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mente, instead of making them uie motive for
hurrying those who have acquired them into
crowds, in order for their most effecttial dis-
pUy.

Would not those delightful pursuits, botany
and drawing, for instance, seem likely to court
the fields, the woods, and gardens of the pater-
nal seat, as more congenial to their nature, and
more appropriate to their exercise, than barren
watering places, destitute of a tree, or an herb,
or a flower, and not affording an hour's interval
from successive pleasures, to profit by the scene,
even it abounded withihe whole vegetoble world,
from the *■ cedar of Lebanon to ue hyssop on
the wall'

From the mention of watering places, may
the author be allowed to suggest a few remarks
on the ev'iU which have arisen fVom the general
conspiracy of the gay to usurp the regions of
the sick ; and from their converting the health-
restoring fountains, meant as a refuge for dis-



ease, into the resorU of vanity for those who
have no jdisease but idleaeis 7

This inability of sUying at home, as it is one
of the most infallible, so it is one of the numi
dangeroas symptoms of the reigning mania. It
womd be more itolerable, did this epidemic ma-
lady break out only as fivmerly daring the win.
ter, or some one season.^— Heretofore, the tenan-
try and the poor, the natural dependante on the
rural mansions of the opulent, had some definite
period to which they might joyfully look fer-
ward fer the approadi of those patrons, part of
whose business in life it is to influence by their
presence, to instruct by their example, to sooth
by their kinkness, and to assist by their liberal-
ity, those whom Providence, ia the distribution
of human lots, has placed under their more im-
mediate protection. Though it would be far
from truth to assert, that dissipated people are
never charitable, yet I will venture to say that
dissipation is inconsistent with the $pirit of
chanty. That affecting precept fbllowod by so
mcious a promise, * Never turn away thy face
from any poor man, and then the face of the
Lord shall never be turned awa/ from thee,*
cannot literally mean that we should gix>e to all,
as then we should soon have nothing lefl to give:
but it seems to intimate the habitual attention,
the duty of inquiring oat all cases of distress,
in order to judge which are fit to be relieved ,
now fer this inquiry, fer this attention, for this
sympathy, the dissipated have little taste, and
less leisure. ^

Let a reasonable conjecture (fer calculaticii
would fail !) be made ofnow large a diminution
of the general good has been eflbcted in this
single respect by causes which, though they do
not seem important in themselves, yet make no
inconsiderable part of the mischief arising from
modern manners : and I sp^k now to persons
who itaend to be chariteble : what a cteductioo
will be made from the aggregate of charity by
a circumstance apparently trifling, when we
consider what would be the beneficial effecte of
that regular bounty which must almost unavoid-
ably result from the evening walks of a great*
and benevolent family among the cottages of
their own domain : tne thousand little acte of
comparatively unexpensive kindness whieh the
sight of petty wanto and difficulties would ex-
cite ; wante, which win scarcely be felt in the
relation; and which will probably be neither
seen, nor felt, nor feirly represented, in their
long absences, by an agent. And what is even
almost more than the good done, i« the habit of
mind kept up in those who do iL Would not
this habit, exercised on the Christian principle,
that • even a cup of cold water,* griven upon right
motit>e8t shall not lose ite reward ; while the giv-
ing * all their |roodB 'to feed the poor,\without
the true princtpie of charity, shall profit them
nothing ; would not this habit, I say, and the
inculcation of the spirit which prodoces it, be
almost the best part of the edacation of daugh-
ters.*

* Ii would be a pleasant Summer amnseilMnt fbr ear
youn^ ladies of fortune, if tbey were to prraide a^soeh
spinning feasts as are instituted at Nanebam for Um
mt)motion of virtue and indnstrvtin tbeir own sex.
Pleasurable anniversaries of this kind would serve to
combine in the n^nds of tbo poor two ideas which oagl*



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TOE WORKS OF HANNAH MORE.



