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the matter changes when, instead of this love in idleness, the young men and the young women alike take to philosophy, and the latter concern themselves with questions about the relations of the sexes, which are by no means seemly subjects for their handling, and lead them into paths where they can scarcely fail to soil their feet. This volunteer occupation of women is a more disagreeable symptom of the time than the want of legitimate employments for them. False delicacies there may be in ordinary education, but nothing can well be more utterly false than that artificial courage which tempts many women, simply because they are women, to rush into subjects of which they can have little practical knowledge and no personal experience -to discuss the delicate laws of marriage, the subtle and intricate mutual rights and wrongs of the two great portions of humanity, and to make arbitrary and sweeping condemnations of those who may, in the real course and practice of life, have neither leisure nor inclination to defend themselves. Marriage is possibly an event of more absorbing importance in the life of a woman than in that of a man; but if it is, this mere fact is not enough to make her the natural critic and special pleader of the whole subject: rather the other way, for extreme personal interest is not supposed, in general cases, to clear the vision or steady the judgment. Yet we find it not only occupying a most prominent place in a considerable proportion of the feminine teachings of the day, but even earnestly recommended to the mind of young womankind as a subject on which they are bound to inform themselves. nothing of the sort, young ladies! Don't come to any conscientious convictions on the subject. Don't be persuaded to believe that you are more intimately and lastingly concerned in the matter than your lover is, or have any private course of casuistry to go through, in your professional position as a woman. If you have really and seriously come to the conclusion that to be married is the natural and best condition of existence, be married, for heaven's sake, and be done with it! Every
human creature is bound to do his or her duty (let us say it boldly), whether it has the solace of love to sweeten it or no. It may seem a frightful doctrine, yet it is the merest dictate of ordinary sense and wisdom. If a woman is certain that she is more fitted to be the mistress of a house, and the mother of a family, than anything else, and that this is her true vocation-spite of all natural human prejudices in favour of the natural preliminary of marriage, we are bound to declare that her first duty, as it seems to us, is to be married, even though it should be quite impossible for her to persuade herself that she is "in love" before. But if her sense of duty is not equal to this venture, the very worst thing she can do is to console herself by concluding most marriages to be unhappy, and the estate, in the greatest number of instances, an unholy state. And it is just this hankering after a condition of which she will neither accept the risk nor relinquish the thought, and of which, having no experience, she is quite unqualified to be a judge, which exposes unmarried women of philosophic tendencies
not young enough to be judged leniently as under the glamour of youth, and not old enough to have their arbitrary fancies subdued by the mellowing touch of age--to the disapproval of the sympathetic critic, and the derision of hastier judgments.
And it is also true, and a fact worth remembering, that the maiden lady is not an invention of these times. There were unmarried women long ago, before civilisation had made such fatal progress: while all the heDo roines in all the novels were still married at eighteen-before the life of Charlotte Bronte had even begun, or there was a woman in existence qualified to write it-unmarried ladies existed in this world, where nothing is ever new. Judging by literature, indeed, Scotland herself, our respected mither, seems always to have had a very fair average of unmarried daughters; and for the instruction of womankind in general, and novel-writers in particular, we are bound to add that there were three such personages as Miss Austin, Miss Edgeworth, and
Miss Ferrier, novelists of the old world, and representatives of the three respective kingdoms, whom none of their successors in the craft have yet been able to displace from the popular liking; so that we might suppose it was rather late in the day to begin de novo to teach unmarried women how, in spite of their unfortunate circumstances, it is still possible for them to keep themselves respected and respectable. Many hundred, nay, thousand years ago, there was even a certain characteristic and remarkable person called Miriam, who, wilful and womanlike, and unquestionably unmarried, was still so far from being disrespected or unimportant, that a whole nation waited for her, till she was able to join their journey. Our age, which likes so much to declare itself the origin of changes, is not the inventor of feminine celibacy. There were unmarried women before our time, and there will be unmarried women after it. Nay, not only so-but Paul the apostle, eighteen hundred years ago, gave anything but an inferior place to the unwedded maidens of his time: "She that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how she may please the Lord," says the writer of the Epistles; and many an unmarried woman since his day has proved his statement, happily unwitting of all the philosophies which should prove to her how lonely and comfortless she ought to find herself, and what a hard case hers was, and how, notwithstanding, it behoved her to make some certain amount of sad and patient exertion to vindicate her womanly credit with the world.
