Part 9 out of 11
MY DEAR MISS DARNFORD,
I hope you are happy and well. You kindly say you can't be so, till
you hear of my perfect recovery. And this, blessed be God! you have
heard already from Mr. B.
As to your intimation of the fair Nun, 'tis all happily over. Blessed
be God for that too! And I have a better and more endearing husband
than ever. Did you think that could be?
My Billy too improves daily, and my dear parents seem to have their
youth renewed like the eagle's. How many blessings have I to be
We are about to turn travellers, to the northern counties. I think
quite to the borders: and afterwards to the western, to Bath, Bristol,
and I know not whither myself: but among the rest, to Lincolnshire,
that you may be sure of. Then how happy shall I be in my dear Miss
I long to hear whether poor Mrs. Jewkes is better or worse for the
advice of the doctor, whom I ordered to attend her from Stamford, and
in what frame her mind is. Do vouchsafe her a visit in my name; tell
her, if she be low spirited, what God hath done for me, as to _my_
recovery, and comfort her all you can; and bid her spare neither
expence nor attendance, nor any thing her heart can wish for; nor the
company of any relations or friends she may desire to be with her.
If she is in her _last stage_, poor soul! how noble will it be in you
to give her comfort and consolation in her dying hours! Although we
can merit nothing at the hand of God, yet I have a notion, that
we cannot deserve more of one another, and in some sense, for that
reason, of him, than in our charities on so trying an exigence! When
the poor soul stands shivering, as it were, on the verge of death,
and has nothing strong, but its fears and doubts; then a little balm
poured into the wounds of the mind, a little comforting advice to rely
on God's mercies, from a good person, how consolatory must it be!
And how, like morning mists before the sun, must all diffidences and
gloomy doubts, be chased away by it!
But, my dear, the great occasion of my writing to you just now, is by
Lady Davers's desire, on a quite different subject. She knows how
we love one another. And she has sent me the following lines by her
kinsman, who came to Kent, purposely to enquire how my face fared in
the small-pox; and accompanied us hither, [_i.e._ to Bedfordshire,]
and sets out to-morrow for Lord Davers's.
"MY DEAR PAMELA,
"Jackey will tell you the reason of his journey, my curiosity on
your own account; and I send this letter by him, but he knows not the
contents. My good Lord Davers wants to have his nephew married, and
settled in the world: and his noble father leaves the whole matter
to my lord, as to the person, settlements, &c. Now I, as well as he,
think so highly of the prudence, the person, and family of your Miss
Darnford, that we shall be obliged to you, to sound the young lady on
"I know Mr. H. would wish for no greater happiness. But if she is
engaged, or cannot love my nephew, I don't care, nor would my lord,
that such a proposal should be received with undue slight. His birth,
and the title and estate he is heir to, are advantages that require a
lady's consideration. He has not so much wit as Miss, but enough for
a lord, whose friends are born before him, as the phrase is; is very
good-humoured, no tool, no sot, no debauchee: and, let me tell you,
this is not to be met with every day in a young man of quality.
"As to settlements, fortunes, &c. I fancy there would be no great
difficulties. The business is, if Miss Darnford could love him well
enough for a husband? _That_ we leave you to sound the young lady; and
if she thinks she can, we will directly begin a treaty with Sir Simon.
I am, my dearest Pamela, _your ever affectionate sister_, B. Davers."
Now, my dear friend, as my lady has so well stated the case, I beg
you to enable me to return an answer. I will not say one word _pro_ or
_con_. till I know your mind--Only, that I think he is good-humoured
and might be easily persuaded to any thing a lady should think
I must tell you another piece of news in the matrimonial way. Mr.
Williams has been here to congratulate us on our multiplied blessings;
and he acquainted Mr. B. that an overture has been made him by his
new patron, of a kinswoman of his lordship's, a person of virtue and
merit, and a fortune of three thousand pounds, to make him amends,
as the earl tell him, for quitting a better living to oblige him; and
that he is in great hope of obtaining the lady's consent, which is all
that is wanting. Mr. B. is much pleased with so good a prospect in Mr.
Williams's favour, and was in the lady's company formerly at a ball,
at Gloucester; he says, she is prudent and deserving; and offers to
make a journey on purpose to forward it, if he can be of service to
I suppose you know that all is adjusted, according to the scheme I
formerly acquainted you with, between Mr. Adams and that gentleman;
and both are settled in their respective livings. But I ought to have
told you, that Mr. Williams, upon mature deliberation, declined the
stipulated eighty pounds _per annum_ from Mr. Adams, as he thought it
would have a simoniacal appearance.
But now my hand's in, let me tell you of a third matrimonial
proposition, which gives me more puzzle and dislike a great deal. And
that is, Mr. Adams has, with great reluctance, and after abundance of
bashful apologies, asked me, if I have any objection to his making
his addresses to Polly Barlow? which, however, he told me, he had not
mentioned to her, nor to any body living, because he would first know
whether I should take it amiss, as her service was so immediately
about my person.
This unexpected motion much perplexed me. Mr. Adams is a worthy man.
He has now a very good living; yet just entered upon it; and, I think,
according to his accustomed prudence in other respects, had better
have turned himself about first.
But that is not the point with me neither. I have a great regard to
the function. I think it is as necessary, in order to preserve the
respect due to the clergy, that their wives should be nearly, if not
quite as unblemished, and as circumspect, as themselves; and this for
the gentleman's own sake, as well as in the eye of the world: for how
shall he pursue his studies with comfort to himself, if made uneasy at
home! or how shall he expect his female parishioners will regard
his _public_ preaching, if he cannot have a due influence over the
_private_ conduct of his wife?
I can't say, excepting in the instance of Mr. H. but Polly is a good
sort of body enough so far as I know; but that is such a blot in the
poor girl's escutcheon, a thing not _accidental_, nor _surprised_
into, not owing to _inattention_, but to cool _premeditation_, that, I
think, I could wish Mr. Adams a wife more unexceptionable.
'Tis true, Mr. Adams knows not this, but _that_ is one of my
difficulties. If I acquaint him with it, I shall hurt the poor girl
irreparably, and deprive her of a husband, to whom she may possibly
make a good wife--For she is not very meanly descended--much better
than myself, as the world would say were a judgment to be made from
my father's low estate, when I was exalted--I never, my dear, shall be
ashamed of these retrospections! She is genteel, has a very innocent
look, a good face, is neat in her person, and not addicted to any
excess that I know of. But _still_, that one _premeditated_ fault, is
so sad a one, though she might make a good wife for any middling man
of business, yet she wants, methinks, that discretion, that purity,
which I would always have in the wife of a good clergyman.
Then, she has not applied her thoughts to that sort of economy, which
the wife of a country clergyman ought to know something of; and has
such a turn to dress and appearance, that I can see, if indulged,
she would not be one that would help to remove the scandal which some
severe remarkers are apt to throw upon the wives of _parsons_, as they
The maiden, I believe, likes Mr. Adams not a little. She is very
courteous to every body, but most to him of any body, and never has
missed being present at our Sunday's duties; and five or six times,
Mrs. Jervis tells me, she has found her desirous to have Mr. Adams
expound this text, and that difficulty; and the good man is taken with
her piety, which, and her reformation, I hope, is sincere; but she
is very sly, very subtle, as I have found in several instances, as
foolish as she was in the affair I hint at.
"So," sometimes I say to myself, "the girl may love Mr. Adams."--"Ay,"
but then I answer, "so she did Mr. H. and on his own very bad terms
too."--In short--but I won't be too censorious neither.
So I'll say no more, than that I was perplexed; and yet should be very
glad to have Polly well married; for, since _that_ time, I have always
had some diffidences about her--Because, you know, Miss--her fault
was so enormous, and, as I have said, so premeditated. I wanted you to
advise with.--But this was the method I took.--I appointed Mr. Adams
to drink a dish of tea with me. Polly attended, as usual; for I can't
say I love men attendants in these womanly offices. A tea-kettle in a
man's hand, that would, if there was no better employment for him, be
fitter to hold a plough, or handle a flail, or a scythe, has such
a look with it!--This is like my low breeding, some would say,
perhaps,--but I cannot call things polite, that I think unseemly; and,
moreover. Lady Davers keeps me in countenance in this my notion; and
who doubts her politeness?
Well, but Polly attended, as I said; and there were strange
simperings, and bowing, and curt'sying, between them; the honest
gentleman seeming not to know how to let his mistress wait upon him;
while she behaved with as much respect and officiousness, as if she
could not do too much for him.
"Very well," thought I, "I have such an opinion of your veracity, Mr.
Adams, that I dare say you have not mentioned the matter to Polly;
but between her officiousness, and your mutual simperings and
complaisance, I see you have found a language between you, that is
full as significant as plain English words. Polly," thought I, "sees
no difficulty in _this_ text; nor need you, Mr. Adams, have much
trouble to make her understand you, when you come to expound upon
I was forced, in short, to put on a statelier and more reserved
appearance than usual, to make them avoid acts of complaisance for one
another, that might not be proper to be shewn before me, for one who
sat as my companion, to my servant.
When she withdrew, the modest gentleman hemmed, and looked on one
side, and turned to the right and left, as if his seat was uneasy to
him, and, I saw, knew not how to speak; so I began in mere compassion
to him, and said--"Mr. Adams, I have been thinking of what you
mentioned to me, as to Polly Barlow."
"Hem! hem!" said he; and pulled out his handkerchief, and wiped his
mouth--"Very well. Madam; I hope no offence, Madam!"
"No, Sir, none at all. But I am at a loss how to distinguish in this
case; whether it may not be from a motive of too humble gratitude,
that you don't think yourself above matching with Polly, as you may
suppose her a favourite of mine; or whether it be your value for her
person and qualities, that makes her more agreeable in your eyes, than
any other person would be."
"Madam--Madam," said the bashful gentleman, hesitatingly--"I do--I
must needs say--I can't but own--that--Mrs. Mary--is a person-whom I
think very agreeable; and no less modest and virtuous."
"You know, Sir, your own circumstances. To be sure you have a very
pretty house, and a good living, to carry a wife to. And a gentleman
of your prudence and discretion wants not any advice; but you have
reaped no benefits by your living. It has been an expence to you
rather, which you will not presently get up: do you propose an early
marriage, Sir? Or were it not better to suspend your intentions of
that sort for a year or two more?"--"Madam, if your ladyship choose
not to part with--"--"Nay, Mr. Adams," interrupted I, "I say not any
thing for my own sake in this point: that is out of the question with
me. I can very willingly part with Polly, were it to-morrow, for her
good and yours."--"Madam, I humbly beg pardon;--but--but--delays may
breed dangers."--"Oh I very well," thought I; "if the artful girl has
not let him know, by some means or other, that she has another humble
And so, Miss, it has proved--For, dismissing my gentleman, with
assuring him, that I had no objection at all to the matter, or to
parting with Polly, as soon as it suited with their conveniency--I
sounded her, and asked, if she thought Mr. Adams had any affection for
her?--She said he was a very good gentleman.
"I know it, Polly; and are you not of opinion he loves you a
little?"--"Dear Ma'am--love me--I don't know what such a gentleman as
Mr. Adams should see in me, to love me!"--"Oh!" thought I, "does the
doubt lie on _that_ side then?--I see 'tis not of _thine_."
