"He may confine their bodies; but the free soul will be out of his power, which only love and gratitude can bind."

— Mulso [later Chapone], Hester (1727-1801)


Date
January 3, 1750-51, 1807
Metaphor
"He may confine their bodies; but the free soul will be out of his power, which only love and gratitude can bind."
Metaphor in Context
With regard to the other texts of scripture you have cited, I am sure I never meant, and I humbly presume Mr. Locke never meant, to maintain a doctrine contradictory to them. (Don't you cry hum! now.) Many of them plainly relate to minors only, as where they mention the rod, and chastening their sons; for I am sure you will not allow that a man should be beaten. For the rest, which command obedience to parents, they can only be understood to mean a reasonable obedience; such as is consistent with the liberty of a rational creature.--But there is one text which makes me wish to understand Hebrew; and that is the advice of the wise man, " Shew not thyself cheerful towards thy daughters." Methinks I have a great curiosity to know what that word is in the original, which is here translated cheerful. If it indeed means the same thing, I must say that it is a true Eastern precept. But the consequences of it, in this part of the world, would, I imagine, be such as no wise man would wish for. If the parent will not shew himself cheerful before his daughters, of course they will not dare to be cheerful before him. They will therefore shun and fly from his presence, and never think themselves happy but when they are out of his sight; for who can be easy under perpetual restrain? They will be so far from considering him as their best friend, from opening their hearts to him, and trusting him with their most secret wishes and designs, that they will not dare to declare any one sentiment or opinion before him, and he will be more a stranger to their minds than any one person of their acquaintance. How then shall his counsel direct them, his experience inform them, or his virtue mend their hearts? They will indeed consider him with awe and fear; but who would wish to be observed from fear alone, who knows how much more assiduous and ready are the services of love! The fear of offending, and the desire of pleasing, are the inseparable attendants of love; but servile fear, and distant awe, will always chill the warmth of affection, and produce a constrained and painful submission. He may confine their bodies; but the free soul will be out of his power, which only love and gratitude can bind. These sentiments, dear sir, I know are your own. You could not possibly suppose, (although you took the pains to justify yourself from it) that I could ever suspect you of being capable of tyranny; have I not said that tyranny is the triumph of low minds ? it can never therefore be yours. It is the privilege of the good, to establish their empire in the hearts of their dependents; this is the triumph of my dear Mr. Richardson; and then indeed does his excellent heart exult, when he sees every one the happier and better for their connexion with him!--I am sure you did not mean to recommend severe restraint, unless to shameless daughters only. Such as the abandoned Lady V----, the wretched Delia, the delicate lady, who threatens her father that she will marry the first shoe-boy she meets, and the rest of the flame-coloured taffefy nymphs, who do so much honour to the fair sex. (p. 118-21)
Categories
Provenance
Reading
Citation
Hester Mulso Chapone, The Works of Mrs. Chapone: Now First Collected, Vol. iv, Life and Correspondence (London: John Murray, 1807). <Link to Google Books>
Date of Entry
06/27/2011

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.