But what I would now touch upon, is a word or two still more particularly upon the education of my own sex; a topic which naturally arises to me from the subject of my last letter. For there, dear Sir, we saw, that the mothers might teach the child this part of science, and that part of instruction; and who, I pray, as our sex is generally educated, shall teach the mothers? How, in a word, shall they come by their knowledge?
I know you'll be apt to say, that Miss Goodwin gives all the promises of becoming a fine young lady, and takes her learning, loves reading, and makes very pretty reflections upon all she reads, and asks very pertinent questions, and is as knowing, at her years, as most young ladies. This is very true, Sir; but it is not every one that can boast of Miss Goodwin's capacity, and goodness of temper, which have enabled her to get up a good deal of lost time, as I must call it; for her first four years were a perfect blank, as far as I can find, just as if the pretty dear was born the day she was four years old; for what she had to unlearn as to temper, and will, and such things, set against what little improvements she had made, might very fairly be compounded for, as a blank.
I would indeed have a girl brought up to her needle, but I would not have all her time employed in samplers, and learning to mark, and do those unnecessary things, which she will never, probably, be called upon to practise.
And why, pray, are not girls entitled to the same first education, though not to the same plays and diversions, as boys; so far, at least, as is supposed by Mr. Locke a mother can instruct them?
Would not this lay a foundation for their future improvement, and direct their inclinations to useful subjects, such as would make them above the imputations of some unkind gentlemen, who allot to their part common tea-table prattle, while they do all they can to make them fit for nothing else, and then upbraid them for it? And would not the men find us better and more suitable companions and assistants to them in every useful purpose of life?—O that your lordly sex were all like my dear Mr. B.—I don't mean that they should all take raw, uncouth, unbred, lowly girls, as I was, from the cottage, and, destroying all distinction, make such their wives; for there is a far greater likelihood, that such a one, when she comes to be lifted up into so dazzling a sphere, would have her head made giddy with her exaltation, than that she would balance herself well in it: and to what a blot, over all the fair page of a long life, would this little drop of dirty ink spread itself! What a standing disreputation to the choice of a gentleman!
But this I mean, that after a gentleman had entered into the marriage state with a young creature (saying nothing at all of birth or descent) far inferior to him in learning, in parts, in knowledge of the world, and in all the graces which make conversation agreeable and improving, he would, as you do, endeavour to make her fit company for himself, as he shall find she is willing to improve, and capable of improvement: that he would direct her taste, point out to her proper subjects for her amusement and instruction; travel with her now and then, a month in a year perhaps; and shew her the world, after he has encouraged her to put herself forward at his own table, and at the houses of his friends, and has seen, that she will not do him great discredit any where. What obligations, and opportunities too, will this give her to love and honour such a husband, every hour, more and more! as she will see his wisdom in a thousand instances, and experience his indulgence to her in ten thousand, to the praise of his politeness, and the honour of them both!—And then, when select parties of pleasure or business engaged him not abroad, in his home conversation, to have him delight to instruct and open her views, and inspire her with an ambition to enlarge her mind, and more and more to excel! What an intellectual kind of married life would such persons find theirs! And how suitable to the rules of policy and self-love in the gentleman; for is not the wife, and are not her improvements, all his own?—Absolutely, as I may say, his own? And does not every excellence she can be adorned by, redound to her husband's honour because she is his, even more than to her own!—In like manner as no dishonour affects a man so much, as that which he receives from a bad wife.
But where is such a gentleman as Mr. B. to be met with? Look round and see where, with all the advantages of sex, of education, of travel, of conversation in the open world, a gentleman of his abilities to instruct and inform, is to be found? And there are others, who, perhaps, will question the capacities or inclinations of our sex in general, to improve in useful knowledge, were they to meet with such kind instructors, either in the characters of parents or husbands.
As to the first, I grant, that it is not easy to find such a gentleman: but for the second (if excusable in me, who am one of the sex, and so may be thought partial to it), I could by comparisons drawn from the gentlemen and ladies within the circle of my own acquaintance, produce instances, which are so flagrantly in their favour, as might make it suspected, that it is policy more than justice, in those who would keep our sex unacquainted with that more eligible turn of education, which gives the gentlemen so many advantages over us in that; and which will shew, they have none at all in nature or genius.
I know you will pardon me, dear Sir; for you are so exalted above your Pamela, by nature and education too, that you cannot apprehend any inconvenience from bold comparisons. I will beg, therefore, to mention a few instances among our friends, where the ladies, notwithstanding their more cramped and confined education, make more than an equal figure with the gentlemen in all the graceful parts of conversation, in spite of the contempts poured out upon our sex by some witty gentlemen, whose writings I have in my eye.
To begin then with Mr. Murray, and Miss Damford that was; Mr. Murray has the reputation of scholarship, and has travelled too; but how infinitely is he surpassed in every noble and useful quality, and in greatness of mind, and judgment, as well as wit, by the young lady I have named! This we saw, when last at the Hall, in fifty instances, where the gentleman was, you know, Sir, on a visit to Sir Simon and his lady.
Next, dear Sir, permit me to observe, that my good Lord Davers, with all his advantages, born a counsellor of the realm, and educated accordingly, does not surpass his lady.
My countess, as I delight to call her, and Lady Betty, her eldest daughter, greatly surpassed the Earl and her eldest brother in every point of knowledge, and even learning, as I may say, although both ladies owe that advantage principally to their own cultivation and acquirement.
Let me presume, Sir, to name Mr. H.: and when I have named him, shall we not be puzzled to find any where in our sex, one remove from vulgar life, a woman that will not out-do Mr. H.?
Lady Darnford, upon all useful subjects, makes a much brighter figure than Sir Simon, whose knowledge of the world has not yet made him acquainted with himself.—Mr. Arthur excels not his lady.
Mrs. Towers, a maiden lady, is an over-match for half a dozen of the neighbouring gentlemen I could name, in what is called wit and politeness, and not inferior to any of them in judgment.
I could multiply such instances, were it needful, to the confutation of that low, and I had almost said, unmanly contempt, with which a certain celebrated genius treats our sex in general in most of his pieces, I have seen; particularly his Letter of Advice to a new married Lady; so written, as must disgust, instead of instruct; and looks more like the advice of an enemy to the sex, and a bitter one too, than a friend to the particular Lady. But I ought to beg pardon for this my presumption, for two reasons: first, because of the truly admirable talents of this writer; and next, because we know not what ladies the ingenious gentleman may have fallen among in his younger days.
Upon the whole, therefore, I conclude, that Mr. B. is almost the only gentleman, who excels every lady that I have seen; so greatly excels, that even the emanations of his excellence irradiate a low cottage-born girl, and make her pass among ladies of birth and education for somebody.
Forgive my pride, dear Sir; but it would be almost a crime in your Pamela not to exult in the mild benignity of those rays, by which her beloved Mr. B. endeavours to make her look up to his own sunny sphere: while she, by the advantage only of his reflected glory, in his absence, which makes a dark night to her, glides along with her paler and fainter beaminess, and makes a distinguishing figure among such lesser planets, as can only poorly twinkle and glimmer, for want of the aid she boasts of.
I dare not, Sir, conjecture whence arises this more than parity in the genius of the sexes, among the above persons, notwithstanding the disparity of education, and the difference in the opportunities of each. This might lead one into too proud a thought in favour of a sex too contemptuously treated by some other wits I could name, who, indeed, are the less to be regarded, as they love to jest upon all God Almighty's works: yet might I better do it, too, than anybody, since I am so infinitely transcended by my husband, that no competition, pride or vanity, could be apprehended from me.
But, however, I would only beg of those who are so free in their contempts of us, that they would, for their own sakes (and that, with such generally goes a great way), rather try to improve than depreciate us: we should then make better daughters, better wives, better mothers, and better mistresses: and who (permit me, Sir, to ask them) would be so much the better for these opportunities and amendments, as our upbraiders themselves!
On re-perusing this, I must repeatedly beg your excuse for these proud notions in behalf of my sex, which, I can truly say, are not owing to partiality because, I have the honour to be one of it; but to a far better motive; for what does this contemptuous treatment of one half, if not the better half, of the human species, naturally produce, but libertinism and abandoned wickedness? for does it not tend to make the daughters, the sisters, the wives of gentlemen, the subjects of profligate attempts?—Does it not render the sex vile in the eyes of the most vile? And when a lady is no longer beheld by such persons with that dignity and reverence, with which perhaps, the graces of her person, and the innocence of her mind, should sacredly, as it were, encompass her, do not her very excellencies become so many incentives for base wretches to attempt her virtue, and bring about her ruin?
