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Then it was thought sufficient to give to women a merely useful education, to teach them the plain household duties, how to cook, and make, and mend, how to conduct with prudence and economy their domestic affairs. The libraries, to which it was thought necessary that they should have access, were very small. Mrs. Glass' Art of Cooking made plain and easy, Pilgrim's Progress, and the seven tedious volumes of Sir Charles Grandison, were too often the literary apparatus, by which our grand mothers were to be made good wives, fine ladies, and pious Christians. Then there succeeded a rage for accomplishments. To sing, to play, and speak French, these were the essentials of a good education. It was found however, that singing and playing were soon given over, and like the singing of certain insects it made no provision for the winter of age, and it was discovered that it was quite as agreeable to talk folly in English as French, and a great deal less trouble. Then came the fashion for graver studies, Mathematics, the Ancient Languages, Logic and Metaphysics. Thus opinions upon female education have completed the cycle, and under
gone a complete revolution. They have been useful, inasmuch as they have exhibited the different aspects of an important subject. They were each imperfect, not because they were untrue, but because they did not present the whole truth. That education is good, not which holds to the one and despises the other, but that which embraces them all. Each of them looks to a different relation in which woman is placed, one to making her useful in the narrowest utilitarian sense, another to making her agreeable, and the third would give her resources of happiness within herself. The woman who has received a proportionate culture in each of these departments is educated, is made as perfect as she is capable of becoming.
I place the education to domestic duties first, as essential and indispensable. No woman is educated who is not equal to the successful management of a family. Although it does not require so much talent to rule a household as it does to govern a state, still it requires talents of the same kind. As he makes the best general who has begun at the lowest post, and passed up through every grade of office, as he makes
the best admiral who entered the navy in the most inferior station, because they and they alone are acquainted with the whole compass of a subaltern's duty, so that woman will manage a family with the greatest ease and efficiency, who knows experimentally the duties of every member of it. Daughters who neglect this part of education are entirely without excuse, and their mothers are still more to blame. The very apology, which is often made for the neglect of it is the greatest condemnation of those who offer it. It is said by those who are growing up in ignorance of these things; “Any one can learn how to keep house when it is necessary. Any one, who loves her husband and is devoted to his interests will make herself accomplished in those things as soon as she is married.” I confess that such reasoning as this fills me with astonishment. As well might the young man say; “Of what use is it for me to learn a profession, or make myself acquainted with the details of any business. When I am married, if I love my wife, it will then be time enough to learn a profession, or to accomplish myself in the details of business.” Would there be any
surer omen of total failure and discomfiture? It is much more to be feared that a total deficiency in their appropriate spheres will destroy mutual respect, and finally mutual affection, than to be hoped that affection in a few weeks will remedy the defects of years. A girl should learn to do every thing that a woman can ever be called upon to do or to oversee. That, which a woman can learn to do in a few months under the tuition of love, can certainly be learned to much greater advantage under the tuition of a mother. If it is all so easy to learn, then certainly they are utterly inexcusable who neglect it. It is no degradation to the finest lady to know all the details of domestic affairs. It is honorable, and ought to be her pride. A woman though she may be as beautiful as the morning, as wise as Minerva, and as accomplished as the Graces, ought to know all the details of house affairs. She ought to know how every thing is preserved and kept in order. She ought to know how every thing is cooked that is an article of food, how every thing is cut out, made, and mended that is worn, and what is the ordinary cost and consumption of the various
articles of domestic use. It will be to her neither injury nor degradation if she add to these the accomplishments of an able accountant and negotiator. The duties of nurse she must learn at some period of her life by the stern constraint of necessity, and the sooner they are learned the better.
These are the domestic accomplishments which are indispensable to a good wife, and it is all a miserable delusion to imagine that they can be acquired on occasion. Nothing but practice can make us perfect in any thing. As these are duties which must inevitably fall to the lot of woman, be she high or low, rich or poor, she cannot neglect them in early life without being false to her most important interests. All the experience she gets under the instructions of a mother will increase her chance of happiness whenever she shall be called to preside over a family. I counsel every mother and daughter to take this matter into serious consideration as vital to domestic happiness and permanent prosperity. There is nothing more embarrassing than to be thrown into a condition, in which we do not know how to act, especially when it is for the want of that