Part 6 out of 11
"Not quite, my dearest Pamela; and therefore, if you have no
objection, I will change my dress, and attend you in the chariot for
an hour or two, whither you please, that not one shadow may remain
visible in this dear face;" tenderly saluting me.
"Whithersoever you please, Sir. A little airing with you will be
highly agreeable to me."
The dear obliger went and changed his dress in an instant; and he
led me to the chariot, with his usual tender politeness, and we had a
charming airing of several miles; returning quite happy, cheerful, and
delighted with each other's conversation, without calling in upon any
of our good neighbours: for what need of that, my dear, when we could
be the best company in the world to each other?
Do these instances come up to your questions, my dear? or, do they
not?--If you think not, I could give you our conversation in the
chariot: for I wrote it down at my first leisure, so highly was I
delighted with it; for the subject was my dearest parents; a subject
started by himself, because he knew it would oblige me. But being
tired with writing, I may reserve it, till I have the pleasure of
seeing you, if you think it worth asking for. And so I will hasten to
a conclusion of this long letter.
I have only farther to add, for my comfort, that next Thursday
se'n-night, if nothing hinders, we are to set out for London. And why
do you think I say _for my comfort?_ Only that I shall then soon have
the opportunity, to assure you personally, as you give me hope, how
much I am, my dear Miss Darnford, _your truly affectionate_. P.B.
My dear Miss Darnford,
One more letter, and I have done for a great while, because I hope
your presence will put an end to the occasion. I shall now tell you of
my second visit to the dairy-house, where we went to breakfast, in the
chariot and four, because of the distance, which is ten pretty long
I transcribed for you, from letters written formerly to my dear
parents, an account of my former dairy-house visit, and what the
people were, and whom I saw there; and although I besought you to keep
that affair to yourself, as too much affecting the reputation of my
Mr. B. to be known any farther, and even to destroy that account, when
you had perused it; yet, I make no doubt, you remember the story, and
so I need not repeat any part of it.
When we arrived there, we found at the door, expecting us (for they
heard the chariot-wheels at a distance), my pretty Miss Goodwin,
and two other Misses, who had earned their ride, attended by the
governess's daughter, a discreet young gentlewoman. As soon as I
stepped out, the child ran into my arms with great eagerness, and I
as tenderly embraced her, and leading her into the parlour, asked her
abundance of questions about her work, and her lessons; and among the
rest if she had merited this distinction of the chaise and dairy-house
breakfast, or if it was owing to her uncle's favour, and to that of
her governess? The young gentlewoman assured me it was to both, and
shewed me her needleworks, and penmanship; and the child was highly
pleased with my commendations.
I took a good deal of notice of the other two Misses, for their
school-fellow's sake, and made each of them a present of some little
toys; and my Miss, of a number of pretty trinkets, with which she
was highly delighted; and I told her, that I would wait upon her
governess, when I came from London into the country again, and see in
what order she kept her little matters; for, above all things, I love
pretty house-wifely Misses; and then, I would bring her more.
Mr. B. observed, with no small satisfaction, the child's behaviour,
which is very pretty; and appeared as fond of her, as if he had been
_more_ than her _uncle_, and yet seemed under some restraint, lest it
should be taken, that he _was_ more. Such power has secret guilt, poor
gentleman! to lessen and restrain a pleasure, that would, in a happier
light, have been so laudable to have manifested!
I am going to let you into a charming scene, resulting from this
perplexity of the dear gentleman. A scene that has afforded me high
delight ever since; and always will, when I think of it.
The child was very fond of her uncle, and told him she loved him
dearly, and always would love and honour him, for giving her such a
good aunt. "You talked, Madam," said she, "when I saw you before, that
I should come and live with you--Will you let me, Madam? Indeed I will
be very good, and do every thing you bid me, and mind my book, and my
needle; indeed I will."
"Ask your uncle, my dear," said I; "I should like your pretty company
of all things."
She went to Mr. B. and said, "Shall I, Sir, go and live with my
aunt?--Pray let me, when you come from London again."
"You have a very good governess, child," said he; "and she can't part
"Yes, but she can. Sir; she has a great many Misses, and can spare me
well enough; and if you please to let me ride in your coach sometimes,
I can go and visit my governess, and beg a holiday for the Misses,
now-and-then, when I am almost a woman, and then all the Misses will
"Don't the Misses love you now, Miss Goodwin?" said he.
"Yes, they love me well enough, for matter of that; but they'll love
me better, when I can beg them a holiday. Do, dear Sir, let me go home
to my new aunt, next time you come into the country."
I was much pleased with the dear child's earnestness; and permitted her
to have her full argument with her beloved uncle; but was much moved,
and he himself was under some concern, when she said, "But you should,
in pity, let me live with you, Sir, for I have no papa, nor mamma
neither: they are so far off!--But I will love you both as if you were
my own papa and mamma; so, dear now, my good uncle, promise the poor
girl that has never a papa nor mamma!"
I withdrew to the door: "It will rain, I believe," said I, and looked
up. And, indeed, I had almost a shower in my eye: and had I kept my
place, could not have refrained shewing how much I was affected.
Mr. B., as I said, was a little moved; but for fear the young
gentlewoman should take notice of it--"How! my dear," said he, "no
papa and mamma!--Did they not send you a pretty black boy to wait upon
you, a while ago? Have you forgot that?"--"That's true," replied she:
"but what's a black boy to living with my new aunt?--That's better a
great deal than a black boy!"
"Well, your aunt and I will consider of it, when we come from London.
Be a good girl, meantime, and do as your governess would have you, and
then you don't know what we may do for you."
"Well then, Miss," said she to her young governess, "let me be set two
tasks instead of one, and I will learn all I can to deserve to go to
In this manner the little prattler diverted herself. And as we
returned from them, the scene I hinted at, opened as follows:
Mr. B. was pleased to say, "What a poor figure does the proudest man
make, my dear Pamela, under the sense of a concealed guilt, in company
of the innocent who know it, and even of those who do not!--Since the
casual expression of a baby shall overwhelm him with shame, and
make him unable to look up without confusion. I blushed for myself,"
continued he, "to see how you were affected for me, and yet withdrew,
to avoid reproaching me so much as with a look. Surely, Pamela, I
must then make a most contemptible appearance in your eye! Did you not
disdain me at that moment?"
"Dearest Sir! how can you speak such a word? A word I cannot
repeat after you! For at that very time, I beheld you with the more
reverence, for seeing your noble heart touched with a sense of your
error; and it was such an earnest to me of the happiest change I could
ever wish for, and in so young a gentleman, that it was one half
joy for that, and the other half concern at the little charmer's
accidental plea, to her best and nearest friend, for coming home to
her new aunt, that affected me so sensibly as you saw."
"You must not talk to me of the child's coming home, after this visit,
Pamela; for how, at this rate, shall I stand the reproaches of my own
mind, when I see the little prater every day before me, and think of
what her poor mamma has suffered on my account! 'Tis enough, that in
_you_, my dear, I have an hourly reproach before me, for my attempts
on your virtue; and I have nothing to boast of, but that I gave way to
the triumphs of your innocence: and what then is my boast?"
"What is your boast, dearest Sir? You have everything to boast, that
is worthy of being boasted of.
"You are the best of husbands, the best of landlords, the best of
masters, the best of friends; and, with all these excellencies, and
a mind, as I hope, continually improving, and more and more affected
with the sense of its past mistakes, will you ask, dear Sir, what is
"O my dearest, dear Mr. B.," and then I pressed his hands with my
lips, "whatever you are to yourself, when you give way to reflections
so hopeful, you are the glory and the boast of your grateful Pamela!
And permit me to add," tears standing in my eyes, and holding his hand
between mine, "that I never beheld you in my life, in a more amiable
light, than when I saw that noble consciousness which you speak of,
manifest itself in your eyes, and your countenance--O Sir! this was a
sight of joy, of true joy! to one who loves you for your dear soul's
sake, as well as for that of your person; and who looks forward to a
companionship with you beyond the term of this transitory life."
Putting my arms round his arms, as I sat, my fearful eye watching his,
"I fear. Sir, I have been too serious! I have, perhaps, broken one
of your injunctions! Have cast a gloominess over your mind! And if I
have, dear Sir, forgive me!"
He clasped his arms around me: "O my beloved Pamela," said he; "thou
dear confirmer of all my better purposes! How shall I acknowledge your
inexpressible goodness to me? I see every day more and more, my dear
love, what confidence I may repose in your generosity and discretion!
You want no forgiveness; and my silence was owing to much better
motives than to those you were apprehensive of."
He saw my grateful transport, and kindly said, "Struggle not, my
beloved Pamela, for words to express sentiments which your eyes and
your countenance much more significantly express than any words _can_
do. Every day produces new instances of your affectionate concern for
my _future_ as well as _present_ happiness: and I will endeavour to
confirm to you all the hopes which the present occasion has given you
of me, and which I see by these transporting effects are so desirable
The chariot brought us home sooner than I wished, and Mr. B. handed me
into the parlour.
"Here, Mrs. Jervis," said he, meeting her in the passage, "receive
your angelic lady. I must take a little tour without you, Pamela; for
I have had _too much_ of your dear company, and must leave you, to
descend again into myself; for you have raised me to such a height,
that it is with pain I look down from it."
He kissed my hand, and went into his chariot again; for it was but
half an hour after twelve; and said he would be back by two at dinner.
He left Mrs. Jervis wondering at his words, and at the solemn air with
which he uttered them. But when I told that good friend the occasion,
I had a new joy in the pleasure and gratulations of the dear good
woman, on what had passed.
My next letter will be from London, and to you, my honoured parents;
for to you, my dear, I shall not write again, expecting to see
you soon. But I must now write seldomer, because I am to renew my
correspondence with Lady Davers; with whom I cannot be so free, as
I have been with Miss Darnford; and so I doubt, my dear father and
mother, you cannot have the particulars of that correspondence; for I
shall never find time to transcribe.
But every opportunity that offers, you may assure yourselves, shall be
laid hold of by your ever-dutiful daughter.
And now, my dear Miss Darnford, as I inscribed this letter to you, let
me conclude it, with the assurance, that I am, and ever will be _your
most affectionate friend and servant_, P.B.
MY DEAR FATHER AND MOTHER,
I know you will be pleased to hear that we arrived safely in town last
night. We found a stately, well-furnished, and convenient house; and
I had my closet, or library, and my withdrawing room, all in complete
order, which Mr. B. gave me possession of in the most obliging manner.