"Well, but, Polly, if you have _another_ sweetheart, you should do the
fair thing; it would be wrong, if you encourage any body else, if
you thought of Mr. Adams."--"Indeed, Ma'am, I had a letter sent me--a
letter that I received--from--from a young man in Bedford; but I never
"Oh!" thought I, "then thou wouldst not encourage _two at once_;" and
this was as plain a declaration as I wanted, that she had thoughts of
"But how came Mr. Adams, Polly, to know of this letter?"--"How came
he to know of it, Ma'am!"--repeated she--half surprised--"Why,
I don't know, I can't tell how it was--but I dropped it near his
desk--pulling out my handkerchief, I believe, Ma'am, and he brought
it, and gave it me again."--"Well," thought I, "thou'rt an intriguing
slut, I doubt, Polly."--"_Delays may breed dangers_," quoth the poor
gentleman!--"Ah! girl, girl!" thought I, but did not say so, "thou
deservest to have thy plot spoiled, that thou dost--But if thy
forwardness should expose thee afterwards to evils which thou mayest
avoid if thy schemes take place, I should very much blame myself. And
I see he loves thee--So let the matter take its course; I will trouble
myself no more about it. I only wish, that thou wilt make Mr. Adams as
good a wife as he deserves."
And so I dismissed her, telling her, that whoever thought of being a
clergyman's wife, should resolve to be as good as himself; to set an
example to all her sex in the parish, and shew how much his doctrines
had weight with her; should be humble, circumspect, gentle in her
temper and manners, frugal, not proud, nor vying in dress with the
ladies of the laity; should resolve to sweeten his labour, and to be
obliging in her deportment to poor as well as rich, that her husband
get no discredit through her means, which would weaken his influence
upon his auditors; and that she must be most of all obliging to him,
and study his temper, that his mind might be more disengaged, in order
to pursue his studies with the better effect.
And so much for _your_ humble servant; and for Mr. Williams's and Mr.
Adams's matrimonial prospect;--and don't think me so disrespectful,
that I have mentioned my Polly's affair in the same letter with yours.
For in high and low (I forget the Latin phrase--I have not had a
lesson a long, long while, from my dear tutor) love is in all the
same!--But whether you'll like Mr. H. as well as Polly does Mr.
Adams, that's the question. But, leaving that to your own decision,
I conclude with one observation; that, although I thought our's was a
house of as little intriguing as any body's, since the dear master of
it has left off that practice, yet I cannot see, that any family can
be clear of some of it long together, where there are men and women
worth plotting for, as husbands and wives.
My best wishes and respects attend all your worthy neighbours. I hope
ere long, to assure them, severally (to wit, Sir Simon, my lady, Mrs.
Jones, Mr. Peters, and his lady and niece, whose kind congratulations
make me very proud, and very thankful) how much I am obliged to them;
and particularly, my dear, how much I am _your ever affectionate and
faithful friend and servant_, P. B,
_From Miss Darnford, in answer to the preceding._
MY DEAR MRS. B.,
I have been several times (in company with Mr. Peters) to see Mrs.
Jewkes. The poor woman is very bad, and cannot live many days. We
comfort her all we can; but she often accuses herself of her past
behaviour to so excellent a lady; and with blessings upon blessings,
heaped upon you, and her master, and your charming little boy, is
continually declaring how much your goodness to her aggravates her
former faults to her own conscience.
She has a sister-in-law and her niece with her, and has settled all
her affairs, and thinks she is not long for this world.--Her distemper
is an inward decay, all at once as it were, from a constitution that
seemed like one of iron; and she is a mere skeleton: you would not
know her, I dare say.
I will see her every day; and she has given me up all her keys, and
accounts, to give to Mr. Longman, who is daily expected, and I hope
will be here soon; for her sister-in-law, she says herself, is a woman
of _this world_, as _she_ has been.
Mr. Peters calling upon me to go with him to visit her, I will break
Mrs. Jewkes is much as she was; but your faithful steward is come. I
am glad of it--and so is she--Nevertheless I will go every day, and
do all the good I can for the poor woman, according to your charitable
I thank you for your communication of Lady Davers's letter, I am much
obliged to my lord, and her ladyship; and should have been proud of an
alliance with that noble family, but with all Mr. H.'s good qualities,
as my lady paints them out, and his other advantages, I could not, for
the world, make him my husband. I'll tell you one of my objections, in
confidence, however, (for you are only to _sound_ me, you know:) and
I would not have it mentioned that I have taken any thought about the
matter, because a stronger reason may be given, such a one as my
lord and lady will both allow; which I will communicate to you by and
bye.--My objection arises even from what you intimate, of Mr. H.'s
good humour, and his persuadableness, if I may so call it. Now, were I
of a boisterous temper, and high spirit, such an one as required great
patience in a husband to bear with me, then Mr. H.'s good humour might
have been a consideration with me. But when I have (I pride myself in
the thought) a temper not wholly unlike your own, and such an one as
would not want to contend for superiority with a husband, it is no
recommendation to me, that Mr. H. is a good-humoured gentleman, and
will bear with faults I design not to be guilty of.
But, my dear Mrs. B., my husband must be a man of sense, and give me
reason to think he has a superior judgment to my own, or I shall be
unhappy. He will otherwise do wrong-headed things: I shall be forced
to oppose him in them: he will be tenacious and obstinate, be taught
to talk of prerogative, and to call himself a _man_, without knowing
how to behave as one, and I to despise him, of course; so be deemed
a bad wife, when, I hope, I have qualities that would make me a
tolerable good one, with a man of sense for my husband.
Now you must not think I would dispense with real good-humour in
a man. No, I make it one of my _indispensables_ in a husband. A
good-natured man will put the best constructions on what happens;
but he must have sense to _distinguish_ the best. He will be kind to
little, unwilful, undesigned failings: but he must have judgment to
distinguish what _are_ or are _not so_. But Mr. H.'s good-humour is
softness, as I may call it; and my husband must be such an one, in
short, as I need not be ashamed to be seen with in company; one who,
being my head, must not be beneath all the gentlemen he may happen
to fall in with, and who, every time he is adjusting his mouth for
speech, will give me pain at my heart, and blushes in my face, even
before he speaks.
I could not bear, therefore, that every one we encountered should be
prepared, whenever he offered to open his lips, by their contemptuous
smiles, to expect some weak and silly things from him; and when he
_had_ spoken, that he should, with a booby grin, seem pleased that he
had not disappointed them.
The only recommendatory point in Mr. H. is, that he dresses
exceedingly smart, and is no contemptible figure of a man. But, dear
Madam, you know, that's so much the worse, _when_ the man's talent
is not taciturnity, except before his aunt, or before Mr. B. or you;
_when_ he is not conscious of internal defect, and values himself upon
As to his attempts upon your Polly, though I don't like him the better
for it, yet it is a fault so wickedly common among men, that when a
woman resolves never to marry, till a quite virtuous man addresses
her, it is, in other words, resolving to die single; so that I
make not this the _chief_ objection; and yet, I would abate in my
expectations of half a dozen other good qualities, rather than that
one of virtue in a husband--But when I reflect upon the figure Mr. H.
made in that affair, I cannot bear him; and, if I may judge of other
coxcombs by him, what wretches are these smart, well-dressing querpo
fellows, many of whom you and I have seen admiring themselves at the
plays and operas!
This is one of my infallible rules, and I know it is yours too; that
he who is taken up with the admiration of his own person, will never
admire a wife's. His delights are centred in himself, and he will not
wish to get out of that exceeding narrow circle; and, in my opinion,
should keep no company but that of taylors, wig-puffers, and
But I will run on no further upon this subject; but will tell you a
reason, which you _may_ give to Lady Davers, why her kind intentions
to me cannot be answered; and which she'll take better than what I
_have said_, were she to know it, as I hope you won't let her: and
this is, my papa has had a proposal made to him from a gentleman
you have seen, and have thought polite. It is from Sir W.G. of this
county, who is one of your great admirers, and Mr. B.'s too; and that,
you must suppose, makes me have never the worse opinion of him, or
of his understanding; although it requires no great sagacity or
penetration to see how much you adorn our sex, and human nature too.
Every thing was adjusted between my papa and mamma, and Sir William,
on condition we approved of each other, before I came down; which
I knew not, till I had seen him here four times; and then my papa
surprised me into half an approbation of him: and this, it seems, was
one of the reasons why I was so hurried down from you. I can't say,
but I like the man as well as most I have seen; he is a man of sense
and sobriety, to give him his due, in very easy circumstances, and
much respected by all who know him; which is no bad earnest in a
marriage prospect. But, hitherto, he seems to like me better than I do
him. I don't know how it is; but I often observe, that when any thing
is in our power, we are not half so much taken with it, as we should
be, perhaps, if we were kept in suspense! Why should this be?--But
this I am convinced of, there is no comparison between Sir William and
Now I have named this brother-in-law of mine; what do you think?--Why,
that good couple have had their house on fire three times already.
Once it was put out by Mr. Murray's mother, who lives near them; and
twice Sir Simon has been forced to carry water to extinguish it; for,
truly, Mrs. Murray would go home again to her papa; she would not
live with such a surly wretch: and it was with all his heart; a fair
riddance! for there was no bearing the house with such an ill-natured
wife:--her sister Polly was worth a thousand of her!--I am heartily
sorry for their unhappiness. But could she think every body must bear
with her, and her fretful ways?--They'll jangle on, I reckon, till
they are better used to one another; and when he sees she can't
help it, why he'll bear with her, as husbands generally do with
ill-tempered wives; he'll try to make himself happy abroad, and leave
her to quarrel with her maids, instead of him; for she must have
somebody to vent her spleen upon--poor Nancy!--I am glad to hear of
Mr. Williams's good fortune.
As Mr. Adams knows not Polly's fault, and it was prevented in time,
they may be happy enough. She is a _sly_ girl. I always thought her
so: something so innocent, and yet so artful in her very looks: she is
an odd compound. But these worthy and piously turned young gentlemen,
who have but just quitted the college, are mere novices, as to the
world: indeed they are _above_ it, while _in_ it; they therefore
give themselves little trouble to study it, and so, depending on the
goodness of their own hearts, are more liable to be imposed upon than
people of half their understanding.
I think, since he seems to love her, you do right not to hinder the
girl's fortune. But I wish she may take your advice, in her behaviour
to _him_, at least: for as to her carriage to her neighbours, I
doubt she'll be one of the heads of the parish, presently, in her own
'Tis pity, methinks, any worthy man of the cloth should have a wife,
who, by her bad example, should pull down, as fast as he, by a good
one, can build up. This is not the case of Mrs. Peters, however; whose
example I wish was more generally followed by gentlewomen, who are
made so by marrying good clergymen, if they were not so before.
Don't be surprised, if you should hear that poor Jewkes is given
over!--She made a very exemplary--Full of blessings--And more easy
and resigned, than I apprehended she would be. I know you'll shed
a tear for the poor woman:--I can't help it myself. But you will be
pleased that she had so much time given her, and made so good use of
Mr. Peters has been every thing that one would wish one of his
function to be, in his attendance and advice to the poor woman. Mr.
Longman will take proper care of every thing. So, I will only add,
that I am, with the sincerest respect, in hopes to see you soon (for I
have a multitude of things to talk to you about), dear Mrs. B., _your
ever faithful and affectionate_ POLLY DARNFORD.
