Eugenius And Selima


The Weekly Museum in which Eugenius and Selima; or the Fatal Effects of Parental Tyranny appears was a small magazine produced out of New York and ran from 1791 to 1805. Consisting of only four pages per issue, The Weekly Museum was designed for a female audience. The magazine included items generally of a sentimental nature or that were meant for moral instruction. Local and foreign news, poetry, reviews of plays, advertisements, etc. were also contained within the magazine.

Eugenius and Selima originally appeared in Robinson’s Lady’s Magazine; or, Entertaining Companion for the Female Sex which was based out of London and ran from 1770 to 1832. This publication was clearly aimed at a female audience as well. What makes it unique for the time period, and a point of pride for the publication, is that the content was also produced by women, though these women were rarely paid for their contributions. The Lady’s Magazine published Eugenius and Selima in the spring of 1794, and The Weekly Museum later picked it up in October of the same year.

In terms of genre, Eugenius and Selima would be considered a sentimental novel. At the time in which it was written, companionate marriage was becoming more popular. This means individuals were choosing their marriage partners based on love as opposed to parental dictation. Not surprisingly, this was sometimes met with resistance from the older generation. The content of Eugenius and Selima clearly reflects this. The author appears to be strongly advocating for companionate marriage given the “fatal effects of parental tyranny” that the author depicts.




TYRANNY—A Moral Story

Saturday, October 4, 1794


A Gentleman of fortune in this metropo-

lis, (whom it will not be improper to

distinguish by the name of Morosus) sent

his only son, Eugenius to the University;

there to finish his studies under the care of

a tutor.

The fortune and engaging carriage of

this young gentleman rendered him an agree-

able guest to all the polite and gay assemblies

of the place, and his sprightliness and viva

city a welcome visitor of the houses of the

more private persons of fashion.

Being one night at a card party at Mrs.

R—’s, he was introduced to Mrs. C—,

and her beautiful daughter Selima. Eugenius

was struck at first sight with the charms of

this young lady, and felt a pleasing sensation

in contemplating her perfections. Mrs.

R—, observing his embarrassment, took

him by the hand, and presented him to the

lady and her daughter. “I introduce to

you,” said she, addressing herself to the lat-

ter, “a young gentleman who has long wish-

ed for the pleasure of being in your compa-

ny.” “Madam,” said he, bowing and em-

boldened by what Mrs. R— had said, “‘tis

not alone to be in your company that I desire;

I beg leave to be permitted to increase[sp] the

number of your admirers.” He now paus-

ed, but perceiving the ladies had left them

together, he was resuming his discourse,

when she interrupted him. “You confound

me, sir,” said she, “as I am sensible I am

unworthy such flattering compliments.” Here

Mrs. R— and her friend entered, and the

discourse turning on different subjects, till

the company encreased, they sat down to

cards, leaving Eugenius absorbed in thought.

Love now began to make powerful inroads

in his heart. Selima sat opposite him dur-

ing the evening, and the more he beheld her

the more his passion augmented; but he fear-

ed his addresses were fruitless, as she did not

once deign him a tender look. Love, how-

ever, had, in reality made as powerful and

rapid a progress in her heart as in his, though

modesty taught her to disguise it.

The evening passed principally at cards—

Eugenius indeed found nothing to cross his

desires, yet it is consequent to love to be at-

tended with inquietude;–he longed for ano-

ther opportunity of speaking to her; but at

that time it was impracticable, as she and

her mother withdrew at a very early hour.

Before he departed, he paid his compliments

to Mrs. R—, who asked him how he had

liked his evening’s entertainment. He repli-

ed, he was perfectly happy in the society of

such agreeable persons, and hoped for the

renewing of that pleasure the next even-


Eugenius waited with impatience the ex-

Pected moment which should again bring

him into the presence of the dear object of

his affections, in which interview he resolved

to come to an explanation ;–but imagine his

disappointment when the time arrived, and

he was informed, indisposition prevented,

her mother, and which necessary hindered

her being there. His conjecture was imme-

diately, that it was merely an excuse, and

their absence was purposefully calculated to de-

ter his further pursuit. The idea was suffi-

cient to make him unhappy and he now be-

gan to ruminate upon the absurdity of his

mistake in having regarded the distant respect

she had shewn him, as a mark of affection,

which was, he now thought in reality only

the simple effects of politeness. He left

Mrs. R—’s that evening with less satis-

faction, as may naturally be supposed, than he

had done the preceding.