I am in a new world, as I may say, and see such vast piles of
building, and such a concourse of people, and hear such a rattling
of coaches in the day, that I hardly know what to make of it, as yet.
Then the nightly watch, going their hourly rounds, disturbed me. But
I shall soon be used to that, and sleep the sounder, perhaps, for the
security it assures to us.
Mr. B. is impatient to shew me what is curious in and about this vast
city, and to hear, as he is pleased to say, my observations upon what
I shall see. He has carried me through several of the fine streets
this day in his chariot; but, at present, I have too confused a notion
of things, to give any account of them: nor shall I trouble you with
descriptions of that kind; for you being within a day's journey of
London, I hope for the pleasure of seeing you oftener than I could
expect before; and shall therefore leave these matters to your own
observations, and what you'll hear from others.
I am impatient for the arrival of my dear Miss Darnford, whose company
and conversation will reconcile me, in a great measure, to this new
Our family at present are Colbrand, Jonathan, and six men servants,
including the coachman. The four maids are also with us.
But my good Mrs. Jervis was indisposed; so came not up with us; but we
expect her and Mr. Longman in a day or two: for Mr. B. has given her
to my wishes; and as Mr. Longman's business will require him to be up
and down frequently, Mrs. Jervis's care will be the better dispensed
with. I long to see the dear good woman, and shall be more in my
element when I do.
Then I have, besides, my penitent Polly Barlow, who has never held
up her head since that deplorable instance of her weakness, which I
mentioned to you and to Miss Darnford, yet am I as kind to her as if
nothing bad happened. I wish, however, some good husband would offer
Mr. Adams, our worthy chaplain, is now with Mr. Williams. He purposes
to give us his company here till Christmas, when probably matters will
be adjusted for him to take possession of his living. Meantime, not to
let fall a good custom, when perhaps we have most occasion for it, I
make Jonathan, who is reverend by his years and silver hairs, supply
his place, appointing him the prayers he is to read.
God preserve you both in health, and continue to me, I beseech you,
your prayers and blessings, concludes _your ever dutiful daughter_, P.
_From Mrs. B. to Lady Davers._
My Dearest Lady,
I must beg pardon, for having been in this great town more than a
week, and not having found an opportunity to tender my devoirs to your
ladyship. You know, dear Madam, what hurries and fatigues must attend
such a journey, to one in my way, and to an entire new settlement
in which an hundred things must be done, and attended to, with a
preference to other occasions, however delightful. Yet, I must own, we
found a stately, well-ordered, and convenient house: but, although it
is not far from the fields, and has an airy opening to its back part,
and its front to a square, as it is called, yet I am not reconciled to
it, so entirely as to the beloved mansion we left.
My dear Mr. B. has been, and is, busily employed in ordering some few
alterations, to make things still more commodious. He has furnished me
out a pretty library; and has allotted me very convenient apartments
besides: the furniture of every place is rich, as befits the mind and
fortune of the generous owner. But I shall not offer at particulars,
as we hope to have the honour of a visit from my good lord, and your
ladyship, before the winter weather sets in, to make the roads too
dirty and deep: but it is proper to mention, that the house is so
large, that we can make a great number of beds, the more conveniently
to receive the honours of your ladyship, and my lord, and Mr. B.'s
other friends will do us.
I have not yet been at any of the public diversions. Mr. B. has
carried me, by gentle turns, out of his workmen's way, ten miles round
this overgrown capital, and through the principal of its numerous
streets. The villages that lie spangled about this vast circumference,
as well on the other side the noble Thames (which I had before a
notion of, from Sir John Denham's celebrated Cooper's Hill), as on the
Middlesex side, are beautiful, both by buildings and situation, beyond
what I had imagined, and several of them seem larger than many of our
country towns of note. But it would be impertinent to trouble your
ladyship with these matters, who are no stranger to what is worthy
of notice in London. But I was surprised, when Mr. B. observed to me,
that this whole county, and the two cities of London and Westminster,
are represented in parliament by no more than eight members, when so
many borough towns in England are inferior to the meanest villages
I am in daily expectation of the arrival of Miss Darnford, and then I
shall wish (accompanied by a young lady of so polite a taste) to see
a good play. Mr. B. has already shewn me the opera-house, and the
play-houses, though silent, as I may say; that, as he was pleased to
observe, they should not be new to me, and that the sight might not
take off my attention from the performance, when I went to the play;
so that I can conceive a tolerable notion of every thing, from the
disposition of the seats, the boxes, galleries, pit, the music,
scenes, and the stage; and so shall have no occasion to gaze about me,
like a country novice, whereby I might attract a notice that I would
not wish, either for my own credit, or your dear brother's honour.
I have had a pleasure which I had not in Bedfordshire; and that is,
that on Sunday I was at church, without gaping crowds to attend us,
and blessings too loud for my wishes. Yet I was more gazed at (and
so was Mr. B.) than I expected, considering there were so many
well-dressed gentry, and some nobility there, and _they_ stared as
much as any body, but will not, I hope, when we cease to be a novelty.
We have already had several visitors to welcome Mr. B. to town, and to
congratulate him on his marriage; but some, no doubt, to see, and to
find fault with his rustic; for it is impossible, you know, Madam,
that a gentleman so distinguished by his merit and fortune should have
taken a step of such consequence to himself and family, and not to
have been known by every body so to have done.
Sir Thomas Atkyns is in town, and has taken apartments in Hanover
Square; and he brought with him a younger brother of Mr. Arthur's,
who, it seems, is a merchant.
Lord F. has also been to pay his respects to Mr. B. whose school
fellow he was at Eton, the little time Mr. B. was there. His lordship
promises, that his lady shall make me a visit, and accompany me to the
opera, as soon as we are fully settled.
A gentleman of the Temple, Mr. Turner by name, and Mr. Fanshow of
Gray's Inn, both lawyers, and of Mr. B.'s former acquaintance, very
sprightly and modish gentlemen, have also welcomed us to town, and
made Mr. B. abundance of gay compliments on my account to my face, all
in the common frothy run.
They may be polite gentlemen, but I can't say I over-much like them.
There is something so opiniated, so seemingly insensible of rebuke,
either from _within_ or _without_, and yet not promising to avoid
deserving one occasionally, that I could as _lieve_ wish Mr. B. and
they would not renew their former acquaintance.
I am very bold your ladyship will say--But you command me to write
freely: yet I would not be thought to be uneasy, with regard to your
dear brother's morals, from these gentlemen; for, oh, Madam, I am a
blessed creature, and am hourly happier and happier in the confidence
I have as to that particular: but I imagine they will force
themselves upon him, more than he may wish, or would permit, were the
acquaintance now to begin; for they are not of his turn of mind, as
it seems to me; being, by a sentence or two that dropt from them, very
free, and very frothy in their conversation; and by their laughing at
what they say themselves, taking that for wit which will not stand the
test, if I may be allowed to say so.
But they have heard, no doubt, what a person Mr. B.'s goodness to me
has lifted into notice; and they think themselves warranted to say any
thing before his country girl.
He was pleased to ask me, when they were gone, how I liked his two
lawyers? And said, they were persons of family and fortune.
"I am glad of it, Sir," said I; "for their own sakes."
"Then you don't approve of them, Pamela?"
"They are _your_ friends, Sir; and I cannot have any dislike to them."
"They say good things _sometimes_," returned he.
"I don't doubt it, Sir; but you say good things _always_."
"'Tis happy for me, my dear, you think so. But tell me, what you think
"I shall be better able, Sir, to answer your questions, if I see them
a second time."
"But we form notions of persons at first sight, sometimes, my dear;
and you are seldom mistaken in yours."
"I only think. Sir, that they have neither of them any diffidence: but
their profession, perhaps, may set them above that."
"They don't _practise_, my dear; their fortunes enable them to live
without it; and they are too studious of their pleasures, to give
themselves any trouble they are not obliged to take."
"They seem to me. Sir, _qualified_ for practice: they would make great
figures at the bar, I fancy."
"Only, because they seem prepared to think _well_ of what they say
_themselves_; and _lightly_ of what _other people_ say, or may think,
"That, indeed, my dear, is the necessary qualifications of a public
speaker, be he lawyer, or what he will: the man who cannot doubt
_himself_, and can think meanly of his _auditors_, never fails to
speak with _self-applause_ at least."
"But you'll pardon me, good Sir, for speaking my mind so freely, and
so early of these _your friends_."
"I never, my love, ask you a question, I wish you not to answer; and
always expect your answer should be without reserve; for many times
I may ask your opinion, as a corrective or a confirmation of my own
How kind, how indulgent was this, my good lady! But you know, how
generously your dear brother treats me, on all occasions; and this
makes me so bold as I often am.
It may be necessary, my dear lady, to give you an account of our
visitors, in order to make the future parts of my writing the more
intelligible; because what I have to write may turn sometimes upon the
company we see: for which reason, I shall also just mention Sir George
Stuart, a Scottish gentleman, with whom Mr. B. became acquainted in
his travels, who seems to be a polite (and Mr. B. says, is a learned)
man, and a virtuoso: he, and a nephew of his, of the same name, a
bashful gentleman, and who, for that reason, I imagine, has a merit
that lies deeper than a first observation can reach, are just gone
from us, and were received with so much civility by Mr. B. as entitles
them to my respectful regard.
Thus, Madam, do I run on, in a manner, without materials; and only
to shew you the pleasure I take in obeying you. I hope my good Lord
Davers enjoys his health, and continues me in his favour; which I
value extremely, as well as your ladyship's. Mr. H., I hope, likewise
enjoys his health. But let me not forget my particular and thankful
respects to the Countess, for her favour and goodness to me, which I
shall ever place next, in my grateful esteem, to the honours I
have received from your ladyship, and which bind me to be, with the
greatest respect, _your faithful and obliged servant_, P.B.
MY DEAR FATHER AND MOTHER,
I write to you both, at this time, for your advice in a particular
dispute, which is the only one I have had, or I hope ever shall have,
with my dear benefactor; and as he is pleased to insist upon his
way, and it is a point of conscience with me, I must resolve to be
determined by your joint advice; for, if my father and mother, and
husband, are of one opinion, I must, I think, yield up my own.
This is the subject:--I think a mother ought, if she can, to be the
nurse to her own children.
Mr. B. says, he will not permit it.
