons from this accomplished woman, yet the character of Catherine II. though so brilliant as a queen, was shaded as a woman. The premature death of her consort, Peter III. and prince Ivan, together with other errors, serve to convince us, that perfection is not attainable in this mortal state; and that if Catherine possessed the mental abilities of the other sex, if like them she aimed at, and acquired an 105 K3r 105 almost boundless power, like them also, she was capable of abusing it.
The female character may be deservedly styled great, when like Elizabeth and Catherine they can with firmness and propriety sustain the regal dignity; yet the union of masculine virtues, feminine softness, and christian meekness, form the most illustrious assemblage. It is examples of this kind that are most beneficial to youth, and most worth imitation. The name of christian unites in it all that is lovely and amiable in nature; it excludes not accomplishments, learning, fortitude, conjugal, filial, or fraternal love, is the only true basis of friendship; it renders doubly resplendant every virtue, evevery acquirement. This character we may contemplate in full perfection in the youthful, lovely, but unfortunate lady Jane Grey. This lady was daughter to the duke of Suffolk, and lived in 1401 < x < 1500the fifteenth century. Beautiful in her person, engaging in her disposition; the heiress of two great families, she suffered not the pleasures of a court to engage her attention, or corrupt her mind. She was endowed with a superior capacity, and uncommon powers of application. She at a very early age, became mistress of the Greek and Latin languages, and 106 K3v 106 she also acquired a perfect knowledge of the Arabic, Chaldee, French and Italian. She wrote a remarkable fine hand, excelled in music, and in all the customary avocations of her sex. Her temper was mild, her mind devout; and above all other pursuits, her duty to her Creator was her chief study. She is styled in history the delight of all who knew her. Made the tool of an ambitious courtier, the earl of Northumberland; who having obtained her for a wife to his son, attempted to impose her on the British as their queen, to the seclusion of the rightful Queen Mary, daughter of Henry VIII. She ascended the regal seat as a victim led to a sacrifice. She felt the injustice of the action, and though unable to resist, prepared herself for the end; and pathetically said, I look from the giddy eminence on which I am placed and see behind me the ax and the scaffold. She was sent to the Tower by Mary, tried and condemned to death. After her condemnation attempts were made to convert her to the popish religion; but neither arguments nor flatteries, threats nor promises, could shake the firmness of the youthful heroine. She passed her time in her captivity in prayer and meditation, and in writing letters of pious advice to her sister. She composed for 107 K4r 107 her own use, prayers full of fervour and devotion. When led out to execution, she acknowledged her sentence just; and refusing help, disrobed herself, knelt down, and after a short prayer, submitted to the stroke of the ax. And all this fortitude, piety, and learning was displayed before she had completed her seventeenth year.
Though I cannot quote an example from the elevated rank you have chosen, I will mention a young lady equally worthy imitation. Miss Anne Baynard, the daughter of a physician, was born in 16721672. Her father finding her docile and eager for instruction, took great pains in her education; at the age of twenty- three she was well acquainted with philosophy, astronomy, and mathematics. She was mistress of the Greek and Roman languages; her compositions in Latin were remarkable for elegance; she possessed a comprehensive mind, a retentive memory, and used to declare that it was a sin to be content with a little knowledge. To the endowments of the mind she added the virtues of the heart. She was modest, humble, and of exemplary piety. She counted human learning as nothing, but as it led to a knowledge and a love of God. 108 K4v 108 What is it, she would say, to possess the skill of Solomon in the works of nature, if we are not led by them to adore the God of nature? what is it to be skilful in astronomy and a knowledge of the heavens, if we never study by our practice to arrive at those blessed regions? She was extensively charitable, being particularly economical in her own expenses, especially in the article of dress, that she might have wherewith to clothe the naked and feed the hungry; she was averse to scandal, never listening to or propagating an evil report; saying it was enough for her to discover and amend her own errors. On her death bed she entreated the minister who visited her, to exhort all young people to a love of learning and a practice of devotion, as a sure means of contentment in this world, and of opening the prospect of eternal happiness hereafter. She died at the age of twenty five.