After having passed a restless night, next

morning he paid a visit to Mrs. R—: that

lady rightly judged the cause to which she

was indebted for the honour of this his early

visit, and to remove his suspicions, assured

him he had been deprived of Mrs. C— and

her daughter’s company, solely by the indis-

position of the former. Luckily, during

their conversation, the ladies entered. After

they had paid their congratulations to Mrs.

C—, on her restoration to health, and o-

ther usual compliments had passed, Mrs.

R— took the mother by the hand and

withdrew into another room in order to

give Eugenius an opportunity of discover-

ing his sentiments to Selima: nor did he fail

of making use of the present advantageous

moment. “Madam,” said he, taking her ten-

derly by the hand, “this is the first time I

have had the pleasure of being alone with

you; permit me, now I enjoy that op-

portunity, to inform you the impression your

charms made on me the first time I had the

honour of seeing you, and believe me, my

dear Selima, that if ever passion was fervent

and true, mine is so;–and, knew you the

unhappiness I endured the short time I was

deprived of your company, it would be suf-

ficient to give you a clear proof of the truth

of what I have said, and of the sincerity of

my affection. –Such, my dear Selima is the de-

climation [sp] of my heart; I scorn deceit; —

speak then, my lovely girl, determine with a

smile, my happiness; or fix with a

frown my eternal misery.” “Ah sir,” re-

turned she, “could I think what you have

said to be true, and that it is I who have

caused the tender unhappiness in your, you

fain would have me believe; I should reflect

on it with pleasure; but should I listen to

your pursuasive [sp] words, I fear I should be

drawn to imbibe a tenderness which might

hereafter prove difficult to banish. Yet this,

in justice I must say, among the fine speeches

I have had said to me on this subject, yours

seem to wear most the appearance of simple

sincerity. I should hope, sir, that what I

have already said will be sufficient to make

known to you my sentiments on what you have

just now said.”

The happiness which these few words of

Selima conferred on Eugenius, can only be

conceived by those who have been in a similar

situation. But her mother and Mrs. R—,

now entering, no further discourse past. It

may be supposed he was easily prevailed on

to stay dinner; and in the evening more

company coming, they sat down to quadrille.

He had again an opportunity of conversing

with Selima, she having declined playing. “Is

it possible, Selima,” said he, “that such a

reserved indifference should be thought a re-

compence worthy the love you must be con-

vinced I entertain for you. –I fear some more

happy rival occasions this behaviour to me;

be engenious and easy [sp] my troubled soul, for

it were death to continue in that tormenting

situation, which your treatment has reduced

me.” “You are mistaken, sir, I assure you,”

replied she, “and insensible of the feelings

my heart but too freely indulges in your be-

half;–your behavior charms me, and I con-

fess, what mostly ought to have obliged

me to conceal, that your tenderness has af-

fected me much; but whilst you are thus

earnestly soliciting to know what my senti-

ments are towards you; permit me to require

you to return me the sincerest proof of your

regard by endeavoring to make your pa-

rent and mine approve of it, and then you

will find I shall not be averse to your wish-


She uttered this with the most enchanting

Sweetness and innocent’ simplicity. He pro-

mised to acquaint his father immediately; and

they spent the remainder of the evening in

assuring each other of a mutual tenderness

and affection; and when the company separa-

ted, he departed perfectly satisfied with the

assurances she had given him of her love, and

not doubting but his father would consent to

their union, as he could have no reasonable

objections to her person, nor to her fortune,

since it was equal if not superior to his


The visible happiness on his countenance

was quickly perceived by his tutor, who en-

quired the reason. Eugenius thinking he

might be of service to him interceding with

his father did not hesitate to tell him the

cause, nor did he conceal in the least the purport

of his last conversation with Selima. “Sir,” said

his tutor, “you have, I fear, engaged in an af-

fair that will be the cause of lasting unhappiness

to you, and that amiable young lady. Not that

love itself is to be condemned; no! far from it;

