Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

might fill the heart with an infinite sadness, were it not that it is a slight exaggeration only of the common lot of humanity, and were we not assured that woman's peculiar constitution exactly fits her for her sphere. In her deeper affections, in her more lively imagination, in her profounder trustfulness she finds a compensation for all. And when to human eye the blackest night has settled about her, the star of religious faith rises to dissipate the gloom. It sheds upon her path its calm, benignant beam, till the morning breaks which ushers in eternal day.

LECTURE V.

ON THE EDUCATION OF WOMAN.

YAN

MAL A AVING taken a general view

of the sphere and duties of woman, we are the better prepared to decide what is that training which will best fit her for them. That is the question which we propose in the present lecture to discuss, how is woman to be educated to be useful, agreeable, and happy? It is a question of transcendent importance, for a new generation is continually

coming forward, and receiving that culture, which will make them the ornaments of society, the delight of the domestic circle, the innocent and happy participants of the pleasures of this life, or useless cumberers of the ground, unhappy in themselves, and the cause of misery to others.

A great change has undoubtedly taken place in public sentiment upon this subject within the last half century. Then it was thought sufficient to give to women a merely useful education, to teach them the plain household duties, how to cook, and make, and mend, how to conduct with prudence and economy their domestic affairs. The libraries, to which it was thought necessary that they should have access, were very small. Mrs. Glass' Art of Cooking made plain and easy, Pilgrim's Progress, and the seven tedious volumes of Sir Charles Grandison, were too often the literary apparatus, by which our grandmothers were to be made good wives, fine ladies, and pious Christians. Then there succeeded a rage for accomplishments. To sing, to play, and speak French, these were the essentials of a good education. It was found however, that singing and playing were soon given over, and like the singing of certain insects it made no provision for the winter of age, and it was discovered that it was quite as agreeable to talk folly in English as French, and a great deal less trouble. Then came the fashion for graver studies, Mathematics, the Ancient Languages, Logic and Metaphysics. Thus opinions upon female education have completed the cycle, and undergone a complete revolution. They have been useful, inasmuch as they have exhibited the different aspects of an important subject. They were each imperfect, not because they were untrue, but because they did not present the whole truth. That education is good, not which holds to the one and despises the other, but that which embraces them all. Each of them looks to a different relation in which woman is placed, one to making her useful in the narrowest utilitarian sense, another to making her agreeable, and the third would give her resources of happiness within herself. The woman who has received a proportionate culture in each of these departments is educated, is made as perfect as she is capable of becoming.

I place the education to domestic duties first, as essential and indispensable. No woman is educated who is not equal to the successful management of a family. Although it does not require so much talent to rule a household as it does to govern a state, still it requires talents of the same kind. As he makes the best general who has begun at the lowest post, and passed up through every grade of office, as he makes the best admiral who entered the navy in the most inferior station, because they and they alone are acquainted with the whole compass of a subaltern's duty, so that woman will manage a family with the greatest ease and efficiency, who knows experimentally the duties of every member of it. Daughters who neglect this part of education are entirely without excuse, and their mothers are still more to blame. The very apology, which is often made for the neglect of it, is the greatest condemnation of those who offer it. It is said by those who are growing up in ignorance of these things; “Anyone can learn how to keep house when it is necessary. Any one, who loves her husband, and is devoted to his interests, will make herself accomplished in those things as soon as she is married.” I confess that such reasoning as this fills me with astonishment. As well might the young man say; “Of what use is it for me to learn a profession, or make myself acquainted with the details of any business. When I am married, if I love my wife, it will then be time enough to learn a profession, or to accomplish myself in the details of business.” Would there be

« ElőzőTovább »