_From Mrs. B. to Lady Davers._
MY DEAR LADY DAVERS,
I understand from Miss Darnford, that before she went down from us,
her papa had encouraged a proposal made by Sir W.G. whom you saw,
when your ladyship was a kind visitor in Bedfordshire. We all agreed,
if you remember, that he was a polite and sensible gentleman, and I
find it is countenanced on all hands. Poor Mrs. Jewkes, Madam, as
Miss informs me, has paid her last debt. I hope, through mercy, she
is happy!--Poor, poor woman! But why say I so!--Since, in _that_ case,
she will be richer than an earthly monarch!
Your ladyship was once mentioning a sister of Mrs. Worden's whom you
wished to recommend to some worthy family. Shall I beg of you. Madam,
to oblige Mr. B.'s in this particular? I am sure she must have merit
if your ladyship thinks well of her; and your commands in this, as
well as in every other particular in my power, shall have their due
weight with _your ladyship's obliged sister and humble servant_, P.B.
Just now, dear Madam, Mr. B. tells me I shall have Miss Goodwill
brought me hither to-morrow.
_From Lady Davers to Mrs. B. in answer to the preceding._
MY DEAR PAMELA,
I am glad Miss Darnford is likely to be so happy in a husband, as Sir
W.G. will certainly make her. I was afraid that my proposal would not
do with her, had she not had so good a tender. I want _too_, to have
the foolish fellow married--for several reasons; one of which is, he
is continually teasing us to permit him to go up to town, and reside
there for some months, in order that he may _see the world_, as he
calls it. But we are convinced he would _feel_ it, as well as _see_
it, if we give way to his request: for in understanding, dress, and
inconsiderate vanity, he is so exactly cut out and sized for a town
fop, coxcomb, or pretty fellow, that he will undoubtedly fall into all
the vices of those people; and, perhaps, having such expectations as
he has, will be made the property of rakes and sharpers. He
complains that we use him like a child in a go-cart, or a baby with
leading-strings, and that he must not be trusted out of our sight.
'Tis a sad thing, that these _bodies_ will grow up to the stature
of men, when the _minds_ improve not at all with them, but are still
those of boys and children. Yet, he would certainly make a
fond husband: for he has no very bad qualities. But is such a
Narcissus!--But this between ourselves, for his uncle is wrapt up in
the fellow--And why? Because he is good-humoured, that's all. He has
vexed me lately, which makes me write so angrily about him--But 'tis
not worth troubling you with the particulars. I hope Mrs. Jewkes is
happy, as you say!--Poor woman! she seemed to promise for a longer
life! But what shall we say?
Your compliment to me, about my Beck's sister, is a very kind one.
Mrs. Oldham is a sober, grave widow, a little aforehand, in the
world, but not much; has lived well; understands house-hold management
thoroughly; is diligent; and has a turn to serious things, which will
make you like her the better. I'll order Beck and her to wait on you,
and she will satisfy you in every thing as to what you may, or may not
expect of her.
You can't think how kindly I take this motion from you. You forget
nothing that can oblige your friends. Little did I think you would
remember me of (what I had forgotten in a manner) my favourable
opinion and wishes for her expressed so long ago.--But you are what
you are--a dear obliging creature.
Beck is all joy and gratitude upon it, and her sister had rather serve
you than the princess. You need be under no difficulties about terms:
she would serve you for nothing, if you would accept of her service.
I am glad, because it pleases you so much, that Miss Goodwin will be
soon put into your care. It will be happy for the child, and I hope
she will be so dutiful as to give you no pain for your generous
goodness to her. Her mamma has sent me a present of some choice
products of that climate, with acknowledgments of my kindness to Miss.
I will send part of it to you by your new servant; for so I presume to
call her already.
What a naughty sister are you, however, to be so far advanced again as
to be obliged to shorten your intended excursions, and yet not to send
me word of it yourself? Don't you know how much I interest myself in
every thing that makes for my brother's happiness and your's? more
especially in so material a point as is the increase of a family
that it is my boast to be sprung from. Yet I must find this out by
accident, and by other hands!--Is not this very slighting!--But never
do so again, and I'll forgive you now because of the joy it gives me;
who am _your truly affectionate and obliged sister_, B. DAVERS.
I thank you for your book upon the plays you saw. Inclosed is a list
of some others, which I desire you to read, and to oblige me with your
remarks upon them at your leisure; though you may not, perhaps, have
seen them by the time you will favour me with your observations.
_From Mrs. B. to Lady Davers_.
MY DEAR LADY DAVERS,
I have a valuable present made me by the same lady; and therefore hope
you will not take it amiss, that, with abundance of thanks, I return
your's by Mrs. Worden, whose sister I much approve of, and thank your
ladyship for your kind recommendation of so worthy a person. We begin
with so much good liking to one another, that I doubt not we shall be
very happy together.
A moving letter, much more valuable to me than the handsome present,
was put into my hands, at the same time with that; of which the
following is a copy:
_From Mrs. Wrightson (formerly Miss Sally Godfrey) to Mrs. B._
"HAPPY, DESERVEDLY HAPPY, DEAR LADY,
"Permit these lines to kiss your hands from one, who, though she is
a stranger to your person, is not so to your character: _that_ has
reached us here, in this remote part of the world, where you have as
many admirers as have heard of you. But I more particularly am bound
to be so, by an obligation which I can never discharge, but by my
daily prayers for you, and the blessings I continually implore upon
you and yours.
"I can write my whole mind _to_ you, though I cannot, from the most
deplorable infelicity, receive _from_ you the wished-for favour of a
few lines in return, written with the same unreservedness: so unhappy
am I, from the effects of an inconsideration and weakness on one hand,
and temptation on the other, which you, at a tender age, most nobly,
for your own honour, and that of your sex, have escaped: whilst I--but
let my tears in these blots speak the rest--as my heart bleeds, and
has constantly bled ever since, at the grievous remembrance--but
believe, however, dear Madam, that 'tis shame and sorrow, and not
pride and impenitence, that make me both to speak out, to so much
purity of life and manners, my own odious weakness.
"Nevertheless, I ought, and I _will_ accuse myself by name. Imagine
then, illustrious lady, truly illustrious for virtues, infinitely
superior to all the advantages of birth and fortune!--Imagine, I
say, that in this letter, you see before you the _once_ guilty,
and therefore, I doubt, _always_ guilty, but _ever penitent_, Sarah
Godfrey; the unhappy, though fond and tender mother of the poor
infant, to whom your generous goodness has, I hear, extended itself,
so as to make you desirous of taking her under your worthy protection:
God for ever bless you for it! prays an indulgent mother, who admires
at an awful distance, that virtue in you, which she could not practise
"And will you, dearest lady, take under your own immediate protection,
the poor unguilty infant? will you love her, for the sake of her
suffering mamma, whom you know not; for the sake of the gentleman, now
so dear to you, and so worthy of you, as I hear, with pleasure, he
is? And will you, by the best example in the world, give me a moral
assurance, that she will never sink into the fault, the weakness,
the crime (I ought not to scruple to call it so) of her poor
inconsiderate-But you are her mamma _now_: I will not think of a
_guilty_ one therefore. What a joy is it to me, in the midst of my
heavy reflections on my past misconduct, that my beloved Sally can
boast a _virtuous_ and _innocent mamma_, who has withstood the snares
and temptations, that have been so fatal--elsewhere!--and whose
example, and instructions, next to God's grace, will be the strongest
fences to her honour!--Once more I say, and on my knees I write it,
God for ever bless you here, and augment your joys hereafter, for your
generous goodness to my poor, and, till now, _motherless_ infant.
"I hope she, by her duty and obligingness, will do all in her little
power to make you amends, and never give you cause to repent of this
your _unexampled_ kindness to her and to _me_. She cannot, I hope
(except her mother's crime has had an influence upon her, too much
like that of an original stain), be of a sordid, or an ungrateful
nature. And, O my poor Sally! if you _are_, and if ever you fail in
your duty to your new mamma, to whose care and authority I transfer
my _whole_ right in you, remember that you have no more a mamma in me,
nor can you be entitled to my blessing, or my prayers, which I make
now, on that _only_ condition, your implicit obedience to all your new
mamma's commands and directions.
"You may have the curiosity, Madam, to wish to know how I live: for no
doubt you have heard all my sad, sad story!--Know, then, that I am
as happy, as a poor creature can be, who has once so deplorably, so
inexcusably fallen. I have a worthy gentleman for my husband, who
married me as a widow, whose only child by my former was the care of
her papa's friends, particularly of good Lacy Davers and her brother.
Poor unhappy I! to be under such a sad necessity to disguise the
truth!--Mr. Wrightson (whose name I am unworthily honoured by) has
often entreated me to send for the poor child, and to let her be
joined as his--killing thought, that it cannot be!--with two children
I have by him!--Judge, my good lady, how that very generosity, which,
had I been guiltless, would have added to my joys, must wound me
deeper than even ungenerous or unkind usage from him could do! and how
heavy that crime must lie upon me, which turns my very pleasures to
misery, and fixes all the joy I _can_ know, in repentance for my past
misdeeds!--How happy are YOU, Madam, on the contrary; YOU, who have
nothing of this sort to pall, nothing to mingle with your felicities!
who, blessed in an honour untainted, and a conscience that cannot
reproach you, are enabled to enjoy every well deserved comfort, as it
offers itself; and can _improve_ it too, by reflection on _your_ past
conduct! While _mine_, alas! like a winter frost, nips in the bud
every rising satisfaction.
"My husband is rich as well as generous, and very tender of me--Happy,
if I could think _myself_ as deserving as _he_ thinks me!--My
principal comfort, as I hinted, is in my penitence for my past faults;
and that I have a merciful God for my judge, who knows that penitence
to be sincere!
"You may guess, Madam, from what I have said, in what light I _must_
appear here; and if you would favour me with a line or two, in
answer to the letter you have now in your hand, it will be one of the
greatest pleasures I_ can_ receive: a pleasure next to that which I
_have_ received in knowing, that the gentleman you love best, has had
the grace to repent of all his evils; has early seen his errors; and
has thereby, I hope, freed_ two_ persons from being, one day, mutual
accusers of each other; for now I please myself to think, that the
crimes of both may be washed away in the blood of that Saviour God,
whom both have so grievously offended!
"May that God, who has not suffered me to be abandoned entirely to
my own shame, as I deserved, continue to shower down upon you those
blessings, which a virtue like yours may expect from his mercy! May
you long be happy in the possession of all you wish! and late, very
late (for the good of thousands, I wish this!) may you receive the
reward of your piety, your generosity, and your filial, your social,
and conjugal virtues! are the prayers of _your most unworthy admirer,
and obliged humble servant_,
"Mr. Wrightson begs your acceptance of a small present, part of which
can have no value, but what its excelling qualities, for what it is,
will give it at so great a distance as that dear England, which I
once left with so much shame and regret; but with a laudable purpose,
_however_, because I would not incur still _greater_ shame, and of
consequence give cause for still _greater_ regret!"
To this letter, my dear Lady Davers, I have written the following
answer, which Mr. B. will take care to have conveyed to her.
