October 16, 1783. My Dear Child,
I HOPE you will now be able to rest yourself; for you have had a sad hurrying time since Midsummer. So much visiting and running about has, 1 hope, given you a right relish for the retirement and regularity of school. What a pretty place you are in, and what a pretty time of life it is with you, if you can but think so, before trouble and care have received commission to disturb you.
I could wish that all my letters might afford you both pleasure and profit: I would make you smile sometimes, and always endeavour to do you good. At present I must write a little upon the subject of temper. I do not think your temper a bad one. Your mamma and I are always ready to give you a good character, and it pleases us that we can say you are> in the main, affectionate and obliging. But we sometimes observe that in you, which we could wish nobody took notice of but ourselves ; or rather, that you would strive to get quite the better of it, that we, who love you so dearly, might be no more grieved. It is a certain self-willed impatience, which disposes you, when your inclinations are overruled, or when any thing is desired of you which does not exactly please you, to pout, frown, and alter your countenance, so that you often appear to a disadvantage in company. You do not seem to find, or to think of finding, a pleasure in giving up a thing to please you mamma, but had rather have your own way. Now if you sit down and consider how much we love you, and study to oblige and please you, I hope you will strive against this humoursome temper. I call it so, because I do not believe it is owing to a want of affection and gratitude on your part, but rather the effect of a something in your natural temper, which, if you strive against, I hope you will be enabled to overcome.
Besides what you owe to our love and tenderness, I can give you a further reason why you should attend to this point. I have told you repeatedly, and I tell you again, that your cousin's coming to live with us, will not make the slightest alteration in our love for you. You are still, and will be, our own dear child; we have love enough for you both. But in the outward expression of our love, something must, of course, depend upon behaviour. We are sometimes obliged, though with reluctance, to reprove and contradict you ; now we cannot reprove her, because she never gives us an opportunity. In the seven months she has been with us, I never once knew her to debate with us, nor have I once seen a cloud upon her brow for a single moment. She watches our looks, and if she perceives the slightest hint that any thing she proposes is not quite agreeable to us, she has done with it in a moment, and gives it up with a smile ; which shows that it costs her nothing, but that she really prefers pleasing us to frhe pleasing herself. Now you must allow, my dear, that this behaviour is very engaging. I wish you to be equally engaging, and not to seem to come short of her in any thing.
Have you heard of your good friend Mrs. 's
illness ? They have no expectation of her recover}'; nay, perhaps she is dead before this time. How well she seemed when we dined there biit lately ! So uncertain is life—even young people have no assurance of continuing here ; but I hope you will pray as David did, Psal. xxxix. 4, and that the Lord will hear your prayer. When you come to know him as your Lord and Saviour, you may sing Simeon's song. And we cannot enjoy life with true comfort, till we are delivered from the fear of death.
I am your very affectionate.