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The Household. A Fragment.

AN odd request this, yet I have
nothing but alacrity in an-
swering it. I will give you, but
very briefly—just now I cannot,
if I would, be prolix—I will give
you the history of them all, and
so, to begin:

My family consists of four per-
sons besides myself. At the head
of it is Mrs. Elgar, a grave and se-
date person, upwards of forty.

She was the daughter of a shoe-
maker at Bath, who carried on
large business; an only daughter.
She married, at an early age, Tho-
mas Elgar, originally a parish boy,
charitably taken by her father, and
gratuitously trained to his business.
The lad behaved so well that when
of age, his master transferred to
him the superintendance of the
workmen, and finally gave him his
daughter, together with all his busi-
ness, while he himself, growing
into years and infirmity, withdrew
from the cares of his profession.

For a few years after marriage
Elgar did very well, but gradually
he became inspired with insuitable
ambition, left off his trade, became
a malcontent politician, launched

out into expensive living, by which
his character and fortune were im-
paired, and, indeed, his personal
safety endangered.

On leaving business he removed
to London, and became a revolu-
tionist and demagogue. Finally,
he thought proper to remove to

Instead of profitably employing
the remains of his fortune in es-
tablishing himself in some trade in
the city, or on some farm in the
western country, he idled months
and years away in strolling through
the streets, reading newspapers, and
discussing the merits of ambassa-
dors and treaties. At last, in 1795,
the yellow fever overtook him, and
he died, leaving his wife with a
slender pittance, which, in a twelve
month, was consumed. She also
was sick, and her recovery was te-
dious and expensive.

She is an uneducated woman,
but has good sense and lively feel-
ings, and very skilful in household
management. I knew her first at
Bath, and heard a very favourable
account of her domestic qualities.
Her husband's character and situa-
tion were known to me at that
time, and I had great compassion

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for her. I saw and heard nothing
more of them, from my leaving
England for Italy, till the winter
after my coming hither. I want-
ed some sewing done, and inquir-
ed for a suitable person of Mrs.
Wemyss, who directed me to Mrs.
Elgar. I went to see her forthwith,
and you may think I was surprised
on meeting with my old acquaint-
ance in an obscure street and very
mean lodging. I soon found her
situation to be inconvenient, if
not distressful, and did all in my
power to alleviate it.

When I came to this house, I
invited her to take charge of it, on
terms which she gratefully accept-
ed. I have no reason to regret my
proceeding, for I have found in
her a sweet, placid, and modest
disposition; neat, diligent, metho-
dical, of strict integrity, fully mis-
tress of the household science, and
studious to oblige me.

She is not one whom I should
seek for a companion. She has
little curiosity, and few ideas in
common with me. She is sensible,
too much so, of inferiority and ob-
ligation, and is, therefore, never
forward or talkative. She has her
own apartments, in which, when I
want her, I must seek her; and she
receives my advances not ungrace-

I hope I behave to her in no im-
proper manner. Her own proprie-
ties of conduct, as well as my jus-
tice, preserve us from all cavillings
and disgusts. I respect her much,
and my behaviour indicates it.
There are different apartments, and
occupations, and tastes, but, strict-
ly speaking, there is no inequality
between us.

She oversees the chamber and
the kitchen. She directs and notes
the execution of every duty within
doors, and goes to market, and
takes care that there is a seasonable
supply of all kinds of provision.
She carefully preserves an account

of all expenses, and renders it to
me every fortnight, at which time
I give her the sum necessary for
the ensuing fortnight, and pay off
every bill, undischarged by her at
the time.

She contrives to be busy through
the day, has very few acquaintances,
and seldom visits oftener than twice
or thrice a year. No curiosity or love
of recreation leads her abroad. She
goes only when business calls; at
other times is always at home.

She is never idle. If not stirring
about, she is at her needle, where
lies her great skill, and which she
plies with diligence. She works
for herself and for me. She takes
great pleasure in it, and having time
enough, thinks herself obliged by
the permission to be my seamstress.
In adjusting her wages, however, I
take this service into the account.

