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The Well-Bred Girl, 2nd edition
by a lady of Boston (1850 [1841])

One of the joys of books on etiquette and conduct of life is glimpsing standards of behavior in earlier time periods. The Well-Bred Girl shows us the daily life of an ideal girl: quiet, respectful, thoughtful. She goes to school, makes a dress, cleans her room. She visits, she studies, she writes letters, and she collects advice on “good breeding” from the French, who are a “very polite nation.”

The Well-Bred Girl is an extension of The Well-Bred Boy, an etiquette book published two years earlier. Like Boy, Girl is a narrative without conflict. A cardboard cutout named “Alice” moves gracefully through her days, accomplishing at age 14 as much as an adult woman; when Alice’s mother is absent or ill, “Alice was able to take her place” at meals. Nothing flusters Alice.

Presenting information in the form of fiction has a long tradition in the history of literature for children. Sometimes it results in an interesting read: Samuel Griswold Goodrich’s Peter Parley is an imperfect character and a lively storyteller. These narratives of well-bred children are prime examples of when the technique doesn’t work: Alice is interesting only in that she trots us through bits and pieces of private life of the white middle-class in 19th-century America.

Details of life include Alice showing us the making of a bed (Eliza Leslie also includes half a page on bed-making in her etiquette book) and the ideal methods of housekeeping (Alice has her own dust cloth embroidered with her initials and another embroidered cloth with which she wipes her wash basin). When she visits a chronically ill friend, we learn how to properly act as a nurse. An extremely detailed description of how to make a plain dress is included, in case a woman “is so situated as not to be able to get any one to do it for her.” We learn how to enter the room at a party, “that step which is apt to be so much dreaded by young persons, before they become accustomed to visiting”; the “courtesy” Alice makes on page 23 would now be called a “curtsy.”

Among the social matters discussed in the book is the education of hearing-impaired students. The author includes an unusual intepretation of the American Revolution as the last resort of the victim of bullying: “the last defence of a weaker boy, who, having been oppressed and tormented by one much stronger and older as long as he can possibly bear it, at last, when he has used all milder measures to make his persecutor desist from his tyranny, arouses all his powers, and makes such a vigorous resistance that the older and stronger combatant is obliged to retire from the field, and leave the young hero in peace.”

Like The Well-Bred Boy, the book is an example of judicious padding. A 17-page story details how a newly impoverished young woman learns to care for her own clothing. A 12-page biography of linguist Elizabeth Smith (1776-1806) shows “much may be done by a diligent use of all one’s opportunities.” An seven-page letter is reprinted as a model of letter-writing.

Like The Well-Bred Boy, The Well-Bred Girl has a complicated publishing history. The first edition was published in 1841, at 131 pages and with a frontispiece (Boston: William Crosby & Company). It was reprinted in 1844 at 124 pages (Boston: T. H. Carter and Company) and again in 1845, also at 124 pages (Boston: William Crosby and Company). Both editions have a frontispiece, but the frontispiece for the 1845 edition varies between at least two illustrations. In 1850, the book was published in one volume with The Well-Bred Boy, apparently as a gift book; the volume has the kind of presentation plate often found in gift books. Each book has separate pagination, indicating that the 1850 edition was printed from stereotype plates.

About this transcription: While the transcription at merrycoz.org of The Well-Bred Boy is from an early edition, this transcription of Girl is made from The Well-Bred Boy and Girl; or, New School of Good Manners. Two Volumes in One, published by B. B. Mussey and Company in 1850 (copyrighted 1849). The page numbers for Boy in the Mussey edition duplicate the page numbers for that title’s 1844 edition, down to a bibliographic quirk at pages 73 and 74; the 1850 volume apparently was printed from those plates. The page numbers here for Girl probably duplicate those in the 1844 edition (Boston: T. H. Carter and Company, 1844); unfortunately, no frontispiece was included in the Mussey edition.

The Well-Bred Girl, 2nd ed. (B. B. Mussey & Co., 1850)

[title page]


a bible, with grapes and a pitcher


[copyright page]

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1849,
By B. B. MUSSEY & CO.,
In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.


[p. 5]



A Day at Home, and at School, … 7


Visiting, … 21

The Magic Wand, … 27

The Game of Weathercocks, … 30

Madam Bobinetta, … 32


Needle-Work, … 37


The Calico Gown, … 48


Study, … 66

Sketch of the Life of Elizabeth Smith, … 69


A Visit in the Country, … 83

p. 6


Letter-Writing, … 92

Deaf and Dumb Quarrelling, … 106


Maxims of Good Breeding, … 113

Conclusion, … 123

[p. 7]





Alice was fourteen years old. She had been carefully brought up, and was of a thoughtful temper of mind, and paid great attention to all the instructions that were given her. Perhaps it may be of some advantage to other girls to know exactly how she passed her time, and how she performed all the duties of her life. If they have acquired other and better habits, they will feel thankful to the good friends who have had the care of their education; and if, from any accident or misfortune, they have not been so well bred, they may gain some hints, to direct their conduct, from her example.

p. 8

Before going to bed at night, Alice was in the habit of making up her mind at what hour it was necessary and proper for her to arise in the morning, and having firmly resolved to get up at a particular time, she always found she awoke at that hour. Young people sometimes think they cannot get up, unless some one comes to call them; but almost any one who tries it, will find he can wake up at any time he fixes, strange as it may seem.

Having fairly awoke, and ascertained from her watch that the time was come, Alice did not allow herself to hesitate a moment; for to lie one moment beyond the time, only makes a person want to lie two longer, and so it grows harder and harder to arise. One vigorous spring from the bed, and a plentiful application of cold water, soon drives the sleep from the frame of an active young person.

Having dressed herself neatly and carefully, and being in good season, she had no need to hurry. She proceeded to put her room in order. Her bed had been laid open as soon as she had left it, and at all seasons

p. 9

when the weather would permit, the window of her room was thrown up, so that, by the time she was dressed, the bed was aired, and Alice proceeded to make it up. She took care to give it a good beating and shaking, and then spread the clothes on in a very careful manner, tucking the under sheet nicely all round, before putting on the upper, and sloping the whole in a manner to form the exact angle approved by Sir Walter Scott.

She then proceeded to put every thing about the room in its place, to wipe the furniture with a duster, which she had neatly hemmed and marked with her name, and provided with a loop, that it might be kept hanging up on a nail, especially provided for it. The washstand was wiped with another cloth, also neatly hemmed and marked.

This exercise had aroused and invigorated Alice, and her mind was in a favorable state to engage in those devotional exercises with which every person of good principles and habits desires to begin the day. The habits of devotion, which Alice had early been taught to form, had been strengthened

p. 10

and encouraged by the excellent Advice of Mrs. Chapone. Some quotations from one of the letters of that lady, with which Alice had been particularly pleased, may have some effect upon the minds of other young persons.

“Forget not to dedicate yourself to the service of your heavenly Father every morning, to implore his forgiveness of your faults, and his protection from evil every night; and this not merely in formal words, unaccompanied by any act of the mind, but ‘in spirit and in truth;’ in grateful love and humble adoration. Nor let these started periods of worship be your only communication with him: accustom yourself to think often of him in all your waking hours; to contemplate his wisdom and power in the works of his hands; to acknowledge his goodness in every object of use or of pleasure; to delight in giving him praise in your inmost heart, in the midst of every innocent gratification, in the liveliest hour of social enjoyment.”

Alice had early learned to enter, heart and soul, into her communion with her heavenly

p. 11

Father. The little troubles which even children have, she had learned to carry to his footstool. She had asked his help in the trials and difficulties which even the young are called to meet, and which, though trifling in the eyes of the world, are still trials and sorrows to them; and she had learned the truth of that word of Scripture, “Seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.”

She was also in the habit of reading a portion of the Bible every day. In doing this she was fond of following the advice of an old-fashioned but sensible writer, who says,—

“Short and select passages from both Testaments, but especially the New, and more particularly from the history and sermons of our Savior, should be perused and pondered at leisure,—in doing which you should, with awful reverence and childlike simplicity, lay your mind open to the native impressions of truth, and to the secret teachings of its Author.

“When, in this way, you meet with one or more verses that strike you with peculiar

p. 12

conviction or delight, close the book, revolve them again and again, look up to heaven and implore the Father of Spirits to write their meaning on your heart, ‘as with the point of a diamond;’ and read nothing more at that time, nothing at least that has not a near relation to the ideas and affections they excite. Give these an unstudied, easy vent in prayer. The benefit and pleasure will be unspeakable. Only suffer not the tincture left upon you to be lost in the succeeding scenes. Next morning review the same passage, endeavor to recall the same sentiments, and with your pencil mark it for your future perusal.”

Having thus sought for that strength which is made perfect in weakness, Alice was prepared to enter on the duties of the day. She took her place cheerfully and politely at the breakfast-table, wishing the family good morning as she entered the room. As she was the oldest daughter, she was able, by being down before the family were seated, to assist her mother in arranging the younger children, and providing for their wants at the table.

p. 13

By carefully observing her mother’s method of presiding at the table, Alice was able to take her place when, by illness or any engagement, she was obliged to leave it. She was so very attentive, that she observed the moment any one’s cup was empty, and asked if she should again fill it. She had a wonderful faculty in remembering who took sugar and cream, and who preferred the tea or coffee in a more simple state. No one could spread the hot cakes so much to the taste of the younger children as Alice, and if she had not had great power of doing every thing nicely and quickly, she would hardly have found time to eat her own breakfast, so much was she called on to render assistance to others. But a cheerful, active young lady, who desires to help every one, can do a great deal in a short time.

After breakfast was over, provided with her nice little mop, and a large basin of hot water, she could assist her mother in washing the breakfast things, or perform the whole of that office herself in a very satisfactory manner. She then proceeded to attend to those little offices, which usually, in

p. 14

a family, fall upon the oldest daughter, in arranging the household affairs for the day. She had early formed the habit of observing carefully the manner in which her mother managed these things, and from first assisting her, she had at last come to relieve her of many of the little cares, which, of one kind or another, housekeepers have to occupy themselves with in the early part of the day.

By the time these were despatched, the school hour had arrived. Alice had dressed herself so neatly in the morning, that no change was necessary to be made in her costume, except to relieve herself of her ample apron, which had prevented her dress from becoming soiled. The evening or afternoon before, she had studied her lessons carefully, and arranged her books in a place where she could find them without a moment’s delay. She walked to school briskly, but without romping or running, as she thought she had passed the age when such freedom appeared proper in the public street.

She saluted her schoolmates gayly, and was always gladly received by them; for,

p. 15

beside that her cheerful, pleasant manners, and excellent disposition, made her a great favorite, she was so good a scholar, and always came to school with her lessons so well studied, that the young ladies, if they were at a loss about any thing in the lesson, could generally gain some help from their good friend Alice.

If there was nothing to be done about the lessons, she was always ready to enter into conversation; but it was open, pleasant, good-humored conversation. She took no pleasure in speaking of the faults or defects of her friends, or in repeating any ridiculous or scandalous story she might have by chance heard, for well-informed and kind-hearted people, be they young or old, can or ought to be able always to find something to talk about, excepting the faults or awkward habits of others. And she was also careful not to notice or laugh at any little peculiarity of dress, which she might observe in any of the other young ladies.

But though so social when she was out of school, and so fond of the society of her companions, as soon as the hour for study

p. 16

began, she thought of nothing but her books; her whole mind was given to her lessons. It has been said of some men, who have been very remarkable for the acquirements they have made in knowledge and the arts, that they owed their success to the power they had acquired of fixing their minds, in their whole force, upon the subject before them at the time. It is certainly a most valuable habit, and one which young people cannot take too much pains to acquire.

