Fragment. Eliza Gould at the Squire’s in Kempston to Mrs. John Gould at Dodbrook [fall of 1798].
My dear Mother
I comply immediately with your request—& I am exceedingly sorry that my silence has occassioned you so much uneasiness. I have day after day for a long time past intended & indeed attempted to write you but my time is so completely occupied as to preclude the possibility of my saying what I wish to say in a short period. I have much to tell you on one account and another—& for this reason have defer’d writing longer than I ought—hoping to find a better opportunity. I will however begin a letter & fill it at intervales & in the course of a fortnight I hope to transmit to my dear parents some interesting communications to enter upon which now would mutilate my subject.
I am much pleased to hear you are all well & glad to find that my dear father has not forgotten the art of writing—his metaphors are always striking & appropriate & require but a few of the embellishments of style to render them beautiful.
I wish you could any where borrow Blairs Lectures on the Belles Lettres[ii] for Mary—it would improve her in the art of English composition beyond any thing. I hope you will make a clever girl of Mary & [illegible] so much depends on it for from their situation in life & their habits of intercourse with very genteel society it is highly necessary the manners of the child should win a little of its polish—tho I am very far from recommending a too assiduous attention to the rules of modern politeness. I despise the systems & am hurt at its being introduced as a branch of female education in too many of our Seminaries—but the eye of reason is I trust expanding & mankind I hope will discover the fallacy of sacrificing the Charms & graces of Sincerity to the Shrine of affectation & artificial civility in which the heart has no shame into which no benevolent feelings enter. But when love (says a favourite author of mine) is without dissimulation—when complaisence appears to spring from a sincere desire to please—when the kind affections are the fountains from whence it flows however destitute of artificial grace however defective in delivery of language & in elegance of carriage it is infinitely more pleasing than that which is studied & assumed. I would not have you from hence infer that I am an advocate for a perfect inattention to the rules of behaviour a genteel address is pleasing & recommendatory & in a degree ought to be attended to but it should spring from a benevolent desire to contribute to the ease & happiness of those around us & I think the best way of instructing a child in the rules of politeness is to cherish the kind affections, watch them as they form in the infant mind & bestow on them that culture bent instead on the nature of the soul. How good to be grateful and we will never ...
Text: Timothy Whelan, ed., Politics, Religion, and Romance: The Letters of Benjamin Flower and Eliza Gould, 1794-1808 (Aberystywth: National Library of Wales, 2008), pp. 39-40.
 The Goulds moved to Dodbrook, Devon, in late 1796 or early 1797.
 Hugh Blair’s Lectures on rhetoric and belles lettres, first published in London in 1783, appeared in eight editions in London and America by 1798.