She wants no remuneration but
what, in addition to lodging and
board, will defray the expenses of
dress. However, I give her three
hundred dollars a year, nine tenths
of which she insists upon my keep-
ing for her. I take care that, should
any accident happen, my debt to
her shall be easily established; but,
whether I die or live, indeed, I
have so managed that she shall never

Under her are two girls, one of
whom attends the kitchen, and the
other the chambers. One bakes,
and boils, and keeps the kettles and
the hearth in order; the other makes
beds, sweeps, and rubs; and both
together, with a good woman from
abroad, are my laundresses.

They are sisters. Jane and
Hannah, one about twenty-two,
and the other a year and an half
younger. Plain, as you know, in
face, but of aspects not vulgar, and
genteel in person. I have much
concern for them, and am at some
pains to keep them within discreet

They are emigrants, like Mrs.

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Elgar. Their father was a taylor,
who lived a good while on the hard
and scanty earnings of a journey-
man, at Manchester. At length
he scraped enough together to bring
him, his wife, and two daughters to
this land of golden promise to the

He still pursued his old vocation,
and, though meanly, was able to
live much better than at home.
Staunton mentioned the family first
to me, at a time when an autumnal
fever had made lamentable havock
on the constitution and purse of
poor Knowles. He described the
wife as modest, well-looking, and
neat; and the daughters as grown-
up girls, whose mode of life could
not be favourable to the formation
of good habits. They added to the
burthen already too heavy for their

I went to see them. I found
their house indigent, but clean.
The girls not unprepossessing in
their countenance and guise, and,
as yet, evidently unspoilt by evil
communication. I was very ear-
nest to benefit this family in some
way, but hardly knew how.

The mother was enured to la-
borious habits, and wanted to do
something; so I made her my laun-
dress. I could think of nothing
better for the girls, but to get them
service in some liberal and decent

While looking out for some such
family, the plague of 1798 invaded
us, so that I could do nothing then
but help them to leave the city. I
provided them a cottage a few miles
from the Jersey shore, and took
care that they should not want while
obliged to be idle.

On my return, having to provide
an household of my own, I thought
of Hannah and Jenny, and deter-
mined to take them under my own
care. My mode of living, and the
duties of my house, had little re-
semblance to the life they had al-

ways led, but I hoped to find them
docile. I confided in my house-
keeper's patience and skill; and
believed, that under her and my
direction, they would soon be qua-
lified to do as I would have them.

Their conduct has not been fault-
less, and has given me some uneasi-
ness and trouble; but it has been
much less faulty, and their intel-
lects are less torpid than their early
education had taught me to expect.
I looked to find in them a spirit
more unmanagable, and tempers
far more volatile and stubborn than
I have found.

I expect not wonders from any
system of treatment which I can
adopt, but I do not question my
power to make them ultimately
worthy and respectable women.

At least, I have great delight in
seeing the advantages of their pre-
sent situation over their former
one. Their security from vice,
their personal ease, their vivacity
are absolute under this roof, and
they know that my kindness will
not be confined to them merely
while living with me.

It was easy to make up such a
fund among my friends as has
changed Knowles from a journey-
man into a master workman. You,
as well as many others, have had
experience of his punctuality and
skill, and I doubt not, but that, in
time, he will become a useful and
substantial citizen. The honest
couple have much confidence in
my discreet government, and are
very anxious that their girls should
remain with me, till they find hus-
bands to their minds; and I hope
they may, for they suit me better
than one in an hundred others
would be likely to do.

Lucy Franks has no stated em-
ployment of an household nature.
Her duty is to take care of my lit-
tle girl; to dress and undress her;
to sleep with her; to walk with her;
to sport with her; and, in some

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sort, to instruct her in a thousand
things useful to be known.

Lucy's history is not an ordinary
tale. Her father was a Frenchman
by descent, but being born and na-
turalized in Tuscany, changed his
name from Francois, to Franccini.
His trade was that of a musician,
and his dwelling place was Leghorn.
He married a Sienese girl, and
quickly had a family of five daugh-

He played at operas and private
concerts, and made out to live.
He was thoughtless and imprudent,
and the gains of the year were gene-
rally consumed at the end of it.
As to his children, he treated them
with good nature, but had neither
the will nor the power to provide
them a proper education. Hearing
nothing but their father's Oboe at
home, they insensibly contracted
musical inclinations, and as soon
as their fingers became flexible
enough, were seated, all day long,
at the harp and the cembalo.

