Слике страница

but to the men an Amazon never fails to be forbidding. Are none of you, my fair hearers, in danger of roughening into this ungracious figure ? How readily it is assumed, in those scenes where the ignorance of youth co-operates with the magic of fashion, many of you perhaps will not suspect.

Men, I presume, are in general better judges than women, of the deportment of women. Whatever affects them from your quarter they feel more immediately. You slide_insensibly into a certain cast of manners; you perceive not the gradations ; you do not see yourselves at a proper distance. IT the effect produced be on the whole disagreeable, self-love will not be the first to discover it. Men, it is true, are often dazzled by youth, vivacity, and beauty ; but yet at times they will look at you with a cooler eye, and a closer inspection, than you apprehend; at least, when they have opportunities of seeing you in private company.

In splendid crowds all is dissipated, because all is garish. The multiplicity of objects scatters and distracts ; nothing is felt or thought of, in the way of either serious reflection, or serious passion. How much misjudged is an excessive fondness for such scenes ! Believe me, they are not the places, where the heart is most apt to be touched.

At any rate, the majesty of the sex is sure to suffer by being seen too frequently, and too familiar ly. Discreet reserve in a woman, like the distance kept by royal personages, contributes to maintain the proper reverence. Most of our pleasures are prized in proportion to the difficulty with which they are obtained. The sight of beauty may be justly reckoned in that number. Nothing can be more impolitic in young ladies, than to make it cheap. “So A long," says a lively author, " as they govern

themselves by the exact rules of prudence and

modesty, their lustre is like the meridian sun “ in its clearness, which, though less approachable, « is counted more glorious ; but when they decline « from those, they are like that sun in a cloud, 6 which, though safelier gazed on, is not half so “ bright.”

Even the worst men are struck by the sovereignty of female worth unambitious of appearing. But if a young person (supposing her dispositions in other respects ever so good) will be always breaking loose through each domestic inclosure, and ranging at large the wide common of the world, those destroyers will see her in a very different point of light. They will consider her as lawful game, to be hunted down without hesitation. And if her virtue, or (which to a woman is in effect nearly the same) her reputation, should be lost, what will it avail the poor wanderer, to plead that she meant only a little harmless amusement, and thought of straying into the abhorred paths of vice?

With regard to the opinion of the better sort of men, I will tell you a secret. If in the flutter of too public a life you should at any time so far forget yourselves, as to drop that nice decorum of appearance and manner, which is expected from your sex, particularly from the younger part of it, they will be tempted to harbour suspicions which I dare not name ; that is, many of them will. The rest, who know you better, or have more charity, will be hurt to think you should expose yourselves to a degree of censure, which in reality you do not deserve. Yet none of them hardly will be kind enough to offer you a friendly hint of what so much concerns you; not even where it



might be done with the most perfect propriety. Their general inclination to good nature, their love of amusement in their turn, and their finding it most readily in the society of your sex, will dis pose them to laugh with you very freely. Intimacy will lead on to a kind of attachment. They will often entertain


with little gallantry; some-times perhaps at an expense which they can ill afford. In a word, they will be mightily pleased with you as the companion for an hour. Companions for life, if they ever think of such, they will look out for elsewhere. They will then make the necessary discrimination ; I mean, if they be wise and honest enough to marry from choice. They will then try if they can find women well-bred and soberminded at the same time, of a cheerful temper with

sedate manners; women, of whom they may hope that they will love home, be attached to their hubands, attentive to their families, reasonable in their wishes, moderate in their expenses, and not addicted to external show. Having found them, whether with or without fortune, (that will never be their prime consideration, they will endeavour to gain them by another sort of style and behaviour, than they used towards you. Far other sentiments far other emotions, will then possess them. In short, their hearts will be then engaged ; and if they should be happy enough to obtain the much wished for objects, then, with a joy unfelt before, they will form the tenderest of all connections ; leaving you where they found you, as widely removed as ever from the truest pleasures, and the fairest prospects, that humanity knows ; the pleasures which are enjoyed at home, and the prospects which include a family.

But many of you, I fear, will smile at all this, trusting to the flatterer Beauty, that, whenever you shall please, you cannot fail to fix your men; and so, in the gaiety of your spirits, you continue to exhibit that beauty as usual, and to dance along through the giddy maze. Not to insist, at present, how precarious and transient an attendant this archfatterer has always proved, I must remind you, that a face hackneyed in the public eye, how striking soever when first seen, or how handsome soever it may yet remain, loses much of its power to please. Every new appearance takes something from its charms; and for one instance wherein this kind of exhibition succeeds, how many might be named in which young women once extolled, and run after every where, have lived to tread the beaten round, unpraised, neglected, forlorn!

No, those large promiscuous circles are not the scenes where the heart is commonly interested, Virtuous love, like true devotion, flies from noise, seeks retreat, and delights to indulge itself, unobserved by all but the object of its veneration. That respectful modesty, which attends it on the part of the man, is maintained and exalted by nothing so much as an unaffected bashfulness on the woman's side. But this last, which properly speaking is the flower of female chastity, is of a nature so delicate and tender, as always to thrive best in places the least frequented. What pity, when, instead of being sheltered and cherished with care, it is heedlessly exposed to the wanton gaze of every wandering eye, to the cruel hand of every rude, or of every sly invader! Can any entertainment, or any admiration, the public has power to offer, compensate the loss of this enchanting quality ?

Say not that it is incompatible with politeness, or with affability. We have seen it accompanied with the sweetest affability, and with the most perfect policeness. Depend upon it, that the best breeding is not learnt by rambling from one assembly, and one diversion, to another; but by tiving among the best bred people, by cultivating a fund of goodness in the heart, and possessing the advantage of a well educated mind.

After what you have heard, I hope you will not imagine, that the Bashfulness I plead for tends to obstruct any one view, which it becomes a wise and worthy woman to entertain. Some men, I confess, may be flattered by forward advances from those of your sex, whom the ingenious Mr. Richardson used to term Seekers. But is there not reason to apprehend, that when they come to reflect coolly, their esteem will not be lasting, where the foundation of it is not natural? There are other men, it is but fair to tell you, who will appear delighted with this kind of courtship, pretend the highest regard, pay you a world of compliments by which they mean nothing, and swear to the first worthless companion they meet, that you have a design upon them. Can you bear the thought of exposing your selves to such an imputation? How mortifying, on those occasions, to hear a girl seriously boast of her imaginary conquest! How weak in her,

fancy that every man who flatters her, not to say every man who treats her with the attention to which your sex are entitled, is a lover! • I speak not of those more deserving females, whose peace of mind has been cruelly sported with, by a species of poltrons, the disgrace of their sex, the reverse of all that is brave and humane; whose business and boast it is, to inveigle the affections of virtuous women by endless obsequiousness,


« ПретходнаНастави »