Pieces from “The Female Adviser” appeared in four issues of The Juvenile Magazine, published in England in 1788. The “Adviser” concerned herself with female behavior, promoting a standard that many may have found difficult to attain. Obedience to parents was important, but it needed to be for the right reason: the daughter obedient because she loves her mother is more praiseworthy than the one—reared by an uncle and aunt—who is obedient out of duty. A young woman—even a young teenager—should be diffident and silent at gatherings. Confidence was weakness in a woman.

The second of the two pieces here appeared in Children’s Magazine, the first American children’s periodical, published in 1789. The first piece could have been reprinted in the February issue, but wasn’t. The second appears in the March issue, but is incomplete in the Children’s Magazine. The other pieces by “The Female Adviser” were published in the August and September issues of The Juvenile Magazine; because the Children’s Magazine ended its brief run long before it would have reprinted them, they aren’t transcribed here.

“The Female Adviser” (from The Juvenile Magazine, London, February 1788; pp. 86-93)
To the
of the



A large seminary for the youth of my own sex, has, for twenty-eight years, engrossed my attention. I have experienced the happiness of conducting a succession of young ladies, distinguished for brilliant accomplishments and a-

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miable manners, to maturity: and having now transferred my authority to their parents, and respective friends, I have retired, to pass the remainder of my days in that quiet privacy which my declining years require; but I find that habits of long continuance are not easily shaken off; I still retain the same anxious solicitude for the welfare of youth as formerly; I see with equal pain the vice or folly which sullies the brightness of a female character, and am equally desirous to give the mild rebuke, and the approving commendation.

With your permission, therefore, I shall avail myself of the Juvenile Magazine to convey some hints to your young Readers, particularly the female part, under the title of The Female Adviser, which may not prove unworthy their attention; as the experience of fifty years, together with an extensive acquaintance, may enable me to illustrate my observations which some anecdotes that will probably both instruct and entertain them.

The subject of my present consideration shall be, the duty which is due from a child toward its parent; much has, I confess, been said on this subject; but such is the importance of filial duty, that it cannot be too strongly, or too frequently enforced. She who is destitute of this virtue, may justly, in my opinion, be considered as a monster in nature; and though I should hope that there are few, very few, who come under that denomination; yet I am

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fearful that many possess filial duty but in a small degree; for it is possible to be obedient and not affectionate; and affectionate, (though this less frequently happens and not obedient. In a good child obedience and affection must be united, or the character is incomplete.

Mrs. Marlow, an intimate friend of mine, was, about a year and a half ago, left a widow with three daughters, Louisa, Emily, and Maria. As I am frequently a visitant at her house, I have an opportunity of observing the different dispositions of these young ladies.

Louisa is, at this time, about fourteen years of age; and, till the death of her father, was bred up with an uncle and aunt, who entirely took the care of her education. She is possessed of an excellent understanding, which has been cultivated with the utmost care, and is strictly an adherent to truth; for no circumstance whatever will induce her to conceal an error by falshood. [sic] There is besides, a generosity in her temper that is really worthy of esteem and imitation; but her virtues seem all of the masculine kind: She is an utter stranger to that sensibility of heart, that softness of manners which diffuse an irresistible charm to every part of the female character.

Louisa returned home with the highest sense of the reverence and obedience she owed to her mother; but it appeared to result from principle rather than from affection. Louisa’s obedience seems to say, You are my mother; it is

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therefore my duty to obey you; not, You are the parent who has fostered, who has protected, who has watched over my infancy with such sleepless anxiety: what return can I make for such tenderness! such attention! What can I do to express my gratitude and love?

Her mother’s commands are to Louisa ever sacred; she was never known to disobey them, or to utter a disrespectful expression; but as this conduct originates from a sense of duty rather than the emotions of love, she is a stranger to those little tender assiduities which spring only from the latter. The attention which she shows to her mother, being an effort of reason, rather than an overflowing of natural affection, frequently gives that obedience, which, whatever the motive, is certainly praise-worthy, an air of ostentation.

Emily, the second daughter of my friend, is totally unlike her elder sister, Louisa: she professes to be solely actuated by a principle of love: she imagines that she loves her mother beyond any thing in the world: I, likewise, am of her opinion, if we except only herself; but as Emily will not sacrifice her own caprice and whim, to promote the happiness of her Mamma, I cannot stretch my faith further, than to believe, that she loves her the next best to herself.

What Emily gives as proofs of affection, are constantly the source of trouble and uneasiness to her mother. Though she is now twelve years of age, she positively refuses to go to bed, unless Mrs.

