Hannah More.

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people can do» who have oast off the fear of ' "
Thee, do Thou graciously bring them back to a
sense of that law which they have violated, and
to a participation of that mercy which they have



the discovery can be attended witli hope an
consolation, that daubile»9 there is a reward f 9
the righteous ; verUy^ there i$ a Qod who judgeK.
thooarlh.



STRICTURES

ON THE MODERN SYSTEM OF FEMALE EDUCATION

WITH A TXSW or THX PEINOIFLIS Uf D OONDUOT nCVALKMT AMOIia WOMXIf OV EA18X AND fOKTVNB^

May yoo so raise yoor character that yon may help to make the next age a better thing, and
leave posterity in your debt, for the advantage it shall receive by your eiample^— JLorif Balifat



Domestio happiness, thou only bliss
Of Paradise that has survived the Fall !
Thon art not known where Plbasuri is ador'd.
That reeling goddess with the zoneless waist
Forsaking thee, what shipwreck have we made
Of honour, dignity, and fidr renown ! — Coisper.



INTRODTOTION.

It is a singular injustice which is often exercised towards women, first to give them a very
iefectxre education, and then to expect from them the most undeviating purity of conduct — to
train them in such a manner as shall lay them open to the most dangerous fiiults, and then to
eensure them for not proving faultless. Is it not unreasonable and unjust to express disappoint-
nient if our daughters should, in their subsequent lives, turn out precisely that very kind of
character for which it would be evident to an unprejudiced by-stander that the whole scope and
tenor of their instruction had been systematically preparing them T

Some reflections on the present erroneous system are here with great deforenoe submitted to
public consideration. The author is apprehensive that she shall be accused of betraying the
mterests of her sex by laying open their defects : but surely an earnest wish to turn their attention
to objects calculated to promote their true dignity, is not the office of an enemy. So to expose
the weakness ofthe land as to suggest the necessity of internal improvement, and to point out
the means of eflectual defence, is not treachery, but patriotism.

Again, it may be objected to this little work, that many errors are here ascribed to women
which by no means belongs to them excbuively, and that it seems to confine to the sex those faults
which are common to the species: but this is in some measure unavoidable. In speaking on the
qualities of one sex, the moralist is somewhat in the situation of the geographer, who is treating
00 the nature of one country : the air, soil, and produce of the land whieh he is describing, can-
not fail in many essential points to resemble those of other countries under the same parallel ; yet
it is his business to descant on the one without adveiting to the other ; and though in drawing the
map he may happen to introduce some ofthe neighbouring coast, yet his principal attention roust
be confined to that country which he proposes to describe, without taking into account the resem-
bling circumstances ofthe adjacent shores.

It may be also objected that the ofHnion here suggested on the state of manners among the
higher classes of our countrywomen, may seem to controvert the just eneomiums of modern
travellers, who generally concur in ascribing a decided superiority to the ladies of this country
over those of every other. But such is, in general, the state of foreign manners, that the com-
parative praise is almost an injury to English women. To be flattered for excelling those whose
standard of exoellenoe is very low, is but a degrading kind of commendation; for the value of all
praise derived firom superiority, depends on the worth of the competitor. The character of
British ladies, with all the unparalleled advantages they possess, must never be determined by
eomparison with the women of other nations, but by comparing them with what they themselves
might be if an Uieir talents and unrivalled opportunities were turned to the best account

Again, it may be said, that the author is less disposed to expatiate on excellence than error : but
the office ofthe historian of human manners is delineation rather than panegyhc. Were the end
m view eulogium and not improvement, eulogium would have been far more gratifying, nor
would just objects for praise have been difficult to find. Even in her own limited sphere of oh.
servation, the author is acquainted with much excellence in the class of which she treats — with
women who, possessing learning which would be thought extensive in the other sex, set an ex-
mmjrie of deep humility to their own — women who, distinguished for wit and genius, are eminen*



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312 THE WORKS OF HANNAH MORE.

for dumestic qtntl ties — ^who, exceHiog> in the fine arts, have carefully enriched their understand-
in|rs — who, onjoymg great influence, devote it to the glory of God— who, poesessing elevated rank,
thmk their noblest style and title is that of a Christian.