"I embrace with great pleasure the opportunity you have so kindly
given me, of writing to a lady whose person though I have not the
honour to know, yet whose character, and noble qualities, I truly
"I am infinitely obliged to you. Madam, for the precious trust
you have reposed in me, and the right you make over to me, of your
maternal interest in a child, on whom I set my heart, the moment I saw
"Lady Davers, whose love and tenderness for Miss, as well for her
mamma's sake, as your late worthy spouse's, had, from her kind opinion
of me, consented to grant me this favour: and I was, by Mr. B.'s
leave, in actual possession of my pretty ward about a week before your
kind letter came to my hands.
"As I had been long very solicitous for this favour, judge how welcome
your kind concurrence was: and the rather, as, had I known, that a
letter from you was on the way to me, I should have feared you would
insist upon depriving the surviving friends of her dear papa, of the
pleasure they take in the dear child. Indeed, Madam, I believe we
should one and all have joined to disobey you, had _that_ been the
case; and it is a great satisfaction to us, that we are not under so
hard a necessity, as to dispute with a tender mamma the possession of
her own child.
"Assure yourself, worthiest Madam, of a care and tenderness in me to
the dear child truly maternal, and answerable, as much as in my power,
to the trust you repose in me. The little boy, that God has given me,
shall not be more dear to me than my sweet Miss Goodwin shall be; and
my care, by God's grace, shall extend to her _future_ as well as to
her _present_ prospects, that she may be worthy of that piety, and
_truly_ religious excellence, which I admire in your character.
"We all rejoice, dear Madam, in the account you give of your present
happiness. It was impossible that God Almighty should desert a lady
so exemplarily deserving; and he certainly conducted you in your
resolutions to abandon every thing that you loved in England, after
the loss of your dear spouse, because it seems to have been his
intention that you should reward the merit of Mr. Wrightson, and meet
with your own reward in so doing.
"Miss is very fond of my little Billy: she is a charming child, is
easy and genteel in her shape, and very pretty; she dances finely,
has a sweet air, and is improving every day in music; works with her
needle, and reads admirably for her years; and takes a delight in
both, which gives me no small pleasure. But she is not very forward in
her penmanship, as you will see by what follows: the inditing too is
her own; but in that, and the writing, she took a good deal of time,
on a separate paper.
"DEAREST DEAR MAMMA,
"Your Sally is full of joy, to have any commands from her honoured
mamma. I promise to follow all your directions. Indeed, and upon my
word, I will. You please me mightily in giving me so dear a new mamma
here. Now I know indeed I have a mamma, and I will love and obey her,
as if she was you your own self. Indeed I will. You must always bless
me, because I will be always good. I hope you will believe me, because
I am above telling fibs. I am, my honoured mamma on the other side
of the water, and ever will be, as if you was here, _your dutiful
"Miss (permit me, dear Madam, to subjoin) is a very good tempered
child, easy to be persuaded, and I hope loves me dearly; and I will
endeavour to make her love me better and better; for on that love will
depend the regard which, I hope, she will pay to all I shall say and
do for her good.
"Repeating my acknowledgements for the kind trust you repose in me,
and with thanks for the valuable present you have sent me, we all here
join in respects to worthy Mr. Wrightson, and in wishing you. Madam,
a continuance and increase of worldly felicity; and I particularly
beg leave to assure you, that I am, and ever will be, with the highest
respect and gratitude, though personally unknown, dearest Madam, _the
affectionate admirer of your piety, and your obliged humble servant_,
Your ladyship will see how I was circumscribed and limited; otherwise
I would have said (what I have mentioned more than once), how I admire
and honour her for her penitence, and for that noble resolution, which
enabled her to do what thousands could not have had the heart to do,
abandon her country, her relations, friends, baby, and all that was
dear to her, as well as the seducer, whom she too well loved, and
hazard the sea, the dangers of pirates, and possibly of other wicked
attempters of the mischievous sex, in a world she knew nothing
of, among strangers; and all to avoid repeating a sin she had been
unhappily drawn into; and for which she still abhors herself.
Must not such a lady as this, dear Madam, have as much merit as many
even of those, who, having not had her temptations, have not fallen?
This, at least, one may aver, that next to not committing an error, is
the resolution to retrieve it all that one may, to repent of it, and
studiously to avoid the repetition. But who, besides this excellent
Mrs. Wrightson, having so fallen, and being still so ardently
solicited and pursued, (and flattered, perhaps, by fond hopes, that
her spoiler would one day do her all the justice he _could_--for
who can do complete justice to a woman he has robbed of her
honour?)--could resolve as she resolved, and act as she acted? Miss
Goodwin is a sweet child; but, permit me to say, has a little of
her papa's spirit; hasty, yet generous and acknowledging when she is
convinced of her fault; a little haughtier and prouder than I wish her
to be; but in every thing else deserves the character I give of her to
She is very fond of fine clothes, is a little too lively to the
servants.--Told me once, when I took notice that softness and mildness
of speech became a young lady, that they were _but_ servants! and she
could say no more than, "Pray," and "I desire," and "I wish you'd be
so kind," to her uncle or to me.
I told her, that good servants deserved any civil distinctions; and
that so long as they were ready to oblige in every thing, by a kind
word, it would be very wrong to give them imperative ones, which could
serve for no other end but to convince observers of the haughtiness
of one's own temper; and looked, as if one would question their
compliance with our wills, unless we would exact it with an high hand;
which might cast a slur upon the command we gave, as if we thought it
was hardly so reasonable as otherwise to obtain their observation of
"Besides, my dear," said I, "you don't consider, that if you speak
as haughtily and commandingly to them on common, as on extraordinary
occasions, you weaken your own authority, if even you should be
permitted to have any, and they'll regard you no more in the one case
than in the other."
She takes great notice of what I say, and when her little proud heart
is subdued by reasonings she cannot answer, she will sit as if she
were studying what to say, to come off as flying as she can, and as
the case requires, I let her go off easily, or push the little dear to
her last refuge, and make her quit her post, and yield up her spirit a
captive to Reason and Discretion: two excellent commanders, with whom,
I tell her, I must bring her to be intimately acquainted.
Yet, after all, till I can be sure that I can inspire her with the
love of virtue, for its _own_ sake, I will rather try to conduct her
spirit to proper ends, than endeavour totally to subdue it; being
sensible that our passions are given us for excellent ends, and that
they may, by a proper direction, be made subservient to the noblest
I tell her sometimes, there may be a decent pride in humility, and
that it is very possible for a young lady to behave with so much
_true_ dignity, as shall command respect by the turn of her eye,
sooner than by asperity of speech; that she may depend upon it, the
person, who is always finding faults, frequently causes them; and that
it is no glory to be better born than servants, if she is not better
Besides, I tell her humility is a grace that shines in a _high_
condition, but cannot equally in a _low_ one; because that is already
too much humbled, perhaps: and that, though there is a censure lies
against being _poor and proud_, yet I would rather forgive pride in a
poor body, than in a rich: for in the rich it is insult and arrogance,
proceeding from their high condition; but in the poor it may be a
defensative against dishonesty, and may shew a natural bravery
of mind, perhaps, if properly directed, and manifested on right
occasions, that the frowns of fortune cannot depress.
She says she hears every day things from me, which her governess never
That may very well be, I tell her, because her governess has _many_
young ladies to take care of: I but _one_; and that I want to make her
wise and prudent betimes, that she may be an example to other Misses;
and that governesses and mammas shall say to their Misses, "When will
you be like Miss Goodwin? Do you ever hear Miss Goodwin say a naughty
word? Would Miss Goodwin, think you, have done so or so?"
She threw her arms about my neck, on one such occasion as this; "Oh,"
said she, "what a charming mamma have I got! I will be in every thing
as like you, as ever I can!--and then you will love me, and so will my
uncle, and so will every body else."
Mr. B. whom now-and-then, she says, she loves as well as if he was her
own papa, sees with pleasure how we go on. But she tells me, I must
not have any daughter but her, and is very jealous on the occasion
about which your ladyship so kindly reproaches me.
There is a pride, you know, Madam, in some of our sex, that serves to
useful purposes, is a good defence against improper matches, and mean
actions; and is not wholly to be subdued, for that reason; for, though
it is not _virtue_, yet, if it can be virtue's _substitute_, in high,
rash, and inconsiderate minds, it; may turn to good account. So I
will not quite discourage my dear pupil neither, till I see what
discretion, and riper years, may add to her distinguishing faculty.
For, as some have no notion of pride, separate from imperiousness and
arrogance, so others know no difference between humility and meanness.
There is a golden mean in every thing; and if it please God to spare
us both, I will endeavour to point her passions, and such even of
those foibles, which seem too deeply rooted to be soon eradicated,
to useful purposes; choosing to imitate physicians, who, in certain
chronical illnesses, as I have read in Lord Bacon, rather proceed by
palliatives, than by harsh extirpatives, which, through the resistance
given to them by the constitution, may create such ferments in it, as
may destroy that health it was their intention to establish.
But whither am I running?--Your ladyship, I hope, will excuse this
parading freedom of my pen: for though these notions are well enough
with regard to Miss Goodwin, they must be very impertinent to a
lady, who can so much better instruct Miss's tutoress than that vain
tutoress can her pupil. And, therefore, with my humblest respects to
my good Lord Davers, and your noble neighbours, and to Mr. H. I hasten
to conclude myself _your ladyship's obliged sister, and obedient
Your Billy, Madam, is a charming dear!--I long to have you see him.
He sends you a kiss upon this paper. You'll see it stained, just here.
The charmer has cut two teeth, and is about more: so you'll excuse the
dear, pretty, slabbering boy. Miss Goodwin is ready to eat him
with love: and Mr. B. is fonder and fonder of us all: and then your
ladyship, and my good Lord Davers love us too. O, Madam, what a
blessed creature am I!
Miss Goodwin begs I'll send her duty to her _noble_ uncle and aunt;
that's her just distinction always, when she speaks of you both. She
asked me, pretty dear, just now, If I think there is such a happy girl
in the world as she is? I tell her, God always blesses good Misses,
and makes them happier and happier.
MY DEAR LADY DAVERS,
I have three marriages to acquaint you with, in one letter. In the
first place, Sir W.G. has sent, by the particular desire of my dear
friend, that he was made one of the happiest men in England, on the
18th past; and so I have no longer my Miss Darnford to boast of. I
have a very good opinion of the gentleman; but if he be but half so
good a husband as she will make a wife, they will be exceedingly happy
in one another.
Mr. Williams's marriage to a kinswoman of his noble patron (as you
have heard was in treaty) is the next; and there is great reason to
believe, from the character of both, that they will likewise do credit
to the state.
The third is Mr. Adams and Polly Barlow; and I wish them, for both
their sakes, as happy as either of the former. They are set out to his
living, highly pleased with one another; and I hope will have reason
to continue so to be.
As to the first, I did not indeed think the affair would have been so
soon concluded; and Miss kept it off so long, as I understood, that
her papa was angry with her: and, indeed, as the gentleman's family,
circumstances, and character, were such, that there could lie no
objection against him, I think it would have been wrong to have
I should have written to your ladyship before; but have been favoured
with Mr. B.'s company into Kent, on a visit to my good mother, who was
indisposed. We tarried there a week, and left both my dear parents, to
my thankful satisfaction, in as good health as ever they were in their
Mrs. Judy Swynford, or Miss Swynford (as she refuses not being called,
now and then), has been with us for this week past; and she expects
her brother, Sir Jacob, to fetch her away in about a week hence.
