To bestow your attention

“I shall now,” said Mrs. Williams, “endeavor to sketch out for you the
plan of conduct, which I think will be most conducive to your honor and
happiness while in a single state. Hitherto you have been under the
direction of parents, guardians, and instructors, who have regulated
your deportment, and labored to give you just ideas upon every subject
and occasion. That period is now over. You are now launching into life;
where you will think and act more for yourselves.

“The path of rectitude, my dear young friends, is narrow and intricate.
Temptations lurk around to beguile your feet astray; and dangers which
appear insurmountable will often arise to affright you from the ways of
virtue.

“But remember that a crown of honor and happiness awaits the undeviating
pursuit of truth and duty. Let religion be your guide, and discretion
your handmaid. Thus attended, you will escape the snares of youth, and
surmount the perplexing cares of more advanced age. At your entrance on
the stage of action, the allurements of pleasure will spread innumerable
charms to court your acceptance. Beware of their fascinating wiles; and
whatever course you adopt, be sure it is such as will bear the test of
examination and reflection. Let these be the criterion of all your
pursuits and enjoyments. Make it an invariable practice to re-trace the
actions and occurrences of the day, when you retire to rest; to account
with your own hearts for the use and improvement of the past hours; and
rectify whatever you find amiss, by greater vigilance and caution, in
future; to avoid the errors into which you have fallen, and to discharge
the duties incumbent upon you.

“To neglect this, will be a source of great inadvertencies and failings.

“To know yourselves, in every particular, must be your constant
endeavor. This knowledge will lead you to propriety and consistency of
action. But this knowledge cannot be obtained without a thorough and
repeated inspection of your various passions, affections, and
propensities. When obtained, however, it will prevent the ill effects of
flattery, by which you will doubtless be endangered, as you advance into
the scenes of fashionable life. It will enable you to distinguish
flattery from that generous praise which is the effusion of a feeling
heart, affected by the perception of real merit. A young lady, unskilled
in the deceitful arts of a giddy world, is very apt to be misled by the
adulation which is offered at the shrine of vanity. She is considered as
a mark for the wit of every coxcomb, who wishes to display his
gallantry.

“Flattery is a dazzling meteor, which casts a delusive glare before the
eye; and which seduces the imagination, perverts the judgment, and
silences the dictates of sound reason. Flattery is, therefore, the
poison and bane of the youthful mind. It renders the receiver blind to
those defects which she ought to see and rectify, and proud of imaginary
graces which she never yet possessed. Self-knowledge, as before
observed, will facilitate the detection of this disguised adversary, by
enabling you to investigate your real accomplishments and merits.

“That praise which is the result of deserved approbation from those,
whose good opinion you wish to enjoy, is worthy your attention and
grateful acceptance: but the fulsome compliments and hyperbolical
professions of unmeaning and empty pretenders, calculated only to fill
the imagination with the inflammable air of self-conceit and arrogant
pride, should be rejected with disdain, and cordially despised by every
lady of sense and sentiment, as an insult upon her understanding, and an
indignity to her sensibility.

“Let it, therefore, be known to those who court your favor by an
ostentatious parade of admiration and obsequiousness, that their
dissimulation and duplicity are discovered, and that you are superior to
such futility.

“In order to discriminate between flattery and merited praise,
critically examine your own heart and life. By this mean you will
ascertain what is really your due, and what is merely the effect of this
insidious art. But let no ideas of your own endowments, however just,
elate you with an opinion of your superior powers of pleasing.

“Be not ostentatious of your charms, either of person or mind. Let
modesty, diffidence, and propriety regulate you, in regard to each.
Exalted advantages will render you an object of envy to the weak minded
of your own sex, and of satire to the ill-natured part of the other.
Never obtrude even your real graces and accomplishments upon the world.
The penetrating and judicious will see and applaud them, while retiring
from the gaze of a misjudging and misrepresenting throng.

“Naked in nothing should a woman be,
But veil her very wit with modesty;
Let man discover; let her not display;
But yield her charms of mind with sweet delay.”

“Those who are solicitous for beauty should remember that the expression
of the countenance, in which its very essence consists, depends on the
disposition of the mind.