What then may not wicked wit have to answer for, when its possessors prostitute it to such unmanly purposes! And as if they had never had a mother, a sister, a daughter of their own, throw down, as much as in them lies, those sacred fences which may lay the fair inclosure open to the invasions of every clumsier and viler beast of prey; who, though destitute of their wit, yet corrupted by it, shall fill their mouths, as well as their hearts, with the borrowed mischief, and propagate it from one to another to the end of time; and who, otherwise, would have passed by the uninvaded fence, and only shewed their teeth, and snarled at the well secured fold within it?
You cannot, my dearest Mr. B., I know be angry at this romantic painting: since you are not affected by it: for when at worst, you acted (more dangerously, 'tis true, for the poor innocents) a principal part, and were as a lion among beasts—Do, dear Sir, let me say among, this one time—You scorned to borrow any man's wit; and if nobody had followed your example, till they had had your qualities, the number of rakes would have been but small. Yet, don't mistake me, neither; I am not so mean as to bespeak your favour by extenuating your failings; if I were, you would deservedly despise me. For, undoubtedly (I must say it, Sir), your faults were the greater for your perfections: and such talents misapplied, as they made you more capable of mischief, so did they increase the evil of your practices. All then that I mean by saying you are not affected by this painting, is, that you are not affected by my description of clumsy and sordid rakes, whose wit is borrowed, and their wickedness only what they may call their own.
Then, dear Sir, since that noble conversation you held with me at Tunbridge, in relation to the consequences that might, had it not been for God's grace intervening, have followed the masquerade affair, I have the inexpressible pleasure to find a thorough reformation, from the best motives, taking place; and your joining with me in my closet (as opportunity permits) in my evening duties, is the charming confirmation of your kind and voluntary, and I am proud to say, pious assurances; so that this makes me fearless of your displeasure, while I rather triumph in my joy for your precious soul's sake, than presume to think of recriminating; and when (only for this once) I take the liberty of looking back from the delightful now, to the painful formerly!
But, what a rambler am I again! You command me to write to you all I think, without fear. I obey, and, as the phrase is, do it without either fear or wit.
If you are not displeased, it is a mark of the true nobleness of your nature, and the sincerity of your late pious declarations.
If you are, I shall be sure I have done wrong in having applied a corrosive to eat away the proud flesh of a wound, that is not yet so thoroughly digested, as to bear a painful application, and requires balsam and a gentler treatment. But when we were at Bath, I remember what you said once of the benefit of retrospection: and you charged me, whenever a proper opportunity offered, to remind you, by that one word, retrospection, of the charming conversation we had there, on our return from the rooms.
If this be not one of them, forgive, dearest Sir, the unreasonableness of your very impertinent, but, in intention and resolution, ever dutiful,
From Mrs. B. to her Father and Mother
EVER DEAR, AND EVER HONOURED,
I must write this one letter, although I have had the happiness to see you so lately; because Mr. B. is now about to honour me with the tour he so kindly promised; and it may therefore be several months, perhaps, before I have again the pleasure of paying you the like dutiful respects.
You know his kind promise, that he would for every dear baby I present him with, take an excursion with me afterwards, in order to establish and confirm my health.
The task I have undertaken of dedicating all my writing amusements to the dearest of men; the full employment I have, when at home; the frequent rambles he has so often indulged me in, with my dear Miss Goodwin, to Kent, London, Bedfordshire, Lincolnshire, and to my lady Davers, take from me the necessity of writing to you, to my Miss Damford that was, and to Lady Davers, so often as I formerly thought myself obliged to do, when I saw all my worthy friends so seldom; the same things, moreover, with little variation, occurring this year, as to our conversations, visits, friends, employments, and amusements, that fell out the last, as must be the case in a family so uniform and methodical as ours.
I have for these reasons, more leisure to pursue my domestic duties, which are increased upon me; and when I have said, that I am every day more and more happy in my beloved Mr. B., in Miss Goodwin, my Billy, my Davers, and now, newly, in my sweet little Pamela (for so, you know, Lady Davers would have her called, rather than by her own name), what can I say more?
As to the tour I spoke of, you know, the first part of Mr. B.'s obliging scheme is to carry me to France; for he has already travelled with me over the greatest part of England; and I am sure, by my passage last year, to the Isle of Wight, I shall not be afraid of crossing the water from Dover thither; and he will, when we are at Paris, he says, take my farther directions (that was his kind expression) whither to go next.
My Lord and Lady Davers are so good as to promise to accompany us to Paris, provided Mr. B. will give them our company to Aix-la-Chapelle, for a month or six weeks, whither my lord is advised to go. And Mr. H. if he can get over his fear of crossing the salt water, is to be of the party.
Lady G., Miss Damford that was (who likewise has lately lain-in of a fine daughter), and I, are to correspond as opportunity offers; and she promises to send you what I write, as formerly: but I have refused to say one word in my letters of the manners, customs, curiosities, &c. of the places we see; because, first, I shall not have leisure; and, next, those things are so much better described in books written by persons who made stricter and better observations that I can pretend to make: so that what I shall write will relate only to our private selves, and be as brief as possible.
If we are to do as Mr. B. has it in his thoughts, he intends to be out of England two years:—but how can I bear that, if for your sakes only, and for those of my dear babies!—But this must be my time, my only time, Mr. B. says, to ramble and see distant places and countries; for as soon as his little ones are capable of my instructions, and begin to understand my looks and signs, he will not spare me from them a week together; and he is so kind as to propose, that my dear bold boy (for every one sees how greatly he resembles his papa in his dear forward spirit) shall go with us; and this pleases Miss Goodwin highly, who is very fond of him, and my little Davers; but vows she will never love so well my pretty black-eyed Pamela.
You see what a sweet girl Miss is, and you admired her much: did I tell you, what she said to me, when first she saw you both, with your silver hairs, and reverend countenances?—"Madam, I dare say, your papa, and mamma, honoured their father and mother:"—"They did, my dear; but what is your reason for saying so?"—"Because they have lived so long in the land which the LORD their GOD has given them." I took the charmer in my arms, and kissed her three or four times, as she deserved; for was not this very pretty in the child?
I must, with inexpressible pleasure, write you word how happily God's providence has now, at last, turned that affair, which once made me so uneasy, in relation to the fine Countess (who has been some time abroad), of whom you had heard, as you told me, some reports, which, had you known at the time, would have made you very apprehensive for Mr. B.'s morals, as well as for my repose.
I will now (because I can do it with the highest pleasure, by reason of the event it has produced), explain that dark affair so far as shall make you judges of my present joy: although I had hitherto avoided entering into that subject to you. For now I think myself, by God's grace, secure to the affection and fidelity of the best of husbands, and that from the worthiest motives; as you shall hear.
There was but one thing wanting to complete all the happiness I wished for in this life; which was, the remote hope I had entertained, that one day, my dear Mr. B. who from a licentious gentleman became a moralist, would be so touched by the divine grace, as to become in time, more than moral, a religious man, and, at last, join in the duties which he had the goodness to countenance.
For this reason I began with mere indispensables. I crowded not his gates with objects of charity: I visited them at their homes, and relieved them; distinguishing the worthy indigent (made so by unavoidable accidents and casualties) from the wilfully, or perversely, or sottishly such, by greater marks of my favour.
I confined my morning and evening devotions to my own private closet, lest I should give offence and discouragement to so gay a temper, so unaccustomed (poor gentleman!) to acts of devotion and piety; whilst I met his household together, only on mornings and evenings of the Sabbath-day, to prepare them for their public duties in the one, and in hopes to confirm them in what they had heard at church in the other; leaving them to their own reflections for the rest of the week; after I had suggested a method I wished them to follow, and in which they constantly obliged me.
This good order had its desired effect, and our Sabbath-day assemblies were held with so little parade, that we were hardly any of us missed. All, in short, was done with cheerful ease and composure: and every one of us was better disposed to our domestic duties: I, to attend the good pleasure of my best friend; and they, that of us both.
Thus we went on very happily, my neighbourly visits of charity, taking up no more time than common airings, and passing many of them for such; my private duties being only between my FIRST, my HEAVENLY BENEFACTOR, and myself, and my family ones personally confined to the day separated for these best of services, and Mr. B. pleased with my manner beheld the good effects, and countenanced me by his praises and his endearments, as acting discreetly, as not falling into enthusiasm, and (as he used to say) as not aiming at being righteous overmuch.
But still I wanted, and waited for, with humble patience, and made it part of my constant prayers, that the divine Grace would at last touch his heart, and make him more than a countenancer, more than an applauder of my duties; that he might for his own dear sake, become a partaker in them. "And then," thought I, "when we can, hand in hand, heart in heart, one spirit as well as one flesh, join in the same closet, in the same prayers and thanksgiving, what a happy creature shall I be."
