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ting cheerful conversation, adapting myself to Good household management conducted the prevailing tone of feeling, and leading on this plan, is indeed a science well worthy of those who are least happy, to think and speak attention. It comprises so much, as to invest of what will make them more so."
it with an air of difficulty on the first view; Who can believe that days, months, and but no woman can reasonably complain of years spent in a continual course of thought incapability, because nature has endowed the and action similar to this, will not produce a sex with perceptions so lively and acute, that powerful effect upon the character, and not where benevolence is the impulse, and prinonly upon the individual who thinks and acts ciple the foundation upon which they act, alone, but upon all to whom her influence experience will soon teach them by what extends? In short, the customs of English means they may best accomplish the end society have so constituted women the guar they have in view. dians of the comfort of their homes, that, like They will soon learn by experience, that the Vestals of old, they cannot allow the lamp selfishness produces selfishness, that indothey cherish to be extinguished, or to fail for lence increases with every hour of indulwant of oil, without an equal share of degra. gence, that what is left undone because it is dation attaching to their names.
difficult to-day, will be doubly difficult toIn other countries, where the domestic morrow; that kindness and compassion, to lamp is voluntarily put out, in order to allow answer any desirable end, must one be practhe women to resort to the opera, or the ticable, the other delicate, in its nature ; that public festival, they are not only careless affection must be kept alive by ministering to about their home comforts, but necessarily its necessities; and, above all, that religion ignorant of the high degree of excellence to must be recommended hy consistenry of which they might be raised. In England character and conduct. there is a kind of science of good household It is the strong evidence of truths like management, which, if it consisted merely in these, wrought out of their daily experience, keeping the house respectable in its physical and forced upon them as principles of action, character, might be left to the effectual work- which renders the women of England what ing out of hired hands; but, happily for the they are, or rather were, and which fits them women of England, there is a philosophy in for becoming able instruments in the promothis science, by which all their highest and tion of public and private good ; for all must best feelings are called into exercise. Not allow, that it is to the indefatigable exertions only must the house be neat and clean, but i and faithful labors of women of this class, it must be so ordered as to suit the tastes of that England chiefly owes the support of all, as far as may be, without annoyance or some of her noblest and most benevolent inoffence to any. Not only must a constant stitutions; while it is to their unobtrusive system of activity be established, but peace and untiring efforts, that the unfortunate and must be preserved, or happiness will be de- afflicted often are indebted for the only symstroyed. Not only must elegance be called pathy—the only kind attention that erer in, to adorn and beautify the whole, but strict reaches their obscure abodes, or diffuses integrity must be maintained by the minutest cheerfulness and comfort through the solicalculation as to lawful means, and self, and tary chambers of suffering and sickness—the self-gratification, must be made the yielding only aid that relieves the victims of penury point in every disputed case. Not only must and want—the only consolation that ever an appearance of outward order and comfort visits the desolate and degraded in their be kept up, but around every domestic scene wretchedness and despair. there must be a strong wall of confidence, I acknowledge there are noble instances in which no internal suspicion can undermine, the annals of English history, and perhaps no external enemy break through.