Might it not be as well, in a general way, does any one think, to try Paul's version of the matter, and leave the statistics and the laws of marriage quietly alone?
We presume there must be something terribly wrong with that famous windmill, which has borne the assault of so many fiery knights, the thing called Female Education. Since the days of Hannah More-and how much further back beyond that virtuous era who will venture to say ?-everybody has broken a spear upon this maiden fortress; yet, judging from
the undiminished fervour with which it is still assaulted in the present day, we conclude that no one has succeeded in any measure of reformation. We do not profess to be very learned in the question-the mysteries of a female college have never been penetrated by our profane eyes, though we profess, like most other people, to have seen the product, and to be aware, in a limited way, what kind of persons our young countrywomen are, and in what manner they manage to fulfil the duties of the after-life, for which, in the first place, their education, in general, does not seem to unfit them. That is something in its favour to begin with-but we cannot help being rather doubtful about the value of the report as to the frivolity of female education, when we find the strange inaccuracies and blunders into which its critics fall regarding matters of social usage open to everybody's observation. There is that wise book, for instance, Friends in Council, which all proper people quote and admire. Wise books, we are ashamed to confess, inspire us with an instinctive aversion; yet, notwithstanding, we would quote honestly, if the volume were at our hand. There are sundry essays and conversations there touching upon this subject, in one of which the oracle informs us that it is no wonder to find women inaccessible to reason, considering all the homage and false worship with which they are surrounded in society during the first part of their lives, and which is all calculated to persuade them of their own superlative and angelical gifts, and elevation above ordinary fact and information. Is that so? Perhaps if every young girl who shone her little day in polite society, happened to be a great beauty, intoxicating everybody who approached her with that irresistible charm, it might be partially true; for that men, and women too, fall out of their wits at sight of a lovely face, and are beguiled into all manner of foolishness by its glamour, is indisputable; but even then we should decidedly claim it as a necessary condition, that the beauty herself had no young brothers to bring her down to common ground, and only a gracious sire
of romance, never worried in the City, nor disturbed by factious opposition in the House. As for all ranks less than the highest, the thing is preposterous and out of the question; and even in the highest, every young girl is not a beauty, and society generously provides its little budget of mortifications for the moral advantage of neophytes. But for the daughter of the professional man, of the merchant, of all the throngs of middle life, to which, in reality, all great rules must primarily apply, if there is any truth in them,-what can possibly be more false, we had almost said more absurd? These are not days of euphuism or extravagant compliments. We do not permit the common acquaintances of common society to administer serious flattery to our womankind; and an average young lady of a moderate degree of intelligence, we apprehend, would-so far is the thing out of usage-be much more likely to consider herself affronted than honoured by the old hyperboles of admiration; and as for home, good lack! what do Friends in Council know about it? Fathers who have bills to meet and clients to satisfy; mothers who are straining income and expenditure to a needful junction, and who have all the cares of the house upon their shoulders; brothers who vex the young lady's soul before her time with premature buttons,-are these the kind of surroundings to persuade a woman that she is angelical, and make her giddy with the incense of flattery and admiration? We appeal to everybody who knows anything of common life, and the existence of the family, which is true; and we humbly submit that one might object to take for gospel, without more effectual demonstration, anything else which the Friends in Council choose to advance upon female education, or any other of the vexed questions concerning womankind.
Again, another writer, whom we cannot place by the side of Mr Helps, yet who ought probably, being a woman, to be better informed, writes thus of the same unfortunate girls, who are supposed by the previous authority to be dazzled out of their wits by the flattery of society.