It is the first _will not_ I have heard from him, or given occasion
for: and I tell him, that it is a point of conscience with me, and
I hope he will indulge me: but the dear gentleman has an odd way of
arguing, that sometimes puzzles me. He pretends to answer me from
Scripture; but I have some doubts of _his_ exposition; and he gives me
leave to write to you, though yet he won't promise to be determined by
your opinions if they are not the same with his own; and I say to him,
"Is this fair, my dearest Mr. B.? Is it?"
He has got the dean's opinion with him; for our debate began before we
came to town: and then he would not let me state the case; but did it
himself; and yet 'tis but an half opinion, as I may, neither. For it
is, that if the husband is set upon it, it is a wife's duty to obey.
But I can't see how that is; for if it be the _natural_ duty of a
mother, it is a _divine_ duty; and how can a husband have power to
discharge a divine duty? As great as a wife's obligation is to obey
her husband, which is, I own, one indispensable of the marriage
contract, it ought not to interfere with what one takes to be a
superior duty; and must not one be one's own judge of actions, by
which we must stand or fall?
I'll tell you my plea:
I say, that where a mother is unhealthy; subject to communicative
distempers, as scrophulous or scorbutic, or consumptive disorders,
which have infected the blood or lungs; or where they have not plenty
of nourishment for the child, that in these cases, a dispensation lies
But where there is good health, free spirits, and plentiful
nourishment, I think it an indispensable duty.
For this was the custom of old, of all the good wives we read of in
Then the nourishment of the mother must be most natural to the child.
These were my pleas, among others: and this is his answer which he
gave to me in writing:
"As to what you allege, my dear, of old customs; times and fashions
are much changed. If you tell me of Sarah's, or Rachel's, or
Rebecca's, or Leah's nursing their children, I can answer, that the
one drew water at a well, for her father's flocks; another kneaded
cakes, and baked them on the hearth; another dressed savoury meat
for her husband; and all of them performed the common offices of the
household: and when our modern ladies shall follow such examples in
_every thing_, their plea ought to be allowed in this.
"Besides, my fondness for your personal graces, and the laudable, and,
I will say, honest pleasure, I take in that easy, genteel form, which
every body admires in you, at first sight, oblige me to declare, that
I can by no means consent to sacrifice these to the carelessness into
which I have seen very nice ladies sink, when they became nurses.
Moreover, my chief delight in you is for the beauties of your mind;
and unequalled as they are, in my opinion, you have still a genius
capable of great improvement; and I shan't care, when I want to hear
my Pamela read her French and Latin lessons, which I take so much
delight to teach her (and to endeavour to improve myself from her
virtue and piety, at the same time), to seek my beloved in the
nursery; or to permit her to be engrossed by those baby offices, which
will better befit weaker minds.
"No, my dear, you must allow me to look upon you as my scholar, in one
sense; as my companion in another; and as my instructress, in a third.
You know I am not governed by the worst motives: I am half overcome by
your virtue: and you must take care, that you leave not your work half
done. But I cannot help looking upon the nurse's office, as an office
beneath Pamela. Let it have your inspection, your direction, and your
sole attention, if you please, when I am abroad: but when I am at
home, even a son and heir, so jealous am I of your affections, shall
not be my rival in them: nor will I have my rest broken in upon, by
your servants bringing to you your dear little one, at times,
perhaps, as unsuitable to my repose and your own, as to the child's
"The chief thing with you, my dear, is that you think it unnatural in
a mother not to be a nurse to her own child, if she can; and what is
unnatural, you say, is sin.
"Some men may be fond of having their wives undertake this province,
and good reasons may be assigned for such their fondness; but it
suits not me at all. And yet no man would be thought to have a greater
affection for children than myself, or be more desirous to do them
justice; for I think every one should look forward to posterity with
a preference: but if my Pamela can be _better_ employed; if the office
can be equally well performed; if your direction and superintendence
will be sufficient; and if I cannot look upon you in that way with
equal delight, as if it was otherwise; I insist upon it, my Pamela,
that you acquiesce with my _dispensation_, and don't think to let me
lose my beloved wife, and have a nurse put upon me instead of her.
"As to that (the nearest to me of all) of dangers to your
constitution: there is as much reason to hope it may not be so, as to
fear that it _may_. For children sometimes bring health with them as
well as infirmity; and it is not a little likely, that the _nurse's_
office may affect the health of one I hold most dear, who has no very
robust constitution, and thinks it so much her duty to attend to it,
that she will abridge herself of half the pleasures of life, and on
that account confine herself within doors, or, in the other case, must
take with her her infant and her nursery-maid wherever she goes; and
I shall either have very fine company (shall I not?) or be obliged to
deny myself yours.
"Then, as I propose to give you a smattering of the French and
Italian, I know not but I may take you on a little tour into France
and Italy; at least, to Bath, Tunbridge, Oxford, York, and the
principal places of England. Wherefore, as I love to look upon you as
the companion of my pleasures, I advise you, my dearest love, not to
weaken, or, to speak in a phrase proper to the present subject, _wean_
me from that love _to_ you, and admiration _of_ you, which hitherto
has been rather increasing than otherwise, as your merit, and regard
for me have increased."
These, my dear parents, are charming allurements, almost irresistible
temptations! And what makes me mistrust myself the more, and be the
more diffident; for we are but too apt to be persuaded into any thing,
when the motives are so tempting as the last.
I take it for granted, that many wives will not choose to dispute
this point so earnestly as I have done; for we have had several little
debates about it; and it is the only point I have ever yet debated
with him; but one would not be altogether implicit neither. It is no
compliment to him to be quite passive, and to have no will at all of
one's own: yet would I not dispute one point, but in supposition of
a superior obligation: and this, he says, he can _dispense_ with. But
alas! my dear Mr. B. was never yet thought so entirely fit to fill up
the character of a casuistical divine, as that one may absolutely rely
upon his decisions in these serious points: and you know we must stand
or fall by our own judgments.
Upon condition, therefore, that he requires not to see this my
letter, nor your answer to it, I write for your advice. But this I see
plainly, that he will have his own way; and if I cannot get over my
scruples, what shall I do? For if I think it a _sin_ to submit to the
dispensation he insists upon as in his power to grant, and to submit
to it, what will become of my peace of mind? For it is not in our
power to believe as one will.
As to the liberty he gives me for a month, I should be loath to take
it; for one knows not the inconveniences that may attend a change of
nourishment; or if I did, I should rather--But I know not what I would
say; for I am but a young creature to be in this way, and so very
unequal to it in every respect! So I commit myself to God's direction,
and your advice, as becomes _your ever dutiful daughter_, P.B.
My Dearest Child,
Your mother and I have as well considered the case you put as we are
able; and we think your own reasons very good; and it is a thousand
pities your honoured husband will not allow them, as you, my dear,
make it such a point with you. Very few ladies would give their
spouses, we believe, the trouble of this debate; and few gentlemen are
so very nice as yours in this respect; for I (but what signifies
what such a mean soul as I think, compared to so learned and brave a
gentleman; yet I) always thought your dear mother, and she has been a
pretty woman too, in her time, never looked so lovely, as when I saw
her, like the pelican in the wilderness, feeding her young ones from
her kind breast:--and had I never so noble an estate, I should have
had the same thoughts.
But since the good 'squire cannot take this pleasure; since he so much
values your person; since he gives you warning, that it may estrange
his affections; since he is impatient of denial, and thinks so highly
of his prerogative; since he may, if disobliged, resume some bad
habits, and so you may have all your prayers and hopes in his perfect
reformation frustrated, and find your own power to do good more
narrowed: we think, besides the obedience you have vowed to him, and
is the duty of every good wife, you ought to give up the point, and
acquiesce; for this seemeth to us to be the lesser evil: and God
Almighty, if it should be your duty, will not be less merciful than
men; who, as his honour says, by the laws of the realm, excuses a
wife, when she is faulty by the command of the husband; and we hope,
the fault he is pleased to make you commit (if a fault, for he really
gives very praise-worthy motives for his dispensation) will not be
laid at his own door. So e'en resolve, my dearest child, to submit to
it, and with cheerfulness too.
God send you an happy hour! But who knows, when the time comes,
whether it may not be proper to dispense with this duty, as you
deem it, on other accounts? For every young person is not enabled
to perform it. So, to shew his honour, that you will cheerfully
acquiesce, your dear mother advises you to look out for a wholesome,
good-humoured, honest body, as near your complexion and temper, and
constitution, as may be; and it may not be the worse, she thinks,
if she is twenty, or one--or two-and-twenty; for she will have more
strength and perfection, as one may say, than even you can have at
your tender age: and, above all, for the wise reason you give from
your reading, that she may be brought to-bed much about your time, if
possible. We can look out, about us, for such an one. And, as Mr. B.
is not adverse to have the dear child in the house, you will have as
much delight, and the dear baby may fare as well, under your prudent
and careful eye, as if you were obliged in the way you would choose.
So God direct you, my child, in all your ways, and make you acquiesce
in this point with cheerfulness (although, as you say, one cannot
believe, as one pleases; for we verily are of opinion you safely may,
as matters stand) and continue to you, and your honoured husband,
health, and all manner of happiness, are the prayers of _your most
affectionate father and mother,_
J. _and_ E. ANDREWS.
I thank you, my dearest parents, for your kind letter; it was given to
Mr. B. and he brought it to me himself, and was angry with me: indeed
he was, as you shall hear:
"'Tis from the good couple, my dear, I see. I hope they are of my
opinion--But whether they be or not--But I will leave you; and do you,
Pamela, step down to my closet, when you have perused it."
He was pleased to withdraw; and I read it, and sat down, and
considered it well; but, as you know I made it always my maxim to
do what I could not avoid to do, with as good a grace as possible, I
waited on the dear gentleman.
"Well, Pamela," said he, a little seriously, "what say the worthy
"O Sir! they declare for you. They say, it is best for me to yield up
"They are certainly in the right--But were you not a dear perverse
creature, to give me all this trouble about your saucy scruples?"
"Nay, Sir, don't call them so," said I, little thinking he was
displeased with me. "I still am somewhat wavering; though they advise
me to acquiesce; and, as it is your will, and you have determined, it
is my duty to yield up the point."
"But do you yield it up cheerfully, my dear?"
"I do, Sir; and will never more dispute it, let what will happen. And
I beg pardon for having so often entered into this subject with you.
But you know, Sir, if one's weakness of mind gives one scruples, one
should not yield implicitly, till they are satisfied; for that would
look as if one gave not you the obedience of a free mind."
