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to rouse and to elevate human aims and energies must be founded on this knowledge. The preacher, reproving the vices, and exciting the hopes of man, appeals to these principles; founded on them, the orator's burning words find their way to the heart, stirring or swaying the fierce passions of the multitude; on them the legislator grounds his endeavors to amelio rate the condition of mankind; to them the historian refers to find the key to the revolutions of empires, to the progress and decay of nations; while the poet and the painter, in every exertion of their art to excite emotion or kindle imagination, appeal to them, no less than the philosopher in his deepest specu lation on the laws of Providence or the nature of society.
But to none is this knowledge more indispensable than to mothers in the education of their children; and it is this consideration which makes it so imperatively necessary to women. Poets, orators, and philosophers sway certain portions of mankind, and in a certain limited manner; but the early training of the whole human race rests in the hands of women. How, then, can they with impunity remain ignorant of the principles which alone can direct their labor with any certainty ?
The infant mind, blind, unconscious, apparently blank as it is, yet holds the germ of all which makes the mind of man almost divine in its glorious energies. All that may be great, rendering its possessor the willing instrument of his Creator's schemes of wisdom and benevolence; all that may be dark and evil, spreading misery and vice, lies sleeping, as it were, in the unconscious soul of the child, whose whole world is now comprised within its mother's loving arms. And to that mother does it belong to watch the unfolding of each propensity, to nurture or repress, to eradicate or to train, the seeds of good or evil. How, then, is she fitted for such a task, if the whole his. tory of the human mind, its secret springs and sources of action, its constitution and laws, be unknown to her? In any other undertaking, how unpardonable would be considered the rash folly that should ignorantly assume a task of such magnitude? A man who should engage in farming without any knowledge of agriculture, or practise medicine though ignorant of chem
istry or anatomy, would be at once scouted as a quack, and the contempt of society would embitter his failure and ruin: but the health of the soul is fearlessly trusted to those who have not given a moment's thought to the conditions upon which that health depends; who are ignorant of all its functions, and unable to distinguish the symptoms of weakness or disease from those of strength and future beauty. The soil in which the hand of the Almighty has scattered seed which shall bear fruits to eternity, is ruthlessly given up to the rash experiments of the meddling and presumptuous, or to the ignorant neglect of the careless. And this ignorance appears the more criminal when we reflect, that the task the mother is unfit for cannot be taken out of her hands and trusted to another more able to perform it; for wise or foolish, learned or unlearned, anxious or careless, the mother must still educate her child; others may teach it, but the first development of character and feeling, of thought and reason, the first unfolding of the spiritual being must be influenced by her. Can she then, without blame, neglect that study which alone can teach her to discern those early indications amongst which her work lies, to foresee youth's stormy passion in childish ebullitions of wrath or feeling, which in themselves scarce deserve notice; to foster the germ of good dispositions, which may grow in strength till they become a fit bulwark against the temptations of after life; to discern the nascent powers of the mind, and give to them the impulse and direction which shall still be theirs in the hour of their glorious prime?
The low estimate of education so commonly made, the mistaken notions so prevalent concerning its office and extent, no doubt, are in great measure the cause of the ignorance of those who undertake it. As we have before remarked, the surest way to unfit ourselves for any position is to undervalue its importance. It is impossible to doubt that women, whose moral perceptions are very quick, and who are so engrossed with the feelings which belong to the maternal office, would also labor assiduously to fit themselves to undertake its duties, if they felt the difficulties which make preparation necessary; but the sub
ject of early education being one with which all are in some measure familiar, because the circumstances of natural position oblige them all to meddle with it, it has suffered the contempt of familiarity, and has not been deemed worth that degree of preparation which is afforded to the most trivial of professional employments. The ignorance which has prevailed in conse quence must have produced worse effects even than we actu ally behold, but for the silent influence of moral purity and af fection which will ofttimes win the heart, and fill it with holy associations in spite of weakness and frivolity and error! But how frail such a shield may prove, we too often see in the melancholy instances of the children of excellent parents going astray in every path of vice or folly. People exclaim then against education, and ask what is the use of it when the son of such an amiable and religious mother, or of such a high-principled father, could prove worthless; but they forget to inquire what was the mother's skill to impart the moral lessons she desired to teach we hear much of her goodness, nothing of her knowledge or capacity; yet the one without the other gives but a blind desire to follow the right path, without affording the light to distinguish it. We should not ask what is the use of education, but rather how those who have never considered the principles on which education rests should expect to reap the fruits which are due to labor and knowledge ?