“What’s female beauty, but an air divine,
Through which the mind’s all gentle graces shine?
These, like the sun, irradiate all between;
The body charms, because the soul is seen.
Hence men are often captives of a face,
They know not why; of no peculiar grace.
Some forms, though bright, no mortal man can bear;
Some, none resist, tho’ not exceeding fair.”

Beauty, my dear girls, is indeed a desirable quality. Neither the pen of
the moralist, nor the spleen of the satirist, nor the envy of such as
want it, could ever bring it into contempt or neglect. Yet mere external
beauty is transient as the meteor, and frail as the bubble, which floats
on the surface of the watery element.

“Behold the disconsolate and despised Flirtilla! and from her fate learn
not to trust in the effects or duration of this adventitious quality.

“Early in life, Flirtilla was taught that her charms were irresistible;
that she might aspire to an absolute ascendency over the hearts and
passions of her votaries. A superficial, but fashionable education added
the allurements of art to those of person, and rendered her a finished
coquette.

“Her beauty and the gaiety of her manners gained her numerous admirers,
who swarmed around, like the insect tribe, eager to sip the fragrance of
the equally fair and fading rose. The incense of flattery, in every
form, was her tribute.

“Elated by this, she gave free scope to her ruling passions, the love of
pleasure and dissipation. Her best days were spent in the chase of
vanity; and she culled the flowers of life, without considering, that
substantial fruit would be required at a more advanced period, as a
substitute for the fading blossoms of youth. Her mind was barren of
improvement, and consequently destitute of resources.

“She vainly imagined the triumphs of beauty to be permanent, till its
declared enemy, the small-pox, convinced her of the egregious mistake.
By this she found her empire suddenly overturned. The merciless disorder
had reduced her to a level with the generality of her sex, in
appearance, and, in enjoyment far below them. Her glass faithfully
represented this insupportable reduction. Regret and chagrin heightened
the apparent calamity. She was remembered only as the contrast of what
she once had been. Her lovers were disgusted with the change, and sought
more pleasing objects of attention; while men of sentiment could not
find a similarity of disposition, in her, to induce a connexion.

“Her female acquaintance, who had envied her as a rival, or feared her
as a superior, now insulted her with their pity, or mortified her by
remarks on the surprising alteration in her appearance.

“Finding no alleviation from society, she retired from the world to
nurse, in solitude, the vexation and disappointment she experienced.

“View her now, peevish, discontented, and gloomy! Her ideas of pleasure
were centered in that person, which is now neglected; in those
endowments which have now forsaken her forever!

“Thought she studiously shuns; for she has nothing pleasing to occupy
her reflections, but what is irretrievably lost!

“Miserable Flirtilla! thou trustedst in vanity, and vanity is thy
recompense! How happy mightest thou have been, even in this change, if
thy heart had been rectified, thy understanding improved, and thy mind
liberally stored with useful sentiments, knowledge, and information!

“Cultivate, then, my young friends, those dispositions and attainments,
which will yield permanent and real satisfaction, when sickness,
adversity, or age shall have robbed your eyes of their lustre, and
diminished the bloom and sprightliness of your forms.

“You are doubtless sensible that your happiness, in life, does not
depend so much on your external, as your internal graces.

“The constitutional temper of your minds was given you by nature; but
reason is added for its regulation.

“On life’s vast ocean diversely we sail;
Reason the chart; but passion is the gale.”

“Our passions were certainly implanted for wise and benevolent purposes;
and, if properly directed, may be of great utility. This direction
nature will teach, and education improve. To their precepts we must
implicitly listen, if we would become respectable or contented.

“Examine yourselves, therefore, with impartial scrutiny. Find out your
particular faults in this respect, and exert your unwearied industry to
amend them.

