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their dispositions. Agam, they may be wives; and it is the part of education to qualify and prepare them to be good wives—conversable-mild and affectionatediscreet-hospitable, and yet frugal-looking well to the ways of their households. Finally, they may be mothers; and it is the part of education, to qualify them, as mothers, to educate their children. In this one particular, women have a most important part to act. Women, as mothers, do in a great measure form the characters of future women and of future men; since the formation of character, for the first seven or eight years of life, depends chiefly on them. If they are well informed, discreet, and of goodly morals, their children are made, partly by their instruction and partly by imitation, to assimilate to these qualities. But if they are vain and frivolous, their little ones soon catch the contagion of their vanity and frivolity.
The foregoing particulars embrace most of the primary qualities or indispensable rudiments of a good female education. And yet, quite often is it remarked of females, that they have had an excellent education, merely because they have been taught the female accomplishments. Very little attention was ever paid to the culture of their understandings, of their minds, of their hearts, of their tempers. But, with much pains, and at considerable expense, they have got a smatter, of what are called the fine arts, such as Embroidery, Drawing, Music, and so on. They have learned the discipline of the fingers, and of the feet; and for this reason alone, their education is held in admiration. As if mere accomplishments, which usually become obsolete soon after marriage, were sufficient to prepare women to be excellent wives, excellent mothers, and excellent house-keepers; as if a merely accomplished woman were fitted either to act her part respectably in society, or to take comfort in the solitude of retirement, or under the decays of age; or as if the modesty and the refined manners of women spring froin accomplishments, rather than from their being well taught in moral and religious duty. So far from all this, a married woman of,mere accomplishments, and whose chief ambition is, to make a figure in the eye of the public--seldom fails of rendering her husband wulappy, and herself too.
In the school of Fashion, female accomplishments have long had the ascendant. Nor is it to my purpose to decry or despise them. Let those have them, if they please, whose rank in life requires it, and whose ample fortunes can well afford the expense. Yet, even by them, be it remembered, that they are but of trifling account in comparison of the solid and useful parts of education. If accomplishments be added to these, they may serve for adorning the whole: but hapless will be the husband and the children of the woman, and quite as hapless the woman herself, who rests her character and conduct in life upon accomplishments alone.
As to families of the common sort, possessed neither of high rank nor of considerable fortunes, the plain, useful education, is the best for their daughters. This is all that can, ordinarily, do them any good; and more than this may do them much harm. A very ancient and a very respectable writer—whom we ought to read much oftener than we do—hath told us of a knowledge that puffeth up.* And perhaps there is no kind of knowledge more puffing, than the one I have now been mentioning. A female, of scanty information and weak intellects, so values herself for the circumstance of her being initiated in the practice of some of the fine arts, that she loses by it the use of her hands. She will vouchsafe indeed to employ her pretty fingers, now and then, in fancy-work for amusement; but in nothing that is really useful; in nothing that earns bread; in nothing that can turn to any valuable account. Perhaps she is in impoverished circumstances: perhaps her condition is such as imperiously calls for the useful labor of her hands. It makes no difference. She is not of the laboring class, but far above it. She, do the common work of womankind; she, who had gone through all the grades of fashionable education! The idea is too monstrous.
Thus, instead of being made by their education, the more capable of helping themselves in this world of “thorns and thistles," of labor, toil, and hardship; there are some, and perhaps not a few, whose very education renders them but the more helpless. I will conclude with an interesting piece of history, which shows the unspeakable worth of a sensible, righthearted, and well educated woman.
In the arbitrary and odious reign of one of the Stuarts, there came before judge Croke a case between the crown and a subject; a case, upon the issue of which the liberties of the nation were suspended. The judge, depondent on the crown for a livelihood, liable at any moment to be thrust from office, and having a family to support, had resolved to give his opinion in favor of the royal prerogative; when his tutelar angel--- his wife-rescued his sinking virtue. She told him “she hoped he would do nothing against his conscience, for fear of any danger or prejudice to him or his family, and that she would be content to suffer want, or any misery with him, rather than be an occasion for him to do or say any thing against his judgment or conscience."
She prevailed; the decision was given in favor of the rights of the people, and the nation was saved from civil oppression and thraldoin'by her means.