A much stronger instance of early piety is recorded of Miss Margaret Andrews, the daughter and sole heiress of a wealthy baronet. In almost infancy she gave evident proofs of her love of mental improvement, preferring reading and study to childish amusements and play; she had an utter detestation 109 K5r 109 of falsehood from the first dawning of reason, nor ever was known to tell a lie or prevaricate. Her mind was superior to worldly vanities, she was perfectly indifferent as to gay apparel, and though she submitted to wear clothes suited to her rank, she would remark of any costly article, how many poor hearts the value of them would make glad. She was fond of books of devotion, took great delight in reading her bible, and having taste and skill in music, devoted her voice and talents to the praise of her Creator. She often conversed of dying, as of a journey she was sure to take, and for which she must be prepared; sometimes when going to bed she would say to her attendants, how careful should I be how I spend the day, when perhaps this night may be my last. Her charity was extensive, her good will towards her fellow creatures universal. She died before she was fourteen. How should such an example allure the young, the thoughtless, and the gay, to a practice of that religion which confers such dignity, secures such lasting pleasure. The following inscription was on her tomb. She was a person rarely paralled, the delight of her parents, the ornament of her family. Her bosom was the temple of purity. The pomp of the world she 110 K5v 110 disdained. To the poor she scattered blessings, for the love of God was in her heart; her spirit made but a short visit to our world, then returned to its heavenly rest.
Mrs. Elizabeth Rowe was among those women who rank high as examples of talent and literature, united to exemplary piety. Her mind was very highly cultivated by her father, from whom she imbibed that spirit of devotion, which accompanied her through life, and supported her in death. At twelve years old she discovered great taste for the fine arts, particularly poetry, which she cultivated with success; many of her writing being highly valued by the learned and the pious. She possessed a most perfect command over her passions, and a servant who lived with her twenty years asserts, that she never saw her angry. She knew not indignation, except against vice. To firm principles and an elevated mind she added the softness and graces of her sex. Detraction appeared to her an inhuman vice, she loved to praise, and took a pleasure in doing justice to merit. She possessed such fascinating powers in conversation, that it was impossible to be in her company without being wiser 111 K6r 111 and better. Humility and modesty were her marking characteristics. She was temperate, cheerful, friendly, and affectionate. As a daughter, wife, and friend her conduct was uniformly sincere, simple, and unaffected, her taste for literature never led her to neglect the duties and occupations of her sex. She caused the children of her poor neighbours to be instructed, she relieved distress wherever she found it, and her delicacy doubled the benefits she conferred. While she lived she lived to the glory of her creator, and dying left testimony of her faith in his mercy, and her hope of a blessed immortality.
In every rank of life we shall not look ineffectually for female merit; from the cottage to the throne examples may be found to illustrate this great truth, that women like men are the creatures of education and habit. Mary Astell was the daughter of a merchant, whose circumstances were far from affluent; in early youth she displayed such acuteness and capacity that her uncle, a clergyman, undertook her education, being himself her preceptor. When but a girl she made rapid progress in the French and Latin languages, logic, philosophy and mathematics. From having112 K6v 112 ing experienced in the study of letters a fruitful source of independent pleasure, she became solicitous to impart to others the satisfaction she enjoyed, and to raise the general character of women, and rescue them from ignorance and frivolity. To this end she wrote several essays, addressed to the ladies, tending to the improvement of the female character. Mrs. Astell employed much of her time in literary pursuits; she was extremely averse to the frivolity of casual visitors, and used to dismiss such intruders by looking from her window, when they knocked at the door, and facetiously saying, Mrs. Astell is not at home. She was very strict in the observance of her religious duties, and being of the Romish church, is thought to have injured her health by frequent and long abstinence. Her death was occasioned by a cancer, which for many years she entirely concealed from her most intimate friends, notwithstanding the anguish she endured. When she perceived her death approaching, she gave orders for her coffin to be made and placed near her bed, as a continual memento. Her time was occupied in devotion, and she waited for death in the full faith that it was but a passport to eternal life.