He died in the vigour of his age,
and left his wife to support a burthen,
in the maintenance of his family,
to which she was wholly unequal.
At this time, Lucia, the eldest daugh-
ter, was thirteen years of age, tall
and extremely beautiful.

This girl had been the pride of
her father, and he built great hopes
upon her beauty and accomplish-
ments. His notions, however, of
what was desirable and fitting for
his daughter, were such as are only
to be found in Italy.

Her parents wanted her to be
skilled in dancing, music, and the
theatrical art, not merely for the
sake of gaining riches and fame up-
on the stage, but to secure a gain-
ful establishment of a different
kind. I mean not marriage. The
passions of the other sex they wish-
ed to be subservient to their girl's
views, but they cared not whether
marriage sanctioned the intercourse
or not. Such are Italian morals.

The mother's necessities made
her look out for a purchaser of the
daughter's beauty earlier than she
would otherwise have done. A
young and dissolute traveller from
England, having seen the victim,
and discovering the mother's cha-
racter, hastened to strike a bargain.

I was, at that time, on a visit to
Leghorn, to the family of an Eng-
lish merchant. We were some-
times visited by this English youth,
and others of his countrymen. The
frequency of such bargains as I have
described, and the little disgrace
annexed to them by the customs of
the country, made the parties very
little solicitous for secrecy, so that
the intended transfer was easily dis-

I confess my indignation and
my pity were greatly excited by
this discovery. These emotions
were enhanced by a private visit
which I made to the signorella. I
found her just rising into youth,
lovely, innocent, and void of ap-
prehension as of guilt, a fancy
sprightly and active, and an heart
confiding and affectionate, and evi-
dently formed for a sphere different
from that in which she seemed des-
tined to move. I was determined
to save her from the ruin that
threatened her, yet the suitable
means did not readily occur to me.
I was a good deal perplexed in what
manner to act.

I told the story, and disclosed
my wishes and perplexities in a
letter to my father, who was then
at Pisa. He applauded my resolu-
tions, and directed me in what
manner to proceed to effect them.

By his advice, I again visited the
mother and daughter, and profess-
ing to have formed a great attach-
ment for the girl, expressed my
anxious wishes that she might be
allowed to take up her abode with
me. To enforce this request, I
offered, in order to compensate the
mother for the absence of her child,

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a sum, not considerable in itself,
but much larger than she had bar-
gained to receive from another

This unhappy woman listened
eagerly to my proposal, professed
much love for her child, and much
gratitude to one who offered thus to
take charge of the girl's future wel-
fare and subsistence, but declined
an immediate determination. This
delay I soon found to arise from the
view of raising the price of her
daughter's honour to the English-
man, by mentioning it to him, and,
perhaps, exaggerating my proposals.

By dint of importunity, however,
by raising my offers, and by re-
monstrating with her on the guilt
of her designs, and the misery to
which her child might be reserved
by accompanying a foreigner to an
unknown land, and particularly to
a land of heretics, where her reli-
gious faith
would be in extreme
danger of perversion, I at length
prevailed with her. I had previ-
ously won the heart of the pliant
and simple girl, and made her a
warm advocate of my scheme. I
immediately carried her away with
me to Florence.

This girl's accomplishments were
such as to set her on a level with
females of her age of any rank.
Few daughters, perhaps, of Dukes
and Marquisses, had a mind more
elevated above meanness; but I did
not receive her as my equal or my
friend. Her birth and poverty
were supposed not to place her
higher than a decent service in an
affluent family; and it was as my
personal or favourite attendant
merely that I received her from the
hands of her mother.

In this situation she was now
placed. Few of its toils were al-
lotted to her, but every familiarity
on my side was to be regarded as a
condescention, and every liberal or
pleasurable pursuit in her, was to

be numbered among occasional in-

She found in me a solicitude and
fondness little short of what a mother
might feel. I was then new to the
Italian language, and found great
profit in conversing with one who
had been taught elocution as an art,
and who was mistress of all the
Tuscan graces. Useful knowledge
I imagined to be no wise inconsist-
ent with any business or station in
life; and I endeavoured, by talk
and by books, to endow her mind
with right principles.

