« VorigeDoorgaan »
English authors. Poor, helpless, and dependant as I am, something within tells me that I am supe. rior—but I have no title to be proud. . .
For some time, the only pleasant moments which I had in Mr. M.'s family, were those employed in reading with my eldest pupil. But this continued a very short time. The young gentleman soon began to despise one, whom he saw his father and his father's friends treat with so much disrespect; and instead of following my directions, took care to do the very reverse of whatever I desired him. I perceived also he made me the subject of jest with his companions. In vain did I endeavour to represent: this in the gentlest manner to Mr. M. I was the worse used for my complaints ; he ascribed his son's little progress to my remissness; not to any fault in the boy, who, I soon found, had much more infuence with his father, in regard to his education, than I had.
Such, Mr.MIRROR, is my situation with the upper membersofthe family. With those of an inferior rank, it is not a whit more agreeable John, the footman, receives a salary nearly equal to mine, and he wears. a better coat. 'He, therefore, looks upon himself as a finer gentleman than me ; and, as I am but little respected by those whom he considers as his betters, he does not think himself bound to respect me at all. At dinner, he seldom hears when I call; and, when he does, I often get fish-sauce to my pudding, and pepper instead of sugar to my pan-cakes. Nor is John to be blamed for this ; for he sees his master give me port or punch, while he and his guests drink claret. For some time, indeed, after I came to reside in the family, I received much complaisance from Mrs. Deborah Hitchcock, the housekeeper. Mrs. Deborah is now considerably past her fortieth year; in her person thick and squabby, with a
mouth a little awry, and eyes a little asquint. Mrs. Deborah frequently sends her compliments, and asks me to drink tea with her, or invites me to evening entertainments with her gossiping companions. She is sometimes aloo so kind as to visit me in my own apartment,- says, she wonders I do not tire when alone ; that she and I, from our situation in the family, should be companions to each other ; and she has several times hinted, that by her long residence in Mr. M.'s, she has acquired a sum which might be of use to a young man like me. · Thus, Sir, I have given you a view of my situation in Mr. M.'s family for more than two years past that I have resided in it. My pupil is doing no good under my care. I am not respected in the family; the servants insult me; and my farther progress in learning is stopped. I have often resolved to give up my place; but what will become of me if I do? Others will not enter into my mo. tives ; they will attribute my conduct to folly or ill temper; and I shall be thrown upon the wide world without a friend, without money, and with a mind ill calculated to struggle with poverty and misfortunes. It has occurred to me, that if you print this letter, and Mr. M. chance to see it, it may produce some change in my situation ; or, if it has no other effect, it may at least serve as a justification of my conduct in leaving his family.
I am, &c. :
The case of Mr. K. B, may perhaps be exagge, rated ; but I suspect his situation is not altogether uncommon. Indeed I have been often surprised to see men of excellent sense in every other para
ticular, and fond of their children, so inattentive to those who have the care of them. It should not, methinks, require much reflection to convince them, that there is a good deal of respect due to those on whom so important a trust as the education of their children is devolved ; it should require but little observation to satisfy them, that, unless the parents regard the tutor, it is impossible the chil. dren can ; that, unless the instructor be honoured, his precepts will be contemned. Even independent of these considerations, something is due to a young man of education and of learning, who, though his situation may make it necessary for him to receive a salary for his labours, may, from that learning which he has received, and that taste which it has given him, have a mind as independent as the wealthiest, and as delicate as the highest born. · But, while I venture to suggest those hints to such gentlemen as may be in a situation to afford tutors for their children, I would recommend the perusal of Mr. B.'s letter to persons in that condi. tion from which he has sprung. I have of late remarked with regret, in this country, a disposition in many, who, from their station and circumstances, ought to have been bred farmers or manufacturers, to become scholars and men of learned professions. Let such persons and their parents be assured, that though there may be a few singular instances to the contrary, there is no pursuit which requires a competency, in point of fortune, more than that of a man of learning. A young man who has not enough to make him easy, and to bear the expence requisite for carrying on his education, can hardly be expected to rise to any eminence. The meanness of his situation will humble and depress him, and render him unfit for any thing elegant or great ; or, if this should not be the case, there is much
danger of his becoming a prey to anxiety and chagrin, and perhaps passing a neglected and a miserable life. K. B. seems to have suffered much; he may still have much to suffer ; had he followed his father's profession, he might have been both happy and useful.
No 89. TUESDAY, MARCH 14, 1780.
To the AUTHOR of the MIRROR.
SIR, I was lately one of a pretty numerous company of both sexes, when a lady then going to be inarried was the subject of conversation, and was mentioned by a gentleman present, as a very accomplished woman, to which the company in general assented. One lady remarked, she had often heard that phrase made use of, without being able precisely to understand what was meant by it ; that she doubted not it was bestowed with propriety on Miss ;but, as she was not of her acquaintance, she wished to know, whether, when one was said to be an ace complished woman, we were to understand such accomplishments as music, dancing, French, &c. which a boarding school affords; or those higher attainments which the mind is supposed to acquire by reading and reflection ? Reading and reflection !' repeated, with an ironical sneer, a very fine gentleman, who sat opposite to her ; ' I wonder ! how any one can fill girls' heads with such ridicu
• lous nonsense. I am sure I never saw a woman's • learning have any other effect than to make her o conceited of herself, and a plague to her neigh• bours. Were I to enter the shackles, I have too 6 much regard to my own ease to choose a lady of o reflection, and had I any daughters, I should pro• bably have plague enough with them, without
their being readers. Another lady, without taking the smallest notice of what the gentleman had said, observed, that she did not wonder young ladies were discouraged from taking much pains in improving their minds, as whatever a girl's un. derstanding or mental accomplishments might be, they were universally neglected, at least by the gentlemen ; and the company of any fool, provided she was handsome, preferred to theirs. - But, as this lady was rather homely, I durst not rely on her opinion.—An elderly gentleman then said, he did not see that reading could do a woman any harm, provided they confined themselves to books fit for them, and did not meddle with subjects they could not understand-such as religion and politics. As to the first, he said, that if a woman went regularly to church, said her prayers, read her Bible, and did as she was bid, he thought it all that was necessary; and as for politics, it was a subject far beyond the reach of any female capacity. This gentleman had a little before given a very circumstantial (and I am sure I thought a very tiresome) account of the method of making votes for the next general election, to which the company seemed to pay very little attention; and. if that was what he meant by politics, he was certainly in the right; for I acknowledge I did not understand one word of it ; nor did any of the ladies present, as I afterwards found, comprehend it more than myself.