It does not become me to write the least word that may appear
disrespectful of any person related to your ladyship and Mr. B.
Otherwise I should say, that the B----s and the S----s are directly
the opposites of one another. But yet, as she never saw your ladyship
but once, you will forgive me to mention a word or two about her,
because she is a character that is in a manner new to me.
She is a maiden lady, as you know, and though she will not part with
the green leaf from her hand, one sees by the grey-goose down on her
brows and her head, that she cannot be less than fifty-five. But so
much pains does she take, by powder, to have never a dark hair in her
head, because she has one half of them white, that I am sorry to see,
what is a subject for reverence, should be deemed, by the good lady,
matter of concealment.
She is often seemingly reproaching herself, that she is an _old maid_,
and an _old woman_; but it is very discernible, that she expects
a compliment, that she is _not so_, every time she is so free with
herself: and if nobody makes her one, she will say something of that
sort in her own behalf.
She takes particular care, that of all the public transactions which
happen to be talked of, her memory will never carry her back above
thirty years! and then it is--"About thirty years ago; when I was a
girl," or "when I was in hanging sleeves;" and so she makes herself,
for twenty years of her life, a very useless and insignificant person.
If her teeth, which, for her age, are very good, though not over white
(and which, by her care of them, she seems to look upon as the last
remains of her better days), would but fail, it might help her to a
conviction, that would set her ten years forwarder at least. But, poor
lady, she is so _young_, in spite of her wrinkles, that I am really
concerned for her affectation; because it exposes her to the remarks
and ridicule of the gentlemen, and gives one pain for her.
Surely, these ladies don't act prudently at all; since, for every year
Mrs. Judy would take from her age, her censurers add two to it; and,
behind her back, make her going on towards seventy; whereas, if she
would lay claim to her _reverentials_, as I may say, and not try to
conceal her age, she would have many compliments for looking so well
at her years.--And many a young body would hope to be the better for
her advice and experience, who now are afraid of affronting her, if
they suppose she has lived much longer in the world than themselves.
Then she looks back to the years she owns, when more flippant ladies,
at the laughing time of her life, delight to be frolic: she tries to
sing too, although, if ever she had a voice, she has outlived it; and
her songs are of so antique a date, that they would betray her; only,
as she says, they were learnt her by her grandmother, who was a fine
lady at the Restoration. She will join in a dance; and though her
limbs move not so pliantly as might be expected of a lady no older
than she would be thought, and whose dancing-days are not entirely
over, yet that was owing to a fall from her horse some years ago,
which, she doubts, she shall never recover, though she finds she grows
better and better, _every year_.
Thus she loses the respect, the reverence, she might receive, were it
not for this miserable affectation; takes pains, by aping youth, to
make herself unworthy of her years, and is content to be thought less
discreet than she might otherwise be deemed, for fear she should be
imagined older if she appeared wiser.
What a sad thing is this, Madam!--What a mistaken conduct! We pray to
live to old age; and it is promised as a blessing, and as a reward for
the performance of certain duties; and yet, when we come to it, we had
rather be thought as foolish as youth, than to be deemed wise, and in
possession of it. And so we shew how little we deserve what we have
been so long coveting; and yet covet on: for what? Why, to be more and
more ashamed, and more and more unworthy of that we covet!
How fantastic a character is this!-Well may irreverent, unthinking
youth despise, instead of revere, the hoary head which the wearer is
so much ashamed of. The lady boasts a relationship to you, and Mr.
B. and, I think, I am very bold. But my reverence for years, and the
disgust I have to see anybody behave unworthy of them, makes me take
the greater liberty: which, however, I shall wish I had not taken, if
it meets not with that allowance, which I have always had from your
ladyship in what I write.
God knows whether ever I may enjoy the blessing I so much revere in
others. For now my heavy time approaches. But I was so apprehensive
before, and so troublesome to my best friends, with my vapourish
fears, that now (with a perfect resignation to the Divine Will) I will
only add, that I am _your ladyship's most obliged sister and servant_,
My dear Billy, and Miss Goodwin, improve every day, and are all I can
desire or expect them to be. Could Miss's poor mamma be here with a
wish, and back again, how much would she be delighted with one of our
afternoon conferences; our Sunday employments especially!--And let
me add, that I am very happy in another young gentleman of the dean's
recommending, instead of Mr. Adams.
MY DEAREST LADY,
I am once more, blessed be God for all his mercies to me! enabled,
on my upsitting, to thank you, and my noble lord, for all your kind
solicitudes for my welfare. Billy every day improves. Miss is all I
wish her to be, and my second dear boy continues to be as lovely and
as fine a baby as your ladyship was pleased to think him; and their
papa, the best of husbands!
I am glad to hear Lady Betty is likely to be so happy. Mr. B. says,
her noble admirer is as worthy a gentleman as any in the peerage; and
I beg of you to congratulate the dear lady, and her noble parents,
in my name, if I should be at a distance, when the nuptials are
I have had the honour of a visit from my lady, the Countess Dowager,
on occasion of her leaving the kingdom for a year or two, for which
space she designs to reside in Italy, principally at Naples or
Florence; a design she took up some time ago, but which it seems she
could not conveniently put into execution till now.
Mr. B. was abroad when her ladyship came, and I expected him not till
the next day. She sent her gentleman, the preceding evening, to let me
know that business had brought her as far as Wooburn; and if it would
not be unacceptable, she would pay her respects to me at breakfast,
the next morning, being speedily to leave England. I returned, that I
should be very proud of that honour. And about ten her ladyship came.
She was exceedingly fond of my two boys, the little man, and the
pretty baby, as she called them; and I had very different emotions
from the expression of her love to Billy, and her visit to me, from
what I had once before. She was sorry, she said, Mr. B. was abroad;
though her business was principally with me. "For, Mrs. B.," said she,
"I come to tell you all that passed between Mr. B. and myself, that
you may not think worse of either of us, than we deserve; and I could
not leave England till I had waited on you for this purpose; and yet,
perhaps, from the distance of time, you'll think it needless now.
And, indeed, I should have waited on you before, to have cleared up my
character with you, had I thought I should have been so long kept on
this side of the water."--I said, I was very sorry I had ever been
uneasy, when I had two persons of so much honour--"Nay," said she,
interrupting me, "you have no need to apologize; things looked bad
enough, as they were presented to you, to justify greater uneasiness
than you expressed."
She asked me, who that pretty genteel Miss was?--I said, a relation of
Lord Davers, who was entrusted lately to my care. "Then, Miss," said
her ladyship, and kissed her, "you are very happy."
Believing the Countess was desirous of being alone with me, I said,
"My dear Miss Goodwin, won't you go to your little nursery, my love?"
for so she calls my last blessing--"You'd be sorry the baby should cry
for you." For she was so taken with the charming lady, that she was
loth to leave us--But, on my saying this, withdrew.
When we were alone, the Countess began her story, with a sweet
confusion, which added to her loveliness. She said she would be
brief, because she should exact all my attention, and not suffer me
to interrupt her till she had done. She began with acknowledging, that
she thought, when she first saw Mr. B. at the masquerade, that he was
the finest gentleman she had ever seen; that the allowed freedoms of
the place had made her take liberties in following him, and engaging
him wherever he went. She blamed him very freely for passing for a
single man; for that, she said, since she had so splendid a fortune
of her own, was all she was solicitous about; having never, as she
confessed, seen a man she could like so well; her former marriage
having been in some sort forced upon her, at an age when she knew not
how to distinguish; and that she was very loth to believe him married,
even when she had no reason to doubt it. "Yet this I must say," said
she, "I never heard a man, when he owned he was married, express
himself with more affectionate regard and fondness than he did of
you; which made me long to see you; for I had a great opinion of those
personal advantages which every one flattered me with; and was very
unwilling to yield the palm of beauty to you.
"I believe you will censure me, Mrs. B., for permitting his visits
after I knew he was married. To be sure, that was a thoughtless, and
a faulty part of my conduct. But the world's saucy censures, and
my friends' indiscreet interposals, incensed me; and, knowing the
uprightness of my own heart, I was resolved to disgrace both, when I
found they could not think worse of me than they did.
"I am naturally of a high spirit, impatient of contradiction, always
gave myself freedoms, for which, satisfied with my own innocence, I
thought myself above being accountable to any body--And then Mr. B.
has such noble sentiments, a courage and fearlessness, which I saw
on more occasions than one, that all ladies who know the weakness of
their own sex, and how much they want the protection of the brave,
are taken with. Then his personal address was so peculiarly
distinguishing, that having an opinion of his honour, I was
embarrassed greatly how to deny myself his conversation; although,
you'll pardon me, Mrs. B., I began to be afraid that my reputation
might suffer in the world's opinion for the indulgence.
"Then, when I had resolved, as I did several times, to see him no
more, some unforeseen accident threw him in my way again, at one
entertainment or other; for I love balls and concerts, and public
diversions, perhaps, better than I ought; and then I had all my
resolves to begin again. Yet this I can truly say, whatever his views
were, I never heard from him the least indecent expression, nor saw in
his behaviour to me much to apprehend; saving, I began to fear, that
by his insinuating address, and noble manner, I should be too much in
his power, and too little in my own, if I went on so little doubting,
and so little alarmed, if ever he should avow dishonourable designs.
"I had often lamented, that our sex were prohibited, by the designs
of the other upon their honour, and by the world's censures, from
conversing with the same ease and freedom with gentlemen, as with one
another. And when once I asked myself, to what this conversation
might tend at last? and where the pleasure each seemed to take in the
other's, might possibly end? I resolved to break it off; and told
him my resolution next time I saw him. But he stopped my mouth with a
romantic notion, as I since think it, (though a sorry plea will have
weight in favour of a proposal, to which one has no aversion) of
Platonic love; and we had an intercourse by letters, to the number of
six or eight, I believe, on that and other subjects.
"Yet all this time, I was the less apprehensive, because he always
spoke so tenderly, and even with delight, whenever he mentioned
his lady; and I could not find, that you were at all alarmed at our
acquaintance: for I never scrupled to send my letters, by my own
livery, to your house, sealed with my own seal. At last, indeed, he
began to tell me, that from the sweetest and evenest temper in the
world, you seemed to be leaning towards melancholy, were always in
tears, or shewed you had been weeping, when he came home; and that you
did not make his return to you so agreeable as he used to find it.
"I asked if it were not owing to some alteration in his own temper?
If you might not be uneasy at our acquaintance, and at his frequent
absence from you, and the like? He answered, No; that you were above
disguises, were of a noble and frank nature, and would have hinted it
to him, if you had. This, however, when I began to think seriously of
the matter, gave me but little satisfaction; and I was more and
more convinced, that my honour required it of me, to break off this
"And although I permitted Mr. B. to go with me to Tunbridge, when I
went to take a house there, yet I was uneasy, as he saw. And, indeed,
so was he, though he tarried a day or two longer than he designed, on
account of a little excursion my sister and her lord, and he and I,
made into Sussex, to see an estate I thought of purchasing; for he was
so good as to look into my affairs, and has put them upon an admirable
"His uneasiness, I found, was upon your account, and he sent you a
letter to excuse himself for not waiting on you on Saturday, and to
say, he would dine with you on Monday. And I remember when I
said, 'Mr. B., you seem to be chagrined at something; you are more
thoughtful than usual: 'his answer was, 'Madam, you are right, Mrs.