it is the surest mark of a great and noble soul;

but you should not indulge yourself in it too pre-

cipitately–for, continued he, no one can tell but

that your father may have fixed on a lady for your

wife, and, nevertheless whatever we may think,

parents know, or at least ought to know better

what is to the advantage of their children, than

they themselves. Your father gave me particu-

lar orders not to suffer you to make any engage-

ment without his knowledge; and should I fulfil[sp]

my trust, did I not give him the earliest account

of this transaction? which, excuse me if I say

I know it will be contrary to his inclination.”

His tutor was right, and when he found all his

advice was to no purpose, he desisted, and immedi-

ately wrote to Morosus, to acquaint him of the

connection his son had formed; advising to send

for him home, absence might cure him of his pas-

sion, and restore him to his senses.

In a few days Eugenius received a letter from

his father, containing an order to return home;

this was sufficient to render him unhappy; the i-

dea of leaving Selima was death; but his father’s

commands were absolute, and must be obeyed.

The same evening he went to take his farewell

of his beloved Selima; they parted with tears, after

having sworn fidelity to each other. Mrs. R—

sympathised in their unhappiness, by giving them

all the consolation friendly advice could afford.

Eugenius begged her to permit him to write to her

from London, to acknowledge the obligations he

had already experienced; of which he should al-

ways retain the most lively sense of gratitude. She

readily granted his request, and it was a consola-

tion to him that by this means he could enjoy the

pleasure of hearing some news of his dear Seli-


When Eugenius arrived in London, his father’s

cool behaviour hurt him not a little. The morn-

ing after his arrival, his father sent for him into

his closet; he obeyed his command and went

trembling, but fully resolved to discover his sen-

timents. On his entrance, Morosus addressed

him thus: “Sir,” said he, “pray how have you

employed your time since you left home.” The

youth instantly, and without any reserve confessed

his love for Selima, and in the tenderest expres-

sions and persuasive eloquence exaggerated her

merit and beauty–nor did he forget to mention

her ample fortune, beseeching him at the same

time not to disapprove his passion by a denial of

their union. “I am surprised, (replied the father)

you should have formed such an attachment with-

out my consent, and more so at your boldness in

avowing it. But, young man, continued he, re-

member, I command you to think no more of

this ridiculous passion, unless you would incur my

utter displeasure, and oblige me to a severity I

willingly would avoid.” In vain he remonstra-

ted he had plighted his honor in the most sacred

oaths to marry her. Morosus broke from him,

and would hear no more.

His tutor, who was accessary to what had passed,

came to give him all the comfort in his power, but

he was incapable of receiving any.–He abandoned

himself to dispair, & would scarcely receive nourishment

for several days; nor could all the remonstran-

ces of his tutor bring him out of his chamber .

[To be continued.]


Saturday, October 11, 1794

The first opportunity he could take, with-

out being observed, he wrote to Mrs.

R—, informing her how averse his father was

to his marriage and begging her to acquaint Seli-

ma of his eternal constancy to her, and if pos-

sible to send him some intelligence concerning


Having thus unburthened his mind, he now felt

more happy than he had done some time. He be-

gan to eat his meals with cheerfulness, hoping

soon to receive an answer to his letter, which ar-

rived in a few days wherein she condoled with him

on the unhappy situation to which he was reduced

by his father’s barbarity; and telling him that

Selima could not refrain a tear on reading his

letter; but that young lady had considered it as

improper to shew it her mother, left piqued by

his father’s refusal; and influenced by pride, she

might be induced to use her daughter in the same

manner–but what pleased him above all, was

the following postscript in Selima’s own hand:

“I partake in the uneasiness your father’s cru-

“el behavior has occasioned; but if my love can

“afford any consolation, you posses it:–Make

“yourself as easy as possible, and be assured my

“ affection shall only cease with death.