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Marlow is present during the time the maid is undressing her; nor would she, till last year, when she was sent to boarding-school, on any occasion, let it be ever so pressing, consent to sleep out of her mother’s apartment. In company, she continually reders herself ridiculous, by endeavouring wholly to engross the attention of her Mamma; and if she happens to have made a party, where it is inconvenient for Emily to be one, Emily never ceases her importunities, till Mrs. Marlow, who is but too indulgent a mother, has consented, either to take her, or, if that be absolutely improper, to break her appointment, and stay at home. This is what Emily tells you, is giving the most indisputable proofs of filial affection. Nor does she attempt to deceive others more than she deceives herself.

Poor girl! how I pity her! she has by nature a tender and compassionate heart; and, abstracted from this foible, is really amiable.

In the sweet Maria, who is now only between nine and ten years of age, the pleasing part of her sister’s characters unite. Her obedience is the natural consequence of her affection: though so young, she is the companion and the friend of her Mamma; her behaviour is always tender, respectful, and modest; but should she inadvertently incur the censure or reproof of her Mamma, far from resenting a harsh word or hasty expression, by an impertinent answer, which, with Louisa, notwithstanding all

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her boasted fondness, is frequently the case; Maria receives the admonition with silent deference, or acknowledges her fault, and promises to amend in future: which promise is always fulfilled by a double portion of diligence.

Without being impertinently assiduous, or appearing to be more attentive than usual, Maria is ever on the watch for an opportunity to oblige and give sat[i]sfaction to her mother; every action of her life seems to tend to this one grand point. If she dance, sing, or play the harpsichord, all which, from her diligence, she does to perfection, and receives the general applause of the company, though she pays a well-bred attention to their compliments, her eye naturally rests on her mother; anxiously solicitous for her smile of approbation, from which she receives more real pleasure than she would from the united admiration of the whole world.

Some time ago, Mrs. Marlow had a severe fit of sickness; Emily was inconsolable; it was not possible, but by force, to keep her from the apartment of her mother; and when permitted to be there, so regardless was she of the consequences, as to give way to the most violent emotions of her grief. But I could not help observing, the fear which she was really in of losing her Mamma, did not prevent Emily from committing many faults during the time that Mrs. Marlow was confined to her chamber, which she was conscious would have

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displeased and made her unhappy, had she been present.

Louisa, on the other hand, still persevered in that implicit obedience which she ever pays to her mother’s commands; but as affection had little part in it, she omitted those tender assiduities, which, from a child toward a parent, are the most powerful alleviations.

This omission was, however, amply supplied by Maria; who, on the melancholy occasion, redoubled her tenderness: with a heart almost breaking, I have seen the dear child in the presence of her mother, appear all cheerfulness and composure, lest by grief she should give her the least uneasiness. Maria entirely withdrew from her young companions, and bade adieu to her childish sports, during the illness of her mother, to whom, when so far recovered as to admit of such amusement, she read, whilst her elder sister was busied about the affairs of the family.

As Mrs. Marlow’s indifferent state of health, rendered her incapable of putting the finishing stroke to the education of her two younger daughters, she resolved on sending them, for a couple of years, to a boarding-school; where they have now been a twelvemonth. I happened to make a visit to my friend, for a few weeks in the Christmas holidays; the two girls were then at home, and during a fortnight, all went on extremely well; but as the time drew

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nigh, in which they were to return to school, Emily’s countenance became proportionably overcast, till at last nothing but watery eyes and sullen looks were to be seen; she was continually hanging on her Mamma’s neck, and wearying her out with importunities to permit them to remain longer at home; never considering, that while her affection prompted her to solicit the enjoyment of her Mamma’s society, she was endeavouring to purchase that pleasure by transgressing the perfect obedience which is due from every child toward a good parent: and by that means giving pain to a mother, whom she ought above all things to aim at pleasing.

Maria’s conduct was otherwise; she was, as usual, content to express her affection for her Mamma, by a ready compliance with all her desires; she was indeed sensibly affected at parting from a mother whom she tenderly loves, but consoled herself with the idea of the pleasure she should give to that mother, by closely applying to her exercises, and attending to the instructions of her Governess and Masters: supported by these reflections, she never suffered an expression of discontent to escape her, but departed for school with the same cheerfulness and alacrity as she left it.

I will now, Madam, conclude, leaving your young readers to determine which of the above characters is the most worthy of imitation.


“The Female Adviser” (from The Juvenile Magazine, London, March 1788; pp. 150-155)
To the
of the



Can there be any thing more disgusting in a young female than an unbecoming forwardness of behaviour, which we must always attribute to the high opinion she entertains of herself?—Sorry am I to add, that I am acquainted with one of this description.

The young lady I allude to, whose real name I will conceal under that of Caroline, is about the age of fourteen; she has been liberally educated; but from her inattention is not mistress of any one accomplishment, though she has a superficial knowledge of many. The consequence of this is, that Caroline, like the generality of people who know but little, fancies that she knows a great deal. She believes herself perfectly accomplished, and is at great pains to make others likewise believe so; but, unfortunately, these efforts generally produce the contrary effect.

