L O I T E R E R.
"Speak of us as we are."
PRINTED FOR THE AUTHOR,
And sold by Messrs. PRINCE and COOKE, OXFORD.
Mess. EGERTONS, Whitehall, LONDON; Mess. PEARSON
And ROLLASON, BIRMINGHAM; Mr. W. MEYLER, Grove,
BATH; AND Mess. COWSLADE and SMART, READING.
L O I T E R E R.
SATURDAY, January 23, 1790.
Yet may you rather feel that virtuous pain,
Than sell your violated charms for gain;
Than wed the Wretch, whom you despise, or hate;
For the vain Glare of useless wealth, or state;
The most abandoned Prostitutes are they
Who not to Love, but Avarice, fall a prey;
Nor aught avails the specious name of Wife,
A maid, so wedded, is a Whore for Life.
To the AUTHOR of the LOITERER.
SIR,WHILE you have been exerting the united powers of reason and ridicule, to correct the foibles of the Young, I cannot but think it extraordinary that you have never attempted to expose the prejudices of the Old; since they are not perhaps less numerous or less extensive than the former, and are certainly more prejudicial to society; for the giddy or the foolish actions of Youth can seldom affect any but themselves, whereas the obstinate opinions of Age, when Confirmed by power, and exerted with Authority, will naturally extend their influence to all their immediate connections. — Of the prejudices which are the subject of my present complaint, the most striking and mischievous is the eagerness with which, in the most important actions of their lives, they endeavour to promote the Interest of their Children at the expense of their Sensibility, and the pains which they consequently take to extinguish or suppress, what they are pleased to call Romantic Ideas.
That they, whom an ardent affection induces to form indissoluble engagements with too little regard to prudence, may often experience Some anxious, uneasy, or even unhappy moments, is not improbable, since it had been suspected that no state or condition of life is quite free from the above inconveniences; yet let it be remembered, that both from Principle and Pride We always exert ourselves best against those evils which we bring on ourselves. And, for most human misfortunes, Exertion itself is a remedy. Of this, at least, I am certain, that by pursuing an opposite system of conduct I have missed many enjoyments, and incurred many evils; and have passed a life of restless anxiety or insipid languor, without even the poor consolation of having obtained the object of my pursuit. — I am the eldest Daughter of a Clergyman in the West of England, who contrived to support a wife and six children on the income of two small Livings, and who, though not quite so rich as a Dean or Prebendary, was as happy as a Bishop himself. His income was not indeed large, but his wants were few, and his enjoyments within his reach. — He had a wife who sincerely loved him, and who expressed that love by making his home comfortable. His children were affectionate, and his acquaintance hospitable and neighbourly: not to mention a very considerable share of comfort which he enjoyed from possessing one of the best editions of the Classics, the best breed of Pointers, and the best receipt for brewing Old Beer in the kingdom. He was in short one of those men, who thought that “sufficient to the day are the evils thereof,” and provided he was sure of a good fire, a comfortable dinner, and a bottle of the aforesaid liquor one day, never gave himself much concern for what was to happen the next. In this respect my Mother would sometimes differ from him, and could not help occasionally expressing her fears for the future welfare of their Children, for whom they could not expect to make much provision. But this my Father as constantly answered by an axiom, which he had somewhere picked up, that the same Providence which brought them into the world, would as certainly assist them in going through it. — Under this roof, and in the innocent and pleasing occupations of assisting my Mother in nursing my younger Sisters, and managing the little concerns of our Family, I passed the first and happiest years of my life: but before the expiration of the fifteenth, an unexpected incident drew me from a peaceful Asylum which I have never since thought of without a tender regret. — A distant Cousin of my Mother’s, of much superior rank and fortune, was at this time advised by her Physicians to repair the devastations of a London Winter, by spending the Summer in some healthy and quiet part of the Country. — As she was very distantly related to my Mother, and had not for some years taken the least notice of our Family, we were rather surprised than pleased at the receipt of a letter, in which (with that happy ease peculiar to high life) she declared her intention of passing some part of the summer at —— Parsonage. — Though none of us felt ourselves much flattered by this mark of attention, yet all agreed that a civil answer should be sent, and all hands were at once set to work to new fringe the old damask curtains, and get the best bed-chamber in order for the reception of our Visitor. — For my own part, though far from being void of curiosity, yet conscious of the disadvantages of my country education, I could not look forward without fear and trembling to the arrival of my Great Cousin; whom, with the levity of youth, I declared I was sure I should never like. In this, however, I had the misfortune to be mistaken. For the elegance of her address, the complacency of her smile, and the easy politeness of her manners (so different from the great people I had hitherto seen) with the assistance of a clear muslin gown, and a set of feathers, which she presented me with, operated so effectually in her favour, that before she had been in the house three days, I gave it as my opinion, that she was the sweetest woman in the world.
