Henry J. (Henry John) Van-Lennep.

The American lady's preceptor : a compilation of observations, essays and poetical effusions designed to direct the female mind in a course of pleasing and instructive reading online

. (page 15 of 18)
Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry John) Van-LennepThe American lady's preceptor : a compilation of observations, essays and poetical effusions designed to direct the female mind in a course of pleasing and instructive reading → online text (page 15 of 18)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

ed me, and my dear nursling throve. I know
not how it was, but it seemed as if God had given
me this child in the place of that Avhich he had
called to himself. Four happy years passed.
M V mistress placed Sally at Mrs. Cravan's, and
ordered that no pains should be spared in her
learning ; and she often said, she was providing
herself with another comfort. She was Indeed a


benefactress to me and mine ! I now dreaded the
event of her approaching confinement, I saw all
the hazard of it. She lived, however, some days
after the birth of the child, who died almost in-
stantly after it was born. I never quitted my
dear lady's bedside ; and I saw with an aching
heart her trouble respecting her children, particu-
larly for Miss Harriet. Some hours before she
breathed her last, she requested of my master that I
should never be removed from my attendance on
her daughter. Ah ! madam, had she requested
harder conditions, they would have been complied
with ; for never did I see such grief as my poor

" My lady provided for Sally's continuance at
school, and left me a hundred pounds. I shall
never forget her last look, nor her last words !
They were—-' my Harriet !— do not forsake my
child !' That I should remember these words does
not surprise you, madam : but I doat upon this
child, and I have always dreaded my master's
marrying again, as the greatest misfortune I could
meet with. My own early afflictions were con-
stantly coming into my mind ; for although my
dear child had nothing to fear from poverty, I
well knew she might be miserable in abundance.
I will now, madam, tell you all : I verily believe
I could have heard of the death of my honoured
master with less grief than I did of his second
marriage. Blessed be God ! I see I have been
wrong. My child, yes madam, my child will be
happy, and I shall die in peace.' I was, mv good
friend, much affected ; and with sincerity and
warmth assured the good creature that I honoured
h'"r principles : and from that hour Mrs. Madder,
I believe, forgot I was ?l step-mother. Her daugh-
ter fully answered Harriet's eulogium,-and I soon


saw that Mrs. Davenport'-s plans would not be

" After the holidays we went to town, Mr.
Davenport having secured a good house in Ber-
ners-street for our reception. In April he set out
for Scotland, in order to settle the litigious claims
of my son's unworthy uncle. You already know
that he neither liked the spirit nor the activity of
the agent we had chosen, and that he was glad to
compromise an affair in which he knew there was
not a shadow of justice, and in which had been
involved the happiness of his brother's wido\v,
and the provision for his child. Mr. Davenport
had scarcely reached the end of his journey, be-
fore poor Harriet sickened, and a violent fever
succeeded. It was pronounced contagious ; for
Nurse, on the ninth day, was forced from her
charge by the same alarming symptoms, and ob-
liged to retire to that bed from which she never
rose more.

'^ This circumstance influenced my conduct, and
Mr. Davenport was not informed of Harriet's
danger until it had happily passed. I believe,
however;, that the fear of infection was ill-ground-
ed ; for I escaped, although I never quitted the
sick room for nearly three weeks, and no other of
the family suifered except Nurse. I have always
attributed the fatal consequences of her illness to
her ungoverned alarm, her excessive fatigue, and
a habit of body ill suited to struggle with such a

" My cares were happily compensated, and my
patient in a condition to be removed. I lost not
an hour in London, and had the comfort of find-
ing the journey to the Hail less an evil than I hcid
expected. The extreme debdity of her mind and
body appeared to have rendered her insensible to


the loss she had sustahied : she was as passive and
as helpless as an infant. In proportion as she
gained strength, I was not deceived in my expec-
tations of seeing her concern manifested, and I
was prepared to meet it. We were never sepa- '
rate, and my attentions supplied those of her
faithful lost attendant. When able to move about
the house, I observed that she carefully avoided-
her former apartment and sleeping-room ; and I
avuiled myself of this circumstance to new-model
them agreeably to the designs I had before me.

