Jane Taylor Mrs. Taylor (Ann Martin).

Correspondence between a mother and her daughter at school online

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under its influence. Even the Apostle Paul
was anxious " lest while preaching to others^
he himself should become a cast-away.** In
estimating our religion by the number of
Bibles we distribtite, we should be little wiser
than those who reckon their devotions by their
beads. It would be very inconsistent if^ while
we are exerting ourselves with so much energy^
to render the sacred volume intelligible to fo-
reign nations^ we should suffer it to remain

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" a sealed book" to durselves^—its ditine
truths unstudied, and never fiiade the sulijeel
of prayer. There is, however, reason to fear,
that it may have found access to distant climes
by means of some, whose minds it has never
ehlightened 5 whose lives have not been regu-
lated by its precepts. While we are " break-
ing up the fallow ground^' of heathen lands,
sowing the good seed, planting the lily and
the rose in some wilderness, it behoves us to
be earnestly solicitous that otr own soil doed
not lie uncultivated, overgrown with briars,
thorns, and notions weeds. It will eventual^
avail us but little indeed, to have sent civiliza*
tion among savage tribes, ourselves remaitiiiig
uncivilized, — if rugged tempers, and tmperioat
spirits are unsubdued^ and if we appear desti*
tute of that genuine refinement which adorns
the christiati character. Let not those who
are affording others ^' a light to their feel> and
a lamp to their paths," be content themsdires
to grope in darkness 5 or to famish, while they
&t€ distributing so plentiful a feast. Hete,
^oainently, is an instance in Which ** charity
should begin at home^'* though, when onde
begun, it will, assuredly, not end thefe.

We liope to gratify you occ98iotiaUy« by

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taking yon^ by and by^ to witness some of the
public transactions in this great cause 5 as they
are animating and improving occasions. And
yet^ perhaps^ our own domestic circle is better
calculated to cherish those virtues which should
adorn your sphere^ than the attendance oh pub-
lic assemblies^ whatever be their object, A
lecture from your father's arm-chair may^
piobaUy^ prove more beneficial to you, than
tiw most eloquent harangue from any other
dudr, however illustrioualy filled.

The opening of the spring flowers has not
fioikd to remind me of Midsummer^ as well
yOB^ my dear girl ! But it is still distant 5 and
at present, let us be chiefly intent upon im-
proving the precious intervaL

Your Mother.

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If you could see how evenly our days
pass^ and with what order and regularity we
live^ notwithstanding our number and the
many things to be attended to> — ^you would
not be surprised that I should sometimes feel
at a loss how to fill a letter. Do not suppose,
however^ that I feel this wearisome; not at all>
I assure you. The less interruption there is
in our employments^ the more pleasant and in-
teresting they become. Indolence^ I think>
brings its own punishment^ sooner than al-
most any other fault. If I am careless and
inattentive even for an hour or two, every oc-
cupation appears irksome; but all goes on
pleasantly while I am taking pains and exert-
ing myself.

Those who regard all their employments as
tasks to be got over as easily as possible, with
as much assbtance as they can get, and who

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do no more than they are absolutely compelled
to> find the days and weeks pass heavily enough.
They are always complaining of school^ some-
times even of Mrs.W — counting the days to
the vacation^ and longing for the time when
they shall have done with school altogether :
though I question if they will be much hap-
pier even then.

We have one tall girl here^ who seems to
view her pursuits in this way. Of course she
has made no great proficiency in any of them.
Of this she is aware^ and I think it mortifies
her -J and in order both to amuse herself^ and
to avoid sinking into contempt amongst us,
she sets up for a wit^ and makes it her business
to laugh at every body^ indiscriminately 3 not
only at her companions^ but the masters^ the
teachers^ Mrs.W. herself, and even, some-
times, at our good minister. It evidently
gives her particular pleasure to be called sati"
rical; although, as I have heard Grace observe,
there is no real keenness in her ridicule — no
true wit or humour. There is little Phillis
Parker, who has certainly a great deal of wit,
and can see what is really ludicrous as soon as
any body, is very sparing of her remarks 5 and
you never hear her laugh at any one merely for

