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needs have been acquired by the neglect of whatever was necessary 2 What would the polished Addison, who thought that one great end of a lady’s learning to dance was, that she might know how to sit still gracefully; what would even the Pagan historian” of the great Roman conspirator, who could commemorate it among the defects of his hero's accomfilished mistress, “that she was too good a singer and dancer for a virtuous woman ;” what would these refined critics have said, had they lived as we have done, to see the art of dancing lifted into such importance, that it cannot with any degree of safety be confided to one instructor, but a whole train of successive masters are considered as absolutely essential to its perfection ? What would these accurate judges of female manners have said, to see a modest young lady first delivered into the hands of a military serjeant to instruct her in the feminine art of marching 3 and when this delicate acquisition is attained, to see her transferred to a professor, who is to teach her the Scotch steps; which professor, having communicated his indispensable portion of this indispensable art, makes way for the professor of French dances; and all perhaps, in their turn, either yield to or have the honour to co-operate with a finishing master; each probably receiving a stipend which would make the pious curate or the learned chaplain rich and happy : The science of music, which used to be communicated in so competent a degree to a young lady by one able instructor, is now distributed among a whole band. She now requires, not a master, but an orchestra. And my country readers would accuse me of exaggeration were I to hazard enumerating the variety of musical teachers who attend in the same family; the daughters of which are summoned, by at least as many instruments as the subjects of Nebuchadnezzar, to worship the idol which fashion has set up. They would be incredulous were H to produce real instances, in which the delighted mother has been heard to declare, that the visits of masters of every art, and the different masters for various gradations of the same art, followed cach other in such close and * Sallust,
rapid succession during the whole London residence, that her girls had not a moment's interval to look into a book; nor could she contrive any method to introduce one, till she happily devised the scheme of reading to them herself for half an hour while they were drawing, by which means no time was lost.* Before the evil is past redress, it will be prudent to re
flect that in all polished countries an entire devotedness to the fine arts has been one grand source of the corruption of the women; and so justly were these pernicious consequences appreciated by the Greeks, among whom these arts were carried to the highest possible perfection, that they seldom allowed them to be cultivated to a very exquisite degree by women of great purity of character. And if the ambition of an elegant British lady should be fired by the idea that the accomplished females of those polished states were the admired companions of the philosophers, the poets, the wits, and the artists of Athens ; and their beauty or talents the favourite subjects of the muse, the lyre, the pencil, and the chisel ; so that their pictures and statues furnished the most consummate models of Grecian art : if, I say, the accomplished females of our days are panting for similar renown, let their modesty chastize their ambition, by recollecting that these celebrated women are not to be found among the chaste wives and the virtuous daughters of the Aristides’, the Agis", and the Phocions; but that they are to be looked for among the Phrynes, the Lais’, the Aspacias, and the Glyceras. I am persuaded the Christian female, whatever be her talents, will renounce the desire of any celebrity when attached to impurity of character, with the
* Since the first edition of this "Work appeared, the author has re. ceived from a person of great eminence the following statement, ascertaining the time employed in the acquisition of music in one instance, As a general calculation it will perhaps be found to be far from exaggerated. The statement concludes with remarking, that the individual who is the subject of it is now married to a man who dislikes music.
Suppose your pupil to begin at six years of age, and to continue at the average of four hours a day only, Sunday excepted, and thirteen days allowed for travelling annually, till she is eighteen, the state stands thus ; 300 days multiplied by four, the number of hours amount to 1200; that number multiplied by twelve, which is the number of years, amounts to 14,400 hours! * . .
