페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

by difficulties. Confine a boy to the nursery; train him as you will, you may render him effeminate, in some de. gree, but the aetive body and the enterprising mind will constantly proclaim the sex to which he belongs. Domestic life is not his theatre of action ; thither he retires for solace amusement and repose. Is this the character of woman ? Her form is slight and small : she is comparatively weak; she is timorous, sensitive, and affectionate; she is indeed patient in suffering, and has fortitude when exertion becomes necessary: but she shrinks from danger, and does not wilfully court its horrors. Is such a being fitted to endure the rude shocks of public turmoil ? Can she confront the hourly gaze of the multitude ?-Is she fitted to roam over the world : to contend for right and power? By no means; retirement is her element, domestic and social life is her proper sphere.

If these things be so, if the native qualities of the sexes unequivocally assign them to different posts ; we then ask, ought they to be educated in all respects alike ? Certainly not. We might as well say, that the physician should be profoundly versed in law, or the mechanic understand Hebrew. In the duties of daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, women are to be employed; for the exercise of these em. ployments they are to be qualified. To be able to discharge them with honour to themselves, and with usefulness to their connexions, is no mean attainment. Much and careful training is indispensably necessary; but the experience of ages, in thousands of instances, has proved, that Greek and Latin may well be spared. What’use could women make of Greek or Latin ? what advantage would they

confer upon them? They are not to be practitioners of those arts which require a knowledge of terms borrowed from ancient writers. Women are seldom professed authoresses, and even should they enjoy this rare distinction, the range of English literature is wide enough, to afford them every necessary aid, without exploring the libraries of Greece or Rome. These languages are not the medium of communication in this country, and therefore they are not necessary to enable either sex to understand, or to bear their part in conversation. Women are not emploped in the classical education of youth, but it may be alleged, that some knowledge of the ancient languages would assist them in performing a duty which devolves upon themthe superintendence of the early education of their sons; and we are ready to admit that the labour of the mother would be somewhat relieved by an acquaintance with the lessons committed to her children. But this argument has less weight, if it be considered that by the mode of education which has of late become fashionable, the labour which properly belongs to the teacher, is most unjustifiably cast upon the parent; so that reform should begin in another quarter. Mothers—from whom we have heard innumerable complaints of the grievance to which they are subjected—will readily perceive that we allude to the practice of requiring children to perform at home what ought to be done in the school.

It is a fact, not admitting of dispute, that if the order, which should be observed in a school were strictly maintained, the pupils would there study their lessons with more advantage, than it can be done in the ease and freedom of

home. Under the present system, the teacher has the comparatively pleasant task of merely listening to the recitation, while all the trouble of confining the careless child's attention to his lesson is transferred to the poor mother, who, without this addition, has sufficient occupation for her time. Besides, exercise being absolutely essential to the health, particularly of children, they ought to be at leisure to take it in the intervals of school hours. These remarks being applicable to boys at college, as well as to their juniors, whether girls or boys, we set aside the plea, on this score, for ladies learning Greek or Latin. The amateurs in the lore of the ancients have, indeed, excited our imaginations by the most florid accounts of the beauty and wisdom contained in their writings; treasures which, they say, are not to be conveyed in translations. They may probably be right, but probably too the best of the works in question are well enough rendered to gratify the curiosity, or inform the minds of women. By the by, Mr. Editor, how many of our lawyers and physicians know any thing of these works in any other way? They tell us too, that we cannot obtain a just acquaintance with our own language, without a knowledge of these elegant originals; but whilst our hearts are enraptured in perusing the works of a thousand accomplished authors in our own tongue, we think we fully comprehend their meaning, and stop not to ask whether we should acquire any new ideas, were we acquainted with the roots from which their words are derived.

Let it not be imagined that we are enemies to the language of Fomer or Virgil, or even that we think lightly of

a

their value. We commend, not only them, but the whole circle of science, to every man to whom they can be useful. We are merely contending, that they are not necessary to the fulfilment of a woman's duties ; nor would they add to the graces of her conversation-consequently, they are not essential to her complete education. But suppose we admit the affirmative, we have still an unanswerable objection. Where, we ask, is the time in which a female could master the proposed object? She issent to school at about eight years of age, and remains there till she is fourteen or fifteen, In these few years she is taught writing, grammar, geography, history dancing, and various other things. In music and painting, she may continue her lessons somewhat longer. Is she perfect in any of these accomplishments ? It is well known, that with even the best teachers girls, when they leave their schools, are superficial in them all-except it be dancing—for this is an art so congenial to youth, that it requires no labour to acquire it. Instead then, of pursuing those studies at home, of which the foundation is but laid, she soon enters into the spirit of fashion; and company and dress leave her no hour for books; or if she should not be wholly absorbed, she must now give some time to employments that are peculiarly her province. She must learn to sew and keep house; for these mysteries, which, in the time of our grandmothers, constituted the summum bonum of a woman's character, cannot be entire ly neglected. They force themselves upon us, receive them with what mind we may. Now the young lady marries, and care rises upon care. If, from that day, she can gratify a predominating inclination, by stealing an hour to

look over a book, it is because the inclination does predominate, that she redeems the time. Boys, who study the languages, remain at school several years beyond the period allowed to girls, yet the graduate, after all, is but an indifferent linguist; he is, indeed, but a tyro; and unless his subsequent pursuits should lead to an improvement of his stock, he soon loses the little he had gained. Knowledge is of so evanescent a nature, that unless it is kept in exercise it disappears. Very few memories are so happy as to retain that which is not in daily use. Ask the merchant who has been but a few years engaged in the toils of the counting-house, if he can construe a page of his Greek Testament: he will answer in the negative. Perhaps thèse high-minded ladies with whom we are at issue, have, indulged in some crude notions of a capacity to do what men have not been able to perform. We are not amongst those who believe in the natural inferiority of our mental powers. An equal degree of cultivation, would probably prove, that there is no great inequality in this respect, between the sexes; but we have shown that this test can never be applied to the extent necessary to decide the question.

There always have been, and there are now existing, women, learned in the languages, but they are one in ten thousand, enjoying advantages that fall to the lot of but few. They are unembarrassed with the cares of a family, either by the abundance of their wealth or by the “single state of blessedness" in which they have remained. Now, if a young lady has fortitude to encounter the world's scorn, and can resolve to put on that deprecated character, “ an old

« 이전계속 »