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joyment of them ? to scenes which we should naturally suppose she would seek, in order to the more effectual cul. tivation of such rational pleasures ?
Would not those delightful pursuits, botany and draw. ing, for instance, seem likely to court the fields, the woods, and gardens of the paternal seat, as more congenial to their nature, and more appropriate to their exercise, than bar. ren watering places, destitute of a tree, or an herb, or a flower, and not affording an hour's interval from successive pleasures, to profit by the scene even if it abounded with the whole vegetable world, from the "Cedar of Lebanon to the Hyssop on the wall."
From the mention of watering places, may the author be allowed to suggest a few remarks on the evils which have arisen from the general conspiracy of the gay to usurp the regions of the sick; and from their converting the health-restoring fountains, meant as a refuge for disease, into the resorts of vanity for those who have no disease but idleness ?
This inability of staying at home, as it is one of the most infallible, so it is one of the most dangerous symptoms of the reigning mania. It would be more tolerable, did this epidemic malady only break out, as formerly, during the winter, or some one season. Heretofore, the tenantry and the
poor, the natural dependents on the rural mansions of 'the opulent, had some definite period to which they might joyfully look forward for the approach of those patrons, part of whose business in life it is to influence by their presence, to instruct by their example, to sooth by their kind. ness, and to assist by their liberality, those whom Provi. deuce, in the distribution of human lots, has placed under their more immediate protection. Though it would be far from truth to assert that dissipated people are never chari. table, yet I will venture to say, that dissipation is inconsist. ent with the spirit of charity. That affecting precept fol. lowed by so gracious a promise, “ Never turn away thy "face from any poor man, and then the face of the Lord "shall never be turned away from thee,” cannot literally mean that we should give to all, as then we should soon have nothing left to give : but it seems to intimate the habit. ual attention, the duty of inquiring out all cases of distress, in order to judge which are fit to be relieved ; now for this inquiry, for this attention, the dissipated have little taste and less leisure,
Let a seasonable conjecture (for calculation would fail!) be made of how large a diminution of the general good has been effected in this single respect, by causes, which, though they do not seem important in themselves, yet make no inconsiderable part of the mischief arising from modern manners : and I speak now to persons who intend to be charitable. What a deduction will be made from the aggregate of charity, by a circumstance apparently tri. fling, when we consider what would be the beneficial ef. fects of that regular bounty which must almost unavoidably result from the evening walks of a great and benevolent family, among the cottages of their own domain: the thou, sand little acts, of, comparatively unexpensive kindness, which the sight of peity wants and difficulties would excite; wants, which will scarcely be felt in the relation; and which will probably be neither seen, nor felt, nor fairly represented, in their long absences, by an agent. And what is even almost more than the good done, is the habit of mind kept up in those who do it. Would not this habit, exercised on the Christian principle, that " "cup of cold water,” given upon right motives, shall not lose its reward; while the giving“ all their goods to feed the "poor,” without the true principle of charity, shall profit them nothing; would not this habit, I say, be almost the best part of the education of daughters ?*
But transplant this wealthy and bountiful family period. ically to the frivolous and uninteresting bustle of the water. ing place; there it is not denied that frequent public and fashionable acts of charity may make a part (and it is well they do) of the business and amusement of the day;
* It would be a pleasant summer amusement for our young ladies of fortune, if they were to preside at such spinning feasts as are instituted at Nuneham, for the promotion of virtue and industry in their own sex. Pleasurable anniversaries of this kind would serve to combine in the minds of the poor two ideas which ought never to be separated, but which they are not very forward to unite,--that the great wish to make them happy as well as good. Occasional approximations of the rich and poor, for the purposes of relief and instruction, and annual meetings for the purpose of innocent pleasure, would do much towards wearing away discontent, and contribute to reconcile the lower class to that state in which it has pleased God to place them.
with this latter, indeed, they are sometimes good-naturedly
But how shall we compare the regular systematical good these persons would be doing at their own home, with the light and amusing, and bustling bounties of the public place? The illegal raffle at the toy-shop, may relieve, it is true, some distress, but this distress, though it may be real, and though if real, it ought to be relieved, is far less easily ascertained than the wants of the poor round a person's own door, or the debts of a distressed tenant. How shall we compare the broad stream of bounty which should be flowing through and refreshing whole districts, with the penurious current of the subscription breakfast for the needy musician, in which the price of the gift is taken out in the diversion, and in which pleasure dignifies*itself with the name of bounty? How shall we compare the at. tention, and time, and zeal which would otherwise, perhaps, be devoted to the village school, spent in hawking about benefit tickets for a broken player, while the kindness of the benefactress, perhaps, is rewarded by scenes in which her charity is not always repaid by the purity of the exhi. bition ?
