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Complete Works of Mary Wollstonecraft

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English writer, philosopher and pioneering advocate of women's rights, Mary Wollstonecraft wrote novels, treatises, a travel narrative, a history of the French Revolution and a children's book. In her landmark feminist text, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), Wollstonecraft argued that women are not naturally inferior to men, but appeared to be only because they lacked education. She called for men and women to be treated equally, paving the way for the emergence of the feminist movement at the turn of the twentieth century. This comprehensive eBook presents Wollstonecraft’s complete fictional works, with numerous illustrations, rare texts, informative introductions and the usual Delphi bonus material. (Version 1)

* Beautifully illustrated with images relating to Wollstonecraft’s life and works
* Concise introductions to the novels and other texts
* All the novels, with individual contents tables
* Images of how the books were first published, giving your eReader a taste of the original texts
* Excellent formatting of the texts
* Includes Wollstonecraft’s complete pamphlets
* ‘A Vindication of the Rights of Man’ in presented with an appendix of Burke’s ‘Reflections on the Revolution in France’
* Includes Wollstonecraft’s posthumously published Works
* Features three biographies, including the author’s husband’s controversial memoir - discover Wollstonecraft’s personal and literary life
* Scholarly ordering of texts into chronological order and literary genres

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The Fiction

The Children’s Book

The Non-Fiction

The Biographies
MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT by Elizabeth Robins Pennell

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I am now led, by the course of my narrative, to the last fatal scene of her life. She was taken in labour on Wednesday, the thirtieth of August. She had been somewhat indisposed on the preceding Friday, the consequence, I believe, of a sudden alarm. But from that time she was in perfect health. She was so far from being under any apprehension as to the difficulties of child-birth, as frequently to ridicule the fashion of ladies in England, who keep their chamber for one full month after delivery. For herself, she proposed coming down to dinner on the day immediately following. She had already had some experience on the subject in the case of Fanny; and I cheerfully submitted in every point to her judgment and her wisdom. She hired no nurse. Influenced by ideas of decorum, which certainly ought to have no place, at least in cases of danger, she determined to have a woman to attend her in the capacity of midwife. She was sensible that the proper business of a midwife, in the instance of a natural labour, is to sit by and wait for the operations of nature, which seldom, in these affairs, demand the interposition of art.

At five o’clock in the morning of the day of delivery, she felt what she conceived to be some notices of the approaching labour. Mrs. Blenkinsop, matron and midwife to the Westminster Lying in Hospital, who had seen Mary several times previous to her delivery, was soon after sent for, and arrived about nine. During the whole day Mary was perfectly cheerful. Her pains came on slowly; and, in the morning, she wrote several notes, three addressed to me, who had gone, as usual, to my apartments, for the purpose of study. About two o’clock in the afternoon, she went up to her chamber, — never more to descend.

The child was born at twenty minutes after eleven at night. Mary had requested that I would not come into the chamber till all was over, and signified her intention of then performing the interesting office of presenting the new-born child to its father. I was sitting in a parlour;;  and it was not till after two o’clock on Thursday morning, that I received the alarming intelligence, that the placenta was not yet removed, and that the midwife dared not proceed any further, and gave her opinion for calling in a male practitioner. I accordingly went for Dr. Poignand, physician and man-midwife to the same hospital, who arrived between three and four hours after the birth of the child. He immediately proceeded to the extraction of the placenta, which he brought away in pieces, till he was satisfied that the whole was removed. In that point however it afterwards appeared that he was mistaken.

The period from the birth of the child till about eight o’clock the next morning, was a period full of peril and alarm. The loss of blood was considerable, and produced an almost uninterrupted series of fainting fits. I went to the chamber soon after four in the morning, and found her in this state. She told me some time on Thursday, “that she should have died the preceding night, but that she was determined not to leave me.” She added, with one of those smiles which so eminently illuminated her countenance, “that I should not be like Porson,” alluding to the circumstance of that great man having lost his wife, after being only a few months married. Speaking of what she had already passed through, she declared, “that she had never known what bodily pain was before.”

On Thursday morning Dr. Poignand repeated his visit. Mary had just before expressed some inclination to see Dr. George Fordyce, a man probably of more science than any other medical professor in England, and between whom and herself there had long subsisted a mutual friendship. I mentioned this to Dr. Poignand, but he rather discountenanced the idea, observing that he saw no necessity for it, and that he supposed Dr. Fordyce was not particularly conversant with obstetrical cases; but that I would do as I pleased. After Dr. Poignand was gone, I determined to send for Dr. Fordyce. He accordingly saw the patient about three o’clock on Thursday afternoon. He however perceived no particular cause of alarm; and, on that or the next day, quoted, as I am told, Mary’s case, in a mixed company, as a corroboration of a favourite idea of his, of the propriety of employing females in the capacity of midwives. Mary “had had a woman, and was doing extremely well.”

What had passed however in the night between Wednesday and Thursday, had so far alarmed me, that I did not quit the house, and scarcely the chamber, during the following day. But my alarms wore off, as time advanced. Appearances were more favourable, than the exhausted state of the patient would almost have permitted me to expect. Friday morning therefore I devoted to a business of some urgency, which called me to different parts of the town, and which, before dinner, I happily completed. On my return, and during the evening, I received the most pleasurable sensations from the promising state of the patient. I was now perfectly satisfied that every thing was safe, and that, if she did not take cold, or suffer from any external accident, her speedy recovery was certain.

Saturday was a day less auspicious than Friday, but not absolutely alarming.

Sunday, the third of September, I now regard as the day, that finally decided on the fate of the object dearest to my heart that the universe contained. Encouraged by what I considered as the progress of her recovery, I accompanied a friend in the morning in several calls, one of them as far as Kensington, and did not return till dinner-time. On my return I found a degree of anxiety in every face, and was told that she had had a sort of shivering fit, and had expressed some anxiety at the length of my absence. My sister and a friend of hers, had been engaged to dine below stairs, but a message was sent to put them off, and Mary ordered that the cloth should not be laid, as usual, in the room immediately under her on the first floor, but in the ground-floor parlour. I felt a pang at having been so long and so unseasonably absent, and determined that I would not repeat the fault.

In the evening she had a second shivering fit, the symptoms of which were in the highest degree alarming. Every muscle of the body trembled, the teeth chattered, and the bed shook under her. This continued probably for five minutes. She told me, after it was over, that it had been a struggle between life and death, and that she had been more than once, in the course of it, at the point of expiring. I now apprehend these to have been the symptoms of a decided mortification, occasioned by the part of the placenta that remained in the womb. At the time however I was far from considering it in that light. When I went for Dr. Poignand, between two and three o’clock on the morning of Thursday, despair was in my heart. The fact of the adhesion of the placenta was stated to me; and, ignorant as I was of obstetrical science, I felt as if the death of Mary was in a manner decided. But hope had re-visited my bosom; and her chearings were so delightful, that I hugged her obstinately to my heart. I was only mortified at what appeared to me a new delay in the recovery I so earnestly longed for. I immediately sent for Dr. Fordyce, who had been with her in the morning, as well as on the three preceding days. Dr. Poignand had also called this morning but declined paying any further visits, as we had thought proper to call in Dr. Fordyce.

The progress of the disease was now uninterrupted. On Tuesday I found it necessary again to call in Dr. Fordyce in the afternoon, who brought with him Dr. Clarke of New Burlington-street, under the idea that some operation might be necessary. I have already said, that I pertinaciously persisted in viewing the fair side of things; and therefore the interval between Sunday and Tuesday evening, did not pass without some mixture of cheerfulness. On Monday, Dr. Fordyce forbad the child’s having the breast, and we therefore procured puppies to draw off the milk. This occasioned some pleasantry of Mary with me and the other attendants. Nothing could exceed the equanimity, the patience and affectionateness of the poor sufferer. I intreated her to recover; I dwelt with trembling fondness on every favourable circumstance; and, as far it was possible in so dreadful a situation, she, by her smiles and kind speeches, rewarded my affection.

Wednesday was to me the day of greatest torture in the melancholy series. It was now decided that the only chance of supporting her through what she had to suffer, was by supplying her rather freely with wine. This task was devolved upon me. I began about four o’clock in the afternoon. But for me, totally ignorant of the nature of diseases and of the human frame, thus to play with a life that now seemed all that was dear to me in the universe, was too dreadful a task. I knew neither what was too much, nor what was too little. Having begun, I felt compelled, under every disadvantage, to go on. This lasted for three hours. Towards the end of that time, I happened foolishly to ask the servant who came out of the room, “What she thought of her mistress?” she replied, “that, in her judgment, she was going as fast as possible.” There are moments, when any creature that lives, has power to drive one into madness. I seemed to know the absurdity of this reply; but that was of no consequence. It added to the measure of my distraction. A little after seven I intreated a friend to go for Mr. Carlisle, and bring him instantly wherever he was to be found. He had voluntarily called on the patient on the preceding Saturday, and two or three times since. He had seen her that morning, and had been earnest in recommending the wine-diet. That day he dined four miles out of town, on the side of the metropolis, which was furthest from us. Notwithstanding this, my friend returned with him after three-quarters of an hour’s absence. No one who knows my friend, will wonder either at his eagerness or success, when I name Mr. Basil Montagu. The sight of Mr. Carlisle thus unexpectedly, gave me a stronger alleviating sensation, than I thought it possible to experience.

