« НазадПродовжити »
man are appointed the labors and dangers of the chase, the toils of the field, the perils of the ocean. There is to correspond to that robuster form, a corresponding energy, enterprize, and courage. To woman the care of home, the preparation of food, the making of clothing, the nursing and education of children. To her is given in larger measure sensibility, tenderness, patience. And the instinctive taste and discrimination of each sex is the best criterion of what the other ought to be. What are those qualities which irresistibly captivate the heart of woman? Those precisely in which she is excelled by man. She feels herself weak and timid. She needs a protector. Strength and courage are therefore indispensable requisites in the other
She is in a measure dependent. She asks for wisdom, constancy, firmness, perseverance, and she is willing to repay it all by the surrender of the full treasure of her affections. Woman despises in man every thing like herself except a tender heart. It is enough that she is effeminate and weak; she does not want another like herself. Just so with man. Any approach to his own peculiar characteristics in the opposite sex is
odious and disgusting. He is subdued not by strength but by tenderness, not by boldness but by reserve. These instincts are the unerring guide of what both man and woman ought to be. In each others' hearts therefore are inscribed, as in a tablet, the laws which should govern their respective conduct; they are the mirror in which they should behold the perfection to which they are to aspire. They are thus formed by opposition and correspondence of tastes to take a higher delight in each other's society than they can do in that of their own sex. They are thus made indispensable to each other's happiness in every way. Were all women, they would be miserable indeed; and were all men, they would be no less so. Not only does their mutual society minister to their happiness, but likewise to their moral improvement, for they are born with a mutual desire to please each other.
This is a fact, which I have never seen noticed by any writer on the moral constitution of man, the instinctive reverence which the two sexes have for each other above and beyond that which they cherish for their own. It is a sort of human religion. The
human soul, made after the similitude of God, has ever a sort of Divinity about it. The presence of one of our own sex is a quickener of the conscience, is a moral restraint, and is so far a perpetual discipline to the conduct. But with this reverence there is toward the other sex an instinctive desire to please. Here then is a two-fold power. No man ever felt in the presence of a man the same awe and restraint that he feels in the presence of a woman; and no woman is ever so much put on her good behaviour before one of her own sex as she is in the presence of a man. Here then is an immense moral influence which the sexes are perpetually exerting upon each other, and in the aggregate its effects must be beyond all estimate. Nothing can be wiser then, than that arrangement of society, which God has established, where the sexes associate freely together. Hence also the deterioration and corruption of every form of society which separates either into a community by themselves.
And here let me say a word to those parents, who from a dread of the evils of society imagine that their daughters will be
more safe from being kept in entire seclusion, that their sentiments will be more correct, and their judgments more unperverted. Nothing can be more mistaken. No part of education is more important to the youth of the more secluded sex than the society of the other of her own age. It is by this association alone that she acquires that insight into character, which is almost her only defence. For this perception of character she has a greater aptitude than the other sex.
It seems to be provided to compensate her for her want of opportunity to mingle largely with the world. She is wronged instead of benefited then, by being shut up from society at that period of life when her peculiar talent may be most advantageously cultivated. Who is the best merchant? He who has the best knowledge of the particular merchandize in which he deals. There is no way to become a merchant except by perpetual examination and comparison of the things to be bought and sold. Theoretical knowledge may do some good, reading may serve to prepare the mind to observe, but there is no substitute for experience. Just so, if man or woman would know the
world, I mean in the sense of becoming truly wise, not cunning, and calculating, and selfish, there is no other way but to mingle with the world. And no being is more utterly helpless than a woman thrown into the world without any knowledge of it. Without this she is in perpetual danger of becoming the victim of her susceptible imagination, and her generous impulses. There is quite as much danger therefore in secluding young women from society, as in permitting them to become absorbed in it, and lost to every thing else.
Besides the knowledge which is acquired by the early association of the sexes, the mutual reverence and desire to please, which is implanted in the bosom of each, becomes the school of discipline for the moral sentiments of both. The strong desire to appear in the eyes of the other sex all that their common moral sentiments demand in order to be an object of esteem, renders it impossible that they should not desire to be in reality all that they would wish to appear. They are likely to come to the conclusion that hypocrisy costs more than actual goodness, and so are constrained to strive after