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that of him who has probably done all this, who has certainly done a great part of it, and who has nothing now to offer you, but the shattered remains of his health, and of his heart? How any of you may feel on this subject, I cannot say. But if, judging as a man, I believed, what I have often heard, that the generality of women would prefer the latter, I know not any thing that could sink them so low in my esteem.
Ihat he who has been formerly a rake may after all prove a very tolerable husband, as the world goes, I have said already that I do not dispute. But I would ask, in the next place, is this commonly to be expected ? Is there no danger that such a man will be tempted by the power of long habit to return to his old ways; or that the insatiable love of variety, which he has indulged so freely, will some time or other lead him astray from the finest woman in the world ? Will not the very idea of restraint, which he could never brook while single, make him only the more impatient of it when married ? Will he have the better opinion of his wife's virtue, that he has conversed chiefly with women who had none, and with men amongst whom it was a favourite system, that the sex are all alike? But it is a painful topic. Let the women who are so connected make the best of their condition : and let us go on to something else. If you, my honoured hearers, would preserve your sobriety, I would warn you,
In the second place, against a dissipated Life ; into which many, who I verily believe have no ill intentions, are unhappily drawn by one engagement or another. Youth, sprightliness, the love of society, the love of shining, (the last particularly strong in minds where imagination pre dominates, joined with a taste for amusement, which the circumscribed situation of the sex serves perhaps only to increase-all these put together lead them very readily into such a track ; most especially if their education has lain in that line, or if their connexions, whether natural, or accidental, have cocnurred to strengthen the bias. But how innocent soever it. may be in the first instance, who does not know, that in its after-consequences it is often to the last degree hurtful.
Does it not manifestly breed an impatience of home, and such a propensity to show, as, rather than not be gratified, shall balk the most important duties, and court the most improper company? Does it not tend directly to expense and profusion ?
Does it not unavoidably cherish the passion for idleness and sauntering, so inconsistent with every thing solid, useful, and improving? Not to speak now of the prejudice done by it to the health and constitution; is such a temper, and such a conduct, agreeable to the great rules of moderation ? Will that mind be acquainted with wisdom, which is averse to thought ? Will selfgovernment be her study, who flies from self-inspection? Can Religion or Virtue hope to make any lasting impression on a spirit, that by perpetual agitation is wrought up into mere froth? What imaginable folly is there that may not find its way into a heart, like the garden of the sluggard, thrown open to every incursion? If your mornings be spent in rambling and dressing, your evenings in visits and cards, or public entertainments; if this he the general tenor of your transactions, on which side, I beseech you, can the balance be expected to lie at the bottom of the account?
But that perhaps is not your care.
• What have • the young and the
gay to do, but to divert them. • selves ? Indeed? Were you sent "then into this world for no other purpose ? Do you design to apply to nothing serious? Yes, certainly, when we
are settled, and have families.' But pray, tell me : To act your parts properly then, is there no preparation necessary now? Is roving about continually, the way to grow either fond of domestic employments, or fit for them? Will neglecting the lesser affairs committed to you at present, dispose or qualify you for a larger sphere of activity hereafter.
But have we not often seen young women, that were thoughtless and profuse, turn out very prudent and economical wives? We have ; and what then ? Would you build a system of action on events so precarious and unlikely? Because by the force of genius, or a felicity of circumstances, boys who were good for little or nothing at school, have not unfrequently, in process of time, shot up into men of ability or spirit, would you thence infer that youth may safely trifle away their early years ?
But is it certain, after all, that you are to change your state, as well as your character ? Will the train of life we are considering recommend you much to young men. I have conversed with many of them on this subject. Shall I tell you their opinions? Some, I find, would like a sprightly companion in marriage, but none a dissipated one; and all of them, to a man, dread a woman of expense. I say not, that it is right in this case to count the cost too nicely ; but men that are not very
violent lovers, or very great fools, will not overlook it. Our sex of late years have been by many thought more backward than formerly to enter into the holy bands
of wedlock ; and what I hint at has been assigned as a principal cause.
It is too common, I confess, to hear those who have been addicted to vagrant pleasures, and vain profusion, plead the smallness of their fortunes as an excuse for not marrying; when, if they connected themselves with women of sobriety and discretion, it is perhaps demonstrable that they would live cheaper. But what, say they, if, hoping to find a help meet, we should wed our ruin? I answer them, Choose the better. Shall I give you their reply?
• The ladies of the present age are so immoderately expensive'--You may guess the
But it is not only such men that speak this language.
There are of a different character not a few, who, strongly attached to the worthier part of the sex, wish for nothing so much as an honourable connexion with them, but are restrained by the very consideration in question. We would willingly convince them, that they carry it too far. They appeal to facts, and persist in the argument. We are weary of the dispute. It is inconceivable what frivolous articles of parade are insisted on by some women, of whom better things might be expected. But rivalship in show is the ruling passion of the times ; and how much is it nourished by dissipation !
I cannot leave this point without observing, that one of the worst consequences attending such a course is its throwing many young ladies into the company of women, who with the general reputation of virtue, or under the particular shelter of matrimony, are often the very quintessence of vice; a set of smooth pernicious tempers, like Satan to Eve, winding themselves by flattery into the hearts
of those her heedless daughters, descanting on their beauty, perfections, prospects, and I know not what ; first exciting, and then gratifying their youthful curiosity, with such suggestions, and such tales, as set their fancies all on fire ; by which any little structure of modesty, that Nature and Educacation may have raised, is consumed in a moment. Which contributes most to their fall from innocence, those she serpents, or the male ones mentioned be fore, I will not determine ; but remember, I have warned you against both.
Permit me farther, on this occasion, just to remind you of poor Dinah.
Secure as you may think yourselves, none of you, I suppose, have been trained more virtuously than it is probable she was under the eye of a pious father. But alas the spirit of wandering seized her.
66 She went “ forth to see the daughters of the land." She met a betrayer and lost her honour. But I proceed,
In the third place, to caution you against that fatal poison to virtue, which is conveyed by proAligate and by improper Books.
When entertainment is made the vehicle of instructiòn, nothing surely can be more harmless, agreeable, or useful. To prohibit young minds the perusal of any writings, where wisdom addresses the affections in the language of the imagination, may
be sometimes well meant, but must be always injudicious. Some such writings undoubtedly there. are ; the offspring of real genius enliglıtened by knowledge of the world, and prompted, it is to be hoped, by zeal for the improvement of youth.
Happy indeed, beyond the vulgar story-telling tribe, and highly to be praised, is he who, to fine