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ry maxims, sung in seducing strains, those faults which their talents and their influence should have been employed in correcting. When fair and youthful females are complimented with being
Fine by defect and delicately weak! is not a standard of feebleness held out to them to which vanity will gladly resort, and to which softness and indolence can easily act up, or rather act down, if I may be al. lowed the expression ?
When ladies are told by the same misleading, but to them high, authority, that smiles and tears are the irré. "sistible arms, with which Nature has furnished them for "conquering the strong,” will they not eagerly fly to this cheap and ready artillery instead of labouring to furnish themselves with a reasonable mind, an equable temper, and a meek and quiet spirit ?
Every animal is endowed by Providence with the pe. wouliar powers adapted to its nature and its wants ! while sibione, except the human, by grafting art on natural sagac. to en, injures or mars the gift. Spoilt women, who fancy iñere is something more picquant and alluring in the muta. ble graces of caprice, than in the monotonous smoothness of an even temper, and who also having heard much, as was observed before, about their “ amiable weakness,"? learn to look about them for the best succedaneum to strength, the supposed absence of which they sometimes endeavour to supply by artifice. By this engine the weak. est woman frequently furnishes the converse to the famous reply of the French Minister, who, when he was accused of governing the mind of that feeble Queen Mary de Med. icis by sorcery, replied, “ that the only sorcery he had used, 66 was that influence which strong minds naturally have over (weak ones."
But though it be fair so to study the tempers, defects, and weaknesses of others, as to convert our knowledge of them to the promotion of their benefit and our own; and though it be making a lawful use of our penetration to avail our. selves of the faults of others for “ their good to edifica. "tion ;" yet all deviations from tie straight line of truth and simplicity ; every plot insidiously to turn influence to unfair account ; all contrivances to extort from a bribed complaisance what reason and justice would refuse to our wishes; these are some of the operations of that lowest and most despicable engine, selfish cunning, by which little minds sometimes govern great ones.
And unluckily, women, from their natural desire to please, and from their sometimes doubting by what means this grand end may be best effected, are in more danger of being led into dissimulation than men ; for dissimulation is the result of weakness, and the refuge of doubt and distrust, rather than of conscious strength, the dangers of which lie another way. Frankness, truth, and simplicity, therefore, as they are inexpressibly charming, so are they peculiarly commendable in women, and nobly evince that while the possessors of them wish to please, (and why should they not wish it ?) they disdain to have recourse to any thing but what is fair, and just, and honourable to effect it; that they scorn to attain the most desired end by any but the most lawful means. The beauty of simplicity is indeed so intimately felt and generally acknowledged by all who have a true taste for personal, moral, or intellectual beauty that women of the deepest artifice often find their account in assuming an exterior the most foreign to their charao. ter, and by affecting the most studied naïveté.
It is curious to see the quantity of art some people put in practice in order to appear natural ; and the deep design which is set at work to exhibit simplicity. And indeed this feigned simplicity is the most mischievous, because the most en. gaging of all the Proteus forms which dissimulation can put
For the most free and bold sentiments have been sometimes hazarded with fatal success under this unsuspect. ed mask. And an innocent, quiet, indolent, artless man. ner, has been adopted as the most refined and successful accompaniment of sentiments, ideas, and designs, neither artless nor innocent,
On dissipation, and the modern habits of fashionable life.
ERHAPS the interests of true frendship, elegant conversation, mental improvement, social pleasure, maternal duty, and conjugal comfort, never received such a blow as when Fashion issued out that arbitrary and universal decree, that every body must be acquainted with every body; togeth. er with that consequent authoritative, but rather inconveni. ent clause, that every body must also go every where every night. The devout obedience paid to this law is incom. patible with the very being of friendship; for as the circle of acquaintance expands, and it will be continually ex. panding, the affections will be beaten out into such thin lamina as to leave little solidity remaining. The heart which is continually exhausting itself in professions grows cold and hard. The feelings of kindness diminish in pro. portion as the expression of it becomes more diffuse and indiscriminate. The very traces of "simplicity and godly “sincerity” in’a delicate female, wear away imperceptibly by constant collision with the world at large. And per. haps no woman takes so little interest in the happiness of her real friends, as she whose affections are incessantly evaporating in universal civilities; as she who is saying fund and flattering things at random to a circle of five hundred people every night.