Mr. Carlisle left us no more from Wednesday evening, to the hour of her death. It was impossible to exceed his kindness and affectionate attention. It excited in every spectator a sentiment like adoration. His conduct was uniformly tender and anxious, ever upon the watch, observing every symptom, and eager to improve every favourable appearance. If skill or attention could have saved her, Mary would still live. In addition to Mr. Carlisle’s constant presence, she had Dr. Fordyce and Dr. Clarke every day. She had for nurses, or rather for friends, watching every occasion to serve her, Mrs. Fenwick, author of an excellent novel, entitled Secrecy, another very kind and judicious lady, and a favourite female servant. I was scarcely ever out of the room. Four friends, Mr. Fenwick, Mr. Basil Montagu, Mr. Marshal, and Mr. Dyson, sat up nearly the whole of the last week of her existence in the house, to be dispatched, on any errand, to any part of the metropolis, at a moment’s warning.

Mr. Carlisle being in the chamber, I retired to bed for a few hours on Wednesday night. Towards morning he came into my room with an account that the patient was surprisingly better. I went instantly into the chamber. But I now sought to suppress every idea of hope. The greatest anguish I have any conception of, consists in that crushing of a new-born hope which I had already two or three times experienced. If Mary recovered, it was well, and I should see it time enough. But it was too mighty a thought to bear being trifled with, and turned out and admitted in this abrupt way.

I had reason to rejoice in the firmness of my gloomy thoughts, when, about ten o’clock on Thursday evening, Mr. Carlisle told us to prepare ourselves, for we had reason to expect the fatal event every moment. To my thinking, she did not appear to be in that state of total exhaustion, which I supposed to precede death; but it is probable that death does not always take place by that gradual process I had pictured to myself; a sudden pang may accelerate his arrival. She did not die on Thursday night.

Till now it does not appear that she had any serious thoughts of dying; but on Friday and Saturday, the two last days of her life, she occasionally spoke as if she expected it. This was however only at intervals; the thought did not seem to dwell upon her mind. Mr. Carlisle rejoiced in this. He observed, and there is great force in the suggestion, that there is no more pitiable object, than a sick man, that knows he is dying. The thought must be expected to destroy his courage, to co-operate with the disease, and to counteract every favourable effort of nature.

On these two days her faculties were in too decayed a state, to be able to follow any train of ideas with force or any accuracy of connection. Her religion, as I have already shown, was not calculated to be the torment of a sick bed; and, in fact, during her whole illness, not one word of a religious cast fell from her lips.

She was affectionate and compliant to the last. I observed on Friday and Saturday nights, that, whenever her attendants recommended to her to sleep, she discovered her willingness to yield, by breathing, perhaps for the space of a minute, in the manner of a person that sleeps, though the effort, from the state of her disorder, usually proved ineffectual.

She was not tormented by useless contradiction. One night the servant, from an error in judgment, teazed her with idle expostulations, but she complained of it grievously, and it was corrected. “Pray, pray, do not let her reason with me,” was her expression. Death itself is scarcely so dreadful to the enfeebled frame, as the monotonous importunity of nurses ever-lastingly repeated.

Seeing that every hope was extinct, I was very desirous of obtaining from her any directions, that she might wish to have followed after her decease. Accordingly, on Saturday morning, I talked to her for a good while of the two children. In conformity to Mr. Carlisle’s maxim of not impressing the idea of death, I was obliged to manage my expressions. I therefore affected to proceed wholly upon the ground of her having been very ill, and that it would be some time before she could expect to be well; wishing her to tell me any thing that she would choose to have done respecting the children, as they would now be principally under my care. After having repeated this idea to her in a great variety of forms, she at length said, with a significant tone of voice, “I know what you are thinking of,” but added, that she had nothing to communicate to me upon the subject.

The shivering fits had ceased entirely for the two last days. Mr. Carlisle observed that her continuance was almost miraculous, and he was on the watch for favourable appearances, believing it highly improper to give up all hope, and remarking, that perhaps one in a million, of persons in her state might possibly recover. I conceive that not one in a million, unites so good a constitution of body and of mind.

These were the amusements of persons in the very gulph of despair. At six o’clock on Sunday morning, September the tenth, Mr. Carlisle called me from my bed to which I had retired at one, in conformity to my request, that I might not be left to receive all at once the intelligence that she was no more. She expired at twenty minutes before eight.


Her remains were deposited, on the fifteenth of September, at ten o’clock in the morning, in the church-yard of the parish church of St. Pancras, Middlesex. A few of the persons she most esteemed, attended the ceremony; and a plain monument is now erecting on the spot, by some of her friends, with the following inscription:







The loss of the world in this admirable woman, I leave to other men to collect; my own I well know, nor can it be improper to describe it. I do not here allude to the personal pleasures I enjoyed in her conversation: these increased every day, in proportion as we knew each other better, and as our mutual confidence increased. They can be measured only by the treasures of her mind, and the virtues of her heart. But this is a subject for meditation, not for words. What I purposed alluding to, was the improvement that I have for ever lost.

We had cultivated our powers (if I may venture to use this sort of language) in different directions; I chiefly an attempt at logical and metaphysical distinction, she a taste for the picturesque. One of the leading passions of my mind has been an anxious desire not to be deceived. This has led me to view the topics of my reflection on all sides; and to examine and re-examine without end, the questions that interest me.

But it was not merely (to judge at least from all the reports of my memory in this respect) the difference of propensities, that made the difference in our intellectual habits. I have been stimulated, as long as I can remember, by an ambition for intellectual distinction; but, as long as I can remember, I have been discouraged, when I have endeavoured to cast the sum of my intellectual value, by finding that I did not possess, in the degree of some other men, an intuitive perception of intellectual beauty. I have perhaps a strong and lively sense of the pleasures of the imagination; but I have seldom been right in aligning to them their proportionate value, but by dint of persevering examination, and the change and correction of my first opinions.

What I wanted in this respect, Mary possessed, in a degree superior to any other person I ever knew. The strength of her mind lay in intuition. She was often right, by this means only, in matters of mere speculation. Her religion, her philosophy, (in both of which the errors were comparatively few, and the strain dignified and generous) were, as I have already said, the pure result of feeling and taste. She adopted one opinion, and rejected another, spontaneously, by a sort of tact, and the force of a cultivated imagination; and yet, though perhaps, in the strict sense of the term, she reasoned little, it is surprising what a degree of soundness is to be found in her determinations. But, if this quality was of use to her in topics that seem the proper province of reasoning, it was much more so in matters directly appealing to the intellectual taste. In a robust and unwavering judgment of this sort, there is a kind of witchcraft; when it decides justly, it produces a responsive vibration in every ingenuous mind. In this sense, my oscillation and scepticism were fixed by her boldness. When a true opinion emanated in this way from another mind, the conviction produced in my own assumed a similar character, instantaneous and firm. This species of intellect probably differs from the other, chiefly in the relation of earlier and later. What the one perceives instantaneously (circumstances having produced in it, either a premature attention to objects of this sort, or a greater boldness of decision) the other receives only by degrees. What it wants, seems to be nothing more than a minute attention to first impressions, and a just appreciation of them; habits that are never so effectually generated, as by the daily recurrence of a striking example.

This light was lent to me for a very short period, and is now extinguished for ever!

While I have described the improvement I was in the act of receiving, I believe I have put down the leading traits of her intellectual character.



The severity of the long Swedish winter tends to render the people sluggish, for though this season has its peculiar pleasures, too much time is employed to guard against its inclemency.  Still as warm clothing is absolutely necessary, the women spin and the men weave, and by these exertions get a fence to keep out the cold.  I have rarely passed a knot of cottages without seeing cloth laid out to bleach, and when I entered, always found the women spinning or knitting.

A mistaken tenderness, however, for their children, makes them even in summer load them with flannels, and having a sort of natural antipathy to cold water, the squalid appearance of the poor babes, not to speak of the noxious smell which flannel and rugs retain, seems a reply to a question I had often asked — Why I did not see more children in the villages I passed through?  Indeed the children appear to be nipt in the bud, having neither the graces nor charms of their age.  And this, I am persuaded, is much more owing to the ignorance of the mothers than to the rudeness of the climate.  Rendered feeble by the continual perspiration they are kept in, whilst every pore is absorbing unwholesome moisture, they give them, even at the breast, brandy, salt fish, and every other crude substance which air and exercise enables the parent to digest.

The women of fortune here, as well as everywhere else, have nurses to suckle their children; and the total want of chastity in the lower class of women frequently renders them very unfit for the trust.

You have sometimes remarked to me the difference of the manners of the country girls in England and in America; attributing the reserve of the former to the climate — to the absence of genial suns.  But it must be their stars, not the zephyrs, gently stealing on their senses, which here lead frail women astray.  Who can look at these rocks, and allow the voluptuousness of nature to be an excuse for gratifying the desires it inspires?  We must therefore, find some other cause beside voluptuousness, I believe, to account for the conduct of the Swedish and American country girls; for I am led to conclude, from all the observations I have made, that there is always a mixture of sentiment and imagination in voluptuousness, to which neither of them have much pretension.

The country girls of Ireland and Wales equally feel the first impulse of nature, which, restrained in England by fear or delicacy, proves that society is there in a more advanced state.  Besides, as the mind is cultivated, and taste gains ground, the passions become stronger, and rest on something more stable than the casual sympathies of the moment.  Health and idleness will always account for promiscuous amours; and in some degree I term every person idle, the exercise of whose mind does not bear some proportion to that of the body.

