You had the misfortune to be deprived of your mother, at a time of life when you were insensible of your loss, and could receive little benefit, either from her instruction or her example. — Before this comes to your hands, you will likewise have lost your father.

I have had many melancholy reflections on the forlorn and helpless situation you must be in, if it should please God to remove me from you, before you arrive at that period of life, when you will be able to think and act for yourselves. I know mankind too well. I know their falsehood, their dissipation, their coldness to all the duties of friendship and humanity. I know the little attention paid to helpless infancy.—You will meet with few friends enough to do you good offices, when you are incapable of making them any return, by contributing to their interest or their pleasure, or even to the gratification of their vanity.

I have been supported under the gloom naturally arising from these reflections, by a reliance on the goodness of that Providence which has hitherto preserved you, and given the the most pleasing prospect of the goodness of your dispositions, and by the secret hope that your mother’s virtues will entail a blessing on her children.

The anxiety I have for your happiness has made me resolve to throw together my sentiments relating to your future conduct in life. If I live for some years, you will receive them with much greater advantage suited to your different geniuses and dispositions. If I die sooner, you must receive them in this very imperfect manner,—the last proof of my affection.

You will all remember your father’s fondness, when perhaps every other circumstance relating to him is forgotten. This remembrance, I hope, will induce you to give a serious attention to the advices I am now going to leave with you.—I can request this attention with the greater confidence, as my sentiments on the most interesting points that regard life and manners, were entirely correspondent to your mother’s, whose judgment and taste I trusted much more than my own.

You must expect that the advices which I shall give you will be very imperfect, as there are many nameless delicacies, in female manners, of which none but a woman can judge.—You will have one advantage by attending to what I am going to leave with you; you will hear, at least for once in your lives, the genuine sentiments of a man who has no interest in flattering or deceiving you.—I shall throw my reflections together without any studies order, and shall only, to avoid confusion, range them under a few general heads.

You will see, in a little Treatise of mine just published, in what an honourable point of view I have considered your sex; not as domestic drudges, or the slaves of our pleasures, but as our companions and equals; as designed to soften our hearts and polish our manners; and as Thomson finely says,

To raise the virtues, animate the bliss,

And sweeten all the toils of human life.

I shall not repeat what I have there said on this subject, and shall only observe, from the view that I have given of your natural character and place in society, there arises a certain propriety of conduct peculiar to your sex. It is this peculiar propriety of female manners of which I intend to give you my sentiments, without touching on those general rules of conduct, by which men and women are equally bound.

While I shall explain to you that system of conduct which I think will tend most to your honour and happiness, I shall, at the same time, endeavour to point out those virtues and accomplishments which render you most respectable and most amiable in the eyes of my own sex.



THOUGH the duties of religion, strictly speaking, are equally binding on both sexes, yet certain differences in their natural character and education, render some vices in your sex particularly odious. The natural hardness of our hearts, and strength of our passions, inflamed by the uncontrouled licence we are too often indulged with in our youth, are apt to render our manners more dissolute, and make us less susceptible of the finer feelings of the heart. Your superior delicacy, your modesty, and the usual severity of your education, preserve you, in a great measure, from any temptation to those vices to which we are most subjected. The natural softness and sensibility of your dispositions particularly fit you for the practice of those duties where the heart is chiefly concerned. And this, along with the natural warmth of your imagination, renders you peculiarly susceptible of the feelings of devotion.…

…Religion is rather a matter of sentiment than reasoning. The important and interesting articles of faith are sufficiently plain. Fix your attention of these, and do not meddle with controversy. If you get into that, you plunge into chaos, from which you will never be able to extricate yourselves. It spoils the temper, and, I suspect, has no good effect on the heart.…

…Avoid all grimace and ostentation in your religious duties. They are the usual cloaks of hypocrisy; at least they shew a weak and vain mind.…

…Cultivate an enlarged charity for all mankind, however they may differ from you in their religious opinions. That difference may probably arise from causes in which you had no share, and from which you can derive no merit.…

…Shew your regard to religion, by a distinguishing respect to all its ministers, of whatever persuasion, who do not by their lives dishonour their profession:…

…The best effect of your religion will be a diffusive humanity to all in distress.—Set apart a certain proportion of your income as sacred to charitable purposes. But in this, as well as in the practice of every other duty, carefully avoid ostentation.…

…Do not confine your charity to giving money. You may have many opportunities of shewing a tender and compassionate spirit where your money is not wanted.—There is a false and unnatural refinement in sensibility, which makes some people shun the sight of every object in distress. Never indulge this, especially where your friends or acquaintances are concerned. Let the days of their misfortunes, when the world forgets or avoids them, be the season for you to exercise your humanity and friendship.…



ONE of the chief beauties in a female character, is that modest reserve, that retiring delicacy, which avoids the public eye, and is disconcerted even at the gaze of admiration.—I do not wish you to be insensible of applause. If you were, you must become, if not worse, at least less amiable women. But you may be dazzled by that admiration which yet rejoices your hearts.

