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different styles ; setting out with those where there is least, and rising gradually to those where there is most of the tender, the impassioned, and the sublime. Need I add, that all this should be practised in the frequent hearing, and under the kind animadversion, of an experienced judge ?
But perhaps you think the practice too laborious and troublesome. Do ye? Go, thou trifler, and be ashamed of thy folly.—To neglect the study of thy native English, the skilful use of which, joined to sentiment and knowledge, would render thy conversation charming; and yet contentedly to puzzle thy silly head with learning a little imperfect French, which it is a hundred to one if ever thou shalt have occasion to use-how preposterous and futile ! To the language last named I am no enemy : I only blame its occupying so large a place in the female education of this country. For women of rank the fashion has made it necessary.
But what can be more ridiculous than to see our city girls, not excepting the daughters of plain tradesmen and honest mechanics, taught for years together, at great expense, a smattering of that which soon after they leave the boarding-shoool is generally forgotten ; while they are left ignorant of the superior beauties and just pronunciation of their mothertongue ?
I mentioned the exercise of reciting verses. With relation to this, I would only say, that I do not wish a young woman to indulge it in any company, that is not very private and chosen indeed ; how much soever it is to be desired, that she should store her memory with some of the most select sentiments, and striking descriptions, from the best writers both in verse and prose.
On this last particular I am led to observe, that, for a disengaged hour, there can be few occupations of greater entertainment or utility, than that of imprinting on the mind those passages from any good author, which happen to please and affect more than ordinary ; either by repeating them often at the time, till they are got by heart, or by writing them down, or sometimes by doing both. The advantages of such a practice are sufficiently apparent. Would it be one of the least, think ye, that the attention of her who was thus employed, would be often turned from viewing and admiring her person or dress in the mirror, to the contemplation of Truth and Virtue, and fixing their fair and venerable image in her soul?
Beside the several opportunities of mental culture now enumerated, I must not forget to add, that in all probability there are few young women who are not, or who may not be, acquainted with some persons of both sexes, endowed alike with worth and capacity, that would take the highest pleasure, by their conversation and counsel, to aid them in the pursuit of knowledge; which brings me to consider,
In the last place, your complaints of want of encouragement to that pursuit. Who are they then that seek to discourage you? I have read of foolish mothers, that would not suffer their daughters to read, lest they should dim the lustre of their eyes, or spoil the bloom of their complexions. But I have never met with one, that seriously carried her folly so far. On the other hand, I have known parents not a few, who, though they had no taste for knowledge themselves, would yet speak with the utmost satisfaction of a girl that was fond of her books.
But perhaps my little friend is afraid, lest the men should suspect her of being what the world style in derision a Learned Lady. Indeed? Is this then a character so very easily acquired, that you are in danger of it the moment you emerge from the depth of ignorance, and begin to think and speak like a reasonable being? You are over hasty in your apprehension. A Learned Lady is by no means a creature that we run the risk of being often shocked with. For my own part, I have never, strictly speaking, seen such a one ; and when at any time I have met with what approached to that character, I must profess, I found nothing to excite terror. But possibly you mean a smatterer in learning. There, indeed, I join with you in wishing you may never incur the imputation.
That men are frighted at Female pedantry, is "ery
certain. A woman that affects to dispute, to ecide, to dictate on every subject; that watches or akes opportunities of throwing out scraps of literaure, or shreds of philosophy, in every company; hat
engrosses the conversation as if she alone were walified to entertain ; that betrays, in short, a boundiss intemperance of tongue, together with an inxtinguishable passion for shining by the splendour of her supposed talents ; such a woman is truly insuiterabit. At first, perhaps, she may be corsidered merely as an object of ridicule; but she soon grows into an object of avcrsion. Be assured, however, that where a character so unnatural appears, it is not the effect of too much knowledge, but of too little. The deep river flows on with a noble stillness, while the shallow stream runs Labbling along. Suspicious of her own deficiency, , the pedant we describe suspects lest you should discover it; but instead of learning caution from
that consciousness, she strives to dazzle you with the little she does know: Or else, what is more probable, elated with that which to her circunscribed view appears great, she cannot restrain herself from displaying it on all occasions ; when farther progress, and higher ground, would have taught her modesty, by showing her immense regions of truth yet untravelled, of which she had no conception before.
In fact, we find that the best scholars of either sex are the least ostentatious. It will ever be so, where erudition is accompanied with judgment, and matured by reflexion. Take care to preserve sober sense, and unassuming manners : far from giving disgust hy literary attainments to any person whose regard is of moment, you will give pleasure to every thinking man and woman of
your acquaintance. I am even inclined to believe that, when in conversation you claim no kind of preeminence, but instead of pretending to teach are willing to learn, instead of courting applause are ready to confer it, instead of proudly directing are content quietly to follow the current of discourse, every creature living will be delighted with your deportment, will listen with attention, and even deference, to one who has thus learnt, that the noblest improvement of superior knowledge is superior humility.
Now and then indeed there may be an invidious female, who cannot bear to see herself outdone, But that is a circumstance, wliich will only add to your exaltation ; while every one else will be tempted, for the sake of mortifying her, to pay the more respect to you.
Be this as it
the notion that letters are apt to generate self-conceit, because it cannot be denied that abuse of them has often done so, will in those of the least can
dour or discernment serve to heighten' esteem for her, who considers an excellent understanding as only next in value to an excellent temper. If on any occasion it should happen, that the foolish or the worthless of one sex, or of the other, are prejudiced against a young woman for discovering, though without parade, a cultivated mind, what then? Is not the single plaudit of a real judge sufficient to outweigh a whole theatre of others ?
But you will ask, do we not often see handsome idiots complimented and caressed by those men from whom better things might be expected ; while the most accomplished women in the same company shall be overlooked, if destitute of personal charms? The fact cannot be dissembled, and far be it from me to justify such partiality. There is in beauty a magic, which certainly does enchant for a time the generality of beholders : But this will by-no' means excuse the injustice of neglecting merit in those who want that advantage. Let it be remembered however, that the triumph of their rivals is commonly, like that of the wicked, short. The spell on which it is founded is soon broke. Men at least of any significance, are seldom long in recovering their senses. The admiration raised by “ of features, or the tincture of a skin," is often by the witlessness of the possessor thrown down in an 'instant. The witchcraft of a fair outside is always dispelled by familiarity. Nothing can de. tain affection or fix esteem, but that kind of beauty which depends not on flesh and blood. The least degree of understanding will be disgusted at petu-lance, caprice, or nonsense, even in the fairest form. External allurements are continually losing ; internal attractions are continually gaining. A beautiful character “ is as the morning light, that