Children, who sit lounging over a lesson for an hour, looking from their book every other minute, and allowing every trifle to call away their thoughts from the subject of their studies, and at the end of the study hour, go into the class knowing as little about the lesson as when they took up the book, and having gained nothing but weariness, from the way they have spent their time,—such children would be surprised to find how much they could learn in half an hour, if they steadfastly fixed their eyes and thoughts upon the book before them, kept incessantly and slowly reading over the les-

p. 17

son, and trying to fix its meaning and its words deeply upon the memory. The pleasure they would have in repeating a lesson thoroughly learned and understood, would repay them for any trouble they might have had in fixing their attention.

Very few children actually study all the time they hold their books in their hands; but they would find, on trial, it would be far less wearisome to devote the whole mind in this way for a short time, get the lesson at once, and have the thing over, and be able then to allow the thoughts to go where they please, and rest themselves after their hard work.

This habit may be easily formed, and grows easier every day. By attending to her lessons in this manner, Alice was always ready, when the hour for recess arrived, to lay down her book and take a walk, or talk and laugh with her companions, and unbend her mind and refresh herself, for the duties which came after.

On returning home, she made herself ready for dinner. She entered modestly, as she found opportunity, into the conversation

p. 18

of the table, listening attentively to what was said by her older friends, and was very careful to assist in helping from any dish which stood near her. This she did without hurry or bustle, being careful not to spill gravy on the cloth, or, by haste or awkwardness in moving any thing, throw the table into disorder; and her mother found her already a great help, in getting through the grand affair of dinner.

Young ladies who attend school have not a great deal of undivided time for visiting, reading, or needle[-]work; but, by diligence in employing all the odd moments, Alice contrived to accomplish a great deal. If she expected to have any engagement in the evening, which would prevent her studying her lessons, she was careful to take time enough from the afternoon to prepare herself thoroughly for school the next morning. If her evening was to be disengaged, she would pass a part of the afternoon in visiting her young friends, or walking. She always tried to get one good long walk every day.

She had always some needle-work fixed ready to be done, in her work-box, which

p. 19

she could take up at any moment, when she was sitting with her friends; and from thus having it always ready, she contrived to do a good deal; and from having learned to do it neatly and skilfully, she found it a very pleasant occupation, and was able to prepare, in a more economical manner than could otherwise have been done, many articles of dress and convenience for herself and others.

When her mother had friends to visit her, and Alice was in the apartment, she did not think, because she was so much younger, that she might be allowed to take up a book, and sit in the corner reading, without paying any attention to the conversation, but she listened respectfully, and, without being at all forward, joined it whenever she could do so with propriety.

If she had reason to suppose, from the air or manner of persons conversing, that they would prefer she should not remain in the room, she always, if possible, retired to another apartment, instead of lingering about to indulge a foolish curiosity, and hear something which it was not intended she

p. 20

should hear. She knew, if the subject of conversation was one which would be pleasant or useful to her, her mother would desire her to remain; but she could easily tell, from her looks and manner, if she thought it best she should not listen to it; and when this was the case, she did not wait to be told to go away.

In such varieties of active employment and quiet study, the days with Alice passed quickly along; and having again commended herself to the care of her Father in heaven, she retired to rest, resolved, with the help of God, to arise early and engage vigorously in the duties of the coming day.

[p. 21]



With her amiable temper, and such agreeable manners, it is no wonder that the company of Alice was much sought for by her young acquaintance. She was often invited to join in little parties for social amusement, and, provided these were such parties as she could go to and return from at an early hour, her mother was always glad to have Alice attend.

If she received a written invitation, she never put off answering it longer than the next day; and if the invitation were given but a short time beforehand, and she did not expect to be able to accept it, she returned an answer immediately. She was careful to write her answer upon nice paper, neatly folded and sealed, her refusal or acceptance being expressed in simple language, and the usual form.

p. 22

If she did not expect to be able to go to the party, she always expressed her regrets for being obliged to decline, and did not at first send a promise to go, and afterwards, at a late hour, despatch a refusal, as is sometimes practised. As, at juvenile parties, very large numbers are not generally invited, it is more pleasant to the young person who receives, to know exactly how many she has a right to expect.

Though Alice, from her mother’s fore-thought and her own careful habits, always had her simple wardrobe in good order, yet, when she was to make a visit in the evening, she took out, and arranged upon her bed, all the articles which she expected to wear, and examined them, to be sure that they were in perfect order for use. This prevented the necessity of going to her drawers and closets with a lamp. Things are much more easily found when they are looked for leisurely, and by daylight, than in the evening in a hurry.

As it has been before remarked, when she was to go out in the evening, Alice always was careful to study her lessons in the after-

p. 23

noon. She did not need her usual walk so much when she was to go to a dancing or romping party in the evening.

She always took care to dress herself at a sufficiently early hour, because she could take up her book or her work as well after as before she had made her toilet, and was then always sure not to be hurried. Though she did not think much about her dress, before or after it was put on, yet she took care, at the moment of dressing, to arrange every thing with neatness and propriety, that nothing might become disordered in the course of the evening.

At the proper hour she made her visit, and having, in the dressing-room, folded her outside dresses, and rolled them together in such a manner as to have no difficulty in finding them again, she went down stairs and proceeded to enter the room—that step which is apt to be so much dreaded by young persons, before they become accustomed to visiting.

She walked up to the young lady who was receiving, and having saluted her with a slight courtesy, and shaken hands with her,

p. 24

she paid her respects to the young lady’s mother and elder sisters, if they were present. She then stood aside, that she might not be in the way of others who were entering.

If she saw any friends to whom she particularly desired to speak, she joined them. If she accidentally happened to be placed, and to be forced to stand, for some moments, near a young person with whom she was not acquainted, and to whom she had not been introduced, she did not remain stiff and speechless, but tried to think of something which she could say to the young lady, and often thus found herself engaged in very pleasant conversation, even with a stranger. If she could not think of any thing else to talk about, to one with whom she had no acquaintance, she could remark upon the pretty appearance of the mutual friend whom they had come to visit, the flowers, the pictures, or some of the thousand trifling subjects which are suited to such an occasion.

If it happened to be a dancing party, Alice was always glad to join in this amusement, of which she was very fond. If she were asked to dance by a young gentleman with

p. 25

whom she was not much acquainted, and whom she did not fancy, she did not refuse, because it is considered very uncivil, in company, to refuse a partner, unless one is actually engaged to some one else. Whether she liked him or not, when he asked her to dance, she said, “With pleasure, sir,” or something of the kind, took his arm, and walked to her place in the quadrille.

If she happened to meet, in the quadrille, any person, either a lady or gentleman, who had any awkward or unpleasant habit, she did not, when, in the course of the dance, she came near any of her intimate friends, indulge herself in making remarks upon their peculiarities, or laughing at them. Having been but little in society herself, she felt very much afraid that her own manners were not exactly what they ought to be, and she would have been very far from laughing at any mistakes she might see in others; and she had heard her mother remark that some young persons, who appear to great disadvantage when they first go into company, by observing the manners of the well-bred, and being encouraged and not ridiculed by

p. 26

others, very soon become exceedingly polite and proper in their behavior.

If dancing were not the amusement of the evening, Alice was always ready to join in any thing else which was proposed. She talked pleasantly with whomever she found herself near. If music was proposed, she was willing to take her turn at the piano, without being urged. She knew she did not play very well, but she also knew that it was not expected of a young miss, who was attending to her other studies, to be a finished performer. Her friends were pleased with her ready compliance with their wishes, and willing to excuse any slight faults; and, in practising her music, she had taken care that the few simple pieces which she had time to learn, should be thoroughly studied, so that, such as they were, she could play them at any time without embarrassment.

She was very skilful in arranging and directing the social games, of which there are so many. She had lately seen a little French work, which contained a great variety of them, and some of which have not been very common. Alice translated a few

p. 27

of them for the use of her young companions and herself; and perhaps they may furnish a variety to the sports of some other young people.

One of the games is called the Magic Wand, and is described in the French book, in a pleasant manner, in a letter from one young lady to another.

My Dear Gertrude: I am going to describe to you a play, which gives a great deal of sport when it is well managed, but which cannot be played in the same company but once, since, when the secret is found out, there is no longer any amusement in it. I will tell you exactly how I managed, upon a late occasion, so that, if you should have an opportunity, you may know how to play off the joke.

“I dressed myself in a large shawl, put on like a sort of mantle, and fixed on my head a high, pointed-crowned hat, which we had found the other day in our good grandpapa’s garret. I took in my hand a long stick, and then placed myself in the midst of the astonished circle. I drew circles around me,

p. 28

and made many motions with my wand. I pronounced, in half-intelligible terms, words taken by chance from my last Latin lesson.

“After waving this wand about for a few moments, in a very mysterious style, I pointed to one of my friends, who was in the secret, and ordered her, in a very commanding tone, to place herself at the end of the room, and cover her eyes, so that she could not discover any thing.

“My friend obeyed me, making at the same time a low courtesy; and having blindfolded herself, she turned to the company, that they might be sure she was not able to see any thing. ‘Now,’ said I, ‘collect all your skill, and tell me on what person the wand rests.’ I then raised the wand, and touching lightly the shoulders of two or three persons, I said, ‘Wand, touch here—wand, touch there,’ as I touched each person, (and you may touch as many as you please;) but at last I touched, and let it remain upon, the shoulder of the PERSON WHO SPOKE LAST, and then said, ‘On whom the wand rests, now declare.’ My friend, who knew it was to remain on the person who spoke last, easily

p. 29

told who that was. The person who was touched was also in the secret, and went, as is the course of the game, to take the place of the person who had guessed.

“We repeated the same thing. Sometimes we sent to the end of the room those who were not in the secret; they, of course, would guess by chance, and if they mentioned the wrong person, would have to pay a forfeit. To prevent suspicion, I gave up the wand, and some of my friends who were in the secret took it, and the play went on in the same way. A great many of the company took their turn, and we collected so many forfeits that we put off redeeming them until another evening. The company persevered in trying to find out the secret, but in vain; and when, at last, we announced that the voice of the PERSON WHO SPOKE LAST served to make the blind man know the secret, every one confessed he had no suspicion of it, and promised to try to use the magic wand upon the first occasion.

“If, my dear Gertrude, you should learn any new games, I hope you will write and tell them to me, for we are getting almost

p. 30

tired of the old ones. I wish I could send you over one of those loves of worked muslin bonnets, which are so much the fashion here now; they are so graceful that they make the plainest person pretty. My new one, which my good aunt Josephine sent me for a birthday present, makes me almost satisfied with my own little insignificant face.

“Jusqu’à mort, ma chere,
Votre,     Melanie.”


The company arrange themselves, and give to the four corners of the room, or the part of the park where they are playing, the names of the four cardinal points. To avoid disputes, it is best to place the words north, south, east, west, in writing, at the points agreed upon.

One of the players—and it should be a lively, gay person, accustomed to the game—takes the part of Eolus. All the other players arrange themselves in one or more rows. When it is possible, a lady should have a gentleman on each side, and a gentleman a

p. 31

lady. After having ordered silence, Eolus points to one of the corners designated by name, it is no matter which, and from which he means to have the wind blow. When the god of the winds points one way, the company must all turn in the opposite direction.

It is a party of weathercocks, and consequently each one must turn his back upon the wind to show which way it blows. When Eolus cries SOUTH, every body faces NORTH, and in the same way at all the points. When he says TEMPEST, every body must whirl round three times, and come back to the same place. At the word VARIABLE, they must balance themselves, first on one foot, then on the other, until the god of winds names one of the four points. If he says VARIABLE WEST, then they vacillate towards the east, but not rapidly, as most of the motions of the game are made, for the wind is changeable, and often, as soon as they have got round to a certain point, Eolus gives a shout which sends them all round to another.