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Transplant this wealthy and boontifol family
periodically, to the frivolous and uninteresting
bustle of the watering place ; there it is not de-
nied that frequent public and fashionable acts
of charity maj^ make a part (and it is well they
do) of the bu8^le88 and amusement of the day ;
with this latter, indeed, they are sometimes
good naturedly mixed up. Bat how shall we
compare the regular systematical good these
persons would be doing at their own home, with
the light, and amusing, and bustling bounties
of the public place T The illegal raiQe at the toy-
shop, may relieve, it b true, seme distress ; but
this distress, though it mar be real, and if real
it ought to be relieved, is iar less easily ascer-
tain^ than the wants of the poor round a per-
son's own neighbourhood, or the debts of a dis-
tressed tenant How shall we compare the broad
stream of bounty which should be flowing
through, and refreshing whole districts ; with
the penurious current of the subscription break-
fast fix the needy musician, in which the price
of the gift is taken out in the diversion, and in
which pleasure dignifies itself with the name of
bountj 7 How shall we compare the attention,
and time, and zeal, which would otherwise, per-
hape, be devoted to the village school, spent in
hawking about benefit tickets for a broken play-
er, while the kindness of the benefactress, per-
haps, is rewarded by scenes in which her oha-
ritv is not always repaid by the purity of the
exhibition.

Far be it firom the author to wish to check
the fall tide of charity wherever it is disposed to
flow! Would she could multiply the already
abundant streams, and behold every source pu-
rified ! But in the public resorts there are many-
who are able and willing to give. In the seques-
tered, though populous village, there is, perhaps,
3nly one affluent family: the distress which
they do not behold wiU probably not be attended
to : the distress which they do not relieve will
probably not be relieved at all: the wrongs
which ih^ do not redress will go unredressed :
the oppressei whom they do not rescue will sink
nnder the tyranny of the oppressor.^ — ^Through
their own rural domains too, charity runs in a
clearer current, and b under less suspicion of
being polluted by that muddy tincture which it
IS sometimes apt to contract in passing through
the impure soil of the world.

But to return from this too long digression.
Tie old standing objection formerly brought
forward by the prejudices of the other sex, and
too eagerly laid hold on as a shelter for indo-
lence and ignorance by ours, was, that intellec-
tual accomplishments too much absorbed the
thoughts and affections, took women off from
the necessary attention to domestic duties, and
superinduced a contempt or neglect of whatever
was useful It is peculiarly the character of the
pMsent day to detect absurd opinions, and ex-

MVtr to be ssperatad, bat wUeh fJbey are not rery for-
i*a.id to onite-tbat the neat wish U to make tbem JUff^
IS well at ffood. Oeeauonal approximations of the rich
and poor, for the porposea of reliefand instruction, and
aaaual meetings fbr the purpose of inaoeent ptoairare,
woold do moeh towards wearing away diseontont, and
ibe conviction that the rich really take an interest in
thoir comfort, wonld eontribnte to reconcile the lower
claas to that state in whieh it baa pleased God to place



pose plausible -theories by the simple and deci-
sive answer of experiment ; and it b presumed
that thb popular error, as well as others, is daily
receiving the refiitation of actual experbnce.
For it cannot surely be maintained on ground
that b any longer tenable, that acquirements
truly rational are celculated to draw oQ the
mind from real duties. Whatever removes pre-
judices, whatever stimulates industry, whatever
rectifies the judgment, whatever corrects self-
conceit, whatever purifies the taste, and raises
the understanding, will be likely to contribute
to moral excellence : to woman moral excellence
is the grand object of education : and of moral
excellence, domestic life iis to woman the proper
sphere.

Count over the list of females who have made
shipwreck of their fame and virtue, and have
furnished the most lamentable examples of the
dereliction of family duties ; and the number
will not be found considerable who have been
led astray by the pursuit of knowledge. And
if a §ew deplorable instances of this kind hb pro-
duced, it will commonly be found that there was
little infusion in the minds of such women of
that correcting principle without which all other
knowledge only * pu£^th up.*

The time nightly expended in bte female vi-
gib b expended by the light of far other lamps
than those which are fed by the students oil *
and if families are to be found who are neglect-
ed through too much study in the mbtress, it
will probably be proved to be Hoyle and not
Homer, who has robbed her children of her
time and affections. For one family which has
been neglected by the Bother^s passion for
books, an hundred have been deserted through
her passion for pby. The husband of a fashion-
able woman will not oflen find that the library
b the apartment the expenses of which involve
him in debt or dbgrace. And for one literary
slattern, who now manifests her indifference to
her husband by the neglect of her person, there
are scores of elegant spendthrifts who riuh theirs
by excess of decoration.