The Swedish ladies exercise neither sufficiently; of course, grow very fat at an early age; and when they have not this downy appearance, a comfortable idea, you will say, in a cold climate, they are not remarkable for fine forms.  They have, however, mostly fine complexions; but indolence makes the lily soon displace the rose.  The quantity of coffee, spices, and other things of that kind, with want of care, almost universally spoil their teeth, which contrast but ill with their ruby lips.

The manners of Stockholm are refined, I hear, by the introduction of gallantry; but in the country, romping and coarse freedoms, with coarser allusions, keep the spirits awake.  In the article of cleanliness, the women of all descriptions seem very deficient; and their dress shows that vanity is more inherent in women than taste.

The men appear to have paid still less court to the graces.  They are a robust, healthy race, distinguished for their common sense and turn for humour, rather than for wit or sentiment.  I include not, as you may suppose, in this general character, some of the nobility and officers, who having travelled, are polite and well informed.

I must own to you that the lower class of people here amuse and interest me much more than the middling, with their apish good breeding and prejudices.  The sympathy and frankness of heart conspicuous in the peasantry produces even a simple gracefulness of deportment which has frequently struck me as very picturesque; I have often also been touched by their extreme desire to oblige me, when I could not explain my wants, and by their earnest manner of expressing that desire.  There is such a charm in tenderness!  It is so delightful to love our fellow-creatures, and meet the honest affections as they break forth.  Still, my good friend, I begin to think that I should not like to live continually in the country with people whose minds have such a narrow range.  My heart would frequently be interested; but my mind would languish for more companionable society.

The beauties of nature appear to me now even more alluring than in my youth, because my intercourse with the world has formed without vitiating my taste.  But, with respect to the inhabitants of the country, my fancy has probably, when disgusted with artificial manners, solaced itself by joining the advantages of cultivation with the interesting sincerity of innocence, forgetting the lassitude that ignorance will naturally produce.  I like to see animals sporting, and sympathise in their pains and pleasures.  Still I love sometimes to view the human face divine, and trace the soul, as well as the heart, in its varying lineaments.

A journey to the country, which I must shortly make, will enable me to extend my remarks. — Adieu!


I left Christiania yesterday.  The weather was not very fine, and having been a little delayed on the road, I found that it was too late to go round, a couple of miles, to see the cascade near Fredericstadt, which I had determined to visit.  Besides, as Fredericstadt is a fortress, it was necessary to arrive there before they shut the gate.

The road along the river is very romantic, though the views are not grand; and the riches of Norway, its timber, floats silently down the stream, often impeded in its course by islands and little cataracts, the offspring, as it were, of the great one I had frequently heard described.

I found an excellent inn at Fredericstadt, and was gratified by the kind attention of the hostess, who, perceiving that my clothes were wet, took great pains procure me, as a stranger, every comfort for the night.

It had rained very hard, and we passed the ferry in the dark without getting out of our carriage, which I think wrong, as the horses are sometimes unruly.  Fatigue and melancholy, however, had made me regardless whether I went down or across the stream, and I did not know that I was wet before the hostess marked it.  My imagination has never yet severed me from my griefs, and my mind has seldom been so free as to allow my body to be delicate.

How I am altered by disappointment!  When going to Lisbon, the elasticity of my mind was sufficient to ward off weariness, and my imagination still could dip her brush in the rainbow of fancy, and sketch futurity in glowing colours.  Now — but let me talk of something else — will you go with me to the cascade?

The cross road to it was rugged and dreary; and though a considerable extent of land was cultivated on all sides, yet the rocks were entirely bare, which surprised me, as they were more on a level with the surface than any I had yet seen.  On inquiry, however, I learnt that some years since a forest had been burnt.  This appearance of desolation was beyond measure gloomy, inspiring emotions that sterility had never produced.  Fires of this kind are occasioned by the wind suddenly rising when the farmers are burning roots of trees, stalks of beans, &c, with which they manure the ground.  The devastation must, indeed, be terrible, when this, literally speaking, wildfire, runs along the forest, flying from top to top, and crackling amongst the branches.  The soil, as well as the trees, is swept away by the destructive torrent; and the country, despoiled of beauty and riches, is left to mourn for ages.

Admiring, as I do, these noble forests, which seem to bid defiance to time, I looked with pain on the ridge of rocks that stretched far beyond my eye, formerly crowned with the most beautiful verdure.

I have often mentioned the grandeur, but I feel myself unequal to the task of conveying an idea of the beauty and elegance of the scene when the spiry tops of the pines are loaded with ripening seed, and the sun gives a glow to their light-green tinge, which is changing into purple, one tree more or less advanced contrasted with another.  The profusion with which Nature has decked them with pendant honours, prevents all surprise at seeing in every crevice some sapling struggling for existence.  Vast masses of stone are thus encircled, and roots torn up by the storms become a shelter for a young generation.  The pine and fir woods, left entirely to Nature, display an endless variety; and the paths in the woods are not entangled with fallen leaves, which are only interesting whilst they are fluttering between life and death.  The grey cobweb-like appearance of the aged pines is a much finer image of decay; the fibres whitening as they lose their moisture, imprisoned life seems to be stealing away.  I cannot tell why, but death, under every form, appears to me like something getting free to expand in I know not what element — nay, I feel that this conscious being must be as unfettered, have the wings of thought, before it can be happy.

Reaching the cascade, or rather cataract, the roaring of which had a long time announced its vicinity, my soul was hurried by the falls into a new train of reflections.  The impetuous dashing of the rebounding torrent from the dark cavities which mocked the exploring eye produced an equal activity in my mind.  My thoughts darted from earth to heaven, and I asked myself why I was chained to life and its misery.  Still the tumultuous emotions this sublime object excited were pleasurable; and, viewing it, my soul rose with renewed dignity above its cares.  Grasping at immortality — it seemed as impossible to stop the current of my thoughts, as of the always varying, still the same, torrent before me; I stretched out my hand to eternity, bounding over the dark speck of life to come.

We turned with regret from the cascade.  On a little hill, which commands the best view of it, several obelisks are erected to commemorate the visits of different kings.  The appearance of the river above and below the falls is very picturesque, the ruggedness of the scenery disappearing as the torrent subsides into a peaceful stream.  But I did not like to see a number of saw-mills crowded together close to the cataracts; they destroyed the harmony of the prospect.

The sight of a bridge erected across a deep valley, at a little distance, inspired very dissimilar sensations.  It was most ingeniously supported by mast-like trunks, just stripped of their branches; and logs, placed one across the other, produced an appearance equally light and firm, seeming almost to be built in the air when we were below it, the height taking from the magnitude of the supporting trees give them a slender graceful look.

There are two noble estates in this neighbourhood, the proprietors of which seem to have caught more than their portion of the enterprising spirit that is gone abroad.  Many agricultural experiments have been made, and the country appears better enclosed and cultivated, yet the cottages had not the comfortable aspect of those I had observed near Moss and to the westward.  Man is always debased by servitude of any description, and here the peasantry are not entirely free.  Adieu!

I almost forgot to tell you that I did not leave Norway without making some inquiries after the monsters said to have been seen in the northern sea; but though I conversed with several captains, I could not meet with one who had ever heard any traditional description of them, much less had any ocular demonstration of their existence.  Till the fact is better ascertained, I should think the account of them ought to be torn out of our geographical grammars.


Every day almost they saw their new acquaintance; and civility produced intimacy. Mary sometimes left her friend with them; while she indulged herself in viewing new modes of life, and searching out the causes which produced them. She had a metaphysical turn, which inclined her to reflect on every object that passed by her; and her mind was not like a mirror, which receives every floating image, but does not retain them: she had not any prejudices, for every opinion was examined before it was adopted.

The Roman Catholic ceremonies attracted her attention, and gave rise to conversations when they all met; and one of the gentlemen continually introduced deistical notions, when he ridiculed the pageantry they all were surprised at observing. Mary thought of both the subjects, the Romish tenets, and the deistical doubts; and though not a sceptic, thought it right to examine the evidence on which her faith was built. She read Butler’s Analogy, and some other authors: and these researches made her a christian from conviction, and she learned charity, particularly with respect to sectaries; saw that apparently good and solid arguments might take their rise from different points of view; and she rejoiced to find that those she should not concur with had some reason on their side.


Wednesday Morning.

I will never, if I am not entirely cured of quarrelling, begin to encourage “quick-coming fancies,” when we are separated. Yesterday, my love, I could not open your letter for some time; and, though it was not half as severe as I merited, it threw me into such a fit of trembling, as seriously alarmed me. I did not, as you may suppose, care for a little pain on my own account; but all the fears which I have had for a few days past, returned with fresh force. This morning I am better; will you not be glad to hear it? You perceive that sorrow has almost made a child of me, and that I want to be soothed to peace.

One thing you mistake in my character, and imagine that to be coldness which is just the contrary. For, when I am hurt by the person most dear to me, I must let out a whole torrent of emotions, in which tenderness would be uppermost, or stifle them altogether; and it appears to me almost a duty to stifle them, when I imagine that I am treated with coldness.

I am afraid that I have vexed you, my own —— . I know the quickness of your feelings — and let me, in the sincerity of my heart, assure you, there is nothing I would not suffer to make you happy. My own happiness wholly depends on you — and, knowing you, when my reason is not clouded, I look forward to a rational prospect of as much felicity as the earth affords — with a little dash of rapture into the bargain, if you will look at me, when we meet again, as you have sometimes greeted, your humbled, yet most affectionate

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It has been asserted, “That no being, merely human, could properly educate a child.” I entirely coincide with this author; but though perfection cannot be attained, and unforeseen events will ever govern human conduct, yet still it is our duty to lay down some rule to regulate our actions by, and to adhere to it, as consistently as our infirmities will permit. To be able to follow Mr. Locke’s system (and this may be said of almost all treatises on education) the parents must have subdued their own passions, which is not often the case in any considerable degree.

