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ADVANTAGES OF CIVILITY AND POLITENESS.
· THE acquisition of politeness affords many advantages · in life; it cleanses it from all turbulent humours and pas
sions, and makes room for whatever is agreeable, captivating, and attracting; it is capable of continual refinements, which may be all turned to our own advantage; it gives you consequence with, and commands respect from others; it never descends to engage in insignificant disputes and quarrels, but extinguishies malice, rancour, and revenge, as being atterly inconsistent with its rules; and there is so great a pleasure accruing to ourselves, in the capacity to please others, that it is infatuation not to make it our particular study; it is worth all our pains to acquire, from the circumstaćce of its being a passport or recommendation to all manner of good company, and what may be in the power of every one to attain, if they are not prevented by absolute ignorance, pride, or ill-nature; and wherever . we
find it, it makes us pleased with society, and lessens that · contempt for mankind we are frequently too apt to cherish.
So that a woman with a moderate education, good nature, and a common understanding, if she apply them properly, unmixed with vanity and affectation, even in the ordinary circles of life, and without mingling with the great, has it in her power at all times to be civil and polite, and consequently respected and beloved.
ON THE EMPLOYMENT OF TIME.. TO occupy the mind with useful employments, is among the best methods of guarding it from surrendering itself to dissipation. To occupy it with such employments regularly, is among the best methods of leading it to love them. Young women sometimes complain, and more frequently the complaint is made for them, that they have notbing to do. Yet few complaints are urged with less foundation. To prescribe to a young person of the female sex the precise occupations to which she should devote her time, is impossible. It would be to attempt to linit, by inapplicable rules, duties which must vary according to circumstances
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which cannot previously be ascertained. Differences in point of health, of intellect, of taste, and a thousand nameJess particularities of family occurrences and local situation, elaim, in each individual case, to be taken into the account. Some general reflections, however, may be offered. · I advert not yet to the occupations which flow from the duties of matrimonial life. When, to the rational employments open to all women, the entire superintendance of domestic economy is added; when parental cares and duties press forward to assume the high rank in a mother's breast to which they are entitled ; to complain of the difficulty of finding proper methods of occupying time, would be a lamentation which nothing but politeness could preserve from being received by the auditor with a smile. But in what manner, I hear it replied, are they, who are not wives and mothers, to busy themselves ? Even at present young women in general, notwithstanding all their efforts to quicken and enliven the slow-paced hours, appear, if we may judge from their countenances and their language, not upfre, quently to feel themselves unsuccessful. If dress then, and the affairs and einployments which you class collectively under the head of dissipation, are not to be allowed to fill so large a space in the course of female life as they now overspread; and your desire extremely to curtail them in the exercise of this branch of their established prerogative is by no means equivocal; how are well-bred women to support themselves in the single state through the dismal vacuity that seems to await them? This question it may be sufficient to answer by another : if young and well-bred women are not accustomed, in their single state, regularly to assign a large proportion of their hours to serious and instructive occupations, what prospect, what hope is there, that, when married, they will assume habits to which they have ever been strangers, and exchange idleness and volatility for steadiness and exertion ?
To every woman, whether single or married, the habit of regularly allotting to improving books a portion of each day, and, as far as may be practicable, at stated hours, cannot be too strongly recommended. I use the term improving in a large sense; as comprehending all writings which may contribute to her virtue, her usefuluess, her instruction, and her innocent satisfaction ; to her bappiness in this world and in the next. She who believes that she is to survive in another state of being through eternity, and is duly impressed by the awful conviction, will fix day by day
her most serious thoughts on the inheritance to which she aspires. Where her treasure is there will her heart be also. She will not be seduced from an habitual study of the Holy Scriptures, and of other works calculated to imprint on her bosom the comparatively small importance of the pains and pleasures of this period of her existence; and to fill her with that knowledge, and inspire her with those views and dispositions, which may lead her to delight in the present service of her Maker, and enable her to rejoice in the contemplation of futurity. With the time allotted to the regular perusal of the Word of God, and of performances which inculcate the principles and enforce and illustrate the rules of Christian duty, no other kind of reading ought to be permitted to interfere. At other parts of the day let history, let biography, let poetry, or some of the various branches of elegant and profitable knowledge, pay their tri. bute of instruction and anrusement. But let her studies be confined within the strictest limits of purity. Let whatever she peruses in her most private hours be such as she needs not be ashamed of reading aloud to those whose good opinion she is most anxious to deserve. Let her remember that there is an all-seeing eye, 'which is ever fixed upon her, even in her closest retirement. Let her not indulge herself in the frequent perosal of writings, however interesting in their nature, however eminent in a literary point of view, which are likely to inflame pride, and to inspire false notions of generosity, of feeling, of spirit, or of any other quality deemed to contribute to excellence of character. Such unhappily are the effects to be apprehended from the works even of several of our distinguished writers, in prose or in verse. And let her accustom herself regularly to bring the sentiment which she reads, and the conduct which is described in terms, more or less strong, of applause and recommendation, to the test of Christian principles. In proportion as this practice is pursued or neglected, reading will be profitable or pernicious. . .