May I digress a little while I remark, that I
am far from asserting that literature has never
filled women with vanity and self-conceit : the
contrary b too obvious : and it happens in this
as in other cases, that a few characters conspi-
cuouslv absurd, have served to bring a whole
order mto ridicule. But I will assert, that in
general those whom books are supposed to have
spoiled, would have been spoiled in another way
without them. She who is a vain pedant hi-
cause she has read much, has probably that de-
fect in her mind which would have made her a
vain ffwl if she had read nothing. It is not her
having more knowledge, but less sense, which
makes her insuffsrabb: and ignorance would
have added little to her value, for it b not what
she has, but what she wants, which makes her
unpleasant The truth, however, probably lies
here, that whib her understanding was improv-
ed, the tempers of her heart were neglected, and
that in cultivating the fame of a iavante^ she
lost the humility of a Chrbtian. But these in.
stances too furnish only a fresh argument for
the general cultivation of the female mind. The
wider diffusion of sound knowbdge, would re



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THE WORSS OF HANXAH HOft^



more that temptation Uk be Tain which maj be
excited bj ita rarity.

From the anloa of an nnfamiabed mind and
a cold heart there reanlts a kind of neoeasity ibr
diiaipation. The very term gives an idea of
mental imbecility. That which a wc^Ung and
fatigued mind reqnirea ia rdaxation; it reqnires
•omethin^ to unbend itielf ; to slacken ita effbrta,
to relieve it from ita exertions ; while amusement
tfl the bmtinem of feeble minds, and is carried on
with a length and seriousness incompatible with
the refreshing idea of relaxation. There is
scarcely any one thing which comes under the
deecription of public amusement, which does not
fill the space cf three or four hours nightly. Is
not that a large proportion of refreshment lor a
mind, which, generally speaking, has been kept
so many hours together on the stretch in the
morning, by business, by study, by devotion 7

But while we would assert that a woman of a
cultivated intellect is not driven by the same ne-
cessity *B Others into the giddy whirl of public
resort ; who but regrets that real cultivation does
not tnmtoUy preserve her fh>m it ? No wonder
that inanity of character, that vacuity of mind,
that torpid ignorance, should plcmge into dissi.
pation as their natural refuge ; should seek to
buiT their insignificance in the crowd of pressing
multitudes, and hope to escape analysu and de-
tection in the undistinguished mass of mixed as'
aemblies ! JTtere attrition rubs all bodies smooth,
and makes all surfaces alike ! thither superficial
and external accomplishments naturally fly as
to their proper scene of action ; as to a field
where competition inmieh perfections is in per-
petual exercise ; where the laurels of admiration
are to be won ; whence the trophies of vanity
mav be carried off tritunpbantly.

It would indeed be matter of little comparative
regret, if this corrupt air were breathed only by
those whose natural element it seems to be ; but
who can forbear lamenting that the power of
fiuhion attracte into this impure and unwhole-
some atmosphere, minds also of a better moke,
of higher aims and ends, of more ethereal tem-
per 7 that it attracte even those who, renouncing
enjoymente for which they have a genuine taste,
and which would make them really happy, ne-
|lect society they love and pursuite they admire.
B order that they may teem happy and be fa-
ehionable in the chase of pleasures they despise.
Bid in company they disapprove ! But no cor-
rectness of taste, no depth of knowledge, will in-
fallibly preserve a woman firom this contagion,
unless her heart be impressed with a deep Chris-
tian conviction that she is accounteble for the
application of time. Perhaps if there be any one
principle which ^ should more sedulously than
another be worked into the youthful mind, it
is the doctrine of particular as well as general
respoDsibility.

The contagion of di&sipated manners is so deep,
so wide, and fatal, that if I were called upon to
aasiffu the predominant cause of the greater part
of the misfortunes and oarruptions of the great
and gay in our days, I should not look tor it
|n>incipaUy in any obviously great or striking
circumstance : not in the practice of notorious
Tices, not originally in the dereliction of Chris-
tian principle ; but I should without hesitetion



ascribe it to a growing, regular, systematic i
of amnsemente : tn an inceaaant, boundless, aa4
not very disreputable DissirATioir. Other cor
ruptions, though more fimnidable in appearance
are yet less fatel in some respec ts , because they
leave us intervals to reflect on their tnrpitode
and i^irit to lament their ejccesaes : but diasipa.
tion n the more hopeless, as by engroastnr at
most the entire life, and enervating the wliok
moral and intellectual system, it leaves neither
time for reflection, nor qwce for sel^examina
tion, nor temper for the cfaeriahing of right aflec-
tions, nor leisure for the operatioo on sound
principles, nor interval for regret, nor vigour to
resist tempCation, nor energy to strogi^ for
amendment.

