Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

FENELON

ON FEMALE EDUCATION.

CHAPTER I.

On the Importance of the Education of

Daughters. The Education of Girls is, in general, exceedingly neglected : * custom, and maternal caprice, often appear to have the entire regulation of it. It absolutely seems as if we

* It must be remembered that the above sentiment was expressed in the year 1688, when the want of a good system of female education was universally felt and regretted. At the present day, we witness a noble reverse of things; and whatever theories may have been proposed abroad, we can never cease to admire the labours, and applaud the sagacity, of our countrywomen in behalf

of their sex.

B

supposed the sex to be in need of little or no instruction. On the other hand, the Education of Boys is considered as a very important concern, affecting the welfare of the public ; and although it be frequently attended with errors and mistakes, great abilities are nevertheless thought necessary for the accomplishment of it. The brightest talents have been engaged to form plans and modes of instruction :What numbers of masters and colleges do we behold? What expences incurred in the printing of books, in researches after science, in modes of teaching languages, in the establishment of professors ? All these grand preparations may probably have more shew than substance, but they sufficiently denote the high idea we entertain of the education

of Boys. In regard to Girls, some exclaim, “why make them learned? curiosity renders them vain and conceited: it is sufficient if they be one day able to govern their families, and implicitly obey their husbands!” Examples are then adduced of many women whom science has rendered ridiculous; and on such contemptible authority we think ourselves justified in blindly abandoning our daughters to the conduct of ignorant and indiscreet mothers.

It is true, that we should be on our guard not to make them ridiculously learned. Women, in general, possess a weaker but more inquisitive mind than men; hence it follows that their pursuits should be of a quiet and sober turn. They are not formed to govern the state, to make war, or to enter into the church; so

4

that they may well dispense with
any profound knowledge relating to
politics, military tactics, philosophy,
and theology. The greater part of
the mechanical arts are also improper
for them : they are made for mode-
rate exercise ; their bodies as well
as minds are less strong and energetic
than those of men ; but to compen-
sate for their defects, nature has
bestowed on them a spirit of in-
'dustry, united with a propriety of
behaviour, and an economy which
renders them at once the ornament
and comfort of home. *

* This idea is beautifully expressed in the following

lines of THOMSON:

“ To give society its highest taste,
Well-ordered home man's best delight to make;
And by submissive wisdom, modest skill,
With every gentle care-eluding art
To raise the virtues, animate the bliss,
And sweeten all the toils of human life :
This be the female dignity and praise !"

Autumn, ver. 602-608.

« НазадПродовжити »