“Possibly you may be naturally hasty, passionate, or vindictive. If so,
how wretched, at times, must the indulgence of this temper render you!
When reason, awhile suspended, resumes its empire, and calm reflection
succeeds the riot of passion, how severe must be your self-condemnation,
and how keen your sensations of regret! Perhaps an unkindness of
expression to some particular friend, disrespectful treatment of an
honored superior, ill-timed resentment to a beloved equal, or imperious
and unbecoming severity to a deserving inferior, may give you the most
painful emotions, and degrade you in your own, as well as in the
estimation of every observer! To prevent this evil, accustom yourselves
to check the first risings of anger, and suspend every expression of
displeasure, till you can deliberate on the provocation, and the
propriety of noticing it. It may have been undesigned, and, therefore,
not justly provoking. You may have misunderstood the word, or action of
offence, and inquiry may remove the grounds of your suspicion: or the
person offending may be one with whom prudence and honor require you not
to enter the lists. But if neither of these considerations occur,
reflect a moment, that your own reputation and consequent happiness are
at stake and that to lose the command of yourselves and your passions is
inconsistent with the delicacy of ladies, the moderation of Christians,
and the dignity of rational beings.

“Let every sally alarm, and excite you to rally and new-discipline your
forces; and to be more strictly on your guard against the assaults of
your foe.

“The character of Camilla is a pattern worthy of your imitation. While
very young, Camilla was unfortunately deprived of the instruction and
regulating hand of a discreet and judicious mother. Her father was too
much immersed in business to attend to the cultivation of his daughter’s
mind.

“He gave her the means of a genteel education, praised her excellencies,
and chid her faults, without being at the pains of teaching her how to
amend them. The irritability of her temper he rather indulged,
considering her as a girl of _spirit_, who would make her way in the
world, in spite of obstacles. She was naturally generous,
tender-hearted, and humane; but her temper was as uncontrollable as the
whirlpool, and as impetuous as the wind. Happily for her, she had an
uncommon strength of mind, a ready apprehension, a quick perception, and
a depth of understanding, seldom equalled. She saw her errors, was
conscious of her failings, and a severe sufferer for her faults. But
such was the extreme quickness of her feelings, and so passionate her
resentment of any thing which appeared injurious or affrontive, that she
could not always repress them. She married a gentleman of a similar
temper, and of equal prudence. In the union of such violent spirits,
great harmony could not be presaged. Their passions were lively, their
affections ardent.

“The honey-moon in raptures flew,
A second brought its transports too;
The third, the fourth, were not amiss;
The fifth was friendship, mixed with bliss;
But ere a twelvemonth passed away,
They found each other made of clay.”

“Inadvertencies gave offence; frequent altercations arose; both were
tenacious of their rights, and averse to condescension. Camilla saw the
impending danger; she became sensible that the happiness of her life
depended on amendment and caution; she resolved to avoid giving or
taking offence, with the greatest diligence; to suppress every emotion
of anger; and when she thought herself injured, to retire or be silent,
till passion had subsided, and she could regain her calmness.

“This was a hard task, at first; but perseverance rendered it effectual
to a thorough reformation in each.

“Her example and pathetic admonitions induced her husband to adopt her
prudent plan. They found their mutual endeavors productive of real
satisfaction, and happiness the reward of their exertions to secure it.

“To be vindictive is equally, perhaps more fatal to our own, and the
peace of others, than to be passionate. Violent passions of all kinds
are generally transient; but revenge is the offspring of malice, the
parent of discord, and the bane of social love. It is an evidence of a
weak and sickly mind. True greatness will rise superior to this ignoble
spirit, so peculiarly ungraceful in a lady, and inconsistent with that
delicacy and softness, which ought ever to characterize the sex.

“But an envious temper is, of all others, the most degrading and
miserable. Envy is a malignant poison, which rankles in the heart, and
destroys the inward peace, even while there is an outward appearance of
serenity. That mind, which cannot rejoice in the happiness of others, is
capable of very little in itself. To look with a grudging and evil eye
on the enjoyments of our neighbor, must be a source of perpetual chagrin
and mortification.

“Envy indulged, is a punishment to its possessor. Eradicate, then, the
first, and every emotion of so corroding and destructive a nature; and
endeavor to excel only by that virtuous emulation, which is productive
of improvement and respectability.

“A kind, compassionate, benevolent, humane disposition is an invaluable
treasure. It will render you blessings to society, and objects of
universal esteem.

