Let others

I sincerely thank you for your affectionate letter, by the last post,
and for the book with which it was accompanied. The very title is
sufficient to rouse the feelings and attract the attention of the
patriotic mind. Beacon-Hill claims a conspicuous place in the history of
our country. The subject of this poem must be highly interesting to
every true American; while the genius it displays cannot fail to gratify
every poetical taste. Philenia’s talents justly entitle her to a rank
among the literary ornaments of Columbia.

I have been reviewing Millot’s Elements of Ancient and Modern History;
and recommend it to your re-perusal. It is undoubtedly the most useful
compendium extant. The tedious minuteness and prolix details of sieges
and battles, negotiations and treaties, which fatigue the reader and
oppress the memory in most works of the kind, are happily avoided in
this; while the elegance, simplicity, conciseness and perspicuity of the
style, render it intelligible to every capacity, and pleasing to every
taste. To those who have a relish for history, but want leisure to give
full scope, Millot is well calculated to afford both information and
entertainment. It is an objection, commonly made by our sex to studies
of this nature, that they are dry and elaborate; that they yield little
or no exercise to the more sprightly faculties of the mind; that the
attention is confined to an uninteresting and barren detail of facts,
while the imagination pants in vain for the flowery wreaths of
decoration.

This is a plausible excuse for those who read only for amusement, and
are willing to sacrifice reason, and the enlargement of their minds, to
the gaudy phantom of a day; but it can never be satisfactory to the
person, who wishes to combine utility with pleasure, and dignity with
relaxation.

History improves the understanding, and furnishes a knowledge of human
nature and human events, which may be useful as well as ornamental
through life. “History,” says the late celebrated Gauganelli, “brings
together all ages and all mankind in one point of view. Presenting a
charming landscape to the mental eye, it gives colour to the thoughts,
soul to the actions, and life to the dead; and brings them upon the
stage of the world, as if they were again living; but with this
difference, that it is not to flatter, but to judge them.”

The duties and avocations of our sex will not often admit of a close and
connected course of reading. Yet a general knowledge of the necessary
subjects may undoubtedly be gained even in our leisure hours; provided
we bestow them not on works of mere taste and fancy, but on the perusal
of books calculated to enrich the understanding with durable
acquisitions.

The sincerest wishes for your health and happiness glow in the breast of
your affectionate

Since I wrote you last, I have made an agreeable visit to my good friend
Sylvia Star. After rambling in the fields and gardens till we were
fatigued, we went into her brother’s library. He was in a studious
attitude, but gave us a polite reception. We are come, Amintor, said I.
Be so kind as to furnish us with some instructive page, which combines
entertainment and utility; and while it informs the mind, delights the
imagination. I am not happy enough to know your taste respecting books,
said he; and therefore, may not make a proper selection. Here, however,
is an author highly spoken of by a lady who has lately added to the
number of literary publications; handing me Sterne’s Sentimental
Journey. I closed and returned the book. You have, indeed, mistaken my
taste, said I. Wit, blended with indelicacy, never meets my approbation.
While the fancy is allured, and the passions awakened, by this pathetic
humourist, the foundations of virtue are insidiously undermined, and
modest dignity insensibly betrayed. Well, said he, smilingly, perhaps
you are seriously inclined. If so, this volume of sermons may possibly
please you. Still less, rejoined I. The serious mind must turn with
disgust from the levity which pervades these discourses, and from the
indecent flow of mirth and humour, which converts even the sacred
writings, and the most solemn subjects of religion, into frolic and
buffoonery. Since such is your opinion of this celebrated writer, said
he, I will not insult your feelings by offering you his Tristram Shandy.
But here is another wit, famous for his “purity.” Yes, said I, if
obscene and vulgar ideas, if ill-natured remarks and filthy allusions by
purity, Swift undoubtedly bears the palm from all his contemporaries. As
far as grammatical correctness and simplicity of language can deserve
the epithet, his advocates may enjoy their sentiments unmolested; but in
any other sense of the word, he has certainly no claim to “purity.” I
conceive his works, notwithstanding, to be much less pernicious in their
tendency, than those of Sterne. They are not so enchanting in their
nature, nor so subtle in their effects. In the one, the noxious
insinuations of licentious wit are concealed under the artful
blandishments of sympathetic sensibility; while we at once recoil from
the rude assault which is made upon our delicacy, by the roughness and
vulgarity of the other.

Choose then, said Amintor, for yourself. I availed myself of his offer,
and soon fixed my eyes upon Dr. Belknap’s History of New Hampshire, and
American Biography; both of which I have since read with the greatest
satisfaction.

By this judicious and impartial historian, we are led from its first
settlement to trace the progress of the infant colony. We accompany its
inhabitants in their enterprizes, their dangers, their toils, and their
successes. We take an interest in their prosperity; and we tremble at
the dreadful outrages of the barbarous foe. Our imagination is again
recalled to the gradual advance of population and agriculture. We behold
the wilderness blooming as the rose, and the haunts of savage beasts,
and more savage men, converted into fruitful fields and pleasant
habitations. The arts and sciences flourish; peace and harmony are
restored; and we are astonished at the amazing contrast, produced in
little more than a century.

When we return to the American Biography, gratitude glows in our bosoms
towards those intrepid and active adventurers, who traversed a trackless
ocean, explored an unknown region, and laid the foundation of empire and
independence in this western hemisphere. The undaunted resolution, and
cool, determined wisdom of Columbus, fill us with profound admiration.
We are constrained to pay a tribute of just applause to the generosity
of a female mind exemplified in Isabella, who, to surmount every
obstacle, nobly consented to sacrifice even her personal ornaments to
the success of this glorious expedition.