When the capricious deity is pleased to name a point directly opposite to the one where the company is placed, they must all remain motionless.

p. 32

It may easily be imagined that this opposition of order and motion—the variety, the multiplicity of movements—must give occasion for forfeits, which must be paid whenever a mistake is made; the game affords a great deal of sport.


The company is placed in a circle. The director of the game announces that he is going to give a lamentable account of the different accidents which Madame Bobinetta has met with.

He tells a long, tragi-comic story of the adventures of Madame Bobinetta, and at every turn of the story some accident is made to happen to the imaginary lady, which sets some part of the body in perpetual motion. He begins, for instance, “Madame Bobinetta was walking along, and she knocked the side of her head against a post, and this set her head moving from one side to another, so she could not stop it—So.” Then the speaker moves his head, and all the others must put their heads in motion in the same manner.

The speaker goes on: “The sun shone so

p. 33

bright in Madame Bobinetta’s eyes that she could not help winking—So.” Then he begins to open and shut his eyes, and all the company must follow his example.

Then the speaker says: “Madame Bobinetta met a girl who made faces at her, and Madame Bobinetta made faces in return—So.” Then all the company must follow his example. If any one neglects to do this, in any case, he must pay a forfeit.

The speaker goes on: “Madame Bobinetta walked so long, that, when she sat down, her right foot would not stop, but kept moving back and forward—So.” The speaker gives the sign, and all must follow.

“Madame Bobinetta’s left foot looked on till it was tired, and then began to move in the same manner as the right.” Both the speaker’s feet are put in motion: all the company do the same.

“Madame Bobinetta, finding she could not keep her feet still, began to swing her right hand.” So does the speaker, and the company follow. The same thing takes place with the left hand of the unfortunate lady.

At last the speaker says, “Madame Bobi-

p. 34

netta is moving out of town; we will escort her.” Then all the company cease their movements, turn their chairs half round to the right, and, seizing each one his seat with both hands, draws the chair after him round the room, till every one finds himself again in his place. It may easily be imagined that, if this escort does not display a great deal of pomp, it is at least very noisy[.]

Young people are generally fond of these games, because they cause the company to move about, and there are many in use which call for considerable exercise of the memory, and other powers of the mind.

Alice was careful, however, in this, as in every thing, to pay great attention to decorum. She took care not to cause herself to be greatly remarked for her vivacity, or the liberty she took with others. She was careful never, even in sport, to say any thing unkind, or which might hurt the feelings of any of her companions. And when forfeits were decreed, as they are in some of the common games, she was always careful not to propose one which could cause any real

p. 35

pain or embarrassment to the person who was to perform it.

She took care never to snatch rudely the dresses of others. She was also careful not to attach herself too exclusively to one or two young people, who were her especial favorites, but to try to be gay and social with all.

In choosing a game, she never sought to take the lead. She would modestly propose some play, when she was desired to do so, or no one else had one in readiness; but she never insisted on her own taste in the choice of sports, but readily yielded her own to the wishes of others.

When Alice made a visit, the time was usually fixed by her parents at which they wished her to come home. When she arrived at the house of her friend, or during the evening, she took occasion to ask one of the waiters to let her know when she was sent form. As soon as she found that time had arrived, she decided to go home directly. She did not engage herself for another dance, or begin a new game, but, bidding her friend good night, left the room.

p. 36

In very large parties it is considered sometimes allowable to go away without taking a formal leave; but youthful parties are generally not so crowded as to prevent the lady, who is at home, from speaking to all her friends, and it certainly appears more kind and affectionate, to say a few words in parting.

When Alice was again in her own room, she laid away, as she took them off, all the articles of dress which she had worn, and which she would not want in the morning, that her room might not be in confusion the next day. Though she had entered as heartily as any one into the amusement of the evening, yet her mind was too well regulated to be much excited or disturbed by it. She could sleep as soundly, and wake up in the morning as bright and early, after a party, as if she had been quietly seated all the evening in her mother’s parlor.

[p. 37]



Alice had become so expert with her needle that she quite liked to make use of it. She kept her work-box in perfect order, always taking care to have it furnished with a sufficient variety of sewing materials, that she need not be dependent upon her mother, or other members of the family.

She was always careful to have some small piece of work near her, neatly fitted, and ready to be taken up at any time, so that, if she found a proper occasion, when conversing with a friend, or listening to some one who read aloud, she could take her sewing, without making any noise or confusion in preparing or finding her materials. A great deal of time may be saved in this way.

Alice took the care of mending her own clothes. Any article which required re-

p. 38

pairing, and which would suffer from being washed while it was in a torn state, she mended before it was put into the wash. She carefully examined the articles as they came from the wash, and laid them aside. If she had time, she put them all in a proper state to mend. If a new piece were to be added, she took it from the neat bag where her pieces for mending were kept, and fitted it upon the spot where it was to go, that all might be ready, when she had an opportunity to finish it.

She always repaired her clothes as soon as possible after they came from the wash, and put them away in their proper places. She very much disliked the practice some young people indulge in, of allowing their clean things to remain in an open clothes-basket for some time, as they thus become dusty and tumbled.

As she always bore in mind that a stitch in time saved nine, and put in the one stitch the moment it was needed, she had never any very tedious mendings to go through.

Alice had desired very much to make a dress for herself; so that she might be able

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to do it if she should ever be so situated as not to have it in her power to obtain the assistance of a dress-maker. She made the attempt under the direction of a kind friend, and she succeeded so well that she wrote down her method, which may prove of some assistance to other young persons who may feel desirous to try their skill in the same way.


The breadths must first be measured, of the proper length. If no one is at hand to do it for you, and measure your exact height, you must carefully ascertain the required length by another dress. If it is to be hemmed round the bottom, you must decide on the width you will have the hem, and measure the breadths long enough to allow for that. If it is of silk, or any material which requires a lining, or to be faced with another material round the bottom, you need only allow an inch or two more than the required length.

If the material is of a kind to shrink in

p. 40

washing, or the young lady may expect to lengthen by growing, the skirt can be cut longer than is necessary, and turned over at the top, or a little tuck made round the bottom just above the hem. Four lengths, of yard wide, [sic] and enough of a narrower material, to make up that width, is sufficient for the skirt of a dress.

It is well to measure the breadths, and put a pin at the end of each, before they are cut off, and examine, before it is too late, whether the pattern will hold out for the whole dress.

After you are sure that your measurement is right, tear or cut the breadths apart, and then pin them at the top, as they are to be sewed. If the dress is of calico, or any thing which has a regular figure, care must be taken to have the figure go the right way, and all the breadths the same way.

The breadths may then be sewed up, after which the hem round the bottom can be turned over, by help of a card cut the proper width, with which it should be measured. One of the breadths must be doubled in the middle of the dress in front.

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Directly opposite this, in the next breadth but one, a slit may be cut of about three eighths of a yard in length. This is to be hemmed about an inch wide on the side which presents itself as you begin to hem at the top. The other side may have a narrow hem. The broad hem is then laid flat over the other, and stitched neatly twice across.

The dress is now to be gathered at the top. For this purpose, half a yard on each side of the opening behind must be measured off, and the distance marked by a small notch. This space on each side must be gathered, the edge having been first turned over, so that the needle passes through the double cloth.

The thread should be strong, and the stitches, in this part, be taken small, and about half an inch apart. Another thread must be passed through the gathers half an inch below, in such a manner as to draw them exactly even. This is called gauging. There are sometimes two or three rows of this gathering, though all over two are considered as merely ornamental.

The rest of the top of the dress is to be

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gathered in fine stitches. It is best to take two separate threads for this, one ending at the middle in front.

The skirt being thus completed, you next proceed to the sleeves and waist. As the fashion is so variable with regard to the form of these, no general directions can be given. The best way is to take a dress which fits exactly, and cut a paper pattern, by pinning paper over every part, as accurately as possible. Then by the paper pattern, cut out the lining of the dress, of strong linen or cotton. Having done this, baste it together, and try it on. If any thing is wrong, it can now be altered, and another trial made.

When the lining fits perfectly, the bastings can be taken out, and each piece be laid down on the material of which the dress is to be made. After having ascertained in what manner these can be cut out, with the least waste pieces, the sleeves and waist can be cut. They should be again basted and again tried on, and then the dress may be finished.

But after all, few persons, excepting those who have regularly practised the business of

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a dress-maker, can fit a lady’s garment perfectly well; and it is always best to procure the assistance of a dress-maker, when it is possible, at least to cut and baste. But it is well for every young lady to practise the work enough to be able to make herself a neat dress, provided she is so situated as not to be able to get any one to do it for her.

A little skill of this sort, too, is very useful in repairing and altering garments; and dresses which have been worn, form a very good material for girls to try their experiments upon.

In making up other common linen and cotton garments, and the articles of household use, almost every family has a fashion and taste of its own. Alice, in attempting this kind of work, took an approved pattern of the last set of whatever she intended to make, and, measuring carefully every part, imitated it as nearly as possible.

In cutting linen, a thread should always be drawn where it is to be cut, to insure its being done even. Cotton can be torn without injury. Both cotton and linen should be washed before they are made up; with linen

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it is indispensable. For a general rule, the work looks better to have the turnings for hems and fells very small, and they should always be perfectly even.

In gathering linen or cotton, the rule is to take two threads upon the needle and pass over four. The part to be gathered should be equally divided into two or four, according to its length, and the divisions marked by a notch cut in the cloth, or by a pin.

Alice was very expert in all the kinds of fancy work with the needle which are common. She was careful, in worsted work, to plan and prepare all the materials deliberately at first, to compare the worsteds she was to use with her pattern, and to count the threads very carefully before she began her work, so that the pattern should be begun exactly where it ought to be.

If she were going to make a pincushion, thread-case, or any of the numerous little articles which figure so largely at fairs, and which serve as emblems of regard between young people, she took care, before she began, to select every thing which she should want, and roll it all up neatly, ready for use.

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The cards to stiffen the needle-book, the flannel to stuff it with, the silk, binding, every thing, was ready, so that if she happened to find herself one of a party who were engaged in conversation, or listening to an interesting book, she was not obliged to leave the room to hunt up any materials for her work, but could listen to all that was going on, and get along quickly with her work at the same time.

Alice learned to knit very well, and found it a very pleasant occupation, if she had no needle-work at hand, at twilight, or on any occasion when her eyes could not well bear to be used in reading and sewing.

Stockings and all articles made by knitting are now so cheap that there is but little economy in the domestic manufacture; but there are few ladies who have passed a long life, who have not found knitting a soothing employment at some period of it. Madame Campan, a distinguished French lady, who was employed by Bonaparte as the superintendent of an establishment for educating young girls, says, that one never becomes an expert knitter, unless she learn to knit very

p. 46

young, and persons who learn to knit after they are grown up, will almost always be found to do the work awkwardly. If it were for nothing else but to have an additional resource for amusement in old age, it would be well worth while for all young girls to become expert knitters. Women of the finest intellect, and the greatest cultivation, at some periods of their life, if not always, have derived pleasure from this calm and unexciting occupation. A fit of ennui has often been driven off by a set of knitting-needles, and in the endless variety of open-work stitches, and fancy knitting-work, the mind is often kept from yielding to the influence of an enfeebled state of bodily health.

When girls are young, and acquire all this skill in fancy-work easily, they do well never to omit an opportunity to learn a new stitch, or braid, or the fashion of any ornamental article. It will never do them any hurt, and it will be another resource for them in the checkered pathway of life.

