Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

own faults, which were unknown to all but God and liimaself. These two, rarely, if ever, belong to the confidential secrets of friendship. Why should the purest friendship require that the evil of a neighbor should be uncovered, unless it is likely to extend to the injury of others, and speaking of it to a friend is likely to prevent that injury ? Nor is it more wise to reveal our own faults which lie between God and us ; for a pretended friend may magnify, alter, and falsely color; so as to stab our reputations and ruin us forever.

But admitting you have been guilty of this imprudence, and in this situation have fallen into the hands of a traitor, the best advice which now occurs to me is, to meet him in presence of some judicious and discerning persons, make your statements according to facts, show wherein he has departed from truth, and seriously appeal to his conscience for the truth of what you say. Let no asperity, rashness, or anger, accompany your appeal; yet let it be firm and bold, and show that you have a consciousness of speaking rightly, This method will either reduce him to guilty silence, or lead him to an ingenuous confession, or excite so much anger and rage, as to convince those present that he is in the fault. Thus the stain will be chiefly effaced from your character, and you will appear to the world in a much fairer light, than if you only contradict it privately, or suffer it to circulate unnoticed. There may be instances, however, when the last may be the best method. When the person who has deceived you has a doubtful reputation, or is known to practice such impositions, for the purpose of raising and spreading evil, you have little to fear; because those who are acquainted with both, will not believe him capable of soiling your character.

By this time the bell rang for tea, which closed the cour versation on this subject, and led the way to others.


On entering the room, they saw a lady, who had the appearance of having seen about fifty years, dressed with simplicity and neatness. Every garment seemed to have its use, and supplied the place for which it was made. She


was neither an example of useless finery nor negligent mean.

Three young ladies were sitting on the sofa, whose features and dress declared them to be her daughters ; and, that they were educated strictly under her eye. I have the pleasure, my dear, said Mr. P. of announcing to you the arrival of Charles, the eldest son of my old and much respected friend, Mr. Observator, and with him to introduce an interesting stranger, Gen. Americus, who came with him. And turning to the Gen. and Charles, he said, this is my beloved wise, and these are my daughters.

After the forms of introduction were over, they sat down to tea. The state of the table indicated neatness and taste, nothing wanting, nothing superfluous. They were neither tired nor put to the blush, by a tedious round of ceremonies, useless or disgusting apologies, or lying excuses. Mrs. P. never once said, my victuals are not fit to eat, had I known you were coming I would have prepared something better. I am sorry it is so poor you cannot make a meal ! Instead of this, the whole family seemed to be cheerful and thankful. If any thing was beyond their reach, they were kindly helped-if it stood near, they were bidden to help themselves. This they readily complied with, and were refreshed with food suited to the appetite of travellers. For it was not the practice of this family, to sip a dish of the decoction of indian herhs, eat a bit of toast as large as two fingers, and reserve their appetites for a hot roast at ten o'clock. They did not so well like to send for a physician before morning, to cure a violent spasm

an offensive nausea. Not long after they were at table, Mrs. P. prononuced the name of Prudentia, and was answered by her eldest daughter, who appeared to be about twenty. The sound went through the heart of Charles like a shock of electricity. He ten times attempted to raise his eyes, but had not confidence to look her fuil in the face. He said within himself, is this the Prudentia, whose character my father gave me on the eve of my departure ? It may be ; I hope she is the person ; but why hope--what can be my expectations, if she is the very person ?

When tea was ended, Mr. P. devoutly expressed his gratitude to his Benefactor, and all retired to an avljoining room, to spend an hour in profitable conversation. Female education happening to be mentioned, Mr. P. and the Gen. entered upon the subject, and chiefly occupied the time. Mr. P. began as follows:

I am not at all pleased with the manner in which females are usually educated. There is no uniform system of education, and what passes under that name, is very imperfectly and very partially applied. The taste of some parents is very vitiated, and others seem to have no taste at all. You will see some females, who are allowed to grow unpruned like the trees of nature ; while others have only a superficial outside. Parents are to be found, who imagine, if their daughters can spin and weave and manage the kitchen, it is all they need to know. An opposite class deem this knowledge a disgrace, and suppose nothing else belongs to a good education, but a few things, which, at best; are but secondary and ornamental. In both instances the mind is entirely neg. lected, as well as that part of education, which is necessary to execute the common affairs of life. By the first extreme, females are made awkward and disagreeable ; by the second, scornful and vain. By the first they are unfitted for companions-by the second for wives. The one keeps them destitute of materials and a right taste of conversation ;-the other makes them forever talkative about trifles.

