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Title: Mary Wollstonecraft's Original Stories
Author: Wollstonecraft, Mary, 1759-1797
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mary Wollstonecraft's Original Stories" ***

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[Picture: Look what a fine morning it is . . . Insects, Birds, & Animals,
                       are all enjoying existence]


                         WITH FIVE ILLUSTRATIONS
                              WILLIAM BLAKE

                                * * * * *

                           WITH AN INTRODUCTION
                               E. V. LUCAS

                                * * * * *

                               HENRY FROWDE

                                * * * * *

                           OXFORD: HORACE HART
                        PRINTER TO THE UNIVERSITY


The germ of the _Original Stories_ was, I imagine, a suggestion (in the
manner of publishers) from Mary Wollstonecraft’s employer, Johnson of St.
Paul’s Churchyard, that something more or less in the manner of Mrs.
Trimmer’s _History of the Robins_, the great nursery success of 1786,
might be a profitable speculation.  For I doubt if the production of a
book for children would ever have occurred spontaneously to an author so
much more interested in the status of women and other adult matters.
However, the idea being given her, she quickly wrote the book—in 1787 or
1788—carrying out in it to a far higher power, in Mrs. Mason, the
self-confidence and rectitude of Mrs. Trimmer’s leading lady, Mrs.
Benson, who in her turn had been preceded by that other flawless
instructor of youth, Mr. Barlow.  None of these exemplars could do wrong;
but the Mrs. Mason whom we meet in the following pages far transcends the
others in conscious merit.  Mrs. Benson in the _History of the Robins_
(with the author of which Mary Wollstonecraft was on friendly terms) was
sufficiently like the Protagonist of the Old Testament to be, when among
Mrs. Wilson’s bees, ‘excessively pleased with the ingenuity and industry
with which these insects collect their honey and wax, form their cells,
and deposit their store’; but Mrs. Mason, as we shall see, went still

It has to be remembered that the _Original Stories_ were written when the
author was twenty-nine, five years before she met Gilbert Imlay and six
years before her daughter Fanny Imlay was born.  I mention this fact
because it seems to me to be very significant.  I feel that had the book
been written after Fanny’s birth, or even after the Imlay infatuation, it
would have been somewhat different: not perhaps more entertaining,
because its author had none of that imaginative sympathy with the young
which would direct her pen in the direction of pure pleasure for them;
but more human, more kindly, better.  One can have indeed little doubt as
to this after reading those curious first lessons for an infant which
came from Mary Wollstonecraft’s pen in or about 1795, (printed in volume
two of the _Posthumous Works_, 1798), and which give evidence of so much
more tenderness and reasonableness (and at the same time want of Reason,
which may have been Godwin’s God but will never stand in that relation
either to English men or English children) than the monitress of the
_Original Stories_, the impeccable Mrs. Mason, ever suggests.  I know of
no early instance where a mother talks down to an infant more prettily:
continually descending herself to its level, yet never with any of Mrs.
Mason’s arrogance and superiority.  Not indeed that this poor mother,
with her impulsive warm heart wounded, and most of her illusions gone,
and few kindly eyes resting upon her, could ever have compassed much of
Mrs. Mason’s prosperous self-satisfaction and authority had she wished
to; for in the seven years between the composition of the _Original
Stories_ and the lessons for the minute Fanny Imlay, she had lived an
emotional lifetime, and suffering much, pitied much.

In Lesson X, which I quote, although it says nothing of charity or
kindness, a vastly more human spirit is found than in any of Mrs. Mason’s
homilies on our duty to the afflicted:—

    See how much taller you are than William.  In four years you have
    learned to eat, to walk, to talk.  Why do you smile?  You can do much
    more, you think: you can wash your hands and face.  Very well.  I
    should never kiss a dirty face.  And you can comb your head with the
    pretty comb you always put by in your own drawer.  To be sure, you do
    all this to be ready to take a walk with me.  You would be obliged to
    stay at home, if you could not comb your own hair.  Betty is busy
    getting the dinner ready, and only brushes William’s hair, because he
    cannot do it for himself.

    Betty is making an apple-pye.  You love an apple-pye; but I do not
    bid you make one.  Your hands are not strong enough to mix the butter
    and flour together; and you must not try to pare the apples, because
    you cannot manage a great knife.

    Never touch the large knives: they are very sharp, and you might cut
    your finger to the bone.  You are a little girl, and ought to have a
    little knife.  When you are as tall as I am, you shall have a knife
    as large as mine; and when you are as strong as I am, and have
    learned to manage it, you will not hurt yourself.

    You can trundle a hoop, you say; and jump over a stick.  O, I
    forgot!—and march like men in the red coats, when papa plays a pretty
    tune on the fiddle.

Even a very little of the tender spirit that this lesson breathes, even a
very little of its sense of play, would have leavened the _Original
Stories_ into a more wholesome consistency.  As it stands, that book is
one of the most perfect examples of the success with which, a century or
more ago, any ingratiating quality could be kept out of a work for the
young.  According to William Godwin, his unhappy wife had always a pretty
and endearing way with children.  Yet of pretty and endearing ways, as of
humour, I take him to have been a bad judge; for I do not think that any
woman possessing enough sympathy to attach children to her as he, in one
of the most curious biographies in the language, assures us that she had,
could have suppressed the gift so completely in her first book for young
minds.  And the Mrs. Masonic character of her own Preface supports my

I do not wish to suggest that previous to 1787 Mary Wollstonecraft had
been a stranger to suffering.  Far from it.  Her life had known little
joy.  Her father’s excesses, her mother’s grief and poverty, her sister’s
misfortunes, her own homelessness, and, to crown all, the death of her
close friend Frances Blood, must have dimmed if not obliterated most of
her happy impulses.  But it is one thing to suffer bereavement and to be
anxious about the troubles of others near and dear; and it is quite
another to suffer oneself by loving, even to a point of personal
disaster, and then losing both that love and the friendliness (such as it
was) of the world.  Imlay’s desertion and the birth of Fanny were real
things beside which a drunken father, unhappy sisters, and a dead friend
were mere trifles.

This little book is to my mind chiefly interesting for two reasons apart
from its original purpose—for the light it throws on the attitude of the
nursery authors of that day towards children, and for the character of
Mrs. Mason, a type of the dominant British character, in petticoats, here
for the first time (so far as my reading goes) set on paper.

I have no information regarding the success of the _Original Stories_ in
their day, and such spirited efforts as are now made to obtain them by
collectors are, we know, due rather to Blake than to Mary Wollstonecraft;
but any measure of popularity that they may have enjoyed illustrates the
awful state of slavery in which the children of the seventeen-nineties
must have subsisted.  It is indeed wonderful to me to think that only a
poor hundred years ago such hard and arid presentations of adult
perfection and infantile incapacity should have been considered, even by
capable writers, all that the intelligence of children needed or their
tender inexperience deserved.  I do not deny that children are not to-day
too much considered: indeed, I think that they are: I think there is now
an unfortunate tendency to provide them with literature in such variety
as to anticipate, and possibly supplant, the most valuable natural
workings of their minds in almost every direction; but such activity at
any rate indicates a desire on the part of the writers of these books to
understand their readers, whereas I can detect none in the _Original
Stories_ or in hundreds of kindred works of that day.  _Sandford and
Merton_ and Mrs. Trimmer’s book stand apart: there is much humanity and
imaginative sympathy in both; but with the majority of nursery authors,
to fling down a collection of homilies was sufficient.

The odd thing is that every one was equally thoughtless: it is not merely
that Mary Wollstonecraft should consider such an intellectual stone as
Chapter XV worth preparing for poor little fellow creatures that needed
bread; but that her publisher Johnson should consider it the kind of
thing to send forth, and that, with artists capable of dramatic interest
available, he should hand the commission to illustrate it to William
Blake, who, exquisitely charming as were his drawings for his own
_Songs_, was as yet in no sense of the word an ingratiating illustrator
of narratives of real life for young eyes.  And there still remains the
parent or friend who, picking up the book in a shop, considered it the
kind of thing to strike a bliss into the soul of Master Henry or Miss
Susan as a birthday present.  It is all, at this date, so incredible, so
shortsighted, so cruel, one could almost say.  No one seems to have tried
at all: the idea of wooing a child was not in the air—certainly Mary
Wollstonecraft had none of it.

Who it was that first discerned the child to be a thing of joy, a
character apart worth coming to without patronage, a flower, a fairy, I
cannot say.  But Blake, in his writings, had much to do with the
discovery, and Wordsworth perhaps more.  Certain, however, is it that
Mary Wollstonecraft, even if she had glimmerings of this truth, had no
more; and those she suppressed when the pen was in her hand.

I might remark here that the circumstance that Blake’s drawings for
Salzmann’s _Elements of Morality_, which Mary Wollstonecraft translated
in 1791, also for Johnson, are more interesting and dramatic, is due to
the fact that he merely adapted the work of the German artist.  Blake was
uniformly below himself in this kind of employment.  Only in the rapt
freedoms of the angelic harper in his hut, in the picture opposite page
56 of the present work, does he approach his true genius; while in his
conception of Mrs. Mason I have no confidence.  Not slim and willowy and
pensive was she in my mental picture of her: I figure a matron of sterner
stuff and solider build.

But having said this against the _Original Stories_, I have said all, for
as the casket enshrining Mrs. Mason its value remains unassailable.

It was well for Mrs. Mason that Mary Wollstonecraft set her on paper in
1788.  Had she waited until the _Vindication of the Rights of Women_ was
written in 1792 (and dedicated to Talleyrand), had she waited until
little Fanny Imlay was born into a stony world, Mrs. Mason would never
have been.  Because it is the likes of Mrs. Mason that keep the rights of
women, as Mary Wollstonecraft saw them, in the background, and demand the
production of marriage lines.  Mrs. Mason would have been the first to
regret the unwomanliness of the publication both of the book and of the
baby.  The Preface to this book suggests that Mary Wollstonecraft was at
that time, before she had loved and lost and suffered, something of a
Mrs. Mason herself; but Mrs. Mason remained Masonic to the end, whereas
poor Mary’s heart and mind were always in conflict.  She may have loved
pure Reason, but she loved Gilbert Imlay too.  And this Mrs. Mason never

Mrs. Mason never nods.  Her tact, her mental reaction, her confidence,
her sense of duty and knowledge of duty, are alike marvellous.  When the
higher mercy compels her to end a wounded lark’s misery by putting her
foot on its head, she ‘turns her own the other way’.  At the close of a
walk during which her charges have been ‘rational’, she shakes hands with
them.  Her highest praise to Mary, after the fruit-picking incident on
page 40, is to call her ‘my friend’; ‘and she deserved the name,’ adds
the lady, ‘for she was no longer a child.’  No child could be her friend.
One wonders what she made of the beautiful words ‘Suffer the little
children to come unto Me . . . for of such is the kingdom of Heaven’; but
of course she did not know them: her Testament was obviously the Old.

Yet we have, as it happens, a comment on Christ’s remark, in her
statement on page 8, made in one of her recurring monologues on
superiority and inferiority, that it is ‘only to animals that children
_can_ do good’.  Mrs. Mason’s expression of alarm and dismay on hearing
the words ‘A little child shall lead them’ could be drawn adequately, one
feels, only by Mary Wollstonecraft’s friend Fuseli.

‘I govern my servants and you,’ said Mrs. Mason, ‘by attending strictly
to truth, and this observance keeping my head clear and my heart pure, I
am ever ready to pray to the Author of Good, the Fountain of truth.’  She
never paid unmeaning compliments, (and here it is interesting to compare
the second paragraph of Mary Wollstonecraft’s Preface, where she plays at
being a Mrs. Mason too), or permitted any word to drop from her tongue
that her heart did not dictate.  Hence she allowed Mrs. Trimmer’s
_History of the Robins_ to be lent to a little girl, only on condition
that the little girl should be made to understand that birds cannot
really talk.  She had in her garden, although large, only one bed of
tulips, because the tulip flaunts, whereas the rose, of which she had a
profusion, is modest.  That God made both does not seem to have troubled
her.  She thought that the poor who were willing to work ‘had a right to
the comforts of life’.  During a thunderstorm she walked with the same
security as when the sun enlivened the prospect, since her love of virtue
had overcome her fear of death.  She was weaned from the world, ‘but not
disgusted.’  When she visited those who have been reduced from their
original place in society by misfortunes, she made such alterations in
her dress as would suggest ceremony, lest too much familiarity should
appear like disrespect.  She forbade Caroline to cry when in pain,
because the Most High was educating her for eternity.  She thought that
all diseases were sent to children by the Almighty to teach them patience
and fortitude.  She never sought bargains, wishing every one to receive
the just value for their goods; and when her two charges at last left
her, to return to their father, she dismissed them with the words, ‘You
are now candidates for my friendship, and on your advancement in virtue
my regard will in future depend.’

The great fault of Mrs. Mason is that she had none.  One seems to
understand why her own children and husband died so quickly.

Since I have read this little book a new kind of nightmare has come into
my slumbers: I dream that I am walking with Mrs. Mason.  The greatness
and goodness of Mrs. Mason surround me, dominate me, suffocate me.  With
head erect, vigilant eye, and a smile of assurance and tolerance on her
massive features, she sails on and on, holding my neatly-gloved hand,
discoursing ever of the infinite mercy of God, the infinite paltriness of
myself, and the infinite success of Mrs. Mason.  I think that Mrs.
Mason’s most terrible characteristic to me (who have never been quite
sure of anything) is the readiness with which her decisions spring
fully-armed from her brain.  She knows not only everything, but herself
too: she has no doubts.  Here she joins hands with so much that is most
triumphant in the British character.  The Briton also is without doubts.
He marches forward.  He is right.  It is when I contemplate him in this
mood—and Mrs. Mason too—that I most wonder who my ancestors can have

The awful reality of Mrs. Mason proves that Mary Wollstonecraft, had she
known her own power and kept her mental serenity, might have been a great
novelist.  Mrs. Mason was the first and strongest British Matron.  She
came before Mrs. Proudie, and also, it is interesting to note, before Sir
Willoughby Patterne.  But she was, I fear, an accident; for there is
nothing like her in our author’s one experiment in adult fiction, _The
Wrongs of Woman_.

                                                              E. V. LUCAS.


Look what a fine morning it is.—Insects, Birds,         _Frontispiece_
and Animals, are all enjoying existence.
Indeed we are very happy!                            _to face page_ 36
Be calm, my child, remember that you must do all     _to face page_ 46
the good you can the present day
Trying to trace the sound, I discovered a little     _to face page_ 56
hut, rudely built
Economy and Self-denial are necessary, in every      _to face page_ 86
station, to enable us to be generous

        [Picture: Facsimile of the title page of the 1791 edition]


These conversations and tales are accommodated to the present state of
society; which obliges the author to attempt to cure those faults by
reason, which might never to have taken root in the infant mind.  Good
habits, imperceptibly fixed, are far preferable to the precepts of
reason; but, as this task requires more judgment than generally falls to
the lot of parents, substitutes must be sought for, and medicines given,
when regimen would have answered the purpose much better.  I believe
those who examine their own minds, will readily agree with me, that
reason, with difficulty, conquers settled habits, even when it is arrived
at some degree of maturity: why then do we suffer children to be bound
with fetters, which their half-formed faculties cannot break.

In writing the following work, I aim at perspicuity and simplicity of
style; and try to avoid those unmeaning compliments, which slip from the
tongue, but have not the least connexion with the affections that should
warm the heart, and animate the conduct.  By this false politeness,
sincerity is sacrificed, and truth violated; and thus artificial manners
are necessarily taught.  For true politeness is a polish, not a varnish;
and should rather be acquired by observation than admonition.  And we may
remark, by way of illustration, that men do not attempt to polish
precious stones, till age and air have given them that degree of
solidity, which will enable them to bear the necessary friction, without
destroying the main substance.

The way to render instruction most useful cannot always be adopted;
knowledge should be gradually imparted, and flow more from example than
teaching: example directly addresses the senses, the first inlets to the
heart; and the improvement of those instruments of the understanding is
the object education should have constantly in view, and over which we
have most power.  But to wish that parents would, themselves, mould the
ductile passions, is a chimerical wish, for the present generation have
their own passions to combat with, and fastidious pleasures to pursue,
neglecting those pointed out by nature: we must therefore pour premature
knowledge into the succeeding one; and, teaching virtue, explain the
nature of vice.  Cruel necessity!

The Conversations are intended to assist the teacher as well as the
pupil; and this will obviate an objection which some may start, that the
sentiments are not quite on a level with the capacity of a child.  Every
child requires a different mode of treatment; but a writer can only
choose one, and that must be modified by those who are actually engaged
with young people in their studies.

The tendency of the reasoning obviously tends to fix principles of truth
and humanity on a solid and simple foundation; and to make religion an
active, invigorating director of the affections, and not a mere attention
to forms.  Systems of Theology may be complicated, but when the character
of the Supreme Being is displayed, and He is recognised as the Universal
Father, the Author and Centre of Good, a child may be led to comprehend
that dignity and happiness must arise from imitating Him; and this
conviction should be twisted into—and be the foundation of every
inculcated duty.

At any rate, the Tales, which were written to illustrate the moral, may
recall it, when the mind has gained sufficient strength to discuss the
argument from which it was deduced.


Mary and Caroline, though the children of wealthy parents were, in their
infancy, left entirely to the management of servants, or people equally
ignorant.  Their mother died suddenly, and their father, who found them
very troublesome at home, placed them under the tuition of a woman of
tenderness and discernment, a near relation, who was induced to take on
herself the important charge through motives of compassion.

They were shamefully ignorant, considering that Mary had been fourteen,
and Caroline twelve years in the world.  If they had been merely
ignorant, the task would not have appeared so arduous; but they had
caught every prejudice that the vulgar casually instill.  In order to
eradicate these prejudices, and substitute good habits instead of those
they had carelessly contracted, Mrs. Mason never suffered them to be out
of her sight.  They were allowed to ask questions on all occasions, a
method she would not have adopted, had she educated them from the first,
according to the suggestions of her own reason, to which experience had
given its sanction.