'''' One morning I found her very languid and
dejected. I talked to her of her father's return,
which we daily expected, of her rides with him,
&c. Sec. in order to divert her. She wept in si-
Itrxe. I again exerted my powers. ' You will
think me an ungrateful creature (said she) but in-
deed I am only a weak child. If I could but for-
get poor Mrs. Madder, all would be well. But
my dear mamma, I have been very foolish. I
thought I should like to see the nursery. I ap-
proached the door, but I could not open it to enter.
My heart died Vt- ithin me ; all my nurse's kindness
came into my mind, and I almost thought I heard
her voice, and her tender caution-j. Poor wo-
man ! her love for me cost her her life.' I re-
pressed not this effusion of grateful remembrance ;
but with seriousness adverted to the unfavourable
state of Mrs. Madder's heaUh, and her repugnance
to air and exercise. She became more composed,
but silent. At length, faintly smiling, she said,
* I shall soon have no mamma's pillow to pl-ess.
If I am melancholy when my papa returns, you
will take care that he is not displeased. ?fXarv is
a very good-natured girl, and in time (sighed she)
I shall be accustomed to her.' * I have no mten-


tion (answered I) to make Mary, although a good
girl, your companion either by night or by day.
I have provided one whom I hope my Harriet
will like better.' She looked with anxiety and
curiosity in my face. ' 1 had purposed fetching
her hither to-morrow (pursued I) ; ' but I fear
you will not be well enough for the ride.' ' Is it
possible ? (cried she with transport.) ' Oh ! am
sure it is Sally Madder.'

" You are perfectly right (resumed I) ; she is
worthy of my confidence and your love. Under
this roof I trust she will be happy ; and that in
times he will be reconciled to the loss of her good
mother.' ' She will find another in you, (exclaimed
the grateful girl :) Oh ! you are all goodness !
But, (added she, sinking her voice and fixing her
eyes on mine) can you believe that we all hated
you when you first came here ?' ' No (answered
I) I cannot ; because I know to the contrary.
None in this house were capable of hating an un-
offending object, and a stranger. Your zealous
though humble friends taught you to believe, be-
cause they believed it themselves, that as the se-
cond choice of your father, I must of course be
the object of their and your abhorrence : it was
the mother-in-law^ not me, that you hated. JJn^
der that character you saw the invader of the
rights of another ; the interested encroacher on
your father's fortune, the artful monopolizer of
his affection, and the underminer of your interest
and the peace of the family. In a word, you hat-
ed, and justly, this common enemy, from whose
usurped authority you conceived there could be
no appeal, and from whose artful blandishments
there was every thing to fear. You saw me, and
you saw me invested with the name you so rea-
sonably dreaded. But you were all soon con-


vinced that I bore no resemblance to this hideous
picture : and you loved me in my real charac-

" You have indeed (said she) changed our
hearts. It is no wonder that you have subdued
mine ; but it is astonishing to me, that those mis-
taken people should so soon reverence you, and
bless the day you came hither.' ' The secret is a
very simple one, my dear child (answered I :)
^ the whole is comprised in a single precept of the
gospel : ' Do unto others what you would they
should do unto you ;' and to this positive injunc-
tion of our divine master was superadded at a
very early age, a conviction in my own mind, that
I was only happy in proportion as I contributed
to the happiness of those about me. ' But (conti-
nued I) let not this conversation finish here. Let
me enjoy a full and complete triumph over those
prejudices, which have been so injudiciously,
though honestly infused into my Harriet's inge-
nuous mind, and which tended seriously to pro-
duce all those evils she was taught to apprehend.
Let me not only speak for myself, but also in fa-
vour of many respectable women in the same pre-
dicament. You had in your infancy a good and
tender mollier. Her maternal cares, had it been
permitted, would have safely guided you through
life. But have you never heard of bad mothers ?
I have known some negligent of their offspring,
dissipators of their fortunes, indifferent, and even
careless of their improvement in virtue and piety
—nay, more, corrupters of that innocence it was
their duty to guard, by the examples they placed
before them. I have seen unjust, cruel and weak
mothers ; some the rivals of their blooming-
daughters ; some the selfish impediments to their,
sons' establishment in the v/orld. I have seen