p 5

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coRitfistdNDiEtice htrt^tEH

thfe 8ak6 of it. Our poor mUsic-master in a con-
stant butt for this lady's jokes, which^ indeed^
is very unfeeling, as he is in ill health, and
looks unhappy. He has a large fomily to
provide for, and very little employment; as
there is another master in the neighbourhood,
who is said to teach in a more fashionable
style : though Mrs.W. much prefers his, and
toys he has more scientific knowledge, and
much more true taste. He comes from sevei^l
miles distance, twice a week ; and by the time
he has been with us an hour or two, he looks
so fatigued and ill! and has, besides, stich
sad fits of coughing ! Those who are fond of
music, and take pains with their lessons, have
no time, as you may suppose, even if they had
inclination, to amuse themselves so : but tho8«
who have no interest in it, and dislike the
trouble, are glad of the diversion of laughing
at their master. I never saw Grace very angry
but once, when some of them were giggling
behind his chair, so that he must have heard
it. She turned, and gave them such a look,
that for once, I believe, they did ftel ashamed.
Grace, who is his l>est scholar, Uniformly treats
him with attention and respect, of which I lato
sure he is sensible.

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When first I came to school^ I was in
great danger of acquiring that silly habit: of
laughing at every things and every body# which>
I believe, is almost universal among the com-
moner sort of school girls : but I see now, as
you, I remember, told me in one of your letters,
that instead of its being, as they imagine, a
sign of cleverness, it proceeds from vacancy
and idleness more than, any thing elsej and
sometimes from envy and ill-nature. Mrs.W.
too, has represented this fault as so contemp-
tible, that 1 am now ashamed of it.

I received your last letter very opportunely,
on a Sunday morning $ and I hope it produced
some good effect, at least for that day. Yes,
my dear mother, there are, indeed, temptations
here to levity and carelessness: and I feel
them as much as any one can. It seems as
though such crowds of vain thoughts never
occurred to me, as when I am in a place of
worship, when it appears easier to fix my mind
^on any trifle, than on what ought to engage it.
I am sure the minister takes great pains to
gain our attention, and impress our minds.
His eye is frequently directed towards us ) and
often, 1 am afraid, he must be grieved by our
inattentive appearance.

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108 cohabspomdbiicb bbtwuii

I hope I am in some d^;ree aware^ how
important it is to acquire habits of attention
and command of the thoughts^ now^ while
habits either good or bad are so easily formed.
1 remember hearing Mrs. W. say^ that she
knew no symptom more hopeful in a young
person's mind^ than the habit of resolutely re-
sisting vain and improper thoughts the mo-
ment, they were presented. There was nothing
good she should not expect from such a charac-
ter 5 nor «ny thing bad that might not be
feared^ for one who was in the habit of in-
dulging them. I was struck^ at the time^
with. the remark) and it has often since oc-
curred to me^ just in time to save me from the
danger. There is a great difference between
the moment in which a foolish thought first
presents itself, and the next^ in which it most
be either dismissed or admitted. This, Mrs.W.
says, is the turning point of temptation;—
the moment when strength of mind is every
thing. It is quite a deception, as I have my-
self found, to think of indulging an idle
thought only for a short time 5 if the effort is
not made at first, all is over ; one vain idea
leads to another, and another 5 and so time is
wasted, and the mind ii^ured.

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We are expecting^ every day^ the arrival of
a niece of Mrs. W. a young lady whom she
educated 3 and who lived here till within the
last two years. I believe she is now coming
to assist in the school. She is about a year
older than Grace, who was here some time
before she left ; and they were then very in-
timate. Indeed, I believe, till I came, she was
Grace's most intimate friend. I am very im-
patient to see her.

Farewel, dear mamma. Your affectionate




As you have found it necessary to set
a guard upon your thoughts, I hope you are also
aware of the importance of bridling *' that un-
ruly member," which '' as no man can tame,"
so, surely, no woman can be too careful to re-

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Strain. At a female seminary, where «o many
triflers^ at a trifling age^ are assembled^ great
watchfulness^ in this respect, must be needfol.
I was once present in a young party (when I
myself was young) where uni^estrained licen&e
had been given to our loquacity. After a while,
one of the company, more silent than the rest,
drew out her pencil, and wrote down, unob-
served, the heterogeneous conversation. This
paper she afterwards read to us, and, certainly^
each appeared ashamed of her own part. This,
though only done in playfulness, might afford
a useful hint to every one present ; the young
lady herself, and other young ladies not ex-

Those who accustom themselves to contem-
plate the human character, especially with a
view to tlveir own, will observe and lament the
frivolity of mind which characterises a large
proportion of society. The levities of youth
are, indeed, sometimes cured by age and expe-
rience. Yet they too frequently prove ineffec-
tual 3 and the frivolous character, as she ad-
vances in life, after affording a theme for
ridicule, becomes, at length, an object only of

Should an intelligent creature be a trifler ?