Alice had been much pleased with a story she had met with in French, describing the advantages of an expert use of the needle.

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She translated the story, and it may serve as an illustration of the benefit of the habit which has been here recommended. In the next chapter will be found her translation.

[p. 48]



Elizabeth was thirteen years old. She was a young girl of a gentle and amiable character; she had a very good capacity for every thing which she wished to do, but she did not enter into any thing with zeal, or persevere in it after she had begun. She had been often ill when she was quite young, and on this account her friends had not insisted on her being constantly occupied, so that she formed idle habits. Although she grew weary of her idleness, she came to think that what she had never done she could never do.

Her father died when she was only ten years old. He left his affairs in a very bad state; and his wife, Mrs. Hume, found herself very poor. She could no longer afford to pay the masters who had, until now, given

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lessons to Elizabeth; and, harassed and occupied with the care of her business, she was not able to attend, as she wished, to the education of her daughter.

This was a great misfortune for Elizabeth, who was beginning to have some desire for improvement, and who would have felt mortified to see other young persons of her age more advanced than herself. But she had found a method of quieting herself. “I cannot do it,” was her answer whenever it was proposed to her to do any thing herself.

Though she felt her own ignorance, she did not like to have others perceive it; and she was much troubled when her mother, who hoped to excite her to exert herself, by seeing what others could do, urged her to go to little parties of young people of her own age, who met together in presence of their parents.

Elizabeth had taken lessons and spent some time in practising on the piano-forte; but her indolent habits had prevented her from being a good scholar; and, when she was sometimes asked, in their little companies, to try a piece,

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she was always obliged to play the same, which she was sure to do badly. She would make mistakes, become confused, and sometimes shed tears. But, though sadly mortified on these occasions, her habits were so idle that she could not bring herself to practise any more diligently the next day.

When she had taken dancing lessons, she had paid but little attention to the instructions of her teacher; and she now danced so badly, that she did not like to get up if dancing was the amusement; and, if a stranger happened to be present, she was ashamed to leave her chair. Knowing how little she had improved herself, she became very timid; she always thought people were laughing at her; and she passed her time very unhappily, without, however, making any attempt to relieve herself from her troubles.

Mrs. Hume lived in France. Her home had been formerly in the country, but she was obliged to go to Paris to attend to her affairs; and here she was so much occupied by business away from home, that Elizabeth was left a great deal of the time alone, with her old

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nurse Patsy, who, though very kind, was not very entertaining, and poor Elizabeth often grew very tired.

Mrs. Hume became still more poor, and Elizabeth could have but very few new dresses. Her mother gave her a new calico dress, which at first was very pretty; but Elizabeth was heedless, and, like most lazy people, did not take care of what she had.

Elizabeth had grown considerably during the past year, so that the dresses she had worn the season before did not fit her. Mrs. Hume was so constantly employed she had no time to alter them. Old Patsy had enough to do in cooking, washing, and sweeping; and as to Elizabeth, she had made up her mind she should never do any thing as it should be.

[M]rs. Hume was once asked to pass the evening with a friend. She had supposed there was to be no person there but herself; but, on entering the room, she found quite a party collected. There were several children of different ages. The room was well lighted, and the young people well dressed; there were preparations made for a puppet-show,

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and a supper prepared in the next room. It was a little party.

Elizabeth came in, dressed in her calico frock, on which there were several spots, and a hole, which she had concealed for fear she should be obliged to mend it. In her astonishment she cast her eyes round, and did not see a face she knew. It was the first time she had visited at the house of this lady, who had just returned from the country. She was separated for a little time from her mother, and felt quite unhappy.

She recovered herself, however, while the puppet-show was going on, and was amused, though she was a little mortified at her dress. After the show was over, the young people separated from the smaller children, and went into another room to amuse themselves. Elizabeth was obliged to follow them. Among others she saw a young lady named Melicent, who looked at her, and whispered to another, near her, “Do look at that girl, with her calico dress.” Both of them then began, very impolitely, to whisper together and laugh; then they talked about fashions of things they had, or that they wished they had—of a very

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pretty dress which Melicent was afraid to put on, even in the morning, because it was torn and spotted.

No one was thinking of Elizabeth, and no one looked at her; but she thought all this was said in ridicule of her calico gown. The young lady of the house spoke to her several times, but Elizabeth was too bashful to give her a proper answer, and she finally left her standing on one side. Different games were proposed. Elizabeth would do nothing; she thought if she made any motion, the hole and the spots on her dress would appear; and the thought of this threw her almost into a fever.

After the others had urged her for some time to join them, they left her to herself in a corner. Elizabeth felt very unhappy, and almost ready to cry. The mistress of the house came in, and reproached the others with not paying proper attention to Elizabeth. They excused themselves by saying she had refused every thing they had proposed. She then spoke to Elizabeth; but, when she went to answer, her tears began to fall. The young people did not know what it all meant, and

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Elizabeth, at last, was very glad to go home, begging her mother never to take her out again. Mrs. Hume promised she would not carry her again to see this lady until she had forgotten Elizabeth’s awkwardness, which her mother supposed proceeded from her timidity.

Elizabeth passed a very restless night; and, when she slept, the vexations of the evening returned in her dreams. The next morning, she found her mother had received an invitation, which she had not thought proper to refuse, to dine at the house of one of their relations the next week.

Poor Elizabeth was almost in despair. The thought of again appearing in company in this calico dress, which had been, as she thought, the cause of so much vexation to her, threw her into a trouble which she could not bear.

At last, in her distress, she resolved to look over her old dresses, and see if there were not one more decent. She found one which looked as if it would do, but, alas! it proved too short; the sleeves were out of fashion, and the waist did not meet behind. She tried others; they were still worse, and she

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came back to this. Were there not some means of fixing this? She did not like to ask her mother, who, she knew, was employed every moment in the day, in her own labors.

For the first time in her life, Elizabeth thought of trying if she could not do something herself. She remembered that her cousin Amelia made her own dresses, which, until now, had seemed to her an incredible and impossible thing.

She began to rip, but then she did not know what was to be done next. Her mother came home at that moment. Elizabeth wanted to hide her work; for a person who often deserves blame is afraid, sometimes, even when doing what is right. Mrs. Hume, however, asked about her work, praised her daughter for trying to alter the dress, and promised to help her.

Elizabeth, delighted at the thought that she should really have a neat dress, went briskly to work, and soon perceived that employment is a very amusing thing.

She did not get along very fast, for she was not skilful in the use of her needle; but, by persevering diligently, at the end of a few

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days she had a cambric dress, lengthened with a fold at the bottom, made over after the fashion, and washed neatly by old Patsy.

It is impossible to describe the pleasure she found in this occupation, and the change which took place in her character from that moment. Desirous of making new trials, she spoiled some few things at first; but she had patience, and kept altering, until, at the end of a few months, she was able to arrange any thing she pleased, even without the advice of her mother.

From this time, Elizabeth was not looked upon as a child; she was a young woman, who took pleasure in all her duties. Mrs. Hume wished her not to neglect her lessons for her needle-work; and she made haste to finish her studies in the morning, instead of allowing them to drag along through the day; and, as what one does with zeal is always done well, her progress in all her studies was very perceptible.

Even her appearance was changed. She was no longer the little girl, walking along, swinging her arms, her head sometimes on one shoulder and sometimes on another, loll-

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ing on chairs, and not knowing what position to take to escape the uneasiness which laziness causes; her step was brisk and lively, because she had always some useful end in view; her eyes were animated, as those of a person are who has always something interesting to do.

Since she learned to act, her motions acquired gracefulness. The few friends who visited her mother were greatly pleased with her busy air, and the order which appeared about her.

As soon as Mrs. Hume came in, weary with her occupations, Elizabeth made haste to take her shawl and her bonnet, and lay them carefully in their place. She took care of the house linen; not the smallest rip was allowed to remain unmended. She even found a leisure moment to repair the great lolling-chair in which her mother usually sat. Mrs. Hume, having found such an assistant and friend in her daughter, left to her the care of a great many things which she had not time to attend to herself.

A year had passed since this happy changed. Elizabeth went out very little, because she

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was more fond of working and studying. But, one evening, Mrs. Hume received a letter from the friend at whose house Elizabeth had suffered so much vexation the year before, and who had been, ever since that time, in the country. The next day there was to be a rural party at the village where she lived, and she informed Mrs. Hume she would send a carriage early next morning for her daughter and herself, and hoped they would come and pass the day with her.

Elizabeth blushed at the recollection of the shame she had felt the last year, and which she had not forgotten. She then recollected that, at this moment, she had nothing clean to wear except the same calico dress, which, however, was now in perfect order. If she had said one word, Patsy would have sat up all night to wash and iron her cambric frock, for she loved Elizabeth very much, and spared no pains to please her; but Patsy had a bad cold that day, and did not feel well, and Elizabeth was not willing to have her fatigue herself.

She did not tell her mother what she was thinking about. She saw Mrs. Hume was

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pleased at the thought of her daughter having such a holiday, and she would not let her know that there was any thing disagreeable about the matter. The habit of constant occupation makes people reasonable, because they have not much time to think of what is painful; while people who have nothing to do can only make a great deal of little things, and always think much of the troubles they have, and the pleasures which they do not have.

The next day the carriage came at eight o’clock precisely. Elizabeth was all ready, having the day before finished all her work. The weather was fine. Elizabeth was delighted with the ride; but, when she arrived at the village, and entered the garden, which it was necessary to cross to reach the house, the first person she saw was Melicent, who ran to see the carriage, and who was followed by five or six other young persons, all dressed in white.

Poor Elizabeth thought of her cambric dress; she might have been dressed like the rest, and it would have been very pleasant to her; she sighed a little, but she did not feel

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ashamed. When she entered the drawing-room, she was astonished at the reception she received from the people who were there; they spoke to her as to a person for whom they felt respect.

The young people came in, and sat down by her; they looked at her with an attention which embarrassed Elizabeth. She thought they remembered the last year’s party. Since she had become reasonable, however, she knew it was necessary to conquer her timidity, and she made an effort to speak to the young lady who was beside her. The conversation having been begun, it was proposed they should go into the garden; as soon as they were by themselves, the young girls crowded around her.

“My dear,” said Melicent, “is it really true that you take the care of your mother’s house?”

Elizabeth answered modestly that it was true.

“And did you make this pretty hat you have on yourself?” “Yes.”

“And this dress?” “Yes.”

“It is very pretty,” said Melicent. Eliza-

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beth blushed a little. It was the same dress she wore the last year, but it had been entirely made over, and fitted so well, and Elizabeth’s figure was so pretty, that it was really very becoming.

During this conversation, Melicent had taken off her hat, which was hanging on her arms, because the weather was very hot. She was a careless girl, and, not perceiving that it fell from her arm, she walked on, and stepped upon it. She was in sad trouble; her hat was crushed; she dared not go to the rural party with such a thing on her head.

One of the young lads of the party put it on his head, and all, except Elizabeth, laughed at the figure he made with it on. Melicent was vexed. Elizabeth, to comfort and to console her, told her that she thought the hat could be repaired. Melicent’s grief was changed to joy, and she begged her to try if she could do any thing to it. The girls all went into the house immediately, and went up stairs into the young lady’s room.

Elizabeth went to work; all wished to help her; one held the scissors, the other the pincushion; one cut the silk, and another thread-

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ed the needles. Elizabeth turned the silk lining, which had got soiled, arranged the frame, made up the bows anew, and in less than an hour it was as good as ever. Melicent even said that Elizabeth’s bow was prettier than the milliner’s.

The girls went down into the music-room; they played duets and sung songs. Elizabeth, without being urged, took her part: though for some time she had had no master, yet she had been so careful and attentive in practising by herself, that she was able to play very prettily.