. J.). 2
same noble indignation with which the virtuous biographer of the above-named heroes renounced all dishonest fame, by exclaiming, “I had rather it should be said there never was a Plutarch, than that they should say Plutarch was malignant, unjust, or envious.” And while this corruption, brought on by an excessive cultivation of the arts, has contributed its full share to the decline of states, it has always furnished an infallible symptom of their impending fall. The satires of the most penetrating and judicious of the Roman poets corroborating the testimonies of the most accurate of their historians, abound with invectives against the depravity of manners introduced by the corrupt habits of female education. . The bitterness and gross indelicacy of some of these satirists (too gross to be either quoted or referred to) make little against their authority in these points; for how shocking must those corruptions have been, and how obviously offensive their causes, which could have appeared so highly disgusting to minds not likely to be scandalized by slight deviations from decency The famous ode of Horace, attributing the vices and disasters of his country to the same cause, might, were it quite free from the above objections, be produced, I will not presume to say as an exact picture of the existing manners of this, country; but may I not venture to say, as a prophecy, the fulfilment of which cannot be very remote? It may however be observed, that the modesty of the Roman matron, and the chaste demeanor of her virgin daughters, which amidst the stern virtues of the state were as immaculate and pure as the honour of the Roman citizen, fell a sacrifice to the luxurious dissipation brought in by their Asiatic conquests ; after which the females were soon taught a complete change of character. They were instructed to accommodate their talents of pleasing to the more vitiated tastes of the other sex; and began to study every grace and every art which might captivate the exhausted hearts, and excite the wearied and capricious inclinations of the men : till by a rapid and at length
* No censure is levelled at the exertions of real genius, which is as valuable as it is rare; but at the absurdity of that system which is erecting the whole sex into artists. - --
complete enervation, the Roman character lost its signature, and through a quick succession of slavery, effeminacy, and vice, sunk into that degeneracy of which some of the modern Italian states serve to furnish a too just specimen. It is of the essence of human things that the same objects which are highly useful in their season, measure, and degree, become mischievous in their excess, at other periods, and under other circumstances. In a state of barbarism, the arts are among the best reformers; and they go on to be improved themselves, and improving those who cultivate them, till, having reached a certain point, those very arts which were the instruments of civilization and refinement, become instruments of corruption and decay; enervating and depraving in the second instance as certainly as they refined in the first. They become agents of voluptuousness. They excite the imagination; and the imagination thus excited, and no longer under the government of strict principle, becomes the most dangerous stimulant of the passions; promotes a too keen relish for pleasure, teaching how to multiply its sources, and inventing new and pernicious modes of artificial gratification. May we not rank among their present corrupt consequences, the unchaste costume, the impure style of dress, and that indelicate statue-like exhibition of the female figure, which by its artfully disposed folds, its wet and adhesive drapery, so defines the form as to prevent covering itself from becoming a veil This licentious mode, as the acute Montesquieu observed on the dances of the Spartan virgins, has taught us “to strip chastity itself of modesty.” May the author be allowed to address to our own country and our own circumstances, to both of which they seem peculiarly applicable, the spirit of that beautiful apostrophe of the most polished poet of antiquity to the most victorious nation ?. “Let us leave to the inhabitants of conquered countries the praise of carrying to the very highest degree of perfection, sculpture and the sister arts; but let this country direct her own exertions to the art of governing mankind in equity and peace, of showing mercy
to the submissive, and of abasing the proud among *. rounding nations.” " ; "
-o- - CHAPTER III.
External improvement.—Children's Balls.-French Governesses,
LET me not however be misunderstood. The customs which fashion has established, when not in direct opposition to what is right, should unquestionably be pursued in the education of ladies. Piety maintains no natural war with elegance, and Christianity would be no gainer by making her disciples unamiable. Religion does not forbid, that the exterior be made to a certain degree the object of attention. But the admiration bestowed, the sums expended, and the time lavished on arts which add little to the intrinsic value of life, should have limitations. While these arts should be admired, let them not be admired above their just value: while they are practised, let it not be to the exclusion of higher employments : while they are cultivated, let it be to amuse leisure, but not to engross life. But it happens unfortunately, that to ordinary observers, the girl who is really receiving the worst education osten makes the best figure. The outward accomplishments have the dangerous advantage of addressing themselves more immediately to the senses, and of course meet every where with those who can in some measure appreciate, as well as admire them ; for all can see and hear, but all.
* Let me not be suspected of bringing into any sort of comparison the gentleness of British government with i. rapacity of Roman conquests, or the principles of Roman dominion. To spoil, to butcher, and to commit every kind of violence, they call, says one of the ablest of their historians, by the lying name of government, and when they have spread a general desolation o call it peace. (1) (1) Tacitus' Life of Agricola, speech of Galgaeus to his Soldiers. With such dictatorial, or, as we might now read directorial inquisitors, we can have no point of contact; and if I have applied the servile flattery of a delightful poet to the purpose of English happiness, it was only to shew wherein true national grandeur consists, and that every country pays too deat a price for those arts and embellishments of society which eudanger the loss of its morals and manners.