One of Mrs. Astell’s most intimate friends was lady Elizabeth Hastings, whose virtues though exemplary, were silent and unobtruding. The character of this lady is given by Sir Richard Steele, in the forty-second number of the Tatler, under the name of Aspasia. Her countenance, says he, is the lively picture of her mind, which is the seat of honour, compassion, knowledge, and innocence. Admired by all who know her she is without affectation. She posseses the language and mien of a court, with all the simplicity and humility of a cottage. She is an exact economist without appearing busy, and strictly virtuous yet shunning applause; temperate, chaste, and simple in her habits, she devotes her time, her fortune, and the powers of her udnerstanding to the happiness of others. A lingering and painful disease put a period to her valuable life; on her death bed she assembled her friends and her household around her, and bidding them remark how the comforts of religion had supported nerher under the severest torture, in the most fervent manner recommended its constant practice to them. Though her birth was truly noble, it was eclipsed by her shining qualities; her modesty 114 K7v 114 was so great that nothing offended her more than to publish her good deeds. Her piety towards God was ardent and unaffected, and her benevolence towards mankind such as good angels are blessed with.
In reading the history of England I was particularly pleased with the character of Mrs. Margaret Roper, daughter of Sir Thomas More, who in the reign of Henry VIII. suffered decapitation; and I humbly convceive that for learning, talents and domestic virtue, she falls not short of any who have been mentioned. Margaret the eldest of three daughters was more particularly distinguished for her taste and genius; she acquired an early knowledge of the languages, and made considerable progress in astronomy, rhetoric, music and mathematics. She was also eminently pious, and when her father was under sentence of death said she had God and his promises to support her under her heavy afflictions, or she should utterly fall. Her last inverview with her father, by whom she was tenderly beloved, wrung tears from the guards who were attending him to the place of execution. After his death she procured his head, and caused it to be embalmed; and at her 115 K8r 115 own decease it was by her particular desire buried in her arms. History bears testimony to the virtues of this incomparable woman, as a wife, mother, and head of a family.
Though virtue in every state is admirable and worthy imitation, yet it is more conspicuously lovely in persons of an exalted rank; because their situation makes them liable to many temptations, to which those in a humbler station are entire strangers; besides which, exalted virtue in them is like a planet shedding its benign beams afar, lighting and cheering even those who are at a distance from its sphere. Mary, queen of England, wife to William III. was eminently distinguished for piety and every amiable virtue. Her body, says the historian, was the beautiful temple of a fairer soul. She was so gentle in her youth, that in the whole course of her education she never gave occasion for reproof. In more advanced life her whole deportment and conduct gave testimony of her piety; her conversation was in heaven, her life was a life of communion with God. Public and private acts of religion marked every day, particularly the sabbath, which she observed with great strictness, giving a bright 116 K8v 116 example of a solemn unaffected devotion. She endeavoured to diffuse a spirit of piety into all who came near her, especially her own household, whom she frequently instructed and admonished with the love and watchfulness of a mother; distributing among them good books, and encouraging them in virtue. Of time she was a diligent improver; she called idleness the great corrupter of human nature. She divided her time between needlework and reading, inviting her ladies to work with her, and often employing some one to read while the rest worked; she uttered no censures herself, nor ever suffered idle tattling and scandal in her presence. She made herself perfect mistress of philosophy, geography and mathematics. She spoke three languages correctly, and was so correct in proportioning her time to her pursuits, that the lesser cares were never lost in the greater. She rose early, and by this mean so lengthened her day that every employment had its proper place, all was done in order and nothing neglected. Her charity was unbounded, yet to the good only was she munificent in her gifts. Her reign was so pleasant to the subjects she governed, that they called her Mary the Good. She was a pattern of conjugal virtue, so that 117 L1r 117 on her death, when Bishop Denison went to comfort the king, he replied, how can I but grieve who have lost a wife who during her whole life was never guilty of an indiscretion.