The daring spirit of Captain Smith, and the prudence, policy and
magnanimity of his conduct to the treacherous natives, and to his
equally treacherous and ungrateful countrymen, exhibit an example of
patriotism and moderation, which at once commands our applause, and
interests our feelings. While we tremble and recoil at his dreadful
situation, when bending his neck to receive the murderous stroke of
death, the native virtues of our sex suddenly reanimate our frame; and
with sensations of rapture, we behold compassion, benevolence, and
humanity, triumphant even in a savage breast; and conspicuously
displayed in the conduct of the amiable though uncivilized Pocahontas!
Nor are the other characters in this work uninteresting; and I am happy
to find that the same masterly pen is still industriously employed for
the public good;[6] and that a second volume of American Biography is
now in press.

Footnote 6:

How vain are our expectations! While the types were setting for this
very page, Dr. Belknap suddenly expired in a fit.—_Printer._

In reviewing this letter, I am astonished at my own presumption, in
undertaking to play the critic. My imagination has outstripped my
judgment; but I will arrest its career, and subscribe myself most
affectionately yours.

I retired, after breakfast this morning, determined to indulge myself in
my favorite amusement, and write you a long letter. I had just mended my
pen and folded my paper, when I was informed that three ladies waited
for me in the parlor. I stepped down and found Lucinda P——, Flavia F——,
and Delia S——. They were gaily dressed, and still more gaily disposed.
“We called,” said they, “to invite you, Miss Maria, to join our party
for a shopping tour.” Loath to have the ideas dissipated, which I had
collected in my pericranium, for the purpose of transmitting to a
beloved sister, I declined accepting their invitation; alleging that I
had no occasion to purchase any thing to day; and therefore begged to be
excused from accompanying them. They laughed at my reason for not
engaging in the expedition. “Buying,” said their principal speaker, “is
no considerable part of our plan, I assure you. Amusement is what we are
after. We frankly acknowledge it a delightful gratification of our
vanity, to traverse Cornhill, to receive the obsequious congees, and to
call forth the gallantry and activity of the beaux, behind the counter;
who, you must know, are extremely alert when we belles appear. The
waving of our feathers, and the attractive airs we assume, command the
profoundest attention, both of master and apprentices; who, duped by our
appearance, suffer less brilliant customers to wait, or even to depart
without notice, till we have tumbled over and refused half the goods in
the shop. We then bid a very civil adieu; express our regret at having
given so much trouble; are assured in return that it has been rather a
pleasure; and leave them their trouble for their pains.”

A most insignificant amusement this, said I to myself! How little can it
redound to the honor and happiness of these unthinking girls, thus to
squander their time in folly’s giddy maze! They undoubtedly wish to
attract eclat; but they would do well to remember those words of the
satirist, which, with the alteration of a single term, may be applied to
them.

“Columbia’s daughters, much more fair than nice,
Too fond of admiration, lose their price!
Worn in the public eye, give cheap delight
To throngs, and tarnish to the sated sight.”

Viewing their conduct in this light, I withstood their solicitations,
though I palliated my refusal in such a manner as to give no umbrage.

Of all expedients to kill time, this appears to me, as I know it will to
you, the most ridiculous and absurd.

What possible satisfaction can result from such a practice? It certainly
fatigues the body; and is it any advantage to the mind? Does it enlarge
the understanding, inspire useful ideas, or furnish a source of pleasing
reflection? True, it may gratify a vitiated imagination, and exhilarate
a light and trifling mind. But these ought to be restrained and
regulated by reason and judgment, rather than indulged.

I wish those ladies, who make pleasure the supreme object of their
pursuit, and argue in vindication of their conduct, that

“Pleasure is good, and they for pleasure made,”

would confine themselves to that species which

“Neither blushes nor expires.”

The domestic virtues, if duly cultivated, might certainly occupy those
hours, which they are now solicitous to dissipate, both with profit and
delight. “But it is time enough to be domesticated,” say they, “when we
are placed at the head of families, and necessarily confined to care and
labor.”

Should not the mind, however, be seasonably inured to the sphere of life
which Providence assigns us?

“To guide the pencil, turn th’ instructive page;
To lend new flavor to the fruitful year,
And heighten nature’s dainties; in their race
To rear their graces into second life;
To give society its highest taste;
Well-ordered home man’s beet delight to make;
And, by submissive wisdom, modest skill,
With every gentle care eluding art,
To raise the virtues, animate the bliss,
And sweeten all the toils of human life;
This be the female dignity and praise.”

A proper attention to these necessary duties and embellishments, would
not only correct this rambling disposition, but happily leave neither
leisure nor temptation for its indulgence.

I intended to have given you some account of my agreeable visit here;
but the chit-chat of the ladies I have mentioned, has occupied a large
portion of my time this morning, and an engagement to dine abroad claims
the rest.

I hope soon to embrace you in our beloved retirement, and again to enjoy
the sweets of my native home.

“Had I the choice of sublunary good,
What could I wish that I possess not there?
Health, leisure, means t’ improve it, friendship, peace.”

My most dutiful affections await mamma; and my kind regards attend the
young ladies residing with her. How great a share of my ardent love is
at your command, need not be renewedly testified.

The extracts which you transmitted to me in your last letter, my dear
Sophia, from your favorite author, Dr. Young, corresponded exactly with
the solemnity infused into my mind by the funeral of a neighbor, from
which I had just returned.

I agree with you that the Night-Thoughts are good devotional exercises.
It is impossible to read them with that degree of attention which they
merit, without being affected by the important and awful subjects on
which they treat. But Young, after all, is always too abstruse, and in
many instances too gloomy for me. The most elaborate application is
necessary to the comprehension of his meaning and design; which when
discovered often tend rather to depress than to elevate the spirits.