The great master of the science of pleasure
among the ancients, who reduced it into a sys-
tem which he called the cAirf gimd of wtmn^ di-
rected that there should be interval enough be-
tween the succession of delighte to sharpen in-
clination ; and accordingly instituted periodical
days of abstinence ; weH knowing that ffratifiea-
tion was best promoted by prevums sdfdenkl.
, But so little do our votaries of fashion understand
the true nature of pleasure, that one amusement
is allowed to overtake another without any in-
terval, either for recollection of the past or pre.
paration for the fhture. Even on their own seifisb
principle, therefi>re, nothing can be woree under-
stood than this continuity of enjoyment : for to
such a degree of labour is the pursuit carried,
that the pleasures exhaust instead of exhilara-
ting, and the recreations require to be rested
from.

For, not to argue the question on the ground
of relirion, but merely on that of present enjoy-
ment look abroad and see who are the people that
eomplain of weariness, listlessness and dejection.
You will not find them among the class of such
as are overdone with work, but with pleasure.
The natural and healthful fttigues o£ businees
may be recruited by simple and cheap gratifica-
tions : but a spirit worn down with the toils of
amusement, rsquires pleasures, o^ poignancy,
varied, multiplied, stimulating.

It has been obaorved bj medical writers, that
that sober excess in which many indulge, by
eating and drinking a little too mueh at every
day's dinner and every night's suppe^ more ef-
fectually undermines tne health, than those more
rare excesses by which others now and then
break in upon a life of general sobriety. This
illustration is not introduced with adesign to re-
commend occasional deviationa into gross vice,
by way of a pious receipt for mendii^r the mo-
rals ; but merely to suggest that there b a pro-
bability that those who are sometimes driven by
unresisted passbn into irregularities which shoes
their cooler reason, are more liable to be roused
to a sense of their dinger, than persons whose
perceptions of evil are blunted through a Mund
of systematical unceasing and yet not seandalona
dissipation. And when I affirm that tfala system
of regular indulgence relaxes the soul, enslavea
the heart, bewitohes the senses, and thus dis-
qualifies fi>r pious thought or useful action, with-
out having any thing in it so gross aa to shock
the conscience ; and when I hazard an opinios^
that this stete is more formidable, becai«e lena



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389



i«Annmgf, than that wfaioh bears upon it a^jnore
determined character of evil, I no more mean to
speak uf the latter in sliffht and |>alliatin^ terms,
than I would intimate, oecause the sick some*
times recover ftom a fever, but seldom firom a
palsy, that a ftffer is therefore a safe or a healthy
sUte.

Bat there seems to be an error in the first con-
ooction, oat of which the sabseqaent errors sac-
cessively grow. First then, as has been obser-
ved before, the showy education of women tends
chiefly to qualify them for the gflare of public
assemblies: secondly, they seem in many in-
stances to be so educated, with a view to the
greater probability oTtheir being splendidly mar-
ried ; thirdly, it is alleged in vindication of those
dissipated practices, that daughters can only be
seen, and admirers, procured at balls, operas,
and assemblies : and that therefore by a natural
and necessary consequence, balls, operas, and
assemblies must be followed up without inter-
mission tin the object be effected. For the ac-
complishment of this object it is that all this com-
plicated machinery had been previously set a
going, and kept in motion with an activity not
at all slackened by the disordered state of the
system j; for some machines, instead of being
stopped, go faster because the main spring is out
of order ; the only difference being that Uiey go
wrong, and so the increased rapidity adds only
to the quantity of error.