Some days ago, Caroline went with her Mamma, to visit an amiable lady, to whom I likewise was a guest. Several ladies and gentlemen of abilities were also of the party, which caused the conversation to turn principally on literature. The beauties and defects of different authors were discussed: Caroline, instead of attending to, and profiting by the discourse, continually broke

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the thread of it, by some ridiculous remark, generally foreign to the subject, which not only discovered her ill-breeding, but convinced every one present of her ignorance.

Pray, Sir, said she, interrupting a gentleman who was obliging the company with some very pertinent observations on a celebrated author, Did you ever read the Fortunate Country Maid? The gentleman replied, that he had not; and was preparing to resume his discourse, when Caroline rejoined—I think it extremely pretty. The gentleman made no answer, but once more addressed himself to the company.

In a few minutes, Caroline, who was miserable at being excluded from bearing a part in the conversation, interrupted him in this manner: I have heard, that there is a new novel published—let me consider—what was the name of it—O, now I recollect! it is Letters from Sophia to Amelia. Pray, Sir, have you seen it?

The gentleman, with great good-humour, replied, that he had not; and Caroline was proceeding to inquire, whether any of the company had read Cecilia? when I interrupted her, by observing, in a whisper, that a young lady’s best ornament is silence.

This, however, far from producing the effect I designed, only gave another theme for Caroline (who did not perceive that the observation was pointed at herself) to enlarge upon.

I am of your opinion, Madam, said the silly un-

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abashed girl; a young lady certainly ought to be silent, that is to say, if she be deficient in understanding. But I, continued she, am acquainted with a young lady, who, in company, is so silent and grave, that you would take her for a mute designed to walk at a funeral (here Caroline laughed at her own wit) and yet, said she, pursuing her discourse, though you will hardly believe me, she is really sensible, and converses well on any subject.

Perhaps, said I, you mean Miss M——? Caroline replied, that she did.

Then, Miss, returned I, you have mentioned a young lady whose conduct I would strongly recommend as an example to every other. Miss M—— is modest, sensible and well-bred; she is indeed always more happy to attend to the opinion of others, than to give her own; yet, when requested so to do, she utters her sentiments with a becoming confidence.

Caroline answered, that she could not see the use of sense and accomplishments, if we did not let others know that we possessed them.

The conversation once more became general, and various subjects were discussed; in all which Caroline did not fail to take a part, to the no small dissatisfaction of the company, who were continually interrupted by her ridiculous observations.

The discourse, at length turned on music; and Caroline, who had been taught it for some times, thought

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that she had now an opportunity of impressing the company with a high sense of her profound knowledge.

She now began to talk of the different composers and masters; to depreciate the merit of one, and to exalt that of another. The new airs and lessons were next enumerated, and praised or condemned according to the caprice of Caroline, for judgement she had gone.

You understand music, Miss Caroline? said the lady at whose house we were.

Yes, Madam, replied Caroline, with her usual confidence, I am mistress of it. I have been told, that for execution and taste few excel me.

The company then requested, that she would sit down to the harpsichord, there being one in the room; Caroline rejoiced at the thought of displaying any accomplishment she possessed, instantly complied; and not content with playing one lesson, and waiting for the approbation fo the company before she performed others, she repeated several, without intermission, and sung two or three songs, not in the least doubting, but that every one was delighted with her performance. This, alas! was not the case; for she played so much out of time, and so intolerably out of tune, that every one rejoiced when she rose from the instrument.

One of the company then inquired of Caroline, who was her music master?

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She replied Mr. C——; but added, that she did not implicitly adhere to his instructions; for that she was sensible her ear was so good that she need not trouble herself about the rules established for time, and tune, which her master teazed her so much about.

At length Caroline retired with her Mamma, to the inexpressible joy of the company, who were heartily weary of her impertinence and self-conceit.

Humility and diffidence (particularly in a female) add lustre to the most brilliant accomplishments; and where knowledge is wanting, will, in a great measure, atone for the defect: had Caroline been silent, at least on subjects of which she was incapable of speaking properly, she would not have discovered her ignorance; and, had she not betrayed her vanity, by pretending perfectly to understand a science, of which she knew but a small part, though her performance had not been admitted, the imperfections of it would, in a great degree, have been overlooked, in consideration of her youth and other amiable qualities; but Caroline’s inexcusable vanity justly subjected her performance to that minute criticism, and her conduct to that severe censure, which was, in her absence, so liberally bestowed on both.

For my part, I was concerned that a young lady, with the view of being admired, should expose herself to contempt and ridicule; and resolved, when I returned home,

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to send this account to the Juvenile Magazine, in the hope that the perusal of it might caution others to avoid a conduct so truly unamiable.


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