“In _you_ ’tis graceful to dissolve at wo;
With every motion, every word, to wave
Quick o’er the kindling cheek the ready blush;
And from the smallest violence to shrink.”—

“This amiable temper, however, may sometimes degenerate into weakness.

“Prudence should be exercised, even in the indulgence of the most
engaging qualities. In the progress of life, occasions may call for that
resolution and fortitude, which admit not of apparent softness; but such
occasions very seldom occur.

“How alluring are the charms of sympathy and charity! Happy are they who
always feel the one, and have power and inclination to exemplify the
other!

“The diamond and the ruby’s blaze
Dispute the palm with beauty’s queen;
Not beauty’s queen demands such praise,
Devoid of virtue if she’s seen.
But the soft tear in pity’s eye
Outshines the diamond’s brightest beam,
And the sweet blush of modesty
More beauteous than the ruby’s seen.”

“Dress,” continued Mrs. Williams to her re-assembled and attentive
pupils, “is an important article of female economy. By some it is
doubtless considered as too essential. This is always the case, when it
becomes the ruling passion, and every other excellence is made
subordinate to it. A suitable attention to the etiquette of appearance
is necessary to render us respectable in the eyes of the world and
discovers an accommodating disposition, which is, at once, engaging and
useful in the commerce of society. Females are taxed with being
peculiarly attached to, and captivated by the glare of splendor and
show. But I believe superficial minds are not confined to sex. Whatever
form they actuate, to beautify and adorn it will be the principal
object.

“A certain species of gaiety and airiness is becoming in youth. Young
ladies, therefore, act perfectly in character, when, under proper
restraint, they indulge their taste in the decoration of their persons.
But they should be especially careful that their taste be correct;
consistent with the modest delicacy which is the glory and ornament of
woman.

“It is laudable to follow fashions, so far as they are governed by these
rules; but whenever they deviate, quit them with express disapprobation
and disgust. Any assumptions of the masculine habit are unbecoming.
Dress and manners should be correspondent; and the engaging softness and
artless simplicity, which grace my pupils, must be quite inconsistent
with the air and attire of the other sex.

“A gaudy and fantastical mode of decoration is by no means a
recommendation. It bespeaks a lightness of mind and a vanity of
disposition, against which a discreet and modest girl should guard with
the utmost vigilance. Extravagance is a great error, even where fortune
will allow the means of supporting it. Many are the claims which the
children of affliction and want have upon the superfluous plenty of the
rich. How much better expended would some part of their redundance be,
in relieving the necessities of such, than in decorating their own
persons, with every ornament which art can contrive to create expense!

“Neatness and propriety should be the main objects; for loveliness needs
no foreign aid to give it a passport. Neatness is too often connected
with the idea of a prudish singularity; but no gaudiness of apparel, no
richness of attire, no modishness of appearance can be an equivalent for
it. Propriety is that garb which becomes our situation and circumstances
in life. There certainly ought to be a difference between different ages
and conditions, in this respect. Many articles, ornamental to Miss in
her teens, would appear absurd, fantastical, and ridiculous in maturer
years. Neither should the matronal robes, and the close cap hide the
natural ringlets, and easy shapes of the blooming girl.

“It is a very false taste which induces people in dependent and narrow
circumstances, to imitate the expensive mode of dress which might be
very decent for those who move in a higher sphere.

“To endeavor to conceal indigence by the affectation of extravagance, is
committing a great offence, both against ourselves, and the community to
which we belong. The means of support should always be attended to. A
conformity to these will render you more respected for prudence, than a
deviation for the sake of show without substance, can make you admired.

“Louisa and Clarinda are striking examples. They were both the daughters
of reputable parents, whose situations in the world were easy and
comfortable, though not affluent. They were able to give their children
a good education, but no other portion. Gay, volatile, and ambitious,
Louisa was the votary of fashion. A superior in dress excited the
keenest sensations of envy in her bosom; and a rival in appearance gave
her unspeakable mortification. Dissatisfied with her natural charms,
cosmetics and paints added to her expenses, and betrayed her folly. She
had many professed admirers, who found her a willing dupe to flattery,
and who raised her vanity by praising her excellent taste.