"Tom, Dick, and Harry leave school and plunge into life; the girls' likewise finish their education, come home, and stay at home. That is enough. Nobody thinks it needful to waste a care upon them. Bless them, pretty dears, how sweet they are! papa's nosegay of beauty to adorn his drawing-room. He delights to give them all they can desireclothes, amusements, society; he and mamma together take every domestic care off their hands. From babyhood they are given to understand that helplessness is feminine and beautiful; helpfulness-except in certain received forms of manifestation-unwomanly and ugly. The boys may do a thousand things which are not proper for girls.'
Where, oh where, are to be found those adorable papas who delight to give their daughters everything they
can desire?-those mammas most dutiful, who take every domestic care off their hands? Are they in Bloomsbury? are they in Belgravia? might we have a chance of finding them in beautiful Edinburgh, or in rich Manchester? And where shall we be able to lay hands upon this ecstatic conception of the boys and brothers, who have learned self-dependence all their lives, are helpful and handy, and may do a thousand things which are not proper for the girls? We should very much like to know; and so, we do not doubt, would a very large number of young ladies still more immediately concerned. For, alas! we are obliged to confess that the greater number of the papas whom we have the personal honour of including in our acquaintance, are apt to hold unjustifiably strong opinions on the subject of milliners' bills-that the majority of the mammas are provokingly disposed to provide for the proper regulation of the future households of their daughters, by advancing these young ladies to an economical participation in domestic difficulties; and as for the boys, did anybody ever know a wellconditioned boy who was good for anything in this life but making mischief? In this holiday season one can speak feelingly-who is it that keeps the house in din and disorder from morning to night-who are the ogres who bring on mamma's headaches,
who upset the girls' workboxes, who lose the books, who mislay the music, who play tricks upon the visitors, who run riot in the unmitigated luxury of total idleness, who are about as helpful as the kittens are, and whom the very littlest of little sisters patronise as incapables, who can do nothing for themselves? Oh happy people who have boys at home for the holidays do you need to pause before answering the question?
"God bless all large families!" says a recent writer of sense and feeling, who knows something of the life of such, and who finds in them the best nurseries for mutual forbearance, good temper, and kindness. Large families are common enough, let us be thankful, in our much-populated island; and nobody need fear that young women brought up in these will be educated in undue idleness, or with false ideas of their own angelic qualities. Among all those classes with whom economy is a needful virtue, every one who knows family life, knows very well that it is the girls who are in reality the helpful portion of the household - so much and so unquestionably so, that everybody congratulates the mother of many children who has one or two elder daughters at the head of them, on the fact that her first-born are girls not boys-natural coadjutors in her many duties; and those delightful urchins of Mr Leech's, who make tents out of hoop - petticoats, and dance into the drawing-room in triumph with "the things Clara stuffs out her hair with," may safely be trusted to keep Clara from undue elation even under the intoxicating flatteries of the only person whom English society permits to flatter its daughter-her lover.
We might well add, what is a fact very patent to many people, that the chief secretaries and helpers of men largely engaged in public business, are in very many cases their daughtersoftener a great deal than their sonsand that from Milton and Sir Thomas More down to Fowell Buxton, those filial auxiliaries have attended the steps of great men in a singularly large proportion. To descend to a very much lower platform, it is his daughter who keeps the tradesman's
books, and makes out his bills, almost universally; and every one who condescends to make personal visits to the baker's and the butcher's, and the fishmonger's, must have seen the little railed-in desk in the corner, where the grown-up daughter, if there is such a person, finds her invariable place. The amanuensis of the higher class, worked remorselessly by the great philanthropist, who finds his most devoted servant in his female child, and the accountant of the lower, whose bills are not always extremely legible, but who is kept at her post with an unvarying steadiness, ought to find some account made of them in books about women ; and the almost entire omission of so large a class, proves better, perhaps, than anything we can say would do, how entirely it is a view out of a corner which is given to the public as the general aspect of womankind.