I say, closet: for I durst not aspire so high, as to hope the favour of his company among his servants, in our Sunday devotions.—I knew it would be going too far, in his opinion, to expect it from him. In me their mistress, had I been ever so high-born, it was not amiss, because I, and they, every one of us, were his; I in one degree, Mr. Longman in another, Mrs. Jervis in another—But from a man of his high temper and manner of education, I knew I could never hope for it, so would not lose every thing, by grasping at too much.
But in the midst of all these comfortable proceedings, and my further charming hopes, a nasty masquerade threw into his way a temptation, which for a time blasted all my prospects, and indeed made me doubt my own head almost. For, judge my disappointment, when I found all my wishes frustrated, all my prayers rendered ineffectual; his very morality, which I had flattered myself, in time, I should be an humble instrument to exalt into religion, shocked, and in danger; and all the work to begin over again, if offended Grace should ever again offer itself to the dear wilful trespasser!
But who should pretend to scrutinize the councils of the Almighty?—for out of all this evil appearance was to proceed the real good, I had been so long, and so often, supplicating for!
The dear man was to be on the brink of relapsing: it was proper, that I should be so very uneasy, as to assume a conduct not natural to my temper, and to raise his generous concern for me: and, in the very crisis, divine Grace interposed, made him sensible of his danger, made him resolve against his error, before it was yet too late: and his sliding feet, quitting the slippery path he was in, collected new strength, and he stood the firmer and more secure for his peril.
For having happily put a stop to that affair, and by his uniform conduct, for a considerable time, shewed me that I had nothing to apprehend from it, he was pleased, when we were last at Tunbridge, and in very serious discourse upon divine subjects, to say to this effect: "Is there not, my Pamela, a text, That the unbelieving husband shall be saved by the believing wife, whilst he beholds her chaste conversation coupled with fear?"
"I need not tell you, my dear Mr. B., that there is, nor where it is."
"Then, my dear, I begin to hope, that will be my case; for, from a former affair, of which this spot of ground puts me more in mind, I see so much reason to doubt my own strength, which I had built, and, as I thought securely, on moral foundations, that I must look out for a better guide to conduct me, than the proud word honour can be, in the general acceptance of it among us lively young gentlemen.
"How often have I promised (and I never promised but I intended to perform) that I would be faithfully and only yours! How often declared, that I did not think I could possibly deserve my Pamela, till I could shew her, in my own mind, a purity as nearly equal to hers, as my past conduct would admit of!
"But I depended too much upon my own strength: and I am now convinced, that nothing but RELIGIOUS CONSIDERATIONS, and a resolution to watch over the very first appearances of evil, and to check them as they arise, can be of sufficient weight to keep steady to his good purpose, a vain young man, too little accustomed to restraint, and too much used to play upon the brink of dangers, from a temerity, and love of intrigue, natural to enterprising minds.
"I would not make this declaration of my convictions to you, till I had thoroughly examined myself, and had reason to hope, that I should be enabled to make it good. And now, my Pamela, from this instant you shall be my guide; and, only taking care, that you do not, all at once, by injunctions too rigorous, damp and discourage the rising flame, I will leave it to you to direct as you please, till, by degrees, it may be deemed worthy to mingle with your own."
Judge how rapturous my joy was upon this occasion, and how ready I was to bless God for a danger (so narrowly escaped) which was attended with the very consequences that I had so long prayed for; and which I little thought the divine providence was bringing about by the very means, that, I apprehended, would put an end to all my pleasing hopes and prospects of that nature.
It is in vain for me to seek words to express what I felt, and how I acted, on this occasion. I heard him out with twenty different and impatient emotions; and then threw myself at his feet, embracing his knees, with arms the most ardently clasped! My face lifted up to Heaven, and to him, by turns; my eyes overflowing with tears of joy, which half choked up the passage of my words.—At last, his kind arms clasping my neck, and kissing my tearful cheek, I could only say—"My ardent prayers, are at last-heard—May God Almighty confirm your pious purposes! And, Oh I what a happy Pamela have you at your feet!"
I wept for joy till I sobbed again—and he raising me to his kind arms, I said—"To have this heavenly prospect, O best beloved of my heart! added to all my earthly blessings!—How shall I contain my joy!—For, oh! to think that he is, and will be mine, and I his, through the mercies of God, when this transitory life is past and gone, to all eternity; what a rich thought is this!—Methinks I am already, dear Sir, ceasing to be mortal, and beginning to taste the perfections of those joys, which this thrice welcome declaration gives me hope of hereafter!—But what shall I say, obliged as I was beyond expression before, and now doubly obliged in the rapturous view you have opened to me, into a happy futurity!"
He said, he was delighted with me beyond expression; that I was his ecstatic charmer!—That the love I shewed for his future good was the moving proof of the purity of my heart, and my affection for him. And that very evening he joined with me in my retired duties; and, at all proper opportunities, favours me with his company in the same manner; listening attentively to all my lessons, as he calls my cheerful discourses on serious subjects.
And now, my dear parents, do you not rejoice with me in this charming, charming appearance? For, before I had the most generous, the most beneficent, the most noble, the most affectionate, but now I am likely to have the most pious, of husbands! What a happy wife, what a happy daughter, is his and your Pamela! God of his infinite mercy, continue and improve the ravishing prospect!
I was forced to leave off here, to enjoy the charming reflections, which this lovely subject, and my blessed prospects, filled me with; and now proceed to write a few lines more.
I am under some concern on account of our going to travel into some Roman Catholic countries, for fear we should want the public opportunities of divine service: for I presume, the ambassador's chapel will be the only Protestant place of worship allowed of, and Paris the only city in France where there is one. But we must endeavour to make it up in our private and domestic duties: for, as the phrase is—"When we are at Rome, we must do as they do at Rome;" that is to say, so far as not to give offence, on the one hand, to the people we are among; nor scandal, on the other, by compliances hurtful to one's conscience. But my protector knows all these things so well (no place in what is called the grand tour, being new to him), that I have no reason to be very uneasy.
And now let me, by letter, as I did on my knees at parting, beg the continuance of your prayers and blessings, and that God will preserve us to one another, and give us, and all our worthy friends, a happy meeting again.
Kent, you may be sure, will be our first visit, on our return, for your sakes, for my dear Davers's, and my little Pamela's sake, who will be both put into your protection; while my Billy, and Miss Goodwin (for, since I began this letter, it is so determined), are to be my delightful companions; for Mr. B. declared, his temper wants looking after, and his notices of every thing are strong and significant.
Poor little dear! he has indeed a little sort of perverseness and headstrongness, as one may say, in his will: yet he is but a baby, and I hope to manage him pretty well; for he notices all I say, and every look of mine already.—He is, besides, very good humoured, and willing to part with anything for a kind word: and this gives me hopes of a docile and benevolent disposition, as he grows up.
I thought, when I began the last paragraph but one, that I was within a line of concluding; but it is to you, and of my babies, I am writing; so shall go on to the bottom of this new sheet, if I do not directly finish: which I do, with assuring you both, that wherever I am, I shall always be thoughtful of you, and remember you in my prayers, as becomes your ever dutiful daughter, P.B.
My respects to all your good neighbours in general. Mr. Longman will visit you now and then. Mrs. Jervis will take one journey into Kent, she says, and it shall be to accompany my babies, when carried down to you. Poor Jonathan, and she, good folks! seem declining in their health, which grieves me.—Once more, God send us all a happy meeting, if it be his blessed will! Adieu, adieu, my dear parents! your ever dutiful, &c.
My Dear Lady G.,
I received your last letter at Paris, as we were disposing every thing for our return to England, after an absence of near two years; in which, as I have informed you, from time to time, I have been a great traveller, into Holland, the Netherlands, through the most considerable province of France, into Italy; and, in our return to Paris again (the principal place of our residence), through several parts of Germany.
I told you of the favours and civilities we received at Florence, from the then Countess Dowager of——, who, with her humble servant Lord C——(that had so assiduously attended her for so many months in Italy), accompanied us from Florence to Inspruck.
Her ladyship made that worthy lord happy in about a month after she parted from us, and the noble pair gave us an opportunity at Paris, in their way to England, to return some of the civilities which we received from them in Italy; and they are now arrived at her ladyship's seat on the Forest.
