Page images
PDF
EPUB

the mutual communication of whatever may conduce to the improvement or innocent entertainment of each other.

Reading, whether apart or in common, will furnish useful and pleasing subjects; and the sprightliness of youth will naturally inspire harmless mirth and native humour, if encouraged by a mutual desire of diverting each other, and making the hours pass agreeably in your own house : every amusement that offers will be heightened by the participation of these dear companions, and by talking over every incident together, and every object of pleasure. If you have any acquired talent of entertainment, such as inusic, painting, or the like, your own family are those before whom you should most wish to excel, and for whom you should always be ready to exert yourself; not suffering the accomplishments which you have gained, perhaps, by their means, and at their expense, to lie dormant, till the arrival of a stranger gives you spirit in the performance. Where this last is the case, you may be sure vanity is the only motive of the exertion. A stranger will praise you more : but how little sensibility has that heart, which is no more gratified by the silent pleasure painted on the countenance of a partial parent, or of an affectionate brother, than by the empty compliments of a visitor, who is, perhaps, inwardly more disposed to criticise and ridicule than to admire you?

Watch, therefore, my dear child, the symptoms of ill-tem. per, as they rise, with a firm resolution to conquer them before they are even perceived by any other person. In every such inward conflict, call upon your Maker to assist the feeble nature he has given you, and sacrifice to Him every feeling that would tempt you to disobedience; so will you at length attain that true Christian meekness which is blessed in the sight of God and man: “which has the pro. mise of this life as well as of that which is to come.” Then will you pity in others those infirmities which you have corquered in yourself; and will think yourself as much

bound to assist, by your patience and gentleness, those who are so unhappy as to be under the dominion of evil passions, as you are to impart a share of your riches to the poor and miserable. Adieu, my dearest.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

My Dear LIpl were called upon to write the history of a woman's trials and sorrows, I would date it from the moment when nature has pronounced her marriageable, and she feels that innocent desire of associating with the other sex, which needs not a blush. If I had a girl of my own, at this criti. cal age, I should be full of the keenest apprehensions for her safety, and like the great poet, when the tempter was bent on seducing our first parents from their innocence and happiness, I should invoke the assistance of some guardian angel to conduct her through the slippery and dangerous paths.

You must remember the passage :

O for that warning voice, which he who heard," &c.

Marriage is, doubtless, the most natural, innocent, and useful state, if you can form it to any tolerable advantage. It bids fairest for that little portion of happiness which this life admits; and is, in some degree, a duty which we owe to the world. If entered into from proper motives, it is a source of the greatest benefit to the community, as well as of private comfort to themselves. What are the highest blessings, unsweetened by society? How poignant are many sorrows of life, without a friend to alleviate and divide them! How many are the moments, how many are the exigencies, in which we want sympathy, tenderness, attention! And what is a moping individual to the world,

compared with the woman who acts in the tender character of a wife or parent, and, by a religious culture of an offspring, is training up inhabitants for the kingdom of heaven.

A single woman is particularly defenceless. She can. not move beyond the precincts of her house without appre. hensions. She cannot go with ease or safety into public. She is surrounded with many real dangers, and fancy conjures up more spectres of its own, to disturb her repose.

As she goes down the hill of life, her friends gradually, drop away from her, like leaves in the autumn, and leave her a pining, solitary creature. Even brothers and sisters, when married themselves, lose their usual fondness for her, in the ardours of a newly acquired connexion; and she wanders through a wide, bustling world, uncomfortable in herself, uninteresting to others, frequently the sport of wanton ridicule, or a proverb of reproach.

Men are often too much engrossed with business, ambi. tion, or criminal pursuits, to think very seriously of this connexion ; but if they happen to remain single, their very efforts become their amusement, and keep them from experiencing that unquiet indolence, which, by enervating the mind, powerfully awakens imagination and the senses. A woman has abundant leisure to brood over her inquietude, and to nurse the vapours, till they terminate in disease. She has not so many methods for dissipating thought. Her element is her household, and the managernent of her chil. dren; and till she becomes a mother, she has no object of consequence enough to occupy the mind, and preserve it from feeling unpleasant agitations. I mean not, however, to insinuate, that there is

any thing really reproachful in virginity, unless a woman chooses to render it such, by verifying the stigmas which have been fixed upon it, and substantiating, in her own practice, the malevolence, envy, scandal, curiosity, and spleen, which have so often sarcastically been imputed to the sisterhood. It may be, and sometimes is, the choice of yery amiable women, who would not marry any but the man of their affections, or with whom they had a rational prospect of happiness; who, having been by death or disappointment deprived of one, had a delicacy that never admitted the idea of a second attachment, or who were not so devoid of principle and taste, as to be connected with a dissolute, drunken, or abandoned person, whatever might be his fortune, consequence, or connexions. Women, who act from such principles, may be exposed to the indelicate scoffs of the licentious, but must have the unreserved esteem and veneration of all the sensible and the good. It should no,

however, be dissembled, (for it arises from natural principles,) that married women are generally more pleasing than such as never formed this connexion. Their hearts are continually refined, softened, and enlarged, by the exercise of all the tender feelings to an offspring, whilst the weighty concerns of their particular families raise them above that frivolous insipidity, which, with whatever justice, is the proverbial stigma of a single state.

A married woman, likewise, has banished that shy reserve, which young

ladies think themselves, and, indeed, in some degree are obliged to practice, but which, necessary as it may be, conceals

many

of their loveliest graces. The society, moreover, of a sensible man gives, to a female, a richer fund of ideas, a superior mode of thinking and acting, agreeably tempers her vivacity with seriousness, and introduces her to many improving acquaintance and entertaining circles, from which the ceremonious coldness of a virgin state must have kept her at an unapproachable distance.

Be not, however, disappointed, if all your merit and amiableness do not secure to you such a connexion as your principles and judgment can approve.

In proportion as the morals of men are depraved, marriage will always be unfashionable and rare; and there are thousands amongst us, who have neither knowledge, sense, or virtue enough, to wish for all that delicacy of friendship,

« PreviousContinue »