| never more than at the present day, of
women of the highest rank devoting their beauty ; we gaze until we are dazzled, and time and their property to objects of benevo- then turn away, remembering nothing but lence; but from the very nature of their their gorgeous hues. There are others that early habits and domestic circumstances, refresh the traveller by the sweetness they they are upon the whole less fitted for prac- diffuse-but he has to search for the source tical usefulness, than those who move within of his delight. He finds it imbedded among a lower sphere. I am also fully sensible of green leaves; it may be less lovely than he the charities which abound among the poor; had anticipated, in its form and color, but oh, and often have I been led to compare the how welcome is the memory of that flower, actual merit of the magnificent bestowments when the evening breeze is again made fraof those who know not one comfort the less, grant with its perfume ! with that of the poor man's offering, and the It is thus that the unpretending virtues of widow's mite. Still my opinion remains the the female character force themselves upon same, that in the situation of the middle our regard, so that the woman herself is class of women in England, are combined nothing in comparison with her attributes, advantages in the formation of character, to and we remember less the celebrated belle, which they owe much of their distinction, than her who made us happy. and their country much of her moral worth. Nor is it by their frequent and faithful ser
The true English woman, accustomed to vices alone, that English women are distinbear about with her her energies for daily guished. The greater proportion of them use, her affections for daily happiness, and were diligent and thoughtful readers. It was her delicate perceptions for hourly aids in the not with them a point of importance to dediscovery of what is best to do or to leave vour every book that was written as soon as undone, by this means obtains an insight into it came out. They were satisfied to single human nature, a power of adaptation, and a out the best, and, making themselves familiar readiness of application of the right means to with every page, conversed with the writer the desired end, which not only render her as with a friend, and felt that with minds suthe most valuable friend, but the most de. perior, but yet congenial to their own, they lightful of fireside companions, because she could make friends indeed. In this manner is thus enabled to point the plainest moral, their solitude was cheered, their hours of la. and adorn the simplest tale, with all those bor sweetened, and their conversation renfreshly-formed ideas which arise out of actual dered at once piquant and instructive. This experience and the contemplation of unvar- was preserved from the technicalities of nished truth.
common-place by the peculiar nature of their Among their other characteristics, the wo. social and mental habits. They were accusmen of England are freely spoken of as ple- tomed to think for themselves ; and, deprived beian in their manners, and cold in their in some measure of access to what might be affections ; but their unpolished and occa- esteemed the highest authorities in matters sionally embarrassed manner, as frequently of sentiment and taste, they drew their conconceals a delicacy that imparts the most re clusions from reasoning, and their reasoning fined and elevated sentiment to their familiar from actual observation. It is true, their acts of duty and regard ; and those who sphere of observation was microscopic, comknow them best are compelled to acknow- pared with that of the individual who enjoys ledge that all the noblest passions, the deep- the means of travelling from court to court, est feelings, and the highest aspirations of and of mixing with the polished society of humanity, may be found within the brooding every nation ; but an acute vision directed quiet of an English woman's heart.
to immediate objects, whatever they may be, There are flowers that burst upon us, and will often discover as much of the wonders startle the eye with the splendor of their of creation, and supply the intelligent mind
with food for reflection as valuable, as that when home associations and home affections which is the result of a widely extended are the balm which the wounded spirit view, where the objects, though more nu needs. merous, are consequently less distinct.
But above all other characteristics of the Thus the domestic woman, moving in a women of England, the strong moral feeling comparatively limited circle, is not necessari pervading even their most trifling and familiar ly confined to a limited number of ideas, but actions, ought to be mentioned as most concan often expatiate upon subjects of mere
ducive to the maintenance of that high place local interest, with a vigor of intellect, a which they so justly claim in the society of freshness of feeling, and a liveliness of fancy, their native land. The apparent coldness which create, in the mind of the uninitiated and reserve of English women ought only to stranger, a perfect longing to be admitted be regarded as a means adopted for the presinto the home associations from whence are ervation of their purity of mind,-an evil, if derived such a world of amusement, and so you choose to call it so, but an evil of so mild unfailing a relief from the severer duties of a nature, in comparison with that which it life.
