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day. The foul report is for some time communicated in whispers, accompanied with solemn injunctions of secrecy. Every one professes to hope it is not true, and yet every one whispers it to every one's acquaintance. If it be a young female that the story is about, one that is distinguished by some personal attractions; lo, the rueful faces of the rival young sisterhood and their good mothers! Crumpling up their mouths while they are spreading it, and every now and then venting a deep sigh, they hope, forsooth, the thing is not quite so bad, but are sorely afraid there is too much truth in it. At length it becomes a common report; a matter of public notoriety. It is in every body's mouth, and every body must believe it; because, according to one orthodox old saying, “What every body says, must be true;" and, according to another of equally sacred authority,
Where there is much smoke, there must be some fire." It is a settled point. In the public opinion, the case is decided, and the defamed party is cast. All are of one mind, that there must be something in it; though, here and there, one charitable body or another expresses a faint hope that the affair may not turn out to be quite so scandalous as it is represented.
Last of all, after the lapse of months, or perhaps of a year, it reaches the astonished ears of the person most immediately concerned. It is sifted, and turns out a sheer fabrication, invented and first put in circulation, by Nobody. Search is made in vain for the author, who lies snugly concealed amidst the multitude.
Well, then, the matter is cleared up, and all the slur is wiped away at least from the character of the defamed. Not exactly so, nor indeed can it be. Some are no less loath to disbelieve, than they were forward to believe. Some who pretend to be mighty glad at the result, secretly wish it had been a little otherwise. Some have their doubts still, but charitably believe that, in the main, the poor girl“ is more sinned against than sinning." And some again, have no inclination to examine the disproof of the calumny, though they had swallowed it with a voracious appetite.
“ If she have cleared herself of the aspersion, it is well; we wish the girl no harm: but, for our part, we have our own opinion about that matter, and leave it to others to think as they please.”—At the same time they look wonderful wise, and not a little mysterious.
Of Brevity in relation to sundry particulars.
Dr. Cotton MATHER, of venerated memory, in order to escape the calamity of tedious visits, wrote over the door of his study, in large letters, BE SHORT. A pithy sentence in truth it is, and well worthy of remembrance in a great many more cases than I can now enumerate.
The interchange of friendly visits is one of the most precious sweets of life. But then, it must not be overdone; else it becomes irksomé and disgusting. Hence, in the book of the Wise Man, we meet with the following wholesome counsel: “Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbor's house, lest he be weary of thee.” Now the necessary discipline of the foot, which is here inculcated, is, if I may presume to comment, of the following import:—Beware of spinning out your friendly visits beyond due length. Retire, if you perceive any necessary business which your stay might interrupt; retire, ere the family, after an hour's yawning, begin to steal off, one by one, to bed; retire, ere plain symptoms of weariness appear
in the countenances of the little circle you are visiting; retire, ere, in some undescribable manner or other, it be manifested that your room would be more welcome than your company. When you have made your friends glad by your coming, stay not so long as to inake them still more glad by your going away.
In time long past, the lord of a manor upon one of the banks of the Hudson, is said to have had a way of his own to clear his house of visitants. When his tenants, to whom he was affable and courteous, seemed disposed to prolong the visits which they now and then made him, he dropped the Dutch tongue, and began speaking to them in English: whereupon the honest Dutchmen, understanding the signal, hied away.
But the sage counsel, BE SHORT, applies not to visitants alone. It might be made of like precious use to authors and public speakers, who too often lack one valuable kind of knowledge, namely, “that of discerning when to have done."
“ Tediousness," as a writer of eminent abilities observes, is the fault that most generally displeases : since it is a fault that is felt by all, and by all equally. You may offend your reader or hearer in one respect, and please him in another; but if you tire him out with your tediousness, you give him unmingled disgust.”
A book can do but little good if it be but little read: a destiny that befals almost every book that is found to be unnecessarily prolix and bulky. This was the error of a former age. The massy folios of the last century but one, folios written by men of great talents and astonishing learning, have lain as lumber, and been confined to the shelves of the curious, for no other reason than because every thread has been spun out to the greatest possible length. Whereas had the highly respectable authors learned to be short, or given heed to the art of compressing their thoughts, they never would have wanted for readers.
