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tion. It is an ornament equally necessary and wise.
1. It is a necessary ornament, considered, I mean, in a moral and religious light. I would only premise, that the amiable reserve, termed by St. Paul Shamefacedness, is something widely distant from those airs of disdain, those pretences of aversion to men, which we now and then meet with in your sex. I said pretences : For no degree of candour can persuade us to believe that such women, generally speaking, do not play a part, and under the mask of this seeming severity, this violent affectation of virtue, harbour passions of a very different kind. Who does not know, that the greatest prudes have often dropt their disguise at last; and betrayed such dispositions as many a young woman of good nature, and courteous behaviour, is incapable of indulging? Every thing overdone is liable to suspicion. Innocence in women wants not the aid of ostentation : like integrity in men, it rests in its own conscious
Not so, however, as to neglect the rules of prudence and circumspection. To say the truth, prudery is not the prevailing evil of the times. Fe. male modesty, even where it is most real, is in little danger, as the world goes, of being carried to an extreme. In the gayer part of the world, how seldom, alas! does it rise to the Shamefacedness enjoined in our text, and which on the
first hearing, suggests the idea of a virtuous bashfulness. This beautiful grace,
6 Clear Chastity “With blushes redd’ning as she moves along; “ Disorder'd at the deep regard she draws ;
whither is she retired ? Where is the charming original, from which the poet drew so sweet a picture ?
-Has Virtue then forsaken the sex? God forbid. But I am bold to say, her favourite walks are not in those places of public entertainment, now so fondly frequented by so many women. She Toves the shade. There she finds herself most secure from
the blights of calumny, and the heats of temptation Ah! mothers of this land, how can you expose so rashly those tender blossoms committed to your care? Have ye forgotten that every unkindly breath is ready to blast them? Are ye ignorant, how soon the whitest innocence may be sullied ; that it is possible even for the strictest principles to be corrupted ? Is there nothing in your own minds that whispers the frailty of your sex?
But you plead the necessity of allowing to youth a little amusement, of showing your daughters a little of the world, of preventing, or rubbing off the awkwardness, that is apt to adhere to young persons who are confined at home. You urge the propriety of convincing them by comparison, how much the calm and rational pleasures of that home are preferable to the noise and giddy diversions usually found abroad ; that in the latter there is nothing so wonderfully fine, so irresistibly alluring, as their youthful fancies, or the information of others, might lead them to suppose.
We admit your arguments, so far as they go. Keep within these bounds, and be blameless. But do the parents of the present generation commonly keep within them? Are not many of those parents as fond of gaiety and show as the merest girl can possibly be ? Is it surprising to see the daughters of such become very early the votaries of Folly, when every other day or night they are conducted in triumph to her temples, without any precaution, any previous pains taken to instruct them in the
emptiness and worthlessness of the object worshipped there; worshipped with every circumstance that can serve to propagate the idolatry, while the poor innocents are inflamed by the concurrence of company, dress, flattery, example, the example of those whom, by nature and education, they are disposed to respect most highly, and to imitate most implicitly? It were strange indeed, if in this situation their too susceptible hearts should escape the fashionable contagion. But what can be said for those, who thus directly, and with their eyes open, lead their children into a snare?-Cease, thou restless and raging spirit of hell, who going about
seeking whom thou mayest devour," cease thy cruel toil. The parents of Britain render it needless. The mothers of the church hasten to bring thee their little lambs, as if impatient for the pleasure of presenting them.-Excuse, ye better characters, this transport of indignation, kindled by an impiety which you are not capable of committing. I think with honour of all who truly merit the pa
May the father of the world increase their number, and multiply their joys! But for those wicked- -I turn from them to you, ye pretty helpless creatures, who have lost-it may be, happily-merciful heaven! must I say happily lost your parents? or whose parents yet alive, but lost to themselves and to their offspring, have in the blindness of indulgence, or the barbarity of neglect, abandoned you to your own untutored conduct. Let me warn you of your danger. If there be no other friend to show a solicitude for your welfare, allow me at least to have that satisfaction.
Reflect, my sisters, on all I have said concerning your importance in life ; and look beyond life's narrow boundary. Consider everlasting consequen
Contemplate approaching judgment. You have received from the Almighty your bodies, and your souls, unstained by dishonour. You will be spon required to restore them immaculate. You belong to a society, for which your saviour “
gave “himself, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with “ the washing of water by the word, that he "might present it to himself a glorious church, not “ having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. Think of this. “ Watch and pray, that ye enter "not into temptation.”
The love of promiscuous amusement, how innocent soever it
and sometimes be, ensnares, multitudes of your sex. Their earliest days are marked by a mixture of sprightliness and simplicity. They run, they laugh, they prattle ; and then they often blush, for fear of having offended. As they grow up, their sensibilities become more enlightened, and more awake. They blush oftener. It is the precious colouring of virtue, as one has happily phrased it. They contract a quicker perception of what is decent, and of what is wise. A sweet timidity was given them to guard their innocence, by inclining them to shrink from whatever might threaten to injure it. Their passions, as they rise, are restrained from exorbitance, by a secret sentimerit of shame and honour. In this state of mind, they come to hear much concerning public diversions. The description is frequently repeated, and always exaggerated. Their curiosity takes fire ; they are eager to participate. They are indulged once, a second, a third time, often, without control. By little and little their natural fearfulness begins to abate. For a while they are shocked with signs of rudeness. Their ears are wounded by the language of vice : Oaths, impre
cations, double meanings, every thing obscene fills 'thein with disgust and horror. But custom soon begets familiarity, and familiarity produces indifference. The emotions of delicacy are less frequent, less strong. And now they seldom blush, although perhaps they often affect it. At the image of sin they tremble no longer : their minds are already debauched All the internal fences of modesty are broken down. Can you wonder, if it be then easily assailed from without? But what
But what if it be not? What if appearances be still preserved, if open scandal be not incurred, or if secret enormity should be always avoided ? Is it enough for a young woman to be free from infamy, from crimes ? Between the state of virgin purity and actual prostitution are there no intermediate degrees ? Is it nothing to have the soul deflowered, the fancy polluted, the passions flung into a ferment? Say, is it nothing to forfeit inward freedom and self-possession? The beauty, the dignity, the tranquillity of conscious virtue-are all these of no account? Such indeed one would think were the opinion of those, who imagine there can be no harm in a passion for places of entertainment; because, say they, all attacks on the honour of
who sort thither are precluded. Be that as it may, I must ever maintain, that young women of principle will be cautious of frequenting scenes where Shame facedness, at once the companion and the guardian of female innocence is in danger of being lost. But I add, that every prudent young woman also will be extremely wary in this particular ; because,
II. The ornament we now recommend is as wise, as it is necessary. There is nothing so engaging as bashful beauty.) The beauty that obtrudes itself, how considerable soever, will either disgust, or at