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To adopt the language of an amiable writer, who has studied the human heart with success : * We believe that it is
for persons of the same age, of the same sex, of similar dispositions and “ pursuits, to associate together. But here we
seem to be deceived by words. If we consult
nature and common sense, we shall find, that the “true propriety and harmony of social life depends
upon the connexion of people of different dispo“ sitions and characters judiciously blended together. 6 Nature hath made no individual, nor no class “ of people, independent of the rest of their spe“ cies, or sufficient for their own happiness. Each " sex, each character, each period of life, have " their several advantages; and that union is the
happiest and most proper, where wants are mu“tually supplied. . The fair sex should naturally
expect to gain from our conversation, knowledge, “wisdom, and sedateness ; and they should give
us in exchange humanity, politeness, cheerfulness, taste, and sentiment.' He adds, " The
levity, the rashness, and folly of early life, are “ tempered with the gravity, the caution, and the wis“ dom of age ; while the timidity, coldness of heart, * and languor incident to declining years, are sup“ported and assisted by the courage, the warmth, " and the vivacity of youth.
The conversation of people older than yourselves will be often accompanied with less joy at the moment; but afterwards it will make abundant compensation. It will produce more recollection : and be assured, my sisters, those are the truest pleasures which are tasted by a mind composed and serious. In that situation, every thing is felt more strongly. A dissipated spirit is too superficial to be
capable of deep or permanent delight. Besides, as has been already hinted, the experience and maturity of more years will enlarge your understandings, at the same time that they will repress your vanity and presumption ; while the sportiveness peculiar to youth will, on your part, enliven the seriousness of age. And if those, whom you thus respectfully cultivate, have any good nature, they will certainly treat you with condescension and forbearance. I . said Good nature ; for whatever excludes that, is sure to lose all the influence, as well as praise of wisdom. On this principle, I would particularly recommend
of those, whose piety is of the most cheerful and the most charitable strain. They are strangers to human nature, who would affright the young by the frown of austerity. True religion ever was, and ever will be, of the friendly kind. It is not zeal, but bigotry, that refuses to make allowance for juvenile spirits and gayer tempers. Could the old be convinced by us, there is nothing we should be at greater pains to impress upon them than this, That as cheerfulness is the most natural effect of real goodness, it is also its most powerful recommendation. Wisdom is never so attractive as when she smiles.
But do not, my dear hearers, conceive an unfa. vourable opinion of that venerable form, if in the virtue of your mothers and aunts you
should happen to find a defect of good humour. Consider the consequences of declining health, disagreeable accidents, the death of their best friends, frequent inactivity and depression after a life of action and enjoyment. If
can look forward so far as few years at most, it will be right for you to think what you may probably feel at their age. And
pray remember, that if you require and expect allowances to be made for starts of ill humour in yourselves, at a season when all should be naturally soft and gentle, it is but fair at least that you should excuse the same in those who, not to insist now on their other claims, are objects of tender sympathy, as being invaded by languor, infirmity, and affliction.
I cannot however omit to caution them against giving away too easily to that peevishness, which is apt to grow upon them from these circumstances ; and to remind them, that in such as have survived the lively taste of delight themselves, there is nothing so noble or pleasing, as not to discourage others who still retain it, but on the contrary to shew a generous satisfaction in seeing and making young people happy. Ah! my respected friends, why would you ever forfeit this highest honour of an excellent temper? Why would you ever render your company forbidding, or assist in the ravage which nature is unavoidably making on your attractions ? Why rob Religion of that engaging appearance, which is
not only her native appearance, but so peculiarly necessary to promote her interest with unexperienced minds, in opposition to the wiles of her laughing rival ? You will hardly believe how much harm is done by this conduct to the best of causes.
The world will judge of piety by its professors. The proceeding is often unfair; because they are often unlike that which they profess. But there is no possibility of preventing it. The young have heard religion represented as an enemy to joy and affability. Nothing can be more unjust. Instead therefore of confirming those prejudices, it becomes you to confute them by the only argument that will thoroughly convince, the cheerfulness of your discourse, and the mildness of your demeanour. In
this way you may hope to do great good. When “ Wisdom is thus justified of her children,” they who are yet strangers to her will be induced to venerate an authority that appears so condescending, and to study precepts that are productive of such happiness. But to return to my young hearers, al
In the third place, to offer you a few hints on the spirit and manner, in which I conceive your Conversation should be conducted.
And now perhaps you imagine we want to preclude every degree of that which passes under the name of Trifling. You are mistaken. We do not expect that women should always utter grave sentences, nor men neither. It were inconsistent with the state of mankind. It cannot be expected from philosophers of the first rank; nor if it could, do I know that it would be desirable. I am even inclined to believe, that they who understand the art of what has been termed Trifling agreeably, have gained a very considerable point. The frailty of human nature and the infelicity of life, require to be relieved and soothed. There are many occasions, on which this is not to be done by sage admonitions, or solemn reflections. These, to well disposed minds, are often highly solacing ; but to dwell on them always were to strain the machine beyond its powers. Besides, in fact, a seasonable diversion to anxiety, a temporary forgetfulness of grief, is frequently a far better method to remove it, than any direc tapplication or laboured remedy. To change the metaphor ; when the road proves rugged, or is in danger of growing tedious, one successful method of beguiling it is for the travellers to cheer and amuse one another by the play of fancy, and the facetiousness of mirth. But then the end of the journey must not be forgotten. Because we are weak,
there is no reason why we should be silly. The brow of care may surely be smoothed without converting it into the laugh of folly. While we indulge the recreation necessary for mortal, let us maintain the temper requisite in immortal beings. To reconcile these two things, and to blend them happily, seems the proper science of creatures on their progress through time to eternity. From you, my gentle friends, we look for every thing that, next to the diviner influence of religion, can soften the inequality, and animate the dulness of the way.
We wish to see you often smile ; but we would not have you smile always, if it were possible. There are many scenes that demand a grave deportment; there are not few that call for a mournful one. She that cannot distinguish between laughter and happiness, never knew what the latter means. She that cannot weep
with them that weep," as well as “ rejoice with them that rejoice," is a stranger to one of the sweetest sources of enjoyment, no less than to one of the noblest lessons of Christianity. Those are the happiest dispositions, which are the best. Benevolence is the supreme perfection of the ever-blessed Deity. He is infinitely removed from every painful impression. Yet scripture, in the style of accommodation, ascribes to him all the guiltless emotions of humanity : and we know that our Saviour was formerly on earth, and is now in heaven, “ touched with the feeling of “ our infirmities."
With the character of a Christian Woman, non thing, methinks, can better correspond than a propensity to melt into affectionate sorrow. It becomes alike her religion and her sex. Never, my fair auditory, never do your eyes shine with a more delightful effulgence, than when suffused with all