« PreviousContinue »
upon them, and seized their territories, woich they had long ruled with a rod of iron. But this did not happen till they had fulfilled the designs of Providence, and performed what the all-wise Governor of the world had appointed. This is beautifully expressed by the prophet Daniel, when he represents the great king Nebuchadnezzar saying, “ He doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth, and none can stay his hand.” After you have perused the Roman classics, you will be greatly assisted by reading Mr. Hook's and Dr. Goldsmith's histories of that celebrated republic.
The next part of history which claims your attention, is the constitution, manners, and laws of those nations who overthrew the Roman empire, and established sovereignty on its ruins.
In order to form a right notion of America, it will be necessary to consider the state of navigation before Columbus lived. In forming a right judge ment of those things, it will be necessary to peruse the best authors of voyages and travels, &c. For that reason you must have recourse to a judicious system of Geography, where every thing necessary to be known is inserted.
Last of all, concerning biography, I answer, that it is a part of history, and likewise ought to be studied ; but not till you have read the accounts of nations in general. General history presents us with a view
of the public conduct of great men. The one presents us with a representation of things in general, the other leads us into a minute detail of particulars. Thus, Sir, I have laid before you the same plan which I used myself when I first un. dertook the study of history. You will find this method as beneficial as any yet pointed out by the
niost learned, in either ancient or modern times. I shall leave the whole to your consideration, and doubt not but you will improve it to your own advantage. I am, dear sir, your affectionate well-wisher.
LETTER CXIII. From a young Woman, to a Lady, with whom she
had formerly lived as a Companion. Madam,—The precipitate manner in which I left your family, may seem inconsistent with the great tenderness you always treated me with. move, therefore, every imputation of ingratitude, I embrace this first opportunity of appearing in my own vindication, although for your sake, I am sorry to descend to particulars, especially to mention
But my reputation, which is dearer to me than life itself, is at stake, and as a woman, I doubt not but you will bear with me.
When I first came into your service, I was determined to act in such a manner as not to give any offence to the meanest of your domestics ; well knowing good nature and affability always procure respect; and I appeal to every person of your family, whether my conduct was not consistent with my plan. In this manner I remained, enjoying an uninterrupted state of felicity for some time. I obeyed your commands with alacrity, and even servitude became a pleasure. But this was too happy a state to last long without interruption.-But I scarce know how to proceed. Whilst I am vindicating my own conduct to my most generous benefactress, I am obliged to impeach that of her dearest and most beloved relation.
When your son, Sir George, returned from the university, where he had been finishing his studies, I had no thoughts that he would ever have made any attempt on my virtue. But alas! I was wretchedly deceived. He had only been a few days at home, when he laid hold of every opportunity of being in my company. At first I did not take any notice, as I had not the least suspicion of his intentions. But I was soon convinced of my error, when he told me that, in consequence of prostituting myself to his unlawful pleasures, he would make me a handsome settlement. This, madam, was a strong temptation, but blessed be God who preserved me innocent. You have often told me, that young women ought to flee from every appearance of sin; and if so, how great was my necessity of avoiding the evil! Had I laid snares to entrap your son for a husband, it might have destroyed your own peace of mind, and been considered as a dishonour to your family. Had I submitted to his unlawful desires, I should have forfeited every title to respect in the world, and highly offended that God who has graciously preserved me hitherto. He became more and more assiduous, till, for his, for yours, and for my own sake, I was obliged to retire in as silent a manner as possible. I am now at the house of a distant relation in Millbank, who takes in plain work, where I hope your ladyship will be pleased to send my clothes. With respect to wages, you know I always left that to your own discretion, and your humanity exceeded my utmost expectations. Therefore I again leave that matter to yourself. Let me beg, that if you mention this unhappy affair to the young gentleman, it may be with yonr usual tenderness. I would willingly impute his folly to the irregularities of youthful passion, rather than to any premeditated scheme. And I doubt not when reason resumes her throne in his heart, he will be sorry that ever he attempted to ruin one who was scarce worthy of his notice.--I am, madam, with gratitude and respect,
Your affectionate well-wisher.
The Lady's Answer. Dear Betty,-Whilst I lament the conduct of my unhappy child, I lift up my eyes with thankfulness to that gracious Being who has preserved you from ruin. You was left an orphan under my care ; and when I first took you into my family, it was with a design to promote your interest, Blessed be God that the precepts which I endeavoured to instil into your tender mind, have so far operated on your con. duct. Your behaviour in that unhappy affair ouglit to be laid down as a pattern for all young women to copy after, if they would either be respected in this world, or enjoy happiness in the next. I have just been reading your letter to my son, and he was filled with the utmost shame and confusion. The truth of your narrative forced his conscience to make a genuine confession of his guilt ! and unless I judge with the partiality of a mother, he is really a sincere penitent. I laid open to him the nature of his crime, and its aggravating circumstances, arising from the obligations which his elevated rank subjected him to, to be an example of virtue to those in a lower sphere of life. I told him, that liowever trifling such actions might appear in the eyes of his graceless companions, yet there was a God who beheld his inmost thoughts, and would reward or punish him according to his merits. He declares himself fully sensible of his folly, and says he is determined never to attempt any such thing for the future. The bearer will deliver your clothes, to
gether with a bank bill for an hundred pounds. Be assured of my constant assistance : and may that God who has preserved you in such imminent dangers, be your continual comfort in time and in eternity!
I am, your sincere well-wisher.
LETTER CXV. From a Gentleman on his Travels abroad, to his
Friend in London, on arbitrary power and Popish superstition.
Dear Sir,-It is now above two years since I left England ; and if I have not been pleased, I have had at least many opportunities of acquiring knowledge. You know when we parted I told you my principal design was to enquire whether the subjects of those countries through which I was to pass, were more happy, in respect to their lives and enjoyment of their property, than those of Great Britain ? or, second, whether virtue was more conspicuous in the conduct of those people than in our own at home? With respect to the first, I need not hesitate one moment in declaring, that the meanest subject in England, or any part of the British dominions, enjoys more real liberty than a Spa. nish grandee, or a peer of France. But what I have chiefly in view, is the case of the middling and lower ranks of the people.
You are well acquainted with the forms of process in the English courts, both in criminal and civil causes.
All matters of law are determined in open court by the judges, who are responsible for their conduct to the people ; and all facts are determined by the verdict of twelve men, strangers to both parties, and hindered from speaking with any person during the trial. How different is the case here and in other countries through which I