In short, Miss Jacky was all over sense. A skilful physiognomist would, at a single glance, have detected the sensible woman, in the erect head, the compressed lips, square elbows, and firm judicious step. Even her very garments seemed to partake of the prevailing character of their mistress: her ruff always looked more sensible than any other body’s; her shawl sat most sensibly on her shoulders; her walking shoes were acknowledged to be very sensible; and she drew on her gloves with an air of sense, as if the one arm had been Seneca, the other Socrates. From what has been said it may easily be inferred that Miss Jacky was in fact anything but a sensible woman; as indeed no woman can be who bears such visible outward marks of what is in reality the most quiet and unostentatious of all good qualities. But there is a spurious sense, which passes equally well with the multitude; it is easily assumed, and still more easily maintained; common truths and a grave dictatorial air being all that is necessary for its support.
Miss Grizzy’s character will not admit of so long a commentary as that of her sister. She was merely distinguishable from nothing by her simple good nature, the inextricable entanglement of her thoughts, her love of letter-writing, and her friendship with Lady Maclaughlan. Miss Nicky had about as much sense as Miss Jacky; but, as no kingdom can maintain two kings, so no family can admit of two sensible women; and Nicky was therefore obliged to confine hers to the narrowest possible channels of housekeeping, mantua-making, etc., and to sit down for life (or at least till Miss Jacky should be married) with the dubious character of “not wanting for sense either.” With all these little peccadilloes the sisters possessed some good properties. They were well-meaning, kind-hearted, and, upon the whole, good-tempered they loved one another, revered their brother, doated upon their nephews and nieces, took a lively interest in the poorest of their poor cousins, a hundred degrees removed, and had a firm conviction of the perfectibility of human nature, as exemplified in the persons of all their own friends. “Even their failings leaned to virtue’s side;” for whatever they did was with the intention of doing good, though the means they made use of generally produced an opposite effect. But there are so many Miss Douglases in the world that doubtless everyone of my readers is as well acquainted with them as I am myself. I shall therefore leave them to finish the picture according to their ideas, while I return to the parlour, where the worthy spinsters are seated in expectation of the arrival of their friend.
Not equal, as their sex not equal seemed—
For contemplation he, and valour formed;
For softness she, and sweet attractive grace.”
“WHAT can have come over Lady Maclaughlan?” said Miss Grizzy, as she sat at the window in a dejected attitude.