susanah’s journal – manners and morals

An extract from the journal of Susanah WELLINGTON (1819-1838) of Yeovil, Somerset. Susanah was 12 years old when she transcribed the following letter into her notebook.

Letter to Miss Linten, from a teacher, dated Yeovil 1st March 1832.

Letter to Miss Lintern, from a teacher, dated Yeovil 1st March 1832.

The copy of the letter to Miss Lintern which is incomplete and unsigned.

Yeovil March 1st 1832

My dear Miss Lintern

Very gladly do I improve the opportunity you afford me of assuring you that I am pleased with your efforts and that I applaud your diligence. It is true that your advancement on the whole is not so rapid as I could wish and I hope you will understand that I allude to the goodness of your designs and not to the completeness of their execution.

You express your thanks for the pleasure you derive from your Scripture Lessons and while my heart is affected by your gratitude, I entreat you to cherish the emotion for it is an expression of that love which ought to burn mutually in our bosoms, even though we do no more than our duty to do. Never will the Teacher and the Pupil succeed in their respective offices while the one is unkind and the other disrespectful.

You will not, I apprehend, convict me of the first and of the last I have but little accusation to bring against some of your schoolfellows and none against you. And do be assured my dear for your Comfort, that while intellectual eminence is in some respects highly desirable, yet moral attainments are far more so. By these I mean the improvement of the heart, by those the expansion of the understanding.

I do not suggest these observations in order to lessen your ardour for learning; on the contrary, I would have you strive to the utmost of your capacity. But I wish to hold before you in a prominent manner the following important maxim: Acquire that you may communicate; or in plainer language, you should get good in order . . .  [incomplete and unsigned]

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

LETTERS_p70&71_EXT1

You should get good in order . . . to what? Does anyone have the answer to this important lesson?

I wonder why Susanah did not complete her transcript of this letter? I think we can safely say it was written by her scripture teacher, Charlotte Bowles, as she provides a lesson on morals and manners to Miss Lintern and her fellow students at Mrs Eason’s School in Yeovil.

An English School Reader printed in Grantham in 1827 – Reading Made Easy; being a collection of lessons out of Psalms, New Testament, &c. &c.

An English School Reader printed in Grantham in 1827 – Reading Made Easy; being a collection of lessons out of the Psalms, New Testament, &c. &c. [click on image to enlarge]

The above school text book, printed in Grantham Lincolnshire in 1827, is more than likely the sort of reading material available to the students in Mrs Eason’s School. Useful moral lessons on manners in words of one, two and three syllables.

You can read more of the moral character of Charlotte Bowles in her previous two letters – light of the lord and dictionaries and dominoes.

Sources: Susanah Wellington’s Journal, Buck family collection. You can read more about it here: susanah’s journal – somerset to sydneyJournal transcription by Terry HASTINGS. Reading Made Easy copied with permission from Grantham Library.

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