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NARROW SPHERE OF LIFE.
With regard to the inactivity of woman's life, the remedy to that is also best to be found in increased mental exertion. The external life of women must necessarily be limited within a narrow circle. School-room discipline, often needlessly repressing childish pleasures; a short period of gay but not free enjoyment; finally, the lottery of marriage, with its joys and its cares, —or single life, with its quiet neglect; such is the round of their existence. But that a ball or a wedding should remain its highest excitement, that nursery cares, needlework, and visiting among rich or poor, should be its highest objects of interest,this is the fault of education. No social changes could give to women the high excitement of active life, or the stirring aims of public ambition; if, then, they would rise to a less contracted sphere of existence, it must be by the expansion of their own minds, and the better cultivation of their own powers. When they learn to extend their sympathies beyond the drawing-room or the nursery, to all that affects the well-being of their fellowcreatures, when the treasures of knowledge are opened to them with all the wonders of the past and the hopes of the future, and they are able to take an interest in all that is worthy to excite the interest of rational beings,-when they study and appreciate their own position as affecting, and affected by, wide social relations, and perceive the magnitude and importance of the duties it imposes, they will feel that the trammels which seemed hopelessly to fetter them are in great measure removed, and that the narrowness of the outer existence cannot, in active minds, confine the free life of thought and feeling.
But even within the narrow limits of women's recognised sphere of action, there is much that requires a far different training from that which they generally receive. Society, with its ceaseless encouragement of female frivolity, is by no means indulgent towards the neglect of female duties. Yet to prepare for these duties, their childhood is given up to superficial booklearning, and their youth to idleness! Even the so-called education, trivial as it is, is far superior to the mode of life that follows. In the former, there is, at least, regular occupation, and some pursuit of knowledge; in the latter, all semblance of study is thrown aside, and every aim directed towards the paltry triumphs of worldly vanity. In the former, amusement was kept secondary; in the latter, it is made the one serious pursuit of life; and the girl who at twelve years old would have been punished for reading Miss Edgeworth's stories, instead of Rollin's history, when she is eighteen reads nothing but novels, or at best some gossiping biography. Even when the mind is naturally too active, and the heart too warm to be long
satisfied with this monotonous trifling, no opening is left for them to turn to better things. Reluctance to join in the round of fashionable folly is denounced as equally absurd and unnatural, and quiet tastes and pursuits considered as singularities their parents are ashamed to own, lest they should draw down upon them the ridicule of the world. The utmost folly in the opposite extreme often meets with more indulgence; and many parents, who, with an unselfishness worthy of a better purpose, make considerable sacrifices of money and convenience to dress and dissipation, would probably deny with positive rigour half that outlay for books, or assistance in any grave pursuit, and even refuse the leisure to study. The position in which young girls thus stand is, perhaps, the only one, through the varied changes of human life, in which frivolity is erected into a duty, and inculcated by those very lips whose teaching at other times shows forth the sacredness of virtue, and the responsibilities of religion! While such is woman's first practical lesson in life, how can the due fulfilment of subsequent obligations be expected of her? Whatever earnestness or strength of character she does show in fulfilling them, may truly be said to be in spite of her education and of the influence of society.
QUESNEL, MA GRADE MASTERED MINO
The evil of idleness is fully acknowledged where exertion is required to obtain any worldly purpose,-whether money or distinction, but its effect on the mind itself is not duly considered, or it would be seen how destructive it must be to female usefulness and happiness. Where there is activity there is life, and some measure of wholesome vigour; and the mind of man is so constituted that these are essential elements of happiness. But in idleness there is a numbness of all the faculties- —a torpor of the soul,—which being in opposition to its natural tendencies, produces irritation and discomfort. Why then is idleness, which in men is considered almost as a vice, looked upon with such indulgence in women, except from the perpetually recurring error, that nothing is of importance but as it affects our worldly position? The activity of women would not add to wealth; what matters it then that it might add to their happiness, that it might save some minds from being worn and fretted in the weary treadmill of idleness?
Once more; if, while the education of men is carried on at universities, and by the severe training of laborious professions, women undergo a systematic deterioration of tastes and habits during the most precious years of youth, who can be astonished that their influence is not what it should be? The more earnest the lives of men, the less, we repeat, can they be influenced by frivolous women. The only real wonder is, that the moral
NOT CONFINED TO FASHIONABLE CIRCLES.
results should not be worse; that with idleness and frivolity, a deeper taint of levity and corruption should not spread over society. Such would probably be the case-as we see in some foreign countries-but for the severe domestic habits of English life, and for that inevitable moral training of a subordinate position that we spoke of above. Just as poverty is in some respects a wholesome check to the vulgar and uneducated classes, whose vices, if aided by wealth, would acquire a frightful development, so dependance and constraint prevent the full effect of ignorance and idleness in women. Give to the majority of men the same mental education, and expose them to the same influences from society, and the world would ere long become one scene of confusion, and progress give way to decline.
