More Bywords eBook

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My Dear Charlotte,—­I find I shall need at least a month to get through the necessary business; so that I shall only have a week at last for my dear mother and the party collected at New Cove.  You will have ample time to decide which of the nieces shall be asked to accompany us, but you had better give no hint of the plan till you have studied them thoroughly.  After all the years that you have accompanied me on all my stations, you know how much depends on the young lady of our house being one able to make things pleasant to the strange varieties who will claim our hospitality in a place like Malta, yet not likely to flag if left in solitude with you.  She must be used enough to society to do the honours genially and gracefully, and not have her head turned by being the chief young lady in the place.  She ought to be well bred, if not high bred, enough to give a tone to the society of her contemporaries, and above all she must not flirt.  If I found flirtation going on with the officers, I should send her home on the spot.  Of course, all this means that she must have the only real spring of good breeding, and be a thoroughly good, religious, unselfish, right-minded girl; otherwise we should have to rue our scheme.  In spite of all you would do towards moulding and training a young maiden, there will be so many distractions and unavoidable counter-influences that the experiment would be too hazardous, unless there were a character and manners ready formed.  There ought likewise to be cultivation and intelligence to profit by the opportunities she will have.  I should not like Greece and Italy, to say nothing of Egypt and Palestine, to be only so much gape seed.  You must have an eye likewise to good temper, equal to cope with the various emergencies of travelling.  N.B.  You should have more than one in your eye, for probably the first choice will be of some one too precious to be attainable.—­ Your affectionate brother,

Edward Fulford.

Miss Fulford to sir Edward Fulford
1 shingle cottages, new cove, S. Clements, 30th June.

My Dear Edward,—­When Sydney Smith led Perfection to the Pea because the Pea would not come to Perfection, he could hardly have had such an ideal as yours.  Your intended niece is much like the ’not impossible she’ of a youth under twenty.  One comfort is that such is the blindness of your kind that you will imagine all these charms in whatever good, ladylike, simple-hearted girl I pitch upon, and such I am sure I shall find all my nieces.  The only difficulty will be in deciding, and that will be fixed by details of style, and the parents’ willingness to spare their child.

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