The decline and fall of animated and instructive con. versation has been in a good measure effected by this bar. barous project of assembling en masse. An excellent pre. late, * with whose friendship the author was long honoured, and who himself excelled in the art of conver
versation, used to remark, that a few years had brought about a great rev. olution in the manners of society; that it used to be the custom previously to going into company, to think that something was to be communicated or received, taught or learnt; that the powers of the understanding were expect. ed to be brought into exercise, and that it was therefore necessary to quicken the mind, by reading and thinking, for the share the individual might be expected to take in
* The late Bishop of Horne,
the general discourse; but that knowledge, and taste, and wit, and erudition, seemed now to be scarcely considered as necessary materials to be brought into the pleasurable commerce of the world; because now there was little chance of turning them to much account; and therefore he who possessed them, and he who possessed them not, were nearly on a footing.
It is obvious also that multitudinous assemblies are so little favourable to that cheerfulness which it should seem to be their very end to promote, that if there were any chem. ical process by which the quantum of spirits, animal orintel. lectual, could be ascertained, the diminution would be found to have been inconceivably great, since the transformation of man and woman from a social to a gregarious animal.
But if it be true that friendship, society, and cheerful. ness, have sustained so much injury by this change of man. ners, how much more pointedly does the remark apply to family happiness !
Notwithstanding the known fluctuation of manners, and the mutability of language, could it be foreseen, when the apostle Paul exhorted "married women to be keepers “at home,” that the time would arrive when that very phrase would be selected to designate one of the most decided acts of dissipation? Could it be foreseen that when a fine lady should send out a notification that on such a night she shall be AT HOME, these two significant words (besides intimat. ing the rarity of the thing) would present to the mind an image the most undomestic which language can convey? My country readers, who may require to have it explained that these two magnetic words now possess the powerful ioflu. ence of drawing together every thing fine within the sphere of their attraction, may need also to be apprized, that the guests afterwards are not asked what was said by the company, but whether the crowd was prodigious, the rule for deciding on the merit of a fashionable society not being by the taste or the spirit, but by the score and the hundred. The question of pleasure, like a parliamentary question, is now carried by numbers. Aod when two parties modish, like two parties political, are run one against another on the same night, the same kind of mortification attends the leader of a defeated minority, the same triumph attends the exulting carrier of superior numbers, in the one case as. in the other.
VOL. II. G
" This re
An eminent divine has said, that 66 perseverance in "prayer will either make a man leave off sipning, or a conOtinuance in sin will make him leave off prayer. mark may be accommodated to those ladies who, while they are devoted to the enjoyments of the world, yet re. tain considerable solicitude for the instruction of their daughters. But if they are really in earnest to give them a Christian education, they must themselves renounce a dis. sipated life. Or if they resolve to pursue the chace of pleasure, they must renounce this prime duty. Contraries cannot unite. The moral nurture of a tall daughter can no more be administered by a mother whose time is absorbed by crowds abroad, than the physical nurture of her infant offspring can be supplied by her in a perpetual absence from home, And is not that a preposterous affection which leads a mother to devote a few months to the inferior duty of furnishing aliment to the mere animal life, and then to desert her post when the more important moral and intellectual cravings require sustenance? This great object is not to be effected with the shreds and parings rounded off from the circle of a dissipated life ; but in order to its adequate execution, the mother should carry it on with the same spirit and perseverance at home, which the father thinks it necessary to be exerting abroad in his public duty or professional engagements.
The usual vindication (and in theory it has a plausible sound) which has been offered for the large portion of time spent by women in acquiring ornamental talents is, that they are calculated to make the possessor love home, and that they innocently fill up the hours of leisure. The plea has indeed so promising an appearance, that it is worth in. quiring whether it be in fact true. Do we then, on fairly pursuing the inquiry, discover that those who have spent most time in such light acquisitions, are really remarkable for loving home or staying quietly there ? or that when there, they are sedulous in turning time to the best account? I speak not of that rational and respectable class of women, who, applying (as many of them do) these elegant talents to their true purpose, employ them to fill up the vacancies of better occupations, and to embellish the leisure of a life actively good. But do we generally see that even the most valuable and sober part of the reigning female acquisitions leads their possessor to scenes most favourable to the en.