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tery, or affected sympathy, or unqualified assent, or unwar.. rantable compliance, or eternal smiles. Before it can be allowed to rank with the virtues, it must be wrought up from a humour into a principle, from an occasional disposition into a habit. It must be the result of an equal and well-governed mind, not the start of casual gaiety,the trick of designing vanity, or the whim of capricious fondness. It is compounded of kindness, forbearance, forgiveness, and self-denial; “it seeketh not its own,” but must be capable of making continual sacrifices of its own tastes, humours, and self love; but among the sacrifices it makes, it must never include its integrity. Politeness on the one hand, and insensibility on the other, assume its name, and wear its honours; but they assume the honours of a triumph, without the merit of a victory; for politeness subdues nothing, and insensibility has nothing to subdue. Good da. ture of the true cast, and under the foregoing regulations, is above all price in the common intercourse of domestic society; for an ordinary quality, which is constantly brought into action by the perpetually recurring, though minute, events of daily life, is of higher value than more brilliant qualities, which are more seldom called into use. And, indeed, Christianity bas given that new turn to the character of all the virtues, that perhaps it is the best test of the excellence of many, that they have little brilliancy in them. The Christian Religion has degraded some splendid qualities from the rank they held, and elevated those which were obscure into distinction.
On the danger of an ill-directed Sensibility.
In considering the human character with a view
to its improvement, it is prudent to endeavour to discover the natural bent of the mind, and having found it, to direct your force against that side on which the warp lies, that you may lessen by counteraction the defect which you might be promoting, by applying your aid in a contrary direction. But the misfortune is, people who mean better, than they judge, are apt to take up a set of general rules, good perhaps in themselves, and originally gleaned from experience and observation on the nature of human things, but not applicable in all cases. These rules they keep by. them as nostrums of universal efficacy, which they there. fore often bring out for use in cases to which they do not apply. For to make any remedy effectual, it is not enough to know the medicine, you must study the constitution also ; if there be not a congruity between the two, you may be injuring one patient by the means which are requisite to raise and restore another, whose temper. ament is of a contrary description.
It is of importance in forming the female character, that those on whom this task devolves should possess so much penetration as accuratelyto discern the degree of sensibility, and so much judgment as to accommodate the treatment to the individual character. By constantly stimulating and extolling feeliogs naturally quick, those feelings will be rendered too acute and irritable. On the other hand, a calm and equable temper will become obtuse by the total want of excitement; the former treatment converts the feelings into a source of error, agitation, and calamity : the latter starves their native energy, deadens the affec. tions, and produces a cold, dull, selfish spirit ; for the human mind is an instrument which will lose its sweetness if strained too high, and will be deprived of its tone and strength if not sufficiently raised.
It is cruel to chill the precious sensibility of an ingenuous soul, by treating with superciliouscoldness and unfeel. ing ridicule every indication of a warm, tender, disinterest.
ed, and enthusiastic spirit, as if it exhibited symptoms of a deficiency in understanding or prudence. How many are apt to intimate, with a smile of mingled pity and contempt, that when such a one koows the world, that is, in other words, when she shall begrown cunning, selfish, and suspi. cious, she will be ashamed of her present glow of honest warmth, and of her lovely susceptibility of heart. May she never know the world, if the knowledge of it must be acquired at such an expense ! Butto sensible hearts, every indication of genuine feeling will be dear, for they will know that it is this temper which, by the guidance of the Divine Spirit, may make her one day become more enam. oured of the beauty of holiness : which, with the co-oper. ation of principle, and under its direction, will render her the lively agent of Providence in diminishing the misery that is in the world : into which misery this temper will give her a quicker intuition than colder characters possess. It is this tem per which, when it is touched and purified by
"live coal from the altar,"* will give her a keener taste for the spirit of religion, and a quicker zeal io discharging its duties. But let it be remembered likewise, that as there is no quality in the female character which will be so likely to endanger the peace, and to expose the virtue of the possessor; so there is none which requires to have its luxuriances more carefully watched, and its wild shoots more closely lopped.