They had tolerable capacities; but Mary had a turn for ridicule, and
Caroline was vain of her person.  She was, indeed, very handsome, and the
inconsiderate encomiums that had, in her presence, been lavished on her
beauty made her, even at that early age, affected.


                              CHAPTER I
_The Treatment of Animals.—The Ant.—The Bee.—Goodness.—The           1
Lark’s Nest.—The Asses_
                              CHAPTER II
_The Treatment of Animals.—The Difference between them and           6
Man.—The Parental Affection of a Dog.—Brutality punished_
                             CHAPTER III
_The Treatment of Animals.—The Story of crazy Robin.—The            10
Man confined in the Bastille_
                              CHAPTER IV
_Anger.—History of Jane Fretful_                                    14
                              CHAPTER V
_Lying.—Honour.—Truth.—Small Duties.—History of Lady Sly            18
and Mrs. Trueman_
                              CHAPTER VI
_Anger.—Folly produces Self-contempt_, _and the Neglect of          25
                             CHAPTER VII
_Virtue the Soul of Beauty.—The Tulip and the Rose.—The             27
Nightingale.—External Ornaments.—Characters_
                             CHAPTER VIII
_Summer Evening’s Amusement.—The Arrival of a Family of             31
Haymakers.—Ridicule of personal Defects censured.—A
Storm.—The Fear of Death.—The Cottage of Honest Jack_,
_the shipwrecked Sailor.—The History of Jack_, _and his
faithful Dog Pompey_
                              CHAPTER IX
_The Inconveniences of immoderate Indulgence_                       37
                              CHAPTER X
_The Danger of Delay.—Description of a Mansion-house in             40
Ruins.—History of Charles Townley_
                              CHAPTER XI
_Dress.—A Character.—Remarks on Mrs. Trueman’s Manner of            47
Dressing.—Trifling Omissions undermine Affection_
                             CHAPTER XII
_Behaviour to Servants.—True Dignity of Character_                  50
                             CHAPTER XIII
_Employment.—Idleness produces Misery.—The Cultivation of           53
the Fancy raises us above the Vulgar_, _extends our
Happiness_, _and leads to Virtue_
                             CHAPTER XIV
_Innocent Amusements.—Description of a Welch                        55
Castle.—History of a Welch Harper.—A tyrannical
Landlord.—Family Pride_
                              CHAPTER XV
_Prayer.—A Moon-light Scene.—Resignation_                           60
                             CHAPTER XVI
_The Benefits arising from Devotion.—The History of the             64
Village School-mistress.—Fatal Effects of Inattention to
Expense_, _in the History of Mr. Lofty_
                             CHAPTER XVII
_The Benefits arising from Devotion.—The History of the             67
Village School-mistress concluded_
                            CHAPTER XVIII
_A Visit to the School-mistress.—True and False Pride_              69
                             CHAPTER XIX
_Charity.—The History of Peggy and her Family.—The                  71
Sailor’s Widow_
                              CHAPTER XX
_Visit to Mrs. Trueman.—The Use of Accomplishments.—Virtue          74
the Soul of all_
                             CHAPTER XXI
_The Benefit of bodily Pain.—Fortitude the Basis of                 77
Virtue.—The Folly of Irresolution_
                             CHAPTER XXII
_Journey to London_                                                 79
                            CHAPTER XXIII
_Charity.—Shopping.—The distressed Stationer.—Mischievous           81
Consequences of delaying Payment_
                             CHAPTER XXIV
_Visit to a Poor Family in London.—Idleness the Parent of           84
Vice.—Prodigality and Generosity incompatible.—The
Pleasures of Benevolence.—True and false Motives for
                             CHAPTER XXV
_Mrs. Mason’s farewell Advice to her Pupils.—Observations           86
on Letter-writing_



The treatment of animals.—The ant.—The bee.—Goodness.—The lark’s
nest.—The asses.

One fine morning in spring, some time after Mary and Caroline were
settled in their new abode, Mrs. Mason proposed a walk before breakfast,
a custom she wished to teach imperceptibly, by rendering it amusing.

The sun had scarcely dispelled the dew that hung on every blade of grass,
and filled the half-shut flowers; every prospect smiled, and the
freshness of the air conveyed the most pleasing sensations to Mrs.
Mason’s mind; but the children were regardless of the surrounding
beauties, and ran eagerly after some insects to destroy them.  Mrs. Mason
silently observed their cruel sports, without appearing to do it; but
stepping suddenly out of the foot-path into the long grass, her buckle
was caught in it, and striving to disentangle herself, she wet her feet;
which the children knew she wished to avoid, as she had been lately sick.
This circumstance roused their attention; and they forgot their amusement
to enquire why she had left the path; and Mary could hardly restrain a
laugh, when she was informed that it was to avoid treading on some snails
that were creeping across the narrow footway.  Surely, said Mary, you do
not think there is any harm in killing a snail, or any of those nasty
creatures that crawl on the ground?  I hate them, and should scream if
one was to find its way from my clothes to my neck!  With great gravity,
Mrs. Mason asked how she dared to kill any thing, unless it were to
prevent its hurting her?  Then, resuming a smiling face, she said, Your
education has been neglected, my child; as we walk along attend to what I
say, and make the best answers you can; and do you, Caroline, join in the

You have already heard that God created the world, and every inhabitant
of it.  He is then called the Father of all creatures; and all are made
to be happy, whom a good and wise God has created.  He made those snails
you despise, and caterpillars, and spiders; and when He made them, did
not leave them to perish, but placed them where the food that is most
proper to nourish them is easily found.  They do not live long, but He
who is their Father, as well as your’s, directs them to deposit their
eggs on the plants that are fit to support their young, when they are not
able to get food for themselves.—And when such a great and wise Being has
taken care to provide every thing necessary for the meanest creature,
would you dare to kill it, merely because it appears to you ugly?  Mary
began to be attentive, and quickly followed Mrs. Mason’s example, who
allowed a caterpillar and a spider to creep on her hand.  You find them,
she rejoined, very harmless; but a great number would destroy our
vegetables and fruit; so birds are permitted to eat them, as we feed on
animals; and in spring there are always more than at any other season of
the year, to furnish food for the young broods.—Half convinced, Mary
said, but worms are of little consequence in the world.  Yet, replied
Mrs. Mason, God cares for them, and gives them every thing that is
necessary to render their existence comfortable.  You are often
troublesome—I am stronger than you—yet I do not kill you.

Observe those ants; they have a little habitation in yonder hillock; they
carry food to it for their young, and sleep very snug in it during the
cold weather.  The bees also have comfortable towns, and lay up a store
of honey to support them when the flowers die, and snow covers the
ground: and this forecast is as much the gift of God, as any quality you

Do you know the meaning of the word Goodness?  I see you are unwilling to
answer.  I will tell you.  It is, first, to avoid hurting any thing; and
then, to contrive to give as much pleasure as you can.  If some insects
are to be destroyed, to preserve my garden from desolation, I have it
done in the quickest way.  The domestic animals that I keep, I provide
the best food for, and never suffer them to be tormented; and this
caution arises from two motives:—I wish to make them happy; and, as I
love my fellow-creatures still better than the brute creation, I would
not allow those that I have any influence over, to grow habitually
thoughtless and cruel, till they were unable to relish the greatest
pleasure life affords,—that of resembling God, by doing good.

A lark now began to sing, as it soared aloft.  The children watched its
motions, listening to the artless melody.  They wondered what it was
thinking of—of its young family, they soon concluded; for it flew over
the hedge, and drawing near, they heard the young ones chirp.  Very soon
both the old birds took their flight together, to look for food to
satisfy the craving of the almost fledged young.  An idle boy, who had
borrowed a gun, fired at them—they fell; and before he could take up the
wounded pair, he perceived Mrs. Mason; and expecting a very severe
reprimand, ran away.  She and the little girls drew near, and found that
one was not much hurt; but that the other, the cock, had one leg broken,
and both its wings shattered; and its little eyes seemed starting out of
their sockets, it was in such exquisite pain.  The children turned away
their eyes.  Look at it, said Mrs. Mason; do you not see that it suffers
as much, and more than you did when you had the small-pox, when you were
so tenderly nursed.  Take up the hen; I will bind her wing together;
perhaps it may heal.  As to the cock, though I hate to kill any thing, I
must put him out of pain; to leave him in his present state would be
cruel; and avoiding an unpleasant sensation myself, I should allow the
poor bird to die by inches, and call this treatment tenderness, when it
would be selfishness or weakness.  Saying so, she put her foot on the
bird’s head, turning her own another way.

They walked on; when Caroline remarked, that the nestlings, deprived of
their parents, would now perish; and the mother began to flutter in her
hand as they drew near the hedge, though the poor creature could not fly,
yet she tried to do it.  The girls, with one voice, begged Mrs. Mason to
let them take the nest, and provide food in a cage, and see if the mother
could not contrive to hop about to feed them.  The nest and the old
mother were instantly in Mary’s handkerchief.  A little opening was left
to admit the air; and Caroline peeped into it every moment to see how
they looked.  I give you leave, said Mrs. Mason, to take those birds,
because an accident has rendered them helpless; if that had not been the
case, they should not have been confined.

They had scarcely reached the next field, when they met another boy with
a nest in his hand, and on a tree near him saw the mother, who,
forgetting her natural timidity, followed the spoiler; and her
intelligible tones of anguish reached the ears of the children, whose
hearts now first felt the emotions of humanity.  Caroline called him, and
taking sixpence out of her little purse, offered to give it to him for
the nest, if he would shew her where he had taken it from.  The boy
consented, and away ran Caroline to replace it,—crying all the way, how
delighted the old bird will be to find her brood again.  The pleasure
that the parent-bird would feel was talked of till they came to a large
common, and heard some young asses, at the door of an hovel, making a
most dreadful noise.  Mrs. Mason had ordered the old ones to be confined,
lest the young should suck before the necessary quantity had been saved
for some sick people in her neighbourhood.  But after they had given the
usual quantity of milk, the thoughtless boy had left them still in
confinement, and the young in vain implored the food nature designed for
their particular support.  Open the hatch, said Mrs. Mason, the mothers
have still enough left to satisfy their young.  It was opened, and they
saw them suck.

Now, said she, we will return to breakfast; give me your hands, my little
girls, you have done good this morning, you have acted like rational
creatures.  Look, what a fine morning it is.  Insects, birds, and
animals, are all enjoying this sweet day.  Thank God for permitting you
to see it, and for giving you an understanding which teaches you that you
ought, by doing good, to imitate Him.  Other creatures only think of
supporting themselves; but man is allowed to ennoble his nature, by
cultivating his mind and enlarging his heart.  He feels disinterested
love; every part of the creation affords an exercise for virtue, and
virtue is ever the truest source of pleasure.


The treatment of animals.—The difference between them and man.—Parental
affection of a dog.—Brutality punished.

After breakfast, Mrs. Mason gave the children _Mrs. Trimmer’s Fabulous
Histories_; and the subject still turned on animals, and the wanton
cruelty of those who treated them improperly.  The little girls were
eager to express their detestation, and requested that in future they
might be allowed to feed the chickens.  Mrs. Mason complied with their
request; only one condition was annexed to the permission, that they did
it regularly.  When you wait for your food, you learn patience, she
added, and you can mention your wants; but those helpless creatures
cannot complain.  The country people frequently say,—How can you treat a
poor dumb beast ill; and a stress is very properly laid on the word
dumb;—for dumb they appear to those who do not observe their looks and
gestures; but God, who takes care of every thing, understands their
language; and so did Caroline this morning, when she ran with such
eagerness to re-place the nest which the thoughtless boy had stolen,
heedless of the mother’s agonizing cries!

Mary interrupted her, to ask, if insects and animals were not inferior to
men; Certainly, answered Mrs. Mason; and men are inferior to angels; yet
we have reason to believe, that those exalted beings delight to do us
good.  You have heard in a book, which I seldom permit you to read,
because you are not of an age to understand it, that angels, when they
sang glory to God on high, wished for peace on earth, as a proof of the
good will they felt towards men.  And all the glad tidings that have been
sent to men, angels have proclaimed: indeed, the word angel signifies a
messenger.  In order to please God, and our happiness depends upon
pleasing him, we must do good.  What we call virtue, may be thus
explained:—we exercise every benevolent affection to enjoy comfort here,
and to fit ourselves to be angels hereafter.  And when we have acquired
human virtues, we shall have a nobler employment in our Father’s kingdom.
But between angels and men a much greater resemblance subsists, than
between men and the brute creation; because the two former seem capable
of improvement.

The birds you saw to-day do not improve—or their improvement only tends
to self-preservation; the first nest they make and the last are exactly
the same; though in their flights they must see many others more
beautiful if not more convenient, and, had they reason, they would
probably shew something like individual taste in the form of their
dwellings; but this is not the case.  You saw the hen tear the down from
her breast to make a nest for her eggs; you saw her beat the grain with
her bill, and not swallow a bit, till the young were satisfied; and
afterwards she covered them with her wings, and seemed perfectly happy,
while she watched over her charge; if any one approached, she was ready
to defend them, at the hazard of her life: yet, a fortnight hence, you
will see the same hen drive the fledged chickens from the corn, and
forget the fondness that seemed to be stronger than the first impulse of

Animals have not the affections which arise from reason, nor can they do
good, or acquire virtue.  Every affection, and impulse, which I have
observed in them, are like our inferior emotions, which do not depend
entirely on our will, but are involuntary; they seem to have been
implanted to preserve the species, and make the individual grateful for
actual kindness.  If you caress and feed them, they will love you, as
children do, without knowing why; but we neither see imagination nor
wisdom in them; and, what principally exalts man, friendship and
devotion, they seem incapable of forming the least idea of.  Friendship
is founded on knowledge and virtue, and these are human acquirements; and
devotion is a preparation for eternity; because when we pray to God, we
offer an affront to him, if we do not strive to imitate the perfections
He displays every where for our imitation, that we may grow better and

The children eagerly enquired in what manner they were to behave, to
prove that they were superior to animals?  The answer was short,—be
tender-hearted; and let your superior endowments ward off the evils which
they cannot foresee.  It is only to animals that children _can_ do good,
men are their superiors.  When I was a child, added their tender friend,
I always made it my study and delight, to feed all the dumb family that
surrounded our house; and when I could be of use to any one of them I was
happy.  This employment humanized my heart, while, like wax, it took
every impression; and Providence has since made me an instrument of
good—I have been useful to my fellow-creatures.  I, who never wantonly
trod on an insect, or disregarded the plaint of the speechless beast, can
now give bread to the hungry, physic to the sick, comfort to the
afflicted, and, above all, am preparing you, who are to live for ever, to
be fit for the society of angels, and good men made perfect.  This world,
I told you, was a road to a better—a preparation for it; if we suffer, we
grow humbler and wiser: but animals have not this advantage, and man
should not prevent their enjoying all the happiness of which they are

A she-cat or dog have such strong parental affection, that if you take
away their young, it almost kills them; some have actually died of grief
when all have been taken away; though they do not seem to miss the
greatest part.

A bitch had once all her litter stolen from her, and drowned in a
neighbouring brook: she sought them out, and brought them one by one,
laid them at the feet of her cruel master;—and looking wistfully at them
for some time, in dumb anguish, turning her eyes on the destroyer, she

I myself knew a man who had hardened his heart to such a degree, that he
found pleasure in tormenting every creature whom he had any power over.
I saw him let two guinea-pigs roll down sloping tiles, to see if the fall
would kill them.  And were they killed? cried Caroline.  Certainly; and
it is well they were, or he would have found some other mode of torment.
When he became a father, he not only neglected to educate his children,
and set them a good example, but he taught them to be cruel while he
tormented them: the consequence was, that they neglected him when he was
old and feeble; and he died in a ditch.

You may now go and feed your birds, and tie some of the straggling
flowers round the garden sticks.  After dinner, if the weather continues
fine, we will walk to the wood, and I will shew you the hole in the
lime-stone mountain (a mountain whose bowels, as we call them, are
lime-stones) in which poor crazy Robin and his dog lived.


The treatment of animals.—The story of crazy Robin.—The man confined in
the Bastille.

In the afternoon the children bounded over the short grass of the common,
and walked under the shadow of the mountain till they came to a craggy
part; where a stream broke out, and ran down the declivity, struggling
with the huge stones which impeded its progress, and occasioned a noise
that did not unpleasantly interrupt the solemn silence of the place.  The
brook was soon lost in a neighbouring wood, and the children turned their
eyes to the broken side of the mountain, over which ivy grew in great
profusion.  Mrs. Mason pointed out a little cave, and desired them to sit
down on some stumps of trees, whilst she related the promised story.

In yonder cave once lived a poor man, who generally went by the name of
crazy Robin.  In his youth he was very industrious, and married my
father’s dairy-maid; a girl deserving of such a good husband.  For some
time they continued to live very comfortably; their daily labour procured
their daily bread; but Robin, finding it was likely he should have a
large family, borrowed a trifle, to add to the small pittance which they
had saved in service, and took a little farm in a neighbouring county.  I
was then a child.

Ten or twelve years after, I heard that a crazy man, who appeared very
harmless, had piled by the side of the brook a great number of stones; he
would wade into the river for them, followed by a cur dog, whom he would
frequently call his Jacky, and even his Nancy; and then mumble to
himself,—thou wilt not leave me—we will dwell with the owls in the ivy.—A
number of owls had taken shelter in it.  The stones which he waded for he
carried to the mouth of the hole, and only just left room enough to creep
in.  Some of the neighbours at last recollected his face; and I sent to
enquire what misfortune had reduced him to such a deplorable state.