We do not speak abstractly, or in general terms; we say plainly and simply, that whatever theoretical faults there may be in English female education, it turns out women as little apt to fail in the duties of their life as any class of human creatures, male or female, under the sun. say that it is a mere exploded piece of antique nonsense to assert that society flatters women into foolishness, or permits them to be flattered; and that those who find in the young girls of our families only helpless nosegays of ornament, unqualified to do service either to themselves or other people, are either totally unacquainted with household life, or have a determined "cast" in their vision, not to be remedied. All these things are patent and visible to every simple observer who has no theory to support; but truth often suffers herself to be obscured out of sheer unbelief in the power of misrepresentation; and we do not doubt that many a mother of a family, who knows a great deal better if she but took time to consider, receives the decision which comes to her in a book, with a show of authority, and an appearance of wisdom, supposing, though it does not tally with her own experience, that somehow or other it must be true. The next step is, that the wise book gets put into the hands of
young people, to fill them at their outset with false ideas-not of themselves, for we have generally vanity enough, all of us, to keep us clear, in our own persons, of any share in the unjust condemnation-but, what is much worse, of their neighbours. We protest against the whole system loudly and earnestly. Why a young girl should have the disagreeable idea of sex dinned into her ears all day long-why she should be taught to make the most sweeping and wholesale condemnation of other classes round her-to believe that the servant-maidens who encompass her in almost every action of her life, and with whom she very likely holds a natural sympathy, are in a state of such universal depravity and degradation that the greater part of them are married, if at all, "just a week or two before maternity and that among the married people to whom she looks up, a happy marriage is the most uncommon lot of all," and the condition most frequently "an unholy state,❞—we confess we are totally at a loss to perceive. What is likely to be the natural product of such teaching? A woman perpetually self-conscious, no longer a spontaneous human creature, but a representative of her sex -conscious of purity in her own person, but doubting every other fancying that she has found out a new condition, and a new development of feminity, yet holding fast by the hundred-year-old traditions of frivolous education and social flattery
pretty dolls, the playthings of our lords and masters," and all the other humbug of ancient timesfancying, if she does not marry, that it is because her views are higher and her principles more elevated than those of the vulgar persons who do; and that, looking over their heads, she is able to perceive how unfit they are for the relations which she herself will not accept-a woman who sincerely pities other people's children, and other people's servants, and looks on with an observant scientific compassion at the world, which is going gradually to ruin, and out of which she is half afraid good-sense will die in her own person. Is it to this extent of wisdom and superiority that we de
sire to see our daughters grow?-is this the model after which we would willingly frame them? For our own part, we can only say, let us have back Pamela, and Clarissa, and the Spectator. If our young people are to be instructed in the social vices, by way of establishing their own morality, let Richardson once more be the support of virtue. It is better to tell the story of the much-tried milkmaid, which is visibly a fiction, than to preach philosophical sugges tions of universal wickedness, which are supposed to be true.
It is very odd to remark how questionable many of those productions are, which are warranted by the newspapers to be suitable gift-books for young ladies. Chance threw in our way, some time ago, a little volume with a very innocent title, fresh from America, and the production of an elder sister of the world-famous Mrs Stowe. With such a name on the title-page, who could entertain any doubts about Letters to the People on Health and Happiness? We did not certainly, though we were somewhat astounded to find the little book adorned with anatomical diagrams: but we cannot say that we were at all impressed with this symptom of the increased elevation and profundity of the age, when we found this volume to consist, not of an elderly lady's kindly counsels to her country-folk upon subjects within her own knowledge, but, in the first place, of surgical lectures upon the construction of the human frame; and, in the second, of an anatomy much more shocking, a sort of morbid dissection of the health and morals of the United States, full of hints and implications of the most unbelievable evil. Doing all justice to the entire lack of evil intention, or even of evil consciousness, on the part of the writer of this and of other such productions, we are obliged to add our sincere conviction that no French novel under rigorous taboo, bears more, or perhaps as much, mischief in it, as one of those didactic expositions of mysterious and secret vice, those public whispers of scandal, which do not indeed take away personal reputation, but which, so far as any one believes them, throw a blight