« السابقةمتابعة »
ON THE EDUCATION OF FEMALES OF
THE UPPER RANKS.
To the Editor of the Christian Obserrer. ought to exist as to the care with
which religion is to be implanted into the minds of the young, the ex
cess should be on the side of the fe(Continued from p. 355.) male. But be the original advantage I SHALL now endeavour, as well as I on which side it may, there can be ain able, to supply the deficiency of no comparison as to the case with which I have complained in the which religious feelings are kept lecture of Mr. Sydney Smith, by alive in the mind of a girland of a boy. stating some grounds which make A girl is, or ought to be, nursed un. it desirable both to Society and der the eye of her parents, sheltered themselves, that a large portion of by their care from every evil which the youth of females in particulur, can disturb the serenity of her heart, should be devoted to religious ex• and every vice which can corrupt ercise. These grounds, be it always the fountain of her thoughts. While remembered, are quite inferior to a boy is, practically at least, let the considerations of eternal moment loose upon the world, and before he already mentioned; but they have is fifteen, has suffered rough fortune a certain share of importance flow. enough to call his passions into full ing from that expediency to which play, and seen or heard, I will venour philosophers are so fond of re- ture to affirm, much more of vice thau, ferring. And first let me urge the with tolerable care, the whole of his same argument in favour of religious after life will expose him to. The instruction which I have before sup- effects are correspondent. Girls who posed to be alleged as an excuse for are educated as Christians come out neglecting it; namely, the favourable into life with all the religious imdisposition of the female mind to pressions which were printed on the reception of such ideas. We can- their infant minds still fresh and not, it is true, very clearly compre- lively. Boys, on the contrary, shake hend how any analogy between a off at school all the shackles of prinmaterial and immaterial substance ciple which confined their infant should exist, and yet experimentally limbs, the bands of straw which we find that the soul and body bear bound these little Sampsons; and, a strong resemblance to each other; having liberated themselves froni and potwithstanding the variance ties which they have learnt to aswhich I suppose will always conti- sociate with their leading-strings, nue on this subject, I fancy the become great proficients in the gencommon opinion is the right one, tlemanlike arts of lying, swearing, that the difference between the male and libertine language. If they are and female mind is the same as the ever reclaimed, it is the effect of af. difference between their persons; ter-thought and the grace of God that the female is distinguished in operating on a sound understand both instances for softoess, gentle. ing. “Their reasons rebaptize them ness, and grace. Now these qua- when adult;” but this change too lities must in every stage of her ex- rarely happens, and when it does istencer piler her rather the better take place, may be considered ra. subject for receiving religious impres- ther as a new graft than any shoot sions. As therefore we cultivate a from the original stock. It is, I am rich in preference to a poorer soil, convinced, in many instances as comit should seem, on the principles of pletely a conversion as that of a common sense, that if any difference heathen to Christianity. If, therefore, there be any doubt whether it for her the unfading rose of Eden blooms, is more easy to implant religion in And wings of seraphs shed divine perfumes. the mind of a girl than of a boy, For her the spouse prepares the bridal ring, this surely is quite clear, that when and white robed virgins hymeneals sing. implanted it is more easily preserv. To sounds of heavnly harps she dies away, ed there. Now it is obviously ere
And melts in visions of eternal day. pedient that the stock of virtue in If, therefore, religion be of imthe world should be as large as pos- portance to the community, it must sible. As, therefore, to recur to our be of equal importance to nurse it old metaphor, a good farmer lays early in the only bosoms which are out more capital on a field which is likely to guard it faithfully: and well fenced, than on one which is as a man I must be allowed to say, exposed to be browsed and poached that whatever obligations the feby his neighbours; a sound philo- male sex may owe to our industry sopher would direct that a larger for supplying them with comforts portion of the parental attention and luxuries, they amply repay the should be given to impress religion debt in keeping alive, by example or on the mind of a daughter than of a gentle admonition, the little religion son. I, who am no philosopher, look which yet remains among us. This more to the salvation of an immor- subject however has been so elotal soul than the finest scheme of quently urged by one of the best of political expediency; but with re- men, that I shall press it no further. spect to the well-ordering of this I cannot, however, avoid observing, world only these considerations ap- that the religious influence which pear to have some weight.
