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our necessary burden with less heaviness. The many instances of persons given up wholly to religious impressions after great sorrow, who have sunk into religious melancholy, bear out this



In very early life dependence is not felt as a trial; ignorance of the world, timidity, and the host of new pleasures that open upon a young girl just entering into society, make her perfectly satisfied with her lot, which then indeed bears a bright and happy aspect; and if an early marriage close the first act of the drama, she feels little, probably, for many years of some of the evils we have mentioned. But if, on the other hand, she does not marry young, they speedily make themselves felt; the early gloss of pleasure soon wears off; heart and mind yearn for something beyond, which her actual existence cannot give; she has no aim for exertion, and the obstacles of conventional laws begin to chafe and irritate. The present offers no active duties, no engrossing interests to prevent the thoughts dwelling upon the future; and that future is shrouded in more than the darkness which belong to every mortal fate, for no possible exertion of her own can shape her destiny therein. A new feeling unexpectedly kindled, may at any moment cause her actual course of life to be interrupted, and exchanged for one wholly different, while she cannot prepare for that future station which is wholly concealed from her view. Poor, she may become rich; brought up in the lap of luxury, she may be reduced to comparative penury; full of warm sympathies and ardent affections, she may live in solitude; fond of society, and capable of enjoying or even adorning the best, she may be deprived of every social pleasure; with energy and talents to have won admiration and fame, she may live in obscurity, unknown and seemingly useless; and all this without any fault or interference of her own, without any power to help herself or to exert more than a negative influence over her destiny. Little do they know of the human heart, of its weakness or its strength, who think this long and helpless uncertainty is no trial, that it brings with it no danger of embittering the spirit, and deadening the very springs of healthy existence !

Nor is it strange that this trial should fall heaviest upon those who best deserve a brighter lot; those to whom activity is congenial, and whose character or powers might, under better circumstances, have commanded respect and admiration, or, what is far dearer still, affection and esteem. It may also, no doubt, account for much of that devotion to amusement, and that craving for excitement, which fritters away the energies of youth, and often, also, for the eagerness for marriage, which produces such


pernicious consequences when made a ruling object of life. Even the frequently failing health of young women may, probably, in many cases be ascribed to the same cause; an unnatural state of mind acts upon a sensitive nervous system, and this cannot continue long without producing evil, which would have been unknown in a state of healthful activity.


This subject has been touched on before; but it is so important, and so commonly overlooked, that we will not apologise for the seeming repetition. It should be remembered that there can be happiness only where the heart is interested, where the faculties are active, where the mind is engrossed and pressing forward towards some desired object. In all schemes of bliss these wants are provided for more or less, truly or falsely; but how then are these wants satisfied in the life of frivolous amusement, of alternate inaction and feverish gaiety, which is led by most young unmarried women? It is little wonder if many give it up in despair, and rush into inconsiderate marriages (hopeless of marrying as their own hearts would dictate), or gradually yield to bitterness and discontent. It were more strange,-we had almost said more sad,-if any human being endowed like the rest of God's children, could long endure such a life in content. What, then, is the remedy? We can think of none more effectual than cultivating an earnest love of knowledge, which never lacks a sphere of activity, which fills with interest and objects for exertion, the life, the external circumstances of which are most insipid. Intellectual activity will prevent women in this position draining the full draught of ennui which their fate presents to them, and will at once give exercise and peace to the mind fretted in the continual conflict of petty things.

The fact that these trials we complain of, spring from the necessary conditions of woman's social position, is sufficient, in many minds, to take from them the character of evils. "Of course it is so," is the answer to those who speak of them. "Would you reverse woman's position, and encroach upon the rights of men ?" By no means. The conditions of our natural position must be endured, such as they are; but this does not prevent our feeling their irksomeness, or acknowledging them as evils. It were as absurd to say that hardships and dangers, heavy toil, and contact with the coarse and fierce passions of their fellow-creatures, are not trials in man's active career, as to deny that dependence and inactivity are trials in the lot of woman. It is weakness to close our eyes to the truth, to shrink from looking upon the evils of our lot, and seek to call them by another name. Better is it to search them out, and be familiar with their aspect, and then to cherish every means that may help us


to bear them in that lofty spirit which becomes the heirs of immortal life.