The information I received from different persons, I will communicate to
you in as few words as I can.

Several of his children died in their infancy; and, two years before he
came to his native place, one misfortune had followed another till he had
sunk under their accumulated weight.  Through various accidents he was
long in arrears to his landlord; who, seeing that he was an honest man,
who endeavoured to bring up his family, did not distress him; but when
his wife was lying-in of her last child, the landlord dying, his heir
sent and seized the stock for the rent; and the person from whom he had
borrowed some money, exasperated to see all gone, arresting him
immediately, he was hurried to gaol, without being able to leave any
money for his family.  The poor woman could not see them starve, and
trying to support her children before she had gained sufficient strength,
she caught cold; and through neglect, and her want of proper nourishment,
her illness turned to a putrid fever; which two of the children caught
from her, and died with her.  The two who were left, Jacky and Nancy,
went to their father, and took with them a cur dog, that had long shared
their frugal meals.

The children begged in the day, and at night slept with their wretched
father.  Poverty and dirt soon robbed their cheeks of the roses which the
country air made bloom with a peculiar freshness; so that they soon
caught a jail fever,—and died.  The poor father, who was now bereft of
all his children, hung over their bed in speechless anguish; not a groan
or a tear escaped from him, whilst he stood, two or three hours, in the
same attitude, looking at the dead bodies of his little darlings.  The
dog licked his hands, and strove to attract his attention; but for awhile
he seemed not to observe his caresses; when he did, he said, mournfully,
thou wilt not leave me—and then he began to laugh.  The bodies were
removed; and he remained in an unsettled state, often frantic; at length
the phrenzy subsided, and he grew melancholy and harmless.  He was not
then so closely watched; and one day he contrived to make his escape, the
dog followed him, and came directly to his native village.

After I had received this account, I determined he should live in the
place he had chosen, undisturbed.  I sent some conveniences, all of which
he rejected, except a mat; on which he sometimes slept—the dog always
did.  I tried to induce him to eat, but he constantly gave the dog
whatever I sent him, and lived on haws and blackberries, and every kind
of trash.  I used to call frequently on him; and he sometimes followed me
to the house I now live in, and in winter he would come of his own
accord, and take a crust of bread.  He gathered water-cresses out of the
pool, and would bring them to me, with nosegays of wild thyme, which he
plucked from the sides of the mountain.  I mentioned before, that the dog
was a cur.  It had, indeed, the bad trick of a cur, and would run barking
after horses heels.  One day, when his master was gathering
water-cresses, the dog running after a young gentleman’s horse, made it
start, and almost threw the rider; who grew so angry, that though he knew
it was the poor madman’s dog, he levelled his gun at his head—shot
him,—and instantly rode off.  Robin ran to his dog,—he looked at his
wounds, and not sensible that he was dead, called to him to follow him;
but when he found that he could not, he took him to the pool, and washed
off the blood before it began to clot, and then brought him home, and
laid him on the mat.

I observed that I had not seen him pacing up the hills as usual, and sent
to enquire about him.  He was found sitting by the dog, and no entreaties
could prevail on him to quit the body, or receive any refreshment.  I
instantly set off for this place, hoping, as I had always been a
favourite, that I should be able to persuade him to eat something.  But
when I came to him, I found the hand of death was upon him.  He was still
melancholy; yet there was not such a mixture of wildness in it as
formerly.  I pressed him to take some food; but, instead of answering me,
or turning away, he burst into tears,—a thing I had never seen him do
before, and, sobbing, he said, Will any one be kind to me!—you will kill
me!—I saw not my wife die—No!—they dragged me from her—but I saw Jacky
and Nancy die—and who pitied me?—but my dog!  He turned his eyes to the
body—I wept with him.  He would then have taken some nourishment, but
nature was exhausted—and he expired.

Was that the cave? said Mary.  They ran to it.  Poor Robin!  Did you ever
hear of any thing so cruel?  Yes, answered Mrs. Mason; and as we walk
home I will relate an instance of still greater barbarity.

I told you, that Robin was confined in a jail.  In France they have a
dreadful one, called the Bastille.  The poor wretches who are confined in
it live entirely alone; have not the pleasure of seeing men or animals;
nor are they allowed books.—They live in comfortless solitude.  Some have
amused themselves by making figures on the wall; and others have laid
straws in rows.  One miserable captive found a spider; he nourished it
for two or three years; it grew tame, and partook of his lonely meal.
The keeper observed it, and mentioned the circumstance to a superiour,
who ordered him to crush it.  In vain did the man beg to have his spider
spared.  You find, Mary, that the nasty creature which you despised was a
comfort in solitude.  The keeper obeyed the cruel command; and the
unhappy wretch felt more pain when he heard the crush, than he had ever
experienced during his long confinement.  He looked round a dreary
apartment, and the small portion of light which the grated bars admitted,
only served to shew him, that he breathed where nothing else drew breath.


Anger.—History of Jane Fretful.

A few days after these walks and conversations, Mrs. Mason heard a great
noise in the play-room.  She ran hastily to enquire the cause, and found
the children crying, and near them, one of the young birds lying on the
floor dead.  With great eagerness each of them tried, the moment she
entered, to exculpate herself, and prove that the other had killed the
bird.  Mrs. Mason commanded them to be silent; and, at the same time,
called an orphan whom she had educated, and desired her to take care of
the nest.

The cause of the dispute was easily gathered from what they both let
fall.  They had contested which had the best right to feed the birds.
Mary insisted that she had a right, because she was the eldest; and
Caroline, because she took the nest.  Snatching it from one side of the
room to the other, the bird fell, and was trodden on before they were

When they were a little composed, Mrs. Mason calmly thus addressed
them:—I perceive that you are ashamed of your behaviour, and sorry for
the consequence; I will not therefore severely reprove you, nor add
bitterness to the self-reproach you must both feel,—because I pity you.
You are now inferiour to the animals that graze on the common; reason
only serves to render your folly more conspicuous and inexcusable.
Anger, is a little despicable vice: its selfish emotions banish
compassion, and undermine every virtue.  It is easy to conquer another;
but noble to subdue oneself.  Had you, Mary, given way to your sister’s
humour, you would have proved that you were not only older, but wiser
than her.  And you, Caroline, would have saved your charge, if you had,
for the time, waved your right.

It is always a proof of superiour sense to bear with slight
inconveniences, and even trifling injuries, without complaining or
contesting about them.  The soul reserves its firmness for great
occasions, and then it acts a decided part.  It is just the contrary mode
of thinking, and the conduct produced by it, which occasions all those
trivial disputes that slowly corrode domestic peace, and insensibly
destroy what great misfortunes could not sweep away.

I will tell you a story, that will take stronger hold on your memory than
mere remarks.

Jane Fretful was an only child.  Her fond weak mother would not allow her
to be contradicted on any occasion.  The child had some tenderness of
heart; but so accustomed was she to see every thing give way to her
humour, that she imagined the world was only made for her.  If any of her
playfellows had toys, that struck her capricious sickly fancy, she would
cry for them; and substitutes were in vain offered to quiet her, she must
have the identical ones, or fly into the most violent passion.  When she
was an infant, if she fell down, her nurse made her beat the floor.  She
continued the practice afterwards, and when she was angry would kick the
chairs and tables, or any senseless piece of furniture, if they came in
her way.  I have seen her throw her cap into the fire, because some of
her acquaintance had a prettier.

Continual passions weakened her constitution; beside, she would not eat
the common wholesome food that children, who are subject to the small-pox
and worms, ought to eat, and which is necessary when they grow so fast,
to make them strong and handsome.  Instead of being a comfort to her
tender, though mistaken, mother, she was her greatest torment.  The
servants all disliked her; she loved no one but herself; and the
consequence was, she never inspired love; even the pity good-natured
people felt, was nearly allied to contempt.

A lady, who visited her mother, brought with her one day a pretty little
dog.  Jane was delighted with it; and the lady, with great reluctance,
parted with it to oblige her friend.  For some time she fondled, and
really felt something like an affection for it: but, one day, it happened
to snatch a cake she was going to eat, and though there were twenty
within reach, she flew into a violent passion, and threw a stool at the
poor creature, who was big with pup.  It fell down; I can scarcely tell
the rest; it received so severe a blow, that all the young were killed,
and the poor wretch languished two days, suffering the most excruciating

Jane Fretful, who was now angry with herself, sat all the time holding
it, and every look the miserable animal gave her, stung her to the heart.
After its death she was very unhappy; but did not try to conquer her
temper.  All the blessings of life were thrown away on her; and, without
any real misfortune, she was continually miserable.

If she had planned a party of pleasure, and the weather proved
unfavourable, the whole day was spent in fruitless repining, or venting
her ill-humour on those who depended on her.  If no disappointment of
that kind occurred, she could not enjoy the promised pleasure; something
always disconcerted her; the horses went too fast, or, too slow; the
dinner was ill-dressed, or, some of the company contradicted her.

She was, when a child, very beautiful; but anger soon distorted her
regular features, and gave a forbidding fierceness to her eyes.  But if
for a moment she looked pleased, she still resembled a heap of
combustible matter, to which an accidental spark might set fire; of
course quiet people were afraid to converse with her.  And if she ever
did a good, or a humane action, her ridiculous anger soon rendered it an
intolerable burden, if it did not entirely cancel it.

At last she broke her mother’s heart, or hastened her death, by her want
of duty, and her many other faults: all proceeding from violent,
unrestrained anger.

The death of her mother, which affected her very much, left her without a
friend.  She would sometimes say, Ah! my poor mother, if you were now
alive, I would not teaze you—I would give the world to let you know that
I am sorry for what I have done: you died, thinking me ungrateful; and
lamenting that I did not die when you gave me suck.  I shall never—oh!
never see you more.

This thought, and her peevish temper, preyed on her impaired
constitution.  She had not, by doing good, prepared her soul for another
state, or cherished any hopes that could disarm death of its terrors, or
render that last sleep sweet—its approach was dreadful!—and she hastened
her end, scolding the physician for not curing her.  Her lifeless
countenance displayed the marks of convulsive anger; and she left an
ample fortune behind her to those who did not regret her loss.  They
followed her to the grave, on which no one shed a tear.  She was soon
forgotten; and I only remember her, to warn you to shun her errors.


Lying.—Honour.—Truth.—Small Duties.—History of Lady Sly, and Mrs.

The little girls were very assiduous to gain Mrs. Mason’s good opinion;
and, by the mildness of their behaviour, to prove to her that they were
ashamed of themselves.  It was one of Mrs. Mason’s rules, when they
offended her, that is, behaved improperly, to treat them civilly; but to
avoid giving them those marks of affection which they were particularly
delighted to receive.

Yesterday, said she to them, I only mentioned to you one fault, though I
observed two.  You very readily guess I mean the lie that you both told.
Nay, look up, for I wish to see you blush; and the confusion which I
perceive in your faces gives me pleasure; because it convinces me that it
is not a confirmed habit: and, indeed, my children, I should be sorry
that such a mean one had taken deep root in your infant minds.

When I speak of falsehood, I mean every kind; whatever tends to deceive,
though not said in direct terms.  Tones of voice, motions of the hand or
head, if they make another believe what they ought not to believe, are
lies, and of the worst kind; because the contrivance aggravates the
guilt.  I would much sooner forgive a lie told directly, when perhaps
fear entirely occupied the thoughts, and the presence of God was not
felt: for it is His sacred Majesty that you affront by telling an

How so? enquired Mary.

Because you hope to conceal your falsehood from every human creature:
but, if you consider a moment, you must recollect, that the Searcher of
hearts reads your very thoughts; that nothing is hid from him.

You would blush if I were to discover that you told a lie; yet wantonly
forfeit the favour of Him, from whom you have received life and all its
blessings, to screen yourselves from correction or reproof, or, what is
still worse, to purchase some trifling gratification, the pleasure of
which would last but a moment.

You heard the gentleman who visited me this morning, very frequently use
the word Honour.  Honour consists in respecting yourself; in doing as you
would be done by; and the foundation of honour is Truth.

When I can depend on the veracity of people, that is to say, am convinced
that they adhere to truth, I rely on them; am certain they have courage,
because I know they will bear any inconvenience rather than despise
themselves, for telling a lie.  Besides, it is not necessary to consider
what you intend to say, when you have done right.  Always determine, on
every occasion, to speak the truth, and you will never be at a loss for
words.  If your character for this scrupulous attention is once fixed,
your acquaintance will be courted; and those who are not particularly
pleased with you, will, at least, respect your honourable principles.  It
is impossible to form a friendship without making truth the basis; it is
indeed the essence of devotion, the employment of the understanding, and
the support of every duty.

I govern my servants, and you, by attending strictly to truth, and this
observance keeping my head clear and my heart pure, I am ever ready to
pray to the Author of good, the Fountain of truth.

While I am discussing the subject, let me point out to you another branch
of this virtue; Sincerity.—And remember that I every day set you an
example; for I never, to please for the moment, pay unmeaning
compliments, or permit any words to drop from my tongue, that my heart
does not dictate.  And when I relate any matter of fact, I carefully
avoid embellishing it, in order to render it a more entertaining story;
not that I think such a practice absolutely criminal; but as it
contributes insensibly to wear away a respect for truth, I guard against
the vain impulse, lest I should lose the chief strength, and even
ornament, of my mind, and become like a wave of the sea, drifted about by
every gust of passion.

You must in life observe the most apparently insignificant duties—the
great ones are the pillars of virtue; but the constant concurrence of
trifling things, makes it necessary that reason and conscience should
always preside, to keep the heart steady.  Many people make promises, and
appointments, which they scruple not to break, if a more inviting
pleasure occurs, not remembering that the slightest duty should be
performed before a mere amusement is pursued—for any neglect of this kind
embitters play.  Nothing, believe me, can long be pleasant, that is not

As I usually endeavour to recollect some persons of my acquaintance, who
have suffered by the faults, or follies, I wish you to avoid; I will
describe two characters, that will, if I mistake not, very strongly
enforce what I have been saying.

Last week you saw Lady Sly, who came to pay me a morning visit.  Did you
ever see such a fine carriage, or such beautiful horses?  How they pawed
the ground, and displayed their rich harnesses!  Her servants wore
elegant liveries, and her own clothes suited the equipage.  Her house is
equal to her carriage; the rooms are lofty, and hung with silk; noble
glasses and pictures adorn them: and the pleasure-grounds are large and
well laid out; beside the trees and shrubs, they contain a variety of
summer-houses and temples, as they are called.—Yet my young friends, this
is _state_, not _dignity_.

This woman has a little soul, she never attended to truth, and obtaining
great part of her fortune by falsehood, it has blighted all her
enjoyments.  She inhabits that superb house, wears the gayest clothes,
and rides in that beautiful carriage, without feeling pleasure.
Suspicion, and the cares it has given birth to, have wrinkled her
countenance, and banished every trace of beauty, which paint in vain
endeavours to repair.  Her suspicious temper arises from a knowledge of
her own heart, and the want of rational employments.

She imagines that every person she converses with means to deceive her;
and when she leaves a company, supposes all the ill they may say of her,
because she recollects her own practice.  She listens about her house,
expecting to discover the designs of her servants, none of whom she can
trust; and in consequence of this anxiety her sleep is unsound, and her
food tasteless.  She walks in her paradise of a garden, and smells not
the flowers, nor do the birds inspire her with cheerfulness.—These
pleasures are true and simple, they lead to the love of God, and all the
creatures whom He hath made—and cannot warm a heart which a malicious
story can please.

She cannot pray to God;—He hates a liar!  She is neglected by her
husband, whose only motive for marrying her was to clear an incumbered
estate.  Her son, her only child, is undutiful; the poor never have cause
to bless her; nor does she contribute to the happiness of any human

To kill time, and drive away the pangs of remorse, she goes from one
house to another, collecting and propagating scandalous tales, to bring
others on a level with herself.  Even those who resemble her are afraid
of her; she lives alone in the world, its good things are poisoned by her
vices, and neither inspire joy nor gratitude.

Before I tell you how she acquired these vicious habits, and enlarged her
fortune by disregarding truth, I must desire you to think of Mrs.
Trueman, the curate’s wife, who lives in yonder white house, close to the
church; it is a small one, yet the woodbines and jessamins that twine
about the windows give it a pretty appearance.  Her voice is sweet, her
manners not only easy, but elegant; and her simple dress makes her person
appear to the greatest advantage.

She walks to visit me, and her little ones hang on her hands, and cling
to her clothes, they are so fond of her.  If any thing terrifies them,
they run under her apron, and she looks like the hen taking care of her
young brood.  The domestic animals play with the children, finding her a
mild attentive mistress; and out of her scanty fortune she contrives to
feed and clothe many a hungry shivering wretch; who bless her as she
passes along.

Though she has not any outward decorations, she appears superior to her
neighbours, who call her the _Gentlewoman_; indeed every gesture shews an
accomplished and dignified mind, that relies on itself; when deprived of
the fortune which contributed to polish and give it consequence.

Drawings, the amusement of her youth, ornament her neat parlour; some
musical instruments stand in one corner; for she plays with taste, and
sings sweetly.

All the furniture, not forgetting a book-case, full of well-chosen books,
speak the refinement of the owner, and the pleasures a cultivated mind
has within its own grasp, independent of prosperity.

Her husband, a man of taste and learning, reads to her, while she makes
clothes for her children, whom she teaches in the tenderest, and most
persuasive manner, important truths and elegant accomplishments.

When you have behaved well for some time you shall visit her, and ramble
in her little garden; there are several pretty seats in it, and the
nightingales warble their sweetest songs, undisturbed, in the shade.

I have now given you an account of the present situation of both, and of
their characters; listen to me whilst I relate in what manner these
characters were formed, and the consequence of each adhering to a
different mode of conduct.

