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wardly attempting, without a sincere desire, to learn, that their mamma's conclusion generally was, “ There ! leave it alone : it is far more trouble to teach
you than to do it myself.” When thus dismissed, they were for a moment really sorry that they had displeased their mother; and resolved, when next she summoned them, to be more willing and attentive. But half an hour's chat with a giddy young friend, or, what was still worse, with a vulgar and unprincipled servant, put to flight all proper feelings of regret for the past, and good intention for the future ; and re-established the conviction, that they were genteel and accomplished young ladies, and that dress, pleasure, and admiration, were their proper employments and objects.
In course of time, the eldest Miss Fleming was addressed by a substantial and respectable young tradesman in the neighbourhood. To the person and circumstances of the young man she had not the slightest objection; but she did not altogether like his business. He was a grazier and butcher; and though at times she was disposed to overlook that matter, and treat him with kindness, especially in the hope that, as his business was very flourishing, he might be able, in the course of a few years, to lay aside the butchering, and confine himself to the more genteel branch, the sight of his blue dress was intolerably offensive to her; also the possibility that she might, in case of his absence, be called to weigh a leg of mutton, or a pound of suet, seemed an insurmountable obstacle ; and again she treated him with coldness and caprice. Then, too, a lawyer's clerk paid her some attentions—a much more dashing gentleman
than the honest butcher, and his profession unquestionably a vast deal more genteel, though it afforded him little prospect of maintaining a wife and family. Whatever might be Miss Fleming's serious intentions, if she had any,
away her steady lover; who married a worthy young woman, not too proud to acknowledge and assist him, and feel an interest in his useful and profitable calling, and who never gave him occasion to regret the transfer of his affections. As to the young lawyer, he had no serious thoughts on the subject beyond the beguiling a leisure hour, and occasionally taking a seat at the hospitable table of Mr. Fleming, or attending his daughters to a dance. In a few months he picked up some other acquaintance, and Miss Fleming was deserted. Whether or not she ever received another serious offer is not known; but she is at this day a frivolous, scandal-loving, card-playing, useless old maid, with nothing to engage her mind but the gossip of the neighbourhood, and the remembrance and recapitulation of her youthful attractions and accomplished education, for which neither herself nor any person living is one whit the better.
Her sisters are both married, but they are not happy. Eliza, the second daughter, is reckoned to have done very well; and she is indeed surrounded with outward comforts, and united to an intelligent and respectable partner : but then, he does not find in her an intelligent companion ; and, disgusted with her frivolity and insipidity, he goes out to seek society, and returns with an irritated temper, and a discontented mind, to a
slatternly home, a thoughtless wife, and a group of rebellious, noisy, spoiled children. Tremendous scenes of altercation and violence ensue, and each party reproaches the other as the cause of their mutual unhappiness. Ah! but it is not a cause of recent date. It was in operation when the young lady at school was employed in pretending to acquire a set of useless, superficial accomplishments, while her mind and heart were left uncultivated ; and when, at the important period of her return from school, she was left to direct her own pursuits, without regard to present improvement and usefulness, or to preparation for the employments of future life. On the part of the gentleman, it was in operation, when the admiring lover, captivated by a pretty face and sprightly manners, forgot to inquire after the more sterling qualities of mind and heart, so indispensable to domestic happiness; and when, perceiving the mistake of his choice, he failed to exercise that forbearance which good sense and principle would have dictated, and to encourage and promote that improvement which might even then have been successfully attempted; and which, under existing circumstances, afforded the only remaining chance of a tolerable degree of concord and comfort.
Susanna Fleming, the youngest of the family, educated on the same false principles as her elder sisters, when she returned from school shared the chamber of a servant. This led to a very unprofitable and improper degree of intimacy. The young lady became familiar with the petty gossip and intrigues of uneducated and unprincipled per
For want of mental cultivation, and regular
and useful employment, her time and attention were engrossed by worthless novels, and trifling acquaintances; and at a very early age she threw herself away for life by an imprudent marriage.
The daughters of Mrs. Bourne were trained and directed in a very different path ; and, happily for themselves and all connected with them, they have not departed from it. “At this very important period,” thought Mrs. Bourne, “it will be necessary judiciously to arrange, and steadily to adhere to a plan for the regular employment of time. We must secure opportunities for mental cultivation and improvement, for instruction and practice in the humble but important duties of domestic life
; while suitable and sufficient opportunity is afforded for exercise, recreation, and society."
“Dear me !” exclaimed Mrs. Norris, “why that is as bad as being at school, to do every thing in such a regular methodical way. Why, what did they go to school for, but to improve their minds, and all that? Are they to be always kept at their books now? or are they to do the work of the cook and housemaid, or the sewing of the family?"
Mrs. Bourne hoped that her daughters had gained some improvement at school ; but she justly considered school instructions to be little more than the collecting of tools and materials which future diligence must apply to practical purposes. Hence she laboured to impress on their minds a just sense of the necessity and value of self-improvement. She justly considered it highly important to have a settled object in view, and a specific course of duty marked out, with an allotted portion of time for its due discharge. In the
arrangements of her family nothing was left to chance and caprice, but a plan was judiciouly laid down and steadily acted upon. Early rising she justly regarded as essential to success and excellence, and a habit to be formed in early life. Her young people had never been accustomed to consider lying in bed an indulgence. The family was regularly assembled for worship at an early hour, before the interruptions of business were likely to interfere with the tranquillity so desirable in the sacred exercise ; and both the precept and example of the parents concurred in recommending the securing a still earlier hour for devout retirement. The conversation at meal times was not suffered to degenerate into idle and frivolous tattle, but was always of an interesting and instructive character, such as had a tendency to awaken inquiry in the minds of the young, and to direct them to suitable sources of information. A regular portion of time was assigned to the direct improvement of the mind by a course of reading. Besides this, while the females were employed on needlework, which usually occupied their evenings, Mr. Bourne, or one of his sons, read aloud some interesting biography, or travels, or the periodical literature of the day. Music, drawing, and fancy work, were admitted, as affording agreeable variety and recreation, but not exalted into the business of life.
In all the pursuits of these young people, their parents were anxious to direct their attention to such things as would be permanently useful, and in which they ought to be expert and well informed in future life. Hence they were accustomed by turns to assist their mother in domestic