The marriage state is too often a state of discord; it does not always happen that both parents are rational; and the weakest have it in their power to do most mischief.

How then are the tender minds of children to be cultivated? — Mamma is only anxious that they should love her best, and perhaps takes pains to sow those seeds, which have produced such luxuriant weeds in her own mind. Or, what still more frequently occurs, the children are at first made play-things of, and when their tempers have been spoiled by indiscreet indulgence, they become troublesome, and are mostly left with servants; the first notions they imbibe, therefore, are mean and vulgar. They are taught cunning, the wisdom of that class of people, and a love of truth, the foundation of virtue, is soon obliterated from their minds. It is, in my opinion, a well-proved fact, that principles of truth are innate. Without reasoning we assent to many truths; we feel their force, and artful sophistry can only blunt those feelings which nature has implanted in us as instinctive guards to virtue. Dissimulation and cunning will soon drive all other good qualities before them, and deprive the mind of that beautiful simplicity, which can never be too much cherished.

Indeed it is of the utmost consequence to make a child artless, or to speak with more propriety, not to teach them to be otherwise; and in order to do so we must keep them out of the way of bad examples. Art is almost always practised by servants, and the same methods which children observe them to use, to shield themselves from blame, they will adopt — and cunning is so nearly allied to falsehood, that it will infallibly lead to it — it — or some foolish prevaricating subterfuge will occur, to silence any reproaches of the mind which may arise, if an attention to truth has been inculcated.

Another cause or source of art is injudicious correction. Accidents or giddy tricks are too frequently punished, and if children can conceal these, they will, to avoid chastisement. Restrain them, therefore, but never correct them without a very sufficient cause; such as a violation of truth, cruelty to animials, inferiors, or those kind of follies which lead to vice.

Children should be permitted to enter into conversation; but it requires great discernment to find out such subjects as will gradually improve them. Animals are the first objects which catch their attention; and I think little stories about them would not only amuse but instruct at the same time, and have the best effect in forming the temper and cultivating the good dispositions of the heart. There are many little books which have this tendency. One in particular I recollect: The Perambulations of a Mouse. I cannot here help mentioning a book of hymns, in measured prose written by the ingenious author of many other proper lessons for children. These hymns, I imagine, would contribute to fill the heart with religious sentiments and affections; and, if I may be allowed the expression, make the Deity obvious to the senses. The understanding, however, should not be overloaded any more than the stomach. Intellectual improvements, like the growth and formation of the body, must be gradual — yet there is no reason why the mind should lie fallow, while its “frail tenement” is imperceptibly fitting itself for a more reasonable inhabitant. It will not lie fallow; promiscuous seeds will be sown by accident, and they will shoot up with the wheat, and perhaps never be eradicated.

Whenever a child asks a question, it should always have a reasonable answer given it. Its little passions should be engaged. They are mostly fond of stories, and proper ones would improve them even while they are amused. Instead of these, their heads are filled with improbable tales, and superstitious accounts of invisible beings, which breed strange prejudices and vain fears in their minds.

The lisp of the nursery is confirmed, and vulgar phrases are acquired; which children, if possible, should never hear. To be able to express the thoughts with facility and propriety, is of great consequence in life, and if children were never led astray in this particular, it would prevent much trouble.

The riot too of the kitchen, or any other place where children are left only with servants, makes the decent restraint of the parlour irksome. A girl, who has vivacity, soon grows a romp; and if there are male servants, they go out a walking with them, and will frequently take little freedoms with Miss, the bearing with which gives a forwardness to her air, and makes her pert. The becoming modesty, which being accustomed to converse with superiors, will give a girl, is entirely done away. I must own, I am quite charmed when I see a sweet young creature, shrinking as it were from observation, and listening rather than talking. It is possible a girl may have this manner without having a very good understanding. If it should be so, this diffidence prevents her from being troublesome.

It is the duty of a parent to preserve a child from receiving wrong impressions. — As to prejudices, the first notions we have deserve that name; for it is not till we begin to waver in our opinions, that we exert our reason to examine them — and then, if they are received, they may be called our own.

The first things, then, that children ought to be encouraged to observe, are a strict adherence to truth; a proper submission to superiors; and condescension to inferiors. These are the main articles; but there are many others, which compared to them are trivial, and yet are of importance. It is not pleasing to see a child full of bows and grimaces; yet they need not be suffered to be rude. They should be employed, and such fables and tales may be culled out for them as would excite their curiosity. A taste for the beauties of nature should be very early cultivated: many things, with respect to the vegetable and animal world, may be explained in an amusing way; and this is an innocent source of pleasure within every one’s reach.

Above all, try to teach them to combine their ideas. It is of more use than can be conceived, for a child to learn to compare things that are similar in some respects, and different in others. I wish them to be taught to think — thinking, indeed, is a severe exercise, and exercise of either mind or body will not at first be entered on, but with a view to pleasure. Not that I would have them make long reflections; for when they do not arise from experience, they are mostly absurd.


July 7.

I could not help feeling extremely mortified last post, at not receiving a letter from you. My being at ——  — was but a chance, and you might have hazarded it; and would a year ago.

I shall not however complain — There are misfortunes so great, as to silence the usual expressions of sorrow — Believe me, there is such a thing as a broken heart! There are characters whose very energy preys upon them; and who, ever inclined to cherish by reflection some passion, cannot rest satisfied with the common comforts of life. I have endeavoured to fly from myself, and launched into all the dissipation possible here, only to feel keener anguish, when alone with my child.

Still, could any thing please me — had not disappointment cut me off from life, this romantic country, these fine evenings, would interest me. — My God! can any thing? and am I ever to feel alive only to painful sensations? — But it cannot — it shall not last long.

The post is again arrived; I have sent to seek for letters, only to be wounded to the soul by a negative. — My brain seems on fire, I must go into the air.

* * * *


As I am become a reviewer, I think it right, in the way of business, to consider the subject. You have alarmed the editor of the Critical, as the advertisement prefixed to the Appendix plainly shows. The Critical appears to me to be a timid, mean production, and its success is a reflection on the taste and judgment of the public; but, as a body, who ever gave it credit for much? The voice of the people is only the voice of truth, when some man of abilities has had time to get fast hold of the great nose of the monster. Of course, local fame is generally a clamour, and dies away. The Appendix to the Monthly afforded me more amusement, though every article almost wants energy and a cant of virtue and liberality is strewed over it; always tame, and eager to pay court to established fame. The account of Necker is one unvaried tone of admiration. Surely men were born only to provide for the sustenance of the body by enfeebling the mind!



Modesty! Sacred offspring of sensibility and reason! true delicacy of mind! may I unblamed presume to investigate thy nature, and trace to its covert the mild charm, that mellowing each harsh feature of a character, renders what would otherwise only inspire cold admiration — lovely! Thou that smoothest the wrinkles of wisdom, and softenest the tone of the more sublime virtues till they all melt into humanity! thou that spreadest the ethereal cloud that surrounding love heightens every beauty, it half shades, breathing those coy sweets that steal into the heart, and charm the senses — modulate for me the language of persuasive reason, till I rouse my sex from the flowery bed, on which they supinely sleep life away!

In speaking of the association of our ideas, I have noticed two distinct modes; and in defining modesty, it appears to me equally proper to discriminate that purity of mind, which is the effect of chastity, from a simplicity of character that leads us to form a just opinion of ourselves, equally distant from vanity or presumption, though by no means incompatible with a lofty consciousness of our own dignity. Modesty in the latter signification of the term, is that soberness of mind which teaches a man not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think, and should be distinguished from humility, because humility is a kind of self-abasement. A modest man often conceives a great plan, and tenaciously adheres to it, conscious of his own strength, till success gives it a sanction that determines its character. Milton was not arrogant when he suffered a suggestion of judgment to escape him that proved a prophesy; nor was General Washington when he accepted of the command of the American forces. The latter has always been characterized as a modest man; but had he been merely humble, he would probably have shrunk back irresolute, afraid of trusting to himself the direction of an enterprise on which so much depended.

A modest man is steady, an humble man timid, and a vain one presumptuous; this is the judgment, which the observation of many characters, has led me to form. Jesus Christ was modest, Moses was humble, and Peter vain.

Thus discriminating modesty from humility in one case, I do not mean to confound it with bashfulness in the other. Bashfulness, in fact, is so distinct from modesty, that the most bashful lass, or raw country lout, often becomes the most impudent; for their bashfulness being merely the instinctive timidity of ignorance, custom soon changes it into assurance.*

(*Footnote. “Such is the country-maiden’s fright,
When first a red-coat is in sight;
Behind the door she hides her face,
Next time at distance eyes the lace:
She now can all his terrors stand,
Nor from his squeeze withdraws her hand,
She plays familiar in his arms,
And every soldier hath his charms;
>From tent to tent she spreads her flame;
For custom conquers fear and shame.”)