wards off, that it may with truth be said to It is not from the acquisition of ideas, but " lean to virtue's side." from the application of them, that conversa
I have said before, that the sphere of a tion derives its greatest charm. Thus an domestic woman's observation is microscopic. exceedingly well-informed talker may be in. She is therefore sensible of defects within describably tedious; while one who is com that sphere, which, to a more extended vision, paratively ignorant, as regards mere facts, would be imperceptible. If she looked abroad having brought to bear, upon every subject for her happiness, she would be less disturbcontemplated, a lively imagination combined ed by any falling off at home. If her interest with a sound judgment, and a memory and her energies were diffused through a stored, not only with dates and historical wider range, she would be less alive to the events, but with strong and clear impressions minuter claims upon her attention. It is posof familiar things, may rivet the attention of sible she may sometimes attach too much his hearers, and startle them, for the time, importance to the minutiæ of her own domesinto a distinctness of impression which im- tic world, especially when her mind is imperparts a degree of delightful complacency , fectly cultivated and informed: but, on the both to his hearers, and to the entertainer other hand, there arises, from the same cause, himself.
a scrupulous exactness, a studious obserIn the exercise of this kind of tact, the vance of the means of happiness, a delicacy women of England, when they can be in- of perception, a purity of mind, and a digniduced to cast off their shyness and reserve, fied correctness of manner, for which the are peculiarly excellent, and there is conse women of England are unrivalled by those of quently an originality in their humor, a firm any other nation. ness in their reasoning, and a tone of delicacy By a certain class of individuals, their genin their perceptions, scarcely to be found else- eral conduct may possibly be regarded as too where in the same degree, and combined in prudish to be strictly in keeping with enlarged the same manner; nor should it ever be for- and liberal views of human life. These are gotten, in speaking of their peculiar merits, such as object to find the strict principles of that the freshness and the charm of their female action carried out towards themselves. conversation is reserved for their own fire- But let every man who disputes the right sides—for moments, when the wearied frame foundation of this system of conduct, imagine is most in need of exhilaration, when the in the place of the woman whose retiring shymind is thrown upon its own resources for ness provokes his contempt, his sister or his the restoration of its exhausted powers, and friend : and, while he substitutes another be
ing, similarly constituted, for himself, he will mestic peace, which constitute the foundation immediately perceive that the boundary-line of all that is most valuable in the society of of safety, beyond which no true friend of wo our native land. man ever tempted her to pass, is drawn niany Much as I have said of the influence of the degrees within that which he had marked domestic habits of my countrywomen, it is, out for his own intercourse with the female after all, to the prevalence of religious instruc
Nor is it in the small and separate de- tion, and the operation of religious principle viations from this strict line of propriety, that upon the heart, that the consistent mainte. any great degree of culpability exists. Each nance of their high tone of moral character is individual act may be simple in itself, and to be attributed. Among families in the midalmost too insignificant for remark; it is habit dle class of society of this country, those who that stamps the character, and custom, that live without regard to religion are exceptions renders common. Who then can guard too to the general rule; while the great proporscrupulously against the first opening, and tion of individuals thus circumstanced are not almost imperceptible change of manners, by only accustomed to give their time and attenwhich the whole aspect of domestic life would tion to religious observances, but, there is be altered? And who would not rather that every reason to believe, are materially affectEnglish women should be guarded by a wall ed in their lives and conduct by the operation of scruples, than allowed to degenerate into of Christian principles upon their own minds. less worthy and less efficient supporters of Women are said to be more easily brought their country's moral worth?
under this influence than men; and we conWere it only in their intercourse with mix. sequently see, in places of public worship, and ed society that English women were distin on all occasions in which a religious object is guished by this strict regard to the proprieties the motive for exertion, a greater proportion of life, it might with some justice fall under of women than of men. The same proportion the ban of prudery; but, happily for them, it may possibly be observed in places of amuseextends to every sphere of action in which ment, and where objects less desirable claim they move, discountenancing vice in every the attention of the public; but this ought not form, and investing social duty with that to render us insensible to the high privileges true moral dignity which it ought ever to pos- of our favored country, where there is so
much to interest, to please, and to instruct, in I am not ignorant that this can only be con what is connected with the highest and holiest sistently carried out under the influence of uses to which we can devote the talents com. personal religion. I must, therefore, be un mitted to our trust. derstood to speak with limitations, and as comparing my own countrywomen with those of other nationsmas acknowledging melancholy exceptions
and not only fervently de. siring that every one professed a religion
CHAPTER II. capable of leading them in a more excellent way, but that all who do profess that religion were studiously careful in these minor points. It might form a subject of interesting inStill I do believe that the women of England quiry, how far the manifold advantages posare not surpassed by those of any other coun. sessed by England as a country, derive their try for their clear perception of the right and origin remotely from the cause already descrithe wrong of common and familiar things, for bed; but the immediate object of the present their reference to principle in the ordinary work is to show how intimate is the connection affairs of life, and for their united maintenance which exists between the women of England, of that social order, sound integrity, and do- and the moral character maintained by their
INFLUENCE OF THE WOMEN OF ENGLAND.