“Leander, a gentleman of liberal education, superior merit, and handsome
property, cast his eye around for a companion to share and enjoy these
advantages with him. Louisa caught his attention. The elegance of her
person, and splendor of her appearance, charmed his imagination, and
inspired the idea of a fortune sufficient to support her expensive style
of living. He paid his addresses and was received with the most
flattering encouragement. But how great was his disappointment, when he
discovered the smallness of her resources, and the imprudence of her
management! This, said he to himself, will never do for me. Were my
income far superior to what it is, it would not be adequate to such
unbounded extravagance. Besides, where so little economy is practised,
while under parental government, what must be the consequence of that
unlimited indulgence, which the confidence due to a wife demands? Were I
to abridge her expenses, and endeavor to rectify her fantastical taste,
it would doubtless foment dissension, discord, and animosity, which must
terminate in wretchedness. He resolved, however, to try her real
disposition, by gently hinting his disapprobation of her gaiety. This
she resented; and a rupture, which ended in a final separation, ensued.
She found, too late, the value of the man, whom she had slighted; and
ever after regretted that folly which had irretrievably alienated his
affections.

“The modesty and neatness of Clarinda’s garb next caught Leander’s eye.
Conversing with her on the subject of dress, the justness of her
sentiments gave him the highest ideas of the rectitude and innocence of
her mind. A costly article was offered for her purchase; but she refused
it. It would not become me, said she, nor any other person who has not
an affluent fortune. If I had a sufficiency to buy it, I would procure
something more simple and necessary for myself; and the overplus might
render an object of distress contented and happy.

“Yet was Clarinda always elegantly neat; always genteelly fashionable.
Frugality and economy, free from profusion and extravagance, enabled her
to indulge her own taste entirely; and while she enjoyed that, she
repined not at the fancied superiority of others. Leander found her all
he wished, in appearance; all he hoped for, in reality. As their tastes
were correspondent, and their highest aim, when united, to please each
other, they were not dependent on the breath of fashion for their
happiness. A compliance with its forms did not elate their pride, nor a
departure from them, fill their hearts with peevishness and discontent.”

“Still more important than your habit, is your air and deportment. It is
not sufficient that these are pleasing to the eye of the superficial
observer. Your behavior and conversation must be uniformly governed by
the laws of politeness, discretion, and decorum. Else you will be
disgusting to people of refinement; and the judicious and discerning
will discover the weakness of your minds, notwithstanding the showy
ornaments, intended to conceal it from public view.

“Inattention in company is a breach of good manners. Indeed, it is a
downright insult; being neither more nor less, than declaring that you
have not the least respect for any who are present. Either you do not
value their good opinion, or you have something more important than
their conversation to occupy your minds.

“You should always be attentive to those with whom you are conversant,
let their rank and standing be what they may. Your superiors will esteem
you for your respectful treatment of them; your equals will love you for
your kindness and familiarity; your inferiors will respect you for your
condescension and meekness.

“Attention in company will be advantageous to yourselves. Like the
industrious bee, which sips honey from every plant, you may derive some
benefit or instruction from all kinds of society. Some useful remark or
information; some sentiment which may allure you to the practice of
virtue, or deter you from a vicious perpetration, may repay your labor,
and be serviceable through life.

“But should there be no other motive than that of pleasing your
associates, and rendering them happy, by making yourselves agreeable, it
may be considered as a sufficient inducement to the practice of this
branch of good-breeding. Many girls, in the thoughtless levity of their
hearts, divert themselves at the expense of others; and, with the utmost
glee, point out any thing peculiar in the appearance, words, or actions
of some one in the company, whom they select for a subject of merriment
and ridicule. This, by shrewd looks, ironical gestures, or tittering
whispers, is kept up, to the great mortification of the unhappy victim,
and to the reproach and dishonor of the offenders. Such conduct is a
breach, not only of the rules of common civility, but of humanity;
besides being directly repugnant to the precept of doing to others as we
would that they should do to us.

“Be particularly careful, then, not to mortify, or give pain to an
inferior.