Lady Sly, when she was a child, used to say pert things, which the
injudicious people about her laughed at, and called very witty.  Finding
that her prattle pleased, she talked incessantly, and invented stories,
when adding to those that had some foundation, was not sufficient to
entertain the company.  If she stole sweetmeats, or broke any thing, the
cat, or the dog, was blamed, and the poor animals were corrected for her
faults; nay, sometimes the servants lost their places in consequence of
her assertions.  Her parents died and left her a large fortune, and an
aunt, who had a still larger, adopted her.

Mrs. Trueman, her cousin, was, some years after, adopted by the same
lady; but her parents could not leave their estate to her, as it
descended to the male heir.  She had received the most liberal education,
and was in every respect the reverse of her cousin; who envied her merit,
and could not bear to think of her dividing the fortune which she had
long expected to inherit entirely herself.  She therefore practised every
mean art to prejudice her aunt against her, and succeeded.

A faithful old servant endeavoured to open her mistress’s eyes; but the
cunning niece contrived to invent the most infamous story of the old
domestic, who was in consequence of it dismissed.  Mrs. Trueman supported
her, when she could not succeed in vindicating her, and suffered for her
generosity; for her aunt dying soon after, left only five hundred pounds
to this amiable woman, and fifty thousand to Lady Sly.

They both of them married shortly after.  One, the profligate Lord Sly,
and the other a respectable clergyman, who had been disappointed in his
hopes of preferment.  This last couple, in spite of their mutual
disappointments, are contented with their lot; and are preparing
themselves and children for another world, where truth, virtue and
happiness dwell together.

For believe me, whatever happiness we attain in this life, must faintly
resemble what God Himself enjoys, whose truth and goodness produce a
sublime degree, such as we cannot conceive, it is so far above our
limited capacities.

I did not intend to detain you so long, said Mrs. Mason; have you
finished _Mrs. Trimmer’s Fabulous Histories_?  Indeed we have, answered
Caroline, mournfully, and I was very sorry to come to the end.  I never
read such a pretty book; may I read it over again to Mrs. Trueman’s
little Fanny?  Certainly, said Mrs. Mason, if you can make her understand
that birds never talk.  Go and run about the garden, and remember the
next lie I detect, I shall punish; because lying is a vice;—and I ought
to punish you if you are guilty of it, to prevent your feeling Lady Sly’s


Anger.—Folly produces Self-contempt, and the Neglect of others.

Mrs. Mason had a number of visitors one afternoon, who conversed in the
usual thoughtless manner which people often fall into who do not consider
before they speak; they talked of Caroline’s beauty, and she gave herself
many affected airs to make it appear to the best advantage.  But Mary,
who had not a face to be proud of, was observing some peculiarities in
the dress or manners of the guests; and one very respectable old lady,
who had lost her teeth, afforded her more diversion than any of the rest.

The children went to bed without being reproved, though Mrs. Mason, when
she dismissed them, said gravely, I give you to-night a kiss of peace, an
affectionate one you have not deserved.  They therefore discovered by her
behaviour that they had done wrong, and waited for an explanation to
regain her favour.

She was never in a passion, but her quiet steady displeasure made them
feel so little in their own eyes, they wished her to smile that they
might be something; for all their consequence seemed to arise from her
approbation.  I declare, said Caroline, I do not know what I have done,
and yet I am sure I never knew Mrs. Mason find fault without convincing
me that I had done wrong.  Did you, Mary, ever see her in a passion?  No,
said Mary, I do believe that she was never angry in her life; when John
threw down all the china, and stood trembling, she was the first to say
that the carpet made him stumble.  Yes, now I do remember, when we first
came to her house, John forgot to bring the cow and her young calf into
the cow-house; I heard her bid him do it directly, and the poor calf was
almost frozen to death—she spoke then in a hurry, and seemed angry.  Now
you mention it, I do recollect, replied Caroline, that she was angry,
when Betty did not carry the poor sick woman the broth she ordered her to
take to her.  But this is not like the passion I used to see nurse in,
when any thing vexed her.  She would scold us, and beat the girl who
waited on her.  Poor little Jenny, many a time was she beaten, when we
vexed nurse; I would tell her she was  to blame now if I saw her—and
I would not tease her any more.

I declare I cannot go to sleep, said Mary, I am afraid of Mrs. Mason’s
eyes—would you think, Caroline, that she who looks so very good-natured
sometimes, could frighten one so?  I wish I were as wise and as good as
she is.  The poor woman with the six children, whom we met on the common,
said she was an angel, and that she had saved her’s and her children’s
lives.  My heart is in my mouth, indeed, replied Caroline, when I think
of to-morrow morning, and yet I am much happier than I was when we were
at home.  I cried, I cannot now tell for what, all day; I never wished to
be good—nobody told me what it was to be good.  I wish to be a woman,
said Mary, and to be like Mrs. Mason, or Mrs. Trueman,—we are to go to
see her if we behave well.

Sleep soon over-powered them, and they forgot their apprehensions.  In
the morning they awoke refreshed, and took care to learn their lessons,
and feed the chickens, before Mrs. Mason left her chamber.


Virtue the Soul of Beauty.—The Tulip and the Rose.—The
Nightingale.—External Ornaments.—Characters.

The next morning Mrs. Mason met them first in the garden; and she desired
Caroline to look at a bed of tulips, that were then in their highest
state of perfection.  I, added she, choose to have every kind of flower
in my garden, as the succession enables me to vary my daily prospect, and
gives it the charm of variety; yet these tulips afford me less pleasure
than most of the other sort which I cultivate—and I will tell you
why—they are only beautiful.  Listen to my distinction;—good features,
and a fine complexion, I term _bodily_ beauty.  Like the streaks in the
tulip, they please the eye for a moment; but this uniformity soon tires,
and the active mind flies off to something else.  The soul of beauty, my
dear children, consists in the body gracefully exhibiting the emotions
and variations of the informing mind.  If truth, humanity, and knowledge
inhabit the breast, the eyes will beam with a mild lustre, modesty will
suffuse the cheeks, and smiles of innocent joy play over all the
features.  At first sight, regularity and colour will attract, and have
the advantage, because the hidden springs are not directly set in motion;
but when internal goodness is reflected, every other kind of beauty, the
shadow of it, withers away before it—as the sun obscures a lamp.

You are certainly handsome, Caroline; I mean, have good features; but you
must improve your mind to give them a pleasing expression, or they will
only serve to lead your understanding astray.  I have seen some foolish
people take great pains to decorate the outside of their houses, to
attract the notice of strangers, who gazed, and passed on; whilst the
inside, where they received their friends, was dark and inconvenient.
Apply this observation to mere personal attractions.  They may, it is
true, for a few years, charm the superficial part of your acquaintance,
whose notions of beauty are not built on any principle of utility.  Such
persons might look at you, as they would glance their eye over these
tulips, and feel for a moment the same pleasure that a view of the
variegated rays of light would convey to an uninformed mind.  The lower
class of mankind, and children, are fond of finery; gaudy, dazzling
appearances catch their attention; but the discriminating judgment of a
person of sense requires, besides colour, order, proportion, grace and
usefulness, to render the idea of beauty complete.

Observe that rose, it has all the perfections I speak of; colour, grace,
and sweetness—and even when the fine tints fade, the smell is grateful to
those who have before contemplated its beauties.  I have only one bed of
tulips, though my garden is large, but, in every part of it, roses
attract the eye.

You have seen Mrs. Trueman, and think her a very fine woman; yet her skin
and complexion have only the clearness that temperance gives; and her
features, strictly speaking, are not regular: Betty, the housemaid, has,
in both these respects, much the superiority over her.  But, though it is
not easy to define in what her beauty consists, the eye follows her
whenever she moves; and every person of taste listens for the modulated
sounds which proceed out of her mouth, to be improved and pleased.  It is
conscious worth, _truth_, that gives dignity to her walk, and simple
elegance to her conversation.  She has, indeed, a most excellent
understanding, and a feeling heart; sagacity and tenderness, the result
of both, are happily blended in her countenance; and taste is the polish,
which makes them appear to the best advantage.  She is more than
beautiful; and you see her varied excellencies again and again, with
increasing pleasure.  They are not obtruded on you, for knowledge has
taught her true humility: she is not like the flaunting tulip, that
forces itself forward into notice; but resembles the modest rose, you see
yonder, retiring under its elegant foliage.

I have mentioned flowers—the same order is observed in the higher
departments of nature.  Think of the birds; those that sing best have not
the finest plumage; indeed just the contrary; God divides His gifts, and
amongst the feathered race the nightingale (sweetest of warblers, who
pours forth her varied strain when sober eve comes on) you would seek in
vain in the morning, if you expected that beautiful feathers should point
out the songstress: many who incessantly twitter, and are only tolerable
in the general concert, would surpass her, and attract your attention.

I knew, some time before you were born, a very fine, a very handsome
girl; I saw she had abilities, and I saw with pain that she attended to
the most obvious, but least valuable gift of heaven.  Her ingenuity
slept, whilst she tried to render her person more alluring.  At last she
caught the small-pox—her beauty vanished, and she was for a time
miserable; but the natural vivacity of youth overcame her unpleasant
feelings.  In consequence of the disorder, her eyes became so weak that
she was obliged to sit in a dark room.  To beguile the tedious day she
applied to music, and made a surprising proficiency.  She even began to
think, in her retirement, and when she recovered her sight grew fond of

Large companies did not now amuse her, she was no longer the object of
admiration, or if she was taken notice of, it was to be pitied, to hear
her former self praised, and to hear them lament the depredation that
dreadful disease had made in a fine face.  Not expecting or wishing to be
observed, she lost her affected airs, and attended to the conversation,
in which she was soon able to bear a part.  In short, the desire of
pleasing took a different turn, and as she improved her mind, she
discovered that virtue, internal beauty, was valuable on its own account,
and not like that of the person, which resembles a toy, that pleases the
observer, but does not render the possessor happy.

She found, that in acquiring knowledge, her mind grew tranquil, and the
noble desire of acting conformably to the will of God succeeded, and
drove out the immoderate vanity which before actuated her, when her
equals were the objects she thought most of, and whose approbation she
sought with such eagerness.  And what had she sought?  To be stared at
and called handsome.  Her beauty, the mere sight of it, did not make
others good, or comfort the afflicted; but after she had lost it, she was
comfortable herself, and set her friends the most useful example.

The money that she had formerly appropriated to ornament her person, now
clothed the naked; yet she really appeared better dressed, as she had
acquired the habit of employing her time to the best advantage, and could
make many things herself.  Besides, she did not implicitly follow the
reigning fashion, for she had learned to distinguish, and in the most
trivial matters acted according to the dictates of good sense.

The children made some comments on this story, but the entrance of a
visitor interrupted the conversation, and they ran about the garden,
comparing the roses and tulips.


Summer Evening’s Amusement.—The Arrival of a Family of
Haymakers.—Ridicule of personal Defects censured.—A Storm.—The Fear of
Death.—The Cottage of honest Jack, the shipwrecked Sailor.—The History of
Jack, and his faithful Dog Pompey.

The evening was pleasant; Mrs. Mason and the children walked out; and
many rustic noises struck their ears.  Some bells in a neighbouring
village, softened by the distance, sounded pleasingly; the beetles
hummed, and the children pursued them, not to destroy them; but to
observe their form, and ask questions concerning their mode of living.
Sheep were bleating and cattle lowing, the rivulet near them babbled
along, while the sound of the distant ocean died away on the ear—or they
forgot it, listening to the whistling of the hay-makers, who were
returning from the field.  They met a whole family who came every year
from another county where they could not find constant employment, and
Mrs. Mason allowed them to sleep in her barn.  The little ones knew their
benefactress, and tried to catch a smile; and she was ever ready to smile
on those whom she obliged; for she loved all her fellow creatures, and
love lightens obligations.  Besides, she thought that the poor who are
willing to work, had a right to the comforts of life.

A few moments after, they met a deformed woman; the children stared her
almost out of countenance; but Mrs. Mason turned her head another way,
and when the poor object was out of hearing, said to Mary, I intended to
reprove you this morning for a fault which I have frequently seen you
commit; and this moment and the other evening it was particularly
conspicuous.  When that deformed woman passed us, I involuntarily looked
at something else, and would not let her perceive that she was a
disgusting figure, and attracted notice on that account.  I say I did it
involuntarily, for I have accustomed myself to think of others, and what
they will suffer on all occasions: and this lothness to offend, or even
to hurt the feelings of another, is an instantaneous spring which
actuates my conduct, and makes me kindly affected to every thing that
breathes.  If I then am so careful not to wound a stranger, what shall I
think of your behaviour, Mary? when you laughed at a respectable old
woman, who beside her virtues and her age, had been particularly civil to
you.  I have always seen persons of the weakest understandings, and whose
hearts benevolence seldom touched, ridicule bodily infirmities, and
accidental defects.  They could only relish the inferiour kind of beauty,
which I described this morning, and a silly joy has elated their empty
souls, on finding, by comparison, that they were superiour to others in
that respect, though the conclusion was erroneous, for merit, mental
acquirements, can only give a just claim to superiority.  Had you
possessed the smallest portion of discernment, you would soon have
forgotten the tones, loss of teeth made drawling, in listening to the
chearful good sense which that worthy woman’s words conveyed.  You
laughed, because you were ignorant, and I now excuse you; but some years
hence, if I were to see you in company, with such a propensity, I should
still think you a child, an overgrown one, whose mind did not expand as
the body grew.

The sky began to thicken, and the lowing of the cattle to have a
melancholy cadence; the nightingale forgot her song, and fled to her
nest; and the sea roared and lashed the rocks.  During the calm which
portended an approaching storm, every creature was running for
shelter.—We must, if possible, said Mrs. Mason, reach yon cottage on the
cliff, for we shall soon have a violent thunder-storm.  They quickened
their pace, but the hurricane overtook them.  The hail-stones fell, the
clouds seemed to open and disclose the lightning, while loud peals of
thunder shook the ground; the wind also in violent gusts rushed among the
trees, tore off the slender branches and loosened the roots.

The children were terrified; but Mrs. Mason gave them each a hand, and
chatted with them to dispel their fears.  She informed them that storms
were necessary to dissipate noxious vapours, and to answer many other
purposes, which were not, perhaps, obvious to our weak understandings.
But are you not afraid? cried the trembling Caroline.  No, certainly, I
am not afraid.—I walk with the same security as when the sun enlivened
the prospect—God is still present, and we are safe.  Should the flash
that passes by us, strike me dead, it cannot hurt me, I fear not death!—I
only fear that Being who can render death terrible, on whose providence I
calmly rest; and my confidence earthly sorrows cannot destroy.  A mind is
never truly great, till the love of virtue overcomes the fear of death.

By this time they had mounted the cliff, and saw the tumultuous deep.
The angry billows rose, and dashed against the shore; and the loud noise
of the raging sea resounded from rock to rock.

They ran into the cottage; the poor woman who lived in it, sent her
children for wood, and soon made a good fire to dry them.

The father of the family soon after came in, leaning on crutches; and
over one eye there was a large patch.  I am glad to see you honest Jack,
said Mrs. Mason, come and take your seat by the fire, and tell the
children the story of your shipwreck.

He instantly complied.  I was very young, my dear ladies, said Jack, when
I went to sea, and endured many hardships,—however I made a shift to
weather them all; and whether the wind was fair or foul, I ran up the
shrouds and sung at the helm.  I had always a good heart, no lad fore or
aft had a better; when we were at sea, I never was the first to flinch;
and on shore I was as merry as the best of them.  I married she you see
yonder, (lifting his crutch to point to his wife) and her work and my
wages did together, till I was shipwrecked on these rocks.  Oh! it was a
dreadful night; this is nothing to it; but I am getting to the end of my
story before I begin it.

During the war, I went once or twice to New York.  The last was a good
voyage, and we were all returning with joy to dear England, when the
storm rose; the vessel was like a bird, it flew up and down, and several
of our best hands were washed clean overboard—My poor captain! a better
never plowed the ocean, he fell overboard too, and it was some time
before we missed him; for it was quite dark, except that flashes of
lightning, now and then, gave us light.  I was at the helm, lashing it to
the side of the ship—a dreadful flash came across me, and I lost one of
my precious eyes.—But thank God I have one left.

The weather cleared up next day, and, though we had been finely mauled, I
began to hope, for I hate to be faint-hearted, and certainly we should
have got into the channel very soon, if we had not fell in with a French
man of war, which took us; for we could not make any resistance.

I had a dog, poor Pompey! with me.  Pompey would not leave me, he was as
fond of me as if he had been a christian.  I had lost one eye by the
lightning, the other had been sore, so that I could hardly call it a
peep-hole.  Somehow I fell down the hatchway, and bruised one of my legs;
but I did not mind it, do ye see, till we arrived at Brest and were
thrown into a French Prison.

There I was worse off than ever; the room we were all stowed in, was full
of vermin, and our food very bad; mouldy biscuits, and salt fish.  The
prison was choke full, and many a morning did we find some honest fellow
with his chops fallen—he was not to be waked any more!—he was gone to the
other country, do ye see.

Yet the French have not such hard hearts as people say they have!
Several women brought us broth, and wine; and one gave me some rags to
wrap round my leg, it was very painful, I could not clean it, nor had I
any plaister.  One day I was looking sorrowfully at it, thinking for
certain I should lose my precious limb; when, would you believe it?
Pompey saw what I was thinking about, and began to lick it.—And, I never
knew such a surprizing thing, it grew better and better every day, and at
last was healed without any plaister.

                   [Picture: Indeed we are very happy!]