The life of one pious person is but the counterpart of another; and those lives which deserve most to be had in remembrance are the most easily recorded. The uniformity of their tenor render them barren of incident, and yet they afford the most solid and valuable instruction; instruction which comes home to the bosoms of us all, addressing us amid our humbler occupations and retired scenes. To render piety and virtue alluring we have selected examples of the first rank in life, and those adorned with the elegant accomplishments, and embellished with profound learning; yet if we look into these we shall find however learned, however elegant, however accomplished, the duties of a child, a wife, a mother, a friend must be scrupulously fulfilled to form the finished character, and complete the christian. Such was the countess of Suffolk who lived early in 1601 < x < 1700the seventeenth century. Her powers of imagination, judgment and memory were extraordinary; her mind had been highly cultivated, and L 118 L1v 118 her life was such as did honour to her instructors, adding to all the moral virtues, the christian graces. She has said to have a gordgood memory, but where she was offended or injured she appeard to have no memory at all. She felt an unkindness deeply, but she never returned one. In affliction she was patient, and on the death of a beloved and only child, remarked he had been but lent to her, and she had no right to murmur when the loan was recalled. And as this lovely and accomplished woman devoted her youth to the service of her Creator, she was early admitted into his mansions of glory; she died at the age of twenty- two.
Thus we may see that neither youth, beuaty, talent, virtue, nor elevated rank are a security against the king of terror; and when we have read of great actions, profound learning, exquisite beauty, unbounded wealth, we learn at last that the possessor died. And is that all? no, their mortal part sinks to the house appointed for all living, their immortal souls ascend to the tribunal of their Creator, there to be doomed to happiness or misery, according to the use they have made of the period allotted them on earth. What then is the result, is the 119 L2r 119 body or the soul most worthy our care? How worthy imitation are those women who have justly appreciated this invaluable treasure, who in the midst of the temptations attendant on youth when accompainedaccompanied, and surrounded by affluence, chose for themselves the good part which can never be taken from them. Innumerable are the instances of virtue, piety and magnanimity of women; every page of history abounds with accounts that do honour to the sex. In early youth in mature age, in the full meridian of life we find of almost every nation exalted female characters. But it must be allowed that those have attained to the highest excellence who have enjoyed the light of revealed religion.
A celebrated female genius of 1401 < x < 1500the fifteenth century used to regret the disadvantages of her own sex, who by their habits, education and customs of society were illiberally excluded from the means of obtaining knowledge. This was Mrs. Elizabeth Bury, who was greatly distinguished for her quickness of apprehension, fluency of expression, and unremitting application. Her studies were various and profound, her writings critically pure and elegant; and she ever spoke with pleasure and gratitude120 L2v 120 tude of the obligations she owed to her father, for allowing her the means, and her preceptors for having opened to her the sources of intellectual enjoyment. The temper of this lady from her youth, was contemplative and pious; she extended her span of life beyond its usual period by husbanding every moment, and giving no more to sleep than necessary to invigorate and refresh nature. Summer and winter she rose at four in the morning, and having devoted the first hour to her Creator she spent the remainder of the day in useful or scientific pursuits, in some rational conversation, and acts of benevolence. She was cheerful and good humoured, was easy and agreeable in society, but preferred retirement. She was of a timid disposition, fearful of offending her Maker, and in her chamber and library, had this motto placed in a conspicuous part, God sees me, and she said it was a great mean of preventing her forgetfulness of the majesty in whose presence she constantly stood, and to whom she must render a strict account of all her actions.
Were we to proceed in enumerating the worthy, the pious, the magnanimous, the brave and learned, who by their talents, virtues, and acquirements have given121 L3r 121 en dignity to the name of woman, the closing day would find the task but just begun, and the revolving orb bring light to the eastern horizon, and still find the account unfinished. But permit me before we drop the interesting theme to express my full conviction that what women have attained heretofore, women may attain again. Man is no less an enemy to himeslf than to woman, when he would confine her attention to frivolous attainments. The domestic affections and appropriate virtues of the sex, modesty, prudence, and conjugal fidelity, far from being superseded by study and the liberal sciences, are on the contrary, both strengthened and embellished. The habits of reflection, which arise from the exercise of the understanding, are favourable to virtue, and the cultivation of the heart. The mind by seeking resources within itself acquires dignity and independence; dissipation and frivolous pursuits, enfeeble the understanding, and have a tendency to narrow and harden the heart. A being restless in the pursuit of pleasure, who lives only to be gratified and amused, becomes the burthen of society, the reproach of one sex and the scorn of the other. My beloved companions shall not we eagerly strive to avoid a fate so pitiable, so deplorable. 122 L3v 122 It is in our powers to become the friends and rational companions of our fathers and brothers, it is in our own power to rise into consequence, and make ourselves venerated. Others have done so, why may not we? But there is one obstacle, shall I name it? I blush to do so, but it is a truth so glaring that it were a folly to attempt to hide it; we love our own ease better than a good name, we waste the precious hours in listlessness, idle chat, and childish pursuits, which should be passed in study, in industry, in devotion; we forget, ourselves, forget our Creator, and sink the female name into contempt. Oh my dear companions, let us shake off this indolence, let us aim at excellence in all we do, let us seek knowledge, let us make the cultivation of the head and heart our daily care, and if we fail, let not the failure be our own fault. All have not mental powers alike, but all are capable of application, all cannot rise to excellence, but every one may by proper exertions escape insignificance. Let us then endeavour to deserve well, and we shall assuredly meet the approbation of the wise and good, reap the sweet reward of our industry in the smiles and approbation of our friends.