After dinner, they went to dance upon the green. All the girls wanted to have Elizabeth for a partner, especially Melicent, who, in parting, embraced Elizabeth, called her her dear friend, and made her promise to write to her. Elizabeth was highly delighted, and Mrs. Hume was overjoyed to see her poor Elizabeth, who usually led so quiet a life, so much pleased.

After having told her mother the adventures of the day, Elizabeth added, “These young ladies have become much more amiable since the last year.”

“And your dress,” said Mrs. Hume, smil-

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ing, “has grown much prettier.” For Elizabeth, a long time since, had told her mother the vexations about her dress the last year.

“But,” said Elizabeth, “it was worse last year; the party was in Paris, and there were a great many people.”

“Suppose you should find yourself now in Paris, with the same people and the same dress; do you think the evening would be so painful?”

“It is very different now; they know me.”

“But, if they had known you the last year, do you think they would have valued you as highly as now; that they would have wished to dance with you, and that Melicent would have been so much pleased with your dress?”

“I do not think they would,” said Elizabeth, blushing. She felt that, if people had been pleased with her, it was because they began to esteem her. For we love to find ourselves in the company of persons who behave with propriety. When they are modest and gentle, every thing about them pleases us, and we praise many things of which we should take no notice in others.

“Do you think,” resumed Mrs. Hume,

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“that, if you found yourself now, with your calico dress, in the midst of fifty persons in full dress, this would make you as unhappy as you were the last year?”

“No,” replied Elizabeth, with some hesitation; for she felt that, even now, this would give her a little pain.

“Do not be afraid,” said her mother, smiling; “we have not often leisure or opportunity to find ourselves in large, full-dressed parties; but if, on occasion, we do find ourselves among persons more fashionably or expensively dressed than ourselves, we never need feel mortified, provided our own dress be neat, and suitable to our rank and occupation. We must take care to behave in such a manner that if, by chance, any one takes notice of our dress, they may have so much to say of our good conduct, that they will have no time to talk about dress.”

A short time after this visit, Mrs. Hume gained a lawsuit, which restored to her some of her former property. But Elizabeth still continued the same habits of activity which are always useful and pleasant in any station in life. She enjoyed more of the society and

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counsel of her mother, now that Mrs. Hume was relieved from the constant occupation in which she had found it necessary to be engaged.

Elizabeth and Melicent always continued good friends. Melicent left off laughing at people who were not well dressed; and, when Elizabeth told her the whole story of the party, Melicent wished to have a calico dress of precisely the same pattern as this one, which had been the means of making such a change in the character of her friend.

[p. 66]



Though Alice was fond of needle-work, and desired to improve every odd moment, which she could not employ to more advantage, in perfecting herself in the endless varieties of it, yet she felt that the period of her youth was a very important one for study, and her parents wished her to devote as much time as possible to intellectual pursuits.

While at school, her lessons had taken up a great deal of Alice’s time; but when her school days were over, she did not feel as if her education were done, but only that the early preparation for it was passed. She had begun to study Latin and some of the modern languages; but at school she had been able to read but few books, and she endeavored, after having left school, to keep up and increase her knowledge of these, by reading

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regularly a book in each of the languages she had been studying. If she had only time to read a few lines in each book every day, she thought it better to do that, than to neglect the study altogether. She either did this, or spent an hour in each day upon one language, taking up another the next. Young people learn languages with so much more ease than persons farther advanced in life, that it is very good economy of time to do all that can be done in this way as early as possible.

Alice had obtained from a good friend a list of books which were proper to form a course of reading in history. As tastes differ so much, among the wise, as to what books are the best to form this course, it is perhaps not well to give the one which directed Alice, as a guide to others. Every young person has, probably, some friend or instructor at hand, who is competent to advise to such a selection as if proper under the particular circumstances of her individual case.

It may be mentioned, however, that having first read a Universal History, and endeavored to fix in her mind a general idea

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of the course of events in the world, and the time when the most important ones took place, Alice read more full histories of particular periods. When she came to a time in the world’s affairs of great importance, she read, when she could obtain them, the lives of the distinguished persons who flourished at the same time, some of the poetry of the day, if there were any worthy of attention, and the historical romances of merit, founded upon the events of the time—taking care, however, to compare these with the real history, and find out how far the author was true, and how far he had drawn on his own imagination.

By a careful and judicious arrangement of her employments, and a diligent use of all her time, Alice was able to do more than some young ladies would think at all possible to be accomplished. She had read an instructing memoir of a very remarkable young lady, who died in England some years ago, who, by industry and application, succeeded in making very great acquirements for one of her years. A little abstract of the life of this young person may show girls of the present day how

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much may be done by a diligent use of all one’s opportunities. And though, perhaps, but few young ladies will feel a desire to exert their powers exactly in the way Miss Smith did, yet perhaps, by comparing what she accomplished with what they are actually doing themselves, they may be brought to think, that more might be sometimes done in their own case, if the effort to employ all their opportunities for improvement were conscientiously made.

Elizabeth Smith was born at Burnhall, near Durham, in England, in December, 1776. At a very early age she discovered that love of reading, and that close application to whatever she engaged in, which marked her character through life.

She was accustomed, when only three years old, to leave an elder brother and younger sister to play and amuse themselves, while she eagerly seized on such books as a nursery library commonly affords, and made herself mistress of their contents. At four years of age she read extremely well. What

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in others is usually the effect of education and habit, seemed born with her.

From a very early age, the utmost regularity was observable in all her actions; whatever she did was well done, and with an apparent reflection far above her years. Under the care of a young lady who was employed as governess in the family of her mother, and afterward under the direction of her mother, she pursued her studies with uncommon diligence, and very marked progress. She had early made great proficiency in music, and acquired from her governess some knowledge of the French and Italian languages. Excepting this assistance, which she did not have after the year 1786, her knowledge of the languages, which was very remarkable for one of her age, was the effect of her own unassisted study.

She wrote very well, both in prose and verse, when very young. At the age of thirteen she became a sort of governess to her younger sisters, and from this time, her mother says, the progress she made in acquiring languages, both ancient and modern,

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was very rapid. This degree of information, so unusual in a woman, occasioned no confusion in her well-regulated mind. She was a living library, but locked up except to a chosen few. The dread of being called a learned lady caused such an excess of modest reserve as, perhaps, formed the greatest defect in her character.

At the age of seventeen, her father met with a severe reverse of fortune. The bank with which he was connected failed, and he was obliged to give up his pleasant residence at Piercefield, and, for a time, his family were in a very unsettled state. Her mother says, in a letter respecting her, from which this account of her is in part drawn, that she does not recollect a single instance of a murmur having escaped her, or the least expression of regret for what she had lost; on the contrary, she always appeared contented, and seemed as if the place and mode of life in which she found herself situated were such as she preferred, and in which she was most happy.

Her father was afterwards an officer in the army, and his family accompanied him when he joined his regiment in Ireland. Here

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they all suffered great deprivation, and Elizabeth, more than all, felt the want of a library, the benefits of which she had always enjoyed. But through all the inconveniences which attended their situation, while living in barracks, the firmness and cheerful resignation of her mind, at the age of nineteen, were truly remarkable.

On one occasion they were obliged to travel in the rain, and reached the barracks dripping wet; their baggage had not yet come, and, owing to some accident, there was not even a bed to rest upon. The whole furniture of the apartment consisted of a piece of a cart-wheel for a fender, a bit of iron, probably from the same vehicle, for a poker, a dirty deal table, and three wooden-bottom chairs.

“It was the first time we had joined the regiment,” said her mother, “and I was standing by the fire, meditating on our forlorn state, and, perhaps, dwelling too much on the comforts I had lost, when I was roused from my reverie by Elizabeth, who exclaimed, ‘O, what a blessing!’ ‘Blessing!’ I replied; ‘there seems none left’

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‘Indeed there is, my dear mother; for see, here is a little cupboard.’ I dried my tears, and endeavored to learn fortitude from my daughter.”

Mrs. Smith often mentioned to her friends, in after times, the ingenuity, as well as good humor, with which Elizabeth contrived to make a currant tart in this uncomfortable dwelling, when it appeared quite impracticable. She was very expert in all household duties, and her biographer speaks of her great attention to economy, when circumstances made it proper. “No young lady dressed,” says she, “with more elegant simplicity, but none could do this at less expense. She made a gown, or a cap, or any other article of dress, with as much skill as she displayed in explaining a problem in Euclid, or a difficult passage in Hebrew; and nothing which she thought it right to do was ever neglected.”

Her acquirements must be allowed to have been wonderful; but her friends who were about her were most astonished at her having done so much, for she never appeared to do any thing, and every one who saw her

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would have been more apt to have supposed her indolent than industrious; but though her progress of improvement was silent as light, yet it was certain as time. In her knowledge she was as modest as in every thing else; never presuming to be wise on a discovery, or a judicious observation.

Always simple, sweet, and innocent in her demeanor, she never gave herself an air of consequence for genius, learning, or beauty, though she possessed them all. In company she kept back so much, that some would be in danger of forgetting she was there; but when called on to speak, she did it so much to the purpose, so pleasantly, and so unaffectedly, that one wished no one to speak but herself. Some might have supposed her of an absent cast, but nothing was farther from her character, for her replies were always ready when information was wanted. Her countenance was serious, but she frequently smiled, and it was the smile of complacency and peace.

At the age of seventeen, she passed some months with a friend with whom she entered on a regular course of reading in history,

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both ancient and modern. A part of the time was employed in studying Shakspeare, Milton, and some other english poets, as well as some of the Italian. With her friend she took frequently long walks, and often drew from nature. They read with great attention the whole of the New Testament, and several books on the subject of religion. In the evening they studied the stars, and read Bonnycastle’s Astronomy.

Elizabeth told her friend one evening that she did not understand what is said in Bonnycastle, page 91, of Kepler’s celebrated calculation, by which the squares of the periods of the planets are in proportion to the cubes of their distances. She wanted to know how to make use of this rule, but her friend confessed that she was not able to assist her.

When she came down to breakfast at nine the next morning, she found Miss Smith with a folio sheet of paper, almost covered with figures; and discovered that she rose as soon as it was light, and by means of Bonnycastle’s Arithmetic, had learned to extract the cube root, and had afterwards calculated the

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periods and distances of several planets, so as to show clearly the accuracy of Kepler’s rule, and the method of employing it.

About this time she engaged in the study of German, of which she was afterwards particularly fond. She also paid attention to the study of mathematics, and of botany. Her friend says, she does not know when she began to study Spanish, but at this period she read it without difficulty, and usually devoted some part of the time before breakfast, every day, to books in that language.

She acquired some knowledge of the Arabic and Persian languages during the following winter, when a very fine dictionary and grammar, in the possession of her brother, led her thoughts to Oriental literature. She began to study Latin and Greek in the year 1794, when she was visiting at the house of a friend who had an excellent library, and whose improving conversation opened to her an inexhaustible fund of information.

She studied Hebrew from the Bible, with the assistance of Parkhurst, but she had no regular instruction in any language but the French. Her love of Ossian led her to ac-

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quire some knowledge of the Erse language; but the want of books made it impossible for her to pursue that study as far as she wished.

In a letter to a friend, dated in 1793, she says, “My favorite study just now is Algebra; and I find by Saunderson, that if we had consulted proper books, we should never have spent so much time in measuring squares and circles; for though, by the means which we used, (which were perfectly right,) it may be brought inconceivably near, it is impossible to prove it mathematically correct.”