Her lord is exceedingly fond of her, as he well may; for she is one of the most charming ladies in England; and behaves to him with so much prudence and respect, that they are as happy in each other as can be wished. And let me just add, that both in Italy and at Paris, Mr. B.'s demeanour and her ladyship's to one another, was so nobly open, and unaffectedly polite, as well as highly discreet, that neither Lord C. who had once been jealous of Mr. B. nor the other party, who had had a tincture of the same yellow evil, as you know, because of the Countess, had so much as a shadow of uneasiness remaining on the occasion.
Lord Davers has had his health (which had begun to decline in England) so well, that there was no persuading Lady Davers to return before now, although I begged and prayed I might not have another little Frenchman, for fear they should, as they grew up, forget, as I pleasantly used to say, the obligations which their parentage lays them under to dearer England.
And now, my dearest friend, I have shut up my rambles for my whole life; for three little English folks, and one little Frenchman (but a charming baby as well as the rest, Charley by name), and a near prospect of a further increase, you will say, are family enough to employ all my cares at home.
I have told you, from time to time, although I could not write to you so often as I would, because of our being constantly in motion, what was most worthy of your knowledge relating to every particular, and how happy we all have been in one another. And I have the pleasure to confirm to you what I have often written, that Mr. B. and my Lord and Lady Davers are all that I could wish and hope for, with regard to their first duties. We are indeed a happy family, united by the best and most solid ties!
Miss Goodwin is a charming young lady!—I cannot express how much I love her. She is a perfect mistress of the French language and speaks Italian very prettily! And, as to myself, I have improved so well under my dear tutor's lessons, together with the opportunity of conversing with the politest and most learned gentry of different nations, that I will discourse with you in two or three languages, if you please, when I have the happiness to see you. There's a learned boaster for you, my dear friend! (if the knowledge of different languages makes one learned.)—But I shall bring you an heart as entirely English as ever, for all that!
We landed on Thursday last at Dover, and directed our course to the dear farm-house; and you can better imagine, than I express, our meeting with my dear father and mother, and my beloved Davers and Pamela, who are charming babies.—But is not this the language of every fond mamma?
Miss Goodwin is highly delighted now with my sweet little Pamela, and says, she shall be her sister indeed! "For, Madam," said she, "Miss is a beauty!—And we see no French beauties like Master Davers and Miss."—"Beauty! my dear," said I; "what is beauty, if she be not a good girl? Beauty is but a specious, and, as it may happen, a dangerous recommendation, a mere skin-deep perfection; and if, as she grows up, she is not as good as Miss Goodwin, she shall be none of my girl."
What adds to my pleasure, my dear friend, is to see them both so well got over the small-pox. It has been as happy for them, as it was for their mamma and her Billy, that they had it under so skilful and kind a manager in that distemper, as my dear mother. I wish if it please God, it was as happily over with my little pretty Frenchman.
Every body is surprised to see what the past two years have done for Miss Goodwin and my Billy.—O, my dear friend, they are both of them almost—nay, quite, I think, for their years, all that I wish them to be. In order to make them keep their French, which Miss so well speaks, and Billy so prettily prattles, I oblige them, when they are in the nursery, to speak nothing else: but at table, except on particular occasions, when French may be spoken, they are to speak in English; that is, when they do speak: for I tell them, that little masters must only ask questions for information, and say—"Yes," or—"No," till their papas or mammas permit them to speak; nor little ladies neither, till they are sixteen; for—"My dear loves," cry I, "you would not speak before you know how; and knowledge is obtained by hearing, and not by speaking." And setting my Billy on my lap, in Miss's presence—"Here," said I, taking an ear in the fingers of each hand, "are two ears, my Billy," and then, pointing to his mouth, "but one tongue, my love; so you must be sure to mind that you hear twice as much as you speak, even when you grow a bigger master than you are now."
"You have so many pretty ways to learn one, Madam," says Miss, now and then, "that it is impossible we should not regard what you say to us!" Several French tutors, when we were abroad, were recommended to Mr. B. But there is one English gentleman, now on his travels with young Mr. R. with whom Mr. B. has agreed; and in the mean time, my best friend is pleased to compliment me, that the children will not suffer for want of a tutor, while I can take the pains I do: which he will have to be too much for me: especially that now, on our return, my Davers and my Pamela are added to my cares. But what mother can take too much pains to cultivate the minds of her children?—If, my dear Lady G., it were not for these frequent lyings-in!—But this is the time of life.—Though little did I think, so early, I should have so many careful blessings!
I have as great credit as pleasure from my little family. All our neighbours here admire us more and more. You'll excuse my seeming (for it is but seeming) vanity: I hope I know better than to have it real—"Never," says Mrs. Towers, who is still a single lady, "did I see, before, a lady so much advantaged by her residence in that fantastic nation" (for she loves not the French) "who brought home with her nothing of their affectation!"—She says, that the French politeness, and the English frankness and plainness of heart, appear happily blended in all we say and do. And she makes me a thousand compliments upon Lord and Lady Davers's account, who, she would fain persuade me, owe a great deal of improvement (my lord in his conversation, and my lady in her temper) to living in the same house with us.
My Lady Davers is exceeding kind and good to me, is always magnifying me to every body, and says she knows not how to live from me: and that I have been a means of saving half a hundred souls, as well as her dear brother's. On an indisposition of my Lord's at Montpellier, which made her very apprehensive, she declared, that were she to be deprived of his lordship, she would not let us rest till we had consented to her living with us; saying that we had room enough in Lincolnshire, and she would enlarge the Bedfordshire seat at her own expense.
Mr. H. is Mr. H. still; and that's the best I can say of him; for I verily think, he is more of an ape than ever. His whole head is now French. 'Twas half so before. We had great difficulties with him abroad: his aunt and I endeavouring to give him a serious and religious turn, we had like to have turned him into a Roman Catholic. For he was much pleased with the shewy part of that religion, and the fine pictures, and decorations in the churches of Italy; and having got into company with a Dominican at Padua, a Franciscan at Milan, and a Jesuit at Paris, they lay so hard at him, in their turns, that we had like to have lost him to each assailant: so were forced to let him take his own course; for, his aunt would have it, that he had no other defence from the attacks of persons to make him embrace a faulty religion, than to permit him to continue as he was; that is to say, to have none at all. So she suspended attempting to proselyte the thoughtless creature, till he came to England. I wish her success here: but, I doubt, he will not be a credit to any religion, for a great while. And as he is very desirous to go to London, it will be found, when there, that any fluttering coxcomb will do more to make him one of that class, in an hour, than his aunt's lessons, to make him a good man, in a twelvemonth. "Where much is given, much is required." The contrary of this, I doubt, is all poor Mr. H. has to trust to.
We have just now heard that his father, who has been long ill, is dead. So now, he is a lord indeed! He flutters and starts about most strangely, I warrant, and is wholly employed in giving directions as to his mourning equipage.—And now there will be no holding him in, I doubt; except his new title has so much virtue in it, as to make him a wiser and better man.
He will now have a seat in the House of Peers of Great Britain; but I hope, for the nation's sake, he will not find many more like himself there!—For, to me, that is one of the most venerable assemblies in the world; and it appears the more so, since I have been abroad; for an English gentleman is respected, if he be any thing of a man, above a foreign nobleman; and an English nobleman above some petty sovereigns.
If our travelling gentry duly considered this distinction in their favour, they would, for the honour of their country, as well as for their own credit, behave in a better manner, in their foreign tours, than, I am sorry to say, some of them do. But what can one expect from the unlicked cubs (pardon the term) sent abroad with only stature, to make them look like men, and equipage to attract respect, without one other qualification to enforce it?
Here let me close this, with a few tears, to the memory of my dear Mrs. Jervis, my other mother, my friend, my adviser, my protectress, in my single state; and my faithful second and partaker in the comforts of my higher life, and better fortunes!
What would I have given to have been present, as it seems, she so earnestly wished, to close her dying eyes! I should have done it with the piety and the concern of a truly affectionate daughter. But that melancholy happiness was denied to us both; for, as I told you in the letter on the occasion, the dear good woman (who is now in the possession of her blessed reward, and rejoicing in God's mercies) was no more, when the news reached me, so far off as Heidelburgh, of her last illness and wishes.
I cannot forbear, every time I enter her parlour (where I used to see, with so much delight, the good woman sitting, always employed in some useful or pious work), shedding a tear to her memory; and in my Sabbath duties, missing her, I miss half a dozen friends, methinks; and I sigh in remembrance of her; and can only recover that cheerful frame, which the performance of those duties always gave me, by reflecting, that she is now reaping the reward of that sincere piety, which used to edify and encourage us all.