That there is also much worth which is little known, she is persuaded ; for it is the modest
nature of goodness to exert itself quietly, while a few characters of the opposite cast seem, by the
rumour of their exploits, to fill the world ; and by their noise to multiply their numbers. It oflei«
happens that a very small party of people, by occupying the foreground, by seizing the public
attention and monopolizing the public talk, contrive to appear to be the great body : a fbw active
spirits, provided their activity take the wrong turn, and support the wrong cause, seem to fill the
scene ; and a few disturbers of order, who have the talent of thus excitin? a false idea of their
multitudes by their mischiefs, actually gain strength, and swell their numbers, by this fallacious
arithmetic

But the present work is no more intended for a panegyric on those purer characters who seek
not human praise because they act from a higher motive, than for a satire on the avowedly
licentious, who, ur^ed by the impulse of the moment, resist no inclination ; and led away by the
love of fashion, dislike- no censure, so it may serve to rescue them from neglect or oblivioB.

There are, however, multitudes of the young and the well disposed, who have as yet taken no
decided part, who are just launching on the oeean of life, jhst about to lose their own right con-
victbns, virtually preparing to counteract their better propensities, and unreluctantly yielding
themselves to be carried down the tide of popular practices r sanguine, tlhooghtless, and confident
of safety. — To these the author would gently hint, that when once embarked, it will be no longer
easy to say to their passions, or even to their principles, * Thus far shall ye go, and no further.'
Their struggles will grow fainter, their resistance will become feebler, till borne down by the con-
fluenoe of example, temptation, appetite, and habit, resistance and opposition will soon be the only
things of which thy will learn to be ashamed.

Should any reader revolt at what is conceived to be unwarranted strictress in this little book,
let it not be thrown by in disgust before the following short consideration be weighed. — If in this
christian country we are actually beginning to regard the solemn office of Baptism .as merely
furnishing an article to the parish register — if we are learning from our indefatigable teachers,
to consider this Christian rite as a leffal ceremony retained for the sole purpose of recording the

Sf€ of our children ; — 4hen, indeed, the prevaling system of education and manners of which
eae pagres presume to animadvert may be adopted with propriety, and persisted in with safety,
without entailing on our cHildren or on ourselves the peril of broken promises or the guilt of vio-
lated vows — But, if the obligation which chrbtian Baptism imposes be really binding — if the or-
di nance have, indeed, a meaning beyond a mere secular transaction, beyond a record of names
and dates — if it be an institution by w4iich the child is solemnly devoted to God as his Father, to
Jesus Christ as his Saviour, and to the Holy Spirit as his sanctifier ; if there be no definite period
assigned when the obligation of fulfill'mg the duties it enjoins shall be superseded — if, having
once dedicated our offspring to their Creator, we no longer dare to mock Him by bringing them up
in ignorance of His will and neglect of His laws — if, after having enlisted them under the banners
of Christ, to fight manfully against the three great enemies of mankind, we are no longer at liberty
to let them lap^ down their arms ; much less to lead them to act as if they were in alliance, instead
of hostility with these enemies — ^if, after having promised that they shall renounce the vanities
of the world, we are not allowed to invalidate the engagement — i^ afler such a covenant we
should tremble to make these renounced vanities, the supreme object of our own pursuit or of
their instruction — if all this be reallji so, then the Strictures on Modem Education, and on the
Habits of Polished Life, will not be found so repugnant to truth, and reason, and oomroon sense,
as may on a first view be supposed.

But if on candidly summing up the evidence, the design and scope of the author be fairly
judged, not by the customs or opinions of the worldly (for every English subject has a right to
obiect to a suspected or prejudiced jury) but by an appeal to that divine law which is the only in-
fallible rule of judgment ; if on such an appeal her views and pinciples shall be found censurable
for their rigour, absurd in their rec^uisitions, or preposterous m their restrictions, she will have
no right to complain of such a verdict, because she will then stand condemned by that court tc
whose decision she implicitly submits.

