Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

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 also 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, have I 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

further 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 motives ; 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.

“ K. B.”

The case of Mr. K. B. may perhaps be exaggerated ; but I suspect his situation is not altogether uncommon. Indeed I have been often surprised to see men of excellent sense in

every

other particular, 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 condition 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 expense 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.

А

No. 89. TUESDAY, MARCH 14, 1780.

“ TO THE AUTIIOR OF THE MIRROR.

66 SIR,

“I was lately one of a pretty numerous company of both sexes, when a lady then going to be married 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 accomplished 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 ? Read. ing 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 ridiculous nonsense. I am sure I never saw a woman's learning have any other effect than to make her conceited of herself, and a plague to her neighbours. Were I to enter the shackles, I have too much regard to my own ease to choose a lady of reflection; and had l any daughters, I should probably 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 understanding 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 ineant 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.

“ A young gentleman, who, from his correct manner of speaking, I suppose practised the law, and who had hitherto listened with great attention, then took upon him to be our sex's advocate, and was proceeding to show, in a very sensible manner, as I thought, the little danger that was to be feared, and the great advantage that might be reaped, from a young lady's appropriating a considerable part of her time to reading, provided her studies were properly directed; when the arrival of some ceremonious visitors put an end to the conversation; and the company sat down to cards. When I came home, I could not help reflecting with a good deal of uneasiness, on what I had heard. For if there is really no such thing as mental accomplishments rendering a young lady more amiable, or if reading is to be of no real service to us, I have certainly employed a great part of my past life to very little purpose. I was brought up in the country, where reading was not only my greatest amusement, but I was always told, that by that, and making proper reflections on what I read, I should become contented with myself, and be beloved and respected by all who knew me; and by these improvements alone could hope to equal my sister, who is a great deal handsomer than I, but who could seldom be persuaded to

open a book.

“ But the conversation above-mentioned, which happened very soon after I came to town, has raised many doubts in my mind as to the real importance of my former studies. I have mentioned my uneasiness to several of my female companions, who are all, especially such as are not handsome, very much interested in it, and would be very happy to see a MIRROR on this subject, though they were much

« VorigeDoorgaan »