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are receding before the clear light of science, and the mind is becoining more enlarged and elevated upon the interesting subject. We shall not at present discuss this much controverted point, “whether women are endowed with faculties and talents equal to those of the stronger sex," but satisfy ourselves, and we trust our readers, with the belief that Infinite Wisdom has conferred upon each sex, exactly those powers of body and mind, which are best calculated for their peculiar sphere of action in life.
Much has been written upon the subject of these letters, yet perhaps no work of the kind has yet appeared, better adapted to the situation and circumstances of the female youth of our country, than the one now under consideration. The causes which influenced the author to prepare this work are interesting, and calculated to call forth all the tenderness of an affectionate parent. Having just closed the eyes of the partner of his life, and discharged the last duties to one whom he held most dear, it cannot be otherwise, than that he should deeply feel his own responsibility, and be solemnly impressed with a sense of his own frailty.
With this rleep anxiety for the temporal and eternal welfare of a motherless daughter, the writer commences his letters with an affectionate and earnest recommendation of the first great object of life :
“I need hardly tell you that my first and most fervent prayer on your behalf is, that you remember your Creator in the days of your youth. Unless you are practically religious, and embrace the gospel as a redeeming and purifying system, it will profit you nothing in the end, that you have every other accomplishment which can adorn your character, or recommend you to the world. In the progress of these letters, I shall dwell upon the subjects of practical religion, with some degree of particularity; and I wish you to remember, while I am directing your attention to other subjects, that they are all subordinate to this."
To this subject, though acknowledged to be of the greatest consequence, the attention of comparatively very few of our young females is directed. More solicitous to obtain those accomplishments which will enable them to move with propriety in the more polished circles of society, and seeking only those exterior graces which endure but for a moment; they too habitually neglect to obtain that spirit and cultivate those feelings, which, when the beauty of youth shall have faded, and the scenes of earthly enjoyment gone by, will cheer the close of their journey, and illumine their passage through the valley of the shadow of death. Alas! how many, who are now loved and admired, will be found at last destitute of a Saviour's love, and who shine in the first ranks of life, that will not shine in the paradise above.
With respect to “ early friendships,” our author has, with much judgment, laid down two principal rules ; " that particular friends should not be numerous," and that, “ in the selection of those, much care should be observed.” On this subject we only remark, that to this sentiment we yield our most cordial assent. Naturally communicative and confiding, as we believe females generally to be, especially in early life, there is certainly in this point no small danger, and the evils resulting from this neglect are numerous and great: so necessary it is to permanent and solid friendship, that a mutual and unreserved confidence should be felt, the utmost caution is necessary lest this confidence should be misplaced, and thus the bonds which unite kindred souls in the most delightful concord, should at once be sundered, and our peace for years destroyed. We will dismiss the subject of this letter with a single extract, in reference to the treatment of friends.
“ If you discover faults in their characters, be not backward to administer a gentle admonition ; but never wound them unnecessarily, by putting into their ears the unmeaning speeches of fools and busy-bodies. I know this is sometimes considered an act of friendship; but you may rely upon it, it is an act which true friendship peremptorily forbids."
The subject of education he has divided into three parts, comprising the solid, and the ornamental branches, and domestic economy. In reference to this subject, especially the first particular, we are not so fortunate as to agree, perfectly, with the sentiment which is advanced. The elementary branches, indeed, every person, whatever be her station in life, should perfectly understand. “ History, Rhetoric, and Natural Philosophy" are, with great propriety, recommended, while Mathematical sciences are spoken of as being of minor importance.
He then proceeds to speak of a knowledge of the Latin and Greek languages, as being very desirable, and some acquaintance with the modern languages of Europe as a handsome accomplishment. The study of the dead languages is represented as calculated to strengthen and enlarge the mind, when the nature of the mind itself, as exhibited in the writings of Locke and Stuart, is left entirely out of the account. It is on this point, more especially, that we differ from our author. Nothing, in our opinion, is better calculated to improve the understanding and to mature the reasoning powers than an acquaintance with the writings of these men, and a knowledge of the rules of logic.
Geometry, even in the education of ladies, is, we believe, generally preferred to the languages, as a discipline of the mind, and as giving correct and definite views of any subject which is presented in the common concerns of life.
What is said upon the ornamental branches is probably correct, and needs no comment. The last, and by no means the most unimportant branch of education, is truly deserving the careful perusal of every female into whose hands these letters may fall. This part of the subject, we think, is most ably treated, and, would our limits permit, we would with pleasure insert the whole letter, as the subject itself is one of which, it is to be feared, too great a portion of our females are shamefully ignorant.
The remarks of our author upon“ general reading,” are deserving the careful perusal of every female, who has in her possession this pleasant and fruitful source of information. So numerous are the publications of the present day, and many of them indeeil valuable, that very few, even of the most extensive readers, can peruse more than a small portion of the works which are laid before them. It becomes then extremely important that a judicious selection should be made of those books which are most interesting and useful. Nothing is more calculated to defeat the object of reading than the
hasty glance which is often given to every thing which comes promiscuously from the press. The mind becomes burdened with mere trash, and only a vague, confused idea is obtained of those subjects which are worthy of a careful attention. If a book is worth reading at all, it is worth reading twice, with care; for very few minds can comprehend the design, and imbibe the sentiments of an author perfectly by one perusal; the connection and dependence of the different parts is not, in most instances, observed, and no lasting impression is left upon the mind.