Let it not be suspected that the author arrogantly conoeifes henelf to be exempt fVom that
natural corruption of the heart which it is one chief object of this slight work to exhibit ; that
she superciliously erects herself into the implacable censor of her sex and of the world , as if from
the critic*s chair she were coldly pointing out the faults and errors of another order of beings, in
whose welfare she had not that lively interest which can only flow firom the tender and intimate
participation of fellow-feeling.

With a deep self-abasement, arising from a strong conviction of being indeed a partaker in the
same corrupt nature; tojrether with a full persuasion of the many and pe^i defects of these
pages, and a sincere consciousnesd of her inability to do justice to a subject which, hewever, a
sense of duty impelled her to undertake, she commits herself to the candour of that public, which
has ao frequently, in her instance, accepted a right intention as a substitute for a powerful oer
rormance.

Bath, March 14, 1799.



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THE WORKS OF HANNAH MORE.



3/3



STRICTURES

ON THE MODERN SYSTEM OF FEMALE EDUCATION.



CHAP. I.

Addrt98 to wmnen of rank and fortune^ on the
effects of their influence on society. — Sugges-
tions for the exertion of it in various instances.

Among the talents for the application of which
women of the higher class will be peculiarly
accountable, there is one, the importance of
which the^ can scarcely rate too highly. This
talent is induence. VVe read of Uie greatest
orator of antiquity, that the wisest plans which
it had cost him years to frame, a woman could
overturn in a single day ; and when we consider
the variety of mischiefs which an ill-directed
influence has been known to produce, we are led
to reflect with the most sanguine hope on the
beneficial efiects to be expected from the same
powerful force when exerted in its true direc-
tion.

The general state of civilized society depends,
more than those are aware who are not accus-
tomed to scrutinize into the springs of human
action, on the prevailing sentiments and habits
of women, and on the nature and degree of the
estimation in which they are held. Even those
who admit the power of female elegance on the
manners of men, do not always attend to the in.
fluence of female principles on their character.
In the former case, indeed, women are apt to be
■ufliciently conscious of their power, and not
backward in turning it to account But there
are nobler objects to be effected by the exertion
of their powers, and unfortunately, ladies, who
are oflen uhreasonably confident where they
oogbt to be diffident, are sometimes capriciously
diffident just when they onght to feel where
their true importance lies ; and feeling to exert
it To use their boasted power over mankind
to no higher purpose than the gratification of
vanity or the mdnlfence of pleasure, is the de-
grading'triumph ofthoee fair victims to luxury,
caprice, and despotism, whom the laws and the
religion of the voluptuous prophet of Arabia' ex-
elude from light, and liberty, and knowledge :
and it is bumbling to reflect, that in those coun-
tries in which fondness for the mere persons of
women is carrledlo the highest excess, they are
slaves; and that their moral and intellectnal
degradation increases in direct proportion to
the adoration which is paid to mere external
charms.

But I turn to the bright reverse of this morti-
fttng scene ; to a country where our sox enjoys
the blessings of liberal instruction, of reasonable
laws, of a pore religion, and all the endearing
pleasures of an equal, social, virtuous, and de.
iightful intercourse. I torn, with an earnest
hope, that women thus richly endowed with the
bounties of Providence, wiU not content them,
selves witli po1ishin|r when they are able to re-
Ibrm ; with entertaining when they may awaken ;
and with captivating for a day, when they may
bring into action powers of which the effects
fiay be commensurate with eternity.

Vou I.



In this moment of alarm and peril, I would
call on them with a * warning voice,* which
should stir up every latent principle in their
minds, and kindle every slumbering energy in
their hearts : I would call on them to come for-
ward, and contribute their full and fiiir propor.
tion towards the saving of their country. B6t I
would call on them to come forward, without
departing from the refinement of their character,
without derogating from the dignity of their
rank, without blemishing the delicacy of their
sex ; I would call them to the best and most ap.
propriate exertion of their power, to raise the
depressed tone of public morals, and to awaken
the drowsy spirit of religious principle. They
know too well how arbitrarily Uiey give the law
to manners, and with how despotic a sway they
fix the standard of fashion. But this is not
enough ; this is a low mark, a prize not worthy
of their high and holy calling. For, on the use
which women of the superior class may now be
disposed to make of that power delegated to
them by the courtesy of custom, by the honest
gallantry of the heart, by the imperious control
of virtuous affections, by the habits of civilized
states, by the usages of polished society ; on the
use, I say, which they shall hereafler make of
this influence, will depend, in no low degree,
the welUbeing ofthoee states, and the virtue and
happiness, nay perhap» the very existence, of
that society.