B. and I have had a little misunderstanding. She is so solemn, and so
melancholy of late, I fear it will be no difficult matter to put her
out of her right mind: and I love her so well, that then I should
hardly keep my own.'
"'Is there no reason, think you,' said I, 'to imagine that your
acquaintance with me gives her uneasiness? You know, Mr. B., how that
villain T.' (a man," said she, "whose insolent address I rejected with
the contempt it deserved) 'has slandered us. How know you, but he has
found a way to your wife's ear, as he has done to my uncle's, and to
all my friends'? And if so, it is best for us both to discontinue a
friendship, that may be attended with disagreeable consequences.'
"He said, he should find it out on his return. 'And will you,' said I,
'ingenuously acquaint me with the issue of your inquiries? for,' added
I, 'I never beheld a countenance, in so young a lady, that seemed to
mean more than Mrs. B.'s, when I saw her in town; and notwithstanding
her prudence I could see a reserve and thoughtfulness in it, that, if
it was not natural to it, must indicate too much.'
"He wrote to me, in a very moving letter, the issue of your
conference, and referred to some papers of your's, that he would shew
me, as soon as he could procure them, they being of your own hands;
and let me know that T. was the accuser, as I had suspected.
"In brief, Madam, when you went down into Kent, he read to me
some part of your account to Lady Davers, of your informant and
information; your apprehensions; your prudence; your affection for
him; the reason of your melancholy; and, to all appearance, reason
enough you had, especially from the letter of Thomasine Fuller,
which was one of T.'s vile forgeries: for though we had often, for
argument's sake, talked of polygamy (he arguing for it, I against it),
yet had not Mr. B. dared, nor was he inclined, I verily believe, to
propose any such thing to me: no, Madam, I was not so much abandoned
to a sense of honour, as to give reason for any one, but my
impertinent and foolish uncle, to impute such a folly to me; and he
had so behaved to me, that I cared not what _he_ thought.
"Then, what he read to me, here and there, as he pleased, gave me
reason to admire you for your generous opinion of one you had so much
seeming cause to be afraid of: he told me his apprehensions, from your
uncommon manner, that your mind was in some degree affected, and your
strange proposal of parting with a husband every one knows you so
dearly love: and we agreed to forbear seeing each other, and all
manner of correspondence, except by letter, for one month, till some
of my affairs were settled, which had been in great disorder, and were
in his kind management then; and I had not one relation, whom I cared
to trouble with them, because of their treatment of me on Mr. B.'s
account. And this, I told him, should not be neither, but through your
hands, and with your consent.
"And thus, Madam," said her ladyship, "have I told you the naked truth
of the whole affair. I have seen Mr. B. very seldom since: and when
I have, it has been either at a horse-race, in the open field, or at
some public diversion, by accident, where only distant civilities have
passed between us.
"I respect him greatly; you must allow me to say that. Except in the
article of permitting me to believe, for some time, that he was a
single gentleman, a fault he cannot be excused for, and which made me
heartily quarrel with him, when I first knew it, he has behaved to
me with so much generosity and honour, that I could have wished I
had been of his sex, since he had a lady so much more deserving than
myself; and then, had he had the same esteem for me, there never would
have been a more perfect friendship. I am now going," continued she,
"to embark for France, and shall pass a year or two in Italy; and then
I shall, I hope, return as solid, as grave, as circumspect, though not
so wise, as Mrs. B."
Thus the Countess concluded her narrative: I said, I was greatly
obliged to her for the honour of this visit, and the kind and
considerate occasion of it: but that Mr. B. had made me entirely happy
in every particular, and had done her ladyship the justice she so well
deserved, having taken upon himself the blame of passing as a single
man at his first acquaintance with her.
I added, that I could hope her ladyship might be prevented, by some
happy man, from leaving a kingdom, to which she was so great an
ornament, as well by her birth, her quality and fortune, as by her
perfections of person and mind.
She said, she had not been the happiest of her sex in her former
marriage: although nobody, her youth considered, thought her a bad
wife; and her lord's goodness to her, at his death, had demonstrated
his own favourable opinion of her by deeds, as he had done by words
upon all occasions: but that she was yet young; a little too gay and
unsettled: and had her head turned towards France and Italy, having
passed some time in those countries, which she thought of with
pleasure, though then only twelve or thirteen: that for this reason,
and having been on a late occasion still more unsettled (looking down
with blushes, which often overspread her face, as she talked), she had
refused some offers, not despicable: that indeed Lord C. threatened to
follow her to Italy, in hopes of meeting better success there, than
he had met with here: but if he did, though she would make no
resolutions, she might be too much offended with him, to give him
reason to boast of his journey; and this the rather, as she believed
he had once entertained no very honourable notions of her friendship
for Mr. B.
She wished to see Mr. B. and to take leave of him, but not out of my
company, she was pleased to say.--"Your ladyship's consideration for
me," replied I, "lays me under high obligation; but indeed, Madam,
there is no occasion for it, from any diffidences I have in your's or
Mr. B.'s honour. And if you will give me the pleasure of knowing when
it will be most acceptable, I will beg of Mr. B. to oblige me with his
company to return this favour, the first visit I make abroad."
"You are very kind, Mrs. B.," said she: "but I think to go to
Tunbridge for a fortnight, when I have disposed of every thing for
my embarkation, and so set out from thence. And if you should then be
both in Kent, I should be glad to take you at your word."
To be sure, I said, Mr. B. at least, would attend her ladyship there,
if any thing should happen to deprive me of that honour.
"You are very obliging," said she, "I take great concern to myself,
for having caused you a moment's uneasiness formerly: but I must now
try to be circumspect, in order to retrieve my character, which has
been so basely traduced by that presumptuous fellow Turner, who hoped,
I suppose, by that means, to bring me down to his level."
Her ladyship would not be prevailed upon to stay dinner; and, saying
she would be at Wooburn all the next day, took a very tender leave of
me, wishing me all manner of happiness, as I did her.
Mr. B. came home in the evening, and next morning rode to Wooburn, to
pay his respects to the Countess, and came back in the evening.
Thus happily, and to the satisfaction of all three, as I hope, ended
this perplexing affair.
Mr. B. asks me how I relish Mr. Locke's _Treatise on Education_?
which he put into my hands some time since, as I told your ladyship. I
answered, Very well; and I thought it an excellent piece in the main.
"I'll tell you," said he, "what you shall do. You have not shewed me
any thing you have written for a good while. I could wish you to fill
up your leisure-time with your observations on that treatise, that I
may know what you can object to it; for you say _in the main_, which
shews, that you do not entirely approve of every part of it."
"But will not that be presumptuous, Sir?"
"I admire Mr. Locke," replied he; "and I admire my Pamela. I have
no doubt of his excellencies, but I want to know the sentiments of a
young mother, as well as of a learned gentleman, upon the subject of
education; because I have heard several ladies censure some part of
his regimen, when I am convinced, that the fault lies in their own
over-great fondness for their children."
"As to myself, Sir, who, in the early part of my life, have not been
brought up too tenderly, you will hardly meet with any objection to
the part which I imagine you have heard most objected to by ladies who
have been more indulgently treated in their first stage. But there
are a few other things that want clearing up to my understanding; but,
which, however, may be the fault of that."
"Then, my dear," said he, "suppose me at a distance from you, cannot
you give me your remarks in the same manner, as if you were writing to
Lady Davers, or to Miss Darnford, that was?"
"Yes, Sir, depending on your kind favour to me, I believe I could."
"Do then; and the less restraint you write with, the more I shall be
pleased with it. But I confine you not to time or place. We will make
our excursions as I once proposed; and do you write to me now-and-then
upon the subject; for the places and remarkables you will see, will be
new only to yourself; nor will either of those ladies expect from
you an itinerary, or a particular description of countries, which are
better described by authors who have made it their business to treat
upon those subjects. By this means, you will be usefully employed in
your own way, which may turn to good account to us both, and to the
dear children, which it may please God to bestow upon us."
"You don't expect, Sir, any thing regular, or digested from me."
"I don't, my dear. Let your fancy and your judgment be both employed,
and I require no method; for I know, in your easy, natural way, that
would be a confinement, which would cramp your genius, and give what
you write a stiff, formal air, that I might expect in a pedagogue, but
not in my Pamela."
"Well, but, Sir, although I may write nothing to the purpose, yet if
Lady Davers desires it, you will allow me to transmit what I shall
write to her, when you have perused it yourself? For your good sister
is so indulgent to my scribble, she will expect to be always hearing
from me; and this way I shall oblige her ladyship while I obey her
"With all my heart," he was pleased to say.
So, my lady, I shall now-and-then pay my respects to you in the
writing way, though I must address myself, it seems, to my dearest Mr.
B.; and I hope to be received on these my own terms, since they are
your brother's also, and, at the same time, such as will convince you,
how much I wish to approve myself, to the best of my poor ability,
_your ladyship's most obliged sister, and humble servant_,
My dearest Mr. B.,
I have been considering of your commands, in relation to Mr. Locke's
book, and since you are pleased to give me time to acquit myself
of the task, I shall beg to include in a little book my humble
sentiments, as I did to Lady Davers, in that I shewed you in relation
to the plays I had seen. And since you confine me not to time or
place, I may be three or four years in completing it, because I shall
reserve some subjects to my further experience in children's ways and
tempers, and in order to benefit myself by the good instructions I
shall receive from your delightful conversation, in that compass of
time, if God spare us to one another: and then it will, moreover, be
still worthier of the perusal of the most honoured and best beloved of
all my correspondents, much honoured and beloved as they all are.
I must needs say, my dear Mr. B., that this is a subject to which
I was always particularly attentive; and among the charities your
bountiful heart permits me to dispense to the poor and indigent,
I have had always a watchful eye upon the children of such, and
endeavoured, by questions put to them, as well as to their parents,
to inform myself of their little ways and tempers, and how nature
delights to work in different minds, and how it might be pointed to
their good, according to their respective capacities; and I have for
this purpose erected, with your approbation, a little school of seven
or eight children, among which is four in the earliest stages, when
they can but just speak, and call for what they want and love: and I
am not a little pleased to observe, when I visit them in their school
time that principles of goodness and virtue may be instilled into
their little hearts much earlier than is usually imagined. And why
should it not be so? for may not the child, that can tell its wants,
and make known its inclination, be easily made sensible of _yours_,
and what you expect from it, provided you take a proper method? For,
sometimes, signs and tokens (and even looks), uniformly practised,
will do as well as words; as we see in such of the young of the brute
creation as we are disposed to domesticate, and to teach to practise
those little tricks, of which the aptness or docility of their natures
makes them capable.
But yet, dearest Sir, I know not enough of the next stage, the
_maturer_ part of life, to touch upon that as I wish to do: and yet
there is a natural connection and progression from the one to the
other: and I would not be thought a vain creature, who believes
herself equal to _every_ subject, because she is indulged with the
good opinion of her friends, in a _few_, which are supposed to be
within her own capacity.
For, I humbly conceive, that it is no small point of wisdom to know,
and not to mistake, one's own talents: and for this reason, permit
me, Sir, to suspend, till I am better qualified for it, even my own
proposal of beginning my little book; and, in the mean time, to touch
upon a few places of the admirable author, that seem to me to warrant
another way of thinking, than that which he prescribes.
