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and ambition, or through the gloomy strictness of Calvinistic devotion, produces much unnecessary misery, and clouds with the irksome sense of slavery, the soft gay morning of youth ;-that it eventually leads to ruinous misconduct, when the natural desire of freedom from restraint so painful, makes young women seize the first opportunity of Hymeneal emancipation from parental despotism; regardless of their hearts indifference, perhaps averseness, and considering only the wealth which may give to personal self-government, and the command of time, the power of wasting it in the splendid crowds of fashionable levity. Like the French nation, unused to rational liberty, they will rush into licentiousness.
Were I a mother, instead of adopting Mr G.'s and Mr W's voluminous number of penal laws for the souls of youthful females, I would substitute the following exertions. I would induce them to be religious, by applying the Christian system rather to their hopes than to their fears. I would endeavour to inspire them with an high sense of virgin honour and truth, and of the grace and beauty of rational decorum--with a terror as well as abhorrence of female libertinism, by placing before their eyes, from real life, strong instances of its misery ;-while, by every opportunity of judicious ridicule, I would inspire a sove
reign contempt of male profligacy; of gamesters, sots, fops, and fox-hunters. Thus, instead of making myself and my daughters ridiculous, as Mr Gisborne advises, by demanding testimonials of the moral and pious character of every man who may ask them to dance a couple of dances at a ball, I should depend upon their principles and good sense for despising, instead of being corrupted by improper conversation, or indecent freedom in the momentary pauses of the dance ;-attempts which it is in the utmost degree improbable that they should encounter, even from the most abandoned libertine. When the dance is over, by all the indispensable rules of fashionable life, every young woman takes her seat by her mother or chaperon.
I would very early introduce my daughters to the finest English writers, both in prose or verse, rather than devote all their leisure to the comparatively worthless acquisition of modern accomplishments. I would teach them to turn, with disgust, from the perusal of frivolous novels, not by invective, not by prohibition, but by early setting their taste above them, and this, by familiarizing their memory and mind with the two great works of Richardson, which involve all that can operate as warning and example; all that is elevated and beautiful in imagination, in wit, in eloquence, in characteristic discrimination and in piety.
Thus fortifying their understandings and their hearts, I would disdain coercion, and even teasing interference-every thing that wears the slightest appearance of suspicious watchfulness. So should their home be delightful; nor would an indiscriminating desire of leaving it for the married state, subject them to the danger of an unhappy marriage—while their habits of life and taste for literature, must preclude the discontents of celibacy, should celibacy be their lot.
All you write on the subject of your oceanic enthusiasm, peculiarly gratifies me. What exquisite delights do they lose--and the word they comprehends the million--to whom sensations like these are unknown! Among my hundred sonnets, now ready for the press, but waiting the dawn of happier periods for their publication, there is * one so entirely in unison with the third page
of the letter before me, that I am tempted to inclose it.
I hope our churlish summer and drizzling autumn have produced no lasting bad consequence to your health. We expected from this month a little golden influence of sunny morn and noon;and behold it anticipates the glooms of November! Adieu!
* Ninety-fifth Sonnet.--.S.
Lichfield, Oct. 30, 1797. Be my beloved Miss Ponsonby and Lady Eleanor assured, that I consider Langollen Vale as my little Elysium. It is nowhere that my understanding, my taste, and my sentiments luxuriate in such vivid and unallayed gratification. Whether those arbitrary contingencies of life and health, which so perpetually deride our free-agency, shall propitiate the flattering wishes of my charming friends, or shall impel my next summer's course a less interesting way, is in the book of destiny. I do not presume to read its page, but I know whither my inclinations would point, and how prone they would be to adopt the language of Imogen, and exclaim, "accessible is no way but the Cambrian.”
On my road home, imagination gave back to me the image of good Mrs Roberts in a tragi-comic situation, as I had several times, on my late visit, seen her, in the hours of baffled expectation; of chagrin for dinners and suppers, prepared in
vain, mixed with the more serious gloom of sisterly apprehension. She always remains till near dinner time in her very pleasant bed-room on the ground floor; and there, in her tristful days, I used to behold her, the large Venetian sash lifted up to its utmost extent, sitting in an arm-chair before it, in broad attitude, with contracted lips, wide eyes, and Ugolino brow, exactly opposite old * Castel Dinas Bran, which, separated only by that narrow glen, stood staring upon her in rigid opposition;- its dark mass, unsoftened by distance, frowning like herself, in dun cogitation. O! there was no desiring better sympathy, or a more twin resemblance between a matron and a mountain.
Yet do I chide my whimsical fancy for sporting, though but for a moment, with the slightest distresses of an heart so friendly and hospitablewith whatever gives the iron traits to a countenance, which, when all goes well, is open and affectionatc. Alas! disease, embarrassment, anxiety, and mortification, not imaginary, but serious and severe, have gloomed at times one of the cheerfulest dispositions in the world, and somewhat
The singular conic mountain in Langollen Vale, crowned with the bare and desolated fragments of the walls of the : Castle.-S.