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that some flattering gossip has said, " I wonder your husband should not buy jewels for you, they would become you better than Mrs. such an one, for we all remember the time when she was in a very different line of life to what she now is, but it is surprising how some people get on in the world!” and unless the mind of the person addressed is exceedingly welldisciplíned, it is most likely that she could not help replying, “But they do say that the husband has made some unfortunate speculations lately, and the wife we know is not the best of managers,” and so on in increasing and mutual detraction. But this detraction might never have taken place, had not these ladies been in particular competition with the lady with the diamond ear-rings, because they were perhaps of the same age, of the same personal pretensions, moved in the same family circle, or that their husbands were in the same line of business.

In their power of exciting pernicious jealousies, the competitions between public characters are nearly equalled by the rivalships in a public ball-room. Nor are private balls, concerts, or any scenes for the display of rival accomplishments, wholly exempted from the dangers alluded to. The first public ball is often anticipated by a girl on her entrance into the world, as the climax of every thing delightful, and as if it were the chief end of her education, and even of her exist

But I fear that many an amiable girl leaves the ball-room a degree less amiable than when she first entered it. She has begun a career of rivalship and display. She has come into general and particular competition with her young acquaintances. If, as she goes down the dance, or exhibits her graces in the quadrille, she hears encomiums on her own charms and elegant performance, her vanity is perniciously fed, she is in danger of considering a ball-room as her sphere, and the scene of the greatest delights, while the modest, safe enjoyments of domestic life become comparatively insipid. If, on the contrary, she overhears the praises of her competitors, she is exposed to feel the pain of jealousy and mortification, and the young acquaintances who were, perhaps, dear to her before that evening, she will, at least, be in future inclined to depreciate. if she be so wise and amiable as to remain in this scene of danger and temptation, uninjured by her own success, or that of others, I fear that those most interested in her triumphs will not entirely escape from the snares attendant on competition; and parents, or affectionate relations, who had hitherto been candid in judging the merits of their friends' and neighbours' children, will learn to depreciate their claims to admiration as soon as they behold them in a ball-room, in particular competition with their own chil dren and relatives. But, if even the successful and the distinguished there be exposed to occasional mortification, and its censorious results, how strong must be the temptation to detraction experienced by those unfortunate indivi.


duals, who have succeeded neither in general nor particular competition, and having gone home without having been asked to dance, at all, or been forced to accept a disagreeable partner, rather than not dance! Surely, their hours after the ball, while they draw closely round the domestic hearth on their return, to talk over the scenes of the evening, with those to whom they probably appeared the “wonder of their kind," must have been passed in taking to pieces, as the phrase is, their more admired competitors, unless they were to an unusual degree under moral restraint. Therefore, both to the successful and to the unsuccessful, to those in general and those in particular competition, the first ball is the beginning of a series of dangers and temptations, which are likely to have a pernicious effect on the youthful mind and character. Nor are the youth of the other sex exempted from the temptations to evil attendant on such scenes. They are rivals in the choice of partners, and in skill in the dance; therefore, successful and unsuccessful competition will have the same effect on them as on my own sex; and who that has ever listened to the comments of men as well as

on each other, but must allow, that detraction from the merits of their competitors is the besetting sin of men as well as of women. May I be permitted to observe here, that long experience has taught me to believe, that happy and privileged indeed are those, whatever may be their own peculiar line of temptation, who are born under circumstances which


exclude them from the dangers incident to the ball and the concert room! And happy and favoured also are they, who, having experienced their pleasures and their dangers, have been willing to resign them even in their early years, for the more harmless pleasures of domestic life, and been contented to exert the talents which charmed an admiring crowd, to give variety to the amusements of their family circle, to gladden the parental heart, and to render home to all its inliabitants the dearest and most delightful, as well as the safest place on earth.

I wish to indulge myself in giving an extract from one of Baroness de Stael's works, which bears directly and powerfully on the subject before me.

Observe,” says that admirable writer,“

a young woman in a ball-room, wishing to be thought the handsomest woman there, but fearing that her wishes inay be disappointed! Pleasure, in whose name the party had assembled, is annihilated to her. She has not a single moment's enjoyment; for every moment is, to her, absorbed by her ruling ambition, and by the efforts which she makes to conceal it. She watches the looks, the slighest signs of the observations of others, with the attention of the moralist, the uneasiness of the ambitious; and being anxious to conceal from all eyes the sufferings of her mind, it is by her affectation of gaity during the triumph of her rivals, by the turbulence of her conversation, while she hears her rivals applauded, and by the too eager kind of overacted interest with which she accosts them; it is by

these superfluous efforts that she betrays her real feelings. Grace, that crowning charm of beauty, can not exist without the


and artlessness of confidence; uneasiness and constraint deprive us even of the advantages which we possess. The contraction of wounded selflove alters and disfigures the face, while a consciousness of this painful truth increases the evil, without giving power to remove it. Pain, therefore, is multiplied by pain, and the end in view is thrown at a greater distance even by the attempt to obtain it.” And in the picture, which this highly-gifted woman draws, of the competitions of a ball room,—this picture, as she calls it, of the history of a child, she sees, as she expresses it, a foundation of the sorrows and disappointments of mankind in general, and confirms with her valuable opinion, my own belief, that competition, in one way or another, is the operating cause of most of the evils, the sins, and the disappointments of life.

It has been said, that the enmities between near relations are the most deadly, because of the close collision into which they are brought, and thence, I believe, their jealousies are the greater also. I am not alluding now to the nearest and dearest ties, though I have seen mothers jealous of their daughters, fathers jealous of their sons, uncles of their nephews, aunts of their neices, and brothers and sisters of each other; but I allude to the competition which exists, unconsciously to themselves perhaps, between branches of the

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