After these essential studies, the next point which seems indispensable to every person pretending to mental cultivation is an accurate knowledge of their own language and national history, and some acquaintance with the laws and constitution of their own country.
English grammar, no doubt, is learnt, and English history read, in every school-room; but few women, perhaps, make a critical study of our language, or examine the spirit of our history. Yet such studies almost lay a claim upon our feelings; we may almost say that we are nationally bound to pursue them; that the land in which we are born, and which we have such deep cause to love, should at least excite interest enough to urge us to examine by what means she has achieved her
greatness; to watch the progress of the language in which statesmen have spoken the words that have influenced her des
poets sung the lays which have immortalized her
It reflects some disgrace on English society, that in no other country of Europe do the upper classes speak their own language with so little elegance or correctness. It is true that educated persons in France (women especially) often make gross blunders in writing, owing to grammatical difficulties such as we have not to contend with; but conversational language. among most of the Continental nations presents a purity of diction, and a grammatical correctness, which put ours to shame. In our most polished circles the language commonly used is so careless, and the faults of grammar so frequent, that something of affectation seems almost to belong to perfect correctness, and still more to choice of expression; while slang — the base witling of the stable, the cock-pit, and the tavern is allowed to become the pest of conversation, and to take the name of humor in our lighter literature. When the latter can be made a lucrative trade by coarse and ignorant minds, this fault naturally creeps in, and men who, having received a classical education in boyhood, spend their youth in striving to banish every recollection of it, eagerly spread the contagion; the corruption of their native tongue seems a congenial task to those who willingly forget all they once knew of the grandeur and beauty of the ancient languages. But women might arrest the infection; if they attained by greater cultivation the purity and correctness of taste which we find in men who have cherished the fruit of their early classical studies, these defects would soon be banished from any society that pretended to refinement. Nor are classical studies necessary to produce this result; it is owing not so much to acquaintance with the beauties of ancient authors as to the study of language, which the difficulty of the ancient tongues makes necessary, and this may be cultivated though we should never open a Greek or Latin book.
We cannot even allow a mere grammatical study of our native language to be sufficient. Any person claiming to be educated
should be familiar with its various forms and resources, should study it critically in the works of those who have chronicled their genius in its words, and examine its history to trace the source whence its present rich and copious stream is derived. How much of the inner history of a people is discerned in the changes of their language. How far more correctly often than in the historian's page may thus be traced the progress of civilization at a certain period; at another, the influence of a foreign nation, shown in the introduction of a corrupt or imitative style; or, again, the return to better times, when the language asserts once more its native energy, or seems recruiting itself from its original source. They little deserve to speak the language of Shakspeare and Milton, of Bacon and Algernon Sydney, to whom such a study is without interest.
Our language is poor in works of criticism, and it is especially deficient in any history, or even connected sketch of its own literature. This is a severe loss to women, who depend so entirely on books for guidance, and who, owing to the reprehensible tone and language of many of our old writers, can make no acquaintance with them, except through the medium of selections and criticisms. Allowing, however, full weight to these disadvantages, much may be acquired, even by means within the reach of all. No gentleman's library is without the standard works of our historians, poets, and divines, nor are Bacon's English works, Addison, and Dr. Johnson often wanting; and they furnish a rich mine, which may be explored with no small profit even with no better help than Dr. Blair's lectures and Johnson's prefaces to the poets. These will lead the way in the attempt to read critically, and to form a nice judgment on points of taste; and the latter will ripen as the habit is formed of examining, and comparing, and rendering account of the reasons why some things please and others shock or displease. It is useful to compare together writers on the same or similar subjects, to examine the different mode in which they have treated them; or writers whose styles resemble each other, or are imitated from some common model: this comparison renders their beauties or defects more apparent. It is interesting, also, to read