Watch over your dear

I was last week at Boston; and having occasion for a new hat, stepped
into a milliner’s shop to inquire the mode. The milliner replied that it
was not yet in her power to answer my question. “The spring ships,” said
she, “are later than common; but their arrival is hourly expected, when
we shall be furnished with memorandum books which will ascertain and
determine the fashion for the season.” What she meant by memorandum
books, I could not conceive. I had always supposed them blanks, designed
for noting whatever occurred without inconvenience. Unwilling, however,
to be thought a simple country girl, totally unacquainted with the
world, I sought no explanation from her; but repaired to a particular
friend for instruction; from whom I learned that the chief value of
these same memorandum books consists in their containing imported cuts
of ladies’ headdresses, hats and other habiliments, which are always
sure to be admired and imitated, as the perfection of taste and
propriety.

This discovery mortified me exceedingly. It justified, beyond any thing
which I had ever suspected to exist as a fact, what I once heard a
European assert, “that Americans had neither character nor opinion of
their own.”

With due deference to those better judges, who despise the simplicity of
our ancestors, and labor to introduce the corrupt manners and customs of
the old world into our country, I cannot but think it extremely
ridiculous for an independent nation, which discards all foreign
influence, glories in its freedom, and boasts of its genius and taste,
servilely to ape exotic fashions, even in articles of dress and fanciful
ornaments.

Have not the daughters of Columbia sufficient powers of invention to
decorate themselves? Must we depend upon the winds and waves for the
form, as well as the materials of our garb? Why may we not follow our
own inclination; and not be deemed finical or prudish in our appearance,
merely because our habit is not exactly correspondent with the pretty
pictures in the memorandum books, last imported.

It is sincerely to be regretted that this subject is viewed in so
important a light. It occupies too much of the time, and engrosses too
much of the conversation of our sex. For one, I have serious thoughts of
declaring independence.

ANNA WILLIAMS.

_To Miss_ CAROLINE LITTLETON.

(_On the Death of her Mother._)

HARMONY-GROVE.

MY DEAR CAROLINE,

To tell you that I am sorry for your loss, or that I sympathize in your
affliction, would be but the language you daily hear; and often perhaps,
from the unfeeling and indifferent. But you will do me the justice to
believe, that I take a particular interest in your concerns, and really
share your grief. A holy Providence has wounded you by a stroke, which
is extremely painful and severe. Your best friend is shrouded in the
grave. In the maternal breast our fondest affections, and most
unsuspecting confidence have hitherto concentrated; and who can provide
you with an equivalent substitute? To the Almighty Father and Friend of
creation, it becomes you to repair for comfort and support.

The dying advice and counsel of your dear mamma, which you inform me,
were pathetic, instructive and consolatory, will be a guide to your
feet. Often realize the solemn scene, and remember, that, “though dead,
she yet speaketh.”

You have great cause of thankfulness, that she was spared to direct you
so far through the intricate and dangerous path of youth; to complete
your education; to teach you, by her example, how to acquit yourself
with usefulness and honor; and above all, to furnish you with that
important knowledge, to which every thing else should be made
subservient—how to die.

An era of your life has now commenced, which is no less important than
affecting. That assisting hand which formerly led you is now cold and
lifeless! Those lips, from which you have been accustomed to receive
information and advice, are sealed in perpetual silence! And that heart,
which always glowed with the warmest solicitude for your happiness has
ceased to palpitate.

You must now think and act for yourself. As the eldest daughter, you
will be placed at the head of your father’s family. You must, therefore,
adopt a plan of conduct, conducive to its harmony, regularity and
interest.

Filial duty to your surviving parent, more tenderly inculcated by your
participation of his heavy bereavement, will lead you to consult his
inclination, and sedulously contribute all in your power to lighten the
burden of domestic arrangements devolved upon him. While he laments the
death of a prudent, affectionate, and beloved wife, give him reason to
rejoice that he is blessed with a daughter, capable of soothing the
pains, alleviating the cares, and heightening the enjoyments of his
life.

Your brothers and sisters will look up to you as the guide of their
tender years. While their weeping eyes and pathetic accents are directed
towards you, let kindness, discretion, and patience, characterize your
deportment, and engage their confidence and love.

Having mentioned your duty to others, I cannot dismiss the subject
without dropping a few hints for your direction, in regard to your
personal behaviour.

A very important charge is committed to you, as well in the duties which
you owe to yourself, as in the superintendence of your father’s family.

The sovereign disposer of all things has, at an early age, made you, in
a measure, your own guardian. Your father’s business calls him much
abroad. With you, therefore, he is obliged to entrust, not only his
domestic concerns; but, what is still more dear to his heart, the care
of your own person and mind; of your own reputation and happiness.

Circumstanced as you are, company has the most powerful charms. Yours is
now the prerogative of receiving and returning visits in your own name.
At home, you are sole mistress of ceremonies. This is extremely alluring
to the sprightly fancy of youth. But time, you will remember, is too
important a blessing to be sacrificed to a promiscuous crowd of
unimproving companions. Besides, the character of a young lady will
necessarily be sullied by the imputation of being constantly engaged in
parties of pleasure, and exhilarating amusement. Flattery often avails
itself of the unguarded moments of gaiety; and insinuating its insidious
charms into the heedless and susceptible mind, inflates it with pride
and vanity, and produces an affectation and air of self-importance,
which are peculiarly disgusting, because easily distinguished from that
true dignity of manners, which results from conscious rectitude. Genuine
merit is always modest and unassuming; diffident of itself and
respectful to others.

Your father has a right to your unlimited confidence. You will,
therefore, make him your chief friend and counsellor. Though he may not
possess all the winning softness of a mother, he doubtless has as ardent
an affection for you, and as sincere a desire to promote your welfare.
Hence you may safely repose your dearest concerns in his paternal
breast, and receive, with the utmost deference, his kind instruction and
advice. Let his judgment have an entire ascendency over your mind and
actions, especially in your intercourse and society with the other sex.
Consider him as better acquainted with their merit, circumstances, and
views, than you can be; and should you contemplate a connexion for life,
let his opinion determine your choice.

Watch over your dear little sisters with all the tenderness of fraternal
affection; be their protector and friend; instil into their minds the
principles of virtue and religion; arm them against the snares and
temptations by which they will be surrounded; and lead them by your own
conduct, in the way of truth and peace.

When you have leisure and inclination to write, the effusions of your
pen will always be acceptable to your sincere and faithful friend

MARY WILLIAMS