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About four years ago, passing a few days with the highly educated daughters of some friends in this neighbourhood, I found domesticated in the family a young lady, whom I shall call as they called her, Cousin Mary. She was about eighteen, not beautiful perhaps, but lovely certainly to the fullest extent of that loveliest word-as fresh as a rose; as fair as a lily; with lips like winter berries, dimpled, smiling lips ; and eyes of which nobody could tell the colour, they danced so incessantly in their own gay, light. Her figure was tall, round, and slender; exquisitely well proportioned it must have been, for in all attitudes, (and in her innocent gaiety, she was scarcely ever two minutes in the same) she was grace itself. She was, in short, the very picture of youth, health, and happiness. No one could see her without being prepossessed in her favour. I took a fancy to her the moment she entered the room ; and it increased every hour in spite of, or rather perhaps for, certain de
ficiencies, which caused poor Cousin Mary to be held exceedingly cheap by her accomplished relatives.
She was the youngest daughter of an officer of rank, dead long ago ; and his sickly widow having lost by death, or that other death, marriage, all her children but this, could not, from very fondness, resolve to part with her darling for the purpose of acquiring the commonest instruction. She talked of it, indeed, now and then, but she only talked ; so that, in this age of universal education, Mary C. at eighteen exhibited the extraordinary phenomenon of a young woman of high family, whose acquirements were limited to reading, writing, needle-work, and the first rules of arithmetic. The effect of this let-alone system, combined with a careful seclusion from all improper society, and a perfect liberty in her country rambles, acting upon a mind of great power and activity, was the very reverse of what might have been predicted. It had produced not merely a delightful freshness and originality of manner and character, a piquant ignorance of those things of which one is tired to death, but knowledge, positive, accurate, and various knowledge. She was, to be sure, wholly unaccomplished; knew nothing of quadrilles, though her every motion was dancing; nor a note of music, though she used to warble like a bird sweet snatches of old songs, as she skipped up and down the house ;
nor of painting, except as her taste had been formed by a minute acquaintance with nature into an intense feeling of art. She had that real extra sense, an eye for colour, too, as well as an ear for music. Not one in twenty-not one in a hundred of our sketching and copying ladies could love and appreciate a picture where there was colour and mind, a picture by Claude, or by our English Claudes Wilson and Hoffland, as she could—for she loved landscape best, because she understood it best-it was a portrait of which she knew the original. Then her needle was in her hands almost a pencil. I never knew such an embroidressshe would sit “ printing her thoughts on lawn," till the delicate creation vied with the snowy tracery, the fantastic carving of hoar frost, the richness of Gothic architecture, or of that which so much resembles it, the luxuriant fancy of old point lace. That was her only accomplishment, and a rare artist she was-muslin and net were her canvas. She had no French either, not a word; no Italian ; but then her English was racy, unhackneyed, proper to the thought to a degree that only original thinking could give. She had not much reading, except of the Bible and Shakspeare, and Richardson's novels, in which she was learned ; but then her powers of observation were sharpened and quickened, in a very unusual degree, by the leisure and opportunity afforded for their de
velopement, at a time of life when they are most acute. She had nothing to distract her mind. Her attention was always awake and alive. She was an excellent and curious naturalist, merely because she had gone into the fields with her eyes open ; and knew all the details of rural management, domestic or agricultural, as well as the peculiar habits and modes of thinking of the peasantry, simply because she had lived in the country, and made use of her ears. Then she was fanciful, recollective, new ; drew her images from the real objects, not from their shadows in books. In short, to listen to her, and the young ladies her companions, who, accomplished to the height, had trodden the education-mill till they all moved in one step, had lost sense in sound, and ideas in words, was enough to make us turn masters and governesses out of doors, and leave our daughters and grand-daughters to Mrs. C.'s system of non-instruction. I should have liked to meet with another specimen, just to ascertain whether the peculiar charm and advantage arose from the quick and active mind of this fair Ignorant, or was really the natural and inevitable result of the training ; but, alas ! to find more than one unaccomplished young lady, in this accomplished age, is not to be hoped for. So I admired and envied ; and her fair kinswomen pitied and scorned, and tried to teach ; and Mary, never made for a learner, and as full of animal spirits as a school-boy in the holidays, sang, and laughed, and skipped about from morning to night.
It must be confessed, as a counter-balance to her other perfections, that the dear Cousin Mary was, as far as great natural modesty and an occasional touch of shyness would let her, the least in the world of a romp! She loved to toss about children, to jump over stiles, to scramble through hedges, to climb trees ; and some of her knowledge of plants and birds may certainly have arisen from her delight in these boyish amusements. And which of us has not found that the strongest, the healthiest, and most flourishing acquirement has arisen from pleasure or accident, has been in a manner selfsown, like an oak of the forest ?-Oh she was a sad romp; as skittish as a wild colt, as uncertain as a butterfly, as uncatchable as a swallow! But her great personal beauty, the charm, grace, and lightness of her movements, and above all, her evident innocence of heart, were bribes to indulgence which no one could withstand. I never heard her blamed by any human being. The perfect unrestraint of her attitudes, and the exquisite symmetry of her form, would have rendered her an invaluable study for a painter. Her daily doings would have formed a series of pictures. I have seen her scudding through a shallow rivulet, with her petticoats caught up just a little above the ancle, like a young' Diana, and a bounding, skimming, enjoying