صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

little indeed of human nature who confounds this for an instant with the affectation we have been speaking of.. A gentleman, adopting the usages of society, may meet another, and say, “ How do you do, sir? I am very glad to see you,” though in faet he would rather just then have passed on without interruption. Although this sort of thing is much better avoided, it arises not at all from that infirm habit and temper of the mind which usually gives birth to affectation. In one case, the endeavour is merely to please by appearing pleased ; in the other, it is as nearly the reverse of this as possible. • This we know, that a certain destitution of judgment and sound sense; an infirmity of principle and of purpose ; unconsciousness in the party of these or any other mental disadvantages; together with the consequent measure of conceit and self-approval, make up something like the character of a fool, (pardon the epithet.) When with these there is combined a peculiar appetite for praise, and an unhealthy solicitude respecting the opinion of others, he becomes an affected fool ; that is, of course, to a measured or unmeasured extent, according to circumstances. If this unenvied personage should have in addition--as is very frequently the case-a spice of ambition, and of the love of distinction, then his affectation takes the turn of eccentricity,


The influence of woman on the intellectual character of the community, may not seem so great and obvious, as upon its civilization and manners. One reason is, that hitherto such influence has seldorn been exerted in the most direct way of gaining celebrity—the writing of books. In our own age, indeed, this has almost ceased to be the case ; and, if we should inquire for those persons, whose writings, for the last half century, have produced the most practical and enduring effects, prejudice itself must confess, that the name of more than one illustrious woman would adorn the catalogue.

That the society and influence of woman have often prompted and refined the efforts of genius, may be granted by the most zealous advocate for the superiority of our sex. But whatever may be thought of the influence of the sex, in these particulars, there is one point of view in which it is undeniably great and important. - The mother of your children is necessarily their first instructer. It is her task to watch over and assist their dawning faculties in their first expansion. And can it be of light importance in what manner this task is performed ? Will it have no influence on the future mental character of the child, whether the first lights, which enter its understanding, are received from wisdom or folly? Are there no bad mental habits, no lasting biases, no dangerous associations, no deep-seated prejudices, which can be communicated from the mother, the fondest object of the affection and veneration of the child ?

In fine, do the opinions of the age take no direction and no colouring from the modes of thinking, which prevail among one half of the minds that exist on earth ? Unless you are willing to say, that an incalculably great amount of mental power is utterly wasted and thrown away; or else, with a Turkish arrogance and brutality, to deny that woman shares with you in the possession of a reasoning and immortal mind; you must acknowledge the vast importance of the influence which the female sex exerts on the intellectual character of the community.

But it is in its moral effects on the mind and the heart of man, that the influence of woman is most powerful and important. In the diversity of tastes, habits, inclinations, and pursuits of the two sexes, is found a most beneficent provision for controlling the force and extravagance of human passions. The objects which most strongly seize and stimulate the mind of man, rarely act, at the same time and with equal power, on the mind of woman.

While he delights in enterprise and action, and the exercise of the stronger energies of the soul, she is led to engage in calmer pursuits, and seek for gentler enjoyments. While he is summoned into the wide and busy theatre of a

contentious world, where the love of power and the love of gain, in all their innumerable forms, occupy and tyrannize over the soul, she is walking in a more peaceful sphere; and though I say not that these passions are always unfelt by her, yet they lead her to the pursuit of very different objects. The current, if it draws its waters in both from the same source, moves with her not only in a narrower stream and less impetuous tide, but sets also in a different direction. Hence it is, that the influence of the society of woman is, almost always, to soften the violence of those impulses, which would otherwise act with so constant and fatal an influence on the soul of man.

The domestiv fireside is the great guardian of society against the excesses of human passions. When man, after his intercourse with the world, where, alas! he finds so much to inflame him with a feverous anxiety for wealth and distinction --retires, at evening, to the bosom of his family, he finds there a repose for his tormenting cares. He finds something to bring him back to human sympathies. The tenderness of his wife, and the caresses of his children, introduce a new train of softer thoughts and gentler feelings. He is reminded of what constitutes the real felicity of man; and, while his heart expands itself to the influence of the simple and intimate delights of the domestic circle, the demons of avarice and ambition, if not exorcised from his breast, at least for a time relax their grasp. How deplorable would be the consequence, if all these were reversed ; and woman, instead of checking the violence of these passions, were to employ her blandishments and charms to add fuel to their rage! How 'much wider would become the empire of guilt! What a portentous and intolerable amount would be added to the sum of the crimes and miseries of the human race! · But the influence of the female character, on the virtue of man, is not seen merely in restraining and softening the violence of human passions. To her is mainly committed the task of pouring into the opening mind of infancy its first impressions of duty, and of stamping on its susceptible heart the first image of its God. Who will inet confess the influence of a mother in forming the heart of a child ? What man is there, who cannot trace the origin of many of the best maximis of his life to the lips of her who gave him birth ? How wide, how lasting, how sacred is that part of woman's influence? Who that thinks of it, who that ascribes any moral effect to education, who that believes that any good may be produced, or any evil prevented by it, can need any arguments to prove the importance of the character and capacity of her, who gives its earliest bias to the infant mind ?

There is yet another mode, by which woman may exert a powerful influence on the virtue of a community. It rests with her, in a preeminent degree, to give tone and elevation to the moral character of the age, by deciding the

« السابقةمتابعة »