country in the scale of nations. For a woman meritorious exertions. The sphere of woto undertake such a task, may at first sight man's happiest and most beneficial influence appear like an act of presumption ; yet when is a domestic one, but it is not easy to award it is considered that the appropriate business even to her quiet and unobtrusive virtues of men is to direct, and expatiate upon those that meed of approbation which they really expansive and important measures for which deserve, without exciting a desire to forsake their capabilities are more peculiarly adapted, the homely household duties of the family and that to women belongs the minute and circle to practise such as are more conspicparticular observance of all those trifles which uous, and consequently more productive of fill up the sum of human happiness or misery, an immediate harvest of applause. it may surely be deemed pardonable for a I say this with all kindness, and I desire woman to solicit the serious attention of her to say it with all gentleness, to the young, own sex, while she endeavors to prove that the amiable, and the-rain; at the same it is the minor morals of domestic life which time that my perception of the temptation to give the tone to English character, and that which they are exposed, enchances my value over this sphere of duty it is her peculiar prov- for the principle that is able to withstand it, ince to preside.
and increases my admiration of those nobleAware that the word preside, used as it is minded women who are able to carry forward, here, may produce a startling effect upon the with exemplary patience and perseverance, ear of man, I must endeavor to bespeak his the public offices of benevolence, without forbearance, by assuring him, that the highest sacrificing their home duties, and who thus aim of the writer does not extend beyond the prove to the world, that the perfection of act of warning the women of England back female character is a combination of private to their domestic duties, in order that they and public virtue,—of domestic charity, and may become better wives, more useful daugh- zeal for the temporal and eternal happiness ters and mothers, who by their examples shall of the whole human race. bequeath a rich inheritance to those who fol. No one can be further than the writer of low in their steps.
these pages from wishing to point out as obOn the other hand, I am equally aware jects of laudable emulation those domestic that a work such as I am proposing to myself | drudges, who, because of some affinity bemust be liable to the condemnation of all mod. tween culinary operations, and the natural ern young ladies, as a homely, uninteresting tone and character of their own minds, prefer book, and wholly unsuited to the present en the kitchen to the drawing-room-of their lightened times. I must therefore endeavor own free choice, employ their whole lives in also to conciliate their good-will, by assuring the constant bustle of providing for mere them, that all which is must lovely, poetical, animal appetite, and waste their ingenuity in and interesting, nay, even heroic in women, the creation of new wants and wishes, which derives its existence from the source I am all their faculties again are taxed to supply. now about to open to their view, with all the This class of individuals have, by a sad misability I am able to command :—and would take in our nomenclature, been called useful, it were a hundred-fold, for their sakes! and hence, in some degree, may arise the
The kind of encouragement I would hold unpopular reception which this valuable out to them is, however, of a nature so wide word is apt to meet with in female society. ly different from the compliments to which It does not require much consideration to they are too much accustomed, that I feel perceive that these are not the women to the difficulty existing in the present day, of give a high moral tone to the national charstimulating a laudable ambition in the female acter of England; yet so entirely do human mind, without the aid of public praise or actions derive their dignity or their meanness printed records of the actual product of their from the motives by which they are prompted,