There is one species of writings which obtain's from a considerable portion of the female sex a reception much more favourable than is afforded to other kinds of compo. sition more worthy of encouragement. It is scarcely necessary to add the name of novels and romances. · Works of this nature not unfrequently deserve the praise of ingenoity of plan and contrivance, of accurate and well sup. ported discrimination of character, and of force and ele. gance of language. Some of them have professedly been
composed with a design to favour the interests of morality. And among those which are deemed to have on the whole
a inoral tendency, a very few perhaps might be selected, · which are not liable to the disgraceful charge of being oc·casionally contaminated by incidents and passages unfit to be presented to the reader, This charge, however, may so verò generally be alledged with justice, that even of the novels which possess high and established reputation, by far the greater number are totally improper, in consequence of such admixture, to be perused by the eye of delicacy... :: To-indulge in a practice of reading novels is, in several other particulars, liable to produce mischievous effects. Such compositions are, to most persons, extremely engaging. That story must be singularly barren, or wretchedly told, of which, after having heard the beginning, we desire not to know the end. To the pleasure of learning the ultimate fortunes of the heroes and heroines of the tale, the novel commonly adds, in a greater or in a less degree, that which arises from animated description, from lively dialogue, or from interesting sentiment. Hence the perusal of one publication of this class leads, with much inore frequency than is the case with respect to works of other kinds (except perhaps of dramatic writings, to which most of the present remarks may be transferred) to the speedy perusal of another. Thus a habit is formed, at first of limited indulgence, but ihat is continually found more formidable and more eneroaching. The appetite becomes too keen to be denied; and in proportion as it is inore urgent, grows less nice and select in its fare. What would formerly have given offence, now gives none. The palate is vitiated or made dull. The produce of the book-club, apd the contents of the circulating library, are devoured with indiscriminate and insatiable avidity. Hence the mind is secretly corrupted. Let it be observed too, that in exact correspondence with the increase of a passion for reading novels, an aversion to reading of a more improving nature will gather strength. Even in the class of novels least objectionable in point of delicacy, false sentiment unfitting the mind for sober life, applause apd censure distributed amiss, inorality estimated by an erroneous standard, and the capricious laws and empty sanctions of honour set up in the place of religion, are the lessons usually presented. There is yet another consequence too iinportant to be overlooked. The catastrophe and the incidents of these fictitious narratives compionly turn on ihe vicissitudes and effects of a passion the most powerful of all those which agitate the human heart. Hence the study of them frequently creates a susceptibility of impression; . and a premature warmth of tender emotions, which, not to speak of other possible effects, have been known to betray young women into a sudden attachment to persons unwor.. thy of their affections, and thus to hurry them into mar. riages terminating in unhappiness.. :-*
In addition to the regular habit of useful reading, the custom of committing to the memory select and ample portions of poetic compositions, not for the purpose of ostentatiously quoting them in mixed company, but for the sake of private improvemeot, deserves, in consequence of it's beneficial tendency, to be mentioned with a very high degree of praise. The mind is thus stored with a lasting treasure of sentiments and ideas, combined by writers of transcendent genius and vigorous imagination ; clothed in appropriate, nervous, and glowing language; and impressed by the powers of cadence and harmony. Let the poetry, however, be well chosen. Let it be such as elevates the heart with the ardour of devotion; adds energy and grace to the precepts of morality; kindles benevolence by pathetic nar. rative and reflection ; enters with accurate and lively des. cription into the varieties of character; or presents vivid pictures of the grand and beautiful features which characterise the scenery of nature. Such are, in general, the works of Milton, of Thomson, of Gray, of Mason, of Bearie, and of Cowper. - It it thus that the beauty and grandeur of nature will be contemplated with new pleasure. It is thus that taste will be called forth, exercised, and corrected. It is thus that judgment will be strengthened, virtuous emotions cherished, picty animated and exalted. At all times, and under every circumstance, the heart, penetrated with - religion, will delight itself in the recollection of passages, which display the perfections of that Being on whom it trasts, and the glorious hopes to the accomplishments of which it humbly looks forward. When' affiction' weighs down the spirits, or sickness the strength; it is then that the cheering influence of ihat recollection will be doubly. telt: When old age, disabling the sufferer from the frequent use of books, obliges the mind to turn in ward upon itself; the memory, long retentive, even in its decay, of the acquisitions which it had attained and valued in its early vigour, still suggests the lines which have again and again diffused rapture brough the bosom of health, and are yet capable of overspreading the hours of decrepitude and the couch of