Doubtless the very want of education often blinds women te some of the evils of their condition. Their powers are so little drawn forth that they cling to a state of dependence, and their minds are so little trained to exertion that they often rejoice in the indolent ease of their existence; and far from wanting a wider sphere of action, shrink even within that which legitimately belongs to them. But such a state of things is itself an evil; and to delay giving a higher tone of education, lest some trials of our position should be more severely felt, is somewhat like depriving a prisoner of sight, lest, looking forth upon the beauty of the world he is shut out from, he should grieve the more bitterly over his captivity! If we consider life, we find that every step man ascends in the scale of moral or intellectual existence, carries with it the penalty of more acutely feeling the evils that surround him. To the ignorant, the torments of doubt are unknown, and the narrow limits of human knowledge chafe not their spirit; to the morally blind, the heavy weight of human iniquity is no burden, the deep misery of moral evil is unfelt by them; to the selfish, and the stupid, and the worldly, the follies and the sufferings of mankind, the anxieties of public interests, and the burden of private sympathies are unknown;-to all these alike, life is a lighter and an easier thing than it is to nobler minds and more feeling hearts. But shall we, for this, envy and seek to assimilate ourselves to the worldly, the stupid, and the ignorant, the strangers to holy thoughts and benevolent impulses? Surely not: the heart has but one answer to such a question, and so, likewise, there is but one to that we have proposed. Though mental cultivation should make women at times feel dependence more galling, inaction more wearisome, let them take the penalty with the privilege of a higher station, and seek, in better things than in the numbing of their faculties, for consolation amid the trials of this transitory condition. It seems hardly to need proof that such consolation is most surely to be found in whatever bears least connexion with the trammels of earth, and lifts the mind most habitually to a region where all is freedom, and tranquillity, and peace.

If a woman does not marry at all, and the trials of those hard years which follow the excitement of youth, terminate in the calm dreariness of a solitary life, who can express how precious the love of knowledge may be to her? There are, in such a life, moments of bitterness which nothing can soothe so well as the absorbing interest of intellectual pursuits; moments when a

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woman cannot but feel as if cut off from the universe,-utterly insignificant to the busy throng of her fellow-creatures, and even to those whom she loves best, less important than the least of those who are bound to them by the ties she can never know. While her sympathy and her care are exacted without measure, those who receive them, immersed in their own joys, or sorrows, or interests, have little leisure to scan her feelings or remember her trials; to her, is emphatically revealed the force of the Preacher's words,-"The heart knoweth its own bitterness;"how sweet, then, to that lonely heart the bond which, through the pursuit of knowledge, seems to unite it with the brightest and noblest intellects! The aspect of her solitary existence is changed under its influence; she is still cut off from the busy scenes of life and from its dearest joys; but hours of lofty meditatation may be hers, of communing with those glorious spirits whom God, from time to time, has sent down to cheer and ennoble their toiling brethren. She cannot feel ambition for herself or others; no earthly hope gilds her lonely path; but hers may be the fervent aspirations after truth,—the earnest search for its treasures; and in these aims, in these hopes, she may find a peaceful joy, which often may make the heart forget the absence of happiness.

Even in a far happier position, in the enjoyment of all that makes life dear, the loss of youth is generally most painful to women, whose middle age is not like that of men, filled up with active employments, which render them in some measure insensible to the ravages of the great despoiler. Women are too often sadly unprovided with means of enjoyment as years steal on; when not only youthful pleasures are left behind, and accomplishments have ceased to please, but when the nursery cares, which have, perhaps, engrossed many years, are at an end, and their children are engaged in the labours of study which their own knowledge does not fit them to superintend; or later still, when their sons are dispersed in professions, and their daughters have left them, perhaps, for distant homes, then all the occupation of life is gone! Each period has been taken up with anxious or busy cares, but all within that one small circle; there was nothing beyond home, and now the home is left almost solitary; with no companion but a husband, still, perhaps, engaged in a profession; ; engrossed with interests in which she never took a share, occupied with pursuits and schemes in which she never cared to sympathize. It is because women are so ill-provided against this trying period that we see them generally withdraw from social life much earlier than men, sink back neglected in society, and reduced at home to some mechanical occupation for



amusement; while the latter are still keen in some favourite pursuit, reaping at the head of a profession the honours due to their knowledge and experience, or watching with eager interest those who are following in their steps.* *

Such is the fate of too many excellent and amiable women,fate which a love of knowledge would effectually secure them against, filling up the void caused by the cessation of family cares, and preventing the isolation, which is one of the saddest trials of age when it cannot sympathize in the feelings and pursuits of the young. Disparity of years vanishes before similarity of tastes; we find in intellectual activity the true "Fontaine de jouvence" of which poets sang. For the mind, eager in the pursuit of truth, is never old; its energies die not, its ardour is not quenched. When all other pleasures of early life have vanished, and with them the very feelings and wishes that made us take delight in them; when the busy scenes of former years have long been accomplished, or the sorrow for their failure forgotten; when the bustle of the world in which we are no longer able to join passes us by, and its smiles and honours are held out to reward the exertions of those whom we have nursed in our arms; when all that is bright in life has faded, and even its sober tints are becoming sad; even then one aspiration of our youth may yet remain unchanged, one sphere of active delight be open to us as in our most joyous days, and be all the dearer to us for having thus endured through life's chequered scene, and bearing some of the brightest associations of Spring into Autumn's cheerless season.

There are some excellent remarks on the different effects of age upon men and women, in an Essay of Sidney Smith's on Female Education, re-published in the collected edition of his works.

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