Thompson is much better adapted to my taste. Sentiment, elegance,
perspicuity and sublimity are all combined in his Seasons. What an
inimitable painter! How admirably he describes the infinitely variegated
beauties and operations of nature! To the feeling and susceptible heart
they are presented in the strongest light. Nor is the energy of his
language less perceivable, when he describes the Deity riding on the
wings of the wind, and directing the stormy tempest.

“How chang’d the scene! In blazing height of noon,
The sun oppress’d, is plunged in thickest gloom,
Still horror reigns, a dismal twilight round,
Of struggling night and day malignant mix’d,
Far to the hot equator crowding fast,
Where highly rarefy’d, the yielding air,
Admits their stream, incessant vapours roll,
Amazing clouds on clouds continual heap’d;
Or whirl’d tempestuous by the gusty wind,
Or silent, borne along, heavy and slow,
With the big stores of streaming oceans charg’d:
Meantime, amid these upper sea’s condens’d
Around the cold aerial mountain’s brow,
And by conflicting winds together dash’d,
The thunder holds his black tremendous throne,
From cloud to cloud the rending lightnings rage;
Till in the furious elemental war
Dissolve the whole precipitated mass,
Unbroken floods and torrents pours.”

Conscious of our own weakness and dependence, we can hardly fail to
adore and to fear that Divine Power, whose agency this imagery exhibits
to our minds. Nor are the devout affections of our hearts less excited,
when we behold the same glorious Being arrayed in love, and
accommodating the regular succession of summer and winter, seed time and
harvest to our convenience and comfort. When nature, obedient to his
command, revives the vegetable world, and diffuses alacrity and joy
throughout the animal, and even rational creation, we involuntarily
exclaim with the

“HAIL, SOURCE OF BEING! UNIVERSAL SOUL
Of heaven and earth! ESSENTIAL PRESENCE, hail!
To THEE I bend the knee; to THEE my thoughts
Continual climb; who, with a master hand,
Hast the great whole into perfection touch’d.
By THEE various vegetative tribes,
Wrapt in a filmy net and clad with leaves,
Draw the live ether, and imbibe the dew.
By THEE disposed into cogenial foils,
Stands each attractive plant, and sucks, and swells
The juicy tide; a twining mass of tubes.
At THY command, the vernal sun awakes
The torpid sap, detruded to the root
By wintry winds; which now in fluent dance,
And lively fermentation, mounting spreads
All this inumerous-colour’d scene of things.”

Aided in our observations by this pathetic and pious writer, our hearts
beat responsive to the sentiments of gratitude, which he indirectly, yet
most forcibly inculcates in that devout address to the Supreme Parent:

“——Were every faltering tongue of man,
Almighty Father! silent in thy praise,
Thy works themselves would raise a general voice,
Even in the depth of solitary woods,
By human foot untrod: proclaim the power,
And to the quire celestial Thee resound,
Th’ eternal cause, support, and End of all!”

By this beautiful poem we are allured to the study of nature, and to the
contemplation of nature’s God. Our hearts glow with devotion and love to
the sovereign Lord and benefactor of the universe; and we are drawn, by
the innumerable displays of his goodness, to the practice of virtue and
religion.

You may, possibly call me an enthusiast. Be it so. Yet I contend for the
honor, but especially for the privilege, of being a cheerful one. For I
think we dishonor our heavenly father by attaching any thing gloomy or
forbidding to his character. In this participation of divine blessings,
let us rather exercise a thankful, and contented disposition.

I remain your’s most affectionately.

By her desire in conjunction with my own inclination, I inform you that
Harriot Henly, is no more——Yesterday she gave her hand, and renounced
her name together; threw aside the sprightly girl we have been so long
accustomed to admire, and substituted in her place the dignified and
respectable head of a family, in Mrs. Farmington.

Have I not lost my amiable friend and associate! Will not her change of
situation tend to lessen our intercourse, and alienate our affections?

When I contemplate the social circle, so firmly cemented in the bands of
friendship, at the boarding school, where the most perfect harmony, ease
and satisfaction presided, I recoil at the idea of becoming less dear,
less interesting, and less necessary to each other. It is with the
utmost reluctance that I admit the idea of rivals to that affection and
benevolence which we have, so long, and so sincerely interchanged.

The charm however is broken. Harriot is already married; and my friends
are extremely solicitous that I should follow her example. But in a
connexion which requires so many precautions, before it is formed, and
such uninterrupted circumspection and prudence afterwards; the great
uncertainty of the event inspires me with timidity and apprehension.

Harriot put into my hands, and I read with pleasure, the book which you
recommended to her on the subject. But still we wished for your
instruction and advice. The sentiments of a person so dear and
interesting to us, are particularly calculated to engage our attention,
and influence our conduct. Relying, too, on your judgment and
experience, your forming pen may render us more worthy objects of
attachment.

We, however, unite in assuring you of our gratitude for all past
favours; and in presenting our sincere regards to the young ladies.

I am, with great respect, your affectionate and grateful

The obligations under which you lay me, by your generous confidence, and
affectionate expressions of regard, induce me again to assume the
Preceptress towards you, and to gratify your wishes, by imparting my
sentiments on your present situation and prospects.

I am told by my daughter, who had the honor of bearing your letter, that
you are what I always expected you would be, an object of general
admiration. Yet, I trust, your good sense will enable you duly to
distinguish and treat the several candidates for your favor.

