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“ to Homer, to have written undecent things of to the Gods.
my mind gave me, that every free and gentle spirit, :ithout that oath, ought to be born a knight, nor needed to ex
pect the gilt spur, or the laying of a sword upon “his shoulder, to stir him up both by his counsel " and his arm to secure and protect the weakness “ of any attempted chastity.”
To come back to the species of writing which so many young women are apt to doat upon, the offspring of our present Novelists, I mean the greater part; with whom we may join the present herd of Play writersBesides the remarks already made on the former, is it not manifest with respect to both, that such books lead to a false taste of life and happiness, that they represent vices as frailties, and frailties as virtues ; that they engender notions of love unspeakably perverting and inflammatory; that they overlook in a great measure the finest part of the passion, which one would suspect the authors had never experienced ; that they turn it most commonly into an affair of wicked or of frivolous gallantry ; that on many occasions they take off from the worst crimes committed in the prosecution of it, the horror which ought ever to follow them ; on some occasions actually reward those very crimes, and almost on all leave the female readers with this persuasion at best, that it is their business to get husbands at any rate, and by whatever means ? Add to the account, that repentance for the foulest injuries which can be done the sex, is generally represented as the pang, or rather the start, of a moment; and holy wedlock converted into a sponge, to wipe out at a single stroke every stain of guilt and dishonour, which it was possible for the hero of the piece to contract.--Is this a kind of reading
calculated to improve the principles, or preserve the Sobriety, of female minds? How much are those young women to be pitied, that have no wise parents or faithful tutors to direct them in relation to the books which are, or which are not, fit for them to read! How much are those parents and tutors to be commended, who with particular solicitude watch over them in so important a concern!
I conclude with saying, that the subject of this discourse has unavoidably suggested some ideas, which, had we not undertaken to address young women at large, we should have certainly suppressed for the sake of more modest natures, whom we would not willingly pain, no not for a moment. But such we hope will be candid enough to excuse us, if, by throwing out to others what to them would have been unnecessary, we may be happily instrumental in rescuing were it but one of their sex from the slavery of vice, or defending a single innocent from its snares.
ON FEMALE VIRTUE, FRIENDSHIP, ANF
1 Tim. ii. 8, 9.
Barvill that ivonen adorn themselves with Sobriety.
COL. iv. 6.
Let your Speech be always with Grace, seasoned with Salt.
To preserve the Sobriety enjoined by our apostle, there is required a positive discipline, as well as the negative part already explained. Be not alarmed at the name of Discipline. In what we are going to propose you will find nothing forbidden or harsh. We do not, you may believe, wish to See you cut off from the friendly intercourse and innocent delights of society, confined to convents, as millions of your sex most unnaturally are in popish countries, and there condemned to the idle yet fatiguing task of a devoticn unreasonable in many respects, uninteresting in most, feeble for want of temptation, visionary and dry at the same time. The genuine intention of piety was certainly to make its disciples amiable, useful, and happy ; to give solidity to every virtue, and grace to every relation of human life. Is it possible to reflect on the prodigious multitudes of women shut up in
those dens of superstition, without feeling horror at a system which, under the guise of superior sanctity, sacrifices to hopeless soli:ude, frequently in all the flower of youth and beauty, such swarms of helpless beings; who, had they remained in the world, might have been the ornament of their own sex, the delight of ours, the mothers of a numerous race, and blessings to every country where they dwell.
Of the colours with which this cruel practice is disguised by the church of Rome we are not ignorant : and we can even conceive, that the
prepossessions of art, and the softenings of habit ; their commerce with one another, their employments in their prison, and often, I doubt not, the ardour of a well-meaning though much mistaken zeal ; that all these may have the
of them to a state, otherwise gloomy beyond expression, But what shall be said for the situation of the rest ; and what can justify the flagrant opposition of such a system to the sacred laivs of social duty, and the truly benevolent, jos sul, and active spirit of the religion of Jesus, as taught and exemplified by himself and his apostles ?
But to proceed in our plan. From dangerous connexions, from a dissipated life, and from books of a corrupting tendency, we attempted to put you upon your guard iri our last discourse. sent we will endeavour to point out that Society or Conversation, and in some following ones those Talents or Accomplishments, which will contribute at once to fortify you against such snares, if they should fall in your way ; to subdue any propensities that might expose you too rashly to their influence ; to strengthen all your virtuous resolves ; and to
In the pre
supply inexhausted sources of solid, rational, and refined entertainment,
As to the conversation which you ought with these views to cultivate, it may be proper,
First of all, to say somewhat concerning those early Friendships with one another, that usually lead you to the most intimate communications. I take it for granted, there is no young woman who has not, or wishes not to have, a companion of her own sex, to whom she may unbosom herself on every occasion. That there are women capable of friendship with women, I cannot, for my part, question in the least. I have seen indubitable proofs of it, and those carried as far as seemed compatible with the imperfections of our common nature. I know it is questioned by many men, while others believe, that it happens exceedingly seldom. Between married and unmarried women, I hope it happens very often. Whether it does so between those that are single, I confess myself a little doubtful. The preacher will be probably charged with partiality to his own sex, when he adds, that, so far as he has been able to observe, young men have appeared more frequently susceptible of a generous and steady friendship for each other, than females as yet unconnected; especially if the latter have had, or been supposed to have, pretensions to beauty not yet adjusted by the public.
Having professed himself however, what (as often as truth will permit him) he really is, an advocate for the sex, and this being the feature in their character, which seems to him the most unfavourable, he is willing to find out whether in their frame and condition, compared with those of the men, there be any circumstances which may help