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K. Yes, I remember there was a gentleman here that came from Germany, I think, and he could hardly talk a word of English, but
you could talk to him in French; and I wished very much to be able to understand what you were saying, for I believe part of it was about me.
M. It was. Well then you see the use of French. But I cannot say this is a necessary part of knowledge to young women in general, only it is well worth acquiring, if a person has leisure and opportunity. I will tell you, however, what is quite necessary for one in your station, and that is, to write a good hand, and to cast accounts well.
K. I should like to write well, because then I should send letters to my friends when I pleased, and it would not be such a scrawl as our maid Betty writes, that I dare say her friends can hardly make out.
M. She had not the advantage of learning when young, for you know she taught herself since she came to us, which was a very sensible thing of her, and I suppose she will improve. Well, but accounts are almost as necessary as writing; for how could I cast up all the market bills, and tradesmen's accounts, and keep my house-books without it?
K. And what is the use of that, mamma?
M. It is of use to prevent us being overcharged in any thing, and to know exactly how much we spend, and whether or no we are exceeding our income, and in what articles we ought to be: more saving. Without keeping accounts: the richest man might soon come to be ruined before he knew that his affairs were going wroog.
K. But do women always keep accounts? I thought that was generally the business of the men.
M. It is their business to keep the accounts belonging to their trade, or profession, or estate; but it is the business of their wives to keep all the household accounts: and a woman almost in any rank, unless, perhaps, some of the highest of all, is to blame if she does not take upon her this necessary office. I remember a remarkable instance of the benefit which a young lady derived from an attention to this point. An eminent merchant in London failed for a great sum.
K. What does that mean, mamma ?
M. That he owed a great deal more than he could pay. His creditors, that is those to whom he was indebted, on examining his accounts, found great deficiencies which they could not make out; for he had kept his books very
irregularly, and had omitted to put down many things that he had bought and sold. They suspected, therefore, that
great waste had been made in the family expenses; and they were the more sus. picious of this, as a daughter, who was a very genteel young lady, was his housekeeper, his wife being dead. She was told of this; upon which, when the creditors were all met, she sent them her house-books for their examination. They were all written in a very fair hand, and every single article was entered with the greatest regularity, and the sums were all cast up with perfect exactness. The gentlemen were so highly pleased with the proof of the young lady's ability, that they all agreed to make her a handsome present out of the effects, and one of the richest of them, who was in want of a clever wife, soon after paid his addresses to her, and married her.
K. That was very lucky, for I suppose she took care of her poor father, when she was rich. But I shall have
nothing of that sort to do a great while.
M. No; but young women should keep their own accounts of clothes and pocket-money, and other expenses, as I intend you shall do when you grow up.
K. Am I not to learn dancing, and music, and drawing too, mamma?
M. Dancing you shall certainly learn pretty soon, because it is not only an agreeable accomplishment in itself, but is useful in forming the body to ease and elegance in all its motions. As to the other two, they are merely ornamental accomplishments, which, though a woman of middling station
be admired for possessing, yet she will never be censured for being without. The propriety of attempting to acquire them, must depend on natural genius for them, and upon leisure and other accidental circumstances. For some