It is, indeed, my young friend, a matter of the most serious
consequence, which lies upon your mind, and awakens your anxiety. Your
friends are studious of your welfare, and kindly concerned that the
important die on which the happiness of your life depends, should be
judiciously cast. You doubtless remember, that I discoursed upon this
subject in my concluding lessons to your class.

Disparity of tempers, among other things which were then suggested, and
which you will doubtless recollect, was represented, as tending to
render life uncomfortable. But there are other disparities which may be
equally hostile to your peace.

Disparity of years is very apt to occasion the indulgence of passions
destructive of conjugal felicity. The great difference between the
sprightly vivacity, and enterprise of youth, and the deliberate caution,
phlegmatic coldness, and sententious wisdom of age render them very
unpleasant companions to each other. Marriage between persons of these
opposite descriptions is commonly the result of pecuniary motives, with
one party, at least: the suspicion of this, in the other, must
necessarily produce discontent, uneasiness, and disaffection.

Age is naturally jealous of respect, and apprehensive of being slighted.
The most trifling and unmeaning inattentions will therefore be construed
amiss. For an excessive desire of being objects of supreme regard is
almost invariably accompanied with a strong persuasion of being the
reverse. Hence accusations, reproaches and restraints, on the one side,
produce disgust, resentment and alienation on the other, till mutual and
unceasing wretchedness ensue. Indeed, where interest alone, without this
inequality of years, is the principal inducement, marriage is seldom
happy. Esteem and love are independent of wealth and its appendages.
They are not to be sold or bought. The conjugal relation is so near and
interesting, the mind as well as the person is so intimately concerned
in it, that something more substantial and engaging than gold is
requisite to make it a blessing.

Marriage, being the commencement of a domestic life, beside the many
agreeable circumstances attending it, has its peculiar cares and
troubles which require the solace of a companion actuated by better
principles, and possessed of more amiable endowments than outward
splendor and magnificence can afford. In the hour of sickness and
distress, riches it is true, can bestow bodily comforts and cordials;
but can they be made an equivalent for the tender sympathy, the
endearing kindness, and the alleviating attention of a bosom friend,
kindly assiduous to ease our pains, animate our prospects, and beguile
the languid moments which elude all other consolations? The sorrows as
well as the joys of a family state, are often such as none but a bosom
friend can participate. The heart must be engaged before it can repose
with ease and confidence. To a lady of sensibility, the confinement of
the body, without the consent and union of according minds, must be a
state of inexpressible wretchedness.

Another situation, not less to be deplored, is a connexion with the
immoral and profane.

How shocking must it be, to hear that sacred NAME, which you revere and
love, constantly treated with levity and irreverence! And how painful
the necessity of being constrained, for the sake of peace, to witness in
silence, and without even the appearance of disapprobation, the most
shameful outrages upon religion and virtue! May you never taste the
bitterness of this evil.

Intemperance is a vice, which one would imagine no lady would overlook
in a suitor. But, strange to tell! there are those even among our own
sex, who think and speak of inebriation in the other, at the jovial and
well furnished board, as a mark of conviviality and good fellowship.

How degrading and how dreadful must this enormity appear to an
interested, affectionate and virtuous wife! What agonizing pangs of
mortification and anguish must she endure, when she meets him, in whose
society she delights; whose return she has anticipated with impatience,
and whose happiness and honor are the moving springs of her life,
intoxicated with wine; the powers of his mind suspended by the poisonous
cup, and every faculty absorbed in the deadly draught! What a perpetual
source of dread and apprehension must hence arise; and how often must
the blush of indignant virtue and wounded delicacy be called forth.

The gamester is an equally dangerous companion. His family is robbed,
not only of his company and his talents, but of that property, to the
benefit of which they have an indisputable claim. His earnings are
squandered among worthless and profligate associates abroad; while the
fruitful partner of his life, and perhaps, too, a rising offspring,
languish at home for want of bread!

How fatal is the tendency of such examples! How can that father
inculcate the duties of piety, virtue and decency, who exhibits the
reverse of each in his own conduct? And under what an unspeakable
disadvantage, must that mother labor, in the instruction and education
of her children, whose admonitions, counsels, and directions are
practically counteracted by him who ought to bear an equal share of the
burden! The government and superintendence of a family are objects of
such magnitude and importance, that the union and co-operation of its
heads are indispensably necessary. It is a little commonwealth; and if
internal feuds and dissentions arise, anarchy and confusion must ensue.

Domestic happiness is the foundation of every other species. At times,
indeed, we may enjoy ourselves abroad, among our friends—but a good
heart will return home, as to the seat of felicity.

“——Home is the resort
Of love, of joy, of peace and plenty, where
Supporting and supported, polish’d friends
And dear relations mingle into bliss.”

Since so much, then, depends upon a judicious choice, how important is
it, that you examine well before you decide; and that you dispense with
no quality in the man to whom you shall give your hand, which is
essential to the virtue and happiness of your life. For this purpose,
consult your judgment rather than your fancy; and suffer not superficial
accomplishments, but solid merit to preponderate.

I have now endeavored to point out the most apparent and threatening
dangers to which you may be exposed. But though these are avoided, many
unforeseen accidents will doubtless occur to cloud your sanguine hopes.
These, when there are no vices to produce them, may arise from follies,
and from the indulgence of erroneous expectations. Little
misunderstandings sometimes occasion disagreements which terminate in
coldness and disaffection, and plant a root of bitterness which can
hardly be eradicated.

Let prudence, therefore, be your pole-star, when you enter the married
state. Watch with the greatest circumspection over yourself; and always
exercise the tenderest affection, the most unwearied patience, and the
most cheerful acquiescence in the treatment of your companion. Guard
especially against being affected by those little inattentions and
foibles, which too often give pain and umbrage without design; and
produce those remonstrances, criminations, and retorts, which are the
great inlets of strife, and bane of love.

