« 上一頁繼續 »
is freed from the dominion of what is most painful and depressing in our condition, and revels in all the joys of the past, the present, and the future. Sickness forgets its -pains, sorrow suspends its sigh, age loses the consciousness of wrinkles and gray hairs, the exile is restored to his native shores, and the soul, freed in some measure from the environments of time and space, catches glimpses, more perfect, perhaps, than at any other time of that state which the poet has so eloquently described;
“When coldness wraps this suffering clay,
Ah! whither strays the immortal mind?
But leaves its darkened dust behind.
By steps each planet's heavenly way?
A thing of eyes, that all survey?
“Eternal, boundless, undecay'd,
A thought unseen, but seeing all,
Shall it survey, shall it recall:
Let the daughter be instructed in music if she have the talent for it. Nothing more enlivens and adorns the domestic circle. Nothing furnishes a more innocent and refreshing recreation for family and social gatherings, which are the best preservatives against the temptations that are every where laid in the way of the young.
But the day for accomplishments is brief and soon passes away. The time soon comes when the exercise of the accomplishments becomes both tasteless and inappropriate. The bloom of youth no longer sits upon the cheek, and grace and symmetry have departed from the form and motions. With those attractions a measure of that attention, which they once commanded begins to fall off. How desolate the condition of that woman who has cultivated nothing else! Then appears the necessity of the third branch of female education, which I intend in what remains of this lecture strongly to urge upon your attention, the cultivation of the mind. To this a woman is bound by a regard for her own happiness. The day must come when she will be thrown upon her own resources. Those resources must
exist mainly in her own mind. If she seeks society after the day of accomplishments is over, her pleasures must then be intellectual, and her attractions too. The beauties of a well stored mind will still draw around her a circle of eager listeners, when the charms of her person are gone. A sensible and brilliant conversation will attract the notice of the well educated of the other sex more than a coronet of jewels. At home, where most of her time must be passed, many an hour will hang heavily if its vacuity be not supplied by books. Books will afford no effectual aid, unless a taste for them has been early cultivated. What is a woman to do with herself at home or abroad, whose education has fitted her only for the enjoyment of the bloom of life? Her heart and soul are still in scenes and occupations which are appropriate only to the young, and her employment too often becomes the retail of the merest trifles of the time. Without the stores of knowledge and of thought she is overtaken by the shadows of the evening of life without that dignity which is the proper ornament of age. Habits of intellectual culture it is then too late to acquire. It is only
early mental discipline which can render reading either agreeable or useful in advanced life. The great entertainments of all ages are reading, conversation, and thought. If our existence, especially after middle life, is not enriched by these, it becomes meagre and dull indeed. And these will prove sources of pleasure just in proportion to previous intellectual culture. How is that mind to have subject matter of pleasurable thought during its solitary hours, which has no knowledge of the treasures of literature and science, which has made no extensive acquaintance with the distant and the past? And what is conversation between those who know nothing? But on the other hand what delight is that mind enabled to receive and impart, which is able to discuss any topic that comes up with accuracy, copiousness, eloquence, and beauty! The woman, who possesses this power, can never fail to render herself agreeable and useful in any circle into which she may be thrown, and when she is so she cannot fail to be happy. A full mind, a large heart, and an eloquent tongue are among the most precious of human things. The young forsake their sports and gather round, the old draw nigh to hear, and all involuntarily bow down to the supremacy of mind. These endowments add brilliancy to youth and beauty, and when all other charms are departed they make old age sacred, venerable, beloved.
I never read that heartless jest of Pope without a species of indignation:
“Most women have no characters at all.”
If it were a fact, which it is not, who is to blame for it? In nine cases out of ten, those who have withheld from them a proper
and sufficient education. Knowledge and enlightened culture are the only basis of character. The mind can wax strong only by exercise. Withhold from the mind intellectual discipline, books and intelligent society, and fill it with a succession of trifles, and how can it be otherwise than empty and frivolous? To the cultivated and uncultivated mind the opportunities of observation, which intercourse with the world affords, are a totally different thing. Intellectual culture gives a keener and deeper insight to the mental vision, and confers the power of reading at a glance, what the uncultivated spell out only by syllables and never tho