The shameless behaviour of the prostitutes who infest the streets of London, raising alternate emotions of pity and disgust, may serve to illustrate this remark. They trample on virgin bashfulness with a sort of bravado, and glorying in their shame, become more audaciously lewd than men, however depraved, to whom the sexual quality has not been gratuitously granted, ever appear to be. But these poor ignorant wretches never had any modesty to lose, when they consigned themselves to infamy; for modesty is a virtue not a quality. No, they were only bashful, shame-faced innocents; and losing their innocence, their shame-facedness was rudely brushed off; a virtue would have left some vestiges in the mind, had it been sacrificed to passion, to make us respect the grand ruin.

Purity of mind, or that genuine delicacy, which is the only virtuous support of chastity, is near a-kin to that refinement of humanity, which never resides in any but cultivated minds. It is something nobler than innocence; it is the delicacy of reflection, and not the coyness of ignorance. The reserve of reason, which like habitual cleanliness, is seldom seen in any great degree, unless the soul is active, may easily be distinguished from rustic shyness or wanton skittishness; and so far from being incompatible with knowledge, it is its fairest fruit. What a gross idea of modesty had the writer of the following remark! “The lady who asked the question whether women may be instructed in the modern system of botany, consistently with female delicacy?” was accused of ridiculous prudery: nevertheless, if she had proposed the question to me, I should certainly have answered — They cannot.” Thus is the fair book of knowledge to be shut with an everlasting seal! On reading similar passages I have reverentially lifted up my eyes and heart to Him who liveth for ever and ever, and said, O my Father, hast Thou by the very constitution of her nature forbid Thy child to seek Thee in the fair forms of truth? And, can her soul be sullied by the knowledge that awfully calls her to Thee?

I have then philosophically pursued these reflections till I inferred, that those women who have most improved their reason must have the most modesty — though a dignified sedateness of deportment may have succeeded the playful, bewitching bashfulness of youth.*

(*Footnote. Modesty, is the graceful calm virtue of maturity; bashfulness, the charm of vivacious youth.)

And thus have I argued. To render chastity the virtue from which unsophisticated modesty will naturally flow, the attention should be called away from employments, which only exercise the sensibility; and the heart made to beat time to humanity, rather than to throb with love. The woman who has dedicated a considerable portion of her time to pursuits purely intellectual, and whose affections have been exercised by humane plans of usefulness, must have more purity of mind, as a natural consequence, than the ignorant beings whose time and thoughts have been occupied by gay pleasures or schemes to conquer hearts. The regulation of the behaviour is not modesty, though those who study rules of decorum, are, in general termed modest women. Make the heart clean, let it expand and feel for all that is human, instead of being narrowed by selfish passions; and let the mind frequently contemplate subjects that exercise the understanding, without heating the imagination, and artless modesty will give the finishing touches to the picture.

She who can discern the dawn of immortality, in the streaks that shoot athwart the misty night of ignorance, promising a clearer day, will respect, as a sacred temple, the body that enshrines such an improvable soul. True love, likewise, spreads this kind of mysterious sanctity round the beloved object, making the lover most modest when in her presence. So reserved is affection, that, receiving or returning personal endearments, it wishes, not only to shun the human eye, as a kind of profanation; but to diffuse an encircling cloudy obscurity to shut out even the saucy sparkling sunbeams. Yet, that affection does not deserve the epithet of chaste which does not receive a sublime gloom of tender melancholy, that allows the mind for a moment to stand still and enjoy the present satisfaction, when a consciousness of the Divine presence is felt — for this must ever be the food of joy!

As I have always been fond of tracing to its source in nature any prevailing custom, I have frequently thought that it was a sentiment of affection for whatever had touched the person of an absent or lost friend, which gave birth to that respect for relics, so much abused by selfish priests. Devotion, or love, may be allowed to hallow the garments as well as the person; for the lover must want fancy, who has not a sort of sacred respect for the glove or slipper of his mistress. He could not confound them with vulgar things of the same kind.

This fine sentiment, perhaps, would not bear to be analyzed by the experimental philosopher — but of such stuff is human rapture made up! — A shadowy phantom glides before us, obscuring every other object; yet when the soft cloud is grasped, the form melts into common air, leaving a solitary void, or sweet perfume, stolen from the violet, that memory long holds dear. But, I have tripped unawares on fairy ground, feeling the balmy gale of spring stealing on me, though November frowns.

As a sex, women are more chaste than men, and as modesty is the effect of chastity, they may deserve to have this virtue ascribed to them in rather an appropriated sense; yet, I must be allowed to add an hesitating if: — for I doubt, whether chastity will produce modesty, though it may propriety of conduct, when it is merely a respect for the opinion of the world, and when coquetry and the lovelorn tales of novelists employ the thoughts. Nay, from experience, and reason, I should be lead to expect to meet with more modesty amongst men than women, simply because men exercise their understandings more than women.

But, with respect to propriety of behaviour, excepting one class of females, women have evidently the advantage. What can be more disgusting than that impudent dross of gallantry, thought so manly, which makes many men stare insultingly at every female they meet? Is this respect for the sex? This loose behaviour shows such habitual depravity, such weakness of mind, that it is vain to expect much public or private virtue, till both men and women grow more modest — till men, curbing a sensual fondness for the sex, or an affectation of manly assurance, more properly speaking, impudence, treat each other with respect — unless appetite or passion gives the tone, peculiar to it, to their behaviour. I mean even personal respect — the modest respect of humanity, and fellow-feeling; not the libidinous mockery of gallantry, nor the insolent condescension of protectorship.

To carry the observation still further, modesty must heartily disclaim, and refuse to dwell with that debauchery of mind, which leads a man coolly to bring forward, without a blush, indecent allusions, or obscene witticisms, in the presence of a fellow creature; women are now out of the question, for then it is brutality. Respect for man, as man is the foundation of every noble sentiment. How much more modest is the libertine who obeys the call of appetite or fancy, than the lewd joker who sets the table in a roar.

This is one of the many instances in which the sexual distinction respecting modesty has proved fatal to virtue and happiness. It is, however, carried still further, and woman, weak woman! made by her education the slave of sensibility, is required, on the most trying occasions, to resist that sensibility. “Can any thing,” says Knox, be more absurd than keeping women in a state of ignorance, and yet so vehemently to insist on their resisting temptation? Thus when virtue or honour make it proper to check a passion, the burden is thrown on the weaker shoulders, contrary to reason and true modesty, which, at least, should render the self-denial mutual, to say nothing of the generosity of bravery, supposed to be a manly virtue.

In the same strain runs Rousseau’s and Dr. Gregory’s advice respecting modesty, strangely miscalled! for they both desire a wife to leave it in doubt, whether sensibility or weakness led her to her husband’s arms. The woman is immodest who can let the shadow of such a doubt remain on her husband’s mind a moment.

But to state the subject in a different light. The want of modesty, which I principally deplore as subversive of morality, arises from the state of warfare so strenuously supported by voluptuous men as the very essence of modesty, though, in fact, its bane; because it is a refinement on sensual desire, that men fall into who have not sufficient virtue to relish the innocent pleasures of love. A man of delicacy carries his notions of modesty still further, for neither weakness nor sensibility will gratify him — he looks for affection.

Again; men boast of their triumphs over women, what do they boast of? Truly the creature of sensibility was surprised by her sensibility into folly — into vice;* and the dreadful reckoning falls heavily on her own weak head, when reason wakes. For where art thou to find comfort, forlorn and disconsolate one? He who ought to have directed thy reason, and supported thy weakness, has betrayed thee! In a dream of passion thou consentedst to wander through flowery lawns, and heedlessly stepping over the precipice to which thy guide, instead of guarding, lured thee, thou startest from thy dream only to face a sneering, frowning world, and to find thyself alone in a waste, for he that triumphed in thy weakness is now pursuing new conquests; but for thee — there is no redemption on this side the grave! And what resource hast thou in an enervated mind to raise a sinking heart?

(*Footnote. The poor moth fluttering round a candle, burns its wings.)

But, if the sexes be really to live in a state of warfare, if nature has pointed it out, let men act nobly, or let pride whisper to them, that the victory is mean when they merely vanquish sensibility. The real conquest is that over affection not taken by surprise — when, like Heloisa, a woman gives up all the world, deliberately, for love. I do not now consider the wisdom or virtue of such a sacrifice, I only contend that it was a sacrifice to affection, and not merely to sensibility, though she had her share. And I must be allowed to call her a modest woman, before I dismiss this part of the subject, by saying, that till men are more chaste, women will be immodest. Where, indeed, could modest women find husbands from whom they would not continually turn with disgust? Modesty must be equally cultivated by both sexes, or it will ever remain a sickly hot-house plant, whilst the affectation of it, the fig leaf borrowed by wantonness, may give a zest to voluptuous enjoyments.)

Men will probably still insist that woman ought to have more modesty than man; but it is not dispassionate reasoners who will most earnestly oppose my opinion. No, they are the men of fancy, the favourites of the sex, who outwardly respect, and inwardly despise the weak creatures whom they thus sport with. They cannot submit to resign the highest sensual gratification, nor even to relish the epicurism of virtue — self-denial.

To take another view of the subject, confining my remarks to women.

The ridiculous falsities which are told to children, from mistaken notions of modesty, tend very early to inflame their imaginations and set their little minds to work, respecting subjects, which nature never intended they should think of, till the body arrived at some degree of maturity; then the passions naturally begin to take place of the senses, as instruments to unfold the understanding, and form the moral character.

