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ing one fixed principle, they are driven on by the impetuosity of the moment. And this impetuosity blinds the judgment as much as it misleads the conduct; so that for want of a habit of cool investigation and inquiry, they meet every event without any previously formed opinion or rule of action. And as they do not accustom themselves to appreciate the real value of things, their attention is as likely to be led away by the under parts of a subject, as to seize on the leading feature. The same eagerness of mind which hinders the operation of the discriminating faculty, leads also to the error of determining on the rectitude of an action by its success, and to that of making the event of an undertaking decide on its justice or propriety; it also leads to that superficial and erroneous way of judging which fastens on exceptions, if they make in one's own favour, as grounds of reasoning, while they lead us to overlook received and general rules which tend to establishi a doctrine contrary to our wishes. * Open-hearted, indiscreet girls, often pick up a few strong notions, which are as false in themselves as they are popular among the class in question : such as, “that warm "friends must make warm enemies ;''--that "the generous Glove and hate with all their hearts ;''--that “a reformed rake makes the best husband;" that "there is no media "um in marriage, but that it is a state of exquisite happiness “or exquisite misery;" with many other doctrines of equal* currency and equal soundness! These they consider as axioms, and adopt as rules of life. From the two first of these oracular sayings, girls are in no small danger of be.. coming unjust through the very warmth of their hearts : for they will get a habit of making their estimate of the good or ill qualities of others, merely in proportion to the greater or less degree of kindness which they themselves have received from them. Their estimation of general character is thus formed on insulated and partial grounds; on the accidental circumstance of personal predilection or personal pique. Kindness to themselves or their friends involves all possible excellence; neglect, all imaginable de. fects. Friendship and gratitude can and should go a great way; but as they cannot convert vice into virtue, so they ought never to convert truth into falsehood. And it may be the more necessary to be upon our guard in this instance, because the very idea of gratitude may mislead us, by cona Vol. II.
verting injustice, into the semblance of a virtue. Warm ex. pressions should therefore be limited to the conveying a sense of our own individual obligations which are real, ra. ther than employed to give an impression of general excela lence in the person who has obliged us, which may be imagivary. A good man is still good, though it may not have fallen in his way to oblige or serve us, nay, though: he may have neglected or even unintentionally hurt us: and sin is still sin, though committed by the person in the world to whom we are the most obliged, and whom we most love.
We come pext to that fatal and most indelicate, nay, gross maxim, that “ a reformed rake makes the best hus
band;" an aphorism to which the principles and the happiness of so many young women have been sacrificed. goes upon the preposterous supposition, not only that effects do not follow causes, but that they oppose them ; on the supposition, that habitual vice creates rectitude of char. acter, and that sin produces happiness ; thus flatly contradicting what the moral government of God uniformly exhabits in the course of human events, and what Revela. tion so evidently and universally teaches.
For it should be observed, that the reformation is gen. erally, if not always, supposed to be brought about by the all-conquering force of female charms. Let but a profligate young man have a point to carry by winning the affections of a vain and thoughtless girl ; he will begin his attack upon her heart, by undermining her religious prio. ciples, and artfully removing every impediment which might have obstructed ber receiving the addresses of a man without character. · And while he will lead her not to hear without ridicule the mention of that change of heart, which scripture teaches and experience proves the power of Divine grace can work on a vicious character; while he will teach her to sneer at a change which he would treat with contempt, because he denies the possibility of so strange and miraculous a conversion; yet he will not scru. ple to swear, that the power of her beauty has worked a revolution in bis own loose practices, which is equally complete and instantaneous.
But supposing it possible that his reformation were genu. ine, it would even then by no means involve the truth of Her proposition, that past libertinism ipsures future felicity;
yet many a weak girl, confirmed in this palatable doctrine by examples she has frequently admired of those surpris. ing reformations so conveniently effected in the last scene of most of our comedies, has not scrupled to risk her earthly and eternal happiness with a man, who is not ashamed to ascribe to the influence of her beauty that pow. er of changing the heart, which he impiously denies to Omnipotence itself.
As to the last of these practical aphorisms, that “there (is no medium in marriage, but that it is a state of exquisite “happiness or exquisite misery;" this, though not equally sinful, is equally delusive : for marriage is only one mod. ification of human life, and human life is not commonly in itself a state of exquisite extremes ; but is for the most part that mixed and moderate state, so naturally dreaded by those who set out with fancying this world a state of rapture, and so naturally expected by those who know it to be a state of probation and discipline. Marriage, therefore, is only one "condition, and often the best condition, of that imperfect state of being, which, though seldom very exquisite, is often, very tolerable; and which may yield much comfort to those who do not look for constant trans. port. But, unfortunately, those who fiod themselves dis. appointed of the unceasing raptures they had anticipated in marriage, disdaining to sit down with so poor a provis. ion as comfort, and scorning the acceptance of that moderate lot which Providence commonly bestows with a view to check despondency and to repress presumption; give themselves up to the other alternative.; and, by abandon. ing their hearts to discontent, make to themselves that misery with which their fervid imaginations had filled the opposite scale.