“Adieu: Remember


These few lines operated like an elixir on his

distracted mind, and restored him to his wonted

tranquility. The family judged from the cheer-

fulness of his countenance, that he had got the

better of this foolish passion, as they called it.—

His father and tutor were also inclined to believe

the same; and their suspicious [sp] being lulled asleep,

he carried on his correspondence with Mrs. R—

and Selima for some time, without interruption,

till at length an incident happened which gave

rise to a discovery, which involved the ill-fated

Eugenius in fresh troubles, and reduced him, if

possible, to a more pitiable situation than before.

Morosus unfortunately observed a servant deli-

ver his son a letter, and though he imagined it

was concerning his amour he took no notice of

it at present.

A short time after, he sent the tutor to Eugeni-

us, in order to discover if possible the present

state of his mind concerning Selima, who artfully

insinuated he was glad to find he had forgotten

that young lady: But Eugenius, with more sin-

cerity than prudence, answered, “No, sir, I

have not forgotten her, and though I may appear

tranquil in this long and cruel absence from her,

yet her lovely image is too deeply engraven on

my heart ever to be erased, either by time

or misfortune.” “So much the worse, (replied

the tutor) I pity you; for your father this moment

sent me to tell you, he intends disposing of you

in a marriage, as also to prepare you for that event,

and you know his disposition will not brook a de-

nial.” “Impossible, (cried Eugenius) by obey-

ing my father, I forfeit my honor—What then

can I do.”

His father had in reality no intentions to marry

him, but tried this experiment to see if it were

possible to make him forget Selima; and finding

this fail, he had recourse to other expedients,

which proved equally ineffectual. He sent for

the servant he had seen him give the letter, who

by threats and persuasions discovered the corres-

pondence that had subsisted between his son and

Selima. However, Morosus ordered for the fu-

ture to bring him all the letters that came for his

son: And what was his astonishment when he

found, in the first letter he intercepted, to what

length the young lover had gone; but he did

not fail answering this himself, and accordingly

informed Mrs. R— that he was determined to

marry his son to a lady he had fixed upon, and

begged her, in order to wean his affections from

Selima, to write him word she was on the point

of marriage.

Mrs. R—, knowing the rank of Morosus, compli-

ed with his request; and the next letter Eugeni-

us received, brought him the disagreeable news

of a supposed match that was on foot between

Selima and a gentleman of her parent’s choice,

whom the former had consented to marry.

His father expecting this news would drive him

to the extremity of desperation, ordered the tu-

tor to be present when he knew the letter would

arrive; and the precaution was very wisely taken,

for, without doubt, had he been alone he would

put a period to his existence.

He raved with the madness of a man bereft of

his senses, and his father coming in at the disturb-

ance, relaxing his former severity of look, endea-

vored by gentleness to bring him to reason, pre-

tending ignorance of the cause from whence this

sudden phrenzy proceeded. “Leave me, (cried

the afflicted Eugenius) to my fate; ask me not

whence my sorrow arises; as well you know you

yourself have caused it, by refusing to give your

consent to my union with Selima, who, alas! is

now insupportable; deprive me of it, O barba-

rous father, at once.”

He uttered these words with such vehemence,

that his father feared this affair would end in some

dismal catastrophe. He therefore thought it ne-

cessary not to leave him himself, till he had en-

deavored by every argument in his power to con-

vince him how despicable it was for a man of spi-

rit and understanding to be subdued by such a

weakness. In the interval, when reason triumph-

ed over madness, he seemed to comply with his

father’s advice, as he thought that would be the

only and surest means to gain more liberty and

obtain and opportunity of going to Oxford, to sa-

tiate his revenge upon his supposed happy rival,

and punish the perfidy of Selima. Yet so cre-

dulous was he, that though the letter was suffice-

ent to give him sufficient proof of his mistress’s

infidelity, yet he imputed it to her parents hav-

ing heard of the difficulties his father had made

to their union, and that they in revenge had for-

ced their daughter to marry, contrary to her in-

clination, for he still thought Selima incapable of


Fortune seemed to favour the unfortunate Euge-

nius; for a few weeks after, his father was obliged

to go to Oxford on business of importance. This

gave him an opportunity to carry his intended

project to execution. His father was not the

least suspicious of his son, but imagined that by

the indifference he feigned, he had forgot every

thing related to Selima, so accordingly took

him with him.