In nurseries, and boarding schools, I fear, girls are first spoiled; particularly in the latter. A number of girls sleep in the same room, and wash together. And, though I should be sorry to contaminate an innocent creature’s mind by instilling false delicacy, or those indecent prudish notions, which early cautions respecting the other sex naturally engender, I should be very anxious to prevent their acquiring indelicate, or immodest habits; and as many girls have learned very indelicate tricks, from ignorant servants, the mixing them thus indiscriminately together, is very improper.

To say the truth, women are, in general, too familiar with each other, which leads to that gross degree of familiarity that so frequently renders the marriage state unhappy. Why in the name of decency are sisters, female intimates, or ladies and their waiting women, to be so grossly familiar as to forget the respect which one human creature owes to another? That squeamish delicacy which shrinks from the most disgusting offices when affection or humanity lead us to watch at a sick pillow, is despicable. But, why women in health should be more familiar with each other than men are, when they boast of their superiour delicacy, is a solecism in manners which I could never solve.

In order to preserve health and beauty, I should earnestly recommend frequent ablutions, to dignify my advice that it may not offend the fastidious ear; and, by example, girls ought to be taught to wash and dress alone, without any distinction of rank; and if custom should make them require some little assistance, let them not require it till that part of the business is over which ought never to be done before a fellow-creature; because it is an insult to the majesty of human nature. Not on the score of modesty, but decency; for the care which some modest women take, making at the same time a display of that care, not to let their legs be seen, is as childish as immodest.*

(*Footnote. I remember to have met with a sentence, in a book of education that made me smile. “It would be needless to caution you against putting your hand, by chance, under your neck-handkerchief; for a modest woman never did so!”)

I could proceed still further, till I animadverted on some still more indelicate customs, which men never fall into. Secrets are told — where silence ought to reign; and that regard to cleanliness, which some religious sects have, perhaps, carried too far, especially the Essenes, amongst the Jews, by making that an insult to God which is only an insult to humanity, is violated in a brutal manner. How can DELICATE women obtrude on notice that part of the animal economy, which is so very disgusting? And is it not very rational to conclude, that the women who have not been taught to respect the human nature of their own sex, in these particulars, will not long respect the mere difference of sex, in their husbands? After their maidenish bashfulness is once lost, I, in fact, have generally observed, that women fall into old habits; and treat their husbands as they did their sisters or female acquaintance.

Besides, women from necessity, because their minds are not cultivated, have recourse very often, to what I familiarly term bodily wit; and their intimacies are of the same kind. In short, with respect to both mind and body, they are too intimate. That decent personal reserve, which is the foundation of dignity of character, must be kept up between women, or their minds will never gain strength or modesty.

On this account also, I object to many females being shut up together in nurseries, schools, or convents. I cannot recollect without indignation, the jokes and hoiden tricks, which knots of young women indulged themselves in, when in my youth accident threw me, an awkward rustic, in their way. They were almost on a par with the double meanings, which shake the convivial table when the glass has circulated freely. But it is vain to attempt to keep the heart pure, unless the head is furnished with ideas, and set to work to compare them, in order, to acquire judgment, by generalizing simple ones; and modesty by making the understanding damp the sensibility.

It may be thought that I lay too great a stress on personal reserve; but it is ever the hand-maid of modesty. So that were I to name the graces that ought to adorn beauty, I should instantly exclaim, cleanliness, neatness, and personal reserve. It is obvious, I suppose, that the reserve I mean, has nothing sexual in it, and that I think it EQUALLY necessary in both sexes. So necessary indeed, is that reserve and cleanliness which indolent women too often neglect, that I will venture to affirm, that when two or three women live in the same house, the one will be most respected by the male part of the family, who reside with them, leaving love entirely out of the question, who pays this kind of habitual respect to her person.

When domestic friends meet in a morning, there will naturally prevail an affectionate seriousness, especially, if each look forward to the discharge of daily duties; and it may be reckoned fanciful, but this sentiment has frequently risen spontaneously in my mind. I have been pleased after breathing the sweet bracing morning air, to see the same kind of freshness in the countenances I particularly loved; I was glad to see them braced, as it were, for the day, and ready to run their course with the sun. The greetings of affection in the morning are by these means more respectful, than the familiar tenderness which frequently prolongs the evening talk. Nay, I have often felt hurt, not to say disgusted, when a friend has appeared, whom I parted with full dressed the evening before, with her clothes huddled on, because she chose to indulge herself in bed till the last moment.

Domestic affection can only be kept alive by these neglected attentions; yet if men and women took half as much pains to dress habitually neat, as they do to ornament, or rather to disfigure their persons, much would be done towards the attainment of purity of mind. But women only dress to gratify men of gallantry; for the lover is always best pleased with the simple garb that sits close to the shape. There is an impertinence in ornaments that rebuffs affection; because love always clings round the idea of home.

As a sex, women are habitually indolent; and every thing tends to make them so. I do not forget the starts of activity which sensibility produces; but as these flights of feeling only increase the evil, they are not to be confounded with the slow, orderly walk of reason. So great, in reality, is their mental and bodily indolence, that till their body be strengthened and their understanding enlarged by active exertions, there is little reason to expect that modesty will take place of bashfulness. They may find it prudent to assume its semblance; but the fair veil will only be worn on gala days.

Perhaps there is not a virtue that mixes so kindly with every other as modesty. It is the pale moon-beam that renders more interesting every virtue it softens, giving mild grandeur to the contracted horizon. Nothing can be more beautiful than the poetical fiction, which makes Diana with her silver crescent, the goddess of chastity. I have sometimes thought, that wandering with sedate step in some lonely recess, a modest dame of antiquity must have felt a glow of conscious dignity, when, after contemplating the soft shadowy landscape, she has invited with placid fervour the mild reflection of her sister’s beams to turn to her chaste bosom.

A Christian has still nobler motives to incite her to preserve her chastity and acquire modesty, for her body has been called the Temple of the living God; of that God who requires more than modesty of mien. His eye searcheth the heart; and let her remember, that if she hopeth to find favour in the sight of purity itself, her chastity must be founded on modesty, and not on worldly prudence; or verily a good reputation will be her only reward; for that awful intercourse, that sacred communion, which virtue establishes between man and his Maker, must give rise to the wish of being pure as he is pure!

After the foregoing remarks, it is almost superfluous to add, that I consider all those feminine airs of maturity, which succeed bashfulness, to which truth is sacrificed, to secure the heart of a husband, or rather to force him to be still a lover when nature would, had she not been interrupted in her operations, have made love give place to friendship, as immodest. The tenderness which a man will feel for the mother of his children is an excellent substitute for the ardour of unsatisfied passion; but to prolong that ardour it is indelicate, not to say immodest, for women to feign an unnatural coldness of constitution. Women as well as men ought to have the common appetites and passions of their nature, they are only brutal when unchecked by reason: but the obligation to check them is the duty of mankind, not a sexual duty. Nature, in these respects, may safely be left to herself; let women only acquire knowledge and humanity, and love will teach them modesty. There is no need of falsehoods, disgusting as futile, for studied rules of behaviour only impose on shallow observers; a man of sense soon sees through, and despises the affectation.

The behaviour of young people, to each other, as men and women, is the last thing that should be thought of in education. In fact, behaviour in most circumstances is now so much thought of, that simplicity of character is rarely to be seen; yet, if men were only anxious to cultivate each virtue, and let it take root firmly in the mind, the grace resulting from it, its natural exteriour mark, would soon strip affectation of its flaunting plumes; because, fallacious as unstable, is the conduct that is not founded upon truth!

(Footnote. The behaviour of many newly married women has often disgusted me. They seem anxious never to let their husbands forget the privilege of marriage, and to find no pleasure in his society unless he is acting the lover. Short, indeed, must be the reign of love, when the flame is thus constantly blown up, without its receiving any solid fuel.)

Would ye, O my sisters, really possess modesty, ye must remember that the possession of virtue, of any denomination, is incompatible with ignorance and vanity! ye must acquire that soberness of mind, which the exercise of duties, and the pursuit of knowledge, alone inspire, or ye will still remain in a doubtful dependent situation, and only be loved whilst ye are fair! the downcast eye, the rosy blush, the retiring grace, are all proper in their season; but modesty, being the child of reason, cannot long exist with the sensibility that is not tempered by reflection. Besides, when love, even innocent love, is the whole employ of your lives, your hearts will be too soft to afford modesty that tranquil retreat, where she delights to dwell, in close union with humanity.


IT is an old, but a very true observation, that the human mind must ever be employed. A relish for reading, or any of the fine arts, should be cultivated very early in life; and those who reflect can tell, of what importance it is for the mind to have some resource in itself, and not to be entirely dependant on the senses for employment and amusement. If it unfortunately is so, it must submit to meanness, and often to vice, in order to gratify them. The wisest and best are too much under their influence; and the endeavouring to conquer them, when reason and virtue will not give their sanction, constitutes great part of the warfare of life. What support, then, have they who are all senses, and who are full of schemes, which terminate in temporal objects?

Reading is the most rational employment, if people seek food for the understanding, and do not read merely to remember words; or with a view to quote celebrated authors, and retail sentiments they do not understand or feel. Judicious books enlarge the mind and improve the heart, though some, by them, “are made coxcombs whom nature meant for fools.”

Those productions which give a wrong account of the human passions, and the various accidents of life, ought not to be read before the judgment is formed, or at least exercised. Such accounts are one great cause of the affectation of young women. Sensibility is described and praised, and the effects of it represented in a way so different from nature, that those who imitate it must make themselves very ridiculous. A false taste is acquired, and sensible books appear dull and insipid after those superficial performances, which obtain their full end if they can keep the mind in a continual ferment. Gallantry is made the only interesting subject with the novelist; reading, therefore, will often co-operate to make his fair admirers insignificant.