It is humiliating to our sex to reflect, that in those countries where the admiration of beautiful women is carried to the highest excess they are slaves, and their moral and intellectual degradation increases in direct proportion to the adoration which is paid to mere external charms; to such a length is this degradation carried, and of so little consequence are they deemed in the scale of intelligent beings, that the voluptuous prophet of Arabia excluded them from light, liberty, and knowledge, and from all the joys of paradise.
But in this happy country women enjoy the blessings of liberal instructions, reasonable laws, a pure religion, and all the endearing pleasures of an equal virtuous and social intercourse; thus favoured by adventitious circumstances, we feel our consequence increase from a knowledge of the influence our sentiments, habits and principles have on the characters of the other sex. If we feel this consequence as we ought, if as we are told the power of female elegance can soften and civilize the manners of those men with whom they associate, we shall not be content with captivating or entertaining them, we may aim at reforming them; and bringing into action powers the effects of which may be commensurate with eternity.149 O1r 149 nity. Female influence may be exerted to raise the depressed tone of public morals, and awaken the drowsy spirit of religious principles, without departing from the refinement of character, or blemishing that delicacy which is the brightest ornament of the sex.
Propriety is to a woman, what the great Roman critic says action is to an orator. It is the first, second, and third requisite; a woman may be knowing, active, witty, and amusing, but without propriety she cannot be amiable. Propriety is to the character, what proportion is to the figure, and grace to attitude. It does not depend on any one prefection, it is a combination of all excellence, it shews itself by a regular, orderly, undeviating course, and would be ashamed of such praise as might be extorted by aberrations from the right path. It is not loud in words, it displays itself in actions. Its love of virtue is displayed by a refinement of manner, a purity of look and language, a scrupulous delicacy of conduct. Its sense of religion by a meek and quiet spirit, a grateful and contented heart, by the honour paid by words and actions to the doctrines of Christianity, by a ready performance of all the good works of peace and mercy; and the whole tempered with cheerfulness, heightened by good nature, and rendered lovely by that habitual politeness, which makes an intercourse with our friends and inmates so delightful. Of what might not a woman of such a character be capable, how forcibly might her influence act upon the minds and morals of those men who moved within the sphere of its attraction. The profligate who laughs at every sacred institution, and who would turn with disgust from the voice of serious instruction or rebuke, may be awakened to a sense of his folly by the O 150 O1v 150 modest but spirited reproof of a delicate woman, whose life adorns the doctrines her conversation defends. And what man is so much a libertine as to breathe an improper word in the presence of her whose eyes and lips alike evince the purity of her thoughts and heart. Knowing then our influence on those by whom we are governed, supported and protected, let us jealously watch over our manners, and scrupulously regulate our principles; let us mark every step however inconsiderable whose tendency is downwards. Corruption is neither stationary nor retrograde, and she who has departed from modesty has already progressed towards vice. Let us then exert our influence with encreasing energy to discountenance that laxity of manners, that levity and irreligion which shews itself but too plainly in the young and thoughtless of our associates: for if we cease to resist, we shall be insensibly involved in the vortex, and ere we are aware sink with the multitude in the whirpool of immorality and infidelity. We are seriously called upon to use our influence to the honour of God and the well being of society, we are responsible for the use we make of our acknowledged power, wide is its extent, indefinite its effects, inestimable its importance. It invovles not only the happiness of the present but the principles of a future generation, and according to the examples we set, and precepts we inculcate shall the next generation arise and call us blessed; or whelmed in the abyss of depravity, execrate our memories, and at the great day of general retribution shall their loss be required at our hands.
