« ZurückWeiter »
correspondence; so that I was equally a stranger to their sentiments and dispositions as to their persons.
On my father's arrival, I could not help feeling, that he did not return my fond caresses with that warmth with which I had made
iny account ; and afterwards, it was impossible not to remark, that he was altogether deficient in those common attentions which, in polite society, every woman is accustomed to receive, even from those with whom she is most nearly connected. My aunt had made it a rule to consider her domestics as humble friends, and to treat them as such ; but
father addressed them with a roughness of voice and of manner that disgusted them, and was extremely unpleasant to me. still more hurt with his minute and anxious inquiries about the fortune my aunt had died possessed of; and, when he found how inconsiderable it was, he swore a great oath, that, if he had thought she was to breed me a fine lady, and leave me a beggar,
I never should have entered her house. • But don't
cry, Harriet,' added he, it was not your fault; • be a good girl, and you shall never want while I • have.
On our journey to Scotland, I sometimes attempted to amuse my father by engaging him in conversation; but I never was lucky enough to hit on any subject on which he wished to talk. After a journey, which many circumstances concurred to render rather unpleasant, we arrived at my father's house. I had been told that it was situated in a remote part of Scotland, and thence I concluded the scene around it to be of that wild romantic kind, of all others the best suited to my inclination. But, instead of the rocks, the woods, the water-falls I had fancied to myself, I found an open, bleak, barren moor, covered with heathi, except a few patches round the
house, which my father, by his skill in agriculture, had brought to bear grass and corn.
My mother-in-law, a good looking woman, about forty, with a countenance that bespoke frankness and good-humour, rather than sensibility or delicacy, received me with much kindness; and, after giving me a hearty welcome to presented me to her two daughters, girls about fourteen or fifteen, with ruddy complexions, and every appearance of health and contentment. We found with them a Mr. Plowshare, a young gentleman of the neighbourhood, who, I afterwards learned, farmed his own estate, and was considered by my father as the most respectable man in the county. They immediately got into a dissertation on farming, and the different modes of agriculture practised in the different parts of the country, which continued almost without interruption till some time after dinner, when my father fell fast asleep. But this made no material alteration in the discourse ; for Mr. Plowshare and the ladies then entered into a discussion of the most approved methods of feeding poultry and fattening pigs, which lasted till the evening was pretty far advanced. It is now some months since I arrived at my father's ; during all which time I have scarcely ever heard any other conversation. You may easily conceive, Sir, the figure I make on such occasions. Though the good-nature of my mother-in-law prevents her from saying so, I can plainly perceive that she, as well as my sisters, consider me as one who has been extremely ill educated, and as ignorant of every thing that a young woman ought to know.
When I came to the country, I proposed to pass great part of my
favourite amusement of reading; but, on inquiry, I found that my father's library consisted of a large family Bible,
Dickson's Agriculture, and a treatise on Farriery ; and that the only books my mother was possessed of were, the Domestic Medicine, and the Complete Housewife.
In short, Sir, in the midst of a family happy in themselves, and desirous to make me so, I find myself wretched. My mind preys upon itself. When I look forward, I can discover no prospect
any period to my sorrows. At times I am disposed to envy the happiness of my sisters, and to wish that I had never acquired those accomplishments from which I formerly received so much pleasure. Is it vanity that checks this wish, and leads me, at other times, to think, that even happiness may be
purchased at too dear a rate ?
Some time ago I accidentally met with your paper, and at length resolved to describe my situation to you, partly to fill up one of my tedious hours, and partly in hopes of being favoured with your sentiments on a species of distress, which is perhaps more poignant than many other kinds of affliction that figure more in the eyes of mankind.
I am, &c.
H. B. E
N° 52. SATURDAY, JULY 24, 1779.
To the AUTHOR of the MIRROR.
Dulce et decorum est pro patriâ mori.
Sir, It has always been a favourite opinion with me, i that whoever could make two ears of corn, or two • blades of grass, grow upon a spot of ground where
only one grew before, would deserve better of • mankind, and do more essential service to his
country, than the whole race of politicians put • together.' Possessed with this idea, I have long bent
my thoughts and study towards those inquiries which conduce to the melioration of the earth’s production, and to increase the fertility of my native country. I shall not at present tire you with an account of the various projects I have devised, the sundry experiments I have made, and the many miscarriages I have met with. Suffice it to say, that I have now in my brain, a scheme, the success of which, I am confident, can searcely fail. The frequent disappointments, however, I have formerly experienced, induce me to consult you about my plan, before I take any farther steps towards carrying it into execution. You are an author, Sir, and must consequently be a man of learning : you informed us you had travelled, and you must of course be a much wiser man than I, who never was an hundred miles from the place where I now write : for
these reasons, I am induced to lay my present scheme before you, and to intreat your opinion of it.
In the introduction to the Tales of Guillaume Vadé, published by the celebrated Voltaire, is the following passage, given as part of the speech of Vadé to his cousin Catharine Vadé, when she asked him where he would be buried ? After censuring the practice of burying in towns and churches, and commending the better custom of the Greeks and Ro. mans, who were interred in the country, · What pleasure,' says he,' would it afford to a good citi
zen to be sent to fatten, for example, the barren • plain of Sablons, and to contribute to raise plenti• ful harvests there !-By this prudent establishment,
one generation would be useful to another, towns • would be more wholesome, and the country more • fruitful. In truth, I cannot help saying that we • want police in that matter, on account both of the • living and the dead.'
To me, Sir, who now and then join the amusement of reading to the employment of agriculture, the above passage has always appeared particularly deserving of attention ; and I have, at last, formed a sort of computation of the advantages which would accrue to the country from the general adoption of such a plan as that suggested by Monsieur Vadé. If the managers of the public buryinggrounds were, at certain intervals, and for certain valuable considerations, to lend their assistance to the proprietors of the fields and meadows, how many beneficial consequences would result to the public? How many of the honest folks, who now lie uselessly mouldering in our church-yards, and did never the smallest good while alive, would thus be rendered, after death, of the most essential service to the community? How many who seemed brought into the