Others, led by a blind and capricious partiality :,
ruin the ill-fated object of their Ibolish and crimi-
nal preference, and, by their repulsive manners,
condemn an unoffending child to dejection and
continual mortification. Yet I do not hate the
name of a mother. On the contrary, I reverence
it as the most honourable designation in human
life : and when I see this character supported by
the performance of its duties, I regard it as the
most important to the real interests of society,
and the most essential to the happiness of man.
Judge in future by this test : and wherever you
find the character of the mother sustained with
integrity, refuse not to acknowledge the right she
has to love and esteem. But my dear Harriet,
(pursued I) have you ever adverted to the diffi-
culties which meet a woman who stands in the
same relation with myself t What do you ima-
gine of the sensations which oppress the heart of
a woman of honour and delicacy on her first en-
rraiicc intu a family as a mother-in-law f eyed by
jealousy and suspicion ; her most prudent plans
undermined, and her mildest instructions brand-
ed with th» reproach of severity or hypocrisy !
What think you of my bridal visits ? For many
months after I became your father's wife, my
dress was curiously and impertinently scrutinized,
in order to detect some ornament which had been
your mother's : you were addressed in tones of
pity and tenderness by those who before this event
took no interest in your welfare : your simplicity
was abused, and inquiries made [she blushed
crimson deep] under the colour of commisera-
tion, which were much more disgraceful to those
who made them than to me. Your father was fe-
licitated with irony and rude jokes on his marri-
age, and your brother was asked with a sneer, how


he liked his new mamma ? with other impertinen-
cies, which his good sense and spirit rejected with

" I sometimes, dear girl, smiled at this poor
malignity : but I do assure you, had I been a few
years younger, or less established in the good
opinion of the virtuous and the candid, and, above
all, in the heart of my husband, its influence would
have been pernicious, and probably would have
pervaded my happiness.' This conversation had
its effect ; and Harriet felt that I was indeed her

" Before we set out for Blandford to fetch Miss
Madder, I prevailed on Harriet to visit the desert-
ed apartments. I had taken that opportunity to
add to them a dressing-closet, and to new-hang
and furnish the whole. She was pleased at the
change, and thought they looked cheerful. No
sooner was Miss Madder arrived, than she led
her up stairs, to ' show her mamma's taste.' In

a fc^T minvitcs she joined mc in the dining-parlour,
with a saddened countenance. ' I have been very
Indiscreet (said she :) I should not have con-
ducted poor Sally into those rooms ; she is
weeping bitterly, and begs to be left alone*' You
have done nothing wrong (answered I ;) she will
be more composed in a little time ; and as you
?>leep there to-night, it is better that her first emo-
tions should pass.' ' Does any one dine with us
to-day r' asked she reassured, and observing the
table laid with three covers. I answered in the
negative. ' What ! (said she, her eyes sparkling
with joy) ' will you permit Sally Madder to dine
with you V ' Most assuredly,' replied I with se-
riousness. ' Do you imagine that the person to
whom your father and myself have consigned your
future improvement can be properly placed else-


where ? As your friend and companion, she had
always a right to a place at the same table with
yourself, and with your parents ; and had not her
mother had one peculiarly apart from the family,
she would never have known any other in this

" But, my dear Harriet, you are now to regard
Miss Madder as something more than your com-
panion : your affection, I know, cannot increase ;
but she is entitled to a deference, in consequence of
that trust which her conduct and talents have pro-
cured her. Her claims on our kindness, high as
they are, and disposed as we are to admit them,
would not alone have warranted the preference we
have shown ; but she is good and virtuous, and
will never mislead you.'

" The fact was, that the lady under whose care
this amiable girl had been placed for the greater
part of her life, perfectly understood her value ;
her docility and genius produced the design of
qualifying her for a teacher in her school ; and
nothing had been omitted to" render her a proper
assistant. The death of her mother, and my pro-
posals, induced Mrs. C — — to give up her own
interest, in favour of a young person whom ^e
loved as much as if she had been her daughter^fef

" But, I have said, my dear Mr. Palmerstone,
more than is necessary on this head. You have
distinguished this girl's merit in the faithful and
judicious cares which now engage her in this fa-
mily ; my daughter and Miss Madder havn^g ne-
ver been separated since that day.

" My husband's return from Scotland, and the
birth of my little Emily, completed our domestic
felicity. The autumn closed upon us, and Mr.
D.-venport began to talk of our removal to Ber-
ners-street before the cold season should be too
T 2


far advanced fpr the infant's safety and mine : but
week succeeded week without any decided prepa-
rations, we were all happy, and reluctant to the
necessary steps towards a change of our abode.