At this period when our country can only hope
to stand by opposing a bold and noble unammity
to the most tremendous confederacies against
reliffion, and order, and governments, which the
world ever saw, what an accession would it
bring to the public strength, could we prevail on
beauty, and rank, and Udents, and virtue, con-
federating their several powers, to exert them,
selves with a patriotism at once firm and femi-
nine, for the general gooJ ! I am not sounding
an alarm to female warriors, or exciting female
politicians : I hardly know which (^ the two is
the most disgusting and unnatural character.
Propriety is to a woman what the great Roman
critic says action is to an orator ; it is the first,
the second, the third requisite. A woman may
be knowing, active, witty and amusing; but with-
out propriety ahk cannot be amiable. Propriety
is the centre in which all the lines of duty and
of agreeableness meet It is to character what
proportion is to figure, and grace to attitude. It
does not depend on any one perfection, but it is
the result of general excellence. It shows itself
by a regular, orderly, undeviating course ; and
never starts fVom its sober orbit into any splen-
did eccentricities ; for it would be ashamed of
such praise as it might extort by any deviations
from its proper path. It renounces all common,
dation but what is characteristic ; and I would
make it the criterion of true taste, right princi.
pie, and. genuine feeling, in a woman, whether
she would be less touched with all the flattery
of romantic and exaggerated panegyric than



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THE WORKS OF HANNAH MORE.



with that beautiftil pictare of correct and elegant
propriety which Milton draws of oar first mo-
ther, when he delineates

* Those thousand dsetmeUt wUch daily flow
From all her words and actiona*

Even the influence of religion is to be exer-
cised with discretioii. A female Polemic wan-
ders nearly as finr fVom the limits prescribed
to her seZf^as a female Machiavel or warlike
Thalestris. Fierceness has made almost as few
converts as the sword, and both are pecoliarly
nngracefol in a female. Even religioiu violence
has human tempers of its own to indalge, and
is gratifying itself when it would be thought to
be serf ing Uod. Let not the bigot place her
natural passions to the account of Christianity,
or imagine she is pious when she is only pas-
sionate. Let her bear in mind that a Christian
doctrine is always to be defended with a Chris-
tian spirit, and not make herself amends by the
stoutness of her orthodoxy for the badness of
ner temper. Many, because they defend a reli-
gious opinion with pertinacity, seem to fancy
that they thereby acquire a kind of right to
withhold the meekness and obedience which
should be necessarily involved in the principle.

But the character of a consistent Christian is
as carefully to be maintained as that of a fiery
dbputant is to be avoided ; and she who is afi^id
to avow her principles, or ashamed to defend
them, has little claim to that honourable title.
A profligate who laughs at the most sacred in-
stitutions and keeps out of the way of every
thing which comes under the appearance of for-
mtl instruction, may be disconcerted by the
modest, but spirited rebuke of a delicate woman,
whose life adorns the doctrines which her con-
versation defends : but she who administers re-
proof with ill-breeding, defeats the effect of her
remedy. On the other hand, there is a dishonest
way of labouring to conciliate the favour of a
whole company, though of characters and prin-
ciples irreconcilably opposite. The words may
be so gturded as not to shock the believer, while
the eye and voice may be so accommodated, as
not to discourage the infidel She who, with a
half-earnestness trims between the truth and the
fashion ; who white she thinks it creditable to
defend the cause of reli^n, yet does it in a
faint tone, a studied ambiguity of phrase, and a
certain expression in her countenance, which
proves that she is not displeased with what she
affects to censure, or that she is afraid to lose
her reputation for wit, in proportion as she ad-
vances her credit for piety, injures the cause
more than he who attacked it, for she proves
either that she does not believe what she pro-
fesses, or that she does not reverence what fear
compels her to believe. But this is not all : she
is called on, not barely to repress impiety, but
to excite, to encourage, and to cherish every
tendency to serious religion.

