Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

fringement on modesty, that a woman should venture to speak what she believes; and were I to give my sentiments otherwise than under the influence of unreserved freedom, depend upon it they would be artful disguises, not genuine principles.

*I do not wish to be understood to say that no author has written good and just sentiments on education, save the lady in question. I hold Lord Kaimes? • Hints on Education' in high estimation. But I am not so inconsistent as to approve all he has advanced. He has too many sentiments in common with all those who have written on that subject.

'A considerable number of years ago, a gentleman, a friend of mine, put into my hands Rousseau's · Emilius ;' and, after praising it highly, he laid before me this inducement to read it; that if I had ever regretted the situation in which I or my sex were placed in the world, I should feel perfectly contented with it, after reading this work. I told him I had no reason to regret my particular allotment; and that I had hitherto lived among my acquaintances, full as well esteemed as I thought I deserved to be. I read the book; and, whether it deserves praise or blame, I confess I read by much the greater part with secret indignation. I viewed his principles as corrupt, as his mind was enthusiastic. You will easily imagine, then, that I have looked patiently on, while your author, to adopt a common phrase, has .cuffed his ears.'

• You request me to make all the remarks I can think of. Alas! I have so many cares, and so many kinds of employment, that I am hardly left with sufficient leisure to take my rest. If I could rise at midnight, when my mind is calm, when all is stillness around me, and my recollection of every thing which has previously employed me is clear, I might give you some thoughts not altogether unworthy your attention; something more systematic. But, perplexed as I often am, and hurried from one subject to another, I have been tempted to destroy what I have already written, as a thing incompetent to explain my own wishes, and answer your expectations. But I will regard my promise as a sacred engagement; and however in substance I may fall short of the performance, I will send the form.

• The author's idea that women ought to learn certain professional business, I see no objection to. I know that great courage and fortitude are necessary to surgical operations, for example, and I hold that females possess these qualities, and united with the tenderest humanity. All men are not destined to the same employment, let the bent of their genius be what it may; then why should women ? They, too, differ in genius and capacity. Why not make surgeons, and physicians of some? I know many men, whose genius is better fitted to superintend a kitchen, than to practice in any learned profession; who, however, have spent the morning and the evening of their lives in such ill-directed manner; pretending to acquire, and pretending to practice, what their wives and sisters knew more perfectly, without having devoted themselves to it, or having been instructed. On which side must this be determined ? Equal rights, equal claims, is all I ask for.

'I highly approve learning women some mechanic arts, by which they may earn honest, honorable, independent bread. The only re

source left to a woman, who is destitute of natural support, is to repair to her needle, or the spinning-wheel. The latter is a healthful employment; but mantua-makers and milliners are, almost without exception, weak in mind and weak in body; for the simple reason, that both are in want of exercise. And, to speak generally, they are also more unfit than scholars are, to manage any thing in the domestic circle of business, beside the sewing of the family which is so unfortunate as to fall under their direction.

• The situation of women in the world is somewhat like the following example : Two men go into a field to labor together, to obtain a certain object. The one is possessed of a competency to begin those occupations ; he, of course, assumes the right of proposing every scheme, and ordering the execution. The effect of this difference in their circumstances is, the one becomes most capable of governing, by having exercised his faculties independently; the other, incapable of directing even himself, and must be led ; because he has been in the habit of being led, and directed by another. I will touch the picture over again, now the effect is clear. The former is a cunning tyrant; the latter a simpleton, at least.

· Women, with a few exceptions, are not allowed to manage property, or considered as any body, in law, where matters of property come in question ; (yes, they are allowed to make a last will and testament!) and we are, as a kind of compensation for this exclusion from privileges, exempted personally from taxation. But we are sometimes called, late in life, to the management of property, where we have to look carefully around us, as well for our children as ourselves; and property, too, under the most difficult and embarrassed circumstances. We can easily discern, here, the want and the worth of independent sentiments. But, even under the most difficult view of the case, I have seen women display superior capacity in management.