The servants we brought home, and those we left behind, melt in tears at the name of Mrs. Jervis. Mr. Longman, too, lamented the loss of her, in the most moving strain. And all I can do now, in honour of her memory and her merit, is to be a friend to those she loved most, as I have already begun to be, and none of them shall suffer in those concerns that can be answered, now she is gone. For the loss of so excellent a friend and relation, is loss enough to all who knew her, and claimed kindred with her.
Poor worthy Jonathan, too, ('tis almost a misery to have so soft, so susceptible an heart as I have, or to have such good servants and friends as one cannot lose without such emotions as I feel for the loss of them!) his silver hairs, which I have beheld with so much delight, and thought I had a father in presence, when I saw them adorning so honest and comely a face, are now laid low!—Forgive me, he was not a common servant; neither are any of ours so: but Jonathan excelled all that excelled in his class!-I am told, that these two worthy folks died within two days of one another: on which occasion I could not help saying to myself, in the words of David over Saul and his son Jonathan, the name-sake of our worthy butler—"They were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their deaths they were not divided."
I might have continued on in the words of the royal lamenter; for, surely, never did one fellow-servant love another in my maiden state, nor servant love a mistress in my exalted condition, better than Jonathan loved me! I could see in his eyes a glistening pleasure, whenever I passed by him: if at such times I spoke to him, as I seldom failed to do, with a—"God bless you too!" in answer to his repeated blessings, he had a kind of rejuvenescence (may I say?) visibly running through his whole frame: and, now and then, if I laid my hands upon his folded ones, as I passed him on a Sunday morning or evening, praying for me, with a—"How do you, my worthy old acquaintance?" his heart would spring to his lips in a kind of rapture, and his eyes would run over.
O my beloved friend! how the loss of these two worthies of my family oppresses me at times!
Mr. B. likewise shewed a generous concern on the occasion: and when all the servants welcomed us in a body, on our return—"Methinks my dear," said he, "I miss your Mrs. Jervis, and honest Jonathan." A starting tear, and—"They are happy, dear honest souls!" and a sigh, were the tribute I paid to their memories, on their beloved master's so kindly repeating their names.
Who knows, had I been here—But away, too painful reflections—They lived to a good old age, and fell like fruit fully ripe: they died the death of the righteous; I must follow them in time, God knows how soon; and, Oh! that my latter end may be like theirs!
Once more, forgive me, my dear friend, this small tribute to their memories: and believe, that I am not so ungrateful for God's mercies, as to let the loss of these dear good folks lessen with me the joy and delight I have still left me, in the health and the love of the best of husbands, and good men; in the children, charming as ever mother could boast of—charming, I mean, principally, in the dawning beauties of their minds, and in the pleasure their towardliness of nature gives me; including, as I always do, my dear Miss Goodwin, and have reason to do, from her dutiful love of me, and observation of all I say to her; in the preservation to me of the best and worthiest of parents, hearty, though aged as they are; in the love and friendship of good Lord and Lady Davers, and my excellent friend Lady G.; not forgetting even worthy Mr. Longman. God preserve all these to me, as I am truly thankful for his mercies!—And then, notwithstanding my affecting losses, as above, who will be so happy as I? That you, my dear Lady G. may long continue so, likewise in the love of a worthy husband, and the delights of an increasing hopeful family, which will make you some amends for the heavy losses you also have sustained, in the two last years of an affectionate father, and a most worthy mother, and, in Mrs. Jones, of a good neighbour, prays your ever affectionate friend and servant,
* * * * *
MY BELOVED LADY G.,
You will excuse my long silence, when I shall tell you the occasions of it. In the first place, I was obliged to pay a dutiful visit to Kent, where my good father was taken ill of a fever, and my mother of an ague; and think. Madam, how this must affect me, at their time of life!
Mr. B. kindly accompanied me, apprehending that his presence would be necessary, if the recovery of them both, in which I thankfully rejoice, had not happened; especially as a circumstance I am, I think, always in, added more weight to his apprehensions.
I had hardly returned from Kent to Bedfordshire, and looked around, when I was obliged to set out to attend Lady Davers, who said she should die, if she saw me not, to comfort and recover, by my counsel and presence (so she was pleased to express herself) her sick lord who had just got out of an intermittent fever, which left him without any spirit, and was occasioned by fretting at the conduct of her stupid nephew (those also were her words).
For you must have heard (every body hears when a man of quality does a foolish thing!), and it has been in all the newspapers, that, "On Wednesday last the Right Honourable John" (Jackey they should have said), "Lord H., nephew to the Right Honourable William Lord Davers, was married to the Honourable Mrs. P., relict of J.P. of Twickenham, Esq., a lady of celebrated beauty and ample fortune."
Now, you must know, that this celebrated lady is, 'tis true, of the——family, whence her title of honourable; but is indeed so celebrated, that every fluttering coxcomb in town can give some account of her, even before she was in keeping of the Duke of——who had cast her on the town he had robbed of her.
In short, she is quite a common woman; has no fortune at all, as one may say, only a small jointure incumbered; and is much in debt. She is a shrew into the bargain, and the poor wretch is a father already; for he has already had a girl of three years old (her husband has been dead seven) brought him home, which he knew nothing of, nor even inquired, whether his widow had a child!—And he is now paying the mother's debts, and trying to make the best of his bargain.
This is the fruit of a London journey, so long desired by him, and his fluttering about there with his new title.
He was drawn in by a brother of his lady, and a friend of that brother's, two town sharpers, gamesters, and bullies. Poor Sir Joseph Wittol! This was his case, and his character, it seems, in London.
Shall I present you with a curiosity? "Tis a copy of his letter to his uncle, who had, as you may well think, lost all patience with him, on occasion of this abominable folly.
"MY LORD DAVERS,
"For iff you will not call me neffew, I have no reason to call you unkell; surely you forgett who it was you held up your kane to: I have as little reason to valew you displeassure, as you have me: for I am, God be thanked, a lord and a pere of the realme, as well as you; and as to youre nott owneing me, nor your brother B. not looking upon me, I care not a fardinge: and, bad as you think I have done, I have marry'd a woman of family. Take thatt among you!
"As to your personal abuses of her, take care whatt you say. You know the stattute will defend us as well as you.—And, besides, she has a brother that won't lett her good name be called in question.—Mind thatt!
"Some thinges I wish had been otherwise—perhapps I do.—What then?—Must you, my lord, make more mischiefe, and adde to my plagues, iff I have any?—Is this your unkelship?
"Butt I shan't want youre advice. I have as good an estate as you have, and am as much a lord as yourselfe.—Why the devill then, am I to be treated as I am?—Why the plague—But I won't sware neither. I desire not to see you, any more than you doe me, I can tell you thatt. And iff we ever meet under one roofe with my likeing, it must be at the House of Peeres where I shall be upon a parr with you in every thing, that's my cumfurte.
"As to Lady Davers, I desire not to see her ladyship; for she was always plaguy nimbel with her fingers; but, lett my false stepp be what itt will, I have in other respectes, marry'd a lady who is as well descended as herseife, and no disparagement neither; so have nott thatt to answer for to her pride; and who has as good a spiritt too, if they were to come face to face, or I am mistaken: nor will shee take affmntes from any one. So my lord, leave mee to make the best of my matters, as I will of youres. So no more, but that I am youre servante, H.
"P.S. I mean no affrunte to Mrs. B. She is the best of yee all—by G—."
I will not take up your time with further observations upon this poor creature's bad conduct: his reflection must proceed from feeling; and will, that's the worst of it, come too late, come when or how it will. I will only say, I am sorry for it on his own account, but more for that of Lord and Lady Davers, who take the matter very heavily, and wish he had married the lowest born creature in England (so she had been honest and virtuous), rather than done as he has done.
But, I suppose, the poor gentleman was resolved to shun, at all adventures, Mr. B.'s fault, and keep up to the pride of descent and family;—and so married the only creature, as I hope (since it cannot be helped), that is so great a disgrace to both: for I presume to flatter myself, for the sake of my sex, that, among the poor wretches who are sunk so low as the town-women are, there are very few of birth or education; but such, principally, as have had their necessities or their ignorance taken advantage of by base men; since birth and education must needs set the most unhappy of the sex above so sordid and so abandoned a guilt, as the hourly wickedness of such a course of life subjects them to.
But let me pursue my purpose of excusing my long silence. I had hardly returned from Lady Davers's, and recovered my family management, and resumed my nursery duties, when my fourth dear boy, my Jemmy (for, I think am I going on to make out the number Lady Davers allotted me), pressed so upon me, as not to be refused, for one month or six weeks close attention. And then a journey to Lord Davers's, and that noble pair accompanying us to Kent; and daily and hourly pleasures crowding upon us, narrow and confined as our room there was (though we went with as few attendants as possible), engrossed more of my time. Thus I hope you will forgive me, because, as soon as I returned, I set about writing this, as an excuse for myself, in the first place; to promise you the subject you insist upon, in the next; and to say, that I am incapable of forgetfulness or negligence to such a friend as Lady G. For I must always be your faithful and affectionate humble servant, P.B.