She is now nineteen years of age,
and time has not fulfilled all the
promises of beauty which appeared
at thirteen; but still, she is a
charming creature. My age, and
my treatment of her, make her re-
gard me with as much reverence as
love. Her attachment cannot, I
think, be exceeded; and long habit,
as well as her intrinsic merit, has
made her indispensible to my happi-
ness. My little girl has been her
charge ever since its birth, and any
mishap befalling it, I verily believe,
would cost Lucy a sharper pang
than it would cost me.

The child and she are always to-
gether; of course, she is frequently
in my company. When without
visitants, she eats and drinks with
me. She is frequently my ama-
nuensis and my reader, and I talk
and sew with her.

Her dress is much less costly and
shewy than mine, but, if custom
did not require this difference from
us, my taste would never have sug-
gested it. I delight to see her na-
tive graces set off with elegant sim-
plicity, and I make her dress just
as I would dress myself did I not
think some regard proper to be paid
to custom and general opinion.

You have asked me what I wish
or expect to be the future destiny
of Lucy, and I scarcely know how
to answer. There can be but one

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event which can separate us, and
that is her marriage; but her per-
fect artlessness, her shyness and
timidity to all persons of your sex,
seems an insuperable bar to the
forming of that kind of connection.
She is so accustomed to regard her-
self as nothing in society, and
shrinks so much into herself, and
into a corner when visitants enter,
that she is not likely to be known
beyond the family.

She has an excellent acquaint-
ance with English, and understands
all that is said in her hearing; but
she will seldom dare to speak Eng-
lish to a stranger. She has a trem-
bling consciousness of imperfec-
tion in this respect, which hinders
her from making the attempt.

I confess that I am not displeased
with these timorous reserves. She
is not unhappy with them. They
concenter, as it were, her thoughts
and affections to me and to my
child. They maintain that spot-
less and untarnished purity of mind,
that almost infantile innocence
which has ever distinguished her.

To me she has no reserves.
Her heart is always open to my
scrutiny; open to its innermost re-
cesses. We talk together very
much, all in her own charming
dialect, in whose praise you know
how much of an enthusiast I am.
In itself, but especially from her
lips, it is only well regulated music.

I talk with no other as I talk
with her. There is a set of objects
and ideas limited to us alone. It is
not narrative or reasoning. It is
pure talk; the uttering all that
comes, be it coherent or vague,
doubtful or true. It answers more
perfectly than any thing else I ever
met with, to what may be called
thinking aloud; partly owing to
our having shared together the ad-
ventures and afflictions of so many
past years; partly to the sympathy
of feelings in the same object, for
my child knows no difference be-

tween its mother and its nurse, but
that one talks English, and the
other Siennese to her; but partly
too, it rises, I imagine, from that
flexile and fluid language that we
always use.

So long residence in Italy, has
made me know it better than my
native English; at least, I utter it
more promptly. 'Tis a vocal lapse,
whose celerity, like that of a down-
ward stream, needs no foreign im-
pulse to enable it to keep its tenour.
In talking it, I seem to feed on
thoughts that voluntary move
to the

But the chief delights of this in-
tercourse flow from her exertions,
and not mine. She is my only
and my favourite musician; but
that is not all; she is also my re-
hearser. When I want poetry, I
find it in her voice or her memory.
Like Italians, educated as she has
been, she has most of the popular
epics and dramas by rote; and these
she sings or says to me just as my
humour directs. I can image to
myself no gratification of the senses
or fancy greater than what her mu-
sic and her recitations afford me.

I love her—but I want the words
to say how much. I am proud of
her, and of myself, when I think
of my relation to her. O, my
friend! this creature is a precious
deposit, intrusted to my charge by
heaven, and never shall I prove
faithless to the trust.

Such is my family. All females
you perceive. I want no man about
me. In that respect, I would have
my house to be a convent, and I to
be the mistress of it. Here I can
reign without scruple; but to go-
vern men was never my province.

You may well believe that I am
happy in the midst of such a fami-
ly, and I am so, but far more than
you can imagine. You can only
have a glimpse of that delightful
spectacle of which I have a full
view. Besides, the present scene

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is the close of a very long series of
turbulences and trials, the contrast
of which, to my present safety and
repose, contributes to enhance their

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