"You are very obliging, _just now_, my dear; but I can tell you, you
had made me half serious; yet I would not shew it, in compliment
to your present condition; for I did not expect that you would have
thought any appeal necessary, though to your parents, in a point that
I was determined upon, as you must see, every time we talked of it."
This struck me all in a heap. I looked down to the ground: having no
courage to look up to his face, for fear I should behold his aspect as
mortifying to me as his words. But he took both my hands, and drew me
kindly to him, and saluted me, "Excuse me, my dearest love: I am not
angry with you. Why starts this precious pearl?" and kissed my cheek:
"speak to me, Pamela!"
"I will, Sir--I will--as soon as I can:" for this being my first
check, so seriously given, my heart was full. But as I knew he would
be angry, and think me obstinate, if I did not speak, I said, full
of concern, "I wish, Sir--I wish--you had been pleased to spare me a
little longer, for the same kind, very kind, consideration."
"But is it not better, my dear, to tell you I _was_ a little out of
humour with you, than that I _am_?--But you were very earnest with
me on this point more than once; and you put me upon a hated, because
ungenerous, necessity of pleading my prerogative, as I call it; yet
this would not do, but you appealed against me in the point I was
determined upon, for reasons altogether in your favour: and if this
was not like my Pamela, excuse me, that I could not help being a
little unlike myself."
"Ah!" thought I, "this is not so very unlike your dear self, were I to
give the least shadow of an occasion; for it is of a piece with your
"I am sure," said I, "I was not in the least aware, that I had
offended. But I was too little circumspect. I had been used to your
goodness for so long a time, that I expected it, it seems; and thought
I was sure of your favourable construction."
"Why, so you may be, my dear, in every thing _almost_. But I don't
love to speak twice my mind on the same subject; you know I don't!
and you have really disputed this point with me five or six times;
insomuch, that I wondered what was come to my dearest."
"I thought, Sir, you would have distinguished between a command where
my _conscience_ was concerned, and a _common_ point: you know. Sir, I
never had any will but yours in _common_ points. But, indeed, you make
me fearful because my task is rendered too difficult for my own weak
I was silent, but by my tears.
"Now, I doubt, Pamela, your spirit is high. You won't speak, because
you are out of humour at what I say. I will have no sullen reserves,
my dearest. What means that heaving sob? I know that this is the time
with your sex, when, saddened with your apprehensions, and indulged
because of them, by the fond husband, it is needful, for both their
sakes, to watch over the changes of their temper. For ladies in your
way are often like encroaching subjects; apt to extend what they call
their privileges, on the indulgence shewed them; and the husband never
again recovers the ascendant he had before."
"You know these things better than I, Mr. B. But I had no intention
to invade your province, or to go out of my own. Yet I thought I had a
right to a little free will, on some greater occasions."
"Why, so you have, my dear. But you must not plead in behalf of your
own will, and refuse to give due weight to mine." "Well, Sir, I must
needs say, I have one advantage above others of my sex; for if wives,
in my circumstances, are apt to grow upon indulgence, I am very happy
that your kind and watchful care will hinder me from falling into that
He gave me a gentle tap on the neck: "Let me beat my beloved
sauce-box," said he: "is it thus you rally my watchful care over you
for your own good? But tell me, truly, Pamela, are you not a little
sullen? Look up to me, my dear. Are you not?"
"I believe I am; but 'tis but very little, Sir. It will soon go
off. Please to let me withdraw, that I may take myself to task about
it;-for at present, I know not what to do, because I did not expect
the displeasure I have incurred."
"Is it not the same thing," replied he, "if this our first quarrel end
here, without your withdrawing?--I forgive you heartily, my Pamela;
and give me one kiss, and I will think of your saucy appeal against me
"I will comply with your condition, Sir; but I have a great mind to be
saucy. I wish you would let me for this once."
"What would you say, my dearest?--Be saucy then, as you call it, as
saucy as you can."
"Why; then I _am_ a little sullen at present, that I am; and I am not
fully convinced, whether it must be I that forgive you, or you me.
For, indeed, if I can recollect, I cannot think my fault so great in
this point, that was a point of conscience to me, as (pardon me Sir),
to stand in need of your forgiveness."
"Well, then, my dearest," said he, "we will forgive one another?
but take this with you, that it is my love to you that makes me more
delicate than otherwise I should be; and you have inured me so much to
a faultless conduct, that I can hardly bear with natural infirmities
from you.--But," giving me another tap, "get you gone; I leave you to
your recollection; and let me know what fruits it produces: for I must
not be put off with a half-compliance; I must have your whole will
with me, if possible."
So I went up, and recollecting every thing, _sacrificed to my sex_,
as Mr. B. calls it, when he talks of a wife's reluctance to yield a
favourite point: for I shed many tears, because my heart was set upon
And so, my dear parents, twenty charming ideas and pleasures I had
formed to myself, are vanished from me, and my measures are quite
broken. But after my heart was relieved by my eye, I was lighter and
easier. And the result is, we have heard of a good sort of woman,
that is to be my poor _baby's mother_, when it comes; so your
kindly-offered enquiries are needless, I believe.
'Tis well for our sex in general, that there are not many husbands who
distinguish thus nicely. For, I doubt, there are but very few so well
entitled to their ladies' observances as Mr. B. is to mine, and who
would act so generously and so tenderly by a wife as he does, in every
material instance on which the happiness of life depends.
But we are quite reconciled; although as I said, upon his own terms:
and so I can still style myself, _my dear honoured parents, your
happy, as well as your dutiful daughter_, P.B.
_From Lady Davers to Mrs. B._
My Dear Pamela,
I have sent you a present, the completest I could procure, of every
thing that may suit your approaching happy circumstance; as I hope
it will be to you, and to us all: but it is with a hope annexed, that
although both sexes are thought of in it, you will not put us off with
a girl: no, child, we will not permit you, may we have our wills, to
_think_ of giving us a girl, till you have presented us with half a
dozen fine boys. For our line is gone so low, we expect that
human security from you in your first seven years, or we shall be
I will now give you their names, if my brother and you approve of
them: your first shall be BILLY; my Lord Davers, and the Earl of
C----, godfathers; and it must be doubly godmothered too, or I am
afraid the countess and I shall fall out about it. Your second DAVERS;
be sure remember that.--Your third, CHARLEY; your fourth, JEMMY; your
fifth, HARRY; your sixth--DUDLEY, if you will--and your girl, if you
had not rather call it PAMELA, shall be called BARBARA.--The rest name
as you please.--And so, my dear, I wish all seven happily over with
I am glad you got safe to town: and long to hear of Miss Darnford's
arrival, because I know you'll be out of your bias in your new
settlement till then. She is a fine lady, and writes the most to my
taste of any one of her sex that I know, next to you. I wish she'd be
so kind as to correspond with me. But be sure don't omit to give me
the sequel of her sister's and Murray's affair, and what you think
will please me in relation to her.-You do well to save yourself
the trouble of describing the town and the public places. We are no
strangers to them; and they are too much our table talk, when
any country lady has for the first time been carried to town, and
returned: besides, what London affords, is nothing that deserves
mention, compared to what we have seen at Paris and at Versailles, and
other of the French palaces. You exactly, therefore, hit our tastes,
and answer our expectations, when you give us, in your peculiar
manner, sentiments on what we may call the _soul of things_, and such
characters as you draw with a pencil borrowed from the hand of nature,
intermingled with those fine lights and shades of reflections and
observations, that make your pictures glow, and instruct as well as
There, Pamela, is encouragement for you to proceed in obliging us. We
are all of one mind in this respect; and more than ever, since we have
seen your actions so well answered to your writings; and that theory
and practice, as to every excellence that can adorn a lady, is the
same thing with you.
We are pleased with your lawyers' characters. There are life and
nature in them; but never avoid giving all that occur to you, for that
seems to be one of your talents; and in the ugliest, there will be
matter of instruction; especially as you seem naturally to fall upon
such as are so general, that no one who converses, but must see in
them the picture of one or other he is acquainted with.
By this time, perhaps, Miss Darnford will be with you.--Our respects
to her, if so.--And you will have been at some of the theatrical
entertainments: so will not want subjects to oblige us.--'Twas a good
thought of your dear man's, to carry you to see the several houses,
and to make you a judge, by that means, of the disposition and fashion
of every thing in them.-Tell him, I love him better and better. I
am proud of my brother, and do nothing but talk of what a charming
husband he makes. But then, he gives an example to all who know him,
and his uncontrollable temper (which makes against many of us),
that it is possible for a good wife to make even a bad man a worthy
husband: and this affords an instruction, which may stand all our sex
in good stead.--But then they must have been cautious first, to choose
a man of natural good sense, and good manners, and not a brutal or
But hark-ye-me, my sweet girl, what have I done, that you won't write
yourself _sister_ to me? I could find in my heart to be angry with
you. Before my last visit, I was scrupulous to subscribe myself so
to _you_. But since I have seen myself so much surpassed in every
excellence, that I would take pleasure in the name, you assume a pride
in your turn, and may think it under-valuing yourself, to call _me_
so--Ay, that's the thing, I doubt--Although I have endeavoured by
several regulations since my return (and the countess, too, keeps
your example in distant view, as well as I), to be more worthy of the
appellation. If, therefore, you would avoid the reproaches of secret
pride, under the shadow of so remarkable an humility, for the future
never omit subscribing as I do, with great pleasure, _your truly
affectionate sister and friend_, B. DAVERS.
I always take it for granted, that my worthy brother sends his
respects to us; as you must, that Lord Davers, the Countess of C. and
Jackey (who, as well as his uncle, talks of nothing else but you),
send theirs; and so unnecessary compliments will be always excluded
_In answer to the preceding._
How you overwhelm me with your goodness, my dearest lady, in every
word of your last welcome letter, is beyond my power to express I How
nobly has your ladyship contrived, in your ever-valued present, to
encourage a doubting and apprehensive mind! And how does it contribute
to my joy and my glory, that I am deemed by the noble sister of
my best beloved, not wholly unworthy of being the humble means to
continue, and, perhaps, to perpetuate, a family so ancient and so
When I contemplate this, and look upon what I was--How shall I express
a sense of the honour done me!--And when, reading over the other
engaging particulars in your ladyship's letter, I come to the last
charming paragraph, I am doubly affected to see myself seemingly
upbraided, but so politely emboldened to assume an appellation, that
otherwise I hardly dared.