MY DEAR LADY G.,
The remarks, your cousin Fielding says, I have made on the subject of young gentlemen's travelling, and which you request me to communicate to you, are part of a little book upon education, which I wrote for Mr. B.'s correction and amendment, on his putting Mr. Locke's treatise on that subject into my hands, and requiring my observations upon it.
I cannot flatter myself they will answer your expectation; for I am sensible they must be unworthy even of the opportunities I have had in the excursions, in which I have been indulged by the best of men. But your requests are so many laws to me; and I will give you a short abstract of what I read Miss Fielding, who has so greatly overrated it to you.
The gentleman's book contains many excellent rules on education; but this of travel I will only refer you to at present. You will there see his objections against the age at which young gentlemen are sent abroad, from sixteen to twenty-one, the time in all their lives, he says, at which young gentlemen are the least suited to these improvements, and in which they have the least fence and guard against their passions.
The age he proposes is from seven to fourteen, because of the advantage they will then have to master foreign languages, and to form their tongue to the true pronunciation; as well as that they will be more easily directed by their tutors or governors. Or else he proposes that more sedate time of life, when the gentleman is able to travel without a tutor, and to make his own observations; and when he is thoroughly acquainted with the laws and fashions, the natural and moral advantages and defects of his own country; by which means, as Mr. Locke wisely observes, the traveller will have something to exchange with those abroad, from whose conversation he hopes to reap any knowledge. And he supports his opinion by excellent reasons, to which I refer you.
What I have written in my little book, not yet quite finished on this head, relates principally to Home Travelling, which Mr. B. was always resolved his sons should undertake, before they entered upon a foreign tour. I have there observed, that England abounds with curiosities, both of art and nature, worth the notice of a diligent inquirer, and equal with some of those we admire in foreign parts; and that if the youth be not sent abroad at Mr. Locke's earliest time, from seven to fourteen (which I can hardly think will be worth while, merely for the sake of attaining a perfection in the languages), he may with good advantage begin, at fourteen or fifteen, the tour of Great Britain, now-and-then, by excursions, in the summer months, between his other studies, and as a diversion to him. This I should wish might be entered upon in his papa's company, as well as his tutor's, if it could conveniently be done; who thus initiating both the governed and governor in the methods he would have observed by both, will obtain no small satisfaction and amusement to himself.
For the father would by this means be an eye-witness of the behaviour of the one and the other, and have a specimen how fit the young man was to be trusted, or the tutor to be depended upon, when they went abroad, and were out of his sight: as they would of what was expected from them by the father. And hence a thousand benefits may arise to the young gentleman from the occasional observations and reflections of his father, with regard to expence, company, conversation, hours, and such like.
If the father could not himself accompany his son, he might appoint the stages the young gentleman should take, and enjoin both tutor and son to give, at every stage, an account of whatever they observed curious and remarkable, not omitting the minutest occurrences. By this means, and the probability that he might hear of them, and their proceedings, from his friends, acquaintance, and relations, who might fall in with them, they would have a greater regard to their conduct; and so much the more, if the young gentleman were to keep an account of his expences, which, upon his return, he might lay before his father.
By seeing thus the different customs, manners, and economy of different persons and families (for in so mixed a nation as ours is, there is as great a variety of that sort to be met with, as in most), and from their different treatment, at their several stages, a great deal of the world may be learned by the young gentleman. He would be prepared to go abroad with more delight to himself, as well as more experience, and greater reputation to his family and country. In such excursions as these, the tutor would see his temper and inclination, and might notice to the father any thing amiss, that it might be set right, while the youth was yet in his reach, and more under his inspection, than he would be in a foreign country; and his observations, on his return, as well as in his letters, would shew how fit he was to be trusted; and how likely to improve, when at a greater distance.
After England and Wales, as well the inland parts as the sea-coasts, let them if they behave according to expectation, take a journey into Scotland and Ireland, and visit the principal islands, as Guernsey, Jersey, &c. the youth continuing to write down his observations all the way, and keeping a journal of occurrences; and let him employ the little time he will be on board of ship, in these small trips from island to island, or coastwise, in observing upon the noble art of navigation; of the theory of which, it will not be amiss that he has some notion, as well as of the curious structure of a ship, its tackle, and furniture: a knowledge very far from being insignificant to a gentleman who is an islander, and has a stake in the greatest maritime kingdom in the world; and hence he will be taught to love and value that most useful and brave set of men, the British sailors, who are the natural defence and glory of the realm.
Hereby he will confirm his theory in the geography of the British dominions in Europe, he will be apprised of the situation, conveniences, interests, and constitution of his own country; and will be able to lay a ground-work for the future government of his thoughts and actions, if the interest he bears in his native country should call him to the public service in either house of parliament.
With this foundation, how excellently would he be qualified to go abroad! and how properly then would he add to the knowledge he had attained of his own country, that of the different customs, manners, and forms of government of others! How would he be able to form comparisons, and to make all his inquiries appear pertinent and manly. All the occasions of that ignorant wonder, which renders a novice the jest of all about him, would be taken away. He would be able to ask questions, and to judge without leading strings. Nor would he think he has seen a country, and answered the ends of his father's expence, and his own improvement, by running through a kingdom, and knowing nothing of it, but the inns and stages, at which he stopped to eat and drink. For, on the contrary, he would make the best acquaintance, and contract worthy friendships with such as would court and reverence him as one of the rising geniuses of his country.
Whereas most of the young gentlemen who are sent abroad raw and unprepared, as if to wonder at every thing they see, and to be laughed at by all that see them, do but expose themselves and their country. And if, at their return, by interest of friends, by alliances, or marriages, they should happen to be promoted to places of honour or profit, their unmerited preferment will only serve to make those foreigners, who were eye-witnesses of their weakness and follies, when among them, conclude greatly in disfavour of the whole nation, or, at least, of the prince, and his administration, who could find no fitter subjects to distinguish.
This, my dear friend, is a brief extract from my observations on the head of qualifying young gentlemen to travel with honour and improvement. I doubt you'll be apt to think me not a little out of my element; but since you would have it, I claim the allowances of a friend; to which my ready compliance with your commands the rather entitles me.
I am very sorry Mr. and Mrs. Murray are so unhappy in each other. Were he a generous man, the heavy loss the poor lady has sustained, as well as her sister, my beloved friend, in so excellent a mother, and so kind a father, would make him bear with her infirmities a little.
But, really, I have seen, on twenty occasions, that notwithstanding all the fine things gentlemen say to ladies before marriage, if the latter do not improve upon their husbands' hands, their imputed graces when single, will not protect them from indifference, and, probably, from worse; while the gentleman, perhaps, thinks he only, of the two, is entitled to go backward in acts of kindness and complaisance. A strange and shocking difference which too many ladies experience, who, from fond lovers, prostrate at their feet, find surly husbands, trampling upon their necks!
You, my dear friend, were happy in your days of courtship, and are no less so in your state of wedlock. And may you continue to be so to a good old age, prays your affectionate and faithful friend, P.B.
My dear Lady G.,
I will cheerfully cause to be transcribed for you the conversation you desire, between myself, Mrs. Towers, and Lady Arthur, and the three young ladies their relations, in presence of the dean and his daughter, and Mrs. Brooks; and glad I shall be, if it may be of use to the two thoughtless Misses your neighbours; who, you are pleased to tell me, are great admirers of my story and my example; and will therefore, as you say, pay greater attention to what I write, than to the more passionate and interested lessons of their mamma.
I am only sorry you should be concerned about the supposed trouble you give me, by having mislaid my former relation of it. For, besides obliging my dear Lady G., the hope of doing service by it to a family so worthy, in a case so nearly affecting its honour, as to make two headstrong young ladies recollect what belongs to their sex and their characters, and what their filial duties require of them, affords me high pleasure; and if it shall be attended with the wished effects, it will add to my happiness.
I said, cause to be transcribed, because I hope to answer a double end by it; for, on reconsideration, I set Miss Goodwin to transcribe it, who writes a pretty hand, and is not a little fond of the task, nor, indeed, of any task I set her; and will be more affected as she performs it, than she could be by reading it only; although she is a very good girl at present, and gives me hopes that she will continue to be so.
I will inclose it when done, that it may be read to the parties without this introduction, if you think fit. And you will forgive me for having added a few observations, with a view to the cases of your inconsiderate young ladies, and for having corrected the former narrative in several places.