• Is there danger in enlightening the understanding of women, as it respects practical religion, and the great duties we all owe to God's family on earth? For myself, I think, in proportion to numbers, I have seen among the enlightened of my own sex more sacred regard paid to religious duties, than among the ignorant. Why not better, if more enlightened? I have, it is true, seen pious, well-meaning ignorant women; whose intentions, charity bids us hope, are accepted, for God looks at the heart; but can they comprehend why they ought to be virtuous ? Is not a woman who has principles of her own ; who acts right, because her reason tells her it is best ; a character more desirable to contemplate ? - a more desirable friend, wife, or mother, than she who is only a conformist to rules learned by rote ? Which of these characters would men be most liable or necessitated to watch ?

• Has well directed scientific knowledge made men worse? It makes women pedantic, they say, to have read much. I have but a short answer to this hackneyed assertion. I never saw a man or a woman pedantic, who had reflected much. Is it envy which leads men to dispute with women the 'claim of almost every talent in common with men ? Or is it thus: women, in the aggregate, are not in the habit of cultivating their talents; and where, here and there,

one does gain some knowledge, she is flattered; she exalts herself, and loses the merit, by the indulgence of a passion as common to men as to women. A learned man is not unfrequently to be met with; if it were so in regard to women, we should see the ugliness and the oddity of such a figure vanishing together.'

To me,

In 1794, our author commenced a history of his own life, and continued it from childhood down to the close of his first collegiate term. • It is fortunate,' says he, that I proceeded no farther; for the undertaking was commenced under the influence of feelings which ought surely never to mark a performance of the kind, under the still vigorous influence of impressions hostile to virtue, and destructive of energy. Had they continued, they would have diffused over my narrative, as they then already had over my soul, an air of melancholy, and querulous repining, unbecoming a man. The introduction to this autobiography is transcribed, and serves 'to mark the progress of the writer's mind from error to truth; from despair and inactivity, to assurance and energy. A few extracts are subjoined, which will find an answering appeal in many a bosom. The last paragraph but one, may be taken as a synopsis, in part, of the volumes from which we are quoting:

• When, with a retrospective eye, I survey the days which are past; when I arrest the fleeting images of former times, and consider what I have done, and what I have felt; though ruddy youth still blooms upon my cheek, I become astonished at the length of my existence; and can scarcely believe that I am not already in the wane of life, and near the termination of its strange, eventful period. however they may appear to others, the years which are gone seem numerous and long; they exist, to my imagination and memory, in all their extension ; nor does the future elongate itself so far in perspective, as the past stretches back toward the commencement of my being. And if the consciousness of duration depend rather on the succession of ideas in the mind, than on the diurnal and annual revolutions of the earth, an obvious solution of this paradox appears; for my life, though outwardly neither very deeply or curiously variegated, has been marked with many revolutions of opinion and sentiment, of success and delight, of passion and distress. Events, considerable in number, and powerful in effect; events operating on my mind with uncontrollable and afflictive energy, and dressed by my imagination, and arrayed by my heart, in fearful and ruinous importance ; have exercised over every power of my soul, and every action of my life, a wondrous though mostly a concealed influence.

'Sweet were the days of my childhood, embittered only by little anxieties and trifling disappointments ! Hope swiftly succeeded to distrust, and the dimple hollowed itself under the tear which yet stood on my cheek. War, which then ravaged my country, was to me rather a pastime than a terror. Unconscious of its many and dire calamities, my heart exulted in the sound of the trumpet, the fife, and the drum; the glistening arms pleased my eyes; and tales of victory ravished my fancy. My bosom beat, and my soul panted to follow the soldier to the field; to mingle in the glorious conflict; to wrest the sword

from the destroyer, and turn the thunder of the oppressor upon himself. Delightful days! with what fond enthusiasm do I look back, and reflect, upon them?, What joy does it still convey to my bosom, to review and reconsider the innocence which reigned in my heart; the wanton and guileless frolics of the day ; the peace which waited on the hours of serene repose; the tranquillity which welcomed the departure of refreshing sleep, and the approaches of awakening morn! O days of bliss ! days crowned with delight! Few and transient indeed ye were; yet still does your recollection refresh and invigorate my mind. With melancholy pleasure do I love to compare your calm, contented progress, with the stormy and afflicting advances of later years ; to trace the origin of error, to view the birth of misfortune, to lift the concealing veil from treasured griefs, and dissolve the mystic charms which bind, in stern enchantment, the melancholy thought to near and pressing miseries.