After that I was very sick, and the same tender-hearted creature who gave
me the rags, took me to her house; and fresh air soon recovered me.  I
for certain ought to speak well of the French; but for their kindness I
should have been in another port by this time.  Mayhap I might have gone
with a fair wind, yet I should have been sorry to have left my poor wife
and her children.  But I am letting all my line run out!  Well,
by-and-by, there was an exchange of prisoners, and we were once more in
an English vessel, and I made sure of seeing my family again; but the
weather was still foul.  Three days and nights we were in the greatest
distress; and the fourth the ship was dashed against these rocks.  Oh! if
you had heard the crash!  The water rushed in—the men screamed, Lord have
mercy on us!  There was a woman in the ship, and, as I could swim, I
tried to save her, and Pompey followed me; but I lost him—poor fellow!  I
declare I cried like a child when I saw his dead body.  However I brought
the woman to shore; and assisted some more of my mess-mates; but,
standing in the water so long, I lost the use of my limbs—yet Heaven was
good to me; Madam, there, sent a cart for us all, and took care of us;
but I never recovered the use of my limbs.  So she asked me all about my
misfortunes, and sent for wife, who came directly, and we have lived here
ever since.  We catch fish for Madam, and watch for a storm, hoping some
time or other to be as kind to a poor perishing soul as she has been to
me.  Indeed we are very happy—I might now have been begging about the
streets, but for Madam, God bless her.

A tear strayed down Mrs. Mason’s cheek, while a smile of benevolence
lighted up her countenance—the little girls caught each hand—They were
all silent a few minutes when she, willing to turn the discourse,
enquired whether they had any fish in the house?  Some were produced,
they were quickly dressed, and they all eat together.  They had a
chearful meal, and honest Jack sung some of his seafaring songs, and did
all he could to divert them and express his gratitude.  Getting up to
reach the brown loaf, he limped very awkwardly, Mary was just beginning
to laugh, when she restrained herself; for she recollected that his
awkwardness made him truly respectable, because he had lost the use of
his limbs when he was doing good, saving the lives of his

The weather cleared up, and they returned home.  The children conversed
gaily with each other all the way home, talking of the poor sailor, and
his faithful dog.


The Inconveniences of immoderate Indulgence.

The children were allowed to help themselves to fruit, when it made a
part of their meal; and Caroline always took care to pick out the best,
or swallow what she took in a hurry, lest she should not get as much as
she wished for.  Indeed she generally eat more than her share.  She had
several times eaten more than a person ought to eat at one time, without
feeling any ill effects; but one afternoon she complained of a pain in
her stomach in consequence of it, and her pale face, and languid eyes,
plainly shewed her indisposition.  Mrs. Mason gave her an emetic, and
after the operation she was obliged to go to bed, though she had promised
herself a pleasant walk that evening.  She was left alone, for Mary was
not permitted to stay at home with her, as she offered to do.  Had her
sickness been accidental, we would both have tried to amuse her, said
Mrs. Mason; but her greediness now receiving its natural and just
punishment, she must endure it without the alleviation which pity
affords; only tell her from me, that the pleasure was but momentary,
while the pain and confinement it produced, has already lasted some

The next morning, though scarcely recovered, she got up, as usual, to
have a walk before breakfast.  During these walks, Mrs. Mason told them
stories, pointed out the wisdom of God in the creation, and took them to
visit her poor tenants.  These visits not only enabled her to form a
judgment of their wants, but made them very industrious; for they were
all anxious that she might find their houses and persons clean.  And
returning through the farmyard, Mrs. Mason stopped according to custom,
to see whether the poor animals were taken care of—this she called
earning her breakfast.  The servant was just feeding the pigs, and though
she poured a great quantity into the trough, the greedy creatures tried
to gobble it up from one another.  Caroline blushed, she saw this sight
was meant for her, and she felt ashamed of her gluttony.  But Mrs. Mason,
willing to impress her still more strongly, thus addressed her.

Providence, my child, has given us passions and appetites for various
purposes—two are generally obvious, I will point them out to you.  First
to render our present life more comfortable, and then to prepare us for
another, by making us sociable beings; as in society virtue is acquired,
and self-denial practised.  A moderate quantity of proper food recruits
our exhausted spirits, and invigorates the animal functions; but, if we
exceed moderation, the mind will be oppressed, and soon become the slave
of the body, or both grow listless and inactive.  Employed various ways,
families meet at meals, and there giving up to each other, learn in the
most easy, pleasant way to govern their appetites.  Pigs, you see, devour
what they can get; but men, if they have any affections, love their
fellow-creatures, and wish for a return; nor will they, for the sake of a
brutish gratification, lose the esteem of those they value.  Besides, no
one can be reckoned virtuous who has not learned to bear poverty: yet
those who think much of gratifying their appetites, will at last act
meanly in order to indulge them.  But when any employment of the
understanding, or strong affection occupies the mind, eating is seldom
thought a matter of greater importance than it ought to be.  Let the idle
_think_ of their meals; but do you employ the intermediate time in a
different manner, and only enjoy them when you join the social circle.  I
like to see children, and even men, eat chearfully, and gratefully
receive the blessings sent by Heaven; yet I would not have them abuse
those blessings, or ever let the care necessary to support the body,
injure the immortal spirit: many think of the sustenance the former
craves, and entirely neglect the latter.

I remarked to you before, that in the most apparently trivial concerns,
we are to do as we would be done by.  This duty must be practised
constantly; at meals there are frequent opportunities, and I hope,
Caroline, I shall never again see you eager to secure dainties for
yourself.  If such a disposition were to grow up with you, you ought to
live alone, for no one should enjoy the advantages and pleasures which
arise from social intercourse, who is unwilling to give way to the
inclinations of others, and allow each their share of the good things of
this life.

You experienced yesterday, that pain follows immoderate indulgence; it is
always the case, though sometimes not felt so immediately; but the
constitution is insensibly destroyed, and old age will come on, loaded
with infirmities.  You also lost a very pleasant walk, and some fine
fruit.  We visited Mrs. Goodwin’s garden, and as Mary had before
convinced me that she could regulate her appetites, I gave her leave to
pluck as much fruit as she wished; and she did not abuse my indulgence.
On the contrary, she spent most part of the time in gathering some for
me, and her attention made it taste sweeter.

Coming home I called her my friend, and she deserved the name, for she
was no longer a child; a reasonable affection had conquered an appetite;
her understanding took the lead, and she had practised a virtue.

The subject was now dropped; but, Caroline determined to copy in future
her sister’s temperance and self-denial.


The Danger of Delay.—Description of a Mansion-house in Ruins.—The History
of Charles Townley.

Mrs. Mason who always regulated her own time, and never loitered her
hours irresolutely away, had very frequently to wait for the children,
when she wished to walk, though she had desired them to be ready at a
precise time.  Mary in particular had a trick of putting everything off
till the last moment, and then she did but half do it, or left it undone.
This indolent way of delaying made her miss many opportunities of
obliging and doing good; and whole hours were lost in thoughtless
idleness, which she afterwards wished had been better employed.

This was the case one day, when she had a letter to write to her father;
and though it was mentioned to her early in the morning, the finest part
of the evening slipped away whilst she was finishing it; and her haste
made her forget the principal thing which she intended to have said.

Out of breath she joined them; and after they had crossed several fields,
Mrs. Mason turning down a long avenue, bade them look at a large old
mansion-house.  It was now in ruins.  Ivy grew over the substantial
walls, that still resisted the depredations of time, and almost concealed
a noble arch, on which maimed lions couched; and vultures and eagles, who
had lost their wings, seemed to rest for ever there.  Near it was a
rookery, and the rooks lived safe in the high trees, whose trunks were
all covered with ivy or moss, and a number of fungusses grew about their
large roots.  The grass was long, and remaining undisturbed, save when
the wind swept across it, was of course pathless.  Here the mower never
whet his scythe, nor did the haymakers mix their songs with the hoarse
croaking of the rooks.  A spacious basin, on the margin of which water
plants grew with wild luxuriance, was overspread with slime; and afforded
a shelter for toads and adders.  In many places were heaped the ruins of
ornamental buildings, whilst sun-dials rested in the shade;—and pedestals
that had crushed the figures they before supported.  Making their way
through the grass, they would frequently stumble over a headless statue,
or the head would impede their progress.  When they spoke, the sound
seemed to return again, as if unable to penetrate the thick stagnated
air.  The sun could not dart its purifying rays through the thick gloom,
and the fallen leaves contributed to choke up the way, and render the air
more noxious.

I brought you to this place on purpose this evening, said Mrs. Mason to
the children, who clung about her, to tell you the history of the last
inhabitant; but, as this part is unwholesome, we will sit on the broken
stones of the drawbridge.

Charles Townley was a boy of uncommon abilities, and strong feelings; but
he ever permitted those feelings to direct his conduct, without
submitting to the direction of reason; I mean, the present emotion
governed him.—He had not any strength or consistency of character; one
moment he enjoyed a pleasure, and the next felt the pangs of remorse, on
account of some duty which he had neglected.  He always indeed intended
to act right in every particular _to-morrow_; but _to-day_ he followed
the prevailing whim.

He heard by chance of a man in great distress, he determined to relieve
him, and left his house in order to follow the humane impulse; but
meeting an acquaintance, he was persuaded to go to the play, and
_to-morrow_, he thought, he would do the act of charity.  The next
morning some company came to breakfast with him, and took him with them
to view some fine pictures.  In the evening he went to a concert; the day
following he was tired, and laid in bed till noon; then read a pathetic
story, well wrought up, _wept_ over it—fell asleep—and forgot to _act_
humanely.  An accident reminded him of his intention, he sent to the man,
and found that he had too long delayed—the relief was useless.

In this thoughtless manner he spent his time and fortune; never applying
to any profession, though formed to shine in any one he should have
chosen.  His friends were offended, and at last allowed him to languish
in a gaol; and as there appeared no probability of reforming or fixing
him, they left him to struggle with adversity.

Severely did he reproach himself—He was almost lost in despair, when a
friend visited him.  This friend loved the latent sparks of virtue which
he imagined would some time or other light up, and animate his conduct.
He paid his debts, and gave him a sum of money sufficient to enable him
to prepare for a voyage to the East Indies, where Charles wished to go,
to try to regain his lost fortune.  Through the intercession of this
kind, considerate friend, his relations were reconciled to him, and his
spirits raised.

He sailed with a fair wind, and fortune favouring his most romantic
wishes, in the space of fifteen years, he acquired a much larger fortune
than he had even hoped for, and thought of visiting, nay, settling in his
native country for the remainder of his life.

Though impressed by the most lively sense of gratitude, he had dropped
his friend’s correspondence; yet, as he knew that he had a daughter, his
first determination was to reserve for her the greater part of his
property, as the most substantial proof which he could give of his
gratitude.—The thought pleased him, and that was sufficient to divert him
for some months; but accidentally hearing that his friend had been very
unsuccessful in trade, this information made him wish to hasten his
return to his native country.  Still a procrastinating spirit possessed
him, and he delayed from time to time the arduous task of settling his
affairs, previous to his departure: he wrote, however, to England, and
transmitted a considerable sum to a correspondent, desiring that this
house might be prepared for him, and the mortgage cleared.

I can scarcely enumerate the various delays that prevented his embarking;
and when he arrived in England, he came here, and was so childishly eager
to have his house fitted up with taste, that he actually trifled away a
month, before he went to seek for his friend.

But his negligence was now severely punished.  He learned that he had
been reduced to great distress, and thrown into the very gaol, out of
which he took Townley, who, hastening to it, only found his dead body
there; for he died the day before.  On the table was lying, amidst some
other scraps of paper, a letter, directed in an unsteady hand to Charles
Townley.  He tore it open.  Few were the scarcely legible lines; but they
smote his heart.  He read as follows:—

‘I have been reduced by unforeseen misfortunes; yet when I heard of your
arrival, a gleam of joy cheered my heart—_I thought I knew your’s_, and
that my latter days might still have been made comfortable in your
society, for I loved you; I even expected pleasure; but I was mistaken;
death is my only friend.’

He read it over and over again; and cried out, Gracious God, had I
arrived but one day sooner I should have seen him, and he would not have
died thinking me the most ungrateful wretch that ever burdened the earth!
He then knocked his clinched fist against his forehead, looked wildly
round the dreary apartment, and exclaimed in a choked, though impatient
tone, You sat here yesterday, thinking of my ingratitude—Where are you
now!  Oh! that I had seen you!  Oh! that my repenting sighs could reach

He ordered the body to be interred, and returned home a prey to grief and
despondency.  Indulging it to excess, he neglected to enquire after his
friend’s daughter; he intended to provide amply for her, but now he could
only grieve.

Some time elapsed, then he sent, and the intelligence which he procured
aggravated his distress, and gave it a severe additional sting.

The poor gentle girl had, during her father’s life, been engaged to a
worthy young man; but, some time after his death, the relations of her
lover had sent him to sea to prevent the match taking place.  She was
helpless, and had not sufficient courage to combat with poverty; to
escape from it, she married an old rake whom she detested.  He was
ill-humoured, and his vicious habits rendered him a most dreadful
companion.  She tried in vain to please him, and banish the sorrow that
bent her down, and made wealth and all the pleasures it could procure
tasteless.  Her tender father was dead—she had lost her lover—without a
friend or confident, silent grief consumed her.  I have told you
friendship is only to be found amongst the virtuous; her husband was

Ah! why did she marry, said Mary?

Because she was timid; but I have not told you all; the grief that did
not break her heart, disturbed her reason; and her husband confined her
in a madhouse.

Charles heard of this last circumstance; he visited her.  Fanny, said he,
do you recollect your old friend?  Fanny looked at him, and reason for a
moment resumed her seat, and informed her countenance to trace anguish on
it—the trembling light soon disappeared—wild fancy flushed in her eyes,
and animated her incessant rant.  She sung several verses of different
songs, talked of her husband’s ill-usage—enquired if he had lately been
to sea?  And frequently addressed her father as if he were behind her
chair, or sitting by her.

Charles could not bear this scene—If I could lose like her a sense of
woe, he cried, this intolerable anguish would not tear my heart!  The
fortune which he had intended for her could not restore her reason; but,
had he sent for her soon after her father’s death, he might have saved
her and comforted himself.

The last stroke was worse than the first; he retired to this abode;
melancholy creeping on him, he let his beard grow, and the garden run
wild.  One room in the house the poor lunatic inhabited; and he had a
proper person to attend her, and guard her from the dangers she wished to
encounter.  Every day he visited her, the sight of her would almost have
unhinged a sound mind—How could he bear it, when his conscience
reproached him, and whispered that he had neglected to do good, to live
to any rational purpose—The sweets of friendship were denied, and he
every day contemplated the saddest of all sights—the wreck of a human

He died without a will.  The estate was litigated, and as the title to
this part could not be proved, the house was let fall into its present

                       [Picture: Be calm, my child]

But the night will overtake us, we must make haste home—Give me your
hand, Mary, you tremble; surely I need not desire you to remember this
story—Be calm, my child, and remember that you must attend to trifles; do
all the good you can the present day, nay hour, if you would keep your
conscience clear.  This circumspection may not produce dazzling actions,
nor will your silent virtue be supported by human applause; but your
Father, who seeth in secret, will reward you.


Dress.—A Character.—Remarks on Mrs. Trueman’s Manner of
dressing.—Trifling Omissions undermine Affection.

Mary’s procrastinating temper produced many other ill consequences; she
would lie in bed till the last moment, and then appear without washing
her face or cleaning her teeth.  Mrs. Mason had often observed it, and
hinted her dislike; but, unwilling to burden her with precepts, she
waited for a glaring example.  One was soon accidentally thrown in her
way, and she determined that it should not pass unobserved.

A lady, who was remarkable for her negligence in this respect, spent a
week with them; and, during that time, very frequently disconcerted the
economy of the family.  She was seldom fit to be seen, and if any company
came by chance to dinner, she would make them wait till it was quite
cold, whilst she huddled on some ill-chosen finery.  In the same style,
if a little party of pleasure was proposed, she had to dress herself, and
the hurry discomposed her, and tired those, who did not like to lose time
in anticipating a trifling amusement.

A few hours after she had left them, Mrs. Mason enquired of Mary, what
effect this week’s experience had had on her mind?  You are fond of
ridicule, child, but seldom in the right place; real cause for it you let
slip, and heed not the silent reproof that points at your own faults: do
not mistake me, I would not have you laugh at—yet I wish you to feel,
what is ridiculous, and learn to distinguish folly.  Mrs. Dowdy’s
negligence arises from indolence; her mind is not employed about matters
of importance; and, if it were, it would not be a sufficient excuse for
her habitually neglecting an essential part of a man’s as well as a
woman’s duty.  I said habitually; grief will often make those careless,
who, at other times, pay a proper attention to their person; and this
neglect is a sure indication that the canker-worm is at work; and we
ought to pity, rather than blame the unfortunate.  Indeed when painful
activity of mind occasions this inattention, it will not last long; the
soul struggles to free itself, and return to its usual tone and old
habits.  The lady we have been speaking of, ever appears a sloven, though
she is sometimes a disgusting figure, and, at others, a very taudry

I continually caution Caroline not to spend much time in adorning her
person; but I never desired you to neglect yours.  Wisdom consists in
avoiding extremes—immoderate fondness for dress, I term vanity; but a
proper attention to avoid singularity does not deserve that name.  Never
waste much time about trifles; but the time that is necessary, employ
properly.  Exercise your understanding, taste flows from it, and will in
a moment direct you, if you are not too solicitous to conform to the
changing fashions; and loiter away in laborious idleness the precious
moments when the imagination is most lively, and should be allowed to fix
virtuous affections in the tender youthful heart.

Of all the women whom I have ever met with, Mrs. Trueman seems the freest
from vanity, and those frivolous views which degrade the female
character.  Her virtues claim respect, and the practice of them engrosses
her thoughts; yet her clothes are apparently well chosen, and you always
see her in the same attire.  Not like many women who are eager to set off
their persons to the best advantage, when they are only going to take a
walk, and are careless, nay slovenly, when forced to stay at home.  Mrs.
Trueman’s conduct is just the reverse, she tries to avoid singularity,
for she does not wish to disgust the generality; but it is her family,
her friends, whom she studies to please.