My dear Lady G.,
The papers you have mislaid, as to the conversation between me and the young ladies, relations of Mrs. Towers, and Lady Anne Arthur, in presence of these two last-named ladies, Mrs. Brooks, and the worthy dean, and Miss L. (of which, in order to perfect your kind collection of my communications you request another copy) contained as follows.
I first stated, that I had seen these three ladies twice or thrice before, as visitors, at their kinswomen's houses so that they and I were not altogether strangers to one another: and my two neighbours acquainted me with their respective tastes and dispositions, and their histories preparatory to this visit, to the following effects:
That MISS STAPYLTON is over-run with the love of poetry and romance, and delights in flowery language and metaphorical flourishes: is about eighteen, wants not either sense or politeness; and has read herself into a vein, more amorous (that was Mrs. Towers's word) than discreet. Has extraordinary notions of a first sight love; and gives herself greater liberties, with a pair of fine eyes (in hopes to make sudden conquests in pursuance of that notion), than is pretty in her sex and age; which makes those who know her not, conclude her bold and forward; and is more than suspected, with a mind thus prepared for instantaneous impressions, to have experienced the argument to her own disadvantage, and to be struck by (before she had stricken) a gentleman, whom her friends think not at all worthy of her, and to whom she was making some indiscreet advances, under the name of PHILOCLEA to PHILOXENUS, in a letter which she entrusted to a servant of the family, who, discovering her design, prevented her indiscretion for that time.
That, in other respects, she has no mean accomplishments, will have a fine fortune, is genteel in her person, though with some visible affectation, dances well, sings well, and plays prettily on several instruments; is fond of reading, but affects the action, and air, and attitude of a tragedian; and is too apt to give an emphasis in the wrong place, in order to make an author mean significantly, even where the occasion is common, and, in a mere historical fact, that requires as much simplicity in the reader's accent, as in the writer's style. No wonder then, that when she reads a play, she will put herself into a sweat, as Mrs. Towers says; distorting very agreeable features, and making a multitude of wry mouths with one very pretty one, in order to convince her hearers, what a near neighbour her heart is to her lips.
MISS COPE is a young lady of nineteen, lovely in her person, with a handsome fortune in possession, and great prospects. Has a soft and gentle turn of mind, which disposes her to be easily imposed upon. Is addressed by a libertine of quality, whose courtship, while permitted, was imperiousness; and whose tenderness, insult: having found the young lady too susceptible of impression, open and unreserved, and even valuing him the more, as it seemed, for treating her with ungenerous contempt; for that she was always making excuses for slights, ill manners, and even rudeness, which no other young lady would forgive.
That this docility on her side, and this insolence on his, and an over-free, and even indecent degree of romping, as it is called, with her, which once her mamma surprised them in, made her papa forbid his visits, and her receiving them.
That this however, was so much to Miss Cope's regret, that she was detected in a design to elope to him out of the private garden-door; which, had she effected, in all probability, the indelicate and dishonourable peer would have triumphed over her innocence; having given out since, that he intended to revenge himself on the daughter, for the disgrace he had received from the parents.
That though convinced of this, it was feared she still loved him, and would again throw herself in his way; urging, that his rash expressions were the effect only of his passion; for that she knows he loves her too well to be dishonourable to her; and by the same degree of favourable prepossession, she will have it, that his brutal roughness is the manliness of his nature; that his most shocking expressions are sincerity of heart; that his boasts of former lewdness are but instances that he knows the world; that his freedoms with her person are but excess of love and innocent gaiety of temper; that his resenting the prohibition he has met with, and his threats, are other instances of his love and his courage: and peers of the realm ought not to be bound down by little narrow rules like the vulgar; for, truly, their honour is in the greatest cases regarded as equal with the oath of a common gentleman, and is a security that a lady may trust to, if he is not a profligate indeed; and that Lord P. cannot be.
That excepting these weaknesses, Miss has many good qualities; is charitable, pious, humane, humble; sings sweetly, plays on the spinnet charmingly; is meek, fearful, and never was resolute or courageous enough to step out of the regular path, till her too flexible heart became touched with a passion, that is said to polish the most brutal temper, and therefore her rough peer has none of it; and to animate the dove, of which Miss Cope has too much.
That Miss Sutton, a young lady of the like age with the two former, has too lively and airy a turn of mind; affects to be thought well read in the histories of kingdoms, as well as in polite literature. Speaks French fluently, talks much upon all subjects; and has a great deal of flippant wit, which makes more enemies than friends. However, is innocent, and unsuspectedly virtuous hitherto; but makes herself cheap and accessible to fops and rakes, and has not the worse opinion of a man for being such. Listens eagerly to stories told to the disadvantage of some of her own sex; though affecting to be a great stickler for the honour of it in general: will unpityingly propagate them: thinks (without considering to what the imprudence of her own conduct may subject her) the woman that slips inexcusable; and the man who seduces her, much less faulty; and thus encourages the one sex in their vileness, and gives up the other for their weakness, in a kind of silly affectation, to shew her security in her own virtue; at the same time, that she is dancing upon the edge of a precipice, presumptuously inattentive to her own danger.
The worthy dean, knowing the ladies' intention in this visit to me, brought his daughter with him, as if by accident; for Miss L. with many good qualities, is of a remarkable soft temper, though not so inconsiderately soft as Miss Cope: but is too credulous; and, as her papa suspects, entertains more than a liking to a wild young gentleman, the heir to a noble fortune, who makes visits to her, full of tenderness and respect, but without declaring himself. This gives the dean much uneasiness; and he is very desirous that his daughter should be in my company on all occasions, as she is so kind to profess a great regard to my opinion and judgment.
'Tis easy to see the poor young lady is in love; and she makes no doubt that the young gentleman loves her; but, alas! why then (for he is not a bashful man, as you shall hear) does he not say so?—He has deceived already two young creatures. His father has cautioned the dean against his son. Has told him, that he is sly, subtle, full of stratagem, yet has so much command of himself (which makes him more dangerous), as not to precipitate his designs; but can wait with patience till he thinks himself secure of his prey, and then pulls off the mask at once; and, if he succeeds, glories in his villainy. Yet does his father beg of the dean to permit his visits, for he wishes him to marry Miss L. though greatly unequal in fortune to his son, wishing for nothing so much as that he would marry. And the dean, owing his principal preferment to the old gentleman, cares not to disoblige him, or affront his son, without some apparent reason for it, especially as the father is wrapt up in him, having no other child, and being himself half afraid of him, least, if too much thwarted, he should fly out entirely.
So here, Madam, are four young ladies of like years, and different inclinations and tempers, all of whom may be said to have dangers to encounter, resulting from their respective dispositions: and who, professing to admire my character and example, were brought to me, to be benefited, as Mrs. Towers was pleased to say, by my conversation: and all was to be as if accidental, none of them knowing how well I was acquainted with their several characters.
How proud would this compliment have made me from such a lady as Mrs. Towers, had I not been as proud as proud could be before, of the good opinion of four beloved persons, Mr. B., Lady Davers, the Countess of C. and your dear self.
We were attended only by Polly Barlow, who in some points was as much concerned as any body. And this being when Lord and Lady Davers, and the noble Countess, were with us, 'tis proper to say, they were abroad together upon a visit, from which, knowing how I was to be engaged, they excused me. The dean was well known to, and valued by, all the ladies; and therefore was no manner of restraint upon the freedom of our conversation.
I was in my closet when they came; and Mrs. Towers, having presented each young lady to me when I came down, said, being all seated, "I can guess at your employment, Mrs. B. Writing, I dare say? I have often wished to have you for a correspondent; for every one who can boast of that favour, exalts you to the skies, and says, your letters exceed your conversation, but I always insisted upon it that that was impossible."
"Mrs. Towers," said I, "is always saying the most obliging things in the world of her neighbours: but may not one suffer, dear Madam, for these kind prepossessions, in the opinion of greater strangers, who will judge more impartially than your favour will permit you to do?"
"That," said Lady Arthur, "will be so soon put out of doubt, when Mrs. B. begins to speak, that we will refer to that, and to put an end to every thing that looks like compliment."
"But, Mrs. B.," says Mrs. Towers, "may one ask, what particular subject was at this time your employment?"
I had been writing (you must know, Lady G.) for the sake of suiting Miss Stapylton's flighty vein, a little sketch of the style she is so fond of; and hoped for some such opportunity as this question gave me, to bring it on the carpet; for my only fear, with her and Miss Cope, and Miss Sutton, was, that they would deem me too grave; and so what should fall in the course of conversation, would make the least impression upon them. For the best instructions, you know, will be ineffectual, if the manner of conveying them is not adapted to the taste and temper of the person you would wish to influence. And moreover, I had a view in it, to make this little sketch the introduction to some future observations on the stiff and affected style of romances, which might put Miss Stapylton out of conceit with them, and make her turn the course of her studies another way, as I shall mention in its place.