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It l¥ad for no trifling purpose that we were
ciilled into existence, and placed in a dcene of
action and accountability 3 — a state on which
the most momentous consequences depend.

Whether or not we contribute to the wel- '
fyft and happiness of our immediate eon-
neiious, who depend upon us fbr both, in a
thousand ways, is no trifle. To encounter the
Ticissitudes of life,4o deal with the variety of
characters we meet with, to engage in the im-
portant service demanded of us, to be prepared
fbr the unexpected calamities to which human
fiature is subject, are no trifits. Above all, to
ht ready against that unknown hour, when
Death shall demand us, is no trifle. Thos6>
^en, who indulge a firivolous temper, are ill
prepared fbr their journey ^ and still less for
their journey's end.

Know, therefore, my Laura, that your ap-
proaching entrance into life, for which we are
so solicitous to prepare you, is no frivolous
<x)ncem, but serious and important in every
point of view. We are training you to live.
Hot only in this world, but in another : and as
the same duties as ours may one day devolve
on you, we are endeavouring to prepare you
for so arduous a work.

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Yet> do not mistake me: I would not
spread a gloom over the spring of life, or wish
you to assume a gravity unsuitable to your
age. The playful vivacity of youth is ever
pleasing^ because it is natural 5 and may be in-
dulged without incurring the censure of fri-
volity. I say this^ to caution you against
extremes $ as it sometimes happens^ that those
who are disgusted with the levity of their com-
panions^ assume an air and demeanour incon-
sistent with their years, and which is more
calculated to excite dislike than respect. So
difficult is it to observe a wise medium : so apt
are the young> especially, whatever habits, or
notions, or manners they adopt, to carry them
to excess ; and to suffer those views to be in-
jurious, which are calculated to be beneficial to
the character.

I would hope, however, that under the
mistaken idea of its being only innocent vi-
vacity, you will never allow yourself to join in
any conversation which reason and conscience
would tell you is improper, or tending to im-
propriety : but either endeavour to give it a
better turn, or else withdraw from the conta-
gion. It would have a very salutary effect
upon conversation, could these two opposite.

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but connected texts, be continually kept in
view:—'' Every idle word that men speaks
they shall give an account thereof in the day
of judgment** — "To those who speak often
one to another (on divine subjects) the Lord
hearkens and hears, and a book of remem-
brance is written."

We hope shortly, my dear child, by taking
such sweet counsel together with you, to add
to the records of that book, to our own ever-
lasting advantage and yours.

I lately observed a servant cleaning some
plate with a red powder; and on inquiring
what it was, was answered, " It is a coarse
rouge, ma*am, something like that the ladies
paint their faees with.'* I felt mortified at
receiving this reply from such a quarter, ob-
tained doubtless from some lady*s maid. I
would hope that among respectable society,
there are, comparatively, few who indulge
in such a contemptible practice ) yet, are
there not many in all classes of society, who,
by substituting external appearances for m«
iemal worth, act as disingenuous a part, as
the vain woman who attempts to conceal a
faded face, or a bad complexion, under the
borrowed tints of the lily and the rose ? A hag-

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114 eoimesFOKinsitcB utrvmtii

gaxd ^gate appearing in ber native defoitnitf,
wlo had before been admired for the symmetry
of her form^ and the delicacy of her ccMn«>
plezion^ would exdte disgust in proportion to
the degree of deceit she had practised. The
most effectual way of obtaining the 8p|m>ba*
tion of our fellow-creatures^ and the only way
to injure that of our own conscience and of
God> is to fte what we wish others to think us:
and the reality is generally as attainable as hi
counterfeit. There is this essential difference
between the body and the mind^ — that, little
can be effected by all the labours of art be*
stowed on the former } indeed, inordinate pains
often defeat their own end, nor can the most
effective efforts be crowned with permanent
success ; the labours of to-day will be imper'*
eeptibly undermined by the operations of time
to*morrow : but our intellectual nature is so
constituted, that they who labour on that soil
shall certainly reap, some thirty, some sixty,
some a hundred-fold, according to their ca«
pacities and opportunities for improvement.
Time, who is hostile to all material ^ings, and
equally friendly to mental progress, accelerates
and carries on his operations, in both cases, to
the borders of another world.