Of officiously meddling with, and a total disregard of, the
affairs of others.
SOCIETY has been infested, in all ages of the world, with persons prone to intrude themselves into the concerns of their neighbors; with tattlers and busy-bodies. Indeed some of this sort are quite ingenious in their way; their minds resembling a fertile soil
, which for want of proper culture, bears nothing but weeds and poisonous plants.
Not but that an officious intermeddler, or even a talebearer, may mean no harm; the one being actuated by an undue opinion of his own importance, and the other from the vanity of appearing to know the characters and the concerns of all about him. But intentional sowers of discord, who, from envy, malice, or the love of mischief, employ themselves in breeding dissentions in families and neighborhoods, are as pestilent as thieves and robbers; and the less they are punishable by civil law, the more should they be made to feel that species of punishment which public opinion inflicts.
Parents and preceptors can hardly do a better service for their children, than by principling their ininds and fixing their hearts against faults so pernicious to society and so ruinous to character: faults which are curable when they first appear in the young mind, but which grow into inveterate habits by the indulgence of neglect. It is hardly conceivable what a vast amount of evil might be prevented if the young were taught as generally and as carefully in this particular, as they are in the first rudiments of learning.
By those who, from habit or from temper, make it their business and delight to pry into and publish the failings of others, be it remembered, “that at that day when the failings of all shall be made manifest, the attention of each individual will be fixed only on his own.”
There is a fault, however, directly opposite to that of officiously meddling with the concerns of our neighbors: I mean the absence of all heartfelt concern for any
but ourselves and our near relations. This fault, however artfully it may be covered, springs, for the most part, from sordid selfishness, or from apathy of heart.
Selfishness, which is the love of self and every thing else for the sake of self, has the power of keeping some persons at a vast distance from interfering with their neighbors' affairs, for which they care not a whit any farther than such extraneous affairs have a bearing upon their own personal interests. So also the cold-hearted, in whose bosoms is the perpetual calm of apathy, trouble not their neighbors as busy bodies in tileir matters; because they have not enough energy of soul either to love or to hate in good earnest. Now it is often the case, that some, belonging to each of these two classes, value themselves highly upon their practical abstraction from all concerns but their own, and boast of it as a shining virtue. “We are not meddlers, not we. It is our manner to mind our own business, and to let all other folks alone.” Nevertheless, if they would open the folds of their own hearts and observe fairly what is going on there, they would find that their not being tion;
meddlers is owing to any thing else, rather than to a pure principle of virtue.
And here it is not unimportant to remark, that it is no less the purpose and business of proper education to foster and encourage the social feelings of our nature, than it is to eradicate dispositions of intrusive meddling; for if one without warmth of heart any way, be seldom tempted to become a busy-body in other men's matters, he as seldom is much better than a mere blank in society-doing little mischief, and as little good.
Am I my brother's keeper ?_We know who said it. And so, in numerous instances, when one is ruining himself and family by the mismanagement of his affairs, or when one betrays the symptoms of an inceptive vice, which, growing into a habit, would land him in perdi
his neighbors coolly look on, saying in their hearts, and to one another, “ It is his own affair.” Not employing a single effort to save him, though, often, betwixt themselves, they shake the head and remark, that he is in the road to ruin. Perhaps it is a youth, that is supposed to have stepped into this fatal road; a young man of good promise, or a young woman of amiable dispositions, but wanting discretion. Perhaps that youth is an orphan, and errs for lack of the guiding hand of a parent. It is all the same. Every body is sorry, distressingly sorry indeed! but no body moves the tongue, or lifts a finger, for the purpose of rescue or prevention.
It is not so that we act in other respects. gle hard to save a fellow being that is drowning before our eyes. Should we see a man stand upon the brink of a frightful precipice, and unconscious of his danger, doubtless we would instantly give him warning. Hardly would we neglect to snatch either the empoisoned bowl from the lips of one that mistook the poison for a wholesome beverage, or the knife or razor from the throat of a man or woman in the act of committing suicide. Common humanity impels us to acts of this sort. And yet when we see in scarcely less jeopardy of another kind, a neighbor, an acquaintance-one whom the offices of discreet and faithful friendship might perhaps rescue and restore-we are listless we let him alone we'll not meddle--'tis his own affair!