You must bear with calmness, every thing that the sincerest desire of
peace can dictate; and studiously avoid every expression, and even look,
which may irritate and offend. Your own happiness, you will consider so
intimately connected with that of your husband, as to be inseparable;
and consequently, that all your hopes of comfort in this life, and
perhaps too, in the next, depend upon your conducting with propriety and
wisdom towards him.

I take the liberty, through you, to convey my congratulations to Mrs.
Farmington. May her change of condition be happy, to the full extent of
our most sanguine expectations, and benevolent wishes. I fully intended
writing her on the subject, but having unwarily bestowed so much time
upon you, that for the present, I must forego the pleasure. Some things
in this letter, which you will doubtless communicate, are applicable to
her case. These she will receive as friendly hints from me; and I am
confident that her known discretion will continue to shed a benign and
engaging influence upon her whole deportment and render her uniformly
respected and beloved.

The bearer is waiting, and I can only add, that I remain your sincere
and affectionate friend.

The pleasing hope with which you inspired me, when we parted last, of
receiving a visit from you in town, has been constantly cherished. I
have anticipated your arrival with the utmost impatience; but have
endeavored, notwithstanding, to beguile the slow-paced hours by a useful
and pleasing occupation; the revision of my geographical studies.

My papa has kindly procured me Doctor Morse’s last and much improved
edition of Universal Geography, which with the assistance of a pair of
globes he possessed, has afforded me the most delightful entertainment.
When at school, I thought this the most agreeable study allotted me;
never deeming it a task, but an amusement.

It affords me, as it must every true American, the sincerest pleasure to
be furnished with the means of acquiring this favorite science, by my
own countryman; and the spirit of Columbian independence exults in my
bosom, at the idea of being able to gain an accurate acquaintance with
my own and other countries, without recourse to the labors of
foreigners.

I think the present generation are under special obligations to the
active industry of Dr. Morse, in providing us with that necessary and
rich fund of information, which his Geography and Gazeteer contain. From
these sources we may derive a sufficient knowledge of the world we
inhabit, without departing from our domestic sphere.

Come then, my dear Cleora, and without fatigue or expense, we will make
the tour of the globe together. After investigating the local situation
of different and distant climes, we will turn to the historic page, and
examine the manners, government, character and improvements of their
inhabitants. We will traverse the frozen wastes of the frigid zones, and
the burning sands of the equatorial region; then return and bless the
temperate and happy medium in which we are placed; and casting an eye
around, exult in our peculiar advantages of soil and situation, peace
and good government, virtue and religion.

The fine mornings of this season afford many delightful hours, before
the heat of the day relaxes the mind and enervates the body. Come, then,
enjoy and improve these, in concert with your faithful and affectionate
friend,

Last Thursday, after having concluded the usual occupations and
sedentary amusements of the day, I walked out, towards evening, to enjoy
the benefit of a cool and fragrant air, and the serenity and beauty of
those rural scenes which have a powerful tendency to soothe and
tranquillize the mind. When I had rambled in the fields to a
considerable distance, I crossed into the road, to return home free from
the inconvenience of the dew, which had begun to fall.

I had not proceeded far, when I observed a female, who had the
appearance of youth and misfortune, sitting by the wall in a pensive
attitude, with an infant in her lap. When I approached her, she arose,
and in the most humble and pathetic accents, besought me to direct her
to some shelter, where she might repose her weary limbs for the night.
The aspect and language of distress awakened my compassion. To know she
really needed charity, was a sufficient inducement with me to bestow it,
without scrupulously inquiring whether she deserved it or not. I
therefore told her to follow me, and I would conduct her to a lodging.

As we walked on, I questioned her respecting the place of her nativity,
her parentage, and the reason of her being reduced to the situation in
which I had found her. She informed me that she was born in Ireland:
that her parents brought her into this country before her remembrance;
that while she was very young, they both died, and left her to the
protection and mercy of strangers; that she was bandied one from
another, in the village where Providence had cast her lot, till she was
able to earn her own living: “and since that time,” said she, “I believe
the character of an honest and industrious girl will not be refused me.”
How then, said I, came you by this incumbrance? pointing to the child.
“In that,” replied she, “I am very guilty. Brought up in ignorance of
those principles of decency, virtue, and religion, which have kept you
innocent, Madam, I was ruined by a deceitful man, who, under the mask of
love, and with the most solemn promises of marriage, betrayed my
confidence, and left me to reap the bitter fruits of my credulity. The
woman where I lived, when she discovered my situation, ordered me to
leave her house immediately. It was no matter, said she, how much I
suffered, or what became of me. On my own head, she told me, my iniquity
should fall; she would not lighten the burden, if it were in her power.

“Some of the neighbors informed me, that she had reason to be severe
upon my fault, being once in the same condemnation herself.

“Having no friend who could assist me, I applied to the selectmen of the
town, who provided for me till I was able to work, and then told me I
must shift for myself; offering, however, to keep the child, which I
refused, being determined that it should never suffer for want of a
mother’s care, while I had life.

“I am now wandering in pursuit of employment, that the labor of my hands
may support myself and little one. This has been often denied me, either
for fear my child should be troublesome, or because my character was
suspected. I have sometimes suffered so much from fatigue and want, that
I have despaired of relief, and heartily wished both myself and babe in
the grave.”

On examination, I found her knowledge confined entirely to domestic
drudgery; that she had never been taught either to read or write. She
appears, notwithstanding, to have good natural sense; and a quickness of
apprehension, and readiness of expression, seldom equalled in her sphere
of life.