“Let the question, ‘who maketh thee to differ?’ suppress every emotion
of ridicule, contempt, or neglect; and induce you to raise and encourage
depressed merit by your notice and approbation.

“As far as propriety, delicacy, and virtue will allow, conform to the
taste, and participate in the amusements and conversation of the company
into which you have fallen. If they be disagreeable to you, avoid a
supercilious avowal of your dislike. This, instead of reforming, would
probably give them a disgust to you, and perhaps subject you to
affronts. Yet where a disapprobating word or hint may be seasonable,
neglect not the opportunity of contributing to their benefit and
amendment.

“Are you conscious of superior advantages, either mental or external,
make no ostentatious display of them. Vanity too often leads young
ladies to obtrude their acquirements on the eyes of observers,
inconsiderately apprehending they may otherwise be unnoticed. Such
forwardness always subjects them to censure, ridicule, and envy; the
expressions of which destroy that self-approbation which retiring merit
invariably enjoys. However, exert that dignity of virtue which will
render you independent of caprice, calumny, and unprovoked satire.

“Make no ungenerous, or ill-natured remarks on the company, or on the
individuals of which it is composed.

“If you dislike them, avoid them in future. If you witness errors,
faults, or improprieties, conceal, or at least extenuate them, as much
as possible.

“Make just allowances for those who may differ from you in opinion; and
be cautious never to misrepresent, or circulate what appears amiss to
you, and must, if exposed, be injurious to others. Charity hides a
multitude of faults. Certainly then, charity will never aggravate nor
create them.

“To give currency to a report, which tends to the disadvantage and
dishonor of another, is defaming; and defamation is a species of
cruelty, which can never be expiated.

“Of this the unhappy, though imprudent Eudocia, is an exemplification.

“Eudocia was young, gay, and charming. A levity of disposition, which
the innocence of her heart attempted not to restrain, sometimes gave the
tongue of slander pretence to aim its envenomed shafts at her character,
and to misrepresent her sprightliness.

“Independent in fortune; still more so in mind, calumny gave her no
pain, while she was conscious of the rectitude of her intentions.

“Leontine was a gentleman of property; agreeable in his person and
manners; of strict honor, and extremely tenacious of it; but of a severe
and unforgiving temper. He paid his addresses to Eudocia; was accepted,
approved, and beloved. Yet, though he had gained her affections, he had
not sufficient influence to regulate her conduct, and repress her
gaiety. Her fondness for show and gallantry, in some instances, induced
her to countenance the attentions, and receive the flattery, of men,
whose characters were exceptionable, in Leontine’s estimation. He
remonstrated against her imprudence, and gave her his ideas of female
delicacy. She laughed at his gravity, and rallied him on his implicit
subjection to the opinions of others.

“Towards the close of a fine day, Eudocia rambled along a retired road,
to enjoy the air. She was alone; but the hope of meeting her beloved
Leontine, whom she expected that evening, imperceptibly led her beyond
her intended excursion. The rattling of a carriage caused her to stop;
and, thinking it to be Leontine’s, she approached it before she
perceived her mistake. A gentleman of an elegant appearance alighted and
accosting her politely, expressed his surprise at finding her so far
from home without an attendant. She found it was Florio, with whom she
had a slight acquaintance, having once met with him in company. She
frankly owned her motive for walking thus far; and refused his
invitation to return in his carriage. He renewed his request; and his
importunity, seconded by her fatigue, at last prevailed. At this moment
the detracting Lavina passed by. She saw Eudocia, and with a sneering
smile, wished her a good night. Eudocia was unconscious of fault, and
therefore fearless of censure. But the artful Florio, desirous of
protracting the pleasure of her company, took a circuitous route, which
considerably increased the distance to her father’s house. However, he
conveyed her safely home, though not so soon as she wished. She found
that Leontine had been there, and had gone to visit a friend; but would
soon return. Leontine was just seated at his friend’s, when Lavina
entered.