Eugenius, however, went as soon as possible

after his arrival in the country to Mrs. R—’s,

who was surprised to see him. At his ear-

nest solicitation to be informed who the happy ri-

val was, that Selima had preferred to him, and

she confessed the deceit that had been put upon

him at his father’s request. This intelligence

brought a composure to his troubled mind, which

for a long time it had been unacquainted with;

he now with eagerness demanded, if Selima lived

where she did formerly? and was told she did

not; that she had been ill some time, and that

her disorder was now grown to such a height, that

her life was despaired of. This was a new cause

of unhappiness; but he determined to see her.

Mrs. R—, who saw her every day, promised

to acquaint her mother of his arrival, and to beg

the favor that he might be permitted to see this

young lady. But after the deceit he had alrea-

dy experienced, he paid no regard to promises,

but endeavored to find out an expedient to intro-

duce himself. Although he was fearful his pre-

sence might occasion an emotion that might in-

crease her illness, yet he could not help thinking

it would have a different effect, & give her


Flushed with these hopes he made it his business

to find out the physician that attended, who hap-

pened fortunately to be one who had visited him

in a fit of illness a few years back; and making

himself known, begged the favor of him to

let him accompany him in the next visit he should

make to Selima. The physician complied,

and he accompanied him that evening to Mrs.


Eugenius not being personally known to any

of the domestics, gained admittance as a friend

of the physician. When he entered Selima’s

chamber, he saw her mother kneeling by the bed-

side drowned in tears. In despite [sp] of his efforts

to the contrary, he could not help shedding tears

of latent tenderness on beholding this melancholy

scene; which plainly discovered the interesting

part he bore in the disorder. As she was raised

up to receive some nourishment, he beheld her

face, once the glowing seat of florid health and

vivid bloom, all wan and covered with deadly

paleness. But her eyes, notwithstanding her

disorder, still maintained their usual vivacity.

Her attendants observing Eugenius, who was

quite a stranger to them, turned their eyes on

him, and Selima observing their attention, made

her cast a look that way. She immediately knew

him, and her extraordinary emotion on seeing

him, testified her surprise and pleasure; and

stretching out her hand, made a sign that he

should advance nearer; which he did, and as he

gently clasped her hand between his–“Have I

ved [sp],” said she, “once more to hold my dear

Eugenius! Yes! Indulgent Heaven has heard

my prayer and granted me my only wish.”—

“But my dear Selima, (replied he) to what an

unhappy situation do I see you reduced.”—

“Hush, (said she) it is the will of Heaven;

but if you maintain the same affection for me

you formerly did, I bear it contentedly.” “If I

still love you! (returned he) Ah! my dear Seli-

ma, when I cease to love you, I must cease to ex-

ist.” “Enough, (answered she) I am satisfied;

I feel my last moments approach; bear my death

with resignation–farewell–love me forever—

preserve my same affection you always pro-

fessed, and live content.” She could utter no

more; but falling into her lover’s arms, heaved

a last sigh, and expired without a groan.

Unhappy youth! this was too much; his for-

titude could not withstand it; he remained sense-

less for some time. The physician attended him

home; he endeavored to console himself for his

loss, and forget; but ah! the effort was fruit-

less. His grief threw him into a fever, which

alas! terminated his life, and he died a melan-

choly victim of despair.

Morosus, distracted at the loss of his son and

only child, and overwhelmed with a sense of

his own barbarity at being the cause of his death,

remains the miserable prey of sorrow.

Such are the fatal effects of Parental Tyranny,

when parents biassed by their interest, study their chil-

dren’s imaginary advantage more than their real

good and happiness.