Her biographer says she was in the habit of writing down occasionally her thoughts; the following is an extract, from among many very interesting reflections, taken from a book dated 1796 and 1797:—

“Being now arrived at what is called years of discretion, and looking back on my past life with shame and confusion, when I recollect the many advantages I have had, and the bad use I have made of them, the hours I have squandered and the opportunities of improvement I have neglected—when I imagine what, with those advan-

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tages I ought to be, and find myself what I am—I am resolved to endeavor to be more careful for the future, if the future be granted me; to try to make amends for past negligence, by employing every moment I can command to some good purpose; to endeavor to acquire all the little knowledge that human nature is capable of on earth, but to let the word of God be my chief study, and all others subservient to it; to model myself, as far as I am able, according to the gospel of Christ; to be content while my trial lasts, and when it is finished to rejoice, trusting in the merits of my Redeemer. I have written these resolutions to stand as a witness against me, in case I should be inclined to forget them, and to return to my former indolence and thoughtlessness, because I have found the inutility of mental determinations. May God grant me strength to keep them.”

After having lived for a few years in Ireland, Miss Smith’s family established themselves on a farm which they purchased at Coniston, in Wales; here they resided during the remainder of the life of Elizabeth. She

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occasionally made visits to friends, and always took every advantage which these opportunities gave her of making use of libraries larger than the one she had access to at home.

In the year 1803, Mr. Sotheby, the translator of Oberon, expressed to Miss Bowdler, the friend of Miss Smith, a wish that her uncommon talents might be employed in something which would interest the public. He requested Miss Bowdler to ask Miss Smith to translate one of Gessner’s Idyls. She had never read it, and she had by her at the time no dictionary; but her friend told her that Mr. Sotheby had commended the poem highly, and she wished Elizabeth could make her understand it.

The next morning Miss Smith brought to her friend a translation of the Idyl, with which Mr. Sotheby was so much pleased that he encouraged her to engage in a work which afterwards took up much of her time and attention, and in which she took particular pleasure, until her last fatal illness put an end to her pursuits. This work was a translation of Letters and Memoirs re-

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lating to Klopstock, the celebrated German poet, and his wife.

But this occupation did not cause her to lay aside her other studies. She made translations from the Hebrew Bible, which were said, by competent judges, to give evidence of an extraordinary knowledge of the Hebrew language. She translated some chapters in Genesis, the whole of the book of Job, many of the Psalms, and some parts of the Prophets.

The following translation from a German poem by Matthison, will give some idea of her talent at translation and versification:—

When, in the last faint light of evening,

A smiling form glides softly by,

A gentle sigh its bosom heaving,

While thou in oaken grove dost lie,—

It is the spirit of thy friend,

Which whispers, “All thy cares shall end.”

When, in the mild moon’s peaceful twilight,

Foreboding thoughts and dreams arise,

And at the solemn hour of midnight,

Paint fairy scenes before thine eyes,

The poplars give a rustling sound,—

It is my spirit hovers round.

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When, deep in fields of ancient story,

Thou hang’st enraptured o’er the page

That gives and takes the meed of glory,

Feel’st thou a breath that fans thy rage?

And does the trembling lamp grow pale?

My spirit drinks with thine the tale.

Hear’st thou, when silver stars are shining,

A sound at Eol’s harp divine,

Now the wild wind’s full chords combining,

Now softly murmuring, “Ever thine”?

Then careless sleep!—to guard thy peace

My watchful spirit ne’er shall cease.

The family of Miss Smith had resided at Coniston for five years. Elizabeth was particularly fond of the place, and the air seemed to agree with her better than any other. But in July, 1805, her health began to fail; she was attacked by a cough, which finally proved fatal to her. She was for some months able to make occasional visits to her friends, and occupy herself in some degree with her favorite pursuits. She bore her illness with great fortitude, and was supported through it with a firm hope and an undying faith in the promises of Christianity; but at last she sunk under the fatal disease, and died on the 7th of August, 1806, at the age of twenty-nine years

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A more full account of this very remarkable and interesting young person may be found in a work called Fragments in Prose and Verse, by Miss Elizabeth Smith, with some Account of her Life and Character, by H. Bowdler.

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Alice loved the country very much, and enjoyed exceedingly the time she was able to pass there. She took an interest in every thing she saw, and tried to find out all she could about the animals and insects, the fruits and flowers, which fell in her way. When she walked out, she took care to have a light tin box with her, into which she could put any plant she might find, which she thought worth preserving; in this the plants would keep fresh until she got home. Then she examined the flowers she had found, and examined them by the help of Dr. Bigelow’s Plants of Boston, &c. She was much interested in the study of botany, and liked to find out all about every plant she picked up. Those which pleased her she generally preserved by drying. She would lay them, having carefully spread out each

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part of the flower, between two papers, of a coarse kind, which might soak up any moisture coming out of the plant, and having done this, the flower was placed under a weight. She examined and turned them frequently, putting in fresh papers on each side of the flower.

When the plant was quite dry, she fastened it with gum on a paper, writing by the side of it the class and order of the plant, its classical and common name, the place where she found it, and any little circumstance relating to it which she thought would be pleasant to her to remember. A book of dried plants, carefully prepared and arranged in this way, is very pretty, and the turning over its leaves often revives very pleasant associations.

The leaves of fruit-trees, gathered in the autumn, are very pretty to ornament vases through the winter. Alice always provided herself with a quantity of these when she visited the country at the proper season. Some of the sea-weeds which are found around the rocks on the sea-shore look very prettily, spread out on paper and dried; there

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is a considerable variety in the form and color of these plants. Alice formed quite a pretty collection of them, during a visit one summer to the sea-side. She took care to find out all she could about this kind of plant, for she was never satisfied until she had learned all she could about the objects of interest she met with.

One fine morning in the autumn, she rode out into the country, during one of her school vacations, to visit a young friend, who was one of her class-mates, and to whom she was tenderly attached.

This young person passed the school terms in town with an aunt, but her parents resided in the country; and it was a great pleasure to Alice to make her a visit. It was the season when pears and grapes were ripe, and the garden was that year very productive in these delicious fruits. Having walked about for some time, they seated themselves on the grass, and arranged a quantity of this delicious fruit in a basket which Alice’s friend was to take to a sick neighbor. They arranged them nicely in the basket, and

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could not help thinking they were almost too beautiful to be eaten.

After having sufficiently admired the fruit, they proceeded on their way to visit the neighbor for whose refreshment they were intended. She was a very lovely girl, of about the age of Alice and her young friend, who was suffering under some weakness of the spine, which made it necessary for her to lie, for the most of the time, on a couch.

She suffered at some times considerable pain, but she bore this and her confinement with great patience, and those who visited her were astonished to find her always cheerful, and almost always employed. She had found out a great many ways to occupy and amuse herself; she could read and draw, and do various kinds of fancy work, and her young friends were very fond of visiting and chatting with her, and doing all they could for her amusement.

Sophia—for this was the name of the lady—was very much pleased to see Alice and Mary, and delighted with the fine fruit they had brought her. They talked over their

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school affairs, for Sophia had been at the same school with the others, until her health prevented her leaving home. Sophia expressed her regret that she was no longer able to join them in their studies and their plays; but she said she hoped the time would not be entirely lost to her.

She told them she tried to occupy herself as usually as she could, and when she was not able to have her hands employed, she tried to turn her thoughts to subjects that would be profitable to her. She had a great deal of time for these reflections, and she hoped she should make good use of it.

She said she thought her own illness would teach her how to nurse others. She had taken so much comfort in the kind care that had been bestowed upon her, that she thought she should never forget, if her health should be restored, and she should be able to do any thing to soften the pains of sickness in another, the little attentions which she found so grateful and comforting to herself.

“Always be sure, girls,” said she, “if you are taking care of a sick friend, to move

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gently and quietly about the room, to shut the door softly in going in and out. Never speak or laugh very loud in a sick room, and if you are present when any dressing or operation is going on, do not express any pain or horror you may feel, but if you can be of any assistance, do what is to be done quietly and calmly, commanding your own feelings. If you cannot do this, you had better not stay in the room.

“But I would not,” continued she, “think you cannot bear to do any thing which it is necessary or proper for you to do, unless you have tried and failed. Many persons imagine they cannot see a person bled from a vein, or any other operation of the kind; but if they once force themselves to be present, and face it boldly, they will generally find it is not so great a matter as they supposed; and if a woman has no nervous weakness of this kind, she may often be of use, and will be more able to bear pain and illness, if it should come upon herself.”

The girls thought they should be glad to learn in some way to bear confinement as patiently and cheerfully as Sophia did. Alice

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said she had been learning to make gruel and broth, and all the articles of sick cooking, because her mother had told her that much of the comfort and safety of sick persons depended on having their food prepared in a nice and proper manner; and it was very desirable to know how to make a variety of those light and nourishing articles which are safe for invalids to eat. Sophia said, no one but a person who had suffered from sickness could tell how great a comfort it was to have a person, for a nurse, who knew exactly what was proper to be done in a sickroom—who was always ready to read aloud when it was wanted, and did it with a gentle, low voice; and who, by watching the patient, could tell her feelings, and leave off talking or reading just at the right moment.

She said a nurse should always avoid talking with her patient about her illness more than was necessary, but should rather turn the thoughts of the invalid to something different, and which would make her forget her pains: a sprightly, cheerful tone does a great deal to charm away the pains of sickness.

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It is a fault, on the other hand, to seem to think lightly of the sufferings of the patient, even for the purpose of encouragement. The nurse should lend a most sympathizing ear to every thing the patient has to complain of, bringing forward in reply, however, whatever there is encouraging in the case, and turning the subject to something diverting, as soon as possible.

The girls sat and chatted for some time longer, and Sophia showed them how to do a new kind of knitting, of a more complicated stitch than is commonly practised. Sophia had found great amusement in consulting some of the numerous manuals for knitting and needle-work which have been recently published. She found it is quite a pleasant occupation to take the materials, and, carefully following out the directions of the book, see the new fabric grow in her hands. Sophia was furnished with all the materials and instruments for trying these experiments; and the weary hours of pain were shortened, and her mind made quiet and easy, by a resort to these occupations. She desired the girls often to come over and see

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her, and join her in her quiet employments, which they gladly promised to do.

Alice and Mary then took leave of their sick friend, and, on the way home, they could speak of nothing else but Sophia, the patience with which she bore her sufferings, and the exertions she made to turn her confinement to a good account. They could not but express their gratitude to God, that they had the use of their limbs, and were strong and vigorous; that they could enjoy the fine weather, and the beautiful scenery of the country. And they agreed that it was very wrong in any one who has good health and strong limbs, and can run, and walk, and go freely about, to complain of any trifling inconvenience or little disappointments.

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During the absence of Alice from home, she had frequent occasion to write letters to her family. She had been accustomed from a child to the use of her pen, and she was very careful always to have her materials for writing in good order. She had a portfolio well furnished with blotting-paper, and the various sizes and kinds of paper which she would be likely to need. Her pens and pen-stick were always where she could find them. She had sealing-wax at hand, and a little box with tapers which she could light to seal her letters with. These, with a well-closed ink-stand, she always took with her when she went from home, that she need not have to trouble the friend with whom she was staying for materials for writing.

Many young persons think it requires a great effort to write composition, as it is called, even

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if this composition is in the form of a letter to the friends they love best, and with whom, when they are present, they never have any difficulty in finding subjects of conversation.

But Alice never thought of doing any great thing when she sat down to write a letter. She attempted merely to write, in the most simple and familiar language, an account of what she had been doing or saying, or of her thoughts and feelings, exactly as she would express the same things in words, if she were present with her friends. Perhaps a copy of one of her letters may serve as a model for some young persons who are not very familiar with letter-writing, at the same time that it may make them acquainted with the manner Alice passed her time while on her visit in the country.