I--_humble_ I--who never had a sister before--to find one now in
Lady Davers! O Madam, you, and _only_ you, can teach me words fit to
express the joy and the gratitude that filled my delighted heart!--But
thus much I am taught, that there is some thing more than the low-born
can imagine in birth and education. This is so evident in your
ladyship's actions, words, and manner, that it strikes one with a
becoming reverence; and we look up with awe to a condition we emulate
in vain, when raised by partial favour, like what I have found; and
are confounded when we see grandeur of soul joined with grandeur
of birth and condition; and a noble lady acting thus nobly, as Lady
My best wishes, and a thousand blessings, attend your ladyship in all
you undertake! And I am persuaded the latter will, and a peace and
satisfaction of mind incomparably to be preferred to whatever else
this world can afford, in the new regulations, which you, and my dear
lady countess, have set on foot in your families: and when I can have
the happiness to know what they are, I shall, I am confident, greatly
improve my own methods by them.
Were we to live for ever in this life, we might be careless and
indifferent about these matters: but when such an uncertainty as to
the time, and such a certainty as to the event is before us, a prudent
mind will be always preparing, till prepared; and what can be a better
preparative, than charitable actions to our fellow-creatures in the
eye of that Majesty, which wants nothing of us himself, but to do just
the merciful things to one another.
Pardon me, my dearest lady, for this my free style. Methinks I am out
of myself! I know not how to descend all at once from the height to
which you have raised me: and you must forgive the reflections to
which you yourself and your own noble actions have given birth.
Here, having taken respite a little, I naturally sink into _body_
again.--And will not your ladyship confine your expectations from
me within narrower limits?--For, O, I cannot even with my wishes,
so swiftly follow your expectations, if such they are! But, however,
leaving futurity to HIM, who only governs futurity, and who conducts
us all, and our affairs, as shall best answer his own divine purposes,
I will proceed as well as I can, to obey you in those articles, which
are, at present, more within my own power.
My dear Miss Darnford, then, let me acquaint your ladyship, arrived on
Thursday last: she had given us notice, by a line, of the day she set
out; and Sir Simon and Lady Darnford saw her ten miles on the way
to the stage coach in Sir Simon's coach, Mr. Murray attending her on
horseback. They parted with her, as was easy to guess from her merit,
with great tenderness; and we are to look upon the visit (as we do) as
a high favour from her papa and mamma; who, however, charge her not to
exceed a month in and out, which I regret much. Mr. B. kindly proposed
to me, as she came in the stage coach, attended with one maid-servant,
to meet her part of the way in his coach and six, if, as he was
pleased to say, it would not be too fatiguing to me; and we would go
so early, as to dine at St. Alban's. I gladly consented, and we got
thither about one o'clock; and while dinner was preparing, he was
pleased to shew me the great church there, and the curious vault of
the good Duke of Gloucester, and also the monument of the great Lord
Chancellor Bacon in St. Michael's church; all which, no doubt, your
ladyship has seen.
There happened to be six passengers in the stage coach, including
Miss Darnford and her maid; she was exceeding glad to be relieved from
them, though the weather was cold enough, two of the passengers being
not very agreeable company, one a rough military man, and the other a
positive humoursome old gentlewoman: and the others two sisters--"who
jangled now and then," said she, "as much as _my_ sister, and my
Judge how joyful this meeting was to us both. Mr. B. was no less
delighted, and said, he was infinitely obliged to Sir Simon for this
"I come with double pleasure," said she, "to see the greatest
curiosity in England, a husband and wife, who have not, in so many
months as you have been married, if I may believe report, and your
letters, Mrs. B., once repented."
"You are severe, Miss Darnford," replied Mr. B., "upon people in the
married state: I hope there are many such instances."
"There might, if there were more such husbands as Mr. B. makes.--I
hated you once, and thought you very wicked; but I revere you now."
"If you will _revere_ any body, my dear Miss Darnford," said he,
"let it be this good girl; for it is all owing to her conduct and
direction, that I make a tolerable husband: were there more such
wives, I am persuaded, there would be more such husbands than there
"You see, my dear," said I, "what it is to be wedded to a generous
man. Mr. B., by his noble treatment of me, creates a merit in me, and
disclaims the natural effects of his own goodness."
"Well, you're a charming couple--person and mind. I know not any
equal either of you have.--But, Mr. B., I will not compliment you too
highly. I may make _you_ proud, for men are saucy creatures; but
I cannot make your _lady_ so: and in this doubt of the one, and
confidence in the other, I must join with you, that her merit is the
greatest.--Since, excuse me, Sir, her example has reformed her rake;
and you have only confirmed in her the virtues you found ready formed
to your hand."
"That distinction," said Mr. B., "is worthy of Miss Darnford's
"My dearest Miss Darnford--my dearest Mr. B.," said I, laying my hand
upon the hand of each, "how can you go on thus!--As I look upon every
kind thing, two such dear friends say of me, as incentives for me
to endeavour to deserve it, you must not ask me too high; for then,
instead of encouraging, you'll make me despair."
He led us into the coach; and in a free, easy, joyful manner, not in
the least tired or fatigued, did we reach the town and Mr. B.'s house;
with which and its furniture, and the apartments allotted for her, my
dear friend is highly pleased.
But the dear lady put me into some little confusion, when she saw me
first, taking notice of my _improvements_, as she called them, before
Mr. B. I looked at him and her with a downcast eye. He smiled, and
said, "Would you, my good Miss Darnford, look so silly, after such a
length of time, with a husband you need not be ashamed of?"
"No, indeed, Sir, not I, I'll assure you; nor will I forgive those
maiden airs in a wife so happy as you are."
I said nothing. But I wished myself, in mind and behaviour, to be just
what Miss Darnford is.
But, my dear lady, Miss Darnford has had those early advantages from
conversation, which I had not; and so must never expect to know how to
deport myself with that modest freedom and ease, which I know I want,
and shall always want, although some of my partial favourers think
I do not. For I am every day more and more sensible of the great
difference there is between being used to the politest conversation as
an inferior, and being born to bear a part in it: in the one, all is
set, stiff, awkward, and the person just such an ape of imitation as
poor I; in the other, all is natural ease and sweetness--like Miss
Knowing this, I don't indeed aim at what I am sensible I cannot
attain; and so, I hope, am less exposed to censure than I should be if
I did. For, I have heard Mr. B. observe with regard to gentlemen who
build fine houses, make fine gardens, and open fine prospects, that
art should never take place of, but be subservient to, nature; and a
gentleman, if confined to a situation, had better conform his designs
to that, than to do as at Chatsworth, level a mountain at a monstrous
expense; which, had it been suffered to remain, in so wild and
romantic a scene as Chatsworth affords, might have been made one of
the greatest beauties of the place.
So I think I had better endeavour to make the best of those natural
defects I cannot master, than, by assuming airs and dignities in
appearance, to which I was not born, act neither part tolerably. By
this means, instead of being thought neither gentlewoman nor rustic,
as Sir Jacob hinted (_linsey-wolsey_, I think was his term too), I may
be looked upon as an original in my way; and all originals pass well
enough, you know, Madam, even with judges.
Now I am upon this subject, I can form to myself, if your ladyship
will excuse me, two such polite gentlemen as my lawyers mentioned in
my former, who, with a true London magnanimity and penetration (for,
Madam, I fancy your London critics will be the severest upon the
country girl), will put on mighty significant looks, forgetting, it
may be, that they have any faults themselves, and apprehending that
they have nothing to do, but to sit in judgment upon others, one of
them expressing himself after this manner--"Why, truly, Jack, the girl
is well enough--_considering_--I can't say--" (then a pinch of snuff,
perhaps, adds importance to his air)--"but a man might love her for a
month or two." (These sparks talked thus of other ladies before me.)
"She behaves better than I expected from her--_considering_--" again
"So I think," cries the other, and tosses his tie behind him, with an
air partly of contempt, and partly of rakery.
"As you say. Jemmy, I expected to find an awkward country girl, but
she tops her part, I'll assure you!--Nay, for that matter, behaves
very tolerably for _what she was_--And is right, not to seem desirous
to drown the remembrance of her original in her elevation--And, I
can't but say" (for something like it he did say), "is mighty pretty,
and passably genteel." And thus with their poor praise of Mr. B.'s
girl, they think they have made a fine compliment to his judgment.
But for _his_ sake (for as to my own, I am not solicitous about such
gentlemen's good opinions), I owe them a spite; and believe, I shall
find an opportunity to come out of their debt. For I have the vanity
to think, now you have made me proud by your kind encouragements and
approbation, that the country girl will make 'em look about them, with
all their _genteel contempts_, which they miscall _praise_.
But how I run on! Your ladyship expects that I shall write as freely
to you as I used to do to my parents. I have the merit of obeying you,
that I have; but, I doubt, too much to the exercise of your patience.
This (like all mine) is a long letter; and I will only add to it
Miss Darnford's humble respects, and thanks for your ladyship's kind
mention of her, which she receives as no small honour.
And now. Madam, with a greater pleasure than I can express, will I
make use of the liberty you so kindly allow me to take, of subscribing
myself with that profound respect which becomes me, _your ladyship's
most obliged sister, and obedient servant,_ P.B.
Mr. Adams, Mr. Longman, and Mrs. Jervis, are just arrived; and our
household is now complete.
_From Lady Davers to Mrs. B._
MY DEAR PAMELA,
After I have thanked you for your last agreeable letter, which has
added the Earl and Lady Jenny to the number of your admirers (you know
Lady Betty, her sister, was so before), I shall tell you, that I now
write, at their requests, as well as at those of my Lord Davers, the
countess you so dearly love, and Lady Betty, for your decision of
an odd dispute, that, on reading your letter, and talking of your
domestic excellencies, happened among us.
Lady Betty says, that, notwithstanding any awkwardness you attribute
to yourself, she cannot but decide, by all she has seen of your
writings, and heard from us, that yours is the perfectest character
she ever found in the sex.
The countess said, that you wrong yourself in supposing you are not
every thing that is polite and genteel, as well in your behaviour, as
in your person; and that she knows not any lady in England who better
becomes her station than you do.
"Why, then," said Lady Jenny, "Mrs. B. must be quite perfect:
that's certain." So said the earl; so said they all. And Lord Davers
confirmed that you were.