Far be it from the author to wish to check the full tide of charity wherever it is disposed to flow ! Would she could multiply the already abundant streams, and behold every source purified ! But in the public resorts there are many who are able and willing to give. In the sequester. ed, though populous village, there is, perhaps, only one af. fluent family ; the distress which they do not behold, will probably not be attended to: the distress which they do not relieve will probably not be relieved at all: the wrongs which they do not redress will go unredressed: the oppressed whom they do not rescue will sink under the tyranny of the oppressor. Through their own rural domains too, charity runs in a clearer current, and is under less suspicion of being polluted by that muddy tincture which it is some. times apt to contract in passing through the impure soil of the world.
But to return from this too long digression : the old standing objection formerly brought forward by the preju. dices of the other sex, and too eagerly laid hold on as a shelter for indolence and ignorance by ours, was, that intellectual accomplishments too much absorbed the thoughts and affections, took women off from the necessary attention
to domestic duties, and superinduced a contempt or neglect of whatever was useful. But it is peculiarly the cha. racter of the present day to detect absurd opinions, and expose plausible theories by the simple and decisive answer of experiment; and it is presumed that this popular error as well as others, is daily receiving the refutation of actual experience. For it cannot surely be maintained on ground that is any longer tenable, that acquirements truly rational are calculated to draw off the mind from real duties. Whatever removes prejudices, whatever stimulates industry, whatever rectifies the judgment, whatever corrects self.con. ceit, whatever purifies the taste, and raises the understanding, will be likely to contribute to moral excellence: to woman moral excellence is the grand object of education; and of moral excelleuce, domestic life is to wopian the proper sphere.
Count over the list of females who have made shipwreck of their fame and virtue, and have furnished the most la. mentable examples of the dereliction of family duties; and the number will not be found considerable who have been led astray by the pursuit of knowledge. And if a few de. plorable instances of this kind be produced, it will com. monly be found that there was little infusion into the minds of such women of that correcting principle without which all other knowledge only "puffeth up."
The time nightly expended in late female vigils is ex. pended by the light of far other lamps than those which are fed by the student's oil; and if families are to be found who are neglected through too much study in the mistress, it will probably be proved to be Hoyle, and not Homer, who has robbed her children of her time and affections. For one family which has been neglected by the mother's passion for books, an hundred have been deserted through her passion for play. The husband of a fashionable woman will not often find that the library is the apartment the expenses of which involve him in debt or disgrace. And for one literary slattern, who now manifests her indiffer. ence to her husband by the neglect of her person, there are scores of elegant spendthrifts who ruin theirs by excess of decoration.
May I digress a little while I remark, that I am far from asserting that literature has never filled women with vanity and self conceit; the contrary is too obvious : but I will assert, that in general those whom books are suppos. ed to have spoiled, would have been spoiled in another way without them. She who is a vain pedant because she has read much, has probably that defect in her mind which would have made her a vain fool if she had read nothing. It is not her having more knowledge, but less sense, which makes her insufferable ; and ignorance would have added little to her value, for it is not what she has but what she wants, which makes her unpleasant. These instances too furnish only a fresh argument for the general cultivation of the female mind. The wider diffusion of sound knowl. edge, would remove that temptation to be vain which may be excited by its rarity.
But while we would assert that a woman of a cultivated intellect is not driven by the same necessity as others into the giddy whirl of public resort : who but regrets that real cultivation does not inevitably preserve her from it ? No wonder that inanity of character, that vacuity of mind, that torpid ignorance, should plunge into dissipation as their natural refuge ; should seek to bury their insignificance in the crowd of pressing multitudes, and hope to escape anal. ysis and detection in the undistinguished masses of mixed assemblies ! There attrition rubs all bodies smooth, and makes all surfaces alike; thither superficial and external accomplishments naturally fly as to their proper scene of action; as to a field where competition in such trifles is in perpetual exercise ; where the laurels of admiration are to be won, where the trophies of vanity may be carried off triumphantly.
It would indeed be matter of little comparative regret, if this corrupt air were breathed only by those whose nat. ural element it seems to be; but who can forbear lamenting that the power of fashion attracts into this impure and un. wholesome atmosphere, minds also of a better make, of higher aims and ends, of more ethereal temper? that it at. tracts even those who, renouncing enjoyments for which they have a genuine taste, and which would make them really happy, neglect society they love and pursuits they admire, in order that they may seem happy, and be fashionable in the chace of pleasures they despise, and in company they disapprove ! But no correctness of taste, no depth of know ledge, will infallibly preserve a woman from this cootagion, unless her heart be impressed with a deep Chris.