" In this way November had nearly closed ;
when one morning that a hard frost covered the
ground, and a bright sun enlivened every object,
Harriet, with her friend, on their return from a
long walk, entered my dressing-room, where I was
seated with my child on my knee. ' Oh, (cried
she on entering) what a pity it is to give up such
delicious mornings as these to that hateful Lon-
don ! You have no idea, (addresing me) of the
beauty of this morning ; how my brothers would
enjoy such in the holidays !' Her face bore evi-
dent marks of its invigorating effects ; it was
glowing with health and animation. My husband,
who was reading m the room, forgot his book : he
gazed at her with fond delight ; when, throwing
aside her muff, she suddenly catched up the infant
in her arms, and said, ' Plead for us my cherub !
tell this father of yours (carrying it towards him)
that you will climb his knee a year the sooner for
staying here ; tell him that we have no frightful
fevers here to kill and harass our dearest friends !'
She looked at me with sensibility. ' Persuade
him, (added she, smothering the babe with her
caresses) and I promise you a bed of roses in the
summer.' ' I heartily wish (said I) that she may
succeed.' My husband, steadfastly looking at
me, said, ' Are you serious, Susan ?' ' Most as-
suredly (answered I :) what inducements can I
have to quit this scene of endeared comfort, be-
yond that of gratifying your inclinations ?' ' Well
(replied he) I am glad that we understand each
other ; for I assure you that your amusement was
the sole object with me for engaging the house in


town ; and, to be frank, I must tell you that I de-
test London.' The result of this conversation
was giving up the idle burthen of a town-house ;
and we have not seen London since, but in passing
through it.

" The time of our young men's return now ap-
proached. They had informed us of the day of
their arrival, and Harriet was busil}^ occupied in
the morning with her sister's dress. No cap couid
do but the one she had worked ; no robe but that
she had ornamented with fringe. She had scarce-
ly finished her labours, when she heard the horses
enter the court. She was in an instant at the hall
door, with the infant in her arms. I stood at the
window, apprehensive not of her care, but of the
cold. ' See (cried she, before they had well dis-
mounted) look at her ! look at little Emily !' The
brothers eagerly advanced, and a friendly contest
ensued who should have the first kiss. Ah ! my
dear Palmerstone ! at that moment I experienced
a pleasure which recompensed me for every evil
in my life ! ' There (said the lively nurse) take
her between you,' resigning her to Frank : ' only
do not devour the marmoset.' George now turned
to a fine youth, who had till this instant been the
unnoticed spectator of this scene. He introduced
Mr. Berry to Harriet, who blushingly, but not un-
gracefully, led the way to the drawing-room,
where I met them, and recovered my treasure.
The stranger enlivened our society ; our balls
were brilliant ; and Miss Barnet had many occa-
sions of seeing the motli^r-in-law the promoter
and sharer of the happiness of her family.

" Six happy years flew on dowdy wings over
our heads. Harriet became the wife of Mr.
Berry, and our hearts exulted in the prospect of
the happiness of our condition. I fear we were


too secure ; we forgot that misfortune could break
down our fences. I lost my sweet child the year
after Harriet married. My health was unequal
to the shock ; a nervous fever succeeded, which
for many months obstinately rejected every means
of relief. To you, my excellent friend, who so
nobly exhibit the goodness of that nature which
all have derived from the pure source of their ex-
istence, it will be no matter of surprise to hear
that I was indebted to the grateful cares of my old
housekeeper Dawson, for attentions which in no
small degree contributed to my recover}^. This
worthy woman left her own comfortable ease, and
the care of her own concerns, on the first intelli-
gence of my illness, to watch with unremitting
patience by my bed-side, and to console my weak-
ened mind by her soothings. Had I stood in need
of inducements for the observance of one of the
most binding of the relative duties (for such I
wdll venture to call kindness and consideration to
domestics) I must in this instance have met with
them : but to such as do forget these claims I will
say, ' Render your servants happy,- respect their
ease and their health, consult their interest and
security : if they be ungrateful, you are unfortu-
nate, and may be allowed to complain.' But I
forget myself, and my story should finish. My
sons are now in Scotland, at George's paternal
house, for which he is probably as much indebted
to Mr. Davenport as to his own father. These
young men are connected by ties which they take
not the trouble to define ; their hearts have long
since established them as common blessings to
each other. One interest unites them. Their
social pleasures are incomplete when divided.
Their charactej s are different : but this diflference
forms another bond of union ; the mild and seri-


ous disposition of George is happily blended with
the brave and careless gaiety of Frank, who, not
without reason, calls his friend the ' sage Mentor.'
You see my daughter. She is the well-earned
praise of my life. You see my grand-children
fondly soliciting my love and notice. You see
5^our worthy friend Davenport treading the down-
hill of life with honour and peace ; and you see in
me the example that the upright of heart, even in
this world, are blessed." *^


[Good Poetry is a refined, animating and musical
kind of eloquence ; to our feelings, it conveys all the
soft persuasive powers of numbers and harmony and
is a mixture of painting, music and eloquence. — As
eloquence, it speal^, proves, and relates. — As music, a
fine poem is a harmony to the soul. — As painting, it
delineates objects and lays on colours ; it expres%s
every beauty in nature, and seems to impress more
strongly on the mind than any other kind of writing.]