In dress it is not little minute things, but the whole that should be
attended to, and that every day; and this attention gives an ease to the
person because the clothes appear unstudily graceful.  Never, continued
Mrs. Mason, desire to excel in trifles, if you do—there is an end to
virtuous emulation, the mind cannot attend to both; for when the main
pursuit is trivial, the character will of course become insignificant.
Habitual neatness is laudable; but, if you wish to be reckoned a well, an
elegantly dressed girl; and feel that praise on account of it gives you
pleasure, you are vain; and a laudable ambition cannot dwell with vanity.

Servants, and those women whose minds have had a very limited range,
place all their happiness in ornaments, and frequently neglect the only
essential part in dress,—neatness.

I have not the least objection to your dressing according to your age; I
rather encourage it, by allowing you to wear the gayest colours; yet I
insist on some degree of uniformity: and think you treat me
disrespectfully when you appear before me, and have forgotten to do, what
should never be neglected, and what you could have done in less than a
quarter of an hour.

I always dress myself before breakfast, and expect you to follow my
example, if there is not a sufficient, and obvious excuse.  You, Mary,
missed a pleasant airing yesterday; for if you had not forgotten the
respect which is due to me, and hurried down to breakfast in a slovenly
manner, I should have taken you out with me; but I did not choose to wait
till you were ready, as your not being so was entirely your own fault.

Fathers, and men in general, complain of this inattention; they have
always to wait for females.  Learn to avoid this fault, however
insignificant it may appear in your eyes, for that habit cannot be of
little consequence that sometimes weakens esteem.  When we frequently
make allowance for another in trifling matters, notions of inferiority
take root in the mind, and too often produce contempt.  Respect for the
understanding must be the basis of constancy; the tenderness which flows
from pity is liable to perish insensibly, to consume itself—even the
virtues of the heart, when they degenerate into weakness, sink a
character in our estimation.  Besides, a kind of gross familiarity, takes
place of decent affection; and the respect which alone can render
domestic intimacy a lasting comfort is lost before we are aware of it.


Behaviour to Servants.—True Dignity of Character.

The children not coming down to breakfast one morning at the usual time,
Mrs. Mason went herself to enquire the reason; and as she entered the
apartment, heard Mary say to the maid who assisted her, I wonder at your
impertinence, to talk thus to me—do you know who you are speaking to?—she
was going on; but Mrs. Mason interrupted her, and answered the
question—to a little girl, who is only assisted because she is weak.
Mary shrunk back abashed, and Mrs. Mason continued, as you have treated
Betty, who is ten years older than yourself, improperly, you must now do
every thing for yourself; and, as you will be some time about it,
Caroline and I will eat our breakfast, and visit Mrs. Trueman.  By the
time we return, you may perhaps have recollected that children are
inferior to servants—who act from the dictates of reason, and whose
understandings are arrived at some degree of maturity, while children
must be governed and directed till _their’s_ gains strength to work by
itself: for it is the proper exercise of our reason that makes us in any
degree independent.

When Mrs. Mason returned, she mildly addressed Mary.  I have often told
you that every dispensation of Providence tended to our improvement, if
we do not perversely act contrary to our interest.  One being is made
dependent on another, that love and forbearance may soften the human
heart, and that linked together by necessity, and the exercise of the
social affections, the whole family on earth might have a fellow feeling
for each other.  By these means we improve one another; but there is no
real inferiority.

You have read the fable of the head supposing itself superior to the rest
of the members, though all are equally necessary to the support of life.
If I behave improperly to servants, I am really their inferior, as I
abuse a trust, and imitate not the Being, whose servant I am, without a
shadow of equality.  Children are helpless.  I order my servants to wait
on you, because you are so; but I have not as much respect for you as for
them; you may possibly become a virtuous character.—Many of my servants
are really so already; they have done their duty, filled an humble
station, as they ought to fill it, conscientiously.  And do you dare to
despise those whom your Creator approves?

Before the greatest earthly beings I should not be awed, they are my
fellow servants; and, though superior in rank, which, like personal
beauty, only dazzles the vulgar; yet I may possess more knowledge and
virtue.  The same feeling actuates me when I am in company with the poor;
we are creatures of the same nature, and I may be their inferiour in
those graces which should adorn my soul, and render me truly great.

How often must I repeat to you, that a child is inferiour to a man;
because reason is in its infancy, and it is reason which exalts a man
above a brute; and the cultivation of it raises the wise man above the
ignorant; for wisdom is only another name for virtue.

This morning, when I entered your apartment, I heard you insult a worthy
servant.  You had just said your prayers; but they must have been only
the gabble of the tongue; your heart was not engaged in the sacred
employment, or you could not so soon have forgotten that you were a weak,
dependent being, and that you were to receive mercy and kindness only on
the condition of your practising the same.

I advise you to ask Betty to pardon your impertinence; till you do so,
she shall not assist you; you would find yourself very helpless without
the assistance of men and women—unable to cook your meat, bake your
bread, wash your clothes, or even put them on—such a helpless creature is
a child—I know what you are, you perceive.

Mary submitted—and in future after she said her prayers, remembered that
she was to endeavour to curb her temper.


Employment.—Idleness produces Misery.—The Cultivation of the Fancy raises
us above the Vulgar, extends our Happiness, and leads to Virtue.

One afternoon, Mrs. Mason gave the children leave to amuse themselves;
but a kind of listlessness hung over them, and at a loss what to do, they
seemed fatigued with doing nothing.  They eat cakes though they had just
dined, and did many foolish things merely because they were idle.  Their
friend seeing that they were irresolute, and could not fix on any
employment, requested Caroline to assist her to make some clothes, that a
poor woman was in want of, and while we are at work, she added, Mary will
read us an entertaining tale, which I will point out.

The tale interested the children, who chearfully attended, and after it
was finished, Mrs. Mason told them, that as she had some letters to
write, she could not take her accustomed walk; but that she would allow
them to represent her, and act for once like women.  They received their
commission, it was to take the clothes to the poor woman, whom they were
intended for; learn her present wants; exercise their own judgment with
respect to the immediate relief she stood in need of, and act

They returned home delighted, eager to tell what they had done, and how
thankful, and happy they had left the poor woman.

Observe now, said Mrs. Mason, the advantages arising from employment;
three hours ago, you were uncomfortable, without being sensible of the
cause, and knew not what to do with yourselves.  Nay, you actually
committed a sin; for you devoured cakes without feeling hunger, merely to
kill time, whilst many poor people have not the means of satisfying their
natural wants.  When I desired you to read to me you were amused; and now
you have been useful you are delighted.  Recollect this in future when
you are at a loss what to do with yourselves—and remember that idleness
must always be intolerable, because it is only an irksome consciousness
of existence.

Every gift of Heaven is lent to us for our improvement; fancy is one of
the first of the inferiour ones; in cultivating it, we acquire what is
called taste, or a relish for particular employments, which occupy our
leisure hours, and raise us above the vulgar in our conversation.  Those
who have not any taste talk always of their own affairs or of their
neighbours; every trivial matter that occurs within their knowledge they
convass and conjecture about—not so much out of ill-nature as idleness:
just as you eat the cakes without the impulse of hunger.  In the same
style people talk of eating and dress, and long for their meals merely to
divide the day, because the intermediate time is not employed in a more
interesting manner.  Every new branch of taste that we cultivate, affords
us a refuge from idleness, a fortress in which we may resist the assaults
of vice; and the more noble our employments, the more exalted will our
minds become.

Music, drawing, works of usefulness and fancy, all amuse and refine the
mind, sharpen the ingenuity; and form, insensibly, the dawning
judgment.—As the judgment gains strength, so do the passions also; we
have actions to weigh, and need that taste in conduct, that delicate
sense of propriety, which gives grace to virtue.  The highest branch of
solitary amusement is reading; but even in the choice of books the fancy
is first employed; for in reading, the heart is touched, till its
feelings are examined by the understanding, and the ripenings of reason
regulate the imagination.  This is the work of years, and the most
important of all employments.  When life advances, if the heart has been
capable of receiving early impressions, and the head of reasoning and
retaining the conclusions which were drawn from them; we have acquired a
stock of knowledge, a gold mine which we can occasionally recur to,
independent of outward circumstances.

The supreme Being has every thing in Himself; we proceed from Him, and
our knowledge and affections must return to Him for employment suited to
them.  And those who most resemble Him ought, next to Him, to be the
objects of our love; and the beings whom we should try to associate with,
that we may receive an inferiour degree of satisfaction from their
society.—But be assured our chief comfort must ever arise from the mind’s
reviewing its own operations—and the whispers of an approving conscience,
to convince us that life has not slipped away unemployed.


Innocent Amusements.—Description of a Welsh Castle.—History of a Welsh
Harper.—A tyrannical Landlord.—Family Pride.

As it was now harvest time, the new scene, and the fine weather delighted
the children, who ran continually out to view the reapers.  Indeed every
thing seemed to wear a face of festivity, and the ripe corn bent under
its own weight, or, more erect, shewed the laughing appearance of plenty.

Mrs. Mason always allowing the gleaners to have a sufficient quantity, a
great number of poor came to gather a little harvest; and she was pleased
to see the feeble hands of childhood and age, collecting the scattered

Honest Jack came with his family; and when the labours of the day were
over, would play on a fiddle, that frequently had but three strings.  But
it served to set the feet in motion, and the lads and lasses dancing on
the green sod, suffered every care to sleep.

An old Welsh harper generally came to the house about this time of the
year, and staid a month or more; for Mrs. Mason was particularly fond of
this instrument, and interested in the fate of the player; as is almost
always the case, when we have rescued a person out of any distress.

She informed the children, that once travelling through Wales, her
carriage was overturned near the ruins of an old castle.  And as she had
escaped unhurt, she determined to wander amongst them, whilst the driver
took care of his horses, and her servant hastened to the neighbouring
village for assistance.

                   [Picture: Trying to trace the sound]

It was almost dark, and the lights began to twinkle in the scattered
cottages.  The scene pleased me, continued Mrs. Mason, I thought of the
various customs which the lapse of time unfolds; and dwelt on the state
of the Welsh, when this castle, now so desolate, was the hospitable abode
of the chief of a noble family.  These reflections entirely engrossed my
mind, when the sound of a harp reached my ears.  Never was any thing more
opportune, the national music seemed to give reality to the pictures
which my imagination had been drawing.  I listened awhile, and then
trying to trace the pleasing sound, discovered, after a short search, a
little hut, rudely built.  The walls of an old tower supported part of
the thatch, which scarcely kept out the rain, and the two other sides
were stones cemented, or rather plaistered together, by mud and clay.

I entered, and beheld an old man, sitting by a few loose sticks, which
blazed on the hearth; and a young woman, with one child at her breast,
sucking, and another on her knee: near them stood a cow and her calf.
The man had been playing on the harp, he rose when he saw me, and offered
his chair, the only one in the room, and sat down on a large chest in the
chimney-corner.  When the door was shut, all the light that was admitted
came through the hole, called a chimney, and did not much enliven the
dwelling.  I mentioned my accident to account for my intrusion, and
requested the harper again to touch the instrument that had attracted me.
A partition of twigs and dried leaves divided this apartment from
another, in which I perceived a light; I enquired about it, and the
woman, in an artless manner, informed me, that she had let it to a young
gentlewoman lately married, who was related to a very good family, and
would not lodge any where, or with any body.  This intelligence made me
smile, to think that family pride should be a solace in such extreme

I sat there some time, and then the harper accompanied me to see whether
the carriage was repaired; I found it waiting for me; and as the inn I
was to sleep at was only about two miles further, the harper offered to
come and play to me whilst I was eating my supper.  This was just what I
wished for, his appearance had roused my compassion as well as my
curiosity, and I took him and his harp in the chaise.  After supper he
informed me, that he had once a very good farm; but he had been so
unfortunate as to displease the justice, who never forgave him, nor
rested till he had ruined him.  This tyrant always expected his tenants
to assist him to bring in his harvest before they had got in their own.
The poor harper was once in the midst of his, when an order was sent to
him to bring his carts and servants, the next day, to the fields of this
petty king.  He foolishly refused; and this refusal was the foundation of
that settled hatred which produced such fatal consequences.  Ah, Madam,
said the sufferer, your heart would ache, if you heard of all his
cruelties to me, and the rest of his poor tenants.  He employs many
labourers, and will not give them as much wages as they could get from
the common farmers, yet they dare not go any-where else to work when he
sends for them.  The fish that they catch they must bring first to him,
or they would not be allowed to walk over his grounds to catch them; and
he will give just what he pleases for the most valuable part of their

But there would be no end to my story were I to tell you of all his
oppressions.  I was obliged to leave my farm; and my daughter, whom you
saw this evening, having married an industrious young man, I came to live
with them.  When,—would you believe it? this same man threw my son into
jail, on account of his killing a hare, which all the country folks do
when they can catch them in their grounds.  We were again in great
distress, and my daughter and I built the hut you saw in the waste, that
the poor babes might have a shelter.  I maintain them by playing on the
harp,—the master of this inn allows me to play to the gentry who travel
this way; so that I pick up a few pence, just enough to keep life and
soul together, and to enable me to send a little bread to my poor son
John Thomas.

He then began one of the most dismal of his Welsh ditties, and, in the
midst of it cried out, he is an upstart, a mere mushroom!—His grandfather
was cow-boy to mine!—So I told him once, and he never forgot it.—

The old man then informed me that the castle in which he now was
sheltered formerly belonged to his family—such are the changes and
chances of this mortal life—said he, and hastily struck up a lively

While he was striking the strings, I thought too of the changes in life
which an age had produced.  The descendant of those who had made the hall
ring with social mirth now mourned in its ruins, and hung his harp on the
mouldering battlements.  Such is the fate of buildings and of families!

After I had dismissed my guest, I sent for the landlord, to make some
further enquiries; and found that I had not been deceived; I then
determined to assist him, and thought my accident providential.  I knew a
man of consequence in the neighbourhood, I visited him, and exerted
myself to procure the enlargement of the young man.  I succeeded; and not
only restored him to his family; but prevailed on my friend to let him
rent a small farm on his estate, and I gave him money to buy stock for
it, and the implements of husbandry.

The old harper’s gratitude was unbounded; the summer after he walked to
visit me; and ever since he has contrived to come every year to enliven
our harvest-home.—This evening it is to be celebrated.

The evening came; the joyous party footed it away merrily, and the sound
of their shoes was heard on the barn-floor.  It was not the light
fantastic toe, that fashion taught to move, but honest heart-felt mirth,
and the loud laugh, if it spoke the vacant head, said audibly that the
heart was guileless.

Mrs. Mason always gave them some trifling presents at this time, to
render the approach of winter more comfortable.  To the men, she
generally presented warm clothing, and to the women flax and worsted for
knitting and spinning; and those who were the most industrious received a
reward when the new year commenced.  The children had books given to
them, and little ornaments.—All were anxious for the day; and received
their old acquaintance, the harper, with the most cordial smiles.


Prayer.—A Moon-light Scene.—Resignation.

The harper would frequently sit under a large elm, a few paces from the
house, and play some of the most plaintive Welsh tunes.  While the people
were eating their supper, Mrs. Mason desired him to play her some
favourite airs; and she and the children walked round the tree under
which he sat, on the stump of another.

The moon rose in cloudless majesty, and a number of stars twinkled near
her.  The softened landscape inspired tranquillity, while the strain of
rustic melody gave a pleasing melancholy to the whole—and made the tear
start, whose source could scarcely be traced.  The pleasure the sight of
harmless mirth gave rise to in Mrs. Mason’s bosom, roused every tender
feeling—set in motion her spirits.—She laughed with the poor whom she had
made happy, and wept when she recollected her own sorrows; the illusions
of youth—the gay expectations that had formerly clipped the wings of
time.—She turned to the girls—I have been very unfortunate, my young
friends; but my griefs are now of a placid kind.  Heavy misfortunes have
obscured the sun I gazed at when first I entered life—early attachments
have been broken—the death of friends I loved has so clouded my days;
that neither the beams of prosperity, nor even those of benevolence, can
dissipate the gloom; but I am not lost in a thick fog.—My state of mind
rather resembles the scene before you, it is quiet—I am weaned from the
world, but not disgusted—for I can still do good—and in futurity a sun
will rise to cheer my heart.—Beyond the night of death, I hail the dawn
of an eternal day!  I mention my state of mind to you, that I may tell
you what supports me.

The festivity within, and the placidity without, led my thoughts
naturally to the source from whence my comfort springs—to the Great
Bestower of every blessing.  Prayer, my children, is the dearest
privilege of man, and the support of a feeling heart.  Mine has too often
been wounded by ingratitude; my fellow-creatures, whom I have fondly
loved, have neglected me—I have heard their last sigh, and thrown my eyes
round an empty world; but then more particularly feeling the presence of
my Creator, I poured out my soul before Him—and was no longer alone!—I
now daily contemplate His wonderful goodness; and, though at an awful
distance, try to imitate Him.  This view of things is a spur to activity,
and a consolation in disappointment.

There is in fact a constant intercourse kept up with the Creator, when we
learn to consider Him, as the fountain of truth, which our understanding
naturally thirsts after.  But His goodness brings Him still more on a
level with our bounded capacities—for we trace it in every work of mercy,
and feel, in sorrow particularly, His fatherly care.  Every blessing is
doubled when we suppose it comes from Him, and afflictions almost lose
their name when we believe they are sent to correct, not crush us.—Whilst
we are alive to gratitude and admiration, we must adore God.

