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the conduct of daughters than of sons; and one young lady going astray shall subject her relations to such discredit and distress, as the united good conduct of all her brothers and sisters, supposing them numerous, shall scarce ever be able to repair. But I press not any farther an argument so ex. seedingly plain. We can prognosticate nothing virtuous, nothing happy, concerning those wretchcd creatures of either sex, thet do not feel for the satisfaction, ease, or honour of their parents.
Another and a principal source of your importar e is the very great and extensive influence with w " you, in general, have with our sex. There is'spt female youth an attraction, which every man of t? least sensibility must perceive. If assisted by beauty, it becomes in the first impression irresistible. Your power so far we do not affect to con ceal. That He who made us meant it thus, is mani. fest from his having" 'ampered our hearts to such emotions. Would to God'You knew how to improve this power to its noblest ends ! - We should then rejoice to see it increased : then indeed it would be increased of course. Youth and beauty, set off with sweetness and virtue, capacity and discretion--what have not they accomplished ?
Far be it from me, my fair hearers, to damp your spirits, or to wish in the least to abridge your triumphs : on the contrary, by assisting you to direct, we would contribute to exalt and extend them. We are always sorry when we see them misplaced or abused; and I was going to add, there is nothing more common. To give them their just direction, is truly a nice point. Power, from whatever source derived, is always in danger of turning the head. It has turned many an old one,
What then shall become of a young woman placed on such a precipice? What can balance or preserve her, but sobriety and caution, a good Providence, and good advice?
There are few young women who do not appear agreeable in the eyes of some men. And what might not be done by the greater part of your sex to procure solid esteem, and to promote general reformation among our sex? Are such objects un-' worthy your pursuit? or will ye say, that those which frequently engage it are of superior or equal importance ?
If men discover that you study to captivate, by an outside only, or by little frivolous arts.ee are, it must be confessed, many of them the will rejoice at the discovery; and while they themselves seem taken by the lure, they will endeavour in re. ality to make
Sonce more senti. mental spirits, who might binekizzled in the beginning, will be soon disapused ; and a few more honourable characters will scorn to take advantage of your folly. Folly most undoubtedly it is, by a wrong application of your force to lose the substance for the shadow.
Now and then a giddy youth may be caught. But what is the shallow admiration of a hundred such, or the smooth address of artful destroyers, to the heartfelt respect of men of worth and discernment, or the well-earned praise of reclaiming were it but one offender? I verily believe you might reclaim a mwltitude. I can hardly conceive that any man would be able to withstand the soft persuasion of your words, but chiefly of your looks and actions, habitually exerted on the side of goodness.
« Were Virtue,” said an ancient philosopher, to appear among men in visible shape, what vehe
ment desires would she enkindle !" Virtue exhibited without affectation by a lovely young person, of improved understanding and gentle manners, may be said to appear with the most alluring aspect, surrounded by the Graces; and that breast must be cold indeed which does not take fire at the sight!
The influence of the sexes is, no doubt, reciprocal ; but I must ever be of opinion, that yours is the greatest. How often have I seen a company c pen who were disposed to be riotous, checked alzat once into decency by the accidental entrance of ar Damiable woman; while her good sense and obliging deportment charmed them into at least a temporary conviction, that there is nothing beautiful as femste excellence, nothing so delightful as feinale conversione in its best form! Were such conviction frequently répieucte (and it would be frequently repeated, if such excellence and such conversation were more general,) what might we not expect from it at last?
In the mean time, it were easy to point out instances of the most evident reformation wrought on particular men, by their having happily conceived a passion for virtuous women: but amongst the least valuable of
your sex, when have
that were amended by the society or example of the better part of ours?
To form the manners of men various causes contribute ; but nothing, I apprehend, so much as the turn of the woman with whom they converse. Those who are most conversant with women of virtue and understanding will be always found the
most amiable characters, other circumstances being supposed alike. Such society, beyond every thing else, rubs off the corners that give many of our sex an ungracious roughness. It produces a polish more perfect and more pleasing, than that which is received from a general commerce with the world. This last is often specious, but commonly superficial. The other is the result of gentler feelings, and a more elegant humanity : the heart itself is moulded; habits of undissembled courtesy are formed; a certain flowing urbanity is acquired ; violent passions, rash oaths, coarse jests, indelicate language of every kind, are precluded and disrelished, derstanding and virtue, by being often contemplated in the most engaging lights, have a sort of gssimilating power. I do not mean, that the men I speak of will become feminine ; but their sentiments and deportment will contract a grace. Their principles will have nothing ferocious bidding; their affections will be chastothing at the same instant. In their case the Gentleman, the Man of worth, the Christian, will all melt insensibly and sweetly into one another. How agreeable the composition ! In the same way too, honourable love is inspired and cherished.-Honourable love! that great preservative of purity, that powerful softener of the fiercest spirit, that mighty improver of the rudest carriage, that all-subduing, yet all-exalting principle of the human breast, which humbles the proud, and bends the stubborn, yet fills with lofty conceptions and animates with a fortitude that nothing can conquer--what shall I say more ?-which converts the
into a man, and lifts the man into a hero! What a happy change should we behold in the minds, the morals, and the demeanour
of our youth, were this charming passion to take place of that false and vitious gallantry which gains ground amongst us every day, to the disgrace of our country, to the discouragement of holy wedlock, to the destruction of health, fortune, decency, refinement, rectitude of mind, and dignity of manners! For my part, I despair of seeing the effeminate, trifling, and dissolute character of the formed, so long as this kind of gallantry is the mode. But it will be the mode, so long as the present fashionable system of Female Education continues.
Parents now a days almost universally, down to the lowest tradesman, or mechanic, who to ape his super ars strains himself beyond his circumstances, send their daughters to Boarding-schools. And what do they mostly learn there? I say mostly; for there are exceptions, and such as do the Mistresses real honos. Need I mention that, making allowance for those cations, they learn chiefly to dress, to dance, to speak bad French, to prattle much nonsense, to practise I know not how many pert conceited airs, and in consequence of all to conclude themselves accomplished Women? I say nothing here of the alarming suggestions I have heard as to the corruption of their morals. Thus prepared they come forth into the world. Their parents, naturally partial, fancy them to be every thing that is fine, and are impatient to show them, or, according to the fashionable phrase, to let them see Company ; by which is chiefly meant exhibiting them in public places. Thither at least many of them are conducted. They have youth, and perhaps beauty. The effect of both is heightened by all possible means, at an expense frequently felt