Jiddressed to a sister^ by a gentleman of Baltimore.

Who that has on the salt sea been
The Nautilus has never seen

In gallant sailing trim,
His filmy fore-and-aft sail spread,
And o'er the billows shoot ahead

Impell'd by winds abeam I

The little bark's air-freighted hull,
Keen prow and bends amidship, full.

Display the mermaid's pow'rs ;
For paint, the Sylphs their brushes steep
In rainbows glowing on the deep

Athwart retiring show'rs.

So pretty, and not vain, would be
More strange than strangest things we see :
Near Ceylon's spicy coast


As once the tiny wand'rer steer'd
His halcyon course, he thus was heard
To make his foolish boast.

" What tenant of the sea or air
Can with the Nautilus compare,

In colours gay attir'd ^
I've seen, nor visited in vain,
Most countries bordering on the main

And been in all admir'd.

Secure I brave the polar gale,
Beneath the line I trim my sail,

In either tropic found ;
Where'er a ship may go I go,
Nor fear like her a treachrous foe— *

The rock, the hidden ground.

The distant canvass I descry
Of commerce hanging in the sky

That bounds th' Atlantic ware.
I share, with hostile fleets who ride
Victorious on the subject tide,

The empire ocean gave.

Alas ! how different is the lot
Oi that poor Oyster thus forgot ;

Unpitied and unknown : .
Is it by chance or adverse fate.
Or cruel Nature's stepdame Hate

He's here condemn'd to groan ?

The splendors of the orb of day
Scarce visit with a twilight ray
The bed where low he lies,
And whence he never can remove :


To gayer scenes forbid to rove.
E'en here he lives and dies !

My claims, may well his envy raise,
Establish'd on the gen'ral praise

Bestow'd where e'er I go."
He ceas'd — when, lo ! amaz'd to hear,
This gentle-answer to his ear

Came bubbling from below !

" Your pity spare, my gaudy friend,
Your eloquence 1 might commend

Had truth conviction lent ;
I neither fate nor nature blame.
An Oyster's looks produce no shame.

He lives upon content.

The pow'r to go where one may choose,
So much esteem'd, I would refuse :

No wish have I to rove.
And brilliant hues and glossy side
Serve but to nourish silly pride ;

Yourself this truth will prove.

How falsely do they judge, who take
A fair exterior when they make

Their estimate of good.
Know, friend, I willingly conceal
A pearl v/ithin this russet shell

Whose form you think so rude.

The gem by monarchs may be worn,
'Twill Beauty's polish'd brow adorn ;

Nor shall its lustre fade :
When Death has sunk, with cruel blow.
Thy evanescent brightness low

'Twill glitter undecay'd.''

mT mother. 229

My tale, clear Stella, felgn'd may be ,•
Yet may the Moral found in thee

Convey instruction sweet ;
Far from unmeaning Fashion's throng,
Through life's calm by-paths steal along

Thy cautious, steady feet.

No wish to change, contented thou
See'st others change. Thou see'st how ^

The gay their rattles prize —
Their show and their fatiguing rules,
(Alike the idle toil of fools

And folly of the wise.)

Thy strong and contemplative mind
Had felt its early pow'rs refin'd

By all the lore of Truth :
Severely pois'd her equal scale,
Thou saw'st how little did avail

The fleeting charms of youth |

And giving to thy God thy heart
Has chosen Marifs better part.

In this shalt thou rejoice :
Long shall thy secret soul possess
That treasure which alone can bless—

The pearl of countless price.


WHO fed me from her gentle breast,
Andhush'd me in her arms to rest.
And on my cheek sweet kisses prest ?

My Mother


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 15 17 18

Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry John) Van-LennepThe American lady's preceptor : a compilation of observations, essays and poetical effusions designed to direct the female mind in a course of pleasing and instructive reading → online text (page 15 of 18)