The human soul is so framed, that goodness and truth must fill it with
ineffable pleasure, and the nearer it approaches to perfection, the more
earnestly will it pursue those virtues, discerning more clearly their

The Supreme Being dwells in the universe.  He is as essentially present
to the wicked as to the good; but the latter delight in His presence, and
try to please Him, whilst the former shrink from a Judge, who is of too
pure a nature to behold iniquity.—The wicked wish for the rocks to cover
them, mountains, or the angry sea, which we the other day surveyed, to
hide them from the presence of that Being—in whose presence only they
could find joy.  You feel emotions that incite you to do good; and
painful ones disturb you, when you have resisted the faithful internal
monitor.  The wiser, and the better you grow, the more visible, if I may
use the expression, will God become—For wisdom consists in searching Him
out—and goodness in endeavouring to copy His attributes.

To attain any thing great, a model must be held up to exercise our
understanding, and engage our affections.  A view of the disinterested
goodness of God is therefore calculated to touch us more than can be
conceived by a depraved mind.  When the love of God is shed abroad in our
hearts; true courage will animate our conduct, for nothing can hurt those
who trust in Him.  If the desire of acting right is ever present with us,
if admiration of goodness fills our souls; we may be said to pray
constantly.  And if we try to do justice to all our fellow-creatures, and
even to the brute creation; and assist them as far as we can, we prove
whose servants we are, and whose laws we transcribe in our lives.

Never be very anxious, when you pray, what _words_ to use; regulate your
_thoughts_; and recollect that virtue calms the passions, gives clearness
to the understanding, and opens it to pleasures that the thoughtless and
vicious have not a glimpse of.  You must, believe me, be acquainted with
God to find peace, to rise superior to worldly temptations.  Habitual
devotion is of the utmost consequence to our happiness, as what oftenest
occupies the thoughts will influence our actions.  But, observe what I
say,—_that_ devotion is mockery and selfishness, which does not improve
our moral character.

Men, of old, prayed to the devil, sacrificed their children to him; and
committed every kind of barbarity and impurity.  But we who serve a
long-suffering God should pity the weakness of our fellow-creatures; we
must not beg for mercy and not shew it;—we must not acknowledge that we
have offended, without trying to avoid doing so in future.  We are to
deal with our fellow-creatures as we expect to be dealt with.  This is
practical prayer!—Those who practise it feel frequently sublime
pleasures, and lively hopes animate them in this vale of tears; that seem
a foretaste of the felicity they will enjoy, when the understanding is
more enlightened, and the affections properly regulated.

To-morrow I will take you to visit the school-mistress of the village,
and relate her story, to enforce what I have been saying.

Now you may go and dance one or two dances; and I will join you after I
have taken a walk, which I wish to enjoy alone.


The Benefits arising from Devotion.—The History of the Village
School-mistress.—Fatal Effects of Inattention to Expences, in the History
of Mr. Lofty.

The next morning Mrs. Mason desired the children to get their work, and
draw near the table whilst she related the promised history; and in the
afternoon, if the weather be fine, they were to visit the village

Her father, the honourable Mr. Lofty, was the youngest son of a noble
family; his education had been liberal, though his fortune was small.
His relations, however, seemed determined to push him forward in life,
before he disobliged them by marrying the daughter of a country
clergyman, an accomplished, sensible woman.

Some time after the birth of his daughter Anna, his elder brother, the
Earl of Caermarthen, was reconciled to him; but this reconciliation only
led him into expences, which his limited fortune could not bear.  Mr.
Lofty had a high sense of honour, and rather a profuse turn; he was,
beside, a very humane man, and gave away much more than he could afford
to give, when his compassion was excited.  He never did a mean action;
but sometimes an ostentatious pride tarnished the lustre of very splendid
ones, made them appear to judicious eyes, more like tinsel, than gold.  I
will account for it.  His first impulse arose from sensibility, and the
second from an immoderate desire of human applause: for he seemed not to
be alive to devotional feelings, or to have that rock to rest on, which
will support a frail being, and give true dignity to a character, though
all nature combined to crush it.

Mrs. Lofty was not a shining character—but I will read you a part of a
letter, which her daughter, the lady we are to visit, wrote to me.

‘This being the anniversary of the day on which an ever loved, and much
revered parent was released from the bondage of mortality, I observe it
with particular seriousness, and with gratitude; for her sorrows were
great, her trials severe—but her conduct was blameless: yet the world
admired her not; her silent, modest virtues, were not formed to attract
the notice of the injudicious crowd, and her understanding was not
brilliant enough to excite admiration.  But she was regardless of the
opinion of the world; she sought her reward in the source from whence her
virtue was derived—and she found it.—He, who, for wise and merciful
purposes, suffered her to be afflicted, supported her under her trials;
thereby calling forth the exercise of those virtues with which He had
adorned her gentle soul; and imparting to her a degree of heart-felt
comfort, which no earthly blessing could afford.’

This amiable parent died when Anna was near eighteen, and left her to the
care of her father, whose high spirit she had imbibed.  However, the
religious principles which her mother had instilled regulated her notions
of honour, and so elevated her character, that her heart was regulated by
her understanding.

Her father who had insensibly involved himself in debt, after her
mother’s death, tried many different schemes of life, all of which, at
first wore a promising aspect; but wanting that suppleness of temper,
that enables people to rise in the world, his struggles, instead of
extricating, sunk him still deeper.  Wanting also the support of
religion, he became sour, easily irritated, and almost hated a world
whose applause he had once eagerly courted.  His affairs were at last in
such a desperate state, that he was obliged, reluctantly, to accept of an
invitation from his brother, who with his wife, a weak fine lady,
intended to spend some time on the continent; his daughter was, of
course, to be of the party.

The restraint of obligations did not suit his temper, and feeling himself
dependent, he imagined every one meant to insult him.

Some sarcasms were thrown out one day by a gentleman, in a large company;
they were not personal, yet he took fire.  His sore mind was easily hurt,
he resented them; and heated by wine, they both said more than their cool
reason would have suggested.  Mr. Lofty imagined his honour was wounded,
and the next morning sent him a challenge—They met—and he killed his
antagonist, who, dying, pardoned him, and declared that the sentiments
which had given him so much offence, fell from him by accident, and were
not levelled at any person.

The dying man lamented, that the thread of a thoughtless life had been so
suddenly snapped—the name of his wife and children he could not
articulate, when something like a prayer for them escaped his livid lips,
and shook his exhausted frame—The blood flowed in a copious stream—vainly
did Mr. Lofty endeavour to staunch it—the heart lost its vital
nourishment—and the soul escaped as he pressed the hand of his
destroyer.—Who, when he found him breathless, ran home, and rushed in a
hurry into his own chamber.  The dead man’s image haunted his
imagination—he started—imagined that he was at his elbow—and shook the
hand that had received the dying grasp—yet still it was pressed, and the
pressure entered into his very soul—On the table lay two pistols, he
caught up one,—and shot himself.—The report alarmed the family—the
servants and his daughter, for his brother was not at home, broke open
the door,—and she saw the dreadful sight!  As there was still some
appearance of life, a trembling ray—she supported the body, and sent for
assistance.  But he soon died in her arms without speaking, before the
servant returned with a surgeon.

Horror seized her, another pistol lay charged on the table, she caught it
up, but religion held her hand—she knelt down by a dead father, and
prayed to a superior one.  Her mind grew calmer—yet still she
passionately wished she had but heard him speak, or that she had conveyed
comfort to his departing spirit—where, where would it find comfort? again
she was obliged to have recourse to prayer.

After the death of her father, her aunt treated her as if she were a mere
dependent on her bounty; and expected her to be an humble companion in
every sense of the word.  The visitors took the tone from her ladyship,
and numberless were the mortifications she had to bear.

The entrance of a person about business interrupted the narration; but
Mrs. Mason promised to resume it after dinner.


The Benefits arising from Devotion.—The History of the Village
School-mistress concluded.

As soon as the cloth was removed, Mrs. Mason concluded the narration; and
the girls forgot their fruit whilst they were listening to the sequel.

Anna endured this treatment some years, and had an opportunity of
acquiring a knowledge of the world and her own heart.  She visited her
mother’s father, and would have remained with him; but she determined not
to lessen the small pittance which he had anxiously saved out of a scanty
income for two other grand-children.  She thought continually of her
situation, and found, on examining her understanding, that the
fashionable circle in which she moved, could not at any rate have
afforded her much satisfaction, or even amusement; though the neglect and
contempt that she met with rendered her very uncomfortable.  She had her
father’s spirit of independence, and determined to shake off the galling
yoke which she had long struggled with, and try to earn her own
subsistence.  Her acquaintance expostulated with her, and represented the
miseries of poverty, and the mortifications and difficulties that she
would have to encounter.  Let it be so, she replied, it is much
preferable to swelling the train of the proud or vicious great, and
despising myself for bearing their impertinence, for eating their bitter
bread;—better, indeed, is a dinner of herbs with contentment.  My wants
are few.  When I am my own mistress, the crust I earn will be sweet, and
the water that moistens it will not be mingled with tears of sorrow or

To shorten my story; she came to me, after she had attempted several
plans, and requested my advice.  She would not accept of any considerable
favour, and declared that the greatest would be, to put her in a way of
supporting herself, without forfeiting her highly valued independence.  I
knew not what to advise; but whilst I was debating the matter with
myself, I happened to mention, that we were in want of a school-mistress.
She eagerly adopted the plan, and persevering in it these last ten years,
I find her a most valuable acquisition to our society.

She was formed to shine in the most brilliant circle—yet she relinquished
it, and patiently labours to improve the children consigned to her
management, and tranquillize her own mind.  She succeeds in both.

She lives indeed alone, and has all day only the society of children; yet
she enjoys many true pleasures; dependence on God is her support, and
devotion her comfort.  Her lively affections are therefore changed into a
love of virtue and truth: and these exalted speculations have given an
uncommon dignity to her manners; for she seems above the world, and its
trifling commotions.  At her meals, gratitude to Heaven supplies the
place of society.  She has a tender, social heart, and, as she cannot
sweeten her solitary draught, by expressing her good wishes to her
fellow-creatures, an ejaculation to Heaven for the welfare of her friends
is the substitute.  This circumstance I heard her mention to her
grandfather, who sometimes visits her.

I will now make some alteration in my dress, for when I visit those who
have been reduced from their original place in society by misfortunes, I
always attend a little to ceremony; lest too much familiarity should
appear like disrespect.


Visit to the School-mistress.—True and false Pride.

Their dress was soon adjusted, and the girls plucked flowers to adorn
themselves, and a nosegay to present to the school-mistress, whose garden
was but small.

They met the children just released from confinement; the swarm came
humming round Mrs. Mason, endeavouring to catch her eye, and obtain the
notice they were so proud of.  The girls made their best courtesies,
blushing; and the boys hung down their heads, and kicked up the dust, in
scraping a bow of respect.

They found their mistress preparing to drink tea, to refresh herself
after the toils of the day; and, with the ease peculiar to well-bred
people, she quickly enabled them to partake of it, by giving the
tea-board a more sociable appearance.

The harvest-home was soon the subject of conversation, and the harper was
mentioned.  The family pride of the Welsh, said Anna, has often diverted
me; I have frequently heard the inhabitants of a little hut, that could
scarcely be distinguished from the pig-sty, which stood in the front of
it, boast of their ancestors and despise trade.  They have informed me,
that one branch of their family built the middle aisle of the church;
that another beautified the chancel, and gave the ten commandments, which
blaze there in letters of gold.  Some rejoice that their forefathers
sleep in the most conspicuous tombs—and that their ashes have an
inscription to point out where they are returning to their mother earth.
And those graves, which only a little stone at the head gives consequence
to, are adorned every Sunday with flowers, or ever-greens.  We perceive,
in all the various customs of men, a desire to live in the past and in
the future, if I may be allowed the expression.

Mrs. Mason then observed, that of all the species of pride which carry a
man out of himself, family pride was the most beneficial to society.
Pride of wealth produces vanity and ostentation; but that of blood seems
to inspire high notions of honour, and to banish meanness.  Yet it is
productive of many ill consequences, the most obvious is, that it renders
individuals respectable to the generality, whose merit is only reflected:
and sometimes the want of this accidental advantage throws the most
shining personal virtues and abilities into obscurity.  In weak minds
this pride degenerates into the most despicable folly; and the wise will
not condescend to accept of fame at second-hand, replied Anna.  We ought
to be proud of our original, but we should trace it to our Heavenly
Father, who breathed into us the breath of life.—We are His children when
we try to resemble Him, when we are convinced that truth and goodness
must constitute the very essence of the soul; and that the pursuit of
them will produce happiness, when the vain distinctions of mortals will
fade away, and their pompous escutcheons moulder with more vulgar dust!
But remember, my young friends, virtue is immortal; and goodness arises
from a quick perception of truth, and actions conformable to the

Different subjects beguiled the time, till the closing evening admonished
them to return home; and they departed reluctantly, filled with respect.


Charity.—The History of Peggy and her Family.—The Sailor’s Widow.

I have often remarked to you, said Mrs. Mason, one morning, to her
pupils, that we are all dependent on each other; and this dependence is
wisely ordered by our Heavenly Father, to call forth many virtues, to
exercise the best affections of the human heart, and fix them into
habits.  While we impart pleasure we receive it, and feel the grandeur of
our immortal soul, as it is constantly struggling to spread itself into

Perhaps the greatest pleasure I have ever received, has arisen from the
habitual exercise of charity, in its various branches: the view of a
distressed object has made me now think of conversing about one branch of
it, that of giving alms.

You know Peggy, the young girl whom I wish to have most about my person;
I mean, I wish it for her own sake, that I may have an opportunity of
improving her mind, and cultivating a good capacity.  As to attendance, I
never give much trouble to any fellow-creature; for I choose to be
independent of caprice and artificial wants; unless indeed, when I am
sick; then, I thankfully receive the assistance I would willingly give to
others in the same situation.  I believe I have not in the world a more
faithful friend than Peggy; and her earnest desire to please me gratifies
my benevolence, for I always observe with delight the workings of a
grateful heart.

I lost a darling child, said Mrs. Mason, smothering a sigh, in the depth
of winter—death had before deprived me of her father, and when I lost my
child—he died again.

The wintery prospects suiting the temper of my soul, I have sat looking
at a wide waste of trackless snow for hours; and the heavy sullen fog,
that the feeble rays of the sun could not pierce, gave me back an image
of my mind.  I was unhappy, and the sight of dead nature accorded with my
feelings—for all was dead to me.

As the snow began to melt, I took a walk, and observed the birds hopping
about with drooping wings, or mute on the leafless boughs.  The mountain,
whose sides had lost the snow, looked black; yet still some remained on
the summit, and formed a contrast to diversify the dreary prospect.

I walked thoughtfully along, when the appearance of a poor man, who did
not beg, struck me very forcibly.  His shivering limbs were scarcely
sheltered from the cold by the tattered garments that covered him; and he
had a sharp, famished look.  I stretched out my hand with some relief in
it, I would not enquire into the particulars of such obvious distress.
The poor wretch caught my hand, and hastily dropping on his knees,
thanked me in an extacy, as if he had almost lost sight of hope, and was
overcome by the sudden relief.  His attitude, for I cannot bear to see a
fellow-creature kneel, and eager thanks, oppressed my weak spirits, so
that I could not for a moment ask him any more questions; but as soon as
I recollected myself, I learned from him the misfortunes that had reduced
him to such extreme distress, and he hinted, that I could not easily
guess the good I had done.  I imagined from this hint that he was
meditating his own destruction when I saw him, to spare himself the
misery of seeing his infant perish,—starved to death, in every sense of
the word.

I will now hasten to the sequel of the account.  His wife had lately had
a child, she was very ill at the time, and want of proper food, and a
defence against the inclemency of the weather, hurried her out of the
world.  The poor child, Peggy, had sucked in disease and nourishment
together, and now even that wretched source had failed—the breast was
cold that had afforded the scanty support; and the little innocent
smiled, unconscious of its misery.  I sent for her, added Mrs. Mason, and
her father dying a few years after, she has ever been a favourite charge
of mine, and nursing of her, in some measure, dispelled the gloom in
which I had been almost lost.—Ah! my children, you know not how many,
‘houseless heads bide the pitiless storm!’

I received soon after a lesson of resignation from a poor woman, who was
a practical philosopher.

She had lost her husband, a sailor, and lost his wages also, as she could
not prove his death.  She came to me to beg some pieces of silk, to make
some pin-cushions for the boarders of a neighbouring school.  Her lower
weeds were patched with different coloured rags; but they spoke not
variety of wretchedness, on the contrary, they shewed a mind so content,
that want, and bodily pain, did not prevent her thinking of the opinion
of casual observers.  This woman lost a husband and a child suddenly, and
her daily bread was precarious.—I cheered the widow’s heart, and my own
was not quite solitary.

But I am growing melancholy, whilst I am only desirous of pointing out to
you how very beneficial charity is—because it enables us to find comfort
when all our worldly comforts are blighted: besides, when our bowels
yearn to our fellow-creatures, we feel that the love of God dwelleth in
us—and then we cannot always go on our way sorrowing.


Visit to Mrs. Trueman.—The Use of Accomplishments.—Virtue the Soul of

In the afternoon they visited Mrs. Trueman unexpectedly, and found her
sitting in the garden playing to her children, who danced on the green
sod.  She approached to receive them, and laid aside her guitar; but,
after some conversation, Mrs. Mason desired her to take it up again, and
the girls joined in the request.  While she was singing Mary whispered
Mrs. Mason, that she would give the world to be able to sing as well.
The whisper was not so low but a part of it reached Mrs. Trueman’s ears,
who said to her, smiling, my young friend, you value accomplishments much
too highly—they may give grace to virtue—but are nothing without solid
worth.—Indeed, I may say more, for any thing like perfection in the arts
cannot be attained, where a relish; nay, a delight in what is true and
noble is wanting.  A superficial observer may be pleased with a picture
in which fine colours predominate; and quick movements in music may
tickle the ear, though they never reach the heart: but it is the simple
strain which affection animates, that we listen to with interest and
delight.  Mr. Trueman has a taste for the fine arts; and I wish in every
thing to be his companion.  His conversation has improved my judgment,
and the affection an intimate knowledge of his virtues has inspired,
increases the love which I feel for the whole human race.  He lives
retired from the world; to amuse him after the business of the day is
over, and my babes asleep, I sing to him.  A desire to please, and the
pleasure I read in his eyes, give to my music energy and tenderness.
When he is ruffled by worldly cares, I try to smooth his wrinkled brow,
and think mine a voice of melody, when it has had that effect.