• To see what I have been, and to have a connected view of actions, feelings, and opinions, from my earliest years, are, in part, the motives which have influenced me to undertake the composition of the history of myself. I would record what are my present sentiments of those things which have already passed, and which are daily passing; I would trace the rise, and delineate the progress, of all those connections with my fellow-beings, which have been to me such fertile sources of delight and grief ; I would fix, while yet the recollection lives in my mind, the sentiments, the actions, the characters of my friends, of their friends ; finally, of all those distinguished personages, with whom accident or design has made me acquainted.

Minute circumstances rapidly escape, how lasting soever may be their coincident impressions. But how important are these minutiæ ! How much does the explication of every considerable event, depend on these very things, which common minds regard as too trifling to deserve attention! With mingled sensations of pleasure and distress, do I commence, and shall I continue, this undertaking. To record every thought, wish, action, and suffering - how arduous yet how useful the task! How many pleasing, how many mournful, images must I recall ! What instances of folly and of vice! ments of wisdom and of virtue!'

What mo

The first of the following paragraphs refers to the scenery in autumn, near Litchfield, (Conn.,) and evinces our author's ardent love of nature ; while the second is not without interest, even at this late period. Gen. MIRANDA will be remembered by many of the readers of this Magazine, in the cities of the Atlantic sea-board :

• The woods are pleasant, even yet, all stripped, as they are, of leaves. What name shall we give to that warm, and soft, and gentle sensation and sentiment, which is inspired by being buried in the embowering shades of thick woods! I never felt it fully on York island. The view on the road I passed over this morning, is remarkably fine. I was so forgetful of the transcendently excellent

prospect, that it struck me like something new. What a picture of majestic and beauteous repose did the western view present! The town of Litchfield, the west mountain, the lake, the blue and distant ridges of New Milford, the chasm by which they are, in part, exposed to the

32

VOL. XIII.

eye! But I will not trust my untutored pen with a description of the scene.

Thy pencil, Charles, my friend Charles Brockden, to thine doth it belong.'

*It was with great pleasure that I learned, from Miss W—'s letters, that Gen. MIRANDA was safe. This man travelled through part, if not all, of the United States. It was my second year in college, that I saw him, at New-Haven. He was then meditating a revolution in South America. This strongly impressed me in his favor, and his demeanor was calculated to heighten the favorable impression which a knowledge of his design had made. I recollect with what keen regret I heard a fictitious account of his having fallen into the hands of the Spanish court, by means of their emissaries.'

In resuming this Salmagundi of the Olden Time,' we shall be enabled to present a greater variety of topics and interest than marks the initiatory number, which demands, on the score of hurried preparation, the indulgence of the reader.

TO

THE

LADY

WHO SENT ME A VALENTINE ON VALENTINE'S DAY.

Sweet lady, thanks! my stream of life

Ran brighter when I read the line
That told me there was still a heart

That could respond to mine :
Years vanished, and I felt the joy
That thrilled me when a happy boy.
I know thee not - may never know;

My eyes may vainly rove o'er all
Thai meet me in the daily paths,

Nor on thee cbance to fall;
But Fancy will extend to me
A glass, in which thy form to see.
I shall combine all lovely looks,

All graceful shapes, and hues ideal,
And o'er the bright, enchanting whole,

Gaze till I deem it real.
I'll listen to the gentlest tone,
And fondly deem 't is sure thine own.
And I will wear it as a badge,

The ribbon blue, that sweetly bound
The expression of thy kindred thoughts,

Those words of magic sound;
Words of the master-lyre, that tells
The secrets of Love's treasure-cells.
I cannot claim such welcome praise ;

My poor desert is far below
The rank of honor which thy verse

So freely would bestow;
Yet round my forehead let me twine
All garlands wreathed by hands like thine.
Lady! should Fortune e'er reveal

My valentine, my fair unknown,
Say, will thy voice repeat the words

Confessed to me alone?
Ah! wilt thou then, till life departs,
Still wear me in thy heart of hearts ?"

« AnteriorContinuar »