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but I found myself irrefiftibly allured to friendship and intimacy, by the familiar complaifance and airy gaiety of Flavia; fo that in a few weeks I became her favourite, and all the time was paffed with me, that she could gain from ceremony and vifit.
As fhe came often to me, fhe neceffarily spent fome hours with my aunt, to whom the paid great refpect by low courtefies, fubmiffive compliance, and foft acquiefcence; but as I became gradually more accustomed to her manners, I difcovered that her civility was general; that there was a certain. degree of deference fhewn by her to circumftances and appearances; that many went away flattered by her humility, whom fhe defpifed in her heart; that the influence of far the greateft part of those with whom the converfed ceafed with their prefence; and that fometimes the did not remember the names of them, whom, without any intentional infincerity or false commendation, her habitual civility had fent away with very high thoughts of their own import
It was not long before I perceived, that my aunt's opinion was not of much weight in Flavia's deliberations, and that fhe was looked upon by her as a woman of narrow fentiments, without knowledge of books, or obfervations on mankind. I had hitherto confidered my aunt, as entitled by her wisdom and experience to the higheft reverence, and could not forbear to wonder that any one fo much younger should venture to suspect her of error, or ignorance; but my surprise was without uneafinefs, and being now accustomed to think Flavia always in the right, I readily learned from her to truft my own reafon,
and to believe it poffible, that they who had lived longer might be mistaken.
Flavia had read much, and used fo often to converfe on fubjects of learning, that fhe put all the men in the country to flight, except the old parson, who declared himself much delighted with her company, because she gave him opportunities to recol lect the ftudies of his younger years, and, by fome mention of ancient ftory, had made him rub the duft off his Homer, which had lain unregarded in his closet. With Homer, and a thousand other names familiar to Flavia, I had no acquaintance, but began, by comparing her accomplishments with my own, to repine at my education, and wifh that I had not been fo long confined to the company of those from whom nothing but housewifery was to be learned. I then fet myself to perufe fuch books as Flavia recommended, and heard her opinion of their beauties and defects. I faw new worlds hourly bursting upon my mind, and was enraptured at the profpect of diverfifying life with endless entertain
The old lady finding that a large fcreen, which I had undertaken to adorn with turkey-work against winter, made very flow advances, and that I had added in two months but three leaves to a flowered apron then in the frame, took the alarm, and with all the zeal of honest folly exclaimed against my new acquaintance, who had filled me with idle notions, and turned my head with books. But fhe had now loft her authority, for I began to find innumerable mistakes in her opinions, and improprieties in her language; and therefore thought myself no longer
bound to pay much regard to one who knew little beyond her needle and her dairy, and who profeffed to think that nothing more is required of a woman than to see that the house is clean, and that the maids go to bed and rife at a certain hour.
She feemed however to look upon Flavia as feducing me, and to imagine that when her influence was withdrawn, I fhould return to my allegiance; the therefore contented herfelf with remote hints, and gentle admonitions, intermixed with fage hifto ries of the miscarriages of wit, and difappointments of pride. But fince she has found, that though Fla via is departed, I ftill perfift in my new fcheme, she has at length loft her patience, fhe fnatches my book out of my hand, tears my paper if fhe finds me writing, burns Flavia's letters before my face when the can seize them, and threatens to lock me up, and to complain to my father of my perverfenefs. If women, fhe fays, would but know their duty and their interest, they would be careful to acquaint themselves with family affairs, and many a penny might be faved; for while the mistress of the house is fcribbling and reading, fervants are junketing, and linen is wearing out. She then takes me round the rooms, fhews me the worked hangings, and chairs of tent-stitch, and afks whether all this was done with a pen and a book?
I cannot deny that I fometimes laugh and fometimes am fullen; but fhe has not delicacy enough to be much moved either with my mirth or my gloom, if the did not think the intereft of the family endangered by this change of my manners. She had for fome years marked out young Mr. VOL. V. G
Surly, an heir in the neighbourhood, remarkable for his love of fighting-cocks, as an advantageous match; and was extremely pleafed with the civilities which he used to pay me, till under Flavia's tuition I learned to talk of fubjects which he could not understand. This, fhe fays, is the confequence of female study; girls grow too wife to be advised, and too stubborn to be commanded; but she is refolved to try who fhall govern, and will thwart my humour till fhe breaks my fpirit.
These menaces, Mr. Rambler, fometimes make me quite angry; for I have been fixteen these ten weeks, and think myself exempted from the dominion of a governefs, who has no pretenfions to more fenfe or knowledge than myself. I am refolved, fince I am as tall and as wife as other women, to be no longer treated like a girl. Mifs Flavia has often told me, that ladies of my age go to affemblies and routes, without their mothers and their aunts ; I fhall therefore, from this time, leave afking advice, and refuse to give accounts. I wish you would state the time at which young ladies may judge for themfelves, which I am fure you cannot but think ought to begin before fixteen; if you are inclined to delay it longer, I fhall have very little regard to your opinion.
My aunt often tells me of the advantages of experience, and of the deference due to feniority; and both she, and all the antiquated part of the world, talk of the unreferved obedience which they paid to the command of their parents, and the undoubting confidence with which they liftened to their precepts; of the terrors which they felt at a frown, and
and the humility with which they fupplicated forgiveness whenever they had offended. 1 cannot but fancy that this boaft is too general to be true, and that the young and the old were always at variance. I have, however, told my aunt, that I will mend whatever she will prove to be wrong; but she replies that she has reasons of her own, and that fhe is forry to live in an age when girls have the impudence to afk for proofs.
I beg once again, Mr. Rambler, to know whe ther I am not as wife as my aunt, and whether, when she presumes to check me as a baby, I may not pluck up a spirit and return her infolence? I fhall not proceed to extremities without your advice, which is therefore impatiently expected by
P. S. Remember I am past fixteen.