These my dear schoolmates are awful truths, they should not be regarded lightly, merely assented to and forgotten; they should 151 O2r 151 be ever borne in memory to sitmulate us to all that is excellent and praise worthy. Let us remember life is but a short day—but it is a day in which much work may be done. Activity may lead to good, but inactivity is possitivepositive evil; when industry has no definite pursuit, when the mind and body have no exercise, when ingenuity has no acquisition either to anticipate or enjoy, how long, how dull, how miserable is the day. It is a few short but keen and animated pleasures snatched from the duties of a busy day, looked forward to with hope, enjoyed with taste, and recollected without remorse, which yield the truest portions of enjoyment. Let us then be ever usefully employed, and save ourselves from adding to the number of those objects of supreme commiseration, who place their happiness in doing nothing, who live to no end, and die without leaving a blank in society.
Many are the prejudices entertained, and the witticisms thrown out against what are called learned women; but surely a woman will not be less acceptable in the world, or worse qualified for performing her part in it, for having devoted a large portion of her early years to the cultivation of her understanding. Few women are entirely divested of domestic cares, yet the unmarried, and the wealthy, have surely many intervals which ought to be devoted to mental improvement; and the mind of a female is certainly as capable of acquiring knowledge, as that of the other sex; but if an enlightened152 O2v 152 ened mind must consequently be a conceited one it were better to remain in ignorance, since pedantry and presumption in a woman is more disgusting than an entire want of literary information, the one often awakens compassion, the other invariably excites contempt.
Whatever tends to embellish the fancy, enlighten the understanding, furnish ideas to reflect on when alone, or to converse on in public, is certainly well worth acquiring. The careful and attentive reading of history will enrich the mind with entertaining topics of conversation, and render us fit companions for persons of sense and knowledge, while a perusal of the best English poets will brighten the imagination, and give a life to our ideas, which will never fail to interest and charm those with whom we associate. Some of my young companions may perhaps enquire how are we to get time to toil thought huge volumes of history, or read with any patience poems that fill five or six hundred pages? I answer, by order, regularity, and habitual industry. There is scarcely any thing of more importance, and yet less attended to, than a cultivation of this habitual industry. Every hour as it passes, should have its appropriate occupation, and by a little skill we may so manage, as to blend instruction with amusement; though to weak and indolent minds the thing appears impossible. The thoughtless and inconsiderate receive instruction like a medicine, and nauseate the draught; but partake of the banquet of pleasure with insatiate delight. If we were to examine these different qualities with minute attention we should find they often differ only in name; many pursuits, where pleasure is the end proposed, produce only disgust and pain; whilst on the contrary those avocations which are attended153 O3r 153 tended with difficulty and labour, reward those who surmount them, with knowledge and honour. The great advantages of industry are oof such general utility, that it is impossible to enumerate them; those who are distinguished by any extraordinary qualities, are commonly indebted to industry for their superior excellence. Perseverance will enable us to succeed in almost every thing. The first initiation into any science, the first attempt to acquire any language, is tedious and laborious; but when by unwearied assiduity we have attained the summit, which at first appeared inaccessible, we shall find the path easy and delightful, strewed with flowers whose vivid tints brighten as we proress onward, and refreshed by streams of pleasure whose source is inexhaustable.
Though it is not necessary for a young womman to study with that closeness of application which is essentially requisite in the education of a boy, yet whatever we pretend to learn we should have ambition enough to desire to do it well. There are two sorts of understanding which prevents youth from arriving at excellence, the one is a lazy, the other a frivolous mind; the lazy mind will not take the trouble of searching to the bottom of any thing?, but will discouraged by the slightest difficulty stops short, and is content with a very superficial knowledge rather than submit to the smallest degree of trouble. The frivolous, is called off from the pursuit of knowledge by every trivial occurrence, pursues straws and feathers with avidity, and leaves the sterling ore of wisdom, to those who have patience and perseverenceperseverance to explore the mine in search of it. Knowledge, says an elegant writer, is a comfortable and necessary shelter for old age; but if we do not plant and 154 O3v 154 cultivate it with attention when young, it will afford us no shade when we grow old.
