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The next morning I resumed my journey northwards, and on the fourth day I reached the seat of my ancestors. The distant view of the Priory excited strong but mingled emotions in my bosom. The tender sorrow for the loss of the beloved society'I had once enjoyed under its roof, was a salutary check to the abundant joy arising from the anticipation of the blessings which awaited me there. My mind was divided between the two conflicting sentiments, that I was soon to be in possession of every material for the highest happiness, and that the highest happiness is short | May I ever live under the influence of that act of devout gratitude, in which, as soon as I entered the house, I dedicated the whole of my future life to its divine Author, solemnly consecrating to his service, my time, my talents, my fortune ; all I am and all I have - - - - . I next wrote to Lucilla, with whom I continue to maintain a regular and animated correspondence. Her letters gratify my taste, and delight my heart, while they excite me to every thing that is good. This interchange of sentiment sheds a ray of brightness on a separation which every day is diminishing. Mr. Stanley also has the goodness to write to me frequently. In one of my letters to him, I ventured to ask him how he had managed to produce in his daughter such complete satisfaction in his sober and correct habits of life ; adding, that her conformity was so cheerful that it did not look so much like acquiescence as choice.
I received from Mr. Stanley the answer which follows.
Stanley Grove, Sept. 1808.
“My dear Charles,
“As I wish to put you in possession of whatever relates to the mind of Lucilla, I will devote this letter to answer your enquiries respecting her cheerful conformity to what you call our ‘sober habits of life;’ and her indifference to those pleasures which are usually thought to constitute the sole happiness of young women of a certain rank.
“Mrs. Stanley and I are not so unacquainted with human nature, as to have pretended to impose on her understanding, by attempting to breed her up in entire ignorance of the world, or in perfect seclusion from it. She often accompanied us to town for a short time. The occasional sight of London, and the frequent enjoyment of the best society, dissipated the illusions of fancy. The bright colours with which young imagination, inflamed by ignorance, report and curiosity, invests unknown and distant objects, faded under actual observation. Complete ignorance and complete seclusion form no security from the dangers
incident to the world, or for correct conduct at a dis
tance from it. Ignorance may be the safety of an ideot, and seclusion the security of a nun. Christian parents should act on a more large and liberal principle, or what is the use of observation and experience? The French women of fashion, under the old regime, were bred in convents, and what women were ever more licentious than many of them, as soon as marriage had set them at liberty 2
“I am persuaded that the best intended formation ef character, if founded on ignorance or deceit, will never answer. As to Lucilla, we have never attempted to blind her judgment. We have never thought it necessary to leave her understanding out of the question, while we were forming her heart. We have never told her that the world is a scene absolutely destitute of pleasure : we have never assured her that there is no amusement in the diversions which we disapprove. Even if this assurance had not been deceitful, it would have been vain and fruitless. We eannot totally separate her from the society of those who frequent them, who find their happiness in them, and whom she would hear speak of them with rapture. “We went upon other grounds. We accustomed her to reflect that she was an intellectual creature; that she was an immortal creature; that she was a Christian. That to an intellectual being, diversions must always be subordinate to the exercise of the mental faculties; that to an immortal being, born to higher hopes than enjoyments, the exercise of the mental faculties must be subservient to religious duties. That in the practice of a Christian, self-denial is the turning point, the specific distinction. That as to many of the pleasures which the world pursues, Christianity requires her votaries to live above the temptations which they hold out. She requires it the more especially, because Christians in our time, not being called upon to make great and trying sacrifices, of life, of fortune, and of liberty; and having but comparatively small occasions to evidence their sincerity, should the more cheerfully make the petty but daily renunciation of those pleasures which are the very element in which worldly people exist.
“We have not misled her by unfair and flattering representations of the Christian life. We have not, with a view to allure her to embrace it on false pretences, taught her that when religion is once rooted in the heart, the remainder of life is uninterrupted peace and unbroken delight; that all shall be perpetually smooth hereafter, because it is smooth at present— This would be as unfair as to shew a raw recruit the splendours of a parade day, and tell him it was actual service. We have not made her believe that the established Christian has no troubles to expect, no vexations to fear, no storms to encounter. We have not attempted to cheat her into religion, by concealing its difficulties, its trials, no, nor its unpopularity. “We have been always aware, that to have enforced the most exalted Christian principles, together with the necessity of a corresponding practice, ever so of. ten and so strongly, would have been worse than foolish, had we been impressing these truths one part of the day, and had on the other part, been living ourselves in the actual enjoyment of the very things against which we were guarding her. My dear Charles, if we would talk to young people with effect, we must, by the habits of which we set them the example, dispose them to listen, or our documents will be something worse than fruitless. It is really hard upon girls to be tantalized with religious lectures, while they are at the same time tempted to every thing against which they are warned ; while the whole bent and bias of the family practice are diametrically opposite to the principles inculcated. “In our own case I think I may venture to affirm, that the plan has answered. We endeavoured to establish a principle of right, instead of unprofitable invective against what was wrong. Perhaps there can scarcely be found a religious family in which so few anathemas have been denounced against this or that specific diversion, as in ours. We aimed to take another road. The turn of mind, the tendency of the employment, the force of the practice, the bent of the conversation, the spirit of the amusement, have all leaned to the contrary direction, till the habits are gradually worked into a kind of nature. It would be cruel to condemn a creature to a retired life without qualifying her for retirement ; next to religion, nothing can possibly do this but mental cultivation in women who are above the exercise of vulgar employments. The girl who possesses only the worldly acquirements—the singer and the dancer—when con
demned to retirement, may reasonably exclaim with
Milton’s Adam, when looking at the constellations,
Why all night long shine these ?
“Now the woman who derives her principles from
the Bible, and her amusements frem intellectual.
sources, from the beauties of nature, and from active
employment and exercise, will not pant for beholders.
She is no clamorous beggar for the extorted alms of admiration. She lives on her own stock. Her resources are within herself. She possesses the truest independence. She does not wait for the opinion of the world, to know if she is right; nor for the applause of the world, to know if she is happy.
“Too many religious people fancy that the infec
tious air of the world is confined to the ball-room, or
the play-house, and that when you have escaped from these, you are got out of the reach of its contagion. But the contagion follows wherever there is a human heart left to its own natural impulse. And though I