The truth is, these young ladies are very apt to pick up their opinions, less from the divines than the poets ; and the poets, though it must be confessed they are some of the best embellishers of life, are not quite the safest conductors through it: for in travelling through a wilderness, though we avail ourselves of the harmony of singing-birds to ren. der the grove delightful, yet we never think of following them as guides to conduct us through its labyrinths.
Those women, in whom the natural defects of a warm temper have been strengthened by an education which fos. ters their faults, are very dexterous in availing themselves of a hint, when it favours a ruling inclination, sooths vani. ty, indulges indolence, or gratifies their love of power. They have heard so often from their favourite sentimental authors, and their more flattering male friends, “that “when Nature denied them strength, she gave them fascina"ting graces in compensation; that their strength consists "in their weakness ;” and that " they are endowed with arts of persuasion which supply the absence of force, and "the place of reason ;” that they learn, in time, to pride themselves on that very weakness, and to become vain of their imperfections; till at length they begin to claim for their defects, not only pardon, but admiration. Hence they get to cherish a species of feeling which, if not check ed, terminates iu excessive selfishuess ; they learn to pro. duce their inability to bear contradiction as a proof of their tenderness; and to indulge in that sort of irritability in all that relates to themselves, which inevitably leads to the utter exclusion of all interest in the sufferings of others.. Instead of exercising their sensibility in the wholesome duty of relieving distress and visiting scenes of sorrow, that sensibility itself is pleaded as a reason for their not being able. to endure sights of wo, and for shunning the distress it should be exerted in removing. That exquisite sense of i feeling which God implanted in the heart as a stimulus to! quicken us in relieving the miseries of others, is thus inci troverted, and learns to consider self not as the agent, but the object of compassion. Tenderness is made an ex. cuse for being hard-hearted ; and instead of drying the weeping eyes of others, this false delicacy reserves its selo ! fish tears for the more elegant and less expensive sorrows of the melting novel or the pathetic tragedy.
When feeling stimulates only to self-indulgence; when : the more exquisite affections of sympathy and pity evapor.. ate in sentiment, instead of flowing out in active charity, and affording assistance, protection, or consolation to every spe.. cies of distress; it is an evidence that the feeling is of a spurious kind; and instead of being nourished as an amia. ble tenderness, it should be subdued as a fond and base self-love.
That idleness, to whose cruel inroads many women of for. tape are unhappily exposed, from not having been trained to consider wholesome occupation, vigorous exertion, and systematic employment, as making part of the indispensa.
ble duties of life, lays them open to a thousand evils of this kind, from which the useful and the busy are exempted : and, perhaps, it would not be easy to find a more pitiable object than a woman with a great deal of time and a great deal of money on her hands, who, never having been taught the conscientious use of either, squanders both at random, or rather moulders both away, without plan, without principle, and without pleasure; all whose projects begin and terminate in self: who considers the rest of the world only as they may be subservient to her gratification; and to whom it never occurred, that both her time and money were given for the gratification and good of others.
It is not much to tbe credit of the other sex, that they now and then lend themselves to the indulgence of this selfish spirit in their wives, and cherish by a kind of false fondness those faults which should be combated by good sense and a reasonable counteraction : slothfully preferring a little false peace, the purchase of precarious quiet, and the reputation of good nature, to the higher duty of form. ing the mind, fixing the principles, and strengthening tk character of her with whom they are connected. PuOhaps too a little vanity in the husband helps out his góðd nature; he secretly rewards himself for his sacrifice by the consciousness of his superiority ; he feels a self.com. placency in his patient condescension to her weakness, which tacitly flatters his own strength, and he is, as it were, paid for stooping by the increased sense of his own tallness. Seeing also, perhaps, but little of other women, he gets to believe that they are all pretty much alike, and that, as a man of sense, he must content himself with what he takes to be the common lot. Whereas, in truth, by his misplaced indulgence, he has rather made his own lot than drawn it ; and thus through an indolent despair in the husband of being able to effect any improvement by opposition, it happens, that many a helpless, fretful, and daudling wife acquires a more powerful ascendency than the most discreet and amiable woman; and that the most absolute female tyranny is established by these sickly and capricious humours.
The poets again, who, to do them justice, are always ready to lend a helping hand when any mischief is to be! done, have contributed their full share towards confirming These feminine foHies : they have strengthened by adulate