Some of the occasions of contributing to the
general good which are daily presenting them*
selves to ladies are almost too minute to be
pointed oat Yet of the good which right mind-
ed women, anxiously watching these minute oc-
casions, and adroitly seizing them, might ac-
oomplish wc may form some idea by the ill



effects which we actually see produced, through
the mere levity, carelessness, and inattention
(to say no worse) of some of those ladies who
are looked up to as standards in the fiufhionable
world.

I am persuaded if many a woman of fkshion,
who h now dis^minating unintended mischief,
under the dangerous notion that there is no
harm in any thing short of positive vice, and
under the false colours of that indolent humilitv,
' what good can I do?* could be brought to see m
its collected force the annual aggregate of the
random evil she is daily doing, by constantly
throwing a little casual weight into the wrong
scale, by a mere inconsiderate and ungaarded
chat, she would start from her self-complacent
dream. If she could conceive how much she
may be diminishing the good impressions of
young men; and if she ooY^d imagine how little
amiable levity or irreligion makes her appear in
the eyes of those who are older and abler (how.
ever loose their own principles may be) she
would correct herself in the first instance, from
pure good nature; and in the second, fit>m ^
worldly prudence and mere self-love. — But on
how much higher principles would she restrain
herself, if she habitually took into account tbc
important doctrine of consequences : and if sbe
reflected that the lesser but more habitual cor-
ruptions make up by their number, what they
may seem to come short of by their weight :
then perhaps she would find, that amon? the
higher class of women, incmmderation is adding
more to the daily quantity of evil than almost aU
other causes put together.

There is an instrument of inconceivable force,
when it is employed against the interest of
Christianity : it is not reasoning, for that may
be answered ; it is not learning, for luckily tlie
infidel is not seldom ignorant ; it is not invec-
tive, fi>r we leave so coarse an engine to the
hands of the vulgar ; it is not evidence, for hap-
pily we have that all on our side : it is aimcuLX,
the most deadly weapon In the whole arsenal of
impiety, and which becomes an almost unerrbg
shaft when directed by a fkir and fashionable
hand. No maxim has been more readily adopt-
ed, or is more intrinsically false, than that which
the fascinating eloquence of a noble seeptic of
the last age contrived to render so popular, that
* ridicule is the test of truth.** It is no test of
truth itself; but of their firmness who assert
the cause of truth, it is indeed a severe test
This light, keen, missile weapon, the irresolaia,
unconu'oied Christian will find it harder to
withstand, than the whole heavy artillery of in- .
fidelity united.

A young man of the better sort, has perhaps
just entered upon the world, with a certain share
of good dispositions and right feelings ; neither
ignorant of the evidences, nor destitute if the
principles of Christianity : without paxtins with
his respect for religion, he sets out with the too
natural wish of making himself a repatatioo
and of standing well with the fashionable part
of the female world. He preserves for a time a
horror of vice, which makes it not difficult for
him to resist the grosser corruptions of society ;
he can as yet repel profkneness ; nay he cas
* T/>rd Sbaftetbory'



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THE WORKS OF HANNAH MORE.







withstand the banker of a club. He has sense
enough to see through the miserable fallacies
of the new philosophy, and spirit enough to ex-
pose it4 malignity. So far he does well, and
jou are ready to congratulate him on his secu-
rity. You are mistaken : the principles of the
ardent, and hitherto promising adventurer, are
shaken, just in that very society where, while
he was looking for pleasure, he doubted not of
safety. In the company of certain women of
good fashion and no ill fame, he makes ship-
wreck of his religion. He sees them treat with
levity or derision subjects which he has been
ased to hear named with respect. He could
confute an argument, he could unravel a so-
phistry ; but he cannot stand a laugh* A sneer,
not at the truth of religion, for that perhaps is
by none of the party disbelieved, but ai its
gravity, its unseasonableness, its dulness, puts
all his resolution to flight He feels his mis-
take, and struggles to recover his credit ; in or-
der to which he adopts the gay affectations
of trying to seem worse than he really is ; he
goes on to say things which he does not believe,
and to deny things which he does believe ; and



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