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Article: Instructions to Youth

Affectionate Aunt

Instructions to Youth

To Miss Jane Anna Elizabeth Austen

My Dear Neice Though you are at this period not many degrees removed from Infancy, Yet trusting that you will in time be older, and that through the care of your excellent Parents, You will one day or another be able to read written hand, I dedicate to You the following Miscellanious Morsels, convinced that if you seriously attend to them, You will derive from them very important Instructions, with regard to your Conduct in Life.--If such my hopes should hereafter be realized, never shall I regret the Days and Nights that have been spent in composing these Treatises for your Benefit. I am my dear Neice Your very Affectionate Aunt. The Author June 2d 1793 A Fragment... written to inculcate the practise of Virtue (Erased from original manuscript) We all know that many are unfortunate in their progress through the world, but we do not know all that are so. To seek them out to study their wants, & to leave them unsupplied is the duty, and ought to be the Business of Man. But few have time, fewer still have inclination, and no one has either the one or the other for such employments. Who amidst those that perspire away their Evenings in crouded assemblies can have leisure to bestow a thought on such as sweat under the fatigue of their daily Labour. A beautiful description... of the different effects of Sensibility on different Minds I am but just returned from Melissa's Bedside, and in my Life tho' it has been a pretty long one, and I have during the course of it been at many Bedsides, I never saw so affecting an object as she exhibits. She lies wrapped in a book muslin bedgown, a chambray gauze shift, and a French net nightcap. Sir William is constantly at her bedside. The only repose he takes is on the Sopha in the Drawing room, where for five minutes every fortnight he remains in an imperfect Slumber, starting up every Moment and exclaiming 'Oh! Melissa, Ah! Melissa,' then sinking down again, raises his left arm and scratches his head. Poor Mrs Burnaby is beyond measure afflicted. She sighs every now and then, that is about once a week; while the melancholy Charles says every Moment 'Melissa, how are you?' The lovely Sisters are much to be pitied. Julia is ever lamenting the situation of her friend, while lying behind her pillow and supporting her head--Maria more mild in her greif talks of going to Town next week, and Anna is always recurring to the pleasures we once enjoyed when Melissa was well.--I am usually at the fire cooking some little delicacy for the unhappy invalid--Perhaps hashing up the remains of an old Duck, toasting some cheese or making a Curry which are the favourite Dishes of our poor friend.--In these situations we were this morning surprised by receiving a visit from Dr Dowkins 'I am come to see Melissa,' said he. 'How is She?' 'Very weak indeed,' said the fainting Melissa--'Very weak,' replied the punning Doctor, 'aye indeed it is more than a very week since you have taken to your bed--How is your appetite!' 'Bad, very bad,' said Julia. That is very bad'--replied he. 'Are her spirits good, Madam!' 'So poorly, Sir, that we are obliged to strengthen her with cordials every Minute.'--'Well then she receives Spirits from your being with her. Does she sleep?' 'Scarcely ever.'--'And Ever Scarcely I suppose when she does. Poor thing! Does she think of dieing?' 'She has not strength to Think at all. 'Nay then she cannot think to have Strength.' The Generous Curate... a moral Tale, setting forth the Advantages of being Generous and a Curate. In a part little known of the County of Warwick, a very worthy Clergyman lately resided. The income of his living which amounted to about two hundred pound, and the interest of his Wife's fortune which was nothing at all, was entirely sufficient for the Wants and Wishes of a Family who neither wanted or wished for anything beyond what their income afforded them. Mr Williams had been in possession of his living above twenty Years, when this history commences, and his Marriage which had taken place soon after his presentation to it, had made him the father of six very fine Children. The eldest had been placed at the Royal Academy for Seamen at Portsmouth when about thirteen years old, and from thence had been discharged on board of one of the Vessels of a small fleet destined for Newfoundland, where his promising and amiable disposition had procured him many friends among the Natives, and from whence he regularly sent home a large Newfoundland Dog every Month to his family. The second, who was also a Son, had been adopted by a neighbouring Clergyman with the intention of educating him at his own expence, which would have been a very desirable Circumstance had the Gentleman's fortune been equal to his generosity, but as he had nothing to support himself and a very large family but a Curacy of fifty pound a year, Young Williams knew nothing more at the age of 18 than what a twopenny Dame's School in the village could teach him. His Character however was perfectly amiable though his genius might be cramped, and he was addicted to no vice, or ever guilty of any fault beyond what his age and situation rendered perfectly excusable. He had indeed; sometimes been detected in flinging Stones at a Duck or putting brickbats into his Benefactor's bed; but these innocent efforts of wit were considered by that good Man rather as the effects of a lively imagination, than of anything bad in his Nature, and if any punishment were decreed for the offence it was in general no greater than that the Culprit should pick up the Stones or take the brickbats away.--   Finis Enjoyed this article? Browse our book shop at

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