System is, with the greatest propriety, strongly recommended, and upon this subject we will give the language of our author.
“ You will find great advantage in having the different departments of literature and science with which you are conversant, so far systematized in your mind, that you will be able to refer every book that you read to some one of them. In this way, your mind will become an intellectual storehouse, accommodated to the reception of every kind of useful materials; and its various apartments arranged with so much skill and order, that you will never be at a loss where to deposit any new article of knowledge, nor where to find any which you had previously deposited.”
The general direction which is given in regard to the selection of books, cannot be too rigidly observed, that is, that “ while you carefully avoid all works of immoral tendency, you choose those which, on the whole, are best adapted to increase your stock of useful knowledge, and practical wisdom.”
We will not follow particularly the different kinds of reading adverted to in this letter, but proceed to a few remarks upon that to which young females are usually most inclined, namely, fictitious history.
“ There are a few works,” continues our author, “ of this kind, which are written with an unusual elevation of moral feeling, and which may be read with no small intellectual and moral advantage. Those, perhaps, which are distinguished in this respect, above all others, are the novels of Richardson. The modern novels, which are attributed to Walter Scott, are, for the most part, of unexceptionable moral tendency, and abound in critical views of human nature. But while I give my testimony in favour of a few of these productions, I have no hesitation to pronounce the great mass of them, as of dangerous tendency, and wholly unworthy the attention of a female. A character formed by the reading of such trash, will combine all the elements of insipidity, corruption and moral death. Many a young female has been obliged to trace to this cause the destruction of her principles, her character, and ultimately, her life: and if she have escaped these greater evils, she is still unfitted for solid intellectual enjoyment, and for a life of active use. fulness."
To these remarks, for the most part, we yield our cordial assent; yet it is to be feared that very few even of that class of novels called * religious novels," have, on the whole, a favourable influence upon the moral character. We are well aware that by coming out on this question, we do not strike the cord which sounds most gratefully to the popular ear; but still, may it not be questioned whether it would not be more for the present and future welfare of the community, if this class of publications were universally proscribed. The fact that the work we peruse is a novel, that it is not a narration of fact, has a tendency to weaken any good effect that would otherwise be produced. The arguments that are often addıced in defence of these publications, are numerous and plausible ; yet upon careful examination they will be found to have, at best, a very slight bearing upon the favorable side of their moral influence. They are said to give accurate views of human nature, to present critical descriptions of the passions and habits of men; but we will venture to enquire for the solitary instance in which a person who, sitting down to the attentive perusal of a novel, however religious it might be, has left it with a heart warmed with an increased flame of devotion, or excited to more unwearied diligence in behalf of the souls of his fellow men. Has the tender female, whose heart has bled at the tale of imaginary suffering, been stimulated to more activity in behalf of those of her sex suffering under the weight of real evils, and sunk to the lowest depth of moral degradation ? Until instances like these can be produced, tell us no more of the moral benefit of novels. Even the novels attributed to Scott, which our author recommends, cannot wholly escape censure. They, indeed, have had a favourable influence, so far as they have elevated the taste, and diverted the attention of readers from works more exceptionable; yet, in many instances, they treat with irreverence the name of the Supreme Being, and narrow down to a mere point the broad distinction, which the Sacred Scriptures make between virtue and vice.
The subject which next comes under consideration, is one of no small moment to that class of society for whose benefit these letters were published. A proper degree of independence of mind is the brightest star in the constellation of female excellencies. It is this firm adherence to principle that binds in unison all the other beauties. and gives system and elegance to the whole train of female accomplishments. Without this decision, woman is exposed to all the rude buffetings of a selfish world, and liable to be drawn from the path of peace and happiness by the arts of the flatterer, and led into sin by the treacherous artifices of the unprincipled and licentious. True, the native delicacy of the female mind will ever shrink from any thing like obstinacy or stubbornness, yet this it may safely do without forfeiting, in the slightest degree, that steadfast attachment to conscious rectitude, which is the only sure defence of female virtue. We apprehend that, in this respect, many of the other sex could they be weighed in the balance of impartiality, would be found wanting. A steady, determined perseverance in any measure whose object is laudable, is a trait of character peculiarly desirable, and without it little good will be effected. To use the language of our author, “ It will secure you, more than any thing else, except a principle of Christian holiness, against false opinion and corrupt practice; it will be a shield, which will protect you from the impositions of the world, and in a great measure also, from its scandal and reproach ; for it confers a majesty upon the character, which the world cannot but respect, and with which it will not venture to trifle.”
(To be continued.)
THE world had just woke from a plentiful shower,
All nature around me was stillness and peace;
I glanc'd on the bush, as it glittering hung,
For the lilac's new brilliancy, fragrance and play,
“ The brightness of beauty-how can it decay?
The reply was at hand;-as she struck the guitar
But will not their beauty the blossoms protect
Alas, fair enthusiast! pride thee no more
ARGUMENTS ADDRESSED TO THOSE WIIO NEGLECT TO AT.
TEND PUBLIC WORSHIP,
1st. WE urge you who neglect it, to attend the house of God, because we believe this will promote your temporal interest.
This we think our weakest argument, since if it injured your temporal interest, we should be no less urgent. Still we urge this argument, fearing that, to some of our readers, the weakest argument will prove the most convincing.