But, dear Sir, let me premise, that all that your dear babies can
demand of my attention for some time to come, is their health; and God
has blessed them with such sound limbs, and, to all appearances, good
constitutions, that I have very little to do, but to pray for them
every time I pray for their dear papa; and that is hourly; and yet
not so often as you confer upon me benefits and favours, and new
obligations, even to the prevention of all my wishes, were I to sit
down and study for what must be the next.
As to this point of _health_, Mr. Locke gives these plain and easy to
be observed rules.
He prescribes first, _plenty of open air_. That this is right, the
infant will inform one, who, though it cannot speak, will make signs
to be carried abroad, and is never so well pleased, as when enjoying
the open and free air; for which reason I conclude, that this is one
of those natural pointings, as I may say, that are implanted in every
creature, teaching it to choose its good, and to avoid its evil.
_Sleep_ is the next, which he enjoins to be indulged to its utmost
extent: an admirable rule, as I humbly conceive; since sound sleep is
one of the greatest nourishers of nature, both to the once young
and to the _twice_ young, if I may use the phrase. And I the rather
approve of this rule, because it keeps the nurse unemployed, who
otherwise may be doing it the greatest mischief, by cramming and
stuffing its little bowels, till ready to burst. And, if I am right,
what an inconsiderate and foolish, as well as pernicious practice it
is, for a nurse to _waken_ the child from its nourishing sleep, for
fear it should suffer by hunger, and instantly pop the breast into
its pretty mouth, or provoke it to feed, when it has no inclination to
either, and for want of digestion, must have its nutriment turned to
repletion, and bad humours!
Excuse me, dear Sir, these lesser particulars. Mr. Locke begins with
them; and surely they may be allowed in a young _mamma_, writing
(however it be to a gentleman of genius and learning) to a _papa_, on
a subject, that in its lowest beginnings ought not to be unattended to
by either. I will therefore pursue my excellent author without farther
apology, since you have put his work into my hands.
The next thing, then, which he prescribes, is _plain diet_. This
speaks for itself, for the baby can have no corrupt taste to gratify:
all is pure, as out of the hand of Nature; and what is not plain and
natural, must vitiate and offend.
Then, _no wine_, or _strong drink_. Equally just; and for the same
_Little_ or _no physic_. Undoubtedly right. For the _use_ of
physic, without necessity, or by way of _precaution_, as some call
it, begets the _necessity_ of physic; and the very _word_ supposes
_distemper_ or _disorder_; and where there is none, would a parent
beget one; or, by frequent use, render the salutary force of medicine
ineffectual, when it was wanted?
Next, he forbids _too warm_ and _too strait clothing_. This is just as
I wish it. How often has my heart ached, when I have seen poor babies
rolled and swathed, ten or a dozen times round; then blanket upon
blanket, mantle upon that; its little neck pinned down to one posture;
its head, more than it frequently needs, triple-crowned like a young
pope, with covering upon covering; its legs and arms, as if to prevent
that kindly stretching, which we rather ought to promote, when it is
in health, and which is only aiming at growth and enlargement, the
former bundled up, the latter pinned down; and how the poor thing lies
on the nurse's lap, a miserable little pinioned captive, goggling
and staring with its eyes, the only organ it has at liberty, as if
supplicating for freedom to its fettered limbs! Nor has it any comfort
at all, till with a sigh or two, like a dying deer, it drops asleep;
and happy then will it be till the officious nurse's care shall awaken
it for its undesired food, as if resolved to try its constitution, and
willing to see how many difficulties it could overcome.
Then he advises, that the head and feet should be kept cold; and the
latter often used to cold water, and exposed to wet, in order to lay
the foundation, as he says, of an healthy and hardy constitution.
Now, Sir, what a pleasure it is to your Pamela, that her notions, and
her practice too, fall in so exactly with this learned gentleman's
advice that, excepting one article, which is, that your Billy has not
yet been accustomed to be _wet-shod_, every other particular has
been observed! And don't you see what a charming, charming baby he
is?--Nay, and so is your little Davers, for his age--pretty soul!
Perhaps some, were they to see this, would not be so ready, as I know
_you_ will be, to excuse me; and would be apt to say, "What nursery
impertinences are these to trouble a man with!"--But with all their
wisdom, they would be mistaken; for if a child has not good health,
(and are not these rules the moral foundation, as I may say, of that
blessing?) its animal organs will play but poorly in a weak or crazy
case. These, therefore, are necessary rules to be observed for the
first two or three years: for then the little buds of their minds
will begin to open, and their watchful mamma will be employed like
a skilful gardener, in assisting and encouraging the charming flower
through its several hopeful stages to perfection, when it shall become
one of the principal ornaments of that delicate garden, your honoured
family. Pardon me, Sir, if in the above paragraph I am too figurative.
I begin to be afraid I am out of my sphere, writing to your dear self,
on these important subjects.
But be that as it may, I will here put an end to this my first letter
(on the earliest part of my subject), rejoicing in the opportunity
you have given me of producing a fresh instance of that duty and
affection, wherewith I am, and shall ever be, my dearest Mr. B., _your
I will now, my dearest, my best beloved correspondent of all, begin,
since the tender age of my dear babies will not permit me to have
an eye yet to their _better_ part, to tell you what are the little
matters to which I am not quite so well reconciled in Mr. Locke: and
this I shall be better enabled to do, by my observations upon the
temper and natural bent of my dear Miss Goodwin, as well as by those
which my visits to the bigger children of my little school, and those
at the cottages adjacent, have enabled me to make; for human
nature, Sir, you are not to be told, is human nature, whether in the
high-born, or in the low.
This excellent author (Section 52), having justly disallowed of
slavish and corporal punishments in the education of those we would
have to be wise, good, and ingenuous men, adds, "On the other side, to
flatter children by rewards of things that are pleasant to them, is
as carefully to be avoided. He that will give his son apples, or
sugar-plums, or what else of this kind he is most delighted with, to
make him learn his book, does but authorize his love of pleasure, and
cockers up that dangerous propensity, which he ought, by all means,
to subdue and stifle in him. You can never hope to teach him to master
it, whilst you compound for the check you give his inclination in one
place, by the satisfaction you propose to it in another. To make a
good, a wise, and a virtuous man, 'tis fit he should learn to cross
his appetite, and deny his inclination to riches, finery, or pleasing
his palate, &c."
This, Sir, is well said; but is it not a little too philosophical and
abstracted, not only for the generality of children, but for the age
he supposes them to be of, if one may guess by the apples and the
sugar-plums proposed for the rewards of their well-doing?--Would not
this require that memory or reflection in children, which, in another
place, is called the concomitant of prudence and age, and not of
It is undoubtedly very right, to check an unreasonable appetite, and
that at its first appearance. But if so small and so reasonable an
inducement will prevail, surely, Sir, it might be complied with.
A generous mind takes delight to win over others by good usage and
mildness, rather than by severity; and it must be a great pain to
such an one, to be always inculcating, on his children or pupils, the
doctrine of self-denial, by methods quite grievous to his own nature.
What I would then humbly propose, is, that the encouragements offered
to youth, should, indeed, be innocent ones, as the gentleman enjoins,
and not such as would lead to luxury, either of food or apparel; but
I humbly think it necessary, that rewards, proper rewards, should
be proposed as incentives to laudable actions: for is it not by this
method that the whole world is influenced and governed? Does not God
himself, by rewards and punishments, make it our interest, as well
as our duty, to obey him? And can we propose ourselves, for the
government of our children, a better example than that of the Creator?
This fine author seems to think he had been a little of the strictest,
and liable to some exception. "I say not this," proceeds he, (Section
53) "that I would have children kept from the conveniences or
pleasures of life, that are not injurious to their health or virtue.
On the contrary, I would have their lives made as pleasant and as
agreeable to them as may be, in a plentiful enjoyment of whatsoever
might innocently delight them."-And yet he immediately subjoins a very
hard and difficult proviso to this indulgence.--"Provided," says he,
"it be with this caution, that they have those enjoyments only as the
consequences of the state of esteem and acceptation they are in with
their parents and governors."
I doubt, my dear Mr. B., this is expecting such a distinction and
discretion in children, as they seldom have in their tender years, and
requiring capacities not commonly to be met with; so that it is not
prescribing to the _generality_, as this excellent author intended.
'Tis, I humbly conceive, next to impossible that their tender minds
should distinguish beyond facts; they covet this or that play-thing,
and the parent, or governor, takes advantage of its desires, and
annexes to the indulgence such or such a task or duty, as a condition;
and shews himself pleased with its compliance with it: so the child
wins its plaything, and receives the commendation so necessary to lead
on young minds to laudable pursuits. But shall it not be suffered
to enjoy the innocent reward of its compliance, unless it can give
satisfaction, that its greatest delight is not in having the thing
coveted, but in performing the task, or obeying the injunctions
imposed upon it as a condition of its being obliged? I doubt, Sir,
this is a little too strict, and not to be expected from children. A
servant, full-grown, would not be able to shew, that, on condition he
complied with such and such terms (which, it is to be supposed by the
offer, he would not have complied with, but for that inducement), he
should have such and such a reward;
I say, he would hardly be able to shew, that he preferred the pleasure
of performing the requisite conditions to the stipulated reward. Nor
is it necessary he should: for he is not the less a good servant, or
a virtuous man, if he own the conditions painful, and the reward
necessary to his low state in the world, and that otherwise he would
not undergo any service at all.--Why then should this be exacted from
Let, therefore, innocent rewards be proposed, and let us be contented
to lead on the ductile minds of children to a love of their duty, by
obliging them with such: we may tell them what we expect in this case;
but we ought not, I humbly conceive, to be too rigorous in exacting
it; for, after all, the inducement will naturally be the uppermost
consideration with the child: not, as I hinted, had it been offered to
it, if the parent himself had not thought so. And, therefore, we can
only let the child know his duty in this respect, and that he _ought_
to give a preference to that; and then rest ourselves contented,
although we should discern, that the reward is the chief incentive,
of it. For this, from whatever motive inculcated, may beget a habit
in the child of doing it: and then, as it improves in years, one may
hope, that reason will take place, and enable him, from the most solid
and durable motives, to give a preference to the duty.
Upon the whole, then, can we insist upon it, that the child should
so nicely distinguish away its little _innate_ passions, as if we
expected it to be born a philosopher? Self-denial is, indeed, a most
excellent doctrine to be inculcated into children, and it must be done
_early_: but we must not be too severe in our exacting it; for a duty
too rigidly insisted upon, will make it odious. This Mr. Locke, too,
observes in another place, on the head of too great severity; which he
illustrates by a familiar comparison: "Offensive circumstances," says
he, "ordinarily infect innocent things which they are joined with. And
the very sight of a cup, wherein any one uses to take nauseous physic,
turns his stomach; so that nothing will relish well out of it,
though the cup be never so clean and well-shaped, and of the richest
Permit me to add, that Mr. Locke writes still more rigorously on the
subject of rewards; which I quote, to shew I have not misunderstood
him: "But these enjoyments," says he, "should _never_ be offered
or bestowed on children, as the rewards of this or that particular
performance that they shew an aversion to, or to which they would not
have applied themselves without that temptation." If, dear Sir,
the minds of children can be led on by innocent inducements to the
performance of a duty, of which they are capable, what I have humbly
offered, is enough, I presume, to convince one, that it _may_ be done.