Very true, replied Mrs. Mason, accomplishments should be cultivated to
render us pleasing to our domestic friends; virtue is necessary; it must
ever be the foundation of our peace and usefulness; but when we are
capable of affection, we wish to have something peculiar to ourselves.
We study the taste of our friends, and endeavour to conform to it; but,
in doing so, we ought rather to improve our own abilities than servilely
to copy theirs.  Observe, my dear girls, Mrs. Trueman’s distinction, her
accomplishments are for her friends, her virtues for the world in

I should think myself vain, and my soul little, answered Mrs. Trueman, if
the applause of the whole world, on the score of abilities, which did not
add any real lustre to my character, could afford me matter of
exultation.  The approbation of my own heart, the humble hope of pleasing
the Most High, elevates my soul; and I feel, that in a future state, I
may enjoy an unspeakable degree of happiness, though I now only
experience a faint foretaste.  Next to these sublime emotions, which I
cannot describe, and the joy resulting from doing good; I am happy when I
can amuse those I love; it is not then vanity, but tenderness, that spurs
me on, and my songs, my drawings, my every action, has something of my
heart in it.  When I can add to the innocent enjoyments of my children,
and improve them at the same time, are not my accomplishments of use?  In
the same style, when I vary the pleasures of my fire-side, I make my
husband forget that it is a lonely one; and he returns to look for
elegance at home, elegance that he himself gave the polish to; and which
is only affected, when it does not flow from virtuous affections.

I beg your pardon, I expatiate too long on my favourite topic; my desire
to rectify your notions must plead my excuse.

Mr. Trueman now joined them, and brought with him some of his finest
fruit.  After tea Mrs. Trueman shewed them some of her drawings; and, to
comply with their repeated request, played on the harpsichord, and Mr.
Trueman took his violin to accompany her.  Then the children were
indulged with a dance, each had her favourite tune played in turn.

As they returned home, the girls were eagerly lavishing praises on Mrs.
Trueman; and Mary said, I cannot tell why, but I feel so glad when she
takes notice of me.  I never saw any one look so good-natured, cried
Caroline.  Mrs. Mason joined in the conversation.  You justly remarked
that she is good-natured; you remember her history, she loves truth, and
she is ever exercising benevolence and love—from the insect, that she
avoids treading on, her affection may be traced to that Being who lives
for ever.—And it is from her goodness her agreeable qualities spring.


The Benefit of bodily Pain.—Fortitude the Basis of Virtue.—The Folly of

The children had been playing in the garden for some time, whilst Mrs.
Mason was reading alone.  But she was suddenly alarmed by the cries of
Caroline, who ran into the room in great distress.  Mary quickly
followed, and explaining the matter said, that her sister had
accidentally disturbed some wasps, who were terrified, and of course
stung her.  Remedies were applied to assuage the pain; yet all the time
she uttered the loudest and most silly complaints, regardless of the
uneasiness she gave those who were exerting themselves to relieve her.

In a short time the smart abated, and then her friend thus addressed her,
with more than usual gravity.  I am sorry to see a girl of your age weep
on account of bodily pain; it is a proof of a weak mind—a proof that you
cannot employ yourself about things of consequence.  How often must I
tell you that the Most High is educating us for eternity?

‘The term virtue, comes from a word signifying strength.  Fortitude of
mind is, therefore, the basis of every virtue, and virtue belongs to a
being, that is weak in its nature, and strong only in will and

Children early feel bodily pain, to habituate them to bear the conflicts
of the soul, when they become reasonable creatures.  This, I say, is the
first trial, and I like to see that proper pride which strives to conceal
its sufferings.  Those who, when young, weep if the least trifle annoys
them, will never, I fear, have sufficient strength of mind, to encounter
all the miseries that can afflict the body, rather than act meanly to
avoid them.  Indeed, this seems to be the essential difference between a
great and a little mind: the former knows how to endure—whilst the latter
suffers an immortal soul to be depressed, lost in its abode; suffers the
inconveniences which attack the one to overwhelm the other.  The soul
would always support the body, if its superiority was felt, and
invigorated by exercise.  The Almighty, who never afflicts but to produce
some good end, first sends diseases to children to teach them patience
and fortitude; and when by degrees they have learned to bear them, they
have acquired some virtue.

In the same manner, cold or hunger, when accidentally encountered, are
not evils; they make _us feel what wretches feel_, and teach us to be
tender-hearted.  Many of your fellow-creatures daily bear what you cannot
for a moment endure without complaint.  Besides, another advantage arises
from it, after you have felt hunger, you will not be very anxious to
choose the particular kind of food that is to satisfy it.  You will then
be freed from a frivolous care.

When it is necessary to take a nauseous draught, swallow it at once, and
do not make others sick whilst you are hesitating, though you know that
you ought to take it.  If a tooth is to be drawn, or any other
disagreeable operation to be performed, determine resolutely that it
shall be done immediately; and debate not, when you clearly see the step
that you ought to take.  If I see a child act in this way, I am ready to
embrace it, my soul yearns for it—I perceive the dawning of a character
that will be useful to society, as it prepares its soul for a nobler
field of action.

Believe me, it is the patient endurance of pain, that will enable you to
resist your passions; after you have borne bodily pain, you will have
firmness enough to sustain the still more excruciating agonies of the
mind.  You will not, to banish momentary cares, plunge into dissipation,
nor to escape a present inconvenience, forget that you should hold fast
virtue as the only substantial good.

I should not value the affection of a person who would not bear pain and
hunger to serve me; nor is that benevolence warm, which shrinks from
encountering difficulties, when it is necessary, in order to be useful to
any fellow-creature.

There is a just pride, a noble ambition in some minds, that I greatly
admire.  I have seen a little of it in Mary! for whilst she pities
others, she imagines that she could bear their inconveniences herself;
and she seems to feel more uneasiness, when she observes the sufferings
of others, than I could ever trace on her countenance under the immediate
pressure of pain.

Remember you are to bear patiently the infirmities of the weakest of your
fellow-creatures; but to yourselves you are not to be equally indulgent.


Journey to London.

The girls were visibly improved; an air of intelligence began to animate
Caroline’s fine features; and benevolence gave her eyes the humid sparkle
which is so beautiful and engaging.  The interest that we take in the
fate of others, attaches them to ourselves;—thus Caroline’s goodness
inspired more affection than her beauty.

Mary’s judgment grew every day clearer; or, more properly speaking, she
acquired experience; and her lively feelings fixed the conclusions of
reason in her mind.  Whilst Mrs. Mason was rejoicing in their apparent
improvement, she received a letter from their father, requesting her to
allow his daughters to spend the winter in town, as he wished to procure
them the best masters, an advantage that the country did not afford.
With reluctance she consented, determining to remain with them a short
time; and preparations were quickly made for the journey.

The wished for morning arrived, and they set off in a tumult of spirits;
sorry to leave the country, yet delighted with the prospect of visiting
the metropolis.  This hope soon dried the tears which had bedewed their
cheeks; for the parting with Mrs. Mason was not anticipated.  The
autumnal views were new to them; they saw the hedges exhibit various
colours, and the trees stripped of their leaves; but they were not
disposed to moralize.

For some time after their arrival, every thing they saw excited wonder
and admiration; and not till they were a little familiarized with the new
objects, did they ask reasonable questions.

Several presents recruited their purses; and they requested Mrs. Mason to
allow them to buy some trifles they were in want of.  The request was
modest, and she complied.


Charity.—Shopping.—The distressed Stationer.—Mischievous Consequences of
delaying Payment.

As they walked in search of a shop, they both determined to purchase
pocket-books; but their friend desired them not to spend all their money
at once, as they would meet many objects of charity in the numerous
streets of the metropolis.  I do not wish you, she continued, to relieve
every beggar that you casually meet; yet should any one attract your
attention, obey the impulse of your heart, which will lead you to pay
them for exercising your compassion, and do not suffer the whispers of
selfishness, that they may be impostors, to deter you.  However, I would
have you give but a trifle when you are not certain the distress is real,
and reckon it given for pleasure.  I for my part would rather be deceived
five hundred times, than doubt once without reason.

They stopped at a small shop, Mrs. Mason always sought out such; for,
said she, I may help those who perhaps want assistance; bargains I never
seek, for I wish every one to receive the just value for their goods.

In the shop which they chanced to enter, they did not find the kind of
pocket-book that they had previously fixed on, and therefore wished
precipitately to leave it; but were detained by their more considerate
friend.  While they had been turning over the trinkets, the countenance
of the woman, who served them, caught her eye, and she observed her eager
manner of recommending the books.  You have given much unnecessary
trouble, said she, to the mistress of the shop; the books are better, and
more expensive than you intended to purchase, but I will make up the
deficiency.  A beam of pleasure enlivened the woman’s swollen eyes; and
Mrs. Mason, in the mild accents of compassion, said, if it is not an
impertinent question, will you tell me from what cause your visible
distress arises? perhaps I may have it in my power to relieve you.—The
woman burst into tears.—Indeed, Madam, you have already relieved me; for
the money you have laid out will enable me to procure some food for my
poor little grandchildren, and to send a meal to their poor father, who
is now confined for debt, though a more honest man never breathed.  Ah!
Madam, I little thought I should come to this—Yesterday his wife died,
poor soul!  I really believe things going so cross broke her heart.  He
has been in jail these five months; I could not manage the shop, or buy
what was proper to keep up the credit of it, so business has been
continually falling off; yet, if his debts were paid, he would now be
here, and we should have money in our pockets.  And what renders it more
provoking, the people who owe us most are very rich.  It is true, they
live in such a very high style, and keep such a number of horses and
servants, that they are often in want of money, and when they have it,
they mostly have some freak in their heads, and do not think of paying
poor trades-people.  At first we were afraid to ask for payment lest we
should lose their custom, and so it proved; when we did venture, forced
by necessity, they sent to other shops, without discharging our demand.

And, my dear Madam, this is not all my grief; my son, before his
misfortunes, was one of the most sober, industrious young men in London;
but now he is not like the same man.  He had nothing to do in the jail,
and to drive away care he learned to drink; he said it was a comfort to
forget himself, and he would add an oath—I never heard him swear till
then.  I took pains when he was a child to teach him his prayers, and he
rewarded me by being a dutiful son.  The case is quite altered now—he
seems to have lost all natural affection—he heeds not his mother’s
tears.—Her sobs almost suffocated her, as she strove to go on—He will
bring my grey hairs with sorrow to the grave—and yet I pity my poor boy,
he is shut up with such a number of profligate wretches, who laugh at
what is right.  Every farthing I send him he spends in liquor, and used
to make his poor wife pawn her clothes to buy him drink—she was happy to
die, it was well for her not to live to hear the babe she gave suck to
despise her!

A passion of tears relieved the sufferer, and she called her
grandchildren; these innocent babes, said she, I shall not be able to
keep them, they must go to the workhouse.  If the quality did but know
what they make us poor industrious people suffer—surely they would be
more considerate.

Mrs. Mason gave her something to supply her present wants, and promised
to call on her again before she left town.

They walked silently down two or three streets; I hope you have learned
to think, my dear girls, said Mrs. Mason, and that your hearts have felt
the emotions of compassion; need I make any comments on the situation of
the poor woman we have just left.  You perceive that those who neglect to
pay their debts, do more harm than they imagine; perhaps, indeed, some of
these very people do, what is called, a noble action, give away a large
sum, and are termed generous; nay, very probably, weep at a tragedy, or
when reading an affecting tale.  They then boast of their
sensibility—when, alas! neglecting the foundation of all virtue,
_justice_, they have occasioned exquisite distress;—led a poor wretch
into vice; heaped misery on helpless infancy, and drawn tears from the
aged widow.


Visit to a poor Family in London.—Idleness the Parent of
Vice.—Prodigality and Generosity incompatible.—The Pleasures of
Benevolence.—True and false Motives for saving.

After the impression which the story, and the sight of the family had
made, was a little worn off; Caroline begged leave to buy one toy, and
then another, till her money was quite gone.  When Mrs. Mason found it
was all expended, she looked round for an object in distress; a poor
woman soon presented herself, and her meagre countenance gave weight to
her tale.—A babe, as meagre, hung at her breast, which did not seem to
contain sufficient moisture to wet its parched lips.

On enquiry they found that she lodged in a neighbouring garret.  Her
husband had been out of employment a long time, and was now sick.  The
master who had formerly given him work, lost gradually great part of his
business; for his best customers were grown so fond of foreign articles,
that his goods grew old in the warehouse.  Consequently a number of hands
were dismissed, who not immediately finding employment elsewhere, were
reduced to the most extreme distress.  The truth of this account a
reputable shopkeeper attested; and he added that many of the unhappy
creatures, who die unpitied at the gallows, were first led into vice by
accidental idleness.

They ascended the dark stairs, scarcely able to bear the bad smells that
flew from every part of a small house, that contained in each room a
family, occupied in such an anxious manner to obtain the necessaries of
life, that its comforts never engaged their thoughts.  The precarious
meal was snatched, and the stomach did not turn, though the cloth, on
which it was laid, was died in dirt.  When to-morrow’s bread is
uncertain, who thinks of cleanliness?  Thus does despair increase the
misery, and consequent disease aggravate the horrors of poverty!

They followed the woman into a low garret, that was never visited by the
chearful rays of the sun.—A man, with a sallow complexion, and long
beard, sat shivering over a few cinders in the bottom of a broken grate,
and two more children were on the ground, half naked, near him, breathing
the same noxious air.  The gaiety natural to their age, did not animate
their eyes, half sunk in their sockets; and, instead of smiles, premature
wrinkles had found a place in their lengthened visages.  Life was nipped
in the bud; shut up just as it began to unfold itself.  ‘A frost, a
killing frost,’ had destroyed the parent’s hopes; they seemed to come
into the world only to crawl half formed,—to suffer, and to die.

Mrs. Mason desired the girls to relieve the family; Caroline hung down
her head abashed—wishing the paltry ornaments which she had thoughtlessly
bought, in the bottom of the sea.  Mary, meanwhile, proud of the new
privilege, emptied her purse; and Caroline, in a supplicating tone,
entreated Mrs. Mason to allow her to give her neck-handkerchief to the
little infant.

Mrs. Mason desired the woman to call on her the next day; and they left
the family cheered by their bounty.

Caroline expected the reproof that soon proceeded from the mouth of her
true friend.  I am glad that this accident has occurred, to prove to you
that prodigality and generosity are incompatible.  Economy and
self-denial are necessary in every station, to enable us to be generous,
and to act conformably to the rules of justice.

Mary may this night enjoy peaceful slumbers; idle Fancies, foolishly
indulged, will not float in her brain; she may, before she closes her
eyes, thank God, for allowing her to be His instrument of mercy.  Will
the trifles that you have purchased, afford you such heartfelt delight,

Selfish people save to gratify their own caprices and appetites; the
benevolent curb both, to give scope to the nobler feelings of the human
heart.  When we squander money idly, we defraud the poor, and deprive our
own souls of their most exalted food.  If you wish to be useful, govern
your desires, and wait not till distress obtrudes itself—search it out.
In the country it is not always attended with such shocking circumstances
as at present; but in large cities, many garrets contain families,
similar to those we have seen this afternoon.  The money spent in
indulging the vain wishes of idleness, and a childish fondness for pretty
things not regulated by reason, would relieve the misery that my soul
shrinks back from contemplating.

    [Picture: Economy and self-denial are necessary in every station]


Mrs. Mason’s farewell Advice to her young Friends.

The day before Mrs. Mason was to leave her pupils, she took a hand of
each, and pressing them tenderly in her own, tears started into her
eyes—I tremble for you, my dear girls, for you must now practise by
yourselves some of the virtues which I have been endeavouring to
inculcate; and I shall anxiously wait for the summer, to see what
progress you have made by yourselves.

We have conversed on several very important subjects; pray do not forget
the conclusions I have drawn.  I now, as my last present, give you a
book, in which I have written the subjects that we have discussed.  Recur
frequently to it, for the stories illustrating the instruction it
contains, you will not feel in such a great degree the want of my
personal advice.  Some of the reasoning you may not thoroughly
comprehend, but, as your understandings ripen, you will feel its full

Avoid anger; exercise compassion; and love truth.  Recollect, that from
religion your chief comfort must spring, and never neglect the duty of
prayer.  Learn from experience the comfort that arises from making known
your wants and sorrows to the wisest and best of Beings, in whose hands
are the issues, not only of this life, but of that which is to come.

Your father will allow you a certain stipend; you have already _felt_ the
pleasure of doing good; ever recollect that the wild pursuits of fancy
must be conquered, to enable you to gratify benevolent wishes, and that
you must practise economy in trifles to have it in your power to be
generous on great occasions.  And the good you intend to do, do
quickly;—for know that a trifling duty neglected, is a great fault, and
the present time only is at your command.

You are now candidates for my friendship, and on your advancement in
virtue my regard will in future depend.  Write often to me, I will
punctually answer your letters; but let me have the genuine sentiments of
your hearts.  In expressions of affection and respect, do not deviate
from truth to gain what you wish for, or to turn a period prettily.

Adieu! when you think of your friend, observe her precepts; and let the
recollection of my affection, give additional weight to the truths which
I have endeavoured to instill; and, to reward my care, let me hear that
you love and practice virtue.

                                * * * * *


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