Yet, as we are sure, there cannot be such a character in this life
as has not one fault, although we could not tell where to fix it, the
countess made a whimsical motion: "Lady Davers," said she, "pray do
you write to Mrs. B. and acquaint her with our subject; and as it
is impossible, for one who can act as she does, not to know herself
better than any body else can do, desire her to acquaint us with some
of those secret foibles, that leave room for her to be still more
"A good thought," said they all. And this is the present occasion of
my writing; and pray see that you accuse yourself, of no more than you
know yourself guilty: for over-modesty borders nearly on pride, and
too liberal self-accusations are generally but so many traps for
acquittal with applause: so that (whatever other ladies might) you
will not be forgiven, if you deal with us in a way so poorly artful;
let your faults, therefore, be such as you think we can subscribe to,
from what we have _seen_ of _you_ and what we have _read_ of _yours_;
and you must try to extenuate them too, as you give them, lest we
should think you above that nature, which, in the _best_ cases, is
your undoubted talent.
I congratulate you and Miss Damford on her arrival: she is a charming
young lady; but tell her, that we shall not allow her to take you at
your word, and to think that she excels you in any one thing: only,
indeed, we think you nicer in some points than you need be to, as to
your present agreeable circumstance. And yet, let me tell you, that
the easy, unaffected, conjugal purity, in word and behaviour, between
your good man and you, is worthy of imitation, and what the countess
and I have with pleasure contemplated since we left you, an hundred
times, and admire in you both: and it is good policy too, child,
as well as high decorum; for it is what will make you ever new and
respectful to one another.
But _you_ have the honour of it all, whose sweet, natural, and easy
modesty, in person, behaviour, and conversation, forbid indecency,
even in thought, much more in word, to approach you: insomuch that no
rakes can be rakes in your presence, and yet they hardly know to what
they owe their restraint.
However, as people who see you at this time, will take it for granted
that you and Mr. B. have been very intimate together, I should think
you need not be ashamed of your appearance, because, as he rightly
observes, you have no reason to be ashamed of your husband.
Excuse my pleasantry, my dear: and answer our demand upon you, as soon
as you can; which will oblige us all; particularly _your affectionate
MY DEAREST LADY,
What a task have you imposed upon me! And according to the terms you
annex to it, how shall I acquit myself of it, without incurring the
censure of affectation, if I freely accuse myself as I may deserve, or
of vanity, if I do not? Indeed, Madam, I have a great many failings:
and you don't know the pain it costs me to keep them under; not so
much for fear the world should see them, for I bless God, I can hope
they are not capital, as for fear they should become capital, if I
were to let them grow upon me.
And this, surely, I need not have told your ladyship, and the Countess
of C., who have read my papers, and seen my behaviour in the kind
visit you made to your dear brother, and had from _both_ but too much
reason to censure me, did not your generous and partial favour make
you overlook my greater failings, and pass under a kinder name many
of my lesser; for surely, my good ladies, you must both of you have
observed, in what you have read and seen, that I am naturally of a
saucy temper: and with all my appearance of meekness and humility, can
resent, and sting too, when I think myself provoked.
I have also discovered in myself, on many occasions (of some of which
I will by-and-by remind your ladyship), a malignancy of heart, that,
it is true, lasts but a little while--nor had it need--but for which I
have often called myself to account--to very little purpose hitherto.
And, indeed, Madam (now for a little extenuation, as you expect from
me), I have some difficulty, whether I ought to take such pains to
subdue myself in some instances, in the station to which I am raised,
that otherwise it would have become me to attempt to do: for it is
no easy task, for one in my circumstances, to distinguish between the
_ought_ and the _ought_ not; to be humble without meanness, and decent
without arrogance. And if all persons thought as justly as I flatter
myself I do, of the inconveniences, as well as conveniences, which
attend their being raised to a condition above them, they would
not imagine all the world was their own, when they came to be
distinguished as I have been: for, what with the contempts of superior
relations on one side, the envy of the world, and low reflections
arising from it, on the other, from which no one must hope to be
totally exempted, and the awkwardness, besides, with which they
support their elevated condition, if they have sense to judge of
their own imperfections; and if the gentleman be not such an one as
mine--(and where will such another be found?)--On all these accounts, I
say, they will be made sensible, that, whatever they might once think,
happiness and an high estate are two very different things.
But I shall be too grave, when your ladyship, and all my kind and
noble friends, expect, perhaps, I should give the uncommon subject a
pleasanter air: yet what must that mind be, that is not serious, when
obliged to recollect, and give account of its defects?
But I must not only accuse myself, it seems, I must give _proofs_,
such as your ladyship can subscribe to, of my imperfections. There is
so much _real kindness_ in this _seeming hardship_, that I will
obey you. Madam, and produce proofs in a moment, which cannot be
As to my _sauciness_, those papers will give an hundred instances
against me, as well to your dear brother, as to others. Indeed, to
extenuate, as you command me, as I go along, these were mostly when I
was apprehensive for my honour, they were.
And then, I have a little tincture of _jealousy_, which sometimes has
made me more uneasy than I ought to be, as the papers you have not
seen would have demonstrated, particularly in Miss Godfrey's case,
and in my conversation with your ladyships, in which I have frequently
betrayed my fears of what might happen when in London: yet, to
extenuate again, I have examined myself very strictly on this head;
and really think, that I can ascribe a great part of this jealousy to
laudable motives; no less than to my concern for your dear brother's
future happiness, in the hope, that I may be a humble means, through
Providence, to induce him to abhor those crimes of which young
gentlemen too often are guilty, and bring him over to the practice of
those virtues, in which he will ever have cause to rejoice.--Yet, my
lady, some other parts of the charge must stand against me; for as
I love his person, as well as his mind, I have pride in my jealousy,
that would not permit me, I verily think, to support myself as I
ought, under trial of a competition, in this very tender point.
And this obliges me to own, that I have a little spark--not a little
one, perhaps of _secret pride_ and _vanity_, that will arise, now and
then, on the honours done me; but which I keep under as much as I
can; and to this pride, let me tell your ladyship, I know no one
contributes, or can contribute, more largely than yourself.
So you see, my dear lady, what a naughty heart I have, and how far
I am from being a faultless creature--I hope I shall be better and
better, however, as I live longer, and have more grace, and more
wit: for here to recapitulate my faults, is in the first place,
_vindictiveness_, I will not call it downright revenge--And how much
room do all these leave for amendment, and greater perfection?
Had your ladyship, and the countess, favoured us longer in your kind
visit, I must have so improved, by your charming conversations, and
by that natural ease and dignity which accompany everything your
ladyships do and say, as to have got over such of these foibles as
are not rooted in nature: till in time I had been able to do more than
emulate those perfections, which at present, I can only at an awful
distance revere; as becomes, _my dear ladies, your most humble
admirer, and obliged servant_,
* * * * *
_From Miss Darnford to her Father and Mother_.
MY EVER-HONOURED PAPA AND MAMMA,
I arrived safely in London on Thursday, after a tolerable journey,
considering Deb and I made six in the coach (two having been taken up
on the way, after you left me), and none of the six highly agreeable.
Mr. B. and his lady, who looks very stately upon us (from the
circumstance of _person_, rather than of _mind_, however), were so
good as to meet me at St. Alban's, in their coach and six. They have a
fine house here, richly furnished in every part, and have allotted me
the best apartment in it.
We are happy beyond expression. Mr. B. is a charming husband; so easy,
so pleased with, and so tender of his lady: and she so much all that
we saw her in the country, as to humility and affability, and improved
in every thing else which we hardly thought possible she could
be--that I never knew so happy a matrimony.--All that _prerogative
sauciness_, which we apprehended would so eminently display itself in
his behaviour to his wife, had she been ever so distinguished by birth
and fortune, is vanished. I did not think it was in the power of an
angel, if our sex could have produced one, to have made so tender and
so fond a husband of Mr. B. as he makes. And should I have the sense
to follow Mrs. B.'s example, if ever I marry, I should not despair of
making myself happy, let it be to whom it would, provided he was not a
brute, nor sordid in his temper; which two characters are too obvious
to be concealed, if persons take due care, and make proper inquiries,
and if they are not led by blind passion. May Mr. Murray and Miss
Nancy make just such a happy pair!
You commanded me, my honoured mamma, to write to you an account of
every thing that pleased me--I said I would: but what a task should
I then have!--I did not think I had undertaken to write volumes.--You
must therefore allow me to be more brief than I had intended.
In the first place, it would take up five or six long letters to do
justice to the economy observed in this happy family. You know that
Mrs. B. has not changed one of her servants, and only added her Polly
to them. This is an unexampled thing, especially as they were her
_fellow-servants_ as we may say: but since they have the sense to
admire so good an example, and are proud to follow it, each to his and
her power, I think it one of her peculiar facilities to have continued
them, and to choose to reform such as were exceptionable rather than
Their mouths, Deb tells me, are continually full of their lady's
praises, and prayers, and blessings, uttered with such delight and
fervour for the happy pair, that it makes her eyes, she says, ready to
run over to hear them.
Moreover, I think it an extraordinary degree of policy (whether
designed or not) to keep them, as they were all worthy folks; for had
she turned them off, what had she done but made as many enemies as
she had discarded servants; and as many more as those had friends and
acquaintance? And we all know, how much the reputation of families
lies at the mercy of servants; and it is easy to guess to what cause
each would have imputed his or her dismission. And so she has escaped,
as she ought, the censure of pride; and made every one, instead of
reproaching her with her descent, find those graces in her, which turn
that very disadvantage to her glory.
She is exceedingly affable; always speaks to them with a smile;
but yet has such a dignity in her manner, that it secures her their
respect and reverence; and they are ready to fly at a look, and seem
proud to have her commands to execute; insomuch, that the words--"_My
lady commands so, or so,_" from one servant to another, are sure to
meet with an indisputable obedience, be the duty required what it
If any of them are the least indisposed, her care and tenderness for
them engage the veneration and gratitude of all the rest, who see how
kindly they will be treated, should they ail any thing themselves.
And in all this she is very happy in Mrs. Jervis, who is an excellent
second to her admirable lady; and is treated by her with as much
respect and affection, as if she was her mother.
You may remember, Madam, that in the account she gave us of her
_benevolent round_, as Lady Davers calls it, she says, that as she
was going to London, she should instruct Mrs. Jervis about some of
her _clients_, as I find she calls her poor, to avoid a word which
her delicacy accounts harsh with regard to them, and ostentatious
with respect to herself. I asked her, how (since, contrary to her then
expectation, Mrs. Jervis was permitted to be in town with her) she had
provided to answer her intention as to those her clients, whom she had
referred to the care of that good woman?