JAMOND PEAL BASIYENNE
Some persons may, perhaps, object, that our observations refer to one small class of persons only. We wish it were so; but although a constant round of society and amusement is certainly not within the reach of all, the same absence of rational occuany pation prevails. The love of dress, devotion to trifles, and gossip, do not belong to fashionable circles, more than to those most remote from Almacks or Hyde-park; they are not the errors of circumstance, but the vices of vacant and frivolous minds. If care of the poor, to which some women give much time and attention, is brought forward as an exception to the common want of occupation; we would point to the results generally obtained. as illustrating most completely, how far weak characters and superficial minds are fit to become the guides and instructors of others; while shewing at the same time how much frivolity may be mixed up with the most sacred objects. No doubt there are admirable exceptions; there are some, whose labours among the poor are truly a national benefit; but these belong not to classes, but to individual characters; and as we said before, in a general view, exceptions must be set aside.
If now we proceed to seek the cause of the deficient education, and the subsequent frivolous inactive life, which we have considered as lessening the influence of women, we believe we may find it in a low and narrow view of life itself, making worldly advancement or prosperity its first objects, separating religion from secular life, and limiting the Christian's obligations to a profession of faith, to the observance of certain forms, and of some moral precepts. Such a view, the disastrous effects of which are but too evident among men, holds out to women no incentive to aim at a higher standard of intelligence and moral feeling; and marriage, offering the only means by which they can improve their worldly position, marriage becomes the great goal of their endeavours. They are taught to consider it indis
pensable to their happiness, and if not to their own self-respect,
If marriage be, in this manner, indispensable for women, it follows that they must be educated merely to please men; and moreover, the fancies, vanity, and caprices of the latter, must be more consulted than their better feelings and opinions, in proportion as they are more fitted to be played upon and to become the instruments of subjection. In a man's sober view of life, he would probably always wish to find in marriage a rational companion-a being that could sympathize in his highest thoughts and aims, and to whom he could give the affection and confidence of a friend, when time should have cooled the ardour of youthful passion. Unfortunately, however, men rarely choose their wives according to sober views, but in the feverish delusions of love, or of fancy, that usurps the name; that fancy which, bred neither in the head nor in the heart, lives in the eye alone. They see and are dazzled, or they see and are flattered; and their choicethe irrevocable choice for life-is made. Those things, therefore, are cultivated which can best attract such a choice; showy accomplishments, the arts of dress and coquetry, with a smattering of information, when information is the fashion; while tastes and opinions are carefully left unformed, lest they should clash with those of any eligible pretender. Fortunately, even when men are destitute of moral principle themselves, they rarely dislike to find a difference in this respect in the women they would marry; had it been otherwise, had morals seemed in their eyes as ungraceful and unfeminine as knowledge, where would our present system have led us? It is a startling question, and almost too painful for a woman's sarcasm.
But though morals be upheld in theory, how are even they practically sacrificed to the same vain idol! What is the value of lessons of truth given in childhood, when young girls are led to practise artifice from the moment of their entering society! Of what use was it, that Christian principles were upheld in the school-room, if the pupils, once launched into the world, are made to look upon money and rank as the essential objects of existence, to shut their eyes to the deformities of gilded vice, and to repress the instinctive shrinking with which the young heart contemplates vowing in the face of Heaven, to love and honour some being incapable of exciting the one, or deserving the other! What avails it that in early years they have admired, in the page of history, the moral courage and the noble heroism
INCONSISTENCIES RESULTING FROM THEM.
of those who have dared to assert the cause of truth and virtue against a scoffing world, if they are henceforth taught to shudder at the thought of that world's censure, to bow to every caprice of its opinion, and to dread independence of character as ridiculous or shocking?
But it were needless to attempt to point out half the inconsistencies to which such a system leads, and difficult to exaggerate its ill effects. It has been held up to ridicule in fiction; it has altered the tone of society, so as often apparently to reverse the position of the two sexes; it has revolted men of sense, and made boorish coxcombs of others; and, finally, it has contributed to the present total want of deference and attention to women,—those graceful relics of chivalrous days which placed in the most dignified light the relation between the weak and the strong;-but still it continues. The pomp and parade of modern education may try to conceal this its governing principle, but it betrays itself under every specious disguise. In language more or less refined, in appeals more or less direct, in works on education or on woman's position and improvement, in the exhortations of the governess, in the incentives to vanity held out as rewards, in the careful training of the love of dress and admiration, in the preference of everything showy over solid acquirement-in all these, we cannot but see that the applause and homage of men, is held out as the ruling motive of female education. And hence it is, that considerable increase of information,—a painful sacrifice of childish pleasures, and sometimes of health, to toilsome lessons,-great labour, and large sums spent with masters of every description, from gymnastics to church-architecture,-still produce no increased fruit of mental culture, no greater solidity of character, no greater soundness of judgment, no wider range of interests, no enlargement in the views of life and duty. If the motive which leads to study now, is no higher than that which in older times prompted the labours of the tapestry-room, and skill in the arts of housewifery; we need not wonder that the results on character remain the same, since it is ever the motive, more than the means employed, which influences the mind.
Apart from all the powerful considerations which to beings gifted with affections, must make that state of life preferable which affords the fullest scope to those affections, there is more than enough in the position of women generally to make marriage seem desirable to them. Many things, both in our laws and in our social arrangements, combine to produce this result; such as the entails and laws of inheritance; the needless dependance of single women long after the time is past when inexperience or