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world is commonly gathered in it. Very different from the situation of women is theirs in this respect; and they, it is to be apprehended, often purchase à little wisdom at a great expense. By entering into any company that tempts, engaging in any friendship that offers, or accepting of almost any creature that happens to court them, it is but too well known what mischiefs a number of our young gentlemen incur. A female that acts upon the same plan is lost; and she who would effectually escape dishonour and remorse, reproach and ridicule, must endeavour to know the world from books, to collect experience from those who have bought it, and to shun misconduct herself by observing the calamities it has occasioned to others. But I said,
Secondly, that Mental Acquisitions were of importance to your dignity and figure in life. Consider, my dear sisters, how many women are, in a discerning eye, lessened by their extravagant attachment to dress and toys, to equipage and ostentation ; in a word, to all the gaudy apparatus of female vanity, together with the endlessly ridiculous, no less than frequently fatal consequences, which these draw after them. Consider how trite and childish, men of sense must necessarily deem those arts, that are daily practised on our sex by multitudes of yours ; not to speak now of worse enticements. Consider the emptiness, insipidity, and inelegance of their conversation-how contemptible! Above all the rest, consider the jealousy and envy, the mean suspicion and shameful malignity, to which we have seen the female breast enslaved, and frequently on the slightest foundation, frequently on no foundation at all—how debasing ! Now from these evils the love of letters with
that liberal cast of thought which they are naturally calculated to give, would, I am persuaded, be one powerful preservative.
A young woman so worthily, and so happily engaged, will not find leisure for unnecessary trifes and idle parade : or if it were possible she should, a conscious superiority will enable her very much to despise them. Endowed with her powers of pleasing, she will not find herself reduced to the little tricks played off by many of her sex. In the company of her friends, she must ever appear with peculiar advantage.
In other companies, where she least thinks of appearing, an agreeable tincture of intelligence, an easy correctness of expression, if it should be proper for her to take any part in the discourse, will still diffuse themselves. Perhaps too she will deliver herself with a graceful, though modest freedom. Her letters, or any other composition that may fall from her pen, will be read with particular eagerness and approbation ; her correspondence will be prized as an honour, and her acquaintance courted as a privilege ; attention will hang upon her words, and respect follow in her -train. Such a woman will know how to entertain and charm, beyond the duration of an hour. Is it carrying our ideas too far to say, that, in all probability, an emanation of sentiment and spirit will be visible in her air and manner, that her mind will radiate in her eyes ? It may not always, but it will often. With regard to those vile passions before mentioned, which arise from rivalship in dress, beauty, and the like ; as she has learnt to value herself on better things than the last, the first by consequence will not have the same hold of her soul; besides, I suppose her to have acquired an enlargement and generosity, which nothing but
books, or knowledge of the world, or the principles ef genuine piety, can inspire.
Of the two latter the operation is in some rea spects defective, without the concurrence of the former. How improving soever an acquaintance with life may be found on some accounts, there are instances, in which it will hurt the feelings of the heart ; if these be not from time to time softened and cherished, by the more soothing representa, tions of men and things supplied by authors of a candid strain. It is also to be remembered, that, in matters of religion, a zeal without knowledge has been often destructive and is always hurtful, But suppose no such zeal to take place; suppose that meekness, as it certainly ought, makes a part, and a large one too, of the pious character in any woman ; yet without the seasonings of a good understanding w thout something of that salt and poignancy which are derived from writers of taste and learning, there will arise, in repeated intercourse, a sameness and a flatness that must diminish esteem, though they may not destroy affection, Add to this that, on a variety of subjects, ignorance will inevitably produce a poorness and vulgarity of thinking, which, to persons whose views are nobler will be rather disgustful.
In truth, the acquisitions we recommend would prevent or cure most of those little prejudices and little passions, which often hurt the sex in the opinion of their best friends. Not to insist on what has been mentioned more than once, their astonishing prepossessions in favour of public places, greatly owing to their want of something rational and agreeable to employ them at home ; what shall we say of that absurd partiality, which they frequently show for well dressed fops, who pretend
indeed to admire them, but are too frivolous and conceited to admire any, in good earnest, but themselves ? Surely a well informed understanding would enable women to despise such insignificance : and to give the preference to merit, and modesty, in a plain habit.
To what shall we chiefly impute that female curiosity, which has been so long, and in most instances, so justly a topic of satire? Is it possible, that women could show such amazing eagerness to be acquainted with every minute particular in the life, character, dress, fortune, and circumstances of others, did they possess a fund of domestic entertainment and liberal conversation? The original
principle, by "receiving a right direction, might certainly be turned into a rich source of improvement, that would spread increasing lustre around you.
That aptness also to be astonished, alarmed, affrighted at trifling accidents, imaginary evils, or natural events ever so little unusual, which, when carried far, and frequently recurring, makes a young woman appear quite silly, is often the effect of shallowness. Ignorance is prone to admire ; and admiration readily swells into a passion, or sinks into a panic: whereas an enlightened mind is seldom wrought up to ecstacy, and seldom overwhelmed by terror.
The same reasoning will hold in relation to the incapacity of keeping a secret, with which your sex have been so often reproached. Those insignificant females, who are destitute of better ideas, will be naturally tempted to give themselves an air of consequence, by communicating every piece of infor'mation which they happen to receive under the notion of secrecy: But the acquisition of valuable
knowledge helps to remove this temptation, by conferring real importance, as well as by supplying fitter conversation.
Again, were women to contemplate the fatal consequences of avarice, ambition, vanity, luxury, the violence of love, and the fury of revenge, as appearing in the ruin of families, the devastation of provinces, and the fall of empires; is there not reason to hope, they would be less dazzled with those objects, and less affected by those occasions, that are apt to foment such propensities;
-propensities which, though in their case not so consequential to others, are yet many times extremely degrading, as well as pernicious, to themselves.
And with regard to that ignoble disposition to scandal, by many deemed one of the characteristic blemishes of your sex ; you could not possibly indulge it so often, were you furnished with a sufficient compass of observation and sentiment, on subjects much more innocent, and surely not less interesting-Not less interesting, did I say? How, in the name of God, are you concerned with the faults of those with whom you have no connexion ? or what call have you to remark upon them, farther than may be necessary to guard yourselves or others against their contagion, or their consequences ? Are you vain of the wit and vivacity which you display, or fancy you display, on such occasions ? Ah, what superior honour would ye acquire from candour, sweetness, and self-correction ! But those qualities are the offspring of self-knowledge, and a comprehension of what is truly beautiful and becoming in life. Let me persuade you, my beloved pupils, with all your improvements, “ with all your
gettings, to get" these two essential parts of