The Young Lady's Pocket Library (1793)

A book label from Wright's Circulating Library, Bodleian Library, Douce Portfolio 139 (808). Permission of the Bodleian Library.


"Sometimes a girl laughs with aIl the simplicity of unsuspcting innocence, for no other reason but being infected with other people's laughing..."

I know no entertainment that gives such pleafure to any person of sentiment and humour as the theatre. But I am sorry to say there are few -English comedies a lady can see, without a shockk to delicacy. You will not readily suspect the comments gentlemen make on your behaviour on such occasions. Men are often best acquainted with the most worthless of your sex, and from them too readily form their judgement of the rest. A virtuous girl often hears very indelicate things with a countenance nowise embarrassed, because in truth she does not underfstnd them. Yet this is, most ungenerously, ascribed to that command of features, and that ready presence of mind, which you are thought - to possess in a degree far beyond us; or, by skill more  malignant observers, it is ascribed to hardened effrontery.

Sometimes a girl laughs with aIl the simplicity of unsuspcting innocence, for no other reason but being infected with other people's laughing: she is then believed to know more than she should do. If she does happen to, understand an improper thing, she suffers a very complicated distress, she feels her modesty hurt in the most sensible manner, and at the same time is ashamed of appearing conscious of the injury. The only way to avoid these inconveniencies, is never to go to a play that is particularly offensive to delicacy. Tragedy subhects you to no such distress. --- Its sorrows will soften and ennoble your hearts.

I need say little about gaming, the ladies in this country being as yet almost strangers to it. It is a ruinous and incurable vice; and as it leads to all the selfish and turbulent passions, is peculiarly odious in your sex. I have no objection to your playing a little at any kind of game, as a variety in your amusements, provided that what you can possibly lose is such a trifle as can neither interest you, nor hurt.

In this, as well as in all important points of con duct, shew a determined resolution and steadiness. This is not in the least inconsistent with that softness and gentleness so amiable in your sex. On the contrary, it gives that spirit to a mild and sweet disposition, without which it is apt to degenerate into insipidity. It makes you respectable in your owvn eyes, and dignifies you in ours.


Text taken from The Young Lady's Pocket Library, Or Parental monitor; containing, I. Dr. Gregory's father's legacy to his daughters. II. Lady Pennington's unfortunate mother's advice to her daughters. III. Marchioness De Lambert's advice of a mother to her daughter. IV. Moore's fables for the female sex. Edinburgh: Printed for J. & J. Fairbairn, and A. Guthrie, 1793, p. 21-22. Full text in ECCO. Transcription by Alain Kerhervé.