In the morning, when she found the friends with whom she was staying were engaged in household affairs, and when, having offered her services, they had told her there was nothing in which she could assist them, she retired to her room to write a letter. She folded the paper carefully, looking to see that the stamp was at the top. As she had not yet become

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so experienced in writing as to dispense with ruled lines, she placed the lines even, taking care that the one at the top or bottom was perfectly even with the paper on which she was to write; she placed the date within about six lines from the top, on the right hand, taking care to name the place from which she was writing, the day of the month, and the year. Having done this, she proceeded as follows, beginning a few lines below, on the left hand of the paper, and leaving a little blank margin on each side:—

—, Sept. 10, 18—.

Dear Sister Ann: I wrote to mother on my first arrival at this place, and told her about my journey, and the state of health in which I found our friends here. As my aunt and Mary are busy, I take the opportunity to give you some further account of what I have been doing.

“On Saturday afternoon, my uncle and aunt, with Mary and myself, took a delightful drive up the noble river, near which, as you know, my uncle’s house is situated. The weather was warm and pleasant, and the

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road on which we were riding kept along within sight of the river almost the whole of the way. The road was very smooth and even; and, as we were in a barouche with the top thrown back, we had a fine chance to see every thing about us; a great many little boats were to be seen on the river, and one raft made of timbers lashed together, with a few persons to steer and manage it, came floating along down the stream. My uncle said, that this was not the season of the year when the rafts were to be seen on the rivers in the greatest numbers; that, in the winter season, the people who live far up in the thickly-wooded country cut down great numbers of trees, and saw and make them into timber, boards, laths, and building materials of all kinds.

“When the snow is on the ground, they draw the trees, after they have been cut down, on sleds to the mills, where they are sawed, and then to the banks of the river. They then build them into these large rafts, which will float upon the water; they are very long and broad, and look like a large floating bridge. In the middle of the raft is fre-

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quently placed a little house, with a chimney, where the persons having charge of the timber cook and sleep. As soon as the ice melts in the river, the rafts are launched, and in the spring the river is covered, my uncle says, with these strange-looking floats. If they are in want of provisions, or any thing else, they can push their rafts in to the shore wherever they please, and supply their wants. They float on in this manner, day after day, till they reach a place where they can sell their timber, when they draw their raft to the land, pull it to pieces, and sell the boards, of which it has been made up, to any one who wants them.

“After we had ridden for some time, and seen a great many beautiful spots, we reached a pretty little house, surrounded on three sides by high, wooded hills, but opening on the south on a fine, smooth lawn, which extended down to the river. Here we were to make a visit.

“We were very kindly received by my aunt’s friends. The house was as neat and pleasant within as without. The grounds about it were beautifully arranged, and ornamented with almost every kind of flower and

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shrub. But though we were very kindly received by the lady of the house, and she did all she could to make our visit pleasant, yet there seemed to be an air of sadness about her face, of which, at first, I could not imagine the cause. I afterwards thought I had discovered it.

“When the older people were engaged in conversation, Mary and I strolled out, as we had received permission to do, to look at the grounds. We had strayed along by the bank of a little brook, which came down from the hill above, and watered a part of the garden, when we heard a cry as of a child in trouble. We passed round a hedge, which was between us and the spot from which the voice seemed to proceed, when we discovered a little boy of about six years, apparently attempting to cross the brook, and at the same time trying to lift over a little girl almost as large as himself. He was wading through the brook, which was a yard or two in breadth at this spot, as if he were used to it, but the little girl seemed very much afraid to trust herself to the passage of the water with such a small conductor.

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“We called to the boy, and begged him to put the little girl down on the grass, but he paid no attention to our request; at the same moment a woman appeared from another path, who proved to be the nursery-maid. She proceeded to the brook, and rescued the little girl from her perilous situation. I was surprised that she said nothing to the little boy, but, looking more attentively, I discovered that she made signs to him, and, after he had jumped from the water to the bank, and we had come nearer to the little group, we discovered that the poor little fellow was deaf and dumb.

“The little girl had now got over her fears, and she explained the cause of the difficulty. The little boy was the only son of the lady we were visiting. The little girl was the child of one of the neighbors. They were playing in the grounds, and while the nurse, who was in attendance upon them, had gone, for a moment, in another direction, the children had run down towards the brook. The little boy, who had often pulled off his shoes and ran across the brook, which, though broad, was not deep at this place, made preparations for

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doing the same thing now. He made signs to the little girl to follow his example, which she did not understand; when, finding he could not persuade her to do what he wished, he seized her up in his arms, and tried to carry her over. At this period of the affair, the little girl cried out as loud as she could, and we came to her assistance in the manner I have told you.

“We soon returned to the house, accompanied by the children. The mother of the little boy could only converse with him by signs; and though he appeared to understand her very readily, yet it seemed so silent and sad for a joyous little child to have no other manner of telling his wants and his feelings, that I perfectly understood the cause of his poor mother’s sad expression of countenance.

“After having taken some refreshment, we got into the carriage to return home. It was now near sunset, and the reflection of the sun in the still water of the river was very beautiful. On our way home, we told my uncle and aunt of the little scene we had witnessed in the garden. The conversation then turned

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upon the discoveries which had been made of methods of imparting instruction to the deaf and dumb. My aunt had visited the institution of the deaf and dumb at Hartford, and she surprised us with the accounts she gave us of the intelligence of some of the pupils, and of the progress they had made in the different branches of education.

“She also told us of Laura Bridgman, the little girl who is at the blind institution at South Boston, and who is deaf, and dumb, and blind. The ease with which she can make persons understand what she wishes to communicate, and also let them know her own answers, is truly wonderful. When we came home, my uncle read us, from a work lately published, an account of a new method of teaching the deaf and dumb to speak. After this, my aunt told us a story of a deaf and dumb brother and sister, who used to quarrel in a way peculiar to themselves.

“But I have made my letter so long that I must defer telling you the new method of teaching, and my aunt’s story, until I see you.

“We went to church on Sunday, and listened to good Mr. Irvine, whom I always love

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to hear preach. The day was fine, and every thing was so still and quiet, and the air smelt so sweet, that we enjoyed our walk home after the service greatly. The little birds seemed to sing more sweetly and melodiously, as if they were singing to praise God, and not merely to cheer their week-day labors.

“I hope, my dear Ann, you will write me an answer to this long letter, and tell me about all you are doing at home. Although I am having a nice time here, yet I shall be quite ready to return home whenever our mother wishes me to do so. Pray give my love to all the family at home, and accept a great deal from your loving sister,


Alice then doubled her letter very carefully, and directed it, taking care that the direction should be so placed as not to be upside-down when it should be held in the hand to have the seal broken. She had the sealing-wax, and the seal she was to make use of, all ready before she lighted her taper. She then heated the wax, and put a small quantity

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underneath the part of the letter which was folded down near the middle of it, and then pressed the upper fold firmly over the wax. She next applied the wax to the taper, and, when a considerable quantity was melted, rubbed it deliberately round on the part of the letter she had joined. She then laid the wax aside; and having ascertained that the seal was not bottom-upwards, she applied it firmly to the wax, and allowed it to remain until the wax had cooled. A seal is often spoiled in its appearance from being made in too great haste. The wax continues soft long enough to allow the remainder of the stick to be laid aside, and the seal taken up and pressed upon it without any hurrying. For a direction, she wrote, in a fair hand, the name of her father, to whose care the letter was addressed, the name of the town to which it was to go on the line below her father’s name, and the name of the state in a line below that of the town. The initials of her sister’s name were placed in the corner, on the left hand of the letter. She had before inquired the hour when the mail would close, and she took care to put her letter

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into the hands of the person who was to take it to the post-office two or three hours before the time, that, in the hurry of a last moment, it might not be forgotten or neglected.

Alice found herself very much interested in the account, alluded to in her letter, of the method which has been recently discovered, by which the deaf and dumb can be taught to make articulate sounds, and communicate their ideas in words. The process consists in teaching the child to imitate exactly the motions of the tongue and throat of a person who can speak. The account which Alice heard read explains at length this process, and the author describes some of the results of it in the following words:—

“I have often heard pupils, in the deaf and dumb schools in Prussia and Saxony, read with more distinctness of articulation and appropriateness of expression than is done by some of the children in our own schools who possess perfect organs of speech, and a complement of the senses. Nay, so successful are the teachers, that, in some instances, they overcome, in a good degree, difficulties arising from a deficiency or mal-

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formation of the organs themselves,—such as the loss of front teeth, the tied-tongue, and so forth. In some of the cities which I visited, the pupils who had gone through with a course of instruction at the deaf and dumb school were employed as artisans or mechanics, earning a competent livelihood, mingling with other men, and speaking and conversing like them. In the city of Berlin, there was a deaf and dumb man, named Habermaass, who was so famed for his correct speaking, that strangers used to call and see him. These he would meet at the door, conduct into the house, and enjoy their surprise when he told them that he was Habermaass. A clergyman of high standing and character, whose acquaintance I formed in Holland, told me that, when he was one of the religious instructors of the deaf and dumb school at Groningen, he took a foreign friend one day to visit it; and when they had gone through the school, his friend observed, that that school was very well, but that it was the deaf and dumb school which he had wished to see.

“Were it not for the extraordinary case of

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Laura Bridgman,—which has compelled assent to what would formerly have been regarded as a fiction or a miracle,—I should hardly venture to copy an account of the two following cases from the work of Mr. Moritz Hill, the accomplished instructor of the deaf and dumb school at Weissenfels. they refer to the susceptibility of cultivation of the sense of touch, which he asserts to be generally very acute in the deaf and dumb. The importance of this will be readily appreciated when we consider how essential light is to the power of reading language upon the lips and the muscles of the face. In darkness, the deaf and dumb are again cut off from that intercourse with humanity which has been given to them by this beneficent instruction. Mr. Hill gives an account of a girl whose facility in reading from the lips was so remarkable, that she could read at a great distance, by an artificial light, and even with very little light. She was found to be in the habit of conversing, in the night, with a maid-servant, after the light was extinguished. And this was done only by placing her hand upon the naked breast of her companion. The

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other case was that of a boy who could read the lips by placing his hand upon them in the dark, in the same way that Laura reads the motions of another’s fingers in the hollow of her own hand.”

When Alice returned home, her sister desired her to tell them the story of Deaf and Dumb Quarrelling, to which she had alluded in her letter. Ann thought that the disputes of the deaf and dumb would, at least, have the advantage over speaking quarrels, that they would not disturb other people. Alice related, as well as she could recollect, her aunt’s story, which was something like this:—


There was once a brother and sister, who were named Walter and Mindwell, who lived in Boston, in the northern section of the city, which was the part first settled. Some persons have pointed out the very house, which is now standing; but it is not worth while to tell which it was: young people will like the story just as well without knowing that fact,

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and it is not best to gratify an idle curiosity. Well, they lived at the North End somewhere, and they were about fourteen and sixteen years old, when the war which finished by establishing the independence of the United States of America began. Now, though this was a war, it ought not to be considered a quarrel. It was not like the fight of two boys who are merely struggling to see which will prove himself the strongest, but it was the last defence of a weaker boy, who, having been oppressed and tormented by one much stronger and older as long as he can possibly bear it, at last, when he has used all milder measures to make his persecutor desist from his tyranny, arouses all his powers, and makes such a vigorous resistance that the older and stronger combatant is obliged to retire from the field, and leave the young hero in peace. America may be considered as the small and weak, but resolute boy,—Great Britain, the older and stouter one, who was too apt to be a little overbearing.

