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spotless part of her own sex, she felt the worm ever gnawing a heart which, if it had remained innocent, was fitted to have been the seat of the most enviable felicity.

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MRS. L. I trust such situations are rare, and that the hand of mercy is extended, even in this world, to the penitent. But, independent of the obstacles arising from deviations from virtue, what other circumstances of conduct should prevent a newly-married woman from seeking, or accepting, the acquaintance of her neighbours?

MRS. B.-There are some propensities over which society has little control, although they are frequently found to be mischievous and vexatious. Of such are the love of scandal, gossiping, and rídicule. All that can be done towards checking their progress in society must be by the force of example, and by making those who are addicted to them aware, that their company would be more welcome were their conversation of a higher stamp. It would, perhaps, appear an assumption of too great superiority were a young married lady to profess an intention to exclude from her society such delinquents as the scandal-monger and gossip; but if she feel obliged to tolerate them amongst her acquaintance, she need not select them for her friends. Intimacies with them would be illadvised, and might be dangerous. No degree of intimacy can insure safety with the genuine lover of scandal. By such persons any circumstance that may serve as the basis of a good story, or that may find an interest in the malignant propensities of others, is carefully hindered from smouldering

and perhaps dying away for want of a free circulation and current. It is very seldom, too, that a story gains nothing in its course, and what was of pigmy birth grows quickly in its progress through any circle to gigantic stature. Were it truth only that is thus passed on from house to house, scandal would soon cease; for truth, admitting of no variation in the nature of its circumstances, would not afford it sufficient nourishment.

MRS. L.I think I have remarked among those whom I could not charge with any decided propensity to blunder, extreme carelessness regarding the reputation of their acquaintance. I have heard them mention, with no spirit of unkindness, but from inconsideration, or from the love of talking, circumstances and reports resting on slight basis, and yet of such a nature as to convey very injurious impressions of the parties concerned. Is not such conduct highly censurable?


MRS. B. Without doubt. In proportion to the desire we have to avert unjust reproach from ourselves, should be our solicitude to avoid fixing it undeservedly upon another, particularly upon a whose name, if once sullied, is so irrecoverably. Sometimes an injurious report is handed about, and after circulating and gaining credit a contradiction comes out, telling you that the whole is a calumny. But who will pretend to say that no mischief is done, and that the contradiction will extend as far as the story, or will gain as ready a belief? It may often happen, that upon such grounds an innocent woman for the rest of her days is regarded by her acquaintance with suspicion, and her society consequently avoided.

We are not, however, to confound scandal with just censure and discrimination. We may sometimes be called upon to express an opinion respecting the character and conduct of individuals, and if we feel assured that censure is deserved, we must not withhold it, lest we neglect the cause of morality. But in doing this, we may be careful not to exceed justice, nor to speak with more than requisite severity.

MRS. L. But as scandal is not confined to the weaker sex, how is a lady to discriminate the characters of the gentlemen who may visit at her house?

MRS. B. By their chosen pursuits, and by the tenour of their conversation, some knowledge may be attained of the character of those who form a part of our society. If they are known to discharge their various obligations honourably and judiciously; if they devote some portion of their time to the acquisition of knowledge; if their sentiments on all important subjects do not offend against morality; and if their conversation is free from levity and folly—there can be little doubt of their being entitled to a favourable reception in society. But when the chief study of men appears to be the fashions of the day, and their highest ambition is to be of ton; when they would rather relinquish right principles, and adopt any folly, than sin against the laws of fashion; when frivolity marks their pursuits, and selfishness their conduct, you will be justified in excluding such from an intimate footing in your circle, although there may be circumstances which compel you to admit them amongst your acquaintance. A formal intercourse is all such

men deserve, which, like the gauze curtains used in Indian climates to exclude annoying insects, will prevent their society from proving an inconvenience. But, unfortunately, fashion has more sway in the regulations of society than good taste and propriety; and in your intercourse with the world, you will often encounter the weakest and most worthless men, who are not only admitted, but even sought after and welcomed every where, because they are fashionable, and because their names, not their accomplishments, give éclat to the parties they frequent.

It has been a common reflection upon women, that they are ever ready to encourage all the derelictions from good taste and wisdom which fashion may prescribe, and to their influence, the folly and consequent insignificance in society of many a young man has been attributed. Certainly, if such folly were not supposed to be admired, and to gain distinction, it would have fewer votaries.

MRS. L. Let us hope for a brighter era in the history of society, when the improved taste of the female world will assert an influence in discountenancing eccentricity, affectation, and folly, by whatever name supported; and in ranking wisdom and virtue on the side of fashion.

MRS. B. — On one point, however, we may in this age boast of improvement. The unmeaning compliments which were formerly paid to women, and considered as forming the only species of con versation that could be palatable to them, are now become unfashionable, and even absurd. Most women of the present day, were they so compli

mented, would probably suspect themselves to be objects of ridicule rather than of admiration. Yet although open and gross flattery can now seldom please, there are kinds of a more specious and hidden form, which are too often acceptable. These are not unfrequently the instruments of designing characters, and employed under the semblance of friendship and esteem to gain confidence for some sinister end. Sometimes the ambition of a low mind is to rise into notice by mean subservience to a superior, and flattering his weaknesses to gain his point by making his patron his dupe. But the love of flattery, besides rendering us dupes of the most contemptible arts, is in itself injurious. The mind accustomed to adulation, is like the body when fed upon too high and luxurious an aliment. It becomes diseased, and cannot afterwards endure the plain language of sincerity. The true friend is often neglected, or coldly treated, and preference shown to any, however unworthy, who are willing to give, in sufficient quantity, the only food welcome to self-love. Mental infirmities receive no check from such nourishment: the taste and feelings become depraved, and added years, instead of witnessing improvement in character, only bring to light defects and failings cherished and multiplied under the baneful influence of flattery.

Women who are gossips, are generally flatterers. They discover the weak side of every one with whom they associate; and in administering incense to self-love, obtain the possession of secrets under the mask of confidence, which they are im

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