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A AMPtttn Aft» OAwnma. 115

Nofiiritlifitaftd]iig> however^ all that can be
mgtttd on the subject, there wiU ever remain
mittiberless rotaries of the present moment :
And to dttch> surely^ that advice shonld be ac-
ceptable which promises to aid their wishes.
Let them know> then^ that the best method to
preserve a good complexion, is to be careM of
health. This care might be promoted, by such
a general knowledge of the structure of the
human frame, as every one should possess;
and with which, by judicious reading, they
ought to be furnished. They would thus be
taught, that a life of indolence is totally in-
compatible vdth their object. That daily exer-
cise is as essentially necessary, as daily food or
nightly repose 5 and that habitual placidity of
tamper will produce the happiest effects on the
cOQtitenance. These means will prolong beauty
whtffe it exists 5 and where it does not> they
Will alford a pleasing substitute. Nothing can
be more destructive of personal graces than a
ttfe of dissipation : they are injured by it be*
yood all the power of rouge, all the inventions
of vanity to repair. If, in the ball-room, per-
sonal charms appear in idl their brilliancy, it
ii there also that they are undermined. Nature
languishes and suffers premature decay, under

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the wear and tear of a life of pleasure^ and
Time is accelerated in his speed. The bodily
powers and mental facqlties trip it down, hand
in hand, till they arrive at the bottom of the
dance 5 the music ceases -, they quit the glit-
tering scene 5 and sally forth into the gloom of

Your affectionate Mother.


Do you know, my dear mother, since
I last wrote to you I have been very unhappy,
and, I am afraid, very unreasonable; .and so,
as usual, it was my own fault. I think I men-
tioned to you, that we were expecting Mrs. W.'s
niece; and she came soon after I sent my
letter. Grace and I were sitting together,
when we heard the chaise stop at the door.
She started up, and was hastening out to re-
ceive her; but recollecting that Mrs. W. might
prefer meeting her niece alone, she returned.

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looking agitated^ which> for her, is very un-
usual. In a few moments I heard a sweet
▼oice, saying '^ Where is Grace !" Immediately
the door opened, and the most lovely, interest-
ing-looking girl I ever beheld, flew into Grace's
arms. I saw, in an instant, how dearly they
loved each other 5 and how much more deserv-
ing she was of Grace's friendship than I could
be. And, instead of sympathising in her plea-
sure (as I certainly should have done, if my
friendship had been as disinterested as I ima-
gined) I felt jealous and miserable. They ex-
changed but few words then, as she was soon
called away by Mrs. W. but they were words
of which I well understood the meaning^ I
left the room at the same instant ; for I could
not venture to stay and speak to Grace, as the
tears were in my eyes : and I should have been
ashamed for her to see it. I therefore ran up
stairs to my own room, to recover myself 3 but
had not been there long, before I saw them go,
arm in arm, into the garden 3 where they walk-
ed up and down a long time, in earnest conver-
sation : while I stood alone, watching them, and
feeling so forlorn ! I was mortified, too, that
the other girl^s should see (as I was sure they
soon would) Grace's preference for anoth^


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friend : i>7 wbich I was justly puQished^ for the
^y pride I h&d t^km in their witnessing piir

The next time Grace and I met^ instead ol
any distance or indifference in her manner,
mch as I had anticipated^ she appeared exactly
the same as «ver ; but she began at ono0 tp
speak of her friend 3 and said, she wished I
was going to stay another half year, that I
mig^t know and love her as well as she did.
To that I was silly enough to reply, '' N0,
Gfaee, it is mueh better that I am goingr^
should only be an imtruder/* At ikiB, she
looked at me> for a moment, with sxirpripe;
and Uien said, with a smile, " Is this liaura,
or Jessy f^* I fek that I deserved thid$ teit
still, to justtfy myself, 1 said, '' Don't suppose,
Grace, that I am «o unreasonable as to comr
pkain of your loving another friend so much
better than me : I only thought it would have
been more candid ^ you had told me so before,:
I thou^t I might have deserved that confir
dence/* "What confidence, Laura?" said she;
" I have told you, many times, that Miss W.
was my friend, and that I loved her sincerely :
this is all I had to say about it : who told you
that I loved her ' so much better* than you ?*'