Order is a great requisite in the distribution of our time, and in this distribution it is essentially necessary, it is a bounden duty, to devote a portion of our earliest hours to the service of our Creator; though the properly regulated mind lives always under a just sense of the goodness, power, and wisdom of God, and conceives itself ever in his immediate presence; in all its pursuits seeks his honour, and with an affection blended with awe sedulously avoids willfully to offend him; yet that is not sufficient. The child who looks up to its parent for daily favours should not be backward in expressing his gratitude when they are bestowed, or a full conviction of the parent’s superiour wisdom when they are withheld. Of this my beloved schoolmates be assured, we can never be happy but while we live in obedience to his commands. Religion is so naturally implanted on the human mind, that even the most unenlightened savage, has some fancied being to whom he raises altars, and addresesaddresses his devotions. Human nature must be degraded to the lowest state of profligacy, and the soul be depraved and debased in the most shocking manner, before the characters of religious veneration written on it by God himself, can be entirely effaced. Religion, an particularly the christian religion, is established on the surest foundation of reason, scripture, and truth, and those who impiously level their attacks against it, will pass away as chaff before the wind; no person of real virtue will ever decry religion; it is only those whose unruly passions are unwilling to submit to its salutary restraints that will ever attempt to ridicule or deny its power. If ever, my dear associates, you listen to such people and adopt their idle 155 O4r 155 objections to the truth, you are undone, your hearts will soon be corrupted, and having a few times listened to their blasphemous conjectures, you will being to utter them yourselves. It is the christian religion alone which intimately unites us with the Deity, while we walk under her light, we are in no danger of losing our way. She never forsakes us in our distress; she makes us amends by her consolations, when death wrests from us those we most dearly love: she attends us even to the grave—in her bosom we live, in her arms we expire; while the soul trembling on the verge of eternity, looks forward with hope chastened by a deep sense of its own unworthiness, to that eternal felicity, that inestimable redemption, purchased by the blood of a crucified Saviour. My friends, my schoolmates! this is no fable, no reverie of a heated imagination; it is a truth, a great, a solemn truth. How many days have we passed without reflecting on its consequence? let us not delay another hour, for alas, the next may close our eyes in the shadows of death, may deafen our ears with the cold clods of the grave. Am I too serious? Is this terror at so great a distance that present fear is needless? alas who among us can say with perfect security, I shall see tomorrow? how many as young, as healthy, as happy as ourselves have passed from time into eternity without a moments warning. Have we not had an awful example in our little community during this last term? let it impress us with a sence of our own fragility. Be we then as the wise virgins, with our lamps trimmed and burning, that when our master calls we may be ready to obey. Indeed great would be our condemnation were we not so, for we have pious friends and instructors, if we are deaf to the voice of 156 O4v 156 admonition, double is our load of guilt. Our Preceptress has been urgent to impress this subject deeply on all our minds, I speak but her dictates, but my heart give assent to her reasoning, and hopes aided by the direction of my revered and pious relation, Rev. Dr. Porter of Roxbury, uncle to the young lady who delivered the address. never to disgrace the education I have received.
Mrs. Rowson would fain express her grateful sensations, for the support and encouragement she has received during fourteen years, in which she has been engaged in the instructtion of youth; but where gratitude is felt in the heart, words are but a poor vehicle to convey its meaning. She has hitherto endeavoured to prove hers by an assiduous attention to our improvement, to our health, to our manners and morals; she will henceforth evince it (though on a smaller scale) by the most conscientious discharge of her duty in her cultivation of those tender plants which may hereafter be intrusted to her care. She bids her friends most tenderly farewell—She will no more meet you on this annual day but the memory of your kindness will rest upon her heart, the warm sense of gratitude with which that heart glows can be chilled only by the hand of death.