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friend of hers, and they pass much of their time together. There is a levity and coarseness about this lady, that, in spite of her goodhumour and gaiety, are very offensive to me; but Caroline resents, as a personal affront, any animadversions of mine on the subject.
In three months, my dear father and mother will be in town. How I long to find myself in their arms again! I feel as if I had been years, instead of a few weeks, absent from them ; and as if I had, during the period of our separation, existed in a cold and chilling atmosphere, that rendered the sunshine of their affection more
than ever dear, and vitally necessary, to your affectionate friend,
THE COUNTESS OF DELAWARD TO THE
COUNTESS OF ANNANDALE.
MY DEAREST Augusta, I have reflected long and deeply on your last letter. I feel the painful dilemma in which you are placed ; and, though I perfectly agree with you in thinking that it would be most agreeable, as well as most virtuous, to avoid all intercourse with women of whose vices we are not ignorant; still, in the present state of society, and, above all, with a husband who attaches so much importance to its suffrages, prudence inclines me to advise you to be content in refraining from all intimacy with the parties in question, and not occasion an esclandre, by shutting your doors wholly against them.
In large assemblies, persons meet very much as in the round room of the opera, Vauxhall, or any other public place of resort; and, though the contact may not be agreeable, it does not entail intimacy: a dignified courtesy of manners, equally removed from rudeness as from familiarity, will repel freedom, and preclude offence.
Let your reserve be attributed to domestic habits; to, in fact, any motive, rather than one so pregnant with danger to her who avows it, as a censure of the conduct of those who, conscious how justly it is merited, never forgive the inflicter, and revenge the implied slight by every means in their
power. Receive the ladies whose presence society still sanctions, though virtue disclaims them ; but receive them only in large parties, and avoid all approaches to intimacy with them. This sacrifice of your own feelings of propriety must be offered up to preserve peace with your husband, whose sentiments being totally opposed to yours, I fear there is no chance of inducing him to adopt your views.
Wholly to oppose his projects would be to embitter your home, or, perhaps, banish him from it; leaving him to the influence of those who, from your exclusion of them, would be most irritated against, and disposed to injure
The unfortunate intimacy of Miss Montressor with the Comtesse Hohenlinden increases
the difficulty of your position. Among all the women whose impropriety of conduct has served to throw an odium on the sex, there is not one whose career has been marked by a more unblushing perseverance in vice; or by a more open disregard for the appearances which, if they cannot redeem, at least conceal, its grossness, than this lady.
Her high birth and distinguished position have only tended to draw public attention still
more to the glaring errors that she takes, indeed, no pains to disguise. Hence, her being known to be a frequent visitor beneath your roof, must subject you to many disagreeable animadversions; and give cause of additional offence to any of, or all, the not more culpable ladies you exclude.
Under these circumstances, I would advise your candidly expressing your sentiments 10 Miss Montressor, with sufficient firmness to make her respect them.
You must be continually on your guard, my dearest Augusta, not to form habits of intimacy with any man, however amiable and good. This restriction is rendered indispensable by a state of society, in which the worst offenders are naturally the severest judges, for they estimate others by themselves ; and it is almost an axiom in human character, that it acquires suspicion in proportion as it loses