The father and mother of Walter and Mindwell had left England when they were

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first married, a few years before the revolutionary struggle began. Mrs. Erskine, though she had learned to feel at home in the new land whither she had come with her ore enthusiastic and liberty-loving husband, still looked back sometimes with regret to the land where she was born. She remembered the loyal pleasure she used to feel when, on occasion of some public ceremony, she had obtained a sight of King George and his stately spouse; and she kept their pictures, carefully preserved and neatly dusted, always hanging in her best parlor.

Walter, who was a boy of a somewhat feeble constitution and delicate health, had spent much of his time with his mother, and, from the conversations he had had with her in signs, he had learned about this distant country, and he had also come to honor this king and queen, of whom he had been taught so much; he had a particular reverence, too, for their pictures, and would sit for an hour at a time looking at them, and wishing he had lived in that far-off home of his mother’s early days, with which she had known how to make him acquainted.

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His sister, Mindwell, on the contrary, was a stout, vigorous girl, who had always enjoyed good health, and been much less confined to the house than her brother. Mr. Erskine early took the side of the Americans in the dispute, and thought much less of the glories of the country the other side of the water, than of the vexations and sufferings of his fellow-colonists on this. Mindwell sympathized with her father, and he had contrived to make her know the grievances under which the colonists had labored—how the government in England made them pay vexatious taxes, without letting them have a word to say as to how the tax-money should be spent; so that, at last, Mindwell, deaf and dumb as she was, came to be a smart little liberty girl, or whig, as that party was then called, while the more gentle Walter was, in his own quiet way, a pretty decided tory.

Now, this brother and sister, though they loved each other, and were generally kind and pleasant to each other, sometimes could not help getting a little excited about the matter which interested every body so much. They could not talk; they loved each other

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too much to push and hurt one another; but Mindwell, when she found herself alone in her mother’s best parlor, sometimes would look up to the pictures of the old king and queen in their royal robes, and she would think, “What right have you, old lady and gentleman, to say we shall not drink a cup of tea without paying you for it?”—and then would jump up into one of the high-backed leather chairs, and turn the pictures round as they hung on the wall, so that nothing could be seen but the plain board that formed the back of the picture, and kept it from tumbling out of the frame. She would then run off, and laugh, and jump, and be so merry, and look so roguishly round towards the room she had left, that Walter could not help going into it, to see what had happened there. How great would be his amazement and horror to see the pictures he so much admired treated in such a manner! His first act would be to jump up in the chair and turn them back again; Mindwell would perhaps follow him into the room to see the effect of her proceedings; and the story goes, that one would turn them one way, and the

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other turn them back, so often that, if their mother had not happened to pass by, and discover the quarrel, and put an end to it, poor King George and Queen Charlotte would have been broken all to pieces in the quarrel—and this was the DEAF AND DUMB QUARRELLING.

But the war at last came to an end. The United States became an independent nation. Mrs. Erskine and Walter learned to love their new country better than they ever did the old one. But Mr. Erskine, for some reason, began to think that the pictures of the old king and queen were a little out of fashion; and when he made his wife a present of a new carpet and set of chairs for her best room, he gently proposed that a handsome new portrait of General Washington, and another of Lafayette, should take the place of [t]he old pictures.

Mrs. Erskine was too good a wife to oppose her husband’s wishes, and the old pictures were quietly removed to Walter’s apartment, where they were hung up and treated with all due reverence; and Mindwell had grown too sensible to allow herself to quarrel

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with her brother even in their own peculiar way. The pictures were never again turned round, except to gratify the curiosity of some of the descendants of the family, who wished to discover the name of the painter and the year in which the work was executed.

[p. 113]



Alice was always glad of any hints on the subject of good manners, and felt very much obliged to any kind friend who told her of an awkward and disagreeable habit or motion which might have been observed in her; and, instead of feeling vexed or hurt, if she were spoken to about it, tried all in her power to correct it.

She had a blank book, in which she was in the habit of writing down, occasionally, extracts from books, the reading of which had given her particular pleasure, or from the advice contained in which she thought she might derive any advantage.

She had made some extracts from a French work on politeness; and, as the French are considered a very polite nation, these maxims may be thought valuable by

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the young, who are desirous to form their manners after the best models.


1. “One of the marks of politeness is to show an interest in what concerns those about us. When we see that they have need of our assistance, we should make haste to offer it. But no one has a right to show an importunate curiosity respecting what belongs to his neighbor.

2. “A polite person is always affable and gracious, even when it is not in his power to be liberal. From hence come those delicate attentions, the care to soften a refusal, and to prove that the refusal is painful—that manner of obliging which is preferable to the favor itself.

3. “If a fault of manner is committed in the presence of a well-bred person, he feigns not to perceive it, or he hastens, with delicacy, to inform the person who has committed it, that he may not suffer any bad consequences which might follow his mistake.

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4. “Good manners are formed from observation and habit. Observation renders us attentive to the usages of society; habit renders them familiar and natural to us.

5. “The young should be modest; listen much and speak but little. But they should also be warned against a too great reserve. An obstinate silence, a want of interest which repulses every advance, may give an unfavorable impression of a young person, if it is long persevered in.

6. “Whatever be the subject of conversation, give your opinion, if you have occasion, with modesty, and defend it coolly and in a gentle tone, if it is disputed. Yield with a good grace, if you are in the wrong. Yield, if you are in the right, if the thing is of little importance, especially if the person is older than yourself.

7. “If the love of truth, or a desire to obtain information, forces you to engage in a discussion, do it with care and politeness. If you do not bring the person with whom you are conversing to your own way of thinking, you will at least conciliate his esteem by your propriety of manner.

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8. “The tone of voice should never be too loud. We speak to be heard, and not to deafen those who hear us. Never interrupt any one who is speaking; it is a gross impropriety.

9. “We are wanting in the rules of politeness, when we speak in a too low tone, or whisper to those who are near us, or make secret signs, not understood by the rest of the company, to any one at a distance.

10. “A person of delicacy will always avoid slander. No one loves a slanderer; she is feared and avoided.

11. “Gracefulness is a free and regular movement of the limbs; making us act, in every thing, freely and without restraint; causing us to avoid all postures which are not proper to our forms and the design of our organs.

12. “Care should be taken of the position when seated, when walking, or standing; the motions of the arms, of the feet and hands, ought also to be attended to. A lazy air, or a rude and awkward manner, is equally opposed to grace.

13. “If a person begins to you a narra-

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tive, or a history, or an anecdote, which you already know, allow him to finish what he has begun, and do not in any way divert the attention of those who are listening. If your opinion is asked, give it simply, and without wishing to appear better informed than the narrator himself. You ought not to deprive a person, who wishes to amuse or instruct, of the pleasure of thinking he has succeeded.

14. “Nothing is more contrary to good manners, than to interrupt a person who is speaking, to explain any circumstances, or to repeat the name of a person. When an explanation is necessary, either for yourself or others, you must watch for the moment when you can make it without interrupting the narrator.

“Visits of ceremony should be short. If the conversation is interrupted, or a new party of visitors arrive, a good opportunity is offered to take leave and retire.

16. “If you have received an invitation to a party, ball, a concert, or soiree, you should, in the course of a week after, pay

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a visit to the persons who have shown you this attention.

17. “It is an indiscreet curiosity, if not an indecency, to amuse one’s self in reading papers or open letters, which are found lying on the table or chimney of an apartment where you are visiting.

18. “Do not think so much of having brilliant manners, as to have them simple, natural, and modest.

19. “Never try to shine at the expense of good sense, and seek, in all you do and say, only the charms which are not contrary to wisdom and honesty.

20. “Never expose yourself to the confusion of laughing alone among persons who have reasons for being serious. Never be the first to laugh at what you have yourself said, for fear that you prevent others from laughing after you, or furnish them with an occasion to laugh at you, if your laugh has been without sufficient cause.

21. “Do not spoil any good qualities you may have, by the affectation of those you have not.

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22. “Let modesty, with good sense and taste, preside over your dress. Think less of being expensively dressed, than of having your clothes properly arranged; and especially avoid the vain ambition of being dressed like others whom you resemble in nothing else, lest it should make you forget the air which nature has given you, while striving to conform to the manner of another.

23. “The gait of a lady should neither be too quick nor too slow. The most easy and convenient pace is that which gives the least fatigue and is most pleasing. The body and head should be held erect, without affectation or haughtiness, and the motions, especially those of the arms, should be easy and natural. The look should be gentle and modest.

24. “We must not wish to pry into the secrets of others respecting things with which we have nothing to do, still less should we reveal the secrets of a friend; for this is to dispose of property which is not our own; it is to abuse a confidence.

25. “Avoid too great flow of words,

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a slowness or a precipitation in speaking, a high and severe tone, frivolous recitals, too frequent or too long stories, explanations, details, digressions, a multiplicity of examples, and especially of compliments; all this is tiresome, and in no wise amusing.

26. “Let the desire you have to speak always yield to the desire which is expressed to hear you.

27. “Be careful not to exaggerate. If you get the habit of so doing, you will become insupportably ridiculous. As you will be accustomed to speak without measure of small things, you will have no expressions left for those which are more important.

28. “Be as much on your guard against the good which is said of you, as against the ill that may be done you.

29. “Think much in the first place; you will express yourself better for it afterward. As true politeness consists more in sentiments than in manners, it also generally consists more in thoughts than in expressions.

30. “There are three sorts of persons of which it is proper to speak but rarely—of one’s self, of those who are present, and

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of those of whom we have occasion to complain.

31. “Study to find occupation conformable to your duty and situation; you will be more happy for it. There are no persons who find so much trouble, even in little things, as those who are unwilling to take any.

32. “To do the honors of one’s house, requires great evenness of temper, and a very obliging disposition. Forget yourself to take care of others, but without any agitation or affectation. Encourage the timid, and put them at ease; keep up the conversation, directing it with address rather than sustaining it one’s self. The mistress of a house should be obliging, equal, attentive, yielding to the particular habits of each, appearing pleased to receive every one, and making every one enjoy entire liberty.

33. “Never try to discover a bad intention in a good action.

34. “Take care that resentment never prevents you from doing justice to those of whom you complain, or that your vanity

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does not make you bestow it upon them with too much affectation.

35. “Let your temper never lead your reason, but always make your reason govern your temper.

36. “Good breeding requires that one should conform to his age, his sect, profession, place, and the rank he holds in society.

37. “Virtue and honesty spread over all our actions an air of propriety, which causes us always to be believed.

38. “The good manners, which spring from the heart, reign not only in our words and in our actions, but yet in our conduct, and even in our silence.

39. “False politeness hides the feelings which we have, in order to show those we have not.

40. “The great secret of not failing in the rules of good breeding, is always to intend to do right. The good which is done in this disposition of mind, is of an incomparable value; and the wrong which may be inadvertently committed, has seldom any very serious consequences.

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41. “Those who carry into society the pretension of causing themselves to be remarked and producing an effect, can never appear amiable, even if they have great talents. They must always be tiresome, and often ridiculous.”

We must now take our leave of the Well-Bred Girl. These few pages can give but a faint idea of what a perfectly well-educated young person may be, and what she may perform. But they may furnish some hints, which will not be altogether useless to those who are really desirous of improving all their powers of body and mind, to the best advantage, and of performing all their duties in the most pleasant and graceful manner.

Alice will probably still go on improving herself, and increasing her usefulness. She will find so much to do in her father’s house, and in finishing her education, that she will spend but little time in thinking whether she will ever have a house of her

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own, or who will be likely to share it with her. But, with the care she is now taking to improve her time and talents, she cannot fail to fill with credit and honor to herself, and pleasure and profit to those about her, whatever situation she may be placed in.

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