women at present exercise over men This however is not all: the same is most lamentably less than it might causes which produce so striking a be. They are formed by heaven to difference between the two sexes in make every thing lovely, and Christheir youths, act with considerable tianity recommended by their smiles force through the whole of their af- would wear a thousand graces. Yet ter lives. Even the best men have it must be owned that at present great difficulties to struggle against the greater number of females, which oppose their progress in re- though less vicious than men, can ligion. “I'never bring back at the hardly be said to be more virtuous; close of day (says Seneca) the same and I fear they owe even their nedispositions and affections which I gative excellence rather to the pro'carried out with me in the morn- tection which their sex affords them ing.” Thus it is with all of us; our from temptation, than to the influtempers are soured by contest, our ence of vital religion on their hearts. moral feelings deadened by constant But beyond the concern which intercourse with vice, our passions the public has in the proper education wrought up and exasperated by the of females, they have themselves an temptations of ambition and the col- interest in it greater perhaps than lision of interests. Above all, ha- they generally comprehend. It was bits of business (though certainly a observed by Mr. Smith, that mothers part of onr duty) fatally undermine suon lose all authority over boys, religion by employing our attention and seldom retain much even of till they have fixed our affections on their attention. I suspect this is not the perishable things of this life. quite so true as Mr. Smith imagines, But women live as it were in an hal- or at least that the puerile petulance lowed land; a territory of Elis, where of which we are so proud at fourë no hostile armies dare to enter. teen, is reduced by a little reflec“ Violence is not heard in their tion before we are four and twenty, dwellings, wasting nor destruction as in the interval we have perhaps within their borders.” Woman there. learned to estimate things more justfore is the natural shrine of religion. ly, and have discovered that our mothers know rather more than we same truth may be evinced by a fancied, and we ourselves rather different process. It is laid in ihe less. However, it must be confessed, constitution of things that virtue that to retain much reverence for a shall possess the ascendancy over silly prattling woman, who at three- vice whenever they stand upon a score still glides the ghost of beauty level; in a mother, therefore, aided amid the circles of fashion, requires by the sanctity of age and sex, and rather more principle than most with every early association in her youths possess. Let a young man favour, it must be honoured. theu whisper one word of admoni- Nor is this homage of the young tion into older years, and assure all towards the old easily secured on mothers, that, selfish and thoughtless any other terms. Jadeed, I believe as we are, they are never despised it is exclusively the reward of goodby their sons except when they de ness. Talents and knowledge may serve it. A good mother will pre- do something, but the idle and proserve the reverence and affection of fligate seldom value acquirements her children by the simple force of highly; and though talents of a cergoodness. Why it is that even vice tain kind will command admiration, is delighted with virtue may be a they are not exactly of the descripquestion ; I fancy there is an origi- tion which old people generally nal sense of the beautiful which not possess. Besides which, they are apt, even long habits of immorality can especially among women, to decline quite extinguish. The fact however with declining years; and though will hardly be disputed. Indeed I “the case may sometimes be rebelieve this homage is paid in all spected for what it once contained,” cases where virtue is really believed this will only happen where the to exist; but the bad are very apt contents are very extraordinary. If, to suppose hypocrisy, and sometimes therefore, the mothers of the preobliged in self-defence to ridicule sent generation feel themselves dethe goodness which they really serted by those whose strength venerate. This, however, only should have been the prop of their happens to those whose conduct weakness, how can they more wisely seems to reproach their own. Now provide against the renewal of the a mother never is suspected of hy- same calamity in their daughters, pocrisy; we know her too well; and than by early training them in those the tacit reproaches which her vir- habits of piety and domestic virtue tues utter against her unworthy off- which will survive the lapse of spring, though painful,can hardly be time, and not only retain for their resented: they are but in unison grey hairs the veneration of those with those early admonitions which they will most love, but perhaps are always remembered with grati- enable them by the gentle control tude at least, if not with profit. of influence and example, to reclaim Every secret pang, every external the thoughtlessness of youth from distress, a fit of sickness, or a gleam those vices which must equally disof heavenly grace, carry back the grace the parent and the cltild. mind to that parent who gave us But the interest which women being, who nursed our infancy, and bave in the cultivation of the reliwatched our manhood; whose grey gious principle is not confined to hairs perhaps our vices have has- their later years. Most of the smil. tened, but whose piety and patient ing sylphs who are now entering goodness still preserve a control upon life hope one day to become over us, when fear and shame have wives; and though, when I consider long ceased to operate.-I believe what beings men are, I am someit does not happen ten times in a times surprised a sensible girl should century that a really virtuous mother be willing to quit the cheerful ease is despised by her children. The she enjoys under her father's roof,
to entrust her happiness to the care our own favour, that it is possible for of a stranger; yet the course of the ahushand to render his wife perfectly world evinces the fact, and there. wretched without much diminishfore I am entitled to reason upon ing his own comforts. — Constant it. Now if they are to marry, it is acts of petty tyranny are more fatal obviously important they should to happiness than the greatest single marry well. I do not mean well calamities. I doubt if the Italian in a worldly sense, that is to men Countess that was confined in a dunof large fortune; for “ godliness geon for twenty years, suffered more is great riches if a man be con- froin the jealousy of her husband, tent with that he hath ;" but so to than many women in this land of marry, that they may have a rea- liberty have endured in an equal sonable prospect of happiness. And period from the capricious despotism yet though this is clearly the most of theirs. hazardous game of their lives, I be- Now all this, though melancholy lieve I am nearly right in saying, enough, if it were remediless must that it is played by most womerrin be quietly submitted to, like other .total darkness. It may be true that unavoidable evils; but if it be