I answered that I had been meditating upon the misfortunes of a fine young lady, who had been seduced and betrayed by a gentleman she loved, and who, notwithstanding, had the grace to stop short (indeed, later than were to be wished), and to abandon friends, country, lover, in order to avoid any further intercourse with him; and that God had blessed her penitence and resolution, and she was now very happy in a neighbouring dominion.
"A fine subject," said Miss Stapylton. "Was the gentleman a man of wit, Madam? Was the lady a woman of taste?" we condemn every man who dresses well, and is not a sloven, as a fop or a coxcomb?"
"No doubt, when this is the case. But you hardly ever saw a man very nice about his person and dress, that had any thing he thought of greater consequence to himself to regard. 'Tis natural it should be so; for should not the man of body take the greater care to set out and adorn the part for which he thinks himself most valuable? And will not the man of mind bestow his principal care in improving that mind? perhaps to the neglect of dress, and outward appearance, which is a fault. But surely, Madam, there is a middle way to be observed, in these, as in most other cases; for a man need not be a sloven, any more than a fop. He need not shew an utter disregard to dress, nor yet think it his first and chief concern; be ready to quarrel with the wind for discomposing his peruke, or fear to put on his hat, lest he should depress his foretop; more dislike a spot upon his clothes, than in his reputation; be a self-admirer, and always at the glass, which he would perhaps never look into, could it shew him the deformity of his mind, as well as the finery of his person; who has a taylor for his tutor, and a milliner for his school-mistress; who laughs at men of sense (excusably enough, perhaps in revenge because they laugh at him); who calls learning pedantry, and looks upon the knowledge of the fashions as the only useful science to a fine gentleman.
"Pardon me, ladies; I could proceed with the character of this species of men, but I need not; for every lady present would despise such an one, as much as I do, were he to fall in her way: or the rather, because he who admires himself, will never admire his lady as he ought; and if he maintains his niceness after marriage, it will be with a preference to his own person; if not, will sink, very probably, into the worst of slovens. For whoever is capable of one extreme (take almost the cases of human life through) when he recedes from that, if he be not a man of prudence, will go over into the other.
"But to return to the former subject" (for the general attention encouraged me to proceed), "permit me, Miss Sutton, to add, that a lady must run great risks to her reputation, if not to her virtue, who will admit into her company any gentleman who shall be of opinion, and know it to be hers, that it is his province to ask a favour, which it will be her duty to deny."
"I believe, Madam, I spoke these words a little too carelessly; but I meant honourable questions, to be sure."
"There can be but one honourable question," replied I; "and that is seldom asked, but when the affair is brought near a conclusion, and there is a probability of its being granted; and which a single lady, while she has parents or guardians, should never think of permitting to be put to herself, much less of approving, nor, perhaps, as the case may be of denying. But I make no doubt that you meant honourable questions. A young lady of Miss Sutton's good sense, and worthy character, could not mean otherwise. And I have said, perhaps, more than I need upon the subject, because we all know how ready the presuming of the other sex are, right or wrong to construe the most innocent meetings in favour of their own views."
"Very true," said she; but appeared to be under an agreeable confusion, every lady, by her eye, seeming to think she had met with a deserved rebuke; and which not seeming to expect, it abated her liveliness all the time after.
Mrs. Towers seasonably relieved us both from a subject too applicable, if I may so express it, saying—"But, dear Mrs. B., will you favour us with the result of your meditation, if committed to writing, on the unhappy case you mentioned?"
"I was rather. Madam, exercising my fancy than my judgment, such as it is, upon the occasion. I was aiming at a kind of allegorical or metaphorical style, I know not which to call it; and it is not fit to be read before such judges, I doubt."
"O pray, dear Madam," said Miss Stapylton, "favour us with it to choose; for I am a great admirer of that style."
"I have a great curiosity," said Lady Arthur, "both from the subject and the style, to hear what you have written: and I beg you will oblige us all."
"It is short and unfinished. It was written for the sake of a friend, who is fond of such a style; and what I shall add to it, will be principally some slight observations upon this way of writing. But, let it be ever so censurable, I should be more so, if I made any difficulties after such an unanimous request." So, taking it out of my letter-case, I read as follows:
"While the banks of discretion keep the proud water of passion within their natural channel, all calm and serene glides along the silver current, enlivening the adjacent meadows, as it passes, with a brighter and more flowery verdure. But if the torrents of sensual love are permitted to descend from the hills of credulous hope, they may so swell the gentle stream, as to make it difficult, if not impossible, to be retained betwixt its usual bounds. What then will be the consequence?—Why, the trees of resolution, and the shrubs of cautious fear, which grew upon the frail mound, and whose intertwining roots had contributed to support it, being loosened from their hold, they, and all that would swim of the bank itself, will be seen floating on the surface of the triumphant waters.
"But here, a dear lady, having unhappily failed, is enabled to set her foot in the new-made breach, while yet it is possible to stop it, and to say, with little variation in the language of that power, which only could enable her to say it. Hither, ye proud waves of dissolute love, although you HAVE come, yet no farther SHALL ye come; is such an instance of magnanimous resolution and self-conquest, as is very rarely to be met with."
Miss Stapylton seemed pleased (as I expected), and told me, that she should take it for a high favour, to be permitted, if not improper, to see the whole letter when finished.
I said, I would oblige her with all my heart.-"But you must not expect, Madam, that although I have written what I have read to you, I shall approve of it in my observations upon it; for I am convinced, that no style can be proper, which is not plain, simple, easy, natural and unaffected."
She was sure, she was pleased to say, that whatever my observations were, they would be equally just and instructive.
"I too," said the dean, "will answer for that; for I dare say, by what I have already heard, that Mrs. B. will distinguish properly between the style (and the matter too) which captivates the imagination, and that which informs the judgment."
Our conversation, after this, took a more general turn; which I thought right, lest the young ladies should imagine it was a designed thing against them: yet it was such, that every one of them found her character and taste, little or much, concerned in it; and all seemed, as Mrs. Towers afterwards observed to me, by their silence and attention, to be busied in private applications.
The dean began it with a high compliment to me; having a view, no doubt, by his kind praises, to make my observations have the greater weight upon the young ladies. He said, it was matter of great surprise to him, that, my tender years considered, I should be capable of making those reflections, by which persons of twice my age and experience might be instructed.-"You see, Madam," said he, "our attention, when your lips begin to open; and I beg we may have nothing to do, but to be attentive."
"I have had such advantages, Sir, from the observations and cautions of my late excellent lady, that did you but know half of them, you would rather wonder I had made no greater improvement, than that I have made so much. She used to think me pretty, and not ill-tempered, and, of course not incredulous, where I conceived a good opinion; and was always arming me on that side, as believing I might be the object of wicked attempts, and the rather, as my low fortune subjected me to danger. For, had I been born to rank and condition, as these young ladies here, I should have had reason to think of myself, as justly as, no doubt, they do, and, of consequence, beyond the reach of any vile intriguer; as I should have been above the greatest part of that species of mankind, who, for want of understanding or honour, or through pernicious habits, give themselves up to libertinism."
"These were great advantages," said Miss Sutton; "but in you, they met with a surprising genius, 'tis very plain, Madam; and there is not, in my opinion, a lady of England, of your years, who would have improved by them as you have done."
I answered, that I was much obliged by her good opinion: and that I had always observed, the person who admired any good qualities in another, gave a kind of natural demonstration, that she had the same in an eminent degree herself, although, perhaps, her modest diffidence would not permit her to trace the generous principle to its source.
The dean, to renew the subject of credulity, repeated my remark, that it was safer, in cases where so much depended upon the issue, as a lady's honour and reputation, to fear an enemy, than to hope a friend; and praised my observation, that even a weak enemy is not to be too much despised.
I said, I had very high notions of the honour and value of my own sex, and very mean ones of the gay and frothy part of the other; insomuch, that I thought they could have no strength, but what was founded in our weakness: that the difference of education must give men advantages, even where the genius is naturally equal; besides, they have generally more hardness of heart, which makes women, where they meet not with men of honour, engage with that sex upon very unequal terms; for that it is so customary with them to make vows and promises, and to set light by them, when made, that an innocent lady cannot guard too watchfully against them; and, in my opinion, should believe nothing they said, or even vowed, but what carried demonstration with it.