I conducted her into the kitchen, and desired she might have supper and
a bed provided for her. My mamma, whose benevolent heart and liberal
hand are always ready to relieve the necessitous, was pleased to approve
my conduct; and having kept her through the next day, and observed her
disposition and behaviour, hired her as a servant; and we have reason to
believe, from her apparent fidelity and grateful exertions, that our
kindness will be well repaid. I have even extended my charity further,
and undertaken to teach her to read. She is very tractable; and I expect
to be amply rewarded for my labor, by her improvements.

Indeed, Matilda, it is melancholy to see our fellow-creatures reared up,
like the brute creation; neither instructed how to live above their
animal appetites, nor how to die as Christians, when they have finished
their toilsome career!

This girl is only seventeen. Her age, therefore, as well as her docility
and submissiveness, encourage the pleasing hope of restoring her to the
paths of rectitude and peace. I shall endeavor, as opportunity offers,
to instil into her susceptible mind, the principles of virtue and
religion; and, perhaps, I may lead her to the love and practice of both,
and render her a useful member of society. Her fate impresses more
forcibly than ever, on my mind, the importance of a good education, and
the obligations it confers. Had you or I been subjected to the same
ignorance, and the same temptations, who can say that we should have
conducted better? How many fall for want of the directing hand of that
parental love and friendship, with which we are blessed! Contrasting our
situation with hers, how much have we to account for, and how
inexcusable shall we be, if we violate our duty, and forfeit our
dignity, as reasonable creatures.

That extreme bitterness and acrimony, which is sometimes indulged
against persons who are unhappily seduced from the way of virtue, may
operate as a discouragement to all designs and endeavors to regain it;
whereas, the soothing voice of forgiveness, and the consequent prospect
of being restored to reputation and usefulness, might rouse the
attention, and call forth the exertions of some, at least, who through
despair of retrieving their characters, abandon themselves to vice, and
adopt a course, alike disgraceful to their sex, and to human nature.

But though I advocate the principles of philanthropy and Christian
charity, as extending to some very special cases, I am far from
supposing this fault generally capable of the least extenuation.
Whatever allowance may be made for those, whose ignorance occasions
their ruin, no excuse can be offered for others, whose education, and
opportunities for knowing the world and themselves, have taught them a
better lesson.

I need not, however, be at the pains to enforce this truth upon you:
and, as my head is so full of the subject, that I have no disposition to
write upon any thing else, I will put an end to this incoherent scroll,
by annexing the name of your sincere and faithful friend,

Happening to be in my chamber, this morning, the maid came running up
stairs in such violent haste, as to put herself fairly out of breath.
Will you be so kind, Miss Sophia, said she, as to lend me a quarter of a
dollar? I put my hand into my pocket, and found I had no small change. I
have nothing less than a dollar, Susan, said I; but if it is a matter of
consequence to you, I will go to my mamma, and procure it for you. She
was loath to give me that trouble; but, if I would, it would really
oblige her very much indeed. Her solicitude excited my curiosity. Will
you inform me what you want it for? said I. O yes; she believed it was
no harm—But there was a woman in the wood-house who told fortunes; and
she wished to know hers, but could not without the money. A woman who
tells fortunes! said I. What fortunes? the past or the future? The
future, to be sure, Ma’am, replied she. Ay, how does she know them? said
I. Has she been let into the secret designs of Providence? or can she
divine the mysteries of fate? She tells fortunes by cards, Ma’am, said
she; and I really believe she tells true. Can you imagine, said I, that
a knowledge of your destiny in life, is to be gained from any possible
arrangement of a pack of cards? Why not Ma’am? Many people have been
told exactly what was to happen. You may depend on it, Susan, said I,
you are deceived. The Almighty who disposes all events according to his
sovereign pleasure, does not unveil futurity to mortals, especially to
such mortals, who by an idle, vicious course of life, counteract his
laws, and disregard his authority. I would willingly give you the money,
twice told, if you needed it; but I cannot consent to your being imposed
on by this worthless vagrant, who has no other design than to pick your
pocket.

The girl departed at these words; and though I felt an emotion of regret
at refusing to gratify her, yet my reason and conscience forbad my being
accessary to the fraud.

This curiosity to explore the hidden counsels of the Most High, prevails
not only among servants, but even many from whom better things might be
expected, are under its infatuating influence.

The Supreme Being has, for wise and benevolent reasons, concealed from
us the future incidents of our lives. A humble reliance on his power and
goodness, accompanied with a cheerful submission to the dispensations of
his providence, is what the Lord our God requireth of us.

I have heard my mamma relate an anecdote of a particular friend of hers,
who was imposed on very seriously in this way.

A gentleman, whom I shall call Sylvander, was very deeply in love with
her; but his person, and, much more, his disposition and manners, were
extremely disgusting to her. Averse to the very idea of a connexion with
him, she accordingly refused his addresses. Yet he had art sufficient to
interest her friends in his behalf; who, pitying his situation,
endeavored to soften the heart of the obdurate fair. But in vain they
strove to conciliate her affections.

In defiance of all opposition, however, he intruded his visits, till she
reluctantly admitted them; and being somewhat coquetish, she at times
received him more benignly; which flattered his hopes of ultimately
accomplishing his wishes. Finding his ardent suit of but little avail,
and perceiving that he made but small progress towards gaining her
favor, he had recourse to art. Surprising her one day in close
confabulation with a fortune-teller, the idea immediately struck him,
that he might effect, through this mean, what all his assiduity and
solicitations could never insure. He communicated his plan to a female
friend, who was equally the confident of both parties. Directed by him,
she conversed with Sylvia on the subject; professed her belief in the
skill of these jugglers; and appeared desirous of taking this measure to
learn her fate. Sylvia joined in her opinion and wishes; and away they
tripped together on the important errand. Meanwhile, Sylvander had been
to the fellow who was to reveal their destinies? and, bribing him to
favor the design, left him instructed what answers to make to their
interrogations.