I do not mean to recommend books of an abstracted or grave cast. There are in our language many, in which instruction and amusement are blended; the Adventurer is of this kind; I mention this book on account of its beautiful allegories and affecting tales, and similar ones may easily be selected, Reason strikes most forcibly when illustrated by the brilliancy of fancy. The sentiments which are scattered may be observed, and when they are relished, and the mind set to work, it may be allowed to chuse books for itself, for every thing will then instruct.

I would have every one try to form an opinion of an author themselves, though modesty may restrain them from mentioning it. Many are so anxious to have the reputation of taste, that they only praise the authors whose merit is indisputable. I am sick of hearing of the sublimity of Milton, the elegance and harmony of Pope, and the original, untaught genius of Shakespear. These cursory remarks are made by some who know nothing of nature, and could not enter into the spirit of those authors, or understand them.

A florid style mostly passes with the ignorant for fine writing; many sentences are admired that have no meaning in them, though they contain “words of thundering sound,” and others that have nothing to recommend them but sweet and musical terminations.

Books of theology are not calculated for young persons; religion is best taught by example. The Bible should be read with particular respect, and they should not be taught reading by so sacred a book; lest they might consider that as a task, which ought to be a source of the most exalted satisfaction.

It may be observed, that I recommend the mind’s being put into a proper train, and then left to itself. Fixed rules cannot be given, it must depend on the nature and strength of the understanding; and those who observe it can best tell what kind of cultivation will improve it. The mind is not, cannot be created by the teacher, though it may be cultivated, and its real powers found out.

The active spirits of youth may make time glide away without intellectual enjoyments; but when the novelty of the scene is worn off, the want of them will be felt, and nothing else can fill up the void. The mind is confined to the body, and must sink into sensuality; for it has nothing to do but to provide for it, “how it shall eat and drink, and wherewithal it shall be clothed.”

All kinds of refinement have been found fault with for increasing our cares and sorrows; yet surely the contrary effect also arises from them. Taste and thought open many sources of pleasure, which do not depend on fortune.

No employment of the mind is at sufficient excuse for neglecting domestic duties, and I cannot conceive that they are incompatible. A woman may fit herself to be the companion and friend of a man of sense, and yet know how to take care of his family.


Most women, and men too, have no character at all. Just opinions and virtuous passions appear by starts, and while we are giving way to the love and admiration which those qualities raise, they are quite different creatures. It is reflection which forms habits, and fixes principles indelibly on the heart; without it, the mind is like a wreck drifted about by every squall. The passion that we think most of will soon rival all the rest; it is then in our power, this way, to strengthen our good dispositions, and in some measure to establish a character, which will not depend on every accidental impulse. To be convinced of truths, and yet not to feel or act up to them, is a common thing. Present pleasure drives all before it, and adversity is mercifully sent to force us to think.

In the school of adversity we learn knowledge as well as virtue; yet we lament our hard fate, dwell on our disappointments, and never consider that our own wayward minds, and inconsistent hearts, require these needful correctives. Medicines are not sent to persons in health.

It is a well-known remark, that our very wishes give us not our wish. I have often thought it might be set down as a maxim, that the greatest disappointment we can meet with is the gratification of our fondest wishes. But truth is sometimes not pleasant; we turn from it, and doat on an illusion; and if we were not in a probationary state, we should do well to thicken the cloud, rather than dispel it.

There are some who delight in observing moral beauty, and their souls sicken when forced to view crimes and follies which could never hurt them. How numerous are the sorrows which reach such bosoms! They may truly be called human creatures; on every side they touch their fellow-mortals, and vibrate to the touch. Common humanity points out the important duties of our station; but sensibility (a kind of instinct, strengthened by reflection) can only teach the numberless minute things which give pain or pleasure.

A benevolent mind often suffers more than the object it commiserates, and will bear an inconvenience itself to shelter another from it. It makes allowance for failings though it longs to meet perfection, which it seems formed to adore. The Author of all good continually calls himself, a God long-suffering; and those most resemble him who practise forbearance. Love and compassion are the most delightful feelings of the soul, and to exert them to all that breathe is the wish of the benevolent heart. To struggle with ingratitude and selfishness is grating beyond expression: and the sense we have of our weakness, though useful, is not pleasant. Thus it is with, us, when we look for happiness, we meet with vexations: and if, now and then, we give way to tenderness, of any of the amiable passions, and taste pleasure, the mind, strained beyond its usual tone, falls into apathy. And yet we were made to be happy! But our passions will not contribute much to our bliss, till they are under the dominion of reason, and till that reason is enlightened and improved. Then sighing will cease, and all tears will be wiped away by that Being, in whose presence there is fulness of joy.

A person of tenderness must ever have particular attachments, and ever be disappointed; yet still they must be attached, in spite of human frailty; for if the mind is not kept in motion by either hope or fear, it sinks into the dreadful state before-mentioned.

I have very often heard it made a subject of ridicule, that when a person is disappointed in this world, they turn to the next. Nothing can be more natural than the transition; and it seems to me the scheme of Providence, that our finding things unsatisfactory here, should force us to think of the better country to which we are going.


Journey to London.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Reflections On The New Mode Of Raising Supplies. No Just System Of Taxation Yet Established. Paper Money. Necessity Of Gradual Reform.

THE task certainly was very difficult, at this crisis, for a minister to give satisfaction to the people, and yet supply the wants of the state; for it was not very likely that the public, who had been exclaiming against the incessant demands of the old government, would have been pleased with new burdens, or patiently endured them. Still it is always the height of folly in a financier, to attempt to supply the exigencies of government by any but specific and certain means: for such vague measures will ever produce a deficit, the consequences of which are most pernicious to public credit and private comfort.

A man, who has a precise sum to live upon, generally takes into his estimate of expences a certain part of his income as due to the government, for the protection and social advantages it secures him. This proportion of his income being commonly the same from period to period, he lays it by for that particular purpose, and contentedly enjoys the remainder. But, should a weak minister, or a capricious government, call on him for an additional sum, because the taxes have proved unproductive, either through the inability of some of the members of the state, or that they were laid on articles of consumption, and the consumption has not been equal to the calculation; it not only deranges his schemes of domestic economy, but may be the cause of the most serious inconvenience.

A man who has a limited income, and a large family, is not only obliged to be very industrious to support them, but he is likewise necessitated to make all his arrangements with the greatest circumspection and exactness; because a trifling loss, by involving him in debt, might lead to his ruin, including that of his family. The rich man, indeed, seldom thinks of these most cruel misfortunes; for a few pounds, more or less, are of no real importance to him. Yet the poor man, nay even the man of moderate fortune, is liable to have his whole scheme of life broken by a circumstance of this kind, and all his future days embittered by a perpetual struggle with pecuniary vexations.

Governments, which ought to protect, and not oppress mankind, cannot be too regular in their demands; for the manner of levying taxes is of the highest importance to political economy, and the happiness of individuals. No government has yet established a just system of taxation : for in every country the expences of government have fallen unequally on the citizens; and, perhaps, it is not possible to render them perfectly equal, but by laying all the taxes on land, the mother of every production.

In this posture of affairs, the enthusiasm of the French in the cause of liberty might have been turned to the advantage of a new and permanent system of finance. An able, bold minister, who possessed the confidence of the nation, might have recommended with success the taking of the national property under the direct management of the assembly; and then endeavouring to raise a loan on that property, he would have given respectability to the new government, by immediately procuring the supplies indispensably necessary not only to keep it, but to put it in motion.

In times of civil commotion, or during a general convulsion, men who have money, and they are commonly most timid and cautious, are very apt to take care of it, even at the expence of their interest; and, therefore, it was to be presumed, that the monied men of France would not have been very ready to subscribe to the different loans proposed by the minister, unless the security had been obvious, or the speculative advantages exorbitant. But if Necker, whom the prudent usurer adored as his tutelar god, had said to the nation ‘there is a property worth 4,700,000,000 l. independent of the property of the emigrants, take it into your immediate possession; and, whilst the sales are going on, give it as a guarantee for the loan you want. This just and dignisied measure will not only relieve your present necessities, but it will be sufficient to enable you to fulfil great part of your former engagements.’ There would have been then no need of the eloquence of Mirabeau; reason would have done the business; and men, attending to their own interest, would have promoted the public good, without having their heads turned giddy by romantic flights of heroism.

The immediate and incessant wants of a state must always be supplied; prudence therefore, requires, that the directors of the finances should rather provide by anticipation for it’s wants than suffer a deficit. The government being once in arrears, additional taxes become indispensable to bring forward the balance, or the nation must have recourse to paper notes; an expedient, as experience has shown, always to be dreaded, because by increasing the debt it only extends the evil. And this increasing debt, like a ball of snow, gathering as it rolls, soon attains a wonderful magnitude. Every state, which has unavoidably accumulated it’s debt, ought, provided those at the helm wish to preserve the government, and extend the security and comforts of it’s citizens, to take every just measure to render the interest secure, and to fund the principal; for as it augments, like the petrifying mass, it stands in the way of all improvement, spreading the chilling miseries of poverty around — till the evil baffling all expedients, a mighty crash produces a new order of things, overwhelming, with the ruins of the old, thousands of innocent victims.

