« TrướcTiếp tục »
By this way of training, my feelings were rendered fo acute, and my heart fo foftened by luxury, that, as the poet fings:
I was fent, in compliance with the abominable fafhion of the times, to a London boarding-fchool, where, by my beauty, addrefs, and connections, I contrived to be as idle as my heart could almost defire, but learnt to relish dress, dancing, plays, and other places of public amusement; and, at fifteen, I came home thoroughly furnished unto all the works of idleness, but without a fingle atom of that fenfe or experience which is neceffary to regulate my conduct in real life.
I was now introduced by my mother into company, and permitted to dance at public affemblies; not that the approved of the frequent repetition of this indulgence, but, as she used to say, that as my father could give me little or no fortune, and the forrows of life. would come foon enough, it were pity not to make me as happy as poffible at prefent, especially as nobody knew where a bleffing might light, and that I might get a rich and great husband, who would have the advantage of finding me a sheet of white paper, upon which he might write according to his pleasure, and have, what the called, a wife of his own making.
Very foon did I get a husband; but he was neither very great nor very opulent, but amiable, sensible, and profeffionally eminent. He loved me exceedingly; but fo far from my becoming a wife of his own making, that he became very foon infinitely too much a husband of my making; indulging me in every thing that his fortune would allow.
In a few years, I loft my husband; and having loft myself long before, you may guefs my fituation.
I could no longer indulge myfelf, without bankruptcy and difgrace, in my former pleafures; and I had no resources at home, or in my own mind, to fill up the horrible chaẩm that now appeared, and was foon bitterly felt in my own existence.
The common decencies of widowhood required fome degree of feclufion from gay fociety for half a year; and I had no relish for any other. Driven by this event to the abfolute neceflity of doing fomething to amufe myself, I had courage enough to begin, and follow out a plan of female education, and had fix hours a day for inftruction in the various departments of needle-work, French, and literature. All was fo new to me in the latter, that I became fond of it. I took a courfe of all the beft French and English claffics that were within the reach of my capacity. I wrote down my obfervations as I went along; and I fhewed them to my inftructors. I found that a knowledge of grammar increased my pleasure in reading; and not fatisfied with verbal, I ftudied univerfal grammar, which I found perfectly enchanting. Novels, at least the trash dignified by that name in Britain, gave me nomore delight. I found real hiftory infinitely more amufing; for, being copious of nature, or rather originals, they had an effect upon my taste and perception, which I was quite unable to account for, but which I fenfibly experienced fo much, as to prefer them to every other kind of general reading.
I happened accidentally to meet with a little English compend of Botany; I learnt to distinguish the various kinds of plants, according to the modern fyftem, and amufed myself, on my field walks, with gathering, arranging, and diftinguishing the different fpecies of plants; and having a turn for drawing, a mafter foon taught me to apply my pencil to the copying these charming productions of nature. I did not stop here; for I ftudied the economy and culture of useful trees, hrubs and vegetables; and having a little garden in
the country on Enfield chace, I fet myself to verify my studies by actual operations, many of which I performed with my own hand. The pleasure of gardening led me to inquire concerning the nature of manures, the growth of plants; and their qualities drawing me gradually on to the knowledge of foffils ufeful in agriculture, or of plants useful in manufactures; in hort, I became rationally curious, and was rationally employed. I was no longer difgufted with my own infignificancy, and no longer brooded over my disap pointments.
The outfides of men became lefs interefting to me than formerly. I wished to know if there was any
thing within my lovers, before I paid any attention to their external exhibition.
Having thus recovered my fenfes, and applied them to the recovery of my character, and the securing of my own happiness, independent of the world, though 1 had only a very moderate jointure, I was able to make it fufficient for all my defires; and my prudence obtained me a proposal of marriage from a gentleman of competent estate in the country, whose hand I accepted; and I hope I may venture to say, that he is fatisfied with my conduct as a wife and mother, and my manners as a companion, and affectionate friend, who, if he should detect my hand in this letter, will, I dare fay, forgive my becoming authorefs anonymously, for the good of the ladies to whom I recommend, especially on their marriage, the reading of Dean Swift's let ter to a very young one upon that occafion; which, to fave them the unfufferable fatigue of looking over the indexes of 13 volumes, I beg leave to inform them, is to be found in the beginning of the fourth of the common editions.
I am, Mr. Editor, your conftant reader and ad
A FORTUNATE DAUGHTER OF IDLENESS.
To the Editor of the Bee.
I HAVE read your Glasgow correfpondent's anecdotes of Smith, which I dare fay are very authentic; and perhaps he may be in the right, that the Doctor would not have been very angry to have had fuch trifles repeated in the circle of focial intercourfe; but I knew him too well to think he would have liked to have had a pisgah view of fuch frivolous matter obtruded on the learned world after his death. He would very probably have said, Why, Sir, I would rather body were injected by Hunter or Monro, and fhewn in Fleet Street, or at Weir's mufæum, than have these fecretions of my mind in private converfation, made a fpectacle of to philofophers, when I am laid in my grave!
I had the happiness, Sir, to be a difciple of Adam Smith's when he was at Glasgow. I went there on purpose, after I had entered the bufy world, and completed all the courses in the universities of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, and refided some time at Oxford, that I might, after the manner of the ancients, walk in the Porticos of Glasgow, with Smith and with Millar, and be imbued with the principles of jurisprudence, law, and philofophy.
I paffed most of my time at Glasgow with these two first rate men; and Smith read private lectures to me in jurifprudence, and accompanied them with his commentaries in converfation; exercises which I hope will give a colour and a fubftance to my fentiments, and to my reafon, that will be eternal.
He was a great man, Sir; but, no doubt, he had his weakneffes. They were the weakneffes of a good man, who had feen much of the furface, but little of the inte rior of what is commonly called the world.
He paffed the younger part of his life in a cloyster at Oxford, having been one of Snell's exhibitioners, trom Glasgow college to Baliol.
His mother was a most virtuous and excellent woman, and impreffed the Doctor's mind, when a boy, with the most exalted and correct principles of conduct, which he retained and improved to a degree I thought exceedingly uncommon.
He was always of Dr. Young the poet's opinion, that high worth was "elevated place; that it made more "than monarchs made, an honest man !"
I never knew a man more amiable in this refped; but when he met with honeft men whom he liked, and who courted him, he would believe almost any thing they faid. Had he been a friend of the worthy ingenious Horrox, he would have believed that the moon fometimes disappeared in a clear fky without the interpofition of a cloud; or of another truly honeft and respectable man, that a profeffor of mathematics at Upfal had a tail of fix inches long at his rump. The three great avenues to Smith, were his mother, his books, and his political opinions. The conquest of him was easy through any of these channels; and this came to be very foon known by the Dolphins that played in the wake of his great navigation in literature.
He approached to republicanism in his political principles; and confidered a commonwealth as the platform for a monarchy, hereditary fucceffion in the chief magiftrate being neceffary only to prevent the commonwealth from being fhaken by ambition, or abfolute dominion introduced by the confequences of contending factions. Yet Pitt and Dundas, praifing his book, and adopting its principles in parliament, brought him down from London a Tory, and a Pittite, instead of a Whig and a Foxite, as he was when he fet out. By and bye, the impreffion wore off, and his former fentiments returned, but unconnected either with Pitt, Fox, or any body elfe. I faw him for the last time in