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In the best regulated seminaries vacant hours occur, many of which will be often wasted in the perufal of pernicious, or, at belt, frivolous novels *, if better books are not at hand. We are
vels, Atlasses ancient and modern, Dictionaries of Arts and Sciences, and the French and English Classics.—Having found them, on experience, well calculated for aiding the pupil in her studies, I may be allowed particularly to mention the Pronouncing Dictionary (called “ Sheridan Improved") and “ The New Biographical Dictionary" of Mr. Stephen Jones. This ingenious Author I have long most highly esteemed as a friend; but his productions I should not, merely on that ac count, here presume to recommend, if the public voice had not given an ample and honourable sanction to my humble
"The frivolity of the age (says an elegant writer) affords very shameful encouragement to a species of literary composition called a Novel, which is nothing more than a romance taken from the manners of the times ; and is, in general, worked up in such a form, as to corrupt the minds of young women, and to enable old ones to murder that time of which they have so little remaining.” It is, indeed, possible, for excellent sentiments, and valuable knowledge, to be communicated in the form of a novel ; but there are very few
productions of this kind in our language; and, in general, it is much better for young persons to employ such time as they can fpare for that purpose in the perull of real history, and of biographical accounts of persons eminent for virtue and for knowledge. The early hours of youth are invaluable, and should be constantly improved; not always, indeed, in a direct manner, and with a professed aim at improvement; yet always as really, and as effectually, as if that was, as indeed it ought to be, the study of life. No book, therefore, should be put into their hands which does not actually increase their fock of knowledge, and either explicitly or implicitly promote virtue, general or particular. Now novel-reading not only indisposes those who indalge in it for all other kinds of reading, but eventually injures the health. I have been told, says Mr. Clarkson, by a physician of the first eminence, that music and novels have done more to produce the sickly countenances and nervous habits
fully sensible, with Dr. Knox, that, as a regular course of history would too much interfere with other parts of learning in the academies of young gentlemen, some of the time of recreation must be allotted to the attainment of that invaluable acquisition. Females, in general, are exactly in the same predicament, and should, therefore, be encouraged to devote a part of those seasons of relaxation to the acquiring of a species of knowledge, which, however necessary and ornamental, the multiplicity of ordinary business renders unattainable at other times. It is hoped, that the following performance will not be thought altogether ill calculated to facilitate the desirable end just mentioned; as many of the questions in it either create some new idea, convey some useful or pleasing information, or fix the date of some memorable transaction ; a circumstance deemed of such consequence by Mrs. Chapone, that the observes, “ It is to little purpose that you are able to mention a fact, if you cannot nearly ascertain the time in which it happened; which alone, in many cases, gives importance to the fact itself." The same judicious writer elsewhere remarks, not inapplicably to the general design of the following compilation, that whatever tends to embellish the understanding, and to furnish the mind with ideas to reflect upon when alone, or to converse
of our highly-educated females, than any other causes that can be assigned.' The excess of stimulus on the mind, from the interesting and melting tales that are peculiar to novels, affects the organs of the body, and relaxes the tone of the nerves; in the same manner as the melting tones of music have been described to act upon the constitution, after the sedentary employment, necessary for skill in that science, has injured it.
Portraiture of Quakerism.
upon in company, is certainly well worth the acquisition.”
But let us direct our attention principally to female education, which judicious observers have represented as so eininently conducive to the welfare of a state. Now, in order to estimate the high obligations that women of cultivated minds may confer on the community, let us, firit, reflect with Rousseau, that “ the education of most confequence, is that which is received in infancy; and this first education belongs incontestably to the WOMEN.” The early part of education must, therefore, be one of the mother's most appropriate and most important duties.
We shall select a few examples from the ancients, especially the Roman matrons, among whom the economical virtues, particularly indefatigable industry in the cultivation of the minds of their offspring, continued longest to flourish. Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi; Aurelia, of Julius Cæsar; and Accia, of Auguftus, fuperintended the education of their respective children*. Among the GREEKS, he of whom antiquity, fanctioned by the testimony of an oraclet, boalts
* It is well observed in a recent publication by an ingenious French lady, that “ Agricola owed to his mother the possession of that stayed wisdom which is so rare, and of such difficult attainment. Louis the 12th, Francis the 1st, and Henry the 4th, are instances which shew the utmost importance of the education given to children by their mothers. Louis caused justice and humanity to reign; Francis was the patron of letters ; while Henry was the father of his fubje&ts, and France never had a greater or a better king.” Introduction to Madame Briguet's Dictionnaire Historique, &c. + Whom well inspired the oracłe pronounced Wifeft of men, Milton's Par. Regained, B. iv.
itself as of the wiselt of mortals, who is called by a modern author “the Philofophic Patriarch, and the divinest man that ever appeared in the heathen world,” even SOCRATES himself, derived considerable advantage from the conversation of Diotime and Afpafia, women who are said to have been excellently learned.
Why, demanded a Persian ambassador, are women held in such high estimation at Lacedæmon? Because, replied the confort of Leonidas, they only are competent to form men. To a Greek lady who displayed her jewels before Phocion's mother, and expressed a desire of seeing her's, the latter introduced her CHILDREN, saying, These are my jewels and ornaments; I hope they will one day be all my glory.
« Will the important business of DRESSING and going to public places," asks Dr. Knox,
prove so satisfactory to mothers, a few years hence, as the consciousness of having fown the seeds of virtue, taste, and learning, in the infant bosoms of their own offspring ?” Pitiable, indeed, is the mother, if she deserves the name, who knows not that such an office has sweets beyond the essence of perfumes, the giddy whirl of pleasure, and the incense of admiration!
If, in the next place, we observe, how greatly the conduct of men is influenced by the other fex ; what effectual discouragement their aversion gives to vice and ignorance in their male relatives and acquaintance; “ that,” as the elegant writer just quoted pertinently observes, “ the dignity of female virtue, consistently supported, is better calculated than any moral lesson to strike confusion and awe into the breast of the EMPTY and ART
FUL VILLAIN*; and that they may indeed become the BEST REFORMERS:" these, with other obvious considerations, will abundantly evince the singular advantages necessarily refulting from female improvement.
Should any doubts still remain of the very exalted benefits which, we contend, naturally and necessarily flow from female influence, let an appeal be made to matter of fact, I mean to ancient and modern history. To select only two or three prominent and decisive instances, out of the innumerable examples which the records of all nations supply; who is ignorant of the patriotic ardour, the invincible intrepidity, inspired by the truly laconic admonition of the Spartan matrons to their husbands and fons, when, after the last embrace that preceded an expected conflict, they charged them to return either with OR UPON THEIR SHIELDS tz" In Dr. Gordon's History of the
* Remarkable is the confession of a professed libertine on this subject : “ A chaste, a virtuous woman, is an awful character; something preternatural seems to surround her, and shroud her from profane approach.”
LORD LYTTELTON's Posthumous Letters.
MILTON. + It was the first and most inviolable law of war with the Spartans, never to flee, or turn their backs, whatever superiority of numbers the enemy's army might consist of; never to quit their post; never to deliver up their arms; in a word, either to conquer, or to die on the spot.-And sometimes those who were flain were brought home upon their shields. I Chastity.