But if ever a particular study be proposed to be mastered, or a bias
to be overcome (that is not an _indispensable_ requisite to his future
life of morals) to which the child shews an aversion, I would not,
methinks, have him be too much tempted or compelled to conquer or
subdue it, especially if it appear to be a _natural_ or rivetted
aversion. For, permit me to observe, that the education and studies of
children ought, as much as possible, to be suited to their capacities
and inclination, and, by these means, we may expect to have always
_useful_ and often _great_ men, in different professions; for that
genius which does not prompt to the prosecution of one study, may
shine in another no less necessary part of science. But, if the
promise of innocent rewards _would_ conquer this aversion, yet they
should not be applied with this view; for the best consequences that
can be hoped for, will be tolerable skill in one thing, instead of
most excellent in another.
Nevertheless, I must repeat, that if, as the child grows up, and is
capable of so much reason, that, from the love of the _inducement_,
one can raise his mind to the love of the _duty_, it should be done
by all means. But, my dear Mr. B., I am afraid that _that_ parent
or tutor will meet with but little success, who, in a child's tender
years, shall refuse to comply with its foibles, till he sees it value
its duty, and the pleasure of obeying his commands, beyond the little
enjoyment on which his heart is fixed. For, as I humbly conceive, that
mind which can be brought to prefer its duty to its appetites, will
want little of the perfection of the wisest philosophers.
Besides, Sir, permit to me say, that I am afraid this perpetual
opposition between the passions of the child and the duty to be
enforced, especially when it sees how other children are indulged (for
if this regimen could be observed by _any_, it would be impossible it
should become _general_, while the fond and the inconsiderate parents
are so large a part of mankind), will cow and dispirit a child, and
will, perhaps produce, a necessity of making use of severity, to
subdue him to this temper of self-denial; for if the child refuses,
the parent must insist; and what will be the consequence? must it not
introduce a harsher discipline than this gentleman allows of?--and
which, I presume to say, did never yet do good to any but to slavish
and base spirits, if to them; a discipline which Mr. Locke every where
See here, dear Sir, a specimen of the presumption of your girl: "What
will she come to in time!" you will perhaps say, "Her next step will
be to arraign myself." No, no, dear Sir, don't think so: for my duty,
my love, and my reverence, shall be your guards, and defend you from
every thing saucy in me, but the bold approaches of my gratitude,
winch shall always testify for me, how much I am _your obliged and
MY DEAREST MR. B.,
I will continue my subject, although I have not had an opportunity
to know whether you approve of my notions or not by reason of the
excursions you have been pleased to allow me to make in your beloved
company to the sea-ports of this kingdom, and to the more noted inland
towns of Essex, Kent, Sussex, Hampshire, and Dorsetshire, which have
given me infinite delight and pleasure, and enlarged my notions of the
wealth and power of the kingdom, in which God's goodness has given you
so considerable a stake.
My next topic will be upon a _home_ education, which Mr. Locke
prefers, for several weighty reasons, to a _school_ one, provided
such a tutor can be procured, as he makes next to an impossibility to
procure. The gentleman has set forth the inconveniencies of both, and
was himself so discouraged, on a review of them, that he was ready, as
he says, to throw up his pen. My chief cares, dear Sir, on this head,
are three: 1st, The difficulty which, as I said, Mr. Locke makes
almost insuperable, to find a qualified tutor. 2ndly, The necessity
there is, according to Mr. Locke, of keeping the youth out of the
company of the meaner servants, who may set him bad examples. And,
3rdly, Those still greater difficulties which will arise from the
example of his parents, if they are not very discreet and circumspect.
As to the qualifications of the tutor, Mr. Locke supposes, that he is
to be so learned, so discreet, so wise, in short, so _perfect_ a man,
that I doubt, and so does Mr. Locke, such an one can hardly be met
with for this _humble_ and _slavish_ employment. I presume, Sir, to
call it so, because of the too little regard that is generally paid
to these useful men in the families of the great, where they are
frequently put upon a foot with the uppermost servants, and the
rather, if they happen to be men of modesty.
"I would," says he, "from children's first beginning to talk, have
some discreet, sober, nay, _wise_ person about them, whose care
it should be to fashion them right, and to keep them from all ill;
especially the infection of bad company. I think this province
requires great sobriety, temperance, tenderness, diligence, and
discretion; qualities hardly to be found united in persons that are to
be had for ordinary salaries, nor easily to be found any where."
If this, Sir, be the case, does not this excellent author recommend
a scheme that is rendered in a manner impracticable from this
As to these qualities being more rarely to be met with in persons that
are to be had for _ordinary salaries_, I cannot help being of opinion
(although, with Mr. Locke, I think no expence should be spared, if
that _would_ do) that there is as good a chance for finding a proper
person among the needy scholars (if not of a low and sordid turn of
mind) as among the more affluent: because the narrow circumstances of
the former (which probably became a spur to his own improvement) will,
it is likely, at first setting out in the world, make him be glad to
embrace such an offer in a family which has interest enough to prefer
him, and will quicken his diligence to make him _deserve_ preferment;
and if such an one wanted any of that requisite politeness, which some
would naturally expect from scholars of better fortune, might not that
be supplied to the youth by the conversation of parents, relations,
and visitors, in conjunction with those other helps which young men of
family and large expectations constantly have, and which few learned
tutors can give him?
I say not this to countenance the wretched niggardliness (which
this gentleman justly censures) of those who grudge a handsome
consideration to so necessary and painful a labour as that of a tutor,
which, where a deserving man can be met with, cannot be too genteelly
rewarded, nor himself too respectfully treated. I only beg to deliver
my opinion, that a low condition is as likely as any other, with a
mind not ungenerous, to produce a man who has these good qualities,
as well for the reasons I have hinted at, as for others which might be
But Mr. Locke thus proceeds: "To form a young gentleman as he should
be, 'tis fit his governor should be well bred, understand the ways of
carriage, and measures of civility, in all the variety of _persons_,
_times_, and _places_ and keep his pupil, as far as his age requires,
constantly to the observation of them. This is an art not to be
learnt or taught by books.--Nothing can give it but good company and
observation joined together."
And in another place says, "Besides being well-bred, the tutor should
know the world well; the ways, the humours, the follies, the cheats,
the faults of the age he has fallen into, and particularly of the
country he lives in: these he should be able to shew to his pupil, as
he finds him capable; teach him skill in men and their manners; pull
off the mask which their several callings and pretences cover them
with; and make his pupil discern what lies at the bottom, under such
appearances, that he may not, as unexperienced young men are apt to
do, if they are unwarned, take one thing for another, judge by the
outside, and give himself up to show, and the insinuations of a fair
carriage, or an obliging application; teach him to guess at, and
beware of, the designs of men he hath to do with, neither with too
much suspicion, nor too much confidence."
This, dear Sir, is excellently said: 'tis noble _theory_; and if
the tutor be a man void of resentment and caprice, and will not be
governed by partial considerations, in his own judgment of persons and
things, all will be well: but if otherwise, may he not take advantage
of the confidence placed in him, to the injury of some worthy person,
and by degrees monopolize the young gentleman to himself, and govern
his passions as absolutely, as I have heard some first ministers have
done those of their prince, equally to his own personal disreputation,
and to the disadvantage of his people? But all this, and much more,
according to Mr. Locke, is the duty of a tutor: and on the finding out
such an one, depends his scheme of a home education. No wonder, then,
that he himself says, "When I consider the scruples and cautions
I here lay in your way, methinks it looks as if I advised you to
something which I would have offered at, but in effect not done,"
&c.--Permit me, dear Sir, in this place to express my fear that it
is hardly possible for any one, with talents inferior to those of
Mr. Locke himself, to come up to the rules he has laid down upon this
subject; and 'tis to be questioned, whether even _he_, with all that
vast stock of natural reason and solid sense, for which, as you tell
me, Sir, he was so famous, had attained to these perfections, at his
first setting out into life.
Now, therefore, dear Sir, you can't imagine how these difficulties
perplex me, as to my knowing how to judge which is best, a _home_ or
a _school_ education. For hear what this excellent author justly
observes on the latter, among other things, no less to the purpose:
"I am sure, he who is able to be at the charge of a tutor at home, may
there give his son a more genteel carriage, more manly thoughts, and
a sense of what is worthy and becoming, with a greater proficiency in
learning, into the bargain, and ripen him up sooner into a man, than
any school can do. Not that I blame the schoolmaster in this," says
he, "or think it to be laid to his charge. The difference is great
between two or three pupils in the same house, and three or four score
boys lodged up and down; for, let the master's industry and skill be
never so great, it is impossible he should have fifty or an hundred
scholars under his eye any longer than they are in the school
together." But then, Sir, if there be such a difficulty as Mr. Locke
says, to meet with a proper tutor for the home education, which he
thus prefers, what a perplexing thing is this. But still, according to
this gentleman, another difficulty attends a home education; and that
is, what I hinted at before, in my second article, the necessity of
keeping the youth out of the company of the meaner servants, who
may set him bad examples. For thus he says, "Here is another great
inconvenience, which children receive from the ill examples which they
meet with from the meaner servants. They are _wholly_, if possible,
to be kept from such conversation: for the contagion of these ill
precedents, both in civility and virtue, horribly infects children, as
often as they come within the reach of it. They frequently learn from
unbred or debauched servants, such language, untowardly tricks and
vices, as otherwise they would be ignorant of all their lives. 'Tis a
hard matter wholly to prevent this mischief," continues he; "you will
have very good luck, if you never have a clownish or vicious servant,
and if from them your children never get any infection."
Then, Sir, my third point (which I mentioned in the beginning of this
letter) makes a still stronger objection, as it may happen, against a
home education; to wit, the example of the parents themselves, if they
be not very circumspect and discreet.
All these difficulties being put together, let me, dear Sir, humbly
propose it, as a matter for your consideration and determination,
whether there be not a middle way to be found out in a school
education, that may remedy some of these inconveniencies? For suppose
you cannot get a tutor so qualified as Mr. Locke thinks he ought to
be, for your Billy as he grows up. Suppose there is danger from your
meaner servants; or we his parents should not be able to lay ourselves
under the requisite restraints, in order to form his mind by our
own examples, which I hope, by God's grace, however, will not be the
case--Cannot some master be found, who shall be so well rewarded for
his care of a _few_ young gentlemen, as to make it worth his while to
be contented with those _few?_--suppose from five to eight at most;
whose morals and breeding he may attend to, as well as to their
learning? The farther this master lives from the young gentleman's
friends, the better it may be. We will hope, that he is a man of a
mild disposition, but strict in his discipline, and who shall make it
a rule not to give correction for small faults, or till every other
method has been tried; who carries such a just dignity in his manner,
without the appearance of tyranny, that his looks may be of greater
force than the blows of others; and who will rather endeavour to shame
than terrify, a youth out of his faults. Then, suppose this gentleman
was to allot a particular portion of time for the _more learned_
studies; and before the youth was tired with _them_, suppose another
portion was allotted for the _writing_ and _arithmetic_; and then to
relieve his mind from both, suppose the _dancing-master_ should take
his part; and innocent exercises of mere diversion, to fill up the
rest, at his own choice, in which, diverted by such a rotation