They arrived and proposed their business. The mediums of information, a
pack of cards, were brought forth, and mysteriously arranged. Sylvia’s
curiosity was on tip-toe. She listened with profound attention to his
oracular wisdom; and believed him really inspired when he told her that
her former lover, for-whom she had a great regard, was gone to a foreign
country. This she knew to be true and therefore gave him a full
credence, when he added, that he would never live to return; and when he
proceeded still further to observe that another gentleman of great merit
now courted her; that she was not fond of his addresses, but would soon
see his worth and her own error, and give him her hand, and be happy.

In short, he so artfully blended the past and present, which she knew,
with the future which Sylvander wished, and had therefore dictated, that
she was firmly persuaded that he dealt with some invisible power, and
that fate had indeed predestined her to the arms of Sylvander. Convinced
of this, she attended to his overtures more placidly, contemplated his
person and endowments with less aversion, and endeavored to reconcile
herself to the unavoidable event.

This she effected; and not long after, he obtained her in marriage, and
triumphed in the success of his duplicity.

In process of time her other lover returned. Disappointment and despair
presided in his breast. He saw Sylvia, upbraided her with her
inconstancy, and declared himself utterly ruined. Pity and returning
love operated in her mind, and rendered her completely wretched. She
most severely condemned her own folly, in listening to the dictates of a
misguided curiosity; and acknowledged herself justly punished, for
presuming to pry in the secret designs of Heaven.

These strolling pretenders to foreknowledge are peculiarly dangerous to
the weak-minded and credulous part of the community; and how it happens
that they are encouraged, is to me inconceivable. Did they actually give
the information they promise, how much reason should we have to avoid
them! How many sources of grief would be opened, by the anticipation of
future evils, of which now we have no apprehension! and how often should
we be deprived of the consolatory hope of a speedy deliverance from
present sufferings.

With every sentiment of respect and affection, I am most sincerely
yours.

A most melancholy and distressing event has spread a gloom over the face
of the metropolis. Every heart heaves the sympathetic sigh, and every
eye drops the tear of regret. The very sudden death of Doctor Clarke,
who was seized with an apoplectic fit, in the midst of his sermon,
yesterday afternoon, and expired this morning, is a subject of universal
lamentation.

Not only we, who had the happiness to sit under his ministry, and to
enjoy his particular friendship and attention, but the whole town; and,
indeed, the public at large have sustained a great loss in his
departure. Amiable in his disposition, engaging in his manners, and
benevolent in his whole deportment, he conciliated the affections of
every class. His talents as a scholar, philosopher, and divine,
commanded the respect of the most judicious and learned; while the
elegance, perspicuity and delicacy of his style, joined with the
undissembled seriousness of his manner, rendered him uniformly
acceptable to the devout. In every condition and relation of life, he
was exemplary as a Christian; and as a preacher, an air of persuasion
invariably accompanied him, which arrested the attention of the most
heedless auditors.

——“By him, in strains as sweet
As angels use, the gospel whisper’d peace.
Grave, simple and sincere: in language plain:
And plain in manner. Decent, solemn, chaste
And natural in gesture. Much impress’d
Himself as conscious of his awful charge,
And anxious mainly that the flock he fed
Might feel it too. Affectionate in look,
And tender in address, as well becomes
A messenger of grace to guilty men.”

He was particularly attractive to young people. While he charmed their
ear, he convinced their understanding and excited them to the love and
practice of virtue.

A striking example of this occurred some years ago, which I will take
the liberty to relate. He preached in a neighboring church on these
words, “She that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.”[7] In
this discourse he painted those allurements of pleasure which surround
the young and gay; more especially of our sex, in the most just and
lively colours. He represented, in pathetic, engaging and refined
language, the snares to which they are exposed, and the most probable
means of escaping them. He exhibited with all their attractions, the
native charms of virtue, and portrayed vice in its true deformity. He
described in the most animating terms, the respectability, usefulness,
and happiness of those who undeviatingly adhere to the path of rectitude
and innocence; and with the most energetic and affectionate tenderness,
warned the youth to avoid the devious walks of vice and dissipation.

Footnote 7:

1 Timothy, v. 6.

A number of young ladies, who had been his hearers, happening to be
together in the evening, united in the wish to express their gratitude
to him; but not having a personal acquaintance with him, could devise no
better method than writing.

The following anonymous letter was accordingly penned by one of the
company, and privately conveyed to the Doctor, at the request of all.

* * * * *

BOSTON.

“REVEREND SIR,

“The well known candour of your disposition, and your apparent zeal for
the promotion of religion and virtue, embolden us to flatter ourselves
that you will pardon this method of conveying to you our sincere and
united thanks for your very seasonable, judicious, and useful discourse,
delivered last Sunday morning, at our meeting.

“It is much to be lamented, that the depravity of the age is such, as to
render sermons of this nature just and necessary; and it is almost
matter of equal regret, that we have so seldom opportunities of being
benefitted by them.

“That we oftener hear than receive instruction, is a truth which can
neither be denied or evaded; and can only be accounted for, by that
passionate fondness for pleasure, which prevails to such a degree of
enthusiasm, as to precipitate its votaries into whatever presents itself
under this deluding aspect, without considering whether it be durable or
fleeting.