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'* N(^/* I 8aid> '' I needed not for any oat to
Idl sie that; far HSud I ivas stwe it muit be 8o^
M «be was so much mj saperior." '' Really^
l4a»n^" said Graee^ '' you must have made
good use of your opportunity of judging of
Miss W.*8 character^ to kaow so much abcMit
her ali«ady ! Howeyer> I confess there is one
respect ia which I think she is your superior t
vAea we were waUdng la the garden just now;
we were talking about you the greatest part of
thetiflse; audi was telling her how anieh I had
eiQoyed yonr fdeadship : at which, instead of
ap pear ing at all dis[rfeMed« she seeaaed truly
rqoiced; and said, how glad she was that I
kad lauad such a fiiend." 1 searoely kaow
whether this reproof was most kind or seyere ;
I OQuld only answer it by my tears ) and at last,
bf intreating Grace to forgive my unreason-
ableness. Since thea, she has taken care, by
her unaltered manner^ and constant affisction,
to convince me that my fears were groundless^
and when she and Miss W. are together, they
generally invite me to join them, which is
very kind : and as for Miss W. the more I see
of her, the more I must admire her. But still,
I sometimes distress myself with thinkii^
that Grace does this more £rom her kind con-

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sideimtion of my fedings^ than from inclina*
tion : and there again I am punished for my
jealousy 3 for if I had not betrayed it^ there
could have been no room for such a suspicion.
Birs. W. knew nothing about it till the other
day> when, happening to meet her alone,
she looked at me and said, *^ What are you
thinking about, Laura ? You look uncomfort-
able.** The thing was, that I had just hap-
pened to find Grace and MissW. in private
conversation J and observed that they changed
the subject as soon as I appeared, so that I
knew I had interrupted them, and therefore
withdrew immediately : this was all ; but I
suppose I looked a little disconcerted, though
I was not conscious of it. Instead of answerw
ing Mrs. W.'s question, however, I burst into
tears. She inquired the cause, very kindly i
and as soon as I could, I told her all — all that
I had felt about Grace and Miss W. She
thanked me for speaking so unreservedly to
her 5 and said she was glad I had done so, 91
it afforded her an opportunity of giving me
advice, which might save me a great deal of
pain in future, if I attended to it. " My dear,"
said she, '^ I would fain convince you, that
these little jealousies, very common in youth-

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fal friendships^ defeat their own puirpose so
entirelyythat it is much wiser never to indulge
them. Suppose now^ that when my niece
eame^ you had not admitted a thought of this
kind 5 but knowing Grace's attachment to her,
had cordially rejoiced in it, as you would have
done if any thing eke had occurred to give
her equal pleasure. Suppose, that when they
were inclined to converse' together, you had left
them to do so, with open good-nature and
cheerfulnesii 5 confiding, as you have reason to
do^ in her friendship: would not the conse-
quence have been, that, itistead of fearing to
give you uneasiness by every attention she pays
to her friend, she would have admired your
disinterestedness and good-nature, and have
loved you just so much the more? Laura,"
she added, '' there is no way of being loved,
but by being amiable ^ but when we begin to
comjdain and fret, because we are not loved
well enough, we cease to appear amiable, and
become troublesome. Besides, of this we may
assure ourselves, that, although there may be
particular cases in which our conduct is mis-
taken, or our characters not understood, yet,
upon the whole, our friends (those I mean
who really know us) love us as well as we de*


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Hrve. Chantcter will, in time^ find its proper
Ulwel in the estimation of others ^ and with
this just meastire of esteem, (though it may
lUl below what our affection or our vanity
would demand) it is eminentfy the part of hu-
mility and of good sense to be contented/'

As Mrs.W. said this, I resolved to endea*
vour to subdue my jealousy j and I have in
a great degree succeeded. Dear Grace, cer-
tainly, has done every thing on her part to
remove it. She is to remain with Mrs. W. one

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Online LibraryJane Taylor Mrs. Taylor (Ann Martin)Correspondence between a mother and her daughter at school → online text (page 6 of 8)