[iii] Solicitude for the welfare of one particular family, awakened in the author of the following Letters an interest for the rising generation; and a wish to contribute something which might, in a small degree, promote their improvement, has led to the publication of what was only intended for a very limited number.

Should the admirers of a Chapone, an Aikin, or a More, take up this little volume, with a disposition to make comparisons, or an expectation of finding similar excellencies, they will be entirely disappointed. [iv] Those authors have obtained, by singular merit, lasting approbation and distinguished praise; but their writings, being chiefly calculated for the higher classes, are not read by multitudes who need instruction: they, therefore, cannot possibly supersede the necessity of humbler works for humbler pupils. The present attempt aims only at instructing a lower order, and combining a few plain, but important truths, in a form less offensive to the young than that of a sytematic [sic] treatise, and less seductive than that of an alluring tale. Notwithstanding the number of excellent sentiments scattered throughout the many ingenious fictions intended for youth, not a few judicious parents disapprove the frequent recurrence to such works; considering them as a species of novels, read with avidity on account of the incident, but discarded [v] when the event is known; and tending chiefly to amuse the fancy, and excite a taste for adventure. How far a writer who has no claims to public attention, may succeed, by presuming to offer instruction in a plainer garb, must be left to others to determine. Equally remote from the literary and the great, she has no patronage to encourage, no solicitations to stimulate her attempt; yet, to the retired, amiable, anxious mother, she ventures to look with a hope of approbation; and should the endeavours of one such parent be aided by this effort, she will be thankful not to have lived wholly in vain.

If, however, contempt alone awaits this little work, its design will secure the author from blame, and palliate the bitterness of regret: she will console herself [vi] with the idea that others shall arise whose methods may be more judicious, and their success more encouraging; while her own attention is directed to that world, where even a cup of cold water will not be forgotten.

[vii] To —————

Ye dearest objects of my earliest care,

Themes of my eager hope, my ardent pray’r;

To you, affection dedicates this page,

Of you alone, solicits patronage.

O, might some thought, however ill express’ed,

One error chase, one passion lull to rest;

Raise one bright spark of virtue’s sacred fire,

One pure design, one holy aim inspire;

Or wake at once the grand resolve, to brave

All that opposes bliss beyond the grave:

Though on this form the humble sod be laid,

For you the last tear pour’d, the last pray’r made;

The good pursu’d is gain’d, the meed is given;

O may we share the blest result in – heaven.