For young women of affections naturally warm, but not carefully disciplined, are in danger of incurring an unnatua ral irritability ; and while their happiness falls a victim to the excess of uncontrolled feelings, they are liable at the same time to indulge a vanity of all others the most pre. posterous, that of being yain of their very defect. They have heard sensibility highly commended, without having heard any thing of those bounds and fences which were intended to confine it, and without having been imbued with that principle which would have given it a beneficial direction ; conscious that they possess the quality itself in the extreme, and not aware that they want all that makes that quality safe and delightful, they plunge headlong into those sins and miseries from which they conceitedly imag.
* Isaiah, vi. 6.
ine, that not principle but coldness has preserved the more sober-minded and well-instructed of their sex.
But as it would be foreign to the present design to expatiate on those criminal excesses which are some of the sad effects of ungoverned passion, it is only intended here to hazard a few remarks on those lighter consequences of it, which consist in the loss of comfort without ruin of character, and the privation of much of the happiness of life without involving any very censurable degree of guilt or discredit. Let it, however, be incidentally remarked, and let it be carefully remembered, that if no women have risen so high in the scale of moral excellence as those whose natural warmth has been conscientiously governed by its true guide, and directed to its true end; so none have fur. nished such deplorable instances of extreme depravity as those who, through the ignorance or the dereliction of principle, have been abandoned by the excess of this very temper to the violence of upgoverned passions and uncon. trolled inclinations. Perhaps, if we were to inquire into the remote cause of some of the blackest crimes which stain the annals of mankind, prufigacy, murder, and especially suicide, we might trace them back to this original principle, an ungoverned sensibility.
Notwithstanding all the fine theories in prose and verse to which this topic has given birth, it will be found that very exquisite sensibility contributes so little to huppiness, and may yet be made to contribute so much to useful"ness, that it may, perhaps, be considered as bestowed for an exercise to the possessor's own virtue, and as a keen instrument with which she may better work for the good of others.
Women of this cast of mind are less careful to avoid the charge of unbounded extremes, thap to escape at all events the imputation of insensibility. They are little alarmed at the danger of exceeding, though terrified at the suspicion of coming short, of what they take to be the exe treme point of feeling. They will even resolve to prove the warmth of their sensibility, though at the expense of their judgment, and sometimes also of their justice. Even when they earnestly desire to be and to do right, they are apt to employ the wrong instrument to accomplish the right end. They employ the passions to do the work of the judgment; forgetting, or not knowing, that the passions
were not given us to be used in the search and discovery of truth, which is the office of a cooler and more discrim. inating faculty ; but that they were given to animate us to warmer zeal in the pursuit and practice of truth, when the judgment shall have pointed out what is truth.
Through this natural warmth, which they have been justly told is so pleasing, but which, perhaps, they have not been told will be continually exposing them to peril and to suffering, their joys and sorrows are excessive. Of this extreme irritability, as was before remarked, the illeducated learn to boast as if it were a decided indication of superiority of soul, instead of labouring to restrain it as the excess of a temper which ceases to be amiable, when it is no longer under the control of the governing faculty. It is misfortune enough to be born more liable to suffer and to sin, from this conformation of mind; it is too much to nourish the evil by unrestrained indulgence: it is still worse to be proud of so misleading a quality.
Flippancy, impetuosity, resentment, and violence of spi. rit, grow out of this disposition, which will be rather pro. moted than corrected, by the system of education on which we have been animadverting ; in which system, emotions are too early and too much excited, and tastes and feelings are considered as too exclusively making up the whole of the female character: in which the judgment is little ex. ereised, the reasoning powers are seldom brought into action, and self-knowledge and self-denial scarcely included.
The propensity of mind which we are considering, if un.. checked, lays its possessors open to unjust prepossessions, and exposes them to all the danger of unfounded attachments. In early youth, not only love at first sight, but also friendship, of the same sudden growth, springs up from an ill-directed sensibility; and in after life, women under the powerful influence of this temper, conscious that they have much to be borne with, are too readily inclined to select for their confidential connexions, flexible and fiat. tering companions, who will indulge and perhaps admire their faults, rather than firm and honest friends, who will reprove and would assist in curing them. We may adopt it as a general maxim, than an obliging, weak, yielding, complaisant friend, full of small attentions, with little re. ligion, little judgment, and much natural acquiescence and civility, is a most dangerous, though generally a too much