Writers, sometimes, eke out their subject far beyond what need requires, from a mistaken ambition of making a great book. But readers of the present age generally lean to the sentiment in the old Greek proverb, “A great book is a great evil.” It frightens them: they will scarcely open it, and much less set themselves to the task of reading it throughout.
Thus, in this respect, it is with books as with money. As small change, in quick and constant circulation, does more good than ingots of gold and silver hoarded up, so a small book that has a great many readers, is, is truly a good one, of much more benefit than a volume of enormous bulk, which, for that single reason, is. scarcely read at all. Nay, I will even venture to affirm, that te Bible itself would be much less read, and read with much less delight, were it one and indivisible. But the Bible, though bound together in one volume, is not a single book, but a collection of sixty-eight different books, all penned with brevity as well as with inimitable sim
plicity; and arresting the attention, alike by the weight of their matter and their engagingness of manner.
Speak, young man, if there be need of thee, but be short-is a monitory saying of the son of Sirach, which, together with the two following short sayings of that eminent sage-Learn before thou speak—We may speak much and yet come short-compose, all three, a very good recipe for young men to carry about, and make use of as occasions may require.
Speeches in the hall of legislation, pleas at the bar, and even sermons, when they are of immoderate length, seldom fail to be tiresome. So that public speakers consult their own credit as little as they do the feelings of their hearers, when they are more solicitous to say much, than that every thing they do say should be to the purpose.
Whether in visits, in public speaking, or in common conversation, all can discern and reprobate the fault of tediousness as respects others; and yet very few are sully aware of it as respects themselves. Their own company is, forsooth, so delightful, that their visits can never tire; they themselves speak so well that nobody can wish them to have done; they talk so charmingly that their own loquaciousness always gives entertainment rather than disgust.
Thus it is that some men, otherwise of good sense, unconsciously give pain by their prolixity, though in regard to the prolixity of any body but themselves, their taste is delicate even to squeamishness.
of regarding Accomplishments as the principal part of
AMONG all the wants of humanity, few are more deplorable than the want of discrimination between things of great and things of little importance. The absence either of the existence or of the exercise of the faculty of such discrimination, occasions a considerable part of the errors of life. For, not to speak of the fatal error of preferring things temporaneous and transitory to what is infinitely momentous--often, very often, in merely our worldly concerns, we sacrifice the greater to the less. It would not be difficult to exemplify this sentiment in a variety of instances; but I will confine myself to one alone-Female Education.
We live in an age wherein few, if any, whose opinions are worth notice, will deny the necessity of educating, and of well educating, the female part of our species. Passing over, therefore, this point upon which there is so general an agreement, I will mention, and but hirely mention, the primary qualities of a good female education.
The great benefit of education, and what should ever be its ultiinate design, consists in its tendency to prepare the pupils to act the parts allotted them with propriety, both as immortal and as mortat beings; and, in this view, education has an equal bearing upon both the sexes.
Female education, conducted upon rational principles, regards the parts that females are ordinarily destined to act upon the theatre of social life. Female children, in common with those of the other sex, are moral and accountable beings, destined to an immortal existence, and should therefore be assiduously taught, “the moral and religious knowledge of right and wrong, or their duty to God, to themselves, and to their fellow creatures. As social beings, their understandings must be cultivated. As moral beings, their hearts should receive moral and pious culture. They may meet with unforeseen temptations and snares, and should be taught self-government, modesty, and delicacy of thought, of speech, and of action. They may meet with hard and distressing trials, and should be early taught the value of a meek and humble spirit, which, in some women under adversity, has shone with a lustre surpassing that of the diamond. Moreover, they may be destined, however worthy or estimable, to lead a single and solitary life; and they should be so educated that, having resources in their own minds, they will be able, not only to endure, but to enjoy, their hours of retirement and solitude, and to make themselves respectable and agreeable, by the good sense of their conversation, and the benevolence of