The Family Circle No. 1

Mrs Richardson

The attempt at amusing and instructing persons of enlightened minds and polished manners, such are as those of which this Assembly is composed, and in particular, the assuming to do so after the the mode of that perfect Adept in the Science of Moral Refinement, the Spectator, may appear at the first view, arrogance in the extreme, but let not the reader judge the subject too hastily: the contributors to this new series of observations on life, with it “Ties and Dependencies” feel so much reverence for the great example which they seem to emulate, that they merely introduce his name to signify that they fight under his banners: that their objects will be of the same nature; and that infinitely inferior as their powers confessedly are to that elegant and brilliant Champion of Virtue, so far will they endeavour to resemble him that it will rather be their aim to invite than to enforce Goodness: to awaken a general spirit of Philantrophy: to regulate the operations of Self-love and to show that happiness is more likely to be the result of a steady and resolute perseverance in the fulfilment of our moral duties, than to be obtained by any immediate search after what is popularly so denominated.

The Society of which the Family Circle is composed wish their present efforts to be considered as the Philosophy of Happiness; and in proportion as the comforts of others may be promoted by their means, so far shall they feel cause for self-congratulation.

After this brief apology and explanation, it will be proper to describe to the reader the different members of the Society, who are thus about to take on themselves the awful office of advocating the gentler, as well as severer Laws of Morality, of Taste, the Decorums, and the Charities of Life.

Mr Philip Mordaunt, to whom all the other branches of the Family look up, as to the Arbiter of different sentiments and opinions, is what is termed a middle-aged man: his health is good, his temper serene, and his mind rather of the cheerful, than the pensive cast. He has made it his study to get quietly over the rubs and difficulties which have sometimes crossed his own way thro’ life, and as far as his individual means would permit, to encrease the comfort of those around him.

The next in point of seniority is Mr James Mordaunt. He is more studious, more argumentative than his brother Philip, and from residing constantly in Town in the earlier part of his life, and associating very much with public characters, he has by habit indulged his natural inclination till he has fallen inot a general practice of investigating every matter that comes before him.

Major Sydney, the next in order, and who had been married to a sister of the Mordaunts, is of a very lively turn, and pursued gaiety as much as Mr Philip Mordaunt does tranquility, or his brother James all the turns and windings of whatever subject presents itself to his notice.

Mrs Jane Mordaunt a sister to the gentlemen of that name, has a native flow of spirits, with a temper the most seldom ruffled that is possible for a person of quick feeling. This lady looks with equal admiration on the Major’s vivacity, and the serene composure which prevails in the mind of her brother Philip; and rather enters the lists of controversy to oblige Mr James Mordaunt, than with an expectation of changing his opinions; being very willing to give him credit for being in the right unless he opposes the Major, or her elder brother; whilst dismissing from her recollection that she has been the toast and the wit of the county, she very contentedly places herself on the bench of Old Maids.

Mrs Forrester, her younger sister and a widow, is rather of a pensive turn, having from a series of afflicting circumstances suffered both in her spirits and her health. Yet she struggles with adversity, and endeavours to acquire the philosophic calmness of her brother Philip, as well as to accommodate herself to the taste of her niece Miss Forrester, who is a great advocate for everything that is dashing and stylish. Mrs Forrester therefore suffers herself to be dragged into company for which she has no relish in the hope that her niece who is a very young woman will, by observing the emptiness of the amusements which she now so eagerly courts, be convinced that to be constantly immersed in a bustling crowd, however brilliant in point of talent, or elevated in situation is to resign Taste, Sentiment, Conversation, Friendship, and all the advantages which should be the fruit of cultivated education blended with moral rectitude.

Such are the personages who form the Family Circle and who mean by turns to communicate their respective ideas, and endeavour at the augmentation of each other’s satisfaction, while the cheerful philosopher Philip Mordaunt strives out of their diversity of opinions to work somewhat that may conduce to general improvement, or general gratification.

And who is the narrator? A rejected lover, an accepted friend, and a once dashing admirer of Mrs Jane Mordaunt’s. What he is besides, and how fatal the word Dash has been to all his comforts the reader may perhaps hereafter learn.