It is also, as we have already remarked, an
error to fancy that the love of pleasure exhausts
itself by indulgence, and that the very young
are chiefly addicted to it The contrary appears
Cu be true. The desire oHen grows with the
pursuit in the same degree as motion is quick-
ened by tie continuance of the gravitating force.
First then it cannot be thought unfair to trace
back the excessive fondness for amusement to
that mode of education we have elsewhere repro-
bated. Few of the accomplishments, falsely so
called, assist the developement of the faculties :
they do not exercise the judgment, nor bring in-
fo action those powers which fit the heart and
mind for tlie occupations of Ufe ; they do not pre-
pare women to love home, to understand its oc-
cupations, to enliven its unifbrmity, to fulfU its
duties, (o multiply its comforts: they do not
lead to that sort of experimental logic, If I may
00 speak, compounded of observation and u "
tion, which makes up the moral science oi life
and manners. Talents which .have diniay for
their object despise the narrow stage of^home !
they demand mankind for their spectators, and
the world for their theatre.

While we cannot help shrinking a little firom
the idea of a delicate young creature, lovely in
person, and enraging in mind and manners, sa-
erificing nightfy at the public shrine of Fashion,
at once the votary and the victim ; we cannot
help figuring to onrsdves how much more in-
teresting she would appear in the eyes of a man
if sense and fbeling, did he behold her in the
more endearing situation of domestic lifb. And
who can forbcMir wishmg, that the good sense,
good taste, and delicacy oif the men had rather
led them to prefer seeking companions for life
b the almost sacred quiet of a virtuous home 7
T%er$ they might hav<> had the means of seeing



and admiring those amiable beings, in the best
point of view ; there they might have been ena-
bled to form a juster estimate of female worth,
than is likely to be obtained in the scenes where
such qualities and talents as might be expected
to add to the stock of domestic comfort must ne-
cessarily be kept in the back ground, and where
such only can be brought into view as are not
particularly calculated to insure the certainty of
home delights.

O! did tbey keep their persons fkesh aad new.
How would they plnck allegiance ttom men*! tiearts.
And win by rarenen f

But by what unaccountable infatuation is it
that men too, even men of understanding, join
in the confederacy^ against their own happiness,
by looking for their home companions in the re-
sorts of vanity ? Why do not such men rise su-
perior to the illusions of ^hion 7 Why do they
not uniformly seek her who is to preside in their
families in the bosom of her own 7 in the prac-
tice of every domestic duty, in the exercise of
every amiable virtue, in the exertion of every
elegant accomplishment 7 those accomplishments
of which we have been reprobating, not the pos-
session, but the application 7 llere they would
find her exerting them to their true end ; to en
liven business, to animate retirement, to embel.
lish the charming scene of fhmily delights, t«
heighten the interesting pleasures of social in*
tercourse, #id rising in lust gradation to theit
noblest object, to adorn the doctrine of God hei
Saviour.

If, indeed, women were mere outtfUe, form
and face only, and if mind made up no part of
her composition, it would- follow that a ball-room
was qjiite as appropriate a place for choosing a
wife, as an exhibition room for choosing a pic-
ture. But, inasmuch as women are not mere
portraits, their value not being determinable by a
glance of the eye, it follows that a different mode
of appreciating their value, and a different place
for viewing them antecedent to their being in-
dividually selected, is de|irable. The two cases
differ also in this, that if a man sdect a picture
for himself from amon^ all its exhibited compe-
titors, and bring it to his own house, the picture
being oassive, he is able to Jis it there : whik
the wife, picked up at a pubUo place, and accus-
tomed to incessant display, will not, it is proba-
ble, when brought home, stick so quietly to the
spci where he fixes her, but will escape to the
exhibition-room again, and continue to be dis-
played at every subsequent exhibition, just as if
she were not become private property, and had
never been definitely disposed o£

It is the novelty of a thing which astonishes
us, and not its absurdity , objects may be so long
kept before the eye that it begins no longer to
observe them; or may be brought into such
close contact with it, that it does not discern
them. Long habit so reconciles us to almost sjiy
thing, that the grossest improprieties cease to
strike us when they once make a part of the
common course of action. This, by the way, is
a strong reason fi>r carefully sifting every opi-
nion and every practice before we let them in-
corporate into the mass of our habits, for after
that time they will be no more examined. — ^Woold
it not be accounted preposterous for a young



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390



TfiE WORKS OF HAimAH MORE.



man to say he had fancied such a lady would
dance a better minuet becaoBe he had seen her
behave devoutly at church, and thenfere had
chosen her for hie partner 7 and yet he is jnot
thought at ail absurd when he intimates that he
^ose a partner for lifb because he was pleased



Online LibraryHannah MoreThe complete works of Hannah More → online text (page 93 of 135)