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languages or music, for they are the language of the heart, and the music of the according passions. Yet this sensibility is, in many instances, so far from being cultivated, that it is not uncommon to see those who affect more than usual sagacity, cast a smile of supercilious pity, at any indication of a warm, generous, or enthusiastic temper in the lively and the young; as much as to say, " they will know better, and will have more discretion when they are older.” But every appearance of amiable simplicity, or of honest shame, nature's hasty conscience, will be dear to sensible hearts; they will carefully cherish every such indication in a young female ; for they will perceive that it is this temper, wisely cultivated, which will one day make her enamoured of the loveliness of virtue, and the beauty of holiness : from which she will acquire a taste for the doctrines of religion, and a spirit to perform the duties of it. And those who wish to make her ashamed of this charming temper, and seek to dispossess her of it, will, it is to be feared, give her nothing better in exchange. But whoever reflects at all, will easily discern how carefully this enthusiasm is to be directed, and how judiciously its redundances are to be lopped away.
Prudence is not natural to children; they can, however, substitute art in its stead. But is it not much better that a girl should discover the faults incident to her age, than conceal them under this dark and impenetrable veil ? I could almost venture to assert, that there is something more becoming in the very errors of nature, where they are undisguised, than in the affectation of virtue itself, where the reality is wanting. And I am so far from being an admirer of prodigies, that I am extremely apt to suspect them; and am always infinitely better pleased with nature in her more common modes of operation. The precise and premature wisdom, which some girls have cunning enough to assume, is of a more dangerous tendency than any of thei: natural failings can be, as it effectually covers those secret bad dispositions, which, if they displayed themselves, might be rectified. The hypocrisy of assuming virtues which are not inherent in the heart, prevents the growth and disclosure of those real ones, which it is the great end of education to cultivate.
But if the natural indications of the temper are to be suppressed and stifled, where are the diag'nostics, by which the state of the mind is to be known ? The wise Author of all things, who did nothing in vain, doubtless intended them as symptoms, by which to judge of the diseases of the . heart; and it is impossible diseases should be cured before they are known. If the stream be so cut off as to prevent communication, or so choked up as to defeat discovery, how shall we ever reach the source, out of which are the issues of life?
This cunning, which, of all the different dispositions girls discover, is most to be dreaded, is increased by nothing so much as by fear. If those about them express violent and unreasonable anger at every trivial offence, it will always promote this temper, and will very frequently create it, where there was a natural tendency to frankness. The indiscreet transports of rage, which many betray on every slight occasion, and the little distinction they make between venial errors and premeditated crimes, naturally dispose a child to conceal, what she does not however care to suppress. Anger in one will not remedy the faults of another ; for how can an instrument of sin cure sin ? If a girl is kept in a state of perpetual and slavish terror, she will perhaps have artifice enough to conceal those propensities which she knows are wrong, or those actions which
she thinks are most obnoxious to punishment. But, nevertheless, she will not cease to indulge those propensities, and to commit those actions, when she can do it with impunity.
Good dispositions, of themselves, will go but a very little way, unless they are confirmed into good principles. And this cannot be effected but by a careful course of religious instruction, and a patient and laborious cultivation of the moral temper.
But, notwithstanding girls should not be treated with unkindness, nor the first openings of the passions blighted by cold severity; yet I am of opinion that young
females should be accustomed very early in life to a certain degree of restraint. The natural cast of character, and the moral distinctions between the sexes, sbould not be disregarded, even in childhood. That bold, independent, enterprising spirit, which is so much admired in boys, should not, when it happens to discover itself in the other sex, be encouraged, but suppressed. Girls should be taught to give up their opinions betimes, and not pertinaciously to carry on a dispute, even if they should know themselves to be in the right. I do not mean, that they should be robbed of the liberty of private judgment, but that they should by no means be encouraged to contract a contentious or contradictory turn. It is of the greatest importance to their future happiness, that they should acquire a submissive temper and a forbearing spirit : for it is a lesson which the world will not fail to make them frequently practise, when they come abroad into it, and they will not practise it the worse for having learnt it the sooner. These early restraints, in the limitation here meant, are so far from being an effect of cruelty, that they are the most indubitable marks of affection, and are the more meritorious, as they are severe trials of tenderness. But all the beneficial effects, which a mother can expect from this watchfulness, will be entirely defeated, if it is practised occasionally, and not habitually, and if it ever appears to be used to gratify caprice, illhumour, or resentment.
Those who have children to educate ought to be extremely patient: it is indeed a labour of love. They should reflect that extraordinary talents are neither essential to the well-being of society, nor to the happiness of individuals. If that had been the case, the beneficent Father of the universe would not have made them so rare. For it is as easy for an Almighty Creator to produce a Newton, as an ordinary man; and he could have made those powers common which we now consider as wonderful, without any miraculous exertion of his omnipotence, if the existence of many Newtons had been necessary to the perfection of his wise and gracious plan.
Surely, therefore, there is more piety, as well as more sense, in labouring to improve the talents which children actually have, than in lamenting that they do not possess supernatural endowments or angelic perfections. A passage of Lord Bacon's furnishes an admirable incitement for endeavouring to carry the amiable and christian grace of charity to its farthest extent, instead of indulging an overanxious care for more brilliant but less important acquisitions. • The desire of power in excess (says he) caused the angels to fall; the desire of knowledge in excess caused man to fall; but in charity is no excess, neither can men nor angels come into danger by it.”
A girl who has docility will seldom be found to want understanding enough for all the purposes of a social, a happy, and an useful life. “And when we behold the tender hope of fond and anxious love, blasted by disappointment, the defect will as often be discovered to proceed from the neglect or the error of cultivation, as from the natural temper; and those who lament the evil, will sometimes be found to have occasioned it.
It is as injudicious for parents to set out with too sanguine a dependence on the merit of their children, as it is for them to be discouraged at every repulse. When their wishes are defeated in this or that particular instance, where they had treasured up some darling expectation, this is so far from being a reason for relaxing their attention, that it ought to be an additional motive for redoubling it. Those who hope to do a great deal, must not expect to do every thing. If they know any thing of the malignity of sin, the blindness of prejudice, or the corruption of the human heart, they will also know, that that heart will always remain, after the very best possible education, full of infirmity and imperfection. Extraordinary allowances, therefore, must be made for the weakness of nature in this its weakest state. After much is done, much will remain to do, and much, very much, will still be left undone : for this regulation of the passions and affections cannot be the work of education alone, without the concurrence of divine grace operating on the heart. Why then should parents repine, if their efforts are not always crowned with immediate success ? They should consider, that they are not educating cherubims and seraphims, but men and women; creatures, who at their best estate are altogether vanity : how little then can be expected from them in the weakness and imbecility of infancy! I have dwelt on this part of the subject the longer, because I am certain that many, who have set out with a warm and active zeal, have cooled on the very first discouragement, and have afterwards almost totally remitted their vigilance, through a criminal kind of despair,