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Maria

Chapter 7
"ADDRESSING these memoirs to you, my child, uncertain whether I shall ever
have an opportunity of instructing you, many observations will probably flow from
my heart, which only a mother--a mother schooled in misery, could make.
"The tenderness of a father who knew the world, might be great; but could it
equal that of a mother--of a mother, labouring under a portion of the misery,
which the constitution of society seems to have entailed on all her kind? It is, my
child, my dearest daughter, only such a mother, who will dare to break through all
restraint to provide for your happiness--who will voluntarily brave censure herself,
to ward off sorrow from your bosom. From my narrative, my dear girl, you may
gather the instruction, the counsel, which is meant rather to exercise than
influence your mind.--Death may snatch me from you, before you can weigh my
advice, or enter into my reasoning: I would then, with fond anxiety, lead you very
early in life to form your grand principle of action, to save you from the vain regret
of having, through irresolution, let the spring-tide of existence pass away,
unimproved, unenjoyed.-- Gain experience--ah! gain it--while experience is worth
having, and acquire sufficient fortitude to pursue your own happiness; it includes
your utility, by a direct path. What is wisdom too often, but the owl of the
goddess, who sits moping in a desolated heart; around me she shrieks, but I
would invite all the gay warblers of spring to nestle in your blooming bosom.--Had
I not wasted years in deliberating, after I ceased to doubt, how I ought to have
acted--I might now be useful and happy.--For my sake, warned by my example,
always appear what you are, and you will not pass through existence without
enjoying its genuine blessings, love and respect.
"Born in one of the most romantic parts of England, an enthusiastic fondness for
the varying charms of nature is the first sentiment I recollect; or rather it was the
first consciousness of pleasure that employed and formed my imagination.
"My father had been a captain of a man of war; but, disgusted with the service,
on account of the preferment of men whose chief merit was their family
connections or borough interest, he retired into the country; and, not knowing
what to do with himself--married. In his family, to regain his lost consequence, he
determined to keep up the same passive obedience, as in the vessels in which
he had commanded. His orders were not to be disputed; and the whole house
was expected to fly, at the word of command, as if to man the shrouds, or mount
aloft in an elemental strife, big with life or death. He was to be instantaneously
obeyed, especially by my mother, whom he very benevolently married for love;
but took care to remind her of the obligation, when she dared, in the slightest
instance, to question his absolute authority. My eldest brother, it is true, as he
grew up, was treated with more respect by my father; and became in due form
the deputy-tyrant of the house. The representative of my father, a being
privileged by nature--a boy, and the darling of my mother, he did not fail to act
like an heir apparent. Such indeed was my mother's extravagant partiality, that, in
comparison with her affection for him, she might be said not to love the rest of
her children. Yet none of the children seemed to have so little affection for her.
Extreme indulgence had rendered him so selfish, that he only thought of himself;
 
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