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innocent for prudery. We had, therefore, a number of visiters of the other sex, many of whom were so particular in their attentions, that women who wished to boast of con. quests, would have called them lovers. With us they did not always assume that title ; my sister was too prudent, and I was too nice, easily to believe a man a lover.
Among those, however, were two gentleman, whose at tachment was declared to me in terms too strong to be mis. understood. Florio's person was universally allowed to be handsome; many, of whom I was one, thought it elegant. With external accomplishments his education had furnished him, his manner was easy and unembarrassed; some called it assuming, I thought it natural. His conversation was full of the language of sensibility; in my idea it spoke a mind replete with sensibility itself. Other people sometimes suspected him of shallowness and affectation; 1 praised him for avoiding the pedantry of knowledge, and the rusticity of men proud of its acquirements.
Alcander was the only son of a particular friend of my mother, and therefore on a very intimate footing in our family. My mother, with whom he was a favourite, discovered in him a great fund of good sense and of useful knowledge. I was struck with the inelegance of his appearance and ad. dress, and the want of refinement in his sentiments and conversation. His goodness and candour were often the topics of my mother's commendation: I remarked his want of discernment, and the coldness of his attachments and aversions. My mother often repeated her own eulogiums of Alcander, and the criticisms of the world on Florio ; I always heard her with a determined opposition of sentiment, and therefore rose from the conversation more averse from the first, and more attached to the latter. Alcander, after persisting for some time under a very marked disinclination to him, gave up the pursuit ; but as he still continued his visits to the family, particularly during any occasional ab. sence of mine, he transferred by degrees his affections to
When he had ceased to be my lover, I was willing to be very much his friend. My mother had always shown her partiality in his favour; my sister was won by his virtues, and, after some time, became his wife.
Florio's suit to me was opposed by my mother with rather more vehemence than was natural to her. She often insist. ed on the infatuation, as she called it, of that deception I was under with regard to him ; a deception, of which, she predicted, I should one day be convinced. Her opposition, however, though it overruled my conduct, never overcame my attachment. I would not be his without the consent of my mother; but my affection it was not in her power to shake. Her love for me overcame her resolution; and at last she gave, however unwillingly, my hand to Florio. I was now the happiest of women.
The scenes of con. jugal tenderness and domestic happiness, which I had often pictured, I thought now realized in the possession of a man, who, I had taught myself to believe, was to love me for ever, and was himself every thing I ouglit to love; and I often looked with a degree of pity on the situation of my sister, whose happiness (for she called it happiness) with Alcander was of a kind so inferior to mine. How long this lasted I cannot exactly say.
I fear I begun to be unhappy long before I could allow myself to believe it. I have often wept alone at the coldness and neglect of Florio, when, on meeting him, a few words of seeming tenderness and affection made me again reproach my doubts of his love, and think my own situation the most enviable of any.
Alas! he drove me from this last stronghold, in which my affection for him had entrenched itself. It is now three years since he has treated me in such a manner, as to leave me no apology for his treatment. During the last, my mother's death has deprived me of one of the few comforts I had left. From my mother I carefully concealed my distress ; but I believe in vain, She lived to guess at my misery; and I fear her sense of it added to the pressure of that disease which brought her to her grave.
After the loss of my husband's love, it is little to talk of my disappointment in his talents and accomplishments. It was long, however, before I allowed myself to see defects, which less penetration than I have been flattered with pos. sessing had long before discovered. My mother had often, before our marriage, expressed her surprise, that one of my abilities should be so deceived, as not to see his inferiority. I believe, that it is by these abilities that the deception is aided. They are able to form a picture, to which more ordinary minds are unequal ; and in the weakness of their rash attachment they find the likeness where they wish to find it.
I was interrupted by my sister. Why are her looks so serene ; and why does she tell me how much mine are altered? I am too proud to allow a witness to my distresses ; and from her, of all womankind, I would conceal them. This dissimulation is due to my pride, perhaps to my duty; yet if you knew, sir, what it is to smile in public, to seem to be happy, with such feelings as mine ; to act contentment all day long, and to retire at night to my lonely pillow, with the anguish my heart has treasured up all the while ! the subject overpowers me. Farewell.
ON FEMALE ACCOMPLISHMENTS.
To give society its highest taste,
As women cannot be useful in the same way as the men are, by building, for instance, ploughing, gardening, and other manual arts, and by the employments of active and public life, there are services more adapted to their softer and more delicate constitutions.
These services are no other than a discreet economy within doors, elegant conversation, tender friendship, decent behaviour, education of children, and the like.
Therefore, to execute these well must be the business and duty of woman ; and what is her duty, must be her orna. ment and happiness.
A moderate skill in arithmetic has saved many estates ; and it is the proper business of the women to be prudent and careful in laying out what the men acquire by industry and study, or their painful employments in public life : and this cannot be done without keeping regular accounts.
As it is the business and particular interest of women to excel in conversation, and in the amiable decencies of life, and to delight and polish the men by their softness and de. licacy in speaking as well as acting, they can hardly show those talents to such advantage, except they have a taste for the beauty as well as propriety of their mother tongue.
Speaking gracefully is of more consequence to the women than they are aware : since the better and most sensi. ble part of our sex are apter to be caught by the ear than by the eyes ; and since speech is one of the best instruments of female power, by which they calm the storms of passion, and charm our rude natures into a softer kind of humanity.
Dignity and gravity are the peculiar excellencies of the men, and befitting their character, as they are formed for public life, and a sphere of action which requires greatness of mind, strength and firmness of resolution, a cooler strain of passion, and more intense application of thought; whereas decency is the proper characteristic and charm of a woman, as suited to that softer economy and more private life for which she was destined. This consists in a certain elegant propriety and delicacy of manner, so well suited to the character of her in whom it prevails, and so discreetly adapted to persons, times, and places, as to reflect a full image of female softness and modesty. Some of its princi. pal features are of a mildness of nature, which is please and yield to others, and arrogates to itself nothing that is not due to it; a modest reserve, which guards against an affected shyness on the one hand, and indecent liberties on the other; an elegant tenderness, which is disposed to compassion and is sensible to friendship, yet is guided by judgment in its measure and the choice of its objects; a high sense of decorum, which teaches her in every circumstance what to grant and what to refuse, when to speak and when to be silent, to maintain the respect due to the sex without pride or disdain, and court the esteem of others without artifice or ostentation; not feigning passions she has not, nor indiscreetly discovering or artfully disguising those she has, much less boasting an insensibility to which she is a stranger; and above all, a quick feeling of every thing that is fair, honourable, humane, and faithful, with an irreconcilable aversion from whatever is unbecoming the honour and dignity of a woman. Such are the charms of decency.