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T is a singular injustice which is often exercised: towards women, first to give them a very defective education, and then to expect from them the most undeviating purity of conduc ;-to train them in such a manner as shall lay them open to the most dangerous faults, and then to censure them for not prova ing faultless. Is it not unreasonable and unjust, to express disappointment if our daughters should, in their subsequent lives, turn out precisely that very kind of character for which it would be evident to an unprejudiced by-stander that the whole scope and tenor of their instruction had been systematically preparing them ?
Some reflections on the present erroneous system are here with great deference submitted to public consideration. The Author is apprehensive that she fhall be accused of betraying the interests of her less by laying open their defects : but surely, an earnest wish to turn their attention to objects calculated to: promote their true dignity, is not the office of an enemy. So to expose the weakness of the land as to luggest the neceility of internal improvement, and to point out the means of effectual defence, is not treachery, but patriotism.
Again, it may be objected to this little work, that many errors are here aicribed to women which by no means belong to them exclufs vely, and that it feenis to confine to the sex those faults which are common to the species : but this is in some measure unavoidable. In speaking on the qualities of one sex, the moralift is somewhat in the situation of the Geographer, who
treating on the nature of one country :-the air, soil, and produce of the land which he is describing, cannot fail in many essential points to resemble those of other countries under the same parallel ; yet it is his bufiness to descant on the one without adverting to the othr; and though in drawing his map he may happen to introduce some of the neighbouring coast, yet his principal attention must be confined to that country which he proposes to describe, without taking into account the resembling circumstances of the adjacent Shores.
It may be also objected that the opinion here suggested on the state of manners among the higher classes of our country-women, may seem to controvert the just encomiums of modern travellers, who generaliy concur in ascribing a decided superiority to the las dies of this country over those of every other. But such is, in general, the state of foreign manners, that the comparative praise is almost an injury to Engliske
To be flattered for excelling those whore standard of excellence is very low, is but a degrading kind of commendation į for the value of all praise de rived from fuperiority, depends on the worth of the competitor. The character of British ladies, with all the unparalleled advantages they poffefs, must never be determined by a comparison with the women of other nations, but by comparing them with what they themfelves might be, if all their talents and unrivalled opportunities were turned to the best account.
Again, it may be said, that the Author is less difposed to expatiate on excellence than error : but the office of the historian of human manners is delineation rather than panegyric. Were the end in view eulogium and not improvement, eulogium would have been far more gratifying, nor would just objects for praise have been difficult to find. Even in her own limited sphere of observation, the Author is acquainted with inuch excellence in the class of which ihe treats ;with women who, poffeffing learning which would be thought extensive in the other fex, set an example of
Humility to their own ;-women who, diftin.
Cor wit and genius, are eminent for domestic
qualities ;-who, excelling in the fine arts, have carefully enriched their understandings ;-who, enjoying great afluence, devote it to the glory of God ; -who, poflelling elevated rank, think their nobleft style and title is that of a Christian.
That there is also much worth which is little known, she is persuaded ; for it is the modest nature of goodriefs to exert itself quietly, while a few characters of the opposite cast seem, by the rumour of their exploits, to fill the world ; and by their noise to multiply their numbers. It often happens that a very small party of people, by occupying the fore-ground, by seizing the public attention, and monopolizing the public talk, contrive to appear to be the great body : a few acative fpirits, provided their activity take the wrong turn and support the wrong cause, seem to fill the scene; and a few disturbers of order, who have the talent of thus exciting a false idea of their multitudes by their mischiefs, actually gain strength,' and swell their numbers, by this fallacious arithmetic.
But the present work is no more intended for a panegyric on those purer characters who seek not hu
man praise because they act from a higher motive, El than for a fatire on the avowedly licentious, who, I urged by the impulse of the moment, refift no inclina fţion; and, led away by the love of fashion, dislike no
censure, so it may ferve to rescue them from neglect i or oblivion.
There are, however, multitudes of the young and the well-disposed, who have as yet taken no decided part, who are just launching on the ocean of life, just about to lose their own right convictions, virtually preparing to counteract their better propensities, and unreluctantly yielding themselves to be carried down the tide of popular practices : fanguine, thoughtless, and confident of safety. To these the Author would gently hint, that, when once embarked, it will be no longer casy to say to their passions, or even to their principles, "Thus far fhall ye go, and no further.” Their struggles will grow fainter, their resistance will become feebler, till borne bown by the confluence of example,
temptation, appetite, and habit; resistarice and oppofi. tion will foon be the only things of which they will learn to be ashamed. • Should any reader revolt at what is conceived to be unwarranted strictness in this little book, let it not be thrown by in disgust before the following short confideration be weighed.--If in this Christian country we are actually beginning to regard the folemn office of Baptifm as merely furnishing an article to the parish register ;-if we are learning from our indefatigable Teachers, to consider this Christian rite as a legal ceremony retained for the sole purpose of recording the age of our children ;-then, indeed, the prevailing System of Education and Manners on which thefe volumes presume to animadvert, may be adopted with propriety, and perfifted in with fáfety, without entailing on our children, or on ourselves, the peril of broken promifes, or the guilt of violated vows.--But, if the obligation which Christian Baptism imposes, be really bind. ing ;-if the ordinance has, indeed, a meaning beyond a mere fecular transaction, beyond a record of names and dates ;--if it be an institution by which the child is folemnly devoted to God as his Father, to Je. fus Christ as his Saviour, and to the Holy Spirit as his Sanctifier; if there be no definite period afligned when the obligation of fulfilling the duties it enjoins shall be fuperfeded ;-if, having once dedicated our offspring to their Creator, we no longer dare to mock Hin by bringing them up in ignorance of His will and neglect of His laws ;-if, after having enlifted them under the banners of Christ, to fight manfully against the three great enemies of mankind, we are no longer at liberty to let them lay down their arms ; much less to lead them to act as if they were in alliance instead of hoftility with these enemies ;--if, after having promised that they shall renounce the vanities of the world; we are not allowed to invalidate the engagement ;-rif, after such a covenant we should tremble to make these renounced vanities the supreme object of our own purfuit or of their instruction ;- if all this be really so, then Strictures on Modern Education in the first of thefe
and on the Habits of polished Life in the