She said, that Mr. Barlow, her apothecary, was a very worthy man, and
she had given him a plenary power in that particular, and likewise
desired him to recommend any new and worthy case to her that no
deserving person among the destitute sick poor, might be unrelieved by
reason of her absence.
And here in London she has applied herself to Dr.----(her parish
minister, a fine preacher, and sound divine, who promises on all
opportunities to pay his respects to Mr. B.) to recommend to her
any poor housekeepers, who would be glad to accept of some private
benefactions, and yet, having lived creditably, till reduced by
misfortunes, are ashamed to apply for public relief: and she has
several of these already on her _benevolent list_, to some of whom she
sends coals now at the entrance on the wintry season, to some a piece
of Irish or Scottish linen, or so many yards of Norwich stuff, for
gowns and coats for the girls, or Yorkshire cloth for the boys; and
money to some, who she is most assured will lay it out with care. And
she has moreover _mortified_, as the Scots call it, one hundred and
fifty pounds as a fund for loans, without interest, of five, ten,
or fifteen, but not exceeding twenty pounds, to answer some present
exigence in some honest families, who find the best security they can,
to repay it in a given time; and this fund, she purposes, as she grows
richer, she says, to increase; and estimates pleasantly her worth by
this sum, saying sometimes, "Who would ever have thought I should have
been worth one hundred and fifty pounds so soon? I shall be a rich
body in time." But in all these things, she enjoins secresy, which the
doctor has promised.
She told the doctor what Mr. Adams's office is in her family; and
hoped, she said, he would give her his sanction to it; assuring him,
that she thought it her duty to ask it, as she was one of his
flock, and he, on that account, her principal shepherd, which made a
spiritual relation between them, the requisites of which, on her part,
were not to be dispensed with. The good gentleman very cheerfully
and applaudingly gave his consent; and when she told him how well Mr.
Adams was provided for, and that she would apply to him to supply her
with a town chaplain, when she was deprived of him, he wished that the
other duties of his function (for he has a large parish) would permit
him to be the happy person himself, saying, that till she was supplied
to her mind, either he or his curate would take care that so laudable
a method should be kept up.
You will do me the justice, Madam, to believe, that I very cheerfully
join in my dear friend's Sunday duties; and I am not a little edified,
with the good example, and the harmony and good-will that this
excellent method preserves in the family.
I must own I never saw such a family of love in my life: for here,
under the eye of the best of mistresses, they twice every Sunday see
one another all together (as they used to do in the country), superior
as well as inferior servants; and Deb tells me, after Mrs. B. and I
are withdrawn, there are such friendly salutations among them, that
she never heard the like--"Your servant, good Master Longman:"--"Your
servant, Master Colbrand," cries one and another:--"How do you,
John?"--"I'm glad to see you, Abraham!"--"All blessedly met once
more!" cries Jonathan, the venerable butler, with his silver hairs, as
Mrs. B. always distinguishes him:--"Good Madam Jervis," cries another,
"you look purely this blessed day, thank God!" And they return
to their several vocations, so light, so easy, so pleased, so
even-tempered in their minds, as their cheerful countenances, as well
as expressions, testify, that it is a heaven of a house: and being
wound up thus constantly once a week, at least, like a good eight-day
clock, no piece of machinery that ever was made is so regular and
uniform as this family is.
What an example does this dear lady set to all who see her, know her,
and who hear of her; how happy they who have the grace to follow
it! What a public blessing would such a mind as hers be, could it be
vested with the robes of royalty, and adorn the sovereign dignity! But
what are the princes of the earth, look at them in every nation, and
what they have been for ages past, compared to this lady? who acts
from the impulses of her own heart, unaided in most cases, by
any human example. In short, when I contemplate her innumerable
excellencies, and that sweetness of temper, and universal benevolence,
which shine in every thing she says and does, I cannot sometimes help
looking upon her in the light of an angel, dropped down from heaven,
and received into bodily organs, to live among men and women, in order
to shew what the first of the species was designed to be.
And, here, is the admiration, that one sees all these duties performed
in such an easy and pleasant manner, as any body may perform them; for
they interfere not with any parts of the family management; but rather
aid and inspirit every one in the discharge of all their domestic
services; and, moreover, keep their minds in a state of preparation
for the more solemn duties of the day; and all without the least
intermixture of affectation, enthusiasm, or ostentation. O my dear
papa and mamma, permit me but to tarry here till I am perfect in all
these good lessons, and how happy shall I be!
As to the town, and the diversions of it, I shall not trouble you with
any accounts, as, from your former thorough knowledge of both, you
will want no information about them; for, generally speaking, all
who reside constantly in London, allow, that there is little other
difference in the diversions of one winter and another, than such
as are in clothes; a few variations of the fashions only, which are
mostly owing to the ingenious contrivances of persons who are to get
their bread by diversifying them.
Mrs. B. has undertaken to give Lady Davers an account of the matters
as they pass, and her sentiments on what she sees. There must be
something new in her observations, because she is a stranger to these
diversions, and unbiassed entirely by favour or prejudice; and so will
not play the partial critic, but give to a beauty its due praise, and
to a fault its due censure, according to that truth and nature which
are the unerring guides of her actions as well as sentiments. These I
will transcribe for you; and you'll be so good as to return them when
perused, because I will lend them, as I used to do her letters, to her
good parents; and so I shall give her a pleasure at the same time in
the accommodating them with the knowledge of all that passes, which
she makes it a point of duty to do, because they take delight in her
My papa's observation, that a woman never takes a journey but she
forgets something, is justified by me; for, with all my care, I have
left my diamond buckle, which Miss Nancy will find in the inner till
of my bureau, wrapt up in cotton; and I beg it may be sent me by the
first opportunity. With my humble duty to you both, my dear
indulgent papa and mamma, thanks for the favour I now rejoice in, and
affectionate respects to Miss Nancy (I wish she would love me as
well as I love her), and service to Mr. Murray, and all our good
neighbours, conclude _me your dutiful, and highly-favoured daughter_,
Mr. B. and Mrs. B, desire their compliments of congratulation to Mr.
and Mrs. Peters, on the marriage of their worthy niece; also to your
honoured selves they desire their kind respects and thanks for the
loan of your worthless daughter. I experience every hour some new
token of their politeness and affection; and I make no scruple
to think I am with such a brother, and such a sister as any happy
creature may rejoice in, and be proud of. Mr. B. I cannot but repeat,
is a charming husband, and a most polite gentleman. His lady is always
accusing herself to me of awkwardness and insufficiency; but not a
soul who sees her can find it out; she is all genteel ease; and the
admiration of every one who beholds her. Only I tell her, with such
happiness in possession, she is a little of the gravest sometimes.
_From Mrs. B. to Lady Davers._
MY GOOD LADY,
You command me to acquaint you with the proceedings between Mr. Murray
and Miss Nanny Darnford: and Miss Polly makes it easy for me to obey
you in this particular, and in very few words; for she says, every
thing was adjusted before she came away, and the ceremony, she
believes, may be performed by this time. She rejoices that she was
out of the way of it: for, she says, love is so awkward a thing to
Mr. Murray, and good-humour so uncommon an one to Miss Nancy, that she
hopes she shall never see such another courtship.
We have been at the play-house several time; and, give me leave to
say, Madam, (for I have now read as well as seen several), that I
think the stage, by proper regulations, might be made a profitable
amusement.--But nothing more convinces one of the truth of the common
observation, that the best things, corrupted, prove the worst, than
these representations. The terror and compunction for evil deeds,
the compassion for a just distress, and the general beneficence which
those lively exhibitions are so capable of raising in the human mind,
might be of great service, when directed to right ends, and induced by
proper motives: particularly where the actions which the catastrophe
is designed to punish, are not set in such advantageous lights, as
shall destroy the end of the moral, and make the vice that ought to be
censured, imitable; where instruction is kept in view all the way, and
where vice is punished, and virtue rewarded.
But give me leave to say, that I think there is hardly one play I
have seen, or read hitherto, but has too much of love in it, as that
passion is generally treated. How unnatural in some, how inflaming in
others, are the descriptions of it!--In most, rather rant and fury,
like the loves of the fiercer brute animals, as Virgil, translated
by Dryden, describes them, than the soft, sighing, fearfully hopeful
murmurs, that swell the bosoms of our gentler sex: and the respectful,
timorous, submissive complainings of the other, when the truth of the
passion humanizes, as one may say, their more rugged hearts.
In particular, what strange indelicates do these writers of tragedy
often make of our sex! They don't enter into the passion at all, if I
have any notion of it; but when the authors want to paint it strongly
(at least in those plays I have seen and read) their aim seems to
raise a whirlwind, as I may say, which sweeps down reason, religion,
and decency; and carries every laudable duty away before it; so that
all the examples can serve to shew is, how a disappointed lover may
rage and storm, resent and revenge.
The play I first saw was the tragedy of _The Distressed Mother;_ and a
great many beautiful things I think there are in it: but half of it is
a tempestuous, cruel, ungoverned rant of passion, and ends in
cruelty, bloodshed, and desolation, which the truth of the story
not warranting, as Mr. B. tells me, makes it the more pity, that
the original author (for it is a French play, translated, you know,
Madam), had not conducted it, since it was his choice, with less
terror, and with greater propriety, to the passions intended to be
raised, and actually raised in many places.
But the epilogue spoken after the play, by Mrs. Oldfield, in the
character of Andromache, was more shocking to me, than the most
terrible parts of the play; as by lewd and even senseless _double
entendre_, it could be calculated only to efface all the tender, all
the virtuous sentiments, which the tragedy was designed to raise.
The pleasure this gave the men was equally barbarous and insulting;
all turning to the boxes, pit, and galleries, where ladies were, to
see how they looked, and stood an emphatical and too-well pronounced
ridicule, not only upon the play in general, but upon the part of
Andromache in particular, which had been so well sustained by an
excellent actress; and I was extremely mortified to see my favourite
(and the only perfect) character debased and despoiled, and the widow
of Hector, prince of Troy, talking nastiness to an audience, and
setting it out with all the wicked graces of action, and affected
archness of look, attitude, and emphasis.
I stood up--"Dear Sir!--Dear Miss!" said I.
"What's the matter, my love?" said Mr. B. smiling.
"Why have I wept the distresses of the injured Hermione?" whispered I:
"why have I been moved by the murder of the brave Pyrrhus, and shocked
by the madness of Orestes! Is it for this? See you not Hector's
widow, the noble Andromache, inverting the design of the whole play,
satirizing her own sex, but indeed most of all ridiculing and shaming,
in _my_ mind, that part of the audience, who can be delighted with
this vile epilogue, after such scenes of horror and distress?"