“She told the circle, that Florio had just passed her, and that he had
company she little expected to see with him. They inquired if it was his
former mistress? No, said she, he discarded her some time ago, and if we
may judge by appearances, has chosen a new one. Upon being asked who,
she presumed to name Eudocia. Every countenance expressed surprise and
regret. In Leontine, rage and resentment were visibly depicted. He rose,
and stepping hastily to Lavina, told her he was a party concerned, and
demanded an explanation of what she had insinuated. She perceived that
she had given offence, and endeavored to excuse herself; but he
resolutely told her that no evasions would avail; that he insisted on
the real truth of her scandalous report. Finding him thus determined,
she related the simple fact of seeing Eudocia in a carriage with Florio,
who was a known libertine, and accustomed to the society of loose women.
Leontine asked her how she came to associate the ideas she had mentioned
with Eudocia’s name? She replied that the lightness of her behavior had
sometimes rendered her censurable; and she thought this instance, in
particular, authorised suspicion. Leontine could not deny that she was
culpable in appearance; yet made answer, that though scandal might feast
on the failings of virtue, he believed Eudocia’s innocence much purer,
and her heart much better than her detractors’; and taking his hat, he
wished the company a good evening, and left them.

“His passions were on fire. He could not comprehend the mysterious
conduct of Eudocia. Her absence from home, at a time when he expected
her to receive him, and her being seen at a distance in company with a
professed debauchee, were a labyrinth which he could not explore. Though
he doubted not Eudocia’s honor, yet her folly and imprudence, in
subjecting her character to suspicion and reproach, he thought
unpardonable. His resentment determined him to break the proposed
connexion immediately; and, lest his love should get the better of his
resolution, he went directly to the house.

“As he could not command his temper, he appeared extremely agitated, and
angrily told Eudocia that she had caused him great uneasiness; and that
he came to claim the satisfaction of knowing, why she had avoided his
society, and made an assignation with a man who had involved her in
infamy? Eudocia was astonished and justly offended at this address. With
all the dignity of conscious innocence, she replied, that as yet he had
no right to challenge an account of her conduct; but for her own sake,
she would condescend to give it. This she did by a faithful and
undisguised relation of facts. She then asked him if he was satisfied.
He answered, No. For, said he, though you have cleared yourself of
guilt, in my apprehension, you will find it very difficult to free your
character from the blemish it has received in the opinion of the world.
Saying this he told her, that however highly he esteemed her, so
opposite were their dispositions, that they must often be at variance;
and so nice was his sense of honor, that his wife like Cæsar’s must not
only be virtuous, but unsuspected. She rejoined, that his sentiments
were apparent; and if what he then expressed were his opinion of her, it
was best they should part.

“Some further conversation passed; when promising to call, the next day,
and satisfy her parents, and wishing Eudocia all possible happiness in
life, he took his leave.

“The impropriety of her conduct, and her losing the affections of a man
she too ardently loved, together with the cruel treatment she had just
received from him, overwhelmed her with grief, and produced the most
violent emotions of regret. She walked her room in all the anguish of
disappointed hope. Her parents used every argument to soothe and console
her, but in vain.

“She yielded to their persuasions so far as to retire to bed; but rest
she found not; and the morning presented her in a burning fever.
Leontine called in the course of the day; but the friends of Eudocia
refused to see him. An account of her disorder had roused him to a sense
of his rashness, and he begged to be admitted to her chamber; but this
she utterly denied.

“Her fever left her; but the disease of her mind was beyond the power of
medicine. A settled melancholy still remains; and she lives the victim
of calumniation!

“To detract from the merit of others, beside the want of politeness
which it betrays, and beside the injuries which it always occasions, is
extremely impolitic. It is to confess your inferiority, and to
acknowledge a wish not to rise to greater respectability; but to bring
down those about you to your own level! Ill-natured remarks are the
genuine offspring of an envious and grovelling mind.

“Call yourselves to a severe account, therefore, whenever you have been
guilty of this degrading offence; and always check the first impulses
towards it.

“Accustom yourselves to the exercise of sincerity, benevolence and good
humor, those endearing virtues, which will render you beloved and
respected by all.

“To bestow your attention in company, upon trifling singularities in the
dress, person, or manners of others, is spending your time to little
purpose. From such a practice you can derive neither pleasure nor
profit; but must unavoidably subject yourselves to the imputation of
incivility and malice.”