“It is certainly a most humiliating reflection, that our sex (which is
the female) should ever take more pains to gain the qualifications of
agreeable triflers than of rational friends; or be more anxious to
become amusing, than useful companions. But sir, does not such conduct
in ladies too often receive the most flattering encouragement from the
gentlemen? How seldom is intrinsic merit distinguished; and the serious,
prudent female preferred even by those who style themselves men of sense
and penetration, to the airy, flaunting coquette!

“The constant attention which is paid to those who make the gayest
appearance, and the applause which is lavished upon her who has the
largest portion of external graces and fashionable embellishments,
induce many who entertain the good natured desire of pleasing to bestow
more of their time and care on the cultivation of those superficial
accomplishments, which they find necessary to render them acceptable to
most circles in which they fall, than upon the acquisition of those
substantial virtues which they daily see neglected and ridiculed; though
at the same time, perhaps they are convinced of the superior
satisfaction which the latter would afford.

“But it is needless for one sex to criminate the other. We allow, that,
generally speaking, they are equally to blame. In this instance,
however, as the male assume the prerogative of superior judgment and
intellectual abilities, they ought to prove the justice of their claim
by setting nobler examples, and by endeavoring to reform whatever tends
to vitiate the taste and corrupt the morals of society.

“Yet, after all, the evil cannot be effectually remedied, but by the
concurrent exertions of both; and we are humbly of opinion, that if this
reformation were more frequently inculcated from the pulpit, in the
delicate, engaging and pious manner of the discourse which now excites
our gratitude to you, and our resolutions to conduct accordingly, it
would be efficacious in bringing about so desirable an event.

“We entreat your pardon, Reverend Sir, for the freedom, prolixity, and
errors of this epistle.

“Though personally unknown to you, we doubt not you will readily grant
it, when we assure you, that we are actuated by a sincere regard to the
interests of religion and morality, and by a grateful sense of your
exertions in the glorious cause.

“The united sentiments of a number of young ladies, who heard and
admired your sermon, last Sunday morning, are expressed above.

Rev. JOHN CLARKE.”

It is much to be regretted that Doctor Clarke did not publish more of
his literary labours.

The universal approbation bestowed upon those, which he suffered to see
the light, is an unequivocal evidence of his merit, as an author. His
“Letters to a Student in the University of Cambridge,” are written in a
most pleasing style, and contain instruction and advice of which no
person in pursuit of a public education ought to be ignorant. His
“Answer to the question, Why are you a Christian?” which has already had
three editions in Boston, and three in England, is one of the best
compendiums of the external and internal evidences of our holy religion,
extant. It is plain and intelligible to the lowest capacity and may
enable every one, without much study, to give a reason for the hope that
is in him.

From these specimens we may form an opinion of what the world has lost
by his early exit.

I shall make no other apology for the length of this letter, than the
interest which I feel in the subject; and this, I am persuaded, you will
deem sufficient.

My affectionate regards wait on your mamma and sister, while I subscribe
myself yours most sincerely,

The shortness of time is a very common subject of complaint; but I think
the misuse of it, a much more just one. Its value is certainly
underrated by those who indulge themselves in morning sloth.

Sweet, indeed, is the breath of morn; and after the body has been
refreshed by the restoring power of sleep, it is peculiarly prepared to
procure and participate the pleasures of the mind. The jarring passions
are then composed, and the calm operations of reason succeed of course;
while

“———————————Gentle gales,
Fanning their odoriferous wings, dispense
Native perfumes, and whisper when they stole
These balmy spoils.”

The morning is undoubtedly a season, of all others, most favorable to
useful exertions. Those, therefore, who lose three or four hours of it,
in slumbering inaction, make a voluntary sacrifice of the best part of
their existence. I rose to-day, not with the sun, but with the dawn; and
after taking a few turns in the garden, retired to the summer-house.
This you know is a favorite hour with me.

“To me be nature’s volume broad display’d;
And to peruse its all-instructing page,
Or, haply catching inspiration thence,
Some easy passage raptur’d to translate,
My sole delight; as thro’ the falling glooms,
Pensive I stray, or with the rising dawn
On fancy’s eagle wing excursive soar.”

Having a memorandum book and pencil in my pocket, I descend from the
lofty heights to which the immortal bard, my beloved Thompson, had
insensibly raised my imagination, to the humble strains of simple rhyme,
in order to communicate my sensations to you. These I enclose, without
attempting to tell you, either in prose or verse, how affectionately I
am yours.

MATILDA FIELDING.

* * * * *

The morning dawns, the russet grey
Slowly avoids the opening day:
Receding from the gazing eye,
The misty shades of twilight fly.
The ruddy streaks of light appear,
To guide our western hemisphere;
While tuneful choirs responsive join
To praise the gracious Pow’r Divine,
Whose mighty hand with sov’reign sway,
Restores, alternate, night and day.

Hail, opening morn! thy sober rays
Demand the contemplative gaze:
Unnumber’d beauties please the sight,
And give the mental eye delight.

O dawn! thy sombre shades I love!
With thee in solitude I’ll rove:
While health expansive gives the mind
To taste thy pleasures unconfin’d.

Here free from fashion’s artful forms,
Benevolence the bosom warms:
Persuasive virtue charms the soul,
And reason’s laws alone control.

Let others, lost in sloth forego
The joys thy early hours bestow:
Thy zephyrs far more sweets dispense,
Than Somnus yield to drowsy sense!

Mild as the beams of radiance shine,
May piety my powers refine:
Pure as the mimic pearls, that spread
Their liquid beauties o’er the mead:
And like yon rising orb of day,
May wisdom guide my dubious way.