When a girl ceases to blush, she has lost the most powerful charm of her beauty. That extreme sensibility which it indicates, may be a weakness and incumbrance in our sex, as I have too often felt; but in yours it is peculiarly engaging. Pedants, who think themselves philosophers, ask why a women should blush when she is conscious of no crime? It is a sufficient answer that nature has made you to blush when you are guilty of no fault, and has forced us to love you because you do so. —Blushing is so far from being necessarily an attendant on guilt, that it is the usual companion of innocence.

……Be cautious in displaying your good sense. It will be thought you assume a superiority over the rest of the company.—But if you happen to have any learning, keep it a profound secret, especially from the men, who generally look with a jealous and malignant eye on a woman of great parts, and a cultivated understanding.

A man of real genius and candour is far superior to this meanness. But such a one will seldom fall in your way……

Beware of detraction, especially where your own sex is concerned. You are generally accused of being particularly addicted to this vice—I think unjustly.—Men are fully as guilty of it when their interests interfere……

Shew a compassionate sympathy to unfortunate women, especially to those who are rendered so by the villainy of men. Indulge a secret pleasure, I may say pride, in being the friends and refuge of the unhappy, but without the vanity of shewing it.

Consider every species of indelicacy in conversation, as shameful in itself, and as highly disgusting to us. All double entendre is of this sort.—The dissoluteness of men’s education allows them to be diverted with a kind of wit, which yet they have delicacy enough to be shocked at, when it comes from your mouths, or even when you hear it without pain and contempt.—Virgin purity is of that delicate nature, that it cannot heat certain things without contamination. It is always in your power to avoid these. No man, but a brute or a fool will insult a woman with conversation which he sees gives her pain; nor will he dare to do it, if she resent the injury with a becoming spirit.—There is a dignity in conscious virtue which is able to awe the most shameless and abandoned of men.…

Have a sacred regard to truth. Lying is a mean and despicable vice.—I have known some women of excellent parts, who were so much addicted to it, that they could not be trusted in the relation of any story, especially if it contained any thing of the marvellous, or if they themselves were heroines of the tale. This weakness did not proceed from a bad heart, but was merely the effect of vanity, or an unbridled imagination.—I do not mean to censure that lively embellishment of a humorous story, which is only intended to provoke innocent mirth.…



EVERY period of life has amusements which are natural and proper to it. You may indulge the variety of your tastes in these, while you keep within the bounds of that propriety which is suitable to your sex.

Such books as improve your understanding, enlarge your knowledge, and cultivate your taste, may be considered in a higher point of view than mere amusements. There are a variety of others, which are neither useful nor ornamental, such as play of different kinds.

Some amusements are conducive to health, as various kinds of exercise… I would particularly recommend to you those exercises that oblige you to be much abroad in the open air, such as walking, and riding on horseback. This will give vigour to your constitutions, and a bloom to your complexions. If you accustom yourselves to go abroad always in chairs and carriages, you will soon become so enervated, as to be unable to go out of doors without them. They are like most articles of luxury, useful and agreeable when judiciously used; but when made habitual, they become both insipid and pernicious.

An attention paid to your health is a duty you owe to yourselves and to your friends. Bad health seldom fails to have an influence on the spirits and temper.…

But though good health be one of the greatest blessings in life, never make a boast of it, but enjoy it in grateful silence.…



THE luxury and dissipation that prevails in genteel life, as it corrupts the heart in many respects, so it renders it incapable of warm, sincere and steady friendship. A happy choice of friends will be of the utmost consequence to you, as they may assist you by their advice and good offices. But the immediate gratification which friendship affords to a warm, open, and ingenuous heart, is of itself sufficient motive to court it.

In the choice of your friends, have your principal regard to goodness of heart and fidelity. If they also possess taste and genius, that will still make them more agreeable and useful companions. You have particular reason to place confidence in those who have shewn kindness to you in your early days, when you were incapable of making them any return. This is an obligation for which you cannot be too grateful.…

If you have the good fortune to meet with any who deserve the name of friends, unbosom yourself to them with the most unsuspicious confidence. It is one of the world’s maxims, never to trust any person with a secret, the discovery of which could give you any pain; but it is the maxim of a little mind and a cold heart, unless where it is the effect of frequent disappointments and bad usage. An open temper, if restrained but by tolerable prudence, will make you, on the whole, much happier than a reserved suspicious one, although you may suffer by it. Coldness and distrust are but the too certain consequences of age and experience; but they are unpleasant feelings, and need not be anticipated before their time.