These observations, said the Gen. are perfectly congenial with my views of the subject. A general system is certainly needed, though it should be so formed as to admit of such exceptions and variations, as times, circumstances, and places may require. And if no penal laws can be enacted to enforce it, yet it should be so patronized by the influential, as to shame the negligent and superficial into compliance.

I will not say, that the learned languages, mathematics, astronomy, &c. should be considered necessary parts of this system ; though there may be some rare geniuses, which might be allowed this exception ; but in general it would be time and money thrown away, to extend their education to these branches of science. The reason is obvious ; the sphere in which females usually move, has no employment for them ; they contribute nothing towards their usefulness as wives and mothers ; except it should be such a portion of astronomy, as is necessary to a right understandi:g of geography.

But no good reason can be assigned, why reading, writing, grammar, arithmetic, and geography ; together with a plain systematical view of the scriptures, should not form the general plan of female education ; as far as it regards literature. It is granted, that a female may obscurely creep

through life without either of these, and lie down in the dust at last, by the side of one more learned than herself ; but it will not from hence follow, that there is neither use nor ornament in being well educated. How narrow must that mind be, which is not enlarged by reading, and knows nothing but what she hears in the chimney corner, from persons as uncultivated as herself. And if her ignorance does not destroy all sensibility, she must often be the subject of mortification, never to be able to write to a friend, to write her own name, or to bear any part in sensible conversation. And grammar is so inseparably connected with good composition, that they should not be ignorant of it, if they have the least desire to write correctly. Nor will many be found, however ignorant and vitiated in their taste, who will not confess, that so much of arithmetic is useful, as will enable a woman to keep and settle her own accounts. If her husband be a man acquainted with these branches of learning, she may be less often called on, during his life time, to improve her own knowledge ; but if she is left a widow, who is to supply the deficiency ? unless she has children who can do it, which is not always the case. Whatever may be her state in life, she cannot dispense with these accomplishments, without great inconvenience.

Geography is less necessary, but ought never to be omitted, unless occasioned by an unavoidable want of means. For why should a woman know nothing of any other spot of earth than that on which she was born? Why should sbe suppose the world is as flat as her mother's pewter platter-and that she can go to the end of it and jump off ? Why should she think that the robins in autumn, when they go to the south, are going to England, because she falsely imagines that England lies south of her? Or why should she not be furnished with such a knowledge of the globe, as to afford her husband some entertainment, by conversing readily and sensibly? An acquaintance with geography will furnish her own meditations with many aseful subjects, and afford such a knowledge of the Creator's works, as greatly to help her devotions.

A plain system of divinity, free from obscure and disputable points in theology, certainly ought not to be left out. Such a system should be read in connection with the Bible itself. An infidel schoolmaster may oppose everything which pertains to revelation ; and a quack at teaching, may

contradict a Lowth and a Murray, and tell us the Bible is rio standard of language; but to such teachers, whether male or female, it is wrong to send our daughters. For why should they be unacquainted with the best of books, and the most excellent system of religion ever taught in our world! A system, too, by which they must be saved ! They ought to be able to name, explain, and defend the most plain and important doctrines of the gospel. If an infidel or a believer ask them the reason of their hope, let them be able to give it with understanding, meekness, and fear.

Some other parts of education may di fer according to circumstances. To a female in the town, it can hardly be required that she should understand the use of the wheel and the loom ; but this is indispensably necessary, for the daughter of a country farmer. It is a miserable mistake, that country parents and daughters have fallen into, when they imagine that in order to be polite and great, they must imitate every custom of the town. Whereas, it is neither politeness nor greatness, which forms many of those customs, but mere local circumstances. It is, therefore, just as absurd to fancy that politeness consists in having a great many houses close together, with narrow, crooked streets between them, as to suppose that, because miss in the town does not spin and weave, it is a disgrace for miss in the country to do it; and because she sits in the parlor with fine needle-work, the other must sit there too. What duty makes a part of semale education in one place and circumstance, the same duty will require to be omitted in another.

It hardly need be added, that in all places, among rich and poor, high and low, needle-work and house-wifery should be parts of this general system. From whence has arisen the despicable notion, that the latter is a disgrace, especially to the rich, is difficult to say. It cannot be the dictate of reason, or the result of economy. Are you not of the same opinion? said the General, addressing himself to Prudentia.

She replied with a modest blush—it is certainly according to my education, which I have adopted as my own sentiment, from its apparent reasonableness, and the confidence I have in the sound experience and good judgment of my parents. And I have a fixed dislike against the false taste of the present, a taste so opposite to that of more siinple and better times. According to Mr. Pope's translation of Homer, ladies of the highest rank, daughters of noblemen and kings,

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »