Archibald Forbes.

The Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 online

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admiration lavished on these external acquirements,
be all within reasonable limits: provided they are
regarded as sources of private entertainment, not as
arts of public display: are considered as recreations
from more severe and necessary pursuits, not as ihe
chief end of education ; and are viewed as the mere
appendages of excellence, not its substitute.

It unfortunately happens, however, that the fe-
male who has in reality received the worst educa-
tion, often makes the best figure in society. There
are many schools which, (to adopt a simile borrow-
ed from the trades of my own town,) instead of re-
sembling the jeweller's workshop, where sterling gold
and real diamonds are polished, are nothing more
than gilders, vamishers, and platers, whose object
it is to give the brightest surface in the shortest
time and at the least expense. The paste and the

S'lt look very well, perhaps better than the gem and
e gold, because more or it can be obtained for the
same sum : but which will wear best, and last the
loneest t It requires much i^elf-denial, sturdy at-
tachment to solid excellence and nobleness of mind,
for a female of few accomplishments, but many vir-
tues, to ^o home from a company where son^e gild-
ed, varnished mind has received, for her music or
singing, the tribute of admiration, and still to prefer
Ihe oncommanding excellence of character, to all

the fascinations of exterior decorations. But look
onward in life. See the future career of both. The
S3rren wins the heart, for which, as a prize, she has
sung and played. She marries, and is placed at the
head of a rising family. But, alas! the time she
should have spent in preparing to be a companion
to her husbancl, a mother to her children, a mistress
to her servants, was employed at the piano, in qua-
lifying her to charm the drawing-room circle. She
succeeded, and bad her reward, but it ended when
she became a wife and a mother. She had neither
good sense nor information ; neither frugality, or-
der, nor system; neither ability to govern her ser-
vants, nor guide her children; her husband sees
every thing |:oing wrong, and is dissatisfied; he
caught the nightingale to which he listened with
such transport in her native bower; but she is now
a miserable looking, moping, silent bird in her cage.
All is discontent and wretchedness, for both at length
find out that she was better qualified to be a public
siiiger than a wife, or a mother, or a mistress.

Far different is the case with the unostentatious
individual of real moral worth. She too wins a
heart more worth winning than the prize ^ast spokeo
of. Some congenial mind, looking round for an in-
dividual who shall be a helpmate indeed, sees in
her good sense and prudence, her weU-stored un-
derstanding, her sobriety of manners, her sterling
f>iety, the virtues likely to last throagn life, wiih fo-
ia^e ever verdant, fruit ever abundant. They are
united : the hopes of lovers, rational, unromantic,
founded on kindred minds, and kindred hearts, are
realized in all the fond endearments of wedded life.
Although the first bloom and freshness of youthful
affection fades away, its meUowness still remains,
and mutual esteem still continues and grows. Their
family increases, over which she presides in the
meekness of wisaom, the order of S3rstem, and the
economy, not of meanness, but of prudence. To
her children, whom her husband trusts with confi-
dence to her care, she is the instructer of their minds,
the guide of their youth. Their father sees them
rising up to prove the wisdom of his choice, when he
selected a wife rather for virtues than accomplish-
ments^ their mother delights in a husband wno is
one with her in all her views, and approves of all
her doings. They pass through life together, bless-
ing and being blessed ; mutual comforters and mu-
tual counsellors, oflen saying, if not singing,

" Domestic happiness, thou only bliss
- Of Paradise that hast survived the fall !
Thou art not known where Pleasure is ador'd.
That reeling goddess with the zoneless waist."

How true and how beautiful are the words of
Solomon : " Who can find a virtuous woman 1 for
her price is ftir above rubies. The heart of her hns-
bana doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have
no need of spoil. She will do him good and not
evil all the days of her life. She layeth her hands
to the spindle, and her hands hold the distafif. She
stretcheih out her hands to the poor : yea. she reach-
eth forth her hands to the needy. Her husband b
known in the gates, when he Kitteth among the el-
ders of the land. Strength and honor are her cloth-
ing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She
openeth her month With wisdom, and in her tongue
is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways
of her household, and eateth not the bread of idle-
ness. Her children rise up and call her bless^,
her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daugh-
ters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them
alL Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain ; but a
woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.
Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own
works praise her in the gates."»

• Proverbs xxxi.

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A beantiAil commeat on this lovel;^ passage is to
be found in the " Friend," by Colsndge ; amongst
some " Specimens of Rabbinical vnsdoTn selected fr 01^
tJU MoBNA." It is entitled, " Whoso hath found a
Tirtuous wife, hath a greater treasure than costly

" Such a treasure had the celebrated teacher Rab-
bi Meir fotind. He sat during the whole of one
Sabbath-day in the public school, and instructed the
people. During his absence from his house, his two
sons died, both of them of uncomm(m beauty, and
enlightened in the law. His wife bore them to her
bed-chamber, laid them upon the marriage bed, and
^read a white covering over their bodies. In the
evening Rabbi Meir came home. * Where are mv
sons,' he asked, ^ that I may give them my blessing 1'
' They are gone to the school,' was the answer. * I
repeatedly looked round the school,' he replied, ' and
I did not see them there.' She reached to him a
foblet: he praised the Lord at the going out of the
SaUtath, drank, and again a.sked, ^Where are mv
sons, that they too may drink of the cup of blessing V
' They will not be far off,' she i^tid. and placed food
before him that he might eat. He was in a glad-
some and genial mood, and when he had said grace
^fter the meal, she thus addressed him !-^* Rabbi,
peimit me one question.' *Ask it^ then, my love,'
ne replied. 'A few days ago a person entrusted
some jewels to my custody, and now he demands
them again ; should I give them back to him V ' This
is a question,' said Rabbi Meir, * which my wife
should not have thought it necessary 10 ask. What I
wooldst thou hesitate or be reluctant to restore to
every one his own V * O no,' replied she, * but I
thought it best not to restore them without acquaint-
ing thee therewith.' She then led him to their cham-
ber, and stepping to the bed. took the white cover-
ing from the dea^ bodies. * Ah, my sons ! my sons !'
thus loudly lamented the father, * my sons ! the light
of mine eyes, and the light of my understanding !
I was your father, but ye were my teachers in the
law I' The mother turned away and wept bitterly.
At length she took her husband by the nand, and
said, 'Rabbi, didst thou not teach me that one must
not be reluctant to restore that which was entrusted
to our keeping 1 See, the Lord gave, the Lord
has taken away, and blessed be the name of the
Lord !' * Blessed be the name of the Lord !' echoed
Rabbi Meir, 'and blessed be his name for tlt^ sake
too; for well is it written. Whoso hath found a vir-
tuous wife, hath a greater treasure than costly
pearls: she openeth her. mouth with wisdom, and in
her tongue is the law of kindness.' "

My young female friends, have you no ambition
to answer, in future life, these beautiful patterns of
female excellence 1 Have you no desire, that if Pro-
vidence should place you at the head of a family,
you may shine ibrth in all the mild radiance of do-
mestic feminine excellence t Is there not, as you
read, some spirit-stirring desires in your soul 1 Does
not all the flitter of mere external accomplishments
ftde away mto darkness before such effulgent vir-
tue 1 Does not all the painted insignificance otmere
drawin|^-room charms dwindle into nothing before
that adid excellence, which is a

" Perpetual fountain of domestic sweets 7"

If so, and ye would thus bless and be blessed, make
up your mind deliberatel}^ to this opinion, and abide
by it, thai what is useful is in/initelif to be preferred
Uwhat is dazzling: and virtuous' excellence to be
more ardenthf coveted than fashionable accomplish-
ments. A right aim is of unspeakable consequence.
Whatever we propose, as the grand paramount ob-
ject, will form the character. We shall subordinate
every thing elseto it: and be this yew aim, to iz-


Seek a large portion of what is Usually denomi-

It is Y^Tf difficult to define what Tmean, and per-
haps it is not necessary, for every, one knows what
I intend by this quzdity. It is that sobriety of cha-
racter, that quick perception of all the proprieties
of life, that nice discernment of what is best to be
done in all the ordinary circumstances of human so-
ciety, which shall enable us to act with credit to
ourselves, and comfort to others. It is a thoughtful,
cautious way of judging and acting, and is equally
opposed to that rashness which acts with precipi^
tancy, and that ignorance which cannot act at all.
It is, in fact, prudence, accommodating itself to all
the relations pf life, and ever-var3ring circumstances
of society.

Store your mind with useful information.

Read much, and let your reading be of a right
kind. Reject with disdain, as jqm ought, the libel
which has been circulated ov some against your un-
derstanding, that poetry and novels are the books
most adapted to the understanding and feeling of
young ladies. On this topic I refer yon to the chap-
ter on booki;. I cannot, nowever, but insert a few
additional hints on the subject here. •

To assist in the right formation of your charac->
ter, I very urgently recommend the perusal of Mrs,
Hannah More's " Strictures on the Modem System
of Fem4ile Education.-** for although this work is
more particularly intended for mothers, it may be
read with immense advantage also by daughters.
The views of this incomparable woman are so cor-
rect, and so enlarged, so accordant with reason, and
what is still more important, so harmonious with re-
velation, that you cannot look up to a better guide.
Oisbome's ^^ Duties of Women^* may also be read
with great advantage. Coafs " Female Biofraphy,**
and Gibbon*s *' Lives of Pious Women,** with Wit-
lioMs* " Life of Mrs. Savage** in this department of
reading, will be found interesting books.

History should of course occupy much of your*
time. Here you should be at home. But do not
read merely to acquire a mental chronicle of names
and dates. To know when such a king reigned, by
whom such a country was conauered, or where
such a battle was fought^ is one ojf the lowest ends
of reading the annals of nations. In Mrs. More*s
work you will find an admirable chapter, " On the
religions and moral use of History and Geography,"
to which, with great pleasure, I refer you.

Poe^ should be resorted to as a recreation, and
a recreation only. On this subject I need not repeat
what I have already stated, except to add, that as
you have not learned the dead languages, I should
advise you to add to the productions of your own na-
tional muse, the immortal poems of jE&iiur and Ftr-
gU, which may be read, the former in the transla^
tlons of Pope and Cowper, and the latter in that of

Botany seems, if not to belong to your sex, to be
peculiarfv appropriate to it. The elementary trea-
tises of Chymistry, such as " Conversations on Chv-
mistry, by a Lady," and Parke's Catechism, might
be read with great benefit : and indeed the element-
ary treatises of the whole range of natural philoso-
phy, if you have leisure, should be read.

As you may be one day called to train the minds
of your own children, you should not have the phi-
losophy of education to learn when you want it to
use ; and therefore should now become acquainted
with all that is connected with this invaluable scir
ence. l^Kss Edgeworth*s Treatise on Practical Edu-
cation,* with Mrs. More*s work, will be found most

* Never was there a writer that better OAdentood

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fi8 _^

interetting as well as instnicti^e. And if yoa are
williD(r to go still farther, I would advise you to
study Wattt^ ^'Improvement of the Mind," and bis
" Logic ;" Mr. Burder's " HinU on MnUal Culture ,•"
DugM Stewart's work on " Tke PhUosopky of the
Himah Minds" and some parts of Locke*s treatise
"(^ He Bwman Understanding" Some of these
works will certainly require close application, and
hard thinking; but they will amply reward the la^
bor of research ; and the powers of the mind, like
those Of the body, strengthen b^ exercise. " Serious
study serves to narden the mind for more trying
conmcts; it lifts the reader from sensation to intel-
lect ; it abstracts her from ihe world and its vani-
ties*, it fixes a wandering ^irit, and fortifies a weak
one I it divorces her f^om matter, it corrects that
spint of trifling, which she naturally contracts from
tne frivolous tarn of female conversation, and the
petty nature of female employments ; it concentrates
ner attention, assists her in a habit of excluding tri-
vial thoughts, and ttius even helps to qualify her for
reUeious pursuits." ^

Thus would I have a female qualiled for her sta-
tion as a wife, mother and mistress : but this is not
all: for mental improvement should be associated
with a correct hmmedge of household affairs. She
who i« to preside over a family, should oe most in-
timately acouainted with eveiy thing that can pre-
serve its oroer or promote its comfort. That must
be a most injudicious mother , who is not anxious to
teach a daughter how to manage a family to the
greatest advantage; and that must be a weak and
silly girl, who is not willing to be taught. AU the
time, therefore, must not be given to books; for
Uaried ladies, without neatness, without order, with-
out economy, without frugality,

"May do very well for fisaidens or atmts,
But, believe me, they'll never make wives."

A husband's home should be rendered comforta-
ble for himself and his children, or else they are
both very likely to wander /r<m home for comfort.
Cleanliness, neatness, frugality^ order, are all of
great importance in the habits <n a wife, mother and
mistress, for the want of which, no knowledge, how-
ever profound or extensive, can be a substitute. It
is not at all requisite that a wife should be either an
accomplished housemaid, or a perfect cook, but she
ought to be able to judge of these qualifications in
others: and the want of this ability has led many a
man, who was blessed with a learned wife, to ex-
claim, with something between disgust and despair,
" I now find, to my cofct, that knowledge alone is as
poor a qualification for a wife, as personal beauty
or external accomjtlishments."

Before I close this chapter, I must mentiott one or
two dispositions, which young females should assi-
duously cherish and unostentatiously exhibit.

The first izfaial obedience; not that this is bind-
ing upon daughters only, for what son is he that ho-
lioreth not, loveth not, comforteth not, his father

the philosophv of educaticm than this extraordinary
woman: alt she has written, from the work above
mentioned down to " Early Lessons," may be read
with advantage, not only by those who are to learn,
but by those who are to teach. I regret, in common
with many others, the exclusion of religion from her
productions, and the occasional introduction of ir-
religious exclamations; but on the general princi-
ples of education, and the formation of the cnarac-
ter^ in every other view of it than in reference to
rahgion, Miss Edgeworth remains unequalled. How
de^ly to be deplored, that fhmi the works of such a
writer, the spirit and genius of Christianity should
be ayitHMatieaHy excluded.

and his mother 7 Wherever Providence should ctst
his lor, or in whatever circumstances he should be
placed, let him continue in every possiUe way to
promote the happine^ of his parents. Young peo-
ple are but too apt to think, that the obligations lo
filial piety diminish in number and strength, as
years increase. I am afraid that really one of the
signs of the times^ and it is no bright one, is the de-
crease of this amiable and lovely virtue. I think I
see rising — I wwh I may be in error— a spirit of ia-
dependence, which is aiming to antedate the period
of manhood, and to bring as near to fourteen as pos-
sible, the time when the ^oke of parental coaitoi
may be thrown off. This is neither for the comfort
of the parents, nor the advantage of the childrfn
It is not obedience only that should not be refused;
for where this is denied, there can be neither reli-
gion nor virtue ; but all that public way of showing
them honor, and all that private way of promoting
their comfort, for which opportunities are constant-
ly presented. There is no period in the life of a fa-
ther or a mother, when the obligation to be in some
measure subiect to them, and in all measure to pro-
mote their happiness, ceases.* It has been brought
as an allegation against the bard, whom an English-
num might be proud to name, that he was so seven,
a father, as to have compelleid his daughters, aftef
he was blind, to read aloud to him, for his sole plea-
sure, Greek and Ijatin authors, of which they did
not understand a word* Compelled his daughters ! !
What daughters must they be who need com§nUsion
in such a case ! !

The following is the description of a dauxhter
which I have somewhere met with : — " M. E. S. re-
ceived her unhappy existence at the price of her
mother's life, and at the age of seventeen she fol-
lowed, as the sole mourner, the bier of her remain-
ing parent. From her thirteenth year, she had
passed her life at her father's .sick bed, the gout
having deprived him of the use of his limbs; and
beheld the arch of heaven only when she went forth
to fetch food or medicines. The discharge of her
filial duties occupied the whole of her time and aU
her thoughts. She was his only nurse, and for the
last two years they lived without a servant. She
prepared his scanty meal, she bathed his aching
limbs, and, though weak and delicate from constant
confinement, and the poison of melancholy thoughts,
she had acquired an unusual power in her arms,
from the habit of lifting her old and sufi*ering father
out of and into his bed of pain. Thus passed away
her early youth in sorrow ; she grew up in tears, a
stranger to the amusements of youth, and its more
delightful schemes and imaginations. She was not,
however, unhappy ; she attributed no merit to her-
self for her virtues ; but for that reason were they
the more her reward. " The peace which passeth
all understanding," disclosed itself in aU her looks
and movements. It lay on her countenance like a
steady unshadowed moonlight; and her voice, which
was at once naturally sweet and subtile, came from
her like the fine flute tones of a masterl^ performer,
which still floating at some imcertain distance, seem
to be created by the player, rather than to proceed
from the instrument, tf you had listened to it in
one of those brief Sabbaths of the soul, when the
activity and discursiveness of the thoughts are su^
pended^ and the mind quietly eddies round instead
of flowing onward (as at late evening in the spring
I have seen a bat wheel in silent circles rouiid and
round a fruit tree in full blossom, in the midst of
which, as within a close tent of the purest white, an
unseen nightingale was piping its sweetest nt^)
in such a mood, you might have half fancied, half
felt, that her voice had a separate being of iteown
—that it was a living something whc«e mode of
existence was fbr the ear only : so deep was her re*

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sjgQaiioa, so eotirely had it become the habit of her
natare, and in all she did or said so perfectly were
her movements, -and her utterance without effort,
and withoat the appearance of effort. Her dying
fiuher*8 last words, addressed to the clergyman who
attended him, were his grateful testimony, that du-
ring his lon^ and sore trial, his good Maria had
behaved to him like an angel ; that the most disa-
greeable offices, and (he least suited to her age and
sex. had never drawn an unwilling look from her:
and that whenever his eye had met hers, he had
been sure to see in it either the tear of pity, or the
sudden smile expressive of her affection and wish
to cheer him. '* Grod," said he " will reward the
good girl for all her long dutifolness to me 1" He
departed during the inward prayer, which followed
these his last wordo. His wish will be fulfilled in
eternity I"

What daughter can read this and hot admire,
and, if need oe, imitate the conduct of Maria? —
Few are called to these self-denjring acts of filial
piety ; but who would not do all thejr conld to sweet-
en, AS far as may be, the drees of life to an aged
mother or a blind fisUher ? It has been observed
that a good daughter generally makes an exemplary
wife and mother.

SDmBibmr, when blended with a sound iudgmeni,
and guided i» its exercises by good sense amdprudence^
is a lovely ornament of the female character. By
Mnaibility, I mean a susceptibility of having emo-
tion excited by external objects ; a habit of mind, in
which the aflections are easily moved, by objects
calculated and worthy to produce feeling. Of
course, this is an evil or an exceUenu^ according as
it is united with other mental habits. An excess of
sensibility, is one of the most injurious ingredients
which can enter into the formation of chuttcter.—
Where it is united with a weak judgment, and a
wild imagination, it exposes its possessor to the
greatest possible dfangers, and opens in her own bo-
som a perpetual source of vexation, misery, and
self-torment. If we were to trace to their source
many of those quarrels which have alienated friends,
and made irreeoncileable enemies ; those mortifica-
tions of pride and vanity, which have ended in lu-
nacy ; those hasty and imprudent marriages which
have terminated in univ^sal wretchedness ; those
acts of profligacy, soicide, and even murder, which
have stained the annals of mankind ; we should
find the germ of all these mischiefs in an excess of
morbid sensibility. Feeling, like fire, is a good ser-
vant, but a bad master : a source of comfort and a
means of usefulness, if well governed ; but if left to
rage wiUiout control, an engine of dei<truction, and
a cause of misery. Every heart should have an
altar, on which this fire should be perpetually kept
burning, but then prudence should ever be on the
watch, lest it should consume the temple.

Young females are in imminent danger of being
led away by the representation, that an unfeeling
woman, though she be pure as a statue of Parian
marble, yet withal, if she be as cold, is a most un-
lovely character. This I admit, and therefore I
class a well-governed sensibility, amongst the deco-
rations of the female character. But. then, the ten-
dency of this remark is certainly mischievous, since,
according to the spirit in which it is usually both
made and received, it means, that an excess of feel-
ins:, rather adorns than injures the character. It
will be found, generally speaking, that ]roung people
rather force the growth, than check the luxuriance
of their feelings : which is just in the inverted order
of nature, since the affections generally grow with-
out culture, the judgment scared]^ ever. The voice
of flattery, also, is all on the side of feeling. A
warm-hearted girl carried away by her feeling,
and misled by a wild and ardent imagination, will

find many more admirers than the sensible, prudent,
and reserved one; and for this plain reason, because
there are more foo)s in the world than wise men.—
Follow out the history of the two characters. It is
the end that proves all.

Online LibraryArchibald ForbesThe Christian library: a weekly republication of popular religious ..., Volume 6 → online text (page 60 of 121)