As the superintendence of the family left not my Mother much time to herself and it was not consonant with our notions of Politeness, to let our Visitor ever remain alone, it became my province to divert her during those hours, when the family circle was not assembled. This naturally produced a kind of intimacy. I was her constant attendant in the morning walks she was advised to take for her health; assisted her in her needlework, and occasionally retailed to her the little Anecdotes of rural Tittle Tattle Scandal, which were discovered or invented by the Gossips of the neighbourhood. She appeared at least diverted by endeavours to amuse her, and treated me in return with a long account of the Public Places, the Fashions and the Manners of the Metropolis; and generally concluded her detail with an observation (in which I perfectly agreed with her) “that it was a pity so Fine a Girl as myself should be buried in the Country.” — At first I little imagined that she had any particular meaning in making the last- mentioned remark, and was agreeably surprised when at the expiration of the Summer, she offered to take me with her to Town; hinting at the same time, that my Friends need give themselves no concern about the expenses of my education or my future establishment in life.
Had my father and mother consulted only their own private feelings, they would have negatived this motion without a division; but the scheme proposed by my Cousin opened prospects much too flattering to be overlooked by people in their situation. For however philosophically many may despise wealth and distinction, where themselve are concerned, there are few who are not desirous of obtaining them for their children. — They gave therefore a reluctant though a grateful consent; and a day not far distant was fixed for our departure. — During this short interval, my good Mother took every opportunity of admonishing me in what manner to conduct myself in various emergencies, of which many were very unlikely ever to happen, and some utterly impossible. To these lectures I gave as much attention as they usually receive from those to whom they are addressed; and whenever the idea of parting from my Friends for a long time came across me, I drove it away by recollecting that I should see a variety of new places, and new people, and that I should have much finer clothes than my Sisters. — At length the morning of our departure came; and I found the abovementioned rational plan of happiness insufficient to support me in the conflict of parting (for the first time) from all those who were dear to me. — I could answer the tender farewell of my Father and Mother with nothing but tears, which continued to flow, without ceasing, throughout the first stage of our Journey. Though my Cousin possessed not so much sensibility, she perfectly understood what the French call L’usage du monde, and therefore forbore to interrupt the first effusions of my grief; but as soon as its violence was a little abated, endeavoured to engage my attention by various remarks on the Places i1rough which we passed. Her endeavours were successful, for the passions of youth are seldom lasting. I gradually recovered my usual cheerfulness, and by the time we reached Grosvenor’s Square, was in almost as good spirits as herself. I know not, Mr. Loiterer, whether I ought not to have given you the following sketch of my Cousin’s life and character earlier in my narrative; it is, however, at least necessary I should do so now.
The Lady in question possessed one of those common minds that are originally marked by no one predominate feature, and must therefore take their leading and most distinguished Characteristic from the precepts of Education, and the Example of Society. Hers had not been such as were like to inculcate or encourage very liberal or very refined ideas. The earlier part of her life was passed in a Convent, at St. Omer’s, which she never quitted ‘till the age of eighteen, when she was sent for home, in order to be married to a man of large fortune, to whom, by a family arrangement, her hand had been long destined. — As the relations had taken care to settle every previous particular to their satisfaction, the match was concluded immediately after her arrival in England. After having lived together in a happy state of mutual indifference, and reciprocal neglect, during the space of three or four years (for she never could recollect in exactly what year her husband died) she had the misfortune to be left a disconsolate widow, encumbered with a jointure of 1500 a year, which she contrived to spend in various elegant and rational pleasures, which abound in our enlightened metropolis. — And as she always kept the most fashionable Company, it may seem almost needless to observe, that she imbibed the most fashionable notions with regard to the establishment, as she called it, of young Women in marriage. — She was perfectly convinced that matrimony was the grand point, to which every young woman should look forward; and that a regard to interest was the only rule by which an offer should either be accepted or refused. In this opinion, indeed, she had the happiness of being kept in countenance by many of her acquaintance; but it was her peculiar forte to have reduced the matter to a perfect system. For all the artifices and stratagems, which are used to attract notice, or excite desire, she was a complete mistress; and always declared, that a Girl who was tolerably handsome might marry any Girl she pleased, provided she was properly brought up, and not suffered to fill her head with nonsensical notions of love. Such was the person by whose examples and lessons my mind was to be formed, and the education she gave me was exactly suited to the opinions she professed. — From the moment I entered her house, every precaution which anxiety could suggest, every artifice which ingenuity could invent, were constantly put in practice, in order to render my complexion clear, my shape elegant, and my manners graceful. And while thus solicitous to improve the charms of my person, (to do her justice) she was by no means inattentive to the cultivation of my mind, well knowing that in this all accomplished age, something more than beauty was necessary. — A long list of French, Music, Singing, Drawing, and Dancing Masters (besides a French Governess) were in consequence retained. The whole morning passed away in their agreeable company, and much of the evening was employed in practicing the lessons of the next day. — In this manner, and with no other amusement, than an airing once a week with my Governess, in a carriage with all the windows up, I passed three years, not very much to my mind; but to complain was useless, and I comforted myself with the distant prospect of one day enjoying a little more liberty — for it was one of my Cousin’s maxims, that a young woman seldom did well who was brought out before she was eighteen.
As I have, I fear, already exceeded the limits of your paper, I must give you the conclusion of my narrative at some other opportunity.
In the mean time, I remain,
N.B. This work will in future be sold by Messrs. Prince and Cooke; to whom our Correspondents are requested to direct their communications.
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