The precious metals have been considered as the best of all possible signs of value, to facilitate the exchange of commodities, to supply our reciprocal wants: and they will ever be necessary to our comfort, whilst by the common consent of mankind they are the standards of exchange. Gold and silver have a specific value, because it is not easy to accumulate them beyond a certain quantity. Paper, on the contrary, is a dangerous expedient, except under a well established government: and even then the business ought to be conducted with great moderation and sagacity. — Perhaps it would be wise, that it’s extent should be consistent with the commerce of the country, and the quantity of species actually in it — But it is the spirit of commerce to stretch credit too far. The notes, also, which are issued by a state before it’s government is well established, will certainly be depreciated; and in proportion as they grow precarious, the gold and silver, which was formerly in circulation will vanish, and every article of trade, and all the comforts of life, will bear a higher price.

These are considerations, which ought to have occurred to the French minister, and have led him to take decided measures. The interest of the national debt was 255,395,141 l. by a report for the year 1792. — Necker, by his account dated the 1st of may, 1789, states the income at 475,294,000 l., and the expences at 531,533,000 l.: consequently there was a deficiency of 56,239,000 l.; and it was not probable, it could not even be expected, that during the convulsions of a revolution, the taxes would be regularly paid: the debt, then, and the demands of the state, must increase.

The credit of every government greatly depends on the regulation of it’s finances; and the most certain way to have given stability to the new system, would have been by making such arrangements as would have insured promptitude of payment. No minister ever had it so much in his power to have taken measures glorious for France, beneficial to Europe, happy for the people of the day, and advantageous to posterity. No epocha, since the inflated system of paper (the full blown bladders of public credit, which may be destroyed by the prick of a pin) was invented, ever appeared so favourable as that juncture in France, to have overturned it completely: and by overlooking these circumstances, the nation has probably lost most of the advantages, which her finances might have gained by the revolution.

Such mistakes, whilst they involve in them a thousand difficulties, prove the necessity of gradual reform; lest the light, suddenly breaking-in on a benighted people, should overpower the understanding it ought to direct. The line in which Necker had been accustomed to move, by restraining what little energy his mind was capable of exerting, precluded the possibility of his seeing the faint lines marked on an expansive scale, which afforded the data for calculations; and the nation, confiding to him the direction of a business for which he had not sufficient talents, seems to have contemplated in imagination a prospect, which has not yet been realized; and whilst expectation hovered on it’s margin, the dazzling scenery was obscured by clouds the most threatening and tremendous.

These are evils that from the beginning of time have attended precipitate and great changes. The improvements in philosophy and morals have been extremely tardy. All sudden revolutions have been as suddenly overturned, and things thrown back below their former state. The improvements in the science of politics have been still more slow in their advancement than those of philosophy and morals; but the revolution in France has been progressive. It was a revolution in the minds of men; and only demanded a new system of government to be adapted to that change. This was not generally perceived; and the politicians of the day ran wildly from one extreme to the other, without recollecting, that even Moses sojourning forty years in the wilderness could but conduct the jews to the borders of the promised land, after the first generation had perished in their prejudices; the most inveterate sins of men.

This is not a discouraging consideration. Our ancestors have laboured for us; and we, in our turn, must labour for posterity. It is by tracing the mistakes, and profiting from the discoveries of one generation, that the next is able to take a more elevated stand. The first inventor of any instrument has scarcely ever been able to bring it to a tolerable degree of perfection; and the discoveries of every man of genius, the optics of Newton excepted, have been improved, if not extended, by their followers. — Can it then be expected, that the science of politics and finance, the most important, and most difficult of all human improvements; a science which involves the passions, tempers, and manners of men and nations, estimates their wants, maladies, comforts, happiness, and misery, and computes the sum of good or evil flowing from social institutions; will not require the same gradations, and advance by steps equally slow to that state of perfection necessary to secure the sacred rights of every human creature?

The vanity and weakness of men have continually tended to retard this progress of things: still it is going forward; and though the fatal presumption of the headstrong French, and the more destructive ambition of their foreign enemies, have given it a check, we may contemplate with complacent serenity the approximation of the glorious era, when the appellations of fool and tyrant will be synonymous.


Market Harborough, Sept. 20.

My dear sir,       

You left me with three opulent tradesmen; their conversation was not calculated to beguile the way, when the sable curtain concealed the beauties of nature. I listened to the tricks of trade — and shrunk away, without wishing to grow rich; even the novelty of the subjects did not render them pleasing; fond as I am of tracing the passions in all their different forms — I was not surprised by any glimpse of the sublime, or beautiful — though one of them imagined I would be a useful partner in a good firm. I was very much fatigued, and have scarcely recovered myself. I do not expect to enjoy the same tranquil pleasures Henley afforded: I meet with new objects to employ my mind; but many painful emotions are complicated with the reflections they give rise to.

I do not intend to enter on the old topic, yet hope to hear from you — and am yours, &c.

mary wollstonecraft.


IN the following pages I have endeavoured to point out some important things with respect to female education. It is true, many treatises have been already written; yet it occurred to me, that much still remained to be said. I shall not swell these sheets by writing apologies for my attempt. I am afraid, indeed, the reflections will, by some, be thought too grave; but I could not make them less so without writing affectedly; yet, though they may be insipid to the gay, others may not think them so; and if they should prove useful to one fellow-creature, and beguile any hours, which sorrow has made heavy, I shall think I have not been employed in vain.


Jan. 30.

From the purport of your last letters, I would suppose that this will scarcely reach you; and I have already written so many letters, that you have either not received, or neglected to acknowledge, I do not find it pleasant, or rather I have no inclination, to go over the same ground again. If you have received them, and are still detained by new projects, it is useless for me to say any more on the subject. I have done with it for ever — yet I ought to remind you that your pecuniary interest suffers by your absence.

 ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  — 

 ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  — 

 ——  ——  ——  ——  ——  — 

For my part, my head is turned giddy, by only hearing of plans to make money, and my contemptuous feelings have sometimes burst out. I therefore was glad that a violent cold gave me a pretext to stay at home, lest I should have uttered unseasonable truths.

My child is well, and the spring will perhaps restore me to myself. — I have endured many inconveniences this winter, which should I be ashamed to mention, if they had been unavoidable. “The secondary pleasures of life,” you say, “are very necessary to my comfort:” it may be so; but I have ever considered them as secondary. If therefore you accuse me of wanting the resolution necessary to bear the common[100-A] evils of life; I should answer, that I have not fashioned my mind to sustain them, because I would avoid them, cost what it would —— 


* * * *


 — , Wednesday, Two o’Clock.

We arrived here about an hour ago. I am extremely fatigued with the child, who would not rest quiet with any body but me, during the night — and now we are here in a comfortless, damp room, in a sort of a tomb-like house. This however I shall quickly remedy, for, when I have finished this letter, (which I must do immediately, because the post goes out early), I shall sally forth, and enquire about a vessel and an inn.

I will not distress you by talking of the depression of my spirits, or the struggle I had to keep alive my dying heart. — It is even now too full to allow me to write with composure. — * * * * *, — dear * * * * *, — am I always to be tossed about thus? — shall I never find an asylum to rest contented in? How can you love to fly about continually — dropping down, as it were, in a new world — cold and strange! — every other day? Why do you not attach those tender emotions round the idea of home, which even now dim my eyes? — This alone is affection — every thing else is only humanity, electrified by sympathy.

I will write to you again to-morrow, when I know how long I am to be detained — and hope to get a letter quickly from you, to cheer yours sincerely and affectionately

* * * *

 ——  — is playing near me in high spirits. She was so pleased with the noise of the mail-horn, she has been continually imitating it. —— Adieu!


It was the will of Providence that Mary should experience almost every species of sorrow. Her father was thrown from his horse, when his blood was in a very inflammatory state, and the bruises were very dangerous; his recovery was not expected by the physical tribe.

Terrified at seeing him so near death, and yet so ill prepared for it, his daughter sat by his bed, oppressed by the keenest anguish, which her piety increased.

Her grief had nothing selfish in it; he was not a friend or protector; but he was her father, an unhappy wretch, going into eternity, depraved and thoughtless. Could a life of sensuality be a preparation for a peaceful death? Thus meditating, she passed the still midnight hour by his bedside.

The nurse fell asleep, nor did a violent thunder storm interrupt her repose, though it made the night appear still more terrific to Mary. Her father’s unequal breathing alarmed her, when she heard a long drawn breath, she feared it was his last, and watching for another, a dreadful peal of thunder struck her ears. Considering the separation of the soul and body, this night seemed sadly solemn, and the hours long.

Death is indeed a king of terrors when he attacks the vicious man! The compassionate heart finds not any comfort; but dreads an eternal separation. No transporting greetings are anticipated, when the survivors also shall have finished their their course; but all is black! — the grave may truly be said to receive the departed — this is the sting of death!

Night after night Mary watched, and this excessive fatigue impaired her own health, but had a worse effect on Ann; though she constantly went to bed, she could not rest; a number of uneasy thoughts obtruded themselves; and apprehensions about Mary, whom she loved as well as her exhausted heart could love, harassed her mind. After a sleepless, feverish night she had a violent fit of coughing, and burst a blood-vessel. The physician, who was in the house, was sent for, and when he left the patient, Mary, with an authoritative voice, insisted on knowing his real opinion. Reluctantly he gave it, that her friend was in a critical state; and if she passed the approaching winter in England, he imagined she would die in the spring; a season fatal to consumptive disorders. The spring! — Her husband was then expected. — Gracious Heaven, could she bear all this.

In a few days her father breathed his last. The horrid sensation