But however open you may be in talking of your own affairs, never disclose the secrets of one friend to another. These are secret deposits, which do not belong to you, nor have you any right to make use of them.

…If, therefore, you must have a friend to pour out your heart to, be sure of her honour and secrecy. Let her not be a married woman, especially if she lives happily with her husband. There are certain unguarded moments, in which such a woman, though the best and worthiest of her sex, may let hints escape, or to any other person than her husband, she would be incapable of; nor will a husband in this case feel himself under the same obligation of secrecy and honour…

If all other circumstances are equal, there are obvious advantages in your making friends of one another. The ties of blood, and your being so much united in one common interest, form an additional bond of union to your friendship. If your brothers should have the good fortune as to have hearts susceptible to friendship, to possess truth, honour, sense, and delicacy of sentiment, they are the fittest and most unexceptionable confidants. By placing confidence in them, you will receive every advantage which you could hope for from the friendship of men, without any of the inconveniencies that attend such connexions with our sex.

Beware of making confidants of your servants……

Never allow any person, under the pretended sanction of friendship, to be so familiar as to lose a proper respect for you.… Many will tell you, that this reserve is inconsistent with the freedom which friendship allows. But a certain respect is necessary in friendship as in love. Without it, you may be liked as a child, but you will never be beloved as an equal.

……Thousands of women of the best hearts and finest parts have been ruined by men who approach them under the specious name of friendship. But supposing a man to have the most undoubted honour, yet his friendship to a woman is so near a-kin to love, that if she be very agreeable in her person, she will probably very soon find a lover, where she only wished to meet a friend.…

There is a different species of men whom you may like as agreeable companions, men of worth, taste and genius, whose conversation, in some respects, may be superior to what you generally meet with among your own sex. It will be foolish in you to deprive yourselves of an useful and agreeable acquaintance, merely because idle people say he is your lover. Such a man may like your company, without having any designs on your person.……

There is one advice I shall leave you, to which I beg your particular attention. Before your affections come in the least engaged to any man, examine your tempers, your tastes, and your hearts, very severely, and settle in your own minds, what are the requisites to your happiness in a married state; and, as it is almost impossible that you should get every thing you wish, come to a steady determination what you are to consider as essential, and what may be sacrificed.…

From what I have said, you will easily see that I could never pretend to advise you whom you should marry; but I can with great confidence advise you whom you should not marry.

Avoid a companion that may entail any hereditary disease on your posterity, particularly (that most dreadful of human calamities) madness. It is the height of imprudence to run into such a danger, and, in my opinion, highly criminal.

Do not marry a fool; he is the most intractable of all animals; he is led by his passions and caprices, and is incapable of hearing the voice of reason. It may probably too hurt your vanity to have husbands for whom you have reason to blush and tremble every time they open their lips in company. But the worst circumstance that attends a fool, is his constant jealousy of his wife being thought to govern him. This renders it impossible to lead him, and he is continually doing absurd and disagreeable things, for no other reason than to shew he dares to do them.

A rake is always a suspicious husband, because he has only known the most worthless of your sex. He likewise entails the worst diseases on his wife and children, if he has the misfortune to have any.

If you have any sense of religion in yourselves, do not think of husbands who have none. If they have tolerable understanding, they will be glad that you have religion, for their own sakes, and for the sakes of their children; but it will sink you in their esteem. If they are weak men, they will be continually teazing and shocking you about your principles.—If you have children, you will suffer the most bitter distress, in seeing all your endeavours to form their minds to virtue and piety, all your endeavours to secure their present and eternal happiness, frustrated and turned into ridicule.

As I look on your choice of a husband to be of the greatest consequence to your happiness, I hope you will make it with the utmost circumspection. Do not give way to a sudden folly of passion, and dignify it with the name of love.—Genuine love is not founded in caprice; it is founded in nature, on honourable views, on virtue, on similarity of tastes and sympathy of souls.

Marriage, indeed, will at once dispel the enchantment raised by external beauty … The tumult of passion will necessarily subside; but will be succeeded by an endearment, that effects the heart in a more equal, more sensible, and tender manner.…

I have thus given you my opinion on some of the most important articles of your future life, chiefly calculated for that period when you are just entering the world.…

What I have written has been the amusement of some solitary hours, and has served to divert some melancholy reflections.—I am conscious that I undertook a task to which I was very unequal; but I have discharged a part of my duty.—You will at least be pleased with it, as the last mark of your father’s love and attention.