posa we know little of them, but I am sible for women by any precautions apt to suspect that they know still to diminish the dangers to which less of us; and happy is it for our they are exposed, it must be rational sex that this ignorance prevails. to attempt it. I think it is possible; But of all men, the individual for I think it may be shewn that whom a girl is likely to know the women have considerable freedom least of, is that very individual on of choice, and I am much mistaken whom it is probable her happiness if a really religious education will or misery through life may depend. not qualify them to choose well. To Most men are guarded in the com- me it seems a great mistake to imapany of women, and dress them- gine that women have but little selves in their very best behaviour; power of selection. It is true that but a lover becomes a different be- they cannot propose themselves ing: other men paint, but the lover where they please, and in this we wears a mask. I do not say that he may be said to have the advantage. is guilty of a wilful deception; but But then they have a negative; they it is in the nature of things that we possess this prerogative in undoubt. should strive to please those we love, ed right, and it is of a nature which and this we naturally attempt by trenches so much upon ours that the assuming just those sentiments and empire is nearly divided. In truth manners which are best suited to this prerogative is exercised much the taste of our mistress. The season more frequently than appears. A of courtship in short is generally a young woman may have rejected a season of twilight, in which every dozen suitors, who never gave one object looks beautiful, but none is a direct refusal; for who will press very clearly distinguished. The vira his suit to its issue in defiance of gin marries one man and lives with repulse? A lover has an eagle eye another. Her lover was gentle, which watches every glance of his smiling, and attentive: her husband mistress, and the sensibility either is coarse, ill-tempered, and selfish. of his tenderness or his pride is geThese are melancholy realities, as- nerally quick enough to prevent his certained only wheu it is too late; continuing attentions when he disfor though the happiness of a visa covers that they are obtrusive. In tuous pair is perfectly reciprocad, it is point of fact, therefore, though we not so with the generality of men. nominally possess the privilege of Providence has given us some supe- proposal, that privilege is nearly riority, and we have taken so much neutralized. If, however, it be said, care to improve the advantage in that custom has authorized rather more freedom of advance on our ercise that power wisely. And to side, this I believe is in some de- me it is quite clear that religion is gree counterbalanced by the self- their proper instructress. In the command which a contrary custom first place,consider how much misery teaches on theirs. The liberty which is produced in the world by what men have, they in fact throw away are called matches of expediency; by using it unwisely, and enjoy less into which women enter, not beonly because they possess more. Thus cause their affections are engaged, men frequently contract marriages but because is not thought right which they themselves disapprove, to refuse a good offer. I do not say but into which they are led alınost that such marriages are condemned unknowingly. The first step is their in Scripture, but I am sure they are own, and perhaps a hasty and fool- not encouraged. “They who will ish one; every subsequent step they be rich fall into temptation and a make with regret, but find them- snare." The contented spirit of selves constrained by a sense of ho- Christianity, therefore, which is carenour and the difficulties of receding: less of pomp and bustle, has a tenThese dilemmas women never fall dency, in a considerable degree, to into; they are preserved from falling diminish this evil.–Again, as men into them by the want of that li- are very greatly under the domiberty which is thought so desirable; nion of violent passions, women, it and these dilemmas are not unfre. may be supposed, are a little so; and quent. But the common case is this; many foolish couples are united a youth of twenty has roving eyes, for life, who had better have been which are soon attracted to some seated at the two poles, because pleasing object; and his affections neither would take time to discover become fixed before his judgment that they possessed no common quahas had time to operate. His power lities necessary to each other's hapof selection is evidently gone: but piness. So far as this may be owing the girl whom he happens to ad- to precipitancy on the part of the mire still preserves hers; and after female, a religious education offers she has discovered his attachment, an excellent corrective; for Chriscan coolly deliberate on the pro- tianity is always found to compose priety of encouraging it, before she the mind, and prevent the overflow permits her own heart to be engaged. of swelling passions.- Another freThe control which custom has quent cause of unhappiness is the taught her to exercise over her feel, want of taste. A woman sees marks inys, gives her this advantage, and of coarseness and indecorum in her it is the same which a cool fencer suitor; but has not delicacy of mind possesses over a passionate adver- enough to be disgusted with them. sary. Now it is evident, that in this In atter life she finds that these were case, which is a common one, the in fact indexes of selfishness and advantage is on the side of the fe- sensuality ; but it is too late. Now 'male. In short, the power of selec- religion is peculiarly qualified to tion is, in one important view of it, give the highest mental refinement; the powerof judging dispassionately; and one who has been early nursed and so superior indeed are the ha- in her school will probably discover bits of self command which women before marriage, (notwithstanding learn, that nine tenths of the preci- the delusion prevalent at that pepitancy and folly which love pro- riod) those faults which would have duces in the world are to be found in rendered hermiserable after.-Lastour own sex.
ly, the good are naturally fond of Now if it be true that the power goodness, and of nothing else; for of selection is to a considerable de " what communion hath light with gree possessed by women, the next darkness, what concord hath Christ point is how they may learn to ex- with Belial:" Were early habits of