He was pleased to say, smiling, "I expected, my dear, that your
delicacy, and Miss Darnford's too, would be shocked on this
preposterous occasion. I never saw this play, rake as I was, but the
impropriety of the epilogue sent me away dissatisfied with it, and
with human nature too: and you only see, by this one instance, what a
character that of an actor or actress is, and how capable they are to
personate any thing for a sorry subsistence."
"Well, but, Sir," said I, "are there not, think you, extravagant
scenes and characters enough in most plays to justify the censures
of the virtuous upon them, that the wicked friend of the author must
crown the work in an epilogue, for fear the audience should go away
improved by the representation? It is not, I see, always narrowness of
spirit, as I have heard some say, that opens the mouths of good people
against these diversions."
In this wild way talked I; for I was quite out of patience at this
unnatural and unexpected piece of ridicule, tacked to so serious a
play, and coming after such a moral.
Here is a specimen, my dear lady, of my observations on the first
play I saw. How just or how impertinent, I must leave to your better
judgment. I very probably expose my ignorance and folly in them, but I
will not say presumption, because you have put me upon the task, which
otherwise I should hardly have attempted. I have very little reason
therefore to blame myself on this score; but, on the contrary, if I
can escape your ladyship's censure, have cause to pride myself in the
opportunity you have thereby given me to shew my readiness to obey
you; and the rather, since I am sure of your kindest indulgence,
now you have given me leave to style myself _your ladyship's obliged
sister, and humble servant,_
MY DEAR LADY,
I gave you in my last my bold remarks upon a TRAGEDY-_The Distressed
Mother_. I will now give you my shallow notions of a COMEDY--_The
I liked this part of the title; though I was not pleased with the
other, explanatory of it; _Or--The Accomplished Fools_. But when I
heard it was written by Sir Richard Steele, and that Mr. Addison had
given some hints towards it, if not some characters--"O, dear Sir,"
said I, "give us your company to this play; for the authors of the
Spectator cannot possibly produce a faulty scene."
Mr. B. indeed smiled; for I had not then read the play: and the Earl
of F., his countess, Miss Darnford, Mr. B. and myself, agreed to
meet with a niece of my lord's in the stage-box, which was taken on
There seemed to me to be much wit and satire in the play: but, upon my
word, I was grievously disappointed as to the morality of it; nor,
in some places, is--_probability_ preserved; and there are divers
speeches so very free, that I could not have expected to meet with
such, from the names I mentioned.
In short the author seems to have forgotten the moral all the way; and
being put in mind of it by some kind friend (Mr. Addison, perhaps),
was at a loss to draw one from such characters and plots as he had
produced; and so put down what came uppermost, for the sake of custom,
without much regard to propriety. And truly, I should think, that
the play was begun with a design to draw more amiable characters,
answerable to the title of _The Tender Husband_; but that the author,
being carried away by the luxuriancy of a genius, which he had not
the heart to prune, on a general survey of the whole, distrusting
the propriety of that title, added the under one: with an OR, _The
Accomplished Fools_, in justice to his piece, and compliment to his
audience. Had he called it _The Accomplished Knaves_, I would not have
been angry at him, because there would have been more propriety in the
I wish I could, for the sake of the authors, have praised every scene
of this play: I hoped to have reason for it. Judge then, my dear
lady, my mortification, not to be able to say I liked above one,
the _Painter's scene_, which too was out of time, being on the
wedding-day; and am forced to disapprove of every character in it, and
the views of every one. I am, dear Madam, _your most obliged sister
My Dear Lady,
Although I cannot tell how you received my observations on the tragedy
of _The Distressed Mother_, and the comedy of _The Tender Husband_,
yet will I proceed to give your ladyship my opinion of the opera I was
at last night.
But what can I say, after mentioning what you so well know, the fine
scenes, the genteel and splendid company, the charming voices, and
If, Madam, one were all ear, and lost to every sense but that of
harmony, surely the Italian opera would be a transporting thing!--But
when one finds good sense, and instruction, and propriety, sacrificed
to the charms of sound, what an unedifying, what a mere temporary
delight does it afford! For what does one carry home, but the
remembrance of having been pleased so many hours by the mere vibration
of air, which, being but sound, you cannot bring away with you; and
must therefore enter the time passed in such a diversion, into the
account of those blank hours, from which one has not reaped so much as
one improving lesson?
Mr. B. observes, that when once sound is preferred to sense, we shall
depart from all our own worthiness, and, at best, be but the apes,
yea, the dupes, of those whom we may strive to imitate, but never can
reach, much less excel.
Mr. B. says, sometimes, that this taste is almost the only good fruit
our young nobility gather, and bring home from their foreign tours;
and that he found the English nation much ridiculed on this score, by
those very people who are benefited by their depravity. And if this
be the best, what must the other qualifications be, which they bring
home?--Yet every one does not return with so little improvement, it is
to be hoped.
But what can I say of an Italian opera?--For who can describe sound!
Or what words shall be found to embody air? And when we return, and
are asked our opinion of what we have seen or heard, we are only able
to answer, as I hinted above the scenery is fine, the company
splendid and genteel, the music charming for the time, the action
not extraordinary, the language unintelligible, and, for all these
reasons--the instruction none at all.
This is all the thing itself gives me room to say of the Italian
opera; very probably, for want of a polite taste, and a knowledge of
In my next, I believe, I shall give you, Madam, my opinion of a
diversion, which, I doubt, I shall like still less, and that is a
masquerade; for I fear I shall not be excused going to one, although
I have no manner of liking to it, especially in my present way. I am.
Madam, _your ladyship's most obliged and faithful_ P.B.
I must add another half sheet to this letter on the subject matter
of it, the opera; and am sure you will not be displeased with the
Mr. B. coming up just as I had concluded my letter, asked me what was
my subject? I told him I was giving your ladyship my notions of the
Italian opera. "Let me see what they are, my dear; for this is a
subject that very few of those who admire these performances, and
fewer still of those who decry them, know any thing of."
He read the above, and was pleased to commend it. "Operas," said he,
"are very sad things in England, to what they are in Italy; and the
translations given of them abominable: and indeed, our language will
not do them justice.
"Every nation, as you say, has its excellencies; and ours should not
quit the manly nervous sense, which is the distinction of the English
drama. One play of our celebrated Shakespeare will give infinitely
more pleasure to a sensible mind than a dozen English-Italian operas.
But, my dear, in Italy, they are quite another thing: and the sense is
not, as here, sacrificed so much to the sound, but that they are both
"Be pleased, Sir, to give me your observations on this head in
writing, and then I shall have something to send worthy of Lady
"I will, my dear;" and he took a pen, and wrote the inclosed; which
I beg your ladyship to return me; because I will keep it for my
instruction, if I should be led to talk of this subject in company.
"Let my sister know," said he, "that I have given myself no time to
re-peruse what I have written. She will do well, therefore, to correct
it, and return it to you."
"In Italy, judges of operas are so far from thinking the drama or
poetical part of their operas nonsense, as the unskilled in Italian
rashly conclude in England, that if the Libretto, as they call it, is
not approved, the opera, notwithstanding the excellence of the music,
will be condemned. For the Italians justly determine, that the very
music of an opera cannot be complete and pleasing, if the drama be
incongruous, as I may call it, in its composition, because, in order
to please, it must have the necessary contrast of the grave and the
light, that is, the diverting equally blended through the whole. If
there be too much of the first, let the music be composed ever so
masterly in that style, it will become heavy and tiresome; if the
latter prevail, it will surfeit with its levity: wherefore it is the
poet's business to adapt the words for this agreeable mixture: for the
music is but secondary, and subservient to the words; and if there be
an artful contrast in the drama, there will be the same in the music,
supposing the composer to be a skilful master.
"Now, since in England, the practice has been to mutilate, curtail,
and patch up a drama in Italian, in order to introduce favourite airs,
selected from different authors, the contrast has always been broken
thereby, without every one's knowing the reason: and since ignorant
mercenary prompters, though Italians, have been employed in
hotch-potch, and in translating our dramas from Italian into English,
how could such operas appear any other than incongruous nonsense?"
Permit me, dear Madam, to repeat my assurances, that I am, and must
ever be, _your obliged sister and servant_,
Well, now, my dear lady, I will give you my poor opinion of a
masquerade, to which Mr. B. persuaded me to accompany Miss Darnford;
for, as I hinted in my former, I had a great indifference, or rather
dislike, to go, and Miss therefore wanted so powerful a second, to get
me with her; because I was afraid the freedoms which I had heard were
used there, would not be very agreeable to my apprehensive temper, at
_this_ time especially.
But finding Mr. B. chose to have me go, if, as he was pleased to say,
I had no objection, "I said, I _will_ have none, I _can_ have none,
when you tell me it is your choice; and so send for the habits you
like, and that you would have me appear in, and I will cheerfully
The habit Mr. B. pitched upon was that of a Spanish Don, and it well
befitted the majesty of his person and air; and Miss Darnford chose
that of a young Widow; and Mr. B. recommended that of a Quaker for
me. We all admired one another in our dresses; and Mr. B. promising to
have me always in his eye, we went thither.
But I never desire to be present at another. Mr. B. was singled out by
a bold Nun, who talked Italian to him with such free airs, that I did
not much like it, though I knew not what she said; for I thought the
dear gentleman no more kept to his Spanish gravity, than she to the
requisites of the habit she wore: when I had imagined that all that
was tolerable in a masquerade, was the acting up to the character each
person assumed: and this gave me no objection to the Quaker's dress;
for I thought I was prim enough for that naturally.
I said softly, "Dear Miss Darnford" (for Mr. B. and the Nun were
out of sight in a moment), "what is become of that Nun?"--"Rather,"
whispered she, "what is become of the Spaniard?"
A Cardinal attacked me instantly in French; but I answered in English,
not knowing what he said, "Quakers are not fit company for Red-hats."
"They are," said he, in the same language; "for a Quaker and a Jesuit
is the same thing."
Miss Darnford was addressed by the name of the Sprightly Widow:
another asked, how long she intended to wear those weeds? And a
footman, in a rich livery, answered for her eyes, through her mask,
that it would not be a month.
But I was startled when a Presbyterian Parson came up, and bid me look
after my Musidorus--So that I doubted not by this, it must be one who
knew my name to be Pamela; and I soon thought of one of my lawyers,
whose characters I gave before.